View Full Version : Issue #2: I Love Treason, But Hate a Traitor.

11th of July, 2004, 12:55
The Centinel Building, New York City.
Main Conference Room.
4:07 pm, January 14th 2010.

The Debriefing

Just over 28 hours after she last held a meeting like this, Alicia Stone walks confidently in front of the assembled Centinels, but oh what a difference a day makes. One man missing and another added to the roster, two absent from the meeting with injuries, but listening in on specially rigged speakers.

Wreck sprawls on two seats, nursing the various bruises and scuffs he acquired in yesterday’s fight. Two bottles of Jager and a followup of malt whisky haven’t been able to cleanse the revolting oil slick taste that Viscid left in his throat, and he hooeek-ptooie’s into a wastepaper bin every few minutes. He’s been too busy to give the drinking and womanising a real go, though - maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow. That ten grand is burning a hole in his pocket... If only the damn Foundation medics and techs would stop prodding him and trying to take readings.

The Mechanic hunches over a laptop, reading up on the drone’s specifications before he begins to dismantle it. Currently, it sits in his workshop at RisSun ApTech, waiting patiently. He can almost feel his mouth water in anticipation.

Quantum looks up from Time. So, President Kerry lost the 2008 elections... some guy called Darringly’s in the Oval Office, now. Vice-president is Annette Norton, which is nice. Quantum remembers voting for her on Who Wants To Be A Senator? back before the accident. Man, that girl could sing... very important for a statesperson, these days.

Bolt and Osprey share a room in the Foundation’s medical wing, for now. Both have seen better days.

“Gentlemen, “ Stone intones. “Hardly an unqualified success, but... it could have been much worse.”

She beings to run through the fallout from yesterday’s festivities. “Our public relations group is in full swing, controlling the flow of information regarding the raid... I think we have enough material to work with that we will all come out of this fine. The car crash can be glossed over... and what’s more, you successfully interdicted a large shipment of highly dangerous weapons, stopping them from reaching the streets.” She favours you all with a thin, approving smile.

“More importantly, we’ve gained valuable insights into our enemies.” Information begins to scroll up the screen behind her.

“Viscid is, simply, a mercenary. Albeit a competent one. He made his living as a safecracker and vaultbreaker, flowing into sealed chambers and opening them form the inside, but now he’s hired muscle. So far, we haven’t found any trace of him at the warehouse or anywhere else in the city; most likely, he’s gone into hiding to recuperate and wait for the interest in his whereabouts to die down. The source of his transformation is unknown, but we’ve found a weakness that you may be able to exploit if he resurfaces: chlorine. If he’s exposed to it, it integrates... harmfully with his fluidic biochemistry.”

“Actinic is an unknown. She’s never come to our attention before. We know her name is Lara Hawkins, and we’re looking into her background. I’m assured that she is being cared for by our best medics, though, and will be rehabilitated as best we can manage. Now...”

The broad, ugly face of the East European teleporter appears on screen repeatedly. Here, he gets out a military limo in a grimy city along with a pair of Bosnia militia leaders. There, some kind of meeting with Chinese officers. Selling guns to fierce looking African guerrillas in a burned-looking jungle clearing.

“The ‘Port is a smuggler, and a very dangerous one. His name is Pieter Loschvuld, date and place of birth unknown... no-one’s even sure what nationality he is. He first came to the Vigilance Commission’s attention when he began providing arms and transportation to a certain very unpleasant Slovakian warlord named Klemek. His involvement in wars and troublespots all over the world is... extensive. Whoever hired him - and we’re certain someone did; he rarely enacts plans of his own volition - must have substantial resources; Loschvuld’s services never come cheaply. That he’s involved explains how those military drones and all the other weapons stockpiles got into the city without alerting any authorities... and makes the task of intercepting them that much harder.”

“I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know that Mr. O’Malley and his associates are in holding awaiting a list of very substantial charges.”

Stone sighs and adjusts her glasses. “I think you should all be satisfied with what you’ve accomplished, but be ready to do better next time. For now, the Foundation is going to attempt to analyse the intelligence we’ve gathered, and deduce who is behind this, their objectives, and how they can be counteracted. We’ve made arrangements to fulfill the deals we made with you, regarding remuneration and so forth; I’m sure you’ll be satisfied.”

“When we know more, we’ll be in touch. Please, keep your communicators close at hand. In the mean time, our medical, training and archive facilities are open to you. Thank you.”

And that’s that.

11th of July, 2004, 12:56
The Centinel Building, New York City.
OnSite Medical Facility.
10:10 am, January 15th 2010.


Dr. MacClough steps back from the MRI screen, and flicks the image up onto the screen. A semi-colour, threeDee map of your body from knees to shoulders appears. The hovering, rotating, translucent image of your package makes you rather glad that you and the Centinel’s staff doctor are the only ones in the examination room... and that MacClough wasn’t quite so flamboyantly gay.

Looking at your internal organs is never a happiness-inducing sight, especially when they’re so... messed up. The tissues around your intestines are swollen and distorted, and there’s a small, white sphere on the MRI. You grimace... every move tells you that it’s inside. The silver locket bounces on your chest. You felt more bereft than ever when you were forced to take it off before stepping into the MRI - and it was as cold as ice when you redonned it.

“You’re pretty lucky, all things considered.” MacClough flicks through a clipboard. “Looks like what this guy did... the ‘Port, was it? Lame name... What he did was teleport a ceramic bearing, ‘bout one centimeter across, into you.” The doctor looks up, grinning. “You should probably be thankful it didn’t actually intersect or try to collocate with any of your atoms, just pushed them aside, sort of... if it had, there would have been a, oh, two, three kiloton blast. Heck, if it’d even appeared in an artery, instead...”

His bedside matter fucking sucks. You mentally upbraid yourself for the swearing; Elizabeth used to hate it when you cussed. That doesn’t make you feel any better.

The morning after the godawful mess in the warehouse, the bruising set in. It was awesomely horrible. It looked like you were pregnant with a bouncing baby hematoma on the way, your stomach bloated and totally black and purple. Or that you’d had a big all-you-can-eat meal at the Steak Shack, and then gone a few rounds in the ring as Wreck practiced his low-blows. The thought of even trying to do a sit-up made you want to throw up.

MacClough stops grinning, and looks back at the MRI image. “Um. I guess, if you really want, we could put you in for surgery and get the bearing removed... but honestly, I don’t think that’d be worth your time. I mean, it’s right inside you, so we wouldn’t be able to go in via keyhole or layersect. Plus, it’s not going to get infected or anything, or harm you in any way. What I recommend, well, what I’m gonna do, is put you on a big course of anticoagulants, anti-inflammatory, painkillers and contusion reductors. And, obviously, you’ll want to take it easy for a while...” He raises his eyebrows, waiting for your input.


“Aie! Stupid kid. What did I tell you about not standing in the way of speeding bullets?”

Your teeth glint like the shards of pink pearls in the little glass jar next to your bed as the late morning sunlight stains in through the blinds. As always, your tongue plays over the empty sockets in the front of your mouth. The bullet wound is actually less painful and inconvenient; luckily, your armour incorporates a spider-silk weave, so the surgeons could remove the slug by simply pulling the threads that had got tangled around it. The hole is plugged with organic plastics, a scaffold for bone, muscle and skin to regrow over, and laced with slow-release anesthetics. So in that respect, you feel pretty good.

On the other hand, nothing the doctors can provide will stop that simmering, sickening feeling of defeat and worthlessness. What good are you to the other Centinels? Do you even deserve to be on the roster? Your nowhere near the league of Bolt or Wreck....let alone the Flash or Superman. Eh, bad example. Superman had ethics... and Wreck’s no boyscout. No heatvision, either. All you managed to do in the warehouse was get in everybody’s way and bleed on Jerry O’Malley’s handmade Italian shoes a bit.

The Foundation came for you at some point when you were out of your mind on drugs and pain in the hospital. Apparently, they had you relocated and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Well, the medical facilities here seem top of the line, so maybe that’s not a bad thing. No medical fees, and apparently the staff dentist took a cast of your mouth while the surgeons were operating on the gunshot wound, and you’re supposed to have some false teeth fitted later today.

At the voice, you look up. Shuffling in behind a big bag of cotton candy, a balloon-on-a-stick and his cane is the withered, grubby-looking form of master Fong. “No, this not for you, kid,” he says, seeing your dubious eyes on the bag of candy. “You gotta take care of your teeth, eh?” He grins, exposing his gnarled, coffee- and nicotine-stained pegs.

Fong hops up onto a stool next to your bed, and holds out the GET WELL SOON balloon. “THIS for you!”


“Whaddyou MEAN she ain’t here?”

Wreck isn’t used to people holding out on him when he uses his Big Boy Voice. The receptionist cowers back, but repeats himself:

“I’m sorry sir... but I can’t confirm or deny whether this ‘Actinic’ is here or not... maybe if you spoke to the Administrator...”

Last time you saw, the girl was being driven off in a Centinel ambulance, and a quick check of all the major hospitals in New York yesterday proved she wasn’t in any of them. So, she’s gotta be here, in the Centinel Building. If only people would stop making things so complex for you...


It’s been an interesting day. More so than yesterday; Miss Stone, your new boss, apparently, was blandly helpful in telling you anything you wanted to know that she wanted you to know. About the arms deal, the bad folks you saw at the big fight, and about the team you’ve ‘volunteered’ for. Osprey didn’t have a whole lot to say for or about himself, being half-out on drugs and unwilling to open his mouth much. Bolt was at least able to fill in some of the details of the team from his hospital bed. The Mechanic, you haven’t had a chance to meet yet - he took off after the debriefing with one of those drones and a manic gleam in his eye.

This morning, you worked out with Wreck - well, stared in alarm as he lifted a pair of depleted uranium weights the size of dumptruck tires without too much effort. Tonight, he’s promised to show you some place called the Pink Pussycat - a name, he assured you, that is totally non-figurative.

Right now, your watching him give some poor schumck the third degree. You were able to see the wounded Centinels earlier, and your looking forward to catching up on some more history of the time you’ve missed. So long as the meathammer doesn’t bring this place down in a tantrum.

11th of July, 2004, 12:57
Rising Sun Applied Technologies, New York City.
Mr. Thomas’ Private Workshop.
10:10 am, January 15th 2010.

The Mechanic

Tuneless whistling emerges from behind the pile of components. A discarded drive shaft. A section of curved plating. A bulky, khaki battery. Rotors...Lockheed-Martin. Weapons... Samarkand MiliTech. Software...Katsuhama. Hull... EisenWerks. Yeah, its as you suspected. The drone is a vanilla, U.S.Army base patrol model, made by global contractors, assembled in Oklahoma - according to the serial number, stolen from a base in Kenya a year ago.

It’s the laptop that’s got you worried. About an hour after you first logged on to it, a hidden program called deathbeforedishonour.exe started running, and did a very professional job of purging the hard disk. Clearly, your skilled was no amateur. From what little was left, you’ve been able to piece together a little information. The drone-interface programs on the laptop definitely had Rising Sun software fingerprints on them. And, to be honest, they were beautiful bits of digital art. Not a line of code out of place, as sleek and efficient as a katana. As far as you can tell, it might even have been written and compiled on one of the computers in this building! Right under your nose! How utterly frustrating, and disturbing. Is there a mercenary hacker, or even a criminal, in your company?

Your personal assistant Keith Halwin and VP Kenneth Whyte waged their usual battle with you yesterday; Halwin trying to handle every crisis himself and keep your inbox pristine and empty, Whyte trying to force you to take a more involved role in the business decisions of the company. Documents were forwards and retracted like nobodies business.

As you sit and brood, fiddling with some accounts that Whyte patiently explained were vital to the corporation, the two-way plasma screen that dominates one wall of your cluttered office-cum-workshop flicks on, bypassing the usual caller screening mode.

Her glossy, dark hair sticking up from under her bandanna at odd angles, Chyler grins brightly down at you. From the look of the workshop behind her, she’s still working out the bugs on the new high-efficiency hydrogen engines that GeneralMotors/Hyundai ordered last month. The young, half-Filipino woman sweeps the cloth off her hair and shakes it free, then adjusts the off-centre camera.

“Rob, hi! She sounds cheerful and looks great. “How’s the autopsy going?” she teases you as she surveys the dismantled war machine.

“Hey, if you’re not to busy, me and some of the crew were going down to Oldburghs’ for an early lunch... you could come with, and we could toast your success.” She winks conspiratorially, acknowledging the open secret of your identity as the Mechanic. Hell, half the people in your company helped with designing, assembling and testing your gadgets. You haven’t had a chance to tell anyone what really happened, thus far, so she must be going off media reports, which the Foundation has engineered into a glowing victory of justice over terrorism.

11th of July, 2004, 13:35
Quantum sits at a sparse desk, with a variety of objects scattered across its surface. His face is lined with a frown of concentration, and he occasionally mutters a curse. In one hand, he has the communicator he was given just yesterday, with his thumb fiddling with a pair of buttons. His other hand holds the communicator's user-manual open, though it seems like the contents were written in Brazil by a dyslexic Japanese man trying desperately to translate them into Swahili.

Giving up in frustration, he clips the device back onto his left ear -- Alicia did stress that he needs to keep it on -- and tosses the manual aside. Sliding a laptop back to within easy reach, he pulls up a news site, scanning the contents quickly. Half of it makes no sense to him, but he didn't really follow the news too well back when he was...

Normal. It's hard to think of it any other way.

Closing the laptop, he gives the other items on the desk a quick once-over. A trio of physics books, brought in from the labs downstairs. They're no help. A pen, levitating over its holder by some trick of magnetism. No clue. One of those annoying little five-ball clacky-toys that sinister corporate executives keep on their desks in the movies. Some wit included a Post-It™ note with "E=mc²: Not just a good idea; it's the law!" on it.

Everyone else at least has an idea of how they can do their thing. The Mechanic's smarter than anyone he's ever heard of; Bolt is just so fast that anything else is secondary. Wreck? Hell, you get that strong and tough, it's no wonder the rules stop applying. And Osprey... well, he's not sure about Osprey yet -- just that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. No doubt he's got some trick up his sleeve that'll make everyone else look like Plastic-Man.

Speaking of which...

He starts to reach for his communicator, then stops, sure that he'd end up paging everyone in Poughkeepsie instead. He steps out of his assigned room and makes his way to Alicia Stone's office.

13th of July, 2004, 08:18
Looking down at his bruised and swollen stomach, Ryan sighs as he holds the precious silver locket with his hand, as if making sure that its still there. He didn't like taking it off even for a few minutes, it almost seem like a betrayal of sorts. He would never forgive himself if he lost it.

He sighs again half listening to the doctor, he actually had a good day yesterday. Regardless of the fact that he got hurt, not that it mattered much, it was almost like he felt needed again, he missed that more then he even realised but yet the guilt and depression were back again. Waiting, always waiting, always on the fringe of his mind. A blackness that would swallow him whole and never let him see the light of day again if he let it.

Pain brings him out of his thoughts, he had been gripping the locket so hard that it cut into his skin. He could feel a few drops of blood on his hand as he let go of the locket and forces himself to concentrate more on the doctor.

Sure doc, what ever you think is best. How long am I going to look like this? He says gesturing to his stomach.

13th of July, 2004, 09:25
The Mechanic

"Hey Chyler." Rob replies hardly glancing up from the parts of the drone strewn around him and on his various workbenches. "Um... Food... That sounds good... hey do you know... oh.." as he glances at the time.... then the date, abruptly realizing he's been working on the drone and the computer for the better part of 16 hours, without stopping to eat or rest.

"Yeah... food... I think I can manage that." he says with a sheepish grin on his face as his stomach growls loudly... managing to pick up over the speakers in the transmission. Yeah... food.. then I should probably rest some... the gear will still be here when I'm fresh. Plus Chyler might have some insights to what was going on, might think of something I didn't.

"So, Oldburghs huh? I'll see you there in a bit. I'll just put some of these," he gestures at the HF Cutter and many of the laser welders and various other tools strewn around the room, "away, and be down there... Are we just all meeting at the bar? Or do we have a table."

He shortly completes the tasks of putting his tools away... but he can't quite leave all his work. Picking up his Palm device, and shorly thereafter the computer that he confiscated from the villians the other day he makes his way to his car and is shortly on his way to Oldburghs.

14th of July, 2004, 14:52
The Mechanic

Just before you pull your car into the parking spot, you catch a glimpse of something up on the roof of a nearby building. But, you learned your lesson yesterday - and keep your eyes firmly on the road. The aching bruise on your skull taught you that much. Stepping quickly out of the parked vehicle, you look around, but whatever it was - something big, gunmetal or red-brown coloured? - has gone. Shaking your head, a little uneasily, you hurry off for your early lunch break.

The bar and eatery favoured by most of the engineers, designers and managers of Rising Sun is a pleasant place that achieves a kind of European taste and culture and ambiance without really trying, and certainly without going gauchely over-the-top. As you enter the low-lit interior, the smell sweet tobacco smoke rolling from the pipe of an elderly chap at the bar, the woodsmoke from the banked fireplace, the aroma of roasting meat and fresh vegetables wafting from the kitchen and the undertone of quality beverages. You’re still not sure what kind of pull Oldburgh’s owner has with the city Public Health Council that he managed to get an exception to New York’s smoking ban for his bar. The wood paneling muffles the busy noises of the industrial park and traffic outside.

Looking around the empty set of tables and mostly empty barstools, you catch sight of your co-workers at a table in the back of the room. Chyler and Stephen, from Human Resources, half stand and wave at you. The other three have their backs to you, drinking LoAlk wine and laughing.

14th of July, 2004, 15:22

As you fumble painfully back into your shirt, the doctor makes some quick annotations to his digital notepad in a sweeping hand.

“How long? Oh, I think you’ll see it start to heal in a couple of weeks. Until then, you’ll want to avoid anything to strenuous... any exercise heavier that walking, soyou might wanna keep your speed under, say, 50 kph; sex; brawling obviously...” He smiles disarmingly.

You close your hand around the locket, so as not to let the doctor see the blood as he ushers you to the door. If he did, he might try and treat that too, and right now you want to get out of here. As the door closes, Dr. MacClough promises that he’ll have the necessary prescription drugs sent to you.

14th of July, 2004, 15:50

Making your way through the massive Centinel Building, you have to ask for directions a couple of times. Everyone’s pretty respectful, too: seems they know you’re one of the front line guys, now.

The place is big, bustling with activity on levels you can’t begin to comprehend yet. People do arcane things on computers in a dozen rooms; boxfiles are carried around on wheelietrays, some going to Archives, some going to the shredders. Admin offices and the cafeteria buzz with conversation, both everyday, the kind you’d hear around any water-cooler in corporate America, others discussing combat techniques, the latest weapon systems and the parahuman dimension of biophysics. Despite this, the constant plastic, glass, chrome steel and synthetic carpet feel of the place is starting to drag on you - it comes to mind that you haven’t seen a real, live plant since they woke you up.

Eventually, you go up quite few levels in the lift and arrive on the executive level. At the end of a hall is a faux oak door with a faux brass plate reading:

foundation representative

15th of July, 2004, 05:47
Once outside Ryan will cover the small cut on his hand with his other thumb until the bleeding stops.

I'm going to look like this for a couple of weeks? And nothing faster then 50 K?Ryan thinks to himself heading slowly towards his quarters.* You can't even outrun a car at that speed.

Ryan makes his was to his quarters without saying anything to anyone. He enters without turning the lights on, the window is providing enough light for him to navigate by. He carefully lays down on his bed and thinks of the fight, what he did wrong, what he could do to correct his mistakes, he also thinks of Elizabeth of course. He quickly falls asleep.

His dream wakes him up, it's always the same dream. The night that she was murdered, but something was different about it this time. This time for a fraction of a second instead of Elizabeth it was someone else, but he couldn't remember who. Ryan tries to capture the dream but it fades out before he can recall anyting clearly. He shakes his head to clear away the cobwebs and looks over at the clock, he has been asleep for several hours.

She's probably working now. He thinks as he slowly leans over and grabs the phone and dials a number.

Yes, may I speak to Trisha Ling please...

*I am assuming that we have some sort of living space set up somewhere in the building.

15th of July, 2004, 06:10
Quantum lets himself into Ms. Stone's office, reasoning that the risks he and the others had gone through should at least give them the benefit of access to their handlers. Inevitably, he's asked to wait -- like any government or corporate facility, a great number of people have "doorstop" in their job title.

Once he gets an audience with his local Foundation Rep (whatever that is), he asks one simple, straightforward question:

"Going under the assumption that we're supposed to be representing the Centinels, and working together as a team, wouldn't it make sense that we have some sort of uniform? Even if it's just a similar color-scheme or a badge or the like, it might help all of us if we have a visible identity, rather than just running around in our civvies."

Once he has an answer -- even if it's just "we'll look into it" -- he makes his way back downstairs. Time to get everyone together and do something that doesn't involve beating up on people or getting shot at.

15th of July, 2004, 06:25
The Mechanic

Rob smiles as he sees a couple of his staff at the table waving for him to join them... A quick stop to see his friend Charlie at the bar and he's on his way to join them.. a tall glass of water in his hand and his order from the "Secret menu" for the barmans' friends on it's way back to the kitchen.
Ahh... the benefits of being a regular. He thinks as he pulls a chair out from the table and sits with the others.

"Hey folks... Good to see you." he says, a broad smile on his face. "I take it those reccomendations on the new engine design are working out all right? How are the initial tests looking?" he asks his crew... the familiar look in his eye of gears and components flying together in new and differing combinations just behind his eyes.

Setting the semi-forgotten laptop on the table next to him he listens intently to the conversations around him. Enjoying the camaraderie and the free-flow exchange of ideas. I'll have to make sure I try and join them more often for these things.... I've missed this. Pulling a small sketch pad out from his pocket and a pencil, he sketches and makes notes on various new tools, he'd though of in his time with the Centinels crew.

Thinking of them a chill runs down his spine... the SWAT-like team and the "Reptilian" man have been causing him some nervousness... also concern over the injured members of his team. I'll have to call in... make sure Osprey and Bolt are recovering alright... maybe check on that Actinic girl. Not to mention finding out who that guy was with the clean-up squad last night... He's got me worried.

Putting those thoughts aside he puts himself back in the moment with his associates at the table.

15th of July, 2004, 18:53

The room, though large and comfortable, smells of preservatives and is bleakly empty... perhaps it’s no wonder you have such troubling, depersonalizing dreams.

The phone hums in your ear. As tired as you are, it’s almost more than you can manage to fast talk your way through the electronic reception desk at the CrossMedia newspapers section. You manage it, though...

“This is Trisha.” Pause. “Bol- Mr. San- Ryan? Is that you?”

15th of July, 2004, 18:53

You’re not entirely sure what you were expecting as you finally enter Stone’s office, but she certainly shapes her environment to herself. It is, of course, immaculately, even obsessively clean and tidy - the leather swivel chairs on either side of the sleek walnut desk gleam darkly and dustlessly. The circular, pebbled glass window allows light in while reducing the skyline to a blur of gray and blue. A tiny, sophisticated computer is built discreetly into the desktop, and Alicia Stone is entering data on the keyboard as you step gingerly on the spotless carpet. As soon as she looks away form the monitor it slides invisibly into the desk, leaving it bare except for a pile of documents. No Newton’s Cradle executive toy here, you note. Books of law, management theory, history and psychology line the chrome and oak shelves behind her.

The only personal touch in the entire room is a bonsai tree just under the window, sitting on a ceramic tray carefully calligraphied with Chinese or Japanese letters. Next to this, a plainly framed picture shows a grinning man in police uniform in black and white.

The room feels cold, impersonal - work is done here, not fun, it declares in every line - and Ms. Stone’s blue eyes do nothing to dissuade you from that conclusion.

“Mr. Forrester, good morning. I’m glad to have a chance to meet you, particularly given that your assignment to the team was so abrupt. How can I be of assistance?”

You offer your sartorial opinions, and she shakes her head. “Your team does not, and will never, be a disciplined, paramilitary team.” She sounds mildly amused. “A uniform would make you easier targets, and diminish the greatest advantage you have: your diversity and individual prowess. If I may use an cogent simile... parahumans function like knights on the battlefield; vastly superior to the throng of levies that stand in their way, challenged only by other knights. Each wears his or her own heraldry. However, if you wish, the Foundation is willing to provide you with any item of clothing you wish marked with the Centurion’s symbol...” She taps a nail on the letterhead of a piece of blank paper, indicating the stylized Greek helmet that serves as the emblem of the former hero.

As you go to leave, Stone adds: “As you’re here, I should tell you we plan to hold a news conference tomorrow afternoon, to inform the media of your recent success and let them see you personally. It will be held here, outside the Centinel Building. If it would be convenient for you to inform your colleagues of this, please do so.”

The wooden door closes of its own accord behind you.

15th of July, 2004, 18:54
The Mechanic

There’s laughter. There’s good food. There’s the friendly ribbing of a half-dozen of the smartest people in the city lacing their conversations with high-level physics and engineering. There’s just enough drinks to let you all know that its too early to be drinking.

Just a Billy Walthers is retelling his infamous Dutch Fishing Trip story, your pocket computer bleeps. Excusing yourself, you duck into the hall and open it up. Yes. The software agent you set to skim through the Foundation’s less secure files has compiled it’s results. It’s the best you can do without getting your hands dirty with code, and it might at least give some direction to your search.

The - well, you assume they must be the cryogenics team you find under Long Term medical Research Staff. The description of the team and their role is deliberately vague.
Dr Edward Talbot, head of division.
Dr Marcia Geddens, microbiologist.
Dr Quentin Broekeist, thermochemist.

An accidentally unencrypted record mentions a thirty-five man team, the Defensive Response Force that the Foundation keeps on its payroll for ‘special security deployments.’

And there is Mr. Reptile. You identify him because he’s referred to as the one responsible for the DRF mobilization two days ago. No name, but a job description - Special Executive Assistant to the Senior Administrator. Which would make him, you guess, about equal ranking to Stone - they both report straight to the Administrator of the Foundation, Philip Mouse.

15th of July, 2004, 22:27

One of the virtues of having a ridiculous amount of muscles is that you're rarely, if ever, refused something. Wreck passes it off as being due to their awe and admiration of him, but most people would characterize it as a survival instinct. More muscles equals more pain when you're punched in the face, it's practically a scientific law.

He leans forward, irritable from the results, and grips the edge of the receptionists desk. The wood creaks under the weight and pressure and Wreck towers over the other man, glaring at him. Slowly, inch by inch, he leans down until his face is but a foot from the receptionist. Muscles bulge and Wreck gets a cold gleam in his eye. Some people only understand violence.

"I wanna talk to your supervisor."

Slapping this guy around like he had that mafia guy wouldn't solve anything. Hell, they might even fine him for it. He wants to make sure the girl's still breathing, but he's not willing to lose some of his pay for it.

18th of July, 2004, 15:40

Chemically-augmented muscles slither over each other like skined serpents as Wreck bends down. His nostrils flare; his fingers dig gouges int he desk without even noticing it. Just like at the car-crash site, Wreck isn't able to use his strength to it's greatest advantage, but it seems to be enough.

The man flinches back and pales further under Wreck's attention. "I... I'll..."

"Thank you, Mr. Naite. I will handle this."

Stepping from out of the glass door to the medical center comes the black-suited, immaculately gaunt form of the man subconsciously dubbed Mr Reptile. The fluro lights glint of his pallid pate as the receptionist leaves hurridly. Laying his briefcase on the desk, the cold-eyed man addresses Wreck in a slow, dry monotone.

"Mr. Wreck. I am informed you wish to see or speak to Ms. Actinic? Sadly, that will not be possible. She is in intensive care, the best the Foundation has available, and it would be inadvisable for her to be disturbed. Additionally, I can only imagine that you are the last person she would want to see after emerging from unconsciousness... given that you placed her in that state."

If there's any emotion in his voice, it's vindictive pleasure.

"I hope that provides answers to your queries. If not, allow me to restate myself in more suitable words: no. You will not be allowed to meet or observe Ms. Actinic in the foreseeable future. Absolutely not."

Picking up his case, he half-turns as if getting ready to depart.

18th of July, 2004, 17:12
“This is Trisha.” Pause. “Bol- Mr. San- Ryan? Is that you?”

"What the hell am I doing, it hasn't even been two days yet. How much information could she have dug up in such a short amount of time." Ryan thinks to himself when Trisha answers the phone.

He shifts uncomfortably and he quietly grunts as pain shoots through his stomache.

Yea, its me. He says slowly. I was just phoning to, <pause> I just wanted to ask <pause> to be honest I don't know why I phoned. I'm sure you got a lot things to do then look for information that I need.

I'm sorry to have bothered you, it won't happen again.

18th of July, 2004, 17:20

"No, wait. The information? I have, well, I've got most of it." She sounds a tad triumphant.

"Can we meet? You need to see this." She names an backstreet in a lonely part of town. "I'll be there, ummm, at, uh, about eleven. I'll see you there?"

*click* as she hangs up.

And a moment later:


19th of July, 2004, 04:36

"So you're saying no, huh?" Wreck asks, folding his arms over his chest. "That's pretty funny, you know, 'cause I always heard yer not supposed to take 'no' for an answer."

There is something about this man that unsettles Wreck. He isn't afraid of him, but the man's demeanor, his appearance, makes Wreck's flesh want to crawl. He opens his mouth and scratches his cheek with one hand, feigning boredom with the conversation while buying time for his mind to think up something, anything.

Walk away, you big idiot, before you ruin any other gigs they might have for you.

Sadly, self-deprecation isn't likely to get him his wants. He should leave, hell, he wants to go right out those doors and hit the clubs or strip bars. Anything to unwind after the other night would be most welcome. Yet his feet don't move, not even an inch and he finds himself speaking to the man again.

"Look, I don't wanna talk to her, or even go in the room. I just wanna see how she's doin' is all. Just a kid. Shouldn't be doin' shit like this until she's older, wiser" --he grins-- "like me."

19th of July, 2004, 12:26

The man stops, the hairless back of his head facing Wreck. Slowly, he turns, and looks the taller, much bulkier man slowly up and down; the phrase 'undertaker measuring a customer' crawls across Wreck's prefrontal lobe from somewhere. A fractional relaxation occurs in the muscles of the man's brow, and he flicks a mote of dust from his shoulder. Wreck gets the sensation of having passed some kind of exam, which is very new feeling for him.

"Very well. If the matter is of such interest to you, I can arrange for a medical status report to be forwarded. That is the best I will do." His pale, colourless eyes meet the meathammer's sqaurely, unblinkingly.

19th of July, 2004, 13:00
Quantum steps out of the elevator, one arm arched up and back at a sharp angle. As he walks down the hall, his hand scrabbles furiously at his back. Figures, he thinks, the power to ignore the laws of physics and I still can't reach that spot on my back. I wonder if Plastic-Man has any spots he can't scratch?

As he reaches the intersection, he glances down it and spots Wreck, the human demolition derby, being stared down by a gaunt, balding tech. "Hey, Wreck!" he calls out. "C'mon, I owe you a beer -- let's get the others and see if they can hold down a few."

19th of July, 2004, 21:14
The Mechanic

The names ring faint bells in the back of Robert's mind...Did I see one of them in any of those medical journals I scanned over a couple months back??? Hmmm... that's when I was working on the Nanite repair system... I remember I had to refresh on some basic Biology when working on the OS.... Shaking his head and looking back at the Gearheads and maniacs he'd managed to gather together under his banner of Applicable science... he smiles to himself and figures....I'll likely have a little down-time... I'll start my systems working on it and piece the info together later. As he uses his palm based computer to give instructions to his core system in the secured and shielded area of his workspace. Telling the system to search public and government accessable areas for information on Dr.s' Talbot, Geddens, and Broekeist.
I'll have to look at getting more info on the DRF when I'm in a more secure location... There's something weird about that division.
Walking back to the table just in time to watch a slightly tipsy Walthers demonstrate the capsizing of his small fishing vessel using his chair... much to the amusement of the rest of the crew at the table, Robert re-takes his seat and quaffs the last of his drink. Enjoying the brief cameraderie with his fellow scientists... and waiting for... something...

19th of July, 2004, 22:57

"Yeah, keep me, uh, informed...thanks."

He's amazed that his request is granted, albeit only partially, and that it didn't require punching anyone. Perhaps there's something to this non-threatening talking thing. Or maybe Lizard Man is just afraid of having his face made even uglier by Wreck's meaty fists. At least, that's what he tells himself. In reality Doctor Reptilus seems as immune to threats as he is sunburn. An awkward silence falls over the two but it is shortly broken by the man known as Quantum.

"C'mon, I owe you a beer -- let's get the others and see if they can hold down a few."

"A few? They couldn't hold one between all of 'em," he says, grinning and more than happy to take his leave of Señor Largato. Besides, it's high time he forgot about that stupid girl and got on with what's important in life: drinking.

"Beer, it's what's for dinner."

He isn't sure what he thinks about Quantum, but if the man is buying he can't be that bad. Wreck leaves with the man to find the other members.

20th of July, 2004, 01:04

::meanwhile, waybackwhen::

Rob brightens up considerably at Danilo Fong's arrival, even managing to smile...almost. Still, he can't resist a lopsided, purse-lipped grin as the old man teases him about the candy and the balloon. It was an uncommon treat to see him so jovial, and Rob suspected that Fong's escouciance probably covered no small amount of worry and anxiousness; he would feel the same were the roles reversed.

After a momentary praising of powers that be, Fong leans forward on the stool and, with a nearly conspiratorial tone, asks: "So--what was it like?" Rob begins to detail the pain and fear of being shot at and hit, but his mentor interrupts. "No, not that part. What was it like to finally go up against the bastard?"

The young hero sighs and leans back with his hands resting behind his head. "Scary. And I mean white-knuckle black-pajama kind of scary. There's something about him that's just...pure evil. Face-to-face with him is like getting personal with something...rotten. I don't know how to explain it, exactly, other than--I mean, he's still just a man, at the end of the day, but at the same time he's more than that. Almost a...concept more than flesh. I don't know. I do know that even considering how it turned out for me, I wouldn't trade it for anything. This was the real deal. You should have seen it--a whole room full of us, on both sides. It was COOL." He smiles. "I wanna do it again."

20th of July, 2004, 02:27
Quantum fiddles with the base-unit of his communicator as Wreck falls into step with him. Thankfully, he'd made a point of reading this part of the manual, though half of it must've been written in English, translated into !Kung (the language of the Kalahari Bushmen), then mangled into Dena'ina, then translated back into English with a twenty-year old language website.

Tapping in the codes for the other Centinels -- Wreck, Osprey, Bolt, the Mechanic -- he lumps them into a group so that he doesn't have to go through that rigamarole again. Mashing the TALK button, he speaks out into the air; the manual barely managed to explain the microphone built into the earpiece.

"Guys, this is Quantum. I was figuring we all get together, compare notes, terminate a few beers. Any suggestions?"

20th of July, 2004, 06:59
Ryan's frown deepens as he listens to the second click.

Could someone have been listening to their conversation? Unlikely, how could they know he was going to use the telephone. No more then likely they were recording it, which means the lines were tapped.

"Now, I'm starting to sound paranoid." He thinks to himself, but the nagging feeling just won't go away. "There is something wrong here, more then just bad hiring procedures."

Ryan gets up and starts to pace while he thinks, his injury and depression forgotten for the moment. "If the lines were tapped he would have to prove it, but this was way out of his league, all he did well was run all this spy and gadgets stuff," pause "of course Robert could probably figure it out pretty easily. Now all he had to do was figure out a way to contact him."

"Guys, this is Quantum. I was figuring we all get together, compare notes, terminate a few beers. Any suggestions?"

"Maybe this is going to be a good day after all." Ryan thinks, a smile appears on his face as he activates the communicator.

Sure that sounds like a plan, I do have plans for later, he adds in glancing at the clock, "but just give me an address and I will meet you all there.

20th of July, 2004, 07:30
The Mechanic

The beeping in his earpiece of the communicator going active startles Robert out of his conversation with Chyler on the latest test results on fusion reacions coming out of MIT and CalTech.

A second later, "Guys, this is Quantum. I was figuring we all get together, compare notes, terminate a few beers. Any suggestions?"
Quantum...the teleporter from the other day...
Followed briefly by..."Sure that sounds like a plan. I do have plans for later, but just give me an address and I will meet you all there."
Bolt... med staff must have given him the go ahead to check out.
"Scuse me a sec, Chyler..." as he toggles the 'Open" channel on his comm.
"Gentlemen.. This is the Mechanic... I'm at Oldburghs: Downtown Westside.
I'm sure my friend Charlie down here would be happy to set us up with something. It's pretty easy to find..and quiet at the moment.. Shouldn't have any media issues. Stop on by."
He tells them the address and half listens for responses.
Switching off the comm, he addresses his employees. "Hey guys... this is tons of fun, but I've got some associates who may be stopping by... just so you know, when they get here I'll be joining them."

24th of July, 2004, 06:56
Undisclosed location, New York City ?.
Syndicate X Headquarters.
11:01 am, January 15th 2010.

The ‘Port and X

X allowed the richness of the brandy to swirl around his mouth, enjoying the potency and flavour of the beverage. A light one, suitable for such an early drink. Finishing it, he put the glass down just so on the polished leather of his desk, next to the three-barreled gun of his own design, the modified PDA and the syringeblade of his autochirugeon. Each item of technology so beautiful, each so deadly in its own way. Swallowing, X rolled his kevlar-blend mask back down over his aesthete’s arched lips and down his narrow chin, covering his face in black anonymity again. In the dim light that seeped through the smoky glass windows, he settled back into his pool of shadows.

The ‘Port showed no such restraint in protecting his identity or in his drinking habits. The East European took a long, rough gulp from the bottle of vodka clutched in his bandaged hands, spilling some of it down his grimy, unshaven chin. Crouched next to him, the medic carefully wrapped a fresh bandage around the ‘Ports chest, avoiding the patients’ flailing arm - the one that wasn’t in a sling - and drunken outbursts.

X’s eyes roamed the bleak concrete room. Monitor screens and projectors scrolled endless streams of data from X’s various enterprises, fitted between plain metal shelves that were crammed with technical manuals, Tolstoy and stock market analysis documents alike. X’s broad brimmed hat hung from a stand next to the door; that wooden stand, along with the desk and chair behind which he sat were the only quality luxuries he allowed himself in this base of operations.

The medic tugged the bandages a little to tight over the ‘Port’s bruised ribs. With a snarl of pain, wheezy from his still-aching lungs, the arms dealer backhanded the young man across the room. X’s brow creased minutely under his mask, irritated at his ‘associate’s’ crudity. Taking another swallow, the arms dealer looked straight at X, dismissing the broken-nosed doctor.

“Acceptable outcome? It was not fucking acceptable, baruchya! They got that Irish moron, ruined the trade and nearly got me!” The ‘Port’s voice was rough and held a snarl as he gestured with his bottle for emphasis.

X shook his head and added a pacifying tone to his cultured voice. He was never sure how much of this carried through the vocal-pattern disguise circuit built into his collar, though. “You are thinking on too small a scale, Piotr. Seven out of ten of our deals have gone though successfully, thanks to your talent,” he added graciously. “Our objectives can be met with only five successful transactions; I ensured that there would be ample contingencies...”

“In case of mistakes?” the arms dealer grunted. “Your mistakes, not mine. You failed to account for these amateur losvarnich ‘Centinels’. And your plan, too. I’m here for the money. And I want it now.” The ‘Port placed his knuckles on the desk for emphasis, leaning forwards menacingly.

X failed to be intimidated. “Ahh, Piotr. Once again, you assume that the unfortunate event was a totally loss on our part. Certainly the Hammer’s services would have been useful in distributing the DP-9s, but the plan goes on without him. The loss of Actinic and Viscid is no great matter; I’ve already arranged for more competent mercenaries to meet us for the next phase.” X smiled, the expression hidden by his mask. “And by analyzing my remote cameras’ data, I have learned many, many useful things about our opposition. Their weaknesses are becoming perfectly visible; and that will allow us to destroy them at our leisure.”

The ‘Port scowled, clenching his fists. “Whatever, osgvanich. Mister X. Why didn’t you tell me about this fucking teleporter they have?” With a grunt, he clapped a hand to his head. “The little prick has no finesse! Every time he fucking ‘ports, it’s like there’s a gong going off in my head! I can hear him from across the damn city!”

X tilted his head, interested. “Delightful. Could you... locate him through these disturbances he creates?”

The ‘Port nodded sharply, massaging his temple. “Da. Through a Siberian snowstorm with my eyes closed.”

X placed a fingertip on his PDA, and began to will data into it via his galvanic-interface gloves. “Delightful. Another weapon in our arsenal. To paraphrase Sun-Tzu, to know your enemy’s disposition while remaining formless oneself is to know victory.

“Now. I can understand your frustration, and I will make allowances. The next phase can be delayed while we accommodate your payment requirements.” X nodded. “We will have Dr. Anderson... convinced to assist you. That may just suit both out needs, given his present employment. Rest assured, Piotr, you will be well taken care of. I keep my deals. Always.”

The ‘Port stood clumsily and retrieved his coat from the stand, draping it over his shoulders with his good arm. “You better, X.” And then he was gone, air rushing into to fill the void he had occupied.

X sighed, and thought seriously about having another brandy, but temperance and self-discipline won out. He turned to the small computer on his desk and reactivated the conference program.

“My apologies, WarGod. I believe we had just settled a price... two million per agent, plus expenses and your personal bonus, of course?”

From the speakers came a low, metallic chuckle.

24th of July, 2004, 06:58
Oldburghs Bar & Grill, New York City.
At the tables.
11:17 am, January 15th 2010.

The Mechanic

Your friends and employees drift out back to RisSun as your new teammates arrive one by one. Some of them seem kind of awed, even frightened by the parahuman pseudo-celebrities that you’ve become associated with. Chyler, the last to leave, gets up as a thunderclap and flash of purple light flares through the window.

“See you back at work, Rob...” she murmurs, her hand laying on yours for a moment.


Teleporting across the city gets easier every time you do it, learning the layout and cartography, not to mention the delicate interplay of magnetic, electrical and gravitic fields that affect your power. Entering the cozy bar and eatery, you pause and look up at the skyline. A couple of blocks away, you see a figure launch from the roof of the building and disappear into the smoggy New York horizon. Someone watching you? Been too much of that lately, you think with a shudder.


The chairs in this place are way too small. The beer’s import, which is okay, but the waitress looks like she should be selling Ma’s Homebake Cookies, not cramming herself into a Hooter’s tee as she shakes her way through college. Wrecks thick fingers fumble with the knife and fork; he’s not used to eating anywhere where the cutlery is more sophisticated than a moist towelette and cob-holdin’ forks.

It’s hard for the meathammer to avoid shooting the Mechanic a reproachful scowl; is it any surprise the geek chooses to eat here rather than a good, honest strip club.


You’d almost forgotten what it was like to be in the back seat of a taxi, you’re so used to being in the drivers seat. Stopping off at your room at the Foundation hospital, you found the bag of clothes and toiletries someone had picked up from your apartment, and managed to slip into some comfortable civvies.

Oldburghs seems like a nice enough place; quiet. The materteral* waitress bobs back to the table, dropping off the plates you each ordered. In your case, a bowl of bland tomato soup; doctors orders. The thought of eating anything that needs a lot of digesting or, ahh, passing, makes your really uncomfortable. As it is, you have to hold one hand over your bruised stomach, Napoleon-like.


Stop picking at it, or it’ll never get better.

But you can’t help it. Your tongue runs over the eight plasti-ceramic teeth in the front of your mouth, feeling out the gaps and joins, tasting the chemical foulness of the dental adhesive. They’ll do, you guess - like you’ve got a choice. It’ll take at least a fortnight for the dentists to culture the stem cells they extracted from the roots of the broken teeth into buds suitable for reimplantation, even if the Foundation decides to go to that expense on your behalf. You suppress a surge of indignation; while you can’t help but feel that they should do everything they can for you after what you suffered on their behalf, that kind of negativity can’t be good for the healing process. Plus, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering and all that. Always kinda weirds you out when Fong starts quoting Yoda.

Flying to this bar was kind of a relief; motion without stress of pain, drifting at your own speed. Kinda nice. Anyway, all five of you are here now...

* Aunt-like, similar to avuncular.

24th of July, 2004, 16:40
As his... aw, hell, he'd better think of something to call it. Psychokinetic? No, that implies that he can move things around with it. In a sense, he can, but that's getting away from the point. Tsk. Until he thinks of something better...

As his warping field fades from existence, its affect on his appearance is a little drastic. His hair stops waving around in a nonexistent breeze; his eyes lose the blue-purple glow, and his clothing -- a pair of black denim pants, long-sleeved white shirt, and nice, heavy work-boots -- becomes their normal colors. As gravity reclaims its hold on him, dropping him to the pavement in a huff, he catches something out of the corner of his eye.

Glancing upward, he just catches someone launching themselves from a building and flying away. No one immediately familiar... then again, he hasn't seen one familiar face in the week since he was run through the microwave on defrost mode. With a sense of loss, he realizes that his old drinking buddies probably believe him dead. Shaking his head and trying not to let angst get into the picture, he enters the bar.

The others are already in their seats; no surprise, since he'd spent the past half hour just floating about half a mile above the headquarters. Taking the last empty chair, he starts to order a whisky sour, then reconsiders. Something, along the lines of a nagging feeling, tells him that dropping back into his old drinking habits would be a very Bad Idea. He only dimly recalls that the last time he was functioning under the effects of a fifth, he was behind the wheel of a truck.

With an apologetic shrug to Wreck, he orders a Dr. Pepper.

"Better make changes in your date-books, guys. Miss Angela is holding a press-conference in front of the house tomorrow, and wants all of us there to smile at the cameras and look heroic." He takes a swig of his soda, trying to dodge the massive amounts of ice they put in his glass. Next time, I'll ask them to remove the ice.

"So anyway, what was going on the other day? I got pulled out of cold-storage at the last minute, put under a Burger King heat-lamp, and told to 'port Mr. Lizard around and then help you. All I got to see was Meatshield here--" indicating Wreck with his free hand-- "slapping some pimp silly. I know there was more to it than that, but all I'm getting from Reptile is the cold-fish treatment. Anyone care to fill me in?"

25th of July, 2004, 12:08

Rob swirls the iced tea in his mouth, letting the cold permeate the delicate tissues that had seen so much misuse lately. Synaptic terminals retreat from the drop in temperature and he is rewarded with a momentary absence of pain. Resisting the urge to crush the ice, he asks: "Just how long you been under, anyway?"

"The Foundation got a lead on an arms transaction that was going down in that warehouse. Not only was there a chance to block distribution of a crapload of illegal weapons, but somebody leaked out that Jerry O'Malley would be there. O'Malley, calls himself 'the Hammer', in case you don't know, is top man in the Mafia these days. Guns, drugs, women, gambling, protection rackets, petty crime, professional theft rings and grifters, everything that's gone bad in this city has their fingerprints on it. We were recruited to lead the assault, because the Foundation also heard that there would be some heavy firepower on the bad guys' side. Like the man says, 'They was RIGHT.' Heavy combat bots, costumed mercenaries, not to mention the Hammer himself. Before you got there, Wreck put one of the mercs in the hurtlocker, damn near got himself strangled by the other, Mechanic managed to overcome the doombots and get them on our side, me and Bolt kept O'Malley from escaping...but, not before he shot me and busted out a quarter of my teeth." He pauses for a moment, and swallows hard; he imagines that he can still taste blood. "Still, we got him. In the end, we...more or less pulled it off. Although, if you hadn't arrived when you did, I might not have made it out of there, and even Bolt got himself messed up a little bit. So, I owe you huge. Next time you need a haircut or something, you let me know."

26th of July, 2004, 12:42
Quantum winces midway through Osprey's recap. "Ouch. Glad to see they'd got you some new fangs. My last job didn't have a dental plan."

He takes a swig of his soda, letting an ice cube drop into his mouth. Apparently oblivious of his companion's recent reluctance, he crunches the ice noisily. "As for me, I've figured out that they had me stuck in a meat-locker for the past two and a half years -- the scientists who were working with me got 'orders from on high' or some such, and had to put me on ice. I don't think I was the only one... though I do think I was the only one who could do what I can.

"Which brings up my next question: any of you willing to tell me what you're good at, that I haven't already gathered? I know Wreck could probably beat up a building and maybe scrape a knuckle; Mr. Mechanic could probably even fix my computer; Osprey here's got some major martial-arts goin' on, and Bolt -- heck, you could probably down one of those massive Big Ed's burgers before they get the stopwatch runnin'. Since I'm the Effin' New Guy, I'll fill you in. It'll be all over the news anyway.

"I have no idea how this works, or where it comes from, but I can make this weird energy spread out from me. Best as we could figure, the laws of physics -- gravity, inertia, mass, that sort of thing -- quit working once they pass into it. 'Means I can fly, stop bullets, even pop out of space and show up somewhere else. As a bonus, if I hit something while that field's up, it tends to mess it up."

He takes another drink. "I'm not talking just smashing things up, like you do, big guy. I'm talking the kind of damage that about fifty years of erosion, wear-and-tear, rust, the long-term stuff, would do. The techs back at the lab kept bitchin' at me for putting hairline cracks in the circuits of their target dummies, or making their robots rust, seize up, fall apart. I haven't the faintest idea why that works -- there's probably some complicated Star Trek-style explanation that'd make the whole thing fit."

He looks to the Mechanic. "You're probably going to have a field-day gawking at me with some high-tech gadget... if you haven't been already."

26th of July, 2004, 14:19
The Mechanic
Laughing at Quantum's last remark... "Only if you want me to.... though
it does sound intriguing." he pauses, taking a drink from his glass. "Seriously though... they pulled me into this cause whoever's in charge of this outfit needs somebody to think outside the box tech wise... I guess I'm one of the most accessable people to fit the bill. Speaking of which... I've been going over those drones... The drones are nothing special... standard military issue...
they seem to have disappeared from some military base over in Kenya..."
He pauses... looking into his glass swirling the melting ice around briefly then taking another drink.

Speaking in hushed tones over the growing lunch crowd he says, "I can't be sure... but I think these folks... whoever they are bringing this gear in, are using some of my people. Whoever they used to set up the control system for the drones. Were using good software... very SPECIFIC software.... MY software. I think there's something more going on here than we're being let in on. Any new developments where you guys stand?"

27th of July, 2004, 02:43
"That reminds me... I think someone's been watching me the past couple days. So no relaxing in front of the cameras tomorrow."

27th of July, 2004, 03:30

Wreck grins and takes a long pull from his beer. The memory of slapping the gangster around still tickled him. There was just something funny about it, slapping the man. Maybe it was irony; he wasn't sure. Whatever it was, it made the job a little more bearable.

"You do what?" he asks, hearing the list, but getting lost after the ability to stop bullets. It sounds good enough, flying, not getting hurt by gunshots, but the time-space popping into other spaces with teleporting punches has Wreck perplexed.

"Oh yeah, that chick's gonna live. Probably. Lizardface told me earlier today," he says, blinking defensively at their looks, "What? I didn't ask. He just told me."

He looks around at the decidedly tame atmosphere and sighs. A strip bar might've been asking much, but at least they could've gone to a Hooters. One meaty hand picks at a half-empty plate of nachos. At least the food's not bad.

Geek probably wouldn't know a woman if she slid down a pole and onto his lap. He tilts his head to the side. Not a bad idea...

"What? Cameras? We get some endorsements?"

27th of July, 2004, 15:49
"That's the impression I was given. Everyone was... invited to attend. I just hope Mr. Lizard doesn't make an appearance; he might shed his skin, or change gender or some such. I wonder -- if you grab his leg and pull, will it just pop off and regrow in a month or so?"

28th of July, 2004, 00:06
Ryan eats his soup as he listens to the others talk. "Man, I hate tomato soup." he thinks to himself as he takes another spoonful. On a positive note since he hadn't started taking his medication he could at least have a beer to wash it down with, he would pay for it later but at the moment he didn't really care.

"Invited or expected to show up?" Ryan adds in somberly, "is it just me or is there something not quite right about the company that we are working for?"

Ryan fidgets a moment trying to easy the pain in his stomache. "I've been looking around a little and Ling was right about the hiring practises," he says glancing towards Robert. "Plus I think they are recording our phone messages."

1st of August, 2004, 11:41

Rob chuckles at the images conjured up by Quantum, especially at the thought of Reptile Man uncontrollably vacillating between male and female. Then, after Bolt, he says: "Hmm. Well, the question then becomes 'Do you let that affect you?' Me, personally...not really. I'm not surprised that we're being watched and listened to, any more than I am that some huge organization isn't being completely politically correct. On the other hand, there's a reason I didn't join the CIA or the military: I like being the one watching, not the other way around. Still, the Foundation is holding all the cards as far as this operation goes. Doing this without their resources--and I don't mean just the money--would be a lot more difficult. I guess having a tab put on you is the price you pay."

2nd of August, 2004, 08:46
"I don't know, Its one thing to keep tabs on us make sure we don't make the foundation look stupid but to actually tape our private phone calls, keep people frozen until they can be of some use, seems a little over the edge." Ryan says taking a spoonful of the soup.

"You own a company, do you tape their phone calls?" He says looking over towards the Mechanic.

2nd of August, 2004, 12:07
The Mechanic
"No.... though I've wondered if it's a good idea." He shakes his head... wondering What would they be listening to us for? Or have us bugged... Most of the time our communications is on an open frequency... This doesn't make sense.
"Thing is, as I was saying... I've been going through that drone's systems... Someone was using software I designed for in house stuff... Just the caliber of the cracker to get in to my systems... get it, then modify it... We're talking high power talent. Or some Nova with sys-access abilities... but I haven't been able to find anything on any of those."
Picking up his glass and finishing his drink, he continues, "So... How did you find out they're keeping tabs on you? What was going on?"

4th of August, 2004, 03:28
"That's the thing I am not sure one way or the other. I was talking to that reporter from yesterday Ms. Ling, she wanted to get together, she said she had some information on the foundation that I just had to see."

"I agreed to see it and after she hung up I heard another click, like someone else was hanging up. I know it's pretty weak evidence but it seemed pretty suspicious, I thought maybe you had some gizmo that could tell for sure. Its just something that doesn't feel right about that place especially Mr. Lizard, he really creeps me out."

"I don't know, maybe I have been watching too many spy movies." He says with a shrug.

4th of August, 2004, 11:13
The Mechanic
Robert taps his fingers on the table... thinking. "Hmm.. I could put something together to monitor our systems... see who's tapping in, and to what... It might take a bit though... Maybe an hour. I'd need to see what kind of supplies I've got at my lab."

"I think in this buisness... it's good to be a little paranoid. You never know what the villians of the world are up to... a lot of them are REALLY sneaky."

4th of August, 2004, 13:40
When the Mechanic gives his estimate of one hour -- one hour, to set up an entire countersurveillance system on a place as large as the Centinels base -- Quantum chokes on his Dr. Pepper. "An HOUR? That's it? Couldn't you have told us three or four hours, so that you look really good when you get it in less than half the time?"

Half a second later, a deer-in-the-headlights look crosses Paul's face. "Or are you already doing that?"

4th of August, 2004, 16:51
The Mechanic
Robert smiles enigmatically. "Well, it wouldn't be much fun if I just came out and TOLD you would it?" Then laughs at the shocked look on his face. "No, honestly though, if I don't have the parts at MY lab... we'd have most of the gear we need down the hall in electronics to set it up... So best guess to get EVERYTHING I might need...'bout an hour. If I've already got some of the stuff put together 'round my lab... which is a possibility, I think I was working on a project or 3 that used some of the gear I'll need.... Maybe less... "

9th of August, 2004, 12:22
As the evening winds down, Rob looks at the clock on the wall and takes his leave. "Got something to work on...probably wouldn't take Mechanic ten seconds, but the rest of us have to make do with being mortal," he adds with a smile. "See you guys tomorrow."

9th of August, 2004, 14:38
The Mechanic
"I think he's got the right idea... plus... I need to go catch a couple hours' sleep, if I can manage it.... See if I can get a fresh look at things after some rest." He says, standing and walking over to the bar and taking care of the tab. "Right... I'll catch you guys later. Feel free to swing by my lab... I'm sure some of the staff would be thrilled to meet you guys." He offers with a grin as he searches his pockets for his keys.
An hour or so in that REM chamber we cobbled together for that "rest stop" program last year should put me back on track.... Let me get a fresh look at things. Then maybe toss something together for a group security net... Now if i used the Remote re-processor I put together a couple weeks ago.... Robert thinks to himself as he walks out to his car and heads back to the office. Already working on the latest possible problem his new associates have brought him.

14th of August, 2004, 14:43
The Centinel Building, New York City.
Intensive Intelligence Retrieval Room
date & time: unknown.

Standing at the threshold of Perception

"No.... no more."

Brace Scribner twisted on the angled table, trying to wriggle away from the orderly. Bad things had happened on this table; the feeling of fear and captivity and old pain administered with ice-cold detachment seeped from the leather straps and plastic surface via Scribner's psychometric senses, the memory of previous interrogations.

"You don't want another dose, Mr. Seer?" the SEASA asked in his whispery voice. The cold-eyed man sat perfectly still in the centre of the grimy basement room, dim fluorescent lights making his skin seems especially corpse-like. "In that case, I suggest you begin again. Try not to leave anything out."

Scribner gave a shuddering sigh as the orderly retreated into the shadows, tucking the syringe back into its case. The dim corners of the room were of course perfectly clear to his enhanced vision, but in this case pure distance was relieving enough. Another shot of ketradine would provide a massive boost of whatever cryptic neurotransmitters controlled Nova abilities, but the effect was a diminishing return, weaker with every dose and the side effects got progressively worse. The last injection had given him cramps bad enough to induce subdermal bleeding and vomiting. The next would be worse.

Brace Scribner had not received in relation to himself, this room or the SEASA, but he had absolutely no doubt that the man would give him as much ketradine as it took to get an answer.

For as long as he could remember, Brace's powers had never let him look more than twenty-four hours forward or backward in time. Theorists in the field of parahuman studies had noticed this was often the way pre- and postcognition worked; it was called the Causality Limit, and some thought it was the universe's way of protecting itself from significant changes to the timestream. Privately, Brace was at times a little glad about this; the dangers and terrors of being able to see unfettered over the endless vistas of past and future might be too much for him.

As much as the drug hurt, and despite the worry over the long-term damage it could be causing him, there was a part of him that exulted at all the things he had seen today. The shifting, twisted paths of cause and effect, winding out into the limitless possibilities of Tomorrowspace. But they all led to one destination, and contemplating it made him want to break down and weep like he hadn't done since he was a child.

"I'm aware of that, Mr. Seer." Brace started, almost rising up from the interrogation table where he lay. He hadn't realized that he had been putting words to his inner thoughts, but the SEASA's expression told him that was exactly what he had been doing.

"I am aware of your self-imposed limitations, and the psychological root causes." He leaned forwards, and in the dim light his face seemed especially horrible all of a sudden. "The two of the last four precognitives assigned to this project burned out attempting to solve this riddle. The other two voluntarily lowered their defenses against the psionic forces in the timestream, and allowed their minds to be snuffed out. There is no cost I will not pay to resolve this matter. No extremity I will not exceed. You know how important this is, better than I."

Brace slumped back, with a hopeless, defeated groan. "I know. I can't. I know. I... I just need to rest."

The SEASA sat back, brushing a gloved hand over his arm. "Very well." He looked up at the orderly and another man lurking by the door. "Have Mr. Seer escorted to the helijet. We will relocate Project Foresight to the upstate facility." He turned to Brace and added, "Perhaps the bucolic environment will be more conducive to your talents."

Later, at the helipad.

Bryan Lieter exchanged a glance with the SEASA as two men helped Brace Scribner out of the Centinel Building and towards the idling helijet. The Legal Affairs director had only seen the Seer in photos before, but he could tell that whatever had happened to him today had not been good for his health.

"I'll contact the dean of City College and tender Mr. Scribner's resignation for him. The Centinels have already been informed of his extended leave of absence? I suppose this will take some time?"

The corner of the SEASA's mouth twitched a fraction of an inch. "It will take as long as it takes. I am prepared to devote years to Project Foresight if necessary. That would be an insignificant investment of time, given what we've already gone through."

Across the intervening distance, the Seer jerked at these words. With a burst of manic strength, he tore free from the orderlies' hold and lunged at the SEASA. Grabbing the gaunt man's collar, he dragged himself up into his face and snarled:

"You sonovabitch sonovabitch sonovabitch! Don't you get it? Don't you SEE? We don't have years! We don't have one year, you arrogant sonovabitch!"

Brace Scribner turned his face to the pitiless sky and began to laugh. He laughed. He laughed until the orderlies descended on him, and the cold silence of sedatives washed through his tortured brain.

“We don’t even have one year left...”

14th of August, 2004, 15:20
Alleyway, New York City.
Nowhere in particular.
11:33 am, January 15th 2010.

Slowly, cautiously, Trisha Ling entered the narrow concrete valley, picking her way amongst the empty boxes and overflowing trash cans. Next time I come to this part of town, I'm not wearing my good shoes, she thought wryly to herself.

She was scared, no denying that. Yesterday, I came as closing to get beaten up for my work as I have since three years ago, when I started asking the wrong questions at the Water & Power Board, uncovered their ties to the Hammer's gangs. Today, I've committed bribery, blackmail and all-but-industrial-espionage. And if they catch me, I don't think they'll even wait for the courts to get through with me. She shivered.

Isn't that what I always wanted, though? She asked herself with a laugh. What did poppa used to say? "If someone isn't prepared to do anything to silence the story, it's not real journalism: it's just advertising"? And this is REAL. Real as it gets.

There used to be giants, once. Heroes. God, I remember seeing the Centurion freeing Nicaragua from the Harvester's regime when I was a girl. Starchild, sacrificing herself to deflect that solar flare away from Earth. The Mediator, when he talked down those terrorists holding the UN General Assembly.

Where did they go? All we have now are lunatics like Devolution and Rend. Mercenaries like WarGod and the Militant. God, that's all the Centinels are. Mercenaries and freaks and glory hounds and vigilantes...

No. She snapped at herself, harshness in her mental voice. They're not all like that. The Mechanic.. and Bolt... he was so, so earnest.

She looked around the alley, clutching the heavy folder against her chest. "Ryan? Are you there?" Real dignified, Trish. You sound like a bimbo from a slasher flick...

Bolt stepped form the shadows with his fluid grace.

16th of August, 2004, 06:45
"Ryan? Are you there?"

Ms. Ling... Trisha, over here, he calls out to her as he steps out of the shadows. His voice is lower then normal, it just didn't seem right to speak at his normal level. "I really have to stop watching those spy films," he criticises himself mentally.

Before you show me what you got I think we should go somewhere else, I'm not entirely sure but I think someone might have been listening to our phone call. I'm probably just being paranoid, I have never done this whole cloak and dagger stuff before, so I'm not sure what to expect. He says smiling, its obvious he is tring to lighten the mood.

17th of August, 2004, 16:21

Ling raises her brows, but the expression doesn't seem to betray much surprise. When Bolt smiles, so does she.

"Me neither. I know a place..."

Atomic Cafe, New York City.
A place she knows.
11:39 am, January 15th 2010.

Running graceful fingers uneasily around the rim of her espresso mug, Trisha Ling slides the folder across the table to you.

“It’s rather fortuitous that you called today...” she says as Bolt opens the document and begins to read. There are disks taped to the inner cover, and a stack of printouts. “My... source... just contacted me earlier. Apparently the B-team’s roster has just changed. Here’s the old one...”

Centinel Auxiliary Reserve

Thermal Energy Producer
Class B
+ : N/A
- : left nephrectomy [21/04/14], left anterior ribs (4) [13/01/14], double ovarectomy [25/12/13], small intestinal replacement [1/06/14].

Spatial/Temporal Manipulator
Class B / ?
+ : See attachment J02
- : Right gonadectomy [11/12/14]

Class B
+ : N/A
- : N/A

Male/Augmented Human/C
Enhanced Reflexes/Combat Instinct
Class B
+ : N/A
- : Cervical Vertebrae (3) [26/08/11], dentectomy [8] [13/01/15], 75% muscle tissue removal [biceps, pectorals, calves] <date classified>.

“These are the ones that changed...” she points out 916604. “He disappeared from the list, and they added this one...”

Photonic Energy Producer
Class A/B
+ : Pending
- : N/A.

“I think there’s something more here than the Foundation is letting on.” Her eyes have that bloodhound-glow again, intent on the story at hand without worrying about the consequences. “I think that this B-team was some kind of... some kind of precursor to you and your friends. Look at their medical records... these people saw heavy combat before they retired. Or were cast aside.

She hesitates. “Or... most of them are Novas. What if the Foundation knows something that other parascientists don’t? Or that they’re hushing up? What if the Nova phenomenon has some kind of side effect? Look,” she points too two of the entries. “He had a testicle removed, and this one both her ovaries. That sounds like some kind of aggressive action against cancer to me.”

Trisha looks up, her dark, pretty eyes meeting yours. You can sense concern and sympathy in them. “There’s so much... well, some kind of power, or energy, flowing through you Novas. My father would have called it strong qi. Doesn’t it seem possible that all that power could be killing you from the inside?”

You feel a soft pressure on your wrist, and look down. Trisha’s hand rests gently against yours.

18th of August, 2004, 04:19
As Trisha slides the folder over, Ryan takes a drink of coffee and grimaces slightly as his gut sends out a wave of pain to indicate that maybe coffee isn't the best thing to have right now, although he does his best to hide his reaction from her.

"You got all this information in less then a day? Wow, I'm impressed." He tells and gives her a genuine smile. which turns into a frown as he starts to read the information.

“These are the ones that changed...” she points out 916604. “He disappeared from the list, and they added this one...”

"The reason he was taken off the list is because he was promoted, we got a new member today and it sure seems like this is the guy. At least I would believe that its him, the powers are similar and the timing is right. i wonder if he even knows about the gonadectomy."

Look at their medical records... these people saw heavy combat before they retired. Or were cast aside.

"Not cast aside but frozen. Quantum, the new guy I was talking about said something about cold storage. Its got to be cryogenics, they are putting people on ice when they are no longer useful. They couldn't legally do that? Could they?"

Trisha looks up, her dark, pretty eyes meeting yours. You can sense concern and sympathy in them. “There’s so much... well, some kind of power, or energy, flowing through you Novas. My father would have called it strong qi. Doesn’t it seem possible that all that power could be killing you from the inside?”

"That's a disturbing thought... but just like a light bulb that has too much electrity going through it. It would glow brighter, give off more heat but would burn out faster. Maybe that's why they are being put in cryogenics. It might be a last ditch life saving method." Ryan trails off as he looks into her eyes, it's like he is being drawn into them, dark radiant pools that could swallow him whole if he wasn't carefull.

The soft pressure on his wrist causes him to look down momentarily and then back up again almost getting lost in her eyes again, he licks his suddenly dry lips and leans in slightly.

"I... I just wanted to thank you for helping me out Trish, I mean we just met but I appreciate what your doing here." He tells her in a subdued voice as his hand shifts slightly to cup her hand in his.

18th of August, 2004, 04:53

"You've got a new team member? Hmmm, that's news to me. I guess they're planning to reveal that little tidbit at the conference. Or maybe not, given all this secrecy..."

"Not cast aside but frozen. Quantum, the new guy I was talking about said something about cold storage. Its got to be cryogenics, they are putting people on ice when they are no longer useful. They couldn't legally do that? Could they?"

Her tone turns more serious and she shudders slightly. "Jesus. No, that's just... sick. If it's voluntary, if they're freezing these people to save their lives from injuries or... or from this theoretical 'burnout' effect, it's ethically dubious at best. If it's not vountary... Jesus."

"Ryan, I could go public with this, especially if you can get me a meeting with this Quantum. There's enough here to ask public questions. And I'm sure there's more to be uncovered." She twists her wrist under your hand, glancing at her watch.

She reaches into her handbag and digs around, eventually producing a black cellphone. "I've gotta go. Look, if they are listening, use this... it's a Securaphone. Uses rotating encryption with one hundred iterations... first hundred calls you make are untraceable and uncrackable. After that, the circuitry fuses."

Her hand sqeezes yours for a second as she gets up, giving you a warm smile. A moment later, she hurries off down the street.

You sit for a moment, thinking. Almost imperceptably slowly, the black veil of depression seems to lift a little, the memory of Trisha's lips bowed in a sign of affection, her eyes expressing...

Sounds filter to you from down the street. Looking up, you can see Trisha standing on the sidewalk, next to a powder blue van. Two bulky men in suits that scream 'security' flank her, and she appears to be yelling at someone inside the van's open door.

The crowed is doing it's best impersonation of 'uninvolved bystander', as only New Yorkers can.

18th of August, 2004, 07:02
"Ryan, I could go public with this, especially if you can get me a meeting with this Quantum. There's enough here to ask public questions.

"I can ask Quantum to meet with you but I'm not to sure we have enough proof to go public? I mean this is good stuff," he says patting the folder with his free hand, "but really all we are doing here is speculating. What would stop them from just getting rid of the these people if we started asking too many questions, we have to have solid proof and make sure we don't endanger these people."

She reaches into her handbag and digs around, eventually producing a black cellphone. "I've gotta go. Look, if they are listening, use this... it's a Securaphone. Uses rotating encryption with one hundred iterations... first hundred calls you make are untraceable and uncrackable. After that, the circuitry fuses."

"Thanks," he says taking the cell phone from her, "I will remember to use it and please be carefull yourself, I don't want you to get hurt." Concern is easily readable on his face.

Looking up, you can see Trisha standing on the sidewalk, next to a powder blue van. Two bulky men in suits that scream 'security' flank her, and she appears to be yelling at someone inside the van's open door.

Ryan sighs slowly. "Man, she certainly likes getting into trouble." He thinks to himself. He will stand up and place enough money on the table to pay for the coffees and take the disks from the folder and secure them in his jacket. Once that is done he will go out and see what is happening with Trisha.

18th of August, 2004, 07:27

Always trouble, always the same people.

It takes you only a fraction of a second to get over to the van. Inside sit two more plainsclothes security men, Bryan Lieter of FOoundation legal affairs and Chief Proscatti. The two men behind her seem intent on manhandling Ling into the van. She struggles, yelling: "You can't do this! Let go of me!"

Proscatti starts and scowls as you appear, all but spitting his cigar at you. Lieter flinches, taken aback by your speed, but then gives you a cool look through his steel-rimmed glasses.

"Mr. Sanders..." he says, removing a hand from his briefcase to forestall you. "I'm surprised to see you here. Trisha, here," he nodds at her, "has decided to help us with our enquiries. Enquiries regarding industrial espionage."

Lieter turns to her as Proscatti gives you and her an evil grin. "Please, Trisha, come along. We just want to analyse the files you stole from the Foundation andask you a few questions; who your source is, for instance. Then we'll turn this matter over to the police. If you cooperate, we might not even press charges."

Struggling against her persecutors, Trisha Ling manages to throw an emploring glance at you as they bundle her into the van. The symmetry with the events of yesterday are enough to make you laugh. Almost.

18th of August, 2004, 12:18
"She doesn't seem to be a willing participant Mr. Lieter," Ryan states as he slips into the van to be beside Trisha at superspeed, "and since this is not company property and I am sure that grabbing an unwilling person from the street is very illegal I'm pretty sure it would be a PR nightmare if somehow that got out to all the newspapers, radio and television stations."

"Now, if you believe that she commited some sort of crime I would be more then happy to escort Ms. Ling to the closest police department, where she will be interogated there, with her lawyer present to make sure that all her rights remain intact." Ryan glances around to keep an eye on everyone.

"Or you can rethink what your doing and let her go, but make no doubt that one way or the other she and I will be leaving this van, it will be up to you to decide on whether it will be done the easy way or the hard way." Ryan tells him with a deadly serious look, he tenses up instintively ready to defend himself and Trisha if he needs to.

18th of August, 2004, 13:00

Lieter frowns. "You are forgetting something, Mr. Sanders. Under the Vigilance Act, the Foundation is a registered law-enforcement agency. This is not 'grabbing someone from the street', this is an arrest." He cocks his head and adds reproachfully, "And it seems odd that you would leap to defend someone who has been stealing files that lie perilously close to your own. Just one file over form the documents that Ms. Ling stole are the Centinel threat assessments - a list of your powers and how to counteract them. I'm sure no-one, except our spy here perhaps, would want that becomming public."

Trisha bristles. "You're trying to hide behind the Act that abnegates almsot half the Constitution and Bill of Rights? Listen, Lieter... I didn't and wouldn't steal those files, and the matter is not comparable! These documents, which I received through legal, if subtle channels, are evidence of a criminal conspiracy on your part, not putting people in danger..."

Before she can finnish, Proscatti leans forward. "'Nuff a this. Get him outta here..." the Chief jerks his thumb at Bolt. The two guards outside the van move towards you, apparently intending to drag you out by main force, while the two inside keeps a (rather light-looking) hold of Trisha.

Looks like they're going to try and keep her.

Time to make a choice.

Bolt 37
Ling: 23
Proscatti: 16
Guards: 10
Lieter: 8

(Ling and Lieter will not act on the surprise round)

19th of August, 2004, 03:52
Ryan's hyper senses kicked in almost immediately and like always the world took on a surreal slow motion image, like someone watching a movie at 1/10 the speed. Time didn't actually slow down, it just seemed like it but at least it gave him some time to think.

Did Trisha steal those files? More than likely, in a literal sense anyways. Really how well did he know her, she could be using him just to get the next big story. He glances towards the reporter, she's scared though, either that or she is a hell of an actress.

And what about the Centinals, he could do a lot of good work through them, help a lot of people that he normally wouldn't be able to. Were they corrupt or was it just some sort of paranoid fantasy. Could he be letting his feelings for Trisha influence his judgement? There was no denying it, he felt it when he first laid eyes on her, she reminded him so much of Elizabeth but she was totally different at the same time.

All this goes through his mind in a blink of an eye, he can try and get Trisha out, getting fired in the process and more then likely have a warrent put out for his arrest or he could stand aside and let them take her. Either way he was at a crossroads, his life was about to change and there was nothing he could do about it. "Elizabeth, help me make the right decision." He thinks desperately.

He moves towards the closest man holding her, attempting to punch him. Regardless if the hit succeeds he will grab hold of the reporter and attempt to pull her out of the van.

ooc: attack mach one punch <pulling my punch to k.o. don't want the guy dead>
I am uncertain that Ryan would be able to do both, his primary concern is to get Trisha out of the van.

20th of August, 2004, 08:29
Centinel Building, New York City.
External Media Conference
2:04 pm, January 16th 2010.

the Mechanic, Osprey, Quantum & Wreck

It’s big. And there’s sort of a festive air.

There’s gotta be five thousand people in the roped-off area alone. Most of them journalists and camerapeople. Beyond that, thronging the streets, another hundred thousand? Two? Five?

The noise is deafening as you lurk offstage, cheers and boos and catcalls and shouts from all around, magnified and cast back by the PA system. There are partisan banners on all sides, too:

Our Heroes

Law Enforcement: Badges, Not Capes

Kick Evils Ass!

America For Humans

We [heart] the Centinels

Bolt’s late. Alicia Stone was extremely evasive when someone asked about his whereabouts, and everyone else has been racing around talking marketing, photo ops, which of the Big Four international media consortiums are offering the most competitive fees and widest distributions.

It’s remarkably mild for January, today. The sun beats down from a clear sky, warming skin when it hits, but the occasional gust of wind still cuts like an ice dagger. Packed shoulder to shoulder in the crowd, scarves, mittens and caps have been discarded, and the burble of people speaking into cameras or microphones washes back and forth.

You watch Stone on the monitor, some of you sipping Starbucks or mineral water to taste. The sounds down low, but plenty enough of it carries out from the stage as she gives a report of the ‘intervention’ at the warehouse.

A highly amended and subjective report, to be sure. No mention of the Actinic kid, Bolt or the Seer. The chaotic, screaming, whirling action streamlined into a sound-bite friendly, Hollywood-style narrative of good guys and bad guys. Brave, Vigilance Act - Empowered parahumans (and ‘enhanced, expert technical agents’, an acknowledgment to the Mechanic) on one side, degenerate mercenaries, crime bosses and arms dealers on the other. The first step to thwart a dangerous scheme to flood New York with guns, completed by parapowered specialists with no risk to the public. A statement of congratulations from Commissioner Lorski. A brief mention of the Foundation’s generous donation to the Guns Out Of Schools program.

“And now, my fellow citizens... it is my honour to introduce the latest team of the brave and the strong. The front line in the battle against terrorism, para-crime and natural disaster... the Centinels!”

The image consultant, some guy called Jerry gives Wreck a shove towards the stage, bruising his palm. “Ouch! Ugh. Go, get out there, all of you! Remember what Alicia said: let ‘em see you, introduce yourselves, give a statement, say what an honour it is to be fighting for them, how grateful you are to the Foundation... and don’t get bogged down in political questions! Trisha Ling isn’t here, thank God, but Tahner is, and about fifty of the hardest-nosed sonsovbitches in the business! Go!.”

20th of August, 2004, 08:30
Jose’s Budget Motel, New York City.
Layin’ low.
2:04 pm, January 16th 2010.


Unheeded, a cockroach scuttled across the underside of the sink. It was faintly annoyed at the intrusion of humans into its domain, but could put up with it as long as they dropped plenty of scraps. Above, Trisha rakes her fingers though wet hair and looked up at herself in the cracked mirror. She almost didn’t recognize herself. Which was the point.

Thick eyeliner, a little paleing-agent, fake lashes. Her glossy black hair, now cut to just above shoulder-length and dyed that ghastly copper-orange shade that was so popular these days. It made her look like a hooker, but that meant that no-one would give her a second glance. She couldn’t kid herself; without false pride or humility, she was extremely well known. Anyone getting a good look at her face would no doubt match her with the woman from the news, or on all those billboards...

Never thought being so damn famous would end up being a curse, she thought wryly.

She patted her hair with a grubby towel and headed into the bedroom/lounge kitchen of the motel room. Before she could sit, there was an explosion of motion.

The door lurched open and a brown-gray streak lunged in. A handful of bags skittered across the table as the door swept back, closed, chained and locked, all in the blink of an eye.

Bolt skidded to a halt in the middle of the room, rubbing the fine haze of sweat form his forehead with the back of his hand. Trisha opened the bags; second hand clothes, some lamb korma, vindaloo and naan bread takeaways, and a copy of the Times. She picked this up quickly, opened it and gave a sniff of disgust.

“I’m away for one day, and they let Greg write the lead story? Un-be-lievable.” Putting it down, she looked up at Bolt. “I know a guy in the force who owed me a favour. I gave him a call, and he told me there’s an APB on us. Assault, resisting arrest, espionage.” She sighed, and tossed the towel onto the bed. “Doesn’t sound like they’re hot on the trail yet, though. There’s fifteen million people in the city, and you did a pretty good job of outdistancing anyone who tried to follow us.” She shook her freshly dyed copper hair out with a grin.

It’s been hardly more than 24 hours, and it already feels like a lifetime. Last night and this morning, you’ve learned that if you move fast enough and keep to the alleys, no-one sees you. Hiding. Running. All too familiar. You feel the desolate weight of your life crushing, grinding down on you again. It always seems to hinge on violence, every time your life takes a turn for the worse.

Elizabeth’s murder by that power-armoured freak Scrapheap.

One little punch into the ribs of a man just doing his job.

Even pulled, forceful enough to pick the security guard up and throw him against the side of the van, denting it and landing him in a tangle on top of Lieter and Proscatti. Trisha in your arms before even you have time to process it. The city melting into a blur as you ran, ran, ran. She knew a place. Doesn’t she always? Used to meet some unsavoury sources there. Jose’s Motel. Good place to lay low, very discreet owner.

So once again, you’re running. Why face your problems? If you do there’ll always be more. This time though, you’re not alone in your hunted flight.

You don’t know if that makes it better. Or worse.

20th of August, 2004, 15:24
Ryan stands in the middle of the dingy room only half listening to what Trisha is saying.

Did he do the right thing? It seemed to be at the time but now he wasn't so sure. Guilt that he had hurt that security guard raged through him, they he just doing his job and he struck him down with barely a second thought, how different did that make him from Scrapheap?

Thoughts of Scrapheap fueled the blackness that threatened to consume him, which made him think more of Scrapheap and Elizabeth's death completing the cycle, leading it to feed off its self.

A vacant stare was the only sign of the turmoil that stormed through his mind, he drops his jacket on the floor and quickly follows it, the side of the bed keeps him in a sitting position, not that he knows or cares if he is sitting or lying down.

"I don't know if I can do this again..."

21st of August, 2004, 01:20

As Rob arrives in the private area, it's obvious what he'd had to work on: gone are the trenchcoat and off-the-shelf body armor, replaced by a sleek, practically form-fitting black outfit that appears to have been made from carefully modified motorcycle leathers and ballistic nylon, and which eschews heavy armor in favor of freedom of movement. The balaclava has also been discarded for an open-mouth mask and optically transparent one-way lenses over the eyes.

As he peers out across the assembled throng, he can't help but feel a little bit queasy. 'Jeez, I should have known better...I didn't think it'd be this much of a production. All those people...' Ah, well. The life of a big-time hero, after all.

As they line up and get ready to make their entrance, Rob can't get his mind off of the conspicous absence of Bolt on the "official" roster. There's something going on there...and if he had the money, he'd bet it was something to do with that reporter the runner had mentioned at the pub last night. Maybe when this was over, he'd try getting some answers, somewhere...but for now, he remains silent with his suspicions.

21st of August, 2004, 08:22

Swiftly (by anyone’s standards but yours) she’s by your side. “Ryan? What’s wrong? Can’t do what? Ryan?”

The last thing you want to do is talk about your feelings, but she’s persistent, perceptive and shrewd. What little you let slip in your melancholy lacony she pieces together and builds on, until you aren’t sure how much she really knows. But your depression grows ever deeper, ever heavier until you can’t, or won’t move under its weight. Eventually, you just stop talking, thinking, moving.

And wish you could stop breathing so easily.

Staring blankly forward, moving no more than eyelids as a particularly painful memory drags itself across your mind, you don’t even feel her sit on the bed next to and above you, your head resting on the outside of her knee.

“I guess it is clinical, then. Oh, Ryan, you poor bastard.” Her fingers stroke gently though your hair for a time in silence. “We can’t stay here. They’ll find us eventually. And there’s nowhere safe enough to run to.

“I’ve got a plan...” she pauses, and looks down. “You aren’t with me, are you? Okay. I won’t waste my breath.” Trisha stands, and with some effort levers Bolt up onto the bed, then pulls his shoes off. “I’ll be back soon, if you can hear me. Don’t do anything stupid...”

Ryan doesn’t feel the touch of her lips on his cheek, or hear the door open and shut. He slowly folds himself into the foetal position out of pure instinct, looking at nothing.

[OOC: Ling botched her attempt to break Bolt out of his depression, and he’s sunk into a (temporary, we hope!) catatonic state.]

24th of August, 2004, 01:56
The media. Ho boy. Paul never liked being in front of a camera -- even the picture in his high-school yearbook was blurred, from his repeated attempts to get out of the gaze of that lens. The flash of cameras during his gymnastic routines was a constant distraction, even if it were just one or two people taking pictures.

But things seem different now. He can't quite put words to it, but the idea of being caught on film, showing up in a magazine or the news seems... appealing. Maybe it's a hero complex, he thinks. I'm sure a psychologist would have a field day with me.

Taking his cue from Jerry What's-His-Name, Paul places himself between Bolt and Osprey, waving the Mechanic over as well. Once the others are near enough, he holds his arms up, calling forth a sphere of power that engulfs all of them.

"Let's make a real entrance."

With a snap, the four Centinels vanish from the waiting room.

Instantly, there is a rush of air above the stage as the blue-purple sphere materializes about ten feet above center stage. Before anyone gets it into their heads to hop out or throw something (or whatever), he lowers himself -- taking the others along -- to the ground, letting the sphere wink out of existence.

He keeps his arms in the air, for dramatic effect. He's totally unaware of the beatific smile that adorns his face.

24th of August, 2004, 21:20

'Wow.' It's the only coherent word Rob's brain can form as Quantum gently lowers them to the ground.

25th of August, 2004, 16:26
The Mechanic
"Let's make a real entrance."
Uh oh... I don't think this is a good is as much as he manages to think before Quantum leapfrogs the team out of and back into existence... and leaving him with the feeling that parts of him are still catching up from the other room. Suddenly grateful for the goggles and gear hes wearing that manage to cover up his shaking from the experience and the look of panic in his eyes.

Leaning over to Quantum, "Um... do you think you could give a guy a little more warning next time?" he whispers as he looks around at the gathered journalists and waves at the crowd. His body seems to have all caught up and he begins looking around the square for a familiar face.. Bolt isn't in attendance, which is weird... but neither is Trisha that he can see... which is DECIDEDLY odd.

Sudden concern creeps over the back of his neck as he wonders if he should have made a point of contacting her earlier.

27th of August, 2004, 07:07
Ryan Sander's amygdala.
In a world of his own.
Time and date unknown

There’s always the road.

It cuts through the desert like a razor slash of dusty flesh. Mesas rear up like tumours on the horizon as endlessly repeating cacti iterate past. Asphalt is as hot as lava as you sprint along it, the slap of your feet on the liquefying paint of the dividing line becoming a dead drone.

Keep running.

As long as you keep looking forward, keep moving, you’ll get away. Don’t look back. A rolling stone gathers no moss.

If you move so fast no-one, nothing can touch you, it won’t hurt when you lose it. If you run so fast that you never leave tracks, the cauterising cut of the laser won’t sting when it burns them to nothing. In front of your eyes.

Elizabeth. Trisha.

You can taste copper when your cracked lips suck at the hot, sandpaper air. Dust turns your eyes blind, but you’re missing nothing in the endless, cyclic landscape that scrolls past. Suddenly, ahead, there’s a wall.

Of fire. There are figures, wrestling amidst the flames.

Wreck trades punches with a freak, an overmuscled freak with enough body piercings, tattoos and self-inflicted scars to make Marilyn Manson uncomfortable, but every blow makes the beast stronger. Osprey’s eyes bulge from their sockets as O’Malley’s brawny fingers crack his windpipe, blood dripdripdriping from his hammer and rapid spittle standing out on his red stubbled lips. Quantum and the ‘Port stand struggling, fingers interlaced and incomprehensible energy breaking the universe into diamond shards around them. The Mechanic duels with a man in a featureless balaclava, broad hat and long coat, not realising that they pull their weapons and tools from the same kit. And they all burn, none seeing the cinders that spill from their rage setting the city, the world ablaze.

There’s a part of you that wants to plunge into the fire with them. A part that wants to burn and fight and do some good, presumptuous as that is. And another that wants to leap over the flames that pull at you, and keep keep KEEP running.

Time falls into slivers, pages from a book. Even you don’t have forever to decide.

Jose’s Budget Motel, New York City.
Betrayal, salvation.
3:13pm, January 16th, 2010.

Light spills in. Eyes open. No, the other way round. Eyes open, and allow the light in to your brain.

Grubby afternoon sun filters through dirty windows. Cuts like a knife into your soul. Dust turns to fire. Darkness to heat. Sloth to energy. Depression to happylaughingscreamingangerjoylovenauseahateloveha telovegiddiness -

You flip to your feet almost keeling back over from the he massive headrush and wave of nauseating disorientation. The room spins, giving you a mad, meaningless zoetrope view of the room - Trisha/windowframe/lamp/door/Trisha/windowframe/lamp/door/Trisha/windowframe/lamp/door

You feel her hands on your arms, steadying you - one hand on the fabric of your jacket, the other against skin. You look down, wondering why you’re only wearing one sleeve of your jacket. See the rubber ligature around your bicep. See the drop of blood glittering like a ruby atop of the fresh needle mark.

“Ryan? Steady, steady now. How’re you feeling?”

OOC: Confused and unsteady, but in a state almost resembling emotional normality (albeit prone to manic-depressive swings either up or down) as the methamphetamines and depression each wreak their own havoc on your brain, reaching a precarious balance with each other.

27th of August, 2004, 12:50
“Ryan? Steady, steady now. How’re you feeling?”

"What have you done to me?" He whispers as he looks down towards his arm. "Don't touch me... Don't touch me," he says louder as he pulls away, her nails scratching his skin. He staggers backwards slamming his back into the wall. He starts to slide but catches himself halfway down and forces himself to stand up again.

He places his hands on head as if to hold the pieces of his mind together. "I... I was dreaming," he tells her at a normal tone of voice, "the Centinels were fighting other novas and they were all engulfed with fire and as they fought it destroyed the city and eventually the world."

Dropping his arms to his side, he takes a deep breath and pauses to collect himself for a moment and then pushes himself off of the wall, still a bit unsteady. "I'm sorry, I didn't want you to see that happen to me. Thank you for reviving me, how long was I out?" He is humiliated and can't look her in the eyes.

27th of August, 2004, 16:14

"Not much more than an hour." Even without looking, you can feel her eyes on you, and you're afraid to look to see if they hold pity or revulsion or fear or sympathy.

"I'm... I'm sorry about what I had to do, Ryan... but I didn't know what else to do! You just... broke down... and I can't do this alone. I need your help. We need each other's help. Can I rely on you?" Her voice is warm and encouraging, and you feel her hand on your shoulder.

28th of August, 2004, 03:56
"Can I rely on you?"

"NO!!!!" screams a voice in his head. "Run away, get as far away as possible before you are destroyed like everything else that he cares about."

"Everything I care about turns to ash..." he mutters to himself as he mentally trys to shut out the voice, to lock it away in the recesses of his mind, its harder then normal but then again, this isn't normal situation.

He places his hand on her arm and steels himself as he lifts his head and looks at her, waiting for the look of disgust or worse pity.

"Yes, I will be there for you." He looks tired, he is emotionally and phyically drained. "Can I... can I rely on you?" He asks her quietly, another silent question hangs in air, more of a statement then a question, its easily read in his face and body language...

"When will you leave me"

28th of August, 2004, 04:50

It's a little strange, really. He's not normally the type to put himself in front of a large group of people, but as his companions hesitate Rob decides to step forward.

"Good morning everyone, and thanks for having us. As you already know, we are the Centinels. We're here to introduce ourselves, but for obvious reasons can't go into too much detail about what we do. Please bear with us in that regard. To get things started, my callsign is Osprey."

1st of September, 2004, 18:24

Her hand presses firmly, gently on top of yours. "Of course you can." At your tired statement, she almost smiles. "Leave you? No chance. That's twice you've saved my life... I'm sticking to you like glue." Her smile is warm, but her eyes masked. Is she hiding something?

After a moment she pulls her hand away from yours. "I've been trying to come up with a plan, how we can... well, clear our names, I guess." Trisha walks over to the bed and sits on the edge, spreading documents over the covers. "Everything here suggests that the B-team is...frozen," her lips twist in a tiny pout of distaste, "on-site. Under the Centinel Building, somewhere." She looks up. "What do you think? I manged to get in, you've already seen the inside... do you think we could find the cryogenics facility? Obviously, they'll be looking for us both now, but it might work." She makes a face. " I hate that 'might'."

"I do know someone who could help us. About 18 months ago, I did a story on the homeless people who live in the tunnels, the subways and sewers... the 'mole people', the tabloids call them. There was one man, he goes by 'the One Eyed Man'... he knows the underground better than anyone. If we can contact him, he might be able to show us some kind of basement entrance."

She looks up, her eyes alive with energy, clearly glad to be doing something, especially something surreptitious and curiosity-satisfying. "What do you think?"

2nd of September, 2004, 06:58
Ryan smiles back, his smile is just as warm but in his eyes show concern.

"Was this just another story to her? Was he just something to be used to get the next big headline? Did she care for him at all? She has time and time again shown that she would do pretty much anything to get what she wanted." Ryan thought as he absentmindedly rubbed the puncture wound caused by the needle. "Using the drugs to pull him out of his depression was a smart idea but he could have easily overdosed but if the situation was reversed could he say that he wouldn't have done it?"

All those thoughts rushes through his mind as he follows her squatting down beside her so he can look at the files again, without getting in her way.

"I did look around when I was there the other day but it was just a quick peek and its a pretty big building and who knows how many underground levels there might be. Then again who would be looking for us in the Centinel bulding." He says giving her a quick smile.

"I'm not to sure how us finding the cryogenics facility would help clear our names, unless we took photos or something. Although those people need our help," he says indicating to the files, "it is pretty much the only clue we got and it beats sitting here waiting for the cops to find us."

"So," he says giving her another smile and lightly resting his hand on her arm, "how long will it take us to find this One-eyed-man?"

2nd of September, 2004, 17:08

"If there is a lab, and these people are being... held there, and operated on, illegally, that'll justify the slightly questionable methods I sued to acquire the B-team profiles. And, it'll mean that when they tried to arrest me, and you for helping me, it was an unlawful use of their Vigilance Act-sanctioned powers." She smiles radiantly. "We'll have them right where we want them: we'll be exonerated, and it'll rip the lid of their corruption." he she's been speaking, Trisha gets up and strides firmly around the room, gesturing to accentuate her points.

"It's not too hard to find him... we'll have to go through Grand Central Station, though, and there's a lot of cops and cameras there... this disguise," indicating her dyed hair and make up, "will probably hold for a while, if we're quick. We can go as soon as you feel up to it." She hesitates, and looks at the boxes of takeaway on the table. "You didn't get a chance to eat before your... episode." She looks away, and seems to sink into thought for a while.

Finally, she turns to you, speculativly, and asks gently "I don't know if you've known them long enough for me to ask this... but do you think any of the Centinels might be receptive to what we have to say? I think we could really use the help, and someone on the inside if it's possible."

2nd of September, 2004, 17:42

From Tyrone Carter, Queer Eye magazine
"How does it feel being a gay icon after such a short time in the media spot-light? Woooo!"

The Mechanic
From Elaine Fernandez, Internation Economist
"Mr. Thomas... how do you balance your corporate and administrative responsibilities with your, shall we say, 'extra-curricular' crime fighting activities?

From Doug E. Tyke, High Times
"Whoa! Dude! How did you do that? What's, like, what's your power, man?"

From Dwayne Micewicz, Soldier of Fortune
"Is it true that you attempted to join Mercenares sans Frontiers* a couple a years back, and they refused you? So, does that means this is a second-rate outfit for washouts, those who couldn't make the cut?

* "Mercenaries without Borders", the world's premier parahuman mercenary team. A more ruthless bunch of amoral thugs-for-hire you'll never find.

3rd of September, 2004, 01:01

Holy CRAP. "Ummm...what do you mean, exactly?" he returns, trying hard to ignore the fact that he's wearing nearly skintight black leather and a mask. "I, uh, well, see, this is certainly news to me. Nobody's ever, I haven't, who, well, what do you mean, exactly?"

3rd of September, 2004, 04:23
"How slightly questionable are we talking about Trisha?" Ryan asks her as he watches her pace around the room. "She seems so into this, like it just doesn't matter whether we are wanted felons. She is so... alive." He thinks to himself.

Her comment about his 'episode' causes Ryan to look at the floor as he blushes from embarrassment but a rumble from his stomache tells him that eating is a good idea, getting up from the bed he will sit himself down at the table. "You should eat something as well. We could wait until around five, that way it will be pretty busy and hopefully less chance of us getting spotted."

Ryan thinks about her last question, slowly eating some of the food. "Osprey and the Mechanic seemed open minded," he says between bites. "I would think that they would at least consider what we had to say. Wreck on the other hand was in it for the money, give him enough cash and he will do anything." He says with a snort of disgust. "Quantum is the key, if we could talk to him we could get a lot of the answers we need." Ryan pauses for a moment. "There is a good chance that they will be sent out to look for us, we could get lucky and get one of them alone. Hopefully it won't come down to actual fighting."

"Trisha," he says softly, "what if we are wrong and there is no facility and the B-team is just that, a back up team. What are we going to do then?"

3rd of September, 2004, 14:07
The Mechanic
"It's due in large part to a good group of friends, associates and employees. While I've managed to hold my own in the buisness arena, the one thing I've learned is that it's best to have folks who specialize. So I have buisness managers and a top noch staff helping me, while letting me work out new ideas and test them for our company. I do take time to do the actual corporate work... but for that actually takes up a very small portion of my day."

5th of September, 2004, 09:02

The No Fronts? Aw, hell. Shoulda known some jerk would ask that fecking question.

It's true, they had rejected him and it's never sat well with Wreck. Amoral mercenaries have certain requirements, certain characteristics they look for in prospective applicants, and Wreck just didn't pass the test. He'd figured he had everything they wanted: muscles, a desire for money, and a certain moral flexibility not normall displayed in people. But he learned that they needed more in a member; they needed someone who could cook.

His mouth had almost dropped open and he'd nearly done a comic double-take when he'd learned their only opening was for a field chef. Oh, they said they'd call him if anything else opened but of course he never heard back. Stupid mercenaries. Besides, Wreck's cooking is as deadly, if not moreso, than his fists. Maybe he should've taken it after all.

The reporter waits in the uncomfortable silence, and looks like he's trying to decide whether or not the question should be repeated. Wreck resists the urge to make an obscene gesture or to throw something heavy at the man. Instead, he tries to answer as diplomatically as possible.

"Uh, me and them had some," he says, leaning forward, "um, differences. Didn't work out...oh, but I'm glad I'm with these Centurian guys. Yeah."

Wreck smiles, looking pleased with his response. There weren't any punches thrown; he's making progress.

8th of September, 2004, 14:17

"How slightly questionable are we talking about Trisha?"

She swiftly sits down opposite you, her chin resting in her hand and giving you a crooked smile. "Nothing too serious. Nothing the God of Journalistic Ethics wouldn't let you into Heaven for. A few small bribes, some unauthorised fille-accesses."

"Trisha," he says softly, "what if we are wrong and there is no facility and the B-team is just that, a back up team. What are we going to do then?"

"Then?" For almsot the first time, she looks uncertain. "I... I don't know. But I wouldn't have come so far if I wasn't certain that something is very, very not-kosher in that place."

She digests your thoughts on the other Centinels... the Centinels, you add ruefully to yourself. If there's one thing you can be sure of in all this, it's that you're a persona non grata on the team. "Do you want to try and contact them before we head to the sation at rush hour? There was a press conference not long ago, while you were out... I suppose we could have tried to get them there, but there was some... trouble."

8th of September, 2004, 16:10
Centinel Building, New York City.
Some Trouble.
2:14 pm, January 16th 2010.

For several minutes, you parry the harder questions, answering those you can, avoiding those you can't. Luckily, Stone and a couple of PR-bodies turn up quickly to help keep things on track. Your side of the warehouse-fight comes out pretty good, if rather well tweaked; still no mention of Bolt or Actinic, but the seizure of illegal arms and the capture of Jerry O'Malley are gone over many times, as if repetition can drum them in to the public's mind. The more flippant and embarrassing questions are brushed aside, although -

"Yeah, I gots me a quest-chun!"

The bottle arcs through the air towards Quantum. Instinct takes over and he leaps back, a bubble of distorted reality erupting over his head like a shield. In slow motion, the bottle hits it and shatters, spraying flammable accelerant over the assembled heroes. A simple piezoelectric switch flicks, creating a spark...


The smell of the chemicals washes over you as you back-flip away from the others, your muscles enacting reflexes forced into them by long, hard training. You see Stone herding the PR staff away; it looks like they weren’t under the molotov cocktail when it shattered.

The Mechanic

It’s not the first time you’ve lost your eyebrows.

Not too much of the chemical got on you (sniff, sniff... petrol, a dash of cyclohexane and a dollop of phosphorous - cheap, dirty, nasty, sticky and hot, the kind of recipe any kid can get off the Net, but the ingredients are relatively hard to come by), but the heat and flames gush up into your face before you can turn on your forcefield, and you feel your skin turn raw and red as the heat smashes you, turning your eyes into soot-blackened agony.


Trying to keep a load of burning liquid from raining down on you with a spatial-distortion field is like trying to stick the proverbial diarrhea to the wall with a stapler. It slips between the gaps in your ability and splashes down on you, but that’s not the worst part - the boom of ignition above your head hits you like a stick on a drum, making your whole body spasm in sympathy, resonating. You fall to your knees, giddy, almost insensible as fiery raindrops burst around you. Miraculously, you escape without serious burns.


It was going so well, dammit. Being coated in home-brew napalm feels kinda like washing a paper cut in vinegar - ouch, goddammit.

You look down at yourself as the burning chemical sprays over you from Quantum’s distortion field. The heat feels like pinpricks burrowing into your skin, and this suit’s never gonna be the same again - luckily, your longjohns are made of some flameproof, stretchy, friction-resistant supermaterial to withstand the kind of speeds and force you exert in day-to-day life.

You’re on fire.

Brother Herrick

Tall and thin but wiry and muscled, a shaven-headed man elbows his way through the crowd as a number of goons shove bystanders aside. Waves of panic are spreading through the civilians as they crawl over themselves to get away, and some of the more ballsy reporters shout into mikes while their cameramen strive to catch the action.

Along with a variety of hoods, hockey- and domino-masks, the thugs wear white vests over various bulletproof vests, flack jackets and makeshift suits of armour - a footballer’s shoulder pads here, Ned Kelly style plate mail there - all with a symbol depicting a clenched fist with a double-helix of ‘pure’ DNA over it. The Brotherhood of Human Purity - urban terrorists with a manic phobia of Altereds, Novas and any technology they can’t understand.

There are six men, armed with DP-9s and cut down AK-47s. Two others flank the tall man and look like lieutenants, one carrying an M-4 carbine, the other a bandoleer of grenades and a sling to throw them with. The squat man with the leather sling grins as he loads another firebomb into it, beginning to swing it. The taller man, evidently the leader, steps forward, cradling a massive .50 Cal anti-tank rifle against his chest. He raises his voice:

“I’m Brother Herrick... and you God-Damned freaks can get the hell out of this city!”

Osprey: 20
The Mechanic: 17 [lethal hit x1]
Quantum: 16 [stunned for 1 round]
BHP Leaders [2]: 13
BHP Lone Wolves [6]: 12
Brother Herrick: 8
Wreck: 7

9th of September, 2004, 02:16
She swiftly sits down opposite you, her chin resting in her hand and giving you a crooked smile. "Nothing too serious. Nothing the God of Journalistic Ethics wouldn't let you into Heaven for. A few small bribes, some unauthorised fille-accesses."

For a moment Ryan says nothing, he then sighs and shakes his head slightly. "How can she be so cavalier about this?" He thinks to himself. "Your probably going to be the death of me, but in for a penny in for a pound as they say." He tells her a small smile on his face, if nothing else her enthusiasm was infectious.

"Do you want to try and contact them before we head to the sation at rush hour? There was a press conference not long ago, while you were out... I suppose we could have tried to get them there, but there was some... trouble."

"Maybe we should try and contact them, I still have that untraceable phone and the communications device, although they more then likely monitoring that pretty close. So if we go that route I don't think we should try it from her... wait, trouble? What trouble?"

9th of September, 2004, 08:10

"It was on TV not long ago. The Brotherhood of Human Purity tried to bust up the conference... things got kind of hectic, so I'm not entirely sure what happened."There's a note of whist in her voice, as if she wished she'd been there.

10th of September, 2004, 08:55

Sometimes life just isn't fair and then there's today. No wonder he never gets invited to press conferences, some freak always ends up trying to send everyone home in flames. Being torched is a pain in the ass, and back, and neck, and arms, and face, and generally anywhere else involving flesh. He isn't even sure how the others are still living. Maybe this new geek has some skill.

The prick who started this mess announces himself and Wreck has difficulty biting back his laughter. It's so difficult that he only makes a token gesture at respect before laughing, and cringing when realizing that he's still, in fact, on fire. Something needs to be done about this punk and since this fire isn't killing him, Wreck summons up his eloquence once more as he charges the Brotherhood leader.


11th of September, 2004, 01:08

'Well, I suppose it was just a matter of time...' Rob takes a moment to size up the BHP goons: the guy packing the state-of-the-art-bang-bang assault cannon is probably gunning for Wreck, and may even pose a threat to the big lug. Meanwhile, there are 8 other heavily armed maniacs gunning for himself and his teammates. Never mind the fact that he'd only just barely field-tested the new threads and sticks, and all this in broad daylight...feh. 'You did say you wanted to play in the big leagues, right?'

Rob arcs up and forward, pulling two shuriken from the flat pouches on his belt. He figured he could best protect Mechanic and Quantum by eliminating threats to them, and if he knew anything about Wreck the big fella'd be mixing it up with whoever was out front. He could at least handle the light work...

OOC: Multifiring two shuriken, attack bonus is +6 (Aerial Combat), damage +5L. If he can Spot goons drawing a bead on Mechanic or Quantum, they are the primary target. Staying with one goon unless he goes down with the first throw.

15th of September, 2004, 02:51
"It was on TV not long ago. The Brotherhood of Human Purity tried to bust up the conference... things got kind of hectic, so I'm not entirely sure what happened."There's a note of whist in her voice, as if she wished she'd been there.

"Do you know if anyone seriously hurt?" Ryan asks her, concern for the reporters and innocent people that were gathered there was easily readable.

Ryan pauses as he thinks a moment. "Damnit, I should have been there helping instead of lying here doing my best impersonation of a carrot." He grumbles as he pushes away the food in front of him, his appeitite lost.

15th of September, 2004, 03:59

"I wouldn't be surprised, they way your team.... form... team-mates fight, I'd be surprised if someone wasn't." She smiles to take the sting out of the words. It works surprisingly well.

She glances down at the half-empty cardboard box you shove away from yourself. "Are you going to try and contact them? Or do we wait?"

15th of September, 2004, 06:16
Ryan starts to say a harsh reply but Trisha's smile cuts it off before it starts, he gives her a thin smile in return. "Yea, I guess your right. We weren't exactly subtle."

She glances down at the half-empty cardboard box you shove away from yourself. "Are you going to try and contact them? Or do we wait?"

"No, I don't think we should contact them right now. The brotherhood might have done us a favor, the cops and the foundation should be more concerned about them then us and out of sight out of mind seems pretty good right now. So if we wait about an hour before leaving," Ryan says glancing at the clock on the wall, "it should be easier to get through Grand Central Station. Once we are underground and moving we can try and contact them. What do you think?"

20th of September, 2004, 14:02
The Mechanic
Owowowoowowowowoow!!!! SON of a B!&CH!!he thinks as the molotov burns him. Followed briefly by it's reiteration out loud. Shortly therafter by the dangerous weight of his guns filling both hands and leveling at the bomb thrower....
Followed by two very dangerous words. "High Caliber."

Mechanical safteylocks switch off of the pair of pistols a split second before potentially deadly bullets rush towards the fanatical cultist.

22nd of September, 2004, 01:25
Quantum looks up at the dripping mass of liquid. Most of it slides off the surface of his distortion field, but some of it manages to slip through the threshold, forming drops of white-hot oil that rain down on him. Briefly, one drop seems to hang suspended in midair, heat and light radiating from it like a beacon.

Unable to move, lying on the floor, Quantum was helpless to stop the bead of napalm from landing in the center of his forehead. Even the pain of the drop burning into his skin did little to ease his disorientation.

Feels like I'm on the receiving end of a jackhammer. What the hell happened?

He tries to regain his feet, only to discover that his legs are otherwise occupied, too busy twitching to be bothered with something like holding his weight. The best he can manage is sitting up, and that only makes his head spin even more.

For just a moment, he starts to wonder if he ever really made it out of that janitor's closet, and is only now realizing it.