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Unread 20th of July, 2010, 00:47
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Shakespeare
Mohrg [GM]

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[Issue #2] When Needs Must

Six Days Later...

Not for the first time, Pantherine began pacing. Her paws, spreading wider as she placed them one before the other upon soft grass, etched a route through the greenery by means of flattened blades; the trees surrounding her whistled, their leaves disturbed by the blustering late evening winds; the surface of the water nearby rippled and danced in the corner of her eye, distracting her as she listened to the sounds of the city.

She wanted to hear when Conduit returned. If she returned. It was a disturbing thought, that Pantherine's mutant companion might never be seen again, but it wasn't without merit: the girl had been spending a lot of time away recently, vanishing without word and then reappearing almost as suddenly. She offered no explanation as to where she went, but rather brushed off any questions with a laugh and a wave; if Pantherine pushed, Conduit's demeanour shifted to annoyed and she'd retire to her room and her gadgets and remain there until the following day.

A sound nearby caused Pantherine to stop, her front paw poised before her. Her ears twitched and -- though her hearing was far from what it should've been in such a form -- she managed to recognise the tread of nearing footsteps. Without meaning to she growled, recognising the footfalls to be too heavy to belong to her companion; she darted off out of the clearing, making for the shadows of the Los Angeles Zoo's outer walls. There she waited, watching from the dark as a couple of rambunctious, staggering youths made their way up the path, past her, and then back down the other way. She watched them long after they had vanished from human sight, and didn't remove herself from the shadows until she was certain that she was alone.

"Waiting for someone?"

Pantherine paused, her ears flattening against her skull as she looked upwards; there was Conduit, balancing upon the peak of the Zoo's outer wall, her lime green hair gleaming as it dangled earthwards. Her outfit for tonight was form-fitting and flashy, but it was mobile enough that she was able to keep up her free-roaming antics. Upon her brow sat a pair of googles; a weathered backpack hugged her shoulders and side.

Slowly, Pantherine withdrew from the shadows, and then waited for Conduit to dismount. It hadn't surprised her that Conduit had managed to sneak up on her -- the other woman knew that her audio range was not as potent as her visual or scent, and she also knew enough to approach from down wind.

"I told you not to wait up," Conduit said as she dropped down from atop the bars; they sparked and gleamed with electrical currents as she dismounted, and then fizzled dormant a moment later. "You're lucky I decided to come back early, or you'd have been waiting all night.

"Got some news for you," she continued, not giving Jill a chance to interject. "It's about Calvin." Pantherine became still -- Calvin, she knew, was Conduits on-and-off fling and, sometimes, connection with the grapevine. He hadn't been in contact for the better part of four days, and as a result both women had been forced to donate more leg-work towards the effort of gathering together the components Conduit needed for her various experiments and trinkets. Her "amusements", as she liked to call them.

"I went to his place, and it's in a state. Food's old and covered in bugs, and the house cat's dead, probably from lack of food." She glanced towards Pantherine, as though considering how this news might affect her; but then she continued, evidently uncaring either way. "From the state of the place, I'd say that it's been neglected for longer than three days. And Calvin's been acting strange for a while now, so it's not hard to imagine him suddenly neglecting to feed his precious puss.

"But where's he gone now?" She asked the question aloud, turning away from Pantherine as she glanced around at the treeline, at the depths of Griffith Park, and the shadows that lay beyond. After a long moment she growled to herself in angry submission, and then waved Pantherine onwards. "Come on... I'm tired."


They didn't share another word that night.

------------------------------

Eight Days Later...

"Look out!"

With a less-than-child-friendly exclamation, Toxin back-flipped over the flurry of bullets, and landed gracefully against the blown-open vault door of the City National Bank. He looked between the three armed individuals, and then settled his gaze on the one closest to him -- the one who had very nearly put a bullet between his eyes. With one fluid motion, he ensnared the man's handgun with a stream of webbing; one hard yank sent the weapon flying right into the face of the other robber who, shocked by the impact, blew a few new holes into the ceiling.

Offering an appreciative nod towards the bank teller who had tried to warn him of the barrage of bullets, Toxin leapt from the vault door towards the third criminal, and plowed into his waist, the bull-rush carrying them both to the far side of the room. Winded, the criminal cried out and flailed, but was quickly silenced when the Symbiote used the tackle's momentum to plough the man into a nearby table, breaking it -- and the man's stream of consciousness -- in one, satisfying expression of violence.

"Stay still freak!" came a shriek from behind. To which Toxin answered by plastering the man to the wall with his own black, sticky barrage. He cried out in shock and anger, and thrashed against his bindings, but he was unable to free himself. But his mouth still worked unhindered, or, at least, it did until Toxin saw fit to seal it with a second stray of webbing.

"Freeze! Police!"

The cry came from the front doors, to which the remaining robber looked with a wide-eyed look of near-hysteria. He dropped his gun and threw his hands up in the air, muttering to himself as she looked between his two companions -- one unconscious, one stuck to a wall. He didn't look at Toxin; then again, neither did most of the others.

With a nod towards the few police who didn't offer him scornful, distrusting looks, Toxin made towards the bank's entrance, stepped into the glowering sunlight, and then readied himself to move on. Before he could leap away, however, a pressure upon his arm caused him to turn; standing before him was the police Lieutenant, the one who had been interrogating Evan over a week ago after the bus crash. Toxin blinked behind his mask: the man was even more imposing and formidable up close than the teenager remembered.

"Toxin," the man said slowly, tasting the name on his tongue as he observed the hero closely. Toxin felt his stomach tighten as he waited for the Lieutenant to speak further -- since the warehouse incident, the police had stopped throwing accusation after accusation his way, but that didn't mean that they had begun singing his name to the heavens. In fact, the majority of them ignored him, or at least tried to when they weren't glaring at him distrustfully.

"This isn't New York. We don't have superheroes here, and that's how everyone likes it." He glanced towards his subordinates as they rushed into the bank, preparing to move the robbers, and make safe the many bombs that they had brought with them in order to get through the bank vaults. "Things are simpler when you're not bombarded with the unknown, when the threats we face aren't beyond comprehension."

His dark eyes locked upon Toxin, and he took a step nearer. But his tone, whilst unwavering, wasn't as oppressive as the teenager had expected it to be. "I'm not blind -- I know that first-impressions aren't always correct, that you're a good person trying to do good works -- but I can't congratulate you. You're a vigilante, just like the others, and if I ever have it in my power to bring you down, I will."

The Lieutenant turned away, and started towards the entrance to the National Bank. Before he vanished from sight, he looked back at the Symbiote and added simply, "Thanks for getting here in time. Now get out of here."

------------------------------

Her movements were curious, drawing his attentions like a flame does a moth. Agile and quick, she danced over the rooftops like a dancer, and he followed from above as silently and dexterous as he could manage. But tonight, like the previous nights, it would always end with her evasion, with her vanishing into the dark, into some secret place that he had, of yet, been unable to find.

If anything, her skill at remaining beneath the radar only drew Igneous to her more. Of all of the young supers, Conduit was by far the most enigmatic -- she didn't go to school, didn't work, didn't socialize, didn't smoke or do drugs, and yet she somehow managed to remain upbeat and determined, somehow managed to survive the harsh jungle of concrete that was Los Angeles. How, without a benefactor, did she accomplish this?

Setting down atop the balcony of the Saint Vibianas Cathedral, the gargoyle lost himself to his musings as, once again, the girl vanished from sight. He could pursue her, go to ground level and begin scouring the buildings, but tonight was alive with activity down below -- he'd be spotted, the police would be called, and that would birth a confrontation that he didn't desire. No, now was not the time to hunt the young woman -- he could feel the call of the ebbing sun, and the cracks that formed in his body told him that he was long overdue for his merging time with Stone.

And then came a scream. Igneous' head turned so quickly, so sharply, that he rained pebbles down on the balcony's edge. His wings extended, and he took towards the source of the noise -- the Kyoto Grand Hotel and Gardens -- as quickly as he could.

But he was too late -- he knew that even before he had made half the distance. His vision, potent as it was, allowed him to watch the woman, sickly and frail despite being no older than twenty, mount the edge of the Hotel's roof. He felt his body quake with an emotion that he didn't understand as the women threw herself over the edge of the building, her body racing towards the ground, and the array of onlookers who had assembled there to watch her plummet.

He heard the thud -- wet, sickening, weak -- and he knew she was dead. He hovered in mid-air, ascending so as to reduce the chance of being seen, and then looked towards the police department. Even now he could see a flurry of movement, as officers on foot raced towards the scene of the disturbance.

Igneous remained for as long as he could. But eventually, as it always did, the call of the Stone summoned him home.

------------------------------

Nine Days Later...

"What the hell is happening to this city?"

Evan looked up from his text book, fixing Johnathan with his gaze as the older student of Stark Highschool peered angrily at the front page of his newspaper. Silently, Evan decided that the pose, the expression, all served to make Johnny look older than he was. Then again, given that Johnny was prone to rants about injustice and the need for change, such posturings were common.

But he was a good man, for his few annoying habits. He had been friends with Evan even before the encounter in the caves, and had stuck by him throughout his heroic rebirth into the public limelight. When others had condemned him for allying himself to a mutant, he had merely shrugged their comments aside, or ignored them altogether. And when Evan's other followers showed up -- his adoring public -- and became too much, it was Johnny that distracted them long enough for Evan to get away. Not that Johnny didn't get anything out of it, of course: the added attention was enjoyed, even if he didn't admit it.

With one aggressive motion, Evan's companion threw the newspaper down on the table between them, and pointed accusingly at the header. "See that? That's another suicide -- six in as many days!" Johnny sat back in his seat, crossing his arms with a frown as he shook his head. "Ain't right."

Evan leaned over the newspaper and began reading. As his friend had noted, the suicide -- that of a young woman who had thrown herself from atop the Kyoto Grand Hotel and Gardens just the other night -- had brought the recent death toll up to six. Men and women from all over Los Angeles, all ending their lives without hesitation; none of them had any prior signs of depression or psychological deterioration. It didn't make sense. But then what did these days?

Leaning back in his seat, Evan exhailed and looked towards his friend, who was watching him closely from atop his glasses. He wasn't plain, but had yet to grow into the good-looks that his bone structure promised; his broad shoulders worked well for him on the football field, which was the main source of his popularity outside of his role of 'superhero's friend'.

"Ain't right..." Johnny said again, the sadness of his tone oddly sincere. And then, suddenly, he sat up, and gestured towards the door to Evan's rear, to which the young hero looked: glancing their way was a tall, balding man in a sharp suit. The figure approached purposefully, and then set down an envelope in front of the General; before he could be asked who he was or what he wanted, the man turned on his heels and sped away through the corridors and out of sight.

A moment of silence. A union of raised brows. The two teenagers looked over the envelope and then, slowly, Evan sheared it open with his finger. The contents pooled out into his hand, and he looked them over curiously: the first item was a bundle of tickets, six in number, laced together with an elastic band; the second was a piece of paper, folded in half down the middle. Evan opened it.

Thanks.
-T.S.

Evan looked towards Johnny, but his friend was as stumped as he was.

------------------------------

Eleven Days Later...

Eddie glanced sideways, his steps quickening inadvertedly as he led the way down the street. Beneath the sunlight he felt warm and relaxed -- states of being that Ashley's presence seemed to heighten increasingly. She kept pace with Eddie as they started the walk home after school, and she resumed her ongoing conversation with him about the sudden emergence of supers within the city limits. It was a topic that she had not tired of yet nor, Eddie thought, would she, at least not for another month.

"I told you he was a hero," Ashley said, grinning as she, once again, proclaimed Toxin's innocence. Eddie didn't mind -- the smile she offered whilst thinking of the costumed hero was certainly something that he didn't mind being subjected to again and again. "He stopped a bank robbery three days ago; saved a bunch of people from a mugging shortly after.

"Oh, and did you hear about the crates they pulled out of the warehouse?"

Eddie slowed very slightly his pace, and braved a more full-on glance at Ashley -- this was something she hadn't already said to him. Being new information, he found himself curiously drawn to her every word.

Satisfied that he was eager for her news, Ashley continued, "Apparently the police say that the crates were full of weapons." She paused, and Eddie blinked: weapons? But hadn't Stark Industries stopped producing weapons ages ago? As though mirroring his thoughts, Ashley nodded. "Police won't comment, and Stark Industires aren't saying anything about it. But what if it's true?"

There was a long pause, and the teenagers used the moment of reverie to continue on their path. The city was alive with movement all around them, and yet the background noises didn't seem to linger on Eddie's ears; he was thinking of that night, of the dangers he had faced since then, and of the troubles that would no doubt arrive with the future.

And so it was a surprise when Ashley asked, "Hey, do you want to come and see Final Bastion with me?" When Eddie frowned, expressing his confusion, Ashley pressed. "Final Bastion. It's a band from the east coast; they've started touring Los Angeles, and my brother's got me some tickets. I've got enough for you too, if you wanted to go?" She fell uncharacteristically silent, and seemed to find new interest in the horizon straight ahead.

But then he nodded. Ashley smiled, tucked a piece of hair behind her ear, and then said softly, "Good."

------------------------------

Fourteen Days Later...

The band was called Final Bastion, according to the header on the tickets and, judging by the price listed in the bottom-right corner of the piece of paper, were fairly popular. Sold out, the bouncer on the door had told them, which wasn't hard to believe, given that the cue to the chosen building vanished around the corner, and circled around towards the street's far end.

Evan looked up at the building and frowned: it didn't look that big, especially not given the number of people that were huddled against the wall in waiting, but he couldn't argue with what was laid out before him. He offered a glance over at Johnny, who was grinning in anticipation as he adjusted the zipper on his jacket for the third time.

"So yeah, these guys are popular in Washington," the teenager was saying. "Don't know why they upped and moved though -- apparently this is a one-off gig, so we know they're not touring." He shrugged then, and grinned. "Still, should be a good night out, right?"

Evan had to agree: so far, it was a good night out. Wearing a hat and other assortment of well-chosen garments, he was able to avoid being recognised by those outside of the venue. It was strange, being able to go outside without fear of being mobbed; he couldn't deny that it was a welcome relief, even if it was momentary.

Fidgetting in the growing shadows, Johnny checked his watch, and then grumbled audibly. "How much longer we got to wait?"

------------------------------

The sound of combat boots striking stone announced Conduit's presence to the waiting panther. It didn't surprise Jill that, for once, Conduit hadn't tried to sneak up on her: since finding out what had happened to Calvin, she had been far from herself. She had become adamant in her work, and humourless in all else. Her hair, still purple, rippled in the rush of the late evening wind, and her eyes narrowed as she surveyed the line of eager metalheads down far below.

"He's in there," Conduit said simply, "the guy Calvin met the day he killed himself."

Pantherine leaned in closer to the edge of the building's edge, and purred softly to herself as she looked from face to face. It was hard to make one person out from the other given the size of the congregation, but it didn't matter; they knew he was here.

"He's expecting you at around midnight," Conduit pressed, adjusting the strap on her self-constructed gauntlet; "he'll wait for you by the bar, and will be wearing a light blue sweat-shirt and sunglasses. He won't be hard to spot. When you find him, I want you to find out what the hell he did to Calvin."

Pantherine turned her gaze upon Conduit, and studied her for a long while. Though she took pains to hide it, the woman was hurt by the death of her on-and-off lover and contact; she had been eager to go forwards with the plan herself but, as Jill had pointed out, it would only result in violence or worse. Conduit was unstable, and her friend had been quick to adjust the other woman's plans: she would meet the contact, this Patrick Lipman, and she would find out what he knew.

"Don't frighten him off," Conduit was instructing, turning her back on the scene below. "If he doesn't talk, get him somewhere private and make him."

The mutant said nothing else, but instead started back the way she came, eager for the embrace of the shadows and the oncoming night.

------------------------------

Ashley gripped Eddie's arm tightly, the excitement of the upcoming show making her fidget and grin and look around herself frantically. In any other place, at any other time, passersby might've thought her damaged or disturbed, but here she was just like so many others who were waiting in line.

"This is going to be so cool," Ashley whispered eagerly. "Thanks for coming, by the way."

Eddie nodded, offering her his own smile; before he could say anything, however, something caught his eye, and his body stiffened. He looked up past Ashley's shoulder towards the building across from him, and the large, misshapen figure that was perched upon its edge. What the hell was it? He squinted, and tried to make it out -- he was certain it wasn't just a stone ornament, for he was certain that he had seen it move. Was it a bad guy, come to ruin his one night of non-heroing? That'd be his luck.

But then something else caught his eye -- another figure, on the roof across from the one he had previously been studying. And he saw... a cat? Yeah, it was a cat. But it was one big cat. He swallowed, ignoring the frown that Ashley offered him having finally picked up on his sudden change of demeanour.

"Eddie? What's wrong?"

---------------------------------------------

Editor's Notes: Okay! Sorry for the abrupt end to this post, but I'm going to give you all a chance to a) expand on what details I've given of the past two weeks of in-game time with your own designs, and b) get back into things before I move the game on.

Incase the above isn't clear, I'll summarise what's happening to each character:

Evan: You've got six tickets to the Final Bastion gig. I made the assumption of saying that you took Johnny with you; who the other four are, if anyone, are up to you.

Jill: Conduit found out that Calvin had taken his own life, and since that time has been... different. She dedicated herself towards finding out why her friend took his life, and her efforts were rewarded with a name -- Patrick Lipman, a shady figure who Calvin had been meeting the day he died. In order to prevent Conduit from killing the man in a fit of rage (as Pantherine assumed she would), you offered to take her place in the interrogation.

Eddie: You're there with Ashley, using the tickets her brother got for the show. You've just seen Pantherine and Igneous, but Ashley hasn't yet. If Evan made a point of telling you about Jill and Igneous, then react accordingly; if your screening of his calls means that he didn't get the chance to inform you, then, again, react accordingly.

Igneous: You've been following Conduit again, and have finally tracked her to this gig, where she's met with Jill.

For the sake of the story, you can all spot one another, if your characters have a reason to be looking hard enough. It might also be worth detailing what else you've been doing in your downtime, since such details will help keep the others in the loop. (This might be important; an example is in the case of Eddie, and his screening of Evan's calls.)

I don't think I've missed anything, but I can never be sure. Everyone be sure to post up their Lines of Experience into their C.A.D.s before they post here.

If there's any questions, post them in the OOC Thread.
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Last edited by Shakespeare; 20th of July, 2010 at 00:57.
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