Investigation Day One…
It was night and Slingshot stood over Nanite’s dead body… if dead was the right word for talking about robots.
Scott had tried to check up on the silver woman and when she didn’t immediately reply to his email, he went around to her place (Nanite had told him where she was staying when they had laid plans for lunch).
It was a dilapidated tenement building in Brooklyn. Scott walked up, tried the door and got no answer. Compressing his form down to one inch thick, Slingshot slid under the door.
The room was darker than an honest politician’s prospects. The light switch didn’t work. Scott unlocked the door and let the hallway light weakly illuminate the room and there she was.
Layers of paint peeled off the crumbling walls of the shabby, barren studio apartment. Looks like robots didn’t need chairs or tables or beds or phones. Did they even need apartments? Lightning flashed in the window, revealing rain against the black, night sky. Thunder followed.
Scott’s communicator activated. Sentinel was calling all of Vanguard to someplace in the Bronx. Scott’s ability to slingshot himself for miles could get him there quickly.
But Nanite was lifeless on the floor. There were no visible “wounds.” Rain on the window reflected across her metal skin, creating the illusion of steel melting. She looked a little different than at their last meeting, more like a machine now and less like a woman.
Her empty, silver eyes also reflected the rain.
The Blue Comet found the burn victim’s hospital and went there disguised as a civilian. It was Bellevue, 1st and 27th, on the east side of Manhattan. Understaffed and underbudgeted, Bellevue was a triage center for Big City’s walking wounded. John Does washed up here. The doctors were the same defeated shade of grey as the walls.
Through a talkative, gum-smacking nurse named Doris, Comet managed to learn:
· This John Doe was found on the Chelsea Piers almost burned to death. “This was three, no four weeks back. He was inna coma til just a few days ago. We all took him for a goner. Then he woke up crazy. He still ain’t been identified, poor bastard.”
· “I heard some other fella was sniffin’ around here askin’ about him last week. Reporter.”
Unable to legitimately visit an unidentified patient in critical condition, Comet returned that night and secretly entered the burn victim’s private room via an open window and quickly extinguished his flame, due to the oxygen tanks by the bed. Rain was falling hard across Big City.
Then Comet’s communicator activated. Sentinel was calling all of Vanguard to someplace in the Bronx.
The patient awoke with a start and from beneath his face’s web of bandages, his red eyes widened in complete terror. Looking directly at the Blue Comet, he screamed in a scalded, cracked voice: “Yellowjack!! No! Please! I told you everythin’ I know! I swear it! Please, God! No more! NOOOOOO!”
In harmony to his screams, the heart rate monitor sounded dire warnings.
Nurses would be in there momentarily.
Sentinel monitored internet chatter onboard the Omni-Carrier with a cadre of CHESSmen. His expert skills and paranormal abilities impress the team and uncover the following:
For some unknown reason, criminals and thugs are coming into the city from all over the country! This is the source of much of the chatter; the logistics of moving and mobilizing crooks.
As anticipated, no chatter about extranormals.
Sentinel also discovered a hot lead! Several men were being organized via text messages to be at an address in the Bronx at 11:00pm… in twenty minutes!
Sentinel got a set of initials: DS. These orders were being given in his/her name.
With all the other heroes away doing their own legwork, Sentinel had a choice between doing something alone and doing nothing. The choice was easy. In civilian clothes with his costume underneath, Sentinel flies through the rainy night to the Bronx destination! CHESS agents mobilize to follow and will only make it there in time to serve as back up.
Sentinel also called Comet, Strike and Slingshot on his Vanguard communicator, but received no answer… yet.
Sentinel knows that Strike’s communicator “evaporates” when he transforms to living lightning.
With minutes to spare, Sentinel cautiously set up his stake out position in an alley a safe distance from the address, which appeared to be an abandoned store front on a desolate street in a dangerous neighborhood.
All was quiet. Nothing happened. Did Sentinel get the location wrong?
Then two long black cars turned onto the street and parked in front of the address. Seven men piled out and silently moved to the storefront door. The cars were still running and Sentinel thought he saw the men pull rifle-sized objects out from under their topcoats…
Lightning Strike electronically surveyed known drug locations in an effort to trace things back to the underworld’s Five Bosses.
Security cameras became his only eyes out of cyberspace and into the real world, and that world was rendered into grainy, silent black and white. Human vice and graft turned into smudged pixels and bits, and Strike saw:
The drug traffic flow seemed to have stopped! Drug house activity now centered on carloads of men coming and not leaving.
Phone calls were Strike’s ears on Big City; whispered conversations amongst the underworld’s desperate grifters and hired killers. Fearful of tapped lines, they spoke in an arcane slang code, but Lightning Strike gleaned that:
A gang war is building… between the Five Bosses!
Tensions between them are high due to some event that happened around a month ago. Strike doesn’t uncover what this trigger event was.
He also hears that the Five Bosses’ real names are never spoken.
Then Strike saw something through a city traffic light camera. Some doors down from a drug house, a fire raged. Strike had the camera zoom in and saw three men in a dark alley throwing Molotov cocktails at the back of a building. It was a residential area of a tough neighborhood, with homes packed in tight together.
Camera’s time stamp read 11:02pm. Camera’s location was a corner in the South Bronx.
Kairos has read that murders in New York City are up, and they seem to be mob related killings.
Restless one night, he walked the city streets with his costume hidden beneath his clothes. In time, he found himself guided, as if by some invisible hand, to one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the Bronx. Trance-like, he walked through the rainy streets until in the distance he saw hungry flames devouring a building. Through the rain, he could barely make out three figures in a dark alley throwing Molotov cocktails at the back of the blazing structure!
It was a residential area, with homes packed in tight together. Lucky for the good people of this neighborhood, Kairos was in the right place at the right time… again!
Scott cannot believe what he's seeing. How stupid could he have been? It had been right there in the email. He had been just happy that she had replied. He had not concerned himself with that one line.
He looks around for anything that makes sense. Anything at all.
[OOC: I'm looking for anything that might point to something that had occurred or someone that would have done this. A mark, a piece of paper. This will not be an in depth search of everything, just a once-over. The results may change what comes next.]
The ringing of his communicator brought him back to reality.
He was needed. Sentinel wouldn't call without good reason. Slingshot wasn't going to let ANOTHER person down.
He bent down and caressed the cheek of Nanite and whispered, "I'm so sorry." He knew, he could be of no further help, but Vanguard/Chess might be able to help, she was a robot after all.
He called Vanguard HQ and sent in Nanite's coordinates and her status. He methodically and efficiently explained the situation. To get someone with the know how to see if something can be done for her and to search the whole place for something that would point to the murderer.
Next, he responded to Sentinel's call, "I'm on my way". He opened the window, let himself out an closed it behind him. Reached out for the top of the next building, anchored and propelled himself at his destination.
John glances around to see if there is anyone nearby, though he realizes that, with the rain, the night and the flickering shadows no one would be able to get a good look at him, anyway. He steps into the shadows of an alleyway and shrugs out of his clothing, pulling his mask in place.
Kairos then emerges from the alleyway, unwinding his cable and snapping open his grappling hook as he sprints toward the three arsonists, trusting to the clamor and rain to mask his approach. Sizing up the three and their positions relative to one another, Kairos throws his grappling hook toward the ladder of a fire escape hanging down on the far right of the group and, when it catches, runs to the left, holding the cable low and hoping that the men can’t see the line in the darkness and the rain.
(OOC: If it’s not immediately obvious, I’m trying to trip them up all at once and, with luck, entangle them and inhibit their movement to make it easier to fight them once I finally enter hand-to-hand. Regardless of the outcome, Kairos will close with them and go hand-to-hand…he’s just hoping to make it easier and quicker this way.)
Kairos sees the flames leaping skyward but the root of the problem must be dealt with before anything else is done.
Issue 27 Addendum:
When Sentinel realized that they would be needed to help track down Skin Deep he realized that they needed some way to detect her; an extremely difficult prospect given the lack of information available about her and their brief time in her presence during the chaos of the mission. If they had a telepath available at least they would have a margin of hope of identifying her covertly if they stumbled upon her during their investigations; without that, they could be speaking to her and not know it.
Sentinel got to thinking about energy again and his theories about “universal” energy and all energy ultimately being linked together at the most basic level, with different types of energy taking different paths and being identified differently.
He thought about the fact that people and animals definitely had a unique energy signature. Various philosophies spoke about this; acupuncture and acupressure was based on manipulating this energy… certain mystical ceremonies also accounted for the presence of this energy.
If people and animals had this unique energy signature, what if in addition to this basic “life-force” energy flow, those “gifted” had a unique signature that differed slightly from that of people or animals? Kirk hadn’t thought about any of this before, hadn’t really tried to hone his energy sense to focus in on this sort of energy, but perhaps those with gifts might be changed in some way so that their chi was altered in such a way that it would be perceived differently by someone with Kirk’s abilities.
Kirk began to use his energy sense to try to “read” the people around him as he met them. If there were any animals in his surroundings he tried to do the same with them. He began to take notice of the signatures and colors and flows he “received” from people. Then he did the same with some of the gifted supers in his presence and compared.
Would Kirk find gifted supers personal energy readings to be different than normal people or animals readings?
Jeff: Hope this idea was made clear by the above and not sure if you’ll allow it, but I thought it a cool way to use Kirk’s energy perception abilities in a new light and perhaps give the team a means to identify Skin Deep in their presence.
Please note that if this is feasible use of Kirk’s powers and he successfully can perceive a difference of some sort between a normal person and a super, he would NOT share this information with anyone because the ramifications and potential backlash of such information could be too great in the wrong hands.
On to Issue 28 Replies:
Sentinel took the time to learn the name of the leader of the Chess team regarding internet monitoring and his “key” agents on their team (if they were organized in such a fashion) figuring that he’d likely be working with them in the future closely.
Before leaving, when he found out the information about DS being the initials of who gave the orders he said to the head of the team, “Let’s get a search running through the Chess files and databases regarding known criminal and suspected criminal figures and aliases with the initials “DS” and once we’ve got that cross reference them to known location tie-ins to a reasonable radius around NYC and financial assets to be a key player… and if you have time, perhaps you can also do a list of the initials cross-referenced with NYC holdings and huge financial assets not necessarily with criminal links known… find the money and you find the power. Likely he’s too smart to use his own initials, but perhaps we’ll get lucky or even an alias will pull something pertinent to give us further leads here.
As Sentinel prepared to fly off he activated his transmitter and said; “I’ll keep in contact and keep you apprised of what I find. Keep my apprised of the ETA of the Chess back-up teams and get the satellite tracking focused on that address and the surrounding area now so you can let me know of any out of the ordinary activity going on.”
(Jeff: Let me know who I’ll be speaking to on the transmitter, will it be the team I’ve been working the net with? Or Grey, Drake, Lamb? Etc Thanks)
Kirk focuses on the building to sense if there is any energy flows out of the ordinary, anything suspicious. Especially in this situation, he expects to find nothing, but follows his normal protocol to check.
As Kirk arrives and gets stationed in the alley he reports to his Chess contact of the lack of activity. “Any ETA on the Chess teams? Do you have the satellites focused? Any unusual activity in the area?”
As the limos arrive Kirk informs Chess. “Well, it appears that the intel was correct and that something is happening here. I’d suggest Chess teams be ready to checkout whatever is inside the building upon arrival. I’m going to try to stay undercover and investigate once they enter.”
Kirk again continues to use his energy sense to see if there is any extraordinary activity coming from the vehicles.
As the men leave the vehicles, Kirk tries to get spy out who is leading the men; who is the “first” and “second” in command, likely those giving silent directions through motions to the others. Any success from his vantage point in seeing who is in charge?
“Wait, damn. I’ve seen enough movies to know a “hit” about to happen. I’ve got to do something…” that was the last thing Kirk was able to say into his communicator before taking action.
Kirk had to think quickly. The most important thing he could do is gather information at this point, and he didn’t want anyone to know that Vanguard was involved in the activities here yet, not if it wasn’t necessary.
Kirk held back as he watched to be sure that he was reading things correctly.
In the alley, the normal bright or translucent hue of Sentinel’s powers became darker to an uncharacteristic hue for Kirk. Blackness surrounded him as his translucent shielding shifted into the darkness. Under the dark cover of the night his energy creation crept across the street in an almost imperceptible layering, until it flowed under and all around the area of the men exiting the vehicles, unperceived and unknown to them; its blackness blending into the night.
Kirk was ready now, if these men began to act in a threatening way, if this was a “hit”, Kirk’s creation would begin to shake violently and to grow in appearance around them. Black dark tendrils coming from below them would reach upward grabbing at them, entangling them, (if the creation could become sticky as it grabbed at them it would do so); for these men, it would seem as if the gates of hell had opened up beneath them and was reaching up to engulf them.
Kirk’s hope would be that this would scare the hell out of them and ruin the element of surprise so that they would abandon whatever they intended to do. If that didn’t work, or if it seemed that an attack would come after this men once entangled from whoever was inside the building, Kirk would manipulate the “tendrils” to raise them all up into the air out of reach, perhaps suspending them some stories higher or depositing the lot of them on a roof above depending on the situation.
Kirk hoped to do all of this without even revealing his presence, but if he was forced to come out into the open, his identity would be well-hidden in the darkness surrounding him, and he could identify himself as a new “operative” in town if he wanted to do so.
He sees the men throwing the Molotov cocktails and narrows in on the location. He thinks to himself "A few less drug dealers in the world wouldn't be such a bad thing but that fire could spread and innocent people could be killed. That's not something I am willing to let happen."
He follows the electrical grid up to the Bronx and materializes hopefully about a block away from the location. He radios Chess to tell them to put a 911 call in to get the fire department working on the blaze quickly.
It looks to Strike that the gang war has started. It's time to take the three thugs out and find out who they are working for. I will attempt to engage them hopefully leaving only one conscious so that I can interrogate him. Regular electric bursts should be enough to take out these guys.
That's all for now, short and sweet.