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"Let's Get This Straight, You're The Sidekick!"

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  • "Let's Get This Straight, You're The Sidekick!"

    This is a campaign journal I've been posting to the Giantitp forums for a while and thought might be fun to post here too for some extra feedback. This was the first time any of us had ever played Mutants and Masterminds and the first time either of them ever stuck with a tabletop game for more than fifteen minutes. We only meet sporadically, but we've managed about 16 sessions so far and are coming to the end of the arc.


    Setting details: I wanted a low-power game to keep them from gaining powers and then immediately attacking the city, so we started at PL5 and as far as they know they're the first superhumans in history. They gain their powers in classic comic book fashion from a mysterious green gas and a horrible accident. The setting is present day Ventnor City, NJ; although it could easily be most any town.


    PC1: Roger McCrow
    A middle-aged former forklift operator and dockworker with a hair trigger who was laid off due to budget constraints. Worked a backbreaking job for 30 years with nothing to show for it and was riding the bus from his latest job interview during the attack. Gains the ability to control water, completely wrecks any environment he fights in. ((The title came from Roger McCrow's player, who attempted to purchase the Sidekick feat OOC; saying he didn't actually want a sidekick, he just wanted to let Fanboy know his place.))

    PC2: The Fanboy
    A twenty-something Star Wars fan/daddy's boy that's never had to work a day in his life thanks to his father's lucrative business and poor parenting. Was on his way back from a convention still dressed as a storm trooper during the bus attack. Gains telepathy and telekinesis; declares himself a Jedi.



     

    First Session

    Part One, The Accident
    The campaign kicks off on a city bus at the end of very long day. Roger has just finished putting in applications and interviewing at a local recycling center and the aptly named Fanboy had just finished convention hopping, still in a full storm trooper costume. The bus is nearly full with a mother and her 12 year old daughter arguing near the front of the bus, a young man sitting next to Roger, holding a house plant with a bow on it trying not to make eye contact with a burly biker sitting across from him and a pudgy security guard next to the Fanboy all but asleep on the young man's shoulder.

    Fanboy starts off by pestering the guard to wake up and calling him a "Lazy, good for nothing plebian." Roger, being resentful of being walked over by the upper class all of his life tells the younger man to leave the guy alone, that at least he works for a living. Fanboy tells him to mind his own business and Roger shouts something offensive and inflammatory that's better left to the imagination that wakes up the guard he's defending.

    It's around this time that the bus makes its next stop and a crazed man wearing a ski-mask and carrying a large canister with large warning labels bolts around the corner being shot at by police. As he leaps on the bus a stray bullet strikes his prize and a green mist starts flooding the bus, the bus driver is intimidated into driving away.

    Naturally neither Roger or Fanboy have noticed this turn of events. Instead they're in the middle of a fist-fight in the back of the bus where the much larger Roger is manhandling the unathletic Fanboy and ranting about over privileged brats and their stupid toys, while Fanboy is shouting that George Lucas is a genius and flailing wildly into the side of Roger's head with an R2-D2 ashtray.

    The hijacker, wanting to get control of his situation, starts shouting and demanding the two of them get into their seats and stay there. Fanboy, his dander already up, hurls the ashtray into the guy's face stunning him. Which prompts Roger, suddenly more irritated at the ******* trying to tell him how to live his life than at this random kid in a storm trooper outfit, to charge the hijacker and tackle him to the front of the bus.

    Obviously assaulting a criminal in the middle of a crime is dangerous, so Roger is shot point blank for his heroic burst of road rage and falls bleeding and unconscious into a seat. The bus driver is startled by the gunshot and turns to see what's happening, slamming full speed into the side of a movie theater and tossing the occupants around like ragdolls. Fanboy watches a middle aged man in a tweed jacket force open the back door and several people leap out before the green mist surrounds him and he too blacks out.


     
     
     
    Part Two, The Change
    It's been two weeks since the accident and Roger is the first to wake up. It's roughly midnight and he's beyond thirsty. He attempts to call a nurse, but his buzzer doesn't work and he can't think of anything besides his parched throat. He stumbles into the bathroom and begins sucking water directly from the sink. He's so focused on sating his thirst that he barely notices when the pipes in the sink burst and the water within geysers towards him. This marks the first of many times Roger completely destroys his surroundings without meaning to.

    Fanboy who was sleeping soundly in the other room however does. He opens his eyes and hears an intense buzzing in his head that as he focuses becomes Roger's voice that drones on orgasmically about how much he's enjoying his water. A doctor bursts in to see what they're doing in there and though his tone is polite, Fanboy hears his thoughts and they reveal that he both considers them freaks and wishes they were somebody else's problem.

    The doctor gives them a paper detailing the bus accident, which has officially been declared a case of bio-terrorism and is still under investigation. Sadly, the paper reports that there are no survivors. Though as the doctor points out, when Fanboy begins testing himself for ghost symptoms, that was a fabrication to avoid revealing the actual contents of the stolen canister. He mentions that there's a man from Homeland Security that wanted to speak with them once they woke up, but before he has a chance to send word of their recovery a nurse rushes in and screams for the doctor's help.
    The doctor and the PCs run into the hallway to see what all the hubbub's about when they spot a bloody streak littered with almost a dozen bodies of nurses and orderlies that stretch around the corner and out of sight and a creature that looks more plant than man ranting about government conspiracies and demanding they change him back. His wooden claws are covered in gore and he's in the middle of strangling an orderly while he issues his demands.

    Roger instinctively calls the nearby water to himself, flooding every bathroom on the floor and tearing pipes out of the wall all around them. Fanboy lashes out mentally and distracting the tree creature, allowing the orderly to escape. The tree flexes several bulbs on its chest and they bloom outward, sending choking spores into the air. Nobody makes their save vs Suffocation, so Roger uses his hero point to counter the airborne spores with the sprinkler system as a reaction. The doctor just stands there slack jawed.

    Roger focuses the nearby water into a shotgun blast that sends the tree man reeling and Fanboy uses telekinesis to throw a trashcan ineffectually (the dice hate that guy and it's became a house rule that if he fails to roll above a 10 at least once per 5 rounds he gets one free re-roll per round until he does.) but doesn't do anything but irritate the monster. The tree man charges on his round and injures Roger with a wild claw swing.

    Feeling particularly spiteful, Roger attempts to draw the moisture out of the tree (Disintegrate) and turn it to kindling but fails to manifest his most lethal power. Fanboy is suddenly very worried by their opponent's claws and decides to back up and telekinetically grapple the tree-man to keep him at a distance. The tree man releases a second cloud of spores into the air and the heroes begin choking.

    Roger attempts to dehydrate the tree again but fails to do anything more impressive than forcing a toughness save which the creature passes. Fanboy pins his opponent with his mind and uses extra-effort to as he put it 'Throw that son of a bitch into the stratosphere.' However the tree man rolls a natural 20 on his toughness and manages to brace himself enough to keep from being flung from the building. He retaliates by maintaining his suffocating spores and the heroes barely make the constitution check to stay conscious.

    Roger summons the water to himself again, gaining a significant boost to his water blast ability and uses extra effort to fire the blast on the same turn. He rolls a natural 20 of his own and between the crit and auto-fire deals +10 over PL before factoring in the (unnecessary) damage from knockback. The tree man is thrown through two separate walls and left in a pile of splinters for someone else to deal with.

    The doctor is suddenly a good deal more friendly, both in word and thought and starts looking at Roger's wound; suggesting that Roger might want to look into dodging eventually in the future. A man in a conservative suit joins them and dismisses the doctor, introducing himself as a liaison from Homeland Security and extending his thanks for dealing with the unruly superhuman. He then hands them a non-disclosure agreement that forbids them from speaking of their experiences on the bus or revealing the...side effects of their exposure to the general populace by word or deed. He graciously offers to pay their medical bills in exchange for their signature.

    Fanboy however hears Option B with a little probing and realizes that the alternative is a lifetime in a dark hole while government scientists figure out what makes them tick.

    They sign and settle in for an extended stay.



     
    Part Three, Heroics
    Roger checks his messages in the hospital and finds that the first message on the machine is from the company he was interviewing with; they ask him to come in for a second interview. His second message is from his landlord reminding him that his rent is beyond late and that he has exactly 1 week before he's out on the street. The next message is from his potential employers saying that since they hadn't heard from him in two weeks they assume he's not interested and have given the position to someone else. Fanboy is now a habitual eavesdropper with his telepathy and offers to let Roger stay in his father's guest house until he's back on his feet. He happily suggests that Roger would probably make a good groundskeeper and is genuinely confused when Roger throws a cup of Jello at him and screams 'I don't need your charity!'

    Shortly afterwards they're finally released and go their separate ways; no fonder of each other than their first meeting on the bus, but at least having earned one another's grudging respect. Roger goes home, hoping to explain things to his landlord but he gets nervous waiting for the guy to show up and floods his own living room. Long story short, the cops are called and our intrepid hero is now homeless. Fanboy on the other hand shows up just long enough to ask his dad for the cash to replace his storm trooper costume and continues life as usual.

    After a few days the two of them get separate calls (Roger no longer has a phone so he receives his call during the middle of a job search) from a man who refuses to identify himself but says he was at the hospital when they saved the doctors. He explains that he gained precognition the same way they got their powers and that his visions show a number of deaths starting at a local liquor store if somebody doesn't step in and prevent them. Since he's bound by the same non-disclosure agreement as the PCs he isn't allowed to call the cops for crimes that haven't happened yet, especially considering it's a superhuman that's about to commit them.

    Each of the heroes feel pretty badass at this point and start viewing themselves as society's only hope against the new breed of criminal, so they go to stake out the liquor store and are immediately disappointed to find that the other one is there. They spend a good twenty minutes at this point insulting each other and get into another fist fight because even when you control the primal forces of nature sometimes you've just got to punch something, and a smug daddy's boy dressed as a storm trooper on a stakeout is as good a target as any.

    Their bickering continues until Fanboy notices a bright yellow muscle car parked directly on the sidewalk in front of the liquor store and deciding that such a shoddy parking job is obviously the work of a deranged mind, focuses his telekinesis and drags the car across the street and flips it onto a random parked car, absolutely totaling both of them. Roger is impressed by this display enough that he neither curses or berates Fanboy for his callous disregard for whoever's car that is, and instead just whistles appreciatively.

    Three masked men with an uncanny resemblance to each other run out from the store across the street and are struck speechless by the display. 'My car!' the first one shouts in a pained voice. 'My dad's going to kill me...' the second one adds. 'Do you know who I am?' the third one demands angrilly.

    Roger turns around and calls out 'Nope, tell us?'

    One of the guys shouts 'I'm Duplex, master of duplication!' a second shouts 'Bradley Yurtz, my dad's gonna have your ass!' and is immediately struck by the third guy. 'Idiot, don't tell him our name!' the last guy hisses.

    The PCs take it in for a minute and then Roger blows up the fire hydrant next to him, propelling the shattered metal into the chest of one of the Bradleys and putting him down hard. Bradley however doesn't do much well, but one thing he excels at is is duplicating. A lot. He responds to the loss of his copy by creating ten more, all of which open fire with gusto on the unprotected heroes. Roger is naturally shot immediately, but with his usual macho flair doesn't take anything more substantial than an injury. Fanboy leaps behind the overturned cars and fails to hit with a telekinetic blast, his player curses until it's his turn again because it's about his eighth failed roll in a row.

    Roger uses boost to beef up his hydro blast and extra effort to send a tidal wave of hurt directly at the Bradleys. Four are crushed outright, and most of the rest are knocked down. Duplex responds by making even more of himself the rest of him open fire at Roger who's of the opinion that cover is frightened women and wants nothing to do with it, but miraculously none of them connect. Fanboy now just wants to crush the lot of them, heroics be damned and uses extra effort to lift the twisted wreckage he'd made earlier and toss it directly into the group of clones. He crushes all but five of them and stuns the real Duplex.

     
    Roger attempts to drown the rest of them like rats, but the car provides them a degree of cover and his attack is avoided. The Bradleys drag their leader into a more defensive position and return fire from what's left of their car. Fanboy, not having any of that, uses his turn to telekinetically push the car out of the way and extra effort to mentally blast one of the punks, taking him out altogether, leaving only four left.

    The PCs are feeling fairly confident in their victory until they hear the tell-tale sound of a police siren and realize they may not have enough time to finish this. Roger blasts one of the Bradleys with a burst from his handy geyser, taking the total down to three and Fanboy attempts and fails to take one out with a nearby STOP sign. The Bradleys return fire (giving each of the PCs another injury )and try to make it to the remains of their car for cover.

    A cop car swings around the corner and the heroes are suddenly in danger of violating their agreement. They briefly consider retreat, but then Fanboy decides to try out mind control on the driver; dominating the cop into plowing directly through one of the Bradleys and into the brick wall behind him. Roger, not to be outdone forces the water in the radiator to explode upwards and blanket the police car in an obscuring cloud and spends a hero point to add a scalding effect to the initial burst, taking out all but the last of Duplex's clones. Bradley is suddenly alone and terrified and tries to run.

    Fanboy tries out his mind control a second time and forces Bradley to drop his gun and climb into the back of the police cruiser. The two heroes decide that they've tempted fate enough at this point and try to flee. More cops are coming from the north, another car is coming from the south, Fanboy can sense several patrolmen on foot cutting down the alley...

    Roger kicks in a random door and runs inside, Fanboy right behind him. The owner of the place rushes downstairs with a gun, terrified of what he'll find but Fanboy projects an illusion of him and Roger as a pair of terrified children crying about their parents being in an accident across the street. The man pokes his head outside and the two heroes rush out the back door, Roger's adrenaline bursting pipes as he goes. They just barely slip past a patrol car and split up without stopping to think about it.

    By the time Roger arrives at the alley he's been staying in he finds a cellphone giftwrapped and waiting for him. It's already ringing. When he answers it he discovers that it's a conference call with Fanboy and their liaison Agent Parks already on the line. Their liaison warns them that if they continue flaunting their powers like this, they're going to wind up in custody. He doesn't elaborate on the extent of the custody, but The Hole is implied...

    He then goes on to congratulate them on benevolent, if not responsible, use of their powers and admits that he may be unable to handle the existing superhumans himself; he offers them a retainer fee in case he needs to call on them in the future. Fanboy immediately demands an obscure piece of memorabilia in lieu of payment and Roger demands to be the one to name the team. The agent stresses that 'THERE IS NO TEAM!' He reminds him that superhumans don't legally exist and that as such there can't be a super team. That this is an unofficial 'consultation', nothing more; and that under no circumstances are they to dress up and call attention to themselves.

    The agent points out that he knows Roger is in financial difficulty and offers the use of a safe house as a job perk. He's genuinely shocked to hear Roger shout 'I don't need your charity!' and the phone shatter as it strikes a nearby wall.


    Second Session

    Making It Personal
    Picking up where we left off last time, Fanboy returns home after his conversation with Liaison Parks and the volatile Roger McCrow to find two well-dressed men leaving his father's estate in the middle of the night. They sneer at his Storm Trooper costume and snicker amongst themselves, but otherwise say nothing and drive off.

    He looks for his father to ask what those men were doing here, and finds the honorable Harold Hamilton of 'Hamilton's Furniture Outpost' splayed in the corner of the room nursing a broken nose and a swelling face. "You didn't see anything Samell." Fanboy's usually stern father says fearfully. "Just remember that you didn't see anything."

    Fanboy demands to know who those men were and his father finally relents and tells him that they were from Mr. Depaliamo (a Knowledge(Street) check revealed that he was a powerful man rumored to have mob ties, known for petty, if brutal, acts of vengeance) and that they won't bother them anymore. He explains that Depaliamo wants his help in shipping certain items and that he agreed after this little visit.

    Fanboy is livid and decides to pay Depaliamo a little visit of his own.

    Fanboy's heard that Depaliamo frequents a joint called Floyd's Bistro over on Eighth and Clover, coincidentally the same neighborhood where they shut down Duplex just a few hours ago. Waiting until morning in the hopes of catching the mobster at his favorite Haunt he changes into something slightly less conspicuous and hunts down Roger, finding the homeless hero sleeping in a cardboard box in what he's now christened as McCrow's alley.

    Fanboy explains to McCrow that somebody attacked his dad and he needs assistance making sure they don't do it again. He's met with a hail of laughter and mockery that makes him change his mind almost immediately. He waves Roger off and tells him that he'll take down Depaliamo himself.

    With a sudden burst of uncharacteristic compassion, Roger grabs Fanboy's shoulder and shouts "I'm in! What kind of guy would I be if I let him just get away with this?" Fanboy is filled with a newfound respect for his new partner and thanks him profusely. Roger however hates the sniveling daddy's boy more than ever. Depaliamo on the other hand, he hates more. That's the son of a bitch that fired him.


     
     
     
    Declaring War
    Fanboy's all fired up to attack Floyd's Bistro and send a message that the Hamilton's aren't to be messed with; however Roger has a better plan. From his time on the docks he remembers that Depaliamo had a number of warehouses, but the furthest one, the one that sits directly on the water, was off limits. Even Custom's agents avoided it. THIS is where he wants to strike, especially considering that it's now quite literally in his element.

    Fanboy agrees without wondering how McCrow came into such knowledge and they soon find themselves on the docks. The hustle and bustle dies out the closer they get into Depaliamo's turf, until they get to a lone warehouse on the piers with a handful of cars outside and almost no traffic. They figure there's nothing inside they can't handle, so they stroll right in...

    They quickly find about 12 heavily armed men on catwalks overseeing eight burly dockworkers attempting to open a heavily fortified crate below. Roger calls to the nearest of the armed men and succeeds on a bluff, asking the man where their rest room is. The man doesn't bother alerting his comrades before strolling over and using rather harsh language to instruct the two men to leave.

    Fanboy attempts to seize control of the man's mind, but he proves rather resilient. Noticing the way the kid's eyes are glowing and feeling a pressure in his mind the guy asks "What the hell is that?"

    Roger quickly replies "He's just...umm....got to use the bathroom so damned bad." Needless to say, he tanks the bluff.
    The guard looks at him confusedly and says "Bullshi-" Before being cold clocked by Roger who just says "Yeah." and starts stripping the guy's clothes. Fanboy naturally wants to know what the hell he's doing, but Roger simply shushes his 'partner' and tells him that adults are working.

    Before Fanboy can make sense of what's going on, Roger is dressed in the man's clothes and sprints across the warehouse to a forklift, which he uses to plow through five of the eight dockworkers outright, mangling the poor bastards and killing three of them instantly.

    Fanboy uses his Mental Blast to take out one of the guards on the catwalk above him before running up himself. The guards at this point don't know who to shoot first; the kid waving his hands and making them have seizures or the crazy hobo in the ill-fitting suit tearing up their merchandise. They decide to flip for it and fire at will. Fanboy has a fairly beefy Force Field which absorbs the onslaught of bullets. Roger however has a few plink off his vehicle, but several tear through him causing severe damage. If that wasn't bad enough, the dockworkers have grabbed various melee weapons and are trying to drag him out of the forklift for a little vengeance of their own.

    Fanboy takes out another of the men on his side with another Mental Blast and Roger (apparently forgetting about his superpowers) rams two more of the dockworkers, pinning them against a crate and using extra effort to kick the last one in the face, putting them down with enough violence to make the Punisher proud before leaping out and taking cover.

    At this point I asked Roger's player why he wasn't using his powers, and he explained that this was going to be HIS warehouse and he didn't want to wreck it up before moving in. Considering he was nearly dead, riddled with bullets and had more than half the warehouse to contend with; I admired his optimism.

     
    The guards open fire on the intruders again, Fanboy is slightly grazed and Robert catches another handful of bullets, he's nearly dropped to dying; but spends his last hero point to re-roll and manages to only be disabled instead.
    Fanboy takes out the last man on his side and lowers himself down to the crates below. Roger, suddenly feeling like the warehouse isn't worth dying over, closes his eyes and begins summoning water to himself through the cracks and crannies of the flooring. The guards open fire, but the two heroes are pretty well in cover and nothing gets through.
    Fanboy sneaks through the crates to avoid detection and attempts to flank the guards. Roger draws yet more water up from the flooring and begins to be encased in a sort of liquid cocoon. The men fire again and several strike Roger, but he miraculously stays in the game.

    Fanboy attempts to grab one of the men above him with telekinesis, but fails to make contact. Roger finishes drawing water to himself and becomes a 30ft tall water monster; his wounds being knitting themselves shut and he's nearly eye-level with the terrified guards on the catwalk. Two of the guards bolt towards the office on the far-side of the catwalk, the rest fire in a blind panic towards this new and horrible enemy they've discovered.

    Fanboy manages to head them off and readies Gravity Control in anticipation. Roger grabs his beloved forklift and hurls it into midst of the remaining guards, killing four of them outright and causing the catwalk to collapse; skewering and killing the other two. He suddenly feels bad and realizes he sucks at being a hero. The other two men reach the office where 1,600lbs of force suddenly crushes them where they stand.

    Roger uses his newfound size/destructive rage to tear the forward wall out of the office and bellows terrifyingly. He swings up to their level, losing mass the whole time; before suddenly realizing he's no better equipped to handle more than half a ton of weight than they are and collapsing into a heap.

    Fanboy realizes what's happening and stops applying pressure, Roger and the men each leap for their guns and ole McCrow winds up with both of them. Fanboy and Roger discuss a plan to use these guys to lure Depaliamo into an ambush, but they prove less than co-operative. Roger decides to fire an encouragement shot into one of their knees, but instead rolls a natural 1 and gets the guy right in the privates. He bleeds to death pretty much instantly.

    The last man standing shrieks in terror and starts to flee, but Fanboy focuses his mental energy and manages to take control of the guard's mind. Holding him in place until Roger can tie him to a chair. Roger is riddled with bullet holes and on his last legs, so they debate on what to do next. Fanboy wants to cauterize the wounds himself, but Roger refuses to let a blowtorch near himself; and after dismissing Fanboy's claims that "It can't be that hard, I saw this in a movie." he forces his partner to call Dr Kavlight (whom they saved from the tree-guy in their first outing) at the hospital and tell him there's been a super powered emergency. The doctor can hear the two of them bickering as Fanboy tries to make it sound like a legitimate power failure, while Roger shouts in the background "Don't mention the gunshots, they have to report those. Tell him it's hero related!" "You mean power related?" "Whatever, I'm bleeding here! Tell him that, but don't tell him why!"

    So the doctor comes out and despite the fact that they'd hidden most of the bodies, can see that there has been a massacre here. Blood and gore are streaked everywhere; there's a screaming man tied and gagged in the same room that Roger is collapsed in. He asks what's going on and Fanboy replies "That's need to know, and you don't need to know." Kavlight doesn't accept this and threatens to call Homeland Security, but Fanboy gives him a heavily altered take on events and it's accepted without any further fuss.

    The doctor does what he can, but the worst of the injuries have already been taken care of by Roger's affinity with water and he asks the pair to stop by the hospital for some actual treatment as soon as they can.

    Meanwhile, Fanboy telekinetically tears the door off the safe in the room and discovers about $500k in new bills and an old leather ledger. He memorizes the contents with his Eidetic Memory but finds nothing that he sees as important and places them both back. Going through the rest of the warehouse he finds a number of crates that resemble his father's filled with cheap furniture that his father would never sell, and others loaded with cheap knock-off action figures which hide a considerable amount of cocaine. The fortified crate which the dockworkers were trying to get into is no match for his mental strength and after tearing it to pieces he finds military grade weaponry inside.

    Surprisingly, at this point the two of them do the responsible thing (after dumping corpses and flooding the place to get rid of that 'Just butchered' smell) and call their Liaison at Homeland Security who's pretty pissed that they can't seem to understand 'non-disclosure' but is never-the-less impressed at the scope of the operation they interrupted. They turn over everything except the ledger, even the half a million dollars worth of dirty money, but Roger plainly states that the warehouse is his. Nobody seems to argue so he takes that as a victory and the few surviving witnesses to their rampage are led away in cuffs while his former employer has lost his most profitable schemes.



     
     
    Meeting Brick, Their (Current) Greatest Mistake
    Figuring that now's as good a time as any to make sure everything's in one place Roger asks Fanboy to drive him to the hospital, forgetting his usual mantra of "I don't need your charity".

    They look for Kavlight and find him still stationed in the cordoned off area of the hospital those in the know are referring to as 'superhuman recovery' and the rest of the hospital believes to be a quarantine zone. Seeing as by Roger's own admission he'd been shot more than a dozen times since breakfast, the good doctor makes him the priority and gives him a thorough examination. Puzzlingly he finds that almost all of the hydromancer's wounds seem to have healed of their own accord; and the bullets even seem to have been ejected from his system. As they're discussing this rather miraculous recovery however, they hear an inhuman bellow from down the hall and the unmistakable sound of a wall being kicked down.

    They rush to see what's going on, Roger doesn't even stop to put on pants (much to his own delight) and find a 10ft rock creature shouting/sobbing for them to change him back. He shoulders past the orderlies attempting to lead him back to his room and the Kavlight asks for our heroes' assistance in calming him down.


    Fanboy attempts to telekinetically pin the creature, but finds that even his mental strength isn't enough to slow it down. Roger attempts to parley and tells the creature that everything's going to be ok, he tanks his diplomacy roll and gets some rather foul language tossed at him for his trouble. With a sigh he unleashes the elemental fury of water (destroying the hospital's lady's room in the process) but his attack fails to do anything but enrage the creature further.

    'Brick' the rock monster charges Roger and pins him easily, crushing the injury prone hero against the wall with one hand. Fanboy changes tactics and uses Emotion Control to temporarily calm their opponent down while Roger continues his attempts at Diplomacy to let him know that they're going through the same things he is, but everything is going to be all right.

    Things seem to be going well until Fanboy botches a bluff check (natural 1, no skill ranks, charisma penalties. Total roll: -1) to convince him that there's a cure in the works. Brick asks if they think this is funny and serendipitously rolls a natural 20 to resist Emotion Control. The creature's eyes flare and he resumes crushing Roger, shouting "I know you two *******s now! You're the ones who set there fighting while the hijacker held a gun to my head!"
    Fanboy's confused but Roger's(and his player's) mouth suddenly gapes open and he says "Oh crap....it's the bus driver!" Fanboy panics and attempts to telekinetically pin again, just barely managing it. Using a hero point he throws Brick down the corridor and away from them. Roger immediately attacks the floor beneath with a super powered burst of water and Brick is sent crashing down where he receives his first injury of the fight and is covered in a torrent of water.

    Roger and Fanboy lower themselves into the fray and find that they've landed in a waiting room of some sort. They shout at those waiting that the whole floor is giving out and they need to leave; hoping that they haven't given away their secrets yet. It doesn't take much prodding to leave them alone with their quarry.

    Fanboy immediately reapplies his telekinesis and manages to pin Brick beneath the water, but is disappointed to find that the rock man can't seem to drown. Roger sees an overabundance of water and hatches a plan. He begins drawing the water to himself while Fanboy wrestles with the irate bus driver.

    Fanboy barely manages to hold Brick at bay for the two rounds it takes for Roger to assume his Battleform, but it pays off when McCrow nearly fills the room with his new bulk. Roger takes over grappling while Fanboy assaults Brick's mind with his Mental Blast round by round.

    Brick finally breaks free and starts slugging it out with McCrow, forcing Roger's player to spend his last hero point to avoid being knocked out outright.

    The timely arrival of Liaison Parks with something that looks like a fire extinguisher that fires nitrogen turns the tide in their favor permanently. Roger and Fanboy hold Brick still and Parks freezes the berserk rock monster solid. Parks just shakes his head at the rampant destruction around him and just says "I should've guessed..."

    Before the two can explain themselves he waves them off and asks for their assistance in taking Brick to 'The Hole'. Roger thinks this is a trick to get them there and immediately tries to flee, but Fanboy stops him and talks him down. Fanboy reasons that with all the destruction the two of them know they're capable of, it'd be pretty unlikely that even the government could contain them if they wanted to leave.

    Parks is...less than thrilled with this line of reasoning but assures them he needs their help and is offering them a job. They grudgingly accept.

    'The Hole' is a run-down warehouse in the industrial district that looks like it's about to fall of its own volition. Inside however is a state of the art, temporary prison built to contain superhumans. True to his word, the Hole is in fact dark and the six 10x10 glass cells that feature in the center are lit sporadically by flickering overhead lights that seem to make things worse.

    As they escort Brick to an empty cell they find that there's only a single occupant held in the Hole, Bradley Yurtz aka Duplex. The terrified teen bangs on the walls of his cell and tries to shout to them as they pass, but no sound escapes. They suddenly decide very much that they don't want to stay here.

    They bring the still frozen Brick to a cell without a floor and lower him down before bringing in a couple of guys in overalls to seal him into the foundation with fresh cement.

    Parks gestures around and says that this is where the dangerous ones go, those who prove that they can't be trusted in the general population. Fanboy asks where the tree-guy is and Parks goes quiet, before admitting that the tree is the reason he's short-handed.

    The creature calling itself Tree King killed the guards posted to watch them (and nearly killed Bradley as well) before disappearing. The rest of the agents under his command have been sent to bring the murderous plant back at all costs.
    Parks then asks for their help in bringing in a new superhuman that's in police custody before they find out what he is. He's being held in the drunk-tank at the moment, but there have been six hospitalizations since he's stated his intent on leaving and the injuries keep piling up. Parks assures them of compensation once the target is in his custody and the two heroes agree that this seems fair.


     
     
    I'll Name Him Lucky OR How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Hate the Mob
    Fanboy drives them to the police station and find the place in a bit of a mess. A police car is wedged into the building itself and more than a couple of officers seem to be limping or nursing other injuries. Once they show the papers the DHS gave them for the transfer the drunk is tossed at them with obvious gusto. They may not know WHAT he is, but the cops know they don't want him near them.




    As they lead the drunk out he seems very agreeable and holds each of them in a friendly embrace while he tells them how much he appreciates them getting him out of there. Once they're out of the station he walks directly past their car and tells them that he'll see them later. Fanboy demands he get in the car and he just laughs "Why should I?"
    Roger charges the guy to drag him back physically but slips in oil and falls face first into the grass. Fanboy growls irritably and tries to force his will onto the grinning drunk and orders him to cuff himself and climb in the car. To his dismay that's exactly what Roger does.

    The drunk giggles and continues to saunter off at a leisurely pace. Fanboy doesn't trust his powers at the moment and attempts to chase after the Drunk, only to discover that somehow he's managed to get his foot stuck in a grate. In a panic at seeing all their good-will with Agent Parks seep away he shouts out "I'll pay you not to leave!"

    Now he's not exactly sure what this guy's power is, but he doesn't care. From what he's seen: things go well for this guy and poorly for people that this guy doesn't like, and that's enough of a reason for him to suddenly want to be very bestest friends with him.

    The drunk one eyes Fanboy for a minute and then slurs "You don't think I've got money? I-I-I don't need your money, I've got money! You think I don't?"

    Fanboy offers him all the booze he can drink and a warm place to sleep it off if he'll come with them. The drunk says that he knows the deal with Parks and that using his powers in public is a big no-no, that he's not falling for this.
    Fanboy assures him that they'll work it out with Parks to keep him out of the Hole, since he doesn't seem to really be malicious, just....drunk. The drunk thinks it over and agrees that this could work.

    Now it's worth noting that I meant for this to be a recurring 'villain'/nuisance for the players to really want to knock down a peg or two for his ridiculous luck, but they instantly thought he was a fun guy and neither of them really wanted to fight him to begin with, especially considering Roger's often unintended lethality. When Fanboy lured him to the car with promises of tequila and candy they checked the inside of his suit jacket and found the name 'Daniel Brown' along with an address sown into the lining. They felt bad for him and started calling him Lucky Dan and treating him like a pet. So not the way I intended it, but I think I like this better.

    Dan sleeps soundly in the backseat and they pull out of the police station to visit the ABC store, but they don't get far before they believe they've had a blow-out and slam through a nearby fire hydrant. The two heroes climb out to discover that their tires are missing completely.

    They look around for a moment before noticing a man in a red leather jacket leaning against the trunk of their car, twirling a tire iron in his hand. The two of them look at each other for a second before Fanboy shouts over to the guy and asks him if he's some sort of effing gremlin or something.



    The guy sneers at them and casually strolls around the car. He taps the tire iron against his hand and asks "Do you idiots know who I am?"

    Roger grins broadly and boasts "Ha, I was about to ask you the same question."

    The guy nods and says "Yeah. You're the dead men what poked their noses into Depaliamo's business."

    The wind instantly goes out of Roger's sails and he just goes "Oh...you do know who we are then."

    The stranger blurs momentarily and both Fanboy and Roger suddenly have a distinct tire iron shaped bruise along their cheeks, however their opponent still looks as though he's casually examining his weapon as he was before. "How the hell did you do that?" Fanboy (and his player) asks with a little outrage.

    "Same way I unscrewed your tires at 30mph. Compared to me? You guys are standing still. People don't call me Johnny on the Spot for nothing." the guy says, dripping with self-confidence. Heedless of the gawking witnesses Fanboy attempts to telekinetically grapple the speedster, but misses horribly. Johnny taunts with "Boy, you even think slow!" Roger tries to direct the geiser from the broken hydrant towards Johnny but fails to make contact.

    Johnny delivers two more imperceptibley fast blows to the heroes before running directly up the wall of an adjoining building. Fanboy, bleeding profusely from his head, uses Gravity Control to blanket the area in overwhelming weight and Roger takes advantage of the now slowed speedster by making the building he's on outright explode with a burst of water from every pipe inside bursting at once, causing the remainder of the confused witnesses to run away.

    They have no idea whether it's working or not but continue the onslaught, until suddenly a flash of red rushes past and clocks Fanboy directly in the jaw. There's nobody in sight however, so they decide that they need to put the tires back on and try to get out of there. They wake up Dan and ask him to help them out, but it takes a while to explain what they want him to do and he still seems fuzzy on the details.

    They collect the tires while Dan 'covers them' taking the occasional blurry blow to their knees, back and arms before realizing he can't actually control his powers. Roger attempts to replace them after they've been collected and Fanboy readies Gravity Control to activate the second he sees a red blur and is rewarded by crushing Johnny to the ground yet again, although he catches himself and Roger in the blast as well.

    Johnny grunts irritably but seems satisfied that his savage beating has been enough of a warning and tells them that "The next time you mess with Depaliamo, things are going to get serious." before crawling out of the power and speeding away.

    They call Agent Parks on the way home from the liquor store and explain their situation. That they're keeping Lucky Dan. Parks is more than a little enraged, but they explain that he's not really dangerous he's just not in control, but seems easy enough to placate. They ask to be made his caretakers to keep him out of the Hole. Parks agrees on the condition that they are completely liable for Dan, anything goes wrong and the punishments fall on their shoulders.

    They also mention the speedster and give him a description, as well as the name Johnny on the Spot. Parks tells them to hold for a few minutes before coming back and telling them to be careful. He believes they're up against John Knowles, a heavy hitter in Depaliamo's organization that's used as a sort of all-purpose fix-it man. He tells them that they don't have much more than a name on the guy, but he's suspected in more than a dozen hits. They agree that this could be a problem and tell Parks that they'll be in touch.



     
     
    Retaliation
    Depaliamo has pissed them off. Johnny has pissed them off. Organized crime has more or less pissed them off. Our heroes are now on the warpath.

    They stash Lucky Dan at their warehouse with a couple bottles of assorted spirits and a bucket of chicken and head to Floyd's Bistro to pay Depaliamo another visit.

    As they pass by the site of their battle with Duplex they see a number of trucks blocking off the street and men tearing up the water line. Roger stops to ask what's going on and they explain that there's been a number of unexplained accidents in this neighborhood and that they're trying to find the problem. Roger winces guiltily and slinks away.

    The restaurant is only a block over and it's closed, since no water means no service, however they glance inside and see that a number of thugs are still around. Four can be seen from the street and Roger bangs on the door. The closest one to the door turns and says "We're closed." But Roger acts like he can't hear and continues banging.

    The guy walks over to the door and mouths an exaggerated "Weeee're Cloooosed." But Roger asks to use the bathroom. The thug shakes his head and repeats that they're closed, but Roger is persistent. The thug grabs a bat and heads outside to run the two of them off, but Roger throw a haymaker that lays the guy out flat and the bat becomes his.

    They step inside and the three remaining guys gasp when they see them. Fanboy manages to pin two to the same table and Roger charges across the room and brains the last one with a mighty swing of his bat. The pinned thugs shout for help and a woman in the next room answers with a plea for help of her own.

    A suited man with a very large rifle rushes into the room from a private dining room and is rewarded for his vigilance by being hit by two thugs and the table they're pinned against, crushing the three of them and blocking the doorway. Another man pushes the table out of the way and two more well dressed men similarly armed open fire, catching Roger in the shoulder and bouncing off Fanboy's forcefield.

    The lack of water in the pipes is a bit of a problem for Roger McCrow, but only a bit. Instead he focuses on the man that pulled the table out of the way and forces the majority of the liquid out of his body, leaving the former soldier as a shriveled, gasping husk and Roger with a basketball sized globe of water hovering above his hand. Roger hides behind a table as four thugs with pistols file out of the other room and the hail of bullets fails to do anything of significance.

    Fanboy manages to catch five of the seven guys and hurls them across the room into a crumbled pile of broken bones and bruised flesh, and Roger knocks one of the remaining thugs out with a blast of his stolen water, before using a hero point to charge across the restaurant and break the last man's jaw with a blow from his bat. Roger strolls into the private dining room tapping his bat into his hand and shouting in a sing-song voice "Depaaaliiaaamo. Come out and plaaaay."

    The terrified woman tied to a chair stammers at the sight of a middle aged man in a speedo wielding a baseball bat singlehandedly busting up a Mafia hangout and challenging the most dangerous man in the city to do something about it. Fanboy at least has the presence of mind to untie her as Roger continues looking to slake his bloodlust.

    "He's not here." she says rubbing the feeling back into her wrists. Roger immediately assumes this to be a trick and threatens her with the bat "You'll tell me where your boss is or I'll-" Fanboy moves to calm him down by pointing out that you generally don't tie up employees. She looks at the two of them and asks who the hell they are to pick a fight with Depaliamo like this.

    Roger extends a hand and smirks "McCrow, Roger McCrow and badassedness is the game. And...you are?" he asks as seductively as a bleeding, half-naked man that had threatened to kill her less than a minute ago can be.

    "Elizabeth Ingles, investigative journalist. I was working on a piece about organized crime when these guys snatched me up. I've got to say, the two of you would make a fantastic story!" she says excitedly.

    Roger's mouth gapes and he just looks at Fanboy, "Ohh....s***. I just told her my name. Do we...do we kill her?" he asks, genuinely sad despite the fact that I have no doubts he'll do it.

    She starts to panic when Fanboy grabs her by the head and finagles his powers enough to erase the last few hours from her memory. On the upside, she no longer knows about their suspicious partnership. On the other hand, she no longer knows why she's got rope burn or why a bleeding man in a speedo is gawking at her. She's understandably upset.

    They fall back on lying to explain their presence and say that they found her "Blacked out and tied up on their way home from...swim practice? Yeah...swim practice." and after she's calmed down she decides it's better to get out of there than keep asking questions from potentially unstable men.

    Once Ingles is out of their hair they search the manager's office and find a couple of goodies. Fanboy pries the safe out of the wall and finds $200k worth of cash that they decide they deserve for their trouble and assorted pictures that they ignore. What really catches their eye however is a series of filing cabinets that the two of them immediately fall on looking for information on Johnny Knowles. Fanboy finds a file and the two of them glance at each other with wide grins and start laughing.

    Depaliamo has to pay, of course, in due time. But the bruises dealt by Johnny on the Spot are still fresh and recent, and if there's one thing neither 'hero' can stand it's a fight left unfinished.

    So they take what files they can fit into Fanboy's car and leave Depaliamo and Johnny a simple note in the empty, shattered safe: "Now it's serious. Step into my home again and I'll break your ****ing neck."



    Third Session

    Renovations
    Things started off innocently enough; Roger was using his $200k worth of drug money to improve his stolen warehouse while Fanboy attempted to find out where Johnny lived from his pilfered file so they could ambush him in his sleep; figuring he wouldn't have as much spring in his step if caught unaware.

    Despite their brazen attacks on the most powerful man in the city they remain unmolested in the days to come, to everybody's surprise. Fanboy discovers the reason why when he notices a large number of daylight drive-bys in the newspaper; most of which correlate with suspected Depaliamo fronts. Apparently rumors of their (successful) two man war against the Italians have given Chavenski the notion that his rival is weak and stupid, making Depaliamo ripe for extermination.

    In the following week, Roger installs small grates in the warehouse, so getting to his precious water won't wreck the floor any longer and personally begins construction on living space for himself and Dan; spending the rest of his stolen cash on: an infirmary (now Dr Kavlight can't give him lip about not having the equipment to deal with his numerous gunshot wounds) a security system(with alarms tied to automatically call their phones), a back-up generator, a sprinkler system (in case the ocean was stolen maybe?) and a workshop for fiddling around in.

    Agent Parks stops by during the renovations and has Roger sign a couple of forms, which McCrow does without even reading them. Luckily the DHS agent has their best interests in mind and hands Roger a deed to the warehouse, stating that he arranged to purchase the building at an impromptu police auction for $1. Roger accepts the deed but proclaims that he didn't ask for any help and Parks isn't getting his dollar back. Parks is more than a little irritated that his gesture was dismissed so quickly and leaves without another word.

    It's during this time that Lucky Dan declares he's leaving. He's finally sobered up and doesn't like living in a damp warehouse anymore. Roger tries to show him the rooms he's building, but Dan misses his kids. Fanboy's surprised to learn that the drunk that's been sleeping on their floor the last few weeks is a family man and asks if his wife won't be perturbed that he's been gone so long. Dan asks what month this is and Fanboy tells him; Lucky Dan laughs and says that she'll be surprised to see him back so soon. Remembering their last (onesided) tussle with the guy, Fanboy doesn't try to stop him, but demands he call in DAILY and tells him that if he needs a place to get liquored up to come here IMMEDIATELY. Dan agrees and calls a cab.

    Getting back to business, Fanboy asks his dad for a contribution towards his new 'job' and his dad seems rather pleased (especially since it's been weeks since he's seen his son dressed up like a cartoon character) until he hears the $50k price tag on his son's 'independence'. Mr Hamilton instead slides his checkbook back into the drawer and tells his son that sales have been slipping and he doesn't have that kind of money just lying around anymore. Fanboy realizes he doesn't know enough about his dad's business to tell if that's a lie or not. Roger's spiteful gales of laughter when the two of them talk of it later however, gives him a pretty good idea.



    Looking For Johnny
    Fanboy decides to focus his attention on the matter of petty vengeance and pulls Roger away from his work to help him track down Johnny on the Spot for a bit of two fisted justice.

    They arrive Johnny's apartment and after a bit of ESP recon, they discover he's not home. Breaking down the door they find that Johnny seems to live in his own filth; pizza boxes and discarded wrappers litter the floor and old papers are piled chest high as far as the eye can see. With disgust, they realize that the badass hitman they've been watching over their shoulders for is a hoarder.

    The two of them split up to better search the mess and find similar disaster areas in the other rooms. Roger finds a pile of bills and notices that they're from three different addresses, and stuffs them into his pants before attempting to 'hack' Johnny's computer. Roger has no Computer Use at all and his player suggests that he doesn't even know the basics; so he accidentally manages to turn it off and can't figure out how to turn it back on.

     
    Meanwhile, Fanboy discovers a 'burner' phone in the bedroom, charging under a pile of clothes. He looks it over and discovers a few phone numbers, including Depaliamo's, and more than a dozen text messages that consist of nothing more than an address. He notices that the last text sent is unread and only a few minutes old, so he makes note of the location before scrolling up. Fanboy notices that the second to last text is the address of the police station they were ambushed at and the date matches their scuffle. He realizes Depaliamo's given Johnny another hit!

    Fanboy pockets the phone and finds Roger threatening the computer in the next room with physical violence. Fanboy snatches the laptop up before Roger's temper loses them a lead and tells his quick tempered partner about Johnny's text.

    Roger agrees that this is top priority and after stealing Johnny's flat screen T.V., determining that his couch won't fit in Fanboy's car and bursting every pipe within bursting range and turning Johnny's apartment into a pool of filth they race to save the day.



    Saving the Day
    They arrive at the address and find a massacre in the works. Depaliamo's men are advancing on an apartment building and slaughtering everything in sight in retaliation for their recent losses. Men, women and children lay in pools of their own blood on the steps leading up and a frantic gun battle rages inside.

    A handful of men guard the entrance but Fanboy grapples them telekinetically and tosses them across the street where they land in a crumpled heap. Roger dives into a small fountain and rises in full monster form a moment later, roaring (however water roars) and barrels through the front door like the Kool-Aid man.

    Inside there's thirteen Italians firing at four Russians hiding behind overturned benches, however the appearance of a thirty foot water monster tearing up the lobby convinces the Italians that there's bigger things to worry about. Roger grabs the first man he sees and absorbs him into his form. Fanboy snatches three of the others and tosses them against the wall, knocking them unconscious. The remaining nine open fire on Roger, but only five are even able to harm him in his new body and only two of those hit, they all scatter and take what cover they can.

    Roger's wounds close rapidly and he moves to block the Russians with his own body, snatching up another Italian as he goes. Fanboy grabs two more and slams them face first into a pillar, knocking one of them out. The one that Fanboy snatched fires back at him, grazing the telepath (his player realized it was the first time he'd been shot and panics IC) before running into the stairwell.

    Roger fires a blast of water at three of the gang members clumped together and takes another two of them out. Fanboy lashes out in a blind rage/panic and snatches the man who shot him from his hidey-hole, using him as a bludgeon to take out another of the men opposing them. Roger realizes he's sort of drowned the two men he'd plucked up and ejects them at one of the remaining men, leaving a grisly heap. The remaining men fire at Roger, but he regenerates as fast as they can damage him.

    Roger fails to snatch another man with his elongated form, but Fanboy is still in full-on Carrie mode and uses the unconscious form of his attacker to beat the last two nearly to death before tossing the broken body aside.

    The Russians slink out of their barricade, empty handguns clutched in their hands. The Russians and the heroes stare at each other for a minute, while Roger's massive form melts away. Finally one of the Russians come forward and stammers out a thanks.

    Fanboy wants to know what Depaliamo's men were doing here and the Russians play dumb until Roger threatens to tear the place apart to find what they wanted. The Russians rush to calm McCrow down and admit that Chavenski owns this building and puts a number of his guys up here. They also rush to point out that less than a quarter of the building is on Chavenski's payroll and only about half the people that Depaliamo mowed down even knew what was going on.

    Fanboy suddenly realizes that they're smack dab in the middle of a gang war and asks the men if they could put him in touch with Chavenski. The Russians agree and phone numbers are exchanged. Roger on the other hand is anxious to ambush Johnny.

    I ask him why he expected to find Johnny there and his player points out that they found the address on Johnny's phone. Fanboy's player realizes that him taking it means that they can't set Johnny up here. Roger suggests sneaking back into Johnny's apartment and replacing the phone, but Fanboy reminds him that he sort of blew the apartment up. They both leave disappointed.



     
    Attack on the Warehouse
    Arriving at the warehouse they set Johnny's computer up in the communications room and start pilfering. Fanboy discovers that Johnny isn't very security conscious and most of his bank account information is saved in Notepad. It takes about twenty minutes to empty Johnny's account and leave the two 'heroes' several hundred grand richer.

    They then get the brilliant idea to text Depaliamo and ambush him at their warehouse.

    Why they believed that Depaliamo would walk into an ambush at a place that he knew they inhabited after losing a considerable number of his men and presumably being contacted by Johnny about the loss of his phone/home, I'm not sure. I asked them if they thought that this sounded like something an intelligent man would do and Fanboy's player replied by shouting "Send!" at the top of his voice.

    A couple of minutes later they get a call from the same guy that warned them about Bradley Yurtz a few weeks back, saying that he had a vision of them being gunned down and warning them that by a clock he saw on the wall he believes the attack to be coming in about six hours. They thank the Prophet for his warning and seem more irritated that their ruse had failed than the fact their murder has been pre-ordained by fate.

    They discuss the best way to defend themselves as Roger uses his newly repaired forklift to block off the front door with various crates and boxes packed as high as possible. Fanboy debates calling Agent Parks but Roger really doesn't want to piss their liaison off, especially after their last almost friendly encounter; so they weigh their options.

    Fanboy tricks Lucky Dan into coming by and calls up Chavenski's men, saying that they've got a minor problem with Depaliamo and they'd really appreciate a little back-up. Since the four thugs feel like they owe the PCs for saving their hides, they show up as quickly as possible. The four Russians apologize that it's just them, but explain that Chavenski doesn't feel like this is his problem. The heroes are just glad that they don't have to do this alone.

    Roger watches the monitors while Fanboy scans the perimeter with his ESP and finally they see the cars unloading and soldiers moving to surround them. Fanboy and two of the Russians take the northern entrance, Roger and the other two take the southern door with the tall barricade. The doors burst open and men rush in from both sides. Fanboy sees five of Depaliamo's well-dressed soldiers rush from the north and he manages to dash two of them against the wall. Roger (in his 30ft hydroform) tackles the barricade as soon as he hears the door open and crushes half a dozen thugs into a fine paste. Six more look on in terror. Depaliamo's men open fire on both ends and one of the Russians to the north goes down immediately, but there are no other injuries.

    Fanboy takes out one of the remaining Italians on his end with a Mental Blast and Chavenski's man takes out another. Roger comes down like a hammer on the group of terrified thugs and crushes three of the six beneath a mountain of water. It's around this point that Fanboy finally notices the faint sound of a saw cutting through their roof and two heavily armored men with large guns and bald heads rappel through a new opening and land in the middle of warehouse, they both open fire and Fanboy is severely injured by the barrage of bullets. Depaliamo's men fire where they can but don't accomplish much and Chavenski's men are similarly ineffective.

    Fanboy grabs the men and tosses them northward, so the boxes he's lying against can afford him some cover and Roger leaves the remaining thugs and charges northwards delivering a fearsome punch that knocks one of the well-armed assassins off his feet. The two assassins open fire with their massive guns and nearly shred Roger despite his new form, hitting the man held within. Roger topples over and the water surrounding him becomes tinged red with the blood flowing freely from his wounds. Depaliamo's and Chavenski's men engage in their own private gun battle.
    Fanboy attempts to separate the assassins, but the target evades his telekinesis altogether. Roger's wounds slowly begin to knit themselves together, but he finds he can't quite stand under his own power. Chavenski's men from the south slide next to their companion to the north, apparently the thugs defeated. A burst from the assassins kills another of the Russians outright and leaves Fanboy holding a bullet hole in his arm and fighting to stay conscious. The final normal soldier of Depaliamo is killed under the combined fire of the remaining Russians.

    Fanboy tries to take control of one of the assassins, but finds the man's will to be too strong to overcome. Roger finally manages to stand up, but that's all he manages to accomplish. Another round of fire from the assassins destroys Fanboy's hiding place and stuns Roger. Neither hero assumes they're going to make it at this point, but neither is willing to give up their warehouse for anything.

    Enter: Lucky Dan. Holding a six pack with his finger while swilling beer from a can and walking right past the surprised assassins. "Is this what you people wanted my help with?" he slurs, one eyeing the carnage around him but seemingly oblivious to the armed men behind him. "Look, I appreciate you helping me out with... helping me with Agent...guy." the drunkard stammers. "But I'm not a maid. You'll clean up your own accidents!"

    Fanboy just stands there staring at Dan with his mouth open (delayed his turn) and Roger is still trying to get his bearings. The first assassin fires at Dan and fails to meet his hefty Deflect check, so somehow he manages to shoot his friend in the back. Shouting curses the whole time, the second assassin tries his hand and crits! Rolling to defeat Dan's Deflect, he gets a 26; almost unbeatable at the PL we're playing at. In a stroke of genuine luck, Dan rolls a natural 20 on his deflect and the assassin's gun explodes in his hands, sending a portion of the stock directly the forehead of the man behind him. Fanboy's player at this point is cackling his head off because he'd been wanting to weaponize Dan since the first time he saw his knack for getting out of trouble and now his bribes were paying off.

    Fanboy attempts to grab the assassin again, who dodges the attempt and lunges forward; drawing a two foot blade from his jacket and avoiding Dan completely. The assassin impales Fanboy and would have turned the young man into a corpse if not for the expenditure of a hero point which left him hanging on by a thread. Roger loses his giant form but still moves to melee range to pull the assassin away before Fanboy loses his head.

    Fanboy finally manages to grab his attacker with his mind and pins the struggling assassin to the roof with telekinesis. The telepath uses extra effort to apply damage and manages to break the assassin's arms before simply letting go and letting the fall knock him out.

    As everything's wrapping up Fanboy learns that the assassin is just one of a number of freelancers brought in by Depaliamo to help secure his powers, and that he's done jobs for Italians and Russians, but he's not loyal to either side.
    Chavenski's men gather up their dead to return home and Fanboy offers them a sizeable income to come work for them as guards. Neither of the Russians are willing to take that deal since they've seen what these guys consider a 'little problem' and want no more part of their lives. They call it even and tell the pair to expect a call from Chavenski.

    Dan is still so blitzed that he doesn't quite understand what's happening, but insists that he was just sleeping when they called him and returns home despite his promise to only drink under their observation.

    Once alone, they pry bank account information out of their attacker Roger uses a pair of pliers and a welding torch to convince the assassin to call Depaliamo and declare the pair dead. They then dispose of the bodies, wash the place out and try to decide what to do with their little witness.

    Fanboy suggests drowning him and leaving him for the fishes to deal with, but Roger is firmly against this. When Fanboy points out that McCrow had killed nearly a dozen people in the last week and that this seemed like an odd time for him to start to feel bad about it, Roger gets irate.

    "I'm not STARTING to feel bad about it Samell! I DO feel bad about it. I felt bad with the forklift, I felt bad with the bat and I felt bad about drowning those men at the apartments. But THAT was in the heat of the moment, so I live with it. It was us or them. But this? This is murder! He can't fight back, and he's no threat to us. We can't just kill him."

    Samell points out that he's seen their powers and they stole his money, not to mention the whole attempted murder thing. Fanboy points out that he's too strong to mind wipe and they can't just let him go. So Roger calls up Agent Parks for another deposit.



     
    Revisiting the Tree King
    Parks does not care for the state of things when he arrives. Even without the bodies he knows that this was a massacre. Fanboy is barely in one piece and everything is marked with bullet holes. Parks looks around and declares "This place looks like it survived a gang war. How do you explain that?"

    Roger lights up a cigar and shrugs. "We won."

    Parks definitely doesn't care for the implications in THAT, but they load up the gibbering assassin (Fanboy couldn't erase his memories so he worked him over mentally a bit to compensate) and Parks tells them in no uncertain terms that he's not their personal gang member depository. That this is the last time he's cleaning up their mess.

    Both Fanboy and Roger are sort of panicked at this, since they just assumed Parks HAD to watch over them. Like junkies finding out that they've had their last hit, the two of them start trying to make a deal to get just one more!
    While they're begging for just one more unconstitutional secret imprisonment Parks gets a phone call that gives them their opening. Apparently the agents assigned to track the self-proclaimed Tree King tracked him to an apartment building and all but one had succumbed to his spores.

    Fanboy can barely stand so Roger offers to go alone if it means access to secret prisons, but Fanboy points out that McCrow doesn't even own a car; so he'll have to go with him. Parks doesn't have much choice, since he's down only a handful of men, all of which are busy elsewhere; so he tells them to be careful, but that this only means he owes them a favor not that he's became their personal warden.

    The PCs figure that anything's better than nothing, so they limp to Fanboy's car and go to find the apartment. By the time they arrive there's almost a dozen casualties scattered over the first two floors and the last of Park's men assigned to the case is among them. When they finally find the monster he's flanked by a pair of sentient trees that follow him like dogs. The three of them are attempting to batter down a door while a woman inside shrieks bloody murder.

    Fanboy is pulling himself along the wall painfully and Roger suggests he stay out of the way while the adults talk. Tapping into a water line he begins his transformation while Fanboy ignores his advice and tries to get their attention.
    Tree King recognizes them from the hospital and sneers. "Stay out of this. It's between me and the whore!" he shouts as he begins splintering the door with his wooden claws. "It was her damned plant I was holding! Her fault I'm a monster! How does she take responsibility? She dumps me when she sees what she's done to me!" he rages, sending his minions to tear Fanboy apart. The woman's screaming starts to falter and she begins loudly gagging and shouting about how her cactus is alive.

    The two trees move to engage but Roger rushes between them and Fanboy and begins a three-way grapple. Fanboy catches one of them telekinetically and dashes it against the second one, causing one to shatter lifelessly. Tree King continues clawing the door out of his way and Fanboy shouts that he can take care of a tree, Roger needs to clear that door.

    Roger charges down the hallway and tackles the Tree King about thirty foot, pinning him against the far wall. Tree King instinctively releases a cloud of spores but finds that Roger's water form simply ignores the effects. Fanboy mentally attacks his tree and manages to sever the link that keeps it moving.

    Roger manhandles Tree King, throwing a powerful haymaker and tossing the smaller opponent down the hallway. Tree King charges and claws like a cornered animal, injuring Roger even through his watery exterior. Fanboy stumbles to the door but can't manage to get it open.

    Roger and Tree King continue exchanging blows while Fanboy probes the interior of the room with his ESP to find out why he no longer hears screaming. He finds a barricade holding the door closed and Tree King's former girlfriend collapsed and unmoving with a cactus hovering over her and spewing some sort of spore of its own. He manages to sever the connection the same as with the tree and haul the barricade out of the way while Roger and Tree King's fight spills back into the connecting hallway.

    Fanboy rushes to the woman and finds her barely breathing on the floor. With each attempt at reviving her, it seems like her life ebbs a big more until he finally manages to get through and she gives a small gasp. Not much, but he'll take it. Dragging her over his shoulder he stumbles into the hallway and shouts for Roger to forget the fight and follow him.
    Roger (severely wounded at this point and unable to regenerate fast enough to keep up with the beating being handed to him) nonchalantly tells Fanboy to take the girl and leave, he'll wrap things up here.

    As soon as Fanboy and the dying woman reach the stairwell his form becomes more than he can handle and the water simply falls apart, leaving him face to face with the most dangerous superhuman they've met so far with nothing between them. Roger leaps forward and plants a punch directly in Tree King's jaw, but the creature's bark-like skin is unfazed. Tree King, seeing that Roger is no longer protected by his layer of water re-opens his bulbs and spews another round of spores into the air, turning Roger into a coughing, suffocating mess.

    Roger bursts a pipe behind the mass-murdering plantman and hits the creature hard enough to interrupt its spore delivery and stun it momentarily. Before it can recover he's grabbed a nearby fire axe and within a couple of rounds turned it into little more than screaming firewood. By the time Parks arrives, Tree King is nothing but silent splinters.
     



    Staffing the Warehouse
    After stumbling into the hospital dragging Tree King's victim, Fanboy succumbs to his own injuries and passes out. A few days later Fanboy finally wakes up after extensive surgery and decides to pay the girl he saved a visit, discovering that her name was, ironically enough, Heather.

    Knocking on her door, he finds Roger eating a fruit cup and bragging about how he singlehandedly beat Tree King to death and saved her life while slurping the juice, as his player described it, seductively... He's doing his best to take advantage of one of the few opportunities he has to brag about his exploits, but can't seem to accept that a girl half his age and pumped full of drugs might not want to feel his bicep or hear how many pieces he left her former boyfriend in.
    "The hell do you mean you saved her?" Fanboy asks hoarsely, "I performed CPR, dragged her out of that apartment and drove her here."

    Roger sets his fruit cup down silently and turns around, studying Fanboy for a minute before grunting. "Thought you were dead. Sort of makes me the hero by default." he says sipping a chocolate milk. "Besides, you ran away. I'm the one that went all lumberjack on him and saved the day."

    The two of them bicker for a bit about who's the greater hero, before a nurse stops by to tell them to leave; they're disturbing the other patients. Fanboy decides to recover in their private infirmary and asks Dr Kavlight to look in on him. He's told that Kavlight isn't their personal servant and not to call back if it's not an emergency.

    A few days of lounging around in bed either being bored or struggling to make his own meals while Roger continues building living quarters and repairing the damage from the battle makes Fanboy realize how empty this place is. After spending most of his stolen loot getting the warehouse armored and installing auto-turrets around the premises to dissuade visitors in the future, Fanboy begins looking for a way to hire a staff without pissing Parker off. Eventually it comes to him.

    They call up Parks and arrange to visit The Hole, where they look in on Bradley Yurtz, aka Duplex. Parker explains that the cell they keep him in is air-tight and is only given enough oxygen for a single man his size at a time to breathe for an hour. Should he duplicate, he'll run out of breath long before he does any damage. The PCs are very impressed, but say that they're calling in their favor to have him released into their care.

    Parks stares at them and just asks "Why?"

    When they explain that they intend to put the boy to work, he points out that the last time they met Yurtz he was shooting at them. Fanboy points out that he doesn't think 'this' Yurtz shot at them, it was one of the other ones; but Parks calls him an idiot and has his men bring Bradley to a conference table.

    They sit down and hash things out, Parks isn't happy with the thought of providing McCrow and Fanboy with a private army of inexhaustible thugs, but they eventually convince him that they're on the level. Bradley's anxious to get out, but after hearing some of the problems they've been having isn't sure that he wants to go with them. He points out that the two of them took him and all of his clones in a straight fight, and admits that he's not much good for anything.

    Fanboy's persistent though, and arranges a work release program where they'll reform the former villain and teach him valuable, marketable skills in the process. Parks reminds the two that they're responsible for Duplex and that if this is a mistake it'll land on their shoulders. Parks also mentions that this squares them for favors, much to Roger's horror. Roger makes Parks promise that they'll be called on in the future in exchange for more favors.



    Meet Sloth
    During the next few weeks Roger and Bradley finish the renovations in the warehouse and end up with comfortable living space for twelve people while Fanboy finishes recovering. Fanboy asks why the hell he's got so many rooms but Roger just says he has plans. Big plans.

    While Roger starts drawing up plans for holding cells they get a call from Parks asking them to look in on a local jewelry store robbery. He tells them that a superhuman robbed the place blind and says that local police have combed the place top to bottom and can't figure out what happened. Everybody just went to sleep and woke up with the place empty. No trace of any gas or sedative at all. Since the two of them are the closest thing to superhuman experts on hand Parks wants them to glance around and see what they make of the situation.

    Upon arrival Fanboy and Roger introduce themselves as being from the DHS and start looking the place over. They discover that none of the cases are broken and that the cameras have been disabled, even the one hidden in an overhead light fixture. Roger throws up his hands and declares that whoever did this is a master criminal, way out of their league, and starts to leave. Fanboy however makes him hang around for a few more minutes.

    As they start questioning the staff they discover that almost everybody just remember work as usual and then waking up an hour later. The security guard however mentions that he saw a large man with a scar on his cheek just before he passed out.

    Fanboy is intrigued and wants to know more and the guard mentions that the guy had a big pistol, like a desert eagle and was dressed all in black. When they locked eyes he passed out. At this point, Roger has determined that this is the world's most dangerous criminal and he wants no part of anything that puts them against such a cunning and dangerous villain.

    Fanboy is very impressed and decides he'd like to see the crime from the guard's point of view; invading his mind and sorting through his recent memories. Instead of a large, scarred man he watches the security guard casually loot the place while everyone's asleep through his own eyes and then lay on the floor until someone found them.

    Fanboy shouts "He's the thief!" but before they can pounce on the man he releases a wave of exhaustion that knocks Roger out cold and cause Fanboy's muscles stop working. However he remains conscious and since mobility isn't a big part of his shtick he's able to telekinetically battle the panicked guard for several minutes. There's a tense back and forth battle of wills that at one point had the guard being thrown through several cases and mentally battered to the point of collapse; but in the end Fanboy too succumbs to sleep and the guard makes his escape.

    They're eventually woken up by police officers who are trying to calm down the employees who keep shouting about magic powers. Fanboy manages to wipe the pertinent memories under the nose of the law and they walk away without any witnesses.
     



    Fanboy's dad
    After their embarrassing loss to a portly rent-a-cop in front of people, even if they can't remember what happened, the two of them decide to slink back home with their tail between their legs. Fanboy receives a phone call and as he answers it, notices he's already missed eight from the same number. The Prophet says that he's been calling for the last half hour, but nobody's answered, he begins rambling that there's NO time to waste, Fanboy's father is being taking by men outside his store right now!

    Fanboy doesn't even respond, he just whips the car around and pushes himself for all he's worth. I set up 5 DC15 Drive checks and tell him he has to make three of them to get there in time. He fails the first two spectacularly, and makes the next two with room to spare. The last one is a natural 1, leaving Mr Hamilton in Depaliamo's clutches... Until Roger's player shouts "You've got Hero Points!" and Fanboy realizes he's got six of the buggers from earlier hoarding so he rolls again and just barely makes it.

    They pull up in time to watch four men dragging Fanboy's father towards a van, Fanboy shouts at them to stop and they turn towards the pair, his father shouts "Samell? What are you doing here? Run, before they get you boy!" one of them draws a gun and places it against Mr Hamilton's temple, saying "Depaliamo said that if you try anything, we should just shoot this S.O.B. and be done with it!"

    Fanboy's eyes begin glowing as they do when he's working his mojo and the area around him begins shaking uncontrollably, the very van they're dragging his father to is rocking left and right threatening to flip. He growls at the men "Did Depaliamo remember to mention that if you so much as scratch my daddy I'll pull your skeletal structure out of your ass and have it violate what's left of its own twitching corpse for as long as I can manage to keep your brain functioning?" (I gave him a sizeable intimidate bonus for clever use of telekinesis and the descriptive threat.)

    Roger just strolls past Fanboy and towards the group of men, the guy with the gun shouts in a rather high pitched voice that if Roger comes any closer he'll kill him, he swears; but Roger just replies with "Pfft, see if I care. The whole family pisses me off. At least if this guy bites it his boy over there inherits it. Fanboy! Think of all the upgrades we could buy with that money!"

    I figure that at this point Roger's heroic streak is over and figure I should be thankful he ever even had one, I resign myself to moderating a PvP match, when he suddenly makes the radiator explode and take out the gunman. The rest of them go for their guns, but Fanboy snatches two of them and tosses them skywards. The last man grabs Mr Hamilton as a human shield and inches towards the van, figuring he can still make his getaway.

    They attempt to reason with the man, but he shoots Fanboy's father through the back and leaps into the driver's seat. Roger rushes to try and stop the bleeding and Fanboy turns into a horror movie. Not caring who might see his display, he tears the vehicle apart with judicious use of a Hero Point, and then uses the rest of his stockpile to spend the last 24 seconds of the man's life making good on his threat.

    They're not far from the warehouse so they call Kavlight and demand he meets them there, load up Mr Hamilton and the unconscious(and scalded) thug that survived their attack and race to the infirmary. Mr Hamilton seems less distressed by his wound than by what he just witnessed and just keeps asking "What?" over and over again.
    Fanboy tries to explain and tells his father that this is that job he's been involved in. He's working for the government. Roger is irate screaming that Fanboy is on dangerous ground and he will not be dragged down with his honesty. Mr Hamilton just asks "Working for the government gives you super powers?"

    Fanboy tells him that a bus accident gave him super powers, but this just confuses his father more, until Fanboy tells him that they were on Bus 14, the one with the bioterrorist. His father doesn't know what to say, but seems to have further questions. Roger is shouting that the old man knows too much and they have to wipe his mind. Fanboy refuses and Roger says that he'll call Parks and personally help haul father and son to The Hole. It's a tense couple of minutes until Mr Hamilton mentions a reward, then Roger's phone goes up and visions of hot tubs dance in his head.
    When they reach the warehouse Fanboy drags the scalded thug along with his powers, while Roger carries his dad inside. Once they step through the doors they find 2 scary Russians carrying assault rifles and 1 terrifying Russian carrying a SAW light machine gun milling about.

    The man carrying the SAW seems irritated and wants to know why they keep him waiting if they're in such a hurry to talk to him. Fanboy's the first to realize that this is Chavenski and tosses Depaliamo's goon onto the ground in front of him. Mr Hamilton seems even more bothered by the fact that his son is cavorting with Russian mobsters, but Roger quickly locks him in the infirmary and doesn't really care about his feelings after that.

    Fanboy probes the thug's mind and finds that Depaliamo had planned an ambush at Floyd's Bistro, disguised as a hostage exchange. He tells this to Chavenski and the Russian seems very pleased with his use of an afternoon.



     
     
     
    Depaliamo's Ambush
    Only waiting long enough for Dr Kavlight to be shown to Mr Hamilton, and (with Roger's suggestion) the two to begin talks for Kavlight becoming the team's personal; on call physician, they load up with Chavenski and his men and head towards Floyd's Bistro.

    Fanboy scans the area with ESP and finds close to 20 of Depaliamo's soldiers, Johnny on the Spot AND another of the assassins that nearly killed the two of them at the warehouse scattered along EVERYWHERE inside. Chavenski and his men head to the service entrance in the kitchen, Roger causes a pipe to explode obscuring their vision and distracting them, while Fanboy blocks the door. Chavenski's men then move in with a bang and begin slaughtering those caught in the kitchen, while Fanboy and Roger bust through the front door like mad men.

    Catching Johnny on the Spot unaware negates his massive speed bonuses, and Roger takes the opportunity to dehydrate the bastard; nearly killing him outright. Fanboy telekinetically disarms the assassin of his gun and dashes it against the far wall. Johnny rushes past the two of them, smacking Fanboy in the mouth on his way out; but he doesn't return. Men rush in from every door opening fire, but Fanboy's Force Field and the table Roger's hiding behind provide them with enough protection to survive the volley.

    Fanboy manages to grapple EVERY man in the room and shouts "Heads up Chavenski!"before hurling them through the kitchen door, where Roger immediately begins piling tables up to cut off their escape.

    Fanboy is watching the fight inside with ESP and watches the assassin cut through both of Chavenski's men with a single cut and I figure I'm about to lose a plot centric NPC, then something magical and awesome happens...

    Chavenski opens fire with his massive, terrifying gun and crits nearly EVERYTHING. I never rolled less than 18 for him and nobody he shot at rolled higher than a 4, so Fanboy just watches the local mob boss blow away an assassin that they were terrified of and all of Depaliamo's men while tanking their blows with nothing but his bare chest and rage.
    When they finally peek into the kitchen, Chavenski is covered head to toe in blood and gore, only some of it his own, and he's stomping on the assassin's head even though there's not really enough of it left to call a head anymore. When they finally calm him down enough to speak he asks if they found Depaliamo and they sort of wince before giving him the bad news.

    Chavenski snorts derisively and says "No, it was my mistake. I overestimated the fat Italian. A MAN would want to see his enemies killed with his own eyes."

    The PCs ask Chavenski if they know where Depaliamo would be and the Russian tells them that he's probably at his mansion at the edge of town. The heroes want to hit him at home but Chavenski refuses. He points out that he lost two good men visiting Depaliamo's restaurant, that he won't assault the paranoid bastard's fortress until the rest of his Empire lies in ruins. The Russian gives them Depaliamo's address to check out for themselves, but after confusing lucky rolls with invincibility they're convinced that if Chavenski won't go there, they can't possibly survive and decide to go home and cook up a less direct scheme.

    After of course, making a corpse pile in Depaliamo's office and leaving a post-it note with "You're next." on the door leading in.

  • #2
    Re: "Let's Get This Straight, You're The Sidekick!"

    Session 4

    Making Plans
    We pick up where we left our heroes, parting with Chavenski but armed with the knowledge of where Depaliamo is holed up. They decide to check Depaliamo's home out and stroll up to the edge of his walled compound before heading home. Fanboy glances in with his ESP and is unimpressed with his first assessment.

    "There's like a dozen guys on patrol in there." the nerdy hero says with a chuckle. "We'll steamroll them."

    Roger isn't quite so sure, he points out that Chavenski most likely wouldn't be intimidated by a handful of men and urges Fanboy to check harder.
    Fanboy presses his ESP to the limit and simply says "Oh....sh**." at what he sees. It takes him a minute to sketch out the extent of his probing, but he counts about 30 of the well dressed soldiers hiding around the property; even more stationed inside the house at security consoles or sleeping in a makeshift barracks; he also sees two more of the assassins that nearly killed Roger and himself; Johnny on the Spot and a pudgy, balding man that they presume to be Depaliamo himself. The two of them agree that a head on assault would probably end badly, so they go home.

    Fanboy begins searching through the ledgers that they stole when they assaulted the warehouse the first time and Roger recruits the former super villain Bradley Yurtz to assist in building a pair of holding cells. Bradley is willing to work hard, but his general incompetence means that he's of little actual use. Bradley's 10 duplicates however manage to do the work of an extra man and he easily completes the framework of the cells.

    Fanboy makes great leaps and bounds with the ledger and quickly finds a paper trail for the majority of Depaliamo's organization. He discovers fight clubs, gambling parlors, arms smuggling, prostitution rings, drug running, protection scams, racketeering and major larceny. He begins the process of tracking this stuff down.

    Meanwhile Mr. Hamilton, Fanboy's father, is getting sick of laying in bed and wants to leave; he's worried about his business and is eager to get out of the warehouse. Dr. Kavlight agrees that he's well enough to go back to work, so long as he takes it easy. Fanboy knows that he can't keep his dad there against his will, so he assigns one of the Bradley clones to follow along and call him if Depaliamo makes a move.

     
     




    Screw You Depaliamo
    After wrapping things up around HQ, the pair decide to check out the gambling parlor first. They stop and purchase a pair of audacious suits, Fanboy also picks up a hat and pair of sunglasses to conceal the visual cues of his powers, and head to a rather seedy alley behind an old night club. A large steel door with a view slot guards the entrance. Fanboy probes inside with his mind and hears the surface thoughts of the guard inside, picking out the password "Roll'em".

    They enter the establishment with the stolen password and set about cleaning the place out with liberal applications of Fanboy's telepathy. They end up with $13,000 in winnings before the floor boss simply tells them to leave. Roger laughs and flat says no, before heading to the roulette wheel; and the guards approach to carry them out. Fanboy mentally dominates one of the guards into shooting another, and the rest open fire on the apparent traitor. The various civilians and dealers start freaking out and rushing for the exits; Roger cold clocks one of the guards, knocking him out, and Fanboy mentally throws the rest of them through a row of slot machines.

    It takes them about half an hour to tear the place apart, but when they're done they're about $180,000 richer and still in the mood for action; so naturally they decide that prostitutes are the next stop. They track down Depaliamo's high class bordello (a lovely Victorian home in a secluded neighborhood) and approach the door with the unmistakable swagger of the newly rich. They knock on the door with a heavy stack of bills totaling nearly $20,000 and the heavy-set guard that opens the door has his jaw all but drop as Roger winks and says "We won at the tables." before stuffing the bills into his shirt pocket and demanding a pair of women for himself and his friend.

    The guard motions them up the stairs but states that if Johnny asks, he doesn't know them.

    Fanboy asks what the hell Roger's doing, and McCrow suggests they each interrogate a girl to find out all that they can before they do anything crazy. Roger literally sweeps an exotic Asian lady off of her feet and carries her away, leaving Fanboy to awkwardly lure a petite blonde off to the side. Roger, it should be noted, is a whoremongering liar; and doesn't ask a single question. In the name of taste I told him to work out the details of what happens by himself while Fanboy actually does the work.

    It doesn't take but a few well placed questions and some gentle probing of his escort's surface thoughts for Fanboy to learn all he needs to know about the operation. About a dozen high class ladies alternate shifts at the bordello and cater to the tastes of a very small and select clientele; it only takes a few men to act as muscle so Depaliamo leaves them to be pretty much autonomous. Fanboy discovers that the guy in charge is upstairs in the office and tips the girl generously before heading up to meet with him.

     
    The Head Pimp, as Fanboy refers to him, is doing some paperwork in his office when Fanboy strolls in and declares he's got a business proposition. He's wearily told that clients aren't allowed up here, pushes his way in anyway. Before the Head Pimp can do anything, Fanboy pins him against the wall telekinetically and rifles through the contents of the room before using telepathy to delve for secrets.

    Around this point Roger's getting bored watching Fanboy have all the fun and demands to roll something, so since he's in the middle of...physical exertion I tell him to roll a constitution check as a crude joke. Hilariously, he rolls a 1 and I refuse to let him use a hero point to improve the roll; so it's decided that he finishes before he even gets his pants off. Everybody's laughing and I suggest that the prostitute smirks as well. Predictably, Roger mugs her in retaliation, all the while shouting that "it's been a while" and "it happens to lots of guys!"

    They roll initiative and quite unheroically, he beats his Asian companion up for laughing at him and steals the cash out of her purse because he's just a terrible human being.

    Meanwhile, Fanboy has knocked his opponent unconscious and left incriminating evidence of their illicit activities laying around the office before calling the police and claiming he heard gunshots inside; giving the police a reason to search the place and close it down. By the time he exits the building, most of the guards are severely beaten and unconscious. Roger is straddling the man they bribed to get in shouting something about poor service while beating him with the very stack of bills they used as a bribe. When Fanboy mentions that the cops are on their way, Roger slips the bloody bills into his jacket and the two of them spring to the car and take off.

     
    Fight Club
    They crash at the warehouse after their eventful night and plan further shenanigans. Lucky Dan stumbles in the next day, drunk as a skunk and crying between drinks. They ask what's wrong and he tells thim that his wife left him and took the kids. Roger asks when that happened and he explains that it was about a month ago according to the note he found on the fridge. Fanboy's a little confused and points out that he's been home for most of that time, but Dan just sobs and explains that he just thought his wife and kids were busy all this time.

    They calm Dan down and get him to sleep before assigning Bradley to watch over him in their absence. Neither of them feel like sticking around to console a depressed; drunken super human, so they randomly pick one of Depaliamo's operations to hit and run away.

    They decide to infiltrate the underground fighting circuit and Roger volunteers to be the muscle, still feeling pretty confident from his recent bouts of fisticuffs.

    They decide to start at the bottom and basically enroll Roger in a bum fight under the bridge. The whole place is seedy to the extreme and Roger points out that the thinks there's poop in the arena; but after Fanboy places a bet, neither of them are willing to back down. Roger's fight comes up and he's placed against a skinny, heavily tattooed skinhead that's covered in bruises and scars.

    The fight starts and the skinhead gets the jump on McCrow, he delivers a powerful blow to Roger's stomach that stuns the older man. As Roger recovers his breath, he takes another glancing blow across his brow and retaliates with a massive backhand that spins the skinhead around and lays him out flat.

    The crowd's quiet and more than a little disappointed, but as they're collecting their winnings they're approached by one of Depaliamo's men that hands them a card and asks that they swing by a local gym for some real action.

    The two of them show up the next night and Fanboy's opted to wear his shades and hat in case McCrow needs some backup in the ring, especially considering it's a tournament. The first fight is fairly brutal and Roger exchanges blows for several minutes before laying his opponent out with a wild haymaker. The crowd goes wild and Roger hams it up for a minute before limping out of the ring to catch his breath. He keeps an eye on the other combatants and sees the current champ, a hulking Russian rumored to work for Chavenski that shatters an opponent's thigh with a single kick. Needless to say he's a little worried.

    Roger tells Fanboy to run interference during his next fight, to give him time to rest and as soon as the next fight starts, Fanboy hits Roger's opponent with Confusion for some reason.

    The guy rolls a 3 on his reaction roll, so he gives a battlecry and charges into the crowd to punch Fanboy in the face, disqualifying himself; getting escorted out of the gym and sending Depaliamo's men over to apologize for that bizarre outburst. Roger shakes his head and suggests a little subtlety in the future.

    He sits back to watch the Russian's last bout and watches the big man nearly kill his opponent in the opening salvo, before taking the next 5 minutes to just strut around and brutalize the poor man while Roger more or less rests up. After a brief respite, Roger and the Russian face off at last.

    Roger gets the jump on the giant champion and throws a massive haymaker that the beastly Russian simply takes without notice before delivering a blow of his own that knocks Roger off his feet and leaves him stunned. Fanboy just barely manages to seize control of the Russian telepathically and uses his influence to make the champ strut for the crowd.

    When Roger finally recovers enough to stand, Fanboy forces the Russian to lean forward and tap his face; inviting McCrow to give him his best shot. Roger throws a wild punch that connects solidly, but doesn't seem to actually do anything. The crowd is loving the champ.

    Roger throws another punch directly into the Russian's midsection and follows it up by quickly entering a clinch and delivering a series of big knees. The Russian's nose bleeds, but doesn't seem to be affected otherwise. Fanboy momentarily loses control of the hulking brute and Roger is once again knocked off his feet, this time with a couple of broken ribs for his trouble.

    Before Roger is finished off, Fanboy regains control and sends the Russian strutting again. The crowd is on its feet, shouting excitedly. When Roger crawls to his feet, Fanboy has the Russian repeat his earlier taunt; but as Roger throws his haymaker it's joined by a mental blast from Fanboy and the Russian stumbles back a step or two. His mind suddenly cleared.

    The Russian lifts Roger above his head, about to do a Bane impression; when a mixture of Roger's well placed elbow and Fanboy's second Mental blast sends the champ reeling and leaves Roger writhing on the mat.

    Roger crawls to his feet spitting blood and Fanboy manages to keep the Russian stunned for another round before losing control altogether. Finally the two titans of the ring charge each other and each throw a massive punch, Roger just BARELY manages to dodge what would surely be a finishing blow and connects with a critical punch that lays the mentally battered champion out cold.

    The crowd roars its approval and a well dressed man helps Roger out of the ring, congratulating him on taking down the showboating Russian and asking McCrow to join him at a private exhibition in two weeks. Roger accepts and limps back to the warehouse with Fanboy.



    Family's Off-Limits
    Roger assumes his hydroform to rapidly heals and decides to be productive with the next two weeks. He manages to finish up the holding cells in about a week with help from Bradley and after a trip to the shooting lanes decides to enroll the teen in some marksmanship classes, just in case they need him. Bradley asks if he could start going back to school and see his father again, and Roger agrees that that's fine, so long as his duplicates stay here and Bradley doesn't neglect any duties.

    Things are pretty quiet until near the end of the second week, when a strange old man appears at the warehouse. He's dressed in old and faded army fatigues and is missing a leg, Fanboy believes him to be a homeless vet and thanks him for his service to our country; before ordering Bradley to run him out of the warehouse with a broom.

    As the old man is being ushered out, he passes Roger working on his forklift and shouts that McCrow will want to hear what he has to say. Roger stops Bradley and tells the old man to speak quickly.

    The old man says that they have to leave now and that Roger's son is in danger. Depaliamo has tracked the boy down and is about to make an example of him. Roger's about to personally throw the old man out for trying to tell him what to do, until he realizes he recognizes the voice from the phone.

    Fanboy's surprised to learn that Roger has kids and Roger bitterly explains that he's not seen his family in years, that they took his wife's side during the divorce and eventually just stopped talking to him altogether.

    But bad blood or not, if Depaliamo thinks he's just going to sit by while his family is threatened, Depaliamo isn't as smart as they thought he was. Roger and Fanboy run to the car, but the Prophet insists they bring him as well. Roger scoffs and says that the old man will just slow them down, but the Prophet points out that they don't even know where they're going. Roger's kind of hurt to find out that his boy moved without telling him, but relents and lets the old man join them.

    After about an hour's drive, they arrive in a nice suburban neighborhood. They roll to a stop in front of Franklin McCrow's house and stake it out for a few minutes until they're certain that Depaliamo isn't there. Roger sees his son and a lovely young lady going about their business inside and knocks on their door, hoping to reconnect.

    Franklin's smile disappears when he opens the door and sees the unkempt form of his father standing there and he partially closes the door, as if to bar him entrance. "Dad...I didn't expect to... What are you doing in the neighborhood dad?"

    Roger shrugs "Oh, I was just in the neighborhood and wanted to see how you were doing."

    Franklin looks a little nervous and points out that he never gave his dad his address.

    Roger just snorts and pushes his way in. "You're not hiding from the old man, are ya boy?" he asks coldly. He nods towards Franklin's girlfriend and introduces himself. "McCrow. Roger McCrow."

    Franklin introduces her as his fiancÚ and Roger is taken aback that his boy's getting married and nobody bothered to tell him. They make small talk for a few minutes before Roger remembers why he's here and presses five grand into his son's hand. "I stopped by to drop off a present." he explains hurriedly, rushing them out of the house and to Fanboy's car. "I want the two of you to go and get yourselves something nice. On me." McCrow says, literally dragging Fanboy and the Prophet out of the car and into the street.

    "Take my assistant's car, it has more room." he explains, all but shoving Franklin and his fiancÚ into Fanboy's car before they know what's happening. As they pull out, confused but appreciative, Fanboy is furious that Roger basically jacked his car. Roger explains that Depaliamo's men have to think that Franklin's still there, so they need his car.

    Fanboy and Prophet settle into Franklin's living room, while Roger ransacks the place looking for cereal and basically just being nosy. While he enjoys his stolen Cap'n Crunch, he begins filling the bathtub and sinks full of water and turns the water hose on full blast so he doesn't rupture any pipes in the heat of the moment.

    Roger also has a moment of insight and decides to experiment with his powers. When it's all said and done he manages to stabalise enough water to create 5 small creatures that he dubs 'Droplets'. Each of them is about the size of a cat and gaze at him with absolute adoration that borders on worship.

    Fanboy is immediately freaked out by Roger's strange display of power and suggests killing them before this turns into a horror movie, but Roger refuses to consider it and they spend the next hour watching the Droplets play with each other while waiting for a hit squad.

    When a harsh knock finally gets their attention Fanboy projects an auditory illusion of Franklin telling them to come in. As soon as the door opens however, Fanboy snatches all five of the waiting men and yanks them inside, pinning them to the living room floor. Prophet shuts the door to drown out their startled shouts and Roger advances with his Droplets.
    "Do you know who I am?" he asks menacingly.

    The men shake their heads nervously and Roger snaps his fingers, as he points to the closest man all five of the Droplets fight for position on the man's face, somehow managing to bite and maul him despite their lack of anatomy or limbs. The Droplet's victim tries to scream, but their weight drowns it out and the other men begin panicking in earnest.

    Neither Roger nor Fanboy does anything more than stand there and just allow the Droplets to display their vicious, if merry, nature. Two men are partially consumed by the disturbing minions before the rest manage to escape Fanboy's telekinesis and sprint screaming in different directions. Fanboy shouts after them that if they go back to Depaliamo they have more of this to look forward to. Fanboy then proceeds to hurl the corpses as far off into the distance as his telekinetic strength will allow, subscribing to the belief that out of sight is out of mind.

    They hang around a few more moments to make sure that noone else wants to take a swing at them, before Roger dumps his son's aquarium out in the bathtub and fills it with his Droplets while Fanboy gets them a cab. The cabbie isn't happy about Roger carrying a FULL aquarium into his car, but a wad of bills from Fanboy shuts him up.




     
    Bad Sportsmanship
    Over the next couple of days the Droplets continue to impress and intrigue Roger. He only intended to create a more controlled application of his power that wouldn't destroy his son's home, however the Droplets appear genuinely alive. He watches with amusement as they chase each other around the warehouse, he watches in horror when they catch a stray cat... Their behavior is erratic and unpredictable and Fanboy jokingly points out that they're basically little Rogers.

    Roger eventually calls up his son and apologizes for taking the aquarium. Franklin wants to know if his dad's growing pot, but Roger just laughs and says that he accidentally broke it, but isn't willing to explain why he was poking around inside Franklin's house in the first place. The conversation ends awkwardly, with more questions raised than answered.

    Finally it's the night of the fight and they show up at the agreed address to find an abandoned warehouse filled with Depaliamo's men. Fanboy recognizes quite a few of them from his ESP as Depaliamo's personal guard and it's decided that they've played along quite enough.
    Roger enters the ring as normal but once the fight begins he draws all of the moisture out of his opponent with a single devastating motion. Depaliamo's men stare in shocked silence as Roger forces his stolen liquid into the shape of a ball in his hand. "You're in a dangerous line of work." he says with a smile, blasting one of the armed guards off his feet with the stolen water.

    As guns begin to be drawn, Fanboy stands up and manages to grapple 90% of the men at once, thrusting them head first into the far wall. Roger leaps onto the remaining two men and unleashes a savage barrage of punches that leaves them both crumpled in a limp heap.
    The whole combat only takes about 15 seconds and the PCs wreck the place up afterwards to punctuate their point. As they're tearing the place up they get a phone call from Agent Parks that asks them if they've had any contact with the security guard from the jewelry store robbery. Fanboy reiterates what he remembers from the robbery itself, but Parks says that there's been a new development.

    The guard washed up (their affinity for throwing corpses into the ocean is what made Parks call) with a broken neck, broken back and severe lacerations around the heart. Roger vaguely remembering something about a serial killer running around lately, but Fanboy's been following this story for a while and points out that the killer's been operating for just over two months, ever since their accident. He also muses that of the five victims that they've recovered all have been exceptional individuals. They include a surgeon, a software engineer for a security firm, an Olympic boxer, a local radio personality and now one of only a handful of superhumans.

    Roger and Fanboy are intrigued, but don't think that they can be of any help. Parks tells them to watch out since they seem to make targets of themselves more often than not.

    They take a day to recover and plot and then decide on one final push to bring down Depaliamo once and for all.
     
     



    Final Showdown
    This is it they decide. Do or die, either Depaliamo walks away or they do. They begin their assault by calling the police with bogus reports concerning all of Depaliamo's known operations and giving the Italian plenty of time to scramble some interference.

    While Depaliamo is busy trying to salvage his empire, the PCs sneak to the back of his walled estate and after Fanboy scouts the immediate area, they toss the Droplets over the wall with a simple order: Attack. While the Droplets go into SEAL mode, Fanboy and Roger continue around the wall and call Chavenski while waiting for a distraction. They lie and tell the Russian crime boss that Depaliamo is on his last legs and that he's practically undefended. Chavenski is cautious, but agrees to give what support he can.

    It only takes a couple of minutes before the Droplets are discovered, during this time five creatures no larger than a cat and only slightly smarter than a monkey manage to bring down half a dozen grown men without so much as a sound. Eventually however they fail to bring down their target and a fierce gun battle breaks out however to the growing horror of the guards Droplets are bulletproof. Bullets simply pass right through their bodies with no lasting harm.

    Once the compound is in full panic mode Fanboy and Roger hop the wall with a little telekinetic assistance. Roger immediately sucker punches a guard, while Fanboy peaks through a window into their makeshift Barracks. As the second shift guards start stirring awake Fanboy telekinetically grabs the entire room and begins whipping them against the wall until he's sure there won't be any backup coming.

    Roger notices an overhead security camera tucked into a bush just in time to shout a warning before two guards run around the corner and open fire. Fanboy easily dispatches them while Roger uses this opportunity to power up using Depaliamo's pool and the Droplets continue their horrifying assault.

    Just when they think that things are going their way, Fanboy is struck in the back of the head at 200mph by a red blur and they remember that they're not the only superhumans here. About six more guards arrive from the north and another three come up from the south. Fanboy tosses the group of six at the group of three and knocks out all but two. Roger continues growing to his full form. The Droplets continue their rampage unimpeded and the two assassins move into position to the north.

    Fanboy is struck yet again by the Johnny on the Spot who doesn't stick around for retaliation. The assassins open fire on Roger, however his water form absorbs the worst of it and he grows even larger on his turn. Fanboy attempts to grab the assassins, but they easily avoid his attempt. The Droplets threaten to overrun Depaliamo altogether and even on the far side of the compound they can hear the fat Italian shouting for Johnny to do something.

    Since the Droplets are effectively invincible but very small, Johnny begins scooping them up one at a time and dropping them off about a mile from the house. The assassins open up with everything they've got and bring Roger down hard. Fanboy finally manages to snatch one of them up and dash him against the house, however the assassin is a master of absorbing blows and takes minimum damage. The remaining Droplets continue mauling the soldiers and the soldiers do what they can to avoid them.

    Johnny continues dropping off Droplets, soldiers continue barricading around Depaliamo, Roger keeps taking bullets meant for Fanboy and more or less hoping he doesn't die and Fanboy keeps trying to keep the assassins at bay for a few rounds. Things start looking bleak very fast.
    Just when things look like they can't get any more desperate the front gates burst open and a van slows to a stop as angry Russians with large guns start leaping out, led by Chavenski himself. Six of Depaliamo's normal soldiers are wiped out in a single volley and Chavenski's men take up a defensive position behind one of Depaliamo's cars. Johnny moves like a blur and three of Chavenski's six men lie unconscious around him. Fanboy latches on to one of the distracted assassins telekinetically and begins thrashing him around like a dog with a rag. About half a dozen of Depaliamo's remaining soldiers circle around near the gate to ambush Chavenski and the last four return fire with the Russians.

    Chavenski opens fire with his SAW and two of the soldiers near Depaliamo and Johnny are struck hard. The soldiers are killed outright and Johnny's side is half blown away, the surprised speedster does what he can to hold his insides in and in a final desperate burst of speed takes out the remaining Russian soldiers, but fails to lay a hand on Chavenski before succumbing to his wounds and collapsing. Depaliamo in a fit of desperation leaps out of his cover and fires his giant .44, scoring a crit and surprisingly dropping his badass Russian competitor with one well placed shot. Roger continues bleeding uselessly and the assassins continue their one sided beat down of Fanboy. Things are looking pretty terrible again...until the Droplets show back up, bouncing giddily past the ruined gate. They swarm the soldiers hiding near the gate and in the absence of Johnny there doesn't seem to be any way to even slow these damned things down.

    In just a few rounds the remainder of Depaliamo's soldiers, save one, have been devoured or battered unconscious by Roger's perky, invincible minions. Depaliamo leaps into one of his cars and struggles to find the right key. Roger finally wakes up with a single round left in his hydroform and wakes up in time to bat one of the assassins away from Fanboy. The assassins glance around, figure that their meal ticket is dead; and sprint the wall to escape, professionalism be damned.

    The Droplets smash their way in through the car's window and maul Depaliamo but good. Roger only barely manages to call them off the fallen Italian before they start doing to him what they did to the cat...

    Fanboy ties up the survivors and does what he can to revive Chavenski. After being satisfied that the Russian will probably survive he picks up Depaliamo's pistol and shoots Johnny in both of his knees before Roger has a chance to stop him. Johnny wakes up screaming and Fanboy kicks him in the face to shut him up.

    Meanwhile, Roger slaps Depaliamo until the former crime boss come to and the first thing out of Depaliamo's mouth is "who the f*** are you two? What have I EVER done to you a**holes?"

    Roger grabs Depaliamo by his chubby cheeks and stares into his eyes. "Let me put it this way. A wise man once said to me: 'Don't look at it like it's the end of the world. Look at it like taking out the trash.'"

    Depaliamo just stares at him.

    "You were the one who said that!" McCrow growls. "Those were your EXACT words when you sent me packing to the gutter!"

    Depaliamo stares for a moment before realization strikes and he gawks. "You're that drunken idiot that kept wrecking my forklifts!"

    Roger laughs and nods his head. "Maybe I am. Maybe I am. I won't lie, I've wrecked a forklift or two in my time. But just remember; YOU'RE the idiot that's two seconds away from being eaten by sentient water monsters that were made by ME. So who's really the idiot here?"

    "You are!" Johnny hisses between clenched teeth. Fanboy kicks him in the face again for good measure. Depaliamo starts to object but a bite from one of the Droplets shuts him up again.

    Roger calls up Parks and sets up a pick-up for Johnny despite the fact that Fanboy keeps suggesting they cut off his legs and keep him as a pet. Still can't believe how much hate Fanboy's player has for Johnny...

    Instead of amateur surgery, Fanboy uses his powers to probe Depaliamo's mind for hidden caches of loot, but finds that most of his bank accounts require personal authorization to access. Naturally this means smuggling Depaliamo back to their HQ and locking him in a makeshift prison until they learn how to use him like a puppet. They decide to bring Chavenski along as well for Dr. Kavlight to look at, since they feel kind of bad for constantly getting his men killed.

    And that's where we ended for the night, with the PCs stealing several of Depaliamo's nicer cars and locking up the two most powerful and prominent crime bosses the city has to offer in their homemade prison/fortress on the waterfront. Fanboy wants to drown Depaliamo AND Chavenski once he's robbed their bank accounts to make sure neither of them ever come back to haunt them. Roger wants to recruit/extort Chavenski into joining his growing super team and wants to use Depaliamo to cement the deal.

    They've also been bumped up to PL7 so that might be where some of their new swagger comes from.



    Session 5



    (Computer burned out, so this was two months after the others and with a completely new set of notes/character sheets.)
    Return of McCrow and Friends
    We pick up only hours after the events of our last session with Roger McCrow and Fanboy rushing Chavenski into Kavlight's infirmary with a fist sized hole in the Russian's chest and no idea how the crime lord is even still alive. Kavlight begins surgery immediately and the two heroes decide to pay a visit to the captive Depaliamo.
    Formerly the most powerful man in the city, now little more than a war trophy; Depaliamo is left alone and naked in a damp; dark cell in the basement. The Italian can't even bring himself to look his captors in the eye and he's more than surprised when Fanboy tosses him a fresh suit from his closet. Depaliamo slips it on gratefully and just as he's about to thank them for returning him a shred of dignity he's blind sided by McCrow and knocked out cold.
    Depaliamo wakes up a few minutes later and finds that both he and Fanboy are cuffed to the bars of his cell and Fanboy has an earsplitting grin on his face. Through his telepathy Fanboy had discovered that the bulk of Depaliamo's fortune can only be accessed by the Italian himself ($2 million local, more than $12 in offshore accounts), so he explains that he'd decided to borrow Depaliamo's body for an hour or two to make a withdrawal. Depaliamo asks why McCrow attacked him if he's already caged and Fanboy admits that Roger just likes to ambush people and he went with it.
    It takes Fanboy several attempts to batter Depaliamo's will enough to completely switch minds with him but finally he succeeds and tells Roger to uncuff him and watch his body while he's gone. There's a brief moment where I think Roger's just going to turn off the lights and leave them both chained downstairs, but McCrow follows through with the plan and Fanboy drives across town in one of his new luxury cars coincidentally found in Depaliamo's garage. It takes him about forty-five minutes to arrive and find a place to park. Walking into the bank he sees people avert their eyes and scurry away in his/Depaliamo's presence and he decides it feels good to be respected. He catches a couple of people gawking at the bruises/bite marks that cover him, but nobody is bold enough to ask about it.
    The teller immediately recognizes him and starts sucking up. Or at least she does until he demands his two million in cash. She tries to explain that the bank simply can't release that much money at once but Fanboy growls his disapproval and starts asking if she knows who he is and what he does. The girl goes pale and asks if he minds if she gets a manager and he says that at this point he insists.
    No sooner does the teller turn away from him that Fanboy experiences a painful flash of alien consciousness that nearly flattens him and he realizes that Depaliamo's body is attempting to reestablish his old identity. By the time the manager arrives he's having to hold himself up with the counter and realizes with growing horror that if he doesn't get back NOW he's going to let Depaliamo simply walk out the door and get away. He quickly changes his demands and says that they can keep the cash, he just needs to put another name on the account; his new business partner: Samell Hamilton. The manager is just relieved that he's came to his senses and Fanboy is out the door and speeding back to the warehouse within minutes.
    He makes a 40 minute drive in about 20 minutes and barely manages to lock himself back in his cell and willingly relinquish control before Depaliamo took it back. Roger uncuffs his young partner and and Fanboy taunts Depaliamo with the fact that his $2 million is now THEIR $2 million and gleefully asks Depaliamo if he wants to take a trip to the Caymans. Depaliamo sags down like the sad old man that he is, but things quickly get worse as Roger demands he strip and hand over those clothes again. Depaliamo grudgingly obliges and as he finishes and gathers up his suit to hand over he's cold clocked by Roger and left unconscious in the cold, wet basement.
    As they're leaving Depaliamo's new 'quarters' they're flagged down by Dr Kavlight and told that Chavenski is alive, but barely. He'll be confined to his bed for a few weeks, but despite the drugs he's been given he appears to be conscious. Fanboy says that he'd like to speak to the Russian and Kavlight tells him to keep it brief. As Fanboy heads up to the infirmary, Kavlight talks to Roger about purchasing an ambulance for the base if they're going to keep bringing him gunshot victims and McCrow tells him to get whatever he wants, Samell'll pay for it.
    Fanboy finds Chavenski barely clinging to consciousness in the infirmary and the crime boss's drug addled eyes snap to him the moment he enters. "Where am I?" Chavenski drowsily growls.
    "Among friends." Fanboy assures him before explaining how Depaliamo blew a hole in his chest, but they saved him. Chavenski asks what happened to Depaliamo and Fanboy responds that he's in a deep, dark hole. Chavenski nods approvingly and says "So you killed him?" and Fanboy shakes his head and says "Nooo....he's in a deep dark hole."
    Fanboy explains that Depaliamo's fortune is now their fortune and that he wants Chavenski to have half of it (This REALLY threw me) for his trouble in assisting them at the mansion. Chavenski is surprised and grateful, and asks if he can use the phone. Fanboy obliges (hoping to eavesdrop) but Chavenski only mutters a few words of Russian into the receiver and then passes out anti-climatically.



     
    The Hole 2.0
    Roger and Fanboy spend the next day puttering around the warehouse and watching the Droplets chase each other/Bradley in circles. Fanboy finds an article in the paper about fifteen Italians being found dead around the city (Roger's girlfriend heard that part and was disturbed hear Fanboy laughing maniacally about it) and suspected of being linked to organized crime. When Roger hears that Italians are washing up dead in droves he half panics and assumes they didn't weigh them down enough, Fanboy just face palms.
    While Fanboy's explaining Chavenski's phone call to Roger they get a visit from Agent Parks who wants to know why Depaliamo wasn't recovered along with Johnny on the Spot. Both Roger and Fanboy maintain that the crime lord escaped, but neither of them are particularly good liars and Parks has a finely tuned B.S. detector. He tells them that he doesn't know why they want Depaliamo, but he'll give them a week to get it out of their system. They keep up their story, but Parks reiterates that he'll be back in a week for Depaliamo and he won't leave without him. Fanboy insists that Depaliamo got away again and Parks tells him that he'll post his pictures at the airports just in case, but to have him ready in a week.
    Fanboy is now ready to turn Depaliamo over since the offshore accounts are now closed to them and the Italian is useless, but Roger'll be damned if he gives up his trophy. He immediately begins work on an underwater holding cell meant for dangerous/secret prisoners.
    As Roger slaves away over his secret prison he gets a call from his estranged son, Franklin McCrow who invites his father to his upcoming wedding against his better judgment. Roger would be honored to attend, so long as it's not this week and there's an open bar. Franklin tells him that it's in two months, but neither him nor his fiance have much disposable cash so they're keeping the reception small. Roger pffts and tells his son to leave the arrangements to him, he'll throw him a helluva shindig. Frankling resists, saying that he's seen pictures of 'yours and mom's wedding' but Roger assures him that it'll be nothing like that, his mother obviously won't be invited. Franklin tells him to forget the whole thing, but Roger (in typical McCrow fashion) bullies his way into hosting the wedding despite his son's objections.



    The Investigation
    Roger continues work on the holding cell all through the day and most of the next until Parks calls and asks the two of them to join him at the hospital. They suspect that this might be a trap, but go anyway. Parks explains that this is way out of their league, but after their last tussle with Tree King he's severely understaffed; he explains that they'll be supplementing the police investigation, using their experience with superhumans. They agree to look in on it and discover that a 12 year old comatose girl has been murdered, her neck snapped in the night. Parks explains that she was on the bus and barely survived, since all the other survivors have exhibited some form of ability she is assumed to have been superhuman despite lack of verification, and the death of two superhumans in as many weeks is cause for alarm. If the serial killer has turned his attention to superhumans somehow it HAS to be addressed.
    Fanboy and McCrow fan out to look around. Roger finds nothing in her room and Fanboy can't find anyone who saw a strange man hanging around. Fanboy does however discover that an orderly uniform is missing and that the man it belongs to is massive; nearly six and a half feet tall and built like a barrel, easily a build capable of snapping a neck like a tooth pick. They're unsure if that's relevant so decide to pursue other avenues of investigation.
    They decide to look at the killer's suspected history in reverse order and come up with six suspected victims prior to the little girl,the superhuman security guard dubbed 'Sloth', a respected surgeon from a local hospital, a computer security specialist with a local security firm, a local DJ and radio personality, a former olympic boxer and a cab driver. Fanboy doesn't see the connection, but Roger points out that they're all exceptional individuals...except the cab driver. They check him out and sure enough there's nothing special about the man, just another immigrant trying to live the American dream. Fanboy uses his basic computer skills to learn that the cabby was killed on the same day as their accident, only two blocks away and found laying bleeding in the street. Fanboy surmises that he was killed for his cab and guesses that it was none other than the thief with the canister that killed the man since he was never recovered though the gun he shot Roger with was. Fanboy didn't get a good look at the hijacker so he uses telepathy to probe Roger's memories and discovers that the hijacker was only a few inches off from the big orderly.
    It's a tenuous lead, but the two of them think it's worth pursuing, and since they remember a policeman hitting the cannister while firing at the hijacker they decide to go to the police posing as private investigators (Roger tried claiming to be Special Agents, but Fanboy kept explaining that they had no identification to pull that off with. Didn't stop Roger from trying though.) and find out who was in the vicinity that day and why.
    They're directed to an older man that they realize is responsible for their current powers. He admits that he was in the area after hearing reported gunshots, but says that he's unable to help any further due to an ongoing investigation. Fanboy telepathically tells Roger to provide a distraction so he can probe the man's mind and Roger goes back to pretending to be a super secret agent. Fanboy nearly has an aneurism as Roger's claims grow more and more outlandish, however he plucks information concerning a nondisclosure agreement and disturbances in the area from the addled patrolman's mind and uses that information to convince the officer that they're somehow on the level.
    The officer breaks down and mentions being en route to a reported attack on the same day as the accident and admits to only responding to gunshots once he was already in the area, he then whispers about a security guard that showed up in the morgue and was never investigated. He gives them the name of the woman who claimed the body and that's it.
    They visit the dead man's wife to ask her a few questions but she honestly doesn't know much about his job. She tells them that he worked at 124 Beachum Street because she had to drop him off at work once when his car broke down, but she says that she wasn't supposed to EVER go by or call and that he wasn't even supposed to mention the address. Needless to say, he never spoke about what happened there. She says that a friend of his from the military got him the job, but that she'd never met the man herself. Roger grows irritable at her lack of information and asks if she actually knows ANYTHING. She 's offended at his attitude (he later tells Fanboy that he was playing Ungrateful Cop) and demands they leave. Roger laughs and says that they aren't going anywhere until she gives them something useful and she moves to call the police. McCrow and the woman wrestle over the phone, while Fanboy just gawks at his partner's lack of decorum, and eventually the incensed widow tearfully slaps McCrow. Roger stares at her in open mouthed silence for a moment and then rage flashes in his eyes and he head-butts her in the nose; laying her out cold and bloodily. Fanboy physically wrestles McCrow out of the apartment to keep him from pursuing the 'battle' and points out that they've got an address which is a helluva lot more than they had an hour ago.
    As they head over to Beachum Street Fanboy calls Parks to check in and report what they'd found so far. Parks tells them in no uncertain terms o leave Beachum St alone, it's a dead end. The conviction in his voice as he says this convinced the heroes that there must be something there that they're not supposed to see.
    They check out the address and it looks completely abandoned, just an abandoned building in the industrial district. The few operational businesses left say that they'd occasionally see drop-offs but never saw anything leave, otherwise they didn't know/care what went on there.
    Now intrigued, they search the building top to bottom and discover that it is completely empty, not so much as an office chair left behind however Roger is the first to notice that the dust indicates that a substantial amount of machinery was here until recently. Large machinery with a massive power signature, they decide to check with the power company to see if a new location suddenly started drawing as much energy as this place did.
    They continue searching with a fine tooth comb and Fanboy finds a false wall with half a dozen glass holding cells behind it. The cells are heavily scratched and battered, but no telling what was in them. Fanboy shudders and says that he recognizes this place...it was the first Hole. Roger makes a disparaging remark about Parks' holes but Fanboy explains that if this was here BEFORE the accident, then their powers aren't unexpected or even necessarily new. Whatever was in those canisters performed exactly as expected...
    They search the parking lot before they leave and find an abandoned car in pretty rough shape still there. They search inside and Roger finds a security badge with a picture of a man in a security uniform between the seats, apparently lost. They take note of the name and decide to look him up.
    They track the guard down still posing as as P.I.s and pound on his door until he answers. They introduce themselves (Roger calls himself Special Agent McCrow to Fanboys chagrin) and they notice an older woman watching them from her window. Roger shouts that she should mind her own business and she shouts back that he should mind HIS. The last they see of McCrow is when he breaks off and kicks in the woman's front door. Despite Fanboy's objection, her sudden shriek serves to convince the former guard that it's in his best interest not to jerk these guys around.
    He only worked the front and had very limited clearance, so he's of little help. He often saw men in dark suits and hazmat gear and remembers frequent deliveries of chemicals with names he couldn't pronounce. He reveals that he had an nondisclosure agreement, but is angry enough with his former employers to violate it. Apparently he lost his job overnight, after the day of the bus accident he walked into the warehouse and it was just empty. Whoever messed up and called the police ensured that all nonessential personnel were no longer trusted.
    Wanting to verify everything, Fanboy probes the former guard's mind aggressively for the past six months and sees firsthand the day of the accident. The guard went to the bathroom and came back to the sounds of gunshots and alarms, his friend was dead and he kept hearing that a canister was stolen. Fanboy scans further back from the accident and recognizes the equipment from The Hole and even gets a glimpse of Parks!!!
    Fanboy calls Parks as he heads towards the car and demands an explanation (Roger joins him on the way and Fanboy notes that the older man's knuckles are busted and his forehead has a sizeable gash on it. The neighbor is likely to start minding her own business now though.) Parks suggests he leave it alone for his own good and when pressed outright tells him that they shouldn't expect the kind of leniency from his superiors that they get from him. If they press this the best case scenario results in their death.
     



    Doctor Luvless
    At the warehouse Roger and Bradley rush to complete the underwater cells (Basically making an airtight shipping container that he'll raise/lower with his powers) before Parks arrives to search for Depaliamo. Fanboy meanwhile is bombarding their beleaguered liaison with phone calls of varying degrees of threats/pleads. It had been less than 10 minutes since his last call and Fanboy picks up the phone to start the dance again, when it rings and Parks tells the two of them to drop what they're doing and get to Priceless Memories Jewelry.
    Fanboy tells him that they're through being his lackeys until he answers some questions, but Parks tells him that people are dying NOW. That four police officers are already dead and there's no telling how many civilians are injured or worse. He promises to answer questions in person once this is all wrapped up, but they must take action immediately.
    The heroes consider this acceptable and rush to save the day, or at least to kick some ass if all else fails.
    They arrive to find a scene of absolute carnage waiting for them. There are half a dozen police cars surrounding the jeweler's and only two of them are still intact. The rest are blackened and leveled, their occupants strewn across the street and little more than clumps of ash. A man with a black and gold cloak stands on the sidewalk gripping a black and gold staff in a gauntleted hand, a purple haze surrounds him and easily absorbs the barrage of bullets that the surviving officers are firing.
    The man looks amused rather than angry at the constant attempts on his life, like a man threatened by children with cap pistols. His look of amusement grows even more as McCrow and Fanboy stroll closer.
    "Ah!" the man exclaims cheerfully. "I remember you two from the bus! You were the morons that decided to 'rassle' (he makes an exaggerated grappling motion with his hands) during a terrorist attack. I must say that I am sincerely disappointed to find that you have joined me in ascension."
    "The hell are you talking about?" Roger shouts angrily. His instinctive urge to throttle the man threatens to overwhelm his survival instincts.
    "Apologies, I'll use smaller words in the future." the cloaked man says with a smirk. Removing two cue ball sized orbs from his belt he tosses them at the heroes and a holographic display shimmers to life, giving them the appearance of black and gold robots. Despite the fact that they're only a projection they seem VERY solid.
    "Our mutual accident has left me as the most brilliant man living or who has ever lived. These are hard-light constructs that I designed in an afternoon. It will be centuries before drooling plebeians like you even manage to GRASP what I've done." the man gloats overbearingly.
    "Really?" Fanboy asks with a snort. "Centuries?"
    "What can I say? I've always been an optimist." the man retorts, eliciting the urge for violence in Samell as well.
    "Doctor Luvless will be a name remembered long after your ashes have been scattered to the wind. As the man who changed this world, and brought it to heel!" he growls.
    Fanboy has finally had enough and telekinetically grapples Luvless, dashing him against the wall of the jewelers. Roger calls for his Droplets and they leap free of the car and charge into the fray as well, engaging the 'Luvbots' in combat. The Luvbots open fire indiscriminately newly formed blasters.
    Luvless struggles in Fanboy's grip a moment before pressing one of the dozen buttons along his staff's grip, turning the purple aura into a purple tornado of energy, breaking Fanboy's hold and freeing himself to rain down destruction. An arc of red energy flashes from the power-staff and Fanboy dives out of the way before watching another of the police cars and the men behind it turn into a twisted pile of ash. Fanboy snatches one of the robots and dashes it against the sidewalk, leaving only the broken remains of the small metallic sphere behind. Roger draws water to himself, bursting a nearby fire hydrant and soaking the area. The Droplets latch onto each other like Voltron and ooze together to create a single human sized creature made of living water which engages the last Luvbot in one on one combat.
    Luvless fires another arc of red energy at McCrow who barely escapes becoming a pile of ashes himself. Fanboy rips a stop sign out of the ground and hurls it at Luvless who bats it away easily with his staff. Roger fires a burst of water at Luvless, but despite his best effort barely enough water to knock Luvless back a step gets through. The 'Big Drip' as the Droplets combined form has come to be called blasts the Luvbot with a jet of water of his own and takes it out of the fight.
    Luvless levels his power-staff and fires at the Big Drip, despite the Droplets seeming invincibility however not a single scrap of the Drip remains and Roger (and his player) shouts in surprise and anguish at the deaths of what he's come to think of as his children. Fanboy attempts to mentally dominate Luvless, but discovers that something prevents his telepathy from even reaching the man. Roger draws even more water to himself, growing into his 10ft form first battle form.
    Doctor Luvless fires another red tinged blast at Fanboy and Samell is too slow to escape its path, his force field fails and most of his clothing is burned away along with a bit of skin, however he survives. Fanboy whips a manhole cover at the good Doctor that nearly knocks him senseless and Roger finishes the transformation into his full 30ft form.
    Luvless looks at his staff worriedly and seems to question whether or not his staff's power will hold out, he switches settings and fires a seemingly solid yellow bolt that strikes Fanboy in the chest and carries him across the street and into the side of a van. Fanboy slumps unconscious to the street. Roger charges in his enlarged form and nearly flattens Luvless with an overhead blow.
    Luvless seems to rethink what he's got to gain from this and plants his staff firmly into the ground. "This was just a trial run gentlemen. Next time I'll get serious." and disappears in a flash of blue energy.
    Roger checks inside before recovering Fanboy and discovers that except for the cops outside there aren't any fatalities. The customers and employees inside are bound with run of the mill cuffs and only a single case was even busted. Apparently he didn't have time to snatch much before the cops interrupted.



     
    I'll Go This Way
    Roger drags Fanboy back to the warehouse after their tussle with Doctor Luvless and lets Kavlight patch telepath up while he sits down with the Prophet and discusses their situation. The Prophet says that while he's not shocked to discover that the government had a hand in the canister (he's a hardcore conspiracy theorist that used to run his own pirate radio station) this is the first he's heard about it. Roger's surprised because he just assumed the Prophet knew everything.
    The Prophet gives Roger a list of names: Richard Bronson, Sandy Clemens and John Hurt. They're all superhumans that have fallen between the cracks. Nobody is watching them and that makes them prime targets for the killer. Roger agrees with this reasoning and pops into the infirmary to see if Fanboy feels up to coming with him.
    When Roger walks in, Fanboy's already on the phone with Parks and tells him to keep his voice down to avoid waking Chavenski. McCrow gives him the list of names and says that they need to bring these people in before the killer gets to them, but Fanboy's already contacted Parks and he'd agreed to come by and answer a few questions.
    Roger decides to let Fanboy deal with Parks by himself while he visits Sandy Clemens to warn her about the killer.
    Roger finds Sandy living in a quiet little neighborhood out in the suburbs, in a small, unassuming house with a well manicured lawn. He knocks on the door and an attractive middle-aged woman with dark hair answers. She only opens the door a crack, apparently relying on the little chain to protect her against intruders.
    "Can I help you?" she asks.
    "Yes, I'm looking for..." Roger (and his player) draws a blank and he forgets the name of the woman he's looking for. "Sandy Hooks?" he asks questioningly.
    The woman shakes her head and says "Sorry, wrong address." and shuts the door.
    Roger's a little taken aback by her behavior and knocks on the door again. "Sandy something. I'm looking for Sandy something. That's you, right ma'am?"
    She opens the door a crack again and glances around nervously. "Yes, that's me but I'm afraid I don't know you."
    "No ma'am, you don't but I'm from the bus." he starts and has the door slammed in his face again.
    Roger sighs irritably and bangs on the door with force. Sandy refuses to open it but she shouts out "I don't want anything to do with you people. I just want to live my life!"
    McCrow acts like he can't hear her and once the door is opened a crack again he shoves his way in and breaks the chain. "I don't care what you want, I just need you to come with me; it's for your own good."
    "No, no, no." she chants backing up. "Please, I've got children; they could be home at any moment."
    "Don't worry," Roger says obliviously "I'll take them too. I've got a warehouse where you're going to stay for a bit. Of course it's secret, so you'll need to be blindfolded..."
    Sandy is now outright terrified at the crazy man wanting to kidnap her and her children and bolts towards the kitchen to grab a knife. Roger tackles her halfway there and shouts for her to stop screaming. She fails to oblige and he begins to believe that perhaps diplomacy is not his forte. However a quick right hook shuts her up and dispels his doubts once again.
    Meanwhile...
    Fanboy and Parks meet at the warehouse and discuss what they've found. Parks points out that he never tried to deny his involvement but that his business is none of theirs. Fanboy wants details and Parks tells him that he's not at liberty to discuss these matters, but that he feels like they should keep looking for the killer. Fanboy demands to know who this killer is and Parks admits that the DHS is just as stumped as they are.
    Fanboy snorts and asks if they've never heard of video cameras at the DHS and Parks points out that this isn't T.V. he can't get a positive I.D. off half a frame of a man's partially obscured face. He encourages them to keep pressing forward in their search for the killer, but to leave the past in the past before they get hurt; this is still a national security matter of the utmost secrecy.
    Fanboy attempts to read Parks mind and is severely disappointed that he can't seem to pry any more information out of the agent (Parks will save is terrifying), however Parks does say that there are those in this administration that have looked forward to meeting people like them for a LONG time and that they'll be in touch officially soon. Fanboy finds this a bit ominous but is excited nevertheless.
    Fanboy tells Parks about the super genius Doctor Luvless while they walk out and admits that he might be more than the two of them can handle. He asks that Parks supplies some EMP weaponry to disable the gadgeteer's toys and Parks promises to deliver some cutting edge tech to even the odds in their next bout.
    As Parks is preparing to leave Roger pulls in with a van full of kidnapped children and their mother, all hogtied and unconscious. The twelve year old boy has a black eye and the eight year old girl is gagged with a sock...and might have a broken nose. Parks just shakes his head in disgust while Fanboy telepathically scans Roger's mind for what happened, and sees him chasing the children around trying to corral them into their van while they scream about stranger danger and the situation just devolves from there. Fanboy just facepalms silently in defeat.



    The Time Bomb
    After having Kavlight look over Sandy and her children for injuries (Just a few scrapes and bruises. Sandy doesn't have a scratch on her despite her altercation with McCrow) and being satisfied that they'll live, they set out to find the next superhuman on their list. This time with Fanboy providing the much needed restraint to counterbalance McCrow's enthusiasm.
    With the help of the Prophet they track down Richard Bronson's cell phone, a scrawny fifteen year old superhuman. He's at a local arcade and they decide to visit him there to hopefully avoid a scene. There's only half a dozen people in the arcade when they get there and Roger changes tactics midstride and decides to ambush Richard before Fanboy can stop him. He grabs the boy from behind and slams him into a machine.
    "You're coming with us and I don't want to hear a WORD about it. We'll explain later!" the kid freaks out and starts stammering 'What?' Roger shakes him harshly and demands he shut up. The kid keeps freaking out and the lights start flickering while the machines start blinking. Electricity starts arcing across his skin as it's drawn from the very air around him. The kid is in a blind panic and Fanboy recognizes that his isn't an intentional attack. He uses emotion control to calm the boy down and the kid shouts that EVERYBODY has to get out of here, that he can't stop this once it starts.
    Roger suddenly regrets this decision and tries to talk the kid through what's happening, remembering his own power fluctuations in the beginning. As Richard tries to explain to Roger that the reaction has to run its course, the kid's energy explodes and knocks McCrow across the room stunned and scorched.
    Fanboy grapples everyone in the arcade except for himself and the kid and times it to throw them out right as the next flash flares and strikes his force field. Everybody thinks that they've been thrown out by an explosion and start freaking out. Only Roger (unwisely) rushes back in. Roger charges and tries to knock the kid out to stop the reaction, and although he breaks the kid's rib and knocks the air completely out of him the aura of electricity fries him worse than his punch hurt the kid as his powers leave him especially vulnerable to electricity and he's barely able to stand under his own power.
    Fanboy tries to black the kid out telepathically, but the kid explodes in a flash and strikes both of them, Fanboy is injured and his hair stands on end but Roger is out cold. Fanboy tries to blast the kid again but can't quite knock him out and the kid's energy flares again rendering Roger dying and left in a blackened, unmoving heap.
    Recognizing that McCrow simply can't survive another hit Fanboy tosses Roger out of the store once more seconds before a blinding flash lights up the arcade and melts the majority of the machines. His force field barely holds and Richard is left unconscious by the experience.
    Fanboy catches his breath as the gawking survivors being returning to the scene and struggles to drag the charred remains of his partner into his car before returning to half carry Richard out as well.
    Once at the warehouse Kavlight gives McCrow a thorough examination and admits that there's nothing he can do for Roger, his wounds are too severe and even if he lives through the night it's unlikely he'll be able to breathe on his own much longer. Fanboy is surprised to find that he's worried about the violent and boisterous McCrow and against Kavlight's orders carries (so much of his body had dried up/crumbled at this point that he was only a fraction of his former size) the blackened hydromancer out to the docks and drops him into the ocean below. He watches the barely living Roger sink beyond his vision and holds his breath in anticipation.
    Nothing happens.
    Fanboy stands on the dock for almost an hour in contemplation before the churning of the waves catches his attention. It grows more and more violent until a pillar of water nearly 200ft tall bursts upwards in the shape of a man and roars so savagely that the occupants of the warehouse rush out to see if the pier is being destroyed and people in the city proper stop in their tracks at the monstrous sound. The creature bounds onto the pier bellowing and the water rapidly dissipates until McCrow is left unconscious and naked, but whole, amid the puddles.



    Baritone
    Roger barely remembers the fight with the kid or his near miss with death, but Richard is confined to the basement cells for everyone's safety regardless. When Parks gets word about the explosive nature of the teen's power he wants him in the Hole, but Roger of all people refuses to consider it. McCrow insists that he'll equip a quarters with heavy duty insulation and train the boy himself. Nobody's quite thrilled at the thought of Roger McCrow becoming somebody's role model, but no more is said on the subject and it's decided.
    Over the next two days another 12 Italians are found with their throats cut and hands cut off thanks to Chavenski's little phone call, Roger (assisted by the Bradleys and Richard) finally finishes his underwater holding cell and transfers Depaliamo to the bottom of the sea to avoid any surprise DHS raids or escape attempts. Richard is allowed to sleep upstairs so long as he can assure everyone's safety and Sandy and the kids finally understand Roger's intent. They aren't happy at the way things have turned out, but after speaking with Fanboy and the others they at least understand that nothing (else) bad is going to happen to them. I'm starting to think that the team name should be the Stockholm Society.
    Finally, Roger feels up to tackling the next superhuman and they decide to warn John Hurt that a killer's after him. The prophet directs them to a dive bar near the docks. As they pull into the parking lot a man matching Hurt's description and four of his biker friends drag three yuppies into the parking lot while kicking the crap out of them and whooping like maniacs.
    Fanboy and Roger stare at each other in disbelief for a moment and McCrow rushes headlong to the defense of the battered yuppies. He throws a massive haymaker at the end of his charge and lays out one of the bikers with a single blow. The others stop what they're doing and just stare at the impulsive hero as their former victims break away and flee into the night, eliciting a 'Well sh**' from McCrow. Another biker lunges forward and Roger breaks the man's nose with a well-timed head-butt.
    Hurt and his men surround Roger as Fanboy looks on nervously and Roger holds up his hands peacefully. "Come on guys, we're not looking for trouble; I'm just here to deliver a message."
    The bikers chuckle and chant 'Kick his ass Baritone.'
    Hurt/Baritone cracks his knuckles and laughs. "No friend," the burly biker says in an impossibly deep voice "I'm the one who delivers messages around here. Now f*** off."
    Roger repeats that he doesn't want any trouble and gets spit on as a result. Every nerve ending tells him to straddle this man and start pulling teeth, but he keeps reminding himself that he's here looking for allies, not street fights. He keeps his temper in check and extends his hand "I'm serious, we've been looking for you Hurt. I think you'll want to hear us out." he says through clenched teeth.
    Hurt leans forward and says 'And I was serious when I said F*** OFF' and as he says OFF he releases an earsplitting bellow that results in a 30ft by 100ft cone of sound that narrowly misses Fanboy, tosses several cars completely out of the parking lot; deafens Roger and strips flesh down to the bone in some places before throwing him more than 100ft across the parking lot to land in a crumpled; broken; bloody heap.
    Baritone draws a pistol and begins advancing towards Roger's unmoving carcass, but Fanboy throws himself in the way shouting that they're there to save his life. Fanboy stammers about the serial killer tracking superhumans and needing to watch each other's backs if they're to survive.
    Hurt just laughs in his deep, booming voice and holsters his gun. As he and his men mount their bikes he revs his engine loudly and shouts that he can take care of himself.
    Fanboy just falls next to Roger's bloody form and begins a desperate attempt at first aid as the bikers blow past him, laughing and hooting all the time.



    Session 6

    (Mann is played by McCrow's player, Stardust is played by my little sister who's never even had an interest in tabletop games before. We were hoping to get her into it with a short introductory session, and although she still hasn't came back yet she's voiced an interest in returning so it was a minor success. The best thing to come out of it however was the B side to our story, as Mann has since became one of our favorite characters.)


    Alternate Perspective
    We start at the beginning and Stardust vividly recalls that day that her life changed. She remembers the bus ride and watching a large mustachioed man beating up a Storm Trooper. Before she could do more than gawk she watched the man in the ski mask board the bus with his hissing canister of strange green gas, then she remembers the gunshot as the man with the mustache is gunned down and the bus slamming into the abandoned theater.
    She doesn't remember much after that.
    It's more than two months later when she finally wakes up in the hospital, her muscles nearly atrophied from disuse and her mind foggy from her long sleep. She doesn't do much but lay there until Dr Forester comes in and seems surprised to find her conscious. The Doctor tries to answer questions as best he can and calls Agent Parks, who shows up remarkably fast.
    Agent Parks explains about the bus accident and its label as an act of terror, he informs Stardust that she is to make no mention of her presence on the bus as there were supposedly no survivors. Parks goes on to lay out the non-disclosure agreement and has her sign it in exchange for him paying any and all medical expenses related to the accident. He then offers the former stripper a chance to make $10,000 for a week's work.
     
     
    The Russian Menace
    Parks explains that he knows from past experience how effective superhumans can be, but admits that he's had a hard time keeping some of his assets in line. With a snap of his fingers Parks summons a scowling, well dressed man in dark shades with a slightly receding hairline into the room. The man's carrying a briefcase that it turns out is filled with photos of countless atrocities. Men, women and children butchered like animals and splayed theatrically for the world to see.
    Parks indicates the pictures "This city used to have a sort of criminal equilibrium. The Italians wouldn't spread themselves too thin for fear of the Russians, and the Russians wouldn't come on too strong for fear of the Italians. However because of certain...individuals, the equilibrium has been upset. The Italians made powerful enemies and paid for it with their lives. The Russians have exploded to fill the power vacuum and I'm afraid that if they remain unchallenged the city won't be recognizable when they're done."
    Tapping the disturbing photos Parks shakes his head. "Appallingly, I have mutual allies with these monsters and can't move directly against them. For some ungodly reason my original team have taken a liking to the leader of the Russians and facilitated his rise to power."
    Stardust asks why they don't just kill the Russians and the other team if they're such a problem and Parks admits that it's gotten beyond that. He points out that they have a body count higher than most plagues and are suspected of taking the most powerful man in the city as a trophy for no discernable reason.
    She seems satisfied by this so Parks lays out a few of the Russian operations: Selling captured Italian women and children into slavery, smuggling ridiculously overpowered weapons into the states for what DHS is assuming to be a major territory grab and even auctioning off the stolen infants of their slain enemies as a final insult.
    Parks gives Stardust a few days to recover and consider his offer and she finally comes around. When the quiet man with the receding hairline shows up a few days later to get her answer she tells him that she wants to break up the baby selling ring immediately and he just nods his approval. She introduces herself with an attempted handshake and he just glares at her.
    "I'm Stardust." she says with a wink. "But you can call me Star."
    "Really...? Stardust. Sounds like a stripper name." he says with a scowl. They get into a bit of an argument over her chosen profession and he begins derogatorily referring to her as Drip, because as he puts it she's '90% chlamydia anyway.' He introduces himself as Special Agent Mann, but tells her that she can call him Special Agent, Sir.

    They drive in silence to a nice residential neighborhood and Agent Mann points out the house they're after, a two story colonial style with heavy shutters. A large man sits casually on the porch, but the more they watch him the more they realize that the nonchalance is forced; he's scanning the neighborhood under the guise of lounging.
    Mann checks his weapon, a heavy 1911 Colt .45 before turning to Stardust and pointing at her exaggeratedly "I don't like the idea of working with mutants." he says with a perceptible shudder. "You're aberrations, not assets. This business with McCrow and Hamilton should speak for itself, you people can't be trusted. But if Parks wants you on the job, I'll follow suit. Just keep in mind that if you make ONE wrong step Drip, I will bury you beneath The Hole myself." the stern agent says, chambering a round for dramatic effect and stepping out of his vehicle; a stunned Stardust scurrying behind him.
    The guard perks up as the pair approaches and holds up a hand in challenge. "Hold it right there-" the big man starts, but doesn't get to finish as Mann breaks the offered arm and drives a knee into his solar plexus; knocking the Russian out cold with the same effort it takes to ring a doorbell. Agent Mann doesn't even stop to see whether or not his victim gets up as he strolls into the front door and comes face to face with the reason they're there. Three men are tending to close to sixteen cribs worth of babies and two men in vests and carrying automatic weapons stand guard in opposite corners of the room.
    It takes the guards a moment to register that two people have just strolled into their safehouse unhindered and it gives the two of them enough time to fully take stock of their situation. One of the armed guards recovers enough to demand to know what they're doing here and Agent Mann responds by putting a bullet in his head.
    Everything goes quiet and then explodes in a hail of gunfire as the remaining guard opens up with full automatic fire and the three attendants draw pistols and literally hide behind the babies, each of them scooping an infant up and using them as human shields.
    Stardust instinctively goes invisible and grabs a baby under each arm before booking it out the door to Mann's surprise/irritation. She drops the babies off in Mann's car across the street and like a responsible citizen calls for backup from the proper authorities.
    The remaining houseful of thugs open fire at Agent Mann and his vest barely keeps him alive. He collapses against the wall and leaves a bloody streak. Stardust returns for another armful of babies and sees the carnage, she focuses on one of the thugs(forgetting about the baby he's holding) and everyone in the house is horrified to watch the man's skeleton apparently attempt to escape his own skin, reducing the Russian into putrid pile of quivering flesh and shattered bone. The baby falls from the man's grasp and shrieks in pain as it bounces against the floor.
    Nobody can see exactly what happened, but that just launches them into a blind panic in itself. One of the attendants drops his baby back into its crib and bolts past the door. The remaining guard and attendant fire wildly into the room, several bullets passing through the tops of the cribs but none of them finding a target.
    Stardust drops down to avoid the gunfire and focuses on the screaming baby, mending wounds that she can't even see and soothing the child's pain. Agent Mann stumbles to his feet and puts several bullets into the remaining guard. The last attendant puts his back against the wall, holds the baby up to his chest/head and presses his gun to the infant's head. "I don't know who you people are, but you leave NOW or this kid's blood is on YOUR hands!" he shouts in terror.
    Mann stumbles forward, his gun raised and shakes his head. "You have two choices here. You put the baby down, get cuffed and walk out of here alive. Or you don't...and I kill you where you stand."
    Stardust presses an unseen hand against Mann's side and his gushing wounds miraculously heal over, returning the agent's full focus and faculties just as he needs them most.
    "Last chance!" the Russian shouts over the head of his baby shield, pulling back the hammer of his pistol threateningly.
    "Right." the agent agrees. In that split second Mann squeezes the trigger of his .45 and watches the attendant's head split like an overripe melon, spraying the walls with gore. Stardust leaps forward using the unnatural speed of her flight to snatch the baby before it comes crashing down and becomes visible once again, glaring at Agent Mann.
    "He had a baby!" she shouts.
    "HAD, being the operative word." Mann says, holstering his gun and walking upstairs to check things out. "Now we have the baby."



    Official Investigation
    While waiting for the cleanup crew to arrive, Mann searches the house thoroughly but finds nothing that would link the operation to Chavenski, the Russians or potential buyers. It was apparently just an infant storehouse.
    Mann and Stardust turn over the investigation once Parks arrives at the scene and are just about to see what they can do about the city's white slavery problem, when Parks asks the two of them to look into a number of deaths around town. Six bodies have been recovered in the last two weeks, all of which died of suffocation and most of them appear heavily mutilated.
    Before he can continue, Agent Mann leans in and whispers that this sounds like the Tree King but says that that's impossible because McCrow killed him. He was on the recovery crew that brought back nothing but splinters. Parks agrees that it seems unlikely, but points out that there's not likely to be many other plant based psychos running around town, the senior agent shows Mann an autopsy report that shows fibrous growths in the man's lungs, almost like plant roots had taken hold. Mann just shakes his head and motions for Stardust to follow him to the car.
    On the way to the morgue Stardust and Agent Mann get into another altercation over Mann's hostage negotiation tactics, and Mann exacerbates things with liberal usage of his petname 'Drip'. Eventually he pushes Stardust too far and she grabs his hand in an attempt to rot a finger off. Agent Mann resists the attempt, quickly draws his pistol and suggests she exit his car. From now on, Stardust provides her own transportation.
    Mann pulls up to the Morgue and Stardust lands shortly afterwards, becoming visible again as she does so. They don't run into any resistance as Mann's credentials are more than enough to get them admittance and they start looking the latest body over for evidence.
    Stardust is terrible at this (wisdom penalty and no ranks in any skill) and she rolls terribly enough that we joke she wouldn't know he was dead if somebody hadn't told her. Mann on the other hand is built for investigation and has an eye for detail. He notices that the corpse's hands are rough and dirt is under the nails.
    Without bothering to look for any other details he checks the other victims and finds that they all worked as gardeners or landscapers. Even more specific, they all worked for companies that had government contracts. He checks a little more and finds out that each of the places a victim was found was missing plants, and checking a little more finds out that there have actually been dozens of trees and bushes reported stolen in the last month, although the police have given the thefts a low priority for obvious reasons.
    Stardust asks what all that means, and Mann points out that in the past Tree King only killed people that were in the way of his pursuit of vengeance and surmises that the dead men must have interrupted the mad man while he was doing something else.
    Agent Mann gets in touch with Parks and asks for a large landscaping order to be set up for the Mayor's offices, almost a dozen trees and assorted shrubberies delivered as soon as possible. Parks (and I) don't exactly get what he's going for, but agrees to set it up.
    By the time the PCs arrive at the mayor's office, a landscaping company has already started prepping the land and Mann sets up for overnight surveillance. He explains to Stardust that if Tree King is targetting landscapers then this will definitely get his attention. Then, since it's getting dark and the landscapers are going home, Mann instructs the five foot nothing, ninety pound girl who's just spent two months in a hospital bed to start planting trees while he checks out the perimeter.
    It takes Stardust more than an hour per tree, between the fact that most of the saplings are nearly as big as she is and she can barely hold the shovel let alone use it with her atrophied muscles, this just isn't her thing. She can be forgiven for failing to notice that one of the trees she's supposed to be planting has disappeared.
    Agent Mann on the other hand notices almost immediately once he's finished his rounds and suggests they split up to see if they can find anything. Stardust takes to the air and Mann rushes to the landscapers van to see if anything's missing. What he finds disturbs him.
    The missing tree looks eerily similar to Tree King, its branches have begun knitting together into clawed arms and thick bulbs have began growing on its 'chest' region. The tree creature has nearly torn the doors off the landscaping van and appears to be stealing fertilizer and other chemicals for some nefarious purpose. Mann opens fire into the oblivious tree's backside with his trusty sidearm and manages to snap the thing almost in half. (He got a 20 on his attack, I rolled a 1 on its toughness save.)
    Stardust hears the gunshots and gets in touch with Mann using her earpiece, he tells her that he's handled the situation and has her check the rest of the property for anything suspicious. She doesn't find anything, but that doesn't mean it's not there.
    Once they've cleared the property they load up the remains of the tree and head to The Hole to brief Agent Parks on what they've found. As they enter The Hole two men in hazmat suits claim the tree and take it to the back, while Parks and Mann talk and Stardust has a look around.
    She sees the six glass holding cells in the center and finds a darkhaired man sitting in one cell head in his hands, his legs mangled and held in casts. In another, apparently empty cell she notices what appears to be a stone head the size of an air-conditioner twisted in a vengeful grimace and half a hand protruding from the concrete floor. She begins growing very nervous about what they're doing here.
    Meanwhile, Agent Mann tells Parks what they found and suggests that if Tree King is stealing plants, fertilizer and other gardening chemicals, it stands to reason that he may be growing himself an army.
    The city is going to need all the help it can get in the days ahead. Parks makes a call to his superiors in Washington and arranges a meeting to request reinforcements.



     
    Infiltrating the Other Guys
    While Parks is discussing the implications of Tree King's budding (sorry) army with Mann and Stardust, he realizes that it's more important than ever that Fanboy and McCrow continue to lend their support to the DHS. He mentions the deadline he imposed concerning the return of Depaliamo and decides to make sure they actually have the Italian boss before pressing any further.
    Agent Mann and Stardust are instructed to reconnoiter McCrow's warehouse, but Parks stresses that they MUST be careful, if McCrow or Fanboy discovers their presence they WILL NOT survive the encounter. Parks reiterates that these two men slaughtered almost the entirety of the Italian crime syndicate in the city for disrespecting them, he points out that they do not care for trespassers and have installed military grade security measures.
    Mann says that he undestands and Stardust is still pretty cocky because of her powers so they set out to investigate the very warehouse that Mann/McCrow's player strove to make impenetrable. ((Actually proud of Mann/McCrow. He completely separated his OOC knowledge and feelings and focused only on how a hardass like Mann would approach this situation.))
    They stroll almost completely up to the warehouse before Mann makes his Notice check and sees a couple of hidden security cameras tucked into streetlamps and armored shutters. He doesn't believe they've been spotted so he has Stardust fly them to the roof to avoid giving themselves away. Stardust's flight doesn't confer any increased strength, so Mann is a maximum load for her and she pants and struggles their way onto the roof before collapsing to catch her breath.
    Mann sneaks around as stealthily as he can and finds a skylight built into the top of the roof but protected by thick steel bars and armored, mechanical shutters. The bars are widely spaced to let in as much light as possible, but not so big as to allow him entrance. Stardust on the other hand...
    Agent Mann quickly scores the glass beneath the bar with a razor knife and wraps his tie around his hand. He gives the glass a quick tap and manages to catch the dislodged piece before it can fall and give away their presence. It takes some finaggling, but Mann finally drags a large piece of glass up through the bars and places it on the roof. However he fails his balance check when he moves to get Stardust and rolls down the slanted roof, alerting the people inside that something is up there.
    Stardust takes this opportunity to invisibly slip through the hole he created, narrowly avoid cutting herself and Mann stealthily scurries to hide behind the curve of the roof. Once inside, Stardust begins describing what she sees to Mann via their earpieces.
    She notices some kind of computer room where a one legged man with a bushy beard and a blond haired young man seem to be looking through various monitors, apparently not even paying attention to the security cameras along the outside. To her surprise she sees six more of the blonde haired man strolling around the warehouse with guns in hand. Mann explains that the young guy is Bradley Yurtz and that duplicating is kind of his thing. He mentions that McCrow and Fanboy brought the kid down during an armed robbery and that now he works for them. The older man however is unknown, he hasn't gotten anyone's attention yet.
    Satisfied, Stardust continues poking around and finds the infirmary where a man in a white coat is changing the bandages of a large unconscious man attached to a number of I.V.s. Stardust waits until the doctor finishes and leaves and grabs the patient's chart to see what it says. She finds the name Nicholai C. and Mann immediately recognizes this as Chavenski. He's disturbed to find the crimelord here and has Stardust continue searching through the notes while he calls Parks.
    Mann evades the Bradley's who come outside to see what was banging around on the roof while talking to his boss. He points out that not only are McCrow and Fanboy acquaintances with Chavenski; they're paying for his recovery. He points out that Stardust can finish the Russian off without raising suspicion and asks Parks for confirmation. Parks is hesitant, he wants Chavenski dealt with, but points out that Chavenski's organization has outgrown the point where the Russian's death will cripple it and that killing Chavenski will only leave a power vacuum that may make things worse. He points out that as McCrow and Fanboy are allies of Chavenski he can't give an order like that, Fanboy's telepathy would pry it from his mind and THAT would definitely make things worse. Parks leaves the decision to Mann's discretion and Mann decides to leave the Russian be.
    Stardust reads what she can off Chavenski's chart and reports that it looks like the Russian is in pretty bad shape, apparently his altercation with Depaliamo cost him a lung. Mann questions whether Chavenski will even have a place in his own empire once he recovers.
    Stardust puts the chart back and continues snooping around. She investigates the 16 living spaces that McCrow installed and finds evidence that most are in use. She finds a drunk passed out in his own filth in one and an attractive middle aged woman plus her two bruised children in another. She looks at the busted lips and black eyes and (as a mother herself in RL) decides that this woman is a monster. Chavenski is a monster. The doctor saving him is a monster. Everyone associated with Roger McCrow or Samell Hamilton must be monsters and this whole place should be burned down and the people scattered to the wind.
    Mann talks her down from trying to execute the inhabitants of the warehouse one by one and reminds her that this is a job and she needs to be professional. She eventually takes a deep breath and continues her search. She finds some stairs leading down and follows them to find a pair of holding cells, one of them empty and the other containing a tall, lanky teen who appears to be having some kind of seizure. Visble arcs of electricity lance across his body and his face is strained in concentration.
    Stardust describes the kid to Mann who recognizes him from a description that Parks had given of a kid that nearly killed McCrow. He warns her (both IC and OOC because he's legitimately scared of this kid) not to approach and asks her to poke around a bit. She notices a large, steel trap door built directly into the floor and tries to pry it open before determining it's probably connected to something electronically. So being as stealthy as she can to avoid getting the kid's attention she starts opening various fuseboxes until she finds a large lever, which she promptly pulls. The steel door loudly begins opening and she glances down as it does, seeing nothing but a long drop and water underneath.
    She's suddenly extremely surprised to see the cell door open and the kid call out "Who's there?!" as she'd just assumed he was a prisoner, instead of willingly confining himself. She doesn't answer and he asks again, suddenly the air itself is heavy with the electric charge that's building with the kid's anxiety. She glances around nervously and the earpiece she's wearing goes dead as its energy is added to the aura surrounding Richard Bronson.
    Stardust doesn't know exactly what's about to happen, but she leaps through the hole to avoid it regardless. Her plan is to press against the underside of the warehouse until whatever's happening passes by, however the heavy steel door closes as the kid apparently flips the switch back.
    Cursing, she decides to abandon her post and finds Mann on the roof calling for her over his piece. She explains what happened and says that Depaliamo wasn't on the property. They give Parks a call and he admits that perhaps Fanboy was telling him the truth, as unlikely as that sounds...


    Non-Disclosure Violation
    The two unlikely partners are in the middle of getting something to eat when a call from Parks comes in. Apparently one of the superhumans has gotten into a scuffle and used his powers publicly, he needs the troublemaker brought in before this gets out of hand. They agree and cut dinner short, tossing the rest of their meal into the trash and doubletiming it across time.
    When they pull up to the scene of the crime they find a short man, around 5'6'' but extremely hairy and bulky with arms thicker than most men's thighs ranting and raving about some slight or another. Five men lay groaning in the street, limbs broken and several have vicious bite marks, but all of them are still alive. The man seems distressed and barely in control of his actions, shouting a stream of obscenities before headbutting the roof of a car and caving it in almost a foot. With blood streaming down his face the bestial man roars into the night sky.
    Mann and Stardust glance at each other and the former stripper goes invisible and takes to the sky, while Agent Man slams his car into gear and attempts to run the beast down, not wanting to risk a straight up confrontation with something this crazy.
    With split second timing however, the beast man sniffs the air before fliping onto the incoming car and propelling himself nearly 60ft through the air towards Stardust, narrowly avoiding the terrified woman and catching himself on a nearby streetlight, swinging around twice before perching in place and growling. Mann slams directly into the car that the beastman was attacking and nearly knocks himself unconscious.
    Stardust tries rot the beastman, but fails to overcome the superhuman's immense fortitude. Agent Mann stumbles out of his vehicle opens fire with his .45, only managing to graze the beast, before the enraged creature drops down and charges the distance between them, leaping into the air at the last second and delivering a drop kick into Mann's chest which breaks several ribs, sends the agent flying backwards into his own car and leaves him gasping for breath.
    Stardust manages to get the beastman's attention by exerting her will and forming several lesions on his hide. The creature responds by leaping up onto the streetlight and using its momentum to slingshot itself onto her, where it grapples her in midair.
    Agent Mann finally drags himself to his feet, but doesn't have a clear shot so he doesn't open fire. Stardust grabs the beastman by the head and exerts her power, attempting to turn him into a fleshy pile of goo, however he's just too hearty. He responds by biting into her shoulder savagely and digging in with both clawlike hands.
    Mann sees that things are getting desperate and takes a shot, but it goes wide and doesn't accomplish anything. Stardust exerts all of her strength and uses extra effort to go even higher, trying to shake the monster off despite the fact that the weight of the beastman is well over her maximum load and has been dragging her down. The beastman continues squeezing and chewing on her like a wild animal.
    They're far beyond Mann's range, so he simply stands there gawking up at the sky and hoping that nobody's seeing this and that's when Stardust surprises me. Her player's never really been one to think out of the box and always wants her options completely laid out for her, she won't even order a pizza unless she sees a menu that specifically says pepperoni on it. So when she doesn't bother consulting her character sheet and just says that Stardust grabs the beastman and just stops flying I have to admit that I'm more than a little shocked.
    They plummet almost 200ft straight down and crash into the ground like a meteor, the Beastman provides a little cushioning for Stardust's descent and she barely manages to just be knocked unconscious instead of severely injured by the experience, the beastman is pretty much broken inside but is filled with rage and bad ideas; so he pulls out of her grasp and starts to stagger off.
    Mann calls him out and states that "You're under arrest, persuant to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. Your public indiscretions concerning the events surrounding the suspected bioterrorist and the Ventnor City city bus hijacking constitute open and unabashed treason as defined in the non-disclosure agreement you and your contemporaries willingly signed. Put your hands up and lay on the ground, or I will execute your treasonous ass where it stands." ((I'm starting to think that Mann might make a more effective liaison than Parks. He's kinda hardcore.))
    The beastman snarls at his challenge and seems to forget his wounds, charging directly at Mann who immediately fires, putting a bullet into the superhuman's skull and laying it right out, although Mann discovers that the creature still clings to life. He slips a pair of cuffs onto the beastman before calling his boss to confirm the capture and request transportation, then staggers on unreliable legs to help Stardust to her feet.
    Once Stardust is back on her feet she wants to finish the creature once and for all but Mann refuses, saying that he's not Parks and won't allow mutants to subvert the law under his nose.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: "Let's Get This Straight, You're The Sidekick!"

      Those were really good stories, KidJake!

      BTW, welcome to our forum!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: "Let's Get This Straight, You're The Sidekick!"

        Thankya. I'm surprised it took me so long to stumble across these forums.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: "Let's Get This Straight, You're The Sidekick!"

          Sessions 7-10

          Picking Up Where We Left Off
          We open up where we left our heroes. The bikers are driving off laughing over their shoulders and Roger is splayed out in the middle of the street; his very bones exposed to the elements thanks to the force of Baritone's mighty bellow. Fanboy falls down next to McCrow's mangled body and frantically begins trying to resuscitate the hydromancer as he phones Dr Kavlight in hopes that their ambulance is ready to go.

          Miraculously (Needed to roll a 15, rolled a 20), Fanboy not only stabilizes Roger but even manages to wake him up. McCrow is none too happy with the state of things and isn't completely sure if his spine still works, but he's clinging to life with all he's got.

          Bradley and Kavlight finally show up in the ambulance and Dr Kavlight reveals that he's installed what basically amounts to a plastic tub filled with water specifically for Roger's unique physiology. McCrow's wounds begin knitting themselves together of their own volition once he's submerged and he spends the rest of the ride home isolated in his tub, napping in peace.

          When they show up at the warehouse they discover that the Prophet has collapsed at his station and one of the Bradley's claims that it looked like he had a bad trip, screaming about burning alive out of the blue and then passing out. Roger is moved to finish recovering in the privacy of his own bathroom while Kavlight gives the fallen precog a full exam.

          Morning comes and Fanboy gets a call from Agent Parks saying that something's come up and he'll be in Washington for a week or so. Parks emphasizes that he still intends on recovering Depaliamo once he returns and Fanboy continues playing stupid. Parks is obviously irritated but tells Fanboy that he'll be picking up a couple of experimental EMP grenades to deal with Doctor Luvless's toys after their little talk the other day all the same. Fanboy almost considers trading Depaliamo for the grenades as a symbol of good faith, but quickly decides against it.

          Parks also takes this opportunity to warn Fanboy that some of his agents in the field have reported that Tree King may not be as dead as previously believed (Fanboy's player actually groaned and called shenanigans about that since McCrow had previously turned the guy into firewood, but he rolled with it.) and that he's planning something big. Fertilizer and other chemicals are being stolen from various government contractors and the field agent that discovered the thefts believes that Tree King is growing an army. Fanboy isn't convinced that it's as cut and dry as that, but tells Parks that he'll look into it.

          Parks starts to hang up before he remembers his initial reason for calling. A new superhuman woke up in the hospital a few days before and as much as he hates the idea of having McCrow and Fanboy having an influence on her, he needs somebody to look out for her with the serial killer running around and his go-to man is already breaking in a new partner. Fanboy doesn't like being put on babysitting duty, but agrees to pick her up anyway.


          Diamonds and Chauvinism Are Forever
          Fanboy wakes McCrow up in his tub and tells him to get dressed, they're having company over. Roger stumbles around until he's basically dressed (Trench coat? Check. Sunglasses? Check. Good to go.) and rides with Fanboy to pick up the new girl, Tiffany.

          They get to her apartment and she lets them in after a short introduction. Roger tells her to get her sh**, it's time to go; but Fanboy is a bit more diplomatic and explains that they woke up from the accident a couple of months ago and have been using their powers to aid the Department of Homeland Security ever since. Fanboy explains that in exchange for their services the DHS has been lenient with their repeated, and sometimes public, abuses of power.

          Tiffany's a pretty reasonable girl so she sees the wisdom in this arrangement and agrees to join them... but of course McCrow can't ever let anything go smoothly. He snorts and says that he's glad she decided to come easy, he wouldn't want to hurt her.

          She stops in her tracks and just gawks at him. "Excuse me?"

          Roger smirks and says "Less talking, more packing. Chop, chop now."

          She warns him to change his tone or he'll be the one limping back home and he bursts into laughter. "But...but you're a woman!" he says between guffaws.

          Tiffany lunges at McCrow and they roll initiative.

          Now this is generally the portion of the story where the sexist tough guy gets taught a lesson and learns to grudgingly respect the fairer sex. However if you've been following the campaign you know that Roger has 2 powers: Control of water and a superhuman ability to avoid comeuppance.

          She rolls a 3. He rolls a 20. He gives her a right hook to the midsection that knocks the wind out of her and stuns her for a round, uses his improved grab to move into a clinch and head-butt her (she's rolling terribly) and staggers/stuns her again, and uses his free turn from her being stunned to throw her through her own coffee table where she lays unmoving amid the glass and wood splinters. Fanboy just stands there with his mouth agape as Roger towers over the unconscious girl panting and looking for an excuse to kick her while she's down.

          Fanboy finally sputters "She said she was coming with us! Why the hell would you do that?"

          McCrow rarely has a reason for anything and just shrugs. "She had an attitude problem. Pack a bag, I'll load her up."

          Fanboy doesn't argue, there's no point. He just sighs, grabs a bag and starts shoveling in necessities.


          A few hours later Tiffany wakes up in a dark, damp cell. Her head is ringing and she's bandaged up pretty good, but there doesn't seem to be any lasting injuries. She takes stock of her surroundings and notices a young man sleeping soundly in the cell next to hers and a set of stairs leading up.

          With a smirk she rubs 3 large diamonds embedded in her right palm on the day of the bus accident and as she does so she becomes a living diamond herself. She assumes the classic knife-hand pose and cuts through five bars with a single swipe. In seconds she's escaped from her cell and starts to free the young man as well in an attempt at an ally, but finds his cell door unlocked and decides not to trust him.

          Tiffany sneaks upstairs but is unprepared for the barrage of security cameras and Bradleys patrolling the area and is quickly spotted. Shouts ring out and she lays one of the clones out with superhuman blow across the temple and advances like the terminator as the remaining clones open fire to no avail.

          She calls out for that son of a bitch McCrow to face her, but there's no response. Fanboy and Sandra step out to see what the hubbub's about, but McCrow is nowhere to be seen. Everyone steps out of Tiffany's way as she climbs the steps towards McCrow's indicated sleeping quarters still enraged from their earlier tussle.

          She reaches his room and presses her ear against the door and hears movement inside. "I hear you in there you cowardly bastard, come out and fight me NOW!"

          There's no response, so Tiffany digs her claw like fingers into Roger's door and simply tears the whole thing off its hinges.

          There's a watery explosion corresponding with the removal of the door that flings Tiffany off the catwalk and seems to follow her down.

          She stumbles to her feet a little rattled and then gazes up and notices that the water doesn't seem to be flowing away, but is shaped suspiciously like a 30ft monster.

          "You want to fight? Alright. We'll fight." McCrow says lifting his forklift over his head like Cain with his rock.

          "Woah, woah, woah!" Tiffany says, assuming a fetal position and protecting her head; unsure whether a four and a half ton hunk of machinery is a match for diamond skin, but unwilling to test the theory. The fight gone out of her, she grits her teeth and hopes for the best and is more than a little relieved when the forklift goes back down.

          She continues protecting herself even after Roger reassumes his old form and just asks "What the hell are you?"

          While this is going on, nobody really notices the handful of Russians that arrive or that Chavenski is out of bed and dragging himself towards the door. One of the Russians clears his throat and gets the PCs attention (although Tiffany is still convinced that Roger is going to kill her, so she doesn't get up.) so that Chavenski can have a word with them.

          The crime boss speaks in a ragged whisper because of his injuries and seems to have trouble catching his breath. He thanks Roger and Fanboy for their help and shakes their hands before asking them to come work for him. He admits that men who can spontaneously hand him a million dollars for no reason probably aren't hurting for cash, but he offers them a chance at power and prestige as his lieutenants.

          Tiffany jumps at the chance, but Chavenski's entire introduction to her was watching her curl into the fetal position and cry, so he specifies it's an all or nothing deal. Neither McCrow or Fanboy or happy with the idea of working for somebody, so they turn him down. Chavensky isn't offended and gives them his personal number in case they need to get in touch with him in the future.

          With their goodbyes said, Chavenski leaves with his men to assume his rightful place as boss of the city.


          Baritone, Round Two
          Roger irritably attempts to repair the damage that Tiffany inflicted on his warehouse with the help of Bradley and Richard. While Tiffany gets settled in and Fanboy checks in on Prophet.

          Prophet has woken up but is still slightly shaken and explains that he just experienced his own death. He explains that his powers rely on seeing through his own eyes in the future and that he's basically just been reading headlines to the PCs that he finds there. He doesn't know how he died but he was in a strange place and burned to death in a flash, as such he locks himself in the control room and refuses to come out, as a side effect of his experience; his powers are on the fritz since there's no future him to see through.

          Things go pretty much as they always have for the rest of the day until Prophet calls everyone to his new room for a disturbance. Apparently superhumans have just went crazy today and both Doctor Luvless and Baritone are mid-crime spree. Doctor Luvless is robbing a bank and is pretty much monopolizing the police's time(which happens when you drag robots into a bank and start vaporizing things), whereas Baritone is apparently vandalizing a pharmacy in a quest for prescription drugs (they can tell it's Baritone because the squad car that reported it in did so from on top of the pharmacy).

          Both of them have an axe to grind with one of the villains so I assumed there'd be a little bickering, but Fanboy doesn't want to engage Luvless without EMP grenades and Roger is going to attack Baritone (for spitting on him, not nearly killing him) whether he's got backup or not.

          They speed to the pharmacy and find that there is no police presence, if there were any officers here they've decided to evacuate the area. Instead there's four bikers and the big man himself loading stolen drugs into the saddlebags of their bikes. Either the bikers don't notice them, or simply don't care; but they continue loading without a care in the world.

          No PC in the history of ever has accepted an NPC not paying attention to them while they're being heroic, so they go into full battle mode to get the bikers attention. Tiffany turns diamond, Roger blows up half the neighborhood summoning water to himself, Fanboy begins glowing with telekinetic energy.

          Baritone stops what he's doing, looks at them gathering power and tells them to piss off; he doesn't feel like kicking their asses again today. Roger responds by launching a burst of water at the hulking biker who braces against it and manages to do little more than get drenched before responding with his mighty bellow. Tiffany spends a hero point to interpose herself between Baritone's blast and McCrow (I tell him that this is why he should be nice to people) and the force of the blast is so severe that the majority of her diamond exterior is simply wiped away.

          Tiffany leaps forward with what's left of her power and cleaves one of the bikers in half while Fanboy grapples two more and throws them at Baritone although none of them are injured in the process.

          Baritone bellows again at the woman who killed his man and her broken body rolls across the parking lot. Roger seems to be having a flashback of his previous fight and just runs away in abject terror. Fanboy grapples Baritone and lifts him up, putting the squeeze on the big man.

          Baritone winces but tells his men that he has this and orders them to leave. As they ride off he shouts again and Fanboy is flung into and partially through a neighboring building, surviving only because of his force field. The biker smirks as the unconcious telepath releases him and he lands on the ground with a thud. He turns around to finish looting the register when McCrow (who'd circled the building to sneak up behind him) breaks a 2x4 across his smug face, injuring and stunning the big man.

          Roger brings the remains of the 2x4 down again on Baritone's head a second time and cracks his skull but fails to stun him again. Baritone opens his mouth to bellow again and Roger uses a hero point to force a burst of water down his lungs, nullifying his power.

          Baritone chokes on the water, tears running down his cheeks as Roger lands another blow with the 2x4. And another. And another. And another. Baritone dies choking and terrified, whether through drowning or blunt trauma is impossible to tell and unimportant. But McCrow lifts the bloated, bloody corpse up by its leather jacket and spits in its broken face with a savage growl before dropping what's left of Baritone back to the ground as his partners come to. Only Roger knows exactly what happened, but neither of the others believes it was self defense. Self defense usually leaves something recognizably human.




          Powerless
          They return to the warehouse in silence and Fanboy dwells heavily on how close to death he came. He decides that with their vast wealth it's ridiculous to rely solely on powers for protection and begins designing a new costume. He (and his player) withdraws from the group to look into his options.

          Meanwhile Sandy and her kids approach McCrow about getting some things from home. What with the kidnapping and everything they didn't have any time to grab anything. Roger agrees to drive her to the house and Tiffany decides to come with him. Fanboy says he's too busy and shoos them away.

          Roger tells Sandy to leave the kids, that he's not interested in listening to them on the way there (he didn't like driving with his own kids at that age, why would he want hers?) and drivers her out to the suburbs.

          As they pull into her driveway there's an extra car in it that Sandra recognizes as belonging to her husband. She's surprised because he wasn't supposed to be home for another two weeks. McCrow tells her to wait in the car and asks Tiffany to step in with him to make sure things are alright.

          The door is unlocked and they creep in unannounced. They immediately notice the corpse of Sandra's husband sprawled on the floor and covered in blood and Tiffany notices a large man pressed under the stairs in a ski mask.

          She points the man out and demands to know what he's doing here and the man responds by leaping forward like a cat and taking a swipe at her with a Bowie Knife. The blow fails to connect and she responds by turning diamond and cracking him in the jaw, sending him stumbling back. Since their powers are now on the table, Roger blows up the kitchen sink and puts a prowler sized dent in the wall with a burst of water.

          The man holds up his hands and Tiffany simply passes out where she stands. Roger barely manages to avoid joining her and feels extremely sleepy, but spends a hero point to shake it off. This is when he realizes that it's the serial killer.

          The killer lunges at him, but Roger grapples and the two of them fight over the knife. As they're fighting for the knife the killer grabs Roger's hand and McCrow feels absolute panic as he realizes he can no longer feel the presence of nearby water.

          To Roger's growing horror pipes burst in the ceiling above and a wave of water crushes him to the ground and lets the killer slip out of his grasp. The killer takes a moment to admire his new ability before Roger explodes out of the crushing wall of water gasping for breath and delivering a wild haymaker that knocks the serial killer on his ass. Still panting and coughing up water, Roger manages to choke out "I'll take my powers back from what's left of your broken corpse."

          The killer was expecting a single superhuman, a middle-aged woman unaware of his presence until it was too late. Instead he finds himself in a fight with two completely different superhumans in a third superhuman's house. Obviously he's no longer in control of this situation, so he decides to bolt and finish this later; one on one.

          Roger gives chase with everything he's got and manages to tackle the fleeing killer, raining down a flurry of blows despite his lack of powers. When the killer responds, his blows are like jackhammers driving Roger back and feeling like they've broken something with every strike. The last man who'd hurt him so thoroughly was the Russian prize fighter and he only managed to escape that fight with the help of Fanboy.

          The killer however doesn't want to fight, he doesn't know how many superhumans are nearby and is only interested in getting away with his stolen power for now. The next time Roger lunges forward the killer simply trips the older man and leaps a fence. By the time Roger realizes the fight's over he has no idea where the man went.

          McCrow stumbles back to Sandy's house and finds Tiffany reverted to her natural form and sleeping soundly on the floor. He smacks her awake and staggers to the car bruised and angry. Sandy freaks out when she sees the shape that he's in, but he manages to convince her that everything is fine and that they need to get back to the warehouse. He explains that the killer ambushed them, but decides to lie and claim that her husband must've been out instead of laying in a pool of his own blood. Tiffany plays along.

          Back at the warehouse Roger immediately rushes to gather Prophet, Fanboy and Kavlight together to explain what happened. He's freaking out when he explains that his powers are gone and the killer has them now. Fanboy immediately starts laughing and pointing at Roger. "You...you're just a regular non-powered ******* again. How does it feel peasant?"

          Roger's rage flashes and he socks Fanboy in the jaw, however the super-nerd's protective forcefield absorbs the blow easily and McCrow suddenly realizes that the telepath might actually be a threat without his powers. With a flick of his hand and a smirk Fanboy sends Roger flying back across the warehouse into a wall. Tiffany steps in in diamond form before things can escalate and the Bradleys move to position themselves between the heroes, Fanboy was ready to smack Roger around some more and Roger already has his cell-phone in hand; preparing to activate the auto-turrets. Kavlight helps Roger up and leads him to the infirmary while Prophet talks Fanboy down.

          Dr Kavlight runs a few tests and discovers that Roger's system still shows the same abnormalities (superhuman cells emit a faint, harmless radiation) however the signs are weak, as though they've been drained. Kavlight's confident that the effects are temporary, but isn't sure how long temporary is going to be.

          Roger's relieved knowing that he's not going to lose his powers permanently, but is still irritated that he 's relegated to a mere mortal for the time being.



          Loose Ends
          They spend the rest of the day talking with Prophet about the killer and he reveals that before his episode he'd discovered a pattern that predates the bus incident. Over the past eight years there's been eight murders in or related to government facilities, all commited by a single stab to the heart.

          8 Months ago Glenn Howard was found dead in the American Embassy in Egypt. 2 Years ago Robert Landry was found murdered in the DHS Records Office in Utah, a farmer with his identity retracted in the area was also killed. 5 Years ago Angela Ericson was found dead in the Pentagon Records Office. 8 Years ago a Dr Richard Tennison and Carrie Price were found in a Florida CDC Office. Around the same time Lt. Gerald Marshal and Colonel Daniel Rampert were discovered dead in Eglin Airforce Base in Florida. A Captain Warren Davis was also officially reported missing from Eglin Airforce Base a few days later.

          Roger notices that only Captain Davis's body was never found and reasonably assumes that this might be their man. He tells Prophet to get him a file on Davis ASAP and Prophet says that he'll do what he can, although his sudden bout of agoraphobia has somewhat limited his investigative skills as several of his contacts require meeting in person.

          They wrap things up with Prophet (it should be noted that at no point does anybody think to sit down Sandy or the kids to talk about the death of her husband so the poor woman still believes that he got away. I'm sure this will never come back to bite them in the ass.) and retire to their rooms for some much deserved sleep.

          They're woken up in the middle of the night by a horrible clattering and they stagger out to see what's up. Lucky Dan is sprawled at the bottom of the stairs amid a puddle of various liquors and shattered glass, he appears pretty well trashed and doesn't seem to be able to stand up by himself. Fanboy and Roger move to help him up and more or less drag him back to his room.

          Dan has moved from happy drunk to sad drunk pretty hard and he's sobbing about the loss of his family. He admits to being a lousy husband and worse father, but the thing that really gets to him is that according to the note they left while he was still in the hospital. If it had been his own doing (and in fact probably would have been his own doing) he thinks he could've accepted it. But he lost almost a month through no fault of his own and that was the one which broke the proverbial camel's back.

          Roger tries to console Dan and tells him that he knows exactly how he feels. His own first marriage fell apart because he wasn't around enough. So did his second one. His third marriage though he blames solely on his wife. Roger starts to say something else, but Dan starts to sob harder and Fanboy claps a hand over his mouth before we can any more of his sordid history.

          "What he MEANS, Dan, is that it's not too late." Fanboy says, glaring at Roger. "If you want your family back then call your wife, you can still fix this."

          Dan explains that he's been trying to get in touch with his wife for days now but she won't return his calls or answer the door when he goes by. Roger and Fanboy volunteer to talk some sense into her. (They say 'talk' but Fanboy asks how severely he can Mind Rape somebody so this seems destined to end badly.)

          Lucky Dan thanks them both and gives them the address of his sister-in-law who his family's been staying with. With that off his mind they get him to sleep and then return to their rooms to leave this one until the morning.

          The next day our heroes set out to fix Lucky Dan's life and hopefully give him a reason to stop drinking so damned much. They find his sister-in-law's house in a bad part of town and notice an unusually high amount of wear and tear in the neighborhood. Several homes are just abandoned and graffiti covers everything, a number of street punks are hovering near their intended destination and one of them brazenly tosses a rock through one of her windows while shouting obscenities.

          Tiffany is extremely against private property damage apparently and she fires a blast of crystalline shards from her palm into the crowd, lacerating and terrifying the punks so that they scatter to the wind; bloody and no longer in the mood to fight.

          Roger is of course proud.

          They knock on the door and a heavyset brunette with a southern draw (no idea why I stressed an accent when I did the voice but they immediately claimed that she's West Virginian, so I went with it.) answers the door with a bat in hand, screaming about what she's going to do to these a-holes if they don't leave her and her home alone.

          She's more than a little surprised to see a Rolls Royce in the driveway and an attractive young lady; a well-dressed young man in a sharply pressed suit; and a hairy, shirtless middle-aged man in a trench coat and shades standing in her doorway. She's even more surprised when the shirtless man starts putting on the 'charm'.

          She's about to close the door to avoid McCrow's extremely explicit advances when Fanboy steps in and says "Ma'am, we're friends of Dan. We're looking for Mrs. Brown."

          The woman screeches for Lorraine to get the door and a similar looking woman with a slight build, prematurely greying hair and perpetually exhausted expression comes to the door. Roger sort of invites himself in to continue his attempted seduction of Dan's sister-in-law and Fanboy explains that they're friends of her husband and they need to speak with her.

          Lorraine threatens to burst into tears. "He's dead isn't he? He's dead and you're bookies and you're going to rob me and my sister aren't you?"

          Fanboy sort of stares at her for a moment "That's... a very specific fear ma'am, but no. We're not bookies and your husband's fine, we just need to speak with you."

          Lorraine isn't exactly interested in hearing from Dan or those close to him and says as much so Fanboy decides that it's time for brainwashing. He starts subtle by using Emotion control to induce a deep feeling of regret in Mrs Brown but that's as far as he gets. She breaks down in tears and admits that she still loves Dan but she can't support their five kids AND her husband on her own. She goes on about how the bills are piling up and the bank is seizing the house and her oldest son has pissed off the local street gang. Her problems seem endless but Fanboy has a very direct solution.

          "Lorraine. Go pick out a house." he says with a shrug.

          Lorraine stares at him and asks "What?"

          Fanboy repeats himself. "Lorraine, I want for you and Dan to go pick out a house. On us." he says, slipping her his business card. "Don't go crazy or anything, but get something nice. On me and my associates."

          Lorraine is flabbergasted, she asks what kind of things her husband is wrapped up in and seems ready to bolt. But Fanboy just flashes that winning smile (he's began beefing up Diplomacy) and assures her that Dan's not done anything wrong. He reveals himself to be the heir to the Hamilton Furniture fortune to ease her worries and says that Dan saved his life once(not a total fabrication, he just doesn't mention that he was blind drunk when he did it) and he just wants to return the favor. Lorraine is literally speechless and Fanboy tells her where to pick up Dan before calling for McCrow to stop '******* around' and leaving before things gets mushy.


          Revenge of Tree King
          Things are looking up as they return to the warehouse and they're feeling pretty good about their latest act of philanthropy. Lucky Dan is off picking out houses with his wife, Roger is patching up the warehouse (some little bastard managed to break his skylight! Bugs have been getting in.), Fanboy is putting the finishing touches on his new costume and everyone else is going about their business.

          Then suddenly Bradley starts shouting for everyone to turn on the T.V. and the day gets shot all to hell.

          Across every channel is the headline: School Bombing, 35 Confirmed Dead.

          Everyone's shocked, but while listening to the broadcast Fanboy hears the phrase 'fertilizer bomb' and knows exactly who's responsible (to be fair, he called it the second he heard Parks say 'missing fertilizer') although can't fathom WHY he'd do it.

          Prophet had already been looking into the details of Mann's discovery and points out that this school was one of the landscaping contracts of the men Tree King murdered. Fanboy scans the list of other contracts and finds other schools, the mayor's office, a courthouse, fire and police stations and of course a metric crapload of work in a local park. A park which Prophet points out is hosting a live televised rally featuring hundreds of people for the Mayor, who just happens to be running on a platform focused on his handling of the tragic Bus Hijacking. A noted sore point for the Tree King.

          Before they've even left there's been another explosion killing 15 people in a courthouse records office, 'coincidentally' the same records office where a friend and contact of Prophet's worked. Everybody with a phone starts calling places on the list to warn them to evacuate, but the lines are so backed up that only a handful of their warnings make it through.

          They rush towards the park and Fanboy dials Bradley (the real Bradley) and asks him to reinforce them at the rally. He then dials Parks and demands backup. Parks is still in Washington but promises to have his best man back them up and says he'll do what he can to get through to emergency personnel with their warning. They debate calling in Chavenski, but worry that having his men slaughtered by Tree King by the droves might dissolve the good will they've built up with the surly Russian.

          They get to the rally after the rally is in full swing and Roger stops at a water fountain in the park while everyone else fans out. McCrow's connection to his powers is faint, but he can feel the water again and that's heartening. He concentrates with all of his might and slowly begins forming Droplets from the fountain, figuring the vicious little bastards will be useful when it hits the fan.

          Roger strolls the park grounds trying to feel for a water source and eventually finds a sprinkler line that he and the Droplets (sneaking around as mobile puddles) camp out on. Fanboy pushes towards the front as the mayor takes the stage and Tiffany approaches the camera crew.

          The mayor does a truly inspiring song and dance concerning the city's strength in the face of adversity and particularly embellishes his own part in holding the city together after the unexpected chemical attack. He's just getting to the part where he guarantees that under his opponent's leadership the city would have turned into Thunderdome when a striking figure emerges from the tree line.

          Tree King slowly approaches the podium slowly clapping, a hollow; disturbing sound without flesh to soften it. "A fine speech Mister Mayor. A fine speech." he says clawing his way up the stage and towering over the terrified politician in all his wooden glory. An eerie silence falls over the crowd as they watch a real life monster take the stage.

          "I've got one of my own if you don't mind. One that might invalidate a couple of your talking points." Tree King says, far more cordially than the PCs have ever heard him. "You see you're wrong about there being no survivors. I survived. In a manner of speaking."

          The crowd gasps. ((Fanboy's player is like :smalleek: Parks really isn't gonna like this.))

          "They tried to lock me away, to be their little science experiment. But I was a man once, with flesh and blood and a beating heart. But I wake up to some ******* in a cheap suit telling me that I'm going away for the rest of my life because I no longer LOOK the part?!" there's murmuring amongst the crowd at this.

          "I agree, it was unfair. But then, life is unfair." he says with a cold sneer. "And I'm afraid I have some even more disturbing news. Agent Parks wanted a monster, expected a monster and that's what I intend to give him."

          Looking directly into the cameras Tree King almost seems to smile "You wanted to see what I could do Parks? You want to see what effect the chemicals had on me? Then watch closely. Because I'm no longer a man. No longer bound by your PATHETIC laws." he shouts, the murderous rage seeping through like always.

          "Get the F***ING camera woman!" Roger shouts out and Tiffany springs into action, slicing through the camera nearest her with a single blow and using a hero point for a second action sends a spray of crystalline shards unerringly through the second camera near the stage.

          There's another gasp from the crowd and Fanboy steps out, snatching Tree King with his telekinesis and lifting the creature high into the sky, applying considerable pressure and eliciting a number of creaks and cracks as the living wood gives way.

          "Shut up tree." Fanboy quips with a smirk. "We've done this before and it always ends the same way. You kill a few people, we kill you..."

          Tree King begins laughing horridly, a raspy sound that carries surprisingly well. "Oh I remember you two. I remember you well. I was hoping you would show up, because I wanted to thank you in person."

          Fanboy squeezes harder and the crowd parts as Roger and Tiffany move to stand with him. "Thank us?" Fanboy asks confused.

          "If it wasn't for you, and the axe of course, I never would have realized the true extent of my power. You see I thought that I was nothing but sovereign of...plants." Tree King sneers with disgust. "But you boys, you boys have given me SONS to rule."

          At his proclamation I pull back the fog of war of the park area and reveal close to 30 identical Tree Kings sauntering towards them from the heavy tree line and a single monstrously large version coming up the center. All of the players give a collective 'Oh sh**."

          Initiative is rolled and the Tree Kings go first. The massive version charges into the crowd and just begins eviscerating everything he can lay claws on. People begin panicking but the regular sized Tree Kings have the entire perimeter surrounded so there's nowhere to go. The army of Tree Kings open up their bulbs and release a massive cloud of spores which Fanboy/Roger narrowly avoid, Tiffany is immune to and a few dozen civilians choke to death on. Fanboy hurls his immobile Tree King into the larger one, killing the one he held but barely scratching the large one. Roger focuses his energy and all of the sprinklers within range explode upwards in mini-geysers. Tiffany leaps forwards and punches directly through one of the Tree King clones.

          It continues like this for a few rounds, the Tree Kings are resilient and vicious and they seem to ignore the heroes in favor of murdering as many innocent civilians as they can get their hands on. This isn't subtle, it's a direct message: I can kill who I want and nobody can stop me.

          Roger begins flooding the area, knocking Tree Kings down and smothering their spores, his Droplets have climbed the large Tree King like he's one of the Colossi and after a few rounds of gnawing like the crazed monsters they are eventually brings him down. Tiffany is hacking her way through one Tree King at a time while Fanboy is picking up groups of them and throwing them at other groups of them, although as tough as the bastards are that's mostly just slowing them down.

          They're starting to feel a little overwhelmed when suddenly there's a volley of gunshots and 10 men in button down shirts and ski masks wielding 9mm pistols advance into the park. The bullets don't do much against the living trees but one or two are brought down by the sheer volume. Fanboy laughs and welcomes 'Duplex' to the party.

          The Tree Kings are getting more aggressive and Fanboy and Roger are having to burn hero points to keep from succumbing to the spores in the air. Well over half the tree clones (all the ones to the east) are dead and the heroes position themselves between the remaining Tree Kings and the civilians. Bradley's clones are throwing themselves into the fray as fast as he can generate them but while the Bradleys are fearless(they know that so long as one of them survives, they all kinda do) the Tree Kings are downright suicidal, like they enjoy showing what they're willing to give to take just one more life.

          Fanboy switches tactics and focuses on crushing one of them at a time and Tiffany covers her hands in lighter fluid soaked rags to make being in melee range with her even more unpleasant. Roger of course has no sense of moderation so it can always be assumed that if I don't mention otherwise then he's using a water-powered Kamehameha to hose down one tree after another.

          There's a scant handful left by the time a well dressed man with dark shades and a receding hairline steps onto the field firing a .45 at anything that looks at him funny. He seems to be shouting to himself to check for survivors, but miraculously a few of the injured begin to stir and pick themselves up.

          "This is the best Parks can send?" Fanboy asks with a snort. "A schizo with a peashooter? No wonder he keeps his hand hidden."

          If Agent Mann heard him or cared he doesn't show it and just keeps executing trees, one of the Tree King charges in an attempt to tear him apart but stops about 10ft away like it hit an invisible wall and rots like a time lapse video. He barks that he doesn't need a babysitter, when he says check on survivors he means NOW!

          It doesn't take but a few more rounds to finish up the remainder of the murderous clones and survey the area. The death toll is estimated to be at least 90 with more than half that still on the fence. The heroes meet up near the stage and Mann seems to be distressed and speaking into his earpiece.

          "This was ANOTHER damned diversion." he shouts, motioning for the PCs to follow him. "The REAL Tree King is at The Hole RIGHT NOW."

          Fanboy holds up a hand "Wait, wait, wait. I need to mindwipe these people before we go anywhere."

          Mann curses. "There's no time! The three of you get there and subdue him, I'll secure this area with Yurtz and tend to the wounded until you're back."

          Fanboy doesn't like this at all. "I don't know how far back my mindwipe can go, if I don't do it NOW it might not take!"

          Mann shouts back at him "There are TWO HUNDRED people here, by the time you're done Tree King will have killed every man in the Hole and did God knows what with our facilities. Not to mention the fact that the ENTIRE city just heard that they've been lied to about a major terrorist attack from the mouth of literal monster. I give this twenty minutes before its plastered on Youtube, so discretion is a secondary concern now."

          Fanboy looks like he's about argue more, but Roger half carries the telepath in a mad rush for the car. "No time dammit, we need to move if we don't want him to get away."

          The three PCs pile into the car and Roger drives (he's got the highest driving skill since he has a +1 Dexterity modifier, it's kinda sad) as fast as he can manage across town. Several times he gets stuck in traffic and by the time he arrives The Hole is completely silent.

          They poke around and discover Parks' last six men have already been murdered. Deep claw marks have shredded several hazard suits and the men within them. The rest are bloated and look to have choked to death, their throats swelled to the point of bursting by what looks like fibrous roots.

          Roger curses and strikes the walls, vibrating with rage. Fanboy looks around and finds that Johnny and some ill tempered hairy guy are still in their cells, however to everyone's horror the floor of Brick's cell is missing, along with the invincible superhuman it housed.

          Just when it looked like things couldn't get worse, the Tree King has found a terrifying new ally in his war against the world.









          Cleanup
          We start off by retconning Tiffany a bit: basically when McCrow and Fanboy went to the The Hole to interrupt Tree King she stayed behind to secure the area with Mann, Stardust and Bradley.

          They do what they can to look after the survivors and find about 120 living people among the devestation of the rally, the mayor is among the survivors. Mann has paramedics/police quarantine the survivors 'for their own protection' until Parks can decide how to handle this situation and gets to work with Tiffany and Bradley gathering up the splinters of Tree King into a growing bonfire in the park. Tiffany gets it into her head that the bodies of the victims need to be burned as well as the splinters to keep Tree King from coming back (Maybe she's expecting plant zombies? May steal this...), but Mann won't hear of it.

          She tells him that he's being ridiculous and sentimental. He points out that in lieu of Parks he's the authority on superhuman activity on the East Coast and that he WILL NOT deny people the chance to bury their dead. Tiffany says that she's not taking any chances and tries to blindside him, however Mann is unbelievably fast on the draw and puts a bullet in her chest before she even gets a chance to assume diamond form. She falls to one knee and spits blood, too stunned to move. Mann puts another bullet into the side of her head and Tiffany collapses into a bloody, unmoving heap.

          Mann keys his earpiece and tells Stardust that he's got a superhuman in need of medical assistance. So while the former stripper attempts to save Tiffany's life Mann goes back to business as usual and surprisingly manages to find every scrap of Tree King left in the park.


          Tracking
          Tiffany wakes up in the car with Mann just before he stops at The Hole. He casually explains that she tok an aggressive position against him and he had to put her down. He warns that she won't be getting up next time. She asks why he brought her along if he doesn't trust her and he points out that he needs muscle on this job and Stardust is busy tending survivors.

          They pull into The Hole and enter nervously, though the place seems deserted; if Fanboy or McCrow found anything they haven't shared it. They notice that the place is trashed, but more as an afterthought than anything. Johnny on the Spot and the unidentified beastman are still locked in their cells, however Mann notices to his horror that Brick is missing and his cell is torn to pieces.

          He curses profusely and explains to a smirking Tiffany that of all the superhumans he's encountered Brick is one of the most dangerous by virtue of the fact that you just can't hurt him. She flexes a diamond covered arm before returning it to normal and asks "Oh really?"

          Mann just says that he hopes for all their sake that he's wrong.

          They search the place top to bottom and find considerable damage and bodies everywhere. Men in hazard suits have been shredded by wooden claws, the rest simply suffocated from Tree King's horrific spores. Mann also notices that the Tree Clone brought in by him and Stardust has disappeared along with all of the splinters recovered from the scene.

          With a growing sense of urgency Mann and Tiffany question Johnny and while the former gangster isn't happy about cooperating with his captors he points out that Tree King came in along with a couple of clones with tools, murdered everyone and tore up the floor of Brick's cell to free the berserk rockman, haphazardly wrecked the place and then took off.

          They search outside and Mann discovers tire tracks that look like they belong to to a van. Tiffany points out that a security camera probably picked it up and they go inside to track down the footage. They scan through it and sure enough they find a delivery fan parked against the side of the building with the name 'Green's Nurseries' printed on it.

          It takes almost no time for Mann to get an address from local authorities along with a tip that the owner has been reported missing for almost a week. When they finally show up they find a fairly large enclosed area with 15 greenhouses divided into 3 lines of 5 and a quick search of the area turns up their target.

          The center greenhouse is empty, all of the plants tore up; the equipment missing; only a handful of bags of fertilizer and plant food to suggest something used to be here. Mann points out that this must be where they grew the clones. Looking at the area he points out that they must have moved on once Tree King got what he wanted; not wanting to risk prolonged exposure here.

          Mann calls up Parks and asks for a team to secure this area until they can make sure it's actually of no use to them and Parks tells him that it'll be another two hours until he touches down and asks Mann and Tiffany to keep an eye out until he arrives with the new team.

          For an hour they look the area over in case they've missed a crucial clue and then suddenly the delivery van appears again, so weighted down that it nearly drags the ground. Driving it in a poorly conceived disguise is one of the Tree Clones; heavily pruned and in clothing. As it comes to a stop Brick steps out and the sudden release of weight causes the whole van to bounce visibly and violently. If Brick notices the PCs he doesn't seem to care and goes about his business, opening up one of the untouched greenhouses and walking inside.

          Mann and Tiffany stare at each other for a moment before Mann motions towards the greenhouse and whispers that Tiffany should handle Brick while he gets the tree. She's spoiling for a fight and agrees.

          Brick is picking over the contents of the greenhouse when the eastern wall explodes in a flashy display of force and Tiffany leaps in in full diamond form, she brings both arms down in a savage power attack and...accomplishes nothing. Her blow is powerful, yes, but barely manages to scratch his powerful exterior, let alone leaving any lasting damage.

          Tiffany's eyes widen in alarm and Brick's face scrunches into a look of irritation.

          Meanwhile: Mann sneaks up on the Tree Clone, pistol drawn and raises the gun threateningly. "Homeland security! You've got one chance to make it out of this alive!"

          The Tree Clone hisses and reaches for the door, its head explodes in a shower of splinters and sap and it collapses against the side of the door quietly.

          "I told you." Mann says, narrowing his eyes and searching over the van.

          Back in the action: Brick throws a massive haymaker but fails to make contact with Tiffany who counters the blow with a pair of her own, neither of which manages to dent the monster.

          Agent Mann hears the commotion inside and calls Parks, all but demanding some form of assistance. Parks explains that he's in the air with the team and there's nothing he can do, however he'll make a call to a few policemen he thinks he can trust and promises backup within ten minutes. Mann's not happy since ten minutes might as well be ten years with this creature, but decides to do what he can to slow Brick down until help can arrive.

          When he pokes his head into the greenhouse he sees Tiffany and Brick exchanging blows like titans, Tiffany's blows rain down on Brick harmlessly while the hulking brute's massive attacks are easily dodged by the much nimbler superlady. Mann opens fire from the broken wall and his bullets are similarly ineffective against the invincible Brick.

          Brick however doesn't feel very invincible with attacks coming in from every angle and decides that he's had enough of this, he charges through the greenhouse and snatches a hydroponic growing system in both hands, tearing it out of its fixtures to carry it back to his partner in crime. Tiffany attacks Brick's legs, trying to slow him down; however there's no part of him that's a soft target. Mann has a different idea and opens fire on the hydroponic system itself, rendering it completely unusable.

          Brick stares at his shattered trophy for a moment and with a roar of irritation hurls it directly at Mann. Now he's no more accurate at range than he is up close, however I rolled a pair of 20s and to Mann's horror he's flung about 20ft back by the wreckage and left a bloody, mangled wreck himself. Brick charges out of one greenhouse and into another to steal his prize from there, however Mann buys off his stun and opens fire (at a significant penalty for firing at something he can't see and just assumes is there) and actually manages to riddle a second hydroponic system with bullets, much to Brick's growing irritation.

          Tiffany and Brick get into another melee while Agent Mann pulls himself free and as he does he notices that several bloody ribs are poking through his suit and blood is pooling around him with every step. With a half-hearted effort Mann pushes a rib back into place with a grunt, but decides that it's of secondary importance to actually catching Brick and starts shuffling forward on unsteady feet.

          Brick realizes he's not going to find what he's looking for here and bolts past Tiffany towards the van, unaware that his ride is no longer alive; however Tiffany is faster and just barely manages to beat the hulking brute to the parking lot. Brick and Tiffany eyeball each other for a moment and both lunge towards the van, Tiffany manages to hoist the vehicle over her head and send it crashing directly into Brick's unprepared face with enough force to cause a fiery explosion that consumes a good portion of the parking lot. (Just barely enough damage to cause him an injury and stun.)

          Mann is still near the greenhouses, but is within shouting range of the now smoking Brick. "Here's how this is going to go 'Brick', you're going to lay down with your hands up and wait for a security detail to get here. In exchange for your cooperation I won't kill you where you stand." (he fails the intimidate roll)

          Rage flashes through Brick's mind and I buy off his stun, giving each PC a hero point and having him stand with the flaming wreckage held above his head. He hurls it towards Tiffany, knocking her back almost 30ft; partially cracking her diamond form and stunning her temporarily. (Mann's player points out that this is absolutely terrifying from his pov.) "I've got a counter proposal." Brick says through clenched teeth. "The two of you leave and let me get what I'm here for and I don't pull out your skulls through your open mouths." (Brick it should be noted, does not fail.)

          Mann starts to limp away, firing over his shoulder and Brick breaks into a sprint towards him; charging like a raging bull. At the last second Mann uses a hero point to find a fuel tank for the greenhouse's gas generators and fires into it, letting a second explosion tear through Brick and send the rock man staggering back a couple of feet.

          With a shake of his head Brick decides that this is pointless and sprints off full speed away from the heroes. Mann knows he can't keep up so he limps towards his car while Tiffany chases Brick down, spraying crystalline shards into Brick's exposed back but not even slowing the big man down. Mann swings by to pick Tiffany up and the two of them pick up Brick's trail pretty easily, however when they pursue on foot they find that it's hard to follow an inexhaustible colossus who doesn't care about civilian casualties. Mann and Tiffany split up to cut him off, but Mann can barely stand and I point out that a stiff breeze could kill him at the moment.

          His player gets into character and kind of smiles "I know, but I can't him hurt anyone else. I don't mind dying, but I won't let him go. I've gotta hold him until Parks gets here."

          It was a great moment, but the reality was less inspiring. He fell behind due to Brick's breakneck pace and after Brick stopped running through every wall in his way Mann had an increasingly harder time tracking him and eventually passed out from his injuries. Tiffany carried him back to the greenhouse just in time to meet Parks and their new team.


          Deadly Force Authorized
          Parks has Stardust heal Mann's injuries while the new DHS team sweeps the area. 32 large men in black body armor sporting fully automatic weapons and grim faces along with a motley assortment of 10 dogs. Tiffany attempts to play with them, but they're well trained and the only one to give her the time of day is a gangly mutt referred to as Lycaon.

          Parks openly explains that the men have been trained to deal with their kind of problems and that the dogs are meant to handle what the men can't. Mann seems skeptical but Parks asks "Remember the last...batch? Well these dogs predate them. Only they obey orders."

          Mann scowls and voices his opinion that if they've got anything in common with the mutants they should just be euthanized to save everyone trouble but Parks suggests taking one of the dogs with them to see their value. Tiffany suggests taking Lycaon and the dog lowers its ears as Parks agrees. Telepathically they hear "These people? I was hoping for a higher priority assignment."

          The PCs are shocked to hear the thing talk and Tiffany is a bit offended that it doesn't want to be assigned to them after its friendly display. Parks explains that Lycaon's particular mutation gives him human intelligence and a limited form of telepathy that allows him to communicate (I nearly called him Blood but decided against it) but nothing that can be used offensively; he's primarily used for intelligence gathering since nobody gives a second look to a mutt.

          While Tiffany and Lycaon get better acquainted, Parks pulls Mann to the side and tells him that after Tree King outed him in front of half the world (the video went viral as only a video of a tree monster murdering an entire crowd of people can) his career may very well be over. Mann doesn't want to hear it but Parks waves him off and says that if the DHS decides to pull him from the superhumans that Mann himself will be the one to take his place, he warns Mann that if that happens he'll need to utilize the 'assets' at their disposal instead of just tossing them aside. Man lets it be known that as much as he respects Parks he'll still execute every mutant in the city the second it's within his authority to do so. Mann reiterates that he'd rather Parks keep the position than to be forced behind a desk himself.

          Parks suggests that they need to show the DHS that they're making progress in Ventnor if he's going to keep his job and directs Mann and Tiffany to the operation of a Sergei Reschkov, one of Chavenski's lieutenants and one of many to clamor for the injured Russian's position after his encounter with Depaliamo's .44 Magnum. Parks tells Mann that he's authorizing an official raid, but wants Mann to use superhuman assistance to prove their value overall.

          Mann and Tiffany requisition an armored car and megaphone and drive to the docks, where Reschkov is in the process of selling captured Italian women overseas. Tiffany and Lycaon sneak to the back of the warehouse while Mann parks the armored car out front and loudly calls for their unconditional surrender.

          The Russian gangsters start gravitating towards the front of the warehouse as Man details the nature of their crimes for the world to hear and promises that acts of foreign aggression against US citizens will be met with deadly force. He points out that he was trained by the U.S. government, authorized by Homeland Security and granted the chance by God to put a warehouse full of Russian sex-slavers six feet in the ground and that he's not about to disappoint ANY of those people. (Basically milking his intimidate skill for all its worth and channeling it through his blind patriotism.)

          While everyone's distracted (rightly so) Lycaon (under the control of Tiffany's player) begins sneaking girls out through the back by acting like his telepathic voice is coming from his collar and Tiffany herself sneaks up to the backs of the guards. Mann and the Russians are exchanging fire when suddenly the warehouse becomes Hell on earth.

          Tiffany turns into a swirling dervish, turning grown men into screaming piles of flesh and cackling as the hail of gunfire simply bounces off her nearly impenetrable skin. I won't go into the gory details but it started out with nearly 30 men in the warehouse, she murders them as fast as she can lay hands on them; pulling out spines, severing limbs and generally reveling in the bloodshed. The gunshots give way to panicked screams as the terrified Russians try to flee, only to first have their escape cut off; followed by their heads.

          Mann barges in to see what the commotion is and can barely make Tiffany out for the gore that covers her head to toe. He shoots one of the fleeing Russians in the knee to take at least one prisoner out of this mess and has throw himself in front of Tiffany to keep her from torturing the man to death.

          He draws his heavy .45 and warns her to step away, but after the hail of bullets that failed to harm her she simply starts laughing, a lilting and frightening sound and starts to lunge forward. Mann manages to act first and fires directly into her face point blank with everything he's got, barely managing to make a scratch but succeeding in stunning her for a moment. A moment that he uses to snatch the injured Russian and drag him to the waiting car.

          She tries to give chase but Mann just barely manages to peel out and down the street before she can claim her prize. Mann calls Parks to tell him that the girls are safe and that Tiffany is a monster, he suggests a minimum sentence of life in The Hole but would prefer to see the woman executed for her constant disregard for human life.

          When Parks and Mann shows up later with a handful of men and two dogs they just stare at the grisly sight that meets them.

          Tiffany has built a bonfire taller than she is filled with the burning bodies of the slain Russians and all of the girls who had died during the fighting. She's in her human form but still covered in the innards of the men she's killed and smiling. Ear to ear, she's smiling.


          Epilogue, Old Friends
          Parks and Mann sit across from each other in Parks new office in the third Hole. They sit in tense silence for several long moments and Parks finally says "Mann...times are getting desperate. You know the same as I do that desperate times, call for desperate measures..."

          Mann raises an eyebrow "Just how desperate sir?"

          "I think we need Michael Stockton." Parks says with a sigh of defeat.

          "No. Sir, no! If you've ever respected my opinion then take it now, we DO NOT need Stockton. He's a monster.A f***ing devil in a mansuit. The LAST THING we need is Michael Stockton." Mann nearly shouts at his superior.

          "I know...I know he is Mann. But look at what we're left with at the moment. You know him better than anyone, is he really worse than this?" Parks asks.

          Mann thinks for a moment. He thinks of the sound of Tiffany's laugh as she's covered in the gore of her victims and faces him down. He thinks of the bloated faces of Tree King's victim trapped in The Hole. He pictures all of the waterlogged and mangled bodies they've recovered from their supposed 'heroes'. He thinks of Brick hurling the flaming remains of a truck that failed to do more than knock him down and shudders.

          "Much worse sir. Much worse."





          We flash back to five years ago in the mountains of Afghanistan. A younger, less battle hardened Mann and a fellow Army Ranger by the name of Michael Stockton are slinking through the mountains breathlessly. They're the last survivors of their unit , the rest having been picked off seemingly an eternity ago. They're wounded, underequipped and a long way from home when Mann suddenly spots about a dozen enemy combatants hovering around a covered troop transport.

          The weary soldiers decide that this might just be their way home and split up to attack the distracted Taliban from both sides.

          As Mann is making his way down the mountain however, he loses his footing and takes a tumble along with the rocks underfoot. He luckily lands behind a large rock, so the dozen assault rifles that bark in his direction mercifully miss him. Michael uses this opportunity to snatch one of the enemy soldiers by the throat and snaps his neck silently. Mann returns fire and manages to take out another of the soldiers.

          Michael opens fire into the backs of the distracted soldiers and kills several himself, however misses the soldier lounging behind the truck who takes this opportunity to pop out and shoot him with what sounds like a Dari curse. Michael collapses onto the ground in a pool of his rapidly pooling blood.

          Mann sees his friend go down and leaps his cover, opening fire with a full-auto burst and then using a hero point to use a second full-auto burst to mow down Taliban in his way. He charges across the distance between him and Michael rapidly, causing the man who shot Stockton to open fire on Mann instead of finishing off the wounded Ranger.

          Mann fires again and takes down Stockton's assailant, before using extra effort to blow through the remaining forces. Meanwhile, Michael discovers to his growing horror that his legs don't work. He can't move, he can't even twitch them and as Mann helps him up and drags him to the transport, Michael unloads his rifle into the corpse of the man who did this to him screaming about how the son of a bitch turned him into a cripple.




          Present day. McCrow and Fanboy are standing in The Hole, gawking at the state they've found it in. Fanboy's the first to point out that it's too late for them to do anything, they need to return to the park and start mind raping the survivors if they want to keep this quiet.

          By the time they get back to the park Agent Mann has already disappeared along with Tiffany, there's a massive bonfire already in progress and Bradley runs up excitedly. "You won't believe it. That Mann guy shot Tiffany in the head and loaded her into his car." the teen says. "Then he loaded all the survivors into quarantine and took off."

          McCrow and Fanboy exchange glances because this seems like something that can escalate quickly, but Fanboy is glad to hear that everyone is still in one place. It doesn't take Fanboy long to trick his way into quarantine and begin wiping memories; however to his dismay only about half of them are affected.

          They discuss what to do and McCrow asks if they have room for 60 people but Fanboy decides to try and discredit them instead. They decide to introduce themselves to the Mayor, but he had a front row seat to the whole thing and recognizes them immediately.

          He starts to voice his appreciation for saving his life when Roger blindsides him, pins him against the wall and growls. "You've seen what we can do firsthand, so when we speak you listen." he threatens and the Mayor agrees frantically. "This is bigger than you and your city, bigger than your constituents. Forget re-election, if you want to SURVIVE what you've seen you're going to do what we say."

          Fanboy steps in and mentions that they're still the good guys in this, that McCrow is overzealous but they're definitely not threatening anybody. They've just seen what happens to whistle blowers and need to stress the importance of discretion.

          Roger likes the way that sounds and acts like it's what he meant.

          Fanboy stresses that things are changing and that if the Mayor works with them he'll make sure the world will remember him as having a hand in it. The Mayor asks what they want from him and Fanboy has two demands:

          The first is that the Mayor is to hold a press conference and stress the lives saved by this group of mystery men instead of the massive death toll, as well as to denounce the evil Parks and Recreation department that gave birth to this horrible tree monster. (It took me a minute to process, but thought it was a hilarious gambit so I let them run with it.)

          The second is that if it comes down to it; he'll personally host their televised 'coming out party.

          The mayor agrees and Roger releases him with a smile. They tell the Mayor that they'll be in touch and remind him to make them look good and to downplay the 'not human' and 'government conspiracy' angle.

          As they're leaving their 'meeting' with the Mayor they're stopped by Bradley with a handheld radio. He explains that although it's only been a couple of hours since the attack, the stuff has went viral thanks in no small part to the presence of a tree monster denouncing the American government and then fifteen minutes worth of action packed audio where a group unidentified strangers stepped out of the crowd to save the day.

          Fanboy excitedly asks if they've got a fan page yet and Bradley turns up the radio. "Not quite, but there's lots of people that are calling in about you."

          They listen with a mixture of pride and terror as they listen to a police officer who says he was possessed by something and forced to run over a teenager (Bradley laughs at this one, remembering it fondly) and lost his job after his partner testified against him. They listen as an anonymous nurse says that several of her friends were murdered by the tree monster but two supposedly comatose strangers leapt to her rescue at the last second and if that wasn't enough, they brought down another superhuman rampage only a week later. Another girl calls in claiming that a young man carried her away from the creature calling itself Tree King while a creature made of water did battle with it.

          Fanboy finally turns the radio off and points out that it probably would have been a good idea for them to have invested in a mask at one point. Bradley/Duplex resists the urge to gloat.


          The PCs call Parks up just in case he somehow doesn't know what's going on and he cuts them off by saying he knows what's going on. Or at least he hopes that's all there is to it, he really doesn't need more on his plate. They ask what the worse he's heard so far is and he points out that that'd probably be the part where he was CALLED OUT BY NAME as the reason behind a tree just killing 300 people and burning down half the city.

          Fanboys says that that's what he thought his least favorite part would be...

          Parks sounds like he's had the fight beat out of him and he tells Fanboy that his career is over. His decision not to immediately ship off everyone affected by the bus was already controversial one; but with it spiraling out of control like this he'll be lucky if he escapes jail time.

          Fanboy tries to ease his mind by saying that they're attempting to put the blame on Parks and Recreation since it's easy to see why a tree man would have something to do with them and Parks is dumbstruck, but thankful. He says that it might not make much difference, but McCrow and Fanboy need to get a lawyer; if Agent Mann is promoted they'll all be targets.

          Once they hang up Roger calls up Chavenski and makes some idle banter about how the Russian crime lord is doing. Chavenski is on his last legs, but being the eternal hardass he doesn't complain. Roger eventually gets around to asking if Chavenski knows any lawyers and the Russian excuses himself to look through his address book, returning in a moment with a name: Brian Weisner, a constitutional law specialist. They thank the Russian and ask if there's anything they can do in return; Chavenski says that he's heard the talk around the warehouse about Luvless and he wants to meet the guy because he believes it may be his only chance to be whole again. They say that they'll do what they can and go to meet their lawyer.

          Weisner's firm is one of the most prestigious in the city but when hears that Chavenski sent the PCs he throws a client out to avoid angering the city's most powerful and brutal crime boss. Weisner is a short, pudgy man in a $8,000 suit and immediately sets about trying to earn his fee. He asks the PCs why they're looking for protection from the government and they want to make sure anything that they say is confidential.

          Weisner laughs and says that he's worked with Chavenski before and has seen the bodies buried, he's not interested in being one of them. Roger's a little disappointed that he doesn't get to play Bad Cop (to Fanboy's confused bystander) and decides to showcase his powers to expedite things. He blows up a water glass to Weisner's surprise. Fanboy's eyes glow and he lifts himself and the pudgy lawyer off the ground with his telekinesis, but stops when the guy nearly has a panic attack.

          They explain everything that's happened since the bus and that their contact at the DHS believes they may be about to be imprisoned. Weisner listens intently but finally says that there's not much he can do considering they're literally walking WMDs and that they definitely fall under the perimeters of indefinite detention as outlined in the Defense Authorization Act.

          They're disappointed but he tells them that there are two ways he can see this going down in their favor: Strengthen their ties to the DHS and make themselves invaluable or become too public to take down without massive public backlash.

          Roger and Fanboy whisper that there's a third option, continue gathering up superhumans until they're just too powerful for the DHS to take down. However in the meantime both PCs want to take opposite paths.

          McCrow doesn't want to be held accountable for his actions by adopting a public persona, but Fanboy wants fame more than anything. They agree to explore all of their options for now, but Fanboy wants to take it a step further and asks Brian if he can get them in touch with a Public Relations guru to help soften their image. Weisner's never had much need for a PR guy, but tells them he'll ask around and see what he can dig up.

          Before they go they're told that they need some way to explain their growing fortune and they suggest setting up a shipping business to hide their activities on the docks and launder their stolen money. They give him a little more than a hundred thousand dollars to fill out the right paperwork and set something concrete up.

          Leaving the law office they decide that they definitely need to do something to improve their image, so they sit down to come up with somebody they know with the public's ear and that's when Roger snaps his fingers. "That reporter lady that we saved!"

          Fanboy perks up too but isn't sure if he can undo the memory wipe. Regardless, they decide that she's their best chance and head to the paper where she works to see if they can trust her.

          They find Elizabeth Ingles in a cubical typing up what's left of her story on organized crime and just as she asks what the hell they want, Fanboy grabs her head and manages to unlock the memories he buried. They're fuzzy and distant like they've been there the entire time, but the act of rewriting her brain leaves Elizabeth dazed and they use this opportunity to drag her into an empty room.

          "I..I remember you guys. You saved me at Floyd's." she half murmurs, coming out of her fog.

          "That's us." McCrow says with a smug grin, "And now we've come to give you the story of a lifetime."

          Elizabeth shakes her head "There's no point. Depaliamo is dead so the story's dead and since I'm not interested in being found in a ditch without any hands, I'm not pursuing the Russian angle."

          Fanboy shakes his head "No, bigger than that. Way bigger. WE were the heroes at the rally and we're in the center of a massive government conspiracy."

          Ingles is more than a little shocked and Fanboy asks if it never occurred to her to wonder how they took out an armed gang by themselves. She only remembers a nearly naked McCrow storming in with a bloody bat and demanding to know who she worked for.

          Fanboy smiles and lifts up a table and several chairs and has them dance around the room before setting them back down gracefully. She gawks in amazement and then looks at Roger. "What can you do?"

          Roger shakes his head "My power is messy trust me. If you want to keep the plumbing in your building you'll just have to take my word for it."

          Me and Fanboy's player burst out laughing at this and it takes Roger's player a minute to realize how that sounds and then he decides that McCrow doesn't care, he's not some dancing monkey to use his powers on cue.

          She settles down to hear their story and Fanboy laughs, saying that first he has some terms. She says that she'll have to hear them first and Roger explodes that it doesn't matter what their terms are, this isn't a negotiation. If she opens her mouth without their consent she'll be lucky if the men in dark suits are the first to get her and if she doesn't want the story there's fifty other people in THIS building alone that'd be willing to get on their knees and beg for it. She's shocked into silence and agrees to their terms unconditionally, not wanting her big break to get away.

          Fanboy tells her to get in touch with the Mayor and tell him that she's a mutual friend, he orders Ingles spin their story until people forget that people even died today (let alone three times as many as were actively saved) and to stress that the mystery heroes are the only reason the city's still standing. He points out that she'll be the only person allowed an exclusive so her story will have more weight than anything else out there. He tells her that once she does this they'll be in touch with the rest of the details, but that if she betrays them in the mean time she won't see them coming.




          Flashback to 3 years ago. Agent Mann has only been working for the Department of Homeland Security for six months but he's already considered a rising star and been assigned under Senior Agent Parks. He's been called into his superior's office and wastes no time showing up.

          To Mann's surprise and shock Michael Stockton is standing with Parks and smiles broadly when he sees his old friend.

          "You...can walk? I thought you..." Mann starts, and just shakes his head; shaking Stockton's hand and just deciding to be happy to see an old friend walk again.

          "They fixed me up." Stockton explains "Some experimental procedure meant to get me back to kicking ass and taking names. Look, they even gave me a name taking book." he says with a laugh.

          The two men chat for a moment before remembering why they're here and Parks explains that due to their previous relationship it makes sense to partner them up. Parks tells Mann to show the newly hired Michael the ropes and gives them a dossier on missing fugitive Behnam Sajadi, usually known by his alias Ben Snow, a notorious conman who's suspected of selling state secrets.

          Behnam's father is an Imam at a New York Mosque and Mann thinks it would be prudent to ask if Imam Sajadi has seen or heard from his son, so they set out; still reminiscing.

          Once they arrive at their destination they discover that there's a small service in progress and Mann suggests sitting in the back until things wrap up. Michael however shouts that they need to sit down, shut up and answer some questions. Mann stares at him with a pained expression like he'd just been struck, he can't believe how unprofessional Stockton is.

          The older man leading the service looks similarly shocked and asks what this is about. Stockton says that they're there for his peace of s*** kid and he needs to turn him over. Now.

          The old Imam accuses Stockton of blasphemy and nearly stumbles over himself in his rush to meet Michael and Mann in the aisle and demand the two leave. Michael flashes his badge and says that they're not leaving until they get what they're after; the old man starts to physically push Michael and the former Ranger responds by wrenching his wrist and nearly dislocating the man's arm. The old man shouts in surprise and repeats the Dari curse that Michael's assailant so many years ago uttered, Stockton nearly goes limp and his eyes seem to lose focus.

          Everybody stares in shock and horror for a moment before a look of absolute rage flashes through Michael's face and he flips the old man savagely, the sickening crunch accompanying the blow telling Mann without having to look that the Imam is dead. "Michael...what the hell did you do?" Mann shouts.

          Two men rush to the aid of their spiritual leader and Michael responds by punching one in the throat, removing a boot knife and sticking the second one in the chest. Mann grabs Michael's arm and attempts to wrench the knife from his grasp, but Michael has the same training as Mann and switches hands nimbly, and elbows Mann in the face; knocking him down and stunning him.

          Stockton leaps amid the terrified congregation and easily puts down the men who try to wrestle him to the ground so that their families might escape. Mann stumbles to his feet shouting for Stockton to stand down and puts a bullet into the head of his longtime friend to stop his unprovoked rampage. Mann stands over the corpse of his friend and the remaining congregation seems to calm down, until the bullet pushes itself out of Michael's skull to Mann's dismay and Stockton lashes out with a powerful kick that breaks Mann's leg.

          Mann goes to his knee screaming and Michael hurls his knife into the back of a fleeing girl, no more than twelve before delivering another kick to his former friend's chest that sends Mann backwards, blocking off the door.

          While Mann is stunned he watches in horror as Michael draws his sidearm and begins firing into the crowd. As the screams become quieter and quieter Michael's rage seems to dissipate and he seems genuinely confused, he glances around like he doesn't know where he's at. He turns around and starts to ask what happened to Mann when a bullet tears through his skull and lays him out flat.

          With only a handful of survivors sobbing and huddled over the bodies of their slain, Mann barely stands over the body of his twice dead partner and watches as the wound begins closing once again. Filled with disgust and rage he raises his pistol and opens fire into the corpse of his former friend again. And again, and again.



          Present day. McCrow and Fanboy find themselves in the office of Marcus Finch, supposedly the best PR guy in the business. He's a tall redhaired man in an expensive navy blue suit and a reptilian grin. Weisner got the guy's name through a friend of a friend.

          Marcus asks the pair what they need his help with and Fanboy responds by raising himself into the air telekinetically.

          "Nice trick, but I preferred when David Blaine did it. Seemed more spontaneous." Finch says, lighting up a cigar.

          Fanboy sighs and lifts Marcus off the ground as well, eliciting raised eyebrow as the PR guy takes a deep drag off his cigar and nods. "Now this I like. We can market this."

          Fanboy drops Finch and decides to just explain their situation, he listens and nods and seems to take it in stride. Roger points out that Finch really doesn't seem to be very shocked by their existence and Finch respond's with something absolutely horrible that I can't post to the forums because I'm pretty sure it violates like all the rules, it was basically: "Once you *implicates himself in about eight different felonies in a single 2 second act* you sort of change the bar for weird." (If you want to know the exact wording PM me, but I stress that it was horrible and meant to be horrible. So let your imagination run wild.)

          Both of the PCs are absolutely shocked, Fanboy wants to leave but Roger thinks he's found his hero. He whispers to Fanboy "Look at it this way, instead of being in prison this guy is like the most respected member of his field; that alone says he knows what he's doing." Fanboy concedes and they hear him out.

          Finch asks what they want out of this relationship and McCrow says that he wants the public to love him; Fanboy says that he wants action figures and endorsement deals. Finch says that he can do that. The 'heroes' pay him $160,000 for an all-out PR campaign and he starts writing out notes.

          "Way I see it, if you want the public to accept you as heroes you need to get people that they already look up to to speak on your behalf. Do you have a police scanner? Good. Keep an ear out and start responding to as many penny ante crimes as you can, make sure you're visible! For some reason people really dig those fire and rescue guys so get on their good side and you're golden." Finch says helpfully.

          Fanboy points out that the NDA frowns on that sort of things and Finch explains that they're building a brand, not a face. Just make sure that he wears something easily recognizable and fashionable. Fanboy's already in the middle of putting together such an outfit, so he's ahead of the game.

          Finch tells them to make some public appearances and then get back to him after he's had some time to work on something. They agree and mention that they've already got the Mayor and an local reporter working on building their image; Finch congratulates them on taking initiative and says that he'll help co-ordinate their efforts from here on out.


          Fanboy and Roger return to the warehouse and decide to start planning for their 'coming out party'. They figure they're going to need an overwhelming force to convince the city they're the heroes they envision themselves as (I pointed out that a sentient tree monster attacking a visible politician and his supporters with an army of other tree monsters would have made a great opportunity, and they told me to shut up.) and there's only one man they know with access to that kind of disposable force. Depaliamo.

          Roger raises Depaliamo's prison from the bottom of the ocean and Fanboy prepares to take over Depaliamo's body himself, however when they open the container the once plump and defiant crime lord is an emaciated shell of his former self. His eyes can't adapt to what little light is in the holding cells after the sun has set and he blinks painfully.

          Depaliamo breaks down and cries, he apologizes for everything he's done and claims that it was just business. He offers the PCs all of his money, all of his men, even Johnny on the Spot if they'll just let him go. Fanboy laughs and says that he's been out of commission for a while, they've already got his money and Johnny needs a new nickname; unless The Spot is a wheelchair, Johnny isn't on it anymore.

          Depaliamo breaks down even more and offers do to anything if they'll just turn him over to the authorities. He doesn't want to go free, he doesn't care about power, he just wants to see the sun again.

          Now I must have done a pretty good job of begging as Depaliamo because Roger's player looks absolutely miserable. He's like 'That's the saddest thing I've ever heard. We broke Depaliamo...'

          McCrow decides that they'll move Depaliamo upstairs in exchange for a few concessions. Depaliamo will start off in one of the regular cells until he proves his worth; he must turn over all of his contacts and help with actually running their new business. Depaliamo agrees wholeheartedly, going from the most powerful man in the city to nothing more than an indentured accountant.

          Fanboy points out that if they put Depaliamo in the normal then Richard won't have anyplace safe to train, so they decide to outfit Richard's room with heavy duty insulation and targets to practice with. They both think that sounds like a plan, so they move Depaliamo and even give him a T.V.

          They explain the situation to Prophet now that they've got a chance to catch their breaths and discover that their resident information broker is suddenly agoraphobic. His close call at the courthouse is over and his powers function again, however he still refuses to leave his room and his usual paranoia has increased tenfold. Fanboy agrees that protecting Prophet from any future harm is of the utmost importanct and Roger adds a saferoom to his list of DIY projects.

          In the meantime Prophet shows the PCs what he's managed to pull up on Warren Davis, their number one suspect in the killings. The result is a four inch thick file of a 20 year veteran assigned to an airforce recovery team with every other word redacted for security purposes. If this is their guy, then he's more dangerous than they thought.

          McCrow decides that he's heard enough and decides to get a jump on his shopping if he's going to start upgrading the warehouse and leaves Fanboy to look after the place.

          It's about an hour after McCrow leaves that Agent Parks shows up, accompanied by two large men in black combat armor; armed to the teeth and a german shepherd. Fanboy instinctively gets nervous and asks "Am I going to The Hole? I'm going to The Hole aren't I?", but Parks shakes his hand and motions for the men to stay put.

          Agent Parks pulls Fanboy away from the eyes of his men and explains that Washington has came through, they realize that the problem here is more than a handful of agents are able to handle and they've sent men experienced with solving such problems, the specially trained Superhuman Containment And Recovery team. He asks if the PCs took his advice and Fanboy mentions that they've been talking to a lawyer. Parks nods and draws out what looks like a large pencil box from his suit jacket, opening it reveals two sleek grenades.

          "These things are still just experimental, they're rumored to be enough to short out a block. We don't know if they'll work on Luvless's tech, but they're the best we have to offer you." Parks says, closing the case and handing it to Fanboy. He then stresses that Luvless isn't some street punk to be handled like they handled John Hurt (Baritone), that his mind will change the world if applied properly and secure America's place as THE world superpower for centuries to come. Fanboy attempts to deny their involvement with Hurt but sees that Parks isn't buying it and says that he understands. Parks mentions that if he can turn over a superhuman of Luvless's caliber then his position will be secure once again.

          Fanboy suddenly realizes that this is his chance to fulfill a lifelong dream. "I'll deliver you Luvless, but I want something in return. I want him to build me something. I want a lightsaber!" the ubernerd demands excitedly. Parks agrees that he'll see to it himself and instructs Fanboy that if anyone finds those grenades; he doesn't know where he got them.

          Parks excuses himself and leaves with his entourage without any further fanfare.




          The next few days are spent improving the warehouse, at some point Roger took Sandy aside and broke the news of her husband's death; though left out the part where he covered it up. Instead he says that he found out through his 'sources' and points out that her husband died because the killer was looking for her; that if he hadn't kidnapped her and the kids they'd all be dead. She breaks into tears and he goes back to insulating Richard's room.

          Fanboy finds out from Bradley that he's been taking night courses to try and make himself more useful to the team and when he stops in to replace the clones they discover that he can create nearly twice as many as before. Like everyone else, his powers are growing with use.

          During all this they receive a visit from Elizabeth Ingles asking for a Mr. McCrow. They freak out because they never gave her this address but meet with her anyway, she's obvious surprised and asks "You two are private investigators?"

          They're confused and she points out that she'd been doing some independent research concerning the serial killer and found out there were supposedly some P.I.s doing the same. She wanted to compare notes because she thought she'd made a break in the case concerning a connection to the bus hijacking, but they laugh her off and say that they've already got that much. She's disappointed, but mid-conversation they're buzzed by Prophet on the intercom and told that there's a hostage situation in progress in the lobby of a local insurance company. It's not superhuman related, but it's crawling with cops.

          The PCs grab Ingles in their mad dash to the car and drag her along for the ride.

          They find a police line keeping out a sizable crowd, Fanboy is in his new combat armor and a domino mask; Roger is wearing a hat. They park around the block and stroll up to the line, proclaiming that they're here to save the day. Naturally the police tell them that they're lunatics and they can't go in, but Fanboy takes a deep breath and purposefully violates the non-disclosure agreement for the first time. He hovers amidst a swirl of telekinetic energy and shocks the crowd to silence as he declares that none shall stand in the way of justice. Meanwhile, Roger rides a blast of water from a newly loosened fire hydrant over the crowd and lands in the doorway, adjusting his coat.

          Fanboy tears the doors off and they stroll in, two visibly shaken men are holding guns on eight terrified employees of the insurance company. One of the criminals points his guns at the heroes and says that either they sit down with their hands up or EVERYONE DIES! Roger responds by sprinting across the room and breaking the man's jaw with a haymaker, as the man starts to collapse he's grabbed by the collar by McCrow who throws him into front window with enough force to crack the glass, but not quite enough to shatter it. The second criminal is pulled twenty feet through the air towards Fanboy who easily tugs the gun from his hand and tosses him out the door and sends the guy rolling across the parking lot unconscious.

          McCrow and Fanboy stroll out as casually as they went in, though McCrow has a bloodied criminal thrown over his shoulder who he drops as soon as he reaches the police line.

          "What the hell are you doing!?" one of the cops ask, looking at the battered criminal.

          Roger holds out his hands so that the water flows to him and both he and Fanboy rocket away into the sky. "Your job." he shouts over his shoulder as he disappears.

          In reality however, once they get out of sight they make their way back to their car and text Ingles to get her ass back in. They sit in silence, twiddling their thumbs while they wait for their contact to walk the three blocks.

          They stop by Finch's office once the adrenaline fades and introduce Elizabeth to their PR guy, who's an absolute gentleman in front of company. He shows them sketches for a viral ad campaign he's about to introduce that hints that they've been watching over the city for years and arranges a photo shoot to get suitable 'grainy' pictures to peak the public's interest.

          They hash out some specifics when Finch notices the time and says that it's nearly six and they have an appointment to keep. Fanboy asks what he means and Finch mentions that they need to get to Fifth Street if they want to make the 10'oclock news. Fanboy asks what he means by that and he just grins. Fanboy probes Finch's mind and discovers that he's paid a homeless man $500 to jump off a building and a contact at the local news to make sure it gets major coverage.

          Fanboy is once again flabbergasted at this horrible bastard, but grabs McCrow to 'save the day' regardless. By the time they get to Fifth Street there's quite a crowd and two different news stations in the street below and a strangely well dressed homeless man screaming about his wife stealing his children and having nothing to live for. Fanboy lifts himself into the air to the astonishment of the crowd and as he gets close the jumper says in a much quieter tone "I guess you're the guy?"


          Fanboy sighs and nods and the guy screams "That's it, it's all over!" and leaps headfirst off the building. Fanboy barely manages to make the catch and lowers himself and his shill to the ground. He's mobbed by the reporters who clamor to ask who is is and he says "I'm the Fanboy. A fanboy for Lucas, a fanboy for Toryama..." then he looks directly into the camera with a practiced smile "A fanboy for justice." and then lifts off and into the night in a flash display of telekinetic force as McCrow just laughs and saunters back through the crowd.




          Parks is obviously not pleased. He calls Fanboy the second it airs on the news and it sounds like he may be having a coronary. Fanboy's quick to explain that he's just trying to calm the public's fears about Tree King and that really...this is his lawyer's fault. But Parks is livid and keeps asking what part of the NDA said that it was their job to deal with the public?

          The PCs are eager to calm their only friend in the DHS and ask if there's anyway to make amends. Parks says that there's no escaping the fact that they've violated the agreement, but that several higher-ups are in town to run a few tests on the superhumans in custody; if they willingly submit to a series of tests it'll show the DHS that they want to cooperate. They agree and Parks sends a few guys to pick them up. (McCrow nearly refuses to go on the grounds that nobody's putting a finger inside him.) On the way there they have to be blindfolded for security, so Fanboy spends the ride probing the minds of the guards with telepathy; what he finds is disturbing.

          They have memories of a man made of living flame, burning hot enough to simply walk through walls; leaving destruction in his wake. They hosed the guy down with liquid nitrogen until the flame was extinguished and then beat him to death with clubs. Fanboy suddenly realizes what Parks meant by problem solvers.

          They drive for what seems like hours and when the blindfolds come off they discover that they're at The Hole, however it's different from before. The walls are white and sterile and the cells containing Johnny and the Beastman are built into the walls and stacked three high. Those black armored men are everywhere and Fanboy glances through another's eyes.

          He sees a teenage girl with tears in her eyes running for her life, the girl lays a hand on a computer and seems to digitize, entering the device completely. The man who's eyes he's looking for spins on his heels and bolts to the end of a hallway, bursting through the window and rapidly descending to the ground. He makes it just in time to watch the girl step out of the electronic lock which guards the grounds and look up at him with terrified eyes for a split second before the .45 slug tears through her brain. The only thought going through the man's head during the moment of the kill is that he can't believe he's going to have to stay late and clean this up.

          A pair of men wait for them as peer nervously around, one of them is a younger man in a lab coat; the other is a man in his mid 60's with the posture of a military man but no noticeable insignia.

          The man in the lab coat almost gushes as he introduces himself as Dr. Summers and thanks them for taking the time to help out with this study. He admits that before today he's never met one of them and thought that their existence was still only in the hypothetical phase. Fanboy does a quick scan of his mind once he moves on to shake McCrow's hand and finds out that Summers is telling the truth; obviously they wouldn't risk that sort of information with a telepath around. He does however pull a trio of names from Dr. Summer's head. Drs Heiner, Marcell and Gupta are the scientists in charge of his department.

          The military man doesn't introduce himself, he simply watches and Fanboy manages to get a glimpse of his mind as well: General Wilson, Warren Davis's former C.O. His will is strong however and Fanboy can't find anymore than that.

          The tests themselves are fairly lackluster and mostly involve an intense physical examination which Fanboy nearly fails much to McCrow's enjoyment, followed by an in depth questionnaire concerning their family history as they try to find out WHY they survived exposure where so many other people fail. Dr Summers is pretty frank that only about 30% of people exposed to the gas survive, the rest die from severe mutations.

          As they're wrapping up and heading towards a specially designed testing chamber Fanboy manages to read several more minds and he keeps finding the image of a fellow soldier who volunteered for the project but turned out to be unstable; so they executed him. And then did it again, and again. Hanging, bullet, lethal injection, electrocution, drowning and dozens of other execution attempts; when Fanboy pulls away it's not because he's reached the end, but because McCrow nudges him.

          They hook up a handful of diodes to their bodies and ask that they give a demonstration of their powers. Fanboy levitates a few things, showcases his force field and speaks telepathically and Summers seems absolutely entranced by the display and the results he collects from Fanboy's brain activity.

          Dr Summers asks Roger for a demonstration and McCrow tells him that he doesn't dance on command. They ask why he'd bother coming if he wasn't going to give a demonstration and he says it's because he wanted to see somebody stick their finger in Fanboy.

          They grow irritated and McCrow finally agrees. He holds his hands up for a moment while he searches for water and calls it to himself. It takes several moments but finally the ceiling above the room bursts and water floods everything, soaking the inhabitants.

          Dr Summers stares open mouthed at Roger as his clipboard floats away and rubs his temples. "Leave. Please. Just...leave."





          Present Day. Michael Stockton is sitting in a particularly unsavory dive bar in the middle of Arizona, he's about twelve beers deep and it isn't even two o'clock yet. As he's sitting there four local sheriffs step in with shotguns drawn, accompanied by a man in a conservative suit and slightly receding hairline.

          The sheriffs quickly evacuate the bar of it's few patrons and one particularly surly bartender and then ask Agent Mann if this is the guy he's after. Mann nods and tells them to go outside and lock the door. They tell him that they were told to bring this guy in dead or alive and Mann loosens his tie as he tells them that that's exactly what he's going to do, they'll just be in the way.

          The sheriffs glance at each other but do as they're told and exit the premises.

          "F*** you Mann, can't you see I'm drinking?" Michael says with a snort.

          "Your country needs you Stockton, answer the call." Mann demands, approaching the bar.

          "I'm not one of Parks toy soldiers, I'm not that person anymore. Go back and tell him that." Michael retorts dangerously.

          "I know you're not a soldier Michael. You're an animal, and like an animal you're going to do your trick or get put down." Mann says, lashing out and grabbing the back of Stockton's collar. Stockton whirls around, breaking the grapple and tries to bring his beer bottle onto his attacker's head. Mann barely avoids the attack and delivers a powerful blow to Stockton's midsection, causing him to suck air.

          Agent Mann kicks Stockton in the stomach, knocking him back and breaking rib; however it heals before his very eyes just as Stockton flies forward with a knee and returns the favor. In a flash Mann has a knife in his hand and slices Stockton's face; blinding his target for a moment, but getting a blow to his jaw that jars his teeth and stuns him for his trouble.

          Stockton grabs Mann's knife hand and attempts to wrench the weapon free, Mann uses Stockton's own momentum to plant it deep in Michael's chest. Michael screams in rage and Mann watches the reason drain out of his former friend's face as something else takes over once again.

          The two men exchange blows and discover that they're evenly matched, however Mann's injuries continue to accumulate while Michael's are wiped clean each round. Michael flips Mann and tosses the agent several feet away into a groaning pile, but as Michael rushes in to finish him off he sees a gun in Mann's hand which barks twice and forces him to stagger back.

          Mann climbs to his feet and charges forward kicking Michael in the chest and thrusting him against the wooden bar. Stockton hurls a nearby bottle at Mann who dodges and fires twice more, using up the last of his hero points in the process.

          Michael looks like a horror movie victim, but despite his severe injures it takes only seconds for mortal wounds to disappear completely. Mann continues opening fire, but his former partner absorbs the bullets easily and only seems encouraged by them. Michael grabs Mann and attempts to disarm the gun, however it proves difficult and he settles for pinning Mann to the ground and raining down blows.

          Mann can't manage to get up and Michael looks like he may beat him to death as his own wounds are completely healed, however at the last moment Mann manages to free his gun arm and put a bullet in Michael's head. Michael stumbles back and Mann fires again, knocking him down. Michael attempts to stand up and gets another bullet, and then Mann uses extra effort to put another one in him. Michael's stunned so Mann takes another turn and another bout of extra effort to put two more bullets into Michael and watches the life drain out of his eyes.

          No time to savor the victory, Mann flips Michael over and places handcuffs on his bullet riddled corpse before taking a seat at the bar and catching his breath. In only a matter of seconds Stockton's eyes flare open and he starts cursing and struggling at his restraints. Mann drags the newly resurrected berserker to his feet, wincing at his own injuries as he does so.

          Mann pants as he leads his prisoner out to the shocked gaze of the sheriffs who've heard the whole thing and didn't expect ANY survivors. "I like this less than you do Stockton, but you've been re-accepted into the DHS."







          We pick up exactly where we left off with McCrow and Fanboy being escorted out of the new Hole by armed personnel. Fanboy and the majority of their escort are covered in the sewage that Roger thought would be funny to flood the room with, naturally McCrow himself is untouched.

          They're joined in the hall by Tiffany who had been in the middle of tests of her own when the order came down that the facility had been compromised and all 'guests' were to be expelled. McCrow is absolutely beaming with pride at all this.

          Before they're allowed to leave they're blindfolded once again, however Fanboy takes this opportunity to read the minds of his escort and remove the mystery altogether. Surprisingly this pristine government facility is located beneath a local shopping center, the last place anybody would look.

          The superhumans are loaded into a van once their blindfolds are secured and a pair of the black armored men join them in the back, then to their surprise they hear one of the men snap "Garm, up." and the whole van seems to sag as something massive leaps in with them, the smell of dog is powerful and they can feel fur pressed against them.

          They drive several minutes, but nowhere near as long as it took them to arrive at the new Hole the first time and then the van stops and they hear voices outside. The back doors of the van swing open and their escorts leap out as well. Fanboy is the first to remove his blindfold and what he sees is not encouraging.

          'Garm' is a massive beast, a mastiff with a head the size of microwave who's bulk nearly fills the van and he does not look friendly. Outside are four of the black armored S.C.A.R. troopers armed to the teeth. Each man holds an assault rifle at the ready and has a .45 strapped to his waist, some sort of baton strapped to his leg and a thick metallic tube slung on their back.

          Fanboy immediately raises his hands defensively while the other two raise their blindfolds to see what's happening. "What is this, some kind of hazing?" Fanboy squeaks out.

          "Not quite. General Wilson doesn't have the same patience for dissidence that the DHS's pet agent has." One of the men outside says with a smirk before a pair of them slam the doors and a voice shouts "Garm, seize!"

          McCrow is closest to the beast's head and the creature's jaws latch onto his thigh painfully, crushing bone and tearing muscle. Roger shouts in pain and but is drowned out as the heavy drone of weapons fire fills the air; bullets bounce around inside the van catching the PCs completely off guard. Fanboy gets his Force Field up before he's riddled with bullets, but Tiffany takes a glancing blow and McCrow takes about three bullets dead center. Garm doesn't seem to notice or care about the bullets that bounce harmlessly off of him.

          Roger grabs Garm's head in retaliation and focuses on the water inside the beast; willing it out of every pore and eliciting a whimper that frees his battered leg. Tiffany moves in, now in diamond form and buries one of her impossibly sharp hands into the superdog's spine. Garm flops onto his side spewing gore and barely twitches as the life leaves his body.

          With a wave of his hand Fanboy bursts open the doors of the van and hurls two men back into the alley where they've parked. The soldiers quickly regain their composure and fire as a single unit into the open van; Fanboy takes the brunt of the attack which stresses his Force Field to the limit.

          McCrow leaps out of the van as soon as the S.C.A.R. men stop to reload and busts one of them in the face with a haymaker. Tiffany dives hands first into a second man and begins tearing him to pieces. Fanboy snatches a third and uses extra effort to hurl the man skywards. The last loses his nerve and turns to flee.

          McCrow lets the man nearly escape before focusing on the water within and the other PCs watch in shock as the man seems to turn to dust before their eyes, leaving little but his armor and weapons behind.

          The three of them turn to face the man who McCrow had clocked and as they corner the man against the van McCrow suggests taking at least one of them alive to question. A frantic scream announces the return of Fanboy's plummeting victim and with a twitch of his hand the telepath stops the man's descent just inches above the ground. "We already have one." Fanboy says coldly.

          Tiffany gleefully drives her sharpened hand through the throat of the man still pressed against the van and holds him there for a moment while he tries to sputter out final words that never see the light of day. She removes her hand and sidesteps the blood fountain before helping McCrow strip the dead of their weapons and armor.

          Fanboy pries the truth from the last man's mind while they're on the move and discovers that Parks had nothing to do with the kill order, the S.C.A.R. operatives were under the direct command of General Wilson. The more Fanboy probes the more it looks like Wilson is going to be the man to watch.

          As more of a courtesy than anything they call Parks to let him know they've killed some of his men. Parks is so shocked that he can't speak for a moment and Fanboy explains that they were taken into an alley to be executed on General Wilson's order. Parks assures them that this didn't go through official channels, but warns that the general doesn't operate through official channels.

          They're warned to watch their backs and Parks asks that they try to avoid killing his dogs in the future as they're already a rare and dying breed. Fanboy says that they're going to put down anything that raises a hand to them but they'll try to be subtle about it.

          Then they throw the naked and blindfolded guard out of the van, give his ass a good shock with his confiscated stun baton and laugh as the man charges head first into a Walmart to the screams and exclamations of surprised customers.





          The 'heroes' decide that if they're going to survive the coming s***storm they're going to have to escalate their press release. They call up their P.R. guy Finch and ask him to get to work on something, he tells them to give him a day or so.

          While they're waiting, they explain the situation to Prophet and he suggests that if they're going to get into a fight with the United States Government, it may be a good idea to upgrade the warehouse some more. Nobody has any grand ideas on what they should do, so they put that on the back burner.

          Instead, they spend the day chatting up Richard and the kid asks when they're going to actually get to training him. He points out that he's done quite a bit of work himself but that he's hoping for a more hands on approach. Tiffany suggests a sparring match to see what the kid can do and both McCrow and Fanboy shake their heads seeing as there's no way that this will end well. Richard is unbelievably dangerous, but ultimately an innocent. Tiffany is a psychotic. Either Tiffany doesn't take Richard seriously and she gets hurt or killed, or she takes him seriously and he gets hurt or killed.

          She finally convinces the pair that she knows how to hold back and that they're just going to have a friendly sparring match, so they head to the holding cell level and send Depaliamo upstairs while they prepare.

          Tiffany urges Richard to make the first move and the teenager takes a deep breath and focuses on drawing the energy to himself like he's done a thousand times before in the last week alone... He rolls a 1 on his willpower roll to control his power.

          Now the way I've got this set up, Richard has to make a DC18 Willsave every time he uses his power for it to activate as intended. Failure means that he can't direct the current so nothing happens, failure by 5+ means that he's overloaded with energy and it lashes out, failure by 10+ means that he goes critical.

          He goes critical.

          The entire warehouse goes dead as Richard absorbs its energy as his own, phones and electronics are completely drained as Richard is suspended above the floor in an electric coccoon. Richard tries to shout for Tiffany to run, but she's still convinced that she's invincible.

          An arc of electricity flares out and she rolls to see if she can take it. He crits, she rolls a 1. The force of the blow tears a Tiffany sized hole in the side of the warehouse and she's tossed out to sea unconscious and unprotected.

          Roger and Fanboy poke their heads downstairs when they hear the explosion and immediately retreat once they see what's happening. Fanboy projects his vision downstairs and discovers that Tiffany's missing. Roger pries up a grate and leaps into the churning ocean to find her while Fanboy basically just watches their basement burn. Once Roger returns and dumps the unconcious Tiffany on the floor he immediately sets to putting out the remains of his holding cells and assuring Richard that things could always be worse.

          They just start to get their backup generators online and recharge their phones when Fanboy gets a call from Finch who says that he's been trying to get in touch with them, that they've only got twenty minutes to make it to Meadowbrook Middle-school if they want to be heroes.

          Fanboy's jaw drops as he stares at the phone and they wake up Tiffany on the way.

          McCrow drives and just barely makes it there ahead of the police. Students are just starting to file out of the school as fast as they can and Fanboy repeats that he really doesn't want to work with this guy anymore. McCrow tells him that he's overreacting and that this probably isn't what it looks like.

          Fanboy calls Finch back and is told to go to the second girl's bathroom on the second floor and to wing it from there. He immediately responds by focusing his telepathy and attempting to find the guy that Finch has apparently hired to shoot up a school. The fact that he can't find anyone doesn't reassure him.

          Tiffany goes diamond, Fanboy slides on his costume and mask while Roger slips a random baseball cap on and pulls it down over his eyes.

          A fireman attempts to block their paths as they approach the school, but Fanboy simply telekinetically slides the man out of the way with an assurance that they'll take care of this. The fireman is stunned and doesn't say anything more.

          Fanboy rockets into the air using his new-found ability of flight, while Tiffany scales the bricks like a spider with her claw-like fingers and Roger taps a water main to fling himself to the second story. All three enter the building and fan out to find the bathroom.

          The bomb is easy enough to find, nestled in the only opened stall and the size of a large A.C. unit. It has a digital timer that's clicking down, less than a minute and a half left and the school still isn't done being evacuated!

          They start panicking and trying to figure out what to do when they see something that makes them give a collective facepalm. Once the timer starts to count down from 0:59 it immediately resets to two minutes. The three of them stare at each other and Fanboy sighs.

          "It's just meant to cause panic until we can 'disarm' it." he explains. However McCrow reaches down to fiddle with the timer and as he removes the panel a note falls out. The note explains that to detonate the bomb you just have to press the button under the panel.

          Fanboy demands out loud to know why the hell anyone would want to make this thing explode. "It has to be dramatic." McCrow explains, nodding thoughtfully. "So, who wants to push the button?"

          Fanboy sighs and rubs his temples. "I'll do it." he says, hoisting the bomb telekinetically and dragging it outside. McCrow rides a geyser of water to the ground and Tiffany just leaps.

          The crowd gasps and Fanboy notices that the television cameras have already started setting up. All eyes are on him as he presses the hidden button and flings the explosive into the air, where it explodes in a gloriously flashy display of fire and sound.

          The crowd is still gawking when Fanboy lands next to his fellow 'heroes' and flashes a smile to the cameras. "You could say I'm a FAN of safety." the young man says with a thumbs up.

          McCrow mimics the thumbs up and adds "And um...stay in school."

          Tiffany winks at a kid and finishes with "Now you have an explosive day."



          They're still in the car when Roger receives a call that nearly sends him swerving off the road. It's Ben McCrow, his youngest son. He pulls off the road to talk and shushes Fanboy and Tiffany as they ask what's going on.

          They have a little small talk and Roger learns that his boy's graduated college, it's a bit of a shock since he hadn't realized it'd been so long, but he hasn't seen Ben since before the boy started highschool. Ben tells his father that he got the number from Franklin and just wanted to say that he's glad to hear things are looking up for the elder McCrow; he always knew things would turn out alright for Roger despite what his mother said. Ben then asks if that was Roger he saw on T.V. the other night in the crowd when that guy was trying to jump.

          Now McCrow can't remember if he did anything incriminating but says that he seems to remember something about that. Ben asks if that meant he got to see the Fanboy in person. Roger's a little dismissive but asks what Ben thinks of these new 'superheroes' and Ben replies that they're definitely different; if they turn out to be real it would be amazing. McCrow gets a little smug as they say their goodbyes and tells Ben he'll see him next month at Franklin's wedding.

          Back at the warehouse Fanboy checks in on Prophet and asks what their resident conspiracy theorist has turned up concerning those names. Prophet says that it's short notice, but he's been checking payroll records and has a list of doctors that have been drawing a government check under the names Marcell, Heiner and Gupta for the past five years.

          Marcell (Greggory Marcell: Physician, Laurinl Marcell: Botanist, Joseph Marcell: Radiation Specialist)
          Heiner (Henry Heiner: Surgeon, Frank Heiner: Ceullular Biologist)
          Gupta (Henry Gupta: Engineer, Jennifer Gupta: Psychologist, Sarine Gupta: Anthropologist)

          Prophet mentions that it's not much to go on, but Fanboy assures him that it's more than they'd have without him. Fanboy suggests focusing on Heiner and seeing if they can't eliminate one of those names; he wants to cut to the heart of this organization and see if he can't get some straight answers for once. Prophet says that he'll get right on it and Fanboy excuses himself to take an incoming call from Parks.

          Parks explains that he thinks he's got a bead on a new superhuman, but the reports don't seem to match up. He says that there is considerable activity in a local apartment building and they've evacuated the place under the guise of fumigation; but none of their teams have been able to bring the thing in. He asks that Fanboy take a look since there's not much that can get past a telepath and Fanboy agrees to help their only friendly contact in the government out.

          Fanboy heads downstairs to inform the rest of the team and meets McCrow on the stairs, still on the phone with Chavenski about handling a succession issue with the Russians.

          They quickly decide that the best thing to do is to split up and each handle a different contact's problem by themself. Tiffany decides to go with Fanboy; half because he was very adamant that he wasn't babysitting her and half because she thinks it might be fun to get a chance to fight and/or kill a different kind of superhuman.

          Fanboy and Tiffany arrive at the apartment and find it pretty well tented, but otherwise perfectly normal. They search the first floor thoroughly and find that while the whole place is pretty much a s***hole, it's no different than any other cheap apartment building. Tiffany however eventually notices what appears to be a fresh blood stain seeping through the ceiling.

          Fanboy projects his vision to the floor above and sees nothing out of the ordinary, so Tiffany does the next logical thing and sprays a barrage of crystalline shards into the ceiling to see if something's there. Blood rains down out of the new opening but seems to dry and dissipate shortly after making contact with them. Fanboy decides that the next floor might be worth checking out so he starts looking for the stairs leading up, Tiffany decides to just cut her way through the ceiling to save some time.

          As Fanboy steps out onto the 2nd floor he sees a glowing orb bouncing around inquisitively (hilariously, his first instinct was: "Wait, is it some kind of hard light construct type of orb? Because if this is some kind of Luvless trap then f*** this, I leap out the window and go home.") and attempts to make contact with it. The thing immediately bolts away from him and slams directly into a wall, disappearing on contact. He projects his vision through ESP to begin searching the apartments, but doesn't see anything out of the ordinary. Although once he looks through his own eyes he does begin noticing the orbs out of the corner of his vision again.

          Meanwhile, Tiffany is following a growing trail of blood that leads towards the 3rd floor, where she meets up with Fanboy on the stairs. After taking her eyes off the trail to acknowledge Fanboy however, neither of them can see evidence of the blood having been there in the first place. As they approach the third floor they begin to hear vague whispers but can't make out the words.

          Tiffany sees one of the orbs bolt across the hall in front of them and into an apartment and though Fanboy tells her to ignore it she decides they should give chase. So they wait until the orb bolts across the hall a second time and then throw open the door it entered and rush inside.

          They're greeted by a twisted green skeleton bathed in an eerie green flame that shrieks and reaches for them. The fear is suddenly so powerful that the PCs trip over themselves to race back down the stairs and it isn't until they're nearly to the 1st floor that the feeling leaves them and Fanboy realizes he recognizes that technique. It's Emotion Control and he uses it himself sometimes.

          They still hear the skeleton shrieking upstairs so he decides to ambush the bastard and see what it's made of. They go to the apartment directly under the shrieking and Tiffany shreds the upstairs with a hail of crystal shards while Fanboy uses all of his mental might to pull down the entire upstairs. The skeleton tumbles amid the rubble, but seems to dissolve as it leaves its point of origin. As they watch it melts away and is replaced by a glowing orb that dances off once again.

          They determine that the closer they get to the source, the more paranormal their experiences will become so they head up through the new hole, genuinely intrigued. They continue searching the 3rd floor and learn to ignore the orbs and avoid the skeletons as best they can. They discover that skeletons only appear on the northwest side, so they assume that there's something there that they need to see.

          They find the stairs and head up another level and as they do so, Fanboy hears a voice say plainly in his ear "This is where you die."

          Fanboy spins around, searching for the source and Tiffany says that she neither saw nor heard anything, so it must be in his head. He decides that it's nothing more than a trick like he'd play, so he focuses his telepathy to find the source of the message. Surprisingly he finds that Tiffany is the only mind he can make contact with.

          They exit the stairwell into the 4th floor on their guard and they each hear a whisper say "We will wear your flesh home." accompanied by a rush of air that leaves two inch deep claw-like scratches along everything it touches, namely the walls. Their protective powers kept them from real injury, but they watch as the scratches along the walls begin to bleed profusely and a sound that alternates between a mournful sob and a manic laugh begins echoing down the corridor.

          They press on to the northwest portion of the building and as they approach apartment 4C they begin hearing something moving and scratching inside the walls, accompanied by more sobs and laughter. 4C itself looks as though there is something massive living in its outer walls and they bulge obscenely as whatever it is moves and shifts around, growling threateningly the whole time.

          Fanboy and Tiffany stare at each other for a moment and Tiffany kicks the door off its hinges with a single mighty kick. They enter the apartment and are surprised to see that it's pretty intact, though obviously abandoned. There's a noticeable film of dust over everything and a neighbor has been piling bills and other mail up by the door. They start going over the place when Tiffany points out the family picture on the wall and Fanboy stops in his tracks at the sight of a little girl and her parents smiling for the camera. "Oh....s***. It's one of THOSE ghosts." he says with a groan.

          Tiffany asks what he means and Fanboy says that he recognizes the family or at least the little girl. Her name is Maria Lucerta and she was on the bus with the rest of them, but unlike the others; she never woke up from her injuries. She was brain dead for months and then the serial killer snuck into her room and made her just regular dead. He decides to call out to her and no sooner does he say 'Maria' then a horrible roar echoes through the building like thunder and seems to originate from a nearby bedroom.

          He pulls open the door and finds a six foot skeleton similar to the ones he saw below, only this one still has meat hanging off the bones and the flames are real enough to cause immediate discomfort all the way from the doorway. "Maria, I'm here to-"

          Before he can finish his sentence a burst a flame flies from the skeleton's hand and knocks the wind out of him, he notices that his skin is bright red like he's been scalded but the Force Field holds and he survives. Tiffany steps into the room and averts her eyes, several small objects that have begun to spin about the room are harmlessly deflected by her diamond skin but the skeleton doesn't seem to notice her as she snoops around.

          It only takes a quick sweep for her to step out with a movie poster that depicts the very same skeleton that's in the room now; she shows it to Fanboy and he looks at it puzzled.

          "Hell on Earth 3?" he asks noone in particular. "So she's a cheesy horror fan. The hell is this then, some kind of solo LARP?"

          Tiffany just shrugs and points out that movies are sort of his thing. He agrees, rolls up the poster and hands it to Tiffany before taking a deep breath and heading back into the room. "I see you're a fellow cinemaphile." Fanboy says pleasantly. "Surprised you go for something like Hell on Earth though, my favorite was always-"

          He's ejected from the room by a pillar of green fire and lays groaning on the carpet trying to make sure his eyebrows are still intact.

          Meanwhile...

          Roger sits down with Chavenski at a nice, if low-key, restaurant and the wheezing crime lord admits that the Russian Syndicate may have outgrown him. Chavenski explains that his organization is currently in the middle of a restructuring/civil war and that three of his most valuable lieutenants have decided to challenge him for power. He admits than in his current state any one of them may be more than he can deal with.

          Roger apologizes but explains that they're legitimizing themselves and can't afford to be associated with Chavenski's business any longer. Chavenski points out that he's been more than fair when dealing with McCrow and Fanboy in the past and that he's been there when they needed him the most. Roger says that they've went beyond the call of duty for the Russians as well and Chavenski replies "Oh, I'm sorry. Which organ did you lose coming to save me?"

          Roger's (and his player's) mouth keeps moving for a second, but no sound comes out and he finally decides to concede the point that maybe Chavenski HAS gotten the shorter end of the stick in this relationship. He agrees to help but says that the Russians have to stop with the murdering and mutilation and the selling people and so on. Chavenski points out that he doesn't tell Roger how to run his business and Roger settles on asking that Chavenski stop dealing in human trafficking at least.

          Chavenski agrees and points out that it's one of his men that has caused the notable spike in white slavery in order to impress the bigshots back in the motherland. Sergei Reschkov has an honest to God army at his command thanks to his cutthroat dealings and more clout with the Syndicate's Russian contacts than anyone, himself included.

          McCrow gets the address of Sergei's storehouse and decides to make an example of this guy himself. He thanks Chavenski for the meal and tells the Russian that he won't have anything more to worry about after today, he'll make enough of a mess out of this guy that the others will fall into line.

          McCrow drives out to what basically amounts to a barn on the outskirts of town and watches the place for several minutes. In that short amount of time he sees nearly three dozen heavily armed guards moving about the perimeter and quite a few large men in overalls unloading and opening crates from a truck. He nods as though this is about what he assumed he was getting into and walks back to his car, opening the backdoor and tapping loudly on the large aquarium housed inside.

          "Wake up boys. Wake up now. Daddy needs some help." McCrow says with a knowing smile.

          Back at the haunting...

          Fanboy is sitting out in the hallway on the phone with Parks. "I can't read it's mind dammit, it doesn't have one! It's a f***ing ghost Parks, what do you want me to do? Do I look like Dan Akroyd? Do you have a proton pack hanging around somewhere that I don't know about?"

          Tiffany has been pacing the halls with a large bag for the past twenty minutes and Fanboy's learned to tune out her, the apparitions and the voices that keep getting more and more vivid while he tries to convince Parks he isn't crazy.

          "Look, the thing is disruptive as hell but it looks pretty stationary. Give us some time and I'm sure we can come up with something, I mean from what you've said it's been here for a week or more; I doubt it's going anywhere." Fanboy explains. Tiffany excuses herself as she steps over him and he ignores her, annoyed.

          "Don't worry, things are under control. I'll run it by Prophet at..." Fanboy stops and starts sniffing the air. "F***, s***, dammit! Parks, call the fire department!" he shouts as he bursts into the room and sees Tiffany shimmering amid the roaring fire she's created. Fanboy can't even summon the words but Tiffany looks so proud.

          "Let's see how SHE likes it!" Tiffany beams. Fanboy manages to snatch her up with his telekinesis and the two of them burst out the side of the building, leaving behind a growing wall of flame and a horrible moan that can be heard from blocks away. He knew bringing her was a bad idea...

          Back to McCrow...

          The barn is very nearly destroyed. Half-eaten corpses litter the yard and are piled eight high to form a barricade within the barn itself. Only five men still live besides Sergei and as the Droplets batter their way past the bodies of dead Russians they waste what little ammo they have left on the smiling, bouncing abominations.

          McCrow pushes past the corpses himself and stands before the terrified criminals, who are all the more terrified as the Droplets begin rubbing up against the stoic hydromancer like attention starved kittens.

          "Do what I say and you might survive." Roger says plainly. "Put your guns down."

          Three men immediately drop their weapons and attempt rush out the back way however the Droplets cutt off their escape and immediately latch onto their screaming victims, bringing them down and silencing them; taking far, far too long to finish the job.

          "McCrow didn't say run." Roger says sternly. "I just said put down your guns."

          The last guard drops his gun and holds up his hands to show they're empty. Sergei suddenly produces a pistol from his jacket defiantly and fires at McCrow who responds by holding out his arms and flooding the barn from a well outside. Roger takes a couple of bullets but is soon covered in a protective sheen of water and stands about 10ft tall.

          Sergei stops firing and begins shaking so hard he drops the gun. He tries to retrieve it, but Roger snatches him in one hand and crushes him against the wall.

          "What do you want?" Sergei manages to squeak out.

          "Not much. Just told my dear friend Nikolai Chavenski that I'd swat a bug for him." McCrow growls, applying a little more pressure and watching Sergei turn purple.

          "I didn't mean anything!" Sergei sputters, "It's just the way things work! It's the same way HE got his place!"

          "Are you sure?" McCrow asks. "Because I don't remember being friends with the guy he killed, and I know I'm not friends with you. Know how I can tell? You shot at me. Friends don't do that. Chavenski for example, has never shot me. So Chavenski doesn't know what it feels like to crushed into a fine paste and fed to my Droplets."

          Sergei looks like he's about to pop and just starts begging for his life with no regard for position any longer.

          Roger ***** his head. "You want to deal? Is that what you're getting at? Okay, how's this? You go and you tell the other a**holes that think they're going to take away what me and Chavenski have worked for what happened here today. You convince them with tears in your eyes that Chavenski's word is law and that their only chance at surviving another night comes from getting on their knees and apologizing and I'll let you go."

          Sergei nods his head but makes no sound. He ran out of oxygen for that long ago.

          Roger releases Sergei and the man sucks air violently, gulping like he'd forgotten the taste.

          With one massive, watery hand McCrow lifts Sergei back to his feet the the collar of his expensive suit and leans down to eye level. "Get this straight Sergei: Tried is not in my vocabulary. If the succession talks don't end TONIGHT I will personally take the three of you and shove each of you up the next guy's ass to make the scariest f***ing Russian doll the world has ever seen. If I ever see your face or hear your name after today in ANY context I will break your legs and leave you for the Droplets. Is all of this clear?"

          Sergei doesn't even respond, he just pisses himself then and there.




          Tiffany finds herself abandoned after the events in the apartment and is walking back to the warehouse when she gets a call from Agent Mann who tells her that he's sending a car, not to be difficult. She'll get her usual $5,000 consultation fee.

          Surprisingly she takes Mann's advice and soon finds herself in Parks' new office along with Agent Mann and an angry, restrained man that she doesn't recognize. Parks seems to be negotiating with the guy in handcuffs and says that he doesn't like having him back either, but until the Tree King is apprehended this is the way it's got to be. He offers Michael Stockton his freedom in exchange for service.

          Stockton pffts dismissively and hears that he's heard that before. Parks responds that he thinks a little over two years walking free is a more than fair deal considering the incidents he's had to cover up. Michael doesn't have any response to that and goes quiet.

          Parks tells Mann to unlock the cuffs and explains that they've been using the Bloodhound Laelaps to search for the Tree King but it hasn't been easy. Not only is Tree King's scent often lost amid the other plant life, but there are more than two dozen locations that Laelaps is completely convinced that Tree King is living in.

          Parks needs somebody he can trust to be thorough to scout these locations so he's called on Mann. Mann can't do it alone so Parks also included Tiffany and Michael, though nobody's enthusiastic about their inclusion.

          They follow the directions that Parks has supplied and arrive at an abandoned tenement building that looks like it hasn't seen an occupant for years. They search the place top to bottom, but there's nothing to find. So they decide to think outside of the box and head to the basement to start prying up the floorboards.

          They quickly find a whole section of flooring that's completely removable. There's a sizable hole in the ground that seems to lead into the sewers. Naturally they all leap down and start nosing around.

          Stockton finds a trip wire to the west and warns the others to stand back. He wants to see what sort of traps they've got rigged up down here so after Tiffany and Mann have backed up a bit he lays both hands on the wire and pulls.

          It takes them a moment to realize that they can hear the jingle of falling bells and Michael looks disgusted. "Really? It rings?" he asks with a snort.

          A clawed hand reaches out from the darkness and pins Michael against the sewer wall. He lands a solid blow against the creature's throat, however considering the throat is made of wood he doesn't accomplish much. Three more Tree Clones rush in from the west and two more rush from the east.

          Mann quickly draws his flashlight and pistol and begins choosing his targets, putting .45 holes in their foreheads which bleed sap. Tiffany manages to cut down two Tree Clones in rapid succession and Michael reverses his opponent's grapple before pinning the tree creature and breaking it's neck with a crushing elbow to the back of the head.

          Two more Tree Clones rush Michael but he manages use their momentum against them, tripping the first one and using the second one like a weapon to crack both of them at once. Tiffany steps forward and finishes them off.

          They take a moment to collect themselves and then investigate the western tunnel until they find a room lined with U.V. lights and about a dozen immature Tree Clones growing in planters. Mann and Michael exchange a glance and Mann tells Tiffany to burn it all. Since her character sheet always has at least 5 gallons of gasoline somewhere on it, she's more than likely to get the BBQ started.

          They go back the way they came in and follow the tunnel to the east, ambushing a group of Tree Clones hard at work tending to their growing brothers. Michael does a flying kick into one's back, snapping it like...well a twig. Tiffany slices clean through a second one and Mann puts two more down with judicious use of a hero point.

          The team takes a moment to actually investigate the room and Tiffany is surprised to discover that the growing tree creatures already have little faces. Naturally she cuts one off (to add to the mastiff pelt she stripped from Garm and a Russian...man part she pried off one of the sex slavers.) as a war-trophy. Mann orders everything burned and they continue searching the tunnels.

          They continue along at a brisk pace until Michael trips another bell trap. This one seems even louder than the last and suddenly the tunnels are filled with the sound of heavy bodies rushing to meet them.

          Michael moves to block off the southern tunnel, Tiffany stands ready to the west and Mann readies his gun to aid where needed. About 8 Tree Clones rush from the south and another 15 come in from the east. Tiffany lashes out like a swirling dervish and even the normally suicidal Tree Clones seem a little apprehensive about throwing themselves onto the chopping block. Mann opens fire into the wall of wood to the west and throws himself at the group to the south.

          One of the Tree Clones crits against Michael and Stockton fails his toughness roll majorly. The Tree Clone's claw is protruding from the back of Michael's torso and the reluctant agent attempts to stammer something out, but only manages to cough up blood. The Tree Clone hoists Stockton overhead triumphantly as he simply stops fighting.

          Mann turns to cover the south and puts a couple of bullets into the first Tree Clone to rush him, but Tiffany is already becoming overwhelmed to the east and things are starting to look bad. Tiffany punctures one of the gas cans she strapped to herself and douses herself and everyone near her in gasoline before setting fire to everything. The Tree Clones to the west roll surprisingly well and she does little more than piss them all off.

          Suddenly Michael wakes back up, still impaled by the gloating Tree Clone who's using this opportunity to give the 'You'll be ground to fertilizer.' speech. With one hand he secures the clone's wrist and with the other braces against its should before planting both of his feet directly into the creature's chest and pulling with everything he's got in him. There's a loud snap and Michael rolls to his feet with the creature's severed arm in hand, he uses his hero point to beat the thing to death with its own arm and Mann recognizes that Michael's gone, the rage is what's animating him.

          Mann uses another hero point to help put down two more Tree Clones and extra effort to get a third, Tiffany takes out another with her bladed arms and two more with the intense fire she's started. Michael uses the severed arm like a bat cave in another head. Within just a few rounds all of the Tree Clones to the south are dead and most to the west are as well. Tiffany is exchanging blows with the last flaming clone when Michael rushes her location, springboards off her back and (as he described it) delivered a 'Benoit Flying Headbutt' directly into the face of the last clone. Both of them lay there burning with their heads split open, however after about a minute Michael stands back up, holding his head and wondering what happened to his clothes.

          They press on and find several more labs loaded down with U.V. lamps, little Tree Clones and various chemicals and fertilizers. Tiffany starts spilling every chemical she can find over the trees, but Mann snatches one of the smallest ones up to bring back with them for study.

          Finally, after their searching they come across the motherload. A massive chamber converted into a nursery where nearly 20 Tree Clones are splintering their own bodies in order to plant more of their brothers. Mann gives a quick estimate of nearly 200 plants in this room ALONE. They sit there thinking for a moment when Mann suggests they just burn it all down.

          The other two look at him like he's and idiot, because of course they're going to burn it all down, but he motions to the rest of Tiffany's fuel and suggests making a giant molotov to alleviate the need for a battle here. They agree that's the way to go and it takes them less than a minute to rig something up.

          Tiffany tosses their concoction in a high arc towards the center of the room and Mann just barely manages to shoot it midflight; catching the entire room on fire at once. The Tree Clones roar with rage and try to rush them, but the fire is intense and they fail to even make it to the door before they're burnt to cinders.

          They search the tunnels once more to make sure there's none of these things left and that none of the equipment survived their ransacking and then they start to leave. Mann informs both Tiffany and Michael that they can't take specimens home with them and that he'll have to confiscate Tiffany's trophy and Michael's stolen arm before he can allow them to leave.

          Michael had basically forgotten he'd been carrying the thing around and tosses it into one of the roaring fires, but Tiffany tells Mann to kiss her ass. He points out that all it would take is that thing getting exposed to sunlight for all that they're working for to be undone, but Tiffany tells him that he's not man enough to take it from her.

          Mann reaches for his gun and the two stare each other down for a moment before Mann quickly draws his piece and shoots the wooden face itself, knowing that once it's no longer recognizable it won't function as much of a trophy and she should drop it. She's absolutely incensed and re-actively fires a burst of crystal directly at Mann's face in retaliation; Michael had been holding his action and springs into action, leaping in front of the blast and being laid open from crotch to gullet.

          Mann bolts up the ladder full-tilt and Tiffany leaps onto the ladder after him, however Michael snatches her by the leg and flings her across the room despite her increased mass. Stockton rushes up the ladder as well and Tiffany attempts to return the favor, however Mann uses power attack and the last of his hero points to buckle her over for a round, stunned. They slam the lid down on top if Tiffany and glance at each other breathlessly for a moment.

          Michael punches Mann directly in the nose and shouts "I can't believe you left me down there you a**hole!"

          Mann starts to respond until razor sharp pieces of crystal flies up between the floor boards, sending him and Stockton bolting upstairs and towards their car before she realizes she missed.





          It's several hours later when Tiffany finally hobbles back into McCrow's warehouse looking like hell. She's obviously irritated and had to walk nearly eight miles to get home since neither Roger nor Fanboy answered her call.

          It looks like everybody's gathered in Prophet's security room so she heads up to see what they're doing. She sees a visibly upset Bradley pacing around and freaking out. Fanboy keeps telling him to calm down, that they're keeping him in the warehouse and locking things down until further notice but it doesn't seem to settle Bradley's nerves.

          McCrow asks if she's intends on disappearing every time she does something crazy and mimics a crying motion. She ignores his snide comment and asks what's gong on here. McCrow explains that Bradley got himself killed by the serial killer.

          Not the real Bradley, he explains. But several of Bradley's clones have been killed in an alarmingly short amount of time while running errands and none of them saw it coming. Everyone likes Bradley but as tragic as his death would be, the thought of the killer getting his power is far scarier...
          Last edited by KidJake; 06-23-2015, 11:03 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: "Let's Get This Straight, You're The Sidekick!"

            Sessions 11-13

            We start out in the warehouse with McCrow and Fanboy recapping what happened last session. They call up Finch, their P.R. agent, and put the final touches on their coming out party. Finch arranges for the mayor to hold a seemingly unrelated (and highly televised) press conference at the end of the week and starts looking for somebody to crash it theatrically. Roger gives him a bunch of numbers from Baritone's stolen cellphone and explains that most of these guys are hardass bikers and that he personally murdered their leader with a 2x4; Finch seems pretty sure that he can work with this.

            With that settled, they begin looking for other things to fill their week with and pressure Prophet to track down Heiner. The agoraphobe quickly tracks down a few leads: Frank Heiner, the biologist, has been in Germany for the past three months; but Henry Heiner, the surgeon, is vacationing in Atlantic City this weekend with his wife. Since Fanboy can accomplish in minutes what it may take Prophet weeks to determine, they decide to head to Atlantic City and track the surgeon down for some answers.

            It only takes a few hours to reach Atlantic City and the Heiners' room is easy to find with Prophet's directions. It's mid afternoon when they sneak into the room using Fanboy's flight ability and McCrow's gusto for busting open glass doors. They lie in wait for their target, ready to pounce.

            By seven o'clock they discover that people don't really use their hotel rooms in Atlantic City and realize they've been sitting and watching the door for about three hours now. Against Fanboy's wishes, McCrow raids the mini-bar and starts drinking the boredom away.

            By midnight, McCrow has moved into the bathroom; turned on every faucet in sight and is wallowing naked in the tub in a drunken stupor. Fanboy's started watching Robot Chicken reruns in addition to the door.

            Some time around two in the morning the door jingles and man in his mid thirties stumbles in with a petite blonde woman in tow. The pair are laughing drunkenly, but stop when they see Fanboy perched on their bed comfortably. When McCrow comes out of the bathroom wearing nothing but his sunglasses and dripping water the room becomes eerily silent for a moment.

            Just for a moment though.

            Seeing their target standing in the doorway McCrow gives a blood curdling scream and charges at the Heiners, weaving uncontrollably and launching a wild haymaker at Mrs. Heiner with such force that he breaks her jaw and bounces her unconscious body off the wall. Mr Heiner retaliates punching Roger in the abdomen, but in McCrow's drunken rage it doesn't even register.

            Fanboy suddenly realizes that if he doesn't step in they may actually lose an important witness to McCrow's fury and lays Gravity Control over the area, crushing both McCrow and Heiner to the ground. Roger immediately demands to be released and while Fanboy's explaining that that's not going to happen, launches a burst of water out of what's left of the bathroom that blows Fanboy off his feet and out the hotel window.

            Fanboy sighs and floats back in, still maintaining his gravity field and holding everyone down. McCrow rants and raves and demands a blood price for his wrongs, but Fanboy just tunes him out and questions the doctor they're there to see.

            Heiner wants to know what the hell his wife ever did to them that they'd break into a hotel room just to beat her up. Fanboy apologizes for Roger's behavior and tells Heiner that his past has caught up with him; that the canisters gave birth to people like McCrow and himself and now they want some answers.

            Heiner doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.

            Fanboy probes the guy's mind and discovers that he really doesn't. The only thing that Henry Heiner has ever done for the government is train field surgeons.

            Fanboy realizes that they have the wrong guy and sighs painfully, rubbing his temples. He quickly gathers up Roger's discarded clothes and hoists the naked (now sleeping) hydromancer telekinetically and apologizes again. While Henry Heiner is still gawking at Fanboy's display of power, his mind is suddenly wiped and the last thing he remembers is Roger McCrow screaming obscenities and charging them.

            When he recovers enough to file a police report a few moments later, the only thing he can say is that it appeared that a hobo had scaled the side of the hotel, robbed his mini-bar, beat up his wife and ran away into the night. His wife was unable to corroborate his story (Fanboy was a bit more thorough on her) and Henry Heiner is now spending some time in jail on charges of domestic assault.

            Roger doesn't wake up until they're already home and doesn't seem to have any recollection of what happened. He does seem to be pretty upset that they didn't get a chance to gamble while they were in Atlantic City though and starts making plans to go back soon.

            They spend the next day fairly mundanely; McCrow is repairing the remainder of the damage to the basement caused by Tiffany and Richard's sparring while Fanboy is speaking with their lawyer about setting up a shipping business using Depaliamo's old properties.

            With a few calls Fanboy manages to get a good portion of his father's business as well as a bit of business from Bradley's father who runs a small car lot to help legitimize their money laundering operation. McCrow calls up Chavenski and discovers that the Russians have fallen in line after his talk with the wayward lieutenant and Chavenski is grateful; what scraps of legal cargo the Russians have to offer are promised to their new company and Chavenski agrees to enter into a limited partnership with them, using some of his less shady contacts to help them establish a legitimate business.



            Meanwhile, on the other side of things.

            Agent Mann and Michael Stockton are each picked up independently by the black armored S.C.A.R. soldiers who drive them out to the country to General Wilson's property. Michael recognizes several of the soldiers as having had a hand in putting him down repeatedly, but figures that the list of people that hadn't killed him was shrinking by the day so it's not really worth bringing up.

            General Wilson lives in a handsome, 2 story home on a nice piece of land with nary a neighbor within earshot. He meets his guests personally and invites them into his home.

            Agent Mann suggests that all of this seems very familiar and that it might border unprofessional. General Wilson assures them both that this meeting is of the utmost importance for the DHS. He asks if they're familiar with Roger McCrow and Samell Hamilton, aka the Fanboy.

            Mann nods and Michael says that he's heard of them in passing. Wilson asks if Michael's heard of the Ventnor City Bus Hijacking or the Viral Rally Massacre? Michael confirms that he's definitely heard of this stuff, it's what brought him out of retirement. Wilson explains that McCrow and Fanboy are central figures in both of these events. Michael's suddenly intrigued.

            Wilson gets out a stack of dossiers and starts laying them out, he starts with one of McCrow and Fanboy and Michael snorts at the unflattering pictures of the pair. Wilson points out that the dorky kid in the suit can generate enough force to launch a tank in the air or rewrite a mind to believe whatever he wants and that the paunchy guy with the mustache and speedo is the uncontested lord of a substance that accounts for 70% of life as we know it.

            Wilson points out that these two men have a body count that's higher than most natural disasters and that they wiped out an Italian crime boss and apparently took his place within a month of gaining their powers. The General continues to explain that they have strong ties to Russian organized crime and that they're suspected of performing gangland hits for Nikolai Chavenski.

            Michael suddenly doesn't find this funny any more. He asks why these people are still allowed to walk around and General Wilson says that it was an oversight, that he's here to correct it.

            The next dossier is of Sandy Clemens, who Wilson explains has a regenerative factor that rivals Michael's but is still unexplored. The next shows the Prophet and Wilson explains that the grungy looking guy is a precog, capable of predicting any major move before it happens; he explains that any attempt to launch a direct attack would fail before it began thanks to Prophet's visions.

            The next dossier is of Bradley Yurtz and Wilson explains that this seemingly normal teenager can multiply at will; effectively giving McCrow and Fanboy an inexhaustible army at their beck and call.

            The dossier after that is of Dr Kavlight who Wilson explains used to be head of Superhuman Recovery, one of the only civilian doctors that they trusted with the greatest state secret ever conceived...that is until he left his position to become their personal physician.

            Yet another dossier is of Richard Bronson, who Wilson explains is a living weapon responsible for leveling an arcade in a single act of aggression. He points out that both McCrow and Fanboy refused to turn the teenager over to the proper authorities, instead keeping what basically amounts to a walking WMD for their own purposes.

            ((This entire segment was a blast in play because both players could definitely see how some of their choices could lead someone to believe that they were building a terrorist cell; but they also justified literally every single one of these choices as being for the greater good.))

            The final dossier, Wilson explains, may be the most dangerous of the group. Wilson hands them a mugshot of a drunk one eying the camera, trying to stay awake. He explains that the superhuman 'Lucky Dan' was the first member they recruited and that of all the known powers, his are the most unpredictable. He points out that within two hours of him demanding to be set free, half a dozen officers had been hospitalized with various accidents; several more received minor injuries and somehow the roof of the police station managed to get caved in by one of their own cars.

            General Wilson tells them that he just wants a chance to talk with Dan before he goes back to the Warehouse and get a feel for what's going on; but his men wouldn't be capable of bringing in a superhuman of this magnitude. He asks them to bring Dan in, but not to say anything about it to Parks as his existing relationship with the team could interfere with this investigation.

            Mann and Michael agree that something needs to be done about this group before it gets out of hand and head out to the suburbs to visit Mr. Brown.

            The house that Fanboy and McCrow purchased for Dan and his family is one of the nicer ones in the neighborhood, even though the yard is a little unkempt and littered with toys. Michael knocks on the door and Mrs. Brown answers, looking at the pair of agents with apprehension.

            Mann identifies himself and asks if Mr. Brown is home. She says that he is, before shouting for Dan to get the door and nervously explaining that these men are from the DHS. Dan has a beer in his hand, but seems surprisingly sober and tells his wife to go inside. She resists, but he tells her that this is nothing that he can't handle.

            Agent Mann explains that they're here because the government has concerns about Dan's associates and need to have a few words with him. Dan says that he's already squared things with Parks, but Mann points out that they're under orders of someone outside of Parks chain of command and insists he comes with them. Dan says that he knows this trick and that he's not going to The Hole, he turns to go back in the house.

            Michael lunges forward to grab Dan's arm, however slips on the welcome mat and falls off the porch, breaking his arm. Mann immediately sees that something's up and draws his tranquilizer gun, opening fire at point blank range on Lucky Dan. Somehow the dart gets twisted coming out of the barrel, smacks into Dan's back with the blunt end, hits the ground and rolls off the porch, lodging itself in Michael's leg as he starts to stand up.

            "Mann, you son of a bitch!" Michael slurs angrily before passing out and hitting his head on the steps.

            Dan stops in his tracks and looks back at Mann with a 'what the hell guy?' expression. Mann fires again and the dart manages to ricochet off the front door and stick in his vest. He wisely decides to holster his weapon at this point.

            "Mr. Brown, nobody wants to hurt you." Mann says, (I can only assume hoping that Dan didn't notice his two attempts at shooting him) "But I'm afraid that you HAVE to come with us. You're not in trouble, we're not taking you to the Hole, this is just an unofficial inquiry. If you keep refusing however, things are just going to escalate until The Hole is the only option left."

            Dan still hesitates and Mann draws his .45, offering it over as a sign of good faith. "Now you're the only man here with a gun. Come with us, have a few words and get it over with. It's not like we can keep you if you want to leave."

            Dan points out that he was trapped in a jail cell easily enough, but Mann counters with it being almost impossible to get him into the cell to begin with, especially now that he's armed. Dan grudgingly agrees and tells Mann to wait a moment while he talks to his wife.

            He reappears a minute later and says that he's given his wife Fanboy's number and that there's going to be hell to pay if this is a trick. Mann agrees that it's a prudent move, loads Michael into the back of his car and drives Dan out to the country to meet General Wilson. Michael wakes up on the way but still seems groggy from the sedative.

            Wilson meets them on the porch as they come up the stairs and offers to shake Dan's hand, though Lucky Dan refuses. Wilson ushers him inside and tells Mann and Michael that that's all he needs for now trying to shut the door behind him. Agent Mann blocks the door from closing with his leg, saying that Dan is in his custody and he'd be more comfortable if he could sit in on the interrogation.

            Wilson relinquishes and lets Michael and Mann escort Dan inside. He asks Michael to step downstairs to help his men set up and Mann excuses himself to the bathroom for a moment.

            Turning the sink on to mask his voice, Mann calls Parks and quickly tells him that he just picked up Daniel Brown on General Wilson's order, but that things seem extremely shady and he's not sure what's going on. Parks tells him that Daniel Brown is no threat to anybody and that Wilson has no reason to detain him. Mann asks if he's being told to remove Dan from this situation, but Parks sighs and says that since he's already turned Dan over to General Wilson that he doesn't have the authority to release him.

            Meanwhile, Michael is in the basement and sees several black armored S.C.A.R. soldiers setting up a rough version of The Hole. Four holding cells are being hastily built into the walls of the basement and the men are dragging a bed into the only finished one. Michael just stands there in shock and watches them.

            Upstairs, Mann returns from the bathroom in time to hear Wilson demand that Lucky Dan go downstairs peacefully or he can guarantee that he'll never see his wife again. Dan argues and does a bit of bolstering of his own, but Wilson hisses that he's got men standing by to haul Mrs. Brown off to the deepest, darkest hole they can find and that NOBODY will ever see a trace of her again.

            Mann steps in and says that that's enough, that the Brown family has done nothing to warrant such intrusive measures. He demands to know on what grounds Wilson intends to hold Dan Brown, let alone his wife.

            Wilson snaps back that Daniel Brown's violation of the NDA led to McCrow and Fanboy's first act of open defiance against the DHS and that he must factor heavily into their plans. He asserts that Daniel Brown is part of a seditious organization with treasonous intent and ties to known terrorists. Mann thinks that this seems like quite a bit of conjecture and Wilson responds that McCrow and Fanboy flat out bought Dan a house the same week they decided to go public with national secrets.

            Mann doesn't have a response to that and helps Wilson lead Lucky Dan into his waiting cell. Still unsure of what's right or wrong, Mann turns to Wilson once Dan is locked in and says that Mrs. Brown was given Fanboy's number with instructions to call if Dan didn't return home and that Mr. Brown himself is armed.

            Wilson nods and says that if that's the case, she's too much of a threat to leave alone. He says that he'll have her picked up immediately.

            Murder flashes in Lucky Dan's eyes and he reaches for the .45 he tucked into his waist band. Mann however is like greased lightning and has his tranq gun out and fired before Dan's hand even wraps around the pistol grip.

            He did however forget who he was shooting at and everyone watches in a mixture of amusement and horror as the dart Mann fires ricochets off the bars improbably and lodges itself in Mann's own neck.

            "How...do you keep doing that? I'm...a..good....shot..." Mann trails off drowsily before passing out from his own sedative.

            Dan seems to be the only one not amused and opens fire at the unconscious Mann, still enraged at the betrayal of his wife after he'd cooperated. He's a terrible shot and his bullet goes wide, hitting the wall a few feet away from Mann. Michael immediately throws himself between Dan and the rest of the room and tells Dan that this definitely isn't the way to resolve this mess, that if this goes any further there will be nothing ANYONE can do to reunite his family.

            Dan thinks about it for a moment and then breaks down crying, dropping the gun out of his cell and sliding to his knees in defeat.




            We rewind a little bit and pick up literally as Dan is walking out of the house. His wife is already calling Fanboy in a blind panic and telling him that some guys from the DHS are taking Dan away. Fanboy tells her to wait there, that they'll be there as soon as possible.

            McCrow leaps into the driver seat of one of their faster cars and drives like a maniac towards Dan's house while Fanboy calls up Parks and demands answers. At this point in the day, Parks legitimately doesn't know what's happening but says that there's a good chance it might be Wilson again. They ask where Wilson is and Parks says that the only people who know that are his own men. Fanboy hangs up in irritation and they focus on breaking every speed limit they find.

            They just barely peel into Dan's neighborhood in time to see two black armored men loading Mrs. Brown and one of Dan's kids into a black van while the rest of the children scream in terror. McCrow and Fanboy leap out of the car and warn the soldiers to let Dan's family go while they still can.

            The man holding Dan's wife (hereafter referred to as Soldier 1) like a human shield opens fire on Fanboy with a heavy pistol while Roger disables the van by wrecking the radiator and using the scalding water within to bind the man trying to hold Dan's kid(now referred to as Soldier 2). Fanboy attempts to grapple the man holding Dan's wife and the man that McCrow engulfed in water manages to shake it off.

            The first soldier opens fire on Fanboy again, the second soldier extends his cattle prod and charges McCrow; knocking the hydromancer out cold with a single swipe. Fanboy manages to grapple the 1st Soldier and slams him face first into the van, next to Soldier 2. Roger's Droplets explode out of the car like a murderous wave at the sight of their 'daddy' lying there unconscious and swarm the soldiers.

            The kids and Mrs. Brown can't decide who they're more terrified of at the moment.

            Fanboy continues slugging it out with Soldier 1 while the Droplets swarm Soldier 2 and he attempts to swat them off with his cattle prod. This goes on for long enough that Roger eventually wakes up and stumbles to his feet, just in time to get a face full of mace. Luckily, McCrow has developed an amazing tolerance for pepper spray over the years and is only mildly inconvenienced.

            Fanboy eventually manages to grapple Soldier 1 and uses extra effort to hurl the man so far skyward that he loses sight of him for a minute. Soldier 2 attempts some knife play but proves grossly outmatched by the two superhumans. Fanboy holds Soldier 2 down while McCrow beats the hell out of him and eventually they hear an earsplitting scream that ends with Soldier 1 splatting down in the middle of the road.

            Solider 2 passes out from his beating while the Droplets finish off/partly eat Soldier 1.

            Fanboy digs into Soldier 2's mind with everything he has and pulls Wilson's address out of the man's head. He also finds that Wilson personally has 20 S.C.A.R. soldiers working for him and is guarded by half a dozen or so at a time. Considering the beating they took from two of them they decide that a frontal assault might be suicide and they need to be smart about this...




            McCrow and Fanboy dress in the S.C.A.R. armor and call up six Bradley clones and Richard Bronson to help out. One of the Bradleys help Mrs. Brown and her kids pack up and then escorts them to the Warehouse.

            Two more Bradleys truss up the surviving soldier with zip ties and stuff him in the trunk of a car. They're not sure if these guys might have some kind of crazy GPS tracking implants or anything, so they decide to drive around aimlessly until told whether or not they need him any more.

            Another two Bradleys are dressed in their own stolen S.C.A.R. armor while the last Bradley draws the short straw and gets to play the role of Mrs. Brown in their little caper. McCrow is very vocal on this point. Richard is assigned the role of Dan's oldest son.

            While McCrow changes out the busted radiator in the van, the Bradleys shave the assigned 'Female Bradley' and put him in one of Mrs. Browns dresses. They tape a pistol to his leg for quick access rig up zip ties to both Female Bradley and Richard's wrists so that they look bound but aren't actually.

            After they get everything together they take off in their stolen van like a bat out of hell to make it to Wilson's before anything can happen to Dan.

            When they finally do pull up in Wilson's secluded drive way Fanboy does some quick reconnoisance with ESP and finds a soldier walking the perimeter with one mean looking rottweiler, another soldier guarding the front door, two soldiers pacing around upstairs and a handful of men in the basement. Two S.C.A.R. soldiers are in the basement, along with General Wilson and a pair of men in suits, one of which Fanboy recognises as Agent Mann.

            Strangely, Agent Mann appears to be collapsed against the wall unconcious while the second man in a suit is positioning himself between the rest of the room and an irate Lucky Dan who for some reason appears armed. Whatever is said between them, Dan collapses onto the ground in despair as he drops the weapon out of his cell. ((Yeah, we tried to synch it up so that everything is literally happening at the same time Pulp Fiction style. Which means that Wilson's men already had orders to seize the wife and kids once Dan was out of the picture.))

            They throw a bag over the heads of Female Bradley and Richard so that nobody will get a good look at their faces and herd them into the house. The guy at the door nods them in since they're apparently expected and after another quick bout of ESP Fanboy determines that they're the only ones on the first floor.

            Female Bradley/Richard (who have been placed under the control of McCrow's player for this encounter) are unbagged and they quickly form a plan of attack. Richard will go upstairs and take care of the guards (because why wouldn't a kid with no control of his powers do better against the S.C.A.R. soldiers than two experienced heroes?) while the armored Bradleys (given to Fanboy's player for now) post up on the stairs to cover the front door, they're joined by the Droplets which were smuggled in inside canteens. Fanboy, McCrow and Female Bradley will go downstairs and liberate Dan; government be damned.

            Everyone takes their positions and it all happens at once.

            Richard runs upstairs to take out the S.C.A.R. agents but alerts one of them to his presence. The soldier moves in to take Richard down and Richard dances outside his reach, trying to summon his powers. The distraction of combat makes it difficult to concentrate however and he can't seem to generate any energy. The soldier clocks him in the jaw and Richard slams into the floor painfully. The soldier moves to restrain him but is struck by a bolt of electricity arcing towards the teen as the lights begin to flicker and Richard's lack of control threatens to turn deadly.

            Downstairs, Wilson looks up as Fanboy/McCrow escort Female Bradley (head bowed and eyes averted) towards the cells. General Wilson seems to consider this as pretty much just as planned and tells them to just toss her into a cell. Dan starts to freak out, but notices that it's definitely not his wife they've got and gets a little confused.

            "Now Bradley!" Fanboy shouts and before anyone can react, Wilson takes a small caliber bullet to the face. McCrow steps forward and draws out a considerable amount of water from Wilson's wounded form while Fanboy manages to grapple Michael before he knows what's happening and tosses him across the basement and into the pair of soldiers near the back wall. The throw turns out particularly well and amazingly one of the soldiers is taken out immediately.

            Michael (who's being controlled by Fanboy) climbs out of the confused tangle of bodies and fails his will save to avoid PTSD. He charges the length of the hallway and kicks Fanboy directly in the face, knocking him back a couple of steps and then following up his attack by grabbing the back of Fanboy's head and slamming his face into the steel bars of a holding cell. If not for his forcefield, Fanboy would be out of the fight.


            McCrow tells Female Bradley to unlock Dan and while Female Bradley rummages through Wilson's pockets for the key, Roger kicks Wilson in the face repeatedly with his combat boots. The last soldier opens fire on McCrow in an attempt to save his commander.

            Back on the first floor the armored Bradleys are in a two way fire fight, trying to hold off the guards from the second floor and the guards trying to come in through the front door. A monster rottweiler named Cerberus is spewing green fire all over everything and the Droplets are trying to drag the beast down and eat it alive.

            Cerberus absolutely hates the Droplets which nip and bite him at every turn and the rest of the house is suffering as he's made it his mission to just burn everything in irritation. One of the Bradleys takes a bullet to the throat and collapses on the stairwell, spurting blood and gurgling until he just sort of evaporates. The last Bradley seems panicked.

            The lights continue flickering and dimming as a loud hum begins to pervade the air.

            Back downstairs, Fanboy and Michael wrestle around. Michael is attempting to beat the life out of Fanboy and Fanboy is trying to turn Michael's brain off, but neither is having much luck with the rolls. McCrow stops stomping on Wilson's head long enough to dehydrate the last guard downstairs and Female Bradley frantically tries to unlock Lucky Dan's cell.

            Wilson staggers to his feet and starts laughing through the holes in his face. "I knew that if I gave you enough incentive, you'd come to me. I was hoping we'd get another chance at this McCrow."

            McCrow just stares at him blankly as General Wilson holds one of his hands up and a water pipe bursts, knocking McCrow off his feet and stunning him momentarily. 'Wilson's' skin begins to twist and stretch and he takes on several more inches and a severely burned appearance.

            "It's the ****ing killer!" Fanboy shouts, but is being immobilized by Michael and can do nothing as General Wilson/Warren Davis grabs him from behind. Fanboy feels his expanded consciousness quickly diminish and the force field protecting him from Michael's savage beating suddenly disappears.

            With a flick of his wrist, Wilson sends Fanboy flying out of Michael's hands and head first into the wall. Fanboy collapses for a moment stunned and Michael suddenly looks stunned, like a dog that's lost its chew toy. Wilson lays a hand on Michael's chest and the sudden shock of losing his immortality manages to knock Stockton out of his delusions and into the real world again.

            Everyone watches in horror as the killer's wounds begin knitting back together.

            McCrow begins dehydrating for everything he's worth, Fanboy stumbles back into the fray swinging a stolen cattle prod while Michael engages in a boxing match with the serial killer that ends up being pretty one sided considering the amount of raw athletic talent that Davis/Wilson's managed to steal over the last few months.

            Blows bounce harmlessly off the killer's stolen force field and what few manage to make it through are almost immediately healed thanks to his new regenerative abilities. The three way fight is going badly for the good guys and Bradley and Dan start to get involved but McCrow shouts to keep Dan the hell away from this guy.

            While all of this insanity is going on, Mann wakes up.

            He opens his eyes and Michael, McCrow and Fanboy are whaling on a man he doesn't recognize. Everybody's shouting about something or another and the drugs are making his head hurt and almost impossible to concentrate. Raising his tranq gun he fires wildly into he crowd. Fanboy takes a dart to the neck and passes out immediately, McCrow catches a dart but his system is so overloaded with foreign substances that it doesn't even stand out, Michael manages to avoid getting shot and the killer takes a dart but doesn't seem to mind.

            Roger leaps on Mann to stop the lunatic from taking out more of their men, Bradley opens fire but barely manages to graze 'Wilson', Michael continues exchanging blows with the monster but is getting his ass beat. Things are looking grim.

            The hum, audible upstairs, is suddenly roaring even in the basement and a brilliant flash of electricity, followed by a sound like thunder erupts from the upstairs and suddenly it's very possible to see daylight by looking up from the basement. Everybody is flattened, the house is gone, what little left is on fire...

            The killer decides that he's accomplished all he's going to today and launches himself into the air with his new found telekinesis, however Michael isn't ready for the fight to end yet. He grabs one of the killer's legs and pulls himself up to punch the guy directly in the sternum.

            The killer responds by elbowing Michael in the face and breaking his nose, Michael throws a volley of rabbit punches into the killer's liver that knock the wind out of his sails. The pair plummet towards the earth since the killer can't maintain his levitation with Michael whooping the whole way down like Slim Pickins on an H-bomb.

            The killer starts to come to just before they hit the ground and Michael responds by driving his fist into the bastard's nose hard enough to put him out again. They crash down directly into some unsuspecting family's home more than a mile away from where they began.

            Michael looks over at the broken corpse of his opponent and smirks when he sees the killer's broken neck and twisted back. He tries to laugh but nothing comes out.

            Nothing hurts, Michael realizes but he knows that he should. It always does. He can't turn his head to see the damage, but catches his reflection and notices that there's not much of him left; his insides are mostly on the outside now and it dawns on him that this is what shock feels like. Before, his nerves refused to stay dead and the pain would feel fresh until the wounds were completely healed, but this...he could get used to this.

            Rolling his eyes again he notices that the killer doesn't seem to be in such bad shape anymore. His head is on right side up all of a sudden and it looks like he can walk again. "Hell of a trick you've got there Michael. Thanks again for it." the killer says smugly. "Assuming they eventually scrape you up, give the rest of your friends my regards." he adds with a booming laugh as he strolls out of the room.


            Back in Wilson's basement. McCrow, Lucky Dan and Bradley sit there staring down the business end of Mann's .45 as Mann inches towards the stairs. The two sides stare intently at each other until a falling piece of timber provides a distraction for Mann to sprint up the stairs and disappear.

            McCrow growls and throws Fanboy's unconscious body over his shoulder, instructing Bradley and Lucky Dan to fish Richard out of the rubble. They're not leaving anyone behind...


            Mann's sharp eyes catch the final moments of Michael's descent and it doesn't take the agent long to track down his partner's location. The house is empty, the family that once owned it are butchered inside; Mann worries that Michael's responsible but it seems unlikely once he actually finds Michael.

            What little there is left of Stockton is wheezing bloodily and seems to be trying to whisper something. Mann keeps waiting for Michael to start regenerating and is more than a little confused when he doesn't. Eventually, he leans forward and just barely hears "Just...kill...me..."

            Genuine compassion is motivating Mann this time as he places his .45 against his former friend's head and pulls the trigger....







            Michael wakes up in a strange, otherworldly place. A twisted world of strange colors and flickering shapes, he finds himself drifting; unable to control his motion. He sighs as he drifts. "Great, I'm dead and in hell." he mutters, floating towards his inescapable destiny. He sudenly notices a diner that he and Mann had frequented several times in the past few weeks for lunch and realizes that he's still in Ventnor City. "Oh that's just great. I'm dead and trapped in New Jersey. When do I get to hell?" he mutters bitterly.

            Glancing around, Michael realizes that the concept of space is nearly meaningless in his new existence. If he doesn't focus on his surroundings he can see miles in every direction at once; the experience is disorienting. While the streets are mostly empty, he does see several inviduals in his immediate vicinity.

            A ghostly figure in a security guard uniform, a hulking biker with a caved in skull and a skinless mastiff the size of a pony are among the others he sees drifting westward with him. In the distance to the west Michael sees a pillar of eerie green light which seems to be the focal point of their journey. Letting his gaze drift free he sees dozens of others drifting with him but much further along, many of them he recognizes from his days as a guinea pig. The unfortunate souls who were put down when they sought freedom.

            Even further to the west, in the pillar of light itself, is a massive vaguely humanoid creature nearly 12ft tall with a skeletal frame, overly lanky limbs and tight, leathery skin similar to a mummy's. Michael focuses his attention on the creature as one of the drifting souls drifts too close; the creature's jaw distends obscenely and it engulfs a young black man with sharp fins on his arms and back. The creature seems slightly less skeletal, but all the more inhuman as its victim is absorbed.

            Michael is a little nervous at this point and the creature looks up, glancing around the damned spectres floating ever closer. A hollow voice whispers "You will all return to me that which is mine." and then Michael sits up.

            His face slams into the metallic ceiling overhead and he glances around, he's in complete darkness; naked and laying on a cold metal surface. It's not the first time he's woke up in a morgue so he wastes no time in kicking his drawer open and slipping out, finding himself in a room adjacent to the general testing chambers.

            Michael searches the room, hoping to find the clothes he was brought in with; but gives up when he realizes that they were probably too damaged to be worth saving. He decides to just brave the outside corridor in the buff until he can find his quarters and bolts out the door, slamming directly into a surprised Mann in the hall.

            Mann stares at Michael for a moment, glancing at a clipboard in hand and then back again. "You're lucky, we didn't think you were going to come back this time. It's already been two days. They sent me down to see to your...disposal."

            "My 'disposal'?" Michael asks bitterly, "The hell were you going to do, toss me in the furnace?"

            "You were dead, what would you care?" Mann asks pragmatically.

            "Well I got better." Michael growls "So why don't you make yourself useful and help me find some pants?"





            Two days prior...

            "Son of a bitch." Fanboy says groggily as he comes to in the car. Lucky Dan and the unconscious form of Richard Bronson are on opposite sides of him and a Bradley wearing a dress is in the front seat with McCrow. "What happened?" Fanboy asks, sitting up straight and looking around.

            Roger just shrugs. "S*** happened."

            Fanboy frubs his neck and finds blood there. "DID SOMEBODY SHOOT ME?" he asks in shocked confusion.

            Roger snorts, "Barely."

            Everything comes back to Fanboy in a flash and he starts cursing irritably; his mood isn't improved much when they show up at the warehouse and Prophet directs their attention to one of his screens. News crews are at the scene of their last battle and a surviving S.C.A.R. agent has given a fairly decent description of everyone involved, they're calling it an act of terrorism against a government facility. The death toll also seem to be grossly exaggerated.

            McCrow becomes red in the face with rage. "Terrorist!? They want to call me a terrorist? I'll show them a f-ing terrorist! WE'LL show them a f-ing terrorist! Where the hell's Tiffany?" he storms off cursing and ranting. "Tiffany!"

            Fanboy starts to panic, all of their good will is burning up before his eyes and there's nothing that they can do about it. They haven't released their names yet, but that's just a matter of time...

            Fanboy immediately calls Parks and tries to explain himself, but Parks cuts him off with a sigh. "It's over Samell. Whether you did or whether you didn't, it doesn't matter; I'm not in charge of S.C.A.R. anymore, they've given control over to Wilson and are keeping me and my men on for the time being purely in a support role."

            Fanboy tries to warn Parks that Wilson is actually the serial killer but Parks responds that it's the word of a group of accused terrorists vs the word of a highly decorated officer and multiple soldiers. Fanboy insists that Michel and Mann could clear this up, but Parks responds by telling Fanboy that Mann claims to have been unconscious for most of the fight and Michael is dead. Fanboy excitedly points out that Bradley was a witness, he shot General Wilson and watched him regenerate! Parks points out that either Bradley is lying, or he's admitting to the attempted murder of a United States military official; neither is going to curry much favor with the DHS. Parks also mentions that Roger's ranting in the background about 'Showing this city an act of terrorism!' isn't helping things.

            Fanboy exasperatedly asks if there's any way to prove that someone's a superhuman and Parks admits that there's none that he knows of short of invasive testing and he doesn't have the clout to pull that off anymore. Before they hang up Parks says that for what it's worth he believes them, but he's done all he can for them and is looking at losing his own career as a consequence. Fanboy says that if worse comes to worst, that Parks is welcome at the warehouse.

            Parks thanks him, but says that he's not sure if moving from 'Unemployed' to 'Aiding Suspected Terrorists' is a lateral move.

            Fanboy is disheartened but calls Finch, figuring that this is what they're paying the greasy bastard for in the first place. Fanboy quickly explains the situation and the blackhearted PR expert seems oddly unperplexed.

            "Is that all?" Finch asks with his trademark nonchalance. "They're claiming it was a government facility right? Well we're claiming it was a secret government prison (Fanboy points out that that's basically the truth and Finch replies that he won't let that hold him back) filled with dissidents. They claim terrorist attack? We say peaceful protest and an unfortunate gas line blockage. By the time the media knows who's side they're on we'll have backdated permits and 2 dozen professional sign carriers claiming to have smelled a gas leak before the explosion."

            "You can do that?" Fanboy asks incredulously.

            "You want to claim they opened fire on your little group? I'll get some bodies and video of-"

            "No, no..." Fanboy cuts him off. "Let's, umm...save that. What about the DHS, should we be expecting them to raid our compound?"

            "From what I hear, that lawyer Weisner is pretty good at this sort of situation; he'll keep the official stuff off your back. Of course from what you've told me, it sounds like this Wilson guy doesn't go through official channels. Keep sharp and stay out of sight until Friday. I'll remind people why they love you."

            "What happens Friday?" Fanboy asks nervously.

            "Friday is your coming out party. The mayor is going to be holding a press conference about the state of crime in this city. Don't know if you've heard, but several young men have 'tragically' been gunned down by a vicious group of bikers in the last week, I have it on good authority that these hooligans are going to have some choice words for our dear mayor." Finch explains.

            Fanboy is both comforted and disgusted by their continued association with the man.

            Fanboy decides to share Finch's reassurances with McCrow and walks in on Bradley filming the aging hydromancer threatening to show this city terror like it's never experienced before if they don't watch their mouths. He's ranting that when he decides to terrorise the city, IT WILL STAY TERRIFIED!

            Fanboy watches the spectacle in stunned silence for a moment and then wrestles Bradley for control of the camcorder. McCrow doesn't appreciate this attempt at censorship and throws himself into the fray with both fists. Fanboy's lack of powers makes this a fairly one sided fight, but McCrow relents when Fanboy says that he's heard from Finch.

            Fanboy explains the intricate web of lies that Finch is weaving for them and McCrow seems into it until he gets to the part about them being peaceful protestors.

            "That's slander!" McCrow shouts angrily. "Where does he get off pinning this hippy s*** on me?" McCrow continues to rant about Finch's solution and instructs Bradley to set the camera up again.

            Fanboy just groans and and shuts the door.





            It takes two days for Fanboy's power to return and as Finch instructed, they've spent this time inside; away from leering eyes and incriminating cameras. The cabin fever starts catching up to them fast and everyone swears that they're being messed with. Various personal objects disappear for an hour or two and then show up later in the strangest places. With all the kids running around (Lucky Dan's family moved in and has started bonding with Sandy and her kids) it seems likely that they're to blame, but nothing's been pinned on them yet.

            Everyone's worried and gossiping about their current situation when Depaliamo pulls McCrow and Fanboy aside to speak to them. He probes them about the killer and asks if it's true that this guy is murdering supers and taking their powers. They don't appreciate this line of questioning and start whispering that maybe Depaliamo needs another few months in their Hole to reaffirm his loyalty. Depaliamo grows pale and shakes his head. He inquires if this guy is really running the DHS now and their suspicion grows.

            "It's just...this guy's collecting supers right?" Depaliamo says nervously. "Didn't you turn over Johnny to DHS?"

            Fanboy and McCrow's eyes both widen and they stare at each other in shock as they remember the beating that Johnny casually gave them and picture the kind of damage that the killer could do if he decided to add Johnny's powers to his own.

            They aren't quite ready to settle the bad blood between them and Johnny on the Spot, but they know that they can't just leave him sitting in his cell. The discussion is short and unanimous: if the DHS is going to claim that they attacked a government facility and label them as terrorists then they aren't going to disappoint them.

            They mull over several plans to extricate Johnny, but decide against a full frontal assault since their reputation most likely wouldn't survive the wholesale destruction of a shopping center even with Finch's gift for spin. Instead, they settle on disguising themselves as shoppers and searching for an entrance on site.

            Fanboy dresses as casually as he can, but they discover that Roger apparently doesn't even own a shirt anymore, just two pairs of pants, an assortment of unflattering speedos, a pair of boots and a bullet riddled trench coat. "McCrow....you're a millionaire!" Fanboy says incredulously. "How the hell do you not own a shirt? What happened to that suit I bought you?"

            Roger just shrugs and says that shirts have a tendency to get bloody, he doesn't bother with them anymore. Fanboy starts to ask how the hell McCrow functions in society and then remembers their first meeting and has his answer. Poorly.

            They scour the warehouse for suitable clothes, but Fanboy is closest in size to McCrow and he's still about two off. When they finally load into their dark, windowless van; McCrow is sporting an Adventure Time t-shirt that hugs him a mite too snugly and exposes most of his navel. McCrow grumbles that he feels ridiculous, but Fanboy quips "We're going to Walmart, you'll fit right in."

            Once they arrive they start poking around every nook and cranny as casually as possible, trying to find the entrance to the base below. They're looking for a door that's locked and they find several, so they narrow their search to: A door that's locked and can't be kicked in by McCrow. They find only one of those.

            It's off to the side, down a hallway marked 'Employees Only' so they aren't too concerned with being spotted. McCrow wails against the door fruitlessly until his leg gets sore and he has to sit down. Fanboy heads to the grocery section and purchases two gallons of water, sneaking them back to McCrow who immediately sets to work creating droplets while Fanboy uses ESP to scout the area ahead; all he sees is an immense stairwell that extends beyond his sight.

            The droplets slip behind the door and eventually manage to undo the latch, allowing our heroes inside. They rush downstairs as quickly and as quietly as they can and by the time they reach the bottom McCrow is panting heavily and red in the face. Fanboy mentions that he might want to look into some cardio and McCrow responds with an incomprehensible wheeze and dismissive wave of his hand.

            They're so distracted arguing with each other that they barely notice the three S.C.A.R. agents walking down the hall that they just turned into. For a brief moment everyone stares at each other and then the soldiers shoulder their guns and open fire. Fanboy holds up his hand to absorb the first volley and Roger dives back around the corner and collapses to the ground to catch his breath and his droplets charge forward excitedly.

            Fanboy slams one soldier into another, knocking the wind out of both of them and the droplets take this opportunity to leap onto one of the fallen men and gnaw at him viciously. The uninjured soldier opens fire with a full-auto burst and one of his bullets grazes Fanboy painfully. Roger continues trying to catch his breath.

            Fanboy launches the uninjured soldier back down the hallway and into the wall, but the guy rolls with the blow and seems fine. The other two soldiers climb to their feet, one opens fire at Fanboy; the other attempts to shake off the droplets. Roger takes a glance around the corner but continues panting, a stray bullet blows through the wall next to him.

            Fanboy telekinetically grapples one of the soldiers, attempting to crush the man's throat and suffocate him. The other two men open fire and Fanboy stumbles back, his forcefield threatening to give. McCrow rests a hand against the wall and closes his eyes, searching for water inside.

            The soldiers open fire once again but one of them is hamstrung by one of the droplets, the man goes down with a shout that fades away to a pained gurgle as the second droplet bites savagely into his throat. Fanboy leaps behind cover to avoid the incoming fire and Roger erupts into his watery battleform, charging down the hallway with a roar.

            The soldiers open fire wildly into Roger's battleform and he collapses at their feet, his water rapidly becoming red around him. Fanboy attempts to grapple one of the soldiers, but has to dodge out of the way to avoid a volley of his own. The droplets continue eating the fallen soldier.

            One of the soldiers fires at Fanboy to keep him in cover, while the other puts another clip into Roger. Fanboy leaps out of cover and snatches one of the men, slamming him into a nearby wall to knock the wind out of him.

            The remaining soldier opens fire at Fanboy, but Fanboy uses a heropoint to negate his attack. The second soldier struggles against Fanboy's telekinetic grasp, but can't escape.

            Fanboy continues crushing his grappled soldier and the other slaps in a new clip and takes aim, however a thick liquid arm snatches the weapon out of the soldier's hand and Roger struggles to his feet.

            The unarmed soldier delivers a powerful front kick into McCrow, but his leg sinks into Roger's liquid form up to the thigh. Roger clamps down painfully and hurls the frightened man into the wall face first, stunning him as Fanboy continues force choking his man.

            As the soldier attempts to regain his feet, McCrow forces the barrel of the man's own assault rifle into his rectum with all the force his hulking form can generate. The man shouts in pain as McCrow's water form melts away, leaving Roger holding the rest of the gun. Fanboy's soldier finally passes out and he tosses the man aside, wincing at McCrow's display.

            "Damn, that's just-" Fanboy starts, but is interrupted by the sound of McCrow pulling the trigger.

            Roger's still panting and his shirt is riddled with fresh bullet holes, "That son of a bitch wouldn't stop shooting me." he growls, shaking with rage. "He could dish it out, but he couldn't take it."

            Fanboy almost begins a fresh argument with this line of reasoning, but realizes that they just got into a firefight in DHS HQ. He suggests that he and Roger should take a couple of S.C.A.R. uniforms to try and blend in and Roger agrees; although he has to mix and match since the uniforms are so damaged. The droplets are sent ahead to cause mayhem and the PCs change clothing quickly.

            As Fanboy finishes up, he notices that Roger is going from soldier to soldier with a boot knife; mutilating the faces beyond recognition. Fanboy asks what the hell he's doing and Roger points out that this way they won't know who's missing. He suggests that Fanboy start dressing them in THEIR clothes to throw them off the track even further.

            Soldiers are on the way, so Fanboy points out that time is of the essence. Roger reluctantly agrees, but bends down to disfigure the last face. Fanboy grasps his arm and tells him that this guy is still alive and McCrow says that that's the point. They argue for a brief moment, but Roger throws Fanboy off and before the telepath can react, it's too late to argue for the man any longer. Whoever he was, he's unrecognizable now.

            Roger wipes his bloody hands on the Adventure Time shirt and they continue down the hallway, hearing the sound of gunfire up ahead as apparently the droplets have found their targets.

            They recognise the area they're in as being adjacent to the testing chambers and quickly navigate their way to the holding cells; avoiding the approaching gunfire as best they can. The holding cells are currently unguarded and they begin peering into them, the first one they come across houses a thickly built creature that's more beast than man. It's raging at the walls and Fanboy notices that it's left several imprints of its face in the metal walls. He grins ear to ear and says that he'd like to get to know this guy.

            The creature turns around and notices the pair of them in their stolen uniforms. "Aren't you a little small to be a S.C.A.R. trooper?" it growls at Fanboy.

            "Are you with us, or against us?" Fanboy asks bluntly. The creature cocks its head and Fanboy continues "We're here to burn S.C.A.R. to the ground. Are you in or out?"

            The beastman laughs and nods. "Open my cage and I'll kill whoever you want."

            Fanboy shrugs, "Good enough." and with a flick of his wrist he tears the creature's door out of place. Before he can say a word the beast has burst forth and bolted down the hallway on all fours with a terrifying roar. The creature is going so fast that as it takes the corner it briefly runs along with walls and out of sight.

            The only other current occupant of The Hole is Johnny himself, who's sitting on his bed dejectedly. The crippled speedster glares at the pair when they approach his cell. "The f*** do you a-holes want? Come to finish the job?" he asks angilly.

            "Johnny, we're going to get you out of here. There's a psycho gunning for you." Fanboy explains, studying Johnny's cell door.

            "Oh, we wouldn't want that. What's he going to do? Blow up my home? Steal all my money? Destroy my f-ing knees and leave me a cripple? Oh wait, someone beat him to it." Johnny says with a sneer.

            Fanboy asks McCrow if Wilson could steal powers from a dead man and Roger just shrugs. Fanboy sighs and removes the cell door regardless. "We don't like this any more than you do you greasy guido bastard." Fanboy hisses, hoisting Johnny telekinetically. "You're coming with us, but give us a reason and your crippled ass goes into the ocean once we're out of here."

            Johnny grumbles but doesn't seem to doubt that they'd do it, so keeps any further opinions to himself. They flee back the way they came and McCrow attempts to call in a bomb threat to clear out the crowded shopping center above them; he finds that they're too deep underground to get a signal out.

            As they hurriedly turn a corner, they discover why the gunfire has stopped. Half a dozen S.C.A.R. soldiers lay scattered across the hallway, torn to shreds. The beastman is huddled over one of the fallen soldiers and is still raining down blows and snarling. Fanboy gets his attention to suggest he join them and for a moment, the creature seems to consider doing the same to him. It shakes its head and seems to clear its mind for a moment, before agreeing that it was time to go.

            McCrow suddenly has an idea and breaks off from the group. Fanboy demands to know what he's doing and catches McCrow tossing a lab, the older man is releasing propane and any other substance he comes across into the air and gets a wicked glint in his eye when he suggests torching the place.

            Fanboy thinks for a moment and decides that they're really in too deep to stop now, so he agrees. They go from room to room smashing anything that looks flammable and setting fires. McCrow also begins destroying random water lines to keep the sprinklers from working. They're pretty pleased with themselves, that is until and explosion rocks the compound accompanied by an earsplitting roar. The roof begins crumbling and they glance back before they leave, just long enough to see a man stumble out of the morgue bathed in flame. The man is screaming, though whether in pain or rage is impossible to determine, and plunges into a wall of flames; appearing to absorb them into himself, growing larger and more intense. By the time they scamper up the stairs the man is more than 12ft tall and only vaguely humanoid...and still growing.

            They take the stairs quickly, but when they emerge into the shopping center it's a raging inferno. A good portion of the floor has given out and the flames are spreading unnaturally fast.

            People are panicking, their escape is cut off and the heat is unbearable. Roger begins removing the S.C.A.R. armor and suggests that Fanboy does the same. Fanboy obliges but asks why they're stripping. Roger grins and says that he doesn't want S.C.A.R. to get the credit for this. Fanboy grins in return and slips on his mask.

            Tossing his body armor aside and standing barechested amidst the flames McCrow grits his teeth and forces a geiser of water to explode from the floor and ceiling, washing over the area and clearing a path outside. Fanboy uses his abilities to keep any nearby civilians from getting caught in a sudden collapse and two of them begin directing an evacuation of the building.

            They're surprisingly thorough and scour the store to make sure nobody is left behind, when they emerge carrying Johnny and covered in soot, a news crew swarms them. McCrow bows out of an interview and slips away to avoid being noticed; but Fanboy gives the camera a winning smile and says that wherever disaster strikes; he'll be here for the citizens.

            Somebody asks if the rumors that General Wilson has lobbed against them are true and Fanboy stares directly into the camera and responds. "Certain factions of the government are afraid of us. Afraid that we will make them redundant..make them useless. I don't blame them for being concerned with job security, but stunts like THIS," he says gesturing at the fire "Cannot be excused."

            The crowd erupts, many are cheering the heroes for saving the day; others are asking if the government is responsible for today's tragedy. Fanboy waves them off with a smile and causes a mass hallucination that allows him to escape without them even realizing it.

            Maybe blowing up a shopping center wasn't such a bad career move after all...





            "I'm glad you boys could join me." General Wilson says as Mann and Michael enter his office. The two men are confused because they thought Parks was the one who had called for them. They're both distressed to learn that Wilson is their new boss.

            The General moves to shake their hands and thanks them for their assitance the other day, Mann is as professional as always and downplays his contribution to driving off the terrorist faction known as McCrow and Friends; however Michael wears a visible scowl as Wilson tries to take his hand. Wilson asks what's wrong and Michael scoffs, saying that he's not in the habit of shaking the hands of men who have murdered him.

            Wilson seems taken aback for a moment and Mann frowns in confusion before Michael elaborates. "Do you not remember me? You ordered my death every day for six months. You turned my life into a science experiment and then got mad when I didn't break when you were done."

            Wilson is relieved that his secret is still safe and shakes his head sadly. "We try to do the right thing Mr Stockton, we don't always succeed. Regardless of how you feel about me however, I'm sure you'll agree that what we're doing NOW is necessary. Many of these superhumans we've accidentally unleashed on the public are monsters and MUST be contained. Take this case for example." Wilson says, tossing a folder of pictures on the table.

            Mann begins laying them out and sees an attractive young woman with dark hair and and a deep smile. The photos are an assortment from over the past few years and they're mostly your typical family outing pictures. The last one however shows her crushed, bloody remains smeared across a parking lot.

            "Her name was Michelle, what's left of her was buried on Wednesday." Wilson states plainly. "She was violated and beaten with more force than any human could generate, and we know exactly who did it."

            Michael and Mann look up from the photos, Mann's jaw is set in anger but Michael's rage seems to have been diverted by the gruesome images.

            "Six years ago this girl was a freshman in Professor Bryan Gerald's classroom. He coerced her into a relationship that ended with her in the hospital and charges being pressed against Gerald. He hasn't gotten over their time together. From some of the police reports she's filed over the years he seems to have blamed her for the loss of his reputation, job and family. Seems like he got his vengeance." Wilson explains.

            "How do you know it's him?" Michael asks.

            "We have a short list of people of interest from the crash; people who are believed to have escaped the crash before emergency crews arrived. We've been following him for a while now. It seems to have been time well spent."

            "We'll find him." Mann assures Wilson.

            "Make sure to bring him in ALIVE." Wilson stresses. "We need him for questioning."

            Michael cocks his head. "What kind of questioning?"

            "I'm not at liberty to say." Wilson answers.

            "Are you keeping here or offsite again?" Michael presses further.

            "Off-site. I've got a new facility being constructed as we speak." Wilson says, getting annoyed.

            Michael shakes his head "I don't like the thought of losing another prisoner due to lack of personnel, I really think that-"

            "Luckily, you don't have to like it." Wilson interrupts bluntly, "You just have to DO it. Now, consider yourselves dismissed."

            Neither Mann or Michael appreciate Wilson's attitude, but set out to find Professor Gerald regardless. They take what files they can find on him and requisition what they need for their assignment; Mann is surprised when Michael straps on a gun identical to his but Michael explains that after getting hit by Mann's sedatives, he's convinced that Mann can handle him if things get too rough.

            They track down Professor Gerald's home without much effort and are surprised to see the Professor casually exiting the building as they pull up. "Excuse me, Professor?" Agent Mann calls out as they approach. "We'd like to ask you a few questions."

            Professor Gerald stops in his tracks and asks how he can help them. Michael lies and tells the Professor that they have reason to believe that somebody is threatening his life and that they need to bring him in for further questions. Professor Gerald laughs and waves them off.

            Mann cuts to the chase and tells him that they have reason to believe that he's connected to the death of Michelle Gray and the Ventnor City Bus Hijacking. The Professor seems shocked for a moment and then smiles calmly, "How did you know I was on the bus?" he asks sheepishly.

            Michael admits that they didn't until now, but demands that the professor turns himself over to the authorities. The professor agrees and extends his hands in a gesture of submission. "Of course." he says pleasantly.

            They cuff Professor Gerald and lead him to their car, surprised at how easy it was this time. As they're loading him up, he gets chattier.

            "I knew that it was only a matter of time before we started making the news." Professor Gerald says as Mann starts the car. "I've been waiting for someone to show up for me ever since that young man, what's his name, Fanboy? Ever since he started making the news I just knew that someone would be coming for me." he says, sounding pleased with himself.

            "I'm surprised that he chose such a ridiculous name. He could have been our ambassador to you people, but instead he's just one more clown in the circus...." Professor Gerald continues, tsking.

            Michael snaps at him "Does this babbling have a point?"

            A strange sound starts to come from the back of the car, the sound of metal dragging against asphalt.

            "Oh, just making conversation. You know, I've adopted a moniker of my own." Professor Gerald says, his voice several degrees deeper than before. "Don't think me pretentious, but Bryan no longer seems fitting for one such as me. You may refer to me...as Cottus."

            "Who?" Michael asks as he glances back to see that the professor takes up the entire back seat at this point and is still growing. "Mann, stop the car!" he shouts and braces himself as his partner slides to a stop. The two of them leap out in time to watch their roof burst from the pressure inside.

            "Cottus." the growing form of the professor repeats, shrugging off the shell of the car as he continues to expand. "Forgive me, perhaps I should have chosen one of his better known brethren. Perhaps you are more familiar with the exploits of Briareus or Gyges?" his booming voice chuckles. The creature emerging from the car is nearly 30ft tall with 3 sets of arms; the first set is massive and thick; the second are leaner but still muscular and located under the first; the third are thin and gangly and protrude from his abdominals.

            Mann and Michael continue gawking as 'Cottus' finishes his transformation.

            "You know. The Hetaconchires? The hundred armed titans who assisted the gods ascension to Olympus?" the professor shouts exasperatedly.

            Mann and Michael glance at each other as they draw their weapons. Mann removes his tranq gun from its holster as Michael draws his .45 and the two of them start spreading out.

            "WHAT DO YOU PEOPLE EVEN DO IN SCHOOL?" Cottus bellows, red in the face as he hurls the broken remains of the car directly into Michael. Stockton is smeared over about 20ft of road before the twisted wreckage comes to a stop.

            Mann fires a tranq into Cottus's stomach but the hulking monster doesn't seem to notice. It does however perform a mighty leap towards Mann but the agent manages to roll out of the way at the last second. Meanwhile, Michael starts to crawl out of the now burning wreckage and starts popping bones back into place.

            Cottus lunges forward and snatches up Mann who responds by firing a dart directly into the brute's face. Cottus drops his victim and stumbles backwards a step, light headed. At this point Michael is back in the game and he opens fire with everything he's got. The bullets bounce off the titan's skin; but the intent behind them enrages Cottus all the more.

            In the blink of an eye Cottus has snatched Michael up in one massive hand and puts his fist (along with the hapless Stockton) through the brick wall of an adjoining building. The blow shatters every bone in Michael's body, yet he manages to mainain his grip in his gun. Cottus follows up his aggressive display by using Stockton to crush a car flat and Michael's new .45 gets lost in the commotion. Mann opens fire with his tranq gun again and despite Cottus's immense size, the drugs begin taking effect.

            Seeing that things could possibly against him, Cottus drops Michael and attempts to leap away. His system is sluggish and he barely manages to make it halfway up an adjoining building, he spends the rest of his turn climbing the building and Mann takes careful aim; firing once more. The dart catches Cottus in his big, bare ass and the monster collapses at the top of the building. ((I couldn't roll a Fort save to save my life as Cottus. Even re-rolling them I couldn't hit a simple DC17.))

            Michael can walk again and tells Mann to get them a transport while he finishes this. Mann places a call back to HQ and requests a helicopter to come take this thing away. Meanwhile, Michael runs up to the building and decides to climb to the top to continue the fight. He rolls a 10 and I tel him that he makes it just past the 1st window sill and warn him that this might take a while. His player laughs and says "I'm going to climb this building to kick his ass or die trying! I don't care how long it takes." The next turn he rolls a 3 and falls about 10ft, knocking the wind out of himself. He says "I give up, I'm just going to lay here; I'm sure Mann can handle things from here."

            Mann on the other hand decides to take the stairs and charges up them at full tilt. Once Michael realizes that the stairs might be the answer to his predicament gets up and charges after Mann. No sooner do they reach the roof than Cottus has regained consciousness and is shakily getting back to his feet.

            Mann raises his weapon to fire and Cottus interrupts him with a powerful overhand blow, squashing Mann like an irritating fly. Michael, realizing he's unarmed and that Cottus is on the rampage pulls out every ounce of his acrobatic talent to run up Cottus's lower body; nearly reaching his waist. Since a naked man has few accessible hand holds Michael makes do with what he has and bear hugs Cottus's...man parts.

            Cottus is obviously unhappy with this development, but it quickly gets worse as Michael swings his legs and uses the generated momentum to donkey kick the rampaging professor's testicles. Cottus gasps in pain and sinks to one knee, the sudden motion causes Michael to lose his grip and tumble to the roof.

            Michael lunges for Mann's tranquilizer gun but Cottus snatches him up first and with a wordless roar hurls the accident prone agent down the block where he bounces over and destroys several parked cars before coming to a rest as a bloody pile of meat and nerves.

            By the time Michael has recovered Cottus is gone and he makes his way back to the roof top to check on Mann, as he finally steps onto the roof he draws breath in shock.

            Mann is still laying where Cottus left him, most of his insides on the outside and suffering more broken bones than most men can name. Neither of Mann's legs are facing the same direction and his entire chest cavity is crushed obscenely. Michael drops down to check Mann's pulse, but discovers that Mann's right arm is no longer connected to the rest of him and his eyes have rolled up in shock. Mann's entire body feels like a wet sack of broken glass.

            Michael tries to think of something he can do, anything at all; but first aid was never his strong suit and his limited training has seemingly abandoned him after years of ignoring it. In the distance he can hear the steady 'whump, whump, whump' of Mann's requested air support and begins waving his arms wildly; hoping that someone more qualified that himself may be able to save his partner's life.





            For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The day that Roger McCrow and Samell Hamilton decided that they were too big to bow to the DHS, the DHS decided that they were too big to ignore. Thus was born The New Blood Project.

            Nobody knows how many prototypes have been produced, least of all the prototypes themselves; however know how many prototypes remain: seven. The final line of beta testing before The New Blood Project gives the world the supermen that it believes the world deserves.

            General Wilson personally greets the last batch of volunteers after a thorough physical; dividing them into pairs and congratulating them, pair by pair. The last pair he approaches consists of a emanciated asian man with greasy, unkempt hair putting on ragged clothing that smells of the street and a well manicured blonde man in an immaculately tailored suit; adjusting a neatly pressed silk tie.

            Wilson speaks to both men briefly, from his files he knows that the asian man's name is Adam Zing; a homeless man who'd accepted $50 and free lodging in exchange for participation in a project that (unknown to him) had a less than 50% survival rate. Surprisingly, the blonde man is Dr Steinz; a renowned psychiatrist who volunteered for the project out of the blue; his enthusiasm was suspicious but the project needed all the bodies it could find.

            Once the pleasantries are out of the way, General Wilson explains that they've passed their physicals with flying colors but the project still needs field testing before the project is considered a success. He tells the two men that he's contracted outside help to oversee their training and sends them down the hall to meet their supervisor.

            Several doors down, Mr. Zing and Dr Steinz find an attractive young woman milling about and she introduces herself as Tiffany. She skips the niceties and asks what they can do, her abruptness catches them off guard and she transforms into her diamond form. They stare at her with a little awe and with a flick of her wrist she sends a razor sharp shard past Mr. Zing's face; drawing blood (to her surprise, she didn't mean to hit him; but didn't apologize either) and opening his face. "What. Can. You. Do?" she repeats.

            Neither of them had explored the full extent of their powers, however Mr. Zing extends his hands and focuses his energy until a burst of air whips about the room; lifting a table and flipping it violently against the wall. She seems impressed and nods. They start calling him Mr. Amazing, whether patronizingly or endearingly it's hard to tell.

            Tiffany asks Dr Steinz to showcase his ability but Steinz declines, saying that whatever this project may have done to him, he believes that his true strength lies in rational discussion, leading to a satisfactory resolution for all involved. Tiffany decides that she doesn't like this pompous windbag and summons another crystalline shard to her hand, however Dr Steinz simply sighs and rests a hand on her shoulder; saying that violence among colleagues accomplishes nothing and urges her to seek a peaceful resolution to their disagreement, he points out that her diamond form is wholly unnecessary and that if they're to work together, their partnership should form from a place of mutual respect and trust; not fear and intimidation.

            She walks away shaking her head, hating the weenie more than before; but no longer in the mood to eviscerate him.




            They discover that Wilson has charged Tiffany (and by extention themselves) with assaulting the arms storage of a local mobster named Nicholai Chavenski. Wilson was very explicit that he wanted no survivors and the cargo intact.

            They requisition a truck from the garage and Tiffany forces Dr. Steinz to drive; saying that he's no good for anything else and she needs her hands free to murder. It doesn't take long for them to make their way to a barn just outside of town, eight men in overalls are unloading a massive truck while six other men stand guard around the perimeter, assault rifles drawn.

            It's impossible to miss their truck baring down on the property and the soldiers shout warnings to turn back; however Tiffany hangs out the window and sprays a volley of crystal into one of the armed men's chest; the man collapses to the ground, bleeding. The soldiers open fire with everything they've got and everyone but Tiffany ducks for cover, she simply lets the bullets drop off her like water off a duck. Several workmen take cover behind the truck while the rest bolt into the barn itself.

            Tiffany leaps out of their vehicle and suffers a barrage of bullets so severe that she stumbles back a step. Mr Amazing panics and tries to flee, to his surprise he transforms into a thick gas and slips out of the car through the bullet holes. Dr Steinz steps out of the car casually and approaches the soldiers with his hands up in a gesture of peace.

            "I'm unarmed gentlemen." he calls plainly. "As you can see, I'm of no threat to anyone; least of all yourselves. No, the ones you should fear are the murderers behind you; they would slit your throat to the last man if you give them the chance."

            Four of the armed soldiers grow panicked, spinning around and opening fire on their comrades behind the truck. Two are killed outright and the others leap down to avoid the spray of bullets, the rest of the workmen begin loudly barricading themselves in the barn. Tiffany lunges forward and seizes the last soldier in his right mind and snaps the man's neck effortlessly. Mr Amazing floats above the chaos and causes a powerful gust of wind which tips over the truck and crushes the men using it for cover.

            Dr Steinz approaches the barndoor and knocks politely. "You're putting up barriers between us, but you know that they're unneccesary. We all want the same thing; so please, drop your weapons and come out so we can talk this through."

            A single dissenting voice begins shouting, asking the rest of the workers what the hell they're doing and trying to talk some sense into them; the rest scoff and reply that everything's going to be fine. Tiffany pops open a crate to check what's inside and finds several high quality assault weapons with various accessories. Mr Amazing slips into the barn with his gaseous form and descends on the dissenter, cutting the man off from oxygen and causing the guy to pass out; allowing the rest of the workers to dig their way out in peace.

            As the workers inside file out, Dr Steinz steps aside and calls to the soldiers saying "You see how these men charge you? They have murder in their eyes."

            A quick volley of lead kills all but two of the workers who suddenly realize what's happening and charge back inside in a blind panic, one of them dives behind a crate for cover; the other huddles under a low shelf. Mr Amazing strikes the man behind the crate with a burst of wind and knocks him unconscious; Tiffany continues pulling apart crates, finding more guns in various models.

            "What's that man's name?" Dr Steinz asks one of the soldiers, indicating the man who fled further into the warehouse.

            "Joseph." one of the soldiers replies helpfully.

            "Ah, of course." Dr Steinz says with an appreciative grin. He suddenly looks worried and points at the four soldiers who have gathered in a circle behind him, he tsks. "Look at the man to your left. Now look at the man to your right. They're both traitors and mean to turn you in to the authorities." he says scoldingly.

            As Dr Steinz walks into the barn he hears four assault rifles bark repeatedly and four dull thuds, then silence.

            "Joseph." Dr Steinz calls out. "Joseph, please don't be afraid. I'm a doctor, I'm here to help."

            He hears a whimper and kneels down, glancing until he sees the trembling form of the last Russian. "Joseph..." Dr Steinz says with a pained sigh "I know that it hurts. I know that you're scared and confused and don't understand what's happening, but just listen to my voice and it will all be okay. Now take a deep breath. Good, good... Now NEVER exhale, alright Joseph? No matter how much it feels like you need to."

            Tiffany approaches as the Russian begins turning purple and asks what's going on. Dr Steinz waves her off dismissively and says that everything is fine. She orders Steinz and Mr Amazing to start loading the truck but he shakes her head, smiles and says "I believe it would go faster if YOU loaded it."

            Two hours later Tiffany has loaded all the crates she can into their vehicle and scowls at the useless men inside, glad she kept them out of her way but unsure of exactly why she didn't want them underfoot. She finds Dr Steinz sitting in the manager's office drinking a cup of coffee and paging through a magazine and Mr Amazing passed out on a couch, covered in chips and cookie crumbs. She tells them it's time to go and asks what they think they should do with the rest of the merchandise.

            Dr Steinz says that Wilson should be informed of it and leave it at that, but both Tiffany and Mr Amazing want to sell it. The problem is that neither knows anyone that wants it. Tiffany suggests selling it to the Russian mob, since they bought it once they'd probably want it enough to buy it again; but not even Mr. Amazing thinks that's a good idea; so she agrees to let Wilson's men come by later and pick it up.

            As they climb into the car however, she sends a text to Fanboy telling him to grab McCrow and come pick up some guns; she figures that she'll squeeze them for some cash later.

            The drive back is uneventful and Wilson is ecstatic to hear that they're combat ready. After getting everyone's description of the events, he says that they've even exceeded his expectations. He extends his hand and Tiffany takes it, he smiles broadly and she feels funny; but says nothing. Wilson turns to Dr Steinz who accepts the offered hand and also feels like he's suddenly missing something. Wilson offers his hand to Mr Amazing, however the addled homeless man doesn't like to be touched and just waves his appreciation back.

            Wilson tries to hide his disappointment, saying that they've done so well that he's going to give them each three days rest at a local hotel. He says that he doesn't want them to strain themselves so that the next leg of their evaluation will be accurate.




            Mr Amazing enjoys his downtime immensely, he empties the mini-bar as fast as they restock it; orders room service so often that he makes himself sick and when he leaves; does so with his pockets full of tiny bottles of liquor and various snacks.

            Dr Steinz spends his time catching up on work, letting his secretary know that he expects to return to practice within another week or so and assures her that his vacation is going swimmingly.

            Tiffany attempts to rob a jewelry store. I say attempts, because before her powers she was just a particularly daring shoplifter; after her powers she became a daring catburglar and successful smash and grab artist. She discovers that her powers aren't functioning properly and calls Wilson about it while still outside the store she just attempted to tear a hole in. He says that he'll schedule her a physical, but puts it off until the three days are up. By the time she's looked over, her powers are back and the physician says that it's most likely just her body adapting to all of the new changes.

            After Tiffany's checkup is over, General Wilson assemples her and the team and says that he has the ultimate test. Even Parks' lapdogs couldn't pull this one off. He explains to them that Doctor Luvless has been leisurely robbing a bank for the past two hours, for some reason he's just barricaded himself inside and keeps provoking the police. Wilson says that he's keeping the press out of this, but wants it resolved quickly and demands Luvless brought in alive.

            The team agrees and bolts off to save the day. Once they arrive they discover four of the black and gold Luvbots standing on the steps like silent guardians. They make no move forwards, however several bodies lay on the steps themselves and the police seem to refuse to go past a certain line. The cops fire off the occasional round, but it does nothing of any note and seems to ding harmlessly off the Luvbots.

            Tiffany approaches in diamond form and demands to know why the police aren't doing anything and they respond that they aren't throwing their lives away for nothing. She furrows her brow, snatches one of the officers and hurls him at the bank doors where he lands with a hard splat. Before he can even stand up one of the Luvbots fires off a ray point blank that leaves him as nothing more than charred ash.

            "Well that answers that..." Tiffany says with a surprised look.

            Mr Amazing turns into his gas form and rushes the steps, howevever his form is incorporeal, not invisible and the Luvbots fire; their superheated rays scorching even his intangible body. He slips into the bank itself and discovers Luvless sitting boredly, tinkering with a with a small sphere. Doctor Luvless looks up and smirks. "Well you're new." and tosses a pair of the spheres which quickly project a hard light exterior which becomes the familiar form of the Luvbots.

            Dr Steinz asks one of the still shocked officers if there's a back entrance and then heads around to try and force it open.

            Tiffany charges forward, smashing one of the Luvbots with a powerful blow as Mr Amazing suddenly decides that inside isn't where he wants to be and floats into an overhead vent. Dr Steinz finds the back door and attempts to kick it in, but accomplishes nothing. The Luvbots outside fire on Tiffany, scorching her even through her diamond exterior and Luvless fires up into the vents after Amazing, however he misses the homeless hero and instead blows a hole in the roof.

            Tiffany suddenly decides she doesn't want to fight the Luvbots (she hadn't fought them before and didn't realize how scary they were) and scampers up the wall everything she's got; just in time to see Mr Amazing fleeing from the hole in the roof. As they pass each other, Amazing shouts "You don't want to go in there!" and she glances down, seeing Doctor Luvless and four more Luvbots. Dr Steinz has found a pipe in the alleyway and is attempting to pry open the door, but accomplishes nothing.

            Mr Amazing smashes one of the Luvbots on the step with a personal tornado as he flies past them and beyond their range; Tiffany finds Dr Steinz and carries him to the roof; she tells him that she's going to jump down with him and then he can talk to the robots and make them stand down. Dr Steinz looks at her like she's crazy and tells her that he isn't some sort of magic robot whisperer. She doesn't listen and leaps down anyway.

            Dr Steinz hides behind Tiffany as she barely tanks the first wave of blasts from the Luvbots, he calmly explains to Doctor Luvless why the good doctor should take a nap, but Luvless shakes the mental control off and laughs appreciatively at the attempt. Tiffany throws a crystalline shard into Luvless's knee that stops his laughter dead and nearly makes him collapse.

            Mr Amazing continues directing his tornado to smash Luvbots on the outside while dodging their fire. Doctor Luvless fires at Dr Steinz with his Powerstaff, missing the gabby psychatrist and putting a new hole in the wall. The rest of the Luvbots open fire and Tiffany lunges forward, slicing through one neatly. Dr Steinz looks at Luvless's staff and has an idea.

            "Doctor Luvless, doctor to doctor; your contraption intrigues me. Obviously that's more power than any one man can control, wouldn't you like to share the burden for a bit?" Dr Steinz asks pleasantly. Doctor Luvless doesn't know why, but tosses the staff to Steinz; happy to be rid of it. Tiffany immediately shouts for Steinz to use it, but after looking at the dozen different buttons on it Steinz refuses. She asks why and he says that it's because he's a doctor and thus smart enough not to press random buttons on a strange device.

            Tiffany lunges onto Steinz and plucks the staff from his hands greedily. She presses a random button and immediately begins to levitate; she cackles with joy. Dr Steinz is red in the face, he nearly stammers but finds his voice and says as calmly as he can manage "You need to give me the staff so that we can capture Doctor Luvless once and for all."

            Tiffany agrees, though she's not sure why, and tosses Steinz the Powerstaff; however Steinz' distraction allowed Doctor Luvless to break free and he responds by extending a golden gauntlet. There's an indescribable pull and Steinz has the staff yanked from his hands, Luvless snatches it easily and smiles.

            "Thanks." Luvless says and with the press of a button he's simply gone.

            Both Steinz and Tiffany just stare at where he used to be, nearly slackjawed as Mr Amazing finishes the last of the Luvbots outside. The Luvbots inside begin opening fire and Steinz rushes for the door, abandoning the hostages inside, as Tiffany suffers the brunt of their attacks. As Steinz runs out the door and Mr Amazing is going in Steinz shouts over his shoulder "Don't go in there!"

            Mr Amazing smashes a Luvbot inside, providing Tiffany the chance to also abandon the hostages and bolt out the bank door after Steinz. Dr Steinz gets to their car first, leaps behind the wheel and manages to get it cranked and in gear just before Tiffany reaches him. As he's pealing off Tiffany fires a crystalline spray that shreds the side of the vehicle and nearly pops his tire. Tiffany begins cursing and pointlessly runs after him, forgetting all about Mr Amazing still in the bank.

            It's a harrowing fight, but Mr Amazing manages to rally the police, storm the bank; kill the Luvbots and free the hostages without any further injury. He's hailed as a hero all around although he doesn't show his true form, afraid that the public might turn away from him if they find that he's one of the homeless.



            Dr Steinz barges into General Wilson's office, incensed. "That woman is THE MOST unprofessional, trecherous mercenary I've ever met. I REFUSE to be placed under her inept supervision."

            General Wilson looks up from his papers at the unhappy doctor and stands to face him. "You will go where I assign you until the project is officially over. I don't want to hear anymore about-"

            "You will reassign me to a professional for the remainder of my term. You don't want to waste talents such as mine on a B-list hit-crew." Steinz says calmly and forcefully.

            General Wilson stares at the doctor for a moment and tells him to sit down. Dr Steinz starts to repeat his 'request' and Wilson barks. "SIT DOWN!"

            A vacant look goes over Dr Steinz' face and he flops to the ground without really knowing why. He looks around himself in confusion.

            Wilson's face cracks in a predatory grin. "You will learn some respect Steinz. Although I do agree...you seem to be wasted as a prototype. Luckily for you, an opening has just appeared and I think you're the perfect man to fill it."

            As Wilson helps Dr Steinz to his feet he says "Report first thing in the morning and I'll introduce you to your new partner. A fella named Stockton. I think you'll like him."

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: "Let's Get This Straight, You're The Sidekick!"

              Sessions 13-16


              It's been four days since Mann's misfortune at the hands of Cottus and Michael finally gets a call from Parks letting him know that his partner made it through surgery if he'd like to visit. Stockton would and stops by the hospital on his way into work.

              Michael finds Mann's room without much trouble and walks in, physically shuddering at the sight before him. Mann is heavilly bandaged from the head down, only a single eye remains free, blood red from the trauma and overly dilated from the drugs in his system. Mann's right arm is simply missing and Michael can tell from the way the sheets drape about him that his legs are gone as well.

              Mann's ranting through a drug filled haze about monsters and conspiracies and doesn't seem to notice Michael standing nearby. Stockton makes no attempt to speak to his former partner, he just stares at what's left of him with a silent horror until the door opens and General Wilson walks in.

              Every fibre of Michael's being wants to hit this man on general principle, but he manages to control himself and exchanges meaningless pleasantries instead. Wilson approaches Mann and gets his attention after much effort. Several times Mann falls back into a drug induced rambling, but Wilson somehow manages to keep him lucid in the end.

              "Agent Mann, you've had a horrible accident in the service of your country; but I'm here to let you know that it doesn't have to be the end. Of your life..of your career...of anything. WE can repair you Mann, you could be fit to return to duty within a month!" Wilson offers, "You'd be a prime candidate for the culmination of the New Blood Project."

              Mann's quiet for several minutes, staring at Wilson with his bloodshot eye. "Sir...I..." he starts quietly, shaking his head and then furrowing his brow in disgust. "Sir, you can shove that offer up your ass." he whispers angrilly. "Dying I don't mind...but I'll never be one of your monsters."

              Wilson shakes his head disappointedly. "That's too bad Mann, I was really pulling for you. I'll come back again when you're feeling better to see if you've changed your mind. I'll have the new staff psychiatrist have a few words with you; perhaps you'll see things our way then." the General says with a devious smile.

              Wilson leaves just as Parks is entering the room. Parks asks Michael if Mann is still conscious and Stockton replies that he comes and goes. Parks nods and asks that Michael give them some time alone, Mann had been his go-to agent for years and Parks feels responsible for everything that's happened.

              Michael understands and leaves without any further adieu. In the hall, the meets a tall, blonde man in an expensive suit waiting in the hallway. Michael asks what the hell he's doing there and the man introduces himself as Dr. Steinz; he explains that he's there to talk some sense into Agent Mann. Michael growls and says that Mann's in no mood for this and tells Steinz to piss off.

              "Mr. Stockton, I assure you that I'm only here in his best interests. I'm sure after a brief chat he'll-" Steinz is suddenly interrupted by a forearm in his throat, pressing him painfully against the wall.

              "Mann doesn't want the procedure. End of story." Michael says plainly. "If you co-erce him into anything, I'll break your neck. Hell, if you BOTHER him then I'll break your neck just to be safe."

              Steinz raises an eyebrow "I don't believe that General Wilson would appreciate you undermining his orders."

              "There's lots of things I don't appreciate about General Wilson." Stockton says, releasing Dr. Steinz and leaning against the door to Mann's room. "And until he sends someone that can do something about it, I really don't care how he feels on the matter."

              Steinz straightens up his suit, apologizes for the miscommunication and leaves without another word.





              After setting fire to and subsequently saving a Walmart, our heroes have pretty much sat tight in their warehouse. Which is probably why they've noticed the strange happenings so well. Random items disappear for days at a time, only to reappear exactly where they were lost; doors open and shut and/or lock/unlock themselves. It's annoying, but minor.

              That is until the Beastman runs howling and whimpering from his room with 2nd degree burns and ranting about getting burned by 'that skeleton bitch.'

              When Fanboy hears this, he groans loudly. "Ohh....not that skeleton bitch." but McCrow (having never seen her in action) dismisses hauntings as ludicrous and points out that the Beastman is obviously drunk off his ass. After taking a moment to make sure that nobody's gotten into his personal liquor, he searches the warehouse for a source of open flame that the (apparently) stupid Beastman could have burned himself on.

              He finds only a pack of cigarettes in Johnny's room/cell and a hotplate with chili on it in Lucky Dan's room. McCrow declares that all smoking must now be done outside (except for Johnny, who's not allowed outside. He's just no longer allowed to smoke.) and that all cooking must be pre-aprproved to avoid future fire hazards.

              Fanboy promptly reverses these rulings behind his back, trusting in McCrow just forgetting about them in a day or so. Except for Johnny, apparently he's still upset about Johnny on the Spot sucker punching him and doesn't feel like crippling the former super speedster was enough of a punishment.

              The days tick on and while they're managing their home life, they get a call from their PR agent Finch who reminds them that tomorrow is the big day. He tells them to shine their costumes, get plenty of rest and prepare a snappy one liner or two for the cameras. He tells them that the mayor's press conference on organized crime is at 11:00am, and that the festivities will begin around 11:15.

              Fanboy spends the rest of the day grooming himself and practicing his speaking voice. McCrow decides to have a little drink to celebrate, and then another...and another...and another...

              By the time 11am rolls around McCrow is pretty well smashed and still hasn't been to sleep. The crowd gives him a wide berth and dirty glances as he shouts random profanities towards the stage. Fanboy has wisely decided to avoid direct contact with him.

              The mayor's speech revolves pretty heavily on the senseless violence that has plagued the city lately, focusing especially on the biker gangs which have begun terrorising citizens for their own amusement.

              As if on cue (and knowing Finch, they are) a group of nearly 20 bikers burst onto the scene. Half of them are wielding pipes, wrenches and chains and drive around/through the crowd; coralling the civilians and striking them down. Six bikers pull into position near the mayor's podium and begin opening fire with pistols, the mayor's police escort is killed instantly. Four more bikers with assault rifles spread out among the perimeter; alternating between shots into the crowd to keep them panicked and shots at the mayor to shut him up. They're all shouting about the murder of their brother, John Hurt aka Baritone.

              Immediately Fanboy discards his civilian clothes and leaps to the air in a dazzling telekinetic display, he lands in front of the podium and demands that the bikers drop their weapons. Bullets ding harmlessly off of his forcefield. McCrow steps out of the crowd and clotheslines one of the melee bikers, breaking the man's neck instantly, McCrow quickly snatches up the man's pipewrench.

              The bikers continue their assault, the mayor takes several bullets; two are absorbed by his hidden vest but another manages to take a chunk out of his shoulder. Fanboy attempts to grapple a pair of the man with assault rifles, but fails to connect; using a hero point he instead snatches up three pistol users and tosses them into the stage; knocking them unconscious. McCrow lunges at another of the melee bikers, bringing his wrench down with both hands and splitting the man's helmet and skull like an overripe melon; still using his momentum he spins around and connects with the face of a second biker, more or less removing it and with a mighty roar releases the wrench mid-spin where it whistles through the air and slams into the spinning wheel of a bike, stopping it in its tracks and tossing its rider facefirst onto the ground.

              The remaining melee bikers dismount and half rush the stage while the rest rush McCrow, one manages to strike him but the injury isn't very severe. The assault rifle carrying bikers move into a more advantageous position, one opens fire on McCrow but rolls a 1 and takes out one of the bikers attempting to fight him instead. The rest open fire on the podium where Fanboy's forcefield struggles to resist their attacks, the pistol carrying bikers rush the stage as well.

              Fanboy grapples the melee bikers and uses them to knock out one of the remaining pistol carrying bikers and McCrow connects with a haymaker to one of the two remaining melee bikers near him, knocking him out cold. Before the man can even collapse, McCrow grabs him by the collar and spins him on his feet, slamming into the remaining melee biker with the man's helmet with enough force to break ribs; with an intense effort he staggers a step or two forward and tosse the unconscious biker into the man with an assault rifle knocking him out.

              One of the assault bikers manages to open fire on McCrow and wounds the enraged brawler while the rest fire at Fanboy still, along with those with pistols. Fanboy responds by casually sending the remaining bikers with pistols flying and McCrow charges his attacker with a wordless scream, knocking the man down and straddling him to better rain down blows.

              Fanboy uses one assault biker to knock the other unconscious and then begins checking on survivors as best he can. Once McCrow's hands start to hurt, he stands up from the bloody form of his victim and lights up a victory cigar.

              The press begin swarming Fanboy, asking questions such as how he responded to the crisis so fast and just generally fawning over him. Fanboy explains that he never misses one of the mayor's speeches, especially when it concerns his precious city. When Elizabeth Ingles (their go-to reporter) asks if he has anything to say to his fans at home, he responds with "I had somehing clever to say Elizabeth, but in all the excitement I forgot it."

              The crowd laughs appreciatively.

              Only a single reporter calls out McCrow while he's smoking, an elderly man from one of the less popular networks. "Sir, that was amazing! I've never seen such bravery!" the reporter says excitedly. McCrow simply grunts. "Erm...yes. I don't suppose you'd like to answer a few questions?" the old man asks. McCrow grunts again. "First off sir, who ARE you?"

              McCrow looks at the camera and simply says "McCrow." before taking a long drag off his cigar. The reporter waits for him to elaborate, but McCrow simply exhales a burst of smoke into the offered microphone.

              "What possessed you to get involved in such a dangerous situation?" the reporter asks.

              "Punks needed their asses beat." McCrow replies, again simply staring into the camera rather than elaborating. The reporter moves to ask another question, but McCrow's already started to wander off, bored and losing his buzz.

              Fanboy gets congratulatory calls from Finch and his dad, his dad is so proud of what he's apparently become and Finch is urging an increase in marketing presence to build the brand, they settle on the slogan 'Save the city.' plastered over Fanboy's face and Finch says that he'll start getting shirts, posters and general graffiti out on the street ASAP. McCrow gets a barrage of calls from estranged family who just saw him murder men on live T.V.

              Ben McCrow is the first to call and Roger is full to burst with emotion and scotch. "Did you...did you see me son? I'm famous! I'm a hero! This is our life now, get used to it!"

              "Dad...are you drinking again?" Ben asks in concern.

              "Yes son, but it's alright! I'm famous! Everything's alright! This is our life now!" McCrow slurs excitedly.

              "Dad, that was insane! You could have been killed! You could have-" Ben is interrupted by Roger shouting that his oldest son Franklin is on the other line and that he'll three-way him in.

              He has no idea how to actually do that, so he hangs up on both children and in a state of rage shouts that the phone had no right to cut off on his kids like that. He smashes it against the side of a building as he stumbles along and drags another bottle out of his newly acquired sack'o'booze.




              Fanboy picks up a now drunk Roger McCrow about a block from the ABC store and drives back to the warehouse with barely constrained excitement. When they burst into the warehouse however, their excitement becomes worry. The place is deathly silent and only a single person is waiting to meet them, the cloaked form of Doctor Luvless who gives a soft golf clap and congratulates them on their new fame.

              They tense up, ready for a fight but Luvless waves them off and holds up his hands; showing that he's unarmed. "No need for that gentlemen, no need for that." Luvless says with the patience usually reserved for children or the mentally disabled. "I've come here to ask a favor."

              "Are you insane?" Fanboy stammers. "The last time we met you nearly burned me to death!"

              Luvless shakes his head "Water under the bridge, I hold no animosity towards you for any of that." the super-genius says with infuriating sincerity.

              Fanboy squeaks wordlessly, feeling an aneurysym coming on.

              "I'll be blunt." Doctor Luvless says, cutting off Fanboy before he can rant. "My recent criminal exploits have been purely to test the effectiveness of my Luvbots and I believe that they're now perfected. However my testing methods have rubbed some people the wrong way and some poor, misinformed souls have labelled ME as a terrorist. This has obviously affected my customer base..."

              "What the hell do you want from us?" Fanboy asks, genuinely confused.

              "One hundred million dollars." Luvless says flatly. "Or rather, I want you to help me secure one hundred million dollars. It occurs to me that if the DHS were to see how truly ineffectual their human soldiers were against the growing superhuman menace then they, and by extension the U.S. government, may be inclined purchase a few of my Luvbots. I've got about 3,500 of them sitting around and I believe that you can vouch for their effectiveness."

              "Hell. No." Fanboy says shaking his head. "We don't deal with the DHS anymore and neither should you! General Wilson is a power stealing serial killer, if you get within arm's reach of him he'll add your powers to his collection."

              Luvless smirks "I appreciate the concern, but he doesn't worry me. I can assure you that I won't be foolish enough to fall to his tricks."

              "You have no idea how dangerous he is, he's got my powers AND McCrow's!" Fanboy exclaims.

              "As I said," Luvless says, "I'm not concerned."

              "You cocky son of a bitch!" McCrow shouts, suddenly a part of the conversation. Luvless doesn't even have time to turn around before Roger punches him in the back of the head so hard he throws himself off balance. Luvless shatters into thousands of colorful shards which disappear as quickly as they appear and leave a small metallic sphere in his place.

              McCrow sits on the floor in confusion for a minute or two before the sphere comes back to life and Luvless reforms.

              "Can you please do something about him?" Luvless asks annoyed.

              Fanboy jerks a hand upstairs and says "Go to sleep McCrow, you're drunk!"

              McCrow has a hard time crawling back to his feet so he grudgingly agrees that he is drunk and should go to sleep, but makes sure that everyone knows that he's going to sleep because HE wants to, not because Fanboy told him to.

              "What do we get out of this?" Fanboy asks Luvless as Roger literally drags himself upstairs.

              "A favor for a favor." Luvless says with a shrug. "I do something for you, you do something for me. To sweeten the deal, I'll even throw in 5% of the final sale."

              Five million strikes Fanboy as a nice incentive, but he has no desire to beef up the DHS's capabilities. He asks if Luvless will agree to program his bots to be unable to affect them if they help him with this and Luvless agrees. Fanboy tells Luvless that he'll help sell the bots, but he won't deal with the DHS.

              Luvless says that he doesn't care WHO buys, just so long as they buy and tells Fanboy how to get in touch with him as well as how to use the sphere to effectively summon him, he then deactivates himself.

              The next morning Fanboy explains the situation to McCrow and Roger immediately wants more money. "5%? 10% is an outrage I don't get out of bed in the morning for a measly 15%." (I don't remember exactly how McCrow worded it, but he convinced himself that he deserved 25% of the proceeds in the end)

              McCrow summoned up Luvless to renegotiate their terms, but repeatedly failed to up their percentage. He eventually settled on trying to sell 2,000 Luvbots for $150 million behind Luvless's back and pocketing the difference instead.

              Their first call was obviously Chavenski and the Russian was immediately interested once he heard them mention Luvless tech (hereafter called Luvtech for short) for sell. He arrives within the hour and they give him a short demonstration of the Luvbot's capabilities using the sphere that Luvless left them.

              Chavenski can't say enough good things about what he sees, so they're a little disappointed when he only orders about six million dollars worth of Luvbots. However he does promise to get in touch with some of his other international contacts on their behalf.

              The PCs thank him and start trying to brainstorm ideas to help them in their new position as international arms dealers.






              General Wilson has summoned Michael and Dr Steinz to his office and as they wait to be admitted, they converse in his waiting room.

              "Mr. Stockton, I hope you're not still upset about that business at the hospital." Steinz says with a pleasant smile. "If we're to be working together, I hope we can at least be civil."

              "Piss off blondie, you might live longer." Michael replies dismissively.

              "Excuse me?" Dr. Steinz asks, "Is that a threat?"

              Michael shakes his head. "Just an observation. Mann was the biggest hardass I ever knew and this job chewed him up and spit him out. What chance do you really think you have? I'll be shocked if you survive the day."

              Steinz smiles politely "I appreciate the concern friend, but I assure you that I'm capable of defending myself, should the need arise."

              Michael smirks "Oh, the need will arise and I can guarantee that when it does; you're going to die. Nothing personal, I mean it happens to the best of us. Happened to Mann, hell it even happens to me from time to time."

              "But Mann isn't dead, only incapacitated." Steinz corrects him.

              "If you call that living, then more power to you. I lived that life and I'd RATHER die then go back." Michael says sullenly.

              Before their conversation can continue, Wilson's secretary buzzes them in and the General greets them as they enter. Once they take a seat he leaps straight to business.

              "Gentlemen, as you know, we've been experimenting with superhuman production for a while now. Michael, I'd say that you would remember Project Ascension pretty well and Dr. Steinz has recently graduated from the more refined New Blood Project." General Wilson begins, halting only long enough for them to nod their agreement. "Some of our applicants grow dissatisfied with our strenuous testing procedure and decide to abandon their duties prematurely... As you can imagine, this is something we like to dissuade."

              "Oh f*** this," Michael blurts out. "Just let them leave! What does it matter if you have a few less guinea pigs?"

              "These 'guinea pigs' as you call them, represent a considerable tax payer investment!" General Wilson snaps, slamming his fist down. "We made them, we OWN them MICHAEL and don't you forget that!"

              Steinz is taken aback by the General's frankness and Michael asks him if he sees what he has to look forward to as a government lapdog.

              "Dr. Steinz has a contract Michael, same as you. Once you fulfill YOUR end of the bargain you'll be free to go about your lives as you see fit." General Wilson says coldly.

              "And when will I fulfill MY end?" Michael asks.

              "When I say you have." Wilson snaps. "If you don't like it, you're free to return to The Hole. It's occurred to our doctors that there's a few dozen execution methods we haven't tried yet."

              Michael grits his teeth and decides to shut up.

              "As I was saying, we have four runners who need to be brought in. Greggory Mallard, Gino Tortelli, Tina Xiao and Lonnie Miller." General Wilson explains, the civility having returned to his voice. "They decided to use their trial run as an opportunity to escape."

              "I'm assuming you've already checked with family?" Dr. Steinz asks.

              General Wilson nods "Yes, we did the usual song and dance though they were less than co-operative. I expect that you'll be more persuasive."

              With that they're dismissed and Steinz looks over their various charts for contacts. He decides to start with Greggory Mallard's wife and finds Lisa Mallard at home in a small apartment on the north side of Ventnor City.

              She's a young, blonde lady with a look of exhaustion and worry about her. They ask her all of the usual questions and she denies any knowledge of his whereabouts, but Steinz pulls her aside and explains that Greggory is very sick. He's undergone experimental treatment and without his follow-up treatments, he'll die.

              He manages to get it out of her that Greggory has been holing up in a parking garage and that while she doesn't know what sort of powers he has, she is aware that he's not entirely human any longer. Steinz confers with Michael for a moment about the best way to proceed and they agree that Mrs. Mallard doesn't know enough to be a security threat. Dr. Steinz offers to use his powers to muddle the woman's recollection of events and Michael agrees that that might be best. Steinz asks him to wait in the car, doctor patient confidentiality and all that, and Michael rolls his eyes but agrees.

              "Mrs. Mallard, I'm going to help Greggory; don't you worry." Dr Steinz says as Michael leaves them alone, "But first, I'd like to help you. I'm a doctor you know. I've even got a prescription pad and I'm going to write you a prescription now. It's my professional opinion that you need to go to the medicine cabinet...and take everything in it. Then have a good night's sleep and call me in the morning, I'm sure that everything will turn out right as rain."

              Lisa agrees that this is a fantastic idea.

              Dr. Steinz leaves Mrs. Mallard to her fate and returns to the car.

              "Did it work?" Michael asks, annoyed at the delay.

              "Oh, definitely." Dr. Steinz says cheerfully. "I can guarantee that she won't tell anyone about Greggory or us."


              The drive across town goes smoothly and they stake out the garage for a few hours until traffic dies down. It's a six story structure, but has few places to hide; so their search passes quickly. They discover a locked stair well on the 4th floor and Steinz asks Michael to take care of it, stating that he's had some difficulty with such activity in the past.

              Michael looks at him for a moment before drawing his .45 and blowing out the lock.

              "Subtle." Steinz remarks.

              "Shut up new meat." Michael retorts, kicking in the door and doing a quick sweep.

              The immediate stairwell is empty, but they can hear four voices coming from below; three male and one female. Michael raises his gun and quickly begins descending the stairs, until a shout from Steinz makes him turn around.

              A thickly built, dark haired young man is standing between them; Steinz recognizes him from his file and says "Mr. Mallard I presume?"

              Greggory presses a button and his switchblade extends in response.

              Michael sees three people coming up from below, a disheveled asian girl with a red streak in her hair; a tall, emaciated man in his 60s with large open sores spaced every few inches over his entire body and a short, fat, balding, middle-aged man in a poorly fitting (not to mention dirty as hell) suit who's panting from his exertion.

              "There's nothing to see here ladies and gentlemen, you can go back to sleep or whatever it is you were doing." Steinz says pleasantly. "We're just here to talk to Greggory."

              The girl is the only one who turns to go back down, but the tall man with the open sores grabs her by the arm and seems to physically shake Steinz's control off of her as he drags her up the stairs. "It's just a trick, shake it off." he says hoarsely. She doesn't seem to understand at first, but as Steinz confidence is shaken, she snaps out of it.

              "You a**holes need to stay where you're at!" Michael shouts, brandishing his gun. "You have no idea what you're getting into."

              The fat man chuckles and rolls his eyes. "It's four against two and your partner's unarmed." he says as they reach the top of the stairs. Michael notices that the fat man is rolling a nickel around in his hand nervously.

              "Then I guess it's a good thing that I'm a highly trained, invincible killing machine and you're a bunch of gutter trash." Michael growls threateningly.

              "You're forgetting something." the asian girl says with a smile.

              "Oh? What's that?" Michael asks, dividing his attention between Greggory and the group. In a flash, Greggory leaps forward and touches Michael, who suddenly finds himself on the parking garage roof. Before Stockton even realizes what's happening, Greggory Mallard has disappeared once again.

              "Oh yeah..." Michael murmurs. "The powers."

              Back downstairs, Steinz finds himself outnumbered 4 to 1. He starts to open his mouth, but the tall man with all of the sores leaps forward and grabs him by the throat. Steinz nearly has a panic attack when the man touches him, but fails to break the grapple regardless. With a growing sense of disquiet, Dr. Steinz realizes that there's a droning sound coming from within the tall man and both IC and OOC he shouts in horror/disgust "OH MY GOD! THIS MAN IS FULL OF BEES!!!"

              The tall man, Gino, simply grins and several bees force their way out of the various sores on his body and mouth intimidatingly.

              Dr. Steinz renews his attempt to escape with as much vigor as he can summon and Lonnie, the fat little man flicks his nickel with enough force/accuracy that it strikes Steinz in the cheek and fractures his eye socket painfully. The girl, Tina, extends her hands and her forearms split open to allow thick, barbed tentacles to slide from them.

              Steinz is already close to full blown panic when he sees Greggory advance on him with the knife.

              "Mallard!" Steinz shouts. "We found your wife! She'd OD'd! Apparently she couldn't handle you being on the run. If you hurry, maybe she'll survive...but stick around and, well, who knows?"

              Greggory stops in his tracks and glances around at his companions in panic. They nod and he simply disappears without another word.

              Steinz attempts to say something else, but is struck by several pennies with enough force behind them to knock the wind out of him, Gino tightens his grip and Tina's tentacles dig into Steinz painfully, as though they have minds of their own.

              The beating continues in relative silence (broken up only by the increased buzzing from Gino and occasional whimper from Steinz) for a few more rounds until they hear the door above them being kicked in and remember that there's another one they have to deal with.

              Having ran out of change, Lonnie removes a comb from his pocket and hurls it into Steinz chest so hard that it embeds more than halfway in. Blood flows freely from Steinz's wounds and he stiffens up.

              Michael bursts into sight and before anyone can react he's fired off a shot at Gino. Michael rolls a natural 20, Gino rolls a natural 1. Gino's head explodes and he staggers back, falling to the ground. Steinz sinks to his knees laughing through his pain...that is until the buzzing becomes deafening and the hallway begins fillin with bees.

              "Dammit Stockton!" Steinz exclaims with a ragged cough, "Why would you shoot the bee pinata?"

              Michael's player admits that he didn't think this through.

              Tina's tentacles fly towards Michael, but he dodges nimbly; though still takes a pencil through the eye/brain courtesy of Lonnie that bowls him over. The bees quite literally fill the stairwell at this point and begin stinging indiscriminately; both Steinz and Tina are quickly overwhelmed by their injuries and fall unconscious and Michael briefly becomes filled with bees himself.

              Lonnie takes this opportunity to flee and Michael starts to follow, but realizes that if he does; Steinz will be killed, so he gathers up the downed doctor and and drags him away from the stair well.

              Unluckily, the bees follow.

              In a last, desperate act; Michael holds Dr. Steinz tightly to himself and leaps off of the 4th story of the parking garage, hoping to cushion the blow enough for Steinz to survive. They hit a tree on the way down and while both of them receive horrible injuries (Steinz breaks both of his legs falling out of the tree, Michael doesn't even know what all he broke; he just knows that he hasn't hurt so bad since he tangled with the serial killer.) Michael is delighted to find that he beat Lonnie to the exit.

              The fat little man is jogging out of the stucture, red faced and gasping for breath as Michael shouts for him to freeze.

              The two eye each other for a moment and Lonnie begins giving Michael a slow clap while he catches his breath. "You're as good as you said you were." Lonnie says sadly.

              Michael doesn't say anything, he just watches the fat man with suspicion.

              "Too bad I'm better!" Lonnie shouts, but Michael was prepared and gets off a shot which catches the little man in the shoulder a split second before one of Lonnie's cufflinks knocks the gun from his hand.

              Before Michael has time to retrieve the weapon he catches a second cufflink to the throat, laying him open gruesomely. He catches several more pencils, a pen and for some reason a series of bobby pins to vital areas as he charges forward.

              He's a bloody, lacerated mess by the time he lays hands on Lonnie and breaks the man's nose in three different directions. You know, for justice.

              By the time a DHS retrieval squad has gotten there, everything's settled down. They were a little surprised when Stockton explicitly told them to bring stretchers and bee suits, but are glad for the heads up once they reach the stairwell.

              As they're carting Steinz off to the hospital Michael stops them for some parting words. "I told you new meat. Didn't even make it through the day."

              Dr. Steinz is too swollen and battered to respond.





              Chavenski called earlier in the morning. His contacts were suitably impressed with his new army of high-tech robots and are interested in one of their own. All told, he's gathered up more than forty million dollars in clientele for Luvless, but it's not enough. Not even half of what they need.

              They're beating every bush they can think of, but they know very few people willing to purchase military grade AI from a supervillain.

              They're about to just say screw it and try to lure Luvless into an ambush for old time's sake when Depaliamo approaches them with a deal. He says that he thinks he could move their robots, but wants freedom for himself and Johnny on the Spot if he does this for them.

              McCrow kicks him in the stomach and tells him that if they need one of his dumbass ideas, they'll ask for it.

              While Depaliamo is gasping for breath Roger coughs expectantly and says "Well? What's your dumbass idea?"

              Depaliamo explains that the Italians are wealthy and always looking for an edge, with him vouching for the tech they'd be likely to buy it. Fanboy agrees that that's a great idea, but refuses to release Johnny on the grounds that General Wilson is still looking for him, and he personally hates him.

              Depaliamo bargains for his own freedom and more leniency for Johnny and in the end, everyone agrees. Depaliamo manages to broker a deal for $15million worth of Luvbots as a sort of trial based on Depaliamo's recommendation/calling in every favor he's ever been owed. Both Fanboy and McCrow are furious, since that's basically a quarter of what he promised; but Depaliamo assures them that once they see the bots in action they'll be back for more.

              McCrow changes gears and congratulates Depaliamo to Fanboy's surprise and tells him to set things up. Depaliamo says that the deal will go down somewhere south of NYC and McCrow tells Fanboy to pack a bag while he makes a call.

              First he calls Luvless and tells him that he's made another fifteen million dollar deal, but that it's out of state and they're expecting to see the merchandise before paying. Luvless isn't happy, but agrees.

              Next he calls Chavenski and tells him where the meet is going down and promises him a few hundred free Luvbots just for showing up.

              When it's all said and done, McCrow orchestrates a massacre against the Italians using the very Luvbots they intended to purchase and stealing the fifteen million himself. He turns it over to Luvless as promised, saying that Chavenski decided to buy them instead and then uses Depaliamo to call up the Italians and says "There's your $15 million dollar trial, like what you see?"

              The Italians are understandably furious and swear to rage war against him and the Russians like he's never seen but McCrow just laughs and asks how they intend to do that without any Luvbots. He turns over Depaliamo, insinuating that he knowingly set them up.

              McCrow and Fanboy return to Ventnor city no better or worse for the wear, but with an even more appreciative Chavenski on their side.

              When they get to the warehouse, Luvless is waiting for them once more and he seems ecstatic. He explains that Depaliamo got the Italians directly in touch with him (to McCrow's disappointment) and they've ordered $60 million worth of Luvbots and have requested other Luvtech besides.

              He tells the PCs that he appreciates their contribution to his business and tells them that he'll have their $6 million delivered once he's cleaned all the cash. They instead ask for only one million and five million worth of Luvbots; he cuts them a 10% off employee discount type of deal and they walk away with 165 brand new Luvbots for their trouble.







              It's been almost a week since the world was introduced to The Fanboy and EVERYONE is buzzing about it. The first day or two there was a considerable amount of skepticism but when even more footage emerged of Fanboys heroism and the mayor of Ventnor City himself confirmed that his life was saved by a superhuman, the world went berserk. (Locals also got to watch a drunken McCrow beat several men to death with a pipewrench, but for some reason it never caught on quite as well on Youtube.)

              Within only a few days Ventnor City's tourism reached record highs, hundreds if not thousands began flocking into the city in hopes of catching sight of an honest to God superhuman. Finch does not disappoint them.

              He arranges apartment fires, a school bus accident on a local bridge, shootouts and other even more dangerous crimes so that almost everyone leaves with pictures of the Fanboy either firsthand or through street vendors. People have began wearing a black and white print with Fanboy's image and the words 'Save the City' in support of their new hero.

              Life feels pretty good.

              That is until a small package is delivered to the warehouse. Fanboy immediately grows suspicious and checks the insides for explosives; but it turns up clean. Opening the package they are overwhelmed with the smell of rotting meat. Grimacing, McCrow digs into the box and brings out a severed, rotting hand wearing a wedding band.

              The PCs look at each other for a moment and while they don't know exactly what this means, a severed hand in a box is pretty much the universal symbol that s*** is about to get real. They take it to Prophet to see if he can find fingerprints or something to see who it came off of, but before they even reach the Prophet's room Sandy spots them in the hallway an begins wailing.

              She recognizes the ring as her late husband's.

              They're still processing this when Lucky Dan and his wife stumble down from their room a few minutes later on the phone, Dan's cursing to himself and as he hangs up he says "Our house burned down." as he throws up his arms.

              "That was an expensive house!" McCrow shouts angrilly.

              "In a very nice neighborhood!" Fanboy agrees. "Luckily, homeowner's insurance should cover it though."

              Lucky Dan shakes his head in disbelief. "Why would [i]I[/i} have homeowner's insurance?" he asks, the shock still evident on his face. "I mean..." he just shakes his head.

              McCrow and Fanboy rant and rave for the better part of an hour when an explosion sounds upstairs. McCrow jerks his head around and realizes it's coming from Richard's room. The hydromancer bounds upstairs, but waits until his hair stops standing on end before he opens the door.

              Electricity is arcing all over Richard's body and he sobs uncontrollably.

              "Richard, calm down!" McCrow shouts, remembering the damage this kid can do when he lets loose. "What's wrong boy?"

              Richard barely manages to sob out that his dad's dead. McCrow's mouth pops open like someone just slapped him.

              "Him and my mom were just walking to the car...and someone gunned them down." Richard whimpers. "They don't even know if she's going to make it." he sputters as even more energy begins building up and McCrow slams the door to allow the insulated room to take the brunt of the beating.

              McCrow quickly explains the situation to Fanboy and he realizes that everyone's in danger. He grabs the phone to spread the word but it's ringing even before he gets the chance to dial out. One of Bradley's clones is on the line, panicking because his dad's been kidnapped. Fanboy asks how Bradley knows it was a kidnapping and Bradley responds that they left a message.

              "F*** with us and we f*** with you."





              "The damned Italians!" McCrow growls.

              "Depaliamo knows everything about us." Fanboy realizes with a groan. "He was doing our freaking taxes! Why did we let him go?"

              Realizing that they need to warn their allies more than ever, Fanboy dials Chavenski and is less than surprised to hear gunfire and a throbbing hum in the background.

              "Thank God you boys called!" Chavenski wheezes. "The Italians are here, at the apartments. These robots...they're everywhere."

              McCrow and Fanboy exchange a 'Whoopsie' look and McCrow shouts for Chavenski to hold on, that he's on his way.

              Roger quickly gathers up all 10 of his droplets as Fanboy grabs a strike team of five grief stricken Bradleys and the Beastman. McCrow starts to bolt towards the team van and Fanboy shouts that there's no time, he's faster. Before anyone can argue they've all been seized and are streaking across the sky at more than 100mph with nothing between them and the longest fall of their lives but Fanboy's concentration.

              They land in front of the apartments and find the place is a warzone. There are almost a hundred of the Luvbot spheres rolling around in the street, apparently fried and even more of the active Luvbots slugging it out with yet more Luvbots. Half the building looks like it's been burned away and corpses are strewn everywhere. It's anarchy.

              Roger immediately orders five of his droplets to begin gathering up the spheres, figuring that maybe they can be salvaged. He orders the other five to sneak into the apartment building and drown anyone wearing a suit; trusting the Italians sense of fashion to ensure their doom.

              Before anyone can tell the Beastman what to do he gives a resounding whoop and charges the building on all fours, sprinting up the wall almost 10ft before leaping with everything in his powerful legs and seizing a third floor windowsill. He lunges inside to the sound of broken glass and terrified screams.

              Fanboy grins, once again glad that they rescued him.

              The Bradleys are dressed in stolen S.C.A.R. equipment and move towards the entrance as a single unit, Roger follows suit. Fanboy elects to stay behind and take out the Italian's Luvbots, cackling when he discovers that Luvless made good on his word and the automatons are unable to target him in return.

              Just like the last time McCrow visited the apartments there are a handful of Russians pinned down behind a couch as a squad of four Italians pour automatic fire into their cover; seemingly for sport.

              The Bradleys open fire with automatic weapons of their own and two Italians go down outright, before they can even turn around Roger slams a literal wall of water into the lot of them and crushes them against the far wall until they stop struggling.

              The Russians are nearly out of ammo so McCrow leaves a pair of Bradleys to help guard the door and continues upstairs. He finds another half dozen Italians pilfering the floor and dehydrates the first one he sees, rendering the man as little more than a pile of dust in a fancy jacket.

              The rest open fire and one of the Bradley clones go down, leaving two more to return the gesture. Another Italian goes down but even more are spilling out of rooms and there's nowhere in the hallway to take cover.

              Back outside, Fanboy already made short work of the unaggressive Luvbots and has started destroying the Italians' vehicles more out of spite than anything. He's feeling pretty smug when he gets another call.

              Bradley's on the line and he simply shouts "They're here! There's hundreds of them, the Warehouse is burning!"

              Fanboy releases a fountain of expletives and for a split second considers warning McCrow that he's leaving, but figures that his partner has things here. As fast as he can, Fanboy rockets back towards home.

              Roger takes a handful of shots like a champ and while they're slowing him down he's giving better than he's getting. That is until he hears a ridiculous barrage of gunfire from downstairs as the Italians hiding in reserve flood the building and execute his watchmen.

              McCrow realizes that things are tight, but he can hear Chavenski on the next floor; his massive SAW is unmistakable. If only there weren't a few dozen a-holes between him and his friend.

              Then it clicks. There AREN'T a few dozen a-holes between him and Chavenski, just a few floorboards. Roger closes his eyes and reaches out with his power, he takes a few more shots for his trouble but it suddenly doesn't matter. The whole third floor simply collapses as nearly every pipe on the floor explodes with amazing force. The unsuspecting Italians are crushed like rats, those fighting Chavenski drop down a floor and are either knocked out or stunned and the big Russian alone makes his reflex save to remain standing.

              And oh boy, does he. Just as somewhere around half a dozen Italians try to come rushing McCrow from behind Chavenski lands hard about 15ft ahead of him holding his massive SAW awkwardly in one hand and an oxygen tank attached to his face with the other. Chavenski opens up with a single full-auto burst which makes it impossible to tell exactly how many Italians there actually were, all that's left is hamburger.

              Chavenski takes a deep breath of his dwindling air supply and coughs raggedly. "Taking your time?" he asks in a whispered wheeze.

              "Thought you had it covered." McCrow replies with a shrug, sending a deluge of water down the stairs to dislodge any potential stragglers.

              Chavenski checks his gauge and shakes his head worriedly. "I'm the last man standing here, but I've got about twenty minutes left...."

              "Can you survive without it?" McCrow asks.

              "If I take very little breaths." the Russian replies sarcastically.

              "Let's get to the roof." McCrow suggests, planting a kick in the chest of a soaking wet Italian that tries to rush around the corner. "Fanboy can grab us there."

              Chavenski shakes his head. "The stairs are-"

              "A waste of time!" McCrow barks launching a geiser of water directly upwards with enough force to crack the celing of the next floor. With a full throated shout he summons the water to him and tries again, putting everything he's got into it and punching a hole until he sees daylight.

              Chavenski stares upwards a little impressed and asks "And now?"

              McCrow bearhugs the Russian without giving anyone time to react and uses the same trick to fling the two of them up through the hole he just made. Chavenski lands hard on the roof and rolls about ten feet once he lands, McCrow manages a little better and while he gets the wind knocked out of him he's otherwise unharmed.

              McCrow rushes to the edge to shout down and realizes that Fanboy isn't there anymore. Nearly 40 Luvbots however are and hover off the ground until they surround the apartment roof.


              Fanboy arrives at the warehouse in time to find around 600 Luvbots opening fire indiscriminately, trying to burn through their reinforced walls but failing to do much. They have managed to shred the front door and around 100 of their personal Luvbots and all remaining Bradley clones are holding the breach as best they can. Roughly 80 Italians are lounging on the docks and enjoying the spectacle while another man dangles from the roof planting breaching charges every five feet; there are already 15 such charges placed along the top floor.

              Fanboy nearly panics and snatches 10 of the charges from the north side of the warehouse and tosses them amid the gawking Italians. They dodge out of the way for the most part, but before Fanboy can grab the rest a man on the ground hits a detonator and the remaining charges( as well as the plan placing them) go up in flames and a nearly 20ft hole is blown out of the corner of their home.

              Fanboy snatches nearly 30 Luvbots out of the veritable tide below him and hurls them at their human controllers, taking out several men and shattering several more robots in the process. The Luvbots attempt to return fire, but can't process him and go back to their business. Many pour into the newly created hole, perhaps even more horrifyingly however are 10 of them which grab up 10 Italians wearing backpacks and jet towards the hole in a staggered formation to make targeting all of them harder.

              Rather than trying to grapple all of the, Fanboy snatches another telekinetic handful of Luvbots from the ground and hutls them like a shotgun blast at the men with packs. All but 3 are taken out by this attack, however those three are deposited inside and are quickly flooded with more Luvbots; making pursuit impossible.

              Fanboy has a difficult time dragging all of the Luvots out of the hole and instead flies around the building in hopes of finding another entrance. He lucks out and discovers a hole just barely large enough for him to slip into, but too small for a Luvbot. He slips in and discovers Lucky Dan's family huddled in their room terrified and Dan himself standing in the doorway leading out drinking a cup of coffee.

              As Fanboy watches, a Luvbot lunges towards Dan midsip and has its head blown off by one of its allies with the same idea. Another Luvbot comes into view only to be crushed by a falling support beam as Dan turns around, still in his bathrobe. "We're in trouble boss."

              "Trouble doesn't begin to cover it Dan." Fanboy says as he rushes out of the room just in time to look on helplessly as he discovers what was contained in the backpacks.

              Wheel chairs.

              Each man which rushed the wall had a collapsible wheel chair strapped to him which they begain assembling the second they were inside. Fanboy's eyes scan the warehouse in growing horror until he finally lays eyes on Johnny on the Spot sitting pretty in his new ride. Johnny slowly and carefully gives Fanboy the bird and the second Fanboy so much as twitched in retaliation the speedster is already gone. If his disability slowed him down any, Fanboy doesn't notice.

              "Next time, I break his f***ing arms..." Fanboy mutters, moving to rain down hell upon the remaining Luvbots in his warehouse. However to everyone's surprise, now that Johnny is free they all seem to be pouring out of their own accord. Fanboy decides to let them go, but snatches one of the man with a backpack and knocks him out with a savage thrust against the wall.

              "You're my new Johnny." Fanboy says with a wicked grin.



              McCrow and Chavenski are huddled on the roof, McCrow realizes that the Luvbots can't hurt him but Chavenski has no such protection.

              "Get under me!" McCrow shouts and bearhugs Chavenski once again. The big Russian instinctively resists this command by stepping backwards and the Luvbots open fire as a group the second McCrow is clear.

              Now Chavenski is one tough son of a bitch, but this is a barrage of cutting edge military hardware pouring enough fire on him to kill the moon. I don't fudge rolls, prefering to roll them openly, so imagine our surprise when he fails exactly one toughness roll out of 40. Granted, he fails so bad that he goes down with third degree burns and a hole in his side, but that just builds character.

              McCrow responds by summoning water to himelf and assuming his hulking battleform, snatching one of the Luvbots out of the air and battering a second one with it. A group of Italians burst onto the roof but simply stare in open mouthed horror at what they find there and with a single mighty push McCrow flings them all off the building and to their deaths. Hearing even more rushing him, McCrow snatches another pair of Luvbots and crams them into the door in such a way that nobody else can fit through.

              The Italians slam into his makeshift barricade and start hammering their way past when Fanboy finally shows up. He sees McCrow bellowing wordless curses at a horde of mafiosos and Chavenski laying bloody and burned on the ground and quickly decides that Chavenski is the priority here, snatching the Russian up and streaking off once again.

              McCrow growls as even more Italians attempt to rush the door and decides that he's had enough of all of them. He expends everything hero point he has and drives himself to exhaustion in order to blow the supports out all along the building. With no further warning the whole thing collapses into itself.


              Fanboy returns about 30 minutes later and finds nothing left of the apartments but a flooded hole, feeling inside he realizes that there's nobody left alive. Leaping into the air he does a quick survey of the surrounding area and finally finds what he's looking for:

              The Beastman, soaking wet and covered in blood (only some of hit his own) is walking down the street with Roger McCrow thrown over his shoulder. McCrow has a pipe sticking out of his chest which bleeds profusely but neither Fanboy nor the Beastman seem to worried; he's survived worse.





              McCrow spends some time in a bathtub with a gallon of homemade brandy and a girlie magazine and he's back to normal before anyone has a chance to miss him. The warehouse however is a mess.

              Holes are blown everywhere and a good deal of trash is rolling in from the street. He even catches Sandy's daughter playing a mutt that wandered inside and chases the creature off with a fire poker; which is strange because they don't even have a fire place.

              Now, amid everything else that's happening I thought I could slip one over on him and he was right to drive the dog off, though he didn't know it at the time. It was Lycaon, one of the superdogs and I had a whole thing planned if it could slip inside; but McCrow was pretty firm in insisting that if he ever saw a dog in his warehouse again he was going to spit and roast it, so that had to be abandoned.

              After the damage is fully surveyed they realize that it might not even be worth repairing. Roger proposes a different plan:

              "What if we built like a giant submergible lair?" he asks. "Who's going to come at us underwater?"

              Fanboy smiles, "Yeah, we could shape it like a skull and fill it with the Legion of Doom."

              McCrow strokes his chin. "We should probably think of a catchier name, we don't really have a legion yet."

              Fanboy stares at him. "Superfriends reference." he explains.

              "Oh..." Roger replies, "I never really watched Friends, seemed a little fruity."

              Fanboy justt continues staring at him until he realizes that Doctor Luvless is standing next to them.

              "Congrats again on making the news." Luvless says, as they stumble back in shock. "Just wanted to pop in and thank you guys for your suggestion the other day, it was brilliant."

              The PCs eye him for a moment before Fanboy asks "What suggestion?"

              Luvless laughs and says "The whole 'Make sure we can't be attacked by the Luvbots we sell' angle, it was a stroke of genius that even I didn't think of."

              They continue staring at him as he pushes a duffelbag into Fanboy's arms, Fanboy looks inside and discovers to his surprise that it's filled with cash.

              "The Italians were quite upset when they discovered their little toys didn't work on you, they even demanded a refund; can you imagine the audacity?" Luvless asks clicking his tongue. "I explained that the bots they purchased were the floor model; programmed to avoid harming my staff as a security measure and you know what?"

              Fanboy almost goes white. "There's nearly a million dollars in here Luvless." he says, flashing the cash to McCrow who starts stuffing it into his pockets.

              "Your cut boys." Luvless says with a wink. "They ordered another $20 million worth of merchandise, this time without the restrictive programming. They've also commissioned something a little...heavier."

              "We'll beat their price!" McCrow shouts, not even bothering to find out what their price is.

              Luvless looks shocked and strokes his chin. "Well...I never did agree to exclusivity, so I don't see the harm. Tell you what, I'll give you the friends and family discount; $75k each."

              "Done!" McCrow shouts, tossing the rest of the bag right back at him.

              Luvless holds out a handful of Luvbot spheres, though these are almost twice the size as normal ones. He drops them in McCrow's hand with a deep smile and says "Enjoy." and with that is gone nearly as suddenly as he appeared.






              Fanboy takes this opportunity to question their prisoner and skips directly to the invasive mind probe, tearing information out of the man without ever saying a word.

              McCrow meanwhile activates one of the large Luvbots and is nearly knocked off his feet when it forms. The bot looks similar to the Luvbots they've been using for some time, but it stands 12ft tall and has a centaur like body with six legs; each of its arms are larger than McCrow and the arms seem to be little more than giant barrels. This strikes him as money well spent.

              Fanboy comes down stairs and declares that once the job was over, the Italians were supposed to retreat to an air field nearby where a plane was waiting to take them back to New York. Our heroes decide to pay the airfield a visit.

              The trip is pretty quick now and Fanboy brings them (McCrow, Beastman, 5 Bradleys and himself) down just behind the strip, near a large barn and a dusty stretch of road. He uses ESP to scout the barn and discovers a sizeable private jet inside.

              They have a quick discussion and the plan is to wait until the plane takes off and then have Fanboy just crash it in a massive pillar of fire and retribution. That's the plan at least.

              An hour goes by and no sign of the Italians. Another and another and another goes by without a single hint of approach and after four more hours of this McCrow finally decides to change the plan.

              "New plan! We burn the plane, the barn and everything else in sight and then go home." After eight hours of hiding in the bushes, noone seems to mind this change of plan at all and they emerge from their hiding place to wreck things up.

              Fanboy extends his arms and telekinetically opens the large barn doors to allow everyone entrance when suddenly there's a loud whizzing sound and he feels blood running down his side. Fanboy looks down and realizes that whatever it is absolutely punched through his forcefield and body armor without resistance.

              McCrow throws himself to the ground and rolls behind a decrepit old tractor as the Beastman flips and dodges incoming rounds, one of the Bradleys goes down in a shower of blood before winking out of existence.

              Fanboy nearly collapses and shouts "It's the Italians, those a**holes laid an ambush!" however the Bradleys have dropped to the ground and started scanning the horizon and one of them shakes his head.

              "It's not the Italians!" he shouts before bolting for cover. "It's S.C.A.R.!"

              Everybody groans, not relishing a fight with these guys right now. Several more rounds are fired and something punches completely through Roger's tractor about an inch from his head. "We've got to move fast!" the hydromancer shouts.

              "I've got an idea!" Fanboy replies, grabbing the Beastman telekinetically and hurling him in the direction of the shots.

              A loud and exhilirating whoop echoes in the distance as their Beastly ally swoops down for the kill, a readied gunshot while he's still in midair however turns the whoop into a whimper and their feral comrade collapses where he lands in a pool of his own blood.

              Fanboy curses but says he knows where they're at now, he points them out to McCrow as best they can and everyone begins marching forward, taking what little cover they can find. It's slow going until McCrow has enough and tosses out his new Assault Class Luvbot before leaping onto its back.

              A pair of shots ring out that slam directly into the AssaultBot's face, but it doesn't seem to notice. Roger grins ear to ear and orders it to return fire. A hollow voice confirms his order and the bot raises one of it's arms and a nearly painful humming fills the air, several more shots ding off of its exterior and it releases its payload in the direction of the S.C.A.R. snipers.

              The explosion is brief, but powerful and they never do find enough pieces to make a whole man, but it rains gore for the better part of a minute and nobody takes any more shots at them so they declare the AssaultBot's trial run a resounding success.

              They collect the wounded Beastman, ensure that there's no useable equipment left by the S.C.A.R. guys and then scurry back to the airstrip to burn everything in sight before returning home to nurse their wounds.




              During their recovery they take a few precautions. First off, they bring Richard's mother to the warehouse and stick her in the infirmary with Dr Kavlight. As bad as things are here, she's safer with the auto-turrets and Luvbots protecting her than at the hospital.

              Second, they call Parks and give him the rundown. He basically whispers that he's busy at the moment but that he'll get back to them as soon as he can. They're a little surpried by his dismissal but shrug it off and get on with their lives.

              Beastman heals up fast, but Fanboy's powers don't assist his recovery and he spends several days completely bed-ridden. Even using his abilities to get around causes a considerable amount of pain as he shifts ever so slightly.

              Eventually however there's a knock at what's left of their front door and McCrow answers it to find Parks standing there in civilian clothes, he looks haggard and run down. They head to Fanboy's room and Parks explains his visit.

              "They've stripped me of almost all my pull." Parks says with a pained shake of his head, "I've got maybe a month left before I'm in the unemployment line, but I've got something you need to see."

              Fanboy raises an eyebrow questioningly and Parks tosses a burned CD onto his lap. "There's dangerous times ahead, I think we all know that. None of us realize how dangerous though..." he says with a sigh. "Do me a favor, don't go flashing this around. There are five men on the East Coast with access to this footage and if it gets out they've got a short list to prosecute."

              Fanboy tries to ask him what the hell he's talking about but he just shakes his head and insists they watch the tape.

              Naturally, they rush to Prophet's saferoom to pop it in and see what's so damned important. It's a video off of a standard portable camcorder set up behind a desk to survey the room interrogation style. A pair of voices discuss a couple of idiots in Jersey that have bumped the timeframe for Operation Goldenboy up more than two years. By the time stamp on the video which reveals this was taken not two days ago, they're obviously talking about the PCs.

              "Who's this first guy?" one of them asks.

              "Pretty impressive service history, good athletic background; supposed to be a charmer." the other replies.

              "Let's see, codename is...Big Brother?" the first states, pressing a button and asking that 'Big Brother' be shown in. The door swings open and from the looks of things this room was built to contain superhumans, the door itself appears to be almost four inches of steel.

              A tall, well built man enters the room wearing a nice if ill-fitting suit. He appears uncomfortable under such scrutiny. "Sir, I've arrived as requested. I hope to live up to the aspirations of this project and take-"

              "Just your number please." the first man says irritably and 'Big Brother' responds with something that sounds like his social.

              "Alright," the second man says, "You've been selected as a potential finalist but we need a demonstration of your ability before sending you to the field."

              Big Brother nods and glances around the room before motioning towards the door. "Is it alright if I use this?" he asks uncertain.

              The first researcher sighs, "Yeah, sure. Knock yourself out."

              Big Brother stands in front of the door, takes a quick breath and exhales with enough force to tear the door completely off its frame. Chairs audibly slide as the researchers sit up in their seats and Big Brother hauls the door into the room one handed. Leaning the bulky slab of steel against the wall, he takes the door by the corner with one hand and tears a strip off as though shredding paper before rolling it into a ball and tossing it onto the table.

              The table gives out under its weight and the camera is knocked to the floor, Big Brother is visible kneeling down to collect their papers and apologizing for the mess. Excitement is audible in their voices as they bid him not to worry and ask about other abilities.

              A note of embarassment creeps into his voice and he suggests going outside for further demonstration.




              McCrow, Fanboy and Prophet sit gawking at the screen for several minutes after the video is over. Prophet is the first to break the silence. "We need to do something." he suggests unhelpfully.

              Fanboy excuses himself and calls Parks. Parks warns him that there's nothing more he can do to help, but Fanboy just asks for the location of the new DHS office. Parks is obviously hesitant to answer, but Fanboy explains that he wants to dispose of the cannisters before anyone else can be transformed by them. It takes a little cajoling, but he eventually convinces Parks to give him the address.

              Going after the DHS isn't as daunting as it once was, Fanboy loads all five of their AssaultBots and 25 of their remaining Luvbots (the tussle with the Italians knocked out about a third of them so they've only got 125 left) into a sack and Roger gathers his droplets before they take off for the address Parks gave them.

              They discover an abandoned factory where Parks directed them and it doesn't take much probing with ESP for Fanboy to discover that this is in fact the new Hole. Not wanting to jump into another personal scuffle so soon after their last, Roger has an idea. He puts five Luvbot spheres each into five of his droplets and they set the spheres to activate in 15 minutes with orders to blast anyone that's armed. Roger then instructs the droplets to go hide in the basement.

              Fanboy watches the chaos unfold and it's damned near embarassing. The contingent of S.C.A.R. troops are skilled and well armed, but they don't have anything they can bring to bare to take down Luvless's space age tech. Within minutes they have been subdued and by the time our heroes head downstairs they can hear the Luvbots shouting 'Surrender or Die!' and brandishing laser weapons to emphasize their point.

              McCrow walks around stripping the S.C.A.R. agents of their gear while Fanboy tracks down their commanding officer. He finds an older man in a standoff with several Luvbots and simply tears the pistol from the man's hand, disarming both him and the situation. The Luvbots disperse to find more dissenters.

              Fanboy attempts to mentally probe the man's mind, but discovers he's too resilient to overcome. "Who ordered the hit?" Fanboy asks bluntly.

              "I did." the man admits fearlessly. "Wilson wants you out of the way and I set my best men on it."

              Fanboy shakes his head, "Why are you helping the Italians? It makes no sense."

              The officer scoffs, "You've got that backwards boy, the Italians are helping us!"

              McCrow sucker punches the man across the face and busts his lip. The officer responds by spitting blood directly into McCrow's face defiantly. McCrow naturally responds with a wild haymaker that loosens teeth. The man starts laughing derisively but a second haymaker from McCrow shuts him up and sends several bits of teeth clattering to the floor.

              "Still funny?" McCrow roars. "Let's see how funny it is when I leave you in as many pieces as we left your men!"

              "Enough McCrow." Fanboy says and corrals them down the hall and towards the area he's already telepathically scouted as the testing chamber. There's a rack of cannisters against the far wall which holds 32 in all, checking a desk drawer he discovers Wilson's signature confirming delivery of 32 cannisters of something he can't pronounce; he remembers this being the same kind of cannister that gave them their powers so he figures it can't be a coincidence.

              Fanboy hefts one of the cannisters and discovers that it is incredibly light, too light even... He lifts another and another and another, all in all 29 of the 32 cannisters are completely empty. That doesn't bode well.

              Figuring that they've got everything they're going to get from here, Fanboy starts rewriting memories to convince the S.C.A.R. troopers that the Italians are the ones who did this. It's a hasty job and he's not sure if it'll hold up, but it should sow a little chaos in their ranks at least. He finishes with the officer but realizes that something's off, he doesn't think it took.

              "You're pretty strong willed, huh?" Fanboy asks.

              The officer sneers, "All S.C.A.R. operatives are. They weed out the weak and ignorant before our first day of training."

              Fanboy shakes his head in disappointment, "I guess that's why you guys have such a short life expectancy." he says and puts a bullet in the man's head from his own gun.




              McCrow is pretty surprised that Fanboy just killed a man in cold blood and comments on it as they're loading gear and the cannisters up into an easily portable pile outside.

              "What are you talking about? I watched you rape a man to death with an assault rifle!" Fanboy points out.

              "Well...yeah, but that was heat of the moment. Totally different." McCrow says dismissively.

              They bicker a little bit about the acceptably level of murder and head back home as quick as they can, pretty confident that somebody in there would have tripped an alarm. The trip is pretty uneventful and they get things stashed away pretty quick.

              Once everything's set aside, they crack open one of the cannisters exictedly and Fanboy hooks it up to an oxygen mask to better administer doses. He takes a long experimental breath of the powerful transformative, excited at the prospect of what it might offer. To his disappointment it doesn't seem to do anything to him.

              McCrow insists that Fanboy's doing it wrong and snatches the mask for himself, taking a deep breath himself but finding it equally useless. "Are you sure this is the right stuff?" he asks gruffly.

              Fanboy shrugs, no longer so sure of himself. "Maybe...?"

              Roger glances around for something not already affected by the gas to try it out on and grabs up one of his droplets, blasting the oblivious little creature with an experimental spray. The droplet responds by quivering uncontrollably and seeming to dissolve before their eyes.

              Both of their eyes go wide and it suddenly occurs to them that maybe they should have tested the gas BEFORE they tried it on themselves. As they argue back and forth as to who's fault it is that they're going to die, they hear a little voice ask: "Who am I?"

              Looking down, they see that the droplet has reformed but no longer has the vacant, manic grin that its brothers wear. Fanboy nearly gasps.

              "It's fully sentient!" Fanboy almost shouts. "The gas works!"

              The droplet seems confused and repeats its question to McCrow. "Who am I?"

              McCrow cocks his head and picks the little critter up. "I think I'll call you.... Yeah. I think I'll call you Stallone." he says with a nod.

              "Stallone?" the little creature asks puzzled.

              "Yes, it's the name of a great man of incredible vision." McCrow assures it.

              "Stallone...St-al-lone." the droplet repeats to itself.

              "Who else can we blast?" McCrow asks excitedly.

              Fanboy points out that the gas is dangerous, citing the more than 50% fatality rate of those exposed on the bus. McCrow suggests using it on their Italian prisoner but Fanboy replies that best case scenario they waste a hit of the gas, worse case scenario they have to contend with another superhuman Italian making life miserable for them.

              McCrow suggests that may Sandy's kids would like superpowers but Fanboy shoots him down. Then, they both have the same idea at the same time. They'll ask Chavenski, if anyone's tough enough walk away from this thing new and improved, it's him.

              Now going into this they knew it was a 50/50 shot at either giving a mass murdering Russian mobster superpowers or having something bad happen, they also knew that even if he survived he'd be getting a random power (determine by a last minute chart we whipped up) so for all they know they're risking the life of one of their only real allies on the offchance he might glow in the dark.

              They make the offer to him and he's so sick of being what he considers an invalid that he'll take any chance that might restore the man he used to be. They give him the gas and he takes a long, deep drag off of it and quickly succumbs to its effects; convulsing and passing out altogether. I roll the die to determine whether or not it transforms or kills him and.....he makes it. Dr Kavlight steadies his vitals and the changes begin. Just like with the others, he'll be out for a while before his powers truly manifest.

              I let one of the players roll on the chart to see which power he'll wake up with and off of a list that contained such items as Super Burrowing, Extra Bouncy and Acidic Spit he got [spoiler]Gravity Control, pretty much the only big flashy power I even included.[/spoiler]







              Things are going pretty good for the heroes all things considered. They still haven't located Bradley's dad, but they're making progress and they have three cannisters of world shaking, magical gas. Not wanting to risk the cannisters falling into the wrong(er) hands, they stuff them into their submersible holding cell and toss them to the bottom of the ocean for safekeeping.

              They also try to prod Prophet into providing insight into their predicament when he finally admits he can't. I don't remember if I ever explained how his powers work, but he doesn't actually see visions of the future; he takes control of his body at a future date and has a minute or two to glance around and find notes or newspaper clippings he's left for himself. He explains that the last few times he's been transported into the future he's not been anywhere where he can look up information. In fact...he's not been in Ventnor City at all.

              They question him as to where he would have went, but he honestly doesnt know. He doesn't even think he's been in civilization during this time. The news is troubling, but as Prophet points out there's no way for him to know if this will happen next week or 20 years down the line. His powers are unpredictable.

              While they're discussing this in Prophet's saferoom, a news broadcast appears on the T.V. It's a breaking story concerning trouble in the park.

              80 Dead in Terrorist Attack

              Flashes across the screen and before they even see the first sentient tree shumbling around they sigh, Tree King is back.

              They grab their satchel full of Luvbots and bolt to the park as fast as they can to handle this, by the time they arrive there appears to be somewhere north of 1,600 tree clones which have simply claimed the park as their own. Perhaps more disturblingly is a 30ft tree thicker around than a volkswagon which seems to have sprung up in the middle of the park; it sports a twisted, inhuman face which seems to be locked in a constant wail.

              As Fanboy lowers the two of them to the ground and prepares for battle he's flagged down by one of the tree clones; surprisingly, they can hardly be called clones any longer. The one which flogs them down has a majestic bush across his shoulders, others sport various vines; flowers and thorns which the original Tree King never had.

              "Leave this place and peace may be maintained." the Tree Clone states flatly.

              "Peace?" Fanboy asks incredulously. "You murdered 80 people!"

              "They were trespassers in our domain." the Tree Clone replies, "Avoid our land and peace may be maintained."

              "This isn't your land chief." Fanboy replies. "It's city property, you need to piss off."

              "We will make better use of it." the Tree Clone insists coldly.

              "Take us to your leader." McCrow demands.

              "You address him. We are all Tree King, they are all a part of me." the Tree Clone replies.

              "Freaking Tree-Borg." Fanboy mutters.

              "You're Tree King?" McCrow asks, not quite buying it. "You seem too calm. Where's that genocidal rage you're usually shouting about?"

              The Tree Clone bristles but replies "I have accepted my new position in life. Leave this place and peace will be maintained."

              "Peace will be maintained, peace will be maintained." McCrow mimics. "If you're Tree King then you know who I am. I splintered your ass once, I'll do it again if you don't turn around and crawl back into whatever hole you crawled out of."

              The Tree Clone's eyes blaze and it shouts in a familiar blood curdling screech "Insolent speck, I'll flay your bones from your screaming meat!"

              McCrow grins and throws a mighty haymaker against the clone's jaw that basically breaks his own hand. The Tree Clone in charge as well as the four others nearby all scream in rage and release a cloud of spores which choke McCrow and send him sprawling down against the ground.

              The Tree Clones turn growling to Fanboy and he holds his hands up in the universal symbol for 'I didn't do it.'

              Diplomacy breaks down prety fast even without McCrow's interference as Fanboy and the Tree Clone get into a shouting match about how Trees don't belong in the city, they belong in the jungle and that's where they should go; the trees point out that they're not that kind of tree and that their massive tree god is sort of already growing here.

              Things get serious and the Tree Clones start swarming, Fanboy doesn't take it too seriously until he realizes that I meant ALL of the Tree Clones are swarming and he's suddenly looking at a murderous tide of wood and rage bearing down on him; he even spots the hulking form of Brick surging forward to get a piece of the action and decides that this fight just isn't worth it.

              The massive tree in the center releases a disgusting amount of spores that are so thick they're visible and most of the trees on the ground follow suit.

              "Every death from this moment forward is on YOUR HEAD! A dozen will die for each step you trespass from this moment on!" the Tree Clone representative shouts as Fanboy snatches McCrow as best he can and rockets out of the park.

              He barges into the mayor's office, dropping the still unconscious McCrow in the waiting room, and demands to know what the mayor plans on doing about this.

              "Me?!" the mayor stammers. "That's what you're for!"

              "What would you normally do?" Fanboy snaps.

              "You mean when mutant tree men try to murder all of my citizens for trespassing in his park? Strangely that's never came up before!" the mayor almost hisses. "I've got a call into the governor, but this is too strange to believe. Who knows when he'll arrange help?"

              Fanboy shakes his head and then asks if the mayor knows any pyrotechnic guys. The mayor responds that he's got a guy that does fireworks once or twice a year for him, that he's pretty good.

              Fanboy rolls his eyes, but he's desparate and takes the guy's address anyway. The Mayor calls ahead to explain things.


              McCrow finally wakes up on the way across town and together they knock on Marshall O'Grady's door. The man that answers is not what they were expecting from the mayor.

              For one thing he's drunk off his ass at 1 in the afternoon and he sports thick, bushy orange hair and a stylized eye patch over his left eye emblazoned with a flaming skull. He stands in the doorway in nothing but his underwear and increasingly elaborate tattoos, swigging out of a fifth of whiskey and constantly asking to be reminded who the hell they are.

              Fanboy just leaves the mayor out of his explanation altogether, figuring that any added complexity just makes this harder. He bluntly says "I need a man to burn down the park. Are you him?"

              "Six grand." the little Irishman snaps the offer up without needing to hear anymore. "But you just keep this between you and me."






              General Wilson gave Michael his orders alone and then sent him to the hospital to retrieve his partner. The two of them would be brokering a deal between visiting Italian mobsters and the DHS to help take down a larger terrorist cell. Michael doesn't like it, but as he's constantly reminded; he doesn't have to like it.

              His current partner, Dr Steinz will be doing most of the negotiating by himself, but it's always handy to have an invincible berserker on your side if things to belly up. The rub being that his current partner is still laid up in the hospital with a pair of broken legs from their last excursion. But then, that's life sometimes.

              Before picking up Steinz, Michael decides to pay a visit to see how Mann is faring. It's painful to see him in his current condition, but then; thats like too sometimes. At least their life.

              Entering Mann's room, Michael is shocked to find that it's empty. No sign of his former friend and partner. Rushing to the desk he flashes his badge and demands to know where Mann's been transferred to.

              The clerk looks at him with confusion on her face and explains "He was signed out by a senior DHS agent, he was marked as fit to return to duty."

              Michael's blood runs cold remember the shrivelled husk which remained of his one time friend. "Bulls***." he mutters.




              Three days, the Irishman said.

              A minimum of three days before their new pyrotechnics guy will have enough firepower to just level the park. Fanboy wants to track down the fire mutant and direct him against their wooden foe; but despite the soaring arson rate they can't seem to pinpoint his location until AFTER he's finished consuming everything and moved on.

              Tree King himself hasn't made another move since seizing the park, though the thick spore cloud which covers the surrounding area has necessitated the evacuation of several blocks. The mayor continues asking for help, but the governor seems increasingly adamant that nothing's wrong.

              With nothing immediate pressing on them, besides Franklin's upcoming wedding in only two days time, McCrow and Fanboy decide to take a day off and get ready.

              Fanboy spends the time dong what he can to help Prophet search for Depaliamo, McCrow mostly drinks and talks about how his oldest son is getting married for the first time to anyone that'll listen.

              It's all well and good until Bradley barges downstairs with his phone in his hand. As he explains to Fanboy, it's Depaliamo calling about his dad.

              Depaliamo explains that he knows that McCrow and Fanboy has more of the stuff that turned them and Johnny into superhumans and that he wants it, now. Fanboy tells him to go screw himself.

              "Hold on." Depaliamo says, taking the phone away from his ear and turning it around. Fanboy hears Bradley's dad screaming in pain and suddenly Depaliamo is back. "Tell Yurtz that you're why his dad has nine fingers."

              Bradley's face goes white and Fanboy grits his teeth. Covering the receiver with his hand, he and McCrow have a quick back and forth before he agrees to Depaliamo's demands.

              Depaliamo instructs Fanboy to have Dr Kavlight and Sandy drive out to a nearby bus station, alone. Depaliamo warns that if he sees anyone besides these two that he'll put a bullet it Bradley's dad and move on to someone else, no second chances. He then hangs up.

              Fanboy quickly gathers their proxies together and explains the situation; he then talks Sandy into letting HIM use her body to make the switch, figuring that she's invincible and he's a powerhouse. She reluctantly agrees and McCrow makes a comment that it's not fair that Fanboy gets to play around inside her and he doesn't.

              Much groaning commences.

              Fanboy/Sandy and Kavlight go where they're directed and aren't surprised to find that a black town car is waiting there for them. They climb in and their driver takes them along a winding path to a series of shop fronts. He instructs Kavlight to get out with the canister and the doctor obliges.

              The driver then takes the long route, seemingly out of town; however just before exiting he turns and circles. Then circles again. And again. And again. He finally gets a call, confirming that the gas is what they were expecting and that Sandy's cleared to get Yurtz senior. The driver takes a winding route back the way they came and meets up with another black car. Sandy is pushed out, as is Bradley's dad and both cars drive away.

              Fanboy immediately relinquishes control of Sandy so that she can escort Bradley's dad home and then takes to the air with his own body; rushing across town at full speed to where his perfect memory tells him Kavlight was dropped off at. He recognizes the store fronts and takes note of one that appears dark and uninhabited.

              He scans the interior and finds a single mind inside; a faint but recognizable presence. With a curse, he realizes that they tested the gas on Kavlight.






              Michael Stockton paces outside Wilson's office, irritated at being left out of the loop like this while that rat Steinz is inside, schmoozing it up. When Steinz is finally rolled out by a plain clothes S.C.A.R. agent, his legs and one arm still in casts; welts still visible all over his body, Michael is so anxious to get going he doesn't even care where.

              They gather up five more S.C.A.R. agents, all in plain clothes and pile into a van before proceeding to a parking garage across town. It takes MIchael a moment to realize where they are: Park's apartment.

              "What the hell is this Steinz, what are we doing at Mann's handler's place?" Michael demands.

              "Wilson's orders." Steinz replies. "Parks has been an annoying thorn in his side for too long; he wants us to make him disappear."

              "Screw that noise!" Michael shouts back. "I got nothing against Parks, I'm sure as hell not going to murder him in cold blood!"

              "But Michael," Steinz says, a smile playing across his face. "It's your patriotic duty."

              ...

              It's several hours before Agent Parks crosses their vision and Michael steps out of the van, accompanied by five agents dressed in street clothes and packing high caliber pistols. It's easy to mistake Parks for just another paper pusher, but it would be a fatal mistake. Especially considering the kind of company he's known to keep.

              Michael and his entourage proceed after their target silently, shadowing Parks around the corner and watching as he makes his way to a beat up, windowless van in his usual space. Michael finds it a little odd, since Parks' primary vehicle is an old Buick, but puts the thought out of his head.

              The kill team moves in and Parks suddenly stops, the van key held immobile in his hand. Turning slowly around, he sees Michael and the agents and fear flashes through his face. "What is this Stockton?" Parks demands.

              "Nothing personal Parks." Michael says and means it. "Just doing my duty."

              "Duty?" Parks asks, pressing his back against the van and glancing around. "Since when do you do something just because it's your duty?"

              Michael stops and tries to think, unsure of WHY it feels so right to gun Parks down and unable to adequately answer. "I...don't know." he admits, reaching for his gun. "Any last words, Agent Parks?"

              "It's nothing personal Stockton." Parks answers, knocking on the van door.

              Stockton tilts his head curiously as Park quickly steps aside and a tremendous force blows the door out of its frame; sending it hurling through the air where it splits Stockton down the middle of his torso. The S.C.A.R. men immediately reach for their guns as a figure wreathed in golden energy steps out of the van.

              Mann stands before them, severely scarred and wearing a sleeveless under-shirt and casual slacks. His missing right arm is back, though made of a bright yellow, mostly transparent substance that glows with a strange energy which covers his entire form. His empty right eye socket glows brightly with the same energy and when he speaks his voice erupts from him like a loudspeaker: "Put your weapons down and get your hands up; aggression WILL be met with deadly force."

              As Stockton begins pulling himself back together, his mind drifts elsewhere and he forgets himself once again. With a savage growl he flings himself at his reanimated Partner who responds by punching him in the head so hard it bends a perfect 90 degrees on his neck. Before the S.C.A.R. agents guns have even finished clearing their holsters two more are already sprawled on their backs with caved in chest cavities.

              The remainder open fire indiscriminately. Bullets bounce uselessly off of Mann, however one strikes Parks in the sternum and he goes down hard, leaving a bloody trail down the side of the van. Michael charges again, grabbing Mann and attempting to bodyslam him; however Mann's body is considerably lighter than it once was and Michael overextends himself, falling backwards as he does so.

              Mann recovers before Michael and plants both feet on the ground before his partner can react, reversing the grapple and lifting Stockton easily with one hand before spinning and slamming him face first into the van. The soldiers open fire and Mann shields Parks body with his own until the barrage stops.

              Once they do, he slaps a pair of handcuffs onto the slavering Michael and quickly draws his sidearm; effortlessly putting a bullet into each of the remaining S.C.A.R. agents' heads, execution style in the blink of an eye.

              Mann kneels down to check Parks vitals as he hears the sound of a vehicle peeling off and debates giving chase; rejecting the idea as abandoning Parks to die. He does what he can to stabilise his friend and colleague, but can't seem to manage it. Michael finally stops squirming and takes note of his surroundings.

              "Mann?" Michael shouts incredulously. "What happened to Parks?! Oh sh*t...what did he make me do?"

              With a pained sigh, Mann recalls his and Stockton's time together in Afghanistan and that Michael was always quicker with a first aid kit than himself. Gritting his teeth, Mann tosses the handcuff key next to Stockton and shouts "He'd better be alive when I get back." as he leaps over the side of the parking garage; trusting his partner despite his better judgement.

              Mann lands just as a van comes barreling out of the garage like a bat out of hell and, putting two and two together, decides to give chase. The van has an early edge and starts to pull away, however Mann pours everything he's got into the chase and begins inching closer; with a start he realizes he's reaching speeds in excess of 50mph.

              Before he has time to really process this however, the van begins to turn and in that split second slows down enough to Mann to latch to the sides with both hands. Mann slams on the breaks, digging his feet into the ground for all he's worth and for a second it sounds like the van is going to stall and then Mann changes direction and LEAPS for all he's worth, still holding on.

              The van's wheels spin uselessly as they lose purchase both Mann and the van crash down violently in the street; tumbling end over end to a stop almost a block away. Mann staggers to his feet and tears the door off the driver's side without even trying; the injured S.C.A.R. agent inside holds his hands up in the universal sign of surrender.

              "I was just following orders!" the agent shouts, suddenly shocked out of Steinz's control.

              "WHOSE!?" Mann shouts.

              "Dr Steinz!" the soldier squeaks, pointing in the back, not wanting to further anger a man he just witnessed suplex a van.

              Mann easily tears into the van and finds Steinz even more broken and battered than usual. He throws the devious psychiatrist over his shoulder and rushes back the way he came, hoping that Parks is still alright.





              Fanboy and McCrow are in the warhouse, ranting uselessly at each other about Depaliamo and swearing nine kinds of vengeance against the Italian people as a whole when the front door is literally kicked in.

              They rush out to see what's happening and see Michael and Mann standing there, Parks held in Mann's arms still bleeding profusely. They rush downstairs, ready for a fight when they finally take note of the whole situation. Fanboy curses Kavlight's condition as they rush Parks upstairs.

              They have Bradley take Chavenski to a private room to clear up a bed in the infirmary and Michael attempts to remove the bullet in Parks' gut, assisted by Mann and Bradley. Against all odds, they manage to bring Parks through the worst of it.

              Leaving Michael and Bradley to finish up with Parks, Fanboy and McCrow drag Mann outside and ask him what the hell's going on.

              "Wilson turned on Parks hard, sent a hit team to his home." Mann explains. "We couldn't take him to a hospital, they'd find him there; and we sure as hell couldn't operate on him in the street."

              "Why here?" Fanboy asks suspiciously.

              "We thought you had a doctor on tap and we knew Wilson wouldn't have the nerve to come at us here." Mann explains.

              Fanboy nods his head in agreement. It makes a strange kind of sense.

              "So...you're joining the team?" Fanboy asks.

              Mann glares at him humorlessly. "No. Once Agent Parks recovers I intend to expose Wilson's crimes to the world and return to my position at the DHS. My...partner, will be joining me."

              Fanboy shrugs, nervous around these DHS thugs but too worried about Parks to turn them away. "If you're going to do that...there's something you should know."


              Over the next few hours Fanboy and McCrow fill Michael and Mann in on just who Wilson is and what he's capable of. Just a day or two ago Mann would have considered such accusations ridiculous, but now...

              It's Prophet that finally interrupts their bonding session; dragging everybody into his control room as breaking news flashes across the screen.

              One screen shows a scene in New York City where an athletic man in a skin tight, red and blue suit lifts a schoolbus to safety after an accident which sent it hurtling off a bridge. They call him The Big Brother.

              Another shows a low resolution cellphone video of a man in L.A. in a yellow shirt stretching his arm more than a city block to grab a purse snatcher and haul him to justice. He's naturally referred to as The Rubberman.

              In Detroit a hulking 6'8'' figure in a thick radiation suit, calling himself Mr Fission, successfully ended a gang war which has been plaguing the city's streets for the better part of a year.

              Chicago has an older gentleman in denim coveralls who simply calls himself The Engineer who foiled an apparent bank robbery attempt by transforming the suspect's getaway vehicle into a miniature howitzer and holding them at gunpoint until police arrived.

              Everyone present looks on with some degree of astonishment, specifically Mann. "This shouldn't be happening." he mutters.

              "Tell me about it! What the hell are we paying our publicist for?" Fanboy shouts. "How the hell am I not in this?"

              Mann shakes his head. "This is national news...your little publicity stunt could be played off as a laugh but this? This is going to change things. Why hasn't the DHS killed this story?"

              Fanboy is surprised to discover that he knows something that Mann doesn't and explains that its because THEY made these guys.

              Mann seems shocked and stumbles away to think about things.


              Everyone else excuses themselves for the night but Michael decides to check on Parks once more before hitting the hay. Heading towards the infirmary however, he notices a little girl who glows with a strange green light.

              Once she sees him, she bolts downstairs and seems to disappear. Curious, he moves to follow and calls after her. She doesn't respond, however as he turns a corner into the kitchen he sees a skeleton wreathed in the same greenish light standing with its back to him.

              "Little girl?" Michael asks confused, causing the skeleton to slowly turn and wail at him.

              He takes a step forward and is encased in superheated flame, his skin blackens and he shouts out in pain. By the time Fanboy bursts into the room, he's sitting on the floor bareassed naked, covered in a layer of black soot.

              "Did you guys know you have a ghost?" Michael asks nonchalantly.






              The big day is here and Roger insists that Fanboy come enjoy his son's first wedding with him, assuring the young man that it has nothing to do with the fact that he's been drinking for the past 32 hours straight in celebration and needs a ride. Fanboy is reluctant, but realizes it HAS been a while since he's taken one of Depaliamo's vintage cars out for a ride and decides it might be fun to get out for the day.

              Without much fanfare, they drive to the church that McCrow's ludicrously expensive wedding planner picked out and mingle a bit with the crowd. Franklin pulls his dad away to thank him again and introduces McCrow to his future inlaws.

              Neither seem particularly glad to meet him and McCrow puts it off as typical snobbery, the soon to be bride however is ecstatic when she notices him traipsing around the halls and tightly embraces him; thanking McCrow for his generous contribution to their wedding.

              McCrow decides to roll a Sleight of Hand check at this point and gets a 1. I ask him what he's doing and he announces that he's pinching that ass; he is of course less than stealthy and the blushing bride to be excuses herself quickly. He stumbles drunkenly, muttering to himself.

              "Don't you ever get tired of being an ass Roger?" his ex-wife Bonnie asks, her husband Bill by her side. Bonnie's around McCrow's age but has taken considerably better care of herself than her ex husband; she has blonde, shoulder length hair and a fair complexion. Bill is a little older than McCrow with distinguished streaks of grey in his dark hair; however he too appears to be someone who's never spent an evening huffing paint fumes behind a hardware store.

              "Don't you.." Roger starts and then just shrugs and takes a swig from his hip flask. "Shut up bitch." he snorts, shouldering past Bill irritably.

              Fanboy hovers near McCrow, snickering all the while. That is until a wheezing, grating voice calls from behind them "What's this boy, you turn fruity on me?"

              Roger rolls a Willsave vs Fear and fails spectacularly before turning pure white and shuddering. "N-n-no Sir. This here is-"

              A thick wooden cane strikes Roger in the side of the face and shuts him right up. Fanboy turns around in shock and gawks, open mouthed. It's like looking at McCrow in a funhouse mirror.

              The man sits low to the ground in a creaky old wheelchair, both legs amputated at the knee yet carries an old wooden cane anyway. His face is the spitting image of Roger, though thinner and splotchier; with a patchy beard instead of just a mustache. The man's eyes are severely crosseyed and glazed over with cataracts.

              "This one of them boys? Who're you boy!?" the man barks, his distant gaze lolling about without focus.

              "McCrow, who the hell is-" Fanboy starts, before the wooden cane cracks him in the jaw so hard his teeth rattle.

              "My name friends call me McCrow, you call me Sir!" the old man shouts, wildly swinging the cane (but missing) twice more just in case.

              Fanboy holds his mouth painfully and stares wide eyed at the cane. "That hurt like hell you-" a second blow cracks him in the mouth and he tastes blood.

              "Sorry, Sir!" Fanboy shouts, stumbling away from the crazy old man who reeks like kerosine; presumably for the same reason Roger reeks of whiskey.

              "Ezekiel!" a heavy set woman with a thick german accent shouts, pulling the elder McCrow away from Fanboy before he can finish what he started.

              "That boy gonna learn some manners if I gotta whip 'em into him!" Ezekiel McCrow rants as she wheels him into the church. "I don't take no backsass woman, not from him; not from you; not from..."

              He trails off as the two of them roll out of sight and Fanboy just stares after him in abject horror. Roger is still visibly shaken.

              "Why the HELL would you invite that man!?" Fanboy asks, wiping blood from his busted lip.

              "I DIDN'T invite him." McCrow hisses. "NOBODY in their right mind would invite..."

              It suddenly dawns on Roger that he probably should have specified to the wedding planner that his father wasn't invited ahead of time...

              "Kind of explains a lot though..." Fanboy muses.

              "About what?" Roger asks, oblivious.

              Fanboy just shakes his head and goes inside.

              Ben McCrow sits down excitedly next to Roger while everyone takes their places, Roger realizes that he barely recognizes the boy. It's been... He can't even remember the last time he actually saw him. The two make small talk until the bridal march plays and everyone finally goes silent.

              The service is nice, the minister has a vaguely Mr Rogers quality about him that bugs McCrow but he's too busy watching his father sitting in the aisle and eyeballing him to pay much attention. Then he finally hears "You may now kiss the bride." and rises with the rest of the guests to applaud them.

              Franklin and his new wife turn to walk down the aisle but stop halfway as a large, heavily scarred man with a green canister under his arm walks towards them; clapping slowly. McCrow and Fanboy immediately stand up as they recognize this as the form Wilson had when they first met him on the bus.

              "A lovely service McCrow." Wilson calls out, tapping the canister against a pew threateningly as a group if well dressed (and better armed) Italians move to block the door.

              Franklin looks over at his dad, obviously confused. "What is this dad?" he asks nervously.

              Pushing past his youngest son Ben to reach the aisle, McCrow shouts at both of them to get back.

              "Takes you back...eh McCrow?" Wilson says, shattering the top of the canister and allowing the green gas to begin flooding the room.

              "You son of a bitch!" McCrow shouts, "Get everyone out of-"

              Gunshots ring out as the Italians open fire. I roll to randomly see who's at risk of getting hit and Ben takes a bullet through the chest, collapsing just as Roger spins around to see it happen.

              People begin screaming in pain and fear, Fanboy takes to the air and exerts enough force against the wall to crack it outwards; but not quite enough to break through. Wilson unleashes a similar telekinetic burst against McCrow who grabs onto a nearby pew and weathers the blow; his mouth still gaping open as he watches his youngest son bleed to death.

              The gas already has already claimed a handful of victims and the Italians have scored a few more. Wild gunshots ring out from the middle of the crowd and Fanboy jerks back to witness Ezekiel McCrow waving a pair of hand guns around and firing randomly towards the back of the church; surprisingly he manages to take out an Italian despite his legally blind status.

              Roger notices none of this. The shock of watching his son go down is wearing off and his mind won't focus on the boy's slim chances of survival or need for medical attention. All he sees is red; all he hears is the thunderous rush of blood pumping in his ears; all he can think to say is...

              "Fuuuu-" he charges Wilson with a curse on his lips; every pipe in building rupturing at once to provide him the water he needs for his vengeance. Just before he reaches the General, his transformation into his battle form is complete and he latches on with both hands; attempting to crush the man outright.

              Wilson smiles as he's coated in Tiffany's diamond like exterior and flares his arms out; bursting Roger's hold on him before delivering a blow that drives McCrow back a step.

              Fanboy exerts his mental powers once more and shatters a portion of the wall, allowing the completely panicked crowd an avenue of escape. Or at least it did before he notices a dozen Italians waiting outside along with twice that number of Luvbots and an Assaultbot. Cursing, he hurls a pair of their own Assaultbots through the hole; ordering them to clear a path.

              Roger lands a blow on Wilson threatens to crack his crystalline exterior, however to his growing irritation it heals before his eyes. Wilson manages to stab Roger within his own watery shell and though blood briefly flows, it too heals rapidly.

              Ezekiel continues firing without a care in the world, as do the Italians. People go down on both sides and the gas claims even more people. Fanboy's Assaultbots destroy their Italian counterpart and then turn their attention to everything else in the street; it's a brief but ugly fight.

              Fanboy leads the panicked crowd outside, only to watch in horror as a sedan sized German shepherd slams into one of his Assaultbots and crushes the thing until it's reduced to a simple smoking sphere.

              McCrow roars in mindless rage and hurls a haymaker at Wilson, connecting and managing to accomplish yet another crack; he then grabs the monstrous superhuman and hurls him like a stone into one of the Italians, crushing the man outright and stunning Wilson with the ferocity of the attack.

              Before Wilson can react, McCrow leaps forward with a twohanded blow, bursting the floor beneath him from the impact and sweeping the general off his feet once more. Using the diamond encrusted murderer like a cudgel he crushes yet another Italian before hurling Wilson against the far wall once more.

              Using a Hero Point McCrow lashes out across the room with both arms, snatching Wilson by the feet and whipping him around through several pews before lifting him above his head and driving him into the ground with so much force that his hardened exterior actually fractures and begins falling off in chunks.

              McCrow begins raining blow after blow down on his stunned/unconscious enemy; hoping to deal enough damage to make regeneration simply impossible. The remainder of the Italians succumb to the gas around him.

              Out of nowhere, McCrow is telekinetically forced backwards and Wilson rolls out of his personal crater with a series of cracking sounds. "Not bad McCrow..." Wilson slurs. "But I've got more tricks up my sleeves than that."

              McCrow roars once more and charges forward, however Wilson has simply disappeared.

              Outside, Fanboy telekinetically grapples the gargantuan dog; tossing it left and right as his Assaultbot holds off a new swarm of standard Luvbots. People are scattering in the street; some are gunned down while others just narrowly manage to slip away.

              "Help, please!" Fanboy hears and turns to see Bill and Franklin carrying the wounded Ben from inside. "He needs a doctor or he's going to die!" Franklin shouts.

              Jerkin his head from one side to the other, Fanboy telepathically shouts to Roger "McCrow. Outside, now! Italians are about to swarm." before snatching Ben off the ground and flinging himself into the sky without another word.

              The great beast finally tears the final Assaultbot to pieces before turning its eyes to the rest of the cowering survivors. Just as it lunges forward however, Roger bursts through the wall like a derange Kool Aid man and tackles it head over heels.

              Barely holding the dog with one arm, McCrow turns and uses the other to direct a veritable tidal wave to sweep the charging Italians into a wall; smashing them back and forth. The beast struggles to get free, so Roger tightens his grip. It opens its mouth to snap at him and he jams one of his liquid extremities down its throat in retaliation.

              It growls and snarls and bucks; but soon begins sputtering and whimpering before finally ceasing its struggles and dies.

              By the time Fanboy returns the majority of the Italians have dragged their wounded out of the church and escaped; while their Luvbots stuck around to prevent pursuit. Almost all of the civilians are gone and the first responders are on their way.

              Franklin and his wife sit weeping in the wreckage; McCrow in his human form lingers nearby but is unable to think of anything worth saying. Realizing that he probably doesn't want to be here when the cops show up, McCrow slips away.

              Fanboy scans the city streets from above as best he can until he notices a large number of similar vehicles heading in the same direction. He chooses to follow at a distance and tracks them to Depaliamo's old home.

              He mentally scans those below and inside, but realizes none of these are actually Depaliamo's men. As always, blood begets blood and as they huddle behind their safe little walls waiting to defend against an ambush they don't notice as three little spheres land nearby and Fanboy's remaining 3 Assaultbots form behind their defensive line.

              The fight is short and not worth mentioning. Only a crater remains.






              O'Grady calls them the next morning to confirm that their pyrotechnics are ready for their fight against Tree King, however McCrow is in no mood. He sits at the hospital until he finally learns that Ben has stabilised...though most likely won't regain use of his limbs.

              Both of Franklin's inlaws as well as his mother Bonnie were caught in the gas; Bonnie is still in critical condition but his wife's parents passed only hours ago and she blames Roger and, by extension, Franklin for bringing this down on their family.

              It's impossible to place a number yet on the civilian casualties as those slain by the gas deformed so severely that it's hard to tell where one ends and another begins. Only 10 gassed survivors have been recovered. Ezekiel McCrow however has yet to be found; neither a body or his chair.

              Franklin is too numb to yell, but he demands answers. He wants to know how Roger apparently knows The Fanboy, how Roger controlled the water and ABOVE ALL why so many people had to die. Why Ben will never walk again.

              Roger explains about the bus accident and tries to describe their beef with Wilson and Depaliamo, but doesn't get much further than his initial attack on the warehouse when Franklin just shakes his head and tells him to get out.

              McCrow starts to open his mouth but shuts it again with a grunt. He storms off to lose himself in a bottle, stopping only to call and tell Fanboy that he'll have to deal with Tree King on his own. Fanboy understands, in fact suggests it might be easier that way.



              Fanboy finds himself near the park, the spore cloud hanging over the area so thick he can feel the weight against his forcefield. It's been only three days and already the place is unrecognizable. A 15ft wall has been erected around the perimeter, constructed out of materials seized from the surrounding buildings. The wall is reinforced by new plantlife growing directly into it.

              Tree King himself is nearly 60ft at this point and still growing. Fanboy lands in the park itself, his hands raised in a gesture of peace. He continues standing this way as Brick and a pair of Tree Clones lumber closer to him.

              "You're trespassing." Brick growls.

              "I apologize." Fanboy says, "But I've come to speak with you and the Tree King."

              "I'm listening." the pair of clones say in tandem.

              "I...WE need your help." Fanboy says genuinely.

              Brick and Tree King seem drawn somewhere between amusement and rage. Brick is the first to respond.

              "WHY would WE help YOU?!" the stone faced giant barks. "You locked us up and threw away the key. Treated us like monsters! You-"

              "We may have treated you like monsters." Fanboy interrupts. "But we found the man who MADE you that way."

              The faces of Brick and Tree King each go slack; a strangely human expression of shock clear to see.

              "The man that did this to you. To US..." Fanboy explains. "We found him. Now surely, whatever problem you've got with us can wait right? I mean compared to HIM?"

              Brick and Tree King exchange questioning looks, obviously never expecting this day to actually come.

              "He's gone too far, too often and he's made us desperate." Fanboy admits with a weary sigh. "McCrow and I...we want a truce. At least until he's dealt with; then we can go back to tearing each other to pieces or whatever you want to do."

              "Why...would you come to us?" Brick asks, a note of genuine emotion in his inhuman voice.

              "We figured that you were the only people in the world who'd want to see him taken down as much as we do." Fanboy explains. "And...he's a dangerous man. Too dangerous to go at alone." he admits.

              Tree King and Brick stare at each other in silence for a moment and then a smile splits the tree clone's face as it extends a wickedly clawed hand for Fanboy to shake.

              "We're dangerous men too." Tree King says, sadistic glee obvious in his voice.






              It's several days later when Parks finally wakes up and the first thing out of his mouth is to ask Mann how his trial run went. Mann assures him it was better than they dreamed.

              Parks smiles weakly and checks his phone, discovering almost 20 missed calls from his superiors at the DHS. Calling them back, he reaches a man named Agent Reeves who claims to have found a new lead in the Wilson case and wants to meet personally to discuss it. He gives Parks a time later in the afternoon and a place before hanging up.

              Michael warns that this is obviously a trap, but Parks is unwilling to abandon what may be their only chance left at stopping Wilson. Mann is quick to offer his protection and Michael reluctantly agrees to come along as well.

              The three agents slip out of the warehouse without a word, finding nobody around to question them. Their destination is a local hotel, a room on the 6th floor. Immediately upon entering the lobby they recognize plain clothes S.C.A.R. troopers by the way the men carry themselves. Each trooper is wearing a strange earpiece on his left ear.

              They head up to their destination and find even more S.C.A.R. men muddling around in the hall. Michael is still in favor of bolting.

              Parks knocks on their destination and a short, greying man who identifies himself as Agent Reeves answers the door; inviting Parks and his entourage inside where General Wilson is already waiting, a devious smile on his lips.

              All three agents are taken aback and that's before Michael nudges Mann in the ribs and motions towards the room's other occupants. Despite the fact that they're in civilian clothes it's impossible to mistake the men he'd seen on T.V. almost every day this week. Big Brother and The Engineer.

              Mann tenses up, but nobody appears hostile yet.

              "Now Agent Parks..." Reeves says, taking a seat and motioning for them to do the same. "We have gotten some outlandish and frankly disturbing accusations from you lately. You claim that Wilson here is some sort of...serial killer? It's beyond preposterous."

              Parks starts to speak and is cut off.

              "What proof do you have for such accusations?" Reeves demands.

              Parks mentions the testimony of Fanboy, McCrow, Bradley, Lucky Dan...but Reeves just shakes his head.

              "Before you drag a superior's name through the mud; I expect a good deal more than THAT." Reeves snaps, standing to his feet.

              Shaking Wilson's hand, Reeves apologizes for all of this and assures him that Parks will be dealt with officially for this.

              Mann and Michael start to protest but Parks shakes his head in disbelief. Called here just to be rebuked...?

              The Engineer steps over to Wilson and extends his hand. With a joyful glance to Parks, Wilson shakes it and moves over to Big Brother, his smile threatening to spill off his face.

              "It's gone." The Engineer says, his hand pressed against the wall.

              Big Brother's hand moves faster than the eye can follow and he snatches Wilson's arm by the sleeve before he manages to touch him.

              "You sure?" Reeves asks, only for The Engineer to try again and confirm that yep; his power's gone.

              Wilson suddenly appears panicked, his eyes wide with fear as he realizes he's been caught. With a slick grin however he says "Release me and I'm sure we can work this out."

              Big Brother smiles, tapping the earpiece in his own ear and sidesteps Wilson's second attempt at grabbing him before responding with a straight left of his own...which severs Wilson's torso from the rest of him and hurls him through a wall in a shower of blood and gore.

              "Oh my God!" Big Brother shouts, genuinely surprised and embarassed. "I just thought...I mean...I didn't think it'd do that."

              "Chase him dumbass!" Michael shouts, startling Big Brother out of his reverie. "Don't stop to chat until the job's done!"

              "Uhh...yeah." Big Brother agrees, lunging forward in time to witness Wilson run bareassed down the hall and fling himself out of the first window he comes to. Big Brother leaps out after him.

              Parks just blinks. "What was that?" he stammers as several S.C.A.R. agents charge in, covered in a shimmering yellow forcefield and wielding strange looking weapons.

              "I've been a little suspicious lately." Reeves admits as he waves them down. "Wilson kept assuring us that everything was going smooth; but this job should have been over months ago. Not to mention him requisitioning certain...supplies that have no business leaving The Compound for God knows what. I won't lie, your constant insinuations didn't win you many fans; but I thought they were worth investigating in light of other evidence."

              "But..you just turned over another power to him." Mann points out. "As if he wasn't dangerous enough beforehand."

              "He has my powers." The Engineer agrees "But not none of my degrees. Being able to reshape the building blocks of the universe isn't that impressive when you don't know what any of them do."

              Michael cackles uproariously and Mann asks about the new armor on the S.C.A.R. troopers. Reeves motions towards Mann's own arm and mentions that they've started dealing with a... private contractor.

              Reeves then extends a hand to Parks and asks if he'd consider returning to the helm. Parks stammers an affirmative as he reaccepts his old position.







              McCrow and Fanboy sit across the table from Luvess.

              "Two million, no more." Fanboy says.

              "I don't get out of bed for two million anymore." Luvless says with a laugh. "I thought you boys were serious here, you're just trying to give ME the pocket change I already passed on to you."

              "What do you want?" Fanboy asks exasperatedly.

              "What do you got?" Luvless quips back.

              "Two million and a canister." McCrow offers flatly.

              Luvless's eyebrows shoot up. "What kind of canister?" he asks.

              "You know what kind. The kind that made us into what we are." McCrow replies curtly.

              "Well...I suppose I could provide some token modifications for-" Luvless starts but is interrupted.

              "Hell no." Fanboy snaps. "We give you a canister, we want a COMPLETE reconstruction. Fully mobile, submersible, improved systems and weaponry...some kind of doctor bots. We want EVERYTHING upgraded."

              "Fine." Luvless says with a defeated sigh. "I'll make your warehouse float and shoot lasers."

              "I also want a lightsaber." Fanboy demands.

              Luvless stares at him like he's an idiot. "A lightsaber? What are you even going to do with a lightsaber?"

              "I don't know, I don't care. This is something that not even YOU can duplicate Luvless and we alone have access to it. It'll be worth your time to build me a lightsaber." Fanboy insists.

              "Fine." Luvless says with a shrug, he figures that everyone needs a hobby. "How about you big guy? You have an irrational demand too?"

              Roger sits there, his hands crossed in front of him as he pictures his youngest son ending up like Ezekiel. Old and bitter...an invalid. "I saw what you did to Mann..." he says after a moment's thought. "Can you do it again?"

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: "Let's Get This Straight, You're The Sidekick!"

                That's the last of the 'official' campaign for the moment, but I ran a one shot with a different group set in Ventnor City's possible future. It's a fun little 'What If' story, so I'll include it too. Hope everybody enjoys...THE WATCH.





                It's been eight long years since The Incident which changed Ventnor City from just another pit stop near Atlantic City into the superhuman capitol of the world. Only eight years and yet few can remember what the world was like before.

                At one time Ventnor City had a population of just over ten thousand. Only a few years later that numbers has swelled to nearly sixty thousand; a good 45% of which are classified as superhumans. Roughly 10% were never actually human at all.

                Nowadays, nobody comes into Ventnor City and absolutely nobody leaves. Even without the government cordon which surrounds the city with orders to shoot escapees on sight, the twin powers which run the town simply wouldn't allow it. The Superhuman Coalition owns the northern border of Ventnor City and the shoreline is owned by McCrow and Friends(A Limited Partnership), each is a faction of petty gods which demands regular tithes for the right to live in their city; while making examples of those who think they're too good to live in their city.

                The city is home to dozens of neighborhoods, most under the control of competing Warlords; some of which have cast their lots in with the powers that be, others who bribe both sides for the right to run their neighborhoods like their own private kingdoms. Countless gangs either serve these warlords directly, or manage to operate under their collective noses.

                Our story however, revolves around the free province of Mercy Avenue; an unaffiliated neighborhood which has fought hard to stay that way. They pay their tithes to both McCrow and the Coalition and in exchange neither side directly moves against them; however as they are unaffiliated, neither side cares about their plights either.

                To survive in this day and age they have formed....The Watch.

                Composed of the most able individuals from within the neighborhood, who are sadly still a far cry from the weakest of the warlords from the surrounding areas, the neighborhood watch seeks to nip crimes in the bud and save their property values one way or another.

                The day has come that each of our heroes have dreaded for some time now as the captain of the watch, Winged Man (pronounced Wing-ed Man) has posted a notice for assistance on their doors. Winged Man has no real authority in the neighborhood, but as founder of The Watch and one of its few regular members it's more than a little embarrassing to turn him down. Everybody has to do their part in this day and age.

                It's Monday night and the time has come for their first official Watch meeting. They find themselves sitting in Winged Man's dining room at a long table with numerous empty seats. Our heroes, as well as a young man with long hair and dirty clothes, sit on one side and the veteran Watch members sit on the other; Winged Man sits between his partners.

                In the middle of the table are several paper cups, as well as a cold bottle of Pepsi; a plate of lemon squares sit next to them and as Winged Man keeps telling the man with inky black skin and black fatigues sitting next to him; they're for guests only.

                Winged Man is a tall, middle aged man with salt and papper hair wearing an immaculate sweater vest. Most eyecatchingly however, he sports a pair of 6ft wings from his back. Most people say he reminds them of Mr Rogers and he mistakenly takes this as a compliment.

                "I'm glad you could make it!" Winged Man says cheerfully, pushing the plate of lemon squares in front of the two young girls and dirty man, "We appreciate you coming. I hope we didn't interrupt your plans."

                One of the young women, a girl with a perpetual frown on her face and a note of defeat in her voice says "No...I was just playing with my dog. Like usual..."

                The other young lady shrugs, "I'm just concerned with why you invited us here to begin with..."

                Winged Man sighs painfully and steeples his fingers in front of him. "As you know, we don't usually reach out to the neighborhood; that's for your own protection. But sometimes there are...accidents and we're forced to hold a recruitment drive to keep The Watch opertional."

                Looking around the room, both at the newcomers and his own team, Winged Man shakes his head sadly. "I'm sure you've all heard the rumors... There WAS an incident withe the tragically, if aptly, named Exploding Boy. He will be missed. But Mr Misfit and his wife Betty were also in the blast. They're stable, but we're keeping them in our prayers. Not to mention the fact that I haven't heard from The Once And Future Man in nearly a month and he is presumed to have kidnapped himself again. We're suddenly down to half our usual roster."

                With a look of resignation, Winged Man holds up his hands and says "We hate to have to ask so much of the community, but in order to keep the neighborhood safe and free we must ALL do our part."

                The sad young woman asks "What do you want us to do?"

                A genuine smile stretches across Winged Man's face as he says "All we need are people to take over our missing patrols. Tuesday and Thursday nights between ten and two. Just keep an eye out for any serious security breaches."

                The young ladies talk among themselves for a moment before agreeing that this is the least they could do.

                Winged Man claps his hands together. "Excellent." he says excitedly. "Since we're going to be working together, it's only natural that we should have a proper introduction. I am of course, the Winged Man. I would think that my abilities speak for themselves, but if you would like a first hand demonstration then I teach a women's self defense course Fridays at the Y. Come early and bring your own whistles."

                "To my left," Winged Man Continues, "Is the elusive Human Shadow."

                The man in question's skin is unnaturally dark, literally pitch black; as are his eyes. He wears a pair of black fatigues that are several shades lighter than his own skin. "You can be forgiven for not noticing me," the man starts; quickly finishing off a stolen lemon square less than stealthily. "Much like the elusive shadow from which I derive my name, I am impossible to follow."

                "A true to life man of mystery." Winged Man agrees. "To my right of course is our greatest champion. A man among men who surely needs no introduction to the good people of Mercy Avenue: The Mighty Manslug!"

                Arranged on a large wooden wagon is the severely bloated form of a 12ft long slug with a pitifully human face. It's eyes have rolled back into its head as though wracked in pain and its mouth is set in an eternal, wordless scream. A thick layer of slime drips off the giant gastropod's horrific body. It attempts to focus its eyes on the new arrivals and loudly rasps out "Kill....me..."

                Winged Man laughs obliviously and pats the disgusting creature's shoulder. "Haha, you're right Manslug, as always. I DO carry on, don't I?"

                The new arrivals stare at the pulsating mess before them and slightly wince.

                "So..what should we call the three of you?" Winged Man asks.

                The sad girl sighs and says that everybody just calls her Loser Face. Winged Man makes sure she's actually ok with being called that before shrugging and moving on. The other girl's name is Alicia.

                Manslug wordlessly sobs in the background, writhing on his little wagon.

                Turning to the young man, Winged Man asks his name as well.

                The man looks around and replies "Oh, me? I'm Jeff. You know, from down the street?"

                Winged Man's eyes widen in realization and he fishes a twenty out of his pocket. He slips it to Jeff and says that Jeff's mother already set things up; but warns Jeff that if something happens to his azaleas that he'll be switching landscapers yet again.

                Jeff takes his leave and disappointment sets in on the girls as they realize THIS is the team...

                Back to business, Winged Man glances over the new recruits. "The Watch can be dangerous on occasion, so we strive to provide mentors for new recruits. Just until you get acclimated at least. Since tomorrow is your first patrol, I suspect you'll need all the help you can get."

                The girls agree that's a fine idea.

                "That's why you'll be taking the Mighty Manslug." Winged Man says, either missing or ignoring the hope draining out of them. "He's been my right hand man since day one and there's no one I'd rather have at my side in a fight. Besides, the fresh air does him good and he's quite the night owl."

                Manslug looks pleadingly at the rest of his team and whimpers to himself "Just...let...me...die..."

                Winged Man laughs and claps Manslug on his sticky shoulder once again. "Plus he's SUCH a kidder! Never a dull moment with the Mighty Manslug around."

                Alicia looks at the writhing abomination and whispers to herself that it doesn't look like he's kidding to her.

                The basic Watch charter is quickly gone over and Winged Man calls the meeting to a close. He shakes each of their hands and thanks them for their impending service, pointing out that many are called but not all choose to answer.

                "I'm not sure what I can do, but I'll give it my all." Alicia says.

                With a look of absolute sincerity, Winged Man replies "Every bit helps."




                It's 10pm on a Tuesday and they've just begun their first shift on The Watch. Loser Face and Alicia are walking the streets with Alicia pulling along Manslug's little wagon as they go. He pretty much constantly sobs quietly to himself, but is otherwise fairly unintrusive.

                The neighborhood isn't all that large so within an hour they find themselves back where they started, just three more hours of this and they're home free. On their second pass they come across three teenage boys sitting on a curb and minding their own business. They're passing a joint between them and getting a little loud, but don't seem to be hurting anyone.

                Despite the fact that Winged Man stressed that ALL crime should be nipped in the bud (especially loitering, which is a fairly dangerous activity in this day and age) neither of the girls want to make a big deal out of some kids having fun and Manslug doesn't even appear to know where he is at the moment.

                They're about to move on when they hear a loud screeching sound, like metal on metal, followed by a heavy crash a block down the street. The kids bolt in different directions instinctively and new recruits grab Manslug's wagon and rush towards the sound.

                As the three of them turn the corner they immediately see the source of the disturbance: what looks like an armored car is laying on its side and a heavy duty truck seems to be almost embedded in it; which is strange enough, there's nothing anywhere around here that should warrant an armroed vehicle's protection, however the real spectacle is the truck's occupants.

                A massive man wearing a light blue suit with a dark blue jacket is literally prying the armored car apart with his bare hands while six men in light blue wetsuits complete with oxygen tanks, hold shotguns on the drivers of the armored car.

                Loser Face gets the drop on them and clears her throat, as the six scuba men look up she unleashes the power she was cursed with all those years ago. Everyone looking at her feels an intense feeling of despair wash over them; weighing them down and overwhelming them. One man breaks into tears.

                The large man smiles as he resists the effects and they can see that his skin is strangely pale and his mouth is considerably larger than it should be. His teeth seem overly numerous and terrifyingly sharp. He tears the side off the armored car with a casual grunt.

                While the one man sobs uncontrollably, the other five open fire with their weapons against the team. Loser Face dodges out of the way, while Alicia takes a handful of pellets to the shoulder. Manslug takes numerous shots since he's the largest target, however they seem to lose all momentum once they come into contact with his slime and are slowly expunged.

                Alicia rubs her hands together to build up a charge before unleashing a burst of electricity into the chest of one of the man in scuba gear and while he's pushed back a step he manages to shake it off.

                Manslug wiggles violently as a Full Round Action and manages to roll his wagon 5ft in the direction of the shooters. "Do.....it!" he roars breathlessly.

                Loser Face charges into the fray and throws a punch which lucks out and connects with a man's throat, he gags and goes down gasping for air. Another man sobs in despair as he succumbs to her abilities.

                The large man pulls a foot long wooden box out of the back of the armored car and cracks it open, revealing a thick gold plated amulet which he dangles in one hand for a moment before strolling around the side of the upturned vehicle and shouting in a booming, boisterous voice "You think YOU cam defeat Sharkman and his Sharkpack? You've got another thing coming!"

                There's a hail of gunfire, most of which slams into Manslug while the rest misses them completely. "Get down stupid slug!" Alicia shouts, but Manslug seems to be holding his head a little higher to give them a better shot. The bullets seem to be doing no good.

                One of the members of the 'Sharkpack' charges Alicia and throws a haymaker, barely missing her chin. She presses a hand into his chest and delivers an overwhelming burst of energy which lays him out.

                "Push...me..." Manslug suggest pitifully and Alicia kicks his wagon, sending it rolling downhill towards the Sharkpack. He wiggles as best he can to get even closer. "Please....?" Manslug almost begs. The Sharkpack laugh at the pathetic superhuman's desperation.

                Loser Face's ability consumes almost everyone on the field except for Sharkman and she uses this chance to punch another of the Sharkpack in the back of his head, the man goes down and she smiles to herself.

                "You think that's funny?" Sharkman asks from behind her. Loser Face starts to turn around, Alicia tries to shout a warning, but before either is finished Sharkman has rushed the 50 feet between himself and Loser Face and delivered a flying knee to her spine which snaps like a dry twig. (The DC for the attack was 34 after Power Attack and critting. In all, she rolled a six to resist.)

                She tries to say something but only manages a bloody rasp comes before she succumbs to the shock and passes out. The remaining Sharkpack members snap out of their funk now that she's no longer clouding their minds and open fire on Alicia who manages to dodge most of the attacks but catches another bullet in the thigh. The final Sharkpack member chuckles as he walks up to the Manslug, presses the barrel of his gun directly against the creature's head and fires.

                Alicia unleashes all the charge she has towards Sharkman who's pushed back a step or two but shakes off the charge like a wet dog.

                Manslug's distant gaze settles on the man that's so close to him as the useless bullets push their way out of his forehead. The man starts to question what the hell's going on when Manslug's eyes suddenly lose their usual unfocused quality and something else takes over. Some dark, primal survival instinct which he has no control over. Manslug lunges forward and his jaw splits open, burying dozens of sharp, sawlike teeth into the man's neck and chest. Before the man even has a chance to scream he's missing the bits that let him and yet Manslug continues feeding despite the fact.

                Alicia, Sharkman and the entire Sharkpack stand staring at him in open mouthed horror and almost as one they each take a step backwards and away from him.

                Manslug suddenly seems to realize what's going on and his sobs grow louder as he throws back his gore soaked head and shouts "WHAT...HAVE...I...DOOOOOONE?!"

                Sharkman blinks and mutters "What the f*** have I stumbled into?"

                Alicia takes this opportunity to slam him with a twin blast of electricity that sends Sharkman's teeth rattling together.

                Sharkman growls and seems poised to retaliate when a black figure rushes out of an alley, still slipping on a dark bullet proof vest as he scrambles to the scene of the crime. At nearly the same time, Winged Man charges from another side street.

                Sharkman glances at the amulet in his hand and decides that it's more important than a street fight. He shouts to his men to fight like their lives depend on it, because as far as he's concerned they do.

                The remaining three men gulp but rush the remaining heroes anyway. Winged Man reaches his man before the guy can bring his gun to bear and points a small cannister into the man's face, spritzing him slightly. The man shouts and grabs his eyes, completely abandoning his gun.

                "I imagine that hurts." Winged Man lectures him. "I'm sorry, but that's what you get when you try to rob my neighborhood in the middle of the night."

                The man continues wailing as the second man takes a shot and miraculously misses Winged Man. The Human Shadow presses a tazer to the back of that man's neck and he collapses like a puppet with its strings cut.

                Alicia charges after Sharkman and hits him with a powerful enough blast to drive him to his knees, however she makes the mistake of getting too close and he responds with a backhand that throws her about 20ft backwards and breaks most of her ribs. She blasts him again with everything she's got, but he just grits his teeth and bears it; charging for everything he's worth into the night with his stolen trinket.


                When the dust finally clears and Alicia's limped back to the armored car, she finds Winged Man kneeling sadly next to the corpse of Loser Face. "It never gets any easier..." he says morosely; closing her pained eyes. "But...at least she died protecting friends and family. It's all any of us can ask for."

                Manslug writhes in irritation. "Why....not....me....?" he whines deeply.

                Winged Man wraps an arm around the still bloody Manslug and wipes a tear from his own eye. "I know what you mean Manslug. Why not ME? Why must we old timers keep burying those who depend on us? It's just not fair."

                The Human Shadow rests hand on Alicia's shoulder. "You did good rookie, even with...you know. Who knows what he would've done if you hadn't stumbled on him."

                Alicia bites her lip nervously, realizing that despite the fact Winged Man seems genuinely upset at the death of a recruit, he doesn't seem surprised. She realizes that The Watch is far deadlier than she believed. "I just...I just wish he hadn't gotten away." she mutters.

                "That's the way it goes sometimes." The Human Shadow says bitterly. "Don't worry though, we'll track him down as soon as we figure out what he was doing here to begin with."

                Alicia nods in agreement, "How do we go about doing that?"

                The Human Shadow smiles proudly. "You just leave that to me. Much like the elusive shadow from which I derive my name, I'm QUITE resourceful"

                "We'll get on that soon," Winged Man states, "But first...there's something we must do."

                Alicia tilts her head questioningly and Winged Man looks out over the still sleeping neighborhood, a sadness etched on his face.

                "We've got to run a new recruitment drive." Winged Man says sadly.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: "Let's Get This Straight, You're The Sidekick!"

                  This game sounds amazing!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: "Let's Get This Straight, You're The Sidekick!"

                    Thankya, it's been a blast to play so far and managed to get several people I never assumed would touch tabletop into the hobby.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: "Let's Get This Straight, You're The Sidekick!"

                      This is an amazing and brilliant idea! Something I would love to play. Excellent work and I hope to see more up soon! I just read through it in one day and couldn't look away. How did Fanboy's character build his TK? Which powers did he take and put together?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: "Let's Get This Straight, You're The Sidekick!"

                        Glad you enjoyed it! This one's my only M&M campaign so far but if you're interested in Pathfinder or Shadowrun I've got a few other campaign journals posted over on Giantitp.

                        I don't have Fanboy's character sheet on me at the moment, but I believe the bulk of his TK abilities just revolved around adding Area and Selective to a portion of his power ranks and then using Power Stunts when he needed something specific.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: "Let's Get This Straight, You're The Sidekick!"

                          Cool, thanks! I think I will check those out. I used to be a huge Shadowrun fan, but not so much now. I just discovered this game, mostly I played the old TSR Marvel Superheroes game (Gotta love FASERIP). I'm looking forward to jumping into this game. It seems like it will take a bit to get used to, but threads like these, with your great storytelling style, make it easier to grasp a lot of it. Thanks again.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: "Let's Get This Straight, You're The Sidekick!"

                            It's been two weeks and thing are changing.

                            The warehouse is in the middle of a complete overhaul, getting reinforced with Luvtech technology to become the pinnacle of modern engineering. A stuffed and mounted Fenrir, mid-lunge, greets visitors as soon as they enter.

                            Parks has a case of 10 Luvtech Mindcontrol Aversion Earpieces delivered to our heroes in appreciation for their past assistance, though warns them that with his position restored he won't be able to look the other way on their habitual misdeeds.

                            They naturally have no idea what he's talking about.

                            All said, these two weeks are good for McCrow and Friends, it gives them a chance to really sit back and rest for the first time in a long time.

                            Once receiving word from Luvless that Ben's procedure was a success, McCrow celebrates by introducing his favored droplet Stallone to a bit of 'culture'. By the end of these two weeks, Stallone has undergone a rather...drastic change.

                            His sole experience with the outside world now being through 80's action movies, Stallone attempts to emulate his new heroes. Using his malleable nature, Stallone becomes well over 3ft tall and appears heavily muscled. He alternates between drinking with McCrow and lifting weights, though neither action actually does anything for him. Regardless, he now has a cigar in his mouth 24/7, though regularly has to change them as they get too soggy to hold their shape.

                            Stallone also develops a fascination with guns, the larger the better. Naturally, he finds himself drawn to Chavenski's SAW as it's just sitting there not being used for anything awesome. The other members of the team constantly wrestle it away from him, but Roger finds it adorable.

                            Fanboy is also quite busy during this time as Luvless made good on his promise and delivered a brilliant blue bladed lightsaber as per their agreement, to Fanboy's great delight it's an exact replica of Luke Skywalker's from the movie, though rather than powered by The Force it has a simple A.I. built into it to anticipate Fanboy's movements before they happen.

                            To the team's growing irritation, he practices with it nonstop. The rule becomes "If you don't want it lightsabered, keep it in your room."

                            While it's easy to imagine that the whole time is wasted, it does take every ounce of their diplomacy and connections to keep the national guard from coming in and burning down the park once Wilson's influence abates.

                            Neither Fanboy nor McCrow want to explain to Parks that they're working with Tree King, but they do manage to strongarm the mayor into running interference with the same governor he'd just finished begging for assistance. At least for a little while.

                            During this time, both Chavenski and Kavlight both wake up with very different experiences.

                            Chavenski is immensely disappointed; he feels no different than he did before they gassed him and still struggles for every breath. He becomes sullen and locks himself in a room to drink in peace. Depressed at the thought of being little better than a cripple forever.

                            Bradley reports strange phenomena outside Chavenski's door. Floating silverware, feeling his feet are made of lead, etc... However everybody has the decenty to leave Chavenski to his drinking in peace.

                            Kavlight on the other hand claims to feel marvelous. Once he wakes up they prod him for information on his power, but except for marginally increased strength they can't figure it out.

                            Eventually, Fanboy starts to apologize to the good doctor for putting him in such a dangerous position to begin with.

                            Kavlight waves him off, a disgusted look on his face as his eyes fall to the floor. "Don't...don't apologize. It was my fault. I...I was the one that told Depaliamo about the canisters in the first place. He-"

                            Before Kavlight can say another word, Roger cracks him acros the jaw with enough force to bounce the shocked doctor off the off the wall and face face first into the floor. Kavlight starts to stand up but takes a kick to the jaw that flips him over again.

                            "Cool it McCrow." Fanboy says, holding up a hand and gritting his teeth angrily. "Let's hear what the dead man has to say first."

                            "It's not what you think!" Kavlight says, rubbing his jaw but surprisingly not spitting out any teeth. "He's got my daughter! Had her picked up within hours of getting free..."

                            "You should have come to us!" Fanboy shouts in response.

                            "I couldn't!" Kavlight stammers. "She's being held somewhere in Maryland, you'd never have gotten to her before Depaliamo made good on his threats..."

                            "We could have tried!" Fanboy retorts as McCrow runs his hand under the sink, grumbling angrily as the bruising heals itself.

                            "Like you tried with Bradley's dad?" Kavlight asks, looking up from his place on the ground.

                            Fanboy opens his mouth to reply, but nothing comes out.

                            "That's why you don't use f***ing mobsters to do your taxes." McCrow growls, wiping his hands off.

                            "No," Fanboy sighs, rubbing his temples in defeat. "That's why you don't let them go."

                            "He doesn't know I'm alive yet. Certainly not that I'm awake." Kavlight points out. "I...I need to go look for my girl, before he tries to get in touch with me again..or worse, before he thinks I'm not useful anymore."

                            "Absolutely not." Fanboy replies immediately.

                            "Why not?" Kavlight nearly shouts.

                            "Maybe because you just admitted you're a rat?" Roger does shout. "You EVER step out of this warehouse again and it will be with a GPS rammed up your ass sideways."

                            Kavlight starts to argue, but Fanboy waves him off. "Wait..maybe that's not such a bad idea..."

                            Kavlight looks at Faboy in horror.

                            "No," Fanboy replies. "Not a GPS, but an escort. Somebody to make sure that you stay on the straight and narrow while you're out there. Take the Beastman with you."

                            Kavlight's eyes go wide and he shudders. "How about Bradley? Or Richard? I'm not entirely comfortable with Beastman..."

                            "Beastman, or nothing." Fanboy replies.

                            Kavlight sighs. "Fine, I just...I always get the feeling that he wants to eat me, rape me or skin me."

                            Roger hauls Kavlight to his feet and stares him in the eyes. "You go running to Depaliamo again, he WILL."



                            Meanwhile, the DHS is scrambling like mad to sort out their affairs. After a lengthy and fruitless search for the escaped Wilson, Big Brother is called home for what they believe to be more pressing concerns and Michael and Mann are assigned to the case in his place. Thanks to their new budding partnership with Luvless, Michael manages to requisition a teleporter to help him keep up with Mann's ridiculous upgrades but their own search is equally fruitless.

                            Dr Steinz was eventually declared innocent of the supposed atrocities he commited under Wilson, having argued that once the General stole HIS power he was unable to resist any command given. It was a flimsy excuse, but Steinz sold it well even with his powers nullified.

                            Their only lead during this time was a break-in at a National Guard Armory, though they arrived too late to stop it.

                            It was impossible to say exactly what was missing, because everything that wasn't stolen was severely burned; whatever accomplished this turned rifles into puddles and destroyed merchandise and records with equal impunity.

                            Michael is disheartened, but over several days time Mann accesses every official shipment over the past 10 years and manages to piece together a reasonable proximity of an inventory. After comparing the piles of goo they find to the piles of goo he expected to find, he comes to the conclusion that Wilson at least managed to get his hands on a few mortar launchers.

                            Michael groans. He preferred when he didn't have a clue what Wilson was up to.








                            R&R is good for the body AND the soul, but eventually enough is enough and the waiting starts to get to you. At the two week mark, Fanboy decides that they've reached this point and puts a call into Finch.

                            The PR specialist is as charming as ever.

                            "My FAVORITE clients! Now don't say no until you hear me out, but I hear that African children are very in now. So, I was thinking that we could mosey on down to the Serengeti and-" Finch begins.

                            "I'm going to just stop you right there." Fanboy chimes in, "I'm not interested in purchasing or...capturing, or whatever you were going to suggest, a small African child. I have a different direction I'd like to go with this conversation."

                            "Well shoot then Cowboy." Finch replies, trying out a halfassed nickname to hide his apparent disappointment at not being able to hunt the most dangerous game of all: Starving Foreigners.

                            Suppressing a groan, Fanboy explains that he wants to bring another superhuman into their arrangement and wants a giant event to unveil him. Finch doesn't understand why they'd want to share the limelight futher, and Fanboy doesn't want to explain that they just want to lure a superpowered serial killer out of hiding, so Fanboy blurts out:

                            "Action figures. When we release the line, we need a whole team right?"

                            "Optimistic..." Finch replies. "But not a bad idea. Who's this new guy?"

                            Fanboy glances around the warehouse, trying to think of someone that Wilson would cut off his own arm to absorb and grins.

                            Fanboy smiles while watching several Bradleys struggle to wrestle Chavenski's SAW away from Stallone as the morose Chavenski himsef watches nearby from a drunken stupor, empty bottles and broken glass floating around him, only to come crashing down again at random moments.

                            "The Magnificent Multiplying Man." he chuckles.







                            They give Finch a week to work his magic and work on a plan of their own. Finch is hastily assembling a superhuman expo featuring MMM and the World's Luckiest man among others, they've rented out a local convention center for this endeavor.

                            After a week of planning, the best they could come up was 'Hide in the bushes outside and jump him when he shows up.'

                            Considering their usual plans, they pat themselves on the back and declare the ambush prepared.


                            The day of the expo arrives and as they're getting ready and discussing their ingenious plan with Prophet, the precog suddenly seizes up and falls over. McCrow and Fanboy glance nervously at each other, knowing the nature of his powers.

                            Fanboy offers to handle the convention and tells McCrow to stay with Prophet until he wakes up so that he can guard the warehouse if need be. McCrow doesn't like being told what to do, but he likes the thought of losing his fancy new warehouse even less so he agrees.

                            Fanboy takes to the air since it's faster than driving and curses his decision to provoke Wilson. OF COURSE it would result in such massive backlash that Prophet would pass out from the strain of processing it. What else COULD it have done?

                            He comes down in front of the convention center like a bullet, prepared to search every square inch until he rooted out whatever nefarious plan Wilson was concocting...but then notices the crowd.

                            At LEAST 3,000 people had showed up and it's still early yet. When Fanboy comes down in the parking lot there's such a thunderous round of applause that the sheer volume physically stuns him.

                            With a start, he realizes the actual magnitude of this convention. Superhuman are still new and shiny, maybe a thousand people the world over had ever personally seen one and NOBODY could truthfully claim to have really met one before. Thousands would flock to Ventnor even at the last minute like this, all for the chance to meet men straight out of their comic books.

                            He starts to shout a warning, that these people need to disperse for their own safety...but then a local girl shouts out "Oh my God, it's The Fanboy! Can I have your autograph?" and he forgets what he was there for.




                            Prophet wakes up to find McCrow sniffing a marker and watching him intently.

                            "About time you woke up. What's the damage?" McCrow asks, capping his marker and sliding it into a pocket for later.

                            Prophet stutters for a moment, shaking the cobwebs out of his head before shakily standing on his one leg and snatching a pen and paper to doodle whatever it was he'd seen.

                            "Don't you ignore me old man. What the hell did you see?" Roger growls, glancing over his shoulder at a haphazardly scribbled map of the city with a number of question marks quickly overlayed on top.

                            "Death..." Prophet stammers. "The whole city is going is to die in...two hours." he says, checking his watch.

                            Suddenly the big black magic marker penises all over Prophet's face take on a very somber tone.


                            "Death?" Fanboy whispers incredulously, signing a young man's shirt as he glances around nervously. "What does he mean death? What kind of death?"

                            "Sounds Biblical." McCrow grunts on the other end. "People burning, getting crushed and drowning pretty much to the last man. Ventnor apparently just won't BE HERE in two hours."

                            "Drowning?" Fanboy asks accusingly.

                            "Hey, don't throw that Minority Report BS at me. I haven't done anything!" McCrow shouts through Fanboy's earpiece.

                            "I know, it's just...wait...Minority Report?" Fanboy asks.

                            "I have a T.V.!" McCrow responds irritably.

                            "S***." Fanboy curses, waving off his next request for an autograph. "I'll be there in 10 minutes, we'll have to-"

                            "Just hold your f***ing horses there." McCrow interrupts. "He's got some kind of map drawn up of the whole damned city, he's dividing it into grids or quadrants or something. The convention center is the most likely target in the North West so don't let anything bad happen to it. I'm heading to the hospital to check things out."

                            No sooner does McCrow finish his rundown than he hears an explosion followed by panic shrieking on Fanboy's end.

                            "What the hell's going on?" McCrow demands.

                            There's silence for a brief moment and Fanboy responds "Uhhh....I think something bad's happening."








                            Everything's on fire.

                            Well, maybe not everything; but definitely more than Fanboy would prefer was on fire. The entire parking lot is a single concentrated inferno and it takes all of Fanboy's focus to keep the surging flames out of the convention itself. He orders the civilians as far away from him as possible, just in time to be knocked off his feet as 15ft of fiery elemental fury forces its way inside.

                            Fanboy pants as the air grows uncomfortably hot and glances nervously over his shoulder at the terrified masses, but to his surprise the creature doesn't immediately go for them. Instead it pounces onto a table of comics to feed itself first and ensures that one unlucky collector will continue regretting this day for years to come.

                            Seeing a brief moment of respite, Fanboy rockets himself to the back of the convention center begins a telekinetic barrage against the back wall. It doesn't take long to crack, but the Fire Elemental takes less time to nearly fill the building with heat and smoke. Fanboy only barely manages to burst a hole large enough for 1-2 people to squeeze through at a time when suddenly he hears a hissing sound and a fine green gas begins pouring out of the ceiling.

                            Fanboy watches in horror as it falls towards his fleeing fans before focusing his mind and extending his forcefield over a 20ft area to deflect as much of the gas as he can. He screams for them not to breathe this stuff and to get the hell out of Dodge, but he still watches dozens of innocent people collapse to the ground gasping for breath; knowing that less than half of them even have a chance.

                            He extends his power even more, straining it to the limit to provide protective bubbles over the largest groups; but he knows that even the minor protection he CAN offer won't hold out long.

                            The Fire Elemental slams a pillar of flame into Fanboy's chest which sends him flying across the convention center and causes one of his protective bubbles to pop. Fanboy tries to leap to the citizens defense but is swatted aside once again.

                            He glances in horror at the monster he and McCrow unleashed and the terrified spectators, dangerously divvying his time between them when he hears a familiar voice shout over his headset.

                            "I've got these guys." Bradley says and to Fanboy's relief the hole begins rapidly widening as half a dozen figures in S.C.A.R. armor attack it from the outside with sledehammers and fireaxes.

                            The Fire Elemental also apparently notices this and lunges towards the fleeing civilians. Fanboy lunges forward with everything he's got and the Elemental responds by hurling a ball of intense flame in his direction.

                            Without even thinking, the familar childhood whomp-whomp of a lightsaber fills the air and Fanboy bats the attack away effortlessly. The sound of a thousand nerds turning and gasping at once is nearly deafening and Bradley actually has to discharge a pistol to get their attention before they remember they're supposed to be fleeing.

                            The Fire Elemental tosses several more blasts in Fanboy's direction, but the now smiling telepath sends all of them careening harmlessly in the floor or ceiling as though the force truly does guide his movements. In truth, Fanboy himself has little to do with the lightsaber's movements; so long as he doesn't fight it the device attempts to anticipate and deflect attacks of its own accord.

                            With a resounding battlecry, Fanboy lunges forward bringing the lighsaber over his head and slices down and neatly through the Fire Elemental...and then slams face first into a melting display of action figures as the mindless superhuman simply reforms.

                            "Oh, right...made out of fire." he reminds himself before leading it on a merry chase around the building, deflecting blasts and collecting fire extinguishers off of every wall until the thing grows tired of his shenanigans and turns back towards the makeshift exit where Bradleys are now dragging unconscious gas victims outside.

                            Thinking fast, Fanboy hurls the six extinguishers he's manage to collect towards the Elemental's center mass and then exerts all of his telekinetic force to cause them to simply explode.

                            The living flame wails as it thrashes about and begins to shrink even as it attempts to leap into the roaring fire around it to heal itself. Pouring everything he has into a barrier in front of him, Fanboy flies towards the Elemental with his hands out Superman style, slamming into it with alarming speed and carrying it through the burning building, past the parking lot and into a nearby building where the force of the impact puts even more flames out.

                            Now deprived of its flammable reserves, the destructive superhuman turns to flee but Fanboy lashes out with a telekinetic bubble to hold it fast and then hurls it bubble and all into a fire hydrant where a powerful geyser quickly extinguishes his nemesis, leaving only a charred and shrivelled corpse in its wake.

                            Fanboy collapses next to it to catch his breath and dials Prophet to find out just what the hell's going on today.







                            Agent Mann has not led a charmed life.

                            Joined the Army out of highschool and got shot at a bunch. Made Ranger just so he could get shot at some more. In his life he's been shot; stabbed; strangled; burned; bludgeoned and even squashed.

                            That last one, it should be noted, was by far the worst. In a lifetime of traumatic and painful experiences, it came the closest to breaking him. The closest to making him simply give up...

                            Taking a breath to steady his nerves, Mann glances over his shoulder and around the corner to see all 40ft of Cottus standing atop Ventnor City Community College and brandishing an SUV above his head while ranting that 'The bitch wanted him, it wasn't right for him to lose HIS job over it.'

                            With a sigh he checks his sidearm and shakes the uncertainty from his head before stepping out of cover with his gun held high.

                            "Put down the vehicle and step away from the premises with your hands up, failure to do so WILL be met with lethal force!" he shouts in his inhumanly loud voice.

                            Cottus stops what he's doing and grins down at Mann below. "Didn't I squish you once?"

                            "Kids gloves are off this time." Mann replies stoicly, showing no hint of the fear building in his gut as Cottus leaps nearly 60ft to land in front of him threateningly. "Drop your weapon or I drop you."

                            Cottus laughs before cocking back his arm and spiking the vehicle at Mann like a football. It slams into the shocked DHS agent and nearly flattens itself from the force. Cottus's smirk is shortlived however as Mann erupts from his steel tomb with a mighty leap, firing .45 caliber bursts into Cottus's chest the entire way.

                            Cottus roars and bats Mann aside, however the agent twists in the air and lands feet first on the college's roof, digging twin grooves along its length from the force of his landing. Mann continues firing imacculately aimed bursts into Cottus's vital spots even as the brute charges him.

                            As Cottus leaps to meet him, Mann drops down 4 stories to the ground; only taking his finger off the trigger long enough to slap a fresh clip in and start up again. Cottus is annoyed, but the weapon doesn't seem overly threatening to him.

                            "So, where'd your partner get off too?" Cottus asks. "You're going to need him to scrape you off the ground again when this is done."

                            Mann runs his clip dry, before stopping to reload and retorts "I told him to take the day off, I can handle you."

                            Cottus crosses all three sets of his arms and chuckles. "Oh? What about them?"

                            Before Mann can even turn around he feels a shooting pain in his good shoulder and as he slaps his hardlight hand to the location feels a playing card jutting out of his golden shielding. He grunts in pain even as half a dozen volleys of bullets bounce harmlessly off the same protective aura.

                            Quickly scanning the area Mann notices ten S.C.A.R. troopers emerging from the campus library and a pudgy, balding man in an illfitting suit smiling and shuffling a deck of cards.

                            In the blink of an eye, Mann barrels through the S.C.A.R. soldiers, snatching one as a human shield and pulling him inside the very library they just left before firing wildly into the doorway to slow their pursuit.

                            Mann quickly takes stock of the situation and several things become apparent to him: 1. The man in his arms isn't here of his own volition, he's missing his protective earpiece. 2. Parks' contact in the warehouse was right, Wilson's planning something here. 3. Whatever it is the masterstroke doesn't involve Mann fighting a 40ft sex-offender in a community college's parking lot.

                            Without missing a beat, Mann hurls his hostage through the open doors and spins on his heels to grab a heavy oak table from the library itself, without even straining he tosses it in front of the entrance and blocks S.C.A.R.'s entrance...for now.

                            "I found the target. It's Ventnor College." Mann snaps into his earpiece as his augmented eyes scan his location for what Wilson's goons would have been doing in here.

                            THERE! Mann's attention snaps to the familiar outline of a stolen mortar launcher up above him. It takes mere seconds for Mann to leap onto a bookshelf and catapult himself up a floor to his waiting target and almost as little time for him to disable the contraption that would allow it to fire remotely.

                            "The missing canisters have been rigged to explode and aimed over the town. Wilson intends to blanket Ventnor." he says quickly, though misses the reply.

                            He hears a violent crashing sound and Cottus's massive arm has forced its way through his barrier up to his elbow. As Cottus withdraws, S.C.A.R. rush in.

                            With a grunt of effort, Mann warps the launcher's barrel to make it unusable and slips out the window and around the corner, narrowly avoiding Cottus's gaze as the giant soars overhead, apparently looking for him. Man hops to a new ledge and inside, where he hears the sounds of conflict emerging from a classroom.

                            Drawing his sidearm, Mann kicks in the door only to find 4 terrified students cowering behind a makeshift barrier made of desks, three thoroughly beaten and unconscious S.C.A.R. personnel laying on the floor and a wide eyed young man with the same golden aura as himself standing over them.

                            Mann is shocked by the display, and reminder that in this new world such things may just become commonplace, and tells young Ben to lock the door and stay quiet until things calm down.

                            With that, Mann pads down the hallway once more; scanning for the telltale shape of a launcher.

                            In fact, he's so focused on that one shape that he barely registers he's in danger until he's already in mid-dodge. He leaps out of the way just in time to avoid being struck by a barbed tentacle that seems to be growing out of a young asian girl's forearm.

                            "And who are you?" Mann asks, raising his gun threateningly but realizing she probably isn't responsible for her actions.

                            She smirks. "They call me...Hentai."

                            With a sigh of disgust, Mann shakes his head. "Of course they do."

                            Her smirk turning into a violent scream, Hentai lunges at Mann and takes a wild swing with her tentacle. Mann manages to catch the wriggling appendage and with a burst of strength whips her through the air by it and sends her face first into a water fountain with enough force to leave an imprint.

                            Before she can manage to stagger to her feet, Mann shoots her in the back of the knee.

                            She screams bloody murder, whatever mental commands she was given lost in the haze of pain. She screams, she curses, she pleads and threatens, nobody in particular.

                            "You'll live." Mann mutters, starting to turn away just as a hand larger than himself bursts through the side of the building and drags him into the light.

                            "Which is more than YOU can say." Cottus chuckles, squeezing Mann so hard that the agent swears he can hear his protective forcefield popping.

                            Mann attempts to break free, but Cottus is simply too strong and doesn't seem interested in giving Mann a chance to fight back when he's literally in the palm of the giant's hand. He begins to see spots as he discovers he can't even draw breath anymore and figures that it's all over...

                            Until a noise like thunder knocks Cottus off his feet and drops Mann to the ground below, where he lands wheezing and gasping for breath.

                            Looking around for his saviour, Mann finds a scrawny teenage boy with his finger jammed into a nearby electrical outlet and a visible sphere of electricity crackling around him. Richard Bronson raises his hand to fire another burst but it spikes wildly, singeing black streaks into the very bricks.

                            S.C.A.R. erupts into the courtyard from the school itself, as does the master thrower Lonnie. Lonnie's playing card is burnt to ashes before it comes close to reaching Richard, however the teen's triumphant expression becomes one of terror as S.C.A.R. shoulders their weapons to unload on him.

                            Luckily a nearby drunk steps in the way, swigging from a brown paper bag and ranting about how "We should keep this between us arright? The missus jusht doeshn't undershtand but a nip here and there settles the nerves..."

                            Richard tries to say something but Lucky Dan loudly shushes him because he isn't done talking yet and 6 S.C.A.R. soldiers open fire on the wannabe heroes... Only one survives, and to the end of his days he maintains that all five of his mind controlled colleagues somehow managed to shoot each other in the back, despite the fact they were standing in a straight line at the time and that he only survived because his gun jammed.

                            Mann remembers exactly how it feels.

                            "Daniel!" Mann shouts, getting his attention. "You need to search the clock tower, there should be an explosive device aimed out over the city in there. You've got to disable it!"

                            Lucky Dan one eyes the clock tower and shouts "How do I do that?"

                            "I..I don't know Daniel. Just kick it and see what happens." Mann replies, putting his faith in Dan's luck to do the impossible, like usual.

                            Lucky Dan charges the tower, but a flying truck slams into the doorway at the same time he does and everything goes quiet, until Dan drunkenly chimes "Help, I fell! I think I'm shtuck!"

                            Mann barely manages to climb to his feet and he notices that although his legs are just hard light prosthetics, one of them is going out. He can feel it flickering and causing him to stumble every few steps.

                            "Cover me!" Mann shouts to Richard who unleashes a torrent of electricity at both Lonnie and Cottus to keep them at bay.

                            Mann finally makes his way to Lucky Dan and with a burst of strength manages to lift the car even in his busted state, just enough for Dan to slip inside. He turns around with a sigh of relief, just in time to watch Cottus punt Richard almost 20ft. Mann shouts in outrage, but the teen slides to a stop still and unmoving.

                            Gritting his teeth in pain and rage, Mann charges Cottus even though he stumbles the whole way there from his busted leg. Just before they make contact, Mann rolls and fires up; directly into Cottus's oversized, poorly guarded testicles with a full-auto blast.

                            Cottus roars in pain and falls to his knees, cupping his bloody manhood uselessly. Lonnie cocks his arm back to hurl another card, but Mann fires a second burst into his chest; sending the portly assassin toppling backwards into the dirt bleeding profusely.

                            Cottus starts to scream something, but Mann charges once more and launches himself directly at the back of the wounded behemoth's head; delivering a kick that propels his gargantuan face into the dirt below and knocking the sense out of him.

                            Standing on the back of the unrepentant monster's neck, Mann aims at the base of the skull and fires several long, sustained bursts until the bastard stops twitching.

                            His target neutralized, Mann stumbles over to where Richard lies and falls to his knees next to the kid to do what he can. He's no medic, but he knows how to stop the big stuff and with more than a little luck (Rolled a Natural 20 on the heal check) he manages to stabilize Richard as Lucky Dan stumbles up to him, with a canister under each arm.

                            "These what you looking for?" Dan asks, roughly tossing enough chemicals to wipe out the surrounding area at Mann's feet with a loud clang.

                            Mann sighs as he nods the affirmative.

                            Not a charmed life at all.



                            Fanboy is still panting next to the charred corpse of the Fire Elemental and catching his breath when Prophet's voice appear in his earpiece.

                            "There's a problem in the park. It looks like-" Prophet starts but is cut off.

                            "Let me guess, Tree King decided it would be more worthwhile to just murder us all while we're distracted?" Fanboy asks.

                            "Yeah..." Prophet replies.

                            With a sigh, Fanboy snatches the corpse and throws it over his shoulder. "Why did I ever think he'd actually stop trying to murder all of us?" he asks nobody in particular and jets off before the dust of his last battle has even settled in front of the convention.

                            He makes the trip in record time, but as he lowers himself through the curtain of killer spores so thick in the air they impede his vision, he wishes he'd had more of an opportunity to think about what exactly he's going to do. Tree King or Brick on their own are at least an even match, together and flanked with a thousand clones...it's not good odds.

                            Fanboy touches down near the giant Tree King tower irritably, however to hsi surprise Brick is also standing before it and bellowing loudly.

                            "This isn't the deal!" Brick shouts at the 60ft monstrosity of a plant growing before him. "We were supposed to hurt the one that did this to us, not the whole city! I've still got family out there!"

                            "Had family." Tree King replies dangerously. "You're a monster now, and monster's don't have anything. They all die. That's the end of it."

                            "I'll f***ing stop you myself!" Brick shouts and slams a hand into the trunk hard enough to cause a split. Before Brick can throw a second however he's swarmed with Tree Clones intent on dragging him down with their weight alone.

                            Fanboy sends them flying with a flick of his wrist and erects a barrier separating him and Brick from the clones.

                            "Rethinking your partnership?" Fanboy quips.

                            Brick nods slowly. "Yeah. You?"

                            Fanboy almost laughs as he drops the corpse to the ground. "Yeah."

                            "What's that?" Brick asks, nervously glancing at the tide of Tree Clones that threaten to batter their way through at any second.

                            "The end of this whole damned park." Fanboy says smugly, then realizes he doesn't smoke as he hastily searches his pockets for a lighter he knows he doesn't have.

                            "Crap, crap, crap, crap." he says, glancing around in a panick as the Tree Clones literally begin climbing onto their protective bubble to batter their way in.

                            Brick obviously doesn't have anything as he's not even wearing pants and not for the first time today he wishes McCrow was here instead of him.

                            "Well..." Fanboy says. "It WOULD be, if we could start a fire."

                            Brick gawks at him. "You didn't think to bring something turn your secret weapon ON?"

                            "Not as such....no." Fanboy replies as one of the Tree Clones manages to force his arm through the barrier. Stepping back, Fanboy throws up a second, smaller and denser barrier in its place.

                            "I've got an idea!" Fanboy shouts. "Why don't you bang your hands together and make a spark?"

                            Brick continues gawking at him. "That's...ridiculous!"

                            As even more Tree Clones join the swarming mass, Fanboy shrugs. "Worse case scenario, you die looking silly. Best case, you don't."

                            Brick sighs and kneels down next to the charred corpse, quickly striking his knuckles against each other. He does this several times in rapid succession, but has less and less faith in this plan the more he does it.

                            "I told you, we aren't going to get a spark like this. I wasn't much of a boyscout but even I...." Brick starts and then looks down at the smoldering corpse before him. A thin trail of smoke rises from it and it twitches slightly.

                            "You did it!" Fanboy cackles, even as Brick shakes his head and steps back.

                            The charred remains of the superhuman begins to scream, but is almost instantly engulfed in a small flame and its voice is drowned out by the roar of fire. Fanboy suddenly realizes they're locked in here with something he just spent the morning kicking the crap out of and dives behind Brick as he throws up a barrier so small it leaves no room for such luxuries as turning around or not being pressed tightly against a giant rock man and dismisses his old barrier.

                            There is...there's just so much fire. In a matter of seconds the Tree Clones are consumed or driven away and the towering form of Tree King does nothing but scream and burn from the Elemental's misplaced fury.

                            They stand in shocked silence until Fanboy sees an opening in the flames and flings both himself and Brick through it. They land sprawled in the park, amid hundreds of tree clones who do nothing but gaze at their [i]father[/i['s death.

                            Fanboy spins around, on the defensive but none of them appear aggressive. In fact....they seem confused. They glance around as though seeing the world for the first time, poke and prod themselves as though not understanding what they are.

                            One of them opens its mouth "What...what is this?" it asks.

                            "What is what?" Fanboy responds, prepared to turn the thing into kindling at a moment's notice.

                            Rather than answer it looks around as though unable to settle on a single 'what' and just shrugs.

                            Brick too seems confused. He's been around most of these things since they were first planted and he's never seem anything but blind, murderous rage in them. They've never been anything but vessels for the Tree King's ego.

                            Fanboy probes the minds of several tree clones and is surprised to find actual personalities within them. He'd figured that each clone was just another Tree King...but they aren't. They have vague memories of Tree King's life both before and after the accident, but they're just glimpses.

                            "They're plants..." Fanboy mutters. "He puppeted them the same way he did any other plant, that's why they were all of one mind."

                            Brick looks around at the confused and suddenly frightened tree clones struggling to get free of the rapidly burning park and asks "So...what now?"

                            Fanboy glances beyond the wall and slowly begins hovering in the air. "Now you get a second chance to show the world you aren't a monster. Be a leader. Get control of these people and take them to the street, today's going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better, so try and corral the civilians somewhere safer."

                            "Where's safe?" Brick asks.

                            Fanboy just shakes his head. "I wish I knew."







                            McCrow stares up at the familiar sight of Ventnor's largest hospital. Ah the memories it brings back. The gunshot wounds, kicking Tree King's ass for the first time, explaining to the authorities how his ex-wife had fallen down the stairs...

                            He hears screams of terror inside and takes one last drag off his cigar before flicking it aside, catching Stallone doing the same. The oversized droplet is fitted in modified S.C.A.R. armor and is hauling around Chavenski's stolen SAW.

                            "Yo boss. We gonna do this?" Stallone asks in a comically deep voice. Ten normal droplets bouncing cheerfully behind him.

                            "The hell do you think?" McCrow responds, summoning water to himself from the hospital's decorative fountain until he's in his monstrous battleform. Rather than using the door, he slams into the wall with ludicrous force and crashes into the lobby like a deranged Kool-Aid Man.

                            A dozen brainwashed S.C.A.R. troopers and eight Luvbots are inside, they seem to be searching the place for something and opening fire on anybody that even thinks of looking at them wrong.

                            Roger's presence naturally upsets them.

                            McCrow snatches a pair of Luvbots off the ground and bangs them together with enough force to cause them to pop in a shower of sparks, while Stallone opens fire on a third but fails to pierce its armor.

                            S.C.A.R. responds by opening fire on McCrow and wounding the ballsy hydromancer inside the water beast, but McCrow retaliates by pointing at them and shouting "See that? Eat EVERYTHING that looks like that!"

                            The soldiers glance nervously at each other as a veritable tidal wave of murderous glee slams into them, effortlessly slipping up under their armor and down their throats. The ten droplets only manage to bring down two troopers between them, but they bring them down with such alarming violence that the rest forget their orders and pile into an elevator to escape.

                            The droplets look back over their shoulders at McCrow and seem to wave cheerfully, before slipping through the closed elevator doors behind their prey. Screams and gunshots ring out inside, though it's unlikely any were aimed at the droplets.

                            The Luvbots open fire on McCrow and Stallone with a salvo of energy, McCrow responds by sweeping three off their feet and Stallone opens up with full autofire and manages to bring down yet another.

                            It looks like this might be in the bag when the ceiling gets this liquidy appearance and a single man drops from above before it returns to normal. He's an older man with greying hair and wearing a set of denim overalls. McCrow recognizes him from the t.v. as The Engineer. McCrow notices the man isn't wearing one of those fancy earpieces everyone's supposed to.

                            "I suggest you piss right the f*** off chief." McCrow shouts, cracking his watery knuckles reflexively.

                            "You're ridiculous." the Engineer replies. "All bluff and bluster. Leave while you have the chance."

                            McCrow decides that the time for pithy retorts is at an end and leaps at the smaller man with a massive haymaker. The Engineer responds by sliding across the room like an ice skater and laying his hand on a wall. As though pulling it directly out of the drywall, the Engineer draws out an automated turret which instantly opens fire at McCrow and physically drives him backwards.

                            Stallone is busy keeping the Luvbots busy, but still opens fire on the Engineer's turret with enough lead to shut the thing down.

                            McCrow lunges again and the Engineer attempts his sliding trick again, but Roger's ready for it and snatches him up by the waist. The Engineer responds by plunging both hands into Roger's water form and concentrating.

                            To McCrow's horror, his watery shell starts to become Iron and he has to eject half of his mass to avoid being entombed. The Engineer is pretty smug about this until he realizes that half of a giant water monster is still a giant water monster and McCrow manages to grab him around the wrists, pulling him taut.

                            The Engineer fights to lay a single finger on McCrow, knowing he can end this if he does; but the harder he tries the harder McCrow pulls at his arms until finally there's a loud crack and his hands go limp.

                            The Engineer curses McCrow furiously. "I'll kill you!" he wails through the pain.

                            McCrow glares at his helpless captive and pulls harder until the limbs are literally torn from the Engineer's body, resulting in a geyser of blood.

                            McCrow steps over the rapidly dying superhuman and snorts, "How?"


                            McCrow and Stallone press themselves into a corpseless elevator and go upstairs to check things out. They get a call from Prophet explaining that there are probably canisters rigged to blow here and that they need to be careful to avoid killing anyone.

                            McCrow realizes he has no idea how to disarm this crap, so he does the next best thing; he sends his droplets to every corner of the hospital to find the canisters and then just orders them to close the windows and doors and knock it over.

                            It's not a perfect plan, but it at least contains the majority of the gas to the hospital itself. McCrow then realizes that everybody ELSE needs to be evacuated if this is going to work, so goes looking for volunteers the only place he knows can help: Superhuman Recovery.

                            In the familiar cordoned off corridor are the survivors of the wedding attack, or at least the newly awakened ones. The only person he recognizes is the overly wholesome preacher who now sports an oversized set of white feathered wings on his back and a massively swollen eye who has taken over tending to the still unconscious residents in place of the nurses who presumably fled when the gunshots started.

                            "A winged man? Oh yeah, that's what I need." McCrow says dismissively.

                            The preacher looks at him in confusion and McCrow hastily explains what's happening. That he needs people who have already been exposed to the gas to go and drag everyone who hasn't been exposed to the gas outside.

                            The preacher looks around at the comatose superhumans and sighs. "Alright, there's nothing more I can do here anyway. I'll see how many are left to help."

                            McCrow raises an eyebrow questioningly.

                            The preacher looks surprised. "The soldiers. They dragged a bunch of us off, at least the ones they thought would be useful. I tried to intervene, but..." he indicates his black eye.

                            "I didn't ask for your life story!" McCrow shouts irritably. "Get your ass in gear man, you've got lives to save."






                            Michael Stockton sits in his car and intently watches the group of men standing around in front of the apartment building across the street. In and of itself, a handful of men talking amongst themselves isn't an exceptionally suspicious sight, but the fact is...he recognized one of them from S.C.A.R.

                            He'd gotten word from Parks that Wilson or Steinz one had compromised nearly their entire force, mind control proof earpieces only working so long as you can keep them in your ear and all that, so it's unlikely that anyone on the DHS payroll wouldn't be suited up at the moment. Which naturally means that this building is worth looking into.

                            Michael slams the car into gear and before any of them are even aware something's happening they've been pancaked into the side of the building; while Michael teleports as the last second through both the car and wall to the lobby inside.

                            The sound of a car crashing into the side of the building draws the attention of S.C.A.R. inside and Michael grins, taking note of which apartments they exit and using his newfangled teleporter to effortlessly reach the first one in seconds.

                            Michael performs a cursory inspection of the apartment and finds one of their missing mortar launchers. He whips out an all purpose tool from his pocket and gets to work disarming it, cursing that he never had the knack for demolitions work that Mann did.

                            It goes smoothly, even if it takes longer than he'd like and he quickly teleports to the second one. He gets to work disarming it as well.

                            Just then, he feels something snake around him and entangle him tightly. Stockton growls and spins around, but only sees what looks like an arm stretching out of sight. He groans as he realizes the Rubberman must have been caught in Wilson's web as well.

                            Stockton fights to disentangle himself, but suddenly he feels the arm to taut and he looks up just in time to see the Rubberman flying around the corner, his other arm extneded in a clothesline directly to Michael's throat.

                            Michael jerks and gurgles as his throat is crushed, but manages to come up with a knife directly into Rubberman's elongated forearm. His elastic attacker releases him and leaps back wearily. Michael continues gurgling for a second longer before his throat repairs itself and he gasps loudly.

                            He doesn't bother trying to engage him in conversation, simply leaps forward and drives his knee into Rubberman's rubbery stomach. Unsurprisingly this doesn't accomplish much, but Rubberman knocks the knife out of his hand and ensnares him with snakelike arms once again.

                            Stockton grunts and activates his teleporter, appearing on the ceiling only to launch himself downwards in a powerful flying axe kick which grossly distorts Rubberman's features but deals no actual damage.

                            Rubberman lunges towards him once again, but Michael snatches an arm and quickly lassos it around the mortar launcher, tying it tight before kicking the whole contraption out the window. Rubberman is nearly dragged out after it, but catches himself just as Michael draws his sidearm and fires into his exposed back.

                            The bullets ricochet wildly around the room.

                            Michael groans loudly as the mortar launcher snaps back and Rubberman aims it like a flail, smashing Michael's insides and sending Stockton sprawling out into the hallway. Before Michael's recovered from his stun, Rubberman grabs him by the leg and hauls him back into the room to clobber him a second time.

                            Michael kicks up with both legs hard enough to knock Rubberman back a step and then rolls to his feet and tackles Rubberman against the wall. Rubberman responds by expanding like a balloon so large and violently that Stockton is literally thrown out of a window.

                            Stockton reflexively teleports back the way he came and lands in the hallway, he sees Ruberman's now massively bloated head and has an idea. Snatching the launcher still wrapped in Rubberman's arm, he slams the whole contraption into the elastic superhuman's mouth and fires a bullet into the canister.

                            There's a muffled explosion, followed by a wet pop and Rubberman absorbs the worst of the fallout with his dying breath.

                            Four S.C.A.R. agents charge upstairs to see what's happening and Michael throws himself into them furiously. He sweeps low on the first one and lands a kick which snaps the man's knee before throwing a backhand that knocks a second off his feet and out cold, he finishes up with a frontkick into a third that slams him into the fourth and sends both of them tumbling back down the stairs where they came from.

                            He then falls over and attempts to catch his breath as a pair of explosions ring out from the opposite side of the apartment and begin filling the streets with gas.






                            Everybody got the same call, Prophet thinks he's finally found Wilson's location.

                            McCrow (still in water form) leaves the hospital cleanup to lesser men and charges out full of piss and vinegar. The streets are becoming dangerous as the citizens get a sense of what's happening, but luckily they aren't filled with corpses...yet.

                            What they ARE rapidly filling with however, are Italians.

                            As McCrow makes his way to the rendevous point, it becomes apparent that Depaliamo's men are having a field day with their new powers.

                            In addition to standard, unpowered, Italians and a complement of Luvbots; there are three obviously powered individuals. A gargoyle like man with stony flesh and broad wings, a ghoulish looking man with sharp metallic claws and a man in a flashy red shirt and black suit that spits fire dramatically.

                            "Well, well, well. If it isn't #1 on the boss's s***-list." the fire breather says with a chuckle. "It seems like we're about to come up in the world."

                            McCrow growls and throws a pair of bloody, dismembered arms at the feet of the superhumans. "You got two options. Become my personal bitch, or wind up like this stupid a**hole."

                            All three superhumans and all of the normal Italians stop in their tracks and gawk at the bloody appendages in horror. Realizing he's probably McCrow's primary target, the firebreather turns to flee along with several unpowered Italians.

                            "THAT WASN'T AN OPTION!" McCrow bellows and the droplets surge after the fleeing Italians with sadistic glee.

                            Before either of the others can react, McCrow has completely dehydrated the ghoulish Italian swats the gargoyle out of the air when he tries to charge him. (Rolled a pair of criticals back to back.)

                            The Luvbots and mundane Italians open fire and drive McCrow to his knees, but before they can launch a second volley they also fall to theirs. The Luvbots pop satisfyingly, whereas the Italians scream in agony and appear to be getting crushed by an invisible force.

                            McCrow turns around as his wounds slowly begin knitting themselves back together to find Chavenski standing in the street with an oxygen mask strapped to his face.

                            "Go." Chavenski says dismissively. "I know how to kill Italians."

                            McCrow shrugs off his water form, healing the last of his wounds. "Beat some punk ass for me." he says with a chuckle. "I've got work to do."





                            Mann stumbles across town with his hardlight cybernetics flickering on and off the whole way and using a borrowed S.C.A.R. assault rifle as a crutch. The city is in full pandemonium at this point and is in full riot mode.

                            Several times he scares away looters with his booming vocal upgrades and a warning shot from his sidearm, but the further into the city he goes, the less they seem to care and eventually he decides to stop wasting ammo and valuable time.

                            With disgust, he realizes he recognizes one of the more prestigious looters as the crystalline form of Tiffany bounds overhead carrying a new T.V. under each arm. He calls out for her to come down here and do her duty to this city dammit, but she responds in no uncertain terms that he can cram his duty sideways and cackles off into the distance.

                            He he hobbles shouting after her, calling her a coward and ranting about general superhuman uselessness as an explosion rocks the street and tosses him off his feet. He has no idea where it came from, but dozens of people lay bloody and broken in the street and he can do little more than crawl to them in a daze.

                            He watches in the distance as a young girl screams over the lifeless corpse of her mother only to be comforted by a young blonde woman who lays a hand on the mother's chest and causes her to sit up gasping. She lays hands on several more formerly dead individuals before simply disappearing.

                            With a bitter laugh, Mann climbs shakily to his feet and continues his hobbled journey to the rendezvous. Most who witnessed the event would go home to tell their families about being saved by an angel, but only jaded Mann knows the truth. She's just a stripper.






                            Jogging to the rendezvous as fast as he can, Michael instantly regrets wrecking his car. Sure, it was pretty cool at the time; but if he'd had it to do over again he probably would've just shot them, or punched them, or stabbed them...pretty much anything that would have allowed him to drive away afterwards.

                            But, what's done is done and while he doesn't like it he does have to live with it. Besides, it gives him an opportunity to shout for citizens to get the hell out of the streets on the way and he does so enjoy providing a public service.

                            It seems strange that so few are concerned with their impending deaths, but that's their problem.

                            Eventually it dawns on him that it's even stranger how many seem content to just hit each other in the face with rocks...and it seems downright odd how many are just firing randomly into the gathered crowd and how the crowd itself doesn't seem to mind...

                            "Steinz!" Michael shouts, a growl in his voice.

                            Dozens of eyes turn at once, glaring at Michael with manic rage as a wheelchair bound Steinz is wheeled out of the crowd.

                            "Oh calm down Mr Stockton." Dr Steinz says good naturedly. "These people are all dead anyway, what's the harm in having a little fun first?"

                            "You sadistic son of a-" Michael shouts, charging Steinz until he's tackled by half a dozen civilians. The wind is knocked out of him but he still has the presence of mind to catch the first of his attackers against the jaw and knock him out cold.

                            Three more leap into the fray and attempt to remove Michael's earpiece, but he teleports out of the scrum and into the street just as several more blindside him and basically curb stomp him.

                            Michael manages to get his gun out as he rolls away from his attackers, but before he gets a clear shot at Steinz the weapon is knocked from his hands. He teleports out of yet another grapple, only to catch a brick to the temple that lays him flat.

                            The crowd mobs him and he sees his chance, teleporting past all of them to snatch Steinz himself. The good doctor only has one good arm and no working legs so he's no match for Stockton's physical prowess and can do little more than try to talk his way out of his predicament as Michael turns his teleporter to full power and leaps to the top of a six story building.

                            "N-n-now Michael." Steinz stammers, recognizing a losing situation. "You need to think about what you're doing, I mean-"

                            "Shut up Steinz." Michael growls, holding the twisted psychiatrist off the side of the building as he glares into his eyes. "I never should have saved your sorry ass. Luckily, here's my chance to make things right; but taking you out the same way you escaped justice last time."

                            With that, Michael releases him and Stockton screams the whole way down...however much to Michael's dismay the screaming turns to laughter and as he glances down he can only groan.

                            The crowd below caught the crippled psychopath and he's now apparently crowdsurfing his way to freedom. Michael mutters unflattering things under his breath before teleporting back down to street level to try and catch Steinz once more; swearing to just shoot him next time.

                            He begins fighting his way towards his victim to be when once more several civilians dogpile him. Michael growls irritably, but his irritation becomes terror when he feels a hand remove the protective earpiece that keeps him beyond Steinz's control. He hears a shout of triumph go up from the crowd and Steinz appears, talking in his overly soothing voice.

                            "Now, Mr Stockton...I have a brilliant idea. I'm going to talk, and you're going to listen." Dr Steinz gloats. "First of all, you will-"

                            Dr Steinz's villainous monologue fades into a wordless gurgle and Michael shakes the doctor's words out of his ears before noticing the blood gushing from Steinz's open mouth. As the crowd also comes to its senses and begins to disperse in fear and disgust, he recognizes the man twisting the knife in Steinz's neck as Greggory Mallard.

                            Despite the bloody hunk of metal in his throat, Steinz manages a small chuckle and squeaks out "It doesn't matter....we're all dead men...."

                            "Cutting it a little close there Mallard." Michael mutters as he clamors about the ground until he finds his missing earpiece.

                            "What, a highly trained invincible killing machine like you needs help from gutter trash?" Mallard asks as Steinz ceases his struggles altogether. There's no humor in his voice.

                            "Did you know?" Mallard demands, brandishing his knife at Michael; tears of rage welling up in his eyes.

                            "Know what?" Stockton asks, instinctively recoiling despite the fact that if Mallard started stabbing now he would still die of old age long before Michael succumbed to his wounds.

                            "My wife...that bastard he..." Mallard glances back at the bloody Steinz and kicks him over in the street even though it gives him no pleasure. "No. I guess you didn't..." he mutters, disappearing into thin air without another word.








                            Fanboy is the first to arrive along with Brick and a handful of tree clones, so he takes the opportunity to scan the building for life. He finds the remainder of Wilson's brainwashed S.C.A.R. which amount to around 20 some soldiers as well as a pair of superhumans on the second to last floor. He also assumes that there will be 2-3x as many Luvbots as there are soldiers.

                            Michael is next, followed by Mann and finally McCrow; Stallone and the droplets. Mann's sensors don't have the range of Fanboy's telepathy, but he does confirm a metric crapload of people holed up on the first and second floors in ambush.

                            "The front is locked down." Mann states flatly, "The amount of firepower they have stationed there would blow any of us away."

                            "What about backup?" Michael asks.

                            Mann shakes his head. "Parks and the locals have their hands tied up in the evacuation. Even if they COULD spare bodies they'd be more liability than asset."

                            "Then what's the plan?"" Michael asks.

                            Mann rubs his temples. "We need a distraction. Thoughts?"

                            Fanboy and McCrow look at each other with broad grins.

                            "Why don't we just blow the building up?" Fanboy asks. "We've had some success with that before."

                            Both Michael and Mann nearly sputter at that. "What?" they both ask at once.

                            "It ain't hard." McCrow assures them. "We just knock out a floor and the whole thing comes toppling over, then we stomp the s*** out of anything that tries to crawl out."

                            "What about casualties?" Mann demands.

                            "In all likelihood, we're probably going to kill those guys in there no matter how we go about this." Fanboy admits.

                            "That's..they aren't responsible for their actions." Mann barks. "Besides, even if THEIR deaths are a foregone conclusion, what about the people in the surrounding buildings? Or on the street?"

                            "We're just going to knock down one building..." McCrow reminds him.

                            "And you don't think that MIGHT be dangerous for the people surrounding it?" Mann asks.

                            Fanboy and McCrow stare at each other and the DHS agents for a moment before Fanboy claps his hands. "New plan!" he shouts, snatching up Michael, Mann, McCrow/Stallone and Brick; leaving the droplets and tree clones to rush the front door.

                            There's some garbled arguments as Fanboy levitates them all to the top of the building, but it quickly becomes hushed silence as he shouts for Brick to make them a hole and releases the rockman over top of the building.

                            Brick falls 20ft and lands dramatically, causing the roof to give way and allowing him to fall to the floor below....and then the floor below that, and the floor below that, and the floor below that...then there's some more crashing sounds but they can't really see him anymore so can't confirm if he's still falling.

                            "Uhh....who's next?" Fanboy calls out, only to be met with a chorus of 'Don't You Effing Dare!'s in response. Instead he lowers them to their floor and allows everyone to hop off of their own accord.

                            Before anything else resembling a plan can be hatched, McCrow roars and charges the door; shouldering his way in and forcing the others to rush in after him.

                            Wilson is sitting there cheerfully in his heavily scarred form, a grin on his face as he motions to his companion. "I believe you know my guest McCrow. I had her delivered from the hospital just for you." the former General says with a chuckle.

                            "McCrow...you piece of s***." screams the brainwashed mother of his children.

                            "Bonnie you...bitch." snarls McCrow.

                            Bonnie shrieks in rage and charges her ex-husband who sidesteps her and delivers a backhand across her mouth that spins her around, only for him to grab her by the hair and slam her face first into the wall with enough force to knock a hole in it.

                            "You remember how this goes Bonnie!" Roger shouts as he pulls her from the wall and literally throws her almost 10ft away. "You get drunk, you get mouthy, you get violent and then you get knocked the f*** out. And who's always the bad guy?"

                            Bonnie responds by lunging at McCrow and clawing at his eyes, so Roger naturally headbutts her square in the nose and tackles her into an adjoining room.

                            Everybody else stares Wilson down as though there ISN'T a domestic disturbance going on in the next room.

                            "The hell are you doing Wilson?" Michael shouts. "You're going to kill thousands of people!"

                            "Maybe more." Wilson responds coldly. "But it's a small price to pay, for me at least. Thousands of new superhumans means thousands of new powers...a buffet of awe inspiring abilities, any one of which could easily make a man into a god. And I'll have all of them before I'm done."

                            "You'll have nothing!" Mann replies, opening fire with his .45 and blowing a fist sized hole in Wilson's chest which rapidly closes itself.

                            With a flick of his wrist, Wilson slams man into the opposing wall before leaping back just barely in time to avoid being bisected by Fanboy's lightsaber.

                            Fanboy laughs as he circles Wilson, his lightsaber crackling dangerously. "You just signed your own death sentence Wilson. Don't you know the whole 'I'll be a god' speech is almost always followed by getting your head caved in by a group of adventurers?"

                            Wilson's skin takes on the properties of diamond as he cracks Fanboy across the face hard enough to black his eye even through his nearly invincible forcefield. "This isn't one of your ridiculous funny books!" the madman roars.

                            "No, this is real life!" Michael shouts in response, opening fire into Wilson's midsection; even though the bullets simply bounce off. "Where proclaiming yourself a god because of how many people you murdered gets you executed by sane people."

                            Outside the door, the group can hear a sound like gathering men and the ponderous clang of a pair of large somethings lumbering this way. Man opens fire wildly into the door itself, causing the soldiers on the other side to duck for cover instead of filing in.

                            An explosion rocks the room and Mann is flung clear of the door as a pair of Luvtech Assaultbots lumber inside. Fanboy immediately responds by throwing one of his own out, which gets lucky and manages to take out both of the opposing bots.

                            Wilson lunges forward irritably and punches a hole directly through Fanboy's assaultbot as the S.C.A.R. troopers swarm in. Stallone and Michael open fire on them at full tilt.

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

                            Meanwhile, McCrow and his ex continue their brawl with McCrow repeatedly slamming Bonnie's face into a plate glass window, blood and mascara are smeared everywhere. When Bonnie finally manages to get a hand on McCrow's arm, she responds by lowering his temperature to the point that the flesh she's touching gets instant frostbite.

                            McCrow stumbles back with a shout and feels his body freezing. He suddenly realizes the actual danger he's in.

                            "Bonnie...you snap your ass out of this, or I'm not going to be responsible for what happens to you." McCrow warns, rubbing his frozen arm while gritting his teeth.

                            "Oh, really Roger? Not responsible for your actions, pfft; sing another tune." Bonnie replies.

                            "I'm f***ing serious Bonnie. You come at me again and you're done this to yourself!" Roger snaps.

                            "Then see let's see how I do!" she shouts and lunges at McCrow with ice already forming on her hands.

                            Once again McCrow sidesteps her attack and grabs her hair, only this time he spins her around by it twice and releases her directly into the already damaged window.

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

                            In the other room they hear a crashing sound followed by a long scream and McCrow burst through the wall in water form like the Kool-Aid Man to punch Wilson right in the side of the head.

                            "What happened to your ex?" Fanboy asks accusingly.

                            Roger glares at the younger hero and replies "She fell."

                            Michael charges into the throng of S.C.A.R. troopers, breaking limbs and bloodying noses in an attempt to avoid actually killing any of them he doesn't have to while Mann pours a steady stream of lead into Wilson's diamond exterior.

                            Fanboy deflects a stream of crystalline projectiles from Wilson before taking a few swings of his own which Wilson dodges. McCrow just barely manages to get his hands on their elusive foe, when Wilson responds by punching through McCrow's water form AND chest with a single well aimed strike which knocks McCrow out of his battleform and leaves him struggling to stay conscious with a bloody hole the size of a bowling ball in his chest.


                            If that's not bad enough, a sudden explosion resounds through the building and they remember that it's probably filled with mutagenic gas.

                            "Mann, go!" Michael shouts. "We can handle things here."

                            Agent Mann glances around, unhappy about abandoning the fight when they need him the most but aware that he's probably the only one here who could disable the mortars. He limps away as fast as he can, his sensors sweeping the building for potential hiding places.

                            Michael continues kung-fuing the various S.C.A.R. personnel, drawing all of their fire onto himself but not really minding it....long term. Short term, it hurts like a bitch; but that's only temporary.

                            Fanboy and Wilson dance around each other, lashing out and dodging their respective weapons. Stallone opens fire, not at Wilson but at the ceiling, aiming for the sprinkler system and gets lucky as he causes a torrent of water to begin filling the room.

                            Wilson grins as he slams a a pillar of water directly into Fanboy, knocking him off his feet; but the mirth is short lived as Roger's chest wound knits itself back together and McCrow tackles him.

                            Thanks to Tiffany's enhanced strength he doesn't come close to going down, but for a split second Wilson's attention lingers on McCrow and seeing his opportunity Fanboy brings his lightsaber down on Wilson's arm; severing the thing cleanly.

                            Wilson shouts and stumbles backwards, holding his bloodless stump as his severed, diamond plated arm turns back to normal. To Wilson's growing horror, the wound DOESN'T regenerate.

                            Seeing the shock on Wilson's face and knowing this could be their chance, Fanboy charges and swings his lightsaber wildly. Wilson responds by slamming desks, chairs and geysers of water directly into Fanboy; battering through his forcefield and cracking the armor beneath under the onslaught.

                            McCrow extends his hand and begins dehydrating Wilson with a roar, however this quickly draws the former General's ire and Wilson uses Fanboy's stunned state to telekinetically snatch the lightsaber from his hand and plunge it into McCrow's stomach.

                            Roger howls in pain as his insides become fire and stumbles back, falling onto his side and groaning in agony.

                            Michael delivers an elbow to the back of the final S.C.A.R. trooper and then opens fire on Wilson, though it does little good as the Lightsaber inerringly protects its wielder as his lesser wounds begin knitting themselves back togetehr.

                            Fanboy focuses on a Mental Blast that doesn't manage to disable Wilson, but it does distract him long enough for Michael to rush forward and deliver a double front kick with enough ferocity to knock him back and the lightsaber out of his hand.

                            Wilson recovers rapidly and lunges for the weapon at the same time as Fanboy, however a sustained blast from the barely conscious Roger holds Wilson in his tracks long enough for the young hero to recover his blade and lash out; scoring a deep hole down Wilson's side.

                            No sooner does Wilson recoil in pain than what feels like a massive tremor makes the entire building sway unnaturally. With a curse, Wilson glances around. "That fool...he actually did it." he mutters irritably.

                            Wilson expels a burst of telekinetic energy which knocks all three of our heroes away and into separate walls, before turning on his heels and rocketing out of the nearest window as fast as he can.

                            "The hell you do!" Fanboy calls out, barely matching Wilson's speed as he forms a telekinetic bubble around their fleeing foe and uses it to hurl him directly back where he started. Wilson skips along the ground with a pained groan before lashing out at Michael with a diamond leg, severing michael's own legs at the knee and sending him collapsing to the ground with a spurt of blood.

                            Before Wilson can recover his balance, McCrow pounces on him; no more capable of overpowering him than he was before; but now with a target in mind. With a defiant roar, McCrow plunges his hand into the gaping wound on Wilson's side; the sheer pain forcing the power thief to his knees.

                            Wilson attempts to drag McCrow off of him, but Roger just digs in deeper until he manages to get a hold of something squishy and unpleasant. He doesn't know WHAT he's got a hold of, I mean he's no biology...guy, but Wilson screams when he squeezes it so he keeps at it.

                            Wilson continues flailing and manages to impale Roger's side in turn with his crystalline arm, Roger coughs up blood but doesn't let up.

                            Michael leaps on Wilson's one arm, his legs having grown back even if his pants now look like they belong to an English schoolboy. He falls back with everything he has, dragging Wilson's arm backwards as McCrow plays havoc on his insides and disrupts his concentration.

                            Fanboy stands panting over Wilson, lightsaber in hand and cleaves the head directly off his shoulders; before taking several more stabs at it just to be safe.

                            All three of them collapse, panting and bloodied.

                            "When we talk about this later..." Fanboy pants. "Let's say I said something cool before I killed him."

                            That almost elicits a chuckle from Fanboy's companions, however a second tremor strikes and without the immediate threat of Wilson they suddenly discover they may have much larger troubles in store.







                            It doesn't take long for them to reconnect with Prophet and get an idea of what's happening. Michael draws a parallel between Steinz's last words and Wilson's; while Roger points out that superhumans were kidnapped from the hospital.

                            They surmise that Steinz, being his cuddly self, found an immensely dangerous superhuman timebomb and used the chaos of Wilson's plan to set it off.

                            "There's major seismic activity going on here." Prophet states obviously. "There's a good chance the city might very well shake itself apart before this is done...of course that's not the bad news."

                            "Then what the hell do you consider the bad news?" Fanboy snaps irritably.

                            "We're looking at a tsunami of...staggering proportions. If the city had weeks to prepare it could still wipe us off the map, but we've got minutes. The death toll will be...I...I don't envision survivors." Prophet replies.

                            Roger punches a wall so hard he breaks his hand and shouts a curse, the others look like they might too.

                            "HOW LONG?" Fanboy shouts.

                            "Twenty minutes." Prophet replies. "Get everybody you can into The Warehouse. If Luvless wasn't just blowing smoke, we might be able to weather it in there."

                            "I'm not running a charity." McCrow grunts. "Call everybody in, but I don't want guests clogging the place up."

                            "Dammit McCrow." Fanboy snaps. "This isn't the time for your-"

                            "You just shut your ass up and get me to the docks!" McCrow shouts over him. "You two!" he barks, pointing at Mann and Stockton, "Find this earthquake machine and put a bullet in the back of his head. Fanboy, prop me up near the water and I'll handle this. Get whoever you can to safety, but I don't give a s*** how soggy it is outside; once this is over they're going home."

                            Fanboy and the Agents stare at McCrow with a little awe at the way he's seized command. Nobody can think of anything better to do, so they go with this plan.

                            Michael grabs Mann and teleports away, relying on Prophet's directions; Mann's senses and Michael's new mobility to beat the odds. Fanboy snatches Roger and speeds towards the docks at fast as he can.

                            As they land, McCrow glances around and takes a deep breath of the sea air to steady his nerves. "Get whoever you can into the warehouse, but I don't want Ben or Franklin there."

                            "Roger, it's the safest place in the city!" Fanboy replies.

                            "Exactly!" McCrow growls. "Which means it's still about a hundred times more deadly than I want my sons exposed to!"

                            Fanboy's taken aback.

                            "You've got twenty minutes before the big one hits...maybe I can push that back to thirty. But before it does..." Roger says, staring out over the water as he lights a cigar with shaky hands.

                            "I'll get them..." Fanboy says. "I'll drop them off..well, I don't know where. But it'll be a good ways off."

                            Roger takes a puff of his cigar and nods slowly. "Then stop goldbricking slackass, go do something useful for once."

                            Fanboy leaps into the air and throws out a net over the city, looking for minds to save.


                            Roger sits on the docks for a long moment before the waves start churning violently. Within the blink of an eye literal walls of water appear to crash against the city. With a wave of his hands he causes them to break against themselves harmlessly.

                            Then another appears, and another...and another. They grow a little larger each time and the waves of his hands become a little more sluggish.

                            For 20 minutes he diverts the water with no problem. For another 20 he struggles. For 20 more he barely hangs on.

                            McCrow pants as waves larger than buildings well up along the coast only to fold in on themselves before they can do any damage. He grits his teeth against the physical strain as he wills his powers to do things they simply aren't meant to do.

                            He's red in the face and his left arm is completely numb by the time Fanboy gives him the message that Mann and Michael have neutralized the superhuman and that the worst has passed.

                            Stumbling to his knees and clutching his seizing heart, McCrow tries to fight the pain out of his voice. "Then get those beggars the hell out of my home." Roger grunts as he collapses to the ground, a half smile creeping over his lips as the waves once more return to normal.

                            Fanboy says something snarky in response, but McCrow never hears it.








                            The Italian crime families received a blow that they won't soon recover from and the blame was placed squarely on the shoulders of one Vincent Depaliamo...which would have been more meaningful if the Italians hadn't just lost the majority of their men and Depaliamo hadn't came into possession of actual superhumans.

                            Within two years, the vast majority of organized crime on the east coast is now routed through the elusive Depaliamo and his superpowered Dons. Italian, Russian, it doesn't matter; you give the Dons their cut.

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

                            Brick received a full pardon for his part in the Tree King's crimes as those actually capable of punishing him felt he was an unwitting pawn that knew little about the lethal nature of the Tree King's uprising.
                            Over the next two years he proved himself as a valuable addition to the superteam McCrow and Friends where he finally found the acceptance he sought in the public eye.

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

                            Following the final death of the Tree King and subsequent loss of his mental influence, the Tree Clones began developing unique minds and personalities of their own. Within two years they have been legally recognized as a unique race, due the same protections and rights as any other human or human derivative.

                            Their population sits at a steady 3,000; though each has shown the same ability to rapidly reproduce as their 'father'.

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

                            Sandy Clemens permanently moved to Missouri with her children to be closer to family and away from the dangers of modern Ventnor City; she's one of less than a dozen superhumans to receive a free pass into the continental US; but her connection to the Fanboy made it a snap.

                            Over the next two years she collaborated with the reporter Elizabeth Ingles to write a tell-all best seller titled "Heroes and Horrors: My Life In Hiding"

                            Luckily for Fanboy, she didn't know much.

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

                            Greg Mallard apparently disappeared from the face of the Earth. With his wife avenged he found himself without purpose and left Ventnor City, and all it represented, behind him. In the last two years, all attempts to reach him have failed.

                            Some suspect suicide.

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

                            Franklin McCrow's marriage managed to survive its rocky beginnings and after two years his wife gave birth to their first child: Luke McCrow.

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

                            Noone knows exactly what happened to Ezekiel McCrow but sometimes the younger McCrows still wake to find themselves covered in a cold sweat and swearing they can hear an anti-semitic tirade still lingering in the air.

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

                            Stallone and the Droplets still faithfully serve McCrow and Friends, though they have started to gain an identity of their own. Stallone remains far and away the most evolved of their kind, but all droplets who survive for a year or more have shown a marked increase in intelligence and awareness...some have even discovered how to reproduce.

                            Their total population currently sits at close to 500. Were it not for their lack of need for even basic human comforts, their expanding population could be cause for worry; as it stands they're mostly a source of irritation and immature humor.

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

                            Stardust continues to remain illusive and conflicting reports have surfaced which list her as either an angel of mercy or of death. Many instances of miraculous healings have been attributed to her, but so have instances of people simply rotting alive.

                            It's impossible to guess at her true motivations, but S.C.A.R. has her listed as a priority target.

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

                            Finch's reputation and business have continued to grow with Fanboy's popularity. He continues ruining lives, living a life of excess and making dreams come true, in no particular order.

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

                            Dr Kavlight officially left McCrow and Friends after the Wilson incident in order to work with the displaced superhumans left in Ventnor City. He isn't above using his powers to resolve disputes, but believes he's of more use as a doctor than a brawler.

                            He and his new partner Bryan Allen, aka the Winged-Man, operate a mission and free clinic out of Bryan's church. The visitors haved dubbed the area Mercy Avenue and it has become home to a predominately metahuman population.

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

                            Mr Amazing is unaccounted for. He is presumed homeless and still crazy; though reports from the Wilson incident list him as responsible for the reapprehension of the Fire Elemental and half a dozen cats.

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

                            The meta-human simply referred to as the Beastman has continued his association with the superteam known as McCrow and Friends; though in a diminished capacity. In order to fit in with the colorful personas of his comrades, he adopts the moniker 'Mr. Misfit' at the suggestion of his new girlfriend: Betty.

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

                            Tiffany's one woman crime wave has yet to catch up with her; though it is rumored that crime rates go up every time she hits town. It's also rumored she does mercenary work for anyone who can foot her ridiculous bill, which is often times the CIA just to keep her off American soil.

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

                            The haunting of McCrow and Friends' seemed to abate after the defeat of Wilson; though whether the murdered child found genuine peace with her killer's death or simply no longer had the will to fight is impossible to say

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

                            The man known as Prophet still acts as the driving force behind McCrow and Friends; assisting both them and occasionally the DHS in resolving crisises before they materialize. To date, he's responsible for the aversion of more than 80 incidents.

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

                            Within two years the world already questioned how it ever functioned without Dr Luvless and his monolithic Luvtech empire. For only a fraction of the cost of traditional wares, Luvless's patented hard-light technology has revolutionized military spending, the entertainment industry, and even basic construction and travel.

                            Every corporation worth its salt has attempted to backwards engineer his marvelous inventions and they all say the same thing: It's impossible.

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

                            Richard remains a part of McCrow and Friends, albeit in the role of an auxilliary member; his powers remain as wild and explosive as ever, though he's managed to gain some semblance of control. He's currently attempting to finish High School and has assumed the professional name of Volt to protect his identity.

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

                            As Bradley's powers evolved, he rose above his own perceived shorcomings to become a true renaissance man. He's currently enrolled in three trade schools, four degree programs and the National Guard. He still maintains close ties with McCrow and Friends and often acts a first responder during their more intense missions.

                            As his powers and skills have grown, he's assumed a new alternate identity: Battalion.

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

                            Lucky Dan continues to be an active force in McCrow and Friends and is among their most popular members, though rumors suggest that the DHS has offered him a chance to go national. He briefly attempted to go by the name Mr Fortune, but it never stuck.

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

                            Chavenski's organization lay in tatters, with his international contacts cutting ties just to save face. His options limited, he became an official (if part time) member of McCrow and Friends; which has allowed him a good deal more freedom and mobility than his criminal past and metahuman status SHOULD allow him.

                            He's relatively unknown outside of the group however; much like Roger McCrow he doesn't care for eyes being on him.

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

                            Parks was promoted to a Director position following his involvement in the defeat of General Wilson. He effectively replaced Reeves and now oversees all superhuman related affairs.

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

                            Michael Stockton has been reinstated as a full agent under the direction of Mann and sports a suite of Luvtech gadgets that make his job all the easier. With two years of intensive therapy he also believes he's finally coming to terms with his PTSD.

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

                            Agent Mann was placed in charge of S.C.A.R. in the wake of Parks' promotion and the vacuum left by Wilson's betrayal, his official position is now Deputy Director. His Luvtech prosthetics are regularly upgraded as part of an ongoing deal with Dr Luvless, keeping him months if not years ahead of what is commonly available.

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

                            Ventnor City itself has been cordoned off to the rest of the continental US by land, sea and air. It requires a specialized passport to enter or exit the city and many tourists drawn in by the superhuman craze of two years ago are now reluctant residents. With a superhuman population of more than 6,000 KNOWN metahumans however, the security is considered warranted.

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

                            Fanboy was catapulted to international fame after the Wilson incident as Finch managed to convince the world he stopped the attack pretty much singlehandedly. Even Big Brother's fame has been completely eclipsed by the rising light of The Fanboy.

                            Over the next two years Fanboy has went beyond a mere superhero, he's become a true celebrity with frequent talkshow appearances, a brief cameo in the Star Wars sequels and the starring role in a semi-autobiographical film about his life; directed by Michael Bay. Roger McCrow's part was suspiciously absent.

                            Fanboy now resides in sunny Beverly Hills along with his mansion, millions of dollars and a new supermodel on his arm every night of the week. Having achieved everything he's ever wanted in life at such a young age, he has to ask himself...what's next?

                            As Finch reminds him: "The Sequel."

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

                            Having prevented all of Ventnor City from drowning in their homes, Roger McCrow was found collapsed on the very docks he'd spent his life working. He was unresponsive.

                            After being rushed to Superhuman Recovery and given priority care by a team of doctors, it was found that no treatment either mundane nor abnormal had any effect. His abused heart simply couldn't take the strain he demanded of it any longer. He was officially pronounced dead while the rest of the city celebrated their hard won salvation.

                            At the insistence of his friend Samell Hamilton, Roger McCrow was quietly buried at sea two days later. A small grave marker was still purchased for a proper ceremony, though most questioned the point. Less than a dozen mourners bothered to come, none of which Ben McCrow recognized.

                            A large man with a thick Russian accent and an oxygen tank, a pair of young men even younger than Ben himself, a drunk that had to fight just to stand up under his own power and several small, childsized forms bundled in raincoats that wailed uncontrollably over the vacant grave.

                            Franklin declined the invitation.

                            Roger McCrow was not a name that history would likely remember. His legacy was always destined to be one of disappointment and heartache and those few who would remember him in later years would rarely ever do so fondly, even if they have the good taste not to mention as much.

                            Not even a noble death could repair the numerous rifts that the volatiled McCrow casually formed in the wake of his own self destructive spiral.

                            Against Finch's wishes, Fanboy was present for the funeral; though he didn't make an official appearance he did watch the proceedings from the sky. He'd considered making a speech and venerating McCrow's noble sacrifice... He'd considered telling Roger's sons that McCrow had died for them...that he'd died for something larger than himself. But in the end, Samell didn't think it'd be a fitting eulogy for the McCrow he knew.

                            The McCrow he knew didn't fight the good fight because it was the right thing to do. He didn't fight the good fight to save lives or attain glory. He didn't fight for his sons, or truthfully even for survival...
                            Roger McCrow fought the good fight, just because it was there.

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

                            As the preacher packs up and excuses himself from the proceedings, his father's mourners corner Ben McCrow before he has a chance to do the same.

                            "I wanted to thank you for showing up. I know my dad didn't have many friends, but it's nice to know that somebody cared." Ben says sadly, shaking the hands of all but the child-sized figures who have yet to stop weeping.

                            "Your father was interesting man." the large Russian man says with a vicelike grip. "We have something, he would have wanted you to have."

                            Ben glances nervously at them. "Oh? What's that?"

                            The Russian jerks his head and the drunk fumbles in his pockets until he brings out a business card and passes it to Ben. "Wouldn't be right for anyone but a McCrow to have it." the drunk slurs.

                            The card is rather unassuming, it simply lists an address and number on one side; the other has a large M&F followed by a tactless slogan.

                            Ben shakes his head as he reads it, "What's this about?" he asks, unsure of what any of this means.

                            The older boy, the one closer to his own age smiles sadly. "Some words from our founder."

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

                            Two years later McCrow and Friends is the first and to this day ONLY officially licensed superhero team in the world; contracted by Ventnor City PD and occasionally outside entities to assist in detaining violent or uncontrolled superhumans which defy conventional methods.

                            Ben McCrow proved to be a genuine and charismatic leader for the group and while unlike Fanboy there's no marketing presence for McCrow and Friends, no action figures or television appearances, they get their share of media attention; especially locally.

                            They continue what they do not for glory or fame or even wealth, but because sometimes as the giant bronze statue of Roger McCrow strangling the stuffed Fenrir proudly proclaims in their lobby: "Punks need their asses beat."

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                            • #15
                              Re: "Let's Get This Straight, You're The Sidekick!"

                              We just wrapped things up for this arc. With a little luck we'll manage to start up Arc 2 within 6 months or so. In the meantime, we'll be playing a vaguely Naruto themed game over Roll20 which I may collect into a journal as well.

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