Capes! Issue #15

Ballroom Blitz

16 October 2010: 0115 hours: Eclipse, Southside

Sure enough: the larger shape beyond the other two metas is Roid!

Tripp slams both walls out and away and pretends to have stepped in from outside:

“BAD TRIPP!!!”

Then steps back, grabs the prefab walls, and rams the whole building off its footings and into Roid! Sheets of sidewall, insulation, cheap roofing tile and innumerable splintered boards fly apart to litter the ground, but Roid’s still standing. He looks pissed.

As Roid begins pulling himself through the rubble, it abruptly and severally leaps up and wraps itself around him! High overhead, Performer sails, weaving the fabric into new and tangling shapes. But to no avail! Roid simply pops the tangling wreckage away, and leaps over behind Tripp, so as to smash him into the solid wall of Eclipse. Tripp sneers:

“You’re excused!”

Startled, Roid’s swing is off-center and wide. Tripp wastes no time on a hardest-chin contest, stepping over to the open rear door through which a new and tempting target has presented itself…

Dynamo and Stretch (known respectively as Dogboy and Strider to the Massive) hasten out into Eclipse’s chaotic dance floor, to be immediately attacked by Skylark, who’s lurking above, and Nightfall, who’s swept in from the Green Room.

Skylark, safe up wall, mocks Dynamo: “Down, boy!” Then calls over:

“Fashionably late, Nightfall?”

“You make your entrance, I make mine,” Nightfall replies grimly, rippling muscles sending his combat boomerang slicing into Dynamo. To the alarm of the two heroes Dynamo’s frame nearly disintegrates as a “Boost event” is triggered.

“That was something else! I just puked into my mouth a little!” Skylark calls, then bounces down off the wall, snaps a ball-breaking kick up into Stretch’s groin, and swings round him ready to send him flying into Bad Tripp, who’s now blocking the doorway. The males in the audience wince as Stretch folds over the pain like silly putty. Nightfall bounds over and slugs him on the jaw, hard.

Back toward Eclipse’s main entrance, Holmes has finally made it to the door. Sprinklers – set off by Wraith – are hosing the crowd now and many are coming to their senses and staggering out. But many others have been slugged by the Speedster who’s searching for Holmes, and have fallen to the floor to be trampled and kicked.

Tripp puts Stretch out of his misery by slapping a hefty paw down onto his bowed head. Turning, he manages to crane his head round on swollen neck muscles enough to see that Roid has been dazzled by one of Performer’s patented light bursts and is wasting time hurling jetsam into the air in a futile rage. Performer hardens the air around Roid into cable-like strands, but again the titanic crimson lump snaps them like cold taffy. Tripp sees that Roid is being effectively stymied: and that a tech marked with tie-dye-bandana is trying to clamber down a makeshift rope from the control booth. Tripp walks across to stand under him: beckons him down, menace in every line. Behind him, Roid shakes off the dazzling effect of Performer’s spells and leaps away.

Gazing around at the victory, Skylark dials 911. Nightfall is trying to determine how badly hurt Dynamo is. There’s no sign of “Muslin chick” or the Speedster. Holmes walks away: he’s not in costume and is keeping cover. Skylark sees Joe Tripley, armed with a 2×2, leading Charlie/Connie away past the Channel 3 news-crew as they set up. She bristles protectively as she overhears Joe telling Connie he’ll take her back to his crib. Her attention is drawn back to a familiar front-person:

“This is Amy Feng, Channel 3 News: The Eclipse Nightclub, a popular night spot and music venue has been the center of a devastating Meta powered incident. Initial reports indicate that as many as ten Metapowered individuals engaged in combat in and around the premises, endangering the lives of hundreds of club patrons. Some of these club patrons Freedom City Emergency Services personnel have informally diagnosed as suffering under the influence as a yet unidentified drug….”

 0115 hours: A rooftop, Shelley and O’Donnell, Southside

Performer uses the M-phone to rally most of the team to the familiar rooftop. He’s brought the smoke machine at Wraith’s request, and two suspects: the tech – conscious – and the unconscious Stretch. Performer concentrates on keeping Stretch inside a telekinetic cage: this will be one slippery prisoner!

Nightfall flexes newly-honed pectorals: interrogates the tech. Apart from Candyman’s drug theory (the meta drugs throw up outlier reactions from crowds: it’s the outliers he’s interested in) they don’t learn a great deal from him, and he willingly submits to a spell that removes the interrogation from his mind.

Nightfall turns to the now-conscious Stretch: but here, he finds a tougher nut to crack.

“So what, you gonna slap me round? You ain’t gonna off me – White Hats don’t do that! So what – I seen your bad cop an’ you ain’t  scarin’ me none!”

There’s a heavy thump as something big lands on the rooftop.

“Bad cop? Oh… you thought I was bad cop!”

Something large, graffiti-smeared and ugly comes out of the darkness. A large mitt fasten on Stretch’s head and slams it several times onto the asphalt roofing.

“TALK, MUTHAFUCKA!!!”

Quite soon, Stretch is happy to fill in the detail lacking from the tech’s data:

  • Candyman: no known real name: Secret base is accessible under Eye Openers, up in Hanover; that’s where Funland – the lab level – is located and where Cheese Combo is held.
  • Speedster [not real codename]: Aaron Bexley: Has an alcoholic weakness;
  • Roid: Denzel Rotherham: No other details;
  • Stretch: Eric Olsen: Wendy Boys’ ex and unapologetic;
  • Angeldust: Michelle Ken: Mental analysis ability; and
  • Dynamo: “Tas” who is an Australian.

0230 hours: Eye Openers, Hanover

Eye Openers is located near Wraith’s workplace and not far from HIT. The Massive gather in the shadows near enough to scan the empty street. It’s a two-story building, unlit, with a service bay featuring a roller door and office door to one side. It backs up against a large office block. There’s another door for foot traffic on the near sidewalk. Further down, a 1971 Caddy El insolently flaunts its pop culture associations.

Bad Tripp snarls:

“Th’ Narc squad oughta be ready about now. They bin warned ‘a stay back tils we calls in. Now: I had about enough ‘a this fucker’s ‘tude…”

The Caddy whistles up into the second-story windows and with an almighty BANG opens a sedan-sized gap. Tripp, Skylark and Nightfall bound in after it. It’s deserted and long so.

Below, Wraith and Performer drift in and find a mish-mash of low-rent office equipment. The ashtray on the service counter yields fairly fresh butts. Through a supervisor’s window, Wraith has a view of the service bay interior: there’s a late model van and some loading trolleys.

There’s another massive impact as Tripp smashes his way down through the floor. Wraith disables the van and the five search for access to the hidden base. Eventually it’s Tripp who lines up the service trolleys with a rack of shelving in the docking bay and rips them away: they’re booby-trapped but once the gas clears away around Tripp – who doesn’t seem to care, or even notice – the four others who have recoiled to safety behold a broad ramp leading down to steel doors.

Wraith… dey might be trapped…”

“Oh, ya think???!!!”

Tripp idly tears the van’s rear door off as Wraith finds and disables an electrical trap on the doors below. Now, he’s got a makeshift riot shield. Tripp uses it to screen himself and the other corporeal heroes as he shoves through the steel doors into a large white laboratory.

Here, four zoned-out trippers are jacked into chemical feeds as they rest near a full range of industrial-volume chemical production vats. Two elevator doors and a stairwell door lead away. Skylark snarls as she reads what’s lettered on each drone’s chem-pack: “Joy though work!”

Wraith locates a variety of traps and the general layout of the building they’re under, which is of course the large office block. It also happens to be the home of Lacey Pizza, a goth-girl-themed pizza service catering to the tech/geek trade. More importantly: the Candyman is using at least two of the floors: the Massive decide on a top-down approach and climb into the defused elevator.

The elevator lets onto a lobby area on the fourth floor: Bad Tripp barges across it, smashes through the flimsy interior doors into reception/office space and smashes open a final set of doors leading to living quarters. Across from him and the flanking Skylark and Nightfall, Angeldust and Candyman stand, alarmed and unready!

Skylark leaps at Angeldust who evades her, only to fall to Nightfall’s cunningly rebounded combat boomerang! Even as Bad Tripp raises a ruined door to throw, Candyman raises both hands in surrender! A syringe lies beside him: a Plan A he’s decided not to activate.

OK. Ya got me. Big props!”

Wraith and Performer sweep the area suspiciously, but things are what they seem: confirmed when Tripp clamps an iron grip on the villain!

“Yeah, sure. Cornered by Buzz Kills in my own pad. Downer smile. So what now, what do you want to know?”

“Why are you doing this?” Performer wants to know. “Is it just the money?”

“Hey, ya got me wrong. I’m a scientist, a researcher on the frontier! Think about it: a thousand people fall into… nuclear waste.  999 die painfully: one walks out with steel skin and laser beam eyes: that’s a 0.1% outcome. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to improve those odds? Say… by a decimal point.”

Skylark’s eyes narrow, but Candyman talks on as if he just don’t care:

“Oh, I would love to know how you tick, what a study of you could teach us all. Think what great things you could achieve… if you put yourself into my hands!”

Surreptitiously, Skylark acquires the loose syringe and tucks it away for later. An idea has formed in her head.

“Less get dese fuckers tied onta some evidence!” Tripp snarls, tiring of the monologue. Performer and Nightfall take charge of Candyman while Skylark shoulders Angeldust, and the Massive move down to where Cheese Combo is shackled to the wall. It’s pretty clear he’s being turned into an alligator-human hybrid!

Skylark rounds on Candyman; hisses: 

“How can you even think this way?”

“I’m a people person, people love working for me,” the rose-spectacled villain replies calmly. “I love how I take care of them, and they know I’m in charge. Ask the joy through work crowd. They work for me, and I give them everything they want. Where’s the crime?”

Leaving the Massive attaching the villains to the lab benches, Tripp slips away: becomes Joe Tripley: calls Hippo on the snitch phone so the Narc Squad can descend on the premises. He lurks out in an alley as Performer Skylark and Nightfall move out: fishes a crumpled pack of cigarettes out of his jeans: lights the driest one up. It’s been a good night for him and a better one for Bad Tripp.

0250 hours: Candyman’s Funland

Skylark doubles back and slips up the stairwell into the lab level again. The sirens are blaring and she’s got about two minutes, tops. Candyman grins knowingly up at her as she preps the syringe; moves over to him. But as she’s baring Candyman’s arm, a voice sounds in her ear:

Skylark, I hope you are not thinking of using that. I have a blaster ready and I will shoot.

Skylark’s jaw muscles work and her eyes glitter manically: but she keeps on task.

“I don’t bluff!” Wraith warns again.

As she moves the syringe to inject, it spins out of her hand, impelled by Wraith’s blaster! Skylark wastes no more time debating: she walks over to the syringe, stamps it into shards, and slips out.

0630 hours: Armory

The news – all local channels and two national – is still rehashing the drugs bust that FCPD announced that morning. Nightfall switches over to his pop’s favorite radio channel: it’s become a habit. Don Phelps is on:

“So people, what do we have here?  The city has been overrun by Boost, and Boosted crazies, every councilman complaining about it, the commissioner bewailing it all. But nothing happens!

“Then all of a sudden: the biggest haul of Boost in the history of Freedom! So much the FCPD can’t even say how much they got yet. You know what I think? I think the only reason that the FCPD found this place at all is some CapesMeta-powered individuals if you will – made it their business to clear up the streets.”

There’s a long audible drag on a cigarette.

“They made it their business and once they succeeded, they made sure that the PD couldn’t do anything but bring in the drugs.

“Just an idea: this was not a police operation: it was handed to them as a surprise. Well, I guess if the Mayor won’t I will:

“‘Thank you Freedom City Massive, this one goes out to you. You’ve been quiet for a while, but now you’re back: so here’s… AC/DC’s Back in Black.’”

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