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Shaking the Branches (IC)


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Southside, Freedom City, New Jersey

Sunday April 6, 2014

10:14 PM


It had been several months since Foreshadow had first gotten on the trail of a mysterious new underworld figure.  That incident had suggested that this mysterious figure might have abilities similar to Foreshadows.  In the intervening time, Foreshadow experienced difficulty in trying to track down the figure, all the while the mystery man began making moves to disrupt the criminal underworld in Southside.


It had been less than 48 hours since Foreshadow had gone to an underground night club to speak with an arms dealer, Grigory Salnikov.  Given the assassination attempt on Salnikov, the arms dealer had been willing to provide Foreshadow with information on one of his customers, the mysterious man behind the recent unrest in parts of the Southside criminal world. 


Salnikov had revealed that the mystery man Foreshadow had been chasing went by the name Foresight.  While Salnikov could not confirm whether he had abilities similar to Foreshadow's, he did indicate that Foresight appeared to have an uncanny ability to predict events.  Salnikov had also provided the address of a location used by Foresight to which the arms dealer had delivered shipments in the last couple of months.


Given that Foreshadow had already encountered one super powered operative working for Foresight, as well as another that was at least highly trained, the costumed crime fighter had decided it might be time to even the odds some.  So, as he sat on the roof of another warehouse, watching the location provided by Salnikov, he was joined by Dee Farrington, who also was Synapse of the UK superteam Vanguard.


They had been in place about an hour, and thus far there had been very little activity within the warehouse.


A couple of blocks way on the street…


Harry Hound and Freddy Furlong pulled the Caddy to a halt on a dark street, looking over at an old warehouse a few blocks away.  The two private detectives generally focused on cases within the Fens or the surrounding neighborhoods, but when Lucy Harker had given them info about a power struggle taking place in Southside between some unknown new underworld figure and the existing gangs that was leaving a trail of bodies, the two had agreed (reluctantly in Harry's case) to investigate the matter.


It had taken a bit of work, and some "convincing" by Freddy, but the two had eventually gotten a lead to the warehouse that sat in front of them.  According to their sources, the group that was muscling in on existing groups' turf was using the building to channel the illegal arms shipments that were fueling their takeover.    

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Dee Farrington shifted slightly from where she was seated on the roof of the building.  The young English woman was dressed in the costume she wore as Synapse, a fully body suit of medium grey and purple with a mask that covered the upper part of her face.  Part of the reason she was uncomfortable was the fact she was wearing the costume, something that was still new to her.

The other reason was she was sitting on the roof of a building!


She glanced over at the reason she was sitting her, the young man she had met recently at the Sochi Winter Olympics.  Since that time, both had been trying to follow leads on the mysterious Doctor Zero, but those had gone nowhere.  Foreshadow had also started to become involved with Vanguard, making regular trips to London. 


But he still found time to pursue his other work here in Freedom City, and had requested her help with a case.  So Dee had made use of the teleport pad in the Haven to the British Consulate in Freedom City.


You know, you have a strange idea of what constitutes a date.  Dee stated to Erik over the mental link she had established so they could quietly communicate during the stakeout, her mental voice having her distinct British accent.

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Bloody Mess


Sitting in he Chevvy, the Hound smoked furiously. "Damned if I'm going in there, pal. They might have guns. You know, the things that are loud and spit bullets. You know, bullets, right? The really fast things that split open your lungs and splatter your brains?" he asked, chewing the inside of his mouth. 


"Yeah, I know. Been shot a few times, ya know..." groaned the Hound, stepping out of the car. 


"You just sit there, Harry, I'll go check it out" he offered. 


"Yeah, you do that, Freddy. I'll scoop up your brains from the walls when you are done" said the Hound, not looking. 


The Mess gave a little chuckle and crinked his neck. "I'm the muscle, remember?" he laughed, and cracked his knuckles. 


The Bloody Mess was not just the muscle, but the fists too. 


"But I reckon I should, like, sneak up on 'em...you know what that means!" he grinned broadly. 


"Oh Jesus no. I can't watch..." said the Hound turning away suddenly. But like a moth to a flame, his head was tugged around by his need to see, and he caught sight of the blood draining out of the Mess' mouth, leaving a dry, dessicated corpse. 


And a foot high homunculus of blood stood beside it. 


"Back in a moment!" he waved, and leaped off to investigate.

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Foreshadow wrapped an arm around Synapse, but kept his eyes focused on the warehouse from the rooftop.  Good company, good view, and a perfectly good excuse to use a line about warming you up in all this windchill.  I could think of worse ways to spend an evening.  He looked down below for a moment to consider the height.


So before I got taller and shifted to artistic gymnastics, I did aerobic gymnastics as part of a trio.  My dad was circus folk so he liked elaborate routines.  It was the first time I saw the world from above.  I love the view so much I bought a penthouse across from the casinos.  And just think I'm sharing the view with you.


Clearly, he had no reservations about hanging over the edge of a roof.  But, enjoying the view wasn't the reason they were there.  This was the closest Erick had ever been to getting his hands on the prescient villain who had kept slipping through his fingers.  It was not an opportunity he would let go of.  Especially with the careless concern for collateral damage, this man had shown in the past.    


Collateral damage was what brought Erick into the life of wearing a mask and jumping over rooftops at nice.  And preventing it made sure no other little boys would spend their evenings doing the same.

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Well, it is certainly not what I ever planned to do with my evenings.  Synapse responded back, a slight smirk on her face.  Not that I was ever one to turn down a chance to sneak up onto a rooftop and enjoy the view.  The woman had never planned to be a superhero, but had ended up on that path nonetheless.  Still, she likely could not complain too much, while she and Erick likely still would have encountered each other in Sochi, things might have played out differently if she had not gotten more accustomed to using her powers.


She also focused back on the warehouse across from them, trying to study what she could in the darkness.  So, is there anything in particular we are waiting for?

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Down on the street

The small homunculus that was Bloody Mess sped away from the Caddy, moving along the sidewalks toward the distant warehouse.  There was little in the way of traffic, and a number of the streetlights were burned out, so it was easy for him to move from shadow to shadow.  Of course, there was little he could do about the faint trail of blood his passage left behind, but then most would not notice it in the dark.


Up on the rooftops


As Foreshadow and Synapse were engaged in their telepathic conversation, the costumed crimefighter took out his binoculars and began scanning the area around the warehouse.  There were lights on in part of the building, but he could not make out any particular movement within.


But as he was scanning the area, he spotted something that seemed odd.  Focusing on a section of the street heading toward the warehouse, he thought he saw some sort of trail of liquid on the pavement.  Shifting his view slightly, he saw a similar trail on a sidewalk.

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I think I may have just found the answer to that question.  Offering up his binoculars with one hand he'd point in the direction of the messy liquid trail.    It stood out quite a bit but wasn't damning evidence of anything.  Aside from the fact that such a trail didn't exist before they arrived.  It was somewhat fresh.  Could always just be an open trash bag leaving a trail. 


Foreshadow knew better than to play it safe when it came to his precognitive foe.  "This guy, the flamboyant clairvoyant or whatever his business card actually says, has a habit of outsourcing his muscle.  He has resources and knows about my abilities.  And David's.  Even if it's nothing, I'll jump on any sign to catch him.


Without a moment's hesitation, a hand would find its way down to the multi-purpose escrima staves on his waist.  Ready to use the swing line to get a closer look as soon as Synapse showed she was ready.

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Synapse took the binoculars and looked out in the direction Foreshadow was indicating.  I would think we would have noticed something if someone was taking out the trash tonight.  It has been rather still for the most part out there.  She mentally replied as she noted that unusual trail. 


She handed the binoculars back as Foreshadow got ready to go investigate.  Well, this is your show, I am just along for the ride for the most part.  She added as she stood up and moved over so he could swing them both down to the street.

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Foreshadow put his arm around Synapse’s waist and pulled her in close before swinging the two of them down to the ground level.  He guided them down to one of the darker sections of the street, where the nearby lamppost was burned out.  Once down they were able to move closer to the strange trail and examine it.  Now that they were closer, it soon became apparent that it appeared to look and smell like blood.


Further down the street


Freddy managed to get up close to the warehouse without any incident.  There were no guards visible around the exterior.  There were some interior lights visible through some of the dark windows of the building, but there was very little in the way of light around the exterior.


In the Caddy


Harry was still waiting in the Caddy with Fred’s shriveled up body.  He could not make out anything up the street where Freddy’s homunculus had gone.  As he was sitting there nervously waiting, Harry just happened to glance up into the rear view mirror of the Caddy, and there he saw two hulking figures walking down the street toward the car, figures he had seen before.

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The Hound


"Oh how the Fates urinate on my life" muttered a Panicked Harry, feeling the sweat pour off him. "Those two!"


He pulled the desiccated corpse of the Mess into the Chevvy and did up the seatbelt. Freddy felt horribly light devoid of water, but he was still as broad as he was tall. He huffed an puffed as he did. 


With Harry half in, he got the keys to the car in his hand. Sweaty, sweaty, they slipped out of his butter fingers. 


"Holy hand grenades!" he swore, getting them up and firing up the Chevvy, taking a look in the mirror...


"Better part of valour! Better part of valour!" he mumbled, and stepped on the gas....



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Metallic.  That was the nicest way to describe the smell wafting into Foreshadow's nose.  Blood had a very distinct smell, especially when surrounded by large volumes of it.  The average person wouldn't have that experience in their day to day life.  The prescient acrobat was far from average.  "BSI for my buddy and I.  Someone was supposed to keep that stuff on the inside."


He had started openly speaking.  His concentration slipping from the mind link by pure distraction.  It was hard to maintain one's focus at the sheer volume of the blood on the scene.  His arms sliding away from Synapse's waist he'd store his escrima sticks back on their respective holsters.  Immediately stepping forward afterward.


When there was blood all over the scene, there was only one direction to go.  Towards it.  Especially when the bloody trail went into a darkened street.

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Before Synapse could response to Foreshadow, the quite of the night air was broken by the sound of an engine reeving up nearby and tires squealing as someone started off in a hurry.  Glancing off in the direction of the sound, the two spotted an old, beat up Cadillac speeding down the road in the general direction of the warehouse.  A short distance behind it, were two hulking figures dressed in matching dark costumes. 


As Harry began pulling away, he quickly glanced in the mirror and saw the battle brothers begin to run forward a few steps, before launching themselves into the air with powerful legs, causing them to disappear from his view. 


The large blond battle brother suddenly landed just ahead of the Caddy, on the driver's side.  Harry did not even have a chance to react when he was up next to the battle brother, who quickly reached up underneath the Caddy and smoothly lifted it up into the air, the vehicle's wheels spinning uselessly.  "You think you're going somewhere?"  He asked as he looked at Harry through the driver’s side window.


With casual ease, he tossed the Caddy through the air, the vehicle flipping over as it went, to be caught by the African American battle brother, who had landed near the sidewalk of the street.  "We have unfinished business."  He stated, before he also tossed the Caddy, this time aiming it at a parked car.  The Caddy landed on the parked vehicle with a loud *CRASH*, now trapped, unable to move.

Freddy was just about to make his way up to one of the windows to take a look inside when the sound of the Caddy and the other commotion caught his attention and he saw the battle brothers playing catch with the Caddy, with Harry and his body still inside!

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Foreshadow looked at Dee.  Then back towards the direction of the loud crash.  And finally back towards the trail of blood.  Damn it.  I know I'm probably being played again.  But, this can wait.   a sprint.  If ever there was a priority, it was saving lives.  It certainly wasn't catching the bad guys.


With that in mind.  By the sight of the two large hulking figures chasing after that vehicle.  There were certainly plenty of bad guys to go around.  Especially if the sound of that collision was done with their bare hands.  Sure, they could have been curious pedestrians attempting to help a runaway vehicle in need.  But, even still.  A crash meant someone needed help.


Especially when crashing near a warehouse with a connection to the flamboyant clairvoyant.  The noise alone could draw unwanted attention.  And although there weren't many signs of life in the warehouse from the outside looking, that wouldn't stop the possibility of unwanted collateral damage as soon as a hired goon got eyes on the Cadillac.  Assuming that wasn't what was already going on.  Not that Foreshadow needed more convincing than the idea that someone could be hurt to take off.


As he neared the crashed vehicle a familiar face was seen in the crumpled wreckage.   Well, he's definitely seen better days.  Alright, I guess these guys aren't good samaritans or wanting to exchange insurance information.   The spandex wearing muscle-bound men looked aggressive.  And comfortable.  Too comfortable really, almost as if they had been waiting for this.  Or...they were tipped off.


Yep, we're definitely being played.  

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Synapse had been about to comment on the amount of blood she and Foreshadow had found when the squealing tires and crash of a metal drew her attention over toward the nearby scene.  Foreshadow quickly moved toward the scene, even as he mentally relayed that this was probably a distraction set up by the mysterious mastermind they were looking for. 


Well, as long as we are going into things knowing some is pulling the strings. She replied as she started off after Foreshadow.  Coming to a halt a short distance behind, she quickly took in the scene, noting the two powerful figures that seemed to be the cause of all the ruckus.  Powers just seem to come out of the woodwork over here don't they?


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The Hound


The sweat was like ice, and his heart felt like it would burst from his chest. 


"Oh sweet Mary mother of Jesus...please....let me live!" he prayed. the Hound was one of those Catholics that never went to church, but wished they did at times like this. He crossed his heart several times at a pace that would impress a super speeding superhero. 


Still, whilst religious prayer was not be shunned, it wasn't going to boot out other survival instincts, and in such situations, the Hound became incredibly focused on how to stay alive, his senses acute and alive, ready to avoid any fist or boot that might be shoved his way. 


He quickly pulled the lever on the Chevvy, releasing the emergency smoke canister in the rear. It probably wouldn't help. But it might. And he would take might. 


And then, in the blink of an eye, Harry was gone, and a mongrol ragged dog was in his place. 


"Woof woof!" he said in a gutteral growling English. "Please let me get out of this alive! I'm too cowardly to die!"

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The smoke canister dropped from the back of the Caddy, bouncing off the other car underneath and then falling with a faint clatter to the pavement below as it began releasing a cloud of smoke.  The cloud quickly formed around the Caddy and the car it was sitting on top of, not the largest cloud, but at least enough to slow down the Battle Brothers for a few moments.


The African American Battle Brother was the closest to the Caddy, and he moved forward into the smoke cloud, coughing a bit as he did.  "You really don't *cough* think this will help do you?"  He called out, as he blindly felt his way forward until his hand touched a car, he then worked his hands up along the metal until he found the Caddy.  "Ah, there it is."

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Bloody Mess


Hearing the commotion, The Mess was worried. Harry was a good guy, but he didn't react well to trouble. 


"I'm a runner, not a fighter!" he would say. Repeatedly. One might actually say he drummed this home every day, trying to get this absolutely true and accurate fact into Freddy's skull. 


In fairness, even the Mess had got this. Fighting was his job. 


He focussed down on his super blood, giving it that super charged fizz that made him bubble and wobble all over. It was an extraordinary feeling, the rush of pure vitality and strength. And one he would put to good use. For, with a mighty bound (leaving behind two bloody and tiny footprints), he launched himself into the air...

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Freddy's powerful legs sent him flying up into the night air, arching over toward where the Caddy had disappeared into a smoke cloud.  He landed on the roof of the Caddy with a heavy *THUMP*


The second battle brother was a bit further from the smoke cloud that had formed, and just moved around the edge of the cloud, scanning the area apparently on the lookout for anyone that might emerge from within.  But he was clearly not the most observant of villains, failing to spot Freddy's small form drop down from the sky into the cloud, or notice the approach of Foreshadow or even the glowing form of Synapse, who had raised her forcefield. 

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Foreshadow reached for his belt and fired his grappling line in one smooth motion.  The line attached to one of the dead streetlights allowing the acrobatic hero to swing around with a direct path towards the nearest Battle-Brother.  His right leg outstretched for an essentially straight kick His momentum came to a sudden an instantaneous halt as he made contact with the Battle Brother's face.  Pushing off the man's jaw Foreshadow would perform a midair roundoff and immediately dropped to one knee to quickly clutch his ankle.  A cursory check confirming he didn't seriously hurt anything more than his bride.  


"Aargh.  It feels like I just kicked a steel door.  Someone's been eating his Wheaties.  By the boxful."  Figuring if he wasn't going to hurt them with his fists.  At the very least he could throw some sharp barbs their way.  Clearly, it's this dashing and macho display that brings the British ladies calling.

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Foreshadow could almost hear Synapse smirk over the mental link.  You sure about that now?  She replied as she moved slightly closer.  Luckily you have other redeeming qualities that cancel out the bullheaded ones.  She joked as she focused her gaze on the hulking blond figure that Foreshadow had just attacked.


A blast of red psychic energy flashed across the space between the two, striking the Battle Brother in the head.  He grunted slightly, but otherwise remained on his feet as he began to turn toward the two attacks that had just failed to register any effect on him.


There is something odd about these buggers, almost like there are two minds there.  Synapse replied as she braced herself for whatever sort of counter attack the villain might make.

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The Hound


"Woofy! Whats this,  is my bacon saved?" pondered the dog in a surprised and grateful (and canine) voice. 


He jumped around a bit on the car seat, full of nerves, ready to bite his own tail for wagging suspiciously. 


He thought the scent was familiar, maybe. But he couldn't see anything in the smoke. That stench of blood though...that was always there. 


He was about to bolt but remembered the shrivelled up body of the Mess in the car. He couldn't leave the Mess there....helpless. 


Well actually, he could. He needed to distract the two thugs away from the Chevvy. So determined, against his better nature, he jumped out of the car window and started running. 


"Woof woof! Look at me! I'm a dog!!!!" he proclaimed to the world. 

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Despite having found the Caddy inside the smoke cloud, the Battle Brother known as Malcom turned away from the vehicle, moving back outside of the smoke and over near where Foreshadow and Synapse had engaged Jack.  If he heard Harry’s attempts at being a distraction, he paid them little heed, focusing on the two costumed heroes instead.


"Looks like our little tip was right that some others might show up."  He commented aloud.  Taking a step to one side, the large man brought both arms up to his side and then swung forward to bring both hands together in front of him with a loud *WHAM.*  This created a wave of concussive force that swept out in a cone shape, catching both Foreshadow and Synapse in its path.


Foreshadow was closest, and felt the shockwave hit him like a sledgehammer, but he remained on his feet as dust and debris was blown up around him.  Synapse just manage to put her hands up over her face as the shockwave slammed into her glowing forcefield, which flickered slightly but remained in place, protecting her.  Windows on a couple of parked cars and nearby by buildings shattered as the shockwave continued onward before finally sputtering out.

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Bloody Mess


With a hop, then a skip, and then (yes, you guessed it!) a skip, the little blob of animated blood, the little image of Bloody Mess in Red, propelled himself towards Malcolm. 


"Gotta feeling you be needing a bit of lefty, and a bit of righty! And Bloody Mess gonna give you both, double portions!" he yelled. He was aware that the Hound was in trouble. And all sorts of other stuff was happening too, but it was all a bit much to take in right now. 


Bloody Mess reckoned it was better to swing yer fists first, think later. Or maybe just swing yer fists and stop there. 


Yeah, that would be better....


His tiny bloody fists gave a quick left right left of splattering jabs at Malcolm. 


"Come on then! Lets see how you like them!"

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Bloody Mess' quickly jabs with his tiny fists landed on Malcom's calf, but the Battle Brother did not even seem to notice the blows, his attention still focused on Foreshadow and Synapse. 


But while he did not notice the small Mess shaped mass of blood, Jack did.  "What the hell are you?"  He asked as he moved over and brought his foot up to try to smash Mess underfoot.  But Mess was too quick for the Battle Brother, darting to one side as Jack's foot slammed into pavement, sending chunks of concrete flying in several directions as he created a small crater where Mess had just been.

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The truth is, Foreshadow was no stranger to hard work.  Hard work overcame natural talent.  That was how the world was supposed to work.  And then you run into two massive.  And no amount.  But, what his hours practice did provide.  A sense of calmness to quickly reassess and improvise.  Normally, this would be the time he reached for multi-purpose staves again.  Whack the problem harder.


But, there was a familiar Mess nearby.  Neatly avoiding being stepped on.  Which in itself was another sight he would not forget.  Not that his mind palace lets him forget anything.  With that Foreshadow ran forward his non-dominant foot stayed on the ground as his opposite leg prepared to push off his target Malcolm.  As he launched off the man it appeared as if he were trying to somersault kick him.  But, in reality, he was using the much larger man as a prop to flip.  That didn't stop Foreshadow's leg from grazing the man's chin to really sell the point home.


"Hey,Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle dumber.  If I have to chop down your tree trunk thigs with a hundred more chops don't think I won't.  You know what they say, the dumber they are.  The harder they fall.  Although, I guess you'd have to have a friend that didn't shop at the same dollar store for matching outfits as you."   Foreshadow wasn't just faking his attacks.  He was outright goading his foe.  Keeping his eyes open so as to attempt and avoid the attack as it came.  But, also preparing to sidestep out of the way of any errant blows that came his way in such a way as to leave Malcolm exposed for an attack from Bloody Mess. 


Last he remembered, the rough-talking shifter packed a decent hook.   One that would help to figure out just exactly where between a car and a bulldozer they needed to hit these guys with. Two minds?  Well, there are two of them to begin with.  If I'm understanding you right.  Hey, beautiful.  Do me a favor, get the red sludge guy in on this.  I've met him before.  He runs in my circles so to speak.  


Still, that didn't mean the situation wasn't mentally taxing.  His entire fighting style revolved around controlling the distance in a fight down to the last inch.  Fighting was supposed to be a rote action, an activity that he could enter the flow state without difficulty.  But, all this time chasing a ghost coupled with the sensation of how strong this guy was.  It was mentally draining.  Breaking his afformentioned sense of calmness.

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