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Fire, Water, Fist and Coding

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West End, Freedom City, New Jersey

Saturday February 10, 2018

9:34 PM

 

Mali Benjawan was standing on the rooftop of a four story building in West End dressed in the costume she wore as Crimson Tiger.  Over the past couple of days Mali had been investigating the disappearance of several young people in some of the lower income parts of Freedom City.  Her investigation so far (read: some roughed up criminal informants) had led her to believe that these disappearances where the work of the Dark Fist, a street gang connected with the On At-Zhang, a Triad that operated in parts of the West End.


While Mali would normally not be overly afraid of pursuing things further on her own, as luck would have it her friend and former classmate at Claremont, Giang Trang, had reached out about wanting to help Mali with anything she might be working on.  Giang had explained she was helping a current Claremont student with some things and wanted to get her a bit of crime fighting experience as part of the process. 

 

So the two had arranged to meet here.  Mali had arrived a bit early, to watch over the location that her sources had indicated was a hideout for the Dark Fist.  It was an old warehouse on the West End’s boarder with Grenville  For the most part the warehouse was dark and appeared abandoned, but from her vantage point, Mali could see that the section toward the back had lights on, and there were lots of motorcycles parked out near the back entrance and occasionally people coming and going out there.

 

A few blocks away

 

Jessica Witchblood was on a Freedom City Transit bus, on her way toward the southeastern edge of the West End.  The young woman had been looking into the disappearance of Hannah Ryan, a girl that was a peripheral member of the group of friends who worked in the clubs that Jessica was part of.  Despite warnings from Jessica and some of her other friends, Hannah had gotten at least partially involved in some of the more dangerous criminal elements of Freedom City.  And now no one had seen Hannah in a couple of days.

 

Not convinced the police would put this as a high enough priority, Jessica had started looking into it herself.  So far the best lead she had was that it might somehow be connected to a street gang known as the Dark Fist.  So, now she was on a bus headed toward a place the gang was known to hang out at.  The next stop would get her a few blocks from the address.

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Tsunami

 

Giang Trang guided the motorcycle she was riding down the streets of the West End, weaving around a slower moving car as she went.  The young Asian woman was wearing a full body suit of morphic molecules colored in several shades of blue in a pattern that seemed almost to flow and shimmer like water, the costume she wore as Tsunami.  A dark blue domino mask completed the costume, but that was currently concealed underneath the motorcycle helmet she was wearing.  

 

Seated behind her on the motorcycle was Zhu Xieng, the Claremont student Giang had been helping as a mentor.  As Zhu had been making good progress in the things Giang had been working with her on, the Asian young woman had figured it was time to take the teenager out for some observed practical experience.  So, they were on their way to meet Crimson Tiger to help the other heroine on a case she had been investigating.

 

Drawing close to the location where she had arranged to meet Mali, Giang slowed down the motorcycle and pulled into an alleyway.  She found Mali’s bike already parked there and pulled up close to it as well.  Killing the motor and dropping down the kickstand, Giang took off her helmet and looked back at Zhu.  "Crimson Tiger should be waiting for us up on the rooftop." She said, nodding toward the nearby fire escape on a four story building.

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SFX

Zhu nodded taking the helmet off and stowed it on the cycle.  She nodded to her mentor and flashed a smile.  She wore nothing more than a skin tight bodysuit, but with the power of her tech, an illusion of her costume wove itself around her body making it look like the younger girl was wearing a thigh length outfit that flowed and reacted to the environment as a real costume would.  Her face was subtly altered from her normal looks, but it was similar enough to retain it's youthful Chinese features.  The illusionary thigh high boots with detailed clasps made up the remainder of her virtual costume.

 

The ride over here had been exhilarating, with Giang expertly guiding the machine through the city streets.  She had clutched onto her mentor for fear of her life at first, but after a bit, she finally began to get the hang of the balance and shifts the bike would take and soon was rather enjoying herself. 

 

"I like your motorcycle," she said, "if I ever get a drivers license I am going to have to build one.  I bet Rev would love to help with that!"

 

She followed Giang a few feet before adding, "thank's for letting me come along today!"

Edited by BlazingCoconut

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Tsunami


"Thank you."  Giang replied as Zhu complemented her on her motorcycle.  "It was not something I ever though I would have, but Crimson Tiger and John introduced me to them and helped me learn to ride one.  So when I needed a means of transportation after moving to San Diego, I bought one.  I could always help you learn to ride one if you like, though I imagine you friend Rev could help there as well."

 

As the younger girl thanked her from brining her out on this case, Giang just nodded and smiled.  "There can come a point where training can only provide so much more improvement, and practical experience is necessary to truly know if you have improved.  Remember what we have worked on and if you find yourself having difficulty, just stick close to either Crimson Tiger or myself."

 

With that, Giang led Zhu up the fire escape to the top of the building.  Just as Giang had expected, Crimson Tiger was up there waiting in a shadow corner of the rooftop, watching the building beyond. 

 

Giang fully expected the Mali already knew they were there, but she still spoke just so her friend could be certain who was approaching.  "It is good to see you again Crimson."  She moved across the rooftop to give her friend a hug, then turned back and indicated Zhu.  "This is the Claremont student I mentioned, SFX."

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Hannah was Jessica's circle. She met her recently, but the girl had a joie de vivre that Jessica thought she would never see in a normal person. Hannah was all about the hustle though. She wasn't just dancing on stage and side. She had fallen into some known bad guys. While they did pay her for special treatment, it wasn't long until Hannah was missing. First she didn't show up for a few days. Jessica and the girls tried to call and text. Her next of kin didn't care for her profession, so they were no help. So Jessica, at the behest of the crew - and she was no slouch, she was going to do it if they asked or not - began tracking the missing girl.

 

The only connection she had to anything in that life was an 'offer' from certain shady folks. It was straight to the matter, but she was going to have to find Hannah the hard way. She was easy to notice where ever she went. A few on the bus stared, some averted their eyes, others prayed even. This wasn't the most garish outfit. Black leather pants, a leather jacket, and a fishnet shirt underneath. West End led her to some guy named Chavez. They'd meet at the bus stop to discuss some things. but she was sure there wasn't going to be discussion. Then again, she wouldn't go lightly.

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GM

 

Jessica's bus reached the stop she was supposed to get off on, the last one before the bus' route turned back to the east to eventually wind its way back toward Midtown.  She was the only one to get off at the stop, and the mood on the bus improved some once the unusual young woman was off.

 

The bus stop was right under a streetlight, and island of light among dark shadowy sidewalks and alleyways, several other nearby streetlights burned out or broken intermingled with ones that actually worked.  As the bus pulled away, Jessica spotted a figure standing in the shadows of a nearby alleyway.  Once the bus was down the street he walked forward.


"You must be Red."  The man said with a heavy Spanish accent.  "Damn, chica, you sure your wanting to get tangled up with the Dark Fist?  There are so much better things you could be doing with your time."  Chavez was a twenty-something Latino of about average height.  He was dressed warmly for the cold night air and was giving Jessica a look she was more than familiar with.

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Mali smiled and walked over. "Nice to meet you." She glanced around. "Claremont was good to me. Taught me a lot of stuff, about crime fighting, about life." It felt weird to be a veteran hero to someone. The idea of anyone treating her like an experienced, older hero was odd. Yet, she reflected, she had a student. She was training someone. Life had a way of throwing curve balls at you, it was better to go with the flow and adjust to reality, rather than try to hold it to your desires.

 

"Shall we go?"

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Smiling as he complimented her, she remembered the offer made to her. The Dark Fist wanted some entertainment on the side. Chavez even left a thick tip with her that night. Of course, she wasn't about to get mixed up in some darker flesh trade, but Chavez was her only hope of getting information. She smacked her lips, "if money like that keeps coming my way, how could I refuse?" She walked towards him, "though I hear you got other girlies in this deal. Like that white girl with the blonde and red-streaked hair and the nice butt you was with before me?"

 

She stopped, getting in his personal space. "There ain't gonna be any competition, is there?" She turned all the way around to show off her assets, front and back, side to side. "Then again, we know who'd win that. Right, papi?"

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Zhu smiled at the Tigress as they met, "no really, the pleasure is mine.  I mean... I know this is going to sound bad, but it's really exciting to meet you.  We did a study on the arms deal at HyperMegaCorp that you did with Terrifica so it's really awesome to meet you in the flesh."

 

Then she nodded and followed the two heroines, determined not to make a mess of anything that happened tonight.

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GM

 

Chavez gave Jessica a quizzical look as they started walking away from the bus stop. "I'm not sure who you’re talking about Red."  He said.  "I have not brought any other girls here."

He then shrugged and her question about competition.  "I wouldn't worry about it chica, there are sure to be other girls there.  I hear the Dark Fist are celebrating some sort of big score or something.  But you?  I don't think you have anything to worry about."

 

They walked a few blocks from the bus stop and came up to an old warehouse.  From the sidewalk it looked dark and abandoned.  But standing near entry way into the outside lot behind a chain link fence were a pair of Chinese young men.  Chavez led Jessica over towards the two men, who turned to regard them, tensing slightly.


"You Chavez?"  One stated as the pair drew near, his hand resting on the grip of a pistol tucked into the waistband of his jeans. 

 

"That's me."  Chavez replied, holding up his hands to show they were empty.  "This is Red."  He then added, indicating Jessica.

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Jessica, or 'Red' now, followed along with Chavez. Like when she danced, this was all an act. She wrapped Chavez's arm around her waist as they walked to meet the members of The Dark Fist. "So, Chavez, you know I am better than that other girl. That's why you chose me. Dark Fist or no, you made a good choice." There was a subtle dig for information, but not enough to set off any suspicion. There were other flirtations in the few blocks they walked, anything to keep him talking. Loose lips and ships.

 

She slid away from Chavez when they got to the warehouse. These people weren't the people she was expecting. She remained calm though. Again, showing off after for the street thugs after Chavez introduced her to them. A slow, graceful turn to show her front and back side to side. "Chavez here said you guys wanted some entertainment." She walked up to the one with the gun. Close enough not to not get him to pull it, but close enough for him to hear a low sultry, "and maybe we can get something more permanent going?" She was not about to join this gang, but if going on the inside got her more information about Hannah, she was more than willing.

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GM

 

The two Asians regarded Jessica as she did her little turn, one saying something to the other in Chinese.  When she was done the one with the visible pistol gave her a smirk as he replied, "we will see how things go tonight Red."  He then tossed Chavez a roll of money.  "Come in in, things are just getting started."  He stated, gesturing for Jessica to come on through the gate.

 

Once she was in, the one with the gun started leading her towards the back loading dock.  Chavez watched Jessica for a few moments, a look that might have been regret on his face before he turned away, pocketing the roll of money.

 

As Jessica followed the Dark Fist gang member toward the back of the old warehouse, she could hear a deep base beat reverberating through the old buildings walls from inside.  A couple of other gang members were standing around on the loading dock, several whistling at the sight of Jessica as she came up.  The one escorting her said something to them in Chinese and one opened up the door he was near.  The beat of the music was clearer now that the door was open, and she could see lights flashing within the dark room inside.

 

"Go on in Red."  Said the gang member that had escorted her from the front gate, gesturing towards the door.  "The party is in there."

 

Over on the opposite side of the warehouse

 

While the guards at the gate had been busy with Chavez and Jessica, Crimson, Tiger, Tsunami and SFX had made their way off the rooftop and over across to the side of the warehouse furthest away from the part of the building where Crimson Tiger believed gang members were occupying.  It was dark and quiet on this side of the warehouse, no visible guards or security devices. 

 

The trio got past the fence around the warehouse by Tsunami getting onto the top and Crimson Tiger boosting SFX up so Tsunami could get the teenager over to the other side.  Once that obstacle had been passed, it was much smoother going, as they reached the warehouse without any sign of anyone inside knowing they were there.  Once they were up alongside the building, the three could hear the fait sound of music from within.

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Jessica made subtle observations about the walk to the party. She held on to the leader type, with one with the gun. Of course, she thought she was with the more important people. The guy just had his side piece for a few quiet moments. Nothing looked like there were any others here, besides her. She hoped her gut feeling about Hannah was wrong. That her friend wasn't shipped off to some life of servitude or worse. Well, she didn't even want to think of worse. She held to spirits of Pride and Lust before she got here. They always evened each other out, which helped her focus.

 

She didn't understand Chinese, but she could get a hunch about where she was going. "Aren't we all going in? At least you and I," she whispered in her escort's ear, trying to entice him, "I don't know anyone here. You could teach me all I need to know." She pulled back from him and smiled with a wink. Opening the door into the room, she soaked up the sights and sounds. This scene was as carnal as the spirits she besought for her magic. "Well, doesn't this seem homey?"

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SFX

While SFX didn't quite know what they were doing yet, as neither her mentor or the other lady had explained what was going on, the thumping music and looks of the place they had snuck too practically screamed that something was wrong.  While she waited with the pair she executed the botnet to start giving her an idea of what was around her.  Thankfully, she was getting better and better at this and the small machines floated off, invisible and silent.  As the cloud expanded so did her awareness of the surrounding area.  She received a very thorough visualization of the area and the people within and she started to catalog what was going on.

 

"It's a party," she said.  While that probably didn't need saying, she did anyway.  "I'm starting to try to figure out how many of them are armed or not."

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GM

 

The gang member that had escorted Jessica glanced at her for a moment and then smiled, saying something in Chinese again and jerking one finger back toward the gate they had come through.  As one of the gang members standing on the loading dock started off toward the gate, Jessica and her escort entered the building.

 

Although Jessica's eyes had been adjusted to the darkness outside, the chaotic lighting inside the warehouse was momentarily disorienting, but she soon adjusted to the club-like environment and was able to make out some of her surroundings.  They were in what had once been part of the loading area of the warehouse, a big wide open area, around which there were now several tables, chairs and even a few sofas gathered.  A couple of dozen people were gathered around the area, the majority other gang members, but there were a number of other women present as well, intermixed with the gang members.

 

Slightly deeper into the warehouse was a loft area above the warehouse floor, with several other tables and chairs set up on there and a few dozen more people gathered up there.  As Jessica was taking the scene in, her guide tapped her shoulder and gestured for her to follow him.

 

Outside on the opposite end of the warehouse

 

As SFX spread her botnet out, the nanomachines were able to find plenty of broken windows and the like to filter their way into the warehouse.  She counted five men out in the back of the warehouse, three on the loading dock and two over by a gate near the street.  Inside the old building, she found more than four dozen people, all gathered in the warehouse area near the loading dock. 

 

There were both men and women, although there were about twice as many men.  There seemed to be lots of beverages set up on tables both on the main floor and a loft area were several people were gathered.  From the information provided by the botnet, more than half the men in the building appeared to be armed, while there were also several firearms in various locations around the edges of the area where the people were gathered, everything from pistols to a few assault rifle style weapons.

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Crimson Tiger heard SFX's explanation of the interior, she grinned. "That kind of recon can save time and cut a lot of risk." She was impressed. "So, I'm good at getting in where I'm not wanted, and so is Tsunami. If we go in, do you have a way to stay out of sight? I'm thinking, try to get in and find out if they have the vanished people, or know where they are. I have ways of making people talk if need be. Mostly, I was hoping to avoid a big fight if possible." 

 

She looked from one to the other. "Any thoughts?"

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Tsunami

 

Tsunami smiled slightly as SFX provided information on the interior of the warehouse.  "As she was unable to detect any individuals off away from the main group, if the missing people are here, they are either mixed in with the gang members or somewhere SFX was unable to get information on."  The Asian young woman said.

 

"Right now there is a lot of noise and distraction where the gang members are, should not be too hard to get inside and get somewhat close, so long as one does not somehow make a lot of noise."  She then added.  "She should be able to trail a bit behind without attracting attention."

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SFX

With a grin, SFX's form rippled and a very movie ready leather clad woman stood in her place.  With her head shaved on the side and hair colored bright pink and cascading down her back, she definitely looked like some of the less legitimate residents in the area.  Pulling out a small mirror from her uniform, she checked out the illusionary costume and nodded, "I just wish I had programmed the vocals better with it."

 

Then she considered, "I can also put holographic thugs all over the place.  It might help us if they're chasing after phantoms, right?"

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Tsunami

 

Tsunami glanced over at Crimson Tiger briefly, giving her friend a smile and then looked back at SFX, the smile still in place.  "That should work very well."  She replied.  "See if you can spot anyone that appears to be a hostage.  If this becomes a direct confrontation, focus on keeping any gang members away from the heavier weapons they have in the building."

 

With that Tsunami gave a nod back to Crimson Tiger and the three heroines made their way into warehouse, Tsunami and Crimson Tiger slipping off on their own once inside.  The two older heroines disappeared into the shadows as SFX started making her way through the rows of shelves toward the section of the warehouse from which the lights and music were coming.

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SFX

The difficulty of her ability was that while she could get the visuals to match, making the physical body language sync up to her persona.  So it was with perhaps a little exaggerated swagger and a vamped hip sway that she walked into the lion's den.  Despite how nervous she felt, she plunged straight into the crowd resisting the urge to apologize each time she bumped into someone.  As she passed people she listened to how they were speaking, hoping it would be either English or Mandarin.  One of major goals was to secure the weapons like Tsunami had asked her.  Thankfully, that didn't appear to be as hard as she might have expected.

 

Using her powers she started prepping code to seal the barrels on as many weapons as the botnet could reach.  Hopefully it would help reduce any collateral damage if it ocured.

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She knew they understood her, the guy she was with at least. The sight of the gang members and girls gave her hope that she was on the right path. None of them were Hannah. Still, she had a possible others to clear out as well. And yet, they weren't finished? Follow the leader of course. Deeper into the rabbit hole. Each new scene something to chew on mentally. A place to find her lost friend.

 

Jessica almost stopped there for a bit to mingle. Make it look real even. Hannah wasn't the ditsy type, she had her hustle going strong. She hoped the best for her friend. That and Jessica wasn't either. Playing along though was wearing on her mind. "Hey," she said, keeping her voice pleasing, still hanging close to her guide's side, "when does this ride stop and the fun stuff start? Then again, maybe you paid him to give me a tour?"

Edited by Jessica Witchblood

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GM

 

SFX

 

Moving forward towards the sound, SFX had no trouble moving to the edge of the crowd and blending in without anyone questioning her presence.  There were a lot of late teen/early twenties Asian males that she took to be members of the gang they were here to investigate.  While SFX heard some English being spoken, it seemed the gang members primarily used Cantonese when speaking with each other, which mean that SFX was able to only pick up a fraction of what they were saying.

 

From what SFX could tell, there did not appear to be anyone she could see so far that seemed to be being held against their will.  The weapons she had detected earlier would be relatively easy for her botnet to get to, should the need arise, they were just a bit spread out around the main floor of the warehouse and the loft above.

 

Jessica

 

Jessica's guide stopped as she did giving her a sly grin.  "Don't worry, the fun will start soon enough.  Your friend was paid because he brought you to help provide entertainment, but, as much as I might wish otherwise," he glanced down at the rest of Jessica a moment before looking back up, "it is the boss who decides who gets to spend time with you first."

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Mali kept to the shadows. Unlike SFX, she couldn't exactly walk into the club as she was. She had a few things at home that might make her blend in, but none of that was here, at least. She had two objectives. One was to find the victims, the other was to find some likely target that could be grilled for information. Mali was surprisingly convincing when pressed. 

 

She trusted that Tsunami could keep up with her, and they could handle trouble. Mali was cautious around people with guns, but they didn't scare her. They rarely lead their targets well, and most of them folded effortlessly. People with guns were generally only good with guns, if that. That, and people were known to drop their guns before she got to them, if she got to someone else, first. 

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SFX

What Zhu found, besides the weapons was that the predominantly Asian gang seemed to all be here on their own volition.  At least no one looked like they were in distress, at least as far as she could tell.  Unfortunately for her, it seemed that the people at the rave were far more handsy than her students at Claremont were and she was certain that more than once some punk had gotten liberal with where he was putting his hands.  She couldn't afford a reaction that would make her appear different from the people that were actually here to party, although she was pretty sure that her rictus grin responding to such ventures at least had the effect of scaring them off trying to push their luck further.

 

As she walked, she left the BotNet to scan the surrounding area, keeping what she hoped was a reasonable view of a 50' radius around her.  Perhaps there was some other room or area that she wasn't aware of.  What they needed, was some kind of communications, but she supposed that if something were to happen, then she'd probably be able to tell by the crowd's reaction.

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Jessica smiled like the guy leading her around would have wanted. There would be a wait, but this? Probably time sensitive. She leaned in on her guide's ear from behind, her arms around his chest, "your boss, is he more powerful than you? You look strong yourself." She floated around to his other, "is he older, wiser than you? You could take him down easily in his age. Or perhaps he's your age, you can supplant him easy." Planting the seeds of opposition was easy too. It helped that she let a Lust spirit into the unsuspecting one. Making him feel hatred towards his master. "When you take me to him, let him know." If Hannah was there, they could dip out in the chaos. If not, well, bloody coup is not how she would want it to happen, but these people talked with their guns anyway.

Edited by Jessica Witchblood

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