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[IC] What Lurks Beneath the Fens


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The sun settled slowly beneath the horizon, though the spires of Freedom City had already blocked its light from reaching the miserable Fens for hours before. The Fens were not normally an upbeat part of Freedom City, and many of the city's upstanding residents would really have rather ignored the Fens' existence. This evening, however, something had changed - there was a low buzz of tension in the air, an excitement edged with true terror that not even the Fens' residents could really believe was there.


"-you heard about the new club?"

"You mean the-"

"-hear they give out-"

"That's crazy, no one would-"

"- my brother's best friend can shoot fire out of his -"


Rumors filled the streets of a new means of getting what the people of the Fens deserved (whatever that was). A club - or maybe a bar, no one was really quite sure - that offered honest-to-god superpowers in the forms of drinkable beverages. Dozens of rumors filtered throughout the Fens, and even beyond, into Freedom City's better-off neighborhoods. Something was happening in the Fens, and it could spell chaos for the Fens (or the rest of the city) if it went untouched!


Edited by endwaar
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The acquisition of superpowers was a serious business with serious ramifications. And it was the business of AEGIS. 


Or in this case, Mr. Umberto Velluti. 


He needed practice, he needed experience, and this was what turned up on his radar, 


Stepping through the fens in his remarkably cool Impervium weave turtleneck suit, with blaster pistol tucked in its holster, he felt pretty awesome. At last, adventure! heroics!


He was terrified, of course. But he tried to steer that fear into excitement. Not easy, and not successful, for he was still riddled with the cognitive architecture of a perpetually bullied weedy short kid. 


"Er...um...have you heard anything?" he asked random strangers, bubbling and stammering. He didnt really want to read peoples minds. But...it was getting progressively more tempting. 

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The Scarab III

"You might need to work on that a little." the voice came from above with Scarab perched gargoyle-like on a nearby roof.


She'd been hearing rumours that some drugs was being given way freely, which was suspicious even in Freedom City. Whilst chemistry wasn't really her area of expertise if she could get her hand on a sample it should be easy to work out how it was done and if there was any danger, and if by any chance it was safe maybe it could be used in a more constructive manner.


"Maybe I can help you out, I assume you're chasing the rumours about this mysterious drink in the Fens?"

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The few people willing to speak with Echohead shared the bare minimum of information. One man claimed "The club's somewhere on the river's edge.", while a woman claimed that there were a dozen different stories and she didn't really believe any of them.

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"Gazooks!" yelped Echohead as he saw the Scarab.


He reached for his gun, and pulled it out rather clumsily, but had enough presence not to fire the thing (even if it spat out decidedly non-lethal Ionic C-beams, it was not the most friendly thing to do). 


"Who are you? Yes I am? I can help me out and you can me out help" he gabbled non-sensically before clamping his jaw shut and gritting up his determination and self control. He gave a brief shudder of effort before continuing. 


"I mean...yes! Help would be great. It would be nice to know who from though. I cant call you gargoyle girl, I guess" he said, his brain pulling itself together. "All I have found out is that there is something close to the river..."

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The Scarab III

"I'm The Scarab, the newest to hold the title." it was just easier to explain than to wait for the obvious questions.


Still, even if he sounded like a fool, she'd reserved her judgment on if he actually was, he had managed to gather some useful information. She bought up a map of the Fens and selected the section suggested by the information, cutting down on the amount of area they'd have to search.


"I suggest we head in that direction then! Do you wish me to shadow you from a distance, or would you like me to travel along as a companion?"


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"The Scarab? Why I er er er er er er errrrr" stuttered Echohead, gibbering and yammering and make all sorts of clumsy movements with his lips until once again he exerted his frontal lobes onto his limbic system. 


"Why yes! The Scarab! I have heard of the Scarab. I mean, the Scarabs. The third you say well I hear third times the charm hehe yes well that great" he said, voice fluttering away with his thoughs. 


"Please do join me. I could do with company. And...er....the help" he added, putting his blaster away again. He vaguely heard about the Scarab in some AEGIS briefing and it all seemed good fortune to have her onboard. Providing it was some morphic platic deathbot or something. But if he started thinking that way about everyone, insanity beckoned. 


Wibble wibble....

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Echohead wandered through the streets of the Fens, passing by dozens of seedy looking adult video stores and other shops. The crowds that flowed past him watch him carefully, and he got the very distinct sense that he was not especially welcome in this area of town. Nevertheless, he eventually arrived at the river's edge - dozens of dives and bars, clubs and diners were strewn across the area, leaving him to question where exactly he would continue his search.

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Umberto was a bit lost, and a by "a bit" we mean "completely". 


"This isn't my tart of porn, I mean my part of town" he mumbled to himself and the scarab as he ambled through the streets and took in some of the more eye-popping shops. "I have honestly know idea where to look..."


In more ways than one he thought to himself as his eyes wandered over another interesting shop. 


He could always mind read somebody, but that was a stab in the dark and an intrusive horrible thing to do. No, not unless there was a clear target and no other option. 


"Are, you like, cool?" he asked the Scarab. "I mean....do you have any idea where we should be going?"

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The Scarab

After providing her new ally with a comm Scarab had followed along from the rooftops, figuring that a costumed hero would put people off talking to him.


"Looking around like a wide-eyed innocent isn't a bad place to start. Try doing what you'd normally do and ask someone and if trouble starts I'll be here."


As she tried to reassure her college she checked her built-in map and the sections checked off, with a little more investigation they'd be able to track down the building.


"You doing great, keep it up!"

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"Wh-wh-what I normally do? I don't know what I normally do. Grow daffodils?"


That's not what she meant...surely. 


"Look, I...ah...do you know how to do investigations and interrogate people, that kind of stuff? If so, I could really borrow your brains" he asked. 


And looked awkward. 


"I..ah...mean really borrow your brains. I mean, not like take them out of your head and pickle them in a nice red wine. No, but I can create a copy of your brain in my head. That's why my codename is Echohead" he explained. It was not easy to explain. 


"You won't feel a thing. I just get to know how you do all that cool superhero investigating stuff. I mean, if you know how to do it..."

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The Scarab

Whilst she'd tried to keep up with all the heroes she could off it was impossible to keep up with everyone, but if he was new as well that would explain a lot. She wasn't much more experienced than Echohead but tended to act more experienced, which to be fair was how she lived her life in general. Which had worked for her so far.


"My skills more are in being able to read a person to see if they're telling the truth if it will help you can borrow them for now. "


She trusted her ability to keep him away from anything she didn't want him to know, plus the vambrace helped blocked psychic attacks though she didn't think he was anything like that.

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With the most light of touches, like a feather who had a PhD in feather studies, Echohead skipped through the Scarab's brain. Images of computers and circuits and engines. Spreadsheets and research and data. And beyond, a fistful of psychic power. 


But nothing, it seemed, that was particularly useful right now. The Scarab was simply...well....cooler....than he was. 


That said, her knowledge of computers and administration might be handy. They were trying to track down a club and he had no doubt that some quasi-legal investigation might be in order. 


"There, hardly felt a thing did you?" he smniled through gibbering lips. 


He looked over the streets of the Fens, wondering how to proceed. "I guess now its a matter of asking somebody who has their ear to the street..." he concluded, choosing the most seedy adult shop he could find, and boldly walking in....



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The shop was full of flesh-colored advertisements, cardboard cut-outs of pornstars and other over-sexualized women. The store's walls were lined with a variety of startling objects, some of which Echohead was able to identify the use of, but most of which seemed utterly mysterious to him. A bored-looking man slouched over the counter, glancing up as the hero entered. Pot-bellied and seeming maybe a few years younger than Echohead himself, the man seemed unimpressed by his suit. "So," he said, not bothering to straighten, "what's your taste? Do you need any help finding something?" His tone indicated a deep reluctance to shift himself off of his comfortable position leaning against the counter near the cash register.

Meanwhile, outside, the Scarab noticed a most unusual sight - a man with odd-looking spurs growing out of his brow and, if her deductive abilities were operating properly, his elbows and knees as well, based on the bulges she saw in his clothing. He looked furtively about the road before preparing to enter the same building that Echohead had.

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"Gur...gah...I was looking for a club...I mean a club where people get special treatment...I mean you get special club treatment. Clubbed specially. As a treat...."


He shook himself still, keeping his eyes locked in on the man. 


"I mean, sorry to disturb you sir. Have you heard anything about a club here that deals with...special enhancements? Super powers?" he said, trying to be more direct and avoid the rather long menu of strange activities and scenes that assaulted his eyes wherevere he looked. 

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The man behind the counter arched a brow at Echohead's stumbling over his words, sighing and rolling his eyes. "Look, buddy, I don't care what it is you're on, but I'm not here to make you feel good. That's what the stuff is here for." He gestured at the various erotic tools strewn across the shelves. "I've got no idea what you're talkin' about, but as you can see, we don't sell sex here, if that's what you're lookin' for."


His frown deepened when he mentioned superpowers, but he didn't add anything else to his statement. He had, however, straightened somewhat, and seemed more cautious of Echohead than before.

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"Errr...yes I can see that" said Echohead, doing very well and not looking at all the junk (in more ways than one) on display around the shop. 


He didn't like the man, and he didn't like the shop, and he wasn't trained for this. Perhaps nobody was. But he knew the insides of peoples heads like few others. Poking around had given him a knack for spotting subtle inflections and signs. The man was frowning when he heard about superpowers. Why? Superpowers for people would normally make them interested or keen. Possibly scared. But frowning?


Well, he had to start somewhere. He simply couldn't face the day trawling through seedy sex shops or asking random strangers in dingy clubs. At best, it would be a fruitless, unpleasant experience. At worst, he would get knifed. 


So, whilst he didn't like it, he had to be clear. 


A gentle touch inside the man's head. 


What had he really heard?


"You sure you haven't heard about superpower clubs here?" he said again, the words acting as cue for the man to think about them. 

Edited by Supercape
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"Superpower clubs?" The man's frown deepened. "We don't get those sorts of folks down here in the Fens. No big explosions, nothin'. Just us." He pursed his lips.


Meanwhile his thoughts went to several different (and rather filthy) locations - one was a "bar" of sorts where the waiters and waitresses dressed in spandex and wore masks, but food wasn't all that they offered. Another was a place that offered highly erotic superhero costumes for reasonably cheap prices, and the third was the rumors surrounding a small dive on the river's edge. "Mind, if you're lookin' for something like that, you'd be best lookin' a few blocks from here." He waved his hand vaguely north. "Might be some over there." 

Echohead felt the man's thoughts, which were filled with sardonic irritation, and he knew the man intended to send him on a wild goose chase, so to speak, with his spoken words. His thoughts, however, might prove more useful.

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Well that was interesting... 


Umberto had bad a sheltered life and the various thoughts of the ship owner had sundered that shelter. He would never look at spandex the same way. He hoped the sarab wasn't wearing any...


That small dive, on the river's edge... That was the best bet...


And he made the man Farrell, walking out of the shop to bring the scaran up to speed...

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The Scarab

As tempting as it was to use her vambrace to read the man's mind she was content to let Echohead determine how this went. Instead, she idly thought about what places did and how it squared with her beliefs. It wasn't how she'd choose to do things, but it was up to everyone to make their own choice so she had to respect that. After all, that was why humans had been given free choice. Not that she wasn't paying attention to what was going inside the shop.

"This is your op I'll take your lead." she told Echohead when he left the shop "I have a plan if you want me to join you inside, or I can stay on overwatch for now."

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"I have, I think, a place of interest" Echohead said to Scarab. "And from the sounds of it, I could use the company" he added. "A club, specialising in exotic transformations of...wait...."


Echohead spied the horned man and took a step back. 


"Mamma! What the devil...I mean...literally, what the devil!" he gasped. 


Surely this was a lead, but right now his Mothers Catholic Terror Stories played an umerry tune in an umerry rythmn in his cranium....

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The horned man glanced up at Echohead, his eyes widening. "Y-you! What are you doing here? You're not supposed to be here!" He flung out a hand, another spur erupting from his palm. "Stay where you are! I won't go back! I won't! I'll die before I go back!"

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Echohead dutifuly put up his hands. 


"Calm down, freind. I'm not going anywhere. Not moving a muscle!" he said, quite calmly. He hoped the Impervium weave suit worked as well in the field as it did in testing and training. 


Did this man recognise him?


"Do I know you? I mean, I dont even know what I'm doing half the time, and know where I am supposed to be even less" he said, whimsical. "And I certainly don't want anyone dying. Or even hurt. Not if I can help it!" he said, trying to keep his calmness in his voice. 

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Scarab III

"Did I not tell you to wait till it was all arranged. This man has better thing to do than deal with the likes of us!"


Kamala had of cause had a contingency plan for just such an event, she'd had the material tucked away in her backpack storage locker. She'd wrapped a sari around her, hiding the bodysuit she'd worn, and a massive head scarf hiding most of her face and her goggles around her chin.

Just act natural and we'll be fine, and he'll be in for a surprise if trouble starts. she said as comforting as she could manage, which wasn't really her strength if truth be told.

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The barbed man's barbs twitched, extending into full-on horns, and he lifted the spike on his hand to his throat. "You can't make me go back! You with your needles and your sharp eyes and words! Nothing will make me go back!" He went quiet, his expression harsh. "Don't move! I'll die before going back there!"


He flared with distress and terror at Kamala's words, and he flung out his other hand, a bone barb bursting from it and leveling at her. "Who are you? Why are you here?"

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