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Supercape

Red Net

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GM

 

October 10th, London

 

The WEST jet was a converted 747. It was jam packed with sensory equipment, libraries, laboratories, computers. THere was space to live and eat in there. It even had a fish tank. 

 

But no jacuzzi. 

 

Doctor Norris North, director of W.E.S.T (World Exotic Science Taskforce, an arm of the UN) had flown Replica there. They had only just saved a valuable and dangerous batch of Darwin-X from theft by the mysterious Red Dawn. The soldiers who had tried to take it, whilst clearly Russian, clearly highly trained, seemed to have no memory of anything to do with their mission or their masters. 

 

The only tangible clue was Mother Board, the name of the hacker who had orchestrated the Gridlock that had allowed the theft. 

 

After landing, North and Replica took a famous black London Taxi to the HQ of Vanguard. 

 

"I have somebody in mind. Synapse. Genius member of the Vanguard, the supergroup of this area. She is highly skilled with computers and has some experience with Darwin-X, I understand. If anybody can help us, she can. So lets put on our best diplomatic hats, and see if we can persuade her..."

 

He rang the doorbell of the Vanguard HQ. 

 

"Hello? Hello? May I enter? This is Doctor North, from the United Nations..."

Edited by Supercape

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Replica

 

Replica didn't have much a chance to enjoy the WEST jet flight across the pond, despite it technically being the first she'd physically left the United States.

 

No, she was far to busy still trying to find something, anything, on the Internet that gave her clues about Mother Board and Red Dawn. 

 

But even with the added benefit of time and state-of-the-art WEST scientific equipment, the android still had little to go on.

 

Dr. North was right. They needed help. Someone who at the very least could look all this complied data with a fresh pair of optics.

 

That thought was burning through Replica's artificial synapses even as she walked up with Dr. North to the Vanguard's HQ in London.

 

We need help. 

 

Replica could only hope that Synapse was the person that could provide it and help stop whatever other plan of terrorism Red Dawn and this Mother Board character had planned.

Edited by Cubismo

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Synapse

 

Dee Farrington was sitting in the Haven's main command center when VERA informed her that there were two individuals making their way up toward the headquarters' entrance.  The Englishwoman had been scanning various online news outlets and other media sources, trying to see if she could find anything that suggested what might have happened to her friend and teammate Ms. Britannia during the recent incursion from the Terminus in Freedom City.  One free hand ran through her shoulder length black hair, disrupting one of the dyed orange streaks of color she had added.

 

Letting out a small sigh as she heard Dr. North introduce himself, citing his UN credentials, Dee turned away from what she was doing as she fully zipped up the costume she wore as Synapse of Vanguard, a fully body suit of medium grey and purple.  "VERA, could you please let our guests in and let them know I will meet them in the foyer."  She stated as she picked up the purple domino mask she also wore and put it into place, starting towards the location she had indicated. 

 

At the front entrance, the door to the HAVEN slid quietly open as an artificial voice spoke up.  "Greetings Dr. North, I am VERA, the major domo of the HAVEN.  Synapse is on her way and will meet you shortly in the foyer.  In the meantime, is there anything you or your companion may need?" 

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GM

 

North was a bit surprised at the AI, and given the rather worrisome experience he (and Replica) had had with AI only a few days ago, he was also nervous. But, to his credit, he rallied quickly. 

 

"No..thank you" he said, a speck of mumbling in his normally erudite voice. "We are quite fine"

 

He had indeed had a nice cup of tea and an English Breakfast at Heathrow Airport just an hour or two ago. 

 

He took a moment - or several - to inspect the rather splendid Headquarters of Vanguard, and compose himself. 

 

I just hope Mother Board...whomever he...or she...is, doesn't get inside THIS AI too. The gridlock had been bad enough. Goodness knows what VERA could do. On the other hand, he reassured himself, the firewalls and protective systems on VERA where surely of a higher calibre...

 

I Hope...

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Replica

 

As they waited in the foyer for Synapse to arrive Replica shot Dr. North a concerned look while he was busy admiring the Vanguard's Headquarters.

 

Replica didn't have to be a social butterfly to tell that Dr. North was more than a little shocked that they had been greeted by an AI. He had been trying to hide it of course, but it was painfully obvious to even her that the gridlock crisis in Freedom City had traumatized the good doctor more then he care to openly admit. 

 

His newfound paranoia didn't bother her necessarily. No, that couldn't be it that. He was just being understandably prudent in the face of a still pressing cyber threat that very well could have caused the deaths of hundreds of Freedomites. It was logical for him to be cautious about the potential risk of any AI being hacked and subverted by Red Dawn and Mother Board.

 

But even with that rational Replica still felt somewhat betrayed and self-conscious by Dr. North's technophobia. Did he think that she was a danger as well?

 

The android just shook her head and focused on why they were there. She could talk to Dr. North later once she and Synapse were done taking down Red Dawn. 

Edited by Cubismo

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Synapse

 

"Well, do not hesitate to let me know should you require anything."  VERA replied as Dr. North indicated he was fine and Replica did not speak up regarding anything.

 

The two did not have long to wait before Synapse arrived, coming from one of the side passages.  "Good morning, welcome to Haven."  She said in greeting with a refined English accent.   Making her way over to the pair, she offered her hand in greeting.  "I am Synapse, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance Dr. North."  She then regarded Replica as she offered her hand again.  "And I am sorry, I did not catch your name?"

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Replica

 

"My name is Replica." She replied in her usual monotone while taking Synapse's hand and giving it a firm shake.  "It's like likewise a pleasure to meet you, Synapse."

 

Replica didn't know much about Synapse besides the basics and her membership as part of the Vanguard. She supposed she could have her powers to find out more information about her, but ultimately decided against it. It was all well and good to use her abilities to learn everything she could about villains and terrorist groups but when it came to non-villains the android preferred not invading someone's privacy if it could be avoided. Besides, she could always ask Synapse herself if she had questions. 

 

Once the pleasantries were exchanged, Replica did just that. "How much has Dr. North told you about our investigation?"

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GM

 

North politely interjected for expediencies sake. 

 

"Almost nothing, I am afraid" he said, demure. "Allow me to fill you in"

 

"Only a few days ago Replice here stopped a theft of Darwin - X, which I understand you are familiar with" he said. "It was the United States only sample, and a very small sample too. We were transporting it, top secret, top security. And yet somebody peeled through all our firewalls and security as it they were butter" he explained. 

 

"Our only lead is a mysterious individual known as Mother Board, a hacker. She orchestrated the theft, as far as we can see, and the soldiers who tried to steal the sample were Russian. They referred to a movement, or organisation, known as Red Dawn. Again, we know nothing about this. And the Sodliers who we captured seemed to have no recollection of anything. Like they were hypnotised, or something" he explained. 

 

"You can understand the concern. And this at least partially falls under the remit of the World Exotic Science TAsk Force, or WEST. A Dawrin-X outbreak could be catastrophic, and whilst we are coordinating with the World Health Organisation on this matter, it is simply to exotic an organism for them to manage on there own"

 

"It struck me that you, who as part of Vanguard has been involved in tracking down the Virus, has psychic abilties that may help us understand what happened to the soldiers, and lastly - I understand - are an expert in computer systems, would be the perfect person to help us. If you would kindly consider it?" he asked with a little bow. 

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Synapse

 

"Cheers Replica."  Dee replied with a small nod as the other introduced herself.  The Englishwoman then focused on Dr. North as he began to explain the background of what they were seeking her help with.  Dee frowned slightly as she listened to Dr. North, plenty of memories coming back to her as he did.

 

"Yes, I have some experience with Darwin-X."  She replied when he finished.  "I first came across it during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.  I imagine you heard about the doping scandal that led to a large part of the Russian team being disqualified?  Well, that was in truth a plot to see the Russian team sweep a majority of events by administering a version of Darwin-X to the athletes.  The blame was placed on the head coach of the team, but he was merely a lackey of the true masterminds of the plot."

 

"The true masterminds were both old-Soviet Cold War agents.  One was Doctor Zero, a product of a Soviet-era super-soldier program based off materials captured from a WWII Nazi project.  From what I understand, he was provided a 'pure' version of Darwin-X, which provided him with peak human strength, agility and endurance.  He was also something of a genius, responsible for synthesizing the Darwin-X used at the Sochi games."

 

"The other individual behind the plot is an operative known as The Sleeper.  At the time we encountered him, the Sleeper was elderly, frail and bed ridden, but he was still a powerful psychic.  While I can use my psychic powers to try and seize control of another’s mind and control their actions, the Sleeper had a very different way of accomplishing this.  With a touch, he could plant psychic commands into the target’s mind, which would could lay dormant for years or even decades.  When triggered, these commands would turn the individual into a Soviet agent, one who was not even aware of what they were doing or why.  From your description of the soldiers trying to steal the Darwin-X shipment, they could have been victims of the Sleeper.  Last I knew, the Sleeper was being taken into Russian custody after the plot at the Sochi games was uncovered, but I have heard little to suggest he has stayed there."

 

"I am afraid I do not know anything about a Mother Board or Red Dawn.  But, I am more than happy to provide assistance in this matter."

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Replica processed all the new information Synapse just provided. She knew about the strange events that occurred during the 2014 Winter Olympics, but of course, didn't know about the strange details involved for the Russians getting disqualified. The more interesting tadbits though was the involvement of Doctor Zero and this Sleeper character. A psychic influencing the Russian soldiers she had fought would not only explain their complete lack of memory of what they had done once they were capture, but also their fanatic devotion to completing their mission. There was a connection here, Replica was sure of that. It was only a matter of unraveling it to get to the truth. 

 

Once the processing was done Replica nodded her head in understanding. It was one those human gestures he had picked up over time. "Thank you for the information, Synapse," she said cordially. "I believe you are right in your assessment that the Sleeper's involvement in the Darwin-X attack is likely given the nature of his powers. Furthermore it seems more than likely that Red Dawn is a Russian terrorist group in origin." 

 

"Perhaps the Freedom City attack was made because this Doctor Zero wanted another batch of Darwin-X at his disposal? Or maybe he wished to expose it immediately to the populace of Freedom City as a terrorist attack against the US? He is a Soviet super-soldier perhaps the Cold War isn't quite over in his eyes?"

 

Replica signed. Another human gesture, one that he been using more and more in recent days. "This all theory of course. Without much hard evidence to back it up." The android looked to Synapse then. "But perhaps we can find some using your powers? It is possible for you to use your telepathy to probe the minds of our captives to see if there's any evidence of the Sleeper and Doctor Zero being responsible for their brainwashing?"

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GM

 

"The sleeper!" muttered Doctor North. "He certainly fits the profile. I don't like leaping to conclusion but its a very good match. It has to be him!" he said, with uncharacteristic certainty. 

 

"We have three of the soldiers in FBI custody for debriefing. Its caused something of a political issue, all dealt with out of the media spotlight. But leave the politics to me" he said, carefully. "That's really my job at WEST, greasing the rusty cogs of politics" he sighed. It wasn't the prettiest of jobs, but North had plenty of experience - he had worked high up in the WHO for nearly two decades, and was the perfect mix of skills - diplomat and scientist. 

 

"It would certainly be worth a shot, Synapse, if you are willing. It would mean a trip stateside however - I doubt I can get the soliders transported to the UK, even if the states and the UK are strong allies. I have the WEST jumbo jet parked at Heathrow. Fast, smooth, and equipped with top line computers, laboratories, and so on. Even a fishtank. But not jaccuzi, I am afraid" he said. 

 

How he had fought for the jaccuzi. But it was, unfortunately, deemed superfulous!

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Synapse

 

"For the Sleeper and Doctor Zero, Soviet Russian and communism is not dead, but something they wish to see revived.  I imagine they are more than willing to revive the Cold War as part of their goals."  Synapse replied to Replica’s comments on the background information provided about the two former Soviet agents. 

 

"But I am more than happy to help with your investigation.  I have unfinished business with both the Sleeper and Doctor Zero.  I do have familiarity with the Sleeper's psychic abilities, so I could potentially determine whether he has some hand in influencing these Russian soldiers you have dealt with."

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Replica

 

Replica turned to Dr. North and gave him her best attempt at a sympathetic, if sarcastic, smile. "The loss of the jaccuzi is indeed a tragedy but I'd much prefer having the extra room for our computers and equipment if given the choice." Going back to Synpase the android returned to her more serious tone. "I'm relived to hear that you can help interrogate these soldiers. If I'm being honest we had run of out leads and would have hard-pressed to discover much else about these terrorists."

 

With that admittance out of the way Replica regarded both her colleagues. "If that's it then, and were all in agreement, then I think its best we move out as quickly as possible. We don't know when Red Dawn and Mother Board will strike next and that has to be remedied as quickly as possible."

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GM

 

And so...

 

Another flight in the WEST jet. This time, back to the states!

 

The flight was another six hours, even with the souped up engines of the jet. And the travelling was bumpy. No science could control the weather- at least yet! North tried to catch a few hours sleep - for unlike Replica he was made of flesh and blood and caffeine only took you so far. But it was a light and unrefreshing sleep. 

 

The plane set down in Freedom City without incident, and the three of them went to the FBI holding facility just out of town. Security was pretty tight, as might be expected, but North got them through - although they were "escorted" by four armed guards at all times. 

 

The three captured Russians were in solitary, but well looked after. They were watching TV, exercising, or playing cards. Fed and watered, and given some basic luxuries. Nobody, yet, could work them out. All psychological and physical data had already been sent to North, and nothing outstanding was evident...

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Synapse

 

During the flight back to the United States, Synapse spent part of the time reviewing the data regarding the Russian soldiers.  What she found confirmed her suspicion that the soldiers were victims of a mind wipe.  Whether it was caused by the Sleeper or something else, she could not tell from this raw data. 

 

When they arrived at the holding facility, Synapse let Dr. North take the lead in getting them access.  The armed escort was slightly amusing to her, but she said nothing as they were lead to the room where the three soldiers were waiting.

 

Moving over toward where the three were sitting, Synapse spoke up, speaking in Russian.  <"Good afternoon gentlemen.  I am Synapse of Vanguard.  I am here to help determine what has happened to you.">

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GM

 

There was some suspicion, of course. They were - underneath the courage - frightened. Memories and minds blanked out, and now under investigation for terrible crimes. There treatment had been fair, all things considered, but still, this was a difficult and stressful situation even for the resilient. 

 

Speaking in Russian did apply a little oil on the wheels. And whilst Anglo-Russian relationships were strained, the English did not have quite so worrisome a stereotype in comparison to the States. Fifty years of cold war was not quickly disregarded. 

 

"<How?>" was the question, which was straight to the point. "<We don't remember anything>", said with heavy tongue - a refrain they had clearly been saying over and over again which was at best half-believed. 

 

 

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Replica

 

While they were transit back to the United States Replica did whatever she could to help Synapse confirm her suspicions about the Sleepers involvement in the case. She answered questions about the Russian soldiers behavior during her confrontation with them and described any strange ticks and gestures she saw amongst them.

 

When they finally touched down back in Freedom City they went immediately to the soldiers containment so Synapse could make her evaluation.

 

Seeing the soldiers again was a curious experience she had to admit. While the android held no particular grudge against, especially given they were brainwashed, she did still feel strangely cautious around them and was prepared to activate her combat mode in case they suddenly succumbed to their brainwashing again. The chances of that happening were low with Synapse monitoring them but Replica was prepared nevertheless. 

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Synapse

 

The doubt and resistance was something Synapse had expected, understanding that these well trained soldiers would be rather strong willed and not prone to trust easily.  But despite their training and conditioning, even they were susceptible to the abilities of one such as the Sleeper, or even Synapse's own power.  However, things would be much easier if they were to accept her help willingly.

 

<"Dah, I understand that you have no memory of how you came to be here or why you did what the Americans say you did.">  Synapse replied.  <"I have seen similar conditions before, resulting from the influence of a powerful Soviet-era psychic known as the Sleeper.">

 

<"I am a psychic as well, and I should be able to help detect any tampering with you memories and perhaps even restore some of what has been lost.  If I can demonstrate that you have been controlled and duped by the Sleeper, or some other psychic, then the Americans will have little reason to continue holding you.">

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GM

 

It was fair argument, and eloquently put. The soldiers were rather out of options, and whilst they were not full of trust, they agreed. For they to wanted to know exactly what had happened to their brains. Having them peeled off and blanked out was a disconcerting experience. 

 

"<Very well>" came the answer. 

 

With a bit of diplomatic wrangling, the three soldiers (under armed guard, of course) where taken to the infirmary, where the vitals (EEG, ECG, BP and so on) could be monitored whilst Synapse did her thing...

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Replica

 

Replica walked with the soldiers to the infirmary, watching their every step and still at the ready for anything sudden and unexpected to occur. Even she had to admit it was a paranoid move given they were already being flanked by an armed guard and two superheroes but Cold War agents being the one's responsible for all of this.

 

Once they got the infirmary Replica looked around and saw that it was decidedly stocked with all matter of impressive medical equipment. "Do you have everything you need for the operation, Synpase?"

 

She was honestly curious. Replica had to admit her grasp of the telepathic sciences were not as extensive as her knowledge of technology and saw this an opportunity to get an education on the subject.

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Synapse

 

<"Excellent.">  Synapse replied with a smile as the soldiers agreed to let her help them.  <"Hopefully we will soon have the answers each of us is looking for.">

 

Soon enough they were in the infirmary with the three soldiers, who were hooked up to machines to monitor them, not that those would help or hinder what Synapse had to do.  When Replica asked if she had everything she needed, the Englishwoman gave a small nod and a smile.  "Yes, have everything I need up here."  She replied, tapping the side of her temple with a couple of fingers.

 

Moving over to one of the three men, Synapse stood at the end of the bed where the man's head was located as he lay back waiting for her to begin.  <"Just relax and clear your mind.">  She said in Russian as she took a deep breath and placed both hands on either side of his head.  Closing her eyes, she reached into the man’s mind, easily gaining access to his thoughts as he cooperated in letting her psychic abilities enter his thoughts. 

 

It did not take Synapse long to detect the psychic signature of the Sleeper, who had indeed altered the man's thoughts.  Focusing on that part of the memories, Synapse was able to unlock repressed memories of the man and his comrades being diverted from normal special forces and to a secret facility in Moscow. 

 

"Yes, the Sleeper is behind this."  She said out loud as she continued to push through the repressed memories. "They are all Spetsnaz, but diverted from legitimate Russian units by the Sleeper's influence to a secret facility in Moscow."  She paused a moment as she pulled up the memory of the man's trip to the facility.  "I believe I have found enough memories to led us there."

 

Synapse was pushing her abilities already, but she continued to press into the parts of the memories altered by the Sleeper.  "There were a total of about two dozen Spetsnaz that were taken to the facility to be conditioned by the Sleeper.  Doctor Zero was there as well, ensuring the physical health of the men."  She paused once more, focusing on another memory from the time.  "I appears they have run out of any samples of Darwin-X, which would appear to explain why they sent these three to seal some."

 

Finally the effort was too much and Synapse broke contact, sinking down into a chair as she took a deep breath, feeling rather fatigued.  "I can get us to the facility in Moscow.  But whether they are there still or not I cannot tell."

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GM

 

North was impressed. "That is excellent work!" he concluded, offering Synapse a seat to sit down on, and a cup of tea (of which he was most fond). "I shall alert the relevant authorities and intelligence agencies...of course" he started, before considering the matter a little bit futher.

 

"But this is dangerous, and time is of the essence. Between the Sleeper, who can apparently inflictrate anywhere, and Mother Board, who appears able to hack the world with ease, it is unlikely that we can keep this information secret long. I can only imagine the FBI is comprimised" he started. 

 

"Our cyber-defence systems are the best in the world, I can assure you!" started one of the suits in the room. 

 

"Yes, and I doubt that will be good enough" replied North, a little more curtly than he had anticipated. "Mother Board, whoever she - or he - is, is on another level to what you have dealt with before..."

 

He turned back to Synapse and Cubismo. 

 

"Which means time is of the essence. And any delay means they may have time to clear out our one and only lead!"

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So it was the Sleeper and Doctor Zero that were behind all this then. The revelation didn't come as that much of a surprise to the android. In the end, it was theory that made the most amount of sense and tied all the strange events that had been occurring in freedom City and Russia together. 

 

Replica turned to the Dr. North. "Then we must move out immediately once Synapse has had enough time to recover." The telepath looked exhausted from her psychic ordeal and Replica only had to a simple medical scan of her person to tell that she'd need some time before she'd be ready to leave the FBI facility and confront Cold War villains. 

 

Then again Replica figured it would be polite ask her opinion on the manner. "Unless of course you feel that you can get all the rest you need on our transport to Moscow, Synpase." 

Edited by Cubismo

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Synapse

 

Synapse did not complain about taking the offered chair or tea after she had pulled up several hidden memories from the soldiers.  Letting out a tired sigh, she took a sip of the tea as she listened to Dr. North and the others.

 

"The Sleeper has worked years setting up agents all over the world.  I have managed to root out a few in the UK, but they are not easy to find."  She added to the conversation.  When Replica asked if she felt she could get enough rest on their trip to Moscow, the Englishwoman nodded.  "A short nap on the way should be good enough.  As Dr. North has stated, we have little time to waste.  The longer we wait, the more likely they will slip away."

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GM

 

And so...

 

Once more, North and Replica where on the WEST jet, flying across northern Europe towards Moscow. Somewhere, at this point, over Helsinki. The Jet was fast and sleek, and it would only be another hour or so until they reached Moscow. 

 

North was having - or at least trying to have - a little mid-air nap, but clearly the worries of the day were laying heavy on his shoulders and despite the comfort of the Jet it was a fitful sleep at best. 

 

Whatever sleep he or Synapse might, or might not be having was soon to come to a mid-air halt. 

 

The plane veered to one side and a loud explosion could be heard.

 

One wing was on fire!

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