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Portia Labiata

Monsters in the Night [IC]

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Freedom City, Southside, 10:22 p.m.

 

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour...

 ~ Peter 5:8

____________________

 

Agnes was in for another cold night. Freedom City wasn't in the deep of winter yet, but it was getting there, and this icy, frigid drizzle from a dark and cloudy sky certainly didn't help. A sharp squall tugs at her red hoodie and burrows inside, stinging her skin as the wind whistles past the support columns of the overpass under which she had currently made residence. A few discarded beer bottles clink as they shudder against each other, as if also cold, and empty plastic bags and trash flutter past like modern tumbleweed. Above her, the sounds of rushing automobiles on the highway play an unappealing but strangely relaxing lullaby.

 

Still, it wasn't all bad. Agnes had managed to scrounge up a half-decent meal and an unopened bottle of water. With no one around to bother her, Agnes is about to dig in. Then a loud KA-THUNK! KA-THUNK! sounds as a truck rolls over a pothole above, and Agnes is sent into a terrible place within her own head, past memories flooding back. They are so visceral, so real, that Agnes forgets where she is, that she is even Agnes. In the middle of it all, she hears the voice of a girl, not within her mind, but with her own ears, almost washed out by the noise of the cars. The girl screams once for help before the echoes fade away and Anges drifts into nightmares...

 

 

Agnes wakes up as suddenly as she had passed out. She feels like only a few minutes had passed, but at the same time she is worn out as if she had been out cold for hours. This hadn't been a normal flashback. It felt as if something had pulled her into it, forcibly and violently. She could feel someone or something tugging at the deep recesses of her mind. That force is gone now, but it had still been chilling, and there is no telling who or what had caused it or if it would be back.

 

One thing is certain, however... Agnes had heard a cry for help, from the overpass above. It hadn't been a nightmare, she had heard it with her own ears...

 

____________________

 

Delta's eyes were going haywire again.

 

It wasn't the first time. Every now and again the machines within his body did something involuntary, sometimes without his knowledge that they could even do that. However, his eyes hacking into camera feeds are... well, not common, but it certainly isn't all that surprising. Sometimes, Delta just had to wait it out, and let the system restore itself.

 

His eyes flicker from feed to feed, First a security camera from a bakery, patrolling an empty, locked up store front. Next, a cell phone being used to film a boy's twelfth birthday, just as the kid moves to blow out the candles... Third, the dashboard camera of a police cruiser, staring out of a cracked windshield as two men hustle another person with a bag over their head into the back of an electrical repair truck...

 

What? Delta's eyes flick to a new feed, and he wrestles with his internal systems, trying to get back to the last camera. He eventually manages it, but only just as the electrical van is driving away. Delta can't catch the licence plate... but now that the vehicle has moved he can see a street sign in the distance. Abercorne Lane... a small street off the beaten path in Southside, about ten to fifteen blocks from the boardwalk. It is hard to get one's baring from one angle of a camera they've never seen before... but Delta thinks they are heading north, toward the highway.

 

 

Maybe he can make it if he rushes.

 

____________________

 

The hero business takes on a different flavor when you are a genius. Terrifica has no need to monitor police scanners or internet rumor sites or even the daily news. Parsing through incredible amounts of data... that's what computers are for. Besides, Terrifica isn't some common thug who gets her kicks by going out at night and beating up common thieves who could barely tie their own shoes. In most cases, a simple tip to the nearest police precinct is enough to get those kinds of hooligans caught.

 

As such, much of Terrifica's job as a hero can be automated, leaving her plenty of time to be Samantha Carson. But not tonight. Tonight, there is... an anomaly.

 

Obviously, sometimes Terrifica needs to be alerted about specific circumstances. Her phone buzzes, and she is greeted by camera footage that her computer had been monitoring. It is the vision of the dashboard camera of a police cruiser, its window cracked, and no officer in sight. Meanwhile, a pair of masked men hustle a small figure out with a bag over her head, throwing her into the back of an electrical van.

 

On its own, this may not warrant further investigation from Terrifica... but that isn't all.

 

The reason the computer had tipped her off is that someone had hacked her. Her. Terrifica's firewalls are legendary, and yet... apparently not bullet-proof. 

 

But the hacker hadn't been flawless in his intrusion. He had left a trace. And now...

 

Now Terrifica could follow his every movement.

 

____________________

 

Lulu sits in her empty dorm room in Claremont. It is Thanksgiving break, and a large swathe of students have left campus to visit friends and family... not Lulu, though. Instead, she stays in her room, keeping to her own devices. No distraction keeps her from missing Bobby, however.

 

The entire day, she had had a wriggling feeling in the back of her mind, some creeping anxiousness. It felt almost like her powers warning her of some unseen threat, but too weak. Too subtle. Perhaps it was simply plain old, run of the mill nerves?

 

Such a thought is dashed as a powerful vision - accompanied by a wave of nausea - washes over Louise. In her mind she sees a dark-skinned girl with curly hair and a red hoodie hunched over with her hands clutching at the sides of her head as a cry for help sounds out. For a moment, the vision lingers, before thrusting Lulu forward into the tortured nightmares of the girl. Most of it is incomprehensible flashes, but it is far from pleasant.

 

Suddenly, it all stops. Lulu is inside a darkened, derelict building. From the IVs and discarded wheelchairs, it appears to be an abandoned hospital. All of the lights are off, and curiously, there are no windows, the only light given off by occasionally flickering exit signs. Louise can only see a few feet in front of her - as her eyes are somehow already adjusted the darkness - before near-pitch black shadow envelopes the distance. 

 

As she stand at the junction of two crisscrossing corridors, Lulu senses something terrible about this place, beyond its creepy atmosphere. Stains mark the cinder block walls, but without color, Lulu cannot confirm what kind... she can make a decent guess, though. Any attempt to peer into the dark void is disorienting, as if the hallways and corridors are twisting and swaying gently, threatening her with unseen horrors to force her to look away.

 

The vision ends abruptly, just as it had started. Lulu is left watching over the girl she had seen earlier, who appears to have passed out. She is now in control of her own ESP, and can more accurately study her surroundings, that being a highway overpass. Bright neon lights in the distance mark casinos and gaudy nightlife, the signature sign of Freedom City's Southside district. She isn't that far away, not by bus or car. She isn't too to try telepathy on the girl, either... although there is no telling when she will wake up.

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Ms Bright
Sleeping rough wasn’t that bad, it helped she didn’t feel the cold or hunger of other (though she still eat when she could, best to not to find your limits out here), the worse were the dreams of her past gently floating out of reach full of sound and fury. A dream so straightforward was almost as a relief, except for the subject matter obviously.

 

Waking with a start she was quick to hear the noises of a struggle, and without even thinking about the danger she was up and ready for action. With light crackling around her, she took to the air, travelling at high speed towards where she’d heard the scream.

 

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Terrifica was annoyed. This in and of itself was not strange. Many things annoyed her, being a super genius in a world made by and for those of average intelligence. It was true, not a lot merited her personal attention. She had a loose network of Crimebusters to pass tips to now. The police were quite effective at what they did. And of course Miracle Girl was available for more serious cases. With that stated, this hacker had both talent and chutzpah. Almost nobody ever noticed her monitoring systems, let alone bothered to hack them. Alas, this hacker had the curse the vast majority of the overly talented seemed to possess. Ego. They just couldn’t help themselves. They needed to sign their work. And now, the supergenius superheroine Terrifica would stop by for a long intimate discussion of how wrong they were. She smiled. This merited her personal attention, oh yes indeed. To the Terrifi-cycle!

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Delta was annoyed with the newest in his eyes spectacular mechanical failures but just as he was getting annoyed there seemed to be a purpose to the 'gremlin' that was something unusual! Frowning he analyzed the data rapidly and moved before he could even think about it, with a map of the city transposed on the heads up display in front of his eyes he moved. A flash of light surrounded him for just a moment as he teleported to the first intersection, he could run pretty quick but the battle teleporter was even faster at 700 feet per jump....sadly it wasn't designed for it and tended to get a little warm but tonight he was going to be using it to cook on if it meant he got to the highway in time.

 

Flash, flash, flash the terminus born super hero wanna be flickered through the streets of the Southside, from roof top to roof top and then from corner to corner as he closed on the highway as fast as his bag of tricks could manage.

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Lulu knew she had to do something to help the poor girl; it hurt her heart to see any child suffer. But what to do? She wasn't sure how helpful the police were in Freedom; back home in Columbia, they were more or less useless, especially if the victim was poor or wasn't white.

 

After a bit of hand-wringing, the young psychic decided to take action; she made herself undetectable to human senses, zipped into a gray track suit, and then stuffed her protective suit into a gym bag, which she slung onto her back. She slipped out the door of her room and sprinted as fast as she could to the nearest exit.

 

Once on the school grounds, things were a bit easier; none of the security guards on duty saw a thing as she made her way to the side gate, tossed her bag over, and then awkwardly scrambled over the top.

 

The last phase of her plan made her a bit uncomfortable, as it involved a bit of her least favorite power, mind control, but she couldn't think of another way to quickly get to her destination that didn't require a credit card. She waved down a car driven by a young woman, probably in her mid to late twenties, and convinced her to give her a lift. Once there, she regretfully released her control, leaving the young woman confused and alarmed as to how she driven so far out of her way.

 

Here's hopin' all this sneakin' around is worth it.

Edited by Heritage

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By the time Delta had reached the top of a billboard advertisement overlooking the highway, his chest was almost painfully hot. Not from exertion on his body, but on the teleporter housed within him. He was overheating... but he had made it. Time to cool off.

 

Delta looks around, trying to find the electrical van. He had aimed to head them off, but spotting one white van amidst a sea of traffic is easier said than done. He doesn't pull off the feat, but he does see something perhaps even more interesting: A glowing woman flies into the air from below the highway overpass and holds aloft, looking for something.

 

 

Ms. Bright is sure that she heard the scream from the overpass, but whoever had been crying for help is either no longer present or no longer screaming. Due to Bright's presence, many of the cars and trucks slow down, and passengers and drivers alike lean out their windows to gawk or even take videos of her with their cell phones. Traffic slows, and cars in the back of the lines honk their horns, angrily yelling at those in front to hurry up. The attention is far from chaotic, just a side-effect of glowing with bright light when one uses their powers. Still, the slow in traffic gives Ms. Bright the chance to spot something she likely wouldn't otherwise: A dented licence plate that had been knocked off of a car, and kicked to the side of the highway by the wheels of following cars and trucks.

 

 

Terrifica's Terrifi-Cycle is fast, and - when she's in a hurry - maneuverable enough to make traffic a non-issue. 

 

The GPS on her cell-phone directs her towards the source of the signal that had hacked her. It seems to be a persistent signal, and whatever its source is, it's on the move. And boy... is it fast. The Signal keeps dropping away and reappearing several hundred feet away. The GPS can barely keep up with it.

 

Still, after a long chase of slowly watching the signal get further and further away from her, Terrifica finally sees the signal stop in its tracks. She uses this chance to gain ground. Closer... closer... closer...

 

Until she is right on top of it. But no one is around. In the middle of a side-street that diverged from the highway, meant for service vehicles, Terrifica is all alone. Meaning whatever the source of the signal is, it is either above her, or below her...

 

Before Terrifica can check, her eyes are drawn to a bright light rising above the highway, flying through the sky. Is that... a person?

 

 

Lulu's escape from Claremont surprisingly goes off without a hitch. The hallways and the grounds are all but abandoned, and none of the faculty are patrolling. And although the use of mind-control feels distasteful, it is over shortly. Lulu leaves the woman's van and stalks off into the night before the driver can shake off the confusion.

 

The psychic finds herself trekking through parking lots and large swathes of uncut weeds and grass on unused and un-owned property as she stumbles through the night toward the highway overpass she had seen. It isn't clear until she arrives whether the vision had been of the present, the past, or the future.

 

As she breaks through a small copse of trees, Louise stands at the top of a hill across a small lot and a service road from the overpass. It appears that her vision was of the future, because down below the overpass Lulu can see the figure of what she assumes is the girl. The figure shakes their head just before cloaking themselves in a bright light and rising into the air above the overpass. Not only that, but Lulu can also see another figure standing next to a motorcycle down on the service street, looking up at the gowing figure.

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Ms Bright

There was something annoying about being so visible now when most of the time she was apparently so invisible to most people. But a part of her enjoyed the attention, the lights below bough a vague memory of the cheers of crowds all calling someone's name, was it her name?

Coming to her senses she spotted the license plate lying in the road, looking to her as a clue to who she’d been looking forward a potential clue to who she came up her to help.

 

It was simple enough to get she teleported down to the spot and grabbed the plate before teleporting back to the side of the freeway. Though she really wanted to do something sometimes you just had to wait, and she knew that soon another hero would turn up one that had access to resources that she just couldn’t access.

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Delta's eyes whirred as they focused on the glowing woman and then he shook his head and muttered,"Ms. Bright...." This was too much coincidence he had worked with one hero before all of this and it happened to be the one flying overhead? He watched her teleport around a little before teleporting one last time, rubbing his chest as he did so, the teleporter on his belt was drawing power from him because of how often he had used it but he had to get through a little more before he was done and the person with the bag over their head needed his help....a little warmth wasn't going to slow him down.

 

A crackle of light and he appeared next to Ms Bright,"Hello, again, what brings us together this time?" As he spoke he reached down to his belt, without more direction he was going to release his scouting drones to look for the van, he didn't have time to wait someone's life was in danger.

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The traffic has slowed down, so Ms. Bright's teleport isn't even tricky. In a flash, she reaches the highway, picks up the plate, and in another is back where she started... although now very close to the cyborg Delta. He had appeared out of nowhere, teleporting just like she had. He introduces his arrival, but at the same time releases a cluster of tiny drones into the air, which take flight and zip away.

 

The license plate is a Freedom City plate, judging from the style and color, but yet somehow a little strange. 07042-C... the hyphen and the ending letter are uncommon. Either way, a license plate is a license plate, and therefore traceable.

 

Meanwhile, Delta cycles through the cameras of a hundred tiny drones, but he's arrived late. It's hard to tell which exit the van has taken, what streets it might have turned on, or even how long ago it passed here, precisely. What's more, each and every electrical truck distracts him... none of the ones he inspects is missing a license plate.

 

The van has escaped, and with it, the kidnappers and their hostage.

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Terrifica did not know Ms. Bright. Also, this was Freedom City. So she when she looked up at the brightly glowing flying woman, her reaction kind of didn’t exist. She parked the Terri-Cycle and pulled her grapnel out of her utility belt. At the very least, she could ask the woman what she’d seen tonight. To her mild surprise, there are two people up there on the overpass. She approached with stealth, of course. And the help of a lovely little gadget that redirected photons so they didn’t strike and render her visible anywhere from ultraviolent to infrared. Hmm. Obvious cyborg was obvious. Glowing light woman, less so. Still, she’d have a word. They knew something, even if they were unaware of knowing it. Without turning her nifty gadget off, she spoke to the two. “Lovely evening for hanging out on overpasses, wouldn’t you agree? Unfortunately, there are apparently some gentlemen who didn’t think so. A young woman has been kidnapped, and oddly enough I wasn’t the only one watching. Despite it being my feed that only I should have had access to. Would either of you happen to know anything about either one of those things?”

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Lulu held her position for a minute, trying to figure out the situation; now there were three figures all together, and things seemed to be getting weirder. Deciding she needed a closer look, Lulu's eyes went a bit out of focus as she projected her senses over towards the threesome. After a few seconds, she quickly got the sense they might be heroes; maybe she was drawn this way to help them out? The telepath shrugged as she reached out to the girl as tentatively as she could.

 

-Hello, can you hear me? My name's Crystal-Gazer, and my powers led me to you. I sense that someone's in trouble, and I'd like to help.-

Edited by Heritage

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Ms Bright

It felt right to be someone that others gathered around like she’d been a beacon for other before. At least now she was a little more comfortable being an actual hero, especially when an innocent was involve.

 

“This is the plate from the van that abducted a girl, I guess someone can run it down and find out where they went.” her London accent was thick and obvious as she spoke, even if she wasn’t sure why she spoke like that she wasn’t going to stop for these bloody yanks!

 

She tossed the plate lazily to Delta, the one person she knew here.

 

Thats all fine a dandy love, I'm Ms Bright, don’t be shy why don’t you join my superfriends here? Even mentally her accent was still strong!

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Delta's hands moved without thought, snagging the plate out of the air he looked at it, the computer in his brain locking it in place and starting all sorts of searches in the databanks he had for a brain.

 

Constantly downloading, uploading and updating as he moved around, slept and ate.

 

It was always working to contain more information so he was sure he could access at least partial records of the DMV if not the entirety and from there find the owner.

 

Perhaps his scout drones might be needed as well?

 

"Any idea how long they left here?"

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