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GM

 

It was a good line, and a better entrance. 

 

The Warehouse had about a dozen guards in it, and half of them were armed with what looked like energy weapons. The stolen Daka-infused carbines that the Scarab had located in Egypt. 

 

They spun around as Comrade Frost landed, but did not fire. Not yet. 

 

The warehouse had the same crates, and Frost coud see some new steel reinforced and locked boxes, with Arabic ink labels. Presumably the valuable weapons. The Hornet would have enough to make, if not a small army, then a large weaponised group of street thugs. 

 

In the centre of the Warehouse, there was a little clearing with tables and computers, each linked to the security system cameras outside. And in the centre, the Hornet himself. In his green armour, with his yellow eyes, with that tall and gangly but certainly powerful frame. 

 

"So! Comrade Frost! We meet again!"

 

He had no moustache to twirl, but he had a good melodramatic voice. 

 

"Thank you so much for disposing of Dr Sin for me. I would have preferred his corpse, but I am sure Blackstone will do fine...for now!"

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Tsunami

 

Tsunami noted that Comrade Frost did not appear interested in taking a patient approach to investigating the scene.  While the Asian young woman could understand the feeling of urgency associated with locating the weapons, she still felt a bit of caution might have been appropriate.

 

But, now was not the time to debate that, so while Comrade Frost moved in to make a dramatic entrance, Tsunami moved into the shadows and made her way towards the fence.  Soon she was past the first obstacle, and making her way over towards the warehouse, doing her best to avoid any lite areas. 

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"Oh, have we met?" inquired Frost sociably. "Your pardon, sir, I meet many people in my line of work." He waved to the Hornet, looking over his men with an interested eye. "I am actually here on matter of important business." He walked over to the containers, the temperature in the room dropping as he went, and placed his hand on one of the Arabic-labeled crates. As he did so, a thin patina of ice began to spread over its surface. "What is it English poet said? 'Mankind should have been my business'? Very well then. What do you do here?" 

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The Scarab III

Kamala has no skill in sneaking around, but she did have a solution. Generating a stable gravitic field it wouldn’t take much more effort to alter it to wrap light around her, making her invisible to the naked eye.

 

Hopefully now able to pass unseen she made her way to the roof, slower than normal so not to tax her systems, to the roof where she had noticed earlier they’d had a security system set up. Using her suit she set about disabling the entire system, hopefully allowing Tsunami to get inside unnoticed.

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GM

 

The Scarab blurred out of view, and on the roof she could easily disable the security camera's and alarms. 

 

Tsunami was not seen - or at least appeared not to be seen. With the security systems off line, she could enter without difficulty. She kept to the shadows, under cover of the crates, and was afforded an excellent view of the proceedings. 

 

"We have indeed met, Mister Frost" said the Hornet, circling slowly, his jade crystal armour glinting somewhat. "In different times, when Dr Sin was master. Now, it is I who am master. I actually think I may have you to think for that, thanks to my little tip off" he smiled. 

 

"I appreciate your kindness in dropping in" he said, dripping acid in his voice. "But my business is now my business. Not yours. I suppose your giant is not far behind, and that tall woman. I doubt even you would be so bold as to interfere with my business alone" he concluded. 

 

But he could not see either Tsunami or the Scarab. 

 

"This is Hong Kong, not Russia. Nor Freedom City, come to that. And here, I am the King. Perhaps then, I should be asking what your business is, rather than you asking mine?"

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Tsunami

 

Tsunami waited up on a stack of crates in a shadowy corner of the warehouse where she could keep at least a partial eye on what was taking place around Comrade Frost.  She had already surrounded herself with her watery forcefield, but otherwise was working to stay hidden.

 

So far, Frost had the Hornet talking, so there was no need to revel herself just yet.  Perhaps the villain would revel more of what he had planned, if so, the last thing she wanted to do was interfere when there was no need.  But she was prepared to quickly move into action if the need arised.

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The Scarab III

Out of sight of the Hornet or his goons, Kamala lent over to try and wave at Tsunami to indicate that the alarms were off. She wasn’t sure if she’d gotten her attention, next time she’d make sure to bring extra comms to make this kind of stuff easier.

 

Still, she had to assume that they knew so turned her attention to the warehouse if they could disable the weapons now then they could save themselves a whole lot of trouble. So as gently as she could she began to lift the skylight to peek inside and see what security they had on hand.

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"There are no giants nor traitorous lovers of women here today," said Frost coldly. "Often Frost has companions but in the end, there is only ever Frost." He leaned back against the crate he had marked as his own and yawned exaggeratedly, "I do seem to recall that bit of business of yours, now that there is mention. Wonder how long Sin will be behind bars this time? And what revenge he will take on those outside?" he inquired as he studied not the Hornet but his men. "You know, I remember in days of Great Patriotic War, when some of his men abandoned cause for Japanese, he actually had them bound to the earth and did the bamboo trick with them?" He clapped his hands together. "The right strain, and oh it grows through a man's belly! An unpleasant death and perhaps a bit cliched, but Sin has about him a certainty. Your leader is not first to think himself above such a death." 

He looked back at Hornet, and suddenly felt a great wave of distaste for petty men who thought themselves gods shoot through him. "You see it is a difficult question. You know I am here to cause trouble, but you know that if you fear to banter with me, your men will know you are weak, and that will be as if I had snapped you as frozen twig. So what's it to be?" 

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GM

 

The threat of Sin penetrated deep and the Hornet lost his cool. Fear ran deep and became anger. 

 

"Sin? He is Blackstone!" he said, loudly, his voice almost a shout, almost a scream. "He played his game and he lost!"

 

But still, the fear was there, the doubt. He bunches his emerald clad hands into fists. By will, he forced himself to regain a little bit of control. 

 

"You are a sly one, Frost, I will give you that. I will not underestimate your strength of body or character. But you pretend to have more cards than you hold, I think..." he mused. "Be that as it may, I have more than enough firepower to fight of an army, if need be. My grip on Hong Kong is tight, and now will be tighter still..."

 

It was, on one hand, a cunning strategy he had played, to import these weapons and play Sin out of the picture. But on the other hand, Frost had hit bullseye. Sin might be in Blackstone, but the Hornet was still terrified of the mastermind. 

 

"So, I wonder if you will try to stop me?" he asked, trying to ascertain Frost's motive. "This is not your city, Frost. Go back to Moscow. Even if you could depose me, the web of Sin will only pick another more violent warlord..."

 

Unseen (As far as she could tell), Tsunami got the picture - there were a dozen of Sin's Henchmen ready to play civil war if the Hornet was deposed...

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"What do I want?" Frost considered that question. He thought of women lost, and one fiery woman in particular; he thought of a hot wind on his face, and standing beneath a summer sun and truly feeling its heat on his skin. "I am very old," he said with a shrug, "and you know how very old men can be. Careless, forgetful, heedless of all save themselves. Tell me of the game that lies beneath your game, and I will play it with you.

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GM

 

At this, the Hornet smiled. He liked games. 

 

"Careless, forgetfull, heedless of all save themselves. Sounds like my old master" he said, a cunning sneer on his nostrils. "Welcome to Hong Kong then, Frost..."

 

He went to one of the desks and pulled out some strong whiskey and a board. 

 

"Go. Do you play?" he asked. He set up the board anyway. "It is a game within a game. One can appear weak when one is strong, and strong when one is weak. It is a game of patterns, that flow and evolve"

 

He poured the whiskey for Frost and one for himself. 

 

"Cheers!" he said and took a sip. 

 

"Now then, Ill tell you what my game is. Someone has to be head of the criminal underworld in Hong Kong, and that someone is me" he said, proudly. "That is the motivation. The game is more rich than that, of course. With Dr Sin and his cruelty, his old fashioned ways, stuck as mastermind, there was no room for anyone else. Things become stagnant, ridig, and obsolute under his iron rule. As for me, I like a bit of flexibility, innovation, creativity. I am the new, he is the old. And you, my dear Frost, were very helpful in outing the old. Perhaps you would help welcome in the new?"

 

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Suddenly Frost was as he had been decades earlier, considering the possibilities at the death of Stalin. He hadn't seized his chance then, and the Soviet Union, and then Russia, was what it was and had ever been. "There would be difficulties," he offered. "Hong Kong is Chinese city now, not British; harder to control. Sin's allies would move against you too. They know where money is worth." 

He sat down before the board, and realized just how long it had been since he had played this particular game. But he could fake it, anyway. He swirled the whiskey in the glass, immediately beginning to drain the heat out of it as he held it in his grip. "Unless you could do some demonstration that showed them the city is yours, hmm?" He drank, knowing that the liquid would soon be on its way to Nifleheim. "Some proof that there is new master."

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GM

 

The Hornet picked up one black piece in a green gloved armoured hand, examining the fine shine. 

 

He slowly, deliberately, placed it on the board. It clinked. 

 

"I would have my reputation" he said, proudly, trying to scrutinise Comrade Frost. This was a hard thing to do. 

 

He offered Frost the bowl of white pieces. "An appropriately frosty colour" he commented. 

 

"My reputation is accurate. Brutal, effective, reasonable. I do not hesitate from using force, but I do not, like so many brute thugs, have it as my only arrow. I will make sure that all know I am capable of force. But I will be rational. Like with you..." he said. 

 

"You are formidable, I know that. You do not know how formidable I am, although you are intelligent enough to suspect, and, I imagine, you did not simply walk into my warehouse full of armed guards without some card up your sleeve, although I can only guess what it is. So, we only see half of each other's decks. Perhaps we should be playing poker instead"

 

He stroked his chin. 

 

"I fully intend to grip Hong Kong with an iron hand. All will fall, who oppose me. But I would rather do this quickly and effectively. A show of force, a touch of diplomacy. As Roosevelt said, speak softly and carry a big stick. Except I will speak loudly, and carry Daka-powered energy weapons...."

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"Many men have reputations," Frost scoffed gently. "But none here have a reputation beyond our mutual friend." He placed his pieces carefully, aware that he probably lacked the Hornet's experience with this particular game but intimately aware that there were other games they could play. "If you want to make a challenge against _him_, then you must play for bigger game than this." He made a little gesture around the warehouse, then settled back to watch his counterpart. All too human underneath all his protection. "As for me, no, you obviously should not trust me at all," he said frankly. "So many people do and it is terribly distracting. You know, in Freedom City, I am actually trusted with education of some young people." He considered the past, considered the present, and released them from his grasp like a child freeing their balloons to the wind. "I have killed more people than you," he said. "And done worse things to those who lived. And yet there I am their friend. Do you never wonder why that is? Why yesterday's devil is today's saint?"

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Mr Murk

 

Frost...Tsunami....

 

Mr Murk knew words of primordial power, and knew how to use them. In London, in the Club Immortus, his tentacles of information gathering spread around the world, through shadow and night and...well, yes...murk, he came to know much. 

 

Right now, he sat in his favourite leather armchair, his eyes blind as always, he muttered to himself. And through his power, the words were heard by Tsunami and Frost. 

 

I have just heard some...potentially disturbing news. Dr Sin has fallen into a coma in Blackstone. Breathing, but in the infimrary. No signs of any brain activity. 

 

...I don't know if this means anything, but given the situation in Hong Kong, I thought best to let you know. Dr Sin must not be underestimated, even imprisoned. I cannot fathom what his game is....

 

Yes. Despite Murk's confidence in Frost and Tsunami, he was disturbed. Dr Sin was like that. Wheels within wheels within wheels. Could they have missed something?

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GM

 

The Hornet was, of course, completely unaware of such communication. He continued playing the game, and was good at it. 

 

"No. I don't wonder that" said the Hornet, bluntly. And - a trace of anger? He might be winning at Go, he might be a genius, but he was no philosopher or debater. He was a cold calculator, without appreciation for art or finesse - unless it suited his blunt goals. And, for all his intelligence and cunning, he had not Dr Sin's, not Frosts, adept at controlling his own emotions. They bled out. 

 

"Well, Frost, if you have such steel and fury, why not come work for me?" he asked. 

 

He stood up, getting impatient despite himself. He was winning the board game...why am I not winning with Frost???

 

He clenched his fist. "Are you trying to fool me, Frost? You will find I am a hard man to fool! I have no time for philosophers or fools, they are one and the same. I don't know, and don't care, how you grew a heart. It is a pointless organ, prone to make great men small!!!"

 

He tried to force himself to calm again, and half-succeeded. 

 

"What trick have you up your sleeve that gives you such blase confidence? My men and I could crush you easily, something you surely know?" he asked, pointing a green armoured finger an inch away from Frost's face. 

 

"Perhaps I should. End this charade...." he mused. 

 

The men around him started pointing there weapons at Frost, awaiting the Hornet's signal....

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"What would you pay me with?" Frost asked, his voice curious as he made a great show of studying the board. "I do not eat, I do not sleep, and I have no need for the luxuries of other men." He moved a piece. "I have occasionally indulged in flesh, but I do not think you have women fiery enough for my tastes." He turned his attention to the Hornet and said, "Oh, my dear fellow, you misunderstand me." He removed his jacket, then began unbuttoning the heavy fabric of his uniform top. It was an odd enough gesture that no one was actually shooting at him; until Frost sat stripped to the waist, the scars of the cardiectomy he'd endured at the hands of the Thule Society as clear and rugged as they had ever been, a ragged-edged crater in the center of his chest that smoked with faint, persistent cold. "Frost has no heart. He never did." He smiled, his eyes a glittering red. "But they forget that, you know. The little children playing at Freedom League, because it pleases them to redeem a devil. But you and I both know the secret, do we not?" He rose from his position at the table, but kept the board between himself and the Hornet. "When one has leaped beyond the veil, one finds there is nothing beyond it." 

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GM

 

Frost's comebacks were irritating the Hornet more and more. He flexed his fists in his jade armour. This was the thing; superficially, the Hornet was as cool and cunning as Dr Sin, and certainly as cruel. He had a cold intellect that rivalled most men. But he lacked patience. Anyone challenging his authority, or intelligence, got under his skin and got under badly. 

 

He did not like Frost challenging him. He did not like Frost keeping his cool when he did not. 

 

"Enough GAMES!" he screamed, throwing the Go board to one side, the pieces scattering and clinkering on the floor. 

 

"I do not know what you are up to, you abomination!" he shouted at Frost. "But you are playing me!"

 

It was beyond his endurance that he could not discern what it was. And more, it was absolutely intolerable that Frost had made him lose his compure (rather than the other way around).  

 

"TELL ME WHAT YOU ARE DOING HERE, OR I WILL BLAST YOU INTO THAT NOTHING!"

 

He raised a hand, and the men around them raised their Daka-weapons ready to fire - at the Hornet's command. 

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