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Bedlam Harbor. Tuesday, May 21st, 2019. 8:35 am.

 

You found all sorts of useful junk floating in Lake Michigan; wood, bottles, bits of plastic. Stafford T. Phillips, mostly known as 'Relic' to his few friends, had been plying his trade on these waters for decades, collecting these treasures in his little jet boat, the Eartha Kitt, then selling them for scrap, or to several local artists who worked in found materials. A few hours every day with his net and his crook was usually all he needed to maintain his simple lifestyle.

 

This morning, Relic was poking around the eddies that caught junk by the base of Pier 7, a favorite spot of his. He was leaning over to snag a particularly promising looking mass with his crook, when he realized it was a body; he only saw a quick flash of wetsuit and a floating cloud of hair, but that was enough to chill his blood and twist his stomach.

 

"Holy s###," he cried out. "Holy s###!" Somehow in all his years of scrap hunting, he'd never come across a body before, and now that he had, he had no idea what to do. In a panic, he raised his voice as loud as he could to see if someone nearby could help him.

 

"Hey! Hey! We've got a body down here! A human body!"

Edited by Heritage

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Lars was finishing up a night shift when he heard the shout. A large, burly  bearded man who went down to the docks and sold his services doing grunt work. Lars only showed up at the docks every once in a while, apparently doing work elsewhere. The truth was, of course that Lars didn't exist. 'Lars' had been killed in a bar brawl thirty years prior, and John was wearing his appearance. 

 

"Lemme help get it out." He said. Maybe he could sense how the corpse died and investigate the matter later. 

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Why was Caroline at the docks? Oh, it was a long story. Involving a missing longshoreman (dead), his mistress (also dead), and their mafia connection (surprisingly not dead). The details were so, so Bedlam that reflecting on them would be entirely too depressing. After wrapping the case (with the wife ever so shockingly refusing to pay the fees she’d agreed to in the first place meaning a little convincing was required), Caroline had felt the need for a stiff drink or seven. She’d hooked up with a bartender in the docks, and so she even had a place to sleep it off. Now she was awake, hungover, and as such in a pissy-ier mood than usual. She was going to walk/fly home, but then some jack*** felt the need to yell so early in the morning. “That’s not news, old man! Let the cops deal with it!” Swear to Jeebus. A body in the lake was a weekly occurrence, if not more. Caroline neither knew nor cared. Okay, that was a lie. If she didn't care at all, she'd drink less.

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A bit of a crowd had formed on the docks, as other day laborers peered down at the scene. The rusted remains of an old ladder allowed 'Lars' to climb down to where the Kitt bobbed up and down on the water. There he could get a better look at Relic's find; the eddy was filled with pop bottles, plastic bags and bits of styrofoam, all clumped around a human form, face down in the filthy water. Based on the size and shape it looked female, with short brown hair and in some sort of slick, black wetsuit, but as the two men struggled to fish it out, something about it looked disturbing.

 

The arms and legs were unnaturally long, and floated in the water at odd angles, as though all the bones had been shattered. In fact, upon closer inspection they moved more like thick snakes or tentacles, entirely fluid.

 

'What the hell is it?!" Relic dropped his end of the body and scampered back into his boat, clearly repulsed.

 

Lars pushed the damp hair out of the woman's face, and noted two things: she was very pretty, but more importantly, she showed none of the signs of bloating typical to a drowning victim. In fact, she was still breathing!

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"You didn't fish out a corpse, you found a living woman." John remarked, gently lifting her up. "I ought to get her to shore, let's make sure she's okay. I know a good clinic." He said, looking around. He didn't say what he was thinking. This woman had been in the water too long to have fallen in recently. She was not drowned because she was surviving underwater longer than any ordinary person could.

 

Edited by Thunder King

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…****. The woman was alive. That changed things. People didn’t end up face down in the lake on their own. Not in Bedlam. Caroline scanned the area. It bothered her, a young woman thrown away like trash. And it bothered her it that it bothered her. And her head was still being pounded with ball peen hammers. She didn’t want to get involved. This, like so many other things in this piece of **** town, was not her problem. So why was she hanging around? Hell, she could at least trail them to the clinic. What else did she have to do today?

Edited by EternalPhoenix

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"She's alive?" The old beachcomber took a tentative step closer, and leaned out of his boat to take a peek. Seeing that she was attractive, and very much not dead, suddenly Relic became possessive. "I found her! I saved her! You heard him say it!"

 

One of the other day laborers reached down and helped Lars lift the woman up on to the pier, and she was gently laid on her side, in case she coughed up any water, which she oddly did not. Soon her limbs began to shrink back to normal size, knees and elbows in their usual places. Whatever she was wearing, it was not a normal wetsuit, or else she would have either bare feet or flippers on. This suit seemed to include some sort of heelless boots, as well as long gloves.

 

Slowly the woman's eyes began to open, blearily as she looked up at the circle of burly men circled around her. She held up a gloved hand to shield her eyes from the glare.

 

"Hullo." Her accent sounded like upper class English, very 'Oxbridge'. She managed to sit up a little and look around, clearly disoriented. "Um...where the hell am I?"

Edited by Heritage

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"Bedlam City Wisconsin. United States." He added after hearing her accent. "We found you in the water. We should probably get you to a clinic, get you checked out." John suspected that this woman did not, in fact, need to be seen by anyone, nor would she want to. However, he tried his best to communicate that they should get out of there, quickly. He already had a plan for getting her unstuck from these people. It was the same plan he often had. Walk her out of the area, then take to the rooftops until they were well out of sight of anyone before sitting her down to talk. 

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The woman rose unsteadily to her feet, leaning on Lars for support; she was average height, her trim figure very apparent given the nature of her attire. "Wisconsin? I thought that was a myth. Like Brigadoon." Noting the large amounts of male attention, she became rather self-conscious. "A clinic, you say? That sounds prudent." She patted herself down. "I don't seem to have any money...or pockets. Wait, one pocket." She found the one zippered belly pocket, and reached in to pull out...a pair of handcuffs. She held them in the air before her for a few seconds, then turned to Lars with a bright smile.

 

"Right, a clinic, you say? Let's go there."

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John gently helped her to her feet and walked with her for a while. At least until they were out of sight, at which point he gently scooped her up, jumped on top of a nearby building and set her down. He was very concerned, and confused, about this new person. She was pretty, and nothing about her made any sense whatsoever. He hoped to get answers.

 

"Do you still want to go to a clinic, or do you wanna talk about what's going on? Who are you?"

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“Both valid questions.” Caroline was leaning against the door to the stairs, arms folded. She hadn’t expected the large jump, but she could fly…so whatever. She’d donned the mask and wig of JETTE before flying, of course, and they were still on. “Living bodies don’t come out of the lake every day. In fact, they’re almost always dead.” She eyed both of them up and down. “So, you’re both supers. Neat. The lady can breathe underwater and has extra bendy arms so I’m gonna take a wild guess and say some of her DNA isn’t human.” She looked directly at John. “You, on the other hand, are a bigger question mark. Heck of a jump there, slick.”

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The young woman squealed a little "Oop!" when Lars scooped her up and leaped to the rooftop, but otherwise seemed unpreturbed. Once up there, she regarded him and the newly-arrived Caroline carefully as she appeared to give their questions serious thought. She stroked her chin thoughtfully as she slowly shook her head.

 

"I've actually...no idea. It's all terribly disconcerting, really. Obviously, I possess knowledge; I speak English, I know how to feed myself.  But the personal details of my life remain elusive." Then a thought struck her. "Hang on a tic." She reopened the zippered pocket on her suit and pulled out several objects, which she stooped to lay out on the tarpaper in a wide arc. She studied them for several seconds.

 

A small pair of binoculars, black and rugged, possibly military grade. A pair of hinged handcuffs, police grade, with keys. A small leatherette case, containing several thin, crooked metal tools. A Leatherman-style multitool, with rat-nose pliers, wire strippers, knife and hacksaw blades. A metal business card case holding black-edged cards inscribed with 'The Eel' in an elegant font.

 

"Um...this is not promising."

Edited by Heritage

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"Hm, the Eel." Lars said. "Don't worry about me." He said to Caroline. "I'm like you, what they might call a 'hero'." He said the last part with a sort of resignation, as if the label technically applied to him, but he didn't feel worthy of it. "I'm amnesiac as well. I remember enough of my history, but there are certain parts that are lost to me. Though, unlike you, I have a good idea why."

 

"I know of a few places you could go, but I'd stay low for the time being. Bedlam is not the best place to be on the best of days. I wouldn't suggest trying to make friends. Do yourself a favor and don't tell anyone else about your amnesia. There are people around here that are always looking for a mark."

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"'The Eel'," the black-clad woman muttered as she turned one of the cards over in her slender fingers; she'd pulled off her gloves and reflexively tucked them into an elastic loop at her waist. Then she stood up and sighed, still holding the card. "I think...I'm some sort of 'sexy cat burglar'. It certainly fits the facts: lockpicks, calling cards, a catsuit that looks like it was sprayed on." She looked between the two 'heroes'. "One of you lot should probably arrest me, if you can. Not that we know if I've commited any crimes."

 

Eel dropped down to her knees and covered her face. "It's just...the whole thing's so bloody ridiculous, isn't it? I'm a living cartoon!" After a few moments, she swept all her possessions up, then tucked them back in her zippered pocket as she rose to her feet,. "Right, then! No more mucking about; after all, one must eat. I can't have you both calling me 'Eel', so...'Eileen'? 'Ellie' for short, for friends. Eileen..." She gestured towards the harbor. "'Lake'. A bit on the nose, I should think, but it'll do for now. Can I get your names, please? And you mentioned some place I could stay," she said as she turned to John.

Edited by Heritage

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Caroline hesitated, then realized nobody knew her history in this town anyway. Well, one. “You can call me Jette.” She hadn’t moved from her spot leaning against the wall. Her expression was still suspicious. “Though 1) Bedlam doesn’t have ‘sexy cat burglars’ and 2) it doesn’t have heroes either. At least not the way other cities see them. So forgive me if I don’t believe you.” Honestly, she was getting a “secret agent” vibe. But that didn’t explain being dumped in a lake. Something tickled at the edge of her awareness. A memory of…something. “Oh, thing number three. Don’t get arrested in this town. Cops aren’t nice people, most of them.”

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"There are plenty of motels that take money and don't ask questions. I know one in particular that won't even ask about you. I've used it as a safehouse before. Bedlam is, well, it's rough. She's right about the cops, though. I used to be one. I'm not anymore, and there's a good reason for that." He did not, however, admit that he had been shot in the head. That wasn't something he imagined she'd want to hear.

 

He had no reason to trust her, but had no reason to distrust her, either. This particular safehouse wasn't even the one he normally stayed at.

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"Any sort of lodging would be lovely right about now," said the Eel. "However it does seem like I'm rather short on funds; could either of you loan me a few bob until I get back on my feet? I realize it's a lot to ask of someone you just met, but I'm not sure what else to do right now."

 

And it was true; unless she started stealing to acquire money (something the Eel was fairly sure she'd be good at), she would need a leg up, at least for a week or two. She needed a more permanent source of income, but that would have to wait for the moment; she needed to take care of her basic needs first.

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John had some spare cash he could give her. A lot, actually, because he was a man of few means and few hobbies. So he subtly passed her some cash. "Just keep that secret, okay? Anyone that sees you will try to steal it, forcefully."

 

He looked around. "Be careful in Bedlam. Trust is in short supply here." 

 

He didn't know her, but he knew she needed help. That was all he needed to know. 

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Eel took the tightly rolled wad with just the slightest of nods, and made it disappear; based upon the size and weight, she had a rough idea of how much it was, and it was very generous. 'Thank you," she muttered softly before clearing her throat. "Right then! Thank you both your help. I certainly don't want to be any bother, so if either you have any plans for the day, please, don't let me keep you." Then she turned back to John. "By chance might you still have that address?"

 

She was doing her best to hide it, but underneath that cool, unruffled exterior, the young woman known only as Eel was terribly frightened. But a voice in her head told her she'd been through worse and survived, even if she couldn't remember it, and she felt that maybe if she acted the part long enough, she'd wake up one morning and be a right badass.

Edited by Heritage

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