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Hanover, Freedom City

June 22, 1:26 AM

It was the dead of night, which only increased Serena’s dread as she approached the abandoned building just off the corner of Raleigh. Despite being far from Kingston, the damage was apparent in the stones. They’d paved over most of it, repaired as much as they could, but you couldn’t hide wounds as deep as these.


She looked up at the building, watching it rise many stories in the air, the boarded up windows kindling old memories in her. But it wasn’t what was above that she cared about. It was what was below. She walked up to the glass doors, now covered in graffiti, and placed her palm on the surface.


I shouldn’t be here, she thought to herself. Could just turn back now.


But she couldn’t, not really. Something told her that she had to be here, had to make sure everything was still the way she left it in 1995, when the police raids came down and broke up Dr. Wu’s little experiments. Why now was she so concerned about it? She had gone 23 years without coming here, and yet now she was unable to get it out of her head that she had to come here. Back to the Lab, back to the Delinquent HQ.


Looking down at the door handles, she saw that they had been locked tight with some chains and a padlock. She considered just melting them, but that’d leave too much evidence. She freed the lock release gun from the inside of her leather jacket, and inserted it into the keyhole. Within a moment, it popped up and dropped to the concrete. With that settled, she removed the chains and made her way inside.


For a moment, Serena felt her breath catch in her throat. This was, technically, trespassing. She steeled herself. She would just be in and out. Make sure nothing was out of place.


Then, the alarm started screeching into the night. Serena cursed loudly, looking around for the source of it as fast as she could. Her eyes settled on a red bell contraption, looking conspicuously new. She gritted her teeth, and charged up a blast with her free hand before firing a beam into the bell and melting it into slag. She took a second to hiss more curses to herself, before moving inside. 


She had to be even quicker now, before anyone noticed.


She stowed her lock gun, and pulled out the flashlight she kept with her. Flicking it on, she drew the beam of light across the room in front of her. It revealed the lobby that helped keep the masquerade that the building was for nothing nefarious, but now it was a shell of its former self. The ground was littered with trash and rubbed, and the walls were covered in graffiti. The front desk was barren, missing the secretary - Ms. Chatham, right? - she remembered so well. An ancient, dust-covered PC lay on the floor, its monitor shattered and its tower pried open and stripped for parts. There was no sign of the mouse or the keyboard. The swivel chair Chatham had sat in was long gone.


She paused for a moment. Wouldn’t they have seized the PC for evidence? Her eyes narrowed. Something to check in on later, she thought.


She made her way through the lobby, the rubble crunching beneath her boots. She stopped in front of the elevator, fingers running over the up and down buttons and moving to the secret third button that blended in seamlessly with the rest of the panel. She pressed down, but nothing came. Somehow, that relieved her. The power was still off.


Still, that meant she had to find another way down.


Edited by Shofet
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Things had been quiet around southside the last few nights; and for that Alex was grateful, though he still kept the various newsfeeds and apps on his phone tuned and free for any alerts that might've come up he'd opted to extend his route into FC north and the hanover neighbourhood.


He'd been about to pull in for a snack break at a little 7-11 when he'd heard the faint ringing of a rusted over alarm bell and the sudden but alarming silence that cut through its cry mid ring.


Duty called it seemed!


With a rev of his engine he was away, streaking through the streets towards where he'd heard the sound.

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Serena racked her brain for other possible entrances to the underground portion of the building. The old drive-in entrance had been filled in with cement over two decades ago, so that wasn't feasible. She also knew the staircases were a no-go. At least, the obvious ones were. But knowing Wu, Serena figured he wouldn't simply rely on an elevator or a vehicular escape. No, he'd account for power outages and the building being surrounded. After all, he managed to escape the police when they raided the place in the 90s, he had to have some sort of special secret entrance.


His office might be a good start, she thought to herself, and made her way out of the lobby. She entered into the cubicle zone, where countless office drones flitted about filling out paperwork for God-knows-what. The cubicles now were partially deconstructed and those that were still intact had graffiti similar to the stuff on the walls. Shattered coffee mugs and shredded paper littered the floors. She saw a wrecked fax machine off to the side, next to a dusty water-cooler, and felt a pang of nostalgia. Don't see those very much anymore, she thought with a smirk. Then, remembering that she had set off an alarm, she picked up the pace, hurrying towards Wu's office at the end of the room. 


The oaken door still had his nameplate on it, and seemed to be in pretty good shape despite all of the other damage, aside from a very rude word being spray-painted across it. Checking the knob, the door opened easily, swinging open to reveal a room that withstood the ages far better than its counterparts. Though a heavy layer of dust lay atop everything, it was almost as she remembered it. A heavy wooden desk sat at the end of the room, flanked by shelves adorned with dusty looking books and awards. Wu's PhDs still sat in their frames, next to photos of him and various important looking men and women. The only thing missing was the computer on Wu's desk. 

Oh, so they took that one.


Her first thought was to go to the desk and feel under the top for a button. Frustratingly, she found nothing. She grimaced, looking around.


Now if I was a narcissistic mad scientist, where would I hide my secret entrance?

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It did wasn't that far away all things considered, mostly straight along and through at most 3 sets of lights.


Pulling out onto a dark and dreary street of delapidated buildings he look a moment to scan them for signs of obvious forced entry...but there were none that jumped out at him.


He'd almost turned around for a second pass when the sound of rusted metal grating on itself brought his attention to an opened brace and the padlock discarded onto the ground.


He considered calling his contact in the police briefly as he parked his bike up but between the chance of it being a fellow hero working a case and the relatively empty street incase things did spill into a super powered brawl he ultimately opted against it.


By passing the chainlink fence was a simple matter of turning himself to ever abundant air and simply floating through and onto the other side before turning back again.


Best not chance having his thoughts scrambled by a wayward gust of wind stirring his body like soup in its gaseous shape he figured as he drew up on the building before him, pressing his back to the wall left of the door to peek in along the opening.


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Serena hemmed and hawed to herself as she checked around the room. Her first place to look was the bookshelves, tipping the books in case one might serve as a lever to open up a hidden entrance. By the time she was on her third level of shelves, she reasoned that they were probably just books.


Next were his PhDs. She removed them from the walls, looking behind them and hoping to find a panel. To her frustration, she found none. As a bit of revenge, she tossed them aside, letting their glass panes shatter on the ground. Then, she realized that was making noise, so placed the last few gingerly back where they were.


She frowned. Those two seemed the most obvious. Then her eyed wandered to Wu's old desk, settling on his nameplate. She walked over, and tried to lift it, only to find it stuck fast. A smirk tugged at the corners of her mouth, and she pressed down on the nameplate, watching it sink into the desk and then slowly raise up. At first, nothing happened, and Serena's heart sank.


Then, a red light began strobing, casting gory shadows on the wall as she heard the sound of a generator whir to life deep within the bowels of the building. She cursed. Nothing could ever be quiet. Then, finally, a panel opened in the floor in front of the desk, revealing a stairway.


She sighed through her nose.


No going back now.

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Spying the flash of a red light down in the hallways facsimile decided that the time for subtlety had passed, if this was someone of Ill intent now was the time to strike and if not...well they'd surely forgive him his intrusion...surely.


Shouldering through the door and charging down the hallway towards the noise and light he spared only a moment to slap his hand against the wall and transform himself from flesh and blood to dense and heavy concrete, there was no hiding his approach anymore as his half ton body ground noisily against itself and his heavy blocky feet crashed along the floors.


He didnt even flinch as he smashed through the closed door sending fragments flying everywhere as he slid to a halt and with a quick glance to absorb as much of the scene as possible turned to the well dressed woman standing over the stair way.


"Hold it!" He boomed, honestly stalling for time as his brain crunched away at how to proceed.


"You better have a good reason for trespassing even if this place is a dump." He followed up with, the best his cinder block brain could come up with.


Dense material indeed.

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Serena's eyes nearly bulged out of her head as the concrete-like man burst through the walls. Instinctively, her free hand blazed up with blinding white plasma, but she managed to suppress it before she actually threw it at the intruder.


"Holy $&#∆!" she cried.


Taking a moment to catch her breath, she sized up the big guy. She figured she could probably take him, but it seemed like he was on her side, not Wu's or anyone else's. A superhero.


"Look, uh, I am doing an investigation. There was a scientist here who used to experiments on kids, about 25 years ago. Just opened up an entrance to his lab. Just... Checking to make sure everything's still in its place."

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"Oh well that's alright then." Facsimile reasoned to himself as he rubbed his head with his hands, incidentally causing dull sparks to briefly fly from his forehead.


"Experimenting on kids is defiantly something a villain would do." He reasoned aloud as he examined the stairway leading into the floor curiously


"Secret passages too." He commented "Want some back up? Incase there's like death traps or whatever?"

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Serena stared at the stony behemoth in front of her, running calculations in her head. There could be information about her identity down there, but by the same token, Wu was definitely not above booby trapping the place.  


She sized up the man again. He seemed decent enough. Sure, why not?


"Yeah, alright," she said, descending down the stairs. "I'm Corona by the way."

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"Sweet!" He responded as he stepped closer to peer down the hole carefully scanning it...for what he didn't quite know but it felt right to do so before entering.


"Ah nice to meet ya, I'm uh..." He pondered for a moment as if trying to remember, he'd made a pretty good run against his enemies by letting them think he was multiple heroes each with different powers but surely he didn't need it to be so well a kept secret that he needed to lie to his fellow heroes?


...Facsimile! It's a bit hard to uh...think when I'm like this...Dense matter you know?" He explained as he knocked the side of his head with his knuckles.

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Serena turned to look at Facsimile, making sure to angle the flashlight away from his face. His powers made him dumber? That seemed like a trade-off that wasn't worth it.  At least it sounded like he could turn them off. 


"Huh," she said, clicking her tongue. "Don't know if I would like powers that make me dumber, don't have all that much brain power I can afford to lose."


She turned back around, beginning her descent down the stairs. If not for the flashlight, the stairway would have been completely bathed in darkness. As it was, the descent was deep enough that the flashlight failed to show the bottom.


"I'm your typical plasma controller. Can hurl the stuff at people, melt metal, cause small explosions to help me leap around, that sorta stuff. Also got real tough skin. Probably not as tough as yours, though."


Her thick North Jersey accent echoed off the flat concrete walls, accompanied by the clop of her boots hitting the steps. The generator still hummed below them, but didn't yet seem to be getting closer.


"So you turn into a big stone guy. That a mutation, or like an experiment gone wrong or what?"

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Facsimile laughed a little at the question posed to him. 


"Not dumber per say just....slower! Takes a while for thoughts to squirm their way through concrete." He added as he stood back up and "oh I'm a mutant, born with it dormant though, not like that rocky fella." He commented "not just concrete neither."


He hummed as he examined corona curiously "plasma like super heated gas or the blood stuff? Super heated blood stuff?" He questioned "that would be painful right? Shooting your own super hot blood at people...especially if you had to do it from your eyes like that lizard. "


with that he ventured a little down the steps braced for whatever he might or might not trigger.

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Serena snorted.


"No, not blood. The gas. You saw it earlier, when you, uh, made that entrance of yours."


She paused, then produced a long, thin cigar and a cutter. After clipping it, she stuffed it into her mouth and raised her finger to it. A small blaze of plasma ripped to life on her finger, and let the cigar.


"See?" She said, puffing. "I don't know exactly how it works beyond some weird crystals in my blood letting me do it, but it does work wonders."


Then, she tapped out the cigar rather than force her temporary partner breathe in cigar smoke in an enclosed space. She proceeded down the steps, taking a few turns here and there, before coming to what seemed to be a dead end.


Narrowing her eyes, Serena moved up to the wall, and felt for a seam. Finding one forming an outline, she tried to push upon the apparent door, but had no luck.


Then, she looked back at Facsimile. "Wanna take a crack at it, big guy?"

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Rolling his neck with a seemingly omnipresent grinding sound he stepped forth and pressed his concrete hands to the surface before him and with a grunt of exertion sank his fingers into it.


Now with a better grip at his disposal it was a simple matter of using his dense muscular make up to prise it open, he opted for peeling it up and out of the way like a sardine can lid before pulling his fingers free with a soft popping sound.


Allowing himself a moment to stick his head in and give the room a brief scan for signs of obvious danger before stepping aside to let corona past 


"After you seeing as this is your case."

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As the door peeled away, light spilled forth into the stairway. On the other side was a laboratory, bedecked with dusty chrome trays and IV stands. At the centre of the room was something not entirely unlike a dentist chair, except surrounded by menacing looking injectors connected to mechanical arms hanging from the ceiling alongside what looked like a radiation gun.


Serena's breath caught in her throat as memories came flooding back. She remembered needles jammed into her throat and arms as she was bombarded with painful rays, fully conscious the entire time but unable to move. She remembered thinking she was going to die, and then the first flares of plasma emerging from her as she tried to free herself.


Her knuckles audibly popped as her hands tightened into fists. She tread further into the room, moving towards the chair, kicking up dust as she walked. 


She frowned deeply as she ran her fingers along the faux-leather of the chair's cushions. "That's weird," she said quietly. "I remember this chair being red, not blue..."

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It didn't take the greatest of neural matter to put two and two together given how corona was acting in this particular room even if it did take him a good half minute for those thoughts to coalesce into answers.


"Mind if I have a look?" He asked as he clonked one heavy foot after another on his way over and touched his fingers to the faux leather and ran them over the seams and fixtures investigatively.


"Side benefit of my mutation...pretty good sense of touch." He explained "might be able to tell you how long it's been blue."

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The faux-leather did not feel old. It was too firm, too pure. There was no feeling of old sweat or other biological contaminants, no give in the material, which didn't fit for something like this. Surgical chairs tended to accumulate things. It was a natural by-product of what they were made for. There was, however, the feeling of plastic clinging to the material, and some cleaning material, as if it had come from the factory rather recently.



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"Well your on the right trail, this stuff is factory fresh faux leather...no sweat, blood or skin cells on it...just plastic and cleaning product." He informed her as he stepped away from the chair.


"Worrying but good news as well. " He commented as he looked around the room again for anything else that might look recently disturbed. 


"Whoever it is hasn't had anyone strapped into it yet."

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Serena frowned deeply, peering closer at the chair. She ground her teeth together. So there was something going on down here. But what could Wu be planning? Was it even Wu? She couldn't be sure. She'd have to do some more searching.


"Thanks, Fac," she said, before turning away. 


She scanned over, looking for any sign that someone else had been there. She stopped when she found some footprints in the dust not matching her small foot size nor Facsimile's big, heavy one. She crouched down, looking at them and musing. Well, at least I know whoever did this had to walk, she thought to herself. Not that it meant much more than it hadn't been teleported in or something. 

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"Don't mention it, we're in this together now." He said as he pivoted around to look for obvious signs of disturbance in the rest of the room before turning back


"Hmm, nothing on my end..." He commented as he stomped on over towards corona "how do you wanna go about this?" He ventured as he looked at the footprints in the dust.

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"Well, I guess we follow the footprints," Serena said, before starting to move.


The footprints lead out of the room and into a hallway, but strangely enough terminated basically at the doorway. For some reason, the floors were freshly waxed and shiny unlike the lab itself. Serena stared at her reflection in the tiles for a moment, before looking back at Facsimile with a frown on her face. She considered having him analyze the waxing, but frankly even she could see this was very recent.


"I think someone's been expecting me," she said matter-of-factly, before grinning darkly. "But I don't think they were expecting you. Which means we have an advantage if this is meant to be some kind of trap."


She looked up at where the wall met the ceiling, eyes searching for any cameras. She found none, though she did see some holes where she remembered them being, the wiring long gone. That didn't mean much to her though, cameras could easily be smaller now, especially with a mind like Wu's behind this. She puzzled for a moment, before turning to Facsimile.


"We're gonna head to my old room, that work for you?"

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"Yeah lead on ill keep an eye on our tail....any ideas on what we might be dealing with?" He asked as he followed along behind "if it's not this Dr. Wu character...do you think someone might've picked up where he left off?"


"I mean...if he was middle aged when you were a kid he'll be pushing 50 now right? " He reasoned as he looked to the same emptied camera nests with a mild disinterests.


"He have any kids of his own....or maybe one of his subjects get a bit obsessed with him or whatever he was spoutin? "

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Serena frowned deeply at the thought of it being someone other than Wu. Especially it being one of the Delinquents.


"Well... Wu was like... Mid 40s when I met him, and I was 15. I'd say he'd be about 70 now, but he's the kind of guy who'd keep going until he was dead. He was a real driven type. Never wanted to slow down," she said, plodding down the halls. "But there used to be this group called the Delinquents, I was part of it as a kid. We, uh... We kinda did crimes for him. I and two of my friends got busted, but there were two others who got away and disappeared with Wu. Those were Adrian and Heather."


She rounded a corner, bringing them to a stairway marked with a bunch of graffiti, though it was unlike the stuff up on the surface. The paint was old and faded, and was less skilled. Five names were scrawled on the wall - Revolt, Heathen, Beastfreak, Tantrum and Kombat. She looked at them nostalgically for a moment, but kept going and resumed her train of thought.


"Adrian was a supersoldier type. Could take out a SWAT team unarmed if he really wanted to, and he'd never letcha forget it. Heather was... A psychic. A scary powerful one. Could scramble your brains. Make you believe things you'd never believe otherwise. Had trouble controlling her powers when she got mad."


She puffed up her cheeks and blew out the air slowly. 


"I can't really... see either of them continuing Wu's work. They weren't really the scientific types. The only real brainiac among us was Heathen, and I just saw her the other day. She's not really into the whole 'evil superscience' thing. More 'superscience to benefit mankind.'"

Edited by Shofet
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"Well you'd know best so I'll trust your judgement." He intoned with a stoney rumble "just be ready for some nasty shocks either way you know? "


"The problem  with digging up the past is its had a lotta time down in the darkness to get even uglier than you remember it or so my old man says anyway."


He hummed as he thudded up the stairs "we'll have to take it as it comes either way...don't worry though I gotcha back and I'm quite formidable myself heh!"

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