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Tiffany Korta

Bedlam Burning : Beauty and the Beasts

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Gilbert Ave, Hardwick Park

21:00 22nd July 2019

 

For the last few weeks Hardwick had been burning, and arsonist setting abandoned building of the area alight. Luck rather than skill had mean than no one's homes  had been threatened. But as the weeks had gone by, and Bedlam police showed little interest in investigating, the person(s) involved had become bolder. Even the local gangs seemed to be unable to halt them.

 

Apart from the locals no one seemed to be interested in investigating the fires, though perceptions can be deceiving. Bedlam might not have many heroes, but there were a few around and they tried their best to do there part.

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Merge Trois

The last site was still smoldering after burning for a couple of days, the Fire Department had made a token effort before leaving the place to it’s fate. Across the street Merge was watching the building getting ready to go investigate the scheme.

 

She’d was not exactly looking to blend in, dressed in a large puffy jacket over a rather short dress with a pair of platform boots, totally unsuitable for searching a burning wreck. Her hair was tied up into pigtails the tips dyed red with a band of yellow around it.

 

She made one more look around before crossing the street, though she wasn’t worried it wasn’t like anyone else was going to show up tonight...

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Deep inside the smoldering husk of the torched warehouse, something stirred.  A pile of ashes, smoldering timbers, and shattered glass heaved and parted, as something buried under them shuddered and heaved.  A hand -- badly burned, but with muscle and skin already regrowing -- shot up from the pile, followed by another.  They pushed down on the floor, helping to leverage up the upper half of a body, which had been crushed by a heavy roof beam (now since burned away) as well as badly charred.  Bones popped and re-set and organs regrew, quickly covered by flesh the color of a livid bruise.  A head flipped up as the neck un-snapped, and turned this way and that as the eyes grew back in.

 

"Well, that-" Dead Head began, before pausing to cough up the ashes and debris his lungs had formed around.  "Hoo... been a while since I had t'come back from somethin' that big.  But that's got me wonderin': was that so bad 'cause o' somethin' them fellers brought in, or somethin' what was already here?"

 

He looked around again, "an' where th' heck is my legs?"

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Posted (edited)

Mister Strix

 

While the zombie climbed out of the rubble and put himself back together, a cloud of white vapor floated slowly down to the ground and solidified into the form of a man in white. He knelt down and sifted through more rubble a few feet away from Dead-Head.

 

Quote

 

"Well, that...Hoo... been a while since I had t'come back from somethin' that big.  But that's got me wonderin': was that so bad 'cause o' somethin' them fellers brought in, or somethin' what was already here?"

 

"...An' where th' heck is my legs?"

 

 

"Here." What was left of Dead-Head's legs landed with a thud in front of him, tossed by the man in white. "Too soon to tell." He began creeping around the shell of the building, sniffing at the air every few feet but otherwise not breathing at all. His gaze washed over the ruins, searching for answers. "Could just be a firebug deriving...personal satisfaction. Pattern of escalation fits. Maybe the slumlords in Stone Ridge just got too greedy, and let these places get so bad they'll make more from the insurance than they would from the rent. Or maybe someone is trying to cover something up. Or someone's sending a message."

 

Edited by Grumblefloof

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"Much obliged, Strix."  He stuck what was left of his legs near what was left of his pelvis, and let his undead body do its thing.  "So it's either someone doin' it fer fun," the bits slithered closer together, "someone doing' it fer someone else," bones grew and fused, "or someone doin' it to someone else," ropes of flesh snaked out and twined around each other.   "Or maybe even all'a the above."  He shook his head, then clambered up to stand in the ashes and hopped around a bit.  "Ah, good as new.  Right, so," he glanced around, "seems we gotta find out if'n there's any connection among th' places what got torched.  If all of 'em is owned by th' same folks, it'd mean they's bein' targeted.  An' if just some of 'em are, well," he shrugged, "could still mean they's bein' trargeted but the firebug's tryin' to keep folks off th' trail.  An' if they's all owned by diff'rent folks, but they's got rivals in common, then that could be th' one callin' the shots.  So now," he turned to look at Strix, then summoned his shovel and leaned casually on it, "we's gotta figure out where t'start diggin'."

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"With City Hall closed indefinitely, the property records should be at the county courthouse. We can slip in there easily enough once we're done here, and find out who owns what." Mister Strix alternated between scuttling up and down what was left of the walls like a spider, and practically crawling on his hands and knees sifting through the burnt rubble on the ground. Every few inches, he would stop to stare intently at what appeared to be nothing, and to sniff at the air. It was slow work. "Whoever set the fire probably expected it to destroy all the evidence. Maybe it did. That might've been the whole point. But they also might've left some traces. Even a single spot of blood could point me in the right direction. Solving a crime is just like diagnosing an illnessEverything is relevant, until it isn't."

 

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Merge Trois

Despite tottering on her platforms Merge moved pretty easily even through the debris of the fallen warehouse. She wasn’t sure what she was going to find but the scene of the two undead just there wasn’t one of them. Nicki reminded her about arsonists returning to the scene of the crowd or something, so time to discover why they were here in her own unique style. Giving a loud clearing of the throat she stuck and pose with her hands on her hips, counting as usual on people underestimating her.

 

“Do you want you maybe explain exactly what your doing her? Because this looks mondo suspicious right now.”

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"Oh, we's jus' some concerned citizens," the one leaning on a shovel said.  His voice was rough, like he'd been smoking for a very long time, yet also somehow worse.  If Merge was expecting him to be startled by her appearance, she was disappointed, though whether this was because he'd heard her and knew she was approaching, or he was simple an unreactive type with a good poker face, she could not yet say.  "Some'a my friends on th'other side told me 'bout the fires 'round these parts, and was worried someone might get hurt.  Ain't happened yet," he shrugged, "but it's bound to, sooner'r later, intentionally or not.  So I thought I'd look into it.  Got a lead this'd be the next place hit," he gestured vaguely around them, "but by the time I got here -- I's new here, so 'm still learning mah way 'round -- 'twere already a-burnin'.  I ran in t'make sure no one was inside, but there weren't -- not even the firefighters!"  He kicked a pile of ash, "they jes' sat outside an' watched!  I was 'bout to go out an' give 'em a piece'a my mind, but then a beam fell an' trapped me.  I jus' not managed t'work mahself free."

 

He hadn't mentioned Strix -- wasn't even sure she'd spotted him -- but could still sense the vampire was around.  "Now, pray tell, what's someone dressed like you," he gestured vaguely at her puffy jacket, "doin' in a place like this?  You th'owner of this place?  Had some furs stashed here or somethin'?"

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“Do you want you maybe explain exactly what your doing here?"

 

The man in white was clinging to the inner wall when the woman spoke up. His face shot around to study her with his black eyes. He leapt off of the wall, landing into a kneeling crouch on the floor. His boots and hands visibly displaced the rubble below him, but the impact didn't make a sound. He rose and began walking toward her, slowly and indirectly, in half-circles. The closer he came, the colder she started to feel. His skin was so pale, it was hard to tell where it ended and his mask began. His massive cape obscured most of his body, making it difficult to follow his movements. When he replied, his deep voice was accompanied by an even deeper reverberation, some kind of unholy echo.

 

"We could ask you the same question."

 

Quote

"I ran in t'make sure no one was inside, but there weren't -- not even the firefighters!"  He kicked a pile of ash, "they jes' sat outside an' watched!"

 

The man in white stopped moving. He briefly turned to glance at the zombie. "...Like he said, he's new here. That sort of thing still surprises him."

 

Quote

"Now, pray tell, what's someone dressed like you," he gestured vaguely at her puffy jacket, "doin' in a place like this? You th'owner of this place? Had some furs stashed here or somethin'?"

 

"If you're looking for Club Nowhere, you came to the wrong place. You might try further north. But please don't. You put money into the pockets of pimps and killers every time you buy a drink there. And the next time you walk into a strange place looking for a good time, the strangers you'll meet there probably won't be Good Samaritans like us. You got lucky this one time. Take that one chance, and do something better with your life, while you still have it."

 

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Merge Trois

She like these two, they showed potential and made a great double act! She considered continueing the dumb tourist act for a little while longer but there was a very good chance that people might get hurt tonight. 

 

“That’s very sweet of both of you, but trust me I can look after myself, or more actually...”

 

There wasn’t any imperceivable change but there was suddenly two of her, looking identically down to the clothes she was wearing. The second of her picking up the line without pause.

 

“...we can look after ourselves!”

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The one who looked like a walking bruise let out a loud and boisterous laugh, and actually slapped his knee.  "Ooh, she's got spunk an' pow'rs!," he commented to his companion, "I like 'er!  Uh, them."

 

He then walked towards her/them with both hands extended.  As he approached, and she/they got a better look at (and smell of) him, any notion that this might be a living person in some sort of makeup quickly went out the window.  "A pleasure t'meetcha, ladies," his rictus grin widened a bit, and he offered a hand to each of them, "folks call me Dead Head.  Who might y'all be?"

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"Not a wayward club kid. Another vigilante. Fine. This town could use all the help it can get. Just...try to find more clues than you step on."

 

The man in white turned around and went back to sniffing and sifting the rubble.

 

"Keep your eyes open for anything that might've been used to start the fire - bomb shrapnel, gasoline residue, a matchbook staple, a half-burnt rubber band that could've held a bunch of sticks together. And look for anything the fire might've been set to hide. Bits of clothing. Body parts. Corners of paper the fire didn't quite catch."

 

Edited by Grumblefloof

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Merge Trois

The two Merge’s became three before as a whole they announced their name as one.

 

“We’re Merge Trois.” they then spoke in turn following on from each other as they spoke

 

“Please to meet both of you, we’re pretty sure that they’ll be another arson attack possibly tonight so we should probably act with some speed.”

 

She wasn’t really up for the whole team up or even leadership role, but an extra couple of eyes couldn’t go amiss and she really wasn’t sure what they’d be facing. This was there turf after all! 

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GM Post
The warehouse was remarkably clean of anything that looked like it would have started the fire, for all the world it looked like someone just stood in the middle of the warehouse and sprouted flames in all directions. Arson was pretty common in Bedlam but not quite like it seemed to go down here.

 

It also meant that the place was thankfully empty of the normal vagrants that wanted to find a warm dry place for the night, the threat of the arson attacks meant that they had decided to find safer places to sleep for the night. The only victims of the fire were a few rats that had been unable to avoid whatever had started the fire last night.
 

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"I got nothin'.  No signs'a any bodies.  Well," he nudged one rat corpse with his shovel, "none human.  An' no signs'a any explosives.  In fact, given the complete lack'a anythin', an' how even it all is," he walked back to the center of the warehouse, held his arms out, palms outward, and slowly spun around, "I'd be willin' t'bet our firebug's a metahuman."

 

Prob'ly a mutant, maybe supernatural.  Doubt it's tech-based, not enough resources here t' support that.  Alien?

 

His body continued slowly rotating, but his head stopped once it was facing Strix's direction, "y'all know'a any metahuman firebugs 'round these parts?  I know powered folks ain't common out here, so the list cain't be that long, right?"

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Mister Strix

 

After combing over every square inch of the scene, the man in white shook his head. "No traces I can find. Not so much as a speck. No, we get plenty of arson, but not many known arsonists. Doctor Scorch has been locked in the Crawley Asylum for over a decade. In fact, if we get desperate enough, we might want to break in there and ask him for advice. Believe it or not, the cops have consulted with him before. 'Torchy' still hasn't been caught, but whoever they are, they mainly do residential buildings, not commercial spaces like this. No, this doesn't fit his pattern. Did you pick up any traces of magic? It could be some amateur sorcerer. We seem to find one of those in this town every time we turn over a rock. Looks like we're breaking into the county courthouse records after all."

 

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Merge Trois

The three Merge’s made a quick look around the warehouse using the increased numbers to cover much more ground. The thing about warehouses was they all tended to be the same regardless of whatever city you lived in, but it also meant that the local stuff tended to get passed by. She knew the locals gangs of Lincoln but not those here, but she recognized a tag and a fresh one at that.

 

“Looks like someone tagged this place before it went up...”

 

She shifted some rubble to show a spray painted inverted pentagram, the sign of the main local gang in the are, the Mara.

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Dead Head closed his eyes and concentrated a moment, "yeah, I can sense some traces'a mystical mojo, but it's faint, an' fadin'.  It ain't necromancy, but," he shrugged and opened his eyes again, "that's about all I can tell, an' I know that ain't too useful."

 

Merge's findings caught his attention, "ooh, whatcha got there?  Hunh.  Basic tag, not very creative.  I've lost track'a how many times I've seen some would-be warlock or edgy teen use that.  Not sure it'll help narrow-" 

 

He suddenly stopped talking, and got a far off look.  "Oh?  Oh, really?"  It was clear he was not talking to Merge or Strix.  "Ooh, sounds nasty.  Okay, thanks a bunch.  Right, so," he focused back on his 2+ companions, "looks like it's the Mara what done this.  Or maybe this was owned by some Mara, and someone's goin' after 'em.  Either way, they's involved."

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Mister Strix

 

How did I miss that...?

 

The man in white squinted suspiciously at the flamboyant duplicator, before kneeling down to examine the spraypaint more closely.

 

"The Mara want everyone to think they're sorcerers, but I've put a couple dozen of them in the hospital, and so far, the only 'spells' any of them have tried to cast at me were 'Knife' and 'Gun'. But if one of them has finally figured out how to summon the Fires of Hell to do their bidding, then this is exactly what it would look like. A big enough room with enough idiots at typewriters, and eventually one of them figures out Shakespeare. This changes things. Extortion just jumped to the top of the list. Someone isn't paying their protection money, and an example is being made. We should still get the property records, find out who owns these places. But we should also beat some answers out of any Aces or Brujitos we come across. And in Hardwick Park, if you throw a stick in any direction, you'll hit three of them."

 

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"I'm good with either one, but if I'm gonna sneak inta th' county courthouse, I'll need t'check the want ads first."  Merge might assume he meant to check for any job openings or internship positions there... which might work for some, but certainly not someone looking like he did.  Strix, however, knew 'want ads' was how he referred to the obituary section of the newspapers, though he wasn't exactly sure how that would help him in this case.  "Or I can go scare up some answers.  Oh," he slapped Strix's chest with the back of his hand, "or we could do a 'good cop, bad cop' number on 'em!"

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Merge Trois

Merge was quiet for a few seconds, almost looking like she was having a conversation with herself. Then with a smile she looked at her two undead allies. The other two looked around as the third did, they seemed to operate quite easily independently.

 

“I’ve got someone who can look into the city hall angle, it fit with some stuff we found out back at Freedom City anyhows.” she paused and clapped her hands together

 

“So let's go scare us up some gangsters shall we? I assume you good gentlemen have a plan of some sorts?”

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Mister Strix

 

The man in white raised an eyebrow. "Freedom City? You're from Freedom City?" He scowled. "Is this your first time in Bedlam?" He'd met a group of superheroes from Freedom City last year, when they worked a case that brought them to Bedlam. World-class professionals, the best at their trade. But they weren't prepared for Bedlam. It didn't break them. It couldn't. It's beneath them. But it shook them. Even Burt here seemed to have trouble adjusting, trouble accepting this place for what it is. There are lives at stake here, dammit. We don't have time to babysit another wide-eyed ingenue from Superhero Sesame Street.

 

"The 'plan' is to head toward Hardwick Park. Not just the neighborhood, the actual park. The closer we get, the better chance we have of running into the Mara or one of their vassal-gangs. We'll ask questions, they'll start a fight, and we'll finish it. Take whatever form of transportation you prefer. I'll stick to the rooftops, and I'll keep up."

 

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"Oh! Yer from Freedom City?!  I used t'run 'round there!  I was there fer the Grue Invasion.  Er, the 2010 one."  He'd swear he could hear Strix's eyes rolling, "I worked mainly with th'other supernatural types -- you work with any of 'em?  Avenger, Hellion, Phantom?  How 'bout any'a th'Interceptors?"

 

And now he could feel Strix's glare burning holes in his back.  "Right, right, there'll be time fer jawin' later.  Let's heads on out to th'park.  Been meanin' t'get out that way anyhow, see if there's any green in this city'a greys an' browns.  So, uh, how da you get around?  Ya got a car, or bike, or... ?"

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Merge Trois
Trust me Bedlam wasn’t my first choice for a holiday destination, if it wasn’t for the trail I’d happily have stayed at home!” she shrugged and added

 

I’m sure you’ve never heard of it but I grew up in the rougher parts of Lincoln and Southside. Really all Bedlam is the rougher parts of Freedom writ large, though it’s probably not the time to enter a the worse city dick measuring contest.” she was quite aware how petty it all was, but she couldn’t help herself

 

So just walk up and ask for a meeting? Or do we have a something resembling a plan?”

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