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Pandorym

A Question of Priorities

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Majestic Industries' main offices could be seen behind Lazarus Swain as the sun cast its final colors over the grey building, illuminating with purples and oranges the many stories and elegant ornamental facades that composed it. Within the shadow of the mighty structure roiled a mob of angry men and women, dressed in dirty coveralls and a motley assortment of thick flannel shirts and battered woolen sweaters. They wielded signs upon which was written "Don't Make the Home Front Homeless" or "Keep Our Jobs Where They Belong" or "Make a Stand for the Working-Class Man", and shouted their slogans in a great tempest of furious voices.

There must have been nearly two-hundred of them, and every one determined to stay in position until the corporate bastards in the top of that tower changed their minds about stealing their jobs. Around the perimeter of the protesters patrolled fifteen weary Police officers, all that the FCPD could provide for the moment. From time to time they cleared a path through the crowd to help some meek secretary or accountant survive the gauntlet of the hateful, but for the most part they stayed at the edges of the crowd, trying to keep the protest from spilling out into the rest of Downtown. Though understaffed, they wouldn't get any backup unless things got truly hairy; crises across the city kept most of the department busy.

Lazarus mounted his makeshift podium, created from a few empty shipping crates found outside the building, and raised his hands for silence. He'd spoken several times already that day, and many in the crowd halted in their noise-making, ready to hear yet another speech targeted at enflaming the situation. Yet as he prepared to let his powerful voice ring out once more five figures, two women and three men, forced their way through the crowd to where he stood. They wore the uniforms of the FCPD, though some with more grace than others. A few, some of the keener observers were certain, were little more than common thugs, but two of them at least seemed genuine. Before Swain could utter his first words the Police had set upon him with batons, and even the mighty man fell beneath the unexpected onslaught by so many. In a few moments he lay stunned on the ground, handcuffs clapped over his wrists, and was being dragged back through the crowd toward a waiting police vehicle. Even as he was pulled, however, he called out to the crowd, giving a speech despite his situation.

"People! See how far the connections of these corporate criminals reach!"

At this one of the officers struck him again with her baton, but still he spoke.

"They steal your jobs, your livelihoods, so that they can force unpaid slaves to work for them, and they silence all voices of dissent! Workers of Freedom City, see what they do to me even now! Do not let this continue! Show these forces of evil and greed that we are strong enough to see through their lies and resist their attacks! No longer shall we remain in the dark, silenced by their agents! I will not fight this injustice; I leave it to you to avenge it, and to prove that you are not mere pawns to be tossed about for profit! Do not give up the struggle! Do not..."

But whatever else he was saying was cut off as he was hauled into the vehicle. The protesters were, as they had been before, captured by Swain's powerful charisma, helpless in the grip of his harsh and powerful voice. They could not know that he was playing on their feelings to accomplish his own goals, for his personal pull was far too powerful for them to resist. It shall forever be uncertain who threw the first rock through the front window of Majestic's office lobby, but it began a chain reaction that swept through the crowd like a tide. Soon they were all taking up rocks and bits of pavement and rotting food and hurling them alternately at the building and at the Police still clustered on the perimeter of the protest. Those with signs transformed them into clubs; spraycans were produced and used unsparingly on the walls of the offices. As Lazarus watched from within the safely-distanced Police cruiser, pleased at his success, the angry but peaceful protest changed swiftly into a force of nature. He had accomplished the first part of his plan, despite a few setbacks in the way of less than adequate disguises, and could now proceed to phase two: arrive as Ned Ludd and begin destroying everything Majestic owned. With the aid of his minions, he began to don his armor.

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Lieutenant Gavin Jackson stared in shock as yet another rotten apple pulled from some dumpster hurdled toward his squad. When he'd arrived in the morning, he'd been sure this would be an easy assignment that mostly consisted of making sure no one got hurt in a nonviolent crowd. Whatever magic Swain had worked on the protesters, though, had really worked; they were in the grips of a rage, and Gavin was glad of the cover his car provided, though he hoped it wouldn't suffer too much damage. He wasn't sure where the other Cops that had brought Swain in had come from; he certainly hadn't sent them, they didn't act or look very professional, and there was no word from HQ that Swain had any charges on his head. Maybe they really were in corporate employ. Whatever the reason, Gavin was certain of one thing; a detachment of fifteen men wasn't going to solve this problem. He pulled his walkie-talkie from his belt and pressed down the "talk" button.

"Lieutenant Jackson here, outside Majestic's offices. Protest has spiraled out of control and is in danger of becoming a full-scale riot. All units within range, please respond. I repeat, protest is out of control, a major riot may be imminent. Over and out."

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"Keep those boxes moving; we don't want that damn crowd getting in here before we're done."

Darren Wolfe, Head of Security for Majestic's offices, watched as his personnel began wiping the memory of the many hard-drives located in the basement while others carried vast stacks of paper to a nearby furnace. He had been assigned to make sure that not a shred of information that might reveal his boss's shady deals would survive, and he fully intended to get that job done as quickly as possible. Nosy reporters had a tendency to show up whenever a big stink might be on the loose, and he didn't want to have to make anyone go missing if he could avoid it. Grabbing a stack of paper of his own and checking to make sure the combination lock on the reinforced door was still secure, he walked over to the furnace and dumped his load in. Within a half hour nothing would remain to incriminate anyone or anything...

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I did not sign up for a mob. The thought echoes in Avenger's mind over and over again as he peers at the crowd from his rooftop perch, his black-clad body getting harder and harder to make out as night falls all around him. Maybe I should buy a better police scanner. He thinks about leaving before he sees the cops getting pelted by the mob, and then laughs ever-so-quietly. Perfect. Getting the thin blue line on Avenger's side is a perfect plan, just perfect. He slips down off the roof and makes his way via back alleys to as close as he can get to the police cordon around Majestic. Taking shelter behind a dumpster, he disappears into mist and shadow, waiting for the situation to get worse before he takes more direct action.

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I'm late! Blast it, why couldn't those muggers just surrender.

Yuki was swinging as fast as she could, the web bag on her back carrying the package meant for Majestic Industries. Problem was, she got sidetracked due to a group of three men attempting to take advantage of a woman and her friend. It was easy enough to handle, but it took to long. Now it was getting dark, and if she was to avoid another mark on her record, she 'had' to get to Majestic like, yesterday.

But as Yuki's life was, things were never easy. She saw the mob in front of the building and almost immeadiatly her heart sank.

Knowing my luck, they're probably out for blood.

She then saw them start throwing indescribable veggies at the police.

Yep. It's my lot in life.

Yuki wanted nothing more then to go in, drop the package, and then get home. But she knew that as long as there was a possibility of human harm and/or danger, she wouldn't live it down.

Plus there's no camera's, so what's the harm in helping.

Swinging around in a low arc, she snagged a lamp pole with a webline and slowly lowered her self upside down behind what looks like the man incharge of the massively undermanned police presence. "Looks like you boys could use a hand."

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Oh, great! It's like Market Day out here. At least she's a looker. From his perch on the second floor of the nearby corporate parking garage, Avenger ponders his next move. Going out to help the police now seems like the wisest course of action. OK, he'll lose some of the glory that comes with being the solo hero on the scene...but on the other hand, making friends with cops _and_ another superhero seems like a really great idea. Jack knows that Hieronymous King is no one to be trifled with, and the "gritty street avenger" has no real interest in corporate crime.

Instead, a small patch of fog above an overhanging lightpole resolves itself into the black-clad champion of justice. Avenger leaps down onto a civilian car (abandoned by its owner, a Majestic junior executive, when the mob closed in) and gives a shout that crosses the night like a tiger's roar. "Anyone who wants a cop in my city has to go through ME!" It's all great drama for Jack, though perhaps less so for the onlookers.

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((Sorry, took me a bit to get this up, so events are moved back a bit in the beginning.))

Gavin was in his early thirties, with a head of curly brown hair, aquamarine eyes, and a lopsided gait on account of a broken leg during childhood. This "disability" had caused many to underestimate him, but they did so at their peril. He had a mean right hook, and could pick off a domino with a handgun from half a block away. He'd seen plenty of arrests, even helped deal with supers from time to time, but he was way out of his league here; he couldn't just start attacking the crowd. What was needed was someone to do some talking, or some nonlethal suppression, but he didn't talk to problems except to tell them their rights or order them to surrender, and he didn't exactly have tear gas or anything. Besides, he didn't want to use force unless he had to; he knew firsthand from friendly fire that tear gas was nasty stuff. Of course, it would take a good half hour for riot police to suit up and arrive, and it didn't seem like any backup at all was within range. What he needed was one of those Superheroes.

Nobody called Lt. Jackson the brightest cop in the area, but none with their heads on straight would say he wasn't perceptive. Motion in a back alley caught his eye as an empty soup can flew past his head, though the rest of his squad was too busy dodging the rain of refuse to notice. Someone in dark clothing, he was sure, and what looked like a painted mask of some sort, but more than that he couldn't make out. His attention was distracted by the arrival of a woman who was, without doubt, a super; she hung from a lamppost on thin line of (what? spidersilk?) to speak to him, saying it looked like he needed a hand. He grinned sarcastically.

"My, aren't you clever? I never woulda guessed."

He took a breath, then shook his head apologetically.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to say that. Yes, we need a hand. Can you talk to 'em, call 'em off? This was peaceful just a minute ago. Whatever happens, we can't let this get outside Wading Way; with all the rest of the PD elsewhere, everything will go to h*ll if looters get a chance to disguise themselves in the chaos. If you can do something, do it quick. Please. Wait; what the devil is that?"

For it was at that moment that Avenger chose to make his impressive entrance, and the blur Gavin saw before became a man, and no doubt another super. But before the cop could even speak to the newcomer further trouble arrived on the scene...

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Ned Ludd, his armor donned, walked with mighty and clanking stride back toward the offices that only a select few knew he had just departed. Sunlight reflected from the glass canyon surrounding him reflected off of his polished armor, making him almost blinding to behold, like a Seraph descending to begin a holy war. In his right fist he held a mighty sword longer than some men are tall, and with his left he redirected the crowd around him. The crowd had hesitated in their destruction at the sight of Avenger, and now they hesitated further. He arrived at the edge of the Police perimeter, then shouted over the squad car with a voice that sounded like the grind of a blade being sharpened. He raised his left fist, pointing at the cops but ignoring the supers that seemed to be aiding them. As he speaks he draws his blade along the police car's hood, leaving a thin line of rust where the blade touches the metal.

"I will warn you, and I will do so only once. You fancy yourselves the protectors of the law, but through your actions you condone horrific abuses of justice. You are about to witness the fury of a city unleashed, a people who see firsthand what evils like Majestic have done to them, and will continue to do if not stopped. I tell you this: stand aside, or I will be unable to offer you any degree of safety. Prove that you are not puppets of this corporate menace, and you may return to your families at the end of the shift. It would be wise to reign in your pet 'Heroes', as well."

With that Ned turned on his armored heel and strode up the stairs to the entrance to Majestic's offices, then turned to address the crowd. He raised both arms, sword still clutched in his right, for silence, and then began to speak once again.

"People, hear me. You have seen firsthand the injustice wrought by this corporation, but attacking the pawns will not end the menace! We must strike at the heart, at the very people who have caused so many, you included, to suffer! Ignore the officers of the law; they believe they are doing what is right, or else are bribed by our true targets. They may yet change, as may all of you! Turn away from your luxuries and face the simple fact: all your lives, you have been used, farmed by these greedy few who have manipulated the fates of so many! Help me end it today! Help me to destroy Majestic, one blow at a time!"

As with Swain's speech, the crowd is powerless before Ludd's commanding voice and personal pull. Every last one of the protesters, despite their momentary distraction by Avenger's arrival, turns their fury toward the windows and doorways of the office building. Ludd himself stands and waits as five figures move through the crowd toward him, dressed in full armor like him and carrying swords and shields. Soon the six of them are assembled, ready to move into the building and whatever acts of destruction they intend inside, or to stand against either super that might oppose them.

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Gavin may be tough and brave, but something in Ned's voice tells him that he means every word he says, and he hesitates. So too do the rest of the police; someone else will have to blaze a trail.

"Uh... I don't think we can take him on at our present level of firepower. Unless you've got an idea, miss...? Or maybe that fellow could lend us a hand?"

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Darian's shopping trip is done for the day. Stocking up on some specialty parts, mundane and not-so-mundane, always gives him joy. It is like Christmas every time for him. His mother has to do some bank transactions before they can go home. It is then when the trouble starts. Off in the distance, a crowd is rioting! Against his better judgement, he gets out of the car to see what's going on.

"Well, they are all the way over there," Darian says as his mother joins him in crowd watching, "but they are advancing erratically. Do you think I can be of any help with stopping these hooligans?"

"It is up to you, Quark," she refers to him with his family given nickname, "just call if you are going to be out late. Also, I will need a way get back home, because I am surely not getting past them," she points to the angry mob.

Darian nods, pulling his PDA out of his messenger bag and points it in front of the car. A large shimmering silver portal opens up. "Be safe," she says when she drives in. He closes the portal and puts the PDA back in his messenger bag, then pulls out a hand-sized metal box. Opening it, he dumps a solid sphere of what looks like quicksilver into his hand. When grasps it, the substance covers his whole body, making him look like a large silver being. He doesn't want to anger the people more by looking like a giant death robot.

He takes to the air to get a better look at think. He gasps as he sees hundreds of people surrounding a building lead by a man in armor! He flies closer to the scene to get a better perspective, settling in the air above the two parties. "Good evening, citizens! May I ask what is going on here?"

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Ned turned his armored head to face the source of the new voice, spying some sort of silver creature floating in the air between the police and the enraged protesters. Another super, without doubt; three against one was poor odds, but he was confident that he could turn the crowd against them if necessary, and with his gift of speech, he was certain the police wouldn't intervene any time soon. Besides, what could they do? Start a massacre? Beneath his visor, the fallen activist smiled. The Spirit of Justice would be pleased with his accomplishments that day, he was sure of it. He would hold off his foes and smash his way through the offices of thrice-accursed Majestic Industries, and then he would melt away. With the gifts of the spirit, who could stand against him? But first, it was time to ascertain where the newcomer stood. While the other two supers had defended or sought to aid the misguided cops, this one seemed merely curious, for the moment. Perhaps he was enlightened in some way; perhaps he could at least be used against the others.

"A good evening indeed, for we shall have vindication for all the humiliations and evils we have suffered on account of wicked corporations like Majestic Industries! Tell me, where shall you stand? Will you join us in our righteous crusade and break free of the plots that have dictated the course of the very lives of so many innocents, or will you succumb to corporate treachery and prove yourself little more than a pawn? You stand at a crossroads: you may fight Freedom City to save it alongside us, or you may bow to evil puppeteers and do battle against my crusade. Join us, and everything you know will change. The road of justice is a hard one, full of uncertainty that you can only survive through conviction. Do you dare to travel it?"

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I see... that man speaks, the crowd gets stirred. Time to teach him the way of edicate...

Yuki shot a webline and swung up and around the lamppost. Once... twice...

As she swung around the third time, she realeased the webline so that the momentum swung her lithe body up and over the crowd, landing/attaching to the side of the building in front of the man with the giant sword...

Uhhhhh... bad image, bad bad bad....

"Excuse me... I'm usually not the one to sneeze at the freedom of speech..." She had to hold back a laugh. "...but all that shouting and such a large sword? Seriously... Are you trying to compensate for something?"

She pointed her fingers and concentrated. Out came the greenish ectoplasmic webbing and it was aimed right at his mouth! "I hope you don't mind... maybe it's your breath, but these people are a bit antsy everytime you open your mouth..."

First roll is Acrobatics incase I need it. Second is Taunt, third is Attack Roll Necessary for Snare. If it hits, the DC is 16. After this turn ((Which should be the surprise round)) She is activating her +5/-5 Defensive Attack.

Edit as requested, the Dangersense check.

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Darian is bolstered by the armored man's words. This is what he wants: to be the hero. To fight for justice. To do what is right. In his eyes this man was doing everything he wished to do. Darian nods to his knight in shining armor, "I shall do what is right." As soon as he makes his allegience known the black clad spider swings into action. Darian grunts, "Hey wait! Do not mess with justice!" From the palm of his hand shoots a white beam towards the spider!

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It's hard not to think like a vampire now, surrounded by this mob of idiots. Cattle. Lousy, stinking cattle. But Jack dismisses that thought as unworthy, concentrating on the moment at hand. He drops off the car roof in an effort to disappear, only to find himself suddenly confronted by a hulking man armed with a baseball bat. "You wanna help cops? Worry about yourself first!" The club goes flying towards Jack's head, a massive, dangerous blow that could have caved in his skull if it hadn't gone awry into the lamppost.

Boiling mad now, Jack responds with a solid, bone-cracking punch that breaks teeth like a Frank Miller punch, plowing the man off his feet with a single devastating blow. Infuriated at nearly getting sideswiped by a man who he could have easily avoided if he'd been willing to show off his undead abilities, Avenger gives a truly malevolent growl before disappearing into the crowd between one eyeblink and the next.

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Out of the corner of his eye, Ned saw a black-clothed super moving through the mob, striking a violent protester down and then vanishing once more. The armored anti-technology poster boy merely smiled; the Spirit of Justice made him invulnerable to most conventional assaults, and no gun nor common weapon could harm him. With one of the supers persuaded to aid him, however temporarily, and his Luddites at this side, he was confident that the day was his. Yet as he prepared to advance into the lobby another super arrived in front of him, blocking his movements. He brushed off the woman's taunting with no more care than he would give a flea, but her next attack proved more effective. Though impervious to bullets, blades, claws, and clubs, his armor was infiltrated by the webbing as he failed to evade it in time. The sticky stuff wormed its way through his visor and attached vice-like to his vocal cords, causing him to choke on his retort.

The Luddites were too stunned by the woman's sudden appearance to move in just yet, and Ned too busy coughing and sputtering to attack for the moment, but he was able to raise a gauntleted finger, indicating the source of his misery and promising violence in the minutes to come...

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Annalyn Peters cautiously edged past the shattered windows of the office building, trying to reach the Police before the protesters set upon her. Her red hair, cropped to her shoulders, masked her face as she moved, but did nothing to hide the Majestic logo on her pale blue shirt. She knew she couldn't leave through the main door; it was too obvious, and some sort of battle seemed to be going on there. No, she had to try climbing out, and she'd have to do so right in front of a mob who would like nothing better than to smash her head into the pavement. Even so, she had to try. She had to tell someone what her superiors were up to before they destroyed all the evidence. Easing herself up and over the windowsill, she then lowered her body carefully to the ground; right on top of a pile of glass chips, which cracked loudly enough to turn several heads. Five angry-looking workers wielding signs, rocks, and hammers approached her, grinning at the prospect of directly beating down one of the hated corporate workers. No one said Annalyn wasn't brave or smart, but she couldn't see any way out of this one.

"Wait! I have information on what my superiors are up to! You could get them locked up, stop their criminal activities! That's what we both want, right?! I can help you! Listen to me, please! Oh, God. Help me! Somebody, help me!"

Curling her hands into fists, the mid-level manager prepared to fight to the last. If she ran, she'd have to go straight into the rest of the crowd or into the arms of the people h*ll-bent on knocking her teeth out. As much as she hated it, she wasn't going to last long unless somebody gave her a hand, and soon...

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Avenger doesn't so much as break stride as he heads through the crowd, tossing the people in his way aside like ninepins. Torn briefly between joining the super-battle brewing on the steps and saving the woman menaced by the angry protesters, he takes the innocent human first. Charging through the crowd, he confronts the protesters by taking a running start, leaping over their heads, and landing neatly between them and their putative victim. Spreading his short cape wide and standing in an imposing battle stance, Avenger booms "First one to run gets to keep their teeth!" His words and manner are indeed truly terrifying, and one of the thugs actually turns and and runs in terror! Another takes a step back, his face pale, but the other three press on, enraged at the sight of the super who has been plowing his way through the crowd of their allies.

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Yuki was in a bind here. This wasn't going to be the traditional 'pound the bad man to oblivion', or her favorite type 'dodge around till everyone is tired THEN pound the bad man into oblivion'. No she had dozens of people here to deal with. The only thing she accomplished, was that the motormouth wouldn't stir up the hornet's nest any worse.

Great... hear I am without a follow up plan. When will I learn to look before I lea...

Her head buzzed, and for a second, directing her in the direction of the woman dropping on the glass. It was when she saw that this woman was about to be attacked that Yuki dropped everything, leaping off the wall and spraying a huge net of webbing at the men. "Get out of here lady! They'll tear you apart!"

No roll here, since I can take 10 on attacking Minions. This time, it's a snare aimed at the men approaching the woman. And a reminder that Defense Attack IS active.

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Darian looks down at all the carnage. Everything is going so fast. The knight is being attacked and his attackers were helping save people from the riot. Is there nothing I can do, he questions himself. He gasps with a spark of inspiration, "Load Test Setting 5X2A5L0E2C7I3," he says quickly, "Simplified: Calm." "Test Setting 5X2A5L0E2C7I3 will take 48 seconds to load. Music of choice," the suit questions in it's usual monotone voice. "Garry Schyman - Praan," Darian says trying to make the process faster by mentioning the first song that came to mind. "Loading," the suit says.

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The three thugs, since one had vanished into the crowd at top speed at the sight of the fearsome Avenger and another refused to advance too close to the super, were almost on top of Annalyn when the webbing struck them full on. They became entangled in the sticky stuff, making it nigh impossible for them to mount their planned attack or make a retreat. Their faces betrayed terror far greater than that of their intended victim; they didn't count on such swift intervention. Even so, the crowd around them continued in their mad destruction, spurred on by the words of the now-silenced knight. It would take something extraordinary to halt them without further injury or destruction of property. Annalyn could see the floating silver... thing that the knight had nearly turned against the rest, and could only hope that he/she/it was working on such a solution. In the mean time, she had a job to do. She needed someone who could go toe to toe with the best security money could buy, and she'd just seen someone put the fear of God in a pair of thugs with a single glare, and another someone who could shoot webs.

"Thank you both, I don't know what I would've done if you hadn't been here! But there's something more important than just my safety; that's why I tried to reach the Police. I'm Annalyn Peters, and I work with Majestic as a project manager, but I don't trust my employers and never have. What you need to know, though, is that there are a whole bunch of nasty, well-armed types on the basement level. They've been moving through various buildings Majestic owns, and I figured out what they're up to: they're destroying their files to protect that board member who's on trial! You've gotta stop them before he gets away clean; I've seen some of the records, and you can't let him get away with what he's done! I'll show you how to get there, if you'll help me, but we have to hurry!"

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Ned was about ready to turn the accursed woman super into a little red stain on the side of the building when she was gone, off to protect "innocents", no doubt. It mattered little to him; at least his way was no longer obstructed. Striding forward he gripped the hinged door beside the larger revolving one and ripped it from its hinges, then tossed it out of his way and walked through the frame that once held it, his minions covering his rear with their raised shields. The armored mastermind, harsh artificial light reflecting off of his full plate instead of the sun, laid eyes on the computer monitor sitting upon the receptionist's desk, abandoned by the low-level employee who had occupied it before the mob's assault began.

Beneath his web-choked visor his eyes narrowed, remembering the factories, the suffering, the dead and maimed piled high on carts and left to die so that fresh workers could be brought in. He faltered for a moment as his mind took full stock of the situation, looking around him like a man awakening from a deep sleep, but then his hesitation faded, and is replaced with undying hatred. Pulling back his sword to a position over his head, he brought it down like a bolt of lightning from above and impaled the computer, removing his blade and returning it to a ready stance as rust crawled over the metallic surface and sparks began to fly from the destroyed machine.

He coughed, wishing to give a speech as he normally would, then mentally cursed the woman super and pointed deeper into the building.

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Oh, jeez! Jack contemplated Hieronymous King discovering his secret identity, levering his substantial influence in the city against Freedom's vampire community, and various subsequent disasters. But on the other hand...who says I have to be found out? He smiled behind his mask, a predator's grin. Jack Faretti can't risk a fight with Majestic Industries...but Avenger is a superhero. Avenger can do anything. "Looks like sword-boy's gone in too. Full house." he growls in a voice summoned up from the gritty 90s superhero movies that Jack grew up with. He takes a moment to casually bowl over a passing rioter, flipping the man flat on his back and leaving the formerly furious protester with a thoroughly dazed expression.

"Shouldn't be out this late." He looks up at the others, his blue eyes and the white skin around them the only parts of his body visible underneath his bulky costume in the glare of the surviving street lights. "I've got point," he says, again echoing things he'd heard on late-night TV. "Let's roll."

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"Let's roll? Geez man, why not just say 'Avengers Assemble'? And people call me corny!"

Yuki swung, not roll, after the man. She was still concerned with the rioters, but as Avenger said, the main riot stirrer also went inside. She takes him down, this may end. Maybe. Hopefully.

"Go for the basement. I'll handle Mr. Swordsman. He probably don't even have a license for that sword."

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"Hm," is Avenger's guttural reply to Tarantula's insight. "If I finish first, I'll come find ya." He turns back to Annalyn at that. "Basement." It's mostly a question; while he could get down there easily enough, getting there with a middle manager while avoiding fights is going to be hard to do blind.

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((Both Avenger and Annalyn have slipped past Ned with the latter non-villain's Move Silently check, just to make things simpler.))

Annalyn smiled nervously; the supers were going to help her, and that was good. Still, she had to get them to where they could help, and that meant leaping back into the frying pan. She knew well that the men in the basement were trained killers, for she had seen them snap the neck of one of her equally inquisitive coworkers. More than anything else, she had to do this for poor Ronald James Madison. Summoning up the reserves of courage that had allowed her to sneak into offices and hack restricted computers, she promised herself she would find a quiet house and live under the witness protection program when this was all finally over. Raising a hand she beckoned at Avenger, then climbed back through the window and slipped past the preoccupied knight. She moved toward the stairwell, hugging the wall and treading softly, while hoping her new allies were still ready to help and that she would make it out of this last gambit alive.

Easing the door open, she moved easily down the stairs. The mercenaries at the bottom were making so much noise they wouldn't hear a stampede coming, and she was sure of it. Moving down two flights, her heels clicking as they touched the metal beneath them, she paused in front of the door from which the noise emanated. This was the moment of truth; she would succeed, or she would die. She lowered herself to the floor, hair falling around her head like a waterfall only to be brushed away with quick strokes of her left hand, and peered through the crack where the door ended. Easing herself back up, she whispered urgently to Avenger.

"There are six of them, all carrying handguns. They're moving crates, though, so I think you could surprise them before they could draw them. We could also pull the fire alarm and have the sprinklers go off, which might distract them but might also destroy the computer data. Any ideas? We'd better hurry; they're throwing the evidence into the furnace."

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Ned's fury did not abate with the destruction of a single computer. To open the eyes of the people, he had to do something truly spectacular, something all of Freedom City would know. If he managed that, the people would be forced to question his actions, and as they did they would surely see the righteousness of his cause. Stalking past the desk he followed the sign marked "Advertising", for he was certain that department would rely on electronics made by the underpaid and abused of the world; their destruction would cause the people to look at what they truly were: symbols of oppression and exploitation. Turning several corners he arrived in front of the offices. In a few moments, he would destroy millions of dollars worth of photography, artwork, and filming software, unless someone managed to stop him before he and his minions could follow their ideals into the violent act...

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"Dark down here. No windows." Avenger thinks for a moment, then says, "Stay behind cover, out here. Goin in through the ducts. I'll be back in a minute." With that, he reaches over and flips the row of exterior light switches off, plunging the stairs and the room beyond into darkness. A moment later, while his ally's eyes are still adjusting, he drops down into mist and fog and rolls right underneath the open door, taking a moment to suss out the situation beyond before taking action.

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Yuki stuck to the shadows on the ceiling, Doing her best to stay away from wandering eyes.

"Seriously, haven't you caused enough trouble for one day?"

She knew the swords guy wasn't going to back down, but blah. "...I should warn you, you may carry a large sword... but I know Kung fu, Jujitsu, and hundreds more dangerous sounding words. Don't test me."

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"Ok, if you're... Forget it, you're gone by now."

Annalyn crouched in the darkness, wondering exactly what the super planned to do. There was only one thing of which she could be certain: there wasn't much time if the files were to be saved...

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Wolfe grinned, a nasty and animalistic smile that sent shivers down the spines of his own men. More than half the files were already gone, and all of what remained was in hard-copy format, which was harder to sort through. The furnace was still hot, and everything was going as planned. It was then that the lights went out, leaving only the strange reddish-orange illumination of the paper-consuming fire. Faster than lightning Wolfe's hand dropped to his gun, pulling it free of its holster and activating the light on the top. The others dropped their stacks of papers, letting them fall in heaps to the floor, and went for their weapons as well. This, the security chief was certain, was no power failure; there would have been flickering, or some other sign. Someone had deliberately attempted to deprive them of their vision, someone who might be at the door at that very moment. His light flashed past the smoke that was Avenger, and he took no notice of it.

"Come out, whoever you are, and we won't hurt you. You're trespassing on private property, I'll have you know, but we'll let you off if you show yourself right now, then turn around and leave."

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((Wow, what are the odds?))

Ned was annoyed at the woman super's persistence, but her words made him wary. He attempted to locate the area from which her voice was coming, but ultimately failed to gain any useful information from his attentions. He very much wished he could speak, then thought for a moment; perhaps he could free himself. Carefully raising his visor just enough for his gauntleted hand to access the webbing, he pulled at it with all the might his odd angle could muster, and didn't do too poorly, though perhaps not well enough to rip away the strong and sticky stuff. As he struggled, one of the Blademasters accompanying him turned and shouted down the hallway, his voice harsh and intimidating.

"Whatever skills you may possess, six heavily armed and armored warriors await you, one bearing magical gifts from Justice incarnate. You cannot possibly defeat us all despite your dishonorable tactics. Our master has no desire to kill you, and we follow his direction, but if you interfere with our crusade, you give us no choice. Perhaps we will leave you unconscious, and allow you to ponder the error of your ways. Or perhaps you will leave now and spare us the temporary inconvenience of your continued pursuit."

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Outside, the rioters continued in their destruction, though some wondered about the silver speck hanging above them...

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"Sorry sunshine," Yukigrinned at the amatuer attempt, "...leave the taunting to the pros, and on that note...

Yuki Swung feet first towards the goons, before lifting her legs up and swinging over them!. She wasn't aiming for the goons... she was aiming for...

Okay, now that she thought about... who was this roody-poo?

Any way, She attempted to slam a foot into his now open visor, aiming to flip off him to maintain her acrobatic edge.

Remember, Yuki has sneak attack, the DC is on her page if this is a hit. Also the first roll was a Will Save and the second was for Acrobatic Bluff. Bluff succeeds, Ned loses his dodge bonus.

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"Criminals, you have sinned against the laws of man and God..." When Avenger appeared, it wasn't by the door. He showed himself crouched atop the furnace, the reddish glow from below lighting his hockey-mask covered face like a fiend from the bowels of Hell itself. When he spoke, his voice was that of a growling agent of infernal retribution. "Vengeance is mine!" With that he leapt from the furnace, kicking the door shut with a deft sidestep, before throwing himself into the crowd like the wrath of Satan, fists flying and punching at the blinded men, tearing through the mortal crowd with speed and ferocity.

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((Due to the magical nature of Ned's armor, I'm going to make a call in this post. If you think it's a load of bullcrap, take it up with me in the OOC; I'm happy to negotiate if it's in the best interest of the story. Fixed link for attack roll instead of grapple check; sorry for idiocy.))

With a sound between a crack and a squelch, Ned finally wrenched the gooey, half-solidified webs from his vocal cords, panting for breath. His moment of recovery was a moment too long, however; with a leap over him, the woman super lashed out with a foot at his unprotected face. Had she done the same to one of his minions, said minion would end up with a broken nose and an enraged, bloody countenance. As it was, Yuki merely bounced away unharmed and unharming as a wall of reddish light washed over the twisted anti-hero's face, deflecting the blow despite the position of his visor; the magic of the "Spirit of Justice" served him well, even against a foe far faster than he. Finally ready to go on the offensive, Ned raised a single fist and moved forward, trying to grasp his nimble foe. If he could, he might be able to defeat her with his immense strength.

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((Toughness saves now forced; post redone to reflect loss of all non gun-mounted light.))

As soon as the flashlight beams were activated, all hell broke loose. The furnace door swung shut under the weight of some unseen presence with a fearsome voice, and within moments every one of the Majestic henchmen was in a panic as their lights, intended only as auxiliary devices, became the only illumination in the dark room. They swiveled about on the spot, trying to track the strange figure that hunted them, but it was far too late for most. Freidrich, standing at the edge of the group, went down with a scream as a punch to the jaw floored him despite his body armor. Not far away, Ntoru exhaled sharply as an extended foot found his stomach, knocking the wind from him and causing him to break his nose against the wall. Jack was tougher than the rest; a punch thrown his way nearly sent him hurdling into a bank of computers, but his armor helped him roll with the blow and saved him all but bruising. Will suffered a kick to the back of the knee followed up by a chop to his neck that left him sprawled on the floor, while Isaak fell back with a howl of pain and several broken ribs.

Their chief, meanwhile, almost managed to control his fear, but almost rarely counts. Instead of going for more advanced weaponry, Darren tried to take a shot at his foe, despite the low chance of hitting him due to restricted visibility. It proved a mistake; getting jumpy, the man pulled the trigger far too early, putting a hole in an empty file cabinet with a sound that definitely wasn't the shriek of pain he'd hoped for. He swore, then dropped his pistol and pulled a serrated knife from his belt. Anyone who could see in the dark would have noted strange runes on the blade; far from technology, this was magic bought and paid for through Majestic's underworld connections, but a hit with it would be just as effective as any modern weapon, if not moreso...

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((Four rounds until the Riotbreaker takes effect.))

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