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Avenger Assembled

Black and White

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Nightrival nods his head. "Then we better get movin' 'fore they send out their latest shipment. Let's hit 'em from above."

He remembers seeing a door on the roof while he was skulking up there. He sneaks around back and stops when he sees a parked truck. Clambering up the cabin and then onto the trailer, he leaps into the air and lands on the roof. He carefully walks across the roof and kneels before the door. His nimble hands try to open it.

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Avenger was just a few steps behind Nightrival, slowed by the difficulties imposed by his powers. Supernatural grace is one thing; flying and mystical powers yet another. Either way, convincing Nightrival that he was just an ordinary man meant that Avenger had to make the slow climb up the flank of the building himself. Once there, though, he impatiently helped Nightrival open the door, his added strength making the job considerably easier! The hinges were surprisingly quiet as they opened, oil having been carefully applied to the hinges despite the rust on the door itself, admitting the two night-time vigilantes to the top of a flight of fire stairs. From down below, they could both hear the mystic chanting from below and the ominous sound of reply. The voice below was deep and melodious, for all that the words it chanted were harsh and anti-thought. The blasphemous words were a bizarre counterpoint to the thrumming dance hall music below; the singer very concerned about the "batty man."

"Propose we find power box inside; kill the lights," suggested Avenger. "Give them their darkness."

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Nightrival waits for a few moments until Avenger appears beside him. Though the door looks rather heavy, he finds their combined effort gets the door to cooperate. Nightrival conceals his surprise. Even with the two of them forcing it open, it's weight should have posed a challenge. Must be lighter than it looks, he concludes.

He's relieved to hear that the hinges are quiet. He peers down the stairs and listens to the music wafting up to the roof. He recognizes the pounding beat coming from the speakers, but the chanting sounds alien to his ears. The words seem to take on an amorphous shape inside his head, twisting like a octopus drifting in black waters. He shakes off the impending headache and looks to Avenger.

"Tha's a good idea. It's probably near th' bottom o' these stairs. Let's go check it out."

He creeps down the stairs and saddles up against a wall when he reaches the bottom. He searches the area for a fusebox.

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Avenger and Nightrival made their way down into a small utility corridor adjoining the main garage, a place that must have been small and cramped even in daylight but was downright disturbing at night. Loud music and chanting from the sealed-off garage permeated the hallway as readily as the stink of oil and blood, thrumming chants and music filling the whole building. There was no sign of any further guards; the only sounds coming through the papered-over windows of the adjoining garage. Avenger nodded at the utility door as he headed for a junction box himself. "Can get the door open. Nightvision?"

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Crouching with his back against the wall, Nightrival looks up at Avenger.

"Uh, no," he replies. "My name jus' means I work evenin's. I didn't exactly think this through."

He stands up and draws closer to a papered window. He doesn't know who or what is on the other side, and he hates surprises. Though most raids tend to be routine affairs, on occasion he's encountered some dangerous suspects who were happy to tear his head off from his shoulders. This is Freedom City, after all.

They have to move fast. If anymore zombie powder hits the streets, the city will see more victims like the driver outside.

"A'right, 'ere's th' plan," he whispers. "I'll barge in there an' make a ruckus. When I give th' signal, kill th' lights an' come chargin' in. Th' signal is, uh, well . . . I dunno. Lights? Let's go wit' lights. Okay?"

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Via one thing and another, the two heroes turned out the lights and burst into the garage proper. The room inside was a fearsome place where industrial hell met supernatural; rusted and abandoned trucks were covered with bizarre occult symbols, dried blood mixed with dried oil up on the walls. The two heroes had little time to take note of the monstrous conditions inside the place, though, because no sooner had they burst their way in than they found themselves confronted by true monsters!

Standing in the middle of the room over several large piles of zombie powder stood a familiar figure, a dark man in a black suit, a skull on his head. "Whatchoo doin'?" inquired Baron Samedi, a murderous glint in his eye as he shouted over the echoing noise of what proved to be a live-band of...was that a zombie dance-hall band? Why yes, yes it was! Several hoodlums stood on either side of the room, startled looks on their faces, as suddenly...Avenger killed the lights!

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Nightrival's face widens at seeing a zombie band playing on a makeshift stage. He shudders at the thought of forcing innocent people into slavery after murdering them with that terrible drug. He has to free them somehow, and gawking at the bad guys won't get the job done. Glancing at the piles of powder, he reminds himself to not stand too close to them. He immediately snaps into a stance and faces down Baron Samedi.

"It's yer lucky day! Ya'll are gettin' busted by th' best in th' business. Why don't ya give up so's we don't hafta fill the emergency room wit' yer broken, unconscious bodies?"

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Nightrival recognizes the man standing in the center of the room, before the lights went out. Baron Samedi has a reputation on street for being a serious player. His rivalry with Siren places him at the top of the criminal food chain; not many crooks can claim they fight a Freedom Leaguer on a regular basis. The zombie powder connection surprises him. Guess it makes sense, wit' 'is theme an' all, he thinks. Now 'e's a bigger threat. Can I even take this guy?

The thugs have to go first. Nightrival lowers himself closer to the ground and then springs into the air, landing next to the goons standing at the sidelines. He lands a spinning hook kick into the closest one, slides forward and drives his elbow into another. tumbles backward and slams his knee into other's midsection, and then strikes one more in the ribs with a quick side kick.

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Baron Samedi laughed evilly as Nightrival tore through his thugs, seemingly unimpressed by the vigilante's combat prowess. "You tink you can beat voodoo? Well..." Suddenly, the god's voice dropped its exaggerated Caribbean accent and spoke with a perfect, menacing purr. "Your bones will be mine." At a gesture from him, the shadows themselves rose up to entangle Nightrival, the animate shadows trying to ensnare the dark hero.

Nearby, Avenger had joined Nightrival in ripping through the thugs, hurling men left and right, sending clouds of zombie powder into the air as he hurled men into tables and into bags. He vaulted onto the zombie-filled stage as he finished his movement; a bad move as one of the thugs he'd left standing targeted him for a bullet! The bullet missed Avenger, though, cracking into the head of one of the standing zombies.

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Nightrival sees the shadow figures raise off the floor but he doesn't leap away in time. Their inky tendrils coil around his arms and legs and anchor him firmly in place. He struggles against them but they're far too strong.

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Avenger opted to repay his colleague's binding like for like, throwing himself at Samedi from behind and wrapping his arms around the voodoo god's neck. The dark champion didn't banter with Samedi, instead grunting and straining with him in deadly earnest. Samedi made a bizarre noise of his own as Avenger squeezed, a sound like bones popping coming as he turned his head to look at him. The struggle made the shadows around Nightrival slip, freeing the vigilante from their cold embrace. "Oh, dis is a good one," Samedi laughed malevolently even in Avenger's grip. "Funny!"

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Nightrival slips away from the retreating shadowy tendrils, and tumbles over to the three thugs loping towards him. He bolts back up to his feet and sends a heavy upper-cut into a thug's jaw. He pounds another in the gut with a reverse roundhouse kick, and then spins on his back foot and smacks the last thug's skull with the same kick.

Avenger might need a little 'elp, he thinks. Nightrival leaps up, corkscrews midair, and lands on the stage near Baron Samedi.

"Th' show's over, Samedi," he growls. "We're playin' yer last song."

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"Worry about yourself, boy. You have more enemies than you know." Samedi fixed his gaze directly on Nightrival, boring directly into the man's soul, before darkness poured from him and down over his body. Despite Avenger's best efforts to hold onto Samedi, the god of death and darkness disappeared in a curl of shadow, leaving behind a zombie band still tooting away, lots and lots of drugs, and a room full of unconscious thugs.

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Nightrival shivers when Baron Samedi directly peers into his eyes. He feels his insides being gripped by an intense cold that chills his bones. His vision briefly blurs with a deep darkness that reminds him of the frozen, unending blackness he sees between the stars at night. Nightrival remembers the anguish he felt when Grimalkin disappeared, when his mother died in a hospital bed, and when the police told him his father perished in the blast. The emotion had dulled over time, but now it returns with a sharpened edge. The sensation subsides when Samedi vanishes into the shadows. He shakes his head to free himself from the terror, takes a step back, and looks around.

"Where'd 'e go?" he asks.

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"He's gone." Avenger looked down at his hands, irritation burning in his ragged voice. "Probably for the best. Didn't want to fight a god." He flexed his gloved hands, shooting a glare over at a zombie pianist. "Suggest we burn the room. Destroy the drugs. The dead. Call the fire department."

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"Yeah, I dunno 'bout fightin' some dude that can toss th' League around. I didn't figure he was on th' street, though. I'll have ta keep tha' mind from now on."

Nightrival examines the undead band still playing their instruments. He shakes his head. He feels sorry for the people now cursed with this existence, but he knows they're beyond help. Or are they? Part of him wishes there's a way to reverse the effects - something magical - that can save the victims of zombie powder.

"Nah. Let's jus' call th' cops an' get out 'fore they arrive. We need th' evidence, and maybe they can help these people. At least give 'em a proper burial."

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"Your call. Did the deed." Avenger rolled his shoulders, still eying that zombie band. "Have some problems with the police. Best if you handle that. Encourage them to burn the bodies" He turned back, looking again at Nightrival. "Never thought I'd fight a god. Good match." He kicked a semi-conscious thug rising behind him, the crack of breaking teeth echoing over the thumping music. "Appreciated."

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"A'right," replies Nightrival. "Ya can make like a ghost an' I'll call th' cops. Don't worry, I won't tell 'em ya were 'ere."

He examines the zombie band once again and shakes his head. "I'll see wha' I can do for 'em. I think yer right, puttin' 'em down is prob'ly th' only thing we can do. I'll pass yer suggestion along."

Nightrival jumps down from the stage. "Ya did good 'ere. Sometimes these raids lead ya inta more trouble than ya accounted fer. Ya beat th' bad guy tonight, an' not many folks can say that. It'd be good ta see ya 'round. Ya work th' Southside?"

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"Work everywhere," replied Avenger. "Do what needs to be done. Will remember you." Avenger fell silent, and by the time Nightrival looked his way had disappeared into the darkness of the noisy warehouse. Nightrival was left alone with the unquiet dead, and the thugs whose aching heads probably meant they wished they were dead.

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"Good ta know," replies Nightrival. "I'll see ya la- "

He jerks back when Avenger suddenly vanishes into the darkness without a sound. Everyone's disappearin' tonight, he thinks. He searches the thugs' pockets and finds a cell phone in one of them. He flips it open and dials 911.

"Yeah, send a couple o' units down ta Kingston Truckin', under Route 4 an' 6. I gotta a store o' zombie powder 'ere and some vics that need attendin'. Is this Lorraine? I know that voice anywhere. Yeah, it's me a'right. I'll stay on th' scene until yer guys show up. Talk ta ya later."

He throws the phone over his shoulder. He hops back onto the satge and sits at the edge with his legs dangling over.

"Ya guys know where I can get decent hoagie at this hour?" he asks the groaning thugs. "I'm starvin' over 'ere."

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