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Pyramid Schemes

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Saturday night on a holiday weekend meant a lot of activity at the Pyramid Plaza; tourists and locals swarming the popular tourist and shopping destination. The latest Star Trek movie was playing in the complex's multiplex; the latest fashions from Paris and Milan were on display at the highly exclusive shops a few levels up. And higher up still in the office levels, a few unlucky office workers were still plugging away on this Memorial Day weekend.

Also, in the big plaza between the triple skyscrapers, there was a giant. He'd appeared in a flash of brilliant white light, the blinding glow dead center of the Plaza transforming itself into the figure of a man some fifty feet tall. But this was no ordinary man, for not many supervillans would dare wear the costume of the first Raven! Especially not supervillans tall enough to glare in the windows of the eighth story, a look of malevolent glee on his face.

"I'LL KNOCK THIS PLACE DOWN TO SIZE!" the giant called as the tourists beneath his feet ran screaming, and in proof of his boast he ripped up a large ornamental oak tree from the center of the plaza and hurled it through a third-story window as easily as a child would throw a toy. "UNLESS ONE OF YOU THINKS YOU CAN STOP...THE RAVEN!?!"

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Wesley is working this weekend. Fortunately his customer lives in the in the same building he does. Samantha is a clean slate. The woman doesn't have a mark on her body, yet she wants her back to be fully done. She and Wesley worked for a full two weeks on the specifics of it. He had to learn how to write in Chinese for this to be done. She insisted, and even paid for his lessons. So, tonight is the night. She lays ready for this to begin when they feel the building shake, not gently, but as if something crashed into it. They look to each other in a bit of knowing silence. Walking to the indow he throws open a curtain to reveal the first Raven, but really big. "That's not the real Raven," he mutters. He looks to Samantha, "Well, it looks like we have to postpone." She frowns and nods before pulling a shirt on, "Lets get out of here. The building has a safe zone we can go to in times like these." Wesley nods, "You go ahead. I'm gonna see if I can help around here." "Suit yourself," she shrugs on her way out, "but I can't pay a dead man." As soon as she's gone Wesley opens the balcony window and walks out to see Rant dressed as Raven and sighs as the phony shouts his challenge. Wesley weakens his muscles a bit and white feathered wings shoot out of his back. "Alright 'Raven'," Knight chides as she swoops down, "I'm a fake bird too. Lets do this."

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Taylor happened to be hoofing it back from visiting friends that had graduated and moved to the nicer end of downtown, debating the whole 'personal gain' aspects of teleporting herself back home. True, it might result in the complaints of eldritch energy bothering her neighbors again. Maybe the blacklight excuse would work once again?

The booming voice and shriek of metal got her attention quickly enough and while the other pedestrians either gawked or screamed and fled, Taylor reached up to touch the amulet nestled at her throat.

So much for an evening off.

With a crackle of light, her civvies vanished to the void and Phantom's signature cape billowed out around her, its folds continuing to pulse with that fell otherworldy aura as she floated up silently as the debris passed through her body, glancing at the already mounting damage. Super hero battles were always messy. She hated city fights the most. Her gaze flicked to the other superhero swooping into the fight. Well, at least it was two-on-one-really-big-guy. One really big, crazy super villian that was running around in someone else's costume. And her friends said she needed to get out more. A wry smile twisted her lips before she spoke.

"First warning's the last one, big guy." Phantom warned, her voice echoing hollowly as she raised up her hands to cast.

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"OH! A FANCY BOY!" Raven clapped his fists together with a sound like a sonic boom. "ARE YOU RUDE ENOUGH TO MESS WITH THE BADDEST DUDE IN TOWN?!" With that, he drew back a massive fist and threw it right at Wesley!Despite Wesley's best efforts to avoid it, that massive gloved fist proceeded to power him directly through the side of the building, shattering the window and smashing Wesley face-first into a steel support beam inside an interior wall! The crash of glass and steel was as sickeningly loud as the screaming of tourists, but Wesley didn't have to hear that long as Raven wrapped his fingers around him like a Slim Jim and began pulling him out of the building. "FEE FI FO FUM, BIZNATCH!"

Meanwhile, Phantom saw a blast of blue-green energy go shooting past her ear! There was a sudden burst of tiny, high-pitched profanity as something very small and very fast zoomed past her vision, then another surge of energy that passed right through her body. And then more, louder tiny swearing.

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It feel like every bone in Wesley's body has been turned inside out as he crashes into the building. Shaking off the pain, he notices he is headed towards 'The Raven's' mouth. Closing his eyes, he begins to think calming thoughts. As he does so, he begins to glow an indigo color. The giant poser begions to glow the same indigo color.

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Seeing the conflict in front of her, Phantom decided that she could ignore the buzzing for the moment. Hopefully the miniature villian would take a few moments more figuring out how to hit someone that was only half there. Instead she raised both hands and her brow wrinkled in concentration. It was tempting just to blast away with power, but she didn't want to risk hitting the other hero. Instead she focused on focusing the crackling black energy between her hands at something that would stun the behemoth instead. The power collected around her hands and hit 'Raven' with a krack-pow!

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"Meh!" exclaimed a surprised Raven. A bored look on his face, he proceeded to hurl Wesley away like a child with a broken toy he was bored of. And a good thing, too, because that sudden blast of not caring left him open for one heck of an assault from down below! For a half-second, Phantom thought she'd made a terrible mistake as the gigantic Raven began collapsing straight towards her! And then she felt the first electrical blast, right in her ear, cutting straight through her energized body.

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Wesley folds his wings and dives in the direction of his saviour. He would close his eyes, but then he couldn't see the ground rushing toward him. Half calculating, half guessing, he speads his wings at the very last moment, coming within personal space of Phantom. "Hi, I'm Knight," he says backing up a bit and stretching out a hand of greeting, "Thanks for the save back there."

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Phantom's search for the other assailant was abrupty halted as the winged hero dropped in suddenly. As she was used to things passing through her form, instead of flinching she merely gave Knight a single slow blink as she focused on his features. Her eyes glowed faintly behind her black mask with no discernable pupil or iris.

"Phantom," she volunteered, almost abruptly, but she did extend one gloved hand to his. Her fingertips passed right through his palm, without any discernable sensation save for a chill caused by there wake, "Be careful. There are two of them."

She glanced down at 'Raven' with a scowl, "See if you can find the tiny terror." 'Tiny Terror'? My words come out so corny sometimes in costume. "I'll deal with our 'friend' down below."

Phantom floated down, her hands holding the cape out as she landed silently next to the pretender's head. As she dropped, she flung the cloth out, letting the folds billow and crackle ominously as she went to engulf the stunned imposter inside their inky folds. It took seconds for Raven to dissapear inside with a final snap of eldritch energy.

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Elena Guerrero pulled her long coat around her as she exited the lobby of 1 Pyramid Plaza, where she rented one of the most exclusive apartments in Freedom City. She had planned on a night of light drinking and heavy dancing at Machine. That plan shattered along with the third-story window when the flimsily-disguised raver-punk hurled a tree through it.

I was looking forward to actually taking a night off for once. No such luck. Oh well. To those whom much is given, much is expected, and required.

To her surprise, though, reinforcements burst onto the scene, seizing control of the situation before she could react. Elena stood firm as panicked bystanders ran past her in all directions. She expanded her eyes and ears beyond her physical body, combing the Plaza in search of other potential vandals. While they fight at the front lines, I'll handle intelligence. It wouldn't do for Freedom City's new protectors to be caught with our pants down. Any more than we already have, anyway.

She reached out and gently touched the minds of the two heroes. Her whispers echoed in their heads. The "voice" was quite familiar to Wesley by now. I don't know why he's dressed as Raven, or how this turned into Attack of The Fifty-Foot Raver, but that's Rant under the mask. Which means the smart money says his diminutive companion is a similarly-altered Rave. Plan accordingly.

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To Wesley's horror, the tiny terror Magpie proceeded to fly directly down his throat and begin expanding there. It was a horrifying sensation to suddenly feel a crawling, wriggling thing inside his body, striking and zapping him with her zap gun. But Knight's control over his own body was an impressive thing, and he mastered his terror long enough to spit out the now-bedraggled Magpie, who landed at his feet with a thump and a look of murderous disgust. She'd swollen all the way back up to normal-size by now, and landed just in time to watch her 'brother' disappear into Phantom's dimensional 'pocket.' "Nooo! We can't lose! We can't looose!"

Scarab found no sign of any further menaces to her complex, though there were plenty of frightened people, some of them injured, who were only now coming to realize that they just might be out of the woods. She did happen to catch a news broadcast on one of the televisions in the complex about a battle between two mysterious superheroes and a bizarre doppleganger of Captain Thunder the night before, as well as a live broadcast of something very strange that had happened in the Fens. "Only moments ago, a strange woman wearing a costume like Lady Liberty's attacked the Veteran's Cemetery here in the Fens and destroyed most of the monuments here. Though our reports are still sketchy, eyewitness reports reveal that this woman looked just like the long-thought-dead Andrea Atom..."

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"Noooooooooooooooooooooo!" Screaming in terror, the now-enlarged "Magpie" disappeared into the wormhole, waving her arms and legs helplessly as Phantom's powers sucked her away into nothingness. "You haven't heard the last of us!" Terror or not, the crowd was certainly on the heroes' side, and the assembled team got a round of applause as the supervillains vanished into nothingness. But Phantom still felt the energy tingling at the edges of her awareness that told her that further dimensional activity was afoot. Whatever was going on this weekend was by no means over.

Around that time, Elena's cellphone rang with one of the numbers she'd seen Avenger use in the past. Jack didn't often call during the day, at least when it wasn't an emergency.

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Elena let her coat slip free and fall to the ground. As she rushed over to the nearest wounded civilian, she rammed her bluetooth headset into her ear and accepted the call. "Frer-a-Jacque. Dorme vous?" She dumped the contents of her purse on the sidewalk, grabbed a pair of tweezers from the pile, and used them to pull broken glass out of a wound. Then she ripped strips of cloth from her own shirt to use as improvised bandages.

Wesley - we need to wrap things up here ASAP. Two-bit hoods dressed like a Who's Who of Heroes Knoll are painting the town red. This is the tip of the iceberg.

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Phantom's cloak settled and flared around her as she walked over to Knight. She assumed the telepathic 'voice' wasn't from him as Phantom imagined he would have shown those skills earlier in the fight if they were his to control.

"Are you alright?" She asked now that the battle was over. This time when she went to touch his shoulder her gloved had was reassuringly solid as she exerted the mental effort to materialize fully. She reached out slowly as Phantom halfway expected the young man to recoil. Sucking screaming people into the abyss of her cloak was sometimes... unsettling to others.

Her gaze flickered over the crowd and the injured, her face expressionless under the mask. She added for both the psychic presence as well as Knight, "There is residual dimensional energy here. I do not believe that these were the Rant and Rave that we are familiar with. Nor do I believe that this is over unfortunately."

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"Saw you on the news." As a man committed to the character, Jack spoke like Avenger while in costume. "And just had very strange call from Grim about Andrea Atom monster in the Fens. Suggest we meet at your place immediately to discuss situation. Do you need help?" Jack slipped out of character then, maybe because he was watching one of the live feeds from the Plaza that usually showed up on the Internet or various TV news clips about the holiday.

There were hurt people around, and plenty of them, but fortunately quick action had stopped both the rampaging powerhouse and the tiny terror before they'd done anything too horrible. Elena's knowledge, and the wisdom passed down the line of the Scarab, was enough to help treat the injured people. No one had died, or so it appeared, though a few people were in a bad way. Scarab found herself confronted with one groaning elderly man half-pinned down by debris, a horrified East Asian boy in a Boy Scout uniform working to dig him out, while on the other side a South Asian-looking boy in a sailor suit called out for his father.

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"Good idea, Jack. We'll meet you down there. Gotta go, duty calls." Elena hung up as she grabbed for the bottles of painkillers in her purse-turned-pile. She considered the Tylenol for a moment, then shook her head and popped open the Vicodin instead. She poured a pile of pills into the injured bystander's hand. "Take a couple of these now, the rest later as needed, and don't drive." She looked around at the other wounded people. "And don't be stingy with them, either."

Scarab found herself confronted with one groaning elderly man half-pinned down by debris, a horrified East Asian boy in a Boy Scout uniform working to dig him out, while on the other side a South Asian-looking boy in a sailor suit called out for his father.

Elena sighed. When it rains, it pours. She ran for what she knew to be one of the blind spots in the surveillance coverage of the Plaza, ducking under cover and throwing up a mental cloak to cloud the minds of any observers. In an instant, the morphic molecules expanded out from under the tattered remains of her ruined shirt to envelope her body in the distinctive crimson & gold armor of The Scarab.

Within half a minute of spotting the old man, The Scarab was by his side. Not wanting to startle anyone, she let herself fade into view gradually, a translucent, spectral image that slowly faded into solidity. The debris pinning the old man down began to glow with a scarlet aura. Then The Scarab raised her hands, palms open, upward, and the wreckage floated into the sky.

Wesley - meet me down in The Lair. Avenger's en route with Grimalkin. And bring your new friend.

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