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And They Called Me MAD! (IC)

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It was a late Spring night, and all seemed quiet in Freedom City, at least as quiet as a city which was considered by most to be the center of metahuman activity for the world could get at night. Assorted heroes took the opportunity to rest, or catch up on assorted tasks, while most of the villains and crooks were laying low (or in jail).

Most, but not all.

A figure moved along one of the openings that released rain and ground water funneled by storm drains in Hanover into the Wading River. Anyone who saw it would describe the figure as wearing a midnight blue bodysuit that completely covered not just its identity but also its gender, carrying three red wineskins which pulsated and quivered. The figure opened each wineskin and squeezed out a green gel into the run-off, though it would be more accurate to say the figure opened the wineskins and the gel poured itself out. The three streams of gel coalesced into three green kitten-sized blobs, which then swam up the run-off stream and into the drain lines.

A hypothetical onlooker would then have seen a slit open in the figure's suit, where its mouth would be, and hear a disturbing (and triumphant) laugh.

A few days later...

"Our breaking story: shock rolled through Hanover today as a third set of mutilated remains were found along the trails of the Promenade -- Alex McGee, a graduate student in zoology at Freedom City University. Police have released few details, save that, like the bodies of Eve O'Nell and Alvin Oates found earlier this week, the victims were severely burned by some type of acid. Despite a small but vocal public outcry, Police Commissioner Barbara Kane has not assigned the STAR Squad to this case, claiming there is not yet enough evidence to suspect true superhuman activity, nor did she offer to comment on any link between these three FCU graduate students. All visitors to the Promenade are urged to travel in groups and only in well-lit areas, and to report any unusual activity as soon as it's seen...."

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Eric could no longer sit idly by while this killer had his way with the townspeople. He had to be found and brought to justice. However, rocketing aimlessly about was a fools errand, Eric decided to pay a quick visit to FCPD to see if they had any leads on this chain of murders. After donning the aptly named Rocket Man, Eric Micheals became Rocket's Red Glare, one of the up and coming heroes of the city.

Although he took great pleasure in screaming across the sky, when he came close to the police department, he flew lower and much slower. He landed gently in front of the building, and began mounting the stairs, pausing momentarily to hold the door open for a few people leaving the building. He walked up to the receptionist's desk "Yes hello. I was wondering if you could point me in the direction of the officer in charge of the triple homocide case in the Promenade?"

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"May I ask who's-" the receptionist started to reply before she looked up and saw who it was speaking. "Oh, it's you! Of course, Mr. Glare... er, Mr. Rocket... er... I'll get him for you!"

She pushed three buttons on her phone, "Sergeant Grigori? There's someone here to see you about the Promenade case. No, not a reporter... well, he might have a recording device in his suit. No, not a cheap suit, an armored one! No, it's not some knock-off, it's... well, come see for yourself!"

The receptionist put he phone back on its cradle, and flashed a weak smile, "he'll be right out."

Half a moment later, a young-ish man -- his outfit and movements marked him as a seasoned Police Sergeant, but his face seemed stuck in his early college years -- approached the reception area. "Oh, hey, it's you. Wondered when one of yous would come by here. Name's Grigori," he extended his hand, "Vinnie Grigori."

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"A pleasure to meet you Sergeant, I just wish we were meeting under better circumstances." said Eric shaking Grigori's hand. There was a bit of a pause while neither of them said anything. Eric then spoke up again "I was hoping we could discuss this matter a little more privately?"

Eric follows Grigori out of earshot of the reception area. "Thank you for seeing me. As you have already surmised, I came to discuss the case. I can't explain it, but something just isn't sitting right with me. So, I came here to offer my assistance to the police, and was hoping you would lend me some in return. While I am technologically apt, my investigative skills are... lacking. I'll help anyway I can, even if I'm just an extra pair of eyes."

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"Hey, that'll be appreciated," Sergeant Grigori replied as he lead RRG back to his desk, "the FCPD can always use an extra set of eyes. We may be able to use your tech know-how, too."

Grigori grabbed a large folder from his desk, though when he showed it to RRG there was surprisingly little in it, aside from information on the three victims. "Thing is, though, that we really don't have much to go on. The only thing we've found tying the three victims together is that they all used the Promenade for jogging, and all were attacked at night. Now, what was used on 'em," he flipped to the back of the folder and pulled out a sparse technical read out, "it was some sort of organic... something that ate through flesh and bone, clear through. The boys in the lab haven't been able to identify it, but they think it may be from a metahuman, maybe a teen who don't have control over their powers."

"I'm not sure that's the case, though," the sergeant continued with a bit of a sneer. "I think," he paused, looked around, then leaned in a bit closer to RRG, "I think it's aliens."

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Who says you can't find good help these days? pondered Eric for a moment, thankful that his mask was obscuring his face. Eric gave a grunt of understanding and nodded "Well it's definitely unlike anything I've seen before. I am hopeful that you're wrong about your... prime suspect, otherwise I could very well be over my head. But stranger things have happened, especially in this city. Thank you for your help Sergeant. I'll stake out the area to see what we're dealing with here."

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Sergeant Grigori snorts, then slaps RRG on the back. "Hey, that's the kind of spirit I like to see! You just watch yourself, capiche?"

He went back to reading over the file of the case, as well as some other papers on his desk. As RRG left, he could see the Sergeant rubbing/nursing the hand he'd used to slap the hero on the back.

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Not exactly an enlightening experience, but his heart is in the right place. Let's see if I can get to the bottom of this. Eric leave the police station and sets off. He wanted to scout the area where the attacks had occurred in the day time, to see if there were any clues. His visors functioned just as well at night as they did in the day, but seeing a hero out and about might put people's nerves at ease. And it would help if he found a clue when there were others awake to help him decipher it.

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As RRG flies over to the site of the attacks, his long-range sensors do detect something unusual: a "shiny" area on a tree, several dozen feet up from the ground. Once RRG reaches it, a closer examination reveals it to be a large (like, big enough to have completely covered an adult human) patch of translucent slime, with three mostly-dried 'streams' of slime running about halfway down the tree from the main patch (one straight down, and one on either side fanning out a bit).

This large patch isn't very far from the site of the most recent attack.

Investigating the sites of the three attacks, RRG finds nothing.

A general scan of the area finds more of the large slime patches up on several trees throughout the Promenade.

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RRG moves in for a closer inspection on the strange goo, and the pattern in made on the tree. "It's too much of a coincidence for this not to be connected to the murder cases, and it's high up enough that the police could have missed it easily. But with this many splotches around, we could be looking at something big here. Hrrmm. They don't stretch all the way to the ground, so they either dropped onto the ground, without leaving a trace, leaped up to the tree, or originated on the tree and stayed there. I'd better get a sample of this stuff to the police, see if they can make heads or tails of it." RRG took a vial from within his suit and gingerly scooped up some of the goo, and hoped this bad feeling in his gut was just from missing lunch.

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Eric always loved the acceleration on the rockets, the rush you get from going so fast is quite intoxicating. However, the thrill of speed is often dulled by the dread for someone's safety, and this is another one of those times. RRG lands just a few feet away from the jogger and covers the rest of the distance on foot. He puts a hand comfortingly on her shoulder "Ma'am are you alright? What happened here?" RRG scanned the area while comforting the woman looking for anything out of place. He made sure to keep a hand on her in case he needed to get her out of there in a hurry.

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"I-I was just running along," she says, still very upset, "w-when I almost tripped over-"

And then she turned slightly and vomited. A bit splashed onto RRG's left boot.

RRG's sweep of the area initially reveals nothing, but on the second pass he does just make out something: anther shiny patch on the tree closest to where the head lay. After studying it for a few seconds, RRG realizes it is not just a patch of translucent slime, it is a large mass of slime, a greenish blob of some sort with red splotches slowly climbing up the tree!

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RRG gently rubbed her back, try to calm her down. "It's okay. It'll be alright. Just give me a moment while-" and then RRG spotted the entity. He wrapped his other arm around the woman and tightened his grip with the other. "Hold on." he said firmly before lifting off and rocketing to the nearest building. He placed the obviously startled woman on the roof. "It's alright. Something's down there. Stay up here were it's safe. I'll be back before you know it, I promise." He took off again, going faster now that he didn't have the woman in his arms. He went back to where he had previously seen the creature, hoping it hadn't gone too far.

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RRG was quite unsure how to progress. But he tried the diplomatic solution first, even though he was feeling it was pointless. "Can you hear me? I have reason to believe you are connected with the recent string of murders. Surrender yourself immediately or I will be forced to take more drastic actions."

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RRg hung there in mid air for a moment. "Guess those upgrades were a little better than I imagined. Alright, I need the cops down here before I make a complete mess of things. RRG gets on his radio to contact the Sargent. "Yes hello, Sargent. I've got an update for you. In the area where the attacks have been occuring I discovered several slimy patches in the trees. I then heard a scream and found a female jogger who has just discovered the bloody head of what I assume in the 4th victim. Not far from the scene, I saw an amorphous creature composed of the same slime substance, and with red splotches inside of it, which I believed to be blood. I was forced to engage the creature, and it has been subdued, though I believe I may some destroyed some evidence in the altercation. Whatever these creatures are, they don't attack just at night, and if my earlier encounter is correct, they are mindless. We might need to quarantine the area until we know more about what we're dealing with, but this is your area of expertise. I'll stay in the area and keep a look out for more of the creatures."

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"What?" Sergeant Grigori shouted (his voice almost cracking), "You- wait... destroyed evidence? Aw, geez, man, the Lieutenant's gonna have my- wait, no, stopping these things is more important! Look, tell me exactly where you are, I'll send a team over to collect what they can. Do what ya can, but, hey, if you can wrangle one of these things for us, then-"

Someone on Grigori's end suddenly called for him, loudly, and he quickly hung up.

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RRG relays his position to the Sargent. That's why I'm not part of law enforcement. Perhaps I should have mentioned that the evidence was the creature itself? Hopefully they'll be able to match the goop on the rest of the trees to the compounds used to attack those people. But first thing's first, RRG takes off again and heads back to the roof with the jogger. "Sorry I had to do that. But there was something down there, it wasn't safe. Are you alright?"

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"Honestly, I'm not entirely sure. Something is at work here, and I intend to get the bottom of it, tonight. But for now, I don't think the place is too safe. Police and other heroes are on their way. But in the mean time, is there any place you can stay away from here? Until all this blows over?"

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