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Sandman XI

Life's Bazaar (IC)

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The night air was cool and crisp. Tomorrow would be the day love is celebrated. Some were doing their civic duty for their beloved Freedom City, while others were with their beloved. Though life does not stop for love. Six people will find that out tonight. They will not get to spend their Valentine's Day in this realm! The minute before midnight strikes and a jolts of pure magic zap our reluctant heroes where ever they are! If they don't see the jolts, they do see the accompanying bright light. A split second later they find themselves in a much warmer and a lot stranger place. It looks like something out of a renaissance festival. The street is made of cobblestone as are most of the buildings. They all stand together, next to each other in a circular fashion. As the multiverse waits for no one, they are dressed how they were when they left.

A wretched drizzle falls from the ash-gray sky. The crowded, rain-slicked buildings seem especially bleak and frightful this evening, hunched together beneath gloomy skies. A few lights burn in their windows, but mostly their shutters have been closed for the night. The scent of chimney smoke fills the air, and the din of water trundles from the rooftops, splashing into dark alleys and turning street gutters into rivulets. A sudden, plaintive cry for help from a nearby alley splits the evening air.

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Derrick blinked at his sudden change. While he was certainly confused and unsure of what was going on, he wasted no time in letting the energies inside him out again. The dark energy coalesced in the center of his chest, quickly spreading outwards to his extremeties as it melted away and destroyed the frail shell. A moment later, Derrick was gone and Dark Star was back.

"I don't suppose anyone has an idea or explanation for this?" he asked curiously. While he intended to wait for a reply, that plan was quickly ruined. At the cry for help, he acted without pause and quickly moved forward. Regardless of where they were, they were still Heroes and people needed them!

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Taking in his suddenly altered surroundings with a raised eyebrow, Jack of all Blades patted himself down, making sure everything was still attached in the proper places. He recalled registering a powerful blast of magical energy moments before, and now his energy sense felt oddly dulled. Can't feel the power lines, he frowned inwardly as he instinctively felt about for the city's ever-present electricity. Glancing at his similarly displaced comrades, all of them neatly arranged in a circle, the acrobat adjusted the collar of his greatcoat against the dreary rain. "Did we just... respawn?"

A response to Dark Star's question was cut short by a sudden scream, sending Jack sprinting after the cosmic hero without further thought.

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When the group comes to, they are greeted by a sight that will haunt their nightmares for the rest of their days: Jester is wearing an old Victorian style dress and seems to be in the midst of doing a can-can routine. He continues for a moment before he notices that he people on either side of him aren't moving.

He drops the dance routine, and places the back of his hand on his forehead as if to swoon. "Oh dear me. What foul machinations have been wrought against me so that I- uh... I... LINE!" shouts Jester to no one in particular. When no one answers, he pulls out a thick stack of papers labeled "Script" and hurriedly thumbs through it, muttering the occasional passage to himself.

"This scene isn't in here!" shouts Jester angrily, smacking the papers in front of him. "Is the director drunk!? What the hell?" He tears off the can-can dress (thankfully) and chucks them heedlessly away, now wearing something a bit more presentable, for him anyways.

But then the scream catches his attention. "Gasp!" says Jester as he cups his hand around his ear towards the source of the scream. Point high up in the sky he shouts "This looks like a job for: Barely-Guided-Rocket-Propulsion Man!" now suddenly sporting a giant red ACME rocket on his back and a full Evil Knievel getup. He lights the fuse and sets himself, but then the fuse goes out due to all the rain. "Awww." Jester hangs his head before shrugging his shoulders and sprinting down the alleyway with his arms spread wide, supplying his own "Woosh" sound effects.

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Colt had been just about to climb into bed when his vision went completely white. As a result, when he appeared on the street with the others he was in the midst of stumbling forward.

"What in tarnation?!" he exclaimed. He barely had the time to take in his surroundings. He was aware of Dark Star, Jack, and Grim standing near him. But there was someone else as well. Colt could only stare dumbly at the inane dance routine and the antics the followed. Only after he saw Jester charge heedlessly into the alley did he remember that he was barely dressed. Torn between wanting to find the source of the scream and needing to cover himself appropriately, he balked.

Standing in the rain and mud in his boxers looking frantically from side to side, sheer bewilderment spread across his face, Colt was quite the site to see!

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Mere seconds ago, Grimalkin had been sitting in bed, reading the February issue of Marie Claire, only to be unceremoniously dumped onto the muddy ground in her underwear and oversize Homsar T-shirt!

"Wah! What the hell?" It was really too much to take in at the same time, but at least there were a few familiar faces around...and one total lunatic for good measure.

"What in tarnation?!"

Seeing her boyfriend just shy of starkers, Grim leaped to his aid, conjuring up a baggy pair of sweatpants and a light windbreaker. "Honey, here! Magic pants, and a jacket!" She offered him the glamoured items of clothing, then turned to her own state of near undress, opting for her usual crimefighting outfit.

"Get dressed, then catch up with me!"

She raced in the direction of the cry for help, following the other heroes.

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"Thanks, babe!" Colt called, catching the clothes. Holding the windbreaker under one arm, he hopped into the sweatpants. He took of as fast as possible after the other heroes. He threw the windbreaker over his shoulders while on the run. "Reckon I'd just about kill ta be back'n bed bout now. An' hey!" Colt yelped, as he patted his side, looking for his pistol. "My guns ain't here. Oh this's shapin' up ta be real nice!"

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Doktor Archeville had been, as usual, working in his laboratory (on a new type of optical tweezer), when he'd taken a short break to grab a snack. In his right hand had been a plate of currywurst (grilled bratwurst with a curry-ketchup sauce), and in his left a Doppel bock lager.

But they were gone now.

... the hell?

It appears we have been subjected to some manner of spatiotemporal shift. Possibly transdimensional, too.

Yes, but where's my snack?! Transports are usually all-or-nothing; if it didn't bring our food, it shouldn't have brought our clothes, either!

The Doktor loeked around, taking a quick assessment. "Dar Star, Jack of All Blades, Jester, Colt, und Grimalkin. Vell, dere are vorse people I could be here mit-"

The shriek cut him short, and he leaped up to fly over the others to see what it was... and promptly crashed back down, forgetting that his gravimetric belt was hanging in its charging station, as was his electromagnetic screwdriver. Even his armored labcoat was absent; he'd thrown it in the washer after one of the lab boys at ArcheTech had bumped into him and spilled something fluorescent green and sticky on him.

But a lack of equipment would not stop a true hero or man of Science!

"It could be vorse, Herr Colt," he said as he ran by, "at least ve appeared here together, not scattered about!"

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As the motley crew rushed towards the sound of the carnage, they see what looks like two thugs with black and white painted faces, in the guise of a harlequin mask. The two are kicking a man in robes while he is down. "Stay away from the orphanage, you got that," one says angrily. A third thug who looks like he is supposed to be standing guard sees the heroes arrive. He warily draws his sword. "Bugger off," he loudly warns them, though there is a tremble in his voice. This catches the attention of the other two thugs. They too are shocked and awed at the site of the visitors! Drawing swords like their companion they start to back away. An enfeebled voice comes from the robed figure on the ground, "Help. Me."

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Jester skids to a halt at the mouth of the alleyway, somehow now dressed in a straight jacket. Pointing at the harlequin goons he shouts with complete sincerity "Stop right there criminal scum! You're about to be served a heeping double dip of justice!" Looking at the gathered heroes, Jester shoots them a vary wide smile with a double thumbs up. "C'mon, we can take these clowns!" he turns back to the harlquins and advances on them, laughing giddily.

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Dark Star didn't know who the clown was; presumably he was a 'hero' since he appeared with the rest. Just a really odd one maybe. Still, there was no need for this to get more violent. "Lower your weapons. There is no need for this to escalate any further." With a gesture, he altered the gravity around the attackers, just enough to raise them off the ground a little ways. "If you would be so kind as to come along quietly, we can avoid any further unpleasantness." He certainly couldn't shoot these fellows, so this was his best option until some of the others could tie them up. Then maybe Dark Star could get around to healing that poor fellow.

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Arriving at the alleyway, Colt saw the assault and frowned. "I reckon that ain't no way ta be treatin' a man. Even if'n 'e's wearin' a dress." Colt stooped and picked up a rock off the street. He began lightly tossing it into the air and catching it repeatedly. He didn't have guns, but he was still a crack shot with anything he could throw.

"Lower your weapons. There is no need for this to escalate any further." With a gesture, he altered the gravity around the attackers, just enough to raise them off the ground a little ways. "If you would be so kind as to come along quietly, we can avoid any further unpleasantness."

"I reckon y'all should listen ta the man." Colt backed up the gravity hero's words confidently. "Y'all don't wanna end up turned inside out now, do ya?"

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Coming upon the site of the altercation, Grim saw it was hardly an even fight; a few greasepainted hooligans beating up...a judge, maybe? Someone in a nightshirt?

"C'mon, we can take these clowns!"

At this, the young shapeshifter could only shake her head in mock-dismay. "I dunno; clown-on-clown violence rarely solves anything." Nonetheless, she took a defensive pose, ready to leap into action if need be.

Where the hell are we, anyway? The sounds and smells are way off; smells like that field trip to the dairy farm.

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Jack stepped into the alley between Jester and Colt. "Hey, Yakko, tone it down, huh?" The energies of the clown's outfit fluctuated wildly to the swashbuckler's senses, transitioning from the sound of a thousand springing pogo sticks to the smell of rhubarb and pineapple smores. Jack sighed inwardly. Chaos magic. Joy.

"Nice magic pants," he quipped to Colt before moving forward. "'Scuse me, 'Star." With a dramatic snap Jack pulled a tendril of the cosmic hero's gravitational powers to to his out stretched hand, a pitch black rapier of voidstuff forming there. He twirled it experimentally, smiling dangerously at its weight and heft. "Sword fights'd fall under my domain, yeah?"

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The group, except for Jack for some reason, easily notices a woman standing in the shadows of the rooftop. She too is painted in black and white harlequin makeup, but unlike the thugs in clothing, she wears a black leather body suit, something like armor. The thugs are suitably unnerved and angered when they are lifted off the ground. Though as they float down, the good Doktor alone notices it coincides with the woman on the roof chanting a few words.

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Jester buried both his arms up his elbows into his pants. He pulled out a long pole hand over hand and shooting a wink at Grim. After a moment, he pulled out a perposterouly oversize and unbalanced hammer, tipped in an inflatable squeeky head, to go with his now matching carnival barker get up. "Step right up, step right up. For one night only, you can see the wacky clown Wack a Clown." Jester charges in a frolicking gait after the goons, trying to set the new high score.

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"Well, howdy there, partner!" Colt smiled as he saw the girl on the roof. "I reckon we're 'bout ta rock yer world!"

Colt quickly jumped, put two feet on the alley wall, turned, and in mid air fired off a rock at the women's head.

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As the thugs were set back down, Jack's energy sense alerted him to wisps on mystical power countering Dark Star's intentions. Following them back to their source, he caught sight of the woman on the rooftop just as Colt pelted her with a rock. Cocking an eyebrow, the acrobat took a step back and charged toward the far wall of the alleyway. With a great leap, he somersaulted through the air, coming out of it just in time to plant his feet on the wall and spring off upward in the opposite direction. Arcing over those below, he repeated the move to launch even higher. His free hand shot out to grasp the edge of the wall just under the woman's feet, his momentum allowing Jack to flip himself up to stand next to her, gravitational blade held casually at his side.

"So," he said with a roguish grin, "come here often?"

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Ha! Not so high and mighty now, are ya, Dark Star?

This is hardly the time to gloat, and-

This is exactly the time to gloat!

Or we could use the time to see to the old man, tend his wounds.

... and be hailed as the real hero! Of course!

"Vatch out for de voman up dere," Archeville called as he looked to the old man, "she's an energy manipulator of some type, negated Dark Star's gravity field." From here the old man seemed badly injured, but a closer look would be needed for an accurate evaluation. As he prepared to move in, he searched his mind for any pertinent medical knowledge, especially tried and true folk remedies using materials which would likely be most common in this strange place.

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Not being very good at fightimng from a distance, as well as trusting her fellow Interceptors to handle the mysterious woman, Grim joined the German genius by the injured man.

"You need any help, Doc? If we need a stretcher or an operating table, I'm your girl."

From the looks of the locals, her crimefighting gear was somewhat out of place; thinking back on various fantasy and medieval films she's seen, she comes up with an outfit that she hopes won't stand out. Not overly concerned about her not-very-secret identity, she doesn't bother with a mask, since she doesn't want to look like a bandit.

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The two thugs fall easily to Jester's wacky antics as the third watches on. Not sure of what to make of it, he drops his blade and runs down a side alley into the darkness. The woman on the roof swats away the rock, it narrowly avoids her head, but it looks like she hurt her casting hand. She smiles and winks at Jack when he greets her. She looks past him down to his companion. He can sense the words are meant for him too, "Well done! But the cleric lives because we wish it so, not because of your misplaced bravado." She points a baleful finger at the robed man, "Take these words back to your temple, priest! The children are lost and no longer St. Cuthbert's concern." Turning back to Jack she bows politely before whispering a few arcane word. With that she's gone! The robed man looks around as if to make sure no one else but the brave souls that saved him are there. Pulling himself off the ground, he coughs a bit, apparently still reeling from the attack. "Thanks you kind sirs, for your help. If not for you i don't know how much longer I would have been accosted!"

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Bah! She got away!

Treat the wounded first!

Bah! How am I supposed to get out of here if I can't question prisoners to find out where and when here is?!

I am sure this elderly gentleman will gladly answer any questions once he is tended to.

Archeville ran up to the elderly man's side, "do take it easy, sir, let me check you out for any serious injuries." The Doktor gave the man a quick inspection, " dat vas qvite de beating you took! Vhy did dose men attack you? Und who vas dat voman up dere? She said something about St. Cuthbert -- is dis Northumbria?"

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"Well, I reckon we ain't in Kansas, anymore." Colt drawled, clearly not enjoying himself. As he stood next to Dr. Archeville and the older man, he looked about to make sure there were no more immediate threats to their group.

Finding nothing immediately threatening, he began to pick a few stones out of the bottoms of his feet. "Ya reckon they got shoes'n Northumbria, Doc?

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"Well, nertz," Jack groused once he was sure the woman he'd pursued to the roof was actually gone. "Teleported," he called down to the others. Releasing the gravimetric blade he's formed from Dark Star's power, the energy manipulator ran his fingers through the outline his metahuman senses found in the mysterious magic user's place. A minor application of will collected the wisps of power into a new sword, which the fencer examined for any clues as to the woman's nature.

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"You stole my line!" shouts a scandalized Jester at Colt. Jester is currently adorned in a full on Dorthy get up, the sight of which will likely leave you scarred for years. "Ah well, at least I have pants!" taunts Jester as he straightens his fedora, now in his classic suit get up. Walking up to Doctor Archeville Jester bends over and whispers in his ear "Not trying to do your job or anything, but I think it's pronounced 'Narnia', just a heads up."

The robed man looks around as if to make sure no one else but the brave souls that saved him are there. Pulling himself off the ground, he coughs a bit, apparently still reeling from the attack. "Thanks you kind sirs, for your help. If not for you i don't know how much longer I would have been accosted!"

"Don't mention it sir, if anyone can stop a punchline it's me! heheheHEHEHEHAAAHAHAAHHAA!"

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