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angrydurf

The Games Afoot IC

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Date: April 12th, 2010

To the average citizen of Freedom City the recent string of thefts had little to connect them. Indeed several appeared to a be exceptionally subtle inside jobs others were brutal smash and grab attacks. The devices and materials stolen of course would be of great value to any bidder and it wasn't as if this kind of activity was unusual in Freedom at all. However there was a trace of something to the crimes that sat wrong with certain of Freedoms heroically minded. The targets were certainly valuable, but with the resources expended far vaster sums could be gained with theft of Art or jewels or other valuables. No this seemingly unconnected string of robberies were just too dissimilar. The numbers of robbers, the methods of entry, the targets themselves each too dissimilar for random happenstance. The very dissimilarities pointed to a guiding force behind the thefts. But who or what was truly masterminding the this and to what end?

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Doktor Archeville, Genius of Science!, had been following up on the recent string of thefts ever since he'd first heard of them. Crime of any sort was to be opposed, of course, but when said crimes involved high technology, he took a more personal interest. And these crooks were taking some high-end stuff.

From a researcher at Star Island, he learned that components from a recently downed alien spacecraft had been taken. The components may have been part of the warp drive, or of some sort of emergency teleport system, but the eggheads weren't certain.

A FCPD officer who owed Archeville a few favors (the Doktor had saved her niece while she'd been backpacking through France and was abducted by a madman attempting to build a cyborg army) let him in on something even more interesting. Confiscated gear from a secured evidence locker -- samples of Fear Master's gases and of Luna Moth's pheromones -- had been taken, but that was not the oddest part. The oddest part was that it had been taken by one of the District Attorneys... while he was simultaneously in court!

Oh, this is going to be very, very bad, I can feel it!

Or very, very fun!

"Vell, dis is all I can do from here," he said as he got up from the chair in his sub-basement laboratory and fetched his Gravimetric Belt from the recharging station. "Time to get out dere und do some footvork!"

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Randy Cash, otherwise (not quite yet) known as Carbon, found out about latest series of crimes from his old friends in bars. Not sure where they got all this information- probably via good old "my buddy once told me" way, but it seemed like something big. For one, the items in question werent exactly something you sell on the Black Market, so profit wasnt the main objective. And if not money, then something really bad. An two, the whole DA deal looked like a job of some... shapeshifter? Illusionist? Robot dupe? Whatever it was, definetely a villain.

Still riding in his cab (he really needs to find a better job), he waited for either a costumer or a call while thinking of a plan. They wont let him near Star Island, costumed or not, and meeting with DA is just as pointless. Maybe if he knew someone who was involved in this case, that would be a good place to start.

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The good Doktor was not having much luck finding out more information about the thefts, criminals were a rather closed mouth lot and while he had been able to pay off a few contacts most knew nothing he hadn't already learned. Certainly no further leads as to where the goods may have gotten. He did manage a small break when he learned that a sometimes small time thug and full time cabbie had been asking around about some of the same things. The drunk at the bar was happy to point out the cab as it sat parked next to a street vendor in exchange for a enough cash to keep him well pickled for the next few days.

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Oh, I have been meaning to check out the city's public transportation options! We cannot make big changes to the world if we ignore the smaller, day-to-day elements!

I am not riding in that!

Oh, come on -- it will be fun!

This is not my idea of 'fun'!

"Taxi!," he called out as he jogged across to the idling vehicle. "Taxi!," he repeated once he reached the door, opening it and peering inside, "you are open for service, ja?"

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A costumer just in the middle of investigation... or rather, attempt to try to start one, or find some way to start it. Then again, one more didnt really hurt. Plus, this guy looked awfully familiar, as if he saw him somewhere.

Sure, why not. Where to?

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"Greenbank Shopping Center," the man said as he climbed in, "please."

Randy realized where he'd seen this guy: on tv and in the papers, talking about science-y stuff here and there, but most recently about a new technology center opening in Hanover. Randy knew some of the guys who'd worked on the constructions crews for the place, and remembered they said the job paid well, but there'd been a lot of specialized equipment needed for some of the work, for containment rooms and the like.

Ugh, what is that smell?!

I do believe it is a mix of-

On second thought, I don't want to know!

"Oh, do you haff a newspaper I might borrow? I vas in de middle of an article, but left mein copy at de office."

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Greenback shopping center, gotcha.

And so he started the car toward the closest route to said destination. Meanwhile, he started to remember why he knew this guy so much- he was everywhere, from magazines, newspaper, TV to mouths of people in bars, mostly construction crews that worked on his many project. Dr Archeville, a real legend in his own cab! He quickly passed him the newspaper, the one he just stopped reading not a long while ago.

Here you go, sir. And yes, he could act nice for a while, even if that guys accent was unbearable at times. Maybe he could quietly ask him a few questions that could help?

So, I heard about all those recent thefts in the city. Im not exactly a tech-specialist or anything, but who in their right mind would steal some random parts anyway?

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Ah, he does know something! I bet he worked on one of the heists!

Or he could be doing his own investigation to find out what is going on.

Oh, of course he was in on it! Look at him! Look at that face!

"Dey are not dat random, really," the Doktor said as he casually glanced over the paper. "Most of de items stolen could make somevon into qvite an effective super-criminal. Or are part of some existing supervillain's schemes. True, de resources und manpower expended already could be better used for simpler, more immediately lucrative heists, und dat is vhat concerns me -- if dey are going to all dis trouble for dese specific component, den vhy? Vhat is de long-term goal?"

"For example," he continued in a very nonchalant tone, "from Star Island some components from a recently-downed spacecraft vere taken, components vhich could be made into a man-portable teleportation system. Dat vould be useful for anyone, especially if it utilizes heretofore unknown technologies, und de teleportation cannot be blocked by de teleport denial systems used by certain high-end security firms."

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Alas. this has proved to be a good idea after all. He sure was talkative though.

Teleportation that cant be stopped? Heh, this is like 60's all over again.

Today they can as well, but it has to be a BIG gun. And even that doesnt guarantee a success. Maybe it was a good time to mention the other theft? Randy discreetly took the wrong turn just to make the journey and conversation a little longer (out of modesty, he'll cut that from the fee).

I heard rumors about that the other day, some District Attorney look-alikes. Years ago they'd say its long lost evil twin, but even a small cab driver can name at least five shapeshifters in Freedom City alone. Actually, he couldnt name more then two, but thats beside the point.

Think there'll be more of them? Thefts, I mean.

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Why'd you say anything aboutt he Star Island heist? That's not public knowledge! Now he knows we know!

And now we can work together on the case!

Pfah! What can this cab jockey do? Replace their getaway driver and hit them with a huge bill?

"Oh, I am sure dere vill be," the Doktor said as he skimmed the stock quotes, "criminal elements like dese are symptoms of far greater evils, such as inadequate education und psychiatric und psychological counseling."

"I had heard about dat particular crime," he said after a moment's pause, "de doppelganger stole some dings from de evidence lockers. Gases dat could be used to turn people avay, or turn dem to your cause. Also qvite useful for any up-und-coming supercriminal, or as part of some larger und more convoluted scheme."

He folded the paper neatly and laid it across his lap. "I noticed you took a wrong turn back dere," he said calmly, "und it appears you are about to take anozher wrong turn. Dere are two reasons you vould do dat: either you are new to de job und do not know vhere you are going, or you are intentionally trying to drag dis ride out. Given de state of dis vehicle, de personal idiosyncrasies in it such as de vay de steering vheel is slightly deformed due to de vay you grip it, und your ease in handling a taxi driver's duties, I vould theorize dat you are not new to de job. So, vhy de delay? If it is merely to expand de fare, I shall be quite irritated...."

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"Damnit, why is this guy so perceptive? You're a damn geek, you're supposed to be all over Star Trek and computers to notice stuff around you!" was what Randy wanted to say, but resisted. Still, it was a little too close for comfort.

Oh, sorry about the detour, must've slipped my mind during conversation... so yeah, this one's free then, as an apology. Few bucks wont save him anyway. Not that he even gets much money from this job at all- most of his funds are spoils of crimefighting that couldnt be brought back to original owners. He wasnt nice enough to donate to charities on daily basis... yet. Maybe he should find an orphanage and start investing in it, like in those movies?

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A free ride is not all you shall give me! Tell me all you know!

Go easy, easy!

"No, no, I shall pay a fair amount for de ride," the strange Doktor replied. "In fact, I vould pay a fair amount for any further information on dis string of high-tech robberies. Do you know anyding more? Or know somevon who knows somevon who vould know? I ask not just out of professional curiosity und concern, you see, but also personal safety."

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"Who is this guy? No, really, who is he?" Even though it had nothing to do with common sense, Randy... no, Carbon felt that he could get some more leads from following that man. So far he seemed to know and be able to figure out a lot then he could. The only thing he lacked right now, was a direction to people that might know more. This couldnt be a mere coincidence.

Personal safety? You're one of superheroes or what? Actually, that didnt sound all that far-fetched. But if you insist, I do know a few people here and there and this job doesnt really pay. Thats right, pretend to be greedy (he was, but only a little), it should be convincing enough.

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Ah, just as I suspected: see how he jumps at the mention of money? If his services can so easily be bought and sold, he must be a criminal, and probably in on these heists!

Or he could simply be looking to make ends meet; he is right in that public transportation servicemen do not make much of a living wage. And if he has useful information, why not make recompense to him?

"Superhero? Vell, some haff called me such... I haff put out a few fires, saved a few lives... however," he leaned forward a bit, "in addition to de advanced technological tools I use in mein crusades against villainy, I am also de CEO of von of the top technology research und development companies in de city. So not only is mein company a potential target for de criminals behind de recent series of heists, but so am I, if diese criminals decide to start going after people actively using advanced technology."

"So," he reached into a pocket on the inside of his labcoat and retrieved a small clipped bundle of cash, "take me to who you know, und I can make it very worth your time."

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Using those few seconds while standing on the light, he looked over the bundle of cash that could be... no, will be his, on top of that he'll get more clues to solving this case. Two birds on one stone.

My customer is my master. that said, he grabbed the money and changed the direction. There are few places we can check out. Some places a guy like you would probably avoid even in broad daylight.

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'Master'... I like the sound of tha- Hey! What's this guy think he's doing?

Just... just let him have it, it will get him more on our side.

No, it'll mark us as an easy target, a patsy! You don't give the pay-off until after they give the info, and even then I wasn't going to give him that whole clip's worth!

That was one of the small clips, it is no great loss. And in many cases, the informant is paid first, before releasing information.

... this stinks!

"Oh, you may be surprised at some of de places I haff gone," he said as he leaned back. "But I do hope your leads prove useful. I vould hate to dink I just made a bad investment in you, Mister... ?"

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They pulled up in front of a dingy store-front, the dirty windows barred and glinting with aging neon proclaiming "Quality Goods."

As they entered a chime sounded and the proprietor came forward through a curtained door behind the counter to look to the pair with a crooked grin. The Finn was not an attractive man by any standards, his slightly pinched face and receding hairline lending an appearance of having been designed in a wind tunnel not helped by the open collar and assortment of gold plated chains around his neck like some mardi gras reveler gone horribly horribly wrong.

Randy knew him to be on the forefront of fencing high tech goods. A delicate game he played keeping him out from under the thumb of the established mobs and cartels. If he wasn't moving product he knew who was and often where, though he'd been just as baffled by the robberies as Randy when they had last spoke. One of the Finns more endearing characteristics, at least for their current project, was a willingness to sell just about anything for the right price. With the Doctors bankroll they just might manage to jog the canny fences memory for something useful.

The weaselly man flashed a too wide smile full of nicotine stained teeth their direction and welcomed them, "Randy, its been too long." He astutely eyed the Doctor with a feral intellect far exceeding his seemingly meager surroundings, "And you brought a customer. How can I help you sir?" the flash of recognition had been quickly stifled but he certainly knew exactly who was in his shop.

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Randy. Randy Cash. answered with a smile and proceed to drive to the place of many answers, except he didnt know the questions. His costumer did, though.

***

Finn was one of those guys who could be easily taken out by police, if they were shown this place. But for all the illegal things he did, he was way too useful as informant to be left to authorities.

Not as long as I wanted. answered sarcastically My friend here not sure if he should say his name, so he skipped it is looking for some stuff that might be lying around the street. And you seemed like the best person to check out first.

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The Finn nods and shoots Archeville a too wide smile, "Ah a man of discriminating tastes. Excellent." he said too smoothly. Focusing on the good doctor more fully he inquires, "And what kind of quality goods may you be looking for today mister ...?" despite the cluttered store and greasy demeanor there was teh light of a keen in feral intelect behind the fences eyes.

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Ugh, out of one olfactory assault and into another!

Needs must when the devil drives.

Bah! And- oh! Look at the condition the items are in! This is criminal!

That is not the only criminal element here, I am sure.

Pfah. You keep an eye out, I'll do the talking.

Archeville's eyes swept the room, his amazing mind cataloging every item within. Then he looked to "The Finn" and gave him an equally quick-yet-thorough glance.

"Doktor. I did not spend several years at HIT just to be called 'Mister'. But you already knew dat, ja?"

"I seek information, regarding a recent string of heists. Heists dealing mit advanced technology, such as vhat vould be found in a downed spacecraft at STAR Island, or a supervillain's gear kept in an evidence locker."

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The Finn grinned up at the doctor, "Ah yea, I thought I recognized you." He said with a shrug, "Bucha can't be too careful ya know?" He added his beady eyes flicking to Randy.

He slid out from behind the counter and made his way tot he door where he flipped the open sign and locked the door before pointing back to the back room, "Why don't we retire to more comfortable quarters." He said with a slimy grin as he made his way to the back.

After Randy and the Doctor followed he flipped a switch on the wall and a high pitched hum filled the room. The Finn took a seat behind a slovenly desk stacked high with the detritus of many days fast food lunch. "So what in particular are you wanting to know doc?" His eyes flitted to Randy, "Who's dime we on here, Randy?" he gestured to a pair of filthy chairs of dubious stability that sat before the desk.

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Randy pointed at Doctor Archeville, sitting on the chair.

Hey, dont look at me, I just brought you a client. Not that I could afford you with my salary anyway.

That is, unless we count the latest tip, but he doesnt need to know that.

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When "The Finn" sat and flipped that switch, Archeville glanced down at the wondrous techno-wand in his labcoat's inner pocket.

Oh, you greasy little man!

Oh, what now?

'What now'? Look! The E.S. commlink's down, which means we're in a jamming field, and a fairly potent one at that!

Oh my... and that is not something that would be easy to come by.

No. No, it isn't.

The Doktor looked to the taxi driver, then to the store's owner. "You haff already told me much, Herr Finn, merely by allowing me into dis shoppe. De layer of dust on your merchandise, as vell as its generally grimy condition, tells me you are not a very successful pawnbroker. Und yet, you are able to afford a fairly potent communications blocker, von dat vould render any bugs or listening devices inoperative. Vhich tells me you do have a steady source of income, von you do not vant certain people to know of. Und it probably involves vhatever is under dat concealed door over dere," he finished, pointing to a small not-as-cluttered spot.

"Now, I see two options for you, Herr Finn. You can either tell me everything you know about de recent string of heists involving ultra-technology, de theft of de spacecraft components from Star Island, und of vhat appeared to be de DA stealing samples of Fear Master's gases und Luna Moth's pheromones from an evidence locker..."

Archeville had been inching closer to the Finn, and was now practically looming over him.

"... or ve find out just mad dis scientist can get. I saw a 1976 Magnavox console in de back; did you know de cathode ray tubes on dose old sets can be used to make a fairly potent energy veapon?"

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The Finns eyes slid to the concealed door then back to Archeville. "So that's how its gonna be eh?" He asked as his gaze flitted to Randy for a second before settling back to Archeville.

"Wish I could tell ya more but I don't know mucha anything about it. If I did I woulda sold it along time ago cus lotsa folks want to know." the Finn replied blandly, "What I can tell ya is not of that stuff has hit the market anywhere." And randy knew the Finn was hooked in globally so that meant NO WHERE. The shifty fence sighed, "Only other thing I know is there ain't been no one hired for a single one of these jobs so its either a solo act or someone with their own crew no one knows."

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