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Date: June 2010

 

 

The monthly Interceptors meeting had gone well enough, for all that no one on the team cared overmuch about the business side of things. What really mattered was that their financing was going well, their publicity was at an all-time high, and in the wake of the Grue invasion, things were going very well indeed for the defenders of West Freedom.

 

Avenger had been bored through most of it, though he'd missed a couple of minutes to slip away and take calls from Phantom from that other dimension. Getting her and Jack Jr. out of the house but for their daily visits had been the right safety precaution after Dracula's attack, but it had given him free time: perhaps too much free time. You know what they say about idle hands... When he'd approached Dr. Archeville about testing the brownstone's security for him, he'd originally only planned to stay a couple of hours, but truthfully the sheer excitement of the moment had kept him around longer than he'd intended. It beat looking at a barely-used nursery.

 

Wonder if that means he'll pay me more...or _less_? Truthfully, maybe lurking around the Casa del Interceptor for a whole day and a night had been a little unethical. For Avenger, at least, it was really hard to sort out what was and what wasn't the right thing to do when it came to matters of privacy and watching people at night while they slept. He decided to split the difference and just let them know. Don't need to tell them who I'm working for, I guess.

 

Appearing in one of the empty seats at the table just as the meeting was wrapping up, Avenger waved. "Evening. Just popped in to let you know you need to fix your security systems. I'd recommend something that can monitor air movements."

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Colt bolted up from the table in surprise. He stood so abruptly, he sent his chair flying back from the table and crashing to the floor. In the blink of an eye he'd brought his large revolver to bear, pointed straight at the newcomer. "What in tarnation's-" Colt stopped himself.

Grim had told him about avenger following the wedding that they'd attended. After he managed to catch his breath, he let the gun down a little. "Jesus, Avenger. I reckon ya scared me half ta death. What'n th' blazin' hell're ya doin, droppin in'n us like that?"

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He's fast. Have to watch that. They all are. He debated the relative merits of dishonesty and decided to tell his fellow heroes the truth. Well, sort of. "Just doing some sub-contracting. Thought it rude to leave without letting know I was here." He raised his leather gloved hands. "All on same team, yes? Or close to it. Even came when you are all here, so none could feel awkward."

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Rounding about from his trip to the fridge, Jack of all Blades spewed a mouthful of orange juice all over the back of the suddenly appearing vampire's head. "Gah!" he coughed, wiping his mouth with the back of his free hand and setting down his glass. Abruptly realizing that he wasn't wearing his mask, he scrambled to grab his bandanna and wig from his coat's pocket before admitting the futility of the gesture. "Dios, you're a creepy guy, you know that? Man, I'ma have to start wearing this thing when I sleep now..." he groused. Avenger was definitely not on the list of people he was comfortable revealing his true appearance to, even if his face would presumably mean little to the undead hero.

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In a flash, Grim had leaped up on the table and flicked out her claws in a low crouch, eyes wide and teeth slightly bared.

"Just doing some sub-contracting. Thought it rude to leave without letting know I was here." He raised his leather gloved hands. "All on same team, yes? Or close to it. Even came when you are all here, so none could feel awkward."

"Goddamn it, this it not cool, man!" She just managed to stop herself from blurting out 'Jack', which was another good reason to avoid hanging out much with Avenger. Then a thought crossed her mind, and she looked even more pissed.

"Wait, you're not even gonna tell us who you're spying on us for...or how long you've been here? No, nothing awkward about that, 'Venger!"

The tiny shapeshifter stood up on the table, and suddenly a sinister black vapor seeped out of her skin as her eyes went from dark brown to burning crimson as she crossed her arms tightly across her chest.

"Get the **** out of here, V; you're not welcome here today." :evil:

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Stupid humans and their autonomic responses to stress. With a deep sigh, Avenger took off his mask and squeezed it, juice dripping between his fingers. What the hell, Grimalkin would surely tell them all anyway. His voice maskless was, as usual, very different than the way he talked, and carried himself, with the mask on. "You didn't ask me that, Lynn. I've been here most of the night. And the day, I wanted to see if I could get in with the sun up." Despite himself, he smiled, just a little. "And I can. Anyway, would you rather I just have snuck around while you slept and not told anyone?" He shrugged, already rising to his feet. "I don't know about you, but that seems more dangerous."

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Colt holstered Jericho by his side, but kept his hand on the pistol. Anyone who knew him knew he could have the gun out and fired before a quarter second had passed. "Avenger, I reckon I gotta go wit' Grim'n this'n. I'm thinkin' ya should be git'n'n yer way."

Colt was frowning, sorely displeased. We're gonna be extednin' this here meetin' soon's he's outta here. Reckon we outta have a few words with VINCE 'bout security's well. Colt thought to himself.

"We do thank ya fer the tip, partner. Now, if'n ya don't mind?" Colt raised his left hand, and gestured with strained politeness towards the front door of their house, "I'll be showin' ya out."

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Eli choked down the last bit of pizza he had been munching on when Avenger had made his dramatic appearance. Unsure if this was a regular occurance or not, he merely said "Lolwut?" before watching what everyone else did. When it appeared things were heading south, he decided to step in to stop the blood shed. "Woah woah woah. Wait a second here. Now I'm going out on a limb here and assume that Avenger is a little sharper than a bowling ball. Why would he come knocking on a door that contains like 5 of the most powerful dudes in the whole city if he knows it's just gonna get them mad? That don't make a lick of sense right there. So hows about we give Avenger here a chance to explain himself, without beating around the bush this time, before we stomp all over the dude's head huh? Btw, that was me calling dibs."

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Fulcrum mumbled to herself as she keyed into the house. Not only was she late for the meeting, but her costume was a mess. To top it all off, her left eye was the biggest shiner she'd had in years. "Late for the first meeting. Great way to start..."

She stopped and looked around the scene unfolding before her. The tail end of Dynamo's auctioneer intervention registered, as did the generally pissed off demeanor of her new teammates and the presence of Avenger. Or as she liked to joke, the Dracula-Jason Love Child. Never to his face of course.

"Sorry...I'm late? Did I miss something? Hi, Avenger." Taking in the silence, she motioned her intentions and slipped over to the frig. Her black eye was gone when she turned back, but the bag of ice still felt good.

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"Hey, Fulcrum. How's the old horsehead?" he asked obliquely, with the easy calm of someone not surrounded by several very powerful, very angry people. "I came here, doing some sub-contracting for a friend of all of yours," said Avenger, making a great show of popping his back, "to test the security of your house. Anyway, it needs some work. You guys are pretty good; I'd say you're about even with Freedom Hall, but you've got some weaknesses. If you still need to talk, I can go hang out upstairs and show you later?" He shrugged casually.

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The monitor next to the kitchen table sprang to life with a black and white image on a city street. Vince, the Interceptors' gregarious AI aide stood over a steaming sewer grate, trying in vain to keep his billowing white dress from blowing up to reveal a set of distinctly masculine, unshaven legs. "I feel so violated!" he blushed before snapping his fingers and reappearing in his customary talk show host suit, arms crossed and expression irritated. "I would've made the place airtight, but some people need to breathe, apparently." Exaggerated hand gestures displayed how unreasonable he found the demand.

"He's saying Dok A asked him to screw around," Jack of all Blades supplied flatly, giving Avenger a cool look. The swordsman wasn't sure if he was more annoyed that the vampire had so cavalierly invaded their privacy or that his metahuman awareness hadn't tipped him off throughout the day. "They belong to the same 'Pull Jerk Moves 'Cause We now Better That You' club. Pretty sure they have matching bowling shirts."

The lights in the entire room suddenly shut off, save for a single beam which spotlighted Vince's screen. The AI's avatar struck a melodramatic pose, puffy shirt and pantaloons marking him as a classical Shakespearean actor. "Betrayed by my very creator! Alas and alack!" The lights flicked back on and Vince spun a prop skull like a basketball on one finger. "Seriously though, as the guy who's body you're essentially sitting in right now? Get. Out."

Jack suppressed a smirk. Avenger probably couldn't tell but Grim and Colt at least would be able to recognize the AI imitating the swordsman's own mannerisms when he was well and truly angry. Vince was still growing, adding new emotions and responses to his repertoire every day. Jack suspected he was less enraged at Avenger than hurt that Archeville hadn't let him know about the test ahead of time. "You heard the man, Broodmeister," he agreed, moving to stand next to the monitor. "Get packing."

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Do people a favor and see what you get. "Okay," said Avenger, all easily affable, if slightly baffled, cordiality. He really didn't understand these people at all, but it seemed like the incomprehension was mutual. That, and everything else, made it all right. Would they be this paranoid if they weren't hiding something? He reminded himself, again thinking about human behavior, that that was probably not the case. The Interceptors were not plotting to murder him and his family in their sleep. Probably. Superheroes in Freedom City didn't do that sort of thing. Anymore. Much. "I'll write something up this week and mail it to you, then, in case your friend is slow to get back to you on fixing the place?" He looked around, evidently waiting for a response.

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"Hmm." Colt scratched his chin thoughtfully, "No, I reckon that ain't no good."

A sly smile played across his face. An idea had occurred to him. "Ya c'n write yer report. But I ain't lettin' ya take the easy way out. Come back at the end'a th' week. We'll work on beefin' up security in the meantime. I reckon we'd be happy ta see yer report, if'n y'all c'n git in'gain."

Hands on his hips, Colt gazed at the rest of the room. "What'a'ya say, gang? Think we c'n keep this here creeper outta our house next time?"

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"He's saying Dok A asked him to screw around," "They belong to the same 'Pull Jerk Moves 'Cause We Know Better That You' club. Pretty sure they have matching bowling shirts."

Grim had cooled down quite a bit, as was her wont; her anger burned brightly, but the fire usually didn't last too long. Jack's comment prompted her to slap her forehead and chuckle ruefully.

"Oh God, of course! Why wouldn't he hire someone to spy on us; he can't do it 24/7 himself, he has to sleep sometime!"

She look up at the ceiling and slowly shook a fist. "If you didn't pay me so darn much, sometimes I..." Her voice trailed off into a series of grumbles as she hopped off the table and moved to Colt's side.

"What'a'ya say, gang? Think we c'n keep this here creeper outta our house next time?"

With a flick of her wrist, Grim held a long wooden stake, which she expertly twirled in her fingers. "Sure, I'm game for a rematch." She smiled at Avenger, and it was a curious thing; the anger was still smoldering underneath, but there was also a puckishness and the hint of a playful challenge. The stake poofed away into vapor almost as soon as it appeared.

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Eli just throws his hands up at all of this being discussed. "Part of me wants to plant a super sonic foot up the good Doctor's keester, I ain't gonna lie. But, boss man does foot the food bill, so I can't complain too much." says Dynamo as he tosses down the empty pizza box, along with the 2 others he had personally polished off that same evening. "That ain't gonna stop me from enjoying the visual though brosefs. Besides, 'Venger here knows turnabout's fair play right?" smiled Dynamo, oblivious to the nerve he just stomped all over.

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"Aw, nertz..." Jack groaned as Dynamo mouthed off to Avenger. "Zippy? Quiet time now, m'kay?" His expression promised an explanation at a later time. Turning to Avenger, he gave the vampire a reproachful look. "Man, you know you'd be ticked if somebody snuck into your house. C'mon, there's no way you're this thick. You seriously don't get why we'd be upset?"

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Fulcrum rolled her eyes, but still smirked, "Fine. Same as usual: rattled. How is the Addams Family?"

Besides that little nugget, Fulcrum simply listened to the conversation unfold. That the group was actually responding to Avenger's innuendo was what really bothered her. What was done was done, but letting him get under their skin wasn't helping. The look on her face suggested annoyance more than anything else.

When the stake came out, she took two long steps and gently put a hand on Grim's shoulder. Addressing the room, "Okay, folks, I think that is enough provocation for today," she began firmly, looking at each person in turn, "A good game of 'King of the Hill'' would do us all some good."

"That being said, thank you for your services, Avenger. The Interceptors have a lot of new material to consider," came a more polite reply as she opened the front door. "See you at the end of the week. My apologies on the rush..."

Thinking a moment, she added, "About the same as Freedom Hall? Not bad. Not bad. You're good."

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"I'll be back here in exactly a week," said Avenger evenly. "And I'll make my own way out," he added politely, wrapping the mask around his face again. "Seems fitting. Lock your doors. Can't stress that enough." He looked around at all of them, his face hard to read behind his mask. See how it goes from here. And with that, and with all of them looking, he was simply gone.

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"Alright, Interceptors." Colt was the first to speak up. "Fer the next week, I reckon we should put this place on lock down. If'n one'a Freedom's Hero's c'n get'n her, y'all c'n be sure we're a sittin' duck fer villains."

Colt turned to the display of VINCE still showing on the TV. "VINCE, I reckon we should get printouts'a th' brownstone'n th' Underground. Maybe if'n we c'n see what we got we'll have a better chance't stoppin' that creep from gettin' back in here."

Turning to the teams newest members he adopted a more sympathetic face. "Sorry y'all had t'see this. It usually don't go down this way. But I reckon he's right. We need'ta fix this here place up. Y'all're up't it, right?"

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Grimalkin shakes her head at Avenger's patented disappearing act. "God, he can be so annoying!" Then she turns to Fulcrum and shows that her hands are empty. "See, no implements of vamp destruction here! If I really wanted him dead, I'd find a way to kill him...and would then be horribly killed by Phantom, so everybody loses."

She sighed as she parked her butt up on the table. "So does anyone think we have half a chance of catching him next time?" She threw a playful flirty glance over her shoulder to the monitor screen. "Vince might have a chance, because he's awesome..."

"Sorry y'all had t'see this. It usually don't go down this way. But I reckon he's right. We need'ta fix this here place up. Y'all're up't it, right?"

The shapeshifter laughed gleefuly, kicking up her feet.

"Whaddya mean, it always goes down like this!" She leans forward and address the two newest members. "Guys, it's about time you found out the sad truth that your new team sucks."

She winks and hops off the table dramatically.

"But the important thing is, we all work together, and somehow, as if by magic, we kick the world's ass and make it right. And then we don't suck and are, in fact, awesome."

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Dynamo looked around at everyone. "I'm gonna be stuck hammering alota nails this week ain't I? But hey, maybe we can use me as the test dummy for the security. I can hack the systems if I just plug in all the combinations for passwords. And I even figured out this little t-r-i-c-k." the last word wavered and resonated oddly, as Dynamo's body vibrated at extreme speed. The outlines of his body became blurred as he takes a few steps forward until he is standing literally in the table. "P-r-e-t-t-y c-o-o-l h-u-h?" Stepping back out of the table, and turning normal "So, seriously, what line did I cross this time Jack?"

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On the monitor, Vince waved Grim's joking flirtation away. "'Malkie, please, not in front of the guys!" The AI frowned, simulated brow furrowing in thought "Hurm, we can probably get the Underground itself sealed and running on an isolated air supply, but for the brownstone..." A bright yellow helmet appeared on his head as he unfurled a blueprint. "Time to get outside the box, boys and girls."

"That's where we live, buddy," Jack drawled, before being distracted as Dynamo walked through the solid table. "That's... that's actually pretty good." Looking back up at the speedster, he shook his head briefly. "Sorry, Zippy, that wasn't a 'you put your foot in your mouth' shush, it was a 'stop before he feeds you your foot' shush. Avenger has a history of skirting the line between good taste and first degree manslaughter, especially where his home and family are concerned." The swordsman shrugged. "Which I get."

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"So its a good thing I didn't immediately set out to go find his house and leave him a cheeky note. Good to know." mused Dynamo over his shoulder as he dug through the fridge looking for something to drink. Pulling a bright blue carbonated concoction out of the now organized fridge he continued "And as for the whole table trick, it's something Vince came up with last week. I wanted to see what else I could do with the speed stuff. Turns out if I precisely vibrate my molecules I can phase through solid matter. It's actually alot easier to do than it sounds brosef. Takes quite a bit of concentration and I can't do much other than run around while I'm doing it, but hey, really screws with drunk people so it all works out."

Taking a swig of his drink he turns his attention to Grim "So, you got any plan beyond "be awesome"? I think we got that pretty well covered already."

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Colt had kicked out one of the kitchen chairs and sat in it, watching the conversation unfold. He held his head up with his right hand, which he braced against the table top. Nodding at things he agreed with, and staying silent when it was more prudent. He gave Dynamo his apt space when he phased through the table. Wouldn't want him to start phasing through people.

Taking a swig of his drink he turns his attention to Grim "So, you got any plan beyond "be awesome"? I think we got that pretty well covered already."

"I reckon what Grim's tryin't say's that we always come up wit' somethin'. An' as fer this here predicament, I might just have an idea." Colt turned to VINCE's monitor. "VINCE, the MAVERIC an' my motorcycle take a large amount'a power ta keep up'n runnin, right? Not ta mention chargin' the fuel cells. Maybe if'n we deactivated them fer jus' this here week we'd be able't rout somma th' power they'd be usin' ta beefin' up th' security? It'd make fer a whole lot less mobility, but I reckon we could use th' boost."

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[beat]

*Facepalm*

Shaking his head with his hand still fully attatched to his face, Dynamo learned this was going to be a long talk. *Sigh* "Grim can ya do me a favor and explain to the cowboy here the wonders of electricity, and what exactly a dynamo is?" he asks dryly. Fighting back laughter he continued ragging on Colt "I say, boy you don't seem to be apprehendin' the general gist of what I'm trying to convey here. Maybe you oughta take a second, let your head catch up to your tongue before it gets all sunburnt. That was a joke, son, I say - a joke!" Holding up a hand he added to Jack, but still intentionally loud enough to be heard by everyone he added "Nice boy, but he's about as sharp as a sack o' wet mice."

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