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The Mark of Death (IC): [GM]

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Freedom City's theater district was home to some of the best night life in the city. There were clubs, bars, and even a Dave & Busters. New places came and went every so often. Some were closed down as they were broken up for allowing underage drinking; others simply could not break even in the recent unstable economy. But every so often, there were a few places that became a stunning success.

One such place seemed to have opened overnight. Mark's Family Restaurant and Bar quite literally did just that. No one had ever heard of it before. The property it took over was deserted the night before, and newly renovated the next. Maybe no one had noticed it due to the lack of the, "Coming Soon!" signs that usually surround this type of event, or maybe it was something else more mysterious... Whatever the reason, one thing was clear: Mark's Family Restaurant and Bar would clean out the other places in town rather quickly if the success of its first night was any indication of things to come.

A week had passed since its opening, and already two businesses had closed because of the pressure the neighborhood was feeling. To make matters worse, the Wednesday morning news reported another mysterious death. That made the second one since Mark's had opened. Both victims middle aged men that had recently been customers at Mark's, but the police had found that the restaurant was not at fault for the first death. There was no overdose of alcohol in the man's system, and he had not sustained any obvious injuries. He had simply dropped dead during his walk home. They hadn't even found any evidence of poison in his system. They were still investigating the second death.

It is currently Wednesday afternoon in Freedom City. A bright and shiny day, not to mention hot as hell. Four of Freedom's Heroes would soon find this mystery a difficult one to solve as they began their investigation. There was no such thing as a slow night at Mark's Family Restaurant and Bar, as good a place as any to start their investigation!

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Rycon lay down on the roof of her building in West End. Chris had said that they would be patrolling today, and to watch for the Pitchoo. It seemed like an eternity to wait for, and the constant yelling from Danielle did not help. "You shouldn't be on the roof! What if you fall! What's so important about being up there?!" Ashley's cousin was being really protective of her, and that was understandable, but it was really dragging on for a long time. Rycon hasn't gotten badly hurt yet, so she isn't that concerned.

Her mind snapped into reality when she hears a clang to her right. A ladder knocked into the building. Danielle was now determined to get her cousin down. "Where are you Chris?!" she thought in fear.

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Geckoman had put the autopilot on, and was reclining in his seat eating Thai noodles and singing along to the radio.

"On the floor of Tokyo

Or down in London town to go, go

With the record selection

And the mirror's reflection

I'm dancing with myself"

Flicking a couple of switches, the ship turned towards Rycon's home. The green airship lowered down, headlights illuminating the roof as the walkway slid down to rest upon it.

"When there's no-one else in sight

In the crowded lonely night

Well I wait so long

For my love vibration

And I'm dancing with myself"

Chris continued singing as he strolled down onto the roof. "Someone call for a cab? Got a reservation here." He continued eating his noodles pensively. "Mmm... Thai food."

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Danielle was surprised at the arrival of the green ship, she was almost at the roof as well. Using this opportunity, Rycon made a dash for the ship, giving Geckoman a high five in the process. "Your reservation is here," she said to the green gecko as she made a turn to her cousin, "Sorry Sis, I'll hopefully be back before dark!" And she hopped in the Pitchoo, leaving Danielle just as she got on the rooftop.

Relieved that she got away from her cousin, Rycon relaxed in Geckoman's ship, having a few noodles herself. Considering the lack of any leads Geckoman may have, Rycon said, "Geckoman, I've heard through Sis about two deceased people who were recently at that new restaurant. 'Mark's Bar' I think it was? She wasn't able to get much off from Danielle about the news. Ashley was lucky to even get a notice about the dead people. Often she would need to look through her cousin's police notes to get info, and Danielle was not one who liked to spread info away, especially to her younger, superhero-posing cousin. "Maybe we could start there?"

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The TV wasn't very interesting right now. Mommy had switched the channel away from Freedom Friends and over to the news. And Susie Carmichael, like every six year old girl, knew that the news is boring. TV is meant for watching cartoons, silly adults. And Mommy wasn't even watching! She was talking on her phone, not even listening to the newsguy talk about some new hero.

"We're here at the Silas Valley Coal Mine where not minutes ago the crisis involving a group of miners trapped by a mine fire was resolved. Here we have footage of a mystery hero coming down right on top of the mountain, right through to the mine shaft where the miners had been cornered. This hero then carried out the miners and somehow put the fire out. From the descriptions we are getting its possible that this is rescuer is the rumored "Pharos" that has begun operating recently. The Silas Valley Coal Company reports that thanks to the hero, the mine will be operational again by the end of this week. In other news police are still baffled as to the cause of the mysterious deaths surrounding Mark's Family Restaurant and Bar...."

Not that Susie was listening. She already had a favorite superhero, and she didn't really understand a lot of what the newsguy said anyway. Bored, she looked out the open balcony door of the apartment her family lived in. The sight she saw instantly lifted her spirits. "Gekoman! Its Gekoman!"

Mommy sighed as she glanced over towards Susie. "No honey...they aren't talking about Gekoman. Now hush, Mom's on the phone..."

A big grin on her face, Susie used the unbelievable energy of a six year old to run out onto the small balcony, smiling and laughing as she waved towards the Pitchoo passing through the air a few blocks away. It was Gekoman!! The coolest, most awesomest hero ever! How couldn't she be excited!? She climbed up on the wrought iron railing, trying to get a closer look while waving wildly.

But one think six year olds are not known for is a keen sense of balance. Susie's stomach turned as she felt herself go over. She only had enough time to let out a soft yelp of surprise as she started falling towards the street twelve stories below. Only to let out another yelp as she felt herself land far too soon. Having fallen not five feet into a pair of strong arms. She looked up, squinting. She couldn't see the hero's face with the sun glaring behind it. Carefully the hero flew up to the balcony and set her down. She could see him properly now with a white and yellow costume on. The hero smiled warmly and put a finger to his lips before flying off. Susie smiled back and silently waved, understanding. Mommy didn't need to know about this. This would be their secret. Susie went back inside as her mom let her have the TV back, the news being over. Yeah. Living in Freedom City was awesome if you were six years old.


Well that was one more crisis averted, he thought with a grin. Pharos accelerated, a white and golden beam of sunlight that rocketed past the Pitchoo and into the clear afternoon sky high above Freedom City. He mentally reviewed what emergencies he was hearing about at the moment. There was hostage situation at an airport in France but The Arboreal was taking care of it. The Tiger and the Bear were limiting the damage of an earthquake along the Russia-China border. Anansi was busting a pirate ship off the African coast.

Pharos breathed a sigh of relief in gratitude for the rare moment when he could relax. It sounded like most of the emergencies he was picking up were already being handled by either local law enforcement or other heroes. For the moment at least he could afford to simply float here and feel the hot sun on his face. Still, he could feel something niggling at the sense of contentment he had right now. He overheard a comment as he had passed the Pitchoo on his way up here.

"I've heard through Sis about two deceased people who were recently at that new restaurant. 'Mark's Bar' I think it was"

He had heard about that at City Hall as well while he had been cleaning the hallways. There was pressure to find who was performing these seemingly "perfect murders" before too much word leaked out. Before people began to get frightened. What worried Pharos though was that he wasn't even certain he knew how to find out what was happening. But he did know he couldn't just sit by and do nothing. Concentrating for a moment, he felt himself warm all over as he was absorbed into the sunlight bathing him. In an instant he was floating above the theater district. Not nearly as busy during the afternoon than it would be later in the evening. But still pretty busy it looked like. He put a hand to his chin, rubbing thoughtfully. Now how to proceed...

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Geckoman frowned as a blip shot past the radar at high speed. Hmmm... that's odd. Should check it out.

"Yeah, we could go take a look. Any further information, like how they died, whether they died in the restaurant, etcetera, etcetera," asked the greenclad teenager as he reclined in his chair, sliding a few switches until the GPS was taking them to the restaurant. "Also, how easy is it to get reservations, I need to make a dinner date, and all I know of this place is that the food's good."

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Where Geckoman was watching the radar, Rycon looked through the window to see something flash quickly before her eyes. Her mind firstly ignored Geckoman's comment as she stopped eating her noodles, thinking, "Wait... Was that?" A lack of proof however, made it impossible to determine what, or who that flash of light was.

Coming back to answer Geckoman's question, "One person died on the walk home from the resturant. No evidence of poison or wounds could answer his apparently spontanious death. Heart attack maybe?" She reclined on her chair as well, while still looking through the window. "I could find no info on the second death."

Rycon had a twitching eye for a moment when Geckoman asked about reservations. "I would stay away from suspicious companies such as this. You wouldn't want to walk into a trap would you?" She didn't know much about Liz, other than that she and Chris were really close friends. Sitting back up, Rycon continued, "To answer your question, I know less than you do. It probably isn't the best time to make a reservation anyway."

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"Ok, I figure we should try to get in, investigate the food, maybe get some samples," mused Geckoman, scratching his chin as he finished up his noodles. "Then perform an in-depth chemical analysis. Look into the management."

"So, you wanna sneak in the back door or dress up fancy and walk in the front?" asked Geckoman with a grin.

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Rycon finished her own noodles as Geckoman spoke, "Get in, check the food, take the food, get out, DON'T eat the food. Sounds good." She kept it short and simple as they neared the restaurant.

She put a small smile at Geckoman's suggestion, eyes narrowing. "Why both do one when we do both at once?" She said sneakily. "You can head in there front door while I go from the back. I sneak better alone, and you're a much better party-goer so it works out. she spoke as she puts on her hat, ready to get to work.

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For once Aiko was out and about physically at night while browsing the net. Her wireless connectivity was good enough for it now, and she felt like she needed to actually do something outside the academy. The murders near that newly opened restaurant had caught her attention and the gynoid figured it was as good as any to look into. With any luck she wouldn't be the only hero on the scene so to speak, which would help (probably) to cover as many bases as possible when it came to necessary skill sets. And even if she did end up being the only one there, and in the end unable to make any headway, at least she could inspect the cuisine on offer. Artificial or not, she did have a sense of taste.

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"OK, then here's the plan," said Chris, pulling a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt on top of his costume. "I'm going to go in, sniff around the main bar and restaurant." He pulled a FC Comets jacket on top of that. "You go in the back, look around the kitchen. Poisons, drugs, illegal activity, that sort of thing."

He started moving to come down some distance from the bar in an alleyway. "We'll need to walk there to keep up the deception, but before we do: anything you think needs changed in the plan?"

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Rycon looked at the distance to the bar, then turned to Geckoman. "It sounds good to me, but do you think you can distract some of the people there? Just to lower the chances of being caught." She adjusted her hat to hide her face a bit. "Next time I see Trevor, I'll ask him for one of those masks he has." she said under her breath.

She took a look around the alleyway where they were landing. "Let's split up once we land. Do you have anything here that we can use to contact one another, just in case?" She buttoned up her coat from top to bottom.

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"I got a commlink and a cellphone," said Geckoman, tucking his utility belt under his shirt. "I'd rather you used a commlink, although I suppose a cell'l do in a pinch." He frowned.

"Mind you, I've only got enough commlink for me, so if you lack one, you're just going to need to ring me should something go wrong. Which it won't. Touch wood. I hope."

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Rycon looks at her options. "A cellphone could give away my location, and if you only have one commlink... I'll go without either, less weight on my back."

As the ship landed, Rycon got out first, she looked back at Geckoman. "See ya there. Don't be late." she warned him before taking off.

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"Yeah, sure," said Chris, waving her off, then pulling a baseball cap onto his head and strolling out onto the street. "Now... to Mark's."

As he walked to the restaurant, he surreptitously pulled a couple of Geckorangs out of his belt and slid them into his trouser pockets. Quicker access, dontchaknow.

Walking in the front door, he stood and looked around the bar.

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Entering through the front door took Chris into less of a bar and more of a restaurant. Apparently, this was the "family" side of the business. There were tables, and chairs; there were booths and benches; there was a doorway to the kitchen, and a counter at which to pay your tab. The whole place looked like a popularized diner. There were even goofy decorations on the walls and paper place mats to entertain the children with. For the older children that came to the restaurant, this section also sported the arcade complete with video games and even ski-ball.

One side of the room was bisected by a door way in the middle of the wall. This was the door that led to the rest of the establishment including the bar, bowling alley, dart boards, and all around more adult entertainment.

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"Oooh, swish," said Chris, wandering up to a nearby waitress with a smile on his face. "Scuse me, ma'am, but I wonder if you have a table for one. Just in the city on business, heard some good things about a new restaurant and came to check it out."He tipped his hat to the woman.

"Seems good so far, although I'll pass judgement after a snack." He widened his grin.

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