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Raveled

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"Good plan, babe." Blake was ready to jump into action at a moment's notice. Their dates always seemed to intertwine with their work. Blake found that odd. It seemed as though the situations were planned ahead, or something. As though someone was in control of his fate. Blake shrugged. Whatever.

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Jessica gave Blake a peck on his cheek and slipped out the door, heading out into the night and making a beeline for her vehicle in its parking garage. Meanwhile, one of the suits was whispering to the woman in the gypsy get-up. The woman glanced over at Blake, sizing up the young man quickly. She stood up from her table and wove her way through the cafe, heading towards Blake's couch. She dropped lightly into the seat vacated by Jessica, smoothing out her skirt before speaking. She was shorter than Blake, curvy rather than thin, and her voice was rich and melodious. "Well well," she said, pitching her voice loud enough for Blake to hear her but quiet enough to be hidden from anyone else by Albion's music. "I usually don't attract such young admirers. Or are you someone I should be meeting here, hm?" She cocked her head, studying him more intently. "Are you the reason I'm here?"

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Blake almost jumped out of his seat! Lady Tarot! He had heard of her- she was rumored to work for Big Al Drigano, Freedom City's crime lord. He took a deep breath, and decided to keep it cool. He smoothed back his hair, and smiled at her. "I highly doubt that, ma'am. I'm just here with my girlfriend. She invited me to see this group Albion, and we're trying to relax and enjoy ourselves. Could you go and sit back with the men over there? She'll be back any minute."

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Madame Tarot smiled, comfortable with Blake's discomfort. "Your girlfriend," she said slowly. "Yes, I recognize her. Jessica Parker, a very rich young woman. But I don't recognize you, boy. Are you dating above your pay scale?" She shifted closer on the couch, until her leg was brushing up against Blake's. "Or is she just a pretty face a big checkbook? There's more like that around, boy." She leaned closer and whispered in his ear. "I could show you things you don't even have names for."

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Blake stood up and walked out of the coffee shop. He dialed Jessica's number in his cell phone. Blake looked around for Jessica's car, in the hopes that he could find her and tell her he loved her. "Hey, Jessica? Can we go now? Ms. Tarot just hit on me."

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Jessica was pulling her backpack out of the back of her truck when her cell phone rang. She fished it out of her pocket and checked the caller ID, frowning when she saw it was Blake. She flipped it open and held it between her shoulder and ear. "Blake? Hon? What happened?" She listened to him, her movements slowing down until she was frozen, leaning into her truck, one hand on the strap of her back. "Um, okay. If you wanna go we can. But could you tell me who Ms. Tarot is, first?"

Blake, for his end, couldn't hear his girlfriend's question. All of a sudden, he couldn't hear anything at all -- not the cars on the road, not the faint strains of Albion behind him, not the thousand little noises of the city at night. He was in a zone of perfect silence.

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Blake's heart was racing as he told her. "She works with the Mob- she's a psychic informant. She was just making me really uncomfortable and I just wanted to talk to you and tell you how much I loved you and...Jessica?" Blake said as he noticed the noises of the city had faded. There were no sounds at all. What the hell was going on?

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Jessica blinked when the line apparently went dead, but a quick glance showed that the connection was still open. She thought briefly about dropped calls, but she knew that a city the size of Freedom City would have multiple overlapping cell tower coverage -- dead zones didn't happen unless folks made them. She slipped the phone back in her pocket and dragged her back out, stepping between the cars and starting to snap on the different pieces of armor.

Blake, for his part, wandered down the street. Between one step and the next he left the curious bubble of silence, and the sound of the city rushed back in. He turned back to face the entrance to the cafe, only to see folks rushing out of it, running as soon as they hit the street. Once they left the bubble of silence, their screams were clearly audible.

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What the hell. Blake said, as the screams of the civilians filled his ears. He quickly dialed Jessica back. "Babe! This is really weird. So Ms. Tarot, that Gypsy lady we were looking at, she came over and started hitting on me. Which was creepy, since I'm like seventeen. Eww. So anyway, there's this sphere of silence I just walked out of- probably the influence of some spell, aaaaand there are people running out of the cafe."

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Jessica's armor enveloped her quickly, screens flickering on in her sensorium as the systems warmed up. The suit detecting and inbound call from Blake and she waved a hand through the air, accepting it. She listened to his call. "Super creepy," she agreed. "I'm almost in armor, but it's gonna take a few more seconds. Perhaps Kid Cthulhu should investigate what's going on and why all the civvies are fleeing?" As if to underscore his girlfriend's point, the bubble of silence suddenly popped and Blake could clearly hear several gunshots, cut off quickly and replaced by a shrill scream of pain. "Blake, what was that?"

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"That would be gunshots. Cthulhu f'thagn." Blake's body transformed into the eldritch Kid Cthulhu. He wasted no time running to the scene, trying to see what was happening. Gunshots, in the heroing business, were generally not a good thing. He just wanted Jessica to know that he didn't accept her advances. Enough time had been used up. Kid Cthulhu ran back into the cafe.

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Kid Cthulhu landed at the bottom of the stairwell with a solid thud, looking at the enclosed space. Several of the high, small windows had been shattered, most of the tables had been overturned, and the cappuccino machine had bullet holes in it. All that was background, though; in the foreground, Lady Tarot cowered on the stage where Albion had abandoned their instruments. Her bodyguards were laying on the floor in various states of injured. One was being held upright by a thin man in a strange black bodysuit; the man thrust against the guard's chest and the woman coughed up blood, before crumpling to the floor. The man in the bodyglove raised his visored head to look at the hero and Kid Cthulhu had a sudden shock of recognition -- this was the Silencer, Freedom City's most famous, and most violent, vigilante!

The Silencer put his finger to his lip and unslung an advanced rifle from his back. Turning to face Lady Tarot, he put the weapon against his shoulder and took aim. The criminal looked between Kid Cthulhu and the vigilante. "Help," she screamed to him. "He's going to kill me!"

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"I don't know who the hell you think you are, Silencer. You can't just kill criminals. They have to be given a chance to rehabilitate themselves. I know you think what you're doing is right, but it's not- at least not in the civilized society we live in. We have rules. There's a process to justice. So take this."

KC lowered his head and put his hand at his temple. He was going to take Silencer down. KC summoned his psychic energy, and released it in a bolt, which flew straight for Silencer's head! He was hoping that the quick psychic assault would take the criminal down.

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The Silencer clutched at his head suddenly, dropping his rifle; it swung on a sling around his body, and Lady Tarot took the opportunity to dash past Kid Cthulhu out into the street. The vigilante quickly fought through the mental assault and turned to face the hero. He was gripping his rifle by the stock, not quite pointing it at id Cthulhu. "Don't you get it," he hissed, his voice low. "A woman like that wakes up every day and decides to live off the pain and sorrow of others. Every second is a choice for redemption and she turns it down. How can you defend someone like that?" The Silencer's finger curled over the trigger of his weapon, and he slowly shifted his feet into a firing stance.

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KC put his hand to his temple. "I defend her, because as a superhero, I defend everyone. Even those who have done evil. My girlfriend will probably catch her. As a matter of fact, I'll call her right after I put you down." KC put his hand to his temple, readying a blast of mental force. "Vigilantes like you have your own ideas about justice. The idea that just because someone does wrong that they are evil inherently. The idea that you can put the law into your own hands by killing anyone who has done evil. That's not how justice works. Not in Freedom City. Now stay down, Silencer!" KC hurtled a bolt of psychic energy at his assailant! If this didn't take him down, he would be in serious trouble.

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The Silencer stepped out of line and shook his head as the pseudonatural energy ravaged his mind for a moment. This time, though, he seemed to be able to fight through it without much trouble and brought his weapon to bear on the hero. "Regrettable," he said, flipping a switch on the weapon with his thumb. "You could have helped me. But I won't let you help her." The vigilante pulled the trigger and the entire room seemed to warp like a bad reverb effect, as clashing chords resounded around Kid Cthulhu.

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Kid Cthulhu held out his hands and dispelled the clashing sound waves. "Enough. This has gone on too far, Silencer. Time to take you down." KC summoned mystic spheres of fire, which he hurled at the villain. "Who do you think you are?" KC said as he tossed another fire bolt. "Who elected you judge of humanity?"

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The Silencer leapt away from Kid Cthulhu's attack, firing back but missing, and instead the shot overturned the very same couch Blake and Jessica had been occupying not long ago. The vigilante landed on his side and scrambled behind an edge of the counter, automatically checking his weapon once her was in cover. "We're doing the same thing," he shouted over the barricade at the hero. "I'm just working things out to their logical conclusion. Do you think 'Big Al' would really let his chief adviser fall into the hands of the cops? He's make sure she never told anyone anything. Ever again."

Even the Silencer didn't expect his banter to stop Kid Cthulhu. Behind his mask his eyes darted back and forth, desperately trying to find an exit. This encounter not turning out like he had planned, and he needed an out, fast.

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Kid Cthulhu calmly walked behind the counter. He looked at the vigilante, hiding and looking for a way out, like a rat trapped in a cage. He looked deep into his eyes, and the lights in the room dimmed. KC's eyes glowed with an eldritch green. "Silencer. I suggest you surrender, or else terrible things will happen to you. I've seen things you cannot imagine. Horrors from beyond this world. So stand down, or I make you never want to go to sleep again." KC grinned, his tentacles flailing on his face. "Trust me, it's probably better that you do."

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The primordial fear radiating out from Kid Cthulhu settled into the Silencer's rattled brain, easily worming into his mind and kicking his fight-or-flight response into high gear. He flipped a control on his rifle and pointed it at the back wall, triggering an overpowered sonic blast. The energy slammed into the brick and disintegrated it, kicking up enough dust to leave Kid Cthulhu hacking on it feebly. When the dust settled a bit, the hero could see a tide of rubble making a gentle, if shifting slope, up to the alleyway behind the cafe.

From the other direction came a voice Kid Cthulhu easily recognized. "Kid! Hey, KC! Are you all right down there?"

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"Ironclad!" As nice as it was to hear her voice, he couldn't let Silencer get away. "Sweetie, Silencer is running off. We'll talk after we've got him." Blake stretched his wings from his back. "Oh, and thanks for taking me to the show. I love you." KC grinned as he flew out of the opening in the wall, in hot pursuit of the vigilante.

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Outside the cafe, Ironclad stiffened and turned slightly. She'd arrived on the scene to find the woman from before, the one Blake had identified as Madame Tarot, hanging around. The heroine had decided that it would be a good idea for her to stick around and talk to the police, and now the other woman was smirking. "Sweetie? Hooking up with the tentacles, now?"

Ironclad leveled a finger at the villainess. "Quiet, you. Or I'll indulge my fantasy of wrapping a telephone pole around someone. Or maybe just wrapping someone around a telephone pole, instead."


Out back, Kid Cthulhu easily cleared the hole, coming out in a cramped alleyway and looking around quickly. For a moment it seemed that the Silencer had made good his escape, but then there was a flicker of movement out of the corner of his eye. The hero spun in the air, seeing the vigilante leaning around the corner and aiming high. He fired a blast of sonic energy that passed high over the hero's head, and for a moment Kid Cthulhu thought that his aim was just off. A second later, though, there was a grinding and screaming sound of tortured metal, and her glanced up to see a fire escape tearing itself free of the building behind the cafe, falling directly on top of him!

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KC tried to jump out of the way. He was very close, but he tripped and the falling steel collapsed on him. He tried to free himself, but the metal was too heavy. He reached into his pocket and managed to open his cell phone. He dialed Jessica frantically. "Jessica! This is Blake. Umm...I'm trapped under a fire escape, but Silencer is getting away. Could you maybe grab him real quick and then come back to get me? I'm okay here...just stuck. Get Silencer first. I love you!" KC said.

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Kid Cthulhu heard Ironclad inhale sharply on the other end of the line. "Trapped under a... Wait right there!" It was an order that was easy to obey, as pretty much all KC could do was lay there and watch the Silencer disappear around the corner. Moments later, his power-armored girlfriend touched down next to him and, with a great heave, hauled the mass of twisted iron-mongry off him, laying it to one side. "Kid! Are you alright?"

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KC removed himself from the rubble, and planted a kiss on her helmet. "I'm fine, sweetheart. I love you. Did you catch Ms. Tarot? That pedophile tried to come onto me. I swear, creepiest thing ever. Oh..." KC said, looking down the alley. "I think Silencer got away. I did give him a good dose of the supernatural. He probably won't sleep very well for the next few weeks. Hopefully that'll keep him off the streets, the bastard." KC held her close. "Are you okay, 'Clad?" KC realized he accidentally used their real identities when he was talking to her earlier. Fudge. Hopefully no one was listening in.

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