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Too Many Questions, Too Few Answers...(IC)


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Nov. 16, 2010. Tuesday. 11:45 P.M

Overcast, light rain.

A lone warehouse stood on Dock 87, a bleak concrete and steel edifice reaching up. The mammoth doors that would haul cargoes in remained shut, and the windows were black with the darkness that lay inside. Cars occasionally rolled by, on the way to wherever they meant to go. None ever stopped...except one. A large truck rolled through the gates, pulling up to one of the back loading doors, and backed in. The doors rolled up, and up, and the truck closed in. Shuffles of movement around the truck, something being brought out and into the warehouse...then the doors seal shut, and the truck rolls away. This is but the work of a minute or two, and then all is silent again.

Something wicked happens this night...

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Push nearly dropped his binoculars, his glee was so much. Squinting through them and the night-vision goggles, he watched the truck roll away and the loading doors shut. This was the opportunity he was waiting for. That bloody warehouse had been quiet all day, nothing going in or out. But now someone was in there, and that meant there was something to do with the mysterious Mr. Webster.

He stepped off of the tenement roof, his coat and scarf billowing around him as he dropped, pushing kinetic force out of his feet to slow his descent an ace before he landed. The second his boots hit the ground, he was off like a shot, across the road, a kinetic charge to the boots, up and over the fence, and taking cover beside one of the smaller side doors. The ersatz hero peered through the windows, seeing nothing but the pitch-black of the interior...the silhouettes of storage containers...and...wait! Flickering light a further ways in. Very dim, however, and he couldn't make out anything more than vague blobs and flickering lights.

Quinn chuckled very quietly under his scarf, shifting to the other side of the door and rummaging in his messenger bag...

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Corbin was on one of his first solo patrols this evening. He wasn't too far out from Calremont, all told. He could be back in almost no time at all. Mostly, he was just making sweeps of the warehouse area along the waterfront. It seemed prime "crime territory", even if nothing was happening. He glanced down...and saw a man floating downwards, then scrambling over to a window in a warehouse, attempting to peek in.

'So much for "nothing's happening", huh?'

Carefully, he flew himself down to the same warehouse, working to stay away from the sight lines from the windows. Eventually, he worked his way to a spot not far from Push, where he stopped and hovered, arms crossed, apparently waiting for Push to notice him.

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Dragonfly was in a bad mood - a truly awful mood, really. She'd followed a tip that had led to the docks...and an ambush, which she'd walked away from fine but empty-handed. She was upset to not have found another of 'her' devices, she was upset to have been mislead, but mostly she was upset to have fallen for it. She'd figured she'd work off her newfound grouchyness by walking part of the way back. In the rain.

That was the plan, anyway, until she spotted the guy in the armor...who had apparently spotted someone of his own. Raising an eyebrow, she switched on her infravision overlay and tilted her head, wondering what in the world was going on....and then blinked at the building itself, and its awfully unusual infrared readings. just going to be one of those nights - wine and double bass will have to wait

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Push spun on his heel as he heard the hum, hands raised to blast his ambusher...then noticed the armor. Bugger.

"Uh...yeah, this probably isn't looking too good." He muttered, motioning for them both to stay quiet. Big guy looked like a hero, cape and armor was a bit of a giveaway. And if it looked like a hero, it usually was a hero. Especially here. So...maybe this wasn't that awkward.

"Look, I don't know who you are or what you're doing here, but I'll make it fast. Something's going down in there, there's evidence in there I need, and you're about an ace from blowing a chase I've been on for nearly a year. So either clear off or get over here and give me a hand. And keep it quiet!" Gabriel hissed.

Quinn was disgruntled, but some backup would be nice. So long as this joker didn't find out his identity, he should be alright. He hoped. More like prayed. This oversized tin can didn't look like he'd be too kind if he found out the reason he was on this chase. And after a year of this, Push always assumed people matched the name to the frame.

He cocked an eyebrow at the armored dude, waiting for him to make a move, and subtly charging kinetic energy in one fist. If this went south, he'd have to book fast...

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The approaching heroes spotted something else, too: a man in very ratty clothing, standing guard outside one of the ground floor windows!

"Y'all best keep it down," he said in a strained whisper, without turning.

Big ol' fire pit... two folks in shadows, throwin' sacks into the fire pit... 'nother shadow-man standin' on some sort'a podium... an' a big blob'a silhouettes near the fire. Looks like that tip was right.

After a moment the man turned... but it was no man at all, but a zombie! "Oh, hey... Push, right?"

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Cobalt Templar silently lowered himself until his feet touched the ground.

He scanned the young man in front of him, and the area in general, trying to determine what might be going on. He noted the clearly defensive stance Push was taking, as well as what might be traces of some sort of ability.

He also noticed Dragonfly approaching.

Dead Head announced himself as he arrived, though CT didn't know him at first glance. When he spoke it was also in a whisper, his arms still crossed across his chest.

"You have to understand, this is incredibly odd. You're not giving me a lot to go on...Push, was it? I'm willing to help, if you give me the 20-second clip show."

He turned to face Dead Head.

"And you are...?"

He turned for a moment to look in Dragonfly's direction, but didn't try to speak, for fear of his voice carrying. He turned back to the others.

"Call me Cobalt Templar. I'm willing to help if you guys can help fill me in a bit."

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Push was cursing a mile a minute in his head, was there some kind of convention in the area that he didn't know about or something? Really? Where were all these heroes coming from?! He shook his head, casting another glance through the window and contenting himself with the distinct lack of movement. Noting the armored man's (Cobalt Templar, he said. Good name, if a bit melodramatic...) glance sideways, he cast his own look that way, seeing nothing but fence and shadow. Logging that away, he started racking his brains, throwing together an explanation that would content the big tin can, then spoke in a hushed tone to both of them.

"I'll stick to CT. Easier to remember, no offense. I'm not going to ask why the deadman's here either, I think that'd just hurt my brain. Look, there's this bad guy I've been chasing for the past year or two, calls himself Mr. Scratch. One of his favorite aliases is that of a Dr. Daniel Webster, and this warehouse is signed in that name. Can't track it back any further than that thanks to a metric crapton of intermediaries, but I've been watching this joint for the past two days waiting for something to happen. I've been in twice before during the day and found nothing but busy dockworkers, so what's happening tonight has...well, it's got to be what I was waiting for. The fact that old bones over there is around just makes it even more likely."

He nodded at the friendly neighbourhood zombie, then looked askance at both of them.

"And yeah, name's Push. Any more than that, you buy dinner first. Deadman, you get a good look with that window? I can't see squat at this doorway."

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Sighing and pulling her rain-wet hair back, Dragonfly trotted up to the group just in time to catch the jist of the story. "Dragonfly," she quietly introduced herself. "I am, I mean. Really ought to know better than to get involved. Been a long day. Weather doesn't help...any strategy on...?"

She caught a better look at the poorly-clothed window observer, and had an entirely new question. It wasn't elegant or politely phrased, and contained a few choice words in Russian, but more or less amounted to a hissed 'What in the world are you??'

Her internal monologue was even less polite, but amounted to jesus christ it's a zombie

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"I, lil' lady," the figure said with a deep bow, "am Dead Head." He glanced up at Push, "Deadman's some other feller."

The strange figure turned his head -- more than any living person ought to be able to -- to look back at the window, "I see two folks throwin' sacks'a somethin' inta a big fire pit, an another feller standin' on some sort'a podium. Big blob'a silhouettes near the fire, too."

"So, whatcha say we set up a big ol' distraction while you three get in position ta take 'em out?"

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It wouldn't be fair to say that Ironclad was patrolling the docks; she'd finished with her patrols better than an hour ago. Since then she had been field-testing some of the suit's more finicky systems, including a experimental ramjet propulsion system. It had worked, in the sense that it had accelerated the heroine to over Mach 5 and made crossing the Atlantic a breeze. However, the fact that it had detonated several miles out to sea and she had had to make her way inland using her standard flight systems, turned her off on the idea.

Ironclad banked in towards the harbor, a dark spot against the sky, idly scanning the waterfront. There was usually some unlawful assembly taking place there, and she felt in the mood to break up it with gusto. However, she didn't see a group of criminals -- instead she spotted Dragonfly (assuming there weren't two short, blonde heroes who wore gauntlets and visors in the city) surrounded by disreputable types. She flew in closer and pinged her friend's communication system, one armored hand twitching as she typed a quick text message.

Hey, Mara. Coming in from tests. You need a hand, there?

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Dragonfly blinked as her visor informed her of the incoming radio transmission. Converting it into text she blinked up into the rain, catching sight of Ironclad and sending a message back by datalink. "CT, Push, and....'Dead Head'", she identified them in turn. "The last one's a zombie. I...don't even know. Something odd in the warehouse. Could always use a familiar face. Helmet. Whatever."

"...right. Dead Head. Okay. Wish I had a computer nearby." that someone wasn't occupying "Distraction. Ideas?"

Glad, at least, that Ironclad was around to make sure she didn't get...bitten by zombies, or something, Dragonfly turned her attention back to the warehouse and the observation of its occupants. She paced back and forth a little bit, quietly trying to view through as many windows as she could to get a good look at the layout. what are you up to - too many things could be in the sacks - chemicals reagents bodies straw wood nothing sand - movement suggests....

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Push shook his head, not even bothering to acknowledge that yet another hero had appeared out of nowhere, and quickly moved over to near Dead Head, looking in himself and seeing much the same.

"Hmm...whatever it is, it looks bloody fishy. If we had some flyers by the upper windows..."

He clapped a hand to his face with a muffled curse.

"Ok, I'm an idiot." Quinn yanked his night-vision goggles from his eyes, squinting in the darkness, and motioned to the Cobalt Templar, speaking rapidly in a low hiss.

"CT, take these and give us a bird's-eye-view from the upper windows. Keep it low, savvy? Don't want to tip our friends inside off. Oh, and if you or anyone's got a comm-link, turn it to channel A1337, we might as well stay synced. Dead, cover the door with me, and get that...shovel...ready?"

Push stared briefly, remembering how DH had walloped those thugs earlier, and shrugged, motioning to the one side of the door. He then turned to face the new arrival, a...Dragonfly? Girl looked a bit off-kilter, and she reminded him, oddly enough, of Professor Wyrd. Had to be the gadgets. Surely she couldn't be as batty as the Prof, right?

"And since you probably aren't going away, Dragonfly...Dragonfly, what are you doing?" He asked in a somewhat bemused voice as she walked around, peering through windows and muttering to herself. This night just keeps getting better and better...

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Dragonfly didn't really turn around from her task, though she did quietly reply. "Planning...analyzing. Reducing, running statistics, crun...never mind." She sighed, waving a hand, though she still didn't turn away from the window. "Finding ways to give us an advantage, if it goes bad. Which it does. Always. Need to put nightvision on my visor...would make things easier. Infravision helps."

"Commlink, too," she observed, mostly to herself. "Can pick up radio waves, though. Will be able to listen. Possibly piggyback on someone else's comm if I'm close enough."

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Right, scratch that, she was batty as the Prof. Even had the same method of speaking when working. "Yeah, it does. Always." Quinn muttered, nodding absently while leaning on the wall and watching her. At least she didn't seem to act as...theatrical as Wyrd. Which, in and of itself, was a bit reassuring. And she was considerably more easy on the eyes.

"Why is it everywhere I go, something always reminds me of that idiot..." He murmured, giving another more appraising look at her gadgetry. He'd pinched a few toys from the Professor, but she looked like she had a whole armory strapped on her limbs.

"Well, if you think it'll help. Two things, before you get distracted though. One, can you see anything Dead Head and I missed? And two, what've you got to play with in that arsenal?"

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'before' I get distracted - right - as opposed to distracting me with questions Dragonfly frowned a bit, finally glancing away from the window to reply. "The zom...Dead Head covered most of it. Simple warehouse. Ten, twenty people. One obvious leader. Fire pit. Two larger figures, probably bodyguar--mm." She'd turned back to the window as she recounted, and tilted her head. "Gone now. Curious."

She pulled her hair back again, sighing. "'Arsenal' is not a toy. I do not play with it." much "Combat-oriented. Protection, offense, utility. Not that interesting. Surely others have better information to share. More enlightening, useful."

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Cobalt Templar had been keeping his eyes on the exits for the warehouse. When Push offered him the night-vision goggles, he calmly passed them back.

"Thanks, but I don't need them. I can see fine in the dark as-is."

He stood by, letting the others take over the planning for the most part.

"I'm willing to help out however I can. I'm not quite a master strategist just yet."

There was a note of levity in his voice, despite the gloomy weather.

When Dragonfly noted the absence of the probable bodyguards, CT's head whipped around to face her.

"Wait, gone? Were they standing figures before?"

A slight glow started to occur around his right hand.

"Are they hidden by the big fire, or what?"

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Wait, they's actually listenin' t'me, an' workin' accordin' to my suggestion right off the bat? Dang, that's new!

Anyone standing near Dead Head would hear a whimpering sound. As if from a large dog.

He knelt, and patted the air before him, "easy, boy... don't smell nuthin' too bad, hunh? Well, guess that's somethin', then. Still... you ready t'work?"

A bark issued forth from the air near him.

The zombie rose, and looked at Push and the others. "so I'm thinkin' I go in an' distract the cultists -- they's usually easily distracted by me -- while Mutt here sneaks in an' grabs any shiny thin's off'a the head guy. An' y'all come in after a spell an' take 'em out while I'm entertainin' 'em."

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The ersatz hero noted the zombie talking to nobody, then bending down and petting the air. What really gobsmacked Quinn was the fact that a bark came out of nowhere in response. "I've heard of imaginary friends, but that is just ridiculous. How do you clean up after him on walks in the park? And how do you know when he's napping on the couch before you sit on it? Meh, nice doggy."

Push shook his head at the minor bit of snark, feeling a buzz in his fingertips. Too much kinetic charge just waiting to be let off the chain...he smiled like so many wolves for an instant under that scarf, eyes gleaming. After all this time, all this work...walking the razor's edge with eldrich magic and the powers of Old Night on one side, and a world that thought him a murderer and a renegade on the other...here, he'd find the clues he needed to clear his name. And then he'd find Scratch, and put paid to those darker nightmares. He knew he shouldn't derive satisfaction from causing pain, but he had a lot of fury to vent over the wasted lives and years of his life lost up to this point, and those frakheads in there were in precisely the wrong place at the right time. The air warped and crackled between his fingers as he thought these things...

"What're you going to do? Make like Michael Jackson? On second thought, don't answer that, the reply might damage my fragile psyche even further. Still, might give 'em a good shock to see a zombie fresh from the grave staggering outta the black. Poetic justice, if y'ask me...never mind, private joke." Push grumbled the last sentence, taking out his multi-tool and examining the lock. "Might as well wait for Dragonfly to finish whatever she's schemin' though. And any other heroes that might want to, oh, I don't know, randomly drop in out of the black. Be a bit rude if we didn't wait for them." He said the last bit to the air, half-joking. Then again, if Centurion himself dropped out of the sky and asked what was going on, he probably wouldn't have batted an eye.

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"I think that's my line." Ironclad floated down from above, eying the other heroes. The big buy in blue armor looked familiar, and she'd heard of dead men haunting Lantern Hill; maybe this was it? She kept her hands by her side and showed that they were empty. "Name's Ironclad," she said. "Dragonfly'll vouch for me. We've worked together before, and we've shared sensors before, too." The fingers of her right hand twitched slightly as she clicked through menus, requesting a more data-intensive link with her friend and fellow heroine. The suit's sensor package wasn't most, mostly just all-around sight and nightvision, but it could help. Only Dragonfly knew for sure.

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Push just facepalmed, then quietly waved his hand in Ironclad's general direction. When I spoke to the sky, I didn't really expect an answer...

"I don't know why you're here, I don't want to know why you're here, I don't want to know why any of you are here, I don't even want to know why I'm here. Well, actually, I do, otherwise I wouldn't be here. But why all of you are here at this particular time, in this particular place, I really don't want to know, as it'll just make my headache worse. Just...just go stand over there by Dragonfly. Please."

Sighing, he returned his attention to the lock and began to switch items on the multi-tool, eventually taking out what looked like a long wire and a knife. Bending over the keyhole, the kinetic king began to fiddle with the tools, keeping an ear open and waiting for that tell-tale click...

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"Mm," Dragonfly added, apparently vouching for Ironclad. She sent a silent text-only thank you to her armor-wearing friend, quickly finishing her view of the warehouse thanks to the 'borrowed' nightvision. interesting - really ought to put it on the visor - never enough time

Finally satisfied, she made her way back to the group just in time to see Push start to pick the lock...and to foil his attempt to get Ironclad to stand off to the side. As the scarf-wearing B&E artist did his thing she quickly shared her observations with the class - most of it was clipped and vaguely-incomprehensible statistics and reaction-modeling mumbo-jumbo, but she caught herself in time and, sighing, pared it down to some slightly more useful data and predictions, along with the usual warning that the plan itself changed things; when it went into action it wouldn't be good for more than a few moments. "Hopefully enough to...mm. 'Turn the tide.'" ridiculous claim - tides typically very powerful, stubborn "But hopefully enough."

Scowling, she pulled her hair back out of her face again. worth a fight just to be out of the rain

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A few moments passed as Push knelt by the lock, adjusting and tweaking it, eyes narrowing, then widening, and so on.

"Right, I think we can adapt to that, 'fly. Templar, Ironclad, head up to the roof or just below those windows, and stand by. We'll need air support if things go south. Dragonfly, you and I'll slip in on either side of the cultists while Dead Head does...whatever he's planning on doing. Once we're in position, I'll signal, then we hit 'em from all directions at once, aye?"

Finally, Quinn stood, pulling the knife and wire out and jiggling the doorknob. A low click came from the lock, and the door swung inwards. Sliding on his night-vision goggles again, he peered in, looking left, right, and up, then motioned to Dead Head.

"Your show, mate. Go in and do what you do best, but save the brain-scoffing for later. I just ate." He smirked, stepping back to let the zombie (and his little dog, too) through.

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Upon the door's opening, a noxious stench fills your nostrils, akin to a charnel house. Very, very nasty. A low sound of chanting is also heard, with barely-heard smatterings of what sound like Germanic dialects, but different, older. One voice is far louder than the others, and you can make out certain words like "cleansing", "new world order", and "Horned One".

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Cobalt Templar was passively waiting for the planners to work out their strategy when Ironclad arrived. He turned, and actually recognized her.

"Oh! Ironclad! Good to see you. It's me, Cobalt Templar. From that fracas at the Mall a few weeks back? Anyways. Glad to have more backup here."

He turned back to the others. Before long, the plan seemed finished. Push handed out orders, and he nodded. A light blue glow surrounded his body, and he floated up to the roof level, positioning himself to intervene if...no, when necessary. No plan survives contact with the enemy.

When the doors were flung open, he quickly wrinkled his face at the stench. He glanced over to IC2.

"I don't like this. Sounds like it's already going south."

He flexed his right hand as a small glow leaked from his ring, eerily resembling a bright blue fire rolling across his hand.

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