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Public Anomie [IC]

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Friday, July 8th, 2011

8:52 PM

It felt strange to be on the street for such a long period. Most of the time, Cannonade preferred to patrol the roof tops, racing across tar beaches and slanted church roofs, dropping down on occasion to interrupt the dealings of muggers and gang members. But tonight was different. Southside had been pretty quiet lately; the gangs had been staying in, the drug dealers had decided to take their business elsewhere, and if there were any dirty dealings in the neighborhood, they were keeping pretty damn quiet. Tonight was a night to just take the neighborhood in, to walk the streets casually.

How long's it been? he thought. Must be close to a year I've been doing this. Southside's certainly looking a hell of a lot better. Kinda makes for a boring night ,but y'know, I could use more like these.

"Help! Help!"

Cannonade immediately regretted his train of thought and took in the direction of the cry. He rounded the corner, and found a young woman, dressed like she was heading for Eclipse, pointing up. A small crowd was forming around her, muttering. Cannonade followed the line of sight up to the roof of a nearby building; sure enough, there was a man standing on the edge of the roof, as if about to jump.

Not even stopping to think, Cannonade ran into the nearest alley and leaped up into the air. The street was soon far below him as he graced the lip of the roof. He landed softly, and from this angle, he noticed that the jumper had a good foot of ledge between him and the empty air. He knew he could cover the distance if the guy got startled and fell.

"What is it?"

The jumper turned to face Cannonade; he didn't slip or jump, which was a relief. He was a mess, in both appearance and demeanor. His hair stretched out across a center parting, not quite covering the whole scalp, like a flattened mohawk. It bore faint traces of red, but it looked like they were the remnants of a heavy washing out. He wore a torn band T-shirt over khaki slacks and trainers. Tears were running down from his eyes, and his expression looked like he was two seconds away from a complete breakdown.

"I know. You feel like you're dealing with this alone. That you can't see away way out of it, there's no one to help, and it just feels inevitable. Well, I'm here. How can I help?"

The man swallowed. "You don't understand... he won't let me go. He keeps... doing this to me. I... I can't be me anymore."

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Morgan relished his morning runs; Glowstar thought he was completely crazy, but he never really complained when his roommate had a tendency to bribe him by bringing breakfasts from various restaraunts back for them to munch. This week, it was bagels from this nice bakery he'd found a while back in Southside, place called Grife's; the owner got up every morning even before he did to all the baking for the buisness himself! He could feel the warmth from the bagels, freshly removed from the oven; these ones you didn't even need to put butter or anything on, they were tasty enough just enjoying the pastry.

The thoughts of freshly-baked bagel occupied his mind quite thoroughly as he rooftop-hopped, stopping cold when he caught some movement out of the corner of his eye. A man was standing at the top of a building, looking about ready to jump; a crowd was forming below, and it looked like someone up above was already trying to talk him down. To Crow's credit, he didn't hesitate; he stuffed the bagels into a pocket and bolted in their direction, vanishing and appearing on another roof across the road. The guy up top looked like he had things well in hand, but just in case...the teen scrambled for the end of his coat, feverishly examining each rune in turn while simultaneously shooting the occasional look up top. If things went south, he'd do what he could.

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The crowd parted slightly as the Geckoman walked clean through it, whistling casually, and just kept walking forwards. When he got to the wall of the building, he didn't even stop then, simply pressing his hands to the stone and continuing upwards.

And stood behind the jumper, from the perspective of the men on the roof melting silently up out of the shadows beneath the edge despite his bright green garb. "Who's he?" asked Geckoman softly, in a reassuring voice. "Tell me about him." From what he'd learned of psychology in college, the man possibly had signs of dissociate identity disorder.

He met eyes with the other hero on the roof top, acknowledging him and trying to communicate that yes, he would catch the guy if he went to jump.

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Sil hated jumpers. She hated them almost as much as designer drug dealers whom she classified in her mind as people helping with assisted suicide in the form of distributing their product, probably because jumpers always made such a spectical of themselves. If you're jumping off a building in a crowded building, you'll almost always attract a crowd, heck you'll probably attract news crews who will then televise the very freaking dramatic act of someone killing themselves as a sensation story. Gory discrestion shots aside, that is a freaking scarring thing to witness. As such, she was a bit less empathic of the dude as she climbed the stairs, passed her fellow heroes and appeared between him and the edge. Before he could even blink she pulled him into a headlock keeping a handful of moehawk in a closed fist, giving it a tug with every step as she dragged him away from the edge and to the center of the building. In a fluent motion, she pulled out zip strips and tied his extremities so that he wouldn't be trying to hobble back to the edge. Kneeling down she looked him in the eyes and said,

"You want to be knocked out now? Or would you like to stay concious while we get you to a hospital so you can be strapped to a bed and get some freaking therapy."

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Geckoman immediately, without even appearing to move, had a geckorang in his hand, and a second after that, it had shattered a foot away from the woman in a deliberate spray of solid plastic chunks. "Hey, moron!" snapped the green clad hero.

"You're a piece of trash. This man is suffering, he is a victim, and as you could clearly damn see," said the teenager through clenched teeth, gesturing at himself at Cannonade. "We are trying to help him. Not threaten him with unconsciousness or threaten to strap him down like a Victorian asylum." He took one casual step forward, cracking his knuckles.

"Untie the innocent man now." And then he burst out into a wide grin and a cheeky wink. "And don't bother saying 'or what', because there isn't one. Untie him now."

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Cannonade started as Silhouette wrapped herself around the suicidal man and dragged him to the roof; as quickly as he wished to act, however, Geckoman had been quicker, launching a boomerang and invective at the shadowy heroine with equal speed. In her grasp, the man began to weep. "No... no, not anymore, please... that's how he does it..."

"Silhouette." Cannonade's voice was hard as granite, and all good cheer seemed to have left him rapidly. "Let him go. Now. You're not helping him, you're just triggering him. We're not here to judge him, we're here to help him and to figure out what's happened to him. I know we've gotten along well in the past... but if you don't let him go, so help me God, I will pull you off him myself."

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Ironclad was soaring above the city in one of her normal patrolling patterns, watching the sensor feed inside her helmet and listening to the radio. The news of a sudden attempted suicide made her peel off the route and drop toward the city with dizzying speed. Her gold and green armor blurred towards the ground and she pulled up half a second from impact, floating off the edge of the building. Even the socially-awkward inventor could sense the tension in the group, so her nods all around were rather tentative. "Cannonade. Silhouette. Geckoman. Look like quite a party we've got going here." She paused a moment and mentally shifted her feet. "So, I take it that's our jumper? Or are you just really taken with the guy, Sil?"

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Cannonade was strong but he couldn't find her with a map if she wanted gone, and the kid in green was obviously overconfident. But still, she didn't feel like fighting or running from other heroes, it was counter productive so she took two of her fingers like a pair of scissors and cut through the plastic and took a step away from him,

"I haven't hurt him at all,"

She let out a sigh and let the other heroes deal with it. He was hurting sure, but there was no point in letting him just stand on the edge of a building and waiting for him to jump. As for restraining, it was just protocol so he didn't try and hurt himself more. Not that it matter, she was officially the bad guy in this matter, and saying anything more wouldn't help her case. Crossing her arms, she looked at Cannonade for a few seconds, than at the boy and sighed again. Her voice was a little softer this time,

"I'm sorry, for manhandling and restraining you. Please calm down, I am not going to hurt you or send you anywhere you don't want to go, I promise."

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Crow appeared at the edge of the roof, walking towards the group without breaking his stride, and stepped in between the multiple heroes with his arms upraised and palms facing either side. The effect was actually rather comical, given his somewhat shortened stature compared to the other heroes (particularly Cannonade), but he still didn't move. Inwardly, Morgan was heavily resisting the urge to have his knees turn to water, and he tried to keep his voice from shaking as he spoke aloud, trying for a kind of calming tone. Given that he didn't try that kind of thing often, and he was dressed from head to foot in black...well, he wasn't expecting miracles.

"Oi, oi, let's all calm down here. No need to get threatening or violent. Bit counter-productive at the moment, and this isn't exactly the best place for an argument. What say we all go down to ground level and get this poor guy a doctor?"

Pleasedontpunchmepleasedontpunchmepleasedontpunchme.

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Cannonade exhaled. "Sounds like a good idea, Crow," he said. "Y'know, I could've sworn I'd seen this guy somewhere..." He leaned down to the jumper. "What's your name?"

"Kyle," he said. "Kyle Trieve. Why?"

"That's why. I read about you guys in the Clarion. Signal Fire, right? Hell, I think I caught you at the Riverrun once. What happened?"

"This guy showed up," Kyle said, "about a few days after we landed the deal with Epitaph. He came into my apartment. I... I don't even remember what he looked like." His face crumbled, as if he was approaching another mental roadblock. "All I can remember is this big, black shape. He... told me I needed to break up the band. He... thought we were doing something bad. I told him to get screwed and called the police. But... he came back the next night, and..."

He paused. "He said things to me, and... it's like someone else took me over. I threw out my song book, told the guys we needed to get out of the scene, started trying to... become normal. It wasn't until a few weeks later that I really kinda noticed how dumb I was acting. And then... he was there again, and... you don't know what it's like. It's like someone's making you a little goddamn Stepford wife. You go through the motions, try and be normal, and all the while there's some part of you screaming to get out. And then it does, and... he's there, and he shoves it back down again. I can't... I just don't think I can take it anymore."

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Ironclad frowned behind her mask as she listened to the musician's story. Controlling someone's life and mentally crippling them like that, to the point where they'd take suicide over living a lie was... well, it wasn't just criminal. It wasn't just evil. It was creepy, it make her flesh crawl and her mind recoil from just contemplating it.

The heroine put those feelings aside and spoke directly to Kyle. "Kyle, do you remember if this man gave you anything to eat or drink? And do you know if he's visited any of your band members or anyone at the record studio?" If this was the first victim, all the better, but folks with this kind of ability usually didn't spring from nothing, fully formed. It was likely there were more victims in his wake.

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Sil didn't really do much other than listen after her apology. She was very curious about this man. This sounded, well it sounded absolutely horrible. It sounded a bit like that whatever he was that was trying to talk the city into turning into a bunch of rioters. She shook that feeling from her mind, she hated it absolutely, those feelings that weren't entirely her's but had still managed to influenced her. Was he behind this? He seemed like he was talked out of it last time and the MO was entirely different. Still was it a similiar method, an implanted suggestion, hypnosis? That was possible but it usually wasn't something this strong. Looking over at the boy she got confirmation that he was part of a band she recognized. There a motive to break up the band, why? They had barely just made it. It was really strange.

She had to be very, very careful about how she would proceed. He was at the very least scared of her now, and while that worked with criminals, it was pretty bad with witnesses. She winced a bit,

I think I'll try doubling over everything I think I'm gonna say or do from now on.

Letting out a breath she said in a voice she hoped sounded non-threatening or calming,

"He visited your appartment, does your building have any security cameras?"

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"No," Kyle said. "Nothing. It's a run-down place in the West End. And I don't know if anyone else got visited, I... kinda broke off as soon as I could. I couldn't even tell them about this guy; it was like my thoughts just kept sliding around him. Like he wasn't that important. It's only when I... broke through that I'd remember him."

"What do you remember about him?" Cannonade asked. "Height, weight, voice, et cetera."

"He kept himself in the shadows. I never really saw much. He was... tall, I guess. Pretty damn strong. And his voice... rough, like he was speaking through gravel. Never heard it before in my life."

"Great. So we're chasing a ghost." Cannonade thought for a second before continuing. "Maybe you weren't the first one to piss him off. You hear anything else in the scene?"

"I... heard a few rumors at Eclipse. That a few kids who were regulars at the all ages shows weren't coming by anymore. But that's all I heard. Rumors."

"Well, that's something." Cannonade turned to the others. "So, who's up for a night on the town?"

"

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Geckoman sighed, looking sympathetic. "So we've got someone who thinks they've got a right not only to tell people what to do, but will mess with their heads to do it. Faaaaaaantastic." He turned to Cannonade. "Yeah, why the hell not? Let's track this guy down, and lock him up. As soon as possible, before he inflicts this kind of thing on another person. And make sure we pipe some black metal into his cell."

He looked back at Kyle. "It's alright, man. We're going to bring this asshole down."

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"As much as I can get on board with confinement and ironic punishments, we have a problem with the fact that this guy is powerful enough to mentally condition his victums into pretty much giving up everything in their lives. We need some protection from this sort of thing ahead of time so none of us end up going at each other's throats for reasons other than me being stupid."

She took a quick glance at Cannonade,

"I can try calling Warlock see if he still has that helmet thing, otherwise, Ironclad,"

She started walking towards Jessica before stopping,

"If the rest of us are info gathering, you think you can make something to block out mental signals?"

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Ironclad intertwined her gauntetled fingers and worked them against each other in ways that would set the knuckles to cracking if they weren't encased in armor. She bobbed there lightly for a minute or so, lost in thought, before she answered Silhouette. "Blocking a mental signal entirely is a toughie," she admitted. "But, I think I have another angle of attack, as it were." She turned (rotating in midair, actually) to ask Kyle, "You said this man talked to you? Communicated his commands verbally? And he had an odd voice?" Before the rocker could answer, the heroine addressed the rest of the assembled heroes. "I'm pretty sure I can create a device to disrupt verbal communications -- to counteract all sound, to be truthful. It could put us at a disadvantage," she admitted, "but it's better than having our minds taken over in the middle of a fight."

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"Sounds like a plan." Cannonade still remembered the Southside riots well; last thing he wanted was someone else playing merry hell with his head. "'Course, that ain't gonna do a lot of good unless we can track this guy down and administer a beating in person. Eclipse sounds like a good place to start; they've started doing all-ages shows on Friday nights, means we can get a good cross section." He looked over the gathered heroes. "Mind you, we're gonna look a bit weird on the floor. I can pass, you guys can pass --" He gestured to Crow and Silhouette, then turned to Ironclad and Geckoman. "...but I don't think full-out costumes would work."

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Ironclad shrugged easily; dance clubs were hardly her scene, anyway. "That's alright," she said. "I'll keep in touch with you guys, but for now I'm going to head back to my apartment and whip up that sound nullifier." With that the armored heroine was off, speeding through the clouds and heading north, towards the city center. She made a beeline for a high-rise apartment a couple blocks off of Liberty Park. The glass doors to the penthouse opened at a wireless command and the heroine walked into her apartment, the doors closing behind her. She didn't bother to use the staircase winding up the elevator shaft at the center of the room, simply flying up under her own power. On the second floor the young genius walked into her private workshop and started clearing away the debris from a week or so of idle experimentation. She had a plan, now, and maybe not that much time to execute it in.

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Crow disappeared as the group started talking, reappearing perched on a nearby chimney just close enough to hear, but not enough to be overly noticed. His outfit was definitley not appropriate for calming the agitated young musician, and he was more focused on running the general idea of what they were facing through his head. An individual who probably could seriously futz with a guy's mind, probably could read them too, so they'd know the group was gunning for him if they broadcasted the fact...

When Cannonade started talking about investigation, the teen smiled under his bandanna and reappeared at the larger hero's elbow, speaking quietly;

"I'm good at finding answers. And the questions that need to be asked. Meet you at Eclipse later."

He gave a small nod, then within the space of a blink he was gone again, the only sign of his passing being a mild breeze that ruffled the heroes' clothes.

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"I'm up for eavesdropping at Eclipse, I am a bit more subtle than most."

She glanced over at Geckoman,

"You seem to have a couple toys, you have any short distance radios? My mask has a built in police scanner and if we're going into a club we're probably not going to be able to hear ourselves think let alone keep in contact."

She than looked over at the would be jumper and let out a sigh,

"Also, who do you guys know that can undo forced psycological trama? I mean we can't leave him like this."

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Geckoman tapped the side of his mask. "Short range comms device in the mask, I've also got an old teleport beacon in my belt which has a built-in commlink I could repatch and re-route to another source, I suppose." He just sighed and rolled his eyes.

"Really, when you get down to it, I could just, y'know, go put on some civvies. Hell, since I've got prep time, I could go fit out a deliciously pre-planned wardrobe of delights! Ripped denim! Chains! Leather! And more product than a grocer's shelves!" He rubbed his hands gleefully. "Man, I love infiltration."

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Cannonade paused slightly, trying to imagine Geckoman as a punk; after his mind simply rebelled against processing the image, he carried on. "Okay, so it's agreed," he said. "We'll give Ironclad enough time to work on her mind-screw shield, and then we'll meet up at Eclipse tomorrow. Sounds like a plan. I'll be the guy in the black flight jacket."

---

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

8:34 PM

The streets of Southside were busy as the clubgoers took to the street. Joe was waiting outside of Eclipse, looking not all that different from Cannonade. Sure, the jacket and jeans were different colors, the T-shirt was switched out for an Agnostic Front T, and the helmet was nowhere in sight, but for the most part, there was enough in common that if you squinted, you could see the hero.

His attention was torn between the crowd and the voice on the other side of the phone. "So everything's going okay?" he asked.

"Yeah," said Kyle. After the incident, Cannonade had managed to deliver him to St. Aloysius for observation. He'd gotten a security detail set up both outside and inside the hospital room; so far, Kyle's mysterious assailant hadn't made an appearance, but everyone was on call in case he did. "You're sure this is going to be safe?"

"If anywhere is, it's there," he said. "You'll be under watch at all times, so even if he does show up, he's not gonna be able to screw with you. And if he does... I'll be there, all right?" He scanned the crowd, keeping an eye open for the others.

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There was a temptation to go to the club as Carrie, to blend into the crowd that way. But it was something resisted for the simple fact that no one in the party needed to have any inkling of her idenity. No, Silhouette was fine, she blended in everywhere regardless, and currently she did the same as a shadow on the wall behind the large figure that was Joe Macayle.

She felt a little bad about knowing his idenity even though he didn't know her's. Though really, on both accounts she had seen him volunteerily take off his mask and use his powers as Carrie on two seperate occasions. The second one, she even had to remind him to put the dang thing on before the crowd came too. Thank god no one was recording that freaking circus. Really though, if she thought about it, it wasn't much of a disguise. The helmet didn't even really cover his face at all, and he dressed almost exactly the same civilian wear or not. This with a number of reasonings was one reason she thought she could just step out of the shadows and reveal herself, however, the reason that kept her there were the most evident. The incident with Grimalkin had shaken her a bit on how sure she was at keeping this up, and she wasn't prepared to talk her way out of knowing something she shouldn't.

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Jessica had set down a few blocks away and now was walking with the crowds, looking for any of the heroes from the rooftop. She hadn't expected to see Joe out of costume, but after a quick double-take she smiled and walked over. "Hey Joe," she said. "Can't say I've ever seen you like that." For her part Jessica was dressed in black jeans (old), a Megadeth tee-shirt (Blake's), and a wide, studded black belt (new). Her shoulder-length hair had been left to fall freely around her face, and a length of chain went from a belt loop into a back pocket. The titanium bracelet she always wore had been joined by plain steel bands around several fingers on either hand. Despite the preparations she was obviously and painfully out of place, and she felt it. Her eyes were always moving, never resting on anything for long, and every few second she craned her hand around to check behind her. She kept rocking from her heels to the balls of her feet and back, and she stuck her hands in the back pockets of her jeans to stop herself from fidgeting. Even so, her voice was a little too loud, her smile a little too bright.

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Morgan stepped out of an alley, a bag slung over his back. The teen looked a tad furtive, looking over his shoulder and jumping at shadows every few seconds; as if he expected someone to step out of them brandishing a ruler and an expulsion notice every few seconds.

Why am I out on this kind of job? Why am I risking the wrath of Summers? Am I bloody suicidal? I could've gone to Summers and told him everything I'd found. I could've told him, oi, we've got a psychic dude running riot doing nasty stuff. Why didn't I do that? Why? He hasn't called me in for that buisness in Avalon, so why am I pushing my luck like this? That's it. I'm cracked. 100% pure loco. And doomed. So very, very doomed. How doomed am I?

Crowe shook his head, walking up behind the fellow who most resembled Cannonade. If you squinted. Very closely. He tapped the large incognito hero on the shoulder; when Macayle turned around he saw a fairly well-built teen in a pair of blue jeans, a black pea coat buttoned up the front, and a pair of plain black spats. Simple enough to blend in with the crowd if he wanted to (he hoped). The face wasn't familiar to the blue-collar hero, but a glance at Morgan's rather...unique eyes quickly reminded him of a fellow in black he'd run into on a rooftop earlier that day...

Crow smiled wryly.

"Caw."

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