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Date: June 17th, 2011 (Friday), later afternoon/early evening

Continued from ArchEvil: Revelations

The Brownstone! Home to the Interceptors! Dynamo, Fulcrum, Jack of all Blades, and Jill O'Cure, plus newer members Geckoman, Thrude, and Willow, were in the basement training hall, joined by former members Colt and Grimalkin, who had stopped by to pick up some forgotten items and were roped into the exercise by Jack. Some blocks away, a new potential recruit, Ferros, approached, having been told by Archeville himself -- secretly the founder of the fabled team! -- to come by for a tryout with them.

ArchEvil appeared in the basement of the Interceptors' Brownstone, next to Vince's computer core. "Hey, boss-man, the gregarious AI's upbeat voice greeted, appearing in mechanic's overalls on the monitors along the walls. "Whatcha do- yeow! What happened to-"

"Attend: Stratus. Nietzsche. Wave. Neper. Tornado. Shark. Venus Flytrap. Viktor. Vince. Viktor."

Vince's image froze, the eyes went fuzzy, then his entire form flickered as the long-buried overrides were activated and hidden subroutines booted up. Now the AI was dressed in a very crisp, black uniform, with hobnailed jackboots and a leather trenchcoat. "I obey, Herr Doktor," he said, all trace of his jovial nature gone with the click of the back of his heels.

"As shall you all, Vince. As shall you all."

And now to see to my other children...

ArchEvil walked out of computer core chamber and towards the training room, as a hunchback!Vince began pulling on virtual cords, locking down the Brownstone. He entered the training room, using his Belt's intangibility function to simply bypass the door, so as not to interrupt their session.


Ah, I do so love seeing my minions train. Especially lovely Mona, the way she- ah, no, time for that later.

Wait - is that Geckoman? What the devil is he doing here? Did that simpering idiot recruit him, too! Good thing I'm stepping in now before he recruits Push!

Eventually, of course, the Interceptors did notice the strange bare-chested fish-man in a labcoat and khakis standing in their danger room.

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Geckoman dodged a blow badly, and landed flat on his back a few feet away from the weird thing in the labcoat. He leaned his head back, so he could get a good, if upside down, look at it."Huh."

He rolled up onto his head, in a hand stand like pose, and spun in a loop back to his feet, down in a tense crouch. "Guys, don't look now, but I've suddenly got a strong and overpowering smell of tuna-cheese melt. Damn you, sir, I was hungry as it was." He shook his fist in mock outrage.

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Colt had indeed gotten roped into the exercise. Quite hard, in fact. He was busy taking cover against a nearby wall when their visitor walked in. He raised the training laser pistol in his hands up near his head ready to roll around the corner and take a shot. A thin silver wedding band on his left ring finger gleamed as it caught the light. He looked past the barrel of the pistol, and addressed Doctor Archeville, "Well, Doc, I reckon'a know yer all'bout goin' all out'n all. Mutatin' yerself rather'n dressin' up. But don't'cha think't's 'bit early fer'a Halloween get up?"

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Grimalkin was clinging to the ceiling, where she'd been hurling insults down at new Interceptor Geckoman when the strange creature blithely entered the the training area. Up until that point, it had been a total blast; she'd forgotten how much fun these sessions could be. Maybe later Jack would letter her demonstrate 'Apples and Oranges' for the newbies?

But the arrival of the odd slimy thing broke the mood; it smelled rather horrific, but there was a familiar scent mixed in with the dank smell of the deep. Gracefully dropping down to the floor, the shapeshifter went to her husband's side and twined her fingers into his hand. She felt a slight twinge of apprehension in her tummy.

"Uh, Dok is that you in there? What happened?"

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Fulcrum was having a wonderful time of the session. Her newest team mate proved to be quite capable. Not to mention a great partner for the over-sized flier! At the moment though she was merrily swinging at the green-clad hero and pulling her punches as not to flatten him.

Her cosmic senses picked him, or it, up first. Then the smell hit and offended even her non-super nose. She dropped her defensive stance and walked up behind Geckoman. Blinking, she asked warily, "Viktor? Is that you? Very not funny."

Of course, she'd several more personal reasons for thinking the situation awkward.

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The swordsman known as Jack of all Blades had for once not joined in on the training exercise himself, observing from the raised control room and adjusting the Wreck Room's programmed simulation on the fly as the crowded space below was consumed with merry melee. As the frightening figure slid through the solid walls, he stood abruptly from his seat, shutting down the various hazards and obstacles protruding from the walls, ceiling and floor as he called down. "Everybody, back off and guard up!" he barked, his usual carefree demeanor dropping in favour of the leadership role he'd found himself occupying more and more of late. "If I'm seeing what I think I'm seeing, that's an Atlantean monster deal, serious bad news."

In the Wreck Room itself, Jill O'Cure had been using her force fields to throw up shielding walls and sudden barriers in the paths of her quicker teammates, but she turned around as well as one by one the Interceptors looked toward the door. "A Deep One," she confirmed, sliding back a step in surprise and wracking her memory for the passing references she recalled from the Claremont library. "Part Atlantean, part Serpent People. Uh, they, what was it...? They have a rep for mind control!" the young woman blurted as she remembered finally. "If that's really the Dok..."

"Vince, how the hell did that get in here?" Jack shouted at the monitor before him, stepping to the emergency hatch that would let him into the main body of the Wreck Room himself. "I thought we'd fixed the security for that!"

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Dynamo for one was enjoying the group session. With so many new members, and the fact that his own powers had radically changed, he wanted to get a good sense of where everyone stood in relation to everyone else, and everyone else was comfortable in the knowledge of each other's abilities, it was the only way they could act as a team. Speaking of acting like a team, it was a good thing the rest of the Interceptors knew what they were looking at because he most assuredly, had no idea what so ever. Ordinarily, protocol in the situation was to make with the stab-punching ASAP, but seeing as how it was Dok (apparently, he was taking the words of the other Interceptors on this one) it required a moment of analysis. Maybe one of his experiments just went awry and needed their help? Surely if he had wanted to do them harm he would've just attacked while he had the element of surprise, while they were distracted by the training simulation. Heck he would've just picked them off one by one, seeing as how he likely knew their schedules inside and out. And if he really wanted to -

Okay, not helping. thought Dynamo as he mentally chastised himself. "Uh... Dok? You in there?" asked Dynamo cautiously as he subtly prepared for plan knucklesandwich in case the answer was a resounding no.

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The Interceptors, old and new, certainly made the training session a challenge. Time and again Willow had to call upon the training and techniques Jack had taught her not that long ago just so she could remain competitive because, much to her chagrin, time had eroded her power and skill to such a degree that she was ostensively the weakest link in the group.

The training came to abrupt halt as the Interceptors started to notice the intruder. The dryad looked upon it with a puzzled frown but then her amber eyes narrowed in the wake of Jill's exclamation.

Willow's suit of armor made a sharp cracking noise as it suddenly increased in size and the protective layers of super-dense plant matter thickened. The arms of the suit split apart and the newly formed second set of arms morphed into spiked battering rams. As Willow's head, normally left uncovered, sank down into the armor she hissed, "Abomination."

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"Now, now, Willow," the strange Piscine!Dok said, wagging a finger at her, "no need to be rude."

Ah, yes, I can still be identified even in this form, at least by those who know me well. Well, know my cloying counterpart well.

And dear, sweet Fulcrum can sense even the faint brush I had with Omega's armor. If my dummkopf doppelganger hadn't burned out the matter duplicator last week, I'd have made a copy and brought her the original. Ah, I did at least get some good scans in, and I can always go back and retrieve it once Wander and those other meddling kids are dealt with.

A 'Deep One,' she says? Known for mind control? What a fascinating coincidence...

"And good eye, Colt, Jill" he continued, winking as he shot finger-guns at the two. "Yes, it is me," he clapped his hands together and rubbed them, "though the explanation for my current state will have to wait just a few moments. First, I need to give you a quick debrief for our next mission." He raised his left hand, taloned forefinger extended:

"Gold is for the mistress — silver for the maid —

Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade.

'Good!' said der Doktor, sitting in his hall,

'But Iron — Cold Iron — is master of them all.'"

Colt, Grim, Dynamo, Fulcrum, Jill and Jack all felt a tingle through their heads as subliminal commands -- implanted over the course of months, hidden in mission briefings and in the screen savers on the Brownstone's and MAVERIC's terminals, and reinforced by nanites (introduced last Christmas) which were suppressing or agitating certain parts of their brains -- were activated by the code phrase he had just uttered. They all felt an overwhelming, fanatical loyalty to the fish-man, to Doktor Archeville, their master and savior, who would help them make the world a better place, for everyone. They lived for him, they would die for him, and they would kill for him. Their clothing, too, shifted, altered by more nanites now active in their systems, from their normal appearance to something much more sinister.

Plot! Colt, Dynamo, Fulcrum, Grimalkin, Jack of all Blades, and Jill O'Cure have all failed a save vs. a Conscious Mind Link Mind Control 15 effect. They all get Hero Points, which you'll need for the big fight later!

This was discussed and cleared with the players months ago.

Don't worry, Ferros, Gecks, Thrude and Willow will get some HPs soon. :twisted:

"Ah, this shall do nicely," he hissed, smiling a sharky smile, "yeesss."

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Fulcrum felt...something. She couldn't tell what it was exactly, but the sensation felt distinctly unpleasant. Then her thoughts began running amok inside her head. All plans went out the proverbial window as she concentrated just to focus on this fish-like Viktor. Unfortunately, the more she contemplated her fiance, the more she grew to like him in this new form.

Thankfully, instinct kicked in as he uttered the last syllable of his subliminal command. Consciously, Fulcrum didn't know what was happening and didn't have time to unravel the mystery. Her years of heroing had conditioned her to run on intuition when needed, and right now that was all that was functioning in her mind. Which propelled her forward at superhuman speed, one open hand aiming for Piscine!Dok's face.

She froze in mid stride. Her hand stopped less than an inch from engulfing his head. Frozen there like a statue, her eyes clouded over into a red glow, and her costume darkened into its new form. Momentarily her posture straightened to attention, arms at her sides and eyes burning into the mad doctor.

"Awaiting orders, Master," she droned in a rumbling monotone. An eerie undertone would have been instantly recognizable to Wander or others with memories of Omega's voice.

Trapped inside her own mind, part of her who remained Mona screamed out, only to be silenced as her hand approached her 'enemy'. All that remained was a red haze leading back to her new master and an undeniable urge to obliterate anything that so much as inconvenienced him. All she needed was the word.

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"Well, poop," swore Geckoman, sliding up off the floor in a flash, until his back was against the wall. "Guys... um... guys... ?" Then the look of panic left his face, and he set his jaw.

"Well, guess what, Captain Cod?" smirked the green wonder at Fishy!Dok. "You're clearly not the supergenius everyone claims you are, as apparently you didn't think to get all the new recruits either! Pah, and when you look at a man who thinks half-assing his plan then turning himself into mackerel is going to work, you cod just laugh, and laugh, and laugh, and laugh... Really, to skip ahead, because I could and would do that for a while..." He raised his hand, and made a 'bring it' gesture with his fingers. The other hand was already clutching a Geckorang. "Well, shut up and bring on the funk, bring on the noise!"

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The transformation for Dynamo could likewise not be fought off. He felt as if he was in an elaborate trap, and he only realized its true significance too late. His posture became rigid and dignified as the transformation infected his mind. Clicking his heels together, he saluted the esteemed Doktor with an arm across his chest. "It is an honor to serve you Herr Doktor." he addressed Archeville as a lieutenant might address his general.

He broke his salute to address Geckoman and the others who were not affected. "We're not here to fight. We're offering you a choice. A choice we have all made of our own volition. A choice we made to better this world. You must excuse the dramatic revelation, but we are known for our eccentricities. Herr Doktor is responsible for some of the greatest scientific advancements of our time, of any time. His hand is the firm hand of righteousness that guides humanity to a better tomorrow. We are the Iron Grip of that hand. We will bring this land to a greater tomorrow through a perfect Unity. Join us and become who you were meant to be, please."

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When Dr. Archeville began his strange chant, Colt was one of the first to react, as he always was. In the space of just a few seconds, he'd dropped his training pistol blaster and began drawing his revolver. He simultaneously disengaged Grim's hand hand shoved her behind him. He had the weapon out, and ready to fire before the first gun had even touched the ground.

He squeezed the trigger. Springs compressed, mechanical levers began to raise. The gun was about to fire.

Colt stopped.

For a second, he stood, arm outstretched, gun aimed at the strange new form of his old team's leader. Then he spun the revolver around his finger and holstered it again with practiced ease.

Colt listened to Dynamo's speech, all the while fishing around in the shirt pocket of his brand new black shirt.

"We're not here to fight. We're offering you a choice. A choice we have all made of our own volition. A choice we made to better this world. You must excuse the dramatic revelation, but we are known for our eccentricities. Herr Doktor is responsible for some of the greatest scientific advancements of our time, of any time. His hand is the firm hand of righteousness that guides humanity to a better tomorrow. We are the Iron Grip of that hand. We will bring this land to a greater tomorrow through a perfect Unity. Join us and become who you were meant to be, please."

By the time the speedster finished speaking, Colt already had a large cuban cigar in his mouth, lit and puffing smoke. "Reckon Sparky's got th'right a't." He drew the rifle from his back. Opened the chamber and slid in a large black shell with strange symbols printed on it in red. "Naw there ain't no need't be tellin' y'all 'bout what'll happen fer disagree'n wit'us right? After all, us here's th'new law'n town." He clicked the chamber of the rifle shut. He held it downward at an angle in front of him, aimed at no one in particular, confident he could bring the weapon to bear at a moment's notice.

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Jack vaulted over the waist high wall that remained as the glass between the control room and the Wreck Room retracted, forgoing the ladder built into the wall of the larger room and dropping down to the floor. Midway through the graceful fall he grunted abruptly, landing in a heavy three point crouch instead of the nimble running stance he'd intended. By the time he stood up, black coat slowly sliding back down his frame, his expression had been schooled into neutrality tinged only with a mild note of annoyance. Apparently already bored with the whole affair, the fencer leaned against the wall and crossed his arms over his chest. "Why are we even discussing this?"

"Kind of a no-brainer," his sister agreed in a distracted drawl, her attention focused on the sickly green light playing about her hand as she turned it over and examined it from different sides. Dark spots of flotsam seemed to sift slowly through the virulent glow, moving about in response as she spread her fingers then clenched them into a fist with a broadening grin.

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Willow, encased in the hulking suit of armor, twisted around to look at Jack. Deeply recessed in the armor and shadowed by the viewing slit, amber eyes could be seen widening with mounting horror.

Those eyes suddenly narrowed, horror replaced by white hot fury and murderous intent. The bark covering the suit of plant armor darkened to an ash grey hue, row upon row of long blood red thorns sprouted along its exterior and green-tinged purple flowers wreathed both pairs of massive fists.

With a savage, grief-mingled cry of fury, Willow charged toward the Abomination she once knew as Doktor Archeville, the heavy suit of armor causing the floor to reverberate with each step.

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"Gold is for the mistress — silver for the maid —

Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade.

'Good!' said der Doktor, sitting in his hall,

'But Iron — Cold Iron — is master of them all.'"

As soon as The Thing That Was Once Dr Archeville spoke, Grim felt a shiver race down her spine like cold water; as it passed, there was a delightful sensation as her costume transformed, and she suddenly felt more relaxed than she ever had in her life. There was no doubt, no fear; just obedience.

"Reckon Sparky's got th'right a't." He drew the rifle from his back. Opened the chamber and slid in a large black shell with strange symbols printed on it in red. "Naw there ain't no need't be tellin' y'all 'bout what'll happen fer disagree'n wit'us right? After all, us here's th'new law'n town."

"Oh baby, save me a puff!" The shapeshifter playfully plucked the cigar out of her husband's lips and took a long drag. "Mmm, yes! That's the good stuff!"

When the dryad lunged for their mentor (and now master), Grim casually gestured with her hand, and a brick wall suddenly materialized, running across the Wreck Room floor and blocking her path. Rolling the cigar between her fingers, the changeling pouted cruelly.

"Oh, I'm sorry, Little Miss Flower Power! This team's for heavy hitters, not for their 'bed 'em and forget 'em' girlfriends." She lovingly replaced the cigar in the corner of Colt's mouth. "You have to be committed."

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"Well, Doc, I reckon'a know yer all'bout goin' all out'n all. Mutatin' yerself rather'n dressin' up. But don't'cha think't's 'bit early fer'a Halloween get up?"

Thrude glared at Colt. "William! How dare you imply that this bottom-feeding degenerate is our prestigious employer?!" She twisted her wrist, twirling the ebony haft of her massive rune-etched warhammer within her grasp. "I know not how you penetrated our defenses, Phantom, but setting foot in this fortress was your first mistake! Letting your disgusting presence be known to the warriors within, that shall be your last! Yours will be far from the first foul ichor Vendrvapn has spilled upon this ground!"

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The Nordic goddess's eyes narrowed as, one by one, her newfound comrades fell under the sway of the Germanian puppet-master.

"No, Geckoman. I commend your unceasing valor, but this day, you must flee. Flee to your ship, and take to the sky. Warn the people of this city that Viktor Archeville is no mere engineer as he claimed, but a Thule sorceror like his grandfather before him. Tell them that when a mad Teutonic tyrant threatened all they hold dear, this time, the Aesir stood not with him, but against him. Tell the true defenders of Freedom to rally their forces, in what little time the deaths of a dryad and a goddess could buy them."

The meter-long mithril head of her great hammer remolded itself like clay, flattening and sharpening into the razor-sharp double-blade of a battle axe. Bolts of azure lightning popped and hummed as they crawled up and down her body. "No quarter, Fiends, asked nor given."

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"Your argument has merit," mused Geckoman, hand idly stroking the pouch on his belt which contained his smoke bombs. "Besides, frankly, the evil sexual tension in here is just making me want to vomit. Or is it the smell of rotting salmon? I mean, that's nasty."

He suddenly bounced up, planted both feet squarely on the wall, and smashed a smoke pellet against the ground. Not even waiting for the smoke to unfurl, he bounded off the wall like a shot, rolling on the ground five times before propelling himself up to his feet in a flat-out sprint. "Hasta la vista, crazy people!"

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'Phantom'? Yes, I really should go 'thank' her for her role in this. Her, and her vampire husband... and that little abomination of a child they have.

"A shame I didn't have time to bring you three under my thrall," Deep One!Archeville said to Thrude, Willow, and the sprinting Chris, seeming to pay no heed to the former Claremonters escape, "but it took several months for my addition to Archeville's Christmas gifts to get their hooks sunk into them. And as mildly amusing as it would be to see how the three of you fare against my six Auffängers, I am on something of a schedule, so... Vince!"

Uruk-hai!Vince appeared on the monitors set into the training room's halls, sword in one hand, shield in the other, a white A crudely painted on his forehead. "Jawohl, Herr Doktor!," he snarled.

"Beginnen autodestrukt. Drei sekunde timer. Danach, dich hochladen zu computers an der Freiheit Halle."

"Jawohl! Drei!" Vince clanged his sword against his shield.

Ferros, the Interceptor's newest potential recruit, knocked on the Brownstone's front door.

"Come along -- there's so much science to do!"

Should I use a different name when making my global address? Something authoritative, respected, yet also tied to the sciences. An anagram, hinting, taunting, at the one behind it all?

"Zwei!" Another clang.

The six Interceptors gathered closer to the vile fish-man.

A religious title, both mocking those staid institutions and throwing any meddling do-gooders off my track? The Rev Doktor Helical? Or maybe something Soviet... Doctor Mikhail Viral?

"Ein!" Another clang.

And in a flash of blue-grey light, they disappeared.


"Null!" A final clang.

The Brownstone collapsed as the energy core overloaded, casing the wiring to overheat to the point where it disintegrated the supports/'skeleton' of the Brownstone.

(Continued in News and ArchEvil: Load-Bearing Bosses)

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