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GranspearZX

A Fool's Errand (IC)

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GM

Months had passed since Supercape's run in with Caliber and the Motor City Maulers. It certainly wasn't an uneventful few months either; since that time, Alexander Umbridge had recovered, but had almost immediately gone into hiding, still deathly afraid of what might happen to him. His briefcase had gone completely missing, and it seemed that the only real lead to its whereabouts were the motorcycle outlaws that had been arrested trying to kidnap Umbridge. So far, though, none of them were saying a word--even before their lawyer showed up. The fact that they even had a lawyer was astounding, let alone one as seemingly well-connected and competent as she was.

Despite the length of time that had passed, it left Supercape with a number of clues: the tarot card, the jailed bikers, or even Umbridge himself if he could be located.

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GM

Even months after the incident, Supercape found it possible to dig up information on Caliber. It certainly wasn't easy, as most people had never even laid eyes on the man. It helped, though, that the FBI had more information than Freedom City's police department.

Agent Jonas Harper wasn't exactly what you'd call a normal agent. He fit the profile of the 'man in black' sort rather than a desk jockey. A few inches under six feet, he carried himself as if he were twice that height, and he seemed especially interested in the card Caliber left behind. Meeting in an unused interrogation room, Harper agreed to share what he knew about both Caliber and the organization he worked for. Still, he couldn't help but flash a few skeptical looks at Supercape behind his Ray-bans.

"Ah, so you've met Caliber... also known as Carlo Azevedo. Brazilian DNAscent with radioactive powers..." He turned the card over in his gloved hand before handing it back to Supercape. "Among the Saikashuu, they call him the Hermit. So if he's here for a job... I don't think he's leaving until it's done. We've got a safehouse set up for Umbridge, so he'll be alright, for now. Never did find that briefcase of his, either. As for the Saikashuu..."

He spread out a number of files--a dossier on Caliber, as well as several other figures, most of them with blurry photos or approximate sketches. "Saikashuu literally means 'the worst humans'. And trust me, they try to live up to that name. Their members change, and no one really knows how many there are, but they've all got codenames based on the major arcana of the tarot. The Hermit, The Devil... even Death. From what we can tell, they're mostly mercenaries, not based in any city or country. Just sewing anarchy wherever they go and wherever they can get paid. Or at least that's what they want us to think."

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Supercape nodded, absorbing what the man said with eager ears, and processing it through his mind. His skills lay in esoteric sciences, but that did not mean that his formidable brain was not up to the task.

He was, truth be told, quite enjoying playing the detective for once.

He was in full garb, his blue and white shimmering costume and cape, flowing effortlessly as he moved.

"Anarchists, eh? Well, it's nice to see some political activism in action. But this - it smells more contrived to me. And what would anarchists want with a suitcase. It doesn't quite make sense to me..."

"The key must be what was in that suitcase. And for that, we need that weasel Umbridge. Is he talking yet? And is he safe? I can only imagine it will be a matter of time before this Caliber...or Hermit....chap comes for him again...."

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GM

"Safe? Yes. I've got a van watching the safehouse, plenty of plain-clothes officers inside and outside the apartment... He's pretty well covered. Umbridge isn't saying much, though. I think he's THAT scared of Caliber and whoever actually hired him. Still, I did manage to get this address."

The agent hands a business card to Supercape. It has his name and such on the front, but there's also an address written on the back. "It's an apartment building on the corner of Greely and 46th. Recently renovated, recently bought about two months ago. Umbridge won't talk about who bought it, but it wasn't the man he works for. Must've been whoever he was digging up dirt on. Been watching the place for a while. Doesn't seem to be anything suspect going on there. Plenty of new tenants, but they all seem pretty normal for a place in the Fens, according to the local police. Figured I'd take their word for it."

"As for our biker friends? Totally different group. Not even local. The Motor City Maulers are a pretty recent thing. Outlaw biker club out of Detroit. Moved here about a year ago, but didn't start making major waves until this kidnapping thing. It's not their usual M.O., either... according to what I got from the arresting officers, all these guys were just small-time wannabes. None of the heavy hitters were even on the scene, far as I can tell. One of 'em owns a garage here in the Fens, too, called the Silver Hammer. He's not much of a talker either."

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GM

"The Silver Hammer, eh?" said Supercape, mulling the possibilities over in his head.

He pressed his fingers to his temples briefly. Accents were never his thing, but he had lived long enough in Freedom City to pull of a respectable American accent if he concentrated.

He strolled to a nearby mirror and gazed into it. With a shimmering, his costume transformed!

It was still made of the same quantum cloth of before, the psycho-reactive, tough material he had personally constructed. But it had transformed into a leather jacket, complete with studs, t shirt, jeans, and thick biker boots. A thin veneer of the material darkened his eyes and subtly transformed his features.

"Not bad....might need a little work..." he added as the costume changed slightly again, become ever more refined.

"Now, what was the address of this man? and you know, I always wanted to drive a Motorbike...."

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GM

Agent Harper watched Supercape with a significant degree of skepticism, a single eyebrow rising over the rim of his shades as the caped hero changed before his very eyes. "...now THAT is a nice trick. How d-... never mind. Not important."

"The Silver Hammer's at 1533 56th Street. Looks like any old run down garage really, but it actually sees a lot of business, so the place is always busy. As far as a bike goes... I'm sure we can arrange something out of the impound. The guys you took out a few months ago won't need 'em where they're going, and they haven't tried auctioning them off just yet. In the mean time, I'm gonna see what I can find out about this apartment building. My cell number's on that card if you need a hand."

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GM

Supercape graciously took the card from the Agent. This was going to be a novel experience, he told himself, stretching his neck from side to side to limber up and ease out the knots.

Play it cool.

Supercape was an academic professor, and had little or know knowledge of culture of the street - either in England or in the States. But he was no fool. Behind the fuzzy gentle academic, he was quick on the uptake and smart of wit. He just hoped he would be able to pull this off...

"Thanks, I rather suspect I will be needing your help. We had best do this together, if at all possible. I am no field agent. Handling Radioactive Supercriminals, on the other hand, I do pretty well..." he smiled.

"For now, though, lets fire up that bike and get to 56th Street" he smiled, pulling his leather jacket into place.

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GM

"Normally, I'm not much for 'group' field work," Agent Harper began, shrugging lightly. "But if you need back up, I've got time. Safehouse checked in about 45 minutes ago, and there's no changes to report, so I'll tag along. Just let me get changed and I'll meet you at the impound."

After giving Supercape directions, he gathered up the files and left; shortly after, he arrived at the impound yard.

The impound yard was a pretty large, fenced in area with several dozen cars all over, parked there for various reasons--the most likely being unpaid parking tickets or other traffic violations. Towards the western end of the lot, closer to the DMV building, was the garage where Harper had indicated that they meet. It housed the less traditional vehicles that were seized during police investigations, and most of the motorcycles taken from the Maulers were inside. Harper was already there, dressed far more casually than he'd been back at the station; the back of his biker vest displayed a white skull and a skeletal hand holding a king and ace of diamonds. It was hard to tell if that was just some elaborate undercover disguise or if he'd really had that lying around somewhere. Even his bike was different from the Motor City Maulers' rides; his looked custom built from the ground up.

"Ah, there you are. Take your pick. ...you do know how to ride, right?"

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"Sure" lied Supercape.

A bicycle...

He hopped on the bike, and cracked his knuckles. The principle shouldn't be too hard - he knew how to drive a car, and could ride a bicycle, after all. He studied the controls carefully - throttle, brakes, gears...yes...it all looked familiar.

He smiled at the Agent.

"Piece of cake!" he said, full of confidence, as the engine ignited. The bike and hero yanked forward under the engine for a yard or two, then stopped. Then, his smile not fading, he repeated the inelegant maneuver.

"There, see?" he said as he applied the throttle more gently.

"Nothing can go wrong!"

And with that, he drove off towards 56th Street, as carefully as he could.

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GM

"..." Agent Harper sighed, unsure of if he should laugh or not. Nevertheless, he hopped onto his bike and sped out ahead of Supercape. In moments it was clear that Jonas had plenty of riding experience, but he didn't go so fast that he left the disguised hero behind.

The Silver Hammer Garage was a surprisingly large building that dominated the block. It looked like a well-renovated warehouse, three bay doors dominated the front, with the garage's sign hanging overhead. Though all three doors were open, there didn't seem to be very many people inside for a late afternoon. From the street, one could see a few figures moving back and forth within the garage itself, between a number of cars, trucks, and bikes being worked on. There was a distinct smell in the air as well; there was definitely some metalwork being done on the premises somewhere.

Harper quietly waited, away from direct view into the garage, for Supercape to arrive. "...well, you're the hero. How do you want to handle this?"

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"...." replied Supercape.

He hadn't really given it much thought.

When it came to handling radation and energy, there was nobody better. Handling a rough street gang was another matter, however. He had handled enough brawls in his time as hero to know the basics of pugilism, but he didn't much fancy his chances in an all out bar room brawl with some hardened bikers.

"Lets play it by ear" he said, as best he could.

Dismounting from his bike, he strolled up to, and into the Garage. Choosing the person most likely to be running the garage that afternoon, he walked up to him.

"Say, nice garage you have here. How would I go about speaking to the owner?" he said, bluntly.

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GM

The first person Supercape ran across was a young man with unkempt short black hair, barely in his mid-20s. He gave the disguised hero a skeptical look, glanced behind him at his similarly dressed companion, then gave a slight shrug. "Receptionist's in the other building," he said, pointing a gloved finger off towards the western end of the garage. Before he could say anything else, a loud voice echoed across the garage.

"Lucky! If you're out there runnin' your mouth again, I know you had time to finish the body work on that Carter job!"

"Aw, crap..."

"And I thought I said no visitors in the garage!" It was easy to tell at that point who was in charge--NO one was looking at the man who came walking out of the office, every booted step made with purpose and conviction. Well over six feet tall and built like an 18-wheeled truck, his intimidating size was only augmented by the biker vest he was wearing, the Motor City Maulers logo clear as day on it. It was covered in patches and looked well worn--probably over a decade old. He strode up to the three of them and clapped a huge hand onto Lucky's shoulder, making the significantly shorter man stagger a little bit.

"Can I help you boys?" His discerning eye went over them both--first Harper, then Supercape. His gaze lingered a bit longer on Supercape, but if he had noticed anything amiss with either of them, he didn't say anything immediately.

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Good lord he's huge...

Although he could split atoms and unleash their radioactive fury with a thought, such pyrotechnics would not serve here. He was undercover. Supercape knew he was in fair shape and had picked up a thing or two about fisticuffs, but this man looked like he knew what he was doing in a brawl. Really knew.

He did his best to relax.

"Um..."

He cleared his throat.

"We are in need of some cash, my friend. Real cash. Word was, this joint is good for cash, if you got the aptitude for...less orthodox work. What I mean is, we was wondering if there is any room to make some money. Any job, any situation...to be honest, we take anything right now. We got heat on us, and we need money fast..."

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GM

The big guy looked almost instantly annoyed; Lucky just blinked at SC, then looked at his boss.

"Ah... Mr. Armstrong?"

"...you two, come with me. You, get back to work." He gave Lucky a gentle nudge before turning around, heading into a fair-sized office towards the back. He stepped to the side as the two entered... then slammed the door shut, hard enough to shake the walls.

"I don't know who you've been talkin' to--probably that idiot Knives--but we don't roll like that. In fact, I told him if I ever saw him or those pansies that left with him again, I'd wring their necks." He narrowed his eyes a little bit at Supercape. "...I hope for your sake he didn't send you. And I REALLY hope you weren't in on that stupid kidnapping bit with that four-armed psycho either."

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"Knives?" replied Supercape, arching one eyebrow.

The man sounded genuine - and quite possibly on the level. He wasn't prepared to break cover quite yet then.

"With a name like that, sound's trouble..." he frowned, studying the giant in front of him.

"We didn't get involved in any kidnapping..." he continued "that's bad business, even if it is some trumped up little rich girl. But look, maybe we could help you out here? If this guy Knives is a problem?"

He shrugged his shoulders nonchantly.

"I mean, looks like you can take care of your self, don't get me wrong. But if you need someone outside, so to speak, to take care of some pansie?"

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GM

"..." He rubbed at the bridge of his nose with his forefinger and thumb, shaking his head. "Amateurs. But... y'know. Whatever. If you wanna deal with Knives, go right ahead; he ain't my problem anymore. I wouldn't be broken up over seein' him broken up though. In fact, I can tell you where he'll be. But if I ever see you two bargin' in here again like we're some two-bit criminals, I'll tear your arms off and use 'em as back scratchers."

He stepped behind his desk as he spoke, grabbed a pen, and wrote down an address. He handed it to Supercape, all without missing a beat or a breath. "Now get out while your legs still work."

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"Thank you very much!" said Supercape, involuntarily taking a step or two back at the man's threat, and elbowing his partner in the ribs.

"Very helpful, sir! won't forget it!" he added, bowing out with as much grace as he could muster, with the address in hand.

"This looks like the next piece of the chain..." he said to Harper once they had backed off and out a suitable distance.

"Vince...huh, well at least we know where he lives. But if our friend back there thinks this guy is trouble, well by his standards that probably means quite considerable trouble. It could be dangerous...are you up for this?" he asked as politely as possible, hoping Harper's machismo would not distort his judgement.

"If so, lets ride on..." he finished, clambering on top of his motorcycle.

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GM

"Don't let that guy fool you," Harper quipped as they left, well outside of earshot of the garage. "Every Mauler is trouble. Even former ones. Sounds like Knives is a marked man though. Not sure if it's even ethical for me to be involved at this point. ...not that that's stopped me before."

Harper took a peek at the address and took off the dark sunglasses covering his eyes--the first time he'd done it since meeting Supercape.

"I suppose I don't really have a choice. That address is the same as the apartment building Umbridge pointed us to." The agent mounted his bike, shaking his head as he replaced his sunglasses. "Lead the way then, hero."

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"Well, that sound's like we are on the right track then" said Supercape.

He pulled up his motorcycle a half block away from the address.

"Lets go on foot from here" he said to Harper. "Less obtrusive. And besides which, I can barely ride the thing" he confessed. He was just about road safe on it, but he wouldn't push his luck on the machine.

He concentrated carefully, pushing his extraordinary super senses, carefully analysing the area around the address. Simply entangling two spots - here, and there (the address) meant he could pick up the flux of energy to and fro at the addresses location.

"Hold on one moment" he said, raiding a hand. "I'll just take a look..." he continued, his eyes closed.

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GM

"What are y-..." Harper cut himself off, falling silent as he realized Supercape was concentrating. He remained quiet, eyes scanning the surrounding area as Supercape scanned further. Much, much further.

There was plenty of energy in the current area; power lines criss-crossed the Fens like any other part of the city, and telephone and cell phone signals seemed to have pretty normal and uninteresting traffic among them. The apartment building, located several blocks away, was much the same, though there was a single key difference that would give anyone pause if they could sense it.

Beneath the building, there was a small pocket of dimensional energy. It didn't seem terribly big, but it was seeing a small increase every few seconds. It was difficult to pinpoint its exact nature, but just judging by its size and rate of growth, it would be quite large in a matter of hours.

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"Worrying" said Supercape, as much to himself as his minder.

"There appears to be some kind of dimensional portal forming, under the building. And that rarely spells good news, in my experience".

A shimmering field of quantum energy formed around Supercape, as his costume once again changed to the blue and white colours of his normal caped appearance.

"Agent Harper, I fear this may be dangerous. I would advise reporting back to your agency. You can call me up by radio. But for now, I had better shut that down before it gets to large..."

He turned to Harper.

"I'm sorry, but when it comes to these things, there may be all sorts of problematic energies. SOmething yo may not want to be near without a HAZMAT suit..." he explained, as politely as he could.

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GM

"..." Harper started to say something to object. Before he could get a word in, however, his phone buzzed in his pocket. The agent frowned deeply and turned slightly, raising his right hand to his ear. "Harper. Go ahead." For several moments afterward, he didn't make a sound, save an occasional grunt of affirmation.

"Understood. Be there in 15."

He relaxed and looked at Supercape, nodding slowly. "Fair enough. Umbridge is ready to give an official statement so I'm off to deal with that. No sign of the Saikashuu's Hermit, either... I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Either way, I suggest you be extremely careful."

In moments, Harper was on his motorcycle and headed off, leaving Supercape to head to the site of the disturbance.

The five-story apartment building was a good distance away from the Silver Hammer Garage. For a place in the Fens, it looked pretty well kept, and judging by the debris in the alley, recently renovated. There didn't seem to be too many tenants wandering in and out of the building; most of them looked like workers still doing painting and the like inside. None of them seemed to pay Supercape a whole lot of mind, though he did garner the occasional look acknowledging his presence.

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Supercape concentrated a moment, and, with a bending of several dimensions, his image distorted and vanished, reappearing on the top of the building block.

He looked down at his costume. The element of surprise was not to be thrown away lightly, especially given the dangers ahead. On the other hand, speed was of the essence.

His costume changed to a generic serviceman's uniform. He could always pretend he was servicing the gas or water if need be...

He lightly ran to the access hatch of the building, tugging it. Locked.

With his mind fully focussed, he promptly untangled the molecules of the lock, watching it crumble and liquify. The door swung open with a tug, and he walked quickly down the stairs towards the dimensional distortion.

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GM

Supercape looked a little bit out of place, even among the uniformed men. Fortunately, no one else seemed to really notice one more among them, save for the occasional odd look as to why he wasn't working. The stairs wound down, from the roof down to the fifth, floor, third... The particular stairwell that Supercape chose seemed to be one that tenants didn't have regular access to, used specifically for maintenance needs. The door was wide open on the second floor, and there were three men in their mid-20s standing and sitting around, smoking.

"Hey," one of them said with a friendly nod, giving Supercape a once-over. The name 'Thomas' was sewn into his shirt. "You lost?"

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"Ah...no..." replied Supercape cautiously back at 'Thomas'

"I just gotta check out through there..." he said, pointing directly past the three men on the second floor.

"Got some strange fluctuations on the power grid. The fella's down at engineering said they needed some eyes on the scene, see if they can figure out whats eating up the juice!" he replied, with as straight a face as he could muster.

He could do without the delay, he thought, aware of the danger the growing irregularity posed. Thus galvanised, he stepped forward without waiting for an answer.

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