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The Sins We All Share (IC)

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May 02, 2012. 12:41AM

Chico Morricone had always been a powerful man, and he knew it. He revelled in that power, drank it in, and imposed it on anyone he could. It didn't matter how, whether violently, or sometimes just financially, but he loved to know that there were people under his heel, people he made to feel helpless. It was what had brought him to the top, what had made him a force to be reckoned with in this city. Oh, sure, he wasn't a super, but he had influence, and sometimes influence was better than superpowers.

Which was why this particular problem was rather unnerving. The painfully cold air of 3 miles above the Earth's surface stung his hands and face, and the roaring winds screamed in his ears. This time, he had no power as this strange creature that looked like it stepped outside of Hell kept its grip wrapped tightly around his throat, making his head even woozier with the already lethally thin air.

"Please... Please, let's go down a bit... it's... it's too high."

"Exactly the point, Chico. I don't want a soft landing for you."

"But... why..." His vision was blurring.

"Because you hurt people, Chico. You hurt people and you like it. Society doesn't need anymore of that, so I'm going to just remove the problem."

"I... I can change... Please... don't kill me."

"You can change, Chico. But you won't. So goodbye."

"Please, Oh... Oh... God...!"

The thing let go. Thankfully for Chico, he passed out before he hit the water.

~~~~~~~

May 03, 2012. 7:00pm


Bram had been wondering why he was getting strange looks all day, and this situation wasn't helping. He held his face in his hands, sitting in the couch of Marlow, a friend of his whom he often helped move or lift things.

"Bram... You're telling me you know nothing about this? I mean, I... I'm not gonna turn you in or nothin'. I like this turn of events. It's about time someone started wastin' these jerks."

Bram looked up, grunting.

"Goddamnit, Marlow! I don't kill! It's... Disgusting... wrong! Everyone has a chance to redeem themselves. Can't do that if someone kills you!"

Bram watched as Marlow's eyes widened, and he seemed uncomfortable.

"What? What did I do?"

"Sorry, Bram... I just never heard you swear before, even with somethin' like a "damnit". Usually just "goshdarnit" or "dang"..."

"Jesus, I'm sorry Marlow. Just... This isn't me. This is someone who looks like me, but isn't me. I don't know who it is."

Marlow patted Bram on the back. "S'alright, man. I believe you, but..." He looked at the TV. "We have to wonder what we're going to do about that."

The TV had a rather stern looking man with dark hair that had begun to grow grey at the temples. "The suspect of the attempted homicide of known crime-boss "Chico Morricone" has been officially announced as the "Penitent", a so-called hero who has brought the worst of the dark 80s mentality that once plagued our city back into the fore. This is just the first in the long string of attempted and successful homicides against criminals in our city, and worse, against two police officers in the line of duty..."

The Penitent stared at the television.

"...Crud."

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Starlight was rather concerned with how lax security was in some parts of the city. When she'd heard of this over-violent 'hero' calling himself Penitent, she had done a little bit of investigating on her own, but that wasn't exactly her forte. Instead she had sat back and observed the police of Freedom City; then one day took the form of an off-duty officer and walked right into the file room, made a copy of the case files, and walked back out. It had taken less than five minutes and no one had looked at her twice. Considering the city had come under siege from her own people before, such a lack of defenses against shapeshifting intrusion was worrisome -- but for the moment, Starlight was willing to take full advantage of it.

Now she was standing on a rooftop opposite an apartment owned by one Charles Marlow, a known associate of Penitent's. Part of her wanted to simply run in and take Penitent by surprise, but she didn't want to get the civilian caught in the crossfire. Of course, if Marlow was in on this vigilante justice streak...

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The day had started out so well, she had was just putting the finishing touches on her new office a little birthday present to herself, when an offhanded comment had sent it in a totally new direction. Rhonda her detective friend, and a follower of all things super related, mentioned they were hunting a possible vigilante called Penitent. Having been through hell with him only a couple of weeks before she had no doubt of his innocence and so decided to try and find the truth of the matter.

After several hours searching she had found out about a friend of his who sometimes helped him, what with Penitent not having a home of his own, so she figure he would be a good place to try and find this possible vigilante.

Having no doubt that the accusation on this hero were groundless Lucy decided on the direct approach and walked straight up to the door to speak with this Marlow.

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The red and black-liveried vigilante known as the King of Suits leaned against an alley wall, unknowingly observing the same building Starlight was.

He had an extensive network of informants in the homeless and dispossessed around the city, and had thus heard quickly about what had happened. The reliability of his sources, however, left something to be desired, and Marceau Suvou had a feeling as he pulled his mask into place that he was lacking a truly crucial bit of information.

"Alright, demonic, most likely can fly, flame powers are just about inevitable..." he muttered as he checked his weaponry, at last nodding once he was sure nothing would immediately blow up when he used it, and walking towards the back door This doesn't make any sense he thought in confusion as he approached the structure everything I've heard about this 'Penitent' speaks of a charitable and gentle man. Could he be required to do evil to do good or something... he shook his head, grumbling "I need to get more sleep sometime, I'm talking nonsense."

He continued the quiet, rapid walk, deep in thought.

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Marlow sighed as he heard a knock on the door. "Alright, I'm gonna get that. You will stay here." Marlow quickly poured Bram a glass of scotch. "Here, take this, it should calm your nerves a bit."

Bram nodded, and took the scotch, staring at it for a moment, before giving another nod of compliance to Marlow. He stared at the glass, watching the oily little swirls, before taking a sip and letting the burn rush down his throat. He sighed miserably, looking down at the glass again. Was it already the end of his career? What was the right thing to do, here? Should he just turn himself in? Was that the right thing to do? And what would happen when the cops came for him?

"Dangit..."

Meanwhile, Marlow opened up the front door, clenching the deringer in his pocket.

"Hello?"

He looked Revenant up and down.

"I mean hello."

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Starlight swore in an alien language as Revenant appeared at the apartment's front door. He couldn't see much around Marlow' bulk; just a tall woman in a formal suit, her skin unusually pale but otherwise not striking. If this was a confederate this meeting could go from bad to worse; if it was a random civilian who had stumbled on Penitent's lair, or worse a reporter who had tracked the vigilante down, this could get ugly in a hurry. Her entire body quivered oddly and broke apart into a cloud of fireflies, dimensionless points of light swirling madly for a moment before they funneled down to the window. The fog gathered beside the window and slammed back together and Starlight was whole once more. She floated there and peeked through the window, trying to remain unseen while still keeping an eye on the intruder.

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Lucy smiled at the Marlow response but didn’t fail to notice he was expecting trouble.

“You won’t need that gun, I’m here to help. Besides it probably wouldn’t do me much harm.†She raised her voice so hopefully his guest could hear her “I’m here to see Penitent and help he work out what’s going on, why don’t you tell him that Revenant is here. I’m just happy to wait here.â€

She wasn’t expecting any kind of trouble, not anything she couldn’t handle so she stood there ready to wait. And she thought sadly if Penitent does try to escape I’ll know the truth and then I can help to hunt him down.

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Marlow's face fell a little when he found that Revenant was looking for Bram instead of him, but he nodded. "Of course, madame." He nodded, and went to go get Bram.

"Dame is here to see you, Bram."

"Dame?"

"Hey, don't judge me, mister 'hyuck hycuk dagnabbit hoedown.' Anyway, she said to tell you her name was Revenant."

Bram's face lit up a bit. "Thanks, Marlow."

Under his breath, while Bram walked up, Marlow muttered "Lucky beggar."

Penitent smiled slightly as he saw Revenant, still clutching his drink, but his face fell a bit.

"Hey, Rev..." He sighed, looking down at his drink. "It's... It's good to see you, I just wish it were a better time... You're uh... Looking great..." He looked down at the floor. "I know you've heard, and I just want to say... It wasn't me. I know you don't know me too well, but I'd never kill anyone. I don't believe in that, and now the city's turned on me and... It's cuz of these stupid horns."

"You here to take me in, Rev? I won't fight."

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Sliding out of the night, and up to the lightly rusted back door of the apartment building with its fitfully flickering light, Marceau hummed softly to himself as he quickly tested the handle for that locked quality. When it gave under his hand with considerable wobble, he glanced almost shamefacedly at it as he he went inside.

Once within he closed the door behind himself with utter silence, gently easing it back into place before making his way towards his goal. He knew by experience that those who could fly liked being high up so they could slip off into the sky quickly, but he had begun on the ground floor to make certain he didn't miss the fellow. Squaring his shoulders in the dim amber coloring(calling it light would be too generous). he walked softly with long, heron-like steps down the hall, following the voices he could hear ahead, including one dimly familiar to his ears. Might be fortuitous gossip he thought, eyes searching the way before him with the utmost care.

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Starlight listened to the Penitent talk to the one called Revenant. Apparently this was another superhero, so he didn't need to worry so much about him hurting a civilian. And then he claimed his innocence in the whole matter and she was ready to scoff. Lots of villains protested their innocence. Except... She had so easily slipped through the police' safeguards by changing her form. Was it so impossible that the Penitent was the victim of such an attack? On the one hand if she revealed herself and her intentions to him and he was evil, or at least misguided, he might take the chance to get the first attack in, and that wouldn't help anyone. On the other hand, if she stayed with him and he did end up doing evil, she would be right there to stop him. There were risks, yes, but what was life but a risk?

There was a flare of brighter-than-bright light in the room and when it faded Starlight was there, hovering serenely. "The one called Penitent," she said, staring down at the grey-skinned man. "I am Starlight, the bearer of the Light of Pharos, of Logos." She floated down until her feet touched the ground, keeping her eyes on him. "And it is the light of Hope, for all those falsely accused and attacked."

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Treading lightly on the decaying hallway floor, the King of Suits was thoroughly alert, and thus heard the reverberating noise of people talking long before he saw them.

Hugging the wall, he sped noiselessly through the building towards the tell-tale sound, his long legs carrying him under, through and around patches of light that would have revealed him, and levering the weight of his feet with finely-honed care to keep from pressing down hard enough on the boards to make more than a gentle sigh, keeping his weight always in motion, never resting for an instant as he raced like a dusty zephyr upwards and onwards. The dim hallway lighting system, its outlets dimmed and some flickering dully, cast a shade of amber over the darkly-clad man that gave him far better cover than he would have had in a better-maintained building(something he found simultaneously gratifying, and troubling). A place like this would be useful to a demon he speculated internally as he hurried on padding boots perhaps they draw strength from the despair of those who live here?

With a swirl of his cape, he stopped sharply around the corner from the voices he had been following, leaned almost around the bend, and listened, hearing voices unfamiliar and...

Revenant?! Here? he thought in amazement, the undead investigator was known to him, they had met once upon a time when they and three others had attempted to put a stop to a scheme being carried out by the Conqueror Worm. They hadn't exactly been close, but he at least knew her vaguely. He was just mulling over the proper etiquette for such situations when he heard the words of Starlight:

"The one called Penitent, I am Starlight, the bearer of the Light of Pharos, of Logos. And it is the light of Hope, for all those falsely accused and attacked."

Well, that settles it he stepped around the corner, smiling politely at the small group "Good evening, I am the King of Suits, I happen to be investigating this distressing incident, and came here to ask the Penitent some questions" he nodded with a warm smile to Bram "...But as it seems he is currently under the Light's protection, I shall await his pleasure on that." So saying, he leaned against a handy wall and made a small wave at Revenant.

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Lucy gave a small smile “After all we went through you really think I would be here to do that? I just came here to hear your side of the story. So tell me…â€

Any chance of completing that sentence was lost, first by Starlight’s impressive entrance, then by King’s more subtle, but no more impressive entrance. BY now Lucy was difficult to surprise but even she raised an eyebrow at the sudden turn of events.

She took of the sunglasses she wore out of habit and stared into his eyes with her own solid black eyes, unlike some she didn’t possess any supernatural senses but she was a good judge of people and Penitent wasn’t acting like a cold blooded killer.

“I’d say that he’s innocent.†She turned to the other two, giving King of Suit a friendly smile “You better tell us what you know.†Turning her attention back to Penitent.

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Marlow looked at all the supers now in his home, and sighed loudly. "I shall... just sit here, I guess." He pulled out a chair, and slumped in it, looking a mix between irritated and bewildered as he put his derringer down on the counter, safety on.

The Penitent also scanned over all the newcomers, and sighed, folding his arms. "Yeah, I guess I should..."

"I really don't know any more than you guys, but I can say that it isn't me doing this sort of stuff. Heck, I've been at the bar most nights, playing billiards." He grinned sheepishly "I'm not exactly rolling in dough so competing is a way to earn some extra cash."

The Penitent's face fell again.

"But I don't kill people, regardless of who they are. I wouldn't call myself a hero, but I try to work towards absolution for people. To help them become better people... Or sometimes just make sure they survive to be better people. I'd never kill anyone because doing so takes away that chance." He glanced at all them. "I don't know who is doing this, but it isn't me."

He sighed, running his fingers over his horns.

"I've worked with Rev before. She knows what kind of person I am, and Marlow can attest to it as well. Like I said with Rev, if you're not convinced, I won't fight you, but I am being as honest as I can. I'm not a murderer."

He looked at the King of Suits "You can ask me those questions, if you want."

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"Glad to hear it!" Marceau said cheerily, launching himself slightly off the wall and stopping with a sharp wobble slightly closer to Bram. Taking out a small pad of paper and a slim red pen he explained to the Penitent "Seeing as you are all but proven not guilty of the killings((With regards to Mz. Lightbearer), most of my questions can be safely discarded. All that needs answering are these questions:" scanning the paper briefly he quickly found the short list, and rattled them off "First: Have you been informed or become aware of any changes in your demeanor recently?" he flicked the collar of his cape back upright after realizing it was drooping noticeably " Second, do you have known relatives with powers similar to yours? Thirdly, have you been approached by any admirers who seemed...unstable?" he said the word with great care "Fourthly, is there some unknown clause or catch to an-slash-the agreement that grants you your powers that might result in you attacking people without your knowledge? Fifth and finally, to your knowledge have you made any enemies who you know could make cloned or robotic duplicates of yourself?"

He smiled again at the Penitent "I'm fairly sure those don't cover all the potentialities, but they strike me as the most likely." he glanced with no little wonder at Starlight, adding politely "If I may, I would like to assist in you and these grand ladies' efforts to stop the creature posing as you." His bright blue eyes practically sparkled with hope.

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"Well, I don't recall anyone telling me I'm acting any different, no... And as for family with powers like mine, well that's not really how it works. The way I get my powers is a ritual where a thousand damned souls are bound to me so I can help'em go on and repent then bring 'em up to the Good Place, and the ritual only happens once every few generations, so... I couldn't have any family mimicking me like that, I don't think. As fer admirers... Well, I don't have any admirers. I'm a big guy with a funny accent who looks like a demon. As for the fourth, the only time I'm technically allowed to kill is when humanity risks extinction. But the fifth... There's Hamilcar... I mean, Weissnacht, but he's in prison, and there's the vampires, but... They're kind of lame. So I don't think so."

The Penitent sighed, downing his drink, then looked up at Starlight.

"Well, miss, if you're gonna help me... I appreciate it."

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"We should not forget another option," Starlight pointed out. "Whoever is doing these killings may simply be using the Penitent's form to disguise themselves. We should investigate and see if the victims have anything in common. If we can figure out who the next target is," she added, "we can wait for the perpetrator to attack them and ambush him."

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"I see..." murmured the King of Suits thoughtfully, scribbling down the Penitent's answers "Regrettable. Although, lame vampires are quite preferable to the other sort, in my experience at any rate" he added with a kilowatt smile "Well well, I suppose we'll find the true cause of this soon enough."

Starlight's reminder of the possibility that the victims had some intersecting trait got a look of honest surprise from him "..Ah, of course. I should have thought of that avenue."

He beamed cheerfully at Revenant "It is a pleasure to meet you again, Madam Revenant, have you been well?"

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Lucy gave a friendly smile.

“Still dead and kicking.â€

She stood up and wandered over to Marlow.

“Is there anything you need, we’re going to have to take you to a safer location. If we could work out your connection some of the victim friends could to. And they won’t be quite so friendly. On the plus side you get to spend more time with me.†She gave him a wink

Finally she turned her attention to Starlight and held out a hand “Hello I don’t think we’ve met I’m Revenant, but you can call me Lucy. I figure I’m among friends here.â€

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The Penitent nodded at Starlight.

"You've got a point there, miss. All we seem to be getting so far is that he's taking out criminals... Non-supers, it seems, and sometimes just cops that get in his way. I don't know who we could talk to since our... "friend" seems to have killed most of his victims."

His face wrenched at the idea of hurting cops. It was obvious the Penitent was not happy about this guy.

Marlow, meanwhile, was grinning rather broadly at Revenant. "Nah, I don't need nothin'. I'm used to needing to hide out every once in a while. PI, you see. Eheheh, don't make a lot of friends, and it seems my buddy doesn't either." He smirked. "But spending more time with you sounds lovely."

He looked a little more serious for a moment.

"But seriously, Lucy, right? Well... Make sure Bram's okay. He's a good guy, even if he is a big lug sometimes. I mean, yeah, he's a super, but... I just worry about him, alright? Especially if the guy framing him has all the powers Bram does..."

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"People do not exist in a vacuum," Starlight pointed out. "They have family, friends. Lives that were interrupted when the victim died. If we talk to them, perhaps we can understand a bit more of this imposter's reasons. Perhaps whoever it is even shares a connection to you, Penitent, that you unaware of. Tell me, have you angered anything with shapeshifting capabilities recently? The Grue Unity or perhaps a mageling with such power?"

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"For all we know at present an actual demon might be doing this," Marceau commented "as you have reminded us all, we really ought to go and at least try to interview those close to the victims. I'm sure we can talk along the way" he added cheerfully. Snapping the little green book closed, he deposited it back into his utility belt.

Turning to Marlowe he said politely "I'm sure we all would be quite happy to know what you do about all this, no matter how little it is."

He glanced out the nearby window, on the off chance someone had happened to be lurking about in a suspicious fasion below. In his experience things like that tended to happen with simply bizarre frequency, and he didn't want to lose a potential lead to whomever. Although, he added mentally this sounds like the work of a single agent, and they quite probably won't have much int he way of lackeys.

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The Penitent looked at Starlight. "Shapeshifters? No, I don't think so. I fought vampires, some kids who got into doing deals with Hell, a fool in a suit... No shapeshifters though, I don' think."

He folded his arms in thought.

"See, I can get aggressive in how I talk with the baddies and stuff, but I don't think any of them would go out of their way to slander me after jus' one meeting. Especially since I don't think any of them had the means to do so, so they'd have to find a way just to do it to spite me, and that seems... weird. I mean, Weissnacht, the suit guy hated me pretty badly, but I don't think he'd devote his life to ruining mine, no matter what I had said to him."

Marlow, meanwhile, looked at King of Suits with a quirked eyebrow.

"What? Me? Uh, well... I don't got nothing, sadly."

"Double negative."

"Shut up, Bram. But fine. I don't know what I can really tell you. Um... I only know from the news, sadly. I mean, normally I might have gotten a case about this now, but it's nothing's come my way. Uh... Well, I know Wojcik, the big crime boss is still alive. He's never gonna dance again, but he's otherwise fine, I think. Does that help at all?"

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"Let us start with some of the older cases," Starlight suggested. "I think I could learn something from Officer Edelstien. He was the first victim of our imposter to escape with his life; maybe he did something different or exploited some weakness." She looked around at the assembled superheroes. "I do not intend to approach him 'in-costume' as it were, but I would not turn down some assistance."

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"An excellent idea" agreed Marceau "Iif there is some tactic or limit to the imposter's powers that helped him live, learning it would be invaluable. Which of us do you think should go with you to talk to this Mr. Edelstien?" he asked "I look fairly ordinary, but if our customer comes around for another try I won't be a vast help in such a fight" he admitted "Lady Revenant is not only passable as a regular human, but also quite good at talking to people, as well as very strong and resilient from my experience, she might be your best bet. Mr. Penitent would be difficult to disguise and might arouse a rather negative reaction, though he would be admirably suited to dealing with this vile doppelgänger" the lean Frenchman shrugged, letting his cape swish around to the front and cover most of his upper body, thingking hard what to do. "Perhaps, and this a great 'perhaps', we could split into two parties, with you and Revenant going to talk directly with our Mr. Edelstien, while I and the Penitent wait at soem concealed location outside in case of an attack?"

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"I believe myself and Revenant should be sufficient," Starlight averred. "I am not unable to disguise myself, and if the fake Penitent should attack I'm sure we can drive it off; it has never attacked a superheroic opponent yet, and we are not -- or will not -- be obvious in our use of powers, so we should be able to overwhelm it. In the meantime," she continued, "you two might want to check up on the families of the two dead victims. I do have wonder why he only chose to kill two of the victims, though."

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