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Vanguard Charge(Crusader & King of Suits) (IC)


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Dr. Green's Volcano Base, July 2012

Voltage had transported the two-member infiltration team to a small entryway at the back of the volcano base, which was mostly used as a sally port for the patrols the island's grandiose former ruler had scheduled for every hour of the day. It hadn't helped him much, something Dr. Green understood fairly well and had incorporated into his own defense strategy, keeping the soldiers mostly inside.

The steam from the dense and thriving jungle that draped all over the island hung in the morning sky, with the morning sun just rising over the horizon. The fortress clung deep into the side of the mountain, almost invisible in the dark rock. Getting inside was obstructed by a small and inexpensive keypad, a rather visible door, and the defense system that the previous owner had constructed and Dr. Green had improved upon.

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Clark had a lot to which he needed to adapt, even before arriving on the island. That, in and of itself, wasn't really a bad thing, and he was rapidly feeling less self-conscious and more like himself. He was as prepared as he could possibly be given his meager resources, and he had allies on whom he could undoubtedly rely. It really was quite the comfort, being as far away from home as he was with no one knowing where he actually was or what he was doing.

Crusader didn't mind the heat and humidity so much. It felt a little bit familiar; something one of the past Crusaders must have encountered. There was no escaping the excitement and anxiety of it all, though, even as the other team began to directly assault the compound. Stormbreaker and Voltage were doing their part, and now it was time for him and the King of Suits to do the same.

"Here we go..." Crusader muttered under his breath, mostly hidden as he scanned ahead visually. Sneaking in seemed like it would take a little more technical expertise than Crusader had, making him doubly glad he wasn't doing this alone.

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Quickly diving into the cover of the underbrush, the King of Suits lay still and watched the way ahead with great care. Taking out his small and battered binoculars for a moment he gave the small doorway a once-over before he began creeping forward, keeping his cape over his bright red armor.

Marceau was all too used to missions like this. The mist and gentle morning heat was a nice change from the fog and morning cold that he had gone through for several years throughout Europe, but otherwise he felt the same clenching of quiet nervousness of being alone that he had back then. He glanced over at Crusader and put a finger to his lips as he slipped closer 'Not alone' he reminded himself with a quiet smile. This wasn't fighting brutes in a railway yard, but the other man's skill was a definite comfort.

Slipping up to the doorway he withdrew a small jumble of electrical tools from his belt, and prepared to get to work. Pausing for a moment he gave Crusader a thumbs-up and a nod. Then he turned to the team's first obstacle, eyes narrowed with concentration.

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The keypad's electronics were crude, but still delicate enough that tampering was a dangerous thing to try. Just when it seemed like the current was about to be tripped, right when it seemed about to have gone just too long..the door opened to the sides with a whirr of its gears and pulleys, revealing a dark gray and narrow corridor lit by bright yellow lights branching off at diagonals into other passageways.

In the distance, the sounds of the distraction team became suddenly very, very audible. Blistering hails of laser blasts, electric jolts and miniature gales roaring far out of view.

From without, the faint sounds of rushing booted feet and shouts of orders drifted to the ears of the two heroes, their confined origin making it impossible to determine their true origin.

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Crusader wasn't at all disheartened by the fact that he couldn't do anything. His back was turned to the King of Suits as he worked to get them inside, standing guard while he waited. His strength--aside from being adept at punching things--was more tactical than martial. Besides that, this was hardly a one person job, stealth or no stealth. He was almost certain his grandfather had done something like this during World War II, but concentrating on what would have been far too distracting.

The sound of Voltage's jolts and supporting laser fire snapped him out of his train of though, returning the crimson-clad hero back to the matter at hand. One the door was opened, he moved in right behind the King of Suits. His first thought was to scan the inner corridor for cameras, hoping to stay out of sight of whatever soldiers were approaching from the outside.

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Looking sharply at the hallway as it was revealed, the King of Suits drew one of his less explosive cards from his belt and stalked quietly over to the doorway, pressing his back against it and peering inside.

To Crusader he suggested "As you have a shield, why don't you go first while I keep you covered? Don't worry" he added with a grin that flashed in the sunlight "I have impeccable aim."

"First order of business, find some soldier on their own, and find out from them where Green's computers are kept. We can't let this drag on too long while we scour every nook and cranny."

While he spoke Marceau also kept a sharp eye out for cameras, of any size or placement.

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The path was clear, at least as far as could be told from the fact that the shouts, hurrying feet and noises of battle weren't coming from anywhere near that back entrance. Evidently, Dr. Green wasn't expecting any kind of other attack when the pair who had destroyed his work in South America were charging in full-bore.

Still, that was no reason not to move quietly and quickly, as any warning might bring the panicked might of a small army of new supers crashing down on their heads. At the very least they could hope the doctor wouldn't leave any real heavy hitters to guard the computer room, instead sending his powered soldiers to face Stormbreaker and Voltage.

The place was stark and grays featured heavily, the floor was mirror-like in its polish and the lights glared constantly.

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Crusader gave a single nod, moving ahead of Marceau and slightly increasing his pace. It was always a stressful thing when both stealth and time were important factors, but if nothing else, Clark could adapt to a situation as needed. He definitely wasn't so naive that he'd think that Dr. Green would be dumb enough to send out ALL his heavy hitters against Voltage and Stormbreaker. To that end, even as they moved, Crusader was still mentally and physically on his guard, adrenaline keeping him on alert.

"Sounds like they're all headed for the party up front," he mused, gripping the leather strap holding his shield against his arm. "Gotta be a couple stragglers somewhere."

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"Yes, at least a smattering of troops to raise the alarm and hold the fort" the King of Suits agreed, his voice much softer and his movements effectively silent as the duo crept rapidly down the hallways. He kept the slightly ragged-edged red and black cape tight around him and clutched in a few fingers of his right hand, the harsh glove on his left poised and ready to grab from his weapons belt. His steps were slowly made and carefully considered, though they lost none of their normal speed and length.

Checking an intersection briefly, he muttered to Crusader "When we see one or two alone, wait just long enough to be sure they're not being followed by more. I'll do the same." Marceau smiled "Glad you're along, Crusader. I always hated doing these sorts of missions alone."

The next while was occupied by increasingly tense darts through eerie, echoing corridors as the two carefully tried to home in on some of the more isolated sounds of footsteps.

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Crusader smiled and nodded in agreement. Though he'd never done anything quite this dangerous, he had a sneaking suspicion that his grandfather had. It was that influence that made him not be all that alarmed by the explosions outside or the very real possibility of being shot. He wasn't exactly thrilled at how exposed their position was, and getting in seemed to have gone a little too well. His inner cynic was waiting for the other proverbial shoe to drop.


"Agreed on both counts," he replied, nodding with a faint smile of his own. The tension and nervousness of the situation made him reluctant to find too much enjoyment in it--a testament to his own inexperience when compared to the familiarity of the past Crusaders' histories and experiences. Despite it all, Crusader took charge as best he could, honing in on the sounds of footsteps in the distance.

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Before the King of Suits could reply(thankfully), the clatter of boots down the hall from them signalled the approach of soldiers! In moments the two heroes could see a pair of young men wearing the sleek and efficient and thus utterly tasteless dark gray uniforms of Dr. Green's private soldiers. They ran with all the speed they could muster, one arm swinging rapidly to keep themselves steady while the other held their firearm on their back by its strap.


They weren't looking for any intruders in the hall gauging by their haste and reckless speed, and the infiltrating pair were moderately well-hidden, so the soldiers' casual sweep utterly failed to hit upon them. The duo were charging right for the archway of another hallway at a right angle to theirs, which evidently led closer to the battle outside.

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All at once, time seemed to slow down for Crusader. It wasn't necessarily a metahuman or psychic thing, but when his adrenaline spiked and it was time to act, he just somehow knew. The gap between these soldiers and those he was hearing down the hall was small, and time wasn't on his side. The element of surprise, however, was, and he reacted, hurling his shield across the hallway. It struck the wall first, forcing the pair to turn its direction. It ricocheted right off, slamming the rear guard squarely in the helmet. It bounced from one guard to the other, catching the poor unaware guard right in the bridge of his nose and knocking him off his feet. As if planned all along, the shield came spinning right back at Crusader for him to catch it.


Wasting no time, he quickly ran forward to grab one of the guards by the ankles, hauling him back into the opposing hall where he and Marceau had been hiding; the last thing he wanted was for the guards to discover an unconscious body. He motioned for the King of Suits to help with the other, searching the guard's pockets for anything of use.

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With a quick nod the King of Suits dashed forward across the harsh floor, feet nearly silent as he all but leaped into action. Grabbing the soldier under his arms, he neatly tossed the man over his shoulder and slid back into the hidden corner. Disassembling the gun as he went, he tucked the pieces into his belt for storage and to serve as spare parts, raising an eyebrow at the high quality of the magazine. "Dr. Green isn't a cheapskate it seems" He commented dourly to Crusader. Crushing against the wall to hide better he added with a powerful note of admiration "Amazing work. Even grander in the light", voice dipping even lower as another troop of guards stormed past at a light run, rubber soles cushioning their hurried footsteps.


Once they had passed, Marceau checked the passages, muttering "We should find a good hiding spot to ask about this place. Let's see if we chance upon any closets." And then he was off, running low and carefully, the soldier bouncing on his back.

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"Practice makes perfect," he quipped in return, nodding in thanks for the compliment. Separating the guard from his weapon, Crusader hauled the an up off his feet and carried him alongside the King of Suits. scanning the passages for an empty, well concealed room they could use for interrogation. He was well aware of how time-sensitive it all was, and preventing two guards from joining the outdoor fray wasn't really going to make much difference.


"This place seems too big not to have some unused space somewhere..."

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The part of the middle floors they were on turned out to be mostly barracks and armories, mostly bare and empty now that the soldiers of the mad scientist had gone to fight the electric genius and wind-driving space pirate. Luckily, it had plenty of small closets and rooms that didn't have anything moved into them yet, and it was into one bare concrete and metal cell that the two were unloaded.


They woke up very quickly. The one first knocked out by the shield opened his eyes slowly, wincing at the cold light stabbing into his throbbing head and trying to raise his arms to block it, only to find them bound behind his back. Squinting into the glare he saw the two heroes and then looked very grave. The other came around a little afterwards, and just lay still on the floor, glaring upwards. "What do you want with us?" the first one asked nervously, gathering courage he added "We won't tell you anything! The Golden Age will come no matter what you try to do!" "What he means to say is...urgh" the second winced on the ground "He means we're loyal, and will not answer any questions".

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"You won't, huh?"


Crusader leaned down and grabbed the soldier by the collar with both hands, hauling himto his feet and unceremoniously slamming him back against the wall. There was something significantly different in his voice and a faint glow in his eyes; he was still Clark, but there was something unusual about his personality. There was a distinct, Old West accent in his voice as well.


"I dunno what this 'golden age' bit is. Don't really care. But I always get what I'm after, see..." Crusader's eyes narrowed and his grip tightened. "If I gotta break a couple bones to get there, oh well. I got nothin' to lose."

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"Gah! I...alright, alright! Green doesn't pay me enough to get my bones broken this far from a hospital" the man whimpered, slumping in Crusader's grip and looking away "Just...just don't hurt me, I'll tell you what you wanna know!"


His prone comrade rolled his eyes "Great going, Mr. True Believer," "Buddy, you get a better idea than probably ending up a broken heap on an island in the middle of nowhere, then you can talk" the other man growled. Catching the shield-bearer's eyes, he shrank against the wall nervously. "Uh...h-how can we assist you?"

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"Tell us, where is Dr. Green's computer setup?" Marceau wasn't too sure about threatening the men, but he couldn't argue with Crusader's rapid results. Walking over to the wall and leaning against it as he watched the man on the floor, he relaxed, just a little. They weren't going to have many chances to not be on edge in this mission, and he aimed to take as many as he could.


Glancing over his gentle blue eyes tried to peer into the soldier's "Where is it, and what is the fastest way to reach it?"


His eyes narrowed "And who guards it? This is very important so be as accurate and detailed as you can, please." Turning to Crusader he added "We might be able to follow the vents, even a genius's mainframe would put out a lot of heat."

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Crusader's threats were empty ones; he never really intended to harm either one of the guards. He figured they had enough of a headache from being skullbashed by his shield. He could certainly play bad cop when he had to, and only once had he nearly crossed that line... He knew enough never to allow himself to go down that dark a path again.


Still, he seized up on the man's collar, fully intending to play his role to the hilt. "I'd start talkin', son. I'm runnin' out of patience."

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The guard needed little encouragement. "Th-they're downstairs, two hallways over going due east, past the green coral wall mural crap, then down two flights of steps. The elevators don't stop on that floor, and the shaft's walls are tough enough to withstand any shield" the man's brief flicker of insolence quickly melted as he met Crusader's gaze. Crushed against the wall he went on nervously "Uh, there aren't all that many guards usually, b-but the attack by your friends got everyone on high alert, there'll be like twenty guys down there! And...and.." his voice grew much lower, and he looked for a few seconds even more scared of something else than Crusader's threatening presence.


"And one of Dr. Green's pet projects. Mental powers like you wouldn't believe, keeps a dampener on him at all times so he doesn't mind-control everybody in the place." he shivered "Good luck with that, heroes. Uh," his eyes searched his belt "Take our radios, it'll give you a chance to avoid the other guards, the-the frequency helps block out some of his mental stuff too I think..."


The babbling guard's comrade stretched out on the floor "Tom's gonna be a little incoherent for a bit so I'll tell you something he forgot: the way downstairs is heavily monitored, scanners going into the ultraviolet spectrum. You'll either need to get to the control room and shut them off, or just go 'round it I guess." he shrugged, looking profoundly unconcerned.

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"Twenty? That's it?"


Crusader's expression went unchanged as the guard sang like a canary. The interrogation, such as it was, was going far better than Clark anticipated, but he wasn't ready to pat anyone on the back just yet. Snatching the radio off the guard's belt, Crusader finally dropped the him. It didn't take him long to process everything, either; immediately his mind had turned to something that would turn some of the negatives of the situation to their advantage.


"Oh, I'm sure we'll get around just fine," he commented, looking over at the other guard. "Looks like we might need to blend in a little."


He wasn't sure how he'd come up with the idea of disguising himself as a guard. On its face, Clark would probably never have considered taking a guard's clothes right off him. Desperate times, however, called for desperate measures, and on the periphery of his memory, he could see his grandfather doing something similar behind enemy lines in World War II... The apple really didn't fall far from the tree, it seemed.


In minutes, Clark was changed, save the red cowl still covering his face. He intended to remove that as well, but certainly not in front of the guards. He looked to Marceau, then back at the guards. "...we should probably gag these two. Don't want any unnecessary surprises..."

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With a quick nod the King of Suits tied the jaws of the guards shut, sitting them both upright against the walls beside the door where cursory inspection wouldn't reveal them.


"I will go around. It would be much harder for me to avoid notice like you do" he told Crusader with a broad smile and subtle indication of his leaner physique. Slipping out of the barracks the two made their way quickly to where the staircase was. As the guard had said, they passed a green mural of coral life in the nearby waters.


The steps were crisp and utilitarian gray steel with molded plastic, with the pale walls holding small black lenses behind round transparent domes. 


A small rectangular grate nearby the stairs exhaled harsh warm air. Marceau neatly opened it and slipped inside. "Good luck" he whispered to Clark, vanishing down the shaft with faint rustles of cloth and metal.

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One outside, Crusader get himself settles into his new disguise. He didn't have a problem with Marceau seeing what he looked like; he had a feeling that, in this rare instance, it would be alright. That and he didn't want Marceau accidentally attacking him once they met up again.


"Good luck..."


Clark put aside his nervousness, adjusting the helmet and the gun the guard had. He still had his shield, but it was on his back in a way that wasn't immediately obvious. He took a deep breath before replacing the grate through which the King of Suits had gone. Then, he headed east at a somewhat brisk pace, ready for anything...

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The cameras were set up precisely, their placement meaning nothing and nobody could slip past, around, below or above their unblinking mechanical gaze. Crusader in his stolen clothes didn't raise any alarms, not a single light flickered or a noise come to his ears other than the dull rumble of the outside battle and the rush of booted feet.


As he came downstairs he was greeted by the sight of at least two dozen soldiers hanging around a room whose center was largely given over to imposing black and gray slabs of computing power, thrumming away with grim purpose and making the room even hotter than outside had been.


A little apart from the small knots of alert, edgy men and women with guns stood a broad-shouldered and unshaven man with African features in a corner, staring out with a slightly blank stare. He looked sharply over at Clark as he entered and frowned, but then went back to staring at the middle distance.


An officious-looking woman with slightly more ballistic armor than the others quickly approached Crusader. "Where's your friend?" she asked irritably "You guys forget what a 'Code Eight' means or what? Whatever, get to your station, those guys might have friends sneaking in. Not likely, given the subtlety of your average super, but hey! Anything's possible" she rolled her eyes and then stepped slowly back over to the wall. All of her comrades were evidently nervous hearing the fight going on and not knowing for sure what was happening.



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"Y-yes sir!"


Clark nodded, saying nothing else; thankfully, she was too busy berating him to have wanted an actual response. Now waist-deep in enemy territory, he inwardly chuckled at the crack about supers and stealth--the irony was incredibly amusing. Still, he hadn't lost sight of the mission. Getting access to the control room was key. He ignored the imposing and scrutinizing glare of the single guard set apart from the others and, after having been yelled at, increased his pace accordingly to move past that room, hopefully without incident or suspicion.

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