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Muckraking (IC)


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Freedom City Waterfront, New Jersey
February 5, 2014; 10:24 PM

A layer of snow still coated Freedom City, left over from the recent storms to hit the East Coast. The snow just added to the nighttime glow of downtown Freedom City's lights, helping reflect the lights from its many high-rise buildings.

Down on one of the many waterfront piers, one on of the piers was currently fenced off with construction fences. Parts of the pier and the once sleek, three story building built on top of the pier were rather badly damaged, sections of the pier torn away and several huge holes torn in one side of the building.

From where he stood a block away on the roof of another building, Jeremiah Deadfall could still see the PanStar logo on one corner of the damaged building. The building housed part of PanStar's oceanography research division and was damaged a couple of months ago when a supervillain controlling a giant squid attacked during some demonstration for some US military brass and some congressmen, senators and other important individuals.

A pair of superheroes had appeared on the scene to stop the supevillain and drive off the giant squid, but the building and pier had sustained heavy damage.

For Jeremiah, the damaged research facility offered a promising opportunity to investigate further into PanStar and its activities. High-tech company offices being attacked by supervillains occurred with some regularity in Freedom City. But what Jeremiah was more interested in was a disturbing pattern of other PanStar subsidiaries around the world being caught involved in some illegal activity. Thus far, such instances had been blamed on the local executives overseeing a particular project or office. But there was something of a pattern.

Just the sort of thing for the Crier to investigate…

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Jeremiah Deadfall, The Crier, was lying in wait next to the PanStar building. More realistically, he was gritting his teeth against the bitter cold with the snow brushed away from his perch, on top of a warehouse closed for the season. 'Next to' was probably a little generous as well, as this building was more 'catty-corner' to PanStar.


His investigations into corrupt big business and government had brought him here. In the last year, PanStar had been responsible for, among other things, the collapse of a partially-finished dam and illegal toxic dumping. Every time, PanStar would hang their local managers out to dry, put out a public release denying responsibility, and generally continue business as usual.


One corrupt middle manager The Crier could understand. Two, even. But for PanStar to use the exact same damage control measures each time... It was like clockwork. Fire, Blame, Continue. Fire, Blame, Continue. That implied that someone high-up was authorizing these activities. Someone had decided that the pursuit of profit was more important than the lives involved in that pursuit.


But then, of course, it could also be nothing. Some logical fallacies brought about by spending too much time listening to every crackpot on the Internet. It was that frustrating lack of certainty that brought The Crier to a snow-covered rooftop to spy on a damaged building in the middle of a Godforsaken cold night.


The Crier stood up, brushed himself off, and slowly lowered himself down to street level. Tonight he'd find out what, if anything, PanStar was up to. Looking both ways, he dashed across the street, over the sidewalk to the wall of another looming building in the built-up waterfront.


He pressed himself up against the wall, and reached into his mind. Ever since the assassination attempt and landing on that strange machine, Jeremiah had gained arcane powers, granting him greater levels of access than he'd ever dreamed. It was the sort of thing that could be abused easily, so he had made a promise to himself that he'd only use these powers in the pursuit of the Truth.


When his vision focused once again, the world took on a blue tint. This was the sign that his invisibility was working. Well, he thought, It's not real invisibility. Just the next best thing. Trust me, you're not lucky enough to get real invisibility. You'd probably screw it up anyway.


Moving slowly, he walked down the block to the PanStar building, dark and hidden by the orange construction fences. Tonight was going to be an interesting night.

Edited by TonyWillsIt
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After shifting his powers so that he blended with the terrain and snow around him, the Crier moved forward towards the fences around the damaged building. While using this ability, the blogger turned superhero had to move at no more than a quick jog, but it was well worth it to be nearly undetectable.

Closing with the orange fencing, towering a good ten feet up, the Crier saw the main gate to the facility was still open. A pair of men were stationed just inside the gate, which was drawn closed. Now that he was a bit closer, the Crier could see they looked like more than just standard rent-a-cops.

Both appeared to be at least six feet tall and had large builds, even when taking the heavy winter coats both were wearing into account. One was standing inside a small shack with large windows that likely had the controls to open the gate. The other was walking out in front of the gate, his booted feet crunching in the packed snow.

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The Crier looked at the slabs of meat in coats at the gate dryly. With the world they all lived in, investing in the most cutting edge security was a given, especially considering how cackling madmen in spandex may just one day show up, blow a hole in the wall, and make off with valuable corn subsidies.


The truly crazy supervillains never went for things like stocks and bonds, to the extent of The Crier's knowledge. It was always gold, jewels. Bank heists. And they would break down a wall, yell some quippy-sounding one liner, and have a bunch of men in domino masks run up with bags that actually had money symbols on them. Or maybe Jeremiah was remembering cartoons. The memories did blend together sometimes. Or maybe the world had begun to resemble those brightly-colored toons of his youth, only without the clear-cut bad guys, most of the time. That thought brought him back down to earth.


The weakness in any system, he thought, trying to focus on the task at hand, is always the human element. Take these mooks. Cold. Miserable. Not paying the level of attention they should. And you're going to exploit that, you jerk.


No reason to cause trouble when it's not needed, he mused.


Shifting to put his back to the pervasive breeze, The Crier crouched, and made for the shack. Even effectively invisible, he was not going to take any unnecessary risks. Staying below the level of the window, he edged around the corner of the small building, past the walls and into the enclosed area.



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As he drew closer, The Crier realized that the two guards manning the gate were not nearly as inattentive as he had initially believed.  Though the guard crossing back and forth behind the gate clearly was cold, his steely gaze still was focused on the area out beyond the fences that he could see from his post.  On closer inspection, the blogger turned superpowered investigator noted that the sidearm on the man's belt was not a standard firearm, instead appearing to be some sort of energy weapon.


The guard inside the small shack was no less distracted, his gaze focused outside the windows to the lit streets and sidewalks beyond the gate.


But as alert as the two guards were, The Crier's abilities made it virtually impossible for them to spot him, as he crouched down low and made his way under the lowered gate and into the open space beside the damaged office building.


Once he had moved a short distance from the gate and the two guards posted there, The Crier examined the building more closely.  The main doors stood closed a short distance away, though whether they were locked or not he could not tell without checking them.  Off to the left hand side of the building were several large garage doors that appeared to lead into loading docks.  He might be able to try one of those or a side door nearby.  Then there was the large sections of wall torn away on some of the upper floors, which could provide easy access if he was able to climb up to there.

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The men at the gate, upon further inspection, only steeled Crier's resolve for figuring out what was going on here. Regular companies, companies not involved in anything too crazy, did not hire mercenaries and arm them with energy weapons.


Getting a better look at the building, The Crier took a moment to rub his chin through his mask and consider his options.


Front door's a suicide run, he thought, Even with what you can do. The holes in the walls would be nice, but with the weather that would be a treacherous climb. Lucky winner, I am, to get to sneak into a garage. Yes, I'm truly moving up in the world.


With a grunt to himself, The Crier moved to the side, to get a better view of the garage doors. Trying to find somewhere out of direct view, he settled onto his haunches, ready to take a few minutes and scope the area out. A lot of foot traffic, camera, and the like, and that hole in the wall would look a lot more appealing.

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Moving around to the left side of the damaged building, the Crier came up to a pair of wide rolling garage doors that clearly were the loading dock for the building. Both of the metal doors were currently all the way down. The layer of snow outside the doors told something of a tale, with numerous tire tracks leading away from both doors. Though whether that was because PanStar was still moving things out of the damaged building, or moving in reconstruction supplies, was unknown.

In addition to the two garage doors, there was a normal door near the left most door. It was hard to tell from where the Crier had positioned himself whether there was much foot traffic in and out of the door or not. As he took his time studying the area, the Crier spotted a security camera positioned over the two garage doors, panning slowly back and forth to take in a larger area.

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The Crier advanced himself slowly, cautiously, towards the normal door on the left side of the large garage doors. The evidence suggested a lot of traffic, so it was probably his best bet to enter the building, just to slip past some guard on their way through.


While waiting, The Crier took some time to examine the normal door thoroughly, checking for security features.

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