Jump to content

No More Good Days

Recommended Posts

Darwin, Australia 

March 1, 2014


Item #0452

A sword, 82 cm in length, weighing 1.5 kg. Forged by pattern welding in the Roman gladius style. Pearl-inlaid handle, broken chain motif on the blade [see attached picture]. Believed to be orichalcum [see footnote] of possible Atlantean craftsmanship. Known to Atlanteans as "Sword of the Liberator." In private Australian hands since discovery of wreck of HMS Rackham in Timor Sea in 1911...


They all had different reasons for being there. Steve Murdock, not a man who traveled much, had come across the picture of the sword during one of his long, sleepless nights on the Internet. Discussing it with Gina hadn't been easy, especially once she'd divined his true intent, but the Omegadrone could be a very persuasive man. The Sword of the Liberator was indeed an ancient Atlantean artifact; one so old that it predated whatever long ago branching point had come between his world and the world of Gina Evans. Wielded by a champion of justice, broken by Steelguard during his conquest, the sword had been targeted again and again in every world since.


Surely he had to try and buy it! And so it was that with a very large check deposited in his name through his extremely wealthy girlfriend (who had been entirely in favor of this), Steve had boarded a private flight down to Darwin, Northern Territory for the estate auction of one Clement Johns, a wealthy collector of antiquities who had passed away weeks earlier. He was at the auction site hours early, sitting in the vast lobby of the Skycity Darwin, once again reading through the manual of auction procedures that Gina had written up and sent with him. With his scarred face and hands, deep brown skin, and new suit and tie, he looked more like the bodyguards of the wealthy Australians filing into the casino/hotel than a bidder at the forthcoming auction.


Argonaut had been in debriefings before, some of them very personal indeed, but this one (given by one of her usual colleagues, the thoroughly Scandinavian-American Sven Johnson) was something different. 


"As you know, Yves, during the 1993 invasion five Omegadrone transports were deployed against Australia and New Zealand. Of those seven, _four_ were sent to Perth. Australian heroes on the ground during the invasion reported that the drones were targeting the mansion of Clement Johns, a wealthy collector of antiquities, even abandoning standard targets to seek Johns out in particular. Johns was investigated and cleared afterwards by the Federal Police, but we've recently unearthed accounts that the drones that hit his house were looking for one thing in particular - an Atlantean artifact called 'The Sword of the Liberator.' We need you to get down to Australia, using our offshore holdings, and try and find out what's so special about this sword..."


"I am so proud of you!" said Michael Fields, smiling as he looked his daughter over. They had a family suite at the hotel-casino, giving them privacy to talk about her career. "First the Freedom League, now back home with your old man and a costume in your suitcase!" Vector had been called back to Australia for a crisis - rumors of Grue infiltration in Perth had called many of the motherland's defenders home, but she'd had time to surprise her father while passing through Darwin for an evening of bonding before her due date across the continent the next day.


"You may not like the evening much," he confessed to her. "The firm had a contract with Johns so I'm representing our interests, but this is mostly about seeing and being seen. Feel free to skip out and wander the casino floor, Ms. Old Enough to Gamble," he added with a wink.

Link to comment
  • Replies 75
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Catherine smiled.  It was good to see Dad again, especially after that... business with the cultists.  She'd been really worried back then, but it looked like her father had bounced back well.  "That thing with the Freedom League was... well, more us being in the same place while the events were going on."  The rather odd events.  What had happened to that cow, anyway?


"Just wish mum could be here too, so all of us could get together.  Was her leg playing up again?"  Catherine frowned for a moment.  "I thought after so long, it might have gotten slightly better."  Then again, Opal's leg had had good days and bad days for literally as long as Catherine could remember- ever since the Terminus Invasion.  She sighed for a moment, before looking at her father.  "...you've been making that joke for five years, dad.  That and the drinking one."


She looked at the catalogue.  "Actually, some of the stuff here looks pretty interesting.  The Sword of the Liberator, for one.  Johns was a bit of a collector, huh.  Besides, I'm heading off early in the morning tomorrow, one night before I go to join up with everyone down in Perth.  Huntsman really called everyone he could- he must be worried about this."

Link to comment

A case related to the the Terminus invasion of 1993.  The invasion she played a part in, and not on the winning side.  If Yves was more of a cynic she'd take it as a test of character instead of an actual calling of her expertise.  Which in this case was a very hands on expertise.  But the mother of three instead smiled as she ran her fingers through any documents related to the briefing.  "Sven, I take it this investigation is done with the full cooperation of the Australian Government. "  The sarcasm in her tone was bellied by the smile on her face.
She knew very well it wasn't a vacation.  But that didn't mean she couldn't have a little fun on the government's dime after all.  "Offshore holdings, estate auction with a sword of curious origin, and mai tais by the poolside.  I'll be ready for wheels up in five minutes if there's nothing lingering.  I.e dubious bidders or Atlantean barbarians looking to add the blade to their collection.  I would like to know ahead of time if I'm walking into some sort of suspected criminal hotbed.  Cleared of all charges or not."

She didn't like surprises when it came to dealing to such personal matters.  She'd deal either way.  Plastering a smile all the while as no one had time for a grim visage.  But it helped to know if the smile would have to be manufactured and guided by snark or not.  Who was she kidding, there would be snark either way.

Link to comment

"Darwin was a hive of organized crime until that Harbing case last year." The last time a serious bit of meta-crime in the area had involved an American, Yves remembered from her briefing, had been the kidnapping of American talking head and hero booster Harold Harbing back in 2013. "The local crime lord, Leigh Newman, has a real yen for the Terminus, so there may be a theft risk. He's out on bail these days pending trial, but he's still got a pretty strong following in the Darwin gangs. Transnational, too. A lot of crap moves through Darwin to get up into Indonesia. We've got authorization from Canberra and the Aussie supers, but they've got all their people on the west coast dealing with that Grue business. You're going to be on your own out there," he admitted. "The local Aussie hero is called the Larrakite. Street protector type, spends most of his time fighting human smugglers. We'll set you up with a meeting if necessary. 



"Your mom's resting up at home, and she deserves it. Something about needing to keep an eye on things while everyone's in Perth...and maybe that All Saints marathon on Channel 7." Michael grinned. "One thing you'll find when you get married, which I'm confident you'll do in the next five years," he added with a wink, "is that sometimes you need spaces in your togetherness." Being a gentleman, he left her with the big suite bathroom to change into her evening gown while he went to don his slightly out-of-fashion suit and tie for the occasion. When he was dressed, something that as usual he managed to get done in record time, he called through the door, "I'll wait here, kitten! I'm not too old to show up with the prettiest girl at the auction on my arm!" 




Steve tapped away at the buttons on his smartphone, like so many things he owned a present from Gina that'd she'd bought without consulting him ("Because I knew you'd say no!"). SITTING IN LOBBY. CROWD LARGE AND VIGOROUS. PUT MONEY IN SAFE PLACE. With its inverted climate and alien culture, Darwin was a strange place - but it was infinitely more like Freedom City than the Terminus. He would adapt just time. WALKED FROM AIRPORT. He read her response and tapped back in his slow, methodical two-fingered poke. I AM WEARING THE SUIT WITH THE RED TIE. BLACK SOCKS AND BLACK SHOES. 

Link to comment

Yves stretched her hands out as she put the documents on the desk.  "That's alright having able hands to wrap up that Grue problem might be a slightly higher priority.  I should be fine on my own.  On the off chance of a successful theft, will need to set up a contact with the guy.  But let's hope for everything going right.  I heard that happens to some people.  Why not me?"  She knew he answer why.  Kharma.  But that was fine clearing that much of a debt on one's ledger wasn't something that happened in a lifetime or two.  Running her fingers through the hair of her lace wig she's give Sven a nod of affirmation.  Understanding the risks involved she was ready to get on a bird and fly to Darwin.  

Link to comment

Catherine simply smiled at her dad's teasing as she got changed quickly, slipping into a dark blue evening down.  She nodded, turning in the mirror to check her appearance.  "Aw, thanks dad!"


She opened the door, smiling.  "Heh.  I remember when I'd just gotten my powers... didn't wear stuff like this for a while afterwards.  It was easier to not push stuff away when I wasn't touching it directly."  She paused for a moment.  "...actually, my control's really grown from when I accidently trashed the car.  Seems like such a short time ago, sometimes.  D'you ever feel like that, dad?"

Link to comment

"Kitten, sometimes when I look at you, I see that young lady that wrecked my car...but it's usually the little girl who used to bake me pies in her Easy Bake Oven, or the baby who would only go to sleep to Freedom Friends reruns." Once they were in the elevator, he looked at her and said, "A parent never stops seeing their child as their baby. Even if she's a big-time world-saving hero." He winked again as they walked outside into the lobby, just as Yves walked into the grand hotel lobby, just as Steve put his smartphone away. Having never met Vector, Steve had no interest in the young woman and her dad - instead all his attention was focused on the shadow of the past that had just walked in through the front doors. The Omegadrone in civilian gear. The free drone. He pushed his way through the crowd towards her, instantly recognizable for what he was (for the select few who knew); a hulking brown-skinned figure, face and hands dotted with the scars of implanted cybernetic armor. Another Omegadrone.

Link to comment

AEGIS is not God.  AEGIS does not judge the people we protect.  We provide equal protection to everyone.  Every AEGIS agent knew the words.  Even someone who hadn't gone through a proper academy like Yves.  Even someone who was once a prole fighting for the right to survive, knew enough to have the code drilled into them.  But she wasn't be kept in line.  No, Yves was being reassured.


AEGIS does not judge.  The words echoed in the back of her mind easy enough.  It wasn't merely force of habit.  It was the lie one needed to reassure themselves of, when you have already judged yourself in the worst possible way.  The comfort of knowing you were within company who took you for the person you wanted to be.  Not the person you once were.


But, deep down beneath the comfort food of the survivor.  She knew full well that deep down inside also lurked a monster and above all a victim.  There were no words that could express the odd mix emotion as she stared at the person in front of her.  Shame, joy, understanding, anger.  It was something that couldn't be pinned down for Yves.  


So Yves didn't speak.  The petite woman did not utter a single word as she stared back into the eyes of the hulking figure standing before her.  Starring at the all too familiar set of scars.

Link to comment

Catherine smiled at her father as they entered.  She looked around the room once, before blinking as she noticed the man with the scars.  She tried looking away- no need to rudely stare- but her eyes kept coming back to him, and the woman in a staring contest with him. 


She positioned herself so she could keep an eye on the situation as she looked at her dad.  "So, what did Fields do for Johns, anyway?  Security?  Benefits of getting involved in pretty much anything technological, Dad."  She grinned at Michael, trying to enjoy the evening.  Perth would have plenty of stress involved tomorrow, after all. 

Link to comment

The face so much like his own, one he'd heard described (not unkindly) as "humanity with the serial numbers filed off". What had she been? One of the tens of thousands who had once come to this world in conquest, and now was by her very presence there something so much more. He had no idea who this woman was or what her intentions were, but it was clear she recognized him for what he was. What had she once been; scout? Recon flyer? There was only one choice he could make. He approached her and extended one massive hand to her in the fashion that the humans of this world used to greet each other, and smiled in a way that showed the skin and muscle of his face wasn't quite placed right on the metal bones underneath. 


This was one of the heavy combat models - the units the Terminus sent to kill superheroes. "Hello. My name is Steve. I'm glad to meet you." 

Link to comment

Yves stare softened as the hand lingered in her direction.  Eventually she returned a smile of her own.  Her muscles contorting far more naturally as the level of cybernetic intrusion upon her flesh was nowhere near the degree of as Steve's modified skeletal structure. "My name is Yves.  The pleasure is all mine."  It wasn't a lie.  She didn't know Steve's story, but she knew enough.  And if he wasn't looking to attack her, the only option left was to shake hands over a shared


The possibility of competing interest for the sword had been talked over with Sven.  Ranging from would be crime lords to transnational.  She even considered Atlanteans may want to recover their artifact as territorial as they could be with them.  Rightfully so.  But the idea of someone else with an actual connection to the Terminus showing up.  Well that hadn't crossed her mind at all.  Perhaps it should have, but it was a blind spot.


"It goes without saying what we're here for."

Link to comment

Catherine breathed a sigh of relief, as the tension she saw let off.  A fight between the two wouldn't have been good on any number of levels... they actually seemed to look somewhat similar to the young heroine, now the thought about it. 


She shrugged, looking around the rest of the room.  "Hope nothing happens this evening.  Some of the stuff looks really valuable... and a couple of items might have some cultural significance."  She sighed.  "Aaaah... maybe I'm just being overcautious, after those luddite cultists..."

Link to comment

"...yes. The Sword." Steve gave the AEGIS agent an openly curious look, resisting the urge to probe - probe with questions that no one would want to speak of, not if that one had been taken by the forges. "I saw it on the Internet and came here from Freedom City to find it. How have you come to be here, and looking for the Sword?" he asked her as they joined the crowd heading into the main lobby of the auction hall, not far from Catherine and her father. "You have been living in the United States of America." Growing up in the Terminus, where all voices blended together, had made him particularly watchful about such things. When he sat down on one of the ballroom chairs, the metal groaned audibly beneath his heavy frame, but he paid it hardly any mind. 

Link to comment

"I don't want to say appraisal.  As that would imply having some sort of expertise thereof.  But my employers want someone to check the sword out for them.  If it's dangerous can't exactly let any tom, dick, or harry purchase it."  Yves responded.  Her tone was not of trepidation, but rather a sort of measured certainty.  Gauging how much was alright to discuss.  Even if he wasn't antagonistic towards her.  That doesn't mean their interests in the blade were similar.  For all she knew Steve could have wanted to destroy it as some sort of therapeutic release.  Which she could sympathize with of course.  But she had a job to do as well.
"Yes, I have been living on the United States going on about twenty years now I would say."  She knew she didn't have to expand on when she arrived in the country past that point.  The timeline alone should have covered how she came to be there.  Not so much what she had been doing since then.  "I prefered city life to suburban living.  People tended to keep to themselves in an apartment complex.  But my husband insisted on the whole white picket fence deal when we moved to Freedom City recently."

Link to comment

As they sat together, Michael told his daughter how the company had provided their services to Johns as security, a necessity when one owned the sheer quantity of artifacts that the late collector had owned. "Twenty years ago, some of our guys were in the area upgrading his emergency vault when the bloody Terminus showed up. Two of our staff guys, Barnhart and Darnell, died keeping the client and his possessions safe." Catharine had seen those faces and names on the Memorial Wall in her dad's headquarters. "Normally I don't have much use for clients who let our people die fighting for them, but what's an old man gonna do against fifty Omegadrones, right? After that, he never spent a dollar on security that didn't go to us; and he helped their kids go to college in the States." 




"Unless it was miscreated in this dimension, the Sword of the Liberator is not dangerous, nor does it have a power beyond the blade. It is simply the sword of the man who dared be a slave no more, and dared end slavery for all men." Steve seemed far away as he spoke, and he was, remembering whispered words from his mother as they crouched in the darkness of the Black Ghetto. "Steelgrave has a personal grudge in the matter. There was-" 


Suddenly, with a tchoff, the fabric backdrop of the auction's stage erupted inward in a gout of flame as three armored figures burst into the room of screaming patrons. "This is the White Australia Brigade!" called the leader, his armored shell covered in swastikas and other neo-Nazi symbols. "We're here to bring this misbegotten cavalcade of multiculti nonsense to a bloody end! C'mon and take it, you sods!" 

Link to comment

"Bloody Omega."


The curse slipped from Catherine's lips, as she drew back from some more... focused curses she could think of.  "Say, dad, wasn't that where the superhero you supported at the time fought in the Terminus Invasion?"


She listened in slight alarm as she heard the creaking metal, before trying very hard not to listen into what sounded like sensitive matters... even as her brain put connections together.  And then, Nazis. 


"White Australia?  White Australia?  That is not-"


She reached down, before realising something.  "...oh.  I don't have my costume."  She frowned for a moment.  "...might have to blow my identity.  We get a lot of attention in that area anyway, since you've always been a big supporter of superheroes."

Link to comment

For his part, Steve didn't hesitate - there were too many valuable artifacts around, the sword among them, for him to waste time with this sort of misguided human being. Knowing too well how robbers did their work, he could hardly let innocents suffer at their hands. There could be no armor here, not even as Caradoc, not with so many witnesses around. But Steve Murdock was no stranger to a fight with his bare hands. Especially not against armored foes. No indeed.


He rose from his seat and charged onto the stage, a laser blast scorching the suit off his chest and exposing the muscular, heavily scarred brown flesh beneath. He didn't bother with a punch, instead casually backhanding the leader (who was also the one who had shot him) across the face, but to his surprise the man stayed on his feet (albeit staggered by the blow). Should not have underestimated them. Now I have their attention, at least. "You are children playing at war. Leave this place. Now!" But it did not look as though the armored goons were willing to listen! 

Link to comment

Seeing the quick response of the man- who Catherine remembered from that... discussion that she'd noticed earlier, she made a quick decision.  "Ah, well.  Take things as they happen."


Catherine reached down, ripping her dress to allow her to move her legs more easily, before looking at her dad... and then stamping on the ground, the force shaking the floor slightly- and more importantly, propelling her above the crowd and the man who'd just moved up, as well as the White Australia Brigade, before she landed behind them.  Her skid stopped instantly as her motion reversed direction, and she put the full force of her momentum into a solid punch to the leader's back...


Which didn't seem to get through the armor.  "Oh, you've got to be kidding me..."

Link to comment

"Argh!" It had hurt, though, from the way the man staggered. "Is this the bloody circus or what? Take 'em down, Brigadiers!" 


"Bloody abo, think you need a girl to do your fighting?" sneered the one to the left of the leader ."Take you down and then take these rich bastards for all they're worth! See how you like a white man's-HUH!" Seeing the blow coming, but without time to strike back, Steve took a different course. The drone smacked the armored goon on the upper arm as one might swat an unruly child, the laser blast coming from his arm missing Steve entirely, instead tearing a hole in the stage and blasting a hole in the floor underneath. "Hey...stop that!" 

Link to comment

Racism wasn't a new concept.  It was still a weird concept to Yves.  They were all the same species for the most part.  White man this, white man that.  It was all so silly.  Still the petite framed brown skinned woman had founder herself with run ins from people who sometimes just needed an elbow in the solar plexus.  Luckily, they endeavored to make themselves all the more pleasing to put the hurt on the longer they ran their mouths.


The fact that the explanation on Steelgrave's personal stake in the matter was cut short helped as well in wanting to expedite the hurt.  Springing into action, Yves tried to test the water by sending a kick towards the armored 'brigadier' whom hadn't gotten personal attention yet.  Attempting to slam her shin towards his leg.  Unfortunately that didn't quite go as planned.  As he pulled his leg back to avoid the blow.


"I couldn't care less about your drivel.  But perhaps you should be educated in respect.  Of not only all genders but races."  All too pleased to run her mouth.  Yves glared at the three in front of her.  Her own armor would serve to aid her exponentially about now.  But it wasn't worth leaving the room to try and put it on her if there was even a small chance of someone in there getting hurt in the meantime.

Link to comment

Another blast to the chest did nothing but rip Steve's shirt further, this time driving the leader of the pack to desperate measures. Taking to the air on the roar of jet boots, the leader called, "C'mon, you sorry sack, see if you can get me up here!" As a matter of fact, Steve couldn't get him up there - not without deploying his armor and risking the exposure of much more than increasing amounts of scarred brown skin. Up close he really did look strange, his body criss-crossed with scars that it looked impossible for any human to have endured. Taking in the scene quickly, he knew what he had to do.


"You. Come to me." He threw a punch at one of the armored mercenaries, smashing the man in the belly, then met the goon's shielded face with an upthrust knee as he fell forward with a CLANG that resounded like metal striking metal. The Nazi fell silent in Steve's arms, collapsing like a puppet with the strings cut, as his human body met the metal interior of his armor with force to break bones even inside the putative protection! "I grow tired of you," he said, looking up at the now-flying leader with cold, dead eyes. "Come down again and surrender." 

Link to comment

Catherine grinned up at the leader.  "Better idea, maybe.  I bring him down here."


With that, her foot stamped on the floor, cracks reaching out from the impact as she flew up... and smiled in the leader's face.  "Hi."


Her arm smashed into the side of the leader's helmet, knocking him out cold with the force- and Catherine grabbed the now-unconsious body, taking the force of the fall to avoid causing him any further injury, before she looked up at the final thug.  "Like the man said.  Surrender."

Link to comment

Yves calmly stood still leaving herself exposed to whatever came to pass.  "Ouch.  I think this young lady just gave him a concussion.  Maybe two?  How many concussions can one person get in a blow?  However many your loudmouth buddy looks like he is collecting them.  Now I don't know about you, but I think it's a good time to surrender.  Or we can keep adding to the tab.  Let me tell you all about increasing debts you don't want to pain.  It can really, really hurt.  Well, look at me giving advice.  How many bones should we break?  Or maybe we should collect the tabs in screams?"  


Yves stared staring at her nails while giving her threatening ultimatum.  She looked as if she did not care at all about what was going on around her any longer.  In reality, it was all a ploy for the petite woman to come across more threatening.  Sneers and glares were good and everything.  But sometimes the craziness that came with not giving a care was a weapon all on its own.  Using the laissez faire attitude to break the man's spirit.

Link to comment

With his mates down and threatened by a very intimidating woman, the last armored thug broke down. "Hey, er, all this Nazi rubbish was just part of the job, you know? I'm half-Korean meself, heh-heh-heh!" He opted not to take his helmet off, though, having seen the quick, efficient way that Steve and Vector had disposed of the other two goons. "He just wanted to see who was in the crowd!" Steve said nothing, simply glaring at the man in counterpoint to the threat in Yves' eyes, and it made the man break. "The Omega Boss! It was a guy working for him who did it!" 


Harrier's brow furrowed and he spoke in a cold, controlled voice. "Who is the Omega Boss?" 


"The bloody worst man in Darwin, that's for sure, mate!" Steve's head snapped upwards as a new figure entered the scene, a man in a black costume and full-face mask with staring white eyes. Vector, being an Australian hero herself, immediately recognized the Loquacious Larrakite, who was holding a struggling man in a red tracksuit in one hand while supporting himself from an overhanging bit of wall decoration in the balcony, his one-handed grip evidently enough to hold both of them comfortably. "I caught this drongo filming ye's from upstairs! Dropped the picture-box on the way, but looked like it was sending a signal out to somewhere, maybe the boss himself. You know the Omega Boss, mate?" he inquired as he leaped down to join the heroes on-stage, heedless of the flashing cameras. "He looks a mite like you two," he said with a look at Argonaut and Steve. "Brown fella, got no hair, big Greek tattoo on his forehead..." 

Link to comment

"Yeah, I know of him- didn't you put him in jail, Larrakite?"


Catherine sighed as she saw the cameras.  "Well, I didn't think this'd be kept quiet anyway..."


She looked at the struggling man, and the box he'd been carrying, before looking up as Larrakite mentioned that the Omega Boss looked a bit like the other two... well, she imagined they might be superheroes themselves, although simply assuming that might be premature.  "Speaking of, might want to do some introductions.  I'm-"


And at that moment, a reporter spoke over her.  "Miss Fields, would you like to comment on the fact that you've just demonstrated superpowers similar to that of Vector?"


Catherine paused, and turned.  "...by which you want a 'yes, I'm Vector'."


"You've got the right build, and what you were doing matches up."


"How do you keep track of that, photographic memory?"


She sighed.  "Anyway, I'm Catherine Fields, and... yes, fine, I'm Vector."


Link to comment
This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Create New...