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January 21st, 2015. 9:55 AM.


"Hawk to Spider. Target is on the bridge, about four cars behind you. Maneuver is go. Over."


"Roger, Hawk. Commencing maneuver. Estimated police response: ten minutes. Good luck."




A frigid wind blew a steady stream of sea fog and sodden not-quite-snow over Route 6.


It was the tail end of Freedom City's rush hour, just the stragglers hurrying along in an effort to avoid being too late to work, but to small-town folks like Tom and Jenny Conway the Mangold Bridge still seemed packed. SUVs, tanker trucks, and even an armored car swooped around their little rental at what seemed like breakneck speed, horns blaring. Tom's knuckles were white on the steering wheel, his eyes flicking madly between his mirrors and the road ahead of him. Sweat was beading up on his forehead.


He just couldn’t understand why people insisted on driving so fast when the roads were slick and visibility was low.


"I'm telling you, Jen," he said, his voice tense, "next time we should just take public transit. Driving in this city is a dam... sorry, darn nightmare." Jen laid a hand on his shoulder and gave it a quick squeeze. "You're right, honey. I'm sorry. You're my hero." He glanced sideways, letting the tension melt from his face to match her smile. And then her eyes grew wide. "Tom, look out!" Scarcely thinking, he jammed on the brakes, turning back just in time to see a wall of metal coming right for him.


There was a jarring, scraping crash; the seatbelt jerked too tight across his chest, driving the wind from his lungs, as his face met the airbag. An instant later the car buckled again, crushed in from behind. Bits of windshield drew stinging crimson streaks across his arms and cheeks. There was another impact, and another, but each grew a little weaker, and finally Tom raised his ringing head from the dashboard. "Jen? Jen, talk to me!" His wife laid her hand across his; she was crying. "Oh my God, Tom. Oh my God."


He squeezed her fingers, kissed her on the cheek. "It's okay, Jen. We're okay. I'm going to go see if I can help. Stay here." It took three kicks to open the mangled door. He stepped out into a hellscape; broken glass, shredded bits of fender, and a long, long line of cars behind him, crumpled and broken as far as the eye could see. Thick, wet sleet fell over them, obscuring cracked windshields, but fires danced on cracked engine blocks in spite of the weather, dangerously close to puddles of leaking gasoline.


In front of him was the eighteen-wheeler he'd hit, crashed perfectly across the width of the bridge. How had the driver managed that?




"Bad time to mention I'm two days from retirement?"


Bob offered Anita a hand, hauling her back to her feet. Whatever they'd hit, at least it hadn't flipped the truck, though it'd thrown the two of them around pretty good; Bob was bleeding from a cut on his scalp, and Anita was starting to wonder if she'd broken her left wrist or just sprained it. "Don't even joke about that," she told him, flicking her pistol's safety off. "The cargo's good?" Bob looked, then nodded. "It's fine. These kind of boxes are designed to be Philistine-proof; a little road rage won't crack 'em."


Through the thick walls of the armored car they could hear approaching helicopter blades. "Police?" Bob asked. Anita shook her head. "Too soon. I don't like it." A bang on the roof silenced them both. Three more followed it; people dropping down onto the vehicle. "Molly," Anita said into her walkie, "can you get us out of here?" The next thing she heard was the telltale thwap of a silenced gunshot. Her hands went cold. "Bastards," she whispered. "Bastards." Bob's usually-jovial face went blank.


Anita slammed her fist against the emergency contact button; the light blinked green, then went red. She checked her cell phone; no signal. Serious equipment. She heard them moving outside, then the whine of high-powered drills at the outer doors. Bob had to shout to be heard as he opened the weapons locker and tossed her a shotgun. "They're good," he said, his features grimly set. "We'll only get one shot, if that. Make it count." Anita crouched beside one of the painting boxes, the shotgun braced against her shoulder.


She'd make them pay. God, they got Molly. Oh, she'd make them pay.

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For Gordon, the first sign that something was wrong was the static on the traffic cams.


It still amazed him how easy it was, how second-nature, to flip through them. He could canvass the entire city in seconds just by leaning back and closing his eyes, catch a glimpse of that pretty barista at the cafe on Fifth before darting over to make sure the old guy on C and Brown made it across the street okay. Traffic control would kill to have him if they knew; it wasn't a far hop from watching someone run a light to running their plates, and from there not so far to knowing just about everything else about them. All in moments.


But today there was static on the Mangold Bridge. And then the cameras there just went out. All of them.


He couldn't be sure that this was a job for Uplink; heck, as green as he was, he wasn't exactly sure what a job for Uplink even meant. But it was worth checking out, and suspicious enough to be worth checking out in costume. Gordon leaned back in his chair. "Heading out for a coffee," he said. "You want anything?" Trish glanced up at him, offered a wan smile; she was working a particularly nasty deep net case, and the circles under her eyes said she hadn't gone home last night. "Thanks, Gord. You know my usual. I'll pay you back."


Gordon shook his head, returning her smile. "Don't worry about it." Trish was a good cop, the kind who didn't care that Computer Crimes Unit was a career dead end. And she'd always believed in him, the outsider, the 'special consultant.' She was a little older than he was, but he liked her laugh, her smile, the purple streak in the ebon bangs that hung beside her glasses. Maybe one day he'd work up the courage to ask her out. "Hang in there," he told her. "Be back soon." At least, he hoped so. It was probably nothing.




It wasn't nothing.


Uplink stared down the southbound lanes of the bridge in mute shock. A landscape of automotive carnage lay open before him; there were dozens of cars piled up here, many of them crushed at both ends like soda cans. Whatever had happened, he'd just missed it; the camera blackout must've preceded the accident by a solid five minutes, which made him thoroughly suspicious. Sirens wailed in the distance. Emergency services would arrive soon, but maybe not soon enough. No small number of cars were on fire.


Easing his motorcycle over to the side of the bridge, Uplink swung off and hurried over to the nearest car. The fires were spreading in both directions, and the tangled landscape of twisted metal would make it difficult to get people out, especially if they were hurt. People at this end of the bridge, at least, were largely managing to escape. Gordon mustered his most authoritative voice. "Stay calm, we'll get everyone out. Head off the bridge and call 911. Ambulances will be here soon. Everyone will be okay."


Vaulting the hood of a crushed station wagon, Uplink headed deeper into the forest of fenders and flames.

Edited by LevelTwoBard
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Sakurako had her eyes fixed on the flight system of her suit. She had just got done making some final corrections to her flight systems after repairing her suit after her encounter with one of Doc Okaku's crab-drones a couple weeks ago. As she was flying low over North River, what was happening on the Mangold bridge was apparent with the smoke and flame... then the sound of gunshots.


"Crap, gonna be one of those days again..." Sakurako muttered, pressing a button on her wrist as her high-visibility suit changed it's color patterns to the Claremont blue and gold, the Claremont seal even appeared on her utility vest. That also called the emergency response line immediately. After a dispatcher answered she didn't skip a beat. "This is Endeavor, There's been a massive traffic incident on the Mangold bridge, shots fired. I'm going in to investigate. The scene might be hostile."


She raised altitude, looking at the scene overall, spotting an armored car, the semi blocking the road, and a oil tanker... the calculations in her head as to what was going on began, but she had a hunch. Made obvious from the people swarming the armored car. She quickly flew at the Armored Car, landing on it's roof. Over her comlink... "Yep... Robbery. I'll get back to you... end communication." She said, brandishing her EMWand tightly in one hand.

"OKAY! I'm only going to request this once. Drop your weapons and surrender!" she said, shouting over the chaos. She didn't expect them to... but there was protocol to follow. Then again she didn't know if they would take a young sailor suited heroine seriously.

Edited by The Osprey
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Icy, snowy days like this were always one of two extremes for crime-fighting. Either almost no crime happened (though accidents always did) because the weather was miserable and nobody wanted to be out in a mess like that.

Or you had a day like today where the weather was apparently perfect cover for nasty goings-on.


Boss Lady had gotten a ping in their systems back at the Rookery that there was a cell phone black hole on the Mangold Bridge. And by "cell phone", it was quickly apparently it was actually "any signal at all". That didn't sound like standard procedure for anyone, but especially not when an armored car is scheduled to be moving across that bridge.


He was already en-route when Boss Lady signaled that there had been some sort of wreck.


"She and I need to talk about our definition of the phrase "some sort of wreck"."


His graveled voice grouched to himself as he navigated the Talon among the snarl of vehicles. The wide tires crunched merrily along the snow, ice, and bits of glass, their high-performance material not even close to being punched through.


He saw the truck that was just-too-perfectly across the road, and the helicopter hovering overhead. His eyes narrowed behind lenses, and he reached down to his belt. A folding filter mask was slotted into his cowl, sealing him against at least light airborne agents (if there were nerve agents in play they had bigger problems), and making his appearance even more menacing besides. He eyeballed the snarl around him, then suddenly angled his bike over to one side. Hopping up onto the walkway that ran along the side of the bridge, he raced along beside the traffic, until he was just in the right spot....


The next thing Endeavor knew there was a decidedly non-standard bike roaring through the air, a dark shape on its back, a cloak whipping in the icy wind. It skidded to a stop, the front facing the driver's compartment of the car.


The compartment where a woman lay murdered by the hand of one of the mercenaries. The mercs and Endeavor both could somehow sense that this was the wrong thing to have happened, as the figure on the bike went unnaturally still for a few moments.


And then suddenly that same figure was zipping through the air on a high-performance high-speed ascender line, aiming to tackle whichever mercenary was holding the gun that had killed the driver.

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Two men and two women stood at the rear doors of the armored car, clad in heavy kevlar vests and leering devil masks. One was hunched over a high-powered drill, guiding it with both hands as it bored through the heavy lock; a silenced pistol, still hot from use, lay across the bumper, within easy reach. The other three steadied assault rifles against their shoulders, covering all directions. One of the men, catching sight of the passengers of a nearby wreck trying to get out, lifted a finger to the mask's ghoulish lips and shook his head.


The moment Endeavor appeared, hovering over the impromptu clearing where the mercenaries were standing, the three rifles snapped up in her direction. No one replied to her request; it was greeted only by silence and the tightening of leather-gloved trigger fingers. However she looked, the trio was clearly taking her perfectly seriously; however young she was, they were clearly willing to kill her. Her appearance did, however, have one notable effect: it distracted everyone from Nevermore's sudden and dramatic arrival.


The cloaked vigilante soared through the air, ploughing into the back of the mercenary holding the drill. The snap of her nose breaking was audible even over roaring flames, shrieking car alarms, and wailing sirens. Slammed face-first into the reinforced doors, she slumped against the car, struggling to stay conscious. The other mercenaries reacted instantly. One lifted a finger and made a circling motion in the air; then all three turned on Nevermore. They were too close to open fire, but heavy prongs under their gun barrels crackled with electricity.


Meanwhile the helicopter changed position, angling itself to face down toward Endeavor. A chain gun just below its nose spun into eardrum-shattering action, spraying a stream of hot lead down at the young heroine. People in the cars surrounding the combat zone screamed and ducked low in their seats as stray rounds shredded doors, trunks, and hoods. Much more of this kind of barrage would rupture fuel tanks, killing anyone still trapped in the exploding vehicles, but the pilot didn't seem to care.


At the same time, heavy hooks descended from the helicopter; if the mercenaries couldn't drill in and get the boxes, they'd steal the truck!


Back toward the Hanover side of the bridge, people were struggling out of their cars. The fires were spreading, leaping from car to car, and no small number of drivers and passengers were stuck behind twisted, crumpled doors. It wouldn't be long before the gasoline leaking from the cracked tanker at the center of the bridge became lit, and from there it would be but a matter of seconds before the flames rushed back to the source...

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Samaritan had noticed the accident chain from atop a building near the bridge. It wasn’t his habit to play hooky, but every now and again the need to patrol was stronger than the desire to go to school. He swung in from Hanover and started helping people out of their cars. Even as strong as he was, it took some effort to pry open bent steel and aluminum. “Hang on, I’ll get you out of there.†He knew that something was going on further down. A robbery or something. But it didn’t matter. People came first. Money and things could be replaced. Lives couldn’t be, not even in Freedom. That thought lent extra motivation as he worked. The flames were moving fast, and he had to be faster.

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Nevermore's countenance was inhuman, no trace of skin showing through. His mask's eyes glowed a harsh green in the smoke and steam surrounding him. Nonetheless, the mercenaries got the sense he was less than happy.


The way he casually slammed a punch into the side of the barely-conscious woman's neck to knock her all the way down and out was probably a clue, too.




And then suddenly he was whirling motion, crouching before delivering a devastating uppercut to the man on his right, weaving around the probing attacks from all three gun-mounted stun guns. The blow struck the man in the sternum, the force being delivered even through what felt like military-grade body armor.


"Cowards. Don't even have the resolve to risk your own life for your goal. Weak. Easily broken."


He, uh, wasn't happy. On the flip side, Endeavor could tell that he was probably going to be able to handle all of the grounded mercenaries on his own!

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It was about the time that gunfire broke out that Uplink realized things were really bad.


The traffic cameras on the bridge were disconnected from the server by whatever jammer was in play, but they hadn't been hit with an EMP or anything; they were still working, just incapable of transmitting. But Gordon's digital brainwaves, he had found, didn't rely on existing networks; they could connect on their own, a mental wireless unaffected by traditional jammers. He slid easily into the cameras' systems, their feeds superimposed over his normal vision, and surveyed the scene from above.


The pileup was even more tangled and hopeless than it looked from the ground, but that wasn't what held his attention. No, the helicopter, the mercenaries, and the pair of heroes rather drew the eye. Gordon took a deep breath; this wasn't what he'd been expecting, signal disruption or no. But it looked like the pair of heroes, as odd a pair as the fearsome Nevermore and his pink-haired, sailor-suited ally were, had things under control. Uplink, then, had other tasks.


He'd never been particularly strong, certainly not strong enough to rip a mangled car door out of the way, but the good thing about cars these days was that they were full of computers.The trunks and doors of all the cars on the bridge, the armored car excepted, unlocked as one and did their best to swing open. It was trivial, done in less than a heartbeat; he was moving before it was even finished, pulling his techstaff from his back and letting it snap out from the collapsed travel mode to its full length.


Fire was spreading rapidly along the puddles and spatters of gasoline, racing back toward the leaking tanker truck at the center of the bridge. Gordon swallowed hard; if the semi exploded, a big hole in the bridge was the best case scenario. Fortunately, he wasn't alone. A young man in a T-shirt and blindfold-mask was ripping open stuck doors with his bare hands, saving those Uplink couldn't have helped. Gordon called out to him. "I need your help! We have to stop the fire!"


Pointing his techstaff, Uplink switched it to tripwire mode and pointed it at the nearest patch of flames, trickling down from the twisted hood of a pickup truck. He held the button down, over the device's insistent beeping to alert him that he was using it wrong, and let the liquid cable spray out over the fire, smothering it. As the heat died away, he allowed himself a grin, but only a momentary one. Fires were raging on several more cars and on the roadway, and he couldn't stop them all on his own...

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Sakurako knew she needed to act quickly... that Helicopter was armed, and the main means of getting away for the Mercenaries.


Who were they even? Who would send a paramilitary force after a common armored truck... it was obvious their goal...


No matter, Endeavor wasted no time, Spinning her EMWand in her hand for a second then pressing a button, she darts into the open door of the helicopter. She then grabbed on with her free hand to a handle inside the cabin, and pointed her wand at the cockpit, making a swiping motion which sent the two joysticks of the pilots pointed in a way where the helicopter would head into the water. Shortly.


"Okay boys, I don't think you can fight a fundamental force of the universe! Pop your emergency floats and shut your engine off. Now." It was rare to see Sakurako giving orders...


She knew the rotors would keep spinning after they shut the engine off if they followed orders, letting it have a controlled water landing. It also looked like this particular model had deployable emergency floats. She also knew they wouldn't have enough time to pull their sidearms if they had any... She wasn't a fan of being this grade of proactive, but things are getting out of hand.

She just hopes she doesn't hurt anyone with this stunt. Criminals or not, even these guys deserve their day in court.

Edited by The Osprey
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Vonnie didn’t look at the newcomer. He didn’t have to, thanks to his spatial awareness. Plus, he was kinda busy, you know? “What you do expect me to do? I don’t know anything about fires, man. Other than to keep the people as far away as possible. And that-“ He pulled as hard as he could and another door popped free. “-is what I’m already trying to do. All I got is my hands and my grapples. I can’t pull that liquid trick of yours. These are cables.†Painstakingly braided so they wouldn’t slice right through his hands monofilament wire cables, but whatever.

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