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April 3, 2015 

9PM 

 

It's springtime in Sapporo and the tourists have departed. The winter season that brings so much snow to this city of nearly two million has ended, bringing an end to the snow sculptures and snow festivals, and the cool moist spring has settled in comfortably here on the shores of Ishikari Bay. The big news in the city today is the recent beginning of baseball season - the famous Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters are playing a special exhibition game with the visiting Freedom City Comets, who themselves are on their way back to Freedom City tomorrow to begin their North American season with a game against Detroit. The 40,000 seats in the Sapporo Dome are packed with local fans and American "super-fans" from Freedom City who have flown in for the special game, many of them following the usual Freedom City pattern of wearing exaggerated superhero costumes alongside the usual Comets merch. It's a big day, and much to the delight of the home crowd, the Fighters are pulling ahead of their American antagonists. (The team's rivalry is old and arcane, as the best sports rivalries are, dating back to the early days of the Comets franchise in the 1950s when they clashed with the visiting Nippon-Ham Fighters in the West Coast of the US) 

 

Outside the rest of the city is bustling along quietly, though the cool, wet fog that's settled over most of the town tonight has kept many of the usual late-Friday-night crowd home or at least inside their favored establishments. Fishing is big here and you can walk into a local restaurant to find freshly-caught sea urchin, salmon, or crab on the menu, or perhaps the famous local jingisukan lamb barbecue. From the taller buildings in town you can see the mountains rising off to the east. Hokkaido has been 'tamed' since the late 19th century when American experts helped the Japanese government exterminate much of the local wildlife during the Meiji period, but at night when the Moon rises over the distant mountains of the island, glimpses of the old Hokkaido can be seen in the forest beyond. 

 

Inside the stadium, it's the seventh-inning stretch; a good time to wander up to the concession stand and get a beer or some soup curry, or maybe just sit in the stands and curse that bastard Kataoka and his murderous right arm. Errors by his own team have meant that the Nippon-Ham Fighters pitcher hasn't quite thrown a perfect game - but he's come close! The Comets have kept the Fighters dancing too, but the score is 18-9, and the Comets are going to have to pull off a miracle to win this one! 

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Dancia wasn’t a massive sport fan, she’d never found the time since arriving on this Earth, but when the assigned reporter for this story had fallen ill it was an opportunity she couldn’t refuse. Her work on there web site was beginning to get some recognition and she’d even had a few, very minor, articles printed in the Ledger. An article in the sports pages could be the making of her.


Whilst she could have flown to Sapporo in minutes but instead accepted the rather cramped seat on the first flight out to Tokyo, though she flew herself the rest of the way, so she could take a very rapid crash course in the rules and terminology off the game. And still she was still probably writing ten times what everyone else was, it helped she could write much fast than most people.

 

Whist she might have been able to get away with her costume she’d gone for a rather more conservative suit, though the costume was nearby just in case. She’d started to wear glasses as well to hide her identity a little more, it couldn’t hurt to be cautious just in case.

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Brubaker Imports owned the freighter through two layers of holding companies. It had been hopping along the coast through Southeast Asia to Hong Kong and up around the Korean peninsula. Northern Japan was supposed to be the last stop before crossing the Pacific. But the Japanese Coast Guard received a mayday call and intercepted the ship as it was drifting off the coast of Hakodate. They found the crew subdued, bound, and reluctant to explain why the cargo hold was full of people instead of iron ore.

Brian Brubaker hadn't seen a Freedom Comets game since he was a child, and technically, he never would again. The flight from Hakodate to Sapporo was less than an hour and less than a hundred dollars. Indulging a fit of nostalgia was an extravagance he had decided that he could afford. Mere minutes into the game, he was already strongly reconsidering that decision. He was just barely able to focus on the crack of the ball against the bat over the cacophony of forty-thousand heartbeats, and he almost tasted his Calpis soda and fried octopus balls through the soup of beer and human sweat.

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If you'd asked Lynn Epstein if she ever planned to spend Passover in Japan as recently as a week ago, she would've looked at you like you were nuts. And yet somehow the fates had aligned to make it so; during the three years she'd been off Earth, her older brother Ben had been lured away from the Port Authority to join a large private sector firm that specialized in international transport and shipping. Now thanks to his new assignment, he and his family were currently living in Sapporo and spending their first Passover thousands of miles away from family and friends, in a country not particularly known for its large Jewish population. A tearful phone call home led to an impulsive decision on his baby sister's part; if he couldn't be home for Pesach, maybe a little bit of home could come to him!

 

Leaving the store in Kiki's capable hands for the first time proved to be a little nerve-wracking at first, but a necessary step in letting go and having faith in her talented assistant manager. Complicating things slightly was Gretchen's insistance in tagging along; not only was she still unsure about the whole 'personal crimefighting assistant' concept, but having two people away from the store at the same time left a fairly large hole in terms of staffing. But Gretch not only argued that it would a good field test of her new responsibilities, but somehow managed to convince her former coworker Cred0 to cover her shifts for the week!

 

So far, the field test was working out fine; her assistant handled all the travel arrangements, including drawing up list of things 'normal' people pack for international travel and procuring said items so the TSA wouldn't think Lynn was as she put it a 'bizzare superhero freak'. They had indeed breezed through customs and had an easy flight, followed by the connecting flight to Sapporo. Ben and his wife Sarah were ecstatic to see her, as were their three kids Cara, Amanda and Benji Jr. Tonight's seder had gone without a hitch, and then he'd surprised Lynn and her friend with two tickets to the ballpark!

The stadium was a riot of sights, sounds and smells, and Lynn loved it; Gretchen was less a fan of crowds, but was happy to see her boss finally relax a bit. Both wore oversized foam cowboy hats in the Comets' away colors, and Lynn was waving a giant foam finger, a huge grin on her face.

 

"This is so cool! MUCH cooler than the ball games back home!"

 

Gretch winced slightly as she held her hands over her ears, but she still managed a slight smile. "Oh it's something alright; like a One Direction concert turned up to eleven." Noticing her empty cup in her seat's cup holder, she attempted to catch the eye of one of the cute beer girls in their caps and shorts, toting mini-kegs on their backs. "I'm getting a refill; you want anything?"

 

"Nah, I'm good, unless you can grab me a Coke; at least they use sugar in their soda instead of corn syrup!" Then she joined the crowd in one of their songs, enthusiastically singing along in perfect Japanese.

Edited by Heritage

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"... All in all, me and my associates are feeling very confident about your proposal, mr Lineburg." the Japanese businessman who represented Kogane no Daiyamondo, one of Japan's foremost jewel manufacturers, explained to Gregory, as they discussed the possibility of Gregory's jewlery firm importing KnD's products as their main representative in Freedom City. For George, this deal would prove salvatory, providing him with a much needed boost to his shops' selections, and thus would help him turn some profit for a change. The past few months had turned out to be quite brutal to him, from an economic standpoint, as Gregory witnessed his business turning less and less of an income, as the recession endured. "I think it safe to say that we are looking at a prosperful future for both our companies."

 

"I certainly hope so, mr Takanori." The stadium might have been teeming with loud fans cheering for their team, but even so, Gregory and Takanori Mamoru were able to conduct their business with no problem, while also enjoying the spectacle in front of them. Serge, who had flown to Japan alongside his stepfather Gregory in order to help him with the deal, had tagged along, mostly out of boredom. He wasn't particularly a fan of baseball, him prefering basketball more, but the hotel he and his stepfather were staying at offered little in the way of entertainment, outside of a television and wifi, and the young man felt he'd rather take the chance and see the outside instead. "Still, I have to say, most businessmen of your caliber would prefer to conduct their deals in the VIP room. I'm surprised you chose seats so close to the field."

 

"Hahahaha! Perhaps they do, but that's their loss, mr Lineburg." Takanori laughed jovially. "There's no real point in watching a baseball match unless you stand a good chance of catching a homerun yourself."

 

"Well, can't say I can fault your logic on that one." Gregory acquiesced.

 

The talks between the two continued, while Serge idly stared at the game. Heh, Gregory and mr Takanori seem to hit it off well enough. I hope it pays off for him. Between work and helping cover for me to my mom, Greg has been keeping way too busy.

 

Honestly, you should be more worried about yourself, dum-dum.

 

Oh great. And here I thought, all this time, that I'd gotten rid of you. What made you come out of the woodwork?

 

Oh, I dunno, maybe the fact that you have 3 papers for June, and you have done no work in either at all?

 

It's not like I won't get to it. I've just been a bit busy with crimefighting.

 

Like you eventually got to 1 out of 3 papers last term?

 

...

 

Yeah, I thought so.

 

Shut up. The last thing I need is a snarky inner voice. Seriously, why do you even exist?

 

Maybe you should ask yourself that question next time you decide to spend whole weeks tinkering with your oh-so-special suit, with minimum contact with other human beings.

 

... You do realise that, technically speaking, I AM asking mys-

 

Yeah, yeah, I know... smartass.

 

Heh. Serge chuckled. It wasn't often that he pulled one over his inner snarker.

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The mysterious ultrasound pulse completely ruined Brian's concentration on the game. His head whipped around over his shoulder. One of the fans sitting next to him raised a quizzical eyebrow at the gaijin with the dark sunglases and white cane who seemed to be trying to look at something.

What could that have been? I doubt there's a submarine burrowing under the streets...

His face snapped back down toward the field in response to the second pulse.

...And there definitely shouldn't be one under home plate.

Brian fished a smoke pellet out of his pocket, let it fall down beside his foot, and pressed down on it with the sole of his shoe. Thick black smoke shot out of it in several directions. In seconds, the cloud covered several seats in every direction. During those seconds, Brian pulled at the hidden snaps and zippers of his street clothes, tearing them free to reveal his black and white jumpsuit. He pulled the mask of the Kingsnake down over his head and somersaulted over the seats in front of him, hitting the ground running toward the field below.

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Gretchen had just returned with a foamy cup of Sapporo Black and a Coke for her boss when Lynn suddenly stopped singing, and cocked her head to one side.

 

"Okay, one for you- what?"

 

The changeling pulled off her hat and finger and started to look around, scanning the crowd anxiously, craning her neck first one way, then the other.

 

Now her assistant began to look around nervously. "What is it, what's wrong?"

 

"I dunno, there's something-" She shook her head. "I don't know what it is, but it's something bad. Grab our stuff." She took the cup of Coke, popped off the lid and downed it in one long swig, then stuffed it in their trash bag. "Ooh, that's a rush! Here, let's get away from these people, maybe get a pillar behind us; you don't want to be standing in the middle of forty thousand people if there's a panic. Also I might have to change."

 

Gretchen did not like a single thing her boss was saying, but took some degree of comfort in how calmly she said it; she dutifully gathered up all their things, still darting glances over her shoulders, looking for she knew not what.

 

Suddenly, Lynn stopped and turned around. "Here, y'know what, take this-" She produced a thick red rubber band out of thin air, and put it around Gretchen's narrow wrist. Then she took her assistant's hand in both of hers and locked eyes. "Hold on to this; if we get seperated or anything happens, I will find you, okay?" The young girl nodded mutely, simultaneously thrilled and terrified by the intensity of those dark brown eyes.Then they continued walking up the stairs, heading for the nearest structural pillar.

Edited by Heritage

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Dancia could normally manage to tune out the sounds normally beyond human hearing, common sounds in modern cities, but the continuous sounds she was picking up was difficult to ignore. It was almost similar to echo location she’d heard in dolphins, and she was fairly sure that there was none here watching the games. Whilst it was irritating, she really had to concentrate to follow this damn game, but it didn’t worry her right now it didn't appear to be a threat in any way. Maybe it was just another hero enjoying the game, but probably not a dolphin.

 

The smoke however was another deal that was someone trying to draw others attention. A quick check with her X-Ray vision showed it wasn’t anything serious like a fire, apparently it was just cover for a hero to get changed (and she didn’t pry into their identity).

 

“Well this could be more interesting than a baseball game, maybe even front page news.†she spoke quietly to herself “But first thing’s first let’s make sure that it’s nothing dangerous.â€

 

Quietly backing out of the press box as the other journalists surged forward to see what was going on. Flying down the corridors she quickly changed into her costume, obvious it was wise to bring it with her, and she flew in a wide arc before gently floating down into the stadium as of she happened to be passing by.

 

“Please everyone remain calm, you not in any danger it’s just harmless smoke.â€

 

Once she knew it was safe to do so she gently blew the smoke away, hoping it would calm people down before trouble started.

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Serge perked his eyes as he saw the distant smoke. Already, alarms where going off inside his head, and perhaps thankfully, not due to his inner voice. He immediately stood up, trying to figure out what was going on. Greg noticed this, as he asked "Serge? What's up?" Then, his gaze followed his stepson's, and he too noticed the smoke, allong with mr Takanori. "Did a hooligan do this?" the business man asked, more so so that his thoughts would be vocalized than to hear a reply.

 

"I dunno..." Serge trailled off... and then he saw a familiar figure. It was a figure covered in a suit that looked like one he had come to idolize as a kid, and came to respect as a Claremonter; the suit of Centurion! And wearing this familiar looking suit, was Triakosia, he recognized. "... but I get the feeling that something else is going on... Greg?" His stepfather looked at the superheroine, and then at his son.

 

"Right... So, um... Can you do me a favor and see if you can... um... find a place with good internet reception, Serge?" Gregory said, trying to give him a good excuse. "Maybe the net has some information."

 

Serge didn't need to think twice when given an exit cue. "Gotcha, Greg."

 

"Mr Takanori? I think we should quietly look for someplace safe, whatchathink?"

 

"I think... that there is wisdom in discretion."

 


 

Serge ran towards the top of the stairs, and when he left the view of his stepfather and mr Takanori, he accelerated, while heading inside the exit and towards the mens' WC.

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Kingsnake hit the ground - and the world exploded. A deafening eruption of subsonic noise blasted at his senses, conveyed through his feet, his bones, his ears, every inch of his empowered frame. The wash of sheer agony knocked him to the ground even as it buffeted and rolled beneath him like the surface of an ocean - and then came more noises of screaming and shattering concrete and the wail of a building shattering around him. But even amid the waves of stunning, dizzying pain, he knew what was happening - there was something underneath home plate causing that sound! 

 

For the others, the world went mad. The brief melee in the stands was interrupted by a sudden, powerful tremor that made the crowd scream as one in their terror as they were knocked off their feet and out of the stands by a series of violent tremors that seemed to go on and on! Lynn saw Gretchen fall on the concrete steps, a painful impact that was matched by dozens of others as people fell and then, knocked down, went tumbling down the hard concrete as it shook! A terrible groaning was coming from the stadium's interior as the tremor went on and on, lights falling from the roof and crashing onto the field, into the crowd as the vibrations went on and on! An eruption of filthy water blasted past Serge as he reached the WC, broken pipes turning the room into a gusher. 

 

And then it was done. In the space of a terrifying half-minute, the happy ball game had become a scene of horror - chunks of roof panels and electrical overhang had fallen into the stands and onto the field, electricity flickering and sparking madly, rows of seats were knocked askew and fallen people strewn everywhere, some moving, some not. Everywhere there was screaming and cries for help from the thousands of earthquake victims who had been happy baseball fans a little while ago, and scenes of terrible disaster. The ground of the field had _moved_, the badly-battered Kingsnake (along with the right fielder) were actually resting on a frozen 'wave' of dirt that had been swept up against one side of the sunken amphitheater .that made up the stands. Most ominous of all was the deep, ominous sound of mechanical groaning from somewhere inside the dome, as if something vital inside had been knocked askew. 

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As soon as the shaking started Triakosia sprung into action trying to protect as many people as she could from falling debris. She couldn’t be everywhere or stop all but she tried to do as much as she could, later she could worry if she’d done enough.

 

Once the shaking had stopped her first concern was to try to get people out of the stadium, without any further injury to anyone. To this end she addressed the crowd in a loud but calm and controlled manner.

 

“I need everyone to remain calm and to start to leave the stadium as quickly but safely as you can. If you're able please help anyone who’s confused or stunned, or the walking wounded to leave with you.â€

 

Her focus for now was on those from Freedom City, she knew that the Japanese were well drilled in dealing with emergencies like these. Once she was happy that everyone was starting to leave in a safe manner she began to evacuate those that were unable to leave by themselves, starting with those who had been trapped but still alive. Training she’d received long ago from a life no longer remember helped her stay focused and make those unfortunately necessary decisions.

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Somehow, impossibly, Lynn managed to keep standing; her unnatural grace and balance allowed her to ride out the shockwaves like a trick rider standing on the back of a galloping horse. But even though she kept her footing, she was still shaken to the core by the scenes of horror playing out all around her; the stadium was devestated, and there was almost certainly great loss of life. So strange to be here to witness this, not safe at home vaguely noting the tragedy scrolling along the bottom of a TV screen.

 

Her first thought was of course Gretchen; she'd seen her friend go down, but from here it didn't look too bad. She hoped. In this chaos, she wasn't too concerned about blowing her cover, so she changed into Grimalkin right where she stood, the mists parting to reveal her more youthful, slender form wrapped in blue and black leather. She nimbly hopped across the backs of mangled chairs and landed next to Gretchen.

 

"Are you alright?"

 

Her assistant nodded as she unsteadily lifted herself up, holding a hand to the back of her head. "Yeah, I think so." She pulled her hand away, slick with blood, and went pale at the sight of it. "S###, I'm bleeding."

 

"Not too bad, I think; here, lemme see."

 

"Ow."

 

"Sorry, sorry. Well...it doesn't look too bad, but I'm no doctor; scalp wounds always bleed a lot, but you still might have whiplash or a concussion. Can you stand?"

 

"I think so."

 

"I gotcha, I gotcha. There."

 

Now leaning against a twisted railing, Gretchen could look around for the first time at the disaster area that surrounded her; she could barely believe her eyes. "Oh, holy s###."

 

"Yep."

 

"You've gotta go."

 

"Yeah; here-" The changeling conjured up an ice pack, some bandages and a blanket to drape over Gretchen's shoulders. "Keep this on the back of your head, and start heading for an exit; I'll check up on you when I can." She turned to leave, but her assistant grabbed her arm.

 

"Wait! Before you go, make more stuff!"

 

Seeing the wisdom in Gretchen's words, she quickly created more blankets and bandages in two neat piles, then she shrunk down to pixie size and took to the air, trying to get a better idea of where she could be the most help. One thing she knew for sure: this year, she was going to take some first aid classes. No more excuses.

 

Meanwhile back on the ground, Gretchen began to dispense the supplies to those around her.

Edited by Heritage

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Serge's eyes temporarily widened from the surprise, before he instictively closed them to avoid getting any water in his eyes. Great! Last thing I need is to get an infection while trying to change into my 'work clothes'. Splashing sounds accompanied his movements, as Serge maneuvered into a toilet stall, trying to avoid opening his eyes as much as he could. The sight in front of him, inside the stall, was no more pleasant; a horrible odour was fuming from the toilet, the earthquake no doubt having caused some sort of clogging congestion within the piping, that forced the filth of the excrement to bubble back. Serge had to fight the urge to keep the contents of his stomach from being unleashed into the world prematurely. "... ughh... Desperate times." Not seeing much of a choice, Serge closed the door behind him, and climbed into the wall, manipulating his vibration in order to exert force unto the wall, allowing him thus to stick on it, while avoiding the waters on the floor. Taking off his bag, he opened it, uncovering the stashed vibro-suit he always carried with him. "Welp... time to get changed." Serge said, all the while praying that he would not lose his footing or drop his clothes...

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When the tremor hit, Kingsnake's whole world went dark. The glowing line drawings scrawled onto windows looking out at a cloudy night sky that passed as "sight" for him vanished. The tapping of forty-thousand heartbeats, the dull roar of conversations, the machine-gun clatter of applause, everything was eclipsed by a high-pitched squeal that wouldn't stop echoing back and forth through his brain.

As he lay on the ground clutching his head, half-delirious, he mused grimly at all the forgotten tidbits from his childhood suddenly flooding into his mind. This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System...this is only a test...if this had been a real emergency, you wouldn't have gotten caught with your pants down...56k modems, remember those? Only '90s kids will understand...

The sound, the sonar, all of it was gone. So...that's what it's like to be blind. His whole world was noise...and smell. The blood. So much blood. So many tiny cuts and scrapes. He almost gagged.

As he staggered to his feet, he pointed up into the sky, then back down where home plate used to be, screaming himself hoarse in thickly-accented Japanese, hoping the slight vibrations he felt in his throat meant he could be heard. "<MAN-MADE! SIGNAL...CAME FROM OUT THERE! UP THERE! RECEIVER...DOWN THERE! THEY CAN DO IT AGAIN!>"

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Popular fiction likes to imagine that in a moment of great disaster, people will set aside their humanity and embrace the carnage of raw survival. And sometimes that's true - but usually it isn't. It certainly isn't true here under the Sapporo Dome, where transplanted Freedomites and locals alike rally together to save themselves and protect the wounded. Gretchen's 'aid station' soon became a center for help, the American woman quickly joined by two Japanese EMTs with what looked like first aid kits from the stadium's fortunately ample supplies. Flying high, Grimalkin could see the grim extent of the damage. The Japanese built for earthquakes, which meant the building had survived even the serious tremors; but the damage had still been serious, and in a crowded audience to boot. The deaths must be in the dozens already, even with the emergency crew in the stadium working overtime. But where are the city's emergency crews?

 

Net Fly soon found himself pressed into service as a first-aid technician, the sight of a costumed superhero one that the people outside the men's room immediately seized on. It was all he could to reassure the local crowd and small number of Freedomites that everything was going to be all right, even as he steered them towards the first aid stations forming inside the dome. Peering outside a window, he caught sight of a grim scene - outside, fires were blazing in the battered-looking city of Sapporo and sirens wailing everywhere. The earthquake had not been limited to the dome; and a quick check of the local media revealed the signs of a devastating quake that had struck the whole city. 

 

Triakosia was able to negotiate with the crowd easily enough, this sort of situation being a common enough role for someone with her powers. Her strength meant she could lift debris off the fallen, carry the injured to first aid stations, and otherwise save lives wherever she went - but the damage itself could not be undone, nor could the countless dead be brought back to life. 

 

It was easy enough for Kingsnake to make his way to the spot under home plate where he heard the ultrasonic projection; the spot was instantly obviously to his recovering sonar senses as they detected the ominous crater beneath the crumpled Astroturf. The spot that produced so much horror is now dead silent - but listening closely, he could hear the shape of what lay underneath, a twisted mass of metal and plastic that must have been a machine as big around as he was tall. But listening that closely meant he could hear more now, hear even beyond the stadium - hear the sound of the sirens, everywhere, and the low rumble of distant disaster. 

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Kingsnake's altered (deformed?) brain never stopped broadcasting high-frequency sound waves, but it took a minute for his ability to receive and interpret them to register. Blurry and inconsistent at first, gradually his "view" of his surroundings returned. The floor of the arena (or what was left of it) wasn't thick enough to block those sound waves, a scientific fact for which he was very, very grateful at the moment. A transparent line-drawing of the stadium's guts took shape in his mind's eye, and he took off running again, this time toward the nearest service entrance he could find into the bowels of the wrecked dome. Can't lift truck-sized chunks of debris up off of people like the other capes here. Up here, I'm just one more candystriper among thousands. Down there, maybe I can find some scrap of a clue about who did this, how, or even why.

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It made the tiny pixie proud to see her assistant rise to the challenge and help the local EMTs, but that pride was almost completely overshadowed by the carnage Grim saw as she floated overhead. And the question of course remained: natural disaster or triggered event? As a crimefighter, she sadly knew both were a possibility; some sicko could have wanted to kill hundreds of people, if not more.

 

But then she heard someone shouting in accented Japanese down near the field, and noted a muscular figure in black and white gesturing towards the massive crater and the sky before heading towards the stadium's lower levels; possibly an unknown cape with a lead? But what if...no, if it was the bad guy who'd created this nightmare, he wouldn't be shouting himself hoarse and then running away; there would a sound system, a long, rambling speech and additional demonstrations of power, or maybe a hostage. No, this was a good guy with a possible lead, on the move while the trail was fresh!

 

As she dove down to follow him and see if he needed any backup, she spotted Triakosia here helping as well; thank God they had a heavy hitter here! Grim took a brief detour to buzz the beautiful powerhouse, conjuring up a long, brightly-colored banner as she flew past.

 

GOOD TO SEE YOU, TRIAKOSIA! WE CAN USE ALL THE HELP WE CAN GET! - GRIM

 

Letting the banner trail down to the shattered earth, she zipped into the service entrance she'd seen the mystery man enter moments before.

 

- - -

 

For her part, Gretchen was operating on autopilot; she'd never really been the volunteering type before, not out of any sort of mean-spiritedness, but more due to her somewhat misanthropic and defeatist attitude. She didn't so much hate people so much as merely try to avoid the bulk of humanity whenever possible. But this...this was different; she was helping innocent people she'd never met before, most of whom spoke little or no English, battered and bloody and scared. And the looks they gave her as they bowed in thanks, grateful smiles under haunted eyes, shook her to her very core. No language was really needed as she worked with the two EMTs; a nod, a tap on the shoulder, a thumbs up or a grunt of thanks was all it took to get the job done.

 

For the first time in her life, Gretchen felt a powerful (dare she say spiritual?) connection to her fellow man, and the emotion was almost too much to bear. But then she caught a flash of bright, gossamer wings through tear-filled eyes...and she smiled, and dutifully returned to the task at hand.

Edited by Heritage

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Net Fly tried his level best to help the injured, a task made more difficult by the fact that many of them could only speak Japanese. Thankfully, some of the locals who could converse in English with some ease were giving him a hand in that regard, and while the young hero lacked the extensive trainning to provide medical assistance on his own, he could still help with clearing the debris, guiding the injured towards the first aid stations, and even administering some very basic first aid himself. He might not have had an extensive trainning in the field, but the lessons in Claremont Academy on the subject had certainly paid off.

 

During his run for survivors, at one point, he spotted a young couple. Probably in their teens. The boy's left leg had been utterly crushed under the debris, while the girl was clinging to him, in her effort to protect him from further injury, her back being full of dust and bricks. Net Fly carried them both, instructing the girl to hold tightly while he made sure he held the boy with both his arms, as he made his way back to the station. There, it appeared that the father of the girl was waitting, scratches running along his face, and blood stainning his stomach, but he appeared to be otherwise fine. A tearful reunion ensued, as the father profusely thanked Serge in his language, bowing again and again as he frantically held the young hero's hands.

 

Serge's mind had gone blank. With all this commotion, he'd lost track of his stepfather too. He wondered whether he was alright, if he had been similarly injured like the boy or... It was thankfully then that he looked outside, and his eyes caught sight of the banner Grimalkin had conjured. He'd already seen a couple of heroes running around, mostly locals from what he'd gathered, but it still did him good, knowing that familiar faces were running around as well. For a moment, he allowed himself a small smirk, in acknowledgement of the weird twists and turns fate seemed to take.

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Triakosia's focus had been on the living, though she treated the fallen with the up most respect, getting all those to the help that they needed as safely as she could. Later she would grieve for the dead, wondering if she could do more, but for now her focus was elsewhere. It was comforting that everyone was pitching in to help the each other out in this time of need. Now that things had settled down and the emergency services were on the way it was time to discover who and why this was happened. She dropped down beside Netfly and gave him a friendly nod.

"It good to see you again, even if it's not the best of circumstances. The emergency services are almost here and our colleagues are already begin to investigate what caused this, care to join them?"

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Down below in the guts of the stadium, the heroes found the machine that Kingsnake's super-senses had uncovered, even if the darkness of the powerless stadium interior meant that they had to rely either on super-senses of their own or a handy pocket flashlight; or a cell, for that matter, depending on need.

 

It didn't look like much to the untrained eye - a half-melted column of metal and plastic with one end jammed against the solid structure of the stadium's interior concrete architecture and the other pressed against the floor. But this was the center of the ultrasonic vibrations that Kingsnake and Triakosia had sensed. Hard evidence for this could be found in the gut-churning structural damage clearly visible everywhere. The ceiling in this room, a janitor's storage area, and the hallway around it, were like so many cracked eggshells just waiting for the right pressure to snap it. It was instantly clear they didn't have long to study their find! 

 

It was also abundantly clear that they weren't alone. Stretched out beneath the sonic device was the usual occupant of the storage room - a stadium janitor with the side of his head methodically beaten in. 

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Kingsnake stopped just inside the storage room when he realized the other heroes were piling in close behind.

"Stop." He spoke English now. He kept his back to them, but turned his head slightly to the side. Not enough to see over his shoulder if he had eyes anymore, but barely enough to show physical acknowledgement of their presence. "We don't have much time, and that's when it's most important not to rush. Watch your step and don't touch anything. If you find something, call me over. Everything is relevant until it isn't. Don't just stomp around scooping up whatever shiny objects catch your eye. The police will be here to do that soon enough. The super-strong flyer should keep one eye on the ceiling that's about to collapse on us."

Before taking a step, he stood at the entrance and took in the whole room with each of his senses, one at a time, and then all at once, trying to put a picture together from all the various pieces. He held his nose and "closed" the part of his brain that broadcast his sonar like it was an eye, straining to hear any sounds that might be hiding under the footsteps and breathing of the assembled heroes and the cacophony above ground. Then he held his fingers against his ears and let the air fill his nostrils. Finally, he opened his mind and let his brain start sending out pulses of ultrasound again, taking a deep breath as the shapes of the people and objects around him started flooding in again.

He pulled out a pair of rubber bands and slipped them onto his boots, rendering any footprints he left instantly distinguishable from the others. He resisted the urge to head straight for the body, instead walking back and forth across the room methodically in a grid pattern, occasionally stopping to gently smell or feel anything of interest. When he finally did kneel down beside the corpse, he gently lifted the head and then each hand and foot, sniffing each one and the ground beneath them. He pulled out a series of small plastic bags and scraped traces from the soles of the mans shoes, under his fingernails, and from the floor under him. He felt the man's skin, hoping he could tell how long it had been since his blood had stopped circulating from what tiny amount of heat hadn't yet left the flesh. His fingers traced the contours of the head wound. He followed the blood spatter with his nose and scraped some of it onto a slide which he then sealed into a bag. He fished through the man's pockets and felt along his shirt, looking for a billfold, keys, and maybe an ID badge. No time to examine the contents here, but don't want to let them get buried.

When he finally turned his attention to the machine, he gently ran his fingers along the surface as he circled around it, hoping to find fingerprint residue or seams that might indicate an opening to a control panel. He sniffed at it, hoping to recognize something about its makeup. After he finished examining it, he turned to the woman who had been flying around earlier. "The police will probably need your help getting this thing out of here. The other two can lift the body out before it gets buried under rubble."

Edited by ShaenTheBrain

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Grim had been about to announce her presence to the mysterious man in black and white when his firm words brought her up short; clearly this guy knew what he was doing! So instead she merely nodded, then decided it would be best if she suplemented his search in ways he could not, such as investigating the ceiling and distant corners of the room from the air.

 

With a soft hum of wings, she flitted this way and that, bringing all her senses to bear, being sure not to touch anything. She kept her eyes open for any nooks or cracks only she might be able to squeeze into, though she didn't enter any of them yet.

 

The device itself was beyond her ken, though she still gave it a once over. She was more interested in the poor dead janitor, hovering over his face and clothing, her tiny stomach twisted in knots. They could have drugged him, slit his throat or snapped his neck, but instead they opted to beat him to death; what did that say about whoever did this?

Edited by Heritage

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"Triakosia!" Net Fly responded surprised, upon being hailed by the heroine. "Likewise, we could have done without the lethal earthquake, but it's still reassuring seeing familiar faces, especially given the circumstances." he commented, with a slightly sad tone. Not long ago, Net Fly, Triakosia, and Grimalkin had all joined forces with other heroes, in order to lend a hand in dealing with the Communion invasion on Earth. When the dust appeared to have settled in, and in an emotionally charged moment, Net Fly had unmasked himself in front of his comrades, and they, in turn, had shared their secret identities with him. As such, he didn't feel apprehensive in heeding Triakosia's summons. "Of course, you can count on me." Looking at the rest of the relief's efforts picking up the pace, Net Fly excused himself, saying that he was gonna join the investigation team. The people thanked him for his efforts, as Net Fly followed Triakosia down the hole, to where Kingsnake had been.

 

Though the grim hero startled Net Fly, the young hero didn't take long to focus his efforts into helping Kingsnake and the others search the machine for clues. Net Fly himself tried to crack his brain, in an effort to make sense of what it was he was seeing exactly.

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Triakosia hover behind the other heroes taking in the scene as she did so, open skies and massive objects were more her scene than this cramped little crime scene so she was happy to let the other to do the work. Introductions could wait until they solved what ever was going on here.

 

She did however scan the room in intricate detail at speeds much faster than the normal human eye could follow. Picking out details at impossible speeds, and none of them particularly good.

 

“We should hurry I this chamber is pretty unstable, I’d suggest we find out where they go.â€

 

She pointed to a bloody footprint, apparently the only one that survived the earthquake.

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Kingsnake pulled the tape off the doorjamb, bringing up the bloody handprint, smoothed the tape back down on its white paper backing, and tossed it into a stray Fighters tote-bag he'd picked up along the way, along with the other evidence baggies and a fistful of the shredded cash. "The machine was rigged with explosives. Covering their tracks. Get what's left of it out of here intact. They won't like that."

He heaved the janitor's corpse up over his shoulders. "Namazu Technologies is the next stop, after making sure this place isn't his grave. His family deserves to know the truth about how he died, and why." He started jogging back the way he came, up to the surface.

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