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Thorton's Goods
Greenbank, Freedom City, New Jersey
Monday, May 4th, 2015
5:12 PM

GM

"Put all  your cash out of the register and no one gets hurt."  The giant gorilla pointing the revolver towards the small mom and pop shop owner had been a familiar site in the Greenbank over the past few months.  The dozen apes standing behind him as back ups.  It was the Gorilla Gang!  Gang activity having steadily increased in the Greenbank.  Once thought of as simple youth and street gang of apes, their latest crime spree was a bit more focused nowadays.  Organized even.

Though that did nothing to explain why they were all bothering to wear ski masks on their faces.  There were only so many uplifted and/or intelligent ape immigrants in the city. Sure, the lucky few dabbling in occasional bodyguard or super villain minion work had comparatively excellent health benefits.  But, giant talking ape still narrowed a police suspect pool by quite a bit.

Hal of the apes broke off into the store.  Looting and ransacking it for its contents.  Mostly tools and craft supplies.  But, one of the gorillas took their share of bananas too.  "Way to live the stereotype Cornelius," one of the apes who stayed behind called out to him.

"You want I should put them back?"  Cornelius asked in return.  No one said anything to the ape's smug satisfaction.  Hooting and hollering the Gorilla Gang did all but broadcast their location as they exited the store satisfied with their haul. 

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The Gorilla Gang was halfway down the block and not making any less noise, and so perhaps they can be forgiven for not hearing the flickering whir as it approached.

They most certainly did notice, however, when the load of bananas being carried by Cornelius abruptly exploded into mush, splattering chunks of soft fruit and shreds of skin in all directions.

The rapidly spinning multi-armed boomerang arced through the air and smacked back into the hand of Wildcat, standing atop the flat roof of a store across the street, one foot up on the low wall lining the edge.

"I knew something was up when I could smell monkey this far from the zoo.  But...really?  Bananas?" he demanded scornfully.

As it had happened, he had only been here by chance -- he had just gotten off of work, and stepping outside had been smacked in the face with the heavy scent of primate.  A quick change into the costume he carried in his bag, and he'd arrived just in time to see the aftermath of the robbery.

He was here, though, and for once it was just him.  He'd been doing this gig for about two months now, and it seemed every other time he got involved in anything significant, some vastly more experienced female hero or other would come by and show him that he was playing well out of his league.  Well, he was here, the monkeys were here, and he was going to show them that they weren't the biggest, baddest primates in the neighbourhood at the moment!

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GM

"What?  You got a problem with bananas?  Funny cuz you're gonna splatter!"  The ape holding what was once a sack of bananas called out.  Immediately drawing his pistol and flaring his nostrils.  You didn't have to hail from the jungle to realize when a primate was severly and utterly pissed off.  Though the bullet that narrowly missed Wildcat was a good hint.

"Calcium's good for you!"  Another screeched while beating its chest.  It should be noted that the hand not holding a firearm was used for this act.  Mama ape didn't raise no fool.  The other apes took the example.  Except for the ringleader whom seemed content to enter a black SUV.  One in a set that hadn't even bothered to park in front the store.  Instead they were blocking offf traffic by taking up the middle of the road.

"You're gonna really regret getting in our way bub."  Another gorilla called out before squeezing his finger around the trigger.  His pistol pointed dead center at Wildcat's chest.

Edited by HG Morrison

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Glamazon had been bounding through the nearby rooftops when the initial sound of gunfire had attracted her attention.  Immediately without even an ounce of hesitation the princess responded to the call to arms.  Rocketing through the area above with the sole purpose of finding out what was going on.  Eventually coming to the roof of the mom and pop shop in question.  The sight of armed gorillas told her all she needed to know.

While the gorilla had been lining up his shot to the man dressed like a cat, Glamazon had already dove off the roof.  It was hard to say whether it was luck or just a virtue of how quickly she had fallen from the sky above.  But, before the gun was fired the Claremont senior was already positioned to take the shot for Wildcat.  Harmlessly deflecting with the metallic piece of breast plate attached to her toga styled dress wear.

"Beware vile fiends.  For the Glamazon has come to present upon you the gift of battle!"

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"No!"  Wildcat's bellow was, truth be told, a mix between incredulity and rage.  He flung his banana-besmeared boomerang aside without looking and leapt out into the air, the hardened plastic weapon whirring by sedately overhead on its return arc as he slammed down onto the street in a crouch between Glamazon and the gorillas.

"This is mine, I've got this," he growled at Glamazon, rising warily to his feet and ready to avoid any further gunfire from the apes -- but the majority of his attention was on her.  Yet again there was some woman showing up trying to take away from what he was doing, belittling him and trying to prove that they were better.  It had been bad enough when it was Wander, or Jill, who had been established for quite some time and were arguably more experienced, but this one?

"You're not needed here, Atlantian, or wanted," he snarled, flicking a hand as if to shoo her away.  She was still a teenager, fer chrissakes!  "This is between me and the monkeys -- why don't you be a good little girl and run off and break another truck or something?"  Okay, perhaps he was being a little harsher on her than he needed to be, but he didn't need some schoolkid coming in here and messing with what he was doing.  Powers or no, she was just a kid -- he didn't want her to get hurt.

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Glamazon's emotions moved from bemused to agitated to ticked on in the span of a few seconds.  There had been a lot of barbs thrown her way during her heroing career.  She had taken a few heavy blows.  What Thaelia, a princess of Atlantis, had never been was dismissed.  From the way the man was talking to her to the way he moved, the Glamazon was not entirely sure if she cared how badly he got riddled with bullets for a moment.

Standing at six feet tall, the "little" girl slowly inched her way towards Wildcat fuming.  "You would do best to watch your words, little man.  Lest the Glamazon watch them f-"  It was at this point Thaelia noticed that some of the apes were breaking off into their respective vehicles.  What remained began open firing on the pair.

There was little time to act.  And the Glamazon was already fuming.  On pure instinct she smacked Wildcat across the face.  Sending him flying through the pane glass window off the nearby shop.  And safely out of harm's way as the bullets flew by.  For a relative measure of harm compared to being sent flying a by Glamazon's superhumanly strong fist.  Instantly the horror of what she did dawned on the Atlantean as she went inside to check on Wildcat.

This was all the distraction the apes needed.  Speeding off in their vans while the heroes fought among themselves.

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Gideon knew he wasn't what anyone could call an upstanding pillar of the community, but he knew that he performed a valuable service for the residents of this neighbourhood, shabby as it was.  Gideon's Pawn Shop turned over a tidy bit of business daily, and a fair bit of it was even on the up-and-up, rather than the inevitable fencing of stolen goods that shabby pawn shops were used for the world over.

He took care of his shop, too -- sure, there was a huge plate-glass window facing the street, but that was required for enticing 'customers' to drop in an buy some of his displayed wares.  He had the best roll-down security shutters he could afford to protect the place when it was closed up, and an expanding gate across the inside to deter anyone who got far enough to trip the alarm.  Concrete-filled bollards in front of the window and door kept anyone from just smashing a truck through the gate with brute force, and his front door was a two-door system that he could employ like an airlock if he wanted to, controlling access.

He wasn't a scholar, he knew, but neither was he stupid.  He kept his business secure, and it did him well.  He--

His head came up sharply at the sound of gunfire -- close, on the street, and it sounded like it was right outside.  He--

What he did was duck, yelling, as a body came sailing over the waist-high bollards and crashed violently through the window, plowing right into a display of guitars, both acoustic and electric.  The display went down with a discordant twang of splintering wood and snapping strings, and the figure -- a man, no a freaking costume -- came to rest in a pile of broken instruments, broken glass, and not a small amount of blood.

Incredibly, despite the succession of painful impacts, he seemed to be trying to rise.

Great.  One of Freedom City's cape wars had decided to crash his shop.  There went his goddamn insurance rates again....

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Glamazon stepped over the broken glass.  Running to the pile of broken instruments.  Glamazon figured the store damage was probably going to be fixed by Doc Metropolis. She wasn't entirely sure how that tulpa worked.  But, fixing broken property damage was her understanding.  The equipment would be another payment for her family to take care of later.  None of that mattered.

What did matter was she whipped too much strength on the jerk.  "Wake up.  Gods, please wake up."  Thaelia desperately called out into the instruments. Hoping that he was made of as tough of stuff as his mouth.  The worrying amount of blood doing nothing to ease that concern.  The apes fading out from her mind at the seriousness of her mistake.  

Thaelia began to stiffen almost hyperventelate with concern.

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Head swimming, ears ringing, body feeling like he'd just been run down by a speeding semi, Wildcat realized his thoughts were still a little fuzzy even as he struggled and lurched to regain his feet.  There were sharp little pains all down his left side, and his face felt...odd, one half of his entire head tight and hot, and pounding in time with his pulse.  He waggled his jaw gently, hissing softly at the sensations that movement evoked.

He became aware that someone was looming, and yammering, and it was making his head hurt even worse.  It--

It clicked, that the yammerer was Glamazon.  Who had just reacted to his telling her to clear out for her own safety by cold-cocking him in the face, and...apparently into a pawn shop.  His eyes came into focus, mostly, for the first time since he'd been forcibly ejected from the street outside.

With a bestial snarl, he hammered both fists into her as hard as he could.  Attack him, would she?  She may be strong, she may be tough, but he was fast and he was going to show her that no punk schoolkid was going to push him around on his own turf, not even a royal inhuman one.

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Thaelia stood still while she was punched directly in the face.  Physically she didn't acknowledge the blow.  Not budged, and clearly not injured either.  She would give him the one as a free pass, considering what she just did to him.   Instead of anger she breathed a sight of relief.  Her fear for his condition subsiding as he showed signs of life.  "Oh, thank the gods!  If you are well enough to punch, your injuries must not be serious.  I ask a thousand pardons my intention was not to .  I simply lost my temper when you belittled me and that was unbecoming.  With little time to act...no I should have ran in front of you there is no excuse"

The Atlantean stretched out her arms to attempt to happily embrace the man who just hit her.  Though he could move out of the way with complete ease as she was making no attempts to quickly latch on for fear of accidentally exacerbating what damage she had caused. 

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The shock of hitting such an unexpectedly unyielding target jolted Wildcat from his rage -- he had dented steel with a punch like that before, and he hadn't even rocked her on her heels?  He was so taken aback, and still in pain from his battering, that he let his guard down and--

...was wrapped up in a hug?

A hug?

Her words belatedly penetrated his fuzzed brain, and he got the gist of what she was saying.  All of this, that incredible blow, her unyielding resistance, it was...pretty much an accident, a moment of immediately-regretted ill-temper?

He was that much of a nothing, compared to her?

"...if you do not let me go, I am going to bite you," he growled in her ear, trembling with a combination of pain and outrage.  Apparently even high school girls were more than a match for him -- what was he even doing?  He just couldn't handle this right now....

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"You are correct.  We have no time for pleasantries.  The gorilla fiends have escaped.  As warriors we cannot allow such an injustice to go unpunished."  Thaelia promptly let go of Wildcat..  Misunderstanding the cause for his outrage.  Injured or not, she couldn't imagine a hero not wanting to punch a bad guy in the face when came time.  Well there was Sam, but  thieves had a different sense of pride the Atlantean reckoned.

A realization hitting shortly after.  "I...do not know where to find them."  And it was true.  She didn't know where they had gone.  It was possible to engage in a ritual to scry for the gang.  But, that would take hours of preparation.  Hours she didn't want to give them.  It was after all a school night.  "Ideas?"

Thaelia hoped the animal themed costume meant he was some sort of genius with a utility belt.  Even if those tended to be bird themed.  Because at the rate they were going she could really use some sort of good news.  Failure to prevent a robbery.  Public alteraction with another hero.  And massive property damage.  The headmaster will not be pleased...

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Wildcat staggered a bit when he was abruptly released -- he hadn't realized how much support this crazy schoolgirl had been giving him.  And he wasn't at all pleased when the next stop on that train of thought was that she had been holding him up after knocking him down.  His ego had already taken quite the beating, it didn't really need ongoing bruising.

"Normally, I'd just follow the stink of ape," he muttered, crunching across broken glass as he limped out of the store, stepping over the glass-studded windowsill even as the shop owner poked his head up over the counter to survey the wreckage of his place of business.  "But they were getting into black SUVs, and that sort of thing is a lot harder to single out."  He had no idea where his boomerang had ended up, and quite frankly at the moment he didn't much care.

"I guess the question is, if you were a smarter-than-normal giant monkey who had just robbed a convenience store, where would you be holed up?" he demanded of Glamazon, a touch sardonically.  He would be very, very surprised if she could put herself in the place of a jumped-up animal.

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Glamazon had no idea where a gang of intelligent apes would hide out.  "A tree?  Apes enjoy trees I believe."  They didn't.  With their mass Gorillas in nature preferred to stay on ground level only really climbing in the pursuit of food.  In fact their weight likely meant both vehicles had to have been custom made to support the weight of so many gorillas.  None factors the princess would consider.

Ignorance didn't mean she was completely incapable of making a connection with the intelligent apes.  Or at least, she was capable of piecing together something incredibly basic.  "No, they would wish to be somewhere they do not stand out.  Somewhere the humans would not take note of gorillas walking around.  Talking gorillas stand out.  Perhaps somewhere, without easy access to food.  Explaining why they were eager to steal fruit."

Or the thieves were just gluttons.  Which was a possibility too.  "A hidden lair in the rail yard?"

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Despite himself, Wildcat nodded.  That made sense.

"Rail yard, vacant warehouse, abandoned factory, anything that's not going to have people around and they can have some privacy," he agreed.  "Unfortunately," he added, and swept an arm to take in the immediate environs of Greenbank.  Those options, as it happened, made up a not insignificant portion of the neighbourhood.

"Still, they probably didn't come too far to rob a convenience store," he went on, glancing back at the shop.  "They didn't seem to strike me as master planning monkeys or anything."  Case in point -- they went after a mom-and-pop corner store, rather than hitting the pawn shop halfway down the street.

Moving creakily and with little of his usual grace, he made his way over to where the SUVs had been sitting before he had been bitch-slapped through a window.  Not caring how it looked, he dropped to his hands and knees and scented the street carefully, seeing if he could isolate a particular scent from the vehicles that would let him follow their route.

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GM

Wildcat led the pair through the streets of the Fens.  Fighting a concussion and the various mechanical smells of Fens made for an extended trek.  Once in the Rail Yards they were repeatedly treated to the drab sight of warehouse after warehouse.  Some of potentially ill repute.  But, none that Wildcat's nose latched on to.

That was until they came near an abandoned automobile factory.  The signs were worn.  The fence around the facility practically a standing tribute to tetanus.  Parked outside the factory were the two familiar SUVs.  Accompanied by four others.  There were various other vehicles in sight that looked as if they hadn't seen any use in decades.  Whatever led to the factory's shutting down was bad enough that people left their vehicles behind.

It wasn't exactly a stronghold.  There were no roaving guards or cameras.  But six SUVs potentially held a lot of gorilla gangsters inside.

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"There is more than one."  Glamazon whispered stating the obvious in reference to the various structures around them.  The assembly plant had a number of barely held together brick and mortar buildings.  The largest one seemed to be in the best condition.  None that had escaped the ravages of time.  

The Atlantean did not exactly find the location an ideal fortification.  Not that she knew anything about automobiles.  Let alone the factories that made them.  But, at the very least one would want a building that didn't have the risk of collapsing on everyone inside.  "If I charge in through the wall, I cannot guarantee any of the buildings will not collapse."

What Thaelia lacked in knowledge about factories she made up for in the ability to destroy those very buildings.

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Wildcat put a hand to his head for a moment to steady himself.  The throbbing contained within his skull, as well as the various other battered parts of his body, was more than a little distracting, but no moreso than the tingling he was feeling in his extremities.  He'd been getting little bursts of that on occasion ever since the encounter at the water processing plant, and he wasn't quite sure what to make of it.  At least he wasn't feeling too bruised any more, just...battered.

"Well, it's good to know that we won't have much difficulty if we decided to bring the buildings down," he replied, struggling to keep sarcasm out of his voice.  "Let's take a sec to check out the cars; see if they're rentals, or stolen, or what.  I don't know who'd rent to a gorilla, and it'd be pretty impressive to find a bunch of matching SUVs that could handle the weight involved, so I'm pretty curious about the 'or what'."  Moving quietly and trying to keep the vehicles between himself and most of the buildings, he approached the convoy to give the vehicles a once-over, looking for rental tags, dealer stickers, or anything else that might provide some useful information.

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GM

The vehicles had no rental tags.  Some of the vehicles had the classic blue license plates, but most had the regular yellow plates.  Although, it should be noted that the yellow ones were aged as well.  None so new as to have been issued within the past decade at the very least.  Which could just have easily been a sign of transfer from an older vehicle eschewing registration fees.

That was assuming the Apes cared enough to worry about car registration.  None of the vehicles seemed to have vehicle registration numbers.  Which begged the question as to how they were driving around without being stopped by the police.  The windows being fully tinted did nothing to aid in looking into figure that out.  If the answer was inside the vehicles to begin with.

The SUVs for the most part looked well maintained.  They practically felt new.  But, looking closely it was easy to tell there were various shades of black in their bodies rather than one uniform color palette all the way through. 

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Wincing at the pain in his battered muscles, Wildcat put his back against the fender of one of the SUVs and slid down to a sitting position against its tire.

"Well, that wasn't a whole lot of help," he observed, gingerly rotating one shoulder.  As bad as he felt, he had the feeling that it should have been worse, considering the force with which he'd been put through the window.  The side of his face still throbbed, but his eye hadn't swelled shut or anything, so that was a bonus.

"They're not a matched set, so nobody's bankrolling them, I'll bet," he commented, glancing up at Glamazon.  "There's a halfway-decent chance that they're stolen, and if not, they've probably been provided for them by someone, most likely for services rendered."  That was certainly a possibility.

"I...guess they could be working for someone, maybe as security," he suggested dubiously.  "Although what might be going on out here that would need monkey muscle, I have no idea.  More likely they're holed up out here on their own, but if all they're doing is knocking over convenience stores..."

He shook his head, wincing at the twinge in his neck.  "It doesn't really make sense.  We need a better idea of who all is here, and what they're doing," he suggested, glancing back to Glamazon again -- this time, speculatively.

"I don't suppose you've been trained in the ancient arts of Atlantian avoidance or anything, by any chance?" he inquired hopefully.  "Sneaking around, remaining unobserved, not knocking down walls, that sort of thing?"

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"Subterfuge is not a strength of mine."  Thaelia shamelessly admitted.  "I tend to rely on my friends for such complicated means of entry.  I prefer brute force."  She could probably take the time to learn how to sneak around.  But, to what aim?  Her abilities in of themselves favored her straightforward method of dealing with obstacles.

When a gentler touch was required.  Well, that was when the princess was fine with delegating such tasks to those more suited.  "If need be I can act as a loud distraction.  Or."  Pausing to pull out a cell phone with a cracked screen.  "I can wait until called upon.  However, I can only promise holding for so long."

Normally, she would have tried to push for charging into the building.  Fists a blazing.  But, with the way the man kept shaking his head and cringing.  The princess felt it perhaps a bit insensitive to try and ask that out of him.  Even moreso to ask him to hang bank and wait.

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Wildcat sucked in a deep breath, then let it out in a shaky sigh.

"All right," he said after a moment, struggling back to his feet again.  "You stay here, I'll go snoop around, see if I can get an idea of numbers, and maybe why they're out here in the first place," he told Glamazon.  "I'll try to stay out of sight and downwind, so hopefully things'll go smooth.  If they don't," -- and he was not at all confident they wouldn't -- "I'll make sure to make enough of a ruckus that you know to come smashing in through the wall like Kool-Aid, all right?"  Too late, he realized that she might have no idea what he meant by 'Kool-Aid' -- frankly, he only knew himself because his dad had told him about it, and that was with the benefit of an American upbringing.

He didn't think they had the same sort of commercials in Atlantis.  If they even had TV at all, for that matter.

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Moving out toward the complex of buildings, Wildcat did indeed keep whatever breezes he could sense flowing from the factory toward himself.  He didn't know if gorillas had any sort of enhanced sense of smell, but he knew that he did, and denying potential information to the enemy while taking advantage of what he could himself was always good tactics.

He moved slowly -- although he was gradually starting to feel better, thankfully -- wending his way through abandoned vehicles and keeping his senses open for signs of trouble.  An exterior staircase of some sort, or even a maintenance walkway at a second-story level, would be a good place to start.  He'd discovered a preference for sleuthing these sorts of buildings from above -- people rarely thought of checking the roof for secure access, and things like skylights were great for observing while remaining unobserved.  He'd have to see what he could find, and go up from there.

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GM

Wildcat easily ascended to the top of a the largest building using what seemed to be a maintenance ladder.  Sneaking his way to the center he was able to look in from the sky lights.  It was an automobile assembly plant.  The machines were well maintained.  Far better than the building itself.  There were crates and grates all over obscuring visibility if one had come in directly from the entrance.

Some apes were sitting on a couch playing video games, rifles sitting at their feet.   Another group, similarly armed, was playing a game of poker on the other side of the floor.  There were some roving guards on sentry duty.  And a last group seemed to be moving assembly equipment into a loading truck, apparently en route to build something.

Tucked away into an office.  Wildcat was able to catch sight of an Ape talking into a phone.  His body language did not make it out to be a pleasant conversation.  It was just anger.  No, the ape almost looked frightened.  Every so often the ape would walk back and forth.  Occasionally disappearing from view inside the office.

From Wildcat's current position he couldn't overhear the conversation.

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Muttering soft curses under his breath that even his exceptionally keen hearing couldn't pick up the monkey man's conversation over the noise of everything else below, Wildcat did a quick count of noses; video gamers, card players, sentries, and warehouse workers.  If the odds against them were overwhelming, it didn't make any sense for just the two of them to crash in and let most of the apes get away.

Trying to orient himself with the layout of the warehouse and the office where the phone call was taking place, he moved across the rooftop to try and find a spot where his mutant hearing could sift out the phone conversation.  Maybe if he -- carefully -- scaled down the side of the building, so he was closer to the window that the office no doubt had....

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