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The Circus is in Town

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The Atlantis Casino
Boardwalk, Freedom City, New Jersey

Tuesday. September, 1, 2015
11:24 PM

Armed Robbery wasn't a new concept to the Freedom City's less than affluent Southside.  In fact the recent string of robberies had a familiar air to them for the past three weeks.  A group of thugs in gladiator clothing had been showing up throughout the area.  Assaulting various civilians, robbing, and outright vandalism.  Despite the public nature of their crimes the police had found no leads in tracking down the assailants.

At least until 30 minutes ago.  When the gladiators very publicly stormed the Atlantis Casino swiftly cutting through the well equipped security team and making their way inside.  News of the attack spread quickly on every local media outlet.  Police cars surrounded the entrance of the establishment.  The flashing red and blue lights illuminating the street.  A burgeoning crowd looking on in horror.  With the FCPD trying their best to keep the civilians back as far as they could to no avail..

Out of direct sight from the commotion below, Foreshadow and Echo were looking down from the roof of a nearby Luxury hotel.

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"If this were any other city in the world," Echo said thoughtfully, squatting on her heels on the edge of the rooftop,  "I would say this is something you don't see every day. But hell! This if FC! A day where gladiators don't take over the casino is a day wasted, dammit!" She looked at the gaudy neon sign thoughtfully. "I wonder if they misread the sign. Like, they were trying to take over Atlantis, but they got the Atlantis Casino instead. Or maybe they're a novelty act gone horribly wrong. Or maybe...no, I've got it! They're actual gladiators sent forward in time by a malfunctioning time machine, and they're trying to get back home, but it turns out that the time machine is coin-operated, so they're cursed to forever play the slot machines until they have enough coins to return to whence they came." She shook her head in a mournful fashion. "Tragic, really. The house always wins. They'll be there to the end of their days, pulling away at levers and getting blitzed off free drinks, never again to know the roar of the blood-lusting crowd or the feel of their blades sinking into the guts of their foe. Unless a waiter gets uppity, I guess."

She sprang to her feet and cracked her knuckles loudly. "Whatever the case, all those asses aren't going to kick themselves. Ready to go be good guys?" she asked, with a glance at her black-clad companion.

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"Roman gladiator themed thugs was Roman Maximus' villain gimmick way back when.  But, he's not idiotic enough to try something like this.  No, he'd try and go out with something that had a modicum of a chance of success.  Could even be robots or museum displays come to life.  I once fought bank furniture that came to life.  Much more embarrassing than your lotus eater casino idea"  Foreshadow openly opined chiming into the guessing game.  Not to mention the fact that last I saw Roman, he was in no condition for any of this.

Foreshadow stepped to the edge of the roof one foot level with the ground the other slightly raised at an angle behind him.  There was nothing quite as relaxing as the view from so high above.  Pulling out his multi purpose escirma sticks, Foreshadow smiled.  "Yeah, I think I can spare some hero time.  Race you inside."  No sooner had he finished speaking, Foreshadow leapt off the roof.  Cape fluttering behind him as adjusted his staves in mid air to its swingline.  Bridging the distance with a rapidly propelled airplane cable.


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Echo blinked. "Bank furniture? Seriously? Was there a supervillain with really oddly specific powers - hey!" Her sentence cut off when Foreshadow jumped off the roof. "Isn't it customary to have a countdown?" she shouted after him. "Cheater!" Some people just have no sense of fair play.

She took a moment to roll her shoulders, stretch, and mentally bribe gravity into looking the other way for a few seconds before crouching, then launching herself skywards in a leap. The wind soared past her ears, whipping her hair wildly as the ground dropped away beneath her. The motion used to make her stomach lurch uncontrollably, but that was no longer the case - whether as a result of becoming accustomed to her powers, or gaining greater mastery over them, she couldn't say.

She reached the apex of her leap and, for the briefest of instants, hung in the air seemingly motionless, before the earth's pull claimed her once more and she fell down towards the roof of the casino. She inverted herself in midair and landed on her palms in an entirely gratuitous display of acrobatics, performing a series of elaborate flips before skidding to a graceful halt, arms extended theatrically out to either side. "Ta-da. So, how do we want to do this? Loud or quiet? Do they have hostages down there?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

Foreshadow made a ten motion with his hands grading the heroine's acrobatic entrance before shrugging at the question posed.  "I think it's safe to say there are hostages.  Normally when it comes to hostages, I prefer quiet.  But, casinos aren't exactly designed to keep anyone other than the house concealed.  I say prepare for loud, unless we can make the opportunity for quiet.  Besides it's always fun to be in the spotlight."  He replied with a wink from behind his domino mask.  Showing that the tail end of the statement may have been more lighthearted than serious.

The police barricade meant no one was going out without attracting attention.  At least no one without powers designed to do as such.  But, if that were the case why make such a flashy entrance?  They could just be idiots.  Have run into plenty of those leap before you look types before.  Expecting a measure of foresight from the opposition may have been asking for too much, when Foreshadow often played things by ear as it were.



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Echo grinned behind her mask. "Now there's something we can agree on. Why would you want to be in the audience when you can be on the stage? Besides," she gestured to herself, "I'm not exactly decked out in urban camo here. 'If you want quiet, you must prepare for loud,' am I right?" Of course, things always seemed to end up being loud anyway, but maybe that was just an inevitable part of life. Death, taxes, the Great Pumpkin, and people shooting at you, those were the true constants of existence. "I guess we'll just have to make sure that they're so busy trying to kill us, they don't have time to threaten the hostages. Oh well. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's making people want to shoot me in the face. Now then -" she rubbed her knuckles in anticipation, "shall we begin?"

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Foreshadow and Echo made their way around the giant statue of Neptune with two frolicking nymphs that poured water into the bowl of the fountain.  The lobby, like the rest of the hotel and casino had a predominantly sea green and blue color scheme.  Gold leaf, marble, shells and gauzy fishing nets brought the faux ancient Greek interior full circle.  The back wall had an oversized aquarium built in.  It didn't take long to realize the lobby had been emptied out and power had been cut from the elevators.

The map of the building's layout showed that the below ground restaurant could be accessed from an escalator or elevator nearby.  It would take either a trek to the other side of the building to reach the gaming rooms.  In between the distance there were various entertainment facilities, convention facilities, shops, and theatres.  There seemed to be two security rooms with camera access.  One near the gaming rooms and another in the nearby restaurant.  For as large and active as a building the casino was, it was eerily quiet.  Even the calypso and island music that was normally played throughout had been cut at some point.

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Echo shuffled her feet as though cold. "Ooh, this is creepy. A casino without corny music is like a circus without terrifying clowns. It's entirely too tasteful. Better find the bad guys and sort this out pronto." With a whumph of displaced air, she was standing in front of the building map. "Seems to me it would make the most sense to head to one of the camera rooms first. 'Course, unless they're amateurs they probably took out the cameras, but it's still worth a shot. If we're lucky, we get a picture of what we're walking into."

After a moment's perusal, she tapped a finger on the closer security room. "Wanna head over to this one and see what we can see?" she said. "Hell, maybe they're even wired into the cameras themselves, in which case this is a chance to get some intel and poke out their eyes while we're at it."

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"Well I prefer to take a woman to dinner before we spy on the neighbors.  It's a good idea, actually.  The restaurant one is just down the escalator like you said.  The gaming room might be closer to more of the money this place stores.  Then again, a lot of casinos cash out the big winners with checks not cash."  Foreshadow responded after walking up behind her.  Not quite able to cross the distance without moving the old fashioned way.  He doubted amateur work was at play.  It was no secret the Mob liked to funnel its funds through the casinos.  So a meta on the security staff wouldn't be out of the question.

But, at the same time.  This attack was way too public.  A good heist would've been more subtle.  Of course, no one ever accused villains who dressed in gladiator clothing to be sound of mind.  At least not with a straight face.  At least there's no blood.  Not keen on hurting the hostages...yet.  

Edited by HG Morrison
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"Go with the restaurant one, I say," Echo said after a moment's consideration. "It's closer, so there's less risk of being spotted. I'd rather not have them sound the alarm before we've seen what we're up against. And like you said, it's in a restaurant, so maybe we can grab some nosh while we're going all Die Hard. Fighting gladiators is sure to be hungry work." She patted her stomach for emphasis. "Don't worry, I eat fast."

Inwardly, beneath her joking exterior, her mind was working in earnest to try to puzzle out what was going on. Crimes like this weren't exactly uncommon in FC, but that was no reason not to take this one seriously. It could be as simple as a gang of gimmicky knuckleheads who had seen Gladiator too many times and seriously hated blackjack, or it really could be as (or more) ludicrous as the guesses she had made outside. The former would be simple to deal with, but if there was something weird going on, things might get complicated fast. Getting a look at their opponents might go a long way towards figuring out what was happening behind the scenes here.

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Heading down the escalator the pair where able to find the nearby security room with ease.  The area was a large circular hallway with nearby elevator access.  The path to the left headed towards the Restaurant.  Immediately to the side of the escalator was the door to the security room.  The door was tucked behind a security booth which no one was manning.  Unfortunately after climbing the booth it didn't take long to find out the door was locked.  Regardless of whether by security or the gladiators, someone had seen fit to keep people out.  Serving the expected function of keeping a security room secure.

The sound of  glass crashing against the floor could unmistakably be heard nearby.  Followed by a varied set of screams.  "It'll be more than fish heads rolling if any of you noisy upstarts try too test their bravery.  Just shut up and sit down.  Won't be long now."  A deep voice commanded.  A demand that seemed to serve its purpose as the screams died down.

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Foreshadow reached into his belt and pulled out his lock release gun.  "Don't you just hate it when there's that one lousy dinner group?  Loud, obnoxious, and worst thing is they hardly ever leave a tip.  Just the worst."  Foreshadow asked Echo in reference to the nearby commotion.  Thank whoever went with pin tumbler locks as opposed to something super crazy like bio-metric locks.  Pushing the gun against  lock, Foreshadow pulled out the small pick as the pins were pushed up by the blade like mechanism at the squeeze of a trigger.  It took less than a minute for the door to unlock.  

"Tempting as it is to run in and knock out whoever is barking orders, this does count as an opportunity for quiet.  Won't stop you if you decide to run in though."  The precognitive investigator calmly explained while resting his hand on the door knob.  Waiting to hear if Echo would rather deal with the restaurant or continue into the security room.  He was ready to work with either option.  But, would have to actually know which option it was he was working with to begin with.

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Echo clenched her fists as she stared in the direction the voice had come from, torn. "That sounds kinda urgent," she said. "But...if we run in half-cocked, we might get somebody killed. Right now it doesn't sound like anyone's in any immediate danger, so," she sighed. "Let's stick with checking out the cameras. We can scope the situation. Then we head over there and introduce Mister Face to Mister Fist. But if it sounds like it's getting worse up there, then screw it, we go in hard and thrash everybody who looks like a Rome cosplayer. Sound good?" She tried not to think about what would happen if they weren't in time. Think, Ellie. Think before you act. Fools rush in to leap without looking where angels hesitate to tread and are lost, or something like that.

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  • 3 weeks later...

"Works for me."   Foreshadow responded before opening the door.  There were no less than twenty monitors in the security room.  15 miniature cameras, 2 large ones, and multiples of varying size.  :All, but one of the feeds appeared active.  After combing through the manuals inside the desks they were able to confirm that said feed belonged to the vault.  The restaurant feed showed that there were two people dressed up as Roman gladiators inside. 


One a woman with a net and trident.  She had auburn hair, with a bronze helmet that obscured a direct look at her face.  Her partner a short wirey looking man appearing to be in his mid forties.  The man was standing on top of a chandeler. It appeared to have been onto the  table below.  Armed with a pugnum shield it was clear that the man was the one barking orders to the hostages earlier.


The hostages were sitting against the walls of the restaurant.  Not a single soul daring to speak.  The restaurant had some sort of pirate theme.  Aquariums filled with fish, chests filled with fake gold, and staff members that could be picked up out of a line up due to their choice of attire.  It may have been a gaudy choice in fine dining, but no one appeared hurt.


The feed of the game floors of the casino were a bit more chaotic.  A single man armed with a gladius was casually walking around.  There bodies of the guards and patrons were scattered everywhere.  Their wounds did not appear fatal, apparently this man was going around and simply knocking out everyone he ran into.  Rewinding the tape revealed that he hadn't actually directly harmed them.  Everyone in the game room harmed themselves through a series of unfortunate accidents.  Such as slipping into a wall, a chair falling out from under them. a wheel flying off the roulette table, and so on and so forth.


"I count three.  Not sure how many are in the vault.  Or if someone can hide themselves from the camera through other means though."

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Echo tapped a finger on her chin thoughtfully as she considered the monitor of the gaming floor. "Weird," she said, indicating the recording of the bizarre string of accidents. "That guy must have some kind of luck-based power, or something like that. Either that, or America's Funniest Home Videos just got a new entry. Going to be interesting if we have to fight him."


She turned her attention to the monitor displaying the feed from the restaurant. "Still, what do you say we go deal with this first? It looks to me like those people are in more immediate danger right now, and they're also nearby. Plus there's two of the bad guys instead of just one, so we can kick one ass each without having to share. And if there are more hiding around here someplace," she shrugged, "then this seems like as good a plan as any for flushing them out."

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"I don't think we'll flush any out.  Unless they're hiding little radios in their discount Spartacus drag."  Foreshadow responded.  "Still, I was about to suggest the same thing myself.  We can take two out at the very least.  And make sure these people have a clear path to the door."


The last luck controller he had the displeasure of contending against was a member of the Crime League.  But that crazy clown didn't really show off in such a flashy display.  Or maybe Wildcard did and Foreshadow didn't quite notice it.  Meaning that one experience didn't really provide anything useful to lean on in case Echo's theory panned out.  A less than comforting thought.  But one that could easily find itself tabled.


Foreshadow began to walk towards the restaurant.  Making sure to keep a close enough distance to his ally so as to not run off ahead or anything.   I guess it's time for flashy then



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"Sounds like it's settled, then. Let's go beat up some bad guys." Echo kept pace beside Foreshadow as they headed for the restaurant, occasionally shooting a wary glance over her shoulder in case there really were more crooks sneaking around here somewhere. She really didn't feel like getting jumped from behind right now. "Maybe we can also find out what made them think knocking over a casino, dressed as gladiators, in a city full of superheroes was a good idea. I mean, dressing up like gladiators pretty much guarantees at least one hero is going to show up. And look, they actually got two. Almost enough to make you feel sorry for them. Almost."

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"Is that the Midnight?"  The man with the shield asked pulling it up to face level.  Not wasting a beat upon Foreshadow and Echo entering the restaurant.


"No, it's the Raven."  The woman countered.


"No, she's a chick.  I think.  "


"Wait, wait I got it.  Arrowhawk!  And she must be his sidekick, Sparrow or something."


"No, that can't be right.  Arrowhawk doesn't have a sidekick."


"Yeah, this happens more than you'd think.  When all the roofhoppers are so averse to posing for a picture coupled with these sort of low rent types not exactly being shining examples of excellence."  Foreshadow whispered while the villains argued.  Clearing his throat and pointing at the clasp of his cape.  "Foreshadow."  He then pointed at the heroine beside him.  "Echo."  And finished it off by pointing at the villains.  "Idiots."


"Ugh, I've heard of you two.  All you capes look the same.  Don't matter, we get bonus points for beating heroes."  The man proudly declared.  The mention of points had the woman press her head against her trident in annoyance.  Refraining from verbalizing her disapproval.  "If you know what's good for you, you'll surrender.  Or one of these hostages gets it."



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"Whoah, whoah, whoah!" Echo raised her hands placatingly. "What's with all the hostility, guys? All we wanted was to do was ask which one of you was Spartacus. But now," she sighed heavily, "you've gone and threatened the hostages. You do know how we have to respond to that, don't you?"


She was moving before she had even finished her sentence, launching herself into the air and swinging her feet around to land a spinning kick right in the face of the man with the shield. "With all the force and feet at our disposal." She landed neatly in a gymnast's pose, and looked up to see what effect her attack had had.


The man stared down at her, apparently thoroughly unimpressed. She had been hoping to see him go flying through the nearest wall.


"Uh..." she chuckled weakly. "Heh heh." She looked back at Foreshadow. "Little help?"

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"On it."  Foreshadow put the pedal to the medal in closing the distance.  Starting off with a cartwheel he closed the distance with two back tucks.  Ending up with his back facing the man holding the shield.  "You really have to try the lobster bisque if you're ever here when it's not being robbed by idiots playing Spartacus."  Foreshadow told Echo, seemingly ignoring the very large man holding the very painful looking pugnum.


The shield wearing gladiator lunged forward, attempting to slam the shield into Foreshadow.  Who was already in the process of flipping clear overhead.  Foreshadow then kicked the gladiator themed thief in his rear.  Using his opponent's own momentum to push him forward, and in the process giving Echo as clear of a shot as Foreshadow could possibly provide.  At least while so distracted.  "Batter up."

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Echo cocked a fist back. "Swing and..." She let loose with a hyperaccelerated flurry of hammering blows into his torso, trying not to let her increasingly-bruised knuckles discourage her. Geezus, this shield-wielding yutz is tough. She finished by bringing her knee up and slamming it into his groin. "Two strikes, two balls! The crowd goes wild!" Launching herself back in a graceful flip, she vanished with a whumph and reappeared standing upside-down on the ceiling. "Hey! You people!" she shouted at the hostages lined up against the walls. "Get out here, run! There's about to be a lot of asses getting kicked in here, and it's probably best if they aren't yours!"

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  • 2 weeks later...



"Do you think you're the only one with powers here sweetheart?"  The female gladiator called out to Echo.  Pulling back on her arm she threw her trident with pinpoint accuracy.  "Only asses getting kicked is yours.  Because Longshot never misses."  The confident declaration was a sign of how distracted the woman was as the hostages had nothing stopping them from beginning to file out of the restaurant en masse.


"Youse guys are about to learn that Big Rig is the toughest there is."  The balding man with a pugnum stated before running to the opposite end of the room.  Before Foreshadow could react, the man had already crossed the distance.  Striking the precognitive acrobat in the center of his chest with what appeared to be the rounded center of his shield.  The blow sent Foreshadow flying back a good distance knocking him off his feet.

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  • 2 months later...

Echo dodged to the side a second too late - the trident flashed by, grazing her shoulder, leaving a shallow red scratch that stood out sharply from the blue of her suit. "Ow!" It seemed like a superficial wound, though - she didn't feel like she was about to bleed to death. "Huh," she said, flexing her arm experimentally. "So Longshot never misses, but she never does any real damage either. Might wanna rethink your strategy there, lady."


With another whumph, she was behind Big Rig. "Take me, for example!" She unleashed another dozen blows into the small of his back, her knuckles stinging with every impact. "My strategy is to keep whumping around you two chuckleheads, smacking you senseless, until you both go to sleep! Then you wake up in jail and I win! Flawless tactics!"

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