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A few minutes away from FCPD Precinct 13
West End Freedom City, New Jersey

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

6:00 PM

 

It was a cool, wintry night fast approaching the end of the month.  Despite the old joke about police officers handing out more tickets near the closing off the month to meet some sort of quota the local police station in the West End had not seen a noted increase in traffic.  In fact, the night was so quiet it was hard to miss the expression on a young Japanese woman's face as she exited Precinct 13.  Pure dissatisfaction, clearly still distraught over whatever occurred in her meeting.  In fact, her exit seemed to attract the attention of two heavily tattooed men who made no effort to hide the fact that they were following her.

 

The woman appeared to be in her late teens with a fair complexion that felt right at home in the winter.  Her long, straight, brunette hair almost blended into the leather jacket she was using to keep warm.  A jacket that was apparently a size or two too large for her frame, indicating that it belonged to someone else.  Her pursuers had bright green hair, and tattoos that showed affiliation to some small time local gang.

 

She sped off to try and shake her pursuers.  Unfortunately, they were quicker than her.  Manhandling with ease they pushed the woman into an alleyway were there were two more men waiting.  Only these men were each holding a sword in each hand.  As if prepared for her arrival, they each tossed one of their swords to the men who pushed the woman inside of the alleyway.

 

 

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"Oh hey, so this is where the local BWEA is meeting these days?" The almost melodic voice rang out overhead, breaking the tense silence a moment before a figure dropped down from the nearby fire escape, silhouette obscured by the coat flaring out around him. Landing just behind the two men further into the alleyway, the masked mad stood up to his full height and spread his hands. "You know, the Bladed Weapons Enthusiasts Association? No? Don't tell me you were thinking about actually using those on this nice young lady!" His tone was dripping with exaggerated surprise as with a flourish fire leapt to his fingertips and coalesced into a red-orange rapier of dancing flame. The light from the sword illuminated the royal blue bandanna mask and reflected off of teeth exposed by a dangerous smile. "Because I just don't see that going well for you at all."

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"I'm going to have to give him props for making the cool entrance.  I was going to pop out from behind that dumpster.  Lacks style I admit, but I was going for imposing.  Tell me, aren't you just the littlest bit imposed?"  Another voice taunted.  Foreshadow walked up from the street.  His face obscured by the combination of his hood and domino mask. The lenses of his mask reflected under the gaze of the moon made it appear as if a set of glowing eyes were staring back at the men furthest from the alley.

 

"I'd listen to him though, his sword looks bigger than yours."  Foreshadow added while tapping his boot on the ground impatiently.  "And seriously who uses a sword to mug people?  If there's four of you, it's called overcompensating boys."

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GM

 

The men didn't answer the warning given by the charming swashbuckler.  At least not verbally.  Instead of hesitating at the realization they were flanked each half the muggers broke off in an attempt to try and take down the heroes.  One of the men lunged for the roguishly handsome swordsman who easily sidestepped the attack.  Which was exactly what they had planned setting him on course with the other sword wielding mugger who was in the process of leaping off the wall to try and use the fall's momentum to drive the blade into Jack's head from an unexpected angle.

 

Outside of the entrance to the alleyway the other two muggers surrounded Foreshadow.  One slid the blade of his katana against the ground attempting to cut Foreshadow from below.  At the same time his partner lunged the tip of his blade towards the prescient acrobat's abdomen in an attempt to eviscerate him.  Foreshadow, quickly responded to the simultaneous assault.  Pushing his boot against the side of the blade to force it towards the ground whilst bending out of the other blade with lithe movement.

 

The young woman who was being assaulted appeared terrified.  Yet, she too did not so much as let out a yip.  Pressing her back against the cold wall of the alleyway while swords were swung violently around.

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Foreshadow jut his right hand forward and forcing a knifehand strike directly into the throat of the mugger in front of him.  Leaning back right after he slammed the back of his head into the man behind him whose katana was still held down by Foreshadow's boot.  Forcing the mugger to stagger back and relaxing his grip.  The other mugger attempted to use this as an opening to swing his blade towards Foreshadow once more. But, Foreshadow had already stepped forward before the man could even begin his swing.  Positioning himself to slip to the left side and strike the mugger's hand to cut off the movement.  The precognitive investigator simultaneously shifted his weight to allow his right hand to uppercut the mugger directly in the stomach. 

 

Pivoting halfway around, Foreshadow finished off the other mugger with a well placed elbow directly to the side of his jaw.  Wiping his hands as the second man fell.  Whispering under his breath,  "I foresee expensive medical bills in your future."

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Until the very last moment it looked as if the leaping swordsman had caught Jack unaware until suddenly his own weapon snapped upward in an instant, parrying the ambushing strike. With a metallic clang one half of the offending blade clattered to the alley floor, cut clean through by its own momentum and a combination of the fiery sword's intense heat and the impossibly sharp edge the metamagi had chosen to imbue it with for that instant. Jack drove his left elbow backward into his descending attacker's solar plexus, trapping him between the blow and the brick wall, dropping him with a sharp, pained grunt.

 

With a flourish his flickering rapier whipped forward past the other mugger's guard as though he had been standing still rather than an actively blocking opponent. This time the sword plunged deep into the brigand's chest, protruding out of the shocked man's back. In the heartbeat between sundering the opposing sword and striking against flesh and blood, however, Jack had altered its properties and rather than drawing blood it left only charred marks on the man's clothes and sharp, burning pain that dropped him to his knees as quickly as though he had actually been skewered.

 

"Amateur hour," the swashbuckler sighed, evidently disappointed with the poor showing from the fallen thieves. Spinning to face the woman he flashed a grin, "Exciting stuff, right? You okay there?"

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GM

 

The woman placed the fingers of her hand to her lips, the dorsal side facing Jack.  Following up this motion by moving her hand forward towards the man, turning around she repeated the motion to Foreshadow.  Similar to as if she were blowing them each a kiss.  Foreshadow recognized it as the sign for thank you in American Sign Language.  Reaching in to her bag for a moment she pulled out a piece of paper.  Promptly presenting it to the swordsman in front of her expectantly.

 

Quote

Hello officers!  I am Kimiko Hahn.  My roommate went missing this morning.  She never goes anywhere without telling me.  I have tried calling her multiple times today, but she has not answered.  I am worried, her bed doesn't even look as if she came in last night.  Please help me, she is my best friend.

 

The note scribbled on the paper was obviously intended for the police.  The precinct must have turned her away at some point after her entering the station.  Most likely because it hadn't been 24 hours.  Jack didn't need to understand sign language to get the desperation in the young woman's face.

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Jack blinked once at the proffered piece of paper before reading it, frowning a bit as he did. "I think we can rule out your friend just wandering off, yeah," he agreed soberly, looking down at her unconscious attackers. Glancing up he met Kimiko's eyes with a reassuring nod. "Don't worry, we'll find your friend and figure this thing out. I take random stabbings in the neighbourhood pretty personally."

 

Turning to Foreshadow he offered the paper to the other masked man. "Don't think we've met but I appreciate your style, man. You up for hunting down some wannabe ninjas? Guys are like cockroaches, for every one you see there's another dozen hanging out nearby."

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Foreshadow took the paper giving it a once over while responding.  Using the combination of her silence, the thank you sign, and the fact that this note was written down as evidence of potential deafness or muteness he chose to use ASL while answering Jack out loud. "Foreshadow.  Sure, knocking around more goons with weapons too big for their brains sounds good.  We might want to stick her some place safe in the mean time.  Just in case more guys come after her.  Or I guess have someone watch her apartment, I could probably get a favor teleported in, going there will be a good place to start for clues either way."

 

There was also the option of waking one of the guys with swords up.  But, being scary tended to only work on guys without ounces of loyalty or professionalism.  A descritption that may have been more apt had this been an actual mugging.  Rather than the obvious murder attempt it was.

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GM

 

Kimiko Hahn's Apartment
Border of Ashton and West End, Freedom City, New Jersey

 

Kimiko led the heroes to her apartment so that they may begin her investigation.  Sitting on the edge of the West End's primary neighborhood, the area was practically bleeding into Ashton.  The appartments in the area were fairly well-kept, a product of the gentrification that have made Ashton and Grenville ideal locations to live.  Security wasn't anything to write home.  Although guests were required to check in the doorman didn't so much as acknowledge Kimiko or the two men in their heroic attire as they made their way to the elevator.

 

Getting off on the top floor, Kimiko led the way to her penthouse.  Immediately upon entering they were within view of the sunken living room.  Two large sofas sat opposite a large home entertainment system.  A bonsai tree sitting on a coffee table separated the large sofas.  A decorative onyx chest sat in the corner of the room directly under a French watercolor painting of a cityfront view of the Rhine River.

 

Kimiko explained (in ASL which was subsequently translated by Foreshadow to Jack of All Blades) that the apartment was a three bedroom apartment with neither tenant taking the master bedroom.  There were two full sized bathrooms, a kitchen with separate dining room, a large spare room filled with her roommate's exercise equipment, and a den. She pointed the way to the spare room, bathrooms, and her roomate's bedroom.  Hopeful they could find some sort clue inside.

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"Nice place," Jack complimented reflexively as he slowly paced through the apartment, half looking for clues and half paying attention to the other two people inside with him. He wasn't sure yet if Kimiko really didn't know what was going on or if there was something she was trying to hide from them and he was hoping that this Foreshadow guy was a little more of a detective than he was.

 

Naturally he gravitated toward the workout room, inspecting it with the expertise of someone who'd spent far more time than normal around such equipment. The training dummy was no stationary target but rather swung back and forth as it was struck. That wasn't the hallmark of a young woman looking for an engaging way to stay in shape; Kimiko's roommate had been expecting to face actual opponents at some point. "What does your roommate do again?" He next noted the script written over the watercolour but couldn't read it himself. "And hey, what's that say?" he asked the apartment's resident conversationally, his faint smile reassuring and calm despite the strangeness of the situation.

 

As he turned back to look at the ornate chest something else caught his eye, a subtle gleam like the momentary flash of a concealed dagger in the folds of a coat sleeve. Quickly stepping forward he stooped over potted bonsai tree and scraped into the dirt with one gloved finger. He came out with a small key that would have been easy for any burglar to overlook. "Now we're getting somewhere."

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Foreshadow made a beeline for the roommate's room.  Trusting Jack to investigate the common area.  His eye drifting to the workout room along the way, spotting what appeared to be a strange looking fan.  The room was near enough that everyone remained within earshot of one another. All of Kimiko's responses were written on a small dry erase board expediently.  The first of which was the response to what her roommate did.  

 

"I am not positive but I believe, she works in security.  Although, I don't think she does anything illegal, she's very private.  The other day I found a paper with this symbol on it.  She usually hides her work paper before I can "  Kimiko went on to draw a pentagon made up of the number four in Japanese in each of the 5 points.  "It's strange though, four means death in Japanese and Kimiyo is very traditional.  I work in the library. I'm used to picking up papers left on the ground, I don't steal her things."  Kimiko hastily clarified.  

 

Security and a Librarian's salary shouldn't cover the rent on a place like this.  Foreshadow pondered to himself.  Perhaps a bit too used to working under a team that had a mental relay active while they were on the field he didn't actually vocalize the question.  Finding a poorly hidden laptop underneath the woman's pillow. He promptly opened and began searching through its contents for any files recently opened that looked somewhat questionable.  Or at least relevant to the current situation.

 

 "To serve is duty, duty is Samurai, Samurai is immortality". Kimiko wrote as an answer to Jack's question about the written phrase. To be more accurate it was James Clavell's paraphrasing of Bushido.  In his famous 1990s bestseller.  A book that came out well after the painting must have been made.

 

"At the very least there aren't any signs of a break in."  Foreshadow called out to the living room. Seeing as he couldn't hear Kimiko's half of the conversation out there, he felt the need to fill up the silence with his own voice.   "If someone nabbed her roommate it probably wasn't here."

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"Agreed," Jack replied distractedly, his attention turning back to the watercolour and its additions. When martial philosophies started talking about immortality it tended to be a bit of a red flag in his experience but there was something else nagging at him, prompting him to step closer. "Do you hear that? Like plucked strings in steel grey-- oh, there we go." Reaching out, he rubbed the newer ink with a gloved thumb and forefinger and bizarrely it began to peel away, leaving the painting underneath untouched. After a moment's work he held the result in his hand, reshaped into something resembling a business card with the now familiar symbol on one side and a phone number on the other. "Magic," he explained without getting into the specifics of how he'd noticed the lingering spellwork. "Kind of a showy way to leave your contact info, huh? Think we can guarantee this is masks and tights business at this point."

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Foreshadow exited to the living room with the roommate's laptop held tightly.  "So tall, dark, and handsome.  Weirdest thing.  Our missing woman seems to have been looking into the fact that this small time Japanese biker gang is funded by a large Yakuza group.  I mean we're talking illegally acquired bank records.  The sort of stuff that and IRS Special agent would dream of.  They've been shipping cargo back and forth from here to California."

 

If he was to take a guess.  It'd be the opening signs of an attempt to muscle in on the Big Al's territory.  More optimistically, it was a sign of them simply trying to operate under the radar.  The only thing he felt confident in ruling out was the idea that the criminal organizations were working together.  "Doesn't exactly answer where she is though."

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GM

 

Suddenly and without warning, the door to the apartment swung open.  Three young men wearing red biker jackets and helmets each holding an automatic rifle scanned the room.  And immediately proceeded to begin spraying the room.  Jack of All Blades and Foreshadow were quick to get to cover.  Pulling Kimiko down to safety as well.

 

Foreshadow's precognitive senses alerted him to the the fact that more gunmen were making their way up the stairs.  The helmeted bikers made no attempt to communicate with one another.  Instead they kept shooting into the room.  Apparently content with mayhem.  Sending a violent message riddled in bullets.

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Crouched behind the couch, Jack winced involuntarily at the sound of furniture and decor being torn apart by the hail of bullets. He looked over to where Foreshadow had pulled Kimiko out of the direct line of fire and motioned for the other hero to stay put with the civilian for the time being. "Been a while since I got a chance to articulate my feelings on indiscriminate fire where people live," he mused darkly, the comment largely lost beneath the deafening sound. Flicking open his lighter he drew a line of fire in the air that coalesced into a smouldering rapier even as he launched himself parallel to the floor and toward the wall.

 

Kicking off the swordsman spun himself into the air, royal blue greatcoat flaring out as he flipped nearly upside down. The gunmen jerked their weapons upward as he appeared, giving the coat a few new perforations but in an instant Jack was upon them, diving sword first into their midst. The first rifle was reduced to glowing slag metal before they could adjust their aim again while an uppercut from Jack's left hand caught its owner under the can and beneath his helmet, lifting him briefly off of his feet. The swashbuckler turned his momentum into a full body check that slammed the remaining intruder into the opposite wall, rifle clattering from his hands. A pair of snap kicks to his sternum left him a groaning pile as well.

 

"What do you figure the chances are these are the only two?" Jack asked in the silence that followed.

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Foreshadow whistled impressed with Jack's movements, not that he stood up to watch the swashbuckling hero in action.  Of course, the prescient acrobat didn't actually need to have his eyes on on the scene to see what was going on.  His precognitive spatial awareness already laid out the tapestry being spun for his mind.  It's also why he knew the answer to Jack of All Blades' question.

 

"Unfortunately, I don't think we're going to be so lucky.  Ninjas in an alleyway, then thugs with guns.  Even if the first guys didn't spill the beans on who kicked their butts.  You don't do something this public unless you really want to remove a piece out of play.  There's probably more guys on their way up."  

 

Fifty or sixty to ballpark it.  Kimiko clutched onto Foreshadow tightly as the pair rose up from behind the bullet ridden upholstery.  The smell of gunpowder still lingering in the air only adding to the woman's anxiety.  "Well if more people have showed up, we'd be rude hosts if we don't greet all our party guests."

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Jack's reckless grin dimmed as he noted Kimiko's rising anxiousness. A few dozen gunmen didn't worry him as much as it probably should have but he didn't love to odds of one of them getting a lucky shot off at who he assumed to be their real target. "Listen, you're probably not going to like this but I think you better get her out of here and somewhere safe. You're the one who knows sign language, yeah?" he suggested to Foreshadow with a small what-can-you-do shrug. "I'll explain to these guys  in the stairwell that their services aren't required and meet up with you after it's clear." In the confined space where they couldn't bring their greater numbers to bear and with nobody else to worry about he liked his chances.

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"Male dance partners always want to take the lead."  Foreshadow joked.  All the while moving far apart enough from the frightened woman so as to be able to form the signs needed to explain the plan to Kimiko.  Her fear did not visibly alleviate, but the woman also did not raise a protest  "Have fun.  Her and I will settle on a reckless detour.  We're going up."

 

Foreshadow pointed up at the ceiling.   "Race you down."  While punching his way out of a building was the simpler option, Foreshadow couldn't argue against the logic of wanting to keep their civilian in distress safe.  Foreshadow had seen what the other hero could do in flashes thus far, and thus decided to place his trust in Jack.  Besides, the psionic acrobat already had a plan that would still feed his more thrillseeking lean.

 

Magic calling cards and a trained assault force.  Yep, Capes and tights business.

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GM

 

The first wave of helmet wearing thugs made their way up the stairs and into the hallway.  For a moment they stopped in their tracks at the sight of Jack of All Blades.  Whether motivated by fear, surprise, or even excitement no one said.  Instead they each began pulling out weaponry.  Two in the lead pulled out SIG Sauer handguns and began shooting with reckless abandon towards the heroic swashbuckler to no avail.

 

The men behind them rushed past.  They were mostly armed with small knives, with the exception of one flailing about a chigiriki in the air attempting to restrain Jack so the rest could stab him.  But, everywhere they moved inside the cramped confines of the hallway, Jack was one step ahead.    It was at this point they began to scream in Japanese.  It didn't take fluency in Japanese to understand that they were expressing their frustration at the fact that their combined efforts had yet to even so much as scrape the hero blocking their path.

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"It's like you're not happy to see me or something!" Jack called over the roar of gunfire as he shot forward from a crouch, flaming sword lashing out to slice through muzzles close enough to the base for sparks to bite at unprotected trigger fingers. As ruined metal hit the floor he delivered a quick punch to the sternum of the first handgun wielder with his free hand before abruptly flipping backward as the weighted end of the chigiriki whirled overhead. The toe of his boot caught the flail as he spun through the air, redirecting its momentum to connect with the second gunman's jaw. "A guy could get a complex!"

 

Landing back on his feet with his shoulder down the swordsman rushed the intruders stepping into the hallway, sending them tripping backward into each other and forcing them back into the stairwell to the dismayed shouts of their comrades behind them. An upward swipe of his sword scorched through leather, solid enough to leave a mark and send the unlucky knifeman doubling over without doing any permanent harm. Before his shout of pain had finished ringing out Jack was in the air again, spring-boarding off of the man's hunched back and coming down on the man with the chigiriki with a haymaker that sent him over the railing and onto more of the assassins crowding the stairs.

 

Wild fire from half a storey down tried to follow the bounding fencer and instead scored the light fixture overhead, causing it to begin flickering in and out in the windowless confines of the stairwell. In the brief moments of darkness the only illumination came from the licking orange flames in Jack's hand, reflecting off of the whites of his bared teeth before he pounced upon his next target.

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Foreshadow led Kimiko with one hand towards the elevator.  His head never turning once in the direction of the nearby conflict.   His job was the less flashy and safer one of getting out of dodge.  Pressing the down  button, he turned to explain in sign language what his plan was.  'We're going to head down from the top.  Errol Flynn is moving fast enough to.'  The time he took out to spell Errol Flynn was time to long as even the prescient Acrobat was caught off guard as a shot fired when the elevator doors slid open.  No doubt in part because two men came rushing out wildly trying to tackle him against the wall.

 

Well that hurt.  He was lucky in that the armored padding of his uniform took the brunt of the force as it collided with his shoulder.  Lucky in that it still felt as if he crashed shoulder first into a brick wall.  As second shot would soon follow, but Foreshadow was prepared pushing forward the two men holding him against the wall, the collision sent the gunman reeling inside the elevator.  His muzzle left pointing upwards before the trigger was fully pressed redirecting the shot to the ceiling of the elevator.  

 

Their biggest mistake in that moment was taking their eyes off Foreshadow, instead reacting to the shot.  A right uppercut flew out and blasted the gunman who hit him earlier square in the jaw.  Consciousness fading soon after, but not before he caught the sight of the man next to him being kicked on the side of his helmet.  Somehow directly targeting his temple from behind the helmet and sending him into the remaining pair.  One of the remaining men attempted to throw a wild haymaker only for Foreshadow to weave outside of the path of the oncoming fist and retaliate with a lightning quick left hook.  

 

The last helmet wearing thug's fate was the least fortunate.  He charged for Foreshadow who was placing all his weight on his back foot, lead foot slightly raised at an angle.  The master savateur's body practically screaming that a trap was waiting.  A trap the goon was all too willing to fall for before he found Foreshadow's foot being smashed against the front side of his lower thigh, sending him crumpling to the floor.  The goon screamed in pain at least until Kimiko put him out of his misery with a swift kick to the head.

 

"Going down?"  Foreshadow joked having stepped over the fallen bad guys to enter the elevator.  Even taking the time to sign despite the fact that the line was more for his own benefit.

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