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[IC] Kick Off!: Dark Horse

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Friday, August 26th, 2016

Roberta Isles Garden, Claremont Academy, Bayview

8:01 PM

 

 

 

It was the last weekend before school started again. A great time for all those who still wanted to spend a lot of time on Freedom City’s streets to do just so, before the troubles and pains of school would return. Of course, there also was the Kick-Off dance happening at the gym, but not everybody felt like attending that, for one reason or another.

 

Among those deciding to head out was Aleksander Nakani, or, as he was known in costume, Nevermore. In costume was what he was right now. He had been walking towards the garden, it offered a nice and not too obvious exit, preferable to the school’s main entrance in most cases.

 

As he walked, he came by the Zen Garden, currently looking better than it had in a long time, one of the freshmen that had arrived earlier this month had spent a lot of time there. However, as he walked, he noticed something. Something out of the ordinary, something that shouldn’t be as it currently was. The carriage house, something about it was off. As Nevermore moved closer, he realized just what it was. The access to the subbasement. It had been used, broken into. It was not a big trace, only a slight misplacement. But Aleksander had seen these entrances many times, he knew when something was off, even if it only was by an incredibly small amount.

 

While Aleksander was taking a closer look at the entrance, hidden but apparently not hidden enough, it just so happened that Jack Huang Faretti entered through the garden’s entrance up north, quickly spotting Nevermore, in full costume, doing something with the entrance to the subbasement, but from the current distance he could not tell just what the cowl was doing.

Edited by olopi

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Alek had been honestly torn about going to the dance. A large part of him still just flat-out hated large social events, but some of him had been curious. But there had been a few crime surges in some nearby neighborhoods recently, and honestly there were other dances later in the year. Maybe by then he'd be friendly enough with more than, like, two students he could actually enjoy the outing. 

 

Thus, he'd been in costume and trying to slip out. And thus, he'd seen the damaged entrance. Immediately, his spine stiffened. He automatically reached down and pressed a button on his belt, one that ought to send a signal to Callie Summers, warning her there was a major security breach near his location. Then again, if there was jamming nearby, the signal wouldn't get out.

 

"Hm."

 

Before heading down to follow whoever it was, perhaps he should check  for a trail. A few components pulled from his belt and harness later, and the eyes of his cowl glowed blue and purple in alternating patters, and other strange devices on the side of his cowl gave off a soft glow. One of his gauntlets had a palmtop computer strapped to it, and he was carefully typing away on the projected holographic interface, rather distracted and not noticing someone potentially sneaking up on him...

 

After all, there was a crime scene to investigate. 

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Huang ambled along the path past the garden to a much better rendevous than some high school dance.  Well better if one assumes one can evade a lioness goddess of war and justice, which being a teen boy Huang assumed he could.  Pausing as he caught sight of Nevermore in full costume and uncharacteristically in the open.  Opportunities to tweak the nose of the presumed heir to the raven mantel was not something to be given up lightly and there was of course the quiet rivalry of his mentor and Huangs father to take in account.  

 

Ghosting up on silent feet behind the costumed adventurer Huang cleared his throat, "What's that Scooby?  A clue?"  he teased lightly in a whisper still a good few feet back.  Surprise was good joke and all but only a fool spooked a combatant of Nevermores quality from striking range.

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It took just a couple of seconds for Nevermore to be facing Huang, one hand gripping a throwing weapon shaped like a feather, a slight edge to it gleaming in the moonlight. It was stowed just as quickly as the eerily-glowing (even for him) eyes of his cowl regarded the vampire teen with remarkable calm. instead, he gestured toward the subbasement entrance.

 

"We've got intruders. Good ones. Trying to figure out what traces they left. Probably still here. Want to get the drop on them."

 

He turned back and resumed his examination...but left enough room for Huang to join him if he crouched to one side. 

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The traces were minor. The metal panel that would cover and conceal the actual technology behind it didn’t look quite right. It had been tangled with, but first it was more of a gut feeling than anything. Of course, once Alek took a closer look he also managed to see that the hinges were just slightly misaligned. Hardly noticeable, much like the hole on the opposite end of the panel. Incredibly narrow, more like the hole of a fine sieve, blending in with the metal.

 

Opening the panel with legitimate ways, the control pad behind offered a few clues too. The reinforced screws keeping the control panel attached to the computer behind it were just slightly misaligned too, and had less dust on them than the surrounding metal. The same lack of dust was also noticeable on the call elevator button, which would usually trigger a second wave of required identification. However, not a single fingerprint could be seen anywhere.

Edited by olopi

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Huang stared down at the senior examining the not so secret anymore entrance and then longingly to the gate now too far away with a slight sigh as he pulled his phone out ot text Set as to his delay.  Crouching next to Nevermore he murmured in whispered latin to sharpen his perceptions of the mystic realms and examined the door and its electronics.  When it came to a normal B&E Nevermore would have it covered he was confident.  But there were things under the school that were far from mundane.  

 

"So what do we have then?  Student prank dare we hope?"  he inquired with care to keep his voice low falling easily into the growly cadence his father used to use when they played hide and seek.  "Not seeing anything supernatural for what that's worth."  he added with a shrug and smiled wide, "Shall we give chase?  Games afoot and all that?"

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"If this is a 'prank', they've gone too far. The level of skill necessary is worrisome. If this is a prank, it's the sort that ends in fire, tears, and blood, not embarrassing pictures on social media."

 

Nevermore turned off his wristcomp and started typing at the keypad. After a few moments, it beeped, as if to reject his input, before he pressed and held the # key for 10 seconds. After that, it beeped three times, at which point he spoke.

 

"ID: Nevermore. Override Code: Whiskey Whisky Alpha Noble Noble Eight Five Five Zero Zero Zero One Two Niner. Reason: Case Zulu. Repeat, Case Zulu."

 

The system flashed every light and beeped, the door opening in front of them. Nevermore stood, slightly twitching his head, the lenses switching to green. He moved swiftly forward, heading down. He stopped in the threshold and looked back at Huang.

 

"You coming?"

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The door opened like usual, nothing looking out of the ordinary here. Upon the two heroes entering through the doors, lights along the side of the elevator. As soon as it no longer detected anything inside the doorframe, the door closed, and the elevator descended.

 

A short “ding!” once they had reached their destination, and the doors slid open, revealing the cold interior of the subbasement, the lights alongside the wall of the main hallway lighting up. The elevator was located at a crossway, one hallway leading to the subbasement’s living areas – dorms, kitchen and living room. The second one led towards the briefing room, located below the Headmaster’s office, a short walk away. Down the same path were the access ways for the lower floors.

 

Meanwhile, the third let down towards the trophy room, where various goodies, gadgets and trophies were kept, most collected on various student’s missions, ranging from a fossilized dinosaur egg to futuristic alien tech. Looking at the dust on the floor, it looked like whoever had intruded had walked towards the trophy room, less dust on the floor leading that way. It was only a minor amount of displaced dust, most likely caused by the footsteps of just a single person.

Edited by olopi

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Nevermore took his time at the junction, only taking a few steps outside of the elevator before stopping and crouching slightly, one hand unconsciously gathering his cape up for the moment, to prevent extra disturbance of any trace evidence. He scanned each path twice before making any decisions, just to be sure. 

 

His right hand came up and held up a single index finger, before pointing it down the hall toward the trophy room. He spoke, his voice a bare whisper in the air.

 

"One. This way. Very good. Not heavy. Not prank."

 

The short, sharp sentences were likely an effort to preserve as much stealth as he could. The caped and cowled hero of the night, the sidekick with the weight of a legacy on his shoulders, began moving down the hall, his posture just slightly crouched and hunched, his legs and feet moving smoothly and quietly. He was going a bit slower than a normal walk, but not so slow they'd never catch up to...whoever this was.

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Standing carefully behind the more experienced investigator Ouroboros let his eyes travel the halls looking for any further sign of what the intruder might be after.  Trophies of past student victories in the hands of skilled thieves such as these was not likely to end well.  Of course it wasn't that this was all some student hijinks was too much to hope.  "Well at least they're making it interesting."  he hushed before nodding silently for the elder student to lead the way.

 

Following close behind on silent feet sticking to the shadows were able Ouroboros ghosted down the hall eyes glinting with predatory light and a vague smile forming on the corner of his lips.  If one didn't know better it could be surmised he was enjoying this.

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The heroes moved forward, slowly, stealthy enough that even on the metal surface of the floor their steps were silent. They were fairly stealthy, but one thing made not being spotted a lot more difficult: Whenever they moved, so did the lights, using a variety of sensors to only ever light up the areas people were standing in at any time, in this case, the hallway leading towards the Trophy room.

 

They arrived at the final corner after another minute or so of sneaking around, following the tracks in the dust, which led them towards the trophy room. However, just walking around the corner probably was not the best idea, as the sensors would activate the light. And generally speaking, stealth was not easy when you had lights announcing your arrival.

 

As the two men were waiting, there was a noise. A noise that did not fit in with the ambient noise of the subbasement. The noise of footsteps. It was quiet, but still audible. A step. Another one. Coming from further down the hallway, most likely from inside the room.

Edited by olopi

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Nevermore thought for several long moments, having held up his arm in a "wait here" gesture. He stood there, simply listening, for quite a while. Then, he heard the footsteps moving around. With a nod, he began carefully unplugging several deceptively small modules from the side of his cowl, whose material seemed to shift a bit in response, retaining a smooth (albeit slightly slimmer) look after everything was removed. 

 

Once that was done, he pulled another couple of modules out, including one that looked liked the wrist-comp he'd been using earlier. These were plugged into spots on the top of his left gauntlet, smoothly sliding into place and forming a holographic interface whose light was quickly dimmed, being barely visible to Huang. The way that Nevermore seemed to navigate it, though, with numbers, symbols, and letters flying across the screen as one hand furiously typed, it was as bright as day to the taciturn cowled one. 

 

Finally, he seemed to come to an end, and was about to press a final button, before he stopped and considered things. He turned and faced Huang face-on, his lips pressed  together in a thin line. He began making a few obvious, slow pantomiming movements. A "zipped lips" gesture. Pointing to the sensors and the lights, then making a gesture like flipping a lightswitch. One hand, miming someone walking along the "path" of the other one. Pointing to himself, and then at an angle toward the ground, and then to Huang, and an angle toward the ceiling. 

 

Stay quiet. Turning off the lights/sensors. Sneak in. I go low, you go high. Not exactly Navy SEALS tactics, but fairly reasonable. 

 

Nevermore waited for a nod from Huang before turning and resuming his crouch with the wristcomp held up. He put his other hand in the air, all 5 fingers displayed. He slowly counted down to 0.

 

Then he hit the holo-button that would hopefully turn off the lights in the hallway....

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Ouroboros gave a single silent nod of comprehension at the suggested plan.  Stepping back as he embraced his vampiric birthrights the teens form faded into a hazy fog pooling where he once stood.  The thin mist swirled and rose slowly to roil along the ceiling as the dhampir awaited the dimming of the lights that would signal the time to move.  As soon as the lights went out his misty form poured into the room clinging to the high ceiling as he took in the scene below before pooling in the far corner cutting off the likely routes of escape.

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Hacking into The subbasement was not easy. Not easy for most, that was. These codes were the kinds that Alek had dealt with while training under Raven as practice, so turning off the sensors was barely more than routine. A small icon on the interface showed that yes, the sensors had been disabled. Taking the first step was still risky, but when nevermore took a step to the side, into the corridor, the lights stayed offline. Another step then confirmed that yes, the sensors had been properly turned off.

 

The two teens moved swiftly, covering the corridor at a surprisingly fast pace, considering there was no noise from either. Obviously, this was a lot more impressive for Alek, as a cloud of mist making a lot of noise was rather rare. They turned the last corner, into the trophy room. It was a big room, the ceiling a lot higher than in the hallways. The entire room was open, various things on stands and alongside the walls.  It did not take much effort to spot the man, dressed in a long brown coat and wearing a matching feather hat. He stood close to one of the displayed items, holding something glowing in his hand. Jack’s mage sight immediately flared up, whatever it was, it was magical. He seemingly had not spotted them yet, he continued to inspect the item, whatever it was. Even with the glowing, it was not something the two could easily make out from the current distance.

Edited by olopi

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Nevermore took a few moments to contemplate the situation. Then, with quick,practiced movements, he once again began detaching components from his suit, stowing them away, and then pulling more out of his ever-present bevvy of pouches. These went onto his right gauntlet, and seemed to be connecting into the partially-hidden grappling system.

 

After he was finished, Nevermore looked at cloud-Ouroborous, making some quick pantomime-like gestures that indicated he was going to grab whatever it was the man was holding, and that after he did so, his fellow hero of the night should attack to disable. 

 

Nevermore moved around the corner a bit more and raised his left arm, sighting down it as if aiming a gun. He took a few moments, whispered out a breath, and loosed the grapnel. It shot out with even more force and accuracy than usual, and somehow Nevermore seemed to be able to guide it mid-flight with twitches of his arm. It landed perfectly on the glowing object, the grapnel closing around it. 

 

As soon as an indicator lit up on his HUD, Nevermore clenched his fist, causing the grapnel claw to close even more tightly, before yanking back, seeking to retract the cable before whoever this thief was could re-retrieve the stolen item. 

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As the grapnel flew forth to snare the artifact from the would be thief's grasp Ouroboros silently coalesced in the shadows opposite Nevermore.  "That does not belong to you."  the shadowy magus intoned with a haunting echo to his voice as he stepped from the darkened corner and flung out a hand and chanted his incantation, "IN UMBRAA MANUUS HESHEM!"  the words of power echoing darkly from the walls of the high ceilinged vault as he invoked the hidden goddess.  

 

His command drew forth shadowy hands from the ground and pooled shadows along the walls the mass of grasping limbs snaked across the floor and through the air unerringly to ensnare the interloper in their chill grip coming from all directions at once it seemed as they grasped and attempted to restrain the target of their masters wrath closing around the thief as Ouroboros closed his fist.

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The grapnel hit its mark, latching onto whatever the thief had been holding, as he gasped up in surprise. As the grapnel retracted, the light of the object it had grabbed came alongside it. A scroll of some sort, and as Ouroboros could tell, one of magical origin. The scroll landed in Nevermore’s hand, it was, as far as he could tell on first glance, just that. A scroll of paper, what appeared to be a crude drawing of the sun on it, and glowing.

 

Meanwhile, magical hands shot out from the wall, trying to catch and engulf the now scroll-less thief. He followed Ouroboros’ movements, from his transformation to his incantations. He did not move as the spell was cast, and as the hands shot towards him, he weaved his way through the onslaught without problem. His body turned into somewhat of a blur and dodging, a telltale sign of superhuman speed, while also slapping away the incoming hands with few, swift and trained motions, leaving him unaffected by the spell.

Edited by olopi

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"Oh well you're a slippery one aren't you."  Ouroboros grimaced as the speedy hero squirmed free of his mystic grasp.  The element of surprise was largely gone now of course which would not make things easier of course.  "But maybe."  the teen sorcerer murmured thoughtfully.  With a wave of his hand the shadowy limbs faded from view as he drew himself up gathering mystic energies to him as he shaped the spell in his mind.  "The scroll is enchanted."  He called out to his cohort grasping the artifact in question, "As for you."  he turned his focus fully then on the speedy invader.

 

"CUM PROCUL POTEST AEDIFICARE CARCERE!"  The mystic intoned the sorcerous incantation as the energies he gathered to him sprung forth in shimmering walls of blue white power the planes and bars slamming into a glowing eldritch cell where moments before the interloper had stood, "Dui!"  Ouroboros spat as the thief evaded another of his spells. 

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The thief dodged the incoming walls without further problems, once more turning into a blur and simply taking a few steps to the side in short amounts of time. There, he stood, not saying a word, his eyes focused on the two heroes. Just a second later, he was once more just a blur, moving around the entire room. Ouroboros had a strange realization, as this way of movement looked eerily similar to what he himself could do.

 

 

The man stopped at the far wall, as far away from the two as he could get while staying inside the room. There, he waited for just a moment, before pulling something out of a pouch. A scroll, it too was magical, like the one Nevermore had snatched. The thief held it out in front of him, while mumbling something, the words did not quite reach the two heroes. Then, as he finished his incantation, he pulled his arm backwards, as the scroll lit up. It changed form, first just light, then became a crossbow, which the thief was now holding in both his hands.

Edited by olopi

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Nevermore frowned at the crossbow. He'd expected resistance, but he well knew how effective such a weapon could be. He didn't want this man to get a clean shot. He took a moment to stow the scroll, and pull off the boosters for his grapnel. With a few deft hand movements he swapped in a pair of modules that easily slotted into his gauntlets. This particular "combat aid" was quickly becoming one of his favorites. 

 

Finally, in a swirl of cape, he was in front of the would-be-thief, and his hands flashed forward in a barrage of punches, each hit sparking with energy much like a taser. The punches flashed with that energy, seeking to lock up the muscles of the thief even as the strikes themselves would (hopefully) batter his body into submission. 

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"You want to play for keeps then."  Ouroboros growled as the speedy thief summoned his weapon, "We'll play for keeps then."  

 

Magic sparked in his palm as he called forth the elements to strike his foe, "Zuri Burka Ghorummaz."  calling for an arcing bolt of lightning to strike forth from his open palm striking the thief full in the chest and arcing over his body.  Ouroboros was certain the bolt would fell the enemy and revealed a look of shock when the crossbow wielder shook off the worst of the blast to stand defiant in the face of their attacks.  "Tougher than you look."  the dhampir grudgingly admitted and stepped back gathering power for another blast.

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The thief looked only slightly worse for wear, panting a bit but still standing totally upright. His eyes locked on the enemy mage. He didn’t say anything, and once again moved in a blur, at a speed which could still be tracked, but faster than a normal human should be able to. A second later, he came to stop on top of a display case, kneeling, his black and torn cape just slightly off the ground. He quickly flicked the rim of his hat upwards, revealing most of his face. The face of a young man, a variety of fairly deep scars across his cheek and one just barely missing his eye.

 

A bolt of a sickish green colour and glow appeared in his crossbow, as he turned his head to line up a shot. A short *click*, and the bolt made its way towards Ouroboros, faster than he’d anticipated, managing to hit him in the middle of trying to sidestep. However, before actually touching the body, it was struck by the magical forces surrounding the Mage, and simply fell to the floor, where it slowly dissipated, still glowing.

 

 

Just as the bolt left the crossbow, Nevermore could make out another sound. And, just as he tried to figure out what it was, he felt a blunt object making contact with his hood. Fortunately, the hood was armored, to deal with attacks exactly like this. The attack did not hurt much, and Alek turned around to see a clearly feminine figure in a black suit not too different from his, with a few copper details.

 

“I like your armor. Makes you look powerful.  

 

Just then, Alek noticed how she had was holding something in her right hand, bringing it up towards his face, and having just clicked a button. His attention ever-present, he managed to stop the movement by quickly intercepting it with his arm, as a bright flash accompanied by a quiet high-pitched sound appeared from the device, the cone of light shining just slightly past Nevermore’s head.

Edited by olopi

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Nevermore had felt stronger hits from bullets, but it was still surprising. The sudden presence of a second thief was more surprising.

 

"Hm. Two thieves. One set of tracks. Clever."

 

His movements deflecting the high-tech flashbang were smooth and quick; it was simply that the mysterious girl was just as quick as he was. It was odd, suddenly finding yourself clashing with someone so close to you in style and capability. As the flash of light died down, his free arm lashed out and caught the extended limb, about midway down her forearm. He pushed up, and ducked his head as he slide behind her, using his existing grip to twist one arm behind her back, while his other arm whipped around her throat, and he used his position to try and bend her backwards a bit, putting her off-balance in his arms.

 

"You are well trained and equipped. You are very impressive."

 

Well, that's an odd thing to say in this situation, but it's clear the growl is perhaps a touch softer than a moment ago, and the tone seems sincere. For a costumed protector of the night, anyway.

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The second thief was trying to take a step backwards, right as Nevermore managed to grab onto her arm. Responding to his move immediately, she tried to drop onto the ground and roll, in order to trip her adversary instead. Not in time however, as Nevermore slipped behind her. And then, he had her in a full grip, holding her in a position most uncomfortable for her.

 

“You’re impressive too. I have a preference for strong ones, you know?”

 

Her other arm, not twisted behind her back, still had some ability to move. All her movements were restricted, but, hoping she’d distract him, she tried to struggle against the attacked either way. Her arm moved backwards, elbow first, in an attempt to hit some part of Nevermore’s body. She had however, clearly telegraphed her intent, and it took only little effort on the cowl’s part to avoid her attack, by simply shuffling to the side a bit, managing to still hold onto the full grip.

 

“You’ve got a lot of training. Care to show me something more exotic?”

Edited by olopi

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"Great I get Riley with ADHD and this guy gets the flirty femme."  Ouroborus rumbled under his breath as Nevermore grappled with the flirtatious would be thief in more ways than one.

 

Electricity arcing between his palms he sneered at the crossbow wielder, "You think your bolt thrower can save you?"  He growled with menace, "I command the very elements!"  The dhampir Boomed.

 

With a echoing chant he unleashed another arcing blast at the nimble thief, in hindsight perhaps announcing one's intent was not a great move against a supernaturally speedy foe of course.

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