View Full Version : Journal "Shattered." a Mutants and Masterminds Campaign Journal

Kid Jake
2018-11-12, 09:56 PM
I've been wanting to get a new game together for a while now, but none of my regulars can get a handle on their schedules long enough to wrangle one up. Luckily my girlfriend has expressed some interest in learning the hobby, and can be easily pinned down and made to play, so I thought I'd give a M&M solo campaign a try.

For those who enjoyed my last M&M journal: This takes place in the same setting, but shouldn't be considered the sequel we promised since I couldn't even think about advancing that story without the 'stars.' Instead this essentially takes place during the "Two years later..." hand-wave of the epilogue.

Anyway, as always, I hope you enjoy!

Tara Caldwell was a Ventnor girl, born and raised. That didn't used to be something to be proud of, but now it's generally worth mentioning. Twenty-two years old, smart and pretty (despite the occasional ginger joke she had to endure) she had a future once. Once...

She'd spent her short adult life working at the local library and saving for college. She'd watched her city fall apart in the wake of the Ventnor City Bus Hijacking and despite never being a particularly politically motivated individual, attended the mayor's press conference on the recent crime wave the day the world changed...

Not fifteen minutes after it started, armed men swarmed the crowd. They all thought they were dead until HE arrived. Hovering in the sky, glowing like a beacon in the midst of the chaos...a young man not much older than herself; but perhaps the most important figure in recent history... The Fanboy.

Bullets bounced off of him harmlessly. With the wave of a hand he disarmed the mob; with barely a glance he disabled them.

She saw him!

There had been rumors before the press conference, but they were outlandish. Who could believe that a man could fly or stop bullets? But she saw him with her own two eyes! He was undeniably real! A real life super human... A hero!

It wasn't the same world any longer, everybody knew that. The Fanboy proved that the impossible was all too real. So just imagine the pandemonium when it was announced that he wasn't alone. There were others, just as outlandish and that they intended to gather and announce themselves to the world in person. She had to see it. EVERYBODY did.

People flocked from every corner of the globe. Thousands, upon thousands, to the little city of Ventnor; all for the chance of glimpsing the first genuine proof of the fantastic. Tourists quickly outnumbered locals to the latter's dismay.

Still...it was happening. They gathered at the convention hall, as many as could physically fit, and they were not disappointed. The Fanboy appeared just as he said he would. He even signed autographs! But the event was cut short as a creature made of living flame tried to consume them all.

The Fanboy battled it of course. Easily in fact. Even as he shielded them from the creature's attacks with no thought of his own safety. But there was something wrong...some sort of trap that triggered as they were packed inside, filling the convention center with gas.

The last thing she remembered was inhaling a lungful and feeling pain, the likes of which she had never felt before; as though every molecule of her body was attempting to tear itself apart.

Then, mercifully, she blacked out.

Tara opens her eyes with a start. She tries to gasp, but her throat is too parched to manage more than a strained wheeze. It's dark, and she quickly realizes she can't move. Panic begins setting in.

She closes her eyes and fights it down, trying to focus her mind. It's difficult... Her muscles are cramped painfully, her head is ringing, her mouth is gagged and she's apparently laying in her own waste. She tries to move again and realizes that she's bound to the bed frame, hand and foot. She opens her eyes and slows her breathing until she realizes that the room isn't completely dark, a flickering light filters in through the window.

As her eyes adjust it looks as though she's in an everyday bedroom, although she can make out an empty IV bag hanging next to her bed and attached to her arm and her severely bruised wrists are tied with nylon cords. Panic begins to set in again and she struggles against her bonds until it feels like her arms might break.

As she enters pure freakout mode, tears begin to form and she starts to unleash a wordless scream through the fabric in her mouth until with no warning, the window shatters; showering her with shards of glass of all sizes. She manages to avert her face and avoid the worst of the impact, only receiving a few nicks; BUT managing to retrieve a finger length shard and slowly uses it to saw through her bindings.

As she rolls out of bed, her legs scream in protest as though filled with red hot pins and she discovers that she's wearing nothing but a soiled hospital gown and her arms have a number of needle marks. She hobbles to the window and looks out on the shattered remains of an old neighborhood. The buildings across the street are barely standing, the street itself appears shattered and there are fires everywhere.

She realizes she's on the second floor, and that it's unlikely she can make it down from here in her current condition, so she takes a few deep breaths to fight back the tears and begins searching the room for clothes. She finds jeans and a blue sweater in the dresser, and an old pair of sneakers under the bed.

Once dressed, she tries the door handle and to her surprise it can't lock, the door jam apparently having been busted in the past. As she slowly opens the door, she allows her eyes to adjust before creeping down the hallway and stairs before stopping halfway up in shock.

The front door has been torn off its hinges and the living room has been TRASHED. Everything appears smashed to bits and deep claw marks line the floors, walls and even ceiling; more of them than not being of the bloody variety.

This is too much. She doesn't wait for the coast to be clear, she doesn't care what secrets the house might hold, she just wants to be away from it; so she bolts. She runs as fast as she can on unsteady legs, tears of horror streaming down her cheeks.

She has no idea how long she's ran, but when she hears voices she stops. Power seems to be out in the whole city, so she huddles in the ubiquitous darkness and watches as around a dozen people of all ages emerge from a battered building with torches. She watches them for a good while as they seem to divvy up goods they found inside, until she decides they seem like normal enough people, just trying to survive...whatever's happened.

She hobbles towards them, trying in vain to shout to them until one of the group turns and notices her; an older gentleman with a shaggy beard and deep laugh lines. He looks shocked at her obvious injuries and rushes towards her, but stops mid-step and holds up his hands reassuringly as he sees her panic.

"Hey, hey miss. Are you ok? What happened to you?" he asks, his voice warm and concerned.

Tara just shakes her head and manages to croak out "I...I don't know. Somebody..was...holding me."

The man looks disgusted and shouts for his companions to help him out, until a young man shouts "What are you woman?"

She can't pick him out of the crowd but doesn't understand the question. "W-what?"

A chubby, middle aged woman suddenly looks very apprehensive. "Where did he grab you sweetheart? When were you taken? How long ago?"

Tara shakes her head once again. "I...I don't know. I can't remember... I was...I was just at the convention. Fanboy was fighting and...gas. Gas everywhere...." she mutters.

As one, the group looks horrified and for the first time she notices that the kind faced old man has a butcher's knife on his hip, which makes its way into his hand as he screams "Everybody back, she's a sleeper!"

Her eyes dart nervously as the crowd spreads out around her, trying to herd her back the way she came.

"Get out of here you *%&ing monster!" a boy shouts from the crowd. "You won't take us without a fight!" comes a woman's reply, echoed by similar calls from the others.

She reaches out towards the kind faced man, feebly begging for his assistance but quickly stumbles back as he flails his knife in her direction in a blind panic. Though he misses, she gets too close to the middle aged woman, who brings a fire poker down on the back of her head.

Tara falls to the ground with a cry and holds up a hand to protect herself from further abuse. As she does so, she feels as though something inside her pulls and the cars on both sides of the street are suddenly without windows as thousands of tiny shards hurtle in her direction as though caught in a whirlwind.

She tucks her head between her knees and wraps her arms across the back of her neck the best she can. She can feel the glass tearing into her, eating through her clothing and flesh like innumerable jagged teeth; but the raw, searing pain seems almost distant compared to the inhuman wails all around her. It's over in a flash, but the sound echoes in her head long after it's stopped.

She lifts her head to see her would be assailants looking like little more than raw hamburger to her growing horror. Her own arms are freely pouring blood, and a chunk of glass larger than her fist is embedded in her side; but she barely feels them as the shock of the situation saps her strength.

She begins to hobble away, but as she looks back, what little remains of the kind faced man whimpers "Why....?"

She runs. Not sure how, but certain that this is her fault.

It's daylight when she comes to on the bench of a bus stop, her raw arms and punctured side screaming in pain. It's all she can do to avoid crying as she collapses next to a puddle on the sidewalk to lap at muddy rainwater, who knows how old, just to soothe one of her numerous pains.

She's on the verge of simply giving up when she finds a flier for the Ventnor Refugee Center. It doesn't take much investigation to find other signs pointing the way, so with a prayer of thanks she makes her way further into the city.

In the light of day, things don't seem quite as oppressive. There are people milling about, and eventually she even notices a police presence on the street. Groups of three officers in riot gear manning sandbag bunkers every few blocks. Growing increasingly frequent until she finds a force of twenty some at the center itself.

The refugee center is a large tent set up in the park, with armed guards on the perimeter and a line that appears to have no end streaming out of it, along with several attendants handing out simple canned food and bottled water to those waiting to be processed. As a young man comes around to give her water, he notices her wounds and escorts her to an ad hoc first aid tent on the edge of the VRC, but not actually associated with it, where her wounds are dressed and her fluids restored.

After the worst of her wounds have been tended to, a nurse approaches her with forms from the VRC so that she can apply for assistance before being released. She's thankful, until the terms of their assistance are outlined:

-The Ventnor Refugee Center is for citizens of Ventnor only.
-Ventnor City had apparently, conveniently, seceded from the United States of America almost immediately after the last wide scale terrorist attack; seemingly drunk on its own sense of importance for housing the world's only superhumans.
-Ventnor does NOT accept dual citizenship.

Tara reads the terms over and over again before calling the nurse over and asking "So...to get a box of food, I have to RENOUNCE my American citizenship?! What the HELL?!"

The nurse nods her head sadly. "I don't know what's going on, but from what I hear they've cordoned Ventnor off from the states. It's-"

"Idiotic!" Tara says, swaying to her feet. "How dare they?! We have rights!"

The nurse almost looks like she's going to cry as she replies "Not if we want to eat...."

Tara didn't sign. She refused.

At first she couldn't imagine anybody being stupid enough TO sign...but they did. Hundreds of them, maybe thousands, as she sat across the street and just people watched bitterly. If only she could reach the outside world....

She stops herself from drifting off into a daydream, just in time to notice a van stop just outside of the police cordon and two people get out. One, a tall and lanky shirtless fella covered in scars and with a skull and crossbones spray-painted onto his bare chest and the other a tiny woman, maybe 90lbs soaking wet wearing a black shirt the same mark painted on it. As she watches, the two of them attack the police.

She sits up a little straighter in shock. The girl's arms lash out like tentacles, knocking officers off their feet and the shirtless man just starts throwing haymakers that bounce ineffectively off the thick riot gear. It starts out entertaining, but as the officers dogpile the shirtless guy it looks like his punches start gaining steam, until he backhands one of them almost 20ft back and through the solid door of their own car.

At this point the officers realize the danger of the situation and weapons are discharged. The girl doesn't seem to notice as bullets pass harmlessly through her near liquid form and almost every time a bullet catches the shirtless man it's pushed out of his system and replaced with a fresh scar and seems to urge him towards ever greater violence.

As the officers fall back, the van uses this opportunity to push through the police cordon and the liquid girl and shirtless guy lay siege to the refugee center itself; scattering parts of the crowd and inciting the rest to riot.

Tara realizes that this is an opportunity for her and sneaks towards the tent in the confusion. She sees four men dressed similarly to the liquid girl quickly loading boxes into the van as the shirtless man defends their score against the hungry crowd.

In all the confusion, she manages to slip in alongside them and steal two random boxes for herself.

As she's slipping away however, the shirtless man notices what she's done and leaps in her direction with a murderous scream. She leaps to the side in time to witness his bare knuckle cave the area of earth she was just standing in almost six inches.

Briefly Tara's mind goes back to the scene with the mob and she considers trying to unlock whatever power might be hiding inside of her; but she realizes that there's no guarantee she could stop this monster even if she knew what she was doing, so she grips her prize tight and runs for all that she's worth. Not even caring where she goes, just that she goes.

As she looks up, she realizes she's heading directly for the growing mob of police and with horror, she realizes they see her looting just as plain as day. But, as she hears the unintelligible stream of curses from the shirtless man behind her; also realizes looting probably isn't their priority right now and barrels right ahead anyway.

As their guns bark and bullets fly past her into the howling superhuman, she immediately cuts away from the police line and pushes on with everything she has. She glances over her shoulder just in time to see the liquid girl wrapping her arms around her companion shouting "We don't have time for this dammit! Bad Berserker, bad!"

It would almost have been comedic if 'Berserker' didn't immediately afterwards flip a car into the panicking crowd and then throttle a screaming officer pinned beneath.

"Not my problem..." Tara repeats to herself, over and over again. "Not my fault...." she chants...but doesn't really believe.

She didn't stop running until nearly reaching the abandoned neighborhood she had once fled. There's no telling what horrors could have driven out the throngs of people, but she decides that she'd rather risk the silence than the masses.

She finds a fairly nice house, barely damaged. Three bedroom, two bath (not that it matters with the plumbing out) and a basement. Obviously abandoned, but the locks still work.

She finds a room upstairs to call her own and opens up her boxes to see what she's gotten away with: The first is full of food. MREs and water purification tablets. Maybe a months worth. The second is medical supplies. Basic first aid, some antibiotics, etc... Not much, but something.

She runs a hand over her supplies possessively. Not much, but something...

People had died to get her these supplies and she swore she'd make the most of them. She might not have killed them herself, but that does little to lighten her mood. Because they won't last forever and next time?

Next time she might.

2018-11-13, 05:23 PM
It's a new Kid Jake campaign! And it's... much darker than the campaign it's spinning off of? That's the impression I got from this opening journal, at least- though I know from experience that the Sidekick campaign veered from slapstick comedy to being incredibly dark and serious at the drop of a hat, so I can certainly give this one the benefit of the doubt and see what kind of tone it ends up settling on.

Looks like even after everything they did, McCrow and Friends ended up leaving Ventnor City in a worse place than before, at least in the short term. We know already that in the long-term the city eventually manages to find its own weird equilibrium, so I assume this story will be building up to that point, at least in part. Unless Tara's actions end up veering the path of things so far off-course that this campaign becomes its own alternate timeline, or something. It could certainly happen- we've already seen water elementals wearing fedoras; I'm not confident that there's anything else that's off-limits after that.

Kid Jake
2018-11-13, 06:30 PM
Thanks for the input!

By the second session it has slightly more levity (I can't help it, I'm goofy by nature) but it's probably going to stay on the dark side for a bit longer. She'd originally asked me for a unique 'post apocalyptic' style game and it occurred to me that waking up in an overcrowded disaster zone with 10,000 newly minted superhumans drunk on their own power would be pretty damned close to apocalyptic.

My current plan is to put the screws to her for the first few sessions to stress that nobody really knows the rules anymore and then let go of the reigns like I did with the other guys and see what happens.

Hope it entertains in the meanwhile!

Kid Jake
2018-11-14, 11:40 AM
Alright, I just got the second session typed up so I hope you guys enjoy!

Hopefully we'll have our third either this weekend or early next week. Whenever I finish statting a few things up.

After a fitful night's sleep, Tara wakes up and has a quiet breakfast in her squatted living room, enjoying the first rays of sun drifting through the large front windows. It doesn't take long, and once she's done she slides the large couch away from the wall to begin her work.

She kicks a hole in the drywall behind the couch and starts stuffing her stolen supplies into the walls themselves. When she finishes, she slides the couch back into place and tosses the boxes they came in. Her stuff thus stashed for now, save a single first aid kit she stuffs into a found jacket, she takes off for home; hoping it's still there.

The streets are still mostly deserted this far out, but she sees signs of passage everywhere. The closer she gets to her parent's house and her childhoold home, the more blatant the signs of life; including large graffiti which simply reads "Sleepers Keep Out!"

Her mind wanders back to the mob chanting something similar and she shudders, though it soon turns into a full blown panic as she presses on and sees a sign which reads "Last Chance!" on the bruised and battered necks of three people bound to makeshift crosses and propped along the street. The people are so severely beaten and bloody that she can't even make out features at first, but to her surprise one of the men gives a tortured cough as she starts to pass him.

She almost jumps as his swollen eye falls on her and she forces herself to ask him softly "Why are you up there?"

The battered man gives a bitter grin despite his wounds and half slurs "#$%holes wanted my &^%$." with a bloody chuckle.

Glancing around nervously, Tara pushes his cross over and winces as it lands on the sidewalk with a thunderous boom. She quickly cuts him loose and struggles to help him to his feet and into an adjoining alley. The man is ridiculously heavy, and although not a small man by any stretch, seems to easilly weigh twice what he should.

He mutters a tired thanks as she pretty much empties her first aid kit on his wounds and cleans him up somewhat. At first she thinks he has severe breaks throughout his body, because she finds deposits of bone poking through his skin all over; but realizes it's too uniform to be random. They're focused mostly along his arms, knuckles, face and several vitals.

"You're a sleeper too, right?" the man asks. "I mean, why else would you pull me down?"

Tara shakes her head. "I...I don't know what that is."

He laughs again. "How do you not know what that is? Where have you been?"

"Well up until yesterday I was asleep in some..." she trails off before blushing at her own realization. "Oh.."

"Wow...so you've been out for weeks." the man says with a note of admiration. "I was only down for a few days, so I got to see...all of this. I hear the longer you're out, the more juice you wake up with; although I don't know if that's true."

"I don't feel like I've got much juice." Tara admits. "I think I threw some glass at people, but...I don't know how I did it."

"You've only been up a day." the man replies. "It took me a week to start figuring out what I could do. The ones that act like they were born with it...they're the scary ones."

The two of them sit quietly for a few moments, with the man (who identifies himself as Clyde) answering the occasional question about what had happened since she was out. He describes a chemical attack that affected tens of thousands, followed by an earthquake that tore the city apart and a military quarantine of the entire city. He himself was caught in the last attack and woke up in a pile of rubble three days later, half delirious.

He explains, that while there are still more non-powered than powered individuals in the city; there aren't that many more; and because of the vast power difference between them most of the unpowered survivors are panicking and clumping together. He explains that he'd been robbed and beaten by a group of around a dozen a day or two back, his stuff was stolen and he was strung up as a warning to others of his kind to stay out of their territory.

When Tara explains that her parents live out this way he goes quiet.

"I'd like to escort you then, to repay you for fixing me up...but I don't blend in so good; so I'll just say this: If anyone asks if you're a sleeper, you deny it. Tell them that you were hurt in the earthquake and that you've been recovering at the refugee center. You should still be able to pass."

She thanks him for the advice, and suggests that if he'll wait for her that she could take him somewhere relatively safe on her way back. He laughs from his place in the alley and admits that he's not going anywhere.

So she continues onwards, as stealthy as possible, until she finds the home she grew up in. It looks rough, but is still one of the better houses in the neighborhood. It's the middle of the day but few if any people are on the street. She can see lights moving about in the homes themselves, and sees the lights of her parents house heading to the kitchen.

Glancing into the kitchen, she sees her parents safe and sound...but she also sees a pair of armed men with their backs to her.

She fights back her initial reaction and simply listens as intently as possible, barely picking up bits and pieces of the conversation. Apparently the men are from one of the other houses and are speaking to her father about forming a sort of neighborhood watch against sleeper incursions. As her dad agrees and they make plans to start gathering sandbags, she realizes that her presence would only complicate her parents' lives and decides to simply slip off while she has the chance...

She meets up with Clyde on the way back and true to her word she brings him home with her. He seems to be getting a little of his strength back and manages the walk easily enough. They chat about nothing in particular as they walk and she's just happy to have someone to talk to for now.

As they walk into 'home' Tara immediately notices a faint, dirty footprint that wasn't there when she left and informs Clyde that someone's been here. They search the place to no avail, but luckilly it doesn't appear that anything is missing and once they move the couch out of the way she continues dressing his wounds as they eat their fill of MREs.

They move the couch back into position and Tara shows Clyde around. He points out little things here and there that need to be fixed (a new lock included) and tells her that he'll do what he can to help out to try and thank her for all she's done for him. As he's surveying the damage to the basement, he asks if she has a tape measure and she responds that she thought she saw one in the living room. She runs upstairs to check as he keeps poking around.

She finds what she needs quickly enough, but as she starts to turn back she notices that he couch is just slightly pulled away from the wall. Not much, but just enough for someone to slide behind it. Her blood freezes as she slowly inches towards it and grabs a vase on the way. As she peers over the couch, she sees nothing, but notices a small pile of MREs on the floor. After a moment another one seems to slide itself out of the wall and she instinctively calls out "Hey!"

This is followed by a man shaped figure (the color of the floor) scurrying up the wall to hide in the corner. It sounds like the figure is chanting a prayer or spell of some kind.

She drops the vase and tries to focus on the shards that make it up, causing a handful of dagger sized pieces of glass to swirl around her lazily. This is met by a shrill, high pitched shriek and the chanting becomes faster. It takes Tara a moment to realize what it is....

"Don'tkillmeIdon'twanttohurtanyoneI'mjustsohungryan d-" the man is blathering like a lunatic.

Clyde explodes into the room as fast as his injuries allow, causing a second shriek and more incomprehensible rambling. "I thought I heard a woman's scream but....yeah..."

"Get off the ceiling and explain yourself!" Tara barks and the man drops into a near fetal position. As his color returns to normal they can make him out a little better. He's short, maybe 5'4'' and somewhat scrawny. He's just shy of middle-aged and seems to be of asian descent; sporting a shaved head and large, panicked eyes. Also he's naked. Very, very naked.

Tara immediately averts her eyes and mutters "I can't even deal with this bull$#^& right now..." as she rubs her temples.

"Please, I have a family that must eat. The refugee center is burned, but I saw that you had supplies. I wasn't going to take it all, just enough to feed my son!" the chameleon man stammers out.

"So you're a thief!?" Tara shouts.

"In all fairness...you stole it first." the man explains. "Please, I watched you carry them away. I only need three or four packets of food and I can stretch them out for him..."

Tara scoffs. "But why did you come after MY stash?!"

The man looks terrified still. "Because, with all due respect, you seemed less scary than the other looters... But...I'm kinda re-ranking your scariness now... I'm sorry! Please, just let me go and I won't come back!"

Tara watches him for a moment, looking for a sign of dishonesty; but eventually relaxes. "Bring your family here; I have enough for now to share."

"R-really?" the man responds.

Tara nods. "This offer is only good for the next hour and if you don't return with your family, you get nothing."

The chameleon guy thanks Tara and Clyde several times before retrieving his pants from a nearby bush and sprinting down the street.

Within forty minutes he returns with a caucasian woman with dark hair who is carrying their son who looks to be around eight years old.

Introductions are officially made. The chameleon guy is named Dennis Chen, his wife is Karen and his son is Samson or Sam for short. Tara gives them a portion of her supplies and invites them to stay the night and they spend the next few hours in idle conversation.

It's nearing midnight when Dennis draws Tara and Clyde aside for a conversation while his femily sleep curled up in the living room. He once again thanks Tara for her hospitality and explains that as bad as things have gotten out there, a couple days rations is a precious commodity. He then suggests that they make this current arrangement a permanent one and offers to pull his weight if she agrees.

Tara tells him to make his pitch and Dennis explains that he'd noted the hiding places of several groups of survivors and that he knew where a much larger group of looters had settled down. No powers among them as far as he could tell.

Tara looks at him quizzicaly.

"He wants us to be bandits." Clyde scoffs.

"Who knows how much food is even left in Ventnor City." Dennis almost hisses. "The refugee center is gone, burned to the ground and there's already large scale rioting where it stood. If we don't do this, we ALL might starve."

"He's right..." Tara says with a sigh. "Until we hear otherwise, we have to assume that it's US vs THEM."

Clyde looks at her with shock for a moment, but ultimately shrugs. "Your call boss lady. Let's check 'em out..."

By 1am Tara, Clyde and Dennis have set up shop in the wreckage of an abandoned building overlooking what looks to be the beginning of a looter compound. There are six houses more or less facing each other with barbed wire strung between and behind them, except for a single unobstructed entrance. Three of them seem to be in use, the others look like works in progress, but actual honest to goodness lights have been strung up throughout the whole area that highlight the silhouettes of eight sentries stalking the perimeter.

"Sons of bitches have a generator..." Clyde points out greedily.

"We'll take it with us." Tara says coldly.

"Ambitious." Clyde remarks with a grunt.

She sighs and replies "We didn't come out here for second best, did we?"

"Well what's the plan then boss lady?" Clyde asks.

After watching the sentries for another fifteen minutes or so to make sure there aren't more coming, Tara leads her companions to the barbed wire fence and around to the back of the compound; where Dennis starts stripping down.

"What the hell are you doing?" she hisses at the increasingly naked man.

Dennis stops mid-strip and becomes an exaggerated shade of red. "S-sorry! My camoflogue doesn't work with clothes!" he whispers sheepishly.

Tara averts her eyes until he begins blending into the background, meanwhile Clyde clenches his fists and concentrates; forcing the boney deposits on his knuckles to slowly extend and grow together, forming a pair of heavy duty spurs on the backs of his hands. Clyde uses these to tear his way through the fence and miraculously the three of them slip inside the perimeter and to the first inhabited house unseen.

Tara sends Dennis inside for intel and about twenty minutes later the stealthy superhuman returns. He comments that there are four armed men inside and a few boxes of rations. He also reports that the generator is kept in the adjoining garage.

Clyde is in favor of a smash and grab, but Tara wants to know what they're dealing with first and insists they scout the next house over. Except for Dennis, the team isn't particularly stealthy however and they aren't even halfway there before a sentry notices their presence.

"What the f%^# are you people doing over there?" the man shouts, drawing his sidearm and advancing towards them.

The three superhumans glance at each other like deer in the headlights before Clyde shouts back "What the f%&* are YOU doing over there?"

This seems to be the wrong answer, because the man starts shooting.

Everything happens so fast. Dennis runs a serpentine pattern before scurrying up the side of a building and disappearing. Clyde leaps in front of Tara and grits his teeth, forcing even more bone to spread over his exterior, some of it tearing its way through his skin and the rest simply sprouting from his existing deposits. The bone is heavy and dense, covering most of his vulnerable spots like armor.

The first sentry panics upon seeing his transformation and fires, the bullet cracking Clyde's exoskeleton but doing no actual damage.

Tara's adrenaline spikes at the sound of the gunshot and with a wave of her hand a shard of glass as long as her forearm tears itself from the neighboring house and spins towards the sentry with such speed and violence that it almost removes his head entirely.

Three more begin surging towards them, along with movement from the houses on either side of the trapped superhumans. Clyde rushes forward to draw their attention and takes two more shots to his cracking armor for his trouble, the last sentry's shot goes wild and hits a random house.

Tara waves her hand the other direction and the shattered remains of the first shard sweep back the other direction, shredding a second man's face to the bone in some places.

The two remaining sentries grab hold of Clyde and three more arrive, shouldering rifles and aiming at Tara instead.

She shouts "Clyde, cover your face!" and lashes out with everything she has, sending a whirlwind of glass shards in every direction and eliciting screams of pain and terror from the neighborhood. Clyde luckily avoids the worst of it.

"Stop!" a deep voice shouts, "Everybody stop this, please!"

An older man, broad in the shoulders but pale faced, comes around the corner. "Is this senseless bloodshed necessary?! Put down your weapons dammit!" he shouts at his own men before readdressing Tara and Clyde amidst the slick gore that used to be his friends and neighbors. "Why?! Why do this!?"

Tara looks over at the terrified crowd and feels a momentary ping of guilt...but then thinks of Clyde on the cross. Of the mob that nearly did the same to her and her heart hardens. They already assume she's a monster. "Because we want what you've got."

The old man looks incredulous. "You're...you're here to rob us? Fine! What will it take for you to leave? We'll pay, just don't hurt anyone else!"

"A box of rations, some medical supplies...and your generator." Tara almost mutters, trying to sound like the bold bandit she realizes they see her as.

The old man shakes his head. "The supplies..that's fine. We can spare it...but we can't give you our generator. It's all we have and-"

Tara thought she had a handle on her powers, she thought she understood the 'heft' of them; but in hindsight she realized it was just the rush of adrenaline that convinced her that she could do it. In the heat of the moment, she sent a finger sized shard buzzing towards the old man with a flick of the wrist. It was just supposed to scare him; remind him who's boss you know...maybe nick him...

She suppresses a cry as he falls to his knees, blood spurting from a hole in his neck. Coughing, gurgling...unable to utter his last words. Her insides are shaking, but she realizes that at this point it's too late to just walk away; too late to show weakness in front of these people.

"Then we want HALF of your supplies and your generator." she demands. She isn't much louder this time, but it's the only thing anyone can hear.

They got what they wanted. Almost four months rations, some basic medical supplies, a couple of pistols and a shotgun, some ammo, the generator and a few gallons of gas. If it weren't for Clyde's enhanced strength they never would have gotten it home.

They take a long, winding path home to keep from being followed and walk in the door at around 5am. Dennis immediately retires to his family and Clyde and Tara begin storing the supplies.

"Those people. The old man...I..." Tara starts, but Clyde simply shakes his still armored head.

"It doesn't matter." he says simply. "I wish it hadn't went down that way, but..it did; so we've got to accept it. No excuses."

Tara "Just like that?"

Clyde nods. "Just like that."

The next few days are almost pleasant. Clyde manages to hook the generator up and determines that they have about a week's fuel on hand and everybody spends the time recuperating and getting to know each other.

It takes almost a full night for Clyde to get rid of his armored form and he gorges himself like he's starving once it's over.

They discover that Dennis and Sam were both at the convention center with Fanboy, the same as Tara, when they were gassed but Karen had stayed in their room and escaped it altogether. Upon finding out that Samson is a metahuman, both Clyde and Tara start inquiring about his abilities; but he hasn't really displayed anything noteworthy. Only a better than usual memory, especially for a kid his age.

They also watch in irritation as the surrounding houses begin filling up with survivors; many of which try to force their way into Tara's little nook. As Dennis explains, with the refugee center pretty much in flames; the giant tent city that once housed the city's hopeful homeless population is going to empty up and fill every nook and cranny.

It's annoying and Clyde is all for kicking the hobos out of the surrounding houses to keep control of the neighborhood, but Tara says that so long as they're left alone it's none of their business what happens outside.

So overall it isn't a particularly exciting few days, but it's pleasant enough.

It's almost three in the morning when they're woken up by their neighbors down the street. Dennis stays put with his kids, while Clyde and Tara rush outside to see what all of the commotion is about. All the yelling and screaming and breaking...

As they rush out into the night, they see that several houses down there is a literal monster. 7 feet tall, a patchwork mess of scrap parts assembled as though direct from Frankenstein's lab. It has a dull, thoughtless expression on its barely human face and sharped rebar has been woven into the flesh of its knuckles like claws. Three dead men lay in the neighbor's yard, almost torn in half and the rest of the household screeches in panic as the creature lumbers into the dark, carrying the writhing form of a fourth man, bellowing in terror.

Clyde starts after the beast but Tara puts a hand on his chest and shakes her head. "That's just the way the world works now. We have to accept it."

Clyde looks after the creature wordlessly before looking down at Tara and sighing. "Just like that?"

She nods and turns to go back inside. "Just like that."

As they re-enter the house, Dennis and Karen anxiously ask what the commotion was about.

Tara simply replies "It's none of our business, go back to sleep." and returns to her room.

2018-11-15, 07:38 PM
Tara jumped pretty fast from scared and desperate survivor to post-apocalyptic warlord in the making, but I guess PCs escalating the situation as fast as they can twist that dial is business as usual for your campaigns at this point, Kid Jake. Happy to see that she now has some friends/allies in the forms of Clyde and Dennis (and hopefully something approaching a conscience in the latter, since Clyde doesn't seem inclined to rein back her more violent impulses), I hope they end up sticking around. If this goes anything like the Sidekick campaign that surburban home will be a military-grade fortress with a swimming pool and arcade by the end of the week, so at least they'll be living comfortably until relief (or something worse, either fits) arrives.

Kid Jake
2018-11-16, 08:31 AM
Lol, yeah she does seem like she'd fit in with my more murderous regulars. Although I think she's still trying to figure her character out at the moment as she learns what she's capable of within the system. I actually don't think she's meant to wrack up such a large body count so far, she just chose a very...murdery power that has the full-power flaw attached.

But only time will tell what she eventually turns into.

2018-11-17, 04:29 PM
Holy Crud!! A new M&M Journal from Kid Jake.

will be eagerly awaiting updates

Kid Jake
2018-11-17, 05:14 PM
Always glad to amuse!

Kid Jake
2018-11-19, 09:02 PM
Tara wakes up to a house in panic, her roommates being considerably less comfortable with a rampaging monster than herself.

Clyde had told the family what he'd seen and both Karen and Dennis had spent the night freaking out over what to do. On the one hand, the neighborhood obviously wasn't safe. On the other, it's probably considerably safer WITH the likes of Clyde and Tara than away from them. They have no idea what to do with themselves.

Tara tries to calm everyone down, but can't answer the million dollar question: What now?

As it turns out, the rest of the neighborhood is asking themselves the same question and it seems like a man named Wade has/is the answer.

Wade is a middle-aged man with pale skin, dull red hair and shabby clothes with long sideburns and a battered trucker's cap. He speaks with a rapid southern drawl, but when he talks it's hard to ignore his intensity.

He demands action. He demands co-operation. He demands respect and your attention.

He's unanimously voted in as the guy in charge of the neighborhood.

For her part, Tara is relieved to have someone to follow; to not have lives directly in her hands. She probably woud have voted for anyone. Everyone else seemed impressed that when the monster attacked, he actually tried to lead it away; and once it ran he attempted to track it. Neither action accomplished anything, but it showed that he was proactive.

Wade lays it out that nobody gets a free ride. That if he's expected to lead, that everyone else is expected to follow; and asks for superhumans to step forward as volunteers for a sort of neighborhood militia. Everyone else is assigned a more mundane task.

All told, about ten individuals step forward. Along with Tara, Clyde and Dennis are an eight foot giant; a woman with pale blue skin and gills; and an older man with three eyes and a handful of less obvious individuals.

Wade briefly pulls each aside for a conversation, asking about what they're capable of and letting them know how much the neighborhood will be depending on them, then puts them into groups of 2-3 and assigns them a task. Two groups are left at home to defend and the other two are sent out to gather supplies to wall off their little chunk of Ventnor from marauders. Tara volunteers her group to go out, sensing an opportunity to accumulate some brownie points for the future.

"What's the plan boss?" Clyde asks as they're walking back home.

Tara looks at him like he's an idiot. "To go get supplies..."

"Where?" Clyde asks.

Tara can't quite answer that part.

Their first attempt is to just find an old hardware store and strip it bare, but after a couple of hours of searching they realize that's not going to happen. Next they just ransack random buildings, but find almost nothing in those either. Just before Tara has them literally start stripping the floorboards up for lumber, Clyde and Dennis have ideas.

Clyde points out that the neighborhood they hit the other day had all kinds of defenses and suggests strongarming them out of some sand bags and tools. Tara points out that as bad as things went last time, they may be...resistant to further dealings with them. Dennis counters with an old construction site from before the incident; mentioning that it would obviously have building materials on site...but that lots of other people probably would have remembered it too.

There's a short back and forth debate before Tara decides that leaning on their previous victims is the quickest path to success and they haul ass to be the first ones finished.

They spend a good forty minutes watching the barb-wired compound before accepting that it's probably empty. Tara and Clyde force Dennis to go check it out, despite his objections to going in alone, and wait another thirty minutes while he does his stuff. Eventually they see his naked ass streaking down the street, waving the all-clear to them and move to join him with pants in tow.

It turns out that the neighborhood is well and truly abandoned, not a sign of life in sight. They take a few minutes to spread out and search, but don't find the massive haul they were hoping for.

They do discover quite a few abandoned sand bags, the barbed wire is still up and a handful of simple tools and unused lumber is in a garage. It's something...but won't be enough to solve their problems.

Clyde and Tara put on thick welding gloves that they found and begin trying to re-roll the barbed wire for later when Dennis suddenly shouts something about company. Sure enough, they're no longer alone.

Calmly walking down the street is a short, heavyset man in a dark trench-coat. He might be 5'6'' and close to 300lbs. He has dark, greasy hair and a thick beard that follows his neckline. He wears thick glasses, a pair of cargo shorts, a t-shirt depicting the torso of a buxom anime school-girl and a faux leather trenchcoat that brushes his ankles. In his hands, he carries a sheathed katana.

"So..." the neck-beard says with a wheezing breath. "You return to the scene of the crime? How arrogant can you be?"

The three survivors glances at each other incredulously. Tara simply asks "Is he serious?"

"As a heart attack lady!" the man shouts in reply. "The good people of this community have had enough of your shenanigans and have hired me, a total badass bounty hunter, to bring you to justice for your crimes."

"What crimes?" Tara asks. "We needed food, and they had food so we took it!"

The bounty hunter guy turns red in the face as he stammers "That...that's the definition of a crime! What world do you live in that you can just take, take, take s%^& that doesn't belong to you with no reprocussions?"

Clyde looks at Tara and shakes his head "I still can't tell if he's serious...."

"I am the Kensei! The Sword Saint!" the man shouts, slowly drawing his blade.

"You're f%^&ing Weaboo Jones boy!" Clyde laughs back, his chuckle disappearing in his throat as the swordsman is in his face faster than his eye can track. Clyde barely brings a super-dense forearm up in time to deflect a sword strike to his face, but still can't react fast enough to avoid being swept off his feet in the same flowing action and lands on his back with a reddened face and bleeding arm.

"Sit down" the fat man wheezes sami-threateningly.

Tara reacts by flinging a handful of fist sized shards of glass in the Weaboo's direction, but his blade flashes faster than she can follow and knocks them aside effortlessly.

Dennis all but leaps out of his pants, squealing like he's already been impaled as he skitters to safety.

Clyde goes into the fetal position as his armor begins growing in.

'Kensei' kicks Clyde in the side of the face before launching himself over the breathless superhuman and lunging at Tara with his blade. He nicks her side, but brings his blade to bare again almost immediately to bat away another shard of glass.

Clyde finishes his transformation and lunges at the Weaboo, attempting to get the swordsman in a bear hug; but catches a boot in the back of his knee, driving him back to the ground as Kensei slashes Tara across the stomach and leaps back once again into a defensive stance.

Dennis continues running away.

Clyde leaps to his feet and charges with his scary ass bone spurs, but his face reddens beneath his boney armor as they are both slapped away and he catches a sword in a chink in his armor and straight through his gut. Kensei kicks him square in the chest, where he lands flat on his back coughing up blood and gurgling.

"Too easy." Kensei snorts, taking a moment to puff at his inhaler before extending a hand to Tara and inviting her to get serious.

Tara extends her hands and launches everything she's got, rapid firing glass shards in the smug swordsman's direction until he's obviously struggling to deflect them all. Just as she manages to nick him, the fat bastard flips out of the way and flings a handful of shurikens which imbed themselves in her shoulder painfully.

Kensei's cut isn't deep, barely more than a scratch, but he seems worried at the sight of blood and says "Once I've tended to my wounds, I'll make you pay for sure." as he turns and bolts out of sight.

Tara sighs in relief, not even bothering to give chase, but just thankful that he's gone.

Tara quickly realizes that Clyde's wound is more than she's prepared to treat and props him up to get comfortable while she searches for supplies to wrap him with. Eventually Clyde waves her off and suggests that she focus on getting the appropriate materials ready so that they can drag back what they can before the Weaboo returns.

She doesn't have a lot of faith in their ability to haul goods with him barely holding his guts in, but does as he says anyway just to keep busy while he catches his breath.

Just over twenty minute pass before Dennis and two others arrive. The blonde, eight foot giant and an older man with a buzzcut and glasses.

"Where the hell did you go?" Tara growls at the cowardly superhuman.

"Eh...for reinforcements?" he replies sheepishly.

Tara scoffs. "A lot of good they did while he was kicking our asses! We could have died!"

Dennis looks shocked and offended. "My power...is that I'm KIND OF invisible while I'm naked! What part of that screams brawler to you!? If I'd stayed, I could have died!"

The giant, a burly man who's taken to calling himself Goliath, holds out his hands for silence and tells both of them to shut the hell up. He points out that nobody's dead, but every minute they spend yapping is a minute closer Clyde is to changing that.

They both continue grumbling, but quickly set about loading up what they can. Goliath slings Clyde under one arm, grunting at the surprising weight of him, and a stack of sandbags under the other. Everyone else grabs what they can and they quickly make their way home.

Once Clyde has been put into bed and his wounds stuffed with gauze, they head back for two more trips before declaring the place picked clean.

Afterwards, Tara sits down with Dennis and Clyde to discuss what to do next.

"Tara...he was hired to kill us." Clyde says, a little dopey from the painkillers and half dozing on the couch.

"I know...I was there." Tara replies with a raised eyebrow.

"No...I mean...there's a price on our heads Tara." Clyde points out. " It was hard enough out here when all we had to worry about was going hungry or cold...but those people are hiring men to come out here and cut our f*@#ing heads off! How...how do we deal with that?"

Tara shakes her head. "We don't yet. For now, we get this place locked down and hope that Wade has our backs when the time comes."

Dennis looks nervous. "Who's to say he'll stick his neck out for us though? Especially after he hears what we did..."

"We'll make ourselves too valuable to lose." Tara replies. "We'll build that damned wall ourselves if we have to."

"But...how?" Dennis asks.

"We'll hit your construction site tonight and strip it clean." she responds. "Not the two of us obviously, because you're absolutely useless when I need you; but you, me and the giant."

Dennis huffs and puffs for a moment, but agrees that a third set of hands is a good idea.

By this point Clyde has started to drift off and is muttering "Next time I see porky's weaboo ass, I'm gonna whip it on principal... Suckerpunching motherf...."

Tara rolls her eyes and pats his still armored shoulder as she stands up. "You do that big guy. You do that."

It was easy enough to talk Goliath into helping with their plan. He had family back in the neighborhood and was as anxious to see the fortifications done as anyone so he jumped at the opportunity to get things started.

The only hitch is that they aren't alone.

Two dozen people are already brawling on the site, trying to mark their territory and strip it of anything worth carrying off. They realize that there probably isn't a great deal left, but are still determine to find SOMETHING worthwhile here; so decide to try and sneak past them.

With an eight foot giant in tow.

It doesn't work.

As the rival groups notice their little attempt at sneaking, they begin moving to cut off access to the site itself. "Go home freaks!" somebody shouts.

"Do something." Tara says, nudging her burly protector in the side.

Goliath immediately goes red in the face and grabs a nearby cinderblock, pitching it like a weirdly shaped baseball into the middle of the offending group with an "Up yours tiny!" more for intimidation than attempting to hurt anyone.

This turns out to be the wrong move...

The crowd begins hurling rocks back along with insults and vitriol.

Goliath mimics his namesake, catching a stone right between the eyes and getting laid out directly onto his ass. Dennis takes one to the nose that knocks the sense out of him. Tara takes a brick to the temple, and can barely maintain consciousness.

Dennis is the only one standing and he isn't even in shape to run, let alone defend his comrades.

Tara curses her luck as she tries to make her legs work, but can barely even see straight. If Goliath isn't dead, he definitely has a concussion...

The crowd seems to have decided to resume its brawl after dealing with these uppity sleepers, and begins grabbing shovels and bricks and advancing upon their downed enemies jeering.

Suddenly, a booming voice thunders from the sky: "This is private property! I understand that this is a difficult time, but you need to return to your homes and wait for further relief!"

The crowd looks up in the sky and Tara does as well, just in time to see a young man encased in a glowing aura and carrying what looks like a child sized blob of water under his arm plummet from the sky and land in front of her.

Someone in the crowd hurls a brick, which doesn't even make contact with the young man (more like a boy really, barely out of his teens) before careening off to the side. "Who made YOU the boss!?" the trouble maker shouts angrilly.

"Nobody's the boss here!" the young man replies in his artificially loud voice. "However my organization has been authorized by Ventnor City PD to apprehend rioters and protect public property during this...transition. Please, return to your homes. We're doing what we can!"

Several more rocks bounce uselessly off of his golden forcefield before the sound of automatic gunfire fills the air and causes the entire crowd to take a step back.

The small, humanoid drop of water steps forward holding a machine gun larger than itself. It has a red bandana wrapped around its head and speaks in a strange, drawn out manner as it says "You heard the man. You don't gotta go home, but you can't stay here!"

The young man shakes his head. "No, they do need to go home."

A second round of gunfire urges them into a full run as the water creature shouts. "Alright, you do gotta go home!"

As his overeager partner puts an end to the riot, the golden young man kneels down next to Tara's bleeding form and says "Don't worry, everything is going to be alright." then presses a finger to his ear and adds "Bradley, I need evac and medical treatment for three people. Find my position and prep the auto-docs."

Tara tunes the rest out and sighs a sigh of relief as the young man effortlessly rolls Goliath over and starts administering first aid, then decides that she's had enough of today and lets herself pass out.

2018-11-20, 11:21 AM
Stallone! It's great to finally see a member of McCrow and Friends appear in the new campaign, though I admit I had to trawl the old journal archives to remember his name. I think that golden-sphere guy is new, though his powers vaguely remind me of Richard/Volt in his more in-control moments. How far in the future does this take place relative to the first campaign, anyhow? Or is that intentionally ambiguous?

Overall, not a great session for our heroes protagonists; getting repeatedly beaten up by everyone they tried to oppress. Tara might need to shake up her standard strategy of "sneak in first, then deploy overwhelming force if discovered", since it's pretty clear that's not going to fly with every single enemy they meet, superpowered or otherwise.

Kensei is neat, and I appreciate that your streak of using superpowers to make pathetic losers into demigods that the PCs have every right to fear continues, Kid Jake. I do need to ask one thing, though- was it in-character for him to retreat at the earliest sign that Tara had a legitimate chance at killing him? Or were you just worried that he might have a legitimate chance of killing her if the fight wore on too long?

Kid Jake
2018-11-20, 11:58 AM
I've been looking forward to introducing them too! I'd originally intended for them to be a looming threat to dissuade large scale assaults, but a bunch of crits from PL3 riffraff resulted in them being saviors this time, rather than antagonists. The golden guy is Ben McCrow, Roger's youngest son that relies on the same Luvtech as Mann to get around and inherited the Warehouse when his dad died and Fanboy abandoned his hometown for fame.

This campaign picks up three weeks after the end of the first one, so that everything is still new and scary and new superhumans are still popping up every day.

I agree that Tara should probably start workshopping a new strategy, especially since she has no ranks in Stealth or even a Dexterity modifier to speak of. I'm hoping she'll get a little more creative the more comfortable she gets with the system...or at least invest points in sneaking.

I've really been looking forward to using him for a while now. I had him in mind as an antagonist for The Watch before we even came up with Manslug. Glad he came out entertaining!

While Kensei was a little nastier than I expected, I didn't pull back on her. I'd always envisioned him as a horrifically out of shape badass wannabe that immediately panics and overreacts at the slightest sign things might not go his way.

Like a lot of new superhumans, he'd never been in a serious fight before the gas and figured that being fast enough to cut a bullet in half would make him invincible, so he has no qualms with lording his abilities over others. But even though he fled from a single glancing hit, in HIS mind he heroically dragged himself back to base with a mortal wound. :P

2018-11-20, 12:42 PM
Kensei is neat, and I appreciate that your streak of using superpowers to make pathetic losers into demigods that the PCs have every right to fear continues, Kid Jake. I do need to ask one thing, though- was it in-character for him to retreat at the earliest sign that Tara had a legitimate chance at killing him? Or were you just worried that he might have a legitimate chance of killing her if the fight wore on too long?

The thing I noticed was ...

Calmly walking down the street is a short, heavyset man in a dark trench-coat. He might be 5'6'' and close to 300lbs. He has dark, greasy hair and a thick beard that follows his neckline. He wears thick glasses, a pair of cargo shorts, a t-shirt depicting the torso of a buxom anime school-girl and a faux leather trenchcoat that brushes his ankles. In his hands, he carries a sheathed katana.

He wears thick glasses, a pair of cargo shorts, a t-shirt depicting the torso of a buxom anime school-girl and a faux leather trenchcoat that brushes his ankles.

He wears thick glasses,


And was thinking that having the exact weapon that Tara needs right next to your eyes could go south, very quickly.

Kid Jake
2018-11-20, 12:55 PM
I'm actually surprised she didn't notice that! I would have hit him with an undodgeable dazzle effect if she'd taken advantage and assuming he managed to skitter away he probably would have come back as an overly dramatic 'blind swordsman', complete with robe, blindfold and big straw hat.

2018-11-20, 03:37 PM
Can someone please please please link me to the old thread so i can read the original story?

2018-11-20, 04:14 PM
can someone please please please link me to the old thread so i can read the original story?

nevermind just realized it was in the sig

Kid Jake
2018-12-03, 10:00 PM
I wanted to try and get Tara's player more into character this week, so I purposefully didn't plan anything ahead of time and had her try to explore the areas she'd be more interested in. It was an interesting session for me at least. Anyway, hope you enjoy!

Tara eventually wakes up, her head aches worse than it ever has before but at least she's alive...though she's fuzzy on how.

She's in a strange room, bright and sterile; but surprisingly comfortable. There are a dozen beds or so, more than half of them filled with people of varying injuries. Her comrade Goliath among them, tubes running down his throat and his head bandaged thoroughly.

As she sits up, she notices four robotic 'arms' hanging from the ceiling that constantly seem to evaluate and adjust the various patients. Three young men in overalls are working in the room, one is tidying up; another is keeping an eye on various readouts from the machines and the last is restocking medication.

Her eyes aren't drawn to them however, but the T.V. fastened in the corner which clearly shows Fanboy on some daytime talk show in full costume. He shows off his powers to the delight of the crowd and then begins plugging some book about how he singlehandedly saved Ventnor City from complete destruction while simultaneously putting down a superpowered terrorist who had infiltrated the United States government.

The young men scoff to themselves, muttering about how he wasn't completely alone in all that.

Tara barely notices. She's furious. All this time she'd held onto hope that the Fanboy was returning. That he was planning some daring maneuver to put things right... Instead, he's already taking credit for a job well done as the city burns!

The T.V. explodes outwards before she even realizes what she's doing and the three young men freak out. It's only then that she realizes it isn't three young men, it's one young man three times...

The first clone shouts "Son of a bitch!" as he leaps away from the flying shards.

The second groans loudly, moaning "I have to clean that!"

The last slaps a hand to his forehead irritably "We just installed that!"

"I'm sorry!" she instinctively calls out.

Two of them ignore her and continue grumbling as they sweep up glass as the third walks over to check on her. "So you're up?"

Tara nods. "Where...where am I? Who are you?"

"We're Bradley" the clone explains "and you're in The Warehouse."

"Am I a prisoner?" she asks suspiciously, eyeing the shards of glass heading towards the trash.

Bradley shakes his head. "Little McCrow wanted to have a word with you if he was here, but as far as I know you're good to go when you're ready."

"Well I'm ready." she says tersely, standing up on unsteady legs.

Bradley shrugs and keys an earpiece "McCrow, that girl you dragged in is awake and ready to go. You done with her friend?"

With a nod, Bradley waves Tara off.

As she leaves the medbay and the injured Goliath behind, Tara's breath is momentarily taken away by what she sees. The warehouse is like a sci-fi flick. The towering walls glitter with Luvless's patented hard-light technology and the building itself is filled with the impossible. A man made of rock that would easily dwarf Goliath is shouting at one of the Bradley clones, seemingly about a handful of cat sized balls of sentient water bouncing off the walls as yet another clone tries to catch them in a makeshift net. Two more Bradleys are working on a modified ambulance, while yet another sits in the middle of a number of phones, radios and computers working as a receptionist of sorts.

A massive statue of a mustachioed man in a speedo strangling the life out of a taxidermied dog larger than a car looms over the entrance and there seems to be pure pandemonium everywhere.

"Feeling better?" a soft voice asks, breaking Tara out of her wonder. She turns around to see the golden aura'd boy from last night, although lacking his aura at the moment, and Dennis whose eyes are now black and his nose bandaged heavily.

"Who...who are you people?" she asks, looking around incredulously.

"McCrow and Friends." he replies with a chuckle and then extends his hand. "I'm Benjamin McCrow. You can call me Ben."

"And these are your friends...?" she asks.

"Something like that." Ben says with a half laugh.

"Seriously, who are you people?" she asks again, humorlessly.

"Concerned citizens." Ben replies, motioning to the looming statue in the lobby. "My father founded this team with the Fanboy to protect the citizens of Ventnor City and I intend to carry on his legacy."

Tara laughs bitterly. "Well a bang up job you've been doing with it so far."

Ben looks a little wounded. "Do you know how many people are trapped here in Ventnor City? Fifty thousand at last estimate. Do you know how many of those are believed to have powers? Almost ten thousand. Do you know how many men I have?"

Tara suddenly feels very ashamed, remembering how he shielded them with his own body. "Like ten....?"

Ben nods. "Yeah...like ten. We're not perfect ma'am, but we're working with Ventnor City PD and certain outside agencies to try and make things better. We do what we can where we can, it might not be enough but it's what we can do."

"I'm sorry." she replies. "And thank you for stepping in back there...we'd like to help."

Ben looks surprised. "Are you volunteering?"

"If that's what you want to call it. I want to join your little club, this city needs help and it doesn't look like Fanboy's coming back." she says with a sigh.

Ben escorts her and Dennis outside, explaining that if she wants he'll prepare a place in the barracks for her and her team and allow them a trial period before they sign on as full members. After seeing her ability, he does warn that she'll need to get it under control to minimize casualties, because they aren't butchers.

As they step outside, she's hit with the quiet of the docks and the fresh sea air. Not a soul in sight on the waterfront...except for the seven battleships hovering in the distance like hounds ready to pounce.

"What are they doing there?" Tara asks nervously.

Ben shakes his head. "Sometimes people try and make a break for it. They don't let them get far..."

"So we really are trapped..." Tara says defeatedly.

"This is still all new to them." Ben says. "I understand their fear....even agree with it to a degree. I just wish so many didn't have to suffer because of it."

Tara looks out at the motionless ships and shudders. "Me too."

"So you're joining those guys?" Dennis asks on the way home. "Are you crazy?! They've got to be the biggest target in the city!"

"So?" Tara scoffs. "Did you see that place? It's a high tech fortress filled with supermen. The kind of people that would even be ballsy enough to take a run at THEM could wipe our little neighborhood out without a second thought. You don't have to come with me, but I'm bringing Clyde along for this, it's too good to pass up."

"Wait, you mean you're." Dennis starts.

Tara finishes his thought: "Leaving you in the cold? That's up to you."

Dennis grumbles for a few minutes but eventually not only agrees with her decision, but becomes a vocal proponent as his cowardly mind starts thinking of ways to avoid having to deal with the rest of this horrible city ever again....

When they reach their neighborhood, the walls are already coming up nicely. Sandbags have been laid across the street and a fat, bald man standing guard flashes as they approach. (Literally, his skin goes bright for a split second and then returns to normal.) "Identify yourself!"

Tara rolls her eyes. "We're the people from the nice house. Step aside or I swear I'll move you!"

The fat man pales and then scrambles away as Dennis and Tara move for home.

Wade, having overheard the exchange, cuts them off midway. "No call for all that now, he's just doing his job. Speaking of...not only are you short on your delivery, but you seem to missing another of my men!"

"Goliath is fine!" Tara immediately responds. "He's just...resting."

"Where?" Wade demands. "What'd you do with him girl?"

"I didn't do anything, I swear. Looters stoned us at an old construction site and we had to drag him to a clinic. He should be home in a day or two. In fact I'm about to see what they can do for Clyde." she tries to explain, without mentioning the specifics of McCrow and Friends.

Wade seems irritated, but lets it go for now, demanding a full report later.

Tara promises and then rushes home to tell everybody to pack.

Dennis quickly brings his wife and son around to leaving, but Clyde is weary. He's not a fan of 'the man' but does like the idea of actual medical treatment for his gaping chest wound and says that if Tara can get him there, he's all in.

They set Karen and Samson on packing up what little they have and Tara takes Dennis to find a working car.

Most are damaged in some way, either destroyed during the initial chaos or burned for the sheer hell of it later. Others were simply looted for parts or their gas siphoned in the following weeks.

Dennis thinks he can find one in perfect condition, but Tara instead suggests simply rolling one without fuel home and using the gas from the generator to get to The Warehouse. With a little luck, they find a truck that seems to be in fine condition besides being on empty.

Within the hour they're back home and dragging their supplies outside, along with a severely limping Clyde, when Wade strolls up; flanked by the fat blinking guy and a short, lean man wearing glasses.

"Now what are y'all doing here?" Wade asks suspiciously. "Going somewhere?"

"None of your f#@%ing business Wade." Tara responds.

Wade seems taken aback. "Well...it kinda is my business, because it looks like you're taking off with neighborhood supplies. If that's the case...then well, you're free to leave of course; but all this stays here."

Tara stops what she's doing and glares at him. "Excuse me? This is MINE you #$$hole! I had it before you even dragged your ass here."

"Doesn't matter." Wade snaps back. "You were at the damned meeting! All for one and one for all and ALL that noise woman! We do what's best for the neighborhood here!"

"Well tough $#*&, because it's coming with me." Tara says, before being backhanded off her feet by Wade. She hits the ground and rolls twice from the force of the blow, already feeling her lip swelling.

"No. Now g'it." Wade says threateningly.

Tara responds by shattering the windows of her former house and hurling the shards in Wade's direction. He tucks his face into his arms to avoid the worst of it and then lunges forward, kicking her in the ribs as hard as he can; knocking the wind out of her and pulls his fist back for another blow before Dennis of all people leaps onto his arm to prevent the attack.

Without warning, a third arm emerges from Wade's chest and grabs Tara by the throat, hoisting her off the ground as he hurls Dennis against the wall like a child. Tara can't even concentrate enough to direct her power as the strangles the life out of her; however Clyde slams into the both of them like a runaway train, knocking Tara free.

Wade's driven back a couple of steps before yet another arm emerges from his back, grabbing Clyde by the side of his head as he spins on his heels and drives Clyde face first into the ground; where he lays bleeding from his preexisting wound and coughing up blood from the impact.

Tara sucks in air as hard as she can and tries to aim a volley into Wade's back while stumbling to her feet, but the fat man flashes so brightly that her attack goes wide. Dennis scurries back into the house as his wife and child scream in terror and the man with glasses lowers them long enough to fire a blast from his eyes that singes the wall beside Tara.

Wade's arms disappear inside himself once more as he springs back towards Tara and strikes her in ribs hard enough to break one. She screams in pain as he sweeps her legs out from under her and places a boot on her jaw.

"I ain't an evil man girl. Take your people and piss off while we're still feeling merciful, but the supplies stay here." Wade says, putting just enough pressure on her to show that he could break her.

The sound of a gunshot rings out, knocking Wade on his ass and Dennis stands there, shaking with a shotgun in his hand. Wade curses up a storm as the man with the glasses fires another blast that splits the gun in half and blisters Dennis's hands, who falls to the ground screaming.

Wade marches towards Dennis, looking at the blood dripping off his hand as he pokes at his chest. "Boy....this is going to hurt." he growls.

Wade suddenly feels a dozen shards of glass pierce his back as Tara calls out "Yeah, it is."

Screaming in rage through clenched teeth Wade charges Tara, knocking her to the ground and kicking her in the side of the head as she tries to stand up. Her legs give out under her from the force of the blow and as she looks up, she catches his boot to her head again, and again, and again until she simply blacks out.


When she comes to again it's dark and there's crying. Karen and Samson are sitting on the curb....a strange curb, not in the neighborhood.

As she looks around he sees Clyde laying in a small pool of his own blood, Dennis's arms are both broke, Karen and even Samson have been worked over extensively and are the only ones conscious and Tara herself can barely move from the beating she received.

Tara barely manages to pull herself to her feet, every inch of her threatening to give up in agony.

"What do we do now?" Karen asks, tears in her eyes as she strokes her husband's hair. Both of his eyes beaten shut by their former neighbors.

"We find something to tie to the guys and we drag them if we have to...." Tara barely manages to mumble. "Then we rest up and we kill those sons of bitches...."

2018-12-04, 12:02 PM
Keep them coming Kid Jake. We'll lap up everything you give us.

Kid Jake
2018-12-04, 12:15 PM
Heh, glad to hear it and will do!

Kid Jake
2019-03-16, 09:26 PM
No, I didn't forget about this!

Sorry for the delay readers, but some stuff came up that kept us from sitting down and playing for way too long. Had a death in the family, followed by an injury, followed by the holidays, another injury and for some reason two new puppies that have turned my home into a warzone and eaten half my dice.:smalltongue:

So it's been hectic. BUT we finally had nothing better to do, so I'm happy to share with you our newest adventure. We hope you enjoy!

Sometime in the early morning they manage to drag themselves to the Warehouse. None of them in any condition to defend themselves. The Bradleys jump into action once they're caught on camera and get the group into the auto-doctors, but it's still a trying day.

It's well after noon when Tara wakes up to find Ben McCrow checking on all of them. She moves to explain what happened, but Ben informs her that Karen had already caught him up to speed, however their version of events wasn't the only one. He'd had Lucky Dan investigate their former neighborhood and everyone there claimed THEY had started the altercation by stealing supplies.

Tara is furious, but Ben holds up a hand.

"For what it's worth, I seriously doubt their side of things; but we can't lay seige to your neighbors on nothing more than your word.. As a favor to me, just let it go. We have our own food and power here, there's no need for any more bloodshed today." the young man says, almost pleadingly.

Tara stares at him a moment before nodding with a sigh and saying "Fine then. You have my word, we'll move on."

She leaves off the "When hell freezes over and I've buried the last of them." part, but swears to herself to revisit this later when she's in better shape.

"How is everyone?" she asks, changing the subject when she notices that the auto-docs seem to be busy still.

"Not great. Whoever started the fight, your former neighbors acted excessively. Once we've finished stabilizing them, we'll be transferring your friends to an off-site clinic for their recovery." Ben responds.

"What, why?" Tara asks, sitting up a little straighter.

"The nudist's arms are broken in three places each, his right knee is shattered and his jaw had to be wired shut andhe other one, Clyde I believe, has internal injuries which were aggravated by the beating." Ben explains. "The auto-doctors are really only for emergencies and we may need them ourselves."

Tara shakes her head, "But..."

Ben cuts her off before she can argue. "I'm sorry, but the Warehouse's facilities are for McCrow and Friends and in their present condition they can't exactly try out. We can't take in every stray refugee and we can't give complete strangers preferential treatment."

Tara looks over at her injured and unconscious friends and sighs, feeling like she's abandoning them. "I understand...."

Ben places a hand on her shoulder and looks genuinely sorry. "They'll be well taken care of and once they've recovered I promise we'll give them a chance."

Luckily Tara's own injuries are rather minor by comparison and by the next morning she's up and about, if still sore and bruised from the beating.

She watches as several Bradleys load Clyde, Dennis, Dennis's family and even Goliath into a pair of modified ambulances for transport to somewhere referred to as Mercy Avenue. She's already said goodbye to Karen and Samson when Ben McCrow shows up and asks her to step aside with him.

As the ambulances drive off, Tara notices an air of business starts sweeping the Warehouse and everyone seems to be getting ready for something. The large rock man and some guy with an oxygen mask walk past them to an open topped truck.

"Remember when I said that we were working with the authorities to get things back to normal?" Ben asks. "A contact of ours in the police has asked for us to provide a little extra security today. It looks like they're helicoptering in supplies and they want to make sure the troublemakers from before don't make another appearance. You in?"

Tara nods as she watches the chaos around her. "I've got to start somewhere."

Ben's golden aura flares to life as he pats her on the back. "Good to hear! I'll meet you guys there, I need to get things started. Stallone!"

"Here Boss!" a roughly child sized being made of water carrying a SAW LMG with an American flag bandana wrapped around his head calls out.

Ben scoops him up as he trots towards the exit before his aura pulses and he's launched into the sky at great speed, carrying his sidekick along for the ride.

Tara shakes her head in awe as four Bradleys in tactical gear and two more of the child sized water creatures, one wearing a pair of round sunglasses and the other a blue speedo push past her towards another one of the modified ambulances.

"You on this one?" Bradley asks, to which she nods and hops on with them.

"Welcome to McCrow and Friends then." the young man says with a laugh as another of the clones starts the engine.

"So...you guys are the real deal then? You worked with Fanboy?" Tara asks incredulously.

Bradley laughs. "Naturally. We were friends...sort of."

"Sort of?" Tara asks.

"I mean...I worked for him and old man McCrow. They saved me from a real stupid decision and taught me how to get the most out of my power." Bradley explains.

"Why call yourselves McCrow and Friends though? I would have assumed the Fanboy would have been your leader." Tara asks.

"To be honest, neither of them were much of a leader." Bradley replies. "Fanboy was just a gloryhound and McCrow....well McCrow was just a drunk *******."

"HOW DARE YOU!?" the larger of the droplets wearing a speedo shouts. "McCrow was a great man! A visionary! A-"

"You never met him Hogan!" Bradley shouts back.

The droplet with the glasses has a hand on 'Hogan' to keep him from leaping from his seat, but even he seems to be staring daggers at the young man.

"Look, I'm sorry." Bradley says, holding his hands up apologetically. "I shouldn't trash talk the dead, he WAS a hero. I never meant to imply otherwise. His heart gave out protecting the city." he adds for Tara's benefit.

"He also gave birth to the droplet race." the glasses wearing droplet says, pride evident in his voice.

"So Fanboy's all talk then?" Tara asks. "A fake?"

"Well...no." Bradley admits. "From what I hear he really was the one that killed the terrorist trying to infect the whole city. Dude had like a hundred powers and Fanboy chopped his head off with a lightsaber."

"A lightsaber?" Tara asks, raising an eyebrow. "Now I know you're pulling my leg."

"It's....complicated. But most of the crap you hear about them is true, just not necessarily the WHOLE truth." Bradley says, the droplets still glaring at the implication that their father could be anything less than perfect.

For the rest of the ride Bradley answers what questions he can about their organization, but Tara quickly realizes that he's basically just a mobile workforce and doesn't know all that much about the overall goals himself despite apparently being one of the original members.

Eventually they get to a now abandoned middle school and begin unloading on the basketball/volleyball courts where a number of police and national guard members are already securing the area. Each of them have to be given the ok by Ben before allowed to approach, but before long they get settled in for a long day of pretty much just standing around.

The first hour is tense as Tara waits for an attack, but by the second hour she's engaging in random small talk with the others as they pass by on patrol. By the third, her and Ben find themselves in a conversation on plans for the city.

Ben explains that at the moment they're still just winging it until the power and water are repaired and mentions that every time a new superhuman wakes up it threatens to destabilize the entire city all over again; pointing out that while most powers are just minor annoyances in the grand scheme of things, others are capable of rewriting reality as we know it.

Tara suggests that McCrow and Friends should take control over the remaining superhumans in the hospitals themselves and determine if they're a threat before allowing them into society. When asked what she would suggest they do if someone didn't pass muster, she asks him what he thinks she's suggesting.

"We aren't judge, jury and executioner Tara. I want to keep the peace, but I'm not going to sink to murder if I can help it." Ben says with disgust in his voice.

"Then reopen the Hole." Tara says. "Bradley said that there used to be a place to keep the really dangerous ones. Let's bring it back if that's what it takes to set things right."

"That's...not a bad idea." Ben replies. "But how are we going to staff something like that, we're already spread too thin?"

"You should start recruiting the nonviolent sleepers and put them to work. Lots of people would jump at the opportunity for honest work in a situation like this." Tara suggests.

Ben is quiet for a moment as he contemplates her advice.

"I'm actually surprised that you haven't already started recruiting. Why am I the first?" she asks, suddenly feeling self conscious.

Ben simply laughs. "To be honest? Until you offered we hadn't thought of it... We've been too busy running ourselves ragged to brainstorm much and....well, I still think of this as my dad's thing. Like I'm just here to keep it going. But you're right, if we're going to fix this city we're going to have to go all in... MY team is going to have to evolve."

Just then, the radio on Ben's chest flares and an old man's voice says "You there McCrow? Come in."

"We'll talk later." Ben says, holding up a finger for silence. "We're here Prophet, what's wrong?"

"I've been trying to reach you." Prophet replies. "I've got reports of a riot breaking out down town, sounds like it could get violent. Can you spare anyone to take a look?"

"What about VCPD?" Ben asks.

"En route, but so far unresponsive." Prophet replies.

"Copy that. I'll send a team." Ben says, turning back to Tara. "Are you up for a trip?"

She nods. "That's what I'm here for."

Ben pats her on the back. "I'm glad to hear it. I'm sending you with Lucky Dan and some Bradleys to try and disperse this crowd before it gets out of hand; but keep your power in check. We aren't butchers! Let them do the heavy lifting and only step in if you can do it safely. Agreed?"

Tara can't help but give a little salute in response. "Got it boss."

They take one of the ambulances as far as the streets will allow, but eventually have to abandon it and continue on foot because of the debris littering the street. The four Bradley clones check their rifles as Lucky Dan sneaks a drink from his hip flask before they march closer.

It doesn't take them long to begin hearing the roar of a crowd and the closer they get, the louder and more violent it sounds. When they finally stumble onto the crowd, it is full scale pandemonium.

The riot has grown to more than a hundred people and they seem to just be beating the everloving crap out of each other with no rhyme or reason. Two of the Bradleys fire warning shots into the air, trying to get their attention, but except for a handful of rioters that break off from the group and trip over themselves attempting to dogpile Lucky Dan, nobody seems to care.

Bradley tries to call in the situation, but can't get in touch with anybody, so they switch over to mace and batons and start trying to disperse the crowd the old fashioned way with little luck. Lucky Dan just meanders about, letting the enraged crowd hurt itself as Tara climbs on top of the burned out remains of a box truck to get a slightly better view.

She scans the crowd, looking for some clue as to what this is about and just barely catches sight of a single man not actively fighting anyone else; just seeming to mill about in a dark hoodie and enjoying the show. She figures that if anyone can help her figure out what this is all about it'll be him, so she keeps her head down and presses through the crowd in his direction.

Several times the rioting civilians notice her, but their attention spans are mercifully short and before they get a chance to attack they inevitably are drawn into another conflict. The experience is obviously stressful and by the time she reaches her target, her head throbs painfully and she can hear the sound of her heart beating in her ears.

Up close the man appears to be in his mid-30's. Clean cut and with short, dark hair. He wears a pin on his collar of a skull and crossbones which she feels like she's seen before.

"Sir, I need to ask you a few questions." she says, putting her headache out of mind.

The man looks at her with smug amusement. "You don't look like a cop."

She blushes a little. "I'm not, but I'm working with them on an unrelated case."

His face cracks into a predatory grin. "Ah, one of the busybodies then... Tell me, can you not hear the beat?"

Tara raises an eyebrow. She opens her mouth to ask "What beat?" but then notices the incessant pounding in her ears, what she took to be her heart beating in panic now sounds deeper, more rhythmic...more controlled. Instead, she screams a string of profanities and surges forward, grabbing a random passerby by the back of the head and driving their face into the pavement before they realize she's there.

She can vaguely hear the hooded man chuckle before disappearing back into the crowd, but she doesn't care. He's somebody else's problem. All of THESE a-holes are hers.

She kicks the side of an old man's knee and howls in delight as the joint snaps. Somebody smashes a glass bottle on the back of her head and she bites the man next to her in retaliation, not even searching for the actual culprit. She gives into every violent impulse that crosses her mind in a deep fog, until she feels several pairs of padded arms wrapping around her and forcing her to the ground.

She howls and curses and claws at someone's eyes, but they hold her fast until she can finally make out what they're saying.

"Are you COMPLETELY INSANE!? What the &^$# is wrong with you!?" Bradley says, sitting on her chest while a second Bradley holds her hands and a third is applying pressure to the gushing face of a fourth.

Tara looks around in confusion. "W-what? Where..." her senses slowly clear up. "The man! In the crowd!"

"What man?" Bradley asks, not letting her up.

"This isn't a normal riot, there's a man causing it. He's...he's chaos. He's making everyone around him murderously enraged!" she snaps, suddenly feeling the physical effects of her mindless brawl and wincing in pain at the pressure being applied by Bradley.

The Bradleys look at each other and slowly let her up. Tapping his ear, one of the Bradleys says "We're going to need more of these..."

"Where did the crowd go?" Tara asks, sitting up and looking around.

Lucky Dan motions down the street where the roar of fighting can still be faintly heard. "They picked up some more guys and rampaged off that direction."

"We're going to need more guys..." Tara says as Bradley helps her up.

"We've been trying the radio for the last ten minutes but-" Bradley says but is suddenly cut off.

"Do you hear me?" Ben's voice cuts through.

"We do now." Bradley says, quickly keying his mic.

"We have reports of activity all over the city, what's your status?" Ben asks quickly.

Tara snatches the radio. "A sleeper is causing the riot and it's growing out of hand. We need reinforcements."

"No can do." Ben replies. "Prophet's learned about three active attacks in progress, we think the riot was meant to draw us away from a kidnapping plot."

"Come again?" Bradley asks.

"Both City Hall and the Ventnor City Police Department are currently under siege and there's a rumor going around that they're after either the Mayor or the Captain." Ben explains. "I've already had to dispatch Brick and the droplets to the border where there's apparently some sort of monster invasion; so we're running short on manpower."

"So the riot is just going to be allowed to run amok?" Tara asks incredulously.

"No, I'll have Chavenski deal with the riot; but I need you to reroute to one of the other locations." Ben says.

"We'll handle both." Tara assures him.

"Are you s-" Bradley starts, before the signal is lost again.

To be honest, Tara really isn't.

Bradley and Dan might be the senior members, but neither are really cut out for leadership so Tara steps up in lieu of Ben. She tells the injured Bradley clone and one of the others to make their way back to the ambulance and regroup with Ben, since it sounds like he's losing men left and right. She then has herself and Dan each take one of the remaining clones and head to a different location. She volunteers for the police station and Dan takes City Hall.

They have to make their way on foot because of the state of the roads, but the journey is quieter than usual. Most everyone on the street had been co-opted by the growing riot and the rest are suitably intimidated into hiding by the murderous crowd, so they make decent time regardless.

The police station has been devastated by the time they arrive, four broken corpses lay on the steps and the large outer doors had been completely smashed in. Animalistic howls and gunfire can be heard from the second floor.

Tara and Bradley glance at each other nervously and begin inching forward, however the scene inside just gets worse. Another half dozen cops have been torn in half and the stairs leading up appear slick with gore.

"What the hell is up there?" Bradley hisses, shouldering his weapon and releasing its safety.

Tara holds up a hand. "Wait here and guard the entrance, I'm going to find out."

Taking a deep breath she all but crawls up the slippery stairs towards the apparent monster upstairs. She tries to be as silent as possible, but quickly finds that it's unnecessary.

As Tara glances around the banister she sees a tall, lanky man with long brown hair, covered in scars and sporting a skull and crossbones spray painted on his chest. The man screams inarticulately as bullets push themselves out of his flesh and casually hurls a wooden desk at one of the officers in the process of reloading. The desk catches him center mass and pins him to the wall with his innards compressed like a used tube of toothpaste.

Tara's eyes widen with recognition and before she can even ask herself what Ben would want her to do in this situation she's screaming for the officers to get down and focuses on the howling Berserker with all the willpower she can muster. Half the windows on the floor shatter into shards as long as her arm and strike Berserker so forcefully that he's driven against the wall and nailed into place.

"Get out of here!" she shouts, extending her hands and causing the shards to begin rotating in place within the vicious superhuman. The pieces of glass bite deep enough in places that she swears she can see his entrails poking through.

Officers are rushing towards the stairs as she begins to ready what she hopes is a kill shot, but to her horror Berserker lets loose a horrifying wail and seems to grow before her very eyes, his wounds knitting themselves back together increasingly fast.

She realizes that isn't going to outbrawl him and decides to instead outmaneuver him. As Berserker pulls himself off the wall he's met with the sound of every other window, light fixture, computer screen and picture frame on the floor exploding in his direction. Rather than trying to aim for his ever sturdier vitals, Tara uses the sheer weight of glass at her disposal to tip him out of the closest window.

"I seriously doubt that stopped him!" she shouts as she rushes to the window to look out. She barely manages to leap back in time to miss the front end of the police cruiser he'd thrown smashing through the open window.

"To the roof! Get to the roof!" she shouts.

Nobody seems inclined to argue, even as they pass the third floor and hear the sounds of combat outside the captain's office.

Tara and ten terrified officers make it to the roof, however they realize that that's as far as they can go.

"What now?" one of the officers demands, his eyes darting around in a blind panic.

"Now you shut up!" Tara hisses. "He's a mindless animal, he's going to get bored and go somewhere else when he can't find you."

"What if he looks up here?" another officer asks, sweating bullets.

"Then we're all dead." Tara snaps back. "So shut. The. Hell. Up!"

They do.

She feels bad knowing the kind of torment she left Bradley to, but reasons with herself that no matter how likable the kid might be, he isn't exactly real; so if his death saves actual people then it's a small price to pay...

For almost thirty minutes they sit in silence until the howls and the few remaining gunshots die out.

Then she says informs them that she'll be taking a vehicle.

When they ask why, she explains that she's seen how these people operate before and that if the Berserker was raising hell here, his friends were probably robbing somewhere else; and she has a good idea where.

She doesn't ask for their help, but does take the keys to a police motorcycle so that she can more easily navigate the streets and lets them sort out their own mess in the meantime.

She arrives at the makeshift supply depot just in time to witness a shootout between what's left of the guards and a handful of raiders. Ben, a single Bradley clone and a young man in a black and yellow jumpsuit are hiding behind a sandbag barricade; a handful of soldiers and cops line the perimeter and three strange men seem to have secured the supplies. Fire seems to be spreading out of control through the compound.

The first man is tall and clean cut, with a square jaw and tight grey haircut that screams former military; he appears to be in his early fifties. As she watches he opens his mouth and belches a thick stream of choking smoke in her teammates' direction; Ben seems unaffected but the other two young men are obviously struggling.

The second man has long grey and brown hair, with an equally long and shaggy beard. He appears late forties or early fifties himself and wears a long coat covered in pockets, supplemented by a number of satchels, fanny packs, bandoleers and pocket belts. Before she can make a move to stop them, he's reached into his pocket and grabbed something which he hurls at a group of soldiers. It barely leaves his hand before growing into a quarter the size of a Volkswagen that destroys their makeshift fortification and crushes two of them outright.

The third man is bundled head to toe in tactical armor and seems to be rigging half the supplies to burn.

"Packrat, take what you can!" the armored man shouts as he works.

"Don't you dare!" Tara shouts extending her hands and summoning the nearby glass to herself.

"Smokestack, take care of this." the armored man snaps; prompting the large man to exhale a plume of smoke around them.

Tara smirks as she simply forms her gathered glass into a whirlwind and sends it into the smoke. Her heart sinks a bit as she hears it harmlessly bounce off of something however and as the smoke dissipates she sees a thimble the size of a fuel tank covering her targets. As it shrinks to its normal size, she sees the man identified as Packrat flick something in her direction but doesn't even have time to react as Ben McCrow rockets in front of her; catching a full sized SUV to the chest which smears him across the black top in a shower of sparks.

Tara starts to fling another volley at the raiders when Smokestack exhales another burst of burning hot smoke in her direction, immediately filling her lungs and burning her eyes. She falls to her knees choking and gagging as Bradley provides covering fire for the kid in yellow to sprint over and drag her into cover.

She watches impotently as the aptly named Packrat stuffs shrunken crates full of supplies into his ever bulging pants and the apparent ringleader sets fire to the rest. She tries to say something, but it comes out as a ragged cough that threatens to make her black out; so she simply gasps for breath as sirens sound faintly in the distance.

Kid Jake
2019-03-29, 03:27 PM
Picking up where we left off, Tara is gasping for breath as Richard and Bradley try to resuscitate her and Ben is apparently trapped beneath a car as Smokestack, Packrat and the unidentified man in tactical armor pilfer and burn all that they tried to protect. Smokestack asks if he should kill them, but the man in tac gear shakes his head.

"Sirens are getting closer and we have what we came for. We have an appointment to keep." the man says, motioning for his men to clear out.

Tara all but blacks out as their attackers flee with full pockets, but as the sirens come to a stop nearby she feels an oxygen mask slapped to her face and she breathes deeply. She eventually sits up with the help of Bradley and Richard in time to see the massive Russian, carrying his own oxygen tank, touch the car on top of Ben and casually flip it off of the young man.

"Are you ok?" the large man asks with his thick accent.

Ben nods, fed in the face as he's scooped up. "Yeah, but my damned battery is dead....I can't move my legs."

"Battery?" Tara asks, as her and Ben are loaded in the ambulance.

Ben sighs, closing his eyes in irritation at his situation. "Yeah...I'm not like you guys. I don't actually have powers. I was...hurt and my dad worked out a deal with Luvless so I could walk again."

"Luvless?" Tara asks.

Ben turns his head. "I forget that you missed so much.... He's supposedly the smartest man in the world. He designed the Warehouse, Fanboy's lightsaber, my system...."

Tara "So he was another friend of your dad's?"

Ben smiles sadly as he lays back. "Something like that..."

They pull into the warehouse and are immediately met by Prophet trying to rally what's left of the Bradleys.

"You're back!" the old man almost shouts as he hobbles towards the ambulance. "What happened?"

"We were ambushed by the drop." Ben says, as Bradley brings a wheelchair for him.

"Ambushed?" Prophet asks incredulously. "You just gave me the all clear a few minutes ago."

The battered team look at each other before back to Prophet.

"Our comms have been down ever since you warned us about the attack on the police station." Tara says, stripping her oxygen mask off.

Prophet looks increasingly confused. "What attack? I specifically warned you not to leave the supplies unguarded. You assured me that they were protected the last time we talked."

Everybody seems even more lost at this revelation.

"We were spoofed..." Tara mutters.

Ben looks even more defeated. "We thought there was just a problem with the radio, but we were being fed directions to dismantle our defenses..."

Prophet goes pale and pulls Ben aside as Tara is rolled into the medbay to be looked over. Her injuries are minor all things considered and after a few more minutes on oxygen she's recovered enough to ask about the bike she rode in on.

Bradley says that he believes it was recovered and she asks if he could do her a favor. Remove the windshield and wrap a piece of leather around it for a grip.

He's a little surprised by the request, but agrees.

As he does that, Tara slips from the medical room and heads upstairs to find Prophet and Ben. She finds them in the lone office overlooking the ground floor.

Ben looks up at her as she enters. "Glad to see you're ok."

She shrugs. "I don't know about ok, but I'm alive. Do you know what's going on yet?"

Prophet nods. "The Warehouse is state of the art Luvtech, but our communication is still basically over the counter radios; we just don't have enough earpieces to go around. Anyone with a strong enough signal could simply key up over us and shut us out."

Tara looks surprised. "That seems like a pretty major security flaw."

Prophet shrugs exaggeratedly. "Maybe, but we didn't think anyone in town had power; let alone a functioning tower."

"We have to take it out and alert the team." Ben says with a sigh. "Which means that as much as I hate to put this on you on your first assignment, I'm going to need you to track it down and break it up. "

"Me?" Tara asks.

"Neither of us are in any shape to do anything, Bradley is nearly out of clones and Richard...err, Volt has a hard time holding a charge without a source of electricity nearby." Ben explains. "Chavenski has already volunteered, but I'd like you to back him up."

Tara sighs herself as she says "Well when you put it like that, how could I refuse?"

The only thing Prophet could tell them to narrow down their search was that the tower would most likely be up very high, but Tara reasons that it would also take quite a bit of energy to run the radio itself; so she brings Richard along to narrow it down further. Relying on the teenager's ability to sense and manipulate electricity to guide their way.

One of the last Bradley clones volunteers to drive them/staff the ambulance and they set out before they've had time to rest.

They ride in silence for a moment before Tara motions towards Chavenski's oxygen tank and asks "What happened there?"

Chavenski smiles bitterly and exposes the scarred mass of his chest. "Cowardly Italians swarmed my home with their toy soldiers. They slaughter my men and take my lung...but I get last laugh. My friend McCrow drowned the suki like rats."

Tara's surprised, but decides that delving further into that subject might be rude and instead steers the conversation back towards the task at hand.

Richard isn't even sure that he CAN sense the tower from ground level, but after about half an hour of driving around in circles he almost jumps out of his seat and points at the ruined remains of an office building.

"It's not much, but there's definitely SOMETHING up there!" the teen shouts excitedly.

The ambulance rolls to a stop and Tara, Cavenski and Richard leap out. Bradley hangs back to guard the vehicle against potential looters.

Tara checks the door, but it's locked. Before she can even relay that however, Chavenski's used his oxygen tank as a ram and smashed out the large lobby window to climb through. Tara chuckles to herself, thinking that she digs his style and climbs in after him; followed by Richard.

The climb to the top however is considerably less kind to the big Russian. His pride insists on him maintaining the lead, but she can tell from the sounds he's making that the exertion is killing him.

Richard though hangs back a bit looking nervous. His lack of charge leaving him as little more than a scrawny kid in the middle of a warzone.

The team makes as good of time to the top as they can and Tara holds a hand up for the other two to wait. Partially to give Chavenski a moment to recover without making her pity obvious and partly because somebody can clearly be heard banging on something metallic on the other side. They listen to the muffled conversation of two men for a moment before Chavenski puts his size 15s to good use and kicks open the door to reveal two men in shabby, hobo clothes huddled over the radio tower as if trying to figure out how to take the damned thing down.

They're both filthy and unkempt. One is of medium build and has a large, hooked, metallic claw growing from the back of each hand and the other is tall, and lean with ridiculously thick leg muscles.

They both turn around defensively, but with a simple gesture from Chavenski they are both brought to their hands and knees as their personal gravity is increased threefold.

"Boy, drain generator." Chavenski orders breathlessly, before motioning to the men. "Girl, questions."

Chavenski then proceeds to enjoy his oxygen for a few moments as Richard kneels next to the generator and allows the electricity to arc into himself; while Tara takes the lead in the interrogation.

"What are you two doing here?" Tara demands.

"Nothin'!" the one with the claws responds. "We weren't hurtin' nobody, just doin' a little scavvin'."

"So you're stealing this?" Tara asks in irritation.

"No!" the clawed man replies indignantly. "Just collectin' payment for the box. We ain't no thiefs."

The man with the thick legs looks at his friend and makes an "Ehh..." type of sound.

"Well we ain't stealin' this!" the clawed man clears up.

"Who gave you this then?" Tara asks.

"The man that wants the box." Claw replies with a roll of his eyes.

"What box?" Tara demands.

"The one we found in the house." he replies like it's the most natural thing in the world.

"What hou....what's in the box?" Tara asks, realizing that she almost brought a whole other line of questioning into it.

"How would I know? I ain't opened it 'ave i?" the Clawed man huffs.

"Why not?" she growls, forgetting her original point and now just curious about what he's yammering about. "Why would you sell something that you haven't even opened? What kind of scam are you running?"

"It's locked!" the Clawed man shouts back, slowly as though she's an idiot. "And he asked for it. We ain't scammin' nobody!"

"Well where can I find the man and the box?" she asks.

"None of y'er business!" the Clawed man shouts back.

Chavenski steps forward and flexes intimidatingly. "The girl asked a question." the big Russian growls.

Like lightning the man with the thick legs lashes out like he's playing kickball and sends Chavenski's oxygrn tank careening over the side of the building. The large man falls to his knees in shock, gasping for breath.

As Chavenski's concentration is broken, so is his power and the clawed man comes up with his bladed hand, narrowly missing Tara's face by inches as she stumbles back from his assault.

Chavenski crawls to the edge of the building, trying to find his tank as Tara summons what little glass is nearby (which appear to be from a couple of shattered beer bottles on the roof) into a minor whirlwind, nicking both of the scavengers numerous times.

The large legged man leaps high into the air, out of the barrage of glass and comes down with a kick to the surprised Richard's chest that knocks the kid out outright...to everyone's misfortune.

As Richard is knocked out, his gathered energy is automatically released in a massive explosion. The leaper is tossed back the way he came, Tara is knocked down however her makeshift shield stops some of the blast, Chavenski is caught by surprised and passes out from the shock and the clawed man catches the worst of the blast and suffers major burns over most of his body.

The leaper starts to stand up and catches Tara's converted windshield to the side of his head, sending him bowling over again.

"Son of a bi-" the injured leaper starts to curse before the shield slams into his chest, knocking the breath out of him.

"Wait! Wait!" he stammers, holding up his hands for peace.

Tara readies her shield to hurl again, but allows her foe to catch his breath. "Are you ready to answer my questions?" she snaps.

The man sighs as he takes a deep breath and then shouts "Nope!" as his powerful legs send him sailing through the air and towards the next building over.

"You *******!" Tara shouts back, but rather than pursue she drops down to check on Chavenski who barely seems to be breathing.

Realizing that he probably doesn't have long left at this rate, she holds her shield close to her, says a prayer and leaps off the side of the building; focusing her power (using a hero point to power stunt) she glides down to the ground below.

She doesn't even bother looking for Chavenski's tank, but instead runs to where Bradley's parked and tells him what's happening. Luckily, the ambulance comes equipped with a few spares and using the last of her hero points she uses her shield to fly back up.

As she's getting Chavenski and Richard settled, she hears the clawed man groans and her blood boils. She grabs a shard of glass and stands over him.

"Where is the man that owns this tower picking up his box?" she shouts angrily.

"I'm no snitch." the clawed man whispers defiantly.

Tara responds by stabbing him in the stomach and breaking the shard off inside. "Where?! Where is the rest of your gang!?"

"I can't..." he whispers again.

Chavenski surprises them both by grabbing the scorched man by the back of his collar and hauling him to the side of the building. As he holds the man over, the big Russian pants out "The lady asked you question. Speak or fall."

"They're family!" the man squeaks out.

"It's so brave of you to die for family." Tara says, retrieving a larger piece of glass.

"Alright...alright... The ole theater. We're holed up there..." the injured man says, eyeing Tara's shard wearily.

"My thanks." Chavenski says, releasing the man who can't even manage a scream before he splats on the concrete below.

Tara stands there slackjawed and can only think to say "I thought Ben said we weren't supposed to kill...."

Chavenski grins broadly behind his oxygen mask and holds up a finger for quiet. "Shhh. Is new rule."

They break what they can on the tower before loading Richard into the ambulance. Bradley thinks they should regroup, but Tara is convinced that the meet is happening now and neither her nor Chavenski want to risk losing a chance to ambush these guys. Especially with the leaper already en route to warn them.

The theater isn't too far off and with Chavenski using his power to let them circumvent obstacles they make good time.

The doors are locked and the lobby deserted, but before Chavenski can smash out a window Tara waves her hand and removes a section herself as silently as possible. With focus, she brings the shards with them as they creep further in.

It doesn't take long to find everyone as there seems to be quite a fight brewing already in one of the empty theaters.

"The price has already been agreed on. We've brought the supplies, now give me my box!" a familiar voice shouts angrily.

""The price was agreed on, but not met. Someone else got to the tower before we could scrap it, so no deal!" a raspy voice shouts back.

Tara and Chavenski ease open the door and inch inside to see what's going on. Stacks of boxes line the walls and two groups seem to be facing off across a large, cluttered table. A black and gold case, slightly larger than a briefcase sits between them.

One side has eight shabbily dressed men, including the leaper. The other has the man in the tactical armor from their earlier ambush and a strange short, fat little man with a blonde bowl cut.

"It's not my fault that your men are too stupid to follow directions, but the rest of the payment is here. I'm leaving with my case." the armored man says threateningly.

"We'll consider the supplies a down payment. We'll hold the case, for now, until you can come up with the rest." the raspy voiced, apparent leader, replies.

They stare each other down for a moment before the armored man sighs audibly and holds his hands up like 'what can you do' and everyone visibly relaxes. The armored man then slaps the side of his helmet and the black full face helmet suddenly glows gold and before anyone can respond he has a pistol in his other hand and has shot the leader twice in the chest.

"I should have just done this to begin with." the golden helmeted man says, irritation in his voice. "Blowhard?"

The fat little man takes a deep breath and exhales, causing the entire room to rattle as wind howls through it. Six of the remaining men are dashed against the back wall, two are killed outright by the impact. The leaper's massive legs allow him to hold out against the onslaught, however the case is also flung across the theater.

"You idiot. Get me the case!" the golden helmeted man shouts.

"I'm sorry GK!" the little man squeaks out.

The leaper leaps towards the case, snatching it up and bolting towards the closest exit.

"Chavenski, we need that case!" Tara shouts, sending her cloud of glass against Blowhard and the armored figure.

The glass does little against the body armor, however Blowhard is left a bloody mess quickly.

Chavenski exerts the full force of his power, forcing the leaper to the ground with an audible crack.

"Kill them." GK says, motioning towards our heroes as he puts a bullet in the back of the leaper's head, ensuring he isn't going anywhere with their prize.

Blowhard exhales once more and Tara's shower of glass is blown back. Chavenski and Tara both leap behind the rows of seats, escaping the worst of it.

As Blowhard takes another breath, Tara causes the glass at his feet to spring up at the man called GK. A shard slips past his armor and blood flows freely down his side as he curses and falls back towards the opposite exit for cover.

"The case!" Tara shouts before Chavenski can retaliate and the breathless Russian holds out a hand, causing the gravity of the area to shift and causing both the case and the leaper's corpse to 'fall' towards them.

With the case in hand, the two of them rush back the way they came just in time to miss the destructive gale unleashed by Blowhard behind them.

Chavenski doesn't like the idea of leaving the fight unfinished when they're so close to their enemy, but Tara reasons that so long as they have the case that they've got the upper hand going forward.

Whether it's true or not, Chavenski helps her to flee back home all the same.

"What is it?" Ben asks, after hearing the story of their little heist.

Tara shrugs. "I have no idea, but the people that hit us want it....bad."

The case is heavy and solid with a simple number pad on the front. None of them have been able to open it so far.

"We need to find someone to open then...." Ben says.

"Maybe Brick can just...you know, pop it open?" Bradley asks.

"If we don't care about what's inside." Tara replies. "Maybe it's important, maybe it's explosive?"

"Maybe we could find someone to hack it?" Ben suggests.

"We could..." Tara agrees. "But doesn't the Warehouse have a Luvtech workshop? I bet there's something in there that could cut it open without breaking what's inside."

Ben and the Bradleys look at each other for a moment and then nod.

"That could work..." Ben says.

Several Bradleys roll Ben into the workshop, accompanied by Prophet and Tara. They manage to calibrate a laser to just barely cut through the lock and inside find a simple black chest piece inside.

They look it over for a moment before Tara holds her hand out and Bradley passes it to her. As she puts it on, it closes tight and a light appears on the front. As she presses the button, she's encased in golden energy and is suddenly looking down at everyone around her.

It takes her a moment to register what's happened, but once she catches sight of herself completely clad in golden, eight foot armor she says (in a booming voice she doesn't recognize) "I can see why he wants this...."

Ben is taken by surprise. "That's...that's definitely Luvtech."

"Yeah," Tara says as she deactivates the armor. "Like your system or his helmet."

"His helmet is Luvtech?" Ben asks, worry in his voice. "So he's collecting this stuff..."

Tara stops midway through removing the chest piece. "Which would explain why he's burning what he can't carry. He's trying to starve out the market...force the current owners to part with their pieces just to eat."

"Put this under lock and key." Ben says to Bradley. "Whatever he wants it for won't be good for the rest of us."

"He knows we have it. If he knew enough to manipulate us, then I'm sure he recognized us at the meet. What do we do?" Tara asks.

Ben digs his fingers into his numb legs as he mutters "Prepare for war..."