Friday, September 01, 2006

Episode 5: Monkey Business

The team has begun training together, learning their strengths and weaknesses, and working together as a team. Reflecting on an ancient Chinese legend, the team choses to call themselves The Immortals. After some intensive training, they head back to their normal lives for a bit. Jack Flash decides to beat the high cost of airfair by running to Florida for a brief vacation. Torrent goes back to her home and draws a line in the sand against the various gangs there. Steel Dragon returns to his secret identity to attend the Jovian Products unveiling. There he feels the strangely lively energies from the EVA machines gathered there. Marduk, returns to his secret identity to attend and cover the press conference at the zoo, where he learns of the strange case of rabies to hit the primate habitats. Intrigued he and another reporter press for more information. He finds out later that the other reporter was Dean Fastow, the columnist for Super Hype. Fastow seems to have guessed that James is in fact Marduk. James decides to confess this to the man. They agree to a plan to reveal his identity to the public at James's perogative, but exclusively to Fastow. After that Marduk decides the case of the rabid apes needs more scrutiny.
He assembles the team (minus Jack Flash) to survey the zoo and see what they can find out. They see a number of body bags being loaded onto a refrigerated container truck. That scene looked suspicious. Why would the Zoo be killing Apes and transporting them under the cover of darkness? They decide to split up, Marduk and Steel Dragon follow the truck, Torrent stays behind to get some evidence from the scene.
Marduk and Steel Dragon leap onto the container truck, and Steel Dragon decides to slow it down so that they can get a look inside. He causes the engine to seize up and the truck squeals to a stop. Meanwhile Marduk knocks out the driver and guard, assuming them to be part of the nefarious plot. As Steel Dragon convinces the seals and locks on the truck to open up, Marduk realizes the "thugs" driving the truck are in fact US Navy men with CDC badges. He begins to worry that things were not as they seemed. Steel Dragon gains access to the truck and discovers the apes and monkeys inside. As he moves through them he spies a single Mandrill body as well, and as he tries to remove if from the truck, he is startled as he feels it stirring. He had assumed that it was dead, and at this stage isn't sure what to make of it.
Meanwhile, Torrent witnesses another CDC person sterilize the loading dock, and takes a moment to sneak in and grab a small piece of plastic (the wrapping of one of the ape bodies) with a little blood inside. With her evidence, she decides to catch up with the other Immortals. When she arrives she can hear sirens (probably the police) getting closer.
Realizing the situation does not look good, the team decides to act fast, Steel Dragon and Marduk tip over the truck to make it look like an accident. And try to abscond with the Mandrill. But it is too late, by the time they get out of the truck, the police have arrived. Luckily Marduk is able to take command of the situation and convince the Police that they are rescuing the animals from the truck accident. When a representative of the Zoo arrives, he indicates that the Mandrill is not Marcus Aurelius, but another mandrill named "Mingus." With the situation apparantly under control, the Immortals make their leave, returning to the Academy to discuss the situation.
There is some discussion about how they need to make some plans and set some protocols or something to prevent the unintentional injury to innocents. This might require some sacrifices of the element of surprise or even prohibit secretive operations, but without taking those steps they would become more vigilantes than heroes. But the Immortals are not given much time to reflect on the meaning of heroism, there is a still a mystery to be unraveled.
Through the night, Steel Dragon analyzes the blood sample and discovers that it is a mixture of bloods and other chemicals, as though someone concocted a cocktail of Mandrill blood and performance enhancing drugs (Steroids, Ritalin, Caffeine and others) for some unknown purpose.
The next day the team decides to investigate the primate lab and get to the bottom of all this. When they arrive they come upon a crime scene. The place is surrounded by police, and the rumor is the entire lab, and all of the scientists are gone. No one knows whether they were kidnapped, or were part of the plot.
They spy a bemused looking janitor, who for some cigarette money, agrees to tell what he knows. The scientists were blackmailed by Marcus Aurelius to help him escape from the zoo. Apparantly they were already engaged in the illegal sale of exotic animals from the zoo, and so were easily blackmailed. The only thing he knew about their plans was that they were going to meet somewhere called "the Farm."
They also found in the trash from the site a bunch of video cassettes with old Zoo Promos and Commercials feature Marcus Aurelius as the buffoonish character to represent the Zoo. He was dressed up in various costumes and put in humiliating situations, his 'ugliness' being the butt of the joke. The team surmised that this might be the source of Super Mandrill's anger.
They did some search work to find any farms owned by any of the primatologists, or under going increased power surges, to no avail. But their search was cut short by a breaking news story.

Apparantly a Naval Weapons Supply Train heading out of Franklin was turned around and was now speeding towards the main train station. They recognized the color scheme as matching the container that housed the apes and baboons from the zoo. They donned the new costumes they had ordered the previous week,and prepared to intercept the train.


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