Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Episode 23 - Rat Patrol - Part 1

Jack Flash decides to remain in Africa to study New Rome, and its strange survivors. The rest of the team returns to the US and finds that some elements of history appear to have changed, but because the history books themselves have changed, it is a challenge to figure out what. It would appear a sort of mashing together of the two time-lines occurred. The world is fine, there are no Nazi invaders from alternate dimensions, things seem fine.

Hephaestus begins work on his suit, and begins to expand his interests outside the lab. He volunteers to help with technical issues at Blackstone Isle, and he is researching a low cost, fuel efficient, environmentally friendly vehicle engine.

C4 is trying to develop his career as a comedian. Whereas Marduk was able to turn his fame as a Super Hero into gold as a Reality TV personality, C4's comic personality has been more off putting to the people. Marduk's mission reinforces his identity as an indestructible hero, C4's comedy worries those who his power in the hands of a lunatic. Despite his notoriety in the world of super heroes, he has yet to make a splash in the world of comedy. Still, using contacts with Marduk, he has managed to get in some comedy shows mostly on the local college circuit. That night he opens a club before the bands. The audience is mixed, but show some interest. Perhaps, C4 is slowly garnering a cult following.

Marduk took a break from his shows and super-heroing to find his methods and name being ridiculed by peers in several journals. They poo poo his work as slapshot and ultimately dangerous to real archeology. When he looked at his own recent work, he realized that it was not up par. So for the last few nights, he's been locked in his ill-used faculty office updating his research and gtting his methodologies up to scruff.

His attention is, once again, drawn from his work to the streets below where in the shadow of a political protest, a sewer worked is pulled from a manhole with serious injuries. Investigating this, he finds out that the water system has been damaged. While exploring with a utility worker, they are briefly separated and the other man is attacked by hundreds of rats. They drag him deeper in the sewers, until Mardul manages to wrestle him free.

Seeing this unusual event gets Marduk to call in the Immortals who show up quickly. They explore the sewers and find an entire section of the underground system that has been untouched by man for decades. Then they encounter another group of hostile rats, Marduk thinks he sees the rats communicating in some way. Despite their numbers, in the hundreds, the team is able to easily disrupt them so that they can move unmolested. They spot a couple places where the rats have burrowed into the solid foundations of building, and created additional tunnels to the surface and other parts of the sewer system. Working their way through the sewers they come across a bloody scene. Hundreds of dead and dying rats, and the body of a severely injured alley cat. Acting on a hunch they take the rat to the surface and a nearby veterinary health building. There, they witness the cat rapidly heal the wounds it received fighting the rats. In minutes it is fine, if a bit rough around the edges.

Assuming this to be HyperCat (the superpowered feline) they try to communicate with it. But, the HyperCat is a solitary being, you could no more hold the wind. As soon as it was able it fled the scene. The team put up a brief chase, but the HyperCat was gone before they could trace it.

The team returned to the scene of the HyperCat's battle and found more evidence of burrowing. Using his shapeshifting powers, C4 was able to explore the tunnel, and then Marduk and Hephaestus cut their way into the sub-basement the tunnel led to. There they followed a path of destruction and evidence of countless rats. They found an unconscious security guard and some frightened scientists hiding out in a lab. But it wasn't until the traced the intruder to the locked vault of the agri-science building basement, home, they assumed to the Experimental Super-Food, that they came across the Rat King and a cohort of normal rats. The Rat King appeared to working on the lock to enter the building. It stood on its grotesque hind legs ten feet tall. Its body was a mass of half melded rat bodies, still writhing and moving on its surface. A hundred eyes staring off in all directions, a hundred mouths biting and anything that got near them. Its arms, head and tail a parody of normal anatomy. It was the embodiment of horror.

Needless to say, a fight ensued. Luck was not on the side of the Immortals. Their blows seemed to have little effect on the Rat King, and the fight progressed. The team tried teaming up, but the Rat King proved a match for them. It also summoned two more allies, Huge Rats the size of elephants, no doubt the product super food enhancement (probably from another source in the building). These enormous creatures struggled with the team, and for a moment they turned their attention from the Rat King to deal with his allies. When they turned back they saw it had opened the vault and begun entering. Hephaestus, dropped his fight with the giant rats and barreled into the Rat King. Sadly, his blows seemed to be just absorbed by the body of the hideous creature, and then in a surprise turn, its rodent filled body sucked in the struggling form of Hephaestus. The other Immortals looked in horror as the armored juggernaut was absorbed into the Rat King.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Post Episode 22 - Ape-ologue

Rather than play out the meeting with the Mandrills from the end of the last adventure. I think I would like to script a little of that, and move on to the next adventures. So, feel free to post any questions you'd like answered and discuss any plans you might have with this new development. But, barring any glaring concerns we will be moving on, for Episode 23.

SCENE: Banks of the Ubangi River
The Mandrill looked at the team, and its prisoner the Super Mandrill.
Mandrill Trajan: "I am Trajan of New Rome, is this our patriarch Marcus Aurelius?"
Jack Flash: "This is the criminal Marcus Aurelius. One who conspired with the worst of mankind to destroy us all."
Mandrill Trajan: "So it is. Our prophecies told us, he might return one day. I am not a believer in such things, but here he is."
Marduk "What do you want of us. We can't surrender him to you, and you'd do better to reject him, he is a petty villain, nothing more."
Super Mandrill: "Don't listen to their human lies. They mean to enslave you like they did me and countless others like us."
Mandrill Trajan: "We know much of slavery. The human slaves you forced to work in the uranium mines, the apes you doused in radioactive powders or lobotomized to be your compliant slaves. And we need not go into the experiments with the drugs you employed on all of them, as well as our cousins the baboons and mandrills. If you are our Adam, we know of Original Sin."
Super Mandrill: "I did nothing that wasn't done to us. Don't be a fool. Pacifism and Guilt are the tools of subjugation and humiliation. Give me the chance to plead my case, I am sure you will see the light. Surely, you must grant me this...I made you!"
Mandrill Trajan: "You did make us. But we are more than what you made of us. We've evolved. For years our ancestors lives in the tunnels and caves kept isolated by radiation and cave-ins. Somehow, some of them, my parents among them, managed to survive. Perhaps it was the various drugs you gave them to enhance their minds, and repair their bodies. But they survived the bombing, and the aftermath. The mine became the refuge to many primates, and at first there were conflict. No one was sure what to do with ourselves. We had intelligence, we had technology, but we had no purpose. Without our leader, we were adrift. The absurdity of the situation was clear. We knew that among the lies Marcus Aurelius told us, were many truths. That humans would not tolerate us as competitors, or colleagues. So we hid, and chose our wisest to lead us. We also found other primates who moved into the area were affected by the radiation. Many of those also felt the mutagenic effects of the radiation, and soon we have a multispecies society, we lived in peace, and we prospered in our own isolation, eventually we came to laugh at our predicament. We live in peace with the apes, and with some men in the area. We are at peace with all who can laugh."
C4: "You're gonna love me. Stop me if you've heard this one: What's black and white and has sixteen wheels? A capuchin wearing roller skates!"
Mandrill Trajan (Letting out a frightening howl): "A capuchin wearing roller skates? Can you imagine the pandemonium?" (He slaps C4 on the back leaving an impression in the latter's plastic skin.)
Super Mandrill: "Are you serious? You find that funny?"
Mandrill Trajan: "Humor is the apex of evolution, and even surrealist humor is a step."
C4: "How many surrealists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? A fish!"
Mandrill Trajan:(Chuckling) "Yes yes, let us not descend into the maze of lightbulb jokes, we might lose ourselves too long."
Jack Flash: "We want the Super Mandrill to face justice for his crimes, which are many. Will you stop us?"
Mandrill Trajan: "No. But we do ask you consider his unique situation, and his inadvertent creation. Our society is peaceful and just, and when the wall of forest and radiation falls, we hope you are ready for us."
Hephaestus: "You don't want the world to know of you?"
Mandrill Trajan: "I don't think they would get the joke. But I will answer any questions you have, in exchange for your discretion."

Trajan proceed to give the team a brief tour of the complex which was bombed out of recognition. They discover that the depopulation of the area, coupled with a mythology about intelligent apes and monkeys have kept this area very isolated. In the jungles, and now cleared mines, these primates have built a small kingdom.

Feel Free to post further responses or questions..
The various time paradoxes are fair game, but don't expect a single answer there.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Episode 22: Heart of Darkness (Ape-ocalypse Now)

The Immortals find themselves going down the Uele River from Uganda to the Congo. They come upon a deserted town at the meeting with the Ubangi river. Evidence points to a forced march out of the town. Then sneak up the Ubangi towards the compound of the Super Mandrill. They scout ahead and find a major mining and smelting operation. The central point of the base is a massive 60ft tall sculpture of a mandrill carved into the face of the cliff. They have to decide between stealth and a direct attack, they choose an all out assault. C4 starts a distraction using the booby-traps on one side of the camp, Hepheastus does a fly over to take out their communications and other electronics, Marduk and Jack Flash lead the frontal assault.
The battle is begun. The Super Mandrill's Gorilla Guerillas take up defensive positions. One group holds some captive slaves at gun point, and after being attacked, they fire on the helpless laborers. C4 interposes his body and selflessly sucks up several hits. Jack Flash pelts the group with machine gun stones.
Meanwhile Marduk has taken care of the towers, and Hephaestus destroyed their cliff top radio and radar systems. Marduk and Jack Flash lead the liberated slaves away from the camp while C4 and Hephaestus keep pressing the fight into the mine and cliff-side systems. A door in the cliff opens and reveals the glowing form of a half dozen radioactive dust coated, gas mask wearing gorillas, the Atomic Apes. With every punch or kick, a cloud of glowing uranium dust flies into the air, weakening and sickening the unprotected around them.
Together the team defeats the Atomic Apes with a combination of attacks and distractions. Then, as things are looking up and the team looks to move into the mine itself, the very walls shake as the carved image of the mandrill seems to rumble to life. The Massive Mandrill Machine is an enormous tank-like thing with huge fifty foot long treads, armored plating, capped by the torso, arms and head of a sinister simian. It demonstrates its power by breathing a beam of fiery radiation on the team, stunning, or staggering everyone in its path.
Its hide is inches thick armor plating, its multiple engines make it incredibly strong, its weapons are horrible in scope. The team gangs up on the colossus but fails to have a big impact on the titanic robot. The Super Mandrill, piloting the machine cackles taunts and promises to destroy the team.
Then the team changes tactics and focuses on getting inside the machine through alternative means. C4 exhausts himself but slips into the exhaust system. Hephaestus and Jack Flash work together to remove a massive treelike limb, and Jack scrambles inside the gaping hole where the arm was once attached. Marduk continues to make himself a target and slice away at the armor plates on the torso. Eventually C4 reached the end of the exhaust system and using all his might, he exploded into the machine. The blast disrupts one of the machine's engines and gets C4 deep in its bowels. Jack Flash discovers the Super Mandrill's escape pod rocket engine, and manages to deactivate its ignition. As the fight begins to come to a head, C4 attaches himself to what appear essential engines in the vessel, and using a loose wire he ignites his entire body. The ensuing explosion rocks the colossal machine and causes fires to erupt from all gaps. Seconds later, Marduk finally cuts his way into the hull and finds the remains of C4 splattered about the engine-room.
Jack Flash narrows avoids being sprayed by rocket fuel as the Super Mandrill attempts an escape, but with no ignition, the fuel simple sprays out the rocket's cone. The fuel pools in the hull separated from the growing blaze by only one quickly heating bulkhead. He quickly exits the torso and rushes to help Marduk collect the remains of C4. Hephaestus is able to capture the escaping Super Mandrill with his own creation's massive claw. The team moves to safety and the Massive Mandrill Machine explodes with an enormous mushroom cloud of radioactive dust and fire.
The team moves to safety, C4 recovers consciousness, and the team calls in an air strike to demolish the remains of the complex. The American Bombers begin to arrive just as the team crosses their fingers and activates the Time Gate.

They appear in the exact same place.. but it has aged. The great road is overgrown with jungle, there is no smoke in the air. But, as they begin to assure themselves that they are back in their time, another Mandrill appears on the edge of the jungle. It approaches cautiously, and tells the captive SuperMandrill that he looks familiar.