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.


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