Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Episode 27 - Super Challenge

The Immortals are challenged by the federally sponsored US Patriots to a friendly 'scrimmage' to create some good publicity and help the teams keep in practice. As the teams neared the day of the challenge the Immortals prepared. They were sent schematics of the site the event was to take place, and Hephaestus promised to read up on it to prepare for the event.
He was also looking forward to meeting with a representative from GM about funding research into an electric car operating on principles he developed for his battle armor.
The day of flight out, Hephaestus awoke in a pool of sweat with a massive hangover. He looked at the documents and saw that he had barely scratched the surface of the massive technical tome. He did manage to polish off a bottle of Jack though. And he wished he didn't. A little hair of the dog, and he was up and about trying to catch up before the flight out. Checking through his voice mail, he had a message from yesterday wondering why he missed his meeting with GM. He didn't know how he did it.
But when he looked at his notes to self littering his work desk, and his memos on the computer, he saw several emphatic messages about completing his proposal, and meeting with the GM reps. How he misses the meeting he didn't know. Clearly, he had messed up. He went to his stash of liquor and put two bottles in the trash, he was done with alcohol. He got dressed ruing the prospect of a six hour flight to Las Vegas. He retrieved on the bottles from the trash, just to make the flight tolerable, he rationalized.

The team arrived in Nevada, at the site of the decommissioned Seismic Converter Plant. They met Dr. Marsden briefly who seemed intent on rescuing some of his equipment from the plant before the team was allowed into stage their games. They also met the US Patriots for the first time. The teams waited a bit for Marsden and the rest of the staff to finish clearing out his work, before beginning the games. The coin toss, made them the 'terrorists' trying to plant the 'bomb.' They considered plans, but decided ultimately a pretty straight forward strategy. They would ram the truck carrying the bomb through the gates and press the fight to the Patriots.
Before they could be begin, the Super Patriot was contacted about a small security breach, and decided since the US Patriots outnumbered the Immortals, he would go check it out, while they began.

The games ensued. DragonFly drove the truck head long through the gates of the complex and right at the main doors guarded by Tank. Marduk sped ahead and attempted to shove Tank through the doors. He hit the mechanical behemoth, and was stopped cold. The truck barreled into the two of them, Marduk dodged to the side, and the Tank was hit dead on. The truck too was stopped dead in its tracks, a pile of twisted metal with the Tank barely scratched.

The fight was enjoined. Minute Man and Jack Flash seemed well matched, Minute Man a little faster than Jack, but Jack a more able combatant. Hephaestus fought Lady Liberty who proved nearly as tough as he, but unable to deliver the punch needed to penetrate his armor. Marduk was vexed by the odd powers of creation exhibited by the American Dreamer who simply willed things, animals or images into existence. DragonFly was able to vex the American Dreamer with repeated harrying attacks, but somehow, the man who made dreams come true seemed to keep coming back.
The Immortals got the upper hand when they knocked out Minute Man, and kept American Dreamer on the defensive. Only Tank seemed immune to their assault, but even he was beginning to see some damage. The US Patriots showed some strategies and pre=planning with a couple coded attack sequences, one of which relied on American Dreamer girding himself from one of Tanks attacks, and Tank sending an area blast across the battle field.
By the time American Dreamer was finally knocked out, Hephaestus, though blinded by Lady Liberty was telekinetically grappling the unconscious Minute Man (for cover) and though himself grappled it looked like the Immortals had the day.

Marduk had pulled the 'bomb' into the building, and taking it down to the 3rd floor. He was surprised to see that there were a number of machines at work, as though the installation was actually operational. Nervous about the situation he pulled back into the elevator. Then as it was moving up, he saw a figure dart in the shadows. He used his great strength to pull open the doors a crack and wedged his arm into the gap stopping the elevator.

Just then a massive earthquake hit the area. Both teams realizing that this was not right immediately stopped their fight and joined forces to uncover the cause. Jack Flash acted quickly to get Minute Man and American Dreamer to safety. The others piled into the complex. Tank held open the elevator shaft doors, as DragonFly, Lady Liberty and Hephaestus flew down to join Marduk. Meanwhile Marduk had his arm sprayed with acid and pulled it loose so the elevator doors shut and the elevator began to lift. The team stopped the elevator, and cut through the floor of the lift, pulled open the doors to the 3rd floor and searched the area. Hephaestus saw that the system was out of tuning and causing greater earthquakes rather than absorbing the energy as it was supposed to. Noticing the automatic tuning controls were non-functional, and worried about the constant earthquakes hitting the facility, he acted quickly slamming the emergency shut off button and shutting down power to the site. Rather than stop the earthquakes, this seemed to actually increase them.
Marduk, who has some expertise in the Earth Sciences inferred that the technology used to capture the seismic energy must be locked into the 'on' position, and now without power to tune the device, it was going to overload and cause greater and greater quakes until it was destroyed.
The two figured that they might be able to disable those control rods manually by descending to the lowest level and removing them manually. The team flew down the elevator shaft illuminated by the intense light from Lady Liberty's torch, and entered the bottom level. There, they spotted Dr. Marsden, still there, his hands locked onto two manual control levels. His body vibrating in an unearthly way. They could almost hear his brain rattling against his skull from the vigorous shaking.
Together the team was able to knock Marsden from the the apparatus, though it was several minutes later before he stopped shaking. They also got into the machinery and succeeded at gumming up the works enough that the machine suffered a catastrophic failure and seized up. There was one last major ripping sound, then silence. They were able to leave the hopelessly ruined facility with the catatonic Marsden in tow.
The two speedsters on the surface had meanwhile discovered that Super Patriot had not returned from his investigation of the security breech, and was not answering his comm. Together they searched the area in record time. Each using his abilities to cover a vast stretch of terrain. They saw signs of a struggle, and a number of strange rocks which resembled Event Fulgerites. Of course, there were no other signs of another Event, but the Patriot was gone, and this was the only thing remaining.
They returned to the observation base and shared their information with the teams. Later they discovered that the finger prints on the aerosol acid were those of Dr. Marsden who must have used it against Marduk, then quickly headed to the 5th level. What caused him to do it, and why, is unknown.
Dr. Marsden was still in a catatonic state when last they heard. His brain had been beaten against his skull hundreds of times. Whatever secrets this genius possessed were trapped in his addled brain, probably for eternity.

The contest all but forgotten, the teams bade each other goodbye. The US Patriots went to track down their lost colleague, the Immortals returned to Freedom City.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Epsiode 26 - Lab Retrievers

In an effort to distract themselves from the death of C4, the Immortals busy themselves with a variety of activities.
Marduk found a graveyard of rusty cars and trucks on the property of the Mansion, he regularly visits the site, ostensibly to "clean-up" the area. This involves mostly pounding, tearing and twisting the decaying hulks with his great strength until they are compacted into formless unrecognizable lumps.
Hephaestus divides his time between revamping the suit from scratch, and cleaning up the county of its alcohol stores. Whether intoxicated by the intricacies of his new armor, or from more mundane sources, Hephaestus is distant from the goings on of the group.
Jack Flash, has appeared to move on quickly to acceptance of the situation. It is a dangerous business, and it is likely people will die. Despite convincing himself that he wasn't overly affected by the incident, he finds himself at the Blackstone Isle morgue checking up on the body of his friend Beau Rubino, preserved for science in the cold freeze of the island prison. Wanting to tie up other loose ends in his new life, he investigates the mind-controller that took possession of the various team members on the day Rubino was killed. He wondered perhaps if there was a connection.
While researching the prison records to discover the events that lead to both incidents he saw a familiar name creep up in some accounts, the law firm of Kennon, Mackensie, and Sussex. Running a check he discovered that this form, which deals primarily with corporate business and government work had also done 56 pro-bono cases for appeals of life or long term imprisonment. Further study revealed that all of the appeals were partially successful getting their clients moved to programs in lighter security facilities (almost all privately run) from the maximum and medium security prisons they were in originally.
Jack Flash decides to check out a couple of these facilities, one after another he discovers that they do not, in fact, exist at the addresses listed in the court papers. He decides to go to court and investigate this. He is a little disheartened to see the District Judge who signed off on the papers, hobnobbing with none other than Samantha Sussex (The Priestess). He keeps himself hidden until she leaves, and then he talks to the judge. Judge Rollins seems somewhat dubious of Jack Flash's evidence, and more inclined to to trust his long time associates than the upstart hero. Still, he promises to pursue it with them and discover the problem. Jack leaves unsatisfied.
Meanwhile, Hephaestus took some of the information Jack gave him, and using his considerable computer talents, ran a search to find any similarities between the cases other than obvious ones. The main thing he discovered was that all 56 cases employed the same transport service to move the prisoners: National Transporters Unlimited, located in rural Farmville NC. Hephaestus and Jack Flash visited the site, and talked with a worker who verified that they did transport prisoners. On a hunch Hephaestus did a sensor sweep of the area, and discovered something else, a radar signal which they tracked to a nearby pig farm (Romita Farms). With a little more investigation this determined this was one highly secure pig farm with an extensive subterranean construction. They summoned Marduk and launched an attack.
Jack Flash made a distraction by unleashing hundreds of swine, while the others stormed the front of the farm house. The team quickly took care of the various guards, which proved to be TAROT swords. Then, inside the house which resembled a science lab more than a farm house, they encountered Samantha Sussex. Before they could deal with her, she duplicated into ten versions of herself. And a fight ensued.
She was agile and tough, taking a blow from Marduk, and dodging a blow of Hephaestus.
Then she turned herselves to the attack. Combining their mental might they blasted the team with mental attacks. The team was reeling from the effects, when one touched Marduk and disappeared. They discovered soon that she had in fact possessed the God of War, and now the tide had really turned. Marduk surprised Hephaestus with a powerful blow, knocking him into a wall. And the rest of the duplicates continued to combine their powers on the team.
Eventually Marduk broke free from the thrall of the Priestess and the team was able to escape the trap. They recovered a good distance away and learned that the Priestess had left the facility and set the place to blow up. Realizing that there
were likely many criminals and Tarot members still in the building, they rushed to evacuate the building.
Once in the lower levels they were surprised yet again to be attacked by a minuscule opponent, Dragon Fly blasting them with powerful bursts of microwave energy. They also encountered what appeared to be Sussex again. A fight and chase ensued and eventually "Sussex" was disabled, and Dragon Fly, reverted to normal size. Moved by the Immortals concern for the unconscious Susan, he made a truce with the Immortals. They went about evacuating the rest of the scientists and rescued Susan's father, Dr.Hands Wierschaus, the noble prize winning geneticist responsible for Dragon Fly's powers, and Susan's father. They encountered him in sub-basement filled with strange tubes, almost everyone containing the dead body of a convict, partially mutated by the Doctor's experiments.
As they escaped the site, they saw it implode and sink into a massive sink hole pulling with it thousands of squealing pigs. The lab, and its mysteries were buried beneath soil, earth and sewage.
On the way to the mansion to care for Susan, the Doctor confesses he was responsible for using mutant pig stem cells in 'volunteer' prisoners to produce a variety of mutations. One of his early experiments was to clone his daughter in hopes of saving her from a degenerative disease. He was too successful, not only did he produce a near identical twin (except for a healthy dose of mutant pig DNA), she was able to provide the tissues Susan needed to live, and survive herself. And she possessed powers far in excess of what the Doctor expected, the ability to instantly 'clone' herself, and mental powers as well. In addition to her abilities she also differed from Susan with a mean streak and amoral attitude on life. She was taken by the TAROT and given her own identity, and quickly found a place in the hierarchy of the mysterious group.
Once they were certain Susan was stable they began to talk about the future. Dragon Fly expressed his desire to make up for his own wrongdoings, and try to rescue some small good from the sacrifice of the fifty prisoners killed to produce the likes of him. Dragon Fly joined the ever changing ranks of the Immortals.
One Power Point for All.