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Shikarr

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Posts posted by Shikarr

  1. Re: Star*Drive Hero

     

    I don't have a conversion really either but I ran a Hero game based off of Star Drive for about a year. Just made the tech stuff up as I went along. I will look at my notes and see if I still have it. It ran well and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

  2. Re: Speeding things up

     

    I have had combats that have been very drawn out in the past and I am sure I shall in the future also. Nature of the beast overall, but I have done considerable time saving on my combats. And here are the methods I use.

     

    1. Make up good combat charts. I use hero designer and several different templates of the Combat Records to have a Standard chart, offensive chart, defensive chart, movement chart, and disadvantages chart. I run Firefox on my laptop during the games and have the charts loaded in under different tabs.

     

    2. Get a good dice rolling program you like. I went through several and am still open for a better one although I useRPG Dice 2.0 for my villains but not my players. Also do have a set of prerolled 3d6's for those misc skill rolls for the villains. I also have about 10 prerolled skill rolls from each of the players that I use for those perception rolls and such.

     

    4. A combat sequencer program can help also.

     

    5. Limit the time people get to act. I usually don't bring out the little minute glass timer but there are always times that people just fart around some times. At those times the little timer comes out.

     

    6. While using a dice rolling program for all rolls does speed up combat it does diminish my players feelings of involvement in the game so I will not recommend that.

     

     

    These steps have helped speed combat up quite a bit and make it move along well. Also I also usually go along with the general mook hit rule. A mook is generally knocked out from any decent hit from my players, although this does not apply to the supervillains.

     

     

    Hope those help out.

  3. Re: Telios Long term plan

     

    The experiment idea is one I am basically working on. Some type of long term large pool gene experiment. Just need an idea of what he might do with it or what he might try to establish. After all the world might not like being his breeding stock or eperimental subjects, but what might he try or do is the question. Alas I am at a loss on that in general.

  4. Alright guys I have started a few things with Telios in the past but am now thinking of coming up with a long term subtle plan for the campaign for him. For those that don't know who Telios is, he is a genetics and biological mastermind type character. So I would like some suggestions for a long term goal for such a character that is achievable in say 20 yrs or so. So far one idea I have came up with is that he has influenced world food markets to dump bio engineered food in places that need food badly and inserted a dormant gene in it. When the gene is established sufficiently he will send out the triger for it to activate. Haven't figured out what that gene might do yet but that is one preliminary idea.

     

    What else might the fans of Herodom come up with? Trying for subtlety and long term that may be stumbled accross by my intrepid hero group.

  5. Re: TSR Alternity

     

    I ran a hero based game off of Alternity for a while a few years ago. It is a rich setting and can be very space opera-ish which of course was why I liked it so much. I will check and see if I still have my conversion notes for it.

  6. Re: Anyone done a Riftwars Hero

     

    I would definitely be interested in what you came up with. I am thinking of starting up another fantasy hero game and a riftwar one would be quite enjoyable I would think. Either that or a Wheel of Time one. Although I have done a Wheel of Time hero game before. I think a Riftwar one would be more fun.

  7. Re: All the superhero PCs I've ever played

     

    Super Squirrel - V&V - Super Strong Flying Squirrel (Just don't ask please)

    Bolt - Champions - Electrical Elementalist

    Shrike - Champions - Batman type

    Gray Ninja - Champions - Mystical Ninja Ghost

    Slant - Champions - Cyborg

    Johnathan Prey - Dark Hero - Ex special Forces

    Vengence - Champions -

    Katana - Dark Champions then regular champions - Very Skilled Modern Ninja

    Quickstrike - Champions Villain - Powered Armor

    Deathstrike - Champions villain - More Lethal Powered Armor

    Brack- Fantasy Hero - Barbarian

    Sr. Whellium - Fantasy Hero - Wizard

    Omega - Champions- Mentalist

    SCAIDE - Champions - AI Robot

     

    This is a list of mine overall not in any specific order. Been playing and Game mastering for a long time so it is a ver incomplete list.

  8. Re: Decent Brick Trick?

     

    Actually I have always allowed bricks to catch large heavy things thrown at them if they had the strength to do so. I use it as a block. the same with anyone who wanted to try and catch things that they should logically have a chance to do. There are always some negatives to the roll but they would have a chance. The most recent example in my campaign was a power suited character with a saved action. A ninja type threw a knife at him. He wanted to catch it instead of just blocking or dodging so I let him try with a negative 4 for the roll. The lucky guy rolled a 3 and caught the knife. then saying it wasn't nice to play with knives and broke the knife on his next action as part of a presence attack. the Ninja was suitably impressed and ran away to fight another day.

  9. Re: The 4400

     

    I do hope they continue it also. and thank you all here for alerting me to it, I wouldn't have known about it at all if someone hadn't brought it up here and I went looking for it. Got them all on Tape on the Marathon day. :hail::hail:

  10. Re: XP....how much per session....?

     

    I admit to being one of the stingy people for exp. We play every other sunday overall and the game has went on for about 13 months so far. The range in experience so far per character has been about 20 for the lowest and about 52 for the highest. Keep in mind however that most of the players don't show up for all games as unfortunately real life intervenes wiith work schedules and such but the core group of 3 players are usually there. Just going on the core group the range is about 40 for the lowest and 52 for the highest. I give out experience at the end of an adventure or if running a lot of sub plots at a time every other gameing session. It works out to about 1-2 occasionally 3 per session. I have been gamemastering hero since 1987 and this overall works for me. But as is always the case Mileage may vary. The way I run it for spending experience is for the characters to make up a wish list every few adventures. If it is something they did, could learn, do, or practice at it is usually easy for them to buy the skill. New powers or advantages to powers are always bought with heavy activation rolls or limitations that if used during the game can then be bought off. All of this allows time for me to adjust the game in a good way instead of being blindsided at a game when a character suddenly shows up with a new power that I forgot about. Not saying by any means that I haven't been blindsided by a power that a character has that I haven't taken into account in an adventure, but I do try to minimize that. :stupid: But generally xp's are awarded in a slow manner in my games. So that is how I do experience and such in mine. Hope that helps out/

  11. Question for the Gallery again. I am looking for all software to speed my game along. Hopefully free or shareware but if it is good I want to know about it. Software to help resolve combats in hero, the best dice roller anyone has run across, Game journaling programs or note taking ones that work well for quick notes in game.

     

    So basically the question is I would like to take as much of the mechanics off the players as possible with software on my laptop, leaving them the ability to roleplay unfettered so to speak. What software works best for this while still using the Hero system rules?

  12. Re: Campaign Notes so far

     

    **Actually Menton is one of the 4 reasons that telepaths have grave difficulties in the game yes.

     

     

     

    **Of course they have. After all they are a personal type journal.

     

     

    **Probably true. At least I suspect that is one of the reasons. Of course his character is a tad psychotic as well

     

    **Very true also the enormous debate that went on for that she seems to have minimized a great deal in her entry, but in truth there was much wiggling and coniving by all to check every aspect of it out. In the game world several Superheroes did just stop or go rogue but that is being dealt with in a manner off camera so to speak. :)

     

    Some thoughts upon reading the thread so far....

     

    No telepaths, yet Menton exists. Either he's the one eliminating the competition, or he's figured out how not to be zapped. Hm.

     

     

    I have to wonder if the character's political prejudices have influenced the way the campaign notes are written, or vice versa.

     

     

    Slate obviously has the hots for Frostfire, and she hasn't noticed yet.

     

     

    If this were a commercial comic book, I'd be very disappointed that all the characters caved so easily on the "must disclose everything to the state government" rule. (As a RPG campaign, I can understand the players not wanting to have to come up with new characters.)

     

     

    I'd like to see more followup on that last one, actually. An angry hero or two calling a press conference to announce their retirement in disgust, a superteam suddenly being very short-handed, opposition politicians making hay....

     

    After all, it's a *state* law, so the information would be going into a state database, much more easily accessible by VIPER or VOICE than the Federal one (which is only safe by fiat, as far as I can tell.) If the GM is uncomfortable with presenting the consequences of such a database raid on the player characters, I'd suggest having it happen in one of the other states mentioned that had passed a similar law.

  13. Re: Campaign Notes so far

     

    And the newest installment

     

     

    June 29, 2003

    I firmly believe I am living under the Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times,†but then again it seems to be the curse that all heroes live under, otherwise how could they become heroes? Today started out with a simple trip to pick up Geiger from Father O’Malley’s tender care and ended with running into Viper.

     

    I had gotten up around 10, much later than my usual 5 am rise for workout and morning labs. I felt disoriented and groggy; apparently I wasn’t the only one reluctant to get up early after last night’s excursion into alternate reality hell. The rest of the team straggled in and out of the common rooms yawning with mumbles of “good morningâ€.

     

    I started a new experiment in the DNA sampler, incorporating some of the ideas given to me at the news conference and the idea Tellios gave me a few days ago. The sequences will take 72 to 120 hours to run but it will be interesting to see what comes out in the wash. Nothing like a new experiment to get the blood flowing in the morning!

     

    While under the psychiatric care of Dr. Goodwater she suggested that I try and find a place where I could relax, a mediation spot, to help me stay focused and relaxed, I’m supposed to set aside at least 1 or 2 hours where I do nothing, well nothing in particular at least, just relax. The first day of therapy, we had talk about how much stress I was under, how being new to command had started wearing away at my peace of mind. Apparently I’m not alone in the annals of commander stress history, not everyone fits into that position automatically so it’s natural for stumbling blocks and stress for team and commander alike. I’ve gotten better at the hard decisions and the training sessions under the PRIMUS computers has helped me get a better grasp on what I’m supposed to be doing, but that doesn’t make the stress go away. Meditation on the other hand, that helps.

     

    So I kind of went a little overboard in transforming a storage room connected to my office into a meditation room/private playhouse. I ripped out the door and replaced it with a heavy gold brocade curtain, sealed the outside door, painted the walls a soft inviting golden color, put down a cream-colored thick shag carpet, installed natural light bulbs, put down low Japanese style tables, flung blue and cream silk sitting pillows everywhere, installed a copper “rainbow falls†floor fountain, planted tea and lemon trees, and installed a CD player with hidden speakers for meditation music. Jones gave me strange looks after I had walked by him with “stuff†for the umpteenth time, I just smiled and continued on my way, he’ll forgive a genius her eccentricities; after a while I made it into a secret agent game and had tons of fun with it trying not to get seen by him or the others. When I had completed the room I added one more item, my pièce de résistance, a mandala. Years ago during a medical conference in India I found this beautifully complex hand loomed mandala hidden away in an old antique store. For being over seventy-five to a hundred years old, the colors are still vibrant, the details in the design so finely done it reminds me of complex chemical equations, patterns within patterns. I fell in love with it and paid through the nose to have it. I had hung in the bedroom back in my apartment before all the moving for security reasons. I would study its complex patterns, before I slept, sometimes gaining inspirational dreams. I had forgotten about it until last week. Now it’s the only object on the wall in the meditation room. The overall effect is soothing and inspiring, like walking through clouds to gaze at the evening sun, candles for mood, meditation music floating in from above, the gentle trickle of water and my mandala to focus on as I lay back on pillows. My own private retreat within easy reach, I love it.

     

    Father O’Malley called letting us know that Daniel would be ready shortly. I sent word around for anyone who wanted to come get him, to meet up in the car park. Shadowkahn, Jet, and myself piled into the van and headed towards the city. We arrived at St. Ignatius late in the afternoon and walked into the church, leaving Jet behind in the van (well she can’t come into the church anyway, she might as well watch the vehicle). Father O’Malley and Geiger were waiting for us; Daniel looked better but we could see he still only had a minimal shadow. O’Malley stated it was the best he could do, that the drain effects on Daniel’s shadow would wear off eventually. None of us were thrilled with the idea of Daniel being a walking bad luck charm but at least this was recoverable, albeit possibly painful.

     

    We were just getting into the van when an explosion several blocks away distracted us, the plume of smoke and debris mushrooming up into the sky. I iced my way over towards the explosion. Jet parked the van a block away and we set ourselves into surveillance positions to see what was going on. Shadowkan taking forward position on the roof across from the bank (where the explosion occurred), Slate down near a line of mailboxes, and myself just out of sight down the road; Geiger, Jet and Wire Walker advanced towards my position.

     

    In front of the bank was a squad of VIPER agents, their uniforms were new and on their shoulders was an unknown symbol, a Snowflake. I pointed it out to Geiger and he wracked his brain for info, but couldn’t ever remember seeing a Snowflake as a standard symbol in VIPER. We both pondered over it for a moment and came to the unanimous conclusion that we were dealing with a new cell in the Hudson City area. After all, they looked too new and they were robbing a bank, VIPER very rarely, if ever robbed banks like this. The squad had 2 big guns slung on harnesses; they looked like the guns from Aliens that Vasquez had carried, 3 large guns, 2 medium guns and two small guns. The team conversed a few moments over the harness guns and I relayed the information back to PRIMUS for an update on VIPER weapons. Apparently these were called “Brick Busters,†the Mark 1 version, the Mark 2 versions have power packs attached to the harnesses, and so we were dealing with weapons that had a limited power capacity, thank God. The VIPER team is holding up the bank, with hostages inside so we go into action.

     

    We started in a combination of attacks; I launched a fireball attack against the three closest to me; Shadowkahn sent throwing stars into another. Unfortunately they managed to catch sight of us just as our attack occurred and managed to get up their force fields, my fire managed to melt one gun that had been outside of the field and gave everyone inside a severe sunburn but that’s all I had managed to do. Stars began bouncing off the fields. Two of the agents aimed at me and even with my armor on the combined force of the blast hit me like a jackhammer knocking me off my slide and into the pavement, knocking me senseless for a moment. In the time it had taken me to recover, Geiger, Jet and Shadowkahn had moved into hand-to-hand combat with the agents, apparently force fields only stop bullet type attacks, because those shields did nothing to keep the 3 of them from beating the agents to a pulp. Jet had grabbed an agent by the arms and splatted him into the outer wall of the bank, killing him instantly, Geiger had somehow missed his agent so Jet picked Geiger up and tossed him into several of the VIPER agents crushing them against the wall.

     

    As I staggered up I noticed a man in a Hawaiian shirt, Bermuda shorts, sandals and a briefcase casually comes walking out of the bank, as if there wasn’t a supers fight going on around him. I flew so I could keep an eye on him as he calmly walked between the combat towards his waiting car. I couldn’t tell if this guy was a plainclothes VIPER agent, suicidal, stupid or just plain crazy; turns out he wasn’t any of those. Geiger had staggered away from the agents he had smooshed into the wall towards the street and in an effort to keep the Brick Busters from firing at us, proceeded to utilize one of his new found strength tricks, the Earthquake. He curled up both fists in the traditional “HULK SMASH!†way and slammed them into the road, the kinetic force knocked over several of the agents, only one of the Busters managed to keep himself steady. Unfortunately, the guy in the shorts (who hadn’t’ budged a centimeter during the quake) turned around, looked at Geiger and yelled at him, “How Dare You Attack Me! Even VIPER Didn’t Attack Me!†and proceeds to change form into a guy with a Kendo sword. Shadowkan backed up and swore, we then heard over the radio, “it’s Kendo, the Kendo master, this is going to hurt, whatever you do, don’t anyone of us attack him!†Kendo then proceeded to step towards Geiger (which made his shadow flair to full size again, woot!) and swung at Geiger like he was aiming for New York. The boy plowed backwards into the agents again, knocking him and two of the agents senseless. Several of the VIPER agents took offense at this and decided attacking the guy with the wooden sword would be a good idea, this was incredibly stupid. Shadowkahn had been in hand to hand with one of the agents and was in the way when Kendo swung again, somehow, somehow Kendo’s strike completely missed Shadowkahn, as the strike went through 3 of the VIPER agents, knocking them all to the ground. Meanwhile, the leader of this strike team, a Doctor Kennison I heard yelled from one of the agents, has finally gotten his act together and yells for them to attack the demon (i.e. Jet) with their sonic guns. Now I don’t know if sonics would actually work against Jet, but I know they sure cause a hell of a lot of damage to me; so I gave Jet the order to take them down ASAP; however, she didn’t quite get to them in time and the guns went off, amazingly enough I seemed to be far enough away that all it did was ring my ears, Jet decided to turn on of the agents into so much hamburger meat. Kendo, who was also in the middle of the sonic attack, turned to go after the remaining agents, one of the VIPER agents somehow survived all of the blows that had destroyed his compatriots and was still standing. Kendo, turned on this agent with such indignant fury he yelled, “Your Dare Stand Against My Attack?!?!!†and proceeded to beat the living shit out of the guy. I actually felt sorry for him. The local police arrived to mop up the pummeled remains of the VIPER team and transferred them all to the PRIMUS lock-up. Shadowkahn and Kendo had some private words before Kendo left. Everyone in the bank was safe and unharmed and we were declared the local heroes. Kennison had managed to steal a hex cut 100 karat emerald, which was easily placed back into the banks care.

     

    Honestly, I have no idea how the fight would of gone if we hadn’t run into Kendo. It might of worked out fine since we were doing well before he arrived, but boy he sure kicked ass, theirs and ours.

     

    We took Dr. Kennison into interrogation at PRIMUS and that man began spilling his guts about anything and everything. He was a scientist, an inventor; he had come up with the Brick Buster guns and several other weapons. He was an experimenter, a creator, but when he had been “invited†into VIPER his technology had been perverted. Kennison talked about Dr. Tarn Kane the creator of the Brick Buster Mark 2 and of his jealousy because Kane had a better budget. He also, unfortunately, had been the inventor of the environmental suits for the government in Project Holocaust. Very proudly so, even though his suits were the ones that the solders wore during their exposure to harmful radiation, resulting in all of them but one dieing, Gigaton. This man was, in part, responsible for the creation of Gigaton. As he spilled his guts to the interviewers, including Jet in her human form, I listened behind the one-way glass. Everything Kennison had ever created had been perverted or altered to the usage of creating a weapon, I was disgusted; Kennison was the living embodiment of corrupted science. He continued to talk about his technology and creations; I listened to Clark behind me talking to Advisor Currin; Currin was talking about how Kennison’s work could be put to PRIMUS projects, Clark agreed with him. I whorled around in my chair and looked at the two of them incredulously. “How can you even think of letting this doctor (I used that term lightly) into PRIMUS? He’s selling out VIPER right now, what’s to stop him from selling out PRIMUS to the next group he gets captured by?†I yelled, I couldn’t believe it, letting somebody like him with the morals of a mollusk work for PRIMUS?! Clark looked at me and very calmly said, “he already knows he can’t survive in the outside world, VIPER will kill him the moment they get their hands on him, other groups would probably like to have his technology as well, we might as well keep him, he’s signed his death warrant as it is.†I was taken aback, of course Clark was right, I was being naive. “Your team will be responsible for transporting him to our facility in Millennium City, you’ll be transporting him either tomorrow or the day after, so get everyone rested and ready.†And with that statement Clark left, Currin following behind him.

     

    I turned back to the glass and continued watched Jet’s fascination with Kinnison’s self incrimination monologue, I couldn’t understand why we would bother to remain involved with this man; however as I watched the two something occurred to me, in a way I had the same problem with Jet that PRIMUS had with Kinnison, the evil you know versus the evil you don’t know. I had often wondered why Huntsman and Shadowkahn, who were both out to eradicate supernatural evil, were willing to work side by side with a demon; I mean, why not just destroy her and send her back to Hell? But therein lies the problem, another demon would appear to replace her to fulfill the ancient contract, it might no longer be a problem for us, but it would still remain a problem. Same with Kinnison, we could let him go and watch another villain group scoop him up and use his technology against us, or we could keep him and use him against them. I pondered about this while Matt furiously scribbled notes on several projects Kinnison described, hearing Matt occasionally mumble, “he’s just like me.†I left shortly afterwards for the Supernaturals Division of PRIMUS to check up on our unwelcome Black Paladin guests.

     

    I was please to find Shaman with Madame Edelstin and was easily brought up to speed on how the Randolphs were doing. After 30 days without the mask, Mrs. Randolph had transformed back to her normal self, the dear woman was in a state of confusion and panic, unsure of what had really happened; she suffered regularly from nightmares of her experience. Fortunately therapy for her was already underway.

     

    Mr. Randolph however, had not yet transformed back but Shaman believes there is still hope for the man. Madame Edelstin has had a psychoanalyst come and talk with them and under hypnosis; Mr. Randolph remembers a childhood memory of his father being careful to lock away his anger. It is currently believed that his psychosis and physical transformation to the griffin are connected. Further investigation into curing Mr. Randolph continues.

     

    On the way home I radioed everyone and told them about the trip we would be taking within the next day or two.

     

    I rechecked the current sequences running through the computer system, only 3% done, I had had a feeling this new batch would take longer. It’s a good thing PRIMUS was willing to give me enough computer power and a large enough lab for me to run several different projects at once, ah the wonders of research in solitude.

     

    During our evening “news and review hour†after dinner (we all sit down in the lounge, drink, read the paper, bring the rest of the team up to date on projects, outcomes and other tidbits of info we find interesting); one of the group pointed to an article in the newspaper; over the last several days a different building went up in flames every night in the 101st block of Bourbon Street. A combination of buildings within a mile area had gone up, some were fixed housing apartments others were warehouses, so far there had not been a loss of life. That article sparked (ha ha) a flurry of activity amongst our more Internet inclined individuals, sending Matt and Daniel into haze of bits and bites searching for more information. Turns out that that territory is currently under contract by the city to be demolished and turned into a wonderful maximum-security prison, bids were still sealed and in city possession.

     

    Slate found that Teunonics Inc. was buying up properties in the area as quickly as prices plummeted. Daniel found that the police arson investigations department had work-ups of the buildings that had gone up; these mockups followed a path of the fire, which moved like nothing they had ever seen before. There was no accelerant used, at least not one that could be detected by the standard police tests; however, the fires originated in areas where a fire would not of started, it also moved incredibly fast, faster than a “normal†fire would. If the brand new fire alarms hadn’t gone off, (newly installed) there would have been many deaths.

     

    Huntsman, Shadowkahn and Jet volunteered to go to the incident sites to check for magical oogyness. Over the radios, Huntsman reported back that there was a kind of not magic, but an odd energy form, sort of extra dimensional but not quite. Yes, vague is what you get when magic folks don’t have a clue. With Daniel tacking away at the computer still searching for clues, Matt sat at the other end of the library quietly thinking. Huntsman asked if anyone knew of something that could burn without an accelerant and move fire like that. My response took a second echo over the radios, “meâ€. Geiger, Wire and Slate all stared at me and I stared back and smiled sadly. “The few mutants with fire based powers would be more than able to set the burn where ever they wanted to, some might have kinetic control over it, others, like myself don’t have that ability. Either way, its relatively easy to burn a building down when you’re a fire starter.†I was very impressed by the silence that followed. Granted not everything had to be magic or mutant based but sometimes it was easier to believe in the abnormal than in the normal.

     

    From the edge of the table Slate mumbled something, and when I asked him to speak up he said, “there are two chemicals that can create a fire that do not show up on chemical analysis, the government has access to them.†He looked at us and then it dawned on me, his file said ex-military but I hadn’t bothered to remember. I asked Slate if he thought someone he knew could do something like this, but he wasn’t sure enough to answer. Daniel looked up from the computer screen for a moment and notified us that Teunonics was right in the middle of the bidding war for the new prison complex. When I asked how he found out, Geiger beamed and told me, “I looked it up in the companies online portfolio.†Damn if the boy isn’t getting smarter in research every day. Geiger pointed out that Teunonics appears to be in the winning round of final bids along with, Austin Industries, Omega Corporation and GenCon (isn’t that a gamers convention?) We immediately scurried to the rest of the open computers to look up each of the other companies. Austin Industries dealt with medicine and of all things, body armor; GenCon does medicine, genetics, cybernetics; Omega Corp is well Omega Corp. they do everything and then some and finally Teunonics dealing with improving humanity (figure out what that means).

     

    Shadowkahn radioed in from the doctor guy’s store, (I can’t remember his name, Lee?) Anyway he runs the occult bookstore where we dealt with the demon ghost lantern fish. According to his research the area was known to have belonged to a cult of ghouls back in the 1900s, you know the typical flesh eating types; apparently they lived in the sewers but were all wiped out way back when. I thanked Shadowkahn for his research and silently prayed that not everything we deal with would be supernatural based.

     

    Huntsman reported in that he had found something bizarre he couldn’t identify. He described a section of floor and wall, L shaped that was completely undamaged by the burn, in fact it seemed to be a somewhat regular circular outline and right in the middle of it, was a single footprint; melted into the concrete with stress cracks edging out from it. He got a little more descriptive and the concerned looks started around the table again. Obviously this section hadn’t reached the flashpoint the rest of the building had, but there had been enough of a temperature change to melt the concrete and resolidify it to cause stress fractures, i.e. somebody that had control over hot and cold, more looks came in my direction. A few more murmurs went around the table and someone spoke up if we could possibly get a shoe mold of it, I announced I’d gladly come over and take the sample (anything to help exonerate myself). Finally, I think it was Daniel, said something about, “how many villains and heroes in the world do have control over hot and coldâ€, not including myself. I am very proud of him, it was a touchy subject but he was willing to at least dance around the idea that I could be involved in the destruction of these buildings.

     

    Unfortunately he couldn’t hunt that information up from the PRIMUS database as he has limited access, I quickly called on the phone to PRIMUS and Artemis and asked if they could give Geiger villains/heroes database access, he was immediately rewarded with a flood of information, albeit temporarily. Surprisingly enough there are very few of us hero/villain wise that actually control both hot and cold, myself included. However, only one villain popped up as being recently seen within our territory, a gentleman called Fire & Ice. He had been a nondescript VIPER agent until there was an assault on the base and he had been exposed to chemical 49 and then the massive explosion triggered the mutation, yadda, yadda, yadda. He’s currently nothing more than a living embodiment of these two elements with no true physical human form of his own. Current known accomplices/affiliations is the Instigators; the group does corporate espionage, which fit the profile perfectly; accomplices, Overwatch, Lioness, Gears and Albatross. We plugged the visuals of each of them onto the main screen for easy id; turns out that Lioness was the silver cyber cat suit we had been seeing the last few months popping up and watching us.

     

    Matt gasped and choked as the names and visuals came up and a panicked look crossed his face.

    â€Any of these names ring a bell their Matt?†I asked; the boy was really sweating; it took him a few minutes to compose himself, it was suspicious. “Gears and Albatross used to be my teammates before I retired from the HAWKS team. They went rogue about the same time I left.†As he continued to describe what he remembered about his ex-teammates I did I quick pull-up on his PRIMUS file. Apparently Matt Slate had been known as FO, recon specialist with minimal weapons; his gadgeteering took some burden off of Gears who was the main gadget/explosives freak, but in reality, Slate was a second stringer, reserve usage. According to his file he had to kill a teenager in order to save one of his teammates, shot the kid right in the face and after that his skills in the team had slid downhill. No wonder Slate has issues, I pulled up his military file, while the rest of them continued talking about the HAWKS and the Instigators, and sure enough there it was right in his psych file. I have really got to remember to read these things more thoroughly. Simplified Matt’s profile listed him as very argumentative with tendencies towards poor jokes and wise guy attitudes when he’s under stress, low/poor self esteem, but overconfident when he feels himself in the right; vengeful and believing himself to be above the law. He has a tendency to find himself in odd situations and seems to have a sense about when trouble is about to hit in his vicinity. He holds himself to a set of personal codes of conduct and doesn’t believe in leaving a teammate behind, which lead to one psychiatrist stating that he believed Matt had begun to suffer from a Martyr complex as apparently his conduct under ops started going from FO to Rear Guard. Lord knows that he sure has taken the “I’ll hold them off while you get to safety†thing way too much while he’s been with us in a short while; I wonder if he’s suffering from suicidal urges as well; God knows that if he had had his way, he would have been the last one struggling out the door amongst the zombies.

     

    I’m going to have to address this with PRIMUS and possibly MPAB, he may be a danger to himself and to others. I don’t doubt he’ll do the job, but I do doubt his capacity to want to survive doing it. I also noted in his file that he was currently listed as AWOL from the military. Apparently the same time his paperwork for retirement from the HAWKS team was going through was about the same time his team went rogue. He’s listed as still being with them. The little sadistic part of me thought about letting that stay on his record so he could get arrested; hell part of me wanted to alert the military and have them come get him right now, but I relented to the shoulder angel and sent through the request to PRIMUS while I was online to have them notify the military of his change in status. Score another one for the shoulder angel.

     

    I pulled myself back out of my musings and back into the conversation as Daniel told us that so far, Teunonics owned 35 of the buildings, 5 lots after the fire.

     

    We were all ready to get started into this new investigation into the fires, when I received a com call reminding me of our rendezvous tomorrow morning with Dr. Kennison and the PRIMUS prisoner transportation system. Yea, we get to play guard dog.

     

    I radioed over to our misfits out in the field about tomorrow morning’s trip telling them to make it home soon and bid everyone a goodnight. I made my way downstairs, said goodnight to Jones and checked up in the lab on the latest batch. The “T†strain, I’m calling it in honor of Tellios’s suggestion. You know Ma; at 35 you would think I’d be above crushes but apparently not. I really do have the world’s largest old-fashioned gushing schoolgirl crush on Tellios. He’s gorgeous, intellectual, creative, gorgeous, did I mention really, really cute? I’ve had some of the best wake-in-the-morning-needing-a-shower dreams lately because of him. I’m assuming that since I hit my sexual peak at 32 and haven’t done a damn thing with it, its excess hormones and a whole lot of pent up sexual frustration. Why did nature give us men who hit their sexual peak at 18 and women that hit at 30? At our age were just hitting our sex crazed highs and the guys are looking for their favorite comfy chair. I would have had to go and make myself a mutant right at 32 wouldn’t I? I admitted it to myself a while ago, that’s the main reason I haven’t gotten involved with anyone is that I’m terrified that during orgasm I’ll “flame on†and torch the guy or go the other way and freeze it off. Wouldn’t that be an interesting headline, Don’t Play With Fire, man’s genitals burnt off during sex with PRIMUS agent Firefrost, film at eleven. Before that I never really met anyone that I clicked with, I mean there was a few times in college and then that weekend in NY, but I’ve been too involved with my career to really worry about it. But now, oh now, watching Tellios bat those darts out of the air…hot tamales. ;-P Snicker, but then again Black Paladin looked good out of his armor too, sigh, I’m just horny that’s all there is to it.

     

    Crush aside, realistically Tellio’s personality sucks, he has the ego the size of the moon and the moral turpitude of child molester. I there is no way in hell anything will come of it; the shoulder angel wins again. He’s a villain, stole my blood for God knows what purposes (though kidnapping if possible was also listed), worked for various evil organizations for money, broken every cloning law there is, broke the laws of nature, duplicated himself and others breaking God’s rules, all the while doing it with a smile and a shrug. He’s amoral, supremely overconfident, and maliciously cruel and above all else, he is playing God.

     

    Only He has those rights that privilege that gift. There had been times in the past when I had concerns about science and God, but as I grew older I gained better understanding of my two worlds. Science searches for answers to the universal questions; at one point all questions were once spiritual. Since the beginning of time, spirituality and religion had been called on to fill in the gaps that science did not understand. The rising and setting of the sun was once attributed to Helios and a flaming chariot. Earthquakes and tidal waves were the wrath of Poseidon. Science has now proven those gods to be false idols. Since has now provided answers to almost every question man can ask. There are only a few questions left, and they are the esoteric ones. Where do we come from? What are we doing here? What is the meaning of life and the universe? Originally there was a clash of two philosophical titans, and unsettling blur of opposing forces, but now, if one is spiritual in both paths you see physics and sciences as God’s natural law. Try reading The God Particle, or God: The Evidence or even The Tao of Physics and not find His grace in what we do. Tellios is wrong, he will always be wrong, regardless of my physical feelings; my soul will always know the difference. Such is the fun in playing “grown up†for the boys, I can act all commando but what is inside will not change.

     

    I’m laying on my back right now staring between the keyboard and the mandala, I shouldn’t of brought the laptop into my meditation room but I wanted to finish before I zonked out on the pillows. So much to think on, so much to do; I know one thing though, I’ve been granted a gift, it is my choice how to use it and I chose to use it for good.

     

    Night Ma, night Dad, sleep well.

     

    June 30, 2003

    I believe we will never have to do babysitting/transportation duty again. God, what an incredible screw up this was, just about everything that could of gone wrong did, Murphy’s Law struck with lightning precision.

     

    Huntsman, Shadowkah, Jet, Slate, Geiger, Wire and myself arrived early for the transport, but that was a good thing since the times were changed at the last minute to avoid someone using the previous schedule for attack purposes. Oh how wrong we were, error number 1. Jet looked at me as we were piling into the vans and asked, “if we are attacked do you want me to keep Dr. Kennison out of their hands?†I agreed, we were supposed to protect him after all, mistake number 2. We piled into two unmarked vans; Slate driving, Geiger, Wire and Shadowkahn in the rear van; Huntsman driving, Jet, Succor and myself with Dr. Kennison in the lead van. As we drove through the city we switched positions several times to avoid anyone getting lock on which van Kennison was in. We did everything by the book, for all the good it did, mistake number 3.

     

    Between National Boulevard and Victoria Avenue the vans went dead, flat dead, all electronics equipment went dead, much to Slate and Wire’s annoyance; the vans coasted to a stop. Suddenly the vans rocked violently as the feet (connected to the rest of) a Genocide Minute Man land in front of Slate’s van. A loud metallic voice announced for the world to hear “RELEASE DR. KENNISON,†we cringed, so much for avoiding an attack. Just as I opened my mouth to speak, there was a bright flash to our left and what to our wondering eyes should appear but 4 Genesis skelebots and a Mark 3! Yippie! From the Mark 3 we hear “PRIMARY ACQUISITION MODE NOW TANGO ALPHA 4.â€

     

    I looked out the windows at the Genocide 50ft mutant hating murdering robot trying for Kennison but also the Genesis skelebot team and yelled at them both, “why don’t you two fight it out amongst yourselves first to see who gets Kinnison and we’ll fight the winner of that battle!†Needless to say they didn’t go for my suggestion, needless to say, life was suddenly that much more fucked up. Radios are dead because of the Minuteman’s dampening field, cant call for assistance; say hello to battle mode, welcome to pain central, how can I help you.

     

    Well Geiger, Wire, Shadowkahn and Slate probably did the smartest thing possible and jumped from their van into combat. Geiger wound up a powerful punch and rammed right into the Minute Man’s leg; it responded by picking up the van and hammering it into Geiger like a child with a rock smashing a bug. Slate had rolled to the ground and came up firing at the skelebots, Wire did something to the Mark 3, Shadowkahn attacked one of the other skelebots and to wind it up, Huntsman (from our van) send a lightning bolt into the Mark 3 (after making sure it wouldn’t redirect into Wire).

     

    Jet looks at me and asks if she should take care of Dr. Kennison; I, watching the fight through the van windows and not knowing the proper etiquette in giving commands to demons tell her, yes, error number 2. Jet goes to full freak mode and sends both claws rending into Dr. Kinnison. I see Huntsman jerk upright and lean back towards us as Kennison screams for his life. I froze. I swear all of a sudden I couldn’t think, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing; mostly I think, on some level, I couldn’t believe that I had been so naive about Jet, she had done everything else up to this point on our level, I had begun to forget what I was dealing with. Now, suddenly there it was in full bloody blazing infernal glory. I screamed “NO!! DON’T KILL HIM!!!†at the top of my lungs at Jet, which stopped her claws in mid strike. I howled at her, “Your orders are to keep him alive at any cost, do you understand me! You are to protect him with your life!†Which was a good thing, because at that moment the entire right side of the van peeled outwards, exposing the three of us to the two skelebots that had opened it up like a sardine can.

     

    In the street, Wire got a good enough shot for his “Frisbee of Doom†to rip through two skelebots, one of them crumpled to the ground, the other one followed shortly after Huntsman sent a bolt of lighting into it. Unfortunately, the Mark 3 decided that Huntsman was too much of a threat and blasted him with one of its arm cannons, knocking him backwards and into unconsciousness.

     

    While I tried to staunch Kinnison’s bleeding, Jet steppes over us both and hellblasts the 2 skelebots that opened the van up. Over her shoulder I see one of them start to spark from wiring that had been exposed, my anger must of fueled my attack because I aimed a hand at it and send a fireball over Jet into it roasting it completely; 1 bot down, 3 more to go or so I thought.

     

    Then from overhead we hear the Minuteman start ticking off our names, and apparently it decides that Wire is the most dangerous to it (duh he manipulates magnetism), lifts its hand and from its palm a cord shoots out towards Wire snaring and electrocuting him, Succor heads to Wire’s rescue.

     

    Geiger, tired of being on the receiving end of the Minuteman’s pounding, picked up the van and returned the favor by leaping up into the air and slamming the van into the Minuteman’s chest, putting a huge frigging dent into its torso, cracking the armor and actually staggering it back a pace. Totally impressive, way to go Geiger!

     

    It was hard to keep up with everything after that, I caught up with everyone’s accounts as the shit hit the fan all at once. While Succor skated over to Huntsman prone body to heal him; the skelebot I though I had fried completed stands back up grabs Kinnison out of my hands and starts to make a run for it, past the Minuteman’s energy dampening field (I forgot to mention that it stops teleportation as well); Shadowkahn leapt over to the Mark 3 to start taking it out with his magic claws; Wire had gotten out of the tangle and tried to attack the bot holding Kinnison but missed; Jet launched herself into the remaining skelebot and began tearing into it like a kid with a Christmas package; Slate shoots one of the other remaining skelebots destroying it; Huntsman waking up from Succors care, launches another lightning bolt into the Mark 3; the Minuteman launches a net at Geiger pinning him to the ground; I fly after the skelebot and rather deftly get Kinnison out of its arms as I blast it for the final time destroying it; Succor gets over to Geiger and boosts his strength enough to rip out of the net; Slate seeing one more bot near him leaps up with a kick that punches through the torso of the skelebot destroying it (well he told me he was strong, but I didn’t believe it!); the skelebot Jet was tearing into blasts apart sending her reeling backwards and into unconsciousness; I hear the Minuteman rotating through weapons before I feel the sonic blast tear through me as I raced past its legs with Kinnison in arms, I tumbled for a moment but kept my flight up, as I got further away from the Minuteman I felt the blood start to crawl out my ears and nose from the damage (my mutant form is particularly venerable to sonics); Geiger seeing the Minuteman distracted by trying to kill me leaps again to the attack and focusing on the damage in the armor sends a devastating punch into it, destroying the Minuteman, unfortunately it’s head launches off and although Huntsman tried to destroy it misses, so it soared away to make its report to Genocide.

     

    Amidst all of this happening, one final shock awaited us; the Marks have a self-destruct mode that is devastating to everything within its vicinity once it takes enough damage to destroy it; as a final “fuck you†from Genesis to whatever might in hand to hand combat with it, a force field bubble erupts around the Mark to contain the blast and keep its victim in. Huntsman’s last blast into the Mark 3 was apparently enough to set off its self-destruct, trapping Shadowkahn inside the bubble with it. In less than a minute Shadowkah would be vaporized along with the Mark 3. As we regrouped at the feet of the defunct Minuteman, we watched in dismay as Shadowkahn made several attempts at forcing his way out of the field, to no avail. Someone yelled, “We need to blast the shield to get him out,†and as guns and arms rose to fire, I commanded them to stop; everyone looked at me in horror. I could barely hear myself speak but I know they all heard me, as I told them why we couldn’t help. “If we break the shield around the Mark 3, we’ll be responsible for the destruction of this area filled with civilians. The field contains the blast; it’s powerful enough to destroy several blocks if unchecked. Shadowkahn will have to get himself out of it somehow or he dies with it.†Although the radios between all of us were dead, Shadowkahn was close enough to hear us; he nodded and went back to work trying to find his own way out. Below his feet was a manhole cover leading to the sewers; someone suggested that he try for escape or at least some protection that way and Shadowkahn headed below ground, all we could do was wait.

     

    Command means you make the hard decisions, no matter how painful those might be. I knew the Mark 3’s force-field was a sphere and would enclose the ground, even the pipes underneath it; I knew that the only change Shadowkahn had was if he managed to somehow give himself a break in the field big enough to get himself out; otherwise, the manhole cover and the road would give him no cover at all, it would all vaporize with the Mark 3 and him along with it. Succor healed Kinnison and me as we watched in tense silence. I realized how distraught I was at the prospect of loosing Shadowkahn; he was not only a teammate but also a friend. Out of all of the “magic†folks, he and I had formed a relationship; we enjoyed each others company, sometimes spent time together away from the “office;†he had accepted the honor of being my bodyguard and chaperone without complaint and had actually remarked about how much fun he had trying to keep me out of trouble, and to a certain extent, even though he did not need to remain bodyguard after those times, he still seemed to watch out for me. That damned sob line from Star Trek went through my mind as I closed my eyes to the brilliance of the blast and prayed; “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one,†I had cursed the day I had finally understood it, I understood what command meant and damned if I didn’t hate it all.

     

    The glow and the aftermath faded quickly, leaving a perfectly scooped crater into the sewer lines of the city, no body, no bot, nothing left behind. We silently walked towards the hole peering into the darkness and I fervently prayed again that somehow Shadowkahn had gotten away. In the distance we could hear the sirens of emergency vehicles coming our way, finally somebody decided to come to assist. Well you can’t blame the normals, why would they want to get hurt fighting super freaks? It seems to be the curse of heroes to always arrive on the scene first, we always take the brunt of the damage before the normals make it, and I guess its only fair, though none of us are Superman. We all hear through the crackling headsets PRIMUS stating their ETA is 5 minutes and I quietly tell them to make sure they bring along an ambulance for Kinnison. We stared down through the hole at the sewer water rushing past below, all in a state of somber shock, when echoing from below, we here Shadowkahn’s voice saying “can I get a hand up please?†Shadowkahn stares up from the edge of the cut pipelines, soaked, smelly and beaten terribly. I don’t remember who got him out of there but I do remember the hugs and pats on the back as we congratulated him on his amazing survival skills and incredible luck. I don’t think I had ever been so happy to see anyone in my life. He spoke briefly of concentrating all of his attacks on one point at the base of the bubble, he was able to disrupt it briefly enough for him to fall through before it resealed just before the Mark 3 blew. The strain of the attacks and the concussion from the blast had nock him unconscious for a minute or two, which had allowed us to gather at the hole and begin to mourn him.

     

    Shadowkahn looked at me for a moment and I stared back at his eyes, “I am so glad your alive,†I said embarrassed and blushing from relief (thank God you cant see that through the ice), I turned it into a joke and grinned, “I need an instruction manual on the care and feeding of your pet demon, if you don’t mind.†I could see the edges of his eyes crinkle up in laughter, “you know, I was going to talk to you about how to word your commands better.†We all laughed then, and cradling our wounded and unconscious, (Jet had apparently taken a lot more damage than we had originally thought since she remained unconscious the rest of the evening); sat down within the remains of our battle and waited for the authorities to arrive.

     

    Kinnison was in a state of shock and was rushed to the emergency room for immediate surgery, his next waking moment, according to the nurses was “Keep that thing away from me!!†Needless to say, I don’t think were going to be doing transport duty with Jet again.

     

    Also, needless to say, I got one hell of a chewing out from Clark about Jet and my use of “non-specific commands,†with her. I vowed it would never happen again and that I would put in a call to her handler within minutes of getting out of Clark’s office (and reattaching my chewed off ass). I actually did call her within minutes of getting out of the office and she was able to explain to me several points on how to verbally control Jet. The rules were actually fairly easy to remember, give your orders clearly and simply to the demon, anything too involved and they start to find loopholes. Ok, so that was easy, now how to convey that.

     

    The team headed home bruised, battered and bloody with folks retiring to their rooms or bathrooms to clean up and relax, (Jet was left in the infirmary to heal). I’m praying for a little quite for just a while. After dinner Shadowkahn and I sat down and talked about Jet and how best to deal with her. It’s strange; how we can face death and then hours later, talk as if nothing happened. We came up with the rule for Jet and would give it to her the next morning once she woke up. 1. No killing unless directly told to do so by either myself, Shadowkahn or Huntsman. See, nice and easy.

     

    We spent the rest of the night talking while; Slate, Succor, Geiger and Wire worked on finding out more information on the warehouses and who to talk to regarding hostile takeovers and burned out buildings. Within the first few days of July we would have a list of property owners within the 101st block to speak with, the owners of the 3 remaining warehouses, the homeowner on Bourbon & Walker Streets and the owners of the remaining apartment complex. It would be nice to learn if anyone had come by making “an offer you cant refuse†for folks to sell.

     

    I’m actually going to finish this and go straight to bed, no lab, no nothing; my ears are still ringing and my ass still hurts. A good nights sleep should fix that.

     

    Night Mom, Dad, sleep well in the wings of angels.

     

    July 2, 2003

     

    As long as evil has yet to ripen, the fool mistakes it for honey. But when that evil ripens, the fool falls into pain. Month after month the fool might eat only a tip-of-grass measure of food, but he wouldn't be worth one sixteenth of those who've fathomed the Dhamma.

     

    For some reason that quote of the Dhammapada keeps resurfacing in my mind every time I read Matt’s letter. The Dhammapada consists of 423 verses in Pali uttered by the Buddha on some 305 occasions for the benefit of a wide range of human beings. These sayings were selected and compiled into one book as being worthy of special note on account of their beauty and relevance for molding the lives of future generations of Buddhists. Although I am a follower of the Holy Roman Church and the Pope, I find spiritual guidance in the teachings of other religions as well; Buddhists have a “visionary†way of looking at the world that I find to be soothing and beautiful. I remember another quote from Yaakov Yitzhak, from Buber’s “Way of Man.†What sort of God would that be who has only one way in which He can be served! I believe that truth can be seen in any text any language, otherwise why would I have become a geneticists, the ultimate searchers for truth. Ok, I’m being egotistical, but I do feel that way.

     

    I’m so mad I’m rambling. During the year, as we have progressed in teamwork and duties, I have come to doubt my command less and less, I listen to my fellow teammates, let them lead with ideas and direct when necessary, hell there have actually been some uses of teamwork, what a novel concept. I will always have reservations about sending anyone into battle, even myself. Hell, anyone who doesn’t have second thoughts about being in combat should be registered as psychotic and placed under medicated observation. I know in today’s day and age, only those how have never been to war look forward to it. I’m speaking metaphorically about war, battle; however, each time we head out to fight evil in all its forms we do the same as any normal in Kevlar and a M-16, were just doing it with powers.

     

    I’m not sure where I’m going with this entry; I just know Matt’s letter disturbs me. I found it under my door this morning. He didn’t even have the courage to sit down and talk to me face to face or to hand it to me, just slid it under the door.

     

    Here’s the letter:

     

    Frost

     

    I know I am not you most favorite person. I have had a lot of doubts about you. When this started and I basically got drafted I did not like the idea of following a untried leader into a life threatening situation. I have seen war, I have been pinned down under fire and I have had to kill face to face. You are slowly getting better. You do not seem to know much about us on the team except the kids. I learn from watching. You are a lab specialist you are happier in a lab, me I am a techno super freak, send me into Radio Shack and I can cause the federal government to cringe. I am also a combat monster.

     

    You’re a mutant; I just push myself harder than any normal human. You’re probably wondering why someone with my credentials is out here in this tin can. I found over the years I can keep good people alive, that is what I am trying to do with this team. These are very good people on it…even Dark Hunter (Jet). I know when bad things are going to happen, its why I tossed you across the floor under the Viper base. I know putting on this armor and doing what I am doing will be me killed but if I keep people alive then my death will be worth it. I was not thrilled with a lab specialist as a combat leader, but your learning. I hope your luck holds, if not then I will die to make sure you guys get out alive if need be. Look you are never going to like me, and I am never going to apologize for doing what I did. I did it because I did not want to see anyone on this team die, including you; you’re a very good scientist.

     

    I will say this, you’re trying but you do need to ask advice a bit more often when we are planning attacks. Also you are doing a better job of trying to get the right person to do the right job. You don’t like me and I’m won’t ask you to. I will do my damndest to keep the kids out of the worst of it. I have seen you struggle with sending them against the ugly things we deal with. Geiger wants to do good, I just want to make sure he stays alive to do it. I know this job will kill me, but I will make sure the guys can keep their head and stay alive.

     

    Oh I have been working on a project, so after your year if we are still up and running, to make the mansion self-sufficient. By that I mean the salaries are covered, our dues for the whole team are covered, and the insurance is covered. This group will never have to turn to anyone for a handout or help with the bills if I do this right. The mansion and the team will be covered for as long as a team is here even if I am not. So this is all I got to say, so no matter what you know a little of what’s going on with me. If you haven’t read my file you should.

     

    The one you called

    Ranger

     

    If this were Matt’s way of “reaching out†to his fellow teammates I’d say this was a complete failure, he couldn’t even sign it with his name, but slang I used to id him once, once! If I thought he had a martyr complex before this certainly can confirm it! What’s with all the “I’m gonna die trying to save the team†crap? If he is so worried about his life then why doesn’t he improve his amour, why doesn’t’ he drop being on the team? Hell Geiger can take more damage than most of us all put together! Well except maybe Jet, but that’s not the point, if he’s trying to help with this letter it’s poorly done. The entire idea is not to die for your cause but to make the other poor sap die for their cause, first rule of war. Perhaps I should suggest to Matt to read The Art Of War at some point, I found it to be fascinating reading and very enlightening. I think he would be surprised at what he’d learn.

     

    I certainly don’t understand why the mansion would need to be self sufficient, the mansion is our base provided by PRIMUS because of the Act. I work for PRIMUS, I get a paycheck, and they’re my bosses, just as if I worked for a mundane company. I’m not indebted to them for anything and neither are the kids; Daniel’s mother sent him our way once his powers showed, Wire’s dad is Jester of the Charleston Champions, Wire was practically shoved into PRIMUS’s arms saying “here take him, train him in the ways of the FORCE!†(Basic gist anyway, hell his dad pays him in gold to stay on Earth) same with Succor, he came to PRIMUS to put his powers to good use. None of us are begging for funds, nor are the kids family members, Mrs. Craven gets a financial support check from PRIMUS for Geiger’s work, PRIMUS puts him through a special programs school to keep up with his education as well as physical training, same with Jester and Succor. We couldn’t pay Jester for taking Wire off his hands, and Succor squirrels his paycheck away for his own uses. Plus we all have medical coverage beyond what any company could ever provide. If Matt were really paying attention the only ones that aren’t getting a working paycheck from PRIMUS are the members of the magic team and only they know how they subsidize their spending for non-crime related items. PRIMUS provides us with everything we need (basically) because it’s in our contract to do so, besides were also a pilot program from MPAB working through a 5 year grant, were paid. No need for the mansion to be self sufficient, it’s not even ours.

    So what is Matt really trying to do? He didn’t have to join our group; after the incident with the Shadow Killer he could have left, but he instated himself in with the magic trio and was our go between for whatever reason he thought he had to be, but we don’t need that from him anymore. What is some normal human trying to get himself turned into pork chops by the aberrant creatures and things we run into is beyond me, most people would think he’s certifiable. Drafted? The military drafts and if I’m not mistaken that hasn’t happened since the Vietnam War, PRIMUS sure the hell didn’t draft him, he volunteered. Now true, if Matt wanted to run around the city with his armor and pop-guns he still needed to register under the MPAB, or he would have to of moved out of the state. So how is it in his mind we are responsible for putting him into situations he volunteered for?

     

    I’ve read his file fairly thoroughly now, the “I’ve seen war†part was one action, Desert Storm, a conflict and it lasted less than two months; he’s been in more combat since he left the military. The “I’ve had to kill†part was during Desert Storm he had to kill a kid face to face to save his buddy, what would of happened if he hadn’t, he’d be dead and so would his buddy, big deal, were doing that every day now aren’t we? How many times have we had to kill, creatures, humans, robots, demons, and worse in a non-war situation? What makes him think he’s any different from the rest of us? Does he think his pain should be up on a pedestal while the rest of the team suffers? What about Daniel who at age 14 has already seen death and been party to it? Just because he was in a “warâ€, well he volunteered for that tour of duty as well, so I doubt he should complain.

     

    “You’ll never like meâ€, what the hell? How am I ever supposed to like anyone who makes themselves so unlikable? He’s made himself totally unacceptable in social situations, sniping comments at me ever since we started; not good enough to lead, not qualified, don’t know enough, gene freak, lab tech, lab specialist. “I learn by paying attentionâ€, what the hell has he learned, not a damn thing, nothing! I’m a GENETICIST, with a double PHD, not a freakin laboratory technician. My IQ is 170 for Christ’s sake, I can identify and create mutants and I’ve made myself one! Granted such a high IQ doesn’t necessarily mean I have common sense, but so what. So I brilliant enough not to join the military and get shot at, but I was stupid enough to make myself a mutant and then join an organization that wanted me, would putting it into those terms make it easier for him to understand?

     

    I’m sure his archeologist father and scientist mother must have been very proud when their brilliant son joined the military to be a grunt. How impressed they must have been, we came from a poor background, average family with an average income with an above average kid, and look at me now. I know your proud Mom, Dad, you told me so long before I had to tilt my head to the heavens to hear you. The accident took you away from me, but it couldn’t take away that love and pride I had for you and you for me. I truly wonder if Matt ever understood his parents, did that brilliant IQ of his register anything beyond his own rebellious world; I doubt I’ll ever know.

     

    If Matt really learned by paying attention he would of figured out that he pisses me off every time he snipes at me. If he learned by paying attention he would of noticed that the group is working better as a team when I give them the reigns and let them run with their ideas only pulling back when necessary. If he learned by paying attention he would of figured out that his grandstanding and solo shooter bits only worked if he had backup.

     

    The “I’ll never apologize for what I did†part I think is what finally pushed me over; “did it to save the team?†Attempting to hack my computer files and invades my laboratory files, thereby attempting a hacking of Artemis? What the hell kind of explanation is that? He needs to apologize not only to me but to PRIMUS as well, for being an imbecile and jeopardizing PRIMUS security. Couldn’t he of acted like a normal human being and just talking to me? I manage to talk to the rest of the team like “normal†people, getting to know them beyond the job; Geiger’s into sports, Succor loves comic books, Wire’s into everything, Kahn likes fine wine, Jet really isn’t a lawyer, Huntsman follows old Celtic beliefs; that I all got from asking (though Huntsman’s still the most closed lipped of them all). I’ve read their open files as well, which anyone can do if they ask, albeit the “open†files are restricted in info they do give at least the basics. I’ve read their closed files too, but that information is for me only, I don’t flaunt it out in the wind.

     

    Man, I have such a headache and its name is Matt Slate. A report and a copy of the letter are going to Clark. I’m making a formal request to get him either off the team or into therapy before he does get killed or worse, takes someone along with him.

     

    God help me, at this point I can’t even figure out how to talk to him without wanting to blast his head off. I’ll go take out my frustrations in the danger room. What’s wrong with me? I can create some of the most beautiful work in the universe, but I cant figure out how to talk to one man. Gah!

     

     

     

     

    July 9, 2003

    Freaky things happening in Hudson City tonight, well even for this town it was odd. Around 6pm I was working on batch T32 when the power went down, complete brown out and the emergency generator kicked in. Loosing power for a 10th of a second ruined the test (2 weeks work down the drain), so I spent a few minutes dumping all of batch T32 and loading batch T33. I called up to the mansion to hear Geiger on the line to PRIMUS, with Succor relaying to me that the power had gone out everywhere, all of Hudson city had gone out for an entire 10 seconds. I conferenced Geiger’s call and the three of us spoke about the situation with Lieutenant Marces. Marces paused for a moment obviously listening to someone on his end, and relayed to us that the incident had occurred at the switching station and PRIMUS had already taken care of it; Marces also told me that Clark would tell us everything in the morning. I told Marces to tell Clark we would be there at 10am and I’d drag in whoever was available in for the briefing, he said he would tell Clark and signed off.

     

    Geiger and Wire still wanted to go out for their patrol, so I let them head off to do their nightly routine. Matt had been avoiding me since the 2nd but I left messages via radio and note, with everyone to be at PRIMUS headquarters in Millennium City at 10am tomorrow for the brief.

     

    Matt’s avoiding me; I still haven’t figured out how to talk to him yet. Though PRIMUS has given me the heads up that they will start him in therapy. Actually they have volunteered to get everyone into therapy, including the boys so the claustrophobia isn’t quite so overwhelming. I’ll have to work on it but honestly; I just don’t have the strength.

     

     

    July 10, 2003

    Geiger, Wire and I were the first to start out this morning. I told Nelson to make sure whoever was going to the briefing that we would meet them there. Over breakfast Geiger had talked me into going to the substation to check on what had happened last night, though honestly my curiosity had been killing me all night and I just had to see what was up; I grabbed the micro radiation counters (mini-micro Geiger counters, we joked as we kept pointing them at Geiger to see if they registered anything. Hey look, I can count Geiger! Bad otherworlder jokes via Wire.)

     

    When we arrived the guards checked ID and allowed us in, at the first floor of the substation is where the incident took place and it was easy to identify. We were shown a large perfectly fused circular hole through the concrete wall into the radiation room. Within we found two connector cables on the ground and a ball bearing that had buried itself into the deck plates denting the section in at least a good inch. The counters barely picked up the radiation; so weak it was ambient, unlike the readings we were supposed to be seeing this close to radiation. Geiger bent down to retrieve the bearing and couldn’t get his fingers around it, so Wire did his magnetic lift and was surprised at the weight of it, he broke into a sweat just getting it high enough out of the plate for Geiger to get his hands underneath it. When Wire released the bearing, Geiger was practically pitched forward as the weight of it plowed into his hands and arms, “it’s at least two thousand pounds!†Geiger exclaimed, and carefully let it drop back into its dent in the floor. I tried to get a scraping from the metal but was unable to do anything other than shave the edges off my scalpels. Whatever this was, the material was beyond a density that we could easily identify. I asked the guard if there had been a videotape of the incident, and he told me that PRIMUS had already taken everything they could, including the tapes; apparently a team would be by this morning to retrieve the ball bearing. So with questions burning our minds we headed to our meeting in Millennium City.

     

    At 10am we were shown into Silver Avengers Clark’s office and told to sit immediately for the briefing, Slate, Succor and Shadowkahn had arrived moments before we had. Clark started a videotape as we sat down around the conference table. Men and women in VIPER uniforms ran across the screen, the volume was obviously turned down but we could still hear screams in the background. As we watched the chaos continue Clark’s voice gave a narrative, “we have several agents that have become moles within VIPER, one of our agents had installed a video camera at this one base in Hudson City.†I flinched as some man suddenly shuddered and without explanation exploded across screen, “please tell me our agent wasn’t at the base,†I asked, Clark should his head no and continued, “Fortunately he was out on a VIPER assignment and wasn’t in the base. This is what happened last night around 5pm, the tape is several different videos spliced together from the hidden cameras.†As we watched, Vengeance stalked onto the screen and Geiger sighed, “Damn, he did survive.†Clark replied, “Yes but apparently not without some strange side effects to being blown up by you, keep watching.†As we watched Vengeance raised his arm at another agent, this one quivered for a moment before blowing apart as one had earlier. We all gasped in horror, surely he hadn’t mutated and this was his new power? “Clark, please tell me this isn’t a mutant power.†“Keep watching,†was all he would say. As Vengeance hunted agents through the VIPER base we watched others die in equally horrible ways, until he reached the lead Serpent. The man tried to make threats but with a raised hand Vengeance pinned him against the wall, and then, raising his other hand, pointed his index finger at the mans chest and dropped his finger downwards; the VIPER leaders innards splashed out through the bottom of his uniform, Vengeance had used gravity to rip the leaders organs through and out of his body. I heard the collective gasp in revulsion from everyone seated; Succor gulped nosily and I felt bile rise to the back of my throat, “God let this not be a mutant power, sweet Jesus, nobody deserves that,†I whispered, more to myself than for an answer from the others.

     

    Clark stood for a moment, pointing the remote at the video. “Now here is what happened at 6pm last night. Vengeance came into the nuclear station all that was caught on video as well, watch.†The next video clip started with a view of level one of the substation, Vengeance walked into view and pointed at a wall, within seconds an odd little bubble appeared in the center of the concrete wall widening outwards in a spiral pattern consuming the concrete until it was wide enough to walk through. Inside the room where we found the cords and the ball bearing, stood new armor, strangely sci-fi looking, with silver blue swirls and odd hovering spheres. Vengeance stripped out of his old armor, stark naked we got another shock, half of Vengeances body was blackened, burnt and somehow, somehow that man was surviving with a burn trauma that would of put anyone else 6 feet under. He got into his new armor, disconnected the cables (power dropped at that point, so there was the explanation for the brownout). Once suited Vengeance turned and pointed at his old armor, it rose from off the metal sheeting and suddenly it began to compact, swirling imploding until the old armor was nothing bigger than the ball bearing, which he then released and it dropped into the flooring with a resounding clang (hence the buried bearing). Vengeance then turned and stalked out of the room; Clark cut the video, turned on the lights and looked at us.

     

    There was some mumbled poor taste jokes from Matt; Succor asked if Vengeance would be coming after Geiger or if he knew if Geiger was a hero. Geiger mumbled, how he hoped to hell Vengeance knew he was a hero. A thousand thoughts ran through my head each scenario getting worse than the last when Clark finally spoke up.

     

    “To answer your question Frost, no, it’s not a new mutant power. Apparently after his last run in with us, Vengeance learned how to control gravity on a new level. His new armor encases a miniature black hole, that’s why it was charging in the substation. The bastards got a whole new level of power, a new and improved Vengeance.†Clark paused before continuing, “We could assume that Vengeance has seen the latest videos of our little team and learned that Geiger is one of the good guys, but as demented as he is, were not sure if it matters.†Geiger swallowed hard at the comment; Clark continued, “regardless, Vengeances status has been changed across the board by all agencies, he’s no longer just a vigilantly, villain status has been added, along with a Code Red warning on any attempts at apprehending. Let’s just hope he stays away from us and stays focused on VIPER, they’ll sure have one hell of a time on their hands keeping themselves alive now.†We murmured our agreement with Clark’s assessment of VIPER’s future problems.

     

    “Now then, we have something else to discuss,†Clark started only to be interrupted by the ringing of the black phone at his desk. There were some puzzled looks as Clark fairly leapt to catch the phone before the second ring; I understood why he had reacted so, that line only rang if the powers above called and usually it was because it was an emergency. Clark answered and we watched his eyebrows shoot upwards, “yes she’s still here, why? No, why her? Operation Jehosaphat, hmm; nobody closer, alright hold on,†Clark extended the phone towards me, “it’s for you."

     

    I took the phone, the gravely voice of Director Stone greeted me. “Firefrost, is that kid Succor there near you?†I murmured yes, “Yes, good. Listen, in 15 minutes a satellite that has been in a decaying orbit is going to come down between Hudson City and Millennium City, you’re the closest and we need you to get your ass up there as quickly as possible and make sure it crashes somewhere safe. Direct it if you have to, keep it away from the populated areas. Its falling fast, the visual we have, it’s about the size of a ping-pong table, one wing sheered off, but its solid, and it’s hotter than hell. Have Clark give you the mini cam/audio setup so we can monitor once you get up there. Get your ass going girl. You’ve got 14 minutes.†And with that, Stone hung up. I repeated what was going on as quickly as I could and looked at Succor as Clark went to get the monitoring setup. “Well Succor, you’re going to have to boost me enough to support a boost in flight and my capacity to keep it going. Think you can do it?†I added with a smile, as I hooked up the headset-radio Clark handed to me (nicknamed spyglass by the PRIMUS techies); I love these things, direct video feed with full diagnostic capacity through little sensors connected to the eyepiece, PRIMUS had taken the idea for the eyeglasses computer and had improved it. Succor cracked his knuckles and grinned, “are you sure you can take it Captain?†and then he touched me. I shivered and gasped, for that split second raw energy flooded into my nervous system and set my world aglow; I felt a smile go from ear to ear in the euphoric state of raw power. I wonder if its possible to become addicted to that rush, I have often wondered if it was the same feeling that drug addicts had when they shot up on their particular brain of poison.

     

    I did a video/sensor/audio check on spyglass, while the timer in my eye kept the countdown as the elevator ticked off the floors to the roof launching pad: 13:37 and dropping; the rest of the team stood behind the clear blast panels as I ran to the center of the pad, looked up to locate that little bright light that was the satellite and launched.

     

    They say that most of the world population has dreams of flying; there is nothing in the world like it, I love it and thank God every day that its one of my abilities. My two forms of flight resemble one another, the simple more gentle one is where fire and ice combine to allow steam based flight; the more complex flight looks like the space shuttle lifting off with fire and ice blowing off below me in the most damaging capacity. But now, with Succor’s energy assist, my “blast off†was all that and a bag of chips, I was a comet blasting through the atmosphere. All that scientific thinking goes out the window while I’m in the euphoric state of flying, I revert right back to a 8 year old kid with her comic books dreaming about flying with Superman.

     

    Within seconds I reached the satellite, did a really rather graceful snap turn to match its falling trajectory (apparently in open space I can turn on a dime, heaven forbid I learn how to do this in tight quarters) and sped along side of it. I did a quick corkscrew around the satellite and stopped at the most damaged area where I could see within the wreckage itself. The roar of my own power and the falling satellite was almost overpowering to the audio but MC could still get their readings and as I peered within they saw what I saw, a coffin, black, sleek with several tubes and wire leading out of it into the satellite. MC cycled through their readings when spyglass caught something that threw all of us for a loop, one of the screens inside the satellite was a medical monitor, as I got closer I could read blood pressure 180-40 with EKG delta readings spiking up to alpha, whoever it was, was waking up inside the coffin. That changed everything, something, someone was alive within that satellite, and we couldn’t just let it smash into the water and kill whoever it was. MC and I discussed it for a moment before coming to the logical conclusion, I’d have to stop or slow its descent, traveling hundreds of miles an hour and I would have to stop it; God willing I still had enough power in me from the boost to be able to do it.

     

    I flew ahead and began to use my flight against it; I put my back against the ruined front of the satellite and using my flight did my Superman vs. the speeding train impression and pushed. I may be fireproof but I’m not damage resistant, the searing metal didn’t harm me but the jagged metal pressing into my back did. MC kept a countdown and trajectory as each burst slowed our descent, but I had already calculated I would not be able to slow it down enough before we hit Lake Erie. I was exhausted, I had never used so much of my power before and even with the boost, I could feel things inside me going wrong and I still had too far to go in slowing our descent; Lake Erie was coming up too fast, I tasted blood in my mouth as something else snapped inside as I made one final attempt before we hit, I flipped over the edge of the satellite and onto the top of the coffin, and encased myself and the satellite completely in the largest ice cube I could generate and prayed we’d survive the impact. We hit Lake Erie a meteoric ball of fire and ice.

     

    Fortunately like all good ice cubes, we bobbed to the surface a moment later. In that moment after the impact, amidst the low beeping of the onboard system, I gave a silent prayer of thanks and looked down at the coffin below me. I shocked to see a pair of beautiful violet eyes staring back at me. There was a small view port in the top of the coffin and I hurried to undo the containment system. Spyglass squawked in my ear as Clark took com, “Frost that was on hell of a show, we have a boat on its way out to tow you back in, what else can you give us?†I replied back, “well I have a human male, white hair, solid violet eyes no whites, approximate age early 20’s, physically fit and healthy according to the readouts; you may want to start a search on whose been missing, †I replied, after the last bolt popped off and I flipped the lid off the coffin and looked down at our guest. And well endowed, I thought to myself; my God, what is it with the gorgeous men and me lately? Here was this kid I just rescued from a fiery death and I‘m staring at his genitals. Thank God no one could see me blushing and I made the attempt to make my voice professional again and started giving feedback to the conversation going on the other side of my headset, as MC started reporting back to me the vitals they were getting from spyglass; along with some other snide comments I started hearing as well; there was one comment about space germs getting out of the coffin that came from Matt, to which I quickly sniped back that with the levels of heat in here any germ that survived would have to be a superbug to begin with and that’s why I had put up the ice ball, so get off the line and shut up.

     

    The boy was hooked up to a complete life support system; an intubation tube and mask covered the lower half of his face, metal ports in his arms where tubes had pulled out or I had pulled them out. The heat coming off of him was incredible, defiantly a fire starter like myself. I watched the heat readings climb from 600 Kelvin to 1400 Kelvin, as a look of panic raised his eyebrows, and I realized that I wasn’t talking to him but just to MC, so I decided to start including him into the conversation. I also turned off my armor so he could see it was a normal person talking to him, and not some sheen of fire licked ice. I spoke to the boy, don’t worry, we’ll get you out, your safe, all those wonderfully reassuring words you use on people in panic situations. MC radioed in that Wire and Geiger were outside of our ice cube now and were trying to push us towards shore. Geiger told me that he could feel the heat radiating off of the ice and it was melting fast, I concentrated for a moment and added enough ice to us to keep us afloat, and deciding to be a little artistic in my endeavor, shaped the ice cube into a tugboat complete with steaming smokestack (venting our heat was easier that way).

     

    MC radioed in that the only person that was listed as missing that had signature white hair and full violet eyes was a young heroine that had been on the scene for only a few months and had vanished back in 1987, her name Plasma. Could this kid be her son? But if she vanished 16 years ago, he was looked too old to be her child. We’d get our answers as soon as I got the tube from down his throat, or so I thought.

     

    The temperature skyrocketed and the wave of heat blasted out of him as I removed the tube. Suddenly he could move, his arms curled up against his chest and his hands balled into fists and with his first short breath of air he wailed; a child’s cry of distress. With his second breath, radiation counter at my side screeched in overload and the spyglass readout blinked briefly in warning FAST NEUTRON FLUX DETECTED IMMEDIATE EVACUATION CRITICAL, I got my armor up seconds before the explosion blew me through the remains of the satellite, the ice boat and into the air, unconscious.

     

    I awoke in Wire Walkers arms; the two of us flying towards the remains of my ice tugboat, coming towards us from the opposite direction us was the PRIMUS boat. The thin wail of a terrified child came in waves from inside the remains of my tugboat. “I thought you were flying with Geiger,†I asked Wire, he blushed for a moment and replied, “I had to drop him to save you, if you had hit the water it would of killed you. He’s probably on the bottom of the lake by now.†I let out a low laugh, Geiger’s life support system would keep him alive and trucking, but it would be quite the walk for him towards shore, his armored form sure doesn’t allow him to swim; maybe he’d pick up a catfish along his way back. Spyglass was gone, blasted off, but the radio had survived and so had the radiometer at my side, its readout ticking off in pulses, showing that for every cry, a wave of radiation was released. I radioed for PRIMUS to stay back, Wire, Geiger and I had been irradiated, no need for PRIMUS to get closer until we could get the baby quieted down. I had fervently prayed that the ice and layers of metal between the Wire and Geiger might have kept the radiation levels down for them, but I knew that the possibility of lethal dosing was there. I know I certainly was heavily irradiated, in that split second before the explosion, the radiometer had spiked, and therefore I was already lethally exposed. Wire dropped me onto the remains of the tugboat and I made my way back to the baby, rebuilding the ice to keep the satellite afloat.

     

    Heat and radiation rolled off of him in waves as he howled in fear, probably pain. I did the only thing I could think of, put my arms around him and made mommy noises. Mom, I remember whenever I was scared you would sing to me, that sappy Disney song from Dumbo, and as I stat there, arms curled around this twenty-year-old sobbing baby, I cooed to him and sang. I heard Slates snide comment over the radio “Firefrost you must hate having to do that.†I didn’t dignify with a comment. Slate knew nothing of me personally, so he was talking out his ass again. He didn’t know how close I was to you both, how much I had wanted a husband and my own children, someone to share my life with, how terrified I was of my own needs as a woman; so I sat and sang, fortunately nobody could see the tears evaporating off my cheeks. Someone evil had done something terrible to this child, and all I could do was try and comfort him wrapped in my own emotions.

     

    Slowly he quieted down, his sobs less gulps and more regular breathing, the radometer stopped screeching and the temperature dropped to a steady 200 Kelvin. PRIMUS pulled up slowly next to us and tethered the satellite to the side of the boat; someone reached over to me gleaming syringe in hand, “quick take it, it will knock him out.†The metal link into his arm there the satellites wires where hooked into him was open, just where it enters the vein, so I quickly put the needle in and pushed the trigger home, within seconds he slumped against me in slumber and I sighed in relief.

     

    We pulled into the civilian docks, long since evacuated. Suddenly about a half mile out there was a violent bubbling in the water and suddenly a beam of energy erupted from below the surface of the lake. Wire laughed, “I’d say that Geiger survived.†I replied that there might be a chance he could find the Edmond Fitzgerald down there. PRIMUS carted the remains of the satellite onto a truck at the gangway and put the kid into one of our ambulances and headed off for headquarters. Shadowkahn and Slate and Succor met Wire and I at the docks; I dropped my powers and staggered, I was exhausted, irradiated and broken. Succor scooped me up into his arms in a hug, healing me in an instant but inside still felt wrong. “You realize were all going to have to go through decontamination procedures back at base, don’t you?†I mumbled into his shoulder, hoping everyone could hear me. Clark answered over the radio, “everyone at the crash site will be heading back into MC headquarters for deco, and the next van is for you folks so just pile in. We’ll post a team to wait for Geiger to get himself out of the lake and bring him along later. Good job Firefrost, good job, I’ll debrief you later.â€

     

    The trip back to Millennium City was uneventful; decontamination was uneventful. By the time we were done, Geiger had finally made it back and was just starting procedures, I could see the cracks along his armored skin and he grinned that silly grin he has after he’s survived whatever been thrown at him. “I cracked!†he said, “I got red hot pushing the tug and when Wire dropped me into the lake to save you, I cracked from the heat stress! Good thing I’m so invulnerable huh?†I smiled at him, I wondered if he had ever read some of the X-Men comic books involving Colossus and immediate extreme changes in temperature.

     

    With the rest of the team still unexposed and waiting for us; Wire, Geiger and myself took the mandatory tour past MC labs for Dr. Coss to take blood and skin samples. I asked him to make sure a set went to my lab at the base so I could follow through on the mutations in the DNA. Not every mutant is invulnerable to radiation in fact, very few are, but varying doses of radiation does seem to have a further mutating effect on our DNA; one of my papers years ago had actually been on that same subject so maybe, just maybe Geiger and Wire still had a chance.

     

    You know Mom it’s strange knowing that death is coming for you. Clark and I sat down to talk about it while the rest of the team went off on our Bourbon Street Mission, to question the owners of the buildings in the Bourbon Street area. Everything we had worn when Starchild (that’s what they’ve decided to name the kid) went off will be encased in lead and concrete, though somehow, Wire’s gorget wasn’t radioactive, ah the miracles of other-dimension technology. The radiometer I had been wearing had redlined at 3217.89 rads/hour when we had gone boom. I already feel “odd†that was the easiest way of putting it, a sort of drawn, withered feeling; I am 99.9% sure that my exposure is terminal, it will just be a matter of how long it will take before I drop dead.

     

    The kids would call me fatalistic and silly, but you cant be this brilliant and not know your dieing from radiation exposure. Succor’s healing kept me from expiring on the docks but the radiation is still doing its work, I can already see it in the mirror, there’s a slight hollowing in the eyes; what’s happening now is textbook, cell mitosis had stopped and DNA synthesis next would be cerebral syndrome, nausea, confusion, tremors, ataxia convulsions and finally death. I have a lot to look forward to don’t I, I’m going to drop dead in the next few hours or days and there is nothing I can do about it. PRIMUS might be able to help, the Dystergia healing tanks do wonders but well, who knows, they can’t fix everything can they. Can they?

     

    During our decontamination, Clark had Starchilds DNA run and was analyzing the remains of the satellite, (fast little bastards aren’t they) and came up with some interesting facts: 1. The child was defiantly Plasma’s, 2. The child was only 16 years old but was aging at 1.5 times the normal rate and 3. Starchild was also Gigaton’s son. Which meant that that Doctor Destroyer had a hand in Starchilds birth and subsequent incarceration. As Clark said, the boy was still a baby because all he was supposed to do was power the satellite, no need for a Matrix education; the boy was nothing more than then a battery that wasn’t supposed to wake up. How nice. I swear Destroyer exists just so we can remember how wonderful the rest of the world is. I don’t think we’ll ever know the whole story behind Starchild but PRIMUS was sure the hell going to make sure he has a happy ending that involves them; Clark’s sending him to Stronghold to put the kid through what he would need to evolve into a normal (and I use that term relatively), kid. I am hopeful that something good will come out of that child, God knows he deserves a chance at a “normal†life; who knows, perhaps he’ll join my little team of killer toddlers at some point.

     

    My team. Hmm, I’ll do what I can for them while I still can. No Children’s Crusade for them.

     

    Good news, bless these research hounds; warehouse one is owned by Omega Corp. and, according to the interview done by our intrepid hounds, won’t see unless the dollar signs come up, same with the shipping Concordat that owns the other warehouse, give us a bigger payoff and we’ll sell, as easy as that. Warehouse number three was so buried in whitewash I’m amazed at how many layers of paint we had to take off before we found the greasy underside of the Giovanni mob lying at the bottom of it all. So we have 3 warehouses that are going to sell if their price is met, one apartment complex that was just bought out so that’s no threat and one little old man named Mr. Kingston who’s sweet old wife passed away leaving him his memories and her rose garden. So, can you guess who’s going to get hit by the next arson, I’ll give you 3 tries…if you guessed Mr. Kingston you win the solid gold cupie doll! Tomorrow we’ll begin our old fashioned stake out of the area; I’ll keep the team spread out over the warehouses and Mr. Kingston’s home, Shadowkahn and Wire will sit on Mr. Kingston’s porch and wait, if the Instigators show up they have the best chance of keeping them occupied long enough for the rest of us to swoop in. Geiger and Slate will take the Omega Corp and Concordat’s warehouses and I’ll keep track of the Giovanni’s; I can get the three of us there fast enough if need be. There have been rumors about Omega Corp and I must admit I’ve always been more than curious about them, I know PRIMUS is as well, keeping Geiger (Mr. Nosey) over there will be a guarantee that he’ll find something. Here’s to hoping I don’t drop dead in the middle of the mission.

     

     

    July 11, 2003

    Short entry. A comedy of errors occurred tonight, I’m writing it down before I forget, I’m feeling a little more short fused (ok a hell of a lot more short fused) then normal, I’m putting that off to the radiation poisoning though I haven’t dropped yet (Yippee!)

     

    We headed out to the stakeout points earlier this night, Wire and Shadowkahn on Mr. Kingston’s home, Geiger and Ranger Matt on the Omega Corp and Concordat’s warehouses and I perched on the Giovanni’s (after checking for alarms).

     

    Geiger took note that if you got within 5 feet of the Omega building the radios went dead, so they kept on top of the Concordat building. Everything was quite until Geiger noted that there was an open rooftop window on the Omega Corp warehouse where it had been closed a moment before. And like a good stakeout investigator, leapt across space to the Omega Corp building to check it out, unfortunately he jumped before I could give him orders, effectively cutting himself out of audio communication, though Matt could still see him fine (unfortunately pissed me off just a little more than I wanted to be).

     

    While Geiger investigated, Matt looked up and spotted an airborne humanoid, little jet wings, suit, etc., and panicked howling over the radios “I’ve got a possible Albatross sighting!†And then the worst thing possible happened, he fired.

     

    He blew his cover (since it was flying away from them) blew Geiger’s cover by firing on an unknown target of unknown FF signature (friend-foe see I do read!) I could swear I heard a communal gasp of shock across the radios. I could see the figure in the air from my position and wasn’t surprised to see it turn in midair, lookdown and fire on his position. What I didn’t expect was to hear was the “oh shits†that started from Matt’s line as the teleport beacon hit near him and teleported in 3 Mark 1s and 2 unknowns. Needless to say I practically launched myself from the warehouse on an intercept course for Wire Walker and Shadowkahn. I had already decided that 3 Mark 1s was more than what our team could handle and I wasn’t about to let Matt or Geiger go out in a blaze of idiotic glory. Wire and Shadowkahn would help on the pickup if necessary but I was going to get them and Matt and Geiger before the shit hit too hard. Little did I know, as I listened to the radio of Matt’s play by play; Geiger had jumped back over behind the Genesis bots to try and flank them, but it didn’t help. As soon as the kid had landed one of the unknown bots, which Matt described as a spider looking, jumped onto Geiger and promptly exploded, knocking Geiger to his knees, the Mark 1s then all torso turned and fired simultaneously into Geiger’s chest, practically flipping him backwards and dropping him out for the count. The other Genesis unknown had turned and dropped a grenade towards Matt, which Matt had managed to dodge, here’s the new twist; the grenade explodes, but not a normal “kaboom!†no this was something different, the explosion was dark and swirled around in a small vortex before compressing in on itself and vanishing. Warp grenades, how nice, when the hell did Genesis get those? Matt seeing no other options dove down into the hole in the roof that had just been so conveniently created for him and dodged his way into the 2nd story of the warehouse.

     

    You know what Matt’s words were? “You guys get out of here, I’ll meet up with you.†Bullshit, totally bullshit and I told him as much. Here was the confrontation I had so desperately wanted to avoid and now had to deal with under probably the worst possible circumstances. I had picked up (one in each arm) Wire and Shadowkahn by that point and I poured on the speed, rocketing towards the Concordat warehouse. The plan was to have either Shadowkahn or Wire grab Geiger’s unconscious body off the roof and we would pick up Slate on the downbeat. The whole time Matt is arguing with me! I couldn’t believe it, this was a desperate attempt on my behalf to get all of us out of Genesis’s hands alive and he wanted to grandstand and make it on his own. I snapped, hard and growled into the radio that he better get his ass out the 2nd story window and onto the pavement below, before it gets blown off by Genesis (who were stalking him in the warehouse by then), and not to argue it with me or so help me God I would be the one to kill him. We came rocketing over the warehouse and somehow (God was with me on this one) maneuvering Wire so he could grab Geiger as I did the flyby. Wire dexterously managed to grab Geiger’s legs and held on tight as we roared across the rooftop (fortunately not setting it on fire but defiantly bubbling the tar!) I spun over the edge of the roof and headed for the street. Sill arguing with me, Matt crashed through the window and landed in the street two stories below; I could just see him start to run as we came about for his pickup. Shadowkahn had decided that picking up Slate while still being held in my arms would probably hurt, so he maneuvered out of my arm by wrapping his legs around my stomach and flipping over arms outstretched for Slates. Thank God the embarrassment didn’t hit me till after we were out of danger, but wow talk about odd positions, we must of looked ridiculous; but it worked. Slate gave a run and as we passed overhead, Shadowkahn latched onto Matt and we took off burning like a rocket through the streets away to safety.

     

    Needless to say the argument didn’t end there. I think Matt and I went off on each other for at least another hour. It took the better part of that hour before Geiger woke up and in my anger bitched at him for doing his job. I later apologized to Geiger; after all, he had done his job, trying to check out why a window was suddenly open. So that leads us to another question, did the Genesis fly bot come from the Omega Corp building? What would Geiger had seen if Matt hadn’t freaked out and shot the airborne? We’ll never know; I’m sure by tomorrow there will be nothing in the Omega Corp building, whether they do or do not have something in common with Genesis. Nobody likes to have supers fighting over their property if they can avoid it.

     

    As for Matt, well lets just say it’s another straw on the camels back, perhaps this one will break it; obviously this incident will go into tonight’s report. He fired on an unknown and non-threatening target (at the time) and blew cover, thereby blowing the mission objectives, even if it was something as simple as stakeout. He disobeyed and argued several orders from me, when then turned into one hell of a bitchfest between the two of us over radio, if this was the military wouldn’t he be getting court-martialed for that offense, would I? He panicked and fired, what if it had been another superhero that just happened to be going over at that moment? A lot of “what ifs†but one thing is certain. He’s proved his unstable I’m not going to let him take this team down. Come hell or high water, I want him out, no more second chances. I landed where we had parked the transport van and dropped them all off, putting Geiger into the back and throwing the keys at Matt for him to drive home. I couldn’t stay in the car with him, no matter the usual danger, I was flying home; or at least at that moment, walking home.

     

    I groused as I walked away from the van, Shadowkahn following beside me. That at least penetrated my anger, stalwart bodyguard to the last. I was mumbling, mostly under my breath, but apparently loud enough for Shadowkahn to hear me quite well. He put a hand on my shoulder, “You know, you need some time off, I’m going to take you out to dinner tonight and get you drunk so you can relax.†That stopped me dead in my tracks; did Shadowkahn just offer to take me out and get me drunk? He smiled at me, I could see that around his eyes and for the first time in days, I laughed. Why the hell not, I said, and we walked.

    Date Unknown.

    I’m not sure, not much is making sense. I went to sleep in a perfectly “normal†world and awoke to abysmal horror. It’s all too confusing. Let me try and put my thoughts together to understand, to explain.

     

    I’d awoken in a pool of ice water, it wouldn’t have mattered much except I had gone to sleep in my bed. Lying on my side, breath bubbling into the water, lingerie soaked through to the skin, I puzzled the strangeness of it all and then sat bolt-upright trailing water and ice crystals with me. The bizarre thought of “I’ve awoken in the Wampa cave on Hoth, shouldn’t I be hanging upside down?†until I began to look around the room. My bed a broken cocoon of ice, the walls and floor of my bedroom enshrouded so thickly by layer after layer of ice I could barely see the outline of furniture. I sat in a state of panic, surely the radiation poisoning had hit me during the night and I had lost all control of my powers as evident by all the ice. My gaze traveled upwards unto the ceiling and a thin wail of fear escaped me; the ceiling was gone, burned straight through up into a dark cloud shrouded sky. My God, had I done this? Had I hurt anyone as my powers had exploded? I shifted to hero form and flew slowly through the charred remains of the roof, rising above the ruins of the mansion.

     

    I do mean ruins; half the second floor and was gone, sheared away, the attic gone completely. Another whimper escaped me as I slowly turned in midair to surveying the surrounded blasted land; the trees were gone, charred stumps remained amidst a barren frozen landscape; 80 feet up was a coating of thick clouds as far as my eyes could see, blocking any sunlight, leaving the world deathly quiet trapped in a dismal grey snowfall.

     

    My curiosity and fear had peaked, I must know how far the damage went so into the atmosphere I traveled, using my slower flight, not wanting to super-burn through the cloud cover, who knew if it would combust or not; I had a brief horrific vision of my flames touching off a fire that would burn the sky but quickly squelched the image, I had to know if this was just an area disturbance. The clouds were dingy grey and the air tasted awful, at 8 miles up I was still enshrouded in foul cloud but I would not stop, and flew until I finally burst through the topmost layer into the brilliant sunlight. I was 10 miles up; the thin icy air barely filled my lungs. At least I am immune to the effects of cold; however the thin air did nothing to nourish my fires (highly required for my flight capacity). I hugged myself in anxiety; as I rotated in place, I saw no break in the cloud cover whatsoever; nothing but grey foul surging clouds from horizon to horizon.

     

    I did not want to leave that brilliant sunlight, but as I surveyed the rolling clouds below me, I realized that I could not be the sole cause of such a cataclysmic event; I might be responsible for what happened to the mansion but even at my projected worst power explosion (yes I had done projections), there was no way I could of darkened the sky and blocked the sun; something else was afoot. I closed my eyes and turning towards the sun, back flipped into the cloud cover, heading for grey snow-covered terra firma.

     

    I broke cover over what I suspected to be Lake Erie, though nothing moved across its dismal surface. I knew the earth would rotate under me during my flight up, but I hadn’t expected to be so far off course. I zigzagged across its surface, looking for any signs of life, finding none. I eventually found my landmarks and flew back towards the remains of the mansion and the gnawing fear that had been growing inside my belly; would I find anyone alive within or was I alone? Geiger might have survived what I did to the mansion but could have anyone else? Who else had been inside last night? Had Kane and I made it home, made it to the bar so he could get me drunk? I couldn’t remember, I couldn’t’ remember making it home at all. I looked down at my watch, 3:28 am, July 12th, but then I noticed that the hands weren’t moving, I had no idea when I was. I tried the earbud radio that I had forgotten was in my left ear, but I only picked up two signals, a strange ‘deet, deet’ sound and the UTC signal? The atomic clock signal was still running, how odd.

     

    Something gnawed at the back of my mind, doubts about this entire situation surfacing but nothing to put my finger on. I landed in my bedroom and looked, really looked at my bed and the remaining cocoon of ice. I had been completely enshrouded by the ice until something had prompted me to melt outwards and awaken, but that meant I had been encased in my ice, completely encased in my ice. I might be immune to cold and hot environments but that doesn’t mean I have life support like Geiger does. I should of suffocated during my entombment, but I hadn’t, that was my first real inclination that something was a little more “offâ€, something, hell this whole thing wasn’t right but now I had an actual point I could put my finger on and although it was a disturbing thought “I should be dead,†it was one that my mind could focus and gnaw on.

     

    I found the outline of the doorway and began burning my way towards it, reached it and finding the door frozen solid, consuming it burning my way through the ice into the hallway beyond. Here too the ice covered everything, it all looked too much like Star Wars in my mind. Geiger’s room was closest to mine so I burned my way into his room. He was completely enshrouded by enough layers of ice I couldn’t make out any details and I spent several minutes burning down to his armored skin; the water pooling around his unconscious body begin to steam as I kicked it up hot enough to wake Geiger out of the “suspended animation†he had gone under. He sat up with that goofy grin on his face quickly fading to a frown “why am I wet?†he asked and I answered as best as I could. I had awoken covered in ice, the mansion was mostly destroyed, the world was a desolate frozen wasteland, etc. And all he could do was look at me and say, “Wow, so did you do all that?†I pointed my finger at him and hit him with a snowball, “no I didn’t do all that but I might of done the mansion, I’m not sure, come one†and he followed me out into the hallway towards the next room.

     

    As I burned through the hallway, Daniel asked me if I thought he might be able to use his plasma blast as a low level, like a low torch to help me out, I told him to give it a try, after all you never know unless you try. Geiger looked at his right hand for a moment as it flared to life, a low red pulse he turned his palm towards the walls of ice in front of us and let loose a low blast; ice vaporized before us, he grinned that cute goofy grin of his and took over burning. I was grateful for it and turned off my powers for a moment as we kept walking towards the next door; I was tiring, I had been burning my endurance ever since awakening and desperately needed the break.

     

    Steam clouded up around us and a river of freezing water began flowing down the hallway as we burned our way through the ice choking the hall, I found the stairwell down to the mansion, which also lead to the elevator leading to the base and blasted through the ice down to the first floor. I then moved into the next room while Geiger moved towards Shadowkahn’s room. I was surprised to find Buzzy’s face peering from under the distorting layers of ice, I hadn’t remembered him being in the house last night; but then again, I couldn’t remember much about the night before, that thought nagged at me, I had never suffered from lapses in memory before, so this one greatly disturbed me. My thoughts wheeled around in my head as Geiger melted the ice surrounding Buzzy, and watched as his eyes flickered open as the last of the frost faded from his skin. It was disturbing watching him “reboot,†his eyes were open, the unseeing white eyes of the dead; I watched in dread fascination as color slowly bled back into his irises and the pupils dilated with the rush of blood; the mottled dead gray of his skin suddenly flushed with color and with his first breath of air the computerized version of his voice spoke one word “working.†This six foot three version of Sergeant Rock never ceased to amaze me, to die and be reborn rebuilt each time. Although nano-technology was not within my forte I had studied its uses in medicine and learned of its uses in revitalization procedures; from what I understood, Buzzy was a sort of abbreviated name for Biomechanical Enhanced Human-Zeta, Buzzy was definitely easier. A solder from the US Marine Corps with enhanced reflexes, senses, strength, a computer in his brain, and combat abilities and a continually renewing source of life, nanites. I asked him how he felt, that same metallic voice answered, “reviewing parameters, rebuilding database, current efficiency 73% and improving,†then his voice softened as the more human aspects of him began to take over, “I am not feeling as well as I should be, my computer states I am only running at 98% efficient and it is unable to figure out why it’s unable to regain that 2%,†then he looked at me “what happened Firefrost?â€

     

    “I’m not sure Buzz, I’m really not sure. At first I thought it might be that my powers mutated from the exposure to the radiation but now, now I really don’t know, the world outside is a blasted wasteland and the mansion is partially destroyed.†I thought for a moment, “your radio working Buzzy?†he nodded in assent as he got to his feet and began to dress, “you have greater range than I do on this headset, see if you cant find someone out there, all I have are two frequencies a ATF signal and some sort of computer sounding noise.†He got that far away look in his eyes he sometimes gets when concentrating on what the computer does, (sometimes he clicks and beeps but I think that’s mostly for humor value), “no just those two signals you identified, although the one computer signal seems to be a form of ongoing communication, I will continue to try and work on deciphering it.†I thought about that for a moment and then sighed, his answer to the next question was the one I was dreading, “Buzzy, you have a computerized chronometer correct? Can you tell me what time and date you have?†I could tell he checked even as I asked, his eyes widened in surprise and confusion, his voice echoing that surprise as he said, “the UTC signal I am receiving tells me that its is 2pm EST, July 19, 3004.†That’s not possible, it can’t be. We could not of survived that long frozen, it’s just not possible, I kept mumbling to myself as we waded the ice water river across the hallway and into Shadowkahn’s room to join Geiger in his resuscitation efforts.

     

    Geiger had melted the room down to a miniature lake, with Shadowkahn’s bed a frozen island and on that island was a strange pulsing, glowing cocoon, part energy, part material, which fell away at our touch revealing Kane’s sleeping form within. “A magical cocoon, cool,†Geiger whispered, with that little noise Kane’s eyes shot open in surprise, “What the hell is going on?†was all he said. Once again I launched into the confusing explanation of what I had discovered so far, depending on how many more of us we found alive meant I would be telling it all over again. Kane did his little ninja trick and switched into his uniform and gear and followed us out as we headed towards the next sets of doors. “What do you remember from last night?†I asked, after all, he had supposed to of taken me to dinner. His eyes creased in suspicion as he pulled up the mask, “nothing, I remember nothing and that disturbs me.†“I agree,†and we headed in mass to the next room.

     

    Since I’m comfortable in hot or cold environments without being in hero form, I had quit using my powers since I had begun to tire and let Geiger burn Wire out of the block of ice. My suspicions grew as we found Wire Walker sheathed in a strange metal casing, our touch sent it clacking backwards, piece upon piece until it retreated back completely into his gorget. Wire blinked and sat up as soon as it had completed its task; “Dude, your gorget is a life support system, cool!†was Geiger’s response. Once again I went into my explanation of what had gone on, Wire’s only comment to finding out that he had been asleep for close to a thousand years was “crap, I bet Dad would be pissed.†And I wondered if our time here would have the same meaning over in the alternate dimension of Deva.

     

     

     

    We found Matt, sitting in his gear, at his desk in front of a long dead computer. Geiger’s low level energy blasts brought Matt out of his frozen uncomfortable sitting position. He stood slowly, stretching before pulling off his helmet. That itself was another nail in the disbelief coffin that this was some sort of test; Matt might have life support in that suit but it wouldn’t last over a thousand years. Even if we had been cryogenically frozen, our barbaric way of waking everyone up wouldn’t get these results. I know, I’d had practiced in the lab, you can’t just throw fire at something under that much ice and expect it to wake up without problems, it was an impossibility.

     

    “Well that sucked,†Matt said. “What do you remember,†I asked. Matt continued to stretch as he explained, “I was doing some computer research online when the signal went dead and then next thing I know I feel the life support go off in the suit and you guys waking me up.†Once again I spouted of what I had found. “Have you looked for the staff yet? Or tried to restart the power in the house?†Matt asked. “No, I started waking everyone up first. After we find Succor, why don’t you and Geiger work your way down to the base so you can startup the emergency generators?†Matt and Geiger nodded in agreement, but then I noticed that Geiger, although armored up, was still in his shorts and tee shirt, “you may want to change into uniform though before you go Geiger.†I heard a throat-clearing cough from behind me from Buzzy and a snicker from Geiger; Wire then quoted a line from a movie, “Ah, you may want to get dressed before you fight crime today, ok.†It was then I noticed that Matt and Shadowkahn were looking at me, really looking at me, a hit of red rising in their faces. I was confused for a moment as my eyes drifted downwards…then I gasped aloud, in all of my haste to try and understand what was going on I had forgotten what I was wearing, my satin chemise nightie was soaked through from the water and ice and clung to me accenting everything I wasn’t wearing; in that moment I realized just how feminine I am; and how alone I am, one lone woman surrounded by all these men (Jet doesn’t count she’s a demon after all). The blush rose so fast I could feel the heat of it, I turned quickly and almost ran back to my bedroom to defrost my uniform and change, the echo of manly laughter followed me down the hall; so nice of them to let me know they were all getting a free show, typical.

     

    I pushed aside my embarrassment and reappeared beside them as Geiger (who had changed clothes as well) tried the last door, Succors room. He had burned down to the wood and found he was unable to get the door open. Finally he just gave up, pushed his fingers into the framework and tore the door out of the wall. We were very surprised to find the room almost opaque in solid ice; whereas the rest of the rooms had looked like stalagmite ice caverns, this was one solid block.

     

    We were all confused by this development and I went to hero form to help Geiger burn our way through the block. It was perfectly layered, thicker and thicker from Succor’s body outwards, I might have been the reason everything was frozen Succor appeared to be the catalyst; It appeared that we had been bouncing the layers of ice between the two of us for a long time. I hadn’t thought Succor could pull power from a distance never mind while he was asleep, had he been asleep when whatever cataclysm occurred? We would find out soon enough, it took longer to burn through to him than any of the others.

     

    Succor was a little more confused then the rest of them but incredibly tired, God only knows when he stopped pulling on my power, he had obviously pulled on Geiger’s life support to survive what the two of us had done together. Succor told us that he had felt a “fiery danger†during the night and he had done what he could do, boosted my ice powers and then yanked my ice building ability and started layering protection down. Unfortunately after he passed out his powers kept doing it, long after the danger had passed, some several hundred years ago.

     

    Matt and Geiger began their trek down into the base, keeping us abreast of the situation via the headsets (see there’s another inconsistency, how could these things still have good batteries?) Matt notified us that after Geiger had melted the ice heading down the stairway he found the robotic remains of our 3 members of the household staff, “did you know they were robots.†Matt asked. “No I had no idea. I know their PRIMUS agents, but not robots.†Something else odd about that, wouldn’t Wire of detected them as robots? “Hey, Matt,†I said into the radio as we headed down the hall towards Jet’s room, “Check and see if my lab specimens of mine are still alive wont you?†I chuckled, “by now they’ve probably mutated into another life form and have a full colony in the petri dish.†Matt laughed at that as well, “sure thing, I’ll have them declare us gods and we’ll take over.â€

     

    Although it seemed like only last week (indeed it still could be) we had been at each other’s throats, how is it that such cooperation can be achieved when the group is threatened? We had been threatened before, our whole lives are nothing but one threatening situation after another, how is it that we suddenly decided it was time to work together. I’ll never understand it, really I don’t.

     

    We found a strange red leathery cocoon floating in the ice that we assumed was Jet, but after we freed it, try as we might, we could not pry it open or release her from her sleep. Shadowkahn leaned into it and sniffed, then backing away tested the air again; he turned and looked at us, something obviously troubling him, “she doesn’t smell right. I can’t identify why, but even the air around us doesn’t smell right.†“Could it be the fact were a few hundred years into an apocalypse would make the air smell bad,†Geiger quipped. “No, its something else, but I cant put my finger on it,†Shadowkahn replied. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who found this situation more than abnormal and finally I voiced my opinion, “There is something about this entire situation that doesn’t feel right. But lets keep waking up the others and we’ll work it out as we go.â€

     

    In another room, after getting rid of the block of ice surrounding him, we found Huntsman, lying in repose on the bed, his hands wrapped around his Celtic dagger, very, very dead. That took us aback; we stared at the desiccated corpse trying to make sense of it. Wire exclaimed, “He’s here! He’s never here; Huntsman doesn’t stay at the house! Why is he here!†The thoughts whirling in my head came to a screeching halt, why was Huntsman dead? I had assumed it was a simulation of some sort because of the odd state we had awakened in and the ongoing theme, a thousand years in the future, the frozen blasted wasteland, the UTC signal, which could keep Buzzy from knowing the real time, our surviving by unconventional and somewhat questionable means, Shadowkahn’s acknowledgement that the air tasted differently; all of it pointed me in the direction of a trap of some sort, a trial perhaps; I had wondered if we had been kidnapped or were in a computer simulation, now I latched onto that theory. I just couldn’t understand why Jet and Huntsman weren’t part of it, was something else happening to them in the real world and we were being kept unaware of it in our simulation? I snapped out of my ruminations, as Wire reached for Huntsman’s precious dagger, “don’t touch it,†I snapped at him, “don’t touch anything, just leave him alone.†I looked hard at everyone and nodded my head towards the ruined door, “come on time to recon outside.â€

     

    We waded through the ice water down the stairway, but found it impossible to get out of the first floor; the mansion was under some 50 feet of ice and snow. Shadowkahn wanted to get an early recon, so I suggested that Wire fly the two of them out through the open roof. Succor apparently thought it would be a good idea as well, so he tapped me on the shoulder and borrowed my flight; only problem is he wasn’t too careful as to which flight he took. Just as Wire had cleared the edge of the rooftop with Shadowkahn in hand; Succor blasted off into the air. I do mean blasted, Succor had accidentally borrowed my super flight, and now looked like a comet streaking off into the cloud cover. Well so much for being unobtrusive, I thought watching Succor’s contrails through the clouds, a great glowing mass of fire trailing through that soupy grey mess.

     

    I began melting the layers towards the outside, blowing through the front doors and eventually to the outside of the small glacier that was the remains of our home. I then flew to the top of the mansion, were I watched them all stare in horror at what I been the first to see; the blasted wasteland of dead frozen trees, the dark bleak cloud cover. What hadn’t been present before when I had flown up into the atmosphere was a group of strange dark figures coming towards the remains of the mansion. “Can anyone make them out?†I asked, perhaps they were survivors like us, I wondered. Buzzy (who had climbed the ice walls like it was a ladder) looked out across the grey landscape, “I don’t think they’re friendly. I see six black skele-bot looking things, two of which look spiderish with assault rifles.†He looked at me, “orders?â€

     

    It didn’t take a genius to figure out what one, “everyone stay hidden, lets see how close they get. Find yourselves a good defensive position.†Everyone scrambled, “Oh and Succor, get your ass down here and stop showing off.†Succor barely managed to stop before impacting the roof; fortunately he wasn’t hurt in his fiery dive, I refrained from yelling at him about giving away our position, it was fairly evident that they were going to come this way no matter what.

     

    Matt’s voice suddenly radioed in “I’ve got a bad feeling guys, something’s coming our way.†To which I replied, “thanks for the confirm Matt, we’ve got them in our sights, they’ve stopped at,†I looked over at Buzzy for a triangulation, “300 feet†he replied. “300 feet Matt,†I relayed, “just you worry about getting that reactor back online, we’ll take care of it.†“Geiger, you listening?†I got a “yes mamm,†from him. “Get back up here, once you break through the iced levels of the base; you’re not going to be able to help Matt with the reactor and we’ll probably need your firepower up here.†“Ok I’ll be on my way,†was his reply.

     

    We watched cautiously as the bots closed to 200 feet and then once again stopped. Buzzy looked curious for a moment, “I think I’ve figured out what the other noise is, it’s not binary but decadecimal, I think its how they are communicating with each other.â€

     

    The radio clicked in our ears, Matt calling in, “we’ve made it below, after 30 ft there isn’t any more ice, Geiger on his way back up.†“Oh,†he continued, “I found the staff, 25 or so skeletons and 3 decayed robotic bodies that look like the serving staff, did you know our butler was a robot, Firefrost?†“No that’s news to me, I know their PRIMUS agents, but I didn’t know they were robots. Actually that doesn’t make much sense, how could they be robots and where did the 25 skeletons come from? We don’t employ extra staff.†My initial confusion over Huntsman and Jet being ‘dead’ evaporated, we never kept staff in the labs or in the base with the exception of Jones at security, this had to be some sort of trap or test, I was sure of it now; but how to get out of it. Matt’s voice broke me out of my thoughts, “it will take me 35 minutes to restart the reactor.†“Good get working on it, we’ll hold off whatever coming our way.â€

     

    “I’ll try and get a closer look at them,†Shadowkahn said, as he began to work his way around the front of the building on the ground towards their position. Slowly a fog began to form outward from his point and it rolled thickly across the frozen ground, and I watched in wonder as Shadowkahn slowly blended into the fog and vanished. Neat trick, I thought, I hope it works. The robots began to advance on us again, stopping at 100 feet, they were close enough for the rest of us to see the strange design they were made of, the two spiderish looking ones with the hand guns and then four with humanoid tops on eight legs, two ball turrets on its shoulders. We also noticed they weren’t skelebots, whatever they were; they weren’t Genesis bots or Genocide bots.

     

    Geiger joined us on the roof as we watched them watch us. Then I noticed that one of the ones with the turrets started ‘looking’ in the area of the fog; much to my horror the turret swiveled towards the fogbank and a red dot painted the area. “Oh shit, I bet you they see thermals,†was Buzzy’s comment and seconds later the shots started thudding into the ground within Shadowkhan’s fog. Shadowkahn seemed to appear out of nowhere back flipping and contorting his way out of the gunfire. “Everyone!†I yelled, “Join with me, concentrated fire on that one bot!†I checked as Wire and Geiger both raised their hands and we counted down together, “On 3! 1. 2. 3!†We released, fire, electric magnetism and plasma blast roared through the air and into the Drider looking bot (go check D&D for that reference folks), searing it and sending it exploding into a thousand pieces. Shadowkahn scrambled up the frozen side of the mansion, heading for our position. The remaining guns aimed at our position and let loose a volley of lead.

     

    We ducked for cover as the ice chipped into a secondary volley of shrapnel from the bullets peppering the building. We stayed under cover until the initial hail of bullets stopped heading in our direction. Wire looked confused for a moment and I asked what was wrong. “It’s not working! My gorget isn’t working!†and a look of panic overcame him as a second volley of bullets rained into the ledge near us. Then unexpectedly we heard a ‘crack!’ from Wire’s gorget and a thin fracture appeared in it as suddenly his force field burst into life in a circle around him. We’ll that’s different, I thought, it didn’t do that before. Wire looked as confused as we did, though he was just as relieved to have his force field back again, “Dad’s gonna kill me,†was all he said. Shadowkahn cleared the wall after the last volley of bullets and swiftly turned in the air and landed in a fighting stance, as one of the bots clambered over the edge and into our position right after him.

     

    I think there was a quick round of “oh shit,†from us as Shadowkahn squared off against it. We continued to fire down on the other ones advancing on us, and I watched for an opportunity to send some blasting power towards the one that Shadowkahn was fighting. Shadowkhan’s maneuvers were sharp, fast as he punched and fire clawed into the body of the machine. I watched for an opening until I caught sight of another set of legs coming over the edge of the roof. “Geiger, Wire! To our left!†I yelled again, “combo again, now!†And we again concentrated fire, this time blowing the torso off its legs, which then collapsed on the roof, inert. Shadowkahn had taken out the one he had been fighting and was now peering at it cautiously.

     

    “There is something wrong with this,†Shadowkahn said, “its not built properly, it wouldn’t’ be able to hold itself up on these legs.†He straightened up looking at us, “it wouldn’t have been able to do what it did, and it’s built all wrong.â€

     

    “Ok, I’ve had enough,†I shouted, “this is bullshit and I don’t believe it anymore. This is so not real.â€

     

    Suddenly we heard all around us, “Oh shit, you’re kidding me. Damn it, end program, bring them out.†And the world went white.

     

    I awoke, hearing my breathing all around me; I opened my eyes only to see distortedly through a greenish gel. A facemask covered me from chin to forehead an air tube was firmly set into my mouth clamped between my teeth. I was floating, suspended within a case in this green gel. Needless to say I was beyond pissed off. Hands reached in and gently pulled me into a sitting position and helped take the facemask off pulling the trachea tube along with it and I coughed on the regular air, feeling the burn of the tube as it came out. Someone handed me a glass of water and said “drink, your throat will be sore,†and I gulped it down. My eyes cleared and I focused on the person standing in front of my suspension case, “You bastard,†I croaked out, “What gave you the right to do this to us?†I demanded. “That’s Commander Bastard to you young lady. And to answer your question, you did, you all did; each of you signed the waver to do this experiment. Get cleaned up and we’ll debrief you.†And with that Commander Stone turned and walked away.

     

    Forty-five minutes later all of my team, excluding Jet and Huntsman were sitting around Stone’s conference table nursing various hot drinks and plates of food. Wire was looking forlornly at his broken gorget, the crack through its outer casing actually had happened, “I’m going to have to go home and have this fixed,†he said, “Dad’s going to kill me,†and with that comment he refastened it around his throat. Stone stared at us as only a man with no eyes can stare, his visor taking us in 180 degrees of vision, “before you bitch me out Frost, I’ll explain what happened and why we did it.†Stone stood and began pacing around us as he explained, “Frost you collapsed from radiation poisoning shortly after decontamination procedures and debriefing, you never made it out of the building.†I looked shocked at that comment, after all hadn’t we gone on a stakeout? “The DNA samples we took of Wire and Geiger began mutating within 12 hours of your collapse, Wire’s mutation appears to of granted him new abilities, like that force field of his, it’s not coming from the gorget anymore; Geiger’s mutations started altering his armored skin to a more shell like consistency, however it looked as if your DNA was regressing, in other words Geiger, you would have been utterly undamageable but dumb as a rock; not a good combination.†Stone looked at me as he continued, “your sample Firefrost died, a very quick and what would have been disgustingly painful death.†“So we pulled you all in, we had to run you and the kids through the tanks to get rid of the radiation screwing with your DNA, but while we were doing that, our R&D boys had an idea.†He smiled as he explained, “you see we’ve been working on ways to improve teamwork and compatibility between combat groups so since 3 of you were going to be tanked anyway, we thought why not get the rest of you to join them in the simulation.†Everyone looked incredulous at that comment, certainly nobody remembered volunteering for that little jaunt, and I know I hadn’t, or had I?

     

    “Before you all have a fit, each of you signed the forms agreeing to the test.†Mumbling began around the table and Stone quickly continued, “obviously to keep you all from blowing the simulation by knowing about it, we wiped your short term memory of the event after we dunked you all. But don’t worry, I have everyone’s signatures right here.†He patted a folder on his desk. “What about Huntsman and Jet?†asked Shadowkahn. “Ah yes, well, Huntsman we couldn’t find to come join in this little test and Jet was completely resistant to the test and the mind wipe, so we had to send her home.†More mumbling around the table from us and I spoke up, “but what about the simulation, what did you run us through?†Stone smiled, “well we ran you through the warehouse situation, which unfortunately you all blew chunks on,†he stared at Matt, “you shot without your danger sense coming on and created a liability, maybe you should pay attention to that more often,†Matt looked sheepishly away. “You were all able to deal with the reality of the warehouse situation, but the future scenario thru you all off and put you on our scent, what happened?†Each of us explained what we had found in the future scenario that had put into our minds that something was off: the smell, the continual UTC signal keeping Buzzy’s clock off, Buzzy’s inability to reconfigure that last 2% of his systems, the inability of several of us to survive 200 years of unregulated cryogenic sleep, the bots design, etc. So Stone debriefed us and we talked about it; in all we had come together as a team in the end, but how long would it last?

     

    Stone also let us know that when Starchild was on his way to Stronghold, the PRIMUS transport team had been ambushed by Genesis, and the boy taken by them. This news depressed me thoroughly, I had such high hopes for the boy to be able to lead as normal a life as one of us can; to of been used by Doctor Destroyer in such a manner and now at the hands of Genesis, what sort of future would he have? Not one that I could easily foresee and I prayed silently that we would never have to meet him as an enemy.

     

    Wire was in a panic about his gorget and we promised him that within two days we would take him to Deva and get it fixed. A trip onto The Way, the highway of and to all dimensions, this would be on hell of a trip, one that not many people outside of the Time Lords ever get to make, certainly not regular PRIMUS operatives. We would travel from out of our dimension of Earth 3 and onto The Way, I’ve read some of the files from Professor LaDene, their almost indiscernible in their information, cryptic and vague; I must admit I’m excited and terrified at the same time.

     

    So, I would have died, I knew it would of happen eventually, but the collapse came so quickly I don’t even remember it. Of course that’s probably in part of the memory wipe, but still, death was coming for me and was cheated. I’m not sure how that makes me feel really, I’m happy I’m alive, but there is a part of me that wonders what would of come next. I’m finishing this journal entry and dating it properly, its July 19, 2004, we spent a week in chamber.

     

    You know, I wonder if Shadowkhan’s promise for a dinner date made in the simulation should carry over into the real world; I’ll have to ask him about it before we go.

     

    Good night Mom, Dad, I’m off to get some real sleep. I guess I’ll meet with you soon enough, no need to rush things eh.

  14. Question for the Gallery. After having finally watched the movie Equilibrium , I am questioning how to actually write up Gun Fu. Obviously a standard Martial Art but one with range and such. Anybody want to make a go of it or has already and willing to share?

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