Life and Light: Shadow-Force Reborn (Updated Jan 24, 2011)

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Life and Light: Shadow-Force Reborn (Updated Jan 24, 2011)

Postby The Shadow » Wed Aug 20, 2008 11:16 am

[This solo M&M campaign follows on from a very long-running Champions game retired fondly years ago, dubbed "Shadow-Force". The following is a short-short I wrote as a proposal to the GM (SuentisPo, or SP for short) of how to start off the new game. (It involves slightly retconning one of the final adventures of the group.) He approved it.]

Jon stirred, moaning. He'd never felt so much pain, not even his first day as a superhero when he'd been shot multiple times. Somebody was saying something, but it took him a while to take it in. "Photon, can you hear me? Photon, can you hear me?" Finally, he managed to croak, "Yes, Alpha, I'm awake." The computer's voice radiated relief. "Good. Do you need medical attention?

"Dunno yet. Hurts like anything. Just a second." Taking a minute to catalog all his aches and pains, he cautiously tried to turn over and get his legs under him - then yelped as his ribs shot fire all through his torso. "Yowch!" Reflexively, he reached out to the zero-point, the timeless quantum satori of subatomic reality. His body scintillated for a moment, then he stood up. "Er. I think I needed some until just now. What just happened?" X-97 Alpha was uncharacteristically silent for a moment. "You, uh, took light-form for a split-second. Strobed on my camera." "What?! And I'm still here?! And in one piece?" "Seems so." "No broken ribs any more, either. Weird. Anyway... Whoa! What the heck hit me?!"

"Jessica." "Huh?! Erebus' girlfriend?" "Yep." "She, uh, doesn't have powers? That was no ordinary blow." "Didn't. She's been infected by the Shadow Realm, and apparently it's gone to her head. Shot you in the back with a darkbolt." "Why me? Oh, right. Duh. Light powers." "Right. She probably saw you as the biggest threat around."

Jon collected his wits, trying to take in the situation. The room - the dining area of the Shadow Force base - was a mess, chairs and smashed crockery everywhere. ""Where is she now?" He started striding to the Situation Room. "Opened a portal to the Shadow Realm and left." "Where's the rest of the team?" "The Phantom and Erebus are in the Shadow Realm too. No word for several hours. Bazooka and Brimstone are out on patrol; I've called them back in. Beta's doing Show and Tell for some school kids; he'll be back soon too. Technoid... he's puttering. As usual." "Yeah." Technoid hadn't been the same since he'd been accidentally melded with his armor and other inventions a couple months previous.

Soon the remainder of the Shadow Force was gathered in the Situation Room. Jon outlined the situation with Alpha's help, then appealed to Bazooka. "What do we do now?" The older man shook his head. "Not much we can do. Unless Scott can whip up a Shadow Realm portal?"

Technoid smiled distantly. "Probably. With time. My other project takes up much of my attention." Bazooka barked at him, "Dammit, Scott! Mike and James are your friends! You've known them longer than we have!" The cybernetic gadgeteer shrugged. "I value their existence. But there are... higher issues... at stake." Bazooka shook his head in disgust. "Higher issues which, as usual, you can't be bothered to explain." "Quite correct."

Jon broke in, "There has to be something we can do!" Bazooka shrugged his shoulders helplessly. "Erebus is the only hero I've ever heard of with Shadow Realm power. We wouldn't even have heard of the place if not for him." Brimstone offered hesitantly, "Maybe there's a mage out there who can cast a spell to contact them?" Beta's mechanical voice stated flatly, "Contacting the Guardians is the logical course of action."

Everyone except Technoid (who continued to stare off into space) stared at the robot. (Beta wasn't usually known for his brains, and didn't talk much.) Alpha enthused, "That's actually a great idea, brother!"

Jon nodded. "It is." The Galactic Guardians were the resident superhero team of Washington, D.C., and were some of the most powerful beings on the planet. They also acted as an informal information clearinghouse and liason for hero teams throughout the country. "I suppose you'll talk to them, Bill?" Bazooka shook his head. "I know how to fight; I leave the talking to those who can do it." "Right. How about you, Liz?" (Technoid and Beta were obviously out of the question.) Brimstone shook her head too. "Go for it, Jon. You've dealt with them before."

Jon swallowed, "Er, yeah. OK." Fighting down his sometimes-crippling shyness, he told Alpha, "Open a line to the Guardians." "Got it, Photon." A videoscreen came to life, and Starflare looked directly at him. "Photon! Good to hear from you guys in Seattle again. What's up?" Jon flushed - Starflare was too cute for words. "Er, uh. Yeah." Starflare smiled patiently, used to her effect on young men... "Uh, the Phantom and Erebus have vanished into the Shadow Realm, and we don't know how to go after them. Plus, at least one person - Erebus' girlfriend - has been infected with Shadow power. Frankly, we're at a loss as to how to proceed."

The Lady of Light frowned. "I see your problem. The Shadow Realm is 'far' from the Earth dimension, I'm told. Not many people have been there. I'm sending Dr. Miracle your way, he might be able to help." "Thanks..." Jon was interrupted by a POOF and an impressive puff of smoke as the mage teleported in. The effect was somewhat spoiled by the fact he was wearing jeans and a T-shirt, and mismatched socks. Swearing softly, he snapped his fingers and his costume appeared around him. "Right, well, yes. Let's get started."

After several hours of arcane manipulations (literally), Dr. Miracle sighed helplessly. "Sorry, kid. There's nothing I can do. I can see vaguely into the blasted place, but not well enough to find them. If I had a Shadow-imbued object or person to work with, I could probably do better, but... Buck up, though. Erebus is the only expert on the Shadow Realm around, and a survivor like no other. As for the Phantom, he's a Class Five psychic and a top-notch hero - we've had an eye on him ever since the P.S.I. incident. They'll turn up."

------------------------

After a month of the two heroes not turning up, Bazooka called another team meeting. The ex-military man's face was hard and sad. "Let's face facts, people. Mike and James aren't coming back any time soon. And they, with Scott, are the core of the team. They're gone and Scott is useless. What are we left with in terms of a team?" He looked around slowly, and continued, "I have no illusions about my own ability. I've got powers, yeah, but I'm not versatile - I shoot things and that's it. Liz has a few more tricks, but she's in pretty much the same boat. Beta punches things as well as shooting them. Jon, you're versatile, but frankly you're green as hell. What's more, none of us have the contacts in the city and beyond that the Phantom had; and with Jessica gone, our bankroll could dry up at any second."

Jon said quietly, "You're talking about splitting up." "What choice do we have? We're going through the motions at the moment, and sure we can handle any bank robbery or whatever that turns up. But if another mentalist like the Doctor comes to town, do you think any of us stands a real chance? He killed the Freedom Squad single-handed, and if the Phantom hadn't been there to protect us we'd all be dogmeat too. Every single one of us, except maybe Beta. What if Diabolus comes back? Without Erebus, none of us has any magical ability. Hell, even Forestrike and his gang would probably push us over at the moment!"

"So, what? We're going to stop hero-ing? Seattle needs us!" "No. Liz and I have talked, and we'll keep at it together - either here or in Phoenix where her folks are. But by hanging out our shingle as a team, as Shadow-Force, we attract a certain class of enemy, get into certain kinds of trouble - bigger trouble than we can handle. I don't like it either, Jon, but that's how it is."

"And what about Mike's body?! He's still on life support in the vault while his mind astral-projects to God knows where!" Bazooka sighed. "Jessica's dad will likely find it cheaper to put him up in a hospital than to maintain this whole base. It's the least he can do."

Near tears, Jon asked, "Alpha? Beta?" Alpha said slowly, "I'm wired into this building. I can be reinstalled elsewhere, but frankly it'd be a pain - both literally and figuratively." Beta stated, "My father is dead and my brother is here. I have friends here. I will stay." Jon nodded slowly. "Okay then."

Speaking to a press conference later that day, heart pounding, Jon told his city, "Yes, Shadow-Force is breaking up. But I for one will continue to stand up for Seattle for as long as there is life and light in me. X-97 Beta stands with me. If there is anyone else out there with the power and the heart to join us, we will welcome you."

"But even if not - even if we have to stand alone - we will not leave our city to those who would prey upon it. We just won't."

"You have my word."
Last edited by The Shadow on Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:56 am, edited 14 times in total.
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1 - So It Begins

Postby The Shadow » Wed Aug 20, 2008 11:31 am

In the days that followed the news conference, calls poured in from around the country, notably from teams that Shadow-Force had worked with in the past.

Starflare called on behalf of the Galactic Guardians in Washington: "That was brave. We know you're capable, so we'll do what we can for you; we can't hold your hand, but if you need major help, we're there."

Moke of the Portland Protectors, who'd worked with Shadow-Force a number of times on regional issues: "Terribly sorry to hear you guys are breaking up. Any word on the Phantom or Erebus?" "None, I'm afraid," Photon told him. "That's a shame. We'll help out where we can - we can't get up there fast, but we'll try to arrange to have one of us up there on a rotating basis." "I really appreciate it. And if you guys need anything, well, I can be there fast." "Might well take you up on that. Stay safe!"

Lone Star called from Dallas on behalf of her teammate Pecos Bill, who had worked closely with the Phantom against P.S.I.: "Bill would have called himself, but he's got unavoidable family business. We just want you to know we're thinkin' of you."

Likewise, a Miami team that had helped against P.S.I. called with condolences and good wishes, along with miscellaneous others.

It just made Jon feel all the more alone, really - driving home that the team was dead, its heart ripped out.

Alpha called another team meeting (ex-team meeting?) shortly after. "Bazooka, Brimstone - I understand you're considering moving to Arizona. Is that definite?" Bazooka said quietly, "Yes." "Can I convince you to stay a few weeks longer?" "We have to leave within three weeks. What's up?" "I'm worried about Technoid." [Me: "You know it's serious when your computer wants to stage an intervention." :)]

Alpha paused to let that sink in, then said, "His lab is sealed, and my sensors in there have gone dead. The power drain in there is... significant. He hasn't eaten in 24 hours, and I don't think he's slept in the last 48. Somebody needs to talk to him." Jon offered, "I can try to fly in there in light-form...?" "By all means."

The four heroes walked grimly to the armored door leading to the lab. Brimstone said, "Let's try talking to him first." Pressing the intercom button, she said, "Scott, can you hear me? Scott, are you there? Scott, we're concerned about you." Jon added, "We're your friends, Scott. We care about you." There was no response. After several more tries, Bazooka said, "Over to you, Jon."

Jon sighed and swept the lab door with his X-ray vision before trying anything rash. "Uh oh. He's reinforced the door with a force field. I can't get through that." Bazooka nodded grimly. "Liz, can you teleport in?" "I'll try..." There was a chuffing sound and the usual stench of sulfur, but Brimstone didn't vanish; instead she doubled over in pain, gasping, "Yep, he's got the place shielded all right!"

Bazooka said coldly, "Right. That's hostile." Jon cut in, "Wait a minute! Let's not jump to conclusions!" Bill ground his teeth, then said, "Well, in any case, we need to get in there. I'm shooting the door down. You with me?" "Yeah."

Bill planted his feet and called up his force field, a stationary cylindrical affair he could extend into his namesake kinetic blasts. Photon joined him, activating his best laser configuration. The two blasts struck in unison, visibly crumpling the door but not destroying it. A second coordinated blast took large chunks out of the door; the half-visible force field flickering somewhat but staying more or less on.

Taking a look through the gaps was... confusing. There appeared to be a large energy construct hovering over a platform of some kind - round, and ringed by glowing arcs of energy. "The angle's wrong," Bill muttered, "it can't be that big." As they were pondering, Beta casually ripped the remainder of the door off its hinges; the force field took this as the last straw and flickered out. When they looked at him quizzically, the robot stated, "It was more efficient this way." Shrugging, Bill and Jon went in.

The room was large, much too large for the building. Where it had been a good-sized laboratory with a twelve-foot ceiling, now it was a forty-foot cube. Bill said incredulously, "This isn't possible." Jon, ever the scientist, said practically, "If we're seeing what's really there, obviously it is possible." "Fair enough..." They looked at the energy construct.

Twenty feet across if it was an inch, the rings of energy - three of them - proved to surround the twelve-foot inner sphere orthogonally. Jon examined it on several different wavelengths. "Don't shoot it, whatever you do." "Why not?" "Those rings are shielding us from the thing in the middle. It's... well, it's putting out a LOT of energy. Like a small sun. If the rings get deactivated, we're all dead. So is a good-sized chunk of Seattle - maybe all of it, I'm not sure." Bazooka: "Er, yeah. Don't shoot it. Got it. Thanks."

After some awed pondering, Bazooka wondered aloud, "What's the power source? We don't want to shoot that, either!" Jon nodded, "Good point." After scanning some more, he said, "Good grief. He's got a microfusion reactor in there. It's powering the rings; the power draw on the electrical grid is only to keep the reactor going. Do you have any idea how much that thing would be worth? Billions, easy." (Although he couldn't make sense of the controls, Jon could manage to read the gauge for fuel usage; the reactor had sufficient fuel to keep going for years, if not decades.) Bill nodded. "Well... let's find him."

A search of the remainder of the room turned up a pallet Technoid evidently slept on, leads from a large nearby machine resting on it. There was also a strange device with six parabolic emitters attached to it with cables; Photon speculated hesitantly that it might have something to do with the energy construct. Also a machinery-encrusted tube large enough for a human body, though it was empty. Though there was much large equipment around, Jon's X-ray vision found no trace of Technoid.

"Alpha, are you getting any of this? Can you see through Beta's eyes?" Alpha's voice came faintly through the speaker outside the door, "I lose contact with him in there, sorry. What's going on?" Jon told him; after a long pause, Alpha said, "That is... not logical, but if you say you see it, I believe you. Can you get me a look in there?" Jon went and fetched a video camera on a cable to the outside so Alpha could see. "Bizarre. Can't help you, sorry. I got nothing." (Intrigued by Alpha's inability to communicate directly with the room, Jon checked: Radar pulses went through the door only very sluggishly.)

Bill looked around and snarled in frustration, "Where can he be?!"

Jon started. "But it's obvious." "Huh?!" Jon shrugged and hooked a thumb at the energy construct. "Unless he teleported out or something, he's got to be in that thing. It's big enough." They all stared at the glowing ball again. "I will be damned," Bill muttered, "...Jon, can you polarize your vision or something to see in there? It's too bright for us."

"Huh. Dunno, never tried. Let me think about it..." After a few seconds of tinkering with the fabric of spacetime and/or chatting up his subatomic buddies, Jon succeeded in stopping down the brightness considerably. "Oh. Oh my."

There was indeed a shadowy humanoid figure in there, upright with hands uplifted, though he couldn't make out details. "There's somebody in there all right. Odd, though, if it's Technoid, he's detached that big weapons port on his right arm; I'd be able to see it."

Bazooka swore softly. "Damn, I miss Mike." Jon nodded glumly. "Yeah. He'd pick up the image from my mind and contact him telepathically. No way we can talk to him."

Bill asked, "You're our tech guy now, I guess - unless you want to get FAQ up here?" "Oh good grief. Let's not, unless we have to." "Heh. Yeah. He's way too cocky for me to feel safe with him messing around with explosives. So, any way you can defuse the thing, or turn it off?" "Haven't the faintest idea, to be honest. I suppose I could try towing it into space, but it'd be really dangerous. I'd have to do it really fast, for one thing, and it'd put Scott's life in danger." "As opposed to millions in danger if it explodes?" "True..." "Could you get it through the roof?" Photon looked up. "That's the tricky part, yes. Especially since I have no idea where that ceiling leads to, come to think - probably not to the roof of the base. Could be Bermuda, for all I know. Or another planet. Or even the floor we're standing on!" Bazooka snorted, "It just gets more fun by the minute, doesn't it?"

He punched his hand in frustration. "Dammit, this is the last straw! First Mike and James abandon us, and now this!" "Abandon?! What are you saying?!"

"They didn't leave us a message, they just skipped out!" "You know them better than that! Heck, I know them better than that, and you've known them longer than I have!" "You don't go running off to another dimension without telling the team!" "If they did it, they had a good reason. You know that! They'll tell us all about it when they get back!"

Bill said harshly, "They aren't coming back, Jon." "What?!" "If they were going to, they would have by now." "Well, why wouldn't they?" "Maybe they're dead."

It was the first time anyone had said it out loud. Bill paused, wincing, then forced himself to continue, "Or maybe imprisoned. Maybe off saving the multiverse, for all I know. Maybe Erebus found something better and they didn't bother to let us know." "Bill, you know that's not true." "Yeah."

After an awkward pause, Jon asked quietly, "Is there any way I can convince you guys to stay here in Seattle? It's too big for me and Beta. You said it yourself - I'm green." Bill sighed. "How long have you been with us, Jon? A year?" "About that." "Five years I've fought at their side. Five years! All of our tactics are designed around Mike and James' intel. I feel like I'm missing my left arm out there, and both eyes!" Jon admitted, "We're a reconnaissance-based team." "You know it. And nobody does recon like the Phantom and Erebus. If I hadn't seen it myself, over and over, I'd never believe it."

Quietly, Jon said, "They're the heart of the team." Bill shook his head sadly. "Mike was. Erebus was many things... Don't get me wrong, there's nobody I'd rather have at my side or at my back in a fight. But he wasn't a heart."

The remnant of Shadow-Force pondered the truth of that. Jon asked, "Is that why you're really leaving? Too many memories around here?" Bill looked away, face twisting, and Liz said quietly, "That's part of it."

Bill finally said, "The other part... You know when Liz and I were ambushed on patrol a couple weeks ago?" "Yeah - it sounded like you didn't have much trouble with it." "Luckily, we didn't. But if they'd been just a little smarter, we might both be dead. It never would've happened at all before." "How will that be any different in Phoenix?" "There's fewer people there that want us dead? We've made a lot of enemies in Seattle, Jon." Photon sighed, nodding. "Occupational hazard, I'm afraid."

"So it's settled. We'll stay here a few more days, to see if Scott comes out of that thing. But we are leaving." Jon nodded, swallowing hard. "...You've done this longer than I have. How can I handle this place on my own?" Bazooka said gruffly, "Form your own tactics, design them around what you can do. Don't show all your cards - keep some of your capabilities quiet until they're really needed. Make connections - God knows Mike's charm got us out of nearly as much trouble as his powers did."

Jon nodded again, slowly, his eyes filling up. "I'll miss you guys. If... Well. If I need help... will you come?" Bill looked at his feet; Liz spoke for the two of them. "If we can, Jon, yes. Of course we will." [Of course, they all knew that Brimstone's teleport range wasn't nearly up to travelling the distance from Phoenix to Seattle....] Bazooka added, "It's not like you'll be all alone, either. Chameleon contacted me, and he's stuck in Texas - family stuff, he said - but Mystra is still in town."

Liz sniffed. "She's a total flake." "She's been useful in the past." "She's a flake and a flirt!" "I never looked at her!" Photon carefully did not get between the two of them.

As they trooped back to the Situation Room, Jon changed the subject hesitantly, "What I can't figure out is this... Shortly before they disappeared, Mike developed the ability to stay active in his physical body while his Phantom-form was projected. Yet there he is on life support in the vault, out like a light." Bazooka sighed. "For that matter, he should be able to just switch off his projection and pop back into his body instantly. I've seen him do it, lots of times." "Maybe it works differently when his astral form is in another dimension?" "Beats me. For that matter, I can't imagine anyone or anything preventing James from fighting his way out of the Shadow Realm. Home turf advantage, and all that - not to mention that he was the meanest son of a b!tch I've ever fought alongside."

On that cheery note, they parted. Shortly after, Jon got a call he'd been dreading - a summons of the remainder of Shadow-Force to Carlton Industries. The company owned by Jessica's father.

Soon he and Beta were ensconced in an imposing office. Malcolm Carlton surveyed them impassively for a time. "Only the two of you, eh? More's the pity. Any word on the missing?"

"No, sir," Jon said quietly, "There's been no word at all." "I suppose I owe you an apology on behalf of the family. While I obviously wasn't in control of my daughter's actions at the time, I'm told she did you serious injury." "She wasn't in her right mind, sir. And I recovered fine." "Glad to hear it. All the same, I am sorry." "Accepted." "Good. Now, to business. What's going on with Technoid? I hear he's been erratic lately, and the electric bill for the base has gone up sharply." Sweating, Jon broke the news about Technoid's lab.

Carlton's eyes widened and he drummed his fingers on the desk. "A miniaturized fusion reactor, you say? My, my. Hmm. What would happen if we disconnected it to take a better look?" "The base would blow up, along with a five block radius around it, minimum." The man scowled, slapping his palm down. "I dislike being blackmailed. Whether consciously or not, he's assuming I'm going to just keep paying the bills. Unfortunately, he happens to be right." "I hear what you're saying, sir, and I understand your position... just please understand that we're not happy about it either."

"Have you had any success in forming a new team?" "Not yet, sir, no. But with the power vacuum we've left in this city, there are bound to be supervillains moving here." Carlton nodded sourly. "This guy who calls himself 'Captain Kidd', for one." "He's strictly small fry, sir." "I don't know, the Navy wants him pretty badly. He's been a serious nuisance to their shipyard in Bremerton." "True... but there'll be others in time, tougher than he is. And eventually heroes will follow them. We'll have a team here again someday."

Carlton nodded. "Photon... I'm going to have to decommission the base." Jon heaved a sigh, lowering his head into a hand. "That hurts, Mr. Carlton." "I'm sorry, son. But the place is a dangerous liability as is. There's a lot of weaponry in there, as well as plenty of other hazardous stuff - the more so with this energy thing, which we are going to keep carefully under wraps. The Phantom and Erebus had the reputation to make most people think three times before attacking; Bazooka and Brimstone have enough rep to give them pause. No offense, but you and Beta don't. And I can't justify upkeep on the place for just the two of you, either."

Photon waited for Alpha to speak up through Beta's voice; when he didn't, he asked, "What about Alpha?" With a sigh, the old man said, "We'll pay to help him get situated. And if he wants a job, he's got it. For that matter, so do you." Carlton paused, then added ruefully, "I realize you've probably had your fill of people telling you, 'We'd love to help, but.' I'm sorry I can't give you what you want, but I really do want to do what I can." "I've got sufficient work, thank you." "The offer's open."

Jon then asked, "And what about the Phantom's physical body?" Carlton's brows furrowed. "What...about it?" "He's still on life support in the base's vault." "Huh. I... never thought about the Phantom's body. Don't think I ever saw it. Well. We'll definitely move him to a safe place and do everything we can for him. God knows I owe him." "All of Seattle does, sir." "True, but I mean personally." [Speaking as the Phantom's player, I was mystified by this until I recalled just now a time that the Phantom saved Jessica's life.]

"Will you let me know where you put him, sir? I would like to visit him now and then." "Haven't worked it out yet, but when we do we'll let you know. Keep it quiet." "Of course."

Carlton came to a decision. "I can do this much for you, Photon. I won't tear the base down. And if you do manage to form a viable team, it's yours." "Thank you, Mr. Carlton. That means a lot." "My door is open. Make an appointment first, though."

Flying back to the base, Photon asked Alpha over his communicator, "How much of the stuff in the base can we take away?" Alpha snorted. "I know where everything is, down to the last detail. I've got plans laid." "Alpha... How much of the stuff belongs to us?" "Well, if you put it that way... OK, OK. Not as much as I'd like. But a lot of it was made by Technoid, and in the absence of a will or other legal instrument, I think we can conclude it belongs to us more than anyone else. It was made for the sake of the team, after all, and certainly he and I worked together closely on lots of it."

"Fair enough. ... Are you going to take that job offer?" "I don't need the money... But we do need the connections. I think I will." "Where are you going to go?" "I've examined the possibility of relocating outside Seattle..." Jon gasped, "Don't tell me you two are leaving too!" "...But I've concluded that's a suboptimal course of action. For one thing, unlike some people I think the Phantom and Erebus are coming back. We're staying."

Jon took a deep breath, let it out, then pointed to the Greek letter on his chest and joked with gallows humor, "Maybe I should change my codename to Gamma to fit in around here." Alpha laughed. "Good one. Oh - by the way, the mail came in. There's a letter for you." "For me?! From who?" "Doesn't say." "What's the return address?" "Rome, Italy looks like." "Rome?! Curiouser and curiouser..."

Arriving back at the base, Photon examined the letter, postmarked a couple days before his news conference. "Rome. Weird." He opened it, to find in elegant handwriting:

The Letter wrote:Dear Photon,

I hope you checked this letter for traps.


"CRAP!" "What?!" "The first sentence says, 'I hope you checked this letter for traps!'" "Er. Does Beta need to get you to the infirmary?" "Dunno, let me read the rest!"

The Letter wrote:Now that I've got you in the right frame of mind, this is Forestrike. I assure you that I am not in the location this letter was postmarked or addressed from. Did you notice the difference?


"It's Forestrike!" The Phantom's old enemy, wily even in defeat. Alpha groaned. "HIM again!" Jon examined the letter again - sure enough, the postmark was from London, not Rome. Reading aloud now, he continued:

Forestrike wrote:Although we've never met, I'm sure you've heard a great deal about me. I have certainly heard much about you. Did you listen to the Phantom's stories about me? You won't have the chance to do that again for a long time. As for your technically-minded associate, I hope you don't have a future need to repair X-97 - either one of them; he is no longer your friend.


"Heard a great deal about me? Flattering, I suppose, but how? And how would he know about you, Alpha?" "Beats me! And dang, but precognitives are so SMUG!" [Actually, I said that out of character. But it's too darn appropriate not to have someone say it. :)]

There followed without fanfare a number of prophecies:

Forestrike wrote:You should open letters more carefully.

I recommend against Whispering to the knife.

Beware of Tezcatlipoca.

Please don't pull the plug, any of them.

Nephrite is beautiful and worthless; and faithless.

When the Door is open, only the Dead can close it; from the other side.

I have lied to you once.

You will need to save the world.

No pressure,

Forestrike


"'I have lied to you once'? What the heck?" "He's playing with you. He and the Phantom were always playing mental chess against each other, on at least five different boards at once. Apparently, he's decided you're to fill Mike's shoes."

With dripping sarcasm, "Wow, I feel so honored." "Probably you should. Think about it."

"Yeah... I guess. And there's one bit of good news in this." "Oh?"

"He said I won't get to hear stories from the Phantom for a long time. That implies Mike is alive, and that he's coming back someday." "Hmm. Unless he lied about that - but no, that wouldn't make much sense. Of course, precognition isn't perfect."

"Still, this is hope, whether he meant it that way or not. We need hope." "That we do."

[I'm kicking myself. When Bazooka asked why he shouldn't shoot the energy construct, I really, really should have said, "It would be bad." :)]
Last edited by The Shadow on Tue Sep 01, 2009 2:43 pm, edited 3 times in total.
"All right, I am not the Shadow. You have nothing at all to worry about. Except, oh, wait, I'm pointing a gun at you."



--The Shadow

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Postby Libra » Wed Aug 20, 2008 11:37 am

Shadow, it feels like it's been absolutely Ages since I last saw you post.

How are you? :D

(Good work on the tale, by the by.)
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Postby The Shadow » Wed Aug 20, 2008 11:44 am

Libra wrote:Shadow, it feels like it's been absolutely Ages since I last saw you post.

How are you? :D


Doing pretty good! SP and I have been laying plots for this game for some time, and it's good to get it underway. Hopefully we'll be able to keep updating with some regularity.

(Good work on the tale, by the by.)


Thanks. Had our second adventure last night, though it's not written up yet.

Also, I've got a bunch of campaign material to post. I'm thinking it might go better in another thread, though.
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Postby Libra » Wed Aug 20, 2008 12:08 pm

Just so long as it's posted, eh? :wink:
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Postby The Shadow » Wed Aug 20, 2008 12:32 pm

OK, the campaign thread is now up here.

There's a lot more where that came from; I'll post it as needed.
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2 - Bolt From the Blue

Postby The Shadow » Fri Aug 22, 2008 10:41 am

[Another RP-heavy session, but with some action at the end. Enjoy!]

Jon stood in the base's vault, looking down at the Phantom's still form. The IV had been replaced by a feeding tube, but other than that he looked the same as ever - peacefully asleep, breathing smooth and gentle. He looked as if he might open those piercing blue eyes of his and quirk a smile up at him at any second. A variety of emotions fluttered their way through Jon's soul. "You always knew what to do. Always had a plan. Hard to believe we're the same age - you've done so much more than me. Come back to us, Mike." There was, of course, no response. Jon sighed and trudged up the stairs.

Saturday in the base, and he was trying not to mope while he waited on Bazooka and Brimstone. It wasn't working. The media had not been kind to him in the days since the news conference. He'd expected it from the Post-Intelligencer, which had never really taken him seriously; but the Times had usually cut him some slack. And the letter columns everywhere had been freaking out over Shadow-Force's dissolution. The kindest letter he'd seen had said, "We Seattlites have been spoiled in the super-team department the last fifteen years. Now we're back roughly to where we were before the Freedom Squad was formed. We should be grateful to still have one veteran hero patrolling the streets." (The veteran in question being Beta, of course...)

"Any changes, Alpha?" "I would have told you if there were." "Yeah." After another moody silence, Jon said, "You know, I've been wondering." "Yes?"

"What did Jessica do in between shooting me and leaving? I mean, it wouldn't make sense to shoot me if all she wanted to do was leave." "She ran to the Trophy Room and grabbed a disenchanted knife." "Huh? Disenchanted?" "Mystra assured us it had been." "Whose knife was that? Wait, I guess it wouldn't be Diabolus, I don't recall him using a knife... Ugh, that demonologist guy? Before my time?" "Seth-Amon, yes." "Wait, you mean the knife he used to, well, sacrifice people? Yuck!" "We prevented him from using it for that purpose, but yes." "What would she want with that thing? And how would she even think of it?" "I have no idea."

Jon sighed, dismissing the problem. "How're the plans coming for moving our stuff?" "I have narrowed it down to two or three options." "It'll probably take a month or so for Carlton to pull together their plans for this place, I'm guessing?" "Probably more like six weeks. I plan to be moved out at least fourteen days before then." "And Mike?" "I would imagine he will be moved relatively soon."

Jon changed the subject yet again. "I'm getting a lot better with my light-form." "That should be useful." "Not as much as you might think. Check it out." He shimmered, winking out for a moment and reappearing. "I've just patrolled the entire city. There's no crime going on - right this second."

"Ah. But you have no guarantee there won't be something a minute from now." "Exactly. Plus, when I do things this way, people don't see me flying around. They need to see their heroes." "That sounds accurate."

Jon frowned. "You sound a little 'off' today, Alpha. How're you holding up?" "I am an artificial intelligence. I am... fine." "Wait... Please don't be offended by this question." When there was no response, Jon asked hesitantly, "Are you saying you just fake emotions for the sake of humans?" "No. I am saying that I can suppress emotions that prove inconvenient." Jon sighed deeply. "Must be nice." "Yes."

"What about Beta? Is he OK?" "Beta's programming is not sophisticated enough to support complex emotions. He is fine." "Huh. That's a weird thought."

Alpha changed the subject smoothly. "We have received a letter from Shift, applying for membership on the team." "Shift?" "He applied for membership in the reserve team about the same time you did. He was rejected." "Well, that doesn't sound too encouraging." "It wasn't. We still have the tapes on file, if you wish." "Well, let's take a look..." [The GM actually wrote up the interview as a little vignette, posted right after this one. I think he really nailed Erebus' smartass attitude, and the Phantom's long-suffering tact. :)]

When the tape had finished playing, Jon said incredulously, "He actually SAID that? To EREBUS?" "Yes." "Wow. So much ego, for so little cause." "Yes. He does not seem likely to be useful." "You can say that again."

Alpha repeated obediently, "He does not seem likely to be useful." Jon paused, a little creeped out by that response. "Um, Alpha? Could you put a few more cycles into this conversation, please?" "As you wish." "What sort of contact info did he leave?" "A cell phone number." Jon face-palmed. "You have GOT to be kidding me." "No." "Even I know better than that."

"You surely don't actually plan to call him." "Actually, yes, I do. I mean, sure, he's an arrogant kid... But like Bill said, I need to make connections. I have to start somewhere, and who knows, he might be useful someday." "I think you are being far too optimistic." "You're probably right, but it costs me almost nothing to talk to him. Think of it as a long-shot investment."

Alpha stated, "You can handle anything that comes up without him." "Why do you say that?" "Because I wish you to feel confident."

Jon was about to be creeped out all over again, when he caught the note of dry humor in Alpha's voice. He laughed despite himself and shook a fist fondly at Alpha's nearest camera. "Jerk. Anyway, dial the number if you would."

Soon there came a teenage voice over Alpha's speaker, "Hi, this is Steve." Jon said sweetly, "Oh, really? I was calling for Shift." "Oh, uh, just a second. He's not here right now." Click.

Jon chuckled. "Who's the phone registered to?" "Heh. A David Fitzpatrick." "So... Steven Fitzpatrick. What can you tell me?" "What do you want to know?" "How old is he?" "Eighteen. Just graduated from high school." "Oh, so he isn't underage after all - this year." "Nope." "Is he enrolled in college?" "Not that I can tell." "How'd he do in school?" "Grades were... mediocre." "Any sports?" "None of record."

"Sounds like a real winner... I guess I'm supposed to call back?" "If you insist." This time the phone was answered by a deeper voice - doubtless muffled somewhat by the mask. "Hi. I'm calling myself Mirror Mask now, I decided 'Shift' was pretty dumb." "All right... Mirror Mask. This is Photon." "Oh - the guy who got my job." "...I beg your pardon?" "They picked you instead of me." "...So they did. Anyway..." "I can't figure out why they took you over me. I mean, I wouldn't get myself shot like that." Jon gritted his teeth and bit back a retort - someday, someday, he would live down his first day as a hero.

Mirror Mask said, "So when do I start?" "Start what?" "I assume I've got the job." "It isn't a 'job'. We don't get paid a salary." "Well, I mean, I assume I'm on the team." "Actually, I wanted to meet with you to discuss it further. That's by no means a foregone conclusion." "What, so you're in charge now?" "Basically, yes." "That sucks. Well, let's get it out of the way. How about eight o'clock?" Photon kept his cool with difficulty. Since he was expecting Bazooka and Brimstone at 7, he said, "Six thirty would work better." "Oh. Just a second, let me check..." Alpha to Jon: "Five bucks says he's asking his parents." "No bet."

"OK, six-thirty is fine." "See you then." Alpha ended the call and asked, "Why are you doing this to yourself?" "Well... Like I said, we need to make connections. If I can't put up with an annoying kid, I'm not going to get very far in that department." "Oh, I get it. It's like the psychological equivalent of plunging your fists into hot oil to get ninja super-powers, or whatever." "...If you say so. Besides, he might yet be useful someday. Beggars can't be choosers." "Hope really does spring eternal, I see."

A little while later, Mirror Mask swaggered into the base as if he owned it. He was a bit taller than he'd been last year, but had the same nondescript build. Also the same garish, iridescent, dully-reflective mask - a disturbing, almost demonic visage twisted into a grimace. The thing was so grotesque it distracted from the simple black turtleneck and jeans he wore. Photon invited him to sit. "Good to meet you, Steve." "...Who's Steve?" "You are, I would think. That's how you answered your cell phone." "Oh. I, uh, gave you my buddy's number. He's the one who answered the phone the first time." "Ah. I see."

The young man, eager to change the subject, looked around and said, "Cool place. When do I move in?" "I beg your pardon? We don't live in the base." Mirror Mask seemed genuinely surprised. "Really? Why not?" "We have jobs and families to attend to." And lives, Jon forebore from saying. "Well, yeah, but isn't it cooler to hang out here?" Photon didn't even bother dignifying that with a response. Instead, he asked brightly, "So, how old are you now?" "Almost 20." Jon sent to Alpha via radio, At least he's consistent in his lies. "Are you in college?" "Nah." "Planning to enroll?" "Not right now. Don't have the money." "Taken any more karate?" "No. I, uh, haven't managed to." Translation: Mom and Dad wouldn't pay for it any more. Alpha just snrked over the airwaves.

"Have your powers developed any since we interviewed you last year?" Mirror Mask puffed up his chest. "Yeah! I'm super-strong now!" "Really." "Yeah, I can pick up guys of any size." "So, we're talking maybe 250 pounds then?" "Yeah, about that." Photon said skeptically, "I don't know that I would exactly call that 'super'-strength. There are weightlifters who..." "With one hand!" "Ah." "I'll prove it!" The lad did indeed manage to pick up a large desk with only a grunt of effort. Given his build, it did seem likely he'd need powers of some sort to do it, but...

Photon asked, "How did you find out you can pick up people in particular?" "Oh, well, when I'm fighting guys, you know? I can even throw them!" "So you've been fighting crime on your own, then." "Sure! That's what superheroes do!" "Do you have any particular defenses against attack?" "I dodge and get out of the way!" "I see. Well, fighting supervillains isn't quite the same as fighting street toughs with knives and guns..." "Just knives so far, nobody's really shot at me yet." "Being shot at is a totally different thing," Photon warned him, "It's no laughing matter." "I guess you'd know, right? Sheesh, I can't believe they picked you."

Jon gritted his teeth and managed to say pleasantly, "Well, they did. What are you going to do when supervillains fire energy blasts at you?" "Like I said, dodge out of the way. How hard can it be?" "Harder than you think," Photon told him. Mirror Mask stood up. "Well, you fire blasts, right? Gimme your best shot!" Photon hesitated, knowing he could aim literally at the speed of light; Mask for his part saw fit to add, "Wimp!"

Manfully resisting the urge to punch a laser through the boy's torso, Photon let loose a low-wattage beam. Mirror Mask dodged, but still ended up with an inch-wide smoking hole in his turtleneck with angry red skin showing through. "OK, so you got me. Stings a little. But it's not so bad. I'm tough!" "That was a low-power blast." "Oh, c'mon. How bad can it be?"

"Pretty bad... Steve." "Stop calling me that!" "I don't like being lied to." "Whattaya mean?" "I know you're not 20." "Never said I was!" "Fine. I know you're not 19, either. You realize that when you called me with a cell phone, you handed me your name and address on a platter." After a pause, "I told you - it's my buddy." "Oh, I see. You give out your buddy's number so that when supervillains track it down, they kill your buddy instead of you. Your buddy who doesn't even have superpowers to protect himself." "Um."

Photon rose to his feet and said with dignity, "Well, it's been... interesting... talking with you, Mirror Mask." "So when do I start?" "If I feel I have need of your abilities, I'll be sure to let you know." "What, so you're not taking me?" "Not at this time, no." That set off a further storm of snarky protest, but Photon finally got him out the door. "OK, Alpha. I admit it. You were right. It did cost me something: Elevated blood pressure." Alpha said philosophically, "Hot oil hurts too. Soon, Grasshopper, you'll be tough enough to deal with the Silver Paladin." "Golly. Is he really that bad?" "Worse. His greatest power is super-annoyance."

Jon rolled his eyes and said, "Well... Beta and I had better map out a patrol plan." "He's still recharging. Wait until after Bazooka and Brimstone say goodbye?" "OK. ... It's not just our dear friend Steve, you know. I assume you've read the papers." "Yeah. That can't have been fun." "Nope."

Soon Bill and Liz arrived, popping in with the familiar smell of sulfur. After the initial greetings were out of the way, Jon told them, "You'd probably better see this." He handed Forestrike's letter to Brimstone. She raised an eyebrow, groaning at Forestrike's name. "It's your favorite person, honey." Bazooka took a look too. "Terrific. Jon, listen, if those three come to town, lie low. You're no match for them." Jon caught himself about to bridle (feeling uncomfortably like Mirror Mask) but only said, "I'll definitely bear that in mind."

Liz shook her head. "Not likely they will... Forestrike knows his limitations, and he also knows that he's classified as a terrorist now. He won't risk anything. Still... I'll be sure to set up a series of teleport coordinates on the way down to Phoenix." Bill asked Jon, "I suppose you just opened the letter right up, like he says?" "...Yes." The older man snorted. "Erebus would tear you a new one. That was pretty dumb."

Jon gritted out, "I wasn't exactly privy to the usual mail-opening procedure." (He'd never really received any mail, fan or otherwise.) Bill said coldly, "Erebus would've said it was common sense, and rapped you on the head." Jon took a breath, let it out. "I'll be more careful next time." Liz shot Bill a warning glance. "Well, the good news is that Forestrike is still making himself useful. Enjoying himself in the process, of course, but useful." Bazooka agreed, "He's never lied. His letters to the Phantom have always been on the level."

Jon: "Bill, he says straight up he lied to me once." "Oh, I don't doubt that at least one of his predictions is obscure to the point of near-uselessness. But it wouldn't give him the proper jollies to flat-out lie. It's too easy; he wants to demonstrate how clever he is." Liz nodded. "His last letter to Mike was in Shakespearean blank verse, and full of anagrams and acrostics. The one before that was in cipher." Jon pondered that, wheels turning. "Hmmm. Thanks, that actually does help. You know, there's one other thing in that letter that bothers me." "What's that?" Liz asked.

"That last line. 'You will need to save the world.' He doesn't say 'You will save the world,' or 'You need to save the world', or 'You must save the world.' He says, 'You will need to save the world.' It almost makes it sound as if I will need to save the world... in order to do something else." Bazooka groaned. "It makes my head hurt just thinking about it."

The talk turned to other subjects, reminiscing about the past, remembering old friends, especially those missing. Finally, the time came to say goodbye. Liz embraced Jon, getting a little teary-eyed. Bill shook his hand and gripped his shoulder, wishing him luck. With that, they were gone.

Jon sat for a long time, staring at his hands. Finally he said, "Alpha?" "Yes?" "If I start acting like I need to prove something to somebody, please give me a verbal slap upside the head." "OK, I think I can do that." "...Because it's really, really tempting right now." "That's very understandable, given the circumstances." "Yeah."

Jon then called, "Beta? Are you charged up?" "Not fully, but I am functional." "OK. Let's get to work." Spreading out maps of the Seattle area, they started dividing it up into patrol areas and shifts. Jon lost himself in the problem, forgetting his worries for a little while. Beta didn't have a job, wasn't bothered by the day/night cycle, and didn't need to recharge for as long as Jon needed sleep, so that made it easier to come up with a two-person plan than would otherwise have been the case. Still, it was a huge undertaking. Alpha requested that certain areas, where he anticipated Beta's charging station might be set up in the future, be left to his brother.

When they finally finished, Jon yawned. "Where does one go to apply for higher super-registration, anyway?" Alpha responded, "U.S. Marshal's office. Why, you planning to sign on the dotted line?" "Yeah. I don't see any reason why not. The Guardians already know my secret identity; at that rate the government might as well too." "You'll need to get the second level first - it's required to go in sequence." "That's fine. Maybe second will be good enough for what I need to do; we'll see. Good night, Alpha." "'Night."

On Monday, Jon threw himself into his teaching and research. Somehow he found it harder to lose himself in the wilds of loop quantum gravity than usual... He was dreading being out there alone and mostly without backup. He picked up a registration application in heroic identity (that caused a bit of a stir) and over the next few days touched base with a number of the Phantom's contacts on the police force. They were polite and friendly... but he could tell they didn't really take him seriously. As far as they were concerned, he was a fresh-faced rookie about to get himself killed. Doesn't anybody remember I've been doing this for a year? he thought. I've fought Diabolus himself! And Red Dragon! But always as just one face in a crowd.

By Wednesday evening, he was in a mood dark as the rainy night he flew through. He broke up some criminal activity just by shining a spotlight on people who didn't realize they were being observed; where necessary he broke things up with a volley of precisely-aimed laser beams or stunning jolts of electricity. Dull, really. On the one occasion somebody shot at him, his new dodge subroutine worked perfectly - his light-form activated for a sliver of a second, moving him several feet out of the line of fire at the ultimate speed. A bit of applied magnetism deprived the guy of his gun, and that was that.

Suddenly an enormous bolt of lightning streaked through the sky, striking the Space Needle in the distance. Jon flew over to see if it had been damaged. As he hovered there, his field sense went wild! An arc of lightning streaked toward him; his countermeasures subroutine dissipated most of its energy harmlessly before it got close, and then the dodge subroutine got him clear of the remainder. Even so, his left arm and side went all tingly. "Yipe!" Following the bolt's path with eyes and field sense to the ground, he caught sight of a garishly-clad fellow surrounded with a potent electrical field. Why do so few villains have any fashion-sense, he wondered? Is there some correlation between color-blindness and social maladjustment?

"Ha! Welcome to your DOOM, Photon!" Yep, villain. Photon sighed and said to himself, "Spider-Man would have something witty to say about now..." But nothing came to mind, so he just fired off a laser. It hit, of course - not many people can dodge faster than light - but did only superficial damage to the man's costume, improving it slightly.

They traded a couple more shots - the bad guy's went wide. Jon tried to find an opportunity to shift his attention to his invisibility sequence, but the guy wasn't giving him the chance. The villain declaimed, "Once I have destroyed Seattle's most notable remaining hero, this city will fall to its KNEES before me!" Most notable?! Does this guy read the papers? "Yeah, good luck with that, Sparky!" Hey, that's not bad.

"You face BOLT, do-gooder!" A particularly large bolt of lighting came Photon's way, but this time both his subroutines worked flawlessly. "Whatever, Sparky. Ooooh. Ow ow ow. Except so totally not. My turn!" This time he fired actinic brilliance at Bolt's eyes. The villain yelped in fear and staggered back toward a support pillar of the Space Needle, seeking shelter.

Photon quickly checked that he was out of communicator range, and took the opportunity to amp up his radio transmission to make up the deficit: Alpha, I'm facing an electricity-using villain by the Needle. Tell Beta... Wait, Beta was vulnerable to electricity. Tell him to standby. Notify the cops, and do whatever else is traditional - I'm busy. Alpha's digital voice as usual had a strange radio timbre: On it, Photon.

Jon didn't feel entirely comfortable zapping Bolt while the guy couldn't even see, but all's fair in love and war. He was about to switch over to his stun-zap, but remembered just in time that Bolt was probably immune. Lasers it is, then. He even angled them so as to knock the guy back into the support pillar he was next to. (Though he usually generated beams to appear from his hands, he really didn't need to do so - all positions and angles were equally easy.) "So how's that falling-to-its-knees thing working out for you, Sparky? Ready to give up?" "NEVER!" the man roared, shaking his head to clear it and diving behind the pillar.

Photon's field sense went into the red, then calmed down. He flew cautiously around the pillar, a laser routine primed to go, but Bolt was... gone. "Great! He teleported." Just then he had to dodge another lightning bolt from the open sky. "And he doesn't need to generate blasts from his hands either. Terrific. Well, two can play that game..." Photon concentrated for a moment, and willed himself into light-form.

As always, the world slowed to a stop as he rushed forward at the universe's maximum speed limit; everything was actinic blue, shifted toward the violet. Why can I see at all, he thought, that should be physically impossible. Oh well, I can. For now I've got Bolt to worry about...

Doing a spiral search pattern (creating and destroying microscopic black holes with half-conscious flickers of thought to change his direction when necessary) he quickly found Bolt in glowing blue still-life atop a nearby building. His costume looks so much better this way... Oh well. He spent a few subjective minutes deciding on the exactly-right spot to rematerialize, and even devoted a moment's thought to a witty remark while streaking circles around the man, but honestly that seemed a little petty.

Regaining solidity behind the villain, he said, "Surprise!" Bolt whirled, too slow. "Get ready to kneel, Pho-" Jon's laser caught him right in the face. Bolt went down writhing in pain, screaming about his eyes.

Jon winced. I hadn't meant to do that. He said quietly, "You're not in charge here, Bolt." He used a stunning jolt on the man to mercifully put him out before remembering that it used electricity... Bolt got back up. "Actually, that was quite a nice charge! Thanks!" Photon resisted the urge to face-palm; he's not only immune, he's an absorber! Two points for the snappy comeback, too.

Still, Bolt hadn't healed nearly enough. Another couple zaps and he went down for the count. Jon hovered there almost in disbelief, only lightly singed on his own part. "I did it. I really did it!" Sending via radio waves, Alpha, I did it! Congratulations, Photon! Welcome to the big leagues. Guide me to the nearest precinct, would you? Sure thing!

The desk sergeant perked up at the sight of Photon's burden. "Oho! That Bolt fellow who skipped bail in the Big Apple, is it?" "He's a New York villain?" "Sure is, the FBI and the BSA circulated bulletins about him. You'll be glad to know we can lock him up on plenty of stuff from back east." [Jon couldn't testify in court as "Photon", so unless there were any witnesses to the battle, Bolt would walk for the stuff he did that night. Of course, once Jon's new registration goes through, that'll be another story. Oh, and the BSA is the Bureau of Superhuman Affairs.]

"Huh. Why on earth would he come all the way out here to the West Coast?" The man's voice got harder. "The vultures are starting to circle." Jon nodded somberly. "Well, this one didn't find any meat, anyway." "That he didn't. Thanks to you, Photon." Jon walked out, chin held high. It was a warm flight home, despite the rain.

The next day, Jon found that a few people had indeed witnessed the fight; it made page 3 in both the big papers. The Post-Intelligencer couldn't resist a touch of snark about his youth and inexperience, but even they had to admit he'd done his job. The Times was more neutral, stating the facts as they stood. Over the next few days, the cops let Photon know that Bolt had spilled his guts - swearing revenge on him, the usual - and was being shipped off to Stronghold. (Apparently, he'd believed a New York villain could take out any hero from a hick town.)

Brimstone called the next day to get the details and congratulate him on his first solo super-battle. That pleased him more than anything else. Jon leaned back in his office chair, feeling fine.

No need to get cocky, Jonathan Winters, he chided himself. All the same, you did pretty good. "Thanks, guys," he said the uncountable photons streaming through the air around him, and they actually 'blushed' - redshifting to surround him with a warm, rosy glow. If the fabric of spacetime could purr, it would be purring, Jon felt.

"Awww. The universe likes me. Who cares what some newspaper thinks, anyway?"

[Jon has historically been more inclined to Blue-Boy-Scoutish dialogue like "Halt, evil-doer!" or "Crime does not pay!" than Spidey-like snark... but what can I say, he was in a MOOD that night. :) I think this sort of thing will definitely become part of his style.]
Last edited by The Shadow on Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:31 pm, edited 6 times in total.
"All right, I am not the Shadow. You have nothing at all to worry about. Except, oh, wait, I'm pointing a gun at you."



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Postby LeopoldKain » Fri Aug 22, 2008 10:58 am

I am liking the story keep up the good work. :)
Please look at this stuff:
Red and Wolf ; Kain's Builds

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Postby The Shadow » Fri Aug 22, 2008 1:31 pm

LeopoldKain wrote:I am liking the story keep up the good work. :)


Thanks, LeopoldKain. I'll be posting Photon's backstory soon, and when the GM gets me the vignette on the reserve team interviews (he wants to revise it) I'll post it too.
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Postby The Shadow » Mon Aug 25, 2008 1:12 pm

[OK, here's the original interview with Bubbles and Shift, written up by SuentisPo. Like I said, I think he really nailed the voices of Erebus and the Phantom. These interviews took place roughly a year before the events on this thread started.]

"I'm sorry, but until you have better control of your powers, you will be in serious danger in a super combat."

"But...", the girl started.

"No. I can't, in good conscience, accept you as a reserve member with your current power set." The ghostly voice was firm, but regretful. "I don't want to have to inform your family that someone like Crosshair killed you."

"Even dead, I'd give him good odds against you." The larger man's voice was quiet and cold.

"Fine!" The young women the media dubbed 'Bubbles' jumped up. Turning, she stalked toward the door. The pair of heroes watched her leave, one darkly impassive, the other radiating a faint aura of compassion.

The Phantom sent to her, When you have better control, there is a place here for you. He observed wryly to himself, that the control needed was both of her powers and her emotions.

"Alpha, is that all of them?"

"There is one more." Despite being generated from a computer and broadcast through a small speaker, the voice clearly conveyed dubiousness.

"Send them in."

A few seconds later, a slender male figure trotted in. He was of average height and not very muscled. The rather ugly iridescent mask he wore drew the observer’s eye from his costume. Reviewing the surveillance footage later, the members of Shadow-Force noted it was a simple turtleneck and jeans, both black.

"Name and powers?" Erebus was getting impatient and started in with the questioning.

"I am The Mask!" His voice was slightly distorted by the named garb. Even so, both veterans wondered about the tone change. The Phantom wondered if he was still going through puberty. Erebus' thoughts, as always, were private.

"No. The Mask is a superhero on the East Coast. Furthermore, he is the third of that name. You will not gain any friends using that name." Erebus stated firmly.

"Um, OK, I can call myself Phase, 'cause I phase through stuff."

"I don't think that would be a good idea, either. Phaze is a rather nasty villain, who might just decide to kill you to keep his name exclusive," The Phantom recommended. Stretching his senses out, the ghostly hero noted that the as-yet-unnamed applicant had a good mental shield; probably from the mask.

"Oh." A pause, then, "How about Shift. Anyone got that?"

"No one by that name rates any news." Erebus then added, sotto voce, "Still."

Ignoring his companion's snarky comment, The Phantom started in again, "What are your powers? And how old are you?"

"I can phase through stuff."

"How old are you?"

Before Shift could answer, Erebus cut in with, "And?"

"And what?"

"What else can you do? Can you carry things into phase with you? Can you touch normal things while phased? Can you attack someone while phased? Do you have any other powers? Can you attack someone while in a normal state?" Erebus asked the questions quickly, not giving Shift much time to answer verbally.

The young applicant nodded to the second question, but shook his head to the next three. The last question got an indignant, "Hey! I've been studying Karate for a year now."

The older man, a victor of many brawls with super-powered foes, was temporarily bested by the sheer hubris of Shift.

Hoping to avoid an unpleasant confrontation between the two, The Phantom interjected, "How old are you?"

"Eighteen!"

Erebus voiced his skepticism, "Uh-huh."

Watching Shift's body language, The Phantom decided to divert the conversation again, before an argument broke out. "Please demonstrate your power."

Shift concentrated for a second. In the corner of his vision, The Phantom saw Erebus wince. He agreed with the unspoken evaluation. Any competent villain would strike while Shift was activating his phase power.

Once he completed the activation, Shift proved that, yes, he could pass through any physical object without effect. After the demonstration, The Phantom requested Shift deactivate his powers. When he did so, the young man let out a grunt and bent slightly over.

"Are you all right?" The Phantom asked, concerned.

"Yeah", came the pained response. "It always hurts a bit when I come back to normal."

Erebus stated, "Your application has been rejected. Right now, you would be a liability to any group." While far more harsh then he would have said it, the psionic could not bring himself to disagree.

"Hey old man, I bet within a year, I could be totally kicking your butt."

Blinking several times, Erebus finally said, "Excuse me." He quickly got up and, with skilled grace of a martial artist, left the room. Closing the door did not completely suppress the derisive laughter that followed him.

Jerk. I'll bet he left just to make me end the interview, the remaining super thought to himself as he turned to the task of more politely declining Shift's application.
"All right, I am not the Shadow. You have nothing at all to worry about. Except, oh, wait, I'm pointing a gun at you."



--The Shadow

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Postby The Shadow » Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:18 pm

Well, SP was busy and stressed-out this week, so he didn't have an adventure ready for our usual phone call Tuesday night. Instead, we talked a lot about the world's history and the various sources of super-powers. I learned a lot I hadn't known before!

I'll post on this soon.
"All right, I am not the Shadow. You have nothing at all to worry about. Except, oh, wait, I'm pointing a gun at you."



--The Shadow

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Postby Libra » Thu Aug 28, 2008 11:56 am

Excellent. :D
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Postby The Shadow » Thu Aug 28, 2008 3:49 pm

Libra wrote:Excellent. :D


Glad to hear people like campaign stuff. I've also written up a new, improved background for the Phantom, and a bit on Erebus, if anyone's interested.
"All right, I am not the Shadow. You have nothing at all to worry about. Except, oh, wait, I'm pointing a gun at you."



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Postby Libra » Sat Aug 30, 2008 9:00 am

Fan-TAS-tic! :D
Last edited by Libra on Sat Aug 30, 2008 11:33 am, edited 2 times in total.
Founder of H.E.R.O.I.C, Complimenter-in-Chief, Co-Arch Henchman to the Grin, Servant of the Hoff!



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Postby The Shadow » Sat Aug 30, 2008 11:20 am

OK, three new posts up on the Shadow-Force Files thread - one on the Phantom, one on Erebus, and one on power sources in the campaign.

We're also whipping a timeline into shape, but it's not ready for prime time yet.

Oh, and Libra? Could you say "Fan-TAS-tic!" for me like the Ninth Doctor? You've got the right accent for it, and I miss him. :)
"All right, I am not the Shadow. You have nothing at all to worry about. Except, oh, wait, I'm pointing a gun at you."



--The Shadow


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