Rabbitman's Session Recaps!

This is the place to recount your superheroic deeds for all to gaze upon with astonishment and wonder.
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Rabbitman
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Rabbitman's Session Recaps!

Postby Rabbitman » Thu Sep 15, 2011 4:36 am

Hey all,
Started a new University course this year and met a whole new circle of friends who had never had the pleasure of roleplaying, after months of trying to organise a classic D&D game of some sort, I bit the bullet and announced that I was happy to run a Mutants and Masterminds 2e campaign starting ASAP for anyone who wanted to try it out.
From talking to the group of volunteers I got the sense that most of my players were more intersted in a darker sci-fi type of game, so I wrote up a future setting where sci-fi technologies exist, the economic and resource collapses of the setting's recent history has shifted things around a little on the political scale while keeping the status quo of most countries pretty much the same as it is now despite the existence of far greater tech.
I helped the players build their characters and restricted the character age to within a decade of each player's age just to make the roleplaying a little easier for their first ever games, and set about writing another of my convoluted and complicated stories for the campaign to aim to follow.

I originally had 12 people all want to play, but I managed to get the final number down to 7 players with only 6 of them available from the first episode, so progress each week isn't blindingly fast due to the sheer number of players, but we're having a great time and they're all eagerly anticipating their next session of M&M every week.

Just to help the players remember everything that has happened, (and originally to remind them of their awesome deeds to get them excited for the next session, while killing some of my free time) I wrote up a simple play-by-play of the first session, but the write-up got so much good feedback from the players that I've been writing clumsy hybrids of stories and recited action and dialogue each week to continue documenting the campaign.

Although it isn't written with the intention of being anything of literary significance, I finally decided I would post them here anyway, and anyone willing to brave the uninspired writings will hopefully enjoy the characters and the campaign as much as I am running it and the players are playing it.

Cheers,
-Rabs
Nothing is Everything

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Re: Rabbitman's Session Recaps!

Postby Rabbitman » Thu Sep 15, 2011 4:40 am

Episode 1: "When the going gets tough."

Somewhere North-West of the Solomon Islands…

Suddenly torn apart by a sea-mine striking the hull, the passenger ship that Alexander, Kitsu and Zak were sailing on was surrounded by Indonesian pirates even as it began to sink.

Following the lead of the crew, Alexander quickly made his way to a life-raft and away from the sinking boat with 2 old greek women and a Pomeranian dog, while Zak and Kitsu panicked about being caught for stowing away. Even as they discussed their options the cabin door was torn open by a desperate crew member, demanding they head for safety as water sloshed around their knees.

Up on deck Zak read the mind of a distressed mother to discover she had been separated from her children and successfully used his telekinesis to re-unite the stranded children with their mother before he and Kitsu were forced into their life-raft and pushed from the keening ship.

As the rafts bobbed on the water, 5 ships loaded with heavily armed pirates arrived and began threatening to shoot anyone that wouldn’t be captured quietly.

Alex sparked the air around him into 3 balls of fire, sending them arcing up at three of the pirates on the deck of the ship that loomed above his inflatable liferaft. Unfortunately only one of the flaming missiles found a target, and it did little more than anger the man it glanced off of. In response all three pirates turned their attention on the teenager, leaving him stunned from the bullets that buried themselves in his thigh.

As the boat the automatic gunfire rang out, Kitsu promptly recognised that they were at too much of a disadvantage to fight back, and gestured her own submission to the nearest pirates, formulating a plan even as her companion Zak failed to breach the mental defences of
the pirate he sought to mind read.

Broken from the serene lull of the sea voyage by her ship banking sharply as it came about, Elaine saw the sinking remains of the other passenger vessel and realised her own ship was being pursued by 3 of the 5 pirate boats. Heading onto the deck she noticed many of the pirates donning gas masks, but was unable to get the attention of the captain to warn him as he dismissed her based on her age and gender.

Instead, grenades rained upon the deck spewing forth toxic tear-gas, crippling passengers and crew caught in it’s spreading cloud. Able to withstand the gas thanks to her synthetically enhanced organs, Elaine picked up the nearest grenade and threw it back, catching two
unprepared and unmasked pirates with their own ploy.

Manacled tightly to each other and the other prisoners, Kitsu and Zak were roughly handled onto a boat and Kitsu shared the embarrassment of the other female passengers as the leering guards showed their high regard of her slave value.

Using her experience at such escapes, the former street urchin twisted and teased at the cuffs until her wrists were free, maintaining the illusion of confinement until a better oppourtunity presented itself, even as the pirate guarding her grinned obscenely.

Attempting to buy some time to catch the man off-guard, Zak started a dizzying line of conversation with him, receiving nothing but threats and curses in response but succeeding in distracting the previously deadly vigil of the armed pirate.

Recovering from the shock of his wounds, Alexander strengthened his resolve and changed tact, focusing his mind on setting the entire atomic structure of the boat to smoldering, throwing a thick cloud of smoke and a sweltering heat into the immediate vicinity of his assailants, their skin shimmering with sweat as they coughed and choked for air, only to collapse as one from lack of oxygen. Not entirely confident that all crew members had succumbed to his attack, he clenched his jaw and kept the smoke and heat concentrated on the deck of the now obscured boat.

Seeing Zak’s distraction as the moment she’d been waiting for, Kitsu took her revenge on the previously leering guard, slipping her hands from the manacles and blasting him with an impressive arc of lightning that struck him senseless, ceasing the attack just in time to keep from killing him where he stood, but smiling as his unconscious form slumped heavily to the deck.

Afraid of the retaliation of the remaining 4 pirates on deck against Kitsu, Zak contemplated flying off as a distraction before realising he was still tightly bound to the other prisoners. With all his bravado he instead stood up and shouted at the remaining guards, his mind creating a bright orb of protective supernatural energy that was sure to draw their attention.

Angered beyond measure at the attack on her ship, Elaine leapt from the deck of the fleeing passenger vessel to land amidst the pirates she had targeted with their own grenade. Before even those in masks could respond, she brought her fist slamming down into the deck, shaking the boat violently enough to send all 5 men sprawling into the cold water of the ocean below as the sun dips below the horizon and night falls on the ocean battle.

With his elderly companions unable to easily climb onto the deck of the smoking pirate vessel, Alexander set about shackling the wrists of his five prone enemies, making certain that there would be no resistance if they were to recover from the effects of the smoke inhalation.

Zak’s force-field held strong as four automatic rifles relentlessly unloaded their deadly payloads at him, and realising he couldn’t risk lowering the barrier while the four armed men yet faced him, the young grafter made himself as distracting as possible, chanting, gesturing and mumbling like a supernatural time-bomb while he tried to think of a way out.

With the attention of the guards fixed single-mindedly on the deranged psychic, Kitsu carefully sifted through the pockets of the unconscious pirate, relieving him of a torch and a cigarette lighter before resuming her charade of capture.

Essentially alone on deck, Alex noticed the flashy display coming from the other boat and recognised the possibility of allies in his resistance against the pirates. Drawing on his wide ranging experiences with other vehicles in his time as a traveller, he gripped the throttle of the boat and hoped driving it wouldn’t prove too steep a learning curve.

Thankfully the boat eased forward and even began to bank around to starboard… or was it port? Either way, the young man at the wheel was glad to have some semblance of control over his fate once more, as he guided the accelerating craft toward the second boat with hopes of bringing more of the pirates to his mercy.

Further to the south, another patrol boat had been commandeered from its pirate crew, but as Elaine listened to the foreign chatter coming from the radio beside the wheel, she realised she had little to gain from staying on the smaller craft, steadied herself, and took a running leap back up onto the deck of the passenger ship she was seeking to defend.

Spotting one of the two remaining boats as it circled the limping ship, Elaine raised her stolen assault rifle and fired at the pilot, the force of a half-dozen shells piercing his chest lifting him clear off his feet and sending his bloodied corpse cartwheeling into the frothing wake of the boat he had been steering.

In reply, the dead pirate’s comrades opened fire on the dangerous girl, and even as her synthetic-knit skin and super-alloy bones provided a surprising toughness, the barrage left her bleeding and injured nonetheless.

Elaine’s temper barely held in check her first instinct was to take a running leap at her attackers, intending to deal with them with her bare hands as she had done the crew of the previous boat, but even as she gritted her teeth she realised the gap between her and her enemies was too far for her to make.

Realising the nature of her predicament as she stood helplessly facing deadly odds, the young cyborg swallowed her anger for the time being and ran to the far end of the ship, throwing the rifle at the feet of the pirates the greeted her in surrender and biding her time until she could exact her revenge in person.

Looking around the large ship’s dining hall at the other shackled passengers and the pirate guards who regarded them at gunpoint, Elaine sincerely hoped it would be sooner rather than later.

“Lower your glow-shield, submit to us, or we kill them.”

The pirate’s English was accented but fluent, and the threat was clear: If Zak didn’t submit to capture peacefully, the other prisoners would be gunned down mercilessly, starting with the four who had just been brought on board and who were now sobbing as the cold steel of assault rifle barrels pressed into the bases of their skulls.

Unsure of how to respond to such a terrible threat, Kitsu looked to Zak with concern, but her childhood companion’s mind was literally elsewhere, scanning the minds and intentions of the pirate from the safety of his force-field.

Through the images on the surface thoughts of the armed men standing opposite him, Zak understood and witnessed the two distinct outcomes the dangerous crew had in mind.

In one common thought Zak saw over a dozen innocent men, women and children slaughtered at point blank range while he stood defiant, his own life protected as Kitsu and the others were shredded with bullets.

In the other major thought, the pirates envisioned the force-field disappearing and Zak lowering his head, allowing the guards to render him unconscious with a blow to the head.
Sensing that his value as a slave or test subject was ensuring he would be kept alive if he surrendered, Zak raised his hands in a show of acceptance, deactivated his protective field and braced himself for the blow to the head he knew would come next.

Sure enough, one of the four pirates crept into a position behind him, suspicious of the unknown powers Zak possessed, and with a violent swing brought the butt of his rifle jarring into the back of Zak’s head.

Through some miracle of willpower and physics Zak fell heavily to the deck of the boat with a dull ache spreading from the impact, but no serious damage and certainly without losing consciousness.

Acutely aware that his captors sole intention was to render him unconscious, the young psychic allowed himself to sprawl limp on the deck, eyes shut, and focused on keeping his consciousness a secret.

As Alexander’s stolen boat drew nearer to the second boat, he spotted a group of hostages being held at gunpoint and cursed the circumstance that prevented him from repeating his smoking assault on the pirates without suffocating the prisoners too.

To make matters worse, the glowing orb of energy that had been holding off the attacks of the pirates suddenly vanished, and the one person Alex had sought to ally himself with surrendered and was subsequently knocked out cold with a brutal strike to the head.

Suddenly unsure of what to do, Alexander eased off the throttle slightly and began following the other boat from a more sedate distance as it rose higher in the water and headed off at a North-West bearing, toward the last glow of the sun in the early hours of night.

“I’m ok, Kitsu. I’m faking it until we get to wherever they’re taking us.”

Zak’s voice spoke directly into Kitsu’s mind, and looking at his seemingly unconscious body slumped awkwardly on the deck in chains, the girl couldn’t help but think he didn’t look comfortable.

“You’re right, my shoulder is killing me.”

Hiding a smile at the chance to converse with Zak through her thoughts, Kitsu looked out to sea as she replied:

“Suck it up princess, at least you saved those hostages.”

“And you.”

“Hey! I haven’t seen you take out any of these bastards yet, I can handle myself thank-you…” she thought back as sharply as she could manage, secretly glad for Zak’s heroic act.

“So… what’s the plan?”

“These boats probably can’t travel far with such little engines, so I’m guessing they’re taking us to some sort of base. I’ve been trying to hurry up and get taken there since they sunk our ship, but you had to go and show off! Once we get there, then we can escape.” Kitsu explained, the frustration at their surrender having become so complicated evident in the tone of her thoughts.

“Oh. Ok.”

And with that, Zak returned his thoughts to the awkward positioning of his shoulder against the deck.

With the larger passenger ship commandeered at last, the two remaining patrolboats sped forward to lead the vessel to the floating docks of the pirate base of operations, picking up the two remaining survival rafts and the survivors that bobbed helplessly on the ocean within them.

Soon, the two smaller boats caught up to Alexander, flanking him with assault rifle’s raised as their torches scanned the deck to investigate what had happened.

Realising the likelihood of surviving an attack on either boat was very low, the pyrokinetic teen raised his hands and surrendered, hoping his attack on the pirates thus far wouldn’t result in his execution.

Seeing two of their comrades dead and three others unconscious on the deck of the stolen boat, the pirates immediately treated Alexander as both a valuable prize and a dangerous enemy, and despite his attempts at a peaceful surrender, he was mercilessly beaten until he lost consciousness and awoke in a small, sealed vault. Presumably the make-shift high-security isolation cell was somewhere within the pirate base, but Alexander was happy to use the time to rest his battered body and heal the injuries the day’s events had left him with.

In a similar isolation cell, but more aware of his situation, Zak reached out with his mind to communicate with Kitsu once more.

From what she had told him, the boats had been greeted by more armed guards under the watch of two security towers that looked down onto the floating base, and all prisoners from all the boats that had been attacked that day were transferred down a few corridors into the containment level of the facility. A flight of stairs up to the rest of the base at one end, three high security cells at the other and two long cages along either side of the walkway in between.

In one cage, Kitsu was locked away with thirteen other women and three children, while the fifteen male prisoners were locked in the barred cell that ran along the opposite wall.

After recovering from her bulletwound within the first hour of rest, Elaine had approached Kitsu as one of the only other female prisoners who didn’t seem broken by the ordeal, and while the others cried and sobbed about their situation, the two young heroes began to share their stories and plan an escape in between patrols of the vigilant guards.

After some time, Zak’s mind met with that of the resting Alexander, and soon the isolated prisoners were in a similar mutual communication to that of the girls.

At that point in time a merchant cargo ship captained by a grizzly Russian-American veteran of the seas is making its way to a private rendezvous in the area when a separate string of sea-mines detonate, rending the hull of the vessel and flooding the lower decks with sea-water.

Alert to the probable cause of the damage, the Captain calls his crew to defensive stations, drawing high velocity firearms and scanning the dark waters for signs of their enemies, unaware that a cybernetically enhanced fugitive is stowed away below-decks listening in on their internal communications. Kenneth Clayton, having slipped aboard the ship as it refuelled in Hawaii as his getaway vehicle to escape the Japanese facility that had taken so much away from him, now found himself sitting in a cargo hold that was rapidly filling with water.

Engaging his active-camouflage stealth enhancement field, the cyborg stowaway made his way up to the deck to watch unseen.

Under cover of darkness a small black dinghy skipped quietly across the water toward the floating base the pirates were operating out of, at the helm was a young mercenary named Vance, but the leader of the team was a large and imposing man, “Colonel Hammer” formerly of the ANZDF and now a well-respected veteran of international mercenary operations.
Rounding out the strike-team were Hutch and Matt, the former a demolitions expert from Brazil and the latter the son of a former comrade of Hammer’s.

Matt’s father served alongside Hammer in his ANZDF days, becoming a mercenary to earn enough money to give young Matthew a proper upbringing. When Matt’s father’s entire team was assassinated by a corrupt former employer in order to cover up their less than savoury operation, Matt swore to track down his father’s killers and began training himself in the ways of war.

With Hammer as his new mentor and team-leader, Matt was soon following the big bald warrior up a grapple-line onto the outer deck of the pirate base, Hutch a few feet behind while Vance tied the other end of the rope to the dinghy and prepared for the inevitable rapid extraction.
Skirting the perimeter of the dimly lit facility, Hammer neutralised the nearest guard with a large combat knife and a practiced ease, stowing the body behind a support beam before gesturing for the three man team to press on.

Circling the exterior until they were almost at what appeared to be the main dock, the darkness was suddenly broken by a wash of a large spotlight, a guard tower above the dock following the light with a sustained spray of large calibre bullets from the mounted chain-gun, tearing Hutch’s flak vest to ribbons and mowing him down dead before he could join Hammer and Matt in the safety of cover.

Hammer’s barrel-mounted grenade launcher returned fire, decimating the tower and ending the gunfire, but Matt and the Colonel still had to gun down three more pirates before they were clear of the docks and safely sheltering behind a low wall of salvaged crates.

Realising Hammer had sustained some bullet-wounds, Matt accepted the briefing of his team-leader and moved back into the shadows.

Further to sea, Clayton watched as three pirate crewed speed-boats approached the sinking freighter, the burly Russian-American commanded his crew from the wheelhouse, both sides opening fire briefly before the pirates launched tear-gas onto the deck, preventing the majority of the crew from firing upon them and gunning down those that resisted the effects of the toxin long enough to make a dash for protective masks.

In the wheelhouse the Captain pulled his own gas-mask into place and promptly scalped a pirate with a violent explosion of his personalised shotgun, and Clayton literally leapt into action.

With the heightened abilities granted him by the cybernetics that now seemed to define him, the one-time American Computer Hacker cleared the 30ft gap between the sinking freighter and the lead pirate boat, landing without notice atop the canopy safely shrouded in his stealth field, before lunging forward to sever the spine of an unsuspecting pirate with a blade the length of a sword that extended from his arm with a single thought.

With a defiant curse and a final blast from his shotgun, the menacing Captain was thrown against the wall of his sinking ship with the force of two dozen or more assault rifle rounds, his life leaving his body before he hit the deck, but Clayton fought on, the sword slipping seamlessly into his forearm to be replaced by the barrel of an internal SMG, spraying a line of fire across the deck at the remaining four pirates and sending two of them to the grave without any knowledge they were being attacked from behind.

As the merchant ship finally rolled onto its side, dumping its all dead crew into the ocean as it did, the pirates ceased firing and split up, the lead boat turning for base while the flanking boats moved closer to the freighter for salvage.

Consumed with the role of killing machine, the still concealed Clayton opened fire again, sending the fourth pirate screaming over the handrail with bullets in his chest but failing to hit the fifth and final man who finally located the source of the danger, firing his own weapon directly at the muzzle flash and narrowly missing the startled cyborg, until now over-confident in his invulnerability.

Again Clayton surged forward, blade and gun switching places on his arm as he slashed at his alert enemy, drawing blood from his opponent’s forearm but receiving a deep gash to the shoulder in reply.

Overpowering his foe with the inhuman strength of his enhancements Clayton smashed his blade past the pirate’s guard and spilled his guts across the deck, but not before the crew of the other two boats caught sight of the slaughter.

Knowing only that their enemy was practically invisible and on the now seemingly empty boat, all nine remaining pirates turned and opened fire, raking the deck of the boat with an impressive spray of shells that caught the hidden cyborg in the hip and shattered the windscreen of the half-covered wheelhouse.

Needing to get out of the gunfire, Clayton leapt from boat to boat again, this time working his way forward of the windscreen so that when the gunfire stopped he could stay out of harm’s way more easily.

While the crew of the other boat used their flaregun to set fire to the boat Clayton had recently abandoned, the cyborg set to work wreaking his own brand of havoc on the four pirates aboard his new boat, flicking one of his tear-gas grenades to the back of the boat and allowing his enhanced eyes and lungs to filter out the toxins while the pirates suffered their full effect.

Two of the pirates were blinded by the gas and one was reduced to gripping the handrail helplessly as his lungs screamed for clean air, but soon a pirate was at the helm of the boat radioing news of the attack to the other boat while another pulled on a gas-mask and backed himself into a corner watching for any sign of the “ghost”.

Again seeking to claim the boat for his own, Clayton rolled another grenade toward the pirates.

This time a colourless sleeping-gas spewed forth in a dense cloud, further weakening the two blinded pirates but giving the masked gunman a direction to fire.

As gunshots exploded across the small boat, one of the blinded and drained men tumbled into the ocean in a panic, while Clayton crouched into a steady kneel to better return fire on his most dangerous enemy.

Unfortunately Clayton’s lack of movement left him in the direct path of the pirate’s next burst of fire, and a third wound was torn into his already tormented flesh, three shells tearing through his flank at rib height, his blood clotting his clothing with every beat of his reinforced heart.

With his bullets inflicting a similar wound on the gunman, Clayton realised the futility of trying to outlast the odds that remained stacked against him and directed his attention toward the quietest possible landing as he made another leap onto the third boat.

Locating a patrol of two pirates working their search towards himself and Hammer’s position, Matt sighted the man on the left and sent a silenced burst of slugs tearing through the unsuspecting pirate’s throat. Seeing his partner fall but unable to locate the source of the attack, the remaining guard began calling for back-up, his lone flashlight scanning the stacked crates for any indication of Matt’s position, but before his comrades could pin-point his location he too was shot dead with a subtle spit of Matt’s sub-machinegun.

Following the wall of the main building in the opposite direction to the dead patrol, Matt found an unlit rear doorway and set about disabling the aged mechanical lock to gain entrance to the facility.

Meanwhile, content to crouch atop the wheelhouse canopy until the search died down, the last Clayton saw of the pirates on the boat he had just left was two of them hauling their still-blind comrade out of the ocean before the boat that now carried the concealed cyborg pulled into sight of their floating base of operations, the pirate at the helm having a brief conversation with the communications tower before the dock was lit up to allow a safe landing.

Matt’s lock-pick finally shifted the last tab of the old lock into the open position, and with trained caution and his SMG raised, the mercenary opened the door, and closed it quietly behind him as he slipped into the facility.

“Matt, this is Hammer, hold your position. I’ve got movement at the docks and a patrol boat incoming, no visual from my position, but expect company from that direction if you’re inside. Over.”

Matt stopped where he stood, switching to thermal vision on his visor to get a better idea of his position relative to the rest of the building. The heat signatures that he picked up suggested the door directly in front of him opened onto the back end of a main corridor, and a sentry seemed to be patrolling it, but from the distortion on the other patterns it looked as though other guards were stationed within other rooms and corridors throughout the base.

“Estimate on the crew of the incoming ship, patrol boat wouldn’t be more than 5 men, would it? Over.” Matt whispered through his personal communicator.

“I’d expect from three to ten. Advise caution. Over.” was Hammer’s reply.

Deciding to act quickly before the situation became more complicated, the younger mercenary waited a few more seconds for the sentry to reach the near end of the hall and turn his back, before opening the door and firing in a single fluid motion, the suppressed SMG spitting a handful of shells through the spine of the guard, leaving him writhing in silent agony in the middle of the floor.

Well aware that the guard needed to be removed from the corridor before the crew of the patrol boat entered, Matt let his SMG hang from it’s strap as he rushed from his concealed position to drag the wounded guard back into the enclosed rear exit-space with him.

Finally arriving at the floating base, Clayton watched as the crew’s body language shifted from the relief of being “home” to the defensive caution of those ready for anything as the guards who rushed to greet the docking vessel shouted what was obviously a warning or alert or some sort.

Seeing the guard tower that loomed nearest the dock was in flames, Clayton assumed there were other enemies of the pirates nearby, and wanting first and foremost to get off the boat and away from his enemies, the cyborg fugitive made another superhuman leap from the boat to an empty dock, landing unseen before cautiously moving around the wall of the main building so as not to disrupt the concealment field and risk detection.

Searching in the darkness, Clayton soon discovered an unlit back entrance, but as he inserted his tools in the old mechanical lock with a practiced professionalism, he realised the door wasn’t actually locked.

Slightly annoyed at himself for the wasted time as he slipped his tools away again, he opened the door just in time to see a masked mercenary deliver a finishing blow to an already wounded pirate, the young soldier-for-hire smashing the bleeding sentry violently and accurately across the temple with a military grade tonfa and dropping the unconscious body to the floor without a second thought.

As the old exit door suddenly opened beside him, Matt dropped the now unconscious guard to the floor and spun to face… an empty doorway and the night sky beyond.

To Be Continued in Episode 2: "Fight-back!"
Nothing is Everything

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Rabbitman
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Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:10 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Rabbitman's Session Recaps!

Postby Rabbitman » Thu Sep 15, 2011 4:42 am

Episode 2: "Fight-back!"

As the old exit door suddenly opened beside him, Matt dropped the now unconscious guard to the floor and spun to face… an empty doorway and the night sky beyond.
Switching to thermal vision and raising his firearm, Matt prepared to fire at the unknown intruder and hissed a clear warning.
“Don’t move.”
Caught in the sights of the silenced SMG, Kenneth Clayton tried to keep his composure as he hurriedly blurted out: “Wait!”
Met with a silence as intent as the professional grip that held the deadly weapon’s trigger at half pressure, the Cyborg fugitive scrambled to find the words to express himself, deactivating his stealth field to better plead his case.
“Don’t shoot me. I don’t know who you are, I don’t know if you’re my enemy, but I know the guy you just took out is my enemy, just like his friends that I’ve been fighting all night!”
“Keep talking.” Matt wasn’t taking any chances, and his gun didn’t waver for a second.
“Listen, the way I see it, the more of these guys I kill, the easier your job is going to be, whatever it is.” Clayton relaxed, not sure if he was about to be shot but certain that he had done all he could to prevent that outcome.
“I’m going to kill any pirate I find, free any prisoners and then blow this whole damn place sky high.”
The Cyborg felt the closest thing to a positive emotion he had experienced since his horrific injuries and the experimental surgeries that had stripped him of his humanity. Without going so far as to smile, he looked the young mercenary in the eyes and stated plainly:

“I don’t have a problem with that.”

***

Down on the containment level, Kitsu and Elaine moved closer to one another, attempting a whispered conversation once again as the two guards patrolled the narrow corridor between the male and female cells.
“Tell me again, why is your friend locked up separately?” Elaine questioned her new cellmate,
“Um… he did some stuff, he’s dangerous.” Kitsu stammered, wishing she could ask Zak just how much about him she was allowed to divulge to the surprisingly fearless girl that stood before her.
“Stuff? What exactly can he do?”

Before the conversation could develop any further, barked orders and threats from the guards interrupted the two prisoners, and at gunpoint Elaine and Kitsu grudgingly moved apart to think about escape alone for a while.
Finally up to speed with one another’s exploits aboard the patrol boats, Alexander and Zak communicated telepathically from their isolated vault cells in an attempt to speed up what they hoped was an inevitable escape.
“So your friend, the electric girl, can you get her to release us from these things?” Alexander thought, strangely comfortable with the psychic communication.
“Um, I don’t know. I can ask her in a minute, apparently there’s another girl locked in with her, no idea if she has powers like us though.” Came the reply.
“Well, is there anything we can do to help break out?” Alexander’s frustration at the helplessness of his confinement coloured his thoughts accordingly.
“If this door had a window I could try to distract one of the guards to give Kitsu a chance to pick the lock maybe.”
“But it doesn’t.”
“Yeah.”

Disengaging from the telepathic connection, Zak concentrated on coming up with a new plan.

***

Scanning through the door with his thermal vision, Matt confirmed the hall was empty and relayed a rudimentary layout of the rooms on the main level, turning to his new companion to suggest a plan of action.
“There are two rooms off the left wall of the corridor, some sort of indent halfway between them, a third room opposite that and a short staircase leading down to another door at the far end of the hall. Directly opposite us at the far end of the hall is also the main entrance to the facility, I guess that’s the door you saw out to the docking area.”
“Ok, any idea what that indent is?”
“Can’t tell from thermals. Move up to the nearest door on the left?”
Clayton simply nodded his agreement, re-activating his concealment before slipping into the main corridor and looking around for himself.
“Looks like the indent is a ladder, probably up to that communications tower.” Turning to the door on the left, the cyborg made a point of checking that it was locked this time before quickly disabling the lock and sliding the door open to look inside.

“This looks like a potential sabotage target. We should definitely come past here on out way out.” Whispered Matt as he surveyed the small room, taking note of the back-up generators on one side and equally as exciting, the stacked pile of fuel that lined the opposite wall.

***

Alexander leaned against the back wall of his tiny cell, wondering if the telepath in the nearby vault and his electrically charged friend would come through with a rescue or not, when suddenly his senses were overloaded and his head swam in an attempt to adjust to it all.
After a moment, Alex realised his mind was projecting into someone else again, just another weird thing that seemed to happen from time to time, and he was seeing the world through this stranger’s eyes, hearing through his hears and smelling through his nose.
This was different though, for some reason he was seeing the world in infra-red heat patterns, and whoever it was he had subconsciously joined with was holding a top of the line sub-machinegun with a suppressor attached.

Not only that, but as the stranger turned to speak to the thermal silloheutte beside him, Alexander couldn’t help but feel alarmed by the dialogue.

***

“Plant the charges now, just in case we’re short on time on the way out.” Suggested Clayton.
“Ok, but I don’t want to waste a timed detonator if I don’t have to. I’ll prime the charges for my remote detonation for now, and if the opportunity presents itself, I can come back and rig something more elegant.”
Matt kneeled beside the pile of fuel containers and fixed his High Explosive charges in place, priming his wireless detonator carefully before turning toward the door of the storage room.
“Well…” he began, but the incoming signal in his communicator caused him to straighten and pause, listening as Colonel Hammer’s gravelly voice filled his ear:
“Listen up Matt, this is Hammer. Whatever was going on at the docks must have been wrapped up, the bastards are patrolling again and I’m going to guess the crew of that boat are inbound to your location. I’m going to have to make myself scarce and run silent for a while, as proud as I am I’m not so stupid as to get myself killed by amateurs like this by taking on the odds like this. Do you copy?”
“I’ve got you Colonel, I picked up another infiltrator and he’s helping me work through the facility. We’ve planted charges in the fuel storage for when we need to blow this place. Over.”
“Good work Matt. Don’t trust anyone you meet 100% on first impressions, stay safe. Good luck my boy, I’ll see you on the other side! Hammer out.”
As the communicator fell silent, Matt turned to Clayton and passed on a summary of the intel,
“The unloading is done, the patrol is probably headed inside. Didn’t you come in on that boat?”
“Yes. I did.”
“How many pirates were on it?”
Clayton glanced at the exposed corridor leading to the main entrance silently before turning back to his younger companion.
“A lot.”
“A lot?”
“Let’s get up this ladder and take the Comms tower.”

With a silent nod, Matt fell into step behind the cyborg as he began climbing the ladder to the hatch above.

***

The guards in the containment level began to grow restless as the constant sobbing and wailing from the cells began to grate on them as the only real resistance the prisoners were ready to offer. With a growl, the senior of the two gave an order to his comrade and soon both men were ordering Kitsu, Elaine and the other women up against the wall of the cell before the older guard unlocked the door and stepped inside.
Looking around, the brutish man seized his prize, a pretty blonde woman in her early twenties, and against her futile struggling he dragged her from the cage, locked it behind him and marched her up the corridor and out through the door.
Sobbing and crying more intensely at the confronting reality of their situation, the other women seemed to abandon what little hope they had left, and even Kitsu and Elaine exchanged shocked and disgusted glances.
“We need to do something right now!” Elaine hissed to her only ally.
“Obviously… but what can we do?”
“What exactly are your abilities? You can shoot lightning?”
“Pretty much, and I could probably pick this lock if the guard was distracted.” Kitsu replied.
“Well, can you distract him somehow?” Elaine pressed on.
“Hey! I could probably blind him with a flash of energy or something! What can you do?” Kitsu countered, becoming more excited as a plan took form.
“I break things.”
Kitsu suddenly smiled at her new ally, reaching for her hand as she prepared to share her new plan, but before the words were out of her mouth the guard was glaring at the two girls and threatening to put them down like dogs if they didn’t stop talking and move apart.
As Kitsu’s hopes fell and she turned to move away, the almost painful squeeze on her hand suggested Elaine had other plans.
“MOVE AWAY! NOW!” the guard barked again, and Kitsu finally realised that now was the moment she had been waiting for, stepping forward and blasting the aggressive pirate in the eyes with a brilliant flash of lightning.
Staggering away from the bars with a cry of shock and rubbing his eyes in an attempt to restore his vision, the guard was entirely unaware of Elaine as she strode to the cell door and gritted her teeth, snapping the lock mechanism as she peeled the gate against its hinges, bending the solid metal as though it were wet clay.
As the guard called for help and groped around to reorient himself despite his blindness, Elaine approached him with violent intent, but his erratic movements thwarted her plan as her powerful punch missed his bobbing head.
“You take care of him, I’ll get Zak and the other guy out of these cells!” Kitsu called over her shoulder, approaching the first of the 12-digit security pads and applying a focused series of electrical pulses to the circuitry in an attempt to overload the lock.
Instead of the satisfying beep and the door swinging open, the keypad let out a strange wail and began to smoke slightly, but the buttons remained backlit and the look stayed engaged.

“Damn…”

***

Successfully disabling the lock on the secure hatch leading from the ladder up into the comms hub on the top of the central tower, Clayton glanced down at Matt in the corridor below him to confirm his concealment was keeping him invisible before throwing open the hatch to peer into the room above.
Two pirates manned the small room, one busy monitoring the security and communications console that dominated the space while the other turned in his chair to regard the suddenly open hatch.
This second pirate wasn’t seated in any ordinary chair however, as Clayton looked through the open hatch to regard a mounted chain-gun and floating firing seat that appeared to be able to move along rails that surrounded the room while pivoting for full firing lines down onto the decks of the base below.
Even as the gunner questioned his partner about the open hatch, Clayton clung to the ladder peacefully, well aware that he couldn’t be seen as his energy field blended and bent the light around him as though he wasn’t visibly there at all.
Unfortunately, when the communications officer looked down the hatchway for a cause of the intrusion, his gaze passed directly through Clayton and locked onto the armed and armoured form of the young mercenary below, and before Clayton or Matt could raise a weapon against him, the pirate had punched the alarm button on his console and was unslinging his rifle to defend the tower until reinforcements could respond.
Cursing in unison with Matt, Clayton used his cybernetic strength to leap clear into the small room, rushing the comms guard straight backwards with unassailable force and sending him crashing over the gun rail and window ledge to hang helplessly from the outer lip of the tower with a 20ft fall below.
As the blending of his concealment field struggled to maintain its illusion in the face of such a burst of speed, Clayton quickly called to his back-up down below:
“Grenade!”
Before suddenly adding:
“Not a frag!”
Surprised by the apparent order but seeing no option but to oblige, Matt popped a smoke grenade from his belt and with perfect accuracy sent the canister flying straight up through the hatchway to spew smoke into the small room, obscuring all visuals but his own as he flipped his visor back to thermal and started his own climb up the ladder.
Unfortunately for Clayton, the gunner quickly conversed with his partner and once he had acknowledged that he was alone in the room with hostiles, he spun his chain-gun 180 degrees and began raking the interior of the tower with high calibre shells at point blank range.
Hearing the report of the massive weapon and seeing the distorted muzzle flashes vaguely through the thick smoke, Clayton managed to duck and roll, narrowly avoiding the wild fire for the moment and setting his sights on the one target he could make out in the smoke, the blazing barrel of the chain-gun.
Lunging across the room with the deadly blade extending from his forearm, the cyborg smashed the still spinning barrel of the loud weapon, and a distinct disruption of the firing pattern was his reward, but it seemed the weapon was still dangerous albeit slightly damaged as the less rapid-firing resumed and threatened to tear its assailant apart, even as he switched from concealment field to force field as a precaution against further injuries.
Reaching the top of the ladder, Matt immediately spotted the thermal signature of the chain-gunner, and with a practiced spit of his weapon, he caused the gun to stop firing as its gunner clutched at his chest and stared at the blood that was suddenly spreading across his shirt.
Capitalising on the shock of the injury, Clayton vaulted acrobatically over the gun and with massive force sent his blade slicing through the sternum of the gunner, rupturing heart and lungs and slicing through the spine like it was nothing as his blade pinned the instantly dead pirate to the back of his chair.
Climbing up into the tower comms room and scanning the dissipating smoke through his infra-red visor, Matt was about to ask Clayton what had become of the second pirate when a desperate shriek and a throat rending scream were cut short by a hiss and an explosion from just outside the tower, the body of the pirate in question being blown apart by an unknown source as he fell from the tower toward the facility below.
“What the hell!” Clayton looked worried, “Don’t tell me they’re strapped with suicide vests…”
Matt peered out the window at the drifting smoke remains of the mid-air explosion.
“It could have been some sort of missile, I’m guessing part of the base’s defense systems?”

The question hung in the air without further consideration as the sound of multiple bootsteps in the corridor below reminded the two infiltrators that the alarm was no doubt bringing pirate reinforcements to their location…

***

“Please don’t break it, please don’t break it, please don’t break it…” Kitsu’s mantra repeated under her breath as she applied her disabling shock to the electronic vault lock a second time, thankfully her efforts were rewarded this time, and with a beep of approval the keypad lit up all green, opening the isolated cell with a hiss of decompression and allowing a cramped Zak to step out into the corridor and a relative freedom.
Shaking off his blindness, the guard realised the prisoners had broken free of the cell and with a cry of alarm opened fire on Elaine, blasting her at point blank range and widening his eyes in shock as the bullets failed to harm her, the deceptively feminine teen flying into a fit of temper and throwing another wild punch, this one dodged by the now unhindered man who grimly drew his machete instead and attempted to decapitate the girl with a brutal swipe at her throat.
Again the toughness of Elaine’s synthetically enhanced skin protected her from any harm, and as her flesh adapted to become more metallic and bulletproof before his eyes, the guard knew he was out of his league even before she slammed her fist directly into the side of his face, breaking his jaw and sending him slamming back into the wall between Kitsu and a surprised Zak to slump against the wall semi-conscious and already swelling from the furious blow.
Wanting nothing more than to kill the guard for locking him away, Zak grabbed the stunned man with his telekinesis and tried to snap his neck, but as fiercely as Zak’s eyes glowed, the guard’s neck withstood the attack.
Having been warned of a patrol of seven guards entering the facility to respond to the alarm in another out of body experience and hearing muffled sounds of gunfire through the thick sealed door that was keeping him from leaving the isolated cell, Alexander had enough of sitting by and began banging on the thick door, screaming his warnings as loudly as he could manage:

“THERE ARE MORE GUARDS ON THEIR WAY AND SOMEONE IS GOING TO BLOW THIS PLACE UP!!!”

Even with her enhanced hearing, Elaine couldn’t make out the words of the warning, but the subtle noise was enough for her to shout her own message to Kitsu,
“He’s in the third cell! That one on the right!”
With another cheerful beep, Kitsu’s manipulation of the lock finally released Alexander from his incarceration, and with his jaw set with determination he announced more clearly:
“There are more guards on their way into the building, and someone is trying to blow this place UP!”
And to punctuate his point he struck the injured guard with an uppercut from a fist and arm that were wreathed in flames, slamming the pirate limply into the bars of the cell where he slumped to the floor unsconscious.
Unfortunately for the young heroes, any chance to enjoy the minor victory was interrupted by the door at the end of the corridor sliding open onto the guard room as the four guards within responded to their now unconscious comrades calls for aide, rifles levelled and unflinching vengeance in their eyes…

Alexander blasted one pirate with fire, sending him back out the doorway and out of the fight.

Elaine charged at another and attempted to grab hold of him but he managed to duck out of reach.

Kitsu caught a third pirate with a high voltage blast of electricity, taking him out easily.

Zak slammed the fourth pirate with a lash of telekinetic energy, injuring him, but not enough to stop him from opening fire on his attacker, shredding Zak’s shirt but failing to inflict more than superficial cuts on the psychic.

Switching to his machete in the hand to hand struggle with Elaine, the pirate struck her with the blade only to glance pathetically off her newly adapted armour plating.

Turning his attention on the gunman, Alexander launched an even bigger ball of flame at the pirate, catching him full in the chest and slamming his unconscious form into the far wall of the guard room to lie smoking on the floor.

Elaine stepped up to the machete wielding pirate and swung a heavy fist at his head, but only grew angrier as he ducked out of harm’s way.

Satisfied the fight had been won, Kitsu attempted to unlock the third vault, only to overload the circuits with too high a voltage, frying the lock permanently shut.

Not wanting to hurt Elaine, Zak reached out with his mind to grab the remaining pirate in a powerful telekinetic grip, pinning the man helplessly and allowing Elaine a free swing at her defenceless foe.

Putting all of her frustration into a single punch, the young cyborg smashed her fist straight through the man’s face, brain and punched out the back of his head, showering herself with chunks of brain and skull as Zak let the mostly headless corpse slip to the floor.

Looking out of the communication tower to see the source of the explosion, Matt and Clayton recognised an automated missile defense system, probably an Anti-Air and Anti-Sea missile turret on it’s own raised tower over 20 feet away.

“I could try to throw a charge onto it…” Matt mused, weighing one of his explosives in one hand as he looked at the deadly missile system.

“Or I could jump across the gap and plant it for you.” Clayton offered, keen to put his enhanced abilities to good use.

With the charge in hand, the cyborg stepped up to the window sill before launching himself through the air, only to realise too late that he had made himself a target.

Swivelling to face him with frightening speed, the turret fired a missile directly at him, and as the deadly projectile flew between his arm and torso to detonate harmlessly at sea, Clayton couldn’t help but recognise how closely he had come to death.

The patrol of 7 pirates from the outer deck reached the bottom of the ladder in response to the alarm, and one by one they began to climb.

Setting his charge on the Automated Missile Defense Turret, Clayton dropped straight down to the roof of the facility below, activating his concealment field as he ran toward the rear of the building.

Peering down the hatch, Matt saw the pirates on the ladder, and with a deadly accurate burst from his trusty SMG he nailed a handful of shells right between the eyes of the man highest on the ladder, instantly killing him and sending his corpse crashing down into the corridor below, knocking a second pirate to the floor under the dead weight.

Firing up the narrow shaft, the pirates failed to hit the mercenary, but the corpse of their comrade was not forgotten even as it was pulled free of the pinned pirate, allowing him to take his feet and prepare to lay siege to the comms tower.

Relieving one of the unconscious guards of his keys, Alexander unlocked the cage the male prisoners were kept in, convincing the frightened hostages that the powerful teens weren’t going to hurt them.

Although thankful, the prisoners decided it was safer to wait until all the pirates had been taken care of for certain before they risked leaving the containment cells.

Entering the guard room, Zak spotted one of the pirates who had managed to keep consciousness, singed and badly hurt from either a fire or lightning blast, the pirate was stubbornly crawling for one of the three doors even as Zak broke through his will to probe his mind for information. Guiding the man’s thoughts and memories, Zak witnessed the full layout of the floating base before breaking the link.

“They have an armoury upstairs, we can get some weapons of our own.” He announced, before Alexander took it upon himself to stop the injured pirate from reaching the door with a flaming kick to the head that left him completely unconscious on the floor with a charred footprint on his forehead.

“Ok then Zak, which door?” asked Kitsu, gesturing to the three unopened doors that still faced the determined group.

“Um… the one on the left.”

Sneaking into the corridor, Clayton stole a look at the group of pirates as they fired up the ladder towards Matt, watching as Matt’s spray of shells killed a second pirate and sent another sprawling against the wall on the edge of death.

Throwing a tear-gas grenade at their feet, Clayton watched as they coughed and spluttered, attempting to see through stinging eyes as they were all rendered temporarily blind save one, who collapsed to the floor unable to draw breaths through the burning sensation in his lungs.
Filtering the gas harmlessly through his headgear, Matt fired down the hatch again at the same time as Clayton sprayed the corridor with a crossfire of his own bullets, tearing through the almost defenceless group leaving a total of four corpses, two disabled and one blinded and injured.

Switching from firearm to blade in mid-air, Clayton leapt down the hallway in a single bound, his concealment dropping away from the velocity of movement as he pounced, disembowelling the last man standing and sending the corpse crashing down the corridor from the sheer force of impact.

Realising their enemies were not planning on leaving anyone alive, the two disabled pirates called on what little strength they had left and opened fire one last time, managing to sell their lives dearly as both Clayton and Matt caught bullets tearing into their flesh, leaving them stunned and bleeding from the unexpected wounds.

Opening the door on the left, the escaping teenagers found themselves looking into one of the two sleeping quarters, two of the pirates were busily dressing and arming themselves having been woken from their slumber by the alarms and gunfire, while the disgusting guard from the cell block still assaulted the woman he had dragged from the cell minutes ago at the back of the room.

Charging the length of the room, Elaine struck the rapist hard in the side of the head, sending him reeling to prop himself up against the wall even as his eyes struggled to focus on the room around him.

Blasting the nearest armed pirate with lightning, Kitsu was disappointed to merely injure her target as he cursed and reached for his gun.

With similar acts of concentration, Alex and Zak glared at the two armed pirates, and while one was lifted and tossed to the far side of the room without his gun by Zak’s telekinesis, the pants of the other burst into flames.

With more important things than grabbing a gun in his mind, the burning pirate began slapping at the flames in an unsuccessful attempt to extinguish them, while the other picked himself up off the floor and looked for a closer weapon.

Swinging another punch at the stunned rapist, Elaine landed her next blow flush on his jaw, and he was unconscious even before his feet left the ground and his limp body lifted almost 10 feet in the air before landing in an awkward pile on the ground.

Seeing the pirate Zak had thrown reach for another gun, Kitsu lashed out in blind instinct, shocked when the full voltage of her attack killed the man, smoke rising from his empty eye-sockets as he convulsed a final time from the electrical blast.

Still unable to extinguish the fire that was consuming his trousers, the last remaining pirate was suddenly grabbed by Zak’s telekinesis and he was slammed upwards into the roof, falling injured to the floor where his head struck hard enough to knock him out cold.

Hearing something from behind her, Kitsu turned to see another five pirates bursting in, guns raised, from the other sleeping quarters, giving a shout of warning she alerted the others who turned to face the new threat.

Concentrating his efforts into something bigger, Alexander closed his eyes and extended his hands to blast the reinforcements with a scorching cone of flames that spread from his hands to engulf the three pirates in the middle of the line.

While the two on the edge were injured by the flames, they both managed to avoid the worst of it as they shielded themselves from the attack at the last minute, however the pirate in the centre wasn’t so lucky as the flames surrounded him, leaving him charred and unconscious on the guard-room floor.

The two pirates on the end of the line opened fire, raking the room with bullets that only the sobbing assault victim managed to stay clear of. Zak again sustained only superficial scrapes from the flying shells, and Elaine shrugged off the attack like it was nothing, but blood erupted from fresh holes in Alexander and Kitsu, the latter falling to the floor in shock as the pain of her wounds shot through her.

Charging the length of the room in retaliation, Elaine dropped one of the two firing gunmen with a heavy punch that sent him flying across the guardroom and through the door into the opposite sleeping quarters to lie sprawled on a bed completely unconscious.

With Kitsu shot and three pirates still standing, Zak formed his telekinesis into a solid cube of invisible energy, trapping all three of the pirates in the prism to temporarily shield his friends from harm.

Seeing the opportunity to attack all three pirates seemingly without risk of harming his new companions, Alexander turned his mind to the inside of the cube, raising the temperature within until the pirates were sweating, and the cube filled with a thick black smoke that choked one of the pirates to unconsciousness almost immediately.

Firing blindly out of the smoke, the pirates broke down the psychic prism with a hail of bullets, but Kitsu pulled herself together to unleash an attack of her own.

Concentrating her energies into an intense ball of unstable electricity, the wounded girl blasted the orb into the centre of the expanding smoke cloud, where it exploded out in a crackling web of electricity that electrocuted one of the two pirates caught in it into unconsciousness and left the other with more injuries, but desperately still standing.

Unable to see exactly where the last pirate was standing through the smoke, Zak formed his telekinesis into a smoky fist of solid energy, and with unexpected accuracy slammed it into the blinded face of the pirate, knocking him out and knocking him clean through the furniture in the middle of the room behind him.

Alexander cleared the smoke from the room as the group came together to plan their next move.

“You don’t really remember the layout you saw, do you Zak.”

“Hey, hopefully this last unopened door is the armoury and we can arm ourselves!” he defended.

Recovered from the shock of being shot and content that the last of the pirates had either died or passed out, Matt planted his charge on the communications tower console, slipped to the ladder and closed the hatch as securely as possible above him before retreating to the generator room he had planted a charge on earlier.

“Get yourself clear, I’m going to blow the comms tower.” He warned Clayton, who re-activated his concealment and did a quick scan of the level, opening a door onto an interrogation and filming room complete with video camera and threatening looking implements for broadcasting ransom videos, and a second door into the pirate’s armoury, walls stacked with assault rifles, ammunition, wicked looking machetes, tear-gas grenades and gas masks.

“All clear.” He called back to Matt, before opening the main doors and stepping back out into the cool sea breeze to face the docks. Nobody else was in sight.

Matt detonated the charges in the tower and on the Automated turret, and the sky lit up as the fireballs exploded outwards, the ammunition chamber of the missile defense system triggering a chain of after-shocks that combined to shake the entire facility, knocking Matt off his feet and sending a column of fire blasting down through the destroyed hatchway and melting most of the rungs of the ladder as the explosion scorched the top of the facility before silence and stillness returned.

“We need to get out of here!” Elaine practically shouted at Zak, wiping the blood and brain chunks from her fist and allowing her vision to drop back to normal, having adapted to infra-red to see through the earlier smoke.

“Well, let’s go then.”

Realising the last door was the only one left unopened on this level of the facility, the group agreed that it was obviously the way out and prepared for more trouble they made their way up the stairs to the main floor.

Seeing the interrogation room and the armoury through the already opened doors, and the destruction of the ladder and the corpses below it, the group braced themselves for more trouble, glad to see no living pirates even as they looked out the main door to the deserted docks… not seeing Clayton right in front of them under his blended concealment.

“Captain Hammer, this is Evac, please respond.”

“Captain Hammer, this is Evac, please respond.”

“Hutch, this is Evac, please respond.”

“Matt, this is Evac, please respond.”

The communication link in his headgear rattled through the members of his unit to no reply before Matt realised it was up to him to respond.

“Evac, this is Matt, over.”

“Matt, we’ve just got word that the security systems and anti-sea defences have been neutralised. Good work. We’re bringing in the ship to pick you up and to rescue any civilians and other prisoners or hostages you can find. Get everyone to the North Docks in 5 minutes. See you soon. Evac out.”

Walking out into the main corridor, Matt lowered his weapon to face the obviously civilian rebels without any hostility.

“Hey. I’m Matt and I’m one of the good guys. Are you ok?”

Kitsu pointed to the signs of the explosion and the seven dead pirates in the hallway,
“Was that you?”

“That was me.”

Recognising as the person he touched minds with earlier, Alexander stepped forward,
“You’re planning on blowing this place up?”

“That first explosion was me, but there’s a bigger one coming. Don’t worry though, I won’t set it off until we’re all out of here. I have a few things I need to do before we go, so get yourselves and any other prisoners to the docks, we’ve got a big ship coming in to get you out of here.”

“How do we know they’re friendly?” Alex asked, obviously ill at ease with the situation.
“Well, the ship is a big one, so it’s either friendly or we’re all going to die here.” Matt replied, before heading for the outer deck to search for Captain Hammer.

Finding Hammer’s unconscious and badly wounded body behind a stack of crates, Matt carried his commander to the docks in time to see the rescue vessel pull up to the dock, flooding the facility with light as medical officers moved down to assist the injured.

Flying rapidly down to the cells, Zak convinced the remaining prisoners it was finally safe to leave, and after all the civilians and the injured Captain Hammer were safely aboard the huge vessel, it pulled away, leaving Alex, Elaine, Kitsu, Zak, Matt and a still invisible Clayton to wait for “someone who wants to meet you all”.

Once the ship was out of sight, a huge black military helicopter, expensive in the extreme, landed beside the group and they were all invited aboard, including (much to his frustration) a practically invisible Clayton.

“Welcome aboard. Some of you I know already, others I’m only just learning about now, but all of you are to be congratulated for your actions and accomplishments out here over the last 24 hours.” A rich looking Chinese man offered, his accent perfectly standard American English.
“I’m sure the events of the last few hours in particular have been very taxing for you, so please enjoy our hospitality, allow our Nurse to treat your wounds, and I will return in a short while with a proposal for each of you. You may introduce yourselves to one another if you wish, but for now, I am called the Handler, and I represent one small part of the Chinese Government. I will explain more when you have had time to rest, but until then, know that you are among friends, and in the best of hands.” With his piece spoken, the Handler slipped through a door into the front of the huge aircraft, leaving the group to themselves in the surprisingly plush interior, strapped pseudo military style into chairs comfortable enough to be recliners, with food, drink and medical assistance on hand for all of them to enjoy.

To be continued in Episode 3: "New Beginnings"...
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Re: Rabbitman's Session Recaps!

Postby Rabbitman » Thu Sep 15, 2011 4:44 am

Episode 3: "New Beginnings" Part I

Looking at the strangers seated around them as if for the first time, the group sat quietly for a moment taking in their surroundings, Alexander staring intently at the Clayton in an attempt to determine if the older man was an illusion or not.

On edge, Clayton watching silently as the young pyrokinetic slowly leaned forward with a finger extended until he finally touched the cyborg and withdrew to his own seat with a triumphant cry,

“He’s real!”

The tightening of sinew around Clayton’s jaw was the only response, and Alexander sorely hoped he hadn’t made an enemy of the brooding man.

As the nurse began tending to the wounds of Kitsu, Clayton and Matt, Alexander shrugged at the sudden down-time and popped the cork on a bottle of champagne.

“So, does everyone have powers, what can everybody do?” Elaine asked the awkwardly silent group, each of the young heroes suddenly aware they were in the company of strangers who could possibly have secrets very similar to their own.

Gesturing to the recently revealed Clayton, Kitsu offered:

“Well, you can turn invisible, right?”

With a curt nod, the fugitive cyborg turned his head to regard the younger teenagers,

“Yeah, invisibility is my power. That’s all.” He muttered, still frustrated at being forced to reveal himself so early.

“Well, we know I can create electrical blasts and he controls fire, Zak has telekinesis and…” Kitsu paused to regard her childhood friend, unsure of how much to reveal, but Alexander swallowed his mouthful of champagne to interject,

“And he can read minds and communicate telepathically. Yeah.”

Turning his attention back from the window of the helicopter, Matt regarded the remote detonator in his hand before holding it to his ear. Leaning forward and offering the device to Kitsu he interrupted the conversation,

“Ah, Kitsu is it? The pilot wants to talk to you, you just press the red button to talk.”

Kitsu wasn’t exactly sure what was going on, but with a confused expression she lifted the device to her ear and pressed the indicated button in preparation to talk…

As the series of explosive charges detonated through the pirate base, the fuel and ammunition hoarded by the pirates combusted into one incredibly hot orange ball of expanding flames, the wave of heat shaking the large helicopter momentarily as the crew and passengers looked back at the destruction of the floating base in surprise, and the young mercenary burst out laughing.

“Oh yeah, right, you just shoot things and blow stuff up. No other powers, right?”

Matt tried his best to reign in his obvious amusement, but failed, smiling at the group as he replied simply,

“Right. That’s what I do.”

At that moment, the Chinese agent who had previously introduced himself as the Handler reappeared from the curtained doorway through to the forward half of the large aircraft, his smile as perfectly welcoming as before.

“I trust you are making yourselves comfortable?” he smiled, waving a hand toward the as yet untouched canapés and the remaining bottles of alcoholic and soft beverages on offer.

“Now, obviously this is not a social operation. Soon it will be time for us to talk business, but before I get into any classified details, we need to establish which of you are interested in working with us, and which of you will be dropped off to continue your lives where you left off before that incident back there.” Again the Handler smiled, moving into the middle of the room to address everyone equally.

“The delicate balance I have to face right now, is how much information I can give you prior to your signing on. Of course, we understand that you should not be in a situation where you a blindly agreeing to mysterious terms, but similarly we are dealing with issues of international sensitivity which we cannot afford to share with those who are not committed to our efforts. What I can tell you for now is this: We, as agents of the Chinese Government, are in need of non-Chinese operatives for a delicate international operation. As such, we are seeking to recruit a team from the best unsigned talent the world has to offer, which leads me to the incident with the Indonesian Pirates. The conflict with those terrorists was largely orchestrated by our agency as a trial of sorts, an audition for a number of potential recruits we needed to see tested in the heat of battle. Unfortuantely the majority of Colonel Hammer’s mercenary team did not survive the mission, and we have reports that the Russian-American Captain Calvin Luchev went down with his ship. Of our original recruitment targets, only Matt and Kitsu passed the audition, but we are pleased to say that for the rest of you, your presence aboard this helicopter is proof that we are extending our offer of employment to you as well.” The Handler paused as he received a stack of envelopes from one of the crew entering through the curtain before vanishing forward into the cockpit again, leaving the Handler to continue his talk.

“Now, other than how impressed we are with your performances tonight, what I can tell you is that our offer is one that comes with more than adequate rewards. Although all I can tell you of the operation itself at this stage is that its goal is to prevent international hostilities, before we ask you to make your decisions about your commitment, we will share with you all the reward you can expect to receive if you are successful in this mission.” The Handler smiled at the cautious looking group as he shuffled the envelopes through his hands.

“What I will say is this, each reward is different and possibly personal in nature, each promise is a certain fact, we can and will deliver on these rewards for those of you who assist us with our operation. Each of these envelopes has the reward written within, for your eyes only unless you should choose to share the information with anyone else in your own time. Now, on behalf of the Chinese Government I extend this offer to you. I will give you time to think, and when I return I will ask you to make your choice. Enjoy.” With a strangely solemn caste to his usual smile, the Handler passed a personally named envelope to each of the assembled heroes before departing once more.

Initially sceptical, each of the gathered heroes regarded their name on the front of their envelope before leaning back and carefully opening it away from prying eyes.

Despite the vastly different “rewards” offered within the envelopes, the reactions were almost uniform as the words on each page sank in.

“Oh! Okay…”

After what seemed an enternity of silent contemplation, Alexander rose from his seat and ventured toward the separating curtain, only to be intercepted by the obviously combat trained “waiter”.

“What can I help you with, Sir?”

Alexander made certain his envelope and the enclosed letter were safely folded in his fist as he calmly regarded the man,

“I have a few personal questions for the Handler.”

The waiter indicated a seat for the young New Zealander to wait in as he activated some sort of small pager or communicator, and within a few minutes Alexander was invited into a bare corridor of the helicopter by the Handler.

“What is it you wish to ask me, Alexander?” he smiled softly

“How is this possible?” Alex asked, pointedly holding up the envelope

“I can guarantee you it is.” Was the initial reply, “The journey you are yourself just starting out upon, the very reason you were on that ship no doubt, is a journey experts within China started out upon hundreds if not thousands of years ago. We know where that journey ends, we have techniques and training that can take you directly to the result of that journey. I promise you, the Chinese Government is the one organisation that can truly give you what you seek. The offer is a promise, nothing less.”

As the enormity of the words sank in, Alexander straightened and forced a smile, detecting no trace of deception in the Handler’s demeanor, words or body language.

“Well, thank you for your time.” He managed, before returning to his seat and another glass of champagne to think.

Zak looked suspiciously at the nurse before addressing the group, obviously caught entirely off-guard by the contents of his own letter.

“Anyone else wondering how they seem to know so much?” he asked.

“Yeah… this is… wow.”

Before the group voiced any theories on the matter, the Handler rejoined them stood silently until all eyes were once more upon him.

“I’m sure the offer we have extended you has given some cause for contemplation, and Alexander has spoken to me privately with some questions, if anyone else has any reservations or queries regarding the proposed reward feel free to ask them now, either here or privately in an adjoining corridor.” His friendly eyes scanned the still silent group before adding,

“And of course, if you feel you cannot trust the promised words or simply are not interested in such a reward, the Chinese Government has many material resources that can be arranged as an alternative reward should anyone so choose.”

Checking his watch for a moment, the Handler’s demeanour switched to a more serious tone as he raised his eyes again.

“Now, unfortunately the longer we wait the closer to the point of no return this helicopter approaches, and it isn’t long before we will be reaching the drop-off point for those who do not wish to accept our offer and would prefer to be returned to their lives as they were before the pirate incident. So, if there are no further questions, it is time to decide…”

“One thing, when will we be getting the rewards?” Elaine interjected.

“Yeah, how many missions before we actually see the promised rewards?” Matt chipped in, with Alexander nodding along.

“I do apologise, I didn’t mean to be so ambiguous with the offer.” The Handler smiled, offering raised hands in apology,

“This is a single, once off, stand-alone operation and if you are successful you will receive your rewards as soon as you are debriefed. Of course, if you impress us with your efforts I don’t doubt that further arrangements could be made for continued employment with the agency should you so wish, but the offer as it stands is for this one operation alone.” Again he smiled, turning to face Elaine,

“And if you are concerned with not having anything to hold our trust on before you deploy, we have equipment and resources we can give you to assist with the operation itself that should be sufficient tokens of shared interest in your successful return.”

The Handler gestured with one hand and the nurse finished patching up the last of Zak’s grazes and slipped away through the curtain with the waiter, leaving the Handler alone with the group at last.

“Now is the moment of truth, the time for decisions to be made. Will you accept this offer, and be a part of the team for this operation?” he turned to his left, looking Matt in the eye.

“Matt?”
“I’m in.”

“Alexander?”
“I’ll do it.”

“Clayton?”
“Sure.”

“Zak?”
“Yep.”

“Kitsu?”
“Ok.”

“and Elaine?”
“I’m in too.”

With the agreement of all six new recruits, the Handler broke out into a wide grin and snapped his fingers, calling forth the waiter with a small steel box. From the box the Handler drew a small light projector before the waiter moved around the room handing small earpieces to each team member.

“As our first reward for joining the team I would like to present you with a six-piece set of short ranged communication links, although not powerful enough to stay in contact with me while you are on the ground, these should allow you to co-ordinate better as a team throughout the operation. If anyone already has a communications device, like Matt for example, the frequency of these other commlinks should be fully compatible. Each of you now owns a commlink each, courtesy of the Chinese Government as a down-payment for your services.”

Dimming the lights and projecting a map onto the wall, the Handler gestured to the projection and changed into a more clinical tone of voice.

“Now, to business. I am about to brief you on your mission. We are calling this Operation: Silent Treaty.”

The Handler laid out the mission to the assembled team, explaining that the shared border between China and Russia where Kazakstan and Mongolia once were was brewing as a potentially destructive flashpoint between the two nuclear armed super powers.

As the Handler displayed maps of the former capital of Mongolia and the surrounding countryside, the team learned that they were to infiltrate the local council offices to attain any confidential Russian documents that could be used by the Chinese Government as leverage and insurance to ensure peace against the possibility of war sometime in the future.

“Of course, the reason for putting this team together is so that you are not openly affiliated with our Government and that any failure of your mission will not result in political or military backlash contrary to the objective of the mission. As such, should you fail, the formation of this team has not been recorded anywhere and we will maintain total denyability about your existence. As such, we advise that you adopt a suitably Anti-Chinese cover so as to prevent the Russians from being overly suspicious of your activities, and we will have no contact or communication with you until two days from deployment when an evac team will be waiting for you in this town here.” The Handler flicked to a new display, showing a small farming town to the North of the target city.

“The glider-suits will allow you to control the direction and slow the speed of your descent without making you visible to radar, but when you are within 200 feet of the ground you will need to deploy the last-minute parachutes to slow you enough to avoid injury. Do not deploy the parachutes at a height greater than 500 feet or you will be caught by the wind, blown potentially anywhere and no doubt spotted by the Russians. Similarly, make certain to extend your arms and legs to allow the glider jumpsuits to ease your descent, as the last-minute chutes will NOT be able to save you if you free-fall to quickly from this height. Due to the nature of this mission there can be no training or rehearsal, but similarly this mission is too important, and you as a team are too important, for us to take unnecessary risks with your safety. Due to his experience in the field, we are appointing Matt team-leader and will be equipping him with an altitude sensor we have configured to notify him when you enter the appropriate height range to activate your late-deployment parachutes. We will be entering Russian airspace in approximately 5 minutes and the drop-zone in under 10. Do you have any questions?” The Handler regarded the nervous expressions on the faces of the assembled team.

“Shit. Ok. No, I’m good.” Clayton muttered, not relishing the prospect of being pushed out of a helicopter in the immediate future.

“Good, check your equipment, enjoy the hospitality for a few short minutes, and be ready to deploy on my mark. Welcome aboard, team.” The Handler smiled, genuinely excited at the recruitment of the entire group as they set about strapping themselves into the reflective glider jumpsuits and nervously checking the buckles that kept the single late-deployment parachute attached to their backs.

Alexander gave a quick shrug at the open invitation to make the most of the hospitality, swigging freely from a second bottle of champagne right up until the side of the helicopter opened to reveal the night sky over Russia and the cold wind swept through the previously comfortable vehicle.

“Operation Silent Treaty is now active, this is the last you will hear from me or our agency until the rendezvous in two days, Matt, you have command. Good luck to you all.” The Handler shouted over the rush of air as the helicopter banked sharply to swing over the drop zone.

“Ok team, I’ll jump first, Clayton, I’m trusting you to make sure everything goes smoothly with the others and to be the last one out. Keep in communication all the way down. I’ll give the signal when we’re low enough to deploy chutes. Let’s go!” the young mercenary barked to his new team, not overly experienced as a leader but ready to accept the responsibilities without hesitation or weakness.

“I wanted to go first…” muttered Elaine, as the mercenary threw himself out of the doorway, but without any further thought the cyborg girl was launching herself into the sky to follow him.

“See you on the other side!” Alexander joked to the remaining three before stepping from the helicopter to free-fall toward the Russian countryside, but he wasn’t entirely sure whether he was being ironic or was genuinely nervous.

“Let’s go.” Clayton gestured for the two former runaways to jump, but to his surprise neither of the younger team members showed any fear as they leapt clear of the doorway to join the team in the air.

Contemplating activating his concealment field but deciding the velocity of the fall would restrict its effect, the fugitive cyborg took one last look at the now empty briefing room before launching himself on as sharp a downward angle as he could manage in an attempt to catch the others.

As the almost invisible siloheutte of the large black helicopter vanished above them, the team found themselves in varying states of free-fall, Alexander sending himself on as tight a spiral as possible until he had pulled level with Matt, the team leader comfortably banking around in wide circles with arms and legs fully extended, the glide suit holding him up against the wind perfectly as he took in the night around him.

Zak smiled at Kitsu as they plummeted downwards, winking to his childhood friend as she stretched out the “wings” of her jumpsuit to ease to a controlled descent and he concentrated on gripping himself in his own thoughts, telekinetically throwing himself down faster than free-fall as he flew, laughing, toward the ground.

Unfortunately for Elaine and Clayton, the seams of the glider-suits were not prepared for the superhuman strength of either cyborg, and as they threw their arms and legs wide to slow their fall they found themselves tumbling in blind free-fall with the torn wings of their jumpsuits flapping around them in tatters.

“Goddamnit!” Clayton cursed, as Elaine frantically began to rotate her body in the air, looking for some way to slow her fall.

“Whatever you do, don’t deploy your chutes!” Matt warned over the commlink, “At this height we’ll lose you completely.”

“We’re fine for now, we can wait.” Elaine replied calmly, finally falling face-first and recovered from the intial disorientation of her fall.

“We have to do something though, if you free-fall until we’re low enough for the chutes you’ll be going too fast for them to stop you in time anyway.” Matt pointed out, closing his own wings in an attempt to stay as close to the accelerating team members as possible.

“Did everyone else’s suit hold together?” Alexander asked, following Matt’s lead and enjoying the excitement of the controlled fall, if not the possibility of Elaine and Clayton being splattered on the Russian streets below.

“I’m fine, I don’t know about Zak’s suit, but he’s flying anyway.” Kitsu chimed in.

“Don’t worry, I’ll grab Clayton, you just worry about Elaine.” Came the voice of Zak, as the cocky psychic came flashing back into view, intending to carry the older man safely to the ground.

As Zak flew over, the cyborg didn’t look any less concerned, and despite Zak’s best effort the lack of strength in his arms in comparison to the mass of the stronger, falling, Clayton only served to pull the would-be rescuer into the same deadly free-fall.

“Zak? Have you got him?”

“Let go, you’re not strong enough.” Clayton replied tersely, not exactly thrilled with the situation as the teenager refused to recognise the futility of his efforts as the two spun helplessly toward earth.

“Ok, I’ve got a better plan anyway.” Zak cut in, letting the larger man fall from his arms as he used his telekinesis to fly toward the ground once again, “When I get to the ground I can use my telekinesis to catch you and carry you down!”

Zak hadn’t got far before his plan was over-ruled by voices on the commlink in his ear,

“Hey! What if you miss me?”

“Will you be able to see him in the dark Zak?”

“I have a torch?”

Finally Alexander’s voice cut through the discussion with a different observation,

“Zak, if your glider-suit is working you can fly down with the rest of us and use your telekinesis to carry the others from up here, right?”

“But…” Zak began to protest, wanting to put his ability to fly to better use even as the voices of the team began to agree with Alex.

“Zak, extend your arms and legs and see if you can grab Clayton with your mind.” Matt’s tone was firmer than a suggestion, and not wanting to be seen as incapable of such a simple task, Zak obliged, easily catching the falling cyborg and allowing him to descend at the same controlled speed as Zak’s jumpsuit was providing him.

“Now, can you carry Elaine as well?” Matt began, as the group turned their attention to the sky below in an attempt to locate the girl who had been momentarily forgotten in the heat of the moment.

“Actually, I think I’m fine.” Was Elaine’s surprising reply, as she gliding around in a wide banking circle of her own, now with a strangely organic/synthetic blended material stretching from wrist to ankle in wings of her own.

“I thought I might be able to adapt some way of surviving the impact with the ground, but I ended up with these instead!” she trilled, steering a figure eight through the air as though she had always had wings.

“Ok… well, good work I guess team, let’s stay together, I want to deploy chutes when we get to 350 feet altitude and I don’t want anyone missing the mark.” Was all Matt could say as the team glided to approximately the same altitude as one another, aware once more that they were on a mission with more at stake than they cared to talk about.

Within a minute, Matt’s new device was beeping and displaying an altitude of 500 feet, the maximum parachute deployment height, and after passing on the news and a reminder to stay close, the young mercenary grimly held his course and waited.

“Deploy chutes, be careful, stay together!” he barked across the comms as the altitude reading flashed 350 feet, and one by one the members of his team were seemingly yanked skywards as first Matt, then Kitsu, Zak and Clayton and then Elaine were all brought to a rapid deceleration by the expanded cloth above them.

Alexander on the other hand pulled his rip-cord to no avail, as the parachute failed to deploy and he found himself shooting away from the rest of the team towards the ground.

Panicking for a moment, he let slip a few choice German swearwords into the communicator before his senses returned and he gathered his concentration to generate enough heat beneath him to grant him full control over the velocity of his descent, although he did manage to maintain a steady stream of melodramatic cries for help over the communication link before he had slowed sufficiently for the rest of the team to recognise he was joking around.

Landing with much relief and a successful degree of stealth in a field somewhere West of the city, the group glanced unconsciously skyward for some sign of the helicopter that had dropped them into this surreal operation, but after only a moment the group had gathered with armfuls of parachute silk and were wondering what the next stage of the operation should be.

“We all survived the drop, well done. Now what?”

Removing his jumpsuit and parachute harnass, Matt looked around, knowing the final decision would probably be his,

“We should head into the town and start sussing out our objective, but first we need to get rid of this airdrop gear.” He offered, kicking his parachute into a small pile to punctuate his point as he instinctively scanned the horizon for prying eyes.

“I could burn it all?” Alexander half-joked

“Yeah, a giant bonfire in the middle of the night won’t draw any attention…” Kitsu cut in, still unimpressed by the unpredictable pyrokinetic.

“Can you destroy it all without a big fire?” Matt asked

“Of course!” Alex turned his eyes sideways at the female runaway, “I’m not an idiot.”

Once the jumpsuits and parachutes were all piled on the non-flammable surface of the road, Alexander stared at the materials until the group could feel the temperature rising, and soon enough the material was melting and smouldering under a controlled burn that quickly reduced the pile to ash without so much as an ember glowing in the night. Kneeling to sift through the ash despite the heat, Alexander made an attempt at tidying the pile into something more appealing, but his creative attempts only managed a more cubic pile of ash before he stood with a shrug and allowed Zak to spread the pile along the side of the road, mixed through the dirt to hide any trace of the team’s arrival as much as possible.

“So, onto the town?” Elaine suggested, eager to finish the mission and get out as quickly as possible.

“First we should establish our cover.” Matt explained, turning to regard each member of the team in an attempt to think of a suitable story.

“I’m good.” Clayton countered, and within a moment he had vanished from sight as his concealment field once again engulfed him.

“Well then, I guess the rest of you could easily be a group of friends, I’m obviously the odd one out being this well armed, but maybe if you’re rich kids you hired me.” Matt suggested, only to have Kitsu scoff and Alexander raise an eyebrow.

“Kids?”

“Why are we “rich kids” all of a sudden?” Kitsu asked, not following the mercenaries thoughts.

“Just as a cover, I’m just trying to think why I would be travelling with you if you weren’t paying me.”

“Paying you for what?” Zak asked, clearly unimpressed with this line of thinking.

“Feel free to help with a suggestion of your own at any time, I could easily be looking for work as a mercenary in town if I wasn’t with you. That’s all.”

“We’re all around the age that we could be recently graduated from high school, taking time off to travel the world, right?” Alexander suggested, changing the topic slightly.

“I’m only 17!” defended Kitsu before Alexander waved away her statement,

“Yeah, maybe you just look young, the point is, we could be a group of friends travelling through trying to see the sights.”

“What sights?”

“I don’t know! Whatever sights there are around here, and if there aren’t any, maybe we’re the sort of tourists that want to see the real world, not the touristy stuff!”

This suggestion seemed to click with the group, and following Alex’s statement was Matt,

“Maybe you’re those well-off kids that want to help heal the world, and your parents hired me to protect you from the dangers of the parts of the world you want to see?”

Although Kitsu still seemed annoyed at being confused with a “rich kid” in any way shape or form, the team finally seemed to understand Matt’s logic, and eventually it was Zak who said:

“What if Elaine is the rich one, and we’re just her friends from school?”

Beginning at last to walk East toward the city, Elaine turned to the rest of the team to add her own clause to the agreed cover story,

“This is just a role though, I’m not a spoiled rich kid!”

As they walked along the road, the silent spectre of Clayton always nearby albeit unseen and thanks to his silent disposition, unheard, Kitsu turned to Matt with another question,

“Should we use fake names?”

The discussion continued for a few minutes before the group agreed that fake names was more likely to blow their cover through confusion than it was worth, and the team seemed genuinely enthusiastic about the operation until they reached the city itself and were confronted with the dazzling light of a mounted spotlight and the close attention of the two Russian soldiers manning what seemed to be a closed checkpoint, and much to the irritation of the invisible Clayton, a large dog.

“Stop there!” the guards shouted, and the team found themselves at gunpoint once again, Zak found himself translating the shouted words from Russian to English in his head.

“Do you speak Russian?” the guard called out, and while the rest of the group looked at one another in confusion, Zak stepped forward confidently,

“Da!” he replied, finding his mental comprehension providing him the vocabulary he needed to converse in the guard’s native tongue.

“Spread out in one line, hands in the air, please!” the guard commanded, and as Zak realised his team were clueless to the words being spoken, he quickly translated to the others who complied with the instructions save Clayton, who moved silently into position behind the others with his gun ready, just in case.

As Zak answered the guard’s questions it was explained that the city was under martial law and a strict curfew was being enforced. As Zak explained that the group were just traveling and looking for a place to stay, the guard’s questions almost became an interrogation, asking where the group was travelling from and prompting Zak to subtly read the Russian soldier’s mind, gleaning the name of a suitably innocuous local village to put the man at ease. Despite his best persuasions, the best Zak was able to achieve was to have the guardsman check with his supervisor as to whether the group could be let into the city despite the curfew, but when the answer came back a “they could be shot if they are seen by a patrol” and therefore a resounding no, Zak was left little choice but to thank the Russian for his time and turn back with the rest of the group.

“Are you going to tell us what’s going on?” Kitsu prompted her companion after a minute of awkward silence.

“Oh, sorry, the town is under martial law at the moment, curfew means nobody allowed in or out or on the streets until morning, so we should go and find somewhere to sleep until they open the checkpoint tomorrow.” He paused, trying to remember the important details of the exchange, “apparently there’s a small village about another hour’s walk to the South or we can sleep on the side of the road, we should be safe with the military in the area.” He shrugged, not wanting to make a decision himself.

“Well if I’m suppose to be a spoiled rich girl, I’m going to demand we go find a bed somewhere!” Elaine announced, to groans from the rest of the group.

“Is Clayton still with us?” Matt asked, waiting for the older man to either reveal himself or respond via the commlink.

“I’m here, just wandered away so that dog wouldn’t smell me.” Was the terse reply.

“Ok, what do we want to do? We’re obviously going into the city in the morning, but we can either sleep here or add another hour of walking to the night in search of a bed.” The mercenary summed up.

“I’m for sleeping out here.” Said Alex.

“If we sleep out here, I’ll stand watch.” Clayton offered.

“Seriously guys, a bed would be better.” Elaine insisted, but as Matt, Kitsu and Zak all added their votes to the camping on the side of the road idea, the cybernetically enhanced girl added “I’m just playing the role!” but even she didn’t really believe it.

With their combined survival experience, Alexander and Matt soon returned to the group with an armful of quality firewood, and as the fire began to burn at a comfortable warmth and a dull glow of embers and coals, Alexander stripped the excess branches down to make wooden stretchers for the team to sleep on.

“Get some sleep, I’ll make sure you’re safe.” Clayton stated plainly, his voice disembodied from beneath his concealment.

“I can’t have you over-tired tomorrow when it counts, remember to wake me for the second shift and get some sleep yourself.” Matt instructed, and eventually the group was sleeping as comfortably as possible under the stars.


First thing in the morning the group walked into the large town, purpose renewed as they all agreed to get the mission completed as quickly and efficiently as possible, Alexander leading the majority of the group from shop to shop talking to the English speaking locals in an attempt to gather information about the rumours and events that had lead to the military occupation and obvious excitement in the area, while an invisible Clayton watched over Zak as the independent minded young con-man did his own information gathering in less obvious parts of the city.

Meeting up in the late afternoon, Zak and Alexander agreed that the most reliable information pointed to an incident involving a failed mission of the Chinese Government, with two Chinese operatives being found dead in the street only four days earlier, witnesses reporting some large object being stashed in the local bank’s vault and the military being called in to lock down the city until the purpose of the Chinese infiltration could be revealed.

Zak’s reading of soldiers’ minds corroborated the rumours Alex had picked up on, and once the team had been debriefed it became clear that although the mystery of the Chinese incident and the new contents of the bank vault was a priority, the actual council documents and the staff of the local council had all been moved out of the city to the protected temporary offices within the Russian military compound that had been erected to house the soldiers two kilometres North East of the city proper.

While Zak was able to confirm that security at the bank hadn’t been raised since the arrival of the mysterious “package” and the rank and file soldiers didn’t seem to know anything about the Chinese incident or the “package” themselves, Alexander was able to provide the address of an apparently welcoming Hostel that would be able to house the travelling teenagers for either a low share of rent or even assistance with chores.

Deciding it was best to be off the streets before the curfew again tonight, the team agreed to save any major plans until the morning and crossed the city to the Hostel, securing five beds in the common-room for the night while Clayton remained invisible and made himself comfortable on the floor.

The prospects of robbing a bank or storming a military compound both brought their own risks, rewards and dangers, and as each team member drifted off the sleep, plans for the day ahead filled their dreams more than anything else.
Nothing is Everything

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Rabbitman
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Re: Rabbitman's Session Recaps!

Postby Rabbitman » Thu Sep 15, 2011 4:46 am

Episode 3: "New Beginnings" Part II

The next morning came without drama, Matt, Clayton, Alexander, Kitsu and Zak all waking early out of habit and excitement, but opting to set about helping with the hostel’s chores to repay the use of the five beds rather than wake Elaine and risk her rumoured temper.

By the time the chores were completed, Elaine was awake and the group decided to move to a quiet corner of the hostel to discuss their plans as early as possible.

“Let’s hit the bank and find out what all the secrecy is about.” The disembodied voice of Clayton initiated.

“No! I don’t want to go to the bank.” Kitsu countered pointedly.

“Our objective is at the military compound, I’d rather not risk alerting the Russians before we try for the documents.” Matt advised, hoping his leadership would settle the argument before it began.

“It’s a Russian Military compound established for the sole purpose of protecting this city from Chinese Government agents! It’s already going to be on alert!” Clayton insisted, but the group wasn’t easily swayed.

“The documents we want might not even be at the bank, we know they’ll be at the compound. We should go to the compound first, and if we can’t find what we need, the bank second.” Alexander suggested, obviously not interested in anything but Operation Silent Treaty and the promised reward.

“The bank is obviously a trap anyway, why wouldn’t they raise security if there is anything worthwhile in the vault?” Kitsu stated, wanting nothing to do with the bank.

“To be fair, a bank is already pretty secure Kitsu, but hitting the compound is our priority.” Matt offered in reply, sensing the newly formed team wasn’t entirely on the same page.

“Well, should we split up and do both?” Elaine suggested, just wanting to get out and into the action.

“Fine, Clayton and a stealth team can go to the bank, I’ll go with Elaine and the others to the compound.” Alex concluded, only to be cut off by Matt,

“Actually, I think Clayton and stealth is our best course of action at the compound.”

Clayton’s disembodied voice rose almost to shout as he exploded with the words:
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you!”

“If we split up, that means if something goes wrong there will only be three of us against the Russian army in each location. Maybe not the best plan.” Kitsu observed.

As the argument swung backwards and forwards, Zak finally took control of the discussion, slightly calming the frayed nerves as he diplomatically outlined his own opinions,

“From everything I heard and saw in the minds of people yesterday, the mystery that’s been stashed in the bank’s vault is being kept secret, that’s why they haven’t made a big show of fortifying the bank. And I don’t think splitting up is a great idea either.” He explained as Alexander threw his hands in the air in exasperation,

“Then let’s leave the bank vault as an unsolved mystery, grab the documents from the military and get the hell out of here!”

Zak’s expression turned to one of disapproval as he raised his hands to calm the New Zealander,

“No way, I’m not ok with leaving the bank unexplored, we need to know what is going on here. As great as the reward is going to be, I’m not going to trust a government if there’s a chance they’re lying to us, I want to know what those Chinese Agents were doing here and what the Russians hid in the bank.”

Hearing the stubborn edge to her companion’s voice, Kitsu threw her allegiance behind Zak,
“I agree, we should go to the bank.”

“Ok, so we’re going to the bank then?” Elaine checked, hoping the argument was finally over.

“Yes. We’re going to the bank.” Clayton announced quietly, eager to test his abilities against the bank security.

“Fine, whatever we’re doing, let’s get out of this hostel and go and do it.” Alexander declared, and with barely another word spoken the group made their way across the city to the bank that had been described in the rumours.

Realising as they stood in the street facing the bank that no actual plan had been proposed let alone agreed upon, the group formed a slight huddle as an impromptu attempt to successfully plan a bank heist, and a subtle one at that, began in earnest.

“Looks like two security guards, barred windows, a handful of customers, maybe an office at the back?”

“Yeah, I think that back room joins the manager’s office maybe? The vault entrance must be behind the security screen and the tellers.”

“Ok, so, we need a distraction, and I’ll make it look like one of my smoke grenades goes off accidentally…” Matt began, but Zak was already crossing the street and entering the bank with only the invisible Clayton following him.

“Good morning, do you speak Russian?” the older of the two security guards asked the obvious tourist in his native tongue, the two guards were dressed in long winter coats with at least a heavy pistol holstered visibly and the potential for other armaments or armour underneath the bulky clothing.

“Yes, I do.” Zak replied, again using his comprehension of languages to speak near fluent Russian.

“Excellent, can you read Russian too?” the older man asked, gesturing toward the various signs and posters that explained the processes of the bank to customers in large Russian characters.

“I can, thank you.” Zak replied, glad to be met with such courtesy from what he had assumed would be hostile security personnel.

“Ok then, please have a nice day.” The man finished, and with a smile he gestured for Zak to go about his banking business as he returned to his post by the door.

“What’s the plan then? Zak, don’t forget we’re a team.” Kitsu said to the remaining team-members that stood with her outside the bank, making sure to broadcast the statement to Zak via the commlink.

“Ok, we need a distraction so we can slip into the vault unseen, but we need the distraction to be innocent so it doesn’t cause any trouble.” Matt reiterated, desperately hoping a suitable plan would come to him before his team fell apart at the seams.

“Zak’s on the right track, standing out here isn’t half sus…” Elaine mumbled to anyone who would listen as she turned and walked into the bank, walking straight up to the writing bench where Zak was pretending to fill out a form with her “bodyguard” Matt rushing to keep in step with her.

“Hey, Sir, stop there a moment!” the security guards called to Matt as the heavily armed mercenary strode past them into the bank,

Hearing only the shout, Matt turned with apologetic a body language as he could manage,
“Sorry, I only speak English, could you repeat that?” he offered,

“Just wait a moment Sir, we cannot allow weapons like that into the bank. Who are you two?” the older guard asked, pointing to Matt and Elaine while the younger guard stood with gun in hand ready to leap into action if the armed stranger proved trouble.

“Her parents hired me to protect her while she travels through Europe.” Matt explained, hoping the whole team remembered the agreed upon cover story

“Well, that’s fine, but we can’t let you keep the gun inside the bank. Security risk obviously. We need you to leave the bank, but if you need to stay close to the girl we can confiscate the weapons until you are ready to leave.” The guard explained, and Matt noticed that despite his helpful demeanour, even the older guard had one hand close to his sidearm.

“Thank you, here, I’d better keep an eye on her anyway.” Matt decided, handing his unsilenced submachinegun together with his tonfa to the security guard who raised an eyebrow at the belt of grenades.

“Also, make sure to keep your hands away from those or we will have to treat you as security threat. Understand?” the guard warned, making sure to make full eye-contact to convey the message clearly.

“Of course, thanks.” Matt promised, and as the guards wished him a good day he moved into the bank to join Elaine at Zak’s side.

As the younger guard carried the confiscated weapons to the side of the secure service counter, Clayton fell into step behind him, and when the guard unlocked the door, stowed the weapons under the counter and locked the door behind him on his way back to his post, he failed to hear the cautious footsteps of the invisible cyborg that had crept past him onto the tellers’ side of the barrier.

Meanwhile, Zak was busy getting as much information as he could, reading first the mind of the older security guard, discovering that the guards were confident they were in for a boring shift due to the military presence in the city, and probing to learn that the manager was a woman in her late 30s whose office was through the waiting room at the back of the lobby.

“What do you know?” Elaine whispered to the psychic runaway as she stood beside him, watching his pen scribble idly on the deposit slip as he concentrated his mind elsewhere.

“Clayton, if you made it behind the counter when the door opened, tap your commlink once. Tap twice for no.” Matt urged, and the single microphone tap filled the whole team with a quiet confidence and excitement about the task at hand.

Joining the queue for the tellers, Alexander kept to himself, waiting for some signal or sign of danger to join the others in action, but unsure of what his role was in the improvised and unspoken plan.

Kitsu opted to sit on the curb and watch the people of the city go about their daily business, failing to see any purpose for her entering the bank at all.

“The manager is a woman.” Zak finally replied to Elaine, and from his wink the female cyborg guessed that the statement was carrying some subtext she didn’t fully grasp.

Deciding that sitting and waiting for the others wasn’t the most productive use of her abilities, Kitsu walked around the block to the rear of the bank, searching the alleyway for some sign of important electrical cables and eventually setting her sights on the enclosed transformer that probably fed the mains power into the bank.

Checking that nobody was within sight, Kitsu moved over to the security cage that formed the outer shell of the transformer box and with a little wriggling managed to get both arms through the narrow gaps in the cage to lay her hands on the metal case within.

Guessing that the metal box would be conducive enough for her to overload the fuses within, the slight Australian girl whispered a quick warning to her team via the communication link before pumping high voltage electricity through the metal box until she heard wires sparking and fuses popping from within.

Even before Kitsu evacuated the alleyway to sit innocently on a bench in another street, the interior of the bank blacked out, and Clayton used the shrieks and darkness to mask his movements as he opened and carefully closed the door from the main service counter through to the staffroom before the backup generators kicked in and the bank was illuminated by a dull orange glow and bulletproof security screens and a quarter inch deadbolt sealed the tellers and Clayton away from the potential security threat of the customers in the lobby.

“Do not panic. Step back from the counter and keep calm and still. Please move out the front door in an orderly fashion until power is back on.” The security guards instructed, first in Russian and then in English, as they directed the shocked customers with drawn pistols and torches.

Two customers at the front of the line began to shout and complain that their day would be ruined if the bank couldn’t simply take their money and deposit it when the systems were back online, but the manager soon appeared from her office and explained that the electricity company had been notified and the situation would be resolved as soon as possible, but that unfortunately the bank needed to be closed until the computers had power again.

Seeing his opportunity, Zak quickly cast his mind into the thoughts of the manager, reading as much as he could about the mysterious vault deposit rumour through the frustrated surface thoughts regarding the power outage. After a little effort he managed to find out that the large object was being kept in the vault on behalf of the Russian Government until a special operative could claim it and take it to Moscow, but she had been assured it was not dangerous and should just be left alone in the back corner of the vault.

After a moment of shuffling and herding, the security guards managed to hustle everyone out onto the street where the manager herself made a general apology for the situation and added,
“You are all welcome to wait here until we re-open, but you may wish to go about other business for an hour or two until we can get the issue resolved.”

Meanwhile, Clayton moved through a third door to the stairs that lead from the small staffroom down to the large vault itself, piles of office supplies, money bags and other equipment currently unused by the bank stacked on either side of the corridor and security cameras mounted on the walls.

Disabling the two cameras that watched the vault door itself, Clayton attempted to bypass the lock before realising the key and combination vault door was beyond his capabilities alone.
“The lock is going to be a problem.” He whispered over the comms, “I need to find a key as well as bypass the combination tumbler.”

“I’ll find your key.” Zak replied, and again he established a subtle link with the thoughts of the manager, only to discover she kept the key to the vault on a chain around her neck.

As Kitsu, Alexander, Elaine, Matt and Zak all gathered together outside the bank doors, the manager and the older security guard attempted to redirect the questions of the disgruntled customers while the younger guard searched the lobby within to make certain nobody had attempted to hide in the bank.

Clayton heard the voices of the four tellers in the staffroom as he approached the door on his way back to get the key, and crossing his fingers he pulled the pin on a sleeping gas grenade and opened the door a crack, allowing the small room to fill with the sedative odour.

Stepping into the room, Clayton was relieved to see two of the tellers had succumbed to the gas and lapsed into unconsciousness in the act of putting on their jackets on their way out of the bank, similarly the male teller was losing his fight to stay standing, leaning heavily on his locker for support.

Before Clayton could report a success on his incapacitation of the staff however, the fourth teller screamed her alarm at her suddenly unconscious co-workers and burst out of the room toward the deadbolted door through the counter to the lobby.

Leaping after her with superhuman agility, Clayton brought an unbladed fist to bear on the back of the woman’s head, and with a single blow rendered her unconscious too.

“I had to take out the tellers. They’re all unconscious. I’m at the barrier door waiting for the key.” He whispered into his communicator, hoping that things weren’t taking a turn toward disaster.

Outside the bank, Elaine gave Zak a heavy shove, sending both the teenager and the bank manager sprawling onto the pavement and earning a stern warning from the security guard at gunpoint, while Kitsu slipped behind the fallen woman and helped herself to the vault key even as she helped the woman to her feet.

“Sorry about that.”

“Just stay back, and everyone calm down!” the woman scolded, unaware of the former street urchin’s sleight of hand as she stalked into the bank toward her office without the key.

“Let go of it for a second…” Zak hissed to his friend, and as Kitsu opened her hand behind her back to reveal the key, Zak lifted it from her palm and fired it through the door with a short burst of telekinesis.

“The key is on the floor on the other side of that door, good luck.” Zak informed Clayton via commlink, but as the older cyborg attempted to ease the heavy locked down deadbolt open to open the door, he realised the process was not going to be very subtle.

“I’m going to need a distraction, I can’t open this door quickly or quietly!” he hissed to anyone on the team that would listen.

Elaine tried to hide a half-smile, marching up to the nearest rubbish bin and kicking it loudly, swearing at Zak before purposefully striding toward the barred doors of the bank.

Although the overdramatic girl was intercepted by the security guard and ordered to stand on the other side of the street until she calmed down, the attention she drew from both guards was enough for Clayton to open the door, grab the key and safely lock himself behind the counter again.

“Guys, whatever it is you’re doing, better make it quick.” Came a warning from Alexander, and as the group outside turned to see what the pyrokinetic was referring to they saw a patrol of Russian soldiers driving toward them down the street looking appropriately pissed off about the idea of a public disturbance during the security crisis.

Moving back downstairs, Clayton eventually managed to crack the lock and open the huge vault door, admitting light into the previously pitch black room and revealing deposit chutes with bags full of money bags, a small cabinet of safety deposit boxes, the cage containing the bank's back-up generators which were currently running, an ordered series of cash containers and in the far corner a vertical steel box with ventilation slots cut into it at regular intervals.

From within the box, Clayton saw movement in reaction to the light, and as he moved to a position to see more clearly through the slots, he realised there was a human man, or what appeared to be a human man, constrained within.

“Who is that? Who opened the door?” the man asked, obviously unable to see Clayton through his concealment.

Suddenly the eyes of the imprisoned man turned a metallic silver, and the veins and arteries of his body glowed silver through his skin as he activated something within in an attempt to see better.

“Are you here to kill me?” a slightly more metallic voice demanded, and as Clayton realised that this was the mysterious package and probably the key to the mystery surrounding the dead Chinese agents and the military lockdown, he cleared his throat and replied:

“I’m here to save you. Come with me if you want to live.”

Although he couldn’t see his supposed saviour even with his nano-bots activated, Johnny L. House couldn’t help but hope the voice was telling the truth.


To be continued in Episode 3, Part III...
Nothing is Everything


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