Patriot City Legacy

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Patriot City Legacy

Postby kipling » Sun Jun 06, 2004 2:44 am

PATRIOT CITY LEGACY

GM's Note: The actions are correct, but all the other character interpolation is of course mine, intended to give a better reading experience. The group is missing two members, one of whom has just had a run of bad luck on gaming nights and the other, who will rejoin in July. I have no idea how long this game will go--I know we'll finish Major League, and I am (as you can see) laying the groundwork for more adventures, but it's up to the players.

The characters so far are:

  • The USS Enterprise, a plastic model that is possessed by the ghost of a mutant and unshakeable in its belief that it is the actual NCC-1701D;
  • The Escapist, a 30s hero frozen by his enemies and thawed on the eve of the new millennium (those who've read Kavalier & Klay know The Escapist);
  • Minotaur, plucked from the list of archetypes by one of the players who doesn't own the rules.


Chapter 1: The Heist

FREEDOM FORTRESS 12:02 PM

Member Status 12:02 pm

Father Sparks: Corrupt
Minuteman: Corrupt
Johnny Pronto: Corrupt
Dr. Metropolis: Uncertain. Tentatively assigned value corrupt.
Blackbird: Corrupt
Siren: Corrupt

Fortress Status: Hungry

EASTERN SEABOARD BANK 2:13 PM

Lt. Maura Shapirowitz was tired and frustrated. What she wanted was a peaceful end to this standoff. Forty hostages in the bank, two supervillains, eight muscle. The sun was hot on her neck, making her glad she had gone for the shorter haircut this time.

Still, longer hair would keep Lt. Clancy Lord from breathing on her neck. He stood there, in his jumpsuit, waiting, his toothpick jutting from his mouth, looking like an aging surfer, all smugness and tan.

"Give it up, Shapirowitz," he told her. "All they understand is force. I've got the Beta Cannon being prepped right now and ten shell units waiting in the generator truck."

She should have stayed with the FBI, she thought, but the changes that had led to the Waco tragedy had finally forced her out, ten years later. A legacy of pain and a shoot-first attitude she didn't like.

And now this, on her first day with the Patriot City PD. While waiting for the guy in the bank--Rant--to call her again, she used her other cell phone to order a pint of Hagen-Daaz Triple Brownie Overload. She was going to need it when she got home.

"Hey, Maura--"

It was Rant. The villain in the bank. She had looked him up on her PDA. William Rackert, sonic powers. Sister Eleanor who went by Rave. Three arrests by various members of Freedom Force for petty crimes, always to get immediate results. No previous evidence of any planning abilities. And she couldn't see him; the blast doors on the bank had slammed shut, keeping Rant, Rave, forty hostages, and probably six goons inside.

"Any superheroes out there yet?"

"Not yet," she said truthfully.

"Lemme know when they show up."

"How do you know they'll show up?"

"Come on. It's Patriot City. They live to catch supervillians." He said it that way, "villian." To someone else, he said, "Half in the vault and half the hostages here." Then, back into the phone, "Listen, Maura, while we wait, I have to know."

"Yes?"

"Are you bodaaaaaacious?" He drew the word out.

Clancy, listening in on a headset, laughed.

"Come out and you can see," she said.

"That means no. Do you like girls? My sister's feeling kind of desperate. Ow!"

"What?"

She hit me. Listen, I think it's time to start offing hostages."

"You haven't even made any demands!"

"Oh. Right."

Maura wiped away a trickle of sweat from her temple.

"Okay, you send us a superhero, a strong one. Five minutes, no more. Or we start popping them like the guard. Rant over."

She dialed to double her ice cream order. She was going to have to put the ice cream store on speed dial.

* * *

"Bob, how's this for an opening?

"Amy Feng, Channel 3 Action News, with the Eastern Seaboard Bank behind me, and you can see that the mood is tense here as blah blah blah. Everyone is wondering, where is Freedom Force?"

"I especially like the 'blah blah blah' part."

Amy offered him a short obscenity. "We need something better to show than that little bit of security camera broadcast."

"But it was good film--showed the guard getting knocked out against the wall like that."

"We'll do better. Can you drive faster?"

"No. They have the place cordoned off. Hey, that's the Tactical Weapons and Armor Truck."

"Why did they have to call it that?"

"They're cops, they're born crude. Amy, it means they don't think supers are going to show."

"What was that?"

Bob squinted. "Looks like a model airplane of the Enterprise."

"Enterprise?"

"You know, Star Trek."

"I hope it's the original series. Get us close to the truck. Not too close, those generators are noisy, but get a good angle on it."

"Don't I always?"

* * *

Wilfred Phineas Brown, currently hiding behind the name "Minotaur," surveyed the crowd from the shelter of the alleyway. He had never presented himself this publicly before. What if-- Well. He reminded himself what Chaucer said, that time and tide wait for no man.

Something small zipped overhead. He glanced at it. The Enterprise. Good. It would be good to have their--its--help.

He leapt high over the crowd and landed inside the police barricade, near a harried-looking female officer with three cell phones and a headset. Behind her, a jumpsuited officer drew his pistol swiftly and then grinned at Brown. The man looked like an aged surfer, tan, buff, and starting to bald.

"Greetings," Brown said, and then realized that he had to sound tougher. "Yo. Minotaur here."

"Lt. Maura Shapirowitz here." Into one of the cell phones: "We've got one, named Minotaur.... Uh, sorry, no, I meant I need that three pints of Hagen-Dasz, and I'm hanging up now." She grabbed a different phone. "Hold on."

"Good work, Lieutenant," said the officer who still had his pistol drawn.

"Up yours, Lord," said Shapirowitz.

"Lieutenant Clancy Lord," said the man, extending his hand to Minotaur. "Head of Superhuman Weapons And Tactics." He nodded his head. "The boys in turtle armor are mine, and we've got the Beta cannon standing by."

"Pardon? Beta cannon?" asked Minotaur. "I mean, say what?" He itched to stop talking and start fighting; his street slang was largely from television shows.

"Little gadget we've got that will peel open the bank like a ripe banana."

"I don't believe that will be necessary, Officer," came the voice of Patrick Stewart.

Shapirowitz said to Minotaur, "Is this your flying robot gadget?"

"This is the U.S.S. Enterprise of the United Federation of Planets."

"Funny," said Lord, "I always thought you'd be bigger."

"An unfortunate side effect of the wormhole passage that brought us to your century. Nonetheless, we can be quite effective. What is the situation?"

"Two dirtbags going by Rant and Rave, between five and ten armed thugs, and hostages," said Lord.

"And they want a brick to help them."

"Help them what?" asked Minotaur.

"Carry the loot, apparently."

"It does get someone inside," said the Enterprise.

"I can get people inside," said Lord. "We're bringing in the Beta Cannon right now."

Six jumpsuited officers in vests were bringing in the cannon, a massive gleaming machine that rested on five ground-effect disks. The cannon hummed and the charge indicator on the side showed red--less than half of the capacitors loaded.

"I'll do it," said Minotaur.

"Summary for Rant," said the Enterprise. "Male caucasian, early twenties, sonic powers, including disintegration. Emotionally unstable."

"Do you have dirt on everyone?" asked Minotaur.

"The police data banks are wide open to twenty-fourth century technology."

"Riiiiight," said Minotaur. He looked around and started across the open pavement to the bank. Enterprise headed up, out of sight.

Pity Minotaur hadn't asked for the summary on Rave.

* * *

The Escapist looked at the locked door. The Eastern Seaboard bank had been the site of a telephone relay station in the 1930s, before long-distance technology had improved. He remembered that relay station. Like most stations of the time, there had been a subterranean access section, and according to the oldest blueprints of the bank, that door had been left intact. When the blast shields had been added--after the emergence of true super-powered heroes in the 1960s--they hadn't added a shield to this door.

The old cable tunnel was empty since the switch to fiber optic, and that channel was accessible through the sewers. The door was heavily padlocked, but the locks were old and heavy, the kind of thing he had trained on, back in the 1920s. He felt a sudden surge of nostalgia and homesickness, and then willed it away.

People were trapped and had to be freed. That was his life back then and it was his life here and now, even since being thawed.

The lock was rusty but fell open under his practised touch. He looked at the door hinges and quickly oiled them, then eased open the door into the bank. It moved three inches and then stopped. Blocked by shelving.

Gentle pressure, slowly increasing, moved the shelving unit aside with only a quiet groan. The janitor probably never even knew about the door.

The Escapist slipped inside. The door to the storeroom was shut, but he waited in the ammonia-scented darkness for a moment. He could hear voices, but no one had noticed him. Yet. Except--

"Did you hear something?"

"Yeah, the boss going on about her sexual habits."

"Besides that. You stay here, I'm just going to scout around."

"Make sure the boss doesn't blast you."

"I'll be careful."

A moment later, the Escapist had taken him down with one punch.

Interesting, thought the Escapist. Blaster pistols--where did low-rent goons like this get blaster pistols? But no armor.

He scooped up the blaster pistol and looked around. He wouldn't be able to sneak into the vault, but there was another set of hostages in the main room. The question was how to sneak up on them. He looked up. The bank had a drop ceiling. It took him only a moment to clamber up above the ceiling tiles.

* * *

Minotaur approached the bank. The sun was warm on his head. The blast shield doors opened slightly, stopped, then opened wider. He could hear someone cursing inside about machines that didn't work right.

"It's not the machine that doesn't work right, needle-noodle," came a woman's voice, "it's you. You're the one who--" Minotaur squeezed through the doors. "Oh. Oh, yes."

Minotaur he heard the rumble as the male--Rave--punched buttons on the security desk. The blast doors opened a little, then closed behind him, leaving the foyer dark again.

People--hostages-- were sitting on the floor, along the desks and walls. Minotaur could smell their fear. Chairs and desks had been piled up to make a kind of barrier. A young man and a woman--Rant and Rave, presumably--stood near the counter for tellers. Three men armed with blaster pistols stood around the foyer. The woman stepped forward towards Minotaur.

"I'm Rave, and you're yummy." She reached out to touch him and then thought better of it. "First we have to teach you who's boss." She gestured with one hand--

--and the building melted around him, like a Salvador Dali painting, the marble floor sagging like plastic on a hot stove, the walls bending into non-Euclidean angles, and Rave's skin falling off her skull while her dark hair writhed like snakes and his hands were cold as the flesh sloughed off them--

--and it was gone. Minotaur took a deep breath and looked at his hands to be sure they were okay.

"Just think how I can make you feel if I want you to like it, Yum-bum." She winked.

"Keep your hormones in check, sis. You can use him and abuse him later. We need you to carry the loot, dude. That's all."

The sudden shaft of sunlight awoke the guard. He moaned and reached for his pistol. Rant said, "'Scuse me," and he stepped to one side, opened his mouth and shrieked. The sound grated on Minotaur's ears, set his jaw to vibrating, but it did worse to the guard: it knocked him backwards, headfirst into the wall, and blood began to trickle from his ear. He might have been dead.

Minotaur didn't think of the other hostages. He roared.

"Crap," said Rave. She put her hand on her brother's side and gestured with the other one at Minotaur's feet. The floor went away under him.

Minotaur fell into the basement.

* * *

Outside, the Enterprise's sensors detected the sudden change in energy and the sudden drop in the guard's bodily functions. "Stand back," broadcasted the ship, and fired phasers at the front blast door.
The blast shield rippled and glowed with phaser fire but did not give.
Lieutenant Lord said, "It's gone pear-shaped, Shapirowitz, not unlike yourself. My operation now. Warm up the cannon!"

The officers had settled the cannon on the ground minutes ago and the whine of the capacitors could be heard over the crowd. "We open it with the cannon, then the shells go in. Shells into position!"

The Escapist heard the noise and lifted the nearest ceiling tile. He steadied the blaster pistol and took a single carefully aimed shot at one of the thugs, who fell. A second shot a moment later hit Rant, who staggered--but did not fall. Instead, Rant, still with his sister's hand on him, clapped and moved his hand, as if shooing the sound upwards--

--and the ceiling disappeared.

The Escapist tumbled down and landed upright among the rubble. He tucked and rolled behind a desk, squeezed off a shot, knocked out another thug.

* * *

Minotaur roared--it beat thinking of appropriate street slang--and leapt from the hole, ploughing into Rave with all of his strength. Only at the last minute did he remember to pull his punch--

--and Rave flew backwards into the information desk, rolled like a rag doll, and did not get up again.

Oh, God, thought Minotaur, have I killed her?

There was no time to check, though, as sunlight streamed into the bank as the Enterprise finally opened a hole in the superalloy blast doors.

"Hostages!" shouted the Escapist. "In the vault!"

"I'm on it!" Minotaur sprinted to the vault.

Rant turned to the Escapist, gauged the angle, and bounced the sound off the back row of tellers. The Escapist fell.

The Escapist stayed down.

[GM's note: We were not using Hero Points that night. Rant rolled a critical and The Escapist's player rolled a one on the damage save. Ouch.]

* * *

Enterprise assessed the situation. Minotaur was handling the two thugs in the vault. These three thugs were uncertain, unmoving; Rant was the real danger. From outside it used tractor beams to bring Rant out into the open.

Rant's screams caused the Enterprise's shields to rattle--but they held. Rant was suspended before the Beta Cannon's muzzle.

Rant sneered at the crowd. "You should be afraid. Something like this isn't going to bother me, when I can just shatter the control mechanism--"

The very air rippled with the force of his next shriek. Attendant officers clapped their hands over their ears, and a dozen lights on the Beta Cannon switched from green to amber or red.

"Uh, Turk," said one of the officers, "remind me about the cannon again. Red lights are bad, aren't they?"

"Very bad, Julio. Emergency shutdown."

"It's not working! She's going to blow!"

* * *

In the vault, Minotaur looked at the two thugs. They held the blasters on the twenty hostages. The air was hot and fetid. "You move toward us," said the first thug, "and they get it."

Blasters were nominally non-lethal weapons, but at point-blank range
in a highly-conductive environment, Minotaur knew that "nominal" meant "not really."

"I don't have to move toward you at all," said Minotaur. He lifted his foot and stomped--

--and the ground shook.

It was helped by the nature of the vault walls and floor, a sandwich of ultradense alloys and ceramics; they carried the vibration better than dirt. It was an earthquake, and the epicenter was less than a dozen feet from where they stood. They shook, toppled, and fell, and Minotaur had them.

Mindful of the close call with Rave, he was more careful about pulling his punch when he hit the first one--too careful, as it turned out. because the thug managed to draw on him from the ground, and the blaster bolt caught him unawares, stunning him for a second.

All he could hear were the screams of the hostages.

* * *

Enterprise noticed the sudden surge in energy in the Beta Cannon power core, and made an instant decision. It dropped Rant in the middle of the armored agents and focused its tractor beams on the Beta Cannon itself.

* * *

Operating on instinct, Minotaur backhanded the thug, thankful the goon hadn't remembered to fire on hostages. The thug fell against a wall of safety-deposit boxes. And the second was--

The second was gone. The rest of the hostages were nearly immobile with shock--too much, too fast for them.

"He took off with Miss Lopez," a middle-aged man told Minotaur while the others murmured "Thank you."

Outside the vault door, Minotaur could see the glowing red Exit light over the back door, could see that the blast shield was still in place.

In the foyer, The Escapist stood there, blaster in hand. The three thugs were unconscious on the floor.

"Did one run by you?" he asked The Escapist.

"No. Check outside. I'll check the other exit."

What other exit? thought Minotaur, but he headed outside, into the bright sunlight.

* * *

It wasn't until Enterprise was nearly out of the Earth's atmosphere that it was safe to engage the drive, pulling the Beta Cannon along an orbit that would intersect the sun and no known satellites of Earth or the sun.

Then, at the last moment, it cut the tractor beams and let the Beta Cannon fall through space.

There was no time to watch a new brief star flare up; lives might still be endangered.

* * *

"Amy Feng, Action 3 news, here with Minotaur, who has just, with the Enterprise"--she looked pained as she said that--"foiled a bank robbery. Minotaur, how do you feel?"

Minotaur tried to dodge the camera and microphone, and couldn't. "Just doing what I--Just doing the right thing," he said to her.

* * *

In the sewer, The Escapist found Serena Lopez, unconscious. The thug had found the door he had used to enter, taken her along, and then knocked her out when he didn't need her any more.

He set about reviving the young woman.

* * *

Behind Amy Feng, out of camera range, the Superhuman Weapons And Tactics team scrambled for their truck. Maura Shapirowitz went in to the bank to deal with hostages.

"How do you feel about the fact that Freedom Force didn't show up?" Amy Feng said to Minotaur.

"Well--"

Enterprise appeared. "Minotaur! According to the police broadcasts, members of Freedom Force are robbing ASTRO labs. Stand ready to be lifted by tractor beam!"

"Gotta go!" Minotaur said. "You chill," he added to Amy Feng as Enterprise carried him away.

Amy Feng looked in the camera. "And Action 3 news will be there!"

"Cut!" said Bob.

"Then why aren't you running yet?"

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Postby Ronin » Tue Jun 08, 2004 8:18 am

Sounds like a fun session. I kinda like the entire concept of the Enterprise character. :) As for the Escapist, oddly enough I just finished re-reading a batch of his adventures. :)
"That was back when comic book worlds were places you wanted to escape to... not from." - Squirrel Girl

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Postby kipling » Tue Jun 08, 2004 9:29 am

It has been fun--I have to write up the next two sessions (the one where we discovered hero points and then the big Major League battle).

Unfortunately, The Escapist's player hasn't been able to show up for the last two sessions, but I hope he'll make it next time.

The Enterprise is a tough character to fit into some of the social stuff, but he/it is driven to investigate aliens it hasn't seen before, so I've revived Mentor from his chrysalis, where he's been mutating for the last ten years... (But that will show up in the updates.)

The characters pose an interesting set of adventure challenges, at least until they have the history to investigate stuff on their own: hostages or prisoners (or the Iron Chain) to bring in The Escapist, and superhuman involvement to keep the Enterprise on earth and investigating.

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Chapter two: The Other Heist

Postby kipling » Sun Jun 13, 2004 10:55 pm

CHAPTER 2: THE OTHER HEIST

GM's Note: This one was mostly combat, and dragged out by the use of Hero Points for almost entirely defensive tactics, so it condenses down quite nicely.

ASTRO labs had a set of six buildings on a business campus in the north end of Patriot City, by Franklin Park. There was no question which building had the problem: it was the one with the large hole in the third-storey wall. If that wasn't sufficient, a man in a white lab coat came hurtling out of the window. From the flailing arms and the parabolic path, Minotaur figured it wasn't a super.

"Dropping you," announced Enterprise as it released the tractor beam and dove to catch the falling figure. It takes about two and a half seconds to fall three storeys; Minotaur rolled in the air and prepared his legs for the landing, matching his fall with the figure.

They did not hit the ground at the same time--Minotaur hit pavement, glad not to sink ankle deep in the groun; the falling man did not hit the ground at all, cushioned and captured by the tractor beams of the Enterprise. Minotaur could already hear the man screaming.

"Don't let them take it! Don't!"

Minotaur leapt over, but Enterprise was already asking questions. "Who? Take what?"

"Freedom Force! Father Sparks and Johnny Pronto came into the lab and asked me questions about the new quantum etheric transmitter, then threw me out the window!"

"What is a quantum etheric transmitter?" asked Minotaur.

"It's a regular broad-spectrum transmitter, very efficient, suitable for use in satellites and submarines."

"What does 'quantum etheric' mean?"

There was a blur down the side of the building and something slammed into Minotaur, knocking him back. "It means pain, baby," came a voice that he recognized from news shows. Johnny Pronto. "Pain with a capital ouch."

Enterprise shot phasers at the man, but missed; he was too fast. Minotaur got to his feet. From the blue blur, Minotaur could tell Pronto was circling around, back up into the hole in the building.

"Which Penrose? The crackpot or--"

"The mathematician."

"And what kind of receiver would pick up a quantum etheric broadcast?"

"Either a quantum etheric receiver--"

Pronto slammed into Minotaur again, but this time he kept his feet. Enterprise was moving the scientist farther away from the building.

Minotaur swung but connected with only air.

"And where is the receiver?" asked Enterprise.

"Schenectady facility."

"Did they steal it?"

"Probably not. We're not idiots, you know."

"Curious."

"Or the signal could possibly be received by microtubules in the human brain."

"Ah," said Enterprise.

"But what does it mean?" asked Minotaur.

"Mind control. From orbit." To the doctor: "Why would you include such a thing in your transmitter?"

"Every design has to include something wildly experimental."

Enterprise dropped him the last two feet, and arced around to look in the hole as the scientist called out, "Condition of funding!"

Minotaur sympathized, but had other things to think about. Father Sparks was flying out of the hole, carrying a large crate that had probably been assembled at super-speed. Enterprise sent a phaser beam at him, hit him--but had no apparent effect.

"Listen, I don't want to complain here--" Minotaur began, then remembered his street persona. "Hey! How about some help, bro?"

"Absolutely, youngster," said Father Sparks. "Absolutely. 'Cast forth lightning, and scatter them; shoot forth thine arrows and destroy them.'" Lightning crackled and Minotaur was enveloped in heat and the smell of ozone. He screamed, then realized the pain was no worse--for him--than licking a flashlight battery.

"If I can grab you, you..." Minotaur stuck out his arm to clothesline Johnny Pronto, but the man was too fast.

"Well, you don't scream like a girl," said Johnny Pronto helpfully. "But it really takes away from the macho image." Pronto began to whirl around Minotaur, and the big man felt the updraft of air start to lift him
up. "Of course, so does flailing away in mid-air, hitting nothing. If
I could get you in a dress too, I'd send it to America's Funniest Videos."

Enterprise circled around Father Sparks and shot him from behind.

"What?" said Pronto. "No snappy comebacks?"

Minotaur tried to take some satisfaction from the fact that Pronto was occupied in keeping him here. It was a stand-off. Father Sparks presumably knew he couldn't outfly the Enterprise, so he had to deal with him--or be followed.

The updraft was as thick as water, holding him up--

Enterprise considered. There was no problem hitting Father Sparks, it was just difficult to hurt him. Sensor scan of his body showed no obvious weaknesses, although there was an anomaly that should be analyzed later.

Enterprise increased the power to the phaser banks. Father Sparks shrugged it off.

--Minotaur began to swim through the updraft until he had reached the thin edges of the whirlwind, and he tumbled to the ground. Before Pronto could circle around and catch him, Minotaur leapt towards Father Sparks. Hampered by the large crate, the priest did not move out of the way fast enough and Minotaur caught him around the waist.

Enterprise engaged tractor beams and held them together.

"The crate!" screamed the scientist.

It toppled and fell. Johnny Pronto ran to catch it in a cushion of air and slowly lowered it down.

"Didn't steal it to break the thing," he commented to no one in particular. "You need a hand there, Padre?"

Enterprise held Minotaur and Father Sparks in the air. Lightning crackled around them, unable to ground. Minotaur squeezed Father Sparks, and squeezed again, and continued to hold, for a long time--

"Go!" Sparks managed to say. "We only need a half hour--"

Father Sparks resisted, every muscle straining beneath his cassock, and then went limp.

"Is he faking it?" gasped Minotaur.

"Sensors indicate he is not."

Minotaur let go. Enterprise lowered them both to the ground. "Oh, man. I've never worked so hard--"

"It is possible that the new Minuteman is stronger than he is."

"You're not cheering me up, Enterprise."

"We can leave him; the police are very close, and Dr. Clearwater's testimony will be sufficient."

"How did you know his name?"

"I read his security badge. Let me carry you to the Freedom Fortress; we need more information. I have a tentative hypothesis regarding the Freedom Force's disappearance."

"Go on."

"The chiral sugars and proteins in his body are all left-handed."

"Which means?" Minotaur wondered idly why issues of economics never came into play. One would think at least Prigogine's work on the economics of open systems would have a significant place here. He filed it as a possible paper to write.

"We have arrived."

The Freedom Fortress was a crisp modern-looking building with a metallic exterior, shiny as a beetle's shell. It grew from the ground, as out of place in this older neighbourhood as Jack's beanstalk. A few people had camped out before the building. They had signs that said, FREEDOM FORCE -- WE LOVE YOU and COME BACK FROM SAVING SOMEONE ELSE.

Minotaur walked nervously around the front courtyard. "So what now? We just knock?" The squatters weren't trying to approach them.

"I captured Father Sparks' biometric data and I hope use it over the data link to convince the building security system that we are-- Interesting."

"You keep saying that."

But scanning the building had already shown the Enterprise that there was another anomaly. The building was a living thing, a biological organism of sorts, even though it contained an advanced computer system, or systems.

Greetings, said the building over the data link, and Enterprise caught one fleeting word: Hungry.

Greetings. This is the USS Enterprise.

Enter.

The front door slid open. An excited babble started among the squatters.

"Good work," said Minotaur.

"I cannot take the credit," said Enterprise. "The building wishes us to enter."

"You're still not cheering me up, Enterprise."

They entered the mouth of the abandoned hall of heroes.

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CHAPTER 3: STAR ISLAND POWER

Postby kipling » Mon Jun 21, 2004 11:33 pm

CHAPTER 3: STAR (ISLAND) POWER

Minotaur looked around. He knew this front hall from televised press conferences and from reports of the parties and balls that the second incarnation of Freedom Force had held. Marble floors, large portraits of the first Freedom Force, a reception desk tucked by the door. There was no receptionist.

The portrait of El Diablo rippled and resolved into hand-high letters.

Greetings.

"Greetings. What has happened to the members of Freedom Force?" asked the Enterprise. Minotaur was sure it was talking out loud for his benefit.

"They are corrupt." Another portrait--Alchemiss--rippled, and this appeared:

Father Sparks: Corrupt
Minuteman: Corrupt
Johnny Pronto: Corrupt
Dr. Metropolis: Uncertain. Tentatively assigned value corrupt.
Blackbird: Corrupt
Siren: Corrupt

Minotaur thought he saw this flicker across the bottom of the screen:

Fortress Status: Hungry

But then it was gone.

"What does corrupt mean?" asked Minotaur.

"Unfit for duty. Not matching existing requirements."

Enterprise asked, "Is there a probable cause? What were they doing before this?"

"Archaeological work at the sea bottom." Longitude and latitude flashed on the second screen. "Requested by the International Geographic."

"Did they bring back an artifact?" Enterprise added to Minotaur, "Some kind of trigger."

"Negative. Extensive ruins were found but none were removed."

"Father Sparks said something about a half-hour time limit. I presume the transmitter was to work from orbit rather than from undersea. Fortress, what launch facilities would be available?"

The second screen displayed an image of a splatter of sand in the ocean.

"Star Island. Former missile silo site, purchased 1981 as launch site for High Ground Enterprises, private space agency that went bankrupt in 1989. Purchased by Widget 1992."

A second map showed them Star Island's location relative to the docks, and to the Freedom Fortress.

"What about undersea sites?"

"Negative."

"We need help," said Minotaur. "It took both of us working together to ground Sparks, we're not going to be able to take on the remaining five members."

"There's the SWAT team with the shells."

"It will take them too long to get to the island. No regular boat can make the fifteen nautical miles in time."

"But we can have them as clean-up."

"All right, we'll notify them. They can meet us at the island. Fortress, who else is available?"

"Four superhumans with currently identified locations:

EL DIABLO: Retired. Location: Guidance office, Clarence Darrow High School.
MENTOR: Comatose. Location: Freedom Fortress.
MISTER MYSTERY: On patrol. Location: south end of city.
VITAMIN KAY: Filming aerobics show. Location: WOLF studios."

"Diablo and Mentor are still alive?" said Minotaur in a hushed tone. "I thought the original Freedom Force were all..."

Enterprise said, "Minotaur, call Diablo. We will use 24th century science to bring Mentor out of his coma. Directions, Fortress."

Minotaur picked up the phone at the reception desk.

Enterprise followed the flashing corridor segments to the basement, and then to a sub-basement. Doors might have been locked or not; it was hard to tell with the Fortress opening them. In a vaulted chamber in the sub-basement, a translucent pod sat on a pedestal. It looked like a chrysalis.

Inside the chrysalis lay Mentor. Clearly an alien, his appearance was not the same as in the photographs that Enterprise had access to. The main change was his head: swollen and huge, the veins throbbed so slowly it was like watching a bicycle inner tube inflate and deflate. The face was clearly derived from Mentor's.

Enterprise noted that Mentor was an unknown species of alien. Interesting.

"Mentor," intoned Enterprise. "We need your help. Earth needs your help. Freedom Force is gone. Its members have been corrupted and turned to evil."

There was a long silence. Enterprise monitored Mentor's interior activity. There was a slight shift.

"Only you and a few other stalwarts remain but they are raw and untried. They need your guidance. Earth needs your assistance. We need you."

There was another long silence. And then Mentor's eyelids fluttered.

"By the moons of Rexor!" exclaimed Mentor, as he sat up for the first time in three decades.

Minotaur held the phone tightly, then consciously relaxed. He had destroyed phones before. A man answered the phone before the first ring had finished.

"Ramirez here." And then, to someone near his phone. "It's okay, Maria, I have it."

"Are the man they once called El Diablo?"

"You must be mistaken. They say that El Diablo is dead. And that was twenty years ago they last saw El Diablo."

"The Freedom Fortress knows where you are."

"Go on."

Minotaur briefly outlined the situation. "Current Freedom Force turned evil, stealing things. We think they're building a mind control device to enslave the world. We need to stop the launch in less than thirty minutes." Minotaur was aware of how ridiculous it sounded even as he said it.

But Ramirez didn't question it at all. Minotaur heard a brief curse word in Spanish. "Oh, man, is Maria gonna kill me for this. What's the plan?"

Enterprise came up with Mentor in tow. "Mentor has access to an unlimited-class hydroplane the Freedom Force had; we can have the shell team meet us there, that way they can get to the island much faster."

"Good idea. We'll be able to use their help. El Diablo will meet us at the dock."

Mentor said, "It will be good to see him again."

"Fortress, scan for launches world-wide. There may be backup plans we don't know about. Especially undersea launch areas. Notify us if you detect anything."

"Understood."

Enterprise picked up Mentor and Minotaur in a tractor beam. "Interesting," said Mentor. "Styles have changed so drastically in the time I have spent in transformation."

"Well," said Minotaur, "it has been thirty years."

"Moons of Rexor!" exclaimed Mentor. "I should only have been changing for six months! Then why is my transformation not complete?"

Minotaur changed the topic. "Hey, there's Diablo."

"It has been so long. He looks so old....you are such a short-lived species."

El Diablo floated there above the warehouse on the dock, a pillar of flame supporting him. His paunch showed in his trim El Diablo uniform, and his hair was almost all grey.

The SWAT shell truck was there, and the armor unit stood outside.

"Here is my password," said Mentor. "Radio it to them."

Enterprise did so. "They have a man trained on unlimited class hydrofoils."

"Excellent. I shall accompany you then. I feared I would have to pilot it."

The shell team scrambled onto the boat. In the co-pilot's seat, Julio looked at Turk. "This is an old boat, man."

Turk took off his helmet. It interfered with his peripheral vision. "I'm licensed."

"You were licensed for the Beta Cannon too."

"That wasn't my fault."

"I'm just saying--"

Enterprise carried its two passengers by tractor beam across the water, keeping its speed down to what El Diablo could manage, only a little faster than the hydroplane. He started out fast, then slowed down to a more manageable pace. Minotaur could see sweat on the older man's forehead. Still, he thought, I'm beside El Diablo. El Diablo!

In five minutes, they were within sight of the island. A white feather of a wake cut from the land and then to the boat.

"Pronto," said Minotaur. "Going to take out the cops." Enterprise dived. "What the hell are you doing?" asked Minotaur.

"We can't touch him, but Mentor can," said the ship.

"Very well," said Mentor, "but you should be warned that my powers are not what they should be. Something has gone drastically awry with my transformation."

The boat shuddered. "Johnny Pronto has rendered the pilot unconscious," said Enterprise.

"That's gotta be bad," said Minotaur.

"I will handle this," said Mentor. Enterprise dropped him on the deck, and he carefully made his way into the cabin as Enterprise lifted up so Minotaur would be out of the way in case Pronto came out.

Minotaur got the barest flash of mental energy and then the boat steadied itself. When Enterprise dropped him on the deck, Minotaur went inside to find all of them unconscious except Mentor, who was piloting the craft. "I appear to have miscalculated the energy," said Mentor. "There are power-suppressing restraints in a cabinet."

"Get the first aid kit," said Enterprise, and Minotaur did. In the meantime, Enterprise went through the set of power-suppressing cuffs that the boat carried. "Speedsters, here. Minotaur, secure him."

Minotaur did, and then used the stimulant in the first aid kit to wake the pilot. "Hey," Minotaur said gently to the young man, "we still need the backup, man."

Turk nodded, mute.

"Enterprise, let's go."

The hydroplane had to swerve around the boat to find the dock; El Diablo, Enterprise, and its two passengers headed directly for the only construction on the island.

"According to the old maps, there are three missile silos in the ground and a gantry they had built for their launch vehicles. The three buildings you can see beyond the dunes are the control buildings."

"Where are they?" In the presence of Mentor and El Diablo, he couldn't call these the Freedom Force.

"Scanners indicate that Widget is in silo two, working on a missile; Blackbird is in the control room; and Minuteman and Doctor Metropolis are on their way out of the control room to meet us. Siren is apparently not present."

"Minuteman?" asked Mentor.

"The third one," said Minotaur. "This one's a woman."

"Strange."

"I'll drop you, Minotaur, and set down Mentor."

"Fear not," said Mentor. "I can lower myself gently with the power of my mind."

From above them, they could hear El Diablo. "Where are they?"

With a screech of tortured metal, the gantry began to walk towards them. Enterprise let go of the other two and dodged as the huge crane arm came towards it.

Minotaur hit the ground rolling and looked for the three Freedom Force members Enterprise had noticed nearby. Widget would not be visible, but it had to be Dr. Metropolis moving the gantry--

The gantry swung again, and Enterprise, tiny as it was, easily avoided the skeletal structure. It fired phasers but missed the girders of the gantry.

Minotaur spotted Minuteman flying up to meet El Diablo. But where was Dr. Metropolis?

El Diablo said to her, "So do you give up now or do we fight?"

Minuteman said, "Try me, old-timer."

"It's Diablo time!" A jet of white-hot flame shot towards the woman in the Minuteman costume. She gestured, and the beam of flame was deflected to hit Minotaur.

"Hey!" The flames were hot--they almost singed him. But they were not overpoweringly hot, and Minotaur realized again that El Diablo had aged. He was not the man he once was.

The gantry swung again and missed the Enterprise again; Enterprise ignored the gantry for the moment and concentrated on finding Dr. Metropolis.

Minotaur leapt up, toward Minuteman, hoping to grab her--if they were low enough--

The swinging gantry connected and batted him across the island.

Enterprise continued its scan.

Mentor searched with his mind, found Dr. Metropolis without seeing him, and attacked, but the strange city being had too strong a will. He must try again.

With a roar, Minotaur launched himself back towards the launchpad. In the air, he had spotted Dr. Metropolis on the concrete launch pad, his skin the same color as the concrete, scorched and marked as the concrete was. His trademark green cloak was missing, exposing the pale green glass of his neck and wrists.

Metropolis gestured, and the arm of the gantry opened up and then closed like a giant fist around the Enterprise, sealing it in.

Enterprise noticed that the steel was old and corroded; it could disintegrate enough of it at any time. There might be some advantages to remaining concealed in this way.

Metropolis gestured again, and when Minotaur landed, he sank waist-deep into fluid concrete that set instantly. It took another punch to free himself, and who knew where Metropolis would be then?

Mentor attacked his mind again with another blast, but again had no success.

Diablo and Minuteman could hit one another, but neither had scored a solid shot. "Chica," grunted Diablo, "I knew Minuteman, and you're no Minuteman."

"I never knew El Diablo before," said Minuteman, "but it doesn't look like I missed much." She heard in her radio--"watch out! Behind you!"--but it was too late. Minotaur, lifted by the Enterprise's tractor beams, had slammed into her from behind.

Minotaur gave it his all and knocked her down to the ground; she was stunned by her fall, and Minotaur landed on her a moment later, knocking her unconscious.

"Remember the rocket," said El Diablo.

"The western silo," said Enterprise. "That's where Widget is."

Minotaur ran to the edge of the silo, where El Diablo still waited. Enterprise freed itself from its steel prison.

With neck cords popping and muscles straining, Minotaur liften the tons of silo lid of the silo against the hydraulics. "Go...ahead...Diablo."

Diablo fired down into the darkness, and Minotaur suddenly wondered about the wisdom of jets of flame shooting down into a rocket chamber.

Perhaps Widget worried about it too, because he suddenly shot up, out of the silo. Enterprise caught him and threw him towards Minotaur's fist.

Widget's force field flickered, and for Widget, the battle was over in two more punches.

The rocket rumbled. "Blackbird! He's launched it!" said Enterprise.

Diablo landed on the tip of the rising rocket and said, "Caramba! How do we stop this thing?" He began to pull at the metal plates of the cone with all of his strength. "If I hadn't changed into my uniform," he told himself, "I would at least have had my pocketknife and I could undo these screws."

The plates held. He tried a blast of heat to cut through them, but the metal was too strong.

Minotaur headed toward Dr. Metropolis. Dr. Metropolis went translucent, then incorporeal. Mentor thought at him for a moment--

--and he fell down, solid again.

"Thank goodness he was weakened by his distance from the city," said Enterprise.

The rocket headed nearly straight up, with El Diablo still perched on the nose. He said a brief prayer, and then, "Oh, Maria, I'm so sorry." He held on tightly and began to fly, trying to guide it so it wouldn't achieve orbit. He strained; he could feel it in his arms and legs, in every fiber of his being.

Mentor headed to the control building to deal with Blackbird.

Enterprise tried to tell Diablo to let go, but the man wasn't wearing his radio. Instead, Enterprise intercepted the datalink between the control building computers and the rocket and re-aimed it, routing it to a safe spot in the Patriot City harbor.

El Diablo fell, unconscious, and Enterprise raced to catch him.

The rocket fell almost harmlessly into the ocean; two small boats were swamped. By then the Enterprise was already at a hospital with El Diablo.

* * *

The screen read:

EL DIABLO: STATUS: Disabled. Heart attack.

"But he'll live," said Minotaur.

"Yes," said Mentor. "He will. Forgive me; I must be alone." Mentor moved away from them, to the sub-basement to contemplate his chrysalis.

"Enterprise." They had never heard the Fortress speak before. It had a pleasant contralto voice.

"Yes, Fortress?"

"There must be a Freedom Force."

"They will return, Fortress. We shall find out what happened to them. I suspect they are duplicates from a mirror dimension. We have records of such things happening."

"In the meantime, there must be a Freedom Force. Stay here, with Minotaur, and be the Freedom Force."

"We cannot replace them, Fortress."

"Please."

Minotaur cleared his throat, and Enterprise continued. "But we will stay and hold their places until they return."

Edit: Fixed some typos
Last edited by kipling on Tue Jun 22, 2004 7:51 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Ronin » Tue Jun 22, 2004 6:58 am

Nice, kipling. The return of El Diablo and Mentor in particular was a nice touch.
"That was back when comic book worlds were places you wanted to escape to... not from." - Squirrel Girl

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Postby kipling » Tue Jun 22, 2004 7:47 am

Thanks.

That ends the pre-planned adventures; from that adventure, things started to get a little...different...as one more of my players showed up. The addition of the Silk Slipknot and her great-aunt, the original Silk Slipknot, changed things significantly, both in terms of tone and in terms of what the PCs could do.

I find I'm also mining a lot of the Freedom Force stuff--the next session deals with Nuclear Winter, and the one after it descends into the underground city--while still tying it into the more modern hero hooks (the Blue Darkmen tie right into the Iron Chain, for example). I hadn't intended to mine Freedom Force quite this thoroughly, but as we develop more of our own history (and as I get more experience in character creation), that will change.

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Postby kipling » Tue Jul 27, 2004 1:57 pm

Chapter 4: History On Ice

GM's note: This episode introduced Silk Slipknot (well, actually the character has a different name, but the player may want to do something in terms of publishing the character, so I've changed the name). Her parents have been missing since she was a child--hence her little speech--and her Great-aunt, the original Gadgeteer Silk Slipknot, has raised her with a set of 1950s comics conventions.

Minotaur prowled the labyrinthine halls of the Freedom Fortress. He hadn't seen the Escapist since the scene in the bank; Enterprise was down in the subbasement with Mentor. There were other costumed types in Patriot City, but he didn't know them. He didn't really know much about the entire hero subculture, actually--

"There is a disturbance outside."

"What kind of disturbance?"

A wall lit up. (Minotaur found this unnerving: he never knew what sections of the Fortress were display, were cameras, or were bare wall space that they could adorn. Especially if he were going to move in here during the intersession period, to give this strongman in tights thing a serious try.) Angry protesters seethed outside. Minotaur recognized some of them as the people who had been waiting for Freedom Force to return.

"Give us the real Freedom Force!"

"Imposters!"

Great, thought Minotaur. We're in here because of imposter Freedom Force members, and they're accusing us of being the imposters. We're not even trying to pretend to be the other members.

He could spot no particular demagogue inciting them.

"Give me voice to the outside, Fortress."

"The PA system is activated."

"Ladies, gentlemen." They paused--not really silent, but waiting. "We are trying to get Freedom Force back as quickly as we can. Please return to your homes and places of business."

From the crowd: "He sounds like a stormtrooper!"

"Yeah!"

"Stormtroopers are bad!"

Minotaur made a throat-cutting gesture while he watched. The Fortress had a wrought-iron fence surrounding it, and the protesters would have to climb the fence or break down the gates before they got to the doors. They could do that, but he hoped it wouldn't

"Can you detect anyone in particular egging them on, Fortress?"

"One individual across the street seems unwilling to be identified." The camera view shifted, zoomed in on a trench-coated man with a big sagging hat that hid his face. "Said individual is outside the range of the X-ray scanners."

"What--? Zoom in on his feet. Is that a tail?" As if sensing their interest, the pink tail lifted inside the trench coat.

* * *

Ariadne Webb walked the last block to the Freedom Fortress, her great-aunt keeping pace beside her. The old woman had a voice like gravel. Ariadne loved her.

"You'll do fine."

"Uh-huh."

"Remember what I taught you."

"I will."

"Minotaur's probably the most straightforward. One at a time if you have the choice."

"Right."

"And if they catch you--they probably will--try to escape. That'll get their respect. Use the mask trick if you can."

"I've got it."

"Once you've fought them, they'll ask you to join them. Benny and I'll be out here."

"Benny?"

"Across the street. Mutant with control over rats. We fought a lot in the sixties, but he retired to be an animal wrangler for television commercials. --Don't wave."

Ariadne stopped her hand halfway up. "Right."

"Good time to go in. They're distracted by the crowd."

Ariadne swallowed. This was the real thing. "Right."

"Your parents would be proud."

"Thanks." She strode to the fence, willing her costume to assemble under her coat. In just a moment--

"This is Amy Feng, Action 3 news. We're at the Freedom Fortress, where an unruly crowd is protesting the occupation of the Fortress by Minotaur and Enterprise. Young woman, do you think Freedom Force is dead?"
Ariadne stopped, aware of the cameraman.

"Go on," said Amy Feng.

"Well...I think that no matter how long people are gone, we should never give up hope. I think that people can always show up. Even if they're believed dead and even if--especially if--there are no bodies. They're not dead! They're just gone for a while, even if we miss them and want them back. And they will come back. They will!"

Amy Feng said to the camera, "There you have it. One girl's beacon of hope."

"Got it!" said Bob.

Amy Feng looked at Ariadne. "Riiiiight." She nodded her head to Bob and they moved on. "Let's get shots of them scaling the gates!"

Ariadne finished assembling her costume. She dropped her trenchcoat and hopped over the fence as the Silk Slipknot.

* * *

"It looks like they're going to breach the fence, Fortress. What are the defense options?"

"Options: Proton suppression beams; zeta blasters; lasers; sappers."

"Let's try sappers; that sounds non-lethal."

"Initiated."

Silk Slipknot felt her legs turn to jelly. The others felt it too, but they gave up, falling to the ground, too weak to move. She ran as quickly as she could, feeling kitten-weak, until she had to lean against the double sliding doors at the front of the Fortress.

She extruded a thread, and another, and another, slipping them between the doors. The threads doubled on one another, and quadrupled, and bunched thicker until there was enough room for her to squeeze through, to fall onto the marble floor of the foyer--

--and the jelly feeling in her muscles faded.

She lay there for a moment, then remembered to dismiss the threads that held open the door. Didn't want any innocents getting in while she fought the Freedom Force.

She looked around. Nice headquarters. She had studied the floorplans of course--Great-Aunt had insisted--but there was no one at the security desk now. She got to her feet, already feeling much steadier.

"What the hell?" It was a man's voice, basso profundo. She looked up at the mezzanine. There stood Minotaur. She launched a thread that carried her up to the mezzanine.

"I'm Silk Slipknot. I'm here to help you!"

And BAM she hit him with a tangled knot of superhard thread.

He blocked it aside and said, "Stop! Or I'll have to fight you." Threads wrapped around his thighs, chest, and arms.

"That's what I want, silly," she said.

She didn't look more than sixteen to Minotaur. He shrugged them off and yanked a handful of thread, pulling her forward into his fist. She managed to dodge in time.

Threads circled her in a tangled skein, absorbing his punches whenever he connected. "See?" she said. "I'm as tough as you are."

He frowned. "I can't believe that."

"Believe it," she said.

Still pulling his punches, he grabbed a fistful of threads and slammed her against a wall. The same threads cushioned her.

"Go on home, kid. I don't want to beat you up."

"I don't want you to beat me up, either," she said, and she tossed him across over the mezzanine railing using tendrils of thread.

He lay there for a moment, so she swung down. "See? I'm not such a kid after all--"

--Which was when his fist connected solidly with her head.

Minotaur stood over her unconscious body. "Yes, you are. Kid." He carried her to the infirmary.

* * *

"I don't know who she is. I didn't look under the mask."

"She is years too young to be the original Silk Slipknot."

Silk Slipknot was sure it was Patrick Stewart speaking, and then from beneath her lashes she saw the Enterprise floating in mid-air.

"Of course she is."

The restraints were made out of some kind of plastic, but there was a chair nearby with a cloth seat. She thought at it, and the seatcover started to unravel. One thread snaked through the air towards the controls held her in place.

"Of course I am," she said, to keep them looking her way instead of at the thread moving through the air.

They turned and looked at her--well, Minotaur turned and looked at her. Enterprise did not change position.

"Why did you attack me?"

"To prove I was good enough to join your team."

"Why didn't you fill out an application form?"

"Then you wouldn't have known how good I was."

"You're not that good."

The Fortress spoke. "The external issue is resolved."

Enterprise said, "Give us visual."

The wall displayed a view of the front walk. It was almost empty, except for an old woman standing there, and the same figure across the street.

"How did that happen?" asked Minotaur. "Fortress, show us the last few minutes."

They watched as the old woman simply glowered at the unruly mob, spoke sharply at them, and sent them home.

"That's one scary old broad," said Minotaur. "Who is she?"

"Assuming she was formerly some form of superhuman, X-ray analysis of her bone structure and correlations with her apparent age suggest three possible identities: One of the Ice Queens, Olga Nashmarov Smith, formerly associated with Nuclear Winter; Salamander Slate, last known to be active in the 1960s, or the original Silk Slipknot."

"It's the original Silk Slipknot. My great-aunt." She smiled. "She knows everything about heroes. She told me to come here and fight you."

"I'm going to talk to her," said Minotaur, and he left the room.

Once he was gone, a light flashed on the Enterprise, and Silk Slipknot was released, just before she could free herself. "We will assume you have some connection and hold you on your own recognizance."

"I could have freed myself."

"Perhaps."

* * *

There was a cold breeze as Minotaur left the Fortress. The old woman came right up to him. "So? How'd she do?"

"How did she do?"

"Did she fight well? She has a tendency to hold on to the threads too long."

"You told her to come in and fight us?!"

"Of course I did. Someone can have all the training in the world and lose it when they're actually in battle!"

"You better come inside." He looked up at the sky. It was suddenly leaden with clouds. It had been bright and sunny--and warm!--less than an hour ago. As they walked through the foyer, he said, "Fortress, what's the outside temperature?"

"Sixty-two degrees Fahrenheit. Sixty-one degrees Fahrenheit. Sixty degrees Fahrenheit."

"That doesn't sound good," said the old woman.

"Notify Enterprise. We're on our way."

* * *

By the time they arrived in the infirmary, the external temperature was below freezing. "Fortress, is there a source for this temperature change?"

"Based on satellite data, the epicenter of the phenomenon is Patriot Park."

The old lady sucked in her breath.

"Yes?" asked Minotaur.

Instead, the woman looked at Silk Slipknot.

The girl said, "Patriot Park is where the original Freedom Force met with the Ice Queens during Nuclear Winter's plan to hold the city hostage."

The old woman smiled. "Good girl."

"He had a winter machine hidden in the boathouse."

"The Ice Queens," said Enterprise. "Fortress, tell us of the Ice Queens."

"Source of powers unknown, though obviously connected with Nuclear Winter, Alexander Sukhov. There were five, three of whom were named Olga as first or middle names. The Ice Queens were collectively known as the Olgas."

"Where are they now?"

"Two are dead, one from cancer and the other from ASDS. Of the other three, Olga Ogaryov married American millionaire John Smith, becoming Olga Ogaryov Smith; Natalya Olga Rogozin had a career as a supervillain; and Anna Voloshin became involved in smuggling and organized crime."

"Nuclear Winter had a career as a supervillain. With the collapse of the Russian empire in the 1980s, he went through a personal depression and found Jesus. He became a successful motivational lecturer. In 1992, he retired to Alaska. The latest reports had him ill with either ASDS or cancer."

"As though there's a difference," said Silk Slipknot.

"It has to be deliberate," said Minotaur. "Someone is re-enacting that early encounter."

"Madame, you may return home."

Minotaur said, "I don't think so. I think she's safer here, Enterprise."

"I'm sure she wants to stay," said Silk Slipknot.

"Of course I'll stay."

"It will be safer if you go."

"Think about it," said Minotaur. "It's icy outside. She slips and hurts herself--with that crowd out there? That's a public relations problem."

"She would be safer at home."

"And here the Fortress can monitor her."

Enterprise was silent for a long moment. "Agreed. Silk Slipknot, you will accompany us on a probationary basis."

* * *

Held by the tractor beams, Silk Slipknot tried to get comfortable. "So," she said to Minotaur, "were you born with powers or was it triggered by something traumatic? For me it was puberty."

Minotaur looked at her soberly. "Trauma. I was joking around in the faculty club about being a strongman in tights and then I went back to my office and found out I wasn't getting tenure."

She stared at him, not sure if he was serious.

"For an academic, that's traumatic," said Minotaur dryly.

"We have arrived," said Enterprise.

The park occupied a city block, and the ground and trees were covered with snow, fine as icing sugar. The pond was frozen, with a canoe stuck in the murky ice. Drifts had already started forming at the edge of the ice and on the grass. There were a few mounds of ice scattered here and there, taller than a man.

"Interesting," said Enterprise. "Items have been shielded against sensors, including the fountain, those two statues, and the boathouse itself." One statue was of a historical minuteman; the other was of the original hero Minuteman.

"You ever meet him?" asked Silk Slipknot.

"Yeah. He came to my school when I was a kid."

"There are twelve obvious hostiles in groups of three," said the Enterprise. "Our mobility is compromised. I'm setting you down by the boathouse."

There were three of them there, dressed in gray uniforms and wearing goggles and garrison hats. Minotaur was sure he saw dust on one of the uniforms--but it might have been snow. They had fancy high-tech rifles and belts with a few grenades on them.

"Frost Warriors," breathed Silk Slipknot. "But with SWAT-issue grenades. Watch out--the rifles can imprison you in ice."

"Dropping you. Shields up."

All three of them fired at the Enterprise, whose shields came up just in time. "Negative, Silk Slipknot--those beams are lethal."

"Uh-oh." A thrill ran through her. Really dangerous stuff. Not like the training fights her Great-Aunt had set up with retired supervillains. "I guess it's time to get this wrapped up." She gestured and threads sprang from her hand and wrapped around one of the Frost Warriors. He struggled and slipped free.

A bolt zipped by her cheek, leaving it tingling with cold. "Um. Threads up."

A cloud of threads surrounded her, ready to absorb any damage.

Enterprise took one out with phasers. Minotaur punched a second one and knocked him unconscious. Silk slipknot yanked the gun away from the third and tossed it aside--where it exploded, leaving a crater in the ice.

"Holy jeez," breathed the Frost Warrior.

"Who hired you?" asked Enterprise.

"Some dames named Olga. They came in and said they were hiring us for Sukhov."

"Alexander Sukhov?"

"I think so. They came to the bar we were in and promised us payment and dental insurance benefits. They gave us uniforms and spent a long time arguing about how everything had to be perfect."

"That's the way it is with supervillains," said Enterprise. "They promise you dental but they give you guns that blow up." Enterprise suddenly zoomed up and circled to where bystanders had gathered. "Stay back, citizens. This is a dangerous area."

Minotaur knocked out the Frost Warrior.

"Hey! I could have tied him up,"

"No time," said Minotaur, and Silk Slipknot realized that three more were running towards them. Minotaur leapt to one of them and landed on him; they went skidding yards along the ice.

Silk Slipknot cast threads around one, caught him, wrapping his rifle tightly to his body. A second cast and he was tightly wrapped. She saw him reach for the trigger--presumably to shoot his way out--and there was a gout of blood.

"NO!" she screamed.

"She squished him!" said one of the onlookers.

"Don't look, Timmy," said a mother.

"But I didn't--!" Silk Slipknot looked around wildly.

Minotaur took advantage of his opponent's shock to put him down. He ran this time to the third Warrior--and lost his footing on the ice, skidding past him.

"I won't squeeze him," said Silk Slipknot. Threads wrapped around the fountain, yanked it apart. Shards of ice exploded. "I will hit him, though--" as she swung the metal through the air.

Enterprise caught the Frost Warrior's blaster rifle in tractor beams and yanked it away, then darted to the hole where the fountain was.
"Interesting. The fountain appears to hide a tunnel entrance." The ship hovered near the mouth of the hole without entering line of sight of anyone hiding within.

"Watch out!" called Minotaur as the Frost Warrior tossed a grenade. He threw himself in front of it--

--and was blinded.

"What?" asked Silk Slipknot, who hadn't been looking when the grenade went off.

Silk Slipknot hit one Frost Warrior with the fountain, and then said, "To the boathouse!" Two more grenades fell and exploded with purple coruscations that had no apparent effect besides a mild tingling.

Three more Frost Warriors had arrived, and Minotaur swung at where he thought one was, but missed. He never saw the boulder coming to him.

(GM's note: They made their saving throws and never figured out the grenades were a Strength Drain.)

"Ice Queens!" shouted Silk Slipknot as she snared another Frost Warrior.

Three of them, old ladies squeezed into their fur-trimmed mauve outfits. Enterprise tossed the rifle at one, but it had no effect when it exploded.
"For Nuclear Winter!" cried one of the Ice Queens.

And a halo of light exploded from the boathouse and engulfed them all.
Minotaur blinked calmly as his vision returned. All of them but the Ice Queens stood placidly, unable to think or do anything, as the Ice Queens moved among them, methodically killing the remaining eleven Frost Warriors. Blood pooled and froze on the ice, and Minotaur might have grinned as one of the Ice Queens pressed a bloody gobbet of meat into his hands. "Here you go, darling. The original Minotaur ate flesh."

"Done?" asked one.

"Da." They jumped down the tunnel.

Some time later, they shook free of it. Silk Slipknot stared aghast at the carnage. "Those...those..." She lacked the words. "They work for Nuclear Winter."

"We'll catch them later," said Enterprise. "Now we deal with Nuclear Winter." Phasers carved a hole in the side of the boathouse, and they entered the gloom. Everything was rimed with frost. Seated in a massive chair in the boathouse was Nuclear Winter, almost unrecognizable from tumors and growths. Dark folds in his skin glittered with radiation. Silk Slipknot had never seen ASDS up close before.

"This is the end game," said Nuclear Winter. "It is time for this capitalist farce to be done."

"Actually," said the Enterprise, "the state is supposed to wither away."

Silk Slipknot didn't bother with words: she battered him with threads.
(GM's Note: Spending a hero point for Energy Blast.)

Nuclear Winter grabbed her threads and yanked, pulling her towards him until she ran into his fist. The radiation from his skin spiked into her and she cried out.

Enterprise shot next, and Winter shrugged it off. Minotaur punched him once, twice, three times, until his hands were bleeding.

"He's surrounded by some kind of damage field," cried Silk Slipknot. Don't use your bare hands!"

Then Winter backhanded Minotaur out onto the lake. He hadn't even stood up yet.

"Maybe water," thought Slipknot, and she broke off the water faucet--but the water was already frozen in the pipes. If she could draw him out--

"My great-Aunt punches better than you," said Silk Slipknot. "What's the matter? Feeling tired? Maybe it's because you've been beaten every time you've gone against capitalist heroes."

Winter stood up and cracked his massive knuckles. "Insolent pup," he growled.

Enterprise spotted gas tanks used to fuel lawn mowers and other maintenance equipment. "Fire--use fire!" With tractor beams, it smashed the can against Winter. Gasoline leaked everywhere.

Minotaur grabbed the Minuteman statue and broke it off; he could hit Winter with that.

Enterprise's phasers set fire to wood of the boathouse; flames shot up and Enterprise used tractor beams to hit Winter with burning wood. He seemed to feel it--

And Minotaur arrived with the statue. "I've got him!" He hit Winter with the statue--and Winter didn't even move. "Again!"

"Keep him busy!" said Enterprise.

Silk Slipknot stepped back, using her threads to hold herself up to look over the boathouse. More fire. She needed more fire. Along the side of the road were cars--a Lada, another Lada, an 18-wheeler, and a Yugo. She grabbed the Yugo with her threads smashed it against Nuclear Winter.

Enterprise lit the gasoline--

KA-BOOOOOM!

When they picked themselves up from the ice, they looked around. Nuclear Winter was dead. There were a dozen messily dismembered corpses on the ice. The boathouse was smoking ruins.

They heard: "This is Amy Feng with Action Three news here at the sight of the carnage..."

The heroes dove down the tunnel under the fountain, looking for the Ice Queens.

Soon: writeups for the aged Ice Queens, low-rent Frost Warriors, and the deadly and deadly-ill Nuclear Winter, coming to Roll Call.
Last edited by kipling on Wed Jul 28, 2004 9:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Ronin » Wed Jul 28, 2004 8:47 am

Well, it looks like things have gotten deadly. Explaining a dozen corpses or so is going to be difficult...
"That was back when comic book worlds were places you wanted to escape to... not from." - Squirrel Girl

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Postby Kit » Sun Aug 15, 2004 3:16 am

Sounds like a great game.
I love Silk slipknot and her aunt.
Enterprise reminds me of one of my most beloved comic characters-Skeets from the pages of Booster Gold.
You must be proud, bold, pleasant, resolute,
And now and then stab, as occasion serves.

--Christopher Marlowe, Edward II, Act II, Scene I

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An Iron Cage, Underground

Postby kipling » Fri Aug 20, 2004 12:16 pm

Chapter 5: An Iron Cage, Underground

The Escapist arrived in time to see what the other heroes did not: the Ice Queens had taken a hostage down with them. Unwilling to tangle with them directly, he watched, and after the heroes had dived into the hole under the fountain, he approached carefully. He had brought a Geiger counter, based on a presentiment of one of his associates, and as emergency crews pulled up, he checked for radiation.

"Amy Feng, Action 3 News, here at the sight of incredible carnage, of at least a dozen people dead, children weeping, citizens shocked. Fire crews are about to hose down the old boathouse and police will cordon off Washington Park. The blood has frozen to the ice, I don't know if you can see that, but the crews are going to need to hurry before the ice melts and the bodies sink into the pond--"

The Escapist signaled an emergency worker. "You're going to need special equipment, because that building is radioactive. So are its...contents."

"Thanks, man."

He moved carefully over the bank of the pond, avoiding the scene of the fight, to the tunnel entrance.

"Action 3 news is following you down the tunnel, Escapist, because we go where the action is!"

He stopped and looked at her. "Do you have a good wig?"

"What?"

"Radiation poisoning has terrible effects on hair."

"Well--"

He looked deliberately at her chest. "And it tends to affect the fatty tissue."

Her cameraman, Bob, said, "How is it on saline?"

The Escapist stepped into the tunnel. Dimly, he heard, "We need to get radiation suits.

Inside, Escapist saw a long stairwell leading down, and decorated by signs saying "Watch your step," "Management is not responsible for any injuries" and "Remember the waiver you signed." He descended for a long time--perhaps a mile of stairs--when he heard an explosion in the distance. He crept forward more carefully.

* * *

Minotaur squinted at the giant glowing mushroom. "Orange ones explode, got that. But I think that one's brighter now."

"Perhaps it absorbs energy." The Enterprise fired phasers into the mushroom, and it grew brighter.

"Fascinating," said the Enterprise. "The mushrooms sound and radiation to create light. They may absorb other kinds of energy as well."

"We should warn anyone else who comes this way."

"I can do that," said Silk Slipknot brightly. She created threads to read "Beware Orange Mushrooms".

"I knew you could," muttered Minotaur. "Hey, didn't the original Silk Slipknot do some dodgy sex stuff in the late sixties."

"I'm sure she didn't."

"Enough of this sex stuff," said Enterprise. "In the future, we've cured the kissing stuff, that's the boring stuff," he added.

Silk Slipknot looked at the Enterprise as it dashed down the passageway. "What's with it?" she asked Minotaur.

"Well," Minotaur said, "I don't know, but certainly sometimes it doesn't sound like Patrick Stewart."

They followed the twists and turns of the passageways; at forks, Enterprise checked for the paths of the Olgas. After another mile, they came to a huge open passageway full of stone and brick buildings in the style of the 1700s.

"The original city," breathed Silk Slipknot. "I mean, I knew it was under here--"

"What?"

"There was an original city that partially burned and later collapsed into sinkholes or caverns or something. The survivors rebuilt overtop. My great-aunt told me. Most of the entrances were sealed up, but some villains have hidden here for years. There were plans to open it as a tourist attraction back in the eighties, but-- Watch out for giant ants."

"I'm scanning the area," announced the Enterprise. "A number of inhabitants, humanoid, probably human from the arrangement of internal organs. They're hiding."

"If they've seen the Olgas, no wonder they're hiding."

"And if they saw that." Enterprise hovered over a corpse: a blue-robed figure savagely dismembered. Boot prints left in blood marked the ground.

Minotaur muttered something that sounded like an obscenity.

"A cage!" said the Silk Slipknot. "There!"

"A dozen of them," said Enterprise. The cages were scattered around the cavern.

The big iron cage Silk Slipknot could see held a pair of very old people, emaciated and dressed in costumes. They could barely lift their heads to look at the heroes. Minotaur bounded forward to the cage, but Enterprise was there first, phasers melting the lock.

"Are there any missing elderly superheroes?" asked Minotaur.

Enterprise said, "A scan of records indicates a number of superheroes have not been seen of late but none are elderly."

Five blue-robed figure congealed from the shadows and approached them. One sparked like ball lightning, stunning Minotaur. Another struck him with a simple iron staff, and suddenly Minotaur looked older--and weaker.

One touched Enterprise with its staff, and the ship felt less agile, less capable; it fled to the roof, out of range.

Silk Slipknot swung up to the roof of the cavern and spotted another dark-robed figure; she half-entangled it in thread.

Escapist crept up to another cage and started to disable the mechanism. It was complex--but not impossible. Some kind of energy-draining mechanism tied into the bars and floor of the cage.

With a wild swing, Minotaur knocked one of the dark men out, but one of the other three hit him and weakened him further.

The Escapist reached in and dragged out a victim--a priest, by his robe.

Silk Slipknot missed with her next shot. "Breathe," she told herself. "Remember to breathe and focus--"

From above, Enterprise took out another with phasers. They fell swiftly enough--and then Enterprise had a malfunction in targeting systems.

(Ed. Note: Well, really, the player rolled an astonishing sequence of low rolls.)

Minotaur managed to knock out another one, but one of the remaining two touched him again. He looked ancient, and only the last vestige of his super strength kept him moving.

Just after dragging out the second prisoner, The Escapist heard a slight sound and realized there were darken behind him. He dodged, vaulting over to where Minotaur was. Minotaur hit the second-last of the two robed guardians, and got tagged once more. He fell to the ground, conscious but too weak to move.

Silk Slipknot saw him fall. With a thread, she snagged him and pulled him up. "I hope you're still tough," she murmured as she swung Minotaur into the robed figure she had partially snared. Minotaur's hurtling body knocked that one out.

The Escapist looked at the remaining dark figure and prepared to dodge away.

Minotaur, his strength already returning, grabbed an orange mushroom and threw it down, hurting the dark man; Enterprise finished the job by knocking him out.

"What now?" asked Minotaur as he sat on the roof, flexing a biceps. The power flowed back into it.

"We free the prisoners," said the Escapist. He looked at the Silk Slipknot. "Oh, right. The Escapist, Silk Slipknot. Don't fight him."

She looked scornful. "My great-aunt explained that. You only fight if nobody knows the other group. You guys know him."

"Aren't you a little young for this, miss?" asked The Escapist.

"I'm nineteen."

"She's probationary," explained Minotaur.

Enterprise returned from zipping around the cavern. "The remaining guardians were unwilling to negotiate terms, so I have rendered them unconscious."

"Oh, right. It's that easy," said Minotaur as he stood.

"Once the parameters of their abilities were known."

All of the elderly heroes were freed and brought together. Minotaur looked at the semiconscious elderly priest. "Not Father Sparks. And he's not getting any younger."

"Perhaps long exposure has a worse effect?" said Minotaur. "We don't know how long they were in those cages."

"What are we going to do with them?" asked Silk Slipknot. "The Ice Queens are gone by now."

"And their hostage," said the Escapist.

"They had a hostage?"

"I thought you knew. Bicycle courier who was going by the park."

"Damn," said Minotaur. "We can't risk them hurting themselves and we have to go on. Is there some way we can protect them in case the dark guys wake up?"

Enterprise ferried them back to the bottom of the first stairwell, and Silk Slipknot spun a huge cocoon to protect them. "Not imprisoned," she said, to mollify The Escapist. "The rescue workers will be able to get them out, and they can get out themselves."

When Enterprise and Silk Slipknot returned, they found The Escapist talking to one of the dark men.

"Who do you work for?"

In a rasping voice, the disfigured man said, "We work for the Iron Chain."

The Escapist knocked him out with a swift blow to the head. "The Iron Chain!" He stood up, resolute. "The Ice Queens still have their hostage."

They followed the path through more chambers to a pair of large stone doors, two dozen feet high.

"Enterprise?" said Minotaur.

"Scanners show rubble behind them. Wait...there looks to be a path."

Minotaur hauled the doors open and debris rumbled down onto the hasty shield erected by Silk Slipknot. When it was over, they picked their way through the hidden path to a small chamber that contained a dais before a free-standing mirror set in black wood.

"What is it?"

"It resembles an altar. Behind it is the path that leads out."

"Was it used?"

"I am unable to tell. The rubble has shifted since we opened the doors."

"Maybe the altar is some kind of dimensional gate," suggested Silk Slipknot.

They experimented for a moment, but couldn't trigger it.

"Perhaps the mirror is needed to activate it. Strange," said the Enterprise. "The writing is unknown."

Silk Slipknot bent to look closely at it, then brought out a small flashlight and looked more closely. "It's ancient Atlantean."

"And how would you know that?" asked The Escapist.

"My great-aunt had me stay with Gill-Man of the Sentinels of Liberty for a while. He had a lot of Atlantean stuff."

"Can you read it?"

"No."

"Then we need to experiment. Silk Slipknot, throw a thread at it."

The small thread bounced off, but a second thread came out of the mirror. The new thread was animated, and began to crawl, wormlike, toward Silk Slipknot. She concentrated on destroying her threads and for the first time realized how debilitating it was to get rid of them.

Have to practice that, she thought.

The Enterprise destroyed the thread.

Silk Slipknot made a small crocheted figure of a human being.

"You can crochet, too?" asked The Escapist.

"My childhood wasn't all beating people up. My mom taught me to crochet."

She threw the doll against the mirror, and it fell to the ground.

A duplicate crawled from the face of the mirror and began to tear at the original doll.

"Evil thread," breathed Silk Slipknot. "I never would have thought it."

"At a microscopic level, it exhibited the same changes as the members of the Freedom Force."

"So that's what happened to them!"

"That is how the evil duplicates were created--but does not answer where the originals have gone."

"This is all very interesting," said The Escapist, "but the Olgas are getting away."

"I'll put a bag over it," said Silk Slipknot, and in a moment she had woven a quick back and tossed it over the mirror.

The bag began to writhe.

"Did you let it touch the mirror surface?" asked Minotaur.

"I guess."

Enterprise again destroyed both bags.

"We have to go," said The Escapist.

"We cannot leave it like this. It's too dangerous." Enterprise scribed a warning into the rock with its phasers.

They came to a large open chamber with multiple exits. "At this point, sensors can only identify exits which have recently had traffic and not specifically the Ice Queens. There are three. This one seems to offer the most immediate path up to the surface."

"Then we try it and at least we'll have our bearings," said Minotaur.

It ended at a metal door. The Escapist disabled the alarm and the lock, and they opened it.

It was a back room of a shop--probably a coin shop, based on the materials on the counter--and they blinked in the brightness coming through the hall from the front. An old man sat hunched over a binocular microscope, looking at a coin.

The Enterprise quickly scanned the shop; Two customers and a clerk in the front; a panic room of some sort in the next room over, up a small flight of stairs.

"I told you not to come in here!" he said, then saw it wasn't who he expected. "Oh, you're not the blue-robed fellas."

"You know about them?" asked Minotaur as they stepped into the workroom.

"Sure. You just leave them some food and they're harmless."

"Oh."

The Escapist spotted something odd about the man--his signet ring. He looked more closely. It had the familiar triple-link symbol of the Iron Chain.

He sprang forward and hit the old man in the jaw, then again, and again, before the Silk Slipknot had thoroughly tangled him in thread. The old man ran away, to the panic room. Enterprise zipped after him, getting into the room before the door locked.

The Escapist raged: "He's with the Iron Chain!"

"What is the Iron Chain?" asked Minotaur.

"They're Nazis--worse, they're the guys who ran the Nazis!"

"He's an old man!" protested Silk Slipknot.

The old man spotted the Enterprise and started to sob. "You have to go, you're not good. I've failed."

"Why don't you call for help?" asked the Enterprise, reasonably.

"I will, I will." He hit a big red button. "Oh, I've failed, I've failed."

Blast doors slid down, trapping them in the building. The Escapist struggled to free himself as a malicious chuckle came over a PA system.

In the panic room, the old man huddled on the floor, in tears.

"Escapist," said the voice. "What an unexpected pleasure to have you here at last."

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Postby Kit » Sun Aug 22, 2004 4:05 am

very cool stuff. love it.
You must be proud, bold, pleasant, resolute,

And now and then stab, as occasion serves.



--Christopher Marlowe, Edward II, Act II, Scene I

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Postby Kit » Fri Oct 15, 2004 6:16 pm

hows this game going?
You must be proud, bold, pleasant, resolute,

And now and then stab, as occasion serves.



--Christopher Marlowe, Edward II, Act II, Scene I

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Postby kipling » Fri Oct 22, 2004 11:00 am

I had a plot arc going, and it kept being deferred while people couldn't attend. So instead of going straight to the SuperVillain Auction, we digressed with the Evil Overlord, and then the Electrical Monster and then.. Well, you get the idea. Then I couldn't attend for a while because of work. So we're trying to restart. I've got Crooks now so some of those characters should also show up as villains.

The next session in sequence is mostly combat and I'm finding it quite hard to write, actually, though there is one thing in it at the end that has profound effects for the the city.

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Postby Kit » Fri Oct 22, 2004 12:06 pm

kipling wrote:I had a plot arc going, and it kept being deferred while people couldn't attend. So instead of going straight to the SuperVillain Auction, we digressed with the Evil Overlord, and then the Electrical Monster and then.. Well, you get the idea. Then I couldn't attend for a while because of work. So we're trying to restart. I've got Crooks now so some of those characters should also show up as villains.

The next session in sequence is mostly combat and I'm finding it quite hard to write, actually, though there is one thing in it at the end that has profound effects for the the city.


be interested in hearing about it.
Do you have FoF as well?
You must be proud, bold, pleasant, resolute,

And now and then stab, as occasion serves.



--Christopher Marlowe, Edward II, Act II, Scene I


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