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  #1  
Unread 28th of January, 2008, 13:54
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Issue Two - The Pool of Tears

Man I love this place… Mark thinks as he twirls his black lacquered baton. Black hard heeled shoes click neatly on the imported Spanish tiles as he absently strolls through the back hallways of the Armonia resort. He stops in front of a mahogany door with hand crafted brass fittings and gives the handle a jiggle.

Locked.

That’s a relief, the security guard thinks. No one has broken into ‘Janitor Supplies A103’. He continues down the hall toward the next door, his mind still mulling over what it was that he loved most about the Armonia. They pay him well enough, that’s for sure. Twenty one dollars an hour to jiggle door handles part-time. He smiles to himself as he stops in front of the next door and checks it.

Locked.

And there is certainly a bounty of hot snow bunnies to ogle. Bored starlets and pampered CEO trophy wives looking for some idle sex. His smile grows wider as he remembers last week’s hot tub extravaganza. Twins…he chuckles softly to himself as he pushes on the next handle.

Not locked.

Aaah crap. Mark’s smile fades as the door swings partially open. Still fuming he reaches around and fumbles for the light switch. He flicks it up, but the plastic switch breaks off at his touch.

“Damnit…” he groans as he slips the baton into the ring holder on his belt. Wiping the granules of almond colored plastic from his hand, he peers into the dark room.

“Uh…excuse me…” a voice comes from behind him.
“Whoa!” he spins, facing a young woman in a pink snowsuit.
“Sorry! I didn’t mean to scare you,” the woman smiles as she tucks a few unruly strands of her sandy-brown hair behind her ear.

Make that a hot woman, in a tight, partially unzipped pink snowsuit. Mark can’t help but stare at her ample cleavage.

“Uh…you didn’t…” he stammers as he struggles to pull his eyes off her body, “I mean…you’re um…not supposed to be back here,” he adds trying to sound tough.
“I’m lost,” she takes a step closer “I was hoping you could help me?” The snow bunny smiles, her blue eyes flashing coyly.
“Uh…”
“Please?” White teeth crease her full, red lower lip as she moves even closer. She lifts her hand and places it on his chest. He can feel her heat through his shirt. Her eybrow raises provocatively, as she brushes against him.

Man I LOVE this place...

With a sly glance down the hall she pushes him back into the darkened room.

And into The Shadow.

With practiced ease the martial artist delivers a powerful chop to the base of the security guard’s skull, rendering him instantly unconscious.

Last edited by -J-; 11th of February, 2008 at 07:32.
  #2  
Unread 8th of February, 2008, 10:42
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"Nice!" Hardball exclaims in a loud whisper and gives the Shadow an approving nod over his shoulder as he searches for... what exactly? A secret lever? A trap door? Was this even the right room? "Go ahead and drag him into the corner. See if he's got any keys or pass cards or anything like that while you're at it." The team is spread across what apears to be a large maintenance room, complete with cleaning supplies, exposed pipes, and a boiler. It's awfully clean for a maintenance room, though. It was the one room most places let slide on the housekeeping. There should be dust or something. Maybe P was right...

Hardball notices the tentative look on Starfire's face as she watches Colin drag the unconscious guard. Second thoughts? "That was nice work." He flashes her a reassuring smile. "Why don't you hang out in the doorway there and be our lookout. If anyone is coming, just play the lost snow bunny again and give us a repeat performance."

Colin drags the unconcious guard to the back of the room and lays him down gently behind a rack of cleaning supplies. At Hardball's direction he reaches down to start searching the guard for anything useful. He quickly jerks his hands back as Paul, in a blur of motion nearly too fast for the human eye to follow, effortlesly rifles through the guards belongings and relieves him of some small items. Colin can only stare in wonder as Paul once again zips away.

Looking over the boiler a large tank with a myriad of pipes sprouting off in almost every direction Nick takes note of all its levers and valves. “This thing is as clean as the day it rolled of the line it’s probably never been used” He says in a whisper. “Any of these handles or levers could be used to operate a hidden door” He continues as he begins examining each one in turn. Then a weld catches Nick’s eye a weld not quite like the rest. This particular weld connects a pipe with a valve in it to the boiler. “Hey, I think I found something.” Nick calls out in a slightly louder but hushed voice. “Check it out. This pipe and valve were added to this boiler.”

Colin silently strides over to the boiler and begins to scrutinize the large peice a machinery. "This does look a bit odd..."

"See if it'll move," Hardball says.

Jack flexes his fingers, watching the others as the move about the chamber with purpose. Somewhere, beyond one of these walls, there were people being tortured. People they had come to rescue. He cracks his neck and rolls his shoulders, trying to get used to the unfamiliar body armor. He seeks a calm place in his mind to center himself and gather his ki as Colin and Nick consider trying the lever in front of them. He suddenly has the image of Nick pulling the lever and the whole chamber collapsing on them. Except this wasn't a James Bond movie and it sure as hell wasn't Octopussy waiting for them on the other side. He suppresses a fleeting urge to chuckle at the thought. Nervous energy, pre-game jitters or whatever. How did I end up here, surrounded by super heroes?

“Here goes nothing” Nick whispers as he grabs the handle and begins to slowly turn it.

E&L&P&G&D&JD

Last edited by -J-; 8th of February, 2008 at 10:44.
  #3  
Unread 11th of February, 2008, 07:50
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Paul stands in front of the large shelf of plastic wrapped bulk cleaning supplies staring intently at the beetle shaped object in his hand. It has four arrow shaped pieces of turquoise on its back, and right now only one of them is lit: the one pointing at the wall in front of him.

The speedster moves the device back and forth, noting that the arrows still continued to point at the wall ahead.

“Here goes nothing.” The words crawl slowly to Paul’s ear. Glancing back, he watches as Nick slowly turns the lever. Paul can feel his body vibrate in anticipation.

Still turning….

With a sigh Paul goes through the guard’s equipment, for the 17th time.

1 Nickel-plated key ring with 15 room keys, 2 elevator keys, and 1 electric golf cart key on a spring wound string.

1 Samsung model 9000 walkie talkie, 15 channels, encoded transmission, and a volume dial now set to mute.

1 gas propelled, 50,000 volt M26 Taser, with laser scope

Still turning….

1 18g canister of Pepper spray

1 photo ID with laser bar code and magnetic strip.

The wall behind him clicks.

Moving closer to the wall he closes his eyes and concentrates, mentally checking off all of the sounds in the room until the only thing left is a faint hum coming from one of the shelf’s vertical supports. In a flesh colored blur he runs his hand along its surface, his fingers finding every slight crease and meticulously ground weld mark until finally alighting on a concealed button on the very top.
  #4  
Unread 28th of February, 2008, 11:31
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"HeyguysIthinkIfoundit," the words come as a burst of modulated sound.

Paul presses the button.

In a whir of electric motors, a door shaped section of the wall next to the shelf slides smoothly into the floor. Recessed fluorescent lighting springs to life, revealing a granite-tiled stairway leading downward. Paul’s phone is in his hand, his eyes carefully studying the choppy picture on its tiny LCD display. The cell phone’s tiny camera easily picks up the neat rows of glowing infrared emitters along the ceiling.

They were too close together to squeeze by.
  #5  
Unread 4th of March, 2008, 12:15
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"Nice work, man." Hardball starts for the staircase. "Let's go."
  #6  
Unread 5th of March, 2008, 02:10
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"Wait!There'sinfraredemittersallalongtheceiling!Th ey'retooclosetogetby." Paul quickly interposes himself between the metal man and the staircase.
  #7  
Unread 5th of March, 2008, 04:38
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"Huh?" Hardball pauses as he takes in Pauls message and plays it again in his mind, breaking it down into individual words. "Oh. Good eye. How do we get past it or shut it down?"
  #8  
Unread 6th of March, 2008, 13:41
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Colin looks over Pau's shoulder at the stairwell, the barely audible whine of the flourescent bulbs rising up from the starkly lit descent.

Damn, if only I could still teleport I could get past the beams and look for the control panel. Or maybe, there's a hidden panel up here. Makes sense, otherwise how would a guard be able to get down there without tripping the alarm?

Colin begins to systematicaly search the area around the door, hoping to find... something.

"Hey Paul", he says over his shoulder, "did you find anything useful on that guard that could help us? A remote control for the security system would be great right about now."
  #9  
Unread 28th of March, 2008, 04:34
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Breathe.

"No, nothing on him but standard keys, id badge and non-lethal defenses. If this is Her escape hatch, they may not use this regularly."

He pauses for a microsec.

"Let's look over the plans and take out the power. They'll know we're here, but it might be harder to find where."
  #10  
Unread 30th of March, 2008, 03:34
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Polnoch's blueprints are detailed, and with little effort the main power junction is located - behind four feet of hardened and reinforced concrete.
  #11  
Unread 2nd of April, 2008, 03:07
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Jack steps up and looks over the blueprints with the others, hoping to find a wall he could punch through and circumvent the sensors. Nothing looks viable without destroying a lot of structural cement, something that doesn't seem wise to do. He gives a short nod at Paul's suggestion.

"Short of taking our chances and just walking though, I don't think we have much choice. We'll have to move quick once the power is out, so we better know what we're doing before then . . . "

He trails off, looking at the boiler again.

"Say, Paul, how did you find the catch to open the door? Because nothing happened when Nick turned that handle."

Actually, that wasn't true. Something must have happened, it just wasn't obvious. Jack walks back over to the boiler and with only the briefest of hesitation, reaches out and moves the lever to its original position, eyes on the invisibly guarded passageway.

Last edited by Gralhruk; 2nd of April, 2008 at 03:10.
  #12  
Unread 2nd of April, 2008, 03:55
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"Taking out the power sounds good to me," says Hardball. He looks down at the map from behind everyone else. We got a likely candidate or what? We need to move fast, people, or we're going to miss our window."

Last edited by Hardball; 6th of April, 2008 at 04:47.
  #13  
Unread 7th of April, 2008, 02:39
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Watching Jack pull the lever again, Paul checks the IR array with his phone to note any correlation. With his right hand, he places the plans in Hardball's heavy gleaming hands and traces the blue-printed power line the Shadow had found leading down past the access route into the secret complex. Paul's head flickers back and forth from the phone to Jack to Hardball to the concrete wall where he now traces the most likely route of the power line.

Suddenly he stops amazed at what they're doing. He stares at Hardball admiringly and says slowly and distinctly, "How long would it take you to punch through several feet of concrete?"
  #14  
Unread 7th of April, 2008, 05:53
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Jack twists the lever back into position, his eyes fixed on the open doorway.

Nothing.

Frustrated, he turns it back and forth a few more times. With a grunt, he gives it a final shimmy before casually wiping the layer of rust off his hand. Paul looks up from his cellphone screen and shakes his head.

Still on.

"How long would it take you to punch through several feet of concrete?" Paul asks slowly, but before the gleaming man can answer he hears a voice coming from down the passageway.

In a blur he raises his hand signaling silence. Flashlights click off, and nightvision goggles slide into place.

"......damnit Mark. I swear to Christ if you weren't the son of a senator your ass would be sooooo fired...." the clicking of hard heeled shoes grows louder. With an agitated scuff they come to a stop at the far end of the passage.

"Mark?" the question is punctuated by the click of the guard's flashlight turning on. Pale white light stabs down the hall.

"Mark?" the light waggs back and forth for a few seconds. "Goddamnit Mark, quit fucking around."

"MARK!"

Silence.

Paul can make out the faint beeps of a keypad code interspersed between a string of muttered obscenities.

"Mark you little cocksucker, if this is another of your shitbrained pranks I swear to Christ I'm going to taser the living hell out of you. Do you hear me Mark? MARK!"

Silence.

Velcro hisses as the M26 Taser clears its holster.

Slowly the guard starts moving down the hall.

Last edited by -J-; 8th of April, 2008 at 06:48.
  #15  
Unread 8th of April, 2008, 08:05
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Hardball signals for everyone to re-take their places for another guard ambush, and he motions for everyone to take off their night vision goggles.

Last edited by Hardball; 9th of April, 2008 at 13:15.
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Unread 8th of April, 2008, 13:58
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Nick crouches silently next to the boiler his hand reflexively grasping one of the copper pipes. Feeling the cold metal in his bare hand. His eyes glued to the door hopping that this encounter goes as well as the last.
  #17  
Unread 9th of April, 2008, 04:06
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Hardball watches as everyone takes their places. Good. They understood the signal. We really need to work out more stuff like this in advance, but for now everyone looks to be...

Crap.

Hardball notices the unconscious Mark laying in the corner next to the boiler and Paul still in the corner next to the secret door.

Last edited by Hardball; 9th of April, 2008 at 13:27.
  #18  
Unread 10th of April, 2008, 09:38
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Hardball sees Paul, eyes wide and trusting, as he readies the other guard's pilfered taser.

Hardball motions for Paul to stay put. He points to himself and then to the stairwell. He makes a surprised face and waves his hands in the air, then points to Paul and shoots an imaginary gun.

Man, I hope he understood that. We have got to get some better signals going.
  #19  
Unread 10th of April, 2008, 12:39
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The room was silent, but for the hum of electricity and the heavy footfalls of the guards hard heeled shoes. Colin was aware of of everything around him and the seconds stretched by at leisurely pace.

He saw the looks on his comrade's faces and he read uncertainty, fear, .... hesitation. He, himself, hesitated to act, the same uncertainty and fear gnawing away at his confidence and his resolve. The Shadow wouldn't be afraid, and he certainly wouldn't hesitate. But then, I'm not really the Shadow any more, am I? If I was I would embrace the darkness as it would embrace me....
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Unread 12th of April, 2008, 21:39
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The boiler blocks her view of the secret passageway, but Starfire has a clear view of Hardball. He does a little pantomime dance, intended as some kind of signal, that almost makes her laugh. She has no idea what he is trying to communicate, but as the signal isn't meant for her anyway it doesn't matter.

What does matter is that Hardball has a plan. The feelings of panic that had gripped her at the sound of the new guard's voice melt away. Everything is going to be all right.

Hardball knows what to do.
  #21  
Unread 15th of April, 2008, 00:09
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Hardball has no idea what he is doing.

It seems pretty obvious to Jack that Hardball isn't alone, either. Paul, skittish though he was, seemed relatively at home in this scenario. Colin, too, for that matter. The rest of them - even the big shiny one - were just playing at being superheroes. Standing obcscured behind the boiler without a clever idea of his own, Jack can't help but wonder how they are going to manage to get themselves out of here in one piece let alone any hostages.

Lucky for them a single guard was unlikely to put up much of a fight against the sheer power of their group, despite the disorganization and blundering about. He exhales slowly, letting the focus of his eyes drift to enhance the power of his peripheral vision. They would take this guard down and then use what they found on him to make the next step. Somewhere inside, Polnoch was working his magic, depending on them to get the job done. He had confidence they could do what they needed to - he had bet lives on it.

Jack wipes his hands on thighs, feeling almost relieved now that there is no choice. They have to find a way.
  #22  
Unread 15th of April, 2008, 13:01
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Nothing.... The darkness is no longer Colin's to command, just as he had known. Hovering somewhere between dissapointment and relief at this reconfirmation, Colin decides to settle on resignation.

Okay, no powers... no problem. I knew that coming in and nothing has changed. I can still be a force for good. Right now people are depending on me. Not only this team, but another... a prisoner in this den of evil... of demons. I will rescue her!

Starfire glances over at Colin and sees the calm focus in his eyes. Feeling her gaze, Colin looks her in the eye and gives her a slight nod, hoping to pass on his determination. He signals her to stay put and keep an eye out in the hallway. Then, silent as an errant breeze, Colin moves over to the boiler. Crouched low behind the bulk of the machinery, his black polymer escrima sticks in hand, Colin waits to back up Hardball's play.

Last edited by Cromwell; 17th of April, 2008 at 11:33.
  #23  
Unread 16th of April, 2008, 06:34
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Seconds stretch into seeming hours. Paul's about to explode after 2.5 sec. Paul's eyes widen at Hardball's slomo mime show. Didn't he say on the plane he's hurt by electricity and fire? Fire bad. The image of a flailing electrified chrome frankenstein towering over him with the guard's now charged neck in his outstretched hand completely unnerves Paul. Breathe. He knows what he's doing. He and Nick have done this before.

Paul's saucerlike ears pick up the Shadow moving for back up and he relaxes a little. The Shadow knows. His eyes saccade to the doorway where the guard will get more than a prank. He swallows down hard. Like Samuelson. No. No one's going to get killed. The look on Polnoch's face at all the pawns sacrificed on battlefields littered over a century. Suddenly Polnoch's insistence on self choice seems soap for his bloody hands. They chose this for themselves. What about this guard? Mark was human, but this guy's coming from Her secret base.

He feels himself trying to grow smaller. His legs tense to dive down the stairs if he needs to. His arms tense to shoot if he needs to. And his chest tenses to explode at the utter uncertainty of these agonizingly eternal seconds.

Last edited by Reinstadler; 19th of April, 2008 at 23:45. Reason: fix guard's name
  #24  
Unread 21st of April, 2008, 02:56
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The baleful glare of the guard’s flashlight bobs in time with his steps, shining erratically upward from the depths of the secret lair. The group tenses, their hyperactive senses churning furiously in the dark. There is something more in the air than just the anxiety of an impending fight. There is something…wrong. Paul can feel it first, like a ball of cold feces lodged in his chest.

Something wicked this way comes.

The pale eye of the guard’s flashlight clears the stairs. It briefly sweeps across the room before settling on the gleaming skin of Hardball.

“Wassup,” the shiny titan says with a nod, his hands casually on his hips. The flashlight lingers over the mutant for a few moments before the click of the guard’s shoes continue up the stairs. Now at the top, Paul can see the man’s features clearly. Mid thirties, and thinly built he looked like any other member of the faceless working class.

“The six of you shouldn’t be down here,” the guard’s voice is like mouse nails skittering on cardboard. “The Mistress will not be pleased.”
  #25  
Unread 23rd of April, 2008, 06:31
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Segment 12

With a puff of compressed gas, the four metallic darts leap from Paul's taser pistol trailing wire like kites. Two of the darts strike the guard in the side, one of them lodges into his shoulder and the fourth buries itself into his neck. An instant later thousands of volts of electricity pour into his gaunt flesh. The guard’s body begins to twitch violently, sending his flashlight spinning through the air. In the erratic strobe of the falling torch Paul watches in horror as the guard’s torso swells like a hot dog in the microwave. Khaki fabric shreds, sending small plastic buttons careening into the air. The gaunt man’s head wrenches backward with a sickening pop, his face wickedly contorted.

Then, from the man’s open mouth Paul sees a hooked claw emerge and fold over the edge of his yawning orifice, then another, and another. The claws flex and the man’s mouth is stretched impossibly wide and drawn downward revealing the head of creature spawned from the darkest of arachnophobic nightmares. The skin of the thin guard falls in a crumpled pile at the beast’s feet. The grotesque fusion of spider and man balances its bulging abdomen on two spindly legs, leaving the other four to paw menacingly at the air.

“When the Mistress has finished with your minds, I shall suck the liquefied organs from your husks,” the demon’s mandibles chitter.

The creature convulses and vomits forth a gooey mass of pale fluid. The thick, mass hits the gaping Hardball directly, covering him in ropey strands of quickly hardening webbing.

Demonic acid coated webbing.
 

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