Capes Issue #12

More of the same, only lamer

9 August 2010. 2000 hours: Armory I


The gym door swing open and Thad swings in jauntily.

“Yo, Holmes!”

“Ah Thad! We thought you had to go out of town?”

“I did, but problem solved; I’m back. So: this the Golden Calf layout?”

Wraith reprises his findings and the Plan.

“What’s Plan B?”

There’s quite a bit of discussion around this, ranging from wrecking the casino on a random basis to just pulling out and if so how. It’s about this point when Nightfall stands, body language tense.

“Uh, sorry guys, I have to go.”

“What?!… Nightfall!? I only just finished making the plan!”

“Sorry Wraith, everyone – I have a family thing I have to get to.”

Thad narrows his eyes and does a quick scan of the young athlete; but Nightfall is genuine; he’s not about to snitch the Massive out.

The discussion continues; eventually the Massive agree that if things don’t go well the idea will be to just get out, possibly up through the floors, and rally elsewhere.

Plan A was what?

10 August 2010. 0000 hours:

Holmes, present in astral form while bodily in the van, keeps everyone in touch through his powers of communication. Performer has returned to his body, as he’s now with Tripp and Skylark in the bunker. Wraith once again ghosts his body through the wall and checks the workshop beyond; it’s different this time: four guards are playing cards around a card table set up there. Wraith leaves the group in the bunker and goes to check that Eddie is still upstairs, Holmes acting as the “live update.” Tripp stirs uncomfortably: there’s a feeling of once too often to the well about this. He’s seen drug busts ruined when a SWAT badge took one last look at the peep-cam. SNAFU.

Eddie is happily examining a wooden box containing a green glowing object which is apparently security for a bankroll he’s advancing. There are a number of security and other staff with him including Ginger, his statuesque receptionist.

Returning, Wraith ghosts Skylark into the workshop. The guards, intent on a card game with real stakes, don’t even notice her. Wraith fires his stun field as she attacks: within seconds all guards are unconscious!

As Wraith takes the guards one at a time to the next bunker on – the assembly bunker – Performer searches his present location. This bunker is fitted out with an antique kitchen, bunks, small desk with intercom phone on it, and a small armory containing quite a collection of antique guns. Posters on the wall suggest a 1950s establishment rather than 1940s. “1950s… I like Ike… McCarthyism… you won’t find any porn here Tripp!” jokes Performer. Tripp seems distracted, idly lighting up a smoke. Performer concludes his search at a camera over the door.

Alerted by Holmes to this find, Wraith finishes his people-porting and disarms it. It’s time to open the doors. Wraith rejoins Skylark who has a merry twinkle in her eye: she’s finished re-ordering the cards on the table. Having opened the massive bunker door, they turn their attention to the first security door; open it fairly quickly. They advance up the three steep flights to the office door. Behind them, Performer and then Bad Tripp stalk up as quietly as they can.

As the lead pair disable the lock on the door, Holmes projects himself ahead and communications from him cut off! Instead of ghosting through with Skylark, Wraith ghosts through alone and looks around: only two guards now stand near the box, and Eddie is back at his desk. He’s just put a cellphone down. “Give me a count of five then come after me!” says Wraith. Again ignoring his own plan, Wraith leaves Skylark waiting and stretches out his hand towards the phone, meaning to disable it. Eddie kicks a foot-trigger: Wraith is hit with some type of energy field that strips away many of his suit’s protections, and though he does remain invisible it’s no real defense as guards plus Ginger and the previously-concealed Creep jump him and pound him into unconsciousness! A series of shutters slide down around the office and the door re-locks.

All Skylark knows is that before her count is complete, Wraith’s comms are gone. She tries the door: nothing doing. Stooping, she begins trying to disarm it again.

“Stand back – or scrooch down more – I’ll try to take it out!” Performer calls from a few steps down. He summons a mighty blast of kinetic energy, but the door stands firm.

“I’m right behind yuh!” Tripp prompts, but is ignored.

A phone in a wall niche beside Skylark rings. With a feeling of resignation – a feeling that they have been completely outplayed Skylark picks it up.

“Would you like to come in?” asks a mocking voice.

Mr. Eddie clearly feels he has the upper hand as he invites them all in. Skylark and Performer walk in, but Tripp has already gone, heading for the valet car-park. A little voice is telling him it’s been too long since Holmes went “out” and he wants to get to the van asap. As he moves out through the darkened basement level, he sees part of the casino security force assembling. It looks more like they are making ready to receive the group from upstairs, rather than search for hidden cars, so with a bound, Tripp exits over them and away. A voice pops into his head: “Guys! I’ve missed something – I’m here in the van but I went out for a bit – what’s happening?” Breathing a sigh of relief Tripp fills Holmes in, then: “I dunno ‘bout Wraith – they took ‘im down. Ya bedder move th’van – dey maybe onta ya.” “Come back to the van all of you – we need to re-group and get Wraith out!” Holmes transmits. But he’s destined to be disappointed.

Plan B, or C 

0010 hours:

Inside his office, Eddie hectors Performer and Skylark like a schoolmaster. Performer is inclined to bandy empty threats, but Skylark knows they have no leverage whatsoever. Declining to engage in debate, she convinces Performer to back off, and they both depart through a menacing gauntlet of security watching them out of the valet park. But declining the advice from Holmes, Skylark heads away in one direction, Performer in another.

Holmes is unable to convince Skylark and Performer to rally. He parks the van in another quiet back-street and attempts to find Wraith. This time, he’s successful. Wraith is in a cell exchanging banter with a guard. Wraith’s apparent honesty disarms the guard, who calls Eddie and explains th’ mask guy t’ought he wuz was tryin’ ta make a meta-drug bust.

Mr. Eddie comes down from on high, bringing chairs and whisky.  On Wraith owning up to attempting to bring down Underworld, Eddie harangues Wraith at some length: Underworld is not real; never has been; Mr. Eddie is a businessman who has been harassed for months by the late Panoply! He condescendingly admires the effort the Massive went to and encourages them to keep saving orphans and taking out random nutball capes. Wraith accepts a gift of whisky, gathers up his belongings – his mask has been left on the whole time – and departs by a private exit.

“I’m back with you – can you pick me up at the back of the Golden Calf?” Wraith transmits. Holmes soon has the van there and the three, given that Performer is long since back at base and Skylark probably there already, ungird their warlike stance and roll away.

Whisky Tango

Back at Armory, after sharing some whisky, Tripp signs off. His sectors need him more than the Massive. He doesn’t express any opinion as to how the night went and assures Holmes he can get in touch if need be. His van departs with a certain amount of finality.

Red samples the whisky too, as he touches base. The Massive are skimpy with the details, but Red hears enough to point out that an honest man wouldn’t have all those defenses.

The others find themselves discussing plans for the future at some length. There’s still a dramatic spectrum of goals; though with Tripp gone, no-one is saying their priority is the drug trade. It’s not at all clear where Wraith and Performer want to focus: Wraith is demoralized by his beating and seems not to want to tackle super-villains, nor regular villains, nor corrupt officialdom. Performer sounds off, often over the top of Holmes, but cannot summarize what he sees the Massive’s raison d’etre as being; he does tend towards the black-hat/white-hat confrontation though.  Skylark’s preference means that she’s relieved that Tripp’s departure clarifies things – and as the whisky kicks in she enjoys some scathing and bitchy backstabbing of the big freak. She cares little about mundane crime and prefers to focus on the cape villains. But Performer, almost against his own line of logic, continues to insist that Eddie is in the super-villain category too. Holmes tries to find a consensus amongst the rubble:

“We’re talking about being either ‘vanilla’ superheroes or working on several fronts against evil, drugs and corruption. We need to strike a balance.”

Demolition for example, Holmes goes on, recently escaped: they haven’t done any beat work on his case. Wraith tries to head off talk of getting Demolition: as he points out, they couldn’t get any traction when he was a little old man in a cell – WTF are they going to do when he is fully-resourced and up-armored?

Holmes points out, and underlines around Performer’s increasingly-loud interjections, that the Massive has to be media-savvy and reach out to an audience unless they want to be classed with other menaces to society as vigilantes. Wraith is vehement – having absorbed quite a few snifters – that if the Massive launches a website he is out. “Website! If you’re gonna set up a f***ing website you can count me out – of the group!”

“We can set up a web presence however we like,” soothes Holmes, “you don’t even need to have you in it!”

“Yeah – we can be the media!” agrees Skylark sarcastically. She giggles: “Brother Huey!” she adds; tries to figure out if her comment found its mark, and tops up her glass.

Holmes frowns:

“If we just p*** around with a bunch of silly super-thugs,” he asserts, “we are not meeting our potential. In fact if we’re only going to focus on the black and white thing, I will leave the group.” Everyone is paying attention now. “The question is of taking on the ‘gray’ – the evil emanating from City Hall.”

An uneasy silence follows.

“I guess it comes down to what city we want to live in,” Skylark suggests softly.

“We’d like to live in a city where the admin are doing what the citizens would like, not just the bidding of the few,” Performer rejoins.

Skylark rolls her eyes:

“Meh. Move to Vegas.”

Holmes picks up the thread again:

“The Mayor is particularly corrupt, and if we expose him an election would have that as an issue.”

Transparency in government, in fact!” Skylark laughs. “What a concept!”

“I’m willing to work towards this ‘crystal city’ if nothing more urgent comes up,” offers Wraith.

“Hey you know, we can work on both at the same time,” Performer assures them.

“Yep,” agrees Holmes, relieved enough that he probes no further. But Performer elaborates:

“It may have been Avenger’s idea – or Panoply’s – to have us target the super-villains. But we need to prioritize.”

The last of the whisky looks up at Holmes from the bottom of his glass. He realizes he’s going to have to take public transport or sleep it off here.

“It’s something to think about,” he says quietly, “…and a media strategy.”

Skylark stands; sways a little; giggles again. “I can help – I’m media trained.” Seeing their dubious looks she continues: “Hey – I wrote an activist column… back when I was a student! I can do that stuff!”

“I can act!” Performer grins. “If it comes to podcasting, I’ve got it covered!”

Skylark heads out.

“It only goes to show the power of bad information!” Wraith exclaims as he stumbles towards the bathroom. “I was acting on Tripp’s authoritative declaration that Larry wouldn’t have dared report his experience to Eddie for fear of getting whacked… Well, it clearly was reported, and in enough depth for Eddie to be well and truly prepared.”

“You mean, Lester,” mumbles Holmes. Wraith’s reply is muffled yet hollow:

“My motto for next time is going to be ‘Always plan as if the enemy knows everything!‘”

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