RPG Library

Night City(6): Hangin' With Grendel

Carlos crawls through the clouds of dust and looks down at Glimmer, trying vainly to make out any details on her person. No luck: he can barely make out her outline through the clouds of disintegrated concrete and cinderblock.

Crawling back to the would-be escapee in whose lap he awoke, El Langosto sees a dark figure loom up ahead of him. The figure is wearing a skintight black fabric that looks somewhat metallic [like the spandex armor Krane wears], and a voluminous blood-red cloak. mask covers his entire head, and it's black exce t for two large stylized red eyes [like Spider-Man's mask, except the mask is black and the eyes are red]. His right hand is wrapped in his cloak, probably to keep him from tripping on it as he negotiates the scattered debris, but his left hand is clearly visible, the razor-like claws gleaming in the uneven light. The man stands between El Langosto and the attractive hispanic prisoner. This could only be Grendel, Beowulf's nemesis.

"Just a moment, little man," the spectre greets El Langosto in an oddly pleasant voice, rather like that of Jeremy Irons (deep voice, smooth English accent). "We have very little time left, and I have one more errand to run before I leave. But I'll strike a bargain with you: I'll trade you this woman here," gesturing at the hispanic woman slumped against the wall behind him, "for the hardened criminal over there," pointing a clawed finger at the unconcious figure of White Noise at the ledge that's all that remains of the other end of the corridor.

"You might be asking yourself, 'Why would he trade me his partner in crime, his shield-mate, his comrade-at-arms, for this petty criminal?'"

"Well, I'll tell you this," and here his voice drops to a conspiratorial whisper, "I never liked White Noise that much." Carlos can sense the evil smile behind Grendel's mask, and something about it makes his skin crawl.

"Now, my little hero, you may be thinking that you can delay me long enough for your explosive friend down below to dig herself out, and the two of you could capture all three of us." He nods, as if admitting the validity of that tactic. "Perhaps you could, perhaps you could. But..." and here his voice drops once again to a conspiratorial whisper "... I have a secret. You see, if you don't do as I say, this entire building will go up in flames and everyone in it and *around* it will die." The man chuckles, as if relishing the thought.

"But," he says, his smoothly modulated voice returning to a conversational level, "if you do as I ask, this one small favour, not only will you capture White Noise (a notorious criminal, I'm sure you've heard of him [no, actually neither Carlos nor Glimmer has heard of him]), I will tell you how to prevent this building from exploding, and you will save the lives of hundreds of people and be proclaimed a hero."

The masked figure smiles a grinchy smile, gathers his cloak around him, and takes a gliding step back toward the woman on the floor. "You can't ask for a fairer bargain than that, can you? Of course, if you *do* decide to interfere with me, or try to prevent me from leaving with my prize..."

The red-cloaked figure crouches above the battered woman, his claws flexing in the gloom near her face.

"...well, let's just say that I'm not a good loser."

[at this point, Carlos and Glimmer have both had three (actually two: the first recovery just un-Stunned them) recoveries, which puts Glimmer at 27 Stun and El Langosto at 15 Stun]

Kakker races over to the new hole to look down in it. He's expecting to see the Pyromaniac Kid (whatever s/he looks like), but finds nothing but rubble. Seizing the opportunity, he takes up some of the smaller-sized debris and bombards the departing villainess ("Xanadu") hoping to disable her wings. It's tricky, trying to gauge the range in the darkness and not simply hurl the rocks and bits of metal at killing speed.

This hadn't been what he'd expected. Ron had tried to prepare him to expect chaos on a scale he had never dealt with before, but he hadn't prepared him for this. Still, Adaptor smiled slightly to himself, I'm nothing if not... adaptable. The evemts reminded him of the one major forest fire he had experienced: Chaos and death all around, thousands of acres going up, but the firemen somehow managed to go about thier jobs. Looking within, he listened for the voice that calmed him in times like these: the one that helped him use the fear to channel his energy, direct the adrenaline, the oxygen...

There! He heard it: the hum of all his muscles ready to work, the slight slowing down of his time sense, the crystaline focus of vision that came to him in these moments.

The angles he'd need to work raced through his head like fire, the complex mathematical vectors flying past as easily as his ABCs. Leaping the gap in the roof, he grabbed his staff and with a snap extended it to its full six foot length before his feet touched the ground. Yes, this chunk of roof should do it. Large enough to do some damage, perhaps even pin Grendel, but it should just miss the girl.

It only took a second to locate the point he'd need. Adaptor gritted his teeth and jammed his staff under the slab. With a muttered plea [which sounds like it's almost directed at himself as opposed to any of his teammates] of 'help me be strong enough,' he sets his feet and HEAVES. For a moment it seems as if he won't be strong enough, but then the staff slides under another foot of the slab, and it starts to move...

[I assume all this is happening while Grendel is pontificating... And the slab should fall just aboput the time he gets done... Cross your fingers, everyone!]

Kakker throws hunks of concrete at the form of Xanadu, who is (pardon the expression) high-tailing it away from the scene of the battle (fwap-fwap-fwap). He thinks he hits once or twice, but if anything it only encourages the bat-winged beauty to put on a burst of speed and disappear into the clouds -- which she does.

Meanwhile, with grim satisfaction and a terrible sound, Adaptor pries loose a section of the reinforced concrete roof and sends it toppling into the abyss [well, one floor down is hardly an abyss, but I like the phrase "toppling into the abyss" (grin)]. No sooner does the several-ton projectile plummet toward its destination than a melodious female voice cries up out of the dust cloud below (carrying astonishingly well, despite the still-blaring sirens and the dust-choked air):

"look out, grendel! falling rock overhead! blast it!"

The warning is enough: Grendel glances up and raises an arm in defense, and although the huge section of man-made stone does seem to knock him off-balance for a moment, it does him no serious damage. "Oof," Grendel says as he pushes the slab off of him and away from the unconcious prisoner at his feet. It lands edge-on between Grendel and El Langosto, teetering precariously, then toppling over and slamming down onto the corridor floor with a thunderous crash. More concrete chips and dust are flung into the air (showering the blue-clad hero with grey powder), and the entire wing of the building shakes with the impact.

[Grendel would love to soliloquy a bit more, but we really should give the rest of the team a chance to catch up. Some of our far-flung heroes are a few Phases behind, and might have something to contribute to the discussion.

Since Amy seems to be tied up with post-wedding activities (wink-wink, nudge-nudge, say no more), we'll assume that Emerald is outside trying to talk sense to our friends the FBI. Krane and Prism are probably engaged with the furry fun-guy, and Britestar is probably going to take pot-shots at either the fellow in the window or the retreating Xanadu, but any of them might break off from that and come leaping to El Langosto's rescue, so we really should wait to hear from them. If nothing else, they might have something to say over the radio.

It's anyone's guess what the hell happened to Beowulf: true to his word, no one has seen him.

I was going to draw a quick map of the building and where people are, but I keep putting it off. Until I get around to that, here's a quick ASCII map of what's where. Assume about 45 FBI scattered more-or-less evenly around the building inside the fence, and another 60 or so outside. This isn't really to scale, btw.]

 beast -> x
 man     ____        ____
        [    ]      [    ]
        [    ]      [    ]
        [    ]      [    ]
WEST    [    ]      [    ]  EAST
        [    ]      [    ]
        [    ]______[    ]
        [    :      :    ]
 kid -  [x   :      :    ]   Xanadu flying away --->
 in     [    :______:    ]
 window [    ]      [    ]
        [ x  ]      [    ]
 big -> [xxx ]      [    ]
 hole   [ x  ]      [    ]
        [    ]      [    ]
        [____]      [____]

  x <- Emerald outside fences


[GM To Adaptor]

It may or may not be an issue later, but Adaptor was absolutely positive that the five-ton slab of roof would miss the woman on the floor, even if it bounced off Grendel (which it basically did -- the guy must be inhumanly strong).

[GM To Glimmer]

It may or may not be important to you, but Adaptor came within inches (as in real live inches, not hexes) of crushing that unconscious woman on the floor to death with a five-ton slab of concrete.

Carlos' eyes widen beneath his mask. This was SUPPOSED to be an adventure. They're SUPPOSED to kick some bad guy butt and prevent the escapes. Instead, he's got bruised ribs and there's like fifty helpless people trapped under concrete rubble. Because of HIS bright idea. Added to that fuck up, now there's some twisted pendejo trying to threaten him with the death of hundreds and doing it very well!

He moves the arm holding his ribs a little, trying to disguise the injury. He also tries to keep his voice from shaking with tension. Better stall Grendel while he thinks of something.

"Grendel, uh? You picked a good scary name, man. I had Freshman Lit. I still get nightmares about trying to read that pentameter shit out loud!"

He can't use the blocks of rubble, he might hit the babe. He'll have to attack Grendel directly. Langosto starts to pace slowly to his left. If the right arm is holding the cape, then it'll be slower trying to block him when he attacks.

"If I KNEW you, you'd have a deal. I mean, Bailwolf said if you DO have a bomb or something, then you'd just blow us all up anyway."

Langosto is preparing to leap up and off the wall as soon as he reaches the edge of the corridor, to try to catch Grendel by surprise. "I figure we keep you here, you can' afford to explode nothin'"

Three more steps. "See my point?" As soon as Grendel speaks again, Carlos will leap. Grendel says nothing.

Damn, he's cold. :: Pointing to the prisoner. :: "I had a good look at them, and I tell you: I like her a lot more. She's got, like, spirit and shit. He's just a lambioso with a keyboard, no?"

Some concrete shifts behind him. He has to go soon. He'll try something simple. If Grendel turns his head even slightly at this, Carlos will leap.

:: pointing to Grendel's right arm. :: "Hey, you keepin' that arm hidden 'cause Bailwolf ripped it off, right?"

[Post concrete block.]

Just as Carlos prepares to leap, someone below him shouts a warning to Grendel. A concrete block comes plummeting down directly at Grendel and the the unconscious woman. Grendel manages to block it to the side. Carlos barely restrains himself from leaping forward to help the dark figure.

:: Into his ring :: "Madre de Dios! Stop throwin' the fucking rocks! You almost killed somebody!"

Carlos shrugs, "So much for the deal, Grendel."

They're gonna kill her unless Carlos gets them away from the girl. Maybe he can get Grendel up trapped. He leaps forward to Grendel's feet, preparing to grab him and toss him into the hole in the floor.

Adaptor follows the course of his projectile just long enough to see that Grendel is only momentarily shaken up by it, then spins and crosses the few steps to where Kakker is standing, just having hurled debris at the reatreating Xanadu. He taps Kakker on the shoulder and holds up his hand. Covering his communicator ring with the other hand, he pauses and waits for Kakker's response...

Britestar watches as Xanadu flies away."Hey come back here I want to know more about the "stone" Then "Boom" another helicopter blows up. Britestar sees the the guy sitting in the window with his hands blazing. "Hey you, Pyromanic Kid? I'm going to put you out"

Britestar takes a half-move to get closer to the Kid, then fires his energy blast at him.

Wearing cheap sunglasses and a ragged denim jacket, the young man in the window would look more at home hanging out on a street corner than he does firing blasts of coherent heat at the FBI. Even so, the heat flickering over his fists and his toothy smile as the helicopter goes down in flames make it clear enough that this is no innocent bystander. Britestar opens up with a blast of scintillating light energy.

The blast of light catches the culprit squarely in the chest. It seems to distort as it nears the youth, like a distant landscape seen through the haze from hot asphalt. Still, it's enough to stagger the man. Reeling from Britestar's energy assault [does Britestar's EB do knockback?], the teenage boy shouts, "The name's Ash, pajama-man! Like you're gonna be!"

The black youth raises his fists in anger, and unleashes a wave of blistering heat at the flying hero. The heat blast rippling through the air toward him is something Britestar can *feel* coming, more than see. It hits him like a thousand-degree wall. The sheer force of the furnace-like blast throws Britestar back through the air [16 meters], and the bone-baking heat scorches his face and lungs [Britestar takes 17 Stun past his defenses, leaving him at 21 Stun]. Ash seems pleased.

"Careful," Kakker cautioned Adaptor, "the slab almost crushed that woman. She obviously knows something important to these people." Kakker crouched next to Adaptor, his hands patting the tools around his person. "They've got some kind of high- powered spotter down there, but no mind reader, I'd wager. Do you think you're strong enough to grab and hold Grendel for a second while I hold you down there and pull the two of you back up to the roof?"

Adaptor gives a quick shake of his head at Kakker's suggestion. "I doubt it." he says, quite matter-of-factly. "I suggest we attempt to take the woman. It will alow us to dictate the battle, not him. If he gives chase, we can move the combat away from here. I'm willing to hold onto you, as well, if you're strong enough to hold Grendel. Your call."

Krane is performing a defensive strike with his escrima stick, which should give him a 9 OCV and an 11 DCV. His damage should be 10d6 (5 for Strength, 2 for damage classes, & 3 for the escrima stick).

As the furry creature approaches, Krane stands his ground.

When the creature lunges with his clawed hand, Krane lashes out with a defensive witick (a quick snapping strike that travels out and back on the same angle) aimed at the creatures extended hand. The speed of the strike combined with defensive (evasive) footwork will hopefully leave Krane in a good position for any response that the creature might have.

Glimmer overhears...

"I doubt it." someone else says says, quite matter-of-factly. "I suggest we attempt to take the woman. It will allow us to dictate the battle, not him. If he gives chase, we can move the combat away from here. I'm willing to hold onto you, as well, if you're strong enough to hold Grendel. Your call."

Meanwhile, she does hear the very faint sounds of a radio coming from Grendel (she was listening for this, right?), but it isn't a Vanguard radio. It sounds more like cop-speak, in several distinct voices. Grendel is not replying to any of it. It's very quiet, so she doesn't hear it consistently; it fades in and out.

"Tiger team three on mark oh-one-five. Team four on six-oh-seven. Roger that, team one. Tack delta-niner-six on oh-oh-three, two, one, delta-niner-six. Standing off from PS-9, allowing PS-4 and PS-5 to engage. Roger that, Tiger team seven. etc, etc."

It doesn't make a lot of sense to Donna, but it's probably the FBI.

Prism stands impotently on the ground for a few moments, waiting desperately for an enemy to come within his severely limited vertical range. To Lyle's warning on the radio, he yells, "Hell! Can't you just I.D. us to the supercops, and let 'em come on in? We're the good guys, after all!"

Unexpectedly, Prism's wishes for an opponent are answered soon enough when the beast-person crashes through an ex-window. If he can react in time, he will greet the newcomer with a _coup de pied fouette_ [a/k/a an Offensive Strike (round kick)], trying to time it to connect just before the creature reaches the ground (or Krane). [Levels are in OCV, and hopefully this thing can't see the still-invisible Prism.]

Whether or not the "attack out of nowhere" works, Prism will try to work with Krane to take the beast down as quickly as possible. He's going to concentrate on offense [levels in OCV or, if necessary, damage], and is willing to leave himself open, hoping that the creature will concentrate on his tough crystal body and leave Krane free to attack.

"Here, puppy," Prism coos. "How about a nice game of 'fetch the teeth'?" This is followed by a left hook to the jaw.

Prism's toneless voice somehow conveys his frustration over the Vanguard radio. "Hell! Can't you just I.D. us to the supercops, and let 'em come on in? We're the good guys, after all!"

Lyle's response is equally frustrated. "I'm trying, Prism. Your comm ID's were supposed to have been programmed into the FBI HUD's. I don't know why you aren't showing up. But based on the FBI transmissions, bad things are going down there and the Warhawks are going to be gunning for bear. If you can't bag the bad guys before they arrive, I really suggest you retreat with the feds. I'll keep you posted."

[As an aside, anyone who has any kind of FBI or FSPD knowledge knows that Warhawks are FSPD combat helicopters. Armored, armed, and able to take down just about anybody.]

Prism soon has other things to worry about as the clawed creature dives from the fifth-floor window of the prison, claws outstretched, a knot of bestial fury aimed directly at Krane. FBI agents nearby backpedal hastily, bringing their weapons to bear on the beast-man, but too slow: by the time they react, he reaches Krane, and the shot is no longer clear.

Krane and Prism respond as though they'd been fighting beside each other for years. When the creature lunges with his clawed hand, Krane lashes out with an escrima stick aimed at the creatures extended hand. The hit connects with a KRAK!, and Krane nimbly side-steps the beast-man's falling body. Simultaneously, Prism exhibits a surprising amount of flexibility and speed as his leg spins up and out, connecting solidly with the creature's back, driving it down into the ground where Krane stood only a moment before.

The creature impacts face-first with the manicured lawn of the prison courtyard. Krane prepares for the beast's response [withholds his action], but Prism moves in before the creature can recover from the fall. "Here, puppy," Prism coos. "How about a nice game of 'fetch the teeth'?" This is followed by a left hook to the jaw.

The force of Prism's blow rolls the beast-man over on his back. It twitches, but makes no move to get up. In the courtyard security light, Prism and Krane can see that they aren't the first ones to do battle with the creature: something has hit it in the chest, ripping out much of its hair, leaving a purple fist-sized bruise and what looks like a bloody rash.

It's chest rises and falls with ragged breaths, but it isn't moving.

Krane breathes a sigh of relief. "Well he was certainly weaker than he looked (grin)."

Then he looks to Prism. "You're not quite what you appear either, sir. You've got some good moves, I had you figured for the strong, slow, and ponderous type. Good show."

[I'm not quite sure what I can see up on the roof. I'm going to assume that I can tell Grendel is up there but not be completely aware of the hostage situation. ]

Krane scans the roof, trying to determine what's going on up there. Finally he gives up and uses the radio/communicator, "What's going on up there guys? Do you need help or should I stay on inmate patrol down here?"

He'll take another look around the grounds just to make sure the coast is clear before he seriously considers heading for the roof.

Grendel glances up at the roof two stories above him, where the stars are now visible in the space above him. He turns his gaze back toward El Langosto, who is even now trying to get in position to leap at him.

"You show staggeringly poor judgement for superheroes, boy," Grendel comments idly, his voice low and casual. [He sounds like Jeremy Irons. If you don't know who he is, then imagine what Patrick Stuart would sound like if he relaxed a little bit and stopped trying to sound like a Shakespearean stage actor.]

"Let us put your position in more concrete terms," he says, crouching next to the woman at his feet. With a fluid motion he clutches her by the throat and stands, pulling her up so that her feet dangle a few centimeters above the ground.

"Little hero, if you try to prevent me from leaving with this woman," he says, shaking her slightly, "I will kill her. Everyone in this prison will die. Everyone on the grounds outside will die. And I will still leave." On the woman's neck, El Langosto can see drops of blood seep from around the edges of Grendel's clawed thumb.

"Now, I am leaving. If you choose to try to stop me, know this: when this ground is wet with blood, you, like your friend Beowulf, could have prevented it." He pauses briefly, assessing the effect (if any) his words have on El Langosto.

El Langosto hears a low chuckle from from the masked psychopath. "We shall meet again, boy." Grendel bends his knees slightly and leaps straight upward, gently landing next to Adaptor and Kakker on the roof. He is still holding the woman by the neck with his left hand. He makes no move to attack them, but he obviously intends to walk to the edge of the roof with her.

"Okay, Adaptor, I will rappel down and manhandle Grendel. While he's distracted, you will try to get the wom- oh."

Kakker's eyes get large and his master plan fades away as he sees the horrific apparition alight next to them.

He blinks once as he spastically lashes out with his cupped left hand, trying slap Grendel across the room. Belatedly, he realizes what he's done.

(Ooops, no room, just a roof. Still, it's a kind of half-assed attack that might do more knockback than pulling his punch. He doesn't habitually decapitate people, after all. Oops, well, hopefully he'll be startled into letting her go.)

Brietstar says to Ash, "I think a better name for you would be ashtray, dude." Accelerating straight toward the window, Britestar uses his own body as a projectile, aimed right at Ash.

Ash's eyes get REAL BIG, and he scrambles to get out of the way. But should he go back in the building, or should he jump out to where all the FBI are? Indecision delays him just long enough for Britestar to slam into him at full speed. Britestar can feel a definite CRUNCH when he hits, and the impact sends Ash flying back into the prison. [Ash is down.]

Britestar's victory has a cost, however: the wave of heat given off by Ash is punishing: Britestar can smell his costume being scorched and feel as the fuzz on his cheeks is singed. The contact with the burning-hot villain lasts only a split-second, but it's long enough to leave Britestars hands blistered and his costume smouldering.

[Britestar takes 19 Stun past his defenses from Ash's Damage Shield. Does that put Britestar out? If not, he's pretty close.]

Meanwhile, there's movement at the edge of Krane's and Prism's vision: suddenly Clawthor is literally swallowed by the earth. One moment he's there, unconcious between them. The next moment, he sinks into the ground and vanishes, and the ground seals closed behind him. The area where he was laying is no longer covered in well-trimmed grass: it's now a barren spot of raw earth.

Grendel alights on the roof, woman prisoner in tow. As soon he does, Kakker lashes out with an open hand and strikes him across the chest. Grendel is reacts too slowly to block the attack, but oddly, the blow seems to have little effect. Grendel seems... surprised, but something more. He is about to say something to Kakker when a voice wafts up out of the hole in the prison.

"grendel, this is a pathetic attempt to save face," says a voice from below. "you're trying to complete white noise' mission because your own mission was such a failure. if you want to cut a deal, cut it with me because i'm the only one who can give you what you came here for."

He tilts his head to one side, then chuckles quietly as the woman below says that only she can "give him what he came for." Suddenly, El Langosto appears on the roof, angry and inent on Grendel.

"I thin' you been playin' with Bailwolf too long, putamadre. You thin' you got this little game set up, and I gotta do what you want. What you don' know is that you FORCE me to stop you."

"I'm spost to trade you a life now so you can get away. Then you kill a hundred people later. The same way, I'm spost to trade you all these inmates for a thousand regular people. Hey, stupid, got a news flash. The lady there was encouraging White Noise to kill me. Most of the inmates did commit some crime. If you're gonna kill a bunch of people, THIS is the time to stop you. I mean, if SOMEBODY gonna be killed by you, best to stop you NOW."

"I ain't gonna be like Bailwolf and trade you my soul one life at time, so I end up just a pale shadow of a shit like you!"

"I know who's responsible for any deaths here."

Grendel stands a little straighter, and his eyes narrow in anger. Then Adaptor chimes in.

"Perhaps, Grendel. Or perhaps not. It seems to me that if you could kill us as effortlessly as you claim to, you'd simply do it, and not stand here posturing, making what are quite possibly idle threats. Now that we've foiled your primary mission, I'd imagine you'd want to take your time in making us suffer. Why are you in such a hurry to leave?

Is it because you're not quite as invincible as you say? Or do you just want to leave before someone you're really afraid shows up? You know who told us you'd be here, don't you? I understand your hurry to leave given his desire to beat you to death with your own arm. Does he carry it around with him in case he runs into you? Under those circumstances, I'd probably want to flee, too. Don't worry. I won't tell anyone you were in such a hurry to leave that you let me drop a 10 ton concrete slab on you and wallk away unharmed. Except maybe Beowulf. I'm sure he and I will have a good laugh over it..."

Adaptor will then start to chuckle silently, obviously dryly amused by the whole situation, and wait for either Grendel's response, or an action from his teammates. He has lowered his staff, and is holding it against his knees, arms extended, perhaps inviting Grendel to take a swing at him...

Grendel stand silently for a moment, speechless.

"How dare you," he hisses hoarsely at the trio arrayed against him. "How DARE you treat these people's lives as if they have no value."

He shakes his head back and forth slowly. "Is it not bad enough that you insult me, treat me rudely, call attention to painful wounds of my past?" He clenches his right hand in an angry fist at his side.

"What have I done to deserve this treatment? Why must those who array themselves against me always prove themselves far less reasonable than I? Certainly, I take great joy in wringing the warm, sticky stuff of life from someone with my bare hands." Grendel sighs wistfully. "But I have graciously offered not to kill anyone... today. No one here *need* die today. But no," he turns toward El Langosto. "You would trade these lives away in exchange for a pathetic attempt to stop me. As if these lives have no value. Well, they have value to *me* boy."

Grendel lifts the woman up and looks into her unconscious face... almost tenderly. He caresses her cheek gently with the thumb of his right hand.

"Alas, poor Marguerite. Do you have a father who misses you? A mother who pines for you? A brother, perhaps, who even now works for your release from this Tower? Ah, sweet Marguerite: you are flawed, as all women are, but fatally flawed? Will the 'heroes' who throw away your life so casually take the time to explain to your loved ones how they had several chances to save your life, and chose not to?"


He tears off the front half of her skull.

"Alas," he says sadly. "I am a man of my word. Perhaps you, boy, will tell this woman's family why you chose to let her die."

He tosses the dead woman's face to El Langosto, and lets go of the body. It falls into the hole in the roof. It sinks out of sight, and a few long, long seconds later, a wet THUK! echoes up from the interior of the prison as the body hits the broken concrete far below.

"You know," he says idly as the gore drops at El Langosto's feet [or smacks against his chest, or flies past him as he steps out of the way], "for people who so scorn my late nemesis, Beowulf, you seem terribly determined to follow his example."

[We will assume that everyone except Britestar is at full Stun, except E.L. who is down 2 for the Body he took from the blast. End is too confusing for me to figure out for everyone -- I'll have to trust that you're within your limits.]


Kakker's mouth is agape inside his helmet as he witnesses the fiend casually shred the woman's head. In a moment, he'll snap to, but for now, let us consider him duly Presence attacked.

As she waited for Grendel's reply and assessed the situation, it occurred to Donna that her plan -- such as it was -- had worked. Britestar was paired off with Ash, the blue-grey woman had left her alone, and now one of the heroes was including Donna when he said, "We." A lot had happened since "I got a message for ya from yer old boss," and "Bugger it, Clawthor, I said *wait* for me..."

Wait for me.

Before this moment, it hadn't occurred to her to wonder what had caused Grendel to lag behind his furry friend. But now Grendel was threatening to blow up the building and sounding like he could do it. Perhaps Grendel and Clawthor had brought a bomb into the building with them. And while Grendel took his time to set up the bomb, Clawthor got impatient...

Donna realized what she had to do. But first there was the matter of the wounded and buried prisoners. She didn't dare to use her vibrating power to unearth anybody -- the prison walls had taken enough jolts today. She'd have to manage some other way.

"you and you," she said, finding the nearest healthy prisoners. "where do you want to be if the walls fall down, in here or out there?"

She doesn't wait for them to reply. It was a rhetorical question.

"i'm going to knock the locks off your cell doors, then i'm going to give each of you a job to do while i run an errand. when i get back, if i like the way you've done your jobs, i'll punch a hole in the wall and we'll all walk out of here. if i don't think you worked hard enough, i'll leave you inside. have we got a deal?"

If they agree -- and she'll extend this deal to a handful of other prisoners if they're available -- Donna will instruct them to dig up the buried and tend to the wounds of the injured.

As soon as her work crew is assembled, Donna will tell them she'll be back in five minutes and will leap/desolid her way up to the fifth floor hallway from which Grendel and Clawthor originally approached.

She'll turn a bit of attention to the roof, but mostly she'll focus on a quick organization of prison labor, then on her N-Ray quest for the bomb.

Here are Glimmer's prefered courses of action.

1. If she can do so without risking the structure of the prison, make a hole to allow Krane and Prism to come in -- probably by knocking out the bars in a second story window. Yell to them, "hurry up, guys. there are people here in need of first aid and rescue. i've got something else i need to do." Then she'll go to look for a bomb. She doesn't want to shout out loud that there's a bomb in the building, so she'll only tell them her plans if they come close enough for a private chat.

2. If #1 isn't do-able, she'll free a couple of prisoners to do rescue and recovery work (see previous message for details of this plan), then she'll go to look for a bomb.

3. Even if there's no way to get either the heroes or the prisoners to do the rescuing, she will -- very reluctantly -- abandon her rescue efforts and go to look for a bomb.

The "go to look for a bomb" strategy:

If White Noise is conscious or can be made so quickly, step on his keyboard (scrunch!), wake him up and ask him how to halt the prison's destruction. Tell him, "here's the scoop. your friends below have abandoned you. unless you can tell me how to stop it, this place is going up soon and you're going with it. talk to me and save some lives -- including your own."

If it's not possible to get information from White Noise -- either because he's too unconscious or uncooperative -- ignore him and desolididy/leap up to the fifth floor where Grendel and Clawthor came from. Then start N-Raying around for something that looks like a bomb.

Kakker fakes out Grendel, grabbing at his bloodied hand, but leading with the other foot, as he immediately follows the feint with a quick spin, pivoting in place and grabbing a double-handful of Grendel's copious cape. As he grasps the voluminous fabric, Kakker ponders the parallels to the Grendel and Beowulf of legend. Which came first, the allusion or the amputation?

Prism stares at the spot where the beast-man fell into the earth, then mutters, "Must have hit him harder than I thought." He smiles at Krane's compliments, but is quickly distracted by Grendel's arrival on the roof.

[I'm assuming he can hear Langosto's words over someone's open radio; if not, ignore this.]

"Shit," he mutters, "Grendel must have some kind of bomb set up here. Try to get the FBI and the prisoners off the grounds; if anybody can survive that kind of blast, I'm it. Somebody's gotta stop this psycho." Barely waiting for a response, he heads into the prison, looking for a relatively intact set of staits which will take him to the roof, or at least the top floor.

On the way up, he mutters, "It's Prism, I'm coming to the roof. Try to stall him, but don't let him trigger his trap yet if you can help it."

El Langosto/John Ward's computer is down, so he probably won't be responding too much for a little while. Let's assume he's shocked and sickened by the death of Marguerite. Boris and Renata are going to be intermittent (at best) for a while, too, but let's hope Boris can post something once a week or so. Pretty cool that you guys might be moving closer, btw. We might actually meet face-to-face!

Emerald/Amy is dropping out of the game due to marriage and other real-world things, which is too bad for us -- I liked both Emerald and Amy. I don't suppose the team will suffer for losing a martial artist, though.

The current list of players is as follows. Please CC all these people with your "public" posts, and make clear to me the ones that you are sending on to me (so I can tell whether to pass them along to eavesdroppers).

Brandon Blackmoor (GM), 74777,3001@COMPUSERVE.COM Jim Crocker (Adaptor), JCROCKER@AOL.COM
Scott Singleton (Britestar), SCOTTS7@AOL.COM
Frederick Earl (Glimmer), 74252,1545@COMPUSERVE.COM
Jeff Wilson (Kakker), J.Wilson23@genie.geis.com
Jon W. Sloan (Krane), 102117,763@COMPUSERVE.COM
John Ward (El Langosto), J.WARD18@GENIE.COM
Brian Schoner (Prism), B.SCHONER1@GENIE.COM

Speaking of eavesdroppers, I'm dropping a couple of other folks that were interested in the game but decided not to play. The above folks are the only ones you need to send posts to.]

Prism stares at the spot where the beast-man fell into the earth, then mutters, "Must have hit him harder than I thought." He smiles at Krane's compliments, but is quickly distracted by the radio report of Grendel's arrival on the roof.

A hole appears in the outer wall of the prison, near where Krane and Prism stand above the bare spot where Clawthor (though they don't know his name) laid only seconds ago. The barred window and brick around it simply crumbles, exposing a woman whose outline seems to shimmer and waver like a mirage.

She shouts in an oddly quiet voice, "hurry up, guys. there are people here in need of first aid and rescue. i've got something else i need to do." She then vanishes from the opening [and heads up to the third floor where White Noise lies snoozing].

"Shit," Prism mutters, "Grendel must have some kind of bomb set up here. Try to get the FBI and the prisoners off the grounds; if anybody can survive that kind of blast, I'm it. Somebody's gotta stop this psycho." Barely waiting for a response from Krane (who seems to be looking with interest at the retreating FBI agents), Prism heads into the prison through the second-story hole, then looks for a relatively intact set of stairs which will take him to the roof, or at least the top floor.

On the way up, he mutters into his radio, "It's Prism, I'm coming to the roof. Try to stall him, but don't let him trigger his trap yet if you can help it."

Meanwhile, on the roof, Kakker is the first of the trio who recovers from the shock of seeing Grendel kill a woman in front of them. He feints at Grendel's bloodied right hand, the one that Beowulf was reported to have severed, but Kakker immediately follows the feint with a quick spin, pivoting in place and grabbing a double-handful of Grendel's copious cape. As he grasps the voluminous fabric, Kakker ponders the parallels to the Grendel and Beowulf of legend. Which came first, the allusion or the amputation?

Grendel's response to the attack is not what Kakker expected. He makes no attempt to block either the feint or the real attack. Instead, he reaches out toward smoothly and grasps Kakker's arm above the wrist. He smiles. The two men seem frozen in time for a split-second, both holding onto the other. Then Kakker is lifted from his feet as Grendel lunges backward, hurling both men from the roof into the murky abyss of the prison below.

As he and Prism look down at the barren spot where the beast-man had laid just a few moments ago, Krane notices something out of the corner of his eye. One of the FBI agents, most of whom are slowly falling back to the front gate of the prison so they can leave the prison grounds, isn't moving quite as quickly as the others. In fact, the agent in question seems to be staring straight at Krane and Prism.

As Krane looks closer at the man's face, it seems that he can see a third eye in the man's forehead: a glowing, pulsing blood-red orb that feels... *artificial*... to Krane's yoga-tuned senses. The man's expression is blank, expressing none of the curiosity his unabashed stare would normally indicate.

Krane means to say something about it to Prism, but before he can do so the crystalline man heads briskly for the prison, obviously intent on taking down Grendel.

Kakker furiously pulls on the cape in as he and Grendel fall into the cavity left by the explosion. His plan is to get as stout a hold on Grendel (who seems to have two arms, at the very least) as Grendel has on him. It's doubtful that falling on Grendel would have any more effect than the same would on him (none at all from this height), so Kakker will attempt to land with good footing, then sling Grendel back out through the roof. [It could happen.]

If Grendel isn't so cooperative, Kakker is ready to pull a Sheriff Brody on him.

[I still don't know who Sheriff Brody is. -BSB]

[During Grendel's "How Dare YOU?" rant.]

Langosto sneers. "We din't say they din't have value. You just pissed because we don't confuse them with all the people you gonna kill later if we don't stop you!"

[After the murder.]

Langosto stands transfixed as Grendel tosses Marguerite's skull. The face barely misses him, and a splash of blood covers his entire chest. He stands static, like a forlorn doll, as Kakker and Grendel go over the roof.

Suddenly, he shakes his head. An unintelligible, almost animal sound comes from his throat. He leaps off the roof after the two falling figures.

Adaptor is somewhat surprised to see Grendel carrying the fight back inside the prison. Apparently, his desire to escape was not as strong as it seemed. Perhaps the entire hostage drama was only staged to disorient them. As repugnant as it was, Adaptor knows that discipline is always the first casualty in combat. Taking a split-second to bring his emotions back under complete control, he speaks into his communicator:

'Grendel has pulled Kakker back into the prison. I will follow to render what aid I can. I fear we can only delay him. Prism, the seem to have fallen through to floor (Adaptor reports the floor to Prism, who is probably starting his ascent up the side of the building now...)' As soon as he finishes his transmission, he simply steps off the ledge and begins the drop to the battle. His reaction upon hitting the floor will be determined by whatever data he can gather during the first few seconds of his fall about the state of things below...

Krane is torn. Should he head for the roof and try to beat Grendel to a sneseless pulp, should he aid the injured (he is a paramedic), or ... wait a minute, that FBI agent looks a little odd.

Krane begins speaking into his communicator as he approaches the agent. "There's someone out here that looks a little out of place, I'm going to investigate. If anyone needs me let me know, I'm only seconds away. Keep me posted."

That said, Krane approaches the agent. As he approaches he begins the deep breathing techniques that will open the chakras suitable for the defense of the mind (he attempts to shift his magical skill pool to mental defense). He will approach the man with the third eye cautiously yet quickly, watching for anything else strange.

He feigns concern, "Are you okay sir, can I direct you to safety?"

As Krane walks toward the suspicious FBI agent, the man seems to wake up and realize that he's been spotted. His head swivels back and forth like a periscope looking for enemy ships, then he raises his M-16 stiffly and aims it at Krane.

"Look out! He's got a gun!"

The agent opens fire, but his aim is way off. The air is filled with the PAK!-PAK!-PAK! of burst autofire, and bits of brick on the wall of the prison behind Krane explode into terrcotta dust.

Most of the two-dozen agents nearby are level-headed enough to look before they fire, but some respond from instinct and training. A dozen or more bullets zing toward Krane from the belching barrels of teflon-coated M16's.

Forget about mental defense, this guy's out for blood.

"I don't have a gun," Krane yells as he dives for cover. He tries to keep his eye on the man with the third eye while attempting to avoid the automatic weapons fire.

It will be difficult to take out this agent, without coming under fire from all the others. Krane has no desire to harm the good guys, especially when they're only trying to do their jobs. So it's time to think.

Once again Krane shifts his breathing and posture willing the breath into his extremities, flooding them with oxygen providing blood (he's shifting his magic pool to +5" running). Whatever course unfolds itself the extra maneuverability will come in handy.

If he's lucky enough to have the agents empty their magazines he will move in for a disarm on the one with the third eye. Followed by knocking him unconscious (or stunning him) and possibly using his own handcuffs to secure him. If it doesn't look feasible, Krane will stick to the shadows and keep the rogue agent in sight.


Note - If/when Krane makes his move on the FBI agent, he will not be using his escrima stick (he will sheathe it on his back). The act will look violent enough empty-handed, he doesn't want to draw too much friendly fire.

Attacking the FBI agent isn't feasible. After the initial flurry of gunfire, several agents shout "Down! Down! Down! On your stomach! Now! Do it!" A good dozen rifle muzzles are pointed at Krane, just waiting for him to twitch in a hostile way.

The glowing red third eye fades away from the forehead of the agent who first opened fire on Krane. He lowers his rifle and looks around somewhat dazedly.

While he's looking for a sturdy stairway to the roof, Prism spots Glimmer blowing open cell doors and letting prisoners go free. She extends an arm toward the barred door, and the steel seems to hum and blur for a moment. Then, with a crash, it shatters into little steel toothpicks.

As the crystal man and the vibrating woman take each other's measure, there's a CRASH as two bodies wrapped in a voluminous red cape plummet to the ground at the far end of the prison, where the five-story hole is.

Glimmer addresses the prisoners that she has released.

"hold it, ladies. change of strategy. do *not* go any closer to that hole. the man in the red cape is extremely dangerous.

"instead, head down the nearest stairs and perform as much first aid as you can on the ground floor. stay away from the man in red. get the wounded ready to travel and, in about three minutes, i'll meet you on the lower level and make an escape hole for all of us.

"i'd like to thank you for your cooperation. this is going to look really good at your parole hearings."

She allows the woman to go their merry way then steps toward the invisible Prism. "prism, i've got something of a plan. can you help me with it?"

Britestar flys into the prison looking to help get the prisoners out safely.

Krane raises his hands in a non-threatening way, frustrated. He didn't come here to fight with the FBI and so far his actions have done little to help (except for helping to take out Clawthor). Silently he shifts his pool to physical damage resistance.

Trying to use his presence in a non-threatening way he says, "Take it easy, I'm not here to fight you. I just came to help. I'm not one of the bad guys. Just let me help."

As Krane pleads with the FBI not to shoot him (maybe "plead is a strong word), the agents around the fellow who opened fire realize that all is not well with their teammate.

"You okay, Ralph?"

"Uh, yeah, I think so. I think I just hallucinated something really weird." The man sees Krane on the ground, and looks confused. "Why's are you guys covering *him*? He's one of the good guys. His name's Krane." His brow creases with worry, and he frowns. "I think my mind has been messed with."

One of the other agents takes the man's rifle away -- he doesn't resist. A couple of them lead him away. The rest of the team resumes their fall-back strategy, and retreats from the prison toward the front gate. Some of them are still covering Krane, but the majority of them are covering the prison, in case Ash shows himself again.

It would appear that the FBI no longer consider Krane an active target. Warily, he rises to his feet: they make no action, more interested now on retreating before more of them fall under mental attack.


Meanwhile, Prism makes it up to third floor, where he sees and hears Glimmer giving her speech to the prisoners she is releasing. The hazy woman seems to have some way of seeing him even when he's invisible. She also seems to know who he is.

"prism, i've got something of a plan," she says. "can you help me with it?"


Two floors up, Britestar flies further into the prison (leaving the unconscious body of Ash where it is), looking for prisoners in danger. What he finds isn't pleasant. Most of the prisoners on the fifth floor have been roasted -- the smell is overpowering, like burned pork. A few cells toward the far end of the wing (the end away from the hole, nearer where Krane is) are empty, however: there is a large hole at the bottom of each cell, through which the prisoners might have escaped to the floor below. Theoretically, the holes would lead to the cells one floor down. Puzzling. In any case, the only people alive on the fifth floor are Britestar and Ash.


Grendel and Kakker, both entwined in the huge red cloak of the psychopath, plummet to the ground floor and land on a pile of rubble. Nearby is the bloody, broken body of the woman Grendel called Marguerite. Neither Kakker nor Grendel are injured by the fall, and both men leap to their feet in defensive postures. Soon after, the lithe form of El Langosto joins them, landing far more gracefully than the first two. Grendel backs into the prison, away from the hole and toward the undamaged central area. He doesn't turn his back on the heroes -- he seems ready for them to pounce.

Adaptor lands next to El Langosto, and his movements as he lands are almost mechanical; more like a coiled spring than like El Langosto's catlike grace. All three men stand in the starlight, under the hole that Glimmer and White Noise (who is still unconscious on the third floor -- you can see his feet from the ground) somehow blasted through the prison.

In the shadow of the overhanging prison roof, Grendel waits, claws flexing.

"Ah," Grendel says. "It would appear that our little tete-a-tete has come to an end."

The Vanguard radios then confirm what Grendel says. "Team, this is Emerald." The normally easy-going martial artist sounds angry and upset. "We have been ordered by the FBI to withdraw. If we don't, we'll be arrested and charged with obstructing justice. On top of that, I'm told that anyone who's on the prison grounds and not in a cell when the FSPD arrive will be fired on." She sounds disgusted. "They told me, and now I've told you. Emerald out."

Krane ->  K
 (ground)   ____         ____
           [    ]       [    ]
           [    ]       [    ]
Prism ->   [  P ]       [    ]
Glimmer -> [  G ]       [    ]  EAST
(3rd fl.)  [    ]       [    ]
           [    ]_______[    ]
           [    :       :    ]
 Ash ->    [A   :       :    ]
(5th fl.)  [    :_______:    ]
           [    ]       [    ]
Grendel -> [ G  ]       [    ]
Kakker ->  [KLAW] <-    [    ]
Langosto   [    ] White [    ]
Adaptor    [    ] Noise [    ]
(1st fl.)  [____] (3rd  [____]

   E <- Emerald outside fences

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