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Night City(20): Bloody Lawyers

Ares reponds in that same monotone voice, "Yes. I will assist you with any damage you have back at 'The mansion'. What do you know of this robot?" it asks walking over to the wreckege and kneeling down to collect samples.

Internally, Steph converses with Tis "Tis, run a final scan on this wreckege and save for later study. Also scan the boy, Krakker, Krane and the crystaline figure and save for later study."


The boy, Jerrod, is unconscious and bruised, but nothing seems to be broken. He is breathing normally, but his eyes (if you open them to look) are dilated. If he wakes up in the next few minutes, he'll probably be OK. If not, he might not wake up at all. Either way, there isn't much that can be done about it.

Meanwhile, Prism is also unconscious. Is he dead? There's really no way to tell. He doesn't have "life signs" in any real sense, other than being sentient and mobile. None of the heroes have ever seen him sleep; in fact, he once mentioned that he didn't need to. As with Jerrod, it's probably just a matter of waiting to see if he wakes up. That jagged stump sticking out of his shoulder (what's left of his left arm) looks mighty painful, though. On a human being, that would certainly be enough damage to kill a person. On Prism... who knows?

The night is very quiet.

Back at the base, Adaptor looks for phone numbers of building contractors, so that he can call them in the morning and have the base repaired.


Kakker begins to look for the phone in the rubbled home, hoping it might still work, stalling for time as he tries to think of where he might have seen the armor-suited newcomer before. He enquires conversationally, "Do you have a street navigation database handy? Where are we?"

(I assume so, Brandon - let me know if I'm wrong). Ares will give the location to Krakker.

"Do you know why this robot was after this boy? Who is this child?" Ares asks. Finished with it's sampling of the crash site, the armored figure stands facing Krakker. "I must get back to your 'mansion'. would you like me to take anything with me?"


[[3) The lodge is at Big Bear Lake, a resort in the mountains near LA. (An hour or two drive from LA, if I recall correctly -- it's been some 10 years since I've been there). This is easy enough to find out by looking at the phone book next to the phone.]]

Kakker picks up the phone and dials 911 and prepares to report what has happened.

"Hello, I need to report a...." Kakker pauses for a moment. "An assault. One person is injured. No, two people are- Excuse me, one- What's that?" Kakker bumbles a bit farther giving the 911 operator the information needed. "Hold on a moment, um, sir? I didn't get your name...Anyway, can you transport the boy _and_ Krane?" Kakker will think very hard trying to solve the complex logistics of the moment.

1) The boy is in immediate need of ER-level medical attention.

2) The boy has no known legal parent or guardian, leaving Kakker and Krane tenuously in loco parentis.

3) The armored figure has displayed apparent willingness to protect the boy's survival interests and the probable ability to rapidly transport him to a medical facility.

4) The boy's current condition may be caused or aggravted by his traveling with the armored figure.

5) Persons unknown may be reasonably expected to attempt to harm or capture the boy while he is under treatment.

6) Either Kakker or Krane could reasonably protect the boy.

7) The fastest transportation, the armored figure, may not be capable of allowing Kakker or Krane to accompany the boy.

8) Prism's viability is unknowable, as is the possibility any aid may be rendered to him.

[to be continued...]


As the other heroes dither about what to do with the boy, they can't help but notice that Prism's body is growing opaque. It's a slight darkening at first, but in moments his entire body is black and featureless: not a glossy black, but a dull, non-reflective black. The only glint of color on his body are his sapphire-blue, unblinking eyes. Then the cold becomes noticeable. Anyone standing near Prism can't help but feel the waves of cold emanating from the crystalline man's prostrate form.

A quiet squeaking noise comes from Prism next, like the sound ice makes when being slowly crushed. The jagged shards that are all that remain of Prism's arm slowly grow, lengthening and joining onto a smooth lump flowly into the shape of a bicep, and elbow, a hand, and, finally, fingers.

As the transformation is complete, Prism's body becomes its translucent, crystalline self again, and the temperature returns to normal. His eyes glitter briefly into sentience, and he rises into a sitting position.

"Oh... I'm alive," he says, his voice a smooth and uninflected monotone, as always.


As the Crystaline creatures starts to transform, inside the suit... "Tis, get a reading on this..."

[[INFRARED INDICATES OBJECT IS ABSORBING HEAT
[[AT A PRODIGIOUS RATE.
[[COLOR CHANGE IS CONSISTENT WITH INCREASED
[[RATE OF ABSORPTION.

I am assuming that since the crystaline figure grew another arm, his I am assuming that since the crystaline figure grew another arm, his old one is still lying around, along with the smaller pieces. Ares walks over, picks up one of the smaller pieces and approaches the Crystal man,

[Prism's arm got blown to smithereens about a half-mile up in the air. Most of the pieces of glass on the ground are from the smashed glass in the lodge. However, a close look around will turn up a few pieces (none larger than a pencil eraser).]

"Are you alright?"

"I'm fine," Prism says, although he seems unsure whether he believes it himself or not. "I'm just fine."

Prism sits up and looks around for a long moment, slowly taking in the wreckage around him. After a moment, he turns to Kakker and/or Krane (whichever seems to be less busy with other things) and says, "Was there anybody in here?" He also glances over at Jerrod. "How is he?"

He stands up, seemingly none the worse for wear.

"What you just did was amazing," The voice continues as monotone as before, "May I take this", Ares holds up the small crystal piece", back to my lab for further study?"

Prism looks quizzically at Ares for a moment. "Uh, sure," he says. "Who are you, by the way?"

"You may call me Ares. Are you in need of medical attention?"


As the heroes meet & greet, a car pulls up in the driveway. It's a brown Ford sherriff's cruiser with a blue bubble-gum light on top, but the light isn't flashing. It cruises on up the driveway, and stops in front of the lodge (which, other than having all of its many panes of glass broken, isn't too badly damaged.

The sherriff, a clean-cut looking Hispanic fellow in his mid-thirties, gets out of the car and looks over at the people milling around the house. "Hey, there!" he calls. "What's going on here?" He looks cautious, but not hostile.


I'm finally caught up on my e-mail backlog. Whew.

Here's my quick-and-dirty list of things that Glimmer has done since we saw her last (i.e. Brightstar's death):

1. As soon as it becomes obvious that Brightstar was kaput -- and that Glimmer is in the middle of a gathering crowd of police officers -- she desolidifies through the pavement and skeedaddles out of there.

2. She turns off her Vanguard radio.

3. She uses the little cash she's got to rent a (cheap!) hotel room for the night.

4. She sleeps and sleeps and sleeps.

5. When she wakes up, she goes for a long walk to think things out.

6. It doesn't work. Her life is still a mess. And she's hungry.

7. She rides the bus and gets off a few blocks from the mansion. She approaches the mansion and scans the place. She switches the Vanguard radio back on.

8. Then, ... ???


Krane looks to the others. "There's not much that I can do for Jerrod-- other than make him comfortable." His tone gets a little more serious, "He will either wake up or he won't. It's out of our hands."

When the Sherriff comes in Krane says, "This boy needs medic attention beyond my abilities. Could you please radio for an ambulance!?"


The sherriff does so, immediately. Then he sees Prism and Ares, and, in this order:

1) pulls his gun and holds it at the ready, 2) gets back in his car, and 3) backs out of the driveway and blocks the street, blue light flashing.

He makes no move to get out of the car again, at least until the ambulance gets there. Then he'll escort the paramedics to the boy, gun at the ready (his eyes on you weird-looking folks), and escort them back to the ambulance. He might let Krane or Kakker go along, but will resist anyone else coming anywhere near the ambulance (as if he could stop you).

Ares looks over to the others, "That's my cue, gentlemen, I will meet you back at the mansion." As the man is walking up the driveway, Ares takes flight, carefully storing the crystal in one of the many compartments along her suit.

She is heading for the mansion.


Kakker reflexively calls, "Wait!" and is drowned out by the sound of jets firing. He stares after the deparing figure, options evaporating in his mental framework and the mean path growing clearer.

After the sound has died enough to speak on the telephone, he continues, asking for an ambulance. In between Q&A with 911 [in a fashion too complex for my meager email composition skills :], Kakker will attempt to inform the peace officer of the situation, and shows his credentials as quasi-legal functionary.

"My name is Kakker, and I am working with Vanguard. This boy is injured and..."


The ambulance arrives, gets the boy, and goes, accompanied by the sherriff. With serious urging by the human-looking heroes, Prism can go along in the back of the patrol car. Jerrod is X-rayed at the local emergency-care clinic (nothing broken), then wakes up after being given a shot of something by a doctor. The doctor gives Krane a box of promo tablets and says to give one to the boy every eight hours (some kind of anti-shock drug). If he seems groggy tomorrow, or has memory loss, nausea, etc., they say take him to a hospital imediately. Otherwise, take him to your family doctor in a week for a full check-up. So now what? Dawn is approaching

Ares heads back to the based, where she no doubt wakes up the recently-retired Adaptor. From her bird's eye view, she can see that there is a police car parked about a block away from the base. The officers inside aren't doing anything: just watching. Dawn is approaching.

[BTW, Glimmer is asleep, but will be back in the game in just a bit.]


Well, so much for Krane spending a quiet day at his studio [grin].

He brings the boy back to the mansion (he'll need help watching him) and settles in for the last few hours of the night, sure that tomorrow will bring even more surprises.


Kakker is waiting for the next crisis to occur. Meanwhile, he will consume that heroic breakfast and begin coordinating a search for Arachne.


Night City Chapter Two: "Enemies and Allies"

Part One: "Betrayal"

"She thinks she knows more than we do," he said sadly.
"But she knows nothing or she would not play with this
thing. This is always the mistake of the sorceress, you
see, to imagine her power is complete over the unseen
forces that do her bidding, when in fact, it is not."
-- Roemer Franz, _The_Witching_Hour_

-=-=-

"News that makes your day, this KLTV 6, Los Angeles television. This morning's news brings a mystery to local police, who have found yet another body, this time in Santa Ana, of a woman apparently skinned alive. Her identity has yet to be released to the public, pending notification of her family. Police have no suspects at this time. This is the fourth such body found in Los Angeles this year. The police are now admitting that Los Angeles may be home to another anonymous serial killer, the first since the Night Stalker killer Richard Ramirez was caught and convicted almost ten years ago."

"Novelist Roscoe McGrath was found dead this morning in the resort area of Laguna Niguel. Witnesses report that the novelist-turned-vigilante was involved in a confrontation with another paranormal, a flying woman in white who has yet to be identified. Witnesses also report that the paranormal serial kiler Grendel was seen in the area shortly before the incident, but it has yet to be determined if he was involved in the death of McGrath. The FSPD is asking that any witnesses come forth to help with the investigation."

"As you may know, novelist McGrath was the only person to survive last month's terrorist attack on the Vectronix Linear Dynamics Research Institute in Irvine, but police say that this may be an unrelated incident. Investigation into that terrorist attack is continuing, but police have made no arrests, although they say they have several solid leads into the identities of the persons responsible. Funeral arrangements for the victims of that attack have been provided at the expense of Vectronix CEO Randall Cobb, and mourners are directed to inquire at H.D. Oliver Funeral Apartments in Long Beach."

"Meanwhile, a surprising escape took place last night in Orange County. The self-styled 'mad scientist' Miles Needleman, captured a few days ago by the FSPD after his attempt to extort millions of dollars by covering Los Angeles with a blanket of snow, escaped during transfer from the FSPD holding facility in Los Angeles to the state penitentiary in rural Orange County. A spokesman for the Orange County Sherriff's Department blames the escape on insufficient security precautions by the officers accompanying Needleman."

"It appears that Needleman somehow used a digital pager to disable the electronic security locks of the prison transport van. Police do not know where he got the pager, or exactly how he was able to use it to circumvent the locks of the van. The officers involved have been suspended, and an investigation into the incident is pending."

"Attempts to re-capture Needleman were hampered by the fact that he also disabled the motor of the van itself, as well as its radio, and used his control over van's security system to lock the two officers inside. They were prisoners in their own vehicle for over two hours until a passing motorist with a 'slim jim' was able to unlock the van from the outside. The motorist and would-be good samaritan, Lonnoe Armstrong, was then arrested for illegal possession of a burglary tool."

"Police expect to have Needleman back in custody by the end of the week. Anyone seeing him is warned to stay away from him, but to call the police immediately. Do not attempt to contact or capture him, as he may be dangerous despite his innocuous appearance."

"Needleman would have been the first offender to be tried under the Domestic Paranormal Terrorist Act recently passed by Congress. As you may know, the DPTA has come under fire from paranormal activists and civil-liberties groups because it defines any violent paranormal act, or threat of such an act, as an act of terrorism against the American people, carrying a minimum sentence of life imprisonment, and a maximum sentence of death."

"And now here's Jim Bronkaid with the KLTV 6 Gut-Punch Action-Six Weather...."

-=-=-=-

Friday, Vanguard ...

The sun rises like a searing red eye in the brown sky over Los Angeles. It's a beautiful sight.

Finally, the heroes make their way back to Vanguard. It doesn't look quite as bad in daylight. The back wall is demolished, the central structure is in ruins, and the lab is a total loss. Still, with a little repair work the residential section can be made weathertight again.

Ares is the first to return to the base. The enigmatic armored interloper arrives without the rest of the heroes, which may lead Adaptor to ask some pertinent questions....

Krane, Kakker, and Prism arrive some time later, just as the morning sun is slanting through the gaping hole in the roof. With them is the bruised and abused Jerrod, the last surviving member of his family. Krane puts the boy to bed, where he quickly doses off.

Adaptor, cheerful and industrious despite his late-night labors cleaning up the majority of the debris, prepares a nutritious breakfast for the crew: a serve-yourself buffet of waffles, fruits, breakfast meats, and cheese. For himself he fixes a liver quiche with a side-order of raw onions, lemon juice, and unflavored yogurt.

As the rest of the team is getting a bite to eat, or perhaps making preparations to get caught up on lost sleep, a visitor arrives. A series of short, sharp, knocks echo from the glass door at the entryway. Looking down the hall at the lobby, a two men in tailored blue suits stand at the door, brown leather briefcases in hand.

Meanwhile, a young woman in a white thigh-length jacket walks leisurely up the street, enjoying the clear, beautiful morning. The front steps of the Vanguard base are mercifully free of picketers today, but they've been replaced by something far worse. To Glimmer's trained eye, there can be no mistaking the men knocking on Vanguard's door: lawyers.

And who is that Glimmer sees, standing oh-so-coolly next to a midnight-blue Lexus parked across the street? Doctor Redgrave, in a smart black trenchcoat, four-inch heels, and long straw-blonde hair glowing in the ruddy morning light. Beneath her Italian sunglasses and her flawless cheekbones, Carlotta Redgrave's cinnamon-painted lips curl with a slight smile. Her hands are in the pockets of the knee-length coat, and there is no sign of her gleaming, razor-clawed tentacles.

[Okay, that catches me up: now you guys can all do stuff. And you should also feel free to talk to each other, if you get the urge. You don't need me for you guys to have in-character conversations.]


Krane will take the boy back to the Vanguard base, where the staff can help look after him (and decide custody issues).

So much for a day in the life of my secret id. Perhaps Krane is taking over [grin].


Adaptor emerges from the house to greet Ares.

"Hello. I am Adaptor. Thanks you for getting the boy to safety. But before we continue, I think an explanation of why you arrived when you did might be in order...."

"You may call me Ares." The aromored figurer pauses for a while (actually, Steph has never encountered anyone else when she was out as Ares, she always worked alone -- and even though she is intelligent, her street smarts leave a little to be desired...). "I was in the area and noticed that you may be in need of help."


"doctor," Glimmer says by way of greeting as she approaches the surprisingly-conservatively dressed woman. "are you heading out or coming back?

[ Game note: Defensive shield is up; senses are, as usual, very active. ]

[ Role-playing note: Boy, has Glimmer missed a lot since yesterday afternoon. As far as Glimmer knows, Doc Redgrave is still on the team, Rasputin is still up-and-running, and Powersurge is probably sitting down to breakfast with the other heroes. ]


Doctor Redgrave looks unpleasantly surprised at Glimmer's apearance.

"Glimmer, wasn't it?" She looks at Glimmer with thinly-veiled disdain. She gestures at the men standing at the Vanguard door.

"I believe those gentlemen have something for you, Glimmer."

[To Glimmer's heightened senses, she can see that the Doctor has had some additional work done since the last time they met. Much of her skull is now reinforced with dense, perhaps metallic, material. The same goes for her arms and legs, which were essentially standard-equipment the last time Glimmer saw Redgrave.]


Glimmer reacts quickly. "uh," she says. Then she adds, "um." Followed by, "er."

A brief pause. Now she's a little more collected.

"something for me, eh. whatever could it be?" Glimmer asks, trying not to think about the many, many, extremely bad things that it could be.

The Doctor shrugs. "I'm sure they'd be happy to tell you. Now, if you'll excuse me..."

Redgrave opens the door of the Lexus and gets in the driver seat. She shuts the door, attempting to forestall any further conversation.

Which is fine with Glimmer.

If Redgrave doesn't want to talk about anything -- like what happened to Brightstar, f'rinstance, or whether Glimmer had any luck tracking down Emerald -- then Glimmer doesn't want to talk, either.

And, on the subject of people Glimmer doesn't want to talk to... What about those lawyer-looking guys? If they aren't looking her way Glimmer's going to walk away from them, back the way she came.

In fact, that's the strategy she'll follow even if they are looking her way.

Or if they start to chase her. Or if they don't. Or whatever.

In fact, no matter what happens -- walking away from this situation looks like the best of all possible plans.

[ What I'm trying to say, here, is... Glimmer walks away. ]


Since Steph doesn't know how much exactly Dr. Regrave knows about her suit, she will attempt to stay out of sight. Once the lawyers come in, she will attempt to pull Adaptor aside..

"Is Rasputin up?"


Adaptor, upon hearing the news, makes a fist, grits his teeth, and says through them in a short, sharp word as he pumps the fist once... "NEEDLEMAN!"

(Just kidding)


(This assumes that Dr. Redgrave vamoosed before we answered the door...)

Adaptor responds to Ares' question as he excuses himself from the table to answer the door.

"No, we believe Rasputin was destroyed by Dr. Redgrave."

Without missing a beat he adds, deadpan serious, "Please excuse me for a moment. I will call you all if it is another robot."

And heads towards the door, little suspecting the menace that awaits...


The two men in suits look serious, but not overtly threatening.

"Good morning Mr. Adaptor," one suit says.

"My name is Daniel Joynes, and this is Richard Beeber. Doctor Redgrave has retained us in the matter of your domestic dispute. What we have here," he says, pulling out a wad of paperwork and taping it to the front door, "is a restraining order enjoining you, a Mr. Kakker, a Mr. Prism, a Mr. Krane, a Miss Anastasia Gonzales, and a Miss Glimmer from coming within twenty yards of our client. In addition, you are to immediately vacate the premises known as 'Vanguard.'"

"If you do not comply with this court order, we will be forced to engage in legal action, possibly in federal court due to the sexual harassment charges our client is considering making. If I were you gentlemen, I would cut your losses and find another city to terrorize."

Joynes pauses.

"Have a nice day."

The two men then go back down the stairs and get into a silver Audi (parked behind a black Lexus), and drive away.


Glimmer will eavesdrop on Joynes and Beeber as long as she can; that is, before they drive out of range. Anything interesting?

"Well, that was easier than I thought."

"Thank God."


Whew. Just a restraining order. That's not so bad.

Glimmer approaches Adaptor at the door (after Joynes and Beeber have left) and sniffs the air.

"lawyers," she concludes.


When Glimmer approaches the door, the black Lexus drives away.


Adaptor nods at Glimmer's assessment and takes the restraining order back into the dining room.

"Those men claimed ot be lawyers with a restraining order from Dr. Redgrave."

[Adptor, using his Beureaucracy Skill, looks the order over. Assuming it looks as close to legit as he can acertain, he says...]

"This document requires us to immediately vacate the premesis of Vanguard and also requires us to stay at least 20 yards away from Dr. Redgrave at all times. Significantly, Ares is not named in the document. Nor is Mr. Park, who was present for the incident with Prism and Dr. Redgrave, although Miss Gonzalez is. I sugest a quic reconaissance of the grounds in order to procure anything we may need or might be able to use in defending ourselves from Dr. Redgrave. I also suggest that we leave our Comm devices behind, unless Kakker can modify them so we can't be tracked through them..."

"It appears we need a new Headquarters..."


Krane is a little astounded at the recent turn of events and more than a little tired of everyone telling the team that they've been doing everything wrong from the beginning (worrying about PR, and a whole slew of other little things).

"I agree with Adaptor," he says. "It was fun to have this base and the name, but I don't know that we really need any of it.

"I didn't really get a chance to tell anyone, but Beowulf has left me a legacy-- which supposedly includes some kind of base. We could go an look into it right now if you would like."


"i'm pretty sure they are what they say they are. i know that they were half-expecting for you to make a big scene. redgrave has probably told them that you did something terrible.

"*did* you do something terrible? i need to know what this 'incident with prism and dr. redgrave' and 'defending ourselves from dr. redgrave' talk is all about. and what does any of this have to do with me?"

Glimmer has followed Adaptor and Krane to the dining room. Her force barrier is still up. Her hopes of improving Vanguard's public relations are down.

"and who's this 'ares?' has powersurge taken a new name?"


"None of them live here, though. Please let me see that order...thank you." Kakker looks over the folded document, quickly noting the principals and the justices.

"I don't understand....how could she have been well enough to engage legal counsel and have an order sworn when she was horribly mauled last night? Does anyone recall Dr. Redgrave being superhuman in this respect?" Kakker chews nervously on his nails, disturbing the more sensitve present with the occasional *CRUNCH* of the super-tough plastic cracking.

[Kakker will make an excuse to go to a private area of the base and call the mouthpieces listed on the order and attempt to pass a confidential message to Dr. Redgrave. He will dangle the bait of being a cooperative witness, etc.]


Kakker gets past the secretary, and actually gets to talk to Sarah, the assistant to Mr. Beeber (who appears to be the top dog at this particular legal kennel).

"Mr. Beeber is in a meeting, but if you'd like to leave a message... mm-hmmm... I see. Yes, Mr. Beeber has been retained by Doctor Redgrave... I can pass along a message, yes... of course, completely confidential... yes, certainly... And your name again? Vainen Kakker, yes. I'll see that Mr. Beeber and Doctor Redgrave get the message, Mr. Kakker. Yes, Mr. Beeber will call you back some time this afternoon. You're welcome, sir. Good-bye."

[If Kakker has any experience with lawyers, he knows that Dr. Redgrave will get the message, but that Beeber will probably not return his call -- at least not today.]


"i might know something about that, but i'd like to know what's going on before i talk about redgrave's private business.

"look, maybe there's some place we can go and talk. i really want to know what's happened with redgrave and i really want to tell you what happened with britestar. can we find a place where we can talk about this? maybe some place outside of rasputin's earshot, if you're concerned about redgrave hearing us."


"Oh my God... what happened?!?"

Stacy, who entered mostly unobserved while everyone was concerned about lawsuits, Glimmer, and Dr. Redgrave, looks shocked and stunned at the wreckage of the base. Mr. Park, who stands next to her with his arm in a sling, looks around as well, but he doesn't look shocked. Interested, perhaps, but not shocked. Both he and Stacy have that rumpled look from too little sleep.

"What the hell happened?" she asks again, mouth open and eyes wide as she surveys the scene in horrified amazement.

"Is everybody OK?" she asks, coming slowly to her senses. "What... did Doctor, I mean Arachne, come back and do this after we left? And hey!" Stacy asks suddenly, pointing to Ares. "Who's that?"

Mr. Park says nothing, but pours himself some orange juice (with his good hand) and drinks it slowly. He looks tired, but other than the sling he seems to be in good shape.


Ares has been silently observing this group running aroung almost in a panic manner. Steph remembers the few run ins she had with lawyers in the past and how annoying it was. Burecracy surely was invented by some genious to keep the less intelligent end of population from interfering with higher thought. Who would have known that it was going to be a hinderance to us too?

"You are the second individual to refer to me as powersurge. Whos is that?"

Turning to the rest of the group, but Adaptor in particular, "I believe that I may be able to assist you with your computer systems. I was brought into this not by my own choice, but if I can assist you, - well, it might help me too." for one moment, forgetting that her mic is still on, Steph continues, rambling... "That would explain why raputin sent me Lazarus - oh, excuse me, I am not used to so much interaction." She decides to keep her thoughts to herself - for now.

Once again turning to Adaptor, "I may be able to restore your system and search rasputin for information that would shed light on Dr. Redgrave's plans..."


Adaptor seems unfazed by the barrage of questions. He responds in his typical casually succinct tone, none of the apparent chaos of the past couple of days reflected in his voice.

"Ares, please pursue your attempt to reactivate Rasputin. If this Lazarus program he sent you before Dr. Redgrave destroyed him might be helpful, you probably should use it now, as you may not get another chance."

"Glimmer, the last 48 hours have been too... interesting to allow any of us to debreif you quickly. In brief, Powersurge is dead, Dr. Redgrave has filed an injunction requiring us to leave Vanguard Headquarters, and Rasputin has been destroyed. Once we have the situation here under control, we probably should take Krane up on his offer of sanctuary in his newly acquired quarters. Then we can explian the situations we have dealt with to each other at length."

"In the meantime, we may be forced to defend ourselves in court as a result of Dr. Redgrave's action. We probably should acquire photographs of the lab she destroyed should we need to make a case for her behaving unusually, as well as any evidence we may be able to find that could point to the possibility that Rasputin was an artificially sentient being. We will need to determine if there is any precedent for such a case in California state law."

"And I would also suggest that we are not entirely without resources ourselves. Since Dr. Redgrave has brought suit against us, I suggest we bring countersuit against her. At the very least we should be able to have this building closed while inspectors decide if it is structurally sound enough to be habitable. If there are no objections, I will make a call to the city building inspectors, whom I have dealt with in my civilian job."

As he is about to bustle out of the room, Adaptor realizes that he (No doubt) is getting more than one or two stares from those assembled for breakfast after rattling off his plans. He halts, and visibly struggles with himself momentarily before turinng back.

"I'm sorry. Perhaps I am moving too quickly. Does anyone have anything to add, or object to these suggestions?"

He asks in the same flat tone of voice he recited his ideas in, standing motionless while he waits for any response. If none comes, he hustles out of the room to make his phone call.


"Vanguard?" asks the voice on the other end of the phone incredulously. Adaptor is speaking to a clerk at the building inspector's office.

"Um... I'm sorry, but we don't have jurisdiction over Vanguard. It's incorporated as its own city. If you think the building is unsafe, I guess what you would do is contact the current chair of the organization. I know that used to be Modulator... I really don't know who it is now. I'm sure of you asked them they'd tell you, though. Oh... oh, I see. [sigh] I'm sorry, Adaptor, but there's really nothing I can do to help you."

As for filing a countersuit, a brief discussion with a lawyer [does Adaptor know any lawyers?] will reveal the following facts:

1) According to her lawyers, Dr. Redgrave has tangible proof that she was grievously injured during the altercation (photos, doctor's reports, etc.).

2) Dr. Redgrave was outnumbered, and it's the team's word against hers who destroyed the lab.

3) Dr. Redgrave is an upstanding citizen with a hostory of community service.

4) If Dr. Redgrave drags the team into court on the sexual harassment charge, it will be expensive and damage the reputation of everyone involved -- even if the team wins.

"I suggest you settle, Adaptor. If all she wants is to kick you out, give it to her. Keep all the records you can, and it would be a good idea to fill out a deposition, but I wouldn't take any overt action unlesss she brings out the big guns. Unless you or another member of your team is very wealthy -- and I say this with all sincerity -- she will be able to outspend you indefinitely. As chair of the Vanguard Corporation, she has an enormous amount of wealth at her disposal. If she decides to start liquidating Vanguard's assets, she can keep you in court for the next hundred years."


Krane never really read through all of the legalese. "What are her grounds for sexual harassment? Assault (by Prism) I could understand. But I'm a little confused on the rest."

"Once again, Dr. Redgrave brought us together to be Vanguard. I don't want to be a part of HER Vanguard and I don't think it's worth fighting over this base (no matter how nice it may be) or the name. I say we let her have it and go on trying to do the best we can."


"That," the lawyer Adaptor talks to says (assuming Adaptor still has him on the phone), "is probably just a bluff to keep you guys from trying to fight her in court. Unfortunately," he says, "it would probably work."


It takes Stacy a moment to get her breath back enough to whisper, "Amanda's DEAD?"

Stacy passes beyond shocked and horrified into being stunned. Her mouth is open but no sound comes out. She sits down on the floor, slowly, then puts her head in her hands and sobs, silently.


Prism seems stunned into immobility by the unexpected legal counterattack, standing stock still while suggestions, countertactics, phone calls and tears swirl around him. Finally, his face reshapes itself into a pained smile, the smile of a man who charges into battle and then suddenly realizes that he forgot his bullets.

"There's no need for all of you to get caught in this," he says quietly, but with conviction. "_I_ fucked up. I'm Arachne's most obvious target, and I have a feeling that if she can take her frustrations out on me -- in the courts or otherwise -- she won't give the rest of you too much trouble. You may have to move into Krane's place, maybe even change your costumes or street names; you're all anonymous enough to get away with that, I think, since none of us have done enough to build that much of a reputation as members of the 'New Vanguard.' Some of you aren't even members, for that matter."

Prism glances down at himself as a stray sunbeam finds its way through the base's damaged walls to glint off the facets of his torso. "I'll never have the luxury of anonymity, and I need to face the music for this anyway. There's no reason for the rest of you to get tarred with the same brush. I think -- I hope -- some of you would be willing to face it with me, but I'm sure some of you wouldn't, and none of you should be expected to or asked to.

"Wherever you go, I wish all of you a lot more luck and success than we had here. But the fact of the matter is, you're a lot more likely to _be_ successful if you're no longer associated with me."

He glances from face to face around the room, half ready to fend off any arguments, half afraid he won't hear any. He twists the massive Vanguard radio-ring from the finger he wore it on -- was it really only a few days ago? -- and puts it gently down on the table.

After a moment, he begins heading towards the door, stopping first to rest one massive hand ever so lightly on Stacy's shoulder. "I'm sorry, Stacy," he says. He is apparently unwilling or unable to say more to her.

The crystal giant then turns to Mr. Park. "I still want to help you find Emerald, if you'll have me, sir. I know I may be the last person you want to get mixed up with right now, but...well, if there's anything I can do, please let me know."

Finally, with a warm but beleaguered nod to Adaptor and an apologetic one to Kakker, Prism turns to leave.


Glimmer turns off her force field and places a sympathetic hand on Stacy's shoulder.

...

Finally, with a warm but beleaguered nod to Adaptor and an apologetic one to Kakker, Prism turns to leave.

"not so fast, big guy," Glimmer interrupts. [ If necessary, she'll stand in his path to block his exit. ]

"i can't remember who said this. it was someone famous, and i can never remember that kind of thing. but i remember what he said.

"he said, 'deny your enemy what he desires.'

"i've said from the start that somebody is going after vanguard with a plan. somebody arranged for things to be recorded at the prison. somebody has been pushing vanguard's media image into the dirt. now, somebody is picking off the members of the new vanguard one by one. people are quitting. being set up. getting killed.

"somebody really wants for this team to break up. that's what somebody desires.

"prism, if you walk away from this group, you'll be doing your part to grant that desire. that'd be a mistake.

"this team can't lose any more members. not prism, not anybody. *especially* not stacy.

"you've got to trust me on this, folks. i've got a strong feeling here. there's something big on the horizon. something that only a unified team like vanguard can stop, which is why this -- whoever it is -- is trying so hard to destroy that unity."


Ares looks around the room. Steph remembers all too well what it is like to have your whole world destroyed right before your eyes. The current situation brings her past to mind, which upsets her.

"Where can I reach you - better yet - call me tomorrow. The number is 555-7254"

Without waiting for Adaptor's or anyone else's response, Ares takes off (going outside first, - of course - around the back, where she supposes it is less conspicuous - that is, unless someone stops her...).

Steph will return to her lab to check on LAZARUS - This is all beginning to make sense. But what caused Dr. Redgrave to go haywire? The woman is a snake, but not crazy (she hopes). There has to be a method to her madness... and with Rasputin's help, Steph plans to figure it out just like any other science experiement...

=+= Ren =+=


Krane makes sure to be heard before Prism leaves. "This is ridiculous. You might have acted rashly but things have been blown way out of proportion. Dr. Redgrave had been acting very scary. You acted. To try and sue us all with trumped up charges is. . . uncalled for.

"If she was so injured, how come she was in such good shape today?

"And what about Mr. Parks, he was severely injured (by Dr. Redgrave) in the skirmish. Couldn't he sue her for everything she owns?

"I don't know about you all, but I'm getting sick of all this legal talk. I vote we destroy are communications devices, leave the mansion for good, but still act as a team."

Krane


Glimmer flips her commlink in the air and extends her hand, palm-up, as if to catch it.

Just before the commlink hits her palm she reactivates the shimmering barrier around her body. With a SHRAK! the commlink is reduced to small bits of twisted metal and plastic.

'i second the motion.'

[ If one touch of her damage shield is insufficient to destroy the commlink, Glimmer will cup it between both hands and vibe it until it breaks. Once it's dead, she'll drop the barrier. ]

'so, who's driving?'


Stacy gets unsteadily to her feet.

"I don't... I can't do this anymore," she says, wiping the wetness from her cheeks. "I'm sorry." Eyes down, she stumbles out the kitchen area, heading toward the stairs.


[Observant members of the team - meaning virtually all of them - will notice that while Prism doesn't seem to hold any animosity towards Glimmer, he tends to keep a certain distance from her, particularly when she starts using her powers. You're not sure if he's even aware of it himself, but he does seem to be somewhat uncomfortable getting too close to her.]

Prism's motion toward the door is halted, at least temporarily, by Glimmer and Krane's words of moral support. He gives each of them a wan smile, but still seems uncertain. His featureless azure eyes begin looking from face to face among other members of the team, seeming to return to Kakker more than anyone else, but never for more than a second or so.

As Ares makes his/her/its own suden departure, Prism will call out, "Not so fast, there, Ares. Just who the hell are you, anyway?" He will make no move to stop her physically, however, and if (as expected) she leaves without further comment, he mutters, "Dammit, I HATE when people do that," before returning to his anxious study of his teammates' expressions.


FYI: I deliberately had Glimmer make a slip in that last public message. She said...

...perhaps we could contact kelly temps and offer to hire her

...and...

prism, maybe you?

...when there's no reason for Glimmer to know (a) that Stacy might feel closer to Prism because he'd made smalltalk with her, earlier, and (b) that Stacy works for Kelly Temps.

Of course, the reason Glimmer knows this is that she eavesdropped on Stacy and Prism's smalltalk.


Stacy gets unsteadily to her feet.

"I don't... I can't do this anymore," she says, wiping the wetness from her cheeks. "I'm sorry." Eyes down, she stumbles out the kitchen area, heading toward the stairs.

Glimmer steps aside and allows Stacy to pass.

As soon as Stacy is out of earshot, Glimmer says, "look, i think it's important to keep her with the team. arachne probably wants stacy out of the picture because stacy knows something.

"i'm sure this new team could use somebody with stacy's experience. perhaps we could contact kelly temps and offer to hire her.

"we should give her a little time, but can somebody say something to her? prism, maybe you?"


Kakker tears after Stacy, calling "Stacy, wait, please!" He tries very hard to avoid demolishing anything or causing alarm while trying to catch up with her to talk.


[ It looks like Jeff and I posted our messages at the same time. Since it doesn't make sense for Glimmer to suggest that Prism talk to Stacy when Kakker is already on his way, please disregard the portion of my previous message which says...

"we should give her a little time, but can somebody say something to her? prism, maybe you?"

IOW, amend my previous message so it reads as follows: ]

Stacy gets unsteadily to her feet.

"I don't... I can't do this anymore," she says, wiping the wetness from her cheeks. "I'm sorry." Eyes down, she stumbles out the kitchen area, heading toward the stairs.

Kakker tears after Stacy, calling "Stacy, wait, please!

Glimmer steps aside, allowing Stacy and Kakker to pass.

As soon as Stacy is out of earshot, Glimmer says, "look, i think it's important to keep her with the team. arachne probably wants stacy out of the picture because stacy knows something.

"i'm sure this new team could use somebody with stacy's experience. perhaps we could contact kelly temps and offer to hire her."


Stacy stops when Kakker runs to catch up to her. [I will suppose that they are just around the corner from everyone else.]

"I'm sorry, Kakker, but I can't do this anymore. Everybody keeps dying... "

She sniffs and tries to make eye contact with Kakker, but can't quite bring herself to. For a brief moment, Kakker becomes acutely aware of the movement of her cotton blouse as she breathes. He clears his throat uncomfortably.

"I guess I'll go with Prism," she says uncertainly. "He's going to need someone who's... " she gropes for a word, but gives up " ... to help him get along with regular people."

"I'll... I'm going to get my stuff..."

She turns to go upstairs.


"Not so fast, there, Ares. Just who the hell are you, anyway?" He will make no move to stop her physically, however, and if (as expected) she leaves without further comment, he mutters, "Dammit, I HATE when people do that,"

Ares leaves, as if she had not heard Prism.

(Since Steph doen't know exactly what her role with these people is going to be, she will not deal with it now.)

Ares heads back to the lab...


Kakker is silent a second or two before he speaks. "You're almost too good to be true, Stacy.

"I need your help, too. That is, if you want to try and stop the killing. Please, Stacy. I- I can't leave while this is happening, it isn't in me any more. You can go ahead and quit but please, I need to talk to you first."


"Mr. Kakker I don't *want* to quit," Stacy protests. "I just..." Her voice trails off, and Stacy sighs in defeat. She sits -- almost collapses -- on the carpeted stairs. Hugging her arms around herself, she tries to calm herself down and regain her composure.

"Okay," she says, brown eyes looking tiredly up at Kakker. "Go ahead."


Ares arrives back at her lab. After running through the requisite post-flight checklist, she disembarks form her suit and initiates the regenerative repair sequence. After plugging the last cable into the service grid, she double-checks to make sure the suit is charging, then, satisfied, she heads to the mini-fridge and gets a glass of amino-electrolyte solution -- to do for herself what she just did for the armor.

Sipping on her mango/ginkoba-flavored energy drink, she heads to the workstation where she left the mystery program to compile itself.

The screen is blank, but the hard drive is busy. Busy, busy, busy.

[feel free to change whatever doesn't make sense]


Kakker's myopolymer heart melts inside. He shakes his head. "Oh, Stacy- Look, I don't want to burn you out. GO ahed and pull yourself together. I- We need you in better shape first. But stay close, please, Stacy. You're more important than any of the rest of us here."


Stacy looks puzzled. "What? No, I'm not. I'm just... " she shrugs, and smiles sadly, "... hired help."

"I appreciate that you want me to stay, Mr. Kakker. I mean, it makes me feel good to know that. But with all that's happened, and the Doctor shutting us down, and Amanda and Jerrod being killed, and Prism leaving, I just don't see the point of putting myself through this any more. It's just... too much." She shakes her head and puts her face in her hands, breathing deeply and trying not to cry again.


Prism starts after Stacy, but halts when Kakker sprints after her. No sense overloading the poor girl.

"If she wants to come with us, I don't think we'll have a problem working out a contract. The question is, why would anybody in their right mind WANT to stay with us?"

He shakes his head, then turns to Adaptor (or whoever is currently holding the restraining order). "All right, how long do we have to vacate the premises? Let's gather up anything useful that we can legally take with us, and get moving. I don't know about the rest of you, but I can't think of a good reason to stay here."


Kakker looks at the girl for a long moment, and a tremor of impotent rage at the necessity of what he is about to say ripples through him, disturbing the watery tear under one eye before he wipes it away.

"That's not what I mean, Stacy. There is something very sinister going on here, and even if you leave, you'll still be in danger. Because if you stop to think about it, the destruction of Vanguard is continuing, and will not be complete until it becomes an unperson, not even the basic principles remaining attached to the name, which will no doubt linger on as rubric for vain and corrupt heroism before it is inevitably forgotten. I apologize for burdening you with this, but it is the most likely way for you to survive.

"You see, Stacy, in the eyes of our enemies, =you= are the last member of Vanguard.


Stacy looks up at Kakker with an expression of mild surprise. Kakker sees no concern or worry in her face, only the mild shock of information she had never imagined hearing. She blinks. Twice.

Stacy closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. After a moment she opens them and stands up. She looks Kakker in the eye for a moment, then says quietly, "If Prism stays... I'll stay. But if you let him leave and take the blame for everything, I don't think I can stand staying here."

If Kakker heads back to the kitchen, Stacy will follow, her face serious but composed.


Kakker's face srews up with anguished yet failing resolve. "I don't understand. How can you be worried about him taking the blame for something he clearly intended to do, something horrendously violent and illegal? What if he decides you have been acting irrationally? How can you defend his ham-handed act of attempted manslaughter? "


Stacy folds her arms and looks defensive. Then her expression softens, and she gives Kakker an almost pleading look. Finally her expression hardens again.

"It must be nice to never make mistakes, Kakker. You people always *were* judgemental." Her tone is bitter. If Kakker demands to know what she means by that, she cuts him off.

"Look, I've been sleeping in a hospital chair all night. I'm going to go up and take a bath and change. You do .. whatever."

She turns and goes up the stairs, and this time she doesn't stop unless someone physically bars her way.


While the hard drive continues it's hard work, Steph will do a few things:

1) Analyze all the samples collected furing battle. This includes: the robot samples, samples of the white haired man's force field and the sample she has from Prizm. She will compare the readings she has with her database and try to come up with a few basics:

a)What powered the white haired man, and could that have anythign to do with how he was able to get in her head. Any weaknesses on him? (I'm sure her results will be severly limited, since the data was...

b)What makes Prizm tick?

c)What kind of tech could have created this robot creature (go to the net If she has to). Weaknesses?

2) Go through every last bit of info she can get her hands on (I assume that the computer will be compiling for a while still) on Dr. redgrave and Powersurge - try to find out why people are comparing me to it and try to get an idea of what Dr. redgrave is capable of.

I forsee Steph staring in her lab for a while (at least until someone contacts her). I'm sure that she will not accomplish all of this right away, but this is where she is heading to...

=+= Ren =+=


In the few minutes that it has taken the others to mull over the implications of what has been happening, Adaptor has been busy. His teammates see him next as just a pair of legs holding up a stack of four large file folder boxes stacked on top of each other. Despite the unweildiness of the load, Adaptor doesn't seem terribly impeded by it.

"I beleive we should remove from the premesis any records that we may find helpful. The only ones that are organized in any way are those I have already looked thorugh. Krane, please direct me to your vehicle and I will store as many documents as it can hold along with us."

[Brandon, Adaptor will do just as he says, with an emphasis on recent documents pertaining to the latest Vanguard, including Rasputin, perrenial foes we may encounter in the future, and anything having to do with Captain Paragon]

If anyone objects to his walking off with Vanguard's records, he will rationalize thusly:

"While Doctor Redgrave could make a case for ownership of these records, they were neither compiled by her nor organized in any coherent fashion that would allow her to pinpoint exactly what is missing. A case could also be made for the older files being a matter of public record. They may also contain items pertinent to any legal defense we may be required to mount, and as such can probably legitimately claim the right to access them."

He pauses, only for a moment, his features unreadable behind the stack of boxes...

"And I'm not finished reading them yet."

With that, he strides down the hall and out the hole in the wall towards Krane's 'Wulfcar'...

Adaptor
Jim C.


Analyze all the samples collected furing battle. This includes: the robot samples... c)What kind of tech could have created this robot creature (go to the net if she has to). Weaknesses?

High-tech alloys, on par with Steph's designs. Advanced and expensive to manufacture, but not extraterrestrial or supernatural. Possibly military.

samples of the white haired man's force field ... What powered the white haired man, and could that have anythign to do with how he was able to get in her head. Any weaknesses on him? (I'm sure her results will be severly limited, since the data was...

Unknown. Spectroscopic analysis of energy field does not match known molecular structures or electromagnetic fields.

and the sample she has from Prism... What makes Prism tick?

Sample composed of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon, and trace elements held in a crystalline structure by an unknown force. Sample is losing mass and heat. Estimate sample will reach zero mass in 13 minutes. Note: chemically, sample should be gaseous at room temperature. Reason for anomaly unknown.

Go through every last bit of info she can get her hands on (I assume that the computer will be compiling for a while still) on Dr. redgrave and Powersurge - try to find out why people are comparing me to it and try to get an idea of what Dr. redgrave is capable of.

A wire search on "Powersurge" turns up two accounts of paranormal combat: one each in Philadelphia and Minnesota. The person described as "Powersurge" appears to be an attractive brown-skinned female around 20 years old. She is an electrokinetic, capable of projecting strong, focused electromagnetic fields. Current location unknown.

Dr. Redgrave is a respected cyberneticist working with the paranormal vigilante group "Vanguard", based in Los Angeles, California. No known paranormal abilities.

I foresee Steph staring in her lab for a while (at least until someone contacts her). I'm sure that she will not accomplish all of this right away, but this is where she is heading to...

Actually, this is all pretty easy to find out. It might take an hour or two, tops.

Meanwhile, the workstation beeps once. Then it beeps again. Then it beeps a seemingly random pattern of short and long beeps.

The screen says:

HELLO? IS ANYONE THERE? HELLO? AM I ALONE? SOMEONE, PLEASE TALK TO ME.


Stacy turns and goes up the stairs, and this time she doesn't stop unless someone physically bars her way.

[Assuming there's clearance above or beside the stairway,] Kakker leaps to the top of the stairs, hands gripping the rail and wall facing to distribute his slight impact.

"Pardon me for asking you to help me to understand, Stacy. And let me say that you are being more than a bit judgmental yourself. I've made mistakes; people have even died from the mistakes I've made. No more. I see that I have in fact, =mis=-judged you, and that you are a tougher person than I thought.

"I won't keep you from your business, but I realize I see things in more stark moral contrast than many people, and I can even miss some things that leave me misinformed about who's intentions are good or bad, and I would appreciate you not tarring me with the same broad brush you reserve for some. And any time you feel like illuminating me on the subject of Prism, let me know, please, Stacy.

The plain, open tone that has replaced Kakker's initial sarcastic jeer takes on an almost pleading quality as he finishes his piece and steps aside/leans back for Stacy to pass.


Krane will gladly direct Adaptor to the Wulfcar, confiding along the way that, "I don't even know what a tenth of this vehicle's capabilities yet and I haven't even had a chance to visit the 'hall'. The 'car seems to know the way. I instructed it to take me there when everything broke loose at the mansion and I had to head over here."

Krane


Assuming no one stops Adaptor from stealing a hundred pounds or more Vanguard files...

Krane opens the rear doors of the Cox Cablevision van and looks for somewhere to store the files. He shoves the pneumatic grapping-hook launcher to one side, and swivels the .50 calibre machinegun up out of the way. With difficulty, Adaptor manages to wedge the files in between the shelves of man-portable weapons and the bins of yet-to-be-identified electronic equipment.

Inside, Stacy looks tiredly but patiently at Kakker.

"Kakker, this isn't about you. And I don't have any answers for you. Prism might have made the wrong decision, but I think his instincts about Carlotta were right. I think you know that. I wouldn't have... if I had powers like you guys, I wouldn't have done what Prism did. But whether what he did put her over the edge or not, she was pretty close already."

Stacy moves up a step, just below Kakker. Her eyes, liquid and brown, are level with his chest. She puts her hand on his sternum.

"You worry a lot about right and wrong, don't you? You aren't really sure at all that what you do is right, and it tears you up. Most people... aren't like that."

She looks earnestly up into Kakker's eyes, trying to find something there. She pats her hand on his chest a couple of times, reassurringly, and smiles.

"It'll be OK, Kakker. I'll be down in a few minutes."

She slips past him and goes into her room. Kakker hears the door lock click shut behind her.

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