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Mutants & Masterminds: Future Imperfect - When Fenny Met Sammy

Ira Sagebrush

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Sam surveyed th destroyed lab again, trying to process the situation and how it came to be.

Tick Tock, (or Harry Burns, as Sam had made sure to plaster everywhere) had seemed like a great addition to the Black Parade and the Underground itself. While he wasn't a hacker or a electronics specialist, his medical knowledge and ability to get around biometric protocols had made a valuable new addition to the team. Sam had taken all the necessary procautions with a thorough background check, interviews, test tasks, and monitoring. All that had then been repeated by others in the Underground and even Mouse hadn't happened upon anything that would raise a flag. The only thing he had asked for was time in the med lab to work on the Virus. Something Sam was more than happy to oblige. A perfect fit it seemed...until now.

"Tell me again, how he managed to get out of here without anyone noticing?" Sam asked as she turned around and exited the lab.

"We're not sure." Frostbite said, "the internal footage for the time period is gone and no one saw anything. He must have had help."

"No shit, Sherlock." Sam spat, whirling around on him. She let out a roar of frustration as her mind replayed the last few interactions with Tick Tock. He had stood patiently over her shoulder while she worked in the computer center until her attention could be diverted. She had been updating the software on the cameras. "Is anyone else gone?"

"No, everyone else is accounted for and everyone in the field has reported back, I saw to it myself."

The tension in her neck was directing screaming, angry, hate-filled messages of pain towards her head, and her head was retaliating. She pulled a hand down the muscle, trying to ease it. "Reconstruct his life for the last 6 months, I want to know everything. I don't care if he jacked off to Pokemon slash fics or painted murals in the park, I want it all. That dude was working on V shit and now it's all gone."

"We're already working on it, but I don't know how much we will get, it seems he was using a disposable phone and an offline laptop since about three months ago. I have Mouse tracking video footage through the city...what hasn't been written over anyway. We're hoping he gets lucky."

"So, basically, we got nothing but a medlab that looks like it got bombed. No leads at all."

"It would appear so."

"Fuck me running sideways." Sam lamented, sighing in frustration.

"I'm willing to try if you are." the newcomer said with a wry grin as he approached.

"Seriously dude? Not now." Sam retorted, kneading her neck.

Frostbite was ever-so-slightly shaking his head behind Sam, trying to warn off against anything further, but he didn't listen.

"What, I guarantee you'd forget all about that." Phin said, gesturing at the lab, "And all that tension would disappear...c'mon...you know you want it." He took a step back and swept his arms wide.

Frostbite's slight shake became more pronounced and he backed up, giving plenty of room for the pair when he saw the lights flicker and some of the loose hairs in Sam's ponytail start rising.

Sam stopped rubbing her neck and glared at Phin. His lone talent lie in breathing underwater, which could have untold uses in the right situation. He was relatively new to the Underground, young, full of himself and hadn't left Sam alone since he'd gotten here. He wasn't all that bad looking, but she wouldn't dare give him the satisfaction of falling to what he thought of as 'charm'. The more she refused, the more he seemed to hound her, to the point of ignoring all inappropriateness of social protocol. Evidently, it had gotten bad enough that he didn't realize the gravity of the current situation but she was not in the mood to parley.

"Oh, you know it." Sam said dryly, as she approached him. "I'm dying to see some of your wetworks, baby.

Phin's smile dropped for a second, but then came back confidently as he moved to close the remaining distance between them. "Your place or mine?"

"Let's just see how the spark builds from here..." she said, slowly grabbing his hand and inching his finger to her partially open lips.

The discharge happened just as his skin met her lips and he flew back rebounding off the wall and collapsing to the floor into a twitching heap.

Sam turned back to Frostbite, who was now some distance away and smiling, "What, you afraid or something?"

"At the risk of sounding cheesy, I hope there's never any electricity between us, no offense."

"None taken. But you know what," Sam said, rubbing her neck, "he was right about it getting rid of the kink in my neck. Call me when ya get anything, I'm gonna help Mouse."


The twitching heap started to unfold with mild groaning as she walked away, "...burns so good...never gonna wash that finger again."


Sam had just sat down and was rattling off a message to Mouse when her door opened and he ran in, nearly shoving her aside as he took control of the console without a word.

"W. T. F. Man!" She said.

Mouse was gasping for breath, having the physical prowess of someone who stalked RSS feeds all day, and couldn't talk. He finished punching at the keyboard and pointed, putting his hands on his hips and turning away a bit as he tried regulate his respirations.

Sam looked at what he pulled up, ready to let off another biting remark about personal space when she realized what she was looking at. The angle was terrible, but there was no mistaking it. There was Tick Tock getting on the elevator that went to the Club level suites at the MGM.

'I'm Sorry' the note had said.

"Yes. You will be."

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McCarran International Airport was one of the busiest in the world, handling up to 150,000 people in a single day, 44,000,000 plus a year. Travellers from all over America and the world beyond flew into Las Vegas's premier airport for business, pleasure, or a mixing of the two. Businessmen, tourists, gamblers: At it's peak times it was a bustling, noisy, jostling, shouting, crying, babbling mass of humanity.

In short, perfect.

The official at the domestic flights line didn't look twice at the smiling passport photo of the blond man in front of him. He briefly checked the travel stamps on the French passport, then smiled professionally and passed it back. "Enjoy your stay in Las Vegas, Mr Gevaudan."

"Merci." 'Jean Gevaudan' smiled back, brown eyes warm behind the thick-rimmed glasses. Setting a floppy white sun hat back on his neatly-trimmed blond hair, the Frenchman picked up his carryon and headed for the baggage carousel. There he sat and waited with the other passengers from the Chicago flight, smiling affably at the girl who'd been sitting beside him, who he'd bored to tears with his talk of desert rock formations. She thought it a pity: the guy could be cute if he only wore clothes that fit him right rather than being too loose, and straightened up instead of slouching all the time, and learned to talk about something other than damned sandstone. Why couldn't she sit next to someone exciting for a change?

Hoisting his large suitcase from the belt, he gave her one last jaunty wave and looked for a second as though he was going to approach her, maybe ask her for a drink or something. The girl pretended to see someone she knew and, facing the other way, waved frantically. With a disappointed tilt of his shoulders, the tall blond man ambled off with his bags.

Exiting the front doors of the terminal, he hailed a taxi to take him to the nearest cheap hotel. The cab driver later could remember nothing remarkable about the 'French guy' apart from how he'd made a mistake and tried to pay him in Euros instead of dollars, then blushed and overtipped by way of compensation.

He entered the lobby of the hotel and smiled at the receptionist, announcing himself as Jean Gevaudan and shyly asking if his brother-in-law had already checked in.

"Oh yes, Mr Gevaudan." The charmed receptionist said after quickly checking the computer. "Mr Beriya is expecting you. He's in room 235, across the hall from you. Would you like me to call him for you?"

"No, no. Thank you. I'll surprise him." Mr Gevaudan told the woman with a mischievous smile before heading to the elevator.

On the third floor, he moved down the hallway to his room. Closing and locking the door behind him, the tall man dumped his bags on the bed, took a deep breath, and then spoke in Russian to the empty room.

"You might as well come out of the bathroom, Nikolai Andreivitch. I smelled you from outside the room."

There was a pause, punctuated by a foul curse in Russian, then the door opened and a thickset man roughly a foot shorter than 'Jean' entered, grinning widely.

"Fenris! Son of a Ukrainian goat-fucker! Still as sharp as ever, eh?" He approached Fenris with a laugh and caught the larger man in a bearhug. "It is good to see you, my friend. Very good, even with these grave tidings." He released him and stood back. "There was no-one else I could trust to call with this, and you I know would care as I do."

"Tell me about it." Fenris suggested as he pulled two bottles of Starka vodka out of his carryon. Nikolai's eyes lit up, and he hurried to the room's minibar to fetch two glasses.

Nikolai was a Vor, a member of the Russian mafiya. He was also a Class II mutant and the father of a little boy who was showing signs of mutant powers himself. His own gifts lay in comprehension: Nikolai could listen to or read anything and understand the meaning of it, even coded messages. It had made him a valuable part of the KGB, once upon a time. When the Wall came down and anti-mutant factions in the Russian army and intelligence services had started purging their ranks, it was Fenris, then known as Vanya, who had spirited Nikolai out of the country to America. Since then, despite making a new life as a criminal and closet mutant unknown even to his superiors, Nikolai also served as one of Fenris's net of contacts.

A day ago, he'd called Fenris about something big, something potentially catastrophic. He'd said nothing more, but hadn't needed to: Fenris trusted this source, trusted his judgement, and so he'd been on the next plane out to Las Vegas.

"...All I know is that the big boys, they are all interested in this man and what he is selling. It is a weapon, Fenris. An anti-mutant weapon." Nikolai, on his second glass of vodka, said in a hushed tone. "The Cosa Nostra, the wops: they are acting as generous hosts for this man and his bodyguards, probably in hopes of favorable bidding. Government agents, criminal groups: everyone wants to have an edge against the 'muties'. Hah!" Nikolai barked bitterly.

"Tell me about him, and his guards." Fenris suggested, topping up both their glasses.

"Harry Burns. That is his name. Whispers on the Mu grapevine say he is called Tick Tock, but I don't know much more than that. He is in town, at the MGM Grand hotel, and he is living the high life. Girls, drugs, clubs... His guards? They have the look of private military. Blackwater, or people like them. Mercenaries, my friend."

"Can you get me into the Grand?" Fenris asked, but Nikolai was shaking his head.

"I cannot. It is Wop territory, and we are at peace with them at the moment. My boss, he would feed me my balls, Fenris. All I can do is tell you what I know and give you arm's length support. My boss is also hoping to bid on this weapon, the son of a whore. But you and I know it must be destroyed, and this clever mutant who makes such weapons..."

"Must also be destroyed." Fenris said grimly, finished the thought. "Smiet Predatelyam, my friend." he toasted Nikolai.

"Yes. Death to all whore-mongering traitors." the other replied. Both men downed their vodka, then sighed before Fenris refilled the glasses.

"I will need money, then. Money enough to live the high life myself for a day or two." Fenris smiled at Nikolai's pained expression. "Don't try to tell me that crime doesn't pay, boy." Nikolai laughed at that.

"Fine! Money you shall have. And I will tell you anything further that I learn." Nikolai checked his watch. "Give me three hours to get the cash." Fenris nodded, then produced a slip of paper.

"Deposit half the money to this account, and deliver the rest here." He passed the paper over, then knocked back the full glass of vodka. Nikolai did likewise, then rose.

"It will be done. See you in three hours."

"Spasiba." Fenris told his friend as he let him out.

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  • 4 months later...

Sam tugged at the necessary tights of her outfit. Scowling at the chaffing she was about to endure.

I'm gonna break another of his ribs, just for makin' me wear this damn thing.

She looked at herself in the mirror, equally ashamed, abhorred, and proud of how she looked in the

stereotypical french maid outfit.

Fuckin' Frost

"Ya know, I have some hardware that needs cleanin'" Mouse said from behind her, making her jump. Sam spun around, "Fuck you. Fuck you in the face. Die in a fire and then get peed on." she said, trying not to smile as she yelled at him. Glancing down she grabbed her hairbrush and hucked it at him, achieving only a glancing blow as he twisted sideways and chortled.

"It wasn't my idea. Frost did this." Mouse laughed as he enjoyed the view.

"Yeah, I have a feeling he always wanted to see me done up like a stripper." Sam muttered.

"Aside from my desire to see you 'done up', FB sent me to tell you that everyone is ready."

"Too afraid to tell me himself?"

"Too smart, perhaps."

"Time is of the essence. Is the van out front?"

There goes any modicum of respect I had with who's going.

"Yeah, they even pulled up on the lawn like you asked. There was quite the round of laughs about that."

"Yeah, Well, next time, he can wear this and I'll wear the Armani three-piece and he can parade through my neighborhood."

"Sure, Boss." Mouse agreed, nodding with an unspoken 'whatever you say'.

Sam grabbed her rarely-used purse from the bed and started dropping everything in that had been splayed out on the comforter; a .357 with hollow points, a pack of high capacity batteries, three different old beat up cellphones, a switchblade and a can of mace. She pulled a couple of the batteries from the pack and shoved them down into her bra, guaranteeing herself a source of energy if need be. As she started to mess with the front of her dress, Mouse turned away, uncomfortable and slightly embarrassed.

"Don't be such a prude, you've seen me in a thong, this is like thermal-wear in comparison." Sam huffed.

"Sorry, just being polite." he responded, glancing back.

"Whatever, let's go."


Sam darted from her front door to the van, thankful for the time of day and that most of her neighbors were gone at work. Mouse closed the door as he climbed in behind her, quickly flipping open a laptop that was on his seat.

"First person that so much as whistles or says a fuckin' thing, I swear to God I will invent a new way to make you miserable." Sam warned.

"Aw, but honey, you look so sweet." Frostbite mocked.

"Drive before I give you a wet willy with the cattle prod that is my finger."

"Kinky...already getting into the role are we?" he asked, getting a couple chuckles all around, even Mouse was hiding behind his laptop.

"Jesus Christ guys, can we focus here? Tick Tock did us in. We are on our way to break into the MG fucking M with a plan conceived by Brick." Sam scolded, shifting her gaze between the passengers. All present suddenly took on a somber countenance, looking awkward. All except Brick, who beamed with pride at the mention of his name and his plan.

"Much better," she continued "Let's review, we have about 10 minutes til we get there."

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John Filtiarn was a sales director from Oregon, working for a pharmaceutical company and trying to get doctors to prescribe their drugs over the competition's product. He liked golf, New Orleans jazz and Latin dancing, was recently divorced (no kids), had dark hair with some grey at his temples and wore gold-rimmed glasses to correct an astygmatism. He was a contented soul, always seeking the middle ground and to make sure everyone ended up a winner, which was one reason he was a regional director of sales and got perks like vacations to Las Vegas to attend conventions, like the one currently running for medical industry professionals at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Of course, he planned to spend a sizeable amount of his time at the MGM Grand enjoying the floor shows, playing roulette, and flirting with attractive women who were really too young for him. John Filtiarn was an unremarkable, but pleasant enough example of middle-class America.

John Filtiarn didn't exist. He was a legend.

'Legend', in this case, meant a cover. A false-face for agents to slip into and out of whenever the occasion demanded. It wasn't a simple false identity - those were too easy to crack and meant for quick and dirty operations only: one shot deals. No, a legend was a favored and comfortable suit of armor to be kept clean and re-used. Fenris kept several. When he travelled, he was Jean Gevaudan or Raoul Weylyn. When he was touching base with the Mutant Underground - always on the fringes, never so close that their passionate unprofessionalism would get him imprisoned - he was Alex Garm. He was never Vanya, except to an incredibly small group of people, less than five. He was Fenris only in rumor, reputation and UNISON crime scene reports. The careful partitioning of his life was a skill he'd learned and honed until it had become second nature whilst working for Section M. He was trained to operate alone, stalking his target for months if need be, and then vanishing for a month or two more after the kill before making his way home.

Here he didn't have the luxury of months, he mused as he walked into the lobby of the hotel section of the MGM Grand. Tick Tock had to die tonight, and his weapon had to go with him. If he'd been someone else, Fenris might have been irritated or daunted at the rushed nature of the assignment. But he simply took into account the fact that he might lose his Filtiarn legend this time. So be it - Filtiarn was getting older now, and Fenris needed careful grooming and make up to appear a forty-something.

That he might die was also a consideration. He was more or less immortal, but a weapon designed from the Virus would be his weak link, if anything would. Hopefully it wouldn't be something as random as a gas or volatile compound.

"Nice to have you with us, Mr Filtiarn." the concierge beamed as men wearing the uniforms of staff briefly ran his suitcases through a scanning machine. "I apologise for the delay - new security measures, you see."

"Of course." Filtiarn replied, whilst behind the brown contacts Fenris assessed the 'staff'. Trained men, professionals, and not of the service industry kind. He leaned companionably on the desk. "We've got to look after ourselves in these troubled times." The men had grown their hair out a little, but they might as well have had soldier's cuts. These, then, were the professional mercenaries Nikolai had warned him of, probably inserted using the muscle of their Mafia bosses. "I was wondering if I could sign the guest book. And maybe get a photocopy of that signature? To show the guys back home, you know?"

"Of course, sir." It was a common enough request, to have one's name immortalised in the records of the glamorous MGM Grand. The concierge smiled and passed the heavy bound ledger over. John Filtiarn fumbled with his gold pen as he peered at the page. Harry Burns - Suite 652 he read near the top of the left-hand page, then signed 'John Filtiarn - Suite 237' at the bottom of the right. "Thank you so much." he tried not to gush as he repocketed his pen.

"Quiet alright sir. I'll have the copy sent to your room."

Fenris walked to the elevator, followed by a bellhop with his cases, the mutant assassin's mind already working to determine the best course of attack. He knew where the traitor was, but not where the weapon was. He needed to find that out. It was unlikely Tick Tock would have it with him... Or was it? Harry Burns was a man who'd just sold out his friends and was surrounded by criminals and other unsavory sorts. If he was paranoid enough, and he certainly had reason to be, then it was entirely possible he had the package chained to his wrist, maybe even with a self-destruct charge in case someone tried to simply take it from him.

That was supposition, though. He needed to eyeball Tick Tock first, find the man and follow his habits during the day. He tipped the bellhop and closed the door, then waited ten minutes as he unpacked a few belongings. Then the hunter slipped out of his room and went to the elevator. It was time to locate Suite 652, and learn his prey's scent.

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