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Mutants & Masterminds: Emerald City Sentinels - Aftermath


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Jameson wiped the sweat from his brow, bashing a hole in the foundation of his house was proving a lot more work than he'd expected. He had planned to dig out a room, a place for his gear and a small workshop. Nothing revolutionary, but enough to ensure that he could keep his things hidden from prying eyes. His plan had changed a few days ago with the so called Silver Storm. The city had gone from a nice place to live a quiet life, to a place bursting at the seams with new supers. Jameson realized that his Peacemaker persona was going to need to become more than an occasional role for fighting Zeigfried. Now the plan was to dig an access tunnel down and into the caves below the park. He'd make a proper hideout and try to help these young kids who were stepping up to oppose the new villains.

Not for the first time he wished he done this years ago when it looked like the Cold War was going to be the end of everybody. Grunting he picked up the sledgehammer again and was about to go back to work when his phone rang upstairs. "Thank the Lord for small favors," he muttered as he set the hammer down and headed upstairs. The kitchen phone looked like it should be in a museum, it was an old rotary dial, corded model, with the heavy plastic that could be used to bludgeon somebody and not crack; the ringer was an actual bell, and it was loud.

"Afternoon," he drawled into the phone, cradling it on his shoulder and fumbling for a glass from a nearby cabinet. He filled the glass from the tap, smiling at the memory of his grandson advising him to use a filter to remove some of the excess chlorine.

"Jim, it's Ralph. How's it going?" The voice on the other end was the friendly, medium timbre of a man in his thirties. Ralph was a friend of his, or rather the son, of a son, of a friend. Ralph's grandfather had been a corporal in Jameson's squad in the second world war, they'd stayed in touch over the years and Jameson remained a friend of the family.

"It's going well. It's going well, and yourself?"

"Not too bad. Listen, I'm calling about that you know what."

"Ah," Jameson set the glass down and leaned against the counter. "What did you find?"

"Nothing. If the Silver Storm was Zeigfried's doing nobody on the street knows it, and I mean nobody." He sounded almost apologetic, like it was his fault he'd turned up nothing, "Sorry."

"Hey, it's alright, maybe he really isn't involved. In which case, that still leaves the question of who or what did cause it." Jameson was quiet for a moment, "Do you think you can get me access to the morgue later tonight? I'd like to take a look at the victims, see if I can see anything your guys might have missed. You can say no if it's risky."

There was a pause, and then, "Yeah, I can do that, meet me downtown at Casey's Donuts at 3 a.m., I'll get you as much time as I can."

"Thanks Detective," Jameson said cheerily.

"Ugh, don't call me that old man."

"You wound me boy, and I know for a fact your father and grandfather raised you to respect your elders." They laughed, and it felt good to forgot for a moment the changes to the city that were taking place. "See you tonight, and thanks again."

"Sure thing. See ya."

Jameson hung up the phone and downed the glass of water thoughtfully before proceeding back into the basement; he had work to do before the evening fell. As he resumed bashing away at the foundation he decided to head out early and stop at the Row. Another thirty minutes searching the area around the Storm might turn up something, and if nothing else it would give him time to work it over in his head, and ensure he was looking for the right things and asking the right questions later on.

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Evening came and went. Jameson cleaned and loaded his gun, oiled the leather holster and his duster, and as evening progressed to night he made his way into the city proper. The motorcycle was parked in an ally blocks away from Yellow Brick Row leaving Jameson to walk the last bit of distance to the scene. He removed a gold pocket watch, and flipped it open, the time read five minutes to midnight, the concave side of the cover held an old photo of a smiling woman. Jameson paused, looking at the photo sadly, his wife was forty odd years gone, but the hurt never quite went away. He clicked the watch closed and stuffed it back into his jeans with a forlorn sigh before continuing on his way.

Pulling the red bandanna up from his neck to rest over the bridge of his nose, obscuring his face below the eyes, the Peacemaker moved from shadow to shadow into the Row, sliding under police tape and stepping around debris, and blast hole as he made his way. The place had been crawling with police and AEGIS agents previously, limiting his investigation to little more than a walk by and observances from afar.

He pushed his coat open and squatted down by the wreckage of the truck. Not much was left, much having been carted off by the police and AEGIS. Peacemaker ran his fingers over a section of the burnt frame was surprised to find them come away slick with some kind of oily gritty residue. Frowning he wrangled a small jar from one of his coat pockets and scooped up some of the substance. He straightened and moved away from the wreck. As he walked a slow circle his hand moved to his gun, somebody else was here, he'd heard them land somewhere above. He didn't say anything, just waited and kept an eye open, trusting the newcomer to make himself known in short order in one way or another.

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Trace had made a few interesting discoveries in his analysis of the silver powder - for one thing, the stuff didn't stay powder. Some inherent instability in the compound caused it to break down into an oily sludge. The first pass analysis of the oily substance under his high-powered microscope revealed that it was composed of metals and other, less readily indentifiable compounds.

His curiousity piqued further, Trace set up several different analytical processes using the well-equipped laboratory he had in his hidden home-from-home. But the sample he'd taken, though sizeable, was spread thin now, and so he decided to return to the site of the Storm in order to pick up some more of the stuff.

He'd just arrived at the deserted area of Yellow Brick Row when he noticed a hatted, masked figure prowling around the wreckage of the tanker truck. For a moment or two he watched, but could discern nothing familiar about the tall stranger. It was unlikely he was up to no-good, though. There was little valuable left in this area, after all. Then the sharp-eyed Trace noticed the man in the hat scoop up something from the wreckage into a jar and frowned under his mask.

Another investigator? he mused. Only one way to find out. He swung down into the street twenty paces behind the other and called out softly.

"Dark night to be poking around a disaster site." he said in his hollow voice without accusation.

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Peacemaker turned slowly, his left hand holding the sample jar, his right hand hanging from one of his gunbelts, the thumb hooker through the belt casually. "Dark, yes." He looked at the other man, with his featureless white mask, dark armor and hood. "Friend or foe? I'm just trying to educate myself about this disaster. Trying to see if the authorities missed something."

Trace nodded, "A Friend, and here for similar reasons."

Jameson stepped closer, slowly, carefully, and as he neared Trace could see that on the man's right hip a large, clearly custom designed, gun was holstered. Oddly he had a second gunbelt on, the holster of which, resting on his left side, was empty however. Jeans, boots, a rough shirt that looked like cotton canvas, old, weather worn, and soft, made him look the part of a cowboy. The leather duster, red bandanna, and hat completed the image.

Peacemaker studied the other man for a bit, "You look familiar." His finger's snapped, a loud sound in the night, like a tiny gunshot. "I saw you on the television," he said, pronouncing the word rather than using its abbreviation, "You were here. You were one of the heroes that responded to this Silver Storm thing, right?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Trace." the masked figure nodded. The hooded head tilted slightly to one side, studying the iconic-looking figure of the gunfighter. A mind that forgot little and had studied much ran through a mental photofit, matching details and cues from the other man's speech, his manner of dress, and the custom weapon at his side. Several UNISON files came to mind, all revolving around a hero who hadn't been in circulation for roughly sixty years now.

"And you're Peacemaker." Trace stated without any sign of doubt. "You're not dead of old age, but you're no imposter. I've seen stranger things in my life, in the last two weeks alone if at no other time." The shrouded man stepped forward to meet Jameson, offering a gloved hand. "It's an honor to meet you, sir. We're here for the same reason, it seems. I've been running analysis on this residue for a while, and need more samples."

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Jameson grunted his assent to the other man's statement. He took the other man's hand, his grip was strong and sure, the kind of grip that told you that the man was not one to be trifled with. He flipped the jar in his left into the air as they stepped apart, and trace had to act quickly as it tapped against his chest and started to tumble to the ground. "That goo. Its like engine grease mixed with metal shavings. Any idea what it is?"

"My sample had broken down, it was a mix of elements and basic compounds, but I don't think the particles are just metal shavings, I didn't see anything like that." Trace looked at the contents of the jar, swirling it into the light of a streetlamp.

The archaically dressed man nodded, "Alright, well, one of us, or both, should probably get that under a microscope soon then. I'd invite you back to my place, but I'm gonna guess the neighbors would talk if they saw on of the city's new heroes tromping on up the porch." Peacemaker's accent was complex, under the obvious Swouthwest drawl were touches of both German and French on the occasional syllable.

Jameson pulled out his pocket watch and flipped the cover open. From where Trace stood he could see there was a photo tucked into the concave face, but it was too dark and too far for him to see more. The watch itself was clearly an antique, and a well worn and cared for one at that. Peacemaker looked up, "Time is not a friend you know. Always working against us all."

He returned the watch to his pocket and his left hand strayed down to the empty holster, but found it empty. The hand seemed to clench in frustration before settling with a thumb hooked over the belt itself. The whole thing raised a kernel of doubt in Trace's mind. Peacemaker had been known to use a pair of Colt Single Action Army .45 caliber revolvers; the classic Peacemaker of the west. The missing weapon, and the fact that whatever was fitted into the right holster was clearly not a Peacemaker, laid those seeds of doubt in Trace's mind; perhaps this man was not the original, but a copy-cat, or a legitimate successor.

"I've got an appointment with a dead man. Men, and women, actually. At the morgue. I think I can get you in if you want. We can probably even put that goo under a glass there while we're at it." Jameson waited for the other man's reply, his intense eyes, studying the costumed hero silently.

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Like any lab jockey, Trace instinctually preferred his own setup. In his secret lair's extensive laboratory, everything was set up to his satisfaction, and his notes were readily available to consult.

On the other hand, this mysterious appointment that Peacemaker was speaking of piqued the hooded detective's interest. It would do no harm to tag along, maybe even some good, and so he nodded his assent.

"I'll come along." he said in his hollow voice, holding up the jar of goo. "We'll have a look at this too, if time allows. Are the dead related to this case, or something separate?"

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Jameson grunted, "You could say that. One was the unlucky driver of this vehicle." He waved at the crater and the remaining wreckage strewn about. "The rest were all nearby, victims of whatever it was that happened. I'm not forensic scientist, but I figured I should at least have a look and see the autopsy reports." He paused, his eyes seemed to bore into Trace from under the shadow of his hat, "You walk here? Got a car or something?"

"Motorcycle," Trace replied, "You?"

"Same. You don't strike me as a Harley Davidson man though. I bet you got one of them bullets with wheels. You know where we're goin'?" The other man nodded. "You don't say much. Probably better than the opposite. I'll meet you there."

Twenty minutes later an access door to the morgue at Emerald Hill Hospital popped open. Ralph poked his head out into the alley, saw the pair of heroes and sighed. "You didn't say you were bringing a friend," he accused.

"Didn't know myself until half an hour ago when we met. Detective, this is Trace, you may recognize him. He was at the Storm that day." Ralph nodded and stuck out his hand. "This here is Detective Ralph Woolsey. We good to come in Ralph? Sooner we do this the sooner you can go home."

"Yeah yeah, come on." He held the door open and the pair slipped inside. They descended into the morgue, and Ralph soon located a room with a trio of bodies laid out on cold slabs. "The driver is on the left, as if you couldn't tell from the poor bastard's condition. The other two were nearby, looks like the explosion killed them too." The detective picked up one of the charts, belonging to a woman in her thirties, "Says here internal hemmoraging likely due to the explosive impact." He put the chart down and shook his head, backing toward the door, "I'll be outside if you need me, this kinda thing isn't for me."

"Thanks, we'll be as quick and discreet as possible." Jameson turned to Trace after the detective was gone, "Where do you want to start?"

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