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Mutants & Masterminds: The Indigo Children - Chapter 1: Pizza Anyone?


jameson (ST)

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"Can we at least get some pie? I'm starving?" Randy rubbed his stomach as if to emphasize that he was still hungry. They had arrived at a small neighborhood park further north in the Bronx. Wally's footspeed was impressive and only the indirect route had kept them from getting there sooner. In the intervening time the rain had finally broken and there was now only a light drizzle, hardly more than an active fog, that dampened the evening. "Come on, if that thing was coming after us it would have followed. And its not like it had the time to put a tracer or something on us right? Seriously. Hey I know, tell me what you want and I'll drive to get it, you can stay here and chat until I get back."

From the darkness deeper in te park a voice replied, "Anchovies and mushrooms please." Following the voice a figure wearing a large hat and a dark long coat walked into view. "I think perhaps pepperoni as well."

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Rodne alights in a branch close by as the others talk. A pizza sounded good. He was about to reply when the other voice came from the darkness. It was Fight or Flight after that. Pepperoni sounded good though.

"Who are you?" he inquired.

Please don't be a cyborg. Please don't be a cyborg.

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Cole's gesture was the only thing that kept her at bay. Ramani tensed angrily and exposed her teeth suppressing a growl. Her tail lashed to the sides and she forced herself to concentrate and do the same like Cole did.

Unlike him she relied more on her ears and nose than her eyes. She was ready for an attack.

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"Something with no meat on it for me," Wally noted. Then he looked over at the newcomers and scratched between his ears. With a flick of his hand he unlatched the holster of the .45 at his hip, but he didn't draw it. It had live rounds, not the riot shot his rifle was using.

"Well there," he said, "I'm pretty sure you didn't outrun us if you're human...and I doubt the blokes in the vans would know to wait here for us, or order pizza instead of just attacking. So...who are you gents?"

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The figure stopped about feet from the group. The darkness and the shadow cast by one of the trees prevented the streetlights from illuminating him any more than dimly. "I'm not your enemy if that is what you are worried about. If I were you'd not be standing here right now, I could have grabbed any one of you all in the past few months. Maybe not your humans, but the rest of you. Yeah."

The figure drops smoothly to the ground in a sitting position and you can see its lower legs and feet. The feet are large with two toes each and the skin appears dark and leathery. "Sit down. There's not point in use standing around having a conversation when we could just as easily sit down and talk." The figure gestures before it with a hand. A hand sporting two thick fingers and an equally thick thumb. Again the poor lighting makes it difficult to see but the skin appears to be thicker and darker than human. He takes off his hat revealing a bald ovoid head. The mouth and nose are blunt and more like a beak and there are no external ears to be seen. A red cloth is tied over the upper portion of his face with his eyes showing out from beneath a pair of roughly cut holes. "My name is Raphael. I've been watching you for a while now."

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"What are you? Who are you? Wait, we've got that one. Why are the R-names reserved for the really cool guys?"

These and many other questions were on Rodney's mind, but primarily this one,

"What are you doing here?"

Like, was he here to kick their ass? Was he a Lee Van Cleef walking out of the desert to be the mentor to his young Clint Eastwood? Did they really share a love of pepperoni pizza?

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Watching us? That sounds stalkery. Penny was wise enough not to mention this at this exact moment. "That's all well and good," she said, stepping out from behind Randy. "But what do you want from us? Obviously, you're like Rodney and the others, so some interest is natural. But us in particular? And if so, why?"

"Rambling," Randy muttered softly. Penny gave him a look but fell silent.

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Cole watches Raphael intently, his hand on Ramani's shoulder there to keep himself from reacting as much as her. He'd been watching, and that fact disturbed Cole because it meant this stranger could and likely did know where he and Ramani lived.

"So why have you been watching us, Raphael?"

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Ozzie barely even acknowledges Raphael's presence, as he finds a bench and sits down. Even Raphael's revelation barely made him stir. To Ozzie it seemed that the others didn't care what happened to the porcu-bear like he did. He could accept that, but still he figured they might at least a little upset that they had left one of their own kind behind it seemed as though that wasn't the case.

"How can you guys talk about getting pizza! We need to find a way to rescue the porcu-bear and who ever is responsible for his capture!"

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Ramani felt exactly like Cole. If it was true what she heard this meant trouble. She tensed visibly and kept her eyes fixated on Raphael. She was caught between curiousity and lashing out and her head trembled a little bit because of the anticipation that made her body burn like fire.

Her nostrils flared and she suppressed a low growl.

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The other mutant holds up his hand slowly. In reply to Ozzie's outburst he says, "How you do propose to rescue the creature? Do you have the means to transport a beast of its size? Can you control it or will you run the risk of it attacking you once more? What do you know of those who have taken it? Do you know where it has been whisked away to?

"I was once as you are now. Brash. Quick to action. I did not learn my lesson until it was too late." He casts his eyes downward to the ground and lowers his hand. "So many questions. I was young like you once. Time takes its toll however you try and stop it.

"I have been watching all of the mutants of this city. Watching and waiting. I saw what you, and you, and you," he points at the Tigers and Rodney, "Did for her and her friend." He points at Penny. "You risked your safety, perhaps even your lives, for a stranger. I have seen you and you help people in your lives as well. In little ways, doing things that people would not see. You do good things without fear and without expecting a reward. You act despite the risk it brings to your safety."

He coughs into his fist for a moment, "You are protectors. And you young lady, and your friend. You do not fear these mutants, that alone is a considerable deed. However I sense more to you both as well." He falls silent and allows his words to penetrate, or perhaps he waits only for another question.

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Penny gave Ozzie a sympathetic glance; he was clearly upset about leaving the porcu-thing behind. So was she, to be honest, but Ozzie was taking it personally. Wearily, she rubbed her face, but then the green-thing that called itself Raphael spoke. She did sit at his request, and after a moment, Randy followed suit, moving to her side.

"Ok," Penny said when he was done, "so you like our style and giving natures. I'm still not sure exactly what you want from us. I'm not going to ask a lot of questions of you right now - though I have lots - I just want to know why you are approaching us now? Usually this kind of preamble sets up some hardcore dispensation of some information or the assignment of a mission of some kind. Is that what you want? Us to do something for you?"

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First Rodney got a bit angry with Ozzie. They had tried, right? But slowly more sympathy rose up in him.

"Ozzie, next time we bring a loading truck, keep Mr. Porcu-bear sedated until we drive out of the city and release him in to a park upstate. Let him live like a black bear."

Looking at the other people, he adds,

"What? I watch Animal Planet."

Looking back to Raphael Rodney keeps on keeping on.

"What kind of aid are you offering, because we could sure use it. I don't know about being Protectors, but I think we all should do what right and attempt to do something about what ain't."

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"I have it on excellent authority," Wally muses distractedly, "That the black bear is the best kind of bear."

Then he focuses on Raphael.

"Should we move inside to hear this? Oz and me have a flat not far from here. I only ask because this sounds like it's going to be the kind of speech that I'll want to munch on popcorn during"

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"You should spend less time snacking and more time training Mikey," Rhaphael says quietly. After a second he shakes his head, "I'm sorry, my mind was elsewhere for a moment. We are fine here, you were not followed." He looks at the assembled mutants, "I'm not here to give you a mission. You have already found one. I see in you all the potential, and the drive, to be heroes to this city. I fear it has needed some for quite some time, and I cannot be that hero alone."

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Ozzie shakes his head at Rhaphael's response to his words. He knew he was helpless at this time to do anything, and that stung him the most. "So your looking for heroes huh? I think you've found some. But if you've been watching us like you said, what do you know of the people that took the bear? Can you help us find them?"

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"It is not a bear. No more so than I am. Or you. Though by the look of you I couldn't say what your parents were. That poor creature was born from a porcupine. The mutations that gave you intelligence and human bearing do not endow those same benefits upon all creatures."

Raphael flicked his hand toward Ozzie. The gesture made the platypus flinch but it was without need. Out of the other mutant's hand a piece of paper flew unfurling as it passed through the air into an origami crane that glided gently into Ozzie's outstretched hand. "I have tried to learn what I can about those men and their organization but they are adept at leaving no trace behind and one old turtle on foot cannot keep pace with a truck no matter the tricks I use."

He tapped his chin pensively, "Perhaps I do wish something from you. You all are younger and you have numbers. On that paper is a map through the subways, to the place I live. Visit me whenever you like, but be wary of my traps, your skills will be tested on the way in. If you work together I think you may succeed where I have failed and find where those trucks go, where they take the creatures they grab. In return I will offer my help and advice, and my skills if you wish to learn."

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He'd heard the legends of Alligators in the sewers, but nothing about giant talking turtles. His nostrils flared briefly, knowing how bad the sewers would be on him and Ramani.

He finally released Ramani's shoulder, feeling confident that Raphael wasn't a threat, there was something that made him want to help him.

"Alright, I'm in."

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Ramani relaxed as soon as Cole released his hold on her. She was clearly focused on him and his reactions when they were dealing with other people... or mutants now. Ramani didn't understand what being a hero was supposed to mean but Cole was approving of it so it had to be a good thing.

She tried to show that she meant no threat by stepping a bid sideways and behind Cole and placed an arm around his waist. There was a smile on her face - at least what passed for a smile given her snout.

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"A sewer? Why can't any of us live in penthouse apartments?" Rodney says sarcasticly. He looks at his wings then to the turtle.

"You know, it is kind of spooky that you can keep track of all of us. Kinda spooky."

"I'm in though. Better Cloak-N-Dagger Red than Dead."

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"Turtle!" Wally blurted, startled. "Is that what you are? Sorry, mate, couldn't really tell with the coat there and all."

He chuckled and rubbed the back of his head. "Anyway, it's good to have another friend in all this. If you don't mind me asking, how old are you? The way you're talking, you've been around for awhile...only the explosion only affected newborn critters the way I got it, meaning we should all be pretty close to the same age. So I'm a little confused."

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Raphael's smile was mysterious, "I believe the event to is certainly the trigger. If our kind were known about publicly people would more than likely have reached that conclusion some time ago. However what effect did the event have on humans? It would appear that there was none. I do not know for sure, I have always been a fighter. To answer your question, I am nearing fifty years old."

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Wally frowned and tugged at the little 'beard' that grew in a tuft off his chin.

"So...either you changed even though you weren't just a little eggling..." he mused laboriously, "or you changed before the..."

His paws described a silent 'boom' in the air in front of him.

Then the kangaroo grinned, shedding his moment of seriousness. "Either way, sounds like you've got a story to tell!"

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"Fifty! That's frakking Ancient," Rodny blurts out. "How have you managed to stay hidden for so long ... oh, wait, you stay in the sewers most of the time, right?"

Rodney looks at his wings again. Sewer living wasn't going to work for him. Not really.

"Do you know who grabbed the Porcubear, were they are headquartered at, and why they are doing what they are doing?"

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Cole's thoughts echo Rodney's. He walks over to Ozzie and takes the map and inspects it. "All right. Let's go. I don't figure you want to stand out here in the open all night. Did you have the Pizza sent here, or to a location closer to your home?"

He looks at the others. "I'm in for getting out of here and going somewhere else, be it home, or what I'd prefer, to hear what you have to teach us, Raphael."

His blue eyes zero in on the Turtle, and a part of him is trying to figure out what sort of Turtle he is. It isn't the gaze of a predator, but an all too human look of one trying see if they should really trust someone else.

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Ramani pulled back from Cole and slowly approached the turtle trying to appear as inconspicuous as possible. Depending on whether Raphael let her or not she came as close as gently rubbing her head against his coat and taking in his scent.

After that she slowly circled around him looking curiously at the mutant turtle while her tail was raised in attention. Cole could tell by her body language that she just being curious and very intrigued by the green skinned mutant. She clearly has never seen anything like him before. But then again, she hasn't seen Bat-Man, Kangoroo-Man and Ducktail-Man neither before. Only Penny was familiar for her and she liked that the most about her.

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Raphael shook his head and muttered something that sounded like and exasperated "Kids!" under his breath. "As I said before, these men have proven to move quickly and be highly skilled at leaving no trace behind to be tracked by. They drive in matte black vans and trucks and I am simply not able to follow them. You'd never realize how hard it is to get a simple used car loan in this city."

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"I'll take any help you can offer" Ozzie says to the turtle as he looks over the map with Cole. The thought of doing something brought Ozzie out of funk, and maybe after their talk with Raphael, the others would be more easily swayed into helping him track down those mysterious men in black. "If were going to go let's head down. I'm sure he's got a nice cozy spot for us."

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"Used car loan, eh?" Wally mused. As he thought to himself, he absently toyed with one of the flash-bangs on his vest...which looked worryingly like a grenade.

"You know, that's not a half bad idea there, mate."

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Penny shifted uncomfortably. "Well, whatever we're doing, let's move, right?" All this talk of black vehicles filled with people with mysterious goals and agendas was making her nervous. "Randy and I can get the pie and meet you... wherever. We were treating Cole and Ramani, anyway, so a bit more food isn't a big deal."

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Randy nodded, "Yeah, no biggie. You said you wanted anchovies, mushrooms and pepperoni, right Raphael? ... Umm ... where'd he go?" Randy had a small pad of paper and had been scribbling a list of toppings down. When he looked up he saw that the mutant was gone and the in his place was a small green origami turtle. Closer inspection showed that it was actually a twenty dollar bill. "OK, that's ... wow, he was like some kind of ... I dunno ... mutant ninja turtle or something ..."

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Wally burst into snickering laughter. "That's gotta be the stupidest thing I've ever heard...no offense, mate."

"So! We're getting pizza...and going to eat it in the sewer."

He paused, thinking that over.

"Right then. Off you go, Randy. Lets go see what sort of flat a turtle lives in."

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Cole snorts. "This won't be pleasant." He inhales deeply, savoring the air of the park. "Alright we can travel by car to the Subway. From there we go on foot."

"It looks like we start at an access tunnel betwen 103rd and 96th. So let's get going." With that he starts heading back to the car.

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While she agreed with Wally, Penny didn't add to Randy's mockery. "C'mon," she said to her friend, taking his arm. As he grinned at her, pleased by the contact, she whipped out her phone and placed a pick-up order at her favorite pizza joint. She and Randy got the tigers back in the car, then dropped them at the access tunnel and ran to the shop for the pies.

"Are we crazy?" Randy asked suddenly, jarring her out of her thoughtful muse.

"Huh?" she asked, looking at him.

"Have we lost our minds?" he asked her. "Are we completely delusion? Are we really getting pizza for anthropomorphic bats, kangaroos, palytpus, tigers, turtles... and a partridge in a pear tree?"

"Yeah," Penny said after a moment. "I think we are."

"Ok, then. Just checking," Randy sighed.

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Cole made sure the others all knew where to meet and then he and Ramani left with the humans to pick up the food. Wally and Ozzie moved along at foot pace keeping to allys and side streets and shadows; it would, after all, do poorly to be caught going to meet an apparent master of stealth. Rodney for his part merely circled in the dark night skies above. He would swoop down and warn the others if need be but it was seldom and issue. The three arrived in the park half an hour later. Rodney and Wally were at worst lightly winded but Ozzie was huffing and puffing from the exertion of keeping up with even the slow pace set by the others.

Penny and Randy picked up the pizzas and realized just how mch space ten pies took up. They were forced to put them into the trunk and hope that they traveled well. Amazingly they found easy street parking just a block from the park and were quickly able to meet the others. Together, humans and mutants, they snuck into the subway while no one was around and started into the dark tunnels network aided by natural senses and an emergency flashlight that Penny found in the car's glovebox.

Continues in Chapter 1: The Master's Examination

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