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Mutants & Masterminds: The Indigo Children - Chapter 2: Sorting it All Out


jameson (ST)

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It was quiet in the library. Whispered conversations and the soft patter of typing were the only sounds. Upstairs it would be louder, the lobby, the children's area, and the service desk would all add their own noise to the background noise. Down in the basement research area however it was quiet as could be. Penny's station was littered with information. The computer, old and slow to begin with, was bogged down with multiple windows showing search results or text from medical journals. The table space on either side was likewise cluttered by periodicals, white papers, and a notebook filled with Penny's compact neat script.

Penny shook her head and blinked realizing that she had slipped off into thought, but had ceased thinking at some point. She wasn't tired but for all intents and purposes she had been as close to sleep as you can get without drool and snoring. Scrubbing at her eyes with her off hand she pulled the notebook to her and eyed the notes she had made. Pages and pages of numbers representing the cancer rates of the greater metropolitan areas and the major cities within one hundred miles. There was a photocopy of an entry in "American Journal of Clinical Oncology" with a section highlighted.

Originally Posted By: American Journal of Clinical Oncology
"Despite an overwhelming abundance of proof that there must be some sort of carcinogenic factor to explain the increased incidence of cancer in all age groups and of all pathologies, to date there has been no source found in the local atmosphere, water supply, nor food or pharmaceutical sources supplied to the New York City metropolitan area. As a result this researcher must come to the conclusion that the carcinogen must have been present at some point in the past and is now no longer present in detectable quantities. Further research will be required with the assistance of the US Census Bureau to determine if former residents of the city of New York are subject to this effect."
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Yeah... carcinogenic factor... try the Event, dumbasses, Penny sighed, rubbing her eyes wearily. It was obvious to her, but she knew that scientists were notoriously cautious about announcing things like that.

"I wish someone would just scream. I wished someone would make some noise. It's too quiet in here. Maybe I should scream. No, that'd draw attention."

Penny turned and stared at the guy at the next table. He'd been the one muttering. After a moment, he felt her gaze and stared back at her. Unnerved, Penny packed her stuff up. Time to go. A glance at the clock made her realize she'd been here longer than she had meant to be. Raph's not going to be pleased with me, she sighed to herself, leaving the library at a brisk walk.

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She stuffed everything into her backpack, leaving the paper magazines on the table so that the librarians could refile them and headed out. Outside it was April and April in New York meant cold rain usually. Usually. Penny smiled at the warm sunlight that managed somehow to filter past all the tall buildings, it was unseasonably warm out, nearly sixty-five degrees, but Penny didn't mind at all because it was better than forty-five degree rain any day. After a block she found a subway station and took it up the island toward Central Park. After a ten minute ride and another five minute walk she used her key to open the slate gray access door and slipped back into the subway system. This entry way to Raphael's Lair, she snickered at the thought of his home as a lair like some kind of comic book hero, was much nicer than the one she had first gone through and far shorter to boot.

She found herself scrambling up one of the skateboard ramps that connected the platform to the tunnel proper just after three o'clock. Apparently Raphael and his brothers, whom he rarely spoke of, had been big into skateboarding when he was younger. She laughed at the memory of Wally trying, and failing, to ride one of the old boards through a half pipe. Some kind of eighties rock was playing and Penny could hear the sounds of sparring. She walked around the screens and built up walls and found Raphael schooling Randy in hand to hand combat. She had barely stepped over onto the platform that served as a dojo of sorts before Randy was deposited face first into the mat after trying to level at kick at Raphael's head.

"Ow."

"You need more flexibility and speed if you are going to kick anybody in the head. Though your form at least is improving." Penny found herself being tempted to agree. Randy was shirtless and wearing some nylon shorts, his feet and lower legs were bare. He was even more cut that he had been before they met the turtle and the sweat on his body left him somewhat shiny under the omni directional lighting.

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Yikes. Penny stopped, watching the scene before her. Most of the time, Randy was just Randy, but occasionally, she was forcibly reminded that he was a very attractive guy. Mike's way hotter, she reminded herself, smiling a little at the thought of her boyfriend.

"Hey, guys," she called as she dropped her bag on the floor and started to strip off her street shoes. "Sorry to be a bit late. Got caught at the library."

"Looking up medicine stuff again?" Randy asked, his voice soft.

"Yeah," Penny said, stripping off her jacket and putting it on her bag. Randy didn't ask if there'd been any news about her mother; she would have said. "Ok, Raph, what's up today?"

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"Fifty," he said flatly. "And then twenty more because you were late." Penny groaned, and Randy whistled through his teeth, seventy push-ups and sit-ups was a lot for Penny. Raphael raised an eyebrow as if to say, What are you waiting for? More? Penny got to it and soon was sweating and counting and sweating as Raphael proceeded to beat Randy up further under the auspice of teaching him Jujitsu.

An hour later Penny's arms burned and her stomach felt like it would never allow her to stand straight again. Randy sat nearby, and ice pack over a quickly growing bruise on his side. Raphael merely nodded at Penny and she lay on her side. "Come, you can rest when you are done. Show me your blocks." Raphael pushed them hard, maybe it as because they were human, or maybe because he knew they were soft, or at least that Penny was soft. Deep down however Penny knew that he was simply trying to make sure they were prepared. That they could defend themselves from people and things far more capable than they.

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"How do you know I'm not done already?" Penny moaned, even as she started to work out which brain impulse ordered which limb. Her body was a little confused about what was what right now. Slowly she stood to face Raphael. She really hated this part of her day. She knew on some level it was necessary, but she wasn't that good at it. It was more than a little embarrassing.

She took up her stance in front of Raphael, trying to remember how to hold her arms again. "For such a smart girl, you really aren't trying very hard to learn," he told her, frowning a little as he stepped forward and adjusted her block a little. "Keep your arms higher, or you're going to end up with a concussion."

"Sure," Penny said, tensing as he stepped back and took up his stance. She resumed her stance again, her mind starting to concentrate on fighting and blocks an-

"I love what that stance does to her ass."

Randy's comment snapped her head around to stare at him as she flushed bright red. Raphael's punch was already in motion, and his fist darted between her arms and connected with the back of her head. She was unbalanced and the impact threw her to the mat with a resounding thud. Even Raphael winced, while he shook his head.

"Penny!" Randy yelped, jumping to his feet. "God, are you ok?"

"Jerk!" she yelled at him as she tried to sort out her body again. "That's not cool to talk about me like a piece of meat! I'm dating your best friend, Randy!"

"Yeah, I know you're dating Mike!" he said, backpedaling and looking alarmed. "But I didn't say anything!"

"I heard you!" Penny shouted, still bright red.

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"Randy..."

"Yes, mast ..oof!" Raphael's kick hit Randy square in the stomach. There wasn't much force but it was plenty enough to drive all the air from the young man's lungs and double him over to the mat next to Penny.

"Perhaps next time you will remember what it is like when somebody breaks your concentration or attacks you when you least expect it. It is a lesson you would be wise to remember." Raphael offers each of them a hand to get them to their feet and then inspects Penny's head. "You will be fine. You would be more fine perhaps if you had less concern for how others viewed your backside and more for the attack coming toward you." Raphael shook his head and walked across a pair of heavy boards that lead to the main living area. The two teens could hear him muttering about "kids".

"Sorry. I didn't think ..." Randy had more or less recovered his breath. "How's your mom?"

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"She's fine," Penny said sullenly, then relented a little and added, "Well... as fine as someone in her condition can be." Her condition was 'dying' but Penny couldn't say the word. So long as she didn't say it, it wasn't really true, and she could just wait for her mother to get better.

"If you need anything..." Randy said awkwardly.

"Well, it might help if you stop talking about my ass," Penny said. "In fact, you shouldn't even be looking at it! I'm dating Mike, your best friend!"

"I'm aware of that," Randy said, his voice getting a little angry. "You're hot, ok?"

"It's not ok to talk about it," Penny retorted, blushing bright red. "How'd you like if I started talking about you like a piece of meat?"

"I'd be flattered," Randy told her. "You see it as demeaning, all I hear is 'nice ass'. I'm a guy."

Penny just rolled her eyes.

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The training continued, though Raphael allowed Penny to get some revenge by practicing her thrown on Randy. By the time Cole and Ramani arrived both of the teens were exhausted and drinking down water and Gatorade as they slowly stretched. Even randy would be sore tomorrow, which made Penny all the more apprehensive about the pain she would feel the next day.

Though Raphael did not instruct them he did observe as the two tigers sparred. Occasionally he would make a suggestion to Cole, who tended to fight on his feet, but he rarely spoke to Ramani, who's natural fighting style was lower, prone to three legged stances and low bounding strikes.

Eventually Penny and Randy got some take out and brought it back where everybody sat down to eat and talk.

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Cole smiled. He and Ramani were pretty much dead even, so they were perfect sparring partners. The rolled and Flipped and pounced on each other, pretty much splitting the results evenly with him eating mat as often as she did.

When A break was finally called, He nodded and once the food was brought back he dug into the chow mein and looked ot Randy and Penny. "You two are both getting better. Maybe one day soon you can spar with me." He wasn't being condescending, knowing Raph was tough enough on them that they could definitely fight well. He didn't indicate Ramani, because well, she just wasn't as controlled in fighting as he was.

He knew what Penny was going through, his Dad had the same thing, and it truly bothered Cole that His dad wouldn't be there next year.

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The meal was a quiet one. Though Randy had trouble keeping a straight face as he watched the thumb less Tigers try to eat noodles. Raphael joined them silently enjoying, of all things, a bowl of turtle soup. They were just cracking into the fortune cookies when Rodney burst into the space. He was out of breath and clearly excited or agitated.

Originally Posted By: Rodney
"I found it," he annouced.
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"I found the ... thing that killed my father! It's a gator, or crocodile type thing I think is like us. It's lair is a boat house I tipped the cops off too. I went inside earlier," he continues breathlessly, "and it smelled like an abattior. It made me gag."

"Anyway, the windows were boarded up as was the land-side door. The water door has a padlock on it. I popped the lock and that's how I got inside."

"I wanted the cops to start tracking down who really did it, so I called the detectives who were on my dad's case. They came by, took the site seriously, and called for back up and animal control."

"About that time I saw a shadow move under the water and I started tracking it. I lost it around the old Maritime School and I think it may still be there. Can you guys help me track this thing down and bring it to justice?"

"Even if it means exposing that things like it ... and us exist. I don't mean us specifically, but this gator-thing - I want the law to deal with him for his crimes."

Rodney sounds both desperate and determined.

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Cole looks thoughtful. He understood Rodney's zeal in this, but he didn't want to expose their kind. "It won't stop there Rodney. They'll see one, and look for others. I believe in the Law Rodney, but we need to handle this carefully. If it looks normal, we'll take it down and call them in and let them handle it. If not, if it is like us, the we'll have to find another way to see Justice done."

He was already thinking about how a Crocodile or Aligator would change, knowing that they could see in the dark, smell extremely well, and were immensly powerful, with the strongest set of jaws in the animal Kingdom.

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Rodney sputters in anger,

"What? We are going to become Judge, Jury, and Executioner? And what says I want to stay hidden anymore? Damn it, hiding didn't save my father. A monster still ate him. We've done nothing wrong. Why do we have to hide?!?!" he shouts.

Rodney is clearly furious and distraught.

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Penny exchanged a concerned glance with Randy before saying, "Rod, we know you didn't do anything wrong. But you know why you hide. I don't like the thought of passing judgment on another creature either. We aren't qualified, we aren't unbiased, and we don't have the authority.

"So let's seriously look at our options," Penny said, looking around the room. "We can leave it to the police, but we know that whatever they find will just disappear to wherever you're taken by the MIB. We can mete our justice ourselves, but that has all the problems we mentioned before. The best option is to find others like us, enough to police ourselves. It's far from the best solution, but it's what we have. The group could also work on the defense situation - I'm sure that the MIB continue to operate, and we really should do something about them."

"Uh, Penny?" Randy interrupted, frown lines appearing on his forehead. "We're a handful of teenagers, I'm not-" Raphael cleared his throat and Randy tried again. "We're a handful of teenagers and one awesome instructor," he added, pausing to get an approving nod from Raphael this time, "I'm not sure what you expect us to do."

"Whatever we can do," Penny said. She looked at them all, trying to judge what they thought about her idea. "Otherwise, we're going to run into this over and over. We need to change things."

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"We have to hide Rodney because aside from the people who raised us and Penny and Randy here most of humanity is going to think we're some kind of freaks to be put down and dissected."

"As to passing judgment on another, We can do so without it resulting in a fatality. I'd actually like to talk to to this thing before we deal with it, assuming we can."

He looks to Raphael. "Do you have any advice, Sensei?"

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Raphael grunts and slowly finishes his Lo Mein. "You will be forced to make hard choices, choices that only you can make. If Rodney wishes to go public and you cannot convince him otherwise you will need to decide if you will allow him or not, and then what you will do afterward. This creature may be like you, or it may not. This creature may not possess a thinking mind, you may not be able to reason with it. Regardless you are dealing with a predator, one that clearly had had no qualms about killing before. I trust you to gather the information you can and make the choice that will be best serve you and the greater good." To forestall any further questions he pops a chicken finger into his mouth and chews silently.

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"In other words, you aren't saying," Penny said to Raphael, sounding bemused. She glanced at the others. "While I suggested what I did, I'm very aware that I'm not like you guys. I'm not in your position. That said, I want to help you guys, and will do what I can."

She looked at Cole. "If you go with non-lethal punishments, you'll need a jail or some way to enforce the punishment. Trust me, I advocate that route. But I also see that we have limited resources and options, at this point. There just aren't enough of us yet."

She looked at Rodney. "When the police find your father's killer, they will just kill him anyway, or he'll end up in a lab. Or she... how sexist of me. Regardless, you're talking about taking the choice away from us and leaving it with people who don't care that you want vengeance for your father." Her hazel eyes locked on his. "Whatever happens, I want you to be happy with the outcome."

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Cole looks to Penny then to Rodney. "She has the right of it Rodney. We can handle this ourselves, or we can let the police do it. I'd wager there will be fatalities if the Police handle it. There shouldn't be if it's us."

He looks to the others. "Either way, I say we decide as a group how to deal with this. We have to stick together."

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Rodney grinds his sharp teeth with seething anger. He can feel the rest of them talking this problem away. They'll hide behind the need to hide, not realizing this is his Father they are talking about. Not even Cole sees that.

If he has to do this on his own, he will. Even if it betrays the others to have his vengeance.

Rodney realizes how wrong that sounds and it makes him want to bash his head against the wall. Then the answer occurs to him. Completion.

"I need you people with me on this. Don't let me down know. I've always been there and now I need you, as a team, to help me with this."

"Whether we catch him and kill him or her, or leave them tied up for the police to gather makes no difference to me. I don't want us talking this to death though. I don't know how much longer he will be at the Martime School. We don't have a lot of time."

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Cole Bristled in anger, his ears laying ack as his mouth opened to reveal his own large teeth. "We don't need to go in there half-cocked Rodney. If we do we could end up the ones in trouble." His voice was barely above a growl.

"I know this is important, which is why I'm in it to help you. but I'm not going to just rush headlong into a trap. We're going to beard a gator in it's lair here, not the wisest course of action here."

He calmed down after his little rant.

If we don't do this smart, then..."

He looked to Raphael. "Do you know any backways into the Maritime Academy? Things that aren't on the maps and such?"

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Raphael grunts as he stand and walks to a bookshelf slowly. If one only saw how he shuffled about his home they would be completely unaware just how much physical power he had. He returned and laid a paper map of New York on the table, it was old, folded many times with holes worn in a few places. "Hmmm, no, the closest subway station is Zegera Ave. and you would still need to cross another three, maybe four miles from there on foot. Not that that is much distance but it would take time if you were to remain unnoticed." He looked at Penny and Randy, "Do you have cars? It would certainly make things easier."

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Ramani mirrored Cole’s emotional outburst but remained silent except for an occassional low growl and snarl. She did sympathize with Rodney, though which confused her a little. She understood his frustration, too.

Maybe he was right and they were all thinking too much about this. They’ve managed to live in relative peace for the last 18 years or so and she didn’t even try to remain hidden actively. But then again she had no idea about her condition in the first place.

There was little room in her world for things that were „right“ or „wrong“. Most of the time survival was „right“ and getting hurt and not finding food was „wrong“. Justice never crossed her mind – she just followed the natural order.

„We are friends?“, she suddenly asked with her oddly guttural voice which somehow sounded female if one listened a while to her.

„Friends help – I will help you Rodney.“, it was just as simple as that. She didn’t think much about the consequences because it felt to her as the „right“ thing to do to help her friend.

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"We have a car," Penny said, slipping her hand into her pocket and jingling her keys. "I have my car; I didn't expect to need Meg's land-behemoth. "And yeah, we'll help Rodney, but we have to be sure that this alligator is responsible for killing his father."

She glanced at the angry bat. "Let's go and see what you've found. And then we can figure out how to attack this thing."

"If we need to attack it," Randy added. "With luck, we might be able to talk to it, and it can verify its guilt or innocence. Then we can do whatever we need to do."

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"I found out by spying on the police, Penny. You would have to see the photos of my Dad's corpse to see what they were talking about," he said with some sadness.

"If you want to know that it's a murder, let's go back to it's lair on the East river, you can go into the boathouse and smell the stench of rotting bodies and death like I did. It's okay with you not believing me, but we are going to lose time by proving me NOT to be a liar. The police are there and should be there for some hours."

"I'm excitable, not a moron," he says sullenly.

"Now, if you want to capture it and question it, we go now and we look around the last place I saw it. If you want it to get away, run down AGAIN the clues I've already gathered."

"I'm NOT stupid. I know what I saw, and what I've found out. If you don't trust me, then say so. I came here because I thought you would believe me and help."

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"Rodney, I didn't say any of that," Penny said calmly. "And when I said show us what you got, I meant take us to whatever we need to see. And yes, I want to help you, so let's go." She smiled. "We're just trying to figure out how to get there, ok?"

She glanced around the room and sighed. "We should just buy a van or something."

"Oo! Can we paint it black with a red stripe?" Randy asked.

"No," Penny grumbled. She looked at Rodney. "You know the path - what's the best way there?"

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"I can do that. I mostly fly by street signs anyway."

He proceeds to lay out the way somewhat North and East to the old Maritime Academy. He even notes that he can fly ahead and unlock the gate into the parking lot.

"Sorry for snapping all of you. I finally have come so close to this ... and I want to see it done with so I can have some closure in my life."

"If you want more information about what's been going on around the city with things like us, I think you need to get the notes of one Detective Giodorni. He knows more about what's going on than almost anyone on this side of the law that I've come across."

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Heading north along the island took Penny twice as long as it would have taken Rodney to have flow directly there. When they finally pulled up to the rusted gates at the Maritime Academy Rodney had been there for some time, the gate stood open, its massive rusted lock popped open. Rodney took to the air and flew deeper into the compound as Penny pulled up the drive toward the main buildings. The car's engine wasn't terribly loud at such low speed and the tires crunching along the ill maintained road surface made more noise at any rate. They drove along the north side of the peninsula and stopped in front of the office and class room buildings. They structures were worn, missing windows were not always boarded over, the front doors hung on their hinges. The ground was covered in bird droppings and bits of broken glass, metal, or concrete. The occasional beer bottle spoke to past parties, most likely by underage drinkers looking for a place well beyond the reach of the police.

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"No." Randy was staring out the window, "I know this kid, couple of grade ahead, he says they used to come here to party. They stopped when one kid went missing. Like just .... fuckin' poof! ... gone in the middle of the night, they never found him. Cops never found him." He gulped, "I wasn't thinking when Rodney said the Maritime school, otherwise I woulda said something sooner."

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"Well, we have a theory of what happened to they guy now. Any idea how long ago he disappeared. It could give us a wider understanding on how long it was hunting ... people."

Rodney looks around.

"Let's get going? Night time is a wasting. I lost him over here, " and 'over here' is were the Bat begins to waddle.

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"Once more into the breach." Cole follows Rodney, his senses all ratchedted up and alert for anything, looking for some sign of the thing they were hunting for.

Click to reveal..

Notice check

(08:00:18) ChatBot: (Cole) rolls 1d20 and gets 15.

15+5= (20)

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Randy looked like he was going to be sick. "Why the hell am I not at home playing Madden?" he muttered as he got out of the car and went looking for flashlights in the trunk. He tossed one to Penny and flipped the other on waving it along the ground. "What the hell are we looking for again?"

Rodney led them towards the old boat house. Time had not been kind and even in the dark the glow of city lights was enough to see that the roof had partially caved in. The sound of the water lapping against the shore was nearly drown out by the nearby 295 Expressway that bridged the river from Locust Point to the Cross Island Parkway. The steady drone of cars made the abandoned campus seem more menacing than less. They reached the boat house and found the door cracked from weathering, paint peeling off it. The handle was still locked and there was a deadbolt installed as well.

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"Okay, I can do this," he says shakely. By next January.

Click to reveal..

Disable Device +6 (DC 25) (12:30:44) ChatBot: (Adrian) rolls 5d20 and gets 4,12,6,14,3. First five attempts fail.

"Damn ... no problem people." Maybe I should just disemble the damn lock. Sure it would be obvious, but who cares right now.

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