|| Asymmetry | Role-Playing | Liberty League | | Turn 3 ||
"One of these days, I'll have to get Dr. Z to explain to me why I let the action figure group at Galoob talk me into getting a trademark on SHATTERBOLT (TM)." - Shatterman to Psyche
Terry is unsure of exactly where he is. The shock of seeing who, or what, is responsible for the disruption was severe. While he cannot really remember the circumstances that resulted in him being part of the team, he has often been told the story of how he had been a major threat. Now he doesn't know whether he is still a major threat to New Philadelphia and this part of him has been used to spy upon the team while they believed him to be 'made safe'.
He still felt like himself. He wasn't aware of anyone or anything controlling his actions but then he suspected the bits that made him up weren't aware of anything untoward either. He had been told that he was made up of many small parts that only became aware once a certain threshold had been passed, just like the hydra that populated the Earth's oceans. Jellyfish was the example used to explain things to him. Lots of little bits all working together under one seemingly controlling intent.
Could it be that he was part of a supreme controlling intent? It was this loss of confidence more than anything that caused his loss of cohesion. His next actions might help indicate.
The wind moves across his surface as he falls. Focusing on the immediate danger he extends his body to the desired shape. An octopus. Two of the tentacles lash out to catch hold of the departing disc and another two towards Dee. Obviously he is more concerned with catching Dee than catching the Disc - he could perhaps soften her fall.
His other tentacles are made ready to deal with further attacks from his 'relatives'.
Dee feels the red tentacle's suckers almost before she has the chance to register even a slight concern over the free-fall. The Silicon Sentinel manages to halt her plummet quickly and decisively. She glances up and sees her brother beginning to try to pull her back aboard even before he can stabilize the careening craft.
Thinking to herself, "there's really no way for me to get *to* the Disc if he's trying to catch it and me at the same time - it would be silly of him to put me in it instead of on the ground, so never mind that."
Speaking aloud she replies, "Thanks, Mr. T. S'ok, You can drop me off here. I think it's my stop."
Dee swears she reads a brief moment of curiosity in the transmuted features of her "brother" but he begins to recall her imperviousness and uncoils the tentacle holding her to it's full length, bringing her as close as possible to the ground.
All things considered, it's still a heckuva drop. As she falls she asks Terry, "Park that thing and get down here when you can." Dee lands in a pile of debris with a mighty crash.
Freeing herself in a matter of seconds she cracks her knuckles as smoke billows around her imposing figure.
The Four "Evil Terrys" that blasted the craft in tandem move to surround the Lady Libertine....
"Forget to mention your family reunion today, 'Form? Pavel chides.
"I thought my only family was Dee. I did not realise I had brothers too!"
"Hey, any reason to hope these guys might melt when wet?" He added as an afterthought, "Not that I'd use it against you later." Though the na‘ve Terraform was probably the only member of the League that would not immediately wonder.
"I have never melted when having a bath. Dee is very insistent that I bathe regularly, though I have never noticed the need..."
"If they are like me, then perhaps separating them from the Stuff of Life...."
"Isn't that what they're trying to do to us...?" mutters Pavel. Then into Zach's patented and convenient throat-mike, "Alright guys, let's see about containing this if we can. Lead 'em or push 'em, but Shatterman see if you can't make the third point of our triangle," referring to the loose formation with Pavel, Dee/Terry and Shatterman/Psyche at vertices. "Zach, anytime you want to engage the Big Brain, we're ready."
With a flurry of eldritch electronica, the Martian Mancer's reflection gestured to the back of (or more accurately 5' to the left of the back of) a nearby construct, which had so far not engaged him. "If we can't get mud out of these guys, how about glass?" The PDA blipped out a stored pnakotic incantation, and a deep orange flame flared on an annoying ball of sand.
Pavel smiles as he sees the creature begin to catch fire. A howl of pain joins the other sounds of carnage as the creature frantically tries to extinguish the blaze. It discorporates itself, scattering like so much dust across the scene of the crime. Seconds barely pass as it reforms itself, with only the barest signs that the flame attack would have any lasting impact on the entity.
Terry smiles as his efforts combined with Dr. Z's keen technological designs help stabilize the vehicle. He could dismount it and aid his sister within moments now....
"Rajni, seek." The dragon darts off, looking for civilians who may be trapped and in danger.
"All right, you lot, let's get on with this. I have homework to do."
Still confused by the morning's events Terry can't help but be confused. Was she talking to him? How could he be responsible for this?? Well, it's not like she was any good at the homework so what difference did a few hours out having a good time make??
This is not the panicked thrashing that had accompanied Terry's entrance into the world; these critters are directed. No other reason for them to have brought down the Disk like that. Thinking somewhat ruefully that at least there's no way she can do any more damage to the physical environs than they've already suffered, the Silver Dragon charges at the nearest shifting being and launches a flying kick at whatever currently seems to be the thing's center of mass. The other three will just have to wait their turns....
...Unfortunately for Dee, the thing's center of mass is just as fluid as Terry's and it snakes out of the way, in a whip like fashion. She sails past her intended target momentarily. As she lands she can't help but think it's always easier during training.
Terry watches as Dee wades into his havoc-wreaking counterparts... agonising only slightly about where his loyalties lay. With his sister of course - even if they do look more like him...
He reaches out with his power to form a large fist from the ground and tries to grab one of the sandy creatures. If he can then he will use it to knock the others off their feet...
To his dismay, his attack meets with as much success as his sister's did. The enormous hand erupts from the land but misses it's target by a Martian mile. Maybe he's still too distracted?
At that point three of the beasts swirl about the crouching Dragon. Their mighty stone-like fists rain down upon the heroine. One misses, smashing the debris in front of her into a fine powder. The other two connect savagely ...not with Deirdre herself, but the mirage-like scales she's come to expect to protect her in these ludicrous scenarios. Sand and shimmering light dance in her vision as she stands in the middle of the trio.
Terry smiles as he watches Dee stand defiant. The joy is immediately erased from his expression as the hand he summoned rises ever higher, against his will. It snatches him from the disc.
The creature in control simply shakes its head in disapproval of the young sentient ...and the hand squeezes ever tighter...
"Should have stuck with Baywatch," she reflects, not yet having seen Terry's dilemma. "Thanks for clearing the way, guys!" The Dragon charges back into the fray but not before she uproots a communication pylon. She sweeps low with the over-sized bludgeon in an attempt to knock one of the creatures off its feet.
If Jack were here to see this he'd be suitably impressed. The two have a bit of friendly rivalry going in the field (who can kick the most butt!). The creature tried to stretch up and out of the way of the attack but The Dragon was able to compensate at the last moment...sending the creature like a pop-fly baseball up and nearly a block over into the fifth floor exterior of The Channing Building.
The creature explodes on impact...almost like a water balloon. Sand cascades down the wall. Dee reckons it'll take some time for the bugger to re-form itself from that hit.
"Heh. Guess I don't know my own strength," she quips.
"No glass, no mud, I'll guess we'll just kick over sand castles." Pavel's finger jerked to the 'Big Red' icon...
...when he spotted Terry rising into the red Martian sky, clenched like a traffic summons in a silicon fist. "More evidence these things are none too bright -- they're trying to crush sand." He diverted his attack, with a flourish, to the clock icon. The scripted spell froze the immense hand in place before it could damage the naive Libertine.
"Free shot at the big fist," he informed the team, who by now were familiar with the Mancer's ability to briefly halt time around opponents.
* * *
Listening in to the conversation Psyche was taken by surprise when the creatures leapt out around them. Quickly realising that their intentions are hostile she attempts to build & project a picture of herself & Shatterman fading into the background; 'There's nobody here, just sky, nothing that shouldn't be there, just a cloud moving out of range, moving with the wind....'
"I'm trying to confuse them, do what you need to do Jack," she murmurs, "But don't drop me..."
"Don't drop," replies Shatterman. "Check"
El smiles as three creatures sail past the pair of do-gooders. Unfortunately that smile shifts to panic, as the vector seems to be enough to carry one of the beasties through on their attack....
At the last second Jack manages to shift position to bear the brunt of the impact on his durable frame. Shockingly, the monster literally explodes on impact. The force of the collision feels like they've been hit by many bags of cement. About 500 pounds of the stuff in fact. Sand cascades about the Leaguers and rains down on the street below.
The force of the blow is almost enough for him to lose his grip on Eleanor. Her body tenses as she feels his arms move out from below her form.
"Easy there, cowgirl. No dropsies remember?" Jack says with a wry grin borne from a pained wince.
"That's gotta hurt" Jack quips as he sees the three smash in similar fashion on the pavement.
...Unfortunately they seem to be coalescing their shapes again quickly.
"...Or not." The British Bombshell retorts.
"Resiliant little suckers, ain't they?" murmurs Shatterman. He slowed his air speed and brough himself to a semi-upright position. "Can you calm them with your powers?" he asked Psyche.
Having been hit in mid-air by the equivalent of two linebackers it takes her a moment to recover her breath, "I wonder where they came from?" Feeling the renewed feelings of hostility emanating from the creatures as they reform below she replies," I was thinking of trying that myself. I'll give it a go & attempt to pacify them but I'm not sure how many I can affect at once....." Reaching out to them mentally she fights the urge to respond in kind as she concentrates on sending them soothing, calm, 'we're all friends together' feelings.
...and it almost seems to work for the briefest of moments until Eleanor feels an overriding consciousness already at work. Something ...or someone, had pushed her out of contact with the beings. The monsters growl and howl in defiance.
"Okay, hang on tight then. I need a free hand." With unusual care, Shatterman raised a hand and launches a SHATTERBOLT (TM) at one of the creatures. "One of these days," he said to Psyche with a half-cocked grin, "I'll have to get Dr. Z to explain to me why I let the action figure group at Galoob talk me into getting a trademark on SHATTERBOLT (TM)."
The blaze strikes home sending one of the entities reeling back in pain and surprise as it seems the very sky itself seeks to punish them. The other three start scanning the sky with crimson eyes. Their destructive tendicies halted as they try to focus on the more immediate danger launched down at them from the heavens.
* * *
It takes only the briefest split-second for Gaslight to comprehend what is happening, as the explosion in front of him hurls his van backwards through the air and flips it on to its back. Unfortunately, understanding avails him nothing at the moment; with all four wheels in the air, there's little he can do except hold on and wait for the vehicle to stop spinning and skidding down the street.
The din of steel sliding on asphalt slowly dies down in his ears, leaving Gaslight dangling upside down in the driver's seat, held in place by the vehicle's safety restraints. Vowing to do a public service advertisement for seat belt use if he survives the day, GL braces himself with one arm against the roof of the driver's cabin (now below him) and unbuckles himself with the other. He quickly slides his body out of the seat, snaking his torso with the skill of an expert contortionist and righting himself so that he stands crouching on the roof of the van's cargo cabin.
Glancing briefly at the GPS monitor in the dashboard to pinpoint his exact location, he glides towards the van's rear cargo doors. He frowns at the broken test tubes and miscellaneous pieces of equipment strewn beneath his feet -- he'd secured his gear against the violent swerving a high-speed chase might entail, but hadn't thought to rig for the possibility of being flipped upside down. "Careless amateur," he thinks, berating himself for his lack of foresight.
As he approaches the doors, GL notes that their top frames have been crumpled by the impact, wedging the doors shut. Removing a small electronic touchpad from one of the many hidden pockets of his uniform, he punches in a sequence of keys and murmurs into the microphone mouthpiece of his mask,
"Rear doors, blow."
Shaped charges of plastique in the hinges explode, a muffled eruption that blasts both doors with enough force to blow them off their hinges, but not enough to send them flying more than a few feet. In that same instant, Gaslight hurls himself out the rear of the van, throwing himself into an immediate series of flips and tumbles that leaves him standing thirty feet to the rear of the vehicle. By the time he lands on his feet, his pneumatic pistol has mysteriously appeared in his left hand, grappling hook bolt already loaded, and a titanium escrima stick fills his right.
"Somebody's going to pay for driving up my insurance premium," he growls, flipping his escrima stick in his palm for emphasis.
Taking in his surroundings quickly he sees four monstrosities that bear a familial resemblance to the Norris family's Pinocchio. He begins moving fluidly in anticipation of an attack. An animalistic growl emanates from their throats as they acknowledge his presence. In seconds the pack lunge en masse at the Grim Guardian of New Philadelphia.
If Gaslight is surprised to find himself under attack by four shambling mounds of monstrous "Terra-critters," he does not betray it in his stance or posture. He appears wholly at ease as the four beings attack in unison, hurling their sandy forms at his body, and easily side-steps their brutish efforts. Onlookers would be hard pressed to claim they saw him dodge out of harm's way, though; he seemed instead almost to *saunter*, as though he hadn't a care in the world and had evaded their attacks only incidentally.
In truth, Gaslight is hardly paying any conscious attention to his attackers at all. He has relegated responsibility for his physical safety to "The Machine," that portion of his subconscious mind where impulse and action are one. He's acting on instinct and muscle memory alone -- conscious thought plays no role. It had taken Gaslight more than two decades of intense martial arts training to develop his combat instinct to a level that sometimes frightens even him, and The Machine knows its business. It directs his body with, well, *machine-like* efficiency, and Gaslight glides in and out between the shambling sand-creatures like a ghost, untouched by and barely aware of their fiercest efforts.
Meanwhile, his conscious mind, detached from The Machine's efforts, races to process the ramifications of this encounter and formulate a suitable plan of action. It's clear that someone has managed to duplicate the process by which Terraform had been gestated, but who? The black-clad vigilante hadn't heard the slightest hint from his network of "ears" that anyone might be attempting such a feat, let alone that someone had succeeded. And why unleash them in such a pointless attack? What could the objective of this senseless carnage be? To draw the Liberty League out, perhaps? From the chatter in his earpiece, at least some of them had been ambushed as he was, so that *could* be the objective, but as a motive it seems so... retro.
A glancing blow against his whirling cloak reminds Gaslight that, although only a few seconds had passed while his thoughts were racing, consideration of the whys and wherefores of his situation is probably better left until after he's dealt with the present threat. Unfortunately, he'd brought none of the "contingency weapons" he'd prepared for dealing with Terraform should the shapeshifter go rogue -- none of his high explosives, incendiaries, or chemical weapons (and Dr. Bizbee's "vibro-cannister" prototype is months away from completion, at least) -- and so he would have to improvise.
Gaslight's stick and pistol disappear beneath his cloak, returned whence they came as he continues his "dance," and a black cylinder roughly the size and shape of a high-gauge shotgun shell appears in his palm. Gaslight hurls it down at the ground, and is already back flipping away when the impact sensor triggers a flash of brilliant white light. The two-fisted vigilante executes several more flips, and then sprints a short distance to the other side of the street, before finally pausing to see if the flash had the desired effect.
A sly smile crosses his face beneath the gas mask as he sees the man-made menagerie stumble about blindly. If they were men he could rattle off at least thirty ways to put them out of commission even from this distance factoring in only his knowledge of Moo Gi Gong alone. Of course they're not men ...so he'll just have to improvise.
Unfortunately for the silicate savages, improvisation is one of Gaslight's many specialties.
* * *
"They're him? Hmmm...no reason to assume that the incident was irreproducible. Perhaps the epicenter will reveal more." Zach is somewhat worried about any damage the falling Liberty Disk could do to old town, but trusted in the stabilizing gyroscope and automatic hover features he had installed to keep it from actually striking the ground unless it was attacked again. Since Terraform can change form to something that flies and he had tested Deirdre as being capable of surviving a fall from the edge of the Martian atmosphere without significant damage, there was no reason for concern.
That firmly in mind, he recalls all the methods he had developed for dealing with Terraform during their first encounter while sliding a force-field covered sky sled towards the attacks epicenter.
On his way to the initial scene Zach recalls Terry's birth...the League's first mission actually. Shortly after he, Dee, and Jack got empowered by Zevon's attempt to replicate The Philadelphia Experiment Dee's parent's lab was under attack...by one of it's own creations.
The idea behind was that the initial project was to create a hydra like creature that would have some awareness that could be used on terraforming projects.
The problem was that the awareness became full consciousness and the problems were the thrashings of a newly born intelligence. Instead of having something like a trainable dog they got something that could think but had to learn to communicate
Terry was making a royal mess in his new confused and uncertain state, and while The League was able to drive him out of the complex through various methods (force field walls, super strength throws & power blasts) most of their time was spent protecting innocent people endangered by Terry's nativity.
Eventually, Shatterman and Dr Z were able to combine efforts to break up Terry's sand form (Power Blast to open a hole for Dr Z to insert an expanding force field bubble) and while he was reforming Dee was able to use Ranji, her dragon, to make an empathic link to the creature and calm him down.
"We figured out that Terry was more confused than threatening, so opening up a dialogue was always the goal - we just had to calm him down enough. Hopefully that's the case here." Dr. Z says absent-mindedly to no one in particular as he is broken from his reverie when he touches down amidst the carnage outside of Galileo's Dinner.
He notices the familiar terraforming side effects his teammate's abilities generate -- flowers native to Earth dot the broken landscape. As he begins scanning the area he's shocked to see one of the silicon savages fly past his periphery.
"That clinches it - they're definitely creations of the same type of experiment. But why so many? And their actions...hmmmm." Zach flicks two switches. The first, on the hover bike, sends out a location code on the private frequency he uses to send messages to Gaslight when needed, telling his ex-roommate his location. Mason can likely guess that Zach would like him to drop by. The second, on his forearm, selects out the comm channel with Shatterman in his collar mounted transmission unit.
Any other man would take immense pride in these devices but their wonder has long sense been replaced with bigger and more daunting tasks in the mind of Dr. Zachary Zevon - The Smartest Man on Mars!
Built into the collars of their uniforms - pick up mikes at the throat, speakers just below the left ear, they use strange principals of the PE energies to broadcast outside of normal space. While still unfortunately bound by the light speed limit, they do provide reliable, uninterruptible communication between the members of the Liberty League regardless of planetary distances or physical obstacles. OK, so sometimes there's static from other times and parallel dimensions, but what can you do? Zach tried to assure him teammates when he unveiled them years ago.
"Jack, can Psyche sense any emotional state with these creatures?"
"If Psyche can't calm them down, they're about to be screaming in pain," says Shatterman.
"Doc, they're full of emotion and very, very hostile," she replies into her own communicator, "but it's peculiarly animalistic in nature"
"Yep," says Shatterman into his ultra-tech communicator, "these proto-froids are definitely razored. Doc, my blasts seem to affect them, but..."
"I can't seem to calm them, each time I get close another mind gets in the way!" Psyche sounds frustrated and not a little annoyed by her lack of success, "I don't appreciate someone messing with my work. Doc, I'm going to have a go at pin pointing their controller and taking him out of the equation."
"What she said," continues Shatterman. "Doc, I can blast all day. You want us to beat on them here or should we try to lure them to another area or anything?"
Dr. Z nods absently as he banks his bike out of sight of the two odd elderly men he's just noted near Galileo's Dinner. "Psyche, your opposing force is entirely to be expected - these creatures shouldn't be this hostile naturally, and I think I've spotted the people responsible for this unnatural aggression. Continue scanning, see if you can confirm my analysis and perhaps break off the outside control."
"Jack, I'm at the epicenter right now. Get Psyche to my position as stealthily as you can manage -- and keep her protected from the silicate entities. They look dangerous to people without out PE durability. After that, you'll probably have to help the others to minimize the damage. I'm about to make contact. Dr. Z out."
"Hang on Doc," said Shatterman. "We'll be right there."
Then, with a wink to Psyche, Shatterman does what he does best: Blast Things. "I feel like the Predator," he says with a grin, "what with you hiding us like this." Still floating in the air, he tightens his grip on Psyche and shifts twenty feet toward the last known location of his teammates and ten feet up. "This is warp eight! We've got to perfect this tactic!"
Psyche smiles, pleased that her particular skills do have something to offer. "It's certainly puts an interesting slant on a shoot 'em up Jack. You keep them under control; I'm going to have a go at something else. I'll do my best to keep us hidden but I'm going to need to concentrate on something else...."
"Watch this," Shatterman says. Then, with a bit of reckless confidence, he releases two blasts from his hand: one at the creature he already shot, and another at the next nearest morphoid. Monstrous bolts of energy appear suddenly from thin air and scream toward the surprised antagonists.
The former bursts like a geyser and the latter seems to wobble first before keeling over for the moment.
Meanwhile as Dr. Z prepares to make good on his word...
"...And you will kindly stay down this time creature!" A resolute voice intones as an older gentleman steps out from the wreckage, holding another elderly man at his side. Tapping his cane twice with a graceful authority sends a ripple of energy across the sundered surface. When it connects to the "Evil Terry" the impossible happens as it turns into a bed of flora Zevon has never before seen...on this or any other planet.
"Biologically generated probability manipulation. Fascinating." Since neither man seems exceptionally spry or capable of self-propelled flight, Zach takes the second to bring the hover bike down out of sight, lest one of then destroy it and it's transmitter. On the ground and still wrapped in his indestructible aura, he confidently steps around the corner to take the measure of these two gentlemen.
Heisenberg is obviously not that young (age and infirmity are possible), he might need that cane or another physical contact focus to direct his powers, and most likely would be very vulnerable to some form of teleportation/destabilization or more likely a concretization. Zach's own PE energy force field might 'lock him down" though other more powerful methods might be required.
I think that's the best guess. His powers would likely be trumped by some PE effect that would make him more stable, or force him to be identifiably in a single place. Being encased in Zach's force field may weaken him, but it will probably take something larger - like the re-integration units on the ships prototype teleportation drive - to shut his powers down permanently.
...But in one of those rare moments in his life, he's unsure of his hypothesis. He's almost certain that Heisenberg is somehow manipulating his perceptions. The frustration he feels is strangely akin to his attempts to explain the bizarre events that often surround Deirdre. Jack once dubbed her a "weirdness magnet," he recalls before being forced back into focus.
"Come now, boy. Stop worrying about me and see to my roguish comrade's injuries. I'd truly hate for this to turn into one of those boorish fracases you heroic types like to indulge in so much."
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