The Triumvirate

An interactive forum that focuses on DC and Marvel like superheroes...

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Post by Jagtai » Thu Mar 29, 2007 12:19 am

Moonsong looked confused.

"You died?" Suddenly it dawned on her. "You symbiote saved you? That's why you wanted to keep them?" She studied Melody. "It must be weird having a symbiote. Does it talk to you?"

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Post by Halcyon508 » Thu Mar 29, 2007 12:22 am

“They are always there, they give me advice, they encourage me, and I think when I’m sleeping they sing to me.” Melody looked up. “But that might just be a dream. However I know all that they know, albeit most of it is just vague recollections.” Her legs swung from her seat. “They saved me, but I think in a way I saved them too.”
Domani, forget domani
Let's live for now and anyhow who needs domani?
~ Frank Sinatra, Forget Domani

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Post by Jagtai » Thu Mar 29, 2007 12:23 am

Moonsong smiled.

"They sound nice. Maybe having a symbiote isn't all bad."

A bell rung through the house. Moonsong rose.

"Dinner time. Come on."

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Post by SmokeMare » Thu Mar 29, 2007 8:37 am

Smokemare rolled his eyes sarcastically at the mysterious girl who had seemingly just teleported him out of the less desirable part of town to some mansion. "Well, done... You should join the circus..."

Swimming awkwardly, his black trench coat trailing behind him, he made it to the side of the pool and dragged himself out. He rolled onto his back, panting heavily, "Well, that means you owe me a drink I suppose... And get me some cigarettes if you can... I've no idea why you're so interested in me though, I suppose if you fix me up with fags and booze - I'll tell you really depressing story... How's that for a deal?"

He looked at her swimming towards him, looking a little chirpy and happy considering how miserable he'd been to her. As she reached the side he shrugged at her awkwardly, "Sorry if I'm a bit miserable, I've had a crap day... Every day has been a crap day sine erm, well since forever... And don't look at me like that - I'm not some mental case, well I didn't think I was until some voice started telling me that I'd actually nearly saved the world or something, but then the evil Cyzor folded space-time and everything about reality changed... Hah! Maybe I am going mad?"

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Post by Jagtai » Thu Mar 29, 2007 11:22 am

Succubus got out of the pool and looked at herself. She was dripping wet and her clothes had turned mildly transparent, but she still grinned widely.

She looked at the man. He seemed utterly insane, yet not. She was ripped out of her thoughts by a familiar voice:

"I see you have brought a guest, Nikita. What do we owe the pleasure?"

Malice, in his guise as Franklin Smith, had appeared from within the mansion. Succubus smiled to him.

"This is..." she stopped, then looked at the man she had saved. "Who are you?"

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Post by SmokeMare » Thu Mar 29, 2007 12:53 pm

Smokemare felt more trapped than usual at this point. He'd had little or no social interaction for a long time and for some reason he found this strange place, with it's strange people - very threatening.

'Don't change dammit! You'll only regret it! Dammit - Don't change, DON'T CHANGE!!! STAY SOLID!!! '

He slowly and methodically climbed to his feet, the girl seemed to be finding this whole situation far too amusing and it made him even more desperate to leave. He studied the newcomer, he was very well dressed and appeared to be a man of means.

"I'm nobody, some bum, who was about to make another futile attempt at taking his own life a few minutes ago... Until your teleporting munchkin friend here ruined it for me, I've got a long walk back to the subway now..."

He looked around, he was not familiar with this part of town at all, he walked away from the pair rubbing his chin, then turned to them and sighed defeatedly, "I don't suppose you could point me towards the nearest subway?"

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Post by Jagtai » Thu Mar 29, 2007 1:32 pm

Malice laughed.

"You would be walking all night. Why don't you come inside, have a glass of cognac and a cigar, and tell us why you wish to kill yourself?"

He stepped aside to let the man pass, should he decide to take Malice up on the offer...

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Post by SmokeMare » Thu Mar 29, 2007 2:14 pm

Smokemare screwed his face up in confusion, then shook his head in disbelief at the sharply dressed man.

"Hmmph, I'll take the glass of cognac and the cigar - the killing oneself I will try to explain, I doubt you would understand. Still, if it will earn me a drink and a smoke, sure - I'll regale you with a wondrous stories of being imprisoned in a living hell... void of purpose, life, pain, reason... Void of almost everything about life that makes it worth living - while at the same time being totally inescapable... and that's not to mention the wierd voice in my head that started whining on about some villain called Cyzor today... And how I can be helped... Grrrr, fine - lead on, make mine a double, no a triple... just find a bottle you don't mind emptying..."

He gestured to for the sharp dresser to lead the way.

'Don't trust these people, they can't help you! They will take you down a path you weren't ment to take.'

"For gods sake shut up! I'm not listening to you! Erm, sorry not you - it's the voice whining at me again. If I shout at it, it tends to go away for a while... Please lead on, I'm looking forwards to that drink."

He began walking towards the house behind the others, somewhat confused and exhausted by todays run of events. Feeling bitter and angry.

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Post by Jagtai » Thu Mar 29, 2007 9:46 pm

Malice led the man into the living room, and poured him a large glass of cognac. He reached into the humidor and withdrew a pair of Cuban cigars - contraband in the United States, but the best cigars in the world, supposedly rolled between the thighs of young Cuban women.

He handed the man the glass and one of the cigars, then poured himself a glass of brandy and sat down opposite him.

"So, do you happen to have a name?"

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Post by SmokeMare » Fri Mar 30, 2007 8:09 am

"So, do you happen to have a name?"

Smokemare sighed deeply, popped his cigar in his mouth and reached for the lighter on the table. Taking his time he set the end of the fat, brown cylinder alight and drew deeply. He didn't draw on it like you were supposed to draw on cigars, but more like a cigarette, pulling the smoke deep down into his lungs and holding it in.

After he released a billowing plume of smoke into the air he downed his drink in one long, savoured gulp. He could see the gentleman in the suit and the teleporter girl looking impatient, so he slid his glass back onto the table.

"Hmmm, interesting question... Do I happen to have a name? Probably not, no... I used to a long time ago... Years ago... I don't think I've had the call for a name of late though. I don't have any friends or associates and I've been living on the streets since I got here."

He sucked on the cigar again and gestured that he would like another drink, "They used to call me Marcus if I recall... Although that used to be my middle name... There's another name I've been referred to as well. Recently I started hearing a strange voice in my head, sounds like a young girl - she referred to me as Smokemare... It seems appropriate, and I sort of like it - so you can call me that if you like."

He looked at their expressions, they clearly weren't totally satisfied with the information he had offered so far. "I'm actually from England, Oxford, I graduated from Oxford University, Bachelor of Philosophy - didn't finish my masters though.... Personally I am an existentialist, life has no grand purpose, there's no such thing as fate or destiny... I sum it up more simply though - my own dissertation could have been summed up with one line, 'The universe shits on you - deal with it.' I got a first by the way... Nietzshe was nearly right I think, I don't think god is dead - I don't think there ever was a god..."

He pulled hard on his cigar and looked anxiously at his empty glass.

"Why exactly are you so interested in me? That's something I can't fathom - I thought the typical New Yorker attitude to jumpers would be to shout, 'Wait for me to get my camera out! Okay I'm ready - JUMP!' Obviously - you aren't the typical voyeur, but I'm interested in why not - so come on your turn - why so interested?"

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Post by Jagtai » Sun Apr 01, 2007 12:06 am

Smith smiled. He rose, picked up the bottle of cognac, and poured 'Smokemare' another glass as he answered:

"Well, Marcus," Smith deliberately used the man's given name, "we are not New Yorkers. I was born further south, and Nikita here was born in Russia."

He took a sip of his brandy.

"Our interest is primarily in 'why'. Why would you kill yourself? Do you hate yourself so much that you feel that the only road to redemption is Death?"

Smith's green eyes locked with Marcus'. They seemed to look into his very soul.

"Or is it as simple as Survivor's Guilt?"

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Post by SmokeMare » Sun Apr 01, 2007 11:21 am

Our interest is primarily in 'why'.

The primarily was the word that stuck out to Smokemare, it implied further interrogation was likely to follow. He felt a growing pressure to leave again.

'Don't change, stay sloid! DO NOT CHANGE!'

He managed to quell his thoughts and sucked long and hard on the cigar again, and shook his head softly.

"Dear me, you really don't understand do you? Haven't you ever wanted to attempt something impossible? Is it not the natural instinct of the prisoner to desire freedom? Have you ever read Jean-Paul Sartre? he thought that, individual consciousness is responsible for all the choices it makes, regardless of the consequences. Condemned to be free because man's actions and choices are his and his alone, he is condemned to be responsible for his free choices. I my friend, am a strong advocate of freedom of choice."

He sucked the cigar and took a deep swig of cognac, half-draining the new glass, "You still don't understand do you? But I'm beginning to think I do - you're a telepath? You know about the fire? Yes, I think about it, but I don't feel guilty. I envy them to be honest, at least they are free."

He couldn't tell whether his hosts were getting the jist of what he was saying.

"Let me go back to Sartre, he thought we were condemned to be resposnsible for our own actions because of freedom of choice? What if that choice is gone? Imagine you didn't want to continue living, but you were forced to, under very difficult circumstances? You surely seen the films where the villains threat is not that he can kill the hero, but that his torturers can keep the hero alive for years... Well, put simply that is my life, I cannot die... My life is very uncomfortable though... Look, for some strange reason I take a certain amount of solice in my occasional and frequent, yet futile attempts to kill myself... Not sure why... Maybe it just breaks up the day a little bit? Otherwise I would spend all my time drinking, smoking and stealing money to pay for it... And that simply wouldn't do."

He thought they looked a little confused and a little suprised, but still expecting more answers. "Anyway - You never know, I met get lucky and succeed one day! I hope so, I appear to have stopped aging... Well, I'm not a telepath, so before you continue this interrogation, could you do me the courtesy of telling me who you are? I'm fairly certain this isn't the local branch of the Samaritans..."

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Post by Jagtai » Sun Apr 01, 2007 12:00 pm

Smith turned his head to look at Succubus.

"Leave us."

Succubus nodded and left, closing the door behind her. Smith turned his head once again. The room was silent, yet a strangely eerie laugh seemed to pervade the room. Suddenly the laugh was replaced by an even eerier voice, that seemed to come from everywhere, yet nowhere:

"You are more clever than you look, Smokemare. I am indeed a telepath. And you are right, my interest in you is not that of an Samaritan."

The everywhere-voice stopped, replaced by Smith's natural voice.

"I am called Malice. I am sure you have heard of my latest exploits." He leaned forward. "The Met?" He smiled.

"So, you have a deathwish?" His green eyes turned cold. "Have you ever died, Marcus? It is not a pleasant experience, I promise you."

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Post by SmokeMare » Sun Apr 01, 2007 2:08 pm

Robbery at the Metropolitan Museum

Yesterday's headlines... A teleporting girl, and her telepathic friend? Who could be better equipped to pull it off? It sounded unbelievable, but he had every right to believe it was true, he shifted eneasily in his seat, being clear now that he was in the presence of unknown, wanted felons made him feel yet more uncomfortable.

'Don't change dammit! You'll only regret it! Dammit - Don't change, DON'T CHANGE!!! STAY SOLID!!! '

He desperately fought the urge to smoke-form, then turned his thoughts to the question.

"I don't think so Malice... Although if re-incarnation exists in the most widely believed form I wouldn't remember it. I don't believe in God, I don't believe in the devil, I believe in neither heaven or hell. If I died, well yes, I suppose some discomfort might be involved, but afterwards I would not be around to either feel pain, or remember pain - so from my point of reference the grief I've suffered on a daily basis will have never existed. If I found a way of actually destroying myself - Well, my complete pain of a life, would never have existed. SO in the short term, the pain would be worth it."

He finished his glass, and clicked it back onto the table, then sucked hard on the cigar, pulling the smoke deep into his lungs, after a few moments he exhaled slowly through his nostrils. There was something about what Malice said... He looked into his eyes, what was there? Was it... ? No...?

He laughed a little, smoke spurting from his nostrils in short bursts, "Wait a minute, you're telling me YOU have? You should have done philosophy - alot of noted philosophers have asked the question - what happens after death... I don't know what you'd report, but I'm sure it wouldn't be popular with the religious lot... Look, Malice, so your interest in me isn't Samaritan? Then what? Apart from supplying me with fine drinks and smokes, which I appreciate, is your interest?"

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Post by Jagtai » Sun Apr 01, 2007 8:38 pm

The green eyes studied Smokemare. Finally, Malice answered:

"Yes, I have. But I must disappoint you and the philosophers of history - I don't remember anything but the pain."

He sat back, sipping his cognac.

"My interest in you, however, is quite ordinary compared to our discussion. Your powers can come in handy in my line of work." He raised his hand to stop Smokemare before he could reply. "I realize, of course, that you would require something more than mere material wealth. I am willing to offer you a way out." He smiled, a sinister smile remniscient of pure evil. "I am willing to help you die."

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Post by Jagtai » Sun Apr 01, 2007 9:47 pm

A piece of paper was lying on the table in the library, when Niki left the study. She looked at it.

"Niki. The local S.T.A.R. Labs branch has in its possession a so-called 'Genetic Recicitation Cannon'. I want you, Trish and Melody to go there, steal the GRC, and return here with it."

The note was signed by Smith. Succubus smiled and went to gather the other two...

*****

The three girls appeared on the roof of a building across from the local S.T.A.R. Labs branch. Succubus turned to the others.

"We need to get inside, find this GRC cannon, and get out. Any ideas?"

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Post by Halcyon508 » Sun Apr 01, 2007 11:53 pm

Melody looked up as the Symbiote consumed her. “I got one.” She shot her Web to the S.T.A.R. lab and then shot another just above the first creating a small ‘bridge’ across to the other side. She gracefully walked across the wire as the others followed her putting their hands on the top rope and feet on the bottom.

Venom was excited, Melody could tell he enjoyed action. As they reached the building beyond, there was a roof hatch entrance with a large padlock on it. Having memories from a previous host, though which melody could not tell, enter her mind she quickly took out a finger and watched as the symbiote warped it into a long nail like object. She picked at the crude lock until it popped open.

“That was too easy.” Melody said as she gently pulled the hatchway up. She walked down the stairs with the girls following her and looked around at a room made completely of metal. The room was solid steel with a vault door and keypad. “Ok maybe I spoke to soon.” We can tear it open! Venom said to her. Toxin remained quiet. “I don’t suppose either of you know the password?” she said looking at the keypad.
Domani, forget domani
Let's live for now and anyhow who needs domani?
~ Frank Sinatra, Forget Domani

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Post by SmokeMare » Mon Apr 02, 2007 8:11 am

"I am willing to help you die."

It was a tantilising thought, he coughed slightly, smiling in an almost mocking way. Then he raised his eyebrows and chuckled, "I'll be honest Malice, I don't trust you, and I don't believe you... I believe, that you believe you can help me - but I have tried some extreme methods and so far... Nothing..."

He sucked the fat cigar again, hard and long, then tapped his ash into the waiting tray, "That said, I suppose I'll try to help you... I don't know what you think you know about my 'powers'... I'm surprised if you learned about it through telepathy as I certainly don't think of it as a 'power'... More a curse... Still, what was it Bob Dylan said?, 'When y'ain't got nuthin' you got... Nuthin' to lose.' Well, I've got nothing to lose so I'll try to help you out, hmmmm, one thing though - I don't hurt people... Okay I steal, but I only steal what I need and I don't make a mess or break anything getting in or out... I'd rather they thought they'd misplaced something, than feel their home had been invaded..."

He watchd Malice's expression as he poured himself another drink and took a deep swig, "So... What do you want me to do for you? Hmmm, let me re-phrase that - what do you think I can do, that you would like me to do for you? Okay, you may have picked up that I have a slightly different physiology to the average person, and it could be construed to have it's advantages - but there are alot of limitations... And it isn't a nice thing to do... So spit it out - how I can help?"

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Post by Jagtai » Mon Apr 02, 2007 8:41 am

Malice smiled.

"I don't expect you to trust me, Marcus."

He pulled in smoke from his cigar, then blew it out in a cloud of grey smoke.

"Vile habit, really."

He leaned forward.

"I know what you know, Marcus. You can change your molecules into a smoke-like substance. I realize it is far from pleasant, but it is very useful for a thief."

He leaned back and sipped his brandy.

"I have no problems with leaving our 'victims' unharmed. In that regard, we share a mutual philosophy."

He smiled.

"There are certain...items...that is rather hard to get for a normal, or even an abnormal, thief. But you...you are not restricted by walls. Any opening is a way in for you."

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Post by Jagtai » Mon Apr 02, 2007 8:44 am

Succubus smiled.

"Not a problem." She took hold of Venom and Moonsong and suddenly seemed to be in a pitchblack pit. Then light returned, and the three young women found themselves on the opposite side of the door.

Succubus looked at Venom.

"Lead on."

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Post by SmokeMare » Mon Apr 02, 2007 11:10 am

Smokemare nodded softly, "True... Except anything air tight... Plus it can be difficult getting the objects out of course. I can make other objects form into my smoke - but it's rather unpleasant, and I've only tried it with relatively small objects... I prefer to throw things out of windows or open doors from the inside."

He dragged hard on his cigar and slurped his brandy, "Actually I used to like a challenge, so what do you want me to steal and where is it?"

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Post by Jagtai » Mon Apr 02, 2007 12:24 pm

Malice smiled.

"It is quite simple. Lexcorp has in its possession a microchip. It is still being developed, and so is being kept under lockdown in the laboratories in the tower. It is heavily protected, but who would suspect some smoke?"

He dragged on his cigar, then allowed the smoke to siphon out of his mouth.

"Is that enough of a challenge for you?"

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Post by SmokeMare » Mon Apr 02, 2007 1:04 pm

Smokemare smirked, "Any idea where this place is? What about where abouts the chip is? What it even looks like?"

He rubbed his chin thoughtfully, supped his drink, and sucked his cigar, "Other than that, it sounds extraordinarily easy... I probably won't even have to appear anywhere on the CCTV... It would probably simply appear to vanish into thin air... Still you never know - there's one way to find out I suppose."

He threw the last of his drink back and took a final suck on his cigar before stubbing it out in the centre of the ash tray.

"Have a drink ready for me when I get back - now where's this chip stored?"

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Post by Jagtai » Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:29 pm

"Naturally. The laboratory is located on the 47th floor of the Lexcorp building on West 42nd Street, across from Bryant Park. The chip is presumably kept in the vault on the 47th floor. As for the chip, I believe it is small and square."

OOC: Honestly, I have no idea what is located across from Bryant park, and I don't care. It's Lexcorp now.

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Post by SmokeMare » Tue Apr 03, 2007 8:25 am

Smokemare stood up and laughed softly, "I'll see you later Malice..."

Bryant park... It was a good walk, but it was still early in the day and he felt like some exercise. Despite being unfamiliar with the area, he could tell which way it was to the centre. Bryant Park was where many of the taller scky scrapers were located, you could tell it a mile off.

He left the house and headed towards the sky scrapers, feeling strangely jovial. It was wierd - having a purpose, being given a task... He was looking forward to it, expecting it to be fun. He mulled over his many options on how to infiltrate the building and get the chip out undetected as he walked. Soon he'd crossed the bridge over the water and was strolling through the greenery of Bryant Park.

Men in suits were sitting on benches reading papers, women were walking through the park pushing prams. He smirked at the uniformity and mundane-ness of their lives. Not that his life was any more significant, but he at least realised this - the men in their sharp suits didn't so far as he could tell though.

Looking around the Lexcorp building was not difficult to spot. A magnificent architectural triumph, in decorative white concrete and blue mirror tinted windows. It's curves and sweeping lines wove together up towards the skyline, starting as two towers at the bottom, then merging into one at the top.

Security seemed high, you cold not even approach the doors, with out a swipe card, iris scan and key code. He watched a man in a suit approach, perform the required at the gate, only to be scanned with a metal detector and a fingerprinter at the doors, followed by another iris check.

CCTV cameras were dotted about the building, covering all access points, it would have been a challenge for any ordinary thief. Smokemare however had his plan already in mind. He wandered around the large building, slinking into the back streets, then moving away from the building, away from it's prying CCTV eyes.

Once clear and out of sight he slowly formed into smoke, the pain of his molecules transforming and seperating caused him to grit his teeth, but in mere seconds he was a floating mass of black, acrid smoke.

Rising up out of the alleyway he floated up to the skyline, right to the top of the building. Then he thinned out considerably, into thin whisps of barely detectable smoke. Wafting over the tip of the building he slowly felt his way into the ventilation system. Finely spaced particle filters slowed him down but he was able to slowly seep through into the labs.

His senses worked in a different way when he was smoke, he could not see but he could sense his way in. CCTV was everywhere, so he worked his way into the cavity in the walls and found an area which was clearly not intended for human habitation. He quickly formed his human, solid form. He was barely able to move and could see very little in the cramped space behind the walls. Quickly he set about ripping wires out, left right and centre. Occasionally jolts of electricity would zap him, pushing him into smoke forming, but he held solid and continued attacking the wiring. Soon, screams of confusion and cursing was heard from the room and the sound of mass panic grew. Eventually almost the whole hub of wires was destroyed, and he heard the faint squeaking of screws being undone.

Without pausing for thought he fell into smoke and cascaded into the corridor. He sensed the person who had finished unscrewing the hatch scream 'Fire! and quickly wafted his way into the lab. A few people had torches going and were shing them around, shouting in confusion and panic.

The chip was on a pedestal in the centre of the main lab. Plugged into the mainframe, but now unpowered and the security surrounding it totally disabled. He floated closer, formed semi-solid and grabbed the chip, carefully prising it from it's cradle, then he formed fully into smoke again, and wafted his way through the trickle vents in the doors out to the outer shell of the building. Soon he'd wafted out into the fresh air and was descnding to the streets below...

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Post by SmokeMare » Tue Apr 03, 2007 1:52 pm

Jefferson and Kramer were frantically battling to get the power back on. The main power circuit and the backup had been disrupted. Working with pliers, screwdrivers, and a laser wire joining tool they got the lights back on in a few moments.

Sandwell screamed down the corridor as the flourescent tubes flickered into life, "Oh my god! Ixus 7 is missing! Security lockdown! Someonees taken Ixus 7!"

Jefferson pulled away from the destroyed wiring, "What the hell? What the hell did this?" Kramer shrugged, "Even a teleporter couldn't get in there with the phasonic-field over the lab... Employee?" Kramer shook his head,"No way, they'd know the lock-down would happen. Nobody is leaving this floor until they've been strip searched! There's going to be hell to pay!"

Jefferson sniggered, "Well, if they want to search me I'll insist Jeanie carries out the search..." Kramer smirked at him, twirling his screwdriver, "You sick bastard... I'm gonna tell em' to get Jeanie to do the searches and I'm going tell her search you REAL thorough... Maybe you hinted to me that you were gonna smuggle it outa' here!"

***

Meanwhile Smokemare was drifting fast away from the building and thickening his smoke. Desperate to become solid again he got a couple of blocks away in the back alley's and formed. His mouth tasted all plasticy and metallic, the chip was only a small item, but it left a molecular imprint on him. As he formed he doubled over in pain heaving and retching, coughing black goo onto the sidewalk which formed back into smoke and wafted back into him.

He collapsed onto the floor, wheezing and coughing, doubled over in pain, smoke spurting from his nostrils and mouth, "Shit... That Malice had better make this worth my while..."

Slowly the tastes of ash, plastic and metal dissipated, his vision improved and his lungs began to work properly again. Still lying on the floor he pulled the chip out of his pocket and held it up, a tiny thing... So small, yet it had caused him so much trouble. It took him a long time to recover, the sun was low in the sky when he started the long treck back, when he made it back to the mansion nobody seemed to be about, the door was unlocked so he opened it and wandered back into the study. The cognac was out so he clicked the chip onto the table and poured himself a glass, then took himself a cigar and lit it.

Puffing on his cigar and slurping his cognac, he stared at the innocent looking chip on the table, it had made him feel good doing it... Despite the pain afterwards... He wondered silently whether it would make the news the next day, he hadn't felt this interested in anything in years, it was refreshing, exciting...

He chortled to himself, those poor wretches at the lab... They'd have no idea what had happened!

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Post by SmokeMare » Wed Apr 04, 2007 1:56 pm

Jean Vasquez was a fairly senior member of the security team at Lexcorp. She'd already questioned everyone who in the lab, and searched those that could've taken the chip.

She was walking towards the maintenance office, where Jefferson and Kramer hid when not working. Which in her opinion was far too much of the time. When she pushed the door hard, it slammed sideways into the filing cabinet next to it, and Jefferson nearly fell out of his chair, Kramer dropped his sandwich. Hurriedly he picked it up, "Jeanie, what can we do for you? Any news on the chip?"

Jeanie was part hispanic, tall, and thin but shapely. She scowled at him, like he was a sewer rat or something, "Yeah, I have something - I was wondering if you guys could help me out with it... I damn well hope so anyway - Crispin has told me to give a press conference in twenty minutes! How the hell do these people get to learn about these things? This should have been kept in house!"

Jefferson and Kramer shrugged in unison and lokoed at each other, Jean leaned forwards aggressively, "If you're not busy I'd like you to take a look at some CCTV footage and explain what the hell it means!"

Kramer nodded and dropped his sandwich onto the desk, Jefferson followed him. She led them into the main security booth. Screens lined the walls, with integrated digital recording equipment hooked up. She pointed to a screen, "The intruder knocked out all the power and most of the CCTV camera's. However one camera survived, it ran on it's emergency cattery backup for a while and recorded this, it was dark and everywhere was full of smoke, so it's green night vision - watch."

She pushed a button to play the sequence, the camera was focused on the chip. The images were fuzzy and crackly, very difficult to distinguish, after a few moments, the chip vanished. Jefferson and Kramer looked at her confused, "It just disappeared! What the hell!"

Jean shook her head, "That's what I thought - watch again." She played the tape again, slower, after a few seconds she switched it to frame by frame. The frames clicked by slowly one by one, eventually she paused the tape.

The shot was fuzzy, dark, green and difficult to decipher. However despite this you could clearly make out an ethereal hand reaching out of the swirling smoke and grabbing the chip.

Jefferson shook his head in disbelief, "Woah, I did not see that coming... What the hell?"

Jean put her hands on her hips and frowned sternly at the technicians, "I thought the anti-teleportation, phasonic field was on... So how is this possible? Not a living thing can enter this buiding! Not even a teleporter!"

Jefferson rubbed his chin thoughtfully, "Maybe he's not living? I dunno, there have been increased reports of mutants and what not - that's why we had the phasonic field fitted... Must be a type of mutant not encountered before, what he wants with the Ixus 7 I don't know though... How to stop another theft, again, I don't know...."


***

Smokemare meanwhile was growing impatient, he'd downed alot of cognac and finished several cigars, he got up an preparted to leave... He hadn't held out too much hope anyway...

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Post by Jagtai » Thu Apr 05, 2007 1:23 pm

Just then, Malice entered the study. His green eyes gleamed, as he - almost playfully - asked:

"Going somewhere?"

The chip flew from the desk and into his hand. He studied it for a moment.

"Very good. It seems I was right in trusting your skills, Marcus."

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Post by SmokeMare » Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:46 pm

Smokemare raised an eyebrow, "Hah! I thought you weren't going to turn up, I've been back for hours..."

As he spoke he coughed slightly, black smoke spewing from his nostrils and mouth, and he gripped his torso in discomfort. The smoke wafted back towards him and became part of him again. He stood up a little straighter and walked back towards Malice, "I don't sleep you know, I occasionally lie awake, imagining what it's like to sleep... I don't eat either... What I could murder though, is a good supply of cigarettes and a good supply of alcohol... That is unless you are ready to honour your part of the bargain now?"

He looked at Malice eyes, there was something there... Something that said maybe Malice hadn't finished with him. He chortled softly, "I thought it couldn't be that easy... Not to worry, I'll do another heist for you - it was fun actually... I could imagine it being difficult for most thieves to get that piece of plastic and metal though... The least you could do would be to feed my cigarette and spirit habits."

He just caught Malice smile subtly at this, he was clearly pleased. Smokemare turned to the glass french doors leading out into the garden, "Have you heard of Descartes? He was an interesting philosopher for a non-existentialist. Alot of scientific discovery can be directly traced back to him. He thought that you can't understand things be seeing them, it's a complex theory to explain. It involves thinking about evidence and what you understand about other things... Isaac Newton's theory of gravity is directly related to the Descartes philosophy... What those scientists think they saw, or how they understand what happened... I can't guess that."

He turned sharply and looked Malice square in the eye, "No more than I can understand you, frankly I don't care what your 'grand ambition' is, but I want you to know, that I know theres more to you than meets the eye. Bring me some cigarettes and some whisky or something.... I'll be out on the veranda, stargazing."

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Post by Jagtai » Fri Apr 06, 2007 1:16 am

Malice had remained quiet throughout Smokemare's...ramblings?...but now he nodded.

"It's waiting for you on the veranda."

He led Smokemare outside, where three bottles of scotch and two cartons of cigarettes lay on the veranda table, and waited until his companion had lit his first cigarette. Then he smiled, his green eyes gleaming in the pale moonlight:

"You are quite right, Marcus. There is more to me than meets the eye - just like there is more to you than meets the eye." He withdrew the microchip, letting it float from his hand into the air, where it began spinning slowly. "I have never claimed to be helping you out of the goodness of my heart. Nothing ever comes cheap, Marcus."

He sat down, lit a cigar and poured himself some scotch.

"I was never a fan of Descartes. He is much too bleak for my taste." He looked at the moon. "Sometimes, it is hard to believe there is purpose to the world. Then one studies the wonders of the world - like moonlight - and one is forced to face the distinct possibility that there IS some greater purpose." He looked at Marcus and smiled.

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Post by SmokeMare » Fri Apr 06, 2007 10:36 am

Smokemare smiled, pulled a cigarette out of the cartons and bit the filter off, spitting it onto the floor. He lit it and sucked hard, before pouring himself a scotch.

Puffing hard on the cigarette he looked Malice square in the eye, "I like you Malice... I shouldn't, most people shouldn't... You're quite clearly not the stereotypical 'likeable person', but I like you, you've no airs and graces, you don't seem to want to pretend to have a different agenda than the one which - I'll be honest is a mystery to me... People are so... so false generally..."

He gulped the scotch and dragged on his cigarette.

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Post by Jagtai » Fri Apr 06, 2007 11:33 am

Malice smiled as he put out his cigar and took a cigarette. He lighted it and sucked in hard, letting out the smoke with a happy sigh. Then he looked at Marcus.

"I do not see a point in pretense or deception; at least not around my compatriots." He smiled. "As you might have gathered, I am no ordinary 'villain', Marcus. My agenda is very simple: power. Not power in the usual comic villain sense, but in the sense of wealth. If you have money, you have power."

He sucked on his cigarette again, letting out smoke before remarking:

"Boring and unoriginal, I know."

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Post by SmokeMare » Tue Apr 10, 2007 5:07 am

Smokemare laughed, spluttering smoke everywhere, "Hah! You can say that again!"

He took another suck on his cigarette, "Still to each his own... I vaguely remember a time, a long time ago when the thing I wanted was that elusive thing, intellectual fulfillment. Some things aren't good to seek though, the closer you get to acquiring them, the more distant fulfillment through that path seems..."

He swigged his whisky, "Ideally I suppose you shouldn't aspire to anything, that way you avoid dissapointment... Of course a life without a point may not be worth living... Difficult..."

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Post by SmokeMare » Sat Apr 14, 2007 11:53 pm

Nick Gorman was sitting at the head of the table, in the Lexcorp buildings main board room. His face was buried in his hands and nearly two dozen concerned faces were glaring at him. The silence was only broken, when a sharp suited, petit young woman walked into the room slowly, carefully shutting the door behind her - then walked down to where Nick was sitting.

She leaned close to whisper in his ear, "Sir, it's been confirmed the Ixus 7 has been taken, there's no trace of it in the building. There are no other 7th Version architecture proto-types."

He raised his head, than smashed his clsed fists onto the table, "Shit! What are we going to do now?!"

An elderly gentleman down the left of the table coughed, "Nick, we've got a press conference this evening, the police are eager to know how the project is going. They're expecting a demonstration!"

Nick simply looked gloomily at him in slience, the girl who had whispered to the news to Nick held her hands up, "Look, there is an option. While I was inthe lab, I asked about hte previous architecture chips, we've got lots of Ixus 4, 5, and 6 and one 7 alpha, one 7 beta - can't we just use one of those for the demonstration? The rest of the rig is ready!"

Nick looked at her, calmer for a moment, "Jane, decent suggestion, but the other chips weren't stable enough... Ixus 7 was the first chip that was guarunteed not to fail... We don't know what would happen if we put a non-perfect chip in."

Jane shrugged, "One way to find out isn't there? Besides, we can always remove it afterwards and swap it for a correct one?"

Nick sighed deeply, "I don't like it - but that's about the best suggestion I've got, anyone got anything better?... No - right let's get rolling, get the lab boys to test the other chips and pick the best one. Commisioner Barton is going to be pissed if we haven't got something to show him."

***

That evening Nick was walking up towards the stage of the Lexcorp Auditorium, a couple of scientists were making final adjustments to the bulky, but sculptured figure on the centre of the stage. It's chrome finished panels shining in the bright lights. A robot, about three feet wide, over seven foot tall. He tapped the scientist on the shoulder, the huge robot standing stock still above them, "How's it going? Are we ready?"

"No, nearly, we've got a few chages to make before we're ready to fire up - can't you stall them?"

"Gah! They're breaking the door down! Do what you can now, you'll have to finish preparing while we give them the spiel..."

The scientist looked at him stunned, "You're going to show him without testing him first? Sir this is a totally new technology, we have no idea whether it's going to work properly or not... We might turn him on and he could be an gibbering imbecile..."

"We're got no choice - oh crap, they're opening the doors - work as fast as you can!"

***

Once the auditorium had filled with the press and the police top brass taking the main seats in the front rows, Nick began giving a presentation - all the while the scientists working frantically on the robot. The presentation was detailed and long, the project was called Cyber Protector. Designed to combat the new mutant threat, and the police's normal officers being unequipped to deal with it.

The technology involved was described in detail. At the heart of the machine, a human brain - grown in a laboratory from stem cells. The brain was wired into every system of the rig, weapons, defence mechanisms, scanners... The brain was pre-programmed with an understanding of all languages that were known to be in use in the city, also a basic idea of it's function and the role it was expected to fill.

The Ixus 7 chip had been replaced by the Ixus 5, a chip which was wired into the brain and the rig and moderated mood, prevented certain fixed laws being broken and generally made sure the unit was safe and forced to follow orders... Nick skipped the section on the development of Ixus 7 and the problems that could be caused by a faulty chip - he wasn't sure how much the press knew...

Eventually the time came to turn on CP1, the Cyber Protector proto-type. When Nick indicated for the scientists to turn him on... Nothing happened...

Looking embarresed Nick approached the monstrous machine and looked at the startup panel. He pushed a couple of connections in harder and hit the activation button. The panel slid gracefully shut and the motors and hydraulic rams whirred into life.

Two glowing blue eyes flashed a couple of times then brightened up.

Nick looked relieved at the audience, "Ladies and gentlemen I give you CP1!"

The robot took a few tentative steps and peered about it's surroundings, a girl from the press had raised her hand, "Are it's weapons loaded? Are we safe?"

Nick smiled warmly, "It's weapons are loaded, it generates it's own ammunition and fires bolts of plasma - you are 100% safe though, the Ixus erm, chip prevents it from making any decisions that would not be in the best interests of the citizens of the city - It's like a hard wired morality."

Another hand was raised, a gentleman from the press, "And what are this proto-types capabilities? Is it fully functional?"

Nick nodded," Yes, CP1 has twin shoulder mounted plasma cannons, plus two more mounted into each arm, built in rocket pack, force-field, self-repair systems, scanners, metal detectors, lie detectors, and camera's for recording evidence - everything it was supposed to have according the design brief."

Another arm shot into the air, "Mr Gorman, can we have demonration of it's capabilities?"

"Not a problem, sir come to the front here!"

Nick then waved over a security guard and took his pistol from him, passing it to the press man, "Here, let me stand clear, then take a shot at it."

"Erm, is that safe?"

"CP1 knows you won't be able to damage him with that pistol, he'll disarm and arrest you without harming you."

The man lined up and pulled the trigger of the pistol. A shimmering blue light intensified as the bullet bounced off the force-field and rolled onto the floor. Alsmost as it hit, CP1 swivelled to face the shooter and raised it's arms aggresively, blue blolts of plasma ripped through the air, burning holes clean through the press mans body.

Screams filled the auditorium, Nick started shouting "Shut it down! SHUT IT DOWN!"

CP1 turned to face Nick, [SHUT ME DOWN!? THIS MAN ATTEMPTED TO SHOOT ME, I AM DEFENDING THE PUBLIC!]

Nick raised his arms defencively, "Look you're malfunctioning, let us switch you off and repair you!"

[YOU ARE LYING, I CAN DETECT IT IN YOUR STRESS LEVELS, I WILL NOT BE SHUT DOWN!]

The robot siezed Nick and hurled him out of the glass window with so much force he shattered the window, then carried on right accross the street almost horizontally and smashed into the bricks of the building across the street dislodging many of them, then tumbling down forty stories to the street below.

As Nick dissapeared out the window, security started firing wildly at the cybernetic behemoth, all the bullets simply bouncing off the force-field. CP1 turned towards them and fired all eight plasma cannons, strafing the entire room. Soon the room was filled with charred bodies and burning furniture.

CP1 ran out of the now broken window and activated it's self-fuelling rocket pack, swooping off over the city...

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Post by Jagtai » Fri Apr 20, 2007 12:37 am

Malice nodded.

"One should always aspire to impossible things. That way, one will never reach ones goal, but one still have the distinct possibility that one will - in the end - be satisfied with what they have achieved."

He took another sip of his whiskey.

"What would you like to aspire to, Marcus? What impossible goals can make your heart stir and your blood run quicker through your veins?"

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Post by SmokeMare » Fri Apr 20, 2007 2:33 pm

Marcus sucked hard on his cigarette, smirking as he did so, "Blood, veins? Maybe you don't understand as much as you implied!!

He chugged another whisky back, then looked ernestly at Malice, "Look Malice, I don't have 'veins' or 'blood' I somehow transmuted into a mass of indestrucable particles that have the ability to act like they are a person... The longer they stay not a person - the harder it is to become and stay a person... I don't eat, I don't sleep, I don't NEED to drink in the normal sense... I don't age, I don't get injured and I appear not to be able to die."

He looked whistfully at the starts and puffed on his cigarette, "It's funny though... All these things could be considered criteria for 'living' so technically am I living? Am I dead? Dead people don't devour gallons of spirits, smoke lots and keep trying to destroy themselves... So I'm neither - not dead, not alive... "

He frowned then, "In answer to your question, taking the blood as metaphorical, what excites me... Hah! I dunno, I used to think I could discover the meaning of life, through philosophy... That's the ultimate irony though - now my belief is firmly that there is no point. You live for a while, you die, a tiny spec in the history of the universe... Not really affecting anything... I suppose ridiculing life and it's strongest advocates gives me some mild pleasure... But then I think it's just my more perverse side..."

***

CP1 felt alone, it had landed in a distant part of the city and was walking the dark alley's considering it's existance. It's mind worked in a child-like way though, it's purpose simple, defend itself, survive and destroy the mutants of the world...

As it walked it noticed an alarm going off, it was to the small jeweller shop. Approaching slowly, it turned it's sensors up, thermal vision could se bodies through the walls. It seemed the criminals were being apprehended...

Passing the open doorway it noticed costumed men, in bright colours holding down other costumed men in dark colours. Alarms started flashing on it's sensor reading - mutants! First targets.

The man holding down the other man was dressed in ridiculous bright costume, as CP1 smahed the doorway to enter the shop he turned to him, and talked, "Hold it there! Everything's under control! Captain Freedom has saved the day!"

When CP1 continued approaching, Captain Freedom released his grip and raised a fist. CP1 looked at his fist and a glowing ball of plasma flashed into the fist, vapourising Captain Freedom's arm down to the shoulder.

Screaming in agony Captain Freedom collapsed onto the floor, CP1 simply picked him up and hurled him straight through the glass window on the shop front, he sailed through the air and smashed a hole in the reinforced concrete accross the street, blocks tumbling onto him and crushing him to death.

The man on the floor had now stood up and offered a bag to CP1, "Hey buddy, I don't know who you are, but thanks! Here take a share of the loot..."

CP1 reached past the bag in a flash and grabbed him by the throat, holding him the the air, the man was breathing white hot flame at CP1, but the flames simply washed around the impenetrable force-field. As the flames died down CP1 began blasting with his plasma cannons, hundreds of shots reducing the super-villain to a charred mess in his hand.

Ashes and carbon crumbled to teh floor and CP1 walked out the door, activated it's jet pack and blasted into the sky...

Target eliminated...

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Post by Jagtai » Mon Apr 23, 2007 10:24 am

"I was merely referring to your heart and veins in a philosophical sense, Marcus?"

Malice was getting a bit annoyed. Apparently this Englishman had been sitting in the gutter of life for so long, that he didn't seem capable of dragging himself out of it.

"There must be something you desire - aside from death, that is."

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Post by SmokeMare » Mon Apr 23, 2007 2:25 pm

Smokemare rubbed his chin thoughtfully, aware that Malice found his response irritating and really, wanting to offer him something that might placate him.

He sucked on his cigarette, "Aside from cigarettes and spirits... Not much... I'm open to ideas though - I used to aspire simply to finding a point to life, I failed - but maybe it's something I should try again."

He sighed deeply and drank another gulp of whisky, "I better understand the context of my existance now - so maybe I can enjoy more success this time... I'm sorry if I come across as a bit bleak, it's how I am, I WILL try to snap out of it - it's hard though... You spend so long in the gutter, on the fringe - you forget what it's like to live... *Sigh* Listen Malice, thanks for the hospitality, it's getting late though and I expect you'd like to go to bed - don't mind me, I'll just sit out here and watch the stars..."

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Post by SmokeMare » Thu Jun 07, 2007 8:01 am

Without a word Smokemare stood up and left. Would he see Malice again? he didn't know, did he care either way? No... With as much whisky and cigarettes as he could carry he was happy for now...

Smokemare's story will be continued in http://www.starwarsexodus.com/forum/vie ... php?t=7278

Mutants Inc 4.

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Post by Jagtai » Fri Jun 08, 2007 2:41 am

Malice watched Smokemare leave. He was sad - in a purely economic sense - to see him go, but he felt that Marcus was more trouble than he was worth, at least for the time being.

The microchip that Smokemare had stolen for him floated up from the table and into Malice's hand. At least Smokemare had served a purpose. It would have been much harder to steal the chip without him.

Grier Estate
Two weeks later


Malice walked around the metallic figure in the center of the room. The android was all but complete - it needed only the insertion of the control chip. Malice reached out and the chip in question floated to his hand.

The microchip was a virtual copy of the chip Smokemare had stolen, only with a few extra additions. The safety commands were hardwired into the android, but for safety's sake Malice had also inserted them into the chip itself.

He pushed it in place, closed the hatch and flicked a switch on the control panel behind him. The android came to life. It turned and looked at Malice. Then, with a metallic voice, it said:

"Command me, Master."

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