Things started off innoculously enough as Donna the receptionist watched the rank and file of WatchTower New York file into the conference room. Jack introduced a new staffmember, Yellowfist, a Sioux warrior who embodies the totems of both Eagle and Bear providing him with superhuman strength and the power of flight.
Red greeted him warmly as did Psiren and Balance though there was some palpable resentment as Skycrane realised that there was a contendor for “mightiest man in the universe”.
The subject moved from the contentious “Sanction Zero” to the events at Liberty Island three days earlier and how the latter might relate to the recent advisory about Smog, Sewer, Asphalt, KillerWatt and Gridlock. What was Squall doing on Liberty Island?
RedShift was dispatched north to the site of a reported fish kill, something he wasn’t thrilled about while the remainder of the team moved to the roof of the building where Balance fashioned a sturdy two-metre wide silver plate from the air, much to the amazement of the rest of the team. Though it was a little unsteady at first, Skycrane effortlessly lifted the plate into the air and the team stepped onto it before winging their way across the city to Liberty Island. Much more dignified than being carried or suspended in mid-air by SkyCrane’s TK.
As they landed safely on the grass, Balance evaporated the silver plate, secure in the knowledge he would be able to summon it up again should they need it.
They spent the next couple of hours interviewing the security staff at the Island until a chance comment caught Skycrane’s trained ear. There were TWO ways to get off the island other than through self-powered flight? The boat was obvious but on further investigation it was revealed that there was a cargo lift and train that tunnelled under the Hudson. At last, a lead…
The team descended in the lift, inspecting the rooms as they went by and checking the status of the generator room. In the cargo basement they could hear the gentle booming of the Hudson above them and a dark tunnel stretched east towards the city, unlit because the only thing to go in or come out of it was an automated train.
Skycrane, impulsive as ever, grabbed a halogen flashlight and sped off down the tunnel. As his lamp dimmed in the darkness, Psiren gasped and began to worry. There was something in the tunnel. Something….hungry…
Psiren’s screams echoed down the tunnel and Skycrane turned on a pin and began to speed through the darkness and burst out into the basement warehouse where Psiren was visibly panicking. She took a long stare down the corridor and shrieked “They’re comingggggggg”.
The next few minutes were a blur of activity as a rag-tag group of men and women burst from the darkness of the tunnel with teeth gnashing and claws raking the air. Yellowfist swatted one and Skycrane bulldozed a group of them with his TK-Ram. They were not just normal humans as they seemed to easily shake off the powerful fists and TK-Rams of Yellowfist and Skycrane.
In the midst of the panic stood Balance, who was holding back from the group as the horrors approached. He could feel something in the darkness, something reaching for him, peeling back the layers of his brain and stroking the contours of his mind with blackened hands. In an attempt to rid himself of the dark and forbidden evil, he let slip with his most devastating attack, right at his two comrades, Yellowfist and Skycrane. A pyrotechnic display of excited atoms and the inner fire from a billion molecular bonds breaking down came from the two as they were immediately assailed by this terrible death-ray effect and eventually Skycrane sagged to the ground, bleeding from every pore. Yellowfist grunted and gritted his teeth through the pain as his Bear-Totem roared within and at that moment his mind was made up. He scooped his team in his arms and summing the Eagle, flew up the lift shaft to safety. Skycrane revived seconds later, though weak from the microfractures in his cell membranes and they waited and watched as their assailants began to scale the walls of the lift shaft.
Seemingly recovered, Balance held out his hand and began to seal the top of the lift chamber with his matter molding powers but not before Skycrane grabbed one of the attackers and hoisted him above where he was bludgeoned into unconsciousness by Yellowfist. Trying to take him outside revived the thing and each time they had to beat him into submission.
To resolve this, they wrapped the unconscious form in a fire blanket and Yellowfist and Balance resolved to travel to the other end of the tunnel and seal it shut as Skycrane took the unconscious Psiren to WatchTower for medical assistance.
What to find?
Subject: Great power, great responsibility
Welcome FistPhiles, to the email diary of Yellowfist, the New York WatchTowerâ€™s latest recruit, and thanks for signing up!
First, Iâ€™ll bet youâ€™re all dying to know how someone goes about becoming a WatchTower operative, right? Well the truth is itâ€™s pretty simple â€“ provided youâ€™re an Exotic. Seems like the new CEO Jack White is keen to recruit anyone with a clean record and a power more useful than prehensile hair. Even the background check seemed perfunctory, but then maybe Mr White knows something we donâ€™t?
Anyway, I asked to join and one quick and easy interview later I was in and on the roster. The terms of employment are sweet. Studio apartment on site, decent salary and benefits, and the option to earn commission by increasing WatchTower revenue.
The other members of the team are a decent bunch. Red Shift is fast (as fast as ten fast men? Bonus points if you know where that comes from). The only girl on the team is Psiren, a telepath, and sheâ€™s hot in a cheerleader kind of way. SkyCrane is a telekinetic, and a good one at that. Then thereâ€™s Balance, who seems to be the real heavy hitter of the team. He can shape and transform matter in any way he likes, and even disintegrate it. More about that later.
Thereâ€™s another team member I havenâ€™t met yet, and in many ways itâ€™s him Iâ€™m most interested in. INDIGO is a scientist, and heâ€™s apparently designed a personal teleportation device. Thereâ€™s a lot Iâ€™d like to ask him, especially what kind of power source heâ€™s using for something like that. Who knows, maybe heâ€™ll even let me have a look under the hood? I have a few ideas myself that I could use some help with.
Anyway, the reason I joined WatchTower in the first place was to fight evil, and it wasnâ€™t long before I got my chance.
A few days before I came along the team had a bit of a dust-up with a known perp called Squall out at Liberty Island. Squall came off worse and ended up in a body bag, but according to WatchTower he was a known associate of KillerWatt, a supposed mega-bitch with electrical control powers and a bad attitude. WatchTower also found out she was in New York along with some other evil types: Asphalt (big rock guy with some control powers), Gridlock (speedy guy with the ability to slow others down), Sewer and Smog. There was no info available on the last two, but I really donâ€™t like the sound of Sewer â€“ no-one wants to fight the Amazing Shit Monster.
It was obviously no coincidence that KillerWatt and her cronies where in New York so soon after Squallâ€™s death, so most of us headed out to Liberty Island to see if we could figure out what Squall was up to, while Red Shift went upstate to Syracuse to investigate some big pollution incident.
We arrived at Liberty Island and asked the security chief a few questions, but it was clear he didnâ€™t know much that could help us. He did let us poke around the place though, and showed us the tunnel they use to bring in supplies for the mainland. Thatâ€™s when things got interesting.
We were checking out this tunnel when SkyCrane decides heâ€™s going to fly off down it and see what he could see. He didnâ€™t get far before Psiren started freaking out, screaming about how â€œheâ€™s coming, heâ€™s comingâ€ and generally throwing a fit. SkyCrane then flies back to us at the double, with a horde of flesh-eating zombies on his tail.
Yes, you read it right: zombies. Maybe more than 50 blank-eyed, razor-toothed people, all of them determined to take a chunk out of me. Things got a little hectic then, with SkyCrane and Balance ripping the tunnel apart with their powers and these zombie dudes trying to eat us.
Thing is, these zombies were obviously normal folks at one point â€“ and not that long ago â€“ which got me thinking just what was making them want to eat yours truly. Since we didnâ€™t know the powers of either Sewer or Smog, it didnâ€™t seem too much of a leap to think one of them might be using some kind of weird mind-control.
As far as Iâ€™m concerned this theory was confirmed when Balance turned his disintegration blast on me and SkyCrane. I donâ€™t mind saying it hurt â€“ imagine severely serious sunburn and youâ€™re getting close – but SkyCrane was nearly killed. Thatâ€™s when I decided discretion was the better part of valour, grabbed our guys (including the unconscious Psiren â€“ Iâ€™m still not sure what happened to her) and headed for the surface. SkyCrane was able to set a few of the zombies that were chasing us on fire before Balance seemed to regain his senses and sealed up the elevator shaft before the zombies could get out.
Iâ€™m a little concerned about how things went down on our first fight. For a start I donâ€™t think collapsing a tunnel under the Hudson and caving in an elevator shaft on Liberty Island is exactly what Mr White meant by â€œkeep property damage to a minimumâ€, but more importantly if Balance was able to shake off whatever mind control made him turn on us, shouldnâ€™t those zombie guys be able to as well? And if thatâ€™s the case, by killing them havenâ€™t we effectively killed innocent hostages?
Thatâ€™s a question for another time however. Iâ€™m writing this on my PDA as Balance and I get ready to head over to the mainland tunnel entrance and Psiren and SkyCrane head back to base.
Wish me luck FistPhiles, I may need it!
And death shall flee from themâ€¦
Today I encountered true evil. Humanity, given by God unto mankind has the gift of life and the hope of the blessing of everlasting life. Not so, those poor retches. Iâ€™m reminded of Revelations 9,6 which said
â€œAnd in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.â€
The creatures hidden in the tunnel under Liberty were human, once. What they are now I fear to say. More than animal in instinct, my every impression of them was evil, the way they moved, the way they snarled and growled. More, the way they pealed open my defences and soiled my thoughts, driving me to angerâ€¦. rageâ€¦.vengeanceâ€¦
Where did I fall into the pit? Was I proud? When did I forget to forgive and instead choose vengeance?
The day started in Watchtower, as it always does. Decisions were made to return to Liberty and see if we could find more evidence for Squalls target. I look at the team in those meetings, I donâ€™t see harmony or calm. Instead I see ego and bravado and no true leadership. Mr White may lead these meetings, but outside its obvious we have no organisation, no true leader.
Returning to Liberty gave us our first understanding of some of the problems we face â€“ travel. We will have to organise something better than a moulded disc, if only because I donâ€™t know if I can do it again.
Once there I found the second- Iâ€™m not a detective. People talk to a priest for understanding, they tell the truth to find solace, they donâ€™t hide things or twist words. How can I tell if I have the right answers if they donâ€™t even know the right question?
The tunnel, when we found it, seemed mundane enough. But whatever creatures SkyCrane woke were the stuff of nightmares. Was that when I changed? When I stopped looking to God and starting looking to war? The scrabbling in the darkness and Psirens screams were enough to make me start attacking the darkness â€“ ionizing the railings to try to scare them off.
I was only trying to scare them. Wasnâ€™t I?
When they did appear, I saw the gates of hell. I bent the world to my will, I closed the tunnel, I tried to kill them all. Dear Lord forgive me, I tried to kill them all. I donâ€™t know what happened then, the creeping in my mind, the horror before me, I channelled to kill and instead I hurt my own.
What madness made me take up arms so easily? To put aside 30 years of peaceful life to kill wantonly? What if those people could have been saved another way, did I make the wrong choice? Is this a mistake Iâ€™m doomed to make again and again, first Squall, now my new friends and the tunnel people?
We escaped. No more than that.
From the journals of Father Julian Devon
…Wha? why’s it dark?…
Aaagh, it hurts to move.
AAaaaAAArgh, it hurts to stay still.
Bloody Bishop whatsiz-name! I’ll do him, what’s the matter with…
hey, I can kinda see!…
Whoah, there he is! Howdcha like the ceiling, Father >
Uh, though there’s Alice and John too.
Maybe it’s all OK now.
My head hurts
To: AMP Team
From: Jason Shin
Subject: Suit modifications
I’ve managed to get budgetary approval for adding goggles and an independent air supply to the suit. I know Tony was working on a design for the goggles – Tony, how far did you get with that? Can you send what you have to the team for review? Phylina, can you chase up with procurement so that we can get the paperwork signed ASAP?
The air supply was easily achieved – I spent today doing it. Basically I bought a small can of compressed air and put it in the rear belt pouch. I then hooked this through to the existing air-filtration system. I’ve not had a chance to really test it, but it seems to work fine. Problem is I paid for it all on my credit card while we wait for the money to come through from Finance! I’ve attached a simple schematic of the design – please look at it and suggest any improvements as it does feel a bit jury-rigged.
Finally, we may want to look at a way to seal the goggles and hood such that the entire suit is airtight. Thoughts?
P.S. I’m sorry I haven’t replied to the e-mails asking what it’s like to work at the WatchTower. It’s still too soon to really know, but I’ve already felt like my life has been in danger at least once and it’s both amazing and scary as hell. My one consolation is that I can run away *REALLY* fast. I’ll get you all into the WatchTower for a tour in the next couple of weeks, I promise.
Skycrane’s dictated log.
9:20am – Another morning at WatchTower. The niner this morning introduced a new exotic to the mix, John someone or “Yellowfist”. After a small amount of discusson we decided to go back to Liberty, but had a really large debate on how to get there in style. Gotta resolve the transport situation. Red went off to investigate odd pollution from up north, Indigo wasn’t about this morning. Eventually, Yellowfist flew himself, whilst Balance (is he *really* a priest?) fabricated a metal disc from nothing, and I flew the rest of us to Liberty Island on it.
9:22am – As I fly out with the team, it hits me that Jack White said Sanction Zero wasn’t yet in operation. Which is unfortunate, as Liberty Island is in New Jersey. Hope nobody official takes an interest, or someone’s going to have some retrospective activation to do. Hey, what’s the chances of anything actually happening?
11:45am – No-one working on the island knows why Squall was here, or that it was actually Balance who killed him. Only leads so far are an underground supply tunnel and a backup power generator that could potentially be used by Killer Watt. The local head of security, Lopez, is taking us down there now.
12:06pm – Hell in a handbasket! The tunnel is home to dozens of, well, things. Possibly ex-people. Alice is unconscious, I’m hurting, Julian is unbalanced and there’s some psionic effect going on too. Those things were ‘hungry’, she said. And they just didn’t stop, even after a ridiculous pummelling. But they burned. After a bit of an episode, Balance closed this end of the tunnel. He and Yellowfist were going to find the other end. Those things also seem to burn in sunlight – and they burn whoever is holding them too.
Balance fried me but it barely fazed Yellowfist. I’m impressed.
OK, it’s only two-and-a-bit miles as I fly from Liberty to the WatchTower, I’m just arriving with Psiren now… Maybe Indigo is back, dunno if Red is back yet but he needs to find some flamethrowers quickly. Hope he’s as good as his word!