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The Phoenix Universe Vol 1


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Issue #1


I Lost My Heart in San Francisco



The fog was heavy on the bay, the early morning sun was just cresting in the east. A lone tugs horn blew and echoed in the direction of the Golden Gate but the two bird watchers barley paid any attention to that they were painstakingly taking what they thought and hoped, was a rare white-morph snow goose.


Betty and Frank Trunndel were in their early sixties, Frank had retired from Lockheed-Martin where he had been a systems engineer, Betty had worked in banking, they had no children and were spending their retirement traveling and living their dreams. One of which was bird watching.


They had been visiting friends in San Jose when their Bird-watching app picked up a sighting alert for the snow goose. This rare white-morph snow goose had been spotted a few times over the last few weeks in San Francisco but was as yet not confirmed. Frank and Betty decided to run up to Frisco for the weekend and try their luck.


They had started the morning driving up and down Lincoln Blvd where the unconfirmed reports had come in. on their second pass Betty spotted the suspect bird and they quickly parked and began working their way closer. The were a bit south of the Prisideo Battery West, on the foot path that led down toward Marshall's beach when they spotted a large assortment of birds hovering nearby off the path. Making their way they found something unexpected. Betty's screams shattered the quiet and scattered the birds.




Cameron finished up looping his tie while Jeff, the weekend copy assistant went over the morning weather alerts when John Johnson, the station manager here at KGMQ Channel 6, the GMN (Global Media Network) affiliate here in San Francisco, Burst into the Dressing room shouted ”Thoresen!” and spun on his heal and headed toward the newsroom without slowing one bit. Cameron and Jeff with a glance at each other followed their boss hurrying to catch up.


It was early Sunday morning so the newsroom was mostly empty, a few staffers and technicians, Cameron saw on reporter, intern really, Gina Green, who had started at the station only a few weeks ago, and Ray Stevens, the morning news anchor, who, along with Cameron, would be going on air in about twenty minutes during the break in the network programming for local news and weather.


Johnson glared at everyone in the newsroom his eagle yes searching... “Jose!” A stout hispanic man with short hair and a slight goatee looked up from the coffee machine. Jose was a long suffering camera man for the station. In the ten years he had worked here he had been passed over time and again for promotion and was usually stuck maintaining the camera and broadcast equipment instead of doing what he had gone to school for which was working the equipment. He stayed because the wages and benefits were good and so was the scenery. He smiled at Gina Green who he had been chatting up at the coffee machine,” Yes Boss?”


“Grab a camera and go get mobile two from the garage and bring it out front. Like two minutes agao, move it!” Johnson spun and faced Cameron. “Loose the suit jacket, grab a station windbreaker, Your going on location.”


Cameron just stared at his boss, “What?” He finally got out.


“I said,” Johnson grabbed his weatherman by the shoulders and spun him around pulling Cameron's jacket off, 'your going on location. I just got a very hot tip and I need someone to do a live feed, and that's you.”


“But I'm a weatherman, not a reporter...”


“Your all I have at the moment this is time sensitve and I can't get anyone else in here in time so it's you.”


“But what about Ray?”


Johnson was helping Cameron into a neon blue windbreaker with the stations logo in white lettering on the back, he stopped and spun the younger man around. “Ray is an anchor he READS, whats put in front of him. You on the other hand have done what a dozen or so of those silly fluff pieces at schools and crap. You have been live on location on camera. If I was twenty years younger and fifty pounds lighter I would go. But, I'm not, so it's you.”


“I'm not a reporter though,” protested Cameron again.


Johnson looked around, “Yeah...your not but you are camera friendly and I know you can improvise and that is all I want right now, but...” he looked around, “Green! Get over here.”


The young intern put her cup down and came quickly.


“Your going with, Thorssen here, you take notes and help him with the reporter part.”


Cameron gave the attractive intern a smile, “She's an actual reporter Mr Johnson why don't you let her take the job?”


Johnson gave Cameron the kind of look you give a two year old that just did something stupid.


“Because she is an intern and has never been on camera live in the field, you have. It's your story, now quit trying to get out of it.”


Cameron looked around, “But I'm supposed to be on air here in eighteen minutes. Whos going to do the weather?”


“Bixby,” Johnson roared and Jeff who was standing right there jumped. “Sir?” “Can you read?” “Uh, yes sir.” “Good,” Johnson grabbed Cameron's abandoned suit jacket from the back of a chair where he had tossed it a few minutes ago and hands it to Jeff. “Bixby here, will be doing the weather with Ray today. YOU, will be on location. NOW GO!”









Twenty minutes later, after receiving instructions where to go, the KGMQ Mobil van was pulling up to a police crime scene on the Presidio's west side near Batter West. While Jose retrieved the Camera and other gear from the back of the van and set it up for remote live broadcasting, Cameron, along with Gina Green, headed toward the tapped off area where they were stopped. Before they could even explain that they were with the press, which was obvious, a tall lanky detective came over, lifted the tape and with a word to the uniformed officer, cleared them through.


“I'm detective Lind, I'm a good friend of John Johnson's.”


Cameron shook his hand “I'm Cameron...”


“Yeah I know who you are,” he glanced at Green then ignored her and motioned for them to follow him down the path toward where more police and medical personnel where located in another tightly taped off area. “We aren't gonna be able to keep a lid on this for more than maybe another half hour before it gets out so make the most of it. No shots of the body, don't need and mess like they had down in LA with Kobe Bryant a while back.” They walked on in silence, Cameron noticed how subdued the police and others were, this was something big, he knew it and he had a gut feeling something bad.





Atalanta had watched the sun rise from her vantage point high up on Coit Tower it gave her the most advantageous observation point in her fight against the crime and darkness which crept in the shadows below. This Saturday night/Sunday morning had been unusually quiet, maybe it was the turning seasons or the coming holidays, but even so she felt it her duty, her calling to be ready for anything.


The fog was thick, the wind virtually non-existant, so it hung heavy making sight almost usless but not sound.


The roar of distant automobile engines caused her to face west. She strained: more than one or two and far away more than a mile she guessed. There! She saw the lights, blue and red police and red and white of the other emergency services. Maybe a half dozen, at this distance it was hard to discern but she knew one thing. She heard no sirens, so whatever it was the authorities wanted it to be discreet. If it weren't for the fog they probably wouldn't have even used their lights. She needed to get closer.


It took her almost ten minutes to cover the couple of miles and even then she couldn't get close without revealing herself. She approached from the beach having gone around, her cloak blending in with the natural background. She found a spot and watched. About 50 yards away mid way down the incline from the road above she saw the taped off area of a crime scene a canvas awning had been erected over the site blocking any direct veiw. There were about fifteen police including four detectives and another six emergency medical. CSI hadn't arrived yet and so most of them were just milling around a few yard s north two EMTs and a couple of cops were tending two civilians an older man and woman. The woman was sitting on an ambulance stretcher an oxygen mask over her face and a female EMT checking her vital signs.


Above the crime scene coming down the path was another Detective and two more people a man and a woman. Atalanta thought she recognized the man from TV, but that didn't make sense. Why would a weatherman be at a crime scene?



'Carmelita' entered its apartment and, after checking the curtains covering the windows removed its work gear and let the illusion drop revealing it otherworldly mechanical form. The robot from the singularity crossed the room and sat on the chair the locals called a lay-z boy. It's comfort applications were of no use to the robot but its configurable arrangement was useful, after modifications, for recharging its power cells.


The robot plugged itself in and started its normal diagnostic routines. While those ran in the background they would sift the nights data making any pertinent notes, this would also be a background performance. Before placing itself into maintenance mode Unit 3675445AF sent an infrared signal to the television receiver tuning it on. A simple precaution the noise from the tv would tend to make anyone passing by think a human resided within.


3675445AF was just about to go on standby when they noticed something unusual. The television should have been showing the local GMN station and its internal clock said that Local news and weather should be on. But it wasn't, instead there was a special broadcast and further abnormality, the weatherman, was reporting from what appeared to be a crime scene.


3675445AF brought its systems to full alert and began to watch and record the broadcast...





Joe Barberi woke fully alert, something had change in the apartment, he lay still for a minute his senses focused trying to center on the disturbance. He slid silently from his bed and took quiet steps across the bedroom into the short hall. A glance revealed the empty bathroom he turned toward the living-room and connected kitchen.

The apartment was small, sparsely furnished and empty. He was alone.


He went to the curtain and glanced outside. It was foggy but he could tell the sun was rising. Suddenly he spun a ghostly blue sword appearing in his hand, outstretched, the point toward the figure that now occupied the hallway.


The Ghost had only appeared to him once, when it gifted him withe sword and bow and set him upon the path. Since then it had only spoken to him in his head now for several years. A fact which on more than one occasion made him question his sanity. Yet here it was in his hallway, either that or he had finally cracked.


“Greetings Squire, you have done well since last I visited you. Your skill has grown as has your courage. But you have only faced those that were within you ability, trials any chosen could succeed at. Now those trials are over and soon you shall face a danger which will test you to your core, make you doubt your resolve, question your ability. I cannot help you but here is one last gift.”


A shimmering knights shield appears at the Ghost and then floats across the empty space to Joe. “When you hold the sword the shield may be called. Now prove yourself and take your place among the Heroes of the living world.”


The Ghost fades from view, as its last wisp vanishes the television turns on to a special bulletin...





Triessa groggily opened her eyes she yawned. Last night had been a bust all around she had patroled and found nothing but a stray abandoned kitten. The poor thing had been starving she had brought it home and fed it and then it had curled up in her lap and went to sleep. Triessa had done some studying but the kitten had curtailed anything except reading and eventually she had fallen asleep.


Now she sat up on the couch were she had fallen asleep the kitten was curled up in the opposite corner of the sofa. Tri got up and went into the kitchen. Something didn't feel right. Like something was out of place. She went back into the living room a surveyed the space. She could still feel it something off. Absentminded she picked up the remote and flicked the tv on. On the screen an announcement for a special bulletin...





Cameron and Gina followed Det. Lind as they got closer to the plastic awning used to shield the immediate crime scene Lind spoke. “It's pretty gruesome so prepare yourselves. Have your camera man set up over here you can get the crime scene as well as clear shots of the area. As for questions? We don't know anything yet, those two,” he pointed off to two older persons by the side,” bird-watchers came across the body, called 911. It's not much but it is at the moment an exclusive. Johnson owes me for this one. Watch your step.”


After relaying where Jose was to set up Cameron and Gina headed to the awning with its yellow plastic hanging walls. Cameron was wondering what Mr Johnson had gotten him involved in when he saw the blue buccaneers boot and immediately recognized it and a cold chill went down his spine as Gina gasped at his side.



For two decades the streets and sky's of San Francisco, like so many other cities across the world, have been kept safe and free of world threatening menace by an iconic paragon. Here in Frisco that Paragon is Mister Invincible, the nigh on invulnerable super flyer who was the chosen hero of the city by the bay. His figure, clad in his trademarked white and blue costume, could often be seen streaking across the sky on some mission of justice. While not super strong or imbued with cosmic super abilities he could fly and was virtually invulnerable to any physical attack. Bullets and bombs bounced off him and lasers and other beams bent uselessly against his diamond hard skin. Thus his name.


But this morning Cameron Thorssen, Tempest saw his fellow paragon lying in a heap his chest burst open rib-cage spread and heart missing.


Mr. Invincible was dead.




Jack spade left the card table at Chang's Bar in Chinatown just as the sun peaked over the eastern horizon. He took a stick of gum from his pocket unwrapped it rolling the wrapper into a tight ball which he dropped into another pocket along with about two dozen other wadded up gum wrappers. He took a deep breath and walked up the rolling hill toward where his car was parked.


The fog was still thick and he was damp by the time he arrived at the parking lot. The lot was free parking and had no attendant, and except for his mustang was empty at this hour on a Sunday morning. He wearily checked the car. No one had messed with it. Everyone here abouts knew who it belonged to.


He drove the short distance to his home and parked on the street. When he entered his apartment he immediately drew out his gun. Some one had been I the place, he could sense it...he smelled blood.

Joe listened couldn't hear anything out of place so he reached out to the wall switch and flipped on the light.


The furniture had all been shoved up against the far wall the carpet torn up off the floor and tossed onto the furniture. An arcane symbol some six feet across had been carved into the wood floor in the center of it a pool of blood in the center of the pool a human heart. On the back wall scrwaled in blood a message.












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As it watched the news bulletin, 3675445AF made several observations, some of them significant, others merely incidental.


1. Mr. Invincible was San Francisco's protector, and now he is deceased.


2. Anyone or anything that could so easily defeat Mr. Invincible would represent a significant threat.


3. Cameron Thorssen is an attractive human male. This could provide a topic for future conversations.


4. It is cool and windy near Marshall's Beach. Humans in the area should exhibit visible discomfort.


5. A crime of this nature might perhaps draw the interest of Hex and/or Atalanta. Visiting the crime scene could offer a chance to observe them directly.


The infiltrator rose smoothly to its feet, and the image of Carmelita, now wearing earpods, jogging clothes, and a light windbreaker, appeared over the carbon alloy frame. She put on her gear harness, which disappeared into her 'body', but only after removing her gun and baton and locking them up in her small floor safe. She then requested an Uber to take her to the Presidio Battery West, which according to the app should take about 20 minutes.


A few moments later, Carmelita left her one room apartment, locked the door, and ran down three flights of steps to wait for her Uber, watching the continuing coverage on her Android.

Edited by Heritage367
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Sprawled in her patch of verdant cover, Coraline frowned. Hmmm. This was Definitely Something, but in all honesty, her flavor of Paragon heroics was a) deterrence of crime by making it known she was patrolling a particular area, b) making swift, nonlethal examples of anyone she came across in her loops, and c) making sure the victims were okay with help on the way. As little Cop involvement as she could manage. The Cops, for all that their street level members would look the other way, reminded her too much of roaming bands of ancient soldiers eager to mark her as strange, bad, and dangerous. Which the statuesque huntress definitely could be if she wanted to be in all fairness, but... It still irked.


This was the Game though, another code of hospitality she needed to master if she was to survive and thrive. She counted her blessings that someone hadn't shattered her amber prison a hundred years ago. Or a hundred years before that. She didn't remember enough about M'kari history to tell if this level of social and technical progress was normal, but she was glad of it.


So many creature comforts. And so many potentially friendly dance partners for the night on the rare evening that Coraline took for herself in some crowded, flashing club. And the hope that if she worked hard enough she might join the ranks of the Paragons with city sponsorship, be like the elite Gene Guardians who flickered across the hololiths of her cabin on her parent's ship.


The statuesque huntress rummaged in one of her convenient outer pockets to pull out her phone, deft finger work bringing the up short list of local news outlets in search of the one who employed Hot Weather Guy. Her heart skipped a beat as she found GMN. Oh. Unless she was wrong, and she hoped she was, That square of tarp hid the body of Mr. Invincible, one of the Paragons who made it. And if he had died violently in battle... The frown deepened. 


A quick thumb flick forwarded the link proclaiming the death and impending update to her friend Triessa. Hopefully she wasn't out patrolling herself right now.


Away went the phone into the pocket. Coraline could watch the update later. For now, Atalanta was going to check the area for clues of what happened and keep any others who might have less respect for the Cops process at bay. A flutter of green cloth and she stalked away on her hunt.



Survival Roll

Exile_Jeane — Today at 1:08 PM
!roll 1d20+4

Dice Maiden
 — Today at 1:08 PM
Exile_Jeane Roll: [3] Result: 7




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It was a shock, seeing Mr. Invincible like this.   Not just because something had actually harmed him, as in removing his heart and left him for dead harmed him, but because in a way, he was kinda like an uncle to Cameron.   Before Mr. Invincible, Tempest, Cameron's Father, had been the city's number one hero, passing the torch when cancer left him no choice.   Still, As a young child, he remembered his father telling him That Mr Invincible would be a great hero, one to aspire to be like one day.  

It felt like another piece of his father had been lost, seeing someone he'd shown such faith in like this.   Still he had a job to do, and would honor the fallen hero as best he could.   

They got ready, and Cameron spoke with the detective, and the decision was made to not show Mr. Invincible's body.   They would announce his death, despite the potential fallout, because the people deserved to know.   This would also serve as a clarion call to the other paragons in the city to step up their vigilance, for if the greatest among them could be felled, they would have to come together to protect each other, and the citizens of the city.

When they were ready, Cameron was counted down, and began right on cue.  

"This is Cameron Thorssen, reporting with an exclusive on Channel 6 news report, live here at the scene of one of the greatest tradgeies to strike the Bay area in the last two decades.    I wanted to greet you all with Good morning, and tell you about the weather for today and the rest of the week, but today I have another duty."   There was no smile on Cameron's lips, the easy happy-go-lucky manner with which he forecast the weather was nowhere in sight.   Cameron's tone was solemn, almost somber.


"It falls to me to tell you all,  This morning, San Francisco lost her favorite son. Mr. Invincible has been slain.   Information on how this happened is in short supply, but the San Francisco Police are already on-site and have cleared the area of all other civilians as the Forensics team is enroute. "   They were close enough that people could see the tarp covering the body, but thankfully it was covered.   


He was silent for a moment.   "Many find this hard to believe, to accept, but It is true.   I know he was a constant in the lives of the Bay area for two decades, a pillar of the community, a beacon of justice.  He will be missed."

"Many people may despair at his loss, but our city is blessed with many paragons who defend it, and all those who reside her.  I know these paragons, these heroes, will step up to fill the void Mr. Invincible leaves behind him."

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Joe stared in awe at the ghostly shield, then released the sword and shield into their voids. His attention soon was drawn to the tv screen where he saw his favorite weather-person delivering a news report. The first thing that registered was he wasn't smiling. The second thing was his tone of voice, somber and heartbroken. Then Joe realized what was being said. 


As he listened further to the report, his eyes widened in disbelief. 'Mr Invincible.... dead? How... what... why...? Then he remembered what the Ghost had told him not too long ago. He shook his head, and looked over at his closet. He began to sort through his work clothes, searching for the cleanest and least stained. Once he had his outfit picked out, his hands began to shake and his vision became blurry. He turned quickly, wiped his eyes with his sleeve and reached behind the rest of his clothes to take out his Paragon uniform. He looked around the room for a small strip of black fabric, and when he found one he tied it around the upper left arm of his Paragon outfit. He then placed his 'super suit' back in the closet. He began to get dressed for work, and gathered his briefcase, laptop, and computer repair kit. 


Squire, his mind foggy, had work to do. He headed out of the apartment, and headed down to the garage. Once there, he found his motorcycle, kicked his leg over it, and started it up. He drove slowly and carefully, almost the complete opposite of his normal driving, as thoughts kept going through his head, 'The ghost knew... now I have to do my part to protect this city. Maybe even finding the peron who did this unspeakable act and bringing them to justice will be my part to play.' He pulled up to the USF campus and parked in the underground lot. He clocked in at the IT room, and got out his laptop from his briefcase. Joe's eyes weren't focused on work, however. The were dragged frequently to the open laptop where he was watching for any updates on the death of Mr. Invincible. 


After an hour at work, his boss called him into the office, where he was told to go home. Joe was unable to focus on his tasks, so he was given the next day off as well, to 'clear his head.' Once Joe was back in the college garage, and was sure he was alone, he began to sob. The emotion finally breaking through the numbness began a 10 minute crying session, while sitting on the back of his motorcycle, with the engine off and his helmet off as well. Once he calmed down, Joe put on his helmet with a final sniffle, reminded himself that he had another job to do, and he turned over the engine on his Triumph. 


He decided to head to the scene of the crime and see if he could at least leave a flower, or a candle, or something to show his admiration and respect for Mr. Invincible. All he knew was someone needed to find the killer. Joe heard his mentor's voice saying, "This is what shall prove your worth as a champion." He zoomed off into the damp morning, heading to the scene.

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The juicy fruit suddenly lost all flavour as Jack's mouth went dry, the stench of blood taunting his nose. The gun - more for show than defense, he had other ways to protect himself - thumped against his thigh, grey eyes gritty from a night spent awake scanned the scene afflicting his living room with professional scrutiny. It has to be the Qliphotic Cabal, Jack though through a compartmentalized haze as he studied the bloody diorama, the only real lead he had on Sam, missing for five years now.

He'd been at Chang's, ending a night following a man to his love nest for a woman suspecting her husband of having an affair, with a couple hands of cards. Not his favourite job, but it paid the bills. How had they known he'd be out long enough to do this? He hadn't noticed any tails last night, no one paying particular attention to him at Chang's. Could his latest client be involved, a distraction? He would have to look into her background more. If it was the Qliphotic Cabal, they likely had other ways of find out where he was, or where he wasn't.

Moving cautiously so he didn't disturb anything, Jack pulled out his camera from a pocket of his longcoat and starting snapping pictures, while filing everything away in the landfill of his mind. The arcane sigil carved into the wood of his floor wasn't gibberish, but held mystical meaning, metaphysical... weight. Click. He crouched, hesitated, then traced the symbols carved into wood. They were... theatrical, a focus or mnemonic for a spell, rather than part of the spell itself. One of preservation and... something more.

The heart was still fresh, glistening with wet blood, looking as though it would beat at any moment. Click. He frowned at the message painted in crimson on the wall. Click. Why her? He glanced at the strengthening morning light filtering through the dissipating fog and shuffled over to the windows to close the blinds. He didn't need neighbors seeing his business, let alone ending up in it, possibly as collateral damage.

Didn't need them hearing anything either. He turned on the TV, grunted when it flicked to life without issue - eldritch energies sometimes interfered with electronics - and turned up the volume. Then he continued his cursory investigation, trying to keep it cold, professional, rather than personal, spiraling out from the symbol in the floor, looking for other clues or evidence of who had done this.

There was little to find. The furniture had been moved roughly, but not violently, seemingly simply to get it out of the way. An anomaly, some sort of ash smeared into the torn up carpet. Cigarette or cigar, the reek of blood covered any scent that might have lingered. He flicked open the blade on his multi-tool and scraped the ash into a small, Ziplock bag for later analysis. Maybe he could determine the brand, or at least some level of origin, grasping for any thread he could find.

The rest of the house seemed undisturbed, even his daughter's room, which he maintained mostly as it had been since she'd gone missing. Considering the message scrawled on the wall, he expected... No signs of breaking and entering, though there were arcane ways to avoid such. They hadn't even stolen a beer from his fridge. He grabbed a green bottle of a local microbrew and pressed the cold glass against his forehead to stave off an incipient headache. Bracing the lip of the cap against the edge of the countertop, he gave the bottle a slap to pop the cap free.

He nearly choked on his first sip when he caught what was being said on TV. He skittered back into the living room and stared at the TV, at San Francisco's number one weather man reporting on the death of Mr. Invincible. He took a more sedate sip, closed his eyes, and pinched the bridge of his nose. One thing at a time. A hard blow for the city, but he could only deal with one paragon at a time, and Atalanta was the one foremost in his thoughts.

But he would need to track her down before he decided what he was going to do. Kind of tough with a speedster. Honestly, he would have preferred trouble coming through his door in the form of a dame with legs for days. Instead, he was going to trouble for the dame, one way or another. He supposed he could start with paying a visit to the Paragon Historical Society.

He walked back into kitchen, tossed the beer bottle into the recycling bin, then collected a Tupperware container, the rubber dishwashing gloves, a spatula, and some towels. Back into the living room, forming a mental construct of a deck of cards, he muttered some arcane words. The blood on the walls dried, flaked off, then puffed away, leaving the walls bare and clean once more. More words and the same happened to the pool of blood about the heart. There wasn't much he could do about the floor though. Guess it was time for a bit of renos, ripping up the rest of the carpet, and replacing it was laminate, he supposed.

Jack crouched down by the heart and took the lid off the plastic container with a muted burp. Using the spatula, he tried to scoop up the heart, but he couldn't seem to get it under the dense organ, not matter how he poked or prodded. Dark brows lowered in consternation. He set down the spatula, paused, then reached out with a hand. The heart resisted obstinately. He other hand joined the first. Nothing. It refused to move no matter how much he strained. Less a spell of preservation than one of fixture. Of stasis, fixing it in place, as well as in its current state.


Jack had studied the occult in his pursuit of his daughter, but only had minor skill in the arcane. He need someone with more arcane brawniness to dispel the enchantment. This was going to make his renos harder. He got a bucket, set it over the heart, moved the coffee table back over the bucket. It had barely enough clearance to fit. Far from perfect, but if he had any visitors, they wouldn't immediately be assaulted by a human heart sitting in the middle of the living room.

The measure of a man could be seen in what he was willing to do for what he truly wanted. His measure would definitely be taken with this job, and Jack wasn't sure what he would find out about himself.

He set a pair of mystical alarms that should warn him of any intruders that came calling in the next eight hours, if he was close enough. Then he prepared to set out to hunt down the huntress Atalanta, starting at the PHS...

... and hopefully someone to help him remove the heart from his living room floor.



Jack uses his 2 1st slots to use Alarm to cover most of his house, that will send him a mental ping if anyone enters his place in the next 8 hours.


Edited by Asarasa
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In the kitchen, Triessa filled a glass with a little crushed ice and water from the dispensers in the fridge door. When she'd gotten up from the couch the as-yet unnamed kitten had stayed asleep, but her dog Bick got up immediately and trotted after her. He was a fairly large 'mixed breed' that had at least some retriever or maybe shepherd in him with stiff ears and long tail and somewhat fluffy butterscotch coat. He watched her attentively as she got her drink, tail wagging all the while.


She leaned down and scritched between his ears, then rubbed his scalp. Bick's tail wagging intensified and he pressed his head up against her hand. Triessa could feel the burble of emotions in his head very clearly. There was a pure and uncomplicated trust and warmth there, and she smiled and moved her hands down to pet him around the neck and haunches. Despite the distraction she still felt that nagging feeling of wrongness as she went into the living room again. Nothing had changed, but somehow everything had changed. She just didn't quite grasp how.


The kitten stayed asleep though; a pile of adorb that stubbornly resisted any attempt by her brain to speculate that it was dangerous. But what else was there? Triessa finally looked at the TV, then clicked it on.


"Many people may despair at his loss, but our city is blessed with many paragons who defend it, and all those who reside her.  I know these paragons, these heroes, will step up to fill the void Mr. Invincible leaves behind him."


An invisible hand squeezed her own heart in sympathy, and Triessa gasped. Mr. Invincible had been around as long as she'd been alive, and for many people...for a long time herself included...he was virtually synonymous with the word 'superhero.' What had happened? She watched the news for a bit longer and decided that this might be something she wanted to check up on. And probably something she'd need Atalanta's help with.


Triessa fetched her phone from the end table by the couch and dialed Cora's number. On hearing her voice, Triessa asked, "Did you hear this right now?"


Edited by SalmonMax
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4 hours ago, Triessa "Hex" Elrich said:

Triessa fetched her phone from the end table by the couch and dialed Cora's number. On hearing her voice, Triessa asked, "Did you hear this right now?"

Everybody had heard it. All around the globe and beyond. As soon as John Johnson, General Manager at KGMQ, was told the subject matter by Gina Green who was there doing the real reporter stuff while Cameron was to be the 'Face', realized what this could mean he made a executive decision and called New York. New York agreed, While Mr Invincible was a San Francisco Icon, he was also a world famous Paragon, and Paragons at that Level, despite their activities, rarely died  of anything other than natural causes or tragic untreatable diseases. In other words the Murder of a Paragon of this stature was NEWS!


And thus it was that Cameron Thorssen's first reporting of a real news story was broadcast across the globe, fist by GMN, and soon after by the rest of the networks picking it up off GMN.


The whole world knew about the Murder of a Paragon.

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Traffic was moving well on Lombard Street, and the Uber was making good time towards the infiltrator's destination. Carmelita's eyes were locked on the tiny screen of her Android, absorbing every possible detail from the streaming broadcast. The police presence would only increase, and there was a good chance a civilian would not be able to get very close. She would probably need to be a first responder in order to get within sensor range of the crime scene.


The unit skimmed through her internal databases for various faces, vocal patterns and municipal uniforms in preparation for her departure from the vehicle. Chameleonic camouflage was another possibility, so she prepped her mimetic sensors as well.

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Atalanta stalked in a curved path around the cop's parameter, one eye on ground under her booted feet, the other on Cameron as he spoke unheard words to his camera and all the listeners beyond. Her phone vibrated in it's pocket, prompting a crouch and pause, a smile blooming as she saw the sender's name. "Triessa. Got my text?" she opened, contralto voice ever-so-slightly muffled by her mask.


"Did you hear this right now?" came back the younger woman's answer in the tones of the suddenly very awake.


"I'm there watching them put copper pieces on his eyes. You safe?"


The statuesque hunter mentally tsked at herself in annoyance at the audible confusion in Triessa's reply, "...yeah, I'm just at home. Copper pieces? What?"


"...Sorry. Something the Greeks would say when they prepared a body. Saw that one hot weather guy tell you all abo... Hmm. Something bled while flying in from the beach towards. Yeah. That's in line with where the body is," she answered in return, voice going from contrite to wondering as she narrated her thoughts aloud at the discovery of a series of blood splatters. Blood splatters that, given her experience hunting down the odd large bird, had to have come from something airborne. Something a lot bigger than most birds. Mr. Invincible's blood? Maybe?


Triessa, evidently, was still confused, "Something bled. Okay. I feel like I need some context here. Where are you exactly? The news thing didn't say where he was found. I can meet you out there."


While it would be nice to tie this shut with a good knot as only someone with her partner's sharp mind could, Atalanta had to shake her head, "Presidio Battery West, 50 meters out from the cops. If you think it's wise. This place will be swarming by the time you make it, and, honestly, I need to get at least a nap before work."


And shower. And eat. And run a comb through her wig-rumbled hair because presentation was important. But no one liked a complainer.


"Oh, okay. I thought you were right there. Okay...what can you tell me? What have you seen? What happened?"


She chuckled, feeling a bit bad at stomping on Triessa's curiosity, "You know more than I do if you've watched the report. Meet you at the usual spot on campus this afternoon and trade details? I think it's my turn to buy."


"He didn't say *anything* useful," Triessa sighed over the phone. "Okay, I'll meet you there."


With that, Atalanta hung up and reversed course towards the closest of the patrolling cops, scooping up a few pebbles. A thoughtful pause for a heartbeat or two, and her arm snapped out with inhuman accuracy, striking near the cop, enough to bring the man's gun up with a shout of alarm. She fell back, arm snapping out again to direct the municipal defender towards her discovered clue, and retreated at speed through the brush, trying to get clear before the vultures descended on the scene.  


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When the special report was done, other news crews were already showing up, and yet, it was too little too late.  They would always come second.   Cameron was there, drinking from a bottle of water that Gina him.  "You did really well, Cameron."   

"I was nervous as hell.  This is really big Gina, They should have let a real reporter do this not a weatherman."   

Gina smiled at the impossibly handsome young weatherman, and nodded.  "They did Cameron, they did.  You did well out there."  She held up her phone.  "The boss says so."

She took a sip of her own drink.  "Now, I'm going to go sweet talk the Forensics team and see if we can get their preliminary report too, something more so we can stay ahead of the mob."   She was trained for this, and Cameron wasn't but right now her job was to support him, and from what she'd just been texted, this was bigger than Cameron himself could imagine.  

She waited for him to finish, and as he seemed refreshed, she felt a pang of regret over not telling him that his report had gone global, and that he probably wasn't going back to being a weatherman any time soon.  "I'll bring you anything I can find, and we'll keep going."

He nodded. "Thanks Gina, I owe you one."   He flashed her one of those megawatt smiles that brightened anyone's day, and it was clear he was sincere in his thanks.

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'Carmelita' enjoyed Uber rides because they have her ample opportunity to practice her conversational skills as well increase her knowledge of human experiences and accents. Her driver was a Nigerian student studying microbiology at Berkeley, and he was more than happy to tell the pretty young woman all about this family back in Lagos. She even picked up a few phrases in Housa.


Her Uber was finally stopped on Lincoln Boulevard by the US Park Police cordon approximately a thousand meters from Marshall's Beach. She thanked the apologetic driver and gave him a warm smile.


"Don't worry, I'll still give you five stars. I came here to jog, right? I can just run the other way. Allah ba da sa'a!"


"Allah ba da sa'a, miss!"


She got out of the car and slipped in a pair of nonexistent earbuds before tipping the driver through her phone, then heading for the jogging paths at an easy lope, seemingly away from the crime scene. However, once she was out of sight of the Park Police, she ducked behind some trees and mimicked the appearance of one of the female officers she'd seen on the cordon before looping around by the beach and heading south towards the crime scene. Once she had a visual within a hundred meters of the scene, she could activate her enchanced audio sensors to eavesdrop on the officers present.

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Jack Spade

Jack checked his car once more - it wasn't paranoia if 'they' really were out to get you - then drove to a gas station and went through the car wash for good measure. Then did quick hand wash, salting the water with a bag he kept in the trunk. Minor efforts that only had a remote chance of defeating a hostile enchantment, but it was what he had at hand, old folklore and tales that hinted at arcane fact.

Then he was driving up Castro Street towards the old Jesuit Campus that was a part of USF now, where the PHS was located. Eyes grainy with lack of sleep, he kept the radio on, listening to any further news about Mr. Invincible. The head of the local PHS chapter was Dr. Crane. He'd spoken with the man several times over the years in his personal search for his daughter. Dr. Crane was a retired priest and a sanctioned exorcist - he might have an idea on how to remove an ensorcelled heart, not that Jack was sure he'd bring it up quite like that to start...

... and he was good one to ask about in regards to Atalanta. Though he'd have to keep the reason to himself, for now.

Castro onto Divisadero, then left onto Turk Boulevard, and Jack frowned, slowing his mustang to a crawl with an unexpected increase of traffic, fingers drumming a staccato beat on the wheel. Wrapped up in his own concerns, he had to admit, with the shocking death of Mr. Invincible, he certainly wouldn't be the only one heading towards the Paragon Historical Society, even if his reasons had nothing to do with the downing of San Francisco's preeminent hero.

Okay, nothing so far as he knew. But his luck, such as it was, had always been a fickle thing.

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Jack flipped on the car radio "... new details just coming out in the unexpected death or the famous Paragon Mr Invincible, we go to Lucy Hale our KRRS reporter on the spot, what do you have Lucy?"


A husky female voice perfectly suited for radio comes through the speaker, "Thank you Todd. Unexplained death is now suspected murder. An unnamed source has revealed that not only was Mr Invincible killed while in the act of defending the city but that his murderer took his heart! That's right Mr Invincible, the toughest Paragon in the world, had his heart literally ripped form his chest. More details to come as they are made available..."


Shift scanned the surroundings and noticed an anomalous heat source down near the beach. It zoomed in with its electric photo receptors and could just make out a fleeting glimpse of a cloaked figure, the cloak effectively camouflaging her movements. ATALANTA!



those of you moving toward the crime scene and those of you there are all arriving now.


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Lady Luck, you fickle bitch!

The classic mustang screeched to a stop, narrowly missing a parked car, as Jack slammed on the breaks, his heart - at least for now - hammering in his chest. Cars behind honked, and he could make out the curses and comments about his parentage through the buzzing in his ears.

Sure, it was possible it was pure coincidence that the toughest Paragon in the world had his heart literally ripped from his chest the same day Jack came home to find an unrotting heart mystically anchored to his living room floor, with the exhortation to bring some nefarious someones the head of another Paragon if he ever wanted to see his daughter again. But didn't believe in coincidence that far.

Why does trouble never find me in a fine looking dame, showing off legs that go all the way up?

This also meant trouble wasn't only finding him and Atalanta, if whoever was coercing him could do this to Mr. Invincible. They might not even have anything to do with his daughter. It was hardly unknown to many that he had been looking for Sam for years.

Now, he couldn't ignore Mr. Invincible's plight for his own immediate concern, as they seemed to be inextricably linked. Cars had been passing him on the tight road, but when he found a gap, Jack slammed on the gas, spun the wheel, whipping the mustang around back the way he came, and sped off to the scene of the other part of a crime he was being thrust into.

He was friendly enough with SFPD, his own investigations helping them close cases on occaion, even if he'd been cited by them more than once for being someplace he shouldn't be. He might be able to sweet talk them into letting him take a look around, as a courtesy. And if not them, there more be a dog, cat, rat, or pigeon around who might have seen something and were willing to trade for a bit of food.

... And, other Paragons would likely be nosing about the death of a preeminent one of their own. He might catch a hint of Atalanta about. Might be handy before trying to contact her through the PHS first. The PHS would have to wait for the moment.

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The Detective had come back over to where Cameron was, as he was getting ready to go back on the air.   He didn't look happy, and grumbled.  "Goddamn Shockjocks."   He scowled.  Cameron looked up at him, and nodded.  "Yeah,  so much for decency.  I mean we don't know if he had a life beyond this, He could have a wife and kids, and they just found out the gruesome details of his death.   I just got off the phone with my boss, who at least understood why I didn't report that initially."

"Anything for fifteen minutes of fame, no matter how much it hurts someone else."   The Detective sighed.  "At least you and your crew have Decency, and that's been noticed.   I got a directive from my supervisor that when we have any further information, It goes through you, since you got it on the air first."

Cameron nodded.  Thanks, Detective Lind.   If I'm not here, give it to Gina, and she'll get it to me.   We'll report the facts, respectfully."   

Lind let the tiniest ghost of a smile curl his lips, and turned to walk back.  "Expect something in the next ten minutes, we should have a preliminary report for you."  With that, he left to head back to where forensics was doing their work.

Gina looked at him.  "You see, you are the right person for the job, Cameron.   All the others are having to bribe and cajole, and you don't even have to ask.  The cops are going to give you everything on a platter."    

Cameron looked back at her, but he wasn't smiling.   "Yeah."

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Unit 3675445AF couldn't believe its luck; the target it had been sent to seek out, across hundreds of years of time and millions of light years of space, was right in its sights. But what now? Its orders were very clear, but there was an internal conflict that caused the infiltrator to hesitate.


What do I do now?


Propelled more by instinct than programing, if such a thing was possible, the US Park Police officer quickly made her way closer to the Paragon. Once within earshot, she called out to her, softly but insistently, while doing her best to be unseen by anyone else.


"Hey, are you Atalanta? I've heard about you!"

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Damn it, she had almost gotten clear of the scene without being spotted. Last thing Atalanta wanted was to get caught in the middle of this mess as it exploded with more media and police search parties. Grrrgh. 


The amazonian speedster came to a reluctant halt instead of vaulting through the clearing and away. She turned to face the Park Police woman, cloak settling to cover her jumpsuit. While her bow remained collapsed and securely stowed against her quiver and her trusty batons remained out of sight, this was clearly a Super on her guard. Green eyes danced from shadow to shadow alertly from above her mask. It took a great deal of energy to not throw a laconic phrase and keep going anyway, heeding the siren song of her bed.


"Yes, I am," she stated dryly, pointing back the way she'd come from with one well-muscled arm, "And the crime scene is that way. You have 30 seconds or one picture before I leave to let you get back to your job, Officer."    

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Joe pulled up to just outside the police cordon, having made a stop on the way at a florist. He parked his motorcycle and carefully opened one of the saddlebags. Out of it he took a white lily. While holding the lily, Joe looked around for a spot to place it to start a makeshift shrine. His eyes alighted on one corner, that was only partially blocked off by the cordon. He took out some masking tape from his bag as well, walked over to the light pole where the police tape was attached, but didn't prevent access. He stopped just outside the cordon, and began taping the lily to the light pole. 


His action did not go unnoticed by the police officer manning the entry point, and that officer looked at Joe strangely. When Joe was done, he looked the officer dead in the eye and said, "I wanted to start a memorial. One where people can share their memories." The officer just nodded, and turned away. Joe stood there, at his makeshift memorial and gazed over the death scene. His mind racing as he took in the details. 'Looks like they got every entry and exit covered. I wonder how long he was there before he was found.' Carefully he headed back toward the waiting motorcycle, when his eyes were drawn upward. 'Perhaps by going higher, I could get a better vantage point.' He began to look around for a way to get higher, without being noticed. 

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All units in the Singularity were programmed with the history of their struggle with M'Kari. The number of atrocities Atalanta had personally committed, or inspired others to commit on her behalf, were almost beyond counting. In records she was rarely named out of primstive superstion, instead revered to as the Scourge of Worlds, the Starkiller, or the Silence. Eliminating her right now would mean peace for millions.


And yet something didn't feel right, about any of this; the infiltrator paused with arrow nocked, so to speak, frozen in place as it struggled to find the right words to say.


<"I know who you are,"> the 'officer' replied...in perfect M'Kari.

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Those five words hit like an arrow to the gut, tensing one foot closer to the starting line of conflict. She'd spoken M'Kari with precisely two people besides her own reflection since waking up in this time, having learned her lesson about being labeled a Barbaroi by the Greeks for shouting her battle cries in her native tongue. And those 'conversations' with the Professor and Triessa consisted more of them repeating back M'kari phrases she'd taught them with varying degrees of success. There were differences, but the amazonian speedster didn't trust her own faded memories of her childhood enough to rule out 'linguistic drift' to borrow a phrase from the PHS. 2,000 years and who knows how many light years removed from her own culture, and a persistent little flame of hope still flickered at the back of her mind. 


The far more likely answer was a spy in the PHS, a threat to herself and her special people, though.


If she was wrong, if hope was the right path, well, a M'kari agent would understand if her childhood memories held true after all this time.


Atalanta's stance shifted from flight to fight, eyes darkening with controlled anger, a smooth gesture drawing and snapping a metal baton to its full length with a reply in kind dripping with potential violence, <"Explain. Swiftly.">

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<"I come from the future; well, future. A future where everyone knows of Atalanta, and sing songs about your exploits.">


(This was technically true.)


<"I was sent back in time to find you, to help save us from a great evil. I need your help.">


(This was almost true.)


The holographic projection flickered away, leaving only the smooth robotic framework beneath, holding up both hands in a non-threatening pose. The unit clearly saw Atalanta with their visual sensors, outlined in red.




<"You can call me...Shift. I'm a friend.">


(This was a lie.)

Edited by Heritage367
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Triessa had originally intended to just take the bus over to the spot she was going to meet Cora. There was a line that went basically straight there. Unfortunately, on getting fixed up on and stepping outside to the bus stop, she spotted it receding away from her. Two minutes early. Only buses could punish you so terribly for being ahead of schedule. And worse, it was the weekend. The next one wouldn't show up for half an hour.


Which meant cab, which was expensive...or go back and get dressed up and just meet Cora out at the scene of the crime the way she should have just done from the start. It was just annoying getting into costume, and she couldn't quick change unless she had it on first.


So back into the building, up the stairs and into her room. Triessa fired off another text, Missed bus i'll just meet you where you are. Then she put her costume on over her street clothes. Black tux jacket, loose silk shirt, tie...annoyingly her jeans were looser fit than the black slacks, so she had to take them off then put them on over the slacks. Then the so-called 'spell of swapping' was cast, and fooomp. She had her street clothes on. With a word Triessa invoked the spell, and as suddenly as a frame skip she was wearing her costume...basically a stage magician-style tuxedo, cut to show off her figure a little. She didn't bother with the dress shoes this time because she'd already taken longer than she wanted and who cared about shoes? She grabbed the mask though, a black domino style, put it on, and peeked out her window.


Across the street there was a building with a flat roof at just about the right height that, when standing on it, she could see through her window into her place. It was her favorite 'landing' spot because it let her get in and out of her apartment in costume without visibly going in or out. A moment of concentration and a murmured incantation, and Triessa took a step forward...and vanished.


On the opposite rooftop she appeared, stepping out of midair in mid-stride. Then she dug out her phone and checked her browser for the inevitable flood of news about the death of an icon. Very quickly she found an article that spilled the beans on where the body had been found, and from there it was just a hop, skip and a jump away.


Well...more like a brisk jog. Triessa took a step and appeared just over the lip of the roof on the taller building alongside the one she was on. From there she had a good vantage of other stepping stones. Step, and she was a block away, running across the roof and....step and she was on the top of a multi-story parking lot, erupting out of thin air as a car pulled out of the space. It stopped and honked, but Triessa just ran on by, getting to the far end of the lot and






...she'd always wanted to try to step up to the top of one of the Bay Bridge towers, but hadn't quite had the guts to try. The tops of those things were narrow and slick, and she didn't have a great view so the odds of appearing a little out of position was just too high. So she crossed the bridge on the pedestrian sidewalk in a few steps, then had to slow down, navigating each jump through the winding trails and paths, obscured by bushes that stopped her from just zapping straight there.


It was luck more than skill that caused her to appear near the right side of the police line, and she looked around for Cora...finally relenting and texting, I'm here at the police line, where are you?

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Jack found a parking spot for his iconic car a ways back from the crime scene. With first responders, media, and rubberneckers, he was lucky enough to find an open spot.  With a quick, muttered incantation and sliding a quarter into the slot, he filled the time on the parking meter. He unwrapped a stick of juicy fruit and started to chew, then with hands stuffed in the pockets of his longcoat, he ambled towards Mr. Invincible's heartless corpse.

Between practiced circumspection and more forceful shouldering, Jack worked his way to the front, right up to the police tape cordoning off the area. Attuning his keen senses, Jack scanned the area with a casual glance that was anything but. He registered more than just sight and sound and smell, sensitive to ripples of energy ebbing and flowing around him.

There was that irritatingly photogenic weatherman, Cameron Thorssen. A young fellow already a memorial to the fallen Paragon. Soon enough, the area would be a profusion of flowers and assorted bric-a-brac dedicated to Mr. Invincible. An officer noticed him, her blue eyes narrowing with suspicion. He flashed her a rueful grin and gave her a small, two-fingered wave. A hand rasped across bristly flesh as he rubbed his jaw and shifted down the police tape towards the policewoman.

"Hard morning, eh, Officer Lancer?" Jack said in greeting. Officer Linda Lancer was blond, shorter than average, stockier than average, prettier than average, and tougher than average. She looked tired, wired, and not best pleased at seeing the private detective.

"What do you want, Spade? It's a madhouse here," Lancer growled, sounding like a bitter gym teacher.

Jack nodded over her shoulder at where it seemed Mr. Invincible had been found. "Think I can take a quick look around, Miss Lancer? Heard about Mr. Invincible and I'd like to do my part in finding out what happened."

"It's Officer Lancer to you, Mister Spade," she retorted with a snort.

"Ouch. I'm duly scolded."

Officer Lancer snorted again. "Lotsa people want to 'help'." The quotation marks were obvious in her dry tone. "What makes you different?"

"C'mon, Lancer. Sure, I may have been found places the SFPD rather I'd not be, but I like to think I've helped more than I've hindered. Pay me a dollar and call me a consultant, make it all official like?" Jack wheedled. He narrowed his eyes, looked pensive, then sighed, attempting to seem like he was reluctantly revealing something of import. "Can't say for certain, but I got a couple of investigations of my own up in the air. One might tie back to Mr. Invincible." It wasn't precisely a lie. "Let me take a look and of course, if I notice anything, I'll share it with you fine folks of the SFPD."



Rolls, if necessary

Perception Check (Advantage)
!roll 2 1d20+9

Asarasa Rolls:
[16] Result: 25
[19] Result: 28

Investigation Check (Advantage)
!roll 2 1d20+9
Asarasa Rolls:
[12] Result: 21
[17] Result: 26

Persuasion Check (trying to get pass the police cordon)
!roll 1d20+6
Asarasa Roll: [13] Result: 19

Deception Check (If more appropriate or to hide motives)
!roll 1d20+6

Asarasa Roll: [2] Result: 8


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Jose was taking location shots before the place got too crowded for use back at the station for follow on broadcast, while Gina was setting up a couple of interviews with the cops and trying to coach Cameron on how to handle them.


He panned the camera along the beach where some of the cops were not tagging something with little evidence from about midway up the steep hill back down toward. Jose tried to focus in on the spots the were planting the flags but it was too far. The as he shifted he spotted a lady cop approaching someone on the beach. Jose paused and lowered his camera and looked. That was weird, he had just panned over that area a minute ago an dit had been empty where did that person come from. He hit the review and ran it back and didn't see any one He raised the camera back up and pointed it back down at where the lady cop and the other person was and gasped "Holy #@$%&^@! Mary" He punched record and zoomed in as much as possible. In his haste he clicked the wrong button.


Down at the spot Shift, the Lady cop, was confronting the cloaked person when the form of the cop flickers and seemed to melt revealing the smooth mechanical form of a humanoid robot.


Back at the TV station the broadcast feed from the crime scene went live and the whole metropolitan area could see the menacing robot and the mysterious cloaked figure! Was one of these or both of them the Killer of Mr. Invincible?



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