GM: You do realise that the way Allana sniffed out the ganger’s blood types is going to spread around the paramedics, and the rumour is going to be you’re a VAMPIRE bat?
Those crows that Scooter chased were Hooded Crows, an exclusively Eurasian species.
Hero Shrew: Well, all we have to do is check the birdwatcher’s network - because if any hooded crows are flying around California someone will notice.
Of course, the Black Paladin was accompanied by carrion crows, not hooded crows. Hooded crows are more associated with the Morrigan and Cú Chulainn.
Allana: So, who’s pissed off any Celtic death goddesses or Irish Hercules lately?
Flux: Do we really want to spend time tracking down these crows Scooter spotted?
Hero Shrew: If they’re important, I'm sure they’ll come back to bite us on the arse later.
Allana: I assume we just checked the internet while we were waiting for campus security to show up and cart off the battery-stealing idiots.
GM: You spent time explaining to them that what they did was a horrifically bad idea that could have got them charged with multiple federal crimes. That generally makes them back down.
Allana’s right, too - the laws regarding crimes committed in powered armour are still overly broad. Of course, that’s not Allana’s only skill - she overhears one of the security people telling Brent that he’ll put the new superbatteries in secure storage until it’s time for his big presentation. And Allana can also tell that the security guy is COMPLETELY full of it. He also smells of unusual welding compounds and advanced engineering. She considers scent-tagging the batteries, but doubts she can do it inconspicuously. Or she could just carry them back to secure storage herself - she’s strong enough, and Brent went through too many years of high school to doubt the obvious jock can do it.
Hardlight: Well, if we’re down here I’m going to go hang around the chemistry labs.
GM: As Gareth Lowell?
Hardlight: Yes. If they need me as Hardlight I’ll duck into the toilets.
Hero Shrew: It not like you can find a phone booth these days.
Hardlight: What do you actually DO to scent-mark something? Lick it or something? Or do you have a spray bottle?
Hero Shrew: ‘And this is Mine, and this is Mine, and THIS is Mine…’
Allana: Actually, I can always wrap my wings around the batteries as I’m carrying the crate. Then I can do what I like.
Hero Shrew: How much do you want to bet that security guard is planning a heist? Or is he just the Park Front Dragons’ contact on campus?
Allana heads off to run her free clinic for a few hours, Hardlight, Fireflash and Flux lurk around campus, and Scooter parks the Qruiser off-campus, switching on the ‘Nondescript Van’ disguise, and has a nap.
Allana: Just as long as it isn’t the ‘Low-Cost Nuclear Waste Disposal’ van.
GM: Or the Septic Avenger.
Hardlight: I’m at one of the cafeterias, peoplewatching.
GM: And how old are you?
Hardlight OoC: Mid-thirties?
GM: So, you’re hanging around a campus cafeteria looking at people? You do remember the kind of reputation Gareth has, right?
Hardlight OoC: Sigh.
Hardlight does notice a number of students wandering around with aviator goggles hanging from their bets, and bags, and necks, and suspects they’re Dysprosium Dawn members who want to mark themselves with something less conspicuous than shipbuilder’s wrenches.
Flux: I HAVE goggles, but they’re in the Qruiser, where Scooter is sleeping.
Hero Shrew: *draped sideways across the pilot’s seat, mouth open, drool dribbling down his chin*
Flux notices a hooded crow hanging around.
Allana: The great tragedy of The Ring - everybody watches videos on their smartphones these days. Tiny screens.
Flux: How fast can a crow fly?
Allana: Pretty fast?
Hero Shrew: But is it as fast as an unladen swallow.
Flux: I’m being shadowed by a crow.
Hero Shrew: Appropriate colour at least.
Hero Shrew: Offer it some bacon.
Flux: You’re asleep!
Hero Shrew: Offer ME some bacon.
Allana OoC: And Hardlight spends 30 minutes thinking he’s being followed by a crow, that turns out to be a pigeon.
GM: Actually he IS being followed by a crow. He just didn’t see it until now.
Hero Shrew OoC:: I’m going to wake up and find three standing on the window sill, aren’t I?
Allana: If a second crow shows up we’ll have an attempted murder on our hands.
The crow easily follows Flux around campus, even as he tries a few teleports. It doesn’t laugh at his attempted joke, either, but that may have been the delivery.
Fireflash: Birds can’t laugh.
Hero Shrew: Kookaburras.
Fireflash leaves her class, takes flight, and actually manages to catch one of the hooded crows. It’s much stronger than any natural bird should be. And moving without flapping it’s wings.
GM: up down up down left right-
Fireflash OoC: is it doing the Konami code?
They call Hardlight in to scan it with millimeter radar, but he takes so long changing from his civilian ID and sneaking outside invisibly that the bird wriggles free.
Fireflash: The bird is loose in the room!
Hero Shrew: Is that a code nobody told me about?
The crow tries to bash it’s way out the window, as the other bashes its way in, but when Hardlight bubbles it in a force field, it goes limp and the other flies off. And his scan reveals nothing of its interior.
Hardlight: It’s s bright vaguely bird-shaped object.
Fireflash: *turns to Flux* Well, you’re the scientist.
GM: Wow. Right in front of Hardlight too.
But it does have carbon fibre feathers, and Flux detects emeralds.
Flux: Ah. Oh dear. They’re Guiltrider’s.
GM: Yes. She’s an Irish lass so Hugin and Munin wouldn’t have been appropriate.
GM: This took much longer than I expected. You guys are consistently showing more restraint these days.
Hero Shrew OoC:: Well, I was asleep in the van.
GM: True. You’d have tried to eat it.
Evidently she made the crows to keep an eye on us, without being too creepy-stalker. It’s just unfortunate we had that run in with the Black Paladin too.
GM: these were just her first model.
Hero Shrew: It’s when she has carbon-fibre cassowaries that we need to worry.
GM: Recently Gareth Lowell achieved a new position.
Hero Shrew: He had some ribs removed?
He actually got a position on the Corporate Advisory Council
Allana: The junior junior version of the Illuminati.
Fireflash: If you can’t control the sandbox, how can you be trusted with the world?
It’s more an attempt to moderate the excesses of corporate ownership of Edge City, using that most universal of powers, mutual enlightened mistrust.
Allana and Hero Shrew take the night shift, watching for the theft of that battery tech. Hero Shrew takes up position on a nearby roof.
Hardlight: So you’re a gargoyle now?
Hero Shrew OoC:: Well, I just botched that perception check. Evidently I’m perched on the wrong corner of the building.
GM: Or you were too busy staring at Allana’s tits.
Hero Shrew: Very likely.
Hardlight OoC: Did you remember to add your Brooding bonus? Any dramatic flashes of lightning nearby?
At least we didn’t get spotted.
Hero Shrew OoC:: Despite the implausibility of a gargoyle on a building at a Californian university.
We might not have seen them go in, but we do see a cloaked figure coming back out, carrying the battery case. But Allana can’t smell the scent she tagged it with. The figure also has a grapple gun, and their cloak transforms into a glider.
Hero Shrew: What’s going on? I was too busy staring at Castor and Pollux.
Allana swoops off in pursuit, whilst Scooter jumps down and heads into the security building.
Allana: Not a bad idea, actually. Check that the security guards are OK.
Hero Shrew: And that the person with the bat-cloak isn’t a decoy.
It’s impressive that they can fly and still carry the battery. But that assumes the battery is actually in the case, and besides, we’re living in a comic book universe.
Flux: Theoretically, you can fly with an elephant, if you can pick up an elephant.
Allana: I can.
GM: Well, you follow the batglider without much difficulty.
Hero Shrew OoC:: I’m not surprised - if he looks over his shoulder and see giant bat wings he’ll just assume they’re his.
Scooter, meanwhile, is checking the side door of the security building, discovers that the batglider reset the security systems and locked it as he left, and heads round the front to let the night guards know the bad news.
Allana snatches the case from the batglider.
Hero Shrew: He just got mugged in mid-air.
GM: Yep! I bet he wasn’t expecting that.
Batglider: Tesla’s Magnificent Moustache! *draws a curious gun, pauses to think for a second, and shoots a large pellet at Allana*
But it’s not a ping-pong ball, so it can’t be FoxBat. It’s pretty easy for Allana to take him down too, and we might be able to find out who he’s working for.
Batglider: They haven’t paid me enough for confidentiality.
Hero Shrew: … so… if we let you go, you’ll tell us who hired you?
Batglider: And you won’t take all my stuff? Sweet - usually I have to rebuild it.
Hero Shrew: *looks up at Allana* He’s smarter than they usually are.
Batglider: Sure I am *jiggles the Dysprosium Dawn google on his utility belt*
Hero Shrew: You’re holding him against your chest and he’s not even wriggling. I mean, I would.
Batglider: Anyway, it was Johnny Chen. Of the Park Front Dragons.
Allana: *dramatically flings her arm out and doubles over in badly-faked pain* Argh. Ow. He’s getting away,
Batglider: No no no, I don’t want a rep for that! You think I want people to think I could hurt either of you?
Allana: You’ve got gas grenades.
Batglider: True. *shoots Allana and Scooter with them, and ‘makes his escape’*
Hero Shrew: So, Allana, do you want to go fly around over Park Front and see if any gang members try to flag you down? If they’re looking up at the night sky looking for a big bat shape they might make an understandable mistake.
She doesn’t see any, but when she returns to the university she can smell chemicals burning. Somebody has dissolved a hole in the wall. And the case we just returned is gone again.
Hero Shrew: *sigh* Hey, security guy! They got in again.
It looks like the Batglider played us for fools. At least he had to drag the case out along the ground, since we kept the impeller unit he’d been using to minimise the weight before.
Hardlight: What happened?
Hero Shrew: We caught the Batglider but we let him go because he was smarter than most of the people we catch. But he went around the building and broke in again.
Hardlight: … Flux, what happened?
Flux: A burglary. Well, two burglaries.
Hero Shrew: Technically it was the same burglary twice.
Hardlight: … … Allana, what happened?
Hardlight does detect the beeping signal coming from Allana. That pellet was a tracking bug, so the batglider knew that she had left the university and he was free to try again. On the other hand, Allana can follow the batglider’s sweaty exertion as he tries to drag the case across campus. He didn’t actually get very far, despite having an hour to work. No deal this time.
Batglider: That’s fair.
Allana: And we’re taking your utility belt too.
Hardlight: Shark repellent? Why does he have shark repellent?
Hero Shrew: It’s bat-shark repellent. It only works on bat-sharks.
He has a bunch of other very interesting tech, too. Including a crime-scene analyser.
GM: He’d actually be a better superhero than some of you, if he wanted to be. But he’s perfectly normal without his tech, so he’ll be going into minimum security, and nowhere near the machine shop. The batteries will get into proper police custody.
Hero Shrew: Even if it WAS the Park Front Dragons that commissioned the theft, we can’t prove it. But hey, we stopped the theft. Twice.
Allana: Three times.
It’s probably going to be a big blow to the Park Front Dragons. Not least because Dysprosium Dawn are going to be annoyed that their top procuring agent is locked up. What now?
Allana: Visit Millenium City. See the sights. Like the Mini-godzilla in the zoo.
Hero Shrew: So how long until we do one of those PSA videos?
GM: The Rep is not putting Scooter anywhere NEAR a PSA. You all know what information is like after it gets filtered through Scooter’s brain.
Hero Shrew: You want me to go tell this campus news reporter everything that happened?
Flux: I do not have a Gag superpower.
We decide to patrol around Park Front, to make it harder for the gang to collect protection money.
GM: But if you spend all your time there, you won’t be elsewhere.
Hero Shrew: At least we have the Crime Computer to send us alerts now.
GM: It only really notices major things.
Hero Shrew: Doing better than we do, then.
But Fireflash has figured out how the gang collects their protection money. It’s through Patreon.
Fireflash: Great - then all we have to report the account and get them suspended.
Flux: And the IRS will take an interest too.
And we’ve got enough evidence that the ECPD can get a warrant for external surveillance, so if they try to collect the protection money in person, they’ll be on film. If we can shut down their exo-armour fight ring too, the gang will lose all its income streams.
It turns out that we’ve been hitting them at the worst possible time - there’s an underground martial arts tournament coming into town soon, and the Dragons were going to running the exo-armour part of it, but it meant cancelling most of their local matches in the lead-up. We start asking around, in case a friend of a friend knows exactly which martial artist pros are coming to town, and where they’d be. Oddly enough, it’s the Neo-druids of Lo-Carb, and Madam Lil the brothel madam, who have the contacts we need to track down this Street Fighter problem.
Madam Lil: You have to understand that my clients expect a certain amount of discretion, but some of these people have very specific tastes. And don’t feel much.
The event is the Valhalla Invitational, which used to be held in Vegas. She gives us the information she has, on the condition that when the fighting starts we’re nowhere near her place of business. And Lo-Carb provides organic produce for the fighters that want that sort of thing. Especially the mystically enhanced produce.
The person we need to talk to about the Valhalla Invitational is one Makoto.
Lo-Carb: She - and we MEAN she, we’ve heard about the way your brain work, Scooter, don’t make any comments about her, *gestures* you know, she’s sensitive about it. SHE is one of the contestants this year. And she won’t be happy if she finds out you’re going to be messing with the tournament. Actually, take Allana when you talk to her, she’s less likely to stick her foot in her mouth.
Hero Shrew: Let’s just hope Allana doesn’t make her feel inadequate.
We do have one good reason to be involved.
Hero Shrew: These guys are wearing exo-armour when they beat each other up. And that’s assault with a deadly weapon. And PRIMUS come down heavy on this kind of tech crime. Do you really want PRIMUS to show up in their powered armour and trash the whole tournament?
GM: What, those old things? I mean, even the Iron Guard - wait, they can’t even afford those these days.
Allana lends on the veranda of Makoto’s rented penthouse apartment. The doors slide open. Without power.
Makoto: I’m upstairs.
In fact she’s sitting cross-legged in mid-air, in the lotus position, with a couple of vases orbiting her. She opens her eyes and comes face to face with Allana’s primary attributes.
Makoto: Wow. They really - I mean they mentioned. They warned me.
Flux: Oh wait, that’s what Scooter meant by Castor and Pollux? I think one of the twins was supposed to be bigger than the other, but I’m not going to check.
Makoto explains that the oldtimers of the Valhalla Invitational aren’t happy about exo-armour fighters being at the event at all. Mere cyborgs are borderline. So the exo-armour event was going to be a side-tournament. If any of the gangs are going to get into trouble over this, she’s pleased to hear it’s one of the ones affiliated to Humanity First.
Makoto: These people want to put a bullet in my head just for breathing - but you know all about that.
She also points out that if we come in to break up the event before all the betting is over and the organisers get their cut, a lot of people are going to be very very unhappy with us. She drops a few nicknames that we should probably recognise, but don’t. But she CAN get the five members of Quadrant in as observers, if we bust the Park Front Dragons outside the event. She’ll even feed us video of the tournament, if we do her a favour later.
Allana: Well as long as it’s nothing completely heinous.
Makoto: Nothing illegal, I promise. The last time the Invitational started letting organised crime get this involved, well, it got bad.
Allana: OK then.
Makoto: Great! You can be my +5.
Hero Shrew: I’m looking forward to sitting and grinning at the Park Front Dragons, and looking up at the clock every five minutes.
GM: And they won’t be able to leave, because they need the money.