Flux: We’ll keep an eye on her, in case there are shenanigans.
Hero Shrew: No shenanigans in this town. Unless we’re responsible.
Of course, we blunder into so many shenanigans it’s amazing we’re not in a Pokemon episode. Although that idea does have us complaining about the completely insane economy in the Pokemon universe, and the question of where they get their meat from. It’s from Pokemon.
GM: Farfetch’d carries his own garnish, for crying out loud.
The cybernetically enhanced canines are about 18 months old, but despite being intelligent enough to talk probably aren’t Steiner’s work - the upgrades are too crude.
Hardlight: You rescued Landscaper? Funny name for a superhero.
Fireflash: No, an actual landscaper.
Hardlight: Why were you rescuing a landscaper?
Flux: Why wouldn’t we, they’re worth rescuing.
Hardlight: Indeed, it’s not like she was a lawyer.
Fireflash: ….. Or an accountant?
Flux: Hey, accountants are worth rescuing, they know where all the money is… I know she’s giving me A Look, I can hear it.
Oddly enough, the cars that the bad guys were stacking were stacked very nearly indeed. Minimal damage, which is impressive for somebody wearing powered armour. Most of the cars in the pile are shiny and new. It's also impressive that he managed to lift an older car that was notorious for outweighing a lot of trucks. That was no standard powered suit.
Flux: I’m surprised the other cars aren’t flat.
GM: Oh, it was on the bottom of the stack.
Flux: Well thank god for that.
In fact, Hardlight’s scan of the pile reveals that the Grubecker has been heavily modified, and is even HEAVIER than it was originally. Checking with the police reveals that the vehicle was once involved in a super fight, and had its density permanently altered, and was reinforced further afterwards. Whoever owns it owns a piece of superhero history, but also must have an appalling petrol bill. Whoever was wearing that Rumblesuit has strength that rivals superhumans. And one of them was apparently using plasma technology when they set the landscaper’s apartment on fire. And their armour is a sophisticated ceramic.
Hero Shrew: We can always ask our contacts in Dysprosium Dawn if they know who’s working on technology like this.
GM: It always amuses me when you think you have a good relationship with Dysprosium Dawn.
Fireflash OoC: We don’t.
Flux OoC: We just shake them down for information sometimes.
GM: Or they decide it’s easier to get us to do the hard work.
We should probably have a look in the empty house across the street, where the cyberdogs came from. Apparently they dug their way up from an underground utility tunnel, and spent a few days watching the landscaper’s home and planning the kidnapping. There’s definitely something they knew about the landscaper that they know and we don’t. We should go keep an eye on her, at least while she’s being kept for observation at the hospital. The veterinary cybernetics angle is also worth investigating - some of the upgrades to those cyberpuppies, like the hemoglobin and retinal variants, are very new.
Fireflash: We should visit them, as a group.
Hero Shrew: Oh?
Flux: Must... resist… spaying and neutering joke…
GM: To be fair, it’s not thinking with that head that gets him in trouble.
Finding out who the cyberpuppies originally belonged to is more difficult - their microchips were removed, probably at the same time they had a bunch more added. Although six Dobermans going missing should have come to somebody’s notice.
GM: You attract some attention at the Laguna Complex, probably because you’re a pretty well-known superteam now, and you’re with that new guy.
The Magus: I have a sudden urge to show up with a different face every week.
Flux: Don’t, or you won’t get into our base.
GM: Facial recognition tech makes no sense in a setting with shapechangers.
The vet agrees that the six dogs should have been chipped - it’s certainly a legal requirement in California - but if they’re going to sic them on a team of superheroes to cover their escape it’s unlikely the perps were very concerned about chipping laws. And the address is a fake.
On the other hand, the vet has done the same modifications to a pair of pitbulls, for the same people, and we didn’t see any pitbulls earlier.
Hero Shrew: Well, at least we have something in our favour - they don’t let dogs into hospitals.
Hardlight: Remind me to get a sticker for Scooter - ‘Emotional Support Moreau’
Flux: That is unimaginably racist.
Hero Shrew: And I’m not good for anybody’s emotions!
Tracking down where the perps got the money for the operations is going to take longer. We do get one address and name in Marsden, which we connect to one Rumble, who we last heard of during the thing between the Booster and Juicer gangs. This latest escapade DOES seem like something he’d get involved in. He certainly loves his cybernetics, as his police record confirms. On the other hand, nobody has seen him since the Juicer exodus.
New Occupant: You think he might still be alive? That B**tard owes me $500!
Fireflash: If we find him, we’ll be sure to let him know.
The creditor in question lets us search the house for any items we can use to track him down - old hair brushes etc have been thrown out, unfortunately, but we DO find a small package stashed in an air vent, containing an earlier FreeWeb device and memory chips. But Flux can confirm the device never connected to a network, ever. And the chips are encrypted.
It’s probably a bad idea for Scooter to hang around the hospital - as the others keep telling him, he’s the most conspicuous member of the team, at least since Allana eft, and Allana at least had two major distractions.
Hero Shrew:*sigh*I just want to be useful.
Flux and the Magus working together to create a tracking spell to locate Rumble will probably be more useful - they certainly have an ample supply of crystallised chicken blood. Hero Shrew is driving the mages around town as we try to triangulate on a moving target, when a woman jumps out of an upstairs window. She’s probably just as surprised when we all pile out of the Qruiser. But not as much as those power-armoured goons that emerge after her. At least that makes it more likely that Rumble is one of the goons we’re after. The other two, apparently, are codenamed Pillage and Takedown. The former has a deadly plasma field, and the later an assortment of entangling and stunning weaponry, at the very least.
The usual exchange-of-multicoloured-light-until-so
Hero Shrew OoC: I hesitate to compare him to a Patriot missile.
Hero Shrew gets punched most of the way back up to the Qruiser. And then the woman that’s the focus of all this attention throws Scooter straight back into the fray. Scooter is rather shocked to find himself neatly placed right in the middle of the street.
GM: This ability is called Get Back In There!
Hero Shrew: So, this one is called Takedown? Nice that he comes with instructions.*leaps into the air and suplexes the guy several yards into the pavement*
Rumble does some swift calculations of his new odds, especially since his other colleague is semiconscious with his plasma sheath burning a hole in the ground, and surrenders.
Rumble: I give.*lands on roof, which collapses under the weight of his armour*
Hero Shrew: You owe your old flatmate $500.
The woman, Tanya, insists she’s fine, despite the fact she jumped from a second-storey window, and claims to have no idea why the goons tried to kidnap her, less than a day after they tried to kidnap the other woman.
The Magus: I can’t fault their work ethic
Fireflash: Why are you after this woman?
Rumble: Takedown said to.
All:*look at the crater with unconscious goon*
Flux: Is that your house, or are you going to have problems?
Tanya: It will be fine, I have understanding with landlord - he does not cause me trouble, I do not crush his head like swallow’s egg.
The Magus: Do you want me to wake him up, now we have him out of his armour?
Hero Shrew: And if we need to we’ll put him back in the armour and I’ll suplex him again.
GM: That would be against police procedures.
Cyberkinetically interrogating their brain implants is legally dubious too - but nothing stops Flux ransacking their powersuits for useful information. Which helpfully includes files on their two targets - the landscaper, apparently, is a minor hydrokineticist. And Tanya apparently has high-end low-profile military cybernetics. The files also list Tanya as being of possible interest to The Cabal, but doesn’t say which group calling itself a cabal that refers to. But according to Rumble, the Cabal supplied the powersuits, tailored to their proportions. They’d even told Takedown that they’d need somebody like Rumble to do the job.
Flux realises that the Cabal must be a new faction in Dysprosium Dawn.
Flux:*sigh* We leave them alone after the zombie thing and they start making powersuits.
GM: To be fair they weren’t responsible for the zombies - there were responsible for AUGMENTING the zombies.
It also seems likely that the suits were specifically designed to counter our team - it's just their bad luck that we didn’t pair off the way they predicted we would. We might not be much closer to figuring out why these particular women were targeted, but we may have stopped an incipient supervillain group getting started.