“Okay, so this guy is calling himself ‘Otto da Fé,” the dispatcher said, audibly incredulous. “His powers aren’t anything to write home about: Fairly powerful pyrokinesis and hyperdurability, but that’s it. The reason he’s been elevated to immediate threat status is his MO, and it’s gruesome. He finds a place that he considers a ‘symbol of modern opulence’, goes in, surrounds the joint with fire, and holds the whole place hostage. Always makes sure that somebody’s filming or streaming the scene. He demands to see the people in charge or whoever’s most visible and burns them to death in front of an audience, then lets everybody else go. If he can’t find anyone, he just burns the whole place down and everybody in it.”
“Normally he’s real good about covering his tracks, but he slipped up, and we’ve got good intel that he’s currently in Boulder, Colorado. I’m compiling a list of POIs and we’ve got scouts looking into it. When we drop you, we need you to hit fast and hard. Don’t let him get a foothold if at all possible. We don’t care if he lives, but try not to let any civvies die.”
And so, just an hour or so later, a team had been sent from the Freelancer HQ in Archaven to Boulder, Colarado.
The first two Freelancers to arrive were a study in contrasts – Rooster, a woman who stood at 6’4” with broad shoulders, a wider grin, and a short blonde and pink mohawk was chewing gum. On the other side of the room was the 5’3”, long limbed and green haired Vera Newman, who was doodling in a notebook and hunching over the pages protectively.
Wasteland arrived a few minutes later, the new suit was a big, bulky monstrosity. Heavier armor, intimidating helmet. A shade of green so dark it was nearly black. On his back was a strange looking apparatus, some kind of new fangled jetpack, but more advanced than most people had seen. He was standing at an even seven feet tall now, and looked around. The helmeted man nodded to Rooster. “Rooster… “ And he looked to Vera. “Ah, I’m sorry. Haven’t been introduced. Wasteland.” He nodded at Vera as well, looking around for somewhere that he could stand without being too much in the way.
Bart walked in behind them, but at a distance. He knew they didn’t like being babysat anymore than he liked babysitting, but he still had to make sure the Freelancers looked good and no horrible incidents gave the legions news goons ammo against them. He watched vigilantly behind his darkened spectacles and leaned on his cane, still managing to keep an even few feet behind.
Vera stared at the armoured man with dull eyes, and then gave a half wave. “Throwaway,” she said. “Great name, isn’t it? Anyways, I’m a shapeshifter. This asshole’s looking for the person in charge, I can be the person in charge. Cool? Cool.” And then she goes back to doodling.
“Assuming, of course, we don’t kick the shit out of this asshole as soon as he shows his face.” Rooster said, offering the shy girl a big grin. “Alright, let’s roll out, team. Time to save a kickass strip club and some lives. Seriously, have you been there? It’s fucking aces.”
“Shit!” the dispatcher’s voice comes in through the comm. “He’s already inside, repeat, already inside the club! How the hell–“
Behind his helmet, he eyes Vera with one eye, kind of curious about that. He looks to Rooster, and shrugs, “Not really a plac- Oh goddammit.” He looks at Rooster, “Uhm, directions?”
“That doesn’t sound good.” Bart grumbles under his breath, taking out his phone and checking it. Yep, fire department on speed dial. At least he learned something in his time working with Wasteland. “After you. I can keep up.”
“Nah,” Rooster said, scooping Old Bart up under one arm and Vera up under the other without so much as a warning. “Let’s motor.”
And then she began to sprint.
The outside of the club is already on fire, an isolated wall of flames licking at the brick, metal and glass of the newly-renovated building. It is, without a doubt, the nicest-looking strip club any of the heroes have ever seen, and the flames would add a nice touch if they weren’t trapping the terrified patrons inside. Screams from within are audible even over the sound of the roaring fire.
“Oh I am going to kill this guy….” Wasteland mutters as he doesn’t even slow down because of the flames. People are trapped. Fire isn’t a problem. He would, however, slow down once he gets to the door, and rip the thing right off the hinges, if people are trapped in there. The armor’s servos whine a little as they give the living Furnace extra muscle to tear the door down. “Keep an eye out for this guy, he might try to escape with the civilians if he hasn’t already booked it!”
Rooster plunges forward through the flames, prepared to pummel any other enemies on the other side.
Bart was already on the phone with the fire station, just incase someone had neglected to call. He made his way around the building, towards the back entrance while he talked to them.
“Be careful heading into the dance floor, through the double doors,” the dispatcher says through the comms, “I’ve got video, and Otto is already up there on the stage. He’s got the para dancer and he’s demanding the club’s owner, Tommy Varo. He looks ready to burn the Damselfly if he’s approached. Sending you a photo of Mr. Varo, Vera.”
“Alright, got it.” Vera ducks behind the first barrier she can see and then emerges a whole different person. She is Tommy Varo, as far as anyone can tell – she even got the small scar on his thumb right. “If you guys let me get roasted alive, I am going to be so fucking mad.” And then she picks her way into the club, bringing her – his? – arms up to shield the body of Tommy Varo, moving into the club.
“Right. The rest of you, move, move!” Wasteland helps any civilians out as he can, guiding them to the exit as Vera moves in. Luckily the open doors and being up to fire code, the stip club isn’t as smokey and burning as it could be, plus, it was during the day. The fire wall wasn’t doing that much damage as it could have been. Not as busy as it could have been, thank whatever deity you want. To the man in the armor, the fire wall is like a slightly warm blanket, and the smoke certainly isn’t going to bother him. Rooster charged on through, though… that could be bad. “I’ve got your back, Uh…. “ He double takes at what he assumes is Throwaway. Quietly, he asks over the comms. “Ah, anyone know how long it takes for him to go from burning the place down to burning the owner? Lets not get anyone roasted if we can.”
When Bart got to the back and opened the door, he saw the same firewall as the front. He smirked. “Just like old times.” He thought to himself, taking a few steps back. He brought his shirt up over his nose, and tightened his heavy coat around him, forcing his bad leg to move faster as he did a short sprint, a leap, and then rolled onto the floor, patting the flames off. “Ah god my back…..maybe not as good as old times.” He grunted, finally sure the flames were out. In the corner of his eye he spots a fire extinguisher. “There we are.” He struggled to his feet, leaning on his cane a bit before taking it off the wall. He gave a quick spritz on the back fire wall to see how it fared against this paranormals blaze.
The scene on the dance floor is far less chaotic than that outside of it. The smoke from the fire barriers hasn’t wafted this far into the building, and other than the house music having been cut the setting is still decked out as it usually was every day. The clientele, however, is mostly gone, with a few pockets remaining. Terrified patrons unable to make it to the door for fear of being spotted huddle in the corners, under tables, on chairs. Sweating, crying, trying not to draw the attention of the man on stage.
Otto da Fe is imposing, at least on stage. Almost as tall as Rooster and broader in the shoulders, he wears a long coat clearly inspired by an Inquisition robe (though oddly devoid of any religious symbols). Tucked under his arm is a slight figure: a beautiful, young, androgynous dancer, wearing an outfit made entirely of ribbons and covered in glitter and makeup. Otto’s free hand is wreathed in flame and only inches from the dancer’s face, possibly explaining why ey does not struggle.
“I want the owner! Bring me Tommy Varo!” Otto’s voice booms.
“I’m Tommy Varo,” comes the reply from the dance floor. Throwaway strides into the middle of the dance floor, out of reach from the stage but close enough that Tommy Varo’s face is clearly visible. “Let go of the dancer, I’m here, okay? Let’s talk this out.”
With the owner appearing and Wasteland clearing out civilians, Rooster begins to circle around, ducking behind tables and bars in an attempt to close the distance.
Upon seeing the flames disperse, Bart smiled. Felt good to be in the action again. He set the extinguisher down and popped the top of his cane, drawing out a short sword. He went through the costume rooms backstage cutting hostages free, until one in particular, a dashing greek god of a man covered in what Bart could only hope was non flammable body oil grabbed him. “I’m not going! Nat is still out there!” Bart nodded to him, “Your partner going to be fine my friend. We have the best of the best out there right now. If you want to help, go grab me the fire extinguisher by the exit. And be quiet about it.” With that he left the young man, making his way to the closed curtain, pressing his ear to it to hear what was happening outside.
“Good,” Otto growled, a grin creeping onto his face. “Come onto the stage, Tommy Varo. You and your prize peacock here are going to be examples for my little crusade. This disgusting world has worn its ostentatious colors too long, and someone needs to pay. It’s either going to be your customers… or you.”
As if to demonstrate, a line of flames flickers harmlessly but demonstrably across the back wall of the room.
Vera-as-Tommy approaches slowly, hands up in a pacifying gesture but still slowly walking towards the stage. “Hey now, woah now, don’t you think that’s a little much? I mean, hey, we could do some charity work together. Go to a soup kitchen, yeah? Give out coats to the homeless.”
Rooster eases her massive form under and over tables, staying out of Otto’s line of sight, before slowly, carefully, quietly pulling herself up on stage. Almost, almost…
((tag – do we wanna pause and wait for Wasteland? It’s been a while since his last turn 🙂 )) ((I’m right here! Sure, can post, you guys were just on a roll!))
As many of the civilians on the outside were evacuated as he could get, which was a decent number of people. Huh. Wasteland heads towards the main dance floor, backing Vera up as much as he can. He can be the distraction, keeping his distance, as Rooster gets close. He hasn’t seen her since she charged in, so she’s either doing something sneaky, or taken out already. He really, really doubted the latter.
The orange-yellow eyes glare at the pyrokinetic on the stage, and he stands at the ready for anything to happen. Maybe a few more civilians manage to sneak out behind him, hopefully. The damage to the club wasn’t as bad in here, that was good. Okay, lets keep it that way, Wasteland… seriously? What the hell kind of thing was he wearing?… don’t make jokes about the homicidal firecracker yet. He did all he could to look imposing and scary and hopefully he didn’t attempt to flash fry Vera.
Adam would come up as quietly as he could muster behind Bart and hand him the extinguisher, but before he could speak OB brought his pointer to his mouth to “Shhh” him silently, then motioned for him to get out of there. Carefully, and quietly, he brushed the curtain aside just enough to see the stage and his target. Still holding the hostage, and facing away from him. He tested his leg, unsure if he could make it in time to spray him. “Damn it!” His lips silently mouthed.
“You think I care about your charity projects?” Otto sneers. “The example you set, your screams and flames, will do more to advance my cause than your efforts ever could. Get over here before I burn your little fairy and the rest of this place down.”
The dancer’s eyes flicker. Ey turns in place, seeing the agents that Otto ignored: the tall, colorful woman. The man with the sword cane. The suit of fucking armor.
“Tommy was at home today,” Nat murmurs, too quietly for Otto to hear. Ey looks up at Vera and raises eir voice. “Hey. ‘Boss’. Say when.” Eir incorporeal wings flicker behind eir back, ready to lift both Nat and eir captor into the air.
“Fuck it, when!” Vera calls up onto the stage, and Rooster makes herself known, charging at Otto so that he’s too startled to react to what comes next.
Nat darts upward quickly and forcibly, lifting the huge man’s entire bulk off the ground, leaving him dangling and vulnerable for a precious moment before he has time to realize what’s going on.
((okay, have at it y’all. Assume Nat is still being held by the man, but is now above him.tag!))((Will wait for wastey!))((yay!)) ((Well, rooster is jumping down, I thought?))((Rooster is on the stage, she just charged at the dude so he didn’t roast Nat when she lifted him. Nat and Otto are airborne, Rooster is below them on the stage, Vera’s in front of them on the floor)) ((gotcha!))
This was probably bad for the jetpack, cold starting like this, but a screaming roar suddenly filled the air as the armored man leapt as soon as Nat rose into the air, a jet powered intercept course with the big guy, and one hell of an armored fist coming right at the bastard’s face. Blue green flames burned out of the jetpack as he rose into the air, and plowed the dark green metal fist into Otto’s face (hopefully).
Seeing them all spring into action, Bart lurched into the brawl. Or he tried to. For a second, just before his body tensed up, and a memory was brought to mind. “Grandpa, where’s grandma?” “Why don’t we have a momma and pappa like the other kids?” A bead of sweat dripped down his wrinkled forehead, as his eyes watched the fight in front of him. He couldn’t risk that. It wasn’t him. This wasn’t what he was getting paid for. His grip on the extinguisher tightened. How could he just stand there? He had to do something! At least that’s what he told himself. He just couldn’t get himself to move, make that initial step. And so he watched from the curtains.
Nat spins in the air as Otto’s grip is torn free from eir arm, leaving em clear of the villain and the altercation. Ey recovers within seconds, and swoops down to the clone of his boss. “Want a lift out?”
Otto tumbles to the ground, rolls, and wobbles to his feet. He must be tough as hell to still be standing after a punch like that, but judging by the focus of his eyes and the set of his jaw, he’s not likely to withstand another.
“How dare you–” he slurs, and lets loose a burst of intense flame, which bathes Wasteland in temperatures that would turn a normal human to ash in seconds.
Wasteland is bathed in fire as he rises to his feet at the same time… and kind of gave a bit of a chuckle. “What, is that…. three hundred degrees C? Four hundred?” He charges after the man, throwing a left hook at Otto, angling the man’s back towards Rooster for the woman to possibly surprise attack him. “That’s a cold, cold night for me, ya ass.” Indeed, the armor isn’t scorched, it’s barely even warmer than it was before.
“Oooo, looks like someone needs to go to the burn ward after that line,” Rooster crows, slamming her fist into the back of Otto’s head and following up with a kick to the back of his legs to bring hime down.
Meanwhile, Vera gladly takes the hands of the dancer. “Yeah, get me the hell out of here, thanks.”
Bart sucks some air in a cringe at the state of Otto’s face, snapping him back into reality. “I was right. They had it handled all along. No need to risk my neck.” Part of him wanted to though. To feel the rush he felt as a young man. He let the extinguisher slip from his sweaty hand just enough to gently thump on the boards of the stage as he caught his breath, cane sword pointed down.
The Damselfly’s dainty limbs are an odd contrast to the strength with which ey sweeps Vera up and carries her away from the stage and over to the door to the lobby, where ey sets her down and hovers nearby, eyes on the stage.
Otto, meanwhile, sustains several solid blows from superhuman powerhouses, and his enhanced durability is no match for the abuse. He slams into the ground hard, blood trickling from his mouth, eyes closed, alive but unconscious.
“Bastard. Sick, fucking, asshole..” Between Rooster and Wasteland’s hits, the man went down pretty quickly, just as Wasteland’s blood was getting up. And now he was out, cold, quickly. The man hadn’t suffered nearly enough. On the way here, he’d read over the evil bastard’s file. Innocent people, murdered for this guy’s own pleasure. Wasteland doesn’t stop hitting him, even after the man’s out could. The fire inside him rages, and temperature warning flare from inside. Old programming, the new armor could withstand these temperatures and a whole boatload more, but even so… This guy was one thing that was everything wrong with the world.
Thugs like this, people like this, needed to burn. Waste’s fists start heating up, hissing as each strike hits Otto. The metal on the gloves is upwards of a thousand degrees, and rising. “Bastard, scaring people. Killing some people just… *thoom* they don’t *Thoom* agree with your world *thoom* view.” Otto’s face is taking a serious beating. Ow.
Bart would slot his sword back into his cane, and slowly push the curtain aside. He saw the massive burns appearing all along Otto’s body where he was being punched. Second, maybe third degree? Nasty stuff. Then he glanced at the cameras. This wouldn’t turn out well if footage of it got out. “Wasteland. Enough. I said that is enough!” He would repeat, trying to get the enraged man to cool his anger. “We need his face intact. Or at least some of his teeth for the dental records. No point in killing an unconscious man.” Barts face was one of disgust, but not for Wasteland. For himself. And for Otto. The man deserved to die but….politics. Public opinions always complicating things.
“He’s right, Wasteland. We follow protocol, keep things professional. That’s why we’re Freelancers.” She scoops the man’s broken body up. “C’mon. Let’s call for a lift out of here. Where’s the kid?”
Nat is hovering just outside the doorway to the lobby bar, eyes wide with fascinated horror.
“Geez, you guys go hard,” Ey says. “Freelancers, huh? Um, thanks for the save. My name’s Nat. I’m the Damselfly. This stuff… happens to me kind of a lot, but this is the biggest asshole who’s sighted me yet.”
The fire inside mutters a few insults and curses at rational thought, at being brought back down to a smaller, tinier burn, but eventually does calm down. Wasteland backs off from Otto as Rooster scoops the beaten and burned man up. Wasteland takes a few calming breaths, before looking at Nat. His voice is a little rough, but luckily the helmet speakers hide it kind of well. “Yeah. We don’t tolerate scum like that.” He gestures to Otto, and then looks to Rooster, then looks to the rest of the patrons, then back to Bart. He nods at the man. If he could put expressions on a helmet, it would be one of somewhat grateful thanks. And then realizes this is one of the most public exposures he’s had. CUE THE ATTENTION FRIGHT! “Uhm… uh… right. Let’s get going?”
Bart watched as Rooster picked Otto up. The blood from his face dripping on the floor. He could have probably sped him up. Cause time for him to move faster, let his body acted like it were longer before he got treatment. It might even kill him, and nobody would even know. He thought about it deeply, but then caught Wastelands nod. He gave a small smile back, and a respectful nod in return. What if this one came back and did to wasteland what his own nemesis did to him? He couldn’t think about that now. “Glad you are safe.” He told Nat after a sigh, releasing the inner stress he had. He could think on it later.
“You want a job, kid?” Rooster said to Nat, pulling Otto over her shoulder and offering one large, bloodied hand for a shake. “Good wages, great working environment, you get to hang out with me…”
“Heh, um,” Nat’s expression was a study in restraint as ey shook Rooster’s hand with eir own delicate one, “it’s not that I don’t appreciate the job offer, but I’m way better at turning people on than caving people in. But hey, you’re all welcome back here whenever you want. We’re going for a para-friendly atmosphere, and we’ve got even more renovations coming on soon. You should see my act.”
Wasteland shrugs. A strip club. Suit of armor…. be nice, be nice… “Uh, maybe? Rooster, you’ve been here, right?… and did we lose Throwaway?” He looks around for the shapeshifter. Yes, because visually looking for someone who can look like anyone is going to be super useful. Right, the patrons. He waves for everyone to move to where the cops are probably outside. “Everyone, please, uhm, head outside, we got the bad guy.”
“Sounds exciting.” He responded to Nat. “Will let some of my clients know there is a new para-friendly club on the rise. Good luck with the renovations.” He had fully regained his mask now, flipping out his phone to speak with HQ about transport for Otto to the nearest Freelancer prison.
Nat blinks. “Throwaway? Geez, that seems like a harsh callsign.” Ey looks over at the space where his boss’s clone had been standing.
The clone, now a short girl with green hair and an impish face, just shrugs back. “‘s what it is,” she finally says. “No worries.”
“Yeah, I was going to ask…. I thought mine was horrific.” He looks at the short girl with green hair, and shrugs. “Oh, should probably read him his rights…. Protocol, and all…” Before walking over to Otto’s unconscious form, speaking quietly to the man about right to remain silent and everything. The ashen blood and skin on the man’s gauntlets flaked off finally as he moved, the heat around them dying pretty quickly.
“Prison escort is on their way. Also I think the firetrucks are outside, just waiting on us.” Bart said calmly.
“Well, hey,” Nat smiles and zips upward into the air, “thanks again. Y’all should follow me on social media and come see me dance sometime. I’m gonna start touring soon, but if you catch me while I’m here you’ll get a table or room dance on the house.” Wink.