May 30, 2009
4 Sworn, Session Two
Perdition departed to consult the Secret Masters about the Man with Green Gloves, and, after securing a bobbled Cestus on the Firehawk, the team retired to a London pub to share fish and chips while discussing the incident and the bizarre focus of the thefts. Zap plugged into the police video surveillance system and carefully reviewed recordings of the theft of "For the Love of God" from the gallery vault. A woman stepped out of a flower delivery van accompanied by two shuffling thugs wrapped in leaves and vines. The trio entered the gallery and went directly down into the vault. The two thugs extruded philodendron tendrils into the vault door and pulled it off its hinges.
Upon full review of all surveillance cameras, Zap learned the van had been stolen by the woman from a florist's, and the thugs killed and animated by her murderous philodendron vines. After the robbery, the van drove to a park outside London.
The team arrived at the park and found a police investigation under way. Two male bodies lay on the ground; their corpses riddled with punctures and drained of blood. Telepathic scans of the park revealed no sign of any criminal suspects -- except, perhaps a few practitioners of "dogging" -- but Shockwave found faint footprints leading directly to a gnarled oak tree and stopped. Fleur du Mal stood within the trunk, encased in a form-fitting gap and in a deep sleeplike trance that couldn't be detected telepathically. Shockwave vibrated through the wooden shell and dragged the woman out of her hiding place. Fleur du Mal collapsed in a heap after the shock of her discovery and extraction; her hands grasping a bag containing "For the Love of God".
Before the team returned to the Firehawk with their prisoner and the retrieved artifact, Galax decided to watch the crystal skull that had been saved from the British Museum robbery. Air rushed to fill-in his vacated volume as the gravity-controlling giant shrunk to the size of a dust speck and hid in one of the skull's orbital sockets; hoping the villains would dare a second robbery attempt.
Aboard the Firehawk, Psion and Zap interrogated Fleur du Mal. She claimed to be hired for the task, and hid in the tree when The Flaming Skull failed to show up to collect the skull she'd retrieved. She was unaware of anyone's plans for it. After the interrogration, System 4ce decided to keep her in custody aboard the ship.
Seeking a thaumaturgical expert of their own, Shockwave and Victorine visited New Orleans to interview Miss Cleo, who previously assisted in understanding Soul Catcher's gate ability, for more information about The Flaming Skull. Miss Cleo helpfully pointed out that The Flaming Skull was a very bad spirit and that they shouldn't be messing with him. But when pressed about how one would go about summoning The Flaming Skull, she did point out that it would require a lot of bloodshed.
Meanwhile, Crysto, Psion, and Zap interviewed Lester Mills, aka "Kommander Thrash", in search of information on the Thanocaster. Although Mills ability to recall specific events was limited, Psion probed telepathically and extracted the addresses of a Los Angeles pawnshop where the guitar was first purchased in 1998 and the location of the subsequent murder used to sacrifice a victim to activate the instrument.
Zap visited the the evidence locker where the Thanocaster was supposedly locked away in 2001, but found the sealed box contained only an ordinary guitar.
"From here, our next lead is in Los Angeles," said Psion.
"I can be there in an instant," Zap proclaimed.
"You'd get lost in a transformer on the way. It'd be faster to go in the PsiPlane."
"I don't get lost in transformers."
Crysto chuckled and challenged, "I can beat you both. I fly at Mach 46. I'll be there in time to play referee and tell which of you two won."
"And your sonic booms would destroy property and risk lives in the effort. Again, I can get us all there in minimal time without risk to life and property."
"Let's race!" Zap proposed.
"Which transformer do we search after Crysto and I have finished?"
"I said I don't get lost in transformers."
* * *
In New Orleans, Shockwave and Victorine discussed their findings during a Beignet break, when they noticed two police helicopters flying south. With barely a glance at each other, they took off in pursuit. As the two reached the coast, Shockwave hit the water running and doubled her effort, closing on the aircraft and leaving a rooster-tail of water in her wake. Victorine pursued using a Legion flight ring, and the two soon reached a structure with a yellow housing unit labeled "LOOP"
Aboard the rig, the two learned that a submarine was sighted nearby and considered a possible terrorist threat. After searching the surrounding waters, a semisubmerged boat revealed itself. Pretending to be rig workers, Shockwave and Victorine reached the boat and tied it to the dock while the police looked on. A Latino man revealed himself and claimed to have the shipment. Within, the two women found a second Latino man and several large packages containing cocaine. They handcuffed the men and started examining the odd craft.
(Victorine and Shockwave roll 98 and 93 for detect danger, and achieve inner peace.)
As they searched, a two-way radio in the boat squaked: "Kennel to Red Dog ... have you made contact?" The superheroes looked at each other with a grin. Victorine pulled the English-speaking crewman close to the radio and instructed him to respond, but he reminded her with a shrug, "Someone needs to push the button..."
Blushing, Victorine depressed the switch and the crewman answered, "This is Red Dog. We made the drop."
Shockwave heard a familiar hum as a cellphone buried in the first drug bale rang (both heroes acing their detect-dangers this time). With lightning reflexes, Shockwave grabbed the phone while vibrating through the package and ran out over the Gulf with it. Victorine ported the rest of the package to the North Pole through her dimensional cloak, and they contacted the rest of System 4ce.
Crysto, Psion, Victorine, and Zap gathered in the PsiPlane at the North Pole to analyze the explosive part of the bomb, but Shockwave stayed in New Orleans to gobble Po' boys, while wondering if this would be the reason she'd one day be the single, surviving member of System 4ce.
After analyzing the structure of the bomb with his PsiCorder, Psion showed Crysto the details of its 250lb hafnium core (a sphere slightly over 25cm in diameter). After studying the diagrams on the instrument's screen, Crysto reached through the package with his vibrational powers and pulled the core free in a swift yank leaving the bomb's x-ray triggers to trip harmlessly.