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Twisted Experience and TCW - View topic - Professor Mandrake
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 Professor Mandrake 
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Post Professor Mandrake
It appears there may be some truth to the rumor that has again managed to be released from prison.

If Mandrake has indeed returned to his laboratory, there is no doubt that he's working on some sinister device in another attempt to bring New Amsterdam to its knees! His whereabouts must be uncovered and he must be stopped before it's too late!


Sun Sep 14, 2008 12:45 am
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"We're here live in downtown New Amsterdam where a bank robbery is in progress." The reporter tried to keep her tone calm, but the chaos around her was clearly affecting her composure. "We believe that the group responsible is heavily armed and that they have taken hostages. The NAPD has the building surrounded and is prepared to send in SWAT teams unless the robbers cooperate."

The rattle of gunfire poured from the bank's doors and cops ducked behind their squad cars. There was an exchange of fire, and then eerie quite for an agonisingly long moment.

"Lieutenant Rogers, you're in charge of this operation. Can you give us an update on what is happening at this time?"

Rogers looked at the camera, his eyes narrowing. "We're going to do all we can to save those people. That's all."

"Do you have anything to say to the commentators who have said that the NAPD has lost control of the city, and that crime is out of control?"

"I have nothing to say to them, no. Our actions are what count."

"But do you believe that..."

A sudden burst of gunfire caused everyone to duck. The police responded in kind.

"Lieutenant, do you believe that..."

An explosion cut off the reporter's words. The nearest squad car was flipped over onto its side by the impact and then engulfed in flames as its fuel tank ignited. Rogers rushed forward, drawing his own sidearm. "They've got some heavy-duty kit in there! We need reinforcements!"

"From where?" a sergeant yelled over the sound of the burning vehicle. "Every available unit is here already!"

There's got to be someone else, Grady!"

There was whooshing noise from somewhere far above their heads. Rogers and Grady both looked upwards as the crowd fell silent. For a second, everything was quiet. New Amsterdam held its breath.

WHOOMPH.

Paving slabs buckled as he landed. A hundred eyes regarded the figure that had just alighted on the sidewalk in front of the besieged bank. His pristine white cape pooled around his feet, contrasting with the blue suit that made up the rest of his iconic costume. Slowly, Captain Paragon rose upwards from his crouched position, tilting his face upwards to the brilliant blue sky before turning his gaze to Lieutenant Rogers, sheltering behind a still intact squad car.

"Having some problems, officer?"

"You...uh...you might say that..."

Captain Paragon nodded. "Don't worry," He looked straight into the camera that was still rolling, "none of you need worry any more - I'll deal with this."

He walked straight towards the doors of the bank, striding purposefully up the stairs. More gunfire issued forth, but it bounced harmlessly off his inhuman body, leaving only a few scorch marks on the Kevlar-weave surface of his suit. Captain Paragon started to pick up speed as he headed towards the door and then smashed right through it, dismantling the hastily-erected barricade instantly and scattering broken glass across the bank's marble floor.

The robbers stared at him as he walked through the wreckage unperturbed. One yelled something unintelligible and fired his grenade launcher - the weapon that had destroyed the squad car out front. Captain Paragon raised his arm to shield himself from the devastating impact. The explosion staggered him, but didn't stop his inexorable advance. Gunfire blazed again, but he ignored it.

"Don't take a step closer, asshole!"

Captain Paragon looked around, and saw a hostage held at gunpoint by one of the bank robbers.

"You get out of here, or this bitch gets it, right?"

"Do you really think that's going to work?"

He cocked the pistol that was pressed to the sobbing victim's head. "You think I don't know your MO, Paragon? You won't endanger civilians."

"She's not in any danger."

"You sure about that, blue?"

"Very."

Paragon balled his fist and then brought it down into the ground. The air seemed to liquefy as he made contact, and then the marble floor rippled like a pond engulfing a pebble. The waves radiated outwards, causing stone to buckle and erupt. The walls shook and the robbers were knocked off their feet. Guns and villains alike were sent sprawling. He was on the leader in an instant, lifting him by the scruff of his neck into the air.

* * *

Outside the bank, the police were rounding up the robbers, cuffing them and issuing charges. Some yelled and bawled, others were stunned into silence. Captain Paragon walked calmly down the steps to where the reporter was waiting for him.

"Captain Paragon! Captain Paragon!"

"Can I help you, miss?"

"Everyone wants to know - how long will you be remaining in New Amsterdam?"

He looked right into the camera, letting the lens focus on his stern, lantern-jawed face.

"As long as it takes."

Then he took a run-up and lifted off, rising high into the air and out of sight, leaving only the sound of a sonic boom behind.

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Sun Sep 14, 2008 12:54 am
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"Captain Paragon! Captain Paragon!"

"Can I help you, miss?"

"Everyone wants to know - how long will you be remaining in New Amsterdam?"

He looked right into the camera, letting the lens focus on his stern, lantern-jawed face.

"As long as it takes."

Then he took a run-up and lifted off, rising high into the air and out of sight, leaving only the sound of a sonic boom behind.

-----

"Not bad, not bad..."

Ray smiled. "Interesting. This Captain Paragon is making a name for himself. He's quite the effective crime fighter."

Jealous, aren't you?

"Just a bit..." Ray said to his demonic alter-ego.

Bah. Crime fighting. Why don't you come over to the dark side and become a super villian? You have the potential to become a very dangerous one...You could do whatever you wanted!

"That isn't what I had in mind at all!" Ray said, sternly. "I'll have enough fun catching criminals. I don't need to turn my heart black to enjoy these powers."

You're so boring. But what else can I expect from a human?

"You would say that," he replied.

"In other news, the jewelry store on 32nd street is under seige by four men carrying machine guns. The police are currently engaged in a shootout with-"

"C'mon, let's go. I'm going to show the citizens that you don't need to wear spandex to be a mad awesome super hero." Ray said.

------

Professor Mandrake grinned at his handiwork, the blue light of the control panel illuminating his sinister face.

"Yes...this is beautiful."

He stood at the bottom of a giant cylinder in a nearly pitch black room, briefly illuminated by flashes of lightning as electricity jumped between coils near the top of the device.

"My anti-gravitron device..." he said. "With a flick of a switch, I can forcibly uproot any spot in the city I want...even the entire city. All I need is...power. Power to run this creation..."

He turned towards a figure in the darkness. "I trust you'll be able to handle it?"

"Of course."

------

"Do these guys ever run out of ammo? ARGH!"

A cop fell, his shoulder blade being struck by a bullet. The sound of machine gun fire filled the air, the four masked robbers pouring a shower of bullets onto the cops, who hid carefully under the cop cars.

"Officer down!" said a cop into his radio. "I can't get in close, we're going to need some serious-"

"Backup? I'll take it from here, officer."

"Who are-" A lean, toned young man, with long black hair, shades, and armor, stood behind the officers, looking on at the four robbers.

"This is going to be fun." He smirked, and held out his hand, materializing a long, steel curved blade, perhaps longer than himself. He stepped over the car, coming out into the open.

"Who the hell is this guy?"

"Just some goth freak. Blow the idiot away!"

All four men turned their machine guns on him, and fired.

Immediately, the 'goth' began to swing his blade very rapidly. The sound of metal on metal echoed through the air as each bullet was knocked out of the air by the swinging of the katana. Some of them ricocheted back, almost hitting those who fired them.

Then he charged, rushing right at the men, who fired and missed due to his quick moments.

"Dammit! Bullets don't work!"

PUNCH. He found his gun knocked out of his hand, and caught by the young man's free hand, who proceeded to put bullets in his knee cap.

"They seem to work fine to me." He left the screaming robber on the floor, chucking the gun away, and rushed straight at the other three men.

"Why you-" A second one had his gun cut in half, before a punch to the head laid him out on the ground. The third man yelled, trying unsuccessfully to hit him with punches before a precise slice across his leg immobilized him, his gun kicked away.

"Freak!" The last robber shot away at the 'goth', who promptly dispatched his gun the same at the others, and held his katana right to his head.

"It's over." His voice growled.

"I figured this might occur..." the robber said. "You transhumans think you can parade your justice around this city. You think you're going to take me in, huh? Do you? Well...YOU'LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE!"

It was too late to stop him. He'd already pulled the pin on an explosive beneath his coat...

BOOOOOOM!

An enormous explosion shattered the windows of the store and nearly engulfed the cops...

"Aw, shit! He was doing awesome, too. He almost made it..."

"-Who- nearly made it?"

The 'goth' was standing right behind them.

"What?!"

"Amazing!"

The threat of the robbers eliminated, the news crew moved in, cameras turned on their new hero.

"How did you survive the explosion?"

"I out ran it. Piece of cake."

"At point blank?!"

"Yep!"

"What's your name?"

He put a finger to his head, as if he had to think for a moment. Then...

"Hell...Razor." Grinning, he made his katana disappear. "But you can also call me..."

Pulling off his shades, the muscular young man disappeared in a flash of light, replaced by...

"Ray Mason," he said.

"He just showed us his secret identity!" The flash bulbs really started to flicker.

"Secret identity?" The thin boy behind Hell Razor chuckled. "I don't need to keep my identity secret. Hiding behind masks and stuff raises distrust among the people. I figure if I'm upfront with you guys we'll all get along, yeah?" He reached into his pocket, and put on a normal set of glasses.

"What are your plans for the future?"

"Get a TV show? Nah, I'm just gonna kick ass. Now if you excuse me, I have homework to do. I'll answer questions later. I have a guard dog, so I wouldn't recommend you media guys coming onto my property. He bites."

And with that, he ran into the distance.

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Mon Sep 15, 2008 2:18 am
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Lance Boer, Mayor of New Amsterdam, tapped his pen rhythmically against the pad on his desk. Written on it was his only appointment for the day:

10:15 AM - Captain Paragon

He was getting nervous. It was so stupid. He was the mayor of the greatest city in the world, for Christ's sake. But still...Captain Paragon was a Columbian icon; a symbol of something that was bigger and more powerful than any one man, even a superhuman one.

He glanced up at the antique clock above the ornate fireplace in his office. It was fourteen minutes past. The clock had been aligned exactly with the official clocks kept in Greenwich. It seemed like the man who ran a city like this should do things right. The second hand was rapidly approaching upright, converging on XII at a rate of six degrees a second.

Of course, Captain Paragon wouldn't keep the exact same time as Lance Boer. But he should be here soon, that was the important thing.

10:14:59

And...

WHOOMPH.

The Mayor turned around in surprise, looking out through the wide glass-paned doors behind him that led out to the balcony. Captain Paragon was standing there, watching him silently.

"Oh! Uh...hold on..." He scrambled to get up and unlock the doors. It was foolish of him to imagine Paragon would just present himself to the reception desk downstairs, wasn't it? He opened the door and stepped back, allowing the physical representation of Columbia to step into his office.

"Thank you for agreeing to see me, sir."

Boer blinked. "Pardon me?"

"It's an honour to meet a man who has ushered in as much social reform as you. You are an example to good Columbians everywhere."

"Uh...thank you...." Belatedly, he extended a hand to Captain Paragon.

"I won't shake your hand, sir. It's likely I would crush every bone in your fingers."

"Oh." He withdrew his hand and took a seat, gesturing for Paragon to do likewise.

"Not necessary - I don't suffer from fatigue."

"Very well." Boer tried to regain his composure. "Captain Paragon. First, on behalf of the City of New Amsterdam, I'd like to extend my thanks for your timely intervention in the bank robbery two days ago."

"Your thanks are not necessary."

"Nonetheless, we are grateful."

"I must also apologise for the damage caused to municipal property in the course of the operation. Naturally, the government department responsible for my deployment will compensate the City."

"Oh, that's really alright..."

Paragon held up a hand. "Columbia pays its debts," he said.

Boer didn't reply to the sound byte, and covered the awkward pause by shuffling some papers on his desk. "The main thing I wanted to talk about," he said after a few seconds, "was the presence of certain individuals at large in the City right now. Individuals only you have the power to stop."

"You're speaking of transhuman criminals."

"Yes. The NAPD is powerless to stop the transhumans running amuck in New Amsterdam. That's why we need your help."

Captain Paragon fell silent for a few moments. He placed a gloved hand to his chin, considering. "The most dangerous threat to you is Professor Mandrake."

"What makes you say that?"

"I'm familiar with the capabilities of every transhuman at large in New Amsterdam. I simply had to consider which of them had the means to bring their likely plans to fruition. Black Fury is the most powerful, but he has no contacts or even plans to enact. Iron Hand was injured during his escape from prison. Portal will require time to regenerate. Professor Mandrake returned immediately to the Winters Building, where his laboratory is located and no doubt already has the money and resources to create some new device of destruction."

"We can't touch him while he's under Dale Winters' protection, Paragon. He has an army of lawyers and we just don't have the money to make any prosecution stick. That building might as well be a fortress."

"And I am forbidden from acting outside of Columbian jurisdiction - if you cannot prosecute him, then I cannot apprehend him."

Boer sighed. "So our hands are tied...Mandrake is free to run riot..."

Captain Paragon smashed one fist into his open palm. "No! He must be stopped! I will not allow him or his patrons to flout the laws of this land with complete impunity!"

"But what can we do?"

"He must be brought to heel. Apprehending him is the first step. I can help, but I must not be seen to be aiding an unsanctioned operation."

"What are you suggesting?"

Captain Paragon approached the desk. Boer could almost sense the power in his superhuman body as he came closer. "This city is rife with unlicensed transhumans - men and women who have the power to stop Mandrake."

"Are you suggesting...getting help?"

Paragon nodded. "The Columbian government cannot use me to stop Mandrake, but they can use me to inspire others to do it."

"What do you need me to do?"

"Find a way to make a conviction stick once we have him.

"Alright."

Paragon turned and walked out onto the balcony. He looked back at the Mayor. "Thank you for your valuable time, sir. You will be hearing from me soon."

Without waiting for a reply, he took to the sky, and was soon a tiny dot of darker blue in the distance.

* * *

Several hours later, Janet Goodman entered Boer's office carrying a manila folder. "Catch the news today, Lance?"

He looked up and frowned. "What now? Another hurricane?"

"Not exactly." She handed him the folder and he flicked through its contents.

"What is this?"

"Someone stopped a jewellery heist on 32nd Street."

"Captain Paragon?"

"You wish. No, someone else. Someone new."

Boer looked at the snapshot she had provided. It showed a muscular young man with dark hair and two swords. "A transhuman?"

"Maybe. Maybe not. Someone recognised that pendant he's wearing. We're still looking into it."

"So who is he?"

"Calls himself Hell Razor. Real name Ray Mason - he wasn't interested in protecting his identity."

Boer frowned. "Anything come up on that name? Transhuman parents?"

Goodman shook her head. "No - just an ordinary high school kid."

"Typical." He threw the folder down. "Captain Paragon was here. I have a feeling this Hell Razor character would be exactly what he's looking for to take down Professor Mandrake."

Goodman finally sat down on the other side of the desk. "Talking of whom...my department has done some digging. We think he's planning something big."

"Like what?"

"Something that might be able to destroy the whole city. The thing is, he would need a huge amount of power to use this new machine - power he doesn't have access to."

"I bet Winters could get it for him though..."

"Probably not. There's a limit to what money can buy."

"So that means he'd have to get it illegally?"

She nodded. "Almost certainly. There are only a few energy sources with that kind of power: the Atom Smasher upstate, Adam Armstrong, maybe the Blenheim-Gilboa Dam if it's entire output were co-opted."

"And none of those are available. He has no choice but to break the law."

"Not that it will matter - even if we catch him in the act, we'll never make anything stick. Winters will bribe every cop on the scene if needs be."

Boer smiled. "Then it's lucky we have someone unbribable around..."

* * *

Far above the streets of New Amsterdam, Captain Paragon stood perched on a ledge observing everything that went on below. He adjusted his earpiece, tapping into radio signals zipping across the city.

Somewhere out there were the transhumans who could help him bring down Professor Mandrake. The transhumans who could do the things that were forbidden to a public representative of the government.

The transhumans who could take the fall for Captain Paragon...

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Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:59 pm
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"The only thing that's gonna suck about this is, if the police don't trust me, they might try to come to my house and arrest me for 'vigilantism."

You know, with your identity out in the open, maybe the bad guys can find you too. That might not have been as smart as you thought.

"They almost always find out a hero's identity eventually. I don't have any connections to anyone, so they can't take my girlfriend hostage or anything. What are they gonna do, burn my house down?"

"Probably."

Ray looked up to see Captain Paragon.

"It's you," he said.

"Ray Mason. You are needed."

"I'm...needed?"

"Yes. You displayed incredible courage and skill in foiling a robbery earlier today. I think that you have what it takes to help me stop a madman."

"Who's the bad guy?"

Paragon handed him a few papers. "His name's Professor Mandrake. Escaped from jail, the guy's got protection by a guy named Dale Winters and a whole team of lawyers. Now that he's free, he's working on some sort of doomsday device. We don't know what yet, but we have to apprehend him before it becomes operational."

"How can I help?"

"Team with me, and with our forces combined, we're sure to capture him. I can't do it alone. Ray Mason...Hell Razor, will you assist me?" He extended his hand.

Don't team with this poser, he's just some self-righteous spandex clad-[/i]

Ray stood up and shook his hand. "Bag my first supervillian? Sure, why not?"

Damn!

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Captain Paragon stood in Ray's bedroom, incongruous in his royal blue outfit and pristine white cape against the backdrop of dusty books, computer-monitor glare and empty pizza boxes. The room was small, and Ray was squashed up onto his single bed while Paragon loomed over him.

"So what's the plan? How do you imagine this team working? Will we be like The Force?"

Paragon looked sternly at the young man. "Let me answer all those questions together. We will not be ‘working together' in the way you envision. Because I am a public figure, and a representative of the Government, I cannot simply apprehend Professor Mandrake. This is precisely why I need your help."

"Oh..."

"You will have to be the public face of this operation."

Ray brightened. "Yeah? Be on TV again?"

"Almost certainly. I have reason to believe that Mandrake will attempt to take over the Blenheim-Gilboa Dam in order to provide power for his latest invention."

"So we have to be waiting for him there?"

"No, you have to be waiting for him there, ready to use that amulet to unleash your power. As a civilian, you can gain access to the dam much more easily than I can. I am unable to avoid notice, but you have the perfect disguise."

"Hey! Yeah! So how do I get into the dam?"

"I'll leave that up to you. But once you have Mandrake in your sights, I'll arrive on the scene to help you bring him in."

Ray nodded. "That sounds simple enough. It shouldn't be that hard."

"No indeed. I knew I could count on you, Mr. Mason."

"Call me Hell Razor!"

"Mr...Razor..."

Captain Paragon nodded and then looked around. The room's only window was small and looked like it hadn't been opened in a while. "I'll leave via the door this time."

He walked out of the room, pausing only to nod a greeting at Ray's roommate who was halfway through biting into a pop tart. "Greetings, citizen."

* * *

"You're not going to get away with this you know."

Captain Paragon turned around, regarding the woman who approached his perch high above the streets with an impassive stare.

"Ms. Goodman. I've been looking forward to meeting you."

"Come on, Paragon - you of all people have the right to use my real name."

He inclined his head. "Columbian Woman."

She stepped out of the shadows and folded her arms. "The Mayor doesn't see it, but I know what you have planned, Paragon. I know how you think, remember? My DNA was the model for the transformations yours was subjected to."

"I don't know what you mean."

"It was even me who picked you out of all the applicants, did you know that? I thought a black man would understand better. I never dreamed you'd turn into their tool."

"I'm upholding the law."

"No, you're abusing its sprit to uphold its letter. That's not the same thing."

He turned away. "I am what I am."

"Do you know what Mark Twain once said? ‘True patriotism, the only rational patriotism, is loyalty to the Nation all the time, loyalty to the Government when it deserves it.'"

"The Government is the Nation. Without them, Columbia would be a loose confederation of ill-defined states. They make us what we are - transforming the descendants of immigrants and slaves into a people."

"But you're perpetuating the same oppression this Government was formed to fight. If you set this kid up...you'll be spitting in the face of all transhumans everywhere...spitting in the face of your own people. There's a name for people like that - collaborators."

"Hell Razor is an unlicensed transhuman."

"But you're happy to use him when it suits you?"

"He'll help to defeat Professor Mandrake. His fall will serve the greater good."

Goodman threw up her hands. "You really want to send this kid to jail?!"

"Come now. Your department would have him back on the streets in less than twenty four hours."

"But he'd have a criminal record forever. You know how hard it is to get a job when you have a stain like that on your character, Paragon? His life's going to be over."

Paragon looked over his shoulder at her. "He still has his powers. Denying him opportunities balances that out - now the playing field is level."

"That's bullshit and you know it."

"I didn't think you'd ever be the one giving me this lecture. No one supported the Unmasking Act as fervently as you."

"It was that or we'd all go to jail. I care about transhuman rights, Paragon. That's why I helped create you. I thought you might care too."

Paragon walked towards her. "I care about stopping men like Mandrake and, yes, if it comes to it, Hell Razor. He's better off behind bars. There's no room for vigilantes in this world."

"Except you?"

"I'm sanctioned, that's what makes me different."

"That's an arbitrary distinction."

"Nonetheless...it is a distinction."

Goodman shook her head. "I won't let you do it. I'll stop you myself if I have to."

"And use your powers?" He looked around. They were on a rooftop with no easy access to the street below. "Again?"

Goodman stepped away. "You'd bring me in too?"

"If necessary. I will let this infraction slide. But if you get in my way and use your powers...I will have no choice."

"You make me sick."

"That is not my concern. Good evening, Columbian Woman." He turned his back and then jogged towards the edge of the building. Goodman watched him take to the air and disappear into the night.

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Tue Sep 16, 2008 2:03 pm
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If you ask me, that Captain Paragon is a real dick.

"Yeah?"

It's obvious he's only using you to save public image, don't you know? He gets someone to do his dirty work for him.


"Yeah, but anything that'll get me on TV. I get to apprehend my first supervillian."

Maybe he'll bring you in too. You are a 'cough cough' vigilante after all.

"Don't worry, I'm not gonna let that happen."

You have balls, kid. If it comes to that, it'll be a fight I'll enjoy...


"I'll try to avoid a fight though, if possible. If I fight him I'll look like a bad guy."

Damn.

Ray stood waiting within the dam, just outside the restricted area. He knew if Mandrake were to come looking for it's power, he would have to go here. He waited.

And waited.

And waited.

"I wish he would hurry up."

Maybe he's not coming. What a waste of time...I want to stretch my legs.

"Well, I have my trusty Anti-Boredom Device." He pulled out a white, shiny rectangle with a mirrored letter 'A' logo on the cover, that flipped open to reveal two screens.

Huh? What the heck is that?

"It's just an Atari DS. I'm going to play some Asteroids Dual Shooter on it."

You...humans and your strange gadgets. In Hell the best entertainment comes from screaming, tortured souls. I could listen to them all eternity...

"Hey! You!"

A security guard noticed him, running right up to him. He didn't look happy.

"Who are you?!"

"Uh-"

"Wait, you were on television, you're that Ray Mason/Hell Razor guy! You must be working for Mandrake!" He lifted his radio. "I need backup, there's an unlicensed-"

Ray's foot connected with his balls, leaving him to collapse in pain, as Ray took off. "Jerk!"

Hahaha, this is what you get for being reckless with your identity.


"Stuff it."

What are you waiting for? Transform and we can strike them all down!

Ray gripped his pendant, shut his eyes...

...

"No."

What?

"If I do that it's completely over for me. Any image I had of a hero will be lost if Hell Razor cuts down public officials. I have to get out of here, and fast."

Down the corridor, two security guards drew their guns. "FREEZE!"

He kept running.

"Comply or we'll shoot!"

Suddenly he stopped short, skidding, a wide-eyed, terrified look on his face...

"HOLY SHIT, IT'S PROFESSOR MANDRAKE!"

The security guards turned, for an instant. All he needed.

He ran by, forcefully knocking them down and running past. "Gotcha!"

Amusing trick. Now you just have to do it a few dozen times more to the army of cops who's going to be here soon, and I doubt they have a sense of humor.

There were more security guards ahead...

You need a new plan.

---

Grinning fiendishly under the moonlight, Professor Mandrake stood outside the dam, overlooking it.

"This is the place...the one place that can power my ultimate invention. All I have to do is...take it, for myself."

He lept, impossibly high...flying through the air before crashing down next to a wall, his powered metallic exoskeleton enabling him to absorb the shock with ease. He pointed a finger at it, and a laser shot out, slowly cutting through the wall like it was butter.

With a punch, he knocked down the remains of the wall, forming a convinient door.

"Nobody...can stop me now...mwahahahaha..."

---

High above the dam, Captain Paragon hovered, watching the scene. He smiled.

"He's in. Everything's going just as planned."

If only he knew.

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Wed Sep 17, 2008 1:28 am
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Linda McMahon
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The reporter - young, blonde, pretty, the same one who'd covered the bank robbery - was now standing on a cliff overlooking the dam. Wind whipped at her hair.

"We're here responding to an anonymous tip-off that two unlicensed transhumans are at large and attempting to take over the dam - perhaps in some nefarious plot to co-opt New Amsterdam's power supply. The NAPD is rushing to respond and..."

WHOOMPH.

Captain Paragon landed on top of the dam itself. The camera swung ‘round to focus on him as the rising sun caught him just right. He stood for just long enough for the wind to catch his cape and send it billowing out behind him before taking a running jump and diving out of shot, presumably seeking a way into the dam.

"Captain Paragon is here to save the day!" the reporter gushed.

* * *

Ray had evaded the guards several more times and was now deep in the bowels of the dam. Huge generators rose up on either side of him: enormous dull-grey cylinders reaching up into the shadowy vaults of the ceiling. The whole level was deserted - the dam workers didn't come down here much.

What are you even looking for?

"Got to find Mandrake and take him down."

It would be easier if you just transformed..,

"I told you..."

No one around now. What are you going to do, wait for Mandrake to drop out of the sky and hope he takes enough time picking himself up for you to get into hero mode?

"Alright, alright." He gripped the pendant in one hand, but before he could close his eyes and give himself over to the voice in his head, a deep rumbling from above distracted him.

Oops. Too late. I hate to say I told y...

A huge shape descended from the ceiling in a shower of concrete rubble. Ray threw himself out of the way, rolling up to his feet as Professor Mandrake shook himself - or rather, his powered armour - free of debris.

"Hey!"

The robotic face of the suit turned and transfixed Ray in its glowing green gaze. "WHO ARE YOU?" it asked with a metallic whine.

"I'm Hell Razor!"

"I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THIS."

The machine's huge arm - as long as Ray was tall - swept out and batted him away like a fly. He crashed into one of the generators as Mandrake stalked away through the gloom of the vast chamber.

Transform now?

"Okay..." Ray murmured weakly. He grabbed the pendant and felt the infernal power saturate him. His bruises melted away, and the cut on his lip closed up. Slowly, he pulled himself upright, feeling dislocated bones pop back into place.

"No one swats me and gets away with it!" he roared, and his twin katanas blazed into existence in his hands. With a roar of fury, Hell Razor launched himself directly towards the dim shape of Mandrake's hulking suit. The scientist didn't turn in time to intercept his mysterious foe, and was bowled over by the impact.

"HEY! WHAT THE..."

Hell Razor lifted one of his swords and drove it downwards, aiming for the intersection between the suit's head and neck. The machine was able to dodge with agility that belied its vast bulk. Hell Razor felt two huge metal hands envelope him from either side and lift him into the air.

"Let me go!"

"WHY WOULD I DO THAT?"

Hell Razor remained suspended in the air as the suit righted itself, limbs flipping ‘round in impossible configurations in order to achieve the upright. Hell Razor was tossed lightly into the air as one hand flew towards him, ready to bat him away into another generator, but he spun around in mid air, dodging it. The suit was unbalanced and stumbled forwards. Hell Razor landed on its shoulder and struck out with both swords. This time he sliced something in the suit's throat, and sparks shot out like spurting blood. The machine lurched backwards and Hell Razor was thrown clear. He landed on his feet twenty feet away.

"HELL RAZOR, EH?" Mandrake asked through the suit's verbal processors.

"Yeah, that's right. Why?"

"I LIKE TO KNOW WHAT TO PUT ON A TOMBSTONE!" The suit's shoulders shifted abruptly, shunting its arms to its rear and a battery of gun muzzles appeared slung below each shoulder. The suit lurched forward again, adopting a squat pose.

Hell Razor stared in disbelief as the guns whirred, tracking him. He jumped to one side as a burst of fire reduced the area of floor on which he had just been standing to molten slag. With a grunt, he leapt onto the nearest generator, finding purchase even on its smooth surface. The guns tracked him again and he jumped through the air onto a second generator. Steam hissed behind him where the gunfire had penetrated the generator he had just been clinging to.

"STAND STILL, YOU LITTLE SHIT!"

Hell Razor didn't have the breath to offer a reply. He jumped again, his momentum carrying him high up into the air, nearly thirty feet above Mandrake's suit. He had reached the domed top of the generator, where it tapered before entering the level above. He stood poised on the angled surface, listening to the sound of Mandrake clanking around below.

"Only got one chance to get this right," he growled to himself. He spun his swords around so they were facing downwards. There was another burst of gunfire directed at the ceiling just a few feet above his head, but he was well out of sight.

"Got to figure out exactly where he is, and not give him a chance to focus his guns on me..." Hell Razor stepped towards the edge of the generator, looking down. His supernatural gaze could pierce the shadows, and he could see Mandrake stomping around below him. Suddenly, the suit's head jerked upwards, and its green eyes bored straight into him. Hell Razor jumped to one side as the guns unleashed their lead fury again, missing him by inches. He sailed through the air, planted his feet against the side of another generator and then pushed himself in a downward arc right towards the suit far below.

Mandrake turned to face him, trying to bring his guns to bear, but not in time. Hell Razor crashed into him, sword-tips first, both blades driving deep into the suit's neck. As Hell Razor flipped away, he levered his weapons upwards, ripping the head off and knocking the suit over onto its back with a thunderous crash. He bounded away, landing smartly in a low crouch.

"Just like opening a tin of peaches!"

The headless suit tried to pick itself up, but just collapsed into a shower of sparks. Hell Razor narrowed his eyes and watched the wreckage carefully. Slowly, the torso began to vibrate and then opened up like a segmented clamshell, revealing a small figure.

"Professor Mandrake, I presume."

"That would be me, yes." Mandrake waved away the smoke in front of his eyes. "Did you have to fuck my suit like that?"

"You were trying to kill me..."

"Past tense? How foolish of you."

Hell Razor frowned, then stared down at the growing crimson stain on his chest armour. Mandrake smiled as he waved the small crossbow he had in his left hand. The smoke had obscured it.

Hell Razor took a grip on the end of the dart that protruded from his chest, but Mandrake shook his head. "I wouldn't do that - it's barbed. You'll rip out one of your pectorals if you do that. Also, I tipped it with a fast-acting tranquilliser. You should be paralysed in...ooooh..." he looked at his watch, "...say, two minutes?"

Hell Razor lurched forward and Mandrake smiled as he dusted himself down and stepped out of the wreckage of his suit. "Until then, you'll just have some impaired motor functions. Slurring of speech, heaviness of limbs, that sort of thing. Now, to find the central control panel for these generators."

As he felt the poison coursing through his body, Hell Razor tried to keep his eyes open. Professor Mandrake was already walking away, and he knew he had to stop him. He had to stop him, or he'd be like all the other freaks and weirdoes in New Amsterdam. He wasn't just some cape - he was a hero. He had to prove that to Captain Paragon.

Summoning up all his remaining energy, Hall Razor took a stumbling step forward and closed his eyes. He focused all his will, all his being, into one surging torrent of fury. He could see the ball of white fire coalesce in his mind's eye and, when he looked down, saw it with his real eyes too.

"Cool!"

He lifted the glowing ball of chi and hurled it with all his considerable might. It shot across the intervening space between himself and Mandrake and then exploded with a sound more felt than heard. There was a thwoomp of displaced air and a yell from Professor Mandrake.

As the air cleared, Hell Razor saw that he was down and not going anywhere any time soon. Relieved, he collapsed back against the generator and closed his eyes.

* * *

Cops raced into the chamber, shining torches everywhere. Captain Paragon strode at their head, glancing this way and that. They came to Mandrake first and Paragon hauled him up to his feet.

"Caught in the act, Professor."

"Damn you, Paragon," he spat through the bloody mess of his face.

"Even Winters' money won't get you out of this one - not when we have your suit right here and a hole that matches it in the side of this dam."

"None of these cops will testify against me."

"They don't have to. No jury in the land will doubt the testimony of Captain Paragon. Cuff him, boys." Paragon shoved Mandrake towards a gaggle of waiting police officers then strode past his destroyed suit. He spied the rumpled shape of Hell Razor against one of the generators and walked towards him slowly.

"P...Paragon...?"

"Yes, Ray. It's me."

"I got him." As Hell Razor came ‘round, he began to shrink back to his normal size, his transformation having taken its toll on his constitution. As he became Ray Mason again, the dart dropped out and landed in his open palm.

"Yeah, you got him, kid."

Ray smiled.

"Officers," Paragon called over his shoulder, "the other transhuman is over here!"

"Wha...?"

Told you. Why do you never listen to me?

"Cuff him," Paragon said grimly as he looked down at his one-time partner.

* * *

Mayor Boer and Janet Goodman watched the news report with stoic expressions. The breezy reporter was gushing about Captain Paragon as he stepped into shot, hands on hips and smiled reassuringly for the camera. The sun was shining, and the dam looked stunning.

"I was tracking the transhuman known as Hell Razor and I was fortunate enough to find him in the act of helping another fugitive - Professor Mandrake."

"What do you think they were trying to do?"

"I suppose cause havoc by cutting off New Amsterdam's power supply. Often disgruntled transhumans take out their frustrations on the world by creating this kind of chaos - and it's exactly that kind of thing that I'm here to stop."

"Will Mandrake and Hell Razor be serving long sentences do you think?"

"Assuming transhuman rights lobby groups don't get involved again, they should both be spending a good while behind bars."

"Another successful mission for Cap..."

"Turn it off," Goodman said, and Boer obliged. The two officials sat in silence for a while.

"I'm not letting Hell Razor go to jail," she said without turning around, "there's nothing I can do about him having a criminal record - they'll probably kick him out of college - but I can at least stop him going to prison."

The Mayor nodded. "Do what you have to do."

"We have to stop him, you know. Captain Paragon. He's going to undo everything we've fought for."

"I know."

Goodman stood up and left the office, leaving Boer staring silently at the blank TV screen.

_________________
- lots and lots of short fiction, written by me, regularly updated.

- it's a space opera novel I wrote.

I have some shit on Kindle too: ,


Fri Sep 19, 2008 4:48 pm
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