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CripDyke

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The long promised (i believe first discussed 6 months ago now, phew!) super-hero RPG on reaper's board is now here. We will begin with one hero, played by Leech, with Steven Page soon to join in. Others may be added mid stream with an approved character and enough time for me to allow the character(s) to enter the plot in an appropriate way - hey, lots of comics end  up as team-ups, and this game will be played very comic-book-heroic style.

 

I will be running the game using Villains & Vigilantes rules systems, slightly modified with my own house rules. This Game System's copyright is owned wholely by Fantasy Games Unlimited. Additionally, certain characters owned by FGU are used either as background in the world history or as allies/ antagonists in the ongoing plot that I tell. These characters all appeared in sourcebooks or modules © FGU in the eighties. (The rulebook is © 1986). Your right to have fun with these delightful intellectual properties in no way includes the right to make money off of these things, ok?

 

okay. Now, to set the scene:

==============================================

 

Portland, Oregon is a high-tech city. Like so many cities built around information and computer based industries, Portland has fallen on hard times. But unlike many, its recovery is just around the corner.

 

15 years ago, Portland seemed poised to replace Seattle as the pre-eminent city on the Northwest Coast. With a booming Silicon Forest set to rival the Bay Area’s Valley, business was good. With the cities new Performing Arts Center hitting its stride attracting visiting shows by one of North America’s finest Shakespearean festivals, the nightlife was growing toward excellent. And with an overachieving group of local heroes, the SuperHeroes Of Portland (S.H.O.P.), the crime rate was phenomenally low.

 

Alas, all good things must end. In October 1987, the stock market crashed, drying up high tech investment in the area and setting back local industry three years. A month later, the Shakespearean Festival announced its run it Portland would soon come to a permanent end. And in December? December 1987 is the month the heroes of S.H.O.P. all but disappeared.

 

They were four, of course. Any Oregonian can tell you their names: Comet, whose fiery trail erupted across the sky nearly instantaneously during his hyper-sonic flights; Devastator, whose high-tech armor seemed immune to every known weapon and villain; Dangerspeed, the acrobatic master of hand-to-hand combat; and Paragon, who projected spikes of silver energy from forehead to foe while simultaneously shielding buildings and innocents from the ravages of Aquarian combat through sheer force of will.

 

Though the story of their disappearance has never adequately been told, it is known that CHESS, the NATO security arm that invented the term “Aquarian” to describe the people, powers, and technologies of a new age, asked Oregon’s heroes to intercept a threat from beyond Sol’s sphere of influence. Dangerspeed returned to Portland as a consultant to local police and sometime hero. Paragon is now known the world over as Earth’s greatest genius on the side of good, but has been seen these last 15 years only through pictures and video. Of Devastator and Comet, however, nothing has ever been learned. Still, no threat from space materialized that winter, so there is no question of S.H.O.P.’s victory, only whether the winnings were worth the cost.

 

There has been little momentum in Portland since to supercede Seattle, much less San Francisco as the city once ambitiously hoped. But two years ago, a wet-suited savior arrived to save the patrons of a once-floating restaurant from drowning in the aftermath of a blast meant as a diversion by the Aquarian cult F.O.R.C.E. After the rescue - and the disruption of F.O.R.C.E. by other heroes - the newly named Orca set about dusting off the equipment in the old S.H.O.P. headquarters, and is clearly a nearly irresistible force underwater, not to mention nigh unkillable even when above it. Still, isolated and alone as he has been, his presence has not been enough to deter the opportunistic criminal element among Aquarians.

 

But perhaps that presence has been of some use. Only 12 hours before, Vanguard announced that Portland would be the site of only the second plant in the world to manufacture the new, holographic memory quickly replacing all other data storage media. Leslie Richter’s face, next to one of the distinctive, translucent yellow-green cards, still leaps out from new HDTV televisions in the windows of hopeful downtown stores. Some attribute Vanguard’s decision to the new confidence and security brought by Orca. Most are sure it couldn’t be the tax law. But whether the hope that Orca has brought to this city of evergreen parks shaped the decisions of the corporate executives or not, it remains merely hope. A hope that went unfulfilled 15 years ago. What fate awaits this city now?

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Though the residents of the city rarely think on it, Portland lies relatively far north. So much so, that on the first day of June the sun rises before 5 in the morning, only 6 hours after setting. The lightening sky came as a surprise to one wanderer of Portland’s east-side streets.

 

Unfamiliar with the local skies, he suffered through a cold, though light, rain shower less than 20 minutes before noticing the eastern sky had turned a light dove grey behind the prominent peak of Mount Hood. There is something disturbing in wrestling the night through with a knotty problem, only to find morning before finding an answer. Turning south, the figure looks along the warehouses lining the Willamette River to see the outline of his dilemma: the squat but bright headquarters of the storied SuperHeroes Of Portland. With a few not inconsequential talents, and knowing that Portland’s signature hero, Orca, must be looking for allies, the silent figure mulls again the questions that have been agonizing him all night: Am I worth of S.H.O.P.? And if I am, should I just walk up to the door and knock?

 

As the lone figure stands immobile in the growing light, however, the Gordian Knot is ripped to tatters by the sharp sounds of gunfire behind him, only blocks away….

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"Ah, sweet sweet music, how I adore thee." Says the man as he turns and bolts in the direction of the gunshots.

 

"Looks like my problems will have to wait a while, I've work to do."

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On the wet streets, the running figure's feet make sharp splashes that echo from buildings till empty in the grey light.

 

Another sharp report & it becomes clear that the gunfire is coming from the up above and on the far side of the train tracks... with a train parked in the way.

 

But more becomes apparent now... shouts. And not in english. They don't seem desperate, tho' they do seem urgent, and coming from street level.

 

What next? will our hero fly over this obstacle? phase through it? duck under it? or simply search out a way between the cars?

 

For the city of Portland, it is a moment of magnitude, even if few are aware of it. It is in this moment that a man has the opportunity to be reborn a hero.

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"What language was that?!" The man asks of himself as he continues towards the sounds of the gunshots. "Like it matters right now. First neutralise the targets then sort the gems from the gutter trash."

 

As the man continues running, his legs begin to report their fatigue... even he wasn't used to sprinting on wet contrete. But he ignored the pain like he had done many times before and quickened his pace as he heard more gunfire....

 

..coming from behind that train. "How rude! First they throw a fire-fight and don't invite me and then they park this bloody great train in the way."

 

Without breaking his stride the man drops to the ground and rolls under the train and leaps back to his feet. He pauses for the briefest of moment to get some big lungfulls of air into him then continued on towards where his more-than-human senses told him the gunfight was going on.

 

"Must go quicker, must go quicker." The man commands his body, and just as before, his body yields to the direction of his mind.

 

"Time to pull em I think, afterall I don't wanna fail to meet the dress code for this little shindig....." The man reaches inside his long coat and pulls out a pair of large pistols from his shoulder holsters. "Howdy ladies, long time since you've seen the light of day. Hope you're hungry."

 

Inside the man's head, a slight growl rumbles through the recesses of his mind, while outside he just quickens his pace.

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Before the running figure, a terrifying scene is playing out on the wet, grey street: a long, dark limousine, stopped in the process of turning away from the unmoving train, is slowly losing it's bullet-resistent windows to the repeated gunfire. Through one shattered window on the near side, the running hero can see a large, suited man hunched over in the back seat... perhaps protecting something or someone with his own body?

 

There is no time to be sure before another bullet explodes a tire, fully immobilizing the car. And yet it's clear to anyone present that the shot destroying the tire made no noise leaving the muzzle of whatever gun propelled it.

 

Then another silent shot, and two more! The first and last bullets ricochet of the wet asphault with a satisfying 'SMACK', but with the second bullet the trenchcoated hero is hit! - The impact, pushing him down and to his right, is still not enough to force him to the ground.

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"Ooof!" Thinks the man as he regains his balance, his hawk-like eyes and ears reaching out into the night to find the limo's assailants. "Find the targets, gotta find the targets!"

 

As his senses probe the blackness, he moves forward towards the limo both to get a better view of the situation and also to shield the passengers as much as possible.

 

"Come on scumbags, just fire another round and I'll cure all what ails ya...." He thinks as he continues his search. "####, in all this excitement I forgot if I've lethal or non-lethal ammo in the pipes. Oh well, can't worry about it now, the party's already in full swing."

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Moving slowly towards the immobile car, the new arrival on the scene holds two pistols prominently aloft. Extending his awareness, he focusses on two buildings as likely places for shots to be aimed at the car - and him - but which window?

 

And then: A noise of gunfire behind him. The gunfighter whirls to see... a loudspeaker! just as more bullets land on his back, impacting directly on his spine.

 

And yet the gunfighter does not fall, merely stumbling forward, away from the shots, away from the car. Then, using that momentum to  whirl back around the ambushed hero catches a glimpse of a moving shadow. As fast as thought, pistols are aimed and 3 bullets are fired from each gun.

 

Just like that, the shadow is gone - but has it dodged the bullets, or fallen struck by them? And why a loudspeaker broadcasting gunshots when the ambushers themselves are so silent?

 

Shaking off the stunning impact of the bullets that struck him, the would-be-rescuer reaches the car, taking cover from the shadow he's seen... but still exposed to a building that likely houses another sniper.

 

Who now will rescue whom?

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"What the #### is going on here!!" The man screams to himself as he hunkers down behind the limo, his hawk-like eyes scanning the other building. "What was the deal with the loudspeaker? Tehy're either trying to confuse people as to where the shots are coming from or making it look like normal gunfire. Probably both." He then looks at where he saw the shadow moving. "Wish I had more range, even my pistols aren't effective counter-sniper weapons."

 

The man stays crouched down behind the car trying to spot any more snipers. He points one gun at one building and the other gun at the other building, just in case. He'll shoot at anything that fires at him from the buildings. He'll also take a very brief moment to look for a bigger gun (SMG or assault rifle or something).

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Few things are more disconcerting than an attack from an invisible source. Having taken several hits already, the limo's would-be-defender hunkers down. He remains largely motionless, only swivelling his head as his eyes search back and forth over the ground and the buildings' facades trying to catch sight of a weapon more appropriate to the battle or another glimpse of a sniper.

 

After a few too-long moments, sounds of shots ring out again from a small loudspeaker planted on the side of the train. Still taking cover, the pistol-shooting rescuer swivels his head again, reflexively, knowing even before the movement is complete that he will be staring again at a mechanical ruse and not a sniper. Again he twists and turns, trying to see any evidence of the ambushers... but nothing remains save for the random bursts of gun noise. Still the tension does not drain until sirens announce the presence of police vehicles on this side of the tracks.

 

Realizing that after the long pause the battle must be over, an immensely large man opens the limo door behind which the scene's latecomer crouched.

 

"You came to help?" he asks. "It is well you arrived here. This ambush was planned well by someone who knows your trains. Your country allows too many guns. You are lucky they carried no rockets. My employer appreciates your bravery, sir," the large man concludes as he executes and holds a small bow.

 

If the battle was surreal, its end is more so. A vanishing enemy, a lightening morning sky, and a large man, Asian?, paying respects to someone who accomplished... what? Anything? To punctuate the utter confusion, noise of gunfire echoes out again. Still, it reminds the hero of the need for action.

 

But to remain and seek answers? or to avoid the scrutiny of the local police?

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"I just hope I was in time to prevent any serious injuries" Says the man as he nods his head in acknowledgement of the bow. "Would you mind if I enquired who your employer might be, and who might want to attack him? I don't know if the intent was to kill or some other motive, but anything you could tell me might help."

 

The stranger holsters his pistols and makes sure they're hidden from the casual observer. "Need more time. I'd like to sweep the area for sign bt I doubt the cops will let me." He thinks to himself as the man explains. "Well, least I can look for blood where I shot at that sniper."

 

The strange man will wait and listen to what the large asian man has to say, then he'll quickly check where the shadowy figure fell from his gunfire (looking for blood trails and evident of the weapon in particular). If he still has time he'll look at the damage done to the limo and the loudspeaker (looking for wires or anything). Avoiding the police would be nice, but he won't make a point of it. He'll stop snooping once they arrive and act like a 'witness' and 'good samaritan'. Which he is. He won't divulge his true nature, but won't conceal his identity.

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Within a few moments of the Sirens' announcement, the police do indeed arrive on the scene. Two cars initially, with officers remaining in cars for a few moments until a conversation on the radio is complete. By the time the officers emerge from the first cars, a third is already on the scene.

 

Our Hero, watching, sees the police approach the limo from the far side and open the driver's door. The driver swings his legs out of the car without actually emerging. From the snippets of conversation that can be heard, the two officers speaking to the driver appear to be worried over a gunshot wound he has suffered. Two other officers round the car, in classic one-up-one-back formation, with each resting a hand on her and his gun, respectively. The woman officer in the lead greets both hero and passenger, and asks for names.

 

The passenger responds first, naming himself Yooso, an assistant to Mr. Yamata of Kobe Automated Heavy Industry. That perks up ears of all the officers and our hero.

 

Kobe is the major corporation of a Japanese conglomerate that recently sued Vanguard over the latter firm's holographic memory. Kobe believes itself the owner of a precursor patent, and with the success of Vanguard's ColorCard memories, Kobe is looking to collect 5 billion, 5 thousand million, dollars.

 

Our hero is pondering that as the focus turns to him. All here must be wondering what a Kobe executive is doing in Portland's warehouse district so early in the morning, but the gunfighter is allowed little time to wonder as an officer shouts from a window above the scene:

 

"Don't let anyone leave. There's a dead sniper up here!"

 

With that, the early morning air seems grow even colder for a long moment, but the officer interviewing Yooso &  a man who just may be held for murder speaks in a serious way:

 

"I'm Seargent Sheffield, sir, and I was hoping you could provide me with some I.D. a little information. As soon as I have your name, you could start by telling me what you saw here."

 

The Seargent is not the only one to be waiting on the Samaritan's response, tho' he is granted a few moment's reprieve from answering by the sound of an arriving ambulance's sirens. No words could be heard during that noise, but in seconds it will be over, and the gunfighter will have to answer...

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"My name is John Gun." Says the stranger after the siren stops. He hands his passport over by way of identification. "I was walking around trying to clear my head a little, and get some purspective on things, when I heard gunfire coming from this area. So I made my way here as soon as possibe and found this gentleman (he gestures to Yooso) and his employer in their car under fire from the dead sniper and his friends."

 

He then rolls his eyes and shrugs his shoulders slightly. "I came under fire as soon as I got here, but the shots were silent, and not just silenced rifle silent but really silent, and the sound effects coming from the speaker back there," he gestures towards the speaker on the side of the train. He then holds his coat open. "You'll find this matches the corpse's wounds. But it was self defense, they shot at me first although in truth I was intending to meddle in their attack on Mr Yamata." He allows the cop to remove the pistol. "I'd like it back when you're finished please, it was a gift from a friend."

 

The man makes no attempt at subterfuge, seemingly trusting in his impenatrable shield of having 'done the right thing'. He then waits for the cops' responce.

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The sargeant is caught just a bit off guard, but accepts the passport & listen's to Mr. Gun's story.

 

"Do you mind if I hold this?" she asks, then puts it in a pocket without waiting for a response.

 

"I'd love to hear your description of the events, but I have to ask if you're carrying any more weapons, Mr. Gun. For crime scene security, we'd like to keep them secure in a patrol car."

 

But before the lockdown can proceed, Mr. Yooso interrupts: "Officer, excuse me, Sargeant? As the person most responsible for Mr. Yamata's security, I was told that Portland's Special Police Tactical unit would be available in case of an emergency. It seems they have not arrived then, if this Mr. Gun is not with that unit. Perhaps security would be best served if he continued to play the role he has played so far this evening."

 

Sargeant Sheffield seems uncomfortable for a moment, then replies, "SP Tac will send a representative soon Mr. Yooso. They would not normally respond to a report of shots fired, but this is clearly not a typical report.

 

"Good enough, Mr. Gun. We'll hold the weapons you fired, and your passport, but why don't we extend each other as much trust as a lowly sargeant's discretion allows, shall we?"

 

The question is directed at our hero, but her glance is directed at Mr. Yamata, still seated in the back of the flat-tired limo.

 

"Let's head up the stairs & see this sniper."

 

For the next 3 hours, Sargeant Sheffield & John Gun investigate the scene, finding an MP3 player with gunshot noises recorded on it, a high-performance loudspeaker, and a sniper, dead from 2 shots - one through an arm, another that passed through a collar bone and stopped against the inside of a shoulder blade. Serious injuries, yes. But fatal? It seems unlikely to everyone present. A bit of further probing reveals the sniper was likely Asian, or Asian-American. But no I.D. with the body leaves any information uncertain.

 

The sniper rifle on the other hand, is quite a weapon, and distinctive enough to need no separate I.D. With ideograms indicating the weapon was manufactured in Japan, it shows a quality of craftsmanship certain to indicate hand machining while sporting technology certain to indicate access to classified military manufacturing.

 

Having seen the scenes in their entirety, Mr. Gun also finds that he has retold the story of his rescue of Mr. Yamata several times, with increasing detail each time. But at last some trust has been established. Exiting the building where the sniper was found, they find the Limo and Mr. Yamata gone, though Yooso has remained behind.

 

"You know your weapons well, Mr. Gun, and I appreciate hearing your description of the events, but I was hoping before you go if you might just tell me your impressions and thoughts."

 

"Yes," adds Mr. Yooso. "I too would wish to hear your impressions, and then to speak with you long enough to offer my employer's thanks."

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John turns to Yooso. "No thanks nessecary. I'm just glad I was able to help, and before anyone was seriously injured."

 

He then turns to Sergeant Sheffield. "As for my thoughts and impressions, well my most imediate one is that this was a carefully planned ambush, executed well by a team of professionals. Well funded and equiped ones at that." He pauses for a moment to collect his thoughts. "The thing that bothers me is the loudspeaker. Why announce their presence to the world like that when they could have just fired their weapons with complete secrecy? It drew my attention, although it was fairly effective a ruse... I was nearly distracted by it, but thankfully I was able to get a shot off."

 

"Those weapons also pack a #### of a punch, and they hurt like #### when they hit you, and the lack of noise... I'm intruigued to be honest. Whoever can make weapons like that is a dangerous person." John pauses again. "As to how the sniper died, I'm wondering if they were under orders to suicide to prevent capture, but neither shot should have impared his ability to run. Also, now we've a sample of their weapons. There's certainly lots of oddities and unanswered questions here. I'd be interested in the results of a toxicology test on the dead sniper."

 

Again John speaks as honestly as he possibly can, laying his thoughts and impressions out for the Sergeant as well as he can.

 

"That settles that... soon as I get away from here I'm going to see Orca and volunteer to join SHOP.

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