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Heroes of Vigil City


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Everyone else-


There is an eerie silent before the old man looks up. Nonetheless, from his coat and from the tilt of his hat, all but his mouth is visible under a shadow.


"You can try... boy." the figure speaks to Eddie, his voice low, bass, and slightly raspy but clear enough for all to hear. (Judging from that, Eddie realizes that the previous time he talked to the man, the ornery old man voice was a feignt)


The man finally looks up and you see a greying, slightly bearded man, cheeks gaunt, and piercing gray eyes, with the stare of a hawk, a predator. His form is fairly bulky, but probably from his coat and jacket. He seems to have a European look to him, and his voice carries a very subtle hint of an accent. He shifts, looks at each one of the heroes with a passing but chilling glance.


After a bit, the man finally says, in his hoarse voice:


"So I see you got the message as well."





The robot gives a whirr and suddenly cocks its head sideways.


"Listen tin can, I only became hostile because you tried to ventilate me with your gatling gun a few seconds back. I'm more than willing to be escorted to your operator but only if you stand down."
"Intruder is [surrendering]."


The robot lowers its chain-gun at this phrase.


"I can further disable you if you force me..."


At this, the robot raises its gun again.


"Intruder is [Threatening]. Preparing to terminate..."


"But I am a guest..."
The robot cocks its head the other way.


"Unable to comply. Intruder status [Mis-diagnosed]. Rescanning..."


"... and it's bloody rude to break the host's toys..."
"Break the host's toys..."
"The host's toys..."


As soon as this word is spoken for the second time, it is as if something ticked (literally) inside the bot's processor. The head clicks as it jerks twice in a twitching motion. Suddenly the robot slams its gunky left arm against the wall with a thump and starts to stomp its leg on the ground. Its lensed eye extends, focuses, and, eerily, glows from red to green.


"You carbon-based bastard..." a mechanically synthetic suddenly speaks, or rather, rants from the robot's speaker.

"Will you STOP calling ME a [TOY]?! I am not a [TOY]! Do I LOOK like a [TOY]?!"


Suddenly, the robot raises its chain-gun arm again, the barrels whirring before it even took aim.


"Call me a [TOY] one more time! ONE MORE TIME! I double-dare you!"

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Finally! An answer in this @#!&ed up runaround!


"Yeah, we got your message, ya crazy old bastard," Eddie says as he powers down his fists. "Ya know, ya coulda called us or put out an ad in the paper. I got tired of this Top-Secret bullcrap in the Army. Anyways, hi, name's Eddie Cadenbaugh. I don't know these other folks' names, or I'd introduce ya. How's about tellin' us who you are?"

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The man on the gravestone seems to ignore your talking, but, with care, he reaches behind his pocket with a slow, relaxed motion, to allow all of you to see his action. He thumbs something (perhaps a remote, but smaller) and, suddenly, one of the crypts in the cemetary, nestled in a corner where the church walls corners it, begins to grind, its stone door opening to reveal a dark opening. Judging from the way the dirt slopes down to the door, those of you who are near it (Pulse and Cyphershot) can see the top few rungs in a flight of stone steps leading downward into darkness.


"You've dealt with street scum today, and you were nearly caught." he says, as if reading off a debriefing.


He looks up, glances at each one of you and, reaching again into his pocket, he produces a small vial.


"Let's see how you handle the real bad guys."


Tossing the vial hard against the surface of a gravestone, the bottle cracks and explodes in a flash of light. Before any of you can react, you see a shadowy humanoid form, hooded like a robed wraith, disappearing down the mouth of the crypt, leaving behind an old coat and a worn fedora lying on the ground. Suddenly, the crypt doors begin to grind and slowly, begins to close...

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Diving forward knowing that this is going to be a make it or break it point Pulse goes for the rungs knowing that there isn't a thing he's going to be able to do to stop that srypt from sliding shut but at least he can try and make the entrance as safe as possible for the rest of the team.

"I'm going in," he says "I've got point."

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The Phantom remains phased as a precaution against further bullets, floating several inches off the floor with his arms held out to his side in a non-threatening stance.


"Ah, now we're getting somewhere. There's some sentience in all that circuitry after all, perhaps some self awareness as well? Wonderful! I've always thought a system could be made complex enough that a machine could become self aware. Perhaps we can actually have a conversation now and not spend the rest of our day trying to blast each other to atoms. We've both shown we can hurt each other." The Phantom glances at the blood crusting on his shoulder and the disabled left arm of the machine. "I'm glad to see you've become capable of moving beyond your basic security programming. No offense meant by calling you a toy, but honestly, your first behavior was acting as a mindless automaton. And apologies for my carbon-centric notions, I've never met a silicon derived intelligence, pardon the mistake. Do you mind?"


The Phantom sits in a lotus type position, floating several inches above the floor's surface.


"Ah, much better. Now where were we originally... Oh yes, the matter of my invite. I was the recipient of a note bearing the markings of the building built upon this site. Naturally, when I arrived, and my host was not present, I began to explore the place to see if I could find him. You seem rather large to be leaping across rooftops and I have a hard time, given your present hardware, to imagine you using a simple bow and arrow. So, I have to ask myself, are you an associate of my host?"


The Phantom begins to wonder where the hell everyone else is...surely someone has to have figured out there is more to this Cathedral than a church.

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The robot cocks its mechanical head sideways. Its single glows red again then back to green.


"Ah, you must be one of those organic meatsacks the [Maker] told me to let through." the mechanical voice continued, extraordinarly able to sound sarcastic despite its monotone pitch.


"Are you an associate of my host."


At this the robot tilts and whirs its neck and focuses its lens.


"Oh no. NOooooOooo! Definatly not! I'm just the lawn ornament, that's all! I mean, the [Maker] thought I'd look just lavishing next to them gargoyle and cherub statues outside, you know? Only thing is I got this tiny lil' tendency to uhhh... how should I put it... uhhh... ventilate any stupid flousies who thought it'd be jolly good fun to climb my head and take pictures! Dumb bastards!"


Then, after a silence.


"Uhhh... that was a [Joke]."


With this, the robot straightens and, with a grind that probably was an attempt to imitate a human throat clearing, turns around and raises its gunked hand, waving for you to follow. In the hallway light, you notice the number "001" painted in black on the security bot's back.


"Well, come on then, you sack of organ-... I mean, honored guest. Follow me, the [Maker]'s got this whole gig planned out. Wouldn't want to toss a monkey wrench into his gears now, would you?"


And with that, the robot starts to pace down the wall, thudding the metal ground with every step of its heavy metal feet.

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While Cricket and Pulse slipped through the crack, Eddie graps the door before it fully closes and, with his herculean might, pries them open. Definatly not mere stone, the doors creak and grind with a metalic groan at the heavily welded hinges as it struggles to close against the man's strenght.


Eventually, the door gives away, and Eddie is able to spread the opening large enough for only a smaller size person to go through it. It would require more effort for the doors to be opened to allow him in.


Meanwhile, Cricket and Pulse find themselves in a dark corridor. While a pair of flickering torches light the stone stairs only for the first five steps or so, it is obvious that this crypt doesn't lead to some mere catacomb. At the sixth step downward, the stairs begin to shift from stone to metal, and rather than torches, dim halogen lamps light the way downward along dull metal walls. Echoing in the shadowy depths below are the fading sounds of running footsteps on the metal steps.

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"Dammit!" Edie exclaims as he realises the doors won't budge any farther. "What tha heck're these things made of?"


Seeing only one way to make a hole large enough for him to fit through, he charges his right fist. "Pulse, Cricket, keep yer heads down," he shouts through the opening as he lets loose with a charged punch against the doors.

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Pulse takes a quick glance back and then shouts, "You'd better catch up quick then," as he arcs into the halogen light fixture and speeds ahead of the fleeing man only to pop out a short distance in front of him.



"Time we all had some answers," Pulse says hands crackling with barely suppressed energy.

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