Author: Xury PM
The Vigilantes, an intergalactic jackofalltrades group who chases the Rikti invaders to Paragon City. Join the cast as they battle the many villains of Paragon City, with the many players of CoH. Chapter 10, Rough draft ready. Read Profile for Info.Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor/Adventure - Chapters: 10 - Words: 219,674 - Reviews: 8 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 03-20-07 - Published: 12-22-05 - id: 2714302
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter 10: Double Venue
"Happy Birthday to you!" Diana sang. "Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday dear Danyel! Happy Birthday to you!"
She added," Again! But this time a little more enthusiasm you guys!"
"I'll pass," said Cherry. "Go ahead Danyel, blow out the candles and make a wish."
"Humm," Danyel said rubbing his chin. "Now what do I want more then anything… Oh I know!"
He blew out the candle, and sidestepped out of the way while Kayain fell forward. Danyel used a wind spell to push him further, and landed his face in the cake.
"Well, part of my wish came true!" laughed Danyel.
"Aah!" said Kayain. "How did you know I was going to do that?!"
"You try that all the time," he said. "You're becoming predictable."
"Yup," said Diana as she went toward the kitchen. "Luckily that was a backup cake. I'll get the real one."
"Bastard," said Kayain as he ate the cake on his face.
Danyel's birthday party was a surprise cooked up by Diana. The Vigilantes were of course all there, as well as a few invited friends.
"My compliments to the Chef," said Lord Daniel.
"Esh," said Proto man with a mouth full of cake. "Sish ih uckn gooh!"
"Glad you boys like it," she said. "Everyone get their fill?"
"Yes thank you," said Eden. "But I'm afraid I must depart now."
"Aaw," said Ari. "But you just got here!"
"I know, and I'm sorry," said Eden. "But duty calls."
"Still as reclusive as always," said Cherry with a smile.
"And I must be even more so with what happened," said Eden. "But I thank you for the food and must depart."
"Thanks for at least showing up," said Cherry. "Keep in touch."
"I will," said Eden.
After Eden left, Diana said," Well I suppose it's time for presents."
"Presents!" said Proto-man. "I brought you one man!"
"Really?" said Danyel. "Is it appropriate enough that I can open it in front of everyone?"
Proto-man had to think about this for a moment. He said," I would say yes because it's just us… If my or your mother were here, I'd say no."
He laughs and says," All right, hand it here."
Danyel opens the badly wrapped box and laughs.
"Spanish fly," he said as he read the label. "Just slip her one, and she'll be hot and ready all night long."
"What's it do?" said Diana.
"Ah-ha… Honey, it's pretty much a gift for both of us."
"Oh… Well what does it do?!"
"You'll find out later. Trust me."
"Well, ok… Hey open mine next!"
"Sure," he said as he took a small package from her. "This is… A scroll?"
"Not just any scroll! A majikal spell!"
"A spell… And where did you get a spell from?"
"Oh from that nice man we met at M.A.G.I. oh so long ago."
"He's not a hawker! He's a businessman! He said so himself."
Danyel rubbed his temple.
"Diana," he said. "I really just think he sold you something he made up."
"No, no! I promise he didn't! He sold me a gen-u-ine spell! I showed it to Azuria and she said it's a spell. Honest."
"Humm," he said as he looked skeptically at the scroll. "Well you're right, it does have some magical residue on it. I suppose taking a look at it wouldn't hurt."
Danyel scanned quickly through it, and made a face.
"Yea, he said this spell summons a few magical servants to come and, oh I don't know… Do chores, fetch magic books, or get a glass of water for you…. You know, handy stuff."
"Well, I can't deny I've needed an assistant or two," he said, thoughtfully. "Ok, we'll give it a shot."
They moved an area where Danyel could cast. He chanted slightly, and raised his arms. When he did this, the floor suddenly caught fire in three different spots.
"Oh no!" said Diana. "What's going on?!"
"I don't know!" said Danyel. "It's… Hold on… Look at that!"
The three fires on the floor began to take form. The form was very monkey-like, but without a tail. The three creatures made of fire sprung to life and ran to Danyel's side.
"Oh," said Danyel as he looked at them. "They're imps!"
"They're on fire!" said Kayain.
"They're CUTE!" said Diana with a very large grin.
"Hey," said Cherry as she watched Diana pet one. "Why isn't she getting burned? And for that matter, why isn't the floor burned, or on fire?"
"It's simple really," said Danyel. "They're using magical fire. They're a little like Golems in the sense that they have a bond to the caster. Although unlike Golems, they can think and act on their own. Humm, I wonder… You three, go do the dishes."
The imps sprang into action, and ran to the kitchen. Everyone followed to see what they would do. Danyel was not disappointed.
They began to set fire, or melt every single dish, pan, and utensil they could find.
"My dishes! No!" said Diana.
"Just as I expected," said Danyel.
"Make them stop!"
Danyel snapped his fingers and the imps vanished in a flash of fire.
"To answer your other question, sis, about the reason why Diana could touch them without getting burned… What they are is living mana, personified in the form of fire. The imps remain harmless to anyone I consider an ally, because of the bond they have to the caster. Since they're using my mana, they have a sense of who is an enemy and who is an ally. I named a target, like the dishes, and they went to do the only thing they knew… set it ablaze."
"My dishes… They're melted…" sobbed Diana.
"Look around," said Danyel. "You'll notice no scorch marks anywhere, just the melted dishes… You know, I don't think that hawker knew exactly how useful this spell was. A spell like this would cost a fortune to have… How much did you get it for?"
"Fifty bucks," she said while trying to peel a melted plate off the floor.
"Very nice. In Matronia it would cost possibly three hundred or four hundred million credits. Honey you've given me a wonderful present. Thank you… Er… I'll buy you some new dishes. I promise."
The rest of the presents were fairly normal, from, trinkets, to clothes, to a bikini from Kayain (who was making fun of him from seeing him in Diana's nightgown).
Later in the day when all of the guests began leaving, Lord Daniel came to Cherry and said," So we're still good for the Charity concert and ball next week?"
"Definitely," said Cherry. "I've been looking forward to it."
"Excellent! Just be there before 9:00 am, and we kick off the festival at noon."
"We'll be there."
"Thanks, see you then!"
There was much talk and excitement over the coming charity concert. Lord Daniel had gathered only the top names in music, which attracted a large crowd. Tickets were sold out almost the same day they were sold.
Of course this brought many problems, mostly in black market tickets, and hawkers. Even the lowest of the low were able to get their hands on tickets, counterfeit or not.
One group in particular was looking for tickets, from anyone they could. This group was known as the Freakshow. The Freakshow's members are all unstable individuals in the sense that they are so supped up on drugs and toxins that in order to prove their worth, they will remove body parts and replace them with metallic weapons. Although they'd consider this cool, it was very problematical when trying to urinate or other bodily functions.
They consider themselves anarchists to the core, but like most villain groups, there is always a higharchy. But heroes just consider them very dangerous punks, metal-heads, and ravers.
The group that was looking for tickets was led by a Freakshow Tank named H311t3r Sk31t3r. But everyone just called him Helter Skelter, or Bob if they were close.
"Yo, man," said Helter. "I ain't got all day ya know. You gonna sell us tickets or what?"
"Oi!" said the hawker. "Oy can't just give these ticket fore that much! Yew should know oy paid ten tymes tha' ammoun' fore these tickets mate!"
"Look man, I don't give a crap what you paid for them. My offer is four hundred for all 5 tickets."
"Fore 'undred! Fore 'undred?! Oi, yew gotta be outta yore mind! Do yew know how much these are sellin' fore?"
"I know how much, and that's more then enough I say."
"Look, my offa stands mate. Eight 'undred fore the lot, and that's commin' wit the backstage passes mate. Gen-u-ine backstage passes fore yew and yore mates!"
Helter sighed as he said," Five hundred…"
"Six 'undred is as far as oi go. Take it or leave it."
"Fine! Six hundred!"
"Yew have yore self a deal mate! Satisfaction gua-ron-teed, or my name isn't "Hook em'"
"Yea whateva. Just hurry the hell up and bring the tickets here."
As the hawker took off, one of Helter's lieutenants approached him and said," Eh, boss? You think that we can getta hold of some bands there for our Freaklympics celebration, eh?"
"That's the plan, ma man," said Helter. "We gots to find us some good ones for the celebration, cause I'm in charge of entertainment. And I heard even the Vigilantes are going to be there!"
"No kiddin'? Daaamn man! We gotta get them! They kick so much ass man!"
"Don' even worry bout it. I gots it covered. We'll get them to play, one way or another."
After everyone left, the Vigilantes went back to what they were doing. Danyel offered a special drink to Diana, while they all sat by the television.
"You know," said Cherry. "I really need a hobby now."
"Hobby?" said Kayain. "Well you've been practicing with us on the guitar right? Isn't that enough?"
"We can only practice so much in the day. The rest of the day I have nothing… I mean think about it. If I had another hobby, I would stay sharp. I don't want to get dull and run a risk of getting captured again."
"Ok… well, what did you have in mind?"
"Humm," she said as she thought about it. "Oh, you know I should probably practice my cooking."
Diana choked on her drink, while Kayain and Regina exchanged worried looks. Lu Bu on the other hand grinned said," Oh Captain! I love your cooking! You make the best food I've ever eaten!"
"Well, thank you Lu Bu," she said pleasantly. "You see? Someone likes my food."
"Yea, but Lu Bu eats garbage," Kayain whispered to Regina.
"What was that?!" Cherry said turning menacingly to Kayain.
"Nothing! Really! Nothing at all!"
"Oh, that's it! I'm going to make us dinner tomorrow and you're going to eat it whether you like it or not!"
Regina frowned at Kayain and said," Way to go, jerk."
"Grrr, I… Man… Wait! Hey babe, I have a better idea!"
"What?" said Cherry as she crossed her arms.
"You can help us making the cartoon!"
"Really? You're asking for my help?"
"Oh yea… I know you don't want to help with our research, but you can help us make the cartoon… you know for accuracy, cause that's what you're good at, ya know?"
"Oh," she said with a smile. "Well how thoughtful of you… You're still eating my cooking though."
Kayain tried to hide the grimace as he heard this. When she looked at him, he put on a very fake smile and decided it was time to change the subject.
"Hey Tylar, I almost forgot to tell you," he said as he stood up. "By majority vote you've been put in the new position of Lead Researcher for us."
"It's about bloody time," said Tylar. "You know, at first I thought there might not be any reason to be here, but surprisingly… I've found… well we'll just say I found something interesting."
"Yes, you can call it an anomaly. While my biology knowledge isn't as good as my other subjects, I was able to find something interesting."
He sighs and wonders how he would explain something like this to a three year old.
"It's like… most of the genome consists of certain elements that define your traits… but the ones I found are most irregular, and that comes not only in genetically powered females, but magical ones as well. All thanks to the samples you gave me."
Cherry looked over to him and said," What you mean you think there is a gene in super heroines that causes huge breasts?"
"Sort of… I mean I think I might just be able to see what Kayain was talking about the whole time."
"You're absolutely sure?"
"Not absolutely, but I'd like to know," he said as he turned to give her his full attention. "As a matter of fact, I need your help.
"My help? What could I do?" she asked curiously.
"I need a test sample from tissue from the, oh let's call it, 'opposite end' of our research…"
Kayain nearly burst out laughing, and Cherry frowned at Tylar.
"Opposite end… What does that mean when you say that?"
"Err, nothing!" he said quickly. "What I simply meant was that you'd be perfect for the, uh, role I had in mind, for my research."
"I don't know about you Regina, but from what I understand he's saying Cherry has tiny breasts," said Kayain hoping she'd get angry at Tylar.
"No, no! I mean, well yes, essentially, but- That's not… KAYAIN YOU ARSEHOLE!"
Kayain began laughing loudly. Cherry turned and crossed her arms as she said," And what did you mean, pray-tell?"
"I meant… uh… oh, shit.. Don't kill me please…"
Cherry grabs him by the ear as she said," Let's have a little chat shall we?"
"First off, I'm well aware of my… condition… and secondly I will not be put on display to show off my features just for some silly cosmetic thing."
"Well, I wouldn't need to see your… features. I would just need a hair sample or even a tissue sample… quite simple really."
"Uh-hua… that's it is it?"
Cherry thinks about this for a moment. She looked back at him and said," No photos?"
"None. You'd be completely anonymous."
She let go of Tylar and said," Fine. I'll give you something, but after this, no more bothering me about it at all, got it? Tylar? Kayain?"
"Freaking sweet!" said Kayain.
"So, Questy," said Eva. "What do you think? Could you get us in on the charity ball?"
"I recon so," said Quest. "I could call in a favor from one of the high officials we rescued from those Circle of Thorns. Heck, you probably could get us in as well."
"You think so?" she said as she smiled at him.
"Well, you've been pretty popular in those modeling agencies… And your eagerness to flaunt has been noticed. I'd say you could get in with a group of higher ups in fashion."
"But I doubt Adagio's ability to get us in… D.A.T.A. probably isn't high-society enough."
"Ha," said Adagio. "I'll have you know section 8 is very prestigious in D.A.T.A. I wouldn't be surprised if they begged us to come."
Eva and Quest exchanged looks. Eva said," Oh I sure would."
At this moment, Remington came in. He looked around and said," The city is always in trouble."
"Isn't it?" said Quest. "Over these past few weeks we've had to deal with robberies, arson, kidnapping, and the occasional crazed druggie. I guess it's just the villains here are more at ease since they can stand up to super-powered heroes."
"Yes, it would seem that way," said Remington. "I found something odd on a villain who had his limbs cut off and replaced with metal pieces."
"Freakshow," said Quest as he took the paper from Remington. "Read about it on Heronet… Hello… What do we have here now?"
Considering most of the Freakshow members have no thumbs, fingers or even hands, the fact that this note was even written was a miracle. And it was written like a 3 year old, which was still a miracle in Quest's mind.
It read: yo, ths si yur oportu oppor opert chans 2 bekom populr wit da freakz! Teh 3rd anu annuu time 4 da freaklympics!! Get yur teams 2gather and get rdy 4 a ful day of kaos and dest destr karnige. Ledrs well get mor info latar.
When they finished, Quest folded his arms and said," Humm… I don't like the looks of this."
"I know!" said Adagio. "I mean the grammar's horrible, spelling is abysmal, and who uses the number 4 instead the word 'for'?! What are we in kindergarten?!"
"Not that! I mean the message it's saying," he said as he paced in thought. "Freaklympics… Chaos and carnage… Well whatever this is, it doesn't sound good for the city… All right you guys, if you encounter any more of these Freakshow, remember to question them about the Freaklympics."
"Uh-hua," said Eva. "And since when have you cared so much about this city?"
"Since we need to keep up our good reputation," said Quest. "Remy, good job. I'll see that this gets investigated first thing."
Cherry looked and corrected much of Kayain's script for the past five hours.
"Kayain," she said. "Don't you think you went a little overboard on the shower scenes here?"
"Ah-ha ha ha," he laughed. "Maybe…"
"Humm," she said as she crossed out a few things in the script. "Don't need it here, or here… No, not here either."
"How else are we going to keep the audience's attention?!"
"Duh," said Cherry sarcastically. "Storyline dummy."
"Oh… you mean we're going to have one?"
Cherry rolled her eyes and Regina said," I'm with Cherry on this one."
"We've already got the whole nudie transformation sequences, shower scenes will be passé, compared to that."
"Yea but… we need some!"
"You're right," Cherry said as she tapped the pencil on the desk. "Oh, I know! Change the shower area to a locker room style and have all the girls shower at the same time… splashing water, playing, and comparing breast size."
Kayain, Regina, and Diana all stared at her in surprise.
"Uh," said Kayain. "Hi, I'm Kayain, who the hell are you?"
"I'm serious Kayain," said Cherry. "Because I understand the target audience, and as much as I hate to admit it, this is what they crave. Trust me, this will sell."
"Whoa," said Kayain as he scratched his head. "I don't believe I'm hearing this from Cherry of all people."
"Do you want this stuff to sell, or get passed on to the dollar store?"
"Right," said Kayain. "We'll, uh, make those changes."
"Next thing," said Cherry. "We need to make symbols for our transformation items of power. What would be on these symbols do you think?"
"I'd say we should go with familiar symbols here on this planet," said Regina.
"Great," said Cherry. "I've read up on a lot of animals lately. Any suggestions?"
"How about an Eagle?" said Kayain.
"Na, I've read about Eagles," said Cherry. "Eagles aren't that great. They're nearly extinct. Why would you use an Eagle as your symbol if they're almost all gone? Almost gives the impression that you're not that hard to take down, you know?"
"Dragons!" said Diana.
"No, no, no," said Cherry as she frowned. "I hate Dragons. I've been eaten by one, and it wasn't nice. It was just lucky I had my psi blade at the time. No, Dragons. Besides, dragons are very cliché, and way overused. I mean you'd be promoting those losers who spends all day at the arcade wearing dragons on their shirt… You put dragons on these symbols and we tell people we're generic like every other anime out there."
"Ok, ok, I get the picture," said Diana. "No dragons, sheesh."
"Wolfs?" asked Regina.
"No wolfs either. Wolfs in my opinion are the redneck versions of dogs. They're often confused for being free spirited and wild. Bah, we know better. They're followers, and will beg and wine like a dog does to the pack leader. They can't be trained like dogs, not because they're free-spirited, but because they're stupid. You may as well put a sheep on the symbol because I don't want a wolf."
"A simple no would have been good," said Regina.
"How about a lion?" said Kayain.
"Lions? No lions. They're far from majestic. It's the females who do all the work while the males do what they do best… Pose dramatically fool people into thinking they look majestic. You put a lion on the items and you're basically saying,' my woman does all the work while I loaf around'… Although this would probably work in Kayain's case."
"Hey! That's… That's not right…" said Kayain.
"Ok," said Regina. "You've shot down all the supposed majestic creatures… What else do we have?"
"Unicorns!" said Diana.
"NO!" said Kayain, Cherry, and Regina.
"Look," said Cherry. "Let's just find some animals on the internet that naturally inhabit this planet."
It took another few hours, but everyone came back with suggestions.
"What do we have?" asked Cherry.
"A duck," said Regina. "They are mean when they need to be, and always fly in a nice formation. And unlike Eagles, they're not endangered at all."
"I suppose… You want a duck as your symbol?"
"Fine, you're the duck. Diana, what do you have?"
"I found only the most majestic, and perfect creature in existence!" said Diana excitedly.
"And that is?"
"What the heck is a platypus?"
"It's a mean creature with fur like a mammal, a duck bill and webbed feet, so it's perfect for swimming, and it's got fur that keeps it warm in the cold… and best of all it's got elbow poison!"
"Elbow poison! Just get a little stab from the elbow, and even if you're lucky, you only die."
"Uh… I'd hate to see what happens if you're unlucky. But whatever. Fine, you're the Platypus… Kayain?"
Kayain was still on the computer with a very strange face.
"Kayain? What's wrong."
Upon closer look he was trying to hold back laughing very hard.
"Kayain… what's so funny?"
"I…" he managed to say before letting everything out. "KnowwhatanimalIwant."
"Slow down, what are you saying?"
"Just come see."
Cherry went over to the computer and read what animal he was looking at.
"Oh, my. It's actually named this?"
"The Sperm Whale?"
Diana and Regina burst out laughing, but quickly turned it into coughs.
"Is there anything in particular you find interesting about this? Oh brother, why am I asking that?"
Kayain finally began to laugh hysterically.
"No you may not be the Sperm Whale."
"SHE SAID IT AGAIN!" laughed Kayain. "SPERM WHALE!"
"It's not that funny… Well ok, maybe a little, but come on now."
The whole session went late into the night. What was finally decided for symbols was a Duck, Platypus, Octopus, Camel, Giraffe, and a Tree Frog.
"I'd have to say these are the most original symbols I've seen," said Cherry.
"I still think we should have gone with Dragons, wolves, and Lions," said Regina.
"Bah, I'm starting to like these much more," said Kayain.
"Sperm Whale," said Regina.
Kayain once again fell over in a fit of laughter.
It was the evening before the Concert, and the Vigilantes had an all day practice session. The ladies were getting dresses ready for the Ball after.
"Which one do you like more?" asked Regina as she showed two dresses.
"The red one has a stain," said Cherry.
"Crud… oh well."
Diana comes out of the bathroom with her breasts fully exposed.
"Regina, your dress is revealing!" she said.
Cherry slapped her forehead and said," Because it's backwards!"
"Oh… I thought it was shaped funny."
She sighs and says," Well at least you look very nice Ami."
"Thank you," said Ami.
"Danyel told me that you're going with someone," she said slyly. "Who are you going with?"
"Oh," she said as she turned bright red. "I was asked by Lord Daniel… I wouldn't have been going otherwise."
"LD? Really?" said Cherry curiously. "Huh… That's odd. Regina, you said you were going with someone too… I thought you were going with Lord Daniel."
Regina stops and says," Well, uh… I wasn't going to say till later but… Kayain."
"Oh," she said as she clenched her fists and gritted her teeth. "How… nice."
"Now wait a minute! Don't think of it that way! I'm only doing this because we both represent the CFTCB Foundation… And there's no way in hell I'm going with Proto or Talley… And he, uh, said you should go with Tylar, because he'd look sad, alone and dateless."
Even though she was very upset, she actually did consider this a moment.
"Go with Tylar?"
"Yea, that's what he said. He may not show it, but he does feel sorry for the guy sometimes. Just brotherly affection."
"All right…" she said grudgingly. "I suppose I'll ask him since this really does make him dateless."
"A date?" said Diana from the bathroom. "You're going to date Tylar?"
"You know what I mean."
Cherry sighs and says," I suppose it won't be that bad."
Everyone stares at her for a moment, and she frowns.
"Ok," she said. "Regina, you help him find something to wear. I don't want him to show up in suspenders and wearing a bowtie… again."
"Will do sis."
At that moment, there was a knock at the door followed by Tylar's voice," Excuse me ladies, are you decent?"
"Yes," said Cherry. "Come in."
Tylar slowly opens the door and takes a peek inside. He pushes it open after he finds them fully dressed.
"My word, you all look lovely!"
"Why thank you," said Regina.
"Er, Captain," he said rending slightly. "You look radiant."
"Thank you Tylar."
"May, I, uh… may I have a word?"
Regina grinned and said," Going to take her all to yourself? Tell her she looks pretty while you're both all alone?"
"Shut up," said both Tylar and Cherry.
"Yes Tylar," said Cherry. "I had something I wanted to discuss with you as well."
The two of them went into Tylar's lab, and Tylar sat nervously on a chair across from Cherry.
"I say," he said. "This is rather embarrassing. I needed to ask you something important."
Tylar's thoughts were as loud as jackhammers, and she gave him a pitying look. She already knew what she had to tell him.
"I was… you know, going to, uh, ask, uh… oh darn… Oh going to… you know… ask… Ami to the ball and-"
"Tylar," said Cherry.
"I'm afraid I have some bad news. You're too late."
"What?! Too late, what do you mean?"
"She's already been asked to the ball by Lord Daniel. Apparently he's taken a liking to her as well."
"I thought he liked Regina?"
"She's taken as well," she said bitterly.
"By who?! Certainly not Proto, or-"
The dangerous look on her face told Tylar not to inquire further about that.
"So… that just leaves…"
"Me," said Cherry. "And I wanted to know if you'd come with me."
"You and I? On a date?"
She crosses her arms as she said," Is that what you think this is? A date? Tylar, this is a social event, not exactly a trip to the movies. I'd be going as your partner… dance partner."
"Oh, I see. Just a friendly social event… Well, can I at least get a dance with-"
"Oh, jolly good. Well I'd love to go with you then. I might've looked like some sad fellow, all alone and dateless."
"Same goes with me," said Cherry as she looks down. "So we'll go together so we don't look like losers, ok?"
The next morning, everyone was busy getting their things ready for the concert. Cherry took charge and arbitrated everything.
"Be very careful with that," she said to Lu Bu as he carried two huge boxes. "That's Tylar's equipment. He's got our sound board and lights equipment in there."
She turned to Biggs and said," Now remember, you're in charge of all the paperwork and contracts."
"Righ' ye are cap'n," he said with a salute. "I'll also be needin' me negotiatin' tool; Lu Bu."
"He's all yours," she said.
She turned to see Kayain holding his guitar and said," Ugh, you're not taking that are you?"
"Duh, I need a guitar."
"No, that nasty toy on the guitar."
Cherry was looking at the little teddy bear hanging on a keychain off his guitar.
"It's my good luck charm, my beloved Mr. Cuddles."
The thing was an amazing piece of work. It was nearly as old as Kayain was and it wasn't restored at all. Cherry thought it should probably be wrapped up in a biohazard bag and chucked out into space.
"Have you even washed it?"
"Na. It might fall apart."
"Oh, what a disaster that would be… Just do me a favor and wash your hands after handling it."
Tylar came by and said," Have you got all my equipment?"
"Sure have," said Cherry. "With your help, we will give them a show like back home."
"Hell yea!" said Kayain. "We'll give em a show so good, even the kids gotta smoke a cigarette when we're done."
"My sentiments exactly," said Cherry.
"Well I wouldn't use those exact words," Tylar chuckled. "But it will be a damn good show if I do say so myself."
Cherry smiled and called everyone over.
"Ladies and gents, once again we are called to duty. Our mission is to blow people's minds with our music-"
"Beggin' yer pardon cap'n," said Biggs. "But would it be too much ter ask ifn' we can start this day wit a prayah?"
"Of course," she said. "But I'll start… O' eternal Creator, we ask that you give us the strength to destroy eardrums, and make them bleed in joy."
"Aye," continued Biggs. "O' Lord, give us the strength ter cut down the competition. If it be your will, then compared ter us, the other bands shall sound like dog shite… Give him praise and glory."
"And if it's not too much to ask Lord," continued Kayain. "Please let us find many women taking their tops off and throwing panties on stage."
"Halleluiah," said DeVall.
"Amen," said everyone else.
"Well, that was pleasant," said Danyel. "We ready to rock?"
Cherry nodded and said," Let's rock."
Lord Daniel finished his chat with Ian Albright, one of the biggest names in music management. Ian was the most looked to and sought after manager in several countries. But he had a fondness for Paragon City, in the fact that there was talent just around any corner.
His only problem as of late was that people had talent, but nothing spectacular. Life had become very dull and dry, and he just wasn't listening to the music anymore. No one had the same talent as oh so long ago when he was younger. It was the whole reason he got into the business.
"So," said Ian. "What are these new guys called?"
"Ah, I had a chat with them a while ago, they're sticking with the name, The Vigilantes
"Daniel my man… I told you I already booked "The Vigilantes". We can't have two people with the same name! My man, you need to talk to these guys again and tell them to change their name because we already have The Vigilantes. Hell, I had to pull a lot of strings to get them here, my man. Like pop stars they are! People might get upset at this."
Lord Daniel put his hands together and said," I know, I know… But I have this strange feeling about these new guys. I think… I really think that they really are The Vigilantes."
Ian gave him a calculating look. He said," Bah. No one knows where that music came from. We have icons now, and that's all there is to it. I mean come on my man, if these people were the original creators, there's no way they could prove it."
"I'm just saying that it's a possibility. If they are the creators of the music, then we might have a law suit on hands."
"Let them try," Ian said with a smile. "They've never dealt with the likes of Ian Albright before."
"I'll talk to them again," said Lord Daniel. "I doubt they'll change their minds. They're all very stubborn."
"Make sure you do, my man," he said as his cell phone rang. "Having to avoid an incident altogether is much easier, ya dig?"
"Yea I will… Oh, here they come now!"
Cherry came toting her guitar in it's case. She shook Lord Daniel's hand and said," We're just now getting our stuff set up… So, we're on first?"
"Yea," said Lord Daniel. "That's just how it was set up."
"So who's the main event?"
"Uh… Remember our conversation? The Vigilantes are."
"I see… Where are these so called Vigilantes then?"
"They're just getting here, I'm told. I think they're heading for the back area. That has a lot of refreshments."
"Well then," said Cherry with a smile. "I'll just have to go and say hi now won't I?"
"Please Cherry," said Lord Daniel as he put his hands together. "Please change your name just this once. We might just start an incident here that no one wants."
"Oh, contraire. I do indeed want an incident. From the moment Kayain told me that our music was here in this world, and someone else was pretending to play it… Well, I'm here to collect."
"I was afraid you'd say that."
"I tell you what," said Cherry with a pleasant smile. "We'll go up as a no-name band, for the time being, then we'll introduce ourselves. And as far as you not getting in trouble, I'll say I mind controlled you."
"I could really do it if you want."
"No, that's ok. Just whatever you're planning, I don't want any part of it, ok?"
"And whatever you do, don't destroy my concert completely, please!"
"Never planned on it. But I can guarantee you some damn good fireworks in the meantime."
In the meantime, Tylar was already getting the equipment set up on stage.
"Oi," said the stage lead as Tylar threw down six large blocks. "Was all this then?"
"No need to worry gents," said Tylar. "My stage hands have this covered. Please just stand clear."
The cubes instantly transformed into Tylar's cleaning/battle bots.
"You can't bring those 'ere! They'll ruin the stage!"
"Just watch my good man," said Tylar as he pressed a few buttons on his wristwatch.
Instantly the bots sprung into action, and began to set up the stage equipment as the stage workers all ran out of the way.
"Jenkins," said Tylar to the largest bot. "Let's run a checklist, shall we?"
"Indeed sir," said the robot in a snooty, yet synthesized, British accent. "One Titantron, five camera drones, particle generator, pyrotechnic generator, light and laser spectrum set, audio speakers, instruments, all plug in devices, background and border decorative, and everything is remotely set to your default settings."
"Thank you Jenkins," said Tylar as he looked to the stage lead. "I hope this won't be a problem that we brought a few things now will it?"
"Eh… Not that I see really… Just make sure you clear this lot off once you're done 'eh?"
"Not a problem at all. Tell your boys to take a break for this one, I've got it covered."
"Oi, boys! Clear off for this one! This bloke's got his robots to do the work."
The men weren't about to object. There was way to many bands going on, and it was going to be busy all day.
"Is there anythin' else you'll be needin'?" he asked.
"No, that's it, thank you," said Tylar politely. "Jenkins, by the look of this area, use the same settings in setup as concert X-4913B."
"It shall be done sir," said the robot.
The stage lead walked off smiling to himself. All the equipment they brought was very fancy and high-tech looking. It was something that a lot of high paying bands use for a truly spectacular concert. He would know, because he's been to them all of his life.
In his mind, the only group that would top this is The Vigilantes.
"What fresh hell is this?" said Cherry.
"This is kind of freaking me out here," said Kayain.
"I'm very intrigued in a creepy kind of way," said Danyel as he wiped his glasses.
"This is just… Well I don't know what… Evil?" said Diana.
"Anyone ever watch that late night show, The Twilight Zone? Yea, this is it," said Regina.
The five of them went in to the area where the bands were gathered for some refreshments and relaxing before the show. Through many of the bands and managers, the other Vigilantes were not hard to find.
There was a tall, thin, blond guy with spiky hair. Next to him was a shorter girl, with bobbed black hair and red bangs in the front. They also noted her two colored eyes, one green, one silver. Opposite them was a tall brunette woman, in the arms of a man with glasses, and unruly black hair. Staring back at them was a very attractive red-head, with tan skin.
"Whoa," said the blonde man to Kayain. "Dig that outfit dude. Like, totally kickin' dude."
"Uh," said Kayain. "Thanks… Dude…"
"Name's Kayain," he said. "We're the Vigilantes, what band are you guys?"
"Name's Kayain," said Kayain. "We're the Vigilantes."
The other group laughed at this.
"Word, yo," said the other Kayain.
"They're probably a bit nervous," said the other Cherry. "Is this your first time? I haven't seen you guys around before."
"No," said Cherry. "We've played plenty of times… We're foreign."
"Oh! What country do you guys hail from?"
"Like, where's that?" said the other Diana. "That sounds, like, totally exotic."
"Very, very far away," said Diana. "Light-years in fact."
"Oh, so it's in Europe or something?" said the other Regina.
"Well I gotta say," said the other Danyel. "You guys sure speak English well for being from Europe."
"English?" said Cherry. "Is that what you call it? We just call it Galactic Standard."
Again the look-alikes laughed.
"Heh, you guys are funny," said the other Diana.
"Sure," said Regina. "Hey we gotta go now."
"Word, yo," said the other Kayain as he made some kind of sign with his fingers. "Yo, good meeting you guys, maybe we'll come check out your performance. When do you go on?"
"First," said Danyel.
"Excellent," said the other Danyel. "You guys got the important job of gettin' the crowd all fired up, ya know?"
"Most righteous," said the other Regina. "Don't forget to come back here once you're done. We'll party it up."
"Most excellently," said the other Danyel.
"Yea," said Regina. "All right, you guys take care now… You know, uh, kick it, and whatnot, most excellently, like totally, yo…"
"Word," said Kayain.
The five of them walked away in stunned silence.
"I… Couldn't say anything. It was way to weird," said Danyel.
"Nor I," said Cherry. "Talk about awkward."
"Word, yo," laughed Kayain. "Word! Ha! Oh man, that's funny."
"Kayain, please stop saying that," said Cherry.
"Gosh, I don't know what came over me," said Diana.
"Like totally," teased Kayain.
"Hey, speaking of awkward," said Regina as she made a strange face. "Don't look now but-"
"Geeze, I say don't look and you go and do it," said Regina.
The other Kayain and other Cherry were both in the chair making out as if there were no tomorrow. The real Kayain and Cherry both stared in horror.
Danyel laughed out loud and said," Hey, look at that! Getting any ideas you two?"
"Shut up Danyel!" said Kayain and Cherry at the same time.
"Oh, man," laughed Regina. "Hey you two, you're not going to let them show off like that are you? Come on, show them how it's really done."
"Shut up Regina!" they said again.
They finally turned away, and Kayain said," Naw… That 'ain't right… That's just… Naw…"
"Yea I know!" said Cherry. "I mean, that's just… Crazy. I would never… You would never… We couldn't…"
"Oh my! Are you two blushing?" said Diana with a large grin.
"No!" they both said.
"I don't know," said Regina. "I think they kind of like it…"
"No we don't!" they said.
"You see that? They even think the same thing. They're definitely synchronized lovers."
"SHUT UP DANYEL!" they said once again in unison.
"Alright, alright," said Regina. "We'll lay off… But I'm going to remember this forever."
"Can we let this drop now?!" said Cherry as she hurried to the exit.
"Of course," said Danyel.
"No more mentioning it, got that?"
"Not a single thing!"
"So wipe that smirk off your face!"
"Can't," he said as he tried to stop laughing. "I think it's stuck."
Cherry storms off with her fists clenched. Kayain seems to be glued to the spot.
"Well, uh, this was interesting, hua guys? Hey I'm going to go check out, you know, the stage and stuff…"
"You sure you're not going to the back to go make out with Cherry?" said Diana. "Oh high five, I'm so clever!"
Kayain grimaces and walks out.
"I have to admit, that's a pretty scary sight," said Danyel. "Kayain and Cherry… Making out like bandits."
"Hell would need to turn up their thermostat," said Regina.
"It's getting packed out there," said DeVall as he peeked out the curtains to see the stage.
"Awesome!" said Diana. "Hey little bro, you got all the stuff setup?"
"Indubitably," said Tylar. "I've even taken the liberty to set up the night-generator since it's only mid-day here."
"Oh, neat!" said Diana.
Tylar's very own simulated darkness effect was popular for concerts during the day. It made the area black out as if it were true nighttime.
"Good job Tylar," said Cherry. "Here comes Lord Daniel. He'll be introducing us. You guys all ready to rock?"
"Hell yea!" said Kayain. "I was born ready, you know that."
"Ready to kick some ass," said Danyel.
"Let's go have some fun!" said Diana.
"Sperm Whale," said Regina, making Kayain topple over laughing.
"Regina! That's enough already!" said Cherry.
"I thought it was funny."
"Shh, he's talking," said Danyel.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," said Lord Daniel on stage. "It is my esteemed honor to welcome you all to the 5th annual Paragon Charity Concert-"
"Bah," said Kayain. "Who cares about that, just introduce us already!"
"Kayain hush!" said Cherry.
"First they make out, now they're fighting again," said Diana quietly.
"What did you say?!" demanded Cherry.
"Nothing! Nothing at all!" said Diana with a grin.
"-And so let the festivities begin!" said Lord Daniel. "For your entertainment, let me introduce the opening act of today's concert. Please put your hands together for-" he hesitated as he thought of something to say. "The foreign band 'The Vigilantes'."
There was a mild cheering from the crowd. No one had ever heard of a foreign band also named the Vigilantes.
"That's our cue!" said Cherry.
When they went on stage, some people looked curiously at them. Not only did they have the same name, but they actually looked like their idols.
Kayain immediately took the mic and said," Thank you Dan, and thank you Paragon City! For those of you who don't know who we are… Well I can tell you that we are The one and only Vigilantes!"
"The one and only?" said Lord Daniel. "What does that mean?"
"Well Dan, oh so long ago we made our albums such as Quasar, Hiatus, Velocity, and Entropy. We spread our music far and wide throughout the galaxy, even the reaches of Paragon City!"
Some people stared at them as if he was crazy, some were intreagued.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," said Lord Daniel. "It's a known fact that these guys are not from this world, like many of the heroes today aren't."
"You got that damn right! We are the Vigilantes! And this is our music! And tonight… We will prove it. We will prove that the other people you've been listening to, are complete phonies. We will blow your minds, and rock crotches! Tonight will be a night of asskicking!"
"This is news to me!" said Lord Daniel in mock surprise. "Ladies and Gentlemen, could this be true? Could it be that the Vigilantes you've seen before are imposters? Could it be that these people you see before you are the real makers of the music? Tonight, you will be the judge!"
"That's right folks," said Kayain. "We are calling them out! There can only be one, and it will be us!"
"So without further ado," said Lord Daniel. "Show us what you got Vigilantes!"
Daniel stepped off stage, and Kayain said," What's all this now? I wanna hear some noise!"
The audience did not respond. Kayain shook his head and said," People… I seem to have gone deaf! I can't hear a ga-damn thing! I said, make some FREAKING NOISE!"
Kayain and Cherry let out a chord from their guitars. The chord struck, and rang out across the fields, silencing the masses. It was a hauntingly beautiful note, and most of them here would not soon forget it. The simple chord was enough to keep everyone's eyes forward.
The chord signaled for the special effects. The entire area went dark as if it were night, and became starry. All around them was the depths of outer space. The effects made the audience believe they were actually out there, traveling.
The chord stopped, and the audience cheered.
"That's more like it!" said Kayain. "We are the Vigilantes!"
"Whoa…" said a band member who was right behind the stage. "Look at that!"
"Dude!" said the second band member. "These guys are good!"
"Yea," said a third member. "Check out those effects! Talk about surreal! Haven't seen things like that since we played back in College!"
"Hey man," said the second. "We've never had effects like that. You were just on drugs a lot."
"I'm clean now…"
"Yea, yea… Say… who's that guitar chick?" asked the first.
"I don't know," said the third. "But she's… beautiful…"
"Dude!" said the third. "Aren't you married?"
"I am but… You know… she said she's open minded…"
Cherry struck a high note, which made him say," I'M SINGLE!"
This was a common symptom of listening to The Vigilante's music. Everyone who ever heard them live would say they are even better live then on disc. No one could ever figure out why.
The truth of it was, Cherry and the rest of the crew played music so often, they took it to epic proportions. They weren't just playing music anymore, they were creating 'the music'. The music had a life of it's own, and effected everyone differently.
When Cherry played the music, she pours everything she has into it. Her heart, and soul go into it, which also means her powers do.
The effect of Cherry's power creates a sort of hypnotic effect that keeps people wanting more. The effect makes people feel the love she has for the music. For the men, she's inadvertently make them love her back in the same way. The men would give her more attention then even Regina or Diana. The women however would feel the love for the music, and the music in turn would bring out their wild side.
"Oh no!" said their manager. "This has got to stop!"
"Why boss?" said the third.
"Ian Albright is why! He happens to be a close friend of mine! If these upstarts keep telling people about the Vigilantes, Ian's reputation is ruined!"
"Tell the people about what?"
"I thought I told you already! No one knows the real creators of those songs are, so Ian gave the rights to the singers in the back!"
"Oh yea, now I remember! And boss?"
"If you're so concerned, then why's your foot tapping?"
The manager looks down and hastily stomps on his foot. "Just a reflex… heh."
"I don't know boss," said the first. "Stopping the music doesn't seem right. We might get my littl' honey there mad."
"She's not yours! She's mine!" said the second.
"Like hell! She'd never go for you! She wants a single guy like me!" said the third.
"Stop it! Stop it! You boys are acting like a bunch of children! Help me find Ian!" he said as they split up.
"Besides," he said quietly. "She's mine."
"I say," said Ami. "I'm glad I decided to come. And thank you again for inviting me, Lord Daniel."
"It's just wonderful to get out of the lab every once and a while."
"It can get dreadfully dull and-"
"Are you listening to me?"
"What is your name?"
"Yea… I should have asked Cherry out to the ball…"
"Yea- Er, what? Uh-oh… I-I don't know what came over me!"
Ami was about to tell him off, instead said," Oh my! I completely forgot! You need these special earplugs like I'm wearing to block out the secondary effects."
She handed the earplugs to him, and he said," What was going on there?"
"It's hard to explain, but if you hear their music, it has an effect on you… you weren't aware of what you were doing."
"Oh! Uh, yea! Wasn't… aware."
The reality was that he was fully aware, and seriously meant it.
"This is kind of weird though," he continued. "Is it harmful?"
"Depends. Did you feel any urges just now?"
"Yea, I felt an urge to take a stage dive… That hasn't happened since high school."
"Well it brings out the concert-going side of you. It's harmful in the sense that if you might feel the urge to stage dive, mosh-pit, or headbang… if you consider that harmful."
"Oh… how come it doesn't effect them?" he asked as he pointed to the rest of the Vigilantes.
"It does," said Biggs. "But we jus' don' care."
"I miss my winky," said Lu Bu. "The music is the closest thing to getting laid I'll ever have."
"We live for the concerts," said DeVall. "We've been to so many we can resist the effects… however we choose not to for obvious reasons."
"Aye," he said looking back. "Cap'ns pretty good… makes me wish I were a few feet taller, ifn' ya catch me drift… heh, heh."
"Yes," said DeVall. "Cherry's definitely… Good."
"Ah," said Solo. "You pervert, I see you undressing her with your eyes."
"You were earlier."
"That's not the point!"
"Ugh," said Adagio as the Ages Sect entered the concert. "They've started already. We're late on pelting them."
"The witch has her spell on everyone already," said Eva. "Don't say anything bad about them yet, or there will be murder."
"Yea," said Quest with a strange grin.
"Questy?" said Eva. "Is something wrong?"
"Humm? Oh, no, nothing at all."
Eva eyed him suspiciously, and realized he wasn't wearing the earplugs.
"What are you doing?! You're not wearing the earplugs!"
"Don't worry about it! I'm pretty much immune to the effects."
"You can't be! The effects can only be stopped by mind barriers, which I have not taught any of you."
"You get used to it after a while… really."
"Well I'm saying you can't! It's just not- HEY!"
Quest began to blush slightly, as he instantly figured out what Eva was getting upset about. Being the psion of the team, she can also pick up thoughts easily.
"I saw that! You were imagining what sex with Cherry would be like!"
"Yea… I…" he said as he tried to recompose himself. "Temporary laps of judgment and… well… I'll get my earplugs…"
"I don't care if it's bad traffic," said Ian Albright on his cell phone. "My man, If you don't get here soon, you're off the list… Uh-hua… I realize that heroes fighting in the streets can hold up traffic, but even then, knowing that you still didn't take the necessary preparations to get here early? You had enough time… Oh I really don't care how hung over the driver is. SOMEONE can drive a bus can't they?"
Ian looked up to see a voluptuous blonde woman pull up in a red Ferrari. He stepped out of the doorway and into the back area.
"Just get here as soon as you can," he continued. "If anything we can compromise and schedule you for later… I know… Look, I have to run. Ciao."
The woman waited patiently next to him as he hung up. He smiled and embraced her.
"What kept you?" he asked.
"Same as usual," she said. "Heroes fighting in the streets."
"Gotta love this town."
"Oh I sure do. Has my stuff arrived?"
"Yes it has, and you'll be going on after the 3rd band."
"Hey boss," they heard someone call from inside. "Boss! Oh, hello Miss Jane."
"Hi yourself Greg," said Jane.
"Boss," continued Greg. "Got a question for you."
"Shoot, my man."
"Have you ever been to a concert where the opening act completely blew everyone away? I mean to the point where everything else is crap in comparison?"
"Very few times… Greg? Are you trying to say what I think you're saying?"
"Yea boss, these new guys are dominating. I think you'd better see this… They've also claimed to be the 'real' Vigilantes."
"It's them? Oh man. This is not happening today…"
"Come on boss, I'll show you."
Proto-man nearly collided with Lu Bu as he ran as fast as he could to catch up.
"Sorry I'm late. Was fighting a few baddies in the street," he said before he caught a glimpse of the stage. "WHOA! But, what did I miss?!"
"Take a look fer yerself," said Biggs.
"Holy crap! Look at all those bras and panties!"
"Even better," said DeVall. "They're all going nuts out there. Take a look."
Even though it was a family oriented concert, the children and adults were going as wild as a metal concert. Besides the undergarments thrown on stage, there was people in professional business attire, taking jumps off stage, children running around painted, completely naked, and mosh-pitting, as well as some very awkward slam dancing from women who are usually soccer-moms.
"I missed a lot!" said Proto excitedly. "And… and… oh the music… Oh…"
"You like it eh?" said DeVall.
"Holy crap! It's like an orgy in my head!"
"My sentiments exactly."
"Oh man," said Proto as he stared at Cherry. "If she can do this while playing music… Imagine how she is in the sack!"
"Proto!" said Ami. "Don't say things like that!"
"I LOVE CHERRY!" he yelled out. "I WANT TO HAVE HER BABIES!"
"Ugh! You're disgusting! I give up…"
"Excuse me, coming through!" they heard someone say from behind.
Ami immediately assumed this person was a manager when she looked at him. The ponytail was a dead giveaway.
"Make way!" he repeated.
At this point, the Vigilantes all turned to face him. Lu Bu said," This is our spot. You can't have it. Go to the other side."
Ian wasn't about to upset the gigantic Orc in front of him, especially not when he had a huge axe in tow.
"Look," he said. "I'm Ian Albright. This has got to stop! They're ruining the show!"
"Don' look like it ter me," said Biggs. "Ian Albrigh' ya say? Are ye the manager fer the supposed Vigilantes?"
"I am! And who are you?"
"Heh, I'm the manager fer the real Vigilantes. An' it seems we have some business ter discuss."
"We don't have any business to discuss! We- Jane! What are you doing?!"
Miss Jane was lifting her shirt off, and stopped before she lifted too high.
"I'm sorry," she said while shaking her head. "I don't know what came over me! I haven't done anything like that since high school…"
"Well stop it! This isn't- Oh not you too!"
The look-alikes were headbanging and some were playing the air-guitar.
"Hey man," said the look-alike Kayain. "This is our music!"
"And it's better then how we play it!" said the look-alike Cherry.
"Like totally!" said the look-alike Diana. "It's like, 10 times better!"
"Shut up will you?!" said Ian. "Who's controlling the effects?! I went to the stage heads and they said they weren't powering this at all?"
"Ah, tha' would be our own stage hand," said Biggs. "Tylar over there. Ya have ter talk to 'em ifn ya want the effects off… Ye'd be a brave soul though, considerin…"
Ian regarded the man Biggs pointed to. He was in the middle of a big pack of robots, each equipped with some gun or another.
"Ah… No. No, I think I'll put a stop to this myself-"
"Ian hon," said Miss Jane. "Your foot's been taping non-stop since we got here."
"Has it? Oh. Well… More a reason to make it stop."
"This is me last warnin'," said Biggs. "Don' step out there unless ya really want ter look a fool."
"Out of my way!"
After he left with the look-alikes in tow, Biggs looked around and said," Everyone see me try an' stop 'em? Yea? Good. Not me fault ifn he gets killed."
No one in the audience had ever experienced anything like this before. The music filled them with so much emotion, they felt they could do anything. People who were usually shy and introverted wanted to sing along at the top of their lungs. People who were the opposite felt a joy inside as if it were Christmas every day.
They didn't want the music to go away. It would mean that everyone would have to go back to being the way they were before. And no one wanted that, because it seemed so boring in comparison.
But suddenly and abruptly, the music stopped. The wonderful feelings were gone, and everything along with it. The people wanted to know why it stopped.
On stage was a man along with a few other people, cutting off the music. There was now going to be hell to pay for this.
"Stop this right now!" said Ian. "This is our music! You people cannot take that away from us!"
The audience grew angry and began pelting Ian with whatever they could find.
"No! Wait! These are the Vigilantes! Here!" he said while trying to fend off the incoming trash.
"Don't get us involved in this!" said the look-alike Kayain also ducking the objects.
"Tell them!" said Ian as he handed the mic to the look-alike Kayain. "Tell them you're the real deal!"
"Yes," said Kayain as he stared into the eyes of his look-alike. "Go ahead and tell them you're me. I dare you."
The look alike buckled under his stare and handed the mic to the look-alike Danyel.
"I'm not gonna do that! You do that!" he said as he handed it to the look-alike Cherry.
"No! No! I'm not going to! You do it!" she said as she thrust it at the look-alike Diana.
"I… I… I… I DON'T KNOW ANYMORE!" she said. Between the pressure of the audience who looked murderous and the other group staring them down, she fell to her knees and said," It's all a LIE! We're lip-synching! It's a sham! We aren't very good at playing music!"
"DIANA!" yelled Ian. "Shut up! You're going to-"
At this point he couldn't even hear his own voice over the roar of boos that followed.
"You people!" he tried to say as he held out his arms. "You've got to believe me! We only want-"
But it was too late. The audience stormed the stage and grabbed him and the look alikes, and carried them all above their heads. The audience let out a cheer as they carried Ian and the terrified look-alikes to the back area.
Cherry shot a look to the rest of the crew and they smiled and nodded. She plucked a chord which silenced the masses instantly. She said on the mic," People. I know you feel upset at being deceived. But please, let us deal with them. Please. Bring them back here."
Reluctantly, the audience shoved them back on stage.
Cherry smiled at them and said," Thank you."
She calmly walked to Ian and said," You sir, tell us. Tell us what was behind all this?"
Ian gave her a look of loathing. This humiliation was not going to be forgotten easily. He took the mic and said," I suppose there's no denying it. Yes, these people here aren't the Vigilantes. Truth be told, we found the music somewhere online, and no one claimed it."
"So," continued Cherry. "You took the rights to it since no one else did?"
"No one in the whole world did! All I needed was a band to go with it. And we would lip-synch for the live shows."
Again, a series of boos followed.
"Oh come on!" said Ian. "It's not the first time this has happened! Look at the majority of Pop-stars! You know what I'm talking about! Anyway, the music turned out to be even more popular then we imagined."
"I see," said Cherry. "It was a nice little profit for you and everyone else wasn't it?"
"Music, TV shows, the whole 9 yards. You name it."
"I'm sure it was very lucrative. Listen mister Albright. I'm sure we can work something out. I really would like to get what's owed to us."
"Yes," he said as he straightened his tie. "You will get what's owed…"
"Good. I'm glad you can see things my way. Please talk to our manager Biggs on the way out."
Ian nodded and cast one last look over his shoulder at them, then stormed off.
"Hey," said the look-alike Kayain. "What about us?"
"You people will never again impersonate us, and go back to your real names, hair color, and style. As of now, your concert time slot is canceled, giving all the bands a bit more time."
"Thanks," said the look-alike Cherry. "And, uh… we're really sorry."
Cherry shook her head and said," You needn't be too sorry to us, you were just being used as puppets. Who you should really be sorry to is the fans."
They looked to the audience, who gave them a mixed reaction.
"You'll have to work on that one," said Cherry as she checked her watch. "Oh and it seems we still have time for a few more songs!"
The audience let out a deafening cheer. Kayain and Cherry began the song again where they left off.
Backstage, the Freakshow members were sitting down on a bench, dressed in robes, smoking cigarettes, looking exhausted. They had seen the whole concert by the Vigilantes backstage, and were wanting more.
"That," said Helter. "Was better then sex."
"Maybe," said another. "It's been too long for you hasn't it?"
"Can we take these damn things off?" asked another freak member. "I'm sweating my ass off in here."
"Unless you want the cops to get you," said Helter. "We're not welcome here. 'S why we're posed as hooded hero-types."
"Yea," said the first. "Hey man, are we going to get those Vigilantes or what?"
"Hell yea!" said Helter. "Just gotta go up and 'ask' them to."
"Cool… who'll do the asking?"
"I can't! No way!"
"I'm… too nervous."
The freak member looked down in embarrassment. He said," Because… she'll be there…"
"The short girl? Oh yea… Her…" he said with a large smile.
"There's no way I could… approach her…"
"You guys kiddin' me?" said Helter. "Come on, we'll all go then, since you're all to wussy to do it yourselves."
"Think I could get an autograph too?"
"You guys were… Oh man! You guys were unbelievable!" said the look-alike Danyel.
"How did you guys do it? How long have you been playing?" said the look-alike Cherry.
"You wouldn't believe it," said Cherry.
The Vigilantes and the look-alikes sat backstage with several other bands that had heard them playing on stage. At the moment they were the center of attention.
"Let me ask you," said Regina. "What are your real names?"
"Oh," said the look alike Cherry. "I'm Genevieve."
Look alike Kayain said," Word. I'm Robert."
Look alike Danyel said," Yo, I'm Frank."
Look alike Diana said," Olivia. Nice to meet you."
And Look alike Regina said," Hi, I'm Cindy."
"Ah," said Regina. "Well you already know our names."
"Hey," asked someone from another band. "When we heard your music, it was completely awesome. How did you get those weird effects… you know, in my head?"
"I can answer that," said Cherry. "It's about 20 me, and 80 of the drugs you're on."
"Uh," he said looking around nervously. "Drugs? Uh, what are you talking about?"
"When I play music," said Cherry. "My own ability kicks in, and you begin to feel a big nostalgic, or even joyful. Is that what you mean?"
"Yea, that's it."
"So you're a super then?" asked Robert.
"I have Psionic abilities if that's what you mean," said Cherry.
"Whoa," said Olivia. "That is sooo cool!"
Proto-man came running in and said," There you guys are! Whoa! Look at all the beer!"
"Help yourself," said Kayain.
"Damn straight I will! And-" he stopped as he looked at Cherry. "My love! There you are!"
He knelt beside her and said," Marry me!"
"And here's another unusual side effect," said Cherry. "Love. Well it feels like you're in love, but it will go away shortly after."
"Please?" he continued.
"Of course for the weak-minded it lasts longer."
"That's right," said Frank. "I did feel a little… attracted to you during the performance."
"I think we all did," said Robert. He looked at Danyel and said," Hey, how do you guys resist it?"
"Mental training," said Danyel.
"Ear plugs," said Diana.
"I'm a psion too. I know how to block it," said Regina.
Kayain shrugged and said," I don't know. Don't need the earplugs, or mental training. It just doesn't work on me."
"Yea, I always thought that was kind of weird," said Danyel. "Only mental training can prevent such effects… And Kayain is anything but that…"
"Hey!" said Kayain.
"We still don't know why," said Cherry with a slight blush. "I have a few theories though… I'm not going to say right now."
"Cap'n!" called Biggs. "Negotiations' are goin' well. We should be bringin' in the big bucks soon! O' course, none of the currency here can be traded' fer galactic currency, but what the hell, eh?"
"Indeed," said Cherry. "We can still use it here, and that's what's important at the moment. See that our negotiations go well Biggs. I trust you. We're going to leave soon to get ready for the ball."
"Righ' ye are Cap'n," said Biggs with a salute. "An' by the way Cap'n… I caugh' wind of the Ages Sect backstage."
"I'm aware of that, thank you."
Biggs nodded, and left the area with Lu Bu in tow. Cherry turned to Danyel and said," Are you ready?"
Danyel nodded. She continued," In that case, I'm sorry everyone, but we need to leave."
Everyone groaned in disappointment. Kayain said," Hey, don't worry about it, you'll get to see us again." He turned to the look-alikes and added," And you guys, stay out of trouble."
"Word," said Robert.
As they left, Kayain said," Hey, babe, got a question."
"Yes?" asked Cherry.
"If we're getting our money back, does that mean we're going to take it from the look-alikes?"
"Ha! You'd be lucky to get a penny out of them!"
"I read their minds. They're your typical, fast-paced, stylish, rock stars. 2 of them are in debit, and the others are barely hanging on to their high-profile lifestyle. Too many overpriced and unnecessary cars, televisions, houses, and all the works in it… Not to mention the overpriced clothes they wear. It's not sensible. They just don't know how to handle money. I'd say the most expensive thing we'd get from them is their two hundred dollar shirts."
"Humph," said Kayain. "I always wondered what it was like to have dumb for brains like they do."
"Don't wonder too hard now," said Cherry with a smile.
Ian Albright walked down the corridor, grumbling and muttering to himself. He was getting calls like crazy from everyone who saw the performance live on TV. Some people were upset that he was caught with actors who were lip synching, and some just wanted to make jokes at him.
There was going to be serious fallout all around for this. His reputation as an honest, talent finding manager was ruined for harboring lip synchers. And it would take a long time to undo that.
He was mostly upset at the way it was done. Getting the audience on their side, and trying to railroad him out on national television was only the beginning. Next would come the attack from the press. Oh the entertainment media was going to have a field day on this.
He couldn't think of anything to do at the moment. Nothing came to mind to drive off this bad situation.
"Hey!" he heard someone call out. "Hey you! I wanna talk to you."
"No interviews," snapped Ian. "I'm not answering any questions!"
He turned around and was face to face with a man with pale white hair, and a very smug look on his face. He said," You misunderstand me. I saw what happened out there, and I came to offer you a chance to get back at those loathsome Vigilantes."
Ian regarded him for a moment and said," Get back at them? How would you do that… Wait, more importantly, who are you?"
"Quest Xanthe," he said. "My group, the Ages Sect, feel the need to put them in their place wherever they go. If you've heard they're offworlders, then you should know we are as well… And let me tell you this, not even their own country likes them."
"And I suppose you know a lot about these Vigilantes do you?"
"Very much so," said Quest as he brushed his hair back. "The question is; are you willing to cooperate with me so we can both benefit?"
Ian took a while to consider this. He was a bit skeptical to trust strangers in something as delicate as this.
"What do you know that will help me?"
Quest smiled and said," Please. Let's take a stroll down there shall we?"
Helter and the freaks waited outside and kept a sharp eye on who was going in and out. The Vigilantes were bound to come out this way because the majority of the tour busses were out here.
"Hey man," said one of Freaks. "You think while we're here we can snag a few band members to get their autographs?"
"Not yet," said Helter. "We gotta get our target first."
"But this waiting crap is boring! I wanna go start some trouble! Hey look over there, a few Tsoo guys walking in the street, let's go harass them!"
"Over there," said another Freak member as he pointed to a band's tour bus. "Those guys suck. Their music went from heavy to emo shit! Let's rip their fingers off!"
"No! We will miss our opportunity!"
"Come on! Ok, let's flatten a few tires-"
"Shut up! They're coming!"
Helter and the others readied themselves between the parked tour busses. The Vigilantes came walking down the parking lot, passing up the busses.
When they walked by their area, the freaks jumped out and Helter said," HA! We got you now!"
The Vigilantes looked un-phased by this. The small lady stepped forward and said," You certainly do. Autographs?"
The Freak on the left smiled stupidly and said," Yes…"
"NO!" said Helter as he took off the robe he was wearing. "We're the Freakshow! And we're here to take you in! Your next concert will be at our Freaklympics award ceremony! And you're coming with us whether you like it or not!"
The woman still displayed no emotion as he said this. She turned her head slightly and said," Freaklympics?"
"It's our big gathering of the freaks. It's going to be hell on Paragon City on that day. Every Freak in town is gonna compete to cause the most destruction! And you guys are coming to play at our award ceremony!"
The taller, blonde man looked to her and spoke to her in a language the Freaks had never heard of. But this isn't saying much, considering how uncultured any of them were. The closest to a different language they knew of is Ebonics.
"What are you thinking?" said Kayain in Matronian language.
"Same thing you are," said Cherry. "This might be an opportunity. They don't seem to know we have powers. Let's keep it that way. This might be worth looking into."
"I say we do whatever they say," said Danyel. "They could lead us to something much bigger if we follow them."
"Agreed," said Cherry.
"Freakshow was it?" said Cherry in English. "We're big fans. You guys have to have tough stuff to be part of that group."
"Yer damn right!" said Helter.
"And," said Cherry as she made a gesture to Diana and Regina. "You don't have to worry, we'll play at your little concert. For free, and willingly."
Helter looked at them skeptically a moment, while the other freaks smiled stupidly at the three women in front.
"Willingly… No one comes willingly."
"Really?" said Cherry as she playfully patted his armored chest. "You seem to have a bad reputation around here. But then again, so do we. We like to consider ourselves outside the law… Anarchists sometimes."
The freaks all had their tongues out, smiling raucously at the women. Cherry leaned playfully on Helter's side and said," I promise you a much better show if you let us come on our own. We can even bring all of our special equipment."
Before Helter was a Freakshow, he was always considered a loner. Particurlarly because he was not good at all with the ladies. This little woman was probably the first in his life to ever be so forward with him. Helter simply did not know how to react.
"Err… well…" he managed.
"Please?" she said playfully twirling her finger on his arm-blade.
"Go boss!" cheered one of the Freaks.
"Score!" said another.
"Shut up!" said Helter, embarrassed. "I've made up my mind. Yes, you can come… just please step away…"
"Thank you," said Cherry as she pushed away. "Where and when is it?"
"The Carnival, at Crey's Folly… Meet me there. 8pm this coming Tuesday…"
Cherry took a pen from her pocket and wrote her phone number on his arm-blade. She then kissed her finger and pressed it on the number.
"Call me," she said with a wink.
Helter stood there, too dumbfounded to talk. Instead his Freak friends hooted and hollered for him.
The girls rejoined the guys and they continued on their way. Helter stood still, just staring at the phone number in silence.
"Boss? You ok?" said one Freak.
"Yo, Helter? Hello? Helter? Wake up!" said another.
It took a few minutes, but Helter finally took his eyes off the number and looked around. Everyone waited for his reaction.
Helter blinked, then smiled.
"YAAAAAAHOOOOO!" he yelled out. "I've got her NUMBER! This is the greatest thing that's ever happened!"
"This is the worst thing that's happened today. Yuck!" said Cherry.
After the concert they immediately headed back to the apartment.
"You did pretty well though, I have to admit," said Regina.
"Yea, you got the information! Well done!" said Diana.
"You should have let me kick his ass," said Kayain who obviously didn't like that scene. "They always talk after I'm done with 'em."
"Now, now," said Regina. "As jealous as you are, Kayain, it was just acting after all. You know she only loves you."
Neither Kayain or Cherry said anything to this. Regina smiled smugly, hoping for a reaction. Before she could say anything else, she fell down an open manhole.
Cherry waited until she heard a loud splash before saying," Whoops, I forgot to tell you that was there. How very unlike me."
Danyel looked suspiciously at Cherry and said," I was looking forward the whole time, that manhole was covered."
"Don't look at me," she said. "It's not my fault she's clumsy."
"Guys," called Regina. "That was very immature. I could have been seriously hurt, you know? I'm covered in sewage now…"
"Maybe next time then," said Cherry. "You'll pay closer attention to your surroundings, instead of flapping your gums."
"It's going to take ages to get the stink out of these clothes… Can someone help me out of this muck?"
"No way," said Cherry. "You stink! Get out on your own."
It was hours later when the Vigilantes arrived at the Charity ball. Regina had held everyone up with an extra long bath. Everyone was dressed in their best outfit, and on their best behavior. Kayain had received an extra talking to when asked to be on their best behavior.
Kayain dismissively waved his hand and said," Bah! I'm with my people now. Classy, rich folks. I blend."
"Kayain, did you just fart?!" said Cherry holding her nose.
Lord Daniel approached them and said," Welcome! I'm glad you could make it."
His nose twitched near Kayain. He ignored it and said," Ami, there you are! Oh, everyone, there's a few people I want you to meet. Come, bring your dates and I'll introduce you."
Lord Daniel skirted through the area of suits and very expensive dresses. He led them to a fairly tall dark skinned man in a red outfit accompanied by a stunningly beautiful woman in violet.
"Everyone, this is Agent Crimson. He's been wanting to meet you guys for some time now."
Crimson nodded and said," Ah yes, the infamous Vigilantes." He turned to Cherry and said," You must be the ring-leader, Cherry."
"Captain, actually," she said.
"My apologies, Captain."
"You've been looking for us by name?"
"Indeed I have. Your team has gained quite a reputation among the hero community."
"Who do you work for?"
"I work for a group that prefers to remain nameless at the time being. However you can be sure we're on the same side."
"You can trust him," said Lord Daniel after seeing the look on Cherry's face. "I trust him."
Cherry nodded and left it at that.
"I know about your situation, and the situation with the Rikti invaders. I know of the weapon you are building in D.A.T.A. and I believe I can help get things you need."
"You're certainly well informed," said Cherry. "Let me introduce you to-"
"Tylar Thomas," said Crimson. "They speak highly of you down at D.A.T.A."
Tylar was a bit surprised that this man knew him. He politely said," I am. And whatever kind of help you can provide, mister Crimson, would be of great help. I'm very short on supplies and we can't leave the planet at the moment because of a-"
"Blockade, by your nation of Matronia," said Crimson.
Tylar was momentarily speechless. Even Cherry was a bit surprised.
"Come now," said Crimson. "You think your lines are that secure? My people hear communications intercepted all the time. Like you said, we're very well informed."
Cherry looked from Tylar back to Crimson and said," That you are sir. A man like you has many connections, and can easily find us what we need."
Crimson handed her a card and said," If you find yourself needing something, please don't hesitate to call."
"Likewise," said Cherry. "As I'm sure you already know our phone number."
He smiled at this. Looking to the side he said," Oh, let me introduce you to my partner, Agent Indigo."
A stunningly beautiful woman approached them. She had snow-white skin, shoulder-length black hair, and eyes you could get lost in.
At least Kayain was at the moment. Regina had to elbow him in the gut to get him to pay attention to her.
"A pleasure to meet you all," said Indigo. "I look forward to working with you in the future."
Kayain grinned like an idiot and said," Heh, heh... me too."
"You must be Doctor Kayain," she said with a peculiar grin on her face. It was almost as if she was hiding a laugh. "How goes your research?"
"Oh we've made several interesting breakthroughs. The first thing we accomplished was using the scientific method to determine my own personal level of attractiveness."
"The results?" she said as her grin widened.
"Startling," he said as he ignored Regina's tugging on his arm.
Serves her right, thought Cherry. She ought to know by now that only I know how to tame Kayain. Have fun though.
Leaving Kayain and Regina she said to Crimson," I have a question."
"Have you heard of the Freaklympics?"
Crimson thought about it for a moment, then said," The wine here is fabulous, would you like to get some with me?"
"I would, thanks. Everyone, please excuse me."
They both walked and picked up a glass of wine off a caterer's tray and walked to a semi-secluded area.
Crimson continued," As you're aware of, the group known as the Freakshow are self-proclaimed Anarchists, Sadists, Masochists, Druggies, and so forth. They have little regard for life, and prove it by tearing off their limbs and replacing them with steel and weaponry."
"That much we know," said Cherry.
"The Freaklympics you heard about is an event they hold every year where all of the freak gangs, and groups, bosses and leaders all get together for a day of chaos. They will all gather in-masse to have a large competition on who can cause the most mayhem and destruction. They keep score on destroying things, stealing, arson, mutilation, and finally hero killing."
"So every Freakshow out there will be in on this at the same time?"
"That's the problem. We just don't have the manpower to stop all of them at once. Plus we never know when it is, so there is just no telling."
Cherry thought for a moment. She remembered the conversation she had with Helter and said, "You know, I think I might be able to help you. I know when the next Freaklympics is. It will be this coming week, most likely Tuesday."
Crimson raised his eyebrow and said," How do you know that?"
"They told us. The Freakshow did."
Crimson merely shrugged and took a sip of wine.
"You're very sure though? This coming Tuesday?" he said as he cupped the wine glass.
"Positive. They wanted us to personally play music at their award ceremony."
"And are you?"
"Most definitely," said Cherry as she took a sip of wine. "We can't miss an opportunity like this one."
"Are you planning on taking all of them by yourself?"
"That's the general idea, yea… Unless you're offering help?"
"Please," said Crimson as he motioned back to the group. "Let's discuss this later. I'm not at liberty to discuss such things here in the open."
The two of them walked back to their group and found everyone talking jovially to many of the guests.
"Cherry! Hey Cherry! Over here!" called Kayain.
Cherry approached to see 2 beautiful women in his arms. She felt a lump in the pit of her stomach.
"Cherry, lemme introduce you to Madeline Casey! Remember? From The Super Days? She plays the heroine, Livewire?"
Realization dawned on her as she finally recognized the face of the young blonde woman in his right arm.
"Hi," said Madeline as she extended her hand. "Good to meet you."
"Oh, I can't believe I didn't recognize you," said Cherry as she shook her hand. "Yea I watch that show all the time. You do a wonderful job there."
"Thank you! I like the work, but my real passion is fighting crime just like you heroes do."
"You have real powers?"
"No, but I have lots of friends who do. Information comes to me, and I can handle it with my network. Just another way of keeping the city safe!"
"That's great," said Cherry as she smiled. "Just goes to show, you don't need powers to be super."
"That is so true. Oh! And I saw your performance. I have to say, it was the best concert I have ever been to… Say, if it's not too much to ask, can I get an autograph?"
"Of course," said Cherry.
"We got each other's autograph," said Kayain. "And so did Miss Indigo here."
Indigo, who was in his left arm said," Your concert was spectacular. I think I'd like an autograph to take with me."
"Sure, sure," said Cherry as she looked around. "Where's Regina?"
"Talking to Lord Daniel," said Kayain.
"Don't neglect her now Kayain," said Cherry with a smile.
"Right! Heh, heh."
"I say," said Tylar. "Wonderful party Lord Daniel."
"Indeed," said Lord Daniel. "Oh, look, see over there? That's the Chinese Ambassador, Zheng Xiaoxuan. He's a VIP in all my books. A businessman by trade, yet he's donated so much to charity. A true humanitarian."
"And who's that rugged man with him?" asked Regina.
"Jack Firenze, of the CIA. The man works in a division that communicates with China. Former military man as well."
"He looks it," said Regina.
"Don't let his looks deceive you, he's quite a gentlemen."
"Who's a gentlemen?" asked Cherry as she approached from behind.
"Oh, there you are," said Lord Daniel. "Your date has been waiting."
Cherry looked to Tylar who shrugged. She smiled and said," He's my partner. And if I'm not mistaken, your date is the one off talking to those handsome doctors over there."
Lord Danyel gasped and excused himself as he took off in the direction Cherry pointed.
"Is she really-" Tylar began.
"No," said Cherry to take Tylar's mind off Ami. "And as for you Gina, your date is really playing the field there isn't he?"
"He's just making contacts," said Regina as she shrugged.
"With a lot of beautiful women."
"And since when do you care about me so much?"
Cherry returned the shrug and said," Just thought you should know. Oh, and try pulling his ear, that always works."
"Why would I do that?"
"Because he's telling that joke about you on Bianas VII… You remember that mission? The one where you-"
"YES! I remember. Don't say that out loud."
"Oh, but Kayain is. He's about to tell that group of women over there."
Regina's eyes widened and she immediately took off.
"Yes," said Cherry before Tylar could ask. "He is indeed telling that joke… Ah good, the music has started. Shall we dance?"
"Why yes, indeed ma'am," said Tylar with a small bow.
Tylar took Cherry's hand and led her to the dance floor. They began with Tylar bowing properly, and Cherry giving a small courtesy. Tylar and Cherry went arm in arm to the waltz that the band jovially played.
Tylar was a surprisingly good dancer, and Cherry knew it came from years of fancy parties he attended.
Cherry and Tylar danced happily for the next few songs. No matter what song, Tylar danced naturally along with each. At times Cherry wondered if she's be able to keep up, but did so with Tylar leading.
It wasn't until at least the third song when Cherry nearly tripped over her feet. The cause of this problem was not uncoordination, but she spotted Quest sitting at a table by the dance floor, throwing her a look of disgust.
"Tylar," said Cherry still keeping in step. "The Ages sect is here."
"Where?" he said looking around.
"Behind you… twirl me."
As he did this, he looked behind to see them.
"Oh. Nothing good will come of this."
"Well, well, well," they heard come from the side. "Aren't you two comfy?"
Cherry looked to see Adagio in step with a woman Cherry did not know.
"What do you want?" said Cherry.
"Just to dance," said Adagio as he twirled his partner. "You wouldn't deny me such pleasures would you?"
"No, but you're being selfish. You're denying that woman any pleasure just by having her hang around you."
Tylar tried to stifle a chortle, as Adagio said," You still haven't got any manners have you? Well that'll all change soon."
"What do you wannabes have in store this time?" said Cherry.
"For your information," said the woman in Adagio's arms. "Adagio's ten times smarter then your whole team combined! I've heard of you Vigilantes, and you people are good for nothing. He's gonna solve this Rikti crises with our help."
"And you are?"
"Rita Wagner. Section 8 specialist."
"Section 8?!" said Tylar surprised. "I know about you guys! You stole the work from Section 4!"
"Prove it," she said. "And also, I'm here with Adagio because I want to be. So you can just back off little missy."
"Yes," said Adagio. "Go back to your playpen, and let the big kids do the work now short stuff."
At this point, a wine glass flew across the room and splashed Adagio and Rita with red wine.
"Why you… Insolent-" Adagio began.
"You're out of your league," said Cherry. "Go back to your corner and just enjoy the party eh?"
"Don't worry darling," said Rita. "Their time will come. Oh yes… You'll be sorry you ever messed with us."
"Thank you, have a nice day," said Cherry as she and Tylar waltzed off the dance floor.
They both took a seat at the table that Danyel and Diana were sitting at.
"Mmm, you guys have to try the food here," said Diana. "It's pretty darn good, if I do say so myself."
"That it is love," said Danyel as he finally looked at Cherry. "Sis? What's up?"
"Ages is here."
Both Diana and Danyel's faces turned sour.
"Where are they?"
"On the other side of the dance floor. Try and avoid them at all costs."
"That's what I had in mind all along."
Cherry took a seat next to Tylar and said," Have you seen Kayain or Regina?"
"Come to think of it," said Danyel. "No I haven't. Where do you think they could have gone?"
"Probably to some little corner to make out," said Diana.
"Not funny," said Cherry.
"Ah, I wouldn't worry. He's probably just socializing like he usually does."
"Or maybe," said Danyel with a grin. "He's burnin' up the dance floor."
Everyone turned to see Kayain and Regina, arm in arm dancing. Cherry's guts gave a twist as she saw his hand reach for her behind.
"I say," said Tylar. "Cherry… Uh… Cherry?"
"What?!" she said sharper then she intended to. "Sorry."
"I was just going to say you should probably lay off that poor fork, yes?"
Cherry looked down in her hand to see the fork bent completely to one side.
"Oh, yes… That. I was just…. You know..."
"He's not doing it right! That man is so incompetent sometimes."
Danyel smiles and nudges Diana. They both smile as Danyel says," Maybe you should show him personally how it's done?"
"Well… I could… I mean yea, sure I could. I'm a much better dancer then Gina could ever be."
"There ya go," said Diana. "Go out there and show him how it's done!"
"All right then! I will!"
Cherry stood up and marched over to the dance floor. She strode determinedly toward Kayain and Regina until she heard someone say," Evening' Princess Cherry."
She turned to the side to see none other then Remington of the Ages.
"Remy?" she said.
"How many times have I told you not to call me princess, Remy? I'm not a princess."
"I believe you will be. That is all I need."
Arguing with him wasn't going to make it stop. Remington and his family went very far back in Matronia's history as guardians of the royals. With the recent turn of events, Remington felt torn on his duty to the Patriarch, and orders to sabotage his own family.
"Remy, what do you want?"
"I believe milady should know that you need to tread lightly around master Quest. There are many plots about to ruin you, and take the Vindicator weapon."
"I know this Remy."
"Then you also must know of the means. They plan to ruin your reputation first, and take away your support. Once that is done, they plan to have you taken into Matronian custody."
"How would they do that?"
"They will speak of only the ill in your reputation. But I know better. I know the truth about milady's greatness."
"Remy…" said Cherry as she turned away. "I know that you're very loyal to the Patriarch-"
"Loyal to Matronia, princess," he corrected. "The Patriarch represents Matronia, and everything he does is for the good of our people. There can only be one chosen ruler after he is gone. I know it will be your mother. That makes you royalty."
"Royalty never suited me," sighed Cherry.
"From what I know milady, you've been a leader all your life. You're suited for royalty more then you know."
And that's what bothers me, she thought.
"Still, I can't have you saying that out loud Remy. This is a fancy ball with high society people. If they found out my status, I'd be the center of attention. I really don't need that right now. You know how I work."
"Hey!" they heard Kayain say from the side. "Remy, whatcha up to?"
"Hello master Kayain," he said politely. "I was having a conversation with milady about the goings on of Ages. But for now I must go."
"All right man, you take it easy, eh?"
Remington bowed politely and departed. Kayain put his hands behind his head and said," So, what was that about?"
"He didn't want to reveal too much, but he said we need to be careful. Ages sect is plotting something against us. Something against our reputation."
Kayain raised an eyebrow and said," Can't make it any worse can they?"
"It was pretty low when Quest tried to get the rumor started that I eat babies."
"Oh yea," laughed Kayain. "Joker's just running out of ideas."
Kayain snagged a wine glass from a caterer and said," So… Where's Tylar? I saw you dancing with him earlier."
"Oh," she said, slightly blushing. "He's eating right now. I was just… getting food from the buffet table."
"Uh, hua… Well the table is the other way."
"Is it? Must not have been paying attention I guess." She changed the subject to avoid any more awkwardness. "So how's the ball going for you so far?"
"Very nice," he said with a proud smile. "Made plenty of contacts. Like see that guy over there? He's the leader of the Legion of Valor. A huge and prestigious super group in Paragon City. Told him all about our situation and he offered us membership to the group."
"That'll come in handy."
"No doubt. That's why I'm signing up soon. And hey, look at this. The lovely Miss Indigo gave me her number!"
"Work number I hope?"
"Err… Well you be the judge."
Cherry looked at the paper with the number on it. It had a large kiss mark on it with the same color lipstick Indigo was wearing.
"I see," said Cherry neutrally.
"Plus Miss Casey gave me hers as well. I'm pretty damn popular with all the ladies tonight."
"Except one," said Cherry under her breath.
"Nothing. Hey where's Gina?"
"Trying to get a dance with Lord Daniel. But he's already dancing with Ami."
"That would explain why Tylar keeps trying to sneak a peek at the dance floor."
"Heh, poor sap. Hey I'll meet back up with the group later. Got a few more people to meet."
"Have fun Kayain," she said, slightly disappointed.
As he departed she sighed and decided she'd better head over to the food table. The food on the table looked absolutely delicious, but she didn't have much of an appetite at that point. She nibbled on a few pieces of cheese and turned back to the crowd.
"You don't look like you're having a good time, miss," the person next to her said.
"Oh," she said, not really expecting to be approached. "It's not that. I'm just lost in thought right now."
He casually strode next to her and turned the same direction. He glanced sideways and said," Parties are meant to be a fun time. It can't be a party if you're not enjoying it. Can your thoughts wait?"
"I suppose. To be honest I've never been the party-goer type."
"So what brings you here?"
"I'm here with my team. Being the leader I have to keep them in line. Sometimes I feel more like a babysitter then a leader though."
"Doesn't mean you can't enjoy yourself every once and a while."
"I try. Work usually gets in the way."
"Sounds like you need a vacation."
"A long one."
There was a slight pause before he extended his hand and said," I'm Mark by the way. Mark Avis, known as Energicon on the streets."
It wasn't until this moment when Cherry finally got a good look at the man. He was fairly tall, tan skinned with dark hair, and a handsome face. Regina's words echoed in her head,' Nothing wrong with looking at a sexy guy now is there?'
Cherry smiled at him and said," Energicon is it? I'm afraid I don't have a super-hero name."
"Oh but I know who you are," he said with a smile. "Cherry of the Vigilantes. I read about you in the papers, and on Heronet. I have to say though, that the pictures posted hardly do you justice."
She blushed a bit and turned back to the crowd. She folded her arms and said," So you just wanted to say hi is all? Or were you going to ask me to dance?"
"It's like you can read my mind," he said with a playful smile. "Madam would you care to dance?"
Cherry happened to catch sight of Kayain across the room, laughing with Madeline Casey. She playfully put her hand on his arm and squeezed his muscle when he flexed for her. The beast inside her begging for Madeline's blood was quieted with the sight of Mark.
"Yes," she said hoping not to sound anything but happy. "I'd love to."
Ian Albright and Miss Jane were flagged down by Quest and told to come sit with them. When they approached the table, Ian nearly did a double take.
"No!" he said as he pointed to the man sitting in the seat. "No, no, no, no, NO! I will not sit with him!"
"What's the matter Ian? Hope I'm not scaring you am I?" said the heavily mustachioed man in the seat.
"Are you nuts man?" said Ian as he looked at Quest. "Do you know who this is?"
"Christopher O'Hara," said Quest with a smile. "Biggest name in tabloid news, most talked about show, for it's cutting edge facts and details. Deflater of inflated egos, and destroyer of reputations. The last beacon of truth against the perils of the so-called super-powered do-gooders, and villains alike."
Christopher did a small bow as he proudly acknowledged this.
"After watching this show, I found this man to be a 'true hero', unlike those destructive idiots wondering the streets. So I pulled a few strings here and there to get in contact with him, and told him my story. He was interested in what I had to say, and we decided to help each other out. He gets an interesting story that will be talked about for years to come, while I accomplish my mission."
"But Christopher is ruthless!"
"Oi, Come on now!" said Christopher. "'Honest' is the word you're looking for, mate. And cooperate with us and I'll go easy on you this Monday on my show."
"I'm telling you, this is not a good idea," he said to Quest.
"Do you want to get even or not?"
"I do but-"
"Work with Christopher and you will have not only that, but you can help your reputation out a bit."
"He's right mate," said Christopher. "I have the power to turn your bad reputation around. People listen to me. You have a good word with me, and you have a good word with everyone!"
Ian sighed as he thought about this. He knew how bad Christopher could be against anyone. And the truth was that people did in fact listen to his opinions over many others.
With great reluctance he said," Fine. I'll work with you."
"Glad you see things my way mate," said Christopher as he lit a cigar. "You won't regret it."
"I'm sure I will."
"Where's Cherry?" asked Kayain when he came back to the table everyone was at.
"Dancing with that hottie over there," said Regina.
"What?!" he said as he looked around the dance floor. He finally set his eyes on Cherry dancing with the tall, dark, and handsome man.
"Hey, who is that? And who does he think he is?"
"Uh, Kayain?" said Tylar.
"What?!" he said sharply.
"You just drove that fork into the table."
"Did I? That fork probably deserved it anyway."
"He's not even doing it right," said Kayain as he began popping his fingers. "I'll bet he's going to try and put a hand on her ass too, the pervert."
"Says you," mocked Danyel. "Why don't you go out there and show him how it's really done?"
"Well… I could… I mean yea, sure I could. I'm a much better dancer then he could ever be."
"There ya go," said Diana. "Go out there and show him how it's done!"
"All right then! I will!"
Kayain got up and strode determinedly to the dance floor. Danyel looked over to the rest of them and said," Are those two married or what?"
"I don't see how that hasn't happened yet," said Regina.
"Oh, would you look at that, Kayain is intercepted by Miss Casey again," said Diana.
"So he has," said Danyel. "Ah, looks like he's taking her to dance. Don't you feel left out Regina?"
"Not really," she said. "Come on Tylar, let's go make up for it."
"Me? You really want to dance with me?"
"Tylar, one of these days I'm going to convince you that girls who ask you out do not bite… much."
"Oh," he said, trying to hide a smile. "Right-o then."
At the end of the night, everyone was tired, but very happy. Cherry held the hand of Mark as she said," Thank you sir for those wonderful dances."
"The pleasure is all mine," he said. "You are a wonderful dancer."
"Thanks… Well It's getting late, I'm afraid I must be going."
"Er, wait a minute."
"Can I see you again sometime?"
Cherry blushed slightly. She glanced over to Kayain laughing happily with Madeline Casey, and stirred the monster again.
"Yes," she said. "Yes, I think I'd like that. Here's my number… Call me."
With that she walked back to the table, unable to hide the grin on her face. Typically a grin like that on Cherry meant something was definitely going her way for a change.
Danyel asked," So, what's that about?"
"Because I'm happy."
"You're never happy, what's that really about?"
"Never you mind, we're leaving anyway. We've got a second concert to prepare for."
"A second concert?"
"We're playing at the Freaklympics award ceremony, remember? We're going to put on a show they'll never forget."
Tuesday could not have come quicker. It was late in the evening, and everyone was prepared and looking for a fight. For the occasion, Cherry was in contact with Crimson and Captain Terrance to collaborate a plan against the Freakshow.
Little did they know that the Freakshow were already all over the city, and the event was already underway. To play it safe, they traveled the sewer network in packs occasionally beating up a hero or two who foolishly came down there.
"This is great," said Helter. "You keeping count right? That's FIVE hospitalized heroes so far. If they didn't have that emergency teleporter crap it would be five dead heroes though."
"Sure boss," said the Scorecounter.
"Hey, I think I know where we are. We're right above the 'Family Jewels', let's go in and steal some candy!"
Most people were accustomed to things popping in and out of the sewers. You'll get the Skulls, Hellions, Vhazilok, Outcasts, Trolls, Clockwork, and even the occasional oversized talking turtle that fights crime.
But no one was ready for the amount of Freakshow that suddenly popped out of the sewers. Every street corner was packed with Freakshow coming from manholes, grates, ducts, and even abandoned warehouses.
The Freaks were immediately met with the Paragon Police Department, who was already on high alert.
"This way!" called Helter as they ran from the chaos already on the streets.
Helter used his claw arm to tear open the door to the 'Family Jewels'. His group immediately began smashing and grabbing everything in sight.
"Hey boss! Lookie what I found!" called out one of his gang members. "I found the shopkeeper here and his wifey!"
Helter walked over to the door at the far end and looked inside to see a small living area. The gang member stood over the cowering people pointing a shotgun at them.
"Yo boss," he said. "What you wanna do with 'em? Break their Arms? Legs? Pull their fingers out?"
Helter walks up and looms over the two. He looks down and says," Tell me where the good stuff is. That shit you got in the front is for grannies and little girlies. I want the real jewels and I want em now."
"I-I-I don't know what you're talking about!" said the shopkeeper. "Please! Just take the jewels and go!"
Two more thugs came into the room. Helter crossed his arms and said," I'm growing impatient old man, I know you jewelers carry better stuff then up front. I wanna see it, or-" Helter looked to his wife and smiled. "-something just might happen to her."
"No!" he cried. "Please don't hurt her!"
"Go ahead boys," said Helter.
The two thugs came in and grabbed the woman. She screamed and struggled in vein under the Freakshow's incredible strength.
"I wanna cut her open, right down the middle!" said one as he stuck his tongue out at her, making a vulgar suggestion with it.
"No! I'm gonna smash her fingers, one by one. Then I'm gonna do her toes next!" said the other.
"STOP! NO!" said the shopkeep. "Please! I'll tell you where the jewels are, just don't hurt her!"
"Oh, that's rich!" laughed Christopher O'Hara as he poured a refill on a glass of Champaign. "These Vigilantes sound like they're off their rocker alright. And the Martinez siblings are supposed to be royalty?"
"Normally they would be treated like it," said Quest. "Except on orders of the Patriarch that is."
"But still, they are, yes?"
"Yes, you're right."
"Lovely," said Christopher with a wicked smile. "Oh that makes their downfall oh so much sweeter."
Eva looked up, sensing danger.
"Quest," she said quietly. "Something's happening."
Phoebe looked up suddenly and said," I hear something as well."
The Ages sect ran to the window and looked out. It was chaos in the streets. Freakshow covered the streets, smashing windows, breaking vehicles, tearing out phone poles, and terrorizing the citizens.
Suddenly, the door busted open, as Freakshow members tore into the room. On sight, a Freakshow tank extended his arm, and launched a buzz-saw directly at Christopher.
Quest, with lightning reflexes, ran in front and knocked the saw off course with his blade.
"Chris," he said. "Get to safety. NOW! We'll handle this rabble."
Kayain absorbed a bone smashing slam from a maul attached to the arm of a Freakshow. The blade would normally break a man in half with that kind of hit, but merely bruised in his mid-section.
He responded with a kick to the handle, breaking it in half. The freak member, momentarily stunned as he regarded the broken weapon, charged in.
Kayain sidestepped and tripped the freak. While he was down Kayain grabbed the freak by the head and dragged him to the apartment stoop that they were fighting next to. Kayain picked his head up and grinded his face into the rough concrete siding.
He looked up to see two more Freakshow staring in horror as their friend was being handled by Kayain.
"What?" said Kayain as he held the Freak writhing in pain. "He started it."
After a moment's hesitation, the two charged in. They swung high, but Kayain went low. They fell over, clutching their pelvis in hopes that they would ever pee again.
Kayain stepped on the throat of one and said," Where's your boss?"
The Freak only managed to gag.
"I'm getting tired of you punks. I should have been at home today, with my beloved Mr. Cuddles. But no, I have to spend my evening here with you-"
Kayain stopped as he heard the other Freak with the torn face get up, fully recovered.
He frowned as the Freak cursed and spat at him.
"You should have stayed down boy," said Kayain.
The Freakshow became enraged and charged him again. This time, he stopped short and grabbed his head as he cried out in pain.
But having two hammers as hands is not always the greatest thing to grab your head with. The Freakshow slammed his hammer to the side of his head, and fell over.
"I really didn't mean for that to happen," said Cherry from behind Kayain.
Kayain shrugged and said," Can't be helped, babe."
"I just got a call from Crimson," she continued. "There was a kidnapping at the Chinese Embassy. The Freakshow took several people hostage, including Ambassador Zheng Xiaoxuan."
Kayain nodded and said," So we're in charge of that?"
"I told Crimson I would take care of it. The Freakshow took them to a warehouse in Brickstown."
"Then let's get going… What about these guys?"
Cherry regarded the two on the floor for a moment and said," You two are very lucky today. I will not kill you. Although for everything you've done, you probably deserve to death. Instead I will do something even more horrible to you."
The two Freakshow's eyes widened, as they began to run around screaming. Kayain looked at her and said," So what did you do to them?"
"They lost their hearing so to speak. The only thing that they hear in their mind is elevator music."
"Wow. You can be downright sadistic."
Quest pointed his weapon to a Freakshow and gave him a condescending smile.
"Your friends were no match," said Quest. "What makes you think you have a chance, boy?"
The Freakshow with, a bladed arm, charged at Quest. The Freakshow swiped, only to have his blade deflected with Quest's sword. Quest deflected the curved blade and quickly put it against the throat of the Freakshow.
Neither of them moved. The smile on Quest's face told the Freakshow that if he were to move, he would be cut down instantly.
Then from around the corner, a bigger group of Freakshow appeared, and circled around the two. Quest dropped his smile, as the Freakshow at the end of his blade began his own smile.
"Well, well," said one. "Hey check it out Helter, we got fifty points standing right here."
"This does not concern you," said Quest calmly. "Let me finish with him and I will oblige you."
All of the Freakshow laughed.
"Hero," said Helter. "You're about to be in a world of hurt."
"Look at his hair!" said another. "He's got girly hair, ha, ha!"
"I wanna cut it all off," said another. "And then I'm gonna rip out that pretty face, ha, ha, ha!"
Quest shakes his head as he said," Guess I'm gonna have to hurt you all right here and now… Remy?"
Behind them, the overly-large Remington grabbed two of them by the head and smashed them together. The rest of them were taken by surprise as the giant had seemingly appeared out of nowhere. They turned to face him, but found they could not move.
Behind Remington, Phoebe was casting a spell that made the earth itself grasp their feet, locking them in place. While they were busy looking at their feet, Quest swiftly cut off each of their implanted arms in a series of fluid motions.
Remington used his own ability to form two large rock gloves in his hands, and proceeded to punch the Freaks to unconsciousness.
Helter was the only one with a ranged buzz saw launcher. He took aim right at Quest's backside and fired. Before Quest had a chance to move, Remington stuck his arm out, and took the hit in his forearm.
The buzz saw went past the rock fist, and cut deep into his arm. Remington did not flinch or make a sound. He instead stared, stone-faced at Helter.
Quest turned his head slightly and said," Thank you Remy. Do what you want to him."
Remington nodded. Helter barred his teeth, ready to fight the oversized hero. Suddenly, Helter's face changed to surprise, and then his body went stiff.
Eva came around the corner and said," Just a minute all… I'm reading his mind and I found something very interesting."
Quest sheathed his sword and said," What did you find?"
"First off, this is the Freaklympics, like we read from the flyer."
"We could guess that much Eva."
"Ah, but late at night they will have an award ceremony with a massive Freakshow gathering… And guess who volunteered to play the music?"
Quest frowned at the thought.
"Seriously… the Vigilantes are going there?"
"Yea, and you know I think if I can mind-lock with this guy, I can follow him, and we can hit the mother-lode of Freakshow."
This brought a smile to Quest's face. Something like this would definitely put them in good standing with the city.
"Do that then," said Quest. "I have an idea, but we're going to have to work fast."
Cherry and a small group of Vigilantes entered the warehouse, and found no resistance at the entrance. This made Cherry even more uneasy.
Looking around the entryway, the walls were pot-marked with bullet holes, blood, and bits of gore.
"Are we too late?" asked Kayain.
"No," said Cherry. "It looks like something beat us to it… but what, I don't know. Let's see what we can find. Everyone be on guard."
Everywhere they went was the same thing, patches of bullet holes on the walls, blood, bullet casings, and shrapnel, but no bodies.
"Hey guys, I found something interesting," said Regina.
They walked to the corner where she stood frowning. Regina pointed to a dead Freakshow body.
"Strange," said Cherry. "By the look of it, I'd say he was-"
"Executed," said Regina. "His position, and the fact that this is the only area that doesn't look combat worn. Plus you guys can see the double tap in the back of his head."
"Two shots to the back of the head," said Cherry. "This is not Paragon Police, I can tell you that… Council?"
"I don't know why, but I don't think that this is their doing," said Danyel.
"You're right," said Cherry. "I would know… No, they're much more messy then this. If they wanted to, they'd flaunt their takeover with a cadre of soldiers. We haven't encountered anything."
Cherry didn't answer. She rubbed her chin, thinking about the villain groups known in the city.
Finally she said," Gina, I need you to take point, invisible. Tell us what you find."
Regina nodded and went off deeper into the warehouse. She found the lack of life in the place disturbing. It would have been more comforting to have mobs every step of the way, so they already would know what to face against.
She heard voices just around a corner. She crept up as quietly as she could and peeked over the side.
There was 4 men around the corner. Each wearing a blue spec-ops type outfit. They were armed to the core with guns, grenades, batons, stun prods, and many other various weapons. The man the 3 others were looking at was wearing a cowboy-like hat, with a bandana covering his nose and mouth. To top off his look, he had two six shooter pistols, one on each side.
"The first phase is underway," said the cowboy-hat man. Regina took note of his very heavy southern draw in his voice. His whole look, and the way he spoke was almost as if they pulled him directly out of an old western movie.
"What now Director?" asked another of the spec-ops.
"First thing's first," said the Director. "Get the Ambassador secure for phase one."
"That's already been taken care of Director."
"Good, then we're on schedule," said the Director.
For a slight moment, Regina thought the Director looked right at her.
"For now," he continued. "I recon we're done here. Come on boys, let's get outta' here."
The men nodded and walked with the Director. Suddenly he stopped, and held his hand up, stopping the others. They held positions for a few moments while the Director held his hand up still.
With amazing speed, he turned and quickdrew his 6 shooter from his holster and shot right at Regina. She was unable to move fast enough to dodge his shot, but fortunately, it only grazed her cheek.
A single drop of blood fell to the floor. The Director stood still with his gun in place. Regina did not move, in case he felt the need to shoot again. Instead, the Director shook his head and motioned for them to keep going.
Regina exhaled as she slid down the wall in relief. She turned on her communicator and said," Regina to Cherry."
There was a brief moment of silence.
"Gina! Get over here!" she heard Cherry say through the sound of gunfire in the background.
Without hesitation, she got up and raced down the corridor. In the distance she heard the gunfire, and ran in the direction it came from. Looking down a hall she saw the fight.
The people they fought with wore the same blue outfits, and carried the same weapons. She rushed in to Cherry's side to help her with a man trying to get to her inside her psi-barrier. Gathering power in her hands, she thrust to the backside of the unsuspecting man, incapacitating him immediately.
"Help Kayain!" said Cherry.
Kayain was holding two of the men by the throats, and two others were trying to take him down with tazers. Regna ran and slammed her fist into the kidney of one of the men. The shock of it was enough to prevent him from crying out. Instead he fell over, in a desperate attempt to breathe, while writhing in pain.
Kayain turned to the other man who was shocking him and growled at him. The man's instincts told him he should re-think about what he was doing. His tazer would not drop the big man, and he's holding two of his comrades by the necks as easily as swinging rag dolls.
The man did not move. Regina went behind him and put her arm around his throat. She gathered energy in her fingertips and put it threateningly at his heart.
"Talk," she said. "Who are you?"
The man hesitated at first. He was busy watching Kayain slam his comrade's heads together, knocking them out.
"I said who are you?" she repeated, putting her fingers closer and singeing his uniform.
"Alpha 18," he said. "Special ops, in securing the Chinese Ambassador. We were sent on special assignment to retrieve him from the Freakshow."
"I think you're lying," she said. "I have reason to believe-"
"Stop!" they heard someone say from behind. "Don't do it! They're helping me!"
Everyone turned to see four people rushing up to them, one of which was the Chinese Ambassador.
"They came to rescue me from those Freakshow," said Zheng Xiaoxuan. "And look what you heroes have done to them!"
"While it's true that we were indeed kidnapped," said another hostage who Regina recognized from the party as Jack Firenze. "I still have my doubts about our 'rescuers'."
"And you are?" asked Cherry.
"Jack Firenze," he said. "CIA. I'm on special assignment with the Ambassador. We were about to have a meeting with a few officials when the Freakshow came bursting in to the office, and kidnapping the Ambassador, myself, and our two secretaries."
"Who are these people," she asked, pointing to one of the men on the floor.
"Malta," said Jack. "Completely untrustworthy in my opinion."
"Maybe to you Jack," said Zheng. "But they know how to get the job done."
Cherry adjusted her communicator and said," Cherry to Terrance."
"Terrance here," said the voice of Captain Terrance.
"We have the Ambassador secure. Your information was correct. He'll be needing a police escort back to the Embassy."
"Roger that, we're on our way."
Cherry turned back to the group and said," The police are on the way. It would be wise to get out of this area." They nodded in agreement, and Cherry added," A word please, Jack."
"Yes?" he said as everyone began to walk back.
Jack looked to make sure everyone was out of earshot before he said," Best you didn't know right now. Just know that they aren't good news. Don't let your guard down around them… That's all I can say now."
Back at the apartments, the Vigilantes prepared for the late night concert with the help of Kayain and Talley's Anti-fashion sense.
"Daaahling," mocked Kayain as he nodded approval at Cherry's attire. "You look fabulous!"
"I can feel the inner punk in you," said Talley. "Or Goth, whichever you prefer."
"What I feel like is a cheep hooker," said Cherry as she looked in the mirror with disgust.
"All the more reason to love you," said Kayain. Before Cherry could figure out if that was another jibe at her, he said," We're going to have a room full of doped up morons, and having their eyes on you makes them vulnerable. Then when we got em thinking they actually have a shot at you-" he slammed his fists together, "BAM! We got em."
"Oh Lord," she said looking in the mirror a second time. "May I never have to wear this ever again."
"Hey, I almost forgot," said Kayain. "You'll be needing these."
He handed her a few metallic looking pieces of plastic.
"What are these for?"
"To blend in. We're going to put these on your arms and legs to make it look like body mods."
"I've already got the fake tattoos, piercing, and my hair is ridiculous. And now I have to put on more plastic? I'm going to be dragging myself around sooner or later."
"I think you wear the Goth look well," said Talley. "Are you sure you won't consider-"
"Couldn't hurt to ask."
Regina came into the room and burst out laughing.
"Oh come on," said Cherry as she crossed her arms. "You look just as bad."
"I'm sorry," she said while trying to control her laughing. "It's just, I never imagined you'd wear something like that."
"I'm not doing it because I like it. I'm doing it to get the job done. I've had to do things like this before, and this is no different- Hey!"
Cherry marched over to Regina and inspected her exposed shoulder. She then turned her around and looked at her back.
"What is that?!"
"My temporary body tattoo. Since I'm going in a small-top and mesh shirt, it's exposed. Neat hua?"
"How far down does it go?"
"Covers the body, like I said."
"Who did that?"
"Diana. She's quite the artist."
"I was going to, but she didn't let me," said Kayain. "I had it all planned out. A big yellow smiley face on her front. Of course I'll let you guess what the two eyes would be, hur hur."
"Kayain, you're naughty," said Regina.
"I could still do that on you if you want, babe," he said with a mischievous grin.
"I'll pass, thanks," said Cherry.
In the doorway they heard someone clear their throat to let their presence be known. Tylar came in and said," Dear me, I must have stepped into another dimension."
"What's up Tylar?" asked Cherry.
"Captain Terrance is on the phone. He says the PPD is in position, and will wait for your signal."
"Good, tell him that we should be there within the hour. Just finishing up on our disguises. And remind him to have his men wearing sound dampeners so they are not effected by the music."
Tylar nodded and left the room. Cherry looked to Kayain and said," I'm all ready. How is everyone else?"
"They've been ready."
"I see. Your Anti-Fashion is strong today."
Kayain belched loudly, and said," I guess so."
Crey's Folly is an area between Brickstown and the Rikti Crash Site. It's an area most heroes avoided like the plague. An area devoid of any hero support. An area filled with toxic waste rivers, villain hideouts, Rikti invaders, and watchful snipers.
Many heroes who went into this area were never seen again. All the more reason The Vigilantes entered through the back way; across from the Rikti Crash site.
"Was this the area they said to meet?" asked Danyel. "I can hardly tell in this place."
"I'm sure of it," said Cherry. "Carnival Town it's called. It also fits the Captain's description."
The whole area was like a city built out of metal scraps. Hut shaped houses stood made from bits of traffic signs, construction steel, and anything else they could get their hands on. Tall, graffitied buildings stood around the huts, which were obviously factories before Crey's Folley's downfall.
"Yo," called out a Freakshow. "You guys the Vigilantes?"
"We are," said Cherry.
"Hot damn! Helter wasn't just talking out his ass was he? You're really them?"
"Yes, is Helter here?"
"INCOMING!" they heard Helter yell out. He ran as fast as he could out of the Carnival with two other Freakshow in tow.
"Back off you!" he said to the Freak near Cherry. "The lady is with me!"
"Man, whatever," he said. "They're the real deal?"
"Of course they –" It was at this moment Helter finally realized what everyone was wearing, but focused on Cherry. "Oh… man…"
"Yo, Helter," said the Freak. "You polish your armor or summthin?"
"And if I did?!" he said, raising his clawed arm to the Freak.
"Just sayin' is all."
"Helter," said Cherry sweetly. "We have our equipment there in that trailer." Cherry pointed to a trailer that Tylar's bots were dragging. "Be a dear and take those in, will you?"
Helter grinned like an idiot, then said," Boys, you heard the lady. Get that equipment inside and set it up!"
The two nodded and began to unload the boxes inside. Helter continued," You guys come with me. You don't want any of these other freaks hasslin' ya."
The Vigilantes followed Helter into the jungle of steel. The place had a smell to it that was a mix between excrement, burnt rubber, and death. Everywhere they looked there were Freakshow members laughing raucously, or fighting over one thing or another. It was a truly brutal and maddening place.
Helter led them into a graffitied building. The inside was decorated like the outside. It had metal signs, and chunks of metal all over the walls. In some places walls were put up with upside down rockets as the posts.
The inside was dim, with strobe and colored lights as the only source of lighting. The sound of heavy techno music resonated deep within the factory. It was like going to a rave with the usual druggies, only ten times more dangerous. The feeling made Cherry and the others very tense.
Helter lead them through the ranks of Freakshow, shoving them out of the way. Once or twice a Freakshow would grab at one of the women to try and pull them into their group. Helter responded by clawing chunks out of their face or tearing one of their limbs clean off. To Cherry's surprise this did not invoke the ire of the rest of the group, but instead they laughed like maniacs at their fallen comrade. It was a truly mind-numbing sight.
They walked up a flight of stairs leading to the main area. The music sounded louder from this point, and they could only guess that this was the backstage area.
"Yo, Clamor!" said Helter. "I told you I'd bring em, and here they are!"
There was a female Freakshow. She was heavily augmented like the rest of them, but looked slightly more dangerous. Cherry could sense a feeling of respect that Helter had for this woman. She guessed Clamor was their leader.
"Nice work Helter," said Clamor in a very gruff female voice. "You people, get over here! The awards are about to begin."
Cherry and the others peeked outside behind the curtains. There was a river of Freakshow just beyond the stage. They were all on the floor, dancing like men possessed. They were on the balcony that edged all along the side, hanging off or jumping off into the sea of Freakshow below. Strobe lights, Colored lights, and Laser lights all illuminated the area, making it one of the vilest raves they've ever seen.
When the last song was over, a deafening cheer erupted from all the Freakshow. Gunshots could be heard, firing into the air, as well as the banging of steel together.
Clamor stepped on stage and took a microphone with her.
"My fellow cretins," she said. "Tonight was our night!" This was followed by cheers. "Tonight we showed the supposed heroes of Paragon who really runs this town!"
Again, another cheer followed.
"No one, not anyone, is a match for the Freakshow! Not those idiots from Crey, not those pigs from the Council, not even the wretched heroes of Paragon. No one!"
She waited for the cheering to settle down before she continued.
"And now, it's time to find out who gave the most hell. Which group wrecked the most havoc? Which one of you deserves to be the king Freak? We shall see. Bruise! Get over here!"
The Freakshow named Bruise ran up and handed Clamor a sheet of paper and 3 painted metal discs with ropes attached to them. She took a moment to read what was on it, and smiled.
"The results are in," she said, holding up the paper. "For most kidnaps and blood spilled, Third place goes to… BunkBuster!"
A Freakshow Tank came running up and stood on the pedestal where third place goes. Clamor put the bronze disc cap around BunkBuster's neck and punched his chest. BunkBuster let out a wild roar, which the crowd returned.
When everyone quieted down she continued," For most burglaries, and hero killing, Second place goes to… Helter Skelter!"
Helter came running out yelling at the top of his lungs. While this was going on, some of the Freakshow came in and handed The Vigilantes their instruments.
While the cheering went on, Cherry could not say anything over the sound of the Freaks. So she said telepathically," Guys, we've only got one shot at this. There's only one thing that will satisfy this crowd, and that's Heavy Metal. It's Metal or die here people. And I choose Metal."
"For most bombs, and destruction," continued Clamor. "I give First place to Mistah Static!"
"Tylar," continued Cherry. "You'd better be ready on that signal, or we're all in deep trouble."
After the cheering settled down, Clamor continued," You have done well my Freaks. And for this you shall all be rewarded. As you've heard, we were promised music… and music you shall get. Helter, tell our Freaks what we have today!"
"Yo," said Helter. "To all my Freaks out there! You all thought I was fulla shit when I said I could get the Vigilantes. But guess what? I give you… The Vigilantes!"
With this, the curtain was opened. The sight was vastly intimidating. Each one of them could easily rip them in half if they wanted to.
Cherry strengthened her resolve, and stepped forward. Raucous cheers and whistling came with it.
"What's this?" said Cherry as she took the mic. "I came here to put on a show, and I can't hear a single one of you."
The crowd cheered, but Cherry continued," I can't hear you Freaks! I said, make some ga-damn NOISE!"
They cheered even louder this time. Kayain followed with a chord that nearly silenced them. The note resonated all the way out to the fields, making all the Freaks in Carnival Town look up and toward the direction where it came from.
After a moment of silence, the crowd cheered again.
"That's more like it!"
Outside of Carnival Town, Captain Terrance waited along with the largest Paragon Police force he could muster. He had no doubts of their skills, as they were the best the PPD had to offer. Plus he had the aid of the remainder of the Vigilantes.
His wife, Vanessa, aka Steel Magnolia, waited alongside him, ready to offer her powers as backup.
"It's awfully loud isn't it?" she said as she heard the music from even that far away.
"Yea," said Terrance. "And that's why we need the plugs. Right now, those freaks are going under some kind of mind control."
"A bit scary when you think about it," she said. "Music controlling your minds."
"No different then any other super powered person here hon. It's how you use it that counts."
She smiled as he said this, knowing he was also talking about her. Terrance checked his watch and said," Almost time. She's wearing them out as much as she can."
"I'm exhausted just hearing it from here."
A few more minutes went by, and suddenly there was gunfire.
"Terrance to all units, hold your fire!" said Terrance into his communicator.
"Sir, that's a negative sir," said a squad captain. "There's gunfire coming from an unknown location!"
"What the feck is goin' on?!" said Biggs.
"Hold your positions!" said Terrance.
"John!" said Vanessa. "In the sky, look!"
Descending on Carnival town was a fleet of gunships that they recognized as-
"Longbow!" said Terrance. "What are they doing here?"
One after another, Longbow soldiers air-dropped from the gunships. Some soldiers flew in on their own personal jetpacks, while others came on foot via invisibility.
"Ack! The ruddy bastards are droppin' from the sky!" said Biggs.
"What the hell are they thinking," said Terrance.
"That they're heroes," said Vanessa. "They have their own rights though."
"The point is, they needed to contact us first!"
"This is Warden Johnson of Longbow to all allied units," someone said on the communicator. "We have the situation under control. Please do not get in the crossfire."
"Like hell," said Terrance. "Warden Johnson, you have no business here. This is already under control by the PPD."
"Negative," said Johnson. "We received orders from City Hall that this was our responsibility. Please stand down Captain."
Terrance swore under his breath. He said," I wanna see these orders!"
"A pleasure, my good Captain," he heard from behind.
Warden Johnson stood tall, and as usual, very erect. It was very hard for one not to stare at this, but in the moment of his anger, Terrance did not pay him any heed.
"I think you'll find everything is in order," said Johnson as he handed Terrance the form.
Terrance read it over and frowned. It was indeed authentic and signed by all the necessary heads.
With great reluctance he said on his communicator," Men, stand by for further orders."
"First and foremost," said Terrance. "I don't know where you get off and go over my head like that-"
"The simple truth to it was we were unaware you were here. Everything was processed properly with the help of a very honorable group by the named, Ages Sect. Their leader Quest Xanthe was the one who gave us all the information we needed. He told us when and where it was going to happen. He and his group even volunteered to help with the assault. Fine bunch of heroes they are."
"Now look here you-"
"Please Captain. I have my orders, and so do you. Tell your men to stand down. That's an order from the city."
Terrance was absolutely furious. Just the fact that these Hero Corps, had so much pull in the government that they could overrule the police like that. What made him even more angry was that they had the nerve to go to City Hall first, before the PPD.
Unless, he thought. Unless they already knew we would be here.
"Warden Johnson," said Terrance. "Who is this Quest Xanthe?"
"I've said that already. Leader of the Ages Sect."
"And how did he come across this information?"
"I'm not sure on the specifics, but I believe he has a psion who found the information out from a Freakshow gang member."
Terrance thought for a moment. He distinctly remembers the name Ages sect from somewhere, and he could also remember Cherry not liking them.
Now I remember, thought Terrance. Cherry said Ages Sect was also from their world, but their bitter rivals. They were always out to destroy one another.
"One last question," said Terrance. "Are your men wearing earplugs?"
"As a matter of fact, yes. Quest mentioned a powerful mind-controller inside, and to equip the men with specific sound dampeners to resist the effects."
Realization dawned on him. He said," I see… Carry on then."
After that he left the area with Vanessa. On his communicator he called in and said," All units stand down. Return to my location immediately."
"What?" said Biggs.
"You heard me. Stand down and return. We have orders."
There was a pause, then," Ack! Everyon' get back!."
"What's going on John?" asked Vanessa.
"It seems as though we're caught in the middle of some vendetta between The Vigilantes, and a group named Ages Sect. I believe this whole incident was just a big 1-up on our friends from The Vigilantes… But now they've gone and pissed me off as well."
"In that case we need to tell them!" said Vanessa.
Terrance shook his head as he said," We can tell them, but they're in the thick of it. If they stop playing now, the Freakshow will more then likely kill them… However, I will inform them of the situation change.
The Vigilantes got Terrance's message. It did not stop them from playing in the least. A crowd like this was likely to tear them apart if they stopped.
The sound of gunfire got closer and closer. She knew that an army of Longbow was attached to it, along with Ages.
The Freakshow on the other hand did not seem to care. The music was the only thing there for them. All of their eyes were on her, mentally undressing her and imagining vile sexual acts with her.
Thinking about this, she formed an idea. When there was a solo, she said," My Freaks! Do you love me?"
"WE LOVE YOU!" they called back.
"I said do you LOVE ME?!"
"WE LOVE YOU!" they called back even louder.
"I'm lookin' for a dance partner tonight! Who wants to keep me awake all night long?!"
"ME!!" they all cried out.
"I don't want no ordinary Freak! I only want the strongest! Which one of you is the strongest Freak of all?"
"ME!!" they said.
But this time, some began to argue. The small arguments turned into fights. Within seconds, the entire area was a gigantic Freakshow Free-for-all.
"Love me!" she called out.
"AAAAAHHH!!" they called as they fought one another.
The rest of The Vigilantes took it upon themselves to play even faster as the fighting erupted. Steel clashed, and blood flew in all directions.
"Take me! Take me!" she heard Helter say from behind the stage.
Suddenly a giant scythe tore completely through Helter's chest, then slowly moved upward, cutting his torso and head in half. Mistah Static stood behind him grinning like a maniac.
"She's MINE damnit!" he yelled. "She's all MIN-"
Mistah Static was instantly jumped by five more Freakshow, and was amputated by their blade weapons.
Cherry looked out to see Longbow soldiers pour into the room with guns blazing. Right behind them was Quest, with a very smug look on his face.
"Get them! All of them!" he said.
But even then, they did not stop playing. They played fast and furious to match the intense fighting. Quest calmly walked forward, occasionally slashing at a Freakshow who came the way.
He stood in front of them, calmly watching as the fight continued from all sides. He crossed his arms and shook his head at her. Cherry and the others did not let him distract them as they continued.
Within minutes, the Freakshow were almost completely put down. From behind, Longbow officers came and yelled," Cease and desist, in the name of Longbow!"
They ignored them. At that point, there was not Longbow soldiers in the front, pointing their guns at them.
A Longbow officer tore out the wires for the speakers, suddenly silencing the music.
"Get them!" said the officer.
This was not a fight they wanted to start. Cherry psionicaly told the team not to resist.
Kayain and Diana were dropped to the floor by a pair of Officers with Super Strength, and handcuffed. Tylar and Danyel were tackled by another pair of Longbow. Regina put her hands behind her back on her own, and was kicked over anyway.
Cherry stood there, and did not look away from Quest as she gave him a look of deepest loathing. She wanted so much to wipe that smirk off his face.
"Good job all," said Quest. "These dangerous Villains should fit in perfectly in the Zig."
Eva, Phoebe, and Adagio came running up from behind. When they saw the scene, they looked absolutely delighted.
"Get the camera! Quick!" said Eva.
"Right here!" said Adagio as he began to tape. "Oh, this is classic. The trash is being taken out!"
"What's with that look Cherry?" said Phoebe. "It's so unbecoming of you."
"Oh, I think it looks fitting on her," said Eva. "Makes her look like garbage."
The three laughed at this. Kayain became upset and struggled against the Longbow Officers.
"Come over here and say that!" he said as he tried to out power the Warden.
When he couldn't out power him, he turned and sent a bone-shattering kick right into the Warden's groin. The Warden doubled over and cried out in pain, while Kayain made a break right at the four of them.
He dived off the stage, and was stopped in mid-air. He looked around, and saw himself inside a force field barrier. A Longbow Ballista stood behind him, and said," Don't move Villain."
Kayain yelled," Idiot! You've got the wrong guys! We're the good guys you stupid ass!"
"No hero would come to a Freakshow gathering as entertainment. Not something Heroes normally do, sir."
"We're not entertaining! We were-"
"Tell it to the judge! You're all under arrest!"
Longbow surrounded Cherry. One came forward and said," Give yourself up miss. We don't want any trouble from a psion."
Cherry sighed and put her hands up. Sensing this momentary weakness, Eva instantly hit her with a painful mind blast. It was enough to make her cry out and fly backwards.
Danyel, and all the others began to struggle when they saw this. Their struggling was met with brute force. The Longbow around her immediately swarmed her and pinned her to the ground. An Officer came in with handcuffs and an anti-psionic crown.
"Get them out of here!" said the Longbow Ballista.
"Don't struggle!" said Cherry as she regained her breath. "It's what they want you to do!"
With reluctance, the Vigilantes obeyed and did not put up any more fighting. They were all carried off by the Officers. In passing they were taunted and laughed at by the Ages.
Cherry was the last to be moved. Still, she did not break eye contact with Quest. She was taken by the three Ages, and received her own taunting. But when she walked by Quest, she said in Matronian," Quest. I swear vengeance on you before this mission is complete. You will pay."
"I'm looking forward to it, Princess," he said.