Issue #20 - Arrested Development
The day after the events of last issue (see last issue]] ), Baron Mind receives a message at Guardians HQ from a Detective Whiteside of the Kansas State Police. He’s asking for the Baron’s help with a child abduction case in Topeka. An 11-year-old named Tommy Johnson was in a foster home in the Witness Protection Program, because his mother is the supervillain Stiletto. He’s been in foster care since the child’s birth. The foster parents were found brutally murdered and the boy is missing.
The Baron is flown to Topeka and is taken to the crime scene. Although the house has been cleaned, blood stains remain everywhere: the floor, the walls, even the ceiling. The Baron positions himself inside the room and engages his Retrocognition (he can see backwards in time at the rate of one hour for every 10 minutes he spends there). Looking back three days he watches in horror as Stiletto and Chopper break into the house. Chopper searches for the child while Stiletto proceeds to slice the foster parents to pieces. Chopper emerges from a hallway with Tommy in tow and smiles at Stiletto’s carnage. She kneels in front of the boy and says, “Mommy’s going to make everything okay. Now let’s go find your daddy.”
Baron informs Det. Whiteside of his Retrocognition, then tells him that Stiletto and Chopper were in Indianapolis just 24 hours earlier, apparently chasing one Ernest Peckinpaw.
Back in Indianapolis, Alyssia Masters (aka Fortress) has been stuck in a police interrogation room for hours. They continue to pepper her with questions about her activities, about her access at Eli Lilly, and her knowledge of the Unicorn and Friction. They show her the camera footage from the lab, showing her diligently working at all hours of the night, alone. When they tell her they’re swearing out a warrant to search her house, she asks for a phone call. She phones Arthur Donaldson and manages to convince him that she’s Fortress, in need of a lawyer. She also conveys that she needs her “dog” let out (meaning the police are swearing out a warrant to search her home and she needs her special formula out of it before the police get there). Once again, Bantam shrinks down and sneaks into Alyssia’s house just ahead of the search team and retrieves her special serum. He drops it off at Guardians HQ.
Darlene Weiss (aka Dark Witch) receives Donaldson’s call and agrees to take the case. She heads down to the IPD processing center to talk to Alyssia. Not long afterward, a detective re-entered the interrogation room and officially placed Alyssia under arrest for conspiracy, dealing in a controlled substance, and a host of other charges.
They take her back into the main processing area, where her belongings are bagged. As her fingerprints are being taken she sees the security guard who had manned the desk when she fought the escaped test subject. He was being escorted to an office by one of her interrogating detectives. He caught her eye, smiled, and winked at her.
Meanwhile, the Baron is being driven home from the airport by his girlfriend, on Eastbound I-70. As they’re passing downtown he sees a huge cloud of dust erupt from a building several blocks away. He also sees two of the Unicorn’s Knights, flying their Hoversteeds toward the disturbance. Thinking quickly, he uses his Mental Illusions on his girlfriend to make her see a puppy dart across the road in front of them and leap from the edge of the interstate. She slams on her brakes and pulls to the side of the road. When she rushes from the car to see if the puppy is okay, Baron takes to the air and flies after the Knights, activating his signal device as he goes.
In the interrogation room, Darlene and Alyssia feel the building shake violently and hear an explosion from down the hall. Darlene pokes her head out of the door and she sees the processing room in chaos: dust and smoke hover in the air, and she hears shouts. Just at the end of the hallway she can make out, at the edge of the dust cloud, figures in armor holding miniature lances, and a hulking woman dressed in leather and chrome: the female half of the Rage Twins, the Unicorn’s super-muscle. The large woman says into the room, “Find her stuff, I’ll get Masters!”
As shots and energy blasts ring out in the room, Darlene reaches into her purse and pulls out her wand. Instantly she is enveloped by coruscating black energy and is transformed into the Dark Witch! She speeds toward the figures and fires the wand at the woman, conjuring black energy to course around her head, blinding her. The two Knights flanking the woman fire their lances at her. A purple beam blasts a hole in the wall next to her head, from the other lance explodes a tangle of metal wires, ensnaring her.
Alyssia sees this from the doorway of the interrogation room. She rushes down the hallway and kneels beside Dark Witch, to try to help her get free. One of the Knights says, “hey, she’s right here!” He moves up and grabs Alyssia by the arm; she grabs the entangling wires surrounding the Witch.
Outside, just in front of the police station, Baron Mind arrives to see four Knights hovering above the street on their Hoversteeds. He uses his Telekinesis to force the closest steed to the ground. He manages to hit a second Knight with an Ego Blast when he sees Lightning Bolt, Graviton, and Vapor arrive at the opposite end of the street. LB orderes Graviton and Vapor to deal with the other Knights and sprints for the station’s front doors.
When he bursts through the doors LB sees, down a short hallway, the processing room. The dust and smoke that filled it has mostly settled; he sees a huge hole in the middle of the floor. Ringing it are more Knights, currently firing around the room taking out police. Near the whole also stands the Termite, the huge bug-like creature in the employ of the Unicorn.
Outside, Vapor tells Grav to handle the Knights and he makes for the front doors as well.
Alyssia struggles to free herself from the Knight’s grip, while Dark Witch struggles to free herself from the wire net. The female Rage Twin throws punches wildly, still blinded by the Witch’s magic. Dark Witch frees herself from the net and takes aim at a nearby Knight, blasting him across the room. The female Rage Twin, now able to see again, moves over to grab Alyssia’s other arm.
Across the room, LB reflects two energy beams and hits the Termite, but it barely fazes the creature. That’s when Vapor makes it into the room. He immediately hits Termite with a cloud of nitrous oxide, which serves to drain the beast’s intelligence and ego. As a result, Termite stands still in bewilderment.
Leaving Vapor to deal with the Knights, LB dashes across the room (around the hole and between Knights and police and bodies) and stops beside Alyssia. He slips into her hand one of her syringes. She tries to inject herself but with one arm held by the Knight and one by the Rage Twin, she can’t.
The Twin smacks LB, who goes sailing down the corridor toward the interrogation room. She barks at the Knight to get Alyssia into the escape tunnel and she advances on LB, clearly enraged. LB flings his shield, which slams into the Twin and sends her flying into Alyssia, the Knight holding her, and a second Knight, and they all plummet into the hole in the floor.
LB leaps in after them. The hole descends for several feet to a dirt floor. The female Rage Twin picks up Alyssia and runs down the tunnel made by the Termite for their escape. Still holding the syringe that LB had placed in her hand, Alyssia slams it into her thigh. She feels power of Fortress coursing through her veins! She winds up and sucker-punches the Rage Twin, sending her flying back down the tunnel as Alyssia drops to the floor.
The effects of the laughing gas wear off and Termite determines that the best course of action is a retreat: he dives into the dirt floor and tunnels away.
Vapor blinds the male Rage Twin with a face full of tear gas as the female Twin goes flying past him to slam into the tunnel wall, the result of yet another punch from a very angry Fortress. Vapor promptly tear gasses her too, and the Twins surrender.
EPILOGUE: The Rage Twins give up the addresses of two of the Unicorn’s lairs, but say she has several more. Ten Knights are captured (three get away). Three police officers died, a dozen more wounded.
Alyssia sits in jail. Given the evidence and the fact that supervillains tried to break her out of jail, the judge denies bail.
Vapor, upon hearing about Stiletto’s son, is convinced the child is his.