Despite my better judgment, I return to Socrates for my reward and for another job.
So… our creepy 1984-style big-brother cybermind just saw an explosion that mutated a bunch of scientists. He has no idea what caused it or why, or if it mutation is contagious, but he’s got the antidote worked out and he wants me to go over there and whip up a batch of the stuff for the eggheads. Well, it’s rotten nonsense, but I have to say it’s a lot less crazy and shame-inducing than fighting Foxbat. (Of course, the same could be said of using baby seals as a melee weapon to beat up crippled orphans on Christmas Eve.)
I arrive at the scene of the disaster to have a look at the damage.
There are the refrigerator-sized containers strewn around the parking lot amongst the burning cars, mutated scientists, and terrorist soldiers. The containers ostensibly contain the resources I need. The terrorists contain a deep hatred for the establishment. The cars contain fire.
The scientists do not look well:
They’re green, confused, and horribly deformed. On the upside they’ve stopped practicing science for a few hours, which is probably really good for the rest of the city.
Let’s see. I’ve got the shopping list Socrates handed to me right here…
5 Acetylated Gemmulites.
5 Synthetic Chomatin
5 Unstable Ribonucleic Nucleotides
I land next to a container and perform the now familiar process of converting terrorist heads into knuckle-dented balls of mush. Once complete, I rip open the container and find it contains exactly one (1) Synthetic Chomatin. I guess the rest is just full of bubble wrap and Styrofoam peanuts?
Should I be handling this stuff? Shouldn’t I be using gloves or tongs or something?
Remember terrorists: I’m not happy until you’re not happy.
I take a look around at the sea of crates and murderous terrorists. As far as I can tell, their plans seem to be:
1) Find the site of a recent biological disaster and guard any crates they find in parking lot.
2) That’s pretty much it.
I need 15 total science chemical thingies. Each crate contains exactly one. Each crate is guarded by 3 terrorists.
15 chemical things x 3 terrorists = 45 letters the terrorist commander is going to need to write to new terrorist widows.
Once I’ve secured the ingredients, I head for the apparatus. Apparently the machine to make the mutation-curing serum is sitting in the front lawn instead of being inside and plugged in to something. A few seconds later I have a vial full of some sort of mutant-b-gone. Also note: The science center is still on fire. Someone should do something about that.
This is where you craft the serum? I don’t see anywhere to put the ingredients in. Or any buttons. Or any sort of interface at all, other than… are those handles? What is this thing? Do I even know how to use it?
Once I use the thing to make the stuff, I run around give the green-skinned nerds a dose of it. They come around right away. Well, mostly. Their bodies seem healthy enough. They run away towards the terrorists after being cured, so their brains might not be 100% fixed. They’re either brain-damaged and about to be murdered by terrorists, or they’re cured and they’re going to head back to the lab and find an even more destructive way to bring about their own deaths.
At any rate, that’s the best I can do. I’m outta here.
The fire, rubble, and Viper soldiers I’ll leave for someone else to deal with.
Nearby, I find…
Someone has planted a cargo container here, for unknown purposes. Or is this modern art? I’d best leave it alone just in case.
I have a quiet moment to myself here on the roof of a building which is probably in the process of being robbed. As I listen to the wail of alarms and look out over the parking lot full of of litter, arson, gang warfare, and poorly arranged cargo containers, it occurs to me that this city has a lot of problems and despite the time I’ve invested I haven’t done much to help.
You know, maybe my problem is that I’ve been working for Socrates all this time. Maybe he’s just broken and nobody’s bothered to hang an “out of order” sign on his kiosk yet. Maybe I need to find someone else to direct my efforts. I need to find someone who knows the city but who hasn’t gone out of their mind yet. It’s certainly worth a try.
What luck, I run into a police officer in need of help. Turns out Lt. Kevin McClintock is about to go on patrol through the dangerous part of the city and he’d like an escort.
Yes! Finally, someone sane in this crazy mixed-up city! You see? This is what I’m talking about. Human stories. People coming together to make the city a better place. It doesn’t matter if you have superpowers or not, as long as you have a shred of courage and you’re willing to work hard, you can be just as big a hero as anyone wearing a cape.
“Sure thing officer. Let’s go.”
Okay. You’ve drawn your gun. I don’t know that you need that just yet. I mean, let’s have a look around and see…
“You want to get some West Side trash? So we’re on litter duty? No? I don’t underst- OH MY GOSH YOU’RE SHOOTING PEOPLE?!?”
The people on the other side of the street return fire. I sort of panic a bit, but they’re shooting at Lt. McClintock and I figure I have to protect him. He’s a cop, and must have seen something I didn’t. I jump in and try to draw their attention, using my body to shield McClintock from the hail of gunfire.
The bad guys fall and I look around to see who might have seen that.
“I’m sorry?” I say in confusion. “‘Get a roll on?’ Is that police talk? I don’t know what that means, unless you’re telling me you need deodorant. Look, I can tell you’re pretty excited here, but I didn’t see those guys committing any crimes. I mean, it’s not my place to tell you how to do your job, but shouldn’t you at least try to arrest them before you go shooting up the neighborhood? I could scout ahead an-“
Lt. McClintock suddenly spots another group of men standing together and decides to execute them for the crime of defending themselves from being executed. Against my better judgment I once again prevent him from dying in his suicide charge.
I am really uncomfortable with this entire situation, and I try to get the officer to maybe stop and explain what we’re trying to accomplish here. I know I’ve punched my share of people into the afterlife, but they were at least guilty of something when I did so, and they usually took the first shot. And I’d expect a little more due process out of an actual officer of the law. This isn’t even-
Lt. McClintock ignores me and keeps walking. At this point I notice that despite my best efforts, he’s in pretty bad shape. He’s taken a few hits and could do with a little medical attention. But the blood loss has done nothing to quell his blood lust, and he pushes onward despite my protests.
Fifteen seconds later we’ve got another inconvenient pile of corpses. And Lt. McClintock has a few more leaks in his non-super hide.
“Feeling a little woozy, Officer McClintock? How about a free flight to the hospital? My treat. Ever fly with a super before? It’s lots of fun. Better than a rollercoaster. We can get you all patched up. Mercy Hospital isn’t far. I’ll bet the nurses there are cute. And then maybe some of your friends on the force will drop by and we can talk about your… enthusiastic approach to crime fighting. Whaddya say?”
I really am at a loss here. Heedless of his wounds, Officer McClintock rushes forward and begins firing into the crowd of heavily-armed men. And it looks like he’s managed to attract the attention of some of Foxbat’s goons. So now we’re fighting a two-front war. In the open. Against vastly superior numbers. We might actually have a chance here if Lt. Murder wouldn’t charge into the fray halfway through the fight and start punching people with his gun.
A few seconds later he succumbs to his unfortunate condition of being too much stupid and not much bulletproof.
Well, I can’t say this was a surprise.
I mop up the foes. Then I look backwards over the trail of blood and death we’ve left in our wake and realize that I have no way to explain any of this. I skulk away and conclude that whatever I’m going to do at this point, I should do it far away in another part of the city.
Maybe Socrates has some jobs for me…
Next Week: Adventure, excitement, and concocting a plausible alibi for what we were doing this week! Don’t miss it!