It was decided that Solanum and Psirene would go to the Sussex
Academy to look into the disappearance of the children, while the
others would go try and track them down. They knew they had to work
quickly; word was that those in the villain underworld were bedeviled
by The Gamester, and they might not show the same restraint against
So as not to alarm any parents, faculty, or any villain,
the two heroines changed into their civilian clothes, and hopped into
Saraís BMW coupe. They raced through the straight, skyscraper-lined
avenues of Steel Canyon to the winding, manicured boulevards of Founderís
Falls, and into the pandemonium that was the parking lot of the Sussex
Cars were parked in every direction, no one bothering to
observe the rules of the road or even display common courtesy. After
Sara managed to squeeze her car into a little corner of the parking
lot, she and Bianca got out and made their way through the slalom
course of improperly parked vehicles and franticly running parents.
They also had to avoid being hit by any incoming parents barreling
into the parking lot at breakneck pace. In fact, a long black limo
almost clipped Sara. With a quick flick of her nail, she cut a deep
gouge into the rear side panel.
"Take that." she muttered.
that was petty, vengeful and completely uncalled for." Bianca said,
making sure her clothes and hair were properly in order. She pushed
open the doors to the school. "I approve."
The pair went towards the
gymnasium, which was where all the parents seemed to be streaming
to. The faculty had made it into an emergency center of sorts, but
due to the clamor of all the enraged parents, very little could be
A red-headed, middle aged woman stood at the front of the gym,
talking into the microphone. She looked like she was on the verge
of a nervous breakdown. She turned hopelessly to another faculty member
before she tried talking again, only louder. Again, the din of the
mob drowned her out.
Annoyed by the crowd, Bianca half-closed her
eyes and issued a mental request to all the minds in to room to kindly
shut up. Though she did not have the manipulative skills that her
brother had, her telepathy was still quite powerful, and she got the
desired affect. With a bewildered look, the parents all quieted down,
and the woman at the head of the room began to speak again.
you, to whomever is responsible for that." she began. "Iím Madeline
Greely, Dean of the Academy. First off, Iíd like to say weíre doing
everything we can to find your children. Weíve contacted the police
as well as Hero Corps. Unfortunately, with the current crisis going
on with The Gamester, their resources are stretched rather thinly."
she smiled apologetically at the assembled parents. "All we know is
this: at about 10 oíclock this morning, the student body left."
like nobody knows whatís going on, and these people had a ringside
seat." Sara muttered.
Parents began to mutter angrily. This was not
telling them anything they did not already know.
"Hey, look!" someone
Everyone in the gym turned around. A teacher was bringing
in a student, probably about fifteen years old. The boy looked sullen
"Who is that?" asked Bianca.
"Jack Carlin-Webb. Heís
kind of the school bully." whispered Sara. "Carlitoís told me about
him. Heís kind of calmed down since Carlito and Delilah have been
The boy suddenly produced a shiny red package.
oh." the two heroines said.
A woman came running out of the crowd
and grabbed the boy, who seemed more annoyed by his mother fussing
over him than anything else. The parents began to talk excitedly among
themselves; maybe their children would be walking in next.
himself from his motherís embrace, the boy went to Dean Greely and
placed the package down on the table next to her.
"A little something
from The Gamester." was all he said, and opened the gift.
Bianca tensed themselves, ready to attack whatever came out of the
box. Surprisingly, it was a small, round device. The kid pressed the
button on top of it, and the crowd of parents were given a light show
accompanied by strange circus music.
"Hello, there, dear parents.
This is Dean Gamester speaking. The children are going on the ultimate
field trip today. I cannot say when theyíll be coming back, nor can
I say if theyíll be coming back. But I can say this: any attempts
to stop them and you wonít see them again."
The anger in the parents
quickly changed to worry and concern. The level of agitation rose
sharply. The disembodied voice continued.
"Iím sure by now, you are
wondering how I took your kids. After all, Sussex Academy has the
tightest security, right? Allow me to introduce my dear Piper. Let
his soothing sounds liberate you from any cash you may have on you
right now. Besides, your money is the only thing that will save your
children at this point. Not the police, and certainly not the heroes."
The group was puzzled as the sound of flute music began to play. The
song was a sprightly one, almost like a jig. Several people began
to twitch. First one, then another, then another, until all in the
room were beginning to move to the rhythm of the tune.
Sara and Bianca
turned around to the source of the music. A man stood behind them,
dressed in a red jacket and harlequin-patterned tights. He stood one-legged
as he played his hypnotic song. He wore a hat with a long feather
sticking out of it and a black mask around his face to cover his true
Bianca quickly wrapped a psychic shield around herself and
Sara to protect them from the effects of the song. The rest of the
parents werenít so fortunate. Their rhythmic spasms had become full-blown
dancing, and the people were trying desperately to stop, crying and
screaming for mercy as their gyrations became more wild and frenzied.
It was as if they were going to dance themselves to death.
that Sara and Bianca were resisting his control, Piper reached into
his jacket and tossed something in their direction. A brilliant flash
of light went up in front of them, in addition to a sharp, icy wind.
When their eyes were no longer dazzled, they saw standing in front
of them a Winter Lord.
The huge creature roared angrily. The parents,
now in shock over the sudden appearance of the monster, all screamed
and ran towards Dean Greely. The two heroines looked at the fifteen
foot snow creature, whose gaze shifted from one woman to the other.
"Can we take him?" asked Bianca.
"Do we have a choice?" Sara replied,
her claws unsheathing almost automatically when she first saw the
thing. She could hear the crowd gasp in response.
With little effort,
she jumped up to the same height as the snowy beastís head and lashed
out with a savage strike to its face. The thing bellowed loudly and
swung a backhand upwards at Sara. Unable to dodge the giant fist quickly
enough, Sara took a sideways blow to her midsection that sent her
sailing over to the other side of the gym. She crashed into the padded
walls and lay on the ground, unmoving.
Thinking one opponent down,
the Winter Lord advanced toward Bianca, who stared at it impassively.
Her eyes half-closed, she unleashed a blast of psychic energy.
Lords, being made completely out of snow and ice, had very little
mind to speak of. Psirene remembered most of her psionic abilities
had very little effect against them. However, she did have a psychic
attack which did have an effect, at least on their physical structure.
The Winter Lordís head suddenly exploded as if one had taken a bat
to it, snow sprayed in every direction.
Bereft of its head, and sense
of direction, Psirene began to make short work of the thing. Tapping
into the same dark energies that both Nightbringer and Solanum controlled,
she began to drain away the energy from the monster, and gave it to
Sara. The redhead moaned slightly and began to move. Shaking her head,
she saw what had happened, and quickly rejoined the fray.
to their greatest extent, Solanum jumped onto the back of the beast
and began to tear huge chunks of snow out of it. Suddenly the thing
collapsed from under her, and she could see a third hero had joined
them. With his broadsword, he had literally cut the Snow Lordís legs
out from under him. With very little substance left, the monster was
quickly subdued, and was nothing more than a pile of melting slush.
"Who are you?" demanded Sara.
"I suppose I could ask the same of you,
dear ladies. Sorry for being late with the assistance, but my sword
has this nasty habit of setting off metal detectors." he gave them
a wry smile.
"Still doesnít tell us who you are."
"Iím Valdrich. I
guess you two are Solanum and Psirene."
The two gave him a puzzled
look. "How did you know?"
"The billboard overlooking Kingís Row. Although,
I must admit, Ms. Liberty looks a little out of place in the group."
he chuckled. "I would rather have seen Ms. Moxie or WillowWind, personally."
"So would I." responded Psirene.
"Hey, Webb! How come your kidís here,
and ours are still out there?" the three heard a parent shout.
now weíve got to take care of this before it gets ugly." muttered
Sara. "I donít suppose you saw some clown leave the building, Valdrich?"
"I did, but unfortunately, he was leaving at a very fast rate of speed.
I canít run that fast."
As they walked over to where the parents were,
the argument between the two men had escalated into a fist fight.
Psirene quickly "grabbed" both men.
"Now is not the time nor the place,
gentlemen." she warned gently. "We will find the children, and now,"
she said, scooping up the device. "we have definitive proof of Gamesterís
involvement. No doubt this will weigh even more heavily at his trial."
She smiled warmly at the crowd.
"But first, we need to talk to Jack
for a couple of minutes." Solanum said.
After the interview with the
boy, the three headed out. Solanum made a quick call to the rest of
the team to appraise them of the situation. It turned out Jack had
been initially taken by Piper along with the other students. However,
he managed to break the villainís hold over him. When that had happened,
he said, Gamester himself handed Jack a "present" to give to the parents.
Whether or not he was holding the kids for ransom was not clear, the
part about demanding their money seemed almost an afterthought.
pressed further, Jack couldnít recall where he had been or what exactly
Gamester looked like. "It was dark, and he was kind of shadowy-looking.
Heís keeping them in his playroom. All kinds of cool stuff there."
Psirene had wanted to enter his mind, but thanks to the Psychic Intrusion
Law, she would need his parentís permission to do so. Their attitude
towards the heroes was cool at best, and only after the other parents
threatened him with a full-on beat-down did Dr. Webb relent to allow
them to just talk to his son.
After relaying the information to Beguiler,
the three headed over to join the rest of The Nameless.
across town, the rest of The Nameless were busy tracking down the
missing children. Apparently, they had broken up into smaller groups,
but the heroes were focussing primarily on one.
"It would seem that
my niece and Carlito are not the only superpowered children attending
Sussex Academy. There are at least three others. More than I would
have expected." Beguiler said as he relayed his findings to the team.
"Five kids? Thatís not a lot." scoffed Stingray.
superheroes who do have children hire private tutors to instruct them,
five superpowered children is a very high number. Itís almost too
tempting a target for a villain twisted enough." the Brit explained.
"So, who are the other children?" asked Medusa. She scanned the streets
below from their rooftop vantage point. The trail had somehow gone
cold in Skyway City.
"Solanum said there was Svetlana Romanov, age
twelve, emits radiation. Tyrell Holmes, age eleven, apparently can
manipulate energy. Lastly there is Fiona Duncan, age nine. She regenerates
any wound she recieves."
"How did Sara find this out?"
"She and Psirene
have met Fionaís father. Apparently, heís a registered Hero as well.
The others, I canít say for certain. I informed Director Davies about
the other children. Whether or not their parents are superpowered,
or are even aware of their children being such I cannot say." Beguiler
"It appears from the security footage from Van Briesbockís
that Carlito took the lead." said Nightbringer. "The others overwhelmed
the guards and everyone else. Delilah ripped the safe door off its
hinge and they made off with the diamonds." He held the small display
screen out for the others to see.
"Did anybody see which direction
they ran off in?" asked Vision.
"Towards Boomtown, I think." replied
Nightbringerís typically gloomy scowl turned even gloomier.
"Boomtown is Outcast territory. Even if they do have super powers,
those kids are in a lot of danger."
"Not half as much as you are,
hero!" called out a mocking voice.
The group turned as one to face
the speaker. They found themselves staring at a group of similarly
dressed people; red jackets, black and white tights of various patterns,
black masks across the eyes. The lead individual had a pair of knives
in his hand, which he casually twirled about his fingers.
are?" asked Stingray in the most apathetic tone he could muster.
agents of your destruction, dear boy!" replied the lead man. "But
first, allow me to introduce ourselves. I am Jongleur, this," he indicated
the massive man behind him, "is Strongman. The fellow to my right
twirling those bright blue balls of energy is Jester and this lovely
lady with the cards is Fortuneteller."
The womanís expression became
devious, and she held a card to her forehead.
"I predictÖpain!" she
cried, and tossed the card at The Nameless.
"Everyone duck!" Vision
yelled, and teleported away.
The second the card touched the rooftop,
it exploded, sending the heroes flying in every direction.
AND / OR