April 18, 2011
A figure sat atop one of the newer buildings in Brockton Bay's downtown area, feet dangling over the edge of the rooftop as they kicked the air. Dressed in all black with a splash of red around his neck acting to break up the singular color scheme, his appearance as a cape told a story about his affiliations that many in the Bay would quickly latch onto.
For better or worse.
Regardless, as the rain fell on Greg Veder, he couldn't bring himself to care much about how he might have appeared to any onlookers, not that there were any around. The blond simply sat where he was, overlooking the empty streets below as droplets of water peppered his body, the drizzle more of an annoyance than any actual problem Greg felt like rectifying.
He hadn't even given it a thought in the first place, simply at peace with having something to wear other than what ragged strips remained of his pants from the day before. Really, it wasn't like he had much choice when it came to what he was wearing at all. The costume he had on right now, as well as the black balaclava he used to cover the parts of his face that the skull mask didn't, all came from his inventory and despite everything else Greg had made sure to stock up on, clothing was something he had not thought much about.
Well, apart from accessories for his costume.
Dressing up in the costume that PHO had termed 'Hardkour' would not have been his first option but it's not like he had a great many others to choose from. At the very least, it kept him warm. Although, on further reflection, that might have not much to do as much with the clothes as he thought. (Resistance: Cold + 2)
Regardless of the actual reasons, he was finally both clothed and clean, the latter mainly being achieved by his willingness to sneak into the building he currently sat atop, the city's newest rec center/library that thankfully came equipped with hot showers.
No soap or shampoo, of course, but you couldn't have everything.
Breaking into the recreational center hadn't been his first choice but after engaging in several fights covered in filth along with his own dried blood and remaining entrails, Greg felt that a change was in order. All that had led him to where he was now, sitting atop said aforementioned rec center in the rain with a beat-up old flip phone in hand, mouth area of the balaclava pulled down as he spoke into the device.
"I don't know what to tell you, man…" His voice was as calm as it had been the last time he had called this number, each word was spoken with as little intonation as the one before it. "I went down to the neighborhoods you texted me. Most of them were total duds… I mean, I didn't see anything weird around but that could have just been me."
"Anyway, for the last two, I spotted a couple suspicious looking places. First was a dud too, but for the last one, I snuck in, found some ABB, fought pretty much all of them and then asked them some questions." (Sneaking + 3, Disarm + 2, Parry + 1, Reflexes + 1, Resistance: Blunt Force + 1, Aerokinesis + 2, Resistance: Piercing + 1, Resistance: Slashing +2, Resistance: Electricity + 2, Beginner Combat + 3)
"Sp-" He took in a deep breath, closing his eyes for a moment before opening them again as his friend continued speaking.
"Sparky… it was nothing. A few bruises here and there. At worst, a missing tooth or a black eye." One thing Greg could appreciate about Gamer's Mind was that it seemed to calm everything down. From his heart rate to his blinking and all the way down to his speech, there was a sense of purpose to everything he did and said. Something like that took all the stress and worry out of telling a lie… no matter how big. "No broken bones or anything like that."
"... A missing tooth isn't that serious. 'sides, no one was hurt too bad, anyway." (New Ability Gained: Intimidation, Intimidation + 1, +1 STR, +1 CHA)
Really, it was better that Sparky not know what actually happened, considering his tendency to overreact and fall into a rant. "Everything went as good as you would expect. Both were duds, though."
"They didn't know anything important," Greg replied, pausing for a moment to stare up at the cloud-covered sky. The blond rolled his eyes, the action almost invisible behind the dark tint of the goggles. "Of course I used Observe on them. I'm not brain-dead." (Observe + 2)
"...Funny," the blond replied as the voice on the other end finished speaking. "Listen, Sparks, I ran all over the Downtown Coast this morning looking for ABB (+1 SPD, + 3 Acrobatics, + 2 Aerokinesis)," Greg continued speaking, voice still level. "I would have checked the Docks South but that's on the other side of town. Just give me what you can find for down here."
"... Just… Okay. Just give me what you can. I know it's not easy but whatever you can find… I'll take it." From what he knew, Sparky had been scouring for clues on PHO and several local crime watch websites, hunting for any locations or areas in the city where ABB presence was high. News of the bombing being ABB-related had managed to get out overnight, likely due to the public noting how ABB territory was free from the attacks. Right now, the whole city was lit up with reports. Knowing where ABB territory was wouldn't get him anywhere, either, because that still made up a good quarter of the city. He didn't have the time or means to comb such a massive area.
There was another silence, Greg nodding his head for a second or two. "Thanks, man."
He hung up the phone, dropping the brick of a device into one of his chest pockets without paying much attention to it, his attention still focused on the city in front of him. As empty as the streets were this Tuesday morning, apart from the occasional distant explosion or the fading whines of multiple emergency sirens, one could be at fault for thinking Brockton deserted.
Unfortunately for Greg, that also applied to any visible criminal activity.
The ABB, in particular.
|ABB II: Big Trouble in Little China
Details: Locate five ABB hideouts. Failure if not completed before ABB I.
Success: +2500 XP, + 2 Observe
Bonus Objective: Enter each one without being detected by its residents.
ABB III: Kung Fury
Details: Defeat 40 ABB members above Lvl 10. Failure if not completed before ABB I.
Success: +15000 XP, [Enemy] reputation with the Azn Bad Boys
Bonus Objective: Use no weapons.
ABB IV: Explosive Information
Details: Uncover information about the creation or source of the ABB's Tinker bombs.
Success: +2000 XP
Failure: Destruction of Brockton Bay, Death
Bonus Objective: Obtain the information from a willing source and without coercion.
When he had first woken up on that rooftop early this morning, Greg had immediately set out on that vaguely-defined mission. After nearly three hours of running around the Commercial district in the dead of night, he was forced to admit to himself that he wasn't getting anywhere.
No, that he couldn't get anywhere.
At least not on his own.
The next step on his mind was making a call. That required acquiring a new phone, or at the very least, a functioning one. Considering that it had been a little after three in the morning and less than 10 hours after the city had been subject to a mass bombing, buying anything wouldn't have been an option.
So, Greg turned to the only other available choice.
Part of him had to wonder when he had become so blase that rifling through the pockets of a dead person for their usable items barely made him flinch. The other part of him had quickly shut that part up with the reminder that he'd been hauling around a headless corpse for the better part of a month now. A third part of him idly noted that he really should take care of that thing sooner or later.
Greg shook his head, letting out a frustrated sigh as his mind began to wander again. I seriously need a plan. The blond's eyes tracked over the smoke-filled skyline simply out of boredom, the expression under his mask almost completely flat. I've done nothing but… His hands tightened in his pockets. Nothing but waste time with stupid, low-level grunts.
A few moments later, he winced, eyes shutting as a faint sound hit his ears, followed by another one… and then a third before finally petering out, the noises incredibly familiar even despite their distance from him. Another one.
In seconds, another plume of smoke began to rise into the sky in the distance, darkening the already gray sky just a bit more. Another set of bombs going off somewhere in the city and he couldn't do anything to stop them. Greg set his jaw, his eyes oddly cold behind his mask as he glanced back out over Brockton's nearly empty streets.
I can't just keep going at it like this, he continued, mind elsewhere as he returned to his previous line of thought. Sparky is helping me out right now, trying to find where they are, but even then...
The ABB needs to go down. All of them.
Especially Oni Lee. The warmth in his chest burned cold under the influence of Gamer's Mind and Greg wouldn't have had it any other way. Focused anger was better than the uncontrolled stuff, when it really came down to it.
He rose, pulling himself up to a sitting position with nothing more than a flexing of his leg muscles as they remained flush against the top of the wall. This just isn't gonna work.
It really wasn't.
Greg knew that there was still far too much of the ABB for him to take down the way he was. It wasn't impossible, though. It couldn't be, after all.
None of his quests were impossible.
That didn't mean they weren't hard as hell, though. The blond spat over the edge, tasting the remnants of congealed blood once again as the red-tinted loogie hurtled down. The mission was simple by definition; Take down the Azn Bad Boys.
It was also extremely vague, by any definition of the word. What did such a thing even entail? HIt was also something that Greg had mused over for far too long before seeking assistance.
The two quests that came after that one, thanks to information that Sparky provided, helped clarify what the first one needed from him.
Still, it left far too much open for him to consider it simple.
He couldn't take down a criminal empire with simple fisticuffs and Greg wasn't stupid enough to assume he could. If he wanted to get anywhere at all, he needed a plan.
Greg Veder blinked slowly, glancing down at his breast pocket in slight confusion.
Blue eyes widened slightly as he realized what it was, the vibration snapping Greg out from his thoughts and the increasingly over-complicated plans therein. Before the phone could buzz again, the blond pulled it out from his pocket and noting the familiar number on the back screen, flipped the device open and opened the new set of text messages he just received.
Seconds after reading the series of messages Sparky sent, a slight frown formed on his face, the blond slightly annoyed with what he just read. After a moment, the frown faded to be replaced with a flat stare as Greg let out a sigh, pulling himself to a standing position on the very edge of the rooftop. "Docks South, here I come."
16 Miles West of Winslow High
Squatting on the edge of another rooftop wasn't where he'd envisioned himself roughly an hour later, Greg Veder passively noted, the slightest of frowns on his face. No, based on what he had been looking forward to, he had assumed that whatever he'd be doing at this point in time would be a lot more… physical.
Instead, he held still in an awkward pose, knees just below his chin, doing nothing but casting long glances around himself.
Things were quiet, the blond could say that much. The neighborhood was almost too calm considering what had been going on for hours in the rest of the city. Even as he continued his watch, searching for clues, the streets directly below him remained quiet and empty, free of everything but parked cars, litter and growing puddles of rainwater.
For the last twenty-two minutes, nothing had happened to draw his attention. No one frequented the sidewalks of this area, half the buildings consisting of run-down condos and the other half nothing more than old office buildings.
Most of which were in desperate need of an owner.
Greg couldn't bring himself to care about the dilapidated state of the buildings though, his mind too focused on the growing frustration he could feel at not being able to actually find what he came down here for. Ten more minutes, he thought to himself. Ten more minutes on lookout and I'm checking out the next address.
In all honesty, Greg doubted if he could bring himself to be patient for even half of that. After all, why waste time waiting in a clean neighborhood when he could go somewhere else crawling with ABB? In fact…
Why am I even waiting in the first place? Greg thought, rising to his feet with a look of annoyance behind his mask. The blond pulled out his borrowed phone to glance at the time, frown only increasing as he noted it. 1:35? He grunted at that, the sound barely audible. Definitely wasted too much time here.
He turned to leave, already stepping off the edge and onto the graveled surface that covered the majority of the rooftop when he heard it.
The sound of an engine as it drew ever closer.
The blond stepped back onto the edge and dropped into another squat to prevent himself from being spotted before looking down below, eyes narrowing as a gray sedan with peeling paint came to a halt at the end of the street. Dried blood fell from his gloves in flakes as Greg clenched his fists, attention focused on the car as it came to a hard stop in front of a series of abandoned storefronts, parking behind a derelict car.
His eyes narrowed further, almost into slits, as four men of distinctly Asian descent stepped out of the worn vehicle, all of them with a single metal briefcase in each hand. Fists clenched even tighter as Greg thought to himself, I wonder what those could be.
Four heads turned from side to side, anxiously scanning both ends of the street for possible onlookers. None of them taking the opportunity to look up, they quickly began to scurry over to the building just a little further down from where they parked, a two-story office building just as run-down as many of the others on this same block.
Blue eyes locked onto the back of the biggest one in a sweat-stained wife beater, his skin also much darker than that the other three. [Observe.]
|Observe Lvl Up!
|Si Taksin Lvl 12
ABB Grunt Enforcer
Member of the ABB for over four years, Si Taksin has secured his niche in the ABB working as a collector for Lung's protection money, alongside many of his brothers. Possessing a viciousness that has served him well in the ABB, Taksin has been known to look forward to breaking bones in a brawl. Possesses several favorite pairs of brass knuckles.
His expression shifted behind his mask as the four men shut the door behind them, his eyes never leaving the building as Greg began to make his move. Let's do this.
|ABB II: Big Trouble in Little China
2/5 Hideouts Discovered.
Entering the building was easy, really.
Skittering over the side of the building like one of those old comic-book characters from the 90s was trivial as his Surface Adhesion took away any real effort it would normally take to scale the building. Forcing open a window on the upper floor, though?
That was a bit trickier to do without drawing attention. Still, compared to what he had to do next, it was pretty simple.
Greg crawled over the edge of the window, careful not to make any noise as he lifted his lower half over the windowsill and let himself drop to all fours on the ground. Pulling himself back into a standing position, the blond took a moment to glance around the room and could only frown as he took in the damp darkness of what was likely once a private office.
The smell of mold was almost overpowering, the peeling paint on the wail and fallen foam ceiling tiles giving the room even more of a decrepit feel. For a moment, Greg turned his face away, raising his arm to block his nose from the raw stench of it. The blond fought the urge to gag, shutting his mouth instead as he grit his teeth and held his breath. As if I didn't already need a reason to hate this place.
He could hear them below his feet, several voices. Far more than four, he could tell that much, almost trying to talk over one another. He couldn't help but wonder how they could talk to each other, let alone breathe, in this crapsack of a building without hazmat suits.
At the very least, the other building he had invited himself into — at least, the one that actually had any significant ABB presence — had been nothing like this, the ABB actually bothering to keep that safehouse livable, if still disgustingly trash-laden. Whatever the difference was with this building, Greg didn't know and frankly, he couldn't bring himself to care. Not like I'm gonna be here long, anyway. Shaking his head, Greg stepped around the old-looking metal office desk, the build-up of rust and grime on the thing serving as a signifier to how truly ancient it was.
Rather than dwell on any of that, though, Greg continued to creep forward, walking on his heels as he carefully made his way to the dilapidated, water-damaged relic of a door. Carefully twisting the corroded iron doorknob, the blond fought the urge to wince at the loud, screeching groan the hinges made as the door creaked open.
He held his position, waiting for a small army of ABB gangsters to come rushing up to check out the strange noise… only to be surprised when nothing of the sort happened.
|Sneaking Lvl Up!
Did they… Greg blinked slowly, eyes scanning what little he could see of the hallway from where he stood. The voices from downstairs came through far more clearly through the open door, allowing the teen to glean even more from their conversation, though the multiple languages involved complicated his ability to understand the arguments taking place. Did they not hear that?
Realizing that they apparently hadn't, the blond gave a mental shrug and proceeded out into the hallway in a crouch. He glanced from side to side, frowning as he took in more of his environment, his survey assisted by the sunlight coming from a window at the far end of the hallway and a single solitary light bulb flickering weakly in the middle of the corridor. The hallway was in nearly as bad a state as the private office, the ceiling tiles hanging loose and openly gaping in several areas to expose the building's damp insulation. The walls were in similar shape, massive holes in the drywall, unpainted swaths of wall and white dust coating various surfaces, including the old dark carpeting that lined the floor.
Greg shook his head again, tilting his head to the side as he continued carefully creeping forwards, each step adding another slight creak to the constant din of the office itself. Fu- The blond shook his head and kept moving, not wanting to waste any time complaining about something he couldn't fix anyway.
Even with his best efforts at moving quietly, he was bound to make some sort of noise and with the office floors constantly creaking even with the carpet, he had no other choice but to continue on his current path as he stealthed towards the stairs. As he got closer and closer, he could hear the voices far more clearly, now able to make out individual voices instead of a large mass talking at once. They mainly spoke English, interspersed with snatches of a few other ethnic languages Greg did not understand, each one of their voices bearing various level of accent; enough to leave Greg confused as to what they were actually saying.
At best, Greg thought he could make out almost five or six different voices speaking in hurried tones over the same topic with several others chiming in every few seconds or so with something that Greg couldn't really make out.
So, he began, already going over what information he could understand, expression a stony grimace behind his skull mask and balaclava, I'm up against… anywhere between… His frown deepened for a moment as he gave the matter some thought, Anywhere between five to ten different guys. Best scenario, only half of them have any weapons. At worst, all of them have guns.
The blond let out a quiet sigh, the sound barely audible to his own ears over the noise from below. Most likely case, at least two of them have guns, a couple more will have a pipe or a bat and all of them have pocket knifes. Maybe an axe or two, like in Aleph kung-fu movies. His fists tightened at his sides, Greg relaxing his fingers before repeating the action several times more, his frown growing.
After a long moment, Greg's face returned to a blank expression as he glanced over at the banister. So, like before… move fast, hit hard, and make sure at least one of th-
The thought died on his lips as a chill went down his back, something in the back of his mind screaming a warning. The blond's eyes widened and he suddenly pulled back, ducking to the side as he followed familiar instincts. Wha-
The blond spun on his heels with preternatural speed, twisting around the object that he could tell was aimed directly at his head, eyes widening at the sight of a rusted metal pipe as it passed by his head. Performing a perfect 180 in less than a second, Greg snapped his gaze up, blue eyes locking onto the shocked face of a man that looked the perfect picture of an ABB member, the tattoos on his bare chest marking his allegiance for all to see.
For a second, they locked eyes and the world seemed to freeze, neither of them moving as Greg's thoughts barrelled through his mind like a stampeding horde, taking into account several factors in an instant, including the fact that the shirtless gangster now stood directly between him and the path downstairs. It was almost a whole third of a second later before Greg finally settled on a single, yet deceptively simple, plan.
Take him down hard. Take him down fast. Take him down quietly.
His first punch was wild and thoughtless, but undeniably fast. A gloved fist rushed out, smashing into the thug's unprotected jaw with a force just shy of bone-breaking. The man let out a gurgling scream for less than a second as he reeled back in pain, hands in the middle of rising to cradle his face as the pipe in his hands fell from his grasp.
One hand snatched the weapon out of the air at the same moment as Greg moved in to finish the job. His other hand snapped out in a fist, sinking into the stumbling criminal's rib cage before he could make any more noise, the action forcing the air out of the man's lungs in a forceful gasp. The tattooed thug's eyes widened as he doubled over, folding onto Greg's fist and leaving himself completely unprepared for the next strike as a length of pipe met his temple with all the force the teen could deliver in an instant.
The thug fell back, groaning loudly as blood spilled from the open gash on the side of his head. Unable to stop what he already put into action, Greg could only watch as the man sent back by his last blow didn't stop, unable to halt his own backwards motion.
There was complete silence as the shirtless ABB member landed at the foot of the stairs.
Complete and utter silence.
Greg chose to indulge in that for a moment, allowing himself a single thought. Okay. Two out of three, then. Stealth missions suck, anyway.
The blond chose that moment to follow the same path, vaulting over the banister to hit the floor in a classic superhero landing. Greg took the moment between landing and standing up to survey the room full of angry Asian men of various ethnicities staring at him with shocked and angry expressions, each and every single one of them armed with some type of weapon.
The blond also took that same moment to note that he had been wrong on his earlier estimate of people in the room. Wrong by just about half, I think, he mused, utterly too calm at this very moment.
Staring down the room full of about roughly twenty armed and angry hardened criminals, Greg Veder took a moment to nod calmly and roll his shoulders, the taunt already spilling out of his mouth before he could stop it. "Before we get to the fun stuff, show of hands… how many of you want to avoid an ass-kicking by just telling me what the deal is with the bombs? Anyone? You in the front?"
The thug in question, a scrawny man with wiry muscles and a penchant for gold chains, raised his hand.
It had a gun in it.
"Making me work for it, huh?" Greg allowed himself an eager smile behind his mask, the blond already pulling on the well of power that fueled his Reinforcement. "Even better."
|Greg Lucas Veder|
|Age: 15 (and three-quarters!)|
|Title: Ninja - In Training|
|WIS||18 (-70%)||CHA||24 (+9) (-90%)|
Catch Your Breath
Developed Mind (1/10) [Ranked Ability]
Growing Will (1/10) [Ranked Ability]
Cast from hit points. Yeah, it's one of those skills.
Cost: 20 Will, 40 HP
Subskill: Layer Reinforcement
Cost: 2 Will every 5 seconds.
Surface Adhesion Lv 11
You ever wanted to be Spider-Man? Don't lie. Of course you did.
This skill allows you to stick to walls and hang on to ceilings and vertical surfaces without a risk of falling. While not denying gravity, this allows you to adhere to surfaces unaided.
Cost: 2 MP per second
Structural Analysis Lv 13
Judging the concept of creation, Hypothesizing the basic structure...
Grants the ability to gain a rudimentary understanding of the internal structure and functional design of simple, non-living objects.
Cost: 2 mp per square half-meter of object.
Subskill: Physical Analysis
Conceptually do twice as much damage with a weapon. Broken?
What's that mean?
Boosts weapon damage x 2.
Length of charge increases by 1/2 second for every level. (8.5 sec)
Cost: 8 MP
Acrobatics Lv 23
Intimidation Lv 2 (XP: 10%)