Kev Adsett
A programming portfolio


I run a (semi) regular superhero role-playing session (we play Mutants and Masterminds by Green Ronin). After each session, I try to write up what's happened in a more creative way, both for posterity, and because it's really cool for the players to read back in more of a story-telling fashion, the decisions they've made to help the story along.

Issue 1, chapter 1: First Impressions

Each of the men standing in the little room received a mysterious note over the past couple of weeks with only a location and a time on. The note has an official-looking government header, but other than that, there was no further information.

Although suspicious, each of the motly crew had their individual reasons for hoping that this wasn't a hoax. Now gathered in the unremarkable flat above a small shop, at the time specified, they are greeted by two people. One of them, a stern, buzz cut-sporting man, confident in a dark suit and standing at ease with his hands clasped behind his back, the other a young woman with white hair tied into a pony tail, wearing cargo trousers and some band tee-shirt with a punky looking logo. Her hands are wrapped in dark biker-style gloves. She's sitting lazily in the alcove of the room's window, looking out onto the street.

The man looks at each of the assemblage in turn and says,

"Good. I hadn't expected so many. Now I'm sure you're wondering who I am, and why you've been summoned here. There will be time for you to ask questions at the end of this briefing. I am Colonel James Piker, and this here is Switchboard." He gestures towards the woman.

"Hey" she says brightly, with a smile.

He continues, "I'm sure you're aware that the reputation of costumed vigilantes and masked 'heroes' isn't at the highest point it's ever been."

Everyone gathered is painfully aware of how hard it has been to keep trying to fight the good fight in the light of recent legal battles between heroes and non-heroes over damage to the cities, and to their people, whose tolerance for caped crusades has plummeted over the last couple of months.

"There are members of this government who believe that we could benefit from having a few more heroes around. The public needs to see that too. Lord knows the rate of super-crime is on the up, and non-powered law enforcement just don't have the resources to cope.

"You have been summoned here because you each possess unique gifts and abilities that can help further this cause. The Death's Head gang, a group of low-life thugs, junkies and dealers, have been causing an unusually high volume of chaos around the city. Usually these punks are brought in for vandalism and petty theft, but over the last two weeks they've stepped up their game. Arson, burglary, assaults, muggings and even a link to a murder. We need to know why. We've had no luck getting anyone on the inside, and being a CI in the Death's Head is a suicide mission for them.

"This is where you step in. We need information and we have none. Take to the streets and find a group of Death's Heads. Find out what they're up to. I'm confident you can handle it." He pauses briefly, before changing tack.

"Now. Introductions: You met Switchboard earlier; her talent is for communication." The woman stands up, takes her gloves off and says,

"Alright?" She has a disarming air about her as she moves across the room, shaking hands with each man in turn. Each man, except Piker, who she's clearly already met.

"That's better" she says, but this time, her lips don't move. Each man looks around, uncertain as to whether or not anyone else heard the voice. From the looks on everyone else's faces, it's evident that all present have heard. "It only works if we've had physical contact. They call me Switchboard 'cos I can connect people like this. If you need to communicate with anyone else in your team, but you're not nearby, just call out to me with your thoughts and let me know who you need. I'll hear, don't worry. I'm a walking conference call. It's not the coolest power in the world, but if it helps beat the bad guys, then it's all cool by me. It also means I don't get punched in the face by super bad dudes, so you know, bonus!" She winks.

The unusual cohort briefly introduces themselves: Rough Justice goes first; a tough looking man who seems disinterested in what the rest of the group have to say. Then comes Cass: his full first name is too long for anyone to catch – he's clearly not from round here; he's a tall man, and an intense face peers from above an out-of-date suit. Next up is Fade: a mysterious and quietly powerful man, who appears unwilling to divulge too much personal information. Tracer is next to introduce himself, tooled up to the teeth with useful looking gadgets and assorted items. Finally, Sledgehammer, a giant of a man whose sheer bulk seems matched by his lack of intellect, offers a gargantuan handshake by way of introduction.

"You won't find it too hard to find members of the Death's Head", Piker states, "they're not organised enough to have a uniform, but they all sport the skull motif in one way or another, which should be enough to track down some of them."

Piker radios for a large vehicle to transport the group to the rougher side of town, but Rough Justice has already left on his motorbike. Cass fixes his gaze on Piker and asks why Switchboard is needed when they clearly have access to radio communication.

"Two reasons", says Piker. "One, there's a lot of interference in the area you're headed, making traditional comms an unreliable choice. Two, stealth: you don't need to say a word to be heard, and you can relay messages to each other and back here."

Seemingly content with this explanation for now, the group fall back to an awkward silence, and presently a large black Hummer-style car pulls up outside, and those men still left in the room bundle in. As they travel through town, the state of the streets begin to deteriorate; boarded up windows, junkies and thugs skulking in back alleys, and a fearful law-abiding populous hurring on their way with single-minded purpose. Shortly, the driver pulls up at the side of the road, telling the group he can't go any further, that they can handle it from here.

As Rough Justice makes his way through town on his bike, he too notices the quality of living around the area dip, and as he cruises through the back-streets looking for sign of the gang, he hears a commotion coming from an alley.

A thug wearing a leather jacket emblazoned with a white skull has got a man pinned by the shoulders to the wall of the alley, whilst a second, mohawked thug lands punch after punch into the victim's torso.

"You ladies wanna play?" calls Rough Justice into the alley.

As Fade, Tracer, Cass and Sledgehammer walk through the streets, they pass surprisingly few people. Those they do pass, avoid eye contact and hurry past with a nervousness which is infectious. They pass an empty basketball court, and a few more derelict buildings, without incident.

"I'm going see if I can get a get a better view…" says Fade, and promptly disappears. "…from up here", he continues from the top of a nearby building. A smoky purple and black residue in the rough form of Fade curls and dissipates from where he previously stood. As Fade surveys the surrounding area from his new vantage point, he hears a commotion from a nearby alley, followed by the words,

"You ladies wanna play?"

"Over there", Fade calls to the others on the ground, pointing to the alley, before disappearing again.

"BAD GUYS", thunders Sledgehammer, before running towards the alley with a speed that belies his bulky mass. Tracer and Cass look at each other briefly, before sprinting after the huge man.

Rough Justice swings for both thugs at once, dazing Leather Jacket with the force of his blow, but Mohawk is ready for him, and dodges out the way. The thug's victory is short-lived, as Fade coalesces into being behind him, and grabs the thug and begins to suffocate him. Sledgehammer skids into the alley, and barely slowing pace, launches a fist into the Leather Jacket's stomach, launching him backwards into a nearby dumpster. He slumps, unconscious, into the dent his body has made in the bin.

All at once, Tracer and Cass turn into the alley and four more Death's Head burst from a door leading into the alley. One of the new arrivals is taller and more muscular than the others, wearing a skull-motif bandanna and carrying an air of cockiness absent from the smaller thugs. He takes up position behind the others, shouting at his apparent subordinates, urging them on into the fight.

Two of the thugs, one with a shaved head and goatie, and the other sporting corn-rows and dark glasses pull pistols out from their trousers and each lets off a shot, one at Rough Justice, and one at Sledgehammer. Neither shot finds its mark, the gun-wielders aiming too wildly in the heat of the moment. Rough Justice rolls out of the way and tenses briefly before launching himself at the three goons in an attempt to take out more than one of them at once. He misjudges slightly as Goatie takes the full force of the punch, and staggers backwards dazed and nearly stumbling to the ground. The other two thugs flinch but the punch never makes it as far as them.

Meanwhile, Fade has started to emit more of the mysterious purple-and-black smoke, surrounding himself and the Mohawk-thug, whose attempts to escape Fade's grasp are noticeably weakened by whatever it is that the smoke is doing to him.

Sledgehammer, offended by being shot at, bellows "NO SHOOT IF NO ARM" and launches himself at Corn Rows, grabbing the arm holding the gun, and pulling it clean away from the thug's body. Corn Rows screams before he flickers out of conciousness, collapsing to the floor with a spasm.

The thugs recoil in horror at the fate that has befallen their comrade, their faces disclosing the fear that now sweeps through them.

The third thug, a squat man wearing a leather jacket over the top of a skull-teeshirt and jeans, squeals and pulls his own gun out, firing a shot at Tracer, who doesn't even have to dodge, the squat thug easily missing in his panic. Tracer retaliates by throwing his bolas at the man, but he misjudges the throw and the bolas lands wide.

The man in the suit, Cass, still stands at the edge of the alley, watching the scene unfold with calculating eyes, while Fade still suffocates the weakened Mohawk thug, who is still struggling, but his movements have gotten less frantic as the man slips towards unconsciousness.

Sledgehammer, who has just dodged a shot from the Bandanna-wearing ringleader, bounds over to the man and delivers a mighty clap to the sides of his head. The ringleader, thick-muscled though he is, doesn't stand a chance, crumpling under the blow, his eyes rolling back into his head as he falls to the floor.

With the ringleader down, the team quickly dispatch Goatie and the squat thug, leaving Fade's struggling victim the only conscious member of their cohort.

"Switchboard, can you connect me to Piker?", vocalises fade internally, feeling silly, half expecting her to not reply.

"Sorry, buddy he's not down with the whole mental communication thing, but he's here, what do you need?", comes the reply in Switchboard's voice, as clear as if they were right next to each other.

"Do you want us to send back these goons for interrogation?"

After a pause, Fade hears Switchboard's voice again. "No can do Fade, sorry. Something about plausible deniability. You're on your own with the Spanish Inquisition act".

"Looks like it's up to us to get this info ourselves." Fade relays to the rest of the group, and then tightens his grip on the Mohawk thug. "Where is the Death's Heads' base of operations?", he demands of his captive.

"I… I'm not telling you anything" protests the Mohawk, weakly.

"Allow me", Intones Cass calmly, stepping over the unconscious bodies strewn about the alley to the two men. Fixing his steely glare on the thug, Cass reaches forward mentally, prying into the man's consciousness, compelling the man to comply, comply, comply.

The Mohawk thug stops struggling, and becomes calm, and lucid. "Where is your gang's base?", repeats Cass.

"It's at the courts" the thug calmly articulates.

"Which courts?" Asks Tracer, before adding to the rest of the team "It could be law courts, tennis courts… we need specifics!"

The thug replies, "The basketball courts, but nobody will be there now."

Good enough for me, says Fade, allowing his grip on the now-still thug to render him unconscious. Fade unceremoniously drops the Mohawk thug to the floor, as Rough Justice enters the building previously occupied by their failed ambushers…

Issue 1, chapter 2: Street Life

Rough Justice, having searched the now empty flat that had moments previously contained some of the now-dispatched members of the Death's Head gang, is getting frustrated. His search has revealed nothing more than a typical gang hide-out. Various skull graffiti and imagery lay about the place; scratched into tables, and sprayed onto walls. His search exposes very little: a television, some spray paint, evidence of petty drugs use, some playing cards, but nothing that seemed to help identify the reason behind the recent surge in Death's Head activity. His actions getting ever more erratic and violent, searching turns to vandalism as he vents his ire at finding no clues. He starts throwing tables and chairs over, breaking objects in his path. He picks up one of the cans of white spray paint from one corner of the room, and sprays a sad face with a single tear onto every skull he lays eyes on.

"Stop wasting time" Cass's voice cuts through the noise of the destruction from the doorway, pausing Rough Justice in his tracks. Sulking, RJ pushes past Cass and mounts his motorbike without a word, speeding off away from the group.

"WAIT" booms Sledgehammer and runs after the man before anyone has a chance to stop him.

Remembering the information they had gathered so far, Tracer heads towards the basketball courts with the intention of staking them out, waiting for the seemingly inevitable return of the gang. Without warning, Fade walks across to Cass, placing a hand on his shoulder, the both of them dematerialising in an instant, a strange purplish-black after-image rapidly dissipating into the air.

The two men appear on one of the roofs overlooking the basketball courts, four storeys high. Disorientated, Cass looks around, realising what has happened.

"Never do that again." He intones coolly to Fade before walking casually off the roof.


The wind rushing past him, and the noises of the city in the late afternoon had done much to help calm Rough Justice as he rode through the streets, resigned to the fact that the large man, Sledgehammer, was following behind, and mildly annoyed that he was able to keep up with the bike. He had decided to refocus his attention; there were no clues to be found at the small hideout he'd investigated earlier, but someone in this city must know something. He was determined to find out what it was, and so had resolved to seek out some of the local bars and pubs for information. He had visited a couple of pubs with little result, but soon came across one that seemed a little more dark and dilapidated than any that he'd seen so far. 'Breakers Bar', the pub sign announced, hanging loosely from its one good hinge. Parking his motorbike nearby, he dismounts and enters the dingy pub, Sledgehammer at his side.

As they enter the pub, the few regulars who are already drinking look up, and quickly down again. Clearly they have seen enough strange people enter to mind their own business. Both men walk up to the bar, where a large man is polishing glasses with a rag that seems dirtier than the glasses are.

"I buy you beer", Sledgehammer says to his friend, depositing nearly $50 in various notes and coins from his trouser pocket onto the surface of the bar. The barman's eyes widen briefly before picking out the right change for two beers. As he hands over the beers to the men, Rough Justice asks,

"You seen anything unusual round here lately?"

"What kind of unusual?" Comes the unhelpful reply, "We get all sorts in here."

"Those skull punks, have they caught your eye?"

"Skull punks", repeats Sledgehammer, nodding encouragingly.

"I might have, I might not have. Like I say, we see a lot of folk come and go in here."

"Perhaps this might help jog your memory," states Rough Justice, picking one of the higher denomination notes from the pile of cash still resting atop the bar. The barman takes the note, folding it into his back pocket, ready to reveal what he could remember:

"Yeah it's coming back to me now, there was a bunch of them in here a couple of weeks ago. There was this little guy with a thin moustache doing most of the talking. He had protection though: two big guys – strong, silent types, ya know? – by his side. They was talking to some hooded guy, I didn't get to see his face."

Satisfied with this information, Rough Justice contacts the other members of his group ("Switchboard, patch me up to the others"). He relays the description of the small man and his cronies to the others, as Sledgehammer looks around the pub, a confused look playing across his face, clearly not quite comprehending their new method of communication. The men finish their drinks, and leave the pub, ready to head back to the courts.


Tracer leaps to catch Cass in his sudden decent, but is too slow, leaving Cass crashing toward the floor, but he lands gracefully, as though he'd only fallen 3 feet, not 40. Without a word, he gets up and dusts himself down before walking to the bus stop opposite the court, where he sits down, waiting with patience for the gang to turn up.

With the decision to blend into the background, Cass has reminded the others of the need to remain out of sight until the Death's Head gang arrive, and so Tracer nimbly scales one of the closest buildings and twists himself, spider-like, to view the court below from the shadow of the underside of a balcony, 25 foot above the scene. Fade dutifully perches on the ledge of the rooftop, waiting.

As expected, it's not long before the gang of thugs arrive; the black cars pull up and men of all sorts, unified only by the skull motifs displayed proudly on their clothes and skin, start piling out, into the court, unaware of the three men watching their every move intently.

The gang are led by a small man with a thin moustache, flanked on both sides by much larger, muscular, mean looking men. All three onlookers know this is the gang's leader, both from the description psychically relayed to them by Rough Justice, and from the position the man takes up in the court, sat upon a makeshift throne of junk, clearly presiding over the others. The rest of the gang stand or sit casually about, making conversation, laughing and joking (although none of the three watching men are close enough to hear about what).

Before any of the men are able to act upon the scene, the sound of a motorbike engine punctures the air, and Rough Justice rides into view with his characteristic devil-may-care attitude, sledgehammer running along beside him, easily keeping pace with the motorised vehicle.

Dismounting the motorbike, Rough Justice walks casually to the entrance of the court and calls to the nearest members of the gang,

"Any of you ladies got a ball?"

Five of the men in the court round upon Rough Justice, jeering and confident on their home turf. Aggressively the men tell RJ to leave in no uncertain terms. Sledgehammer takes immediate issue with people bullying his best friend, and as a warning shot, picks up the black car nearest to the entrance and throws it over the heads of the five men.

Unfortunately for them, three of the Death's Head who were standing further back in the court are struck with the full force of the thrown car, and are knocked down like bowling pins. They won't be getting back up.

With the sudden commotion, the remaining members of the Death's Head are on full alert, and the three men, Cass, Fade and Tracer, realise their stakeout has been for nothing.

"GET THEM!", the little boss man screams, with a surprisingly commanding voice for his size.

RJ runs at the nearest group of thugs, arm outstretched, and delivers an almighty clothesline to the first man, bowling him over, his head hitting the ground with a sickening thwack. His momentum continues and a second man goes down in the same manner. By this point RJ has slowed a little from the impact, and the third man, although receiving a blow, is only dazed by it.

Tracer leaps from his balcony hiding place, landing in front of one of the thugs, whilst Fade realises that if he can grab the boss, who is still perched on his throne, and bring him away from the fight, then he can get the information they need quickly and easily. He teleports to what he hopes is right behind the small man, but misjudges the distance, and ends up ten meters from his target, too far to run up without being spotted. so he teleports back to his original position to rethink his tactic.

In amongst the fighting, Sledgehammer, also aware that the primary target here is the small angry man, makes a run for him in an attempt to grab the man, but one of his bodyguards jumps out in front of his ward quicker than Sledgehammer has time to react and he grabs the wrong man.

Meanwhile, the other thugs, seeing that the group means business, have drawn their pistols and starting shooting at those nearest them. Tracer takes a hit, but to everyone's surprise but his own, the bullet's impact is completely absorbed by the armour tracer is wearing, negating the bullet's effect. Another shot rings out and this time thuds into Sledgehammer, who doesn't notice as the bullet crumples and falls away, unable to penetrate the man's impossibly tough skin. A third shot hits Rough Justice, who doesn't seem to have such impenetrable defences. The bullet tears through his shoulder, causing RJ to grimace, but he doesn't seem fazed, retaliating on the nearest thug to him, slapping him down to the floor with a ferocity that leaves the man out cold.

Sledgehammer, finally realising that he has grabbed the wrong person, slams his head into that of the captured man, breaking the bones of his face, his blood covering the face of both men. Sledgehammer, enraged, tosses the man aside and kicks another thug in the back with all his might. The thug bends the wrong way backwards and is sent flying across the court.

The gang's leader, again in an unexpectedly commanding voice, shouts to his guards to follow him, and makes to run off out of the court, but Fade, having now recalculated the distance to the leader of the gang, sees what is about to happen and this time materialises accurately behind the leader, grabs him and disappears, reappearing back on the roof.

"BRING HIM TO ME", hears Fade in his mind, but this is different from the Switchboard-enabled psychic communication he had been getting used to. There's an intrusiveness to this communication that isn't entirely comfortable, and he realises with a start that Cass, who hasn't moved from the bus stop opposite, is staring right at him. The psychic voice had been that of Cass.

The remaining conscious or alive thugs are thinning now, but one of the remaining thugs, having seen that Rough Justice can be shot, aims his gun at RJ and pulls the trigger, but Tracer has seen the shot coming and dives into its path, absorbing the bullet's kinetic energy entirely.

Fade and the struggling boss man re-materialise in the street next to Cass, but the small man commands at the top of his lungs,


Surprised, Fade's grip on the man slips slightly. Taking advantage of the moment, the man makes to run but suddenly his strength leaves him. Fade has placed a hand on the man's head and the familiar purple and black wisps coalesce around the man, penetrating his eyes, nostrils and mouth, which is open in a silent scream. Suddenly the man goes limp and Fade releases his grip. The man slumps to the floor, his skin deathly pale, his eyes still open and his little chest rising and falling erratically. Cass shoots Fade a withering look and grabs the debilitated man by the ankles, dragging him unceremoniously back to the court where the one-sided fight is drawing to a close.

Rough Justice, who the others had seen get shot, was now back in the fight, and the bullet wound on his shoulder somehow gone, leaving a little blood on his clothes, but no other trace. Easily dispatching the last thug, Sledgehammer seems to have calmed a little from his earlier fury, seeing that his pal is OK.

Having finished the fight, and wanting no part in the after-party, RJ walks back over to his bike, whilst Tracer moves over to the car that had brought the Leader and his body guards to investigate.

Issue 1, chapter 3: A Meeting of Minds

The bodies of the unconscious and deceased members of the Death's Head gang lay scattered about the court as Fade moves between the dead, calling upon his powers to bestow upon them new life, before their journey to Beyond is done. Cass, seeing what is happening, grabs Fade by the shoulder and proclaims the wrongness of Fades deeds, knowing too well what a life cheated of death feels like.

"These souls have already passed the test of the Heart in the hall of Ma'at. Their judgement is done and they must make their way now to the Land of Two Fields."

"You have your beliefs," replies Fade coolly, "and I have mine. I can reach these souls, they are not yet lost. We have murdered these men, and I will not walk away from that while they may yet live." Cass responds,

"I can see your intentions are pure, but based on entirely misguided principles."

Seeing that further argument is senseless Cass moves off and allows the other man to continue his work, each corpse in turn choking back to live, unconscious, but healed of any major injuries.

"The Colonel is sending someth… someone else over to help you guys out. It's not what you'd expect" The group hears the chirpy voice of Switchboard in their minds.

Business card "Look", states Tracer, back from his investigations of the car, a business card visible in his outstretched hand. "This could be a lead."

"We need to find out more about this guy," says Rough Justice, having thought twice about leaving, deciding he didn't have anything better to be doing this evening. He points at the still comatose little man with the thin moustache, lying on the ground beside them.

"Allow me", intones Cass, his voice commanding as he kneels over the small man, prying psychically into his mind. Mental images begin to focus in Cass's mind, and suddenly they are as clear as if he was viewing them with his own eyes. He's walking into a crumbling drinking establishment. "Breakers Bar" the decrepit sign above the door advertises.

He's got his cronies in tow. He's talking to this Prodesapia guy, Imanov who was intent on meeting up. He's heard of Prodesapia of course, who hasn't? They're a big name bionics and prosthetics conglomerate, but he knows that if they want to talk to him, this must be the "other" branch of Prodesapia. These guys take human advancement a step further in the 'questionable ethics' direction. They give him the creeps, but hey if they've got something to say and money to back it up, he's not gonna argue. Fat Joe didn't get himself to the top of the Death's Head gang by refusing money on the ground of questionable ethics. Imanov, wearing a jacket emblazoned with the Prodesapia logo, a circle intersected with a square, speaks for the first time, foregoing any kind of greeting.

"We need a distraction. Focus the attention of the authorities somewhere other than our… operation. The reward is substantial." The memory finishes and Cass's mind is back in his own body. He relays the information he has gleaned with the rest of the group and as he does so, a strange, silver-skinned man wearing a large coat and wide-brimmed hat hiding most of his face walks boldly up to them.

"Who the hell are you?" Demands Rough Justice.

"I AM DESIGNATION MAX-TUESDAY. I WAS SENT TO ASSIST" A metallic monotone voice zip-lines through the air. Something about this new arrival appearing to be largely metallic rankles Fade, who is still thinking about Prodesapia's penchant for bionics.

"So Breakers Bar again then." States Tracer, matter of factly. The team, without any other lead, agree and set off, teleporting, motorbiking, running or otherwise making their way to the establishment Sledgehammer and RJ had been mere hours earlier.

Upon arrival, most of the group stay outside, keeping watch and trying not to attract too much attention. RJ, Cass and Fade head in and the barman looks up, sighing as he recognises Rough Justice from earlier.

"You again? Your big friend gone home already?"

"He's around. Look we need to find out about a man named Imanov and this company, Prodesapia. We'll make it worth your while" Says RJ, sliding a bank note across the bar. Taking it surreptitiously, the barman says,

"You want to talk to old Rusty, over there." He nods in the direction of an old man with a long white moustache drinking alone on one of the tables at the back of the bar. "He's certainly got a thing or two to say about those guys"

RJ buys three beers and heads off to join the old man at his table with Cass. ("Fade stay at the bar and scope the place out"). "Hi friend," attempts RJ, placing the beer down in front of the man.

"I know you?" The old man questions with a Slavic lilt to his voice, frowning at the new arrivals. It's a manoeuvre that sends the skin on his forehead into deep troughs, and knits his bushy white eyebrows together momentarily.

"Not yet, but we're hoping you might be able to help us out with a little… information gathering exercise." The man says nothing, but doesn't push them away either, which is encouragement enough for Rough Justice, who continues, "We're looking for any news about a guy goes by the name of Imanov." RJ is interrupted by an indignant snort from the man, Rusty, who involuntarily rubs his slightly worse-for-wear metal right hand. "I see why they call him rusty." RJ thinks at Cass through Switchboard. Cass's face remains impassive, studying the man intensely.

"Him? What's he done now?"

"Well, that's what we were hoping to find out."

As Cass stares deep into the other man's eyes, he pries his way into Rusty's memories. In Cass's mind, a younger Rusty is having a falling out with another man, who Cass mentally recognises as a much younger version of the man from Fat Joe's memory, Imanov. The vision is blurry, likely hindered by the inebriated state of the man it belongs to, and the sound is muffled, as though being listened to from behind a thick wall. Both men are wearing lab coats, and Cass can make out bits of the conversation. They are arguing heatedly about the morality of something. The young Rusty (who has two human hands) shouts something that sounds like,

"But it's just damned WRONG!", and pushes the other man as he utters the last word. Young Imanov shoves back, harder, and Rusty falls backwards heavily into one of the large scientific machines that occupies the room in which they're arguing. Winded, Rusty crumples to the floor, gasping for breath, and the machine tilts in slow motion before falling upon Rusty, crushing his arm underneath. Cass mentally relays to Rough Justice the things he has seen, and RJ says to Rusty in response,

"So I'm guessing you two don't get along." Rusty snorts derisively.

"You could say that. He and I had a… strong disagreement, about workplace practices." Rusty continues to absent-mindedly rub his prosthetic right arm. "There's a division at Prodesapia. Dissent in the ranks." He laughs bitterly, apparently he has made a joke, but one that is lost on Cass and RJ. He continues, "There are those who believe that the law is holding back the Agenda. They tried to recruit me, years back. I refused, earned myself this." He gestures with his prosthetic arm. "You want Imanov? You'll find him under Greenwood park, there's a lot of Prodesapia activity that way. I keep one ear to the ground."

"…under?" Says RJ, unsure what the old man had meant.

"I don't know where exactly, but they're operating somewhere underground and it has something to do with that Park."

Issue 1, chapter 4: A Night at the Park

After thanking Rusty for his help and leaving him to his drink, RJ, Cass and Fade had left the pub, informing the others of their discovery of Prodesapia activity underneath Greenwood Park. Fade had agreed to transport Max Tuesday and Tracer to the latter's not inconsiderate base of operations. It transpires that Tracer has amassed a serious wealth over his life. Fade puts a hand on each of his team-mate's shoulder and the three of them disappear in a curl of black and purple smoke.

Cass stoically refuses a ride from RJ, and so all three men make their way to Greenwood National Park, a 3 square mile nature reserve in the centre of the city, one walks, one rides his motorbike and one runs along behind.

At Tracer's penthouse hangout, the three comrades face an impressive array of computer terminals running a variety of automated tasks, and Fade suggests searching local government records for any signs of recent archaeological activity, or anything else that would indicate a link underneath the park. With a quick few commands into a terminal, Tracer starts to hack into the records to pull out any relevant information. The park has been in the city for centuries, some ancient law banning development on the natural land. The group begin filtering through the results, which appear on the large display screen: a privately funded archaeological dig two years ago, a couple of now disused subway stations near to the park entrances, some minor seismic activity in the late 90s.

"It looks like there's an abandoned subway station on the east side of the park, imaginatively named 'East Park'" The team hear Fade's voice in their heads, thanks to Switchboard. Sledgehammer pauses in his run, still unable to quite figure out how the voices got inside his brain, and thinking about that and running at the same time proving to be a little too much of a cognitive challenge. RJ shouts back to Sledgehammer,

"You go to East Park subway station, see what you can find!" Sledgehammer grins his agreement and thunders off in the direction of the station, and Rough Justice continues onwards on his bike.

"Er, guys? Our new friend Max says he's picking up a radio transmission that's being broadcast on multiple commercial frequencies" Tracer's voice is heard in each of the team members' heads. Back at Tracer's building, Max Tuesday is aurally relaying the message being broadcast by a national news team onto multiple radio stations:

"Continuing our coverage of these astonishing disappearances earlier this evening, we're now getting reports of a fourth disappearance, that of former talk-show host Julia Mendel, who you'll no doubt remember was convicted last year of the murder of her husband and his lover after finding them together after returning from work one evening. Tonight was to be her last as her death sentence was to be carried out this evening, but in a similar manner to the earlier reports, she was enveloped in a blue-white light before vanishing into thin air. If you're just joining us, a recap on tonight's out-of-this-world disappearances: four people have mysteriously vanished this evening through so-far completely unexplained forces. Pop princess Candice, known for her highly sexualised pop videos disappeared on location of her latest video shoot. Bret Walker, a 41 year old man from Red Bank, New Jersey, disappeared during the course of his sixth attempt to beat the world record for most hamburgers consumed in an hour. Notorious leader of Kurtakistan, Ibrahim Al Mussar was the third victim of this strange phenomenon, whilst giving a concernedly anti-west militant speech addressing his nation. And now Julia Mendel, talk-show host turned killer is the latest disappearance. So far we have no information on where, how or why any of the four people have gone. More on this breaking news as we get it."

After speculation about what these disappearances mean and inconclusive conjecture about who, if anyone is behind the mysterious disappearances, Fade & Tuesday (who have teleported back into town) head to the East Park underground station and meet up with Sledgehammer. Planning to sneak silently through the tunnels, Fade quickly becomes frustrated with the lack of stealth displayed by the other two: Sledgehammer had lifted a locked gate, easily snapping the padlocks that had until very recently been quite good at deterring would-be trespassers. The locks had crunched noisly, and Fade leaves them to it. Transport being no trouble to him, he quickly meets back up with RJ in the park, who has come to the east entrance, overlooking the beautiful two-tiered lake that reflects the rising moon, its waterfall showering from the north lake down into the south. Seeing Fade coalesce into being, Rough Justice points at the waterfall.

"What do you make of that?" Following Rough Justice's gesture, Fade sees the water is bouncing off something as it descends, sending droplets off at unnatural angles.

"I'll check it out," Fade replies, and before his sentence can sink in, has materialised under the cascade of water at the point where it is interrupted.

As the deluge of water cascades out from the north lake, it beats down upon Fade who nearly slips as he attempts to discover what it is that's causing the water to bounce in such a way. He's standing on a thin ledge that tapers at one end to the point where it's flush against the rock face once more. A thought strikes fade and he's gone in a wisp of purple and black, appearing at Rough Justice's side once again.

"A door." He says. "A door that's slightly ajar, but not enough to slip through." The 'door' was big enough that the bottom of it had gone below the surface of the southern lake.

"Can we get in?" Replies Rough Justice.

"That's the easy part." comes the answer. He's gone in a swirl of black and purple. Re-emerging the other side of the door, Fade looks at the other side of it. There is an intricate system of mechanical and electrical equipment bolted and soldered to the door. He relays what he has seen to the others, to which RJ replies " So.. a little help?" Fade is already back, and puts his hand on his team-mate's shoulder, the two of them disappearing from view.

Max Tuesday had only been assigned to this team for a short time, but had quickly learnt some of the idiosyncrasies that dwelt within it. For example, this large humanoid, designated Sledgehammer, was incapable of thinking too hard and continuing to walk forward. Max had decided it was with this man that he was most needed – the brains to his brawn – and the two of them had set off down a maintenance tunnel that they had discovered. As the unusual pair walk the tunnel, they come across an unlit section, slowing their progress.

"Box" says Sledgehammer suddenly, pointing to a metal box recessed into an alcove in the tunnel. It was the only thing of note that either one had seen as the tunnel had curved its way round to the right, and after a quick examination, it is evident to Max that this is a control panel for the tunnel's maintenance electrics. He flicks the switches in a preset order, and the lights on the tunnel come on, and they venture onwards.

After some minutes, after emerging into a second tunnel, they come across a gate with its padlocks broken. They had come full circle.

"We must have missed something." Max's metallic voice buzzed. "We should go back the way we came". Sledgehammer nodded in agreement and they doubled back on themselves.

Fade and Rough Justice find themselves in a near pitch dark tunnel hewn roughly from the rock it carves its way through. It takes their eyes a few minutes to adjust to the gloom, but they can make out some lights in the distance. The start to move forward and it's apparent that the lights are attached crudely to the wall like miner's lamps. After a time, the pair come to a fork in the tunnel. Looking at each other briefly, Fade takes the left tunnel, and as he continues onwards, the lights become sparser and sparser until he's in pitch darkness. He feels his way forward in the tunnel, which has started to curve back around to the right in a large arc.

RJ, taking the right path, also notices that it curves gently back around to the left. As he makes his way forward, he hears the dripping of water up ahead and before long he arrives at the entrance of a small, rounded cavern. The floor is a mirror, a still pool of water reflecting the artificial lights attached to the walls. It's not deep; Rough Justice can see the cavern's rocky floor refracted below the water's surface. Stalactites hang down from the ceiling of the cavern, a few of them joining their stalagmite counterparts in the middle, centuries of natural water flow causing them to meet.

As he takes in the scene before him, he sees something which takes him by surprise: a man enters the cave, wearing a white lab-coat and holding a strange hand-held device.

RJ quickly ducks back out of the light of the cavern and takes stock of the situation. The man has entered from the opposite end, higher up than where RJ is standing. A rocky ledge curls around the opposite and right sides of the circular cave, emerging about 5 foot from the rock face at its widest point. As he takes another look, Rough Justice sees that there are roughly cut stone steps leading from the pool up to the entrance and ledge.

He relays the information mentally to Fade via Switchboard. Fade is frozen in fascination as a small red dot emerges from the darkness, shining its red light hypnotically upon the walls. The dot sways slightly as it grows larger. Suddenly, Fade realises that the dot isn't growing larger, it's getting closer. The red dot is at head height, and is in fact attached to the head of someone coming right towards him!

In an instant, Fade dematerialises and reappears silently on the ledge in the cavern with the pool. He is close to the man in the lab coat, who is studying the wall intently, occasionally checking the hand-held device he carries. Catching Rough Justice's eye from across the rocky pool, Fade stealthily creeps behind the man, hoping for a better look at the device and to discover the man's purpose here.

The man's device is showing readings measuring the strength and concentration of something he doesn't understand. The man himself is staring intently at the walls of the cavern, which appear to be covered in a layer of gelatinous, brown-green fungal slime.

The man begins to turn, and Fade is gone, returned to the tunnel from the left fork.

Meanwhile, having turned back on themselves, Max Tuesday and Sledgehammer are slowly making their way back around the maintenance tunnel, looking for anything they have missed. About half way around, they find it: a dark recess hides a ladder, folded up on itself.

"I get", states Sledgehammer quietly. His long arms easily reaching the ladder, he yanks it down and the ladder slides into place.

"I will ascend first" buzzes Max, and he starts to climb. With Sledgehammer not far behind, the two climb twenty or thirty feet up this ladder before it stops, opening out into a giant cavern, more than one hundred foot across. Max turns down towards Sledgehammer and puts a metallic finger against where his lips would have been. Sledgehammer nods his understanding and the two quietly emerge from the hole in the ground that the ladder has lead up to. As they look out across the cavern, they see four or five men, all with their backs to them. Everyone in the cave is inspecting the walls. An unusual light is glinting off of the arms of a couple of the men, casting strange reflections on the walls around them. Artificial lights dot the cavern, extending the whole way around the circular area, before ascending up in parallel with some stairs carved in the rock, leading up and round to a second tier on the right.

Fade teleports behind the red-eye man and grabs him. The man drops the box he is holding in surprise and tries to let out a yell but Fade is too quick for him. Draining the man's energy, Fade pushes the other's head against the rocky wall and a sickening thud tells him that his attack has been successful; the man is out cold.

Rough Justice watches the man in the lab coat turn and leave the cavern, unaware that moments previously there had been somebody else right behind him. Once the man has left, RJ dashes across the pool of water, splashing noisily as he does so. He bounds up the steps to the entrance opposite, and runs on through. The man in the lab coat hasn't gone far into this second cavern. This one is much larger than the previous, and he hears Rough Justice's footsteps as he sprints towards him.

"Intruder!" He yells, and several other men in the cavern look over and rush with astonishing speed to the steps leading up to this second tier of the cavern. Max and Sledgehammer hear the call from across the cavern and look over to see their colleague Rough Justice charge toward one of the men, arm outstretched to the other's neckline and clothesline the man, bowling him over into the ground.

Fade has teleported back to RJ's location, and sees the fight break out. In seconds, the other men, who up until now have been quietly inspecting the walls, rush into the men, followed by Max and Sledgehammer.

Catching them in a pincer movement, most of the men go down without much of a fight, but one of them, bigger than the rest, with all of his limbs replaced with metal prosthetics, glares at them with two bionic red eyes glowing in the dim cave. He sprints at high speed towards Rough Justice and launches himself at him using the full momentum of his enhanced speed. He catches RJ, but is too late, as Rough Justice saw the manoeuvre before it happened, and parried the attack in such a way as to deflect most of its damage. Coming up behind him, Sledgehammer pounds a gargantuan fist into the base of the enhanced man's spine, bringing him to his knees with a cry of pain. Staggeringly, the man starts to get up again, but Rough Justice sees this and delivers a swift, targeted kick to the other man's jaw, and he sprawls out upon the cave floor, unconscious.

Only one of the bionic team of scientists remain, at the very far end of the cavern. Sledgehammer, still full of fighting fury, thunders towards him bellowing and the man simply panics. He tries to run away but trips. Seeing this pathetic display eases Sledgehammer's ire and he sits on the man, amused by his attempts to escape.

The others rejoin him, and Rough Justice questions the man:

"What are you doing here?"

"I… I… can't tell you."

"You want my friend here to take off your head instead?"

"No.. no please. We're collecting samples. This fungus… it only grows here… it's special." The man splutters, struggling to breath as Sledgehammer restrains him.

"Collecting samples for what? What does it do?"

"Really, I can't say… I can't say." Something about the way the man repeats himself suggests to the group that the man really rather wishes he could say. He is not lying, something is stopping him from telling what he knows.

"I guess we'll just have to find out for ourselves, Sledge?" Rough Justice looks at Sledgehammer, who interprets the question correctly, and flicks the man's head against the floor, knocking him out easily."

"If you came from over there," says Fade gesturing toward the upper tier of the giant cavern, "and you two came up from here right?" He points at the nearby hole in ground. "Then there's one place we haven't been yet." He gestures at a tunnel leading off behind them, and the four team-mates set off into the darkness.

Issue 1, chapter 5: Dark Science

Cass arrives at the South entrance of the park, having patiently walked the distance from Breaker's Bar. As he had walked, he had been thinking of the things he had seen, first, in the mind of the comatose mob-boss Joe, and then in this 'Rusty' character. Humans tinkering with the fabric of humanity itself. The idea was repulsive to him.

He had also contemplated this new team of his. Hot-headed and quick to judge, they had nevertheless re-awoken a long dormant sense of… something he couldn't put his finger on. After a few minutes, he had realised what he had meant. He had been referring to a sense of fellowship, of helping one another out. Cass promptly dismisses the idea as nonsense.

After travelling down the final tunnel for a minute or two, the others had come across the body of one of the Prodesapia scientists, slumped, unconscious upon the floor. Lying next to him was a metal crate containing phials of the strange fungal matter from the walls of the cave. So this was the tunnel that Fade had been in initially. They had been everywhere this underground excavation allowed.

Looking closely at one of the phials containing the fungal samples, holding it to the light to get a better view. It's pulsating gently, brown and green and apparently spongy in texture.

"Perhaps it reacts in water.." suggests Fade. "I'll try it out." He grabs one of the phials and de-materialises before anyone can say otherwise. He reforms in the small cavern from earlier and gently tips the phial, the fungus rolling sloppily out of the glass end of its container. Fade holds his breath as the fungus tumbles through the air and splashes with a "plip" into the water. Nothing happens. The fungus slowly sinks to the bottom of the pool. "Well it was worth a try", he says, materialising next to the others again.

"Fade, take these samples back to Tracer's Tower, see if he can run some tests, find out what this stuff is, and why it's so important to this science guys." Says Rough Justice to his team-mate. Fade grabs hold of the box and curls out of existence. "The question is… where was he taking that crate?" Says Rough Justice to Sledgehammer, who smiles blankly in response, and Max Tuesday, whose facial display remains impassive. "We've been everywhere there is to go down here."

A sudden realisation dawns on Sledgehammer's face, morphing his mouth into a small 'o' shape, and he says excitedly:

"THE MAN SAID THE DOOR HAD TECHNICALS!" Now it's Rough Justice's turn to look blank. "THE MAN. THE DISAPPEAR-Y MAN! HE SAID IN MY HEAD ABOUT TECHNICALS ON THE DOOR". Sledgehammer's face was screwed up in concentration as he tried to recall information from more than half an hour ago, whilst simultaneously constructing polysyllabic sentences.

"He's right", says Fade, who has appeared back in the tunnel alongside them. "The stone door at the waterfall. The back of it's covered in some sort of technological lock or something. It's not really my area of expertise!" The three human men look at the metallic man, expectantly.

"I will address the technology" buzzes the grating voice of Max Tuesday, and all four set off in the direction of the waterfall.

"I have arrived" Creeps Cass's voice into each man's head. Then, Fade alone feels a different sort of psychic message. This one is less like a voice in his head and more like an internal reverberation, rolling around his brain like an internal rumble of thunder. "I will allow you to assist me in joining you." Fade shudders, and disappears from the tunnel, re-emerging seconds later with Cass. Both men looked as though they would rather have not needed to go through that experience.

Momentarily the technological works of the door jumped into life, and a series of bolts and mechanical workings slid from their present location, altering the shape of the door so that the waterfall is now split, half diverted sideways, allowing the whole mechanism to roll forward without water gushing into the tunnel, and half still cascading down in front of the door, maintaining the illusion from the outside that the waterfall remains intact. The tunnel is now open ahead revealing stone steps, heading downwards into another lit tunnel. The group steps down into the new walkway, and see this one is much straighter than the cave they had come from. The lights in this tunnel disappear not around a corner, but due to distance. It's clear to everyone that the tunnel must go on for at least a mile.

"Guys, this fungus stuff, we really ought to know what we're getting ourselves into." Says fade, producing one of the phials. "I kept one from earlier." He tips a little of it out onto the palm of his hand, and licks the sample, to the sudden protestation of the others, who now look at him expectantly for a response. Fade shrugs. "I feel… maybe less tired?"

"I've analysed one of these samples." Comes Tracer's voice via Switchboard. "The stuff appears to have regenerative properties, especially under bright lights "

"I was just going to say that," says Fade, "my body regenerates itself anyway, but something new is happening to me. Is it me or did those tunnel lights get brighter?"

"I can assist with further analysis" buzzes Max before turning to Fade. "If you will transport me." Fade dutifully teleports the metal man to Tracer, and leaves them to their investigation, returning to the site of the tunnel.

"Shall we?" Asks Rough Justice, gesturing out into the darkness. The four remaining men set off in the only direction the tunnel allows, noticing the amount of fungus around each tunnel light diminishing until there is none. "That scientist wasn't lying about the stuff only coming from that cave" RJ observes to the others as they walk. There is only room for two men side-by-side in the tunnel, or one, if you happen to be Sledgehammer. Fade takes up the front, Cass and Rough Justice in the middle, and Sledgehammer at the rear, humming gently to himself.

Fade abruptly stops and holds up a hand, turning his head back toward the others, mouthing "Voices, up ahead". Fade moves to the side of the tunnel, away from any light and is no longer visible. Two men, one with a red bionic eye, are talking conversationally as the walk past Fade, oblivious to his presence.

They stop in surprise when they come across the other three men in the corridor. As one of the men raises his hand to his ear,

"We've got…" He is silenced by Sledgehammer who has pushed past the others and pushed the man's head against the wall. Sledgehammer looks over to the other unknown man, who is laying unconscious on the floor with Rough Justice's palm pressed against his chest. Both men grin at each other.

"That could have been… worse." states Cass. It's the closest thing to a compliment any of the group have heard him say since they met the unusual quiet man. The tunnel now stretches out in both directions, the entrance they had used now hidden by distance.

"How much longer do you think this goes on?" Says Fade. "I can check out the end, but long distance to somewhere I don't know… it works a little different. I'm not gonna end up half way through a wall or anything, but I don't get to find out the route, just the destination." Rough Justice nods.

"Do it." Fade once again folds out of existence a black and purple after-image remaining briefly where he had stood. As he travels between planes of reality he concentrates on his destination. End of the tunnel. Hidden. Dark. End of the tunnel. Hidden. Dark. He re-materialises, taking stock of his surroundings.

"Switchboard, are you there?"

The pretty white-haired girl with the ponytail and the punky clothes sits up from her reclined position in one of the chairs in the briefing room of the unremarkable flat where the team had all first met. It seems as though the team had already done so much together, it was incredible to think that meeting had been less than a day ago. She throws down the hand-held games console she had been playing and focuses on Fade.

"Hey buddy, I'm here. Everything going ok out there? Who do you need?" She replies, brightly.

"Connect me to Cass, Rough Justice and Sledgehammer, would you?"

"You got it." Switchboard mentally links them up, feeling out for their mental signature established when they'd first shaken hands.

"Guys, I'm in some kind of warehouse. There's definitely some Prodesapia activity." Fade tells the others mentally. He's emerged from his teleportation in a dark corner of an old storage facility. Discarded boxes and miscellaneous items lay scattered and stacked on multiple shelves in the area, after a quick look through the items in the immediate area, it appears to be mostly old toys and games. Junk, mostly broken. Across the large warehouse floor, on the other side of the large open room, is a queue of shabby looking men, being addressed by a man in a lab coat. Straining to hear what they are saying, Fade notices the sound of the sea, gently rolling against breakwaters and walkways. "I'm by the docks, must be right at the South of the city."

The others had come to a junction in the tunnel, one route continuing on in the direction they had taken, the other turning left perpendicular to this tunnel. Cass had made the decision to investigate the branch, letting the other two continue straight. As he had walked this new branch, the tunnel began to incline, until Cass could hear the sound of traffic above him. Shortly, he came to a small ladder leading up to a manhole cover. Waiting until the sound of traffic died down, Cass had emerged onto a familiar road in the southern part of the city.

The sky is dark, with clouds blanketing the city; the near-full moon occasionally emerging from behind the vaporous veil. Getting his bearings, Cass realises he is in the southern part of the city, just west of Chinatown and not far from the docks, Cass relays this to the group mentally, adding that he will come swiftly to the docks. As he makes his way at street level across town, Rough Justice and Sledgehammer do so in the underground tunnel, and before long they hear the metallic pounding of bionic footsteps as one of the larger, more modified scientists comes thundering down the tunnel.

"Phillips, Stevenson, I repeat, can you hear me?" He yells, one hand pressed against his ear. Rough Justice and Sledgehammer each take a defensive stance, but the large scientist's impossible speed takes them by surprise. With both red eyes locked onto Sledgehammer, the man launches a punch before the other can react. Sledgehammer coughs and then gasps, winded by the blow. Surprise registers on his face. It's been a very long time since anyone had that much of an impact on him. A red rage descends on Sledgehammer, who kicks out at the man with the force of a car crash, sending him hurtling into the wall. A sickening crack tells the men that the bionic man is out for the count, and neither checks for signs that he'll get up again, setting off down the tunnel at a jog. Spurred on by Sledgehammer's encounter. Rough Justice admits to himself as they run, he didn't expect anyone to be able to knock the wind out of Sledge.

Cass reaches the docks and casts a furtive glance around. As Fade had described, a queue of shabby down-and-outs winds its way into one of the warehouses. Cass cautiously joins the back of the queue, his own suit appropriately shabby enough to blend in. "When are we getting this food?" comes the gravelly voice of one of the queue, calling to the scientist leading them into the warehouse. "All in good time sir," replies the man in the lab coat. "As I explained earlier, after this small test, you will all be fed excellently." The tunnel finally comes to an end, ascending gently before widening out naturally into the open air. Grass and rocks surround them, before giving way to the tarmac road leading to the docks, and then the gravelly shore under the wooden decking leading that leads out onto the various cargo ships moored here. The two see the warehouses, and the queue made of tobacco, torn clothes, and desperation. And Cass.

"We're here. Me and Sledge are going to check around the back" Rough Justice informs the others.

"I would advise caution. There's a patrol of those larger gentlemen making their way around towards you", comes Cass's reply. The two men duck behind a large rock in the vicinity as four of the bionic men, red eyes scanning their surroundings, emerge from around the far corner of the warehouse. Barely daring to breathe, the two men wait silently until the patrol passes, and then they take of at a sprint around to corner of the warehouse.

As they turn their gaze to the warehouse itself, they notice several long windows running the length of the building. The windows themselves appear to span two storeys each. Those at the front are illuminated with the yellow artificial lights of the warehouse from within, but toward the back, it's a very different matter; blue pulsating light, brightest in the first floor windows, emanates from the windows, punctuated by an occasional bright moment accompanied by the crackling buzz of electricity.

"Looks like the party's at the back", whispers Rough Justice to Sledgehammer, and the two men approach a fire escape at the back of the building.

Meanwhile, Fade has been observing the activities of the men inside the warehouse. First, one of the scientists asks a few questions, what the persons name is, how old they are, and then his colleague ushers the lost, desperate soul into one of five rooms along the opposite side of the warehouse to where Fade is hidden. So far, none of the men shown to their room has left it, but every now and then, one of the scientists would emerges from the side room, approach the man welcoming the queue to the building and whisper something into the other's ear. Thereupon, after a couple of minutes, a new person would be sent to the room that the scientist had emerged from.

Cass is now at the front of the queue, and the friendly scientist ushering them in asks politely for Cass's name and age, both of which he gives falsely. Cass is chaperoned onto a threadbare sofa in room 3 by a different man, who tells him in a kindly voice that he is just going to administer a shot, and how thankful they are to Cass for him agreeing to help out like this, promising a wealth of food and comfort in return. He brings out an injection gun, the capsule of which is filled with a liquid which appears to be a very familiar greenish-brown shade. Cass sits impassively, awaiting the injection. He knows that his immune system is significantly more immune than most, so a small injection does not have him worried. The scientist injects the liquid into Cass's right arm, and Cass feels a slight coldness, followed by… nothing out of the ordinary. He sits, staring at the man, as the man peers back over a pair of wire framed spectacles from behind a desk in the room, making notes.

From room 4, a scientist steps out, walking towards the greeter, and Fade seizes the opportunity and teleports into the room. Lying on the sofa is the corpse of one of the homeless men, his veins bloated and his body tinged green. Summoning his powers, Fade concentrates on the man's body, calling his life force back to him. The corpse's eyelids burst open wide, revealing green corneas surrounding dilated pupils. The man screams a howl of agony so loud, it sounds as though the noise itself is tearing at his vocal chords. Panicking, Fade dematerialises and reappears in the rafters of the building, looking down on the queue of startled, shabby men.

"Please, remain calm. This is simply a drill." The greeter tries to calm the queue. The scientists from the other rooms have emerged, and room 4 scientist leads others in the run back to his room. Cass, now faced with an empty room, wanders over to the notes the scientist had been making, and at the bottom of a page which details Cass's appearance and non-reaction to the injection, the words 'suitable candidate' are sprawled.

The man's screaming is suddenly silenced.

Sledgehammer had impressed Rough Justice as the two of them had climbed the fire escape at the back of the building. The latter hadn't expected the level of stealth nor agility from the big man, and now the two of them peer through one of the windows into the warehouse. A dozen or so huge cylindrical tanks hang, suspended from the ceiling by industrial chains, in the centre of the giant room. Each tank has metal caps attached at both ends. The cap on top holds the mechanism for affixing the tanks to the large chains, and there are other, insulated cables running from panels in the ceiling into the tanks too. Glass or an otherwise clear material forms the bulk of the case. Inside each, a semi-opaque bright blue liquid surrounds the hard to make out silhouettes of figures; hanging, suspended in the thick liquid. Periodically, electricity sparks and fizzes into the liquid, visibly brightening the viscous solution. It seems to be coming from the thick cables penetrating the tanks. The figures themselves are human. No, nearly human. Rough Justice notices that many of the silhouettes are misshapen in different ways. One seems to have a large abscess connecting its head to its right shoulder. Another has far too much mass on its legs to be human, giving it an almost comical bottom-heavy look. Every time a pulse of electrical energy reaches one of the tanks, the creature within spasms.

The room has a metal platform that winds its way around two of the walls, and a spiral staircase leading down to the ground floor. Some sort of 'observation' platform. The very existence of this set-up disgusts Rough Justice down to his bones. Sick experiments that defile these poor, deluded men and women, whose only reason for being here is hunger and desperation.

There doesn't appear to be anyone in the room other than the victims in the tanks, so Sledgehammer, with a nod of approval from Rough Justice, carefully lifts the window and the Sledgehammer climbs onto the observation platform. He turns to face his team-mate. Rough Justice is shaking, his fists clenched. Through gritted teeth, he says

"You go on ahead. I'll stay out here and keep watch." Every impulse inside Rough Justice's head is screaming for him to smash these tanks, end the injustice of the situation, but somehow he manages to keep level-headed and controlled enough that he can restrain himself. It takes all of his effort to walk away from the warehouse, furious and trying to clear his head.

Now that he's inside, Sledgehammer notices the bank of computer terminals and electronic equipment lining the walls of the ground floor. More than that he notices the furtive movement of someone keeping to the shadows, inspecting the equipment and the tanks.

Jumping from the platform to the ground floor with an agility that belies his size, Sledgehammer says to the man suspiciously,

"Who you?"

"Who am I? Who the hell are you, big guy? What are you doing in a place like this?" The man is wearing a dark red body armour, covering every inch of his body. Only the man's nose, mouth and chin are visible underneath a round mask that seems to double as a crash helmet.

"Science men bad. Hurting these people." Sledgehammer gestures at the tank. "Why you here?"

"It seems like we're here with similar goals then. Finding out what's going on here!" The masked stranger eyes Sledgehammer up carefully, sensing the danger he would be in, were the child-like mind to decide that he, Acrobat, was the enemy.

"Someone's coming", Acrobat says, suddenly alert, his body tense, readying for fight or flight. He backflips to the shadows and Sledgehammer is left alone, save for Fade's voice in his head.

"You've got a couple of guys, incoming!"

Suddenly aware of his limited options as the scientists open the door to the room, Sledgehammer dives into a shadowy corner of the room. Fade teleports in and runs to Sledgehammer, touching his shoulder and the two of them disappear, but it's too late. They've been seen, and one of the scientists runs to a nearby terminal, hitting a button and suddenly an alarm is blaring.

"Commence operation bolt-hole", a computerised voice issues from the speakers around the compound. The chains holding the tanks aloft begin to extend, lowering each tank to the floor. The patrol of large, amplified men has entered the chaos.

"What happened?" One of them shouts to the scientist who had raised the alarm.

"Intruders in the complex, 'Specials'. They can't have got far." By now the tanks have reached the floor, chains going slack. One of the scientists operating another terminal quickly punches in a control sequence command and the thick liquid begins to drain from the machines. Following preset grooves in the floor and draining into a grate at the back of the room. The contents of the tanks is now clear. Men and women, all of whom have some form of the regenerative fungus growing on them. Being cultivated on these human petri dishes. Each subject falls to to the front of the tanks, where most of the scientists are collecting them up, hauling them over bionic shoulders and dashing for the underground pathway through which the team had arrived.

Following some automated process, the panels in the ceiling holding the cables had slid open and the cables had started to retract. One of the panels fails to fully open and the cable starts to coil up on itself as there is no room for it to fully pass through the opening. Nevertheless, whatever hidden mechanism that was retracting the cable made no signs of stopping, and the cable bunches more and more tightly until it finally gives and the cable snaps, sending a shower of electrical sparks cascading down onto the scientists, still trying to escape with their 'subjects'.

Some of the sparks land squarely on the fungal growth of what used to be a man's shoulder. The specimen howls, suddenly conscious, suddenly sentient. More patches of the fungal material start sprouting up at the points where his body has been hit with the sparks. The creature struggles out of the grip of the unexpecting scientist who was carrying it out of the compound. He moves rapidly over to one of the scientists carrying the large-legged specimen and lays a scaled fungal hand over the thigh of the other creature. Howling in guttural rage, both hand and thigh pulsate sickeningly and then the other creature is awake. The last seconds of both scientists life are spent terrified by the creatures that they have created as they turn and face the men, before forcing their fungal hands down into the throats of the men, choking and ripping the life from them.

"Retreat, get the hell out of here!" Commands one of the larger bionic men, and panic and survival are the only things that matter to the scientists now. They run, as more and more of the creatures are awakened by their mutated brethren.

Issue 1, chapter 6: Giving Chase

Panic and survival instinct has taken over as the Prodesapia scientists are attaked by the awakend half-human, half-fungus creatures. The things emit eerily human howls and shrieks, relentlessly attacking their previous captors.

One of the creatures jumps on a Prodesapia scientist, tearing at his face and throat until the man is still, his screaming silenced. Four of the bionically enhanced 'proto-sapians' have formed a defensive line, hoping to contain the mutants, but their defence is futile, as one by one they fall in the fight, overwhelemed by the number and power of these creatures.

Rough Justice looks on at the scene, content that the creatures – these poor victims of cruel experimentation – are giving the scientists exactly what they deserve. Cass, having been left alone, unnoticed in the warehouse with all the other activity going on, snaps his gaze back from the lights, which have felt strangely compelling, as if they pull on his conciousness, drawing him as a moth to a flame. He feels an unusual hum. It's not psychic, he would be more familiar with the sensation if it were. No, this is something different, something unknown, and that unnerves him.

Only two of the Prodesapia group remain in the area, the others either dead or gone. He launches a metallic punch at one of the larger creatures, who simply grabs the limb, absorbing the impact as though it were nothing. One fungal arm holding the scientist's torso in place, the other pulling at the metal arm, angry at its presence and its intentions. With a horrible 'shlock' sound, the arm is loosened and finally removed from its connection point on the mans body, flesh and metal tearing sounds drowned out by the man's screams.

The final scientist, having dispatched one of the creatures, makes a dash for the tunnel through which most of the heroes had a arrived, but is blocked by yet another mutant. After an all-too-brief grappling match, the scientist's limp body falls to the floor, the red lights of his bionic eyes flickering out.

Up to this point, the mutant creatures have paid the group of mismatched men – the broad giant of a man, the muscular hairy man in a biker jacket, the costumed man in his mask and cloak, and the tall, thin, older man in his grey suit – little-to-no attention. Now that their perceived enemy is gone, one of the creatures eyes Rough Justice suspiciously as he approaches.

"We're here to help, you got nothing to fear from us", Rough Justice attempts. The mutant man, fungus covering his left shoulder and running the length of his torso, looks at Rough Justice quizzically, his head cocked to one side, green eyes impassive and unreadable. He pauses for a moment before turning his attention to a nearby lamp-post. He stands under the light and closes his eyes, seemingly content to serenely soak up the light.

As the group look around, they notice many of the creatures are doing the same thing. Others are crouched over cars, public payphones, and other electrical items on the street, small sparks zipping between the items and the creatures' bodies. Where the electricity is absorbed, more and more fungus grows.

"Feeding... they're feeding." Says Fade, horrified at the realisation. "They're draining the electricity!" Sledgehammer furrows his brow as he thinks about this.

"They not escape. They eat city."

"Sledge is right, we need to contain them!", states Rough Justice.

In a curl of purple and black, Fade is gone. "I'm at the city powerstation, they can't feed if they don't have any food", Switchboard relays Fade's voice back to the others. Fade, not knowing his way around the station, hides in the shadows as a couple of employees walk past. Finding a plan of the station affixed to one of the walls by a central set of stairs, he identifies the main control room and teleports there. Looking around, there's nobody currently in the room and he sees a control labelled emergency shutoff, and a diagram of the sectors of the city being supplied with electricity. It's all a little more complicated than he has time for so, he activates what he hopes are the right set of controls.

Back at the docks, the lights flicker on and off, before cutting out altogether. Simultaneously, the mutant creatures emit howls of hunger and rage before dispersing in different directions, feeding off of the residual energy from car batteries and anything else with electricity they can get to. Cass realises that he too is annoyed by the sudden lack of electricity in the area.

"Turn it back on Fade, this is the opposite of containing them, they're scattering!" Comes Rough Justice's voice, relayed by Switchboard. There's no reply, but all the lights in the area are suddenly back on, and the creatures are onces again distracted by the energy around them.

The distraction is only momentary though. As one, the creatures suddenly look west along the coast line, tense and alert. Cass feels something too, a pull from that direction, something buzzing in his mind. The creatures howl again, and charge off in that direction.

Racing after them, Rough Justice asks Switchboard to connect him to Tracer, monitoring the situation from back in his tower.

"Tracer, it's Rough Justice, do we have any intel as to what's out along the coast, west of the South City Docks?"

"I'm looking now. There's not much out that way", comes the psychic reply, "ah... hang on... that's it, they'll be heading for the offshore substation."

"It's an offshore substation!", Rough Justice shouts the information to his colleagues as they dash down the road after the creatures.

"Switchboard, you need to evactuate all personel from the offshore sub station west of the South City Docks, right now!"

"I'm on it RJ, leave it to me", she replies.

As creatures move swiftly down the deserted street, some jump from car to car, absorbing the electricity from the batteries, more patches of fungus appearing on their bodies. Some of the creatures who haven't been feeding start to lag behind and eventually fall back, unconscious. It appears they need to constantly feed in order to survive.

The street runs parallel to the industrial port and harbour that makes up the city's docks. Large industrial cargo ships, and smaller fishing boats and other working ships line the harbour. There's nobody about at this time of night other than a skeleton crew of night watchmen, who gawp at the procession as it passes.

Within the minute, the substation, just visible in the distance, is bathed in the red emergency lighting of its evacuation beacons.

The stronger creatures at the front have now grown in stature and the fungus has started to bind itself together, fusing limbs and body parts, but instead of slowing the creatures down they seem to be gaining strength and speed.

The situation is rapidly spiraling out of control, but the group have now caught up with the creatures at the back of the pack. Sledgehammer bellows at the one nearest to him.

"YOU STOP NOW!" He brings a mighty fist down upon the creature, but instead of crumpling under the blow, she rolls with it, flattening herself in the same direction as the force, bearly slowing her pace. Somehow her body had entirely absorbed the impact of the attack and she now continues her single-minded race to the power station. Sledgehammer howls in frustration and tries again. This time, the creature sense the danger and rolls out of the way before the blow can connect.

"We need a way to contain these creatures, Fade is there anything you can do?"

Fade looks around at his surroundings, and promptly disappears into the ether, reappearing on one of the fishing boats in the harbour. Running over to a large net, Fade rests a hand on it, and man and net curl out of existance, rematerialising in the sky above the running creatures. In a complicated performance of teleportation, Fade dematerialises and materialises in and out of reality, pulling the net with him as he goes, and within seconds the whole thing is spread out into a flat trap, falling from the sky. Three of the creatures are caught underneath the heavy rope, thrashing and howling in fraustration, growing weaker by the minute as they're cut off from their energy source.

Without looking back, the group racing on, their quarry showing no signs of stopping or slowing. Catching up to one of the rearmost things, Cass jumps with surprising agility onto its back, the creature howling in dismay. The man's long bony fingers clasp around the creature's fungus-coated head and a low rumbling groan escapes Cass's lips as he begins to drain the mutant's life force. Cass's face grows drawn and gaunt until he appears a flesh-covered skeleton. The creature stumbles and falls, the force driving him onwards sucked from him by Cass, who looks up from his prey, eyes glowing green and a fungal patch spread across the left cheek of his once-more fleshy face. The hum of energy drawing the creatures to the substation pulls and claws at him, enticing and inviting him to feed.

"We need to get there before they do", he hisses at his comrades, masking his intent. The injection from earlier and the life force drawn from the dispatched creature battle Cass's near-perfect immune system, and even as Rough Justice and Sledgehammer look back at him to acknowledge his words, the fungal patch on his face has nearly faded completely from view; a green smudge on an otherwise clean visage.

Only two creatures now remain in the chase, and both have been feeding on considerably more electricity than the others as they have travelled, bouncing from car to lamppost to pylon, sparks jumping from each into the bodies of the creatures. More than half of the body of each is coated in green fungal matter. One creature's entire left side seems fused together, great clumps of the slimy coating moving almost comically in sychronisation with the thing's gait. Fade is suddenly next to it, and both disappear in a wisp of purple and black.

The two figures re-emerge inside one of the large rectangular cargo containers aboard one of the ship. Fade is glad the container is mostly empty - that could have been pretty crowded. The mutant thrashes and screams at the sudden blackout but already he is weakening. If Fade could see anything in the pitch dark of the container, he would see the fungus receding back into the creature's skin, but there is no light at all, and Fade dematerialises as soon as he can. The creature bangs on the walls in frustration, its insatiable appetite remaining unappeased.

Rough Justice has reached the largest of the creatures, and the only one remaining on the run. His physical attacks have been futile, the mutant ducking and rolling with the blows. The ones that do connect seem to have no impact at all. Fade is suddenly by his side.

"Allow me", he says confidently, reaching out with both arms to the creature, the two vanishing from the street as soon as contact is made. The three men, suddenly without quarry, slow down and stop, looking around for a sign of the whereabouts of the teleporter.

This was a mistake. Fade's immediate thought as he and the creature rematerialised in the same container he'd left the other was one of regret. Sensing his mutant brethren the newly teleported creature flings Fade backwards into the side of the container.

"There!" exlaims Rough Justice, pointing at the source of the noise. The three men hurry over.

Fade's breath catches in his chest, the wind knocked out of him as the stronger of the creatures bends over the weaker, defibrillating it in the way the heroes had seen the things do when they first awoke. The two creatures have enough strength between them to turn and rush at Fade, who teleports out of the container at the last second. He lies, panting, on the pavement of the street they'd been running down, his colleagues looking down at him.

"Switchboard, it's Rough Justice, connect the whole team please."

"It's done RJ, what's up?"

"Those things have been contained, the offshore substation is safe. What would you like us to do with the surviving things?"

"Er.. I'd rather not know."

In a show of initiative that surprises the others, Sledgehammer takes the sentence as a hint.

"Understand", he says softly to himself, jumping onto the container ship moored nearby and pushing the container holding the mutants into the sea. A sad look passes over his face at his actions and he stands for a moment in reflection. The others look on, unsure if that was what Switchboard had meant, or if she really meant that she didn't want to know.

"Well that's that then." Says Rough Justice, unnecessarily, and the group turn their backs on the water, ready to head back to the base.

"GREEN MEN GONE!" Sledgehammer shouts worriedly, pointing back at the net that Fade had used to trap the earlier creatures. The others can see that the big man is right; the creatures they had thought would perish under the net have disappeared.

"Uh... we may have a situa.." Rough Justice's words are interrupted by a gargantuan roar from the distance.

In a small room above a shop, a young, pretty, white-haired woman in a punky teeshirt, jeans and biker gloves jumps up from her window ledge seat and screams.

"Guys, you need to get here like, right now. Please?" Switchboards voice is heard shakily inside the minds of each of the group. It's quiet, frightened, and nothing like her usual confident self. Fade is back in the room before the others can reply.

"What is it?" he says, genuinely worried for the girl. She says nothing, but points a trembling finger out of the window. Looking on, Fade sees the source of the previous sound. A mountain of the fungal substance at least 5 storeys high can be seen in the street. Pulsating as it drains the electricity from people's homes, the electrical conduits and cables in the street. A dark circle surrounds the monster where the energy from the streetlights has been drained. Laying in the creature's wake is the darkened remains of the power station Fade had visited earlier that night. Fade relays what he can see to the others with Switchboard's assistance, and then he is gone again, leaving Switchboard alone once more.

"Go get him, guys". She says to herself. She didn't sign up for this.

"Power station's gotta be 20 minutes away, we need a vehical." Rough Justice yells as the three men sprint in the direction of the Power Station. By the side of the road, Cass notices the bodies of two people, green smudges staining their skin.

"It looks like they gave their lives to their kinsman." He notes to the others. Once the group are a little further into town, they come upon the cars, trucks and lorries of early morning workers starting their day, oblivious to the peril their city is in. As a truck with a vast oil tank attached turns toward them, Rough Justice says,

"That's what we need. Sledge, get in his way would ya?". Sledgehammer dutifully steps into the path of the truck, holding his palm out in the universal stop sign. The driver, wearing an old fashioned white and red baseball cap, slams his break on, a look of fear playing across his face at the big man's size and intent. The truck stops within inches of Sledgehammer's still outstretched arm. The big man looks around at his friend and grins.

"Stopped." He says, cheerfully.

"What the hell is going on?" Demands the man, suddenly angry at the interruption of his morning routine.

"Look, the whole city is in trouble, and we're the ones who're going to stop it from going to hell. We need your truck." The man looks at Rough Justice, suspicion giving away to fear as another monstrous roar breaks the early morning quiet. "Yeah," continues Rough Justice. "That."

"Ok, get in the cab, I'll drive."

"Transport me to the beast. I have no wish to be driven anywhere." Cass's intent rumbles through Fade's psyche. Fade had rematerialised in the Power Station but it was too late, there was no energy here to turn off; the building had been sucked dry by the monster. Cass relays his current location to Fade and dutifully, and a little resentfully, Fade obliges. The two men re-emgerge only a few metres from the base of the creature, who pays them no attention.

Fade teleports on top of the beast and concentrates his energy into draining that of his foe. Purple and black wisps coalesce around his hands, running down the creature's sides, puncturing the fungus and pulling at the life force of the creature. The giant mound flinches as though stung by an annoying insect, and roars in irritation. An impromptu fungal tentacle suddenly protrudes from the creature and swats at the point where fade had been, and he only teleports out of the way just before the impact.

Cass watches on in interest, and Sledgehammer and Rough Justice hurtle towards the Power Station in the truck driven by the man in the baseball cap, who sweats in concentration. They're less than ten minutes away at this pace.

Fade is straight back up on top of the creature and draining it once more, but this time the creature is a little more prepared, and catches Fade by surprise with a tentacle that has emerged behind him. Fade is swatted off the creature as if it were nothing. He flies in an awkward trajectory through the air and slams into a nearby building, the concrete cracking and crumbling slightly at the force.

Cass walks around to what appears to be the front of the creature and probes at the mental energy contained inside. Such hunger. It is the creature's single focus. As Cass perceives it, it's as though the beast sees using electricity and Cass suddenly realises what must be done. He holds up his hand to Fade; a "wait there" gesture.

"I can give you energy. I can feed you. Follow. I can provide."

Cass pushes his intentions at the creature psychically, hoping to be able to communicate on this more primal level. The creature stops thrashing frantically around and is now focussed single-mindedly on the man. Still, and expectant.

"South City Green. Tell the others" He calls over to Fade, without breaking his psychic concentration on the beast. Fade relays the information through Switchboard to the others, and they alter course slightly, turning onto the three mile stretch of Curfel Road: one of the two roads running South to North the entire length of the lower part of the city. Five minutes away.

Cass latches onto the beast's psychic energy, pushing the constant message at the creature.

"I will provide. Follow. You will feed."

As he walks briskly away from the creature, it dutifully follows, a giant docile shadow of its former destructive self. Fade looks on at the unbelievable scene; monster concentrating wholly on man. He can't think of any other way to help, so he follows the pair. The sky is lightening slighty now, and Fade hears something that breaks his focus on the scene in front of him. Sirens. Just what they need, Law enforcement.

As the truck nears the scene, the ominous shape of the beast is now visible in the distance, following a tiny figure into the lawns of the park.

"Woah woah, I didn't sign up for a kamikaze mission - you guys keep the truck". The driver slams his foot down on the break pedal and the truck screeches to a halt. The man jumps down from the cab. Looks back at the pair and shakes his head in disbelief at the morning's events. "Good luck boys."

Rough Justice shifts over to the driver's seat and they're off again, less than two minutes away.

As the sirens get louder, four police cars round a nearby corner and tyres squeal in protest. Cass feels the creature start slightly, distracted by the noise and energy, but he pushes harder, hypnotising the creature once more into giving him its full concentration. Eight law enforcers jump out of the cars, pistols pointed first at the creature, then to Cass, to Fade, and back again. Fade addresses them, palms forward, attempting to show he comes in peace.

"Hands in the air, don't move!"

"Don't shoot! Please, this creature has caused tonight's massive blackouts, there are injured people in the power station that need assistance. My friend here has the thing under his... spell." In truth, Fade has no idea what Cass is doing, but he knows that it's working, and that they really can't afford to distract it now, especially with all these new energy sources suddenly at the scene. Most of the officers gawp, boggle-eyed at the sight before them. "We need you to get anyone in the area well back – we have the situation under control."

One of the officers, a sergeant with more experience who has dealt with the aftermath of super-power scuffles in the past, knows how these things tend to play out; if they intervene now, the only result will be dead officers and a hostile still at large. She hates knowing that is the truth of the matter, and hates the so called "heroes" for making her feel so rendundant.

"Do as he says." She barks grumpily at the other police officers. "Form a perimeter and get everyone out of the God-damn park."

From the cab of the truck, Rough Justice, seeing the police perimeter forming, yells at Sledgehammer to bail. Sledgehammer obeys, jumping from the speeding tanker, rolling onto the pavement and looking up in time to see a funny tableau that appears nearly frozen in time. The police looking on from behind the park's high fence; the giant creature-mountain curled over in concentration at the small besuited figure in front of him; the tanker crashing through the fence and careening towards the beast.

Fade, seeing what's about to happen, bursts into existance in the cab of the truck, grabbing Rough Justice and dematerialising as the tanker swerves into the beast, sparks first flying from the vehical's electrics to the creature, and then igniting the contents of its tank. A gargantuan fireball envelopes beast and tamer. A great wave of heat is expelled and a shockwave knocks most of the onlookers to the ground (only Sledgehammers remains upright, a giant fist curled in front of his head in automatic defence). The creature and most of the park is gone, disintigrated by the intense heat of the gas-fueled explosion. A few smouldering fungal lumps lay blazing in the crater caused by the blast. Some of the police officers and many of the nearby onlookers cheer in relief; some cry, and some stand in shock.

Rough Justice looks on from where he and Fade have rematerialised: a rooftop nearby. Cass is gone. Vapourised by the explosion.