Lorelei got out of her bed and went to the PC in her room. While not as advanced and all-encompassing as the mainframe she normally works from, it was able for her to take incoming calls from her room...in case it was something that didn't involve needing to access Central Command.
"Protector's Central" she said, lowering her voice to a deep alto.
"Protectors," came the voice of Deputy Police Comissioner Bartholomew 'Black Bart' Mischenko. "I think, I've got one for you. A Paranormal break in at the museum. I've got some men on the way to cordon off the area. A guard got word out after the silent alarm went off, he said her recognized one of the intruders as Quarrel, so I decided to call you."
Lorelei ran a check on the occupants. Ka-Sador was at the Fortress, Sting and Defender were present as well -- Sting in the guest room and Defender apparently working late in the lab.
"Thanks for the heads-up, officer. We'll scramble the team and get on it. PC out."
PC hit the internal priority alarms to signal the on-base team, then punched in the frequency to contact Wanderer.
The new sounding chime chirped as the Wanderer popped over to a silent warehouse loading dock. He was just finishing his patrol on the docks, miserable that everything was quiet, finally some action, he hoped. "Hello! you have reached the Wanderer, now available for parties. How may I help you?" he said cheerfully after thumbing the communicator switch.
"Oh, I got a party for you." Lorelei said as she pulled on some sweatpants. "We've got a break-in in progress at the museum, one of the perps is named Quarrel. Haven't gotten to central files yet to pull info, so hopefully you know who she is. The rest of the full-time team is en route, but it may be best if you go there immediately."
"I recognize Quarrel as a complete stranger," he offered. "But if there's a party then I mustn't be late."
The Wanderer readied himself determining how far he was from the museum, his estimated time of arrival and relayed them to PC. "I'll check in when I'm there."
"Sounds good, gotta get the rest of the team assembled. PC out."
PC left the room and headed to the computer banks that she called Central Command. The rest of the team was already there.
"Sorry, was getting Wanderer up to speed, he's on his way there now...sorry if I superseded your authority, Defender, but I thought you might want someone there now considering it's in progress."
She sat down at the banks and at first tried to locate the museum, then to see if there were any video cameras that she could patch into so she could get a live look at the scene both outside and inside. With her other hand, she tried to call up any info she had on Quarrel in the databanks.
"You want to wait around for a looksee or can I give you an update en route? Your call, Defender."
Sting was both amazed and, in a sense, proud at how matter of fact Lorelei was being. He knew she was a capable young woman, but she almost felt at home in a situation like this...more of a natural hero than he ever seemed to be.
Ka-sador slipped on his armour and awaited whatever information the databases provided. This Quarrel was not familiar to him and it was always beneficial to know one's enemy and their allies, he also hoped to learn more about what was at the museum which interested this person so.
PC found that the dossier from IPAC on Quarrel was slim. The pictures showed a bearded man, clad in tights and tunic of lincoln green, with a scarf tied across his eyes in place of a mask. On his hip was a quiver and he bore a small crossbow. The data file stated that he was an expert shot with the weapon, but that any further powers he might possess were unknown. He was last know to be in Europe as of two years ago, but had dropped out of sight after a series of successful robberies.
PC frowned. "Well, that's what we got. Robin the Hood. Mr. Field Commander, what's the plan from here.?" PC still worked on trying to patch in to a security camera feed at the site.
Like most security systems, the museum's didn't seem to be connected to an external network. She did however find a webcam that someone nearby had focussed on the main entrance. It wasn't much, but it was something.
Defender looked at the picture on the monitor. "Pull up the fastest route from here to there and batch it into my wrist comp, please. We'll head that way immediately. While we are on route, try the contact info for Beggar King."
Defender started toward the door. Remembering something, he turned once again to Lorelai. "Oh yeah. This might also be a good field trial for young Mr. Flex. You'll find his contact info in the databases. If you get him, please ask him to meet us outside the museum."
Ka-sador streaked down the tube in an ebony blur, he didn't like the tunnels and longed for the open air. As was usual, he would be an advance scout from the air. The Wanderer was en route and Ka-sador surmised that this Quarrel was not alone.
"Need a ride, Sting?" Defender asked as the heroes rushed toward the monorail. He made a mental note to look into the vehicle situation as fast as possible.
"Sure." Sting replied, getting onto the monorail. "You know, just as a something to noodle later, we might want to look into one of those portable wireless cams...that way, when we get to a fight scene, we know for sure that Lorelei can get an on-site patch-in and she can work for us in a battle scene."
"Way ahead of you, my friend. Computer. Activate video capture and computer uplink homebase. Open comm channel 'PC'." Defender pushed the call button for the railcar. "PC. Are you getting feed? You should be seeing exactly what I'm seeing."
Back at central, PC tried for the Beggar King first, but had no luck getting hold of him. "We have joy." PC replied to Defender's query. "No luck on the King, trying this Flex character now."
A couple of keystrokes later, she pulled up the information for this new Flex character and dialed. While it rang, she reads Defender's report on the newcomer.
Hearing his phone start to ring Flex picked it up and responded, "Hello, how can I help," said he already excited even before he knew what he was getting himself into.
PC couldn't help but chuckle. "You may not be so eager for this when you get there, chief. This is Protector Central, I'm callin on behalf of Defender. This is Flex, yes?
"Ha! Ok, thanks for the warning," said Flex to the unfamiliar but friendly voice.
PC gave Flex the address. "You're to meet the team there. Be ready, the bad guys are paranormal. Can I confirm for Defender you'll be there?
"Yup got you, I will hi tail it over there asap," Flex said as he looked around. "Time to change and grab some local transport going my way," he thought as he considered the fasted route to the Musuem.
"Cool, PC out."
"Well though I wanted to meet Defender's group, I did not expect it to happen this fast," thought Flex as he sat comfortably on board the roof of a bus heading toward the Musuem.
* * * *When the Wanderer arrived at the front of the museum, he found a squad car just pulling in with out lights or sirens.
The Wanderer flagged down the police car and checked in to see if they had any more information. "What do you know?" he cracked. "Is there anyone inside besides the intruders? Any security guards?"
"We've got another car out back," said the cop. "There were a few guards inside, but we think they're down."
"Any idea how many bad guys?" The Wanderer did a quick look over the museum to get a feel for it.
"At least one, this Quarrel guy. The call said multiple bogies, but no count as to how many."
The Wanderer eyed the tapestry advertising the weapons exhibit, "Lovely," he murmured. "This is not a coincidence, I'd wager," he said aloud. The officer questioned with a "What?" and the Wanderer answered, "Oh nothing."
"Officer Muldoon," the Wanderer squinted at his nameplate, "I shall have several oddly dressed friends showing up soon. Do treat them with respect, tell them I began to party without them."
The Wanderer pulled out his communit and set it to vibrate before disappearing from view. Almost in an instant he was inside.
The Wanderer appeared on the ground floor of the museum with his usual hiss of displaced air. He glanced around and saw nothing too unusual. The main staircase was empty and he saw no figures moving in the front section of the museum.
The Wanderer crept up the main stairs toward the special exhibit halls. At the top of the stairs, he found a security guard, unconscious but otherwise unharmed.
He saw a light from the medieval exhibit, quickly extinguished. Then heard the sound of machinery. Perhaps an elevator, from the far end of that hall.
The Wanderer got to the security guard and checked his pulse. Finding him ok, but unconscious he picked the man up effortlessly and quickly descended the staircase. Once there, he set the man down near the entrance and returned to an advantageous site to observe that elevator.
He tried to find the elevator by sound, and decided there must be access to it through the gallery. There might be another way round to it, but he wasn't sure.
From shadow to shadow the man in black moved throughout the darkened gallery looking for signs and other markings to indicate an elevator. 'There are at least two,' he thought, as he indicated the source of light and elevator operation. He decided to move to another vantage point, careful to listen out for any movement.
He heard a whisper, "That should be it. Let's get out of here before the cops arrive." The voice had an Australian accent.
The Wanderer strained in the dark to see where the voice came from, and proceeded to move nearby. Unless the speaker was crazy like himself, there must be someone, or someones, with him.
He saw a momentary flash of light across the gallery as the freight elevator opened. Two men stood there, one dressed in what looked like Australian outback gear the other in a blue bodysuit. The man in blue had a longbow in his hand and a quiver of arrows on his back. The two pushed a dolly with a box on it into the elevator and began to descend.
Quickly the Wanderer took off down the stairs and popped outside the museum.
"Well this looks like my stop, and the local police look like they are here, time to see if I can find Defender". Flex jumped from the bus, landed softly and approached a waiting officer near the entrance of the museum. "Hi Officer, ah, Muldoon, erm I am looking for the Defender and his pals could you tell me if they are here yet and if so where I might find them?"
"Easy hero," thought Flex, "need not be so suger sweet, its not like the guy can read minds." Flex laughed as he lingered over that last thought.
Flex and Muldoon both heard a soft pop and saw the Wanderer coming toward them across the street.
The Wanderer exited and did a double take at the oddly dressed man. "I'm not exactly sure who you are, but if Muldoon will vouch for you then you're needed."
"I am a 'friend' of Defender and Ka-Sador. Someone called Protectors' Central called me and told me to be here to meet the others including Defender and Ka-sador. You can call me Flex - I'm the sort of soft, flexible and strong type" said Flex. Though the Wanderer could not possible see Flex's mouth through his full face mask there was more than a hint of a grin behind it in
what he had just said. "OK, so why don't you fill me in as to what is going down whilst we wait for the others?" Flex asked the Wanderer.
"We may not have time for much information swapping, they are on the move." The Wanderer looked to Muldoon, "You've gotten a familiarity with the museum. Where does the elevator go?"
After figuring out which elevator the Wanderer meant, Muldoon replied, "That sounds like the freight elevator. Should lead to the loading dock at the back."
"You better tell your boys back there to expect trouble, or better vamoose!" said the Wanderer. "Flex, it is showtime!" And the Wanderer was off and running to the loading dock.
"Gotcha! I am right behind you," Flex said as he sought to catch the fast moving Wanderer as he moved to the back of the museum.
The wall around the parking area presented no problem to either the Wanderer, who teleported to the other side, or to Flex who simply leapt up and over. There were lights in the parking lot, and they could see a panel truck at the loading dock. There were a few other cars in the area as well, including a police car near the open exit gate, an SUV which was moving toward the gate, and two sedans parked next to each other near the back door.
Flex caught up with the Wanderer and pulled him to one side. "OK my friend what is the plan from here?" said Flex said as he looked around to see if anyone was coming from the museum area to the truck. "Listen, perhaps we should scout things out. Wait a sec, let me have a look inside. Don't let what I am about to do freak you out man, there is a good reason why I called myself Flex"
With that, Flex'es body seemed to suddenly loose all shape as if to top half of his bodies bone structure simple bagan to loose its solid shape. His head changed colur to darken and his face began to distend as he pushed his body snake-like along the floor pushing his eyes up to the loading dock and around the wall clearly looking around to see if there was anymore to be seen in that area.
The Wanderer stepped back a little surprised, and just smiled. 'Ah,' he said to himself, 'what an interesting fellow.' To assist, the Wanderer took up a position where he could keep an eye on the dock in case any new guests arrived.
Flex rolled himself over to the loading dock and poked an eye up over the edge. The dock appeared empty. The truck had a few crates on it, but was mostly empty as well. There did not appear to be any one in the truck or the loading dock area.
With the coast appearing clear, the Wanderer popped to the front of the truck. He concentrated, staring at the truck, and Flex watched as the tires began to balloon out under the truck, then started to deflate.
"Hmm, looks like we are at the right place at the right time, there is no one around," said Flex, as his body rolled back into a more average human shape. Turning around to the Wanderer he said, "How about we go have a closer look and see if we can give our intruders a surprise they won't forget"
The Wanderer looked to Flex, "I believe the element of surprise is ours if we wait to ambush them here, but I was never good at waiting for a party to come to me. You do that stretchy thing pretty well, can you go see where they are, and if there is a better spot to watch the festivities?"
Flex did a reconnaisance, and by the time he returned with the information that no one seemed to be around, the rest of the heroes had arrived and were entering the parking area in their own inimitable fashions.
Sting zipped in and stood next to Wanderer. "Who's the new guy? Well, newer than *ME*, I mean..."
The Wanderer adjusted his hat as Sting's aftertow blew into him, "This is Flex, whom I believe some of us already know."
"Yes," Defender said, extending his hand in friendship. "Good to see you again. Flex assisted Ka-sador and myself a few weeks ago in our patrols. He also brought us some interesting and disturbing news. However, there's time to discuss this later."
The Wanderer briefed his comrades with what he had witnessed inside the museum. There were two men, he described, and Quarrell seemed to fit the man with the bow. They had taken the elevator, the Wanderer informed them, but should have arrived here by now if that were their destination. With the Protectors assembled, canvassing the museum seemed like a much better proposition. The Wanderer looked over to Ka-sador and Defender, "Fortunately, we have experience when it comes to building invasions!" he said with a smile (see Issue Fourteen, Bungle in the Concrete Jungle, Part Three).
"Shall we split up and see where they snuck off to?" he posed.
"OK," said Flex, "in which case perhpas we need to move in as a divided team rather than on our own. At least that way we have some back up if we run into trouble. Either way we perhaps ought to move," Flex said as he gestured to the lift doors.
"Still, Ka-sador, could you do an aerial sweep to make sure there aren't any other escape vehicles nearby. The rest of us will scatter throughout the building and see if our birds are still in the coop. Remember that this is a museum. Try not to break anything." Defender stretched his arms out and headed for the back door.
Ka-sador took to the air to see if there was any suspicious movement in the general area of the museum. From high above he should be able to get a fair sized view of the outlying area and anyone or thing speeding away or waiting would bear further investigation.
Even at this hour, there was still traffic on the road. There was nothing which struck Ka-Sador as particularly suspicious in the immediate vicinity.
The other heroes, save Ka-Sador, joined Defender in the museum. They spread out and infiltrated the building eventually meeting in the upstairs gallery. They were satisified that the perpetrators had escaped.
"Woah, something is not right. These guys cannot just vanish like that, maybe we should scout for clues," Flex said looking at Defender.
Disappointed, the Wanderer suggested the heroes reassemble outside. "Someone must have seen something, all the boys in blue couldn't have been eating doughnuts."
"Nothing more really that we can do. I'll go let the police know the coast is clear." Defender headed for the door. "Someone check on the security guards, please."
Outside, the heroes saw another police car had pulled up next to the one by the gate and one officer was covering the parking lot with his sidearm while another was helping two men out of the first car. The officers in the first car were shaking their heads and looked as though they had just woken up.
"I'm afraid there is nothing we can do here, officers. The place is yours." Defender found a spot of sidewalk that had his name on it, sat and felt himself drifting off. Only when Ka-sador poked him did he realize he had dozed. "Sorry. Too many late nights at the base."
The Wanderer approached the recovering policemen. "What happened?"
"I'm not sure," said one. "We were just sitting there, watching the place, when --- the lights went out."
"We found these," said one of the newcomers, offering a blunted arrow and a crossbow quarrel of similar design. "By the way, the museum director has been notified and is on his way here."
The Wanderer took the evidence and sniffed, "Interesting. Please tell the director to see me when he gets here," he requested. The Wanderer rejoined the heroes and handed the arrow to Ka-sador, "This is what KO'd our backup."
Ka-sador did the same as the Wanderer and sniffed both the shaft and the quarrel.
"I think we can quess where our friend Quarrel's name comes from." Defender said with a stiffled yawn. "Any bets that some crossbows are missing from the Medieval weapons exhibit?"
Defender traced a finger in the air, this time speaking to himself. "We really need a more rapid mode of transport."
Ka-sador began to speak, [THREE SCENTS FOWND. TWO IN MUSEUM, ONE ON ARROW. THIRD ON QUARREL ONLEE. AT LEEST THREE.]
A sedan pulled up near the gate and a thin woman leapt out. Under any other circumstance, she would have been dapper, as it was she was merely well-groomed. The police stopped her, and she showed some ID then made her way over to the heroes. "I'm Lynn Morgenstern," she said, "Director of the Museum."
The Wanderer popped over offering his hand, "Charmed. It appears someones decided to frequent your exhibit after hours and took something. As soon as you determine what is missing please notify us," he produced a card. "This could be for money, or other gain," he trailed off never sure what lurked behind an ancient artifact thanks to his dealings with The Mystic.
"Thanks," she said. "I'll do that. I've got the special exhibits curator on his way here now. How are my guards?" she asked anxiously.
"They appear unharmed," said the Wanderer, "for the most part. We may need to speak to them as well."
"Unless you need me, then, I'd like to see them and the museum," she said.
"Blast," said Flex as it was evident that the villains had escaped. "I had a funny feeling that when you and me," Flex said pointing at Wanderer, "went to the back that they might try and slip out the front. I am not sure what we do know, friends, but I do not like being taken in like this. I will see if I can dig anything out on this one - I have some sources that may let us know some more. In the meantime what is the plan from here in? Do we go take off to debrief once Wanderer has had a chat with the Boss of this place" Said Flex as he indicated the museum behind them.
"Nope. I believe we simply go home and go back to bed," Defender said. "Nothing more exciting than that."