spin_kick_snap: (Contortionist: Spangles 02)
The drumbeat of the dead echoed across the lot like a relentless overseer on an ancient slave ship. Gorgon's confident smirk faded and even Stealth seemed shaken.

Below them, the exes parted to let the trucks drive up. Over a dozen of them, all spray-painted with different shades of green. Seventeens rode on the roof and hung out the windows. At the head of the parade, Rodney Cesares rode in the back of a National Guard truck decorated with skulls and a large neon-green 17 on the hood. They whooped and hollered and fired their guns into the sky.

And it continues... )

[NFI, NFB, OOC welcome. Preplayed by the masterful crew represented here, [livejournal.com profile] whoisalicewhite, [livejournal.com profile] tigerundercover/[livejournal.com profile] vdistinctive, [livejournal.com profile] rebelseekspizza, [livejournal.com profile] not_every_mage, and [livejournal.com profile] soniaroadsqueen. Bits of text adapted from Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines. Last of the posts for the day, though check out the comments for the last bit. Warning for NPC death]
spin_kick_snap: (Contortionist: Flips)
Stealth crouched on the arch about the Melrose gate with Gorgon, St. George, and the visitors. The other heroes had been dispatched to the other gates she'd marked as vulnerable on her map, but Zzzap was flying recon and they were backed up by almost fifty more of the Mount's guards. They were the most vulnerable gate, to be sure, with Gorgon standing up front as bait for Cesares, but she had estimated the capabilities of the assembled people would be more than capable of repelling an attack, even if Zzzap was not able to return to aid them.

The exes had always been thick here, but now they grew denser by the moment. They packed the space in front of the gate and pushed back into the streets. Hordes of them staggered down Melrose and up Windsor. The guards walked the walls and stared down at the hungry mob. Some of them manned scaffolding towers. The dead pounded and clawed at the stucco. Another fourteen gate guards rammed pikes and spears between the bars of the gate. The dead stiffened at their skulls cracked and their brains were shredded. Then the humans pulled their weapons free, stepped back, and then lunged at the gate again even as more exes staggered forward.

"When do you want us to start sweeping?" one of the men asked, his rifle tucked against his shoulder.

"This is not the attack," shouted Stealth. "Just a massing of forces. Conserve your ammunition for now. Pikes only!"

Another wave of crushed skulls echoed up to her.

Everything about this is fine. )

***


Zzzap flew through the air, lighting up the dark sky, and came to a hover above the arch where they were watching the crowd of exes grow. Something big and scaly at Van Ness. Thought you'd want to know, he said in his crackling, electronic voice.

"Damn it," St. George said, scanning the street. "How'd he get by us?" He looked at Stealth. "You all good here?"

"Go," she said. "And take Dante with you. Cairax Murrain cannot be allowed to breach the gate."

The big hero nodded and took off, with Dante close behind. "Demon's at Van Ness," said Gorgon as he watched them leave. "Not the best way for us to start, with you being wrong right at the top."

"Thank you for pointing that out," she said. Her cloak draped across her shoulders and down over the edge of the archway. "Can you see any further than four blocks under these conditions?"

Gorgon looked around. "Not really." Hid hand went to his mic. "All gates, let's get some flares up." Across the Mount, small comets shot into the sky and burst into stars. They could see for blocks now as red and yellow light bathed the surrounding neighborhood. Melrose was visible for a quarter mile past either end of the walls.

The walking dead kept coming. More and more, until the pavement vanished under a carpet of death. Thirty thousand dead eyes stared at them, and thirty thousand brittle hands clawed at the air. The exes pounded the walls, pushed at the steel fences, and rammed their arms between the gate's curling decorations. In the distance, they could hear engines roaring and horns blasting. The Seventeens were near.

Gorgon rolled his head in a circle until his neck popped. "Still feeling confident?"

"We are prepared," said Stealth. "We know their capabilities. It will be a challenge, but we are ready for whatever they have fight to fight us with."

And then the lights went out.

Again, everything is just great! )
spin_kick_snap: (Zombie 02 (Forlorn))
After Gorgon had hauled Josh away, Stealth had given the Fandom contingent very strict orders to stay put. The Mount was already a powder keg, the last thing it needed was an errant match in the form of a stranger that no one had seen enter and certainly didn't look like they'd spent the past nine months eking out a bare survival. Especially if any one of those strangers decided to mention the little bombshell Josh had dropped on them earlier.

Less than an hour had passed before Gorgon came to collect them, bringing them upstairs to Stealth's office. A meeting was still in progress, with a blueprint of the map hung up on the wall and the other superheroes clustered around it, Zzzap remaining a slight distance away to avoid charring paper or blistering flesh. "--walls are still secure, the fences are all reinforced, so the most likely attack points will be the Melrose Gate, Bronson, and North Gower."

"What about Van Ness or Marathon?" St. George asked.

"Too far east and north for a major assault," she said. "We can leave regular guard units there. If the Seventeens have done any reconnaissance of their own, they will know Marathon is sealed." She glanced up at Gorgon and nodded sharply to the chairs surrounding the large table. He gestured for their guests to sit.

"Bronson's sealed, too," Cerberus, the large mecha suit, pointed out.

"Sealed to regular exes. If they are being guided by Cesares, we must assume they will be smarter and more resourceful. It is the next closest gate after Melrose, the fence is low, and it is a very tempting target."

"I'd still like to see extra people at Van Ness," Gorgon said, slouching against a wall now that his tour guide duty was done.

"We're starting to run low on capable and trained people," Stealth said, her mask not facing him or any other hero, but the group at the table. "But it's possible that we have the means to make up the difference."

Jumping the gun a bit, eh Stealth? )

[NFI, NFB, OOC is love. Preplayed by [livejournal.com profile] whoisalicewhite, [livejournal.com profile] tigerundercover/[livejournal.com profile] vdistinctive, [livejournal.com profile] rebelseekspizza, [livejournal.com profile] not_every_mage, and [livejournal.com profile] soniaroadsqueen, all of whom I owe drinks to at this point. Bits of text adapted from Chapter Twenty-Four of Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines, ]
spin_kick_snap: (Zombie 02 (Forlorn))
Josh Garcetti checked on his latest patient, an appendicitis case. She'd come in on her own, he'd pulled out the offending organ, and now she was asleep. Her stitches were clean and tight, no seepage at all. He tried not to dwell on the fact that at one time, he could have repaired her without a single incision. Of course, lots of things had been different back then. The world had been alive, for one. So had Midknight and Cairax and Blockbuster and Banzai.

So had Meredith.

He made a few quick marks on her chart, then stepped out into the nurses' station and made another set of notes on the night log. Then he turned to the cabinets and found himself inches from Stealth. He stumbled back and the move yanked his withered hand out of its pocket. "Jesus," he snapped. "Do you have to pop out of nowhere like that?"

The cloaked woman said nothing.

Footsteps made him turn and St. George stepped in from the hallway. He was bare-chested and covered in bruises. "George," Josh said with a nod. "What happened to you? What the hell's going on?"

But George wasn't alone. Zzzap was with him, and Cerberus, and Gorgon, too, which was weird because Gorgon never came to see him. He suffered Josh's company only on Stealth's most stringent orders. And there were others as well, strangers. Or so he thought at first glance. But the two younger guys seemed familiar in a way that nagged at his memory and in the center of the group-- "Mystique?" he asked. "I thought you'd left to go find help after Banzai died."

"After you let her die," Gorgon spat. "While you were napping because you put her at the end of the fucking line and made her wait for hours."

Now he recognized the young men. They'd come to fetch Banzai home, back in the early days. She had refused and they'd fought and he'd left early, unable to take Nick's blatant jealousy and Max's smug amusement and his own guilt. "What are you all--" but Stealth interrupted him.

"When we were discussing the progression of the disease," she said, "you said you have had the virus hanging over you for almost a year. You were bitten eight months and six days ago."

He blinked twice, then a third time. "That all? Feels a hell of a lot longer. Sorry I don't have a computer-like mind like you." He shrugged and re-pocketed his dead hand. "Is that everything? Mr. Willis would love to get a few Vicodin so he can sleep."

Her feet shifted and she was between Josh and the cabinet. He sighed and pointed at a row of bottles. "Do you mind?"

"The first definite sighting of an ex-human," she continued, "was ten months ago. On March 9th, an unidentified woman assaulted a group of Seventeens in a parking lot. The attack which infected Rodney Cesares."

Josh shrugged again, but his eyes flitted between the two heroes and then back towards the tiny group of strangers. St. George realized his hands rolled themselves into fists.

Stealth still hadn't moved. She was tense but fluid. She was confident. "Your wife died almost a year ago, didn't she, Regenerator? Eleven months ago yesterday."

The doctor's glare shot past her, past Gorgon's stricken face and Zzzap's staticky buzz of shock. It landed on the three familiar faces in the crowd and he whispered. "I'm so sorry."

A little late for apologies )

[Content warning for mentions of previous, off-camera suicide attempts and attempted execution of an NPC. NFI, NFB, OOC welcome. Preplayed by the masterful crew represented here, [livejournal.com profile] whoisalicewhite, [livejournal.com profile] tigerundercover/[livejournal.com profile] vdistinctive, [livejournal.com profile] rebelseekspizza, [livejournal.com profile] not_every_mage, and [livejournal.com profile] soniaroadsqueen. Bits of text adapted from Chapter Twenty-Four of Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines]
spin_kick_snap: (Zombie 01 (Hungry))
The planned ambush of the Mount had been foiled, the Seventeens too impatient to wait until the gate had opened enough to let Mean Green out. The survivors had successfully routed the gangmembers, Gorgon dropping about half of the group before they'd gotten close. And, unbeknownst to most of the Mount, they'd even managed to collect three prisoners and were keeping them down in the holding cells by the Lansing Theater. In earlier years, the solid doors had held reels of archived film. Now the solid doors kept things in instead of out. Usually, these cells served as a holding pen for people who'd gotten drunk or rowdy, participants in the occasional fistfight or someone caught stealing. Now, however, they were holding prisoners of war.

Everything just keeps getting better )

[Content warning for attempted and completed suicide, though the act happens off-screen. Text taken from Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines, Chapters Twelve and Fourteen. NFI, NFB]
spin_kick_snap: (Zombie 02 (Forlorn))
After decontamination and quarantine, Gorgon headed over to Roddenberry, where Stealth had claimed the entirety of the executive fourth floor for herself. A lot of people had grumbled when she had, thinking it was some kind of status thing, but Gorgon knew better. It was central, with the best sight lines, and already wired for mass communication. Stealth had a lot more to worry about than her status among a bunch of survivors.

He rapped on a polished door and walked in. There was a large table people once sat at and discussed syndicated television shows and DVD box sets. Now all the chairs were gone and it was covered with maps and reports from across the lot. She'd moved over two dozen screens into the room, showing every street and every entrance to the Mount. Gorgon wandered over to look at them; there were far fewer people out than normal, even taking into account that it was winter.

Of course, winter in LA still meant 60 degrees, so that wasn't saying much at all. )

[NFI, NFB, OOC is love. Bits taken from Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines, Chapter Nine]
spin_kick_snap: (Zombie 01 (Hungry))
June

It had been almost six weeks since Banzai had died. She was the first of the heroes to have fallen, but she was not the last. Not after Regenerator got bit and fell into a coma. Once their healer was gone, the heroes started dropping like flies.

Who lives, who dies, who tells your story. )

But that hadn't been enough. Gorgon using survivors as batteries to keep his strength up while he protected their base at Hollywood and Cahuenga wasn't enough. Zzzap abandoning the final three cities to the exes to focus on LA wasn't enough. Not to save the thousands of people who were still hiding in their bolt holes around the city.

But Stealth had a plan )

[NFI, NFB, OOC is always appreciated! Adapted and edited from Chapter 27 "Saint George Kills The Mighty Dragon", from Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines.]
spin_kick_snap: (Banzai (Eyes))
SWAT Sergeant Hall considered telling her to leave, or perhaps something more emphatic. Stealth could see it in his eyes. Even though she had saved his life on two separate occasions, he was still dismissing her knowledge on this subject. "You cannot reason with them," she told Hall again. "They cannot be intimidated by displays of force or numbers. Your men must begin aggressive measures if you hope to hold them back."

Just another day in ex-LA )

In one of the earlier Sherlock Holmes mysteries, Arthur Conan Doyle (not yet a Sir) had made an observation on logical deduction: when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

There was, however, a specific flaw in that maxim. It assumed people could recognize the difference between what was impossible and what they believed was impossible.

The ex-humans had been appearing for weeks now; almost a month since the first known sighting. They had been captured, studied, and killed. Since the attack on the Chinese Theater, there had been warning posters, public service announcements, and news reports. Yet people still clung to the impossibility of the living dead even as it loomed over them, attacked their homes, and devoured their neighbors. Soldiers, police, and private citizens forced themselves to believe the exes were just infected with some curable disease, despite all the evidence, and would not take the necessary steps. They would not accept the truth. They would not act on it.

The outbreak would not be contained. It was too late. The world as they'd known it was over.

[Taken and adapted from Chapter Ten "Subtle Beauty" from Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines. NFB, though OOC is love]
spin_kick_snap: (Banzai (Psylocke))
Banzai looked around, eyebrows practically up to her hairline. Gorgon hadn't been kidding when he'd said that Stealth had called in every hero in LA for this meeting. Most, she recognized, by reputation if not by sight. Midknight was the man in the replica armor who could bring a crushing darkness no light could penetrate and a cold that could give frostbite. Blockbuster, who could knock down entire buildings with enough momentum. The Mighty Dragon, of course. Gorgon. Regenerator, looking drawn and exhausted. About nine or ten others she was able to put names to. There were others she didn't know, like the black guy in the wheelchair and the scrawny guy wearing a giant necklace. At first, Banzai had thought that he was wearing a clock on his chest, like some oily, white Flava-Flav, but closer inspection proved it to be--some kind of medallion? Either way, it was hard to look at properly, like staring into the sun.

And then their host, the woman who could only be Stealth. She was sitting at the head of the water-stained conference table, conferring with the guy in the chair. The guy looked very grave; Stealth's mask gave no clue what she was feeling. Kathy's hope that this was going to be some kind of committee meeting where they decided to create the Super Justice Pals of LA withered and died at the guy's expression. No one looked like that without a damn good reason.

At precisely 11, Stealth broke off her conversation and stood up. "Thank you for attending," she said in a crisp, no-nonsense voice. "I can imagine it was difficult for some of you to take leave for superhero business during regular civilian hours. I assure you, I would never make such a request lightly. The situation is urgent. If not responded to quickly, it will be dire. It is possible that I miscalculated by waiting the additional week to contact you. Please be seated and we can begin the briefing."

Stealth remained standing, the guy she'd been talking to wheeling close to the table on her left and the Mighty Dragon taking a seat to her right. Everyone else made their way to the table, some (including Banzai), carrying plates of refreshments that Stealth had provided. The chairs were mismatched and most were not of a height to have been intended to be used with this table, but Stealth had procured exactly enough for all of them. Banzai sat, sandwiched between Gorgon and the guy with the bling, across the table from Regenerator. When the last hero had taken his seat (Blockbuster, moving with a great deal of care), Stealth spoke up again. Unlike the Mighty Dragon, she had no problems speaking through a full facemask without her voice being muffles.

"Heroes of Los Angeles, I'm here to discuss with you our zombie problem )

[NFB, NFI, OOC is loved.]
spin_kick_snap: (Banzai (Psylocke))
When Barry Burke received a call on his cell phone in his Amherst apartment, the last thing he expected to hear was a woman's cold, clipped tones on the other end calling him by name. Not Barry, no, the woman on the other end called him Zzzap. His superhero name; the name only one other person knew that Barry could claim. As a black, wheelchair-bound scientist, he wasn't anyone's top choice for the superhero that flew around the country at Mach 5 as a blinding wraith made of pure energy. Barry might garner a second look or two because of his race and disability; no one could look at Zzzap for more than a second or two. Looking at his alter-ego was like looking at the heart of a star through a man-shaped cutout in space.

There was no way to connect Barry to Zzzap and yet this woman had. She knew he was home, had his cell number, and asked him to meet with her on the roof of the Capitol Records building. In Los Angeles. She said there was some kind of contagion in the city and she needed his speed. She'd added his immunity to all disease almost as an afterthought. She knew so much about him and over the course of the conversation, all he managed to get was her name: Stealth.

He was in LA half an hour later, as much concerned by the idea of a contagion in one of the most populous cities in America as he was by how Stealth had discovered him. Stealth was inclined to discuss exactly one of those topics. )

Moving low to the ground through a strange city, the best speed Zzzap could manage was around 400 miles per hour. Much more than that caused serious weather problems, not to mention sonic booms (which could shatter windows, windshields, neon signs, and lots of other expensive things). He started circling the buildings, checking every person he passed for the signs of infection. Anywhere people could be. Alleys. Roads. Parking structures. Subways. Zzzap peered in windows where he could, through walls where he couldn't. On his first pass, he'd have said he saw three-fifths of the city's population. No sign of the mystery disease, although he did stop two muggings and halted a high speed street race by melting the tires of both cars. He figured he could make at least one more pass before it was time to meet up with Stealth again, and hopefully he could catch a good chunk of the remaining population.

Street. Boulevard. Avenue. Drive. He was an hour into his second run when Zzzap saw him.

He was an old guy. His clothes were dark and a bit ragged. Probably homeless, staggering down an alley. His skin was the color of ash and his face was blank. Not emotionless, it just looked like he'd forgotten how to make any sort of expression. A quick check at either end of the street told Zzzap they were just north of Beverly between La Brea and Detroit.

Zipping back to hover over him, a full minute passed before he twisted his head up to look at the glowing wraith above his head. It usually didn't take people long to notice the white-hot man-shape sizzling like a sparkler. His eyes were cloudy--Zzzap wondered if perhaps the old man might be blind. He was staring right at the hero and not blinking. Something looked very wrong about him, and Zzzap couldn't figure out what.

Good evening, citizen, he said, careful to enunciate each word. Are you okay?

Still wide-eyed. Still no blink. Had he blinked once yet?

Sir? Are you feeling okay? Do you need any help?

The man's mouth opened, showing off an impressive collection of half-rotted teeth, and then he clacked them together again and again and again. To Zzzap, it sounded like those little wooden things Mexican dancers wear on their hands.

A fun little trick the magazines and television shows never figured out: Zzzap could see all the electromagnetic energy in the air, including radio waves, television broadcasts, and satellite transmissions. He knew there were seventeen GPS devices within three blocks of where he was floating, and he could list off the codes for each one. And if he had to, with a little concentration, he could have duplicated them or overridden them with a thought. Which was why it had been second nature to see the cell phone built into Stealth’s cowl and memorize the number. He focused on that and could feel the signal a phone would translate into an audible ring.

This was all fine. )

[Adapted and tweaked from "Power to the People," Chapter 7 in Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines. NFI, NFB, OOC is enjoyed]
spin_kick_snap: (Banzai (Psylocke))
Gorgon's bike shot down the street, slipping through intersections and around corners. He tried to cover as much ground as possible each night; the trick was to be seen as many places as possible, but never be moving so fast people thought he wouldn’t stop for something. There was a reason police cars seemed to move at "hanging out" speed a lot.

He'd also learned moving targets are harder to hit. There was a chip in his helmet where someone tried to blow his head off with a rifle. Knocked him off the bike, and that was the night he'd learned his power could drain someone from a block and a half away. Getting shot once was enough, and he didn't have Regenerator on speed-dial the way Banzai did. Hell, he didn't even have Banzai running around to stitch him up again.

Just another night in LA. )

[Adapted from Chapter 4, "Seeing the Big Picture" of Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines. NFI, NFB, OOC is enjoyed.]

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