Lords of Chaos, Part 7: Scoop

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(July 31st)

“Hey, Joe.” Lucky waved cheerfully as his friend walked into the room. The Champions, along with the Sayleen heroes, Nadia, and Strategos, were sitting around a table with a map of the city spread out before them. “How's it going?”

“Good.” Joe smiled and nodded. “Glad to see you made it in okay. What's new?”

“Evil threatens the fabric of this town.” Shinn Zuki spoke up ominously from her place at the table. Even in her traditional House Shinn uniform, their shades the rather unflattering purple and silver of her House, she looked serious enough for the phrase to carry weight for a few moments. Then she smiled embarassedly, and the tension broke. “At least, it's supposed to.”

Sitting beside her, Jhim smiled lopsidedly. His old blue hat was back on his head, but as a concession to his mother, he had carefully cut holes in it for his antenna to stick out of. They dipped slightly over his head as he spoke. “We've been looking over the three locations that Dragonfly was spotted at, trying to figure out if there's a method to it. All three were places that Malleus Kane later attacked, so…”

“Oh.” Joe tried to grab the seat next to Karen. She barely glanced at him, except for shifting her seat a fraction of an inch further away. Trying not to look crestfallen, he glanced around at everyone. “So you think they're connected?”

“Oh, yes.” Nadia nodded, intent on the map. “I think Don wanted us to see him, too. He's gunning for something. Maybe this.”

“So, you would say that there's some truth to the rumour that the Oligarchs are planning to destroy Milwaukee. Good to know.” Said a middle-aged man standing directly behind Nadia. He tipped back his fedora, glancing at the map in front of him.

The reaction was immediate. Even as Nadia cried out in surprise, kicking her chair back as she dove forwards, Jhim had his pistol out, Karen and Joe spun to combat positions, and Amber was halfway around the table. By then, however, the man wasn't. Instead, he was leaning in the doorway, idly munching on an apple. “Mister Ladd, any combat on your dimensional double killing five people in Philidelphia last night?”

Karen's eyes narrowed. “Saller. This is trespassing.”

“Your door was open.” The man smiled easily, holding out a hand to Amber. “Mack Saller, East Coast Post. Maybe you've heard of me.” He scratched short red hair, offering an ear-to-ear grin.

“I have.” Amber didn't smile back at the man. “You're the teleporting paparazzi.”

“Hey, now. I'm a genuine reporter, scout's honour.” Saller pouted dramatically. “I'll have you know I won a Pulitzer for my expose on Golden Gate's drug problems. It was a very big deal.”

“And yet, here you are. Trespassing. Bug off.” Karen stood from her chair. “You can't report anything from this, either. If you do, I'll have you arrested.”

“The door…” Saller started.

“Was locked and you know it. You opened it.”

“Try and prove it.” Saller winked. “The Post has millions of dollars set by in a legal fund for just that sort of thing.” As the others started to glare, he raised his hands defensively, before closing one around the apple core. It vanished without a trace. “But yeah, no problem. I know there's a story now, there are plenty of ways to find out what it is.” He took a few steps back, and made a flourish with his hand, pulling forth a notepad while he grabbed a pencil from his pocket with his other. “Any comments on the continuing dissolution of your team, by any chance? I heard maybe you and Mistral were going to duke it out.”

“Get. Out.” Karen took a step forwards. With a mocking bow, Saller vanished instantly. Karen clenched her fists. “Urrgh! I hate that man!” She stormed back to the table.

“Why don't you just call the cops?” Lucky asked.

“He really does have that legal fund. I tried it once, and got hit with a countersuit for libel. Not worth the bother.” Karen shook her head. “I just wish I knew where he got his scoops from.”

“Malleus Kaine told him about us.” Shinn Zuki had a perplexed expression on her face. “He was hoping to see what we were up to, and now he's planning to stake us out for a while.” When everyone turned towards her, she shrank back into her seat. “I mean… I know that humans have certain issues about psychic powers being used surreptitiously, but he was trespassing, so…”

“Brilliant.” Karen grinned. “Miss Shinn, that is truly great. Do you know where he's planning to stake out next?”

“The dam.” Zuki pointed on the map. “He saw something about the other sites – didn't catch what right away. But he thinks Kane's going to attack the dam, and he wants to be there.” She looked over to Lucky. “And… uh… that thing he said, about your double? It was true.”

“Probably Scourge.” Lucky frowned. “I hope the SEA deals with him before he gets anyone else, but it's not like we can do anything about it right now.” He tapped the map worriedly. “Why did Kaine put him on our trail?”

“To drive me insane.” Karen glared off into space. “He's been doing that pretty steadily for months. He probably just wants us off-balance.”

“Or he wants a press witness to that dam. We'd better get set up in advance.” Amber stood up, with a smile. “Karen? Can we get support from the Victors?”

“Absolutely.” Karen smiled. “I've wanted to take Kaine down a notch or twelve for a while. You've got our support.”

“Great.” Amber said. “Then let's do this.”

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