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 Post subject: A Rotted Capes' Adventure (Choose Your Own Adventure)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2020 2:08 pm 

Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2016 1:41 pm
Posts: 59
This is something I found buried in my hard drive. Back in the days of Google+, I was asked to write a Choose Your Own Adventure. People would vote each week on how the story would progress. I opted to do Rotted Capes. The following is that story - along with the choice people made. Included will be all three choices I presented at the end of each section with the BOLDED choice being what was voted on.

This was a fun little writing exercise from like six years ago!


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 Post subject: Re: A Rotted Capes' Adventure (Choose Your Own Adventure)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2020 2:08 pm 

Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2016 1:41 pm
Posts: 59
You remember when you first saw Titan battle in Paradigm City. The Terror Twins had created a mini-black hole in the middle of the Financial District, and you were stuck in a bus that was being pulled towards the vortex. Everyone was screaming around you. Your mother held you close whispering for you to close your eyes and that it will all be over soon.

Your mother. Ever the pessimist.

But you kept your eyes open. You were the first to see the hulking brute of the man come crashing down, a crater ballooning inward on the street where he landed. His arms – powerful, hulking arms of muscle that were far larger than you’ve ever seen before - took hold of the front of the bus, stopping it mid-pull. More screams – glass was breaking. Titan was trying to shout but his voice was lost.

You like to think it was something optimistic.

The black hole pulled on the man as he kept the bus from inching any further, his feet grinding into the stone of the street like two anchors. Yet the hero’s clothing wasn’t built to withstand the force of a black hole. Fabric began to tear – first from his shoulders and chest and then on the mask that protected his identity. And that’s when you saw his eyes.

Soft. Gentle. Blue.

And then the mask was gone. It was ripped from his face just as the black hole popped out of existence, the force pulling at the bus vanishing with it.

You never dropped your gaze the entire time. You just stared at the man standing in front of the bus, his muscles rippling and sweat drenching his now exposed face. That was the first time you ever saw Titan, the savior of Paradigm City. That was your first exposure to the powers of the Ultra.

That Titan is no more. That world is no more.

All of it has been replaced with the undead apocalypse. Instead of cheering masses, there was only the moans of the undead that haunted the streets of Paradigm City and the world. The heroes of yesterday had all been devoured, swallowed up by the disease brought on by the dead. Those Ultras – like Titan – were reborn into death and hunger, still able to think and hunt and use their powers but this time not for the good of man; but for the thirst of their own bloodlust.

This is the world that you live in now. This is the world you will die in now. You are one of the few ‘special’ individuals left. And it’s your job to keep the few survivors alive.

What sort of superhero are you?


A) You are an Ultra. Some call you a mutant, some a freak. Now, those alive call you their best chance for survival. When you found out you could manipulate electricity at the age of thirteen, you were delighted. You had always wanted to be a hero – like Titan. Now you know that if you're bitten, you'll end up like your idolized hero: A hunger-driven monster bent on feasting on the flesh of the living.

B) You are a Tech Hero. What you lack in mutations, you make up for with intelligence. Ever since you were a child, circuit boards and soldering guns have been your preferred toys. At the age of eighteen, you had already received your masters from MIT. Now, your suit is the only thing that is keeping the surviving masses alive. You might not be as mighty as your idealized hero Titan, but your suit is tough and strong – and heck, you just got those jet boots working.

C) You are a Skilled “Hero”… though some still see you as the villain that you once were. You never considered yourself bad, just deserving of the finer things in life. You were a skilled jewel thief that bested heroes with your wits and skills alone. You even escaped Titan himself once during a museum heist. Now you are using your skills to keep yourself, and by proxy the people you’re with, alive.


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 Post subject: Re: A Rotted Capes' Adventure (Choose Your Own Adventure)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2020 2:09 pm 

Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2016 1:41 pm
Posts: 59
It is somewhere between the street exploding in front of you and crashing into the abandoned station wagon’s windshield that you realize that this whole apocalypse thing just isn’t for you. Back when the only thing you had to worry about was the running boots of museum security and the occasional cape ruining your fun, you lived a life of fun and leisure. You had the whisper of supermodels with super low IQs giggling into your ear, instead of the gnashing teeth of the undead chomping at your neck. The only hard decision for you was if you were going to make love before or after a heist, and the only time you’d feel the pangs of hunger was when you had to send back a succulent meal because you felt the steak wasn’t to your liking.

The end of the world was a huge crick in your neck; a punch to the gut.

You feel the glass crunch under you before you bounce, roll off the side of the hood, and come crashing down on the pavement. You blink away the confusion that's whittling away at your head as the world around you softens for a few seconds before returning in an explosion of noise and chaos.

“Dead Cape!” Rubia is screaming from behind a half collapsed newsstand before raising her assault rifle to fire a three-second burst towards the figure crouching like a gargoyle top of an apartment building. The creature blasts off from its perch with a minor explosion of sickly green energy, catapulting itself to the next rooftop overhead.

Hands lock onto your shoulder - and in a split second, you’re on your feet and spinning with your elbow sticking against the throat of zombie -

“Cheshire! It’s cool! It’s just me!”

And there is Stevens, eyes wide and hands pressing against your arm to keep your from crushing his windpipe. You stare at him for another second, your heartbeat being felt in your eyes before another burst comes from Rubia. You drop your elbow before turning your attention towards the creature overhead. It continues to evade Rubia’s shots, darting between chimneys and rises only to reappear again.

Rubia and Stevens aren’t gifted. They don’t have powers or technological wonders to save the day. In truth, you are pretty sure Rubia was stuck behind a desk at a law firm before the fall two years ago and Stevens was a manny. However, unlike the rest of your twenty-person enclave that hides in a school outside of the city, they were brave enough to come with you to scavenge in Paradigm City. If only brave meant smart.

“You’re wasting ammo. He’s delaying!” you shout as you hobble towards the newsstand, Stevens falling in line behind the you. “Stop shooting before you bring the rest of the damn city down on us.” The creature pops out again from behind the chimney, a clawed and partially decomposed hand burning brightly. It lets out what sounds like a wheezing cackle before releasing another burst of energy towards you. It slams down into the sidewalk a few feet away before exploding outward, sending shards of pavement and dirt into the newsstand.

He’s either a lousy shot or doesn’t have dibs on the first kill...

“He’s part of a pack,” you say as you come up to Rubia. You catch the flinch from her eyes but that’s the only thing she’s willing to show you. Stevens, on the other hand, is already cursing under his breath.

Most Ultra-Zs are territorial. The biggest and the baddest have carved up territory for themselves that other Ultra-Zs don’t enter. Packs, however, are for those Ultra-Z’s that aren’t powerful enough to keep a territory. These were the people in life who had an ultra gene that allowed them to grow their finger nails longer at an ‘astonishing’ rate or could create minor blasts of fire or ice when nervous. When they turned, their Ultra-gene was enough to keep them hungry, smart, and cruel... but not strong enough to survive on their own. Alone? They weren’t any more dangerous than they were in real life. In a pack...

The moans of the undead come from behind you. Stevens releases a few shots from his Beretta as three normal zombies stumble out from the alleyway nearby. He takes down two before your own shot rings out from your Smith and Wessen - a classic with a punch - blowing the head off of the third. There is a slight pause before another group stumbles out. Hell, actually, several groups are now stumbling out of store fronts and alleyways and converging on your position. Undead feet shuffle and crunch over the road, moans echoing as the city comes to life with the living dead.

“Oh shit!” Stevens stands up, firing another volley into the approaching mass. You move to his side, firing two more shots from your gun before reaching into your utility belt to pull out a handful of pellets. You squeeze your gloved hand into a fist until you feel the crunch of the pellets and then toss the handful towards the exposed alleyway. There is a slight whistle as several somethings whine to life - and then the alleyway explodes into a mesh of nano-threads. The threads impale the zombies before embedding their ends into the brick of the alleyway.

You've plugged the nearest streams of zombies for a minute. But the threads won't hold for long.

“We can’t stay here - he’s just delaying us long enough to get the rest of his pack to surround us.” You toss a glance back up at the creature - its torn spandex and rigors being an all too familiar sight for you these days. You didn’t have long to think of a way out. If you stay too long, you’ll end up facing off with several of this things pack mates, zombies that are attracted to the gunfire, and possibly one of the bigger Ultra Z’s that decide to investigate.

What do you do?

A. It’s not your finest idea but the manhole cover is a few yards away. Rubia can draw the Super Z’s fire long enough for you to get the manhole cover off and then the group down into the sewers. The only problem is that you know the Rat Queen has been seen feasting on survivors in the sewers in this part of Paradigm City.

B. Through the bodega behind you. The gate is down and locked, but that shouldn’t be a problem for you. Of course, you are starting to hear banging from inside the store so it might be a fight when you lift open the gate, but most places typically have a back door.

C. You might not be a supervillain, but you aren’t an angel. Shoot Stevens in the knee and throw him into the nearest cluster of undead. While the zombies there munch on him, you and Rubia can make a run for it. 


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 Post subject: Re: A Rotted Capes' Adventure (Choose Your Own Adventure)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2020 2:10 pm 

Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2016 1:41 pm
Posts: 59
The manhole is tempting - yet another blast from the Super Z overhead reminds you that you are dealing with more than the mindless dead. A pack is coming which means you need to move: all of you need to move. Packs generally don’t split up too far apart and you’ve already wasted time and ammo. So as the debris from the latest energy blast rains down on you like hail, you spin on your heels, take aim towards the simple lock on the bottom of the bodega’s gate, and squeezed the trigger.

***

True, you were a cat burglar who had busted into more vaults than you can count, but sometimes you just have to forget about all that fancy toolwork.

The lock’s the type you’d find someone using to guard their gym locker. The metal is cheap and rusted from the rain so when the bullet strikes, the lock practically disintegrates into a collection of scraps. Rubia roughly grabs your shoulder and pushes you down, her assault rifle slinging over your head and shoulders as she releases a new stream of bullets into the approaching mobs. Even with the sonic protection your mask provides, your ears are ringing.

“Stevens, gate!” you shout before you draw a second gun - this one a simple Beretta that the police of Paradigm had once used against criminals such as yourself. You aim both weapons towards the gate as Stevens takes hold of the bottom rung, grunting as he forces the gate in a direction it hadn’t gone for some time: up. The metal squeals in protest, rust falling like dust. And by the time it’s half way up, hands are reaching out from the darkness of the store, grasping hungrily Stevens’ shirt.

You dive forward and onto your back, firing before you hit the ground. You slam under the gate, the stench of three years worth of hot summers and decomposition in the store assaulting your nose. Bullets slap into dried flesh, bits of bone and decomposition being blasted backwards as the bullets chip away at the group of undead. One hand on Steven’s shirt goes limp before it releases as a bullet sinks into the creature’s head. The rest drop as their now-dead companion falls back into them.

“Up, up, up!”

It’s Rubia - she knows the drill, as does Stevens. He pushes the gate another three feet before it gets stuck on something.

“Duck!”

Stevens hits the ground next to you just as Rubia spins with her rifle, firing away at the remaining cluster in the store. Their bodies dance backwards before finally falling back into a discarded display of what might have been porn magazines. They’re not dead yet - well, dead again - but they’re at least out of our way.

BOI-SHluuuuuusp-NK!

What sounds like a bag of meat hits the street right in front of the newsstand. It smashes down with a grunt, the ground giving a slight tremor before it suddenly flies upwards again - bouncing. It’s bouncing.

Another member of the pack has joined in. And you know who it is. .

Tyler Warrens was a one act Ultra: His body was primarily made out of something akin to rubber. And while it wasn’t tough enough to stop bullets, it did allow him take a punch better than most. Oh, and it allowed him to bounce; off the walls, off the ground. Of course in a world made of people like Titan or Night Lord, one trick ponies weren’t needed so Tyler joined a clown college, got famous, and starred in his own Saturday morning television show as Rubber Gut.

Needless to say, Rubber Gut didn’t last long in the apocalypse. Hell, you heard he was eaten alive by the kids he was trying to save. Now he stalks the streets with the rest of the undead in a torn clown get up and a rigors smile on his lips.

You’re on your feet the moment you see the clown launch up into the air, cackling like a mad man! Rubia turns and takes aim for the giant mass of fat and colorful overalls before squeezing the trigger. A click sounds before Rubia curses. You take hold of her, pushing her back into Stevens. “Get in!” you shout as you work the patch off the wrist of your right glove.

Stevens and Rubia rush into the store behind you, Stevens’ pistol firing to finish off the rest of the undead that were now on the store’s floor. You crouch low to the ground, your hand held up as to shield the sun as the super Z starts falling towards you. To the creature, you probably look like countless other prey who have tried to shield themselves from the gnashing teeth of the undead.

“No time to clown around!” the creature squeals as he falls at break neck pace towards you.

The one thing you hate most about the Super Zs is that they think they’re clever. Maybe it’s some throw back to the want to say something snappy for the press or a comic book, but when flesh is hanging from their lips, there is typically something more important to pay attention to. The only thing you love about the Super Zs is that they have some sense of a predatory hierarchy. They were the wolves, we were the sheep.

Well, bah-ram-you, asshole.

You throw your weight into the spin as the barbed-nano thread snakes out of your wrist and twirls with you in the air. The cord’s sharpness along with the force behind the zombie’s fall makes the whole movement clean. One minute there was one Rubber Gut, but when he lands, there are two. The cord catches him in the stomach and goes straight through. You dodge out of the way as Rubber Gut smashes into the ground - its cries of hunger now turning into shrieks of confusion- before both pieces launch back into the air and straight into the wall nearby with a crunch.

The cord snap-hisses in the air as it snakes back into the wrist compartment.

An explosion of force hits the ground in front of you and you launch out from behind the newsstand and slam into the street. You hit the ground, roll to your feet, and turn just in time to see the panicked look of Stevens as he takes hold of the bodega’s gate and then slams it down, sealing you in the street.

Zombies are now surrounding you. Mindless undead who reach for you, clawing at your uniforms. Your gun barks six more times, downing one of them with an executed headshot, but they’re everywhere. Hungry. Desperate for the only available meat on the block: You.

You’re desperate. Your gun clicks. So you do the only thing you can which is to throw all your weight into the thinnest line of zombies. A creature wearing what resembles a bus driver’s uniform lets out an aggravated moan before it falls back, knocking down the two behind it. You run over him and dodge the next two that dive for you. For what feels like a minute of hell, though most likely just a few seconds, you push through grasping hands and teeth only to stumble into an alleyway.

Now you have time to think. At least for a second. On one hand, screw Rubia and Stevens. On the other, they are your team. Yes, they might have left you for dead, but wouldn’t you have done the same if you saw one of them get launched into a horde? Regardless, it doesn’t matter. You need a plan.

What’s the plan?

A. Clearly, you are running. Rubia and Stevens are on their own Your only goal now is to run through the city and hope that the lumbering undead AND the pack decide not to go after just you. You were a villain, but you are just a survivor now.

B. Clearly, you are running, but first you need a distraction. The undead were one thing, but that pack is still out there. You do have a grenade which you bet you could lob towards the bodega - even at this distance. Rubia and Stevens could be a good distraction if they could be seen just like you. What? You’re a villain.

C. Clearly, you are running, but you need to get the zombies away from your team. You need to cause enough noise to get the lumbering dead and the pack to follow you. You were a villain, but now you are a team. Besides, one of them is sort of cute and the other owes you money
.


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 Post subject: Re: A Rotted Capes' Adventure (Choose Your Own Adventure)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2020 2:11 pm 

Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2016 1:41 pm
Posts: 59
There is an old part of you that wants to treat this like any other mission you went on during the normal days. You’ve teamed with mercenaries and other criminals before in order to do a job, and it was always understood that if you fell behind, you’d be left behind.

This isn’t like the old days. Regardless of how many times you still wear your rogue attire and use the same tools you had in the past, you aren't stupid enough to believe that the end of the world hasn’t changed you. You need people - and regardless of how pear shaped Rubia and Stevens have made this little adventure, you need them. No one else in the enclave has been willing to follow you into the cities like those two stupid SOBs. And if you just leave them (or worse, use them as bait) to escape, it is just going to be a delayed death sentence for you.

You need someone to watch your back. And until you find out the Contremptress is still as alive (and flexible) as you remember her to be, these are the best eyes you have.

You slap a fresh clip into the police beretta and fire into the crowd of undead stumbling towards you. Four bullets down four zombies and five more bullets are aimed and fired towards the Super Z who is back to his little game of cat-and-mouse on the roof tops.

“Fresh meat, assholes!” You scream as you back into the alleyway, the butt of your gun coming down to slam on top of the lid of a dumpster. It clangs like the closing cymbals of an orchestra - or like the final ring of a dinner bell. The noise reverberates, the moans of the dead growing in frustration as the horde desperately tries to climb over each other to get to you. You pluck up a lid of an aluminum garbage can, bang your gun against it a few more times, and once you see that you’ve gotten the attention of the majority of the street, you turn and run.

Running from the undead is never a problem. Most of the time, the dead’s injuries from being feasted on prior to their return keeps them from moving above anything more than a brisk walk. So when you begin sprinting down the alleyway, it isn’t to beat the pace of the undead behind you, it’s to escape the ones ahead. If you didn’t move fast enough, you could get boxed in. As you turn the corner, a group of four zombies wearing suits stumble out of a doorway right in front of you. You sink a bullet into the one in the very front, its weight falling back into the others to delay them for the brief second you need to pass.

You jump over long forgotten piles of trash as you run through the winding alleyway, ducking away from zombies when you can and using bullets when you need to make a hole. Again, what feels like an eternity is really just thirty or forty seconds. You turn one last time, barely avoiding the desperate swipes of an arm from a basement window, and spot the mouth of the alleyway, void of anything dead and hungry.

Something with tattered wings and greying skin flies overhead for a second, it’s shadow casting over you before it shifts and comes crashing down in front of you in a crouch. With its wings spread out, stained with blood and bits of flesh, you are sure it is a sight that is meant to inspire fear. A deep chuckles comes from the belly of the beast before the Super Z turns on talons towards you.

“I like it when they run -”

“Don’t kill me - take my purse!” You scream like a terrified teenager as you toss one of your burlap sacks hanging off your belt towards it. The creature’s face sours when you ruin its monologue as clawed hands catch the bundle. It looks down at the sack before snapping its head up, face furrowing with rage.

Your face twists from fear to amusement as you raise your hand. “Just don’t take my ring.”

It takes the creature a second to recognize the grenade pin around your fingers. It takes another second for it to put two and two together. You duck down behind the trashcan lid like a shield as the grenade goes off. The force smashes into you and sends you back into a pile of trash. Pieces of burned flesh and rotted skin rain down on you. You remain there for a few seconds trying to slow your heartbeat before you push yourself to your feet.

You hear a whine of metal twisting. You look up as the fire escape above you groans, shifts, and begins to fall on top of the smoking remains of the Super Z. You take a few steps away as you raise the lid again in a pitiful attempt to shield yourself from the dust cloud that sweeps over you.

The stench of the undead overpowers the dust. And soon enough, you hear the collective moans behind you as the swarm you had attracted earlier finally catches up. With your vision obscured by dust and soot, you squint as you guesstimate which direction to stumble. You move forward, trashcan lid held out like a walking stick as you feel your way along the wall towards the debris. The moans grow louder behind you as you stumble through the debris, hands finally meeting the jagged remains of the a fire escape. You drop the lid to the ground with a clang and begin feeling around for hand grips. The dead are practically on top of you by the time you secure your grip and heft yourself up onto the pile of broken and rusted metal.

You climb. With each new improvised rung, you hear the metal under you groan just as loud as the hungry dead who now are waiting for you to fall back into their desperate hands. Yet, you don’t think about them. You just continue to climb upwards, the haze of dust and smoke getting lighter until you can finally make out what you’re reaching for. You feel pieces of jagged railing cut into your suit, some even making it into your flesh, but you continue to push yourself upwards as the undead continue to bang their fists at the debris below.

And then you see it - a window. You don’t think of a game plan or of the ‘what-ifs,’ you just react. You dive into the window, the glass already blown out from the explosion earlier, and land with a crunch on the floor. And for a moment, the world is quiet. The adrenaline in your body is starting to fade and your wounds are beginning to remind you of the damage that has been done to them but - hell - at least you’re alive.

For now.

The walkie talkie crackles from your belt.

“Cheshire?” Rubia’s voice breaks through the static before cutting out.

You sit up with a groan and pull out the radio. You blink a few times to combat the lingering dust in your eyes before bringing the radio to your lips. Part of you wants to scream at them, the other part wants to vow vengeance. Instead, you just make a joke. “How many lives have I lost thus far with you two?”

“Shit - you’re alive. Thank God! Stevens was freaking out when he slammed the door shut but I told him you’d be fine-”

“This is not me doing fine,” you interrupt as you pull yourself up to your feet. “You make it out of the store?”

“Yeah, boss. We’re heading towards the four wheelers now.”

You look around and take note of the studio apartment you are now in. The layer of dust on top of the carpet and most of the surfaces tells you you’re the first one in this place in a long time. With no barricade at the door, you guess the person who had lived here had enough time to pack and lock up before the shit hit the fan - a blessing for you since you didn’t have to worry about any deadheads hiding under the bed or in the closet.

“Boss, what do you want us to do?” Rubia asks from the radio.

A. It’s time for them to pull their weight. Ask Rubia and Stevens to get the vehicle and meet you in front of Birchwood Park a half a mile away.

B. You can’t chance having the pack follow you to your group. Tell Rubia and Stevens to go and you’ll find your own way home. You need to stealth out of here so the pack doesn’t catch wind of you.

C. Super Zs aren’t dumb. The pack might be listening in on the radio. Use the radio to try to set a trap for the pack. And you know the perfect place - Paradigm National Bank. 


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 Post subject: Re: A Rotted Capes' Adventure (Choose Your Own Adventure)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2020 2:12 pm 

Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2016 1:41 pm
Posts: 59
You want to get back to the enclave to get patched up. What you would give right now for a hot meal, a comfortable bed, and maybe some alone time with someone with a warm smile and a fondness for criminals. However, you need to play this smart: you can’t run straight home, nor can you really know what sort of powers this pack has behind it. You already know one of them can throw energy. Then there was the winged freak you blew up and Rubber Gut - the now bisected circus act. These were small players when it came to Super Zs, but all it would take is one to have the ability to sniff out footprints, and you’d lead them back to the encampment.

“Dog house,” you mutter into your walkie talkie.

After a few seconds, with a heavy sigh, Rubia responds. “Right. That’s how we’re playing it. What next?”

Rubia knows what the words mean: Ignore what I’m about to say and run. So when you tell her you’re going to meet the civilian family you left at the National Paradigm Bank, she plays along like a good soldier with moderate acting skills. You tell her you’’ll see her and Stevens shortly, and then you click off the radio.

You head out the door and through the building. It’s starting to get dark outside, so the limited light through the windows make it easy to stealth out and into the streets. You keep to the shadows, running as fast as your wounds will allow you to go. And by the time the sun is just starting to slip down past the skyscrapers overhead, you’re in front of the bank.

Nation Paradigm Bank was built a decade ago with what was then considered ‘advanced technology.’ Even if you took the thing off the grid, the windows and walls actually collected enough solar energy to keep the building powered. Some of the security and secondary systems wouldn’t remain on forever, but the essential things keeping the vault securely sealed were powered indefinitely.

The bank’s front door is locked and sealed, but someone threw a car through the nearby window at some point, allowing you to enter. As soon as your feet connect to the marble floor, the lights begin to flicker on, a few terminals humming to life. You look around the lobby, everything just like it had been in the blueprint you studied years ago. You can’t help but smile as this is a welcome reminder of how you use to spend your nights. You hear sounds of static before a flickering probe of light escapes from a small plate on the check counter next to you and a small hologram of a smiling woman in business casual greets you.

“Welcome to the National Paradigm Bank: Banking made easy. I’m your -”

You pluck up the holographic disc, the woman fizzing out, and pocket it as you make your way toward the back of the bank. You catch yourself plunging back into the role of the cat burglar, your mind warning of things such as pressure plates and sensors - yet those sorts of things don’t matter anymore. They were used merely to alert the authorities while the vault’s security was only meant to delay the thieves long enough for the police to arrive. Now that Johnny Justice wasn’t answering the phone, you don’t even bother avoiding the sensors. You march towards the vault in the back, pause at the still glistening steel of the door, and rub a hand along the curve of the metal.

You had always wanted the opportunity to rob the National Paradigm Bank. It was time to see if you still have what it takes to be the legendary Cheshire

*

Felix Uvery, formerly Platemail, had never made it into the big leagues of super heroics. He had tried and failed to secure a mentor in his early days,but no one seemed to care for the young hero with the ability to turn his skin into thick slabs of porcelain. Yet, ever the dreamer, Felix had fought during the undead uprising along side of the likes of Titan and Liberty Belle. He also died along with them.

When Felix awoke, he tried his best to sate his hunger, yet the heroes of old had risen with him. They had chased him off, stolen kills that were rightfully his, and had nearly ripped him apart twice just for their sick pleasure. Felix had learned early into his undead state that he needed a group. So he had found Gargoyle - a hero who looked more scary than he actually was - and then Rubber Gut. Along the way, he picked up Transistor, a boy who could detect radio waves, and then finally Canary, a teen side kick who could shape sound waves and throw them back at people as energy. All in all, a solid pack that eventually followed his lead.

Yet packs are fickle things. One slip of strength was met with violence and betrayal, and with the hero already killing Rubber Gut and Gargoyle, he could feel the eyes of his pack on him. They were evaluating if he had grown too weak to lead, too weak to lead them to warm flesh and screaming bodies.

So when Transistor had picked up the hero’s call, he was delighted to hear that the hero was heading off alone to pick up an entire family from where they were hiding.

Canary pulls back her lips, dried skin cracking at the motion as she spoke harsh words into her hands before redirecting it towards the door of the bank. The energy smashes into the wood and metal of the door, the material whining before buckling inward. Another blast follows before the door finally gives, crashing down into the lobby of the bank.

“Something is transmitting in the back,” Transistor hisses, his jaw coming unhinged at the end. He works the bone back into place as Platemail pushes him out of his way, moving into the bank. His porcelain-lined feet crunch down on the marble, echoing across the empty lobby.

“Going to send us in first, Captain?” Canary challenges. A swift backhand from Platemail is all the answer she gets before the man begins walking toward the doors in the back, both opened wide and welcoming.

“I smell flesh,” Platemail whispers before turning his focus towards the opened vault ahead. The soft whisper of a voice is heard, the smell of living blood causing his mouth to water. The others behind him must have sensed it as well because Platemail could hear their excited breath that none of them truly required. The growl from his empty intestines tugged at his mind, and the three of them charged the metal door and into the vault.

Platemail took another whiff of air, spinning around as the murmur of voices continued behind a stack of bank bags. Transistor was at his side. “Transmission!” he said as he thrust a partially bitten off finger toward the hiding spot. Canary didn’t even bother waiting for Platemail’s command. She whispered into her hands before releasing a burst of energy into the bags

A cloud of red smoke exploded outwards, caking the walls and surrounding area with red dye. Platemail stumbled back, his own undead eyes obscured by the smoke. The zombies next to him choked, Canary releasing another blast of energy blindly into the room resulting in something exploding.

“Welcome to the National Paradigm Bank: Banking made easy.”

Platemail collapsed to a knee, trying to avoid the rising cloud and spot the source of the voice. A holographic woman smiled towards the undead brute, a cut open blood packet resting beside it.

The voice and the smell.

And that’s when the vault behind the three was sealed shut.

***

You move from the bank, the cries of the undead mostly muffled as they beat at the vault door. The door was built to withstand super strength, giant lasers, and all sorts of different tricks that come with meta-human criminals so you’re not worried about how long it will hold the three. Long enough for their hunger to turn them against each other.

You step over the crushed door and out into the streets of Paradigm City. Zombies mull, hands outstretched and mouths hung open in long forgotten screams. Some of them spot you as you exit and turn to face you, but by the time they begin taking a step your way, you’re on the move again. You keep it at a leisurely pace, moving through alleys and shops. You run by the forgotten refugee camps that turned into undead prisons eventually for those that kept their faith in the government. You just continue running until you make it back to where your team had left the four-wheelers. Two of them have already been taken by your team. You slip onto the seat of the remaining vehicle, lets out a shuddering breath, and toss one last glance over your shoulder towards the dead city.

Titan had saved your life as a kid, and you rewarded his bravery with becoming a villain. You had robbed museums, helped bad men if they paid enough, and even delayed Titan once from foiling an operation resulting in possibly some embarrassment to the man. It isn’t that you don’t miss the excitement that came with being a cat burglar, but part of you has to acknowledge that you aren’t that same person from before the fall. You didn’t sacrifice your friends, you didn’t endanger your enclave, and you risked your own life for the good of your group.

As you start the ATV, you can’t help feel like a hero.

As corny as that sounds.


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