Crime of the Century (Station)

Abagail sat in the chair of her small kitchen and stared at the blank notebook on the table in front of her. The only other things on the table were a pencil and a bloodied high-tech grappling gun. Behind her, leaning up against the wall, was an eight-foot tall petrified femur. She wanted to write about how it came into her possession but she was having trouble finding the words. Usually when she wrote it was about a fantasy world where Humans, Elves, Dwarves, and more lived together under the protection and guidance of mythological Gods. Those stories came easy to her. That was because she received frequent visions from this fantastical world which centered on a group of adventurers and their Gods-given quest: To collect the pieces of Osiris for the Goddess Isis. She used to think she was just crazy, but the left femur of the God Osiris sitting behind her finally indicated otherwise.

For the last several years now Abagail had dealt with those ceaseless visions by writing them down and turning them into best-selling young adult fiction. The Books of CrIsis, the series was called. Nothing about the master manuscripts was original. Everything in them, including the names of the books and the series itself, all came from her visions. She was the only one who knew that. Her editors and fans just thought she was a recluse with a fantastical imagination. They were half right. The visions made functioning in the world difficult and forced her to retreat to her apartment. Often they came as dreams, but she discovered early on that they could strike at any time. It made social interaction… awkward.

She picked up the pencil. Putting this off wouldn’t get it done any faster. She needed to write this out. She didn’t know why, but something told her it was important to write down how she managed to acquire this piece of the God. Without any further hesitation she began writing.

Five people arrived by invitation to the private room of Kizl’s restaurant in Midtown, Century Station. Diane Wilde, the magic bow wielding super heroine called The Huntress. Oren Spence, a two-bit criminal mutant with dreams and schemes. Clarissa Barton, a Nightbane who was literally faceless. Andrew Roth, a vigilante cursed with powers he did not want. And Abagail Spencer, the psychic author of a popular young adult fiction series.

Waiting for them was a man named Eric Swanson. In his youth he was an actor during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Now he was merely a member and representative of the Seekers organization. He was the one who sent out the invitations to bring these people together today. He let them grow accustomed to each other briefly before finally welcoming them and thanking them for coming. Eric then asked them if they had heard the rumors circulating around city of a vault filled with ancient riches and magical artifacts hidden somewhere within Century Station? They responded that they had all heard those rumors. He told them he knew those rumors to be 100% true.

Well, mostly true. He described next how this vault was located in the Nightlands, another dimension linked to their own through mirrors. In that dimension was a twisted, nightmare version of Century Station called Grim Gulf. Within Grim Gulf was where the vault truly existed. It was the private treasure chamber of Grim Gulf’s ruler, an ancient malevolent sorcerer named Rotiel. This was when Eric finally explained why he brought these five together that day – so they could ‘liberate’ these powerful artifacts from Rotiel’s foul clutches.

This got everyone’s attention. Suddenly they were much more serious. How did he know this? Why would he share this? What did he get out of it? The questions flew and Eric calmly responded. As for how he knew this, that was because of a survivor from that city who had made it to the vault and escaped. She suffered greatly in the process but now because of her they knew where in this world the vault could be accessed from, bypassing all the dangers of the Nightlands. The why was simple – there was an item he wished to get from the vault, but he was unable to make the journey himself so he would have them acquire it for him. In return, they could keep everything else they found.

There was still some suspicions. Maybe they could talk to his source, this woman who escaped? Eric said though she was injured he could try and arrange that. But they had to be “in.” They had to make a decision to either go forward with this or walk away. There was little deliberation since none of them knew each other well. They thought on the rumors they had heard, and the descriptions they had heard of what was in the vault. One by one they each accepted. Eric smiled warmly at them. It was as he hoped.

Now that they were on board they wanted to know: Where was the vault? Eric replied that in the Nightlands it existed in the bottom of Rotiel’s heavily guarded tower. That location in this world corresponded to the center of The Labyrinth, in the heart of the old Daedalus fusion reactor facility. Each of them knew of the Labrynth. Was this really the safer way? Eric assured them that it was. He knew it was dangerous, but trying to go through the Nightlands and Rotiel’s tower was just plain suicide at this point.

What about actually traveling across the dimensions? Eric frowned at that question. He had invited some capable mages who would’ve been able to transport this team through the mirrorwall into the Nightlands but neither of them arrived tonight. Eric told the team not to worry, that he would handle that. One of those mages owed him a favor and if he had to call it in then that’s what he would do.

Abagail stopped writing and re-read what she wrote. There was more coming out on the paper than she had actually known, and that was a little weird. But she finally felt like she was in the writing “zone” now and decided to keep going despite the weirdness.

There was one more critical piece of information Eric had yet to tell them: They had less than 48 hours to pull this off. Currently Rotiel was not in Grim Gulf and he wasn’t expected to return for two more days. With him out of the tower and gone from the city Eric firmly believed the mission could be a resounding success! The “hard” part would be figuring out how to safely and quickly traverse the Labyrinth and its inhabitants – something he agreed was no easy matter.

Together the group and Eric went on discussing mundane matters. Rendezvous points, contact information, advance pay, and any other information he could share. Before they left Eric pulled out his phone and called one of his contacts. He inquired about their injured friend and how she was doing. Could she accept visitors? The Nightbane Clarissa took this opportunity to use one of her powers. She turned into energy and entered the phone, transmitting herself to the other end. In a moment she had re-materialized standing next to a startled woman in a dimly lit hospital room.

Eric sighed and rushed the others out with him to drive over to the secure facility where his source was. Meanwhile the startled nurse composed herself and, at Eric’s direction before he hung up, left Clarissa and the patient alone in the room. Laying on the bed was what appeared to be a three-foot tall porcelain doll of a woman. The entire doll was cracked severely and looked like it could crumble into bits at any moment. There was a familiar feeling Clarissa got when she looked at the doll. That feeling told her this wasn’t just a doll, but another Nightbane like herself.

The doll’s eyes fluttered open and registered her visitor with concern. Clarissa explained her connection to Eric and that she was hear to lean what happened in the Nightlands. Weakly the doll nodded and began to tell the story of what left her like this. The doll’s name was Elaine Rigby and she had had lived in the Nightlands for years. She was part of a team of Nightbane who had gathered information on the city and Rotiel. When they learned of the vault they decided to infiltrate Rotiel’s tower in search of his fabled artifacts. The mission quickly went south and one by one, her team died as they went deeper and deeper into the tower.

In the end it was just Elaine and her closest friend, a Nightbane named Clay, with no way out. They had made it to the vault but had no time to figure out how to get in. The Nightlord’s minions caught up to and descended upon them. Clay sacrificed himself for her, allowing her to use her abilities to perfectly imitate an inanimate object. It was the final, last resort plan which Clay had suggested to her. She watched him die and dissolve into shadow right in front of her. The Nightlord minions then took her and placed her in the vault, assuming she was an object he had stolen.

She was in the vault but the victory was bittersweet. Elaine mourned for as long as she dared, then forced herself to pull it together and search for a way out. Amongst the many treasures all around her she found some mirrors with links to Earth! With them she could travel home. Her movements within the vault however drew attention from the Nightlord’s minions. They came into the vault as she was transferring through the mirror and they attacked her. They shattered the mirror just as she finished transitioning through it. She made it to Earth but was left painfully, cripplingly injured. Somehow these injuries resisted healing and have remained, leaving her permanently weakened.

When the others arrived Clarissa brought them up to speed so Elaine could rest. Eric verified the story. Then Elaine told them about where she arrived. The massive, empty reactor room of the Daedalus project. There were some metal sections that were highly polished, like mirrors, but otherwise just dead-ended pipes and conduits. All the technology that was once in the room was long-gone. There was only one exit – a massive blast door which had a mechanism for opening from the inside. Once she exited though the door sealed behind her and locked again.

She escaped the Labyrinth but how she did it was all a blur. She barely made it out alive and had no way to record how she navigated the place. Once she exited she called for help and has been here ever since, trying to recover. She closed her eyes, exhausted. Abagail reached out and touched her arm to use the power of Object Read on Elaine. It worked and Abagail received several flashes of insight about the “object,” Elaine Rigby, in a blurring cascade of information.

She sensed that Elaine’s last “owner” was good and sad but couldn’t get a read if the owner was alive or dead – it felt like both, yet neither. As an object Elaine’s “purpose” was to fight a war against the evil invaders that drove her people to extinction. Elaine herself was a supernatural force for good and had been used by supernatural forces as well.

Accompanying these insights were images tied to strong emotions. A beautiful rich girl, frustrated, unwillingly transformed for the first time into a living porcelain doll. Then a man made of Clay standing next to her looked down at her and smiled reassuringly. Next a masked woman said “thank you” and “good bye” as she traveled through a mirror, returning home in a way Elaine never could. Then there followed a rapid succession of deaths of her companions one after another, each one gruesome and horrifying in their own way. The last was of the Clay man’s painful death accompanied by the sorrow of watching his body dissolve into shadow. Finally there was the agonizing pain of being fractured into millions of pieces as Elaine fought to materialize on Earth in an large, empty metal room.

Abagail drew her hand away, still feeling the pain. She did not share any of what she saw with the others. Eric quietly thanked the sleeping Elaine and ushered everyone out of the room so she could rest. Once outside he explained that he hoped the magical fruit they were to find for him would be able to heal her. It was supposed to have healing and life-extension properties. With no other questions that Eric could answer, the group was satisfied and left to begin their preparations.

Oren and Andrew put together a list of items which everyone wanted to get using the advance money from Eric. They put a heavy focus on body armor and weapons. Everyone except Huntress and Abagail took full advantage of that offer. Huntress felt she didn’t need anything but her bow, while all Abagail wanted was a grappling hook gun. Those two left to hit up their street contacts not just for items, but also for any information about the current inhabitants of the Labyrinth.

Clarissa and Abagail left with Huntress to to research and find any information about the Daedalus project, the Labyrinth, it’s layout, what it might be like today… anything that would help them put together a way to safely navigate one of the deadliest places in Century Station. Clarissa hit the CityNet and the Internet while Abagail and Huntress searched paper records. They spend hours pouring through old records, permits, technical journals, newspaper and magazine articles… It took them hours but they were able to put together what they thought could be some accurate paths through the Labyrinth to their destination. They also researched the door into the reactor room, and based on their findings Clarissa felt confident she’d be able to open it once she got there.

The next day they all met back together. Oren and Andrew passed out the gear, then went over the maps and pathways which the girls had assembled. Based on the intel the two guys received they plotted out what they felt was the safest course through the Labyrinth. A sixth member arrived to join them, as promised by Eric the day before. A modern day wizard named Charlie Kane introduced himself to the others. He said he could open the portal for them but he was there just for that. They called Eric to verify this addition to the team and once Charlie was cleared, they six geared up and prepared to visit Century Station’s largest cesspool.

Oren and Andrew’s intel on the gangs and mutants of the Labyrinth combined with the map the others put together helped the six enter the facility without incident. Stealthily the six worked their way through the abandoned complexes, walkways, access tunnels, connecting pipes, and dilapidated passages. The entire place resembled a war zone. It was full of squatters, homeless, runaways, scavengers, the shunned, and others who had no-here else to go. The only law they ever saw in here was the law of the jungle. As the six came within site these people all vanished, giving the group a wide berth. They knew how to avoid trouble.

Not everyone wanted to avoid trouble, though. One unlucky turn brought the six face to face with a gang of mutants. Strong, tough, and ugly, they were quite annoyed to find an armed group of interlopers on their turf. The group tried to communicate rather than fight. The mutants didn’t speak English but the language they did speak, Abagail did too. So they turned to her to translate. Except she couldn’t resist the chance ot have some fun with this. She deliberately mistranslated what her companions said in order to incite a fight. She didn’t have to try very hard.

A smile broke out over Abagail’s face as she remembered this part. Those stupid mutants. They picked the wrong people to mess with.

The fight broke out and the Mutant Leader quickly became the main target. He was the first to be taken out. This only angered his underlings and they fought even harder. As the others fought Abagail calmly went to the Mutant leader’s body, took out a survival knife, and calmly cut his heart out of his chest. She stood up with it in her hand and got the attention of the other mutants. This unnerved the fuck out of them and they ran for their lives. The others allowed them to run away. Abagail decided to keep the mutant leader’s heart with her.

The six resumed their stealth. Carefully and methodically they made their way deeper into the arcology. They managed to avoid any other incidents. As they traveled through the last batch of service tunnels before their destination they spied of group of the Nightlord’s minions! The tunnels were long enough that they were too far away to mystically sense the group. Specifically Clarissa, the Nightbane. These minions seemed as if they were patrolling the tunnels. Evidence of their passage was suddenly noticeable, now that the group realized they were around.

Wisely the six of them decided to give them a wide berth and just head straight to their goal. Whether it was bad luck or something they did wrong they never found out, but the Nightlord minions altered their patrol right as the group passed, and began walking in their direction. Staying hidden the group began to quietly panic. They hurried as quickly as they dared to the heart of the old Daedalus reactor facility. They were stopped by the massive blast door. Clarissa took out her hardware and started trying to hack/rewire te door in order to force it open. It became a race against time to get the door open before the forces of the Nightlord closed in on them. From here, there was no-where to run. The six began to prepare for a deadly fight when suddenly the door wrenched itself open. Hurriedly they all got inside and forced the door closed, scant seconds before the patrol would’ve had them in sight.

Everyone took this moment to breath a temporary sigh of relief. They made it! The room was large and empty. Massive pipes and conduits entered the room and ended, sealed where they had been cut off. Where the massive Daedalus reactor used to be was now just a large empty space. When Alpha Prime stripped all the alien technology out she was thorough. There weren’t even any lose bolts left! The six also noticed what appeared to be deep gouges in the walls wherever any polished metal used to be. They surmised these functioned as mirrors, and explained how Elaine and those Nightlord Minions all made their way through. It also seemed apparent that the patrol outside were here to prevent exactly what the team had arrived to do – enter the vault from this world.

The clock was still counting down. It was time to begin. Charlie set out his mystical implements and began the ritual which would open the portal into the Nightlands. The others slowly got ready. Charlie had warned them that he could only keep the portal open for five minutes. After that, or if it closed early, it would take him another hour to re-open. It was their intention to do a hit and run, getting in and out before that time was up.

Right on queue the portal opened. One after the other Huntress, Oren, Clarissa, Andrew, and Abagail stepped through. They found themselves standing in an equally massive room to the one they just left. The difference being this one had mounds of treasure all around. Piles of coins made of precious metals from known and unknown empires throughout history formed the base of the treasure. Littered among and within the piles were all manner of jewelery, ancient weapons, armor, shields, chests, and other types of items. Practically everything radiated magic! All around them this treasure beckoned. Yet they each resisted temptation and remained steadfast to their goals.

Quickly they split up and began to search around the room, looking for the items they sought. Huntress was the first to find the item she was after. It was a familiar bow, the twin to her own – The Bow of Apollo. Oren and Clarissa didn’t seem to be after any one thing in particular, but they would each pick up items, examine them inquisitively, and chose to keep it or discard it based on whatever criteria they were measuring them against. They each were amassing quite a haul. Huntress and Clarissa were also able to find the fruits that Eric had described to them. They looked like sickly, apple-sized kidney beans. There was a whole pile of them and each one was taken.

Abagail and Andrew were having trouble finding what they were here for. Andrew was looking for a small mystical statue which he believed could cure him of the curse of his powers. Abagail was searching frantically for a large bone. One of her visions had revealed it was here, in this vault, and she desperately hoped to find it. It would be proof that she wasn’t crazy after all and that there was truth behind the visions which plagued her. Both Abagail and Andrew’s searches had taken them far from the others. Barely two minutes had passed when suddenly the main doors of the vault room violently burst open. Everyone stopped what they were doing and turned to look.

Standing in the doorway was a man in ornamental, black armor. He was not a handsome man and the anger he showed in his face only enhanced that impression. Flanking him on either side were several of the Nightlord minions, all clad in that familiar skeletal black armor. Except this armor seemed to absorb the light. Each minion was armed with a great sword in their hands. As the man strode in confidently they soundlessly fanned out to the sides of the vault and disappeared into the shadows.

“I am Rotiel,” the man lied to everyone. They panicked, thinking that Eric had received bad intel. They didn’t realize this was just one of his Avatars, guarding the tower in Rotiel’s absence. Oren concentrated with his power to alter his own body to mimic the structure and energy of one of the mystical fruits, unexpectedly giving himself healing powers and the ability to fire blasts of pure magical life energy! Huntress began pelting Rotiel’s avatar with arrows and Clarissa blasted him with Dark energy. As soon as Oren’s transformation was complete he began blasting the magical life energy as well.

All these attacks seemed to have little to no effect. In reality Rotiel’s Avatar was using his powers over matter and energy to render them harmless to him. This was a trick he would only be able to keep up for a short time, but it did its job. The three became seriously unnerved. That’s when the Nightlord’s enhanced minions pounced from the shadows and began attacking them! A lucky shot by Oren hurt the the Nightlord Avatar, causing him to scream in rage and pain. Oren, Clarice and Huntress needed no other sign. They ran for the still-open portal and retreated back to Earth.

This left Andrew and Abagail stuck with the Nightlord between them and the portal. Triumphantly Andrew held aloft the statue – he had found it! He tried to use his powers to fly quickly to the portal and was dismayed to find the statue had already worked! The enhanced Nightlord minions and his Avatar began to converge on the Andrew and Abagail. That’s when Abagail decided to do something either daring or stupid. Probably both.

She slid down off the pile of treasure she had been searching through and yelled to get the Avatar’s attention. He looked at her questioningly and in a clear, serious tone she asked him, “Have you read my books?” The banal absurdity of the unexpected question made the Nightlord’s Avatar pause. Even the minions stopped advancing, sensing their master’s confusion. Abagail’s new position allowed her to finally spy the object she had been searching for. It was mostly buried in the coins but it was unmistakable to her. She grabbed it and pulled it out like the sword from the stone. It was a petrified femur, about 8 feet long, and validated everything about her life she had ever questioned.

On the other side of the portal Clarissa and Huntress wasted no time in continuing to act. They both considered Abagail and Andrew to be lost. Likely already dead. They needed to stop those things from following them to Earth. They looked at Charlie. He had no idea what was going on and was just maintaining the spell, completely oblivious to their panic. Clarissa moved quickly to get behind Charlie and punched him in the back of the head, knocking him out cold! With his concentration no longer keeping the spell active the portal began to waver and collapse.

Both Abagail and Andrew noticed the change in the portal and understood immediately what that meant – they had to get out now! Andrew grasped the statue in his hand and sprinted towards the portal as if his life depended on it. The panic and adrenaline pushed him to run faster than he ever had before. Abagail, with the bone in one hand, pulled out the Mutant Leader’s heart and yelled “Catch!” to the Nightlord Avatar. She threw it at the Nightlord but missed by an absurdly large margin. Suddenly the Nightlord Avatar laughed. “What was that pathetic display supposed to accomplish?” He demanded with malicious mirth. “It was to distract you,” she honestly answered. He whipped his head around just in time to see Andrew dive through the collapsing portal.

Now was her chance! For just a brief moment she had a vision of throwing the bone through the portal in order to save it. There was no way she could cross that distance and make it through. Instead she pulled out the grappling hook gun while Rotiel still looking away. Bone in one hand, grappling hook gun in the other, she took a leap of blind faith and fired it through the portal.

On the other side, as Andrew was rolling into Oren the grappling hook came flying through, towards Clarissa. She turned at just the right moment and caught it without thinking. In a moment she understood and she pulled, yelling at the others to help. Together they all pulled and reeled the cable through the rapidly diminishing portal. Back in the Nightlands, Rotiel’s Avatar turned to look at Abagail again just in time to see her get yanked off her feet and pulled away by the combination of the grappling guns’ retraction and her companion’s efforts. Grappling gun in one hand, femur of the god Osiris in the other, she flew through the air towards the portal with blinding speed. As she went across the Avatar’s field of vision she winked, then disappeared through the portal as it winked out of existence.

The Nightlord’s Avatar watched the portal close in anger. He dismissed the minions and stood alone in the treasure room. He could tell several items were missing. With effort he began the process destroying the gold, jewelery… all the non-magical items placed here for show. This room would be filled back in and the magical treasures remaining moved to the real treasure vault. Many powerful items dangerous to his true self and their master had been liberated from his care. The faction responsible would know better than to keep those items here in the city – they would be used in other cities against those rulers, all of which were Rotiel’s enemies. Rotiel’s Avatar smiled. He would be destroyed for this failure. But it had all gone according to plan.

That bit about the Nightlord’s… Avatar? That was concerning. Should she tell someone? Abagail still had Eric’s number. That seemed like something he should know. She could call him later, she decided. Her hand was twitching as if it wanted her to get back to finishing this story. There wasn’t much left. She resumed writing.

Abagail made it through the portal but it was a close call. When the portal closed it cut off the soles of soles of her boots, nearly amputating her feet. Her momentum carried her into the others and they all fell into a pile. The audacity of their actions and the fact that they survived finally hit them, and they all cheered.

The trip out of the Labyrinth was less eventful than the trip in. They recovered in the reactor room then traveled through the complex extra-cautiously. Charlie was not happy at all when he came to so he stayed with them only until they exited. He left them in a huff, careful not to let any of them get behind him. The five of them went to contact Eric and rendezvous with him. He was ecstatic to see they made it safe. He also found the treasures they recovered to be fascinating. He accepted the fruits gratefully. He was very pleased they found more than one. There would be some for him to use as well. Getting old sucked.

The five parted and went their separate ways. Where the others went and what they did was of no concern to Abagail. What she cared about was that she had recovered the fabled Left Femur of Osiris. If this artifact was real then that meant the visions plaguing her, and the stories she wrote from them, must also be real. Finally, proof she wasn’t crazy! She practically ran home with her prize and, once there, began to write.

Abagail finally put the pencil down and looked back at the Femur. Its presence was comforting and caused her to smile. She picked up the finished story to look it over in its entirety. There were many things seemingly revealed within the story she didn’t know at the time, and didn’t know why she knew it now. It was enlightening. She set the pages back down on the table. Then, to no-one in particular she said out loud, “Well… Now what?”

Reader’s Note: This strange chronicle of events happened an unknown time ago, and was recorded on the 1st of Corg after being seen in yet another vision by an increasingly exasperated Rod Rambler.

Image credits:
National Museum of Natural History
Vince Martin
City of Heroes Wiki
Comics Commentaries
Gravity Falls Wiki

6 Responses to “Crime of the Century (Station)

  • This was an amazing, detailed description with personality, of a game run by Tokobauzsos to regain the femur. Great job!

  • This was a really fun game to run that very nearly ended in disaster for the characters. Abagail’s player caused the game to stop when he had her ask the Nightlord Avatar about the books. The unexpected absurdity of the question in that moment is pretty much the only reason those last two characters even had chances to survive.

    I really like combining Nightbane with the mystical elements of Heroes Unlimited – I feel the two go together well. I’m glad I was able to finally get this written up and posted.

  • Very gripping accounting of a tale from another place and another time. Love how the search for the parts are across a never ending span of realms and times.

    Now, did the Femur make it to a Pyramid?

  • I had an epiphany based on Abigail and the Dickripper!

    Abigail was Nightbane (and maybe Heroes) Earth’s version of Rod Rambler! When Victor told us about my tale being spread to every world they are worshiped on. I did not conceive it would be through Apostle like figures such as Rod and Abigail.

    Mind, BLOWN!

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