TOPS

TOPS Issue 2 - The Gang's All Here

TOPS #2

See last issue, we’re picking up right where we left off, in front of the Sonic Bloom sculpture outside Seattle’s Pacific Science Center….

Shiloh Samson, erstwhile soap opera star, now lives again in his hometown after the tanking of his TV career and a failed movie shoot in the South Pacific. Unbeknownst to the general public, Shiloh has returned with super powers. He had been strolling around the grounds when he noticed police cordoning off a large area, and evacuating the Sky Needle and surrounding buildings. He made his way to the roof of the Science Center, stripped to reveal his new costume, and watched the events of last issue unfold. He sees Vanguard, several yards away at the edge of the roof, tangle with Gravekeeper before finally being swatted off the roof by one of GK’s ghosts wielding one of the Sonic Bloom flowers.

Warlock, the shape-shifting robot, turns from a bush to a cat and rushes over to the unconscious Ripper and begins licking his face.

Red Edge, having just watched The One dispatch Ripper with a tremendous beam of energy, turns her attention to Ultra-Babe, who cowers beneath a tree nearby, whimpering. The villain glares at her, then rushes over to her and starts stabbing. The blade sinks deep into UB’s shoulder as she frantically turns away, and she screams.

Vanguard, now on the ground and just a few feet away, turns his attention from Gravekeeper and fires a narrow laser at Red Edge. She’s fast; the beam misses her but strikes The One, standing several feet behind her. It appears to do nothing more than singe his jacket.

Baron Mind, levitating several feet off the ground, strikes at Red Edge’s mind from across the battlefield. He can see her wince in pain.

Gravekeeper whispers to one of his ghosts, which zips toward, and past, Vanguard.

Shiloh moves to the edge of the roof and leaps into the air. One arm stretches impossibly to the wall, and serves as a swing line for Samson to reach the ground. He lands between Red Edge and the bleeding UB. “Leave her alone!” He swings at RE but misses.

“I have to make her ugly!” “Then you’ll have to go through me: Shiloh Samson, Seattle’s Scarlet Sensation!”

Suddenly the combatants see a brilliant flare of light atop the nearby Space Needle. The flare streaks from there to the edge of the combat zone and explodes in flames to reveal a black figure surrounded by an orange glow.

Nearby, The One turns toward the new arrival. “Are you hear for recruitment?” he asks hopefully. “I’m here to stop the recruitment.” The One sighs and lifts his hand. Energy erupts from it, the blast striking Corona to no apparent affect.

Red Edge stabs at Shiloh. Expecting his rubbery body to deflect the blade, he’s surprised when it sinks into his abdomen. Gooey ‘sap’ leaks from the wound. He realiates with a vicious punch which sends the villain sailing dozens of feet through the air, dazed. She slams into The One and staggers him, but he stands in place. She crumples to a heap at his feet.

Roused by Warlock’s lapping tongue on his face, Ripper comes to. He stands and surveys the scene to regain his bearings.

Vanguard fires another rocket at GK. A swirling ghost intercepts the explosion.

Baron turns his attention to Gravekeeper. “Take this, creepy kid!” He reaches into the boy’s head and ‘squeezes’. GK yelps and drops, limp, to the ground. The cloud of ghosts spins faster around him, obviously agitated.

The One lifts the unconscious RE and hugs her to him with one arm. He then runs up to SS and grabs Shiloh by the throat, then flies straight up into the air. He glares directly into SS’s eyes. “If she dies I’m coming after you!” The villain then drops SS, who splats on the ground and spreads out into a puddle before immediately flowing back to humanoid form. One arm stretches to the wall and he swings himself up to the roof. From there he stretches out to grab The One. One arm wraps around the villain’s legs and SS squeezes.

Ripper looks down at Warlock, still in cat form. “Do you have claws?” Warlock pops small, cat-sized claws in response. “Good.” Ripper tears open a portal and teleports Warlock right on top of GK’s face. The ghosts, still clearly incensed, do not attack. Only when Warlock tries to claw at GK do they react, blocking each attempt.

Seeing The One at least temporarily stopped from fleeing by SS, Baron Mind hits him again with a mental assault. The One shudders in pain. He growls and unleashes a bolt of energy at SS, which hits him full-on. The impact sends him tumbling back across the roof. Stunned, his stretched arm goes limp and slowly reels back in.

Vanguard misses the newly-freed villain with a plasma beam from his bionic eye. Ripper dashes over to stand near the levitating Baron. “Who do I blast?”

Gravekeeper comes to. He whispers to his ghosts, and one proceeds to sling Warlock away.

With another flash of bright light and a fiery explosion, Corona zips from the ground right past The One, to the roof. He then emits a bright white light, hoping to blind the bad guy. The One shields his eyes just in time, and then zooms away.

“The One, huh?” Corona shouts after him. “We should call you ‘The Run’!” Across the roof, SS shakes his head and gets to his feet. He quickly swings back to the ground, to Ultra-Babe’s side. She’s unconscious and bleeding badly. He lifts her in his arms.

Several yards away, Gravekeeper gets unsteadily to his feet. The boy is quickly handcuffed, and gagged to prevent him from using his ghosts.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Back at the station they meet up with Cpt. Nymity. They notice there are far fewer cops here than there were earlier.

Gravekeeper is escorted to the booking area, while the Captain debriefs the heroes and is introduced to Corona. “I would like to join the team.” “We’ll see,” Nymity replies. “Right now I want to know more about this claim that Shiloh Samson, the actor, is some kind of superhero.” “Totes legit, Cap,” Ripper says. They all head to the hospital.

Meanwhile, Shiloh arrives at Seattle General with Ultra-Babe. Nurses converge and quickly wheel the injured woman away. After explaining to the desk nurse what happened, Shiloh calls his agent, Abby Adams. “Get a presser together down here! I’ve saved the day!”

While waiting for the crush of reporters (and a report on Ultra-Babe’s condition), Shiloh is in the waiting room when the rest of the team arrives.

“So, the famous Shiloh Samson is now a superhero?” Capt. Nymity asks as she reaches out a hand. “Captain Nymity, SPD. If this is your new gig, where were you at tryouts?”

“My day was booked solid, so sorry. I really should wait for Abby, she hates when I negotiate on my own behalf, but how much does the job pay?”

“Well, the starting salary is based on existing pay scales, and there’s a hazard bonus of course, in line with what SWAT gets…”

He interrupts with a grunt. “Doesn’t sound like we’re talking six figures here.” Capt. Nimity laughs. “Not exactly. This program is the first of its kind and it was a real bear getting the limited funding we have.”

“So, we’re police officers? Is there…paperwork?” “Yes, you’ll be expected to fill out incident reports, and at some point deliver them to the Chief and the oversight board. Oh, and testify in court, of course.”

“I hate paperwork. The money’s not enough for me to do paperwork. I’m already rich!”

Ripper immediately raises his hand. “Hey Rich Guy, I’ll do your paperwork for your for $100 a week.” A wallet appears in Shiloh’s hand and he doles out four crisp hundreds. “There’s a month’s advance. I’m in!”

“Okay, Vanguard, let’s find dinner in the cafeteria. I’m buying!”

Ten minutes later, Abby dashes into the waiting room. “How much time do we have, Abby? I need to make sure I’m camera-ready.” “They’re not…coming,” she gets out between gasps of air. “Bank alarm…went off…South Side…”

“This sounds like a job for Shiloh Samson, Seattle’s Scarlet Sensation!” Shiloh lets the last syllable ring as he rushes out the door. Captain Nymity sprints toward the cafeteria to retrieve the other two, at the same time calling for a paddy wagon to get them all to the scene.

Fifteen minutes later they arrive to find Washington Federal Bank surrounded by police cars, barricades, and officers. The mobile command center is behind an open SWAT vehicle. Shiloh stands with seven men in combat gear trying very hard to ignore him. They’re all staring at a monitor on a small table, displaying a live closed-circuit feed from inside the bank.

Several customers are face-down on the floor in the main lobby, near the front doors. A woman hovers in the air nearby. Her body sparkles as she moves; they can see she’s covered head to toe in tiny mirrors.

Four other people can be seen: three who stand watch over the civilians while the last is behind the teller’s window, stuffing cash into a bag.

“Situation?” Captain Nymity asks the SWAT Commander. “We believe it’s just those five. One interesting note: we don’t think they have a getaway car.”

Shiloh straightens. “You people take the armed ones,” he announces loudly, “I’ll deal with the super!”

Vanguard objects. “We should try to get in undetected, from several different angles.” He sends Corona to the roof to wait for the signal, then blast a hole into the lobby.

Shiloh tires of waiting. He grabs Vanguard and Ripper in his pliable arms and then stretches his body into a torus. He rolls across the parking lot, gaining speed, and smashes through the glass doors of the bank, into the center of the room. Taking that as the signal, Corona blows a hole in the roof and flashes through it to the floor.

The Scarlet Sensation whips out an arm to swat the hovering woman, but she avoids it. “Shoot them!” she commands. It’s not clear if she means the heroes or the hostages. Ripper turns on his force field and stands ready to deflect bullets.

Vanguard stares at Mirror Girl (later dubbed Reflector) and lets go a plasma beam. In a blink she raises a shiny arm and reflects the attack toward Ripper. He tries to divert it with a portal but he’s too slow. He’s knocked back into the facing of the teller windows.

Corona takes a few steps into the lobby and flares brightly, trying to blind at least one of the goons and Reflector. The other three gunmen each moves next to a hostage, lifts them from the floor, and puts their guns to the civilian’s heads.

Shiloh targets one of the gunmen with a hostage. He smacks the bad guy with his fist at the end of an impossibly long arm. The baddie goes flying, still clutching the hostage, and slams into the far wall, stunned.

Ripper, still sitting on the floor, targets another hostage-taker. He teleports the goon outside, six feet away from the police line.

Vanguard turns to the erstwhile bag-stuffing bad guy, who now has a hostage in front of him. A plasma blast shoots out, barely missing. The mug hauls the screaming woman toward the drive-through window. He fires a volley at it, trying to break it by the time he gets there. Instead, bullets richochet off of the bullet-proof glass. One errant shot strikes one of the hostages, striking him in the arm. Ripper promptly teleports him outside, but well away from the bad guy he put out there.

Corona steps to the thug he’d blinded and punches him. The guy fires at him wildly.

Shiloh again turns his attention to Reflector. He swings another roundhouse but it’s just as she’s regained her vision. She flits out of the way, and again shouts, “Shoot them!”

For the third time, Shiloh Samson, Seattle’s Scarlet Sensation, swings at Reflector and misses. Frustrated, Ripper tries to drop a portal over him and teleport him right into the floating villain’s face, but he misses.

Vanguard frowns and turns his laser attack on Reflector. She tries to maneuver an arm up to reflect it, but this time she’s a split-second too slow. The crimson beam burns into her costume, between mirrors. She cries out and drops to the floor like a sack of bricks.

Corona, taking no chances, aims a brilliant beam of solar energy at the ceiling above her, burying her in debris. The goon who’d just shot at him tries it again but manages only to shoot himself in the foot.

Vanguard cuffs Reflector. Ripper teleports outside and says, “Come get ’em, boys! TOPS has it under control!”

==========

Back at the station, Captain Nymity has mixed feelings. “You stopped a bank robbery and captured the villain, but you also let a hostage get shot. This squad is already on thin ice with the taxpayers and the media, we can’t afford mistakes like that.”

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