The First Stroke of Midnight




((This thread is intended for the use of the The Midnight Avengers SG. Please post only if you are an Avenger or have some business with our group. Thanks!))

Abigail Chase sat straight up in bed, beads of sweat dripping from her forehead. For a moment, she stared wildly around the room. Her eyes alighted on a picture of two blond-haired children smiling, one of them delightedly holding up a toad to the unseen cameraman.

Her shoulders drooped as she pushed her blanket aside and slid off the bed.

"Okay, this is not normal," she muttered groggily.

It was the third straight night for this particular nightmare... the sound of pounding hooves, screaming, and blood scattered until it covered the whole field of vision... flared nostrils releasing flame upon a fleeing populace and the grim visage sitting atop his steed...

Abigail covered her hands in cold water and splashed her face. She wasn't going to be able to get back to sleep. She knew it.

"Five hours of sleep in the last three days. What time is it?"

The digital readout blared 3:23 in glowing red letters. Abigail went over to the closet and rifled through the hanging clothing. Extracting a key from the pocket of a suitcoat, she walked over to her cedar chest. It was beautiful, she thought, plain and clean of symbol, varnished to a cherry red. Using the key, she opened it and took out a mostly hand-sewn costume.

"Might as well."

On the roof of her apartment building, the Lightningale tapped her com.

"Anyone out here tonight?"



A small voice in his ear gradually registered in his sleep-befudled mind as that of The Lighningale. Ignus, reaching for the light beside his bed finally gave up groping for it and just willed a crackling, merry fire into the nearby fireplace.
He realized as he came fully awake that he had fallen asleep with his com unit still on. His memory, nearly flawless when it came to remembering neuanced spells and odd lore often slipped when it came to more ordinary things. Looking around himself now he saw that he was still in his molded uniform and lying not on his bed, but the large stuffed armchair he often sat in for late night reading. His book A concise history of magic in the British Isles from 1632 to the present, which looked by it's thickness to be anything but concise, lay open in his lap.
"Not as young as I used to be" he thought.
"Is anyone out here tonight?" The voice came again, snapping his attention back to what had brought him awake in the first place.
"Gale? What's wrong? You sound upset."



The Lightningale laughed aloud into the night air.

"Upset? Nah. Just couldn't sleep. But what in the world are you doing awake at this time of morning, Saint? I know you aren't a night owl."

The heroine could feel the strange tension in her muscles that signals the body has had too little rest. As she stretched, Gale scanned to make sure things were quiet on the street below.

"It's okay, Ignus, no emergency. You can go back to bed if I woke you up."

She smiled at the thought that her former mentor might be in a dressing gown, hair a rumpled mess. It was only then that she considered the state of her own hair, which had not been touched since she awoke. Sighing at her absent-mindedness, she removed a small brush from her utility belt.



"Fell asleep with my comm unit on, actually" Ignus replied with a chuckle, "I was reading and dropped off in my chair, but I am awake now, what is it that made you broadcast at this hour?"



((Hope its alright but I've got a character who's looking to contact the MA, wanted to do it without OOC, so figured here wasn't a bad place))

Sea-Hawk walked down the dark street by himself. The maze of backalleys had made him become lost after only a few minutes, now he was hoping to just stumble onto his destination.

He wasn't sure where the Midnight Avengers were located, but he knew he was in the right area and he'd find it soon enough. Turning another corner he stepped into the moonlight and realized he'd just walked in another circle.

He sighed a bit, "Sooner or later I'll find them. Then maybe I can finally get an answer..."



"I hear ya Gale. Can't sleep either?" yawned Kinse into the comm unit. Peering down on the night streets, Kinse stifled another yawn. Another late night it seems. Somedays he wonders if he'll ever get another good nights sleep.

"Kinda quiet where I'm at. A few Trolls murking about, but otherwise its a safe night..for once."

Walking over to the other side of the building, Kinse hears some hushed voices talking about "..another sucker..."

"Hmm, seems like I might have found something interesting. Oh, and if I were you Ignus, I'd go back to sleep, nothing we can't handle, and we need you full rested anyways."

Reaching the other end of the building, Kinse peers down to see a group of Trolls, including an Ogre, hiding in an alley, as a costumed person walks down the street.

You know, I think he's walked this way more then once...they might have singled him out... thinks Kinse.

"Well, seems the Trolls are preparing an ambush for a hero walking around out here. I swear he has walked down these streets a few times already..making laps...I guess. Well, looks like it won't be boring after all!!"

Activating one of his symbols, Kinse leaps off the building....



In his large brownstone house on the Western edge of Atlas Park, Justin Ignatius shook the last of the sleep from his head as he realized what Kinse had just said.
"Wandering in circles?" A small magical alarm had been ringing in his head since shortly after his first contact with Gale, but with Kinse's words it finally registered what it was.
"Careful, Kinse, whoever the trolls are setting up their ambush for, he was looking for us. I set a spell near the underground entrance to my home to trap any unauthorized persons in a looping path spell until one of us Arrived. We don't know the intruders intent, but if it looks like he is in trouble, we should help out."
Fully awake now, Ignus sprang to the french doors on his balcony. In the days before the massive power walls went up the balcony had afforded a beautiful veiw of Perez Park, but now looked out on a flat grey surface.
Ignus leapt into the air heading for the area where he had set the spell. "On my way. Gale, whatever is keeping you up tonight will have to wait."



Lightningale breathed a sigh of relief as she quickly finished fixing her hair. She was not going to have to be alone with her fading memories of the dream tonight... Something to do.

"Yeah, I'll be in Atlas faster than the crow flies! This is the second time this week someone's tripped your misdirection spell, Ignus. Do we know for sure this guy's looking for us?"

Gale was sure she would be able to discern the intruder's motives accurately if she could only get there before he got away. She wished there were a spell that could speed the approach of the next tram to Atlas Park.

"Kinse, have you already engaged the trolls? When you've knocked them out, make sure you detain our wandering friend. He's more of a concern to me than they are; he was able to discover the vicinity of our lair somehow."



"Working on it!" Kinse shouted as he ducked under the massive swing from the Ogre. The sound of the air rushing past him made Kinse glad it didn't connect, this time.

"These Ogres sure aren't as easy as their lackies..!" Another dodge, and Kinse rears back and slashes the Ogre across the stomache with his claws. Not leaving as deep enough impression as he would have liked, Kinse moves back from the Ogre shouting, "Their resistant little b....ughhhh"

Flying backwards from the haymaker that the Ogre let loose, Kinse tumbles into the wall of the alley, cracking the brick, and dropping a few onto his head. "Their strong too...ouch. Glad Im a bit resistant myself..but man that hurt. The guy breaking the bat over my head didn't hurt that much..." Shaking out the spinning stars, Kinse pulls himself out of the dent in the building, plaster and brick dust falling off him. He could smell the Superadine that the Ogre used to pump up. Seemed like it was just recently. The Ogre, looking proud of himself, beats his chest and roars! "Puny Hero! You've got nothing on the Trolls! I' have body by Superadine!"

Lunging off the wall, Kinse unleashes a flurry of swipes and slashes on the Ogre, coming in from the left with a slash to the arm, from the right with a stab to the leg, a punch to the nose, leaping over and slashing the Ogre across the back for the final move of his combo. Turning to admire his handiwork, Kinse was yet again greeted with a powerful punch to the face, knocking him off his feet and into a dumpster. "Sheesh, they don't go down!!" Kinse roared as he lunged off the dumpster, garbage and metal fragments streaming behind him in the moonlight, glistening. Coming in to feint from the left, Kinse lets loose with a right hand into the Ogre's face. The connection was solid, a full out punch to the cheek! The sound of fist hitting face echoed through the alleyway. The smell of the garbage overpowered everything. The effect of the punch, unfortunantly wasn't as dramatic. The Ogre just took it....took it and laughed! "See, you gots nothing on me! Now its me turn!"

Rearing his foot into the air, the Ogre stomped down incredibly hard. Cement and dirt went flying into the air, along with Kinse, as the Ogre's foot made a huge crater in the alleyway. Landing hard on his back, the wind knocked from his lungs, Kinse peered through the stars in his eyes again to see a pair of boots at his head. Ones that seemed like the unknown hero he was trying to save in the first place. Somehow he had flown back to the alleyway entrance! What a blow! I'll have to remember to be more careful fighting these trolls. "Hey, mind giving me a hand here....?"



"Oh, sorry! I'm so sorry, are you alright?"

Leaning down quickly he helps him to his feet, making sure he's alright to stand on his own.

"I could hear a fight but, well, I kept ending back up in this same spot. I swear these alleys are some kind of maze."

Looking back up the alley Sea-Hawk can see the remnants of the battle, he clearly looks very impressed. His face flashes with embarassment as he realizes he's just standing there and not offering any explaination for his intrustion.

Stuttering over an apology he looks back to the man, "I,well, I've been trying to get some answers. And I, ah, heard about the Midnight Avengers and thought maybe...Maybe you all could help."

Before the other man could speak a low growl from the end of the alley made both quickly turn. There standing in a small shaft of moonlight was a very, very angry looking Ogre...



Ignus' flight took him a only a few yards from his home, into the alley behind it. He could see the results of a large fight, not uncommon to his eyes since he began working as a Hero, and was pleased to see that the unconcious forms held only gang members.
Then he noticed the 3 upright forms. One of whom was much larger than the other two and advancing menacingly at them. Acting quickly he chanted a few words under his breath and several small fireballs erupted out of his hands to hit the Ogre in the back of the head.
The Ogre turned, unharmed and began to look for its attacker. Ignus let fly with a few more attacks, singing the creature below, but hardly much else, when the other two figures atttacked as well.
It was a hard fight, but the three of them managed to subdue the creature, and as it ended Ignus landed in the street next to Kinse and the stranger.
"Thank you for your help with the Ogre, but I must ask what you are doing here." He turned his firey gaze on the man in front of him



"Pardon me, while you two talk..Im gonna sit back and catch my breath..."

Man, that was a blast! Hurts still, but was a good time.

"And Ignus is right..thanks for the help...but you better have a good reason to be here..."

I hope he does..I'm not in the mood for another fight...especially after seeing what he can do...



The PCPD paddy wagon was just pulling up as the Lightningale descended into the ally. The police officers who emerged checked the heroes for IDs before hauling the unconscious trolls away.

"Sorry I wasn't here to help sooner." She looked at Kinse bent down on one knee. "Good work."

Ignus was face to face with the stranger, and she moved over to stand beside him.

"You've found us. What do you want?" Her eyebrow was raised and her tone serious, though not unfriendly.



Sea-Hawk took a deep breath and looked at the three faces staring at him. He began to wonder if he had made a mistake coming here, perhaps he had gotten himself in way over his head.

"I didn't mean to disrupt anything...I hope these Trolls weren't my fault."

Taking a deep breath he continued, "I just heard that you, well you all I mean, had an extensive knowledge of all things, ah, magic."

"And, well..."he sighed, "I need help."



Gale lowered her eyebrow and and looked a bit more sympathetic.

"I'm the Lightningale," she said extending her hand. "This is Ignus on my left and Kinse is over there." She motioned to the other mages in the alley.

"If you wouldn't mind telling us who you are and what you need help with, maybe we can assist you."



Dr. Voodoo knelt on a rooftop overlooking the alley. He stared at the new comer, trying to read his aura. He found it more difficult than normal.

"Hmm. How odd."

He peered down at Kinse. He pulled a small pouch out of his belt and rubbed it between his fingers.

"Good. Kinse will be ok." He put the charm he had attuned to Kinse's aura back in his belt and went back to scrutinizing the new comer.

Dr. Voodoo
Magic Defender of the
Midnight Avengers-Virtue



"Sorry if we seem overbearing Sea-Hawk..but we are protective of our own. Too many innocents have been hurt, and we don't want to see that happen again." Kinse said, standing back up from his breather. Cracking a smirk, he cuffs Sea-Hawk on the shoulder...
"Thanks again for giving me a hand there."

Kinse steps back a bit from the group..."I'll let you talk to those two," motioning towards Ignus and Lightningale, "They know more about the magical stuff then I do..."



Ignus' manner grew slightly softer at the strangers request, but he remained wary. "Please, come into my home. It is not far, we can discuss your problem there."



Hearing this, Dr. Voodoo decided he should join the discussion. He has spent his life researching arcane lore and may have valueable insight to share.

Dr. Voodoo teleported to the alley floor.

Bowing, "I couldn't help but over hear. Perhaps I could join all of you? It never hurts to have anothers input."



((So sorry about the delay. I thought I had posted something before I left for the weekend, guess I did something wrong in the rush))

Sea-Hawk smiled slightly at Ignus' kind offer and nodded as he spoke, "I'm sorry, I really didn't mean to disrupt anything. I certainly hope I haven't caused too much trouble. I just, well, I heard some of the Avengers were located here and I ah...

Realizing he was rambling and the three were giving him an odd look he decided to get to the point.

"You see, I have something that I need examined. I'm not sure if it is magical but, well, I'm just not sure."

Reaching into his pocket he produced a small tattered book and offered it to Ignus. On the faded cover, barely readable through all the creases and tears, was printed The Sea-Hawk



Peering across the alley, Kinse gets a pained expression, "Hmm, I hate seeing literature ruined...looks like it was a good book...but what do I know..."



Leaning in to get a closer look, the Lightningale quietly muttered, "arcanum ostendere."

"There is magic in this book, but its aura is a mystery to me. We'll hope it's not a dangerous one, because it's already tied itself to you." She looked up at the stranger. "The aura that surrounds this book surrounds you as well."

She stepped away, turning as if to walk from the alley. "Good evening, Dr. Voodoo. Glad to have you along tonight."

Gale was unable to stifle a hearty yawn. "Seems as though nobody can sleep."

Her head tilted slightly back, as though she were pondering the few points of starlight still visible through the orange glow of the street lamp at the end of the alley. She musn't have found anything particularly interesting amidst their twinkling, because she once again turned to look at man holding the book.

"You still haven't fulfilled my original requests. Do you have a name? And you say that you heard we could be found here. Where did you hear that?"



"My name, I'm sorry, of course my name. I get called The Sea-Hawk sometimes but my real name is just Thomas."

He shifted on his feet a bit, increasingly nervous about saying the wrong thing. Looking up a the moon he took a deep breath and began to speak again, "It's not so much that I heard, well, I sort of did. I was actually just taken here, in a way."

Looking around at their faces, all of which wore expressions of confusion, he tried to explain further, "I can, well, control the wind a bit you see. And, well, sometimes if I am looking for something the wind will shift direction. It just, um, just led me to this alley."

Raising his hands a bit he stuttered a bit "I'm no threat I promise, I'm just trying to figure somethings out. Somethings about who I am..."



"Well, Thomas, its my experience that you are who you choose to be. You decide your destiny, you decide what you one else. You are your own person. That being said, if we can, Im sure we will help you as much as we are able to. I myself have no recollection of who I am beyond a few years ago. Everything is gone. And as much as I try to find out who I was, its holding back who I can be. Who I am today."

Leaning back agaisnt the alley wall, Kinse closes his eyes, appearing to be in deep reflection.



Walking back up to the Sea-Hawk, Gale looked in his eyes for a moment. Her expression was searching and sympathetic.

"Thomas, before we allow you to enter one of our protected locations, would you allow me to probe your mind? I promise it won't damage you in any way, and I will not look into those memories that are deeply personal or unrelated to this book or your involvement with us."

She smiled slightly and her look was now gentle. "It will help me help you better. Somehow this book has gotten inside you, and if you let me in maybe I can find out what it's doing to you."