Gateway City

Running Hot!

Gang War Saga, Part 1

War has erupted on the streets of Southside, and the city’s heroes are feeling the effects. While helping with a renovation of public housing, Pillar hears a crackle-crack, and looks out to see a nearby warehouse on fire! The Man of Stone plunges into the burning building, ultimately rescuing six men dressed in familiar-looking grey jackets.

Meanwhile, Dr. Sheridan has her hands full at St. Jude’s. The bombing of an apartment (or possibly even a whole floor!) left collateral damage from not only the building but a party being held in the building’s courtyard. Even as she works, the good doctor ponders who could have done this, but gets no answers.

Nightstick, on the other hand, is more lucky. His interest aroused by the seemingly-impregnable legal wall possessed by the Catch-22s, the Dark Avenger takes to the streets, shaking down Southside’s criminal elements. What he learns is chilling – the Catch-22s are at war with the Hot Rods over turf, and the Hot Rods seem to be winning!

In spite of being a man of action, Pillar is attempting to investigate the disappearance of three former felons from The Foundation’s programs. Speaking to the mother of one man, he definitely gets a sense of something funny, but isn’t sure what. He goes looking for a better investigator.

Nightstick has been distracted by an altercation at O’Flanagan’s Pub: an irate customer is hauling off Old Man O’Flanagan! The criminal turns out to be Roentgen in civilian clothes, and while Nightstick takes him down handily, he suffers radiation burns in the process. This takes him to St. Jude’s Hospital, and January. She treats his burns, and listens to his story. Nightstick goes out again to investigate further, while Dr. Sheridan uses her contacts to check on the Catch-22s surprisingly-able lawyers.

The good doctor has discovered a common element between the three: therapy, combined with a notable lack of information on the therapist. When Pillar comes to her describing the fearful mother, it all seems to tie things together.

In the meantime, Nightstick has infiltrated one of the Catch-22s’ staging-points, where he finds them mustering for an all-out assault on the Hot Rods, being orchestrated by The Heirophant, whom Nightstick remembers from a previous encounter. Placing tracking devices on the Catch-22s’ vans, he returns to January to confer.

On hearing this latest information, the three heroes decide to try and contain the savagery which will undoubtedly be released by such an assault, and perhaps take down both gangs in the process. Nightstick heads out, to be followed soon after by Pillar and January (once they call the police with an “anonymous” tip).

The strong man and healer arrive to find the Hot Rods’ garage besieged by the unnaturally-ordered and disciplined forces of the Catch-22s. Pillar wades into the fray, throwing cars and knocking Catch-22s senseless, just as the latter gang makes a push to invade the garage. January follows along, boosting Pillar’s muscle control with her strange healing powers.

Pillar throws a van through the wall of the garage, making a hole, and charges through behind it. Inside, he finds the Hot Rods ready to repel invaders, but they are hardly a match for his might. Pillar spots Motorhead and charges him, knocking the cyborg out in a single hit!

Meanwhile, Nightstick has been searching the Catch-22s vehicles for signs of Heirophant (knocking out gang members as he goes). He is about to move on when he spots a familiar form out of the corner of his eye – when he looks head-on, it’s gone. Taking this as a clue, Nightstick silently moves to infiltrate the van.

Inside the garage, things are dire. The Catch-22s are beginning to pour in, just as everyone else realizes that Motorhead’s last conscious act was to weaken the load-bearing pillars inside! The Hot Rods prepare to bolt as soon as the Catch-22s are inside the trap, while Pillar readies himself to hold at least part of the roof up through main strength! January has called for everyone to evacuate, but the Catch-22s are a split-second too late to hear her!

Nightstick bursts into Heirophant’s van, making a show of searching and not finding him, while his keen detective sense actually allows him to penetrate the illusion. Just as he is seemingly about to give up, Nightstick grabs Heirophant in his preternaturally-strong grip!

The Hot Rods escape the building, and push a car in front of the blown doors in order to keep the Catch-22s and heroes trapped! Pillar clears that entry and, with police sirens growing ever louder, begins to round up fleeing gang members.

January, on the other hand, stays inside the building to check for stragglers. She overstays her welcome, and just as she has assured herself that the office is deserted, the garage collapses on her!

Heirophant remains strangely calm in Nightstick’s grasp. Nightstick too is calm, but inwardly Nick Tyler screams in anguish as the Gateway’s Dark Avenger ruthlessly snaps the neck of the Heirophant, and flees into the night.

The police are able to round up about half of each gang, thanks to the intervention of January and Pillar. Police reports the next day find no trace of the Heirophant’s body, which leads Nick Tyler to suspect that the man wasn’t dead after all. Cold comfort, knowing what Nightstick attempted.

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