It was a pleasant day in early spring, and Emerald Park was filled with people enjoying it. One man, though, seemed to be more troubled than enjoying. He had a bottle of alcohol in one hand, and was scratching at himself with the other. It was when he rolled up his sleeves (revealing reddish blotches) that someone decided to step in and help.
The someone was a man clad in layers of unrecognizable, bulky rags. He grabbed the man and restrained him, trying to find out what was bothering the man. It became apparent that the man (clad in disarrayed business shirt and slacks) was craving some sort of stimulus, and resisted anything that would prevent him from getting it. Seeing this, the homeless man charged him with some strange blue energy, which made him go wild.
Both Doug Katt and Max Berretti were attracted by this strange scene, the more so when the blue light erupted. Changing into their costumes, they arrived in time to witness the homeless man release the suffering one, who was clearly out of control. Cabbie subdued the man with an electro-net, and then encouraged the others to climb aboard his flying cab so that they could take the man to the hospital.
An incredibly rapid (and somewhat harrowing) trip later, the cab pulled up at the doors to St. Jude’s emergency room. The heroes plunged inside, demanding to see Dr. Lazarus. Luckily, Dr. Sheridan was still onsite, and she took the heroes (and the hapless man) to an examination room.
The good doctor was able to determine that the man was contagious (though the heroes had managed to fight off the infection), and stabilize the man. She seemed dubious in her ability to cure him, however, and sent the heroes off to locate the epicentre of this epidemic. Reflex searched the man’s wallet, and found out that he was Stanley Lawson, a broker at Brucker & Hillson. As the heroes left to follow this lead, they heard Dr. Sheridan being summoned once more.
Arriving in front of Brucker & Hillson, Cabbie noticed (thanks to the IR goggles in his helmet) another infected person stumbling out of a nearby bar. Cabbie netted him, and checked on the other patrons. Seeing them all infected, the group called St. Jude’s and requested January’s help. The nurse told them that Dr. Sheridan was busy with a number of cases similar to what they’d brought it, but she would send an emergency response team right away.
After setting a watch on the bar using Cabbie’s cab, the three went up to Brucker & Hillson. The receptionist was a bit stunned, but was able to tell them that Stan had concluded a big deal with Xiandong Imports, a large import business working out of Chinatown.
Returning to the cab, they found that the emergency medical team had arrived, but was waiting for backup before rounding up the infected in the bar. The heroes waded in, and Cabbie lured the infected out by telling them that there was a bus to the REAL party outside. The patrons but up a bit of a fight when they found out they’d been duped, but presently they were subdued and taken away. The EMTs (and Gateway PD’s Extraordinary Crimes Unit) informed the heroes that there were outbreak points across the city, including the Halcyon Building and a restaurant in Chinatown near Xiandong Imports. The heroes set out for this last, suspecting they would find the heart of the mystery.
Arriving to find a riot in progress on the streets of Chinatown, Cabbie pacified the area by deploying an extra-large electro-net, and set them down in front of the import company. The receptionist discouraged them from entering, but was summarily ignored. They charged in, looking for the person who had met with Stanley Lawson.
Instead, they found a pair of strange, yellow-skinned men with glowing eyes, clawed fingers and whips. Reflex made short work of the pair, and the three continued the search. They found that a number of offices in the company had seemingly been taken over, apparently to import some kind of liquor. The M.O. brought to mind the Lord of the Hell of Burning-Off Flesh, an enemy of the Tao.
At this point, a larger contingent of enforcers appeared, including cloaked and masked figures with supreme skill in martial arts, and burning skeletal figures clad in the remains of business wear. Reflex engaged one group (copying the strange martial-arts style), while Star challenged the other and Cabbie leaped out a window to get his cab.
Reflex was on the defensive, scoring transient hits against the masked figure while defending himself from the mob. Star fared worse, his innate protections being insufficient against the masked warrior’s skill.
Hard-pressed, the heroes unleashed their big guns. Star let loose a blaze of blue-white power that sent his enemies flying, battered. Reflex was still on the defensive, but Cabbie came to his aid, slamming his cab through the wall of the building and into the massed demons. Cabbie’s rash act also put a crack in a wall opposite, attracting the team’s attention to the signs of flames in the warehouse beyond.
Crashing through the wall, Cabbie revealed an army of the burning damned being massed by the Demon Lord’s servants, while the Demon Lord himself laid a dark enchantment on several cases of alcohol, in the midst of an octogon of sinister flame. When Cabbie flung himself (and his cab) at the flames, he discovered that they were a solid barrier!
Not solid enough, however. The Cabbie smashed down the barrier, and disrupted the Demon Lord’s spell. His minions sprung to attack, and the Cabbie was soon surrounded. Reflex joined the fray, striking the Demon Lord but having his blows ignored by the supernaturally potent foe. The Demon Lord mocked his strikes, contemptuous of the “foolish mortals”.
Midday Star, frustrated by the resilience of his enemy, targeted the Demon Lord: “Taste the power of true immortality!” His blue radiance surrounded the Demon Lord, and then ripped him in two, in a great burst of light! So bright a light, in fact, that all were blinded and stunned for a brief moment.
On seeing their master seemingly destroyed, most of the subordinate demons fled. Two more masked warriors leaped to avenge their master, however, and the swarm of burning damned continued to mindlessly attack Cabbie and Reflex. Between them, driver and athlete dispatched the shades, while Star defended himself. With another burst of power, Star annhilated the two assassins.
With the revelation of the source of the plague, the epidemic was contained, and most of those who had been infected were healed through the combined powers of January and Yin of the Tao.