|What: Henchmen release fear toxin over the narrows|
Jessica does not like this place, but has to come here. In this area, the very soil it laced with fear, the air is filled with a mist of terror. It is the best environment for the health of er ring, though it feeds most directly on fear, it thrives best in an environment of fear. This, and a handful of similar places, are where she needs to go to help her ring...though it still needs a full recharge occasionally it needs it less if she spends time in places like this.
This isn't a good neighborhood. That much is obvious. But Charlie has been to worse. And it's not like she needs to stay here. But for now? She's exploring the city. She used to limit her 'activities' to New York. She didn't want to step on the toes of the "official" bat-people. But it's not like Batman is limited to New York. Or really anyone. So why should she? Not that she's patrolling tonight. Dressed casually with T-shirt and jeans, the costume in a backpack on her back, she's mostly just wandering today. Exploring. Seeing if this is somewhere she needs to make a difference.
Billy doesn't usually come here to Gotham, he normally stays away from Gotham altogether since it's Batman (and his allies') turf. He does know several of the homeless here who have either migrated or have been driven here from New York. He flew here as Captain Marvel(Shazam) but changed back so that he wouldn't attract any attention. He's been homeless himself for a long time and he knows how to navigate even these parts. A little dirt on the face, his most used red sweatshirt that's been patched and threadbare and jeans and sneakers that are almost falling apart helps him blend in perfectly with the rest.
Jessica looks too good to be from around here, the last time she was here she was accosted several times. Something is wrong though, she can feel it. There is a different pitch to the fear. It is sharper, stronger...it seems to be invading her mind...she uses her ring to clear herself of any foreign influences and says, "Volthoom, there is something here, scan the area." Volthoom replies, "Scanning, detecting a substance in the air, it seems designed to cause fear in those who breathe it." Jessica switches to Power ring and says, "Trace it to the source, the people here have enough to fear already."
The fear gas wouldn't affect Captain Marvel, but Billy Batson is as mortal as the rest of humanity and not immune to fear. Suddenly the Narrows looks much more menacing and much more dangerous to Billy than it normally would and even the homeless that would normally seem and be friendly to Billy seem forbidding and a danger to him. He takes a hesitant step back, and then blinks, something's not right here... why does he feel much more afraid than usual? Even though he's in his mortal form, Billy can still access a tiny portion of his God-granted abilities and taps into the Courage of Achillies which immediately lessens (but doesn't completely remove) the effects of the fear gas.
It is enough for Billy to realize that this isn't just him, it's everyone and he looks around now, someone's messing with the minds of the people here, who is it and why are they doing this?
Nope. Nothing wrong here. Though there /does/ seem to be an edge to the shadows around here. Still, it's not something that Charlie is willing to let get to her. At least not right away. Though there /is/ something bothering her about this place. Something she can't quite put her finger on. Putting a little extra briskness into her step, she tells herself that it's fine to look a little scared. Afterall, she came here like this to act as bait and lure out the bad elements anyway.
Volthoom informs Power Ring, "There seem to be several sources, someone is attempting a wide area dispersion of the gas." Jessica grunts, "Locate all of the gas emitters and show me them on a map, I need an efficient way to take them out." The map appears before her, a small model of this part of the city with the emitters highlighted in green. Jessica makes sure her defenses are up, someone is bound to be guarding the things. She heads to the nearest source...
Charlie really has no idea why she's suddenly getting so nervous. She's definitely been in more dangerous areas before. Of course, there's also no clear way to know that it's not completely natural. Though she does see some of the other people on the street and nobody seems really calm at the moment. In fact, the streets are getting agitated and she sees it in the people around her. But nobody seems to know what's happening. And right now with the gas affecting her, she's not entirely sure how to cope either.
Billy thinks it might be time to try and do a little something about this, he might not be crippled by the fear gas as some of the homeless are, but he is enduring some of the effects of it. Hallucinations of his parents dying with him unable to do anything about it, visions of being yanked from his twin sister Mary and sent away to a different orphanage. It'd be enough to drive any normal person a little nuts, but Billy's had to deal with people trying to control his mind (like Mr. Mind for one) or use his memories against him and with the tiny bit of courage of Achillies he can tap into he steps into an empty alcove and quickly calls forth the magic lightning with his magic word, "SHAZAM!".
Captain Marvel (Shazam) feels a lot better once he's able to access the full power of the courage of Achillies and drive the fear toxin out of his system. The strange effects of vertigo and hallucination end immediately and the wisdom of Solomon allows him to identify what was affecting him, "Fear toxin..." Billy in his champion form mutters, "Doesn't Batman have a rogue that uses that stuff?" He flies up into the air and tries to look around for anyone who's not being affected by the toxin. Such a person would likely be the one using it on everyone.
Jessica finds herself under fire by a trio of thugs wearing gas masks as she approaches the first rooftop device. She says, "You like fear so much, let's make those gas masks concentrate the gas, instead of neutralize it." Seconds later the thugs are screaming and ripping at their masks.
Captain marvel hears gunshots, followed by screaming and sees a green light flying through the air... (if he can sense magic, he will)
And before long, Charlie isn't even on the street any longer. She's reliving her worst memory. She's younger. Not nearly as experienced with her powers. And her home is burning around her. But this time she knows what happens if she teleports with her mother. But the flames continue to advance and to the casual observer, she's pulling back from something invisible, tears streaming down her face as she finds herself fully within the sway of the gas. And then with a puff of pink smoke, she disappears.
The gunshots do catch Captain Marvel (Shazam)'s attention along with the screaming and the green light flying through the air. Strangely though, there is a sense of great magic being emitted by that green light and Marvel stops in the middle of the process of flying there saying, "Green Lantern? I thought their rings ran off highly advanced tech, not magic?" He then flies there and blinks at the scene before him, staring at Jessica and then the thugs and says, "You aren't Green Lantern... who are you? And what have you done to them?"
Power Ring says, "I am Power Ring, and I reversed their gas masks to concentrate their gas, not prevent it. It only seemed fair they suffer what they are making others suffer."
She concentrates, and Volthoom shows her where the gas cylinder is and how to break down the toxin to something safe. It is fighting her though, it is enjoying the fear...
When Charlie reappears, she's on a rooftop miles away and... instantly feels better? Wiping her eyes, she realizes quickly that whatever was happening to her wasn't natural. But who would do that? And nearly before Charlie asks herself the question, the answer is pretty obvious. After all, this is Gotham and it had to do with fear. Looking out over the city, she can see the flashing lights off in the distance. That's probably where she needs to go. Quickly reaching into her backpack, she starts to get her costume ready.
Captain Marvel (Shazam) blinks and says, "Holy moley! No it's not! We're supposed to be heroes! Heroes don't do that sort of thing even to people who might deserve it. That's what separates us from them!" He floats down and punches a small hole in the water tower on the roof, letting it pour over the thugs, helping to cleanse them of the toxin enough that it won't affect them quite as badly. He then turns to Power Ring and says, "Listen Power Ring, I don't know who you are or where you came from, but there are better ways of handling things. I'm Captain Marvel."
Jessica says with a sigh, "If I want to neutralize the gas, I need the fear. I need to feel it myself, but I can channel the fears of others through me to do it. Unless you have a better way to safely get rid of the gas, Captain?"
Charlie is trying not to take her time as she gets into her costume. She's missing the action. From up here, she can just barely make out the lights. But it'll be enough to get her where she needs to be. Once she's fully changed though, she makes one last check and disappears in a puff of pink smoke, aiming for somewhere near where she saw the flashes of lights.
Captain Marvel picks up the canister and says "Actually... I do... learned this one from Superman." He covers the nozzle stopping the flow and then after exhaling completely, starts to inhale as if he were some sort of bellows, beginning to inhale all the fear toxin in the area. It's not going to completely remove it, or remove the toxin already in people's bloodstreams, but at least what's left in this part of the Narrows will fade quickly. Once he's filled his lungs (a considerable amount, he quickly puts his mouth to the nozzle and exhales, blowing all the fear toxin back into the canister before he breaks the nozzle making it unable to function. He then patches the hole he made in the water tower and lifting off the top, drops the canister in there to keep it safe and says, "There."
Misfit suddenly appears on the rooftop near the red man and the green woman. Almost before she finishes appearing she is in a green bubble, as Power Ring reacts reflexively to the perceived threat. She projects the map she had earlier, "There are seven more of these devices, we need to deal with all of them." She is mildly impressed with Captain Marvel's ability to pass the gas through his system to render it harmless. She looks at the new arrival, "Who are you?"
As Charlie arrives and is immediately put into a green bubble, she's caught off guard. She didn't think anyone could react that fast. The smoke barely had time to clear. And then she's asked the question and she's so caught off guard by /that/ that she doesn't even bother using her usual disguised voice. "What kind of question is that?" She gestures to her outfit. "I'm the g*dd@mn Batgirl." And with another puff of smoke, she disappears again, appearing on a nearby fire escape.
Marvel blinks and was about to respond when Power Ring captures Charlie in her bubble, he tilts his head and blinks, "Holy moley! Power Ring she could be..." He stops as Misfit immediately teleports out of the bubble. Marvel then shakes his head head and completes, "A friend..." He doesn't recognize her however in costume.
Power Ring says, "You are not Batgirl, we worked together twice, I know her. However, if Captain Marvel vouches for you, we have bigger fish to fry than what you call yourself. If you look at this model, you can see the 8 locations I hasve detected the gas being distributed. I need you to shut down the other 7 location, I will try to gather the gas that is already spread."
"Ummm... pretty sure you're wrong. Last I saw Batman, he didn't seem to have a problem with it." That's actually a stretch. When she met Batman, he didn't approve, but he didn't shut her down either. So she took that as acceptance. As she sees Captain Marvel however, her eyes go a little wider. She'd /just/ been trying to meet him and here he is. She looks about to say something, but stops herself. "That shouldn't be too tough", she says, disappearing in another puff of smoke and landing next to one of the crooks with the gasmasks, taking one off and trying to fit it to herself. It looks like she can shake off the effects if she bounces, but this is the smarter way to do this.
Marvel just shakes his head and says, "Alright... I'll take care of 4 on the north and east sides of the narrows if..." He turns to Charlie and says, "Batgirl can take the others on the south and west?" He asks the girl politely.
Power Ring turns the gas mask back into a filter, not a concentrator, and says, "Just watch out, there are probably groups of 3 thugs guarding each one." She carefully spreads her senses, feeling the fear from below and letting it run through her consciousness, feeling the fear of everyone as her own, feeding that fear into Volthoom to power her effort. She stands, shaking with fear, but focused on her task, pulling the gas out of the air...
"I can handle that. 3 thugs?", Charlie says confidently. Team-up with Captain Marvel. This is pretty much exactly the kind of thing she signed up for. "Bet you I finish first!" And without waiting for a reply, she steps back and in a puff of smoke disappears again. She's heading to the South first. But with a gas mask, she doesn't have to worry about the gas and 3 thugs is pretty much a non-threat.
Marvel says, "Not a problem... and this is NOT a race..." That said, he flies a bit faster than maybe he normally would as he heads for the first area marked by PR's model. When he arrives he immediately gets shot at by the thugs. He stands there and says, "Holy moley... you can't hurt me, surrender and this will go much easier for you all!" When inevitably they increase their rate of fire, Marvel sighs and then says, "Gosh, why are criminals so dumb..." He swoops down and in a flash has them all spinning and dizzy and disarmed, as they collapse, Marvel grabs some exposed rebar and with his strength, wraps it around them, rendering them harmless. That done he grabs the canister and crushes it, rendering it useless for the purposes of causing more problems. That done he flies off towards the next area.
It's doubtful that Charlie heard Captain Marvel's comment about it not being a race. Then again, she probably wouldn't have slowed down anyway. She's on an adrenaline high here and as she appears, she wastes no time assaulting the thugs guarding the southern outlet. Her form is terrible. Her opponents are worse. Considering she's significantly stronger than she looks, she's also got surprise on her side. With moves that look like she stole them from a bad kung-fu movie, she dispatches the thugs and then closes down the gas valve there. "One down, one to go." And in a puff of pink smoke, she's on her way to the next.
Power Ring creates a large green jar and focuses on pulling the fear gas into the jar. She has to fight Volthoom every inch of the way, as it is reveling in the fear, but her will starts gathering the gas in. She starts at the bottom, pulling it up off the ground and away from people first.
Charlie pops in and out, bouncing around and attacking before the thugs can get a bead on her. She does not do as much damage with a single blow as Captain Marvel, but with enough of them they go down. She closes off the gas. Marvel makes sure the valve can not be open on his by crushing it hard enough to fuse the metal together.
Shazam flies to the next and pretty much repeats the pattern, provided there's no wrinkles thrown in that is.
Charlie pretty much has the same routine at the next one also. She's not too worried about these guys. From what she can tell, the Scarecrow's minions aren't very well trained. And she /does/ do this a lot. She doesn't do anything specific to keep the valve from being reopened. She figures that by the time the thugs wake up, she'll have time to get back there again. Or someone will be able to follow-up and actually arrest them. Usually it takes a while for your average thug to wake up after taking a few solid hits from someone with enhanced strength. The important thing though is to make sure that it gets shut down.
Working Quickly Marvel and Charlie deal with the fear gas spreaders and the thugs guarding them. The return to find Power Ring looking as if she is under a great strain, with a green jar full of the liquified fear agent, "Marvel, please get rid of this." She knows Volthoom wants the fear gas spread, so working against him as the fear from outside diminishes is taking all her will.
Marvel says, "Can you hold your construct for 3 seconds? I'll take it up out of the atmosphere so that it'll disperse harmlessly in space." If necessary he can inhale it, but that's going to really strain his stamina of Atlas and courage of Achilles having to inhale that much fear gas.
Charlie is very pleased with herself as she returns, but seeing the gas all about to be released, she frowns. She really can't help here. At least not as far as she knows. She can't contain the gas in any way. If she did, she could just bounce it somewhere. But not being able to contain it... and then she starts looking around for somewhere to put it just in case that construct can't stay for 3 seconds.
Power Ring says, "As long as you carry me with you, I cannot maintain a construct that far from me, and I will not be able to fly high enough on my own while keeping everything stable.
Marvel nods and reaches out to wrap his arm around PR and says, "Gosh... alright, hang on to that... I'll get us up there as quickly as the speed of Mercury will allow me!" With that he blasts off towards the outer atmosphere like a booster rocket launch heading to space.
Charlie regards the water tower with the punctured hole in it. Couldn't they have just released the gas into that and then Captain Marvel could let it out from there? But it seems like this way works too. Shrugging, she watches as they take off. That went pretty well.
Captain Marvel carries Power Ring up high into the sky, beyond where the sky turns totally black and millions of stars never seen from the earth's surface shine undimmed. Outside the atmosphere, Power Ring releases the gas where it will be spread wide by the vacuum and burned bu the undimmed rays of the sun. Once she no longer has to fight Volthoom for control, she can fly herself down.