Following a brief introductory discussion, the heroes were introduced to several other individuals.
- First came the Pit Boss – the team’s liaison to the High Rollers. The Pit Boss was his customary stern self – and he made it clear that he is not happy babysitting a bunch of kids, and that if the heroes ever call him, it had better be for a good reason.
- Next entered Sgt. Tim Lincoln of the Pacifico Police Department (PPD). Sgt. Lincoln introduced himself as the team’s liaison to the PPD – a job he seemed much happier with than the Pit Boss did! He made certain that all of the heroes had his direct contact information.
- Finally, the team was introduced to Doctor Eric Daniels, the team’s new liaison with the think-tank GEMINI. As an introductory gift, Dr. Daniels provides the heroes with wrist-communicators that can also serve as external cell phones.
Following the departure of the various liaisons, Agent Michaels invited the heroes down to the waiting limousines to be taken to their new home. The heroes were taken to a lightly-industrialized section of Pacifico knows as Queensgate. There they were driven to a walled compound where Agent Michaels opened the gates using a retinal imager. The building inside the walls turned out to be a 2-story warehouse facility with ample open space on the main floor and ample living space on the second floor.
They were given the grand tour and were thoroughly underwhelmed by the quality of the accommodations that their new headquarters provides. Agent Michaels assured them that all new hero groups are provided similar facilities until they have proved themselves. The one silver lining was the shielded, stand-alone power generator in the facility’s basement.
Before leaving, Agent Michaels scanned the heroes’ retinal images into the base security system, and informed them that he would be sending the limos to pick them up in the morning for their introductory press conference. As a parting gesture, he encouraged the heroes to enjoy themselves for the evening and gave them Box Seats to the Pacifico Surge game that night.
The majority of the heroes (White Fist, Flower Power, the Messenger, Iron Wind, the Valkyrie, and Photon Wave) decided to take advantage of the offer and attended the game in civilian garb.
After the completion of the sixth inning, gunfire erupted from across the stadium. White Fist immediately flew across the arena using his telekinetic powers and spied a dozen gunmen wearing California Republic fatigues attacking an odd-looking goateed individual. 6 gunmen were in the lower section firing at close range while 2 groups of three gunmen were firing from the upper level. The target is obviously a metahuman as he was witnessed exhibiting both the Invulnerabilty power as well as some kind of mental blast.
While White Fist waded into the 6 attacking gunmen, Iron Wind grabbed the badly wounded target and ran him back across the stadium to the box where the Valkyrie could administer aid. Flower Power added the target to the telepathic switchboard that she had set up. As she did this, the target responded with amusement that she was ‘another telepath’.
The gunmen on the upper levels began moving in opposite directions around the stadium trying to get to the box. The Messenger and Photon Wave both moved to intercept one of the groups while Flower Power joined the fight across the stadium by creating a huge snake to participate in the battle.
Valkyrie was kept busy by the target – as soon as she finished administering first aid, he jumped up and ran out of the box. She followed him, expecting to provide protection, but as soon as he was out among the panicking throng, suddenly there appeared to be 5 of him! The five versions appeared to come together into one image and then burst apart – heading in 5 different directions. Valkyrie attempted to follow the one that she thought was the ‘real’ target, but she turned out to be wrong as the illusion faded away.
The battle was short and sweet – and in less than two minutes, seven of the gunmen lie unconscious at the feet of the various heroes. Five, unfortunately escaped in the chaos. Within minutes PPD and MEDUSA agents arrived to take charge of the captured gunmen. A quick telepathic probe by Flower Power revealed that the gunmen were an ‘Acquisition Team’ sent to kidnap the target for ‘reprogramming’. The target’s name was Daniel Higgins – a Psychologist.
Needless to say, the events at the game required an impromptu news conference that replaced the one scheduled for the following morning.
The next morning, the phone at their new headquarters was ringing off the hook with both minor ‘emergencies’ (“My cat is up a tree!”) as well as well-wishers from the community. The most prominent individual to leave a welcoming message was Dr. Lloyd Merryweather of the Paragon Society.
Later in the morning, an extremely expensive Jaguar pulled up to the gate. The visitor announced himself as Alvin Reichel of the law firm Reichel and Holmsen. The Messenger buzzed the attorney into the compound and met him in the lobby. The team is familiar with the firm as one that makes its substantial living defending supervillains. Reichel introduced himself and stated that he was requested by one of his clients to deliver a message to the team this morning. He handed over an embossed card and left.
The heroes read the message on the card: Oozy Rat in a Sanitary Zoo
The heroes spent a brief discussion debating about the purpose for the card. Certainly, given the delivery, the card was sent by a villain for some purpose – probably a challenge of some kind. Iron Wind was quick to note that the phrase is a palindrome, but that does not further their queries. The Messenger calls Agent Michaels to see if MEDUSA has any insight.
Agent Michaels informed the heroes that there is a known villain (whether a metahuman or not is unknown) called Palindrome who seems to find it amusing to challenge superheroes with seemingly random attacks. He warned the heroes that the receipt of a palindrome usually is followed quickly by an attack of some kind which follows the palindrome. It is vital for the public safety that the heroes correctly identify the target. He also warned the heroes that Palindrome wants the heroes to face the challenge – so be sure not to over-think the clue.
After another brief discussion, the team decided to first check out the Pacifico Zoo and then check out the San Francisco Zoo. They quickly fly over to the Pacifico Zoo where they are greeted by excited, screaming zoo patrons. Unfortunately, the patrons are not screaming in excitement because the city’s new superhero group arrived for photos and autographs… but because of the rampaging 75 foot tall rat (amply covered in ooze) attacking the complex!