“Come on, come on! Where are you?”
Cheetah paced back and forth on the roof of Italy’s National Museum of Antiquities, discreetly peering over the edge every now and then to see who was approaching the building. So far, no sign of Wonder Woman.
It wasn’t as if the plan wasn’t tailor made to call Wonder Woman out. It was no accident that Cheetah targeted this particular museum. As one of the world’s best collections of Greek and Roman antiquities, it definitely spoke to the Amazon Princess’ heritage and interests as an ambassador of her people. More than that, the piece she stole from the museum was known to be a powerful relic for sorcerous might, the kind of power that Circe would be very interested in. The relic now in her possession, all that was left was to wait for her target to arrive.
Cheetah knew that waiting was part of the plan, but she had expected her adversary to be more prompt than this. The Justice League was usually on her in moments after committing a crime. True, someone did come after her while she was in the midst of her heist, but not anyone she’d come to identify with the Justice League. The irony of her attacker’s identity, however, did make her smile. It’s not every day a robotic hamster comes after a human cat hybrid, after all. And she was pleasantly surprised to find that, after going for its eyes with her razor sharp claws, the robot was actually a mechanical suit and inside the suit was a real hamster! It took her a few tries to pry the suit open, but she was able to extract the small rodent, unconscious from the shock of his suit’s overloading systems in the wake of her attack.
She continued to pace, sparing a glance to the hamster gripped in her left hand. He was still unconscious, which suit her just fine. Maybe she could use him as a bargaining chip when Wonder Woman finally arrived.
Speaking of which, where was she?
A bright light down in front of the museum caught her attention, and Cheetah peered over the edge of the roof to see what it was. She smiled in satisfaction as she witnessed the Justice League’s teleportation beam in effect, but frowned as the effect faded to reveal the heroes. Not one of them was a hero she was familiar with. Wonder Woman wasn’t among them.
Her mind raced, trying to figure out a way to salvage the situation. She had counted on Wonder Woman’s presence, her familiarity with her past, to make this plan work. Without the Amazon, getting the help she needed to return to human form once and for all would be far more problematic.
But not impossible.
Granted, it might take her longer with new heroes than those she was familiar with, but Minerva had waited this long already. She would see just how noble these newcomers were, how willing they were to hear a villainess out and how far they would go to help one in need of aid.
She also wanted to see how knowledgeable they were about their fellow heroes, if they knew why her old adversary wasn’t rushing to stop her, and if they would share that knowledge with her. So, when the heroes finally discovered her location on the roof and met her atop the building, Cheetah asked the first and most obvious question on her mind to them.
“Where’s Wonder Woman?”
The second mission!
After starting off the Justice League Alternates chronicle with such a big action scene, I throttled back for this next adventure to engage in some heavy roleplay. After all, not every problem can be solved with violence, so I gave them a situation where a villain was coming to them for help. This made for a great character study in how the personalities involved approached their new role of superheroics, and which of them would be more inclined to provide a repentant villain the benefit of the doubt. For the record, they decided to help Cheetah, and went so far as to give her space in the Justice League’s terrestrial base of operations, the Metro Tower, so she could conduct her research and find a cure for her feline condition. Shockingly, they were NOT willing to use the relic to summon up Circe just to help Cheetah out. Apparently, one Wonder Woman villain is enough for them.
A note about what happened to Hyper Hamster: It goes without saying that villains sometimes get the drop on heroes, and not everything goes their way. Even Batman gets his utility belt taken from him sometimes. Bad things happen to heroes, then they bounce back to save the day. In this case, I had Cheetah get the drop on Hyper Hamster so he could act as bait and a hostage for negotiations. In story terms, Cheetah got lucky and found a chink in HH’s armor that allowed her to pull the little hamster out of the suit that he uses to fight crime, rendering him as helpless as Superman in a red sun tanning booth. In game terms, I gave Jeff compensation for letting me prey on his character’s weakness by giving him the experience points he had missed out on when he couldn’t make it to a previous game session, putting him back on par with everyone else. This is a good way to make sure your players stay happy while still utilizing their vulnerabilities to make a compelling game session. There should always be something to balance the scales so the player doesn’t feel cheated or betrayed just for the sake of a good story.
Two missions in, and the Alternates are starting to find their footing as a superhero team! Check in next week as they take on a massive gang war! Also, I’ll be fielding any questions about my series in the Comic Booked Forums, so stop on by and I’ll get into the nuts and bolts of the game!