Somewhere in New York City Clouds fill the sky on another dreary day, a smoke fills the air as a man leans against a building, watching a street performer strum an electric guitar, the musician performing some half decent cover of an old Rolling Stones song, a friend next to him banging on a set of bongos as he sings. The cigarette smoking man coughs as he removes it from his mouth, his cough disturbing a group of pigeons perched just above him. Around him people move back and forth, cars going by slowly on the nearby street as the man watches the guitarist gets more aggressive with his playing, the singer's foot tapping to the rhythm. As the smoking man places the cigarette back into his mouth a beep is heard from within his large winter jacket, he rolls his eyes and reaches a hand into one of the pockets. From within the pocket he pulls out a cell phone, the screen lit up indicating a message. Get over here right away. The new blood is being drawn. The man doesn't reply to the message, he simply glances at it for another second before dropping the cigarette from his mouth, then stomping it into ash with his boot. Finally he adjusted his baseball cap with both hands, then began to walk away before pausing in his step, dropping a crisp five dollar bill in the guitar case. The green piece of paper floating down accompanied by the cold winter breeze. As soon as it hit he was gone into the crowd, off to wherever he was summoned. Elsewhere, at the Guardians' Syndicate HQ "Any new information on that Jack bastard?" The superhero Phoenix asked, he was seated inside the conference room, the man speaking into a communicator. "No, we've been in contact with the police department ever since that lunatic emerged into the public eye. They've been running matches for anyone in their criminal database but they've found nothing. It's like we're chasing a ghost, everytime we get word of him appearing he is gone in a flash." Penumbra said back, he was seated in the Hall, near the entrance, typing into a laptop as he communicated with Phoenix through the in ear communicator. "Well, it is quite hard to get face matches when he's wearing a mask." Phoenix said jokingly, Penumbra not laughing at the joke. He didn't reply right away because the superheroine known as Fortuna approached him, a small group of new Syndicate recruits behind her. "Giving the grand tour, Alice?" Penumbra asked, a friendly expression on his face as he looked over the new members. "That I am, where's the other one?" "Conference room." "I'm right in here Alice, I'll speak to the rookies if you herd them in my direction." Phoenix said, the communicator in Fortuna's ear receiving the message. "I guess they'll get to meet the great Penumbra first," She said with a smile towards the seated Penumbra before turning towards the group. "May I introduce Penumbra, one of our most senior members." "Nice to meet you all." He replied, mustering a smile at the group. "Now, if you all want me to, then I'll give you guys a quick tour." Fortuna said as she walked off, Penumbra focusing back on his laptop. Isabella De Santa You have been booked a room at the prestigious Cosmos Resort, a place in the nicer part of the city, right by the river. The resort serves as a retreat and hotel for only the wealthiest people. Shortly after your 'invitation' to the Collective arrived, a second note arrived, this one instructing you to go to the resort where a room was already booked for you under a pseudonym 'Lucy Winter'. Once you arrived in your hotel room you find a letter waiting for you in your resort mailbox. Once you open it you find your next step to joining the Collective, a cleverly written letter with some darkly hidden intentions: Greetings, Ms. Winter. I hope you are enjoying the sights of the resort, while you are there you absolutely have to meet. Mr. Jonny Aiello, the last surviving member of the famous Aiello family. In order to find his room you must head down the hallway to your right as you exit your room, from there you head up the stairs. It is the fourth room on the right in a long hallway you find yourself in following the staircase. He is not expecting you, but I'm sure he will be pleased to meet you. He may have the company of several friends, though Mr. Aiello is the one you must make sure to meet. I must apologize that I cannot be there myself, but please, send my regards, and please, do take care of him, he is an old associate. - J. Cat You awaken to find yourself in a large cage, one large enough to fit a lion or tiger. The cage is located in what appears to be a sparsely filled basement of some old building. Directly in front of you is a door which leads to stairs. In the room are some stacked chairs, a desk, taped shut boxes and an old television. Junk by any other words. Despite being in this cage, you have all of your typical possessions and clothing. Sitting just in front of the cage is a folded piece of paper with the letter 'C' written on the outside of it. You open the note and read the contents, revealing your initiation into the Collective. Sorry for placing you in such a difficult position, but I have the up most confidence that you will be able to break out of this cage, it is a very old lock after all. Once you get yourself out the cage you are to then find your way out of the building you are currently in the basement of. It is a Victorian style house, inside are several men who do not know of your presence, nor will appreciate it if they find you. It does not matter what happens to these men, just that they do not cause a disturbance that would in turn cause the local authroities to investigate.- J. Bones You find yourself seated in a dimly lit small room, yourself one of three people seated around a wooden round table. The other two men look frightened as the door comes open in the room, a masked man entering, a ski mask hiding his face, a revolver in his hand. The man loads one single round into the revolver, spins it, then hands it to the first man. "Russian roulette. Boss wants to see how lucky you guys are." The masked man states to the group, his eyes narrowing on Bones as the man now holding the revolver places the barrel to his head, closes his eyes, likely prays and squeezes the trigger. The gun clicks but does not fire, indicating he survives this time. He looks at the masked man who gives him another look as the revolver is placed down on the table. The masked man slides it to Bones before speaking. "Your turn." He states, crossing his arms, a camera can be seen just behind him in the upper corner of the room. Damien Rhodes "The word is that the Collective is pissed at the boss, we might wanna get out while we can still walk." "Is that why he brought in those powered weirdos? Does he think that'll make the Collective freaks think twice about killing us all if some of their own kind are working for us?" "That shit won't work, man, you and I both know that. Haven't you heard stories about that Jack psychopath? The guy cut off all of the limbs of one man who betrayed him, then hid each of the limbs in a different borough in the city. I don't want that happening to me." The gangster said to his fellow gang member, both of them smoking cigarettes, a handgun tucked into each of their waistbands. Both men were members of the Irish mobster group, 'The Butchers', lead by twin bothers Mike and Sam Flanagan. The gang was small in size, but did enough to get themselves noticed and then aligned with the Collective. "What did Sam even do? Did he snitch or something?" "Hell if I know man." Both men walk away, still in conversation, but as they move you cease to hear what they're talking about. You have aligned with the Butchers, you're one of three superhuman mercenaries they hired, so far you've seen no action, but received a nice enough frontal payment of cash with promise of more that you can't complain, still the whole situation is strange. You are standing inside of a gated off area in the harbor of NYC, this part in particular serving as a port for goods shipped in and out of the city. The Butchers heavily involved with illegally trading weapons and drugs this way. "You hear what they're talking about, man?" Someone says to you, a man approaching you, large, dressed in jeans, combat boots and a leather jacket, his hair cut into a mohawk and both ears pierced. He is one of the other superhuman mercenaries, his power enhanced speed, allowing him to sprint up to 100 miles per hour. His name is Mason. "They're saying the Collective might be coming for us, you hear about those guys? They're not so tough man, I could take them with your help of course." Mason said, smiling nervously at you.