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Thursday, 24 January 2019

The Brownings

The Brownings live in the small town of Grand Falls, Colorado, located on the shore of the Spirit Lake where the north inlet runs into the lake. They've been hunting monsters in the mountain range for generations...


Earl Snr., "Paw" Browning is The Expert. An older man with a lined face and wearing outdoor clothes. Not too charming, but sharper than most would expect from an old man. He's often right and always prepared.

His haven includes a lore library, an infirmary and is protected by wards.

  • He got Tess out of trouble with his sage advice. She'd used her powers unwisely back in high school and turned Rod Weston into a stalker, mirroring and intensifying her own crush. Poor boy is still trying to shake off the bad reputation that generated for him, even though it was so unlike him.
  • His dark secrets are being protected by Jnr. He went off on some wild hunting trip which decimated a local protected species - Jnr covered up the traces, but still isn't sure if there was some associated monstrous activity or whether Paw's imagination just got the better of him.
  • Jack acquired a singular item for Earl Snr. She stole the 'Brigham Clockwork' which generates a mystical ward from the house of Rex Harrison III, the mayor. 
> He lost Beth, his wife, in the house. Years ago when the kids were very young, shortly after Earl Jnr. was born. 

> Both he and Beth were monster hunters before, but he was only tangentially involved - the terrible tales he heard from his father never really stuck with him. The night before it happened he dreamt of the Man of Shadow. That night when he saw a stranger approach the house he tried to do a ritual to keep him out, but he didn't have the expertise or the preparation.

> His father told him some really crazy stories, that he really only started to believe after Beth died. He passed along tales he heard from locals, from the Ute tribe who named the lake, who said that those who hunt in the mountains become the hunted. 

****

Tess Browning is The Spooky. Earl Snr's daughter, and a few years older than her brother Earl Jnr. The woman has dark eyes and wears goth clothes. Makes up in weirdness what she lacks in toughness, She is telepathic, can hex and has the sight.

That power comes with some serious downsides though - secrets, mood swings and hallucinations hint at its unsavoury source.

  • Earl Snr. taught her how to control her powers, insofar as she's able to at all. After her love spell on Rod went too far, he reined her in.
  • She used her powers on Jnr., to warn him to run out the back door when the Sheriff came looking for him. She knew the questions he'd have to answer following Tommy's and Reggie's demise would be too much for him to deal with (and possibly land him in jail).
  • Jack saw her using her powers for her own selfish reasons - what happened with Rod wasn't quite as innocent as Tess says (or her father believes). 
> The night when Mom died was the most terrifying of her life. The whole house shook, and black smoky energy imploded to take her away. 

> She dreamt about it and tried to tell Mom & Dad. But they just tried to calm her down (obviously they didn't believe her). That's why she tried to push her powers so much later on, she now knows that she couldn't have helped.

> She moved away for a while, to Boulder. She came back because of the dreams, in which she saw a tornado of crows destroying everything. 

***

Earl Jnr., is The Wronged. In his late 20s, the veteran marine wears surplus gear (albeit in good condition) and has hurt eyes. Tough and charming, but not weird at all. He knows his prey (possessor spirits) and swears Never Again, and what doesn't kill him. His signature weapon is a hand cannon.

He lost Tommy (his boyfriend) and Reggie (his best friend) to a baleful spirit years ago; he was in denial and selfish.

  • Earl Snr. help Jnr. to recognize possession when it happens. He's not going to let something like that happen ever again.
  • Tess stood between him and what he needed to find out. She hid the fact that she knew there was something weird going on with Reggie when she was possessed. She saw Reggie enacting a magical ritual, but worried about Jnr.'s obsession and lied to him about seeing anything.
  • He saved Jack's life when the Dempseys were chasing her. Her wiles weren't enough, but his silver bullets had been.
> His best friend Reggie (Regina) got possessed by some mysterious spirit when they were just out of high school. She seduced and then murdered his boyfriend Tommy in a fire. At least she kept him from escaping. 

> After that he ran off to be a marine, and a complete badass. He did a couple of tours. One jarhead buddy called Samuel didn't quite come back right. 

> When he fled the fire where Tommy died, he saw Reggie's face change - that's when he knew. It was Pete's face, who worked in the garage (and was a rival for Tommy's affection) but who hasn't been seen since.

> He worked with a powerful local vampire, Velasco. A mob was moving in on the territory (especially with a view to taking the vampire's house and priceless paintings) and Earl Jnr. took care of them (and not in the Mary Poppins kind of way). 

**

Jacqueline "Jack" Diggs is The Crooked. A cousin to the Browning siblings, and a few years younger than them. The young woman has watchful eyes and wears street clothes. Not very weird at all (it's all new to her) but sharp as a tack. She's a burglar, but with friends on the force and has a firm home ground advantage here.

A police detective, Donahue, has made it a personal goal to put her away - he's just a good cop. Rex Harrison III, the mayor, is someone with special powers who she took advantage of. She discovered the real underworld while burgling the Dempsey house - they're werewolves and came after her.

  • Earl Snr. is her moral compass. Not sure how that's working out, with all the burglary though...
  • She used to hero-worship Tess when they were younger. They were (as far as their age difference allowed) close cousins. There was also a bit of sneaking around and spying on Jack's part. 
  • She saw Jnr. completely lose his cool one time in Randy's Diner. She didn't know what to make of it at the time (PTSD guess) as she didn't know anything about the supernatural. It took three guys to pull Jnr. off the 75 year-old Mrs Mavis Thompson. 
> Detective Donahue is a straight up-and-down, by the book good cop. He hates that she has friends in the Sheriff's office who turn a blind eye. With her contacts in the community, he's never able to pin anything on her.

> She's a 1st cousin through Earl Jnr & Tess' mom. Her mom was Beth's sister. That side of the family thinks Earl Snr. killed Beth and buried the body somewhere. A few years later, her own Mom killed her Dad in a domestic dispute (actually in self defence) and she was fostered.

> She was warned off going anywhere near the vampire Velasco. His big, richly appointed house would be prime for burglary. But he can't be all bad. He doesn't feed off or kill humans. A tall, almost emaciated white guy.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

The Shadow Controlling the Flame

Previous Session: Post-Mortem

Simon (Shadow the Beacon) doesn't think his interview inside AEGIS goes well. He sticks to the agreed story, but he realises that he's just dropped Agent Roux in it, she probably won’t be able (or willing) to help him after this.
Whatever source the Red Queen has inside AEGIS is still active and they’ve identified him as a threat. And, his next appointment with Dr. Keen will be very awkward. Maybe they’ll bring in Sidney for a group session?

Lynette picks him up from outside the AEGIS offices at dawn, they have time for a coffee and a non-Super related chat before she goes into work.

Gus, (Tag the Innocent) was on his way to Lucia's showdown with Barbarossa when he intercepted a shipment of HYPERION from Dr. Schneider to Catcher. That was way too tempting to pass up and he snaffled a cryogenic container with 12 doses of the powerful compound.

He's staying with Betty (with Lucia's mom about to stay in his usual spot on the couch).


Both Simon and Gus are still on for Lucia's project to create a vaccine against Project OBSIDIAN, even though she's still stuck inside AEGIS (helping them with their investigation). Simon will steal an ID during his cleaning circuit inside Halcyon Analytica; allowing Gus to speed in, climb into a hazmat suit and get a sample from the secretive laboratory deep in the heart of the building.

Simon knows who the best target is, Tom - who takes long coffee breaks and longer smoke breaks. Simon passes it along to Gus in the smoking area outside, Tom is oblivious when Simon clips the badge from his lanyard and Gus just walks through to the suiting-up area adjacent the lab. He reckons he'll save his speed from the way out.

Gus goes into the locker room, there are about a dozen lockers, each with their own bespoke suits, but there are also a handful in a common pool. There's a woman in the corner, trying to fix a problem with her suit, but he slinks into a suit and into the airlock without her noticing him.

The airlock cycles way too slowly for Gus' liking, but he subdues his nervousness until he can get inside. There's someone else at the far end of the lab, working at a spectrometer. Simon is cleaning the viewing room (which is used during visits or executive briefings) and between them they spot the Project OBSIDIAN sticker (a black diamond) on a large cryogenic unit in the corner.

Brad Armstrong
Head of Halcyon Analytica
Gus tries to open it, but the keypad is almost impossible to crack. He goes at it quickly and manages to get the right combination before the system can lock him out! The unit can't open quick enough for him though, and by the time he's ready to grab one the other person in the lab has noticed what they're up to and he starts walking over...

Too late, Gus recognises him as Brad Armstrong!

***

He runs! He passes Simon, back to cleaning the halls (he's going to act casual, but not too casual), on the way outside. Twenty seconds later the klaxons go off. Simon follows the fire-drill protocol, he's never heard the klaxon before and it didn't come up in the orientation briefings.

Gus gets to the main foyer, and there are a squad of heavy security people, loaded for bear (with long tasers and body armour) but he speeds up, running up the wall and then down to the revolving doors to escape. They're revolving way too quickly when he exits to allow anyone to follow, and he keeps running.

Simon follows the rest of the staff to the assembly area, though there are security guys checking everyone (until they get the all clear). Tom is there, still bereft of his ID. When Simon finishes his shift, he meets up with Gus.

He's having a crisis of conscience, and is sure that they're going to find him. But Simon tells him he was going way too fast for the CCTV - and he's not going to make the same mistakes as Catcher. He's not going to become that villain.


Simon calls Agent Jones back. He needs to get in contact with Viper, he needs to hear the full story, to discover if they know the truth of Lucia's powers. But Jones isn't playing ball. She seems sure of her direction in the investigation and doesn't even confirm if Viper works for AEGIS.

They call Dr. Schneider - they want to provoke him enough so that he'll meet with them. Even though they don't really know each other (and Gus just stole a shipment of his) they will need his help to product the vaccine against OBSIDIAN.

He's very cagey. In order to meet with them safely, he needs a sample of alien technology, and he needs to know who he's actually meeting with beforehand. He will meet with them then, and accepts their assurances of complete confidentiality.

**

More importantly. Now that Gus has the HYPERION, he knows it'll allow him to shift back in time. Like Catcher did to prevent him from saving his brother back in 1940. So he'll dose up and bring Simon back with him and do the job properly.

Simon is up on the literature (time travel) and cautions against interacting directly with Catcher or anyone else that they don't have to. They'll keep their heads down and do the job as required.

Gus dresses in the running suit he was in when he first arrived here from 1940, and Simon in his Shadow suit (which is in a 1930s style anyway, just in grey instead of something more colourful).

The dose of HYPERION is overwhelming, like nothing Gus has ever experienced. He feels like its going to shake him apart and he has to concentrate just to hold onto Simon as they zip back.

They appear in the centre of a baseball diamond. A small stadium in the middle of a leafy suburb. Fancy and apart from the pitcher's mound, unrecognisable from anything they've seen in Halcyon City.

As they head for the exit, a figure appears in the tunnel, blocking them. Dressed in a sharp (purple) suit, and full of quiet menace. He declares himself to be 'The Shadow' and that they're on his turf. He protect the city from strange supers like them. He pushes back his trench-coat, showing the grip of a gun (not a regular pistol, but more like a raygun).

Gus steps forward, and checks that The Shadow knows him, knows Tag. Because he was active in the city at this time. The Shadow does a double-take. Apologies for the inconvenience...

While he's there though, they need to ask him some questions about what's going on in the city at the moment. He tells them that there's a criminal gang trying to take over, there's a Super pulling their strings, who they call 'The Red Queen'. If they head down to City Hall, they find them - the 'Red Hats' they go by.
The raygun? He had to punch a alien's lights out in the desert to get it!

*

When they get down to the main square, they don't see much of interest. They still have some time to kill, so they scout around anyway. They spot two cops at the top of the steps, definitely not just cops - maybe something more. Simon heads over to keep them busy as Gus saves his brother, and he bumps into a woman, as she returns to the her table to retrieve her scarf.

The Red Queen
SuperVillain
Gus flashes forward, seeing/feeling himself be handcuffed by them, as his brother falls to his death right in front of him. He looks up and sees a couple of (red-hatted) thugs throw his brother off the rooftop.

Simon makes himself a nuisance in front of the cops, and they react the way he knew they would; by slamming into the wall and making sure he knows his place.

As Gus speeds up to catch his brother, he sees his past self speeding across town, and in the moment when he fixates on arriving just a moment after Catcher propels his past self in the future he see he woman (without the scarf) prepare herself to catch his brother.

A spurt of speed takes him there in time - he daren't trust her to save his brother. He doesn't know her. His trajectory slams into her as he catches his brother safely.

He ignores her baleful glare, and brings him back to the apartment. Telling him to leave home and never return.

Simon recognises her now. She's The Red Queen...

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Post-Mortem

Previous Session: All the Devils are Here

Simon (Shadow, the Beacon) and Betty (aka K-0S) drive fast to the location they are expecting to find Lucia. On the way, what happened to The Beast comes up. Betty is surprised that he didn't know, and he's panicking a little bit when he hears about how they fled the scene of the 'murder' without taking any precautions.

Betty looks at him, and then tries to explain how difficult it'll be to hack the hotel servers from here (the signal is pretty bad anyway), but she grits her teeth. She still has that backdoor she used to find out what room The Beast was staying in.


They park alongside a lonely farmhouse near the scene, Betty heads into the farmhouse to pick up their wifi, the porch lights are still on, showing the potted plants to be dead. They see Bruja kneeling in the desolation, evident even in the darkness. The strewn bodies and bikes of the RedCaps, drained of all life shock them both, and then the see the dessicated corpse of Barbarossa. Betty picks up his phone, it'll make more sense if she leaves his fingerprints on the deletions on the hotel server.

Bruja's accoutrements fade away, and it's just Lucia (Bruja, the Doomed) left a sobbing wreck on her knees. She appears to have aged a few years. Simon comforts her, telling her that none of this is her fault. She hushes a little, and calms down. But then she remembers Barbarossa's threat to her family and Julie. She needs to go back inside the psychic construct and interrogate Barbarossa, to find out how to stop the clock and save them.

***

Lucia appears as a terrible and beautiful queen. The psychic construct is a hot-baked mudflat, and Barbarossa is alone and naked, sitting in the middle of nowhere. She confronts his sorry form, but he's a wary and cunning opponent and counters with a proposal.
He'll dish the full story, every last speck of dirt on Armstrong, he knows the pain isn't real. As a sign of good faith, he offers to call one of the two targets (her family or Julie) now, before his release.

Barbarossa,
A captured SuperVillain
Lucia logs out for a moment to discuss with Simon. He suggests that she has to step up, and fight evil with evil: torture him for a thousand years and see if he's as confident then. In the construct she zooms the time setting out to 1 year = 18 minutes. Give him time to stew in his own self-doubt...

Betty reports back that there are a few dead people in the farmhouse, just in the same state as the RedCaps.

Lucia turns up the heat on Barbarossa, with ants and scorpions crawling out of the cracks in the mud and swarming him, invading every orifice they can find. Flames sweep down from the sky and burn him, and when that's finished him off, scorpions crawl back out of his navel, dragging his guts out with their claws.

After months of this, he finally screams for them to stop, that he'll tell her everything. He appears on a white pristine floor with what a normal person would call harsh lighting.
He laughs in despair, telling Lucia that only his voice will be valid for the order to stop the countdown. He'd prefer if it were simpler, but it's not.

Lucia logs back out to compare notes with the others. Can they 'let him out', he doesn't realise his body is dead. His voice transmitted from the psychic construct probably won't match, so Betty goes inside his phone to pull out the voice recognition encoding on it and construct a voice that should do the trick.

They start driving back to Halcyon City, Simon at the wheel.

She advises them as she's working that she would not let him out, or even try to fool him into thinking he's out. Give him nothing until he delivers. They have seven minutes left when Betty has everything set up.
They patch Barbarossa through his phone to a number, corresponding to his people who are watching Lucia's family. They breathe a sigh of relieve.

Barbarossa bargains for a show of good faith on their part before he makes the call to save Julie, but Lucia stays firm and he makes the call with a minute to spare.

**

Betty shows her cynical side by suggesting they verify everything's okay.

So Lucia phones her home back in Kentucky. It's very late, and it takes a very long minute for someone to pick up. She thinks how long it's been since she called them, wincing as she realises it's been nearly six months - she always has a very good excuse for not speaking to them. Jorgé, her dad picks up. But as soon as he says hello, she hears her mom storm down the stairs to get the phone off him. She can tell something's up with Lucia, with unerring mom-radar. Lucia tells her she has to go, and her mom says that she'll see her the late the day after tomorrow before they hang up.

Betty & Simon chat quietly as these awkward conversation go on. Mostly Betty is asking about his setup, and assuring him with easy confidence that he's a bad ass.
Betty
aka K-0S

Lucia is even more apprehensive about calling Julie, after the way they left it at the Gala. Maybe Simon can call to check that she's ok? She'll answer his call, right?

She does answer, and after asking if she's alright, Julie hears Lucia's voice and asks what she wants. Simon's all too happy to pass the phone over to Lucia.

Lucia's 'sorry' doesn't quite get the reaction Lucia was expecting/hoping for. Julie wonders exactly how she's sorry, what she's sorry for.
Lucia isn't really sure, but goes all in, saying she wants to be a better person like Julie. Simon tries to help her out, advising her to tone it down.

They can meet up tomorrow, maybe for lunch.
Lucia is a bit more down-to-earth, she's sorry for being an ass. And she's 'officially forgiven'.

Lucia tells them that her mom is probably jumping on the earliest Greyhound to get to Halcyon City tomorrow. Could Betty put Gus up? She thinks for about a second. Sure, although she admits she hasn't shown him her secret lair yet!

*

They're nearly at the city limits, when Simon reminds Lucia of the dead farming family. She gets them to stop the car, and she walks away. Back up the road for a distance. Betty gets out to talk to her, telling her that they've all done bad stuff. Lucia shoots back wondering what Betty would do if Lucia had just killed her family. That does shut her up. But Lucia walks back to the car with her in silence.

They talk about how to avoid the fallout of all this, and even take some credit for stopping Barbarossa. They did save the day by keeping OBSIDIAN out of the Red Queen's hands. They construct the alibi/story as much as they dare. Wondering how much they can trust AEGIS, they will deny any involvement in the Beast's death; change some details of the showdown with Barbarossa, that he pushed her and the reaction was necessary if surprisingly spectacular.

They drive to AEGIS, dropping Betty off on the street, still in her party outfit

Thursday, 20 September 2018

All the Devils are here!

Previous Session: Hell is Empty

Lucia (Bruja the Doomed) spots the Wyrm of Ages lurking; she doesn't recognise the SuperVillain, but knows she's up to no good. She is still concentrating on ruining Brad Armstrong's day, so she spies the IT professional taking care of the laptop/powerpoint for his big presentation, and reckons that the best way of clearing the place of all these 'innocent' people is to pull the fire alarm.

She realises that Julie is still upset with her, and tries to comfort her; telling her that she's her oldest friend and she's so glad she moved to Halcyon City and they can hang out again. Julie fumes. Does Lucia really think that she moved here for a job! Julie grabs her stuff and storms out.


Gus (Tag the Innocent) spots the Beast when he heads out to the toilet. The SuperHero is nursing a large whiskey at the main hotel bar. Gus sits down next to him, pretending to be a fan who just recognised him. The Beast plays it up, and scoffs when Gus raises the Wyrm's name. He can take her, and he will if they cross paths again!

He arrives back to the others and they swap notes. A lot of bad-ass Supers around!

Simon (Shadow the Beacon) points Lynette in the direction of the Wyrm of Ages - it might be good for her career to get a few photos of her (even if it's just on her smartphone) before things kick off!

They admit that Lucia was right all along, about Brad Armstrong and his danger to the entire city! She's not too insufferable in her self-congratulatory exultation...
She pushes her luck with Betty (K-0S, a friendly SuperVillain) asking her to help her out with Armstrong's laptop, but Betty isn't too keen on it (the odds of it seeing a payoff are pretty low in her mind) and rounds on Lucia. Suggesting in pointed tones, that she should worry about Julie. She's a fool if she doesn't know what's going on with her.

***

Barbarossa is leaving with Roux, his handler, and before he can get to the car, Javi (El Serpiente the Nova) distracts the valet, Gus retrieves the car with lightning speed for Simon to drive up outside. They talk for a while, directing him to take them back to the airport...

The Beast
SuperHero, nemesis of the Wyrm
Lucia burns with frustration, and walks out to the hotel bar. She spots The Beast - he's a handsome devil. Their rapport is pretty instantaneous and when she suggests that they go somewhere a little more private, he suggests his room upstairs and off to the lifts they head.

When the others come out, they want to make sure that they can arrange for The Beast's confrontation with The Wyrm of Ages will take place well outside the hotel. But he's gone. They ask the barman where he went, and he bro-tales them with The Beast's pickup and they recognize Lucia from the description (they give him a stern look when he describes Lucia as 'hot'). Lucia has no idea who he is!

In Room 515 above, we fade to black as Lucia and The Beast don't even make it to the bed.


Simon is driving Barbarossa and Estelle Roux to the airport, but the way Barbarossa is acting he knows that Barbarossa is going to kill Roux and then drive himself south to meet up with the Red Queen (which would also leave him shit-out-of-luck). He looks at Barbarossa in the mirror and calls him out - that he doesn't believe he's on the level and then he crashes the car into the side of the road to confront him directly.

Tag zooms to the scene to help Simon, but will he get there in time? It should be easy to find the wrecked car...

Barbarossa drags Simon out of the car and glances back at Roux, scrabbling away from him in the back seat - she'll keep til he's finished with this foolish boy. He's about to throw Simon into the traffic when Tag whizzes by to grab Roux and bring her to safety.

That momentary distraction is all it takes for Simon to gain an advantage, and fight back. They exchange a flurry of blows, but Barbarossa still has him in his grip.

Roux exclaims to Tag that his friend messed this up royally. That she had the situation under control. But it's obvious to Tag that she didn't.



Lucia brings out her teeth and claws to rake The Beast, it's very messy and he responds angrily, flinging her across the room and his own teeth and claws are like a tiger's. Javi charges upstairs, with Betty in tow to intervene.


Barbarossa tells Simon that he should look at AEGIS, some there is just as responsible for this as they are. He smashes Simon with a fist, bringing tremendous power to bear on him. Tag zooms in to push Barbarossa away from Simon, trapping the villain along with himself inside a swirling psychedelic vortex.

In the eye of the storm, Barbarossa tells Tag that he can be a part of this again. He can put in a good word with the Red Queen for Tag. She'll welcome him back into the fold!

After a moment's thought, Tag whisks him off down the road, well away from the scene and sets Barbarossa free! Warning him that he'd better keep his side of the deal.

**

Javi bursts through the door, whipping up a reality storm in his fury and the onslaught drives The Beast back. The SuperHero transforms back into his full human form and raises his hands in surrender. Like he's not a threat to anyone. Betty transforms into her K-0S form behind Javi, lighting up the hallway in harsh blue light.

K-0S
A SuperVillain
Lucia angrily turns on Javi, and demands that he leaves, that this is none of his business! Confused, Javi turns around, claiming that it's Gus' fault. Lucia snarks at K-0S too, who isn't impressed by her cutting remark. K-0S tases the Beast where he kneels and Lucia snaps, all the furniture in the room jars into the air and a bedside locker hits K-0S.

K-0S tases Lucia too, and then Lucia loses control of her powers. The vitality absorption that kept her unharmed when she was tussling with The Beast goes out of control and sucks every last ounce of life out of him where he lies immobile on the floor. His joints pop out and he starts to shrivel up.


Back at the car, Roux thanks Simon, but won't tell him exactly what she knows about any AEGIS involvement in this. Though he does learn that the delivery of OBSIDIAN has occurred already - Barbarossa has it. They need to hunt him down before he can return to the Red Queen.

Javi stands in horror at the scene in the hotel room. The Beast's dead body is a shock. K-0S' neon blue form flickers out and Betty falls to the floor beside the body, breaking down and crying.

Lucia tries to ignore it all, getting dressed in the corner and leaving. Javi helps stand Betty up, wondering what she's going to do. She's pretty fragile and doesn't know what to do now that The Beast is dead. Some brand of vengeance or justice against him is all she's cared about for a very long time. She'd like for Javi to stop talking to her like she's a villain, and she'd like to get drunk.


Gus heads back to the hotel, not the car. Simon has been phoning him non-stop since he got into the car with Roux. She's heading to the AEGIS offices, but will drop him back to the hotel as well.

Gus meets up with Javi and Betty at the bar, he's surprised at how shaken she looks and finds out about what's just happened upstairs. He tries to get Simon back on the phone, but Simon angrily refuses the call.

Simon arrives back at the hotel too, bumping into Lucia in the hall, who's trying to be inconspicuous. She's catching the tail-end of Armstrong's keynote/impromptu speech to the gathered great and good. Simon tells her that they need to catch Barbarossa quickly, they might be able to get him with evidence to sink Armstrong as well.

*

Simon bumps into Gus and is livid - or at least WTFing him about where he took Barbarossa! Gus tries to explain his thought process, though it's a bit confused. He's shocked that Barbarossa has OBSIDIAN, he never would've let him go if he knew that! He just reckoned it'd be useful to have someone who owed him inside the Red Queen's coterie.

They all discuss how they can chase down Barbarossa. If they can rely on AEGIS at all, or if he'll already have reached the Red Queen...Lucia is studiously avoiding making eye contact with Betty during this.

Bruja will open a portal to Barbarossa, Gus will speed that way as soon as Betty gives him a fix on her location and then the rest will catch up as best they can.

Bruja appears near the edge of a high bluff outside the city overlooking the river. Barbarossa stands
Barbarossa
The Red Queen's lieutenant
right in front of her holding a phone. As he regards her, she hears the low throb of motorcycle engines behind her. Seven bike with their RedCaps attached!

Threatened by their presence, she hesitates. Barbarossa grins, telling her she'd better back off or else her family back in Kentucky will never be heard of again, and even Julie will meet a sticky end.
She's shocked that he knows all these details about her life, but swings into action, trapping Barbarossa in a psychic construct she conjures up with surprising speed.

Barbarossa tamps down on the initial shock, he knows he can get out of this. He tells her that unless he gets back to his people about her friend and family, they'll be dead within the hour.

A RedCap steps up behind Bruja and a sawtooth chain is wrapped around her throat and she's ordered to release him. She feels a rising panic as she feels the teeth start to saw through her flesh...

Moment of Truth: 
The prickly tingling fear of her doom, always in her head—it holds her back most of the time. But right here, right now? It gives her the confidence to do anything. After all, what’s the worst that could happen? Is it worse than her doom? Do impossible things. Do anything.
Coursing through the chain and back into the RedCap behind her, her power extends into him and his life drains from him in an instant. The ground under him is already arid and dry but starts to crack. As he falls and she's released another one charges her with a wicked looking machete but he drops dead just as the swing moves towards her.

The others die too. One pulls an Uzi and looses the entire clip at her in dawning horror. The rounds decay in mid-air and he's dead too. One has gotten on his bike and gunned it into life. He roars off into the night, but Bruja pushes the power to catch up with him, ignoring the fact that the cone of death envelops a family farmhouse nearby as well.

Barbarossa gets it too. His body has shrunk into a dried husk; but his soul is intact and in her psychic construct.

Next Session: Post-Mortem

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Hell is Empty...

Previous Session: An Invitation, or as good as

Simon (Shadow the Beacon) & Javi (El Serpiente the Nova) exchange glances as they stalk the new arrivals who are here to meet with Brad Armstrong. Simon will stay incognito, while Javi will try to speak to the woman who's handling the man Excelsior warned them about.


Javi steps in front of her, provoking her with a drink under her nose, asking about her plans with Brad - yes he's that bold! The approach appears to work though, and after she introduces herself as Estelle Roux she admits that she has an appointment with Brad, and then (distractedly) confesses that he did evince some interest in meeting with Javi later on tonight.

Estelle Roux 
Notable consultant for
Halcyon Analytica
She sees her charge through a set of doors which lead to some suites and meeting rooms. Javi is sure that the man, Barbarossa, is a buyer for Project OBSIDIAN.

Brad sees Javi as the young man approaches a knot of sycophants clustered around the billionaire. Brad finishes the discussion (whether Javi was going to give him more than a few seconds, we'll never know) and clasps Javi by the shoulders. He's has his eye on Javi, real talent that needs a bit of moulding and mentorship - if he might be so bold.

Javi is taken in by the charm for a moment, he can see himself fulfilling this vision that Brad has of him. Until he reminds himself what the mission is here tonight. He gleans what he can from the discussion - the close personal attention of the most powerful man in Halcyon City! Brad is planning to take over the entire city, and he wants Javi to be the trailblazer in this new programme of his - all he has to do to take this relationship to the next level is join up...
Brad tells him to call him (handing him a business card with a direct line) and they'll bring him in.

***

Simon follows Barbarossa to the doors. He waves away a waiter from a trolley, and takes his place.
Brad Armstrong
CEO of Halcyon Analytica
and Lucia's Nemesis
Guess his tuxedo is plain enough for him to pass as one, and he wait for just the right moment before sneaking through the locked doors.

He scans the meeting rooms all along the corridor, before finding one with quiet voices inside. Simon sneaks into the next room, and stands up against the adjoining wall. Still not good enough to eavesdrop, so he takes out the gadget he took from the dangerous-looking woman hogging the champagne outside earlier.

He presses the button on the 'key-fob' and a sphere of phasing energy appears around him. It extends slightly into the carpeted floor, but more importantly, it goes right through the wall next to him and doesn't appear to be visible to anyone inside that room!

Barbarossa and Brad Armstrong are sitting on comfortable chair around a large coffee table. Estelle Roux is leaning against a sofa - she's not part of the discussion, but is obviously paying attention. Barbarossa is delivering OBSIDIAN to the Red Queen, for an undisclosed price, and it's happening soon.

Simon is shocked, even knowing everything he does about Brad Armstrong, that the deal is on the level. Still phased inside the Orb, he walks out the doorway. But sees Viper, the woman he stole the device from walking down the hallway looking at her smartphone intently. He has only a moment to decide and goes out the wall rather than retreat back into the meeting room...

**

Javi heads back to Anita, where he finds her talking animatedly with Lynette. Conversation turns to how dangerous things are for the team when they confront super-villains and Anita wishes that he could tone it down a little, but he pushes back on the idea - despite working in a green grocer he si a bit of a freak, transforming his hands into snakes to prove the point! Anita's still cool with that, or at least they're still cool with each other...

Simon steps through the wall, to find nothing under his feet. There's a steep cliff face plunging down into the river far below! He turns back as quickly as he can, releasing the device and grabbing onto the rocks for dear life. He narrowly avoids falling and he imagines he hears the fob tumble down the cliff-face and into the water.

He scoots over to a nearby balcony and catches his breath in relief.
Viper
SuperHero
Not bad, so much as badass

Viper is waiting for him, calm as you like. She holds out a hand, obviously expecting the key-fob to be handed over. Simon wimpers (he's pretty sure that she's a villain who's going to cut him up for breakfast).

She wants his name and he puffs himself up
-I'm Shadow. Unhand me!
She scowls, but she knows who he is and has his number. She waves him off and climbs up onto the balustrade and dives off into the river far below.

Simon can't resist checking out the dive - it's pretty impressive!

*

When he returns to the group at the main party, Lynette notices his suit is muddy so he tells her the story. Simon tells her he was worried about having a close encounter with a SuperVillain, but she knows about Viper. At the newspaper they use different colour tints for photos of heroes and villains (that's an editorial choice to help readers, obviously).

They get conversation back to more mundane matters, but when wondering how her apartment is doing, Simon lets slip that Javi (El Serpiente) was actually responsible for leveling the floor of her building, and not the RedCaps as the story went before...