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Thursday, 9 August 2018

Believers

Previous Session: Bad to the Bone 
Gus (Tag the Innocent) gets in contact with K-0S (Betty) and despite her paranoia she doesn’t seem to have any trouble letting him into her setup. Neither does she regard his era-blind strangeness as a notable thing.
Gus is invited to a meeting inside AEGIS to discuss his future and options, and perhaps the ramifications of there being two of him (Tag/Catcher)...the Trojan Horse virus that he brought in for K-0S goes to work from his coat pocket alongside a networked PC as he sits in a meeting room. It gets a whole raft of relevant data but that takes time...

He sweats buckets but they think it’s about something else
The supervillain involved 'The Wyrm of Ages' agrees to a meeting with them. She’d be on for some cooperation with you to take down her nemesis from the confrontation, The Beast...
He develops a close working (or maybe more?) relationship with K-0S and have a safe and secure way to contact her in an emergency in the future
Also, he sees the footage of the fight, including Catcher (still obviously trying to be a good guy) fighting against The Beast. It's not enough to save Betty's family but it is an eye-opener for him.
~
Lucia (Bruja the Doomed) works with Anita to trace K-0S. Using her access to Halcyon Analytica to run a scan of unusual activity on AEGIS-related servers, she's able to get a read on what the villainous hacker is up to!
However, things don't go smooth on the way out; K-0S is alerted to your activity and while you find out what she’s up to, she’s in the wind.
Security at Halcyon Analytica is pretty tight. Lucia's sure they’ve put a trace on her and brought this little incursion to the attention of Brad Armstrong
An electronic tripwire within AEGIS alerts the The Beast to her interest…
Lucia ensures that Anita’s place in Halcyon Analytica isn't threatened, clearing up the mess in her log-files and traces so they can't be picked up by Internal Audit…

Gus, Lucia & Simon all meet up at Hank's Arcade. They debate telling AEGIS about their (not too) close encounter with the Red Queen; but they decide against it. AEGIS are well aware of the threat anyway, so she should be able to take care of it.

Simon (Shadow the Beacon) shows them the 'microfiche' sheet he took from Halycon Analytica. Lucia sets up a psychic construct (which kinda blends in a little with a few of Hank's VR rigs) for them to read it.

Project OBSIDIAN is pretty worrying stuff. Even though they only have some of the most technical information on the sheet, and none of the operational or strategic planning.
It's a dual element bio-agent. The first bonds itself to whatever gives the super their powers, and is dormant until it's not given the second element after a year, whereupon is deactivates the superpowers and leaves the subject entirely mundane.

They are animated in their discussion of what Halcyon Analytica intends this for? For them to control supers, or for AEGIS to? Or for some other, darker purpose...Regardless, the others are onside when it comes to believing that Brad Armstrong is up to no good...

***

Agent Jones and Anaconda from AEGIS arrive at the arcade, politely 'knocking' on their VR setup to get their attention. They're here to put some pressure on Lucia regarding her breaking into AEGIS systems during her hunt for K-0S.

Anaconda relaxes against the nearby bar and gets a beer from Hank, but Agent Jones is on point. She contends that Lucia is really not good enough to get away with this. She pushes back but doesn't quite convince them. Jones also nods back to Anaconda as if to reinforce her point. He's dangerous, but he's inside AEGIS.

As this conversation is going on, Shadow has slipped the OBSIDIAN sheet back into its manilla folder to get it out of view, and that doesn't attract their suspicions. Lucia spills the details of her
Agent Jones
AEGIS
operation (but nothing about Anita).

Gus reads the table, and how to stay out of the trouble it promises. To get this over quickly he can convince Lucia to give them everything; or just ride it out and have K-0S destroy all evidence of their own incursion...

Lucia wriggles, offering to give them all her data, and show them how she infiltrated their systems and maybe even help them fix the holes and track down K-0S. But Jones shakes her head at the implication that she could be a team-mate (Anaconda gets jealous). When she hears Lucia's mini-rant against Brad Armstrong, it's like her confirmation that Lucia was 'one of those' is confirmed.

Agent Jones has Lucia under the spotlight now, and through a series of probing questions. She determines that she really is trying to destroy Brad Armstrong, stop Halcyon Analytica and save the world. She'll give her everything she has on Halcyon Analytica if Jones says she believes her. And she really just wants Jones to believe her.

Jones is satisfied with that, they'll arrange a follow up (handing over her card) to go through the fine details of the hack. But as they turn to leave, Jones mentions the motorbike outside. Shadow gulps with regret. They grab that and the matching hat, remarking that it might be an idea to bring that sort of thing to AEGIS' attention and into their possession asap next time.
-You're welcome for those two we left for you to pick up!
snaps Shadow as they head outside, but they're oblivious...

**

Lucia heads to the toilets to recover her poise and deal with this resurgent imposter syndrome.
Gus also heads to the toilets, but he zips out the back to arrange for a meetup with K-0S.

They talk some more when they're all back at the table, they wonder if the Red Queen is infiltrating Halcyon Analytica to take Project OBSIDIAN and use it herself in her efforts to take control of the city!
Lucia is too down on herself to take much notice of this particular threat. She tells them she's not able to take on K-0S and Gus jumps on this, telling her that she already has too many things on her plate. Shadow encourages her and she's a little less insecure.

Shadow gets a text message from Lynette, to thank him for saving her last night (and to wonder if he's free for a face-to-face thank you, maybe over a coffee? He gets back to her straight-away (otherwise he might be Simon when he gets around to it) to suggest that they meet at Hank's - the front of the arcade has been turned into a cafe to take advantage of the new space they have thanks to the seized VR machines.

Simon heads into work to check on those VR machines now - the ones they caught BlackJack messing with should be in Halcyon Analytica. He finds himself on the detail for that wing of the building easily enough and after some circling finds the four machines. Three of them are sequestered, with security devices in their ports, but the fourth has a drive attached that's downloading all the data onto it. It's outside the CCTV zone, but Simon knows that he won't get out of the building with it. He gets the model details and calls Lucia from the toilets nearby.


Meanwhile Gus is meeting K-0S (definitely as Betty) in a retro piano bar. She's a lot more casual than her usual self, although she's a little bit late (her paranoia doesn't quite turn off completely it seems).
Gus is drinking a soda, but he orders her a Corona. He gives her the run-down on Jones' investigation and results of the agent's leaning on Lucia.

Betty
aka K-0S, Supervillain
She wonders why Lucia/Bruja has such a desire to bring her down; Gus observes that the rivalry only goes one way. But she did thwart her attempts a couple of times and that has obviously gotten to Lucia.

In other news, The Wyrm of Ages wants to meet them tomorrow, near the docks. It would seem that villains usually want to meet way out in public, where they can spot any traps - not in somewhere like Hank's Arcade. Anyway, the Wyrm is all too happy to cooperate with them to finally get her revenge on her nemesis, The Beast.

Bruja has picked up the same model of Halcyon Analytica external drive from her local Radio Shack (although it pains her to get it ready for use by plugging it into one of her laptops - I mean who even needs to use one of these wizards for setup!)  She opens a portal directly into the cubicle where Simon is waiting for her and he heads back to the repair lab to swap it out with the data-laden version.

While Bruja is (im)patiently waiting in the cubicle for his return, she hears someone enter whistling a tune (The Girl from Ipanema, which she knows from Anita is the favourite whistling tune of Jeff) Jeff is a total douche-bag who she works with, and Bruja's anger flares up and she uses her telekinesis to whip his feet from under him. He falls to the tiled floor with a crack and Simon walks in.

He's shocked and kneels over the man to check if he's ok. He's concussed, but still alive. Simon berates Bruja but hands the data-laden drive to her and after she zips out via portal he calls security for medical attention.

*

Bruja appears in a toilet cubicle in a retro piano bar downtown. Unbeknownst to her, Betty is in a nearby cubicle and Gus notices the purple light erupt from around the door into the Ladies'. He's surprised to say the least when she appears instead of Betty.

Bruja arrives at the table just before the new order (2 bottles of Corona) Betty ordered on the way to the toilets. She wonders if the other beer is Javi's? Gus covers his confusion but switching subject to wonder if she should get to analyse the data from the drive asap, who knows what danger lurks within!

Bruja nods earnestly and tells him to say 'hi' to Javi and she drives out to her Sanctuary to continue her investigation.

Betty comes out, wondering what the hell is going on. But it seems like her paranoia is getting the better of her and Gus doesn't see confidant enough to talk her down. She leaves, troubled, and without a goodnight kiss or any promise of a future date.


Lucia has made inroads on the invasive programme that the Red Queen loaded onto the VR machine. It stays on the device, even after a full reformat or wipe. Then after it's connected to the mainframe servers it activates fully to give control over certain vital subsystems. So, if the Halcyon Analytica tech haven't been cautious there could be three versions of this live on the system.

Simon plays it safe, and sticks around for the duration of his shift without poking his nose into anything. He scouts out the vaccine laboratory though, he looks for a way to steal an ID which'll get him inside and into a full lab-suit. It's much more secure, and doesn't get services by the regular cleaning crew.

Back in the busy cafe the next afternoon, Simon considers Gus. They talk about Lucia messing things up, and sensing Gus' discomfort, they manoeuvre Lucia away from the table (to give the order at the bar). He admits that he's in a bit of a situation; he was on a date last night and Lucia teleported in...
Gus is uncomfortable under Simon's steady gaze, and admits what he is really planning. he's trying to hunt down with Catcher, but he doesn't know him well enough to know what to do.

The video footage he saw of him trying to save Betty's family and confront The Beast show that he isn't (or wasn't) a full villain. Maybe if he knows about those turning points in his life he can change his future; know what to avoid or embrace.
Can he turn out different? Or has he accepted his fate?

He admits, to Simon's surprise, that he's arranged to meet up with this Wyrm of Ages.


Lucia bounds back to the table, wondering how Javi was last night; but then the penny drops and realises that she interrupted Gus' date. She explains that she needed a portal to get out of Halcyon Analytica and he was the first person she thought of to zip to.

She gets back to business, burying the regret and jealousy. Who could help her figure out the Red Queen's code? There's a suggestion that K-0S is good enough, unless Lucia seriously lifts her game.
Perhaps she could use her Sanctuary's resources to concoct an antidote to OBSIDIAN, steal a march on whatever evil Brad Armstrong is scheming at.

Gus considers Lucia - is her animosity towards K-0S stronger than her desire to solve the problem? He reckons she could cooperate with K-0S on this, worrying only about a quid pro quo that they'll get from a SuperVillain...

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Bad to the Bone!

Previous Session: It's Complicated

Simon (Shadow the Beacon) settles into his job with the janitorial company serving Halcyon Analytica. When his shift is on, there are still late workers in the office, trying to hit their project deadlines. They all strike him as confidant and smart, but with high ambitions, not just for themselves but for their company too. He hears hushed tones of a new project 'OBSIDIAN' which is nearing completion and even that the go-live date has been brought forward.

Back at the apartment, Javi (El Serpiente the Nova) and Anita catch up. Things are fine, but she's up to something else without him. He doesn't think it's work, and there doesn't seem to be much else up with her life at the moment. He confronts her about it and she denies anything is going on. But when he pushes a little, she storms out
-I wasn't the one caught...up a tree with someone else!


As Simon is finishing up his shift he spots a shredding box that's been left unlocked and when he pokes inside he sees that the bag hasn't been fully emptied. He grabs everything and puts it in his own cart. He'll take a peek later on in a quiet spot. He knows he won't get out of the building with anything significant. There are swipe cards linked to biometric scanners everywhere.

On the way downstairs he passes Brad Armstrong himself, walking and talking with two external consultants. They sound European, but Simon doesn't stick around to listen in - he won't take the risk. The woman is about fifty, and the younger man barely 30 and looks vaguely middle eastern.

***

El Serpiente has gone outside to clear his head. He's leaping across rooftops, using his elastic snake arms to great effect. On one particular building, he's walking across the retaining wall when he sees a motorbike parked on it, and a red cap wearing tough-guy sitting astride it.

Simon searches the unshredded pages quickly downstairs, and finds what looks like a large microfiche / black overhead transparency in the middle of an otherwise unread printed report. He nabs it and dumps the rest into a recycling bin.

El Serpiente snakes out an attack at the biker's face, but he ducks underneath it and guns the bike into life, hurtling straight at our hero. He goes for the ultra manoeuvre and whips the bike out from under his opponent, throwing it across the rooftop. The biker had already been climbing up on top of the bike and slammed into El Serpiente's face with a flying elbow. The surge of power is beyond his ability to control and the blast smashes the rooftop into smithereens, small boulders cascading down into the apartments in the top floor.

Lynette
Hapless Bystander
El Serpiente slides back along the retaining wall, until his head is in air above the seven floor drop. The RedCap is still there, floating in air where the building used to be. He looks down into the apartment below and grabs (not so much grabs as uses telekinesis) a young woman from the wreckage. With pure cruelty on his face, he makes to fling her from the building and down to the street below...

Shadow is there. With BlackJack's ray-gun pointed straight at him and he sends a petrifying blast at them. The RedCap falls to the floor and Shadow has to leap into action to save the hapless (now that she's petrified) woman. He leaves her gently down to the floor inside her apartment and tucks a business card into the pocket of her jacket.

**
They hear more motorbike engines incoming, and spot two bikes roaring across the rooftops towards them. One looks like it is riding along the structures, but the other is making no pretense and is just flying!

Shadow grabs the RedCap off his defeated opponent and places it on his head, replacing his own fedora. He gets an instant connection with the motorbike 'Lilian' and it instantly rights itself and flies over to his side.

El Serpiente coils up and flings himself at one of the incoming RedCaps, but he's booted away and then dragged behind him for a while before being flung against the wall. The RedCap regards him with pity
-You're not cool enough for this crew kid

A faint buzzing is heard and an alien bubble craft appears above, it's Xerox! She's back!

-----

Xerox the Outsider is an alien being.
Xerox
She's from an energy alien collective who share their emotional experiences. They build bio-organic
suits to interact with the physical world, in order to gain experience as individuals.
Her collective wants her to return home to share her own experiences, to add to their pool of wisdom.
She loves the team because they're all glorious, unique individuals!

When they worked together first as a team against Catcher, she saw that they were all disjointed and had no synergy. She used her telepathic powers to connect and coordinate the team - that's how they came to trust each other.

She's been learning about the Earth by spending time with Javi / El Serpiente.
She has a crush on Lucia / Bruja, but keeps it under wraps.

-----

Xerox drains a lot of lifeforce out of the other RedCap and he collapses, crashing the motorbike into the building. When she turns her attention to the one who's riding straight towards Shadow, he raises up a wall of rubble against her forcing her craft to gain altitude to draw a bead on him again.

Shadow zaps him though, and takes the cap right off his head as he drives by. The motorbike wobbles but keeps going, swooping down to the road level and roaring off into the distance.

They've won this fight, but they hear other similar motorbike sounds in the distance and then they see the fast reaction team from AEGIS springing into action. They make themselves scarce, no sense in attracting attention from them as well.

*

Shadow puts on the new cap, and makes a strong connection to the owner and beyond. But is hit hard by something and passes out with a strong smell of brimstone in his brain.

The Red Queen
Golden Age Super Villain
Xerox tries it, she can turn most human technology to her will with her alien abilities. She infuses it with her energy, ignoring the pain, and identifying the the bike 'Lucille' is still being controlled by her rider. That's why Shadow got hit.

She follows him back to his destination, outside the city. He and another six riders are gathered
before their commander, the Red Queen. She's angry with their failure, and the capture of some of their brothers.

And then she notices Xerox, who tries to bat her attention away. But the Red Queen's power is great and she overwhelms Xerox's defences, leaving her insecure and afraid.

They're back at Hank's arcade and Shadow has some luck in comforting Xerox, she's so brave. But now shes' a little afraid of humans, even her team-mates.

Next Session: Believers

Thursday, 12 July 2018

It's Complicated


Later that night (well really early the next morning to be fair) Javi (El Serpiente the Nova) picks up Anita from work. He's borrowed Igancio's pick-up from the store and has flowers for her. Despite being dead on her feet, Anita's really touched and they head over to a favourite diner to grab breakfast.

The buses passes are plastered with Armstrong for Governor art. Halcyon Analytica and Armstrong have invested a lot in the city's public transportation network.

They grab a booth and Anita is pretty much falling asleep, but they are definitely smoothing over the previous night's awkwardness and having a moment when a flash of dark purple light erupts from the kitchens. The swirling vortex spits something out of the ceiling...

Bruja (the Doomed, aka Lucia) ambles through, ignoring the astonished fright of the kitchen staff. She needs Anita's help with taking on Armstrong, and finding out where K-0S has disappeared to. She wants to make sure that she gets a proper night's sleep and is ready to take on that difficult (dangerous) task. Trying to convince Javi to allow her to bring Anita home thought isn't quite so straight-forward. And they pretty much wave her back outside while finishing their breakfast. Anita and Javi laugh at how weird and strange that was; she must've been up to something else and just spotted them here, she can't have used the portal to follow them here...right?


Simon (Shadow the Beacon) plays for time at home. Eking every minute out before Sydney, his sister, loses patience and drives him to AEGIS for his appointment with Dr. Keen. She's not working until late, but still she has her limits.

Dr. Keen
Psychologist at AEGIS
She pretty much marches him inside and through the security gate. They spot Anaconda, hanging out with a few people, looking very cool (and more laid back and he'd be horizontal). A young man called Chris meets him and escorts him to the doctor's office. Simon's offered a coffee while he sits in the nice waiting area and about ten minutes later a tall stern-looking man appears. He brings Simon
into his office; it's quite large and overlooking the river and the fact that they're still on the ground floor but appear to be several stories up from the river below shows just how large and sprawling the AEGIS building is.

Simon is a withdrawn participant, not easily drawn in by Keen's questions. He sees himself as a lame superhero, without any powers worth the name. He doesn't engage with Keen's techniques until it's made clear to him that until AEGIS is satisfied (on Keen's recommendation) that he's not a danger the sessions will continue. And if he's considered a danger? A different recommendation will go to a particular group elsewhere in the building.


Beatrice Bonetti
Intrepid Reporter with Channel 39
As Gus (Tag the Innocent) goes on his morning delivery route, he's met by a young trendy looking woman. Tag's not used to being intercepted at all, so he stops (he's not going to be late with his run or anything, given his super speed, so why be rude?).

She wants an interview, mostly about him (she knows he's called 'Tag'), his role in that showdown on the lake against this ultra-speedster villain, and about his fellow team-mates. She squeezes some answers out of him, including Catcher's name and he promises to give her a proper interview and put her in contact with the rest of the team!

**

To blow off steam, Simon sneaks into a nearby mansion - poking through people's stuff and playing their video games helps him relax and forget the ordeal of being Simon for an extended period of time.

Lucia also does a bit of sneaking; stalking Anita & Javi to make sure he leaves and then breaking in to steal her ID card from work. She has a plan...

Later on, the team are discussing their suspicions of the Red Queen's plot with/at Halcyon Analytica and Javi spots Anita's ID on the table. He loses his shit with her, he doesn't know exactly what it means, but this kind of stalking can't be tolerated!

Javi surges to his feet and grabs her, to throw her across the room. But he mistimes his effort and Lucia grabs him into a hug instead. Standing too close together and in this hug, Javi just kisses her - it seems hard and passionate but she has no idea where this is coming from!


Anita,
Server Engineer
at Halcyon Analytica
Lucia breaks away, confused and befuddled. She erupts into a stream-of-consciousness confession; she's sorry for everything! And then she escapes to the toilets.

Gus comforts and empathizes with Javi, wondering why he did it. Javi unburdens himself a little but Anita walks in on the revelation and is speechless until Lucia comes back out. She turns tail and walks out to the street and away. Javi thinks she'll get over it and he can catch up with her later, but Lucia chases after her.

Lucia rushes to figure out a good way of convincing Anita that...she should come back and help her. She considers opening a psychic connection with Simon to get his advice (though he's on team Javi!) or maybe moving them into a construct would help  (though that's not exactly the best honest approach to keeping someone onside).


Back inside, Simon and Javi open up. Maybe that wasn't the best course of action to take. He just got carried away. He doesn't know if he really fancies her...

Lucia jumps in front of Anita. It's not easy, but she think she talks her around. Lucia didn't mean for it to happen and Javi kissed her first. She wants to trust Lucia, they've been friends for longer than Javi's been around. If she can get Javi to admit that he kissed her, and if he reads her in about all her theories on Halcyon Analytica and if she can convince her that Brad Armstrong is a villain; then they'll be OK.

*

They head around the corner to O'Leary's for a drink. Unwind a little bit of the tension maybe.
Lucia brings Anita inside a psychic construct, where she shows her the souls shards of the defeated players from Halcyon Analytica's VR arrays.
Inside the construct they learn something about one another:
-that Anita objects to the VR project, she's uneasy about it
-that Lucia really cares about Anita and wants to protect her

They call Gus and Simon to come join them (Javi has had to go to work) and they have fun for a while. When Lucia heads to the bar to get another round, Anita siddles up to Gus to suggest that he asks Lucia out some time. She has a feeling it'd be well-received!

Wa®
Bronze-Age SuperHero
Up stalks a woman. In a sharp suit and with a platinum bob. It's Wa® a bronze-age super in the same legacy as PestilenZ. She wants to know how he died. She knows they were involved in the incident at the docks.

They're uncomfortable, she's his mother and they didn't really know her at all. But she has a scary and forceful persona (unlike the aspect she reveals when asking about her son's death).

Gus tells her the story; that Halcyon Analytica planned with Catcher to trap Tag; Lucia was with PestilenZ having coffee and when they sprang into action he went to investigate the containment device aboard the ship. Wondering what she'll do with the information, she tells them that she'll catch him and step on his throat till he's dead. They can come along for the ride, but she's exacting this brand of vengeance.

Simon wonders what would happen afterwards to her, and she brushes it off - they're be a psychological assessment of course, but nothing she can't wriggle her way through. The trick is to know the best not-perfect answers to give. She can give him tips to get a whistle-clean reference from Dr. Keen if he helps her.

Next Session: Bad to the Bone

Friday, 29 June 2018

Who Needs Paddles!

Previous Session: Striking Out

They all walk out to the common area outside. They're without the soldiers now, so they can pretty much go wherever - it would seem that Viktor trusts them about as much as he trusts anyone - though he still doesn't think they'll survive.

Snaps the Muscle and Lucky the Scoundrel head out into the jungle in the borrowed rover. They've gotten the route and last known location of Samara and her escort so they'll head out that way and then get a bead on the signal when they're in range. Samara was originally heading to some old ruins far out to the NNW, but it doesn't look like they got there.

They get one more look at the claw marks and surrounding scorch marks on the gates. On second thoughts they think this is less of an abortive attack and more like something marking its territory.


Bevan, the Mystic heads back to the shuttle where Zerocs, their pilot (callsign: Falcon) is waiting. He opens the shuttle bay doors for Bevan after he gets the call. They're going to stay above the interference signals everything on this planet seems to emit and try to triangulate the signal with the rover team.

The road is overgrown, but on closer examination is just a track, not even dirt but flattened and burnt growth on top of tangled briars. It's humid and dark with the canopy overhead.

Zerocs and Bevan fly out over the jungle, heading towards the ruins. Zerocs scans the jungle with his infra-red sights, while Bevan attunes to the presence he feels below, though they attract the attention of something dangerous as they fly lower. Bevan climbs out the hatch, firmly fastening himself with a safety harness - he'll suppress the hell out of anything that threatens them with a heavy blaster.

He gets a sense of being surrounded by something all-encompassing, like a mist. It's like the whole jungle is one organism, and the individual creatures inside it just serve the jungle's will.

***

Falcon gets a ping from the tracker and it suggests they're heading in the right direction at least. They do a long looping circuit, to see if they can get another ping from a different angle and get a firm location on Samara.

They zoom past a hill, and Bevan has a strange feeling - like they're a pebble dropped into a pond and that the circles are rushing out to the rest of the jungle; and that the jungle is pushing back. No movement or pattern to it, just a general awakening. They feel a subwoofer-like hum underneath them.

Something that's felt much more urgently below by Snaps & Lucky. Lucky drives the rover as far as he's able, but soon they've come to the end of the easily traversable track; and while, if they just followed what seems like SOP down here they'd just burn the jungle, they feel like that might not be the best course of action.

They stop and try the signal again - they get a clear reading and when they talk to the guys up top they get the triangulation sorted out. They spill out of the rover, and pack their stuff. They're about a klick away from Samara's signal.

They'll continue down the rough track for a half a klick and then cut cross-country. Snaps checks that Lucky is ok for water and finds the canteen is full of rough hooch! She pours it out and gives him a spare of her water.
-You ready for this?
-As ready a I'll ever be!
-So, that's a 'no'? Well...everyone remember where we parked.
It's very subtle, but as they move they realise that they're being stalked. Whatever's out there is effortlessly keeping their distance. They move quicker through the jungle but the encircling things keep pace, although they keep their distance.

They come to an open area, in the center of it is a small stone hut (which looks to be similar in material/design from those ruins to the NW). The shuttle passes overhead and as they advance the door opens and Samara pokes her head out
-Get off the ground! Are you crazy!
Above, Bevan soothes the jungle back into a calm slumber and a few giant manta ray-like aliens come out of the jungle (they can't possibly be flying through the trees, they're over 6m wide). Bevan's shocked by how large the mind he's feeling out is - it's almost too big to complemplate.

Lucky & Snaps spot a human body on the other side of the clearing, but discretion is the better part of valour and they rush into the doorway, and Samara barricades it shut.

**

Samara
Inside, Samara quickly explains the body outside - it's Olun, who was just killed as he tried to escape a half hour ago. The rest of the story is quick to relay in broad strokes

-She had a lead on an UR artefact in the ruins to the northwest
-that ruin had been long picked clean by other scavengers and they cast around for another
-when they veered in this direction on the way back their rover crashed and they scrambled here, only 3 of them made it
-this is just the tip of the local ruins, and there's an overgrown complex underneath

She's worried about them, they should never have come here and will be trapped here forever with her, unless they have an army nearby
Lucky glances at Snaps
-She's your army sister.
Snaps grins in anticipation, checking outside for a way out of here.

Bevan's working to spook the jungle's IFF, make it seem like those on the ground are just a natural part of it. Maybe it'll buy them some time. Zerocs is formulating a flight-plan to lower a cargo net to allow them all to climb aboard without spending much time on the hostile ground outside the hut.

Bevan realises that this mind is more like a god's - powerful and intricate. He can sense only a facet of it. It can't be fooled, but is amused by their antics. So long as they don't pose a serious threat, it will give them what he asks for.

*

The cargo net is lowered and the three on the ground clamber up to climb onto it. And all hell breaks loose. The manta-rays appear in strength and now from this angle they can see the underside of them is claws and teeth - they climb along the trees, they don't fly.

Snaps triggers the circle of grenades she set up in preparation for their escape and it catches a few of them, tearing them asunder, but one of the grenades bounces into one of the creatures and back towards them and the shockwave is too close to the net and they all spill out and onto the ground!

They run for it. Initially they make a bee-line for where the rover is parked, but then Lucky maps out a route - taking advantage of the fact that the aliens climb trees to go through areas with low scrub and smaller trees. Snaps holds up the rear to cover them but they make it to the rover without too much trouble. A bunch of the creatures try to swarm them and Snaps takes out Zara, her detonator launcher, and forces them back.

They leap aboard and drive away, as quickly as they dare. That sub-woofer thump returns. As they drive away, with the shuttle a couple of hundred meters up they see a wave or ripple underground moving towards them fast.

Zerocs opens a channel to the Firedrake in orbit and does the telemetry on the shot from her particle cannons. It's risky, but on urging from Snaps & Lucky he takes the shot, caving in the layers in the ground that whatever-it-is was using to follow them. The impact and the collapses causes it to take a detour and by the time it's back on their trail they've made it to the basecamp.

Snaps reminds Viktor that they still want that targeting computer for the Firedrake! The shuttle lands and brings them all back to the ship. Samara just wants to head home - despite the fact that she and Viktor are lovers (without Vorex's knowledge)

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Can't Spell 'Villain' without...AI?

Previous Session: Stand or Hit

The team of new superheroes are still recovering from their encounter with BlackJack at Hank's Arcade, but their morale is high even though they only drove him off.


A way across town, Javi (El Serpiente, the Nova) has just finished tidying up the green grocers and his boss (and landlord) gives him a tired smile
-You're a good kid, Javi.
He's still boiling over from the fight with Blackjack and Ignacio's kind words settle him a little

Anita,
Redoubtable girlfriend
A minute after Javi arrives back at the apartment, Anita gets a call from work. She has a short conversation but it looks like she has to go in. He walks her downstairs to the Uber-shelter to wait for the car the office just called for her.

An awkward conversation ensues. She's not particularly happy with hanging around for ages, albeit with his lovely friends, waiting for him to come home from work [irony alert!]. Lucia (Bruja, the Doomed) uses her mind powers to give Javi advice, but it just seems to distract him.

He promises that he'll be better at this, and is going to pick her up from work later - she doesn't know how long that'll be, she might be scouring the server rooms for issues all night; but it's appreciated.

Upstairs, Gus (Tag, the Innocent) and Shadow (the Beacon, who's real name is Simon) continue talking to Julie, while Lucia is zoned out.
They probe the backstory a little, Lucia never really told them what happened. They don't asks outright, so she just fast-forwards to her moving to Halcyon City for a job. But Shadow is sure there's more to it - there's definitely unfinished business between her and Lucia. Julie intend to resolve this traumatic incident with her childhood friend soon. That's the real reason she came here.

***

The need to get to the bottom of the Red Queen's plans, so they head out to scout out another arcade to see if there is any other activity going on. They head to Diego's Diving Bell, reputedly the best place in the city.

Tag and Bruja head inside, and while the place is crowded (and impressive) the first thing they spot is a woman talking to Diego (or at least, the manager) outside the back office. It's not a comfortable conversation and they move to intervene. Diego starts to clear the whole place at the woman's behest and she turns around, looking satisfied with herself.

Bruja angles for a good opportunity and steps back away from her opponent, around the back of a VR machine. A moment passes, and she hears an electronic whirring noise; she's curious and then pokes her head around for a look.

K-0S
A new Supervillain
The woman has transformed into full 'tron' mode and is now identifiable as K-0S. She is waiting for Bruja, and her outstretched hand zaps Bruja with a nice-sized taser-shock.

Bruja is thrown back, and loses control of her powers, they lash out, and draw life-force out of those nearby, including Diego and a couple of players he was helping get out of VR.

Near the doorway, Tag was trying to figure out what was most amazing about this place, when he noticed K-0S change. He winds up and charges around the room evacuating people as the fight between Bruja and K-0S heats up.

Bruja flings a VR machine into K-0S with her telekinetic powers; smashing them into the back office. K-0S responds in kind, kicking the VR machine back into Bruja, and while she's looking very proud of her form and style. Tag yo-yos into her. He's back where he started, but K-OS is out for the count against the far wall.

Bruja is in a nasty mood, and standing above her defeated enemy she hears her whisper
-You're not going to stop me. I'll avenge them
before she smashes the credit-card reader into her face, breaking her nose.

**
They search K-0S and find a slim laptop and a sophisticated looking outsize USB key (probably for an info-dump). The laptop looks super encrypted, and he reckons that the best bet for getting inside is to convince K-0S to give them the password.

They also find a key in her back pocket and the Impala it belongs to outside across the street. Rather than wait for AEGIS they decide to bring her to Bruja's Sanctuary. It's an abandoned datacentre which was forgotten by Halcyon Analytica when the town it was based in 'Los Lobos' died on the vine. It's well outside the city limits and was by-passed by the freeway so it's very quiet.

Bruja brings her and Shadow inside a virtual construct. Tag stays outside to keep an eye (El Serpiente has signed off to go collect Anita). Bruja explains that it's built using modelling from K-0S' mind, to help put her at ease.

They're on a terrace, on top of a gigantic skyscraper. Wearing party outfits (black-tie, not rager) and drinking champagne. They look for an introduction from K0-S and she wheedles their real names out of them before she gives her own
-It's Betty
She wonders if they've ever been to Houston before. They try to get some more information what she was doing, and she finds it preposterous that they think she was working with BlackJack or for the Red Queen. She didn't want to insert some kind of Trojan Horse inside Halcyon Analytica. She wanted to get information out of them and AEGIS
-People like you killed my family
Not supervillains, superheroes. And AEGIS know exactly what happened and covered it up to protect one of the 'good guys'.
-Stay out of my way, don't interfere with my plans, and I won't burn this place down (either literally or metaphorically
Shadow exchanges a questioning glance with Bruja.
-You didn't think you could trap the pre-eminent hacker of her generation in a virtual construct and not have me break it in a nano?
She smiles, and places her empty champagne flute on a passing waiter's tray.
-Enjoy this champagne for a while, you'll get out in a while, and I'll be out of your hair
She walks over to the elevator doors, and gives them a wave as it closes

*
Betty is on her way out of the facility (after retrieving her stuff) when she passes Gus, making tea in the kitchenette. He looks up and their eyes meet. He establishes that his friends are still ok, and she placates him - they'll be out in no time and they'll be fine (maybe a slight champagne headache).

For some reason, she tells him what she's trying to do and they come to a deal. He'll help her infiltrate AEGIS, and she'll share whatever information she can dig up on Catcher afterwards. He wants her to give him a way to mess up Catcher's cyborg arm.

She tells him that years ago, Catcher tried and failed to save her family. She really should have recognised him.

He watches her drive off in her Impala with anticipation.

Sydney
Simon's scary sister
When Simon and Lucia come to they can't believe that Gus left her go. But he feigns ignorance. They argue whether she's a villain or a misguided hero and he just shrugs. Lucia and Shadow berate each other, there's a certain hopelessness in the argument.

Simon starts walking home - it's a long walk and he calls Sydney, his sister. She's worried about him, being out in the wastes without anyone and she tells him exactly where to stand to wait for her. She's going to collect him. He knows that she has better things to do with her time. When he hops into her car to head back home she tells him that the psych from AEGIS, a Dr. Burke called again for his evaluation tomorrow morning.

Gus speeds home.

Lucia stays and sulks; wondering how she can track where K0-S is gone and what she's up to. It'll require help from Anita, and will open her to danger from AEGIS (as well as stirring up trouble associated with her Doom).

Next Session: It's Complicated