Somewhere in Ridge Gap, West Meteor City
While the country as a whole was in shock around the events in New York, in Meteor City, the team was reeling from the revelation that their youngest member, Jonathon, had been the victim of mind control perpetrated by a scientist working for the Armory. Whilst he was mentally dominated, Jonathon had been forced to hand over information on his team mates. Although "deprogrammed," the damage had already been done.
Jacob had already determined how the mind control had been achieved and had created a counter measure that could prevent, or at least reduce the effectiveness, of any further attempts. Because of his past links with the Armory, Jacob had also been able to use this information to narrow down a list of individuals that had worked for the Armory at the same time as him and were skilled in the necessary expertise. After asking Jonathon to describe the individual he had met during their incursion into the Armory's secret base, they were able to narrow it down to two Japanese-looking scientists. However, that's where their investigation hit a brick wall.
Chris however had an idea. Jacob, Jane and himself (along with William unknown to anyone else) had previously had contact with a young vigilante that operated in and around Ridge Gap. Ghost apparently had history with the Armory, and much more recently than Jacob's own dealings; he might be able to help with their investigation. Chris sent Ghost an email in the hopes that a meeting could be arranged. A few days later, Ghost sent a reply agreeing to meet with Chris one-on-one.
In the (very) early hours of Saturday morning, Chris met with Ghost in an alley in Ridge Gap. The vigilante, arrived early to reconnoitre the area and check that there was no surveillance. When Chris arrived, Ghost waited for a few minutes to make sure that Chris hadn't been followed. Ghost's caution made it difficult for Chris to earn his trust as he explained the problem. As soon as Chris mentioned Jonathon being mind controlled, Ghost came close to panicking, blurting out "you've been compromised!"
It took all of Chris' experience dealing with two younger brothers and a difficult to manage father to prevent Ghost from rabbiting. Ghost regained his composure and Chris told him about the problem the team had with the Armory, finishing up by asking for his help.
At this point, all of Chris' work in gaining Ghost's trust was almost ruined by the arrival of William. The speedster had been in the area, patrolling for street crime, and had spotted the meeting. He had buzzed an all-night burger joint and brought a bag of burgers, thinking Ghost might be hungry because he'd previously seen the vigilante "relieve" drug dealers of their money saying "a guy's gotta eat."
Ghost almost bolted again, concerned that Chris appeared to have been followed to their secret meeting by a member of his "compromised" family. Chris barely managed to defuse the situation by sending a Battle-Net message to William saying that he heard that was an armed heist taking place on the other side of town. William rushed off on the wild goose chase leaving Chris to convince Ghost to meet up with him and the rest of the team later to discuss the situation.
Chris and Ghost went their separate ways; Chris went home while Ghost went to his new hideout. He had decided to abandon his old one, an old bomb shelter under the Union Rail Yard in Southbay, and "upgrade" to a penthouse apartment in an empty building in Midtown; one of the victims of the economic recession. By the time, William realised he'd been trick and returned, the alley was deserted.
18 Cyprus Drive, Bayview
Several hours later, although far to early in the morning for some, Chris assembled a family meeting in the kitchen; accompanied by breakfast as an incentive. Jonathon and Danny, who had stayed the night, had been up very late patrolling the city. In fact, apart from Jacob who had been working in his lab, only Jane had actually gone to bed at a reasonable hour the night before.
After literally gluing a caffeine-fuelled William to his seat to make sure he stuck around (I'm not kidding here), Chris relayed to the others the information about the meeting Ghost he'd arranged. The meeting was going to take place later that afternoon and it was hoped that Ghost would be able to identify the Armory scientist for them.
At this point Danny was a little lost. It turned out that no one had thought to tell him that his best friend had been mind controlled by an evil scientist. Everyone at this point suddenly found something else to do, leaving Jonathon to explain the situation to Danny. Including the fact that whomever at controlled Jonathon, might also know about Danny.
Pannuci's Pizza, Ridge Gap
That afternoon everyone, including Danny, arrived at the meeting place; a pizza restaurant. Jane and Chris arrived first, teleporting directly into the back room. Jonathon and Danny a few minutes later, phasing through the wall. Jacob, dressed normally, knocked on the back door and was let in. William was the last to arrive and noticed immediately that the restaurant, in one of the worst parts of Ridge Gap, was free of any graffiti or unsavoury characters that usually plagued businesses in the area. Later, he'd learn that was thanks to Ghost who had driven out the dealers and gang members; making more than a few enemies in the process. William grabbed a pizza and went through to the back room with the others.
As soon as William closed the door behind him, Ghost stepped out of the shadows where he had been hiding. After Ghost had grabbed one of William's pizza slices, Jacob got down to business. He showed the young vigilante the photo's of the two scientists and asked him if he knew if any of them still worked for the Armory. Ghost immediately recognises one of them as Doctor Hisato Fujisawa, head of Psychosurgical Operations for the Armory.
With the man responsible for the mind control identified, now they had to make sure that any information he had learnt was destroyed. There had been nothing on the news about the Armory facility under the city being raided, despite Jacob's warning to his contact, and Ghost confirmed that it was still in operation. Realising that they'd probably have to infiltrate the facility, they started to plan how to get in undetected. Ghost took charge of the planning, his training coming to the fore. It looked like the Armory were about to find out they had done too good a job creating Ghost.
As they planned, Jacob's phone beeped. Someone had gained access to the house, tapping in the access code on the keypad by the front door. However, although the access code had been Jonathon's, the readings from the biometric sensors on the front door did not match his son's. Besides, Jonathon was right across the table from him. Jacob ordered the house security system to go into lockdown but within a minute of it doing so, all house systems went offline; someone had forcibly disabled them.
Despite the fact that it was an obvious trap everyone, including Ghost, set off to confront the intruders.
18 Cyprus Drive, Bayview
They arrived at the house to find the door wide open, the lights off, an unfamiliar armoured car in the driveway. Entering the darkened house, they saw that sparks were still coming down from ceiling fixtures and the air felt charged; Jacob theorised that the intruders had set an off EMP device of some kind.
No sooner had they reached the main room did five armed and armoured individuals step out of the surrounding shadows, levelling high tech weapons at the team. A sixth indivual stood in the shadows behind them. The armed men yelled don't move and without waiting for a response, opened fire.
Each of their weapons functioned differently. One was armed with an energy web projector aimed at Jonathon. Another aiming his weapon at Jacob seemed to be holding an EMP weapon. One weapon, aimed at Chris, gave off super-cooled vapour. When Jane attempted to go invisible and teleport, she was hit by a wave of energy contained charged boson particles which adhered to her and created a glowing outline around her body and prevented her from teleporting. William rushed forward to tackle the man aiming at him, dodging the blast from the weapon that Jacob would later determine was an Equilibrioception Disrupter; in other words, a "dizziness gun".
With blasts, waves, and beams flying across the room, the team engaged the intruders. While Jonathon kept the man attacking him busy, Danny ducked around and fired an uzi at the shadowed man but as he did so, the man held up a device that unleashed a rapid series of light pulses. Danny seemed to lose concentration for the split second when he aimed and fired; the spray of bullets swept across William. Thankfully he was unhurt.
Ghost, with his enhanced senses, could see that the shadowed individual was Doctor Hisato. He drew his sword which was in actuality a vibroblade weapon with the electronics deliberately disabled. Bouncing acrobatically across the room, he leapt at Hisato and ran straight into the same light pulses that Danny had. As his attack faltered, Hisato spoke a quick phrase. Ghost felt the phrase hit his subconscious like a hammer blow and it sent him reeling. It was a trigger phrase for programming buried deep within Ghost's subconscious intended to make him "shutdown".
After disabling the EMP rifle held by one of the attackers, Jacob turned his attention to Hisato. He sealed the scientist inside a forcefield, giving Ghost time shake off the effects of the command and giving Hisato an opportunity to needle Jacob, hoping to prick and his conscience. Jacob had once worked for the Armory and some of his early work had been vital in creating the cybernetics that Ghost had been forcibly given.
The cryogun wielder tried to freeze Chris' clay form solid but succeeded only in freezing one of his comrades. One by one, the intruders were defeated; proving no match for the tag team antics of Jane, Chris, and Jonathon.
18 Cyprus Drive, Bayview
With sixth incapacitated intruders in their living room, they had been faced with the interesting question on what to do with them. Jacob had the bright idea of putting them in the Holographic Training Room and letting them wake up. He then had programmed a convincing "escape" scenario and by watching their reactions and what was said, he was able to deduce that Hisato had not told his superiors anything about the team. It appeared he'd kept it all secret for some reason. Perhaps he hoped to use the information to his own advantage in the boardroom politics that dominated the upper echelon's of The Armory's organisational structure.
Satisfied that their secrets were safe, Jacob created a computer virus and installed on Hisato's PDA. The next time it connected to the Armory's network it would seek out and destroy any and all references to the team. He also wanted to wipe the memories of the armed men and Hisato, erasing everything they had seen or heard in the last month.
Before he could do this, Ghost asked for some time to ask Hisato some questions of his own. In private.
Still locked on the Holographic Training Room, this time set to a "prison" simulation, Hisato was interrogated by Ghost. At first, the scientist was reluctant to answer any questions, especially any from a "failed prototype" like Ghost.
If Hisato was hoping to rile Ghost and play with his emotions then we was doing an excellent job. Unfortunately, he was playing with the mental state of a 15-year-old kid that had been kidnapped, brainwashed, experimented on and trained to be a killer. It was only with the greatest willpower that Ghost managed to restrain himself at time. However, with Hisato pushing his buttons, Ghost began to get physical with the interrogation; drawing on the training that the Armory had provided.
As Ghost's restraint began to break and he was in real danger of inflicting permenant injury on the prisoner, Jonathon stepped in. With his own score to settle against Hisato, Jonathon had phased through the wall to observe the interrogation, remaining invisible. However, when he saw what Ghost was about to do, he knew he had to do something. The younger boy was able to pull Ghost back from the brink and thanks to the unintended good-cop, bad-cop routine that Hisato and inadvertently triggered, Ghost was able to get the good doctor to talk.
Hisato had been brought onto Project Apex, the project that Ghost had been part of, during for "phase two". After undergoing the extremely painful and traumatic enhancement process where the unwilling test subjects went through radical gene therapy, drug treatments and cybernetic implantation, the existing memories of the test subjects were erased and a new personality predisposed to following orders and absolute loyalty to the Armory was created. Hisato implanted vague memories of volunteering for the project of their own free will and he devised a series of subliminal messages that could be fed into the PA system in the barracks where the subjects were kept that would reinforce loyalty and compliance to the Armory and prevent the subjects asking too many questions.
All of this matched Ghost's experiences. After waking up from the surgery, he remembered being confused and being concerned that he couldn't remember anything. His handler had told him that some temporary memory loss was to be expected but that his memories should return in time and not to worry about it. He was also told that he had volunteered for the project after being recruited from an abusive foster home. Thinking back on it, Ghost could now recall that all the test subjects had similar sob stories and that none of them had ever questioned the gaps and contradictions in what you were told. From Hisato told him, this would've been due to the infrasonic subliminal messages piped into their barracks. Ghost himself only started questioning his "back story" after he escaped from the Armory.
Ghost wanted to know who he really was and where he had come from but Hisato didn't know. He only knew that the test subjects were all chosen due to certain genetic markers and were all abducted from locations in North America. In his own words, he didn't care "where the meat came from, only that it wasn't spoiled when it got to his table."
Realising that they had gotten all they could out of their prisoners, both boys left them to the tender care of Jacob. He erased their memories and dumped Hisato in a city park to make his own way back to the Armory. They needed the scientist to return to the underground base and unwittingly deliver the computer virus to complete their cover up. The mercenaries were dumped by Jane unconscious in front of police headquarters.
In the first scene we had Chris Chance meeting with Ghost, William Chance interrupting, and unknown to anyone else Jonathon and Danny were also in Ridge Gap on patrol. It was gone midnight and not one of his kids were at home in bed. Jacob Chance ... do you know where your children are?
In all seriousness, this session welcomed a new player. Well, an old player really. An old friend and gaming buddy who'd gone back to France several years ago was rediscovered on Facebook. Since we already have a player joining in via video chat from another part of the country, the possibility of having our old friend joining in virtually as well mooted. Thanks to G+ Hangouts, we were able to get the old gang back together for the first time in seven years.
After a brief chat, he decided that rather than play an original character he'd rather player a pregenerated character. Two NPCs stood out as being easy to "promote to regular main cast." Ion Fist and Ghost (although as I type this, I realise that Danny could also have been promoted with a bit of work). The player chose to play Ghost and did an excellent job making it feel like a distinctive character.
We also found it really easy to teach the basics (and some of the complications) of the MHR system over the video chat to a virtual (no pun intended) novice. Not sure it would've been this easy with other systems. Especially my usual go to supers game, Mutants and Masterminds.
Bayview Academy, Bayview
A modified Osprey tilt-rotor bearing PARA insignia landed on the football pitch and a squad of PARA officers disembarked and took custody of Protean, bundling the unconscious youth onto the aircraft and took off. The media had also descended on the school. Jonathon had found himself again talking to Denise Johansen on camera. This time, flushed with the adrenaline from their victory against Protean, Jonathon was able put on a good show for the cameras. Jane helped the paramedics get the most injured civilians to hospital, teleporting several directly to the nearest ER.
A short distance away, concealed behind the bleachers, Chris had caught up with Viper. With the foes they were facing, and the insistence on his brothers doing the "hero thing", Chris was worried that he couldn't protect them as well as he wanted. He needed someone to teach him how to fight and he didn't think Jacob's efforts were enough. Considering that Viper was the only "professional" supervil … er … super-person that he knew, Chris wanted her to teach him how to fight.
Viper was reluctant. She and Jacob had separated so that her enemies wouldn't try to get to her through her family. Any extended contact with them could put them in danger. Chris was insistent, suggesting that perhaps she could point him at someone else then. She considered this and promised to look into the possibility.
By this point, order had been restored and the principal was desperately trying to resume the Graduation Ceremony. Chris heard his name being called and when he turned back to Viper, she was gone.
18 Cyprus Drive, Bayview
Following Graduation, the team scattered. William raced off to Ridge Gap for some "recreational crime fighting" while Chris took Jane car shopping. Since he'd be starting at MCU in the autumn, he figured that it was high time for him to get his own car. One that had a perfectly normal internal combustion engine and ran on wheels, not a fusion powered hover car with anti-grav propulsion.
While his brothers were out, Jonathon and Danny were sprawled out in the living room playing on the Xbox. Jonathon had yet to figure out a way to wire the Xbox into the new holographic training simulator; Call of Duty on a "holodeck" would really be something. Somewhere between levels, Jonathon's mobile rang and he went into kitchen to answer it.
As soon as he answered it, a burst of static caused his eyes to glaze over as synthesised voice spoke to him. It ordered him to retrieve a blood sample from Protean, by any means necessary, and bring it to Pier 6 at the city port in Oceanside. The call was disconnected.
The only place to get a blood sample from Protean was the PARA holding facility outside of town. Getting in would be difficult but first he would need something to take the sample with. He went downstairs to his father's lab knowing that there'd be something to take a sample with stored down there.
Jacob was down in the lab, as usual, working on something. Feigning interest, Jonathon asked his father what he was working on while he tried to come up with some way to distract him away from the medical kit on the wall. When Jacob told him that he was working analysing a blood sample he'd surreptitiously taken from Protean. Hearing this, Jonathon realised that he didn't need to infiltrate the PARA facility.
Standing to one side as his father returned to his analysis, he waited until Jacob's back was turned then pressed a button on a wall panel. An alarm sounded on the other side of the lab from where the computers monitoring the Tel'Varen Energy Detection Grid. As Jacob ran over to the console, Jonathon reached over to the desk, grabbed the sample and phased into the wall.
Jacob was confused, the console said that someone had switched off the monitoring system and looking around, he saw two things. One of the circuit breakers in the wall panel had been tripped and Jonathon was gone. Concerned, he checked the security footage and saw what Jonathon had done. He tried phoning him but got no answer then he phoned Chris. Chris contacted Jonathon over the BattleNet but his brother's responses weren't satisfactory. Realising that something was wrong, Chris sent out a call to the others to rendezvous at the house.
Meteor City International Airport, Jameson Island
Jacob had hacked into the local cellular service providers and obtained a GPS fix on Jonathon's phone. He was travelling across the airport, and given his speed, he was flying. The team teleported/flew to the top of a multi-story carpark at the airport and tried to locate Jonathon but it wasn't easy, he was invisible, floating and incorporeal. They couldn't see him but he could see them.
Using Jonathon's phone to fix his location to within 10 meters, Jacob used his forcefield to try to detect Jonathon. If Jonathon tried to pass through the field, he'd be able to detect it. It was a simple and elegant solution and it worked, he was able to locate Jonathon. Once located, he attempted to negate Jonathon's invisibility by causing charged particles to adhere to his incorporeal form.
Chris tried to talk to his brother, to find out what was going on but Jonathon refused to respond; no longer interested in talking. William, seeing Jonathon, launched himself at his brother using his super speed to leap high into the air. However, Jonathon saw him coming and allowed his brother to pass harmlessly through him. Harmlessly that is for Jonathon, not so much for William. The superspeedster plummeted through the air and smacked painfully into the side of the terminal building.
While Jane kept Jonathon busy with her aerial "bamf-fu", Jacob used forcefields to restrict Jonathon's movements and then stun him with his blaster.
18 Cyprus Drive, Bayview
Jane teleported everyone back to the lab where Jacob strapped Jonathon down. He was concerned about his son's aberrant behaviour and suspected that something unusual was behind it. After breaking out some old equipment, his suspicious were proved correct. There were anomalous patterns in Jonathon's brainwaves. Patterns that strongly indicated non-telepathic mind control.
Jacob was familiar enough with the patterns to be able to cobble together a device to filter out and eliminate the anomalous patterns. Free from the mind control, Jonathon was able to remember everything he had done whilst under its influence. He remembered meeting a scientist last week in the underground Armory base while trying to get to Chris. The scientist used some sort of device on him that made him forget ever meeting him and made it possible for the scientist to give him commands. Commands such as the one to steal the blood sample. But most importantly, Jonathon remembered telling the scientist everything, who he was, who his team mates were, what their powers were and how they had got them.
Before anyone could really digest this bombshell, Danny, who everyone had forgotten about, came into the lab wearing a worried expression. He told everyone that there was something on the news they should see.
Arriving just behind the cordon, Jacob and Chris approached the police and asked to see the officer in charge. From him, they learned that an extremist group calling themselves the "Knights of Genetic Purity" had stormed the converted bunker housing the MetaScience Department. They'd taken around twenty hostages, including about a visiting group of students who would be joining the MSD in September; mostly middle school and high school aged kids. The terrorists, led by the Knight Captain, had already killed several members of campus security. As yet, no demands had been made.
The MetaScience department was located inside a re-purposed, Cold War-era, civil defence bunker. Its security systems and defensive features were designed to keep things in, be it malfunctioning prototype robots, quasi-sentient puddings or escapees from accidentally opened interdimensional portals. Consequently, the terrorists had triggered the quarantine protocols and locked down the bunker. It was now hermetically sealed; nothing could get in, or out.
Jacob asked Jonathon to invisibly phase down into the bunker to find out what was going on. Chris would've gone with him, but the hermetic seal prevented his liquid form gaining access. Eager to show off in front of the TV cameras, Jonathon faded out then phased down through the soil.
Inside the bunker, Jonathon crept through the deserted corridors and silent labs. In one room, he found several piles of ash with charred bones poking out. Judging by the scorch marks on the floor, it looked like they'd been killed with a flamethrower. After hearing voices and sound of TV news, Jonathon made his way to the department canteen where he found about a dozen hostages, most of them a year or two either side of his own age, being guarded by around 15 KGP members. Walking around the room, occasionally kicking out at a cowering hostage and leaking blue-white flames, was the Knight Captain.
Jonathon listened to what the terrorists were saying and relaying it via the BattleNet to the others. Given that the terrorists had already killed several people and didn't seem to be in a hurry to issue demands, it was feared that they were planning to massacre the hostages. It was clear they couldn't wait for the hostage negotiator to arrive.
Using the information provided by Jonathon, Jane teleported everyone into the canteen; eschewing stealth and instead going for a "shock and awe" arrival. Jacob generated a forcefield to protect the hostages from reprisals while "tele-evaced" them out.
As the KGP thugs surged forward to swarm Jonathon, Danny and William, the Knight Captain focused his rage on the most visibly "tainted" member of the team, Chris. He unleashed a stream divine hellfire at Chris who blocked the flames, allowing the heat to "bake" the surface of his clay-like form and then shedding the burned surface.
It took less than a minute for Jane to get all the hostages to safety and with them gone, she and Jacob were free to help the others deal with the KGP thugs.
Chris grew several tentacles and wrapped them around the Knight Captain to restrain him. The KGP leader was enraged further by the act and erupted into flames, burning at Chris.
Jane managed to subdue the last of the thugs with a burst of teleportation kung-fu, and Jacob went over to the restrained but still struggling Knight Captain. He pointed out the absurdity of an anti-metahuman extremist group being lead by an obvious metahuman. As the Knight Captain's rage increased, Jacob piled on the logical arguments. When Jacob reached the culmination of his logic attack, the Knight Captain howled in rage, threw off Chris and hurled himself towards Jacob, sending a blast of white-hot fire at the armoured hero. Jacob stepped back and snapped up his forcefield, shaping it so that it reflected the flames back at the Knight Captain. The blast struck him in the face and sent him flying across the room and smacking into a wall. He slumped to the floor, unconscious.
Lifting the lockdown on the bunker was easy and MCPD (with PARA backup) soon swarmed in and arrested the Knight Captain and his KGP minions.
18 Cyprus Drive, Bayview
That evening, everyone was at the Chance house, trying to work out how they were going to respond to the revelation that someone working for The Armory knew almost everything about them. In the background behind them, the TV was on with its volume low. Their attention was attracted by a breaking news story interrupting the programme that had been running.
Alpha Force, known as one of the most popular and most powerful of superteams, had engaged an old foe in Columbus Park; Electron, an energy based villain. Channel 35 cut to a live broadcast by its New York affiliate where a camera crew had arrived at the scene.
As they watched, the team saw Alpha Force fight the villain while one of its number, the tech-based hero Gadgeteer, set up some sort of device. When the device was ready, the rest of Alpha Force scattered and Gadgeteer activated the device which projected a beam that struck Electron. The villain howled; partly in pain, partly in rage. His energy form began to flicker and dim.
Jacob theorised that the device was emitting some form of dampening field. Perhaps employing basic wave theory and invoking destructive interference to essentially "cancel out" the energy waveform of Electron's energy-based structure.
However, something seemed to go wrong. Electron's form began to flare and pulse, his screams increasing in intensity. Gadgeteer struggled to control the device and then stopped. He looked at his team mates who could also sense that something was wrong, he looked at the camera, at the bystanders, back to his team mates. Although the camera was unable to pick up what he said to them, later analysis would suggest that he said "I'm sorry" before pushing a button on his belt and teleporting away. A second later, the screen cut to static as the station lost the live feed.
The confused anchorwoman said they had temporarily lost the link with their New York affiliate. Jonathon tried to switch to another channel but the story was the same. Except for GlobeNet News which broadcasts directly from its New York studies and doesn't operate local affiliates. They were off the air completely.
Over the next hour, the story slowly started to emerge. Something had indeed gone horribly wrong, New York was in ruins as were surrounding areas. Most of Lower Manhattan was just gone, nothing remained except a crater filled with steaming water. In an instant, some two hundred thousand lives had been lost and hundreds of thousands more were injured.
And that brings us to the end of Volume 2: Escalation. There was a hell of a lot happening in this issue, two action scenes, the resolution of Jonathon's mind control which the rest of the group had not been aware of until this point, and the destruction of New York that leads directly into the next volume entitled "Civil War". No guesses as to where I got the idea from.
The events in New York also served to "write out" Alpha Force from the setting. They'd been around as concepts from the very beginning, and some of them even had stats. I'd always intended on having them show up at some point in Meteor City but never found the right plot to introduce them. By killing off all but one of them, I no longer need to worry about them.
"Channel 35 has received reports in the last few minutes that PARA response units have been dispatched to an incident currently taking place at Bayview Academy. Eye witnesses are reporting that a large creature of some description has launched an attack during the Graduation Ceremony and that Vector, Kaolin, Swift, Slider and Swift Justice have already responded to the emergency. We now go live to Denise Johansen who is in the Channel 35 News Chopper approaching the scene. Denise?"Cratered Capps, Hanford, West Meteor
Tuesday, 26 June 2012, 2:00 PM
After posting, uploading, tweeting, poking and plussing about the actions of the team Jonathan had finally managed to score his much coveted interview. A reporter from Channel 35 News, Denise Johansen, had contacted him to arrange an interview. For a variety reasons the interview had to take place at 2 on the afternoon and Jonathan had suggested a coffee shop in Hanford. Although he should be in school, Jonathan jumped at the opportunity, getting Danny to cover him.
Jonathon arrived at the coffee shop, a branch of a larger citywide chain, a little before 2; Denise and her cameraman were waiting for him. After buying himself a drink, he sat down at the table and the interview began. Denise started off with some harmless sounding questions which put Jonathon at ease, giving him the false impression that he was in control of the conversation. However, as the interview continued, Jonathon slowly became aware that the balance of control was not in his favour at all. Not impressed by Jonathon displaying his powers, she started to ask probing questions in an attempt to piece through the persona of Slider, Jonathon's "hero name."
After realising that he wasn't as prepared to confront the press in this way as he thought he had been, Jonathon sent a Battle-Net to his brother's and Jane telling them he was in an interview and needed some advice. William was too busy, having to concentrate in order to not dominate dodge ball during gym. Chris and Jane offered a few words of advice, mainly Chris.
The flow of control shifted back and forth as Denise asked questions about his age, whether he should be in school his relationship to his teammates, how they got their powers. With Chris' coaching, Jonathon was able to deflect most of the more incriminating questions. Despite this, it was clear that if the interview continued, there was the good chance that the reporter might tease some information out of him that he and the others really wouldn't want out there. Jonathon decided to cut the interview short, making up a reason to leave.
As soon as he had phased through the shop front, frustrated Denise cursed and switched off her tablet. Then she saw the drinks cup that Jonathan had left behind. With a slight smile she asked the college student behind the counter if she had any spare sandwich wrap and, after scoring the remainder of a roll, carefully wrapped the cup as her cameraman started to pack up.
Bayview Academy, Bayview
Back at school, William's gym class had finished. Hit by the sudden urge for mischief, he acquired several rolls of toilet paper and decided to gift wrap the principal's car. He used his super speed to do it quickly enough that he wasn't spotted on the school's security cameras. Unlike the last time he tried "outrunning the CCTV", he didn't sprain his ankle as he pushed his speed beyond its normal upper limits.
William disappeared, heading back to class before the principal noticed what had happened to his car which was fully viewable from his office window. Unfortunately, the principal turned around just as Jonathon tried to sneak into school and spotted him standing near the vandalised car. The principal was furious and despite Jonathon's protests of innocence, ordered him to report to his office. Jonathon had a history of pranks and mischief at the school so to the principal, finding him next to the vandalised care was enough proof of guilt. He called Jacob to the school where they would have a serious talk about the behaviour of his younger son.
Upon arriving, Jacob used the school's wifi to hack into the computer that stored the surveillance footage from the networked CCTV cameras. He saw the car being papered at superspeed, digitally freeze framing the footage to reveal William as the culprit. Sighing, he went to meet the principal.
It was bad. As far as the principal was concerned, this was the last straw and it was looking exceedingly likely that Jonathon was going to be expelled. Jacob tried to negotiate with the principal while editing CCTV footage by slowing it down and playing with the timestamps to make it look like William had vandalised the car at normal speed. However, by tapping away at his smartphone, this did not present a very concerned demeanour to the principal.
Meanwhile, Jonathon was "brain-tweeting" the proceedings to the others. William had no problem with his younger brother being blamed for his prank and getting detention or suspended. But when he found out that William was going to get expelled, he realised that he needed to do something. Rather than run to the principal's office and make a full confession he decided to arrange to get caught pulling another prank. He grabbed some more toilet rolls and proceeded to gift wrap the coach's car which was also viewable from the principal's office.
Jacob saw what his son was doing and pointed it out to the principal. The principal, looking a little embarrassed, apologised to William then called Jonathon into the office. After admitting that he had been the one who vandalised the principal's car, the principal had no choice but to expel him.
18 Cyprus Drive, Bayview
Jonathon's interview aired that evening on Channel 35 and was watched by everyone. Jacob was shocked by what he saw. Not by its content, but the fact that Jonathon had skipped school in the afternoon to record it. Rather than say something, he just shook his head and went down to the lab. The interview itself was mostly harmless. Neither negative nor especially positive.
After dinner, Chris decided to turn in early. Tomorrow was a big day for him as it was Graduation Day. William also had an early night, but for entirely different reasons.
Bayview Academy, Bayview
Graduation Day, a hugely important day for Chris and the entire Chance family gathered for the ceremony held outside in the June sunshine. Including a woman stood at the back of the crowd and wearing a white dress and a large hat over her distinctive red hair. The ceremony proceeded perfectly and Chris, the Class Valedictorian, approached the podium to start his speech.
As he began he was interrupted by a roar from above; a dragon was flying overhead! The creature roared again, let out a blast of flame and landed in the midst of the panicking civilians. With the people fleeing in every direction, the team slipped out of sight, returning a second later "in costume." The dragon changed form to a draconic looking humanoid, complete with spiked tentacles.
The individual immediately began lashing out with his tentacles, ranting and raving, and declaring that his name was Protean. The team tried to subdue him and evacuate the civilians. Jacob used his force field to protect people from the tentacles and debris while Jane teleported people to safety. Jonathon and Danny tag teamed in trying to incapacitate Protean. Jonathon had also made sure the micro camera he was wearing was working and had sent a message to a number of social networks in order to alert the media.
Chris also tried to use his shapeshifting abilities to incapacitate or restrain Protean. However, despite striking the enemy several times, all they seemed to do was make it angry; any wounds it sustained healing rapidly. Jonathon and William eventually resorted to smack talk in an attempt to confuse or distract the enemy.
After several minutes of fighting, in which the civilians had been successfully evacuated, something happened. The enraged Protean suddenly let out a blood curdling howl and began to grow and change. He became a huge, tentacled, chthonic horror like something out of a movie.
Its many tentacles whipped out and lashed at the surroundings, striking the side of the school gym and causing the wall and part of the roof to collapse. It was all hands on deck time, no more playing games. Jonathon had Danny circle around to try and flank Protean but the monstrous form swiped at the boy contemptuously, sending Danny flying into the rubble. Jacob tried to restrain Protean by encasing him in a forcefield.
The forcefield tactic worked for a while, restraining Protean long enough for the team to land some solid blows. However, Protean took advantage of a momentary gap in the field created by Jacob in order to allow him to shoot through the field. In the split second the gap existed, Protean forced a tentacle through, holding it open long enough for him to widen it then flow through.
At this point, the sound of approaching helicopters could be heard and since Bayview Academy was located on the side of the hill, they could see the flashing lights of approaching emergency service vehicles on the freeway.
Chris at this point, grew to monstrous proportions, assuming a form similar to Protean. The two grappled and exchanged blows. Through their combined efforts, the team was able to batter Protean into unconsciousness. As he passed out, the 30ft tall tentacled form seemed to slough away leaving behind an unconscious 17 year old youth.
As the news helicopters circled and the PARA units began to arrive, Chris reverted to his human form while Jacob knelt by Protean, surreptitiously taking a blood sample.
This was originally going to be a single parter, but procrastination at the start of the session led the fight against overrunning. Whilst hurrying to wrap the session up, I forgot to include the final scene in the notes which is a pretty important scene plot wise and leads directly into the next volume.
Because of its importance, I decided to stretch the story out into a two-parter with the forgotten scene taking place towards the end.
Apart from that, I was quite happy with the way Protean turned out. He was meant to be a significant threat, above and beyond the normal villain and one that could take on the whole party without assistance from other characters or mobs. His Chimeric Rampage "ability" is taken shamelessly from the Hulk datafile and I personally think it worked well.
The team (including Danny) walked into the courtyard of a Japanese castle. It was dusk, and the lights of a modern city could be seen twinkling in the distance. Chris was in charge, calling the shots as Jacob took a back seat. They spread out, prepared for anything. As they reached the centre of the courtyard, cloaked figures appeared from the shadows all around them; brandishing a variety of weapons from katanas and martial arts weapons, all the way to tasers and modern energy weapons. The courtyard was immediately full of blades, bolts, bullets and shurikens as the ninjas wasted no time on threats or warnings and immediately charged.
Working together, the team made short work of the horde of ninjas; thus confirming the inverse law of ninja effectiveness. Surrounded by the unconscious bodies, Chris demanded to know what the point of all this was. Almost on cue, crossbow bolt struck the ground in the middle of the group, beeping urgently. The group scattered and the bolt exploded. Jacob turned to Chris and told him that the point was to never assume something was over and pointed to the roof of the castle where a figure in high-tech cybersamurai armour was silhouetted against the moon.
The figure leaped down from the roof, somersaulting in mid-air whilst rapid-firing a crossbow. Despite the entrance, the team made short work of the figure. As her unconscious body hit the floor, the castle courtyard flickered out as the hologram projectors shutdown.
18 Cyprus Drive, Bayview
With the simulation over, Jacob was pleased that his new Holographic Training Room, even if the simulation parameters needed a little tweaking. The kids weren't as visibly impressed; perhaps the Playstation Generation weren't as impressed as the predecessors by holodecks and VR.
After the simulation William, Jonathon and Danny headed out, "promising" to stay out of trouble. Jane headed to the stables and Chris decided to head up to the crater rim to practice his flying. Not long after the kids had gone, Jacob was still in the lab tweaking the simulation when his phone beeped.
The text message read "Where are you? You're late." Jacob suddenly realised that Viper had demanded a meeting at The Park downtown at noon. Not wanting to make her wait any longer than she already had, she is a supervillain after all, Jacob made his way downtown.
The Park, Impact Point
Arriving at The Park, Jacob hurried to waterfront where an irritated Viper was waiting for him. After some awkward small talk, they got to the meat of the matter. Viper wanted to know precisely what Jacob had done to the kids. She was most upset that he seemed to be turning them into superheroes. It wasn't that she was worried that they would eventually end up fighting one another, but that the whole reason why they had split up was so that their kids would never be involved any of this nor would they ever become targets of a rival wanting to get at Viper or Jacob through their family.
Viper was also quite upset that they'd got on the radar of both the Armory and Unifer. After seeing them yesterday, Unifer had become extremely agitated about something. She couldn't remember the last time he'd been like this. As for the Armory, Jacob and the kids had prevented them from scoring a major contract with The Unity, the largest in the organization's history. Furthermore, they had compromised the security of their latest and largest facility.
While they talked, or more accurately, while Jacob got talked at, Chris had taken to the air to practice his flying. His flightpath took him over the city centre and as he passed over The Park, he spotted his father talking to a red-headed woman. After circling for a few seconds, he recognised her. He swooped down go a secluded spot, morphed away the wings and strode off to his parents.
The sudden appearance of Chris was enough to render Viper nearly speechless. After a few moments of awkward conversation, Chris left, followed shortly after by Viper who said that she had to get back before Unifer decides to quantum bomb the city (or something along those lines).
Highway 528 (westbound), Midtown
William, Jonathon and Danny were in midtown, looking for some action. Jonathon was looking for something newsworthy, intent on getting some good PR. His prayers seemed answered when a beat up car screamed past, its rear window shot out. Following close behind were several police cars.
Acting quickly, Jonathon tried to phase out its rear wheels with his phasing ray. However, the car was travelling too fast and it turned onto the onramp for highway 528, heading away from the city centre. William was not deterred and took off after them.
He easily overtook the police cars and pulled up alongside the fleeing car. Inside, he was mildly surprised to see two familiar faces. Paco took one look at at William and cursed. "I've had it with all these freaking superpunks! Why can't you play Xbox like a normal kid?" He reached behind him, grabbed a bazooka from the rear seat, stood up out the sunroof and pointed it right at William's face. William grabbed the barrel of the bazooka in the instant that Paco fired, pulling at it so it pointed down at car's engine.
The rocket struck the engine and the explosion shredded the front half of the car, sending shrapnel flying across the highway into other vehicles and surrounding buildings. William was thrown into the side of a bus by the force of the blast.
What had started as a car chase was now a major incident. Seeing the explosion, Jonathon sent a brainmessage to the others who quickly arrived to help with the rescue of injured civilians. The police were livid at the destruction and vocally blamed William who was adamant that it wasn't his fault. When Chris arrived, the lecturing continued. The issue was, in Chris's words, not the fact that the car had exploded and injured lots of people, but that William didn't seem the least bit concerned and even appeared to be smiling. At this point William stormed off in a teenage strop.
18 Cyprus Drive, Bayview
That evening, Jonathon was in his room editing some videos for youtube. As part of his "hero outfit" he had incorporated miniature digital cameras to capture his heroics. While he was splicing together two shots, his phone rang. The first thing he heard upon answering it was a burst of static that made his eyes go wide and vacant. Then a synthesised voice spoke. "Number 26, its time for your report."
Man Face of Steel
5xp - The first time was painful, the second time was just annoying. Taking a missile to the face has become a regular occurrence for you. Whenever your face is targeted by a missile, rocket, RPG or other explosive device, you may use a d8 Face of Steel asset in the resistance roll.
Honey, I Lojacked the Kids!
5xp - Either by trickery or supreme negotiating skills (most likely trickery) you've managed to implant a tracking device in (not on) your kids. Perhaps you put it in their food, introduced a high tech cloud of nanotrackers into the house's air conditioning unit. Whatever the method, you can know answer that immortal TV news question. Yes, you know precisely where your children are.
And before you ask Steve, yes, they are meant as a joke and no, you can't buy them.
Crater Ridge Supercollider, 600ft below ground
In the room containing the anti-teleportation field generator, Jacob was facing a very different battle from he had expected. Rather than facing armed soldiers, he was facing a shadow from his past; his ex-wife and former partner, Viper. Instead of explaining his presence to her, or questioning hers, Jacob took to fight in an attempt to escape. He blasted at the roof of the corridor in an attempt to block it and prevent her from giving chase.
On the facility's main floor, Jane had been left to fight a horde of armed guards single-handedly after everyone else had ran ahead. Quietly confident, this didn't seem to bother her. Her agility and skill and martial arts giving the armed soldiers a run for their money. She was easily able to avoid the purple beams from their energy weapons.
William, reeling from the gunshot to chest, twisted around in the man's grip, inverting himself and tried to kick him in the face. The man, an assassin named Orion, snapped his head back, dodged William's foot and threw the boy against a wall. As he rolled to his feet he twirled a series ringed pins around his finger. Orion looked down at the grenades dangling on his bandolier and scowled.
On the other side of the facility, Chris faced two armed soldiers in the server room. Both of them opened fire but Chris blocked the energy beams by shooting off bits of clay to try and absorb their energy. As the men backed away away from him, Chris retaliated and attacked both of them; throwing both of them out the door where they landed at Jacob's feet who had just arrived. Seeing his arrival, the two soldiers turned and ran.
Father and son exchanged a few brief words. Chris hadn't managed to get the files he had come for and Jacob was concerned that they'd soon have company. Since his father was better with computers, Chris volunteered to hold off anyone trying to get in to the server room.
No sooner had he said this did Viper come running around the corner having used the knowledge of the facilities layout she had memorised to find an alternate route around the blocked corridor. Chris formed several tentacles and tried to restrain her. The resulting tangle of limbs and tentacles restrained her movements but didn't prevent her from fighting back. When Chris called out to Jacob to hurry things along, accidentally calling him "dad". On hearing this, Viper's counter attack faltered as she stared in Chris in shock.
At this point, Jonathon emerged from a nearby wall and took stock of the situation. He threw himself at Viper, phasing through her and grabbing her crossbow on the way through.
Meanwhile, Jane was mopping up the soldiers on the main floor. Still unaware that the teleport blocker had been deactivated, had decimated the ranks of soldiers that had tried to stop the team from entering the facility. The few conscious stragglers fled the area after calling reinforcements. Reinforcements that came in a the form of a pair of Autonomous Assault Platforms.
Some distance away, with his ears still ringing from the multiple-grenade blast, William crouched and tried to peer through the smoke. As it cleared, he could see the damage the blast had caused to the corridor. As soon as he had realised what Jonathon had done, Orion had shrugged off the bandolier and thrown it down the corridor. He stood at the far end of the corridor, looking impassively at William while reloading his gun. William realised that, perhaps, he had was out of league, and deciding to cut his losses he decided to withdraw. He ran back to the main floor, hoping to rendezvous with the others.
Jacob was almost through the last level of encryption when he called out to his two sons to tell Jane that the teleport blocker was disabled. As Chris did this, Jonathon concentrated and phased out junks of the concrete ceiling above the woman, causing them to fall on her.
William arrived on the main floor where Jane was fighting the two robots, dodging between their missiles and tricking them into firing on each other. The boy tried to make a dramatic entrance but instead ran straight into a missile which blew him across the chamber, landing in a crumpled heap. Jane, having just received Chris' Battle-Net message, teleported over to William.
Over at the server room, the woman got to her feet just as the air behind her ripped open and Orion accompanied by a second man stepped out. The man was Unifer, one of the world's most dangerous supervillains. He looked at Chris and Jonathon curiously with a raised eyebrow. Then he said something to Viper and the three of them entered the rip which closed behind them.
At that moment, Jane arrived carrying the badly injured Jonathon. Jacob made an "executive decision." Even if he hadn't downloaded the files they had come for, it was time to go.
18 Cyprus Drive, Bayview
Despite not having any specialist medical equipment in the lab other than a few prototypes and a first aid kid, the team decided to treat William's wounds at the house rather than risk awkward questions at a hospital. Luckily, either William was a fast healer or his wounds weren't as serious as they first appeared.
After making sure his son was okay, Jacob called a family meeting. Looking decidedly uncomfortable, he opened up the safe and took out a file. It contained a photo of a younger Jacob, a young redheaded woman holding an infant. He tells them that the woman is his wife, their mother, and that to most people, she is known as the supervillain Viper.
On that bombshell, he goes on to describe how they met in college and fell in love, how she convinced him to join her. The years followed and one-by-one, their children were born. However, supervillains attract rivals and enemies; some of whom wouldn't think twice about targeting their infant sons in order to get at the two of them. After one particularly close call, Jacob decided it was too dangerous to continue. He was unable to convince his wife to retire but was able to convince her to allow him to take the children and go into hiding. Jacob approached Overwatch, and in return for intelligence and scientific assistance, they agreed to provide him a new identity.
The revelation cost him a lot of respect, Chris basically telling his father that he no longer had the right to tell him what to do before storming out; followed soon after with a similarly disappointed Jane. William also left to go visit Stacy. Only Jonathon seemed to want to talk things out.
Jane took a surprised Chris to the stables to help him relax. On the way, he uploaded the files that he had retrieved for Ghost to the dropbox account the boy had given him.
In perhaps the most reckless move yet, William revealed his powers to Stacy by carrying her at superspeed up the coast to a secluded beach. Unfortunately, rather than impress her, this freaked her out and she none too gently told him to take her home and stay away from her.
However, in the eyes of Jacob at least (if William had actually told anyone the reason for Stacy dumping him), it was Jonathon that took the prize for most reckless action of the day. He returned home later that afternoon accompanied by Danny who was now a fully paid up sidekick. Jonathon had "borrowed" some of his dad's gadgets to provide his friend with some protection and offensive capabilities. By this point, Jacob had all but relinquished any semblance of parental responsibility and on seeing this, he simply told Jonathon that if he went through with this, in all likelihood it would end with Danny's death.
That evening, as dinner was being prepared, Jacob received a text message on his phone. "We need to talk. Come to 28.4639, -80.6647 at noon tomorrow."
Holy Revelatory Issue Batman! We had dad's confession about his supervillain past, the kids find out their mother is a supervillain and not minor one either, William reveals his secret identity to his (now ex) girlfriend and Jonathon agrees to allow his best friend become a sidekick and is forced to admit that family and Chris's friend are the new team running around town.
18 Cyprus Drive, Bayview
Given what they had discovered, Jacob decided that it was important enough to risk a call to the authorities. He called an old scientific colleague from a few years back that now worked at the FBI Laboratory in Quantico. Wanting to avoid awkward questions, Jacob played it safe. He didn't mention that he had discovered a criminal organisation had taken control of an underground supercollider. Instead, he mentioned that one of his experiments had picked up strange energy readings that could only have come from a monster-sized particle accelerator. Jacob told him that as far as anyone knew, there was no such facility anywhere near the city and he was worried that unlicensed accelerator of that size and power could potentially be very dangerous. His contact agreed and said he would make some inquiries.
As soon Jacob hung up, his contact decided to look into Jacob's report. However, before he could pick the phone, a dazed and confused expression washed over his face. He seemed to forget everything he had just discussed and went back to bed.
Meanwhile, Chris was hidden in Ghost's backpack; jostled between ammunition clips, packs of cable ties, a spare handgun, a gameboy and half a dozen candy bar wrappers. After what seemed like a lot of jumping and running, he felt the bag thump as it was dropped to the floor. He oozed out of a hole in the bottom of the bag and found himself in a dark, concrete bunker. A faded sign, lit by the dim glow of several chemical light sticks, told Chris that he was probably in an old bomb shelter. There was a makeshift bed against one wall opposite a shelving unit filled with a variety of weapons from handguns to assault rifles, and baseball bats to replica (hopefully) samurai swords. A map covered one wall with post-it notes and photos tacked to it. The sound of tearing duct tape attracted Chris' attention. Ghost was sat at a table pushed up against another wall wrapping tape around his abdomen, his back to Chris.
Still in ooze form, Chris announced his presence. Thankfully, his quick reflexes saved him from the knife thrown at him by the startled Ghost. After assuring the vigilante that he meant no harm, Chris asked him why he was down in the underground facility and what he knew of the people operating it. At first, Ghost was very cagey about what he was doing, saying he was simply looking for information and things went a little ... wrong. Chris tried to draw him out but Ghost shut him down, saying it'll have to wait until after he's passed out. Apparently, the ability to ignore pain does not extend to ignoring the effects of injuries.
True to his word, Ghost passed out. Sensing an opportunity to score some brownie points with the vigilante, and not being an insensitive jerk, Chris sent a message to Jane asking her to teleport his father over with a proper medical kit.
A few minutes later she was there with Jacob, both of them "in costume." Jacob scanned the still-masked vigilante to determine the extent of the injury and to his surprise, not only was his body was riddled with cybernetics and genetic enhancements, but he was only the same age as William; fifteen. Pushing that out of his mind, focused on treating the boy's injury. Ghost had taken a hit from a Phase Discriminator Rifle but luckily Jacob knew how to treat the cellular corrosion from the disintegration blast before it spread any deeper.
His wound treated, Ghost quickly came round. Although he was difficult to tell under the mask he wore, he was grateful for their help. This made him a little more forthcoming when Chris resumed asking questions. Ghost explained that The Armory had taken control of the facility over a month ago using an attack by "Mk 1 AAPs" as a diversion; referring to the giant robot attack that no one had claimed responsibility for. He confirmed what Jacob had suspected earlier, the Armory were using the particle accelerator that had been abandoned in the underground facility in the late 90s to create nadion particles. Furthermore, the Armory was planning on turning the facility into their North American base of operations. Chris asked Ghost what his interest in the facility was. Ghost said he had been trying to find information on a project the Armory had conducted. He also added that "the client" that Chris had some of the guards talking about while he had been sneaking around was none other than Unifer; the only Level 1 Global Threat on Overwatch's database.
Since it might take Ghost a while to recover from the wound, Chris volunteered to go recover the files on his behalf since he planned to go back down to the facility soon. After an awkwardly long pause, Ghost reluctantly agreed, telling Chris the project's name was Apex. He gave Chris a dropbox URL to send the files to, saying that he knew a friend "who can knew computers like he knew how to field strip a Mk2 XM8".
18 Cyprus Drive, Bayview
After returning home, Chris had a quick word with his two brothers, telling them that tomorrow he was going to do something very stupid, and very dangerous. They were in no uncertain terms not to follow him, and this time he meant it.
The next morning, shortly after breakfast, Chris set off to the Armory's secret base; alone.
Crater Ridge Supercollider, 600ft below ground
Repeating his earlier trick, Chris morphed into mouse-like form and infiltrated the Armory's base. He first made his way to the hangar bay when he had seen what Ghost had called "Autonomous Assault Platforms". As before, there were two completed models and two more being assembled.
With engineers swarming over the chassis of the incomplete models, there was little Chris could do to them. But he was able to sabotage the other two by flowing deep into their innards and fiddling with the wires, circuitry and microchips. With luck, his sabotage would be difficult to trace and they wouldn't notice it until they tried using the robots in combat.
His next act was to find the project files that he had promised he would retrieve for Ghost. Chris searched for the server room, following bundles of network cables fixed to the ceilings of corridors. It took him some time but he eventually found it. It was a sealed room, with a computer controlled environment to ensure optimal operating conditions for the supercomputer contained within. Heavy security prevented Chris from just opening the door, and the sealed nature prevented him from oozing around the door. The only access point was the high speed fans used by the climate control system to keep the room cool and dust free. Occasionally helping his father install such systems in the basement lab when he was younger made him familiar with such systems.
Carefully, he infiltrated the climate control system and flowed down the pipes and vents in the AC unit, approaching the high speed fans. Chris flattened himself into a sheet of liquid squeezed between the spinning blades and the vent wall; one false move could prove to be ... painful. With a combination of skill and luck, he made it through the fans and dribbled down into the server room. That was where his luck ran out; his body temperature was enough to warm the air in the room just enough to trip off the temperature sensors. Elsewhere on the base, a blinking red light in a security station alerted a guard who spotted Chris on the CCTV cameras and quickly hit the alarm.
As the alarm sounded, Chris knew to expect trouble so moved to an advantageous position in the room and bulked up in preparation for company. He heard the beep-beep of the door being unlocked by armed guards and realising that he was possibly in over his head, sent a message over Battle-Net to Jane and called in the cavalry. Three guards stormed in bearing Phase Discriminator Rifles. Chris glared at them, transformed into a 7 foot tall rock monster and roared at them.
On the far side of of the facility, Jane and the others materialised a short distance up the accelerator tunnel. Jane had intended to teleport directly to Chris' location but something had blocked her 'port. Jacob theorised that perhaps some sort of "anti-teleport" field had been activated when the alarm sounded; Jane's "matter-stream" could in theory by blocked by such a field and be forced to find an alternative materialisation point. He quickly confirmed the existence of an EM-Barrier that blocked incoming and outgoing transmissions. With no other choice, they headed in on foot. Or on Jacob's case, on wings.
Entering the facility at supersonic speeds, Jacob created a sonic shockwave which acted as a distraction. The others burst in behind, taking the advantage of the dazed personnel to quickly establish their position. Jacob went ahead, his scanners set to detect the EM Barrier's generator. William decide to sow a little chaos and confusion by using his superspeed to zip around the facility and make trouble. After making sure Jane had "got this", Jonathon phased out and began heading towards the server room, running straight through walls, following computer cables in a similar manner to what Chris had done earlier. This left Jane facing the guards and technicians in the main assembly chamber at the base of the facility.
Running around the base, William raised hell. But as he was running down one corridor, a sixth sense he didn't know he possessed warned him to duck a split second before a bullet impacted the wall beside him; missing his head by a matter of inches. He looked around a masked blond-haired man in an armoured bodysuit was pointing a smoking pistol. Their eyes met for a second then he opened fire again, sending a hail of bullets streaking down the length of the corridor to William. The boy twisted and turned, dodging around the bullets as he ran up the corridor to tackle the man. Reaching back with his fist he went to punch the man in the face but in a move almost as fast as one of Williams, the man caught the first, jammed his gun into the boy's gut and fired.
Jacob meanwhile had reached the generator for the barrier. After quickly incapacitating the two guards he went inside and shutdown the generator. He froze when something feeling very much like a gun was pressed to the back of his head and very familiar woman's voice told him to turn around slowly.
He turned to face a familiar red headed woman holding him at gunpoint. As he faced her, her eyes widened in surprise. "Honey, what are you doing here?" There was a crackle from one of the guards radios as an update on the intruders was relayed to the mercenaries. "And please tell me you didn't bring the kids."
18 Cyprus Drive, Bayview
It was a quiet friday night at the Chance house. After returning from California, Chris was having to make the difficult decision about which college to go to in the autumn. He'd all but decided to study psychology and while he could study it at Meteor City University, it was not a subject the college was known for. Jane was settling in for an early night, she had plans for tomorrow. William was vegetating on the sofa, his ankle in plaster; the day before he'd sprained his ankle pushing his superspeed. There was a special on Channel 35 on the city's new team of under-age superheroes and their armoured "guardian" and Jonathon, still grounded, was watching it in his room.
Jacob was in the basement lab, tweaking his new particle accelerator when an alarm sounded from the lab's computer system. The detectors that Jacob had installed along the rim of the crater that Meteor City was built in in order to detect anyone possessing Tel'Varen enhancements entering or leaving the city had been triggered. All of them. At the same time.
He called down the others and checked the readings which were off the scale. It seemed that a massive surge of Tel'Varen energy had struck all 26 sensors surrounding the city simultaneously. The detectors had only recorded the initial stage of the surge as the power levels had quickly risen to the point where they had to shut themselves down otherwise the sensitive sensors would've burned out.
Jacob impressed the seriousness of the situation on everyone present and suggested that they investigate the nearest detector. William wanted to come, but with his ankle in plaster Jacob thought it was too dangerous for him.
On the crater ridge, south of Bayview
With everyone except William suited up properly, Jane teleported the others to the site of the nearest of detector. It was the size of a soda with a spike on the bottom stuck into the ground and a small antenna on the top. Jacob knelt down next to the detector and plugged in a USB cable, connecting his suit's systems to that of the detector.
Analysing the readings, he discovered that the surge picked up by the detectors had not been Tel'Varen energy. It had been very close, close enough that it had tripped the sensors. Numerous theories were postulated to try and explain what had triggered every detector simultaneously. Had they been deliberately targeted by someone? Had they picked up some form of energy release emanating from the centre of the city?
Jacob reconfigured his visor to pick up any traces of the energy that the pulse might have left behind. The ground around the detector retained a slight trace of the energy and as Jacob looked around, it seemed to follow a specific path. Acting on a hunch, Jacob took to the air and followed the path, discovering it traced a ring around the city following the crater ridge. As he relayed this information to the kids, another pulse of energy was detected. With his visor already configured, Jacob could see the build up of energy as it happened. He watched as the energy seemed to well up from beneath the ground, surge for several seconds, before fading away again.
Jane suggested there might be something buried within the crater ridge itself and circling the city which might be responsible for the surging energy. Jonathon became intangible and phased down into the ground, followed soon after by Chris who liquified and soaked into the dirt.
Crater Ridge Supercollider, 600ft below ground
Jonathon and Chris emerged into a dimly lit tunnel deep below the ground. Conduits, cables and pipes ran along the wall and the tunnel stretched into the distance, curving slightly. There was no one in sight and after a quick message over the Battle-Net to Jane, she teleported herself and Jacob down. The floor of the tunnel was a metal grille under which a massive tube could be seen running down the length of the tunnel. It was ringed by heavy duty power cables, coolant lines and electromagnets. Both Chris and Jacob recognised it as a particle accelerator. Jacob performed a quick scan and ran the numbers in his head. If the tunnel indeed ringed the city, and if the accelerator ran along its entire 54 mile length, and if he was reading the energy levels of the electromagnets and the proton beams within the accelerator correctly, then it would be the largest and most powerful synchrotron ever built. At least three times the size and power of the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva.
Jacob seemed rather indignant that someone had constructed a super-powerful particle accelerator under the city and hadn't seen fit to inform him. The others seemed more concerned with the who and how. Who had built it, and how had such a massive construction operation been undertaken without anyone knowing about it.
Scans had revealed that most of the conduits lead to a large facility located several miles counterclockwise along the tunnel and the carefully headed in that direction. Along the tunnel were security cameras but luckily for everyone they were currently deactivated. It seemed that when the accelerator was active, the camera's were deactivated to protect them from the strong electromagnetic surges created by the accelerator. Despite the advanced nature of some of the systems, the tunnels themselves seemed to be decades old. It wasn't until Jacob accessed a junction box in order to permanently neutralise the cameras that a clue was found as to who had built the facility. Inside the box, on the inside of the access panel, a faded inspection log was clearly marked with the Department of Defence logo.
Chris wanted everyone to leave, fearing that they had just trespassed onto a top secret government base. But curiosity got the better of others an they pressed on.
A few hundred meters on, they heard the sound of footsteps approaching from a side corridor. Everyone moved to hide; Jacob behind a holographic camouflage field, Chris by flattening out against the wall and assuming the colour and texture of the concrete, Jane by fading into the shadows and Jonathon by attempting to phase down into the floor. However, he changed his mind at the last second, worried about what phasing into a particle accelerator would do to him. He opted instead to become invisible.
A squad of soldiers walked around the corner, apparently on routine patrol. They wore black unmarked uniforms and body armour and were armed with some form of advanced energy rifles; the design of which seemed familiar to Jacob. Unfortunately, they also were helmets with high tech sensors that picked up the four teenagers. The squad leader pointed at them and yelled "Intruders, Blast 'Em!"
They unleashed a salvo of purple energy beams at the heroes, their leader pulling the pin on an energy grenade and tossing towards them. One energy beams pierced Jacob's forcefield but Chris morphed into the path at the last microsecond and took the hit for his father. Although he was able to stomach this first hit, a second caused damage to his side when he was able to dissipate the energy. This was further complicated when Jonathon and the otherwise bright idea to use his phasing ray to cause a temporary breach in the accelerators coolant lines and spray the soldier's with liquid nitrogen. Chris was accidentally caught in the supercooled cloud of vapour and although he would normally have been able to shrug it off, the cold seemed to attack like nothing had before.
Jacob and the kids fought back and one by one the soldiers were incapacitated. The squad leader proved to be a tough opponent but he was soon down too. By this point an alarm could be heard blaring and realising that Chris may have had a point earlier, Jane evacuated everyone.
18 Cyprus Drive, Bayview
As Jane treated Chris' wounds, Jonathon revealed that he had bagged a trophy; one of the soldier's energy weapons and radio. After some arguing between Chris and Jonathon over whether they should keep them or get rid of them, Jacob stepped in and confiscated the looted equipment. He first made sure that there was no tracking or homing device on either and then started to analyse the weapon. He discovered it was Phase Discrimination Rifle. A type of disintegration weapon whose energy beam destroyed the bonds between subatomic particles. Furthermore, the beam operated on multiple "vibrational frequencies" meaning it penetrated most, if not all, forms of force field and could even affect someone who is out of phase and incorporeal. It was an extremely powerful and insidious weapon. Phase Discrimination weapons were powered by nadion particles. An extremely rare particle that can only be created within a powerful particle accelerator and since their only known use is within PD weapons, few had ever been created. Jacob calculated that an accelerator the size of the one beneath the city could provide enough nadion particles to power dozens of weapons each time its fired up.
While Jacob and the others talked, Chris decided they need more information. Uncharacteristically, he decided a one man infiltration was needed and without telling the others, headed back to the underground tunnels.
Crater Ridge Supercollider, 600ft below ground
After entering the tunnel, Chris shrank down into the form of a small mouse and began to make his through the ventilation system. He successfully made to a cavernous facility somewhere under the city that seemed to serve as a main control centre and power plant. As he explored, he saw hundreds of soldiers in unmarked uniforms along with technicians and other individuals. The facility was a hive of activity with considerable work going in establishing various manufacturing workshops and training areas. From what he could tell, whoever was running the facility was still unpacking but there was a significant amount of hardware and personnel already present.
Eavesdropping on conversations, he didn't learn the name of the organisation running the facility but he got the distinct impression that it wasn't the government, nor was it a legitimate operation. Chris heard references to "the board" and there was a lot of talk about a meeting with "the client". The more he heard, the more he was convinced that he was dealing with some sort of mercenary force. One that had substantial resources.
Venturing further into the base, he came across a hanger containing two very familiar looking giant robots. Two more robots were in various stages of construction. Before he could do anything about the discovery, alarms began to sound and the pounding of running feet could be heard. Thankfully, the soldiers ran right past the hanger. Curious, Chris decided to follow.
There was an explosion from up ahead and figure ran out of the smoke. Chris recognised him from the descriptions in the media and from his brother, it was Ghost. Sensing an opportunity, Chris leapt off the overhead pipe he was crawling along and into the vigilante's backpack.
So, I had this plan for the PCs to do some investigating in order to discover the origin of the energy setting off the detectors. It would've involved talking to contacts and doing research. What I didn't plan for is the two characters with intangibility to use their powers to search around underground and cut out the investigation phase.
After the tumultuous events of the previous two months, the Chance household, along with Jane, was starting to get used to the new routine.
Jacob had been busy on a number of projects, both personal and for clients. He had analysed parts of the giant robots that had attacked the city last month and although he'd made progress on reverse-engineering the technology, it had brought him no closer to identifying who might have sent them. No credible claim of responsibility had been received by the authorities so they were in the dark too. Jacob had also found time to create costumes based on the specifications provided by each of the kids.
With graduation fast approaching, Chris had focused on his school work and had been visiting various college campuses around the country. Chris was also getting a little more respect from brothers. They may not always show it, but they now appreciated how much effort he put into taking care of the family.
Jane's mother had gotten a new consulting job that required her to spend the next few months overseas. Since there were only a few weeks to go until the end of the school year, Jane had decided to stay in Meteor City rather than go with her mother or go live with her father in Boston for the summer. Chris had convinced Jacob to let Jane stay in the guest room and once that was sorted everyone was happy.
As for William and Jonathon? After hooking up with Stacy Newman during the school trip, she and Jonathon had been going out for nearly a month now. And William, he'd quietened down at school; Which was always a cause for concern.
18 Cyprus Drive, Bayview
Downstairs, in his basement lab complex, Jacob was talking via videolink with Doctor Marshall, the scientist he had met in New Atlantis. Over the last couple of weeks, Jacob had worked with Doctor Marshall in perfecting a sensor array to detect Tel'Varen energy signatures that Overwatch planned to install on board one of their Deep Space Security Satellites (or DS3's). Doctor Marshall was currently aboard the Lighthouse, Overwatch's orbiting space station, where he was overseeing the deployment of the satellite and ensuring it functioned properly.
The first results were coming in from the satellite. They were vague and unable to pinpoint exact locations, only general vicinities to within a few miles. Of course, from more than 400 miles up, that was the best they were going to get. The results were still extremely preliminary but Doctor Marshall joked that Jacob might want to put off any vacation plans in the North East of the US for the time being. Hotspots had been detected in Arlington, Langley and central DC. Smaller readings had been picked in Nevada and Montana. They couldn't tell whether this readings were from one very active and mobile individual, or from a small network of Tel'Varen operatives. The only way to be sure was to put boots on the ground with handheld scanners. Something that would be very difficult since Overwatch had no jurisdiction in the US and relations between Overwatch and their US counterparts were cool at best. Jacob agreed this was a worrying development.
Chris was away again this week. This time he was visiting UCLA and CalTech. His brothers had joked the only way he could go to college any further away was to go the University of Hawaii. With graduation just a few short weeks away, it would soon crunch time for making a decision about where he wanted to go to college.
William was at a "study night" with at Stacy's.
And Jonathon? Well...
Ridge Gap, West Meteor City
Jonathon was several miles away, in a part of town that he had been specifically forbidden to go to. Eager for some action, he had gone to The Gap to go on patrol, hoping to find some drug dealers or gang members. Ever since finding out about Jonathon's powers, Danny had begged Jonathon to take him along on one of his "patrols." Tonight, Jonathon had relented and he'd brought Danny along.
It didn't take them long to find someone; a pair of gang members loitering suspiciously and who appeared to be dealing drugs named Paco and Travis.
With no preamble and no discussion, and wearing the new "Slider" costume, Jonathon walked up behind the two men, tapped one on the shoulder and punched Travis in the face. The man pulled out a large handgun (Desert Eagle, so more of a hand cannon really) and tried to pistol whip him, yelling at the "stupid punk." Jonathon was too quick for him and evaded his strike and one by Paco who wielded a microuzi.
Over the last month, the "Battle-Net" that established itself between the Chance brothers and Jane and evolved to the point where voice communication was now possible. Jonathon took the opportunity to send a quick message to Jane and William about what was going on but said he didn't need any help.
Jonathon again punched the pistol wielder, this time using his invisibility to disappear and reappear around the man, attacking from multiple sides. This prompted a yell of "He's a super!" from the pistol wielder who decided to take the gloves off by shooting at Jonathon who nimbly dodged the bullet. Paco took a step back and aimed his weapon at Jonathon and as soon as his Jonathon stepped clear of Travis, he unleashed a spray of bullets. With a smirk, Jonathon quickly became incorporeal and the bullets passed straight through him. The smirk quickly disappeared when he heard a pained cry from behind him.
Unknown to Jonathon, Danny had been standing about 10 feet behind him and had been clipped by one of the bullets. Jonathon was struck by the horror of the realisation that by showing off in front of Danny, it was his fault that his best friend had gotten hurt. Paco realised this and deliberately aimed another spray of bullets at Danny. Jonathon jumped in front of the spray and managed to phase the bullets long enough so that they passed harmlessly through the two of them and impact on the wall behind them.
In retaliation, Jonathon decked the guy, knocking him to the floor but this left Danny unprotected; something which Travis took advantage of. He grabbed the boy and shoved his pistol against the boy's head.
With his best friend injured and now a hostage, Jonathon finally admitted that he was in over his head. He sent another message to Jane and William; this time asking for help. William assumed his younger brother was up to his old tricks and ignored him but Jane, either believing him or not wanting to take the chance, said she was on her way.
In the meantime, Jonathon tried to save Danny. Ignoring Travis's threats, Jonathon leapt forward. Before the man could fire, he grabbed Danny and phased them both, his momentum carrying them both through the man and onto the pavement behind.
Jane appeared, took one look at the situation, grabbed both Danny and Jonathon and teleported away.
18 Cyprus Drive, Bayview
They reappeared in the basement lab. Forewarned by Jane before she had gone to retrieve the boys, Jacob was ready with the medical kit. Glaring at Jonathon, he set about treating Danny's wound; the painkiller leaving the boy in a slightly drugged state while Jacob extracted the bullet and used an experimental dermal regenerator to repair the damaged flesh.
Danny didn't seem to mind having been shot and described the whole sequence of events as "awesome" with a goofy grin. Although this could have been the drugs talking. He was distressed though that Jacob's treatment resulted in no scarring.
After making sure Danny was fine, Jacob turned to Jonathon. He was furious, absolutely furious. Not just because he had been a part of town that he was forbidden to go to, but because he'd got Danny injured. Jonathon was used to getting lectured by Chris, but being on the end of a tongue lashing from his father was a new experience. Jacob was extremely disappointed stating that "the one thing your mother and I learnt is that you don't get normals involved in super battles." This was the first time that Jonathon could remember his father ever mentioning his mother.
After interrogating Jonathon and making sure he had all the details, Jacob grounded his son and when a genius-level mad scientists grounds their son, they do it with force fields.
At this point, William arrived home to see Jonathon go upstairs to his room, followed a few minutes later by his father carrying a portable force field generator. Jane came upstairs from the basement, helping a slightly giddy Danny. She explained what had happened with Danny and Jonathon and that she was going to walk him home.
William watched her leave feeling more than a little guilty now at ignoring his brother's messages earlier. Jacob came downstairs shortly after Jane had left carrying the briefcase that WIlliam knew contained Jacob's battle gear. He decided to follow his father as he made his way towards the part of town that Jonathon and Danny had been patrolling.
Ridge Gap, West Meteor City
Using the description provided by Jonathon, Jacob managed to find the two gang members that his son had tried to fight sitting on the bonnet of a car a few blocks away from where Danny had been shot. Just like his son, Jacob decided not to waste time and immediately went on the attack. From up in the air, he blasted the car, almost demolishing the vehicle, and landing in the smoking wreckage.
Neither gang member was injured in the attack but Paco was left in shock by the sudden destruction and the appearance of the armoured superhero, wreathed in smoke and flickering flames. Travis was able to recover his senses long enough to draw his pistol let off a few rounds. They impacted on Jacob's force field which was barely able to stop them in time.
William had arrived was watching the scene from the shadows, not wanting to let his father know that he had followed him. To his surprise, he recognised the two gang members. He'd fought them back at the start of May alongside the vigilante Ghost. William thought they had been arrested but they must have got out on bail or something. Although he was initially content to just stand back and watch, seeing the gang member's bullets almost pierce his father's force field spurred him into action. Pushing his super speed as fast as he could, he darted towards the fight and relieved Travis of his weapon, retreating back to the shadows before Jacob could note his presence.
Travis wasn't deterred, he reached down and plucked the uzi out of the still stunned Paco's grip and tried to bring it to bear on Jacob. Jacob smashed it out of the man's hands using an engine part. He grabbed Travis and slammed him against the wall. "You hurt my boy," he hissed, "you hurt his friend." Jacob proceeded to put the fear of God into the man, intimidating him into a gibbering wreck. He left the Travis cowering on the floor, promising to never get involved with crime ever again.
As he watched Jacob fly off, more than a little intimidated by the anger displayed by his father, William was startled by the sound of crunching behind him. He turned to find Ghost hanging one handed from a fire escape while eating an apple, watching the entire scene.
This session almost didn't happen. I had zero plot when I sat down at the table and the first twenty minutes are so where very rocky as I struggled to come up with an idea. I tell I lie, I did have one idea. That it would take place in late June giving some breathing room for metaplot stuff to have progressed between Volume 1 and Volume 2. But that's literally all I had.
Thankfully, things seem to come together though with the plot involving Jonathon and Daniel, as well as the way Jacob's player responded to it.
"This is the Emergency Broadcast System, a Civilian Emergency has been declared for central and north Meteor City. Citizens in Midtown and Impact Point are urged to follow Evacuation Routes A and D. The I95 Exit for the National Space Launch Facility north of Jefferson is closed. If you are in an affected area and are unable evacuate, follow signs to the nearest Civil Defence Shelter."
18 Cyprus Drive, Bayview
Jonathon's best friend Danny saw him use his intangibility powers during the gas station robbery. He dropped this bombshell as soon as they got back to Jonathan's house. Called in from the kitchen, Chris immediately tried to deal with the situation applying all his persuasive abilities. Unfortunately, Danny was a Stubborn and Rebellious Teenager, just like Chris' younger brothers.
Danny was adamant however the he saw what he saw. Chris tried to convince him that the stress of the situation made him see things that didn't really happen while Jonathon tried to make light of the situation. However, being Jonathon's friend, Danny was used to hijinks and mischief and new when he was being lied too; having done enough of it himself.
The stress of the situation, along with the pressure of the last couple of weeks, got too much and he threw his hands up in exasperation, stating "this is your problem" to Jonathon, and stormed off upstairs. Realising that there was little he could do to convince Danny that he was mistaken, Jonathon decided to change tactics. He admitted that he had powers but by a judicious use of nightmare scenarios involving black vans, basement labs and nazi-esque mad scientists, he managed to convince Danny to keep the fact that Jonathon had superpowers from everyone.
Danny, being his best friend, agreed to keep the secret. He did point out that having superpowers did open up a whole new world of possibilities. For example, there was the big math test next week...
18 Cyprus Drive, Bayview
The next morning, Jonathon got up early. William was due home from the school field trip that morning and Jonathon wanted to be awake before then. Not to welcome his brother home, but to set up a prank; the classic bucket of water above a door.
Dropped off at the end of the road by the school bus, William arrived home just before his father who had flown back to Meteor City that morning having finished briefing Overwatch representatives on his findings. He stepped out of the taxi just in time to see his middle son take a bucket of water to the head and hear Jonathon's laughter from inside.
At around the same time, Jane teleported into the living room. After exchanging pleasantries with everyone she asked where Chris was. It was at this point that Jonathon realised that there had been no breakfast waiting for him this morning. He went upstairs and checked Chris's room but the bed hadn't been slept in. Concerned that it appeared that Chris had been out all night and had not come home, Jane rang his mobile.
Chris answered after a couple of rings. It turned out he'd spent most of the night up on the crater ridge the dominated the city's skyline doing some deep thinking about the situation and his role in the family. Afterwards, he had come home in the early hours of the morning to pick up his school work and had then gone to the library at MCU to study. Jane teleported to a discrete location nearby and the two of them had a heart to heart talk about the situation. He was feeling put upon and under pressure, Chris was tired of having to be the "responsible adult" of the family and taking care of everyone else. Jane suggested he "take a week off," let his father and his brother's fend for themselves. Either they'll learn to take care of themselves or they'll learn to show some appreciation.
That evening, over dinner, Chris broke the news of his plan. Reaction was muted. This was probably due to the fact that Jacob also took the opportunity to reveal that the Tel'Varen device had been stolen tell them what he had learned about the Tel'Varen Empire and the alien that had brought the device to Earth. He suspected that whoever the fifth subject was, he or she was the one responsible for ambushing the Overwatch convoy and stealing the device. Furthermore, there was a strong possibility that the Subject 5 (as they had taken to calling him/her) knew how to use the device to its full potential.
Jacob felt it was imperative that they track down Subject 5 as soon as possible. He already had a way to track down the unique energy signature left behind when anyone modified by the Tel'Varen device used their powers. Using hand held scanners, William, Jane and Jacob tracked a trail of energy leading away from the ambush site westwards towards Orlando. The lost trail as it approached the city's airport. Not sure what to do about this, Jacob decided to create a network of scanners mounted along the crater rim surrounding Meteor City. With luck, this should alert them to anyone entering the city while using Tel'Varen-sourced powers.
18 Cyprus Drive, Bayview
Working hard throughout most of the week, Jacob had finally completed a project that he had been pursuing ever since he discovered what had happened to the kids and the existence of a fifth enhanced subject. Although he already had a way to detect Tel'Varen enhanced individuals, the method would also detect the kids. Overwatch had asked for a way to scan for such individuals but Jacob didn't want to give them the capability to track his kids. After a week of work, he'd finally found a way to prevent such a possibility. He passed the revised specs to Overwatch and the same time, he sent an email to Ion Fist in Australia asking him about the alien that had brought the Tel'Varen devices to Earth.
At around midday, the communications equipment in the lab picked up a flurry of panicked chatter on channels used by police and the emergency services. Something significant was happening in the centre of the city.
Chris was spending his lunch tutoring some of the younger students who needed a little extra help with the lessons. Whilst he was helping an eighth-grader with his algebra, he overheard two boys in the library whispering about something. He recognised the one doing the whispering as Jason Reyes, the 16-year-old son of Meteor City's Police Chief. Jason mentioned how he'd overheard his mum "chewing out some army guy" over some DARPA aerial drones that had been overflying the city the last few days without notifying any of the city authorities. Chris, whilst still on break, realised this was potentially important so he sent a message to his father about it.
In the cafeteria, William was trying to enjoy a quiet moment with Stacy Newman, the girl he had met on the field trip. However, his younger brother seemed to take great pleasure in tormenting him from a few tables over.
And Jane was in the school gym, practicing with the gymnastics team.
At around the same time, the cellphones of the students around began to beep and buzz and ring as breaking news began to spread through the social networks. En masse, the students began to make their way to the school roof where they could get a good view of the city centre across the bay.
Plumes of smoke could be seen rising from specific locations. One in Impact Point, and another in Midtown. Far across the city, on the other side of the crater ridge, another plume could be seen. As the news filtered in over the airwaves, it became clear what was happened. Four machines of unknown construction had risen out of the water and begun to attack targets on the land.
The military was bogged down trying to fight the two machines that launched a combined attack on the National Space Launch Facility and neighbouring Meteor City AFB. The other two were attacking civilian targets in the city centre. Realising the seriousness of the situation, the kids decided to split up, Jane teleporting William and Jonathon to Midtown before she teleported Chris and herself to Impact Point.
Jacob was the first on the scene. What could only be described as a giant robot was attacking Federal Plaza. The armoured plating and computer guided weapon systems made fighting the robot tough work and Jacob focused on trying to bring it down by targeting its legs. He was soon joined by Chris and Jane. Chris at first tried to assist his father by forming tentacles and trying to wrap up the robot's legs but the robot countered by blasting at him with bullets and missiles.
Jane tried a different tactic. At first she tried to find a weak spot in the armour, then she tried to find out if there was a space for a pilot inside. When both of these tactics didn't work, she began targeting the robot's sensors in attempt to blind it.
Meanwhile, at the Millennium Mall, William and Jonathon were fighting their own robot. Most of the civilians inside the mall had been evacuated at this point, but this didn't stop it from attacking the mall.
William, in a rash move, pulled a Legolas and tried to attack it by climbing on top of the robot. Although the robot shook him off, he was able to destabilise it. He compounded the robot's problems by using his super speed to try and confuse the robot's targeting sensors.
Somehow, Jonathon had convinced Jane to bring Danny along and Jonathon made sure his friend had a safe vantage point from which to watch (and film on his mobile). After this, he turned to face the robot. Although a skilled martial artist for his age, kung fu and judo wouldn't help him against a giant robot and his superpowers were not exactly offensive in nature ... unless. He grabbed a chunk of masonry, using his powers to reduce its density and thus its weight, and threw the incorporeal block at one of the robot's legs; releasing his control over the chunk's density as it passed through the leg. Jonathon repeated this again and again as William distracted it.
Unable to hit the superspeedster or the phaser, the robot unleashed a torrent of missiles on Millenium Mall, collapsing its roof. Thankfully, the damaged part had been evacuated and no one was injured. This was the robot's last gasp as the combined efforts of Jonathon and William successfully disabled its legs and then shut it down.
While Jonathon went over to Danny, William set off for Impact Point.
With its sensors and targeting systems compromised, the robot was having trouble fighting back. It "chased" Jane into an alleyway but despite hanging off the side of a building, it was unable to target her.
Chris by this point had had enough. He grew to enormous size, becoming as large as a building and proceeded to pummel the robot into submission.
William arrived just in time to see his older brother lay the smackdown on the giant robot.
So, Danny at the giant robot fight. During the session it made perfect sense for Jonathon to have him tag along and no one raised an eyebrow over it. However, what we didn't think about at the time was. How had he gotten there? Did Jane teleport him? If she did, how did she do it without revealing that everyone else had powers because at this point, the only person that Danny knew had superpowers was his best friend. These are things which should've been thought about at the time but there you go.
I was also glad that the PCs split up to fight the robots. Although they were tough, if they had focused on one, they would probably have made short work of it.
This also marks the end of Volume 1, with Volume 2 starting next week. I'm basically treating Volumes like Events. At the end of a Volume, any unspent XP is lost (although anything bought with XP remains). Also, XP can be traded between players. I've added that little tidbit because PCs might find themselves with an odd XP or three that would otherwise be lost. By trading them, it encourages people to buy unlockables which in many ways, benefit the entire group. At least, that's the theory.
18 Cyprus Drive, Bayview
Because of the theft of the Tel'Varen device, Overwatch wanted Jacob to come and brief one of their researchers on his findings in person. They had offered to put up him and his kids up over the weekend since it might take a few days but Jacob, more than a little paranoid, didn't want his kids anywhere near Overwatch. Besides, Chris was 17, he was more than old enough to look after his younger brothers for a couple of days. Plus, William was due to go away on a school trip until Sunday. He decided that he could afford to leave them on their own for a couple of days.
Early on Friday morning, as William was rushing to get to school early to get there in time for his field trip, there was a knock on the door. Agent Zaya Nassar of Overwatch Security, also known as Shimmer, had arrived to collect him. This time there was no undercover vehicles or armed escort. Given what had happened last time, Overwatch had decided to go for a more low key approach. Instead, she had arrived in a rental car plastered with the rental company's logo.
A short ride through the city's morning traffic and they arrived at the landing jetties in Impact Point. Moored at one of the commercial jetties was a small aquaplane, an advanced jet powered version of an ekranoplan. It was a small ten seater vehicle but for this trip there was only Jacob and Zaya onboard and Zaya was also serving as pilot on this trip. She told Jacob that it take a couple of hours to get to their destination, weather permitting, so he should just sit back and relax.
Back at the house, Chris had roused Jonathon in time for breakfast. He made a deal with his younger brother, if Jonathon stayed in school for all his lessons and stayed out of trouble then he'd spring for a monster movie marathon that evening.
UN Overwatch Xenoresearch Facility, New Atlantis
As they neared their destination, Zaya advised Jacob to buckle up in preparation for submergence. During their journey, he had spent his time redesigning the aquaplane to improve performance and efficiency. So he was not that surprised when a few miles out from New Atlantis, Zaya cut power to the engines, sealed the air intakes and brought the vehicle into a shallow dive. The aquaplane dropped from its 10m flight altitude and neatly sliced into the water.
Zaya piloted the aquaplane towards an airlock near the base of the floating metropolis. She explained the to Jacob about New Atlantis' rather draconian privacy laws. A register was maintained of individuals who did not wish to be photographed or videoed. This was enforced by maintaining strict control over electronic devices equipped with cameras. Visitors to the city had to temporarily turn over any cellphone, tablet or laptop equipped with a camera upon entry. These devices were then linked to New Atlantis' citywide datanet and could be accessed by an omnicom issued to visitors during their stay. Jacob was understandably concerned about the secrecy of the data on his computer but Zaya assured him that all traffic on the datanet is encrypted and the only person that can access data stored on the devices he handed over would be him.
After passing through Customs, Jacob is introduced to Doctor Marshall, the head researcher at the OXR. Jacob immediately begins to lay out his findings in regards to the Tel'Varen device. Over the next few hours, Jacob discovers that the device wasn't the only one existence. Two others were recovered from an alien ship which crash landed in Australia six months previously. Interestingly, the vessel they were recovered from was not a Tel'Varen ship but belonged to an unknown alien race.
18 Cyprus Drive, Bayview
After school, Chris was pleased to learn that Jonathon had kept his end of the bargain and was all too willing to deliver his end as well. Jane declined to participate and instead went home, leaving the two boys to enjoy watching monster movies into the early hours.
UN Overwatch Xenoresearch Facility, New Atlantis
After an early start, Doctors Chance and Marshall began to investigate the alien wreckage. The technology used in the ship was not only far advance of human technology, but far in advance of the Tel'Varen as well. Jacob wanted to know what Tel'Varen technology was doing aboard the ship and where it had come from. Together with Doctor Marshall, he started to work on recovering any data from the damaged memory banks.
Chris woke up to find himself alone. After a quick phone call to Jonathon, he decided to take advantage of the peace and quiet; lounging on the sofa with a book. Jane meanwhile was enjoying a weekend with her father who had managed to keep his weekend clear for once.
Jonathon had decided to spend the day the mall with his friends and after a few hours generally being a normal kid, he headed home, accompanied by his friend Danny. They stopped off at a gas station a few blocks away from their neighbourhood where Jonathon talked Danny into distracting the college student behind the counter while he pocketed some magazines from the top shelf.
Before he could complete the dastardly deed, a yell from the front of the store attracted his attention. A masked youth with a gun was attempting to hold up the gas station. Thinking quickly, he sent a brief message over the Battle-Net to the others, informing them of what was going on. The response he got from William was short and to the point. "Awesome, have fun. I got to second base with Stacy Newman." Chris merely sighed and said he was on his way.
Not waiting around, Jonathon moved in to try and disarm the would be robber. In civilian clothes, and in the presence of witnesses, he was forced to conceal as much of his abilities as possible; relying on misdirection and trickery to cover up the use of superpowers. He successfully disarmed the robber but the youth was not going to go quietly. Using various items grabbed from shelves, he tried to bludgeon Jonathon.
Outside, Chris had arrived. As soon as he had received the text from his brother he had gone out into the garden, grown some wings and flew to the gas station. Rather than bursting in, he decided to stay outside and only come in if it looked like his brother needed help. It was at this point he saw two more masked and hooded youths sitting in a car around the corner with its engine running. Identifying a potential getaway vehicle, he dropped down onto the vehicle and flattened out his form to wrap around the doors and windows, preventing escape. The air vents provided him access into the interior and he quickly subdued one and enveloped the other, plucking him out of the vehicle and flying up into the air. The robber tried to shoot his way out but was soon overcome by lack of oxygen and passed out. Chris gently lowered him back to the ground.
Jonathon by this point had successfully wrapped the robber inside the gas station with cling film, trapping his arms. After a number of unsuccessful attempts to headbutt Jonathon, the robber succeeded only in knocking himself out.
Seeing that his brother had subdued the robber, Chris returned home. He soon joined by Jonathon and his friend Danny who seemed to be in shock over the whole incident. When Chris went into the kitchen to fix some drinks, Danny turned to Jonathon. "How did you do that? I saw it, that guy ran straight through you."