RPG Library

Night City(10): Enter Oberon

(Adaptor)

Journal Entry #1: Impressions

I am keeping this journal in order to sort out my thoughts about my experiences as a member of Vanguard. It is oerhaps presumptuous of me to hope that they may be of interest to others later, but that may be as well. In any case, if I anything should happen to me, I would ask that these words be passed along to Ron, my mentor and inspiration.

The first mission of Vanguard was less than successful. I am dictating this in the few moments we have before preparing for our second mission. It is a very diffrent team that we will field against Miles Needleman, the unfortunate child who has almost certainly involved himself in affairs far beyond his ability to control...

As El Langosto learned only too quickly. He did not deal at all well with the death of the young girl. I believe that we will not see him again. Of all of us, he seemed the least ready for this; the least prepared for the possiblity of failure, of death. Hopefully it has not broken him; that would be the worst tragedy of that entire terrible evening. What a waste it would be...

I have only been able to observe my other comrades to a limited extent; Emerald seemed capable, affable, and genuinely empathetic; she seemed to step very naturally into the role of leader at the prison; her incapacitation has left a void that has the rest of us floundering a bit. One wonders how she might have handled Dr. Redgraves transformation and announcement about her new role...

And Dr. Redgrave herself seems the opposite of everything Emerald showed promise of being. Antagonistic, easily goaded, unsure of herself. She is used to being an administrator, I fear. My personal theory is that she lost someone very close to her when Vanguard was killed. Who it was, I'm uncertain of, but she seems driven in an altogether unhealthy way, and I fear her instability may lead to further difficulties on this mission.

And if Arachne and Emerald are opposites, then I may say that Glimmer seems to be my own opposite. She is not without a certain youthful exuberance, but I find her bluster and desire to rush headlong into situations unsettling in the extreme. She also seems to be desperate to prove her worth. Her desire to share in our 'adventures' while attempting to absolve herself of the responsibility that actual membership in the group carries is an indication of her youth. Her reticence about 'revealing' too much of herself often seems overcome by her desire to show us what she can do, two mutually exclusive (one might think...) goals. But she is certainly powerful in a way the rest of us are not. I hope that she will be tempered with age, because she has potential to be a valuable team member.

Britestar has said little. He seems young, but posesses a quiet maturity that I find reassuring. He used his power very effectivelty at the prison. I will need time to form a more definite opinion of him.

Krane seems to be the most stoic of us (excluding perhaps myself;I am not unaware that my penchant for irony can be mistaken for lack of humor...). I am a skeptic when it comes to mysticism, but in this universe, one can never discount anything. He seems to take his role as the 'placator' very seriously. He is probably in tune with his environment in a very active way that the rest of us (including me) are not. He also seems to be a reactor, as I am. I find him an intriguing individual, but I am fairly certain that he will reamin aloof for quite some time, until he is sure we can be trusted...

Kakker is a tinkerer, it would seem. Vanguard will be well-served by someone with his mechanical expertise. I think he enjoys surprising us with his 'bag if tricks'. He seems an amiable enough man, but I really do not know him well enough yet to have a concrete opinion.

And finally, Prism. It would seem that if I have anyine who I may consider a 'friend' among the ranks of Vanguard, it is he. Certainly we have all only served together a few days, so it would be naive to speculate on the course of possible friendships, but the discussion we had last night about the merits of this cause we serve definately touched something in me. It is a feeling I have all to rarely these days: that someone is (however slightly) in tune with me, with what I have become. We are kindred in a way, forced to relinquish what we have known (and perhaps, loved?) because of unforseen events in our lives. And despite his attempts to brush off his choice to come here, I believe... No, KNOW that he feels the call of the same duty I do, though its form may be different (as it probably is for all of us...). He could have chosen to let his new abilities be an excuse; he chose instead to let them be a reason. I hope that I may help him to value the gifts he has received; he has certainly paid a high price for them...

And of course, my constant 'teammate'. What is your plan for me in all of this? I'm not sure I really need to know any more. The furtur holds something for me once more; the promise of something besides running, perhaps even a home, for the first time in many months. And Ron, if you ever read this, I now know. Why you kept at this for so many years despite all that it cost you. Thank you for putting me on this path.


Krane watches Kakker's manipulations on the computer equipment. He understands what's going on (or at least the intent) and when the map appears he smiles.

"Well at least we know where the big robot would probably lead us and the good news is we can check the place out before the noon deadline. If it would happen to be a bust we can always try to make it back for the money drop.

"I say we head out now, we can discuss plans on the way."


Well, a real woman of mystery would wait until nobody was looking then desolidify backwards through the wall. Which is what Glimmer will do. Then from the safety of the next room she'll shoot through the ceiling into the hall outside Lyle's room, then -- when the moment is right -- into the suitcase.

Hey, this mystery woman business is hard work!


Anyone expecting a reply from Glimmer is sure to be disappointed, since the spot she occupied a moment ago is now empty. The woman in white has left the room.


[The scene opens as Lyle is in his room, packing a suitcase. Moments ago he had quietly excused himself from the assembly of heroes. He has every reason to think that his current actions are unobserved. But are they?]

Lyle drops a load of clothes in his suitcase, turns to the left, rummages through a drawer, turns to the right...and finds Glimmer sitting cross-legged in his suitcase.

"did you remember to pack everything you need?" she inquires.

Lyle stops, his hands full of folded shirts. He gives Glimer a stern but wary look.

"Glimmer, get off my bed. Please get out of my room."

Glimmer tries to reply, no doubt with her usual panache, but Lyle cuts her off. "No, get out of my room. Now. Please."

"look, if you're worried that i'm going to try to talk you out of leaving, don't give it another thought. i'll even help you pack. i've got too much respect for your intelligence to think that i could change your mind. and i'm not sure i'd want to, anyway."

Glimmer tries to hop out of the suitcase and finds the feat to be more difficult than she'd thought. She attempts to maintain her dignity as she rises, slowly and awkwardly.

"in fact, that's the reason i barged in. i want to ask you for some advice. i was planning on asking later tonight, but all things considered i figured i'd better ask you before you got your bags packed."

She manages to get into a shaky, half-standing position for an instant or two and extends a white-gloved hand toward Lyle.

"hey, could you help me out, here? i promise i won't bite. and i'll show you how to pack your silks so they won't wrinkle."

Lyle doesn't move toward Glimmer or the suitcase. In fact, his back stiffens a bit, and he moves slightly away.

"I'm going to ask you one more time," he says coldly. He seems offended, but that feeling seems to be slowly edging toward anger. "You can ask me questions later, if you want. I'm not going far. But this is my room, and I didn't invite you in. Get. Out."

Glimmer manages her way out of the suitcase.

"well, that's the way it is, then. i'm assuming you don't want me to mention this to the others, so my lips are sealed."

As she walks toward the door, she turns abruptly to add an afterthought.

"pal, you'd better be telling the truth about me being able to ask you my question, later. 'cause my respect for your opinion just increased another notch."

Then, just as soon as she can figure out how the doors in this place open, she leaves the room and walks her way back to the heroes.


So, is Glimmer back with the party, or are we waiting to see if anyone else has something to say in her absence?

BTW, I enjoyed Glimmer's chat with Lyle, even though it didn't go very well from Glimmer's perspective. She probably got into the hall, out of sight, and hit her forehead with a fist. "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" She was really hoping for a longer conversation with a more enjoyable conclusion. OTOH, she is the -last- person who'd talk anyone out of running away from home. True, her own life hasn't turned out the way she wanted it to when she fled the family, but even with all the disasters she thinks she's better off than she'd be back on the farm.


Adaptor nods at the suggerstion they plan while moving. He stands and starts to head for the door...

As he's about to step out, he stops suddenly, as if something has just occurred to him and wheels on one bare heel and asks the octopedal Dr. Redgrave (in that maddeningly deadpan voice again...),

"Arachne, will we be using the same vehicles as last night? I think it might be imprudent of us to travel the freeway in our costumes..." He pauses, looking around the room of VERY unusual commuters for emphasis...

Britestar adds, "I can fly over to West Covina and scout the area. If I find Needleman I'll let you know."

Kakker edges over to Prism. He asks _sotto voce_, "What do you make of the new Dr. Redgrave?" and eyes the finish on the fearsome tentaclaws.

"Well," Prism replies with quiet voice and deadpan face, "we could probably make a nice jungle gym, a couple of blenders, maybe even a domed stadium if we worked at it...

"Seriously, though, I think we're gonna have to watch her as closely as the bad guys. She's not altogether okay, I think."


(Kakker)

While I'm subtly feeling out Prism's sentiments wrt Arachne, I'll read the mysterious email. What's it say?

p.s. Do her ears look any different? Recent post-op congestion or anything like that?


FROM: Lyle.H@vanguard.com TO: V.Kakker@cpsr.org SUBJ: Vanguard

Yours is the only e-mail address I know of the new team members. I'm taking a hiatus from the team; I'm not handling the stress very well, and I'm not so sure Carlotta is, either.

The Zarathustra project was a joint project between her and Modulator, the goal of which was to make his armor more efficient by incorporating many of the controls of the armor itself into the biology of the wearer. They had just started testing the organic control systems when Jason died, but Carlotta wasn't satisfied with that. She underwent the procedure, using components she designed since Jason's death to take the place of the chips that Jason designed but had not yet given to Carlotta.

I'm afraid for her. I think she's let her grief over Jason and her determination to continue the team drive her into taking an unnecessary risk. The Zarathustra procedure could have unknown effects on her body and her mind -- we never had the chance to field test the components that replaced Jason's designs.

I think Carlotta might be dangerous. Since the death of the team, she's been acting strange, more suspicious, more aggressive. Now that she's done this to herself, I'm not sure she even realizes that her behavior is odd. And if the way she talked to me before the operation is any indication, she's not going to take any criticism of her behavior well. Be careful.

I'm going to stay with some friends for a while. Here's the phone number, in case you need me. Please don't give this to Carlotta. In fact, I'd appreciate it if you'd keep it to yourself for now. You and Stacy are the only members of Vanguard that I halfway trust now.

Lyle Hawthorn


Actually, she has gold armor that extends across her forehead, down her temples, and back over her ears. You can't actually see her ears.

Post-op congestion? Is there something specific you mean by that?


Arachne nods her head in agreement with the various suggestions.

"Very well; we have a plan. Britestar will go ahead to West Covina and scout the area as inconspicuously as he can. The rest of us will meet him there. As for traveling in our respective uniforms, the team vehicle is in the same state of disassembly that it was in last night. Perhaps when he has time, Kakker can get it running again. It's not my area of specialty, but I'll give him all the help I can."

"In the meantime, I have an idea. I'll call the mayor and request a city bus. I think we can reasonably expect the city to cooperate with us in that. It'll carry all of us comfortably, and the shaded windows will conceal us from prying eyes."

Dr. Redgrave seems pretty pleased with this idea. Her eyes sparkle with it.

"If no one has any further comments...?" Dr. Redgrave pauses almost long enough for someone else to speak up, then nods. "Britestar, get moving. Make sure you keep in touch with us. We don't want you disappearing on us. Lyle will monitor you and coordinate your movements with ours. The rest of you, get ready: as soon as we have the bus, we'll need to move. We don't have time to waste."

As she speaks, one of her tentacles reaches across the room to the wall-mounted cordless phone. Another silver tentacle rapidly taps a series of numbers, and the first tentacle brings the phone up to the doctor's gold-armored temple.

[Note: Dr. Redgrave has gold armor that extends across her forehead, down her temples, and back over her ears. You can't actually see her ears. The armor doesn't appear to cover the back or top of her head.]


(Kakker)

My worst suspicions are confirmed. She's broken the "never experiment on yourself" rule.

>> Post-op congestion? Is there something specific you mean by that?

I was afraid that she might have installed bionic ears, and didn't want Kakker to be overheard speculating about her.

Well, in light of this news, Kakker will definitely plan on needing to take anti-Arachne countermeasures at some future date. He begins silently noodling out the details, dipole antenna equivalent of spinal length, plus a fractal archetecture covering all simple fractions thereof ad infinitum, etc. Good thing there's an immediate reason to gear up.


Kakker speaks, saying, "I would like to confirm this location before notifying the police. We should prepare to travel there in any case, but is there a more immediate method to survey the site? Glimmer?" Seeing that she is not present, Kakker looks over to another teammember. "Hmm, then Britestar? How long would it take you to gain a vantage point above the storm in reasonable saftey?"


Glimmer re-enters the meeting room (the normal way, through the door).


"Allright! I'm ready to go. I'll report back if I find something."

Britestar will hustle out of vanguard and fly to West Covina. If there are some protesters outside vanguard he will give them a friendly wave as he goes by.


Krane is ready to hop on the bus and head to the site as soon as it is ready. Time is of the essence (in case the location turns out to be a wild goose chase).

As Britestar rockets off, Krane speaks into his communicator, "Britestar, keep in constant contact with us as you approach the site. Try to describe things as much as you can. . . and be careful."

"it sounds like your plans are coming together," says Glimmer. "for my part, i'd like to hang in the background, observing but unobserved.

"i can get aboard the bus without the crowd seeing me and i'll sneak off in the same manner when we're close to our destiniation. loan me one of your communication gadgets and i'll be able to relay my findings to you.

"i'll let you know if i spot any robots, weather machines or one-armed maniacs.

"there's a risk, of course, that needleman will be monitoring your comm channel. i'm not sure whether he can or not. it seemed that grendel was unable to do so yesterday, although he didn't seem to have any trouble tapping into the fspd broadcasts. but maybe needleman is better at this kind of thing.

"tell you what -- i'll use a code phrase if i think our conversation is being monitored. if you hear me complain about my ankle, that'll mean that i think somebody's listening in. sound good?"

[ If people are in agreement, she will add... ]

"then somebody should let britestar in on the code phrase when you see him. it'd be a little silly to tell him about it over the comm channel."

[ But no matter what people think of her code phrase idea, she'll ask the following string of questions... ]

"hey, what are stacy and lyle going to be doing while we're away?"

"is someone going to be waiting for needleman's next broadcast?"

"arachne, are you planning on coming with us or will you be directing things from headquarters?"

"we should leave some force behind in case this needleman thing is a diversion, shouldn't we?"

"does anyone know how to drive a bus, or are we going to be dragging a civilian bus driver along? don't look at me, by the way. i don't even know how to drive a stick-shift."

"is there any of that pineapple left?"

Arachne nods her head in agreement with the various suggestions.

"Very well; we have a plan. Britestar will go ahead to West Covina and scout the area as inconspicuously as he can. The rest of us will meet him there. As for traveling in our respective uniforms, the team vehicle is in the same state of disassembly that it was in last night. Perhaps when he has time, Kakker can get it running again. It's not my area of specialty, but I'll give him all the help I can."

"In the meantime, I have an idea. I'll call the mayor and request a city bus. I think we can reasonably expect the city to cooperate with us in that. It'll carry all of us comfortably, and the shaded windows will conceal us from prying eyes."

Dr. Redgrave seems pretty pleased with this idea. Her eyes sparkle with it.

"If no one has any further comments...?" Dr. Redgrave pauses almost long enough for someone else to speak up, then nods. "Britestar, get moving. Make sure you keep in touch with us. We don't want you disappearing on us. Lyle will monitor you and coordinate your movements with ours. The rest of you, get ready: as soon as we have the bus, we'll need to move. We don't have time to waste."

As she speaks, one of her tentacles reaches across the room to the wall-mounted cordless phone. Another silver tentacle rapidly taps a series of numbers, and the first tentacle brings the phone up to the doctor's gold-armored temple.

[Note: Dr. Redgrave has gold armor that extends across her forehead, down her temples, and back over her ears. You can't actually see her ears. The armor doesn't appear to cover the back or top of her head.]


Arachne gives Glimmer an appraising look.

"I don't think it's a good idea to give you a team commlink. Unfortunately, you have abilities no one else here possesses. And, all things considered, you seem to have the team's interests in mind."

One of Arachne's silver tentacles slithers up beside Glimmer's chair, appearing just behind her left shoulder. It drops a black and gold Vanguard commlink in Glimmer's lap, but Glimmer catches it before it hits her thighs. If Arachne is disappointed that Glimmer wasn't surprised, she doesn't show it.

Arachne turns her attention to the phone she is holding to her ear: apparantly she has reached someone at the mayor's office. She speaks quietly into the receiver for a few minutes, then hangs up the phone and grins with satisfaction.

"We have transportation. And no one will even suspect it's us: a city bus is the perfect camouflage. Lyle and Stacy will stay here, monitoring our frequency and the police bands, as well as keeping tabs on the TV in case Needleman makes another broadcast. I'll be leading you into combat; get ready, the bus should be here in ten minutes."

The team has a few minutes before the bus arrives. They spend the time getting whatever gear they need together. Glimmer munches on the last of the pineapple slices.

Once everyone is assembled and ready, Arachne leads them out the back of the base, into the broad open courtyard, what Lyle called "the grounds". To the left as the team heads toward the back border of the grounds is a large glass structure: the indoor pool. To the right are the tennis and volleyball courts. Once past these recreational areas, the team crosses a broad grassy area some fifty meters or so deep, and at least a hundred meters wide. A few palm trees dot the landscape, but none of them can compete with the immense holly tree.

The tree is huge by any standards. It's gnarled roots twist into the ground like a fist clutching the bedrock. The entire team, linked hand-in-hand, could not encircle the enormous tunk of the ancient holly tree. Like a monolith, a monument made of wood, it stands as a testament that some things do last forvever. Or it used to....

The tree is dead. No life stirs in its mile-high branches, no leaf grows upon its massive limbs. This tree, which should stand as a tribute to life, now exists as a tombstone, a tribute to death. The air around it is heavy with loss, and the weighty silence is too much for even Glimmer to shrug off. No one speaks until they have passed beyond the edge of the grim skeleton which is all that remains of the holly's vast canopy.

At the rear border of the Vanguard estate is a high brick wall interrupted by a wide wrought-iron gate, a twin to the gate that allows vehicles to enter the front wall of the estate. This gate is rarely used, since the driveway that it serves meanders around the full perimeter of the grounds before entering the garage next to the main house. This lack of use also means that the rear gate is free of the protesters that have plagued Vanguard for the past week.

After waiting for a few minutes, the team sees a garishly painted city bus pull up to the curb outside the gate. The entire side of the vehicle is a brightly colored mural for Disneyland: Tommorowland, to be precise. A scene of the 1960's as imagined by people in the 1920's greets the team, with jet-packs, flying cars, and asymmetrical buildings, and everything -- everything -- has fins.

After the bus slows and stops, hydraulic brakes hissing and squeaking, a police officer (a young blonde woman with a short ponytail) gets out and walks back to the police car following behind the bus. She steps hurriedly, as if she doesn't really want to make eye contact with the superheroes. As she gets in the passenger seat of the police car, she nods at the team. "It's all yours. Bring it back in one piece." The white and blue car pulls away from the curb and speeds away down the street, leaving the idling bus behind.

Arachne (who is now wearing dark goggles over her eyes) looks at Kakker.

"Am I wrong in assuming that you know how to drive one of thesse things?"

[Errata: the Vanguard estate is physically in Pasadena, and although the Vanguard estate is technically a distinct city, most maps don't show it as such. It is approximately 25 km northeast of downtown Los Angeles, and roughly 25 km northwest of West Covina (a 15 to 20 minute drive both ways, if the traffic isn't bad -- if the traffic is bad, it could take over two hours). West Covina (which is mainly a large middle-upper-class suburb, a bit nicer than Pasadena, generally speaking) is 30 km due east of Los Angeles, straight down the I-10 freeway.]

[By the way, Frederick sent me a pretty cool GIF of LA County a while back. I'll put it on the web site as soon as I get the chance (after I highlight Vanguard's location, of course).]

[Also, here's a list of current players. Sadly, I'm going to give up on Renata: you don't need to keep sending her posts; she just doesn't have the time to keep up with them. I do hope some day she will be able to drop back in the game for a while. She will always be welcome. Please note the addition of Konji, and Jeff's new address. Keep a weather eye out for address changes over the next few weeks, too; some of the GEnie-ites might be moving.]

Brandon Blackmoor (me, the GM), bblackmoor@blackgate.net Jim Crocker (Adaptor), JCrocker@aol.com Frederick Earl (Glimmer), 74252.1545@compuserve.com Konji Harrison (Powersurge), kdharris@unccvx.uncc.edu Brian C. Schoner (Prism), B.SCHONER1@genie.com Scott R. Singleton (Britestar), ScottS7@aol.com Jon W. Sloan (Krane), 102117.763@compuserve.com Jeff Wilson (Kakker), jeff.wilson@genie.com


At last, action! Britestar breathes a sigh of relief as he slips the surly bonds of earth, feeling the freedom of the wind around him and his power within him. The green hexagon of the Vanguard estate shrinks beneath his feet; the houses and streets below resolve into a mosaic of earth-tones under the slanting rays of the mid-morning sun. Britestar takes a brief moment to savor the sheer pleasure of flying.

Suddenly, he is shocked out of his reverie. To the west, where the hazy brown dome of downtown LA should be visible from this height, he sees an almost perfect hemisphere of impenetrable black clouds. As he looks, he sees a flicker of light within them: lightning.

Time to get moving. Taking his bearings from the freeway below, Britestar zooms over the landscape toward West Covina, and Miles Needleman.


As the team walks towards the bus, Adaptor seems quite struck by the presence of the huge, dead tree. He studies its exterior for a moment, then starts to walk towards it. "I'll just be a moment, Arachne, I'd like to take a sample with me for the ride." He walks quickly over to the tree, inspecting its branches with a critical eye. He kneels down for a moment, inspecting the extensive root network that plunges into the earth, He takes a handful of soil and sifts it through his fingers. Finally, he stands, reaches up, and breaks off a small branch from the tree (preferably one with leaves on it if there are any left...). The whole process takes only a minute or so, and he seems satisfied with what he's seen...

Once the team is aboard the bus, he moves towards the back and lays the branch out on the seat next to him and starts to study it: He tests how it breaks, puts a bit in his mouth and chews it, takes one of the leaves and crushes it, sifting the tiny organic bits through his hand, hoping they can tell him something. During the course of all this, he asks Kakker wether he has any sort of maginfying device that he can use. If he does, the masked botanical coroner will make use of it. Within a few minutes, Adaptor seems to have garnered all the information he can, and begins to limber up, at first doing standard streching exercises, then starting to twist and contort his limbs at (what should be) imposssibly bizarrre and almost freakish angles...

[Adaptor has spent his 3 XP on the Contortionist skill, which I would've bought to begin with had a I thought of it (and not been pushing my luck with points already... ; ). He is using his Forestry to try and determine what killed this tree, wether it is in fact 100% dead (perhaps with major pruning, a huge influx of nutrients, and treatment (if it has a disease), it can be saved. He seems to have some suspicion about the tree he wants to keep to himself for now, though...]


[Aw, yeah! Say, what number is that bus? ;-)]

Kakker acknowledges that he can drive the bus. After loaning Adaptor a pocket knife with a fold-out magnifying lens [Microscopic Vision, 10X, OAF, 1 real point] and slapping a revolving red light on the dash [oh, come on!], our intrepid band departs for West Covina at a high rate of speed.


Adaptor snaps off a small twig from the monolithic holly tree. It breaks with a crisp SNAP!, like a Mr. Salty pretzel stick. Once on the bus, Adaptor tries to chew a piece of it, but it rapidly crumbles to tasteless dust as he bites into it. What is left is no more than ash. Examination of the rest yields similar results: the wood is dry, lifeless, as if it never had any vitality at all.

The earth from around the tree is a different story. It's rich, black, and heavy. This is dirt some farmers would kill for. This is soil that could nourish anything, and in fact begs to have living things growing in it.

Meanwhile, Kakker puts his flashing red light on the dashboard, but a silver tentacle impales the battery-powered police light, then deposits it in an unoccupied seat.

"The idea, Kakker, is to not draw attention to ourselves," Arachne says in an annoyed tone.


"Thank you, Kakker."

Adaptor frowns as he studies the lifeless remnants of the tree.

"Arachne, I'm unable to determine how this tree died. By all indications, it should be thriving, given the soil conditions and lack of any evident disease. Was this tree in some way connected to Dryad? When did the tree begin to die [Adaptor has a hunch that it was probably around the time Dryad was killed...]? I'm no student of metaphysics, but if there was a connection, and we could either nurse this tree back to health [an unlikely prosepect, he realizes, but presents it nonetheless...], or grow another from the berries of this one, then perhaps..."

He lets the thought trail off, allowing Arachne to mull it over, and tacitly inviting the others to add their thoughts...


Prism is keeping rather quiet for the time being. He looks slightly askance at some of the interplay between Arachne and Glimmer, but makes no comment. He has no equipment to gather, so spends most of the "pre-boarding" time watching the TV for any additional useful information. He does seem to cast a curious glance at Glimmer from time to time, though.

When the team moves out, Prism trudges to the back of the bus, looking at the vast holly tree for a long moment through his unreadable azure eyes. He is probably the last one on the bus, and treads carefully towards the center, where he will stand in the aisle (after eyeing the seats doubtfully).

Once the bus is underway, he says, "Um, folks, there's a quick experiment I'd like to do here, just so I know what to expect if things get hairy." He seems to concerntrate for an instant, and the milky crystals of his body fade to absolute transparency over the course of a second or so. Those sitting very near him can probably see light reflecting off some of his body's facets, but beyond that distance, he is effectively invisible.

"Now," he says, "can anybody here see me?"

[Answer: If you have anything other than normal and IR vision, you can probably see Prism in one way or another.]

"Why yes, Prism," Arachne says. "I can see you quite well. You're actually quite a beautiful specimen in ultraviolet light."

The bus hums and lurches as Kakker shifts gears and moves into city traffic.

Turning her attention to Adaptor, she says, "Yes, the tree had some connection to Dryad. My theory is that they had sorm form of symbiosis. It died soon after she did. However, I thinks it's unlikely that reviving the tree would have any effect on Dryad," she says with scorn in her voice. "That's an illogical premise."


Kakker looks askance at the tentacle whipping the flasher off the dash, then back at the road, reassured that Dr. Redgrave is at least somewhat tolerant of deviation from the plan. He notes the superhuman speed and accuracy of the tentacle with some trepidation, however.


Glimmer looks in the direction of Prism. "no, i can't -see- you, although i know where you are. but you knew that already from our meeting at the prison.

"incidentally, your invisibility is was talking about earlier. i wasn't sure that you'd told your teammates about it, so i didn't want to spill the beans."

Glimmer pauses briefly, then blurts out her next comments rather awkwardly and hastily.

"speaking of which. arachne. i owe you an apology. when you walked into the conference room i shot my mouth off about your surgery. that was wrong. it's your body and you should be free to make your own choices about it without our interference. or spying. or . . . well, anything.

"just because of . . . the way i am . . . i'm going to know a lot of secrets about the people around me. things i'm could share, but really shouldn't. personal things like . . . well, never mind like what.

"the point is, i'm sorry i blabbed and i won't blab in the future. and i'm sorry."


Krane observes the actions of those around him. Glimmer is right, the group does have a plan (of sorts) and they do seem to be working together. There is hope after all.

He feels a sense of loss when he observes the dead tree. For something so rare and wondrous to be dead is a sad thing. For him to have missed it in life can only be his own loss. Krane mourns the loss of Dryad but respects this monument of her death. He bows to the tree and her spirit while Adaptor takes samples.

Once in the bus he waits expectantly for a report from Britestar.


Britestar flys to west covina. He will look for any obvious signs of suspicous activity and signs of large energy output. He will also go to the nearest library, (if he finds one), give a description of Miles Needleman and see if anyone knows his address.


Kakker speaks while driving at an agonzingly slow 50 mph. "We'll be awhile arriving at the scene. Let me make sure I've got everyone's tactical abilities down correctly.

"Adaptor is essentially a super-atheletic fighter, with that tricky staff. Hummingbird quick.

"Krane, you are a power fighter, and you have a lot of mental toughness. Mind over body, right?

"Prism is our heavyweight muscleman, nigh invulnerable. Very stealthy, too.

"Brightstar is our sterotypical flying energy projector and Glimmer is essentially a ghost with a nasty withering touch.

"I am very tough, very strong, everywhere rather than just in lifting strength. That's why I can run continuously as fast as a normal person could kick or throw.

"Doctor...ARACHNE, that is, has superhuman senses and is as quick and accurate with her tentacles as you could hope for.

"El Langosoto is, ah, well, let us hope he made it. Damn. Have I missed anything?"


Britestar zooms high above the cityscape, looking for the big green highway sign that says WEST COVINA. Hm, two more miles... almost there.

Suddenly, he gets flipped end over end by a tremendous wind shear, far more powerful than anything he's ever felt in clear air before. He recovers, and drifts cautiously back toward the area where he felt it... There, right there. He puts out a hand and can feel it, like a wall of air. It's cold, but more than that -- the air on his arm stands up like a balloon had been rubbed on it, and the air has a strange smell, rather like battery acid. Flying slowly back and forth confirms what Britestar deduced: this was the effect that Kakker had shown them on the radar screen.

Now that he had a feel for where it was, Britestar found he could keep track of it even though it was a few meters away. It had a subtle effect on the wind currents. Tracking it swiftly to West Covina, he saw the source.

The apartment building was six stories high, and one of several similar buildings that were arranged around a common recreational area: pool, jacuzzi, tennis, volleyball. However, this building had something the others did not: several satellite dishes, all connected with a jumble of cables that snaked down the side of the building and into a third-story window. Specifically, there were two large dishes (one two meters across, the second slightly smaller), and four small RCA dishes of the sort that guy from Murphy Brown advertises on TV. All six dishes were aimed directly at Britestar -- or rather, directly at the way he had come.


As Glimmer apologizes for her behavior back at the base, Dr. Arachne looks at her with an expression of utter incomprehension. It's as if she understands the words Glimmer is using, but they're strung together into sentences that have no meaning. Moments pass after Glimmer stops speaking, but Arachne makes no movement to respond, or even acknowledge that she understood.

Kakker's status report brings her back to the present.

"El Langosto?" She looks around the bus, as if noticing the young man's absence for the first time. "Where is he? Lyle's report didn't mention him."


Krane smiles at Kakker's statement (about Krane's abilities).

"I don't know that I'm a power fighter. My sticks make me hit like one. I'd call myself a defensive fighter. Someone who prefers to choose his shots while avoiding being hit. As to mind over body (grin), it's all a state of mind. I've learned a few tricks and short cuts over the years. It's a kind of magic."


"i suppose that's as good a description of my powers as any other," says Glimmer.

Player's Note: The ever-vague Glimmer is glossing over several of her powers. Here are a few of the things Glimmer has apparently done, some of which the "ghost" explanation doesn't quite cover:

Knew all of the team members' names before they'd been introduced. "Saw" things which were behind walls, buried under rubble, obscured by clouds of dust or inside people's bodies. "Saw" Prism when he was invisible. Took an attack from White Noise with only minor effect. (An act witnessed only by El Langosto.) Set off a major-league explosion when she struck White Noise' force wall. (Ditto.) Was not surprised when one of Arachne's tentacles snuck up behind her. Sensed (predicted?) that something strange was happening (going to happen?) on the morning of Dr. Redgrave's appearance as Arachne, which was also the morning of Needleman's weather attack.

I hope that helps to put things in perspective despite Glimmer's (deliberate?) vagueness. - Frederick Earl


Amanda turns off the television. She looks around the hotel room and her eyes fall on the sleeping form of her brother.

"Jesus,"she thinks to herself."I just get into LA and this happens. The reporter said no paranormals responding."

She stands and strecthes. "Well I'm a paranormal and I'm responding"

Walking over to her brother, a boy maybe eight or more years old, she gently wakes him. He yawns and looks dreamily at her.

"J, I have to go for alittle while."

The fear flashes into his eyes. "No 'manda! That's what momma said!"

She remembers that night vaguely. The last thing she remembered was being thrown into the wall of the house and seeing her mother stepping out to face Chayne. The boy is crying and Amanda Edwards doesn't want to leave him.

Still though, "J.. Jerrod listen to me." her voice picks up an air of authority. "There is a man out there who is going to hurt everyone in the city including us. I might be the only one who can stop him." Still looking into the scared boy's eyes. "I have these powers and I'm going to help. I LOVE YOU." She gives him a strong hug. "Momma would want me to help... Don't open this door for anyone until I come back okay?" She doesn't look at him as she gets up to leave. He starts to cry again and it gets louder as she closes the door. Without even seeing the housecleaning lady two doors down coming out of a vacant room she gently revokes the laws of gravity and flies up into the air.

"Now I have to find City Hall, and introduce myself to the mayor. LA's going to be Powersurge's town!!"

Brief description- Amanda at this point in her career has no costume. She is a 5'10" African American young woman with black eyes and long, shoulder length black hair. As she is flying to City Hall, she is wearing a pair of blue jeans, boots, and a nice sweater. Maybe some superteam will hook her up?


Amanda rose above the hotel effortlessly, feeling herself suspended by the tendrils of the earth's magnetic field. The lines of force supporting her were thinner and weaker than strands of silk, but she felt as though she were nailed against the sky, so sure did she feel of the forces supportin her.

She headed north, toward downtown Los Angeles. Far in the distance, she could see the storm clouds gathering. At their center was an almost solid hemisphere of black clouds, occassionally lit from within by stobe-flashes of lightning.

As she moved closer, she became aware of a strong magnetic field surrounding the city. It was huge: several blocks wide at ground level, and taller than the tallest LA office building. It seemed to be holding the clouds formation, and somehow strengthening the effect of the lightning. A quick experiment proved to her that the effect was far too large for her to remove with her powers. She would have to find the source of the effect and remove it.

Just as she was about to enter the area of the clouds, she noticed a tightly focused magentic beam entering the magnetic field from the east. It appeared to be feeding and controlling the hemispherical cloud formation. Once again, Amanda tried to exert her powers to stop the flow of magnetic power, but she only succeeded in diverting to to the side by a few meters. However, the beam itself shine like a beacon to Amada's senses. She swiftly flew east, tracking the weather-control weapon back to its source....

The apartment building was six stories high, and one of several similar buildings that were arranged around a common recreational area: pool, jacuzzi, tennis, volleyball. However, this building had something the others did not: several satellite dishes, all connected with a jumble of cables that snaked down the side of the building and into a third-story window. Specifically, there were two large dishes (one two meters across, the second slightly smaller), and four small RCA dishes of the sort that guy from Murphy Brown advertises on TV. All six dishes were aimed directly at Amanda -- or rather, directly at the way she had come.

She could tell that the powerful magnetic beam was emanating from one of the four smaller dishes. The other small dishes were radiating some kind of energy, as well, but these were not as bright to Amanda's senses as the beam from the other dish. She couldn't tell what the two large dishes were doing; she could tell that they were generating a mild electromagnetic field, but they weren't radiating a tightly focused beam like the four smaller dishes were.

As she gets closer, Amanda sees another person flying over the building. He's wearing a light blue costume, and he glows with a fierce light. His back is to Amanda.


"If I were attempting to blackmail the city would I wear a skintight blue outfit and glow brighter than an indiglo watch? No, I wouldn't. He must be a hero... or a mad supervillain because this goofus interuptted my world dominating plan of the week."

Amanda is wearing a pair of blue Chic jeans, a nice cotton knit sweater, and some regular leather boots. She flies up to Britestar. "Hi. Need any assistance Sunman?"

Remember she is 5'10", African American, long black hair, and black eyes. She is probably smiling her friendliest. She's thinking, "God please don't let him be a bad guy ,and if he isn't please don't let him be a jerk. This is no place for young ladies."


"Geez, This is the second encounter with an unidentified flying female I've had this week. I am the superhero Britestar and I am here on official business of Vanguard. I must advise you that this ia a dangerous area and you should clear the area untill we get the situation resolved. What are you doing up here anyway? And is it not against the law to fly in your civilian clothes. I mean, you are going to make those of us wearing these skintight costumes look pretty silly."


With some trepidation, Kakker speaks. "Shouldn't we have a plan of some sort? Or at least provide for some forseeable circumstances, like injury or capture?

"At the very least, there are some unique tactical situations of which we could take advantage. It's unlikely Miles Needleman has been able to anticipate our superhuman idiosyncracies, isn't it?"


"Our mission," Arachne says, taking care to key her radio so that Britestar can hear the discussion, "has three parts: one, shut down the weather-control equipment; two, engage and disable the robot he referred to on his broadcast; three, engage and neutralize Needleman, preferably without killing him."

"This Needleman is obviously an amateur. He might conceivably expect his transmissions to be tracked by the authorities, however, so we should expect some resistance. His robot will almost certainly pose no threat to us, but we should exercise caution so that no civilians are endangered."

"As the member with the highest defense, Prism would be the best one to confront the robot. With Britestar as air support, they should be able to take care of it with no problem."

"Kakker and I will find and disable the weather-control machine, ince we're the most technically-savvy members. We'll need to take care in case Needleman has booby-trapped it somehow, though I think that's unlikely, judging from his transmission earlier. He seems to be relying on the machine itself to wreak vengeance on the city if his plans are foiled."

"The rest of the team -- Krane, Adaptor, and Glimmer -- will locate Needleman and neutralize him. I seriously doubt he will pose a physical threat to any of us, but as with the robot, we need to use caution and keep him from endangering any bystanders. We also want to make sure we take him out without killing him; based on his transmission earlier, it's obvious he's just a normal human being, and he won't be able to survive an all-out attack from us."

She looks among the faces on the bus for any questions.

"Britestar," she says into the radio, "did you get all that?"


Kakker nods, eyes continually watching the road. "I think the best chance we have of neutralizing the weather machine is to get the remote control away from Miles Needleman. I am reasonably sure that there is one, and if Glimmer or Arachne could remove it before he suspects, he should no longer be able to change the weather. Deciphering the controls should not be too difficult for me, given a little time.

"As for the robot, I have no idea what to expect. The whole notion seems nonsensical."


"Well Sunman? Would you like some help from an up-n-coming superheroine?" Amanda floats in front of Britestar and waits.


Amanda says,"Hi Britestar. Uhm, I'm sorry about the 'Sunman' thing. Look my name is Amanda Edwards but when I'm using my powers I go by Powersurge." Powersurge is surrounded by blue lines of magnetic energy that spark occasionally with electricity. It doesn't seem to affect her clothing though. "I know this is a dangerous area. That's why I'm here... I'm new to this area and I want to help. My powers helped me identify this dish," and she points at the transmitter that creates the electromagnetic pulse."is transmitting the energy that powers the field surrounding the city. Now whether you or your team like it I'm here now and I'm going to do my job and that's to protect any innocents in that building and in the city and stop Miles Needleman!"

Right now Amanda is flushed and she has a grim look on her face like "come on... I dare to stop me". The energy around her is beginning to flare abit more intensely.


Krane smiles as Dr. Arachne lays out the plan. It's good to have someone take charge (he was getting a little nervous that he was going to become the referee by default).

"The plan sounds good to me Doctor. We'll do our best to take out Needleman with little or no unexpected complications."


Britestar says to Powersurge " Ok Powersurge, if you have the ability to help out then I'm not going to turn you down. Do you have the ability to to control or weaken the electromagnetic pulse? '

to Vanguard " I am now outside the building that the storm is coming from. There are several satellite dishes on top of the building with cables leading to a 3rd story window. I assume that is the location of Needleman. Also, I have met a flying superheroine named Powersurge who has offered to help."


Kakker radios Britestar: "What's that building's location? Can you describe it?" [etc., just so that I get enough info to locate it from the street.]

"I imagine that a volunteer aviator would be best employed for aerial scouting. Can both of you fly safely in the weather zone?"


Adaptor, inscrutable as usual, merely nods.

With a snap of his wrist he's suddenly holding his staff once again, making quick snaps in the air, readying himself for the coming confrontation. He moves to join Krane, asking the mystic, "How do we want to approach? It's probably prudent to assume Needleman will have the approaches to his lair monitored in some way. If we enter thru seperate routes we probably have a better chance of taking him unawares. What do you think?"

He directs the last question at Glimmer, as well, as the other member of the 'Needleman' team.


Powersurge smiles then looks towards the pulse and frowns saying,"No, I can't control it. I tried when I first encountered it. I might be able to weaken the power intensity though. When do you want me to try?"

As Amanda/Powersurge and Britestar agree to work together, Powersurge notices a small, fast object coming at them from the west, the direction of Los Angeles. She has only a moment to warn Britestar (or take some other action) before it arrives.

[If you want to do or say something, Konji, go ahead. Your options are somewhat limited, since it's not in your power to prevent what happens next -- unless, of course, you want to stand in the missile's way.]

A scant second after Powersurge becomes aware of its approach, Britestar becomes aware of it as well. Like the scream of a banshee, like a bullet tearing through the air toward its target, like the hound of war it is, the missile streaks toward the radio dishes on the roof of the apartment building. The missile tracks the electromagentic containment field with the merciless accuracy of a rabid hunting dog. The projectile is too fast and small for Britestar and Powersurge to actually see it hit the dish, but the results of the impact can't be missed.

The satellite dishes explode in a ball of fire, raining scraps of sheetmetal and wire on the ground around the apartment building (the building itself is relatively undamaged). All that remains of the weather-control equipment is a twisted assembly of boxes and cables, and one deformed dish aimed at the sky, sparking and crackling with energy. Above the heroes, the sky begins to grow dark.

[If Britestar and/or Powersurge haven't taken an action before now, they may do so.]

Far to the west, Britestar and Powersurge can see a figure flying toward them (approximately 250 meters away, or 125 game hexes). Its red and black armor gleams dully in the fading sunlight. As they watch it approach, they see a flash as it fires another missle from its right shoulder.


Meanwhile, in the bus, Kakker takes the offramp for West Covina. The bus lurches down the too-small incline leaving the freeway, and merges into the street traffic below. Kakker sends off his message to Britestar, but Britestar has yet to respond with directions.

Behind Kakker, Dr. Redgrave/Arachne seems happy that Krane accepts her leadership. She gives Krane an approving smile and nod, her lavender hair giving her smile a somewhat looney appearance.

Suddenly, Glimmer glances up with a startled look. A split-second later, a nearby rooftop explodes in a ball of fire. Little bits of metal debris clatter on the roof of the bus. Looking out the windows on the driver's side of the bus, the team can see two figures flying over the roof of the apartment building where the explosion occurred: one, a caucasian man wearing a sky-blue costume, is obviously Britestar; the other is a dark-skinned woman in civilian clothing, who appears to be suspended in mid-air by crackling blue-white arcs of electricity.

Above the heroes, the sky begins to grow dark.


Prism seems mildly disgruntled at being referred to as a "specimen," but keeps his mouth shut. He does, however, respond to the apologetic Glimmer. "Hey, no problem. I mean, we ARE a team, and the more everybody knows about what each other can do, the better we can work together." He pauses, then adds, "In fact, it'd be even better if everybody decided to officially join the team, but you've explained your reasons, and I know where you're coming from." His smile holds no rancor.

The smile fades when Arachne begins laying out her plan; perceptive observers might note that he seems distinctly ill-at-ease whenever she speaks, at least since this morning. His sole comment is a firm, "Check," when it is suggested that he be the one confront the robot.

When the explosion shatters the sky, Prism looks up and deadpans, "Kakker, I bet the building we're looking for is the one that just blew up." He steps towards the rear of the bus to make way for anyone who wants to get out here, but it appears that he plans to ride as close as possible to the battle scene before disembarking.


"really, this is your show," Glimmer says. "my plan is to hang in the background and relay information to you folks. i'm still figuring that this is another setup by grendel and his employers. the last thing i want to do..."

"Fuck!" Glimmer yells in a voice that is neither soft nor melodious.

Her wavery force field springs into being around her.

[Brandon, I'd like to have Glimmer stand motionless for an instant or two, then (in that trademark soft voice again) give the party a terse status report. Sentences of one to three words will do. She'll pay special attention to the apartment building, any unusual features it might have or any observations she can make about its inhabitants.]

[As best she can, she'll stick with the idea of sitting back and letting the others act. Staying out of sight is important to her, but not so important that she won't throw herself between something dangerous and some bystanders.]

[If the others decide to spill out of the bus, she'll remain on board, ducked down and hopefully unseen. Once the others have taken center stage, she'll try to sneak her way closer to the apartment building for a better "look".]

[She's still keen on the idea that Needleman is being set up for a tragic demise, so she'll be particularly intent on spotting him. If she discovers that something is about to harm him, she'll take the most direct route (probably using desolidification) to intervene on his behalf.]

[It's possible that I'll be out of touch (again sigh!) for another few days, which is why I'm posting my actions in advance. - Frederick]


Amandas' eyes grow wide then she says,"Britestar MOVE!!!!!" Once the first missile goes off she surveys the damage to see if any people are hurt (well to make sure the building isn't collapsing). Then she looks at Britestar, eyes still wide,"Is this what your team does?!" "Well I'm not going to let that character kill anybody or Needleman!!" With that,unless Britestar stops her, Powersurge will cut off the flying troublemaker. Starting with blasting the next incoming missile. Must I say...ITS' HAMMER TIME!!!!!!

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