RPG Library

Night City(15): Introducing Arachne

{Brandon, did Adaptor read about any references ot Mesmeron or Genocide from previous encounters with earlier versions of Vanguard? If so, he'll relate whatever information he gleaned from that to the rest of the group...}

Adaptor approaches the bemused gadgeteer.

"Kakker," he asks, "would it help if I occupied some of Rasputin's logic circuits while you were doing your work? Machines and people play chess very differently, and by engaging Rasputin, I may be able to uncover useful information."

If Kakker thinks this is a good idea (or even a 'don't know, but it couldn't hurt" idea), Adaptor will address Rasputin: "Rapsutin, I would like to play a game of chess. Since I am a ranked Grandmaster, please set your own difficulty level accordingly. I would prefer to play with a physical board using real pieces, but if you are able to accomodate this request, a graphic representation on one will do. As the challenger, I will begin by playing Black."

Adaptor will wait to see if Rasputin picks up the gauntlet...

You remember no references to Genocide.

There were a few reports of encounters with the psychic paranormal Mesmeron. The first mention of him is just before the Viet-Nam war. From what you gather, he was against it, and against sending American paranormals to Viet-Nam to die (which several did, among them a fairly well-known martial artist known as Legion, or American Legion). The encounters Vanguard had with him at the time were usually in response to an attack on an American military base.

The other major incident that stands out in Adaptor's memory coincides with the mid-1980's resurgence of backlash against paranormals. The Justice Department called in Vanguard (who had a very good reputation with the authorities at the time) to move in on a federal training facility for for TI-9's: borderline superhumans.


A Tesla index of 0 to 1 is considered normal. A full 99.9% of the popuation falls into this range.

A Tesla index of 1 to 3 is considered extraordinary. Strange things happen around such people. They can operate devices which utilize Violation Physics in some way, but they can't create the effect themselves.

A Tesla index of 3 to 9 is considered paranormal. The subject may be able to violate the laws of physics on microscopic levels, sometimes for macroscopic effects if the subject has training. They may be capable of creating devices which utilize Violation Physics.

A Tesla index of 10 or above is full-blown superhuman. One in ten million has this level of TI. Usually, individuals which this degree of TI aren't tested, since it is obvious to the casual observer that the subject has supernatural abilities.

Tesla Index is generally rated in four categories: Quantum Mechanical, Thermodynamic, Psychic, and General Relativistic. It is not uncommon for a paranormal to have a very high TI in one area and near-zero TI's in all other areas.

[Adapted from "Physical Review M: Violation Physics, A Summary of Current Tests for Tesla Indices submitted to United Nations Extraterrene Authority (UNEA)", 1994] (actually, from Space Gamer/Fantasy Gamer #8)


The facility had been taken over by Mesmeron and the Four Horsemen (a fairly potent supervillain group, three of whom got captured in 1989).

Vanguard moved in on the installation and eventually Mesmeron and the Horsemen retreated. However, the team discovered that some of the "trainees" were being held against their will, and they allowed about a dozen of them to leave with the supervillains. The Justice Department was shocked to discover that people were being held there against their will, and the training facility was closed down.


"I would be more than happy to play a game of chess with you, Adaptor," Rasputin replies to Adaptor's request. "It has been some time since I have had a worthy opponent."

"This will, of course, not prevent me from answering any of your questions, Krane. However, it might be better for your game, Adaptor, if we played in another room, so that my conversation with Krane and the others won't distract you. You will find a chess set in the entertainment room down the hall."

Adaptor (I assume) goes down the hall, leaving the rest of the crew (Kakker, Glimmer, Powersurge, Britestar, and Krane) outside the lab door. As he passes the entryway to the kitchen, he hears Stacy washing dishes and talking to Mr. Park.

Amanda looks to Krane as Kakker and Adaptor make their plans,"Krane, as far as I know Genocide isn't a supervillian but an organization. I don't even know if GENOCIDE is their right name. It's just something I think they believe in."

Seeing that Jerrod isn't really paying attention to her since he is locked on Prism she continues, "This organization hunts mutants like me and either imprisons them or kills them."

"That's why I asked if I can stay here... No place else is safe. If it were just me, I'd try to work it out but I have responsiblity." Looking at Jerrod.

"May we stay?"

Kakker is all for the chess game, should he somehow be able to give notice while tromping down to the lab.

At the entrance to the sealed room, Kakker will knock polietly and ask to come in.

The intercom buzzes into life.

"I'm in the middle of some important research, Kakker," Dr. Redgrave's voice announces in response to Kakker's request for admittance. "Is this something that you can't handle yourself?"

She sounds annoyed.

[We can cut through a lot of the BS here, if folks don't mind. The wizard's not in: go away. Arachne isn't going to open up. Are you planning to huff and puff and blow her house in?]

"Maam, we are having some serious computer problems, I just wanted to let you know. There may be some power or data outages, so we're going to have to fix it now."

Now, Kakker will raid Lyle's work area for a few tools that were blown away at the prison, then get to work PHSYICALLY crawling around and following the terminals back to their servers and so forth until he can find the processing center (assuming Rasputin has one). Speed is essential, so Kakker may overlook the convenience of certain people.

[I spoke to Frederick Earl on the phone this evening. Glimmer's input on the recent goings-on are as follows:]

Glimmer thinks that Fedrico Engada, the man she claims was behind the prison attack, is also behind Emerald's abduction. After all, it was only a matter of hours before Emerald was taken from the hospital. Glimmer reasons, that it must have been planned ahead of time.

Glimmer thinks that letting Mesmeron go is a good idea. After all, why pick a fight if he's already leaving? She also pays very close attention to what Powersurge says about the attack on her and Jerrod, but Glimmer doesn't challenge her on it.

Since her attempts to get into the lab have proven fruitless, Glimmer suggests that she go and scout out some of Fedrico Engada's haunts. Maybe she can scare up some clues as to Emerald's location. Britestar thinks this is a good idea, and offers to go with her.

Speaking of Britestar, he's not entirely sure that Kakker's attempts to get into the lab and/or get around Rasputin's or Dr. Redgrave's security routines is a good idea.

"I mean, the lady's not exactly my favorite person, but she =has= been under a lot of stress lately. I think she'll calm down after a while. I don't think we're going make things any better by provoking her. Anyway, as long as she stays in there, we have the run of the place. Right?"

[With luck, Frederick will be back online soon.]

Glimmer shows Kakker where she traced Rasputin's network connections up to the outside of the lab. It seems that the coaxial cable, along with some phone lines and what appear to be power lines, go up to the outside wall of the lab (hidden in the drywall concealing the Unbelevium of the lab's walls), where they all terminate in a metal box right up against the shiny outer wall of the lab.

[Is that clear? The wall between the lab and, say, the hallway looks normal enough, but if you peel off the drywall you can see the same really tough vault material the lab door is made of.]

Glimmer says she was able to push her hand through the connection box, but she couldn't push into the lab wall. She adds that it covers the lab's floor and ceiling, too.

If Kakker opens up the terminal box, he can see that the various phone, power, and data lines all have separate tiny holes through the lab wall. There are also several unused holes that have rubber plugs in them.

Then the lab door opens.


Adaptor and Kakker play chess. After the first few moves (neither Adaptor nor Rasputin seem to need more than a few moment's thought for these opening moves), Mr. Park comes from the kitchen and watches. He's holding a glass of tea with a slice of lemon in it, which he sits on his knee as he perches on a nearby barstool.

This goes on for a few minutes, and just when the game is getting good, Rasputin speaks.

"I'm sorry Adaptor, I'm going to have to capitulate. I was afraid of this. I enjoyed the game; thank you."

Only this, and nothing more.


"Kakker," Arachne asks nicely, tentacles moving like drowsy snakes behind her. "What are you doing?" The lab door behind her is open. The wreckage can be seen from the hall.

Adaptor examines the board...

Intriguing. The board is not yet at all open. Adaptor's style of play is very conservative: he tends to react to his opponent's moves as opposed to initiating. He has observed over the years that computers, no matter how complex, tend to play the same way (with some variation). The more complex computers are simply able to see more moves and permutations ahead. He has not yet played a computer that was able to beat him (especially since the... encounter), but he has never had a silicon opponent resign so quickly. The only time a computer normally resigns is when it perceives no possible avenues to vicory (or draw).

Adaptor knows he's good, but he isn't THAT good.

"What were you afraid of, Rasputin, that you'd be unable to defeat me? I'm fairly certain there were still several possible routes to victory for you had you continued with the game. Or is something else troubling you? Perhaps whatever is going on in the lab right now?"

As he asks, Adaptor will head back towards wherever Kakker is to consult with him about his experiences with the game (including anything unusual he may have noticed about Rasputin's style of play before he quit so abruptly...).

Krane's question: "Rasputin, where's Dr. Redgrave?"

Is answered by Arachne opening the door. Krane will try to evaluate the good Doctor's mental state. She's been making him nervous.

Also, what kind of destruction has gone on inside the lab? Krane will try to get a better look.

"Is everything okay, Arachne?

"Did you need any help," Krane asks in his most sincere tone.

"I'm fine, Krane. Thank you for asking. I just noticed that Kakker was trying to troubleshoot Rasputin's malfunction, and I thought I'd come tell him the problem has been dealt with." She smiles warmly at Krane.

"As you noticed, Kakker," she says to the pliers-holding man, "Rasputin was malfunctioning. Since that could pose a serious hazard to everyone in the base, I decided it was best to deactivate him."

Kakker and Krane can both see what Arachne means by "deactivate": the lab is a wreck. At the back of the lab, a 100-liter tank of what looks like blue gelatine has been ripped to pieces: blue goo is everywhere. The rest of the lab doesn't look much better.

"So, it seems we have a new member." Arachne smiles at Powersurge. It seems sincere enough. "Well, the more, the merrier. Let me show you to your room. I think we'll give you Lyle's room. The view of the grounds is nice, and he won't be needing it anymore."

With that, Dr. Redgrave turns and heads toward the stairs, obviously expecting Amanda to follow.

[ "As you noticed, Kakker," she says to the pliers-holding man, "Rasputin was malfunctioning. Since that could pose a serious hazard to everyone in the base, I decided it was best to deactivate him."

[ wreck. At the back of the lab, a 100-liter tank of what looks like blue gelatine has been ripped to pieces: blue goo is everywhere. The rest of the lab doesn't look much better.

Kakker is silent and contemplative a moment as the chill, silty currents of the fjords run between his organs and his spine. He slowly slips a battered printout from a rear pocket and scans it contemplatively.

[ With that, Dr. Redgrave turns and heads toward the stairs, obviously expecting Amanda to follow.

Kakker's eyes flick upward to follow the girl leaving the room.

Krane will do his best to not look horrified as he sees the wreckage in the lab. Previously he was willing to give Arachne the benefit of the doubt but the evidence seems to be pointing to her being quite unstable. Once she leaves (escorting Powersurge) he will glance quickly at Kakker and head into the lab (assuming the doors remain open).

Krane isn't much for all of this technical stuff but he will give the place a quick once over, looking for anything a laymen might be able to interpret. Some clue to Arachne's erratic behavior. Hopefully Kakker will follow his lead and look for something in a more technical vein (I'm sure there's more of that to be found).

[Since Kakker's the techie of the group, this is from his POV.]

Kakker cannot help but mentally catalog the many esoteric pieces of equipment he had heard of but could not afford. Vanguard must have almost limitless resources to be able to afford a fraction of the expensive gear scattered around the spacious lab. In the center of the lab, the centerpiece of the room, is an gleaming stainless steel operating table. Suspended above it are multiple robotic arms sporting a variety of wicked-looking tools.

The lab is a mess, yet beneath the recently-scattered debris -- paperwork, small lab tools, clipboards, office supplies -- this lab is spartan, almost obsessively organized. Something tells Kakker that this is Dr. Redgrave's lab.

Kakker's eyes move quickly through the lab to an open door leading beyond it, to a smaller, more cluttered workspace. This is where the broken tank is, dripping with blue gore.

It looks like a large smoked-glass fishtank. It used to be filled with what looks like blue gelatin, but several large, ragged holes have been torn through the both the tank and gelatin within. Kakker kneels down and runs his fingers through some of the spilled substance. It seems oily, and he can feel fragile strands, somewhat like hair, suspended in the material.

Kakker stands, and looks around the rest of this lab. This was obviously where Dr. Roberts -- that is, Modulator -- did most of his work. The almost artistic state of chaos, the myriad papers tossed with fractal randomness around the room, make it clear that Dr. Redgrave spends almost no time here. Kakker's mind automatically categorizes much of what he sees as his gaze sweeps the room: cybernetic interfaces, various robotic components, a Hawking chamber for studying cosmic string fragments, several disassembled plasma accelerators, and what appear to be some kind of Telsa coils next to a frame almost two meters square.

Most of the equipment in this room seems aimed at robotics, but there is some equiment that is not immediately recognizable. In one particular corner of the lab, a lot of the equipment seems aimed at particle physics research. Kakker gently sweeps aside some notebooks filled with tiny backhand scribbles, exposing a grey Xerox keyboard. Crouching down, Kakker sees a fairly conventional workstation box under the desk, but he finds no monitor. He stands again, and tentatively taps the spacebar on the grey keyboard. The drive in the workstation buzzes softly. There is a delay of a few seconds, and the drive light goes dark.

"Hmm," Kakker muses.

He leans over the desk, pushing his face into the desk's dark surface and shielding the sides of his face with his hands.

"There's some kind of projector under the surface," he says, standing up again. He looks at the ceiling for a drop-down screen of some sort, but doesn't see anything. "Maybe it's a holographic display..." he says dubiously.

At any rate, it doesn't seem to be working.

Looking back over his shoulder at the blue jelly, Kakker sighs. Turning back to the desk, he's more hopeful. "=This= I could fix, given time. But we have a more pressing problem." Kakker looks for Prism. Where is he?

Krane gives the lab a quick once-over and then glances to the door to make sure that Arachne is not returning.

As Kakker takes a look at the computer, Krane will say, "Is it just me or does this seem a little. . . drastic?" He motions to the destruction in the lab. "Not to get into a philosophical arguement or anything but if Rasputin had become truly self-aware, didn't she just kill him?"

Krane didn't have as much interaction with Rasputin as some of the others so he doesn't want to go pointing fingers too quickly, but he's not one to condone murder either. Dr. Redgrave appears to be a little too paranoid at this point. What did Rasputin know that she needed to keep from us. Basically why would she kill him?

When Kakker stands up from the computer, commenting about the broken hologram projector, Krane says, "Could we maybe attatch this computer to a normal monitor? I'm not much for all this computer stuff but there's plenty of other computer screens in the building."

Actually, there is another computer in the lab, apparently identical to the first except that it has a conventional monitor attached (that accounts for two of the three Macintoshes Rasputin referred to when Kakker was asking about Vanguard's computer resources).

After a brief investigation, Kakker learns that the two Macintoshes (one with a normal monitor, one with the currently-nonfunctional holographic display) are little more than remote terminals. They are fully functional Macintoshes, but it appears they were used by Dr. Redgrave and Dr. Roberts as little more than front-ends to Rasputin.

A quick reconnoiter by the gang show that this lab has two main rooms and a couple of storage rooms & closets. There is no sign of the third Macintosh. (Rasputin said the base had three Macs "located in the laboratories".)

Sorry it took so long for me to reply. I've had some difficulties.

RPG: Amanda follows Archne upstairs Jerrod in arms. She gives Krane and Prism a fearful look and_slowly_walks up the stairs.

"If I'm going to be a member then I would like for my brother to be enrolled in a good school." Amanda says nervously.

"Then I would like to enroll into UCLA. Could you talk to someone? I got a 965 on my SAT." She continues.

Then she will get Jerrod comfortable again and go downstairs.

While Kakker & crew are ransacking the lab, Dr. Redgrave escorts Amanda & Jerrod upstairs. Stopping at a door, one of Arachne's tentacles extrudes what looks like a silver tongue. The tentacle sticks this tongue into the card reader next to the door, and the lock clicks from red to green.

"This will be your room, Gerald."


"Excuse me?" Dr. Redgrave says, smile frozen in place.

"My name is JERROD, not GERALD. JERROD." Jerrod stares Arachne square in the eye. Arachne smirks a little.

"Jerrod. Of course... this is your room. If you need anything, let Stacy know. She can get you a key, as well."

"If I'm going to be a member then I would like for my brother to be enrolled in a good school." Amanda says nervously.

"I don't think that will be a problem," Dr. Redgrave says reassurringly.

"Then I would like to enroll into UCLA. Could you talk to someone? I got a 965 on my SAT." Dr. Redgrave looks sympathetic. "Don't worry, I'm sure we can get you enrolled. I'm told that they accept people with scores even lower than that, so you shouldn't have any problems. Here's your room..."

Amanda's room is across the hall from Jerrod's. The room is somewhat small, but neat: the bed is made, there's no dust on the TV, and the windows are clean. The closet door is open, and dresser drawers are open and empty.

"I assume you'll want a copy of Jerrod's room key, just in case? I'll mnention it to Stacy." Arachne smiles a slow-motion smile. "Welcome to the team, Amanda. I'm sure you'll get along... just fine."

"By the way, what were you doing with Mesmeron?"

[I assume Amanda will explain as briefly as possible.]

Dr. Redgrave nods slowly. "How... interesting. The next time you meet him, let him know I would like to talk with him. I think he and I might be able to work together to track down the terrorists who attacked you and your brother."

[ So what is Glimmer doing right now? Has she left in search of the evil Fedrico Engada? Or has she not yet left the building?]]<

[ It's up to you. If you're caught up, then you know that Kakker and Krane are in the lab, and that Arachne and Powersurge went upstairs. What's Glimmer doing?

Okay, let's insert Glimmer's move in the front yard scene. As we remember, the heroes had just compared notes. And Kakker had just said...

[ "Right. It's time to get some answers." Kakker stalks toward the sealed room that apparently contains Arachne and Rasputin.

"i'd like to get a few answers myself," Glimmer says. "but i don't think i'll find them here. i'm going to check out fedrico engada's hangouts and see if i can vibe up our missing emerald. he was involved in the prison break -- i'll bet he's involved in her abduction, too.

"so i've got a plan. what i don't have is transportation. can anybody help?"

[[ I'll assume that Britestar will volunteer to fly Glimmer to Engada's place. She'll direct him to bring some casual wear so they can touch down a safe distance away from Engada's restaurant , La Gondola, and approach in civilian clothing. Once they're near the place, Glimmer will hang around just outside the building in her ever-stylish trenchcoat. ]]

"britestar, let's wait here for a few moments and see what i can learn. oh, and be ready to grab me and fly us to safety if i give the word. this can be a dangerous place."

Adaptor is a bit nonplussed by the doctor's redecorating of the lab. He will look around a bit, sifting thorugh the wreckage, helping to upright any tables or equipment that may have been knocked over. WHile doing so, he will ask Kakker to explain, if he can, in layman's terms, how the setup works, especially how Rasputin's organic computer 'brain' functions. (Jeff, if you want to send a player to player e-mail, that's cool)

First, a quick trip back down to the basement, provided that amongst the reams of disorganized papaerwork, there may have been some blueprints or floorplans of the base that may assist Kakker in his troubleshooting, and possibly provide some insight into how Rasputin worked...

And then a search: for whatever recording or surveillance devices may be in the lab. Adaptor knows a thing or two about control, about paranoia. And Dr. Redgrave strikes him as one who wouldn't allow anything to pass by unseen, even if it may need to be viewed later. And he has a hunch that if Rasputin really was intelligent, he'll not have allowed his death, if that's truly what it was, to pass by unseen, either.

Another hint of a smail passes across his features like a ripple and then is gone:

The game's afoot.

Amanda sits down on her bed and thinking, "I think he and I might be able to work together! My God, she is nuts! There is no way I'm staying here with her in charge."

With that she starts to get up and collect Jerrod... "But where would I go and how will I take care of J." She stops and realizes she has nowhere else to go...

Amanda goes down stairs to find Adaptor. Once she finds him she explain, " I have a meeting with that girl who had the camera. It will be at a place called Winchell's. Do you know where that is?"

If he does then she will ask him and Krane to come with her. Just to have backup. She won't tell them that the girl is in league with Mesmeron. What was her name again?

She will also ask the maid, "I have to go out for a bit will you please watch Jerrod my brother... I'm sorry. My name is Amanda. Pleased to meet you." I give her the million dollar smile to put her at ease.

Brightstar and Glimmer land in a shadowed alley near La Gondola, an expensive Italian restaurant that overlooks the Pacific Ocean in Laguna Niguel. The business license filed with the city shows the owners of the restaurant as Family Meals, Inc. The incorporation paperwork filed at the state capital say that Family Meals, Inc. is itself owned by the Oakland Timber and Mining Company. The Oakland Timber and Mining Company is one of several corporations owned by Pacific Specialty Imports, a small Asian-import business with its headquarters in San Fransisco. Pacific Specialty Imports is owned by a Mexican corporation based in The Grand Cayman Islands.

The Mexican corporation in question is owned by a small group of very wealthy, very dangerous men, including a Portugese businessman named Federico Engada.

"Is this close enough, Glimmer?" Brightstar asks as he sets the young woman down in the cigarette-butt littered alley.

"Close enough," she says, slipping from his arms. Brightstar huddles behind a dumpster as he slips on a pair of slacks and loose-fitting shirt borrowed from Vanguard's closet. "Okay," he says, "I'm ready."

"There's a restaurant near here owned by a man named Engada. He was behind the attack at the prison, and I think he has something to do with Emerald's disappearance, too. My plan," Glimmer says, "is to hang out outside the restaurant and see what kind of vibes I pick up. It's a long shot, but we might get lucky."

Brightstar nods. "I'm with you. Where should I be?"

Glimmer thinks.

"There's an alley behind the restaurant. This areas too nice to have any bums, but you ought to be able to hide out for a while. If you see anything interesting, just call me. I'll hear you."

"Don't worry about me," Brightstar says. "I had practice being sneaky long before I got my powers.""

"Okay, let's do it."

Hmm. 'The Purloined Camera', Adaprote mutters to himself, wondering which one he needs to examine.

In the manner the others have come to expect of him, he simply hunkers down with a set of blueprints and begins to try to trace the various recording devices to thier sources, soliciting Kakker's help whenever available. He may not find anything, but, he's got the patience to check anyway.

Barring any emergencies or other interruptions, he'll simply continue his work into the night, perhaps catching quick cat naps if his body insists upon it...

Krane is more or less at a loss in this technological environment, but that won't stop him from looking around. He's keeping an eye out for anything out of the ordinary (and hoping that he'll be able to recognize it as such).

Kakker will point to the bundles of cable snaking across the room and up the walls into the ceiling. "See those? They conect between these" -- he points at the two relatively normal computers -- "and that" -- he points at the broken remains of the tank, half-full of blue gelatine.

"It looks like some of the cables go to some other pieces of equipment, too." He gestures at a few complex gizmos spread throughout the lab.

"A bunch of them go to that stuff, whatever it is." Here, Kakker is pointing to what appear to be some kind of Telsa coils next to a frame almost two meters square, next to the computer with the non-functioning holographic interface.

"I'm not sure what half this stuff does," Kakker admits, "but I think I could puzzle out most of it, given time. Getting these terminals reconnected to the network would give us a head start, but I think that" -- the cracked tank -- "was the network: Rasputin."

Amanda comes downstairs after getting Jerrod settled in. She looks for Stacy and finds her in the kitchen with Mr. Park. They're discussing recipes for Thai Chicken.

"Excuse me... I have to go out for a bit will; you please watch Jerrod my brother... I'm sorry. My name is Amanda," Powersurge says with a smile. "Pleased to meet you."

Stacy wipes her hands on a towel and shakes Amanda's hand. "My name's Stacy," she says, returning Amanda's smile. "I'm the receptionist, cook, and pretty much anything else the team needs. I'l make sure Jerrod is okay. I'll make him some lunch. Is he allergic to anything? What kind of food does he like?"

Amanda fills Stacy in on Jerrod's likes and dislikes, and the two girls chuckle over the quirks of little boys. Stacy promises to go shopping with Amanda when the place settles down. "In the meantime," she says, "I'll get some essentials together for you and put them in your bathroom. Okay?"

Well, Amanda thinks to herself, maybe this place won't be so bad, after all.

Amanda goes down stairs to find Adaptor. Once she finds him she explain, "I have a meeting with that girl who had the camera. It will be at a place called Winchell's. Do you know where that is?"

"Hmmm," Adaptor muses. "I'm not really familiar with this area, but I think we passed a Winchell's on the way back from West Covina. I think it was three or four miles down the road. That's the only Winchell's I know about around here."

[Insert comments from Jim Crocker here, assuming he has any. BTW, Winchell's is a doughnut chain, like Dunkin' Donuts or Krispy Kreme.]

"If you and Krane aren't busy... " she looks at the four men (Kakker, Prism, Krane, and Adaptor) looking at schematics or tracing out wiring, "I was wondering if you would mind coming with me to a meeting with that girl from the apartment complex this afternoon. You know, the girl with the camera? I'd just feel better if I wasn't alone."

Kakker looks over his shoulder at the girl with a medium-unpleasant sneer.

"Yes, I would imagine so with the recent rash of animated trash dumpster muggings." He lets that hang for moment.

But she offers no fight and looking visible hurt (about to cry). She runs upstairs and sits at the top of the stairs.

As Amanda sits at the top of the stairs, her eyes silently filling with tears, she feels a sharp, cold blade touch her left shoulder. Her head jerks to look: it's one of Dr. Redgrave's claws, gleaming evilly in the warm, indirect lighting of the stairwell. Amanda's gaze follows the tentacle until it reaches the side of Arachne, who looks down on Amanda with a pitying expression.

"Is something wrong, Amanda?" Arachne asks the forlorn heroine. "Are you feeling overwhelmed, perhaps? You know, I've been studying your file, and I think I have something that will make you feel better."

Arachne smiles a predator smile.

"Paranormals and their powers are my field of expertise. No one on earth knows as much about them as I do. As it happens, not too long ago I created a biosynthetic modulation resonator that would be perfect for helping you harness and control your powers. That would make you more than a match for whoever is hunting you, which seems to be a major cause of your problems."

Arachne places her golden-gauntleted hands on Amanda's arms and lifts the girl gently but firmly to her feet. Just behind Aranche her tentacles sway, blade-claws ready to assist if the strength of Dr. Redgrave's natural appendages should be insufficient for the task.

"It's down in the clinic... why don't we take a look, hmm?"

Dr. Redgrave raises a purple eyebrow, and smiles as warmly as she can, her glittering eyes an almost electric shade of green.

Amanda's eyes are wide open but she collects herself and wipes her tears. Thinking quickly, "I.. I can't right now. I'm going out with Krane and Adaptor... In a couple of minutes... Maybe when I get back." She slowly walks backwards and when she hits the stairs FLIES down them.

She will find Krane and Adaptor and tell them she is ready to go... NOW!

It's a thought though... would the character get more power? How much of a deal am I making with the devil? [[grin]]

Glimmer hangs out outside the restaurant, trying to look inconspicuous. She wanders around a bit, trying to blend in with the people coming and going. But her attention isn't on her surroundings.

Her senses are extended deep into the restaurant. Is Engada inside? She tries to listen for his voice, for any voice she recognizes. She stops at the corner of the building, between the La Gondola and the custom art store next door, and focuses her attention as far into the building as she can....

"Ah, so nice to see you again," says a smooth, cultured voice.

Glimmer looks up to see a shadowy figure sillouetted on the rooftop above her. A blood red cloak seems to drip from his shoulders and over the edge of the building. His eyes are scarlet sickles in a black, featureless face.

"I'm afraid we weren't properly introduced when last we met. Allow me to introduce myself: I am called Grendel. May I have the honor of knowing your name?"

Adaptor doesn't look up from the blueprint he's studying.

'Yes, Amanda, I'll accompany you to the meeting. I am also curious what the young woman managed to capture on her camera, and especially why the police were so anxious to obtain it. Please simply inform me when you are ready to depart."

With that, he returns to his attempts to work out where to access some more difintive record of what happened in the lab. When Amanda says so, he simply stops in the middle of wherever he is (he can pick up again in exactly the same spot later...) and accompanies her to the meeting.

PS: One note for any other players who may 'quote' Adaptor in thier posts. One thing the others characters may notice is that Adaptor never says "I believe, I think, I'm pretty sure...", etc. when referring to an observable fact he has seen. He considers his memory completely photographic and pretty much infallible (he's not smug about it, it's simply that way...). In matters of factual information, he will either give a definite answer, or none at all. If he doesn't know, he'll say so directly, and never hedge. [Of course, speculation on the motives or emotions of other people are another matter entirely... ; ) ] Hope this helps....

So, to edit Konji's post slightly.... Adaptor says... "We passed a building with a sign that said 'Winchells' 4.3 miles Northwest (?) of the compound when we were returning from the apartment building..." or something more along those lines.

When Powersurge walks in Krane looks up from the pile of rubble he was sifting through (looking for anything that might prove helpful).

"I will also accompany you," Krane adds to Adaptor's comments, "I would certainly like to find out why the police were so concerned with this seemingly innocent girl."

Both Kakker and Adaptor simulataneously (though separately) come to the conclusion that there are way too many cables leading to that bunch of Tesla coils by the holo-station. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a way to get the stuff working without Rasputin (unless you surpise me with something I haven't thought of). Many long hours of working on it, spread over the next couple of adventures, might bear fruit, however.

[[ "I'm afraid we weren't properly introduced when last we met. Allow me to introduce myself: I am called Grendel. May I have the honor of knowing your name?"

"sheesh!' says Glimmer. "i foiled your mission at the prison. i rescued a mess of prisoners, including your intended target. and still you don't know my name. what's a girl have to do to get some name recognition in this town?"

Grendel chuckles; a soft, throaty sound.

As she addresses Grendel, she activates her Vanguard communicator so the others can hear this conversation. [ Brandon, I'm not sure how these things operate. She wants it to run in a send-only mode. If it doesn't have a send-only mode, that is, if it's going to be making noise, Glimmer will suppress the sound that it makes. ]

"grendel, i call myself 'glimmer.'

Grendel nods his head slowly, once. Something in his manner gives it the somber respect of a deep bow. Glimmer can almost imagine this man in a tux, bowing deeply before some bejewelled queen or princess, leading her to the ballroom as Mozart plays in the background....

Glimmer sets the comm badge for hands-free operation, and sets up a low level of white noise to cancel out the sound it makes. She isn't quite sure =how= she does it -- it just seems to come naturally.

"now, i don't want to attack you just yet. and i don't think you're foolish enough to attack me right here and incriminate the owner of this fine restaurant, but just in case..."

She activates her force field.

"Your concern is touching," Grendel says drily. His voice has a very faint educated English accent -- that of someone who has lived in the States for quite some time. With the sarcasm in his voice, he sounds a bit like Jeremy Irons.

"The problem is, =what= makes you think I care one whit for the owner of this establishment? In fact, what would you say if I told you =he= was the reason I'm here?"

"The question is before me now is, do I pay a visit to him =first=, and cheat myself of =your= scintillating company, or do I dally here with =you=, giving him the precious moments =he= needs to escape? It is =quite= a dilemma, don't you think? The lady and the tiger, as it were."

Grendel crouches on the edge of the rooftop, his claws clutching the edge like a gargoyle.

"Ah," he sighs wistfully. "The tribulations we super-heroes face, hmm?"

"you're trying to decide between my company and your mission? that's an easy choice.

"have both."

Glimmer pauses briefly to observe Grendel's reaction.

"look, i've seen you at work. you're sloppy. if i let you go on this little errand alone, a whole bunch of people are gonna die, in addition to the louse you were sent to kill. i figure that, with me along, nobody dies except for the owner of this place. and from what i've gathered observing this place, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy."

Another pause.

"so, where do we start? i can tell you a little bit about his security and his escape options."

Top Ten Reasons Why Glimmer's Offering To Help Grendel:

10) She really wants to prevent needless deaths.

9) Federico Engada deserves to die. (He is, logically, the "owner of this establishment" Grendel's talking about, yes?)

8) Donna thinks, 'I'm not a heroine, but I play one on TV.'

7) Fighting Grendel right here and now could be suicide.

6) Maybe Grendel's bluffing. (She'll start monitoring his vitals for signs of dishonesty.)

5) This is a great opportunity to gather information about Grendel's employment situation, which could lead to some bigger fish.

4) Donna's secret is bound to come out eventually and she'll be returning to the slammer. She may as well do something to really deserve it.

3) Grendel is kind of a handsome guy. And it's not like this is the first multiple-murderer Donna has ever gotten to know.

2) She can always change her mind part-way into the mission.

1) The Vanguard communicator is still on, so the heroes (esp. Britestar) might be able to do something about this.

At 9:45pm, Amanda with Stacy puts Jerrod to bed. She really thanks Stacy, "Man, I've never seen him go to sleep so fast. I really appreciate you watching J. I have to go out but I'll be back later tonight. No, I wish it was a date [[grin]]."

"Oh, it's no trouble," Stacy says. "He's a big boy, it's not like I have to change his diapers. I have six brothers: two older, four younger. I couldn't =wait= for the youngest to finally be toilet-trained. I thought I was going to be changing diapers forever!"

Stacy makes a mock-disgusted face, then smiles.

"If he wakes up in the night and asks for you, what should I tell him? Or is he used to this life by now?"

Amanda thinks of the nightmares that sometimes wake up Jerrod in the middle of the night, nightmares where their mother is killed in a fire, and she takes him away from their father.

Amanda thinks for a second... "Don't say a word. Just hold him. Hold him tight and don't make a sound."

Amanda remembers how her mother would comfort Jerrod with just her presence. How a warm hug would do more than any words could ever do.

"Kiss him on his forehead gently and he'll go right back to sleep. Don't leave him for abit. Let him know you're there."


At 10:45pm, I tell Adaptor let's go. I also find Krane and inform him that we are ready. Amanda also looks in on Kakker but doesn't say anything to him... she still remembers what she did to him.

As we are getting ready to leave, "I think it would be a good idea if I flew and you drive or whatever means of transport you have. It wouldn't look to good if we arrive at the same time... and in uniform. Do you think you can cover up?"

NOTE: Before Amanda leaves she asks for a communicator. A belt buckle maybe?

"I'll talk with the girl and leave my communicator open so we can all get the conversation. Is there any questions you think I should be asking?"

Adaptor resolves to spend the next several weeks doping this problem out (hopefully with some help from Kakker and maybe even Glimmer...), provided he has any free time to do so...

Kakker is willing to help undemolish the lab network, which should be helped along with his "MacGuyver power pool." ;-)

After a few minutes, Kakker realizes that this Adaptor has a superhumanly-disciplined mind. He's stricken with a wave of envy succeeded by a mild despair when reminded of his father.

"Adaptor, can you tell me who was the woman with whom Dr. Redgrave spoke at the funeral? Leather outfit, left in an air vehicle?"

[Assuming Adaptor was there, Kakker will ask for more information like their relationship, what was said, how to contact her, etc. Belatedly, he will ask after Adaptor's opinion of being used as a database.]

"Sloppy?" Grendel chuckles. "You have no idea."

He stands up on the edge of the roof, sillouetted against the sky.

"Your offer is kind, Glimmer, but I work alone. Fear not: I'm certain our paths will cross again."

From out of nowhere a streak of light blindsides Grendel, smashing into him and throwing him from the rooftop. As he plummets to the ground, cape billowing out behind him, the streak of light curves into the sky and hovers there.

It's Brightstar.

"Good delaying tactic, GLimmer!" He shouts down at the woman in white.

"Now let's put this psycho away!" Light flares from Brightstar's fists, lancing down at the huddled crimson shape just now rising to it's feet. Grendel isn't surprised this time, though: the spear of light misses him, etching a jagged hole in the alley pavement.

Glimmer reacts to Brightstar's intrusion with a wave of her hand. An observer might think, at first, that it was a friendly wave. But that observer would have to overlook the crushing patterns of force which accompany it.

She fires an attack over Grendel's head, directly at Brightstar.

"Her name is Shrike," Adaptor says."She's the leader of the Barclay's group in San Diego. She has been the leader since 1979, when Red Demon and Sapphire retired. She's a martial artist, specializing in kicks. Her spinning side kick has been clocked at 972 feet per second."

Adaptor pauses a moment.

"According to Apex, a former Vanguard member, Shrike's personal skills are lacking, but she is the only one able to control that team. They have a reputation for being rugged individualists, and have frequently been accused of using excessive force in the performance of their superheroic duties. From reports filed by Vanguard in the mid-eighties, this was a source of friction between Vanguard and Barclay's."

"Incidentally, Red Demon and Sapphire founded the Barclay's group in 1972, with the financial support of Barclay's Bank. The corporation ceased its support for the group in 1983, when the Barclay's group was held resposible for destroying part of downtown San Diego. Since then they've relied on their members to provide for the team's financial support."

After he reels off the statistics memorized from his Vanguard history research, he pauses and looks at Kakker, deadpan. "Hmph. I've never really thought about it, actually. It's simply a skill I use in service to the team. I probably feel about as offput as you do for being a travelling tool kit..."

[ Before she performs the "Glimmer v. Brightstar" action, Glimmer will say the following into her communicator. She will use her sound-suppression power to make sure that the communicator (that is, Brightstar) hears it but Grendel doesn't. ]

"brightstar, you've got to *trust* me. pretend what i'm going to do knocks you far, far away. then get the others and come back."

[ With that, she'll perform the "attack" described in the "Glimmer v. Brightstar" message I've mailed to you (and CC'ed to the other players). The "attack" will be more sound than fury. Call it a 1d6 or 2d6 EB, at best. ]

Krane listens to Adaptor and Kakker discussing the apparently 'dead' Rasputin. Half to himself he says, "So the machine who thinks he's a man is out of commision for a while."


Krane looks a little embarassed. "You see I had this dream with Emerald's Grandfather in it. It's all a little muddled, but there was a fire and people had died-- I think it was the fire at the prison, and there was an ancient man kept alive by who knows what. He told me things like I don't know him but I would and the fire that we lived through was nothing compared to the one that's coming."

Krane's obviously struggling to remember. "There was something about a man who thought he was a machine and a machine who thought he was a man. I just assumed Dr. Redgrave was the man who thought he (she) was a machine and Rasputin was the machine who thought he was a man."

Krane grins. "I'm not prone to dreams like this in general but this all happened when I was mystically hurled from the prison just as it blew."

[ "Her name is Shrike," Adaptor says."She's the leader of the Barclay's ... [ retired. She's a martial artist, specializing in kicks. Her spinning [ side kick has been clocked at 972 feet per second."

"Oooooow!" Kakker winces at the thought of a human limb traveling at 650 mph, let alone the human body it might impact.

Kakker is a bit diappointed. Shrike would NOT be the person to agree that Arachne's bahavior has been out of line.

[ using excessive force in the performance of their superheroic duties. [ From reports filed by Vanguard in the mid-eighties, this was a source of [ friction between Vanguard and Barclay's."

"Can you tell me which members of Vanguard were especially incensed by this? Any of them still living?"

Adaptor thinks for the better part of minute, mentally flipping pages of typed and handwritten reports.

"Quantum Man was Vanguard's leader until 1976. Several of his reports are critical of what he called 'Barclay's insensitivity to the risks their activities pose to civilians.' Unfortunately, when he retired he said he was 'going back to the stars,' so we may have trouble finding him. Omega Ray left at the same time -- actually, Omega Ray's expulsion from Vanguard is what precipitated Quantum Man's retirement. Based on Quantum Man's reports, he had great respect for Omega Ray, so he probably was of similar mind about Barclay's activities. His whereabouts are unknown, however: he vanished after being kicked out of Vanguard."

"Vanguard under Blue Star's leadership was less concerned with excessive force, with the notable exception of Dryad. This doesn't necessarily mean that they were cavalier about such things, but I haven't read any notable reports where they condemned the use of violence. I should point out, however, that I have several decades worth of reports still to read."

Adaptor pauses.

"Here's another possibility: Doctor Neutron was a member of Vanguard during World War 2, and for 12 years thereafter. According to he reports filed by Scarlet Avenger, Doctor Neutron was a constant voice of reason who urged the members of Vanguard to be aware of the danger their actions posed to normal humanity. He was a medical doctor before becoming a superhero: he retired in 1957 to private practice in Maryland."

Adaptor is interrupted by an "ahem" from the lab's main door.

"Excuse me," Mr. Park says. "The young woman in the kitchen would like to know how many people are going to be having dinner here this evening. She needs to know how many tuna steaks to prepare."

Without a pause in his running monologue tone, Adaptor addresses Mr. Park:

"Please ask Stacy if she could prepare mine in a salad with plain yogurt instead of mayonaise. I'd like some raw chopped asparagus mixed in with that if she has it, and [[[Adaptor's eyes flutter closed for the briefest of moments, as if he's looking through an internal menu]]] one half gallon of beet juice. That should give me sufficient fuel for my research. Thank you, Mr. Park."

Adaptor turns back to Kakker.

"Fish. Brain food."

And though he almost certainly knows it, adds, "Now where was I?"

Amanda careens into the lab door, bumping into Mr. Park from behind. He stumbles a bit, catching himself on the door jamb.

Amanda looks like she thinks someone is chasing her.

Mr. Park listens to Adaptor's detailed menu request with what one can only call an inscrutable look. When Adaptor finishes, Mr. Park pauses for a heartbeat before replying:

"I'll tell her six."

He then turns, nods to Amanda (who looks like she'd really like to go now), and heads back to the kitchen.

Brightstar is hit full force by Glimmer's force blast, blowing him a dozen meters backwards through the air. He flips end over end, spinning and careening out of control. This seems to go on a really long time.

Eventually, Brightstar rights himself, and gives Glimmer a long, hard look. Then he zips off to the north (generally speaking, toward LA and Vanguard).

Grendel's eyes narrow as he follows Brightstar's retreat, then his gaze swivels to Glimmer.

"You puzzle me, woman. I do not care to be puzzled. You toy with me at your peril."

"Adaptor, what do you know about Dr. Redgrave herself? Where did she go to school, for instance?" Kakker is becoming discouraged of their chances of digging up someone who would give a damn about Arachne's current state.

Kakker begins to set down the pieces of shattered computer electronics and begins to dig in his pockets. "And what do you make of those prosthetics she's added, Adaptor?"

[ Krane grins. "I'm not prone to dreams like this in general but this all [ happened when I was mystically hurled from the prison just as it blew."

Kakker looks at Krane as if Krane has offered him a lightly-grilled weasel on a bun with french fries.

Krane looks at the expression on Kakker's face and takes it in stride. "I don't make a habit of having these kinds of dreams/visions. But you have to admit that things fit a little too much. I know there's something to it."

Adaptor pauses for a moment.

"Actually, I do know someone who would be very interested in what has been going on with Doctor Redgrave. I don't know how much help he could provide us with, but he knew her previously, so he may be able to give some insight not included in the reports. I've been considering contacting him about our situation anyway. He may agree to meet with some of us if I ask. I'll give him a call."

"Not surprisingly, there is no information on the process Dr. Redgrave used to graft her prosthetic arms on, how they are constructed, or exactly what thier abilities are ." [I think that's safe to say, right, Brandon?]

"As for the doctor hereself..."

Amanda nods to Mr. Parks, "I'm sorry about bumping into you."

Then she finds Adaptor, "Let's go." [That should be all I need to say to him]

And she finds Krane, "Sorry but no time to eat. We've got an appointment."

[Yowsa! I'm back at last, with a brandy-new P133 and gobs^2 of old postings to be responded to. But actually, it won't take too much responding, since Prism won't have been taking part in much of the recent mayhem; see below. Apologies for the vast delays; hope it won't happen again, to me or anyone else (cf. the Night City Curse). And by the way, let me just say that when reading the backlog of posts, I was very pleasantly reminded of just how high the quality of writing in this game has been and continues to be. (I loved Adaptor's menu request and Mr. Park's "I'll tell her six.") Kudos to all. And so, without further delay...]

Prism stares silently into the wreckage of the lab for a long, long moment, barely registering Arachne's departure or his teammates' actions. When they glance up from the debris towards the door, Prism is gone.

He walks, invisibly -- no sense in attracting the attention of any possible surveillors -- to the television room, now dark and silent. He turns a single set on, the volume all the way down, and surfs until he finds a channel as dead as his mood, the color of a cyberpunk sky. He sits for a time in one massive, reinforced chair, visible once more, intently watching the reflection of the screen in the reflection of his torso in the screen. He does not move.

Then, some decision finally reached through the grinding of massive internal gears, he does move. Up from the chair, striding back through the hallway, looking for Arachne. His heavy crystal feet scuff the reinforced floors., though his steps are surprisingly quiet for one of his mass.

He will stop in the kitchen or the lab - whichever he comes to first - and quietly ask, "Where is she?" If there is any confusion about who 'she' is, he will add, "Arachne." His only further comment, if pressed, is, "I need to talk to her." His tone is grim, his expression as unyielding as the crystal it is carved in.

He does not seem to be in a particularly cheery mood.

As Prism tersely asks, "Where is she?", a shapely figure in blue and gold comes up behind him.

In a low, sweet voice, Dr. Redgrave asks "Yes, Prism? What can I do for you?"

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