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Thread: Curtains Ch.04 - Shell Games
Sunday, 21st May, 2006, 10:37 PM #1
Curtains Ch.04 - Shell Games
Ch.04 – Shell Games
Recap of Chapter 03 and bridge to Chapter 04.
Jorgi has gone completely MIA. Witnesses placed him at a downtown restaurant on the same night that all the other events went down. Word is that another flying metahuman attacked him on the street, telekinetically snatching his date and yelling things in Russian. Both flew off and that was the last that anyone has seen of either.
Security footage from a nearby building and a witness’ camera phone snapshots are the only clues remaining. Unfortunately, the quality of both was so poor as to be useless in trying to make an identification.
Fate has been trying to reconcile the possibility that he is the reincarnation of the ancient mage Sorcerer, one with an equally ancient and reincarnating nemesis known as Dracos. A coven of witches, dedicated the preserving the Sorcerer’s lore against the day of his return, tracked him down to request his aid in the search for one of their missing members. Using magic, he found the body of the missing girl as well as a vile entity that appeared to have been planted there by the man and “thing” that killed her. If there is a connection to Dracos, this certainly seems to corroborate.
Sorcerer’s followers have since gone into hiding, along with their families. Fate can get in touch with them if needed and they can do likewise with him. In the meantime, Fate has been trying to expand his search for information on the history of Sorcerer/Dracos (scant) as well as track down the girl’s killers (cold trail).
As part of a joint military/FBI operation, Granite was called in to fetch “terrorist” Abram Schott from his place of hiding in an old, abandoned mine. The situation became considerably more complicated when he found the mine populated with mercenaries as well as powerful lizard men. Schott met Granite and showed him a portal he’d created to the lizard men’s home world, explaining that he was trying to negotiate with them for power dampening technology that they’d developed for dealing with demons. His purpose – to stop a powerful demon that a secretive organization had unwittingly set loose in our world.
Schott further explained that the demon was feeding on metahumans and had grown beyond the power of its summoners to control. The summoners, purportedly, were also out to kill Abram and were likely behind the government’s attempt to capture him in the mine.
Things went bad when one of the lizard men smelled the blood of another on Granite. Fighting erupted and Schott closed the portal before more could get through. The abrupt shutdown triggered an explosion that destroyed a portion of the mine and buried most of the bodies. Abram survived and Granite chose to give his story the benefit of the doubt, leaving him to escape while telling the government agents that he believed Abram to have been caught in the blast.
Lawrence also managed to have a pretty lousy day. His father was kidnapped by thugs working for a group calling themselves the Archivists, held as leverage to force Lawrence to recover a stolen item – a pair of statuettes. He broke into the residence where they were presumed to be held and met the owner, a Mr. Zimmer.
Mr. Zimmer listened to Lawrence’s sorry, but honest, tale. For reasons of his own, he gave Lawrence the statuettes in exchange for a “favor” in return some day. One of the statuettes was a perfect likeness of Steven Faturius; the other of an unknown man. When Granite and Fate caught up to Lawrence before the exchange, Granite identified the unknown man as Abram Schott.
Following instructions, Lawrence brought the case to a park where it vanished. His father was dropped off across town, largely unaware of what had happened to him throughout the day.
Over the next couple weeks, the group tried in vain to track down Jorgi. He had vanished with scarcely a trace. They also tried to find some evidence of the Archivists, Mr. Thorn’s kidnappers. Again, they came up empty. And efforts were made to learn more about Abram Schott: brilliant, doctorates in Physics, Biochemistry, and Philosophy, worked briefly as a professor before changing careers to become a salesman at a car dealership, never married, and generally well-liked by those who know him. Nothing in his history shed any light on why he was in the bottom of a mine building a portal to another world.
Tuesday, 23rd May, 2006, 01:46 AM #2
June 17, 20:14
Dave's Steakhouse, Downtown Coast City
“Just give me the bottom line,” Ben said. He looked across the table at the unreadable studio executive.
“Very well,” the man said. “We’ve listened to your demo tracks and, frankly, they’re pretty okay.”
Ben tried to match the movie executive’s poker face. Belying his emotions, however, he could hear his own personal soundtrack introduce a few dissonant tones of frustration. With a conscious effort, he forced his musical aura to blend back into the restaurant’s quiet muzak.
When Ben said nothing, the man continued on. “There’s a good chance we can sign you for some freelance composing, probably a few small television show gigs, just to see how things work out. The fact that you’re, well, a super, might be to your advantage in time. At least for the novelty. What we’ve heard so far, though, just doesn’t quite reach the critical levels needed to sustain a motion picture.”
Throughout the rest of dinner, Ben tried to placate himself. He knew the market for major composers was a tough one to crack. Even his super-powered advantages failed to provide the edge to push him to the inside.
As the plates were cleared, he noticed an abrupt change in his personal soundtrack. The perpetual music that surrounded him would occasionally signal changes in his environment even before his conscious mind had become aware of them. There was a building tension in tone and pitch. Something was about to happen - something bad.
While the exec regaled Ben with an amusing anecdote about Danny Elfman’s early career, Ben was busy searching the other tables for signs of trouble. Halfway across the room, a man forcefully stood from his table, knocking over his chair in the process. He drew a pistol from his jacket and leveled it at the man sitting across from him – Big Bling, a local rap star that Ben recognized from his work in radio.
Big Bling held his hands up defensively, trying to placate the gunman who was going off about “respect.” The rest of the patrons began to duck beneath tables or scramble for the exits.
On impulse, Ben decided to take it upon himself to try to diffuse the situation. Using his ability to create sound, he generated the sound of a pistol cocking right behind the gunman’s head. Then, in a menacing projected voice, he “whispered” into the guy’s ear.
“Ever hear of the Invisible Man?”
The thug with the gun tensed up and nodded curtly.
“Well, I’m the Invisible Man with the invisible gun,” Ben continued to project. His own musical aura dramatically highlighted the tension in the room. “If you do anything other than carefully place your piece on the table, I’ll put a bullet in the back of your head.”
Ben sensed another increase in the tension of his soundtrack. Following its cues, he glanced across the room. There he found another man coming from the direction of the restrooms who was drawing a handgun of his own and taking aim at the gunman. Unsure of the newcomer’s intent (probably Big Bling’s bodyguard), Ben decided to act fast. He projected a concussive blast of focused sonic energy at the second gunman. The blast distorted the air in a column across the restaurant, sending napkins flying and glasses shattering. It struck the man full in the chest, knocking him unconscious against a wall.
The first gunman flinched at the echoing boom from Ben’s blast. He couldn’t seem to grasp what had just happened and clearly hadn’t realized Ben’s role in the attack.
“Gun on table,” Ben reminded him through the projected voice in his ear. “Slowly.”
The man followed orders, placing his handgun on the table. Big Bling, across the table, heaved a sigh of relief and wisely made no move for the gun sitting on the table.
After instructing the man to lie on the floor, Ben finally rose from his own seat. He confidently strode over to Big Bling’s table and unloaded the gun. Big Bling mouth full of gold-capped teeth grinned widely at him.
“You da guy responsible for all this?” he said.
“Something like that,” Ben said.
“Then I owe you some thanks,” Bling said. “I knew this guy would be nothing but trouble. Looks like he proved me right. And don’t worry ‘bout putting my own protection on his ass. He might have become trigger happy, so you probably saved him a world of trouble down the road.”
The cops arrived a few minutes later, cuffing the perp and taking statements. After Ben’s rather lengthy statement, the movie studio exec cornered him again.
“You know, Mr. Harmon,” he said, “I heard the music you were making while that all went down. That was real, intense. It was amazing. Much better than the demo you sent us earlier. If you can figure out how to score music like that to order, then your future in the industry will be assured. Give me a call when you figure it out.”
Ben sighed. The exec was right; his subconscious music always seemed to fit the situation better than anything he could consciously score.
A young woman approached Ben moments after the exec departed. “Excuse me,” she said, offering her hand. “My name’s Sandra Poynter. I run the Coast City Metahuman Rights organization. That was quite an impressive and creative display of powers, there. If you’re into that sort of thing…you know, hero work…then I think I should introduce you to an acquaintance of mine.”
(...more to come...)
Thursday, 25th May, 2006, 04:44 AM #3
Ch.04 - Shell Games
June 23, 20:02
Approaching Gypsy Yard, Coast City
Kombat watched the sun setting over the Coast City skyline, marvelling at how it served only to accentuate the vibrance of the city compared with what he had known back in Russia. Sure, things had improved as capitalism took root in the homeland, but it would take time to ever rival this American metropolis in beauty and affluence.
Mikalovich had gotten a four week headstart on him and only a chance viewing of a news clip had lead him to Coast City. It seemed that Mikalovich had brushed with a local hero and portions had been caught on film - poorly, but it was good enough for Kombat to recognize him. Several inquiries later, he'd found himself in the local field office of the FBI who'd taken the lead on the Jorgi Vadislav missing persons case. That agent had recommended a meeting between Kombat and Jorgi's comrades to exchange information.
"This is the place," the agent said, pulling into a nearly vacant parking lot. The building had the look of an abandoned warehouse, but with clear signs of recent upgrades.
The agent parked his government issued sedan and led Kombat around to a solid metal door. There was neither a keyhole nor even a knob, only an electronic scanner of some sort. The agent pressed a button beside the scanner.
"They should be in," he said. "Hopefully they've got the doorbell working."
June 23, 20:17
Headquarters, Gypsy Yard, Coast City
The headquarters building for the still unnamed Coast City super hero team had been installed at this location for a number of reasons. For starters, it's location was close to the center of the city, yet far enough removed from high-trafficked areas to minimize any civilian casualties in the event of a potential attack. Secondly, the real estate in this old industrial neighborhood was cheap. And perhaps most importantly, the building had originally been built as a munitions depot in WWII - meaning it had very thick and highly reinforced concrete construction. It was literally designed to withstand a direct bomb attack. Somehow, it seemed a prudent choice.
The team's joint sponsors, the Department of Homeland Security and Aztechnologies, were still in the process of renovating the facility. Enough had been done so far, though, to allow the team to begin to utilize it for meetings and such. At this time of night, it was eerily quiet.
Werner Schwartzeit, CEO of Aztechnologies, had insisted that the interior be both practical and asthetic, distinguishing it from a typical government operation. The private hall in which the group now met was one of the first rooms to get this treatment - white oak flooring, leather furniture, 60" plasma television, and a large kitchen in gleaming white and stainless steel. Numerous plants and tasteful abstract paintings gave the room a sense of warmth and comfort.
Fate was the last to arrive, hurrying over from a speaking engagement on the opposite side of town. Most of the team had already met Ben Harmon, Soundtrack, who had come recommended by Sandra Poynter of the CC Metahumans Rights organization. Tonight was to have been the first full team meeting and strategy/tactics session at the new facility. Earlier in the afternoon, however, Fate had received a phone call from the FBI. Someone claimed to know the suspected perpetrator in Jorgi (and his girlfriend's) disappearance and was interested in exchanging information.
Presumably, that someone had just arrived.
Thursday, 25th May, 2006, 02:23 PM #4
Enchanter (Lvl 12)
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Lawrence is on the computer. As he here the door ring, he shout. "Can someone answer?". He continue to write down his message.
Subject: You should see that...
Hey Yan. The headquater construction is going good. You should see that. I'll live in a luxurious place compare to my last appartment. If the diagreement of being a super wouldn't so damn bad, I could like that.
I know I've told it twice already, but take care of you. I don't know what those guys are able to do. they already kidnap my father and killed Gus. I don,t think they will kill you. Gus was implicated in something that frustrated them... well, someone implicated him. I just want to be sure you are taking your precaution. I pretty sure they will come back to me sooner or later.
But that's not the reason I wrote to you. I still have no news of Jenn. Do you know what happen to her. I've sent three email since I run away, but I don't want to annoy her. I just want to know what she is becoming and if I would have a chance to see her again.
I have some homework to do... I am now doing private course. My father want me to learn an honest job, as he said. I've started to learn software engineering. Not so bad, but I'm not sure if it will be of some use. Well, as long as our techno friend is gone, I think I might come handy, but I would prefer to see Jorgi soon rather to have to take intensive course.
Thursday, 25th May, 2006, 03:53 PM #5
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Fate (HP: 5), Sport Coat and tie ensemble
Fate had barely remembered the location this evening, his mind was a flux with issues for the new team, his missing team member, thoughts on the Sorceror, and the threat that seemed to be behind several of the incidents so far, and finally on the troubled teens that he spoke with earlier that very evening.
Wearing a brown sport coat, beige mock turtleneck shirt, and dockers, Steven was just going over his meeting notes for their first team meeting . . . or at least the first one in which minutes were recorded and decisions would be made. Running a hand through his salt and pepper hair, Steven was considering whether to add another topic for discussion when the buzzer sounded. Steven looked at his phone, then his cell phone, then his office clock before realizing that it was the front door.
Fate hopped up from the desk and hustled to answer the door, first checking the security feeds before opening the door. Fate didn't know if they would eventually have support staff here or not, but it would make door and phone answering less of a chore.
Opening the door, Steven offered, "Good evening, sir. May I help you?"
Friday, 26th May, 2006, 08:10 PM #6
(ooc - A portion of the HQ building is set aside as the "public" section, with a reception area, meeting room, and so on. Most of the rest is isolated in a higher security area. A full-time receptionist as well as a public liason are budgeted but have not been hired yet. The team is allowed to handle the hiring, subject to the candidate passing an FBI background check...all of which will probably be handled "off camera".
The public section of HQ is the least finished at this point. Kombat and the FBI agent have arrived at a side entrance.)
Saturday, 27th May, 2006, 02:34 AM #7
Ben sank back into a comfy chair, idly watching news on the television. The others had been pretty friendly to him so far, but he'd sensed a bit of a tense undercurrent in their attitude. From what he'd heard about their recent experiences and missing teammate, he could understand.
By force of will, he tried to keep his musical ambiance in check and dialed down to "quiet." The tone was subtle, revealing a bit of boredom mixed with nerves at this first official team meeting since he joined on a probationary basis.
When the bell rang, Fate went to answer it. Rather than tag along, Ben decided to fetch a drink, just for something to do while waiting on the meeting to get started. He looked over to Lawrence, typing away at the computer, and to Thomas on the other side of the room.
"Hey, can I get either of you a drink?" he said.
Saturday, 27th May, 2006, 03:00 PM #8
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
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Originally Posted by Keia
He replied in a heavy russian accent.
"Da! I am needing your help in tracking a killer!"
Saturday, 27th May, 2006, 04:06 PM #9
Enchanter (Lvl 12)
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"Yes" answers Lawrence to Ben. "Bring me some juice. Thanks"
He then go on teh net and start to browse to find all article on the team, to get a feedback on what teh public is thinking of them.
Monday, 29th May, 2006, 03:02 PM #10
"Good evening, Professor Fate," Agent Simmons says. Fate has dealt with the lead investigator for Jorgi's case on several occasions over the last two weeks. He seems competent enough.
"I'd like to introduce Ivan Danko," he says. "He thinks he knows our suspect and I'm hoping that we can compare notes...since we're all more or less working on the same case, even if it's in an unofficial capacity." Fate senses just a slight, concealed jab in this last statement. The FBI is generally not keen on opening details of their investigations. Higher up powers in Homeland Security, however, insisted on allowing Coast City's new super team to be "involved."
"Mr. Danko, this is Professor Fate, local super hero who has helped stop a couple of other super-powered menaces over the last few months."
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