Curtains #1 - A Crossing of Paths




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    Curtains #1 - A Crossing of Paths

    On October 15th of last year, mysterious curtains of multi-colored light passed over the surface of the Earth. Some areas were missed altogether, while others saw several waves pass. Most who saw these curtains of light described them as similar to the most impressive aurora borealis displays. Both beautiful and disturbing, they seemed harmless at first.

    Speculation as to the curtains' nature and origin was a popular topic in the news. Suggestions included natural or celestial phenomenon, military experiments, holy or unholy signals, and the like.

    Within days of the first outbreak, reports started pouring in of strange phenomena. Humans who had mutated or acquired strange powers. Animals with altered behavior. Buildings and other places also exhibited seemingly impossible properties. Magic, super powers, or divine intervention were seemingly the only suitable lables for these changes in the nature of the world.

    Several months have now passed, and humanity is only beginning to come to grips with the changes. The curtains of energy still sweep over areas, but with decreasing frequency and intensity. Some people with "super powers" have made their presence known by committing acts both criminal and benevolent. While a seemingly low percentage of people were directly affected, that still leaves presumably millions who have been changed.

    This is the story of a few of those people...and how they come to terms with their new powers in a world where the line between fantasy and reality has disintigrated.
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    Rikko's, Northbrook, Coast City
    April 15
    12:13

    Dr. Steven Faturius's cab weaves through the busy lunch hour traffic in the fashionable Northbrook neighborhood of Coast City. As if on cue, another cab pulls away from the curb in front of Rikko's just in time to allow Steven's to slide in. He slips a crisp twenty to the cabbie and mounts the curb.

    Rikko's, sandwiched between a pair of art galleries, is just one of the latest ultra-chic restaurants to open in Northbrook. He thinks that it has gotten good reviews, but he can't quite recall what type of food they're supposed to serve. He weaves through the sidewalk's heavy foot traffic, drawn outside by the warm springtime sun, and reaches the door.

    "Dr. Faturius," the matre d' says smoothly as recognition sets in. "Your party is waiting."

    The matre d' leads Faturius through the dining room full with the lunch crowd. The decore is classy minimalist - predominantly cherry wood furnishings with green and black accents. Steven gets several looks of recognition, though no autograph requests. He's finally grown comfortable with his minor celebrity status.

    Maggie, his agent, rises from a table against the wall. She is wearing a fashionable skirt and blouse with plunging neckline - a look that wouldn't work on most forty-somethings, but she is still able to pull it off admirably. She gives Steven a warm smile, light embrace, and a phantom cheek-to-cheek kiss.

    "Steven, darling," she says as she waives him to his seat, "you know how rude it is to keep a lady waiting."


    ***************

    Keyhole Apartments, Riverside, Coast City
    April 15
    14:40

    Jorgi Vadislav's new apartment is still largely unfurnished - something he keeps meaning to remedy. In spite of the barren white walls and empty spans of maple flooring, he likes the place. The apartment was only recently opened in the renovated husk of an old brewery. His particular unit on the fourth floor has an excellent view of the Slate River.

    Sitting at his computer desk, the first and still only piece of furniture he has purchased, Jorgi has been surfing through job websites in search of interesting work in the Central City area. Most of them are highly unappealing, even if his talents might make him over qualified. With money not being a primary concern, he is more keen on finding interesting work.

    One ad finally catches his eye:

    Can you set up a computer network, troubleshoot a photocopier, and program a VCR?
    Do you scoff at technical manuals and sneer at customer support representatives?
    Are there more spare computer components in your kitchen than dishes?
    Can you distinguish between a AT-AT and an AT-ST?

    If so, then you might be the type of person we're looking for to join our team - a genuine Geek.

    No particular education requirements. If you can handle the questions above, you'll have a pretty good idea of whether you're qualified or not.

    Give us a call. SG Services, Inc.

    **************

    "The Orbit", Peace Park, Downtown, Coast City
    April 15
    14:55

    "The Orbit" is a pair of parallel paved paths that run around the circumference of the circular Peace Park in the center of downtown Coast City. One path accomodates bikers and in-line skaters, the other is for jogging and walking. Nearly two miles in length and without any cross traffic, "The Orbit" has become an extremely popular recreation destination.

    Since leaving the Army, Thomas O'Riley has tried to maintain the instilled sense of structure and discipline in his life. A part of that includes jogging around Peace Park every afternoon before going to work. The routine usually involves a stretch, three or four laps around the Orbit, and a cool-down stretch.

    Today, while doing his cool-down strech in a grassy area near the paths, a man approaches him. The guy is dressed in brown slacks and a white dress shirt. The top button is open and a slightly-out-of-style tie hangs limply around his neck. His hair is brown, streaked with gray, and receding significantly. In spite of the rest of his dishevelled appearance, the bright eyes behind his metal framed glasses are sharp and always moving. Nothing would seem to miss his observation.

    The man stops a polite distance from Thomas. "Howdy there," he says pleasantly. "I'm Arty Hagan, reporter for the Coast City Chronicle. I am doing a story on how the people of Coast City feel about metahumans. Mind if I ask you a couple questions? Everything is completely anonymous, if you like."


    ****************

    A dark alley, Downtown, Coast City
    April 15
    19:57

    Lawrence Thorn had been on his own for just over a week, struggling to find his own way on the streets of downtown Coast City. After the incident with the thugs, in which he transformed into the swarm of spiders before both his best friend and girlfriend, he felt that he couldn't face living at home any longer.

    Having only the few dollars in his pocket to his name, he had quickly gained an appreciation for the challenges of living on the streets. With his powers, theft would be a simple matter, but he found an urge to rise above such petty things unless he had no other choice. He had spent the last few nights camping out on a warm grate with a fellow homeless man by the name of Gus. Lawrence was pretty sure that Gus had a mutant ability to speak with the animals of the street. Gus, meanwhile, was very sympathetic to Lawrence's plight and did what he could to help the young man.

    During the daytime, Gus went his own way. Lawrence wandered, looking for opportunities for work, anything that would give him a start to surviving on his own. So far, he found that lacking a permanent address closed a lot of doors.

    At the end of yet another unsuccessful day, he is making his way through the streets to meet up with Gus for dinner. Self-conscious about his deteriorating appearance, Lawrence tries to stick to the alleyways and less used streets. He is generally overlooked, but this evening a group of punks feel the need to be assertive.

    Five guys in their late teens to mid-twenties, each wearing gang colors, cut Lawrence off in a particularly dark alley.

    "Yo, look at that mess," one guy says.

    "Yeah. Doesn't even have the smarts to know that this is our street."

    "Got some green, skinny? You gotta pay the toll to use our street...and you've already used part of it without askin'. That'll cost ya extra."

    They appear unarmed, but there is plenty of room for knives or pistols within their bulky jackets.
    Last edited by Rybaer; Friday, 16th April, 2004 at 06:14 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rybaer
    "The Orbit", Peace Park, Downtown, Coast City
    April 15
    14:55

    The man stops a polite distance from Thomas. "Howdy there," he says pleasantly. "I'm Arty Hagan, reporter for the Coast City Chronicle. I am doing a story on how the people of Coast City feel about metahumans. Mind if I ask you a couple questions? Everything is completely anonymous, if you like."
    Thomas pauses in his stretching and glances over at the reporter, at first glance his instincts told me not to trust this man, but he couldn't pin down the exact reason why. Thomas gets up and dusts himself off.

    "Sure specks, why not. But you caught me in my morning routine, so if you want to talk you have to keep up."

    Thomas turns and heads towards the small work out area that the city maintains not even bothering to see if the reporter follows, he only pauses to let a women jogger pass by in front of him, he watches her as she continues on down the path.

    "Nice." Is all he says as he continues walking. Once he gets to the work out section he will start to down his cool-down exercises, he pauses before he starts to see if the reporter followed.
    Last edited by Mimic; Friday, 16th April, 2004 at 05:02 PM.

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    "The Orbit", Peace Park, Downtown, Coast City


    The reporter seems game and follows Thomas. He pulls a heavily worn notepad holder from his back pocket and snaps a pen to the ready.

    "Okay," he says as he scribbles something on the notepad. "Let's start off with a couple easy questions. First: What is your occupation? Second: Do you personally know any metahumans? Third: Have you exhibited any metahuman powers that you are aware of?"

    His bright eyes leave the paper and focus on Thomas. The reporter's expression is neutral, but focused - he seems to be genuinely intent on his work.
    Last edited by Rybaer; Saturday, 17th April, 2004 at 06:50 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rybaer
    Five guys in their late teens to mid-twenties, each wearing gang colors, cut Lawrence off in a particularly dark alley.

    "Yo, look at that mess," one guy says.

    "Yeah. Doesn't even have the smarts to know that this is our street."

    "Got some green, skinny? You gotta pay the toll to use our street...and you've already used part of it without askin'. That'll cost ya extra."

    They appear unarmed, but there is plenty of room for knives or pistols within their bulky jackets.
    Lawrence looks nervous. Not again he thinks to himself. "I... I am... sorry. I didn't want... I didn't knew... I have no money, only those cloth. I... don't want to fight... it would give nothing... you don't want to fight me... I... I know what you think... but please... don't harm me... if you want, i'll come back and pay..."

    If they ever start a combat, I use my dodge feat against all attacks.
    Last edited by Velmont; Saturday, 17th April, 2004 at 01:34 AM.
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    Dr. Steven Faturius (Prof. Fate)

    Rikko's, Northbrook, Coast City
    April 15
    12:13

    Steven was running late . . . again. It was difficult for him to even travel in public these days - not that he didn't still enjoy - he did. The diversity of the people in Coast City was something that was different from his former home of Laketown.

    Steven had given the first taxi he had gotten to a woman in need - she was late for a doctor's appointment. He thought it odd to go to the doctor's in a mini-skirt, but he gave her the taxi nevertheless. Only when a doorman recognized him and whistled for a taxi for him was he able to finally get one - only to keep the taxi waiting for five minutes while giving the doorman some requested advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maggie
    "Steven, darling," she says as she waives him to his seat, "you know how rude it is to keep a lady waiting."
    "Hello, Maggie," Steven said smoothly, "you look absolutely stunning. I apologize deeply for being late - taxis and whatnot, you know."

    Steven helped Maggie back into her seat and took one of his own next to her. "I've heard good things about this restaurant, but haven't yet had the opportunity. Have you been here before?"

    Steven listened with interest, something he had learned and tried to pass on to as many others as he could.
    Last edited by Keia; Saturday, 17th April, 2004 at 07:02 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rybaer
    "Okay," he says as he scribbles something on the notepad. "Let's start off with a couple easy questions. First: What is your occupation? Second: Do you personally know any metahumans? Third: Have you exhibited any metahuman powers that you are aware of?"
    Stopping in the middle of a sit-up, Thomas looks up at the reporter. "Those are the easy questions?" He pauses for a moment coming to a decision.

    "Fine, at present I am a bouncer, no I don't know if I personally know any metahumans and yes I have exhibited metahuman powers. You got a problem with that?" He says glaring at the reporter.

    <intimidate +5>
    Last edited by Mimic; Saturday, 17th April, 2004 at 06:12 AM.

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    A dark alley, Downtown, Coast City


    Quote Originally Posted by Velmont
    Lawrence looks nervous. Not again he thinks to himself. "I... I am... sorry. I didn't want... I didn't knew... I have no money, only those cloth. I... don't want to fight... it would give nothing... you don't want to fight me... I... I know what you think... but please... don't harm me... if you want, i'll come back and pay..."

    "Can you believe this?" one guy says to the others. "Have you ever seen anything so pathetic?"

    "Weak. Totally."

    "I don't think we can count on you to come back later with our money. Maybe we should just take that jacket of yours...not that it looks to be worth the toll."

    "Yeah," says one who seems to be in charge as much as any of the guys. "I think the jacket would be a good start...unless you can suddenly find that money you forgot you had."
    -Rybaer


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    Rikko's, Northbrook, Coast City


    Quote Originally Posted by Keia
    "Hello, Maggie," Steven said smoothly, "you look absolutely stunning. I apologize deeply for being late - taxis and whatnot, you know."

    Steven helped Maggie back into her seat and took one of his own next to her. "I've heard good things about this restaurant, but haven't yet had the opportunity. Have you been here before?"
    Maggie takes her seat. "Flattery and apologies," she says with a grin. "You should know by now that neither will work on me. Of course, you're welcome to keep trying with the flattery."

    She flips through the menu, mostly an eclectic mix of African and seafood dishes. "No, haven't eaten here before, but I've heard good things."

    Lunches are ordered and Maggie and Steven exchange more idle chit chat through their meals. Once both are near complete, Maggie pauses to talk shop.

    "Well, I heard back from the publisher," she says. "They liked the proposal for your book and are keen to get an outline. Sounds like they're pretty well committed to getting a contract signed in the next month or so. Can you try to get the outline wrapped up by the end of the month?"

    Steve nods affirmitively, chewing the last of his meal.

    "I've got one other thing that just came up this morning," she says. "It's a really short notice deal, but I thought you might be interested due to...well...the nature of the engagement. Lady by the name of Sandra Poynter from the Coast City Metahuman Rights Foundation called to see if you could fill in as the keynote speaker at a conference tomorrow night. The topic of the conference is something about dealing with metahumans in the workplace. Should be lots of business and government leaders attending.

    "I guess they'd originally had that public hero from Boston...The Patriot, isn't it?...scheduled to speak, but he had to bail out last minute. Coast City has no public metahumans who would fit the bill, so she decided to try to find someone local who was charming and positive enough to set a good tone for the conference. I'm sure she knows nothing about you...meta-wise...and I certainly didn't say anything.

    "Like I said, it's short notice, but I also figured it'd be right up your alley," she says, pausing to sip her wine. "She needs an answer this afternoon. What'cha think?"
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    "The Orbit", Peace Park, Downtown, Coast City


    Quote Originally Posted by Mimic
    "Fine, at present I am a bouncer, no I don't know if I personally know any metahumans and yes I have exhibited metahuman powers. You got a problem with that?" He says glaring at the reporter.
    "Easy there," he says with a sardonic grin, "didn't mean to touch a nerve or anything. I'll admit, you're the first person I've come across who had metahuman abilities...or was willing to admit it anyway. Don't worry, though. I'm not prying into that sort of thing. Just trying to get a feel for metahumans from the man-on-the-street."

    He seems completely unflummoxed by Thomas' glaring stare.

    "The next question was supposed to be whether you preferred the term 'metahuman', 'mutant', or something else. You've already used 'metahuman', so can I take it that is the term you like?

    "And along those lines, do you feel that the term 'mutant' carries any negative or derrogatory connotations?"
    Last edited by Rybaer; Saturday, 17th April, 2004 at 07:21 AM.
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