Campaign Dates: Nov 20, 2017 to TBD
- Session 1: Wed, Nov 22, 2017 – 1800 PST
- Session 2: Wed, Nov 29, 2017 – 1800 PST
- Session 3: Wed, Dec 06, 2017 – 1800 PST
- Session 4: Wed, Dec 13, 2017 – 1800 PST
Genocide Minuteman Mk V Robots
Session 1 – Narrative:
Following the typhoon, I saw glints of gratefulness in the eyes of the members of the police and harbor patrol who had been present during the demonic attack. Reporting the structural damage as typhoon-caused while omitting the typhoon’s otherworldly phenomena greatly simplified their paperwork. Throughout the following three weeks, repair crews worked around the clock to reinforce The Keep and repair all “typhoon-caused damage,” and things soon returned to normal.
With the Knights effectively furloughed, PRIMUS leaned heavily on its tactical teams to address issues the Knights would typically handle. In many cases, the Iron Guard experienced failures in situations where the Knights would have easily succeeded, but one would never have known it from the media. All Iron Guard successes were actively celebrated with extensive media coverage, while failures went either unreported or heavily downplayed in traditional Friday news dump fashion. Were it not for my security level and PRIMUS access, this fact might have been lost on me, as the government had wielded the media like a skilled surgeon manipulates a laser scalpel.
Unfortunately, sequestration took its own toll on the Knights. They were clearly bored, and knowledge of the media’s spin-jobs only made things worse. Emotions ran roller coaster-like as the Knights vacillated between their desires to help mutants avoid persecution and their desires to avoid persecution, themselves. An out of the blue call from Edge to Psi-Kick changed all of that. He indicated that the Mutant Underground had a group of mutants who evaded capture and needed a quick exit from the United States; apparently, their evasion of a group of ECS Agents made them high-value targets. He went on to explain that Portal was in Genowa with several other members of the Mutant Underground — meaning their usual means of teleportation was out of the question. After explaining the situation, Edge then asked Psi-Kick if the Knights could help get the group to Canada. Psi-Kick wisely inquired as to whether the mutants in question had done anything untoward, and Edge responded in the negative. That out of the way, Psi-Kick indicated she’d need to bring it to the group and get back to Edge.
A lively conversation ensued on this topic across the mind link, and everyone agreed the Knights should help the Mutant Underground with its request. However, concerns were raised that doing so while on mandatory furlough would make targets of the Knights. The MU was wanted by the authorities, after all … and aiding/abetting the MU would reflect poorly on the Knights if caught at it. I spoke up and indicated the best way to proceed would entail official permission from PRIMUS on the matter. Unsurprisingly, this suggestion met resistance; PRIMUS had as many (if not more) leaks as any other governmental agency. I noted this was exactly the point around which we should frame our request: we could request sanction for the escort mission of a group of mutants to safety based on actionable intel received from a CI that Genocide was after this mutant group, too … and use the mission request, itself, to see what later leaked from the pipeline (and where), since the mission request would have to go upstairs to the highest PRIMUS levels for approval. Webster and I already had firm suspicions as to the leak, but this would potentially confirm it — and likely indicate not only a source of the leak but its destination.
The team reluctantly approved this plan, after which I headed to PRIMUS HQ to sell it to Webster. Under cover of a conversation about his family’s Thanksgiving plans, I mentally communicated my idea to Webster, and he quickly got behind it. He also informed me of something that had not been in the news, at all: Arthur Samuels’ company, Corpsec, was now calling itself SENTRY and was responsible for handling both the round-up and containment of all potential mutant terrorists, as ECS had lost its contract. Our approach in synch, Webster and I then held the appropriate and camera-necessary verbal conversation, wherein I made my request, gave my reasons, and Webster responded by indicating he’d have to take the request upstairs while the Knights continued their sequestration.
Someone upstairs must have had a serious hard-on for the mutants Edge wanted us to help, because Webster called me with the official go-ahead within moments of my return to The Keep. I informed the Knights that we had the approval we needed and, soon after, we were on our way to meet Edge at a neutral pick-up site in the Sky Cruiser. Upon landing, Edge handed off a disheveled group of seven mutants to the Knights: Berta, Bobby, Eddie, Jack, Maxx, Sue, and Taisha. With no time for pleasantries, the cadre boarded the Sky Cruiser and we immediately headed for Vancouver in stealth mode along a flight path that deviated from the one that had been filed.
About an hour after takeoff the Sky Cruiser suddenly lurched to one side as if caught in something, and twin Genocide Minuteman Mk V drones were spotted behind us. Clearly they could see through our stealth mode, and obviously, our flight plan deviation was of no consequence; they had some other means of tracking us. Worse, whatever beams they were using were powerful enough to have brought our craft to a dead halt in the sky. As the group we were escorting began to panic, I barked for them to shut up, informed them that both they and the Knights were bait for precisely this sort of attack, and ordered them to work together. They complied as I thought, “Welcome to mutant boot camp, bitches…”
As we hung in the sky trapped by the twin drones, one of them announced over a PA system that we were being detained and were to cease/desist all hostile activity. TK Kid, Hardcore, and Amber responded by exiting the Sky Cruiser. Amber and Hardcore remained on opposite wings while TK flew halfway between the Sky Cruiser and the PA-using drone. The Kid then telekinetically hurled Hardcore at the drone, with Hardcore successfully landing on it and tearing off one of its arms. The drone responded by opening fire on the Sky Cruiser and blowing a hole in the aft section of it. Its twin also fired and blew off one of the engines, yet the Sky Cruiser remained suspended in the air by the tractor beams of both robots. Hardcore smashed his drone again and TK followed up with a telekinetic haymaker, rending it into a non-functional ball of falling junk – but not before it got off a shot at TK that stunned him and sent him plummeting toward the earth.
Hardcore lept from the disabled unit to the Sky Cruiser and turned his attention to the second drone as the Sky Cruiser lurched to one side due to the loss of one of the tractor beams. Meanwhile, the second drone shot out the Sky Cruiser’s remaining good engine while Eddie did something that restored the aft cabin to its original, unmolested state. Psi-Kick ordered me to take the plane’s stick and hold it steady as she leaped out of the pilot’s seat and exited the Sky Cruiser. I halted my preparations for a crash and did as she ordered while she single-handedly shredded the remaining drone in a triple-shot from her psi weapon. As the Sky Cruiser fell toward the ground, I pulled hard back on the yoke to try to level it, but it continued its nose-dive. Psi-Kick, Amber, and Hardcore all piled back into the cabin and Hardcore took up the pilot’s chair using all of his strength to level out the craft. TK recovered from his tailspin and flew after us.
The inevitable crash came, but it was relatively controlled and as uneventful as a crash into an open field could be. With only bumps and bruises, we exited what was left of the Sky Cruiser and took stock of our situation: everyone was alive, yet we were only an hour from L.A. and would soon have company. Eddie couldn’t restore the missing engines from the Sky Cruiser, and remaining in place was a non-starter, so we’d need to get moving. Just as we departed on foot, a portal opened and from it, a female in grey fatigues and goggles appeared and confidently said: “Come with me if you want to live.”
She immediately opened another portal to a heavily forested area, and we all piled through it. I went last, removing my earpiece and crushing it with a rock just before doing so. I pocketed its remains on the other side as we were greeted by cooler weather and a darker sky – Vancouver, no doubt. A fat, robed guy, a robed, white woman whose face was obscured, and a huge charcoal individual stood before us. The charcoal one spoke first: “I am Onyx. It is great to finally meet the esteemed Hollywood Knights. Thank you for getting these people to safety. The US Government is certainly keeping us busy up here of late. I hear that Genowa is also experiencing a bit of a population explosion. Please allow us to have you over for dinner tonight. I know that many of you are associated with the Los Angeles chapter, but I can show you what it is that we are doing up here.”
At Onyx’s suggestion, another portal was opened by the goggled militaristic woman, and we passed through it into a run-down building. More formal introductions were made by the mutants we had done our best to assist, and we learned that Eddie was a forger who could assist MUV (Mutant Underground Vancouver) with new IDs for refugees. The facility was staffed by ~20 mutants of various abilities and housed ~50 U.S. refugees, with ever-growing numbers as a result of recent goings-on within the United States. As Onyx continued to share MUV-specific details, I began to separate myself from the group – aware that the less I knew, the better off they might be. As I did so, the robed, white woman cryptically stated: “I have once before sensed such a tide rising against the mutant community. We stemmed that tide by relocating the Storms. We must talk John.”
She looked right at me as she said it, and her words somehow struck a chord with me. I knew she was not talking about regular storms; she meant my family. As I moved away from the group she followed, asking if I could spare a few minutes. As I nodded to her, she said: “I don’t quite know how to tell you this John: you have been living in the dark your entire adult life. There are so many things you do not know. What do you know about the fate of your parents?”
I briefly recounted finding my mother’s cold body on the kitchen floor and learning of my father’s death from my grandfather. To this she responded: “For reasons that should be apparent, I have no knowledge of your parents’ whereabouts, but I do know that both of your parents survived what you thought was their demise. They were brought to Canada and assumed new identities. We try not to keep too much information on those that we relocate. I am sure you can understand that we cannot be compelled to confess that which we do not know. I wish that I could tell you more, but I have seen that the information your father has may be able to once again stem the rising tide of mutant hatred in the United States. You may want to speak with Maquillage; he was responsible for your parents’ new faces and may be able to help you discover more. My best to you Agent Storm, for the good of us all I hope that you are successful.”
As she left I asked for her name and was given her code name – Moira. Via the mind link, I learned that her next stop was with Amber, who had also separated herself from the main group (now involved in basic combat training for the Gamma level mutants we’d assisted) as she’s prone to doing. As cryptically as she addressed me, Moira also addressed Amber: “Young lady I fear I must be the bearer of ill tidings. You cannot continue on with Hollywood Knights. You seem to be a beacon of sorts; something was implanted within you when you were with PRIMUS and they are tracking your every move. Our jammers, here, are keeping them in the dark for the moment, but they now know that you are in Canada. We will need to remove the tracker before you can go anywhere. Unfortunately, only a powerful Cyberkinetic such as Tweaker or IQ can help us with this, and they are not available at the moment. I am afraid that you will need to remain here when your compatriots move on. There are nefarious dealings within the PRIMUS organization and unfortunately, while the agency as a whole is not corrupt, it is prevalent enough that you should be wary.”
I was pretty sure that spiel of Moira’s frayed every conspiracy-oriented bone in Amber’s body, but I was equally sure it might cause her to listen (for once) – instead of being her usual, contrary self. Time would tell. In the meantime, I had bigger fish to fry, as I went looking for Maquillage. He was apparently the fat, robed guy we’d seen, earlier, and he had his own space in the building – which meant he was a staffer. As I entered his space I could not help but notice it was literally wallpapered in headshots of people of all shapes, sizes, and races. Some of the images were even amalgams assembled from different features. On a counter were several human busts made of clay – each in a different state of completion.
Maquillage was there, lounged on a recliner with a glass in his hand, his head back, eyes closed, with earbuds in his ears. He seemed to be singing something, but since it wasn’t K-Pop I didn’t recognize the tune. I must’ve startled him as I entered because his eyes snapped open and he remarked: “Oh shit, sorry! I didn’t know you were there. Good thing I wasn’t actually singing, huh? What can I do for you? Can I get you a drink?”
I agreed to water and he poured us each one. As he did so I introduced myself and shared with him the fact that Moira indicated I should look him up regarding the relocation of my parents. When he asked how long ago, I gave him the precise date of Sept 5, 1986. He remarked that we were talking a long time ago as he began looking through several notebooks which he’d pull and return to a bookshelf. As he worked, he mumbled: “Lessee … Storm. Storm… Ah, here it is: code name Polygraph and a plus one. Dammit! Looks like I am missing the pictures but I have the specifications. This is gonna take some time. Okay. Nose: 370937a; eyes: 98734c; mouth: 627435u; chin, hair, ears, head.”
During his mumbling Maquillage made notes of the specs he’d rattled off, and after ~40 minutes of rifling through other books, he began to work on a bust by molding the clay. As he did so, he remarked that working on flesh was faster than working on clay, and I wondered why he didn’t fix his own disfigured face if it was so quick and easy.
He also warned me that his effort might take some time, so I sized up his mind, found it relatively open, entered it, and probed his thoughts for images of my parents. Strangely, on the surface what I found were thoughts of the specifications — as if they meant the same as images to the man. Plumbing deeper into his memories I found what I was after — images of the new faces my parents had been given over two decades ago. What I also found surprised me – my mother’s ‘death’ was faked using a corpse made to look like her … and my father’s ‘death’ was handled in similar fashion. As my father had always been a company man, the faking of his death didn’t surprise me – but my mother’s caught me off guard.
Feeling bad about my unwarranted rummaging within the man’s mind, I informed Maquillage that I had probed his mind to save us both some time and then promptly apologized for doing so. He graciously waved me off, indicating that he’d worked with mutants for years and it wasn’t the first time someone else had been inside his head.
Session 2 – Narrative:
Maquillage’s response bothered me, as it raised concerns about who else might have brained the guy. However, his response also amounted to consent to be in his head, so I took it upon myself to look around a bit more. In doing so, I learned: he had been in mental contact with Switchboard of the Mutant Underground via a mind link; several months ago Blindside of the Mutant Liberation Front had exerted mind control on Maquillage to force him to divulge where Red Racer was located; he’d had regular surface-level contact with Jasmine of the Mutant Underground via telepathy; and an extremely powerful entity I couldn’t quite pin down or place had been in Maquillage’s mind at one time to do a very deep, thorough dive … and hide its tracks. The last of these was, of course, worrisome, so I tucked the knowledge away for future reference and/or use.
Meanwhile, TK Kid, Hardcore, and Psi-Kick watched Armstrong as he helped some of the new mutant arrivals learn to use their powers cooperatively – until a woman they all recognized caught their collective eyes. Cindy Jasper, star of one of the hottest movies of the summer (Blaze of Glory) walked into the room, called Armstrong by his first name in asking how the new groups were coming along, and introduced herself to the Knights upon noticing their presence. Pleasantries were exchanged and, after asking how Cindy had come to be at MUV, the Knights learned that Cindy began going by Cinder after she outed herself as a mutant in support of mutant rights on the Jimmy Fallon show. (Apparently all of the special effects in Blaze of Glory were actual effects produced by Cinder’s mutant powers.) Her coming out party went badly enough that a bodyguard was soon required, which is how she met Jason Armstrong.
The Knights also learned Armstrong and Cinder had been attacked by a Genocide Squad they managed to evade thanks to the squad’s failure to account for Armstrong being a mutant. Unfortunately their evasion led to an unexpected problem: a few SENTRY squads showed up and took the pair to a facility for their own so-called protection … a facility that turned out to be a mutant detainment camp. Both escaped despite the strength of SENTRY’s power neutralizers … along with five others from the camp. The group then headed to Canada based on rumours of the Mutant Underground helping those in need … and stuck around to try to help others.
Heading upstairs to look in on the latest news reports, Cinder asked Psi-Kick to join her since MUV’s computer guy was apparently a Psi-Kick fanboy. Psi-Kick obliged and the pair arrived just as Maquillage introduced me to the same man – a nerdy fucker named Kabir Chambal who was dressed in ratty jeans and a t-shirt that read, “Gamers Don’t Die, They Just Respawn.” He was playing three video games, reading multiple online chats at a rate I could barely keep up with, and watching several news channels – all at once, while sitting back and drinking a Dr. Pepper. For whatever reason they called this guy Data. If he wasn’t so much older than Tweaker, I’d have thought they might someday make little nerdlings together.
Apparently our arrival surprised him, because Data’s chair quickly spun around to meet us as we showed up. While Data got over an initial G-Man-induced anxiety attack, a news flash on one of his screens indicated CORPSEC had been awarded a coveted U.S. government contract that resulted in it reporting to the Department of Homeland Security. The initiative was labeled SENTRY, which stood for Superhuman Entity National Tactical Response Yield. My lightening-quick mind noted how similar the word homeland had become to fatherland while Eva Sanchez reported from the Fort Collins Federal Detention Center – a mutant detention camp that had been attacked by Kinematic and members of the Mutant Liberation Front to break out 23 mutant detainees at the expense of significant casualties and public property destruction.
Introductions were made and Psi-Kick offered to bring Data into our mind link – an offer he eagerly accepted. Via the link I shared with Data images of the two faces Maquillage had rendered to me, and I asked Data if he could run facial recognition on them. He agreed and within minutes he turned up a pair of matches: Norman and Barbara Squall, living at an address in Pictou, Nova Scotia. Psi-Kick, accustomed to having fans, flirted with Data a bit more, and signed his poster before bidding him farewell and dropping him from the mind link. I’d bet she made his year.
Meanwhile outside the cafeteria, Hazel spotted a former acquaintance – a woman named Jasmine who worked with Hawthorne as an interrogator during Hazel’s SHOOT days. Jasmine was busily tending to a young, unconscious woman in another room – wiping her memories of MUV and its location from what Hazel could gather from Jasmine’s dialogue with a nearby man wearing a cowboy hat. She heard Jasmine call him Sundown as she walked up and caught Jasmine’s eye. The two hugged briefly and then spent a few hours catching up regarding the last few years apart. Hazel learned that Jasmine: worked with PRIMUS in Dallas as a therapist; was cut out of the loop after Director Dawes visited the facility and told Silver Avenger Gray PRIMUS was cracking down on powered assets; and fled the United States while aiding the Dallas Mutant Underground in the relocation of some mutants. She had remained in Canada with MUV ever since, as her specific mental talents had proven useful.
Later that evening we headed to a communal dinner in the cafeteria. On the way, Onyx explained that he and Sundown pretty much ran the MUV show. He then introduced us to several MUV members we had not already met: Armstrong, Bubbles, Jasmine, Grey Wolf, Nappy, and Stratolifter. I recognized Jasmine and Stratolifter as former PRIMUS operatives, the latter of these once going by the codename Hercules. I also observed that Hazel wore a beret with a SHOOT insignia on it, suggesting she was a fomer member of the Super Human Opposition Ordinance Troops – an all-female mercenary group once employed by the U.S. government to fight mutants.
Onyx directed us to a large table at the front of the cafeteria, and we seated ourselves. He remained standing and addressed everyone in the room: “Folks, by now you are probably aware of what went down in Colorado this afternoon. Things are escalating more rapidly than we thought, and it is probably going to get really busy, here. People are being rounded up in certain areas of the States just for being suspected of possessing Mutant powers. This is instilling a lot of fear in everyone, so we need your A game. You may have noticed that we have some guests. The Hollywood Knights were kind enough to help us out with an extraction today from California, so I would like to thank them publicly for their assistance and wish them well when they return."
The Knights gracefully accepted MUV’s show of appreciation while I remained seated. Across the mind link I gave the team a briefing: Moira indicated my parents were alive; my father might hold the key to undoing this godawful mess mutant-kind was experiencing at the hands of the U.S. Government: Maquillage had provided them with new faces; Data had tracked those faces to an address I had in Pictou, Nova Scotia; and I had to look into this with or without the Knights. I tried not to let my tension show, but I think Hardcore sensed it, as he was quick to back me up by volunteering to help. Psi-Kick seconded him as he suggested we look for a ride, to which I responded with a thought that the teleporter, Hazel, might be ideal as she was from L.A., combat-trained, and could transport the group.
As dinner concluded we approached Hazel. I thanked her for her assistance with the extraction, and Hardcore in his ever-subtle fashion, asked her directly if she’d give us a ride to Pictou. When queried as to why, I explained the situation in full and suggested that Hazel might make a good addition to the Knights given the recent thinning of their core membership, her combat training, and her specific skillset. The team agreed to give it an informal try, Hazel was added to the mind link, and soon after dinner we prepared for the trip by having the dope fiend among the new mutants change my suit and the Knights’ costumes to look like civvies.
Moments later we found ourselves on the street in front of the address Data gave me. It was dark … and late … for we’d failed to consider the time zone change. Not wanting to waste the opportunity we scouted the area. I noted there were no visible human minds within the house. Likewise, Hazel saw no one inside using her IR goggles; just a cat. Noting the oddity of a couple in their 70’s not being home and asleep after 11pm, we presumed the couple must be out for the evening and decided to check things out the next day. Hazel contacted Data, informed them we were inbound, and teleported us back to MUV where we bedded down for the night.
The next morning we headed back to Pictou, this time arriving a bit before noon in a discrete location away from the street side of the house. TK Kid used his telekinesis to flip open the latch on one of the windows, let himself in, and float through the house. It was again empty, but he noted someone had packed in a hurry, the cat had been recently fed, and the garage was empty. He let himself back out the way he’d come in, relocking the window behind him. Witch Hazel then contacted Data, asked for makes/models of vehicles owned by the Squalls, and learned they owned a 2014 blue Honda Accord whose plate was recently noted at Southerland Harris Hospital. A quick cross-check of the hospital’s records by Data revealed that Mr. Squall had checked into the hospital on the previous day due to a broken hip.
I scanned for my mother’s mind and was rewarded to find it – a sight for sore eyes after so many years. She was on the opposite side of the hospital, so I asked the team to wait and strode in as if I owned the place, knowing that walking with purpose in a deliberate direction would likely avoid any questions. As expected, no one stopped me, but I slowed as I neared the threshold of the room she was in. The door was open but I knocked, anyway, and heard my mother’s voice inquire: “Yes?”
I entered the room slowly, removed my glasses, and said, “Mr. and Mrs. Squall? I was wondering if we might have a few words?”
My mother stopped in her tracks at the sound of my voice, looked me up and down, then ran to me and hugged me as tightly as she could while saying through tears, “John, my baby!”
I instinctively hugged her back and heard my father say, “Oh my goodness, John, I never thought we would see you again. I am so sorry, my boy, but it was to ensure that you were protected. When I discovered who was behind the car bombings in Syria it was over for us; we had to leave.”
Across the mind link I informed the team of the precise location of the Squalls’ room. I then indicated I had others with me and asked my parents if it would be ok for them to join us. They agreed and all of the team except TK Kid made its way to the room … and I made the polite and proper introductions. Out of concern for someone who might be listening, I then initiated thought transference with my father and asked him what he meant about Syria. He mentally explained that he was a mutant who could detect lies and that Vazquez had been launching a campaign of his own from within PRIMUS – due to some vendetta he had against mutants. Vasquez apparently staged the hijacking in Pakistan just to take out my father and one other. My grandfather had all the information and was going to blow the lid off the whole thing…but my father never heard back from him … and couldn’t reach out to me for fear of putting me in harm’s way. Aloud he said, “There is only one way to bring this thing down. You have to find Lazarus, he’s got all the information. Only he knows how deep this goes.”
At that moment a nurse entered the room and said, “Well Mr. Squall, how are we feeling? We need to get you ready, so perhaps your guests should wait outside.”
I asked the nurse, directly, if she was there to help my father get better – hoping to leverage his ability to detect lies. She nodded an affirmative so I gestured for the team to exit the room. As we began to leave the nurse said, “Now just relax Mr. Squall everything will be just fine.”
Via the thought transference my father exclaimed, “John, she’s lying. Something’s up!”
Session 3 – Narrative:
The nurse’s fingers extended into blades which she plunged into my father’s chest before anyone could stop her. Witch Hazel came to his aid using her aportation to remove him from the equation while Hardcore interposed himself protectively between the nurse and my mother. Psi-Kick spotted two Genocide Knights in the hallway and unloaded on each of them with her blunt psionic weapon. Both hoisted their blasters and returned a hail of laser fire, striking Psi-Kick once as I gathered all the mental strength I could for the most forceful command I’d ever given. TK Kid, raced into the hospital and headed for us, and a moment later I established mental contact with the assassin, dominating her mind with a command my anger could not prevent me from also speaking aloud: “Don’t move a muscle…”
The assassin’s mind writhed, slipping past my mental grip as the nurse leapt at me … her next intended target. All I could do was dive out of the way and render myself someone else’s problem as the shame of failing my father in his penultimate time of need washed over me. Hardcore scooped up my mother and whirled to place her on the hospital bed behind him, once more positioning himself protectively between her and the assassin as TK Kid continued his advanced toward the room.
The nurse, perhaps sensing her failure, vanished, leaving only the Genocide agents for us to deal with. Psi-Kick busily pressed her attacks, hammering both Genocide Knights again. One returned fire and struck Psi-Kick three times while the other pulled the pin from a grenade and lobbed it. Unfortunately for them both, Psi-Kick sensed the danger posed by the grenade and quickly slammed the door shut, resulting in a hallway explosion that nearly incapacitated both Genocide Knights. Hardcore and Witch Hazel finished off both Knights as TK Kid arrived on the scene and took out the Genocide Pawns with a telekinetic explosion. I picked myself up off the floor demanding over the mind link to know where Hazel had sent my father, and then bolted after him.
I found Norman laying in an ever-growing pool of crimson and immediately set to the task of stopping his bleeding while someone called for the trauma unit. Knowing they’d not arrived before he bled out, I rent the bed’s top sheet into thin strips and packed Norman’s wounds with them. It wasn’t pretty, but my field experience had worked, as evidenced by the trauma team telling me I’d probably saved my father’s life. “At least I didn’t fail at that,” I thought as I exited the room.
Worried that Norman might still die … and with him information potentially vital to the salvation of mutant-kind … I reluctantly probed his deep memories in search of information about his and Lazarus’ shared past. What I found was mind-blowing: PRIMUS’ former Director of Intelligence, Avery Vazquez, was a mutant whose daughter, Juana, was slain by a mutant supervillain in 1984 while evading capture. Out of angry grief and a desire for vengeance, Vazquez initiated a scorched earth policy by turning on other mutants. He did his work strategically and at arms length using operatives of a like mind so that his own hand was never directly involved. However, one of PRIMUS’ operatives assigned to Project Open Eyes found out the real objective of Vazquez’s operation – his name was Robert Storm and he was also a mutant.
I probed more deeply to learn what happened and found out that Lazarus was an operative of the Paranormal Executive Action Cooperative Endeavor (PEACE) working as a contractor for the U.S. Government. The car bombings in Syria in the 80’s that had left nearly 150 dead were ultimately Vazquez’s doing and were aimed at killing all six PEACE operatives, but Lazarus (Evan Dalton) escaped without Vasquez being the wiser. Remembering my father’s words, I then plucked an image of Lazarus from Norman’s mind and stored it for future use, as my father’s memories indicated Lazarus was in Washington, D.C. and that he had been hunting Vazquez.
Digging around for a way to contact Lazarus, I noted that he and my father communicated once a week via the Sunday New York Times classifieds. In his ad, Lazarus would give a new burner phone that my father would use to contact him. The ad always followed a formula that started with three words whose first letters provided the abbreviation for the given month while the next four numbers indicated the date range that the burner phone would be active … followed by ten numbers indicating the phone number of the burner phone.
When talking, the pair also spoke in code involving a challenge/response system, wherein the challenge would be the first noun in the ad and the returned response should be the last noun in the add. In addition, Vasquez would be referenced as the second noun in the ad while Norman would be referred to as the house and Lazarus would be referred to as the car, each with locations referred to as the yard and the garage, respectively. Meeting arrangements also followed a similar algorithmic format, which I also learned.
As I wrapped my mind around the depth of it all, I rendered myself someone else’s problem and stood guard over my father as the trauma team went about its work. Meanwhile, Psi-Kick wrapped up a deep dive of the Genocide agents’ minds and informed us that they had somehow tracked us to the hospital. The Knights and Witch Hazel then quickly exited the building with my mother in advance of the authorities’ arrival and made themselves scarce for a few hours. Once my father was stable I alerted the team to it, and Hazel brought the Knights and my mother to his room. She then alerted MUV that we were headed their way with wounded, and we took my parents back to MUV through one of Hazel’s gates. Upon our arrival, hurried discussion ensued, after which Hazel disappeared, only to return a few minutes later with Tweaker and a mutant with healing powers who began tending to my father.
My family safe, I went to Data and asked him for a burner phone and to bring up the NYT classifieds. Unsurprisingly he had both on hand and in a matter of moments I’d found what I was looking for in the Times – an ad matching Norman and Lazarus’ algorithm that read: “Need One Vintage Comic Book – Collector seeking Sentinels #19 in VF to Mint condition. Will pay top dollar. Also interested in Black Mask #22, Vanguard #21-28 and American Eagle 45-53. Serious sellers only please. Call Tim between 6pm – 9pm. 347-639-6546”
I committed the ad to memory headed back to the rest of the team, sharing all that I had learned over the mind link. By the time I reached them I had decoded the ad to indicate that Lazarus’ phone would be active from Nov 19-22 at 212-845-5369. I formulated a response, dialed the number, and upon it being answered I began, “Hi, I’m responding to your ad about the comics, but I can’t talk long because neither the…”
The line unexpectedly went dead mid-sentence, and then I realized I had failed to provide the challenge, so I revised my response and dialed again, saying the following when the line was answered, “Hi, I’m the son of an avid BOOK reader responding to your ad about the comics, but I can’t talk long because neither the HOUSE nor the YARD I’m in are conducive to it at the moment. I’m not an avid COLLECTOR, but I grew up hanging around the HOUSE with a father who knew one, and as a now-nerdy middle-aged man it seems like your interests and mine are similar. Can we meet so you can see what I’ve got, and maybe arrange a trade or sale?”
Lazarus provided the proper response by saying, ““Tim? I wasn’t expecting you to call. How is the house?” From there I related who I was, what had happened to my family, and my interest in Vasquez to Lazarus using his and my father’s code. He responded by suggesting that we meet … providing the time and place using their meeting code which I decoded to mean the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in one day at 5pm … and to look for a man wearing a grey hat drawing attention to the name Dave.
We spent the next few hours trying to figure out how we’d been tracked and learned that a tiny device had been embedded in my body – most likely during mandatory PRIMUS inoculations. The tracking device, itself, was originally part of a needle’s tip – designed to break off and lodge within the vein without causing discomfort or being noticed. Tweaker and TK Kid marveled at the object and asked if they could disassemble it to see how it worked; I told them as long as they could put it back together such that it functioned exactly as before it would be ok — since we’d need it to throw the dogs off the scent when we headed to Washington, D.C. I also suggested checking both Jasmine and Stratolifter for tracking devices, since both were former PRIMUS agents. When they checked, they found that Jasmine had a tracking device embedded within her while Stratolifer did not — suggesting that the covert installation of them commenced somewhere between two and five years ago.
The next day passed slowly as we rested and waited for the appointed time to draw near. As it did, Hazel teleported back to Pictou, hailed a cab for a short ride, and dropped my functional tracking device in it as she paid the fare and exited the cab. She reappeared at MUV, picked up the team (still in civvies), and transported us to an out-of-the-way location near the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. The team hung back as I walked along the memorial looking for man in a grey hat drawing attention to the name Dave – who I found and to who gave me the appropriate meeting challenge and to whom I gave the appropriate response. And that’s how I met Lazarus…
We walked as we casually talked, no doubt appearing to onlookers as two long lost friends reunited for the first time in years. At one point he called me ‘kid’, and I realized that, despite looking younger than me in years, he probably looked pretty much the same back when I was just a boy. As we chatted it became apparent that Lazarus had been tracking Vazquez for some time, and that he knew where Vazquez was located. Vazquez was also typically guarded around the clock by a team affiliated with DAGGER – some of which were hired superhuman mercs, such as: Hideous, Mechassassin, Rainbow Archer, Thunderbolt II, and Utility. The picture was grim, as this was a man who lurked in the shadows behind minions and a veneer of righteousness, but we agreed to keep in touch in the usual manner – so that we could work together to bring him down.
After our chat, I met up with the Knights and Witch Hazel returned us to MUV with a lot to chew on…
Session 4 – Narrative:
COMING SOON TO AN ADVENTURE LOG NEAR YOU
XP and Rewards
Agent Storm receives ? XP
Hardcore receives ? XP
Psi-Kick receives ? XP
TK Kid receives ? XP
Witch Hazel receives ? XP
Surrealone receives ? GMXP for the Adventure Log