Aurum is called to a meeting at AEGIS HQ, where he meets up with Mickey in Dr. Brennan’s office. Aurum asks Mickey what the meeting is about, since Mickey seems to have his ear to the ground at HQ. Mickey says he’s not sure, but he knows that the whole of the AEGIS board is at HQ currently.
What’s left of them. Where there were a dozen people on the board of AEGIS before the Mini-Breaking, there are now 5, most of them having left the board, supposedly, for various reasons (other projects, not enough time to devout to the cause etc). The way Mickey tells it, most just seemed to want to get away from Paranormals and all their activities.
Aurum notices that Mickey is acting weirdly, stuttering and not looking at Aurum directly. Aurum peers at him and realizes that he and Mickey have never been in alone together. There’s always been other team members, or Firework, to act as a buffer. Mickey doesn’t seem scared of Aurum, just nervous to be alone with him.
Aurum takes this information, thinks on it a moment, an then smiles a Cheshire cat smile. As Mickey gives him the lowdown on the board, Aurum starts to lean in closer and closer to Mickey, slowly (and seductively) looking him up and down. Mickey tries to ignore this, focusing on the laptop in front of him. Aurum gives him his sexiest smile, runs his fingers up and down Mickey’s arm, and thanks him for all the help he’s given the team. He even uses his real name, as he leans closer and closer.
Mickey freezes up and makes the mistake of looking into Aurum’s eyes.
Just as Aurum gets as close as he can to Mickey, he leans up, winks at him and walks out, leaving the young man breathless and unable to move from his desk.
Aurum heads towards the conference room and joins the AEGIS Board of Directors. There are indeed 5 people there, including Horatio “Harry” Powers and Maximillian Mars.
Mars presence surprises Aurum, since the last time they saw him just a few weeks ago was locked away in the magic and power proof cell, half mad. Max smiles at him and gestures he should take a seat.
Powers starts the meeting by welcoming Aurum, and thanking him for meeting with them. He gets down to business. Powers wants Aurum on the Board of AEGIS, and wants his help and input into restructuring the organization. After the mini-breaking, and after all that’s happened the last few years, and with push from various organizations (including HOPE), Powers feels that it’s time for a change. The majority of the board has left, and he feels that that now is the time for fresh blood and ideas.
Powers says he feels that having a Paranormal on the Board would help with the restructuring, as well as help with the public image. Many insiders have told Powers that Aurum is the man for the job, and that having him on board would be an asset.
Max speaks up, on behalf of Aurum, and tells him though they’ve had their difference in the past, his input would be invaluable to the new AEGIS.
After some banter back and forth, Aurum agrees to join. Powers dismisses everyone, but asks Aurum to stay behind.
Once everyone’s left, there’s a knock at the door. Mickey pokes his head in, and goes “You called for me, sir?”
Powers motions to Mickey to take a seat. He says he wants the new AEGIS to be an open book, and doesn’t want secrets to be there at the beginning.
He tells Aurum that AEGIS’ board is small, but will be expanding soon. He hopes to have six members on the board, to start with, and that the three current members (not Aurum, Powers or Mars) will be leaving soon. For various reasons. Because he’s on the board now, Powers wants Aurum to nominate someone he feels would be
“Dr. Temperance Brennan.” Aurum says before Powers can finish his sentence. Aurum explains that he trusts no one else like Dr. Brennan to have Paranormals and the public at large’s best interest in mind. She cares not just about her job, but making sure her job does good in the world, and is adamant about making sure everyone is safe.
Powers thinks on this for a moment, then nods his head in approval. “Once she gets back from her vacation, I’ll talk to her about it. Maximillian and myself will have our choices soon.”
Aurum thinks a moment and says, “If you please, Director Powers, I believe there has been some…talk…about Wildheart and a…pet project…he’s working on. With HOPE, I believe. It may behoove us to give them a bit of leeway in this regard, since we’re starting anew and all that.”
Powers nods, and says, “I’ve heard rumblings as well. Very good, I’ll look into it. Dismissed.”
Powers walks out of the room, leaving Aurum and Mickey alone. Mickey realizes this and makes a hesitant retreat. Before he does so, he glances at Aurum, who winks at him seductively. Mickey turns bright red and heads out.
Wildheart has his own meeting, with Tyrone Black, the director of HOPE. Wildheart tells Tyrone that he needs help with a particular project he’s working on. Wildheart tells him the story of Juanito, how the moment he broke out, he was recruited by a gang to commit a crime. Not having anywhere to turn, due to anti-Paranormal sentiments, he was forced to do so. Now thanks to the draconic laws regarding Paranormals, he’s going to be sent away for who knows how long, and WIldheart just can’t sit back and let that happen.
Director Black thinks a moment, and then goes, “I’ve been talking with AEGIS, recently, and this particular case came up. In fact, I spoke with Director Powers himself, and he mentioned that you may be looking into this case. I think HOPE can help, Wildheart, but it’s going to need your help to do so.”
Director Black explains the proposition he has. Basically, if Wildheart, an acting agent of AEGIS, is willing to take Juanito under his wing, teach him, train him, rehabilitate him, they may be able to work out a deal with AEGIS. He’d essentially become his ward.
But there is a downside. If Juanito breaks any laws, if he’s caught doing illegal acts not in accordance with their position at AEGIS, if Juanito “goes bad,” Wildheart will take the fall with him. If Juanito goes to jail, so will Wildheart. The reason being is that AEGIS can’t fully nullify the laws passed by Congress, but they can bend them ever so slightly. But by doing so, they risk the chance of even stricter laws going into effect. Thus, they can’t afford to allow this to happen if they don’t have the utmost faith in the parolee and the parole officer.
Director Black says, if this new “internship” program works, it could help HOPE’s cause along to get some of the more stricter laws regarding Paranormals amended, or outright overturned. Not to mention the public image where criminal Paranormals have the opportunity to “redeem” themselves.
Wildheart thinks on this, and has a momentary panic at the thought of bing locked up again. But he takes a deep breathe and tells Director Powers that they have a deal.
Wildheart arrives at AEGIS HQ and goes down to the cells, where Juanito awaits. He picks up Juanito’s things, and explains the situation to him.
“If you’re willing to work with me, learn to control your powers, and help out in the field, then I can get you out of here. Eventually, you may be able to go home, and live a normal life. As normal as Paranormal can get.”
Juanito thanks Wildheart, tells him he’ll do everything he can to make amends, and that he’ll be the best partner he can be.
Wildheart smiles, “Sidekick.”
They head home.
War is at home with Melody. Melody and Johnny 5 are playing video games together as War cooks breakfast. Melody and Johnny 5 start talking shop and Melody says that after she was able to connect with Johnny, she saw a few ways that she could upgrade Johnny 5’s systems. Johnny 5 seems particularly keen on the idea. War asks the team if this is okay, and the team agrees, as long as Johnny 5 keeps a log that Firework can go over of all the changes made.
Melody pauses the game and races upstairs to the control room. Johnny 5 lights up the screens and Melody starts zipping to and fro from control panels, computer monitors, hard drives, and her coffee, that Johnny 5 can now refill.
War sees Melody getting into the zone and leaves her be. As he walks to his room he gets a phone call. On the other line is an old friend, Rosario Elzie. War is taken aback a bit since they haven’t spoken in years, for good reason. Rosario asks him to meet her at her hotel. She needs help, and War is the only one she can trust.
Rosario is from War’s mercenary days. They would do jobs together, hunting their targets, and keeping each other warm at night. They were good, very good, together, as mercs, but they were bad influences on each other. The closer they got, the colder War got when it came to the job. And the more vicious she got. War finally ended it one night, after a particularly brutal mission. And by ending it, he just left. That was when he started to go towards Paranormal cases, rather then normal humans.
Rosario was vicious out on the field, and took pleasure in taking down her target. But the one thing she would never do is hurt children, and would hurt those who hurt kids. That was her one line, and she never crossed it. Everything else, though, was fair game.
War agrees to meet her, and heads out, his trusty collapsible bow with him. He arrives in the skeevy part of town and heads to her hotel room. Rosario meets him at the door and lets him in. He instantly remembers how he used to feel about her, and how she made him feel. A slender redhead, who’s physical frame hides her deadly accuracy and prowess. She smiles her wicked smile at him, and he feels himself get warm. She slinks towards him to welcome him, but he slips away, demanding why she called him, and how she got his number.
“You weren’t hard, baby. You’ve been pretty out there, what with being part of that AEGIS team. Wow, who would’ve thought, you working with Paranormals. Do they know what you used to do? And how much pleasure you used to take in it?”
He glares at her, tells her he never took pleasure, that it was just a job. She smiles and says, “Right. You got your pleasure…elsewhere.”
War says that unless she tells him why she called, he’s out. Rosario pouts, “So much for foreplay.” She walks to the bed and pulls back the sheets.
On the bed, disassembled, is a suit of armor. Power armor. Silver and black with a 7 inscribed on the chest. War has never seen anything like it. Though in pieces, he can tell it’s an ACME device, and an apparently potent one at that.
Rosario explains, “After you…left, I wandered around, trying to find jobs and staying out of trouble. That’s something you know I couldn’t do very well. Eventually I got into a bit too much trouble, and was about to be taken out, when this guy in a suit similar to this bailed me out. He called himself Number 1, said he was looking for a few good mercs for a new company he was starting. He had heard of my exploits, hunted me down, and said I could join up with him and get power and money beyond what I could imagine, or he could leave me to the rats.
How could I say no?
I joined the Power Corps, a group of mercs in power armor. We did all kinds of jobs, all over the world. The money was good, but the thrill of the suit was better. We could do anything together, and did. We even went up against your little team a while back, before your time, but that didn’t end too well. Regardless, everything was going great. Until we took a job out in the middle east. One that was too much even for me.
The target was some diplomat or another, didn’t really pay attention to the deets. We were supposed to go in, take out his envoy, and the guy himself, and head out. Turns out they had their own paranormal on security detail. We held our own, no problem, until they all ran into a school. A school that was in session. I told everyone to abort, that we’d get them later, but Number 1 told us the job was still on. He and the others demolished the school, with everyone in it. Just to get paid.
I lost it, and ran. Our jobs had been getting more and more up there in the destruction, which was whatever, but…we had a line I thought we didn’t cross. Guess I was deluding myself. I said I quit, that I was done, but you can’t quit the Power Corps once your in. You know too much about the suit, and that kind of knowledge can be deadly. So before they got to me, I booked it. And I came to the only person who I knew I could trust, who might be able to help me. You, lover.”
War shook his head, “And you took the suit? You couldn’t just go into hiding without it?”
Rosario walks over to the bed, stroking the armor along the way, “And give up this power? They weren’t going to give me my take on the past few missions, so I figured this would make up for it. Besides, I took out the tracker on it. Can’t find me if I don’t want to be found.”
War shakes his head, “You always did like the danger of this job. A bit too much. So what do you want from me?”
Rosario walks towards War, slowly and looks into his eyes. “I need your help in going into hiding. Most of my assets have been frozen, and was only able to grab some of my emergency cash, but it’s not enough. I don’t want to use the suit if I don’t have to, not until I get someplace safe. I need your help, Warren. If they catch me, the suit won’t be the only one in pieces. With your help, your connections and wealth, I can disappear, and you’ll never see me again.”
She walks up right to him, almost touching, “Please, help me. You’re my last hope. For old time’s sake?”
War can feel the heat radiating off her, and he remembers the good times they had. He forces himself to back up. “Look, I…”
Before he can finish, he stops and looks towards the door. He hears footsteps outside in the hallway, walking slowly and methodically, as if they’re trying to be stealthy. He looks at her, and falls into old patterns. He motions towards the door, signaling that someone is coming. Without a word, she nods and heads to the bed. She slams her fists into the two hand parts of the suit and with a soft whirr, she has it on, and is ready to go.
War pulls out his bow, and with a simple nudge it extends. He readies an arrow.
The door slams inward, as someone kicks it in. Rushing in come four brutes, looking each way as they enter the room.
They don’t get far.
War slams one with an arrow, pinning him to the wall. Rosario shoots a concussive blast at the other, slamming him into the hallway, and through the door of the room across the way.
One of the mooks takes a swing at War, which he easily dodges. He uppercuts the mook, slamming his bow into his face, knocking him out. The other one swings at Rosario, who blocks with her armor gloves and punches him out, breaking his nose.
They are in perfect sync as they do battle, and dance around each other as if there wasn’t years and lifetimes between them.
After taking out the last one, War looks at Rosario. “Can’t trace you, huh?”
Rosario smile and shrugs. “I’m good. Maybe Number 1 is better.”
War shakes his head. “C’mon, we gotta go. I’m taking you to AEGIS. They can protect you.”
“No way, honey. I ain’t going to jail. I…”
Before she can finish, the wall to the hotel explodes inwards. War and Rosario dodge the debris and hide behind the bed. They look up at the gaping hole now in their 5th story hotel. Outside are three members of the Power Corp, #2, #6, & #8.
- speaks out, voice blaring from her speakers. “#7! #1 would like to have words with you.”
Jesuit has a meeting with Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore J Cordileone. He was told to meet him in his office at the Holy insert Church name here after mass.
After some small talk, Cordileone says, “I’ve asked you here because we are need of your…unique…assistance, Father Edmund. As both a member of this church, and a member of AEGIS.”
He explains the situation. Ever since The Breaking occured, the masses have turned to the church to help explain the situation, why it happened, and why only certain people are chosen. The church is still in debate about how to proceed, though most agree that it’s obviously God’s will. However, there are certain…factions…that have risen as of late, that have taken that creed to an unfathomable level.
A faction of the church has split off and gone it’s separate ways, creating The Church of Jesus Paranormal. Its members believe that Jesus Christ was the first Paranormal, that he was the first chosen, and that he helped bring about The Breaking. The church’s core beliefs say that the closer you are to godliness, closer you are to God, the more like you’ll be “elevated” and given his blessing, or powers.
That doctrine has created a small exodus of church members, not just from the Catholic church, but from all walks of life, including nondenominational or atheists. What started off as a small cult has become one of the fastest growing religions in the country.
Cordileone goes on to say that he was saddened to hear that a former Archbishop was the one who started the movement, Theodosius. He tried to spread his version of the gospel within the church community, and in fact, his own church, when he was expelled from the Orthodox Church for heresy. He went out on his own and with his charisma and unknown financial backers, he was able to open up a small church in San Jose. That quickly grew over the past few years. In fact, new churches are said to be opening up around the country, in Chicago, New York, and Atlanta.
Normally the church doesn’t concern itself with cults, but this one is growing fast, and since it started in our own home, we feel that it is necessary to at least investigate and see what is happening on the inside. There has been rumors that Theodosius himself has broken out, and that a high number of church members have broken out as well. Whether that’s coincidence or something else, we need to know.
Jesuit agrees to the task, and says he’ll bring along some back up, just in case. Cordileone says that the San Jose church has a has a mass tonight, and that would be their best bet to investigate.
Jesuit calls War, thinking his skills could come in handy, but gets no response. He ponders a bit on who would be the best member for this mission, and calls up Aurum.
“Hey Aurum? Care to go to church with me?”
Aurum goes, “Have you met me…?”
Jesuit explains the situation, and they make plans to head down. Jesuit says they’re going incognito, so no teleportation. Aurum is aghast at the fact that they have to drive, but agrees that Jesuit has the lead on this mission.
They arrive in the early evening and park a few blocks away, since the church parking lot seems to filled to capacity. People of all ethnicities, backgrounds and social status seem to be heading to the large community hall. Aurum talks it up with some of the passing members, saying that they just heard about the church and were wondering about it.
The various congregation members all roughly say the same thing, that the Archbishop Theodosius (still going by Archbishop) is an amazing preacher, gives inspiring sermons, and that everyone really feels connected to the whole. No one has seen anyone Breakout (or been Blessed as they call it) but they all know someone who knows someone who has.
They go by Para-Christians and not only want to be Blessed, they want to use those blessings to benefit mankind, which is obviously God’s plan.
As they get closer to entrance, Jesuit spots that the various guards placed at the entrance (since that’s what they look like) are waving metal detectors at each person that walks through. His Angel Eye, though, tells him that they aren’t metal detectors, but Paranormal sensors, and will go off if they detect any WTFs.
Aurum casts a bad luck spell, that sets off as they get to the entrance. The device gives a small shock to the guard, and he drops it. Jesuit picks it, hands it to him, and walks through, followed by Aurum.
They are now in the belly of the beast.