The Breaking

Chapter 14 Power Savers Part 2

A large crowd has gathered early morning at the San Jose NASA’s Ames Research Center. Thanks to Firework and the assistance of AEGIS, NASA was able to build a rocket that would use the barest minimum of rocket fuel to get both astronauts and supplies up to the International Space Station.

It’s taken months (though Firework could’ve done it faster, he thinks) to get this operation off the ground, so to speak, but the day has arrived. With Firework’s help, NASA may be able to start lifting up sending up space shuttles more often, and more cheaply, thanks to Firework literally sending them flying off into space. If this test goes off without a hitch, they could begin to look at going back to the moon, and beyond.

Scientists, news reporters, groupies and space geeks huddle around the stage, with the space shuttle in the background. Bouncer came with Firework to help show AEGIS’ support, as well as for added security.

The head of the program does a little speech, followed by Bouncer. The countdown begins, and everyone gets excited.

A little too excited.

Bouncer catches some teenage boys trying to sneak past the guard rails and run towards the rocket. They don’t seem to mean any harm, just want to be closer, “just in case.” Bouncer has read about these kinds of people. Power Chasers.

Power Chasers are people who believe that if they put themselves into a dangerous situation, or they are exposed to dangerous elements, they may break out. The fact that most Breakouts occur in times of high stress seem to corroborate this theory. However, there have been no known reportings of this technique actually working. There have been Power Chaser parties thrown in major cities, with people intentionally leaping into danger (or off buildings) with predictable results. This hasn’t stopped people from trying.

At the end of the countdown, a swarm of rainbow sparks surrounds the space shuttle. With a bit of help from the boosters, Firework lifts the shuttle off the ground, and into space. It takes several hours, but eventually Firework is able to safely dock the shuttle to the ISS.

Down below, the people cheer and begin to disperse. Bouncer is about to head out when he overhears one of the scientists, a woman with a serious look on her face, say, “And so ends the age of humanity, and the Paranormal era begins.” Bouncer shakes his head and goes, “Drama queen.”

Wildheart brings Juanito home. After introducing him to Johnny (and Johnny’s defenses) he leaves them both to settle in and play video games. Using his gateway key to The Lair, Wildheart goes to visit The Caretaker in the Nevernever.
Wildheart steps into the team’s “room” and heads out. He finds The Caretaker and Dr. Brennan in a 60s style “room” with Dr. Brennan making breakfast. Wildheart has never seen Dr. Brennan look so relaxed and content.

Sipping coffee and eating pancakes, Wildheart asks Caretaker for help. He wants Caretaker to help train Juanito, in The Nevernever, so that he can learn how to use his powers. Caretaker goes, “So you want me to play babysitter to Kyle’s new baby sis, and your new what, sidekick? What am I, running a daycare here?”

Pause.

“Course I will. Someone’s gotta teach these kids the meaning of power and responsibility and all that.”

Wildheart thanks him and then moves on to his next favor. He wants Caretaker to manipulate time in one of the rooms so he can speed up (in the real world at least) his training on certain new skills and abilities. He figures 4 years or so should do it.

Dr. Brennan showcases some concerns, saying that 4 years away from his teammates, even though to them it may just be a few days, will be taxing to say the least. Wildheart wants to better himself, he says, and by undertaking this training he hopes to do just that. Caretaker says it’ll take some jiggery pokery, but it should be doable. Wildheart says he’ll be ready whenever its ready.

Back in the city, 3 Power Corp members are hovering in front of a hole they blasted in the wall. War and Rosa, War’s crazy ex girlfriend and ex member of the Power Corp, have taken cover. Rosa tells War to buy her a minute. War does so.

Shooting a smoke arrow, he leaps into action. One of the Corp member, #3, flies in through the smoke, and hunts for War and Rosa. Rosa has sneaked over to her Power suit and has begun pressing buttons.

War distracts #3 with arrows and quips, dodging his blasts. #4 stands outside the hole and begins to blow away the smoke.

War is able to distract #3 long enough for Rosa to finish her task. With one final button push, the suit flies off the bed, the pieces swirling around her in a tornado fashion, and the assembles itself, lifting her off the ground. She shoots at #3, smashing him into the wall, grabs onto War, and zips out the hole, shoving #4 out of the way.

Rosa, #7, flies full throttle, dragging War behind. She says, “Any ideas, lover?” War goes, “Yeah, just give you to them. But since you probably wouldn’t go for it, head over to AEGIS HQ.” She shakes her head, “No way! I am not going to jail and…” A laser blast just misses her head, cutting her off. “Okay. Maybe not the worst idea ever.”

She starts to fly towards AEGIS HQ. Behind them, #5 has gone straight up into the air, a large flash flaring out from her upthrust hands.

Rosa says, “Look, if you can talk to AEGIS, get me a pardon, I can tell you all about the suits, how they work, what they can do. But I want amnesty.” War says, “I think I know just the woman to talk to.”

Rosa dodges another blast. “Don’t you have a team you can call for backup!?” As War signals to his team that he’s requesting assistance, two more Power Corp members, #1 & #2 fly up just behind them. #1 blasts Rosa, knocking out her rocket boot, causing them to spin out of control and start crashing into Golden Gate Park.

War releases himself from Rosa’s grasp, and floats down toward the ground using his Glider. He hopes that his call for help has been received.

Back at home, Johnny’s alarms start going off. He says he is getting a distress call from War. Melody, who had been busy upgrading Johnny 5’s systems, comes rushing out and almost runs into Juanito.

“Who are you?!”

“Who are YOU!?”

Wildheart shows up and does his introductions. He tells Juanito, who can fly, to head to Golden Gate Park so Wildheart can teleport once he gets there. Melody wants to help, to go to War, but Wildheart says she’ll just get in the way, and that she should stay here. She huff and goes, “Fine!” and runs back into the command room.

Firework calls in, saying he won’t be able to make it for a few hours, since he’s up in space. Wildheart says, “Hold on.” He concentrates, teleports to the ISS, grabs Firework, and teleports to Juanito.

Back in San Jose…

Aurum and Jesuit have infiltrated The Church of Jesus Christ, Paranormal. Inside they find a community center turned into a large space filled with various religious affiliations. There’s crucifixes, stars of davids, statues of Mary, buddhas, and other religious iconography. Hundreds of folding chairs are lined up, with a walkway in the middle leading to a stage, with a large curtain concealing the back entrance, a podium, but no mic.

The church quiets down as the lights flicker, and from behind the curtain steps out Archbishop Theodosius, and older man dressed in religious garb holding a staff with a insert icon on top. He places the staff upright on the floor, and takes the pulpit.

Even though he has no mic, and he is soft spoken, the Archbishop’s voice carries throughout the church. He speaks about how God has blessed this world, and is helping to enlighten and lift up the masses. He talks about how those who are blessed with Paranormal abilities can use those abilities to better the world, and to get closer to god. He brings up various pieces of other religions, all that Jesuit recognizes, and talks about combining them, merging them, in order to gain true enlightenment. And he says that those who believe, those are are true and faithful, that they too can be blessed with abilities.

He continues saying that there are those who are corrupted, those who want to use this blessing for evil, that evil is still out there. He suspects that such evil caused The Breaking, that it upset the balance. Beelzebub, Abaddon, Cain, Hundun, and other malevolent beings continue tempt mortals, and to lead them astray, perhaps were even behind The Breaking. But by staying true to God, to the church’s teachings, they can fight back against the temptations.

Jesuit and Aurum stiffen at the mention of Cain, ignoring the other evil beings that were named with him. That’s when Aurum lifts himself into the sky, spazzing out for a minute acting as if he’s possessed, and then lowers himself to the floor, in front of the Archbishop.

He demands answers, demands to know what he is up to, and to know why he’s trying to trick these poor hopeless saps. He wants to know what the Archbishop is up to, and doesn’t care that anyone knows.

People rise from their seats, voices start to rise, but they all calm down with a wave from the Archbishop. The Archbishop invites Aurum to the stage, and calls upon a few people from the front row of the audience.

He says that these believers were blessed by God, inspired by their faith, and have been using their gifts to better the world. He asks them to give a demonstration. Which is when Aurum casts nullify on their powers, preventing them from showing anything.

Jesuit stands at that moment and walks to the stage. Archbishop Theodosius recognizes Jesuit and invites him on stage as well. They begin a philosophical debate about how could this be God’s will, who can say who will get “chosen” and why does a new religion need to come of this?

At that point, a call for help comes from War. Aurum says, “My job is done” and vanishes. Immediately the Paranormals on the stage’s powers activate. Jesuit asks for permission to activate his powers, and Theodosius says “By all means.”

Jesuit’s Angel Eye cans the Archbishop. He gets nothing but faith, spirituality, peace, and kindness from the man. He truly believes what he is saying, truly believes that Jesus was a Paranormal, and believes that by becoming closer to God, one can become blessed as well. The Archbishop is also filled with what looks like Nevernever energy, though it’s…different, somehow. Tainted, is the word he’d used, but not by anything malevolent, just a different type of energy. Spiritual energy, perhaps.

Jesuit asks that they continue the discussion in private, which Theodosius agrees to. He asks that he be allowed to finish mass. Jesuit steps aside, and watches.

The people line up down the aisle, and all walk towards the Archbishop. The Archbishop says a small blessing and taps the people on the forehead. The person smiles and walks away. Halfway down the procession, an elderly woman walks up to the Archbishop. He does what he does, and as he touches her, she hunches over, almost in pain. Her back starts to controt and collapse, but then reconstructs itself as a pair of giant white wings sprouts through her clothes. She flies into the air and hovers over the crowd, as everyone says out loud, “Amen!” or “Hallelujah!” or other religious exclamations.

Theodosius smiles, motions to the woman to fly back down, and to join his other blessed children. She does so, filled with energy and vitality.

Jesuit watched all this, through his Angel Eye. He saw the faith, the spiritual energy of the woman connect with Theodosius’, watched them merge, and then she broke out. Jesuit realizes what the Archbishop actually is.

He’s a walking, living Breaking.

Back in Golden Gate Park, the team squares off against the Power Corp. War gets surrounded by blast fire when Firework & Wildheart teleport in. Firework looks after the civilians, getting them out of the way, while WIldheart throws a rock at the Corp.

  1. broadcasts that if they let them have #7, they’ll leave peacefully.

War yells out to protect Rosa, the fallen member of the Corp. WIldheart deliberates, yelling back why should they? He yells at War that he doesn’t trust him and that she’s a bad guy! While they argue, #1 gets tired of waiting and blasts Wildheart, knocking him to the ground.

The blasts continue but Juanito jumps in the way, creating an force field made of light. He strains under the attack, not able to withstand the barrage for much longer. However it buys War and Wildheart the time they needed to get back on track.

As the Power Corp maneuvers and works together as a team, through the Golden Gate Guardians communicators, they begin to be able to hear into the Power Corps private communications. They don’t know how, but they can hear how the Corp is strategizing, allowing them the chance to outthink them.

Together, the team is able to hold off the Corp. War is able to crack one of the face plates, while Firework barrages them. Just as the Corp begins to reassemble, Arum comes flying in, inside a golden airplane. He flies over Bouncer, who was heading to battle on his bike, ties golden tethers of magic around him, and slams Bouncer into a member of the Power Corp, taking them down.

  1. calls for a tactical retreat, and the remaining Corp members pick up their fallen comrades and blast off. War hits them with an EMP Arrow, which causes them to slow down and slowly descend.

They fly off over the ocean, and the team is able to hear them request an evacuation. As they begin to teleport, Aurum casts one last nullify spell. He is able to prevent one member of the Power Corp from being teleported, but the rest vanish from view.

END COMBAT!

CUTSCENE #1!

In the vast emptiness of Space, past Saturn, a ship travels through void. A voice breaks through the silence, an alien garble that sounds nothing like human speech. “Captain, we’re picking up up odd energy readings coming from the third planet from the local star.”

A gruff voice responds, “Earth? That’s odd. That’s a primitive planet by our standards, not usually worth noticing. Bring it up on the view screen.”

The front of the ship lights up as a view of a giant swarm of rainbow lights carrying a shuttle of some kind and docking with a substandard space station.

“Hmm..” replies the unseen Captain. “Set a course for Earth. Looks like it may be worth looking into after all.”

CUTSCENE #2

The Power Corp materializes inside of a giant warehouse, a warehouse filled to the brim with ACME devices. Various weapons, armor, vehicles, gadgets and gizmos aplenty.

A metallic voice rings out through the warehouse. “DID YOU BRING #7 BACK!?”

  1. takes off his helmet, revealing an older, rough looking man. “No. And we lost #3. We weren’t prepared. They had a magic user with them.”
    The voice responds, “MAGIC? BAH, PARLOR TRICKS. WE SHALL PLAN ACCORDINGLY FOR NEXT TIME. NOW THEN, FOR MY PAYMENT…”
  1. flinches, “We…we don’t have it. #7 cleaned us out. But we’ll get another job, a score, and pay you back. We just need to get patched up and…”

“SILENCE. YOU COME TO ME, BEGGING FOR HELP, BUT WITH NO MEANS TO PAY?” A platform descends from the ceiling. On it stands a man in a lab coat and slacks. The man, though, is more than just. His skin is covered in a metallic shell, bolts sticking out from his head, yellow illuminated eyes scanning the Power Corp.

“I SHALL JUST HAVE TO RECEIVE MY PAYMENT IN…ANOTHER FASHION. I HAVE A JOB FOR YOU…”

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Chapter 14 Power Savers

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.

coughSidekickcough

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.

  1. 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.

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Chapter 13 Keep it in the Family part 2

In the middle of AEGIS HQ, Bouncer tackles the partially invisible woman down to the ground. She pushes him off, showcasing some potent strength, and attempts to go invisible again.

Now that Jesuit knows what to look for, he is able to “see” where she is and takes a few shots, causing her to become visible again. Bouncer tackles her once more, but this time, is zapped with electricity, causing him great pain.

Bouncer fights through the sparks and slams the woman into barrels of water, knocking both of them out. Jesuit heals Bouncer and AEGIS guards surround the woman.

As they watch, her suit begins to disintegrate, leaving a naked black woman lying on the grass, along with a flash drive.

As they clothe and tie her up, a metallic howl rings through the air. Mickey comes running out with an iPad, showing surveillance footage from outside the compound. The guard towers have spotted a creature outside of HQ and have shined spotlights on it. It’s a large metallic dog, big as a car, howling. It peers at HQ with glowing red eyes. Jesuit and Bouncer head out to meet it.

Firework looks at Aurum, panic in his eyes. Aurum holds Firework’s hand, with a calm expression, and nods his head. Firework’s sparks surround Aurum, and they both become a ball of rainbow sparks, merging their forms. They zip out of the tower and head towards Firework’s home.

A similar metallic dog lurks in his neighborhood, sniffing just a few doors down from his home. Firework lights up, catching the creature’s attention. Firework flies into the air, trying to lure the canine away from his home. The dog’s eyes light up and it leaps into the air, rocket propelled. Firework charges away, heading towards Treasure Island.

As he does so, Firework lights up as bright as he can, hoping that he can signal his friends to follow. With a miniature sun in the sky, everyone takes notice.

Back at home, Johnny 5 shows Wildheart that there is a creature lurking near his mom’s home in Oakland. Wildheart calls his mother, telling her to get down into the basement. He begins to head toward the garage, to drive to his mother, when Johnny points out that something has gotten the metal dog’s attention. The black and white viewscreen lights up, and the dog leaps into the air, away from his mom’s home. Wildheart breathes a sigh of relief.

War strolls through Golden Gate Park, with Melody Mist at his side. He had taken a few days off to spend time with Melody, though Melody insisted they stay in the Bay Area. “A staycation is the best!” As they walk about the dark park, Melody implies (heavily) that she would really like to see his new home, his “War Cave.” He begrudgingly agrees to show her that evening.

They get to War’s home, and are greeted by Johnny’s famous gun turrets, when War spies something stalking in the darkness. He puts Melody behind him as a giant metallic dog stealths out of the darkness. War watches as the dog walks up to the gated entrance of home, looks around, and continues its tracking, having been “pushed’ away by the house’s protective spells and tech. War watches as it goes down the street, and goes inside.

He almost gets slammed by Wildheart, who is racing towards the garage. War joins him, telling Melody to stay in the house. War tells Johnny 5 to watch over Melody, and to protect her. Johnny 5 asks if Melody likes video games. “Boy, do !?”

Wildheart and War leave the protective field of the house in the Impala. As soon as they do, the metallic dog catches their scent, howls, and chases after them. Barely keeping ahead of the creature, Wildheart heads towards AEGIS HQ, not sure where else to go. He sees the sky flare up in Rainbow colors, sees Firework traveling towards Treasure Island, and gets an idea. He sets the Impala to autopilot (thanks, Jackson) touches War, and teleports them to where he thinks Firework is.

On Treasure Island, the merged Firework and Aurum get surrounded by two of the metallic creatures. They’re joined by Wildheart and War, who’s own dog followed them, flying through the air and arriving moments after.

Aurum summons a big, bad wolf, and has it attack one of the dogs. Wildheart launches himself at one of the creature, trying to ride it like a cowboy. War stealths into the surrounding forest, and aims an explosive arrow, waiting for the right shot. Firework throws a blast of energy at another dog.

The dogs react to the attacks. One of the dogs eyes change color, and shoots out a beam of pure Nevernever energy, something that Firework is immune to. It changes color and shoots out a fire blast.

The dog that Wildheart rides gets damaged in the scuffle, but in moments, begins to self repair!

The big bad wolf faces off against the metallic creature. It’s too fast to be hit by metal dog, but it’s not strong enough to pierce its armor hide.

War changes tactics and shoots out a bolo arrow, snaring one of the wolves’ legs, giving the big bad wolf an advantage.

Back at AEGIS HQ, Jesuit and Bouncer face off against their own metal mutt. They test it’s strengths, shooting and punching, when Bouncer’s feet gets frozen by a beam from the dog’s eyes! Aurum is able to free Bouncer, and they continue to spar against it. Bouncer had called in the full force of AEGIS to get ready, and while they do, Jesuit and Bouncer buy them time.

Seeing that they’re at a stalemate, Firework realizes he needs to know more about these creatures, and their master.

He taps into the multiverse, and channels his other “selves” into him, a dangerous procedure for everyone involved. When connected, they lose touch, just for a moment, with reality, losing themselves in their hive mind. If they’re not careful, they can lose themselves into the vastness of the multiverse. But with enough willpower, they can gain the insight their “others” know.

The metallic dogs do indeed belong to Huntmaster, or The Huntmaster. Huntmaster has mastered the ability to travel between realities, without causing the usual chaotic disruptions that comes with foreign objects in foreign universes. He uses this ability to travel through different universes, hunting “game,” those he deems worthy of battle. Those who can pose a challenge, usually those who are capable of destroying or taking out his warhounds, catch his attention. He travels with his vast armament of weapons, and his flying headquarters, The Hunting Lodge, and challenges his prey to battle.

He gets bits and pieces of this information, from an infinite amount of sources. Most of his “selves” have never heard of him, others have heard whispers or myths. It is implied that he is the root of the legend of the Wyld Hunt.

All who have heard of him, or have dealt with him and lived say the same thing: Where he comes, destruction follows. Legend has it that he has been defeated before, typically by a valiant group of heroes (or villains, Huntmaster don’t care), it came at a great cost, usually massive devastation. He can be “defeated” in that if you gain his respect in battle, if your strength impresses him, or you otherwise “win” the fight, he will leave. But those cases are rare and few, and have not been verified.

It always starts the same. His warhounds show up first, tracking his prey. And if his warhounds are defeated, or are given a tough fight, they send out a mighty howl that will summon their master across the dimensions.

And that’s when the end becomes nigh.

Mere moments pass as Firework gains all this information. It takes him all his will to snap out of, to break free of the tight grip of the hive mind, and to not get lost in the multiverse. He does so, with help from the still bonded Aurum. Firework relays his information.

The team realizes that if they defeat the warhounds, Huntmaster will arrive. If they don’t defeat the warhounds, the mechanical terrors will kill them.

insert name wonders if there’s a way to block the signal, to prevent the warhounds from sending out the call.

In comes Melody Mist. Melody, who by now has bonded with Johnny 5, gets on the com with the team. She says that if she can get into the network, with Johnny 5’s help, she may be able to whip up something to help.

With some hesitation, the team gives Johnny 5 permission to help Melody. Doing so, they team up and hack into the city’s system. They say the can set off the tsunami alarms at a frequency that should, in theory, block whatever signal the warhounds use.

The team gives the go ahead.

Back at AEGIS HQ, Jesuit and Bouncer have given the army time to set up. At Bouncer’s command, AEGIS unleashes the full military power onto the beast. Bazookas, M-16s, grenades, and EMP bomb, and anything else that the base had is thrown at the self-reparing warhound. It takes it, repairs, takes it, repairs, and then starts to lose the battle. In moments, its systems are overwhelmed with the sheer might of AEGIS until finally, it explodes, sending Jesuit and Bouncer flying back. The creature is destroyed.

On Treasure Island, in the middle of battle, the three remaining warhounds stop, turn their heads towards AEGIS HQ on the mainland, and stand still, as if listening. Then, moments later, they all howl in unison. Firework can “see” that they are indeed broadcasting a signal.

At that moment, the tsunami sirens go off, but at a much higher pitch then normal. It’s almost painful to listen to, and the team isn’t even that close to them. Jesuit and Firework can “see” that it works! The signal the warhounds tried to send out can’t get pass the frequency that Melody & Johnny 5 are emitting.

The team steps away from the three warhounds, waiting for them to attack, when after a few moments, they self destruct.

From all four bodies, in the two different locations, a small, black cube shaped item lifts up over the debris of the warhounds. They hover where they are for a brief moment and then try to launch into the sky.

The team reacts instantly, with War shooting one out of the sky into Wildheart’s hands, another being caught by Firework’s sparks, another by Aurum’s force field, while Jesuit shoots the one near him, allowing Bouncer to bounce high enough to capture it.

The items beat against their holdings, trying to break free. Bouncer yells out to AEGIS to prepare containment for the devices.

Melody suggests that they put the cube near their wrist communicator, so Johnny can attempt to hack into it remotely. They do so, giving Johnny access.

“So…many…zettabytes…of data…”

Melody laughs into the coms, and goes, “So…does this mean I’m part of the team now?”

In unison, everyone says, “No!”

With no one to see her, Melody sulks.

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Chapter 13 Keep it in the Family

At breakfast, the team gets to know Heather a bit more. They discover that she “broke out” the year before. Her family was a bit dysfunctional from the sound of it, and her parents often argued. One evening they were arguing so much she got upset, which activated her powers. The road they were driving on slicked over with ice and the car skidded out of control, killing both her parents.

She was sent to an orphanage and a volunteer there told her to keep her powers secret, otherwise she’d never get adopted. She’d been trying to conceal her powers this whole time, sometimes losing control. When it got near the holidays, she just started to feel more and more angry at the world and that’s when…HE…came to her, and granted her wish.

The team asks what her abilities are. Heather takes a fresh egg from the fridge. She holds it up with her right hand, and it slowly becomes covered in ice. She moves the now Egg Ice Cube to her left hand, and the entire thing melts, egg and all, into a liquid goo.

Bouncer says she needs to be registered, that if AEGIS finds out about her and the fact that she isn’t registered, it wouldn’t end well. Some quick research finds that the youngest paranormal to have registered is a 17, almost 18 year old in New York. Heather, at 13, is the youngest Paranormal to have broken out.

They agree to bring her to AEGIS later to register and to help speed along the process, but to keep the incident with her parents a secret.

They talk about giving her training, so she can control her powers, and realize the best tutor would be the Caretaker. But when she wasn’t training, she should not use her powers. Guy makes a quick call to Jackson, who says that he’s already built an inhibitor that looks like jewelry, rather than the inhibitor collars that AEGIS uses, and has shipped it their way (precognition and all that). He sounds stressed and tired, and Firework learns that Jackson hasn’t been getting much sleep. Too many ideas in his head.

After breakfast, Firework, Aurum, Bouncer & Jesuit take Heather to Firework’s mother(s) home. Wildheart has other plans.

Samantha & Darla welcome the team for brunch. While Samantha plays homemaker, Firework talks to Darla about Heather. He says that she has nowhere else to go, no family, and putting her back in the system, with her abilities, would end disastrously. Darla says she must register, but since she’s a minor, that this would open up a world of legal issues (Darla has been studying Paranormal Paralegal issues lately).

Samantha meanwhile chats with the teammates and gets to know Heather. Once Darla and Firework return, everything is decided. Darla & Samantha will be Heather’s foster parents for now (Darla will work on the paperwork), she’ll be registered with AEGIS, and she’ll train with The Caretaker after school (really the only time she should take off her inhibitor until she can learn to control her powers).

Samantha is excited to have a child again. Darla is excited to start down a whole new legal path or Paranormal paralegal matters. And the rest of the team decide to let Caretaker he will have a new charge.

Meanwhile, Wildheart goes to have brunch with his mom. His mom tells him that his brother had stopped by a few times, each time making sure that Wildheart wasn’t present. She says that he said “I don’t want to cause any more problems than I already have.”

Wildheart tells his mom to pass along a message, that he would like to have coffee sometime and talk. Just talk. No punching.

Wildheart then goes to AEGIS HQ, and goes down the holding cells. He talks to Juanito, the paranormal that the team captured on Christmas Day. Wildheart tells Juanito that he’ll do what he can to help him in his situation, and will put him in touch with HOPE, to see if they can help with his legal issues.

Wildheart goes to talk to Dr. Brennan, but runs into Mickey, who says she’s on vacation.

Back in the city, Bouncer puts in a call to Dr. Brennan, to consult about Heather. Mickey answers and tells him she’s on vacation, and that he’s surprised Bouncer wasn’t notified. Bouncer shrugs it off and meets back with the rest of the team.

Firework pulls out his Golden Key and put it in the door to his pantry. When he opens the door, a black void stands before him. He lets everyone go in before he does, and then follows. They get the sensation of traversing dimensions (something Firework is used to) and arrive in the Nevernever, at The Lair entrance.

Which now looks like a swanky hotel lobby, with a check in desk, lounge furniture, and staircases going up several floors.

The team walk to the “STAFF ONLY” door and open it. Inside they find the familiar, endless hallway with doors on either side. They get their bearings and head towards “their” room. As they do, they hear a crash from inside one of the rooms, and out stumbles a disheveled Caretaker.

“Oh. You guys. Can’t y’all knock?”

From inside the room comes Dr. Brennan, not in her usual business attire, but in a baggy sweater and leggings. Her usually impeccable hair is pushed back in a bun with various strands sticking out.
“Ahem. Gentleman. I see that you…are here…and well…ahem…”

Firework giggles as Aurum says, “Now now, Temperance. We’re all adults here. There’s not need to explain your…liaisons. We are here to talk with The Caretaker.”

Caretaker goes, “Bout time. It’s been ages since y’all stopped by. Can’t bother to check in on an old man?”

“You look like you’ve kept busy.” Bouncer says.

Caretaker explains that he has upgraded The Lair, with better security after the “incident’ last time, as well as created a few more portals. It’s not instant teleportation everywhere, but a good number of locations around the globe. Dr. Brennan seems a bit hesitant about the idea of her AMERICAN team traversing the globe, but the team seem excited by the notion.

They explain the situation about Heather, and Caretaker agrees to take on Heather, while Dr. Brennan agrees to help where she can with the registration process.

Jesuit hd something bothering him. He says, “Dr. Brennan, how long have you been here?”

“Well, time moves differently here, as you know, so quite some time actually. However in the “real world,” I’ve only been gone a few days. Did you not get my message?”

Bouncer says, “Wait…you’ve been here? You weren’t around on Christmas Eve?”

She shakes her head, “No, I took time off and was here with Carl. The vacation request was a bit last minute, but I made sure that you would be notified…”

Bouncer goes, “Then who…wait, we talked to you yesterday, on Christmas Eve, and you sent us on a mission. An easy one, but…oh no.”

Bouncer and Jesuit leave through one of the new portal doorways and head straight for AEGIS HQ. They walk in as if nothing was wrong, and head straight for Dr. Brennan’s office. They see Mickey at his terminal, in the office, working. They question him about what he’s doing there, and he says he needed the pay so volunteered to work the holiday shift. He says that he’d been keeping track of Dr. Brennan’s message and keeping her files in order for when she returned.

Jesuit is able to tell that he is not lying.

They ask him to bring up surveillance footage of the past few days. For a while, they spot nothing. Then, the day before, they see what appears to be Dr. Brennan walk through the security gate. She walks carefully, around people. No one seems to really pay attention. She gets to the office, walks in, and does not leave. At all.
Mickey quickly goes onto Dr. Brennan’s computer and checks it.

“It’s been wiped. All of it.”

Bouncer immediately calls General Jackson, the person in charge, and informs him there’s been a data breach. Jesuit focuses his powers, using sight beyond sight.

He barely notices that the door behind them opens slightly, and not by the wind. He excuses himself, making eye contact with Bouncer, and follows the lead.

Focusing his sight abilities (aka uses a Hero Point) he’s able to see what he wasn’t before…light being refracted away from a particular space, causing invisibility. He takes aim and fires, hitting a humanoid figure. A wave of electricity courses through the body, briefly revealing a woman covered head to toe in a body suit. She goes invisible, but the shot left a patch of circuitry revealed in her back.

She bolts, running outside, but is tackled by a charging Bouncer, and knocked to the ground.

Back home, Aurum and Firework walk into their home. As they’re about to go up to their penthouse, Johnny 5’s alarm system sets off.

“Firework! You have to head to your moms’ now!” The tv turns into a view screen, showing surveillance footage of Firework’s moms’ condo. Outside, stalking and sniffing the ground, is a metallic robot dog.

The viewscreen begins to show other views, including outside of HOPE and AEGIS HQ, and outside of Wildheart’s mom’s street. The same metallic dogs, stalking in the darkness.

Firework’s jaw drops. “Those dogs…they belong to The Huntmaster.”

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Crisis on Christmas Part 2

Adventure Log: Crisis on Christmas Part 2

The team watches as a pack of wolves comes out from the darkness of the forest. Their eyes glow a crimson red, their fur is laced with ice and snow. They growl and stalk forward, slowly at first.

And then another pack comes out. And another. And another. Each from the same path in the forest.

The alpha, the large wolf leading the packs, howls a chillingly howl, and they charge.

Jesuit fires but for everyone he takes out, another takes its place. Firework scoops up several of them and tosses them aside, but doesn’t make a dent in the wave of wolves.

Aurum casts a spell, circling the team in a ring of fire. The wolves back off at first, their ice melting as it gets close to the protective barrier. But they’re steeling their resolve, and the team knows the fire will only hold them off for so long.

Jesuit scans the area, trying to find an exit point. He can tell that the wolves are magical in nature, that they’re weak to fire, but that it won’t stop the horde.

Jesuit gets on Bouncer’s shoulders to get a better viewpoint. He sees that there’s a small alcove in the outskirts of the forest, several yards away. At the mouth of the entrance, there’s a pile of what appears to be…toys. Toys of all shapes and sizes. Jesuit points the team to that direction.

Firework surrounds them in sparks, and though he can’t carry them, he is able to move the forcefield around them as they continue their journey.

Firework can feel the wolves pushing against his force field, and knows that they’ll break through by sheer numbers.

As they get closer to the pile of toys, someone, or something, from inside the entrance yells, “About time! We’ve been trying to get yous attention for a while! C’mon ya lugs! Get in!” The voice is high pitched and squeaky, with a bit of a bronx accent.

Toys begin to get tossed from out of the entrance. Baseball bats, toy trucks, wooden ducks, and all manners of toys get chucked, hitting the wolves in the face. This catches the packs off guard and they step back. The team uses this distraction and runs inside. As soon as they pass the small pile of toys at the entrance, they realize they didn’t enter the forest. They entered a giant ice cave.

The entrance behind them seals up, as a wall of toys manifests and locks them in.

The team finds themselves surround by tiny humanoid figures. They seem incomplete, as if they weren’t done being created, but they were friendly, chittering in a squeaky, high pitched language. The only one who can understand them is Aurum, and he concludes that they don’t pose any serious threat.

The one who speaks english says, “Call me Doc. That’s what these mooks call me anyways. Any who, we called out for help, and that guy in the cape, you knows, the flashy one?”

Aurum goes, “Eldritch? The Master Mage of this dimension?”

“Yeah, that’s the one. We’ve had dealings with him before, not the most talkative guy, let me tell ya, and so when things went down around here, we called him for help. Turns out he was outta town, and so he decided to outsource, namely y’alls. So, can ya help?”

The team looks around at each other. “With what, exactly?” Firework asks.

“Saving Christmas, of course! Jeez!” exclaims Doc.

The team all look at each other, confused. Jesuit goes, “And Christmas is what now?”

Dock smacks his forehead, “Of course, duh. You got the whammy put on ya too. Hold on.” Doc walks over to a toy chest and starts to rummage through it. He pulls out a handful of what appear to be roasted chestnuts.

“Here. Munch on these and all will be revealed and stuff.”

The team wearily eyes the treat. Firework goes, “Oh well, let’s see what happens.” and pops one in his mouth.

Firework gets blasted with memories of his childhood, of the few Christmas’ that his family spent together, happy. He remembers being a child, being surrounded by presents because he was an only child, and his mom and dad happily sitting on their sofa, watching their child happily tear through the wrapping paper. They held each other as they watched, content and sure that this would last forever.

Firework is filled with warmth and happiness and energy. He remembers everything about Christmas and realizes something is wrong with the world.

Jesuit follows suit. He too is filled with memories, of the various sermons he’s performed on Christmas Ever and Christmas, at various spots around the world. He remembers the joy and comfort he brought to those who attended his mass, the hope he gave them, and the much needed spiritual support that they in return gave him.

Aurum goes last, and his memories are slightly more…different. He remembers sitting on a chair with a single gift in front of him. His parents stand by the fireplace, watching. Aurum gingerly opens the gift and reveals his first Book of Shadows. His parents stand stoic, but proud, that their son has reached this milestone. He gets up and bows before his parents, thanking him for parting with him their knowledge and this responsibility. Aurum’s father calls Everett Smith, the head of the house staff, who brings in warm brandy for the adults, and butter beer for Aurum.

The team has a musical interlude about what it Christmas means to them. Though they will never admit it.

The humanoids now show their true appearance, that of elves. Santa’s elves, to be percise.

Doc explains that they were all gearing up for the big holiday season when a blizzard blew in, blowing through all of Santa’s defenses. A witch, calling herself Disparia, kidnapped Santa & Mrs. Claus, and kicked out all the elves! She’s taken over Santa’s workshop, with an army of grinch like creatures, and as long as she has Santa captured, no one remembers Christmas!

The team agrees to help. Doc says that if the team can create a distraction, their ninja elves (elves that are wearing the same kind of holiday clothing, but all in black) can sneak into the workshop and free the Clauses’. Otherwise, the world is doomed to a dreary winter season.

The team now notices how bleak the world was. With no holiday cheer, the long winter cold months just sapped everyone of merriment, of happiness, and most importantly, of hope. They all set off down one of the cavernous tunnels to Santa’s Workshop.

Back in San Francisco, Wildheart rides in the back of the AEGIS truck with Juanito, the Paranormal who was forced to help rob the bank the team stopped. Wildheart explains that as the law stands, Juanito is going straight to jail. No trial, no appeal, just jail. The law is different for Paranormals, but he’s working with an agency, HOPE, that aims to change those laws. Juanito says he didn’t want to do the crime, but he also doesn’t want to fight anymore.

As they talk, the truck suddenly stops. WIldheart asks the agents what’s going on. Seems like there’s a large crowd brewing in Union Square. Wildheart goes to investigate.

He sees what looks like an angry mob, facing off against a squad of police officers. The tensions that has been rising throughout the winter has hit a spark, and these two clashing groups looked ready for a fight. Wildheart can see that police in riot gear were coming, and he could see members of the civilian mob were picking up things to throw, including bricks, bottles, and whatever else they can get their hands on.

Wildheart spots a few tourists, trying to get away from the mob. He sees a mother with a baby carriage trapped, and that’s when the fight begins. Police draw their guns, bricks are thrown, and chaos ensues.

Back at the North Pole (?), the team leaves the giant cave and see a vast field, covered in snow. In the middle lies a simple, wooden cottage, one story, barely bigger than the team’s HQ, with smoke rising from the chimney.

The team walk across the field, leaving the elves behind (except the ninja elves, who have vanished from view). As they get closer, Bouncer says, “Distraction, huh? I got this.”

He walks ahead of the team, raises his arms, and slams his hands together, creating a massive shockwave, blowing snow from their path and straight for the cottage.

The shockwave hits an invisible force field, surrounding the cottage. As the ringing leaves the ears of the heroes, the front door of the cottage opens. Racing out comes a pack of ape like creatures, with thin limbs, distended bellies and heavy green fur. They charge the team. As they do so, a blast explodes from the roof of the cottage, and carried by arctic winds comes Desparia.

Desparia is clothed in an elegant, purple gown, with black hair and dark piercing eyes. She is carried aloft on the wind, and the team can’t help but notice her similar appearance to a certain Disney Princess (or is that Queen?). She cries out, “You’re here to ruin my fun! No one does that!”

Bouncer throws himself into the pack of animals, tossing them this way and that. The team focus on Desparia. Everything they hit her with is deflected by a force field. Jesuit tries to get a read on her, but his Angel Eye is somehow blocked. They try to get her to monologue, which she does, “No one can enjoy Christmas, not as long as I have Santa!”

The team starts to whittle down her force field, forcing their way through. As it looks like it’s about to burst, Desparia screams in rage and summons a blizzard, which starts to freeze the team!

As the team struggles against the cold, the door to the cottage bursts open. From out of the darkness steps Kris Kringle himself, though each of the team sees him differently. He bellows out a “HO HO HO” which causes the blizzard to cease, and the creatures, who were starting to overwhelm Bouncer, to dissipate.

Santa says, “You’ve been a very sad, very naughty little girl, Heather. Do you want to ruin Christmas for every little boy and girl?”

Disparia, who at this point has landed on the snow, screams out, “Why not!? It was ruined for me! It was taken from me!” An icy tear goes down her cheek. “Why?! Why did they have to die!?”

At that moment, Jesuit smells sulfur. He senses power around him. A voice from out of nowhere says, “Because life isn’t fair, my dear. Not for you, anyway, so why should it be fair for anyone else?”

In the blink of an eye, a man stands near Disparia. A middle aged,, attractive man, in a business suit, stands near her. He walks around her, eyeing Santa, smiling at the team, saying, “That is why I came to you. To help you. To make sure that others suffer as you did.”

Jesuit and Aurum look at Santa, and then at Disparia. Jesuit says, “Dispar…Heather…Who died?”

Heather doesn’t look at him, looking at the ground instead. She goes, “I…I couldn’t control it. I didn’t know what was happening. One minute we were driving…driving home from practice…when the road got slippery. I was mad that I lost the game, but…I didn’t mean for it to happen.”

Aurum watches the man and says, “Your powers. You broke out, did you not? Lose control?”

Heather slowly nods. “The road got slippery….I didn’t mean it…”

The man goes, “Of course not, my dear. But I heard your call. I heard your wish. You used to love Christmas. But that was taken from you. Isn’t this better? Isn’t this what you wanted?”

Firework steps in. “Heather, it wasn’t your fault. You’re a Paranormal. You’re like us. We learned to control our powers. You can too. If you want, we can help you.”

Jesuit has been racking his brain. He knows he’s heard about this person before, but he couldn’t…

“Mr. Infamy.” Jesuit says softly.

The man smiles, “Ah, you’ve heard of me? Excellent.”

Jesuit knows he must do more research, but he’s heard of a…person…thing…who goes around the world, granting wishes, but usually at great cost, and usually with unexpected results.

Jesuit, Aurum, and Firework say their peace, each talking about the wonders and magic of Christmas. They explain how dark and dreary the world has become without it, and how just like Heather, people are suffering. They talk about how the world can be tough, but that she doesn’t have to be alone. They talk about the spirit of Christmas, as Santa Claus himself stands proudly near.

Disparia looks at the team, and then at Santa, and then at Mr. Infamy. “I take back my wish.”

Mr. Infamy frowns. “Don’t you remember how much it hurt you, Heather, losing your parents. The thought of spending Christmas alone?”

Disparia starts to melt. Revealed is a little girl of 13, with brown hair in ponytail and overalls. She goes, “I take back my wish.”

Mr. Infamy starts to say something when Mr. Claus goes, “You heard her. GIve her what she wants.” He crosses his arms, which have words tattooed on them. Naughty & Nice.

The team circles around Mr. Infamy. Firework goes, “You might be able to take us on, but you can’t take him on.” pointing to Santa. “Not in his place of power.”

Mr. Infamy scowls for a brief moment, and then smiles. “Of course, my dear. Your wish is my…etc.” Mr. Infamy snaps his fingers. And begins to walk away. “Pleasure meeting all of you. I had wondered when our paths would cross. I would imagine, they’ll cross again.”

Aurum goes, “Yes yes, oh mighty being. I’m sure we’ll see you again. Soon.” He waves him off.

Mr. Infamy smiles, “Indeed. Eriss says hello, by the way.” and with that, he vanishes.

The team gather around young Heather. Mr. Claus looks happy, but tired. “Thank you, everyone, for saving Christmas. Normally I would have been able to handle it, but well, that man sucker punched me. Me! There’s just no class in the world anymore. HO HO HO.”

Mrs. Claus walks out. “Dear, ask what you want to ask. I’m sure they’ll help.”

Mr. Claus looks at the team. “Well see, breaking free, and breaking Mr. Infamy’s hold on my land took a lot out of me. I’m just not in the right space to…”

Firework jumps up into the sky. “We’ll do it! We’ll save Christmas!”

Mr Claus laughs a hearty laugh, “I figured you might. My reindeer and I are a bit out of commission. But I can still help. Follow me.”

Entering the small cottage, the team is not surprised to find it is bigger in the inside. Much, much bigger. A giant toy factory, manned by hundreds of elves, is running at full steam. Walking through the orderly chaos, the team is led to Santa’s sleigh. Just big enough to fit everyone. In the back of the sleigh is a giant red sack, filled to the brim with toys.

With Santa’s help warping time and space, the team gets ready. Jesuit will be able to tell who is “naughty or nice.” Aurum will be able to channel Santa’s magic to fly them around the world in a single night. Firework will light the way. And Bouncer will pull the sleigh. Firework makes sure a single red spark lands on Bouncer’s nose.

Together, they take flight, zipping around the world, delivering gifts to all manners of houses and homes. Each house they visit becomes filled to the brim with Christmas cheer and decorations. Each gift they deliver disappears, as the hope that is contained within disperses among the people sleeping. And sometimes, once in a while, a child will awaken and see the magic that is Christmas.

Back in San Francisco, Wildheart saves the women and the stroller, and starts leaping to and fro, trying to break up the riot. He yells out and tells everyone to calm themselves, that this is not right, and that everyone needs to work together. As he does so, the crowd listens, but begins to advance toward each other. Wildheart gets ready to bust some heads when he looks up. He swears he sees something flying in front of the moon…and maybe a red light leading the way.

As the team travels home, the joy of Christmas fills the air. Decorations appear, music begins to play, and the riot stops. Everyone looks at each other, police and civilians, and they begin to disperse, helping those who need it along the way.

The team has saved Christmas.

The next day, the team wakes up in their respective rooms. They walk into the living room where Johnny 5 has decorated (as best he could) with various gifts under an electronic tree (yay Amazon Prime, he says!).

Heather walks out of the guest room, as well. She is in pajamas and thanks the team for celebrating Christmas with her. Firework walks to her and kneels down, “So…you don’t have any other family?” Heather shakes her head.

Firework smiles. “We’ll just have to see about that.”

View
Crisis on Christmas

The team has some downtime and spends it working on personal projects.

Firework has been working on his relationship with NASA, at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View. With his help, they have been building a new space shuttle that will be launched into space to dock with the International Space Station. And by launched we mean “Firework will carry it up into Space.”

Firework would’ve preferred to do the work himself, and would’ve done it faster, but Jesuit convinced him that the reason the scientists and engineers were “going slowly” was because they are human, and they are taking as many precautions as they normally do, but also, they do things in a certain way. Basically, by not doing “everything” for them, they won’t feel useless.

Fireworks presence at the center has increased interest in NASA and the sciences in general by several factors, deeming it “cool” since an actual “superhero” is involved.

Launch will occur within the next month or so.

Aurum’s social experiment has become an overwhelming success. #WeCanAllBeFireworks has spread throughout the internets and has opened up a dialogue with the youth of the nation, as well as the world, about Paranormal rights. Tumblr has spawned several memes and spread the word of Paranormal injustices throughout the world.

As it stands, in certain countries Paranormals have no rights. In others, like America, Paranormals are jailed without trial if they break the law with their abilities. They are deemed too dangerous to be allowed to run free. In fact, even in the U.S. Paranormals have been lynched because of what they are (typically in the more rural parts of the nation). #WeCanAllBeFireworks has been showcasing these issues, and raising funds to help Paranormals with their plights.

Wildheart has been training with HOPE, and had his first recruitment drive. HOPE held a meeting where Paranormals could come in and learn about HOPE and about what HOPE can offer them.

No one came.

They asked Wildheart if he could help them expand, help them spread the word about what HOPE does and what it can do for Paranormals. Wildheart said he would, and would use his contacts to help reach out to people.

At the next meeting, a single female Paranormal came. She had the ability to mimic the colors of her surroundings, but not completely, and she couldn’t turn it off. She explains that she’s been harassed at work but since there are no discrimination laws protecting Paranormals, there is nothing she can do. Wildheart tells her that he and HOPE are here to help with all legal issues, and that if she comes to HOPE HQ they’ll be able to set her up with an agent.

After she leaves, HOPEs representatives say they’re grateful to Wildheart and hope that he can help bring in new members. Wildheart suggests maybe an alliance between AEGIS & HOPE, which the representatives are in favor for.

Bouncer has been having various meetings with the liaisons of the other AEGIS Paranormal Units. They’ve been going through reports about their various missions, and asking for tactical advice from Bouncer. They also wanted to get his feel on a proposal they’ve been working on.

Lately, it seems, more and more of the Units have been participating in…extracurricular activities. . Technically, AEGIS Paranormal Units are only authorized to work on cases involving Paranormals. So though a bank robbery isn’t in their jurisdiction, a bank robbery with a Paranormal involved is. But a few of the Paranormals in the various teams have been acting out of turn.

Dragon Eye took down an opium den in Emerald City. Mindblast stopped a mugger with his telekinesis in New York City. And Captain Thunder stopped a human arsonist in Freedom City. Each of these incidents they stumbled upon “accidentally” according to their reports. Captain Thunder was the most vocal, where he stated, “I saw an opportunity to help, and I took it. It would’ve been wrong of me NOT to help.”

The liaisons don’t’ want to condone vigilantism. As is, there have been reports all over the country of Paranormals acting against the law by interfering in police activity (ie capturing criminals) and if AEGIS’ own teams were seen doing the same thing, it wouldn’t look good.

Currently, AEGIS Paranormal units can only act within their jurisdiction (except for the Watchguard Unit, which travels the country where needed), and only when it comes to Paranormal incidents. The new proposal would allow all the teams free reign of the country, and the authority to help out where they were needed, including non-Paranormal activities.

They would basically become Federal Marshals.

The liaisons all talk about the benefits this would provide, why this would be beneficial in the long run, that studies shown how effective the Watchguard Unit has been, and the like.

Everyone except Dr. Brennan, who has been quiet throughout the meeting.

The liaisons would like to know what Bouncer thinks, seeing as how the Golden Gate Guardians are the most experienced with earth shattering events (no other team has fought a Kaiju…), whether he agrees with the proposal or not, and whether he would support it.

Bouncer agrees that this could only lead to the units being more effective, and would stave off the look of “vigilantism” since he admits that even members of his own unit would eventually “go off the rails” in helping people.

Bouncer gives his support to the cause.

After the meeting, Bouncer asks Dr. Brennan what she thinks. She says that though she agrees the units can do more, should do more, she feels that there were will be opposition to the proposal. As is, members in Congress are still concerned about Paranormal activity, as well as AEGIS as an operation. She worries, as well, that if the units get too much power too fast, there will be a backlash.

She says that current studies indicate that the number of Paranormals in the united states could be as high as 1% of the population. The majority of Paranormals have low level abilities, those that don’t pose much danger to the world. But potentially 1% of that number could have high level abilities, where they could very well cause massive destruction. With those number keeping steady, AEGIS and the Paranormal Units are needed more than ever.

She stands with Bouncer and his decision.

Jesuit has been visiting St. Patrick’s and helping out there by taking confessions. Since he is a well known Paranormal, and member of AEGIS, attendance spiked for a few weeks. After it was seen that he would not be performing sermons, the numbers went down, though confessions stayed steady. Several Paranormals, even nonbelievers, came to talk to Jesuit, several of them asking whether it was a gift or curse from God that made them the way they are.

Jesuit said that this was neither a gift nor a curse, just that it was life. God may have given them these abilities, but what matters is what the individual does with these abilities that will dictate whether they’re “good” or “bad.” Free will is God’s greatest gift, and every person, Paranormals and humans alike, have the capacity for good or evil.

Mike, feel free to include your speech here. It was very pretty

After a few weeks, Jesuit gets a call from the Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone. He says that he would like to meet with Jesuit the following week, that he has important matters to discuss with him. Jesuit agrees to meet with him.

Fast forward in time.

Late December and winter have settled upon San Francisco like a dark, grey shroud. The leaden sky brings in a thick layer of fog onto the streets and creates a chill that settles into your bones and spirit. It’s clear the people of the city feel it, too, as they huddle into coats, hats, and scarves (some in flip flops), scuttling about their business, scarcely even looking up to the grey sky above.

The team is called into action, by a rather dreary Dr. Brennan, who informs them that a paranormal has led a gang into robbing a bank. Police are on site and waiting for AEGIS to intervene, thus, the team.

Firework gathers up his team, except for Aurum who teleports away, into the sky and flies. The city is dark, with any lights barely penetrating the grey fog. The cold bites into the team as they whisk through the quiet city.

In the financial district they meet up with a squadron of police car, outside of a bank with a window destroyed. They have their guns out and pointing at the entrance of the bank.

Bouncer talks to the police, who seem pretty miserable, being out in the cold. They don’t appear particularly impressed with the flying firework display that is the team. Jesuit does a quick scan on the police officers, and other than them being tired, sad, and lonely, nothing appears out of the ordinary.

Bouncer splits the team up, Jesuit in a sniping position, Aurum summoning a fog creature to send in, Firework sending in a spark to do recon, and Wildheart and him go straight through the front door.

Firework sees that there are 6 humans and one paranormal, who is currently pacing back and forth, one who opens up one of the bags of money and gets splotched with ink.

Aurum and Firework take care of the hostages, zipping in and out and getting them to safety (with sparks and with the Fog Elemental teleporting the other). Bouncer and Wildheart charge in (Wildheart through the closed door, destroying it) and Wildheart beats down half the mooks before they can return fire.

Two of them bolt, getting sniped by Jesuit in the process.

The Paranormal fires a blast of energy at Bouncer, who powers him up minimally. Turns out the Paranormal has a flashy power, but not much force behind it. The paranormal, a college age kid, runs into the vault, the only place around to escape to.

Wildheart comes after him, sees him trying to blast his way through the vault, but his blasts aren’t strong enough to cut through steel.

Wildheart grapples the young man, and takes him down. He talks with him and finds out that the paranormal was blackmailed into performing the bank heist, that the local gang threatened to hurt his family if he didn’t help them. He tried to explain that he didn’t know how to control his powers really, but the gang forced him.

Outside, Aurum intimidates the leader of the gang (the first one to run) into spilling the truth, that he did threaten the kids family, that he is the one in charge, and that he was the one who was going to take the money and split.

As Wildheart walks out with the Paranormal, AEGIS shows up. As they put him into the van, with a power neutralizer on, he says, “I’ll never forget what the date was yesterday, when I broke out. December 23rd. It was such a normal day…”

Aurum sarcastically goes, “Oh it’s Christmas Eve? I didn’t get you all anything.”

What’s Christmas? Turns out there is no such thing as Christmas. There are no Christmas decorations, no holiday spirit. The players know this. The characters do not. Ergo, Aurum didn’t say what he just said.

Wildheart says he’ll ride back with AEGIS and with the Paranormal. The kid is scared, but Wildheart promises that he’ll stick with him for a while.

The rest of the cops thank the team, sort of. They’re grateful, but the thanks is rather lackluster, as they head out. As Firework gets ready to bring the team home, something happens that stops them in their tracks.

There is a shimmer in the air in front of you, and you brace yourselves for more trouble. What could it be now?

The shimmer takes the form of a three individuals, two of them on the side facing away from the one in the middle, who is sitting in yoga pose. The two individuals are Dragon Eye from Emerald City and Seven from Freedom city. The man in the middle wears flowing cloak of dark blue, clasped at the throat with a circular silver amulet with a triangle inscribed inside it.

Aurum recognize him immediately from his travels, Eldritch, the Master Mage! His image remains translucent, as he spreads his cloak and holds out a hand towards the team.

“My friends,” he says in a hollow and spectral voice, “I have paused this moment in time to reach out to you.” Indeed, as you glance around, you see everything and everyone else frozen, motionless. Even the heavy fog seems to have come to a stand still.

“There is a great disturbance in the natural order,” the master mage says. “Some force has disrupted reality and things are not as they should be. I have been barred from returning to Earth’s dimension, flung into the nether realms, but I have managed to contact these two young mystics, and they have helped me send my astral form to you. I need your aid to right this disturbance and restore the cosmic balance. If you help me, then quickly reach out and take hold of my cloak.”

The team look at each other, and then at Aurum. Aurum explains that this is Eldritch, the Master Mage of this Realm, the sorcerer supreme basically. His uncle Gerald has had dealings with him, and Aurum trusts him.

The team reach out to grab onto the cloak. Wildheart, who is still psychically linked, has to make a decision, stay with the young Paranormal, or teleport back to his team. Indeed, even the truck and its passengers are frozen in time.

Wildheart decides to stay with the young paranormal who he promised to help.

A chill wind swirls around the team who touch the cloak, and the world fades as if behind a wall of snow and mist. When it clears, they find yourselves standing outside on snow-covered ground in a mountain pass of some sort.

Eldritch’s phantasmal form hovers above, a look of strain on his face. “I have expended my energies,” the master mage says. “I must return to my physical body at once, in hopes of navigating the netherworlds. The forces that have upset the natural order are close at hand.
It is now up to you, my friends. You must put things right once more!”

Before you can respond, Eldritch’s astral form fades and is gone. A cold wind swirls through the
pass, whipping up the snow, and thunder rumbles somewhere in the distance.

The team looks around and sees endless snowy field behind them, and a path that leads up an icy mountain.

Firework tries to fly into the sky, but finds that he cannot. His sparks are also quiet, and he can’t shift into the Nevernever. Aurum creates a bubble to carry them up the path, but though he can create the construct, it can’t be lifted off the ground. Bouncer can’t leap more than a few feet, either. They decide to hoof it.

Literally. Aurum creates a sleigh construct and wraps the reigns on Bouncer, who shrugs them off and they begin to walk.

After an hour, Firework & Aurum are in the lead, while Bouncer and Jesuit stray behind. They’re not used to walking to their destination, especially in such rugged terrain. Once at the top they come to a plateau where the snow covers the ground and a forest lays beyond.

From out of the forest Jesuit & Firework see red glowing eyes. A pack of grey, snow covered wolves comes out, a dozen at least.

And they look hungry.

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Chapter 12 The Clique Part 2

The team freeze where they are, seeing their teammate in harm’s way. Turns out while the rest of the team was fighting the various paranormals, Jesuit had had his own battle.

Jesuit, on the roof, had been taking aim to hit the villains when he sensed a presence behind him. Sure enough, he was able to dodge out of the way in time to see Kid Karma sneaking up behind him. Back and forth the gunslingers went, each a match at firearms and dodging. Jesuit got the upper hand and was about to knock out Kid when he tripped and lost his gun!

Not sure of what happened, Jesuit was about to get up when he saw Epiphany Jones step into view. She had used her bad luck powers to win the battle. Held at gunpoint, Jesuit was powerless as a teleportation field surrounded them and they were zapped to where the main battle was being held.

Kid Karma says, “All you power folks are gonna let us go, or else the Padre gets it in the head, understood? Ladies, let’s vamoose.”

Epiphany Jones smiles as she begins to walk away, while Basilisk and Faster Pussycat back away.

Jesuit had activated his Angel Eye previously, and was getting a read on the situation. He realizes that Kid Karma, for all his bravado, wasn’t shooting to kill. In fact, Jesuit is able to tell from his stance and voice that he has no intention of killing anyone. This doesn’t mean he wouldn’t shoot someone in the leg, but not in the head.

Jesuit makes his move.

He leaps out of the way, causing Karma to curse as he tries to shoot him, but since he wasn’t aiming to kill, he missed.

Kid Karma was indeed holding back.

Epiphany Jones, though, screams in rage and yells out, “Hole Opens Up!” The floor beneath Jesuit collapses into the sewers, but Jesuit is able to jump out of the way. Jesuit can quickly tell that Jones has no qualms about killing.

Jesuit takes in the situation, and realizes there is a presence in the battlefield that hasn’t revealed itself. It’s a familiar sensation, one that harkens back to when Colleen was around. He realizes that there’s someone invisible behind some bushes, the same person who was around the first time they encountered Mindfire, Anvil, and the others.

The battle begins anew.

Bouncer attempts to attack Faster Pussycat when Epiphany Jones causes him to miss. Pussycat blows him a kiss and zips away.

Basilisk takes in the battle and then let loose a shriek, causing everyone to cover their ears. Bouncer, being the closest, falls to the ground. He yells out a strategy and inspires his team to keep going!

Basilisk yells out, “We have to get out of here!” Pussycat says, “We still got a job to finish.” She runs back into the museum, followed by Basilisk.

Aurum, seeing through his water golem, sees that Jesuit doesn’t have his gun. He casts a retrieval spell, zapping the gun that was left on the roof into Jesuit’s hand. He then mindlinks everyone, except for Wildheart.

After taking a few shots at each other, Jesuit uses his strong personality to unnerve Kid Karma, intimidating him.

Kid turns around and looks at Epiphany. Jesuit is able to tell that Kid has feelings for Epiphany, though Epiphany was too busy casting bad luck bolts to return the look.

Kid turns, calling out to Epiphany. “Time to go! Get to our exit!” and runs to the bush, where the unseen presence is.

Firework arrives at the scene, when Jesuit via mindlink says there’s someone behind the bush, invisible! Firework unleashes a torrent of sparks, while Jesuit fires at the bush, War launches a knockout arrow, and Aurum commands his water golem to attack the area.

A cry of pain and surprise rings out as a young, asian girl dressed in goth clothing appears. She never stood a chance and is instantly knocked out. The golem absorbs her incapacitated body, keeping just her head afloat.

“No!” Karma yells out. Jesuit catches up to the gunslinger and hits his pressure points, knocking him out.

Epiphany Jones sparks with power. She glares at Jesuit, but Wildheart leaps into the fray to block the attack. Wildheart gets her into a grapple, stopping her from moving. She cries out, “Lightning Attack!” and immediately nearby powerlines snap and hit Wildheart! Wildheart’s body gets electrocuted, but so does Epiphany’s! She is instantly knocked out, and though Wildheart’s skin is sizzling, he remains conscious.

During all this, War has stealthed his way inside the museum, following Basilisk & Faster Pussycat. Through the mindlink, he tells the others that Pussycat goes for an egyptian cat statue.

Firework goes, “Typical.”

War watches as Pussycat smashes the cat’s head, tipping it upside down. Out pops a scroll, ancient and dusty.

“Our buyer is going to be pleased.” She says, as she tucks the scroll into her side pocket.

Basilisk says, “Mindfire. Get us out of here!”

Mindfire starts to burn her way through the wall, trying to create an exit for her teammates.

War had stealthed behind the two villains, and watched as they bagged up the scroll. He lets loose with a gas arrow and knocks out Faster Pussycat. Basilisk turns to face War and paralyzes him!

Firework tries to strike Mindfire, but she is protected by a TK field, which Mindfire uses to scoop up Basilisk & Pussycat. As they begin to lift off, Bouncer shows up, grabs a nearby tarp and wraps it around the bubble. Aurum creates a golden chain that connects to the tarp, which Bouncer grabs a hold of.

BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM!

Bouncer slams the bubble into the ground, over and over again, side to side. After a few smashes, the bubble pops, leaving the bad guys trapped in the tarp, unconscious.

Aurum, having been connected via a mindlink with War, teleports the scroll from the unconscious Pussycat to his hand. He unravels it, looks at it, and then sets it ablaze.

Firework lifts up the tarp, ready to lock down the unconscious villains. He is mildly surprised when he realizes that only Basilisk & Mindfire are there. Faster Pussycat is gone!

Outside, the water golem walks towards the house, empty. The goth teen has escaped, teleporting away, most likely with Faster Pussycat.

The team wraps up the bad guys, and waits for AEGIS to take them away. Jesuit asks where the scroll is. Aurum says, “It was some sort of ritual, designed to bring about “an army.” An army of what, or for whom, I cannot say. I felt it best if the scroll was destroyed, in case others come looking for it.”

The others nod in agreement and get ready to go home.

CUT SCENE
Night time in an undisclosed section of the Bay Area. Outside an abandoned warehouse, The goth & Faster Pussycat step out of the shadows. The young teen is holding Pussycat’s hand, and looks up at her. “Is he going to be mad?”

Faster Pussycat smiles and say, “A little. But I’ve worked with him before, and gotten results. It’s going to be fine.” Pussycat looks away from the girl and takes a deep breath before opening a side door. She walks towards the back of the warehouse, to a seemingly blank wall. She knocks on the wall three times.

A door appears, and slowly opens with a puff of air. Stairways lead downward, along a stony path with torches lighting the way.

At the bottom they come into a room not unlike Aurum’s Sanctum at home. A large stone room, filled to the brim with wall shelves and book shelves, holding various tomes of the occult and various artifacts and knickknacks.

Though in Aurum’s sanctum, there isn’t an unconscious man on a rack, slowly being drained of blood, nor body parts that aren’t quite dead in jars, and tomes that beg you to open them.

Pussycat lets go of the young teen’s hand and walks over to the center, where a big cauldron filled with green liquid, steam running off the side is. Stirring the pot is, with his back to the girls, a man wearing ancient middle eastern attire, with a black turban on his head. Without turning around he says in a low, rumbly voice with a thick accent “Did you retrieve the item?”

Pussycat, in a much quieter voice than she normally speaks in, replies, “There’s been a…complication. I just need another chance and I’ll…”

The man interrupts, “You failed. You failed to retrieve the scroll. A pity.”

Faster Pussycat tenses. She gets ready to run as she says, “Look, if the others hadn’t attracted attention, and Mindfire hadn’t blown up that gas station…”

“Enough!” The man says as he straightens up. He lifts his hands up into the sky. As he does so, the green liquid rises from the cauldron. Before Pussycat can speed away, it splashes on her, envelops her, and retracts into the cauldron, dragging Pussycat along with it.

Pussycat screams, and continues screaming as she pounds at the surface of the cauldron, her voice gurgling as the water splashes above her.

The man turns around and faces the teenage goth girl, who has wandered over to the cauldron, looking at the frantic Pussycat. The man is green skinned, with a green mustache and yellow eyes.

He takes the girl’s hand and says, “We shall have to gather others, my dear Ghostlight, and try again.”

Ghostlight smiles and says, “It will be fun.”

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Chapter 12 The Clique

We start our story a few weeks after the rift at Golden Gate Park. Maximilian Mars has been kept in the Dark Room since he was knocked out, and seems to be recuperating. He’s asked to stay in the room until he can come up with a way to prevent what happened from happening ever again. Argenta has been helping run MarsTech in his absence, and has proven herself to be an adept business woman.

Argenta and Aurum have spent some time together, getting to know one another and about her new found family ancestry. Argenta has also been taking lessons on how to control her magical gifts from her brother, and has gone over to Key Manor a few times for dinner with her “parents.”

Wildheart has been spending more and more time outside HQ and spending it with his boyfriend, Brandon Peters. He’s also had a follow up meeting with Tyrone Black, the head of H.O.P.E. Mr. Black would like Wildheart to be a recruiter for HOPE, and speak with other Paranormals. Wildheart is to inform his fellow Paranormals about what HOPE can offer them, what services are available, as well as those who might be interested in joining the organization. Wildheart is happy to help out in any way he can, and makes a mental note to inform Doctor Brennan about his new assignment.

Wildheart doesn’t notice the black raven sitting in a tree overheard, watching them intently.

Bouncer has been working close with Dr. Brennan. Apparently the other squad leaders of the Paranormal Program are impressed with Bouncer’s team, and his leadership skills. Though the other teams have been performing well, their success rate on missions are not up to the Golden Gate Guardian’s level. The teams don’t have the level of experience the GGGs have, and they assume it’s partly at least because of Bouncer.

Bouncer nods and says nothing.

Because of this, the other squad leaders would like to have a regular meeting for squad leaders only, and with Bouncer specifically, to share strategies and lessons they’ve learned out on the field.

They also discuss how the public at large is starting to view Paranormals. Though public opinion is still mixed, there’s a growing number of supporters for Paranormals, and acceptance. Dr. Brennan says it’s partly because of how well the AEGIS teams have been performing, showing that Paranormals can be good for society at large.

There’s also been research showing that The Delirium, the effect that people are prone to experiencing when encountering Paranormals where their mind just dismiss what they’ve seen, or try to replace what they “see” with some mundane explanation, diminishes in areas where there is a high amount of Paranormal activity. In cities where there is an AEGIS Squad, The Delirium is almost non-existent. But in more rural areas, or areas where there is not a lot of Paranormals, it’s still highly in effect. People may see Paranormals on TV, and know they exist, but they still “ignore” Paranormals and their effect on the world when encountered in real life.

Dr. Brennan also says the team will have vacation time coming up soon, as well.

Firework has been keeping busy, including attempting to go out into space. This has caused more nervousness with the world’s governments (random rainbow fireball entering and exiting orbit) and though he’s been asked to “Quit it” he’s started talking with NASA and volunteering to help with their shuttle program by offering to carry up their shuttles into orbit. Without the need for expensive rocket fuel, and all the dangers that come with it, along being able to dock with the International Space Station safely and securely, has really gotten NASA excited. Once some political hurdles are jumped (or demolished, thanks to Aurum’s and War’s connections) the future of NASA may change significantly.

Aurum has also sponsored a commercial for his new initiative, [[#WeCanAllBeFireworks | #WeCanAllBeFireworks]]

Dr. Brennan calls in the team for a briefing, and comments on how long it takes the team to gather lately (since they have to go down the elevator from their penthouse, within their HQ). She tells them that there have been reports of unusual activity along the western coast, starting in Mexico. A small puebla’s bar was trashed, and by trashed she means demolished. A gas station was robbed, not of money, but of snacks, and then the gas mains exploded in San Diego county. And finally in Bakersfield, a bank was robbed, where a hole was left in the side of the bank’s vault wall.

The bank had surveillance footage, but the perps, at least 4 of them, were “blurry,” and could not be made out clearly.

Though these incidents may not be connected, witness report individuals at each of these sightings causing a ruckus before the disaster struck. Witness’ though can not give any actual descriptions, but did say at least 4 people were involved. No one was killed in any of the incidents as well. There were bruises and a few fractured bones, but no one was even in critical condition.

Dr. Brennan says that if these individuals are the culprits, and they maintain a northerly approach, they’ll be passing by the Bay Area soon. The team should be ready for anything, since details are spotty at best.

Sure enough, a few days later, reports came in that an incident was happening Modesto, at the Local Modesto History Museum. Various individuals have been reported that they have kicked out everyone in the museum, and have started to ransack the place. This wasn’t on AEGIS’ radar until it was noted that the front of the museum was “blasted” open.

The team quickly suited up and with Aurum & Firework’s help, flew down to Modesto, while Wildheart “popped” over to the closest paranormal. The fact that his “pop” worked indicated that there were indeed Paranormals in the area.

Wildheart stood in front of the Modesto History Museum. It looked like a two story home that had been renovated to house the museum, with a porch in front and a chimney on its triangular roof. Sure enough, the majority of the front was destroyed, as if a force smashed into it, knocking it inward.

Wildheart carefully made his way inside, stepping around the debris. He could feel himself getting juiced up, indicating whoever caused the damage was more than likely nearby.

Inside he sees that some display cases were ripped open, the contents taken. Wildheart tries to smell out the Paranormals, and realizes one is behind him!

He whips around and stares at a reptilian female, whose eyes glow bright yellow as she smiles, flashing fangs. It’s Basilisk, the paranormal who had escaped custody months ago from AEGIS HQ.

Wildheart is instantly paralyzed.

The rest of the team catch up and spread out. Jesuit climbs atop a nearby building, and gets into sniping position. Firework scouts from overhead, while Bouncer and War head to the front of the museum.

Aurum casually walks away, heading toward a strip mall across the street. He asks for the best masseur they have, and begins to get a very relaxing massage.

As Firework lands next to Bouncer, Bouncer has to leap away as the floor underneath him collapses! Firework, who is insubstantial, is unaffected. He sees a woman come out of the museum entrance, who appears to be on fire! It’s Mindfire, the psychic pyrotechnic! She blasts Firework, who FEELS the flames surround his sparks!

Bouncer catches his balance and gets ready to attack Mindfire when he hears a cooing voice say, “Long time no see, stranger.” He turns to see a blur of speed run towards him. Faster Pussycat slashes at him as she charges past, drawing first blood. She smiles at him as blood drips down her fingers, “I did so miss playing with you.”

A crowd starts to gather, instead of dispersing, intrigued by the super heroics. Basilisk emerges from the entrance and yells out, “Mindfire! Get rid of the spectators!” Mindfire whips out a blast of flame, scaring off the citizens, but not seemingly hurting them.

Firework beats off the heat and sends his sparks into a frenzy, attacking Mindfire. He clutches her in a grapple and they fly off into the sky. When they were high enough, Firework’s sparks let go of the struggling woman, who as she falls, lights up again on fire and flies off.

Bouncer leaps into the air and tries to hit Pussycat, but he can’t match her speed. He finally tackles her, but she slips through his fingers, which surprises him because when he gets ahold of someone, they stick. It was like an outside force caused him to slip up.

Aurum, meanwhile, has been keeping an eye on the battle while he relaxed. When it was time, he summons forth a water elemental, who stomps towards the battle. It’s able to prevent Basilisk from paralyzing any of his teammates, because her powers don’t work on the water golem!

Wildheart breaks free of his trance and races out to help his friends.

As Basilisk dodges the water elemental, she is joined by Mindfire and Faster Pussycat. They stand off against the team, who are about to charge when a flash of light catches them off guard.

Where they had just teleported in, Jesuit stands with his hands up, captured. Behind him, holding a gun at his head, is the white clad gunslinger, Kid Karma, along with the bad luck goth Epiphany Jones!

“Stay where you are, or the padre gets it.” Kid Karma proclaims, cocking his gun.

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Chapter 11 Family Rift Part 2

Chapter 11 Family Rift Part 2

Aurum flies straight towards Mars and his chauffeur. She gets in front of him in a defensive manner and braces herself.

Aurum lands gently in front of them, instead of slamming into them. He politely asks “Maximilian. What brings you here? And who is your…associate?”

Max stares at the Rift for a moment and then at Aurum. “I came to see one of this events in person. Aurum, this is my executive assistant, Argenta.”

As Aurum questions Mars about Argenta, and his intentions at the Rift, the rest of the team has sprung into action.

Jesuit takes cover and starts shooting at the demons. His blasts disintegrate his targets, but for every demon creature he snuffs out, 5 more come out of the rift.

Firework concentrates and searches the park for civilians. He helps move them all out of the park, and into safety.

War breaks out his explosive arrows and starts blowing up the smaller winged creatures. Unfortunately, this attracts the attention of a 7 foot tall, winged beast. it lands in front of him and roars.

Wildheart leaps into the buffalo paddock, where the bison are panicking. He manages to get them safely into their dens, but by doing so, attracts the attention of several smaller creatures. They swoop down and surround him, clawing and biting.

Aurum finds out that Argenta was working in Mars Tech for a few years, and then Mr. Mars took an interest in her, elevating her to his personal assistant. Aurum does a magical scan and discovers that she is indeed magical, and that his magic and hers have similar “vibes.”

Aurum tries to push the issue, causing much confusion in Argenta, who when pressed, doesn’t seem to have much memory of her life before Mars Tech. As they talk, demons swoop down to attack. Aurum is about to cast a shield, when Argenta does so first. Her construct is translucent like Aurum’s golden constructs, but silvery in nature. Aurum takes note and then leaps into the air.

Aurum blasts Demons out of his way. He tells his team to “cover him” as he prepares a spell.

The team focus on keeping the demons away from Aurum, as he casts a ward around the portal, preventing the demons from escaping too far. Though several dozen have already escaped into the city (bright lights!), Aurum managed to stop the spread, at least momentarily.

Aurum tells his team that he’s going to attempt to close the Rift, but it’ll take time and a lot of concentration. Firework, who discovered that his healing powers burn the demons, and Jesuit offer to help by combining their abilities. Wildheart replicates Jesuit and Firework’s powers and throws in his help as well.

War fights the large demon creature, using his various arrows in his arsenal. He finally blows the demons arms off, which does not stop him, causing the creature to charge. Vaulting over the creature, War shoots one final explosive, taking the creature down. War watches as his Paranormal teammates rally at the Rift, and use their abilities to save the town.

As the team prepare to try and close the Rift, War gets a phone call. It’s Jackson, the AEGIS paratech. He tells War that he’s studied the schematics sent to him by Aurum, and thinks that the Ballistic Anti-Incursion and Nullification Gun would actually permanently OPEN an incursion. If he had time he would be able to figure out how to tweak the device to do what it’s supposed to, close the incursion portals, but as it stands, it wouldn’t be a good thing. In fact, the energies coming from The Rift are different than the “usual” Incursions, and there’s no telling what effect that B.A.N.G. would have if used on it.

War nods and is about to let his teammates know what he just learned, when he hears a BEEP BEEP BEEP of a truck coming from nearby. He spots a large cargo truck with the emblem for MarsTech on the side. It parks and the cargo portion of the truck collapses, revealing the B.A.N.G. An engineer jumps out of the rig and starts to get into the cockpit of the device.

War races towards the machine and is intercepted by MarsTech security. He fights his way through, trying to stop the machine which has begun to power up.

Aurum concentrates and casts his spell, powered by his magic and by his friend’s paranormal energies. A massive blast explodes from the Rift, pushing everyone back. There’s a moment of silence as nothing appears to happen.

Black tendrils tear through the rift, causing the team to fear the worst. But the tendrils race outward, and wrap around the demons, dragging them back as they howl in fury. The black tendrils reach out into the city, capturing even those who had escaped the ward.

As the last demon gets sucked back in, the Rift begins to slowly close. Aurum lands, depleted and tired, but triumphant. Before he can catch his breath, though, a massive roar emanates from the Rift. A large black horn, larger than any man, starts to come out from the rift. It prevents the Rift from closing, causing it to actually open wider, as the creature attached to the horn begins to push through.

Aurum uses a force blast, attempting to push the creature back. The creature continues pushing, until a silvery light shines upon it. Argenta, casting the same spell as Aurum, helps push the creature back. Together, they are able to force the monster back, and as they do so, The Rift finally closes.

Argenta collapses to her knees. Aurum walks over to her and helps her to her feet.

“Where’s Mars?” Aurum asks.

Argenta goes, “I don’t know. He started ranting that he needs to finish the job, that there was no time, and then ran off. Mr. Mars has acted very strangely the last few weeks. He’s normally much more composed.”

War takes down the final security guard, and is about to return to his team, when he hears a maniacal laugh. He turns to see Maximilian Mars in the cockpit of the device, aiming at Aurum & Argenta! War whips out his arrow and uses a sleep gas arrow to knock out Mars, just as he’s about to activate the machine.

Jesuit walks up to Argenta and uses his Angel Eye on her, trying to figure out what her deal is. He sees that she is indeed magical, that her “magic” seems to mimic Aurums, but also, they have a connection besides a magical one. Jesuit has seen this connection before, with siblings, specifically, twins.

Aurum says he doesn’t have any siblings, but Jesuit insists that Argenta is his. Aurum calls his mother, and asks if he ever had any sisters. Aurum’s mom is silent for a bit, and tells Aurum to come by the house that evening. They had a lot to talk about.

The team gathers around and Argenta asks them to help get Mars to a secret holding area, where she hopes they can store him until they figure out what’s going on with him. Firework moves the B.A.N.G. to another location, to hide any evidence, and they go to the MarsTech building downtown.

Argenta takes them through a series of hallways until they come to a containment area. Argenta says that this room not only nullifies Paranormals and their abilities, but also magic. They toss Mars in and say they’ll return to check on him.

Firework connects with Johnny 5 and asks him to search MarsTech files to see if he can find anything of interest. Johnny 5 seems hesitant, and says he doesn’t like the feel of the place, but he’ll do what he can.

Argenta stays behind and before she can close the door, Aurum asks what her last name is. She says “Locke. Argenta Locke.”

That evening, Aurum goes home, taking Argenta with him. He finds his mother and father in the library, sipping Brandy.

After some awkward introductions, Aurum asks his parents the question again. He says they can talk in front of Argenta. His parents, both wide eyed and staring at Argenta, begin.

Aurum’s mother, Gloriana, tells him that Aurum did indeed have a sister, a twin sister, who died at birth. They never felt the need to tell Aurum about her because what was the point.

Aurum asks his parents if they knew about the merging of realities. They say they’ve long suspected, but never had any proof. Aurum tells them that yes, their reality merged with this one, and that only a handful of people knows about it. For the majority of the population, this is how it’s always been.

Aurum deduces that Argenta would’ve been the sibling that survived here, instead of Aurum, and would’ve been the original reality’s Locksmith, except this world didn’t have any magic. Not until Aurum’s reality merged, which was roughly around the time that her own abilities manifested.

Gloriana, who is the pinnacle of high society and always well composed, tears up at the sight of her “daughter”. She hugs her, awkwardly, but with a lot of affection. She asks Argenta if she could perhaps visit some more, another time. Argenta says yes, of course, if Aurum is willing to give her a ride. Aurum says that after a while, Argenta will have her own means of transportation.

Aurum heads back to the Bay Area. He tells Argenta that he wants to have dinner with her, but that she has to deduce where they are to meet. A test, to see whether they are indeed connected.

Later that evening, He waits at a private booth in Sausalito, sipping wine. Within a few minutes, Argenta walks in. She takes a seat across from Aurum, and waits. Aurum orders another bottle of wine.

“I believe we have some talking to do.”

EPILOGUE

The rest of the team arrives at their Headquarters. Tired, weary and hungry, they walk down the path to the front door. Johnny 5 opens the door and welcomes them home. As War, Jesuit, Firework & Wildheart walk in, door closing behind them, they don’t notice that down the street, individual street lights start to turn off, one by one.

As the last streetlight on the street turns off, a figure emerges from the shadows. A tall, winged demon, hunched over with it’s claws stretched out appears, and stands across the street from HQ.

Its skin ripples and shimmers, and the demon disappears, replaced by a beautiful woman, dressed in ancient roman clothing, with giant black feather wings spread behind her.

Eris, the Goddess of Discord and Strife, smiles as she sets foot in this realm for the first time in centuries. She takes a bite of the golden apple in her hand and watches the house.

“This is going to be fun.”

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Chapter 11 Family Rift

The night ends with Aurum working on the locating spell with Jesuit. Using Jesuit’s blood and an arcane onyx bowl filled with secret herbs & spices, and liquid, Aurum is able to make contact with Jesuit’s daughter. Aurum tells Jesuit to place his face in the bowl, to visually see her.

Jesuit’s face goes into the bowl, his senses instantly transported above The Earth. He gets the sensation of falling towards the surface, even though he knows he’s still in Aurum’s laboratory.

Zooming in towards Italy, and then in the southern part, on the boot’s tip, he “falls” above a small village. He continues to fall towards a two story house, going through the roof. He stops inside of a bedroom on the upper floor.

Not being able to control where he looks, he is shown the room in a panoramic view. The room is simply decorated, with handmade furniture, a bed with pink lace surrounding it, a wooden toy chest filled to the brim with dolls of all kinds, and a bookshelf filled with children’s books. There is a small wooden desk where a young girl around 5 years old is at, writing in a notebook.

The little girl stops writing and looks up from her book. Jesuit can make out that she’s writing a story, about a princess who fights dragons. The little girl looks around the room, a confused look on her face. She seems to focus on Jesuit, or where Jesuit would be given his perspective. She smiles and goes back to writing.

The door opens and an older Italian lady, in an apron with her hair up in a bun, comes inside. She says in Italian, “Darling you’re going to be late for school. You can finish your story later.”

The little girl finishes her sentence and closes her notebook, grabbing her school bag off the floor. “When I come back, can I read it to you?” she says, looking at the lady, but then shifts her eyes back to where Jesuit is.

“Of course, bella. You know I love hearing your stories. Now come along.” The woman goes back into the hallway.

The child puts on her bag and closes her door. As she does so, she says, “Bye Angel. I’ll see you later.”

As the door closes, Jesuit is forced back into the sky, as if a rubber band had just snapped. Within moments he’s above the countryside, and then the country, and finally back into the sky. As he enters the darkness of space, Jesuit pulls his head out of the water, dry as a bone.

He takes a moment to ponder what he had just witnessed. He looks at Aurum, quietly sitting in the corner, and goes, “Thank you, my friend. You have given me something…very special.” Aurum nods, and with that, Jesuit goes back to his floor.

Later that week, Aurum goes back home to check in on his family, as well as manage his company. He is in in his study reading an old text when the room gets very cold, very quickly. As a flash of cold breath escapes his lips, he says, “Hello Uncle Gerald.”

The ghostly apparition of Gerald Key, this realities former Locksmith, stands before Aurum. insert appearance here

“Hello nephew. Long time no chat.”

Aurum goes, “Yes, usually the only time we get together is when the world is in danger. I take it this isn’t a social call.”

Gerald walks to the books, looking at his old collection. He did so love his library. “No, unfortunately. Coming back to this realm is not easy, so unfortunately I can’t make it for tea time.”

Gerald turns around and looks at Aurum. “The walls are beginning to thin, Aurum. Dangerously so.”

Aurum closes his book. “I know, dear Uncle. The Incursions have been occurring more and more frequently and…”

“Not just those walls.” Gerald interrupts. “All around I see chaos and discord. Not just here, but elsewhere. There is something…coming. Some…force that I do not understand. And that is troublesome, since I understand much.”

Aurum says, “I don’t suppose you can be a bit less vague?”

Gerald smiles, “You know that’s not how this works.”
Gerald walks to Aurum, placing an icy cold hand on his shoulder. “Be wary, nephew. Troubling times are ahead. And I won’t be here to protect you, much as I would do anything to do so.”

Aurum smiles. “Thank you, Uncle. You have taught me well. I hope to live up to your legacy.”

Gerald pulls his arm back, slowly fading from view. “You already have.”

Fast Forward a month or so.

After a number of battles and missions, the team has gotten used to being in their luxury building complex, courtesy of Aurum. AEGIS still does not know about the arrangement. By this time, Johnny 5 has fully integrated with the building, happily helping in his own unique way.

War spends the majority of his time in The Arrow Cave, which he has dubbed his floor, though not aloud. Exercising, meditating, and face timing with his friend Melody Smoke, he hasn’t allowed for much team bonding outside of missions. This has annoyed Melody non-stop.

“You’re on their team! You’re one of them! I mean, not a WTF or whatever, but still, you’re one of them. You rely on each other, to watch each others backs. Kinda hard to do that if you don’t, you know, get to know them. I mean, you LIVE with them. How have you not even gotten an invite to dinner yet?”

War shrugs. “I don’t know. You know I’m not good with…the talking.”

Melody laughs, “Oh I know. Guess it’s good we found each other since I can do all the talking for us! Usually. But not in this case, since I haven’t even been invited over…hint hint.”

War shrugs, “I don’t know what the policy is on guests. I haven’t actually seen anyone bring anyone over. Usually they go out. Or something.”

“You could ask.”

“I could…”

“Seriously, War. You need to make more of an effort to get to know these people. You’ve been with them for over a month. You live with them, or at least, are neighbors. And getting to know them, and letting them get to know you, would be an asset to the team. Plus the sooner you get chummy with them, the sooner I can come over!”

War smiles. “That would be nice. Okay. I’ll…try.”

“Great. Now it’s time for your salmon jumps. Feel free to move the computer so I can…make sure your form is…correct and junk.”

War smirks and does as she suggests.

The next evening, in the communal kitchen, Jesuit, Bouncer, & Wildheart are cooking dinner. War comes down from his apartment and asks if he can join them. Bouncer & Wildheart look surprised, but Jesuit readily agrees.

After a rather awkward dinner, Jesuit suggests they go out for a few drinks, to bask in the glow of not risking their lives for once. Bouncer suggests “Jack’s” and off they go.

After a few drinks, and making some chit chat, Jesuit can tell War is uncomfortable. He also notices Wildheart is eyeing War questionably, unsure of what to make of him. Bouncer has gone off to talk to his friends over at the bar.

Jesuit asks War a few questions, about himself, about how he got into AEGIS, and the like. He says, “You’ve been with us for a while now, and I feel we don’t really know you.”

War goes, “Yeah, sorry about that. I’m not a very…social person.”

“We’ve noticed.” Wildheart says, in between sips of his beer.

Jesuit ignores it and goes, “Well you’re on the team. You’re one of us. So let’s fix that, shall we?”

War takes a deep breath, and gives his back story.

“So when the The Breaking happened..I was different person. I didn’t know what caused The Breaking, nor did I care.I just knew that there was money to be made in it. So I became a mercenary. Back then, the governments of the world were panicking, unable to comprehend how this would change the world. So they hired folks like me, humans who they assumed could be trusted, and had us…hunt down Paranormals. I did it, I was good at it, and I got even better at it as time went on.

The agency before AEGIS even gave me this bow. Where they got it, never asked.

When there were reports of a Break Out, or when a sighting occurred in whatever country I was in, I would be called in. I would gather a team, and we would nab the paranormal, bringing them in. Remember, back then, Paranormals were being rounded up. I just helped move matters along.

After several of these missions, there was this paranormal who could cause explosions with his mind. Reports said he would just look at you, and your head would pop. So my team and I went in. We surrounded the home of the paranormal, ready to extract him, when a wailing woman came running out of the house. We had been spotted, and she ran out, begging us to leave them alone. We were about to tranq her when our target came out, hands raised.

He was kid, no more than 13.

He had his eyes closed, and he was crying. He said he was sorry, that he didn’t mean to blow up that dog (Turns out the only thing that was blown up with a neighbor’s dog, and some minor property damage). He said that he couldn’t control it, and that he didn’t want to hurt anyone.

We tranquilized him before he could continue.

Afterwards, I talked to my superiors. By then, I was tired. Tired of taking down these so called dangerous targets. The majority of them were everyday people, who hadn’t been given enough time, or training, to control their abilities. I never asked what happened to the targets, but that boy was enough to get me to begin to question everything.

Eventually I learned that I could help these people in the new organization AEGIS rather than just hunting them down. So I signed up and have been trying to make amends for what I did.

Jesuit and Wildheart remain silent, listening to their teammate’s confession. Jesuit speaks up first, “Sounds like you did some bad things, but are trying to repent. I approve of that. Back then, no one knew what was going on, and fear gripped the world. We appreciate your honesty, War.”

Widheart spoke up next. “You hunted us down, like animals. And then put us down like dogs. What gave you the right…?!”

Jesuit stopped him. “Wildheart, please, he confessed to us what he did and…”

Wildheart slammed his drink down. “And what? We’re supposed to forgive him? Trust him? He’s not one of us. And never will be.” With that, Wildheart leaves.

War looks at Jesuit. “Well, that could’ve gone better.”

The next day, Aurum gets an invitation to an event being thrown by his rival Maximilian Mars, the CEO of MarsTech, saying they’re going to reveal a machine that will “save the world.” Dr. Brennan calls Aurum and informs him that her sources indicate that this new machine has something to do with The Incursions that have been occurring throughout the world, though they don’t know what about. She suggests that Aurum goes to investigate, since he’s been invited. Aurum accepts the invite,, bringing along the rest of the team.

At the gala, for that’s what it turns out to be, the team shows up in style. They enter the W Hotel whose lobby has been taken over by VIPs, tech moguls, celebrities and the press. They mingle as best they can, while trying to figure out what the new technology is. They come to a separate room where a small stage has been built, with a large object under a blanket stands.

Jesuit attempts to get a sense of the place, but senses nothing amiss. Everyone is there to have a good time and to be wowed. Firework scans the crowd, but sees no other Paranormals. Aurum reaches out with his magical senses and detects…something…nothing necessarily amiss, but there is an oddness to the atmosphere.

At last, the presentation begins. Maximilian Mars comes out to the roar of the audience. He begins his presentation by showing video of the various incursions that have occurred throughout the world, most notably the dangerous ones that have happened in the Bay Area. Just like AEGIS intelligence has found, incursions in other parts of the world tend to be more chaotic than destructive, the creatures, people or what have you coming out of the portal being more confused and scared than hostile. Only those in the Bay Area have come out with harmful intention (and covered in shadow).

Mars says that their society has been threatened long enough, that unless they fight back, who knows what will come out next. He says the Kaiju is a perfect example of a weapon of unusual destruction, and says what if something like that comes out in the middle of the city rather than in the bay.

As he continues talking, Mars’ voice becomes louder and more frantic. Jesuit senses the fear that is being spread throughout the crowd. Where before they were there to have a good time, nervousness, panic, and even anger is starting to clutch the people’s hearts. Nothing supernatural about it, just good old fashion propaganda.

As Mars’ reaches the climax of his presentation, and about to reveal his creation, Aurum mentally taps into Mars’ mind, creating a mind-link where they can communicate instantaneously.

Though Aurum is rivals with Mars, he also respects him as a business man. For all of Mars’ ego, he’s always wanted to make the world better (while making a profit). This fear mongering isn’t his style. He’s always been about hope, not fear.

In Mars’ mindscape, Aurum calls out Mars’ actions, saying that that’s no way to run a business. Mars disagrees, telling Aurum that he’s just giving the people what they want, even if they don’t know it.

Aurum accuses him of trying to create a panic, while Mars says the panic is already there, he’s just trying to control it. Mars says his machine will make Aurum and his team obsolete, and that when the people think hero, they will think MarsTech.

Aurum says he’s smarter than this (supposedly), and that the Mars he know wouldn’t stoop to this circus performance. Mars frowns and says, “Maybe that Mars is obsolete as well.”

With a push of willpower, Mars breaks the mind-link. As Aurum is pushed, he hears faint laughter in the background.

All this occurred within a few seconds. Mars shakes his head and continues with his presentation. He unveils the machine underneath the tarp.

“Welcome to the future!”

The machine looks like a large cannon, comically so. It has a various tubes and pipes along the side, with electric conductors at the tips of what appear to be handles. There is a seat for a person in front of a large view screen with various diodes and buttons.

There is a bit of laughter from the audience, but a look from Mars quickly quiets them.

“MarsTech is proud to introduce The Ballistic-Anti-incursion and Nullification Gun! Using highly advanced techniques, as well as data gathered from all over the world, this will close any Incursion, guaranteed. We will begin mass production soon, and of course, we’re willing to work with government agencies that want to protect their people. For the right price, of course.”

Immediately questions start to come from the press, as Mars bows. Firework scans the contraption and it is positively glowing with Nevernever energy. It’s an ACME device, and a powerful one at that. Firework sends a spark to whisper in a reporter’s ear to ask how MarsTech plans to mass produce an ACME device since that’s never worked in the past, needing to be created by a Paranormal.

Mars frowns at the question, as everyone goes silent. He responds that though the main prototype was created by a Paranormal technician, he is able to guarantee mass production soon. With that, he says no more questions and ducks behind the stage.

Aurum creates a facsimile of the machine and uses a spell to connect the schematics in an e-mail and sends it to Jackson, AEGIS’ main Paranormal techie.

The presentation is over, and with that, the party begins. The team gathers together and talk. Firework points out that if this thing works, and closes a portal before all invaders are sent back, it could tear apart reality. Aurum says that this isn’t like Mars, and that he’s a bastard, he’s not evil. This whole presentation doesn’t feel right.

As they’re getting ready to leave, Bouncer gets a call from AEGIS headquarters. They say they’ve gotten reports of an Incursion in Golden Gate Park, but that their instruments are not detecting any energy that is normally associated with an Incursion.

The team jumps into action. Firework gathers everyone up and flies them to Golden Gate Park.

There, just over the buffalo pen, is a red tear in reality. Unlike the blue portals of Incursions, this one looks like a pulsating wound, and out of is spewing what appear to be demon like creatures, bat wings, razor sharp fangs and claws, and screeching into the sky.

“A Rift.” Aurum says. He knows what this is. He knows that a Rift hasn’t occurred in generations. And he knows that it is up to The Locksmith of this reality to close it.

As he is about to explain what it they’re up against, he sees a limo pull up near them. Where most people are running away, the driver jumps out and walks around to open the door. Out steps Mars, studying the Rift. The driver looks up as well.

Aurum’s scowls with anger.

He sees a woman of above average height, athletic body visible in a black top, skirt and chauffeur hat. Two locks of chestnut brown hair obscure either side of her beautiful yet pale face, the remainder of her long hair hangs neatly plaited down her back. With blue-green eyes, she exudes an obvious confidence. Firework and Jesuit are able to see a glimmer of orange within her eyes revealing a sense of hidden knowledge.
Everyone is able to see the similarities between the woman and Aurum. As if she were his twin.

Aurum roars in anger, breaks free of Firework’s hold, and charges at the female impostor.

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