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.”
“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.