- The Commander (Doug) – telekinetic super-soldier with a really angry dog (Yukio). The dog is a powerful ally (250-300 points) and very intelligent and very, very aggressive.
- The Rat Queen (Emily) – brick with super-perception; made of actual rats
- Zephyr (Merlin) – Real name Murui; Shaolin Kung Fu expert and super-speedster.
- Eamon Finnegan (Kyle) – smooth talking gravity-master; Ultimate Fighting Lawyer, to borrow a phrase.
- Ezekiel (Christian) – Techno Master, Genius, Esper, Super Archer.
She is weeping over a post card. One of the ones that is from the 1900s, from The Postman. Hundreds of them delivered over the years. I hand over the urn, at her request, and she hands me a second postcard.
It’s for me. It has a bunch of letters, numbers, and code. She’ll be in touch about the funeral, etc.
She has never wanted much to do with the super team, and always thought that we’d get him killed. Turns out she was sorta right (technically he got himself killed by grabbing the skull).
We reconvene at our quarters in the Bronx, and sit staring at the empty seat. The General is with us. He’s staring at the skull on the table, deep in thought. We break out the good scotch (The Commander, as befitting soldiers everywhere, looks guilty that the bottle isn’t quite as full as it probably should be.)
We need to find out more about crystal skulls. The General says that it explains a lot about the last 10 years. Blue Skies was always ahead of us . . . he clams up.
In 1918 the Thule Society formed right after the war; things were getting pretty bleak. We’d beat the Krauts back all the way back to . . . well, we beat their ass. We found one of these in Egypt, and things started getting weird.
Fast forward 20 years, and Hitler has nine of them. Eventually, the quest for the skulls kicks of World War 2. Hitler collects 12 of the 13, and turns into Russia to find the last one. That didn’t end well, and the skulls were scattered.
But this skull. This particular skull . . . we found this . . . he pauses. You gotta understand this is so secret . . . I wouldn’t even have to order you killed. Someone will do it for me. They started a project back in the 60s to punch a hole into other dimensions to create a key to unlimited energy.
They succeeded in ’81, and punched a hole to a hellish place, and the only thing they found was a little boy, and a little girl, and the girl had one of the skulls. Legend himself went in, and brought the kids and the skull back.
The guy sleeping on the couch behind us (from the lab) was one of the twins. The other is “not available” right now.
If Blue Skies is trying to gather these up again, that’s a real problem.
Hitler actually had one of the skulls with him, which is perhaps, he muses idly, why Project Valkyrie didn’t succeed.
The Commander reaches out tentatively to the skull – it slides across the table to him. Yikes.
There’s a guy in an impeccable suit mowing through pizza. He is looking at each of us, and sizing us up. Eamon introduces himself, and the guy shakes his hand, looks down at the pizza and says “man I miss this stuff,” and says “Ah. Good. You do gravity.”
“Um, how do you know that?”
“You have a certain gravitas.”
Really? You went there? He went there.
Oh. What does Ezekiel do? Oh, he makes stuff. Like if you wanted a walkman that never used batteries, he could do that. He could make it run off of some other power source. But not people, because then it would potentially drain someone dry. Thus would make it Vlad Tapes.
The Commander communes with the skull a bit; he eventually asks the skull if Zephyr can use the skull to find other skulls, and I get a memory shoved into my head of a teutonic looking guy in magical trappings trying to work rune magic on the skull. He bursts into flames.
But on the other hand the Engineer was capable of reconstructing a containment device. Krylov Aleksandrova. He’s more than happy to be helpful. They were rebuilding it from a piece of junk found in Siberia; clearly made by germans – “they always overengineer crap.”
He starts muttering about wanting pizza in Russian; Zephyr understands. He also wants vokda. Because in Russia, they have three emotion. Depressed. Anger. Vodka.
Zephyr blazes to the store, and brings back vodka in a plastic bottle. Soon enough, The Engineer is munching on pizza and drinking vodka. We feed the other prisoner as well. Prisoners are a serious commitment. Like hamsters.
The other guy is Dr. Alvarez.
Eamon keeps grillin’ The Engineer. When did they start working on the container? Four years ago. Did they have the skull then? Yes, he thinks so. They kidnapped him in Kiev and dragged him to South America.
He’d started working on reverse engineering equipment to reconstruct a spheroid from the 30s or 40s, only pieces of it he had. The pieces had been transported to another place. What did the machine do? It was an interface to the skull, like a computer interface. Probably because they’re worthy.
They were about to fire up the test chamber when we broke in and blew up their project. So we ruined a four-year Blue Skies project. High fives all around.
Blue Skies was also kidnapping other people and tortured them. That seems worth following up.
We also find out a bit more about Ezekiel. Techno master, genius, ESPer, super archer. We start to grill him again to see if we can reconstruct the TacNet we used to do.
We also talk more about the orichalcum generator. Van Dorian and his crew had part of the original design that had steam engines and stuff in it – this tech probably existed since the mid 1800s.
We start to chat with the doctor we took from the base, Dr. Alvarez. They were trying to build a neural interface for the skull, and also the artificial brain for the combat robot. They also had him working on MORNING TIDE.
They were artificially trying to create people with powers. As far as we understand, there’s the scion gene – about 10% of the population has it, and it’s either active, passive, or a carrier gene. Active genes have powers, carriers might develop powers, passive usually do not. Most programs have been trying to copy and paste other DNA on to their subjects. it tends to not work real well, but creates chimeras. They don’t last long.
MORNING TIDE was trying to use macrophages to reprogram the DNA itself. The serum they created that actually worked was an odd color: Purple. Mostly people go mad, or gain temporary powers.
MORNING TIDE is also over. They got the serum, but they need a huge dose of kyberian energy, and create a lot of orichalcum to make the kyberian refractor.
So: skull will be kyberian power source.
The orichalcum we got was for the refractor.
Combining the source, the refractor, and the right method creates supers
And he started in a cold, underground base with lots of ice. And a lot of files from Aegis. He offers to write it all down for us. We accept.
Alveras is released from the cell, and goes into the kitchen to make some empanadas. Eamon confers with Ezekiel, the new PC and arrival. The loss of Arc Light is hard for a lot of reasons – he brought ridiculous data-mining and financial resources to the team, and replacing him will be a bit of a challenge, and require a shift in how we approach problems.
Above board, Arc Light was Christopher trying out some things with the rules for battlesuits that I don’t think he was entirely happy with. So poof – no more Arc Light. The loss of a super in a permanent way is unusual for the genre, but that’s what makes it special.
The capability switch in the team, as mentioned, will require a lot of changes in approach. We’ve been entering most situations with dramatic asymmetry in informational warfare. We joke in-game about “hacking the planet,” but it is, in a sense, exactly true. We can – or rather, we could – almost always find a way into the data systems of whatever target we’re dealing with, get access or information that allows us to make plans, and then use that to tip the scales drastically in our favor.
This is no longer fully operative. The loss of Adama, the AI that runs the Lighthouse, is a real blow. The Tactical Communications network that allowed us basically the level of situational awareness that you see by looking at a game map is gone.
So we’ll have to adjust. We’ll also have to keep up the pressure on Blue Skies. We managed to take some major, major players off the board in the last few sessions. The orichalcum stash that was to be the refractor? Gone. The skull itself? Bonded to The Commander. The Engineer? He’s working for us now. The neural interface doctor? Likely to be working for Aegis or its replacement shortly. And we found one half of “the twins,” who were trapped/kept/living in an alternate dimension with the skull.
So they’re going to be pissed off, and want to take the fight back to . . . someone. The first expedition to retrieve the orichalcum went off so spectacularly well that Blue Skies will never know who did it to them, though they may guess.
The recent raid in Brazil was much lower in terms of stealth. We tried to get all of the communications and data from the site, but it’s possible we missed something, and it won’t necessarily take that much to figure that a gravity-wielding super imploded the entire base and pulled a mountain down on it. That does point things our way.
So we need to keep them reacting to us, not the other way around. A few international missions against their conventional operations might be just the ticket.