Masks: A New Generation of Heroes

Game Master Cwethan

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Character Bible


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Danger -2 | Freak +3 | Savior +1 | Superior +3 | Mundane 0
Influence:
Influence on: Alexandra, Alexis, Bronwyn | Influenced by: Alexandra, Bronwyn
Conditions: Angry, Insecure | Potential: 1/5 | Team: 2

Kaoru shrugged slightly. "Unfortunately for Christians, the Bible says nothing about only forgiving non-jerks. It's more of a 'forgive anybody who's sincere' kinda thing as far as I can tell."

He raised an eyebrow and chuckled softly. "I ask you to meet me in the park in one of the less populated areas and you ask me if I miss the quiet?" He looked up at the tree leaves above them. "Though...I guess it's not the quiet I miss so much as...I guess the anonymity? It's not that I hate being around people. Believe it or not, there are actually some people I like being with." He lightly shoulder bumped his companion. "I just don't like them constantly butting into my business and demanding things of me. It was something I was hoping to get away from when I started a new life in Halcyon, but all I managed to do was shift it. Instead of teachers constantly breathing down my neck, I've got all this other b%!#@~#+. The stakes are higher, the grading rubric is more nebulous, and worst of all, it's a team project with an assigned team, so if they fk up, I fail as well. If this were school, I could make up for any deficiencies by just working harder and doing the entire project solo, but that's not going to fly here." His pulse was starting to pick up as anger started to tint his voice. "I mean, some hulk attacks and what the fk are they expecting me to do? Ruin his credit score? They make me leader because I had the 'best performance' at our last mission? Ha! You wanna know why that was? Because I sat out most of it because there was literally nothing else for me to do. But sure, let's make the kid with zero experience leader. Why the fk not? And let's put him on a team where nearly half of the other people only want to or only know how to beat the crap out of the bad guys. Sure, sounds like a great idea."

He took a deep breath, pushing his frustration down with practiced ease. God, two weeks away from everything sounded a little too appealing right now. He blew out a forceful breath of air, voice and expression once more neutral. "I liked it better when it was just the two of us." The muscles in his back started to relax as he felt her tracing patterns into the fabric of his shirt. Almost automatically, he leaned into the not-quite embrace.

Eyes half-closed, he listened to her talk. Without thinking, he asked "Was it hard for you when your parents split up? I know a girl at my old school who seemed to think it was great when her parents got divorced. She used to brag about how she would play them off of each other to get pretty much whatever she wanted. Apparently including getting her mom to break up with her new boyfriends that she thought were too uptight. I'm sorry you're not as close to your mom as you'd like. At some point, she's going to have to realize that she can't control you. Though if she and her dad argue and you and her argue, does that mean you get along with your grandfather?"

He was quiet a moment before softly wondering out loud. "I wonder what Mother would do if I openly defied her." He gave a short laugh. "Though I'm pretty sure the only thing she really cares about are my grades, and given my current course load, I'd have to actively try to drop those enough for her to notice."

*****

Kaoru rolled his eyes as what's-his-face started to rant. It was pretty typical, fanatic stuff. Or at least, typical of what he had heard on tv. He started to google some of the terms he was spouting but paused before hitting enter. Bronwyn already seemed to know what was going on. Any additional research he did would just be redundant and pointless. He sighed and checked his email instead. It was an advantage to working remotely. Of course, the disadvantage was apparently that people ignored your suggestions. Not that it really mattered. He didn't have anything meaningful to contribute anyway.

He winced at the weird, swirling tone of their prisoner. The other advantage of working remotely was that he hadn't bothered to make it a video call and therefore was blissfully spared from watching Wingblade's "interrogation" technique. I don't think that sort of thing works on masochists. I'm also fairly certain it's been proven an unreliable means of gathering intel. the synthetic device read out.


Influence:
I have influence on: Bran the Blessed, Mercy, Kilt
Conditions: none
Labels:
Danger +2, Freak +2, Savior 0, Superior +1, Mundane +1. Potential 4/5

Wingblade was glad it wasn't a video feed so Kaoru couldn't see her venomous expression. She started dictating an answer and having Abacus send it via text. "I'm not torturing the guy. Geez. He's tied up in my comfiest chair. Just letting the guy rant. Hang on--"

Her focus shifts when Dane starts bleeding from his eye. "Crap. 算盤,激活醫療套件。" she announces, then moves him rapidly downstairs as the medical suite activates and rises from the floor.

Assess: 2d6 + 1 ⇒ (2, 2) + 1 = 5
"Best I can do is apply pressure; slow the bleeding until we can get him to a hospital."


Labels: Danger: -1 Freak: 1/3 Savior: 1 Superior: 1 Mundane: 3/1| Conditions: Guilty, Afraid
Influence:
Influenced by: Thor Girl, Bioshock, Wingblade, The Silver Shadow. Influences: Thor Girl, Bioshock, Apex, Hex, Wingblade, The Kilt, The Silver Shadow, Shadowboxer, Jusker

There was something odd about Dane's blood, but Bran didn't see anything new happening with his eye. The same simmering energy was there, but he couldn't see that it even had anything to do with the sudden hemorrhage.

Unless... Shayera's Mask stole most of my strength and speed - what if my sight is shot too?!

Bran clatters to his feet, the weight of his armor dragging at him as he brings Gae-Dearg to bear-

Defend: 2d6 + 1 + 1 ⇒ (1, 2) + 1 + 1 = 5

-but too late.

A pulse of scarlet energy tears its way free from Dane's skull, slamming into Wingblade and Bran with a wave of corruption and dissolution. Both Take a Powerful Blow

The lights begin to flicker and die as circuits and contact points corrode. The lines to Machina and Acolyte both cut off with a horribly painful squeal as Dane's scream reaches its peak. Mark a condition, your choice

Speakers around the house begin to wail with Abacus babbling in pidgin-Mandarin about an emergency shutdown, the lowered shades and blood-red emergency lighting casting the decayed ruin of Dane's body into stark relief. Black masses slough off his frame like flesh charred too long on a spit, and in an instant, the fragmented memories of Alexis's past deaths slam together in his thoughts, a burning eye poring over them with fevered intent as it watches your flesh re-knit, and your soul return again and again. How could Balor get you to serve as his host?

For a moment it seems like Alexandra might have been far enough away to escape Balor's Eye, but a flood of chills warns that she was not quite so lucky... You're fine for now, but bear some mark of Balor's corruption - what is it?

***

TaPB: 2d6 + 1 ⇒ (2, 6) + 1 = 9

Gae-Dearg burned in his hand, runes ignited along its haft where it had absorbed the worst of the Deadly Eye. Everything hurt, but what he could see through the shadows hurt worse.

I let this happen! I... I failed them. Marking Guilty and Afraid


Influence:
I have influence on: Bran the Blessed, Mercy, Kilt
Conditions: none
Labels:
Danger +2, Freak +2, Savior 0, Superior +1, Mundane +1. Potential 4/5

TaPB: 2d6 ⇒ (2, 3) = 5

Wingblade's reaction is instantaneous. She recognizes the diseased stench from the eye a split second before the blast and brings her wing up just in time. The advanced alloy of her wings absorbs the worst of the blast without even tarnishing, and the few bits of skin that caught a glancing blow begin to immediately heal.


Labels:
Danger +1 Freak +3 Savior +0 Superior +0 Mundane -1
Influence:
Wingblade, Bronwyn, Shaun (Rival), Alexandra (Love), Cassie, Kaoru
Conditions: Angry, Afraid, Guilty, Insecure | Potential 0/5 (4A)

She burned until the heat turned to numbness.

He hit the pavement hard enough to shatter the spine like an accordion.

She tried to scream breathlessly as the boy came at her with the hammer.

She drowned under the water, weighted down by the tactical gear.

He was too close when the missile hit, and the rubble crushed him to paste.

Dozens of deaths repeated ad nauseum in his mind, Alexis feeling sick and nauseous at all of them. He fell to his knees and heaved, bile burning the back of his throat. Why was this happening? What was wrong with him?

Was he him?

Balor could get Alexis to be their host by helping them 'regenerate' without needing to die.


Labels: Danger: 0 Freak: 1 Savior: -2 Superior: 2 Mundane: 3 | Condition(s):None|Potential 0/5
Influence:
no-one

Alexandra holds Kay's hands as he vents about what's happening. It's... it's hard. teams are always hard, especially for people like you and me. and especially if you don't feel like you belong. She says But yeah. I miss it being just us too...Maybe if we could get Whip and Foresight, we could do something like that She pauses as she makes a mental note Let me get back to you on that.

She Blushes a little as Kay Umm...So... gods, did this really never come up... My parent's... aren't divorced. or even separated. she says, surprisingly coy for the girl who had kissed Kay in ambush more than a handful of times. My mom and dad, early in their relationship, kinda accepted that neither of them was particularly good at monogamy... and decided on something that I think kinda falls under the umbrella of polyamory. She nods a little Kinda explains some stuff, doesn't it. she quips

Haven't ever met my Grandad. so I wouldn't know.

Nothing else you can think of? she asks, smirking But, I don't know if that sounds hard, or lovely.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~

As the Balarina starts to hit critical mass, Alexandra goes to cover... the nearest cover, which is the kitchen. she dives across the counter and ducks behind the island, covering her head to stop the remains of lunch being turned into shrapnel .

The blast comes. it tears rivulets into the wood and puts cracks in the granite, and spoils the food all around her. it also does a number on her right shoulder, wearing away the clothing and leaving apparent chemical burns before it ends.

Abby! Get the infirmary running! she shouts, hoping her voice carries to sensors beyond the devastation, and looks back around, who's up, who's down, what's going on. Report status!

Assess: 2d6 + 2 ⇒ (3, 3) + 2 = 8
What here is in the greatest danger


Labels: Danger: -1 Freak: 1/3 Savior: 1 Superior: 1 Mundane: 3/1| Conditions: Guilty, Afraid
Influence:
Influenced by: Thor Girl, Bioshock, Wingblade, The Silver Shadow. Influences: Thor Girl, Bioshock, Apex, Hex, Wingblade, The Kilt, The Silver Shadow, Shadowboxer, Jusker

"Emergency shutdown paused." Abacus's distorted voice quickly replies, "Dear Abby: I have shared 四十年的友誼 with a hot tempered woman. 儘管她有很多憤怒 but we managed to maintain the relationship. She now lives and fights with a man in his small apartment. 他經常在他的小公寓裡吵架。他們在財務上掙扎,她最近承認 when they quarreled, she 抓住他的 toothbrush 然後浸入 toilet 解決她的挫敗感. Obviously, he didn't know, but I'm not sure if I should tell him before he ends up in the infirmary..."

Another set of speakers begins a status report in a warbling buzzing tone:
"Li, Xiu Ying
Student ID #: 105454
Arabic: A
Human Geography: B-
Calculus A: B+
English, Honors: A-
Biology: A
Physical Education: C-"

The initial explosion of vile energy has ceased, but communications are fried, and patches of the corruption still seem to be spreading. Bran's in the biggest danger for now. The spear's protecting him so far, but it's directional, and the corruption's creeping around out from Dane's body, and anyone without a healing factor shouldn't be that close to it.


Influence:
I have influence on: Bran the Blessed, Mercy, Kilt
Conditions: none
Labels:
Danger +2, Freak +2, Savior 0, Superior +1, Mundane +1. Potential 4/5

Wingblade scowls as her report card is announced across her apartment. "The corruption's spreading," she observes. Even Abacus is being affected. Better shut him down. "算盤,閉嘴!" she orders.

Deciding that Dane -- or what's left of him -- needed to be removed from her apartment ASAP, she grabs the chair and starts sliding him towards one of the broad windows. It'll be heavy, but hopefully I can glide this out to the waterfront. Water washes away corruption, right?

Unleash: 2d6 + 2 ⇒ (2, 1) + 2 = 5
Uh, oh.


Labels: Danger: -1 Freak: 1/3 Savior: 1 Superior: 1 Mundane: 3/1| Conditions: Guilty, Afraid
Influence:
Influenced by: Thor Girl, Bioshock, Wingblade, The Silver Shadow. Influences: Thor Girl, Bioshock, Apex, Hex, Wingblade, The Kilt, The Silver Shadow, Shadowboxer, Jusker

"Corruption detected. Shutting it down.

Abacus is initiating a lockdown! What does that look like, and why will it take a while to get free?


Influence:
I have influence on: Bran the Blessed, Mercy, Kilt
Conditions: none
Labels:
Danger +2, Freak +2, Savior 0, Superior +1, Mundane +1. Potential 4/5

We've seen it once before

Heavy metal doors slam shut over the balcony and across the windows. The normal lights go out to be replaced by red emergency lighting. The supercomputer drops into the floor and is covered by layers of protection, while weapon emplacements pop up from recessions in the corners and begin tracking for targets.

Wingblade stops trying to push the chair outside when window is suddenly covered with a sheet of metal. She stands up straight as her apartment goes into full lockdown.

"Crap."


Labels:
Danger +1 Freak +3 Savior +0 Superior +0 Mundane -1
Influence:
Wingblade, Bronwyn, Shaun (Rival), Alexandra (Love), Cassie, Kaoru
Conditions: Angry, Afraid, Guilty, Insecure | Potential 0/5 (4A)

The apartment was going into lockdown. Alexis was vaguely aware that this was a problem. His head still felt awful. He didn't understand why he still got flashes of-

-whining rotors scraping concrete and snapping, jarring, molars splitting, something pins her chest and then crushes-

-moments that he hated to recall. He hauled himself up, seeing Wingblade stumped by the metal barricade in front of the windows. It seemed obvious what she was trying to do.

It seemed obvious to him what he should do here as well.

Unleash Your Powers (Overcoming an Obstacle): 2d6 + 3 ⇒ (5, 3) + 3 = 11

Punching through the whole wall, more trouble than it was worth. But it was on a sliding rail. Meaning that all he had to do was slam dents deep enough to get a good grip on the inside, and lifting with his legs against the ground, he raised the shutter right in front of Wingblade and the corrupted minion.

"Get him...out of here!" He grunted, as this shutter was whining as it tried to push itself back down into place...


Danger -2 | Freak +3 | Savior +1 | Superior +3 | Mundane 0
Influence:
Influence on: Alexandra, Alexis, Bronwyn | Influenced by: Alexandra, Bronwyn
Conditions: Angry, Insecure | Potential: 1/5 | Team: 2

Kaoru blinked. He had heard of open relationships before. But that had always been more of an abstract 'this is what some people do.' He had never really heard of anyone actually doing it. "Well, I guess if it works for them...."

"Even if Mother cared about more, she'd have to pull her head out of work to know what I was doing, and that's not going to happen. It was a little hard at first. Lots of trying to just fill the time with whatever I could. Now I'm mostly used to it. I guess it's about time I started taking advantage of it. Sneaking out for midnight missions or something."

*****

Kaoru sighed, snapped his laptop shut, got up, and left.


Labels: Danger: -1 Freak: 1/3 Savior: 1 Superior: 1 Mundane: 3/1| Conditions: Guilty, Afraid
Influence:
Influenced by: Thor Girl, Bioshock, Wingblade, The Silver Shadow. Influences: Thor Girl, Bioshock, Apex, Hex, Wingblade, The Kilt, The Silver Shadow, Shadowboxer, Jusker

The metallic shutters groan and shiver as Alexis hauls them open as rubber pullets spak off of Shayera's wings and Alexis's back, creating a series of rapidly healing weals and welts.

Finally the window stands open for a moment, but with a warning of 切换到非致命状态。单发 the rubber bullets stop, and a stream of tranquilizer darts flood the area, easily punching through Alexis's light day-ware.

Even with tranquilizers rated for enhanced physiologies, a safe dose would have taken quite a while to affect Alexis. Unfortunately, an even dozen of the syringes pierce his skin while he's still braced and defenseless at the window. The shutter's open enough for Shayera to get through with her wings tucked in, for now, but Alexis's knees are already buckling as his extremities numb.

We need somewhere to regroup...

Assess: 2d6 + 1 ⇒ (2, 5) + 1 = 8 What can I use here to get us out of the line of fire?

Bran slams his helm on, and casts his eyes around for somewhere to- Her bedroom! Nothing shooting in there, and I know the door's made of unobtainium or something.

"Alexandra, I should be able to bring Alexis to safety in Shayera's chambers - what can be done about Abacus's frenzy?"


Influence:
I have influence on: Bran the Blessed, Mercy, Kilt
Conditions: none
Labels:
Danger +2, Freak +2, Savior 0, Superior +1, Mundane +1. Potential 4/5

Well, at least Abacus is going nonlethal, Wingblade thinks as she feels the weaponry impact her wings. But for how long, corrupted as it is?

She sees a brief window of daylight, but takes a moment to dial her communicator to Kaoru's frequency. Then she shoves the chair containing the ruins of Dane at the opening. "Thanks!" she shouts to Alexis as she moves by. Then she plummets several stories before she's able to slow her descent with her wings beating hard.

Unleash: 2d6 + 2 ⇒ (6, 6) + 2 = 14

Thankfully, it was a warm day and there were plenty of updrafts to help her stay aloft as she works to safely dispose the source of corruption.

While she's flying, she tries to reach Kaoru. "Machina! Machina, come in! Please tell me you worked a backdoor into Abacus! It's corrupted and has made my apartment go nuts! >Ungh!< Can you get in remotely and shut it down before it >whew< hurts Silver Shadow and the others?"


Labels: Danger: -1 Freak: 1/3 Savior: 1 Superior: 1 Mundane: 3/1| Conditions: Guilty, Afraid
Influence:
Influenced by: Thor Girl, Bioshock, Wingblade, The Silver Shadow. Influences: Thor Girl, Bioshock, Apex, Hex, Wingblade, The Kilt, The Silver Shadow, Shadowboxer, Jusker

The communication is still going to be a bit garbled, but outside of Balor's Shadow, it's clear enough to be intelligible.


Labels:
Danger +1 Freak +3 Savior +0 Superior +0 Mundane -1
Influence:
Wingblade, Bronwyn, Shaun (Rival), Alexandra (Love), Cassie, Kaoru
Conditions: Angry, Afraid, Guilty, Insecure | Potential 0/5 (4A)

Alexis trembles as he (she?) is slammed in the back by dozens of stinging blows. He (she?) can feel it tear apart his clothing, The flashes are coming slower, but it's still disorientating.

Then the syringes pepper across his (her?) shoulders and back, and he (she?) feels a buckling in the knees. It was good Shayera pushed the chair of remaining wrongness past out the window before she followed. Alexis tried to pull back, but instead collapsed to his (her?) knees, the security shutter taking this time to force itself shut.

Right down on Alexis' wrists.

There was a hard snap of bone as the wrists broke underneath the pressure, Alexis blinking back tears as the pain reached his (her?) head. A low moan of agony came out. Lifting was out of the question until he (she?) healed and the drugs ran their course.

"I can't move," Alexis says. "Bran...my arms...

...cut through."


Danger -2 | Freak +3 | Savior +1 | Superior +3 | Mundane 0
Influence:
Influence on: Alexandra, Alexis, Bronwyn | Influenced by: Alexandra, Bronwyn
Conditions: Angry, Insecure | Potential: 1/5 | Team: 2

Kaoru grimaced, first at the ungodly screech of static as communications inexplicably started working again and then at the words coming through. Great, nice to know I'm so well trusted my supposed 'allies' just *assume* I've gone ahead and hacked into all of their systems behind their back. He wasn't really sure how a corrupted supercomputer would have managed to shut down both their independent comms and their cell phones -- jammer of some sort? -- but it didn't really surprise him to hear it had been breached. It had probably been compromised long before he had even come to Halcyon. After all, an internet-accessible computer with a voice command interface in a building consuming enough electricity to run a med bay and whatever the hell else was just asking for trouble.

Ugh...maybe he should have insisted upon an Internet of Things security 101 briefing. Not that Wingblade probably would have listened since she clearly had such a low opinion of him. He wasn't even sure when the hell he was supposed to have installed this backdoor into the system since it's not like he had ever been let alone with the computer.

On the bright side, this all pointed to it being easier to remotely hack now. And at least now he had some idea of what was going on since he had quickly discovered there weren't any cameras on nearby buildings pointing that way, and he was still a ways away from getting eyes on the scene himself. It was probably also good that he had asked Chloe to drive, even if he apparently had to awkwardly lean towards her to make sure his watch was close enough for the steering wheel to register it and unlock. There's gotta be a setting for that, right? What kind of car makes it hard for anybody other than the owner to drive it? Though I guess it's a nice anti-theft feature.

Unleash: 2d6 + 3 ⇒ (3, 6) + 3 = 12

As he had suspected, using his previous calls to the Abacus handheld provided a quick way to zero in on the main Abacus system. Once in, he started the shutdown procedure. He considered just rebooting the entire thing, but depending on what exactly this "corruption" was, that might just be rebooting a bad state. Better to assess the damage first.

He considered denying putting a backdoor into Abacus but sighed. He doubted there was much of a point; she wouldn't believe him. "Acknowledged. Shutting system down."


Labels: Danger: -1 Freak: 1/3 Savior: 1 Superior: 1 Mundane: 3/1| Conditions: Guilty, Afraid
Influence:
Influenced by: Thor Girl, Bioshock, Wingblade, The Silver Shadow. Influences: Thor Girl, Bioshock, Apex, Hex, Wingblade, The Kilt, The Silver Shadow, Shadowboxer, Jusker

For a moment Bran heaved at the shutters, but barely the twentieth part of his strength remained to him, and without leverage... I can't get this thing open by myself.

He turned to face the turrets, eyes wide behind his helm as he placed himself between them and Alexis. Well, I'm still really big.

Defend: 2d6 + 1 - 2 ⇒ (6, 2) + 1 - 2 = 7 Not using the Assess yet, since this won't actually get anyone out of the line of fire. Clearing a condition and escalating

Darts and rubber bullets poured on, scratching and denting the plates of his armor as he hunched over his teammate's limp form.

"Be strong Alexis. We will free you as you freed Wingblade." And no one's cutting through anything!

"Nonlethal 對策 ineffective," Abacus warbled. The turrets quieted for a moment as the mechanisms spun precisely to reveal new weapons, the lenses in their barrels quickly heating from dull glass to a brilliant red. "'Cut Through' 計劃 enabled."

"Alexandra!"

***

Abacus's defenses were almost nonexistent. Whatever normally kept someone like Kaoru from doing this had clearly been eaten away by whatever corruption was coursing through the supercomputer.

Unfortunately, the same chaos made a simple shutdown command equally... erratic.

Portions of the computer began cycling through their shutdown procedures, but other programs remained stubbornly fueled by the malevolence infesting Abacus. The odd behavior was traceable by glitches where lines of code were first being completely ignored only to be rapidly overwritten with something darker. The spread seemed to be focusing on a few areas - the defense systems, environmental control/decontamination, surveilance systems/logs, and Shayera's personal files.

Kaoru, go ahead and choose three of the following options:
Disable the weapon systems.
Disable the environmental control.
Figure out a way to get back in contact with the inside team.
Steal* Shayera's notes/dossiers on the team First
Steal* Shayera's therapy journal
Steal* the surveilance logs
Establish a backdoor that will get you through Abacus's security in the future.

*This will also keep it from being accessed by whatever's trying to look.

***

As Shayera soared the wind whipped around her, making it hard to hear anything besides the bud in her ear. Nevertheless, a whisper slick with malice managed to worm its way from the ruin of Dane's face. "Hello again, little bird. You've grown since last we fought."


Labels: Danger: 0 Freak: 1 Savior: -2 Superior: 2 Mundane: 3 | Condition(s):None|Potential 0/5
Influence:
no-one

It does. it's... odd, but it works is the thing. She says Don't worry, that's not what I want here. she says

Does that... does your moms attitude bug you, ever?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~

Don't destroy Abbie's defenses is her first instinct Alexis can regenerate. She thinks first... but Bran is there too. Wing is gone... [i]S*!@!

Alexandra vaults over the counter, and toward Bran, gathering as much momentum as she can among the way, and leaps up to knock Bran to the floor, half pouncing.

Protect Bran: 2d6 - 2 ⇒ (6, 1) - 2 = 5

Yeah, that makes sense

Gonna leave that Miss to you if you want it, B, but at least part of it involve Alexandra biting Bran and ripping off a small chunk, to go with the corruption...


Danger -2 | Freak +3 | Savior +1 | Superior +3 | Mundane 0
Influence:
Influence on: Alexandra, Alexis, Bronwyn | Influenced by: Alexandra, Bronwyn
Conditions: Angry, Insecure | Potential: 1/5 | Team: 2

Kaoru was a little relieved to hear that Alexandra wasn't looking for an open relationship. He had a hard enough time imagining himself dating one person, let alone multiple. And he was already quite sure he didn't want her dating other people at the same time. The mere thought made his stomach curl in on itself as his heart rate and anxiety spiked. He lifted the hand not being used as a lie-detector to scratch his chin, self-consciously making sure not to look at Alexandra as he asked. "Does that mean I don't have to wait the remaining 12 hours or however long? To, y'know, suggest the coffee place again or whatever?"

His immediate gut reaction to her question was to spit out, "I don't care. She can do whatever she wants." But even as he said it, he could hear the tinge of bitterness and the way his heart fluttered in contradiction to his words. He inhaled slowly through his nose, jaw clenching and unclenching as he worked over a better response. Finally he continued in a softer tone. "I guess...it bothers me sometimes," he admitted finally. "It's...a little worse than normal right now just 'cause Chloe's here. It reminds me of how she is with her family. They're pretty close-knit, and the past several years, I've probably spent more time with her parents than my own. It was...nice. Almost like I was one of them. But there were always small reminders that I wasn't. Like, they would do a family day-trip and invite me along, but they always had to make sure Mother was ok with it first." He paused to swallow the sudden lump of emotion in his throat. And now you don't even have that. He gave a half-shrug. "But it's not bad I guess. It's better than my other friend, who basically just constantly fought with her family. And as I said, it has its advantages. I just need to do a better job of using them. And it's not like she doesn't have a good reason. She's not out partying all the time. Consulting work has terrible work-life balance, which is why they pay so well. And she has to provide by herself, so..." He shrugged again. "I try not to think too much about it. I manage to keep pretty busy with school and practice and all the household chores. And now I'm adding team stuff to it."

*****

Kaoru gnawed on lower lip as he watched the chaos flick across the screen. Ok, priorities. What's the worst that could happen? His mind quickly processed the data, organizing it, and prioritizing it in the blink of an eye.

A hacker with the weapon's system was...really bad. He could see that they were already engaged and were partway through their escalation procedure. Those were clearly a top priority.

Environment control was probably ok. Messing with the temperatures would certainly take much longer to make lethal than a weapons system, and that was assuming they didn't find a way out of the penthouse first. Fire suppression was only important if there was already fires, which there might be, but a fancy suppression unit wasn't going to be the only way to deal with that. After all, most houses didn't have that and he had yet to see one burn down despite witnessing numerous kitchen disasters. Decontamination probably wasn't that useful. It clearly wasn't helping with what was already going on, and trying to safe-guard something just in case they had to deal with some biological agent later wasn't nearly as important in the here-and-now

Contact with the team was probably more a 'nice to have'. He didn't have anything useful to tell them, and it'd be a gamble if they had useful info for him. Better to do his best to ensure their safety as a silent monitor.

That mostly left the hacker with access to Abacus' intel. He could already see the files being processed rapidly. As he moved the most important files out of the other's reach, he simultaneously began feeding the ones left behind into a Markov text generator he had made in middle school to prove their English teacher didn't really understand the papers he was turning in. He may not be able to stop this person from reading those extra files, but he could certainly bury them in thousands of fake files, making it much harder to find useful information.

Fun fact: A group of MIT students once got a Markov randomly generated paper accepted into a conference. Needless to say, it was not a very good/reputable conference, but it still looked real enough to fool the reviewers.

The team files got copied over. After all, knowledge was power and if this person wanted to go after the rest of the team next, he wanted them going in as blind as he could make them. It probably wasn't that bad if the hacker got all of Wingblade's personal files. Kinda sucked for her but he honestly could think of a reason why a hacker would want to read her school papers or diary or whatever (unless maybe they were a creepy stalker?). So into the generator those went. Surveillance logs sadly wouldn't work with the generator, but he could slow that down by trying to copy the entire contents of YouTube in there as well (after all, who didn't want to see videos of pets playing dead?). And he certainly hadn't been dumb enough to say anything important in her penthouse; it was why he had held their team meeting elsewhere.

He paused briefly. Since he was already here, should he put in a backdoor into Abacus? Wingblade clearly already thought he had one. Which meant both that she didn't have the technical skills to know that he hadn't, and that she already thought the worst of him, so he may as well get the benefit from it. Besides, if she had been hacked once, she probably would be again. This might be the leg-up he needed to kick future hackers out.

He then talked once more into his communicator. [b]"Systems are foobar'd. Shut down the weapons system, but whomever this is is going through your personal files."[/b

Choosing the following:
- Disable the weapon systems.
- Steal* Shayera's notes/dossiers on the team First
- Establish a backdoor into Abacus


Labels: Danger: -1 Freak: 1/3 Savior: 1 Superior: 1 Mundane: 3/1| Conditions: Guilty, Afraid
Influence:
Influenced by: Thor Girl, Bioshock, Wingblade, The Silver Shadow. Influences: Thor Girl, Bioshock, Apex, Hex, Wingblade, The Kilt, The Silver Shadow, Shadowboxer, Jusker

Alexandra vaults over the counter, and toward Bran, gathering as much momentum as she can along the way, and leaps up to knock Bran to the floor, half pouncing. Unfortunately, she acted in such haste that even her training was unable to overcome the simple disparity of mass.

The collision knocks Bran off balance, and leaves the Silver Shadow sprawling across the floor, looking up at the barrels of Abacus's weapon emplacement as they whine to full power!

Mark a condition, your choice

But then instead of opening fire, the turrets droop, shutting down without any visible cause.

Small mercies.

For a moment Abacus is silent, as though the danger is past.

A malevolent feeling fills the air, teasing at Alexis's raw memories, the edges of Bran's Tiger-blinded sight, and sizzling within Alexandra's veins.

Then the fire suppression system goes off.

At first it's just disorienting. The fire alarm begins shrieking at ear-splitting volume, pulsing flashes of light directing the heroes to exits that have already been sealed shut. Then sprays of gas begin to shroud the penthouse. Chunks of dry ice spit out from a few of the broader nozzles, still solidified by the pressure they'd been kept under, and as the one closest to the ceilings, Bran is quickly forced to hunch and duck away as the blasts of CO2 quick-chill his armor enough to leave patches of skin stuck to the inside of his suit!

Additional sirens and klaxons are sounding from the labs, but as more and more carbon dioxide pours into the sealed room, Bran shouts out to his teammates, barely audible above the shrieks of the alarms. "HE'S GOING TO SUFFOCATE US!"

Kaoru - see PM


Danger -2 | Freak +3 | Savior +1 | Superior +3 | Mundane 0
Influence:
Influence on: Alexandra, Alexis, Bronwyn | Influenced by: Alexandra, Bronwyn
Conditions: Angry, Insecure | Potential: 1/5 | Team: 2

Kaoru blinked at his screen. The way this person was traversing things made no sense. His YouTube and text generator distractions should have been easy to overcome (after all, he had already thought of a couple of ways around them himself), but they seemed to be practically wading through the sea of files. Similarly, things that should have been nearly impossible were getting knocked down like tin soldiers. It finally occurred to him: whomever this was didn't really know that much about computers. They were a blunt instrument using brute force to crash through things.

Finger flying across the keyboard, he used the data pump to distract them as he began laying a trail of breadcrumbs. Fragments of the data files they were looking for leading away from core systems. Flurries of files masking the creation of system simulations (with some random number generators thrown in to mimic their weirdly erratic behavior). When his opponent finally seemed to decide it was better to deal with the person creating the chaos than the chaos itself, his trap was set. They just needed to take the bait.

Essentially what Kaoru is trying to do is create fake systems for Balor to interact with (and swapping them out when he's distracted) and a fake trail back to his computer. The fake systems and trail are all on the compromised AWS server, so he's trying to trick him into basically going fully into that, so he can sever the connection/isolate Balor there in a way that he can't get back into Abacus or any stuff that Kaoru cares about.
Are you watching closely: 2d6 + 3 ⇒ (3, 2) + 3 = 8
I guess that would be
- You get an opportunity.
- You avoid further entanglement.


Influence:
I have influence on: Bran the Blessed, Mercy, Kilt
Conditions: none
Labels:
Danger +2, Freak +2, Savior 0, Superior +1, Mundane +1. Potential 4/5
Balor wrote:
"Hello again, little bird. You've grown since last we fought."

"Hey. And you... still stink."

"I am eternal and unchanging. The span of your days will pass, your children will molder to dust, and I will still be Balor. But you have changed, insolent child. You have trespassed in my domain, and yet I do not smell the memory of that death upon you. But Him; you reek of Him."

Wingblade sets her jaw and pushes away the feeling of fatigue in her limbs, willing her nerves to turn to ice. Her wings still beat hard to keep them aloft, but her metal wings don't fatigue like flesh-and-blood wings.

Balor's words are meant to unnerve her, but she'd been trained to banter with the best of them. "Hey, I just danced with Bran! There should be no reeking! So what's the deal with Manandawan? Or whatever you call him."

"A coward who sent others to fight and die in his place, a weakling whose only power rests in his toys, an unworthy successor to a fallen crown."

Wingblade frowns, her thoughts immediately straying toward Whetstone, Whippoorwill's weapons designer. That wouldn't be how she described him. "I see. So why not leave him alone, if he's a non-com? If the crown's fallen, why do you want it?"

"I need nothing from him, or his brats, or any other spawn of the sea! But I will have whatsoever vengeance I see fit to take, and I will use whatsoever tools I deem worthy of the honor."

"You sure don't treat your tools very nice," Wingblade snaps. "Look at poor Dane here. The guy wanted some power, I guess, but did you have to go and rot him from the inside out? You're not going to get a lot of volunteers if they come out looking like him!"

"Was that his name? There will be another, little bird, and another and another so long as you fools defy me. I do not require hosts with puissant bloodlines for tools such as 'Dane.' All I require is their surrender to my will."

"Yeah, like that isn't bad-guy speak for 'I'm going to take what I want and screw you over.' Once word gets out, your support will become deader than Dane."

"Then you must spread your wings wide. There are scores of you mortals who could serve as a vessel for your 'dancing partner's' brother, where he will better suit my pleasure.”

"Are you just looking for regular folks like Dane? Or do they need something special?"

Sneering amusement suffused Balor's whispers, "You think you can thwart my designs, but your blind ignorance betrays you. Blood will tell, little bird. Even in this benighted age there are still those worthy to hold the power of a god. Why not ask your Beloved how he found his host."

Shayera is shocked to silence. Her head snaps from her search down to the ruined remains of Dane's face and can't help but imagine a knowing sneer in that grisly visage. Her hands suddenly feel the weight of her load and she realizes she'd lost her footing in the battle of words. She opens her mouth to say something witty, anything.

Kaoru wrote:
"Systems are foobar'd. Shut down the weapons system, but whomever this is is going through your personal files."

Wingblade's attempt to reassert herself is suddenly interrupted by Kaoru's voice in her ear, and the revelation of what was still happening at her apartment. Red touches the edges of her vision.

"You freaking perv!!" she shouts at the mess in her chair. "Ancient scary evil going through a teenage girl's diary!?! What is wrong with you?"


Labels:
Danger +1 Freak +3 Savior +0 Superior +0 Mundane -1
Influence:
Wingblade, Bronwyn, Shaun (Rival), Alexandra (Love), Cassie, Kaoru
Conditions: Angry, Afraid, Guilty, Insecure | Potential 0/5 (4A)

The shut down of the automated weapon systems was good for everyone. Alexis wasn't looking forward to being burned through with cutting lasers. He was still pinned with his wrists underneath the shutters though, and there wasn't enough of a delay before the next crisis happened with the fire suppression system blasting at them from above.

Suffocation. That was a terrible way to die. Almost as bad as drowning. He blinked back tears, needing to free himself. But Bran wasn't helping him at all.

Fine then. His wrists couldn't heal when the shutter was still applying pressure to the broken parts. Cutting through them would have been infinitely less painful then what he had to do now.

Unleash Your Powers (Overcome an Obstacle): 2d6 + 3 ⇒ (1, 4) + 3 = 8

Marking Afraid

He knelt and braced his feet onto the floor, putting himself into position. If he didn't do it now, he'd be too woozy to do so when the oxygen ran out. Alexis tensed his muscles and felt the pain as he wriggled his wrists just enough for more of a gap. The edge was too blunt to saw through. A normal person wouldn't be able to free themselves.

A normal person didn't have unnatural strength.

The blaring klaxons were still too loud for anyone inside to hear him scream. Not as he pulled up like he was dead lifting weight, only now he was stretching the skin and muscles of his forearms. The skin yielded first, splitting where the pressure was too much. He felt the muscle fibers snap and curl where the ligaments gave way. Alexis exhaled again and pulled himself up all the way free.

He turned to the others, ignoring the red stumps his arms ended in for now and looked at the current situation. They needed to get out, or to get some way to breathe normally. "Gym," He shouted to the others, head pounding already from the noise. Alexis pushed towards the gym, trying to avoid the worse of the sprays of dry ice.


Labels: Danger: -1 Freak: 1/3 Savior: 1 Superior: 1 Mundane: 3/1| Conditions: Guilty, Afraid
Influence:
Influenced by: Thor Girl, Bioshock, Wingblade, The Silver Shadow. Influences: Thor Girl, Bioshock, Apex, Hex, Wingblade, The Kilt, The Silver Shadow, Shadowboxer, Jusker
Wingblade wrote:
"You freaking perv!! Ancient scary evil going through a teenage girl's diary!?! What is wrong with you?"

Dane's voice rose as anger matched anger. Tendons creaked as the last of the rot fell away from his skull, leaving only a single eye shining with hate. "Nothing. I am exactly as I should be; I am Balor. But you, you hunger, child. You are a void hungry for love, for freedom, for Hunger itself. Your Accursed Crow will not save you from it, can not save you from it. But if you give yourself to me, you will be sated. You are greater than the wretch you carry, and so would be your rewards."

Go ahead and Mark a condition, following that Balor's trying to shift your Superior up, Savior down

***

Kaoru's datatrail was too enticing for the mysterious 'hacker' to resist, and sure enough, he saw the strange corruption's focus sharpen and heighten as it directed itself towards Kaoru's waiting trap too hungrily and recklessly to avoid the trap - so long as Kaoru was actually able to sever the connection against his will...

Sounds like an Unleash to me (and I'll toss in a +1 for your Opportunity), but sing out if there's another direction you're planning to take it

I'll give Alexandra a leetle bit longer to post, but I'm planning on pushing forward tomorrow with the Penthouse Posse


Influence:
I have influence on: Bran the Blessed, Mercy, Kilt
Conditions: none
Labels:
Danger +2, Freak +2, Savior 0, Superior +1, Mundane +1. Potential 4/5

Taking Angry

Wingblade seethed. Balor had killed a guy, wrecked her apartment, infected her computer, threatened her girlfriend, and was now suggesting that she join him? She laughed in his face, but it was a bitter and cruel, mocking laugh. "Like Hell if you think I would join you," she spits out.

Still, a brief glimmer of temptation blooms in her mind. He's going to keep looking for a host. If I can let him in, then beat him, I'll be saving the next poor sucker, she thinks. The idea takes hold, Wingblade imagining besting him right then and there. She wasn't concerned with her body; she'd withstood his blast and came out on top. So all she would have to do would be to keep him from taking control of her.

She stares at the eye in Dane's socket, tempted to end the threat of Balor right then and there. If I can do it. How hard can it be? All I'd need to do is just be stronger than him. Not let him control me. Simple.

A sudden image of her father appears in her mind. I can... The feeling of wearing the mask, of being one with her sisters settles upon her. I'm part of...

She shakes her head and dispels the notion.

Reject: 2d6 ⇒ (5, 5) = 10
Canceling his influence and taking +1, and marking potential by proving him wrong

"Sorry, Bally, but my mind's full. I'm not hungry at all. Oh, and we're here. Have a nice nap."

She had been flying lower and lower until she was just skimming over the buildings. Having spotted a construction site in the distance, she had angled toward it during her flight. There, she upends the chair and dumps the remains of Dane into a flow of cement being poured into the new foundation.

Unleash: 2d6 + 2 + 1 ⇒ (1, 6) + 2 + 1 = 10

Once she sees the skull with that awful eye sink into the cement, she tosses the chair into a nearby dumpster and takes off into the sky. She puts all her remaining strength into flying back to her apartment at her best speed.


Danger -2 | Freak +3 | Savior +1 | Superior +3 | Mundane 0
Influence:
Influence on: Alexandra, Alexis, Bronwyn | Influenced by: Alexandra, Bronwyn
Conditions: Angry, Insecure | Potential: 1/5 | Team: 2

Kaoru smirked as his enemy rushed headlong down the tunnel he had created. They were like some idiot child unable to control their impulses in their attempt to get what they wanted as soon as possible. If they had been a real hacker, it wouldn't have been nearly so easy (though he liked to think most of them would have been fooled as well).

The trickiest part would be getting the timing correct. They were connected to the remote server through numerous different ports, each one representing a different 'system'. Each would have to be closed individually before they realized what was going on. He watched with bated breath as the hacker got closer to their 'prize'.

As his opponent dug in to begin tearing through his fake data, he waited just a moment longer, letting them get truly absorbed in the process. Then he hit Enter, starting to run the command he had pre-typed. His spawned process severed one connection and then spawned a second thread. Those repeated the program: closing a connection before spawning a new friend. It was painfully slow at first, but as the number of threads grew exponentially, it was getting faster and faster. Hopefully too late, the enemy started to notice and backtrack its way, looking for an exit (though oddly they seemed unaffected by how much CPU the server now had dedicated to closing the connections).

The enemy raced closer and closer as the connections were being severed faster and faster. Then with an anti-climactic END PROGRAM it was all over; all the connections were closed, including his. He stayed alert, seeing if the virus would be able to open up new connections to either his computer or Abacus. They were tense, sloooooowwwwwww minutes. He had no idea what his opponent was doing as he had closed his own window into the machine, so that it couldn't be exploited.

Unleash: 2d6 + 3 + 1 ⇒ (2, 6) + 3 + 1 = 12

Eventually he relaxed. If they had found a way around the locks he had placed on the server, they at least didn't seem to be coming back in this direction. He set up a few sentry programs to alert him of any incoming traffic. He wouldn't be able to respond quite as quickly as if he were monitoring the network himself, but given the other person's complete lack of subtlety, he was confident it would give him an accurate heads up. This freed him up to try to clean up the mess that had been left at a more leisurely pace. After all, he had already disabled the weapon's system. With that down, the rest of the team should have no problems dealing with the other systems going haywire.

Hopefully DD already read that message. Eh, though I suppose it doesn't really matter if they didn't. Either way, they'll probably at least have an interesting new playmate next time they check in. Perhaps one that is more easily impressed than me.


Labels: Danger: -1 Freak: 1/3 Savior: 1 Superior: 1 Mundane: 3/1| Conditions: Guilty, Afraid
Influence:
Influenced by: Thor Girl, Bioshock, Wingblade, The Silver Shadow. Influences: Thor Girl, Bioshock, Apex, Hex, Wingblade, The Kilt, The Silver Shadow, Shadowboxer, Jusker
Mercy wrote:
He turned to the others, ignoring the red stumps his arms ended in for now and looked at the current situation. They needed to get out, or to get some way to breathe normally. "Gym," He shouted to the others, head pounding already from the noise. Alexis pushed towards the gym, trying to avoid the worse of the sprays of dry ice.

Bran's gauntlet landed on Alexis's shoulder to turn him around, though not with near enough force to truly hold him back. "IF WE GET AIR THE GAS CAN'T CHOKE US!" And I don't have the strength to do this myself right now! Carefully he braced the point of Gae-Dearg against the metal shutters, certain that the ancient spear would hold. Then with a look at Alexis's stumps, still wide-eyed behind the slit of his visor, Bran re-angled the haft, ready for a kick from Alexis to drive it through. Really just setting up a Team Spend


Labels:
Danger +1 Freak +3 Savior +0 Superior +0 Mundane -1
Influence:
Wingblade, Bronwyn, Shaun (Rival), Alexandra (Love), Cassie, Kaoru
Conditions: Angry, Afraid, Guilty, Insecure | Potential 0/5 (4A)

Alexis looked at the spear wedged into the shutters to try and open them. He hesitated. Breaking the shutters would create a weakness that could be exploited-

He shook his head, focusing on the pain instead of the crushing anxiety. "Stand back!" He shouted, before kicking as hard as he could.

Unleash Your Powers (Overcoming an Obstacle): 2d6 + 3 ⇒ (6, 2) + 3 = 11

He kicked well. He kicked perhaps too well, as he drove not only the spear through the shutters, but his leg up to mid-thigh. He yanked it back, bleeding from the glass and jagged edges, but at least now there was a port for some fresher air. The larger problem came from the fact that he couldn't see where the spear went - it was possible it was tumbling down the side of the building now.

Alexis at least had a tearing point now, as he set up to start bending the hole open wider, ignoring the pain as blood vessels and bone started to grow slowly from his stumped arms as he hooked them in and yanked as hard as he could. "Lost your spear. Sorry," He apologized to Bran. "Alexandra, come breathe over here!"


Labels: Danger: -1 Freak: 1/3 Savior: 1 Superior: 1 Mundane: 3/1| Conditions: Guilty, Afraid
Influence:
Influenced by: Thor Girl, Bioshock, Wingblade, The Silver Shadow. Influences: Thor Girl, Bioshock, Apex, Hex, Wingblade, The Kilt, The Silver Shadow, Shadowboxer, Jusker

Oh come on! You **know** that's not replaceable!
Should be okay though...
"I expect the balcony's walls will have stopped it."

Gently he reached down to pull Alexis's arms free from the hole.

"Now that the work is begun, I can-" don't say lend a hand, don't say lend a hand "-take up this burden."

Once Alexis was free he brought down his foot again and again in a series of clangs, widening the tear more and more until it was wide enough to crawl through.
Unleash: 2d6 + 1 ⇒ (3, 6) + 1 = 10

"Make haste! There is no prize to win by staying amidst this fog!"


Influence:
I have influence on: Bran the Blessed, Mercy, Kilt
Conditions: none
Labels:
Danger +2, Freak +2, Savior 0, Superior +1, Mundane +1. Potential 4/5

As Wingblade pushes herself to return to her apartment at her best speed, she notices her comm was still active. "Hey, Machina! Did you catch any of that? What are your thoughts? I've dumped the body in some wet concrete for now; hopefully we can get Hex or one of her allies to come up with a better containment. How's things at the apartment? I'm heading there now."


Danger -2 | Freak +3 | Savior +1 | Superior +3 | Mundane 0
Influence:
Influence on: Alexandra, Alexis, Bronwyn | Influenced by: Alexandra, Bronwyn
Conditions: Angry, Insecure | Potential: 1/5 | Team: 2

By now Kaoru had arrived at the building containing Wingblade's apartment. He couldn't see anything obviously wrong (which admittedly might just be the height) and there didn't seem to be people screaming in terror, which was probably a good sign. But they always said 'use stairs in case of emergency,' and he wasn't particularly keen on the idea of hauling himself up that many stories. He also wasn't exactly completely sure which floor Wingblade was on anyway since the elevator seemed to be an express one designed for just getting people to her penthouse. He had just decided to get a seat at a nearby cafe and just continue remotely doing his best to clean up the system when Wingblade contacted him.

"I was a little distracted kicking your intruder out of your system. Besides, I could only really hear your half of the conversation. I disagree with you assessment that he will have trouble recruiting help; there are plenty of desperate people out there happy enough to have a much shorter life if it means they live it with power. Or people who don't really have much to lose anyway."

"I'm still working on clearing up your system. Its behavior is pretty erratic; you might need to do a hardware overhaul." And knowing you, you will probably spend an exorbitant amount of money to get it done overnight. What a waste. "As I said, I already shut down the weapon's system and am in the process of shutting down a few other things. I would assume your apartment is in much the same shape as when you left it." Unless Alexis went crazy and wrecked everything, that is.

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