After we get back from our artifact retrieval, we have some time to ourselves. I keep digging for info on the Next Generation Placement Agency and uncover a list of all the kids Novetnoved helped to place. Of the twenty or so kids on the list, only three of us are known to be alive and well, a 5-year old named Sarah Robinson in Sudbury, Dave Erickson who’s currently residing in LA, and me. There are a few missing and suspected runaways, one Eva Wilderman has been sighted across the US, and a few kidnappings… the rest are deceased and only one looks natural (car accident) and after seeing some of the others (violent home invasion) now I’m even wondering about that. I think I even went to school with a couple of these people. I share the list and my findings with Lightning, who holds her head in her hands and mutters something about “so much for my free time.” I’m preparing a report for Miss Midnight now, should Sarah and Dave be put under watch? Something is so very, very wrong with this picture. And I need to figure out what information I can pass to Officer Raminos to help get us information but without tipping our hand that we know OR putting him or anyone else involved in harm’s way because Chimera operatives see him poking his nose where a cop doesn’t belong. For all I know, they already know.
Cassanova heads downstairs to interrogate our suspect from the Swiss Black Skull incident and Shockwave asks me to investigate an email he received, allegedly from Fireball Pete‘s niece. Having just finished reading about the runaway Next Gen placement, I tell him to please not tell me her name’s Eva , but there’s no name on the email. One more thing on the list of stuff to investigate, ‘cause the list wasn’t long enough already…(SW: Lightning said the email account’s owner is Milena Virant. The account looks legitimate, it’s hosted in Maribor, Slovenia and has been in use for a few years)
Shockwave has Lightning investigate Fireball Pete, or Flaming Petyr as he was known. Looks like he’s got regenerative abilities, so that sort of fits with Phoenix… I hate withholding this from her but she’s got to sort out what she’s doing about her mother first… He ended up in a lot of humanitarian efforts that UN and Red Cross couldn’t touch for political reasons especially in the Bosnian wars, there were a few mentions of another Promethean, but they stopped in early 1995 and cross-checking the results with a discussion I had later with Shockwave, that coincides with when his parents were killed, he wasn’t quite three years old at the time and all he knows about it seems to have come second-hand from his older sister. Any case, we aren’t sure whether this niece is an actual relation or not.
Unbeknownst to Cassanova, Miss Midnight records the interrogation and watching it becomes our lesson that morning, practical application of interrodation, followed by an explanation of usual interrogation techniques and then a question period to Cassanova.
(transcript of the interrogation may be a little garbled, AJ was waiting for the caffeine to kick in, please make corrections if necessary)
Who is Black Skull? “We are the army that is the future!”
What does Havoc have that you’re interested in? “The power to change the world. He can remove the corruption from mankind. With his backing, the armies of the world will be crushed quickly, saving the lives of many who would otherwise die in a long, drawn-out war.”
Who built the armoured suits and all the gadgets? “Black Skull himself.”
Where is Black Skull now? “I do not know.”
Do you have anyone that we should advise about your wherebouts? “No.” (Cas gets horrific images and smell of burning bodies)
How and when were you recruited? “Black Skull himself recruited me around 2008. Me and my men were in the Croatian Defence Forces during the war, after the war we were demobilized and worked as general soldiers-for-hire until we joined Black Skull.”
He then asks Cas a question, “How much longer am I to be held?” Cas temporizes, picks up that the guy fully expects to be tortured and executed and feels pity that Cas actually believes othewise.
We watch Cas leave, the screen here’s still on and recording as the guy sits there. Cas makes it back to the classroom.
In the post-discussion, Red Star (who apparently also knows traditional techniques) asked why Cas was so specific about Black Skull’s location, why not ask if he had ideas where he might be found…
Phoenix asks if we can tag him and release him for later tracking, but Cassanova suggests that his group would probably execute him for compromising them to us if they found out we had him. Midnight leaves the screen on as she walks out of the room. Just as the group of us are discussing that Black Skull sounds like he could be a Second gen Promethean, she appears on the screen as she walks into the room and sits down across from him.
It seems he knows her, and knows she brougth in Havoc. “So you know that we can’t let on that we have you.”
“Aah, to the ocean, then?”
Midnight, deadpan, replies, “Would you like a steak dinner first?” All of us go silent at this.
“You are serious?”
“I’m always serious. If you can tell me what you have that makes you think you can control Lord Havoc, of all people, I will get you to Spain.”
“He would never go against his son.”
“Spain, then. It’ll be tomorrow. It’s too late today.” She gets up, waves at the camera, and it fuzzes to static, and returns to the classroom.
“We’re letting him go because we never had him. That would be way overextending our mandate.” Then she writes out a bunch of homework readings and tells us to get up to the briefing room, there’s a mission. Cas takes a photo of it and sends it to all our devices so those of us without eidetic memory don’t have to waste the time to write it down.
We get to the briefing room and there’s a map of Cairo up. Apparently we’ve been listening to Eagle Corp comminucationsand Cairo authorities have contacted them to assist with apprehending someone. This is highly unusual, and would look very sketchy if brouht to light, but their Lancers have been dispatched. Our information from spying on them says they’re after a scam artist called “Blade”, 7 attempts at apprehension have failed, it seems that the hacking is done from right inside the building but when the police get there, they find an empty room.
So the Eagle team has been called in to do a “Product Demonstration”, and perhaps also apprehend a suspect who may have a Promethean device helping them.
So Miss Midnight wants a bunch of us to go “On Vacation” , and perhaps also apprehend a suspect who may have a Promethean device helping them.
It seems that Blade hacks into investment companies from within their own buildings and steals large sums of money but not large enough to seriously damage the company.
Midnight puts Lightning in charge, she takes X, shockwave and Autumn.
They get prepped and Lightning teleports them out. "Now, we have a different mission for those of you who are left. There have been a rash of UFO sightings in the area of the US/Mexican border. There have been a lot of fairly consistent reports and some good footage of a flying saucer shaped object. We think it might be a Promethean artifact but can’t confirm it because we’re still having some negative effects from the recent weather disturbance. The pattern of sightings is scattered and the Mexican government (Red Star sighs in relief) has approved us to investigate and retrieve it if necessary.
So Red Star, Jade, Phoenix, Pulse and I had some time on our Lancer to go through the reports, we are however tending to ignore the reports of abduction since most of them claim it’s not their first time being abducted… We look for the consistent details and notice that the sightings seem to show a trend southwards. 6 hours later, we land in a field a few kilometers away from a tourist town named Verasoe. It’s 6 km from the border and the site of some of the more recent sightings. A lot of this information has been correlated by a watchdog website, the handles of its three main geeks are Orion, Loremaster and Veritas. They’re kind of conspiracy theory crackpots but at least they’ve done some serious legwork that we didn’t have to repeat. Red and I will go see if we can find them, Jade’s going to pitch a tent and look up while Pulse and Phoenix investigate the surrounding area. I keep in contact with Jade through most of the next part.
They’re not hard to track down. They’ve got a converted moving van with a satellite receiver on the roof, painted up with their website’s art. We head into a nearby diner where Red Star orders “your best Burrito” and then asks if anyone’s seen Orion, Loremaster or Veritas. All the Mexican heads turn in the same direction, to the three white boys in the corner. So we head on over and invite ourselves to their table… well, Red does, I don’t want to break the little rickety chairs in this place so I just stand… They look at us, and one says to the other, “I told you it ws Promethean, not extra-terrestrial! You owe me ten bucks!” Guess they’d been betting… Orion’s a skinny clean-cut guy, Loremaster is a young-looking short chubby type and Veritas looks like a reject from a ZZ-Top video, complete with beard and sunglasses. They finish their meal, Red gets his burrito to go (he gave me a bite, it WAS a very good burrito) and we all head to their Command Centre (because I have no qualms about going into strange trucks, nope, not me). Red sits at what is Loremaster’s station, he’s got something like 15 different cleansers and wipes and sanitizers, and he uses most of them on his equipment, his chair and himself before he sits down after evicting Red from his seat.
Hey Jade, we’re in their truck, reviewing their footage. "Ok, good. It’s still hot here. And there’s a piece of sand over there. We’re sending Phoenix out to do aerial recon with my camera..
Orion seems to be their leader, or at least, their spokesperson. “We have similar theories on the underlying conspiracies, and we have agreed to disagree on the details…” They’ve been interviewing the locals but the thing doesn’t show up where a lot of people will see, it stick to the outskirts, farther out than the suburbs, so though it seems drawn to populated areas, it only ever gets near the outskirts. I toss them a thumb-drive and they start copying some of their relevant data for us.
Thinking about the show Numb3rs, I wondered if there were some pattern we weren’t seeing, so I crunched some numbers of my own and figured that the next appearance was likely to be at the next town south of here, so I let Jade know and he got the girls moving towards it so we could meet them there.
Veritas, the ZZ-Top clone, sidles up to me while Red and Loremaster are talking and whispers, "Is it true that him, " (indicates Red Star) “and the bug are actually extra terrestrials, and this is whre Promethean powers come from? I’ve got a running bet…”
Hey Red, they wanna know if you and Jade are extra-terrestrials! “Cool!” Want me to confirm or deny? “Don’t care, just make it funny!”
So I gave him my best “this is the official line” voice and the absolute truth: “There has been no link between extra terrestrials and people with Promethean powers.” And somehow manage not to giggle.
Jade tells me that Phoenix has seen a truck driving out where there’s no road.
Hey, Phoenix, what are you seeing and where? Describe this truck. “Flatbed truck, a couple people in the cab, tarps in the back, about halfway between Jade and the town you’re in. Not sure where they’re heading, some broken terrain but noother obvious destination. Pretty sure they’ve spotee me but aside from using their radio, no change in heading, pretty much parallel to Jade and Pulse’s little race.” Wait, what? Racing? “Yeah, it’s hilarious, wait till you see the video I got, she’s ticked off that he can catch up with his leaps!” Oh my god, you have to make sure you save that!
Then I checked in with Jade, who reported seeing flashes off in the distance.
Phoenix had by that time gone flying up level with the truck and knocked on the driver’s window. They stop, and the driver rolls down the window.
“Hi! Do you speak English?”
“Naw, I speak Amurricain.”
“Great! So where are you going?”
“But what’s out there? There’s nothing?”
“For UFO’s or something else?”
“Mah cousin wants to bag hisself a coy-owt.”
“Then where are your guns?” Phoenix raises the camera and snaps a photo of them, the driver’s hand comes up in what looks like a well-practised move. “Let me try again. What’s out there that you’re looking for?”
“None o’ yer business.”
“Well how will I know that if you won’t tell me? I’ll take off if you tell me for true that it’s nothing to do with UFO’s…”
Jade and Pulse approach where the flashes originated, they spot something flitting over the trees, two yellow flashes, the something falls, and then The Pulse figures out how to teleport. Just as Jade’s about to catch up, the air shimmers, her perception shrinks to a pinpoint and then through my mindlink, so do ours, and we all pop into existence beside her, far closer to the source of the flashes than she and Jade could have run in that short time.
We can see the thin trail of smoke just over a nearby rise, so we head over to it. Looks like a subcompact car-sized flying sauceer, grounded and smoking, has gouged a thin trail in the ground. Standing nearby are three figures, we can see Half Life’s glowing yellow forcefield, Apex talking through a communication device and the Sinister Robot, standing near the thing. “Target is down, bring in the extraction team,” Apex says, then sees us. “Hold on that.”
Red says, “I call Sinister Robot!” and Half Life calls Phoenix, who keeps the camera recording video. I’m sure Miss Midnight will want to show that in class if it’s any good, I guess we’ll find out soon whether it’s a positive learning experience or an example of what not to repeat…
Apex’s shot bounces off Red’s shoulder. Phoenix tries to make a presence attack on Half Life, Pules tries to hit Half-life but misses, Red dances with the robot, I bonk Apex’s brain and she stutters in the air, Jade hugs Half Life and she thumps him with radiation. Apex gets me with three shots, knocking me silly and opening up my shoulder in two places. Half Life’s laser eyes try to burn Jade’s carapace and the radiation it generates kills the surrounding vegetation. Pulse hits Apex with an illusion but she breaks it and goes after Phoenix with the missiles, but Phoenix dodges. Robot grabs Jade’s arm (or leg??) but can’t stop him from squeezing Half-life again till she squeaked. Pulse and I stunned Apex, who crashes to the ground. Half-life punches Jade somewhere highly unpleasant, the Robot tries to pry him off but Jade hugs her again. Pulse dents the robot after Phoenix’s flames don’t do much. I KO-punch Half-life and she went limp in Jade’s grasp. Then it’s punch-up time with the Robot, so I start making my way towards the downed flying saucer on my way to make sure Apex is OK. We hear a roar, and I turn just in time to see the Robot let go of Jade, grab Half-life up off the ground and grab onto his jet-bike, the source of the roar. I guess he called it in. Apex regains consciousness before I get to her and shoots off into the air. We get to the saucer and determine that it is in face a Promethean device, but perhaps not one of the Doctor‘s, as when we look inside it, we see the Eagle Corp logo. We take a photo and send it ahead to Midnight in case it’s something we should return, although our feeling is that if it is some kind of device made by a Promethean, it is in fact our mandate to collect it. Which only leaves me with one question, why didn’t I remember my spraypaint and try it out on the Sinister Robot’s face to see if it interfered with his sensors…
I guess we can tell the conspiracy theorists that it was a Promethean device after all.
We reviewed the video of the fight on the flight home after we got the device back to the Lancer, it’s kind of shaky-cam view but even still there are a couple great photos going to come out of it, especially the one of Apex’s missile swirling towards Phoenix, so close you can read the Eagle Corp logo on it…