18.1 - What Lurks Below [Joe's Tale]

So there we all, in a standoff with the HHL – well, a couple members of it – while Roddy’s off to rescue his girlfriend in the basement. And I’m glaring at Blackbird, and she’s glaring at me, and Sigrun’s glaring at everyone and Powertronic is trying to stand where he’s glared at.


And Alex tries to defuse the situation, “Were we invited here at a bad time?” And Sigrid manages to catch PT’s eye, and Blackbird slides closer to the wall and out of my reach, and PT, he start yammering about how he’d invited Roddy weeks ago, and it didn’t have anything to do with whatever problem they were having. So Sigrun starts talkina bout how there’s some sort of emergency, and we’re innocent visitors who are at risk, which is kinda awkward. Well, yeah, awkward, when we’re ready to go toe-to-toe with her, y’know?

Do you think that would have been a good idea?

Hmph. Prolly not. I mean, Sigrun is A-list. Blackbird, too. But …


But I really wanted to punch something. Someone. Hard.


Why do you think? Cause of this whole gorilla body thing, and instead of going to figure that out, we’re here at a play date for Roddy and Powertronic, and these guys are treating us like we’re kids, civilians. So, yeah, lotta frustrations there. Breaking something, punching someone in the face – that might make it feel better.

Do you actually think so?

Well, it couldn’t make it feel worse.


So Sigrun’s all going on concerned about innocent visitors, and Kiln points out the whole Gothwitch thing, and Sigrun starts going on about how she’s in, what you call it, protective custody – that she’s a witness of something, and they’re keeping her safe from the “dangerous and powerful individual” who did it. Which sounded – kinda sketchy. And it’s like, so you locked up a teenager in the basement in a cell and that’s supposed to keep her safe and not scared out of her gourd, and Sigrun gets all pissy about not being a shrink and her only goal is to keep Gothwitch safe and the HHL will pay for therapy, if needed, as long as she’s still alive.


You don’t sound like you agree.

Psychiatric judgements by people without training, esp. when they have the possibility of causing long-lasting trauma – I find bothersome.

Yeah, kinda how we all felt. So we’re all, hey, then just let Roddy talk with her, then we’ll know for sure and back off. And she gets even more pissy about it, because they’re the freaking HHL, right? And how dare we come in and accuse them of doing something "bothersome,’ y’know? And Blackbird, she’s all party line, too, but a bit more calm, but not any more flexible. And it looks like maybe we’re going to end with punches when Alex suggests maybe we wait in some waiting room outta the way.
And gives us a high sign, so Sigrun has PT take us to the “lounge,” which is, like, bigger than my aunt’s house and you can see most of the downtown from it.


And soon as we’re there and PT has run off to get snacks or something, Alex said they’d tapped intot he security feed, showing them bringing Gothwitch to the building, and she’s got blood on her, really freaking out, and they take her in, but the real focus is on some big AEGIS transport truck docking to the building and something inside that being brought in.

So, perhaps, they were telling the truth?

Well, yeah, maybe, all we could tell at that point. But telling it really badly, y’know? Making it worse. So Alex, they’re monitoring Roddy, and get him to Gothwitch, and she’s apparently all upset by something she saw, and there’s not much for us to do, other than watch Alex and scarf down M&Ms, cause they have this giant bowls all over the place, and bags of chips, weird flavors. Oh, and tendies. So we’re eating well, at least. Then these alarms go off, and Alex says they’ve lost the comms contact with Roddy. And then they update us on what they say.

Except that’s not the only thing, cause Mette, she’s had this memory come back that this is the day that the HHL gets canceled.



Is that – I’m not sure what that means.

Well, could mean a lotta things, but none of them are good. So Alex shows us this pic of the bad guy that got brought in, and he’s really big, and really ugly, and made of stone –

Oh. Another one?

Yyyeah, only sorta kinda. It seems to be talking in its stasis field, which is creepy. And Kiln says – okay, this part got a little weird, and I was a bit busy staring at it to catch the whole thing, but something about this looking his old buddy Gnega, from the temple at the museum, but it’s been turned by this bad guy Kiln knows, name of Fluvis, and now its swearing allegiance to Fluvis, except it turns out it’s not Gnega but Golem, the HHL super.


Yeah. Doesn’t look like him, except for being really big and scary, and it’s locked in the basement.

Where Gothwitch is.

Yeah, like that makes sense, either. Which make me wonder, are they actually trying to keep her safe from him, or are they trying to keep Golem’s thing from becoming public?


This is the point where you’re supposed to tell me the HHL is a team of true heroes and would never do anything like that.

Is that what you want me to tell you?

I’d rather hear the truth.

The truth is, the HHL have done extraordinary things in protecting our city – our world – from various threats. We owe them a debt of gratitude. Calling people good guys or bad guys is reductionist, but, if one were forced to, the HHL would probably be classified as good guys.


The truth is, also, that the HHL members are all human – well, humans or sentients whom we can treat as human for this purpose. That means they are subject to the same foibles and flaws that any of us have.

So … they could be bad guys doing something awful.

Or good guys who are frightened and trying to deal with an extraordinary situation and making questionable decisions. Or just plain people in that same situation, trying to cope with a crisis. You’ve made mistakes under pressure. So have I. Everyone has.

So they might be trying to keep Gothwitch save … and keep her quiet until they figure out what’s going on.

And different individuals may have a different mix of those motives – or additional ones.


Did that answer your question?

I guess. Maybe? Anyway, other bad thing is that they barely seem to be keeping Golem, if that’s who it is, under control. And, on top of that Mette has another of her memory flashes, and realizes that, in her future, Golem is known as the Traitor that made her history bad. That he betrays everyone. Which … she doesn’t take well. Like she’s freaking out like Gothwitch had been. We found out more about that, later – she’d been at this thing, important private meeting thing with her parents, other important folk in the city, and the HHL, including Golem, and then he suddenly just changed and went all Tarantino on the proceedings, and Gothwitch helped the others hold him down, contain him – she thought her parents might be dead, but wasn’t sure. But Mette, she’s – it’s like this thing wasn’t just a big scary monster, but the big scary monster she’s been told stories about her whole life, except he’s real, y’know?

So … what happened?

We left.

You –

Roddy figured out how to use the power surges for the containment system to get Gothwitch and him out. And Gothwitch wanted out – she doesn’t think they can protect her there, and wants to talk with Hellbinder, and Kiln – who’s really kinda messed up by seeing Fluvis in action, same kinda thing – wants to consult with Tahi about the sitch, and so Mette calls up the Excelsior, and we get out of Dodge.

Nobody stopped you?

Think they were kinda distracted, y’know?


And that’s where things are at the moment. Nothing’s busted out of HHL HQ that I’ve heard of, but haven’t seen anything on the news about this, so who knows. Mette’s still upset, and I can’t help her. Kiln, too. Roddy’s off, sticking with Gothwitch, until she’s better. It’s all pretty much a mess. And I never did get to punch anyone in the face.

Maybe that’s for the best.

Maybe. It did feel good, kinda, to help Roddy, and Gothwitch, and to stand up to Blackbird. Protecting my people. Maybe less of just punching.


But some punching. Definitely some punching.