46.2 - Summer Time

They should have come right back.

That was Leo’s assumption, and Summer’s as well. Aria sent her a text message to deputize her, but really, “just in case” is never the case, right?

The JHHL is off doing something interesting elsewhere - like always. The Irregulators have a street presence, but only after the recent cross-team training earned Comet’s approval, and they’re often busy with their own business. The Menagerie didn’t fight a lot of conventional villains, but being name-dropped by Vyortovia on national television got the city’s attention anyway. People know Leo is the hero Link. If he’s missing, Link is too. If the rest of the Menagerie is also missing, then who’s minding the store?

The store in question is Global Manufacturing Services. It never needed a superhero team to defend it. It has safe, dependable Rook-type security robots. Well, had. The owners had to rush to hire human replacements, and didn’t vet them carefully. That’s how a gang of high-tech thieves, posing as a low-bid security contractor, got access to the warehouse.

Summer heard the story about Alycia Chin infiltrating the Quill warehouse. That’s why, when the email thread reaches her, she believes it without much convincing. “Pass this on to Leo,” it says, and it’s from Maury Jones, forwarded from someone named Leslie, and other people she doesn’t know. The contents are a mish-mash: image files and quick clips of security-camera footage, quick scans of paperwork, and more. The gist is clear: a warehouse is going to be robbed, with loot loaded onto a series of trucks. Tonight.

Summer saw the Phoenix flying over the city earlier. At first, she was overjoyed - were they back? - but it’s the hatched egg left by the original. She could befriend it, but she doesn’t have the bond or the experience to manage it like Otto does. It would be a liability to her right now. At least Leo will be glad to know that the reincarnation program worked.

She briefly thinks about calling the cops. Or AEGIS. Ted Waters would take her call. And he’d–

He’d probably tell her what the cops would probably tell her. “We need evidence”. Weird things in Halcyon happen all the time. Concerned citizens phone them in. The police act - or hang up, if it sounds too much like a crank call, if they’re too busy, if there’s not enough people to respond.

All Summer has to go on is a series of blurry photos and supposition. Her trust in the people who sent it. And her faith in herself.

More to come soon!


author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6581157

Summer reviews her plan. All she has to do is stop the trucks en route, confine the thieves to the area, and wait until the police arrive. The cargo in the trucks won’t match the manifest, and the law can take care of the rest. This will all work out. Right?

She feels her body change, the modules flipping in place, her skin becoming a featureless white armor coating. Specialized modules loop her hair into place, then tug it into prepared recesses. Her figure is still feminine, a sure sign that she isn’t Link up close, but hopefully in the confusion nobody will notice.

We’ll play this out as a solo scene. Radiance has Danger +1, Mundane +2, all other stats at +0. Her only relevant combat move is “The Mask”, letting her swap Mundane and Freak once per session. Knowing she’ll be going into battle, she describes her transformation into an armored hero.

The flight modules work just fine in her transformed state. By the time she’s in the air and en route, the sun has set. She knows the warehouse address, knows what the trucks should look like from the logo on their website, and guesses they’ll be traveling together. Hovering high over the warehouse, she spots the tiny outlines of four trucks parked at the loading bay.

The trucks are en route to a destination. The GM starts a countdown clock to measure their progress, with five boxes. The GM can make a move to advance the clock by one box.

Mrs. Dorsey drove trucks. She remembers, through Leo’s memories, some of that knowledge. Trucks are big, slow, and hard to maneuver. Trucks can have air-braking systems. Air pressure around a truck in motion does strange things. People sometimes try to improve their car mileage by driving directly behind a big rig, but it’s unsafe.

How am I going to stop these vehicles without damaging the cargo - my evidence - or endangering lives? Summer realizes she doesn’t know, and realizes that while she’s been thinking about it, they’ve pulled out and are on their way!

Radiance wants to Assess the Situation, describing her family familiarity with truck driving. She rolls +Superior, but gets a 5! The GM marks off one of the five countdown boxes, and Radiance marks potential.

Without a better plan, she streaks forward and downward. Maybe they’ll listen to reason. I mean, they have to know I can just smash their trucks, right?

She drops in front of the lead truck, about twenty feet away, and keeps pace with it. “THIEVES! HALT!” she shouts, holding up a hand in what she hopes is a forbidding and impressive gesture.

Radiance wants to try to get them to stop - even if it means engaging in a gun battle or something, she’d rather have the trucks motionless. She Provokes the lead driver, rolling +Superior again. This time, she gets a 9. The GM chooses for the driver to stumble, giving her +1 forward.

Inside the cab, she can see two figures: one driver, one passenger. Both are wearing balaclavas. The driver has a pistol slung in a chest holster. The passenger is cradling a submachine gun of some kind. Though clearly ready for action of some kind, neither of them apparently expected a superhero!

Summer can see the driver mouth an obscenity and yank furiously at the wheel, trying to dodge. Well, they’re distracted anyway. There’s plenty of room inside the truck cab, and she’s not very big. Would it work…?

She knots herself up into a ball, spins around in place, and crashes through the windshield.

Radiance is Directly Engaging, hoping to catch the thieves by surprise and maybe stomp on the brakes. She rolls +Danger, taking +1 forward. She gets an 8, letting her pick one. She chooses to “take something from them”: control of the truck. In return, she marks Insecure - she feels she’s botching her first attempt at loving heroism!

The passenger, a woman by her build, aims a savage elbow at her head, while the driver fumbles for his pistol. Summer feels the dull thud of impact. She kicks the driver’s feet out of the way, and savagely stomps down on what she hopes is the brake. She’s rewarded by the sound of squealing brakes. Behind her, a growing chorus of similar sounds can be heard. The other trucks.

Summer slugs the driver, to keep him from regaining control. The passenger throws open her door and leaps out of the truck.

She sees the lights of the other trucks dart past. The three other vehicles are still moving, probably under orders to continue no matter what. Radiance worries for a moment. That escaped thief could regain control of this truck if she isn’t dealt with - or might just get away into the night. She wastes a few moments agonizing over the apparent dilemma, then realizes that she’s being stupid. She grabs the steering column in one hand and wrenches it loose. Screeching metal is the only protest the truck can offer. Nobody will be driving it now. On the other hand, she just cost somebody a truck…

She launches herself into the air again, streaking low along the road behind the trucks. Now where did you go…?

One truck down, three to go. More on the way soon.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6581175

I’m enjoying this solo scene of Radiance in action. Great job, Bill! Can’t wait to see the next part.

author: Mike
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6581250

The streets are too brightly lit and busy for Summer to get a sense of where the other trucks have gone. She’s grateful for the tip-off about the theft, but oh, it would have been so much easier if they’d included a route! She gains altitude again, looking for any signs of a trio of lights moving rapidly on the streets.

Rather than Assessing the Situation, the GM rules this is Unleashing Your Powers, as Summer’s powers are being used to extend her senses. She rolls a 10, a full hit.

There they are! Summer follows the path of the road being taken, and realizes the trucks must be heading for a freeway on-ramp. Changing course, and pouring on the power, she darts downward again to intercept.

I should have marked the position of that first truck somehow, she tells herself bitterly. I should get some cheap and disposable phones with GPS, dial the cops, and leave them behind.

There’s movement on top of one of the trucks. Summer strains her eyes to make it out in the darkness. Then she hears the whoosh, and sees the backblast, and realizes what happened. Someone just shot a rocket at me!

Radiance must Take a Powerful Blow from the hand-held SAM launcher used by the thieves’ leader. She has one condition marked, so rolls at +1 and gets an 8. Looking at the options, she doesn’t like any of them, but grudgingly chooses “give ground, your opposition gets an opportunity”. The GM marks a second box on the countdown clock for the trucks.

Dodging the surface-to-air missile takes but a moment. Making sure the SAM doesn’t just fall into some residential area and explode takes quite a bit longer, but Summer’s back on the hunt soon enough.

The trucks are crossing an extended overpass, held up by concrete pillars. Summer dives low, weaving between the supports at high speed, putting the road between her and the trucks as cover. Ahead, she spots an opportunity - there’s a new ramp that’s under construction. She doesn’t have to pull the trucks off the road, just steer one onto the half-built ramp. The driver will stop, rather than plunge over the edge, and in that time she can puncture the tires or something. All she has to do is swing up around the ramp, use one of her grapples, grab the steering wheel through the window - or just the cab - and–

Radiance Unleashes Her Powers, hoping to reshape the environment by steering the truck onto a dead end. She rolls +Freak for a 6, and marks potential again. The GM describes where she is, and asks her to mark a condition. She chooses Angry…

–Well that could have gone better.

Summer wonders briefly what Leo and Aria are doing. They’re probably engaging in exciting time travel shenanigans, while she’s here, stuck, being dragged underneath a 50-foot-long truck thanks to her grappling line having grabbed hold of the front bumper by accident. She can hear the sound of concrete being abraded away by friction under her, feel the innumerable bumps and rough texture of the road scraping at her back.

Grumbling, she aims two more grapples at the axles to her left and right. She’ll probably lose them, but she’s kind of annoyed right now.

Radiance Unleashes Her Powers again, in another attempt to stop the truck. This time, she rolls 12 - a full hit!

The cables get meshed up into the rapidly rotating axle. As she detaches them from her body, she feels the whole vehicle shudder. Torque mulches the wheels. The axle parts, and the whole truck falls toward the road. Which is beneath her. The truck is above her.

Oh, bitchcakes.

Summer tears bodily through the shell of the tortured truck, knocking two very surprised thieves unconscious, and bolts with furious speed and fierce intent toward the two remaining vehicles.

More on the way.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6581267

Ahead of her, the trucks are pulling to a stop. Summer can see figures getting out as she rockets down out of the night air. There’s five of them, all armed. Two of them have SAM launchers, like before. She ducks and twists as the weapons fire.

Radiance must Take a Powerful Blow again, but with two conditions marked. She rolls a 6, and marks potential.

The SAMs are tube-launched rockets, and don’t reload fast. Everyone else is armed with SMGs or pistols. Summer clenches her fists together in front of her and dives like a missile with a punch at the end of it.

Radiance wants to Directly Engage the group. She rolls +Danger and gets a 7, choosing to resist or avoid their blows. In return, she knocks out one of the five.

Almost too late, she realizes that she’ll probably perforate anyone she hits moving at this speed, and turns her attack into a landing. The guy in front her draws a pistol, but she doesn’t flinch or hesitate. After all, why?

Leo practiced boxing well before he created Pneuma, and those reflexes are alive and well in her body. She throws a punch at the temple, twisting her hips, concentrating and measuring her force. The armed thief falls with a thud, and she follows up, kneeling, ready to strike again if he’s still awake.

She feels the impacts like raindrops, senses the steel flattening against her invulnerable skull, hears the loudest sound ever. She glances left and spots the source. Two of the thieves have raised black assault rifles at her and are squeezing off bursts.

Though she has no visible face right now, she earnestly prays her body language conveys just how incredulous she feels. She’s not being hurt by this, but more importantly… Maybe they need to hear it. “Your guy is right here! You want 'em to get shot by accident?”

Radiance tries to Provoke the gunmen into giving up. She rolls +Superior and gets a 7. This isn’t enough to get them to stop, but they hesitate, giving her +1 forward. She decides to try and grapple their guns away. The GM rules this is a Directly Engage. She rolls +Danger and gets 10, a full hit. She chooses “resist or avoid their blows” and “take something from them” (their weapons).

The thieves glance at each other, shrug a little, and lower their weapons. In that moment, Summer’s shoulder-mounted grapples lash out as one. As the rifles are snatched out of the thieves’ hands, both of them complete the slow path to enlightenment, and both kneel on the road in apparent surrender. Good enough. Now where did those other two go?

Summer always did love the sound of a truck horn. She’d make the honk-honk gesture in a car whenever a truck was nearby, and the result was always gratifying.

This time, the sound of an approaching truck’s horn doesn’t make her happy at all.

The GM asks for one more Take a Powerful Blow, and she rolls at +2 for her marked conditions, getting a 10. She doesn’t want to get taken out, but the “seriously injured” option from Masks: Unbound sounds interesting. She opts for that, taking -1 ongoing until she gets treated.

The truck rams into her, leaving a Summer-shaped dent in the grill. The driver apparently plans to send her over the edge of the overpass, but misjudges the truck’s braking. Summer crashes through the concrete divider, but so does the truck - and she sees the suddenly terrified faces of two very mortal human beings in the cab. Her grappling lines lash out–

Radiance wants to Defend the two thieves from being hurt. She rolls +Savior. She’s Insecure, and at -1, but still gets an 8! On a hit, she keeps them safe, and chooses one. She could clear one of her two conditions, but she sees another angle: by saving lives, maybe she can get some of these people to come over to her side. She chooses to take Influence over one of the thieves. On a 7-9, the Defend will cost her.

She is now all that’s holding the truck up from a long fall. Her grappling lines have a grip on the overpass, but it won’t last - she can already hear the cracking noises as the material gives way to the strain. “Out!” she shouts, and the two take the opportunity to scramble out of the tractor cab. The concrete wall splits a few seconds later, and the truck topples toward the ground, with Summer beneath it.

There’s a crash, and a settling, and a cloud of dust.

Oh, right. I have thrusters now.

By the time Summer pushes the tractor off the top of her, the police have arrived on the scene. She flies unsteadily from ground level to the overpass, and lands roughly. One of the cops sees her in the distance, and waves. “Link! Hey. Good job. We’ve got it from here.”

Still in armored form, Summer rings the doorbell at the Quill house.

I need a mechanic’s shop. And a nap.

Final tally: if this had been a real session, she would have earned 3 potential and taken two conditions (Angry and Insecure). She can clear Angry at the end of the scene, for having broken something important (the trucks she hoped to protect). Her labels at the end are Freak +2, Danger +1, and all others at +0. She got to use all the basic moves except for Comfort & Support and Pierce the Mask, and got to use her core Janus move as well.

She should be able to get help from Jason’s labs to clear her -1, and a follow-up scene might have her talking to him (or someone else) to trigger “I am what you see” or a Comfort & Support. This might let her clear Insecure, and/or mark more potential.

Thanks for reading! I’d like to hear any feedback or opinions anyone has with the session, both mechanically or fictionally.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6581409

Other notes: all the rolls are legit - I marked conditions and used Roll20’s dice and so on. Check the chat log if you want to see it play out.

If this plot were to continue (it shouldn’t, but hypothetically), we might learn that Rook hired thieves like this to hit their former customers, hoping to drive those people back to buying their security robots again. With Influence over one of the grateful thieves, Summer might be able to extract some kind of confession or clue that points the story in that direction. We might also follow up on which of the Ponies’ friends found this lead to begin with, and see where that goes.

I’m a fan of 6- results not causing the character to fail, but for bad things to happen. For example, what would happen if Summer failed to Defend the thieves? They’d probably jump out of the cab just in time, but wind up shooting at her with pistols or something. What she’d fail at was getting Influence over them, or otherwise getting any kind of positive benefit from the action.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6581433

Bill G. said:

I’m a fan of 6- results not causing the character to fail, but for bad things to happen. For example, what would happen if Summer failed to Defend the thieves? They’d probably jump out of the cab just in time, but wind up shooting at her with pistols or something. What she’d fail at was getting Influence over them, or otherwise getting any kind of positive benefit from the action.

I liked that too. I’m always a fan of “you got what you wanted, but it didn’t turn out how you’d imagined it,” which is basically how Summer trying to turn the truck into the unfinished ramp went. That example, however, was also a slightly toothless result. The situation didn’t change much beyond “well, you’re under the truck now” and I always like something to change about a situation where what you were trying to do is no longer viable or the most important thing at the moment if you fail, but even though the outcome was "well, I’ll try it again, it also seemed like it worked in the narration.

I guess what I’m trying to say is “that shouldn’t have worked, but it did that time.”

Liked the whole “scene” though. If this is what we can expect out of Summer on the team, I’m looking forward to it.

author: Mike
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6581459

Mike said:
I liked that too. I’m always a fan of “you got what you wanted, but it didn’t turn out how you’d imagined it,” which is basically how Summer trying to turn the truck into the unfinished ramp went. That example, however, was also a slightly toothless result. The situation didn’t change much beyond “well, you’re under the truck now” and I always like something to change about a situation where what you were trying to do is no longer viable or the most important thing at the moment if you fail, but even though the outcome was "well, I’ll try it again, it also seemed like it worked in the narration.

She took a condition, and we could have moved the countdown clock forward as well. What we took off the table was the “disable the truck without violence” option she wanted, which might not feel like much in the moment, but could come back later if the GM wanted.

Edit: also, the comedy option of “well now you’re being dragged under a truck” would have been totally fine with me as a GM. :slight_smile:

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6581471

Bill G. said:

Edit: also, the comedy option of “well now you’re being dragged under a truck” would have been totally fine with me as a GM. :slight_smile:

I believe it’s that comedy aspect that worked so well. Going from “I’m going to stop this truck” to “I bet everyone else is having a great time” is really fun.

author: Mike
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6581503

Two words that would strike horror into Alycia’s heart, “loving heroism”.

I suspect conversations will need to occur.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6582118

So this was great stuff, both as a mechanics exercise and as a character exercise.

I’m loving Summer here. She reminds me of certain iterations of Supergirl… The strength, the nigh-invulnerability, the cheer, the naivete, the desire and drive for what’s humanly right…

(Oh, crap. That makes me Batman.)

Looking forward to more. Thanks, Bill!

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6582189

*** Dave H. said:

(Oh, crap. That makes me Batman.)

Oh no, what an awful fate! :slight_smile:

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6582689

Bill G. said:

*** Dave H. said:

(Oh, crap. That makes me Batman.)

Oh no, what an awful fate! :slight_smile:

Closer, perhaps, to the Cassandra Cain Batgirl. Broken child prodigy killer seeking redemption / humanity.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6585385

Writing this helped me crystallize an idea for a new/unified tech base for Summer. She’s got a jumble of tech in her current body, but there’s something that could pull it all together and make it work.

Can you build a robot skeleton out of small - but not nanoscale - robots? Not nanomachines, but micromachines. They would be modeled on butterflies - a narrow central shaft, containing sensors and basic electronics, and the ‘wings’ being electromagnetic emission systems. The emitters would do double duty as hard-light emitters and levitation devices.

Could you build a whole body out of them? Maybe. If we divided this branch of the tech tree into generations, like Leo’s tech, it might look like this:

  1. Dual-use Emitter: a simple module type that can levitate, fly, exert force, and project solid holograms.
  2. High-Rez Emitter: replaces the need for physical skin by projecting a hologram with enough fidelity to feel and work like human tissue.
  3. Smart Mesh: almost all of the body can be made up of the new module type, and she could separate parts of it out as remote sensors, to project a large force field dome, or for other purposes.
  4. Regenerative Mesh: using principles similar to the Phoenix egg, the emitters can now project a scaffold for real atoms. Rather than just creating holograms, Summer could synthesize new modules (giving her a healing factor) or create solid objects, like weapons or tools.
  5. Hyper Mesh: Summer’s own brain can now be federated throughout the modules, essentially turning her whole body into a tightly packed bundle of robot butterflies. She could split up, separate, or rebuild herself even if most of the modules were destroyed.

Relevant Power Listing entries: Light Solidification, Machine Swarming, Regenerative Healing Factor

TL;DR a magical girl with a body of butterflies.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6587787

If there’s someone I would assume is a magical girl full of butterflies, it would be Summer. Even if Alycia would roll her eyes. “SERIOUSLY?”

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6588078