Masks 33.1 - Leo and Waters [Cutscene] [RP]

“You’ve been a busy beaver,” observes Agent Waters.

“You’re ‘dam’ right,” Leo answers.

Otto is parked in front of the Quill Foundation helipad. There’s no helicopter this time. What’s parked there is an enormous jet fighter, with an Otto-shaped gap in the back half. There’s no weapons - missile pods, guns, or any other sign of offensive or defensive armament. But the engines are big, and there’s some kind of additional high-tech systems under the wings.

Otto pulls forward to fill the gap. The sound of myriad connection points locking home makes itself heard, a loud pop-pop-popping and then a distinct suction sound, like being inside Tupperwear as it’s sealed.

“First time seeing a combination from inside. What do you think?” Leo asks. He’s grinning, with that unique child-like pride when someone’s opinion of your deed matters more than the deed itself.

“I think you built a jet fighter in three days.” Agent Waters is peering about him, taking in the equipment and process with a practiced eye. “The Pentagon would be very interested.”

Leo rummages through his backpack as he talks. “Jason lent me some of his facilities to mass-produce enough modules for it. We have, uh, kind of a temporary agreement right now. It’s using the standard first-generation module kit, plus Otto’s metastable hydrogen rocket design, and the levitation system Dr. Quill uh, recovered. We’re nowhere near finished, though.” He pulls out a manila folder, and hands it over to Waters for inspection.

The old man smiles, and briefly leafs through it. And you’re letting me examine it of your own free will, before my superiors order me to do so.

The conversation is familiar. It’s been going on for a decade, between man and boy. Waters remembers: You have power too, Leo. People worry about what you’ll do with it.

The next question is obvious. Waters has to ask out of duty, even though he already knows the answer. “Is it armed?”

“It could roll over your foot if you aren’t careful,” Leo replies lightly.

Otto chimes in. “Welcome aboard Newman Air. Preflight checks are complete. We’ll be departing Halcyon City in approximately two minutes. The weather is sunny and clear. Your pilot and DJ will be yours truly. Please keep your seatbelts fastened at all times, 'cause this is our first manned flight.”

Waters raises an eyebrow.

Leo tries to sound reassuring. “Don’t worry. It’s safe. Otto has an independent flight system, and there’s an emergency undock. The Phoenix is still kind of a newborn anyway. It doesn’t even have a real mind yet. Aria’s working on that. Right now, it’s just wings, body, rockets, levitation system, and sensors. There’s a genetic algorithm at the heart of it, and all it does is take wind resistance and fuel expenditure measurements, and outputs wing geometry. The plane transforms itself accordingly. Sort of teaching itself how to be an airplane.”

Waters smiles amiably at that. He’s still a little concerned - not necessarily for his own safety, but what it’ll mean once his superiors learn about this new thing.

Then again, they didn’t seem very keen on that Vector fellow’s story either. Given the choice of Rook Industries, or this young man, who would they prefer be steward of the future?

“And here we go!” Otto announces. The whole frame shakes. The feeling of wheels leaving tarmac is distinct. The docking process plunged the interior of the car into darkness, but the front panel now lights up. It’s relaying video from the front of the craft, along with radar indicators and other avionics. The Quill Compound slowly falls away, and the vehicle starts moving, upwards, and forwards. There’s a subsonic hum, then a roar as engines ignite.

Waters realizes Otto has started playing a song over the sound system. As he recognizes it, he smiles. It’s an oldie for kids like these, but very much appropriate. Well done, lads.

Into the distance, a ribbon of black
Stretched to the point of no turning back
A flight of fancy on a wind swept field
Standing alone my senses reel
A fatal attraction is holding me fast
How can I escape this irresistible grasp?
Can’t keep my eyes from the circling sky
Tongue-tied and twisted
Just an earth-bound misfit, I

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6247501

“I was kind of hoping for a giant submarine,” Otto rumbles. “Or a giant aircraft carrier. Or a giant flying aircraft carrier.” It’s the first he’s said much of anything during the flight; telemetry on Leo’s display indicates the big guy spent most of the time silently coaching Phoenix. “It’s just an island.”

“They tried the aircraft carrier thing at one point, I think,” says Waters. “Too many ‘critical failure dependencies’ or something like that. You sent the call and response?”

“Five minutes back. We’re good to go.” Otto’s voice is, at least to Leo’s ears, tight. Nervous.

And he’s not even going inside.

Waters doesn’t turn to Leo physically, but he can feel the older man’s attention shift to him all the same, as the plane begins final approach.

“Anything you need to ask or…” he hesitates, then shrugs. “Let me cut that back to ‘Anything you need,’ before we head in?”

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6248225

Leo has been thinking of the future over the last few days.

It can’t just be like Back To The Future, where people disappear into thin air when they start to mess up. There’s no physical mechanism for that. Unless time travel is really an intrusion into the past from some hypothetical other present, and you’re just “reaching into” the past through a membrane, like a glove box isolation chamber. Something could happen that would snap you back. Maybe?

He’s not sure such analogies are useful, but they’re all he has.

Maybe time travel is like creating a Newman-type AI. Time forks at a given moment, and what he’s come to think of as the Bad Future is just a fork of some prior decision. Maybe nothing he does now will shift that future’s contents, but he can still make another one. If you accepted Hugh Everett’s “many-worlds” interpretation of quantum mechanics, this sort of world-splitting happens constantly, for every quantum event. But it doesn’t give you these nice, neat, macroscopic slices of reality for time travelers to come from.

Right now, in the presence of Agent Waters, a different angle has come to him.

_Vector said they don’t know anything about what AEGIS does.

That means they may not know who or what is stashed away in black sites like this.
_
He glances around him, at Otto, imagining the nascent Phoenix outside of that. He really did do something impulsive, and potentially dangerous. The frame isn’t armed, but there’s no reason it couldn’t be.

Maybe I’m not the Bot, because in that future, I’m rotting away in a place like this. Forgotten. Alone.

The thought is honestly terrifying. More so because of the possibility that some future Leo has earned it.

The thing that’s kept me safe, and balanced, has always been my friends.

Leo pats Otto’s interior, and nods in Waters’ direction, in a gesture his pride hopes kind of ambiguously sits between “your calm presence gives me moral support, sir” and “nah, I’m 17, obviously I can handle this.”

“I have what I need,” he says with a smile.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6248288

“Avoid approaching to closely. Do not pass him anything. Decline anything he attempts to pass to you.”

The warden, or assistant warden, or whoever it was giving Leo and Waters the run down, narrowed his eyes at the younger man, detecting an eye-roll were none existed (or at least none was visible). “I understand you’re one of the new heroes of the city, and we’re all very impressed, but you’re not in your suit, kid, and this guy is dangerous in ways most people can’t even understand. We have to give him books with the spines cut off because he figured out how to turn one into a knife, and cut through a guard’s Achilles in the middle of the cafeteria.”

“We’ll be careful,” Waters murmured. “And we’re aware of how dangerous he is.”

The guard gives the agent a long look, then nods and pulls open a door. “End of the hall. I set out chairs.”

Waters nods, then hesitates. “You want me down there, or here?” He seems… unsure, which is a damned odd look on that face. “Or I can wait a bit. Or leave early. Your call.”

The guard starts to say something, but Waters kills the comment with the barest movement of his head.

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6250487

Walternate should work well, if that works for you.

Leo doesn’t roll his eyes. He might be giving off that I’m-not-listening-to-you-old-guy attitude, but that’s because he’s furiously putting together self-restraint in his mind.

_I shouldn’t have come here. I can’t listen - I have too much to say. Or I’ll be too defensive, too afraid, not strong enough to open myself up and realize whatever truth we came here to find.
_
_We were followed. There’s a mole in AEGIS, highly placed. Rook wants to break him out. The video is fake, he told them how to do it, we’re here to locate the black site so they can send a raiding party and they’re gonna descend while we’re still in here and Otto’s gonna be holding them off and he’s gonna get killed and they’ll get away with him and Waters and I will be trapped under falling rubble–
_
He shakes his head, banishing the flurry of thought.

The rest of the conversation is coming into his mind fitfully. At first he hears something. My dad murdered Achilles Chin? Holy shit. Oh, no, tendon, the Achilles tendon. Who the hell names their supervillain child after someone whose claim to fame was a weak point?

His memory helpfully reshuffles the words into something approximately correct, and his mouth twists into a jagged smile.

You idiots. He’s not dangerous because he can turn a book into a weapon and cut somebody up. He’s dangerous because he’ll do that and not even think about it. Like, yeah, I’m just gonna cut a dude today. We don’t fucking matter to him. Don’t you get it?

The thought tries to take a more productive turn, but winds up mired in paranoia again. Maybe he had his reasons, maybe he’s just feisty. Probably he had a plan. Maybe there’s like a super special solitary room where they only put guys who cut people, and that’s part of how he’ll get rescued, like, hey guys, teleport me out of these specific coordinates–

“I hear ya,” Leo says. “Wherever is fine.”

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6250642

Waters nods. “I’ll come along then, I suppose.”

The hallway is shorter than you’d expected (or perhaps hoped). Harsh lighting, but too dark in places. Smells. Chemical cleaners. Chilly.

There’s the chairs. Folding. Metal. Useful.

Cell. Glass wall with breathing holes. Habbitrail. Silence of the Lambs. Hamster Lecter.

The walls are covered in pages of books, stuck there using who knows what.

The floor is scattered with loose pages, spiral/spraying out from the man kneeling in the center of the room, reading a stack, his back to you.

“I so rarely receive visitors, and today I have two.” His voice is a resonate baritone. Confident. Vaguely annoyed.

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6250740

Other bits of imagery from the pages scribbled upon and stuck to the wall.


author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6250759

There’s a torrent of potential words here, of possible openings. Accusations, pronouncements, a classic gambit, an establishment of space, the initial thrust in some kind of verbal fencing match. And there’s still that frightened child inside him, grown into a wounded and defensive teenager, to abandon all that high-flown nonsense and just go for the cheap shot.

I hope you get a paper cut, you asshole.

Leo is gratified to learn something about himself. The storm of thought, fear, and passion that occupies his thoughts has an eye of calm at the center.

“Thought you’d like to see a familiar face.”

The only question is - will I?

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6250761

He becomes still - not ‘freezes’… it’s not tension but the complete removal of motion - at your words. Your voice.

Then: “Hello, son.” He shuffles the pages together, tapping the edges against his lap to line them up. It is, unbelievably, a nervous gesture. He looks up at a wall, then down at the papers in his hands, then another wall, then down, but not back at you. He doesn’t - won’t? - turn. "Are you well?

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6250771

Really? We’re just going to talk casually like this? Look at me, you fucking prick–

“Doing good. I’m in school. I’m building stuff.”

Information is a weapon too. Watch what you give him. Leo keeps Waters in his field of vision, waiting for those non-verbal cues he knows must be coming sooner or later.

The kidnappings, the rescues, are all nearby in his memory, waiting to be accessed if necessary. The urge to provoke rises just enough to become a polite-sounding remark.

“Otto says hi.”

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6250789

The papers on the wall are distracting. What’s he trying to say with that_. What’s he want to get out of that other one? Is that one a_ joke_? Wait, are they all connected? A map? Random association?..

_It’s like trying to have a quiet conversation in a room full of acrobats and musicians warming up.

And the bastard still hasn’t turned around, although he almost does at your last words.

“Otto? Is he here?” His head is turned just enough to see his eyebrow raised in pleased surprised. He lets out a sort of huff, somewhere between a chuckle and a grunt. “Outside, I suppose. Yes. You must tell him hello as well - I owe him a great deal.” He nods, murmuring. “A great deal. Have you -”

Finally, he starts to stand, levering himself to his feet, still clutching his reading. “Have you made any more? You must keep making more, while you can - while they can be different, when you’re young. Anything later… when you have so many memories, they will stultify. Did you bring another one with -”

He finally turns, sees Waters, and frowns - scowls, really. “AEGIS? What -”

He stops, looks around at the walls of his cell as though someone had just walked in and caught him at something mortifying, or … dangerous?

_What IS it? A plan? A diagram? There’s something there, or he wouldn’t have… dammit. Almost…

_“This is terribly disappointing, son. You simply came to verify it was me, didn’t you? You let AEGIS’s ineptitude creep in and leave little cockroach droppings of self-doubt in your head. Was it really him? Did we really catch him? Was my effort all for nothing? Pfaaah!” He waves his hand aside, limping slightly as he approaches the glass - an injury, or just stiffness from kneeling? “Doubt is for weak minds, boy; get past that - leave these ridiculous gun-toting bureaucrats to their problems. Use your gifts!

It’s all a bluff. He’s trying to get in your field of vision, waving his arms so you won’t look at anything else. The walls, the damned pages…

[Annnnd he’s also trying to shift labels. Freak up, Savior down, unless you resist.]

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6253440

Doyce T. said:

[Annnnd he’s also trying to shift labels. Freak up, Defend down, unless you resist.]

(Did you mean Danger, or Savior? I’m happy to take the shift in either case, actually)

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6253450

Bill G. said:

Doyce T. said:

[Annnnd he’s also trying to shift labels. Freak up, Defend down, unless you resist.]

(Did you mean Danger, or Savior? I’m happy to take the shift in either case, actually)

[Sorry, I meant Savior. "Leave these fools to their problems - stop caring about them. blah blah blah.

And cool if you wanna roll with that. ]

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6253458

Freak is now at 1, Savior is now at -1. I’ll do a little light reading while he’s panicking.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6253469

[Okay, there’s a custom move for the analysis, but I gotta run errands before I get back to it. Couple hours.]

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6253479

I know in my heart this move is gonna use Savior somehow. But, it feels like Leo is too keyed up and would be affected by his dad, regardless of what labels tried shifting.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6253576

When you use your Hyper-genius to break through and understand the meaning in Rossum’s Paper Matrix, open your mind to the Minion Maker’s mental magpie nest and roll +Freak.

  • 10+: The man is a fucking genius, no two ways around it. You make the connections, and as each tenuous little association on the prison walls lights up for you, a synapse or seventy fires off in your brain. Son of a bitch made a working map of the brain with a couple felt tipped pens and remaindered copies of romance paperbacks, and the reactions in your own mind as you start to understand it are…

    Ahh. Ahh you see.

    You shut down the most of what he was trying to do. No mind control, thank you. No latent memeographic attack programming either. No unconsciousness, obviously, because what are we? Savages?

    Unfortunately, the first, most straightforward, directly-aimed-at-the-chip-in-your-head effect goes through. Can’t be helped. Need to warn Otto and call the team ASAFP. Pick two things from What You Know about Rossum’s plan, and then check out **Well Shit…

    **

  • 7-9: Your dad terrifies you, and really that’s the only sane reaction anyone should have. Despite his distractions, you manage to focus on the arrangement of pages and scribbling and figure out what you’re looking at. Basic representation here… symbolic links there and there… It’s amazing. Son of a bitch made a rough model of a brain with scraps of paper. But why? Boredom? There’s no damned point–

    Ahh_GOD_dammit it’s a trap. It was all a trap.

    You stumble back from the cell, knocking Waters aside as you shake off whatever the hell that man managed to do you with with bits of paperbacks and some free time. You can hear a couple guards coming, and don’t know if that’s good or bad. Time to yell for some backup. Pick one thing from What You Know about Rossum’s Plan and then check out **Well Shit…

    **

  • **6-:

    **_It’s just… like… Ted’s… tie…

    oh **no…

    **_When you come back to yourself, Waters is unconscious and bloody, the cell is open, Rossum is nowhere to be seen, and Otto is yelling from somewhere above. Take a Powerful Blow, then check out Well Shit…

**WHAT YOU KNOW (10+ pick two; 7-9 pick one)
**

  • The Minion Maker isn’t just about making robots. It’s so obvious when you think about it. Pretty good chance he’s got behavior programming ready to kick off on every guard who’s ever spent any time around his cell. It’ll be super-subtle and latent, or AEGIS scanning would have picked up the compromised guards’ behavior patterns, but it’ll be there. (Take +1 Forward when you deal with compromised AEGIS guards.)

  • This is definitely the original, the one in the wild is the clone, and didn’t activate until Rossum went down from SNOWMAN. Oh. He got the idea for the clone imprint after figuring out what Otto was. GODdammit. He’s a sleeper agent inside Rook, probably, and the whole ‘help me Obi-wan’ bullshit was just a ruse to get us second-guessing ourselves and come visit the Real Deal. Oh, and to get 50 zillion rossum-bots out in the wild, awaiting orders from their real master. _(Take +1 forward versus the Rossumbot attacks to come.)

    _

  • He didn’t just play you. He didn’t just play AEGIS. He played everyone, including Rosa Rook, pretending to be weak enough to need to go semi-legit corporate for protection… which just got his bots in play… everywhere. (Take +1 forward to either Provoke or Pierce the Mask on Rosa Rook.)

**WELL SHIT
**Throughout Halcyon City… the Eastern seaboard… and the Bahamas…

Every single rossumbot (mostly Rook-branded, but about six months back someone at the company had the brilliant idea of small-lot lease plans to select buyers…) straightens, calibrates, and turns their head to look in a very specific, identical, direction.

Then, as one, they move to get outside (breaking anyone who tries to get in their way), their hidden impulsion drives ignite, and they tear upward into the dusky sky.

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6254246

Kaylee’s response when she didn’t get the 6- she was hoping for…

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6254257

Leo rolled an 11 on Freak?

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6254267

Go look, man - it’s in the chat log in the game. I didn’t believe it either. :slight_smile:

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6254272