MENAGERIE #32 - FUTURE. TENSE. [Recap]

4m30s

Concord is heading home. Alycia is heading back with Parker. Ghost Girl returns to the cemetery. Mercury goes quietly to the Gale estate.
Concord does not mention to the parents that Jason’s house tried to eat the team, or that someone tried to blow them up. His parents are adopting a “you’re in more trouble if you don’t tell us what went wrong”.

7m45s

Ted Waters rides along with Leo, Otto, and Aria, rather than go with the AEGIS convoy hauling Vector to custody. Summer went home as well, using public transportation (she can’t fly yet). After some small talk… Waters checks for pursuit with Otto, but there’s none apparent.
Waters references the Rossum recording Leo passed along, which was surprising. According to AEGIS records (that Waters has access to), Rossum is still in custody. He’s in some kind of super-secret black site secure site. Waters can’t physically confirm that he’s in jail. Theories are: “we think we had him but we never did”, “someone within AEGIS is covering up his absence”, “someone within AEGIS is compromised by Rook”, and variations on this theme.

Leo: “we could use Concord to compel truth if you can get ahold of whatever Rossum your records say you have.” Waters doesn’t know what he can do about it. Waters needs approval from higher-ups for some of this, and risks official censure as well if he pushes too hard. Also, if he talks to a mole or double-agent, the investigation is compromised.

Waters checks with Leo about sharing the Rossum recording. Leo approves and trusts Waters’ discretion and judgement. “Shine a light on something, and all the cockroaches go scurrying”. Leo: secrets are my enemy. Waters: secrets are my business.

Leo outlines worst case scenario if he’s attacked: he becomes a living Von Neumann machine, endlessly replicating copies of his mind into invulnerable android bodies, and dedicates his life to taking down whoever hurt him. Waters understands, but also knows that this kind of talk would set off big alarms if it was widespread.

It’s possible the Rossum they have is an actual clone. Leo thinks it’s out of character for Rossum to build a rival or equal, but it’s a potential desperation play. It would also mean that Rossum had advance notice of the AEGIS raid that captured him (or anticipated it on his own) - which would suggest a mole, if that was the case.

Otto is quiet because he’s mostly in agreement with Leo and doesn’t want to snark, but that’s his persona.

22m45s

What’s up with Vyortovia? Waters: Congress doesn’t want you doing anything. We had a subcommittee chair in our HQ a few days ago.
Strangely, that guy didn’t seem concerned about Charade or the risk of her reveal. Waters is unclear about Congress’ motives regarding Vyortovia. Waters: “you let me go on long enough, and I might suggest you should go talk to them anyway, so you should shut me up”.

Leo looks for legal loopholes or the possibility of asylum with another nation if he negotiates on their behalf - playing chicken with Congress. Waters will help to figure that out. Leo can take a vacation to Foggy Bottom. Vyortovia might go through State to AEGIS, but might also try to contact the Menagerie directly. They’ve played ball with international community in the past, but are now taking a new tack. Nobody’s sure why they only want to talk to the Menagerie.

W: How about the HHL?
L: They’ve been pretty quiet.
W: The whole League is on their back heels, if someone stirs up trouble, you guys might need to handle it.

Leo speculates that Vector stole the Heart Factory (Leo’s tech) because Quill tech would all blow up/catch fire.

35m40s

What’s going on at Concord’s place? Lights are still on. Sgt. Amari is on 6-8 week cycles (day vs. night shift). Family is watching some AMC-Netflix nonsense, everyone thinks it’s terrible. Mom loves documentaries. Dad likes escapist TV, no crime dramas (“What? No! That’s wrong!” Some digression into authenticness in TV).

Fam: I heard the local police got a call to the Quill Foundation. Everything okay?
Adam: Nothing worse than normal.
Mom: Oh my word. Is everyone safe?

Family has caught on that he’s despondent, but don’t know why.

How was first day of new school? It was okay. New friends? Random people - Jerry, Eric in Chemistry. Mom asks indirectly if they’re supers - they aren’t. Mom approves. Dad thinks it’s good to have non-super friends, people outside “the life”, to keep a better perspective.

Mom ships Superchica-Concord (!). Dad wanted to meet her, has a few concerns. She seemed “proprietary” to mom. Adam locks up.

Mom: New rule: “no visible use of powers where anybody on the street can see.” Tell your friends. We had that unfortunate situation with Mr. Quill. Keri seems nice but is fairly well known. Jordan knew immediately who she was. Our house will not be a hub of superheroic activity, for safety. Same rules for father’s work apply to son’s work. Label shift: +Danger -Mundane (how she sees Adam, rather than how she wants him to be).

Dad: we’re proud of what you’re doing, you are doing good work. Your job has responsibilities, the way mine does. Welcome to the Big Boys Club.
Fam: Did you have a good time with your friends?
Adam: “…They were really supportive?”

I had to do a thing during V. invasion, which hurt, but was necessary to keep everyone safe. Mom is worried, offers a doctor, but it won’t help.

Mom isn’t clued in on Sol situation, but Dad knows him from training. Dad takes Adam away to talk about it. Dad asks about Sol, recognizes the look of a lost partner immediately. “Sol sacrificed himself so I could get out of there”. Dad thinks of Sol as the source of his powers. Adam just says his powers are capital-W Weird & he doesn’t understand. Is someone helping you sort this out? Harry’s trying to help, Keri’s helping, Leo’s taking this really bad. Dad: why? - oh, of course. If Link needs to talk to someone, I might offer some advice.

Dad: I don’t understand the glowy stuff, but I understand partners and sacrifice. You’re worth what he did, you need to know that. That’s the hardest thing to realize after the fact. You gotta respect that decision. Adam gives dad a big hug.

PS: don’t tell mom. There’s nothing she can do now, and it would just ratchet up her stress levels needlessly. You don’t LIE, but there’s things about the job that they just shouldn’t hear.

Brush your teeth - get to bed - it’s late.

1h7m10s

Leo got a late-night text from Sgt. Amari asking for a ride to school from Adam on Tuesday, Leo’s okay with that. Dad did NOT mention this to Adam. Jordan is gushing about Power Rangers Ninja Steel (mom relied too heavily on Netflix recommendations). Her former favorite is Yellow Ranger, current favorite is White Ranger.

(NONO POWER RANGER!)

Leo + Otto + Aria show up at the house. Aria is enjoying being chauffeured.

Dad: how are things with you?
Leo: (I’m being fished by a cop. Visible hesitation)

Dad saw Link with team, is acknowledging weight of responsibility. “If you think it’s your fault, that’s right - and wrong. If you want to talk about it, you know where I live.” Dad thinks Leo is doing well by team overall. As a cop, contractually obligated to have beef with supers, but as dad, seen good things. Dad: would try to shift +Superior -Mundane, but Leo is nigh invulnerable.

Leo: I’ll take you up on that sometime. Hey, come back & help us train again. Dad: alright mate.

Adam feels suspicious about dad’s motives here. Dad: “oh look, a wild teenager has appeared”.

(Assorted kibitzing follows)

1h26m45s

(Assorted kibitzing ends)

Adam is ready to have the guilt talk with Leo. Requisite awkward silence. Adam takes the nicer tack (as opposed to the brutal merciless Powerful Blow approach).

Adam: You’d have nothing to blame yourself for.

Leo: I have boxes of blame at home.

Adam argues that we had to do SOMETHING, that only he could have done something about the Keynome.

Leo argues leaders bear responsibility for their decisions, that responsibility demands we always evaluate our other options, even after the fact. Leo’s trying to argue guilt for himself via rationalization.

Aria: “You do need to think about everything, don’t just assume you’ll do the right thing every time. People who always assume they’re right are usually the bad guys. But this feels like you two trying to blame yourselves or having a contest.” She feels ooky about this. “You sound like you don’t like yourself, nobody gets to pick on my boyfriend, including my boyfriend”. To Adam: “you sound a little too doomed, we had that from Jason, I’m over it.”

Aria: Adam, you can do the big hard things, but you’re not the only one, it doesn’t have to be just you. It could have been any of us. But who knows what would have been different.
Otto: Keri thinks you’re worth working on.
Adam: Sol kept secrets of his own, he didn’t tell anyone he was hurt, damaged, or broken. He only told me when it was happening.
Aria: That makes him a qualified member of the Menagerie.
Leo: When we are hurt, damaged, or broken, we need to tell each other.

Otto lightens the mood with music. Leo concedes, will stop beating himself up.

1h39m30s
What happens to Leo on Tuesday? Ultimately not much - Leo wants to talk to Alycia about something [to be handled later]. Some of the gossip girls do stare & whisper as Leo walks past. Stuff that could happen sooner or later:

  • Taz & Nono could ambush at any moment
  • Predatory Science department head stalks Leo
  • Lacrosse practice - members of team might expect Leo/Trace rivalry?
  • Seeds of gossip have been planted
  • Possibly a science team or secret DOD/Real Genius type project
  • Doyce approves of Quill-funded Ponies mission control.

What happens to Adam? First day of Speech class, first thing he does is give introduction speech. Adam stands up, inhales, runs to the bathroom, and vomits (clear Afraid). Teacher gives him a pass, he got full points anyway.

Keri at lunch: “Hey, I heard you puked in speech class”.
Adam: “I don’t have biological functions as Concord”.
Keri: “That’s not even fair.”

1h49m00s

Leo can come over & meet with Vector. He can bring a guest - Concord.

On the way, Leo & Otto trade banter about school, class, and homework. Otto is unhappy that Adam threw up, nervous about upholstery. Adam actually doesn’t like flying when not Concord.

Otto freezes up talking about Forza, Leo gets Jaws of Life & extracts truth. Otto references Ponies AMA question from Proud Mary. The name is familiar to him, though he tries to play it off.

Otto is awkward. Leo: “they asked me about my underwear, you can talk about this”.

Otto explains Mary’s a girl on the forums. She figured out Otto is a superhero robot car, somehow. She wants to meet IRL. Otto got spooked and has backed off of forums, stopped answering PMs and texts.

Leo: “What do YOU want to do?” Otto: “umm.” “I want to not NOT talk to her. She says I LIKE like you. What do I do with that?”

Otto asks Adam as well. Adam responds with Leo’s advice about Keri: “don’t do things that bother you, set boundaries, honesty, courage, and love.” Otto: “That guy is full of crap”.

Leo when hearing someone use his advice back against Otto:

Leo & Adam double-team Otto: “Where could I meet her? I can’t meet her in a coffee shop.” “Yes, you’re a robot car, but if you’re dating a racing fan, that is to your advantage.” Various date/encounter options are proposed.

Leo reaffirms Otto is his own person, car shell is HIS body, he can drive around with whoever he wants.

Adam: “You really haven’t thought of that at all.” Otto: “… No.” Adam: “What’s the worst that can happen?” Leo: “She could turn out to be Alycia Chin.”

2h6m30s

We haven’t rolled dice yet. Let’s talk to Vector.

Waters is around but this isn’t his scene. Vector is still in the “suit” - it’s more like a partial cyborg conversion or prosthesis. There’s an actual dude in there, he can retract the mask to be seen. He’s not genius enough to create the suit himself.

V: “Hey”. L: “WHAT THE FUCK?”

This was an assignment - fetch & retrieve. Oh, you’re upset about the bombs? Nothing personal. He was given a specific assignment to retrieve the item at that moment. He seems reluctant to talk to avoid changing the future.

Leo: “the only way you’re getting back to this future you’re concerned about is to talk to us”. (Persuade with best interest -> 12).

Vector thinks he could have made a clean break with the Heart Factory, and that the team would have survived the bombing.

In the future, corporations run everything, have all the tech, control everything, sell immortality. Corps have unlimited General Issue soldiers. Vector’s group is an anti-corporate group called the Chaos Agents. Vector repeats a thing their leader “Bot” said, that sounds exactly/eerily like what Leo said to Waters earlier, about protecting family and making copies of himself.

“What does he look like?” “Looks like a dude except he’s a robot. Some say it’s a suit…” Bot apparently doesn’t have any close family - bad stuff happened. Apparently corp soldiers are rare & expensive. Bot seems to be using Leo’s tech but doesn’t have a Heart Factory of his own, also needs a molecular lathe.

Vector doesn’t know how he traveled back in time - “Bot did it”. There’s a way back, involving a specific moment to rendezvous and at a certain speed. There’s a window of a week or so.

Vector doesn’t actually mind living in the present - it’s a nice place & time. He seems resigned to his failure.

Leo pulls Adam to the side: “I got an idea.”

Leo wants Concord to use his powers to link Vector’s memories to him, letting him re-interpret them with his own scientific perspective. Mike: “shift my labels.” Leo gives Concord a pep talk, you can do this + “this is my future, I gotta fix this shit”. +Freak -Mundane.

Concord does the thing but it’s icky. Burn (9) + spend team (10) + Overcharge + unleash powers to get a 10+ on unleash your powers.

Leo: Assess the Situation/Pierce the Mask weird hybrid question. Superior/Mundane 11.

Questions: if Bot is Future Leo, how could he not have his own Heart Factory and other tech? Bot has gone on rants about misusing all this tech, seems intimately familiar with all the applications of it. For some reason, he can’t access that information - how to make one.

One other thing: The Bot secretly thinks the bombing + theft wasn’t actually going to work. He was trying to arrange this interview at AEGIS, and goad Leo into voluntarily giving up the tech.

Leo: “we’ll see about that.”

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6222562

Ooooooh.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6227267

https://youtu.be/5d6X_ZYKJA0 is the session recording though I would skip ahead to 5 minutes when I remembered to turn on my mic.

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6227296

I’m watching it tonight and doing the recap, sorry for the delay.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6227323

No rush. :slight_smile:

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6227354

END OF SESSION: Leo, closer to Adam. Adam, closer to Leo.

Okay, the original post has been fully populated with a reasonably complete recap! Let me know if I missed anything.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6227635

Some notes on what the Bot ought to have access to, and why he might not:

Leo has said before that no matter what your tech base happens to be, if you are interfacing with a human brain, there’s only a few ways to really do it, because brains work their own way. So a lot of this stuff will plug together for that reason.

Leo’s neurochip outputs a connectome (mind map) using RNDF-5, or Rossum Digital Neural Format, version 5. This is a custom representation that his father came up with, probably based on existing neuroscience in this universe. This is just a file format, the same way you can save music using MP3, FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec), or OGG (Ogg Vorbis), or a text document in PDF, Word, or Markdown formats.

The Heart Factory will work with any connectome format it has been programmed to recognize. This includes RNDF, but could include anything else. This is how Jason was able to connect with Summer, because his nanobots are literally an extension of his brain, and they just managed to bridge into a second one (hers).

Part of Jason’s prep for the merge would be working with Summer to build some simple adaption hardware, to let his nanobots talk to the Heart Factory - or just assume his nanobots infested one of the “blank” brains in the machine itself, and it operated on that and through to his brain by proxy. Alycia got it because she was able to connect via Jason’s nanobots in the same way.

Leo’s robots (Otto, Aria, and Summer) all have electro-mechanical brains that can be programmed via this format. They have read-write equivalents of the neurochip, so Leo has been able to replicate this much of his dad’s tech independently. SNOWMAN was also created after Otto, and so inherited Leo’s knowledge about the Heart Factory and brain programming. So basically, any version of Leo who used this tech ought to be able to replicate it.

So what does this leave us? In order from most to least likely:

  1. The Bot is Leo, but his memories have been been deliberately messed with - for example, via Hecate or some other kind of Veil effect, or some high-tech meddling by these evil future corporations.
  2. The Bot is Leo Snow from a universe where “our” Leo’s history with this neurotech happened a different way, or didn’t happen - for example, one where Rossum corrected the damage via retroviral surgery, nanotech, or some other means. Someone else was responsible for these innovations.
  3. The Bot isn’t actually our Leo, but a convincing-sounding fake.
  4. The Bot is Leo, but his memories were corrupted or lost - for example, brain damage before or during a transfer to a robot shell.
  5. There’s non-time-travel shenanigans going on, and someone went to enormous lengths (and has enormous power to do so).

There’s other possibilities, but these feel like the most likely. You can also read the Bot as Otto or the girls, without changing most or all of these general explanations - they know as much as he does (and in a couple cases, a little more) about the neurotech.

In options 1, 2, or 3, what the Bot would be hoping for is not only a new Heart Factory and molecular lathe, but also a copy of Leo’s own mind - so that the Bot could get the knowledge he apparently lacks. Option 4 would need an absurdly specific set of circumstances to pull off (anyone who’s curious can ask me for details). Option 5 is probably possible, but would need serious effort - more than the Heart Factory is worth.

Leo’s major reason not to get with the Bot’s program is that this jackoff didn’t just ask. He sent Vector back to do a thing that could have hurt Leo’s friends and family (that’s what happens when you bomb our living room, no matter what excuses you give about Quill House blowing up or “superheroes could handle it”), and that is exactly how you get on Leo’s bad side.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6227681

FWIW, I have an “Alycia dream sequence in her cell that night” post that I’ve been tapping away at whilst on vacation. I’ll try to do something about actually finishing it this weekend. :slight_smile:

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6227921

2h6m30s

We haven’t rolled dice yet.

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6228376

On that note, no powerful blows either, though Leo probably has one coming after being shown a Bad Future where he screwed the pooch some how. And another if you are bored, after hearing that AEGIS as a whole is probably useless for holding his dad. Deal em out at.your leisure. :slight_smile:

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6228399

Powerful blows are tricky! Sometimes they’re obvious, but sometimes what I think might be one is kind of “ehhhhhhh” for the player.

So: I need to ask more.

Maybe we’ll have one of those “right after the guys walk out of the interview room, and Leo lets his guard down, Boom.” type of things.

(Side note: one of my favorite things about Dogs in the Vineyard was the way damage from a conflict didn’t “land” until right AFTER the conflict. It got you to a really interesting Old West vibe where there was a flurry of gunfire, silence, and then someone looked down at their stomach and went “oh shit…” The delayed Powerful Blow feels a bit like that.)

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6228420

Here and now, it definitely feels like a delayed reaction is appropriate, yeah. Either TAPB, or just flat out say “mark Hopeless” or something, as Leo comes down off his aggression high and has to start coping. Especially because I literally opened myself to this dude’s own memories of this future.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6228444

The Bot is Leo, but his memories were corrupted or lost - for example, brain damage before or during a transfer to a robot shell.

Option 4 would need an absurdly specific set of circumstances to pull off (anyone who’s curious can ask me for details).

As I admitted during the session, I was putting the future world together as I went, so I haven’t entirely nailed this down - and honestly, I’m not 100% sold on “Bot = Leo mk1” in any case. BUT: where does “some kind of attack/event that should have killed him but instead fragmented his memories” fall: 1 or 4? (If 4, I may need some info on what that’d theoretically look like.)

Again, this is mostly at “research” stages.

Leo’s major reason not to get with the Bot’s program is that this jackoff didn’t just ask. He sent Vector back to do a thing that could have hurt Leo’s friends and family (that’s what happens when you bomb our living room, no matter what excuses you give about Quill House blowing up or “superheroes could handle it”), and that is exactly how you get on Leo’s bad side.

Entirely fair, though Vector did provide the logic for that - if the Heart Machine was lost during one of the “45 or so” Quill Compound explosions noted in Vector’s history, then the effect on the time stream is pretty much undetectable. Still WAY too ‘easy expediency’ and the plan is… casually dismissive of risk, if not also unnecessarily complicated, but from a time stream theoretics point of view, it checks out. Vector’s own paranoia about doing or saying anything that might change the future indicates he was drilled to the point of obsession about that before being sent - he was only willing to talk at AEGIS because the future knows basically 0 about anything AEGIS did or was, so he’s assuming anything done inside its walls will have no outside effect.

(Which, as logic goes… isn’t very logical. He’s a decent guy, but he’s not clever.)

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6228456

BUT: where does “some kind of attack/event that should have killed him but instead fragmented his memories” fall: 1 or 4? (If 4, I may need some info on what that’d theoretically look like.)


Holy shit nevermind I know what happened.

Oh my god.

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6228461

Remaining checklist items, as usual in no order.

  • Help Silver Streak if possible
  • Help set up whatever base we settle on (probably SOS base)
  • Figure out how to deal with Vector situation.
    • In the IDEAL case, we pull the Bot himself back into the past and have that conversation - understand the mechanics of time travel, what our options are, get a solid read on him, whatever Leo would need to be fully comfortable with rendering aid. Or maybe we discover he’s the bad guy, aid isn’t called for, whatever. This feels unlikely to succeed but we can ask Vector about it.
    • Leo sends a Phoenix to the future (and I write up what that is and how it came to be), and we trust it to do its thing. Feels like a deus ex machina.
    • Other options include “Leo goes to the future to examine this shit/see what we can learn about Future Rook that might apply to the present”, which potentially takes him out of play as a PC (or splits the party - not gonna do that). I’m unhappy with that outcome too.
  • Figure out some plan of attack for finding and validating Rossum. I’m pretty adrift here, other than “we somehow learn about Agent 1337 and employ those magic hacking skillz to Rook’s network”. There’s also “get GG to ask the dead”, which I’ve floated in the past.
    • IF the Chaos Agents future can reveal present Rossum’s fate, and that’s relevant for our universe, that would neatly tie these two stories together. As a player, I’d love to find a way to make this work, e.g. the team goes to the Bad Future to fight for justice, comes back with some vital intel, go us.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6228464

_Doyce T. said:
_BUT: where does “some kind of attack/event that should have killed him but instead fragmented his memories” fall: 1 or 4? (If 4, I may need some info on what that’d theoretically look like.)

That’s option 4.

Sounds like you have something. Let me know if you want/need any other info, but here’s why option 4 is rough to make work:

If you put Leo’s mind into a bot using his current tech, that assumes access to a Heart Factory. If that happens immediately after Vector’s attack, we only have the backup machine that I’ve mentioned in PMs, but it’s still doable. However, that machine can also be used to patch broken memories, like we just did with Jason/Alycia - and Leo has 3 forks of himself nearby who can be donors for those memories, including the memories of his own tech. In other words, the same tech that saves his life will also fix his mind.

Since he can use any Heart Factory to back himself up, damage down the road once he’s in a robot body (for whatever reason) could still be fixed with a Victory Merge from those old backups. So if he didn’t get blown up now, he’d need to take memory damage soon enough that he didn’t have time to build another Heart Factory yet, and all the bots also need to die before then (because they can build another one too), and the backup needs to be destroyed as well, and AEGIS can’t or won’t produce SNOWMAN to have him do the work.

So basically, he’s got all these places where this tech could be resurrected from. If the Bot doesn’t have it, that’s actually a decent case for the Bot NOT being Leo, so if that’s your thinking, it sounds solid to me. :slight_smile:

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6228510

    • IF the Chaos Agents future can reveal present Rossum’s fate, and that’s relevant for our universe, that would neatly tie these two stories together. As a player, I’d love to find a way to make this work, e.g. the team goes to the Bad Future to fight for justice, comes back with some vital intel, go us.

I like this plan. :slight_smile:

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6228547

So are speedsters in charge of time travel in this world, and thus we need to bring Streak around so we can use his Cosmic Hamster Wheel to do this? Or would we hitch a lift with Vector during his pick-up window?

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6229189

If Vector can give you the particulars (he can), then yeah, you pretty much hit his pick-up window at the right speed and you should be good.

And no, it’s not speedsters, exclusively, or even particularly.

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6229244

I was mostly offering a reason for us to get involved in the Streak situation before we went and did this, but if either way works, great. :slight_smile:

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6229254