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”.
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.
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.
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.
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)
(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.
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.”
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 & 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.”
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.
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 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.