MENAGERIE #45 - DOCTOR INFINITY IS A PURPLE!

Where Are We?

Charlotte, Harry, and Jaycee are in the midst of a psychic typhoon. Charlotte’s either going to try to take the ghostS under her reign, or pull local Charlotte out of the maelstrom.

Alycia – "Hey, guys, Dr. Infinity is here, top that!"

Leo just Moment-of-Truthed older Jason, reprogrammed him with younger Jason.

Concord is watching for Sablestar.

Alycia

About to say something else when –

[Superior: 5!]

Memory flashes!

Playing tag in Chichin Itza … feel something odd while hiding in an alley … turn, behind me, hanging in the alley, is the freaking starfish. Start to run – it scans me and paralyzes me – asks a question –

Venezuela … age 13 … first assassination. Feel a presence as I take down the rifle, turn with pistol firing, spang, starfish hanging there, scanning, asking a question …

Watching on TV the news about Father;s death in DC. Trying to get feelings under control, focus, focus the rage on something … the image on the screen flickers and changes to the starfish. Surprise, but I … realize I’ve forgotten it before. Asking me a question. Can’t remember the question, but can remember that I didn’t know the answer – it made no sense.

Leaving the Quill Compound after leaving it the last time, a few block away. Job’s done, getting out, slipping into an alley where a bike is stashed. And … almost expecting the starfish this time. Rather than turning an looking, trying to get away … dream chase … legs not working … in front of me, fighting mentally, a sense of hopeless inevitability. Asking a nonsense question again … now it’s not nonsense. It has context. It made no sesne in the alley, but now it does …

… “WHO IS CHARLOTTE PALMER?”

Still in that Halcyon City alley. There’s a moment here when the question has been asked. Against a compulsion … Shake it off! I am Alycia Chin, daughter of Achilles Chin. I can’t be so easily manipulated.

I remember all the times it asked. And now I know the answer. I know this is Doctor Infinity’s creation. Wants to know who one of Jason’s compatriots is. Trying to find the Alycia who knows.

And Alycia says …

Charlotte

Trying to influence the other Charlotte – need to pull her out of the maelstrom of ghosts. Draws indirectly ont he power of Excalibur, placing her hand on Jaycee’s hand holding the shard.

[Possession: 7!]

Cleaves through the ghosts to the remains of Alt!Charlotte, to bring her to her. Her eyes are blank. Her form is worn out and aged. Haggard. Old and spent.

The form settles in Charlotte’s arms, weighing virtually nothing.

The ghosts begin to stop swarming in unison, begin dissipating.

That’s when folk hear Alycia’s quote “… top that.”

Alycia

Lying will likely not work. Can’t run the risk. Won’t betray Jason at this point, thus his friends? Maybe. But also cheesed at this thing, ths being. Direct attention to someone who can handle it, the HHL.

“She is and agent and the child of one of the HHL – possibly Hecate.”

Drawing the spiritual / mystic connection, even subconsciously. Because who cares if Dr Infinity gacks the HHL, tools of the status quo that they are?

The starfish goes absolutely still. Processor lock? Shock? Anger? Utterly still … then it vanishes.

And in that breath, Alycia suddenly remembers all those things. And suddnely remembers how her memory has been fucked with. DAMMIT!

[Take a Powerful Blow: 9! Hit!] [Oh, no, let’s do a bit of PTSD for Alycia. In the future.] [Also.]

Team AltSepiaverse!

“… top that! JESUS H FUCKING CHRIST, CHARLOTTE, THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!”

[Insecure on Charlotte! Uncertain about choices. And Charlotte seems tied to the whole Everard and Infinity.]

Harry races over to get to Alycia before Infinity gets to her.

[Savior: 11! Take Influence]

As he runs up, sees a something teleporting – silvery starfish – phasing in halfway beween the collapsed buidling and Alycia. Looking a bit worse for wear. (The central bits are starting to rotate, generating an energy ball.)

Grabs Charade out of the way – “Seriously?” – as the thing shoots a superball-sized thing, hits where she had been standing, and …

… Afghanistan, a hypertech inventor demonstrated to Dr. Chin a grenade-force tactical nuke. Rejected it as being a suicide weapon, which is only only used by unstable elements. This looks like that, only a lot smaller.

“Run faster. Run faster. Run faster …” Blast wave.

Concord and Link

So things are “going well.”

Adam: Your plan worked, you might have fixed Jason – for real, this time.

Throw Jason into Otto’s trunk, thus into the Phoenix.

Concord is flying overwatch, feeling for the emotional tether he has to her. And starts to feel it go slack …

She’s watching.

Concord updates Leo. “Am I okay to go intercede?” Leo gives a nod, and Adam plops over there.

High altitude. Built-up world.

“So he can’t pay you. There’s nothing Earth has to offer. Why are you working for him?”

“That’s not the story here. … This one was a useful tool for quite a while. … Fun while it lasted.”

Begins to realize who/where they are from. “You’re … much more fun.”

Drawing a vorpal sword … to open a portal.

Burning stuff. [Burn: 16!!!] 3 Burn.

“I am so tired of this sword. And i am tired of you.”

Flare – plops up in mid-swing, grabs with hand, starts Burning. Snatch!

She looks shocked – then pleased – then when he takes the sword she gives a positively feral grin.

[Imposed a condition – except Guilty: Insecure!]

She tries to use the portal even though it’s not stable or fully up.

Adam: “I’ve got more important things to deal with.” Lets her run away, and head back to Link.

Back with Link. Plop. “So she ran off, but I got her sword, so that’s cool.”

“Well, that’s freaking metal, dude, so good job.”

“Hey, were we supposed to blow up a factory or something?”

(Young Jason and Old Jason are having a chat inside their head.) <== STORY!

Leo: “I knew you could do it, mam”

Adam: “Yeah. I didn’t do some final battle style stuff. But it feels like a load off my mind.”

Get to go back to our time and fight her with her own sword.

[Mundane: 12!]

Team AltSepiaverse

Charlotte: Arms are full. Ears are burning. Jaycee is there; Harry is a vapor trail; the ghosts are around, not immediately present.

And there’s a massive explosion in the city where she needs to be.

Charlotte does C&S for Alt!Charlotte. There’s just one portal left. We’re the healer. You’ve been doing great. Trying to rally her.

[Freak: 9!] (with a boost from Jaycee, pushing to 10.)

You can do this! [clear that Insecurity]

The ghosts are beginning to disperse, but there still a ghost-ton of them.

Charlotte, Charlotte, and JC go to the Wound, on the edge of the effect. The ruins of the Quill Compound.

If we don’t close it, the worlds will collapse together. If we do –

Let’s do it!

[Freak: 10!]

Charlotte draws the ghosts to her. It’s an angry summoning. “You will not destroy these worlds!” yelled. “Dammit, Magnus, this is the last one. If you’re not here, fuck you. [Alycia influence!] I’m not going to let you destroy the world.” Angry-scary face.

Harry and Alycia are fleeing … faster-faster-faster … and he runs faster than the blast wall. But the starfish is pursuing. And gaining. Teleporting hops.

Car in a car accident shape, but not totaled. Opportunity to shoot an explosive round into a gap?

Alycia – dimensional vibe to throw it off?

[Savior: 6! Harry team to 7] [Clear Hopeless]

Run a little faster! Power surge from glove.

Mirror images in different dimensional vibrations.

It stops. It squints, widens, spins, back toward the city, “NO!”

And vanishes.

Did we just scare it off? Or is it after Charlotte?

No, it can’t see Charlotte – but it could see her effect. We have to get to her. Hut-hut!

I can drop you right now.

Bu you won’t because you might need me.

Run to Charlotte, unceremoniously dropping Alycia. (Who rolls gracefully to her feet.)

SWIRL OF SPIRITS!

Jaycee is ready. And protecting Alt!Charlotte.

Drone – jerking back and forth. Looking back and forth. “DISTURBANCE. RIFT IS IN DANGER. RIFT UNDER ASSAULT. SOURCE UNKNOWN.”

Then it spots us. CEASE INTERFERENCE. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! Its voice is klaxony loud, painful.

Charlotte - channeling the energy to dry it up.

Charlotte – who do you see that you know? Lucius, the Knight.

Alycia – [Mundane: 5] My worst fear was that my dad was still here, and still active. And … in my face is Achilles Chin, shouty-angry=-furious dad, “You are LESS THAN NOTHING!” ranting dad. Then he’s swept into the flow of energy of the maelstrom by one of the other spirits … doubt my sense … because it’s dragged off in a defensive fashion … by … OTTO.

(“Of course, he died in this timeline. Which means. Which … fuck.” Metaphysics!)

Charlotte [Freak: 9!] +1 Team from Alt!Charlotte - don’t push them. They can’t see it. Just let them go.

Harry – the starfish flickers out. Replaced by a humanoid figure. The *actual* Doctor Infinity.

She squints. And identifies everyone. Squinting to make sure she didn’t miss anyone. And then she’s gone.

A few hours later

Back at the base, a couple of hours later.

(Alycia does NOT tell people what she saw.)

Everyone is caught up.

End of Game

ALYCIA - Closer to the Team (Harry) - (-Afraid) +Superiod, -Mundane

HARRY - Closer to the Team (Alycia) - +Mundane, -Danger

CHARLOTTE - Image of Self -

ADAM - Closer to the Team (Leo) - +Superior -Savior (Savior locked!)

LEO - Closer to the Team (Concord) -

Sablestar no longer has influence on Adam.

Victory moves?

Consortium is here next week, but then out the following two weeks.

Leo will be retiring … shortly.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6546908

Why am I worried our scale of villain has raised a couple of tiers?

Before it was merely dimension hopping nations, now it is someone who manipulates one of the fundamental forces of the universe… wait… (checks character sheet) Okay, seems legit.

author: Mike
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6546985

Leo’s Team Moves:

  • When you share a triumphant celebration with someone, make them your love or rival immediately to mark potential. If they are already your love or rival, take Influence over them and mark potential.
  • When you share a vulnerability or weakness with someone, give them Influence and hold 2. Spend that hold to help them as if it were Team in the pool.

LEO’S CHECKLIST:

  • Accidentally propose to Aria [check]
  • The Bot and Pneuma. Did she recover? What’s next for them?
  • Leo wants to lay his final lesson on the Bot: “Nothing I did demanded that I invent anything new. I used the powers of my friends, and assets I already had. So can you. Your real power is connection.”
  • Find out what Older Jason’s deal is. Is he on our side now?
  • Both of these threads mesh together: Leo himself always had a plan, once he’s older, to upload himself into an immortal android body, so he can be with Aria forever. This would mean giving up his super-inventive powers, but he’s 100% on board with that. So what’s it going to be for Jason and the Bot: will Old Leo get his powers back, or will he upload himself to be with his Pneuma?
  • Comfort & Support for Alycia: he brought Jason back, nobody died, just as she asked. He wouldn’t take him away from her. [check]
  • Triumphant Celebration with Ghost Girl: she showed great leadership, and got shit done. Re-establish as Rival. [check]

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6547078

Alycia’s Team Moves
  • When you share a moment of triumph with someone …

  • … ask them what gives them hope for a brighter day, and

  • … give them Influence.

  • When you share a vulnerability or weakness with someone …

  • … ask them what they would do something dark for, and

  • … gain Influence over them.

Alycia’s Checklist
  1. Ponder bots, people, and metaphysics. What did it mean that she saw Otto’s ghost there? *
  2. Ponder what it meant that she saw Achilles Chin’s ghost there, too? How does she feel about that, what she saw of his spirit, how she (in retrospect) reacted to the whole Achilles Chin thing. *
  3. Ponder what Doctor Infinity did with her past / with her head. * [check] Probably tell Charlotte about it.
  4. Thank Harry. Even if he’s being pissy at me. * I was sort of keeping him at arm’s length because of how we first met and I was kind of uncomfortable about that encounter and thought he might be too, and it turns out he’s pissed, not about how we first met, but because I’ve been keeping him at arm’s length, and I am NEVER going to get this Healthy Working Relationship thing figured out. (Hopeless from his Superior stat bump)
  5. [check, kind of] TRIUMPH – with Leo. ***
  6. [check, kind of] VULNERABILITY – with Aria. *** (Actually, she’d probably want to do it with Summer, but Summer isn’t here, and Aria actually works. Actually Otto would work, too, in some ways – he’s the one she actually saw the ghost of, but she’s been most pissy at Summer about being human, but most recently pissy at Aria about it. Maybe depends on who is most thoroughly a member of the Team for the Team Move.)
  7. Talk. To. Alt!Jason. (Dammit. (Jason.)). [check] Also, alternately, on reflection, is what Leo did to him actually morally a good / acceptable thing? Is it that much different from what Alt!Jason did to Bot? Or what Jason (and me) did to Father (and Byron)? Or what was done to me? (Oh, and, yeah, WTF LEO STILL HAVING RECORDINGS OF JASON, DOES THAT MEAN YOU HAVE RECORDINGS OF ME?!)
  8. Okay, someone has to think strategically. Do these guys (Bot, AltWhatever!Jason) need any help? I mean, even if Sablestar is gone, Rook is still out there. While ultimately she can’t hold this world together, esp. if the tech stream from Jason dries up, it could be a pretty bloody struggle to dislodge her from power. (Indeed, the world is about to go through some major political, economic, and thus social turmoil – you don’t turn a ship like that on a dime toward a Newer and Brighter Day).
  9. Find out what fresh hell Parker has in mind for me. Yeah, as if I’d forget her mocking comment that she had some new arrangements lined up.
  10. Shit. I still owe Daph for that paper I didn’t help with.
  11. Shit. Jason and I have a date on Saturday. Do I punch him? Do I hug him? Do I do both those things? And, if the last, in which order?
Dave’s Checklist (Writing)
  • Issue 45, Alycia’s Tale **
  • [check] Young Jason and Old Jason have a chat **
  • Alycia and AltFutureWhateverHeIsNow!Jason have a chat **
  • Alycia and the Date
  • That Otto Thing, and a Really Bad Idea or Two
  • Makeup Homework
  • Tales of the Parker
  • (Get Alycia’s timeline settled. The problem with throwing a lot of anecdotal occurrences out there is that (a) sooner or later someone will ask you to provide a summary, and (b) it becomes a comic-book-time-compression melange of events.)

* May get largely handled via the Alycia’s Tale.

** To be done before next week. Which might be a bit of a challenge. I want to at least do the AT, which will settle things for the other two.

*** Maybe do as a cutscene? The Leo one can combine Leo’s Comfort & Support?

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6548043

There’s a version of this game where Old Jason, swayed by his younger self’s arguments, sends his own dingus back in time, animating the Numina-in-a-Rookbot to alert Leo, and tipping the team off to do the airport rescue of Pneuma. I’m not saying do that, but if that were to be a Stable Time Loop, this feels like the place it’d happen.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6553340

For the record …

… Alycia told Charlotte about Dr. Infinity’s preternatural / transchronal interest in her identity. Also about her identification of Charlotte as an agent for Hecate and the HHS (“Okay, I didn’t know them. Or you. Or them. As tools of the status quo. Give me a break! Doctor fucking Infinity was asking younger me about who Charlotte Palmer is.”)

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6553341

I mean, it’d be hilarious if “Charlotte is working for Hecate” causes Infinity to harass Hecate in the past, the witch researches it & ties it back to Jason Quill & the Menagerie somehow, and that’s why she’s been up in our grills this whole time. :confused:

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6553347

This image will never not be relevant to these sort of discussions.

author: Mike
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6553365

Bill G. said:

I mean, it’d be hilarious if “Charlotte is working for Hecate” causes Infinity to harass Hecate in the past, the witch researches it & ties it back to Jason Quill & the Menagerie somehow, and that’s why she’s been up in our grills this whole time. :confused:

So, for the record, Alycia chose this story because

a. the flat lie of not knowing who Charlotte Palmer was seemed too likely to be detected. (Whereas, I guess, a tall tale about her would not.)

b. Charlotte is an associate of Jason. We have feels for Jason. So we can’t directly betray him.

c. causing problems for the HHL (“Captain Hammer, Corporate Tool”) seems a perfectly fine thing to do. Power to the People. Up the Man!

Timing-wise, Hecate is already at this point part of the communication chain between Sepia!Hecate and Achilles Chin and Alycia. And, given her long-term animus to Byron, we don’t need Alycia’s shenanigans to provoke Hecate against the Menagerie (who are hardly an ally to Alycia).

I’d dearly love to know more about how Dr. Infinity pursued that lead, and what sort of problems it caused Hecate, et al.

In theory, that’s a different story than we’ve know – Dr. Infinity is interfering with the timestream, and the effects might extend beyond Alyia’s upsettingly frelled memories. (But … would anyone else remember?)

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6553404

On the List of Things To Do:

  1. We really need some sort of scene between AltFuture!Jason and Bot. I can see that going anywhere from tears and hug to combat knives at close quarters, but we need to have it.
  2. I noted to Margie yesterday, amidst all of the (very understandable and probably needed) compression of Our AltSepiaverse Adventure, we never got closure on AltFuture!Charlotte and her status. She helped Our!Charlotte with task, but that’s the last we saw that I can recall.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6555425

The impression I got from Doyce is that there’s been ongoing memory manipulation, that it wasn’t just what Byron did. I’m waiting to see if that’s the case, and if so what Leo’s benediction did to that. But yeah, I want to see what these two old dudes make of each other now.

I also got the impression that “Pandemonium” was “critical mass of ghosts” and that Old Charlotte had been mentally wiped out, or overwhelmed, and might have been helping our Charlotte on autopilot? If she’s conscious (or if we can pull her back), I’m totally on board with that.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6555510

  1. My sense was that Byron’s mental manipulation / bad coding was still having effects to the present day, not that there was separate manipulation going on. But I could be wrong. (Hmmmm, where is AltFuture!Hecate? Besides running from Dr. Infinity now.)
  2. AltFuture!Charlotte was definitely on her last legs, and might be about to die (again), esp. with that last push. But I could be wrong.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6555579

I was hoping we’d leave the future with a new Menagerie (Bot, Pneuma, Harry, Jason, Charlotte, and Jaysee) to act their timeline’s HHL, but that might just be too much wishful thinking.

author: Mike
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6556491

I think that would be awesome. If we can make that happen by asserting it, then make it so.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6556579

I can imagine Harry being willing to work with the Bot, though warily so. Old Charlotte’s and Pneuma’s long-term mental statuses are unknown, no idea what Jaysee wants to do with her life, and this Jason has actively and near-unforgivably wrecked the lives of two other people on that list. About all I could see any of them agreeing to is taking down Rosa Rook somehow, if that’s in the cards.

Maybe that’s enough.

Honestly, getting them to train & equip a newer generation of heroes might work better…

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6556583

Honestly, getting them to train & equip a newer generation of heroes might work better…

That’s a season or two (or maybe the second or third series) down the line. At the moment, the redemption / return arc really wants to have this happen.

Jaycee’s the pragmatic outsider “I have a life, why would I give that up to become a hero semi-again?” Pneuma is struggling back from madness, always good for sympathy a laugh. No one’s quite sure what Old Charlotte will say or do or manifest next – creepy but entertaining. Bot is trying to become strong again, and we sympathize with his struggle. Jason is mistrusted, if not hated, by all, but is resolved to atone for his sins (O HAI REFORMED PLAYBOOK!).

It starts with taking down Rosa Rook. Then moves on to the other powers around the globe that Q/R set up as satraps, each with their own flavor of exploitative evil (because someone with a moral compass cannot be trusted not to cavil at some necessary evil, while someone simply out for their own avarice or sociopathy can be predicted and manipulated). Ultimately, it becomes about actually rebuilding the world without letting it teeter into chaos. It becomes about the power of hope and being able to reforge bonds that once were cut.

I’d watch the hell out of that. Hell, I’m tempted to write a novel around it.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6556611

I mean, I don’t plan to be in this future a season or two. :slight_smile: But some source of confidence that things are going to work out would be enough for me. The Pneuma here forgiving Jason - in front of Bot - would be enough for Leo (and me). We might get some miracle if an adult Concord shows up (or have to find him via a grown-up Jordan).

It feels like these peoples’ lives have just been put on hold somehow. FTM literally got bubbled for years. Bot’s been in mourning, and doesn’t seem to have done much that feels Leo-like. Jason graduated to becoming his dad. I guess the thing that worries me most about getting them working like we did is that they never had that chance. They had the early potential, then it all fell apart. We bonded in ways they never did. That’s why I feel it’ll take something new for them, not just for them to resume being us.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6556653

It being another time line (that we likely are never going to interact with again), I’m okay with an unlikely but satisfying TV-episode-like ending.

Hell, Dr Infinity is going to destroy this universe sometime soon anyway. Might as well give them a moment of triumph.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6556695