XWhy

Part one, inspired by Mike’s art here and here.

Gardner prides itself on the protection of its students - the scions of privilege, the elite of Halcyon. It takes coordination, effort, and considerable power to bypass that shield. The terrorist team known as XWhy has all three.

At 11 am on March 8, alarms started to sound. Shuttered fire doors slammed closed. The school’s ventilation system began pumping fresh air into the isolated classrooms and hallways - but mixed with it was an airborne microorganism. The effect was not immediately noticed. In fact, without what came next, it would be harmless. It possessed genes that expressed a very complex, specifically shaped protein.

XWhy’s command vehicle was an RV, parked a block away. Inside, a woman sat with legs folded, crossing her fingers and whispering words that brought her pulse, breathing, and posture into alignment with certain cosmic forces. A power poured out of her - or rather, through her - and into the sprawl of spiritual arterials beneath Gardner, the capillaries of the world’s ley line network. It sprang upward, emerging through the billions upon billions of protein-sized symbols of magic inside, like an arcane aerosol. In a moment, every male in Gardner seized up and fell over.

Aria Newman is on comms to Charlotte Palmer when the PA announcement comes on. It’s not a teacher, but a computer-generated voice. “Students, remain in your rooms. Everything is under control.” She moves to check her male classmates while the other girls in ConEc knot around her. Leo first, naturally. His pulse is the low, steady beat of a sleeper, and his breathing is regular, but he’s unresponsive.

She hears Alycia’s voice. “This isn’t normal. They cut the wifi.” Aria looks over to see the other girl hard at work on a laptop. “There’s a --” A crash interrupts the explanation. Keri, aka Superchica, has burst through one of Gardner’s nigh-invulnerable walls. She looks around, assesses faces, and starts to speak. “Hey, Menagerie, we–”

She in turn is cut off by A10, who’s right behind her. Aria and Alycia aren’t known to be supers, a detail she understands if Keri doesn’t quite get. “You two,” and she points to the girls. “You look like you’re paying attention to the situation. Come with us.” The rest of the girls in the classroom look up, confused or hopeful. “The rest of you, uh. Sit tight.” This seems safe, so they do. Well, almost all of them.

Ghost Girl emerges through the door of a janitor’s closet. The hallway is quiet, the lights dark. A10 explains. “All the boys we found are asleep. Male teachers too. It’s Christmas all over again, except men instead of all adults.”

“Holiday magic, like Christmas?” speculates Alycia. “It’s International Women’s Day.”

Everyone turns to look at Charlotte, who shrugs and smiles. “After my time. Although there is quite a power at work here.”

The group hear distant footfalls echoing through the halls. Alycia cocks her head. “Rhythmic, organized, several people moving in unison,” she announces. After a moment, the analysis finishes: “Soldiers.”

The five girls fan out. “I didn’t bring my gear,” mumbles Alycia, only to have Charlotte present her with a duffle bag. “I detoured to AEGIS HQ,” she explains with a smile. “Miss Aria’s idea.”

Alycia glances at the robot lifeform, who isn’t looking her way, and grunts in a way that suggests both disgust and appreciation.

By the time the commandos round the corner, everyone’s in some kind of position. The intruders aren’t Gardner at all. The school seal isn’t prominent on their shoulders and backs like the normal security team, and they’re carrying deadly weapons and tactical equipment that even the elite academy isn’t authorized to use. Their faces are covered by black balaclavas.

A10 is the first to respond. She flies forward, plowing through some very surprised soldiers with ease. Keri is next. Troops raise their guns, and she draws their fire before pounding them across the hall. Bodies hit lockers, or the floor, or the ceiling. There’s grunts and groans of pain, and long sighs as someone slips into unconsciousness, pitched high: these soldiers are also women.

Another detachment appears at the end of the hall. These wear gas masks, and raise stubby weapons. “Grenades!” shouts Alycia. “Get down!”

A10 and Keri move to take the brunt of the expected blasts, but the canisters that roll to a stop nearby don’t explode. There’s a high-pitched hissing. “Gas!”

The chemical agent fills the hall, invisible only at first. The two flying bricks start to wobble immediately. Alycia, with her mask on, rushes forward to drag them out of the effect. Aria armors up and strides purposefully past her, into and through the yellow-green fog that’s forming. There’s the sound of more gas grenades being launched, a series of surprised shouts, some small-arms fire, and yelps of pain. The robot girl emerges from the gas dragging two unmasked bodies by the ankles.

Alycia goes to work immediately, depriving the commandos of their radios, maps, and other notes. She fits an ear bud to her own ear and starts listening. Ghost Girl, meanwhile, is doing some listening of her own, placing hands on the floor and walls. “There’s a trail here, leading back. I think it’s the source of the attack. Would anyone care to accompany me?”

Four hands shoot up.

In the RV outside, the woman in lotus wakes suddenly. “Move! Driver, get us–” She doesn’t complete the sentence. The entire RV tips on its side, sending everyone into a painful jumble as the left wall becomes the new floor.

The roof is torn away by three angry-looking girls. This is more fight than the woman is ready for. She snaps her fingers and vanishes, leaving the aroma of incense and a faint smell of sulfur behind. The rest of the squad inside the van surrenders immediately.

“But what did they want?” Keri asks.

Aria picks up one of the soldier’s recovered kits and fishes out something she and Alycia both spotted. It’s a series of photographs. She spreads them for inspection. Photos of the sons of some of Halcyon’s richest and best-connected citizens are here, as well as known superheroes such as Leo Snow.

“Hostages?” Keri guesses. This is borne out by the sound of a helicopter lifting off. Four of the five girls move out of the RV and look up. A Boeing Chinook troop transport, big enough to carry over twenty people, is disappearing into the distance. It must have taken off from the other side of the school.

“We gotta go after 'em!” shouts A10, but feels a restraining hand on her arm. It’s Aria. “If they have the boys on board, it’s too risky. Let’s beat them to their destination.” She glances back at Alycia expectantly.

“They hacked the school’s computer system,” announces Alycia, active on one of the RV’s computers. “But not from here. This is just a relay. There’s another site, probably their headquarters. I can’t get a lead on it.”

“It’s somewhere in the warehouse district.” A10 holds up wrappers with traces of lettuce, grease, and taco sauce still on them. “Loxicha, it’s an Oaxaca taco truck. I know their route. Let’s go.”

The other four link hands with Charlotte, and disappear into darkness.

Who’s down for part two, and what do you think of part one?

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6520886

[I absolutely want to see Part 2. Heck, I’ll write Part 2 if you like. :slight_smile:

Which should imply how I felt about Part 1. Lots of fun. A definite comic book story, plenty of quick action, easy to follow along. The treatment of each character is, in the super-sort space, not deep, but everyone acts recognizably and competently. A filler issue, which is not a bad thing.

This does give me some thoughts about Alycia’s next advance, assume she can ever get some Closer to the Team moments or more spectacular misses to gets some Potential (for all the jokes about Charade’s rolls, her miss this past issue was her first since Issue 33, looking at the Chat Log). Her role on the makeshift team above is sort of being Batman – tactical analysis and oversight. Which provides me a couple of ideas.

Anyway, fun times – thanks!]

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6521101

[Also, “XWhy” – ha! Took me several minutes, but it’s Monday morning, so that’s my excuse.]

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6521105

*** Dave H. said:

Heck, I’ll write Part 2 if you like. :slight_smile:

I sent you my outline/notes for part 2, it’s all yours.

Her role on the makeshift team above is sort of being Batman – tactical analysis and oversight. Which provides me a couple of ideas.

I needed something unique for her to do on a team of flying bricks, and her key words were precision, analysis, and reaction time. I had her do the “who’s coming?” analysis bit before, and that made another appearance here. You should play her as you see fit, this is just me noodling as always. But if it does inspire something interesting, so much the better.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6521281

I’ll also mention that Alycia can get potential from comfort and support, as loathe as she might be to receive it :slight_smile:

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6521308

I loved it and am excited to see what comes in part two (I’m also curious to see what Bill writes in his outline/notes, but I won’t ask for those earlier.)

Bill G. said:

I needed something unique for her to do on a team of flying bricks, and her key words were precision, analysis, and reaction time.

Ahh, the issue one always runs into when Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Martian Manhunter are all on one team.

author: Mike
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6521897

Bill G. said:

I needed something unique for her to do on a team of flying bricks, and her key words were precision, analysis, and reaction time. I had her do the “who’s coming?” analysis bit before, and that made another appearance here. You should play her as you see fit, this is just me noodling as always. But if it does inspire something interesting, so much the better.

Like I said, Batman. Without the obsessiveness anti-socialness plans for taking each person down independent wealth while living in a cave. (Okay, Alycia has probably lived in a cave at some time in the last year, but there were no giant pennies.)

I’ve noted before that I’ve not gotten a lot of exercise of her Reformed playbook stuff. I feel the motivations that fit in with it, but between being in prison and being in the AltFuture, she’s had pretty much zero street time or need to call in favors (or vice-versa) sort of stuff. That’s not anyone’s fault in particular, it’s just how things have been. I have high hopes for that changing Real Soon Now. :slight_smile: But, in the meantime, the one Advance I’ve taken was from the Brain playbook, and the second may turn out to be from there or the Soldier book, reflecting that precision / analysis / reaction time tactical thing.

_I contain multitudes,_ as Frost put it.

Good reminder on the C&S. She’s gotten that a couple of times, but is usually using them to pull back from four conditions … :slight_smile:

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6522017

Part 2

A pop of displaced air and that same set of scents accompany the uniformed woman’s reappearance at the base. She rolls to the side as the console she was leaning against stays behind, cracking her knee on the concrete floor. Two blinks, collecting thought from the disarray her magic causes, then she yells. “Alex!”

Footsteps pounding down the corridor, then Alex – Alecto, to be precise, but none of the women care for the names they’ve been given, and immediately shortened them – rounds the corner to the summoning chamber. “Meg,” she says, “you okay?”

“No. It went, as Tis calls it, pear-shaped.” Meg’s voice has a lilt to it, echoes of her childhood in Northern Ireland. It matches her pale skin and the red hair braided tightly behind her. You can barely see the scar across her left temple any more.

“She radioed in – they have the packages,” Alex says, deep voice calm as always. “ETA 15 minutes.”

“Tell them to keep an eye open – our attackers had fliers.”

“She knows. A couple of your troops radioed in before they were taken down.”

“Dammit,” Meg mutters. “Tis is going to have a fit over her people.” She makes a hissing sound. “It was those damned girls getting in our way. If they knew --”

“They’d probably still do the same thing,” Alex says, shaking her head. Her dark eyes are sad. “Helsinki Syndrome to the Patriarchy. They don’t understand, so they follow the orders programmed into them.” A sigh. “My fault. I focused my intel on the male students, picking targets for your enchantment, once we had the proteins encoded.”

“Well at least that worked like a charm,” Meg says, then makes a face at the inadvertent pun.

Alex grins instead. “Maybe next time we find a way to take down the girls, too. Temporarily.”

Meg shakes her head. “The Craft doesn’t work that way. At least mine doesn’t. Only on the males.” The last word has a sour twist to it.

Alex doesn’t know what brought Meg to XWhy, or what drove her to the point where She Who Wills made her one of the Three, but anger is behind a lot of it. For her part, Alex tries to set anger aside, and exercise her judgment more clearly. “Be that as it may, even with your losses, the mission was a success. And we can make the release of our sisters part of the ransom deal for the non-metas we took.”

“As long as the others are dealt with,” Meg says. Her voice is low.

“They will be. And those girls who fought you will learn how much stronger they are on their own. With time, they’ll come to see.” Alex flashes a smile, teeth bright against her dark face. “C’mon,” she says, helping Meg to her feet. “Let’s prepare a welcome for Tis and company. This is going to be a busy night.”

“Hopefully one with no more surprises.”

“This place has the best stealth money can buy,” Alex replies. “Once the chopper is back, we’ll hunker down, conclude our business, and nobody will ever know we’re within hundred miles of here.”

* * *

“There,” Alycia says, pointing at the run-down, multi-story warehouse across the street. Large “NO TRESPASSING” and faded “WAREHOUSE / LOT FOR SALE” signs festoon the rusting gates, making it appear not to different from a lot of other closed facilities nearby. Halcyon is economically vibrant, but even here the Old Economy is failing.

Keri frowns. “It doesn’t look like it.”

“Trust me,” Alycia replies, making sure she’s within the shadows of alley. There are almost certainly cameras watching this street. “I know what a lair looks like. And there’s some new construction up there, at the top of that flat roof.”

“It looks the same, old brick --”

“And new mortar. Probably to support those electronic arrays mostly screened by that corrugated metal. Stealth projectors – white noise sound suppression, visual distortion fields, ATC radar fuzzing, that sort of thing. Hard to mount and power all that on a chopper, even a Chinook, but as a ground installation they can make that thing fly in undetected from several blocks away, once they’ve got line of sight.”

“You seem to know a lot about whatever all that means,” Charlotte comments. An eyebrow crooks in question.

Alycia makes a face. “I recognize it. Father built it. Probably stripped from one of his places, and resold to these folk.”

Aria and A10 trot back from the food truck, which is doing a moderately brisk business from the few workshops and complexes nearby still in operation. “The vendor confirms there’s a group of women who come from up the street somewhere most days he’s here. Enough of them to be noticeable among the workforce.”

“Sloppy,” Alycia mutters.

“This is weird,” Keri says – Superchica, more properly, as she’s suited up. She and A10 were wearing their outfits under their streets at school (though for quite different reasons), and have stripped down to them. “These guys have high-tech stealth stuff over there, but you said there was something magical going on?” The last question is directed to Charlotte.

“Yes,” she says. “I’m not a magician, to be sure, but I could tell that whatever they were doing to the boys, it was tied, through mystic channels, to that van.”

“And the teleporter,” Aria notes.

“That was magic, too,” Charlotte adds.

“But the kit on those soldiers was pretty straightforward,” Alycia points out. “Good quality. Not cheap. But pretty much off the gun dealer’s shelf.”

“Magic, sophisticated technology, and soldiers,” Aria sums up. “An interesting hybrid threat.”

“In other words, like I said, weird,” Keri continues. “So, do we go kick down the door now?”

“We probably beat the chopper here,” A10 says, looking over at Charlotte. Nobody particularly enjoyed the trip through Shadow Realm, however brief, to get here, though at least Aria and Alycia were ready for it. “If we’re worried about hostages, we should go now.”

Alycia shakes her head and opens her mouth, but Aria interrupts, “If we attack and they get word to the chopper, it will divert and we might never find it.” Alycia nods with a slight frown, but doesn’t say anything.

“How will we know when they’ve come, if they’re all stealthy and everything?” Keri asks, looking at Alycia.

The frown continues, but now it’s thoughtful. “That system is pretty good, if it’s been kept tuned up. Even watching for it, we may not see the visual or audible distortions. I might be able to cobble together something, given time, but we don’t have much. They can’t be more than five to ten out.”

“It’s not magical, so I won’t be much help,” Charlotte said.

Aria nods. She’s still in armored mode from the battle during the school. “But other senses?”

“Smell?” A10 asks. “Those things put out a hell of a lot of exhaust. Big turbos, turning those rotors.”

Vibraciones!” Keri half-shouts. “Air pressure. A10, you and me, hovering, we might be able to feel the beat of the blades.”

A10 nods. “I’m not actually really sensitive to that sort of thing, but – hell, we can give it a try.”

“Fuck,” Alycia blurts out. Charlotte sighs. The others stare. “Sorry,” Alycia says, not sounding sorry. She taps her ear. “I’m monitoring police bands. They’ve gone into the school – the effect on the boys and on male faculty is still in place, but it isn’t spreading any more, the male cops are okay. But they’ve done a head count.” She looks around at the others.

“We show as missing, though they have reports of students fighting the soldiers, so they’re assuming that’s where we are. The tally of other kids missing, though, is almost all male. Most of them --” She pauses, listening. “-- most are from the more wealthy families at Gardner. But it also includes a number of metas, even ones not ‘out’ – Trace, Adam, Harry …” She glances up at Aria and Charlotte. Something’s going on in her eyes. “… Jason.”

Aria raises an eyebrow. “Not Leo?”

A raised eyebrow, a furrowed brow. “Really? No, not Leo. There was an initial report about that, but they finally found him, still at school, asleep.” She shakes her head, closes her eyes, takes a breath, goes still. When her eyes go back to Aria, though, there’s something different about them, and her voice. “Also. Summer. She’s missing, too.”

Aria starts. She opens her mouth to say something, then closes it again. “I’m sure she’s – okay. I don’t know why …” She shakes her head slightly. “I’m sure she’s okay,” she repeats, then looks at A10 and Superchica. “Start hovering. I want to know the moment as that helicopter arrives.”

* * *

“Opening hanger doors now,” one of the techs tells Alex, who nods, watching the power levels on the stealth systems. All is holding steady. Overhead, there’s barely a metal clank as the ceiling over the chamber opens, letting in sunlight – abruptly blocked when the Chinook drops below the level of the visual distortion field. The clatter of the copter inside the chamber is deafening, and the downdraft threatens to blow out the control room window out. (Alex does see one trooper knocked off her feet – her own fault, they’ve all been drilled on this.)

As soon as the wheels touch ground, Meg is out the door of the control room, headed for chopper to check on the spell, even before the dual rotors have stopped spinning or the turbo-shaft engines have dropped their whining to tolerable levels. Alex follows quickly, well-aware the blow-up to come.

They make it halfway across the vast floor, dotted with crates, abandoned (too expensive to salvage) machinery, and a large magic circle that Meg had installed on one side of the room (silver embedded into the concrete). Other soldiers are stepping out of their cover area, a few coughing in the dirt and dust stirred up.

The cargo door in the back of the Chinook lowers open, and the third of the Three jumps out, not even waiting for ramp to hit the ground. Tis is shouting something, her Turkish complexion splitting the difference between Meg and Alex. The noise is still too much to get the words, but the expression and gestures are clear: Tis is royally pissed at Meg, and it’s going to be up to Alex to keep the two of them from doing something drastic. She’s not paid enough for this, but thank the Goddess the cause is worth it.

And that’s when things go to shit.

Even as Alex watches, three figures drop down from the still-closing hanger hatch. One lands directly onto the rear rotor assembly, seriously damaging the hub; Alex realizes that chopper isn’t going to lift again without serious maintenance, even as she triggers her personal force field. It’s invisible, but she can hear its comforting hum, a meter out in all directions.

The other two plummeting figures pull out of their drop, one of them stooping on Tis and sending her flying through the air with a kick; the other one arcing toward the cluster of soldiers running to the chopper, scattering them. Small arms fire starts up almost immediately, and Alex pulls out her phone, calling up the app she’s spent so many hours customizing.

* * *

Meg twists the air around her, reappearing in her magic circle, which she triggers with another whispered word, the scent of honey in the air around her. None can enter now, and another word and a flash of cinnamon extends protection from the spirit realm to weapons fired by her enemies.

But that doesn’t mean she, in turn, cannot use her magic on those without …

* * *

Credit where credit is due, even with the surprise the XWhy soldiers recover quickly, and stick to their discipline. Most have side arms, but there are lockers on the walls, and half their number heads that direction while the other half lay down what suppression fire they can.

* * *

A10 lands by one of the rusted pieces of equipment, still bolted to the floor. She grabs it, and with a very loud and prolonged grunt tears it from its moorings. Another roar and it’s flying across the room.

It’s fortunate that so little time has elapsed. Those soldiers racing for the weapons lockers haven’t gotten close enough to be mashed by the flying machinery that strikes the lockers, demolishing whatever was within them.

* * *

Alycia slides with all deliberate speed down the rope she’s secured above. It’s not a recommended way to enter a firefight, but the opposition is visually and existentially distracted by A10 and Superchica swooping and diving and attacking, and Aria stalking about and throwing things (smaller things than what A10 just did, to be sure, but daunting enough for the grunts).

Her own mission is simple – get into the Chinook, take down whoever’s inside guarding the prisoners, secure same. She resents being out of the action, but she’s the most logical person for the job (i.e., the least necessary for the fire fight). She understands the logic, even if the emotions disagree.

She’s halfway down, when another of the soldiers goes flying – not under her own power – out the back hatch of the chopper, which then quickly rises to a close.

Alycia makes a command decision that her mission has changed. She’s not sure what’s going on, but breaking into the chopper is going to take time and exposure, and she’s not sure it’s still necessary. And there’s so much else she can do …

* * *

Above the window of the control room, two spheres, maybe a meter across, suddenly sprout paired, stubby barrels. The lasers start firing from them a moment later.

Alex smiles, and taps her phone for the next surprise.

* * *

A10 and Superchica both swoop down and grab crates, throwing them at the turrets. The defensive override engages, and the lasers turn the crates into charred slivers before they get within a dozen meters.

Keri turns to Andi to say something. Her mouth opens and she dives forward at blinding speed, intercepting the explosive grenade round Tis – now recovered and shouting orders to the troops – has fired at A10. Keri succeeds in blocking the shot with her own body, but is knocked high in the air, tumbling back to the ground with a limp thud.

A10 growls, and launches herself at her next target.

* * *

Alycia’s crouched behind the Chinook’s rear landing gear, the bulk of the armored aircraft giving her reasonable cover. She’s using this to good purpose, squeezing off single shots at the opposition troops, focusing on those whose position and movement implies rank or peer leadership of their fellows.

The gel rounds aren’t designed to penetrate armor, so she has to take extra care to ensure each one hits some portion of exposed skin, taking down the individual and, not coincidentally, whatever rallying or tactical direction they were providing to the others.

It’s unfortunate she can’t see Tis from her angle, but she doesn’t lack for targets, and so is, in her own way, content.

* * *

Charlotte rises up out of the concrete floor in front of Meg’s magic circle. “Boo!” she says sweetly, and swoops forward –

– flattening (in a most embarrassing fashion) against the circle’s mystic edge.

Meg is still startled enough to let loose with a flaming ball of mana that flickers with a fluorescent yellow light. It shoots toward Charlotte, rather than A10, her intended target. It’s not lethal, at least not to women, but it will slow down time in a limited sphere, taking its target out of the battle.

It passes harmlessly through Charlotte and expends its power on mere air.

* * *

Alycia’s efforts have attracted Alex’ attention, and she puts in an over-ride code to target Charade in her position behind the Chinook. The lasers don’t do much to the armored craft, but its tires are another matter, and Alycia dives out of the way, zig-zag running toward the far wall.

A10 swoops across her path, drawing the turrets’ fire. One beam grazes her arm, which freaking hurts. Andi dekes and corkscrews, trying to avoid the shots, and diving down toward the dwindling number of soldiers to see if that will complicate the targeting problem.

* * *

Alycia eye catches on something interesting. She smiles and starts to circle low around toward it.

* * *

Alex is startled by an impact to her force field. It’s Aria, who’s pounding away at the barrier, an electrical glow around her hands. Before Alex gets concerned by the dropping power levels, another HE round blasts Aria ass-over-teakettle to the far wall.

Alex gives Tis a thumbs-up, then her eyes widen. Tis whirls, but too slow to avoid a kiting punch to the jaw by A10. Tis goes down, hard, skidding five meters across the floor.

“Dammit!” Alex shouts, beginning perhaps to lose her cool just a smidge. She explicitly targets A10, who’s landed to make sure that Tis is out of it, with both turrets.

Superchica steps in the way, taking the shots with crossed forearms.

“Dammit, Keri, I’m not made out of paper!”

“Just go punch something, chica! I – _got – _this.”

* * *

Alycia has arrived at her destination, the control room. The noise from without as she slips through the unsecured door is enough to attract the attention of the one console monkey still there – though she doesn’t even get her hand on her pistol before Alycia’s tranqed her.

It takes Charade precious seconds to determine that she can’t override the turrets, not while Alex is running them remotely. Which is fine: there’s more than one way to skin a high-powered weapon system.

* * *

The lights go out in the building. In fact, all the power goes out. The only illumination in the main warehouse space comes from light sneaking through the not-yet- (and not-likely-to-ever-be-) -closed hanger doors, and some emergency battery backup exit lighting that Alex had put back into operation when they acquired the space.

There’s no battery backup for the laser turrets. Those are powerful enough that it would have blown the budget they had been given, for an extreme that seemed so unnecessary.

Superchica slumps to her knees, conscious of a vague odor of toast, but just grateful the energy’s stopped.

* * *

"No, no, no!" Alex shouts, tapping furiously at her phone.

“CONNECTION LOST” the app informs her helpfully.

“BOO!” shouts Charlotte, abruptly appearing in front of her. The force field is still in place but the aura of fear from the ghost passes through it, and through Alex – who screams, throws down her phone, and runs.

* * *

Across the room, A10 is pounding on the magic circle. “Come out here and face me, you bitch!” she shouts at Meg.

Meg in turn is watching her like a new but particularly distasteful species of beetle. “You would betray your own gender, girl – destroy everything we are trying to build, everything we want to do for you! Ye ganch, ye don’t deserve --”

Meg begins to shape a ball of energy in her hands. It’s magic that She Who Wills has forbidden her to learn, let alone use, something outside the Craft, but it will strike down even a woman, and Meg in her fury is more than ready to take that step.

“You’re trying to ‘build’ something on kidnapping and guns? Yeah, look how that’s working out for you,” A10 yells, pounding harder.

“It’s quite useless, ye thick eegit,” Meg chides her, Irish accent thick with sarcasm. “No living thing, no spirit, no soul can breach this circle. But once you and yours are done and dead, I’ll walk out of it with ease and watch the birds pick your bones.”

Someone taps Meg on the shoulder. She whirls, eyes goggling to see Aria standing there. “You might want to reevaluate that claim, or else qualify your definition of soul,” Aria says. Then she clocks her.

Meg goes down in pile, and A10 almost falls as well, as her next punch meets nothing but thin air. “You couldn’t do that sooner?”

Aria smiles. “We’ll do a post mortem at the next inter-team exercise.”

* * *

Alex is running down the corridor, as fast as she dares in the near-utter darkness. Far, far ahead is an Exit sign, casting the only faint illumination here. She’s counting doors as she goes, knowing that after the twelfth one there will be a hatch on the floor. It’s unpowered, so she can get away – indeed, get away more easily, as the alarm system is also down.

She realizes that the gunfire behind her has trickled to a stop. She tries to hurry further, a fear she’s not felt in a decade or more gripping her guts, turning them to water.

She’s just past the tenth door when Charlotte’s voice sounds in her ear. “Oh, hello again,” the ghost, suddenly visible in the blackness, says to her in an ever-so-polite fashion.

There’s something very wrong here, and it takes Alex a moment to realize that, in the darkness, Ghost Girl has appeared inside Alex’s invisible force field.

“Go to sleep, sugar,” the ghost says, and then everything is darkness.

* * *

The central hall of the warehouse is still shadowed, but the teen women can see clearly enough from the light filtering in from overhead. Debris and unconscious bodies are littered here and about, but their attention is on the Chinook. They have it roughly encircled; there are multiple hatches and doorways on the CH-47, so it won’t do to have someone sneaking out some other way.

Keri, closest to the back hatch, steps forward, and gives it a sharp rap. It’s not enough to damage the armored body, but only because she’s restraining herself. She’s pretty much undamaged, but her outfit has become effectively short-sleeved from fending off those lasers, and she’s more than a bit cranky. She gives a second heavier rap, this time actually leaving a dent.

“Okay, you in the chopper – come out now,” shouts Alycia. She has one pistol out, Chapman stance, aiming at the rear of the Chinook, total-contact, thumbs-forward grip. If she has to shoot, given a chopper full of hostages, she must hit whatever she shoots at. “And don’t even think about using those folk as hostages. We can and will come in, and it will not end well for you. Your only hope of walking out of here without broken bones or broken head is to comply. Now.

After a moment, there’s a clunk inside the Chinook, and the rear hatch starts to slowly lower down to a ramp. Superchica and Alycia both tense up with attention, and loosen for action – and Aria, Ghost Girl, and A10 assume combat stances on their own quarters of the chopper.

The ramp hits the ground with a thud.

And Summer Newman steps forward. She gives a little half-wave to Keri and Alycia. “Hi! Complying here. Everyone’s A-OK!”

* * *

The truth outs quickly, albeit with glares (some from Alycia, but not just a few from Aria, silently promising a long discussion later). “I’m replacing Leo,” she tells them. Realizing that things were headed toward kidnapping, she had hidden Leo’s sleeping form and taken his place with a holographic display, swearing the other girls in the ConEc class to secrecy.

Once the shooting had started, she’d overpowered the pilot and two other guards in the Chinook (including the one physically ejected that Alycia had seen), then buttoned up the craft, with the not-incorrect supposition that the armored chopper itself was the safest place for the still-sleeping boys.

Who are actually finally beginning to stir.

* * *

“Well, that was fun,” says Andi. She cracks her knuckles.

“For certain values of ‘fun,’ esa.” Keri rubs her forearms, which, the power and lighting restored, look sunburned.

“We have protected our friends, thwarted evil, and worked together,” Aria says solemnly – then smiles. “We also kicked ass.”

Alycia snorts. “Take that, Patriarchy,” she mutters. After a moment, she seems to realize the others are all looking at her. She rolls her eyes, holds up a fist. “Girl power.”

Summer giggles. “The boys will be disappointed.”

“What do you mean?” Charlotte asks.

“Well, they always seem so excited about ‘girl on girl action,’ and here they slept through it all.”

Andi and Keri chuckle, Alycia barks out a laugh, Aria snorts with a light grin. Charlotte looks confused, but finally smiles at everyone else’s amusement.

“Do you think we’ll figure out what this was about?” Andi asks, after a long moment.

Alycia glances over at the AEGIS agents (with specialized military paramedics) gathering up the XWhy troops and commanders, most of them still unconscious. “Probably. Or someone will. Whether we ever get told about it is another question. Though I have an idea who to ask that question of.”

“Targeting men. Hostility toward men.” Aria shakes her head, looking to Summer. “I could hazard a guess.”

Summer glances at Alycia, opens her mouth, then closes it.

“Well, it’s stupid,” Andi comments. “Nothing wrong with boys.” She throws a look over toward the chopper. “Even if some are weirdly slower than you might expect.”

“I’m just glad we could help,” Keri says. “Anyone tries to take down our friends, has to go through us.”

“Maybe,” Charlotte muses slowly, “we could get together for coffee. Sometime. Or sometimes. Every few weeks. A regular get-together. Be compatriots outside of our respective teams, if you will.” She looks around at the others. “Unless someone would rather not.”

There’s a moment of silence. Alycia looks up from her pistol she’s cleaning, realizing they’re all looking at her. Again. She smirks. “Oh, please, don’t let me stand in the way. Solidarity coffee for all.” After a moment. “Fair trade, sustainably raised. Decaf. Soy milk.”

“No cinnelattes?” Summer asks, with a grin.

“Ahriman forbid!” Alycia replies – then smiles as well.

All in all, smiles are not a bad way to end International Women’s Day. Or, frankly, any day.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6526938

Other than wondering why Summer wouldn’t just haul Leo out of the room & then do the switch in private (her secret ID still matters to her), and not being fond of the implication that Aria has no soul, I think it looks solid. :slight_smile: Plenty of neat detail, a good back-and-forth action packed comic-book throwdown.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6527010

1. Um … because … um … I added too much detail. I mean, really, I could have just had her leave off the “swore everyone else to secrecy” bit and it would have been fine. My inclination is to explain things too much for purpose. And there were actually several scenes I had vaguely plotted, like the “Approach to the Warehouse,” that I realized were just unnecessary. Charlotte teleports them to a convenient shady spot on the roof, they dive in, mischief managed.

In reality, I could probably have cut this in half, with another revision.

2. I think Aria has a soul. I think Meg’s (and her spell’s) definition of a soul is too narrow. (So’s Alycia’s, for that matter. Go figure.) This could, if one were interested, engender some character discussion or contemplation. Or you can chalk it up to that weird Guest Author who did some fun stuff but didn’t really get the character. :slight_smile:

* * *

This as actually more involved than I had thought originally. For one thing, there’s a raft of characters – the five “heroes” (plus Summer), the three (well, two-and-a-half in characterization time) “villains”. I ended up actually outlining a series of scenes, then filling them in, something I usually don’t do (if that wasn’t obvious). And, at that, characters still tend to disappear for inordinate chunks of time. (Give me a pair of people sitting at a table, chatting, to write any time.)

But … it was a lot of fun. I think I underplayed (and didn’t as well differentiate) A10 and Superchica, largely because I’m not as involved with them, and probably didn’t handle Aria well (she get a little Vision-like stiff in places), and kind of drew on the surface stereotypes of Charlotte, and probably overplayed Alycia (go figure)*. But I hope I managed a few good moments for each of them.

* * *

So, for the record (Mike), here were the notes I got from Bill, which were both more vague (in what was going on) and more specific (in items to consider) than what I was expecting:

  • Justice League Fury - Arisia counterpart/leadership is 3 Furies

  • Imply, don’t state, that Hecate sponsors/influences them somehow

  • XWhy is militant misandrist org, mix of magic, military, high-tech forces

  • Throwdown @ warehouse w/ 3 Furies

  • Everyone needs something to do

  • Keri & A10 - flying bricks, distinguish as offensive/defensive?

  • Charade - precision e.g. head shots vs. commanding officers during melee

  • Aria - resistance, brick who can survive stuff Keri/A10 can’t

  • GG - power user, defensive teleports + magic shielding?

  • Summer took place of SOMEONE & was carted away on helicopter in holo disguise, surprise appearance in warehouse fight?

  • Leo - “I replaced Leo” meta ref to PC change

  • Jason - post-fight talk w/ Alycia, “we both have to look after Jason together”

  • someone else?

(The JL reference is to this. Which is a very cool 2-ep story, to be sure.)

So once I parsed through that (most of which I tried to do, a few things of which I didn’t – I didn’t particularly feel like dealing directly with Jason/Alycia in this context, though Alycia’s definitely pissed about Jason being abducted**, and also wanted to keep the chit-chat amongst the girls, while striving mightily to avoid being too non-Bechdellian), I noted down this:

The Furies, the three-person leadership council of XWhy.

  • Alex (Alecto, “Endless”) Punisher of moral crimes (anger, etc.) – commander, back at the base – black - tech
  • Meg (Megaera, “Jealous Rage”) Punisher of infidelity, oath breakers, and theft – mage in the RV – white, long red hair braided. - magic
  • Tis (Tisiphone, “Vengeful Destruction”) Punisher of murderers – soldier, organizing the troops, mediterranean - soldier

Which then gave me the framework for the antagonist scenes. Though I’m afraid Tis ended up with short straw in characterization, being mostly the angry-shooty girl. I’d love to do more with them some time.

I did manage do avoid naming Hecate, though Aria certainly has her guess about it. One origin for her name (thanks again, Wikipedia) is “from a Greek root: from ἑκών “willing” (thus, “she who works her will” or similar)” – thus "She Who Wills as her epithet. Hecate definitely operated these folk at a remove, complete with much smoke and mirrors and pomp and circumstance.

There is probably a story somewhere about how there are legitimate elements to Hecate’s misandry that would resonate with some of these characters. Before I got Bill’s notes, I imagined Alycia pretending to betray the others to go over to the Bad Girls Side, because it would actually not be a stretch for her (and folk would expect it). That didn’t work once I had the outline, but the disdain / disgust / hatred of what men have done to women and the world has some rhetorical merit that is worth exploring in a more open-minded discussion than Hecate’s TERFism.

Maybe when the girls get together for that coffee.

------

* I will admit my favorite bit is that Alycia’s “Spot Hidden Villain Lair” is at 19.

** Unanswered in the story is why neither Jason nor Summer were in the Home Ec class, which they should have been. I decided to simply not answer that and let the comic fans debate it.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6527075

*** Dave H. said:

But … it was a lot of fun. I think I underplayed (and didn’t as well differentiate) A10 and Superchica, largely because I’m not as involved with them, and probably didn’t handle Aria well (she get a little Vision-like stiff in places), and kind of drew on the surface stereotypes of Charlotte, and probably overplayed Alycia (go figure)*. But I hope I managed a few good moments for each of them.

So once I parsed through that (most of which I tried to do, a few things of which I didn’t – I didn’t particularly feel like dealing directly with Jason/Alycia in this context, though Alycia’s definitely pissed about Jason being abducted**

** Unanswered in the story is why neither Jason nor Summer were in the Home Ec class, which they should have been. I decided to simply not answer that and let the comic fans debate it.

I take my action-scene cues from the MCU, where a short phrase, question, gesture, etc. is used to suggest earlier character-building or hint at more to come. So what might be “underplayed” in any other scene is usually fine with me during fights like this one.

I was going to have Summer replace either Jason or Leo. I probably would have gone for Leo, for reasons you gave. :slight_smile: I didn’t mention Jason (or Kid Kelvin, or other boys in that class), since they’d have been unconscious, and I omitted Summer for the surprise reveal in part 2. The “well, almost everyone” bit was my one bit of foreshadowing.

Your villains were good and I liked their interplay. I had little to no specifics going in, so I’m glad you thought to flesh them out.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6527095

“Everyone’s a hero in their own way …” You did leave at a blank canvas, aside from a bullet or two, which actually let me get into their heads more than Keri and Andi.

Your suggestion on Summer subbing for Leo was far too perfect and meta to not do.

I did go to the wiki to find a list of male metas at Gardner. The actual numbers who had actual names that I could find (Kid Kelvin is not named, at least in the wiki, though he’s noted as a student) were actually smaller than expected. My assumption was that others (“conveniently” KK) didn’t get grabbed because the teams from the chopper only took people in the wake of the girls; kidnap targets that were on a line from Home Ec class to Meg’s van ended up not being taken because the teams tasked to do were taken down by the girls.

It’s probably worth considering some of the fallout from this – how Gardner reacts to the breach, how parents of students (kidnapped or not) react, how other educational institutions react (both in terms of personal security and in terms of PR vs Gardner).

(I will handwave that this is set in early March, but the current active in-Gardner timeline is still early-mid January. Ah, comics!)

Thanks for trusting the story to me. I’m glad I managed to entertain. :slight_smile:

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6527127

*** Dave H. said:

This as actually more involved than I had thought originally. For one thing, there’s a raft of characters – the five “heroes” (plus Summer), the three (well, two-and-a-half in characterization time) “villains”. I ended up actually outlining a series of scenes, then filling them in, something I usually don’t do (if that wasn’t obvious). And, at that, characters still tend to disappear for inordinate chunks of time. (Give me a pair of people sitting at a table, chatting, to write any time.)

But … it was a lot of fun. I think I underplayed (and didn’t as well differentiate) A10 and Superchica, largely because I’m not as involved with them, and probably didn’t handle Aria well (she get a little Vision-like stiff in places), and kind of drew on the surface stereotypes of Charlotte, and probably overplayed Alycia (go figure)*. But I hope I managed a few good moments for each of them.

I liked it. For a team-up, it did a lot well and it was enjoyable. Everyone got a real good moment to shine (I also liked Alycia’s meta “spot the lair” moment, though found it odd that she would drop hints to Keri and Andi about her real identity and not just “Alice Chin”) and the villains were likable in their own way (in the “man, I want to see how you go down” way) which is exactly how I like my villains.

I don’t think you overused Alcyia’s voice too much to overpower the rest of the team, but it was obvious that it was the one you were most comfortable with and that makes sense. Also makes sense that the two characters who aren’t PCs were the ones you had the hardest time with (though I thought you did a fine job). It’s kind of like when a new writer takes over a team book–“Well, I wrote Aquaman for three years, and Aquaman is on this team so I can write some good Aquaman storylines and I’ll figure out these other characters as I go.” Replace Aquaman with a couple other heroes, and you get a couple of runs of Justice League

Honestly though, the thing this most made me want was to write sometime similar. The idea of getting into all the characters’ voices is very appealing, though I imagine I’m going to be crap at it (I know an Alycia line when I hear one, but damn if I could write one). But that’s also part of the challenge and opportunity for growth. Plus I do have some vacation time to spend on it…

Tempting. Very tempting.

author: Mike
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6527508

Mike said:

I also liked Alycia’s meta “spot the lair” moment, though found it odd that she would drop hints to Keri and Andi about her real identity and not just “Alice Chin”

To be honest, I’ve forgotten how much which person knows about who. They clearly know she and Aria are in the Menagerie; I just assumed that her secret identity is known and that, for the purposes of this relatively light-hearted story, we’d avoid the angst over her background.

In retrospect, I could have simply had her say, “Family secret” or smirk or something else deflecting.

Tempting. Very tempting.

As a little Alycia-shaped figure appears on Mike’s shoulder and whispers in his ear. “You know you want to do it …”

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6527578

*** Dave H. said:

As a little Alycia-shaped figure appears on Mike’s shoulder and whispers in his ear. “You know you want to do it …”

Oh, like I need more temptation.

But if you’re so invested, I think I know where you could assist if you were inclined. I know where my stumbling block is going to be: picking something and sticking with it (the spectre of the possible is always my stumbling block). If you don’t mind playing editorial, make up some mandate about the story. Nothing as involved as Bill’s notes (unless you feel like it) but something to just ground the “episode.” Otherwise, I’m going to ping-pong between various ideas and probably half-ass all of them.

(Huh, this does make a fun little chain-letter style game. Someone writes a story, then makes editorial mandates of the next story. I’m sure there is something to it.)

author: Mike
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6527627

Here you go:

1. Set it at the coffee they end up going to as a follow-up to Charlotte’s suggestion. Not everyone has to be there, but it would be nice.

2. Strive mightily to have conversations about something other than boys (something I struggled with at the end, given both the cast and the original suggestion about them). School, powers, movies, some personality meme quiz that’s invaded the campus, something.

3. Inevitably, for something like this, someone(s) comes in to rob the till (and maybe the guests, too?). How do they take the person(s) out without blowing their cover (but without letting civilians be endangered, too)?

This can be pretty short – conversational banter, robber chooses the wrong coffee shop to rob, hilarity ensues, and scene. Or it could be much longer.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6527677

Well I wasn’t thinking about a direct continuation, but I guess I did ask for a challenge. We’ll see how this goes.

*** Dave H. said:

conversational banter

Ugh, my nemesis…

author: Mike
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6527707

Mike said:

Well I wasn’t thinking about a direct continuation, but I guess I did ask for a challenge. We’ll see how this goes.

*** Dave H. said:

conversational banter

Ugh, my nemesis…

I was lazy in choosing the continuation. :slight_smile:

With the banter, what’s why choosing a topic or structure for the conversation works so well. Personality memes are good for this. Heck, start in media res – “Okay, question 5 - Last movie you saw?” That way you cut straight to character insights and contrasts (and how people react to the choices), and can avoid random small talk.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6527753

Well, I certainly gave it my best. Hopefully I didn’t rankle anyone too much with my own head-canons of the girls.


“What do you mean you’ve never seen _Star Wars_?!” Andi asked incredulously.  “Everyone’s seen _Star Wars_!”  

The question had been directed at “Alice Chan,” but both Charlotte and Keri shook their heads “no” as well.  Andi threw up her hands in shock.  

“Okay, Charlotte I believe but you’ve never seen it either?” Andi asked.  

“Nah, movies are just boring,” Keri replied, tapping away on her phone.  “Besides, that’s like fake sci-fi stuff.  I live real sci-fi stuff.”  

“That’s a contradiction in terms,” Alice pointed out before taking a tepid slip of her iced coffee.  Summer had made it personally for her, but Alice was still on the fence about it.  Sugar was a nice luxury, but she couldn’t imagine who would want to dump enough into a 20 ounce cup to make your teeth tingle--and then to add caramel on top of that.  Horrible decadence.  But it _was_ tasty.  

It was a few hours after the raid on XWhy’s lair.  There were questions to be answered, both to local authorities as well as AEGIS.  Excuses about why some people were not where they were expected to be and outright lies about other things.  But now the five could relax with a refreshing drink at Blintzkrieg--it would have been six, but it was time for Summer’s shift.  

“Okay, but you’ve got to at least give it a try,” Andi pleaded to the group.  “It’s amazing,” she exclaimed, her eyes over-exaggeratedly wide as she spoke.  

“It is a good movie,” Aria agreed.  This assurance merely made Alice audibly scoff and crinkle her face into a disbelieving scowl.  Aria gave her a doting smile in return.  “It’s about a valiant group of freedom fighters rebelling against a tyrannical dictatorship.  You'll love it.”  

The scowl deepened and Alice looked to Andi for confirmation.  “Yeah, that’s pretty much it,” she said after a moment of thought.  

Alice took another sip of her coffee and muttered, “Well, it’s probably highly glamorized.  I bet there aren't even any caves involved.”  Andi and Aria exchanged a look before giving fairly no-committal kind-of-sort-of gestures.  

Charlotte giggled, but quickly reigned it in.  “Darling, my other friends have made me watch a lot of these movies and so far they’ve all been amazing.  Andi dear, have you seen the one with the horrible space critter?"

Andi gave Charlotte blank look. "You're going to have to be a lot more descriptive than that, Charlotte."  

Alice groans in frustration.  “Escapist fantasy is merely a tool of the consumer market to…”  The words die in the face of the looks Andi and Keri gave “Alice.”

Aria quickly covers for her though.  “She has a really strict family.”  Andi and Keri both ahh’d and nodded in agreement of this platitude.

“Yeah,” Andi said absently, “my parents say crap like that too sometimes.  But they still like _Star_\-”  

All the conversations throughout the coffee shop cease as they are overpowered by the baritone-voice man shouting, “This is a robbery!”  

His partners moves into position by the door, one with an eye out the front window, the other brandishing a pistol at the customers.  The leader made demands: no one move, eyes down.  Other customers back up to the walls or cower around tables.  Aria, Andi, Alice, and Keri all lean in close together at the center of the table.  To the gunman watching, it looks like another group of scared girls.  Unfortunately for him and his partners, it was a huddle.  

“Okay,” Andi whispers, “options?  Wait, where’s Charlotte?”  

“I’m still here, dear,” Charlotte’s voice comes from seemingly nowhere.  “Want me to just put the fear into them?”  

“Bad idea,” Alice points out.  “Fingers on triggers.  Probably never heard of trigger safety.  Spook them and one’s likely to just pull the trigger.”  

Keri smiles at that and glances at Andi.  “Looks like we’re just going to be faster.”  Keri started to stand, but Andi grabbed her by the wrist and held it to the table.  Keri looked over to her, offended and confused, and slowly--more for show than effort--started pulling her arm.  

“There’s no need to escalate this,” Andi said, her tone low but steady and her eyes locked on Keri's.  “We might be able to stop them, but we might get someone hurt too.”  

Aria pulled her gaze away from Summer, who acted meek and complied with the leader of the gunmen.  “She’s right.  There’s what, a hundred maybe two in the till?  Insurance will certainly cover it and we can still go after them once they leave.”  

“I can get the plate numbers off their buggy easy enough,” Charlotte invisibly chimed in.  

Keri looked to Alice, hoping for some sort of reassurance.  An almost inperciable wag of the head dashed that hope.  

“Good,” Andi confirm.  “Charlotte you-”  

A barrel of a gun slammed down onto the table between Alice and Keri. The four turned to look in surprise at the gunman who had been watching over the crowd now standing over them.  

“Shut up!” he shouted.  “Keep your heads down and stop talking!”  He began to leave, but caught the sight of Keri’s cell phone out of the corner of his eye.  With one quick motion, he slapped it out of her hand and phone went skidding across the floor.  

The next few seconds were blur.  Keri started to stand again, but Andi still had her by the wrist.  With an effort of force, Andi pulled Keri into her chest and clutched her with all her might.  The whole thing caught Keri by surprise and she froze for a moment.  Long enough for Andi to put on her best scared face and coo, “Are you okay, sis?”  

“You’ll all be okay, just stop talking and _no phones_!” the gunman demanded again before stomping off to another table.  

Not even trying to be quiet, Keri cursed and said, “You’d best let go of me or I will wreck you.”  

Aria glanced back away from Summer and looked into Keri’s hate-filled eyes.  “Summer just about has this all wrapped up.  Once they’re out the door, you can do whatever you want.”  

“Yeah,” Alice whispered, “don’t you want to go track down another evil criminal lair?  But this one's likely someone’s apartment that one of their parents pays for?”  A smirk and smug tilt of the head added for flair, but no one seemed to appreciate it.  

“Look Chica, we worked good as team again the kidnappers,” Andi whispered.  “Are we going to let some ski-masked amateurs ruin our record?”  

“_Super_Chica,” Keri corrected Andi and then shoved her away with a push.  The gunmen took a glance towards the sound of the chair scraping across the floor as they headed out the door, but barely paid it any mind.  They’d gotten paid and it was time to run.  “And _my team_ knows to let me do my own thing.”  

Andi scowled, but Charlotte’s disembodied voice drew her out of it.  “They’re in a rusty navy blue car and heading south.   Are we following, darlings?”  

Aria looked to Summer, who gave an assuring nod.  Alice stood and checked her bag for her kit.  Andi never broke eye contact with Keri.  

“Yeah,” Andi confirmed.  “We’re going...”

author: Mike
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6530359

[Nice! Some fun bits, some good drama conflict. Nothing I saw that rankled. :slight_smile:

I’m not sure I agree that Alycia would never have seen Star Wars … heck, she’s waxed cynical about Star Trek previously. Understanding the corrupt Western hegemony through its popular culture, and knowing the propaganda that the populace has been lulled with, are both critical to the Great Mission … but it was still amusing. No fundamental conflict there.

I didn’t quite get what was going on with Keri. You’d have a better handle on her than I do, but her angry insistence on action didn’t seem to come from anything I could tell. If there’s something further going on there, I’d love to know about it. I did kind of like that Alycia was poking at her, though.

Good stuff! Now I want to see the next installment! :slight_smile: ]

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6530481