Nukes: It’s a blindingly bright afternoon here in Los Doce, California. The sun is beating down on the streets like a massive glowing boot, driving the populace under roofs and into oceans to seek shelter from the heat. For you, Sora Dorn, the searing conditions are of little concern. You are currently holed up in your air-conditioned and climate-controlled bedroom, pouring over the chatter of the teeming masses on your laptop.
“Parahumans Online > Parahuman Life > Current Cape Events > Los Doce > New Cape In Soledad???”
The thread is abuzz with conversation and theorizing regarding this scrap of security footage from the 7/11 that got wrecked earlier today. In the grainy but intelligible video, you can clearly see two relatively bulky white dudes with shaved heads get tossed through a window with a discharge of lightning behind them. The general consensus is that there appears to be a new cape in town, a hero or vigilante by the looks of it. According to several PHObics, the guys who had gotten injured (and in one case, iced entirely) were involved with those psychos from up north. The Pure Riders. While a few people are shit-posting about Arclight taking the law into his own hands, not a ton of capes in the area have lightning powers and a beef with the Riders, so this thread is currently awash with speculation as the the identity and nature of this mystery vigilante. And the one entrusted with keeping them from tearing each other apart is you, LotOnMyMind, one of the Moderators of the Los Doce subsection of the Parahumans Online message-board and forums. A badge you wear with pride.
In the corner of your eye, another you sits reclining on your bed, drumming her fingers as she watches you work. There is a crime against the laws of physics sitting under your bed, in the little hidey hole in the mattress your mom doesn’t know about.
What will you do?
Sora Dorn: Sora rubs her eyes a bit and stretches. It’s been a bit rough today, and she’s been distracted. She’s supposed to be doing her homework, and later she has a piano lesson that she hasn’t practiced for, but she’s been… distracted. She glances over at her double and then back at the computer. She finishes her current post
“Look, I’m not saying I think she’s a villain, but you’re not allowed to crap all over people who think she is. We don’t know anything about this girl yet, but she’s out there in costume so we’re all just going to have to wait and see. Try to keep things civil or you’re going to have to leave the thread.”
She clicks over to IRC and PM’s one of the other moderators, a person called LiasonMonkey. They’ve never met, but they’ve known each other online for about a year. Liason is good people but a little weird. Sora pegs her as something of a shut-in, and maybe on some kind of disability. She’s online way more than Sora is, and usually knows what’s what.
“Hey, so what do you think about this new Cape? I’ve just spent 45 minutes listening to people scream about her.”
Nukes: “Well, the main problem is, was, and continues to be a lack of info. I’ve heard people saying it was a Miscreants hit, but it’s not their particular flavor of flashy. What I do know is that what we see over the next few days will let us know better. If this mystery cape is really dedicated to sticking grit in Cleanse’s craw and is this unafraid of collateral, we might be seeing more of this over the next couple weeks. If not, well, then maybe this is what happens when things get out of hand. They might go into hiding, they might make an even louder show, but one way or another we’ll be knowing more about them soon. From a personal standpoint, I can’t stand the Riders. Good that someone’s finally standing up to them. Here’s hoping we don’t find her strung up like the last guy to try and take it to them alone. Poor Weta.”
Sora Dorn: “Eurgh”, sends Sora, “Don’t remind me.”
She looks over at her double again, twirling her fingers through her short hair.
“I dunno, I can’t get a handle on this one. People keep saying it was a hit but I dunno. I keep going over what the shopguy said…”
Sora pulls up a youtube panel of the breathless interview with the shopkeepers whose store was destroyed. She’s already watched it three times.
“He says ‘she just comes in and then blows everything up’, which sounds like a hit, but then he says later that ‘there was a big commotion and scuffle’ which means there was time between her showing up and the place going boom.”
Nukes: “People keep neglecting the interview, as they always do. Curse you, all you PHObes with your short attention spans! Not to mention, if it were a Miscreants job, do you think they’d not have touched the guy behind the counter? None of the money was taken or anything. This was either a really brutal vigilante hit, or some newbie hero didn’t know their own strength. New heroes, independent from the Twins…honestly the refresher that city of yours needs. Jackal’s a start, but he’s so small-time he’s barely there.”
From over your shoulder, your double finally chimes in.
“It could be you, you know. You could go out and make this turd of a city somewhere worth growing up. Won’t even need Mom or Marduk or Adept of any of them. You know that little toy under the bed? That was our first time. Imagine what we can do with a little more under our belt, Sora!”
She was noticeably far enough away that she would not be able to read the text on your screen, not to mention she’s been staring at the ceiling for the last few minutes.
Sora Dorn: “I don’t…” Sora trails off. She unconsciously looks down at the bed where the portable hole is hidden. She turns back to the computer.
“Yeah, she hits me as really new at this.”
She pauses for a few seconds and then appears to make a decision.
“Hey Monkey, I know it’s a noob question, but what would you do if you were a Cape? I mean, like, boom, tomorrow you wake up and you’ve got super strength or eye lasers or something?”
Nukes: “Me? I dunno. I don’t really think I’m cut out for hero work. Depends on the power I guess. Maybe I’d be a rogue, like Fluidity! Unless I got some really dangerous or bad power. Then I’d probably go to the Wardens, see if they can help me.”
You tab over to the other thread. Looks like PHO User “unknownsoldier14” is shitposting about how the Pure Riders are “the last bastion against degeneracy” in this “shitskin-infested faggot hive”. Oh, how charming.
Sora Dorn:Sora wields the ban-hammer, booting them out of the thread. She checks their total post number, six, a sock-puppet. She sighs and dumps their IP into the firewall database.
She clicks back to Monkey, “Well yeah, but everyone wants to be Fluidity.”
She rubs her eyes, it’s been a long few days.
“You’d go Wardens? Really? I mean, you wouldn’t want to… like… I dunno. Forget it. I’m being a noob. I haven’t been sleeping much.”
Nukes: “Remember, I don’t think I’d be a great hero. Dunno if I’ve got that, y’know, spark. But if I had a power that could help a lot of people…or one that could hurt a lot of people…I think the Wardens, while they aren’t perfect, have the infrastructure to help you more than anyone else. And I’m sorry to hear, hun! You probably haven’t been sleeping for a reason so I won’t bother trying to cram advice down your throat, but know your old pal Monkey hopes whatever’s keeping you up gets dealt with.”
Sora Dorn: “Haha, yeah. It’s just…”
Sora pauses and watches the cursor blink for a minute.
“School stuff,” she continues, “You know.”
“I gotta dash, lets talk later ok? Maybe we can figure out who that new cape is.”
Sora clicks out of her moderation panel and hits a few key presses. The remote-booted Linux distro on the Cloud auto-encrypts its local files and shelves them as her screen returns to the default windows desktop. She carefully maintains her laptop because her mother has an administrator password. She’s not supposed to know that.
So she makes sure that she has just enough contraband on her computer (music files mostly, a series of Sailor Moon once, ripped from a friends DVD set) so that her Mom and whatever Deus Industries techies she has looking over her digital shoulder remain convinced she uses her computer the way she’s supposed to.
She doesn’t. She shuts down the false desktop too. And clicks the laptop closed. She looks out through her floor to ceiling windows. The room she’s in is on the 63rd floor. Looking out into the city is like peering into a steel and concrete forest.
“OK,” she says, to herself, to the empty air.
“If we’re going to do this, I guess we’re going to need a toolbox.”
Nukes: Your duplicate is now next to you, grinning with just-too-many perfect teeth.
“Now we’re cooking. What we need to do is get our hands on some good tools. I’m not talking about raiding the janitor’s closet, sister. I mean big. Like, the engineering department big.” Unfortunately, your double is cut off by the buzzing of your phone. Oh man, gotta get it before three rings!
You manage to get the phone open, just in time for the voice of Hera Dorn to sink into your ears.
“Sora, you are to be at Piano Lessons an hour early today. I have spoken with Mr. Costanza about trying some more advanced technical exercises and he informed me that you will be able to make use of this. As such, do be aware that I expect your Chemistry Lab to be complete before you leave. I have informed Lawrence of the situation and he will be here to collect you at 4:00.”
Sora Dorn: “Yes Mom,” says Sora.
After waiting for her Mom to say goodbye, she closes the phone. When is she going to get the time to do any of this? Well… she wasn’t really planning on sleeping that much anyway. “I’m sorry,” she says to her double. “I guess this will have to wait.”
Nukes: “Don’t worry. I think I might have an idea.” your muse says with a mischievous look in her eye. So you put your nose to the grindstone for the rest of the day, pounding your head against the wall with the Stoichiometry lab your Chemistry tutor had given you. You still aren’t sure if you’re a tinker or you’ve finally just cracked and gone entirely and completely bug-fuck insane, but either way it sure isn’t helping you figure these damnable conversions out more easily. However, after a long day of frustrating summer schoolwork, piano lessons spent trying to ignore the scrap of salami in your teacher’s mustache, and trying to divert your attention away from the fact that you’re suddenly seeing an imaginary twin, you’re absolutely exhausted.
You collapse onto your bed a bit after dinner, shortly after your Mom came in having a tedious-sounding conversation over the phone. She greeted you and promptly fucked off to her home office, as is the norm.
You finally manage to settle into a soft, comfortable, bone-tired sleep…Until you hear your new best friend scream “HEY SORA GUESS WHAT WAKE UP” into your ear.
You blearily crack your eyes open, fumbling for your glasses. Yep. 1:45 AM. That’s just dandy.
Sora Dorn: “Thanks Sora,” she whispers. Then stops, and looks at her Other. “Wait, I can’t really be calling you Sora, right? I mean. That’s cuh-ray-zee.”
Nukes: “Sora, you’re talking to yourself. The same you that told you how to build a hole in spacetime. Is any of this sane? In any case, it’s time to get your lazy rear up. We’ve got some tinkering to do, sis. As for what ya call me, it’s up to you. I don’t really care any which way. Now, listen, I could tell EXACTLY what you had rattling around in that brain of yours and I think I might have a plan to make that your reality. But, like you said. We need a toolbox. And dad’s isn’t gonna cut it this time. I’m saying we go right for the source. The R&D offices. We don’t need to go for the crazy stuff you and I both know Mom’s bosses are cooking up, but if we could get to their tool cabinet, it would be one heck of a head-start.”
Sora Dorn: “What!?” asks Sora, almost falling out of her chair. “That’s… super dangerous! I mean, Mom would kill me. Let’s just… like, find somewhere private first. Even if we do your plan we can’t exactly store a bunch of stolen tools and stuff under my mattress.”
Nukes: Your double shifts to a relatively bored expression and murmurs “Fiiiiiiiiiine. But once we find somewhere to stash it all, you and I are gonna go to TOWN on the fabric of the universe.” You know the area pretty well, having lived here for a few years, and you know that the Mosca Town developments are fairly new. This area’s gotta have plenty of places that just…fell through the cracks, right? You begin clambering through the absolute gauntlet that is your laptop’s startup procedure. From the way Mom came in tonight, you have a feeling her after-work glass of wine might be somewhat deeper than usual, so you’re less concerned with light and noise than you may be otherwise.
Sora Dorn: This means that her precautions are only significantly paranoid. She already has a few sites picked out, but she wants to run through the financial data tonight as well as check on the local security firms. It won’t do to pick a place that’s empty, but patrolled by guards and dogs.
Nukes: Please roll a Knowledge Check in Computers please.
Sora Dorn rolled (1d6)+2: 2 <Total: 4>
Nukes: You trawl around on a handful of real-estate and financial data sites for about half an hour, finding a couple pretty attractive looking properties. There’s an unfinished Taco Bell on 5th Street that looks like it will never come to be. It’s in an inconvenient place, but it’s probably not checked in on too often. There’s also the Fulton Shopping Sooper-Plex but that’s about an hours drive north in the middle of Riders territory. So yeah, no. Finally there’s a pair of one-story office buildings that were supposed to house some law firm or something of the like. One was condemned due to fire risk, and the other was condemned due to not being up to earthquake code and paying the price in a cracked foundation. One of them is about 3 blocks away, the fire hazard one, and the other with the cracked base is right by Farley Bridge, about a 20 minute bike ride from here.
Sora Dorn: “Hmm…” muses Sora, looking at her list. She checks her watch, she can’t really stay up for more then another hour or two or she’ll be a zombie tomorrow. She has some pep pills from last exam season, but she doesn’t want to start relying on them…After a few minutes thinking she pipes the location for the two office buildings and the Taco Bell to her phone. She’ll check those ones out. The Sooper-Plex would be perfect, that thing is never getting built, but now is a very bad time to be anywhere near the Riders territory. That new Cape just hit them, killed one of their soldiers, and they’re going to be buzzing like a swarm of angry hornets. She double checks her phone and then carefully pulling her door open, slips out of her apartment and downstairs to grab her bike.
Nukes: Alright, you have the time right now to get to the Taco Bell in maybe 40 minutes if you ride your bike. It’s over on 5th street, which will probably be a pretty nice ride. There’s a spot along the way where you can get a pretty nice look at the harbor. Your Muse giggles as she appears around the corner. You swear, most of the time you don’t even see her walk…she’s just already there when you walk into a room.
“Look at you, sneaking out, riding your bike alone in this big, bad city…might almost think you’re coming out of your shell there, Sora!”
As you pull your bike off the rack in the back of the building, you breathe in the comparatively cool night air. Good god it was hot today. The ride to the Taco Bell is brisk and uneventful. As you approach it, you notice that the building itself looks more or less done, short of the wood in the windows and the lack of a sign. The only thing that seems to indicate any sort of damage or anything is the hastily spraypainted “VD” on one of the walls. However, it’s surrounded by a hastily erected chain link fence, complete with barbed wire.
Sora Dorn: Recall: “VD”
Nukes: Gimme a Knowledge roll, please.
Sora Dorn rolled (1d6)+1: 4 <Total: 5>
Nukes: Uh oh. The black spray-paint was the real clincher on this one. VD could just be initials or something else entirely, but that coupled with the black paint probably means one thing and one thing only.
Viva Discordia. Motto of the Miscreants.
You don’t know if this is some sort of base or something, or if it’s just somewhere some kids were fucking around in once, or even a safe-house.
Sora Dorn: This is unusual right? I’m not in their usual area of influence.
Nukes: Well, the thing is, the Miscreants are pretty much all over. Big social media presence and all that. You’ll see kids wearing shirts that say Viva Discordia or tweeting #VD ironically alongside a picture of someone stepping on grass despite a sign’s earnest protests. The place where the legit scary fuckers hang out is just across Farley Bridge, over in the Gunsel Harbor area. So it’s a little disquieting, but nothing worth telling the cops about.
Sora Dorn: “Crap,” says Sora, shaking the chain-link fence. “This place would be perfect but…” She sighs. And looks down at herself.
“That’s why it’s taken.”
“OK,” she says, getting back on her bike. As she’s about to kick off she stops, as though an idea striking her. “What about Aros?”
Nukes: Your double, who’s suddenly standing on the other side of the fence kicking rocks, looks up as you say that and cocks her head. "I don’t know who the heck Aros is, but I’m personally for just taking it for ourselves. We could booby trap it and everything! But, hey, you’re the one who exists.”
Sora Dorn: “Hey, I know you’re me and you’re like my confidence and my ‘purest essence of self’ and everything, but – well you’re me, you know the average lifespans of new Capes. ESPECIALLY new capes with no defensive powers. Two weeks? Then they join a crew or they disappear.”
“And we are not joining the Olympians and we are not dying. Yeah, I think Aros can help, probably. Aros is you. Aros Han. It works, don’t you think?”
Nukes: Aros begins to chuckle, then giggle. “Oh, sister. It does more than work. Aros it is.”