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Masks Issue 20.1 - I'd Like To Speak To Your Menagerie [Cutscene]


Edited 1515490787
The elevator ride was a calming melange of surface thoughts. Leo pushed frustration and fear away, dwelt on minutiae to mask his dread of what was coming, held down the darkness with fire and branded it, transmuted hesitation into frustration, apprehension into action, the way he always does. The small talk and mingling was equally meditative. Leo took stock of his temporary body, as much a guest house from the Quills as the carriage house is from the Gales. Height, different. Reach, different. He flexed foreign muscles. Different tone. He's more a long-distance runner or decathlete, I've got more of a boxer's build. Faster, but less power . The adrenaline started up, just a bit, when he started talking to Mr. Gale. Would the Silver Streak twig, with his years of experience? Or does one teenage boy blend into another, as long as they aren't Harry? The blood really started flowing when the betrayal became obvious. Sorry, kid , Streak's body language said. We did something that let down a child's hope for the future. Another step in the process of turning one of you into one of us. Hope you understand. I don't understand. Why can't you just be our heroes, god dammit? The HHL meeting started unsurprisingly, given that revelation, but then the attack came. There was a television, babbling nonsense answers like Obi-Wan Kenothankyou. Leo felt himself flashing back to the speech from "Johnny Mnemonic". "What the fuck is going on - WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON? Now suddenly, I'm responsible for the entire FUCKING world!" But something else happened. He started thinking about the situation, really thinking. Assets. We need assets. Three kids out there. Go get them. So he did. Now he's talking to people like he's in charge. "You, what do you do? Get over here and do it." More assets - the tower! The amazing tower they're in. It's gotta have so much stuff. Paths to obtain more stuff, maps, maze-solving algorithms, connecting resources to objectives. People need to be saved, first and foremost the people. Stop the Yule Lads. See if you can pull people back out of the bags. Whatever it takes. Where is all this coming from? He remembers the book hitting him with a flash. Vyortovia didn't exist before Byron's disappearance, which was like, last year or more. Why is there a book from the 50s? Get it. Secondary questions peel off. Why does Taz have it? What's her deal after all? Everyone else is chiming in. Adam mentions the cemetery, three steps before Leo was going to get to it. Leo remembers telling Charlotte to warn her friends that Vyortovia might be coming, after she crossed back. Now, he feels a swell of pride that his teammate - not just some younger friend from school, but a teammate , a comrade - is right there with him, keeping up, doing the job. Everyone has a plan, but it's all the same plan. Thoughts are crossing back and forth across the link, like rapid-fire neurons that transcend individual brains. And Leo feels perfectly at home being part of it all. No. This isn't your home. This is you being something you're not. What's that? You're being Jason Quill. You're being the man you've seen him be, on a good day. The man he could be, all the time. The man he almost is . The realization hammers itself home. Jason Quill is a huge dork. Yeah, he's been around the world, he's been well trained, he's survived shit that would kill a hundred people, even Rossum's four months of agony doesn't compare to what he's endured, and he's still a huge dork. He's so damned earnest. Not ignorant, not innocent , because he's been exposed to so much. It's hard to put into words. He's the sort of boy who'd write a love letter to a centerfold model, Leo finally decides. He's a good guy. We're cool. He sees Charlotte expertly use his body, his suit, his grapples, his tech to pull off a perfectly Link-like maneuver. "That's how it's done!" is his first reaction. But there's another. So proud of you, lady. And then Holy shit, is that what I look like? Harry, under tremendous stress, still nailed the barrier. There's people alive in that house because Mercury, using someone else's powers, did the impossible. Leo keeps looking down from time to time, checking on it, as he wrangles the hoverdisc. No problem. Jason screams, banshee-like, through Ghost Girl's body. Leo feels himself caught up in the moment. No sniping, no jealousy to hold him back, just enthusiasm. "You got this, Jason!" And then Adam. Sweet Jesus. Leo can't help but grin. We are the Menagerie. And we are wild .
That is the single most rewarding reply gif for this post. 
Dave, I admit to some curiosity about how accurate you think is Leo's assessment of Jason's character :)
I don't think Jason would write a love letter to a centerfold (he would more likely get flustered about the thought of doing so, and feel a bit ashamed that he toyed with the idea of creating a 3D model of the centerfold based on her overall photospread and other appearances), and I wouldn't necessarily compare what Jason has gone through with what Leo did (nor would Jason, unless Leo was trying to trump him with is own tale of woe), but beyond that I agree: Jason has a huge streak of earnestness about him. That doesn't always serve him well -- it's a reason he gets so easily flustered by people hitting him below the emotional belt line. It's also a reason why he'd feel a bit guilty/uncomfortable with Leo thinking his attack on the Yule Cat was purely a big heroic team thing. The fact he enjoyed it and found it cathartic of various frustrations he's been holding onto makes it less heroic in his own eyes, or will when he has a chance to contemplate it in some bit of Cutscene fiction. Jason also wouldn't appreciate / would get a bit defensive about being called a dork, though essentially it's not so far from what he think of Harry, as expressed elsestory. He'd probably be most upset about it because of it being true, in ways he's uncomfortable with. That said, he's definitely not (or not by intent, perhaps some by lack of reflection) the entitled snobby rich kid who had everything handed to him that Leo seemed to originally think of him. He is  a good guy, all in all. If walking a mile in Jason's Keds has helped Leo see that, then silver lining and all that.
We are definitely doing "Win A Date With Jason Quill" for the Pony AMA.
Because Jason's strange facsimile of a love life isn't complicated enough. :-D
The rules are simple. The contest is open to anyone present for the AMA plus anyone to whom anyone in the Menagerie extends an invitation. Essay question: what good do you think the Quill Foundation could and should do under Jason's direction? Jason himself can also enter, if he wins, he can spend the day as he likes. Entries are evaluated by our secret celebrity guest judge (really Dave). Numina wishes the best person luck.
Actually, Jason ... is less appalled by that as an essay question than one might think, in the months (okay a week, but for us it's been months) that he's been getting more involved in the outside world via the Menagerie, the question of responsibility and engagement with the world have become more important. He's still deep inside his own head's melodrama, of course (and that's a more meaningful phrase for him than it might be for others), but a variety of things have him wondering that very question. (He will not, at this point, enter.)
Well if you the player are on board with it, and the team doesn't mind, we can go ahead with it when that event rolls around. :)