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Masks 29.3 - Stick With It [Cutscene]

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Leo sucks at Lacrosse. At the very least, he lacks native proficiency with the sport. His athletic interests have been combat-focused: boxing, martial arts, acrobatics. He doesn't have a gymnast's muscles, but in the armor it doesn't matter. Out of the armor, he's built for a stand-up fight rather than paced endurance, to hit hard rather than to move quickly. His aggression is tied to his adrenaline, so any time his heart rate on the field gets high enough, he starts looking for someone to take down. The stick in his hand isn't helping. There are a handful of roles in the game. Leo is placed on defense to start with. The helmet is uncomfortable, the gloves and stick are unfamiliar, and the shirt and shorts make him feel like a dork. He buckles down, takes orders, obeys the callouts as best he understands them, and generally tries not to fuck up too badly. He's surprised at the end of the practice match to find people slapping him on the back, congratulating him, and commenting positively. There was plenty of "you could do better", but all of it is followed by "and here's how". In a school attended by the scions of superheroes, Leo reflects, it stands to reason that helpfulness is a habit. A couple of the exchanges do surprise him. "Hey, uh, Link--" "Leo." "Leo, are you gonna try for captain?" "Why, is there a problem with the one we have?" "Thought you and the captain would have problems." "Why?" "Uh..." He sits alone at the edge of the bleachers, wiping sweat off his face, trying and failing to keep his hair in any kind of presentable shape. The captain takes a seat next to him. "You'll be a natural after plenty of training," Trace jokes. Leo grunts. "Sorry." "Why sorry?" "I dunno. Just felt like I was awful. Wasn't trying to make you look bad for inviting me. So, sorry." Trace hits him on the shoulder. "Get the fuck out of here with that. You did fine." Leo grunts again, but smiles. It's nice to hear. "Hey, man. I've been meaning to ask you. You just went along with the invitation. You were an easy sell. Too easy. What's the deal?" Leo thinks about how much he wants to admit. "Well. Two things, I guess. First, I see this as a way to get to know you better, build that cross-team cohesion." He's not talking about the lacrosse team, and Trace knows it. He stumbles over the rest, helped along only by the patience of the other boy in listening. "Uh, I mean, I could be a big inconvenience too. 'Game called on account of police arresting a traitor, Gardner team now down a defender again.'" Trace frowns, but doesn't say anything. Leo feels obligated to fill the silence. "Which is the second reason, I guess. I'm not here to upstage you or any shit like that. The opposite. It's... nice to be on a team where I'm not giving the orders. Where it's not me that has to be up front. I can just, y'know, sink into the crowd, do my thing, contribute, and go home." This reason hits Trace pretty hard - Leo can see his face twist as he absorbs and recognizes these emotions. "Well, you won't get to do that shit for long," he promises sternly. "I'm gonna expect everything you have to give. If you slack off on this field, you're gonna hear about it. You hear me, rookie?" Leo manages a wry smile. "I hear ya, captain."
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Doyce T.
Pro
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I love this. :)
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The molecular lathe is one of the core tools of any super-genius's arsenal. You'd find it as commonly among gadgeteers as you'd find hammers among carpenters - it's just one of those things everyone needs. It's also illegal to possess without certain considerations. A machine that works like a 3D printer at the molecular level can churn out guns, explosives, or narcotics. If there's ever an opioid crisis at Gardner Academy, Leo will hear Agent Ted Waters coughing politely behind him before someone finishes saying "--think of the children". Leo expended considerable willpower last night not printing off some Celebrex. It's just carbon, hydrogen, and a few other common atoms, arranged in a biochemically interesting fashion. He settled for as much ibuprofen as he could stomach, and has been downing pills between classes today. It's helping, but the pain of his temper tantrum is still with him. Trace walked away earlier, leaving Leo still sitting on the bleachers. Nobody remarked that he came to lacrosse already wearing Century 108" handwraps rather than the school-approved brand, nor that he was walking carefully. Adrenaline kept him moving on the field. Now that it's worn off, the pain he felt on the drive home with Otto is back, with interest. He'll probably have to use his lacrosse stick as a crutch, if he's going to make it home without crying a little bit. He hopes nobody's here to see it -- A shadow falls over him. A moment later, Nono Rodriguez plops down on the bleacher beside him. "Hey there," she says, diffident, uncertain. She's only at home when there's a fire in front of her , Leo muses. "Um, I watched you play out there, a little bit. Are .. are you doing okay?" Leo blinks. "Me? Yeah, doing fine." Awkward. Don't want to talk about me. "Kind of rough adjusting to a new school, right?" Shit. Don't want to talk about this either. Every time Leo has changed schools in the past, it's been for bad reasons. Abductions. Parents falling ill. AEGIS moving him without explanation or consideration. The old feelings are welling up, and they're making him sad. Miss Rodriguez shrugs a little. She's sad too, from the look of it. "Yeah... I liked the old place. This is a longer trip for me." She punches him in the shoulder. Oww.. "But you'll do fine here! You're a superhero! There's lots of people like that here. So cheer up, Leo." Leo realizes something important, something that makes him feel like an asshole. "Hey, um. I'm really sorry about this. I... I never really.. got your first name. I just thought of you as 'Miss Rodriguez'. So--" "Nono is fine," she says gently. "Thank you." And then, more brightly. "So! Boxing lessons. You promised me and Taz." Leo goes instantly on alert. "Soon," Nono says, making the eye-see-you gesture with two fingers. And as she walks away, Taz walks behind her, into Leo's field of vision. How long as she been lurking nearby? And what all did she hear? Shit shit shit. "Hey rookie," she says, then strolls off.
The plot thickens! (I, too, am enjoying this a lot.)
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Agent R is going undercover! But will this adventure be her last...? The Garden is a secret training ground for super-spies. The Plenary Organization of Neutral Intelligence and Espionage Services trains its best field agents there. Agent R never attended - her mother, their best graduate, self-taught R before her disappearance [see story #46]. But now enemy spies have infiltrated the Garden, and R must uproot the fruit of evil growing there. She stands on the cliff overlooking the school. Her blonde tresses flow with the wind, and the setting sun falls over her left shoulder, casting a shadow across the landscape below. She holds a pair of binoculars with practiced steadiness to her eyes, studying the scene. Guard towers, manned by watchful sentry robots. Regular patrols of uniformed troopers. There - that's her route inside. Off to one corner, trainees are fighting each other with sticks, or practicing their shuriken throwing skills. One of the trainees in particular catches R's eye, and stirs her heart. He's wounded - bleeding, in fact! - but he still bravely fights. Only one thing remains. Agent R is famous the world over for her beautiful sun-kissed locks. She must bid them adieu if she is to have a chance here. Two hot tears squeeze from her eyes as she draws her utility knife, and with a deft cutting motion severs her long hair - and with it, her past - at the shoulder. The strands float away in the breeze as she regretfully releases them. Agent JQ loved my hair , she thinks. Will he still love me this way..? It takes R only a few minutes to use her handi-kit to cut through the fence and evade the laser sensors. The guards are trained, but her mother trained her better. Their routine is familiar. The patrols don't notice the slightest rustle of underbrush as R passes by. There he is - the young man she saw earlier. With bandages and medicine in hand, she approaches this poor trainee. He can barely stand. Her infiltration approach is also an errand of mercy, and with love in her heart and mercy in her eyes, she draws near. "Who are you?" he asks, eyes wide with wonderment. "A friend," she murmurs, and quickly attends to his injuries. The grateful stick-fighter can walk, but not without bracing himself on R's slim shoulders. Nevertheless, her struggles have made her strong, and she bears him up without difficulty. "I'll take you to your quarters," she offers. "Do you have your access key-card?"
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More soon. In the meantime, I have to wonder how Alycia would react to finding Nono's super-spy blog, or recognizing "Agent JQ" therein. No word on what sort of spy-related writing Taz engages in.
Bill G. said: More soon. In the meantime, I have to wonder how Alycia would react to finding Nono's super-spy blog, or recognizing "Agent JQ" therein. No word on what sort of spy-related writing Taz engages in. I'd love to learn about occasional cross-overs between their writing. I mean, only weird and/or crazy folk would do that sort of thing ...
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Doyce T.
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Sheet Author
I deeply appreciate the fiction happening at school. I really felt like the school scenes went over like a bit of a lead balloon, so I'm glad they're (at least) giving us a fun playground.
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Doyce T. said: I deeply appreciate the fiction happening at school. I really felt like the school scenes went over like a bit of a lead balloon, so I'm glad they're (at least) giving us a fun playground. The stars kind of aligned for an intro like this: I was sick (and still am); we'd shipped a f'n-huge thing on 3/1 and are doing hotfixes over the weekend for it; Leo doesn't like school changes (for very good reasons, given here); Leo's especially tired and guilty from recent events; etc. My only suggestion for the actual session would have been to not embroil Jason-as-PC in the Rosa Rook real estate swindle, and instead let the lawyer mention it to Charlotte in passing ("there's a thing going on"), since the resolution (as Margie says, "we need to close it") really feels more like her thing. That's between y'all, I'm just looking forward to the closure of the merge for Jason.
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Doyce T.
Pro
Sheet Author
Good calls all around. I mostly wanted to get the Rosa/Jason meeting in so I could track Jason-as-PCs reaction and use that as a rough guide to Jason as NPC. After that, it's the PCs' headache, as you said. :)
Doyce T. said: Good calls all around. I mostly wanted to get the Rosa/Jason meeting in so I could track Jason-as-PCs reaction and use that as a rough guide to Jason as NPC. After that, it's the PCs' headache, as you said. :) I'll get more to that when I get to Jason's Tale -- but there's a reason he was feeling like he as moving closer to his image of himself. Unlike the teen laff-riot initial scenes at the assembly, then at the home ec class, by the time Jason gets to the study hall -- and in a more familiar setting, with people he knows -- he was feeling more confident, more willing to listen to both his reason and his passion, rather than stand aside while the two of them chase each other in circles. That was the feeling I was trying to convey even more so when he got to the meeting. He's still nervous about the whole "hotfix" he has to do on himself, as well as the memory thing, but he's even gotten to be more at peace about that, too, as it looms imminent. Assuming things don't go horribly wrong, he's actually ready to take that next step in his life.
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A lot of people punch or hit Leo in the arm or shoulder. Pneuma did it, and now Trace and Nono . There's two possibilities. First is that he lives at that intersection of I'm Vulnerable, I Need Human Contact, and Don't Fuck With Me that a friendly punch is really the only thing people are comfortable with, but that they'll happily do. Second is that he's an acolyte of the God of Punches , so that idiom just keeps showing up in his life.
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Doyce T.
Pro
Sheet Author
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Edited 1520746830
Agent 1337 is back at the Satellite o' Love. It's not an actual satellite. Not that the expansion to the Menagerie budget would pay for one. Plus, Costigan has no willingness to let 1337 out of sight. The balance of power has shifted. Waters was handling Link, and by extension other super-villain connected misfits in the Menagerie's orbit. Like me , 37 muses. Least I only hacked into one's computer, rather than being one's kid. Blue balls of Buddha, what an experience that must be. Now Parker is in the picture. Has Costigan lost faith in Waters? Not by a long shot. 37 just finished planting new surveillance and monitoring devices around Gardner Academy. A freak accident during the War on Christmas (it's not a forced meme, it's funny you guys, laugh ) led to a dramatic simplification of SIGINT duties: monitoring one school instead of two. Will Gardner's own security pick them up? Probably not. A school like that prides itself on buying the best. And who is the best? Obviously whoever AEGIS recommends, of course! 37 saw the Alycia Chin debrief videos. In one sense, she's got a point. The incestuous ties between corporation, law enforcement, and education mean that Gardner's own security has a 37-shaped hole in its defenses, because they bought from the Mother Company. Mother makes sure Her eyes and ears can still work, even if nobody else's can. At least we're wise to Rook, or we'd be pwned just as hard from that direction. Too bad we can't force the rest of the Fed to follow suit without exposing sources and methods. Whatever. 37 knows that even the Satellite is compromised, and doesn't bother to root it out. Why? They'd just get into a surveillance and counter-surveillance race, and it would irritate Costigan past the point 37 prefers. He's most amusing at a slow boil, not when he's spilling out onto the stove. In the same way, Parker is partly oversight on Waters. We've given you all this power, now we're putting a second set of eyes on the situation. And someone, somewhere, is spying on Parker. The agent sighs, and glances up at the wall, at the one piece of print-out allowed to stay unshredded for this long. In the not-too distant future, next Sunday A.D., There was a spy named Moi, not too different than you or me. I worked on the Men-a-ger-ay, just spying on them to pay my way, I did my job with a cheerful face, but the boss is always grumpy So he put me in this place They'll send me cheesy heroes, The worst they can find, I'll have to sit and watch them all And they'll monitor my mind Now keep in mind I can't control When the spying begins or ends Because of their shenanigans Them and all their robot friends Robot Roll Call: Pneuma! Otto! Scribbled next to this is an addendum: Numina! Now Since Renamed! God dammit! If you're wondering if I'll ever leave and other science facts Then repeat to yourself, it's a Federal job They completely own my ass It's Mystery Science Theater 1337!
Delightful.