The team arrives back at Vanguard HQ to examine the T.A.U.R. mini-gun that absolutely doesn’t belong to Sagittarius and to question #RobotOverlord; The Technomancer isn’t trending on social media. Cole takes the weapon to his lab to examine it. Rebecca, more convinced that she’ll find several more groups with Zodiac-related names tied to Walker or Santoro, his VP running mate, does some more searching, but without much luck. Eventually, their prisoner wakes up and they go down to question him. Robert Longo is sitting in his cell, mask off, looking somewhat resigned. Robert is pretty chatty – he says he knows he’s never getting out of the “kinder, gentler” SuperMax no matter what they say. He’s been working with computers since he was a kid – he’s 24 now. He never had a breakthrough or a triggering moment like other Quantums; his abilities started out somewhat minor but he kept practicing and trying new things. He makes his money mining bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies – that’s what the hardware in his business space were for. The drones are mostly just toys to help him fine-tune his powers. Then he started hearing about what Sagittarius was working on – hacker forums posted photos of early prototypes of the T.A.U.R. Someone on the inside was able to provide him with the date and time the truck was heading out that morning for testing and he just couldn’t resist taking a closer look. He hired some guys to drive the truck – he hadn’t even met them before but they were a referral and trustworthy enough for what seemed like a basic heist. He didn’t think Vanguard would get called – he figured Sagittarius would keep it on the down low and he’d be able to hide from them. He didn’t count on those videos getting posted to social media being enough to track him. Once he got inside the truck, he was able to “mind control” the robots – their computer brains were complex enough to do that, but, fortunately, not AIs. Not that he really expected that to be a thing, but there’s weird shit happening in 2016 and some days are worse than others. He had one pop the lock on the box inside the trailer and was suddenly nervous when he spotted the mini-guns – they’d obviously been designed to attach to the robots. He knew they’d be coming after him now and would not play nice – he’d be lucky to get out alive so he had all three attach the weapons and prepared for a fight. He didn’t expect to see Vanguard when the trailer opened, but was in too deep to back out.
But he’s wondering: What the hell Sagittarius is playing at? Mini-guns aren’t necessary for Walker’s Mars pipe-dream – he fully expected scientific equipment to be in there and their ability to fly was new. None of the photos he’d seen of the robots showed them flying. He says he didn’t build the weapons – he’s not an engineer. He’d build drones if he could, but why just a gun for that thing? Makes no sense to him other than to shift blame to him. Who’s gonna believe him over some powerful friend of the man running for President anyway? He’s read the info about Walker and Santoro – he’d dismissed it all as conspiracy theory nonsense. Now he’s worried since SuperMax is run by a friend of Walker. With any luck, they’ll just put him in cryo and won’t wake him up until they need him to fight SkyNet or ED-209.
The PCs setup a meeting w/ Patrick, Eddie, Cole that morning and fill them in. Rebecca fills them in on her research – but they already knew because, well, company network and devices. Cole did some follow-ups based on her line of questioning and checked public records regarding ownership and business affiliations. She had him check photos and records on Walker’s friendships from back before he got into politics. He turned up something on Gemini Inc and its owners – Jennifer and Jeremy van Hoosier – fraternal twins who went to college with Walker in the late 80s. Unlike Laura Petersen of Libra Consulting, they have no trouble being in the public eye. There are current photos of them everywhere – they do a lot of philanthropic work now – and they look like they’ve only aged five years since college. Everyone suspects they’re Quantums and they haven’t denied it, but no one knows what powers they might have. And no, their birthdays don’t make them Geminis according to the astrological calendar.
Patrick says he’ll work on getting them access to Sagittarius and thinks about maybe getting Eddie to invite them and other companies working on the Mars exploration project to demonstrate what they have since photos of their robots have leaked anyway. Rebecca and Skyrocket aren’t sure what that would accomplish since they’ll just “sanitize” their facility before anyone arrives and the demonstration won’t have them firing guns. They are concerned that Robert the #RobotOverlord’s demonstration let Sagittarius know the current iteration of the weapon had no effect on either Apollo or Skyrocket, which could be very bad the next time they run into the T.A.U.R.
Later that night, Rebecca heads to bed while Skyrocket takes some time to be seen by his adoring public. Rebecca “wakes” to find herself in the most lucid dream she’s ever had. At least she’s pretty sure it’s a dream…she and Skyrocket are summoned to a remote location. It’s night and there’s a 4-story building in front of them. No lights on anywhere. They approach the building entrance and there’s a sign: “Cancer Medical Research” but the “Medical Research” appears to have been “Photoshopped” and replaced by “Mental Health.” The doors open as they are reading the sign. There are no lights on, but enough light for Skyrocket’s low-light vision to allow him to see well enough (though it’s a dark, purple light that only adds to the uneasy feeling they get). They walk toward the elevators, which open on their own. They step inside and watch as it goes up to the 13th floor in the 4-story building. The doors open once it stops moving and they see 5 hallways in front of them: one left, one right, one directly in front of them and two diagonal halls traveling northwest and northeast. While they are deciding which way to go, a small tin car with working headlights zips down the northeast diagonal hallway toward them. It stops in front of them, blinks its headlights twice, makes a U-turn and heads back down the way it came. Rebecca and Skyrocket follow it. At the end of the hallway, the car stops in front of two impossibly heavy vault doors. It blinks its headlights twice and zips away. The doors open moments later, quietly but slowly. In the room is a large four-poster bed – it looks like something one might find at Versaille. On the bed is a young woman – Rebecca recognizes her as Abigail and she doesn’t look any different than the day of the incident that transformed her and Troy. She’s actually wearing the same clothes she had on that day. Seconds later they hear the voice of a young woman that Rebecca recognizes as Abigail. Abigail tells Rebecca that she and her “squire” need to help her right away – that the place she’s being held is trying to control her and use her powers for themselves. Rebecca knows all too well what that could mean. She’s been able to fend them off this long, but her resolve is weakening as time goes by. They need to find her and help her, but they need to beware of the Troll. He stands in their way and seeks to get revenge on both Abigail and Rebecca for what they did to him. “Hurry,” she says. Rebecca wakes and calls Skyrocket immediately. He doesn’t answer – he doesn’t actually have the dream until he falls asleep later that night. Rebecca’s odd message makes no sense until he wakes from his dream…
The two of them compare notes and realize they had the same dream. Apollo doesn’t seem to have had it, however. Rebecca thinks back to what she remembers about Troy and Abigail and that fateful day. She hasn’t seen Troy since he appeared in a photo of a crowd at a PR event Eddie had organized back in March. He stood in a crowd, but no one seemed to notice a troll-like figure standing among them. She’s not really sure what kinds of abilities he has other than hiding in plain sight. Given Abigail’s love of Arthurian legend, his powers might be based on that, but those vary depending on the source. Since she can’t sleep, she starts searching for clues on where he might be. A few hours and a few Internet rabbit holes later, she manages to find some information on Troy though her quest for information on the Cancer Medical Research facility turns up nothing. She finds some social media posts from high school friends of Troy. Mostly the usual nonsense from high school football players, but one thread between John Hagerty (he used his real name instead of a pseudonym) and “HornyDude69” talking about Troy’s disappearance led to a final post “check ur PM.”
The next morning, Rebecca and Skyrocket meet with Cole and Patrick. They tell them about their dream and what it might mean. First, they have Cole check records for Cancer Medical Research and a description of the facility as they saw it in their dream. Patrick says that Abigail would have been taken to Quantum Mental Health in the Central Valley, CA. It’s where most of the Quantums who have a mental break when their powers are triggered end up – mental health care is the first option with these individuals and only those who can’t or won’t be treated end up in cryo back at SuperMax. It takes Cole some time to dig up a possible hit on Cancer Medical Research (CMR), but he eventually finds information on Dr. Roland Johnson. He and Walker were friends back in the late 80s/early 90s. Johnson eventually went on to medical school where he studied pathology and oncology. He is a known Quantum – his powers were triggered before the Superhuman Registration Act was repealed. He was working abroad studying native plants for their curative properties when he contracted a skin disease that should have killed him. Eyewitness accounts described a rather gruesome process where Roland’s body seemed to absorb moisture from the air, creating space between his skin and his body. After about 15 minutes, he seemingly extracted himself from his old skin. According to scientists, the process mirrors that of a crab when it molts and casts off its exoskeleton. Johnson kept his old “skin” for research purposes and, because there were witnesses, registered his “regenerative” powers when he returned to the U.S. He also claimed to have minor hydrokinetic powers, which allowed him to absorb the water from the atmosphere. No other powers were confirmed, but rumors about him being able to transform his skin to chitin and regenerate from wounds suffered in a boating accident a decade ago persist. CMR is based in Texas.
Cole is also able to “access” the PM sent to John Hagerty. It was sent some days ago and told John to meet at an address near their old high school.
To be continued…