The PCs engage the armed men waiting in the hallways. Their armored suits provide them with some defense and their energy weapons prove to be more effective than the mini-guns the T.A.U.R. were armed with. Dr. Johnson makes an appearance and attempts to disarm the situation, but the PCs are not in the mood to talk knowing that Abigail is here and after their encounter with the other Dr. Johnson upstairs. Skyrocket attacks Dr. Roland Johnson, but his form disappears into one of the nearby security cameras before the blast hits him. The security officers prove to be tougher than they look, but not tough enough. Roland’s surprise attacks prove to be a concern for the PCs as he seems to appear out of nowhere and then grows to his normal height right under his target, his growth momentum making his blows powerful. During the fight, the PCs spot Abigail step out of a door down the hallway. She walks down the hall slowly and Skyrocket and Rebecca approach her, hoping to get her out of there. Unfortunately, she breathes out a putrefying stench, reducing his CON, but Rebecca is able to resist its effects. “Abigail” is eventually revealed to be Troy, imitating her through some form of magic. The guards are thrown about and eventually neutralized. Roland Johnson disappears into one of the cameras, but doesn’t reappear. In one of the rooms on this floor, they find Ruth. They’re not sure why she would be here rather than SuperMax or even the QMH facility, assuming she was instead admitted there. They’re not able to find Abigail in any of the rooms on this floor. They grab Ruth, Troy, and the other young people they had also found here and head back upstairs where they can get a cell signal contact Vanguard HQ. Once upstairs, they notice a fleet of black Expedition-style vehicles driving away from the building. Skyrocket flies out to investigate. He lands right in front of the lead vehicle and orders them to stop. They do and after a few seconds of stillness, Roland Johnson exits one of the lead vehicles and tells him to move out of the way. Skyrocket refuses and demands that he release Abigail. After a tense few moments, Roland seeming to assess the situation in this somewhat public area, relents and allows him to remove her from the back of his vehicle and fly back to meet the others.
The team decides to wait for Abigail to wake in this isolated area before heading to HQ. Once Abigail regains consciousness, she refuses to speak with anyone but Skyrocket. She creates new clothes for herself and sits down to speak with him away from the others. She’s not really comfortable talking to Rebecca yet, but doesn’t yet explain why, but she will talk to Skyrocket since she recognizes him from before her transformation.
She has no memory of arriving at the facility where the PCs found her. Despite what everyone in this reality (she keeps using that phrase throughout the conversation) thinks, she was not subdued after her transformation and her transformation of Troy and Rebecca. She had allowed herself to be taken away thinking it would be the safest thing for everyone else around her. She trusted the system to do the right thing. Roland Johnson changed all that.
Dr. Johnson had been using a combination of Mental Illusions (thanks to his wife) and drugs to “transform” Abigail’s mind. He’s been trying to convince her that Rebecca’s new powers have made her a threat to other people. While she wasn’t totally convinced (that’s why she managed to contact you in your dreams), she still can’t shake the images from her mind and is causing her to increasingly doubt what she did to Rebecca and Troy.
She’ll tell Skyrocket a little about Johnson’s plans. Despite his best efforts, she was able to observe him and overhear what he’s been working on. Ruth ended up in the mental health facility and has been under Johnson’s care for a while. He now knows about her killing Quantums with that dagger to steal their energy. His team’s been studying what causes breakthroughs for years now and has been behind recent events to trigger them using a certain chemical shown to increase the likelihood. Thanks to Ruth, he’s quite certain multiple breakthroughs results in weaker Quantums who are more likely to be unstable. Troy was on his way, looking like Abigail, to do just that. The video cameras at the facility were to show you guys breaking in and releasing her. (Bonus that it helped Johnson move around.) Abigail says Johnson is trying to replicate what happened to her – his key power allows him to shed his “skin” and recreate his breakthrough event, resulting in new powers most of the time. His most recent incarnation allows him to shrink down to a very small size and and essentially enter another dimension. His power level has remained about the same with each shedding, but recent notes have started focusing on timing the shedding with the “expiration of proximal Quantums to enhance new shell.” Cole’s analysis of Johnson’s experimental notes (good thing he was a biologist, not a computer forensics expert) confirms what Abigail is saying. Cole’s analysis also shows that Dr. Johnson’s records and research were being hacked from the outside. He can try tracing it, but it’ll take some time. Whoever did it was pretty good but not good enough…
She’s decided she’s going to do the same for a bit. she needs to spend time by herself for a bit and play with her powers to come to terms about what she wants to be when “she grows up.” Something with a castle and knights and maybe even some wise elves. She figures she can likely always come back to the same moment she left and catch up in case you need her. She doesn’t want to get involved with any of this right now – not that she won’t be watching since there are still people she cares about here, but shouldn’t be up to a 16-year-old to fix problems created by supposed adults.
It doesn’t take long for edited video from the day to make its way to the internet. Skyrocket and Eddie discuss ways to counter it and ask Abigail if she’ll agree to make a video saying Vanguard rescued her. She agrees to to it. Before disappearing and reappearing at Vanguard HQ, she talks to Rebecca and agrees to transform her back into the teenager she was so she can attempt to have a normal life again.
A few hours later, Cole’s analysis of Roland Johnson’s records indicates that they were being hacked for years – well, not hacked, more monitored without their knowledge, but his hardware and network were designed and created by Scorpion Technologies. There are a few pieces of hardware not available to the public but fortunately, the network traffic still needs to run across the Internet.
The entire planned experiment (SOP) along with the equipment specs are in their hands. It’s not clear whether this would work with anyone other than Roland Johnson though – it all seems to hinge on his Quantum ability to morph his power set. Johnson figured out that Ruth’s dagger suppressed all powers of those she killed, which prevented regeneration and healing, but it was act of killing another Quantum in such close proximity that allowed her to “absorb” their power. He did not include that in his notes, however; putting that in writing was far too dangerous a prospect. What’s worse is that the gas attack that Troy was going to conduct (while looking like Abigail) was only one of about a dozen scheduled to take place this week. The gas contains the chemical shown to increase the likelihood of breakthroughs, but with a side effect of often making them mentally unstable. The operation was code named “Quantum Harvest” – the growing number of unstable breakthroughs and a possible connection to the gas at the attacks would increase the population’s fear of such attacks, the unstable Quantums created, and concerns about who was susceptible to becoming a Quantum.
Johnson and the others would then announce they had a genetic test to look for a marker. It doesn’t really work, but their research would be corroborated by other Zodiac-affiliated companies. Roland knows the gas works, but he’s still not sure why; he doesn’t really care as long as he feeds people into the system. Getting people’s genetic material on file is simply a bonus – it might actually allow him to figure it out more quickly.
Final notes: A new experiment is scheduled 2 days from now. Skyrocket will go on a media blitz. Won’t hide from the press and give his story and save his reputation.