It’s Chicago, it’s January, and as the rules of life are the rules of life, it’s fucking windy. Windy, capital W. The snow that falls from the sky blows almost horizontal down the street in spurts, intermitently broken up by sudden still silences where the wind dies an almost preternatural death before returning with wail like a banshee’s scream, without warning or build up. Still, if you’ve lived in the city long enough, you learn to live with it and so even though the sun has just gone down and the temperature is plumetting, the city is enjoying that early evening high point where most people pack into bars and dinners.
The cars move slowly thourgh the streets and at every intersection is a group of people waiting for a light to change, blowing into their hands or scrunching down deeper into their coats, trying to ignore or battle the wind, all unsuccessfil. Bastion sits in the back of a glistening black sedan, watching the mass of people outside, bundled up against the winter while he sits toasty and comfy inside, sipping some clear liquid from a glass slowly. “Mason, when we get back to the penthouse remind me to order out some chinese food. I feeling something with noodles tonight.” he lets out a slow breath that instantly fogs the window before him.
Chicago. The windy city. How does it compare to the Russian steppes where there’s literally nothing to block the frigid wind for hundreds of miles? Aleksei has no idea; fortunately, he’s never been stranded on the Russian steppe. It was cold enough where he actually was so this isn’t too bad. Still, when he walks out of the Chinese places with a bag of takeout in his hand, he does pause to whip the scarf around his neck.
Autumn is still in the process of moving things over to her new community garden in the South Side; but until recently she was set up in the Far North side, not far from here. She still has good relationships with the people, and wants the garden to do well; but she’s needed somewhere else. She’s on a nearby streetcorner, talking to two homeless people, and she’s holding a carboard box filled with small seedling-pots, each containing small plants and cuttings. Each of the two homeless people are holding bags of vegetables. “I’m sorry – I meant to stay until the spring, but I really am needed. I’ll stop by once a week, at least – and make sure the plants continue to grow well all winter. You don’t really need me anymore, I swear.”
<<+roll>> Bastion rolls Physique (+3) 4 for Powahz!: + + – 0 for a success level of 8.
The driver of the car nods, “Yes Mr. Shaw.” and Bastion sighs, reaching up to pinch the bridge of his nose, “How many times Mason? Ho many? I’m serious here, because I’d like to know the number so that I could to it quickly. How many times do I have to tell you, Mr. Shaw is my father, calling me that makes me unreasonably irritable.” “Yes Mr. Shaw.” Mason says in a flat unphased tone from the front seat. Bastion stares daggers at the back of the man’s head, “I hope your children never learn to read.” he says grumpily. Mason, still unphased replies, “Well that’s just mean, sir.” Bastion sticks his tongue out at the back of the driver’s head in retort.
Bastion never gets to quip back because as he pulls his tongue back between his teeth to make a scathing reply, there’s a sudden brilliant flash of light and the car the pair of men are sitting in instantly transforms from a slowing moving sedan to a slowing moving fireball.
Glass shatters from the concussive blast of the car’s gas tank going up in the blink of an eye, and the car itself is ripped open like a sheet metal flower, bits of it falling like dandelion fluff about the intersection.
There’s hardly a noise as a small group of black clad figures in body armor appear in the sky overhead, dropping down from the darkness above on lengths of black rope, their decent expertly concluded with a flipping away of the ropes and a shouldering of high tech energy weapons of some kind.
Aleksei Rasputin :was just starting down the street when the car explodes. It’s an instinctive response; the energy field flashes around him even as he transforms into metal. Exploding car. Assassins from the sky. Chinese takeout. Cursing in Russian, he shoves the bag of food at the nearest person. “Hold this.” he instructs then runs toward the car.
Whoah! is all that goes through Autumns mind as the car blasts outwards into the intersection. She thinks this almost exactly in tune with every single other person in the crowd thinking the same thing, as their emotions wash over and through her. The next emotion that crosses her empathic mind is ‘Oh shit!’ (that is, in fact an emotion, don’t let anyone tell you differently) – as the black clad mercenaries (presumed mercenaries) pull the badguy hit-squad routine and drop out of the sky. She’s a bit stunned for a moment, along with everyone else; but then gathers together her own emotions and her own wits, and takes a few steps closer. She’s a tall, lithe, green mutant – but no obvious power usage, yet. The homeless people she was talking with are already running; they have good survival instincts. Better then hers, really.
<<+roll>> Bastion rolls Physique (+3) 4 for Being a fireman… sorta: – 0 + + for a success level of 8.
Bastion says “Aaaarrrrrgghh!” it’s almost impossible to hear over the crackling flames and the background sound of people screaming and running, but there’s a human voice from inside the car. A fact made plain when a hand emerges from the flames and presses at a bit of superheated peeled back metal, pushing it away with a soft screeching sound. This is followed by an arm, then the majority of a torso, the skin blackened and covered in soot, what small scraps of shirt still remain on it already on fire. “AARRGH!!” the cry comes again, this time stronger as it’s owner gets a lungful of fresh air and seems to heave itself up through the hole in the roof of what was until moments ago a very nice sedan. “You…” cough, “you motherFUCKERS!!” Captain Sooty is NOT a happy camper.
The armor clad mercs seem to pause for a second, taken aback by the car birthing itself an angry cursing, if shockingly well build, mostly naked man. It only lasts a moment. Then the weapons hone in and bright flashes of light begin to hammer into the figure as it crawls forth from the not-as-flaming-as-it-was car. The figure, for all it’s trouble getting out of the burning wreckage, does little to avoid the flashing energy weapons, save toss a hand in front of his eyes as if they were annoyingly bright or something.”
Mostly naked men are not much of a distraction when burnt so Aleksei spares little more than a glance at whomever it is emerging from the car. Of much more concern are the black clad figures with weapons now firing them. Running’s just not fast enough so, spreading his arms to the sides like he’s going to hug people, he gives himself a rocket assist to get himself there faster. And hopefully snare some assassins so he can give them a really big embrace.
<<+roll>> Autumn Rees rolls Empathy (+4) +4 for Master Plant Control (2): + – – – for a success level of 6.
“That’s not very nice.” Autumn comments to herself, her voice growing more firm and resolute. “You could have hurt people! You could have hurt him!” They are, actually – still trying to hurt him. She’s tried, for a long time now, to avoid using her powers selfishly, or for anything other then growth or nurturing. She’s not a child. But…someone is in danger. Probably not the mutant in the car, true – but her, and everyone else around her. She reaches into her cardboard box, and takes out a small seed container, and gingerly sets the cardboard box on the ground. “Stay safe!” she whispers to them, before setting the single small seedling a few feet down in front of her. “And you, little apple tree. I need you to grow. Grow big and strong. And protect.” She closes her eyes, focuses on the little, tiny sapling, on its itty-bitty roots, and its living presence in the small patch of dirt…
And unleashes her power.
In a moment, the small sapling is twelve feet tall, with thick bark, a lush mass of green leaves and foilage, and tons of ripe green apples. Huge roots, like thick eels, coil around the street at its base. The entire thing wriggles slightly, like a serpent waiting to strike.
“Go.” Autumn says to the tree.
And the tree walked.
<<+roll>> Aleksei Rasputin rolls Athletics (+3): – – 0 0 for a success level of 1.
<<+roll>> Bastion rolls 5: 0 – – 0 for a success level of 3
<<+roll>> Bastion rolls 6: 0 + – 0 for a success level of 6
<<+roll>> Bastion rolls 5: + + + 0 for a success level of 8
<<+roll>> Bastion rolls Fight (+2): 0 + + 0 for a success level of 4.
The trio of mercs are focused on their target right up until the moment a shiny large man comes slamming into the group. The first man hit seems to soak the blow, shockingly enough, and roll his shoulder so that Alek’s hurtling form slides off of him to the side, the scrape of metal skin on polymer armor plating screeches in the air, and the three turn to eye their surroundings quickly, clearly surprised anyone bothered to get involved.
And then there’s a tree. Much like with the target, they feel no compunction against opening up on the lumbering ent before it’s even in range of them. Bark blisters away, leaves ignite in flame, and one of the two men pouring fire into the apple tree must have hit a large sap pocket or something, because there’s a screaming crack sound as moisture within the tree super-heats and turns into steam instantly, blowing the apple tree in half mid motion.
Meanwhile, no longer the target of concentrated plasma fire, Bastion has managed to peel himself free of the car and is in fact standing atop it’s smoldering smoking remains, the flames having miraculously died down to just embers. He growls as he watches the mercs turn their back on him, and he leaps from atop the car to land on the assassin nearest him, his arms wrapping around the woman’s head as he begins to wrestle for a choke hold.
That was… unexpected. Aleksei seriously misjudged how durable the assassins’ body armor was (unsurprising since he really didn’t even think of it). Plus he’s only slightly more maneuverable than an oil supertanker. Cutting off the thrust, he blasts ahead of him to cancel his speed and plows into the concrete several feet from where he wanted to be. More cursing in Russian but at least this time he’s relatively close so stalks forward to try to grab hold of one of them
<<+roll>> Aleksei Rasputin rolls Fight (+3): 0 + – 0 for a success level of 3.
Autumn watches on in horror as the tree is…hideously and terribly murdered in front of her, in painful and graphic way. She’s seen worse things…but on television, never in person. Even the dead cat on her wall the other day, that the Purifiers put there, was dead before she saw it. She lets loose a scream that she doesn’t even hear, still staring at the flaming pyre of her friend and little baby from mere moments ago. She doesn’t even have words, she just breathes in and out trying to calm herself. In and out. She doesn’t feel calmer. She feels more and more angry. “You sonofabitches!” she screams. “You god damned motherfucking murderers!” She doesn’t even hear herself, she just shouts expletives. She points at the small cardboard bundle of plants, and tries to grow everything in it; or as much as she can, compelling the saplings, the strawberry vines, and the blueberry bushes into life.
<<+roll>> Autumn Rees rolls Empathy (+4) +8 for master plant control 2 and two fate invokes: 0 + + + for a success level of 15.
<<+roll>> Bastion rolls 3: – – 0 + for a success level of 2
Aleksei Rasputin has left.
The merc across from Alek attempts to use the plasma weapon in his hands to block the Russian from getting in close, a sort of jabbing motion with the barrel aimed at Alek’s eyes to make him back off. Bonk. The weapon just sort of glances off of his cheek harmlessly as steel fingers find purchase on the high end body armor of the assassin. The resulting heave sends the pair of them crashing through a stack of pallets set in front of an alleyway and they disappear into the shadows, wresteling for control.
The two men pouring fire and fury into the tree may have made a different choice had they but known. One man is flailing desperately, gauntleted fingers scrambling at the forearm that’s slipped beneath her chin, the rifle dropped to the ground as she tries to figure out how to stop a burnt mostly naked man from choking her.
Her partner on the other hand… well… he’s just staring. Staring because a small tray of plants shook, shuddered, then EXPLODED. Ropes of vines like battle ship anchor chains explode from the container, whipping their way across the street and up the side of the building, ripping through masonry and a store front window as if neither exsisted. Trunks of what would be lucky to be called a sapling explodes out and up, braches tearing through power lines and a expanding branches swatting down two street lights as if they were drinking straws, concrete cracks and shatters like panes of glass, gravel and dust filling the air. It’s an explosion of growth you can /hear/, the creaking of limbs and trunks, the rustling of leaves in the blasting winter wind, sudden sounds of a forest appearing to fill a single intersection of a Chicago city street so out of place as to be jarring.
Bastion spares only a glance, “Well that something.” he comments as he tries to wrench the woman’s head from her shoulders.
<<+roll>> Bastion rolls 3: 0 + 0 – for a success level of 3
<<+roll>> Bastion rolls Physique (+3) 4 for Super Strength: + 0 – 0 for a success level of 7.
[[GAME]] Autumn Rees invokes Ecological Empathy.
[[GAME]] Autumn Rees invokes Compassionate Careworker.
<<+roll>> Bastion rolls 5: + – + 0 for a success level of 6
So, one of the mercenaries has resumed pouring fire into her babies; her poor, innocent babies. Thats AFTER viciously murdering a tree and detonating a carbomb. Autumn is still ranting and screaming only vaugely-coherent expletives, as a blueberry bush vanishes in a puff of plasma, and a strawberry vine at the base of a tree lights on fire as the tree itself is blasted away. Flames lick and spread across the sudden outpouring of forest; not so much from where the plasma touches as from the air and plants near where it touches igniting. Where it touches is simply destroyed. Autumn looks over it all, and she’s completely horrified – but also, still, somehow filled with the anger and rage of a mother that just watched an innocent life killed. She’s also filled with the terror of all the poor bystanders watching this scene, and the terror of the man himself. She feels all of there emotions, and channels it into a single white-hot burning rage.
“Get him.” she cries, the one coherent thing she manages to say; and orders a shambling mount of plants forward to grab the man and rid themselves of the horrible burning. Burning…burning….so much burning. The fire merely adds to Autumns emotional frenzy.
<<+roll>> Autumn Rees rolls Empathy (+4) +4 for master plant control 2: + + 0 – for a success level of 9.
<<+roll>> Bastion rolls 3: + + 0 – for a success level of 4
The Jungle Lives. The man begins to back away quickly, holding down the trigger of his weapon and slowly spanning it side to side, spraying super heated plasma into the oncoming wave of vegetation. Fires lick, leaves shrivel, vines crackle, but it’s just not enough. Simply put, one cannot stop a wave with a water hose. Just as the assassin turns to flee, a branch as thick as a man’s thigh comes down from above, walloping the armored figure into the ground, his rifle skittering across the concrete. Then another, and a third. The vines reach him next as he tries to curl up in a fit of pain, but their serpent like leading edges worm and squirm their way beneath the armor, finding joints and creases and pressing in beneath. Leaves and fruit begin to sprout from the small gaps in the armor, and the man begins to scream as Things begin to sprout inside his armor… where there’s only enough room for him.
Bastion feels the scrabling fingers lose their strength, then their ability to fight altogether, and eventually fall limp towards the ground, resting there lightly. He maintains the choke for a full four count before releasing the assassin and letting her fall unceremoniously to the ground with a clatter of armor, his eyes stuck on the spread of the killer forest, his lips slightly parted. “Beautiful.” he murmurs softly to himself. If Empathy is a thing Autumn feels, there’s at least one person in the intersection completely devoid of fear or anger, who’s instead filled with confidence and a sense of personal power.
“Yes!” Autumn says as the vines worm their way through the man’s armor and begin to sprout. More fertilizer is always needed; especially when you grow something this large, this quickly. It wouldn’t be healthy otherwise. A small part of her says that this has gone too far, that this isn’t how she handles things; but she still feels that anger, and something else…something from Bastion….a confidence and a sense of power. “Are there more?” she asks the forest, looking about her. “They had to come from somewhere.”
<<+roll>> Autumn Rees rolls Notice (+2): + – + 0 for a success level of 3.
The screaming from the armored assassin ends with a burbling noise and an odd cracking sound, not unlike branches breaking, and in moments blood drips from the leaves that sprout all along the armor which is now twisted and bent into shapes no human body could hope to withstand. From inside the foliage steps a man made of soot and shadow, what few scraps of cloth cling to him are charred and flacking away in patches of ash as he moves. It’s impossible to truely see him, he’s matte black head to toe save where scrabbling fingers tried to claw at his forearm, and of course it’s hard to focus on someone’s features when they have, you know, half their junk in the breeze.
“Hoverbikes.” he says, pointing a finger upwards, “It’s how they hit the car without the security tripping. Particle weapon super heated the gas tank from above.” he makes an explosion with his hands. “Bikes are gone, those three were just there to make sure the job was done.” he turns to look back towards the car that is in no way burning at all anymore, “I’m assuming they fled when you summoned the Black Forest in downtown Chicago.” his smile is a flash of perfectly white teeth, which in the black of the soot is somehow predatory, “Thanks for that by the way.”
Autumn nods her head. “I didn’t do it for you. I did it for those who were in danger, and those they killed. You seemed like you could handle yourself.” Autumn says. She glances around, the anger receeding from her eyes somewhat. She looks up at the forest growing halfway up the building, and the piles of dead plants…and realizes what she’s done. With that, the anger is gone. “Oh dear my, I went…a bit overboard.” She bites her lip uncertainly. Boy, her emotions just did a bit of a rapid spiral there, girl clearly has a few things going on. In this case, its an empathy power, but that may or may not be entirely obvious, depending on Bastion. “I can’t believe they thought they could just do that in the middle of the street. A lot of people could have died.”
Bastion quirks a brow at her, though that’s hard to see too in the dark of night and the black soot, “Who was in danger? It was a surgical strike, one car, open intersection, minimal collateral damage, three professional follow ups.” he looks around, “They broke a few windows, I’d say the only danger to the masses at large here,” he glances her direction, “was you.” he grins again, “Not that I’m complaining mind you. The street could use a bit of gentrification, a few more street lights, better shop fronts, maybe a repaving. You’ve seen to it that repair work will prioritize this part of town. So ya know,” he shrugs, “nice play all in all.”
“I’m pretty sure an exploding car, complete with shrapnel, poses risks to the passerby.” Autumn says. “But…I can’t deny that I seemed to have been the more harmful…” She glances around. “You know, I never really tried to make them smaller again. I’m not sure it works that way. I can’t leave them here.” She frowns again, looking around in frustration. “Do people try to kill you often? You seem rather…blaise about it.”
Bastion tilts his head to the side, “True. But by the time you were involved the exploding was done.” he shrugs, “You just reacted, all emotion, no reason.” he looks around them at all the green, “Then again, clearly something to be said for a more emotional touch.” he chuckles a bit as if amussed by something. “Well, if you leave them here they’ll removed them with herbicide or axes, one way or the other, maybe you can walk them to a nearby park? Whatever you do, they’ll be dead by tomorrow, the temperature will see to that, freeze them up and crack them from the inside. Chicago winters aren’t kind to green things.” he says almost sadly, “This is the fourth such attack this month, and honestly it was the first one that posed an actual legitimate threat. So far it’s been catspaws, gangbangers paid off, poorly laid traps with drug addicts and the like. But this was professional.” he turns back to look at the down unconscious woman in her armor, “Which means this is the first time I have someone to interrogate.” he nods and stretches a bit, and it’s about this time that it’s made abundantly clear that the cold doesn’t bother him. Not because of the burning car that’s not burning anymore, or whatever, but because it’s 4 degrees outside with a wind like the wrath of god and he seems very nonplussed by it all. “Speaking of,” he looks up into the night sky, “whatever you’re doing to do, I suggest you do it fast. Corporate security will be here in moments and they’ll want to detain you, ask questions, be pushy. I owe you one so I’ll cover for you as best I can.” he looks around at the jungle, “Or at least I’ll try.” hard to pretend that jungles just spring up on random days of the week without cause.
<<+roll>> Autumn Rees rolls Empathy (+4) +4 for master plant control: 0 0 0 0 for a success level of 8.
“Yeah, uh, I can’t argue with you there.” Autumn agrees. “I messed up on this one.” She looks at the forest-like growth. “I guess I’ll do what I can. Uh, I hope I can fit them all into the community garden….perhaps might be time to find a second abandoned house to put them into.” She peers at the trees. “Well, those ones are headed for the park.” She concentrates on the plants, and they start to lift themselves off of the ground. “Alright trees uh…march to the park. Everyone else…to the garden.” And the trees obediently pick themselves up, and begin…walking to the nearest park. The other plants head in the opposite direction. Pretty handy power, actually. “I really need to be more careful.”
Bastion watches the plants go in different directions and he quirks that brow again, “You are a facinating woman.” he says after a long moment. “You’d better make yourself scarce.” he says, pointing upwards again, “I can hear the whine of the engines, two minutes, tops, until they’re overhead, and about thirty seconds before they’re close enough their sensors can cut through down town interference to get a lock on anyone still breathing and in the open down here.”
Autumn takes that as a cue to start running. Not in the direction of the plants; another direction entirely. After all, anyone in their right mind would be fleeing away from all of this; so hopefully she’s mistaken for just another civilian fleeing for their lives. She takes the first opportunity she can get to slip into an alley or a building or something.
The son of Sebastian Shaw is driving through Chicago when his limousine goes up in a massive explosion, and paramilitary assassins descend from the sky to kill him with plasma weapons. Things go downhill from there.
January 16, 2051
Far North Side, Chicago