I just dropped our writers into an unknown situation with overcharged powers they could barely control, with some conflicting interests within that, and they RAN with it. It perfectly encapsulates what we’re all about. Nobody trying to one up each other, all writing very human, very flawed, characters that are all just trying their best to make it through this chaotic mess. It’s also a pivotal moment in the overall narrative of the game, since it’ll spur on some amazing storylines going forward!
The Aristocrat, in the Study, with the Candlestick
Chapter: All Hallow’s Eve
Location: Study, Cavendish Townhouse, London
Timeline: 00:01 November 1st, 1992 (immediately following The Witching Hour)
2327 words – 4.7 OF Standard Post Measure
The purple headmistress of Avalon Institute suddenly found herself in new surroundings. They were instantly familiar and immediately filled her with dread. The old bookshelves, the antique oak desk, the lingering smell of cigars. Around her were William, Jonathan. Cameron, and Otis. She reached for Cameron trying to find an anchor in the material but before she could grab on she was gone, leaving the four men behind.
“Claire-!” Jonathan blurted out, his hands reaching but grasping air. Stumbling and off balance, he felt his head throbbing as he stumbled forward into a bookcase. As he touched the edge of the shelf, he felt a familiar surge of heat. His hands and arms were starting to glow a familiar blue. “No…no…” He immediately recoiled from the flammable-looking bookshelf, almost bumping into a heavy oak desk. “I can’t…I can’t…” He looked down at his hands, which had already lit up with blue flames. Desperately, he blinked at the others in the room. “I can’t stop…”
William instantly armoured up and grabbed Jonathan by the arm not feeling what should have been a burning sensation at the very least and started pushing towards the window.
Otis’ head was spinning; either from the alcohol, the teleportation trip, or the general disorientation of not knowing where he was. He barely grasped what was happening, one minute he was in celebration mode, the next he was in survival mode. He had trained with Jonathan enough times to know what that blue glow meant, what he wasn’t used to was the panicked look on the normally-in-control mutant’s face. Before his conscious mind could catch up on the events of the last minute, his intuition was thinking for him. He threw his hands forward, protecting himself from the heat that usually followed those glowing hands. He felt the familiar sensation as his shield made its appearance; three times bigger than he had ever produced before and way too big for the size of the room “Shit!” He yelled as he heard the sound of breaking brick and mortar.
For once, the fastest person in the room was the slowest to react. As each had dealt with the disorientation separately, as well as the ensuing throb of potency that was currently responsible for exploding books and pieces of ceiling peppering them with plaster rain, Cameron had stood absolutely rigid and unblinking as if not even aware that the world was literally coming down around his ears. The sensation of sluggishness had trapped him in a stupor that would have resembled the haziness of being roused from deep sleep had he actually been asleep, but nevertheless saw him slowly scan the emerging chaos with a serenity the bordered on calm insanity. Oh look, Jon’s on fire. The fact registered by failed to stick. Someone should really clean up in here. Once again, the detail slid away without leaving the desired impact. Should tell Otis his arse is falling out of his pants. Probably intentional.
A distant and distracted observer of events, the speedster strained without desperation to make sense of the muffled, distorted sounds that ebbed and flowed as if his head was stuck under water, and almost as an afterthought, he realised that his hand now held a desk lamp that had been well on the way to becoming another random projectile, snatched out of the air almost as an afterthought.
It was quite…warm.
The coiled sensation of heat that wound around his arm failed to alarm Cameron, despite the fact that it took only seconds for the limb to be visibly electrified.
“Everyone out!” William yelled from inside his armour as mortar hit him squarely on the head but bounced harmlessly off not even leaving a dent. He did not want to be killed by brick or fire.
Otis’ eyes grew larger as the realisation hit him that the only thing that was actually stopping the ceiling from caving in and killing them all was that his shield was still intact. If he were to remove the shield now, before everyone left, there would be no escape. But how long could he hold this shield up? He had never produced one so big before and he could already feel the strain running through his arms, locking his shoulder joints in place. He turned to Cameron, “there might be people in the house, you need to get them out. Quickly!”
It took Cameron a ridiculously long time, given the circumstance, to turn his gaze from his crackling hand towards the direction of the frantic instructions that, in his confused state, barely sounded coherent. In reality, only a couple of minutes had passed, much though they’d been crammed full of rather dire events all stacked on top of each other, and as Cameron stood and stared at Otis, slightly baffled at the weird bow-legged stance he’d adopted, there was a precise moment amidst the chaos where Cameron’s perception finally located the correct frequency. Sound returned as a cacophony, followed by the stench of burning books and the alarming creaking of support beams failing at their one task. The mutant cringed, lifted his electrified hand to his ear in protest and then span a frantic, disoriented circle when the ensuing jolt set his entire jaw on edge.
Someone, he wasn’t sure who, shouted the instruction again.
Running at full speed in unfamiliar territory was fraught with issues. When that territory was contained within what remained of four walls, it became even more problematic. He could react, for the most part, as quickly as he moved but anticipation was still far better than flying blind. This was Cameron, however, and dashing into a burning building to save innocent lives was something he would have done with or without a genetic advantage. Exchanging nothing more than a parting glance with the man straining under the pressure of his own shield, only the whip of dishevelled book pages gave hint of the speedster’s exit, which took him immediately up the first staircase he found.
“Hello! Anyone home! You need to wake up, wake up! Fire!”
A door at the end of the hallway opened up and a man armed with a shotgun stepped out, “I don’t know who you are, but you have exactly three seconds to get the hell out of my house!” He loaded the weapon through to emphasise his threat. He didn’t even get to counting though, the smoke from the fire was spreading into the rest of the house and suddenly the fire alarms started to blare. “What have you done?!” He aimed the weapon.
As much as everything still felt slightly surreal, there was nothing sluggish about Cameron’s response time as his hands immediately found air and he took several steps backwards. “Hey, whoa, not so hasty.” He wasn’t sure he had an explanation that would sound even remotely feasible given the circumstances and, thus, he resorted to, “There’s a fire downstairs that’s spreading fast, I’m just up here to make sure everyone gets out.”
How long has he been gone? Otis asked himself. Ten seconds? Ten minutes? It felt like an eternity to the mutant. He felt aware of every single muscle in his arm and hands. He started to count them as a way of distracting himself from the strain he was under but in reality it was having the opposite effect. The more he focused on each muscle, the more he felt as though his tendons were pulling themselves apart. He felt a sudden wave of sympathy for his long-forgotten Stretch Armstrong toy he had as a kid. Poor bastard!
Otis knew he had two choices, let the shield collapse, bringing the room, and possibly the building, down on himself or push it away like a Jedi force push. There was nothing smart about option two, more people ran the risk of being injured by his lack of control and he wouldn’t let that happen. So he held out until he couldn’t any longer, hoping that Cameron had got everyone out in time. Then the shield disappeared and the walls started to come down.
“Otis…” Jonathan strained his own sinews, trying to will the flames back into his hands, but even then the turquoise bloom of fire just seemed to stay there, like a glue that wouldn’t come off. “Get out of here…I can’t stop it from burning…” he protested.
“Both of you move,” William yelled over the noise of the fire and the masonry moving and shifting under the strain. “Out the window.” He said as he started to shove the nearest person beside him towards the window as he heard a shot from somewhere in the house.
Jonathan was too busy struggling to maintain a grip on things as the heavy shove pushed him towards the window. They were at the sort of height where jumping was probably going to seriously hurt, but with everything else starting to come apart, there were few other options. “Aim for the bushes?” he grunted, looking at the others.
William looked at the pair and sighed. “Create a force field as we go out the window under us,” he said to Otis. He grabbed ahold of both of them and propelled himself out of the window using himself to break the full of the pair as they rolled into the force field and onto the floor under the bush.
Grateful that his force field had worked as intended this time Otis landed on the ground with a thud. He felt all of the air in his body leave him and for a second he lay there, gasping for breath and hurting all over. Most people might have been pissed off at the situation, but the fact that he felt pain at all was a relief, it meant he was still alive. For the second time in so many seconds, he was grateful. “Is everyone okay?” He managed to say after finally catching his breath. “Where’s Cameron?”
The force had been hard but William was only winded a little as his armour finally disappeared leaving him in his everyday clothes as he had cheated using his armour as a costume. “I can feel the power draining now.” He said trying to get to his feet. “Still inside. I’ll go back.” William said shifting instantly into his armour form and disappeared back into the house to to find the speedster.
“Belle! Get out here!” Anthony called back in the direction of the bedroom he had just emerged from. A woman that bore striking resemblance to one purple skinned head mistress emerged in a nightgown, looking bewildered and scared.
“What’s going on?”
“We’re under attack, get out of here. Through the back!” Anthony kept his gun levelled at the stranger that had suddenly appeared on his landing as he started to back away from Cameron and the main staircase down.
“I can help, if you let me,” Cameron called after the man, taking several edged steps forward, arms extended. “I can get you all outside faster than you can run.”
The only response the speedster got was the metallic click of a trigger being pulled, followed very shortly by the explosion of black powder thrusting a slug out of a barrel.
It was every stereotype brought to life in a split second explosion of accelerated threat analysis. Out-running, or at least out-manoeuvring, a bullet was not something Cameron typically had a lot of practise with, mostly because he would have struggled to find anyone willing to shoot one at him on the off-chance it backfired. (Though, at times, he joked that Valjean might have been sorely tempted.) When it came to equivalent velocities, however, he had technically recorded speeds that far exceeded what was required, he’d just never put them into practise on an overly-decorated landing, on the second floor of a house rapidly filling with thick smoke. The sudden acceleration towards the room on his right was the only option, since any distance to the left would have sent him right down the stairs, but without adequate time to open the door, he simply smashed into the guest bedroom in a shower of splintered wood and barely stopped himself before his trajectory continued out through the exterior wall, or at the very least, the window. Coughing, and a little dazed from the impact, the mutant stood for a moment gathering his wits before announcing to the portrait on the wall. “He shot at me!”
“Yes. And now is time for us to leave Cameron.” A voice said from the corridor for a second making it seem like the portrait was speaking before a knight appeared in the doorway.
With the way everything had gone that evening, Cameron would have rated a talking painting as being somewhere in the middle of the weird shit that needed explaining later. He stood, blinking as if dazed, as the canvas morphed into someone far more recognisable, but as clarity dawned, the mutant realised only just.
“That was Claire’s Dad.” He stared at William as recognition solidified and the niggling feeling of familiarity finally got its scratch, only to be replaced by fresh annoyance. His face clouded, brow furrowed, and Cameron forced himself to focus on the man in front of him. “Are the others out?”
William had come to the conclusion himself but having someone else confirm it had solidified his own thoughts. “Yes. They are waiting.” He said hearing in the distance the sound of sirens that signified help or capture. “We need to leave.” The armoured man repeated firmly.
Somewhere below, the sound of several support beams disintegrating was convincing enough that it was only a matter of time before the upper floor joined the lower in one catastrophic mess. Cameron tucked away his curiosity, not to mention his mounting outrage, and nodded.
“Right. Meet you outside.”