Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Episode 4: Bull in a China Shop

Ben Lee is working late one night in his store after closing time when he hears a noise at the front door. Approaching, he sees an angry looking man trying to get his attention. He tells the man that the store is closed, but the man demands entry to get some 'medicine.' Lee refuses and calls the cops. They show up and seem to conference with the man, who seems to have a prior relationship with them. They call Lee out to discuss the situation. Charlie (NiuMo) Wang (a big tough looking young man) says he was visiting Lee's shop to get a package he ordered. The policeman convinced Lee to hand over the package rather than file a complaint, and Lee grudgingly agrees believing something is amiss. Looking at the discarded wrapper of the package he spies that it is "Yaoguai Niu" (Demon Bull) powder (a male enhancement herb). For the next order, Lee adds another dose to the package in order to keep some for himself, and learn its secrets.
Lisa Chun was walking home from the theatre, alone a night, something she would only do having discovered her super powers. She spied a well dressed man drive up to an ATM. The man casually walks up to the ATM and smashes it with his fist. In short order, he trashes the machine and fills his pockets with piles of cash. Chun decides to do something and encases the man in a globe of water. He is surprised and stopped by the attack. They exchange some witty banter and soon sirens can be heard. Chun, a bit nervous about exposing her powers to the police, decides to wait until the last moments, and then release the man and move away. Sadly the impression left on the policemen is one of her jetting away on a geyser of water from the scene of the crime, and the man standing soaking wet near the machine. The news reports that she is the suspect in the ATM robbery.
The next day, unsure of how to clear her name, she pays a visit to the Teach Academy. There she makes the acquaintance of Jack Flash and Marduk and they show her the grounds. They explain their abilities to each other, and the mission of the Academy to learn about and benefit from the changes caused by the Event, and use those gifts to help mankind.
Meanwhile, Lee, seeing the news report about the ATM robbery, and catching a glimpse of Wang, contacts the Teach Academy hoping to learn something of this man who seems to have gained super strength from the Event. Then Chun, Jack Flash and Marduk head out to Lee's Grocery to find out what he knows. Before they are able to learn much, Wang returns, angry at discovering that Lee changed the order. There is a brief and angry discussion wherein Wang demands all of the product for free, and ends with him knocking down a shelf of videos.
Combat ensues. Jack Flash uses a flurry of blows on Wang, Marduk sucker-punches him, Lee fakes him out warning him about the lobsters, Chun ducks into the dark aisles to change into costume (Retroactive - Hero Point). In the next round they stun him, knock him to the ground, and dunk him with water from the lobster tank. He seems humiliated and beaten. But the fight is not over, he rises, steaming, pulls the Demon Bull powder from his coat, and downs the entire contents. His muscles begin to ripple, his veins bulge, and his skin begins to turn green. From his skull two long horns protude. He rises to a height of 10 feet and massing hundreds of pounds. Half man, half bull but with a demonic twist. He bellows at those around him.
The team acts quickly trying to defeat him. Jack Flash and Torrent (Chun) soon find their blows do nothing to his newly strengthened hide. Even the mighty Marduk has trouble hurting the man, the Bull Demon takes the fight outside, and team follows him outside. When Lee tries to distract him again, the Bull Demon laughs that he can't be fooled twice. At one point the Bull Demon hurls a van at the team and watches it crash into the store. Lee dives after it and touching the Koi tank he strengthens the ceramic tub enough to stop the movement of the van.
At this stage the group discusses working together. Jack Flash takes some rope and winds it loosely around the Bull Demon entangling him. Torrent and Marduk come up with a plan. She forms a massive geyser under Marduk sending him hurtling at the Bull Demon. The combined energies are incredible. Marduk's jet assisted punch sends the Bull Demon hurling across the street, through the wall of the carpet store across the street, through its back wall, through the alley behind the store, through the next wall, and flat into a huge gong in the tourist shop on the next street over. When the team follows the path of destruction across the street they see Wang, back in human form. Lee touches the man's silk coat and convinces the coat to wrap him up like a straight-jacket and hold him fast.
Eventually, the police show up, and finding it to be a "super" crimescene, they summon the Police's 'special perpetrator vehicle' (SPV), an armored van with heavy EVA shackles. The team heads back to the Academy, Lee promises to join them there.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Prelude - Ben Lee

Ben had always been good with machines, electronics, and computers. And hanging out with his family in their old grocery, he had learned much of Chinese herbalism and the mystic tradition. He treated machines the way the old Chinese doctors treated their crushed hoof, and snake venom, as parts of the Celestial Bureaucracy, in harmony with everything else. When some thing broke, he looked at it, and pondered what went wrong, how did this thing go out of balance? And using his keen mind and centered spirit he'd work to repair it. The back room of the grocery held a small side business repairing old televisions, sewing machines, and other items, as well as running a local server hub for the Chinese community in Franklin.
When the EVENT happened, he watched in awe at the catastophe and did his best to lend a hand, collecting, hauling and pulling apart computers and other electronics destroyed in the Electromagnetic Pulse. He was able to salvage and repair many systems that were deemed complete losses. In the eyes of those that found his help he was one of the heroes of those days after the initial shock and awe. He was written up in the local papers and soon found he had more business than he could handle. He was able to hire a manager for the store, and an assitant for the repair shop.
Over the next few months he found his ability to repair machines growing and his affinity for things in general to be getting stronger. He could sense the water damage in the dry wall of his apartment long before it was visible. And by touching it and 'coaxing' the wall to dry and the pipes to seal the leak he was able to repair it. He could never explain these things, and chocked them up to confidence and luck.
He began to notice other things as well. A package in his receiving room from China seemed somehow wrong or trouble. He worried about it, but since it was ordered by a customer he felt hesitent to throw it out. He also felt an uneasiness pass over him every now and then when certain customers entered the store, as if, they were possessed of an unearthly aura.
Some of this he attributed to the stories spreading through the city of paranormal "supers" beings endowed by the Event with strange powers. Great strength, great speed, flight etc. His rational side laughed those off, but he was fascinated by the prospect. All the while, he paid little attention to his own unusual phenomena, his ability to coax an extra fifty miles out of an empty tank of gas in his car, or his ability to 'smooth' out the cracks and weak spots in the store windows, or even the time he got his coat stuck in the monorail door, and he willed it not to break, resulting the metal door of the monorail bending and tearing before his coat did. That stoplights seemed to change in his favor, or his downloads progressed at tremendous speeds, were not something one would even notice. These things just seemed natural to him, perhaps because he was a little more respectful he thought, but nothing more.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Prelude - LIsa Chun

Lisa Chun, former competitive gymnast and dancer. Now dance instructer with a successful studio in Franklin NC was at crossroads in life. She got an offer to audition to join the Ira Duncan Dance Troupe, the premier dance troupe in the country, several of her best students defected to the Scarlet Dragon Troupe, the gymnastic group of her ex-lover, and the most puzzling development she received a small inheritance from her recently deceased Great Uncle. With only one problem, to get it she needed to travel to China. Lisa decided to visit China to re-center herself and find some focus. Part of her itinerary is a side trip to central China, to see her ancestoral homeland.
The plane was delayed on the tarmac for some reason and she fell asleep again dreaming of the scaling the mountain. The name Hua Shan is one that comes up. In her dream she is again climbing the mountain, again meeting with the dragon, and this time when asked "what do you want" there is a crack of thunder and lightning and the the fall.
She woke up as the plane lands in China.
She spent a few weeks seeing the sights in China before finding her way to Mt. Hua Shan. She climbed the mountain and finds the Taoist temple. She spent several months there trying to find the center she needs to answer the question. The monks were not very helpful. They seemed expect her, but they do nothing to help. She spent much of her time climbing the cliffs and scaling the precipices looking for the dragon. Until finally, she was at prayers at the alter and a nun leaned over and asked her if she is ready to confront the dragon.
She said that she beleived she was. She closed her eyes, and when she opened them again.
She woke up in the Franklin Chinese Community Hospice... eight months later. According to the nurse she had been in a coma the entire eight months. Her plane crashed into another on the ground during the EVENT, and after a few weeks in the hospital with steady deterioration, her family agreed to move her to hospice, feed and take care of her, but wait for her death. instead she awoke and in a few days was ready to leave. She moved in with her parents and sifted through the remains of her past life.
After a few days of quick recovery at her parents she went for a walk one night and found herself confronted by a gang of thugs: "Steel Dragons". They pursued her, and cornered her in a dead end, near a construction site. She tried to escape them by scaling the wall into the construction site. Sadly they followed her in, and captured her. They began to terrorize the young woman and she fought back. Initially her feeble attempts were laughed off, but after being struck by the leader of the gang, with her arms pinned behind her back she panicked and feared for the worse. Suddenly, the ground saround them softened as the site began to fill with water. In second the water was waste high, and most of the thugs fled to higher ground.
Another continued to menage her with a piece of rebar, and in her attempt to deflect the blow she sent a wave of water crashing down on the thug washing him across the pit. Seeing him struggling back to her, she 'willed' the water to throw him out of the pit and that was the last she saw of him. Shortly after the fight, the water drained harmlessly away. She felt a small loss as the water drained away.
She spent much of the rest of the night and the next few days experimenting with her new found control of water. She could create fountains, geysers, even static pools, and hovering globes of water. And once made, she could move them was like extensions of her body.
When she went home she noticed an unusual ad on TV for the Teach Academy offering to assist those who were affected by the EVENT in ways no one else could understand. She did a little research online and found out little about the Teach Academy. For the next few days she couldn't shake the feeling that she was being watched. Then a week or so later, she received a strange e-mail from the Teach Academy saying that if she lost interest, she needn't answer the door that night. Strangely, her parents went out for an unusual night on the town, and fearing what might arrive, she decided to wait for the inevitable knock from across the street.
Hiding across the street in the shadows of the stoop she waited. Sure enough an SUV arrived an parked outside her house. She was about to investigate, when the smell of pipe smoke drifted over her. She looked up and met a strange man. He called himself "Ted" and said he helped people like her. After a brief discussion, he left with an invitation to visit the academy.