Doctor James Howell looked down at the chart clutched gently in his sausage-like fingers. In the beds before him rested Owen Reagan and Aurora Leigh, two representatives of the New Vindicators Academy of America. Only hours ago, Elemenoh P. Quarez had altered their abilities. He had changed Owen’s powers to enable him to curdle all milk within a certain radius while Aurora was bestowed with the ability to know anyone’s name on sight. For the two of them, these changes were very welcome. For too long, Owen had lived with his curse: his touch drained the life out of living things and the energy was used to heal his afflictions. Aurora’s power was another uncontrollable ability; her touch caused her to rewrite her victim’s brain patterns, replacing them with her own.
For a little over an hour, a very short hour, they had found themselves able to touch another person without the fear of what their abilities would do to them. They had each realized the blessing they had been given and embraced the opportunity and each other. Some of the students claimed to have seen the pair making out, but when Ben Altair had scoured the campus for all of the New Vindicators, he had been unable to find either of them.
Not but an hour ago, someone had thought to look in their rooms. Given their abilities, both of the students roomed alone- to keep them from harming anyone. The pair were found in Owen’s room, clothed only with the young man’s sheets, unconscious.
The most difficult part had been moving them to the med lab. With both of them naked and possessing powers that triggered on flesh-to-flesh contact, it had taken the doctor slipping into a hazmat suit before either could be transported to his sanctuary in the school.
When Elemenoh had changed everyone’s powers back, the pair had been making love. Now, Aurora Leigh’s life was drained from her body and Owen Reagan’s consciousness had been replaced by Aurora’s. The psychic surge had caused the young man to lose consciousness, putting him into a coma the doctor hoped he awoke from soon.
Now, the simian doctor stepped out of their room and went to check on his other guest. For three months he had been praying that the young woman kept here would awaken from her coma. Now he prayed Owen Reagan didn’t share in the red-headed girl’s fate. “It truly is a shame,” he intoned softly, shaking his head at the sleeping beauty before him. “We don’t even know your name, miss… It hardly seems right to be calling you ‘Oscillator’.
“Actually, her name is Chelsea.”
Doctor Howell turned just enough to cast a sideways glance on his unexpected arrival. At the sight of her, clad in a now-torn blackbody suit accented with scratched up silver armor, his face turned pale. “You!” he snapped, recognizing the villainous Terahertz from the sketch Hourglass’ team had compiled together.
“Me,” she said coolly as she casually stepped into the room. On the counter beside the door she spotted Oscillator’s chart; she snatched it up and began looking through page after page of jargon she failed to understand. “How’s the patient doing?” Silverback attempted to plant himself between the patient and the terror and Terahertz chuckled. “Oh, how cute… no, Doctor, I didn’t come here to hurt her.”
“You could have fooled me. You’re the one who pierced her with a radiation blast. She would have died if Mister Farouk hadn’t gotten there so quickly. He healed the hole you shot through her, but she’s been in a coma for weeks!”
“I never intended to hurt her; quite the opposite. That she interposed herself on that girl’s behalf was a terrible misfortune. I had come to collect her. She’s no good to me dead.”
“You seem to be very familiar with her.”
Terahertz smiled and her hands rose up to take her helmet off. “I should be,” she said, letting long, red curls spill down her back. As the silver mask was slipped off, Silverback found himself more disturbed than when the young woman had first entered his lab.
Silverback stared on the face of Oscillator.
“Our name is Chelsea Burk… Last year, after our mother died, our powers activated and Abaddon came to collect us.”
“Abaddon!?” barked the simian. He had not been present when Samael told the New Vindicators about the Fallen, but he had heard about the tale from the children. Deimos had told them all about how his father was conspiring to overthrow hell and use earth as his battleground. The young man hated his father… and dreamt of being the one who ended the Fallen’s existence.
“He told us about our powers and about our destiny. Unfortunately, the Wanderers also found out about the role we would play. They divided me into thirds- dampening my power effectively and scattering the others across the country.”
Doctor Howell understood then; he recalled Patrick Goodman telling him that Michuru Bradshaw had appeared on the campus the night before Oscillator began her career as a student of this institution. He had been careful not to be seen by any save those he allowed to see him…
The man had only spoken to the administration. He had brought a young girl with him- a girl he told them to train and keep safe.
“A gestalt,” Doctor Howell grumbled.
Terahertz could only nod. “The Wanderers divided my consciousness as surely as they divided my body. The husk you call Oscillator represents all that was good about me, where as the final piece is my neutrality. She’s the balance- the one that keeps us sane.”
“You’re not taking her!” Doctor Howell snapped, sweeping his arms to the side in an attempt to block Terahertz from getting his patient.
“She’s in a coma!” snapped Terahertz. “She’s not coherent, doctor! In me… in me she’ll be whole again. We’ll be whole.”
“Over my dead body!”
“Funny you should say that…” Her hands became encased in the glowing energy and with a laugh Terahertz launched herself into battle…
The Set-Up wrote:Silverback and Terahertz are both aware of each other. Terahertz comes into the fight with three injuries given to her at Courtney’s hands. As it has taken Terahertz more than ten minutes to reach the lab, she has recovered from the four bruises she received from the Dressels.
As Terahertz is currently threatening the good doctor’s charges, he earns a hero point for the complication- giving him two to Terahertz’s one. Initiative is rolled and Silverback is going first with a 13, Terahertz having rolled a 3 (+2 bonus gives her a meager 5 on the initiative).
Dan is handling Silverback for this fight- the first time this NPC has ever been out of my control. Normally Dan handles Portal, Tick-tock and Fluke… but he’s willing to give the monkey-man a shot.
Silverback pounced across the lab- his massive hands seizing Terahertz’s shoulders and knocking her back and into a cart holding most of his instruments. Swabs and syringes and everything else spilled onto the floor around them as he wrestled her under him. His enormous maw contorted into a savage roar that hammered her with hot, putrid breath.
The young woman groaned as his immense weight began to crush her. Still, she managed to endure the pain and fought to grab a hold of him. If she could simply touch him she could drain away his health, weakening him enough to throw him off of her…
ROUND ONE wrote:Silverback attempts to grapple Terahertz and makes an attack roll. He rolls a natural 20 on the attempt to make contact and the two go into opposed strength. Terahertz rolls a 12 and has no further bonus to avoid being grappled. Silverback on the other hand has a +16 bonus on top of the 7 he rolls, giving him a whopping 23 on the check. He grapples Terahertz and immediately makes a Toughness save against her Energy Aura (DC 18). He rolls a 19, beating it without even his +5 bonus.
Having grappled Terahertz, he opts to pin her this turn. Dan looks at Silverback’s sheet and realizes he has no feats for grappling. We get into a discussion/argument over Doctor Howell being just a scientist who just happens to have the physical strength of a gorilla- he doesn’t know how to use his abilities effectively but makes up for his lack of combat ability with his skills. This round he burns a hero point to use the effects of Crushing Pin, a feat from the Mastermind’s Manual that lets him inflict his damage on a pinned opponent. This means Terahertz needs to succeed on a DC 25 Toughness save. I roll the skull crusher and an 18 shows. Factoring Terahertz’s +7 bonus into the mix, the animosity my players have for me begins to rise.
Terahertz attempts to use her Drain power on Silverback, but needs to succeed on a DC 20 Concentration check in order to do so. I’ll need a 19 to succeed and I roll a 20. Going ahead with the attack, I roll an 12 and only have a +2 bonus here, but a 14 hits the monkey-man. Still, Silverback rolls a natural 20 on his Fortitude save, negating my attempt to put the hurt on him.
Determination filled the doctor and despite the radiation flowing into his body he pushed on. His massive arm laid across her neck and the young woman began to choke and fight for her right to breathe beneath his might. “I find it difficult to believe that someone as kind and loving and vibrant as Oscillator could ever be a part of you, you demented, murderous-” Though the heat the surrounded her began to diminish, it had been strong enough to sear his flesh. The burns shocked his system and Silverback fought to overcome the momentary upset.
ROUND TWO wrote:Attempting to maintain the grapple is no difficult task for Silverback. He rolls a 2, giving him an 18 when all is said and done. Terahertz rolls a 13 and has no bonus, meaning she remains pinned and Silverback burns his last hero point to gain Crushing Pin for another turn. I roll a 12 for my Toughness save, giving me a 19 total- not enough to beat his DC 25 and resulting in a bruise and a stunned condition.
Though her aura might turn off when she’s rendered stunned, it was still up when Silverback landed his blow, forcing him to make a Toughness save. He rolls a 5; after applying his +5 bonus, it’s still not enough to avoid being injured and stunned himself.
Terahertz used that stunned look in the doctor’s eye to make her escape. She slid out from under him and hurried to her feet. Standing once more she was hardly surprised to find her opponent on his feet and ready to attack once more. He lunged again for her and Terahertz reacted by letting loose a blinding burst of heat.
ROUND THREE wrote:Silverback’s turn means Terahertz shakes off her stun and is able to attack head on. She sends out a flare of energy meant to blind the man, a Visual Dazzle Burst. It’s a DC 16 Reflex save, which Silverback has a +4 bonus to. He rolls a 13, letting him first halve the effect for a second Reflex save, now DC 13. He rolls a second 13, rendering Terahertz’s attack useless.
Silverback covered his eyes and looked away just in time, avoiding being blinded by the attack. He turned back to face her, snarling as he bounded across the floor to close the short gap between the pair. Though Terahertz’s energy had failed to blind him, his fervor had: his wild swing missed the young woman terribly and gave her the opportunity she needed…
She thrust her arms out, sending a column of energy through them to strike against Silverback and leaving a sizzling patch of tender flesh exposed on his chest.
ROUND FOUR wrote:Silverback makes his move, attacking her head on. He rolls a natural 1 though, missing out on a great opportunity to strike. Still, this means avoiding the minor annoyance her Energy Aura poses.
Terahertz opts to blast Silverback directly. She rolls a 15, meaning she’s hitting 21 and higher- easily nailing the doctor. It’s a DC 19 Toughness save and after his +5 bonus is factored in and his previous injury is counted, Silverback has rolled a 12, leaving him with a new injury and stunned once more.
Her blow had succeeded in stunning him once more and gave her the opportunity to strike again. Again she launched a blast of searing heat for Silverback and again the radiation left a bubbling patch of flesh on his thick form.
ROUND FIVE wrote:Thanks to his stunned condition, Silverback is unable to take actions during his turn. Such conditions go away prior to Terahertz’s turn however, granting him his dodge bonus against her blast. She rolls, and hits a 21 after her +6 bonus is factored in. Counting his injuries, he only gets a +3 bonus to make the DC 19 Toughness save. The odds aren’t with him but Silverback manages to roll a 14, meaning he escapes only with an injury.
Surrendering to his animal urges, Silverback sacrificed accuracy for power, swinging mightily at the young woman before him. His blow connected with the girl’s shoulder, where Courtney Dressel’s talons had already pierced and broken her flesh. The blow evoked a pained cry from Terahertz and left her swaying on the spot.
Still, she recovered quickly, though her breathing had changed. More frustrated than ever she unleashed another blast of energy for the doctor and screamed to be heard over the ringing in his ears. “This school is full of cockroaches!” she snarled. “Why won’t you people just die!?!”
ROUND SIX wrote:Silverback sacrifices half of his attack in favor of power, gambling two points of his attack bonus on Power Attack. He rolls a natural 20, forcing a DC 32 Toughness save from Terahertz. The young lady rolls an 18, giving her a 23 when all is said and done. Having failed by 9, she receives a second bruise and is now stunned.
Not wanting to lose my turn I spend Terahertz’s hero point to immediately bounce back from my stunned condition and unleash another blast at Silverback. I roll a 13, hitting after my +6 bonus is taken into account. Silverback rolls a 2, giving him a 5 on the DC 19 Toughness save.
She stepped around an empty bed and looked down on Silverback, sprawled out in the floor at her feet. “In what universe did you believe you could deny me anything?” she scoffed, aiming her hand for him.
The blast struck the healer, but he was still far from out…
ROUND SEVEN wrote:Silverback shakes off the stun just before Terahertz’s turn in the initiative order, but he’s also staggered and disabled. Terahertz blasts him again, rolling an 18 on the roll (+6 = 24 to hit) and forces yet another DC 19 save. This time, Doctor Howell rolls a 14, giving him a 16 on the save and leaving him merely with a fourth injury.
Terahertz turned away from him and he shakily climbed to his feet. He slipped and braced himself against a counter, knocking over a jar of cotton balls and attracting her attention. “Oh, please,” she growled. “You can barely stand…”
A savage cry left Silverback as he charged one last time and prayed that this was enough to spare his patient. He slammed her ferociously and Terahertz’s body sailed across the room, slamming through the glass door and rolling across the hall and into the adjacent wall. “God, don’t let her have Oscillator…” He felt weak- weaker than he had ever before felt, but yet he could smile: he finally knew her name. “Don’t let her have Chelsea…”
ROUND EIGHT wrote:Silverback refuses to merely lie down and let Terahertz take Oscillator. He attacks once more, taking an aggressive stance and feeding his full bonus to Power Attack. He rolls a 17, hitting Terahertz and evoking a DC 31 Toughness save from her. I roll a 17, giving me a 22 total. I have a new bruise and I’m stunned once again, but Silverback was disabled when he attacked, meaning he is now dying.
However, being stunned means knockback. After looking at the chart we see that Silverback slammed Terahertz so hard she would have went sailing back 5,000 feet. That’s insane.
Silverback is forced to make an immediate Fortitude saving throw to avoid… well… death. The difficulty is 10, meaning he needs to roll a 4. Silverback rolls a 14 and is spared for one more hour.
Still, there’s the problem of Terahertz’s pesky Energy Aura. Silverback rolls an 18 on his Toughness save. The DC is 18, but his injuries give him a -4 penalty to this roll, giving him a fifth injury.
Doctor James Howell collapsed in the floor and ceased to move as Terahertz stepped back into the room. “Insects…” she said, watching him closely and trying to see if his chest were rising and falling- if he was still breathing or if he had died.
“I do owe you some thanks for keeping her alive all this time…” Terahertz approached Oscillator’s bed and took her cold hand in hers. “She’ll be fine now,” she said, grinning wildly. “She’s home now…”
ROUND NINE wrote:Terahertz shakes off her stun and regards the immobile gorilla before her. He doesn’t move and that’s all that matters. She turns away from him and grins as she lays eyes on the helpless Oscillator…
Almost instantly all of her injuries melted away. She could feel stronger now. She could feel her power raging inside of her. She was one step closer to being complete. She was one step closer to fulfilling her destiny and releasing Apocatastasis.
With a satisfied smile on her face, Terahertz walked out of the room and left a dying Doctor Howell on the floor beside an empty hospital bed…