Upon returning to Julian’s Mansion in Vista de Mar, he finds that a polite but determined criminal named Bryan Roof has one of his servants hostage. Bryan reveals that he has kidnapped Vivian and tied her to a bomb with a 12 hour timer. He will disclose her location in exchange for an unusual statue Julian possesses called the Jin of Borobudur. It a statue of a Javanese demon. It was found in an excavation at Borobudur by the same archeologist who had found the kris dagger the Sorceress arranged to be stolen.
Bryan has with him a small laptop that is accessing a webcam that’s pointed at Vivian. Julian takes Bryan to the private vault where the statue is kept, delaying as much as he dares. Meanwhile Traveler uses the laptop to quiz Vivian about details of where she is and what she remembers to try to track her down, while Thad reviews the video of the recently installed security system. He finds a video of Bryan walking up the driveway and leaving something in the bushes outside. Investigating, Thad finds and disables the motorcycle that Bryan has obviously used to get to the mansion. Connor smokes…lots.
Connor and Traveler leave for LA to search for Vivian in the Bugatti.
In the vault Julian casually describes the Sorceress to Bryan and warns him of how dangerous she is. Bryan is a good actor, but not good enough to conceal his surprise. Julian finally hands over the Jin of Borobudur and Bryan examines it carefully. When he examines the red ruby eyes of the statue he seems to be startled for the briefest moment, but then calmly places the statue in his satchel and turns to leave the vault without saying a word, which is out of character for Bryan.
Julian interposes himself and attempts to get Bryan to tell him Vivian’s location but finds Bryan to be far stronger than any mortal.
Once Bryan reaches the living room he undergoes an obviously painful process of growing two large dark wings with tatters where membranes should be and then dives out the large bay windows and flies south towards Los Angeles.
Julian and Thad follow Bryan in the helicopter and give Traveler their location to try to intercept him. When Traveler and Julian are few miles apart on the Sunset Strip Bryan lands and melds into the crowd. As Traveler and Connor approach the place that Bryan lands they see the aftermath of a disturbance caused by Bryan. A large and beefy man with red hair is standing on the sidewalk in striped pajamas and a night cap in front of his first floor office and second story apartment. The sign on his office reads “Fletcher January, Mystic Investigator.” It seems Bryan broke into Fletcher’s office. Traveler gets the direction Bryan went from Fletcher and leaves Connor to question him further. Meanwhile Julian and Thad take a quick trip back to the mansion to get Bryan’s laptop, which they had left there.
Fletcher January invites Connor into his office, which is part detective’s office, part Chinese apothecary, and part junk shop. Prominently hung on the wall are a huge two handed claymore and a large chainmail hauberk. January explains, “That’s Skullcrusher my magical claymore. The armor isn’t magical but it is titanium.” They investigate the shop and discover that a pouch of powered Saint’s Bones and a book of Javanese spells were taken. January explains that the powder is useful for demon summoning spells, if magic worked on Earth and Connor explains what seems to have happened to Bryan. Fletcher sends Connor to a colleague to buy a replacement copy of the book of spells that Bryan stole so they can try to figure out what he’s up to.
Meanwhile, Traveler tracks Bryan to a residential neighborhood where Bryan attempts to escape him by stealing a car. However, Traveler uproots a stop sign and smashes the concrete end into Bryan through the windshield and steering wheel. Bryan counters with a blast of hell flame and grabs Traveler in a choke hold. Traveler grabs the Jin statue from Bryan’s satchel and teleports into the nearby house. There, Traveler hears a female resident on the phone to the police suddenly drop the phone and open a door to lead a large and angry sounding dog into the house.
Traveler blinks outside into the backyard where the dog is not and finds Bryan on the wing circling the house and the woman with a possessed look in her eyes wielding a kitchen knife that she does some damage with.
Traveler escapes to the safety of a parking structure some ways away with Bryan unable to slow him down with hell fire. Traveler meets the returning helicopter on the roof of the structure and everyone regroups at Fletcher January’s office.
January examines the spell book and concludes that if there were such thing as demons and that Bryan was possessed the demon would be trying to summon another demon to steal its body because a demonic spirit will eventually destroy any human body it inhabits. The components that Bryan is missing for the spell are a kris dagger and a sacrificial victim. Reasoning that Bryan will go after the most famous kris he can find for the sake of greater magical, they discover that there is an Indonesian exhibit at the Getty Center which includes a very famous kris.
Julian and Thad resume the search for Vivian’s location by flying the helicopter around the targeted area and having her say something over the webcam if she hears them. Meanwhile Traveler and Connor drive to the Getty Center and find that it is surrounded by police and swat teams. There is gunfire coming from the main entrance; it looks like possessed swat members are pinning down the rest of the police and swat team. Connor and Traveler sneak in the back entrance and find the main exhibit hall where they encounter and subdue some possessed security guards and find Bryan has located the kris he desires. There is a short fight which destroys several priceless artifacts and Bryan escapes with the kris but before he does the real Bryan regains momentary control and reveals in his own voice Vivian’s location.
Traveler and Connor are left facing down the guns of 5 possessed security guards.
Outside the influence of the demon the security guards regain their own minds and attempt to detain Connor and Traveler. Connor leaves the museum, and Traveler stays to explain the situation to the police. “Bryan is possessed, he’s planning to steal a kris and use to sacrifice some human victims.” The police attempt to detain Traveler until the situation can be straightened out, but Traveler blinks away as soon as he can to bring tell Julian the address Bryan spoke to him in a moment of apparent control.
Julian, Connor, and Thad converge on the abandoned warehouse when Vivian is being kept. Carefully, then enter the basement to free Vivian and defuse the bomb to which she is attached, but as they turn to leave a tractor trailer crashes through the wall of the warehouse and into the half-basement forming a ramp down which floods a horde of 2 foot tall pot-bellied little devil creatures made entirely of stinky squelchy chemical laced mud. The creatures also begin to pour in through the windows that look down into the basement area.
Julian and Vivian race for the cargo elevators while the Mud Devils attempt to capture them and the rest of the character’s attempt to hold them off. Notably, Thad uses the plastic explosives and the truck’s large gas tanks to destroy many of the creatures and to collapse a quarter of the building.
Julian and Vivian succeed in escaping to the roof where the Mud Devils cannot follow them in such large numbers only to find that the demon possessed and very torn and damaged body of Bryan is flying nearby directing the horde of Mud Devils surrounding the building and climbing towards the roof to bring Julian to him.
At this moment the Sorceress appears in a flash of blue light with two golems of obsidian. She observes the situation and commands the golems to prevent Julian from interfering while she begins to cast spells.
The Mud Devils have commandeered a large crane nearby with a wrecking ball attached and are now swinging it towards the warehouse roof which is the center of the action. Julian warns the Sorceress whose back is to the incoming wrecking ball. She leaps away from the impact, but falls through the large gash it leaves to the second floor.
Traveler arrives at the warehouse and begins sneaking towards the roof. Connor arrives at the roof and begins blasting. Fletcher January arrives at the warehouse on the back of a police horse, wearing his suit of chainmail and begins to cleave a path through the swarm of Mud Devils with his giant sword, Skullcrusher.
On the roof Demon Bryan swoops in towards Julian who leaps up to meet him in the air. When they fall to the roof, Julian has the demon pinned to the ground.
On the second story Traveler sees the Sorceress and decides to attempt to restrain her but her spell of servitude is too powerful and she commands Traveler to bring her the head of Bryan Roof.
Thad, edging his cautious way around the outside of the roof, attempts to subdue her but her magical defenses are too strong. She turns her dark ensorcellment upon Thad, who retreats into the protection of the Monster personality and leaves to seek some easy prey.
Grabbing a fire-axe left behind in the warehouse, Traveler blinks on to the roof and, finding Bryan conveniently pinned to the ground, decapitates him just as he was preparing to spew a gout of fiery hell-breath in Julian’s face.
Traveler grabs the head, which is wreathed in a small cloud of dark sparkling fog, and tosses it to the Sorceress, who is levitating up from the second floor. Triumphant, she begins to teleport to safety, but Fletcher January, the Jin of Borobudur statue in his hands, climbs to the roof of the warehouse and speaks a few arcane words to return the demon’s soul to its original container.
Holding up the statue, Fletcher commands the Mud Devils to depart from this world, which they do, leaving splotches of slimy mud everywhere.
In the distance police cars, helicopters, and emergency vehicles can be seen and heard rushing to the scene of the very large explosion.
Subsumed into Scene 8.
Scene 8 – Dates in Time
September 8th 2009 – On a private jet leaving London Heathrow
Julian, a glass of expensive brandy in hand, turns away from the window where he was watching the moonlight on the clouds and towards the odd trio of men sitting in various states of comfort on the jet’s exquisite furniture, “an organization that can offer hope and knowledge instead of fear and uncertainty. I think that is an excellent idea!” Julian sits down and starts to jot some notes, speaking them out loud for the opinions of the others. “Mission statement…’we are an international advocacy organization for those with unusual abilities who want to make the world a better place.”
“Sounds good,” says Traveler, now pacing the floor, “What about the name?”
Julian thinks for a bit, “Viridian.”
“Light blue? Isn’t that kind of meaningless?”
“Yes, that’s its advantage, I think. Our good intentions will have an uphill battle with everyone, but at least no ulterior motives can be derived from the name. It will only ever mean what our actions make it mean. Plus the marketing scheme is obvious.”
Evening, September 10th 2009 – On a muddy rooftop
Police helicopters and emergency vehicles converge on a muddy rooftop partially destroyed by a recent massive explosion and the impact of a giant wrecking ball. Deep in evening shadows the crouched figure of the Monster lopes across the muddy field towards the nearest habitations. The lithe gray figure of Traveler discretely follows. Fletcher January gallops off, and Connor takes the dangerous demon possessed statue back to the Julian vaults in the Bugatti.
Once the emergency vehicles arrive they raise fire ladders to the roof and cautiously help Vivian and Julian down from the roof. Waiting for them to descend is police Sargent Smith whose initial line of questioning is cut short when the roof collapses sending up a cloud of grey dust that settles lightly over the dark mud.
A while later, on a bench in a relatively quiet hallway at the nearest police station, Vivian has had her minor abrasions attended too and been given a blanket. Both she and Julian have mugs of hot coffee.
Julian turns to speak, “Vivian, I’m sorry you got caught up in all this if you need some time.”
“No, I’M sorry. I’m sorry that you were put into a situation where you had to rescue me. It won’t happen again.” Is Vivian’s vehement reply, to which Julian makes no response. “I see the police give self-defense classes. I’ve been meaning to take some for years,” she continues.
Julian smiles and kisses her forehead. “Your class time is on me. Also…I need you and Ahn to start working on something right away….”
Somewhere in the shadows of a dirty run down stuccoed apartment complex Traveler has kept the soft and unsuspecting minds of the tenants away from the Monster long enough for Doctor Blake to reassert control over his personality, but leaves him suffering from the dry heaves for a bit. Traveler calls Connor to come get them and once he arrives helps the Doctor into the distinctly smoky interior of the Bugatti sports car. Then, rather than get in himself, Traveler turns and walks the other way paying no attention the Doctor Blake’s thank you because there are already too many voices in his head. Voices from the past, voices of friends, friends made in the crucible of a secret laboratory in the desert.
“You killed him just like you killed us to save yourself.”
“The first time was an accident. This time I didn’t even have a choice!”
After hours of wandering, his thoughts running over and over in a tight circle, Traveler’s phone beeps with the arrival of a text message that reads, “Coroner’s report shows Bryan was dead before he lost his head.”
Despite the chaos of the previous night, things wrap up rather neatly from a legal angle. The police gladly write the whole thing up as a ridiculously elaborate crime on the part of Bryan Roof, for which there is ample evidence. It’s clear to them that Bryan was killed in the massive explosion at the abandoned warehouse, which strangely enough is owned by Julian, who chooses not to press charges against himself for property destruction. And the fact that Bryan’s corpse was decapitated and the head is missing is noted in the police report but not explained. In the end Julian pays a few token fines for flying his helicopter around without a flight plan and for some safety violations at the battle site.
However, the events at the Getty Center, the surveillance tapes, and Traveler’s statement to the police there, are not mentioned, even obliquely. All that Sargent Smith will say about them is “That investigation is out of our hands.”
September 10th 2009 to January 11th 2010
A climate of fear
Julian’s public outing as a meta-human, the Viridian announcement, is made on the morning of September 11th and despite the fearful reactions and personal attacks Julian manages to deflect total global hysteria by becoming the “expert” on meta-humanity, willing to talk to any journalist, talk show host, or congressional committee, in any country and in any language. Basically making meta-humanity a fact people think they understand about and can begin to comfortably ignore.
However, Guy Haines, and other major figure, continues to stress the fact that we understand nothing about abnormals, have no way to know who they are, have few ways to stop them if they decided to use their powers against humanity. “What if there is an individual out there who can destroy an entire country? What if that person is a being recruited by Al Qaeda at this very moment?” Within a week most major governments have instituted mandatory registration for people with unusual abilities. Requiring all meta-humans to officially demonstrate and explain their abilities so that if a crime is committed with an unusual ability law enforcement can search the registration database for people who could have done it and so that people with the potential to be very dangerous can receive counseling and supervision. Most laws also require a DNA sample and fingerprints to be filed. Extreme laws, Singapore for example, require registrants to be electronically tagged. No law is voluntary and the penalties for failing to register a power are universally draconian which leads to some very nasty incidents of people informing on meta-humans they have a grudge against.
After a scare in which someone with fire powers loses control of them on an airplane, all registered meta-humans are banned from commercial air travel; a policy which Viridian is instrumental in making only temporary.
The secret one
Dr. Blake locks himself away in very secure room with his iPhone journal and begins the process of reuniting his personalities. He quickly learns that simply attempting psychic surgery on himself again is a sure trigger for the Monster. He also begins to develop a sense of other triggers and to gain a measure of control over the switch.
After the nth time recovering from the Monster, this time sans the dry heaves, Dr. Blake is reviewing his journal only to find the last entry has been erased and replaced by another “I’m scared. – The Secret One.” Blake reviews the video footage of himself; rewinding very carefully to avoid seeing even a flash of himself as the Monster and discovers that for nearly 5 minutes after recovering some previously unknown personality was expressed. This personality seems childlike and apprehensive in its reactions, mostly huddling in the corner and clutching the iPhone like a shield.
An obscurely worded Latin telegram from Mycroft arrives during this time. He and Julian arrange a secure meeting and Mycroft asks if Viridian could make use of his particular talents.
An anonymous donation of 10 million dollars is given to Viridian as well as some other much smaller sums.
While out wandering about, Traveler hears a whisper from the shadows in a familiar voice. “Hey mon…” Ghost Dance warns Traveler that the FBI, whom he now works for, is quietly investigating Traveler and Connor and they’re also sharing information with Interpol. Traveler invites Ghost Dance to join Viridian, but Ghost Dance has made a deal that he’ll help the FBI as long as they don’t send him away for crimes he’s been involved in. “An when I say away mon, I mean away. Where they send people well…not you, not me, no one can escape from mon so you be careful.”
January 12th 2010 – The Haiti earthquake
A 7.0 earthquake devastates Haiti and a week after Léo Mérorès, Haiti’s UN representative, asks for a private meeting with Julian. Mérorès has a statement from a relative of his that they overheard two Americans at a hotel referring to Mérorès’s nephew Napoleon as “target one” They said they haven’t acquired him yet and also mentioned how useful he is. Mérorès is concerned that they intend to kidnap Napoleon because the young boy had tried to warn people about the earthquake a week before it happened. Napoleon has been missing since the earthquake but Mérorès is convinced that he is still alive because Napoleon appeared to him in a dream and told him so.
“Can’t you help find my nephew before these people do?”