Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport
October 9, 2014
6:41 AM CET
"No." Gadgeteer said, facepalming. It was a good thing Powers didn't get tired in the same way humans did, because after a 10 hour flight it was starting to become apparent that Alex wasn't the easiest guy to work with.
Waiting for them at the airport arrivals zone was a pair of Lamborghini Aventador supercars – one in forest green and one in aquamarine – courtesy of a luxury car rental company. Since Gadgeteer obviously couldn't legally drive and they needed three seats in total, they needed exactly two of the ostentatious vehicles.
"I spent 200 grand on the deposit!" Alex told him.
"What?! That's even worse! We don't just have money to throw around!" Gadgeteer complained in exasperation.
"Speak for yourself, kid.” Alex said smugly. “Besides, we can't back out now!" Alex insisted.
"Does Feeney even know how to drive?!" Gadgeteer asked. “Does Feeney even have feet?!”
"You don't.” Alex told him bluntly.
“I have feet!” Gadgeteer exclaimed.
“I mean, you don't know how to drive." Alex reminded him.
“Shows what you know! I drove semi-trucks and flew quadcopters on a regular basis in my 'old life'.” Gadgeteer said, annoyed. “Illegally, but in that world Kids never grew up anyway, so stuff it.”
"That's it? You're just annoyed because the police would have a fit if they caught you at the wheel?"
"I just think we should try to blend in more. Also, a car that can drive off-road wouldn't hurt." Gadgeteer defended.
They got into the cars regardless, the clock on the high-tech dashboard placing the current time at 6:44 AM CEST. Gadgeteer hopped in with Feeney and as the two cars zipped away from the curb to begin the trip to Iniesta, the scarecrow was already asking the cartoon boy how to work the GPS.
“How can you not know this? It's so simple!” Gadgeteer said, setting their destination and then fiddling with the various settings like the satellite radio and the GPS voice.
Ayuntamiento de Iniesta
Iniesta, Cuenca, Spain
October 9, 2014
8:56 AM CET
A little over two hours later, they arrived at the small town and parked their cars on the side of the road in front of city hall to begin scoping out the town.
“Okay, so here's the plan.” Alex began.
Gadgeteer was having none of that. “I already have enough trouble with Rau. You're not the boss of me!”
“Look kid, do you want to save your estate or not?! Because we can either go in clueless and get our asses handed to us, or we can use strategy!”
“You're a video game developer! What do you know about strategy?” Gadgeter said angrily. “I at least led a couple teammates through missions!”
Alex tried to answer that, only to realize the boy had a point. Even his business strategies were not exactly useful on the battlefield.
“You do both realize that we have more subtle ways of finding out information?” Feeney said, reminding them of their abilities as Powers. “The Sight? We talked about it on the plane?”
“Right.” Gadgeteer said and focused, the world blurring around him. A few things, however, were actually sharper than normal. The girl playing Pokémon Y in a car as it passed by. The lone basketball in the nearby playground. A couple of stray puppies playing tug-o-war with an old dishcloth.
Nothing of note, though. Gadgeteer activated his B.A.K.P.A.K. and with the power of two blowdryers he took to the skies.
As he surveyed the area, little of note could be seen at 9 in the morning. Suddenly, a cry for help reached his ears from one of the winding streets of the ancient core of the town, despite the majority of sounds being muffled by the Sight. He dove towards it and landed on one of the buildings making up the sides for the alley, then peered carefully over the edge to see what was going on.
A girl holding a stuffed rabbit had been backed into a corner by an imposing figure. The person emanated the aura of a force that made Krystal Meth's corrupting Narcotics look tame by comparison. This here could only be one thing…. The Power of Sadism.
Gadgeteer had to admit he didn't know what to do. If he didn't act now the girl could get hurt, but if he tried to intervene then he would have to take on a powerful opponent.
“Look what we have here…” the Power of Sadism said to the girl. “Didn't your parents ever tell you not to wander off alone?” he taunted, extending a set of steel claws from his gauntlet.
That was the last straw. Gadgeteer instinctively activated the G.A.T.L.I.I.N.G. in his B.A.K.P.A.K. to fire on the offending Power, and no sooner had the 'toy' minigun emerged a half-dozen darts hit the foe square on the back of the head.
The Power turned around, revealing his face to be covered with a jester mask. “Well, then. Look who finally showed up to the party.” the not-so-noble Noble said, extending the steel claws from his other gauntlet and crossing them in front of him.
Gadgeteer's heart sunk. It was a trap. There was only one hope he had. “Leave her alone. This is between you and me.”
“Oh, I beg to differ.” the masked menace said. “How rude of me, I forgot to introduce myself. I am Romulus Nightshade, Power of Sadism, connoisseur of wicked tastes, and fiend of the night.”
“Save it. I'm going to get to the bottom of this, and I won't let you hurt anyone else while I'm at it.” Gadgeteer said angrily.
“With a pair of toy guns?” Romulus said, momentarily retracting his right claw and wagging his index finger as if to say 'tsk-tsk'.
“Not Your Regular Foam.” Gadgeteer smiled. Suddenly the foam dart puffed up like a balloon, enveloping Romulus' head. “Run!” Gadgeteer said to the girl, knowing that in the Kidpunk RPG the material never did much other than impede vision for a few seconds while the victim pulled it off.
The girl was gone in seconds, running home scared out of her mind. Gadgeteer made a point of shooting a couple more darts onto Romulus' face to prolong the inevitable. Or so he thought.
Romulus retracted his claws and began grabbing at the foam in an attempt to remove it, however this merely got his hands trapped inside the foam as well. He started to struggle a little less hard, then collapsed to his knees and then finally to the ground. Romulus continued to twitch for quite some time, and seemed to have lost consciousness. Finally all signs of life left the former noble.
“I-” Gadgeteer said, shaking in shock.
“Kid!” a voice said. “Kid, snap out of it!”
“What- why- who-” Gadgeteer sputtered in a panic.
“We've got to get out of here!” Alex said. “That girl you saved got her parents to call the cops!”
“I- the cat- got the salad-” Gadgeteer said in confusion, following them away from the scene of the crime.
“First I've got to take care of something…” Alex said, and shoved his hand straight into Romulus' still chest, then pulled out the blood-covered heart and pocketed it. If anyone ate this thing - as gruesome as that would be - they would become the new Power of Sadism, which wasn't a good outcome.
Once they were far enough away, they sat down on the pavement, their backs propped against a wall. Gadgeteer shook his head and snapped out of it. “I didn't mean it… I just wanted him to leave her alone…”
“The guy who attacked your estate? Didn't you know?” Alex said, and pulled out a newspaper, with the headline La Policía Solicita Ayuda Pública Para Encontrar Asesino En Serie displayed on the front page. "He's been playing with the lives of his victims, and you do not want to know the sadistic shit he did to them. That freak has been at this for only a couple days and already the bodies were mounting. No wonder it counted as an attack on your Estate.”
“But I… I never wanted to kill anyone! It shouldn't even be-” Gadgeteer said, distressed. “That's it, isn't it? How this 'real world' is so different from the world of my fictional memories. People can… die…” he sobbed, shaking anxiously.
“I don't know what to say, but you've got a responsibility now. It doesn't matter if people die while you try to save your Estate, as long as you don't fail.” Alex grumbled, knowing that he'd probably have to eat those words at some point.
Feeney showed up carrying a map of some sort. “I broke into the Police Station and found something…” he said, unrolling a map. It had been marked with the locations where Romulus - or 'El Asesino con Garras' as it was labelled on the map in Spanish - had dumped the bodies of several men and women during his short killing spree.
Several of the marks were clustered together around a point along a road through the Spanish countryside leading from Iniesta to the west.
“Let's return to the cars then.” Alex said and stood up. “You ready for this, kid?”
“…yeah.” Gadgeteer said reluctantly, and sat up to follow them.
When they arrived at the location where they left the cars, the words 'Insert Lambo Here' appeared in the BOGGLES' HUD in comical fashion with an outline of the vehicle. “Uh, Alex?”
“Kid, where are our cars?” Alex asked him.
“I thought you knew!” Gadgeteer asked.
“Isn't that them over there?” Feeney interjected, pointing at a tow truck carrying their rental cars down the street.
“MotherF***ER!” Alex yelled.
Gadgeteer frowned. “I told you renting supercars was a bad idea! But did you listen?! No!”
“No time! After that truck!” Alex said.
They chased after the truck on foot, but it quickly became apparent that even with the powers of a Nobilis they could not catch up to a motor vehicle without a vehicle of their own.
“I'm going after that thing!” Gadgeteer said, taking to the air again. As soon as he did, an arrow made of fire went right through him. And I do mean RIGHT THROUGH, leaving a round bloodless hole about the width of a silver dollar or Canadian Loonie and which was identical in color to his red hoodie until it met the BAKPAK where it became a solid orange.
Evidently the bowman, who Gadgeteer spotted on a nearby rooftop with a bit of shock, hadn't counted on Toon physics.
The archer was dressed in traditional Middle Eastern clothing and holding a bow… or at least, it looked sort of like a bow. But somehow it resembled a payphone receiver which had been stretched and skewed, torn off the main cabinet and with a thick cable strung from the tips of the plastic handset.
The assailant was clearly a Noble, and seemed to have been born from the fervor of religious extremists than from any real person, with no clear connection to any one ideology and bearing little resemblance to the actual peoples of the Arabian peninsula. This was the Power of Zealotry.
Taking aim at Gadgeteer again, the second shot struck the left blowdryer engine of the boy's makeshift jetpack, sending him spiraling to the ground where he skidded a few feet on the pavement and looked up to find the attacker jumping down from the roof to land in front of him. Then the entity lifted Gadgeteer by his collar, and looked at him eye-to-eye.
Try as Gadgeteer might, he couldn't make out the Noble's face even from an arm's length. It was like some cosmic force was blurring it in the post-film editing of the 'cameras' of his eyes. “Let me go!” he said, struggling in the other Noble's grip.
“So you are the Power that Romulus went after?” the Noble asked. “Where is he?”
“You don't want to know that.” Alex said, confronting the mysterious newcomer.
“And what will either of you do to stop the messenger of the Heavens?” the Power responded.
Feeney had a better idea. He pulled a revolver out of his suit jacket, and fired it at the tow truck. Instead of a bullet hitting the truck or its cargo, its right front tire burst like a balloon, and the truck slammed into the wall of a building on the side of the road. As a result of vibration from the collision, the wall behind their foe collapsed, slamming down on them. As the dust cleared, Gadgeteer climbed out of a window in the wall, stretching as he pulled himself out from under the stone slab.
“That's… really weird.” Alex remarked at the cartoon nature of Gadgeteer's existence. “Where did that hole go?”
Gadgeteer just shrugged. “I never really noticed it. Although nobody's ever hit me with a deadly weapon before. Where'd Feeney get that gun?!”
“My shop. I immediately realized it was enchanted to disrupt things it is aimed at in the favor of whoever fires it.” Feeney explained. “We're not done yet…” he said, pointing at the slab of stone wall which was beginning to shake. “The Power of Sadism didn't suffocate once, but multiple times. That's why he's gone. This one, on the other hand…”
“Great, so all we did was get rid of one of his nine lives.“ Alex said.
A fist burst through the chunk of stone wall, and the Power of Zealotry emerged from beneath it. ”Clever.” the Noble said, their voice just as miraculously vague as their face. They picked up the remains of the 'phone-bow' which had snapped in two from the crushing impact of the wall. “…and I was beginning to get attached to this one.”
“We aren't here for you. Leave us alone.” Gadgeteer told him.
“Not here for me? Not here for ME?!” the Power said, becoming enraged. “You think this is about me?! No! This is about Romulus and you! I'm just here to avenge my fallen ally. I never liked that vampire-turned-Noble. Why should such a despicable creature become a force of nature? Yet I now have no choice. This doesn't end until you die, or me and the rest of my Familia Caelestis do!” As they said this, the Power grabbed a long and slightly bent piece of metal railing that had broken off from the window in the now-ruined wall, snatched up a length of curtain fabric, and made another bow-like object.
Gadgeteer had already taken out the N.Y.R.F. pistol, and fired a shot, only for it to be taken out in mid-air by an arrow made of flame. The next two shots met the same results.
“So the kid got lucky.” Alex said, turning to Feeney. “Do something!”
“I just tried to, but their auctoritas is active.” Feeney responded.
“Their what?” Alex said, confused.
“A Power's auctoritas prevents other powers from affecting their actions and body.” Feeney explained. “I can't do a thing to those arrows.”
“Then drop another wall on him!” Alex hissed. “It. Whatever.”
“I really don't think they'll fall for a trick twice, considering they learned from a mistake someone else made.” Feeney said. “Unless you want me to make an airplane drop out of the sky, I'm out of ammo. It's up to you.”
“How exactly can Video Games stop this guy?!” Alex said. “This is real life, and I don't exactly see any game consoles nearby! Unless…”
He focused, and the Sight made him aware of a PlayStation 2 in a nearby home that was showing it's age. Instantly, the console levitated into the air and shattered a window with an attached controller. The controller then extended out the window, it's cord miraculously getting longer, and wrapped itself around the enemy Power.
“Now… Who are you?” Alex said, walking up to the foe as Gadgeteer shot a few NYRF darts at the Power's already restricted limbs and body to reinforce the restraints.
“They call me Mohamed.” the Power said.
“Whoever calls you THAT… is wrong.” Alex said. “I know people who believe in the coming of a prophet called Mohamed. They claim he would be a good person who would lead the world in to a new age. Regardless of the fact that I now know the world doesn't work that way, or that even under their assumptions what they claim might end up being false, they believed that the Prophet was a person of wisdom and honor. A person that represented their culture's prevailing belief in peace and happiness like all cultures do, regardless of the extremists that try to say otherwise. You are not Mohamed, you're a false god, and with your Noble powers you're the worst kind of false god.”
“You cannot fool me, heathen!” the Power said.
“Well, I tried.” Alex said, and constricted the game controller cables tighter. Much tighter.
Several gruesome cracks were heard, until finally the Power looked about to burst into a pile of gore.
“Stop!” Gadgeteer yelled. “No more. Find another way. This is just cruel.”
“Unlike you I don't have a problem breaking a few bones, but fine.” Alex said. The levitating game console spat out a disc labeled “FIFA '14 Legacy Edition” which Alex looked at and just shook his head in disappointment at the owner's poor taste in video games.
A laser shot from the disc drive of the console and hit the 'false god', and in a burst of light their weakened foe was gone. In it's place, a CD labeled 'juego piratada' clattered on the pavement, which Alex picked up and pocketed. “See you in development hell, prick.”
The game console then hovered back in through the broken window of it's owner's house and returned its cords and position to their former states, finally losing its temporary animation.
Looking down the street, the tow truck was now surrounded by police cars and an ambulance, and two firemen turned away from their truck and headed towards their location. They each paused a second as their eyes locked on Feeney and Gadgeteer, but then blinked and continued as normal. “You three! Did you see what happened here?” one of them said as they approached in a hurry. It was then the three Powers realized they understood every language.
“Yeah, the tow truck blew a tire.” Gadgeteer said. “Is the driver alright?”
“He's a bit shaken up and muttering something about miracles, but fortunately the truck impacted on the passenger's side and the homeowners were on vacation.” the one fireman said.
“You three should be careful.” the other fireman said. “There's a serial killer on the loose. They just found another victim in a street deeper in the town core.”
“Shit. We had no idea.” Alex responded.
“Yeah. The killer put the body in a weird costume and tore out his heart. Very gruesome.” the first fireman said.
That was when a police officer arrived and joined the conversation. “Did they see what happened?” she asked, momentarily glancing at Gadgeteer with a feeling that something was off about him, but quickly returning focus to the situation.
“They said the tow truck's tire went out and caused the crash.” the fireman said.
“Is that correct?” the police officer asked.
“It is.” Feeney replied.
“Did the wall come down as a result of the crash?” the officer said, continuing the questioning as the firemen began inspecting the building the wall fell off from.
“It seems like it. The wall came down the second the truck impacted.” Feeney replied.
“What exactly were you doing out here when you saw the truck crash?” the officer asked.
The three Nobles looked at each other.
“I'm Alex Chaser, CEO of Draconic Studios. My business partner and I…” Alex said, looking at Feeney, “…were scouting for a location for our new European HQ, and the two cars on the flatbed tow truck were our rental vehicles. We were trying to flag down the driver when he lost control. I suppose I'll have to buy us a bus ticket to Madrid.”
“Aren't you a little young to be a CEO?” the policewoman said, looking over the 18-year old.
“That's probably been said about Mark Zuckerberg.” Alex pointed out. “Admittedly our latest game was a much bigger success than we'd ever dreamed, so there was a lot of luck involved.”
“And the kid-” the officer stopped in mid-sentence. “Where did he go?!”
Alex and Feeney looked around and then shrugged. Gadgeteer watched the conversation from the top of the damaged house, peeking over the tip of the roof.
The officer sighed. “I don't have time to look for him, or any other officers to spare. If you see him, can you give me a call to let me know he's okay?” she said, and took out a notepad. Writing a phone number on it, she handed it to them and turned away to check back with the emergency workers by the tow truck.
Feeney and Alex traveled just out of sight of the chaos, where Gadgeteer leaped down from a building to reunite with them. “So then, Mr. Rental Supercars… What's the plan?” he said with a snide tone.
“How did our cars even get towed?!” Alex said, confused.
“My guess? A Power called to rat your parking job out.” Gadgeteer replied.
“Great. So even after we defeated them they cost me $250 grand…” Alex groaned.
“I don't think we're done yet.” Feeney said. “Something was disrupting the police's radio chatter, but not as part of my estate. The emergency workers couldn't coordinate enough to find us thanks to disruption from a… disturbing force.”
“Isn't disturbing something a kind of disruption?” Alex said, rolling his eyes.
“Not that kid of disturbing. More like… horror.” Feeney said.
“How would a fear-based estate be capable of disrupting technological infrastructure?” Alex said.
Suddenly Alex's phone rang.
“You gonna get that?” Gadgeteer asked as the annoying beep continued.
Alex looked at the brand new Samsung Galaxy S5 which his Nobility had transformed his old Nexus S into. The caller ID simply displayed I WAS PHONE, and for all it's state-of-the-art tech and miraculous nature the smartphone's ringtone was glitching up. Alex rejected the call as the screen started to glitch up as well.
Then a Skype 'add contact' request came in, from someone called 'ben.drowned' with the comment You shouldn't have done that… in the most ominous manner ever.
Alex frowned. “Guys? I have a bad feeling about this…”