Get Real

Admiral Seymour Elementary School
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
October 8, 2014
9:26 PM PST

Gadgeteer watched from atop one of the buildings of Admiral Seymour Elementary School as kids poured out for recess. Located in East Vancouver, it wasn't exactly surrounded by pleasant company.

As the students started playing on the equipment, Gadgeteer could tell they'd rather be playing with game consoles or smartphones, but their family's finances forced otherwise. Feeling sorry for them, he decided to start testing his abilities as the Power of Play by making the plastic and metal playground structures more fun to use.

Sure enough, after a few seconds they were laughing and running around like never before. Everything was working just fine…

That's when Gadgeteer spotted the two girls at the chain-link fence, talking to a 20-something in a grey hoodie.

"You want to try something even more fun?" the stranger asked, pulling out a bag of white powder.

Being wet behind the ears at the way reality worked, Gadgeteer didn't know it was a drug or how bad drugs can mess up a person's life. But what he did know was that the bag oozed a corrupting force that degraded things like Play for its users.

He immediately leaped into action, literally. Springing from the edge of the roof and flying over the fence, he landed in a tree so quietly that the drug dealer never noticed Gadgeteer a meter directly above his head.

Gadgeteer grabbed a branch of the tree, pulled back as far as it would go, and let it loose. The branch came down on the dealer's head, knocking him out cold. The girls, surprised, screamed and ran to get a teacher to sort out the situation.

Quickly hopping out of the tree, Gadgeteer pulled back the peddler's grey hood to reveal a sickly looking young man. After checking the dealer's pockets, he found a key chain with a car key, a house key and a key of unknown origin, and a wallet with $8.10 Canadian, $44.23 American, and a matching photo ID for one 'Damien Shen' inside.

Undecided of what to do, Gadgeteer was considering framing him for a crime of equivalent seriousness to the one attempted, to ensure it met his personal values of fairness, when a voice startled him.

"Hey, kid! What do you think you're doing?" a female voice said with a throat that had been abused horribly.

Gadgeteer turned to face the source of the voice, finding himself staring at a young woman with messy white hair in a tattered winter jacket smoking a cigarette. She emanated the kind of corruption found in the powder in the plastic bag. Obviously anyone could fall prey to this horrific force, regardless of even mortality, as this was no mortal stumbling across him; it was another Nobilis.

"Why?" Gadgeteer asked, grateful he hadn't been noticed by a mortal.

"Why? Why?! Because I'm the goddamn Power of Narcotics, that's why, you little-!" she responded in anger, but was cut off by Gadgeteer before she could say that last crude word. "Jeez, you're not even going to introduce yourself?!" Gadgeteer complained.

"Call me Krystal. Krystal Meth." the opposing Power said, then blew smoke in Gadgeteer's face. "Who are you?"

Gadgeteer coughed and instinctively brought his red hoodie to cover his face. "I'm Gadgeteer, the Power of Play." he said, his voice muffled. "So you're annoyed because I took out someone conveying your estate?"

"No, I'm annoyed because you took out one of my Anchors, moron!" Krystal explained. "This guy is the middleman that I use to spread my estate when I need precision."

"Who is he?" Gadgeteer asked.

"None of your business, pipsqueak!" Krystal stated.

"I'm guessing you want me out of your way so you can continue corrupting those kids?" Gadgeteer asked disapprovingly.

"Duh?" Krystal said, putting her hand on the young man's head. "Damien, you braindead idiot. Looks like I'm going to have to give him a shot of amphetamene to wake the bastard up. Good thing they call me Meth for a reason."

"I'm not letting you do that." Gadgeteer said.

"Excuse me?!" Krystal said angrily.

"I don't put up with anyone who harms innocent kids. Stay away." Gadgeteer firmly stated.

"Oh yeah? How about you look over there?" Krystal said, pointing to the two girls returning without the apparently apathetic teachers.

The girls walked up to a younger, shy girl sitting at a picnic table alone playing with a worn ragdoll. They grabbed the toy out of her hands and threw it to the ground, stomping on it repeatedly.

"Noble or not, you're just a fictional character. A naive, innocent, plucky little cartoon kid who thinks he's a real boy. That there, the girls being mean for kicks? That's what real children are like. They are no more innocent than anyone else." Krystal said coldly. "Now get out of here before I hit YOU over the head with a branch."

Gadgeteer just ran away with tears in his eyes.

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