Empowered Service Week kicks off with the usual fair - and the Travelers’ arrival, which is sure to raise a few eyebrows over the coming weeks. Mako is certainly suspicious as is his usual… in between reclaiming a local Pokemon gym, anyway. The Bronze Blade weaves through the crowds with his usual inhuman speed. Captain Blackhawk keeps at a slight remove more out of necessity than desire. Stinger does her nightly patrols. Jess isn’t terribly fond of all this crowding. Halitosis is just plain unimpressed with everything.
Joscelin sets up the traditional check-in/cat-herding, and Ed asks how to handle it when a close friend is infiltrating and you’re not, receiving advice of… varying effectiveness. Claudia, super pleased to finally be herself on one of these things, sets Malik up with some clothes before he gets around to exploring. Natasha sets about gathering information as only she can. Kanji is briefly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of signal his cybernetics from Gehenna are picking up. Right gets in on the Pokemon excitement. Stein does his best to blend in. Jason is well-placed to join in on the vigilantism shenanigans. Zoe sets about tracking down her husband and daughter. Alcuin is not having a very good time of things.
In pooling their preliminary information, the group hits on a possible mission in the planned installation of a Solomon Ring - something which Beatrice is quick to point out could have more to do with controlling the local population than anything more seemingly benign. A number of investigators plan to put their various info-gathering talents to work on this front (it’s a more likely reason for their being here than Pokemon, anyway).
Melissa is feeling too old for this shit. Various Empowered groups make their presence known and keep the masses entertained by day, doing their hero thing (or robbery thing) by night. Libby monitors the crowd for newsworthy events… in between reclaiming a local Pokemon gym, anyway. Jules tries to keep from petrifying while manning the local Empowered school’s booth; his mother is, of course, on the scene sometimes herself.
Dr. L looks for some new
The end of Service Week brings with it a shipment of parts for the Solomon Ring - and the long-awaited protests regarding its installation. Feelings about those protests run the gamut from joining in to being deeply unsettled. Either way, security is out in force, in all shapes and sizes.
Claudia continues tracking down information on the Solomon Ring in general and the Kau Lung Incursion in particular - just in time for the Manticore Knights to realise their lost spy may have popped back up on the radar, and for poor Joscelin to end up in far hotter water than he realises. Malik is busy eavesdropping the old-fashioned way. Chie tries her hand at vigilantism… rather poorly, unfortunately, until she figures out her Persona is an option. Zoe gets some flak from protesters. Asa suspects this whole thing is vaguely familiar. Kanji settles into a job with a fashion designer. Yosuke stumbles into an Empowered ability to call his own, and isn’t sure he likes it. Tybalt trolls some protesters and sets up a spy network of cats. Tachibana reaches out to some local Empowered kids. Natsumi finds a job and parlays it into a chance to sneak around the wharfs and look for info. Minako makes an effort to, well, make an effort after noping out so hard in Rome.
The White Company hosts a garden party/recruiting session. The MacGregor family has its monthly dinner. Altair and Legion go a-heisting. Matthew puts his life-sensing abilities to use trying to find someone for Thorne; unfortunately, ‘Alan’ is long gone. Rosalie is determined to have a little fun, even in the midst of Kau Lung coming back to haunt her. Starburst makes the most of the night life, and finds a lost child, setting Imriel on the road to reuniting with his mom. Thorne snoops around both the protests and the Solomon Ring site, catching John and Mako’s attention in the middle of the week; she dies during their interrogation of her, providing the investigators with some information upon revival. Gregory gets ever closer to a literal meltdown. Lily tries her hand at helping people. Avery gets into a spot of trouble. Jouhei and Ai are at pretty serious odds with each other - too bad they’re stuck sharing a body. The Wraith is after information on the Solomon Ring. Alex asks Libby out.
With a week to go before the royal family arrives in Newport, the Manticore Knights, eventually joined by the White Company (with varying levels of enthusiasm), roll out security checkpoints. This goes over about as well as you might expect.
Claudia puts her paperwork-falsifying skills to use, for herself and, once she’s sure it passes the sniff test, the other investigators. Minako returns from an inadvertent side quest into the wrong Liminal Space, still completely cut off from the psychic network and Liminal proper; that doesn’t stop her from trying to continue investigating. Zaknafein runs into trouble. Korra puts everyone on alert about John’s mercury manipulation powers. Thorne has a go at Malik-Gambiting as… herself, or at least her recently-dead overlay. Zoe runs afoul of the police before Claudia’s offer of paperwork even gets out. Kanji keeps an ear on the police chatter, and finds some interesting stuff. Malik breaks into Manticore HQ in pursuit of information… and alerts Mako and his partner to the intrusion. Once again, interrogation does not go well. Tachibana has lost something important, and Hajime tries to help him get it back. Naoki retreats to Liminal Space in an effort to regroup. Phedre alerts the network to her arrest. Yosuke manages to get on Mako’s bad side, and has an interesting encounter while in custody.
The Seraphim talk to Selene about the exact nature of Dr. L’s experiments, and Bad Decisions are made all around. Phillip is annoyed with the blockades by day and pushes his luck by night. Melissa gets some papers for her son. Jules tries to stick to the relative safety of the school, and has to call his mother for help when he does leave. Zed assists with the blockades under the greatest of duress. No Man’s Land keeps its doors open. Dan is, if anything, more uneasy than he was during the protests. Riddick keeps his head down, and talks school possibilities with Lily. Rosalie soldiers on with her job. Avery has lost his memory. Mako feels like there’s got to be a better use of his time than directing traffic, especially with the possessing entities from Kau Lung back. John tries his hand at villaining… which, funnily enough, doesn’t include the part where he kidnaps Phedre. Ai and Jouhei are not having the greatest of weeks. Revenant just wants to stay out of trouble. Legion takes in the chaos. Random testing among the Manticores reveals Eclipse to be possessed by one of the rogue spirits; an exorcism is had, but it doesn’t go that smoothly for Tim. (Steph does not take this development well.) Nigel conducts some interviews. The volcano spirit forcibly bonded to Gregory takes the reins for a bit.
Meanwhile, Leo poses the investigators an interesting question…
The royal couple’s arrival causes quite a stir - and, unfortunately, doesn’t stop the Manticore Knights’ security crackdowns.
The King and Queen hold individual audiences in their Newport residence, as well as making the rounds to visit the local Empowered school, among other official stops. Of course, not everyone is necessarily happy that they’re here...
Steph tries to get to the bottom of Tim’s amnesia. The Angels are… less than impressed to have revived without Matthew’s company, and set about throwing a fit, burning down Dr. L’s house in the process. During this time, Professor Stein makes terrible life choices. Tybalt sets about working out how to take down the Manticore, and make sure Newport’s cats will be cared for in his absence. He also proposes Traveler Theatre and gives up covering his fae identity among the investigators (cue Jules freaking out post-jaunt in three… two…). Faed finds a certain irony in being detained as an illegal alien. Naoki marks his sister’s birthday. Jaina finds herself wishing she could Jedi-mind-trick the Manticorps. Right gets caught without papers (great job, kid). Zoe keeps an ear on the local chatter, and an eye out to help with Claudia’s Artifact-hunt. Claudia helps Minako work out investigative points for the treehotel Liminal, and reports an interesting tidbit about her audience with the queen to the network. Kenzaki makes new living arrangements, and takes a side on the matter of the Manticore Knights. Helena, successfully retrieved from her dungeon, sets about catching up with current events. Liara has been arrested.
Armin, copying Joscelin’s portal creation, busts into Liminal Space; Mikasa is less than impressed. Dan discovers some truly alarming information about the royal family, and sets about spreading the word that the ‘royal couple’ are in fact spirits, not human; Phillip is one of his first recruits. Lily tries to help people out while avoiding official checkpoints. Zed finally pushes his luck too far, and is killed by Mako; upon revival, he immediately starts plotting the Manticore Knights’ downfall. Matthew moves back home to recuperate, and adjust to his sudden new electricity powers. Imriel tries to adjust to the modern world, including school - and his power-nullifying, er, powers give Jules quite a shock.
Gregory’s volcano spirit finally achieves literal meltdown. Revenant has a bit of a power trip after dealing with the Angels’ rampage. Blackhawk hosts a White Company gathering for the queen, confirming in the process that this is not the queen he met previously. Mako, finally driven to the heights of paranoia, scans his own brain, evicts the ‘possessing spirit’ he finds, and puts out an APB on Naoto (who is not taking her former overlay’s body count well). Stinger is less than pleased by the protests. Rise makes the most of being put on guard duty. The Wraith makes a business deal with Halitosis, who is looking to sell some equipment. John quits the Manticorps and goes full vigilante-villain. Avery is struggling with his missing memories, still.
With the climax of the jaunt swiftly approaching, Beatrice attempts her own cat-herding to see if the investigators have any consensus about what to do. The plan seems to be ‘break the Solomon Ring out of the Manticore’s control, somehow,’ with ‘kill the Manticore’ as a not-unreasonable corollary. Chie reveals that the White Company is discussing arresting the royal couple for being… well, not the royal couple.
The Manticore finally comes to town, the day before the Solomon Ring is due to be activated. Dun dun DUNNNN.
Audiences go in a… variety of directions, ranging from challenges to questions of identity to a sick child wanting to pet the giant scorpionkitty. Rosalie takes a round or two of guard duty. Mako tries to avoid the Manticore’s direct attention, and is still on the hunt for the spirit that was possessing him, unaware that Naoto is making ill-advised decisions in front of the Manticore himself. Zed gets himself thrown the fuck out. Meanwhile, Phillip gets a thieving lesson from his new buddy, and Phedre and Leo get busted out of jail. Helena has a look around town before the chaos sets in. Beatrice traps the Angels in Liminal Space to prevent them from causing any more trouble before going to see what she can assist with regarding Ring disruptions.
Plans to disrupt the Ring take a number of shapes, with Dr. L readying Priscilla to wreak havoc on it and various Travelers tweaking its parameters. Halitosis plans to use himself as a suicide bomb on the Manticore; the other members of the Hex Pistols are less than impressed with the idea, ultimately talking him out of it.
Thanks to the disruption, the Ring’s activation goes awry almost immediately. Blackhawk improvises with the White Company’s initial plan, shifting it to getting the royals out of the box in the name of ‘security’ and proceeding from there. Minerva jumps directly into assisting with evacuation alongside getting her students out of danger. Kanji, Natsumi and Liara dive into helping with crowd control.
The Manticore kills Priscilla, draining himself so far in the process that a well-timed rifle shot from Beatrice is enough to fell him for good. The Solomon Ring has been altered enough to remain open all the time, without the Manticore’s say-so; with their patron’s death, any Manticore Knights who didn’t have powers before joining are now bereft. The human king and queen are returned to their world.
Well, at least someone’s happy with all this.