Masks: A New Generation: Gauntlet Quarterly S5
Masks: A New Generation
Steven desJardins, Jesse Larimer, Chris Newton, Steven Watkins
The team has a moment to take stock of their situation. At a cost they had defeated their classmates Bolt and Grey and those classmates’ villainous adult selves (Overrun and Nightfall). Sarah Sparks let loose her social media bomb on Bolt, destroying his rep and keeping him on the run. At the school itself, where the fight took place, the student body is torn: some applaud taking Bolt down while others feel nervous around kid heroes willing to turn over their peers to the authorities.
When footage of the battle leaks out, speculation runs rampant through the classrooms as to the heroes’ identities. Gabriel, the only member of the team with no secrets, takes the brunt of this. They’re alternately admired and feared. Sarah tells the team to stay out of costume until things cool down. Overclock skips school and hides out from his parents. Alone he tries to come to terms with the danger he’s created—much of what has happened seems to swirl around his time powers.
Mimic throws herself into her work. She pulls together the extra money she’s made over the last several weeks and tracks down her friend Jeanne. Jeanne is shaken by the superheroics at the school and Ally (Mimic’s civilian identity)’s rejection of her friendship. Mimic offers the money to Jeanne who rejects the charity. In the heat of the moment, Ally reveals herself as Mimic, the super who destroyed Ally’s house and put her family in their financial predicament. Her friend screams in her face and runs away. As Mimic salvages the cash from the snow on the ground, she receives a call from Molly, Sara Sparks' civilian identity.
The two meet at a local coffee shop and Molly finally reveals her secret identity to Ally. Sparks had long ago figured out who Mimic was but hadn’t said anything. The two talk about their troubles and the challenges they face. Sara reveals her worry about Bolt—that he hated her enough to come back from the future to fight her.
At the same time Gabriel goes to Overclock’s house to find him. Overclock is quick enough to keep Gabriel from revealing that he’s been skipping school. In Overclock’s room, Gabriel asks him to use his time powers to sever the connection between Gabriel and his trans-temporal Caretaker, David. He fears that David could take control; while Gabriel disobeyed orders to destroy Overclock, that could change. The two pass through a teleportal into the Overclock’s Time Observation Post, a base and source of powers. Using the devices there, he manages to temporarily cut Gabriel’s connection. However, using the base’s power gives off a signal, revealing its location to others.
As they’re working on this, Sara Sparks arrives at Overclock’s house. She goes up to his room only to be greeted by a construct the time hero left in his place. When Gabriel and Overclock return there’s a brief moment of confusion, until Sara Sparks reveals her identity as Molly. Overclock is embarrassed that Sparks figured out his secret ID but he hadn’t even guessed hers.
Back at home, Mimic’s mom reveals she is flying out to Oklahoma City for a job interview. Mimic panics and gets into a shouting match with her mother, smashing a prized lamp. When Mimic storms out her mother attempts to physically stop her. Mimic briefly loses control, turning to the same brass as the doorknob. She screams at her mother and the sonic force of it destroys their living room, the same way Mimic destroyed her friend Jeanne’s house months before. Mimic hurriedly apologizes to her stunned mom as her brother returns home. He also sees her in hero form as she runs away.
With nowhere else to go, Mimic arrives at Overclock’s house. More identities are revealed and the group tries to wrestle with some of their personal demons. However, that’s interrupted when Overlock hears someone speaking with his parents downstairs. When he enhances his hearing he realizes that it’s Dr. Alset and two companions. Alset, a scientist at AEON, has been in the shadows throughout the series. Suddenly there’s shouts and screams; Overclock smashes his way downstairs as he shifts into hero ID.
There he confronts Alset and his two associates. One looks like Gabriel, but with a purple crystalline form. The other has Overclock’s parents pinned with a metal table. This one looks like an adult version of Mimic, mask and all. Adult Mimic has greater control of her powers—shifting shape and changing substance freely. Upstairs, Gabriel grabs Overclock’s sister Morgan and rushes her to safety.
Mimic comes downstairs to face her adult doppelganger. She pulls Overclock’s parents free from the villain’s clutches and interposes herself. Adult Mimic grabs young Mimic and begins crushing her to death. As she does this she reveals herself. She is not the adult version of Mimic, but the adult version of Jeanne, contaminated by Mimic’s powers. She blames Mimic for her state and says that killing her will keep her transformation from occurring. Mimic makes a desperate gambit and pulls out her phone, dialing the younger Jeanne which makes adult Jeanne recoil.
Meanwhile Overclock and Sara engage with Alset and “Raphael,” another artificial being sent down the time stream to deal with Gabriel. Alset reveals his own temporal powers and reduces the impact of the heroes’ assault. Sara is flung out of the house and she smashes into a car across the street. Undaunted, she picks herself up and charges back in. Gabriel, entering into the fray, realizes that Alset uses chronal powers as a defense. To overcome this, Gabriel shifts and connects himself to the forces of the time-stream. It works, but at a cost. The combination of Overclock, Alset, Gabriel, and Raphael’s energies sets off a time quake, destroying Overclock’s house.
Desperate to contain the situation Overclock calls on his powers to shift the fight to his sanctuary, the temporal observation post. The fight continues, and while the real world is in less danger, the sanctuary begins to suffer. Gabriel strikes at his opposite number, shattering them with a potent attack. As Sara and Overlock hold their own, Mimic confronts the older version of her friend. In the midst of the fight, adult Jeanne-Mimic pushes herself, absorbing and transforming into the time force itself. The change rips her from the time stream and sends her tumbling into the void. Mimic desperately reaches to save her friend but the force pulls her in as well.
Mimic and adult Jeanne are gone.
Staggered by what has happened, the others strike at Alset. Sara still tries to pull her blows but Gabriel calls her out on it. Alset strikes with dark visions of the future. Then he manages to tag Sara Sparks—and somewhere across the city Sara’s uncle collapses. Alset begins laughing—he hadn’t expected his time attacks could have such an effect. Overlock pushes himself and drains Alset’s time energy, desyncing him from the timeline and making him wink out in a paradox.
But all is not settled, Overclock can tell that the temporal observation post has become dangerously unstable. The system advises him that the only way to save Mimic is to collapse the waveform and annihilate the post. But that will destroy the source of Overclock’s powers as well. Despite that he orders Sara and Gabriel to flee the base. They believe he will follow.
He does not.
Sara, Gabriel, and Mimic find themselves in Overclock’s bedroom. The house has been restored and his parents have no memory of the battle. However Will, Overclock’s civilian identity, is nowhere to be found. Over the next few weeks, the remaining team pulls their lives together. We see Mimic speaking to her mom. We see Gabriel, now perhaps “grown up,” briefly mourn his artificial construct foster father, another victim of the temporal battle. We see Sara trying, and failing, to explain to Will’s parents what happened to him. Then we see Sara sitting at her Uncle Ted’s bedside. He’s in a deep coma, leaving Sarah the only active member of her legacy.
Then we see the far-future—a place of terror and despair ruled over by the Empyreonix. Finally it has the Time Observation Post it tried to wrest from Overclock. But the facility has been badly damaged. We see the figure of the Empyreonix working on those repairs. In the background there’s a capsule and within we see another version of Overclock, marked with the sign of the Empyreonix infection.
Several hard moves in the fight landed well, but I'm especially pleased with the revelation of Future Mimic as Jeanne.
Moment of Insight
This is the session where we finally got the characters to reveal their secret identities to one another. That's a key element for the Janus, but we had other PCs hiding that (and their background) from one another. That created some asymmetries and confusion in play. I think I'd watch more carefully for that-- especially since it is the Janus playbook's key feature.