We picked up the action from Session Two the following day. Hooray for weekends and little brother’s naptime.
Matthew Cuthbert drives a beautifully preserved old pickup that purrs down the highway like a sleeping lion. Inside the cab of the pickup, the old man and young girl are quiet: Matthew seems a bit uncomfortable with small talk, now that he’s on his own, and the Nataly has always been comfortable entertaining herself — she pulls out several of her comic books once it’s clear Matthew isn’t going to spend the drive quizzing her, and dives in.
After a half-hour or so, he clears his throat and asks what she’s reading.
“Just… my comic books,” she says, looking at the covers as though she wasn’t sure the covers matched the contents.
“Ahh, I see…” he mulls that over. “Which, ah… which ones are those about?”
She shrugs. “Superman. Captain Spectacular. The Clue. War Witch. The Inspectre.”
“Well, now…” he says, smiling a bit, “I’ve even heard of some of those.” He frowns. “You know… it’s a puzzle. There’re superheroes out there, and there’s superhero comics, but a lot of the comics you mentioned are made-up people, instead of the real ones. I wonder why that is.”
[Note: I had not talked this idea over with Kaylee beforehand — we were just roleplaying through the car ride and I lobbed this at her to see what she’d do.]
Nataly considered for a few seconds, then shrugged. “People read the comics to have fun. If they read something that happened to a real superhero, that’s just… news. Nobody likes news.”
Matthew pondered that, then nodded. “I reckon that’s so.”
[The next day, I asked Kaylee which of the superheroes she mentioned were ‘real’ and which were ‘just comics’ in Nataly’s version of the world. The answer she gave told me that we’re in somewhere in the DC multiverse (I’ll call it Earth-23), albeit with a few unfamiliar names in the headlines. I suspect this is at least partly because she’d rather Nataly meet Robin than read about him.]
The drive was a long one — her new home wasn’t anywhere near Clearwater Campus, and Nataly wondered how her new family had even heard of it, let alone her. She asked about her new home, but Matthew didn’t know much.
“We just moved in a few days ago,” he said. “Marilla – my sister – picked it out, while I was coming to get you. Have you ever lived on a farm?”
Nataly shook her head.
“Me neither,” he confided. “I guess we’ll all figure it out together.”
“What did you do before you moved?” Nataly asked.
“Well, now…” he thought it over. “I suppose we were just… looking around for the right thing.”
Nataly dozed for awhile, and Matthew woke her when they got close to their destination.
“Now, Marilla is… really excited to meet you,” he said, “but she gets stern when she’s nervous, so don’t hold her first impression against her. She warms up over time.”
Nataly nodded. A veteran of uncounted “family interviews”, she had no fear of meeting new people.
The farm house looked as though it hadn’t been lived in for quite awhile. It was nice, just a bit run-down.
“We’ll have lots to work on,” thought Nataly.
A woman about Matthew’s age was waiting in the yard, and Nataly got out and walked over right away to shake her hand.
“So,” said Marilla, “you’re the girl.” She tried on a smile, though it didn’t look especially comfortable. “Good.”
Marilla and Matthew give Nataly a tour of the rambling old farmhouse, and she’s encouraged to unpack, but that really doesn’t take very long. The two suggest she ‘do a bit of exploring around the place’, which she does, though she purposely does not do any experimentation with her bracelet at this time, her reluctance explained as a desire to have at least one day go by at the farm with nothing going wrong. Supper and bedtime are pleasantly uneventful, and Nataly dozes off while (re)reading comic books.
The next morning, after helping with breakfast, Nataly is directed back outside for more ‘exploring’, and her own meandering and boredom eventually get the best of her and lead her to more messing around with her bracelet. This goes quite a bit better than the previous morning’s misadventure with Kendra, and after a few hours she finds she’s able to fly reliably and even get up a kind of ‘force bubble’ semi-reliably — it seems to be more of a flinch reaction when she’s about to smash into something hard.
She’s surprised to realize that flying is hard work: something that leaves her quite as winded as she would be from a long run or a series of sprints — it’ll be in her best interests to continue to ‘exercise’ her new abilities.
She returns to the house at lunchtime, washes up, helps lay food out, eats enough for three grown adults, chattering the whole time, and then actually falls asleep sitting in her chair. Matthew carries her up to her room and she naps for almost three hours, then helps her new family unpack and organize the house. Marilla doesn’t think much of her comic books, but does have a surprisingly broad selection of science fiction novels that Nataly has never heard of and which Marilla seems eager for the girl to read.
Nataly wakes in the middle of the night unsure what’s jolted her from sleep, but doesn’t have to wait long — the strange skittering across both the roof of the house and the floor of her room answers that question quickly enough.
She’s still trying to decide if she should go and explore or call for someone when a large, clicking, metallic spider-creature-thing jumps onto the foot of her bed.
Nataly, never a big fan of spiders in general, much less big robo-spiders the size of dobermans, lets out a shriek, shoves at the thing and… blasts it back off her bed and right through the wall, leaving a gaping hole between her room and Marilla’s.
There’s a moment of stunned silence, then Nataly shouts:
Just as Marilla shouts:
“Matthew! They’re here!”
“Who’s here?” Nataly hollers, and jumps out of bed.
“Get downstairs!” is her only reply, and she does so, stopping only long enough to grab her backpack.
The outside of the house is crawling with spiderbots.
Metal Shell, Spindly Legs
+2 to Creepy Spider Stuff
-2 to everything else.
No stress boxes.
Four of the ‘bots leap down, a silvery web spread out between them like a net. Nataly throws a force field up that’s too big for the web to surround, the spiders themselves hit it and bounce away. Matthew tries to grab one and smash it, but it crawls up/wraps around his arm and grapples with him.
Marilla emerges from the house carrying a bag that would intimidate Mary Poppins and snaps at Nataly to get to the barn, but the girl isn’t going to leave her new friends… family. Whatever. She drops her own force field and creates shields around Marilla and Matthew instead, which give them more than enough of an edge against the spiders to do some damage. Matthew peels his loose and smashes it against a second one, destroying both, while Marilla’s arm seems to… fold apart, revealing a very large gun barrel that spews bright blasts of energy that make short work of several spiders (though they also damage the house and start several small fires).
Matthew, at least, is willing to listen to Marilla, and heads to the barn to get his pickup out so they can get away.
Nataly’s a bit traumatized by her brand new home being on fire, but Marilla’s grim determination helps her stay focused. Marilla’s unexpected offensive has the spiderbots reeling. [Rather than going for damage, she created an Advantage for Nataly to exploit, and the dice were very kind, giving Nataly two free +2 aspect invocation bonuses to use against the enemy.]
Nataly takes advantage of Marilla ‘grouping’ the stunned spiderbots into several large clusters and tries to repeat the trick she did to the bot that jumped on her bed, hurling several ‘balls’ of force energy at the clusters of spiders.
[[Between the two free invokes, the +2 bonus she gets from one of her stunts, Kaylee’s insistence on using a Fate Point to invoke her ‘bracelet’ aspect, a good dice roll on her part and a bad dice roll on my part, she ended up with something like fourteen (!) shifts worth of damage to dole out amongst the ‘bots. Not enough to take them all out, but more than enough to cut their numbers by half and give her and her family plenty of time to drive away.]]
It’s quiet in the cab of the truck. Nataly is looking out the back window at her first real home, burning, dwindling in the distance.
“Well…” Matthew finally says. “I’d guess you did a bit of something or other with your bracelet today?”
Nataly doesn’t know what to say, or how he knew, so she simply nods. He nods in return, glancing at Marilla, who’s mouth gets tight.
“It’s our own fault,” she says, “this foolishness about living out in the country. There’s no other anomalous energy signatures out here — anything the girl does will stand out like a spotlight.” She shakes her head.
“I’m sorry,” Nataly’s voice is small, sure that this is all her fault.
“Oh, girl, don’t be silly. We should have known better.”
“I could… just…” she swallows “…not use the bracelet?”
“Well, now…” Matthew drawls. “That won’t do, I don’t think.” (Which is a great relief to Nataly.)
“No it will not,” Marilla agrees, primly. “The problem is being out here in the open.” She considers. “What a body needs is camouflage — the more strange things going on around us, the less likely anyone’s going to notice the girl.” She looks at Matthew.
“City it is, then,” he replies, and spares a smile for Nataly. “Best you get some sleep. It’s a long drive to Mercury Bay.”