Black Box

Commands & Consequences

It's all fun and games until someone is black-bagged by the government

As Vanessa Scott walks away in protest to the group’s decision, those left behind all feel a snap of psychic energy. Concerned, Phia Walker chases after Vanessa to make sure she’s alright. Catching up with the infuriated teacher, Phia finds out that Vanessa didn’t feel anything and has no intention of returning to the group just yet. Phia returns to the group.

Eugene, meanwhile, checks on Muscular Woman and is unable to find a pulse. Suzan Mancetti says to get her into the car, responding “I know” when Eugene says the woman is dead. Suzie, somewhat more abrupt than usual, tells the group to get the woman into the car which they will bring to the lake where she dumped the Giant’s car, and they can throw all the evidence into the water. Phia worries about leaving Vanessa behind, so Suzie and Pete Lewis go to retrieve her while Eugene and Phia get the woman into the car.

Neither wishing to touch the body, Phia & Eugene use their mental abilities to hoist the woman into the trunk. While doing so they are surprised to find that they are able to work in tandem, rather than individually. Once their task is complete, Phia sits down on the trunk of the car and pulls out her laptop to write. Eugene, reading over her shoulder, realizes that she has been chronicling the group’s activities in the form of a novel. Asking her whether she thinks this is a wise idea, Phia defends herself by saying she’s stopped posting anything online.

Suize & Pete [CONVERSATION I DIDN’T HEAR].

Eventually they all return to the car, and follow Suzie’s directions to the waterfront. Once there – keeping a close eye out for passersby – they transfer the woman into the giant’s car and try to push it into the lake. Eugene shares the discovery he and Phia made about being able to work together. However the group quickly discovers that only two people can work together at a time. Although they try several different ways, they are unable to use their mindbeams to force the car into the water. Instead, they push it in manually and watch as it drifts down into the murk, hopefully never to be seen again.

The group, exhausted by having been awake for more than 24 hours, heads for Niagara Falls. Phia, waking momentarily from her stupor asks if they should stay closer to Toronto in order to better invade the TSI before heading to Buffalo. Unwilling to leave themselves open to discovery, it is decided that they will spend the night in Niagara Falls and make up their minds in the morning.

They arrive in a seedy motel and secure two adjoining rooms. Finally succumbing to sleep, the group dreams. They dream of being far, far underground, unable to move because of the sheer weight of the earth above them. But far above they can feel the tiny footprints of humans walking above, and were they merely to move their shoulders they would send the humans scurrying like ants. And the phone rings.

Waking to find the phone is actually ringing, Vanessa answers it. She hears what sounds like static from a cassette tape, and then voices: “Technically we only need 3 of them . . . we can’t take that risk”. Vanessa tells the other girls what she heard, after which Suzie goes to wake up the guys and tell them.

Discovering it to be 4:00pm, the group adjourns to the Denny’s across the street for something to eat. Phia reminds everyone to bring all of their stuff, as they will not be returning to the motel. As they eat, Phia puts her foot down about going to the TSI. When asked about her plan, she declares that she will simply walk up to reception, ask for her files, and get them.

Eugene, still in very poor shape after being battered by the muscular woman, comments that he might like to seek medical attention. However, after thinking about how much time it would take and the potential of police involvement, he decides that he’s not feeling quite that bad.

Leaving Denny’s, the group piles back into Pete’s car and heads back the way they came. On their way to the TSI, in Richmond Hill, a report comes over the radio. Apparently the police are seeking 6 individuals in relation to an assault on Tommy P[somethingorother] who is now in critical condition. The individuals they are seeking: Professor Eugene Donovan, Janet K[somethingorother], Peter Lewis, Suzan Mancetti, Vanessa Scott, and local author Sophia Walker. In potentially related news, a car was found 6km North of Oshawa, and it appears to have been involved in a high speed chase.

As the radio announcer goes on to other news, Phia simply states that they cannot go to the TSI. Pete turns the car around, and they head the other way.

With this new complication, the group debates about how to get across the border. Phia suggests driving to Gananoque and crossing the St. Lawrence. Pete wonders aloud at the cost of purchasing a boat. Deciding that the group’s meager funds aren’t up to the task, Pete decides to take advantage of his telekinetic powers and get cash from a casino. As they continue to drive, another report comes on the radio: they are broadcasting a retraction, apparently the police are no longer looking for the aforementioned individuals, and apologize for any inconvenience. Still wary, the group decides to continue with their current plan.

Reaching the casino, Eugene & Suzie stay with the car while Pete, Vanessa & Phia head inside to try their luck.

Waiting in the car Eugene sees himself as a sad battered husk of whom he used to be. “I used to be THE Professor Eugene Donavin. Look at me… what have I become” as tears welled up in his eyes. Suzy tried to assure him that things will be ok but Eugene took little comfort in the notion.

Inside the casino, Pete puts all of his cash into a single $1000 chip and heads for the roulette table. With Vanessa on his arm, and Phia keeping an eye on security, he puts the chip down on Red 5 at 5:1 odds. The croupier and other players all watch with interest, and then shock, as the wheel spins and the ball settles on Red 5. Pete, eager to quit while ahead, takes his chips and goes to cash out. While doing so he is approached by the manager who is pleased to offer comped drinks and a night in their finest suite. When Pete jokingly asks for a raincheck, Phia pushes and the manager is surprised to find himself happily agreeing. He takes Pete’s (falsified) contact information, and bids them a fond farewell.

Returning to the car, the group carries on into Gananoque proper. They find a place to store Pete’s car while they are gone – a used car lot where the owner promises not to sell his car. In Canadian tire they are able to purchase an aluminum boat, an outboard motor, and a roof rack for around $3600 total.

It is nearing 9:00pm when they reach the pier and start trying to mount the motor. After asking a few passersby for help and being turned down, Phia pushes and gets someone to help them. After 30 minutes, the motor is set to go. The man, confused and somewhat upset by lack of payment, continues along his way. Suzie, however, catches up with him and gives him $50 for his troubles.

They head out across the St. Lawrence, with Pete driving and Vanessa navigating. Although they have a bit of difficulty in the dark, they eventually putter their way across the river and land safely on American soil. They discover that they are 90 minutes North of Syracuse, 3 hours North of Buffalo, and there is not a car rental place in sight. They plan to hitch a ride to the nearest town where they will be able to spend the night before getting a car. Suzie acts as bait, and is able to coax an 18-wheeler to stop in short order. The driver introduces himself as Henry [SOMETHING], and seems happy to give Suzie a ride. However, when the rest of the group appears he doesn’t seem quite as thrilled. Suzie asks nicely, and Phia pushes, and he agrees to give them all a ride to Buffalo.

Eugene, Pete & Vanessa make space in the sleeper, while Suzie & Phia sit up front. Henry is a friendly sort, and chats away quite happily with Suzie. She explains that they are a group of graduate students completing a social experiment to see how far they can travel relying solely on the kindness of others. Henry admits that he wouldn’t normally pick up any more than 2 travelers, but seems content enough with the group.

They arrive safely in Buffalo, where Henry drops them at a trucker motel. Once more they take two rooms, and fall into a dreamless sleep.

They wake up at 3:00pm. After showering the group congregates at a nearby bar to get something to eat and discuss their next move. While ordering, they realize that none of them have US currency. While Pete & Vanessa start to ask the waitress if she can take Canadian currency, Phia simply pushes to have her agree, and gains a pie out of the deal. The others are not at all impressed, but Phia argues that it was faster, and hardly harmful.

Eating their food, the group figures out what to do next. Their main goal is to go to the muscular woman’s house, to see if they can find any information about either The Thin Man or T-0. The main question is whether to head there immediately, or wait until morning and give Eugene more time to recover. They let Eugene decide, who declares that staying in one place for two long is a bad idea. They decide to change their currency, buy new (common) clothes for Eugene, pepper spray for everyone, and then head to the woman’s house.

They finish shopping and arrive at the woman’s house around 6:30pm. It appears to be a perfectly normal townhouse, with no lights on or signs of life. They check the neighbours to make sure they won’t be seen, and then move to the front door. Eugene, acting as “a common man”, starts to break in while the others “look natural”. A long 40 minutes later, they enter the townhouse.

Turning on the lights, they start to search. Pete heads for the basement which is unremarkable except for what appears to be a shrine in the corner. On the wall is a picture of what appears to be a fetus, on either side of which are the Greek symbols for Alpha & Omega, and above which T-0 is carved into the wall. Beneath the picture is a bedside table with dozens of candles, each sitting in a mound of melted wax. Around the table is a circle of stones, which Pete is careful not to step within. As he turns away in disgust, something on the ceiling catches his gaze. It is a collage, made up of nine computer print-outs, that shows a massive eye looking down on him. Sufficiently creeped out, Pete heads back to the main floor.

Meanwhile, Vanessa, Suzie & Eugene make their own discoveries. Eugene finds sleeping medication in her bathroom, along with vials of the same drug that was used on Vanessa & Pete by the giant. Suzie finds a revolver (already loaded), ammunition, and $200. Vanessa goes through the garbage where they find a receipt for the Phoenix Skydock, dated six months ago. Phia, for her part, stays by the door and finds absolutely nothing.

Sharing their findings, Pete tells the group about the shrine in the basement. Suzie, Vanessa & Phia go down to investigate and take pictures of the shrine while Pete & Eugene remain on the main floor. It turns out a good thing that they did, as they are both able to see when the front door begins to open to reveal a middle aged woman, a younger woman, and an Asian man.

Despite the strangers’ apparent stronger abilities, the fight goes quickly. Eugene is able to turn the younger woman on her allies and swat aside any mental attacks, while Phia orders the older woman to give up and the Asian man to obey. Vanessa delivers a few viscious TK punches, and Suzie tries to read their intentions but is unable to do so in the heat of battle.

Under Phia’s orders the man identifies himself as Benjamin Park, from the government. He also suggests that everyone calm down, and in fact forces the feeling on Eugene. The older woman suggests that everyone drop their processes. Phia, refusing to do so, orders Benjamin to allow Suzie to scan his mind. Despite the older woman’s protests that he is not authorized to do so, Benjamin obeys and Suzie is able to read his surface thoughts. He is from The Department, and has come to bring the group in quietly and efficiently (if possible). If not, the building is surrounded by soldiers who will bring the group in by foce. He is also nervous, as he no longer expects things to go smoothly.

Phia, ignoring Pete’s demands that she drop her command, starts to ask why they were attacked. Outraged by her actions, Pete physically blocks her line of sight. They have a short argument about the morality of her actions, but are interrupted by the older woman who explains that it was a simple misunderstanding due to her “overexcited colleague”. The woman encourages the group to leave the house. Pete insists that they have some questions answered first, to which Phia mutters that she was trying to do that.

Moving to the kitchen, Pete asks about T-0. Ben and the older woman remain impassive, while the younger woman seems surprised. Pete asks next why they were targeted, and who the woman is who chased them. The older women says she was simply a delusional schizophrenic, a fanatic worshiping an entity that does not exist.

Ben, impatient, says that the group is coming one way or another, so they may as well move it. Pete tries to get more questions answered, but is only told “we are not authorized to discuss that”. When Phia sulks about being able to get answers, Pete rounds on her. He declares that it is people like her that are probably responsible for the government treating them like criminals, at which government representatives seem to laugh.

Eventually the group agrees to come along quietly. The older woman seems to speak to the air, “This is Alpha, we’re coming out”. At the name, some members of the group start to wonder if obeying is the best idea.

Coming outside, they are directed to an unmarked van sitting at the end of the driveway. Eugene spots what looks like a man in a black spacesuit on a rooftop across the street, armed with a submachine gun.

Climbing into the van, Phia dithers and is the last one in. She ends up sitting next to Ben, who asks for a drag of her cigarette saying that “there are no cigarette’s where we’re going. Good night.” And gas starts to fill the van. As they start to pass out, Phia glares at Pete who says “very well, I owe you a coke”.

Fighting off the effects of the gas for as long as possible, Vanessa tries desperately to bash the door open with a TK punch. Although the sides of the van warp, she is unsuccessful and falls unconscious.

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JCat Dawnis

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