Black Box

Enter A Giant
Mindbeams in battle!

Time has passed quickly at the cottage. The group has spent most of the last 5 days experimenting on each other and developing their own focuses. Eugene and Phia have begun to focus on “push”, going so far as to venture into nearby Wasaga to practice on “civilians”. Vanessa and Pete have begun to focus on “TK”, practicing their shields by running at each other from opposite ends of a field. Suzie, alone, has begun to focus on “pull”, content to experiment on the others in the group.

On the fifth day, the group gathers around a campfire to drink, eat s’mores, and discuss their next plans. Eugene shares his discovery about the ease of pushing civilians, while Phia stays quiet about her own experiments. The group debates whether it’s time to go back (as those with employment are uncomfortable staying away from their jobs much longer). Conversation turns inevitably to the TSI, and the group wonders whether the TSI knows what they are capable of, and if they have been left alone merely as a ruse to have them practice their abilities. Various options are suggested: asking the TSI normally for their files; visiting Dr. Cornelius to see whether he is awake, or if it is possible to invade the mind of a coma-victim.

With the discussion of Dr. Cornelius, Phia is reminded of Dr. Kennedy and asks Eugene & Pete whether they had any luck in finding out information about him. They admit they not only found his eHarmony dating profile, but also fashioned one of their own to attempt to lure him out. Both parts amused and perversely-fascinated, the group brings out Phia’s laptop to see what Dr. Kennedy’s response was. They discover that, even online, Dr. Kennedy is a bit of a cold fish. Undeterred, Phia puts together a reply with the help of the group to try to find out how long he’s been in Toronto, whether he’s had any success with his dating adventures, and what sort of woman he is looking for. She leaves the option of a meeting open for discussion.

The next day, the group prepares to head back to Toronto. As they are packing the cottage phone rings, which Pete picks up. There is silence, and then the person on the other end hangs up. Checking call display, the group Googles the number and discovers it is a payphone. They call back, but no one picks up.

Before they can discuss the strange phone call much further, there is a knock on the door. Shocked, the group scatters and unholsters their mental abilities, while Pete goes to answer the door. He opens it to reveal a giant of a man – at least seven feet tall and around 300lbs – who immediately reaches out to grab Pete.

Time seems to slow down. Phia, terrified, pushes that emotion onto the giant with minimal resistance. Eugene, not to be outdone, pushes shame. Vanessa lashes out with a vicious TK punch and Suzie reads his mind, receiving nothing but a long drone of “feeeeeetch”.

The fight continues, with the giant becoming ever more bewildered by the flurry of invisible punches and onslaught of emotions into his poor, callused mind. During the fight Phia tries to read his most recent memory and receives nothing but static. Before fleeing, the giant manages to land one vicious hit on Vanessa, but is knocked unconscious before he is able to escape.

Stunned by this turn of events, the group moves outside and stares at this mountain of a man. As there is no way they would be able to physically move him, Pete levitates the giant back into the cottage and drops him on the couch.

Fun With Mindbeams
Anything you can do, I can do better...

After piling into Professor Donovan’s “sweet ride”, the group arrives safely at Pete’s family’s cottage on the beautiful coast of Georgian Bay. The cottage has 4 bedrooms, one of which is quickly claimed by Phia. The others are sorted out, leaving Eugene with the couch.

As people settle in, the power experiments continue. Eugene and Phia set up on the couch, each recording the group’s latest discoveries in their own way. Suzie stands outside, in the rain, and tries to see if she can avoid getting wet. Vanessa, joining her, tries to light a cigarette without using a match. Pete, wanting nothing more than a beer, tries to move a bottle towards him without getting up.

Eventually everyone is gathered outside, huddled on the covered porch to avoid the rain, and watches as Vanessa writes her name through cigarette smoke. Impressed though everyone is, Phia points out that such a trick would be unlikely to help them break into the TSI and fetch their files. Target practice with empty beer bottles follows, until Phia inquires about the possibility of manipulating other people’s minds. Her faint suggestion to practice on “civilians” is ignored, and it is decided instead that the group should practice on each other.

Phia manages to broadcast the number 3 to Suzie (after finding she can’t broadcast to everyone). Suzie is able to convey a sense of “paper” to Pete, but is unable to force him to any action. In response Pete tries to put Suzie to sleep, with no success.

Eugene, observing as usual, realizes that everyone has been “pushing” and decides to try “pulling”. Several intense minutes pass in which Eugene invades Suzie’s mind, Suzie is unable to block, and Phia shuts down Eugene’s powers.

A breakthrough has been reached, and the group finally understands what powers they can and cannot do. And also what paths they might be able to take in the future…

Notes on the Board
Experimenting, learning important lessons, time to go

After the explosion of glass, the group decides to head for Eugene’s lab to try to figure out what the hell is going on. Suzi and Phia, still both the worse for drink, stumble along behind.

Reaching the lab, the group discusses what they should do next. Phia suggests trying to get their files from the TSI, a suggestion which is shot down as unfeasible. Eugene suggests a more scientific approach should be taken, to try to determine what powers each person has, and to try to control them.

Vanessa, thinking about accidentally breaking her sifu’s ribs, tries to recreate the effect by punching a concrete wall which results in a severely bruised hand. Eugene, ever helpful, makes note of the result on his white board. Suzie gets a cold drink for Vanessa’s hand. Phia is up next, and manages to open a door without touching it by focusing on something other than what she is doing. At the same time Vanessa manages to freeze a can of pop solid and hurts her hand further.

As the group goes back to discussion, Eugene takes a turn. Trying to recreate the mental state he was in when all the crystal ware exploded in his kitchen, he concentrates and exhales carefully. The rest of the group immediately starts to feel incredibly aroused. With mixed confusion and embarrassment, people suggest that perhaps it is time to go home. Eugene, sensing something has happened, invites everyone back to his apartment to sleep, rather than trek all the way back to their own homes. Most agree eagerly, with the exception of Phia who glares at the other women as she leaves.

Upon reaching Eugene’s apartment, the strange feeling suddenly wears off. Eugene, unaware of any change, goes into the kitchen to fix his guests a drink while the others compare notes on what just happened. They agree that it must have been caused by some outside force, and wonder if Eugene was similarly affected. Overhearing the conversation, Eugene concentrates and tries again with immediate success. However, this time the others are aware of what’s happening and aren’t as easily distracted. Suzie enters the kitchen to confront Eugene, and two more of his glasses shatter. Pushing his luck yet further (in the name of science!) Eugene tries once more to force Suzie’s emotions, but instead gets a sudden chill and a feeling of imminent danger. Vanessa and Pete, both of whom went in search of privacy, feel the wave of anger and return to the kitchen. Fortunately for Eugene, he is saved by the ringing of the telephone before Vanessa can get too descriptive with her threats.

It’s Terry, with a cryptic message to “stick together”. Eugene relays the message and apologizes. Vanessa, strangely unmoved by Eugene’s protestation of the scientific validity of his methods, throws a liquor bottle against the wall and leaves for the hospital. In light of Terry’s warning, the group decides to accompany her. On the way, Suzie calls Phia and tells her to meet them at Toronto General.

By 4:00am, the group has convened at a nearby diner for breakfast and discussion. Amidst visits from the waitress with free refills of coffee (despite the more usual cost of 25 cents), the group agrees to meet a day later to continue testing their newfound abilities. Leaving one at a time, Pete, Vanessa and Suzie all leave generous tips, while Phia (her meal covered by the other’s contributions) leaves no money at all. Eugene, the last to leave, tells the waitress he paid for the meal and receives a free pie in gratitude.

The group goes about their day, each making arrangements to leave for a while if necessary. Pete quits his job, Vanessa arranges for a substitute, Suzie has her receptionist cancel her appointments, and Phia reluctantly arranges for her employees to cover the store.

Eugene, meanwhile, meets with Dr. Baxter in the neurology department of UofT. Citing vague symptoms he expresses concern that he may be developing some sort of neurological disorder and requests that Dr. Baxter performs an EEG. The good doctor agrees, after mentioning in passing that he just sent several scans off to the TSI, and they set an appointment for 11:00 that evening. During the scan, Eugene waits a brief period to set a baseline of activity before trying to activate his powers once more. Going over the scan with Dr. Baxter, there does in fact appear to be an anomalous spike in brain waves, although the doctor has no diagnosis other than encouraging Eugene to get more sleep. Taking a copy of the scan, Eugene thanks the doctor and leaves.

The following day, everyone meets up at studio space Pete rented out (more often used by his band for rehearsal). Eugene shares his discovery, and expresses his hypothesis of what might be happening. Quantum physics theorizes that the human brain actually possesses the capacity to interact with or alter the energy that exists between the nucleolus and electrons of atoms. Energy that is said to be grater then that contained within all the stars of all the sky. It is a possibility that the group has evolved somehow to gain a grater form of interaction with this energy. Or so The Professor thinks. The idea of going to the TSI to obtain their previous brainscans and other files is raised again. Agreeing that the TSI is unlikely to simply hand over their files, the group decides to wait until they have better control of their powers at which time they will be able to either infiltrate the TSI or force someone to help them.

Discussion finished for the time being, the group splits up and begins practicing their abilities again. Eugene begins to hear Vanessa and Pete’s thoughts/intentions/emotions (Vanessa’s centered on wanting to punch Eugene in the face, and Pete’s on concern of going through a wall if Vanessa hits him by accident). Similarly, Phia and Suzie begin to hear thoughts from random passers-by on the street outside. Phia, worried that the group might be drawing people to them, orders everyone to stop what they are doing and watches as the people outside wander off.

More discussion ensues, which begins to turn into an argument as a sudden feeling of irritation spreads through the group. Phia orders the rest to shut up and suggests a plan (she will speak with Sgt. Fields to find out about Dr. Corenlius, the others can contact the TSI). However it appears she put too much effort into her command, as Pete is temporarily unable to open his mouth. Apologizing, Phia goes off to call St. Fields.

After a tense discussion (and failed attempt to forcibly convince the sergeant over the phone), Phia is eventually able to have her friend agree to contact her if Dr. Cornelius’ condition changes. Passing this information on to the group, Phia then leaves to return to her store, horrible visions of what her employees might have done floating in her head. For the rest of the day, Phia pushes customers towards her book, and sells several more copies than she would have otherwise (read: sold any copies at all).

Pete and Eugene adjourn to a nearby internet cafe to try to find out any information they can about Dr. Kennedy. Although there is a distinct lack of apparent secret government organization affiliation, they do come across Dr. Kennedy’s online dating profile. With minimal moral qualms, they develop a new profile – one Kimberly Olden (?) – to entice Dr. Kennedy into conversation.

Vanessa and Suzie stay behind at the studio, to try to relax a bit. Vanessa easily falls into meditation. Suzie, normally unable to still her mind enough to meditate, finds herself much more calm than normal. As the two relax, the steady rushing noise they have been hearing for so long (although it has only been intermittent since the shooting incident) resolves into voices. It becomes apparent that they are able to hear the thoughts/intentions of everyone around them. Although they are in fact able to concentrate on single voices, it requires immense concentration, akin to grasping a handful of water.

Meanwhile, Pete goes home and contacts his parents to find out if their cottage is free. After enduring a lecture from his mother on the benefits of steady employment, Pete arranges to stay at the cottage for the next little while.

The group begins to trickle back to the studio. Suzie shares her discovery about the source of the buzzing noise. Pete restates his belief that, until they are better able to control their abilities, they are all a danger to themselves and others. As a result, he will be going to his parents’ cottage and invites the rest to go as well. As they are all able to get at least a week off, they agree and plan to leave the next day (Friday).

While packing, they all receive a call from the TSI secretary inquiring about files Dr. Cornelius may have given them. Apparently some have gone missing, and the TSI is quite concerned. Eugene receives a second call, from someone who says nothing before hanging up. Through the benefits of call-ID, he recognizes the number as the paranormal expert/skeptic from the States he spoke with previously. Calling the number back he hears an automated message: “this number is unassigned”.

Camp Dreamland
Losing an ally, gaining some powers, going slightly nuts...

Approximately three months ago, five Toronto residents began suffering from similar symptoms including insomnia and an insistent rushing sound in their ears. Speaking to various doctors, each were directed to the Toronto Sleep Institute (TSI), and thence to Camp Dreamland under the care of Dr. Cornelius.

Two months pass, during which the group is required to spend all their time at Camp Dreamland and undergo numerous treatments to help alleviate their symptoms – the most concerning of which appears to be their inability to achieve REM sleep. As time passes, the group becomes much closer: Pete Lewis, a musician and layabout; Vanessa Scott, a kindergarten teacher and budding kung fu master; Phia Walker, owner of “Papyrus Dreams” and aspiring novelist; Suzan Mancetti, a recently graduated sexual psychologist; Professor Eugene Donovan, a brilliant physics professor at UofT; and Terry, a young man still trying to decide what to make of his future.

Along with firearm practice, obstacle courses, and mental examinations, one of the primary treatments is sleep inducement via a cocktail of sedatives and targeted electrical current to the subjects’ brains. Disturbing though the treatment is, it appears to be successful such that the group begins to sleep and dream more frequently. With the success of the treatment, and tired of putting their lives on hold, the group petitions to be allowed to leave the confines of Camp Dreamland. Dr. Cornelius agrees, with the condition that the group meet every Wednesday for a therapy session, and continue to spend their weekends at Camp Dreamland for treatment.

After one such weekend, about a month after returning home, interesting events begin to occur. Copies of Phia’s book begin to fly off the shelves of her store, in one case literally and hits a customer in the chest; the Professor’s lovely assistant finally begins to warm to his advances; and Terry has difficulty at work when he apparently throws a video cassette at a customer. More strangely, when the group attends a performance of “Frank and the Castles” (Pete’s band), they observe as the entire bar appears to become hypnotized by the music.

Discussing these events the following morning, the group agrees to tell Dr. Cornelius about them. However this fails to occur, as no one wants to be the first to mention such oddities. The group is also introduced to Dr. Kennedy, a new researcher brought on to the team by the TSI. Phia takes an immediate dislike to the new doctor, and does her best to avoid him for the rest of the weekend. Vanessa and Suzie, however, take turns trying to warm the doctor up, both failing miserably. Eugene fares similarly in his attempts to engage Dr. Kennedy in conversation.

The next week brings more strange occurrences: Vanessa accidentally breaks her sifu’s ribs while sparring, Pete’s normally staid drummer opens up to him about an extremely embarrassing problem, the Professor’s crystal ware explodes, and one of Suzie’s therapy couples has a miraculous breakthrough. More concerning, however, is Terry’s absence at the weekly meeting on Wednesday. Phia calls Terry on his cell, and later at his parents house, to discover that both numbers are unassigned. Concerned, Phia gets in touch with her contact at the police department, Sgt Michael Fields, and asks him to check into whether something has happened to Terry and his family.

The weekend rolls around, and the group returns to Camp Dreamland to find that Terry is still missing, and Dr. Cornelius is feeling ill. Dr. Kennedy appears, and Pete and Vanessa suddenly feel very uncomfortable in his presence. Dr. Kennedy tries to have the group begin their daily tests, but is interrupted with questions about Terry. The doctor seems extremely confused, as to his recollection there has never been a sixth patient. The group insists that they need to speak with Dr. Cornelius.

Ushered into the good doctor’s office, the group is knocked off balance when the constant rushing sound stops for the first time in almost four months. Dr. Cornelius seems far more reserved than normal, distracted and upset. Asking him about Terry, he mutters something about “they didn’t do a very good job”, but is confident that “they don’t know where the rest of the files are”. While trying to figure out what the hell the doctor is talking about, the group is stunned when he declares he can’t take this anymore, and brings a gun to his temple. Pete reacts immediately, and manages to get his hands on the gun just in time to burn them when the doctor fires.

Screaming and freaking out ensues. Paramedics and police arrive, and the group is taken to a small meeting room to wait. They all realize that the sound has returned, although none are sure when it came back. Detective M(somethingorother) arrives to interrogate the group. They explain what happened, that they tried to stop the doctor but there was nothing they could do. The detective then proceeds to ask them about Terry, confirms that they all remember a sixth patient, and then informs them that there is no record of such a person.

Because Dr. Cornelius survived, although in very poor condition, the detective admits that there is currently no criminal investigation. Still, he has them brought to the police station for fingerprinting.

With nowhere to go, and no plans for their first free Saturday night in several months, Eugene invites the group out for drinks. They go to a nearby lounge, and discuss matters. Various theories are suggested and dismissed: mass hallucination? dangerous chemicals introduced to their brains? Terry black-bagged by government agents? They agree to meet again on Wednesday, and to stay in touch to make sure no one else disappears.

On Monday Phia talks to Sgt Fields, and is informed that not only are the group all suspects but their fingerprints are all over the gun and they’re coming off as more than slightly crazy. Eugene, for his part, suffers the company of Dr. Butterman a second time, to try to determine what could have happened to his crystal ware. Dr. Butterman has a number of suggestions, none of which are particularly helpful. Eugene manages to track down the number for a slightly more reputable paranormal-psychologist/skeptic, and has another conversation lacking anything in the way of answers.

Sunday and Monday night pass with excellent sleeps for the group. On Tuesday they all receive a call from the TSI informing them that the research will continue as soon as they can find another doctor to carry on. The general response is “thanks, but no thanks”.

On Tuesday they are called back to the police station and informed that Dr. Cornelius has stabilized. He is in a coma, but does not appear to be in imminent danger of death. It is most likely that Pete saved his life, managing to move the gun just enough. With the doctor still alive, there is no need for a criminal investigation, and the group is free to carry on with their lives.

Suzie invites the group out for a drink, and at Phia’s insistence they go to a different bar than previously. Entering the bar, they are welcomed with a broad smile from the bartender and given free shots/drinks for the rest of the night. Phia and Suzie proceed to get more than slightly drunk, and are invited to dance by a random woman. They follow, and eventually everyone in the bar, save the rest of the group, are “sexy dancing”. Vanessa tries to bring Phia and Suzie back to the table, which prompts death glares from everyone else in the bar. Instead, Vanessa dances Phia and Suzie to the door where, closely followed by Pete and Eugene, they break for the exit.

Out in the street, Phia’s drunken gesturing seems to knock over a streetlight, and Vanessa’s shouting blows out every window on the block. Phia and Suzie throw up.


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