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IC: S1:E3b "Late Night Shivers"


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"Late Night Shivers"

Three men.  Three heroes.  Free of their studies and currently without their female companions we discover the males of Claremont left to their own devices.  Free of the shackles of math and history we find our young heroes delving deep into teenage vision quests of self discovery and their never ending search for their identity.  Free to be the died in the wool, diamond in the rough, hardcore mature intellectuals they are... free to be... men.

Sebastian dribbled from the left, then to the right, dipping the basket between his legs as he faked out Richard and spun around him, leaping for a jump shot.  The ball bounced off the rim where Richard got the rebound and dipped into the basket for an easy two points.  "Nice," he breathlessly said offering him five as Richard walked to carry the ball out.  "So, my money is on, like, Tibetan or something."

"No... I'd say Japanese."  Richard dribbled past, faking out his opponent in a few strides before leaping for a lay up, that was denied by Sebastian's large hand.

"See, I considered that, but she doesn't look Japanese." The massive teen gripped the ball in both his hands.  Richard tried to slap the ball out of his hands but it didn't move at all, a prisoner of Sebastian's super powerful grip.  "Really, dude?"  Richard just smiled and shrugged, on the off chance that one day that might work.

"Have either of you two considered Malaysian?"  Curtis asked.  Sebastian took a shot and missed again, the ball bounced off court where Curtis scooped it up.

"Hotasian, maybe." Sebastian quipped.  "C'mon, Curt, toss it in.  We are engaged in a battle of finesse here..."

"He doesn't know where Malaysia is." Offered Richard, half laughing as he thumbed towards his larger friend.

"Of that," Curtis looked to the basket and tossed the ball.  Without any resistance the ball dropped through the hoop, nothing but net.  "I've certainly no doubt.  And it's a game of math, Sebastian.  Finesse only gets you so far, as your zero to twelve game will attest."

"Basket ball's not my sport, okay?"  He defended himself.  "And I happen to know where a ton of malls in Asia are.  Japan is like, filled with em.  So, BOOM."

"It's amazing how much of a walking stereotype you are," Curtis offered to the large super teen.  "How did I end up agreeing to this?"

"C'mon, Curtis, you can't barricade yourself in your room all the time."  Richard walked over to him, picking up his Powerade and throwing one to Sebastian.  "We figured, since the ladies were doing their thing, we'd, y'know, do ours.  Hang out, shoot some hoops-"

"...guess where Spellstone is from, Cosima's bra size, and whether or not Tatyana wears underwear..." Curtis interjected.

Richard and Sebastian just paused and looked to each other and shrugged.  "Well, yeah."

"Such stimulating banter, allow me to go back to my room so that I might find a container for my joy..."

"Dude," Sebastian mantled Curtis with a bicep as large as Curtis's head.  "We go to school with some of the hottest ladies on the planet... you mean to tell me you haven't noticed a single one of them?"

Spoiler

Bros, you are here.

 

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Curtis let out a miffed noise from the headlock he was trapped in. "Let go."

"Answer the question." Sebastian insisted. Curtis sighed. "I promise to answer if you let me go." The easygoing farm boy did so and Curtis checked around his throat for any loss of circulation before picking up the basketball.

"I notice," Curtis' eyes judging the angle for a rebound off the far corner of the board, before bending his knees and shooting, "I just don't care." The basketball struck and followed a calculated arc that placed it right through the hoop: swish.

"I'm not looking for companionship. Even if I were, the phrase 'it's what's inside that counts' holds a great deal more weight to me. Society puts out an endless wave of cosmetics, diets, surgeries, clothing, and so on, all to make beauty an artificial commodity. None of which guarantees you can stand the recipient for five minutes. Autumn, at least, I intellectually respect. Cosima is a shallow pool. Dive in, if you want, but don't come crying to me when you crack your heads on the floor."

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Rick chuckled  "You know it's often said then when you stop looking, you find what you never knew you were missing Curtis."   he recovered the ball quickly, and made his own drive on the goal, putting it in with an easy layup.  "I get it in a way Curtis, that you just don't really seem to care.  That doesn't mean they don't.  You're so intelligent, but you can't ignore that aspect of life too.   See, i find them all interesting, though as pretty as Cosima is, she's the lowest on my list.   Even if her whole attitude is just an act, I can't see myself with her.  I mean when it's just all of us together, there's no need for all that, in my opinion."   

He shrugged it off and smiled.  "Besides, if it's not all an act, I could never afford to match any gift she could simply give herself on any given day."  He looked to Sebastian and chuckled  "Though I bet you could make her some pretty amazing diamonds by compressing coal, if you wanted to go that route."   He did have interest in Qi, but it was more that he wanted to know more about her in general.

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Sebastion put his hands together like he was crushing something.  "Takes both heat and preassure to make diamonds.  I'm strong, but not that strong.  I tried ot once when the ranch was behind on a few payments... black coal dust everywhere." He spread his hands in a wide arc.  "Good times."

"And I'm not interested in any of them, either, Curtis.  We're just bros, trash talking over some hoops... it wouldn't kill you to be a little nicer, dude, c'mon.  We don't go around insulting you when you're not around.  Cosima has a lot of nice things to say about you, go easy, yeah?"  Thier game had officially desolved, Rick the winner this round.  He leapt up and took another shot, the angle was terrible and it hit the rim, bouncing off to the side.  Rick scooped up the rebound and did a few tricks with his footwork.

"I'm hungry, let's get burgers." Sebastian added.

Rick stopped dribbling and tossed him the ball.  "Do you ever stop eating?"

He smiled and took a shot... and missed again.  "Don't fat shame me, Rick.  I'm emotionally vulnerable right now... I'll have to tell Summer Astovik you've been writing love songs about her."

"But I haven't." Rick shrugged like 'what would tha accomplish'?

"She doesn't know that." Sebastion took another shot and missed.  We smiled wickedly.

"You're playing with fire, Montana..." Rick laughed.

"So?  Burgers?"

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On the comment about Cosima, Curtis gave Sebastian a look that said 'are you taking the piss?' Then his face softened and he relented. "Fine. Burgers. Where did you have in mind? If possible, a place where we won't find ourselves in the middle of a gunfight again? Or worse, Summer Astovik swooping down on her new love-slave."

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  • 4 weeks later...

Curtis was reluctant to hang out with the two jocks, but in all honesty he hadn't anything better to do with his evening.  He was compiling some code for a few projects, but with the computing power of the average Dell laptop and his rather meager budget, it would still be several hours before he could review the data.  When in Rome, popped in his mind, but then again he was in Central California.  They weren't the worst to hang out with, they even tolerated his rather abrasive attitude (which he was not oblivious to having). Having never had firends before, the young genius wasn't quite sure what to make of them and had resorting to simply considering their interactions as one large social experiment.

They all met in front of the dorm several minutes later, Curtis didn't really need to shower and get ready, so he took some time to shoot twenty seven consecutive three pointers from various points around the court using nothing more than math and minimal arm strength.  Frankly he didn't see what the big deal was.

"Up to no good, we hope," they heard as they were huddled up still deciding on a place to go.  The Astovik twins were approaching them with that typical, predatory glare in their eyes that announced they were looking for someone or something to crucify.  Autumn seemed to be taking the lead, with her sister only a stride behind looking more irate than usual.  They were impeccably dressed to the nines, like they were heading to a boardroom meeting with the Kardashians to see who could be shallow and lie about their plastic surgery with better proficiency.  Summer's red leather skirt seemed like her typical cry for everyone to pay attention to her, but her sister, as always, seemed a bit more sensible in that her blue skirt was simple, stylish cotton.  Summer's black hair was flowing freely past her shoulders while Autumn's was bound back tightly in a ponytail with not a single strand out of place.

"I highly doubt I'm interrupting anything important," Autumn said with tones as chill as a winter wind.  There was never much emotion in her voice, which made it impossible to tell if she was serious or trying at humor.  "Have either of you three seen Malory, by chance?  My sister and I have business with him."

"Business?  I'm going burn the little bastard to cinders is what I'm going to do."  Summer's fists exploded into flame and the fire gently licked it's way up her fore arms.  An emotional outburst for the fiery Astovik was certainly nothing new for anyone to see.

Autumn raised an eyebrow at the outburst but didn't really show any other sign of caring one way or the other.  "Yes, well, should you see him, tell him we're looking for him.  By the way, Curtis, right?  I read your assignment on nano technology, very impressive."

"What about mine?  What did you think of mine?" Sebastion's large frame threatened to shadow the petite governor's daughter.

"'They're very small, I think.,'" she quoted directly from his assignment.  "Riveting stuff."

"Oh good... I've been sweating that assignment all week." He looked relieved, her monotone sarcasm never even registering.

Rick, who'd been quietly observing the exchange with a smirk of amusement at Sebastian's ever present cluelessness.  "We were, uh, just about to head off campus and get something to eat.  If Dan knows you're looking for him, with his ability to look like anybody, chances are he's not going to make the search easy.  You're welcome to join us and hang out for a bit.  Perhaps let things... cool off?"

The Astoviks looked at each other, then looked to the three guys then back to each other and began laughing.  Summer's laugh was pure condecending evil while Autumn's was nothing more than a silent, emotionless chuckle.  Summer looked at Rick and managed to stop laughing long enough to share, "Yeah, no.  You three combined couldn't afford a single plate at the places we go for dinner.  So cute that you offered though, you're adorable," the twins began walking off.  "Later losers, enjoy our grease pit."

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Sebastian looked to the passing twins, then to Rick, then back to the twins.  "Wow.  I really don't like those two."

He clapped his hands.  "So, Big Belly Burger?  Big Kahuna Burger?  Any other place with 'Big' in the  name?  The night is ours, guys.  No way can we let the ladies have more fun than us, we'll never hear the end of it."

Apparently eating was the most fun the country boy from Montana could muster up in a city as large as Emerald City.

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Rick nodded "Not very many do, man.   I can only hope they find people one day who treat them the same as they treat everyone else."   He shrugged as if to let their laughter and words do nothing. "Alright man we can go hit up somewhere for food, but there has to be something more fun to do in this city, that won't get us in the office again being threatened to be booted from the academy."   He looked to Curtis.   "We can figure something out as we eat i guess."

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"Yeah... my mom was not pleased to hear about that, I've never been in trouble at school before.  She thought all you guys might be a bad influence on me."  Sebastian scratched the back of his head.  "They sorta left out the part where we fended off a kidnapping.  Bet Larrup and the others didn't get read the riot act..."

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Curtis restrained a wince at hearing of Sebastian's... assignment submission. The worst part was that these two were still more preferable companions than the Astoviks. Even if the brawnier teen really did come across as a Montanan hick stereotype at times. "I think the obvious option are the movies, for one. I don't really care where we eat."

Sebastian's mention of Shock's hirelings had him thinking. "That depends on if their authority figures approved of it - or are accepting of failure. Dr. Shock is not likely to be pleased that we reversed his success."

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Sebastian set his phone in his pocket.  "Uber is ten away.  According to Cosima's FaceSpace her and the girls are 'clubbing'.  Which I think is totally unfair... we'd have to wait in line for hours and all they gotta do is show some skin and get in right away.  It's just so hard being a guy in Current Year, bro.  We barely get any perks for being objectified..."

"Speaking of skin, did you flash Keiko last week?"  Rick asked.

"Dude, no!  That's been totally blown out of proportion," he raised his hands to fend off any accusations and set the record straight.  "I just got out of the shower, she was knocking on my door, and I answered.  I had a towel on, I swear.  She squeaked, snapped a quick pic and ran off, disappearing down the hallway.  Literally."

"You should have known better, 'Bastian," Rick shook his head.  "She's already notorious for pranks."

"S'okay, I got her back.  I straightened every single one of her paper clips.  And I mean straight.  Super strength is awesome.

"You super villain, you..." Curtis said while shaking his head.

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Rick chuckled and inwardly sighed.   It was probably best that someone like Bastion did consider something like that getting her back, as it could be so much worse, and escalate quickly.  "Alright so let's get some food, then go catch a movie.   Might be abit boring compared to the girls' night, but who knows what will happen in this city..."

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  • 1 month later...

Not  a lot of options presented themselves, but they were just happy to away from the school grounds for awhile.  Much like the ladies their consistent indecisiveness led them to Yellow Brick Row, where they'd settled on... you guessed it, Big Kahuna Burger.  What followed was a movie that none of them particularly liked, but hey, it was better than being back at the campus.

Yellow Brick Row was jumping though as they left the theater.  As always, the weekend was the time that Yellow Brick Row became everyone's hang out spot as the outside mall and shopping center pretty much had everything everyone needed for a great time.  Throngs of teenagers walked about or loitered about talking, listening to music and taking selfies with friends.  Parents and other citizens all walked about, some with bags in hand while others mostly just came for the window shopping or to hit up the food court.

"You would think with all the super tech we have, someone could do better special effects,"  Curtis removed his glasses and polished the lenses.  "Still not bad, I suppose.  Not worth eight-fifty, that's for certain."

"Well, hey, there's a project for you," Richard said to him.  "Develop better special effects for movies."

"Interesting thought, to be sure, but then what would I do with the other twenty three hours and fifty-five minutes of my day tomorrow."  He placed his glasses back on his face and looked around the Promenade.  "I'll admit, this evening has not been a total bore, what's next on the agenda?"

"Well, glad we could keep you entertained, oh, Great and Powerful Shane."  Sebastian approached his two friends from behind, he draped his arms over their shoulders and 'hung' in between them.  "This place is crawling with hotties, I say we go introduce ourselves."

As was common after exiting a theater both Curtis and Richard pulled out their phones and turned their volumes back up to max.  They each noticed they had several new messages waiting for them... from Sebastian... who was currently smiling and nodding at a pretty young lady walking past him.

--[Uh, I'm at the meeting place.  You guys running late?]--
--[Ooookay, giving you guys five more minutes.]--
--[Not cool.  If you didn't want me along all you had to do was say so.]--
--[Not that I'm mad or anything (which I totally am), but I wanted to remind you guys that on a completely unrelated note that has nothing to do with that fact that you're both jerks, I am super strong and you have fragile stuff.  Just saying.  Completely unrelated point to anything that might have happened recently.  Like tonight.]--

"Oh!"  Sebastian clapped his hands together in excitement.  "I got it.  Let's hit up one of the stores and get Autumn something nice, uh, Astovik, not Asian one.  Dude, she's totally into you Curtis, get her a little something to break the ice.  Then we get more food, because, I eat a lot, and we make this a night to remember."

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Curtis looked at the messages - from Sebastian whom was supposedly in the theater with them during all that time. In moments, the various pieces of information were recalled and put together to reach the obvious conclusion. Without turning his head or showing any sign of reaction, he texted a message back.

--[If you must break something, break Dale Malory's things.]--

"I suppose I could bring her you, Dale." The teen genius told the shapeshifter in Montanan guise. "Uh?" Rick offered in confusion. 

"Dale has been impersonating Sebastian at and since the basketball court, all to avoid the Astoviks. Dare I ask what you even did?"

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"Wha-" Sebastian blushed a bit.  "Dude, no.  No way, man.  It's me... Sebastian.  Been hanging out all day, bruh."

"Since when does Sebastian say 'bruh'?"  Richard asked.

Curtis's fingers slid swiftly across the display of his phone, texting a question the same he asked it.  "What's the average life expectancy of domestic horse, Sebastian?"

"Huh?"  'Sebastian' looked perplexed.  "I dunno, like... don't they do dog years or something?  Ten or so years, I guess.  Why you wanna get Autumn a pony or something?"

Curtis's phone beeped a few moments later.  --[On average?  25 years.  Oldest living horse was 'Old Billie', people say he lived to almost 62 years old.  Oldest we had on the ranch was 32.  She was beauty, sad to see her go.  Now, don't go thinking horse trivia is gonna forgive you, I'm still mad!]--

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Rick saw the texts and was perplexed, but hearing Curtis, he caught up quickly.  "Dammit Dale."  He didn't know the answer to the question, but he knew Bastion wouldn't have even had to guess.  "You don't sound that sure.  Having lived on a farm, I'd expect you to know that like Curtis knows programming, if you were actually Sebastian.  So what did you do to piss the astoviks off, so I'll echo the question.   What did you do to the astoviks that pissed them off so much that you were willing to irritate the three of us to escape from it?"

He was already thinking of a way to make this up to the real Sebastian, but that was going to be something for later it seemed.

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'Sebastian' sighed.  "Okay!  Okay!  Fine."

He looked to his left, then right, seeing who was around and who was actually paying attention.  When he thought it safe, his form shifted back into ol' Dale, Clairemont's resident trouble maker.

"I uh... sort of took Summer's Astronomony test for her, today."  He stammered out, looking everywhere except at the two of them.

"Okay, and?"  Richard pressed.

"Uh, I don't take astronomy, so I don't think she did very well.  Besides, she was on the roof getting high anyways." He admitted.  "Her and Autumn called me a basement dwelling window licker, and said I was psycho!"  Considering it was common knowledge around the campus that Dale's parent's indeed locked him in a basement after his powers manifested, it was easy to see why he might attempt to lash out and take some form of revenge against the sisters for bullying him.  After all, mentally, the kid really wasn't stitched together with the good thread.  "Sebastian went to do his homework and what not, so I told him you guys stuff to do and would meet up with him later... then I met you at the courts and we played some b-ball."

"I'm not crazy, I know what I did was a dick move, but..." Dale's eye twitched and his head jerked slightly.  "But..."  He waved at soemthing, a swing like he was swatting at an annoying bug, but there was nothing there.  "G-get away...!  Get away from me!  I'm not going back down there!"  Dale freaked out, panic and fear in his eyes as he glared up at Richard and Curtis like they were his... parents.  He turned and tried to run but tripped over his own feet in his blind panic.

A blood curdling scream errupted from across the way.  Nothing seemed out of place but people were leaping on tables or into planters or just running frantically to get away from... nothing?  They swung or waved at invisible creatures and citizens began fighting amongst themselves, mistaking others for being something they weren't.  Richard looked on... positively perplexed until he turned and saw Curtis fall to his knees... looking into his hands.

"I-I don't know..." he mumbled softly.  "No... I... I..." He looked up to Richard with a fearful bellow proclaimed his greatest worry... "I don't know anything!"

Spoiler

Richard you may act freely.  A riot has broken out in Yellow Brick Row and you are in a position to help people from killing themselves.  Unfortunately Curtis and Dale are not much use at the moment (for now), as the effects that is washing over them has had quite some time to stew and build up potency.

Curtis, if you wish to act, you can try... but your world has desolved into something akin to absolute incompetence.  For now, until the effect is dealt with, RP Curtis as having an INT of -5, and 0 in any and all skill ranks (meaning you fail at pretty much anything). (Bonus PP for good RPing!)

Richard is immune to fear, so he is not affected by the current happenings...

"Yes!  Yes!  Cower and flee you pathetic little rodents!"  A man, dressed in rags with a poorly burlap sack over his head stood on a rooftop not far away, screaming at the people below.  "Know me!  Know fear!  Know that I am... Fear-Master!  Weaver of Despair.  Designer of Misery.  Lord of your Nightmares!"  [Insert cackling laughter here]

Through all the commotion... no one noticed the streak of green light that fell from the sky several blocks away...

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"Aww Hell."  Seeing literally everyone around him panic at the same time as the so-called Fear-Master enveloped the area in what he surmised was a massive fear-inducing effect,  Richard took a fraction of a second to decide what he needed to do.   Without access to some means to bind so many people at once, he had to go after the source, This Fear-Master.   "You're gonna pay for ruining my night off, asshole."   While he didn't move at his full speed, going straight supersonic was always a bad idea in town, he moved as fast as he could get away with, right up to the wall of the building Fear-Master was atop and began running up the wall, a seeming dark-blue streak thanks to the predominance of Navy and denim in his attire.   Still he was on guard should this foe have any allies, or another ability he'd not seen.

He silently was quite thankful that there weren't cars to worry about, at least not right in the vicinity, he could only imagine the carnage that would have wrought upon all the innocent bystanders.   "Small favors." he spoke softly, his own battleplan already forming in his mind.  Easily closing the distance, he dashed up and over the top, and let go a powerful barrage of fists at the villain.
 

 

Rick's in speed mode to close the distance and then attacking with multiattack.   
Roll(1d20)+8:
9,+8
Total:17

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Curtis stared into his hands, then up as he saw Rick charging Fear Master. He should do... something? He tried to rise up, but suddenly found his left feet were doubled. And his right feet were the left feet, so all he managed was face planting, again and again. His nose was bleeding.

Calm down, he tried to tell himself, repeat: 2+2 = ....5... fish? The closest planet to the Sun was... something. Maybe if he read a book... and they didn't have all those big words. Aware on some level this should not be the case, Curtis was still helpless to do more than roll into a ball and cry.

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"Yes, YES!  Cower in fear, maggots!  Tear each other apar-" Fear-Master caught only a blur from the corner of his eye and he turned to face it and was the second worse mistake he'd made for that evening.  First, was apparently screwing up Richard's night off.

Richard's fist caught him in the jaw, the cut, chest, throat (to silence that awful taunting), left hook, right hook, upper cut and before Fear-Master had the chance to raise his hands in defense, one last right cross dropped him to the rooftop floor.  He tried to stand, meagerly attempting to stand only to have his own weight be to much for his weakened arms.  He collapsed in a heap of rags and burlap.  "I-impo-ssible..." he gasped, as he slipped into unconsciousness.

From his perch atop the building Richard looked down upon Yellow Brick Row... Fear-Master was down... but the riots weren't stopping!  He had to think of something, fast!  Those people were going to tear themselves apart!

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"And stay down."

Rick looked around for something to bind him with and seeing nothing, he stripped off the guy's ratty shirt, twisted it up and damn near hog-tied him with it.  It was far from perfect, but given his speed the whole process too only moments.  It might hold, but he didn't have alot of time.   From there, he looked down, noticing the panic hadn't stopped,  He knew there had to be another source.  He did know Curtis had electrical abilities, from a previous discussion, so he might have a faster way than just running around searching for a transmitter.

Just as he was about to head back to his friend, he noticed that the whole disturbance was fairly localized, and there did seem to be a sort of boundary to it.   Seeing a potential way to get help without calling in others, He dashed back down the wall and scooped up Curtis, likely too fast for his friend to realize what happened.  Quickly he brought Curtis outside the boundary of the effect, and hoped that was enough to end the effect.  "Come on man, wake up, I need a genius, not a catatonic mess."  He avoided the standard of hitting him like people in movies did, it wasn't going to help, he had more faith in that outside the effect, Curtis was strong enough to get ahold of himself.

perception check


Roll(1d20)+4:
13,+4
Total:17

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The sheer sense of mental emptiness lifted like a thousand pound weight off his chest and Curtis rolled up to a sitting position. He sucked in a breath and took in the situation. "First question, method of delivery? Is this chemical, a transmitted signal, or other?" If it was the former, they were in a very problematic position. The latter would be much easier to handle since Curtis could observe the area, calculate the approximate size of the circle of effect on a mental map, then use basic geometry to determine the radius and work backward to locate the hypothetical transmitter.

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"It's localized, in that All I had to do was bring you out of the area and you're back to normal, so I think we can eliminate a chemical transmitter.  Also unless it was an aerosol, I can't think of a way to dose everyone like that chemically, as we weren't all previously in the same place.  If i had to guess, we were very near the epicenter.  I knocked out some idiot calling himself the "Fear-Master" and left him tied up on the roof where I found him.  I thought he might have been the source but obviously I was wrong.  The effect doesn't seem to be moving either."

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Curtis's world was coming back into focus.  His mind cleared, and his hands trembled as he attempted to shake off of the effects of Fear-Master's strange control of his mind.  "Sh-short wave radio signals.  A device.  There must be a device somewhere, big enough to broadcast over the whole area..." he pressed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, his eyes scanning the open promenade of Yellow Brick Row.  He pointed at one of the tall lamp posts that lit up the promenade.  "There!  On top of that lamp post."

"So I smash that and the people go sane?"  Richard asked.

Curtis shook his head, still clearing away some of the confusion.  "I-I don't know.  Things are still a bit fuzzy, but it's all we have."

Richard was off like a shot, his great speed kicking up dust and debris in a gust.  He shift his abilities to ascend from the ground and fly upward, snatching the device, which looked like nothing more than a few duct taped radios and weird antennae, at nearly mach one.  The sonic boom from his flight detonated above Yellow Brick Row and he soared high and far in hopes he was far enough away that the people below were coming to their senses.  He squeezed the device tight and it crumpled under his strength like an aluminum can.

Curtis noticed as people began coming to their senses.  Fights and madness subsided and people found themselves looming over complete strangers with fists cocked back ready to defend themselves from demons and critters that were never there.  Citizens stood from where they had been cowering from sins of their past and monsters that had haunted them since childhood.  Like Curtis just moments prior their minds began clearing and they groggily staggered about trying to collect their bearings, but for the most part... they seemed to slowly becoming around.

Dale scampered backwards, tears in his eyes as terrible fears of his childhood washed away.  We looked to his left and right, frantically taking inventory of fading illusions.  Curtis sighed with relief as it appeared the citizens were slowly going back to normal.  The Fear-Master rolled about, flailing his torso.  He pulled at his bindings, the frayed shirt he was bound with began to rip and give under his thrashings.  With a victorious clench of his fists he raised his arms high as he relished in his freedom.  "Haha!  Ignorant child... I will not be defeated so easily.  These people will suffer as I see fi-"

*ting*

*ting*

The Fear-Master's reprisal to being blindsided was cut short by a golden ring falling from the sky and bouncing not far from where he was sitting.  "Hm?  What's this?"  He slid his hand over and picked up the ring.

[12% charge remaining.  Commencing induction charge... fear energy detected... 13%... 14%... source connection lost... self-preservation mode activated... attempting to reconnect to database... database connection failed...]

He slid the ring upon his finger and an explosion of yellow energy erupted from the roof top where he sat, inflicting misery on the masses was one thing, getting some bling seemed a bonus.  His rags faded, recolored and repurposed from dirty white and khaki to black and yellow... it ate away at his clothing until it digitized into the center of his chest a symbol only ladies a few miles away would have recognized.  Power surged through Fear-Master and his cackling madness that passed for laughter echoed through out Yellow Brick Row.

"YES!  AHAHAHAHAH!  THE POWER!  OH! I LIKE THIS..."  He slowly rose up from the ground, flight now one of his many new powers.  "FEAR IS THE MIND KILLER... SO THEY SAY!  ALLOW ME TO DEMONSTRATE!"  Tendrils of yellow energy erupted from him and struck several more areas around him where devices were stuck to walls, flag poles, awnings, everywhere (seriously, how many did this guy make)?  The yellow energy crept into them, rewriting circuitry, perfecting flaws, and finally activating a terror wave that exploded across Yellow Brick Row.  Fear was upgraded to absolute horror and what was riots and fighting in the streets became a mad house of pure insanity.  People gripped their heads as the waves tore into their skulls and stripped them everything they considered real and sane.  They were consumed, not by their worst fears, but by their most terrible nightmares.

"I-I don't know man... Curtis and Richard were fighting this dude and things are all... and he's all yellow now... 'Bastian man... I'm so sorry, but you gotta-" Dale lurched his head back with enough force to strain his neck.  His world melted back into absolute chaos and he howled in agony as inquisitors and the faithful tore at his flesh with hooks and hot pokers in an attempt to exorcise Satan from him.

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