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Mutants & Masterminds: Future Imperfect - Intersections

Adrian Moss

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There are some things to know about Las Vegas. It consistently ranks amongst the lowest in high school graduates. It also ranks pretty low in programs to prevent gambling addiction. It does much better on things like smoking, teen pregnancy, death by cancer, and death by automobile – much better.

What feeds the city is a constantly revolving progression of low paying, unskilled jobs. The city also enjoys a high immigration rate, so there is no need to educate their populace. That and the number one source of income for the state is … you guessed it Gambling. You can find a way to gamble on anything in Vegas. Add to that the legalized prostitution and you have home. Welcome to Sin City.

Adrian and Becca had been in the city for nearly a week. Rebecca had been going through a really rough spurt and wasn’t able to do much. She was … looking more grown up every day. Someone had even called them twins once. She was so self-conscious about her looks that she had cried. There was little he could think to do for her.

They were sleeping in a culvert at night. Adrian was afraid to go to any of the homeless shelters because if someone was looking for him, that would be the first place to check. He knew he had made a powerful enemy in Los Angeles. How powerful, and what her reach was remained an unknown, but not something he wanted to test. He was bulletproof. His sister wasn’t.

The heat of the day broke over 110 F during the day, so they remained out of the sun while their bellies ached and the hunger gnawed at them. They risked a church charity to get some bottled water. They needed to survive in this furnace. Survival meant going out once the sun set. The restaurants along the strip were 24/7 affairs. There was always someone dumping food in the trash. Trash for one was dinner for another. The kids couldn’t be picky and frankly the pickings were good.

Of course homeless kids eating out of dumpsters doesn’t fit with Las Vegas’ family friendly atmosphere. A cop came around and chased them off. Actually, the cop was trying to arrest them and they hopped a larger fence in order to get away. This left the kids scared and still hungry. They wandered north, inadvertently moving toward UNLV campus. It was at a McDonalds, late at night that they found a ration of burgers being thrown out. No other homeless were around, so Becca got into the dumpster and began handing the burgers out to her brother.

The two kids were so happy with their good fortune (as smelly as the circumstances were) they didn’t realize they weren’t alone. A wanderer, out late at night, had come across the starving duo unannounced. The two were only a phone call away from another run in with the law.

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Vegas: Corrupt, venal, addiciting. Tim knew the place as his home and nowhere else. Why he didn't pack up his bags and move to someplace else, amazed him. He did whatever he could to stay here when most of the city made him want to puke. He supposed it was not the city's fault, but his mothers. She allowed the city to consume her soul and without awareness, kicking her son to the streets.

The night was warm and Tim was walking home from school. His car had crapped its starter onto the parking lot; stranding him without his own means to get home. He had called his mother a few hours earlier, but she had never shown up. It was typical behavior from her. He wondered why he ever tried to seek her help for anything. With no other opions, he set off for home.

He lived about 10 miles from campus, in a blue-collar neighborhood. The trip would take him past areas that were seedier and frequented by drug addicts and homeless folk. Most of them were casualties of the Vega Monster's insatable hunger for what few posessions people had left. These were the survivors and victims. In a strange way, Tim felt a commonality with these people. Their lives were adversely affected by Vegas and they lived on the edges. That the place had become a national internment camp for mutants was an added shame. He was sure some of these people were like him, hiding in the shadows of a city that never sleeps. Tim was lucky enough to have been able to hid in the educational system. He could just as easily ended up here...or worse- in the camps.

As he wandered home, he saw two figures assaulting the innards of a McDonalds dumpster. He eased himself against a nearby wall and watched one of them pass food to the other. They were only teenagers and he wondered what circumstances brought them here. Curiosity got the best of him and he decided he'd ask them.

Tim walked towards the two.

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Becca noticed him first. Her eyes grew wide and she tapped her brother frantically on the head. Adrian saw which way her eyes were pointing and followed them. This guy could be the assistant manager of the place. He looked about right, but there was the backpack. Next he noticed that he DIDN’T have a phone out. Still, you didn’t stay safe as an unregistered mutant by taking risks.

With a great feat of strength, the boy lifted the girl out of the dumpster and placed her so that she was shielded from the stranger by his mass. With a look over his shoulder the two walked away slowly, like they had done nothing wrong. The girl kept looking back at the Tim with fear in her eyes, growing as he came diagonally toward them. The twins could get out of the parking lot except by walking into the light and around the store, or going past Tim. They chose Tim and the relative darkness.

The boy always kept the girl shielded and was holding her hand tightly. Despite his army surplus jacket hanging baggy on his body, he did not look scruffy. In the shadow, the girl looked beautifully exotic as her hair billowed around her under a late night desert breeze. Even though the girl looked fearful, the twins were looking more like recent cast-offs, not long term residents of this condition. With his exquisite memory, Tim knew that this was more than a trick of the light, or a flight of fancy.

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They came towards him, the young man shielding the girl from any potential harm. Both of them were only a year or two younger than he was, and obviously new to their condition. They were clean and decently dressed, and judging by her extreme beauty, mutants. It would explain alot about their condition. Being an unregistered mutant was illegal and most of them turn to the streets where they could remain hidden. That they headed towards him, and not into the lit areas, piqued his suspicions. One or both of them were frightened; either of him or of everything that was a potential threat. Tim had to check for himself.

He was always able to see the subtleties of the molecular world around him. When looking at a normal person, he saw a collection of organic molecule chains and proteinaceous structures. For example: The disulfide bonds holding amino acid chains together shone like small yellow strands. But if he looked at a mutant, he saw more. All mutants had an energy band that expanded and ebbed rhythmically, making them beacons in a crowd. Sometimes he was able to see part of what they could do, but it was always fleeting. A fleeting glimpse was all Tim ever needed to remember. These two shone like lighthouses in the surrounding quantum-infused medium. They were mutants.

As they drew to within several meters, Tim cut across their path bringing up his hands in a non-threatening manner.

"Excuse me." Tim said quietly with a smile. "Are the two of you ok?"

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The couple stops walking, with both of them looking at the newcomer.

“Listen,” says the guy. “We haven’t done anything really wrong. It’s trash after all, and we didn’t make a mess.”

The girl nods vigorously, her raven mane bouncing around her tanned face made luminescent in the pale moonlight. It makes her lips exceptionally red as well. She reaches round her brother and extends a hand with something in it.

“Want a burger?” she asks in a still voice.

The brother looks down at it and a sigh escapes him. He half turns to his sister.

“He’s not like us, Becca. He’s probably a college kid.”

He says the word ‘college’ with a hint of bitterness.

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"I am a college kid." Tim says with a slightly confused expression. "I'm also not hungry."

Tim looked at the two with curious fascination. "I also know that the both of you are not what you seem." There was always a chance they might be hostile, though Tim was almost certain they were not. Tim was also interested why the strange young man said what he did.

"I am curious, though. Why you would think that I'm not like you?"

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“Well, your shoes still seem to have their tread on them. Your backpack is a school backpack, not army surplus like us. You don’t have a shopping cart. Your hair looks clean, relatively, and either you have no beard, or you’ve shaved recently.”

“Not one of us,” he reiterates. "You've got it made."

Becca withdraws the offered burger.

“Otherwise I have no idea what you are talking about,” he says with deadly seriousness. “We are just two kids making our way around the city. We don’t mean anyone any harm. Now, we’ll just move along if you don’t have a problem with that.”

In a more worried tone he adds, “Don’t call the police … please. We’ll keep out of your way.”

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Their answer was not good enough. They were dancing around his question. He called them on it.

"That is not what I meant. And I think you know it." Tim said with a smirk. "All three of us are more than our clothing."

Tim debated briefly withing himself and spoke again. "I have it made until they find out what I am."

He hoped it would garner trust among them.

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"You too," the girl whispered.

Adrian's head whipped around to her then back toward Tim. If this was a cop trap, it was too elaborate to capture them ... wasn't?

"Yeah, we are ... mutants," he said reluctantly, the words so long denied drug out of him.

What next to say?

"Are you a big fish or a little one? You must be big to hide like this. If we register we go under - into the MIC. We would rather live free, as rough as life is right now, than live in their cage."

He sounded like he meant it too.

"So ... what are you going to do with your college career? Become a lawmaker and find a way out of this for the rest of us, or you going to remain safe and hidden?"

It wasn't an accusation, but a testiment of the facts of their existance. A mutant could live a good life, if they played it safe and told, well, no one.

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"I am hiding, like you." Tim had finally gotten through. He shrugged his shoulders"Funny part is I had not really thought of what to do with college. "It is a place where I am a number. That's all."

"I know that the streets are a safe place for mutants to hide. But why do YOU do it? Why not find a way to hide that doesn't involve scavending through dumpsters for food?"

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The boy shrugs.

"We just got to town last week. Usually I find a job doing ... criminal stuff. I don't want to step on anyone's toes, so I'm still learning who is who."

"Besides, we learned to dumpster dive when we were much younger. We move around a lot. I've never stayed in a place more then six months."

He shuffles his feet uncertain of what to say next.

"Is this your home - city that is? Do your parents know? It's been a hell of a long time since we had a home. I've all but forgotten what it is like."

Rebeccas takes a half step around her brother,

"I've never had a home."

"None that she would remember," her brother corrects.

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"Yep.. I've lived here all my life." His arms rocked at his side as he scanned the area. "My mom is....too busy to know whether I am a mutant. She is... has other priorities."

His face lights with an idea. "I have a friend who works at his parents motel. He owes me a.... favor. Just give me a sec." Tim reaches into his pocket and brings out his cellphone. He dials some number and is soon speaking to someone on the other end. After a minute, he hangs up and looks to the pair.

"Head over to the Piece O' Silver motel on Sunset and Pecos. When you get there, tell the blond kid at the counter that 'Gilgamesh the Destroyer' sent you. He will give the two of you a room for a night."

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I hope this isn't as set up. I hope this isn't one of those again.

A room would be nice. A shower would be even nicer. To be clean again - to use soap. All of those and more were modern wonders the kids hadn't experienced in nearly a month.

"Okay, Gilgamesh the Destroyer, Piece O' Silver on Sunset and Pecos. We'll do that."

They turned as one to leave, the girl biting into the burger she had offered earlier. Over his shoulder, the boy looked then waved.

"Thanks Gilgamesh. I owe you one. I'll repay you one day."

It was the kind of pledge his Dad would have made.

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When the two were out of sight, Tim dialed his phone again.

"It's me again." Tim said with some apprehension.

"Yeah, what do you want now?" The voice on the other end sounded impatient.

"I need you add something to that favor I asked of you."

"Like what?"

"Can you have your guy order the kids I spoke to you of, an x-large supreme pizza?"

"It'll cost you." the voice had a diabolical taint to it.

Tim winced as he knew what was coming. It was a common task he did for them when he needed a favor. "Parlay cards?" Tim said

"Yep...I want the odds for all the football games this weekend. College and Pro."

It was a bad deal for Tim, and he wanted to cringe. "Ok, but I think I'm getting a raw deal here. I've already told you I'd make you cheat-sheet for the craps tables."

"Take it or leave it." The voice said

Tim couln't have the two kids turned away, and the two of them were obviously hungry. "I'll do it. " Tim said before hanging up.

I hate this fucking place

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