Dawn of a New Age, Part 4

Greetings dear readers! This is part four of the introduction I recently wrote for my next campaign. A supers game in a world where no superpowers existed before, but a strange incident has occurred. The world will soon be a very different place. What will the players make of this? What sort of characters will they create to be part of this brand new dawn?

Hope you enjoy part four, and be back tomorrow for the fifth and final installment. Enjoy!

Dawn of a New Age, Part 4

March 17, 2011

8:29 PM

María entered the brownstone, the repair crews were still working out in the street and the subway was still not working so she had to walk from the only bodega open after the incident three days ago. She was amazed at how fast the city was recuperating; true some services had not been restored, case and point, electricity. She could hear the emergency power plant running in the basement. Juggling the bags she fished out the keys and opened the door to the small apartment on the first floor. “Dough, help me with this… Dough!” she called to her husband but only the cat responded to her call, rubbing lovingly against her calves.

Dropping the bags on the counter in the small kitchen she gave up on calling Dough, he wasn’t home. He must be upstairs helping Professor Henriksen. Dough and María lived on the first floor apartment rent free while Dough helped the Professor with his research. It had seemed like a sweet deal at first, Dough had some work left to do on his PhD and the experience of working for Henriksen seemed like a great opportunity, the first step in a brilliant career. María was willing to work extra hours at the nail salon to keep them afloat. That was three years ago, since then Dough had dropped out of the PhD program at the university and became just as obsessed with the experiments as Professor Henriksen, who turned out to be a crackpot, a disgraced scientist. María was at her wits end and when she opened the refrigerator and it was not running it was too much.

She stormed off the apartment, not bothering to close the door behind her. She’d have a word with Dough, the building had an emergency power plant and none of the lights in the stairwell were on, the power cable running up to the attic, to power the machinery, the supposed brilliant invention of Professor Henriksen that he began to work on in Denmark and for which he was fired from the university here.

She climbed up the stairs, Henriksen lived in the upper floors and it was a mess of books, discarded machinery and cables. It reeked of old papers, oil and mold. María could feel her anger seething, this was the last straw. She would not put up with it any longer. She got to the attic door and was so mad she ignored the pulsating light under the door.

The door banged against the wall and María was confused. The machines had been moved around creating an uneven circle around the center of the room. A pulsating light emanating somewhere in the center of the attic, behind the machines, half illuminated the room. María’s anger dissipated, replaced instead with an inexplicable sense of dread. During all occasions she had been up here some machines might have been turned on but nothing like this. The air crackled and she could feel the hair on her arms stand up, when the light in the middle of the room flared up the machines all around the room made an portentous noise.

She called to Dough but the machine drowned her out and she began to navigate the maze created by the machines. As she neared the center of the room she could feel the energy all around her and when she brushed against a machine she got a shock, much stronger than static electricity. The machines hummed and felt cold, droplets of moisture covered many surfaces. She stepped into the center of the room still staring at the machine and when she turned she was surprised by the source of the light.

A shimmering disc of light floated in the middle of the air about a foot off the ground. A tangle of machines under the glowing disk hummed louder than anything in the room every time the disk pulsated. María approached the disk it was silvery white, but dark strands danced across its surface in  concentric circles, appearing and dissipating, for some reason it reminded her of a zebra, but she knew what she was looking was anything known or familiar.

From behind the disk someone appeared. The brightness had left her unable to recognize who it was but as soon as he spoke she recognized her husband. “María what are you doing here? Step away from the lattice, don’t touch it. Come over, careful with the cables.” Dough helped her across the room making sure she avoided stepping in any of the crackling power lines. María had a hundred questions but could not form any coherently. Dough looked disheveled, his lab coat had not been washed in days, and despite the cold her husband looked sweaty and excited.

He guided her to an old desk near the periphery of the machines around the room two computers had been set up on it and cables ran from various machines to the computers and a larger mainframe behind them. Dough checked the monitors keyed some data in the keyboard and turned to María with a big smile in his face, “It works baby, it works!” María could not share her husband’s elation, the light, all this, it gave her a terrible sense of dread.

“What is this Dough? What have you done?” He seemed taken aback by her tone, surprised he tried to explain, “Baby this is the professor’s experiment, it works, the lattice spatial projection matrix works! We had our first reading Monday, and then we reworked the equation…” María felt her fears realized and interposed herself between Dough and the desk, “Monday? Did you say Monday? Is this thing, did this cause…” She left the question unasked but Dough understood the implications, he seemed as horrified as her at the idea and then he smiled, “No María, no this was Monday night, after I set up the power plant. The first reading was infinitesimal. Relax baby we did not break the world.”

Dough hugged her, but his affection did not dissipate her concerns. Then she noticed the rope, tied to the desk’s leg, trailing off into the center of the room and into the disk from this side. With great trepidation she asked, “Dough where is Professor Henriksen?” Dough let go of her and smiled, the smile he always gave her when he knew she’d disapprove. “He went in baby, he had to, this has been his whole life, he went in…” He gestured towards the floating glowing disk and María knew her concerns were not for naught.

©Roberto Micheri, 2010. All rights reserved.