Part 19: Architect: Out of Place - Fereydun
Hey everybody. I'm J, your friendly neighborhood Peacebringer, and I'm here to tell you one of the more memorable adventures I've had. I call it:
Out of Place
I had gotten a call from Hero Corps, asking to head over to the Architect Entertainment building as soon as possible. Apparently, Dr. Aeon had made an appointment with the city about something, and appeared at the Atlas Park branch almost immediately, claiming to come in peace for the purposes of science. They had already secured him with their own agents, but wanted someone who had prior experience dealing with him around to make sure that he didn't try and pull anything funny. Or 'muhahaha' science-y.
Since I'd stopped him and his ridiculous plans a few times (and more) they figured I was the most qualified for the job, so off I went.
I mean, after all, he wasn't really that bad of a guy. Well, except when he was.
The man known as Doctor Thaddeus Aeon AQSA (Arachnos Quantum Structure Association) is without a doubt the most brilliant scientist in the Rogue Isles and probably one of the most brilliant minds of the whole planet. A metahuman genius able to work on literally hundreds of projects at the same time, he is responsible for the creation of inventions such as the NutriPaste and the Power Transference System.
Apparently, he is also the creator of the mysterious structure of unknown purpose in Grandville known as "The Web". Head of the Aeon Corporation based in Cap au Diable, as well as the governor of Cap au Diable itself, he has under his command other scientists of talent such as Dr. Forrester and Dr. Geist... who are almost as crazy as Aeon himself.
Aeon is also known for having developed the Rogue Isles University. Aeon University offers revolutionary courses in 'Transdimensional Shift Phasing', 'Demolitions for a Better Tomorrow', 'Cloning and You and You', and 'Power Sources: Risk vs. Reward'.
For some inscrutable reason, Dr. Aeon has taken an interest in one of Paragon City's quirkier phenomena. While the city is willing to bend over backwards to make a show of good faith, they're still not about to let him go around unescorted. And that's where you come in...
"--searched me three times already! Honestly now! Believe me, you scrounging ape, if I WERE carrying a death ray, your scattered ions would be the FIRST to announce its presence in the form of the most enjoyable SNEEZE I would ever have the pleasure of expelli"
"Hey Doc. It's been awhile."
"Hrm. You'd be my escort, then? Longbow called in a big favor, I see. Peacebringer J, if I'm not mistaken? You've probably confounded a goodly number of my experiments, but never mind. Never mind.
Pardon my brusqueness; I'm just reassuring your security that I have, indeed, shed myself of all my weapons, devices, tools, trinkets, and gew-gaws. I must say, for a "show of good faith," you people aren't showing a whole lot of faith."
Of course, considering that Aeon was the premiere mad scientist of the most ridiculously villanious organization on the planet I really didn't believe that.
"C'mon, you and I both know that there's always something..."
"Wait, what are you
GET your hand out of
Er. Yes. That. Uh, I mean, GOOD HEAVENS, is that a Non-Baryonic Matter Deconvoluter? How on EARTH did that get into my pocket?
"How -did- it get into your pocket? Well, whatever.. Why exactly did you come to Paragon City again?
"So, doubtless these Longbow throwbacks have briefed you on the situation. I am visiting your fair city on a mission of pure science. Steel Canyon has a charmingly quirky little annual phenomenon: Ghostmarch. Every year on this day, ghostly apparitions appear and march around for a while. Boring, right? Only they're NOT really ghosts!
Paranormal experts are stumped, because they're flim-flammers!
Scientists are baffled, because they are not ME!
I've scanned this phenomenon from afar, and I believe I know the TRUTH of the matter! Be warned, however, there is GREAT danger here, a peril beyond sanity:
The arts community of Paragon has turned it into a street festival! I know, I know, I am just as appalled as you are! At least I can be assured that you, my loyal lacke-- er, bodyguard, will vaporize any mimes or jugglers who threaten us."
"I am not vaporizing any jugglers. Or mimes. Or anybody, hopefully. Also, I really don't like riding on the PTA and taking you through the war walls would get you zapped. So just take the tram to Steel and meet me there. And don't try anything stupid, please."
I figured he wouldn't try anything funny since he wasn't really the type to stir things up when something scientific was bothering him, so I headed off to the festival to get a good look around before he got there.
It was already packed by the time I had gotten there, with all sorts of folks:
Regular people enjoying themselves,
Food vendors and scam artists,
and of course, the arts community.
There were also tour guides giving out speeches to the crowds,
saying stuff like:
"...some say that the 'ghosts' are the psychic residue of a massive, metahuman conflict from Paragon's past. Others think they're the echoes of a future yet to come..."
"...the yearly occurrence known as 'Ghostmarch' first happened 23 years ago, a number that some investigators believe to have mystical significance..."
After a small bit, the Longbow agents escorting Dr. Aeon gave me a call and told me to meet up with him near the park. Apparently they couldn't stand his rambling any longer, and handed him off to me.
"Alright Doc, I know you hate it when folks repeat themselves so I'll just make it simple- don't blow up the park and kill a bunch of innocents and we're square, okay?"
"Well, I suppose things could be worse. I may not have my own scientific equipment, but at least I've got my health! AND my massive brain! And isn't that the greatest tool of all? Ahah heh. Still, I wish I at least had my personal force field generator. You can't object to a purely passive defense system, can you? Especially since your ridiculous city just passed that absurd "concealed carry" law. Imagine that! Concealed firearms! And you call ME mad! You don't even have a proper system in place for thought control, pacification, and cathartic re-channeling of anger away from the real oppressors! Well... you DO have that one news channel with all the shouty people who hate your President. Very amusing. But it needs a wider audience to be truly efficient. ONWARD!"
So, we headed towards the festival and started our investigation.
We began with the ghosts who weren't ghosts.
They were vaguely human shaped and mostly transparent- something that obviously would be quantified as a "ghost". Dr. Aeon mumbled to himself as I watched them appear to wander aimlessly.
After several hours of examining the ghosts, I stopped to watch a small performance- much to the chagrin of Aeon.
During the performance, some kid ran up to us claiming to be a "Paranormal Expert", and began throwing theories at Aeon immediately.
"No ectoplasmic residue, but a faint dimensional reaction... could they be from a parallel universe?"
Aeon dismissed him immediately,saying something like
"Simply because you own a lot of backissues of 'Omni' and some remaindered D.A.T.A. equipment of dubious reliability, you shouldn't consider yourself an expert."
I grabbed him and quickly shuffled off, hoping to avoid any kind of incident that would attract even more attention to us. We ran into a ghost that was much more tangible and visible than the others- it clearly had a strong human shape, and almost seemed physical. It seemed important to Aeon too, seeing that he told me to take out my notepad and begin recording everything he said over the span of a few hours.
As the first day of the festival wrapped up, we caught up with a detachment of Midnight Squad mages with a Legacy Chain Arcanist who were investigating the ghosts too.
The Arcanist confirmed Aeon's theories that the ghosts weren't mystical ghosts, seeing as their spells to ward off spirits had no effect on the apparitions of Ghostmarch.
With all the information gathered, we went to the Hero Corps headquarters analyze the information taken and rest up. He seemed rather upset that he wasn't allowed access to any equipment at the headquarters, but I assured him that I would find a way to bring whatever he needed to the festival tomorrow.
After some negotiations with Ms. Liberty, Aeon and I brought a box of Longbow-approved equipment to the festival the next day.
"Oh joy, I can hardly wait to see..."
Pulling the equipment out of the box, I said:
"Looks pretty advanced to me..."
Of course, Aeon sighed rather dramatically and retorted:
"Oh come ON now, do you really call this an Underdimensional Tunneling Spectroscope? Might as well give me a piece of string and call it a sine-wave generator! Not that I haven't entertained myself for hours doing just that, but still: This is an insult! Do you really expect me to work with this junk?
As I began to respond, loud screams came from the direction of the festival- some kind of trouble, no doubt. Calling up the PPD on their emergency line:
"Look, there's a situation happening at Ghostmarch- bring as much backup as possible, because Dr. Aeon is here and might be the cause of it. I'm going to go and check up on the festival and try and help as many people as I can. Aeon's in an alleyway near Blyde Street and Hammer Lane.
As I closed the line, Aeon couldn't help but quip:
"Well, if you really insist on neglecting your duty, I'll just work on my world domination plans..."
I turned and gave a serious expression, and he quickly shouted:
Having no time for this, I quickly took off to the park and saw a rather disturbing sight: the "ghosts" had taken physical form and begun attacking the festival-goers!
I focused on taking out the ghosts quickly, hoping to save as many of the people as possible.
The sheer amount of ghosts was dangerous- they had begun flooding out into the streets, materializing all over the area. While containing them, the sounds of fighting came from down the street. I headed over to find another hero fighting off the ghosts.
Moving to help, I heard her shouting:
"Daphne, I got your signal, and-- what... what's going on?"
"The ghosts are going crazy is what's going on!"
"The ghosts: they're actually hurting people! This has to stop!"
"Yeah, no kidding! Here, follow me- we'll clear out the rest of the ghosts before they get any further!"
So, we patrolled the streets and finished off the remainders of the ghosts in the area, who simply vanished after being in contact with enough of my energy.
After the park was safe, the heroine introduced herself as Neutrina, who had the power to manipulate subatomic particles into energy blasts. Apparently she had felt a shift in the quantum plane once the ghosts started attacking and was headed over to the festival to investigate.
"That was some good work out there, kid. You really took care of yourself."
"Thanks, Peacebringer J. I've got to go check on some friends, but hopefully we can catch up later."
"Right. I've got one doctor to see about all of this, myself... Later."
Calling into the Longbow channel, they apparently had caught Dr. Aeon at the Steel Canyon Architect Entertainment building, attempting to materialize equipment from the machine in the same way that he appeared. He had a lot of questions to answer for. Flying through Steel Canyon, more and more of the ghosts seemed to be appearing and causing chaos while ambulances sped down the streets, escorted by heroes.
Arriving at the building, Aeon had appeared elated- so I confronted him.
"What the hell just happened? What did you do?! The instant you got your hands on that equipment the ghosts just started going crazy!"
He ignored my question and shouted back,
End Part 1