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Luck of Heroes: Twilight

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Uncle Yuan:
This thread is reserved for posts in the new "Luck of Heroes" play-by-post RPG.  Please do not post here if you are not a player, and players please confine your posts to story posts.  I will retitle the original thread for open player and reader comments.

This game will be a bit different than other play-by-posts.  It is something of an experiment in collaborative writing and story telling.  Posts here will be longer and less frequent, and more evenly balanced between players and GM.  Details and conflict outcomes will be arranged ahead of time via PM with final drafts posted for general consumption.  I ask that any player with game-related questions contact me via PM or in the open thread.

Prolog follows, with first contributions due soon.

Uncle Yuan:
Prolog:
Deep in the heart of Chinatown, far beyond the brightly neon-lit, tourist clogged main streets, one can find an unassuming storefront wedged between a travel agency and a small grocery.  Peering through the window one can see a huge wall of small drawers and shelves reaching to the ceiling behind a long counter.  The sales floor is crammed with boxes and barrels arranged in tidy rows.  The door is painted a bright green.  Hanging in its window is a rice paper banner, hung vertically in the Chinese style, with the single word “herbs” in elegant calligraphy.

It is twilight.  Out on the streets people bustle through a light rain in a hurry to get home to dinner.  The street is dim, lit more by the storefronts than by street lights.  Traffic on this street is light.

Inside the store are two people.  On the sales floor a slender young man with a broom pulls the crates and barrels one after another out of their tidy rows, carefully sweeps the space, and precisely replaces them.  The young man is dressed like any other teenager in jeans and a t-shirt.

Behind the counter an old man sits upon a stool.  The single over-head lamp reflects off his shiny bald head as he bends over a large ledger writing precise characters with ink and brush.  His brown wool dress slacks and vest were not new when he bought them at the thrift store ten years ago.  A battered canvas shoulder bag hangs on a hook behind the counter next to a knobby walking stick, polished by years of use, leaning against the wall.

Suddenly the old man pauses, looks up and suppresses a shudder.  His face is etched with concern as he stares at a point in space beyond the shop’s window.  Quietly he murmurs, “I sense a disturbance in the Force.”

“Master?” inquires the young man, pausing in his task.

“Nothing, Steven.  A small joke.  I’ve been known to make them on occasion.  You may leave for the evening.  I will see you in the morning.”

“Um, yes Master,” replies Steven.  He casts a quick glance around the store.  His chore is barely half-done, but an early dismissal is not to be questioned.  Ducking though a beaded curtain behind the counter he stows the broom and grabs his coat and a San Francisco Giants baseball cap.  Calling “Goodnight, Master” over his shoulder, he heads out to join the others bustling through the rain.

As the old man slips down off the stool one can see how short he is, his chest even with the counter top.  He hurries over to the door, locking it and drawing its blind.  Back behind the counter he reaches underneath and draws out a shallow porcelain bowl the size of a manhole cover.  He places it on the counter and remounts his stool, peering intently into the empty vessel.

A swirl of vapor forms on the bottom of the bowl and suddenly it is filled with water.  Two brightly colored goldfish swim in lazy circles through the water.  There is a sense of dark depth greater than the curve of the bowl.  In this depth he can make out one, possibly two more fish swimming as if trying to decide whether to surface or dive.

“Good.  Two at least.  Maybe more.  The universe maintains a balance.”  The old man slides off of the stool, picks up the empty bowl and replaces it under the counter.  Rummaging around he draws out a sheaf of fine rice paper, an ink pot, brushes and a stand.  These he lines up neatly on the counter and retakes his seat.

Murmuring to himself in an odd croon he begins to write.  “Too hesitant last time were we.  Disaster did we court.  This time no such chances shall we take, hmmm?  Heh.”

kkhohoho:
*Beep! Beep! Beep!*

In less then a second, a hand extended to the alarm clock, and slammed down on a button.  The clock was silenced.  A fat man then sat up in his bed rather quickly, but paused for a moment.  He groaned, then stood up.  He sped over to the counter, and made his daily cup of coffee.  After drinking it, he looked at the cupboard for any possible notes he may have written to himself the night before.  He found one, and read it. "Today after work: Go Over to Wanton's."  Ah yes, Wanton.  His one and only friend.  Wanton called and woke him up at 3:30 AM to tell him that he wanted him to come over soon, so Ed brought himself over to where he kept his paper, wrote himself a note to meet Wanton after work later in the day, and then quickly went back to sleep.  Now it was 6:30 AM, and Ed always made coffee and breakfast at this time.  Since he gained his new abilities, making coffee and breakfast has taken less time to do, and finishing it up takes less time as well.  Ed ate his breakfast and headed out to work.

Minneapolis is the city Ed resides in.  During the morning, he always heads over to Wendy's, and his job is being a cashier.  This is part of Ed's daily routine, and as such, Ed did the same today.  As most of the days before, nothing exciting went on over there.  Ed just did his job.  Once he was done with that, he headed on over to Wanton's in the early afternoon.

Wanton lived in a big house.  Wanton told Ed that he inherited it and his father's fortune.  His father had been a big business man, gaining a lot of money.  Wanton never went that route, before and after he got the inheritance. Ed stepped inside.  Wanton said that before he got the inheritance, the house looked very fancy.  Wanton remodeled after moving in, and now it looked like some sort of secret spy's head quarters, with cameras everywhere.  Ed headed up the long winding staircase, all the way up to the 3rd and last floor.  This was where Wanton slept, ate, and made his daily living, except for watching TV. The TV was on the first floor. In the middle was a large table, with a big computer on top.  Wanton was sitting in front of it.

"Wanton?" said Ed.

"Wanton turned around and stood up.  He was fatter then Ed, and had a thick black beard.  "Glad to see you, Ed.  I wanted to show you something.  Let's go to the second floor."

"If you say so..."

The 2nd floor was what Wanton called 'The Vault'.  It wasn't actually a fault, but there were shelves of DVDS of movies and TV shows.  He also had a small section of his so-called vault that he called "The Classified.  "Over here Ed."  He grabbed out a CD.  "I made a disk that has a lot of info on it.  Movies, TV shows, games, and...your latest profession."

Ed put a slight smile. "You mean where I put on the same pair of clothes every night and go out fighting as Bob Wilson?"

Wanton chuckled a bit. "Yes, that one.  I have info on a lot of stuff, and I figured that even I can forget, so I put it all on this disk."

"But, only you know how to use it, so why-?"

"Well, I figured I'd just let you know that if you're ever stuck and can contact me, you should do so."

"But you could have just told me that in person."

"Well, I also wanted to watch some Doctor Who with you."

"Oh, yes, I'd love to.  I haven't watched any since I started my nightly stroll.  I guess I was thinking a lot about my new 'job'."

"That's why I wanted you over.  To relieve your stress by both reassuring you that I'll be there if you ever need my technological expertise, and having you watch a good show with a good and trusted friend, with popcorn."

"Thanks Wanton.  You're the only friend I have."

"I know.  Now let's go down to the TV, shall we?"
_________________________________________________________________

After watching "Army of Ghosts," "Doosmday", "Genesis of the Daleks," and "The Three Doctors", it was around 8.30.  Ed took off the white sweater he had on, revealing a green T-shirt.  He already had his blue jeans on.  Saying goodbye to Wanton for the night, he sped out the door and began his nightly stroll.  He was racing past cars, and past fitter people who were running.  He was running much faster then them.  Turning his head to the side, he noticed something peculiar. Backtracking, he noticed a large man hitting a woman with a club in a park.  Ed saw this as wrong.  He raced closer and stretched out his limbs.  Combined with his speed, they whipped the man pretty quickly.  He went over to the woman.  "Next time, be careful where you're walking."  The next thing to happen was a bit strange at first.  The woman smiled.  "Sorry, but you're quite wrong about what's going on here."

"But...you were being attacked.  The club-"

"Was hollow," said the man.  He got up, and said "Body's armor a wonderful thing, isn't it?  And so is having female partners who had acting lessons.  LADIES AND GENTS', BUT MOSTLY GENTS'!  I THINK IT'S TIME WE TAUGHT THIS HERE MAN A LESSON!  COME ON OUT!"  9 men and 3 women by the looks of things climbed out of the numerous trees and bushes in the park.  Ed was surrounded.  "You back up now, Lisabeth.  Now, mister...Wilson, was it?  Before we send you to the other side, like other intruders, I think it's best you know why you're so disliked by my fellow men and women, as you can plainly see."  All of the thugs had either a knife or a gun, and so did the woman who portrayed a helpless lady.  The leader began walking around Edward.  "You see, why me and my lady friend set you up is because you are interfering in our daily affairs.  Recently, every night you've been assaulting us.  And why is that?"

"Because attacking, maiming, killing, stealing, and everything else like that is wrong," said Bob."

"We don't think it to be wrong, do we?" Each of the thugs said something that meant yes, such as "Yeah boss," or "That's right,". "It's just our way of business.  But now, we're going to have to kill you to get back our freedom to do as we please, which you took way from us when you came in one night, and started taking away our rights!"

"You lose some of your rights when you break the law-"

"AND WHAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO ASSAULT US?!"

"THIS-" a blur hit the leader in the chin, and he promptly fell to the ground, "-gives me the right."  It happened so fast.  Bob started flailing out his arms and spinning all over the place.  All of the bullets missed, and some of the shots hit fellow thugs.  It was over within a minute.  Ed took a moment to look at all of his KO'ed victims, then picked up his cell phone.  "Is this the police?...Yeah, look, I have a situation.  There's all of these people knocked out over here, all carrying knives or guns except for one man.  I don't know what hit them.  Better get over here quickly."  For one or two thugs, Bob wouldn't call the police, but for a crowd like this, Ed decided to call them for cleanup. Seeing how he didn't want to meet the police, he headed back home.

When Ed got back, there was a rice paper scroll bound with a green ribbon sitting on the counter.  Ed unrolled it.  It read "Dear Champion,

I have recently become aware of your activities and wish to offer my heartfelt encouragement to you and the steps you have already taken to help your fellow man.

I feel your recent emergence is something of providence as I have also recently become aware of a grave threat to our planet.  I can not reveal at this stage what this threat is.  This is not an effort on my part to appear mysterious and aloof as I simply can not ascertain the nature of the threat at this stage.  Still, I deem it prudent to begin to lay the ground work for a group of individuals who can stand ready to act once the threat becomes clear.

To this end I invite you to attend a meeting to discuss the coordination of your activities.  Please arrive at the nearest Wendy's 7:00 pm next Sunday.

Pardon the mysterious nature of this correspondence, but for the time being I deem it prudent to remain behind the scenes.  (Although in all honesty there is an element of appearing mysterious and aloof in this decision).

Sincerely yours,

A friend"

I don't like this. Thought Ed.  Grave threat to our planet my arse.  Still, I have no plans Sunday.  I might as well go so that I'll have something to do, but I'll be cautious. 'Only trust Wanton' is currently my number one rule.

Lord Elcorion:
Danny's day began much like any other, waking up at 5:14 am, showering, shaveing and prepareing for work. He offered a short prayer to the gods and goddesses for guidance and protection before leaveing his small apartment to head to work. He offered another prayer for the continued functioning of his ancient van, letting out a tightly held breath when the engine finnally growled to life, procedeing then to work at the Third Eye Open occult bookstore. Entering the shop, he noticed Lady Dragonfly, his boss, busilly arranging the new shipment of books on the shelves.

"Danny, good to see you. I set aside a copy of Dancing with Dragons for you out of the new shipment. It's behind the counter."

"Thanks Aunt D. I'll grab it when I take lunch," he said with a smile, moving to the boxes of herbs, filling the jars. Danny puased as his friend and co-worker Rachel then entered the store, smileing to him and Lady Dragonfly.

"Hi mom, hi Danny. How's that new suit of armor coming along?" she asked, genuinly interested as she looked to Danny, her bright blue eyes setting his heart on fire and melting his brain to mush.

"Oh, I just got the rest of the rivets I need, just need to pound them into place. yanno, umm... I'd uh... really like it if you... umm, yanno, came out to fighter practice when I get it done... umm, watch me test it? Then after we could... uh, get sandwiches, or something?" Danny bit his lip, trying not to blush. it was the closest he had come to asking her out on a date, and he felt that he had blown it big time.

"I think I'd like that. I always thought you looked hot in armor. but then again, it's no surprise, considering the last three times i've watched you fight, it's been almost 98 degrees out. how do you boys handle it?" Rachel laughed, and Danny laughed to, albeit somewhat less enthusiasticlly. Rachel had gotten his hopes up for a brief moment, only to deflate his ego scant senconds later with the joke. Danny knew she ment well, but he wished he could tell her how he really felt.

The rest of the day was uneventful, and after helping clean up and close shop, Danny drove his van to the park. Las Vegas was a hard city to find a quiet spot in, but Sunset Park in the south part of town was a decent enough spot, aside from it's close proximity to Mccarren Airport. As he parked the van and started to get out, he heard a cry for help from the bushes nearby. Reaching behind the seat to get his fighting stick and his dragon mask, he quickly moved to where he had heard the sound.

In the bushes, he found a big man holding down a woman, his fist raised to strike her. She already had a couple of bruises, and as he went to swing at her, Danny rushed him, knocking the man down as the woman scrambled away. Danny looked to make sure she got away alright, but his momentary lapse of attention allowed the man to recovor and kick his feet out from under him. Landing in the dirt, he heard the man laugh harshly.

"So you're the so called "thunder wizard" huh? what do you call yourself, Dragor, Draco, something like that? You're the one who's chased all the gangs out of Sunrise Manor? Not so tough now, are you, wizard man? I was hopeing you'd come by here. My boys and I are gonna make sure you can never mess with us again. You've hurt our operations long enough, and now we're gonna make you pay. Ain't that right, boys?"

At this, several other men stepped from the bushes, holding bats and chains and other items. Danny looked around, and clasped his pentacle, quickly reciting the Ritual of Protection, just as the first thug swung at him with a bat. The weapon was deflected just before impact, and Danny lept to his feet, swinging his stick at the man's gut.

Two others circled around with chains, and one lept forward to try and snare his arm. Danny invoked his Elemental Hex, and an electric shock passed through the chain to the man holding it, causeing him to leap away and drop the weapon. The other man's chain almost caught him in the head, but the Protection spell deflected it as well, but not completly.

Slightly dazed, Danny was almost tackled by a third man, but was able to bring his stick around and smash it into the man's forhead. Invoking the Elemental Hex again, Danny was able to sandblast a few of the other men, keeping them at bay as he retreated towards his van. Getting in, he slammed the door on one man's arm before getting it closed, turning the key in the ignition franticlly. The engine roared to life almost immediatly, much to Danny's surprise, and he slammed it into gear, punching the gas.

The van was old and somewhat broken down, but it was big and intimidating, the engine was still an eight cylinder powerhouse and the big offroad tires never lost traction except in the muddiest of war sites. Here on the dry dirt of the back parking lot, it lept forward like an angry beast, engine roaring like an unchained demon, scattering the remaining men as they lept out of the way of the monsterous vehicle, and Danny sped away, heading for the main road.

Once Danny was well away from the park, he calmed himself down, and turned towards home, dialing the police to report the gang activity at the park. Once he was finished, he pulled up to his apartment, moving inside, stopping as he glanced around. Something wasn't right, the door had been locked, but there was something different about the house. Then danny spotted it, laying on his altar in the cornor, laid neatly beside the incence burner, a stick of incense burning in it, filling the room with the scent of Dragonsblood. Danny picked up the rice paper scroll, looking at it before undoing the green ribbon that bound it, unrolling it slowly. Written in the scroll, in a tight, spidery script, Danny read the following.

Dear Champion,

I have recently become aware of your activities and wish to offer my heartfelt encouragement to you and the steps you have already taken to help your fellow man.

I feel your recent emergence is something of providence as I have also recently become aware of a grave threat to our planet.  I can not reveal at this stage what this threat is.  This is not an effort on my part to appear mysterious and aloof as I simply can not ascertain the nature of the threat at this stage.  Still, I deem it prudent to begin to lay the ground work for a group of individuals who can stand ready to act once the threat becomes clear.

To this end I invite you to attend a meeting to discuss the coordination of your activities.  Please arrive at the Dollar Cinema on Tropicana Ave. at 7:00 pm next Sunday evening.

Pardon the mysterious nature of this correspondence, but for the time being I deem it prudent to remain behind the scenes.  (Although in all honesty there is an element of appearing mysterious and aloof in this decision).

Sincerely yours,

A friend

Danny blinked as he read the scroll. Champion? Grave threat to the planet? What was going on here? Sunday was three days from now. Danny reflected that the dollar cinema would be a good place for a myterious and aloof person, intended or not, to have a meeting. The place got barely any buisness, and a dark theater would keep identities somewhat concealed. He checked the schedule for seven, and saw what was going to be playing then.

"Huh. I guess my "not so mysterious and aloof" friend here likes imported Kung-fu flicks"

bredon7777:
David was having the dream again; and in the dream everything was all right.  It was a summer day and he had blown off his chores to go exploring.  He was climbing the hills around his village and he heard the voices calling him.

 “Don’t go!’, he thought frantically to himself.  “Don’t go and this time everything will be different.”

But it was like he was watching a movie, and no matter how much he screamed at himself, there was nothing he could do to make things go any other way.  Trapped within his own mind, there was nothing he could do but watch as he once again climbed the grassy hill (that was forbidden whispered another voice in the back of his mind); and entered the darkened cave (that was haunted, whispered the same voice).

And there they were. The Gods.  Sitting on their thrones, majestic and terrifying in their splendor.  And they were talking to him, explaining to him that they had chosen him to be their champion; that they would make him smarter, stronger, faster, better  then other men.  That he would live forever.  All he had to do was say “yes”.

So that was what he said.  And then the gods came down off their thrones and surrounded him, glowing faces peering into his and -Their eyes, my God, so big and black what’s wrong with their eyes.  And he opened his mouth –

--And David woke with a scream, which as he lay there in the dark, covered in sweat, transformed itself into a smile.  He remembered.  Oh, he could feel the memories leaking away again, but each time he helped, he had the dream, and each time he had the dream, the memory blocks weakened and he remembered more and more.
 
Had it really only been a few weeks since this had all started?  Since that disastrous attempt at a waiting job?  He had been walking home, back to the halfway house when he’d heard the scream.  Even now, he couldn’t figure out why he’d gone running into the alley.

There was a man with a knife, and a woman who had been at some sort of party. The man had a knife to her throat, and with his free hand was pawing at her.  And on seeing this something inside David had snapped- he had taken off down the alley at a sprint, giving only a fleeting thought as to how he could run so fast, and then snapped a punch that sent the guy flying.  The woman had run off as well, leaving behind only the domino mask she had worn to the party.

That night was the first night he had the dream.  The first night he remembered who he actually was.  And each time he went out, each time he helped, the blocks weakened further, and he remembered more of his history.  He still couldn’t remember who had put the blocks in – who had wanted to make him think he was a harmless loon, but he would eventually.  And then, they would pay.
_______________________________________________________________________________
Voices in a dark room:

“I’ve found him, sir.”

“What?”

“My contact in the police gave me a report from a few weeks ago.  A woman claimed a man in a tux rescued her from a mugger.  The description fits our boy.  And since then, a man in a tux and a domino mask has been stopping crime almost every night. ”

The first voice becomes something that might convey that the speaker is smiling. “He’s back, then?  After nearly 20 years.  Does the government know?”

“I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t.”

“Still, put it on the website. Let them know in no uncertain terms that the jig is up.”

The sound of footsteps, and then a low chuckle. “He’s back.  Oh, I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes.”

Voices fade.
__________________________________________________________________________
It was late.  Time to go out and earn more of his memories back.  David put on his tux and the small mask, and headed out into the cold Ohio streets.

He smiled as he heard a scream. “Sometimes, the night is generous.”  A friend had told him that once, though at least for now he couldn’t remember who.

The scream lead him to the same alley where it all began.  But this time things were different.  The woman was screaming, but there was no one else around.

His eyes narrowed to slits behind his mask- “What’s going on?”

The woman smiled, but it didn’t touch her eyes. “Ah, the mysterious champion.  You’ve been interfering in my boss’ work far too much these past few weeks. Your interference will no longer be tolerated.  And once you’re dead, he can return to his work unimpeded.”

David chuckled. “Pardon the cliché, but you and what. . .”  The words died in his throat as he smelled the unmistakable brimstone smell of teleportation and the alley behind the woman filled up with menacing figures.  He turned, but they had teleported behind him as well.

With a roar, the mob closed in.  There was no room for finesse, nowhere to use his speed, no way to leverage his strength.  Punch and kick followed punch and kick as the mob closed in on him.  He could only be grateful that they hadn’t brought guns – stories of his uncanny agility had apparently spread and they were unwilling to risk hitting one of their own.

And as the crowd pressed in on him, he was reminded of the days spent in the straightjacket, gagged, unable to move.  Fighting the panic rising in his throat, he scanned the alley. There!

He used the last of his strength to throw off those who had swarmed him.  Then, crouching down, he jumped to a small window ledge on the right side of the street, and quickly, before his momentum could die, back across the alley to a fire escape.  Then it was up the fire escape, lose the mob as he leapt over the rooftops and home.

It seemed odd that they weren’t even trying to follow him, but David was too battered and bruised to care.  He reached the window of the halfway house, and stopped.  There, tied to the window he always used when he was playing hero was a small scroll, tied with a green ribbon.
_______________________________________________________________________________
Voices in the ether:

“Report.”

“We bruised and bloodied him, but he got away.”

“Good.”

“What? Boss? You’ve been going on about how we’ve needed to kill this clown for weeks now!  Takings were down 15% because of him, you said.”

“I know what I said, but the matter’s been taken out of my hands.  It seems our friend has powerful enemies. Even more powerful than me. And, for now, they want him alive. And they’re willing to pay us for the inconvenience.”

“It’s always the bottom line with you, boss.” Low chuckle.

“Yup.  Besides, they’ve assured me that if he caused too much trouble they have something prepared for him.  Something worse than death.”

“Allright, well, you’re the boss.”

“That I am. Over and out.”

Voices fade.
_____________________________________________________________________________
With shaking hands, David untied the scroll and read it:
“Dear Champion,

I have recently become aware of your activities and wish to offer my heartfelt encouragement to you and the steps you have already taken to help your fellow man.

I feel your recent emergence is something of providence as I have also recently become aware of a grave threat to our planet.  I can not reveal at this stage what this threat is.  This is not an effort on my part to appear mysterious and aloof as I simply can not ascertain the nature of the threat at this stage.  Still, I deem it prudent to begin to lay the ground work for a group of individuals who can stand ready to act once the threat becomes clear.

To this end I invite you to attend a meeting to discuss the coordination of your activities.  Please arrive at The Youngstown Public Library at 7:00 pm next Sunday.

Pardon the mysterious nature of this correspondence, but for the time being I deem it prudent to remain behind the scenes.  (Although in all honesty there is an element of appearing mysterious and aloof in this decision).

Sincerely yours,

A friend”

As he climbed in the window and headed for bed, David thought to himself- “I could use a friend about now.  Would’ve saved my bacon back there.  Plus, I can’t shake the funny feeling that I might not be alone; that the Gods might’ve chosen others.  I need more help if I’m to recover my memories. And I haven’t had a friend in a long, long time.”

He fell on his bed, still fully clothed, and as the darkness claimed him, he realized he probably wouldn’t have any dreams tonight.

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