The Pinocchio Effect
A summary of Issue #1: The Pinnocchio Effect adventure for OverWatch_Guardians of Sentinel City Campaign.
The adventure opened on a bright summer morning in Sentinel City‘s financial district.
A trio of third rate villains called Groundpounder, Adder Man and Shok Dok stole a lockbox from the 1st National Bank. As they were escaping, it looked like an OverWatch Mission Group had turned up to stop them. However, these OverWatch members allowed the villains to escape and started using their powers on innocent bystanders.
The actual OverWatch members (H E R C, O V N I, Roman Johnson and Livingstone the Gargoyle), watched the live SNN reports from the 1st National Bank in horror as evil duplicates of themselves began to tear through the city streets with careless abandon. Setting out to stop these evil versions of themselves, the team finally caught up with them at Legend Island Theme Park (a crummy old amusement park themed after the Living Legends).
During the ensuing fight, a couple of these ’impostors’ had their powers taken from them. These evil versions were actually full sized plastic toy versions of OverWatch teammates that had some kind of magic cast on them to make them into flesh. They functioned as constructs (sort of semi-intelligent flesh golems).
Meanwhile, the APEX Teens (Primal, Lupine, Shortcut and Fabustar) rounded up the escaping trio of bank robbers in the city sewers. The lock box they have in tow only had jewels in it (they didn’t appear to be magical or special in any discernible way).
Adder Man confessed that another lock box located above the one they took, was missing too. He had no idea why. The robbers claimed they were hired to steal their lock box by a mysterious client calling themselves ‘grape-vine’ via the internet. Adder Man and company were supposed to steal this box and hand it over at a rendezvous point tomorrow in return for 1.5 million dollars in cash. The strange thing was, the jewels in the lock box they took were worth only a quarter of the reward being payed for them.
Getting back to OverWatch Tower, both teams found that the base had been ‘locked down’ by the DNAgency (this is the governmental agency that keeps close tabs on super-being activities). DNAgency Director General Richard Ramos told the heroes not to panic and he was only at their base in order to take bio-scans to prove they were the actual versions of themselves. Occulus was temporarily taken offline and an alternative A.I. called RAMpart was installed in the Tower’s system.
Once Ramos was satisfied that the heroes were who they said they were he departed with his agents and purged the system of RAMpart, re-booting Occulus in the process.
Next, both teams had to deal with an interview on Sentinel Network News Live in order to placate the masses of citizens protesting about ’OverWatch’s assault in the city’. The teams did a good enough job to present evidence that ‘evil plastic versions of themselves turned to flesh’ had in fact been the culprits and not they themselves.
The APEX Teens took the lock box back to the bank. The bank manager thanked them for returning it to him promptly. He showed the team some footage from the bank vault 5 minutes prior to Adder Man and the others robbery. The footage clearly showed a figure in a black trench coat and outfit ‘jumping’ out of a security guard, taking a lock box from the vault wall and ‘jumping’ back into the guard who was facing the other way the whole time.
This lock box was in the name of someone called Evan Murphy, a 10 year old child. Evan’s father Todd, opened up a lock box account on his son’s behalf recently and made a deposit. The bank manager gave OverWatch the Murphy’s address.
The APEX Teens went to the Comics Cave the city’s best comic book emporium to speak to Quentin Cave the store owner and resident super-hero expert (earlier on that day Quentin had been bitten by Adder man as he and his two companions escaped the bank heist. The Apex Teens saved his life and the comic nerd invited them to his store whenever they needed information on anything super-related).
Whilst they were there, the heroes dug out an old back-issue of Mandragora the Mystic. In this issue, dated some eight years ago, Mandragora the medieval wizard was on the trail of the Mannequin (a super super-model [sic]) who’d raided a fashion show in a department store called Bloomingtons. He used an ancient magical Chinese staff called The Staff of False Life to bring the shop’s plastic dummies ‘alive’ and also to turn the rich ladies at the fashion show into plastic whilst he robbed them of their valuables before fleeing. Mandragora turned up too late to stop Mannequin, but managed to turn the dummies back into their original inert state and the ladies back into flesh and blood. Mannequin was never heard from again after that event, possibly entering retirement.
Also, in a current issue of Stormhawk, the heroes found out the identity of the mysterious black trench coat wearing person who was seen to jump ‘into’ and ‘out of’ the security guard in the bank vault CCTV footage. His name was Hitcher and his powers included the ability to ‘transmit’ himself through blood-streams and also to ‘hide’ inside flesh too.
OverWatch visited the Murphy’s address. Todd Murphy looked nervous as he answered the door. He seemed anxious that the lock box containing his son’s stolen property be returned.
When the team entered the house, they noticed all the blinds were drawn even though it was mid-afternoon. The reason for this was little Evan Murphy had a rare dermal condition that meant he had an extreme sensitivity to UV rays.
Todd began to relate the story of what was in his son’s lock box. He was visited on three separate occasions by a mysterious woman who Todd was sure he knew the name of, but just couldn’t quite remember it. Todd knew it was too much of a coincidence to keep bumping into this woman. She gave him a tip when he was visiting the horse races one day. The tip, a horse called ‘Ray of Sunshine’ came first and Todd made quite a lot of money from it. The woman couldn’t reveal how she knew this horse would win and she said she could never give him anymore tips.
The last time she visited she gave Todd’s son a very thin metal ‘case’ whilst he was at school. Todd took the case from Evan and read the note attached to it. It read: “This concerns Evan Murphy. Keep it safe. Do not open until 22nd September 2012. Any attempt to do so before this date will render the contents useless”. Todd deposited the case in the lock box to prevent temptation from opening it.
Just then, Hitcher and two black jump-suited guards bearing a web logo on their shoulders all jumped out of the OverWatch teammembers. Hitcher managed to jump through Todd’s wife Lorraine who was upstairs with Evan. Grabbing hold of Evan he jumped back through Lorraine and away. The two guards were captured and interrogated. They claimed they all worked for someone called the Web Master, some cyborg genius that monitors the flow of information on the internet, security cameras and media in general and is an information broker of sorts. They revealed that a client of Web Masters’ wanted Evan Murphy for some reason but they didn’t know why. They also didn’t know where Web Master currently resided since he often moved his base of operations apparently.
The next stop on OverWatch’s list was Mandragora the Mystic’s bizarre residence Hexguard Haven. Making an appointment to see the wizard with his current apprentice Joshua DeCarlo, the team headed up to the place at midnight.
The mystical magician appeared to them dramatically via a magical portal that linked Sentinel Station to his house.
During their long conversation with Mandragora, the team discovered that the staff used by the Mannequin during his fashion show heist was in fact the same ancient Staff of False Life secretly crafted by the first emperor of China’s vizier to animate the terra cotta warriors army after the emperor’s death.
Furthermore, the heroes learned that the Mannquin had been seen only once after the heist. Mandragora had secured CCTV footage of Mannequin attending a special event to unveil a new type of animatronic shop dummy. The dummy had been created by Edmund Childress, heir to the Child’s Play Toys empire. Mannequin was known to have been very interested in buying some of these dolls and Childress invited the super-model back to his warehouse in the Bayland Docks area. Mannequin and the Staff of False Life was never seen from that day forward.
When Edmund Childress’s name was mentioned to the heroes, they instantly remembered the name. Child’s Play Toys tried to secure a merchandizing deal with OverWatch some years ago. The Mission Group were in that meeting with Edmund Childress. The toy designer seemed too eager to produce toys based on the heroes. His prototypes though proved to be far too dangerous for young children. When OverWatch declined Edmund’s pitch, the toy maker was visibly upset by their dismissal.
Remembering this, the dime finally dropped for our heroes. It seemed that Edmund Childress might have created full-size plastic replicas of the OverWatch members who’d spurned him during that fateful meeting. If he was in possession of the Staff of False Life, it was also feasible that he had animated those same replicas into fleshy automatons ready to cause havoc and give the heroes a bad name. All the team needed now was evidence.
Acting on behalf of OverWatch, the Apex Teens visited the old Child’s Play Toys warehouse in the Bayland Docks which was the last known place that Mannequin had visited. Inside the run-down warehouse, the Teens found a life-size fort built of huge colourful Brikka Bloks (Sentinel City’s version of lego bricks). As the heroes entered the warehouse, they were attacked by all manner of tiny animatronic toys, all bearing deadly weapons.
Battling through waves of Sergeant Stans™, Death Dolls™ and Shreddy Bears™, the heroes managed to make their way into the fort’s keep. Inside, large display cases were located, all empty save one. The empty ones all bore name plaques with each of the OverWatch Mission Group’s names on it. The one that was occupied held Mannequin, frozen in a plastic state.
The heroes located a scrapbook made by Edmund Childress in the fort’s workshop, containing the rejection letter he received from OverWatch regarding the merchandizing meeting. News clippings with every major incident featuring the OverWatch Mission Group were glued into the scrapbook with nasty comments written in red by Edmund himself.
In a final chamber, thousands of dominoes were set up on the floor. As the Teens entered the room, a trap was triggered and the dominoes began to fall. The different coloured dominoes revealed a picture as they fell. The picture was a depiction of Grosvenor Dam, the site of the city’s major electrical generation plant. As the last domino fell, it hit a button in the center of the floor. The floor triggered a small rocket which came flying down from the ceiling. On the rocket, the logo of the fallen super-hero Streamline was emblazoned upon it. The rocket hit the floor destroying the dominoes room and part of the Brikka Blok™ fort in the process. Due to their hightened reflexes, the APEX Teens managed to escape the blast radius in time. Alerting their OverWatch brethren of the impending attack on Grosvenor Dam, the Teens headed back to base.
At the site of the great Dam, the OverWatch mission group began to survey the situation at hand. Parts of the dam wall had been turned into plastic Brikka Bloks™. Whilst the team dealt with the impending breaches in the dam wall (both O.V.N.I. and H.E.R.C. using their powers to fix the holes) and getting some of the electrical plant workers to safety (Livingstone air-lifting as many as he could carry on to dry land), they were suddenly surrounded. Hovering in the air around them, were not one, but three versions of Streamline (one in the classic blue costume, another in red and the last in green). The blue one threw a luxury yacht at the team and told them to desist in fixing the dam. A vicious melee began, during which H.E.R.C. was assaulted by all of the Streamline impostors at once. Livingstone used his eye-rays in a way he’d never done so before. He projected a kinetic blast at the red Streamline, blowing him apart completely. Such an attack demonstrated that these impostors were no way near as powerful as the original Streamline. All the OverWatch team focused their attacks on the remaining two duplicates, obliterating the blue one and sending the green one into Grosvenor Lake. The electrical hero E.M.P. awaited it, finishing green Streamline in an underwater ball of electricity.
Knowing that Edmund Childress might be close by, the OverWatch members began asking workers from the electrical plant if they’d seen anyone matching his description. They responded in the negative, though one of the workers remembered seeing the hero Jetstream entering the dam’s maintenance tower.
At the maintenance tower, the heroes finally came face to face with Jetstream, the son of the fallen Streamline. Roman Johnson, the manipulator of magic for the team detected two magical auras on Jetstream. Normally, Jetstream’s power suit was technological and powered by electricity, but Roman was detecting a magic suit of armour which in itself was suspicious. The other magical resonance came from the Staff of False Life itself. Jetstream began to explain how he’d found out about three impostor versions of his father on their way to the dam. When he arrived he said he found Edmund Childress using the staff on the dam walls, weakening it by turning the stone into Brikka Bloks™. He then claimed to have knocked Edmund out and flew him to the nearest detention facility.
Roman Johnson quietly contacted Occulus back at OverWatch Tower to confirm the current whereabouts of Jetstream, Indeed, the real Jetstream was back at the base. The one at Grosvenor Dam was an impostor.
Seeing that the ruse wasn’t successful, the fake Jetstream took off at great seed into the air, with the OverWatch team in close pursuit. A shot from one of H.E.R.C.‘s power suit cannons destroyed part of the rogue’s faceplate, revealing a scared looking Edmund Childress underneath, Edmund then began hastily explaining to the heroes that had they tyaken his merchanizing offer years ago they could have avoided all this. All he wanted was to be close to his idols. Since they rejected him, he was determined to ruin their reputations, stealing the Staff from Mannequin and breathing life into life-size plastic creations of them that he’d built himself. Since that plan hadn’t completely worked, he was now going to move onto his next phase, to turn his ‘idols’ into plastic using the Staff and displaying them forever in his fortress. He was now to become Play_Thing, a new nemesis for the group. As he began to aim the Staff of False Life at the heroes, Livingstone the Gargoyle flew up behind him, grappled him and turned him to stone. The Staff remained in it’s natural state, being too powerful to be turned by the Gargoyle’s petrification power.
Edmund Childress was placed in cryogenic suspension inside the Big Freeze, Sentinel State’s Super-Villain Detention facility.
At the facility, two scientists in DNAgency coats were noticed by the OverWatch team members taking samples from the frozen forms of Adder-Man and Shok Dok, for some unknown purpose.
With the aid of Mandragora The Mystic, Roman Johnson enacted a ritual that banished the Staff of False Life into the Nega_Zone where it would remain in that empty dimension of negative energy.
Finally, Todd Murphy, whose son Evan had been kidnapped by Hitcher earlier on, came to OverWatch Tower to ask the heroes help in training him in order to better find his child. The team couldn’t allow Todd access to training at the Tower because he’d displayed no special powers or a high level of ability in anything so far. However, after discussion, it was decided that the team might train Todd outside the walls of the Tower whenever they could spare the time. When they sought out Todd to give him this news, he’d already left his home, without telling his wife, or anyone else where he was going…