5838/Doppelgang: The Story Changes

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Doppelgang: The Story Changes
Date of Scene: 03 April 2021
Location: Planet Herowood - Times Square
Synopsis: Terry consults with alt-Colette on the latest info from the Doppelgang schemes. She informs him that the gate Doppelgang are making seems to be designed to be very big, but there's something up with the magical aspects of their design that needs further analysis. Terry suggests they find a graduate of Hogwarts to ask, and she totally believes him.
Cast of Characters: Colette O'Connail, Terry O'Neil

Colette O'Connail has posed:
    The Vesuvio Shipping Company building had been empty, or more properly emptied. In several places around the office were signs of charring, as of something getting very hot, presumably the traces of Il Mutante destroying an evidence that couldn't be easily carried away. The Tarxien Sunrise was a wreck lying on the seabed and proving to be a shipping hazard that would have to be removed, but there was little hope that the recovered vessel would provide any useful information - divers had already reported that the interior of the engine room was thoroughly destroyed, and the machine that was being worked on there was little more than molten slag.

    It's fortunate then that Bart had managed to recover four laptops, and a set of plans had been recovered from one of them which prove to be a more complete version of the plans recovered from the raid on the church.

    With this new information, and some first-hand experience of Il Mutante, it had seemed like a good idea for Vorpal to return to the source. As Colette's doppelganger seemed resistent to the idea of visiting Titan's Tower, the arrangement had been made to meet at Herowood. It's usually a good place for hero types to have meetings because they can appear in costume and are usually ignored by people assuming they are cosplayers. The risk is that it's also frequented by cape fans, some of whom are smart enough to spot the real capes amongst the fakes.

     Colette's doppelganger isn't even cosplaying as her this-world-self, being perhaps the only known doppelganger who has been trying to differentiate themselves. On the other hand this world's Colette is hardly in the public eye, and the only person she has to worry about being identified by is... herself.

    Doppel-life is complicated.

    Alt-Colette arives ten minues after the appointed time. Contrary to the habits of Colette, she has shown a tendency to arrive late for places rather than early, despite her markedly more advanced skill with teleportation. This may be a character trait, but it might equally be tactical. It's hard to be sure. However when she arrives, she hovers around uncertainly, scanning the tables for any signs of Vorpal and attempting to avoid the attention of the wait staff, so it's entirely possible she was just desperately trying to avoid being the first person to turn up.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
Terry is somewhat in the public eye- being the only reporter who is also a public superhero means you have to resort to some subterfuge. Fortunately for Terry, his feline self is a lot more distinctive than his human side, which was one pale, red-headed 'boy next door' not unlike others. While dedicated fans might spot him easily as a human (and he continues to refuse to believe he has any of /those/), most of the times he's been singled out as a human it has been people mistaking him for... Jimmy Olsen.

Of course, Lois has never let him hear the end of it.

This is why, when intending to meet in public with sources, Terry has gotten in the habit of disguising his appearance. In this case, it is illusion magic. A very non-descript young man with brown hair, brown eyes, and an ensemble in beiges and earthen tones waves at her from a booth. Once he catches her eye, he drops the illusion for the space of one eyeblink so she can see he is at the booth, and he gestures for her to approach and sit down.

"I took the liberty of ordering milkshakes. You like chocolate, I hope?" he says when she approaches.

Colette O'Connail has posed:
    When she spots Terry's illusion-drop, Colette makes her way quickly to the booth, slipping past a waiter who's trying to gain her attention. He starts to follow her for a couple of steps before deciding she knows where she's going and leaving her to it.

    Alt-Colette slips into a seat opposite Terry, studying him carefully for a few moments. She's a little better dressed today than she has been on prior meetings - not regular Colette level, but a decent enough pair of jeans and a rather nice sweatshirt that looks like it probably doesn't come from a thrift shop. Either she's got herself a bit more money or she's making a special effort because she's going to this fancy, expensive eaterie.

    "Uh. Yeah, chocolate milk is fine," she replies. She pats down on the cushioned seat with the palms of both hands, then shuffles herself along the seat a little. "Thank you. So you said you had some information about Il Mutante?"

Terry O'Neil has posed:
"Yup!" Terry says, reaching for the satchel he had placed next to him. "We ran into him. Strong little asshole- and his firemaking powers are certainly fancy. He was on a ship of fools and it sank, but I'm sure we'll see him again. In the process, we ran into a /second/ Superboy, so that's fun, but here--"

He slides a tablet across to her, "One of our speedsters, Impulse, managed to recover some laptops before it all went to hell. And you won't believe what he found there!"

Has he been practicing writing clickbaity headlines for the Planet's online content? Maybe. "I'm curious to see what you make of this."

Colette O'Connail has posed:
    "What /did/ he find there?" Colette asks curiously, apparently innocent to the ways of clickbait headline writing. She accepts the tablet, turns it on and starts reading. "You ran into him? You shouldn't have faced him without me there, Terry. I warned you, he's dangerous. Really dangerous. I don't know who Superboy is - a friend of yours? He has a double from my world too?"

    As she scrolls up through the plans copied from the laptop, she idly picks up her shake and steers the straw to her mouth. After a few moments a puzzled expression spreads over her face and she pulls the straw from her mouth, sets the drink down, and stirs it with the straw. "Uh. This milk is kind of... thick," she comments.

    She lifts the straw from her drink, watching as globs of thick shake drop off the end of it and back into the glass. "Was anyone hurt?" she asks. "If not, you were lucky. Il Mutante likes hurting people. And he's good at it. Really good at it. In my world... he hurt a lot of people."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
"I know he's dangerous, Colette, but you've got to give me some credit. I mean, I helped Earth stop a major alien invasion... I'm not Superman-level invincible, but you have to work /really/ hard to kill me."

"I mean, I can get hurt, yeah. But I've gotten very good at avoiding that, mostly... and I don't think there'd be a Superboy in your world. It sounds like Kara Zor-El was the only surviving Kryptonian over there, and she was... you know."

He grins, "It's not chocolate, it's a milkshake. It's made by blending milk, ice cream, and flavorings like fudge, syrup and whatnot. Once you get used to how thick it is, you can get used to how yummy it is."

The disguised Cheshire grins and tilts his chin in the direction of the tablet, "So... what do you make of that?"

Colette O'Connail has posed:
    "Ice cream," Colette repeats dubiously, continuing to stir her shake. "I'm sorry Terry, I didn't mean to doubt you. I'm just worried. Aside from Zor-El and... one or two other people, Il Mutante might have been the most powerful person on my world."

    She makes another attempt to suck milkshake through the straw, struggling to get used to how much suction is required. After a few moments she puts the drink down again and looks thoughtful. "It does taste good," she agrees finally. "But it's a lot of effort. They should serve it with a spoon or something."

    She returns to studying the tablet, scrolling down some more, then quickly back up to check something she'd already scrolled past, and down again. "No, the Kryptonians all murdered each other when Zhed'Zhud'Ger'Uth took over their minds, shortly after they arrived. Zor-El was the strongest. There's a rumor she kept one of them alive, as a kind of pet, so that might be your Superboy. On our world though, your friend probably got murdered by his own people. Sorry. We did have a Superman, but not any Superboy that I heard off."

    Colette takes the straw out of her glass and attempts drinking the shake directly, but soon gets frustrated at how slowly it pours and resumes energetic straw use as she continues to scroll through the data on the laptop. "Hmm," she says finally. "This is... odd."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
A glowing, purple spoon is offered to Colette. "They usually do give you a spoon. But I've noticed that our servers seem to be a little on the overworked side. It's what happens after the first burst of the weekend."

By way of explanation, he adds "I worked as a waiter for a little bit during my last year of high school. I wanted to buy myself a PS5. But I ended up buying a bike instead," he chuckles.

He doesn't mention the fate of the Kryptonians any further. He doesn't want to know, obviously. "Yeah. I saw what he could do with his fire. He's clearly extremely dangerous." He steeples his fingers and raises an eyebrow. "Can he make oceans boil, though? Especially while he's /under/ them? But... what is odd? Did Gar install that screensaver with my embarrassing photos from New Year's eve?" because of course someone took pictures after Phoebe did her thing.

Colette O'Connail has posed:
    Colette looks dubiously at the spoon, and demurs. "Uh, thanks but... when in Rome, right?" Maybe it's the purple glow. "Are we going to get food here?" she inquires hungrily as an afterhtought.

    "He couldn't boil a whole ocean, I don't think," she says. Hopefully the 'I don't think' is just a manner of speech. "But he could certainly boil the bit of an ocean around him. He can easily generate heat faster than it would spread through an ocean."

    She spins the tablet around, scrolling to one of the diagrams. "Look, I'm not a great engineer or anything, but this bit... generating a gateway consumes a fair bit of power. They're scaling up the power draw by... a lot. We guessed that from what we saw in the church place, right? Like they're builing a really big gate or something. The regular gates are basically big enough for one or two people to go through at a time, but they can be scaled up. I know your SHIELD guys have one big enough to fly aircraft through. What they are aiming at here... well, it looks to me like they're going for something bigger than that. We don't really /have/ much that's bigger than that. A few bomber aircraft, a few ships. But there are missiles, and missiles are big. So he could be intending to fire a missile at this world. But I don't see the advantage in it. My guess would be that he's planning to steal something really big and take it back to our world. Dumb. He should be stealing these," she says, picking up the tablet. "Or laptops. Phones. Ice Cream. There are lots of things here that we don't exactly have in our world. "

    She lowers the tablet and resumes scrolling. "But the thing is... hmm. The thing is that they aren't doing anything to scale up the magical interface. I wish I understood this stuff better, but essentially our portals create a kind of fracture in reality, and that's what takes energy. Bigger fracture, more energy needed, right? But the magical component is what... well it's how you turn a fracture into a hole between two different worlds. There doesn't appear to be any modification to the magical component of this, and I don't really see how it would work."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
"Okay. Oceans are out- so maybe I'll airlock him if he decides to get saucy." Terry grins, "Can't create fire without oxygen, right? Ooh... you know, I could try to trap him in a construct bubble, but anyways..."

He taps his chin, "So the magical component is not being changed. But reason, as much as anything such as reason can aply to magic, dictates that it should be scaled as well. So maybe Il Mutie has secured the services of a sorcerer... or is expecting to secure such services... to provide a little external modification? In a pinch, a magical relic of the right nature can be used as well, and there's... well, an indeterminate number of those floating about the place at any one time."

He leans back and grabs a menu, "And yep, we're eating here, so order whatever you want- my treat! I recommend the SuperBurger with a side of Flash Fries."

Colette O'Connail has posed:
    Colette picks up the menu and stares at it for about ten seconds before putting it down again. "Uh, SuperBurger with Flash Fries sounds perfect," she says with a smile. "Thank you. You guys seem to eat a lot of hamburgers here. I mean I do too, since I got here. Hamburgers and Chinese pasta. I keep thinking about how many cows you guys must have in America. I mean you consume a lot of beef. And there are so many people here - I don't know what the population is on my world, but I wouldn't be totally surprised if you had more people in your country than I have on my planet. Your herds must be spectacular. I'd like to see one before I go home."

    She scrolls up again, spins the tablet back around, and slides it over to Terry again. "I'm not certain the magical component hasn't been changed, but it hasn't been scaled in the way I would have expected. I'm sorry, I'm not really good at magic. I should be better. I'm made of magic, I should know more about it. Didn't have much opportunity to study it, though. If I'd stayed... well, doesn't matter. This part here though, this deals with the magical interfacing. And this isn't changed. I would expect it to be, so yeah. Maybe they are tweaking the spell in some way. If you know any sorcerers, I'd get them to take a look at the spell and see if they can see what modifications have been made, if any. I might be able to figure it out with a bit of time, I did bring a copy of the spell - though it's a slightly different model of the gate. I can send you what I have if it would help."

    Colette resumes her assault on the shake, which keeps her silent a few moments. "I have no idea what airlocking or construct bubbles are, by the way," she comments during a time out between milkshake bouts.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
"When we've sent Il Mutante packing, I can show you around. Give you the tour of the U.S., Europe, you name it. Asf for the airlocking and... Oh... you don't need to worry about those. They're just... things I can do. Potentially. But as far as sorcerers go... I only really know two: Raven and Amanda Sefton. Raven..." he drums his fingers on the table, "We can consult on this, but she tends to dislike interruptions. Amanda did provide me with some assistance before, so we could try her as well. I'll leave the choice up to you and we can arrange another meeting with them. I don't know if sorcerers collaborate or if they're territorial like cats... I, too, am made of magic, but I only have the instinctual knowledge, nothing so much as the academic understanding proper people who went to Hogwarts get. Or whatever."

He finishes sipping up his milkshake.