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Tögöl aj Akhui, Mongolia, Edge of the Gobi Desert


The town was a small place one where people would normally just travel through on the way to somewhere else, but today the town was home to a variable army of trucks. Not by choice though the various convoys should be well on there way to one of the larger cities of Mongolia or even China, but the spooked drivers refused to travel any further, even for the silly money the Westerners were offering.


The day had started well until the region they’d travelled into was hit by a number of small, but disturbing, number of earthquakes. A rumble went through the various local drivers and hand that the Olgoi-khorkhoi were angry for some transgression, the famed Death Worms.


This was really quite good for the SuperCrime! crowd who had been trying to track down the elusive creature, and the apparently always frazzled producer was trying to get more information from a rather Grizzled Mongolian who seemed to know more about the creature.

Wayward’s crew however were talking about the possibility of hiring an helicopter to get to the next scheduled concert.

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Val was never one to fret the fine details when traveling.  She can trust her team, and enjoy the ride.  Good scenery, nice weather- if you ignore the earthquakes- and a lovely driver.  Near as Val can tell, the only words of English she knows are "okay" and "Coka-Cola," so she opts to let Marianne do the talking, taking her seat all the way back to make some room.  Her back's probably going to have some choice words with her in forty years for scrunching into such an awkward position, but she's played in worse.  She just plucks away across the landscape, idly wondering if her driver's part of the tribe.  Some smiles, some body language, some pointed glances, all get a maybe.  Or perhaps the music just makes for a better drive.


I wonder what her name is?


When the team comes to a stop, Val stays out of it at first.  If it goes on long enough, then she can get curious.  Before long, she ends up strumming Marianne on the roof of her jeep, listening in on some of the conversations around her. 'Helicopter' catches her attention.  Yeah, this delay ain't normal.  Probably something about the Earthquakes.


Are earthquakes normal in Mongolia?


Eh, geography was never her thing.


So, the rockstar hops off her perch and walks over to her producer.  "Hey, Hank!  What's up?" she asks her producer.  Sure, what she's about to hear will probably be more venting than useful information, but she can sift.

Edited by Blue Rose
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There was a time, when they were younger, that a delay like this would have left Fast-Forward (and by extension Hologram, because she'd have had to deal with it) an increasing combination of bored and frustrated, no doubt zipping around their convoy and sniping at everyone, or perhaps rushing off into the Desert alone and getting himself hurt. But he was a grown man now, the father of a young man heading off to college, past fifty himself, and that meant he had a certain amount of maturity. And so it was that when Hologram went looking for him, psionically or otherwise, she found him back in their rented RV, entertaining the wide-eyed kids of their local-unit producer (Garid, a film school grad from Ulan Bataar they'd hired for the shoot) with exaggerated stories about the adventures of Hologram and Fast-Forward. 


If this keeps up, he suggested in between stories of how Hologram and Fast-Forward had defeated Archer by the clever application of a glue bomb to his pants, let's just take the cameras into the desert ourselves. You can feel anything coming long before those damn sonar detectors can, and I can get us out of the way of anything that isn't an angry Velocity. He had a few other ideas about what they could get up to in the desert while they were at it, assuming they brought along camping gear and found a suitably comfortable nighttime spot, but nothing he was going to dwell on while they were both having conversations with other people. Not that he was worried about anyone listening in, so far from any telepaths, but he liked to have Paige's undivided attention for this kind of mental conversation. 

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~It's only been a few hours,~ Paige pointed out soothingly as she finished checking emails on her phone. ~The guys are still quizzing the locals, hoping we can get some color segments from folks who know the mythology. That's better than taking off into the desert to shoot B-roll of sand and find nothing at all.~ She opened the fridge of their little trailer and pulled out some yogurt tubes for the kids, and a bottled water for herself. "You know, that's not actually how it happened. It wasn't a glue bomb so much as it was a super-glue puddle, so that when he landed in it, they had to cut away his pants to free him. It was all very embarrassing. But those days are long gone," she assured the kids, tongue firmly in her cheek. "Hey, have either of you seen the musicians on the other side of the square?" she asked the kids. "It looks like there's going to be a concert somewhere." 

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Hank was as seemed incredibly stressed at the whole things, though he never seemed happier than when things were going bad.


“Some old guy’s throwing a fit about something, though nobody seems to know what he’s babbling about.”


“Sorry to interfere but I couldn’t help but overhear. I think I can I help.”


The speaker looked like a local sat at an outdoor cafe looking onto the square, drinking one of the strange drinks the locals seemed to enjoy. She was rather traditionally dress in clothes suitable for desert travel and was sat with a rather less traditionally dressed young woman who was listening to something as she typed away on her cell phone.


“He’s speaking a language you don’t normally see this far south, I happen to understand it if you want me to try and translate?” her english was impeccable without any trace of an accent.


“Sure you welcome to try, our translator seem to be at a loss anyway.”


With a cheery nod the woman stood up from the table, well more unfolded, she would stand out anywhere being a good head a shoulder above anyone in the square. The local seemed to be use to her prescence but those from the convoy's could help but stare at the woman. Including the old man who looked at her with a measure of wonder and fear and for a few seconds stopped what he had been saying.

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Val thanks nothing in particular that Hank doesn't snap at the woman.  They'd had the honey and vinegar talk before.  Good guy, but he can get grumpy in a hurry.


"Thank you.  We're trying to get to our next show, and we're not entirely sure why we're stopped here."  With a gaze around the place, she adds, "Or everyone else, for that matter."


She offers her hand with a smile, a black studded leather bracelet flashing in the sunlight.  "Valerie Cain."  International crowd.  Can't guarantee the same level of recognition.  And it's good to keep things professional.  At least for the first couple minutes.  "It's a pleasure Miss-"

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GM Post


With a polite knock Garid entered the Cline's trailer. After calming his kids, who seemed to want to tell him all the stories told to them in rapid succession, he gently sent them back to sit down.


"So it seems that one of the elder drivers was spooked but the tremors, and the others won't move until he's happy. But he's been talking in a language that no one else understands, well until now..." he paused for a moment not quite believing what he'd just seen "Apparently there's this giant of a woman who's trying to talk to him. Are you days normally this crazy?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Oh no, not at all," Paige assured Garid with a blithe smile. "Sometimes things really get exciting. If you need someone to communicate with him, I can go out and speak with him, I should be able to get his language from his mind without much trouble. And well, if there's a giant woman, I certainly want to see that!" She winked at the kids, then held up a hand to beckon her husband. "Shall we?" 


As they stepped out of the trailer, Paige looked around and opened her mind to Richard. ~If the drivers are spooked, we might need to arrange for alternate transportation. What do you think the odds are on getting ourselves a van out this far?~

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At his wife's side, Richard reached down and took her hand briefly, for a moment just like the teenager stealing moments with his girl between crimes. ~We've got superpowers, we've got money and cameras, and we're Americans - the world is our oyster.~ He grinned, but wasn't really kidding, between their experience and their powers, it was tough to get one over on either of them - and they could talk people into all kinds of things. ~Worst comes to worst, you sit in the driver's seat and I'll push it up to speed. What's the worst that could happen?~ They both knew the answer to that one. Looking around the square, he caught sight of the conversation in question. ~Hey, that woman is pretty big!~ Casually, he took out the small portable camera that was one of his few concessions to modern technology, letting Paige with her mental powers handle the potential conversation with people whose language he didn't speak. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

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With everyone arriving there was a round of introductions as Klara quickly explained the situation and who she was. Then with a little encouraging the old began to tell his tale, deftly translated by Klara:


I come from a small village in the foothills of the Altai mountains one steeped with tradition and tales of the spirits that filled the world around us. Every now and then a few were born with the ability to sense spirit’s moods, shaman touched they were called, and I had such a gift. I could have stayed and learned the ways of the mountains, but I was young and wanted to explore the world. But even now I get the odd feeling when a nearby spirit or beast is unhappy, normally it’s nothing but today I felt something both amazing and frightening.


With the earthquakes I got the feeling that something, something far below the Earth is unhappy about something and unless something is done they wish to do harm to those above on the surface. I think they might have had something taken from them, though I don’t know for sure I only get the vaguest of impressions.


Klara put a comforting hand upon the old man shoulder and turned to the other gathered heroes.

“As out there as it sound I believe he’s telling the truth. And I think I know a place where we could try and talk to these spirits, if any of you are up to a journey into the desert?”

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Val blinks.


"Well," she takes a moment to process, images of wispy ghosty things bouncing around a circle going kumbaya.  "Sounds fun."


She slides a finger into one of the bracelets at her wrist and hits a button, activating the hovercam rig which emerges from some crates in a jeep.


"Hey, Hank!" she calls back to her producer.  "Going on a spirit quest in the desert!  Sounds like a stolen holy thing is making angry magic weirdness.  Should be some good footage.  Work on that helicopter in case that goes badly."


Her hand slides into her pocket and, with a flick of the wrist, she produces a full-sized metal staff to use as a walking stick, "Just lemme grab a canteen and we're good to go," she smiles up at Klara.  A long way up.  Rare to see a woman anywhere near that tall, and built like that?  Val's used to being the bigger, stronger woman, with a pretty girl in her arms.  The chance to be the pretty girl in those arms?  Now there's a rare opportunity.


The star only puts a little effort into keeping her unclean thoughts from her face.

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Paige coughed lightly with a glance in Val's direction, but was all business again a second later. "We're definitely on board," she told Klara. "It may or may not be the Death Worms we were looking for, but it sounds like a hell of a story. And if we can help out the people in this area, so much the better. We just need an hour or so to gather our film crew and get the gear together. Oh, and if you know of any drivers who aren't at all superstitious, that might be helpful," she added. "Do you think we have enough clip mics?" she asked Richard. "I think we have at least three in the sound kit." 

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That gets Val's attention.  Before Hank can go all angry bear like he is wont to do when something unexpected happens, Val puts a hand up to tell him to wait, then walks up to the stranger.


"Excuse me," she calls.  "Sorry, we may have to sort through a couple things first."  She gestures at a camera hovering behind her.  "My producer gets prickly on this sort of stuff.  I can promise my lawyers won't get in the way of you using your footage if you can promise the same.  We can deal with the paperwork later.  Fair?"  She offers her hand to shake.

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"Hey, big man, no worries," said Richard, giving a wink to Hank before turning to Val. "Sure thing, honey," he told the young woman with reassurance, "talk to our producers all about it." He zipped over to help gather supplies, his blurs of motion making it abundantly clear that Wayward wasn't the only metahuman about - not that Hologram and Fast-Forward weren't instantly recognizable to most superpeople who owned a television! 


Frank Devil, the big, balding first unit director for Supercrime!, took charge of the business negotiations with Wayward's people, the soft-spoken man proving to drive a hard bargain with his fellow audiovisual professionals. After all, this was potentially some valuable stuff! With him doing the negotiating, Richard and Paige used telepathic signals and good old-fashioned running to reach their scattered crew, making sure everyone was heading back now that the situation had just gotten more interesting. 


Returning with clip mics, Fast-Forward made sure everyone had one; and that his wife had her favorite vanilla water from the cooler in the back of the big van. He turned to the ladies, then suddenly blinked as he looked up at Warrior Woman. "Hey, I know you! You used to work out of London, right? You probably don't remember me, it was about forty years ago and I was with my ma, and, ha-hah, old times, right?" he asked with a grin. The Big Ben caper was long in the past. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

“I’ve got an old Soviet truck that should fit quite a few comfortable, I need quite a bit of legroom as you can guess.” she grinned at her own joke “I’ve got a guide who know a lot of the less touristy sites, we should be able to find a sacred spot where we can contact these spirits.”


She pointed to the young woman who was listening to music oblivious to the whole fuss going on around them. Klara got the young woman attention.


“This is Arslan, I’m afraid she doesn’t speak much English” she switched flawlessly to Russian to speak with the woman <”I want you to take these people to that Shaman Stone you said was nearby.”>


<”But I thought you wanted to go straight to the Altay border?”>


<”Well this is far more important, besides I’ve got plenty of time.”>


With a little wave the young woman went off to prepare for the journey ahead of them.


With everything set into motion Klara had nothing to do but wait, though with Fast Forward around she didn’t really have to wait for long. She remember her encounter with him and his mother rather well, she’d been down in London to do some rather mundane paperwork for the Ministry and hadn’t been meant to leave the building. Tracy had been so made at her for that, though it had been a lot of fun making up that night. She smiled and looked rather wistful for a few moment enjoying the memory.

“Ah yes Clock Queen wasn’t it? Is your mother okay?” she asked with a little caution, a lot could change in what seem like no time at all for her.

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  • 2 weeks later...

By the time the SuperCrime! crew had all their gear stashed and their plans laid out, it looked as though everyone else was pretty much ready to go as well. The habitual half-an-eye Paige kept on Richard told her that he was handling inter-group relations for the moment, so she went ahead and did a quick video piece by the vans, explaining what they'd arranged, then cleared out to let her guys pick up a little B-roll of the caravan that was assembling. "We're ready," she called up to Richard and the others. "We should get rolling before we risk losing the light." 

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GM Post


Traveling in the truck was a rather uncomfortable experience the temperature inside getting almost unbearably hot and the ride not being the most comfortable of experience. The scrubland that surrounded the town they’d left soon turned into the full desert, though the truck seemed to cope without much effort. Although there seemed to be no landmarks of any kind there guide seemed to be able to navigate the terrain without any problems, though it hard to tell if it was passed down knowledge or some other sense.


After a couple of hour of uncomfortable travel there apparent destination came into view a semi cicle of rock that over hung a section of desert.It sparled and shone in the sunlight having some form of crystal running through the rock.

There was definitely something special about this place, even the less sensitive could sense something about the place. Paige could however sense even more detecting a rhythmic sounds almost like music, though it was muffled like it came from a very long distance.

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Fast-Forward had kept up an animated conversation during the first half-hour of the ride, then become quiet, almost contemplative. Paige could hear Richard performing the meditative exercises she'd taught him, in this case a cultivation of compassion that saw him teaching Holly how to climb a tree. (He didn't do well with mindfulness contemplation, his stray thoughts tending to wander in exciting directions when he wasn't paying attention.) At the sight of the rocky overhang, though, he snapped 'awake' and began taking pictures, then video with his pocket camera; trusting his wife to handle the heavier stuff. With their mental connection, he already had an idea that there was something strange going on here. 

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Paige began drumming her fingers absently to the rhythm several minutes before her mind caught up with it. It was a strange feeling, an itch in the back of the brain, but not painful, and not obviously malevolent. "We're definitely getting close to something," she observed aloud. "I can hear... it's like distant music, almost, but it's with my psychic senses and not my ears. Anybody else feeling something odd?" She leaned forward to try and get a better view of the landmark they were approaching. "Well, that'd definitely get my vote for "Best Probably-Supernatural Landscape Feature. Tommy, are you getting footage as we approach?" Tommy, who had been sticking his head and camera out the window for several minutes already, gave her a thumbs-up with his free hand. 

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Arslan slipped off her headphones a slightly surprised look on her face at this turn of events.


“I can feel something, like a tingling at the back of the skull.” she spoke  English with a heavy accent, a few of the various film crew apparently had a similar feeling but none as strong as Paige.

“My people have pacts with many creatures and spirits in this area, the rock somehow helped with conversations with such things.” Klara explained in a fairly matter of fact like this was an everyday thing “I know the ritual word to contact such them but I’m no shaman, if you’re confident to do so them I could teach you how to call these dwellers below.”


The desert around them was a flurry of activity as various film crews set up equipment and got various shot of the stark but beautiful desert that stretched in every direction around them. 

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Val travels along, taking any distraction from the heat.  Some light small talk, and a lot of quality time with Marianne, the guitar that's been with her since the beginning.  Nothing fancy.  Just relaxing and doing what comes naturally, letting the music come, humming and strumming a tune.  But it's a little different today, like this little spark of inspiration, a tune coming of its own accord.  Odd song, though, not something she'd normally think of.  Must be the setting, getting the creative juices flowing, but this one will take some work.


Yet the farther they go, the more her tune takes shape into something she isn't aiming for.  She tries for some tweaks, but every time she tries to relax and let her version flow, it goes back just the way it was.


When the group finally reaches their destination, she's had enough of the heat.  She ditches the cargo pants in favor of the black compression shorts underneath, and slides her collapsible staff into the band.  But she doesn't let go of Marianne.  She gets out, guitar in hand, still playing the song as she joins the gathering group.

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Delighted for the chance to finally be out of the car, Richard zipped out with his camera, taking pictures with one hand while reaching into his leather jacket with the other. Hmming at the sight of the strange rock formation, he pulled out a slim, leather-bound volume and began flipping through it at super-speed with his free hand. There were plenty of things on Earth that were magic that _weren't_ in his book of starry spells - but it never hurt to double-check. "So you guys are both hearing music?" he called to Paige and Val, putting his book away for a moment to brush his hair out of his eyes where the wind had blown it. He kept zipping around as he talked, wooshing from one side of the car to the other, keeping a conversation going with the people inside. "What kind?" he asked curiously. "Does it sound local?" 

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  • 3 weeks later...

"Hard to say," Paige admitted, her face turned up as though she were listening intently to something. "It sounds far away, like a boom boom car three blocks away, sound you feel as much as see. But it's rhythmic, intentional. Do you think I should start broadcasting, see if anything out there is listening back?" She wasn't entirely sure she was ready to go borrowing trouble in a situation like this, and her psychic talents tended to make lousy television, but sometimes all those concerns had to be set aside in favor of actually getting something done. "I could do a general "We come in peace" thing." 

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Klara though for a while about the various rituals she’d attended before she left home, wishing she’d pay more attention to what the Religious caste said about things like this. But then again, she hadn’t expected her life to turn out exactly as they did. Still the warnings she did remember they tended to repeat things like that, not wanting so idiot summoning something nasty.


“Some spirits can get upset if you don’t use the correct formal greetings, whilst others don’t mind at all. I think the fact that you can sense it means we’ll probably be okay, but this really isn’t my main field of expertise.”

If it was unfriendly then they’d get to see her main field of expertise, but she’d rather not have to resort to that.

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While Klara is talking the finer points of greeting spirits, Val gets to work greeting spirits.


She has a guitar.  She has an amp in the jeep.  It has a battery.


Even as Klara is talking, Val is behind her setting up the hello, turning her amp up to 11.  It isn't actually any louder than 10, but it makes her feel better.


With a breath, she takes Marianne in hand and just plays whatever comes to her.  Let's see if these things respond to their own music.

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