Yellow Brick Row, Emerald City
Jeremy Cobbler was not enjoying the game of Caverns and Creatures and wished he was someplace else at the moment.
This was only his second gaming session since he was invited to join The Garage Gamers Group, a group made up of dedicated role playing gamers who met every weekend at The Garage, a gaming shop located in the Yellow Brick Row. The 3G members played everything from fantasy games like Caverns and Creatures to their favorite, Mutants & Masterminds, a fast paced superhero RPG with an easy learning curve to it.
Richard Raynland, the group’s Game Master had invited a new player to the table. But the newbie, who even appeared in a cosplay outfit resembling a wizard—with component bags around his waist to boot—was quickly turning the usually fun experience into a disaster. Jeremy didn’t like the guy who insisted on being called “Lord Eric” by everyone. He was a rules lawyer and was even worse than Zack Lore, the resident 3G member who knew every rule in every published gaming book the group used. Joe Amsterdam, a member who only played suicidal barbarian brutes in every type of game, was at his wits end with Eric. The three tall cans of liquid-sugar Mobster energy sodas he loved so much were clearly not helping calm his nerves. Even Justin Wellstone and Richard Skald, two fairly reserved veteran 3G members were about to call it quits after a rough 5 hour session in which they had failed to wipe out the goblin warrens and retrieve the magical holy artifact the Goblin King and his minions had stolen from the nearby town of Sandpoint.
Meanwhile, Jacob Matthews was busy looking at the cool miniature figurines that filled up rows and rows of shelf space in The Garage. Next to the Comic Relief, a comic book shop located across the street, The Garage was his favorite place to hang out when his mother would drop him off on weekends while she met with friends at a nearby cafe.
He couldn’t wait to join the famous Garage Gamers Group. He approached them once but they said he was still a bit too young to join a group made up of members whose ages ranged from the mid twenties to over fifty. Both Richard Raynland and Richard Skald, who had kids of their own, offered to help Jacob form his own gaming group.
Jacob appreciated the idea. Except he wasn’t sure if he could find kids his age who would be willing to join his roleplaying group. Ever since his mother took him and left his dad without saying a word one night while they were staying at a roadside motel, his life had been a mess.
He didn’t know much about his dad except that Jacob’s mom—a woman who wasn’t really his mother—told him that his father had unique talents like Jacob, but more powerful. Jacob always knew he was different. He didn’t fit in, even in the private school where his ‘mother’, Jean Matthews had enrolled him.
Although Jean wouldn’t share anything with Jacob, he learned after reading her mind one night that she was afraid of the Others and Jacob’s own father finding Jacob and taking him back to the institution where they performed horrible experiments on kids like Jacob just so they can turn them into something terrible when they grew older.
Just as Jacob was about to leave The Garage and head over to the Comic Relief, a loud, heart-stopping sound of an explosion and shattering glass along with the accompanying shock struck without warning. Within moments, a strange cloud of silvery mist blanketed the surrounding area outside. Jacob ran to a nearby shattered window to look outside.
He saw people starting to panic and run in all directions as a large cloud above began to swirl without any evident prompting from the wind. It whipped itself into a cyclonic mass, discharging what appeared to be bolts of bluish lightning both within itself and outward around its immediate vicinity.
Jacob watched as a bolt of lighting arced down and struck a woman across the street who was too busy reading a comic book to notice anything. From behind him, Jacob heard Jeremy yell, “Akiko!”, as the 3G member ran out of the shop.
Jacob moved to the doorway but didn’t dare step outside. He kept looking through the crowd of panicked people hoping to spot Jean on her way back to pick him up.
A tall figure casually strolled past Jacob and stepped outside, unafraid of the bolts of lightning striking people at random.
Jacob recognized the man as the new player who joined the Garage Gamers Group today. The man who was dressed in a wizard’s outfit took several steps towards the crosswalk and raised both arms to the sky.
“This is beautiful!” he yelled above the pandemonium of screaming people and defeaning thunderclaps. “I am Lord Etheric, grand wizard of Golaria. Feel my—”
A lightning bolt struck Lord Etheric before he could finish his monologue.
A split second later, another bolt struck Jacob before he could run farther inside the shop.
Jeremy Cobbler, who ran out as soon as he saw his girlfriend Akiko about to cross the street but was struck by lightning, started to regain consciousness. Moments after stepping outside, he was struck by a bolt of lightning that struck the ground next to him, arced, then struck him as well.
Akiko, too, began to regain consciousness. As a medical student who had completed a busy shift at Emerald City University Medical Center, she immediately looked around to assess the situation. Both blasts and bolts that mysteriously appeared above The Yellow Brick Row had since subsided and dissipated, leaving many dead and injured people scattered everywhere.
Akiko reached for her cane to help her stand up. But instead of her wooden cane, a long naginata lay on the sidewalk next to her.
In high school, an injury she sustained while in Tracks, ended her dreams of becoming an Olympic athlete. Fortunately, she was able to fall back on her academic skills in science. They allowed her to do well in medical school and earn her a spot as a pre-med undergraduate student at ECU Medical Center.
There she met Jeremy Cobbler. The two had been dating now for nearly a year. They both considered themselves nerds; she with her love of manga comics and he with his passion for role playing games. Jeremy had been trying to get her to come to one of his gaming sessions with the 3G, but she had been too busy lately.
But nothing could keep her from her manga comics. Fittingly, her favorite store, The Comic Relief provided exactly that; a relief from the textbooks and demands of her work schedule.
Before leaving work, she called Jeremy and offered to meet him at The Garage after she stopping by to get the latest issue of her favorite manga, Inazuma,
Across the street, she spotted Jeremy or rather someone who looked like him. Jeremy’s clothes were different than what she saw him wearing when she Facemet him on her smart phone. He was also dressed like someone who was about to attend a party. And his hair and facial hair had turned white.
Behind Jeremy, she saw someone dressed like a wizard. She had been to a few MangaCons but didn’t know Jeremy and his fellow gamers included cosplay at their gaming sessions.
“You look like a sorceress,” the man dressed as a wizard yelled. He was pointing at her. “I am Lord Etheric and I challenge you to a dual of magic!”
She didn’t know what the man was talking about. Then she remembered the naginata at her side. She grabbed it and stood up, suddenly realizing that she had stood up without the help of the naginata.
She looked down at her legs, and saw she was wearing a white dress made of silk. Her hospital scrubs were gone. Unexplainably, she became aware that she had become Inazuma, the lightning goddess.
A woman running across the intersection towards The Garage drew Inazuma’s attention away from Lord Etheric. The woman was hysterical and was yelling, “Jacob!”. However her yelling was cut abruptly short when Lord Etheric struck her with a magical blast. The woman screamed and fell.
Inazuma knew the woman couldn’t have survived the wizard’s attack.
From inside RPG shop, Jacob saw Jean Matthews, possibly the only person who ever cared about him, get struck by a blast from Lord Etheric. Rage swelled deep within the boy, as he unleashed a powerful mental blast at Lord Etheric who moments before killing his adapted mother flew to the top of a car in the middle of the intersection.
Across the street, an explosion caught everyone’s attention.
A woman dressed in glittery costume stood outside the Starbase Coffee shop. Her hands were covered with dazzling motes of light.
She screamed in anger as she unleashed a laser beam that struck the popular coffee shop. Screaming people could be heard inside.
“How dare you not hire me!” the woman yelled. “I’ve danced for your city all these years as a professional and this is how you thank me when I need a job?” She then turned and shot her laser beam at a nearby man holding a cup of Starbase coffee.
Just then, two men appeared a little farther down the street. One held a news camera while the other, clearly a reporter began speaking into a microphone.
“Did you see the lightshow from that woman?” Zabloski yelled into the mic. “I’m Allan Zabloski, Emerald City Inquisitor’s man on the spot! I just witnessed a woman come out of Starbase Coffee—which happens to be my favorite coffee shop—and strike it with some kind of laser beam. I’ll call her Lightshow from now on, folks."
Without saying a word, Jeremy willed the ground around the woman to form into a box of concrete around the woman who just shot at his favorite coffee shop and had just killed an innocent bystander.
“Whoa!” Zabloski said. “That well-dressed man just turned the ground around Lightshow into some kind concrete cage. His powers are like that of an anime character I grew up watching. It’s like he’s some kind of alchemist who can transmute materials around him into whatever form he wants. That’s what I’ll call him: Alchemist.”
A sudden crack of lightning descended down from the sky which was covered with storm clouds. The lightning bolt barely missed Lord Etheric.
From inside the car right below the wizard, trapped passengers were screaming.
Inazuma, rather than further risk striking innocent people with her lightning, flew to fight Lord Etheric with her naginata.
Across the street, Alchemist’s concrete cage exploded outward. Lightshow stepped out and strutted towards Alchemist. She sent a laser blast at Alchemist who easily dodged the attack which struck the glass doors of The Garage.
Jacob Matthew covered his face as shards of glass exploded all around him. After, he unleashed another mental blast at Lord Etheric.
Lord Etheric, who seemed to have had enough fighting, flew off with a promise to seek out those who would dare challenge his might.
That left Lightshow by herself.
With the combined powers of all three, Jacob Matthews, Alchemist, and Inazuma defeated Lightshow moments later.
“Hey you three,” Zabloski yelled at them. “Can I get an interview. The people of Emerald City would love to hear about their latest superheroes.”
Alchemist looked to Inazuma. “I’d rather not stay here.” She nodded in agreement. She looked at Jacob Matthews who ran out and kneeled besides the woman who Lord Etheric had killed.
“I’m sorry about your loss,” Inazuma said to Jacob telephatically. “You can come with us if you like.” She hovered next to the boy and offered a hand.
Jacob Matthews knew that without Jean—the only mother he knew—his life was now in danger from his father and the Others. With no other choice, he agreed to go leave with Alchemist and Inazuma who picked him up and flew off, followed by Alchemist who ran as fast as he could.
Jacob Matthews knew that his life was now in his own hands. And he vowed that no one he cared about would ever be hurt again.