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Halfway through 2009, two Caped Crusaders from
Abbey Normal Inspections
In most cases, the supposed Mystery Activity has proven to be normal entropy as it applies to any long-standing building. A minority of issues turned up as side effects of metahuman powers used repeatedly over a long period of time in the area; these resulted in further investigation of the stealthiest sort, late at night, by Psypher and The Shadow.
Business has done well enough that their range of activity has increased!
In November 2009, they began the certification process to work as Home Inspectors in the state of New Jersey. They avoid Gotham City, which has plenty of inspectors ready to leap at any odd activity. They have not yet braced themselves for the tough nut of Blüdhaven. Quieter parts of the state, however? Especially western Jersey? They found some excellent opportunities ready for a set of soothing voices and steady hands!
Late in December, the clever colleagues fast-tracked their certification in nearby New York State. What interesting little puzzles might become available in the smaller cities of the Catskill Mountain Range?
To pay back the assistance given them in speeding along their license to do business, the firm agreed to do a few home inspections outside of the island of Manhattan but within the remaining four out of Five Boroughs that make up New York City. These are older homes, not on the Historical Register, not prime locations for strategic villains. The answer will probably be to update the insulation, or properly prime the walls before painting, or replace decaying pipes and wires with better-made materials.
It usually is.
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Meanwhile, in an office full of file cabinets and stale coffee mugs, a man leans back in his chair to rub his eyes. Has he found a pattern in a spread of humdrum search requests among several public archives?
Or is this something more ... superhuman?
He cannot stop thinking about a six-year-old adventure involving a malfunctioning supervillain gadget.
And a coyote grin.
- - - -
Today is January sixth. Some old-fashioned calendars called this the "Magi's Epiphany". In 2008, Miss Tabitha Curtis established her new career as
Travel Consultant for the Elegantly Eclecticwith a recreation of the legendary journey taken by the three biblical Magi from Persia to Jerusalem, culminating on January 6th with a triumphant arrival. At each stop, Tabitha's clients assisted their hosts with appropriate material gifts or charitable works; the clients adored their modern pilgrimage, coming away with intentions to continue their new "practically applied philanthropy" throughout the coming year.
(Did they do so? Well ... somewhat. But any inspiration to genuinely help others is good inspiration, however long it lasts!)
Two years later, Tabitha's current clients are of the much more inwardly-focused sort that she so often sees.
They do not seem like bad people.
Nevertheless, Tabitha's mystery sense is tingling....
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Life has taught Patrick Edwards to think about people's motivations.
Most people are basically decent.
They have selfish moments and blind spots, sure. Still, most people mean no harm when they set out on a plan -- they focus on the outcome they want, which might be as mild as "tomorrow should be an iota better than today" or as big as "solve a major problem faced by thousands of strangers", and along the way the notice some of the resulting side-effects but not others.
Most people will help solve a problem if they understand what's needed. And that it won't make worse problems in the process. And they have a reasonable idea of how they can contribute.
The trouble is the minority of people who do set out to solve their own problems at the expense of others. The people who see life, security, and happiness as a Zero Sum puzzle.
Patrick Edwards is not "most people"!
Patrick is a genius. He does not bring this up in conversation, normally, because other folks have a lot of expectations around the word "genius" that do not work out in real life. The truth is that his mind invents potential connections between several small facts that other people have not imagined. He is particularly insightful in configuring systems of separate invention components to function together under a person's direct control.
On December 31st, Patrick received a plea for assistance from a past acquaintance. He was asked to go to a building in another city on a certain day and begin a certain conversation. He just might change someone's destiny.…