|Zander arrived at the outskirts of Madhaven with Jericho Joe. “This is as far as I can travel, my friend. The spirits are wary of strangers…are you sure you know what you are doing?”
“Yeah man, totally. Thank you for accompanying me on the journey. It’s always a pleasure to hear your stories of the Native Spirits. I think Sebastian particularly enjoyed the one about the giant turtle!”
“Haha my pleasure! Be well Zander Frey” and with that, Jericho Joe lifted off in the helicopter and headed due south for an operation in Dinosaur Swamp.
|Navigating the ruins was a breeze with the prayer beads he had been given by Pyrewood. Apparently McGreggor had been MIA for quite some time and they needed to make some room for an parts closet with all the activity from the Minion War and thought they would be a perfect fit for Zander. With the enhanced speed, he was at the Crater in no time. Of course, Zander saw it for what it truly was — The Garden of the Order of White Rose. A defensive illusion, the Order disguised the Garden with a powerful TW Curtain system that protected it from … well anyone who didn’t know it was there.|
|Sir Geoffrey Colt was waiting for him when he arrived, “Zander! I see you received our message! I am pleased you were able to make the journey, come we have much to talk about….but not here. Follow me.” They leave the confines of the Garden and begin to walk south, around the ruins, over the hills, and through the fields of alien mushrooms until they arrive at the remains of a skyscraper that appears to be for the most part structurally intact at it’s base.|
Sir Colt is became increasingly more uneasy and on edge as they approached — performing multiple area scans, perimeter checks, and finally holds his hand to his temple a few times before he said, “Sorry Zander, I know your time is limited but we can’t take any chances with this information. Since you’ve left I still haven’t found the traitor or mole in my camp. And this information was bequeathed to me by a patron of our order. His affiliation is confidential — and I mean that only one other person knows now…” He appears to be agitated and kinda strung out. Pacing. A dog (or wolf?) can be heard somewhere, howling. Sir Colt shaked his head, “Poor beast, that’s old Cujo, the Coney Island Chili Dog. Rabid and vicious and utterly insane. Damn thing terrorizes anyone who comes near the city. One o’ these days someone might have to put ol’ Cujo down.”
“Forgive me, where are my manners? I hope your travels have gone well. You appear to have “seasoned” considerably since last we met. What a tale your eyes would tell! I would look on you without your mask, if you would humor an old man." Zander removes his mask to and attempted to alleviate Sir Colt, placing a hand on his shoulder and replied “Sir Colt, it is an honor to return to this place of peace. You and your Order are some of the most righteous and cool dudes I’ve ever met.” Channeling his inner peace and serenity, he tries to impart it upon the Knight, reaching out with his Chi. A wave of calm seems to roll into the fourier of the building and Sir Colt visibly relaxes.
“So what’s the deal with this building? Reminds me of the old New York Fed, which would put us in the financial district. We traveled quite a ways though the city to get here so it must be of some importance. I can dig getting away from like you know, prying eyes and stuff, but why here?”
“You know your history well then. You are a strange duck, my friend. Yes, this place, for me, symbolizes A New Hope. Amid all the destruction and the haunting and the unfathomable destruction…amid all this chaos that is Madhaven…places like this give me hope. This site, long ago before the cataclysm was the site of a terrible travesty; a crime that led the ancient American people on a path of falsehood with an illusion of hope…an illusion of some control. They were misled, or so the history books tell us. But books cannot be trusted. I trust my instincts.”
|While he talks he begins to walk toward a gigantic staircase. You can still hear Cujo howling in the background but it gets more and more faint as you begin to descend. Running a hand through his hair he says, "I call to you out of desperation. The order recognized you as a kindred spirit — many moons ago. It is astonishing how quickly the time passes. The White Rose, while we live behind the veil here in Madhaven, we are not exempt from the Minion War. The Demons and Deevils reach far and wide and touch every inch of the Megaverse. I think it’s these places — the ones most remote — you’d think furthest from harm’s way — it is here that the impact is most damaging. I come to you in desperation — in a time of need for not just the White Rose but all that is good. The Order of the White Rose represents a balance.”|
“The Mystic Knights, our companion order are dark, evil, and menacing. Their presence in the cosmos tips the scales and our subsequent presence and arrival has tipped those scales back toward the balance. That is what I must needs confer to you: Balance. There is a balance that must be preserved in the Megaverse but there are few who can see the scales. I believe that you are one of them. The White Rose has chosen you. I am here to pull back the veil of the world you “think” you knew and to expose you to the truth. Nothing more. Do you want to know the truth? Once your eyes have been opened they cannot be shut again. Things will never be as you know them now. You will change and the new things you learn and discover will change you. I am offering you the truth…and with it, you have the opportunity to champion a balance that serves to preserve the cosmos. Expanded horizons are merely the visor of that truth…and the Megaverse is your adventure."
|The light from outside fades as they descend the awkwardly skewed staircase, deeper into the heart of the building. Sir Colt pauses for a moment to summon a mystical blade of purely psychic energy — the light of which serves as a torch “What I am about to show you, Zander Frey, is the hope of a new beginning for mankind and it promises freedom for every man, woman, child — D-Bee or Alien or Magical — because it’s about a long-forgotten American Dream. Behold! The Federal Reserve Treasury!”|
He holds his sword up and as far as your eyes can see there are pallets of gold bars stacked forty and fifty feet tall up to a ceiling and hundreds of rows deep. “Right now,” Colt says, "This metal is significant to techno-wizards and to collectors and it can be accepted for currency — but it is an opportunity for the “little person” to be represented and to dream and to have hope and freedom in an age that would minimize the significance of being human…of even being alive. Zander…Z, if I may…this is the hope of Madhaven. This will restore glory to a place once known as Manhattan and will rebuild — in the name of FREEDOM — a true Haven. Haven…that is what it is, and that is what it shall be called. But, alas, I ramble on.
I am an old man who has a dream and that dream is as frail and fragile as a whisper. But now, it may persist for that dream has become an idea in not just one man’s mind…but two…and who knows what may come of it. They say an ancient statue of a woman once graced the shores of Madhaven, or Manhattan as it was known. The White Rose is Our Lady Peace. She is our Statue of Liberty…and with her help we can restore what is left and give every being out there a Haven of Hope." The Knight appears to be as devoted and passionate as any — dedicated to the Order’s cause in mind, body, and spirit.
He quiets down. He has just spoken more words than you’ve ever heard him say in one sitting. “We would have you join us, if you so desired Zander. However, You do not need to answer me now. Take tonight to think on it and decide; give the White Rose your answer in the morning. Tonight! Tonight, we will welcome you back to Central Park as a kindred member and Brother of the White Rose. Tonight is a time for wine, women, and song! Everyday’s a holiday and every meal is a feast!" He claps Zander on the shoulder and ushers the blue-cloaked man back toward the encampment.
During the night, Zander joined them in celebration. His guitar fill the air with music, his voice filled their hearts with soul, bawdy limericks, and amusing haikus entertained his hosts. Over the course of the night he learned that the younger members of the Order do not share the same concerns as the older veterans — namely the numbers the Order has lost over the past few years and the lack of new recruits coming in — on freeze due to the “mole” situation. The young ones ignorant (though no fault of their own) of the losses suffered and the unsustainability of the current trend over the long term.
Zander did not sleep. He remained by the fire and watched as the last knight fell into slumber. He thought back to the time in the Russian Gypsy camp and the premonition he saw of the darkness enveloping the solar system. Sir Colt was right. Balance was needed. A light needed to shine amidst all that darkness… In the morning, he informed Sir Colt he would endure the Trials.
“Are you ready?” Zander and Sir Colt stood on the steps of the MET, “you can still turn around now and no one will think any less of you.”
“I have seen much of the world and the state of chaos since I had been here last. I will join your brotherhood for the sake of those who cannot defend themselves from the looming doom that awaits them.”
|“Very well. You must go alone from here, but know we will be waiting for you upon your return. Walk straight through to the Needle. She awaits your audience.” Zander walked through the lonely halls, seemingly devoid of more art than he remembered. Were the Knights putting them in a more secure location? He made a mental note to ask Sir Colt when, if, he returned.|
|Cleopatra’s Needle lay in the middle of a room that appeared to have an entire Egyptian temple built around it. A pool of calm water separated the exhibit from the observation place. As he looked around in the room in which light seemed to shimmer inexplicably off every surface, a voice came to him — from within.|
“Zander, I am glad you have chosen to join us in the Order. We have been following you for some time. Let us begin the Trials of the White Rose to test your mettle.” the voice said softly.
Trial of History:
“Once, long ago, the White Rose was as symbol of nonviolence, intellectual stimulation, and resistance of oppression. Known as die Weiße Rose it was the means of peaceful protest and all that stood between one man’s tyranny and the deaths of millions of innocent people. For their opposition, they were arrested by Gestapo and publicly beheaded. The White Rose symbolizes intellectual bravery and the belief in something good, something greater than yourself, and the belief that violence is only a tool to be used sparingly, if ever. Who / what was the White Rose created to Oppose?”
|“Nazis” Zander said with distaste. “Yes,” the soothing voice replied, “The Nazi regime was an evil force, and it’s early detractors, those that saw the inherent abhorrent behavior exhibited by Hitler and his men were of a group of nonviolent protesters. Many are unaware that the Rifts could have come to earth much sooner as the Holocaust could have served as a catalyst for the release of energy…had the stars been of the right alignment. Coincidence, poor timing, or thwarted? We may never know…”|
Trial of Perception:
“With its pristine appearance, the elegant white rose has come to symbolize purity, innocence, sympathy, spirituality, and secrecy. There are myths and legends from several different cultures relating to the origin of the first rose which is initially white in color and is then miraculously transformed. Oftentimes the pure white rose was depicted as being stained by blood, or made to blush from a kiss. The White Rose of Madhaven is symbolic of the original in what regard?”
|Zander thought out loud, “The Rose represents the pure, but to maintain that purity, eventually innocence is lost and it must be defended”
“You are correct again, young Zander. Peace, purity…pacifism is where resistance begins, but eventually action must be taken to preserve and secure it so that those in the future may enjoy it’s prosperity. This action, must be taken only as the last and final resort.”
Trial of Servitude:
You were here, once before, to aid in the rescue of members of our order. You gave yourself then, with companions. Will you give yourself, once more, alone and in the same capacity? The Order exists even to the last man. We are Brothers, yes, but we are all Sons of the White Rose. If you have but one breath in your lungs it is the utterance of the White Rose. Travel to Coney Island and rescue members of the order from Cujo the Coney Island Chili Dog.
“You may take any item the order has at its disposal — choose wisely” she affirmed. Zander made his way outside and there on the steps were all kinds of armor and TW devices. He picked up a TW Barrier Shield, a TW Bracer, and a TW Music Box. “These should do nicely.” he said aloud. Sebastian muttered a worried purr. “Don’t worry little buddy, we’ll be back to safety in no time!”
Zander set out on foot towards Coney Island…or at least what remained of it. Along the way he heard many spirits calling out to him, but he knew better than to acknowledge them after what happened last time. Off in teh distance he heard the rumbling of what sounded like an engine, but it never got close enough to really hear or see what was causing the repetitive mechanical sound.
|It did manage to distract him long enough to not hear the approach of the Porcupine Man. “PUT YOUR HANDS UP AND GIVE ME ALL YOUR MONIES!” it exclaimed, waving an energy pistol like he didn’t really know how to use it. “Ugh, dude, do we have to go through this again?” Zander exasperated. “wha-what do you mean…?” shrilled the mutant.
“Did you stick me up last time I was here?”
“Me no know….GIVE ME ALL YOUR MONIES!” and it fired a wild shot
“You took all the money I had last time didn’t you?”
“I KILL YOU!” and it fired yet again in a direction that was not Zander’s despite its conviction to do so.
“Is your gun broken? Can I help you fix it” Zander’s hand up in a non threatening manner approached the little guy.
“OK YOU DIE” it shrieked, fired….and almost shot itself.
“Man that laser sure has some kickback huh? Say why don’t you come with me and I will help you get more money? If I’m dead, I’d be no good to you, but alive I can show you where treasure is.”
“You help Spike get monies??”
“Yeah! Now you got it, but you have to help me first. I need to find a puppy that was lost out in Coney Island, can you guide me there?”
“Sure! You Spike Friend, you help Spike get monies! Come, Come!”
And the unlikely pair made their way as the howling of a dog began to get closer.
Finally, there he was. Cujo the Coney Island Chili Dog. Zander and Spike had gotten at least 50 ft away from it before it took notice of them. Spike was getting scared, but Zander assured him they would be all right as he brought out the music box. Just as he finished winding it up and lit the candle inside Cujo made his moving and with a growling thud, he hit the edge of the simple circle of protection. Zander tried to communicate with the dog in several ways, but nothing was working. Realizing the intruders were unattackable at the moment, Cujo retreated inside his den. Zander told spike to remain at the door while he checked inside, which Spike was very happy to do after nearly wetting himself earlier.
Inside was a horror show of blood, guts, and gore and the sand on the floor looked like oil-dry the way it absorbed the blood. using his Chi and allowing it to fill the room again like he had done with Sir Colt, Zander managed to calm Cujo down so it would not attack him and he could take a look around the place. Seeing nothing obvious, he remembered what the obelisk had told him “If you have but one breath in your lungs it is the utterance of the White Rose.” So he spoke “The Order of the White Rose has sent me to rescue the lost Brothers.” And a key fell out from under Cujo’s jaw…a barrel on it’s neck had been hidden under all the entrails hanging down from its hair.
Zander then noticed what looked like freshly dug spots in the sand and using the barrier shield dug up what appeared to be a treasure chest. he used the key to open it and inside was an obsidian shard. Psychically it called out, “Help us! There are 5 more here somewhere!” Knowing Cujo wouldn’t be held off much longer from the CAlm Minds, he sang it a lullaby and it went to sleep. Obtaining the other shards, he left telling Spike to be quiet but the treasure he was promised might be found inside the lair. Satisfied, they both went their separate ways.
Upon his return to the MET, the voice congratulated Zander, “Well done. Cujo is a cursed creature and victim of his circumstance. When a soul dies, he catches them like bones and buries them so they can never be free. Eventually he will have to be put at ease, but for now our Brothers can be freed to be at peace.”
Trial of Action:
The Order of the White Rose is drastically different from the original Mystic Knights. But, when it is time for action we strike decisively purposefully — not for glory or gains — but to protect freedoms, innocence, and love. Think on this excerpt of an ancient quote:
If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us,
do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that…
The villainy you teach me, I will execute,
and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.
The White Rose bestows power to be used in her name in the defense of goodness. Zander Frey are you willing to defend the White Rose and the tenets of freedom and love where-so-ever they shall be threatened and by whomever shall threaten them? Time for combat.
Fight the Scorpion King
The vision of Isis in front of the Obelisk shimmered away and into a bright blue endless sky from horizon to horizon. The ground made of sandstone blocks, too large for a man to move alone. The air smelt dry and void of scent. In front of him, a table full of any ancient weapon he could imagine. The most peculiar thing about it was as soon as another weapon came to mind, it seemingly appeared just on the edge of his vision.
Carefully he picked up a device that looked seemingly like a wishbone and a stretchy band of rubber. In his hands, the innocuous slingshot felt right. He then turned around to face his opponent.
Gazing upon the model on which all Egyptian warriors were molded, Zander gulped with what little saliva the desert had not taken from him already. “I knew those last three challenges were too easy,” he thought to himself — knowing a head to head battle was not something he could not win.
The monster of a man charged at him with a sword, and using his Aikido training, Zander used all the momentum to flip him on his back and lock his arm in a hold. Kicking the sword away, Zander let up. The man ran over to the table and grabbed a flail. Sustaining blows from the swinging mace was not an easy task and eventually Zander was pretty banged up until another hold eventually disarmed the man. Clearly fed up with being thrown around by such a puny thing, the egyptian warrior let out a roar and grew twice as big.
|He charged at Zander with a tackle and knocked him down hard. “Gotcha!” Zander yelled, pulled out the slingshot and let it fly, point blank, into the giants eye. Clutching its socket with both hands, it let up off Zander and screamed in pain. A second rock came flying at it just as it looked back up and suddenly the world was dark for the giant. Both eyes out of commision, the giant on its knees, Zander stood the victor and the world shimmered back to the temple and Needle inside the MET.|
The Goddess Isis, who had appeared to Zander once before revealed herself to be the voice of the Needle. “The Trials have been completed. You have passed them all and will be a valued knight of the Order of the White Rose. Use your powers for those that have none. Go and join your Brothers, for there is much to celebrate. You have my blessing” A bright orb emerged from the top of the obelisk, and engulfed Zander, whiting out his vision. .
When he came to, he was back in the Garden, his back against a tree. Behind him Sir Colt sat on the other side, “I see you have rejoined us Zander. Congratulations! There is much work to be done.”
“How long have I been out?” Zander asked sleepily, stretching his arms.
“A day at least.”
“Great Scott! That means today is Wednesday! I need to get back to Lazlo!”
“Careful there. Word has spread that Trent Logan has made an appearance there in the last few days. The place is swarming with bounty hunters and other creatures who would like to have a word with the Bee in the Deevil’s Bonnet… Be well my friend, and the spirit of the Goddess be with you!”