Wed Mar 14 2012

Wed Mar 14 2072

It's easy, in the chaos of California, to forget that the rest of the world exists. In Barstow, California Free State, the citizenry starts to batten down the hatches. Air pressure is dropping and dust is rising in the Mojave, a sign of an impending Trituracion (Grinding sand storm). These storms have been more and more common over the last few years, driving many smaller communities out of the mojave entirely.

From the dust of the gathering storm, a single man walks into Barstow. Wind whirls around him, a dust devil that extends several hundred feet and seems to perpetuate itself around him. Humanoid in form, this much can be seen on the tridfeeds of this curious display. He walks the Barstow Express bridge, and makes his way into downtown Barstow, paced by police cars and with several helicopters watching.

Stopping on the other side of the Mohave River's dry bed, the man wrapped in the swirling dust devil watches as the police set up barricades. Magical threat - evil spirit - god knows what. They don't really know what to do, as Barstow is not known for its magical talent. That little bit that comes up here, typically gets exported to Los Angeles or Las Vegas. After several minutes of just standing there, the dust devil seems to collapse downward, a spiral of sand piling around the feet of the man at the center.

"Be at peace. I come with a message."

Jason Alexander, called 'Frost' by the runner community of Denver, stands in front of a small army of Hard Corps officers. Hard Corps is the 'first' Ares-owned private police force, known for its rougher hold on justice than Knight Errant. Drawn down on by twenty-odd cops, Frost keeps his hands folded across his chest. When he speaks, his voice is amplified by means unknown, but without so much more than a whisper, he seems to be heard by everyone within a mile of his location.

"Assistance has been rendered. Power flows strong from the east. Mojave awakens. The Trituracion grows stronger. Offer is made. California may keep its tainted weapons grounds. But Mojave takes no further metahumans. Metahumans must leave, save those places where Mojave deems appropriate and respectful. Offer to city of Barstow. Accept refugees, assist in resettlement… and water will flow."

It starts as a distant rumble. A like a small stream pouring over pebbles, but so too amplified by a thousandfold. The Mojave river runs dry, deep underground for most of the year. But upstream, something has forced the flow to the surface. Flowing dark and muddy at first, the river bed fills and starts to flow cleaner. A cool breeze wafts from this cold, clean water.

"Three days. Water will flow. Return for answer… water will stop one hour before arrival. Be ready with answer."

His message delivered, the winds consume Frost again, and the Trituracion returns. When it is gone, so is Frost.

People in Barstow don't know what the hell to do. After about two hours, the Mojave River flows clear - crystal clear, deep and clean. Samples are taken, and the river is the single most pristine and unpolluted river in North America. The water seems tinted with mana, which interests Cal-Berkeley and CalPoly's magical departments. The Pueblo request to send an observer, but are rebuffed. Following the river back to it's source in the deep Mojave, they find that Soda Lake has refilled overnight, and all reasonable estimations indicate that the flow of the river should empty Soda Lake quickly,… but it's level does not seem to be dropping.

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