Steve Coops

Circus of Thieves

Clockwise From Top Right: Shell, Swingout, Equilibrium, Clubs, Twirler, Buff, Gunslinger, Buttons, Knives and (centre) Ringmaster

 


CLEA DATA FILE

Team Identities:

  • Ringmaster – Gabriel Moffitt
  • Buttons – Giovanni Tonioli
  • Buff – Lars Hannson
  • Equilibrium – Leslie Blair
  • Knives – Isaac Drinkwater
  • Clubs – Declan Coghlan
  • Shell – Paula Weaver
  • Twirler – Marita Kuan
  • Gunslinger – Phoebe Hart
  • Swingout – Yelena Volkova

Previous Members

  • Reader – Martha Saville
  • Stilts – Jeremy Blackford

CLEA Classification:

  • Magic Totem Bearer

Special Skills and/or Abilities:

  • Magic Totem –  Ringmaster has the  (Empathy) Rose QuartzCrystal which makes people only see joy and ignore the truth.
  • Magic Totem  – Gunslinger has the (Whisper) Emerald Crystal which allows her to communicate with animals
  • Magic Totem – Knives has the (Sight) Peridot Crystal allowing him to precision aim over a great distance
  • Magic Totem – Equilibrium has the (Wind) Sapphire Gem which allows her to deft gravity by floating
  • Magic Totem – Twirler has the (Fire) Ruby Gem which allows her to generate flames
  • Magic Totem – Shell has the (Skip) Amber Gem which allows her to charge momentum
  • Magic Totem – Buff has the (Strength) Onyx Gem which increases his strength ten fold
  • Magic Totem – Buttons has the (Decay) Topaz Gem so anything he touches falls apart
  • Magic Totem – Swingout has the (Motion) Turquoise Gem that allows her redirect motion of travel.
  • Magic Totem – Clubs has the (Reflex) Zircon Gem which greatly enhances his reflex response.
  • All have the various circus skills they learned before acquiring the crystals.

Limitation(s)/Weakness(s):

  • The spirit within each Totem has a potential to take over the user.

Rap Sheet/Criminal Traits:

  • Theft

Notes/History

Brought up by an Australian circus owner Theodore Moffitt, most people would have assumed that when the time came Gabriel would take over his father’s business. However the travelling around and the unpredictability of showbiz  meant he wanted something more and so when it came to getting a job he went to the city instead.

In his early work years Gabriel struggled and went through a number of jobs before earning money to acquire an education which eventually, and fifteen years saw him become a business lawyer in Sydney. Whenever Moffitt’s circus was “in town”, Giovanni, the circus clown  would always try to visit Gabriel in order to try and persuade him to talk to his father. Though loyal to Ted and the circus, Giovanni had seen Gabriel grow up and was like an uncle to him and he did not like to see the family broken up. Whilst he respected the Gabriel’s wishes to make a new life for himself he felt that father and son should at least try an reconcile before it was The trouble was both were as pig headed as each other and though Giovanni tried, Gabriel turned him down on every occasion.

Then the day came when Giovanni paid Gabriel a visit, only this time it was different, because it was too late. Ted had died three days earlier but since Gabriel had moved to a new apartment he had trouble finding him. Following the funeral Gabriel was now officially the new owner of Moffitt’s Circus. He was not particularly interested in it but felt he ought to pay it a visit and assess the business and perhaps sell it on or sell it to the acts and let the manage it.

He knew his father in the past had problem with land owners not hiring out their land so when the circus was doing well, Ted had invested the money and acquired land in several cities to avoid that problem. Gabriel was not really interested in the land and was prepared to throw it in with the sale of the business. As the circus simply toured between the plots that Ted had bought it was fairly easy for Gabriel to find it. Giovanni had said that the Circus was currently performing at Brackwater Crossing so that meant there was only one place it could be.

When he arrived Gabriel expected to see the usual hustle and bustle around the show ground but it was strangely quiet. That perhaps was not surprising under the circumstances but as he drove up he noticed the big top seemed in poor condition and there was less than the usual amount of caravans he would inspected. Getting out of his car and heading towards the entrance he caught sight of Giovanni and called him over. The clown tried to stop him before he entered but it was too late. The inside of the big top, the pride of the Moffitt’s Circus was as scrappy as the outside. Even the audience stands were in a poor condition. It was now, Gabriel realised, for all his plans and ideas there did not seem to be much of a business to sell.

The most pertinent question he could think of was to ask Giovanni was “what happened”. The clown had been closest to Ted and knew everything that happened in the circus. Gio explained that things had been “bad” for some time. Ted had made some supposedly sound business investments which resulted in him losing money. To try and recover the losses he’d ended up selling off most of the land he owned but that meant he had no money to maintain the circus equipment properly. It also meant he had to get rid of some of the acts because he could not afford them. Less acts meant that the Circus was not drawing in the crowds and the tatty state of everything reduced the crowd even more.

Giovanni reckoned that in three of four months the business would be bankrupt. He had considered telling Gabriel at the funeral but felt that it was not the right time. Of the people that had chosen to remain loyal to Ted and take a pay cut, there was Leslie, the High Wire act, Lars the Strongman and  himself. The other acts that made up the show were drifters and part-timers that  were only after some quick money before moving on.

It was now, that Gabriel regretted never taking up Gio’s offer and burying the hatchet with his father for he felt he could have perhaps done something to help. Now like Ted, the Circus was dying. The first thing he did was go through Ted’s caravan and find the bank details and paperwork to see the full scale of the problem. What he found did not look promising but then he discovered the papers relating to the failed business investment. The glossy brochures looked impressive but under close scrutiny what he found was little more than a con-job in business circles. Essentially investors paid money to a “professional” broker who promised to get  a good return. The money was then used to buy stock in a highly volatile market. Usually the investments worked for a while, during which the broker would take a substantial amount of the profits in “fees” and reinvest it as per the agreement. Then what usually happened was the market collapsed and because the broker had transferred his fees into another business the investors were left with nothing.

Gabriel found OB Real Estate, the company responsible for all the trouble in the city. They seemed to be doing very well for themselves. He demanded that he wanted his father’s money back, but was told that the investment account had been closed after it the market had failed. That part of the business was declared bankrupt so they were free from any obligation. They did offer an apology, which Gabriel took as an insult. None of what he had heard surprised him and his career in business law meant he could not touch them either. In fact when he had been hired in the past his legal work meant he could protect investors from being duped in that manner. The biggest thing that did rile him was the same person that sold the bad investments also bought the land off Ted. Angry and annoyed Gabriel promised he would make them pay but they simply warned him to try as they had the best legal team money could buy.

Returning to the Circus, Gabriel had a choice to make. Either bury it along with his dad or try and turn it around. Though the latter would mean he would have to end his career in the city and use up most of his savings he decided he owed it to his father to put things right.

Four months of hard work and the Circus was finally breaking even. Gabriel had taken on the role of Ringmaster and any profit that was made he used to fix the broken equipment and attract new acts. Whilst he never expected to make the business and instant success he would have preferred it to have been a little easier. All the while he was working hard, in the back of his mind, he had images of board members of OB Real Estate sat around in expensive clothes, driving expensive cars and living in expensive houses. He really wanted to make them struggle but there was nothing he could do. Showing up an shooting one might have eased his resentment but Gabriel knew he would end up in jail and it really would be the end of the circus.

Though revenge was always present in his thoughts he kept them to his self. Then one night after a show he was sat around the fire with Giovanni. They were drinking heavily and Gio was recounting stories from the early days. Most of what Gio said, Gabriel had heard ten times before. Then Gio told him a story about his dad from just before he was born.

He said the Circus had been set up near an Aboriginal Community. Ted was not bothered about them and they were not bothered about him. Both the circus and the community though came under threat when a brush fire started. People’s lives were in danger and so Ted had the circus workers try and save the village. Their actions saved many lives but in trying to keep the fire from the village a lot of the circus was destroyed since the workers could not be in two places at once. Giovanni said that for their sacrifice one of the village elders handed him a box with twelve gems stones. He told Ted that they were “Spirit Crystals” and that the Spirit contained in each crystal was capable of giving its owner magic to do great things but at the same time warned that those with weak wills would find the same magic could be capable of doing great harm. Ted, not really believing in magic, tried to refuse, what was obviously a valuable item, but the elder insisted saying that whilst the village had been saved and his people had everything, the circus by comparison had lost everything and a balance had to be made.

At first Ted thought it was just a nice gift and thought nothing off it until he held the Rose Quartz Crystal one day. All around him people would then start smiling and acting almost as if they were drunk. He could tell them anything and they did not care for they just seemed so “happy”. After putting the crystal back in the box they returned to normal so he tried holding another at random and grabbed the Onyx Crystal. This time people did not react any different but he suddenly became exceptionally stronger. Examining the other Crystals in turn Ted soon realised that each of them gave the “owner” a special “property” or enhancement. They were magical after all.

In rebuilding after the fire many of the circus acts had left in order to find work. Not knowing what the gems could do, Ted realised he did not need “skilled” performers, merely people who looked the part. Such people were cheaper than true acts and by handing out the crystals to these new “performers” he essentially faked the entire show. Since the audience were unaware of magic crystals they thought what they were seeing was simply highly skilled individuals seemingly capable of unbelievable performances.

Gabriel remembered as a toddler how the circus managed to draw crowd compared to his teenage years and had always assumed it was a combination of the perception of a child and fashion trends of the audience, both of which changed over time. Giovanni explained that until he reached the age of six it had been the crystals and the abilities they gave the performers which was the main reason for the success of the Moffitt’s Circus.

Then he said it all came to an end.

Gio said that Tod told him one day that he was sure something in the crystal had “spoken” to him in a dream. Others reported similar experiences and a couple of people even began acting out of character, becoming aggressive and nasty. Though there was a connection to the crystals and he had been warned of the potential dangers, the circus was doing so well that he did not heed on the side of caution. There was also another problem in that Ted had not seen the need to hire “true” circus acts since he had been given the crystals. This had dire consequences when one night when the  “Tightrope walker” dropped her crystal. Having never genuinely performed the act she could not balance and fell.  She was seriously injured and with the dreams along with the behaviour problems getting worse, the next day Ted decided to put a stop to it and took back the crystals. He then paid the “acts” off with an extra bonus on the proviso that they kept the crystals a secret. Giovanni said since Leslie and Lars had come later to the circus that meant with Ted gone he was the only one that knew of them.

Some time after finishing the story, the clown collapsed into a drunken sleep. Gabriel though was by now wide awake.

When Giovanni awoke the next day with straw in his mouth the first sound he heard was a lot of crashing coming from Ted’s caravan. Then he remembered getting drunk and mentioning the fire and the crystals. The moment he opened the door to the caravan he knew what Gabriel was looking for. The Ringmaster seemed to be in a wild frenzy so Giovanni suggested that there was a good reason he could not find the crystals. They simply weren’t there.

A few moments later after going to his on caravan and coming back, Giovanni handed a wooden box to Gabriel, and told him the Ted had wanted him to keep them so that he would not be tempted to repeat his mistake again. Since they technically belonged to Ted, that meant they were now Gabriel’s which was why he was handing them over. Giovanni though begged him to heed the lessons of the past and bury them somewhere where they would not be found.

For a few days Gabriel considered doing that. All the while he carried the box with him, even during the performance. After a while temptation got the better of him and he did try out the crystals. Realising he might be in danger of following the path of his dad, Gabriel put them away and was determined to leave the box closed. Then the thoughts of revenge returned and after seeing an article in a news paper he figured the crystals might help him get that.

Giovanni was surprised when Gabriel approached him one day and told him that he planned on using the crystals. After what had happened in the past, Giovanni could not believe what he was hearing but Gabriel said he would not be giving the crystals to “untrained actors” but real acts instead. Giovanni knew though that they were not making enough money to hire professionals so was confused. It was then the Gabriel explained that he would find the acts and they would work for free because he would give them what then really wanted, revenge.

Unsure where Gabriel was going with the conversation, Giovanni was shown the newspaper article. What he saw was a simple character piece about a local legend, Paula Weaver, who was a stunt rider and had supposedly fallen from grace and was barely surviving. Giovanni was more confused now than he was before, so Gabriel explained that he’d done a bit of digging around and learned that Weaver had a mother who had become seriously ill.

To avoid paying for the treatment that insurance company had managed to find a loop hole in their own small print. That meant Paula ended up selling her mother’s house, her own apartment and had been left penniless. Then her mother had died and she was still having to pay the outstanding bills. Gabriel said that Paula had been as legally screwed over as Ted had been.

Gabriel suggested there might be others like Paula who had been failed by big companies using power and money to legally steal from ordinary folk and he reckoned that by using the crystals they could take some of that money back. Giovanni though Gabriel had gone completely nuts in even contemplating committing crime to get revenge, but Gabriel suggested that if the crystals could give normal people super human  capabilities  then if they were careful any thieving they did would be unexplained.

It was therefore the perfect crime. Giovanni though mentioned that there were plenty of high powered criminals and they got caught, so wondered why Gabriel would think they would not get caught. Gabriel explained though that other “super criminals” were linked to crimes because they themselves were evidence. They wore tech or installed tech in their bodies or they were Alphas and could be tested. He suggested that if any of them were caught if they were able to discard the crystal they had then the justice system could never prove them capable of doing the impossible feats. Of course for the cover story to be believable the group performing the thefts would have to be genuine circus acts that way they would not look out of place being at the circus.

This logic, Giovanni could not really defeat although he was still not sure about the idea of Gabriel going down a path of crime. However he did feel that the system owed it to Ted and if they took back money that had been legally stolen then the people who lost it probably deserved it since they were living on the misery of the people they had screwed over.

The first person Gabriel “hired” was the woman from the newspaper article, Paula Weaver. A motorcycle stunt rider she could ride the globe of death. Gabriel also got her to train as the circus’s human cannonball. With the Amber crystal she could actually fire herself out of the Cannon and land on the tops of buildings.

Yelena Volkova was found next. As a Russian immigrant she was not well known in Australia but had a at one time been a trapeze artist back home. The family had come to Australia to make a better life for themselves but her father had an accident at work and instead of paying for his rehabilitation the firms lawyers buried them in legal bill. She was given the Turquoise Crystal which allows her to redirect her momentum so falling became jumping or running became vertical travel which could get her past a variety of securirty defences.

Martha Saville was hired after Gabriel learned she had a sister whose house was put up for collateral to pay for repairs and the builder took her money declared himself bankrupt and then set up a new business. Untouchable from the law, Martha’s sister lost her home. As Martha was once in the entertainment business as a fortune teller she resumed that role at the circus and was given the Morganite Crystal which allowed her to read people’s minds.

Isaac Drinkwater was found after a series of media articles he suggested that a judge was corrupt and that his uncle was in prison because of it. After a botched investigation his uncle was still in prison and the police would not reopen the case. Though a trained magician he started his careers as a knife thrower. Gabriel told him he would get the record set straight and gave him the Peridot Crystal which increased his targetting precision to the extent wherever he threw an object he could guarantee it would hit the mark.

Phoebe Hart’s family owned a small farm. Running the farm was not really for her but as she was an excellent horse woman she found a home for her natural skills at a rival circus. Over time she learned to shoot and added combined it with her act. Then she heard that a powerful landowner was putting pressure on her father to sell the farm. She went home to try and help deal with the problem but upon arriving found the entire farm had “accidentally” burned down. With only the insurance money to rely on the family had no choice but to sell. Phoebe knew though that the fire was no accident but could not prove it. At Moffitt’s Circus she resumed her old act and was given the Emerald Crystal. This enabled her to literally “talk” to animals and get them to do what she wanted a handy skill when it came to  getting past guard dogs.

Like many in the entertainment industry Jeremy Blackford  often had cash flow problems. On one occasion he had to sell some family heir looms just to get by. He accepted the cash but later discovered a couple were far more valuable than he had assumed. He tried to buy them back but they had already been sold on making the buyers a lot of profit in exchange for duping him. Because he had accepted their offer, legally he had no recourse but then Gabriel offered him another way. As part of the circus he became the stilt walker but for the other work he  received the Garnet Crystal which game him the ability to stretch his limbs so he did not need stilts.

Declan Coghlan ran into a problem when his apartment complex set on fire. The builders were found guilty of being negligent but as the business had been closed he could not get any compensation and without insurance he’d lost everything. Similar to Martha, the builders had simply started again and were using the wrong materials to maximise profits at the risk of peoples lives and possessions. As a trained juggler he settled into circus life. Gabriel gave him the Zircon Crystal that allows him to enhance his reflexes so that he can literally dodge bullets.

At one time Marita Kuan was known as being an amateur champion in the art of batton twirling. What few people knew was that she was also a talented computer programmer. She once came up with a brilliant database program but her boss claimed that her work belonged to the company. as per the small print on her contract. When she caused a fuss the company fired her. They then marketed her program and made millions and she got nothing. Gabriel convinced her to perform as a baton twirler at his circus in return for helping her get even. He then gave her the Ruby Crystal which allows her to generate fire.

The other members that were given crystals, besides Gabriel who kept the Rose Quartz one, were the three circus acts that had remained loyal to Ted when it all started to go wrong. Lars Hansson, the Strongman act received the Onyx crystal which made him even stronger. Leslie Blair, the tightrope act received the Sapphire Crystal which gave her the means to float. After a lot of persuasion Gabriel gave the remaining Topaz crystal to Giovanni and he gained the means to make objects fall apart when he touched them.

To most people the group was a Circus Troupe but whenever they were are the right location and were not putting on a show they would perform a heist. Often they would leave behind evidence which if reported would make the victim look “suspicious” in the eyes of the law so most thefts, no matter how big were never reported. Some powerful businesses tried to hire help to fight back which is how CLEA came to notice the activities of Moffitt’s Circus. However with no crime reported or lack of evidence, CLEA, like the police could do nothing. The team in effect made the inconsistencies and loopholes in justice work for them for a change.

Their goal as a group started out mainly to get revenge and take back what had been stolen from their families. This then progressed to helping “outsiders” that had been ruined by powerful businesses and people. The term “Robin Hood Thieves” was often used to describe them.

After many successful heists, Martha and Jeremy started getting ideas to simply keep what they stole instead of using it for make recompense for victims who had been duped by their marks. Gabriel would not tolerate that. It was around this time some of the group had started receiving strange dreams and visions persuading them to embrace the power of the crystal. This was similar to what Gio had told him had happened the first time the crystals had been used. He presumed that Martha and Jeremy had succumbed to the temptation. To try and save them he insisted they hand over the crystals but instead they blackmailed Gabriel, threatening if he did not allow them to keep the crystals then they would spread the word of how the Circus was performing its heists.

Later on the problems got worse and Marita was found in a trance one day that she could not be awoken from. Desperate to help her Gabriel had Gio take him to the village in order to get answers from the elder that had given Ted the crystals. When they got there they found that the village was gone and a new housing development in its place. As there were no leads for what happened to the people, Gabriel ended up searching for those that worked with magic in the hopes they could awaken Marita.

In the end Twlight offered her services. On studying the crystals she learned they were active totems and each contained the spirit of a power mystic. All twelve had used their power in the past to defeat an ancient evil but they lost the lives in the process. What was left of them ended up in the crystals. Twilight said that over the centuries the spirits had grown restless and angry that outsiders were using a power their deaths had created. They wanted to live again but to take over the mind of a living host involved breaking down wills and barriers in order to make them susceptible to being possessed, one of the dangers of Active Totems. Twilight believed that Martha and Jeremy had allowed themselves to be taken over and Marita was engaged in fighting the entity within her crystal.

Using her knowledge of magic, Twilight “entered” the crystal and found two Maritas. One was the original and another was the spirit trying to take over, disguising itself with a familial form. Twilight successful broke Marita from its grasp and she returned to the “real” world. Since Twlight could not destroy the spirits without destroying the magic, the group had a choice to make. Abandon the crystals or continue using them, fully aware of the dangers.

Despite what had happened the group, including Marita chose to continue using the crystals because they felt their “work” was important. They of course were now aware that the dreams and visions were down to the crystal spirits trying to take control and they needed to be on their guard.

Currently their thefts have put CLEA is in the unenviable position of knowing that crimes are taking place, who is responsible but since the victims do not report they have been robbed the agency cannot do anything. However Reader and Stilts are a different matter.