No announcement yet.

Demon: Night Train Detective Agency (Actual Play)

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Originally posted by Amberghylles View Post

    Oh, they're not functional. It's just their remains we tucked away.
    Ah, so they can't help staying that way. Good to know.


    • Aren't Boltholes supposed to be cramped? Isn't it getting crowded in there?

      Malkydel: "And the Machine dictated; let there be adequate illumination."
      Yossarian: "And lo, it was optimal."


      • Presumably? Speed's player is tracking that.

        Onyx Path Moderator
        Forum Rules
        This is my mod voice. This is my goth voice.
        [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]


        • So now they know more about the Brotherhood, but where do they come from. And who is Ernesto? And does this mean I get to play Langley and Dieter again? Oh, it’s fun to discover!

          Session LX

          Speed Demon's Monologues

          When I got into work the next day, Cecilia greeted me, the bell on the end of her Santa hat jingling fucking merrily. She let me know the others were all here and I walked on up. I found them in the lab. Liz greeted me brightly and Billy Mack more sedately. He nodded a seat and got straight to business. “No luck with Cornelius’ GPS. He apparently does not keep that phone on, or, at least, he does not keep that particular SIM card in the phone when it is.” He smiled briefly. “I did get some details on the search for the other Gabe. He owns the Laundromat where Heather murdered someone the other day.” I made a surprised face. “I know. But it does appear to not be a throw away cover at least.”

          I shrugged. “I wasn’t figuring a throwaway ID, actually, more a stolen one.” He shook his head to that.

          Liz leaned back in her chair. “No other movement at the school at this point in time. I haven’t found out anything else about the cocaine distribution network.”

          “Gotcha.” I stretched. “So, we wanna gather information on Cornelius slash the Brotherhood and get a lead on the goddamn books. Any thoughts?”

          “I should call Jimmy, and I’m thinking... perhaps Langley.” Billy Mack was welcome to that... we’ll say pleasure. Not where he could hear though. He’d take it the wrong way. “On the off chance he’s heard something. And if he hasn’t, he can get us in contact with someone. I’m sure, given our previous experiences, it’s been far too long since you’ve gotten to have a poetry slam with Dieter.” I rolled my eyes at him. “Perhaps you should prepare some material, so that you can quote poetry back at him this time.” I looked at him with dripping disdain. “No, I’m serious. You should respond to him with poetry. Preferably poetry he will not appreciate.” I kept up my look. “I am merely offering a suggestions as to how to let him know how you feel about his poetry.”

          “Uh huh.”

          He kept going. “That will not overly strain our relationship with them.”

          I tapped my fingers on the desk. “That means I have to look up some of the shit.”

          “Or look deep in your soul and find the poetry in you,” Liz suggested. I turned my long suffering look to her. “I’m pretty sure it’ll involve a lot of cussing and insults, given who you are.”

          “It is a question of how much effort you want to put in the matter,” Billy Mack allowed. “But still, I thought I would offer.”

          I spun in my chair slightly. “I mean, if I’m gonna respond in kind to his weird fuckery, I’d rather get a bigger stick.”

          Liz raised an eyebrow. “I didn't think that was what you were into.”

          “Neither’s poetry!” I crossed my arms.

          “At any rate, I believe it is a decent enough hour to wake Jimmy up. At least late enough that I don’t have to feel socially obligated to be apologetic if he is still asleep.” He nodded to the pair of us and went back to his office. I rolled my eyes at his retreating back once more for good fucking measure.

          In his office, Billy Mack made the threatened phone call. Jimmy answered, not sleepily, “Hello?”

          “Hello Jimmy. I had a question for you, about something that might have to do with one of us.” Billy Mack smiled, warmly for him.

          “Alright...” There was a long goddamn pause. “Do you want me to come by your office, or are you just fond of dramatic pauses?”

          The g-man sat back in his seat. “Have you heard of a group calling themselves ‘the Brotherhood’?”

          The lizard thought for a minute. “I think I saw a movie about it.”

          “These are focused around training Harvesters to be their minions.”

          “I presume you’re not talking about the farming vehicle, though if you could train those that’d be pretty interesting. And an army of them...” Jimmy trailed off.

          Billy Mack chuckled. “An army of this other sort is fairly effective as well.”

          “Scarecrows, with chainsaws, maybe?” He shuddered. “That would terrify me.”

          “Not quite...” Billy Mack began.

          “Sickles, then? Communist scarecrows?” Jimmy shook his head. “I’ll just let you talk.”

          Billy Mack nodded. “They are a type of immortal that imbues their power into an edged weapon that they use to kill other immortals and steal their immortality.”

          Jimmy grinned. “Saw a movie about that once too.”

          “Much like that, now that you mention it.” He smiled.

          “Don’t watch the second one,” Jimmy warned.

          “There is no second one,” Billy Mack said fucking sternly.

          Jimmy snorted. “Right, of course, my bad.”

          “At any rate,” Billy Mack began again, “there is a great deal in their mission statement concerning manipulating events in a way that smacks of occult matrices.”

          “I can look through some files,” Jimmy offered. “Nothing’s jumping to mind immediately.”

          “If it’s one of us, I would want to approach them in order to work with them, rather than at cross purposes. So do let me know if you find anything.”

          Jimmy nodded. “Sure thing.”

          Billy Mack called Louis next. “Ah, Billy Mack. What can I do for you?”

          “Hello there. I was calling to speak to you about a business matter. I wanted to touch base with you about toe checks, as it were.” Billy Mack smiled.

          Louis nodded gravely. “Alright. Do you want me to come by your office, or would you like to come by my office, or would you like to catch dinner somewhere? Or lunch, I suppose.”

          Now, I would have taken the opportunity to get eyes on his office, but Billy Mack had other ideas. “Why don’t we meet for lunch? It is about lunch time. And TGITuesdays does have a wonderful lunch menu.”

          “Very well. At noon?”

          “See you at noon.”

          While Billy Mack was off having his own fun time on the phone, I got a call from ‘Bobby’. “Pussymagnet!” Drak sure did have Bobby’s class down fucking pat.

          “What’s up, man?”

          “You have a moment to stop by the office?” he asked. “I have some questions about the particulars of the next wet t-shirt contest.”

          I started walking a coin over my knuckles. “Alright. 3 work for ya?”

          “Absolutely. 3 it is. See ya then.”

          Billy Mack wandered back over to the lab right as I got off the phone. “I have a lunch meeting with Valefar in an hour, to discuss the Brotherhood. Jimmy was unaware of them.”

          I smiled. “Have fun. I’m sure I will with my 3 o’clock meeting with ‘Bobby’.”

          He smiled slightly, and looked to Liz. “Would you mind coming along to ensure a private discussion?”

          “Not at all.” She smiled brightly at him.

          “I’m not sure how eager the rest of you are to speak to our charming friend again...” He looked around. I shrugged. He was better than the vampire fuck, but I was sure between the two of them, they could handle that lunch meeting. “Very well. I don’t know if he is involved or not, but perhaps we will learn something.”

          Liz nodded. “We could get an idea of what he is involved with right now also.”

          “Anybody need me for anything?” Jack asked.

          “At this point, we have a meeting with Valefar and one at Maverick’s. Other than that, I believe we were planning on getting at another bit of Infrastructure at the school?” Billy Mack raised an eyebrow. “Is there anything else on the to do list?”

          I leaned back in my chair. “I need to call Jake, see if they have anything to do with the Brotherhood. The Infrastructure bullshit should be after lights out. And... not it for calling the fucking goober.” I put my finger on my nose.

          Billy Mack smiled slightly. “I believe I have the best rapport with him. I will call him up and see about setting up a meeting.”

          “That’s about it, without any more leads on the books.” I frowned, tapping my coin on the desk.

          “Let me get that call done now, before meeting with Valefar.” He got out his phone and called the ghoul.

          “Yeeeeasss!” We could hear Langley’s greeting without any kind of speaker phone.

          The g-man grinned. “Ah, Langley. Lovely to speak with you again. How are you doing?”

          His voice got a little more serious. A little. “Alright. How about you?”

          “Fairly well, fairly well. I actually was hoping I could speak to a mutual acquaintance...” Billy Mack trailed off significantly.

          “That probably can be arranged. Henry, do you want to talk to the nice man?” Langley spoke as if to someone in his office, loud enough to be heard, before turning back to the phone. “Henry says he’ll let you run your fingers through, but only if you wash your hands.”

          “Of course.” Billy Mack nodded fucking seriously. “I’m always a gentleman, you know that. Except when I’m not.”

          Langley paused. “I’m sure Henry looks forward to wrapping your hand around his neck then.” He sighed. “I’m still trying to find a condom big enough to fit over Henry.”

          “Indeed. That could be a challenge. You might have to special order something. It is difficult for one of such girth.”

          “It is.” Langley nodded vociferously. “Anyone else you want to talk to besides my guitar?”

          “I did have a little nocturnal business,” Billy Mack tried again for the hint.

          Langley made a face like he’d had a goddamn revelation. “Oh! Exotic dancing.” He paused, then stage whispered, “I’m not sure you’ve got the ass for it.”

          Billy Mack smiled slightly. “Oh no. But I’ve got someone who does.”

          “Good!” He smirked. “And who are they?”

          “You’ve met Jack.” Jack gave Billy Mack a dirty look.

          Langley raised an eyebrow. “You think Jack can put it to work well enough? Good good. So, are we trading the guitar for Jack for a little while? I like where this is going.”

          Billy Mack shushed Jack. “We just need a nice place to meet for all of this. What would make everyone the most comfortable?”

          “Pillows usually. You looking for something like a formal establishment, or maybe under a bridge?”

          “You know I’m flexible,” Billy Mack pointed out.

          “Not like I could...” Langley mused. “How about the club where your group came to see my band? I can get us a room in the back there to talk. We won’t be disturbed because they’ll be too afraid of what the hell I may be doing, particularly if they see you and Jack go in there. I’ll make sure to wiggle my fingers at them as I shut the door behind us.”

          Billy Mack nodded. “We’ll make sure to disguise Gabe then... what time would work well for you?”

          “Langley tapped his chin in thought. “I don’t slide down the dinosaur for a few hours, but I’m pretty much open after that.”

          “Perhaps around 8?” Billy Mack suggested.

          “Sure! Wear something nice,” he said teasingly. “Have a lovely afternoon, and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

          Billy Mack chuckled. “I’m not sure that’s possible.”

          As the others left, I gave Jake a call. A little girl answered tentatively. “Hello?”

          “Hey. Is Jake around?”

          “Um...” She paused shyly. “Can I take a message?”

          Jake is a weird motherfucker. “Sure thing kid. We wanted to make sure we weren’t getting in his way. If he’s got something to do with the Brotherhood, have him get back to me?”

          She tilted her head. “He’ll call you.”

          “Thanks kid.”

          About ten minutes later, I got a call back. “Sup?”

          I stopped playing basketball with my hat and my crumpled up attempts at the Sunday crossword. “Hey pal.”

          “I still smell like baby powder. What can I do for you?”

          I snorted. “This Brotherhood... you heard of ‘em?”

          He waggled his hand. “I’ve heard of them, but not really looked into them - the Build a Bear and its nightmare apparatus have been distracting.”

          “Nightmare apparatus?” I raised an eyebrow.

          “Yeah, it’s collecting nightmares from the city.” He started pacing a bit. “Apparently, the strength of the fear fairy courts has led to an increase in nightmares and they’re trying to tap into it. They have this huge machine down there.”

          He sure as hell had my interest. “Really...”

          He nodded. “Yep. You see, you go in there, and you make a bear. Then you hug it. And then there’s a bear, and if you go through the room to where the bear is, and give the bear your bear, then the bear will hug your bear and you’ll have a short time where you can go back before the bear realizes you’ve just given it a bear and the slip, and then it’ll go back and try to murder you. Even if you’re, like, adorable and have just the daintiest fucking dress on. With flowers and shit. It would mess that shit up and when I say mess that shit up, I mean claws straight through.”

          “Shit man, are you alright?” I mostly kept my amusement out of my voice.

          I apparently had interrupted his flow. “...Things it should be illegal to do to a child.”

          I leaned back in my seat. “I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to do that to anyone.”

          “Yeah, well, that child is fucking cherubic. That bear has no heart.” He sighed. “Anyway, yeah, I got a look at the nightmare apparatus. It is a big, big, big things, with three or four Angels around it. That I saw. One of them is directly interfacing, built into the apparatus.”

          “Look, man, if there’s anything I can do to help out with this shit, just let me know. My old job was gathering emotions and it’s kinda a pet project now.” I leaned forward, tapping my fingers on the desk.

          He gave a brief chuckle. “You wanna fight the bear while I go in there and sneak around? You don’t want to see what it did to the bear I gave it. Or my dress. That dress had flowers on it! Only someone worthless would maul someone in that dress.”

          I rolled my eyes. “We could maybe work something out. I dunno if I wanna go mano-a-mano with the bear, but I could try distracting him, having him chase me or some shit.”

          “You know it’s not a normal bear, right?”

          I raised an eyebrow. “I’d gotten that idea. I still wanna help out, especially if I can get a peek at the machine sometime myself. But, the Brotherhood...?”

          He chuckled. “Oh, right. I’ve heard of it, like I said.”

          “We’re coming at it kinda sideways. We have a client being stalked by one of their head assassins, but as a personal project, not a Brotherhood one. They seem to be doing something that sounds an awful lot like occult matrices.” I spun my chair around slightly.

          “Yeah, and they’re supposed to be assassins for hire, but they’re never for hire. Which kinda defeats the purpose.” He shrugged.

          I chuckled. “Yeah. Mainly I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t the project of someone we on good terms with before we go throwing wrenches, since it really sounds like our kinda work. If we can get him called off without taking away their lead guy... all the better.”

          He nodded. “It does, which is why it never was high priority to look into. That and I’ve been distracted by a bear. Speaking of which, I should warn you, even if you have just the biggest, cutest, saddest eyes in the world, that bear does not give a fuck.”

          “Noted. How’s he feel about hobos?”

          “Hobo vs bear? Sounds like the fight of the century.” He nodded appreciatively. “Somebody call Asylum. You do have to buy a bear to blend in and all. That would be even better to watch. The poor bear won’t know what hit it until you hand it to the other bear. The bear gets pretty mad when it realizes you left it with a bear. I assume it’ll work again though. I’ve been recovering.”

          I shook my head. “I really would like to help out, on your terms.”

          Jake nodded. “Will do. Ms Clocks says I’m fixated.”

          “Maybe. What was the design on the dress again?” I smirked.

          “Flowers! Just the prettiest goddamn flowers!” He slammed his fist down. “I’m not talking about beside the road shit. I’m talking about what you give your girlfriend for guaranteed pussy. Pretty. Flowers.”

          I held in a laugh. “No goddamn respect, that bear.”

          “None.” He shook his head. “There’s an Employees Only door, and apparently, by employees, they mean bears. Who the hell keeps a bear in the basement? Well, I guess it is a Build a Bear, and somebody built it - it’s definitely not a natural bear. Maybe a cryptid... it’s not a small bear. At least two and a half of the Berenstain Bears, and that’s back when their name was spelled correctly.” He took a deep breath. “Anyway, let me know what you find out about the Brotherhood.”

          “Will do. Keep me apprised of the nightmare shit too.”

          When they got back, I filled the others in on what he told me. Liz made a face. “He’s really fixated on that Build a Bear. Maybe that’s why Ms. Clocks keeps going to Kiki’s by herself.”

          I raised an eyebrow. “Probably. He’s also fucking fixated on his flowery, flowery dress. It was adorable, apparently. And got mauled, cause that bear got no respect.”

          “I hate it when that happens.” Billy Mack smiled.

          “You would.” Jack rolled his eyes.

          When I got to explaining Jake’s plan, a thought hit me. “Huh. I wonder if the bear is so tied to its programming that we can all build a bear and hand it off one at a time, to buy more time.”

          Liz shrugged. “It will get you past that guard.”

          “That was only ever the guard ‘handing a bear to’ would work on.” I grinned. “Jake’s just asked for help dealing with the bear. The trick would be not doing anything to show off for the Angels, or, with our Primum, it’d get locked the fuck down.” I shrugged. “Anyways, I told him to keep in touch - I think he’s resting up. Said something about ribs poking through.” I went ahead and sent Jake a text: ‘New plan. Three bears a piece, rotating hand off.’

          “Oh, I definitely hate it when that happens.” Billy Mack deadpanned.

          I raised an eyebrow. “That I can believe.” I started fiddling with a pencil. “It’s his rodeo though, so we’ll see what he needs. He had heard of the Brotherhood, but hadn’t looked too much into them - there was this Build a Bear thing, ya see.”

          I got a response from Jake fairly quickly. “Veruca's first rotating hand off. Probably won’t be her last.’

          Billy Mack, Liz and an Alibi of Jack made their way to TGITuesday’s, getting there a little after Louis. They went back to the shadowy corner he was occupying and sat down after his nod. Liz turned on the eavesdropping defense, just as Louis nodded again. “Afternoon.”

          Liz smiled brightly at him. “Good to see you. You sure are looking shadowy today.”

          Billy Mack looked to Liz to make sure it was safe, and after she nodded, he got right into business. “We were investigating a case for a client, who is being pursued by a Harvester, who is apparently part of something called the Brotherhood.”

          “Ah, yes. Them.” He looked carefully at Billy Mack. “Who is your client being pursued by?”

          “We have a few names. Cornelius, Ernesto...”

          Louis stopped him with a brief gesture. “I know Ernesto.”

          Billy Mack nodded. “It appears to be a side project of his, not Brotherhood business, but having discovered a little more about this organization, it sounded like it might be one of us.”

          He took a drink. “It’s a dead Demon’s. Well, supposedly dead.”

          “Ah. So something that was put into place but that has possibly outlived its creator?” Billy Mack looked thoughtful. “Is the Demon in question a Ms. Violet?”

          “Yes. Her whole group was killed, supposedly.”

          Billy Mack made a considering noise. “So, at this point, as far as anyone knows, they’re still in motion then?”

          Louis answered slowly. “Yes, though I suspect she faked her death, so as to operate in a deeper level of cover, even from us. I could only speculate as to why.”

          “Paranoia is a... frequent problem, amongst our kind.” Billy Mack gave him a slight smile.

          “Yes, but we do have to support each other to some degree.” He looked to the side. “I certainly believe in cooperation.” He sighed. “From what I know about them, the ancient Brotherhood that goes back forever seems to have appeared sometime after her disappearance. We are pretty sure Ms. Violet started them up in London, but pretty much the entire operation has been moved to Seattle. I haven’t seen any actual evidence that she’s still around, other than the fact that they are doing pretty well to be leaderless.”

          “So either she is still pulling the strings, or someone else has taken over.” Louis nodded his agreement with the g-man. “Do you know anything about another orphaned project of hers, Drak’s group of reptoids.”

          Drak didn’t seem to ring any bells with him, but reptoids did. “I know about a group of reptoids that were thrashing around, operating freelance. I don’t ‘Rent-a-Reptoid’ - it sounds like a disturbing business to me. Perhaps if I was invited to a child’s birthday party... I’m afraid I can’t help you much there. I’ve had my own irons in the fire, and not paying as much attention to such things as perhaps I might should.” He paused for another drink. “Is there anything you need any backup with? I’m always up for an exchange of favors, remember.”

          Billy Mack shook his head, smiling. “Not at the moment. Things seem to be pretty well in hand. We just need to determine how best to handle this situation with Ernesto.”

          Louis frowned. “So, he’s looking to kill your client. Is she related to a matrix?”

          “Not to the best of my knowledge. I believe she is merely a powerful immortal that he is hunting for sport. From what I can tell, it’s not Brotherhood business and is in fact distracting him from the same.” Billy Mack looked fucking pensive.

          “He does have a little bit too much of ‘the most dangerous game; going for him. He would have done well in the late 19th century England, I suppose.” There was a hint of a smirk on Louis’ face.

          “Still, while we would not be interfering with Brotherhood business, I did want to find out whose pawn he was before I interfered with him.” Billy Mack pointed out.

          Louis nodded. “Right. It would not surprise me if it were Ms. Violet. It’s also entirely possible that someone has found enough information about her operations to step into her place.”

          Billy Mack frowned slightly. “Which is unfortunate, as for the former, her apparent death will make it difficult to get in touch with her, and for the latter, that is somewhat of a dead end. Though... the reptoids were working for a Mr. Black, operating with similar goals.”

          “There’s a Mr. Black and Mrs. Red, in Vancouver. Mr. Black entirely works with female covers and Mrs. Red with male covers. I believe they enjoy the game of it.” He dredged some disdain out of somewhere for that. “They are both Messengers.”

          “Ah, so they’re very good at the game.” Liz smiled brightly at him.

          Louis raised an eyebrow. “Sure.”

          Liz leaned forward. “And, by the way, what are you?”

          “An enigma,” came the goddamn quick answer. “A Saboteur.”

          “Alright, just curious.” She shrugged slightly.

          He gave her a slight smile. “It killed the cat. Watch out.” He turned back to Billy Mack. “This is a town of big risks and big rewards. The God-Machine has so many operations here, and a lot of very powerful Angels. But if a Demon is willing to go in quietly, there’s so much they could try to acquire. And then there’s the Fools, who seem intent on drawing as much attention from the God-Machine as possible. Thus the name.”

          Billy Mack shrugged. “Such a thing can be useful.”

          “Oh yes. And insanity aside, they are good at what they do.” He tapped his glass. “As a note, I like to leave cards with some kind of four symbology on it. It’s usually enough of a clue to let them know they’ve gotten the attention of another of the Unchained and seek to head off any unpleasantness. I would avoid provoking Ernesto unnecessarily. It’s not that you can’t kill him, it’s just that he is very resourceful and more dangerous than he comes off as.”

          “He certainly has displayed abilities beyond that which one might expect from a Harvester,” Billy Mack agreed.

          Louis nodded. “He has figured out how to gain a certain amount of power from any supernatural he kills. Not restricted to immortals.”

          Billy Mack’s eyes widened. “I see why he is considered so useful.”

          “He’s been playing this game a while. It’s not that he was mysteriously born with this power, it’s just that he’s lived long enough to experiment. I don’t know the specifics, but I have gotten the impression that the powers fade depending on the power level of the person he kills. A fledgling vampire’s powers would fade shortly, while an elder’s would linger. I do know he avoids doing it with mages after his first experience with Paradox.”

          “As the nature of his power is to take an immortal’s energy, it does seem a logical progression,” Billy Mack mused. “And a very useful one. Thank you for the warning. My objective in this does not actually require anything unpleasant to happen to him, it just requires him to find another immortal to hunt. One other point of curiosity - another agent of theirs, goes by Gabe. More of traditionally magically aligned bent.”

          “Gabe is possibly one of us with a cover of a hedge magician. He seems to legitimately be a hedge magician, though he might be a Mage with some hedge magic.” Louis leaned back. “He is in know about some things. I don’t think he has Ernesto's pedigree, but...”

          Billy Mack nodded. “So he may in fact be a more reasonable avenue to try and get in touch with the Brotherhood.”

          Louis frowned. “He’s certainly less irritating to talk to than Ernesto. The Harvester has a very specific view on life, which is that if you were worth talking to, he’d have killed you by now.” he looked at Billy Mack intently. “He has killed a body thief in the past, and appears to still have their powers. He’s certainly not in his original body. He has a history of hopping into the bodies of loved ones of those who come to kill him, and then using them to kill his killer. So make sure he doesn’t know of any human you are fond of.”

          “Ah. Well, I suppose it’s just as well that I am incapable of love. For the best.” Billy Mack smiled slightly.

          “For all that, he does not operate on our scale of power, mind. Though - remember, he is much more dangerous when you are not completely behind a Cover. His weapon is, at least.”

          Billy Mack nodded. “If I have to fight him, I will take care. Now, is there anything we can help you with?”

          Louis thought for a moment. “What information have you gathered about Puriel’s current location? There is an Angel factory there, but I believe I can make a very big boom out of it, one that will cause some amount of backlash into several God-Machine facilities here.”

          “Unfortunately, even using Clairvoyance, I was unable to gather anything particularly revealing about the location. A foundry, a lot of heat and sound.” Billy Mack looked fucking apologetic.

          “She’s dropped off the radar - I don’t know whether this is because people are off the scent, or whether she’s killed all the security threats, or some other reasons. The quiet is disconcerting.” Louis frowned.

          Billy Mack agreed. “Things did go rather less smoothly than she may have liked for her at Peterson Chemical.”

          Louis looked thoughtful. “Shook her confidence? Possibly. I don’t believe she’s been seen since then. That’s where Hugbot is, correct?”

          Billy Mack nodded. “I think she rather underestimated him.”

          “Many do,” Louis pointed out. “That’s why he’s still alive and with a body count. What would be ideal would be to get Hugbot to Fall at just the right moment, and have him go on a rampage through whatever facility he’s in. Especially if we can get him to the Tower.”

          Billy Mack avoided that particularly goddamn spectacular plan. “I agree that Puriel’s silence is disconcerting. I hadn’t realized quite how long it had been.”

          “Yes, Angels that are that powerful and willing to simply fly in and engage people without direct orders from the God-Machine, I like to know what they’re up to. Most Angels are predictable, and she isn’t. She might even be close to Falling, though I haven’t been able to observe her directly and she’s resistant to my mental probing.”

          “Unfortunately, while I was putting together an estimation, based on her attempts to draw attention away from her facility, I could not triangulate where she was based out of. Not enough data.” Billy Mack frowned.

          Louis frowned back. “I just hope the God-Machine hasn’t decided to make her more stable. It is letting Hugbot operate however.”

          “Hugbot hasn’t acted against other assets, however. His instabilities have in no way been a liability to his or others’ tasks,” Billy Mack pointed out. “Other than making him less pleasant for the other at Peterson Chemicals, but as we both know, the God-Machine doesn’t much care about workplace morale.”

          As they were leaving for their lunch, Quietus split off Jack to go with them for numbers and went out as Miguel. He gave Stefan a call. “Hello?”

          “Hello, Stefan? This is Miguel Navarro Degollada Suárez. I spoke with a man named Jack Stone, who told me I should contact you with a possible business proposition, of cleaning your properties.”

          “Ah, yes, Mr. Stone.” He paused. “We can discuss that. They are not, strictly speaking, my properties, but they are properties I am overseeing. We can certainly discuss that. When can you come by?”

          Miguel smiled. “I am actually open now, and for most of the day.”

          Stefan made a considering noise. “I have a 12:30... how about 1:30?”

          “That will be fine.”

          “Excellent!” Stefan smiled fucking tightlippedly. “You’ll be my 1:30.”

          1:27 found Miguel at Stefan’s office. The uptight ass greeted him like you would expect, “Ah, yes, Mr... I do believe I’ve forgotten your last name.”

          Miguel smiled. “Navarro Degollada Suárez.”

          “Mr. Suárez, it is good to meet you. So, you run a janitorial business?” Stefan settled into his seat after gesturing at an empty chair.

          “I own a janitorial company, yes. A Clean Difference.” Miguel kept up the smile. “I have references, of course.”

          Stefan waved airily. “Of course. What has Mr. Stone told you about my business?”

          Miguel shrugged slightly. “Simply that you had a number of properties that you oversaw, and that he was unaware if you already had someone in place to clean them.”

          “I do not have a set business I always go to, it’s more that when cleaning is required, usually before a client comes back, I hire someone for that particular house. I have no particular attachment to a business, nor have a particularly repudiated any of my previous hires. I would certainly be willing to allow you to have your people clean a few of the houses. I will inspect it and if I find you are quite up to measure, we could arrange a more specific contract.” He frowned. “It would only be when the client is returning, you understand. It would be a waste of effort to clean once a week, say, when there is no one there.”

          “Of course, that is no problem. I would need to know when they would be returning...”

          “Of course. How much warning would you need?” Stefan looked at him sideways.

          Miguel looked thoughtful. “It would depend entirely on the size of the house in question.”

          Stefan nodded goddamn ponderously. “The nature of my business is such that I request knowing a week ahead of time. It is not that unusual to have a client call from the airport and tell me they are flying in and instruct me to have the house ready. It happens more often than one would like, but people who lead a certain lifestyle have particular needs and I employed people who can make sure that those needs are met.”

          “The weeks notice is, as you say, preferable, but in a pinch I could put together a crew that could do such a thing.”

          “The difficult part is that ability to pull something together when someone will be flying in in 5 hours. I’ve never had less than that, but I have come close a few times, particularly with my clients who are in their early twenties.” He had a smug smile on his face, not quite looking at Miguel.

          “Impetuousness is a virtue, I suppose.” Miguel shrugged.

          Stefan didn’t seem to notice. “The houses are cleaned also when they leave, just so that anything left about would not create an odor or some such. Also to get rid of any hangers on. Do find out if they are people of worth before you taze them and throw them out, would you? You understand, we don’t want to get sued.” He checked a calendar. “I believe the next house will need to be cleaned by Monday. I can keep you apprised of what other properties there are after that. After I have a chance to review your work - your people’s work - we can discuss a contract and some sort of retainer.”

          Miguel nodded. “Are the comings and going such that there could be a certain number per month, or is that beyond control?”

          Stefan drew his lips together. “That is beyond my control, though usually there are a certain number per month, but I could not guarantee it. I will have my girl email your office manager with the anticipated move ins.”

          Miguel gave him a card. “A call to that line would be best for the late notices, for the quickest arrangement.”

          “Certainly. Do you have any questions for me, Mr. Suárez?” Stefan raised an eyebrow.

          “Is there anything I should know about these properties? Obviously discretion is of some importance...”

          “Yes,” Stefan answered quickly. “Very important. My client’s do enjoy their privacy and don’t want anything left behind discussed. If they leave behind a dead body, you contact me and not the police, you understand.”

          Miguel nodded seriously. “I see. Yes.”

          “Only happened once, but I like to have a protocol in place.” Miguel nodded again. “Alright. I hope we will be able to create an excellent business partnership, Mr. Suárez. In the meantime, I’ll have my girl contact your office manager and we will begin arranging the weekly emails.”

          “I’ll let them know to expect you.” Miguel stood up when Stefan did, and they shook hands. The snooty gee wished him a good day, then turned his attention fully to the computer, a clear goddamn dismissal. Somehow, Miguel managed to resist the urge to summon up a Molotov cocktail and throw it backwards as he walked out.

          Eventually 3 rolled around and I swung by Maverick’s. Jessie started fixing me a whiskey sour as soon as I walked in the door. I took it with a wink, then rolled my eyes as ‘Bobby’ called me back to his office. Drak let out a deep breath as I walked in. “Hey. So, we’ve got news on the occult matrix. Apparently some people are going to have a fight. There are going to be Angels showing up to make sure things go a certain way, certain bits of furniture get broken, the right person wins, etc. I was told to work with you on this - I’ll be talking to Mr. Black too - and it could be an opportunity to ambush a couple of Angels. He might have plans too, but I haven’t gotten hold of him. It’s gonna be in the next couple of nights. Probably tomorrow.”

          “So you don’t know who the right person or what the certain bits are?” I made a face.

          He shook his head. “I know the furniture is going to need to be ordered, and that the loser is gonna leave and do something important, if he loses.”

          “That last should be easy to fuck up.” I tapped my finger on the desk, thinking. “I guess I can make sure the furniture is ordered from not the usual place...”

          “It seems like a good time for an ambush to me.” He put up his hands. “I dunno though, I’m not Unchained.”

          I sighed. “Yeah. But I’m not letting Angels see me or my Agency here. That’d bring down way too goddamn much heat, and I don’t wanna put that on my friends. Maybe on the way out or something.”

          He nodded. “Right. There’ll be two, not very high powered, I don’t think. A Messenger and a Psychopomp.”

          “Hmm.” I had a thought, and I fucking liked it. “If they do happen to get away, we might be able to get eyes on where they store the Angels around here.”

          “Sure.” He shrugged. “Main thing was I wanted to let you know. Mr. Black’s being hard to contact right now. I’ll let you know if I hear back and he has anything specific.”

          I nodded. “I’ll make sure we’re clear for the next couple of nights. I’ll let you know what plan we kick around. A quick question - do you know any other projects Mr. Black might have going in the city?” He shook his head. “No one you can contact if you get in trouble?”

          “Nah, I just have the one line to him. Sorry.”

          “No worries, bub. Just thought I’d check. Thanks for keeping us in the loop.” I smiled at him before schooling my face into my usual ‘Bobby Right is an amusing prig’ expression as I walked out, leaving my glass with Jessie with another wink.

          When we all got back, we spent a little time brainstorming about what to do with Cornelius Not-A-Farmer. I consider trying to pull a swap on him, have him believe someone else was Nikka for a bit, but in the end we realized that, since we didn’t have any immortals we were willing to throw into the fucker’s meat grinder, that we were caught between failure conditions: we couldn’t have him win, because then he’d realize the person he killed wasn’t an immortal. We couldn’t have him lose, because then he’d body swap and come back after Nikka.

          After a lot of back and forth on variations of that theme, Liz turned to me. “Your girlfriend knows spirit magic, right?”

          “I... I think so.” I cocked my head at her. “At least kinda.”

          “Maybe she could make something that would trap his spirit as it left his body. Then we’d just have to get into a fight.” Liz shrugged daintily.

          I nodded. “Sounds like a plan to me.”

          Billy Mack’s lips quirked. “Perhaps there is room for him in the ghost dick statue.”

          I made a face, then grinned. “Hey, if Miranda can’t rig something up, maybe your friend has something in his shop for us. You’ll have to lemme know how picking it up goes.”

          “Ooh, or maybe we could get him sucked into the soul furnace...” Jack’s eyes widened.

          “No! No. No.” I shook my head. “The only reason the EPA fucker in Ghostbusters wasn’t 100% correct was that they were creepy smart scientists who built that shit themselves and knew what it did and could do.” I pointed at Billy Mack. “He’s creepy smart - emphasis on the creepy - but he sure as hell didn’t build the shit in the hell hole himself and we’ve got no fucking clue what it does.”

          “Alright. Well, a fight I can deal with anyway.” Jack shrugged.

          “Thank fuck...” I muttered. “Oh, also, at Mavericks...” I let them in on what Drak had told me. “I figure the easiest wrench to throw is to make sure the guy who loses doesn’t go off and do something stupid. The furniture thing is more problematic, since we don’t have most details.”

          Liz raised an eyebrow. “Is anyone using the Angels after this? I wouldn’t mind a late night snack...”

          I chuckled. “As long as we don’t ambush them at Mavericks. We could also probably follow them to their storage, but that would put a crimp in the late night snack plan.”

          “On the other hand, if they do immediately go into storage, that could be very useful, and there would be plenty of Angels to nibble on there,” Billy Mack pointed out.

          Liz made a moue. “And what if we figure out it’s on the eighth floor of the Tower or something?”

          I held my hand up. “Another option, something of a compromise, provided they are really low rank... once they complete their mission, they’ll be pretty focused on getting home. If one of them gets abducted a la Sleen, the other might just continue on to storage. One for a snack,” I gestured towards Liz, “and one for tracking.” I gestured towards Jack and Billy Mack.

          “I’m willing to compromise.” Liz said magnanimously. “I just won’t be happy about it. I’ll have to put on my pouty face.” She matched word to deed. I rolled my eyes at her.

          “That would be acceptable, provided we can ambush them in time.” Billy Mack nodded.

          I shrugged. “You should be able to stick right on them. I was thinking we’d split up to cover more territory. I can talk the loser down, Billy Mack can have eyes on the Angels and Jack and Liz can handle the ambush. I guess if they have a teleport or something... but they’ll probably be fucking hoofing it, maybe taking an Uber.”

          Liz kept up her pout. “There is a chance they’ll discorporate.”

          “Right.” I sighed. “If we had a way of IDing them beforehand, we could ambush them ahead of time. Doesn’t get the compromise, but might make the whole screwing things up easier.”

          “We could tweak things and use Cooler Heads Prevail at that point,” Jack pointed out.

          “Only if we get both of them. I don't want any Angels getting a whiff of any of us at Mavericks. I wanna be able to go and ogle wet tshirts at my leisure.” I smirked at Jack. “I think our best bet is to risk the discorporating and hit them after. Of course, Mr. Black may have his own ideas.”

          Billy Mack nodded. “Hopefully he will be able to elaborate on the details as well. The other wrinkle is that the Angels might follow the loser to ensure he acts appropriately.”

          I tapped the desk. “Then we might have to forgo the Angel storage and grab both of them once they’ve followed him. As long as it’s away from Mavericks.”

          I was sending Drak a text with a vague description of our plan, when a text from a random number popped up with a picture attachment. The picture was of a little girl with blonde ringlets and the most ginormous pout and behind her on a “Pretty Pink Princess” bedspread was a ripped dress that was, I guess, adorable? It was covered in fucking flowers at least. I shook my head, stored Veruca’s number in my phone, then brought Greg into existence to let him deal with some business while Jack and Billy Mack made a transmitter for the Infrastructure raid that night. We all gathered back up in time to head to Alfie’s for the meeting for fucking Dieter.

          Liz was looking way nicer than the pretentious fuck deserved, in a tailored suit, tie and heels, with her hair in a pony tail. The rest of us were more like the usual, though Jack pulled a decent suit out of somewhere. Langley greeted us loudly and high pitchedly, with tight jeans on and IZOD shirt with holes cut out for his nipples. I rolled my eyes and followed him back to the room he’d arranged.

          Dieter was in there, still stroking his stick. His nipples, thankfully, were not on display. Once we got in and Langley had shut the door, he presented us with a tray of cupcakes. “The ones with sprinkles are poisoned, and the ones with no sprinkles aren’t.” He took one without sprinkles. So did the rest of us. I dipped mine in my whiskey sour. It was not bad, like a rum cake but with better taste in alcohol, and lemon glaze topping. Liz gave me a look.

          Billy Mack smiled at Dieter over his cupcake. “Thank you for meeting with us.”

          “It is not a problem. I understand that you want to speak with me about something.” His eyes were locked on his stick.

          “Indeed. We have become involved in a matter of some missing occult tomes.”

          “Oh? You have my attention.” His eyes were still fucking locked on his goddamn stick.

          Billy Mack nodded anyway, presumably for Dieter’s peripheral vision. “Obviously, I wouldn’t want to suggest any untoward activity - I certainly know that you and your associates might be interested in such a thing.”

          The vampire nodded. “Yes. It usually proves useful for our experiments to have a greater understanding of magic in general.”

          “And given the nature of our cooperative relationship, I certainly wouldn’t want to find myself working at cross purposes. They were a collection of tomes secreted away at the university, now missing from their rather well hidden location.” Billy Mack kept his tone neutral.

          Dieter raised an eyebrow. “And you want to know if we took them?”

          I shrugged expansively. “Or know ‘f some fucker else who might've.” Billy Mack gestured towards me in confirmation.

          “There is a Mekhet at the university, my own clan...” He sighed. “I’m not certain he has the mental capacity to understand such books however.”

          “From his behavior, he is almost certainly not the one who took them.” Billy Mack shrugged. “In fact, he has been making queries himself as to whether your faction is the one who has taken them.”

          He made a considering noise. “Interesting. No, it was not us. We don’t have any ties to the university. If we had known how to access them, we would have simply read them and put them back, so that he would not realize they were compromised. He probably has not thought that far ahead. The Carthians are good for certain things, but advanced thought is not one of them.” Unfortunately, he seemed to be telling the truth. About the books at least.

          Billy Mack chuckled. “Yes, as I said, I did not intend to imply anything.”

          “Good,” the vampire said testily. “There’s no need for implications, we can simply speak to each other like adults.”

          “It had occurred to me that if someone else had acquired them, they might have gotten to you,” Billy Mack suggested.

          “Well, what is the nature of the books? We are not the Circle of the Crone, ours is an interest in improving the vampiric condition, not navel gazing over the particulars of the universe,” he sneered.

          Billy Mack nodded understandingly. “As I understand it, not having perused the books myself, there are a number of them, without a singular purpose. Some had dangerous large scale rituals, some had to deal with spirits, some with left handed magic.”

          Dieter thought for a moment. “It doesn’t sound of any particular interest to me. If someone offers to sell them to me, I will let you know, in the interests of our continued friendship. I can ask if it was brought to the attention of someone else in the Ordo. I don’t believe so, however.”

          “That would be very kind of you. And I am glad to confirm that it was not you who took them before we delve too deeply into the matter, as we are... friends.” Billy Mack smiled.

          “We are.” Dieter smiled at his fucking stick.

          Langley raised his hand. ”Can I suggest a group hug?”

          “No. No you may not,” Dieter answered quickly.

          “How about group sex instead?” I gave the fucking goober a dirty look over my whiskey sour.

          The vampire frowned. “Group anything is not necessary, thank you Langley.”

          “Are you mad at me?” Langley’s lip quivered.

          Dieter rolled his eyes. “No, I’m not mad at you.” Langley is almost worth it sometimes, when I realize Mr. Baton Stroker has to deal with him on an even more regular basis. He sighed. “As I say, I will contact you if I find anything. These are exciting times, though not for that reason. I’ll let you know.”

          Billy Mack raised an eyebrow. “Your activities at the dam have been going well?”

          “Oh yes. I have learned a great deal...” He trailed off in thought. “But I am sure we are all busy people, so I will take my leave.” He stood to go. Billy Mack stood to shake his hand. I lounged in my seat.

          “Thank you for your time.” Billy Mack smiled.

          Langley cried out excitedly, “Cupcakes before you go.”

          “I don’t want a cupcake, Langley,” Dieter muttered as he swept out of the room. I took another cupcake.

          The boys both grabbed a poison cupcake as we stood to leave. The goober gathered up the rest. “More for the goldfish!”

          He stood at the door, giving everyone a kiss on the cheek as they left. I saw Liz take hers with long suffering dignity. I put a finger to his sternum and pivoted around him, keeping him at arm’s length. So of course he started making motions that, if he were one of Bobby’s girls, would be giving me a hand massage. If that was the price I had to pay to keep him at arm’s length, that was the price I’d pay. Billy Mack reciprocated, European style. He turned back after a step and held up the cupcake with sprinkles. “So what did you put in these?”

          “Oh it’s fun to discover!” Langley grinned.

          “I look forward to it.”

          We made short work of the Infrastructure under the gym. Nobody was around, I found a door unlocked in short order, Billy Mack disabled the guns and we spent a good few hours dismantling everything. The most exciting thing was when Billy Mack used his molecular level sensory equipment to test the cupcake. “My goodness. I'm quite impressed.”


          “South American Tree Frog Venom.”

          Jack dropped his cupcake quickly into Billy Mack’s sample bag and wiped his hands off.

          End Session LX

          Oh Langley, there should be a law against having as much fun playing you as I do.

          Louis/Valefar is fun too, being the Orson Wells Villain.

          The part about the recovering part of the University Infrastructure was brief because they were highly successful. They had a plan, they prepared, and they sidelined the defenses easily. So good on them.

          Okay, moving on to next time, but Comments and Questions Welcome.
          Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 02-11-2017, 05:41 PM.

          Onyx Path Moderator
          Forum Rules
          This is my mod voice. This is my goth voice.
          [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]


          • Quietus’ s player had to miss to deal with expanding family, but Markizel was here. Let’s see what trouble he gets up to.

            Session LXI

            Speed Demon’s Monologues

            When I walked towards the office the next day, the fucking Salvation Army had set up a bell ringer the next store front down from us. To make my day worse, Terry was there when I walked in. After I heard what he was saying, I almost walked back out again, even if the inside was god-damnedly free of bells. “It doesn’t have anything to do with bringing in asteroids from space, does it?”

            I decided against walking out in favor of rummaging around for a bottle. “The fuck?”

            Billy Mack raised an eyebrow. “I was just telling Terry about the occult matrix at Maverick’s tonight.” He turned to Terry. “Not to the best of my knowledge, but at this point, we’re not sure what it’s doing.”

            “That’s a very interesting hypothesis, Comestible...” Liz looked questioningly at Terry. “May I ask where it comes from?”

            “I just need to know if I need to be feeling guilty about something.” Terry shrugged. “I mean, it’s Thursday, so we’re probably alright.”

            Billy Mack gave a slight cough. “If it involves dragging asteroids out of orbit, perhaps you should tell us more.”

            “Should he though?” I asked. No one listened.

            “If an asteroid is pulled out of orbit, it’s a meteor,” Liz corrected the g-man.

            I raised my hands. “Whoa. Whoa. He’s in charge of pedantry, for fuck’s sake. We have roles here.” I grinned at her.

            “Oh. Sorry.” She didn’t look sorry. After a moment’s thought, she frowned at me. “He’s the one who used the word wrong.”

            “Just because he’s shit at his job doesn’t mean you get to take it from him.” I took a big swig from the unlabeled bottle I’d found. Bourbon. Oops.

            Billy Mack looked sternly between us. “It is still an asteroid until it enters the atmosphere.”

            I waved him aside. “Can we talk about the specifics of fucking celestial movements and why the hell Terry’s so concerned while we get shit out of bolthole?”


            After we got started schlepping things around, Liz turned to Terry again. “So what’s this about asteroids, Comestible?”

            “I’m not sure - I’m pretty sure he just wants to talk to things on an asteroid. I don’t think he’s trying to locate it space then somehow bring it to us.” He peered at each piece with interest as he moved them along the chain.

            “He?” I made a face at him.

            He shrugged. “Louie.”

            I frowned. “Louie? Do you mean Louis?” He nodded. “Great. Valefar can talk to asteroids now. Peachy.”

            “I’m sure that could never end badly, in the fiery destruction of all life on earth.” Billy Mack set his piece down carefully and turned to see Terry staring at him wide-eyed. “No, I mean it. He is far more likely to be aiming for a smaller, end-of-civilization-as-we-know-it level of event, as he firmly believes that the centralized globalization has made it easier on the God-Machine, and that if we were to destabilize it and plunge the world into an apocalyptic chaos, that Demons would naturally rise to run all the various fiefdoms that would arise.”

            “Oh yeah.” Terry waved that aside. “Shoulder pads, mohawks, all that sort of thing. I remember that.”

            Billy Mack nodded. “There’s something to his thoughts. We could certainly build much better cars than everyone else.” I rolled my eyes. “Don’t look at me like that. You would do quite well in a Mad Max apocalypse.” I rolled my eyes harder even goddamn harder. “He has a certain point. However, I rather like the internet.”

            Terry started mumbling. “I did not in fact build anything that should really be able to move it, just send signals to it, you know, a beacon and maps and a tracker and...” He trailed off.

            “So he’s just going to talk to it, he’s not going to bring it here?” Billy Mack raised an eyebrow at Terry.

            “He didn’t say what he was going to do.” Terry looked wide-eyed back.

            I grabbed another webbed up bundle. “Is he not going to fucking inhale, either?”

            Terry chuckled. “Maybe he knows someone who lives up there. Maybe he’s looking for a friend.”

            “Perhaps a prince of some form.” Liz smirked. “A very small one, to live on an asteroid.”

            “With his sheep, and his flower, and his volcano...” Terry took the bundle from Liz. “I guess if you live on an asteroid and all you have is a fucking rose, cleaning your volcano is all you have to do. Unless you’re talking about the TV show, then he could hop on other asteroids and shit. Anyway, I’m sure he’s not going to destroy civilization, at least in the next week.”

            Liz sighed. “I just need to know whether to order a whole shitload of cocaine or not. It’s hard to get the Colombian Flake after the apocalypse. And you can not grow cocaine here. Like, in Seattle. The sun has to come out”

            Billy Mack looked thoughtful. “I’m sure, with a sufficient level of environmental controls, we could probably build you a greenhouse to grow cocaine. It would take resources and would be rather large, but once civilization has collapsed, there will no longer be a Drug Enforcement Agency to look into such things.”

            I sighed heavily. Liz looked at me cheerfully. “That sounds like the sigh of someone who needs some cocaine.”

            “Air passages would be more open, once the cocaine’s eaten through,” Terry suggested.

            I shook my head and decided to just pretend the last however the fuck long hadn’t happened. “So, once we get all this shit out, we take a quick trip to Maverick’s, see how much we need to tweak the plan, then you two,” I pointed at the boys, “get this shit working?”

            Terry looked over at me. “Lunch anywhere in there?”

            “Maverick’s has some decent wings.” I shrugged.

            “I’m not sure decent is ever the word you want to use for Maverick’s, but the wings aren’t bad.” Liz smiled at me.

            Terry looked at us seriously. “All wings are good. You just have to believe.”

            ‘Ginny’ was at Maverick’s when we got there, even though it wasn’t quite open. She met us at the door. “Oh, it’s good to see you. You haven’t been by in a while... well, maybe just when Bobby was here.”

            I grinned at her. “It’s been a busy time.”

            “I... oh, I guess you want to come in.” She gestured us in. I snuck past her and behind the bar, serving Sleet Ginny’s preferred drink, and me a whiskey sour. I chatted with her a little bit while Terry wandered around.

            After a few minutes the radio station that Ginny had been playing on an iPod behind the bar suddenly switched to a TV preacher style rant. I switched the station. Around the same time Terry wandered over to the bar. “Some kind of injustice is gonna make a stigmatic Jason Voorhes guy who decides who to kill based on Gears.”

            “Nothing about furniture?” I asked.

            “Not that’s important. The loser’s going to go do something to make this Jason guy happen. So what we have to do, is kill everyone in the room.” Terry nodded matter of factly.

            Sleet’s eyes got wide. “Excuse me?” She didn’t wait for a response before she bolted for the back.

            “Just hypothesizing!” he called after her.

            “Sounds like the plan is the same - stop the loser from fucking shit up.” I stretched.

            Terry looked confused. “Can we stop the fight?”

            I shook my head. “There will be Angels here to ensure a fight happens, and I don’t want the God-Machine to see any Demon activity here at Maverick’s. This is where I come to hang out and judge wet tshirt contests. I don’t want the God-Machine to look at it any harder than it has to.”

            The preacher on the radio was back and started talking about boiling in blood. Sleet frowned at it as she walked up with a large stack of papers. “Here’s the documentation about the furniture companies and such, I think.” I flipped through it, memorizing the details. Mixed in with all the paperwork was some of Bobby’s research into whether or not you could set your own age of consent laws if you declared, say, a bar to be a sovereign country. I sighed heavily.

            “Bobby’s done a surprising amount of actual research on that, you realize?” Billy Mack asked me, looking through things after me.

            “I’m trying not to.”

            He shrugged. “I mean, it doesn’t surprise me that the idea would have crossed his mind. But that he’s put this much work into it...”

            “Trying. Fucking. Not to.” I glared at the g-man, then smiled over at Sleet. “I think the plan’s going to go off as we said before.”

            “So no ricin cane?” Terry asked.

            I rubbed my forehead. “No. No ricin cane. For one, it’s too goddamn slow. For another, there’s no need to kill anyone.”

            “Poison cupcake?”

            “That would work much faster,” I said through gritted teeth, “but we don’t need to kill them.”

            Billy Mack nodded. “Their death might exacerbate things, considering we don’t know what the trigger is. Perhaps the loser will, without intervention, kill themselves, and leave someone behind whose grief turns them to murder.”

            “Oh.” Terry shrugged.

            I ushered them out and waved to Ginny. On the ride home, every radio station I turned to eventually swapped to the ranting preacher. I wound up turning it off about halfway home.

            When we got back to the office, ignoring the goddamn bell ringer, I headed back towards my office. “You guys let me know if there’s anything I need to do, but I think Liz and I’d just be in the way.”

            Liz smiled. “That means I’m free to go get smoothies. What kind would you like?” she asked me.

            “Lime?” I shrugged.

            “I think pomegranate,” Billy Mack spoke up.

            Liz looked at him confusedly. “Is that a euphemism for something?”

            He chuckled. “Often. But I meant as a smoothie.”

            “Alright, fine, he thinks he gets a smoothie.” Liz turned airily to Terry. “You want a smoothie, Comestible?”

            “Nah, I’m good.” Terry gave her a wide-eyed look and a thumbs up.

            She made a motion to pinch at his waist, saying “Don’t you get too thin!” before sashaying out the door.

            He looked at her retreating back with a confused expression. “I eat mostly chicken wings. That’s not going to be a problem.”

            Liz was back after not too long with the three smoothies. I finished off mine with a little spiking. The boys were done in almost no time - it took them about an hour to get a fully set up Aether generator hiding in an invisible corridor in our basement, behind the cigarette/booze/condom vending machine. When I went back to check on them, Terry was muttering to himself, “So, scenarios. What if someone drops a fork and kills everyone in the room?”

            “What? Who the fuck is dropping a fork?” I regretted saying anything immediately.

            “Well, we know furniture’s going to break, and by furniture, I mean, a fork, say.”

            Liz stared at Terry incredulously. “You’re a Psychopomp. You should know better than that. Sure, you greet people by licking them, but you should at least know what tools are!” She paused for effect. “Like I don’t do manual labor because I’m a Messenger. I just sit back and fan myself and get foot massages.”

            Meanwhile, Billy Mack was musing on the fork discussion. “What is that fork made of, if it’s explosive enough to kill everyone in the room? Or I suppose it could be toxic...”

            “Antimony, or something...” Terry nodded. “Or something mundanely radioactive, so they die of cancer in thirty years. Oh wait, that’s gonna happen anyway. TV does that.”

            I let them know I was going to talk to Miranda and headed out.

            I made sure it was a good time for me to head over, and she greeted me at the door and gestured me in. I pulled up a chair at the table while she poured tea. “Had a good day so far?”

            “It was alright.” She sat down next to me. “Dr. Carpenter wants to talk to me about what he’s been looking into with the books?”

            I raised an eyebrow and took too big a sip of my tea. It burned, a little. “Does he?” I managed not to sputter.

            She nodded. “We’re going to go out and work that out, if that’s alright.”

            I swallowed hard. “Sure, why wouldn’t it be alright?”

            “I’ll let you know what I find out.” She looked at me over her mug. “He has some possibilities, but no solid leads.”

            “We’re pretty good at tracking down possibilities. And we might have a little more freedom of motion and particular skills than a college professor.” I grinned at her.

            She smiled back, slightly. “Apparently Dr. Stein’s been getting nosier.” Seems like she’d been talking to Carpenter a lot. “He had some kind of serious row with Dr. Hazard. In front of students, which is frowned upon.”

            I chuckled. “Generally.” A thought occurred to me and I made a considering noise. “Maybe I should point him at the vampires. We ran into him early on and I tried playing nice, since we’d already had experience working at cross purposes with the Room. We know the vampire lead’s a dead end, so it’s safe enough, and it might keep him off Dr. Hazard’s back. Maybe that’ll have him like me a little better.”

            “I don’t know what his issue is with you.” Miranda frowned.

            “Professional hazard. I was poking into shit I shouldn’t be.” I shrugged. “Plus he’s stressed. Dr. Cross said he’s usually more personable in general.”

            She looked thoughtful. “Maybe. On the other hand, I’ve seen Dr. Cross. She’s pretty. That might be affecting things. Of course he was mean to you, so I don’t know.” She smiled again.

            I took a sip of my tea. “Our other case at the moment has hit a bit of a snag. As it turns out, the guy who is dead set on killing our client is a body thief.”

            “Oh.” She sounded surprised. “Well, they’re aggravating. I can try and hypothetically deal with the body thief. I’d need to be physically present and some preparation. But I should be able to prevent him from stealing another body. Do you know what kind of medium he uses, is he in an amulet, for instance?”

            “I don’t think so. He’s a Harvester and developed a way to steal powers from supernaturals he kills. From what our source tells us, he ‘jumps’ from body to body without an intermediate thing. It’s maybe some kind of sympathetic link thing? He’s fond of jumping into loved ones of the people who killed him.” I made an apologetic face.

            She nodded thoughtfully. “That’s sophisticated, but not impossible. That wouldn’t impede my abilities to, essentially, magnetize the soul and draw it into a trap. I’ll have to build a standard one and modify it, so I won’t know if it works until I use it. It is in my particular field, spirits and dimensions being my specialty, so it should work.”

            I grinned. “Well, that’s one less worry.”

            “I could also hypothetically draw his soul into the Abyss. There’s no guarantee that something wouldn’t come back out someday and if anything happened to be waiting on the other side, it could take advantage of the opening, but it is almost certain to work,” she offered.

            I made a face. “He’s fucking bad enough right now. And we’re both long lived enough that I don’t really wanna hedge my bets with something that may come back later.”

            She nodded her understanding. “OK. There is a third option, but I don’t know the state of a Demon’s soul.” I raised an eyebrow. “I could build a soul bomb, so that if he follows along a sympathetic connection, it will go off. It will destroy his soul, and, if you have one, yours. It’s generally the kind of thing you make for a suicide mission, heroism and all that rot. But if you don’t have one, it will do nothing to you. It might explode your cover’s existence. But I will know without testing it whether I’ve succeeded at building what we need.”

            “That sounds great, actually. I imagine, if I have one, it’s tied up in a Cover, and I can make a throwaway for the heroic nonsense part.” I snapped my fingers. “Or... what about Prometheans? They don’t have a soul.”

            She raised an eyebrow. “That’s true. The only problem there would be that it would cause their Divine Fire to flare. Which could be good for the Promethean, but any Pandorans nearby would awaken, further than usual, and the Disquiet caused would spread further than usual. Which wouldn’t affect you, if you don’t have a soul.”

            I made a considering noise. “If that’s the same concept of soul, then I’m even more willing to bet that I’d be safe, since we don’t feel Disquiet. But I can also make a guess as to the consequences we’d face, based on that.” Better let our allies know there might be a hell of a distraction if we went that route. From the sounds of things, it would be louder than Going Loud. “I’ll talk with Billy Mack about it.”

            “I can go ahead and start building it.” She smiled at me.

            “That’d be great.”

            I was about to head out after finishing tea and chatting with Miranda when the agency got a group text from Liz. ‘When are the events at Maverick’s taking place?’

            ‘Tonight, before 2?’ Billy Mack got an answer out first.

            ‘Talking to Nikka. She’s supposed to meet someone at the Grindhouse (hardcore dance club) sometime tonight. Time is currently flexible, it’s open til 3.’

            ‘Does 2 work?’ I asked.

            Liz checked with Nikka. ‘She made faces, but yes. What about 2 as a latest, hopefully earlier, since we’re potentially free earlier? She made a face to that too, but a less unpleasant face.’

            I answered quickly. ‘Her face is never unpleasant.’ Then in another text, ‘She there? If so, can she wait for a bit? I’ll head back, let her know the next steps.’

            ‘She can. Do you own anything appropriate for the Grindhouse, or do you need to borrow something from me?’

            I frowned at my phone. ‘Suits are appropriate anygoddamnwhere.’

            ‘Sure.’ I could imagine her disgusted expression.

            I smirked and kissed Miranda on the cheek. “Work calls. See you later?”

            When I got past the damn bell ringers, Nikka greeted me with a hug and a kiss. I gave her a crooked grin. “Hey doll.”

            “How are you?” She smiled back.

            I kept up the small talk as I walked her back to the conference table. “We made some interesting discoveries about Cornelius, or Ernesto, as he sometimes calls himself. He apparently has figured out some way to gain the power of any supernatural he kills.”

            She frowned. “I have heard of Harvesters doing that. I did not know he could.”

            “He has killed a body thief.” Her face fell somewhat. “But we have contacts and provided we work out a way to ensure a particular one of us is the one to finish the job, we can booby trap the hell out of the sympathetic link he uses to hop bodies.”

            “OK.” She nodded slightly. “What would be my task?”

            I leaned back in my chair. “Probably to lure him somewhere convenient. The booby trap is, well, fucking loud. We don’t want it to interfere in anything nearby.” I smiled over at her. “Until it’s all set up... staying safe.”

            She looked serious. “I should be able to do that. The purchaser, at Grindhouse, wanted to make a large purchase of specific anti-rejection pharmaceuticals. I am not certain that it is not a trap. I have not dealt with this person before, but I have dealt with someone who knows this person. I will be looking for a specific garment.”

            “Would either of those people mentioned be a Sandra?” I asked, one eyebrow raised.

            “That is the one I have dealt with before. Cynthia Locke is the name of the purchaser.”

            I nodded. “I don’t think he’ll challenge us in force. So even if it’s supposed to be a trap, as long as we’re all there, it should be safe enough to test. It does sound like an excellent place for a trap.” I paused for a moment. “Or to do business.”

            Liz bustled through the conference room, glancing apologetically at Nikka. “I need to go by the university. I’ll be at Maverick’s.” I nodded a goodbye and she continued through.

            “Now, if we can talk him out of it, fucking great. But he’s pretty dead set on finishing out his hunts, from what we’ve heard, and we’ve gotta go in prepared to defend ourselves, get me?” She nodded. I thought for a moment. “Have you heard of the Brotherhood?”

            “Yes. Several of them got killed in Johannesburg last year.”

            I filed that tidbit away. “He’s a big guy in the organization. This isn't one of their jobs - in fact, they want him to cut it out and get back to work. We’re working that angle too, to see if we can’t get them to do a better job calling their fucking rabid dog off before he gets dealt with. But mostly, we’re in a holding pattern until we get what we need to stop the body jump.”

            “Understood.” She stood to go. “You will call when you are free to go to the Grindhouse?”

            “We will.” I smiled at her.

            She nodded her goodbye. “Thank you.”

            I decided to follow Louis’ advice, and left a business card at Gabe’s laundromat with Demonic symbolism on it, specifically that I could be reached at extension x4444. If nothing else, I expect Gabe to know more about the workings of the Brotherhood than Amy Sandoval and if we were lucky, he was in fact one of us and we could talk real fucking business.

            I was back in the office for a bit, prepping to head to Maverick’s when I heard a noise from the lab. When I poked my head in, a fully transformed Kilroy was straightening up one of the tables where his exit phone had been sitting.

            He nodded at me as I wandered in. “Well, you’re here on time. Do I wanna know...?” I let the question hang.

            “That escalated quite quickly.” He brushed himself off.

            “Where were you?” I raised an eyebrow.

            He shrugged. “I was in a Chinese brothel, trying to collect a man’s heart.”


            “Well, Mr. Ox told me a story.” He righted the last beaker and turned to me with a smile.

            I put my hands up. “Nope, nope, nope, I’m done.” I turned to go, and then back around. “Why did...? No. No. Done.” I tried to leave one more time, but my curiosity got the better of me. “Why the hell did he tell you a story?”

            Kilroy shrugged again. “I had had the thought, that if Miranda was unable to acquire something to deal with Ernesto’s spirit transferal, Mr. Ox might have something suitable. I was explaining this to Terry, and we decided it was best to go ahead and put preparations for such a ‘Plan B’ in place. Plus, Terry had not yet met Mr. Ox, and I thought it would be enlightening for him.

            “It took us some time, but eventually we found The Road to Hell, between a Starbucks and a Toys-R-Us, which I found quite appropriate. Terry seemed suitably impressed as he wandered around the store getting unfortunately close to things and Mr. Ox was, of course, not surprised to see us again. When I told him about Ernesto, he countered with a story of his own: ‘Once upon a time there was a man named Lu. Lu was...’

            “Terry interrupted him, it being his way. ‘Trying to pull down an asteroid from space? No, sorry, that was Louis.’

            “Mr. Ox continued without reacting, a man after my own heart, ‘...from a large family, specifically a family that entirely lived within a brothel. His mother had many children, but Lu was the only male child. As he grew older, he became the protector of the family, but times at the brothel were often difficult, and sometimes the local law would try to come down on them, so Lu determined he would have to make sacrifices. Ultimately, this involved selling several sisters against their will to a business associate in California. Lu did what he felt he had to do, but he clearly seemed to lack a heart though one still seemed to beat in his chest. Perhaps if his heart, so cold, were to end up here, you might find what you needed.’ A reasonable trade, it seemed to me.”

            “Oh, for fuck’s sake.” I rubbed my forehead and looked for my flask. “So how did this result in a banged up Robocop teleporting into our lab?”

            He continued, as unperturbed as Mr. Ox had apparently been. “I asked where I might find Lu, and his only response was to remind me that stories have twists and turns. Of course, Terry was not put off by this, ‘So, does the story take place in a certain district perhaps? A mystical location, perhaps a color of brick, some numbers, and address?’ The mechanic contorted his face. ‘Sorry, not subtle. It’s just it’ll be easier to find out how the story ends if we...’ He trailed off, but Mr. Ox was no more forthcoming. He did mention, so we left, that there was a man in need of a heart, and that perhaps they would finally have a heart of their own. I’m not certain what that was referring to, probably nothing important. He certainly was amused at the thought.

            “So we took our leave and spent some time looking for this Lu. Vivian had the contacts to find a list of Chinese brothels so once I’d reassured Terry after the shop’s disappearance, reminded him of the other items from the shop we knew about - the statue made of ghosts’ reproductive organs in particular - and chided him for his straightforward moralistic philosophies, we began checking into each of them in turn. While Vivian's contacts were helpful in finding the brothels, her race resulted in nothing but suggestions that she leave and, on one occasion, to self fellate.”

            He was treading right the hell over my patience, but I knew it’d be over quicker if I didn’t interrupt him. So I pulled up a chair and started drinking.

            “Eventually, one I changed into Billy Mack, we found a massage parlor where asking for Lu got us ushered to the back, by a woman who assets Terry was particularly pleased by. We were escorted into an office occupied by a man behind a desk, and two serious looking women flanking him, sitting at each side of the desk.

            “We got the pleasantries out of the way quickly, moving onto the business at hand. He did not seem to respond to the name Ox, but my mention of his dealings, specifically my... contact’s proclivities towards vengeance and his family, appeared to rankle him. He did protest that he was a ‘hardworking man, who has protected his family as best he can’.

            “I did, of course, use Sum of All Fears to better understand what he would not tell me. He was certainly afraid of me, with definite ambitions - citywide expansion of his control of brothels and that particular aspect of the underworld of Seattle. The two women were his sisters, and certainly quite loyal to him.

            “I attempted to unruffle his feathers, but I suppose I was too explicit about what I knew for his comfort. He insisted that my contact was a liar, and that if this ‘Ox’ had accusations to make, he should make them to him directly.

            “After we took our leave, we found 2 men with automatic rifles and one with a shotgun attempting to ambush us from behind the less excessive than I’d originally believed gauzy curtains...”

            I looked him up and down. “You don’t appear to be shot.”

            He frowned at me, slightly. “No, that was Terry.” I remembered that I’d told myself I wasn’t going to interrupt, and had another drink. “He got shot almost immediately, and was nearby taken down, as we were not transformed. However, he managed to maintain his conscious state long enough to enforce reality into stopping the fight and then shift into his own Demon form.

            “We then retreated through the corridor back towards Lu’s office. I had caused some ripples in the fabric of reality with my own change. Markizel’s change, however, had garnered much more attention. I believe we will be having to deal with that attention he currently has at some point in the not too distance future.

            “Despite his safe perch on the ceiling, Markizel seemed particularly reticent to follow me upstairs, but he did, regardless. Upon reaching the office, we found that his sisters had both armed themselves with pistols and they had received reinforcements - another pair of machine gun wielding bodyguards. Lu himself was also armed. I told Markizel to run, trusting in his Urban Fluidity to allow him escape, and possessed Lu.

            “Unfortunately, the office had no windows, so Markizel was forced to retrace his steps yet again, though he was able to do it at quite a prodigious speed, and, once downstairs, he was able to bypass the Tong’s Flying Guillotine wielding enforcer and her five goons entirely by teleporting to a nearby building that he could see through the open doorway.”

            I held my hands up for a pause. “Whoa. Where the fuck did she come from?”

            Kilroy looked as upset as a Robocop knock off can. “I do not know. It was quite inconvenient, as she seems to have some ability to detect when someone is being possessed. She killed Lu immediately. Well, she killed him as soon as she had sent his hirelings off to chase Markizel. That did have somewhat of a silver lining, as it will be much easier to acquire his heart now, provided we can locate wherever his body is being stored.

            “Once I had rematerialized in this form, she attempted to repeat her maneuver and remove my head. In another interesting stroke of luck, the pair of Hunter Angels attracted by Markizel’s clumsy change interfered with her shot, allowing me to escape here, via Dataform. I presume they also cleaned up and erased her memory as well, unless she killed them.”

            I held my head in my hands. “So lemme get this straight. Terry’s got Hunter Angels after him, Lady Guillotine has seen the two of you and possibly doesn’t remember it, possibly does and if she does, she’s got experience in killing goddamn Angels now. And how’d you get banged up?”

            He glanced at his arm. “One of the Angels got a swing in before I managed to convert myself fully into data.”

            “Great. And all this happened because Mr. Goddamn Ox wanted some random fucker’s heart in exchange for... ‘something helpful’. That was plan B. Plan A worked. You don't go on to plan B if plan A worked.” I explained Miranda’s offer.

            “Mr. Lu is dead now. It would be a waste not to follow through at this point.” Kilroy pointed out.

            I sighed. “Whatever, it’s fucking done. I suppose we’ll be picking Terry up on the way to Maverick’s?”

            Billy Mack’s phone buzzed just as he shifted back into that form. He glanced at it and nodded to me. “He just texted me an address. Apparently his shirt is fucked.”

            “We’ll bring him a spare one.”

            Once we’d gotten to Maverick’s, I turned around to look at Terry. “So you had some problems with your change?”

            “It did appear that the Eye of Sauron glanced my way. I noticed it between the fucking pellets that riddled my body at the time.” He grimaced.

            “You wait in the car.” I hopped out and popped my head into the place, waving Naomi over. “The boys had fun today and Terry’s not allowed in Maverick’s while we know there will be certain people around. So, would you mind...” I handed her my keys, goddamn reluctantly, “going ahead and being in place for the ambush? You’ll need to be mobile, since we don’t know which direction they’re going. You two were going to be Team Outside anyway, and I don’t want him having any more fun. Plus he’s still kinda got some buckshot, in places.”

            She nodded. “A vampire, roughly college age looking, was in Angela’s room. Heather confronted her and got seduced. I had to rush out earlier cause I got a text from Heather saying she just fucked a vampire.”

            I smirked. “Billy Mack’ll be happy?”

            “Except now the vampire’s taken off and we don’t know what she wanted.” Naomi frowned. “Everyone’s looking for something in fucking Angela’s room. She would not have lied to me about having the books. Maybe it’s unrelated, but I doubt it. She wasn’t one of the vampires I saw at the meeting, at least from Heather’s description. I guess she could have dyed her hair and shit.”

            “I could take a look through her repressed memories, see if it’s a fugue thing? That was our running hypothesis of how it would be reasonable to suppose Angela had anything.” I shrugged. “We can check it out tomorrow, if you and her and comfortable with that.”

            She nodded. “I’ll make sure she’s comfortable with it.”

            I rolled my eyes. “Well, I’m gonna go watch a bar fight. Make sure they don’t get into too much trouble.” I sighed. “They went to go see Mr. Ox.”


            “Ask him. I tried with Billy Mack and did not get anything near a good enough answer.” I hooked a thumb towards Terry and went inside Maverick’s.

            I ordered a couple of drinks and grabbed a seat at the bar. Billy Mack settled into the booth the Reptoids have arranged for him to have, where he could see the room and wouldn’t be hassled. I didn’t have much luck scanning the room for Angels, and neither did Billy Mack, from what he said later.

            Trouble didn’t start up too late. It was about 8 when Kilroy’s future cultist, Bobby, started going on about his time with the aliens, saving the galaxy, doing all the alien chicks and rocking some video games. After the first anecdote, fucking Kyle started heckling him, making cock sucking motions and accusing Bobby of making shit up. The last straw was “I can drop acid and make shit up too!”

            Bobby quickly starting beating the fucking shit out of Kyle. I can’t say I wanted it to go a different way - not that I disagreed with his heckling in this particular situation, but man, is the fucker punchable. He didn’t help his case in my eyes by calling out that any Latina honeys better watch this before he went at it.

            Furniture did get broken, and the first bar stool that crashed into the bar reminded to send Terry and Naomi a text. Since Kyle was his... friend?, I figured he’d be better at consoling the loser than I would, so I gave him the heads up. ‘Possible swap. Loser = Kyle.’

            Naomi responded quickly. ‘Knew that.’

            ‘My Kyle?’ was Terry’s response.

            ‘Yes. That’s why we’re going to swap place - you’re in charge of making sure he doesn’t do... anything stupid. >.<’ It was hard typing out those last two words.

            Terry’s eyes widened. ‘You just said that.’

            I sighed. ‘OK, I take it back. Can you at least stop him from making a schismatic slasher?’

            ‘I can certainly try.’ I winced at that. And a little from Kyle’s “La Rasa!”

            Billy Mack sent me a text. ‘I was considering recruiting him as a minion. It is good to see he has some potential as a combatant.’

            I shot him a look. ‘He is capable of beating up a former white supremacist who has precisely 2 brain cells to rub together. Congratulations, you have set the bar very low.’

            Kyle tried for one more charge, yelling out his new battle cry “PENIS!” but Bobby laid him out again. He got to his feet huffing, “I’m gonna come back with some of my big badass friends and kick your ass!” With that courageous promise, he ran out of the bar. There was a scattering of applause.

            Four patrons followed him. I let Terry know he’d left and followed myself. The stupid fucker was yell-singing the goddamn Rocky theme as he ran down the street. Thankfully, I could see Terry moving to head him off. Just in time, as Kyle appeared to have noticed a group of 4 tough looking Latino guys and was making a beeline for them, yelling “Hola!”

            Terry called out at just the same time, “Kyle! Dude! Buddy!”

            “Terry!” Kyle stopped and turned towards the mechanic. “You need to come help me kick this guy’s ass, he cheated.”

            “OK, just, come over here. I’ve know exactly what we need.” Terry gestured him over.

            Kyle waved at the group of toughs. “Uno momento, senores.” He looked to Terry. “What do we need?”

            “Chicken wings. Come on. Seriously.” He kept gesturing towards the opposite direction of the toughs and the bar.

            I was keeping an eye on the four fuckers following him. One of the dames, presumably here for the wet tshirt contest from the look of things, looked upset at that particular turn of events, and glanced at the four men. Kyle’s head turned towards them and he clenched his fists. “Wait a minute. Did you hear what he called me?” Terry looked at him confused. “We gotta show those guys who’s boss.”

            “We will. After chicken wings. Come on.”

            Terry tried to start walking but Kyle ignored him. The mechanic sighed heavily before walking up quickly behind him and giving him a sharp jab to the back. Kyle passed out, with Terry just barely grabbing him. I thought about giving Terry a high five. He picked up the slumping fuckhead and started resignedly walking down the street.

            Not too far down, Naomi picked him up. She sent me a text. ‘No ambush tonight. I’ll take these two home.’

            I sent her an acknowledging text, still keeping an eye on the four I assumed were Angels. I didn’t follow them - no point, without Clytemnestra to eat one, since Billy Mack could keep an eye on them much easier. He tracked them all the way back to their apartments, 3 of them in the same building.

            Naomi dropped the two men off a little ways away from Rapture Pines, her hunger put off with promise more Angels to come, whenever they tracked Terry down.

            Terry dragged Kyle in there himself, since Naomi refused to go inside. An old man stopped him in the hallway. “Do you have a foot doctor you’d recommend?”

            “I’m sure there’s some in the phonebook?” Terry at least tried to be fucking helpful.

            “I was just wondering if you had a recommendation,” the old man creaked.

            Terry looked at him wide-eyed. “I don’t.”

            The old man shrugged, and pointed at Kyle. “How much for him?”

            “Um...” Terry kept staring. “Mogwai not for sale.”

            “Oh alright.” The man doddered off.

            Terry got to Kyle’s apartment, his old place, without being hassled any more, turned the TV to HBO. He shifted aside a big pile of pesos from the fuckhead’s coffee table to put a beer on in, so he could have warm American beer when he woke up, I guess. I don’t try and figure out how the hell his mind worked.

            End Session LXI

            Markizel failed a Cover Check, which is what brought the Hunter Angel thing. I actually intervened OOC, as based on how the dice fell Kilroy would have been killed. I reserve the right to unfairly fuck with him once later. That’s why the Angels came out of nowhere.

            Mr. Ox is a Chinese Ox Demon who appeared several times in Geist: Balance of Shadows. This was his second appearance in Night Train Detective Agency. I do not intend him to be as regular here as he was there.

            Kyle is a fuckhead, isn’t he?

            Okay, that’s all for now. Comments and Questions welcome

            Onyx Path Moderator
            Forum Rules
            This is my mod voice. This is my goth voice.
            [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]


            • Markizel is precious; he actively knows he causes problems but still tries to do the best he can, he knows all kinds of references, and he can speak fluent insanity. It's nice having him back for a time, even if Quietus had to miss the session in turn. I wonder how he knocked out Kyle...

              I have to say, I like the caution everyone took regarding the barfight, as well as the barfight itself. It's a little funny at how important it ended up being for just a single punch-up, and yet it was such a relatively quiet, normal event everyone not in the know wants to forget. It gives a real sense of the paranoia Demons must face in these circumstances.

              Also, unrelated to the latest game, is Miranda's son still corrupted and or in the wardrobe? Last I remember she refused the medicine that would have removed the taint from him, but the implication is that the taint spreads so having him still there seems a little...odd.


              • Yeah. Player missed the next session but hopes to be back more. He is just so tired so much of the time.

                Thanks, the barfight actually had a lot of thought behind it.

                Okay, honest answer: The players were originally supposed* to kill Miranda. She is an Abyss-tainted Mage, who summons Abyss-tainted things in the world. She is a bad thing, objectively speaking. A Scelestus. The very word means wicked or abominable. But she is inoffensive, and has no intention of harming the PCs. She is friendly. Well, kind of friendly. Sort of. But she is a bad thing for the world, something that brings the world's cancer in remission back. They didn't.

                So how to deal with her son? he is an abyssal entity. The medicine would almost certainly kill him. It's a depressing storyline, helping a mother kill her own child, or killing her to kill her baby. In the end, I consulted Speed's player and we decided we did not want to fucking deal with it. There is some grimness, there is dark, there is horror, and then there is fucking bleak. Given some OOC things going on, we mutually decided to drop the plot point. I do not expect it to come up again.

                There is your answer. Sorry it is not a more satisfying one.

                *well, not supposed, but the most likely path was. The players are not "supposed" to do anything but play and not be dicks, which they do both of those things well.

                Onyx Path Moderator
                Forum Rules
                This is my mod voice. This is my goth voice.
                [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]


                • Here's hoping that things improve for him soon. Also, I just realized that Knockout Punch could easily have knocked out Kyle.

                  Thank you for being so honest about Miranda; it's interesting when player characters so significantly change the intended progress of an NPC, from foe to loved one. I recall something similar happened in Malibu Dream House, regarding Insincere Marguerite and Julia. I can see why the group didn't kill Miranda, too, or (from Speed's writings) even really consider doing her harm. She didn't come in as threatening, just unusual what with the magic aspect, and she doesn't even seem to be actively doing harm. Then again, I'm not that familiar with Mage and the scale a Scelestus like her affects the world, but given how she allows herself and her family home to be cleansed with surprisingly little prompting (and with due worry on both sides for a proper method to apply it without killing her), she strikes me as a sort of black sheep of the group.

                  As for the plot point being dropped, I completely understand and support the decision. Even without OOC events (which I shall not inquire about), I can imagine that people would be uneasy with going about resolving it. Be they monsters or normal, killing a child isn't something done lightly, even before bringing their parents into it.

                  Something I've found from the Demon game I'm in at the moment, even as reality warping beings, Demons don't have a lot of answers for the bleak things in the world. Otherwise the war against the God-Machine would be far easier to complete in a victory, and the world of Darkness would be far less...well, dark.


                  • Sorry I missed that in my response. Nah Terry just hit him...he was very close to being knocked out with Bashing.

                    You are correct about Julia Oldacre, Scelesti are a variable group, more a label for a type of Mage than organization per se. And, well, it's what you do for love.

                    Both the last paragraphs are well true.

                    Thanks for the feeback and questions!

                    Onyx Path Moderator
                    Forum Rules
                    This is my mod voice. This is my goth voice.
                    [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]


                    • Glad to make them. I do have one more question, however; was Naomi Cruz a soul pact Clytemnestra acted upon, or was she just a patchwork cover constructed quite early on? From experience, patchworks are rather laborious to make, and I'm not entirely sure how someone could make themselves a relative of someone else as said patchwork unless it was through marriage.


                      • Naomi Cruz is not a soul pact; Clytemnestra abhors them, with her general feeling humans are somehow more real than she is. IIRC she was cobbled from different non soul pacts, including with Cecília and some college students.

                        Child covers at least suggest unless they are consuming child souls it can be done.

                        Onyx Path Moderator
                        Forum Rules
                        This is my mod voice. This is my goth voice.
                        [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]


                        • The investigations continue. Still without Quietus a bit longer. Just the trio this time, but they manage to get some hijinx in. A night of dancing in the club, a villain is unmasked.

                          Session LXII

                          Speed Demon’s Monologues

                          We got to Grindhouse, sans Terry, a little later. Billy Mack was looking his goddamn g-man-iest, Liz was in a PVC catsuit and Naomi was on leash, wearing a fishnet body stocking. I had on a suit. As we walked in, we were greeted by Marilyn Manson’s cover of Tainted Love.

                          The place was fucking loud, crowded and big, though it still managed to feel claustrophobic. I blame the cages. There were a few familiar faces - Heroin and Tar were there, as was Sharon Needles and Jack’s mind fucking vampire friend. Nikka wasn’t there yet, but I did manage to get eyes on Portia, the woman she was meeting. I picked up a table that let me keep eyes on her, and on the door and settled in to wait.

                          Liz graciously unhooked Naomi long enough for her to get us some drinks. I gave Liz a dirty look. Liz smiled sweetly at me. “You want her to do you under the table? She will if I tell her to.”

                          “No,” I answered shortly.

                          Billy Mack, wisely, I’m fucking thinking, decided to go bother Sharon Needles before settling in with me and ‘Mistress’ Liz. She noticed him as he walked up, and stepped off the dance floor to meet him. “Can I buy you a drink?” He smiled g-man-ishly at her.

                          “The bouncers let you in?” She looked at him skeptically. He shrugged and nodded. “Not really dressed to blend, are you?”

                          “That wasn't the objective, no,” he agreed. “We have a client coming in later, who wants to make sure nothing untoward happens during her meeting.”

                          Now it was Sharon’s turn to shrug. “Alright. You can get me a Black Widow.” After the promised drink was gotten, she took a sip and turned back to him. “So who’s your client?”

                          “Just a young lady, doing some business,” he deflected.

                          “A whore?” She gave him a look. “I don’t care, if you have a whore,” she was quick to reassure him, still in her usual near monotone.

                          He shook his head. “No, I don’t believe she sells her own body parts.”

                          She took a sip. “I didn’t think anyone could make whoredom sound less sexy. And yet, you did.”

                          “I’m talented that way. I’m sure if you asked Liz, she’d be more than willing to vouch for it.” He scanned the room, still keeping an eye on shit.

                          “That would involve speaking to her.” She frowned.

                          Billy Mack raised an eyebrow. “Most people do find that a reasonably enjoyable experience. Robin, for instance.”

                          Sharon scoffed. “I don’t think they really... talk. I think something gets put in her mouth.”

                          “Oh no. Really. There are distinct limits of human endurance. They have to take breaks and talk sometimes.” Billy Mack sounded fucking certain.

                          “If they reach the limit of human endurance, surely they’d want to rest their jaw and not talk.” Sharon looked unconvinced.

                          Billy Mack conceded the point. “I would not know the specifics, I have not been invited to join them, oddly enough.” He gave her a dry smile.

                          Sharon gave him a goddamn confused look. “Elizabeth’s a dyke, right?” Billy Mack shook his head. “She has a she-bitch.” Sharon pointed at Naomi.

                          “The she-bitch is. But Elizabeth herself is more open minded and does not feel the need to limit herself in such a manner.” The g-man shrugged.

                          “I suppose that’s fair enough. If you want to cram your face in an odd-smelling part of someone’s body, one is just as good as another.” Sharon took a sip of her drink. “But then Pham says I could follow teens around talking to them about sex to turn them off, so... She suggested schools might hire me for that. I hit her. I mean that non sexually.”

                          “Of course you did. Such is what one endures when one is the member of one’s group who is not obsessed with such things.” He managed to look put upon. He, Billy ‘I fuck monsters’ Mack, managed to look put upon. Fucking Demon powers.

                          She frowned. “I don’t think Robin is obsessed with that sort of thing. I mean, Pham’s kinda a ho.”

                          Billy Mack shrugged. “Fair enough. But once people start to get attached, they get obsessed in a different manner.”

                          “She hasn't let her cut into her performance.” Sharon shrugged. After a moment of silence, she glanced at Heroin. “I’m glad Pham’s not here anyway. That girl she often goes and gets up to destructive hi-jinx that may or may not end up on the evening news is here, and I’d rather them not start talking again.”

                          Billy Mack sighed. “Ah yes, I know that feeling. One of my associates has some friends that do get on the evening news when they go off together. I think we’ve mostly broken him of that habit.”

                          Sharon raised an eyebrow. “Do you have suggestions? Does a cattle prod help? Cause she just seems to get turned on when I hit her with one.”

                          “That would rather defeat the purpose,” he agreed.

                          “I did ask her if she wanted to come out tonight, just cause she enjoys dancing and it would be someone to talk to, but she said she had something to do and loudly flopped her arm on the table.” She took a sip. “Which was a sexual reference.”

                          Billy Mack nodded knowingly. “It usually is.”

                          They sat in silence for a moment, Sharon enjoying her drink before she spoke up again. “Sambuca’s good shit but you rarely hear about it. Everyone’s always talking about other types of alcohol.” She took a sip. “A Black Widow is vodka and sambuca. Drink enough of it and you pass the fuck out. I’m not gonna drink enough of it for that.”

                          “That seems like it would be for the best. Being passed out is often an inconvenient position to be in.”

                          “I like to achieve a sufficient amount of intoxication to go out and dance on the floor and not care how foolish I look doing it.” She glanced out into the crowd of people. “Considering most people around me look like idiots, I suppose I’m blending in.”

                          Billy Mack smiled. “Isn’t the whole purpose of dancing to look like an idiot?”

                          She frowned slightly. “It is either because you enjoy it in and of itself, or it is to attract people to have sex with. I enjoy it, it brings me in touch with my emotional side,” she continued in her fucking near monotone.

                          “As long as you’re doing it for a good reason.” He glanced out at the crowd himself, eyes sharp for any of our targets.

                          “That and Robin insisted I need to get out more.”

                          “Ah, be careful not to say that around any of my associates. They might get it in their heads that I should.” Billy Mack raised an eyebrow.

                          She thought for a moment. “Possibly. Your associates are weird. For one thing, they walk around in the Underworld when they aren’t supposed to.”

                          Billy Mack took the opening and ran with it. “That does remind me of something. We might need to travel through the Underworld at some point in the near future.”

                          “Why?” Her voice was goddamn sharp.

                          “We’re going to need to not be on this plane of existence after we do something,” he began.

                          Her lips quirked into something that was almost a smile but not really. “I can help you with that.” She took a sip. “Why the Underworld? Why not the Shadow?”

                          He smiled. “Gabe’s car isn’t outfitted to drive into the Shadow.”

                          “Why?” The question was less pointed this time. “If you can outfit it to drive in the Underworld, why not the Shadow? Is it because you’d rather anger us than the werewolves?”

                          “When you put it that way...” He trailed off. “We are on better terms with you than with the werewolves.”

                          She shrugged. “For now. Because you don’t keep driving your car into the Underworld. It could change. It’s also really only because our associate leader has been getting fingerblasted by one of your people for so long.”

                          Billy Mack chuckled dryly. “Which is all the more reason to take care of things while we can, and why I am bringing this up now.

                          She sighed. “If you must go into the Underworld, I’m sure something can be worked out. Just try not to bother anyone? People are dead, they have enough problems.”

                          “That would be our desire, to do this without any great disruptions. It is merely that we will be doing something that will attract a large amount of attention, and I believe you are aware of the sorts of things that might happen when we attract the wrong kind of attention.” Billy Mack held her gaze for a moment.

                          “Will I get to murder robots?” She raised an eyebrow. “I like murdering robots. Especially when they don’t know I’m coming.”

                          “Sadly, this will probably bring out much larger and more dangerous ones that you’ve dealt with in the past,” Billy Mack said fucking regretfully. “And worse, they will come prepared for a fight. So we will need to leave quickly, the most efficient way being through the Underworld. Which we wish to do in the least disruptive way possible, because we are neighborly like that.”

                          She sighed again. “Alright. That does remind me, you need to have your village idiot contact the Burning Man so we can have that sit down and work things out. Preferably while Robin’s still doing the two finger tango with one of your people.”

                          Billy Mack nodded. “That would grease the wheels, as it were.”

                          “Gross.” She sipped her drink. “I presume ‘grease the wheels’ is a euphemism for robot sex?”

                          “Actually, in this instance, I was using it as the standard colloquialism but it could also serve as a euphemism in some situations. I don’t believe Liz has any wheels, however.” He nodded.

                          She frowned. “Good. Pham might be disappointed, but...”

                          Billy Mack looked thoughtful. “I don’t imagine she really wants to deal with wheels and gears as part of someone.”

                          “I don’t like to think about what she’s into.” She made a face. “Gross.” She shook her head and took a drink. “Well, anyway, I can’t unilaterally give you permission to go into the Underworld. I’ll talk to the others.”

                          “There is still some time before we will be needing that escape route. We still have to acquire the flare, and make the arrangements to lure the individual in question out. But considering he has been extending his life via the life spans of others and/or stealing other’s bodies...” He shrugged. “Not that that is why we are putting him down, but it is a good reason to, no?”

                          She shrugged. “I’ve killed people for less of a reason. Like going into the Underworld without permission. For example.”

                          Billy Mack smiled. “Which is why you in particular are who I am bringing this up to ahead of time.”

                          “Well, I’ll talk to the others about whether we should murder you or not.” She took a sip of her drink. “I’ll definitely put in a good word for the fact that you asked. It’d be a better word if I didn't suspect you were going to do it anyway.”

                          “If you said no, we would do our best to find another means. The Underworld would become our last resort, at that point. After all, if you said no and we did it anyway, we’d probably be walking into an ambush,” he pointed out.

                          “I do like murdering robots...” She gave him a hard look, then shrugged. “Pham says I talk about murder a lot. Robin says I talk to Pham too much.”

                          He smiled. “It is important to stay true to what you really enjoy in life. And Pham is certainly an interesting young woman.”

                          She made an agreeing noise and finished her drink. “Well, I feel suitably intoxicated, so I’m going to go dance some. I’ll talk to you later, if you like.”

                          “Do enjoy your evening. I’m sure my client will be here soon, I need to get back in the business of looking narcish and intimidating.” He smiled.

                          “Sure. Just don’t get kicked out.” She nodded and headed over to the dance floor. Billy Mack wandered back over to our table.

                          “Have fun?” I asked over my drink.

                          He smiled. “Of course. Sharon is a delightful conversationalist.”

                          Liz looked fucking dubious. “Yeah... She’s a little creepy.”

                          “That depends on one’s perspective.” Billy Mack looked smug. “She has agreed to put in a good word for us, as far as traveling through the Underworld at the completion of this business goes.”

                          Sanctified by Nine Inch Nails started playing as I raised my glass for another sip. “Fucking peachy.”

                          Naomi made a face. “Could they have, like, more vivid heterosexual description in a song? This song is gross.” Liz got a pair of underwear out of her purse and put it in Naomi’s mouth.

                          “You can thank me later.” Liz smiled at us.

                          “And Jack isn’t here for it. Tragic.” Billy Mack looked sad for a moment, then got out his phone and took a picture. I ignored all three of the motherfuckers and put on my sunglasses, having decided to go fishing in Portia’s memories to check for traps. Billy Mack took a cue from that and did a scan of his own. “She is afraid of Team Tomorrow and of her organs failing. She is quite attached to Heroin... Interesting. She is working towards upgrading herself so that she can increase her reflexes and regenerative capabilities without massive cellular damage. She would also like to kill Dr. Gist.”

                          I hadn’t found anything particular of note in her surface thoughts - she wasn’t thinking of ambushing Nikka at least. She was impatient for her to get there though. “Well that paints a hell of a picture.” I went looking for a memory of her dealings with Team Tomorrow anyway. It worked out about like I had figured - she and her boyfriend were both sick, Team Tomorrow convinced them to opt in to an experimental procedure in exchange for a discount. The procedure left them able to boost their physical capabilities - she could regenerate limbs and boost her reflexes, he got super strong and tough - but every time they did, their organs started falling apart. The boyfriend dropped dead from heart failure before they realized that particular drawback. She was looking for new kidneys and a new liver herself.

                          I also went looking for a memory of who gave her Nikka’s name, in case this was some kind of set up. Turns out it was Team Tomorrow themselves, the last time she complained to them. They suggested using her superpowers to rob a bank for the cost of the organs. This didn’t remove the danger, since as far as Portia was concerned, Nikka was Team Tomorrow and just as fucking bad. She didn’t have murder on the mind, but it wouldn’t take much to push her in that direction.

                          I scanned her with Aura Sight, just for the practice, really. I knew she was supernatural, and it wasn’t an unfamiliar type either. She wasn’t being controlled, which was good, and I got an even brighter flash of her vengeful nature from her aura than from her memories. Not focused on anyone in the room yet, but Nikka wasn’t here either.

                          I let the others know what I’d found right as Nikka was walking in. She stopped by our table first, and dropped off one of her two briefcases at the table. “Are all of you having a good evening?”

                          “So far.” Billy Mack nodded to her.

                          Liz smiled brightly. “I’m doing well. Sorry, Naomi can’t say anything. There’s something wrong with her throat.” Naomi gave her a dirty fucking look.

                          Nikka looked at Naomi with a goddamn puzzled expression. “Does she have panties in her mouth?”

                          “Don’t worry about it.” Liz waved her hands airily. “It would take too long to explain.”

                          “Your appointment seems to be here alone and has not acted in a suspicious manner,“ Billy Mack reassured Nikka.

                          “Alright.” She patted the briefcase she had set down. “You probably should not open this.” She nodded to us and went to go meet with Portia.

                          Billy Mack turned to Liz. “I had a request. I was wondering if your friend, the Tong woman, might help locate the whereabouts of Lu’s body.”

                          She frowned. “Have we not had enough fun?”

                          “At this point it is simply a matter of collecting his heart. It seems a shame to have gone through all that trouble and not get it.” He looked impassive.

                          “Fine,” Liz sighed. “I’ll have it at the office tomorrow.”

                          “Thank you.” Billy Mack smiled.

                          Trying to ignore that bit of fun, I was scanning the room, and caught sight of Ernesto up at the second floor bar, somehow having slipped in without us fucking noticing. He was watching Nikka intently, a drink in his hand. I was distracted by Naomi making noises and pointing off in a different direction, then more distracted by Liz slapping her.

                          Naomi gave Liz a dirty look, then handed Liz her phone. Liz read what was on the screen, one eyebrow raised, and turned to us. “That girl is the vampire that ran into Heather.” She indicated a young girl with fucking artfully disheveled hair and thick eyelashes. Naomi pointed at her and made a noise at me.

                          I leaned over to Billy Mack and gave him a significant look. “Keep an eye on Cornelius.” I glanced over at the vampire, peeking into her thoughts. Her surface thoughts were mostly concerned with finding dinner, as she’d been unaccountably peckish since the night before. I went looking more specifically into what she was doing in Angela’s room.

                          She had been sent there by the orders of her sire, Belladonna, the mind fucking vampire, looking for a particular amulet that Angela supposedly stole from the library. The amulet let you ‘see doorways that don’t look like doorways, and people that don’t look like people’. I made a face. “Angela apparently stole some fairy bullshit from the library.” Naomi made an indignant noise and pointed at her mouth. Liz slapped her again.

                          Naomi started typing on her phone again and when she was done, Liz took it and read it. “She doesn’t know when Angela would have done that, she didn’t tell her about it.” She slapped the pink haired girl again.

                          I shrugged. “We were going to talk to Angela about all that shit anyway. Maybe it’s the fugue state thing.”

                          “Possibly.” Liz looked unconvinced. “I wonder if that’s what Stein was looking for as well.”

                          “Probably.” I took a sip of my drink.

                          Billy Mack frowned and made a considering noise. I looked over at him and followed his eyes up to Ernesto, who had turned to look at him. “What?”

                          “Well...” he began, “Ernesto is surprisingly lacking in fears, and in addition to his obsession with hunting Nikka, he wants to kill the God Machine and thus become like unto a god himself. Also, we are now sympathetically linked, and he has access to my powers. At least, while I am in the same general vicinity of him, physically or psychically.”

                          I sighed. “Goddamn it.”

                          “Mrrower,” Naomi muttered.

                          “You can say that again.” Liz nodded.

                          Billy Mack sighed as well. “Unfortunately, it appears I will need to be not present for his death, in order that he not have multiple avenues of escape. Either that, or I’ll need to carry the soul bomb and deliver the killing blow.” He thought for a moment. “Or you could provoke him into making this sort of connection to you. He should only be able to have one such link.”

                          I shook my head. “Getting our fears is gonna be bad enough. I don’t want him reading our fucking thoughts or memories.”

                          “I agree.” Billy Mack nodded.

                          “We could just have you stick with the Rain City Mafia as our liaison or some shit. Be there for the aftermath, not for the fight,” I suggested.

                          “That should be sufficiently removed for him to not have access to my powers.” Billy Mack looked thoughtful. “This was unfortunate, but we do now have a greater understanding of what we are up against.”

                          Naomi leaned over towards Liz. “Mmbubowah?”

                          Liz shook her head. “You’re not at your most convincing right now, you probably shouldn’t talk to the vampire.” Naomi made another noise. “I know they’re hunting in your territory. Get over it. I know what it’s like.” Naomi made a disgusted sound and flipped her off. Liz slapped her.

                          “And Jack’s not here for any of this...” Billy Mack looked regretful.

                          Liz shrugged. “I thought it would be good for us to be seen in public together.” Naomi said something that sounded like a protest.

                          “It is important.” Billy Mack smiled. “You have to maintain your Clark Kent after all.”

                          I decided to go back to ignoring them and pay more attention to Nikka and Ernesto. Ernesto himself left after not too long, saluting us with his cocktail just before he did, a fucking smarmy smirk on his goddamn face. Nikka and Portia were arguing and had been for most of the discussion, but nothing past some tense words exchanged.

                          My attention was drawn back to the vampire girl when Naomi started tugging at Liz’s shoulder and pointing discreetly up at her. Apparently she’d noticed and recognized Naomi at some point. Liz looked at her disappointedly. “What? You’re not at your social best right now, I can’t send you out there. Besides, you have something wrong with your throat.” Naomi started sulking. “You can talk to her later. Jesus, keep it in your pants girl.”

                          The argument between Nikka and Portia had settled down somewhat, though they weren’t precisely having a friendly conversation. They did eventually reach some kind of deal, and Nikka came back over to the table to swap briefcases. “Really do not open this one.” She went back over to Portia’s table and handed it off before returning. “I did not know if it was going to get done, but it did, eventually.”

                          Naomi made a muffled noise. Liz said, “I think she wants to know what was in this case?” She indicated the one beneath the table.

                          “That one has a small explosive in it, in case she tried to run off with it.” Naomi’s eyes went fucking wide. “Just big enough to hurt whoever who opened it,” Nikka reassured her.

                          “A wise precaution.” Billy Mack smiled at her.

                          I shrugged. “Our friend stopped by. And left.”

                          She frowned. “I didn’t see him.”

                          “He was up there,” Billy Mack made a vague gesture towards the second floor bar. “We didn’t see him enter either, so we are supposing he came in as someone else. ”

                          “Probably. I suppose that means he wanted you to see him,” Nikka muttered.

                          “We do know that for him this is much about the chase as it is about taking you down, so he is behaving in an inefficient manner.” Billy Mack nodded in what was supposed to be a reassuring manner at her. “It is advantageous in a way.”

                          “Whypipo,” Naomi muttered through the goddamn panties.

                          Nikka frowned at her, then at Liz. She turned to me. “Will you be escorting me back, or do you think it will be safe?”

                          “We’ll escort you back part of the way, make sure he doesn’t follow you from here.” She offered me a hand to help me stand.

                          Naomi pointed at the vampire again. Liz shook her head. “You can talk to her later. I don’t think she’ll understand you right now.” She looked at me. “Want me coming with?”

                          I shrugged. “If you wanna follow along for the tailing, until we know he’s properly fucked off.” Naomi pointed at the dance floor with a pitiful look on her face. “Or you can stay here.

                          “I think she deserves to get to dance some, don’t you?” Liz smiled.

                          I grimaced, not really caring to be a part of... whatever the fuck that was. “Sure.”

                          Billy Mack and Nikka followed me outside. “It is not a bad place to do business. Very loud, but it’s hard to eavesdrop. And lots of tight clothes.”

                          “The loudness makes it difficult to eavesdrop and the tight clothes make it difficult to conceal weapons. I can see how it would be a good place for business.” Billy Mack smiled. “Not quite as dimly lit as Kiki’s.”

                          “No...” She looked thoughtful. “It is more obvious who is around.”

                          I nodded to Nikka, after watching her get on her bike, and hopped in my car with Billy Mack to follow.

                          He didn’t feel any twinges in the sympathetic link, so I dropped him off at his car and made my way to Miranda’s. On the way, I left a message for Mack, warning him that I’d run afoul of some bad fuckers who might be looking into me with an eye for leverage. I was pretty certain he and Miranda would show up on Billy Mack’s Sum of all Fears, and there’s no way in hell Mr. Not-a-Fucking-Farmer wouldn’t have used at least that. I figured I’d tell Miranda in the morning.

                          Billy Mack went straight to Shelley’s place, camping out in the parking lot to keep an eye out for Ernesto’s presence. He had been there a few hours when he got a text from Naomi asking him to stop by her apartment briefly. He headed over there right off after making sure she didn’t need Vivian.

                          Naomi answered the door looking a hell of a lot paler than usual. “Can you use your healing ability on me?”

                          “I can...” he answered slowly. “Are you alright?”

                          “Yeah!” She smiled. “I was just, uh, trying to get more information from the vampire. She has very fast hands.”

                          “An admirable trait if one is a guitar player.”

                          Naomi smirked. “Well, she really rocked my strings if you know what I‘m saying.”

                          Billy Mack nodded. “I do in fact know exactly what you’re saying.” He spent a moment tweaking reality. “There we go. You should be fine with a full night’s worth of sleep.”

                          “Thanks!” Naomi grinned at him. “I didn’t get much extra. The vampire, Carrie Black, didn’t seem to know anything about the books. She is a Carthian, just didn’t show up at the meeting.”

                          “So, purely to do with this other business with the necklace.” Billy Mack looked thoughtful. “Though a necklace that lets one see ‘doorways that don’t look like doorways’ might have allowed her to be aware of the secret room itself.”

                          Naomi made a face. “That’s true. I’m not sure where in the library she got it though.”

                          He nodded. “We will be looking into that, if I understand properly. You should get some rest, for now.”

                          “Thanks for dropping by. See you at the office.”

                          Onyx Path Moderator
                          Forum Rules
                          This is my mod voice. This is my goth voice.
                          [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]


                          • Over breakfast, I warned Miranda about Ernesto and what he might have gotten. She frowned. “He seems rather aggravating.”

                            I snorted as I set her tea down beside her. “He is. And powerful. So keep an eye out?”

                            “I will.” She gave me a slight smile. She took a sip of her tea, seeming to weigh something in her mind. After a moment, she began hesitantly, “How would you feel about you or someone from your agency performing a bit of selective robbery?”

                            “If you’re asking, I imagine there’s a good reason, so sure. What’s on your mind?” I swung my chair around before I sat back down in it backwards and folded my arms over the back of it.

                            She nodded. “Dr. Stein is going to be getting a box of materials from Team Tomorrow. Dr. Carpenter thinks this could have some bearing on the book situation. Stein has been very guarded about it - at the very least, it might give us more insight into his part of it. Or leverage. It would involve infiltrating the mail room at the university.”

                            I tapped my fingers along the back of the chair, thinking. “What time frame are we looking at?”

                            “It’s supposed to arrive sometime this afternoon. There should be a few hours between when it arrives and when he is notified, time for it to be sorted and such. It’ll be a box with some books and papers, at least from what Dr. Carpenter heard when he was spying.” She raised an eyebrow at me. “It’s a stab in the dark, but...”

                            “My favorite kinds of stabs. Do we need to steal it, or is getting pictures of the contents good enough?” I tilted my head over at her, managing to keep my fucking jaw from clenching every time Dr. Carpenter came up.

                            She looked thoughtful. “That will make it so he doesn’t know it went missing... however you want to do it. It’s just something Dr. Carpenter got and he asked me about it. Do be careful - we don’t know what kind of powers he has, he might be able to see who had been handling the package.”

                            I nodded carefully. “So that’s all what the dinner meeting was about?” I asked, super casually. She nodded. “Good, good. We’ll be careful.” I smiled at her and hopped up. I gave her a kiss on my way out. “Remember to be careful yourself.”

                            “I’ll be even more alert than usual.” She smiled back.

                            As I was running down my list of potential bits of leverage Not-a-Goddamn-Farmer had on me, Esha came to mind, though I didn’t figure she’d be high on the list. Still, it reminded me I hadn’t heard from her since she’d given me the update about the people in her building being taken in by Blue Sun, and that had been a few days ago. So I sent her a text checking in on her, hitting send right as I walked past the Salvation Army bell ringer.

                            Liz was there, talking to Billy Mack who looked like he’d been sleeping on the cot again. “I have the address where Lu’s body is being held for the wake. He’s going to be cremated this evening for the funeral tomorrow. She wasn’t sure when he was to be sent up for the anti-zombie procedure. So you might want to do your heart carving in the afternoon, though that might be noticed.”

                            I smirked. “To make timing more goddamn exciting, apparently Stein will be receiving a package from Team Tomorrow this afternoon. Carpenter thought we might wanna take a peep at it.”

                            “That would be useful,” Billy Mack agreed. “And ideally, should we intercept Lu’s body after it left the wake and before its cremation, that would be perfect for hiding the evidence of the surgery. So moving more towards the evening should be safe. So, this package...” He looked at me expectantly. I gave him the details Miranda had given me. “It should be simple enough to possess someone who works in the mail room.”

                            “Huh.” I made an impressed face. “That’s true. That should give you time too - I suggest we give it a look over first, take pictures if needed, and not steal it unless fucking necessary for whatever reason. ”

                            Liz filled me in on what Naomi had told Billy Mack about the vampire. “Also, she keeps having odd problems catching Angela - just not being where she expects, something always coming up when she should be able to find her, that sort of thing. She’s been coincidentally missing Angela for over a week.”

                            Billy Mack frowned. “That is suspicious.”

                            “Sounds like we have a busy afternoon.” I stretched. “Angela free soon?”

                            “She has classes until about lunchtime. So, yeah. Do you want Naomi to go with you? Angela will do whatever Naomi tells her to.” She looked at me expectantly.

                            I shrugged. “That’d be handy.”

                            Liz smiled. “I’m pretty sure without my influence she won’t leave the panties in her mouth. So she might speak.”

                            I rolled my eyes. “That’s a risk I’ll have to take.”

                            “And in this situation, her speaking to Angela is fairly key, yes?” Billy Mack raised an eyebrow.

                            “It would probably undermine her influence, if she had panties in her mouth.” Liz smirked.

                            “Also, you are by far the best able to restrain Angela without harming her, should that be necessary,” Billy Mack pointed out.

                            Liz shrugged. “Either Naomi or I could do that.”

                            Billy Mack kept on. “I just mean, we should be prepared for strangeness. Angela might persist vehemently, even with your social influence, and you would be able to physically restrain her without harming her.”

                            “Naomi will be able to do that too.”

                            Billy Mack opened his mouth as if to argue a point. “Well...” He stopped and sighed. “Yes, right. Well, it sounds as if we have this afternoon’s business sorted out.”

                            I flipped my keys around my finger. “Let’s get moving.”

                            Billy Mack and I made for an odd entourage following Naomi into Angela’s dorm room. The dark haired girl was sitting cross-legged on her bed, Amsterdam on the chair on the other side of the room. Am got up and fucking kneeled on the floor when Naomi walked in.

                            “So. I heard you got a necklace.” Naomi crossed her arms and looked at Angela.

                            “Oh I’ve got lots of necklaces, Master!” Angela offered cheerily. “Was there one you were particularly interested in?”

                            Naomi raised an eyebrow. “The one you stole from the library.”

                            Angela stared at her, mouth open, for a moment. Am looked at Angela and said, matter of factly, “You can’t pull one over on the Master. She’s a god, you know.”

                            “Oh, um, you mean, the Eye of Humatuwati? Hold on, let me grab it.” She went rummaging around in a jewelry box, and pulled out a silver chain with a red jeweled pendant. The gem had a crack in it that did manage to look at least something like a fucking eye.

                            “Do you normally leave it there?” Naomi indicated the jewelry box. Angela nodded. “Was it there two nights ago?”

                            She nodded again. “I can’t wear it around the school. People might recognize it.”

                            Naomi frowned. “Where in the library was it?”

                            “A woman in a painting was wearing it.”

                            “You took it out of a painting?” Angela shrugged and nodded at Naomi’s fucking exasperated sounding question.

                            I thought back to my visits to the library. “Yeah, I’ve seen that. One of the fancy fuckers.” I made a considering noise. “I'm gonna leave. Hide it there again, and take back my permission to know about it.”

                            She looked at Naomi. Naomi nodded. “Yes, do that.”

                            I left, and when I came back, I went straight to the jewelry box and looked around. I couldn’t find it. I was able to tweak reality and have it let me know something was hiding there, but it took powers.

                            Naomi was still fucking flabbergasted at Angela. “Why did you take a necklace from a painting?”

                            “It was pretty.” Angela shrugged.

                            “You just... you can’t usually undress people in paintings. If they’d figured out how to do that, they’d have to keep men out of museums.” Naomi put her hands on her hips.

                            I smirked. “I’d like art class a hell of a lot more too.” Am hid a giggle.

                            Angela shrunk a little. “I dunno, it just looked like one I could take.”

                            “Did you tell anyone you took this?” Naomi asked.

                            “No.” Angela frowned. “I’m kinda peeved you know about it. I mean, it wasn’t going against you or your spideryness or anything. I just... a girl’s gotta have her own life, you know?”

                            I tapped my fingers on my bicep. “Did it help you find the room where the books were missing?”

                            She thought for a moment. “Probably? I’d never really poked around there until I took it. And then some of it looked not right.”

                            “Stumbled on... by randomly pulling out books until you got the right one?” I shared a glance with the others.

                            “No, I figured out which one did it first. I knew the way to go. And how to get to the thing in the ceiling.” She shrugged.

                            Naomi started speaking in Hindi. “The thing in the ceiling was hidden by Gears.”

                            I answered back in the same. “It’s not hidden from my powers, so it doesn’t trump God-Machine things.”

                            She went back to English. “So, just to make sure I’ve got this right, one day while you were working in the library, you looked at the oil painting, noticed a necklace that was pretty, removed it from the oil painting, and I cannot stress that enough, put it on and started finding secret doors and magically hidden stuff.”

                            “Yeah, that’s just my life sometimes.” Angela smiled at her.

                            “Has the necklace told you anything about people?” I asked.

                            “Should it?” She sounded fucking excited.

                            Billy Mack nodded. “It is reputedly able to allow you to ‘see doorways that don’t look like doorways, and people that don’t look like people'.”

                            She frowned in thought. “What are ‘people that don’t look like people’?”

                            I shrugged and Billy Mack elaborated. “We don’t know for certain. That is why we are asking.”

                            “Do you see anything of the avatar I keep hidden?” Naomi raised an eyebrow.

                            “No. You just look hot.” Angela shrugged. “Heather’s scarier than usual, I guess. She has a tail.”

                            “That makes sense.” Billy Mack looked thoughtful. “Anyone else?” Angela shook her head.

                            Am smiled brightly. “Oh, did you know Heather got laid? I was so happy for her. Except I avoid her, cause of the way she looks at me.”

                            Angela glanced over at Am. “Do I have to kick her ass for looking at you funny?”

                            “Don’t go try and kick her ass...” Naomi gave her a dirty look. “I mean, it would be hilarious, but don’t.”

                            “She is a dragon, after all,” Billy Mack pointed out. “It would probably end badly.”

                            Naomi nodded, and returned to the subject of the necklace. “Maybe it’s because Angela is a psychic-sensitive and a witch, and that’s how she noticed it? Her psychic powers are fairly strong.”

                            Angela frowned. “Yeah, I like when you talk about me like I’m not here. It’s a real turn on. I’m soaked.”

                            “Alright. Angela - here - you are a psychic - and a bitch - and a reasonably talented witch as well, so that might be part of why you picked up something wrong with the painting that I didn’t, because this shell can’t see everything.” Naomi had her hands on her hips.

                            “It would be interesting to see if the necklace was actually missing from the painting,” Billy Mack mused.

                            “It is.” Angela and I answered at the same time.

                            Billy Mack nodded. “It is an interesting place to hide a necklace.”

                            “Inside a painting? I guess. If you can.” Naomi shrugged.

                            “The fact it’s protecting you from the vampire and itself from being found is the interesting bit to me.” I fiddled with a pen.

                            Angela’s eyes widened. “Now, what’s ‘the vampire’?”

                            “Oh yeah.” Naomi gave a little half shrug. “There’s a vampire looking to steal the necklace.”

                            “The one who seduced Heather,” I pointed out.

                            Billy Mack nodded. “She has tried you for about a week now but due to a mysterious set of coincidences, never seems to be able to catch up with you. And when she went through your room the other night, she did not find it, despite it being in your jewelry box, the obvious first place to look.”

                            “Cool. I’m, like, an international lady of mystery.” Angela looked smug. “And that’s why Heather got some trim? She owes me. I basically set her up with that girl.”

                            Billy Mack looked sternly at her. “She was seduced by a vampire because it was convenient...”

                            Angela scoffed. “Cute ass is cute ass. Was college that long ago?” She turned back to Naomi. “May I keep the Eye of Humatuwati, Master?”

                            “Sure. Just don’t lose it.”

                            “It might be for the best,” I put out there. “It keeps the vampire away from her. She might not accept ‘I gave it away’. Which reminds me - has Stein been able to find you to harass you about the books and or the necklace?”

                            Angela frowned. “No. I do keep forgetting he’s looking for me, I need to go to his office.”

                            I shook my head. “You probably keep forgetting because of the necklace’s protection. I wouldn’t worry about going to see him, not til this shit is cleared up.”

                            “He has been through your room as well,” Billy Mack offered.

                            “I knew it!” Angela pointed at Amsterdam. “You said I was paranoid.”

                            She shrugged. “I also said someone had been in your room, but you’re also paranoid.”

                            Angela shuddered. “I didn’t think it was Dr. Frankenstein. I think he’s made of dead people.”

                            Billy Mack shook his head. “No, that’s an entirely different sort of uncomfortable creepiness. Dr. Stein is merely an augmented human.”

                            “Oh, by Team Tomorrow? They’re good people.” Am smiled. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”

                            “They are very helpful in that regard.” Billy Mack verbally patted her on the fucking head.

                            Naomi stood up and stretched. “This gives us a new direction to think in, and now I know how you stumbled into that room. I wonder if the timing is coincidental - you found the necklace, then the room got broken into, or vice versa, they were close enough together, and then you found the room almost immediately.” Angela nodded. Naomi turned to us, and in Hindi, said, “This place is fucked up.”

                            “Out of curiosity,” Billy Mack began, “had the painting looked interesting to you before that?”

                            “I hadn’t really paid attention to it. The place is full of dead people. I was bored that day.” She shrugged. “You know how it is. I was supposed to be doing work, but it was dull, so I started thinking about how, as dead chicks go, that one had a nice rack, and a nice necklace... She wasn’t using it. She’s probably dead. She was dressed like someone who’s dead, or really old. And she wasn’t old.”

                            Billy Mack raised an eyebrow. “I believe the paintings were of the university’s founders, so she is likely dead.”

                            Angela nodded brightly. “Hopefully. Or else she’s some weird undead monstrosity feeding on the youth of the university. Probably living in some kind of elaborate crypt. And I just stole her bling.”

                            “If one is going to live in a crypt, it should be an elaborate one.” Billy Mack agreed solemnly.

                            “It’s one of my life goals, to build a big elaborate tomb so I can feed on the vital life essence of the cute girls that go to class above me. Some kind of lich, but not really.” She tapped on her chin thoughtfully. “Maybe since I’m a bitch, I can be a l’bich. Too French?”

                            Naomi rolled her eyes. “I think we’re done talking to you.” She gave me a look. “Do you need me for the other business we’ve got going on immediately?”

                            Billy Mack shook his head. “Probably not.”

                            “I’m going to stay and have a snack.” She shot Am a look. “Catch up with you in half an hour.”

                            Billy Mack stepped off to stake out the mail room, and I wandered by The Roost, hoping to get a chance to talk to Dr. Carpenter. He was there, as was Heather, though not together. I stopped by his table. “Do you mind if I...?” He waved me to a seat. “I don’t wanna take up your lunch, just had a quick question.”

                            “Go right ahead.” He smiled at me.

                            “Well, I have a couple. Firstly, do you speak any other languages?” I slid into the booth across from him.

                            He looked mildly confused. “French and Spanish.”

                            I nodded. “French then, if that’s OK. We’ve had some eavesdropping problems lately.”

                            “Not too fast now.”

                            I chuckled and kept my pace down. “The Eye of Humatuwati - is that connected in anyway to the books?”

                            He frowned. “That is supposedly on campus. Not connected to the books as far as I know of. It was owned by one of the founder’s wives. There’s rumors it was hidden on campus somewhere.” He raised an eyebrow at me. “Why?”

                            “It was found just after, or right about the same time, the books were stolen.”

                            He looked thoughtful. “It is supposed to be connected to the college. It seems likely that the person who found it also broke into the book room.”

                            I shook my head. “That is unlikely. We are pursuing that, but very unlikely.”

                            “Hrm.” He made a considering noise. “Well, not knowing who found it... it wasn’t Dr. Hazard. Miranda?”

                            “No.” I tapped my fingers on the table. “That’s really the only question I had. We’re getting eyes on that package this afternoon.”

                            “Good.” Carpenter looked around fucking furtively. “I don’t know what’s in it, but he’s anxious about it. What he said was ‘I need it for what I’m trying to do’. He was in his office, and I was eavesdropping.” He smiled. “There’s an upside to the hair in my ears and it’s not me being old. I’m not sure if finding the books is what he’s ‘trying to do’ but it’s probably related. Worth a look anyway.”

                            I nodded. “Our current plan is to get pictures and not interfere with its arrival, though the gee in charge of it is gonna use his discretion, of course.” I got up to go, then thought of something. “He might know, by the way, that the necklace was found.”

                            He sighed. “Magical. Well, I don’t have the necklace, it’s not my problem. Unless it’s really bad for him to have it.”

                            “It apparently allows the wearer to ‘see doorways that don’t look like doorways, and people that don’t look like people’. It allowed the person who found it to see one of the Begotten as ... more of themselves.”

                            He frowned at that last bit. “Oh god, are there Begotten here?” I nodded and didn’t look at Heather at her table across the room. “They’re aggravating. Friendly enough, but they tend to cause trouble.”

                            “No other supernaturals they came across at least stuck out in their mind, so, we don’t know the extent of its powers.” I tapped on the table. “Anyway, just wanted to let you know. Have a good lunch.”

                            I picked up a table at the coffee shop near the mail room and to wait for word from Billy Mack. He had an easy enough time staking the place out. The place was fairly laissez faire. Just from his glances from the outside, he figured he could likely pick a good moment to grab the box and take it into the single occupancy bathroom for as much time as he’d need.

                            He picked a random gee working in the place and hopped into the poor fuck’s head. He picked out the package and waited for his moment, when the other employees were in the front room, and got away clean.

                            He had also grabbed some of the packing materials and a box cutter, so he was able to carefully get into the damn thing. Inside were, like Miranda had mentioned, a bunch of papers and a couple of books. There was also a smaller locked black metal box. The books were on local history. The papers were in code, and Billy Mack could tell that the watermark-looking symbol was some kind of mystical bullshit - anyone with a key or a counterspell could read it, but a picture would be useless.

                            So he decided to steal that box. That made things a little more complicated, as the poor fuck he was driving around didn’t precisely have those kinds of privileges. In his Demon form, he could store the whole kit and fucking caboodle in his chest compartment, then use Dataform to get the fuck out, but that meant letting go of the mail room kid.

                            So the motherfucker gags himself, ignoring his the mail room kids singing dirty Christmas carols, and ties himself up, before dropping his possession of the gee’s body. Before the human had a chance to react to the goddamn robot standing in front of him, Kilroy had mind spiked him, and spent the next ten minutes editing his memories so that he thought he had been getting a blowjob from a hot chick who looked remarkably like Carrie Black, just for funsies. Then, of course, the poor gee remembers her making off with a package while leaving him tied up. She was kinky, see. To be fair, it worked out rather nicely, all told.

                            Meanwhile, Naomi had plopped down at the table next to me. “You seriously have to drink some of that girl’s blood sometime. I know it sounds weird, but as soon as you drink, like, a little bit of it... it is the best tasting stuff I ever drank.”

                            “I’ll stick with whiskey,” I said, taking a sip from my flask. “Apparently there’s a school legend about that necklace.” I filled her in about what Carpenter had told me.

                            “Makes sense that no one had found it. Most people don’t look in a painting,” Naomi pointed out. “See, the thing with Angela is that her psychic powers allow her to home in on supernatural stuff. Not like us, but stuff that isn’t as well hidden as we are. As for this, maybe there was something magical that was making things harder to find in that area that was taken down when the books got stolen.” She sighed. “Eventually, something’s going to kill her and that sucks. But given the way she wanders headlong into anything that catches her interest, even if it’s clearly supernaturally evil, it’s inevitable.” I nodded. “She’s OK now, except for being a couple pints short. I mean, I couldn’t have my pudding until I ate my meat.”

                            I leaned back in my seat. “It does sorta clear her of taking the books. Or at least, explains all the fucking attention she’s gotten without involving the books.”

                            Naomi nodded, frowning. “I’m surprised she didn’t tell me about the necklace. I’m actually a little annoyed by that as I like my cult more... loyal. Not that she thought of it as a betrayal of me. I don't think she’s capable of betraying me. But it preys at me a little bit that she just didn’t tell me, even though all this other shit came up. She clearly didn't think it was relevant.”

                            “Or the necklace was hiding itself,” I threw out there.

                            “I guess. I wonder how Belladonna knew it was missing.”

                            I raised an eyebrow. “That is a good goddamn question.”

                            About then I got the call from Kilroy. “I appear to have interrupted Cecilia and Carlos making out.”

                            “Back at the office then?” I chuckled. “Any flying guillotine women?”

                            “Yes, then no. Some of the documents were magically bound and unreadable and thus unphotographable,” he said by way of explanation. “My host remembers a most pleasurable encounter with the same young lady that was searching Angela’s room. She apparently has a thing for tying him up with his shoelaces.”

                            I put my head in my hands. “Great.”

                            Naomi looked at me, amused. “It’s creepy, what he’s saying, right? Whatever it is, it’s creepy? Oh god, it’s always creepy.”

                            “He had to remember something. And now if anyone does get a description out of him, it will be the young vampiress and the only problem with setting her and Stein on each other is that I won’t be there to watch the fireworks.” He sounded entirely too goddamn pleased with himself.

                            “Sure thing, pal.”

                            We headed on back to the office, since there was still time to look over the goods before we had to make whatever move we were going to on Lu’s heart. Maybe even time to bring them to Miranda. When I got eyes on them, I was glad he had stolen the shit - the watermark symbol was the one Miranda had shown me, to ask if Hazard had any signs of being part of the Seers of the Throne. “So... Team Tomorrow is Seers of the Throne.”

                            Billy Mack raised an eyebrow. “Oh. Well, it could be worse.”

                            “It could be raining?” I raised an eyebrow back.

                            “It’s not?” Billy Mack looked perturbed.

                            Naomi frowned at me. “It’s Seattle. There’s a man, with a bell, outside our office. Who - I’m gonna psychically predict here - will hang himself with the bell in his mouth.”

                            I stared at her. “What?” She shrugged.

                            “It is Christmas,” Billy Mack pointed out, “which is one of the peak seasons for suicide, and Seattle does have one of the highest suicide rates in the nation. So if someone is going to commit suicide, it will most likely be in Seattle around Christmas.”

                            I started ignoring him as soon as he opened his mouth and started fiddling with the black metal box. I tugged it in just the right way to open it - someone had left the catch just a smidge off - and looked inside. The box was lined as if it were radioactive, and nothing was inside but a syringe. I shut it quickly.

                            Billy Mack glanced at it as I was opening it, and continued, “As I was saying, it could be worse - Team Tomorrow could be associated with a group we don’t already dislike, thus creating some sort of ethical and moral quandary about foiling them.”

                            “You have those?” I frowned at the box. “We probably don’t want you touching that shit. Though it would be nice to know what it is.”

                            “Perhaps Miranda might be able to help,” Billy Mack suggested.

                            “Why not?” Naomi asked me at the same time.

                            Billy Mack put on a ponderous expression. “The protective layers seem to indicate it might be radioactive.”

                            I gave both of them a look. “Alright, you two, a word of wisdom - if you come across a random syringe of an unknown liquid, regardless of the packaging of the syringe, don’t put it on your skin. Got me?”

                            “That is sound advice.”

                            “Eat me.” Naomi flipped me off.

                            I called Miranda instead. “Hey sweetheart.”

                            “Hey.” She smiled.

                            “We wound up taking the package, cause it’s all coded. With a magical Seers of the Throne watermark, no less. There’s also a syringe full of something in a lead-lined box.”

                            She made an unhappy noise. “So that’s their big project.”

                            I shrugged. “Sounds like it. Have a moment for us to bring the magically encoded documents by?”

                            “Yes, I might be able to dispel the encoding.”

                            I smiled. “Good deal. See you shortly beautiful.”

                            End Session LXII

                            Seers of the Throne are a thing from Mage: The Awakening.

                            As usual Speed Demon was pretty thorough. Not much to add. Comments and Questions welcome

                            Onyx Path Moderator
                            Forum Rules
                            This is my mod voice. This is my goth voice.
                            [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]


                            • I didn't realize that Alibi could grant such hilarity between a Demon and her other covers; suddenly I'm far more predisposed towards it. Never figured Clytemnestra would do such to herself, from one self to the other, from as noted, it is quite hilarious.

                              I take it the link between Kilroy and Cornelius Not-A-Farmer was the aforementioned bargain for not having Hunter Angels set upon him?


                              • Well Clytemnestra as noted sometimes gets irritated with Naomi's attitude. She designed her personality, and loves her, but even so it grates on her how she treats humans sometimes. It's minor, but it meant after awhile of mistreating people like Deanna a little revenge was fun. additionally, being seen at the same time could throw people off, and it reiterates to any of Naomi's friends that she is just the vessel, not the God. Finally, even strong people occasionally enjoy humiliation now and again....

                                No; Cornelius has a power called Conduit which he can use on people who use a power on him he detects. It can duplicate powers with conduit nearby, but he does not automatically know all powers. He can generally try to do something and see what his options are. One conduit at a time. The conduit also knows this when it is used. He did not with Gabe as it was essentially a warning he gave her. When they continued, he used it. It's powerful, but as I noted Cornelius is EXTREMELY dangerous; he hunts powerful supernatural creatures. That clear? I can explain more if not.

                                Onyx Path Moderator
                                Forum Rules
                                This is my mod voice. This is my goth voice.
                                [Geist: Balance of Shadows ][ Vampire: The Conspiracy of Hrad Černá Hora ][ Scion: Bohemian Front][Changeling: Malibu Dream House] [Demon: Night Train Detective Agency] [WoD: The Golden Eagle]