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Demon: Night Train Detective Agency (Actual Play)

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  • So there is something going on at the University. Forces become active, and the PCs decide to side with the sinister female mastermind with a shady past, again, because why not? She seems nice. Kilroy’s player had to miss, but Markizel’s was there.

    Session LXVII

    Speed Demon’s Monologues

    “Shit. Are you telling me the necklace is a fucking phylactery?” I groaned.

    “Possibly...” She hesitated, weighing her words. “A lich, strictly speaking, is just a mage that has transcended being human, but kept their magic.” That was a way more, and yet some-fucking-how less, specific definition than the one I knew. “It is possibly, and seems likely, that her essence has possessed the campus, so that she can cast spells wherever her awareness is at the moment.”

    I looked around nervously, and moved away from the building. “Alright...”

    She kept going. “It is likely it is Angelica, considering the missing picture and that I know that Angelica was a mage, from my father’s notes. If it is her... being a lich doesn’t make her immune to Paradox. It just means it affects the campus. And if she’s woken up - they do tend to sleep for long periods of time - her awareness could be anywhere. I think that’s what you’re dealing with.”

    “Right.” I let out a deep breath. “Peachy. So, options...”

    “It might be possibly to drive her out of the campus,” Miranda offered.

    I shook my head. “She hasn’t done anything wrong - it’s possible she’s been protecting the place. I’d rather come up with options to figure out why the hell she’s awake and what she’s doing first. If it’s because something is threatening the campus...” I shrugged. “Is this feeling of a storm about to break her, do you think?”

    “It’s hard to say. Liches possessing buildings and such are rare. The few accounts that I’ve seen talk about a feeling of being watched, a presence. In the past the liches have manifested in pictures, or mirrors. If she wanted to communicate with you that would likely be how she did it.” Miranda was thinking hard.

    I chuckled. “Right. So I need to go to a bathroom, turn out the lights and say ‘Angelica Walthstone’ three times?”

    Miranda nodded seriously. “If she’s paying attention to that part of campus at the time, that should work.”

    “What if I make her a tomato based cocktail first?” I grinned.

    “I might get jealous.” There was a smile in her voice. She continued, more seriously. “Be careful. She has transcended humanity, which means she doesn’t have feelings as we understand it. More like dealing with your... like when you’re more cut off from your human emotions.”

    I nodded, continuing my wandering through the campus, avoiding the fucking buildings as best I could. “Got it. A magely Billy Mack. Can handle.”

    That got a dry chuckle. “Like that, yes. I’m going to try and find my father’s notes on her. I’ll let you know if I find anything.” I could hear her going through books. “I know she was power hungry, and that campus was her territory. I don’t know if my father knew where her sanctum sanctorum was though.”

    I nodded, following a path of my own. “The only real conflict potential I see, given that she seems to be protective of campus overall, is if she wanted Angela. And I can’t imagine why she wouldn’t. Even not knowing much about liches, it seems like one of them handing over their necklace to one of the most psychically open people I know of is not a fucking altruistic act.”

    “True. She may very well want an easy way to possess Angela. Has she acted strange, since she got the necklace?” Miranda asked.

    I thought for a moment. “She hid the necklace from her Master, which is, I guess, a big deal.”

    “That might have been Angelica.” She made a considering noise at that. “Their names are quite similar. Effectively the same, conceptually. That would provide a sympathetic link, and there is also the fact that Angela is a medium with the doors and windows wide open. That might even be a good way to get in contact with her. Keep in mind that even in Angela, she is very tied to campus - incredibly powerful there and largely non-existent elsewhere.”

    “I will keep that in mind.” I smiled. It was always nice, knowing where the leash snapped back.

    She sighed, sounding worried. “Keep in mind too that being a building isn’t like being a person. About the only major thing liches all have in common, other than being a mage who tried to find immortality, is that they all have problems. And this is me saying that.”

    I nodded, trying to sound reassuring. “I’ll keep it in mind. Lemme know if you find anything exciting - I’ll check in on the regular.”

    “Alright Gabe. Take care.” She still sounded worried.

    “Always.” I hung up and texted Naomi, asking her to let me know as soon as Angela got back to the Pagan House. I’d gotten a text message myself in the middle of that conversation, we all had, one from Billy Mack. Apparently an emergency had come up at the dam, so he fucked off that direction. I was about to head over towards the Nursing building when my phone started ringing. I scowled at it, but eventually answered it. “What?”

    Terry’s voice, at least, was on the other end. “Hey. I was told, when I got here, that something awfully important was going on.”

    I raised an eyebrow. “Where the hell is ‘here’?”

    “The office.”

    I nodded. “Alright. Yeah, sure.” I gave him the rundown. “Billy Mack’s off to the dam, so we could use someone to talk to Stein.”

    “Not the vampire?” he asked leadingly.

    “It’s daytime. If you wanna go wake him up, that’s on you, but Clytemnestra will be very upset if you let someone eat you who’s not her.” I shrugged. “I’d go with Stein. Less bitey.”

    He nodded. “Alright. Does he know what we are?”

    I chuckled. “Well, Jack transformed in front of him, and shot him in the goddamn face once.” Terry made an understanding noise. “Have fun. Let us know what you find - come to the Pagan House after.”

    “Sure thing!”

    Jack managed to make it to Carpenter’s without white knighting a high-off-her-ass college student or shooting a professor in the face, so things were looking good, despite him having to flash his license every new corner he rounded. When he walked into his office, Carpenter looked up from his desk and nodded. “Ah, hello.” He got up and closed the door behind Jack. “How are you?”

    “Better than some.” Jack took the seat across from the desk.

    “Have you folks figured out anything?” Carpenter asked as he sat down again.

    Jack let out a deep breath. “At this point, we know Angelica is ‘loose’ somewhere on campus.”

    Carpenter raised an eyebrow. “I know that’s alarming, but I don’t know anything about her personally, except she was a sorceress or a witch, or something.”

    “You’re one up on me then. I know she stepped out of the painting and walked away.” He rolled his shoulders back. “I know someone, probably Stein, ordered all the security to the library and now the think the painting was stolen. I kinda wish I hadn't pointed it out.”

    “Humans will come to strange conclusions with these things sometimes.” Carpenter shrugged.

    “The running theory we have on the hoodie kid is that he’s a spirit, but that’s more you than me...” Jack trailed off questioningly.

    Carpenter frowned. “It’s possible. He may be trying to draw attention away from certain parts of campus. The problem with that theory is that he has drawn much attention to the campus.” He sighed. “Certain sensitives do seem to be getting... twitchy. But nothing bad has actually occurred, and this painting thing is that first thing to have happened that’s not just a domino effect of nerves. Psychics who are agitated tend to agitate those around them.” He pinched his nose. “The fact this is happening on exam day makes things more difficult. Hazard’s in exams but I am free for now. I mean, I should be in here in case students have questions, but this seems like it ought to take priority. I have taken a look around the Shadow, and what’s going on here doesn’t seem to be a reflection of anything there.”

    “We can talk to Hazard later - I’m certain he’ll be in a good mood about this. Maybe some walking about?” Jack suggested.

    “He’s been dealing with shit from Stein recently, so yeah, a great mood.” Carpenter grinned fucking wryly. “He’s been in a bad enough mood that I haven’t been actively antagonizing him today, so...” Jack grinned back. “It is so much fun to piss him off too.”

    Jack nodded. “I’m usually the one with that job, myself.”

    “Pissing off Hazard?”

    Jack shook his head. “Just pissing people off in general.”

    Carpenter rolled his shoulders. “It helps that I regenerate.”

    Jack chuckled. “I imagine.”

    “Anyway, yeah, I was thinking about doing a walk through of campus, to see if I could sense anything.” Carpenter steered things back to the situation at hand.

    “Sounds good to me. The library seems pretty clear, just full of security. The campus is littered with cops - we know folks, and it makes it easier, but I did get stopped about ten times.” Jack rolled his eyes.

    Carpenter looked goddamn sympathetic. “Maybe we’ll get stopped less.” Jack nodded and they stood up. As they got to the door, Carpenter stopped. “Before we leave... what can you see that a, say, completely normal human couldn’t? I dunno what your deal is, giant shape shifting frog, or...” He paused at Jack’s look. “I’ve seen some weird shit.”

    Jack chuckled. “I’m not gonna start singing ‘Hello my baby...’ if that’s what you’re asking.”

    “But I’m such a fan of the Michigan Rag.” Carpenter looked faux disappointed.

    “Who isn’t?”

    Carpenter had a quick answer. “Anyone who’s heard me singing the Michigan Rag for more than ten minutes. Which, I believe, is a list that consists of Dr. Hazard.”

    Jack looked taken aback. “More than ten minutes you say?”

    “Bluetooth is a beautiful thing.” Carpenter looked from side to side. “I’ll tell you a secret. Really, I just recorded myself singing it, and replayed it over and over again through the Bluetooth.”

    Jack shook his head, still grinning. “Anyway, I am fairly decent at some mild psychic reading. Other stuff is not really applicable.”

    “Great. Let’s go!”

    Terry had less trouble than Jack wandering through campus, and somehow managed to stumble into the Nursing building fairly fucking quick-like

    Stein looked up as Terry wandered over to his door. “I don’t believe you are one of my students.”

    “No, but I was thinking someday I might wanna, you know, expand my knowledge.,” Terry began rambling, “but no, I’m actually an associate of, uh, one Billy Mack.”

    Stein raised an eyebrow. “Are you now? That explains a few things. Have a seat.” He minimized whatever he was typing when Terry came in and gestured at the seat.

    Terry sat in the offered chair. “So, I am sorry to break you from your busy day of school and stuff, but I was really trying to find out about what you might know about a) the heightened security around campus.”

    “Ah yes. There is an individual in a grey hoodie who seems to have gotten everyone all in a tizzy.” Stein steepled his fingers.

    “Is that the problem? We don’t like hoodies here?” Terry looked confused.

    Stein gave him a goddamn tight smile. “I am given to understand he was antagonizing security, which I did not know was that unusual a thing to be doing here.”

    Terry nodded. “How suspicious was he being? Just... being around or all up in their faces or...?”

    “I don’t know. There is a rumor he was armed. I am simply trying to...” He sighed, rubbing his forehead. “A lot of people are panicking today, and I am trying to keep everyone calm. It’s an exam day, so people are agitated. Some punk kid got on campus and is causing a ruckus, so people are agitated. Really, they just all need to cool down, get a little bit of perspective, and relax. I’m sure that you and, I’ll take a stab at this, Mr. Mackenzie also wants people to remain calm so that there isn’t a problem on campus caused by youths who lack context and adults who are agitated by the youths’ activity.”

    “That’s fair, that’s fair.” Terry nodded, looking around the office. “So this may not necessarily be anything related to any sort of otherworldly situation?”

    “Why would it be?” Stein responded fucking quickly. “And what do you mean by ‘otherworldly situation’? Little green men?”

    Terry nodded along, then quickly shook his head. “No, like the supernatural.”

    “Supernatural, you say?”

    “Yeah. I’d heard from my associates that perhaps some of the more psychic folk were getting, uh, agitated, specifically.” Terry raised an eyebrow.

    Stein raised one back. “You have talkative associates.” He shook his head fucking condescendingly. “An overreaction, I’m sure. An individual who I will not name, out of professional courtesy, you understand, is going through quite a personal family crisis at the moment. I believe that it might be infringing upon their perspective on certain things. Possibly causing them to become agitated. It is understandable - I too would be feeling some sort of agitation, if I were in their position. Not to mention the lingering trauma of the suicide early this year.” He gave Terry a considering look. “Unless you or Billy Mack have some further information? Something you might share with me and I might revise my opinions on the nature of the situation?”

    “Well, I had heard rumors that perhaps a very old, uh, for lack of a better word, wizard had existed her at some point and had, kinda slipped out of this mortal coil - but not died,” he followed up quickly.

    This forestalled Stein’s quip. “As one is wont to do... oh. Not dying.”

    Terry shook his head. “No, more of an undying sorta, D&D thing...”

    “Dee and dee...?”

    “I, well, sadly, I’m more of their, uh, technical associate than their, you know. More grounded in the science aspects of things.” Terry shrugged. “Anyway, an undying wizard sort of situation.”

    Stein held back a smile. “Well, I don’t know if you are aware, but Dick Clark has passed on.”

    Terry frowned slightly. “I know, and it’s very sad for all sorts of ball dropping situations... but anyway, there was a picture of a person, that person, the undying wizard one...”

    “A picture of a person, got it.”

    “On campus.” Terry kept going.

    “On campus, yes, I’m following.” Stein could be a real fucking asshole when he put his mind to it.

    Terry ignored him, mostly. “And the picture’s still there, but the person, in the picture, isn’t.

    “So there’s a picture, of a person, somewhere on campus...”

    This time Terry was the one interrupting. “A painting. A painting.”

    “A painting! We’re narrowing it down - I feel like I’m playing charades.” Stein seemed to be entertained at any rate.

    Terry sighed. “Have you heard anything that even remotely sounds like what I’m talking about?”

    Stein yielded a little. “I know a painting was stolen from the library, according to security. They are keeping an eye out for Madame Walthstone.”

    Terry nodded eagerly. “Madame Walthstone is, potentially, the weird undying wizard I’m talking about.”

    “I believe a trip to the cemetery could clear up the mystery of her location.” Stein still looked like he was holding back a smile. “Do you think the theft of this painting has a supernatural explanation? Perhaps a clever wizard thief?”

    “Maybe. I’ve encountered them.” Terry nodded seriously.

    “Have you?”

    “They do all seem to be very cunning...” Terry mused.

    Stein nodded exaggeratedly. “I have never met a wizard thief I didn’t find to be very cunning.” He shook his head. “I still believe that this is all stemming from my colleagues personal turmoil. This stolen painting is just a stolen painting. It’s exams, the youths have a lot of young steam to let off, and perhaps one of them stole it.”

    “Should it come out that it does seem to be something else, we’ll let you know?” Terry looked at him fucking questioningly.

    “Oh do please. I would like to be informed of anything strange going on.” Note to self: don’t be in the room with the two of them. Condescension of that magnitude makes me twitch in a fucking violent manner.

    I stopped for a cup of coffee, and as I was leaving the coffee shop, I got a text from Dr. Stein. ‘A polite but empty headed young man claiming to be working for you stopped by my office, asking strange questions. I don’t know if he was actually working for you, but I did want to let you know about it.’

    It seemed unlikely Terry’d gotten anywhere, if that was Stein’s response, so I sighed and headed over to the fucking nursing building myself. On the way though, I stopped into each building I came across, keeping an eye out for that feeling of being watched Miranda mentioned. It paid off in the Science building, so I made for the nearest bathroom.

    There were two people in there, one in a stall and one trying to fix her makeup after a good cry. It was all levels of fucked up, so she was having a time of it. I decided against doing obviously supernatural things in front of a couple of mortals, and since security was already up, I didn’t wanna risk any sort of action that might clear them out. So I tried the bathroom on the next floor up.

    There was only one person there, having a typed conversation on her phone, rage on her face. She was standing in front of the mirror, but not using it for anything, so I felt a little easier about my planned ruse. “Ma’am? There’ve been reports of some plumbing problems. I’m here to check it out, so you might wanna clear out for a bit.”

    She looked slightly surprised at my arrival, but quickly nodded. “Oh, alright.”

    She cleared out, and I found the out of order sign tucked away behind the door and hung it up. Then I went to the mirror. “Angelica, Angelica, Angelica?”

    My reflection crossed her arms and said “Yes?” in my voice.

    That will never not be goddamn creepy. “So, I’m Gabe. You are Mrs. Walthstone?”

    “Yes.” She nodded. “Gabe is a strange name for a woman.”

    “Short for Gabrielle. The ambiguity comes in handy for my line of work.” I smiled at her. “So... it’s been an interesting day.”

    “Yes,” she replied grimly. She paused, but I gave her the time. “My... what is your involvement in recent events? I know you are looking for my books.”

    I nodded. “Yep. Also, I was part of the group that helped clean out the Asbury Room. I can’t think of any other shit I’ve done here.”

    She looked at me consideringly. “The cleaning out of the Asbury Room is greatly appreciated. The nature of my magics make it difficult to deal with such things. Extremely difficult. My one attempt to deal with backfired, though in the end, it did turn out alright.” I grimaced at that, and she caught my line of thinking. “Angela.”

    “Ah, I see. I was a little worried it was Zelia.” I tapped the sink. “The stuff today though?”

    “A creature has come on campus. Its goal is to find where the books were taken. I believe it is also coming after me.” She looked perturbed.

    I raised an eyebrow. “That the fucker masquerading as the kid in the hoodie?” She nodded. “Do you know who sent it?” She shook her head. “Is it the kind of thing the Seers of the Throne might send?”


    I started fiddling with a pen. “On that thought real quick, how would the Seers of the Throne feel about you?”

    She frowned. “They hate any mages they can’t control, and believe we should either join them and be destroyed. I think if they could have sent this thing, they would have a long time ago.”

    I nodded. “They were also after the books, is why I bring it up.” I thought for a moment. “Couple of things, real quick, then we’ll make a plan. What’s your intention with Angela?”

    “I am actually able to ride in her mind, so occasionally just getting to be a girl again... it’s pleasant. I begin to forget which thoughts are mine or hers, so it's very disorienting if I’m in there for a long time. I can’t do this normally - Angela is something of a special case. Even just getting to eat again...” She looked melancholic.

    “While you are riding along, do you control her then?” I asked neutrally.

    She shook her head. “It’s more that I can project thoughts and desires that she cannot distinguish from her own. It’s not really possession - more of a cohabitation.”

    “Do you mind answering what magely affiliations you have? Or have you gone beyond such things?” It’s always good to know which of your allies hate each other.

    She waved her hands fucking airily. I didn’t know my hands could do that. “I’ve gone beyond them. Such things are for living mages. This place... it’s a place of learning, a place where knowledge is kept and stored. I simply sit back and let knowledge, mundane and otherwise come to me. I have discovered the internet, so I am attempting to see what I can do in that realm. I believe I would gain quite a bit of information if I were to ride on the internet.”

    “Almost certainly.” Nothing bad could come of it either. “Do you also not have the various prejudices that come along with that?”

    She looked at me hesitantly. “I like to think I’m beyond such things. I don’t care for the Seers of the Throne, but we have touched on why that is. Is there a particular reason you are asking?”

    “There are allies I will not bring into play, if you have problems with the Scelesti.” I crossed my arms and raised an eyebrow.

    She frowned. “They do, as a rule, threaten the integrity of the world.”

    I shrugged, giving her a what-can-you-do look. “Former Scelesti is probably a better description really. She helped cleanse the taint in the Asbury Room.”

    “Ah. Well then. That’s useful. If she is not trying to harm my campus, I will have no issue with her.” She nodded matter of factly. “As far as the books go - I was not aware when they were taken. There are areas of the school that were modified by an alien intelligence and I have trouble maintaining a presence in them.”

    That had possibilities, just in case there were some extra bits of Infrastructure lying around that weren’t in that one computer’s databanks. But that was a topic for another day. “The books are safe - I have them in an extra-dimensional space, where I am keeping them in until we know they are safe. Only until then, I give my word on that - I have no use for tomes like that.”

    She sighed. “Good. That is reassuring. The creature here though - I believe it will try and access the library. There are methods, if one knows what they are doing, that they can use to try and kill me, within the library.”

    “Ah. So you’re the reason why security is all holed up in the library.” She nodded. “Alright. A non-human entity is wandering around looking for you and the books...”

    “Also the necklace,” she broke in.

    My eyes widened. “It’s missing...”

    She shook her head. “It’s hidden.” I let out a fucking relieved breath. “Angela was in mortal danger when the creature came on campus. It was liberated from her and she was no longer in danger.”

    An idea occurred to me. “So it was making a beeline for the necklace... maybe if we had it, the creature would find us, save us from having to do it the other way around. We can set up a pretty goddamn mean ambush.”

    “I presume? I don’t know how it was tracking the necklace.”

    “But if my fellows agree to try it out, would you mind letting us keep ahold of it for awhile?” I asked. She nodded. “Swell. So, how can I get back in touch with you?”

    “The necklace would be the easiest way,” she pointed out.

    I made a face. “In case it can just automatically find it, I’d rather not have it until we were set up with a plan. Does it cost you anything to hop buildings?” She shook her head. “Would you mind checking in on the Pagan House occasionally?”

    “It’s got wards. I can get in, if I need to, but it would shatter them all.” She shrugged.

    “Not the go-to then.” I thought for a moment, then named a building nearby. “How about that one? Once we make our plans I should be able to hop over there quickly.”

    “I can do that.”

    “Great. Sounds like we have a plan. I’ll be in touch.” I nodded to her.

    She stopped me before I turned to go. “Are you a mage?”


    “May I ask why you are handling our conversation so well?” She frowned.

    I chuckled. “So... I’d tell you, but then they’d have to kill me.” I shrugged apologetically.

    “I can give you some protection here...” she said leadingly.

    I just smiled. “Perhaps at some point we’ll work out a way that I can be more open. I like you and I think we can help each other out. But we’ve got shit to deal with for the moment. No need to add to it.”

    She smiled at me. “Well, I do have great hair.” She ran her fingers through my reflection’s hair. “But you have a good point. I’ll wait for word.”

    I chuckled and nodded again, and headed out. My reflection turned and headed out with me.

    Outside, I sent a text back to Stein: ‘Right. That’s Terry, I’ll deal with it.’ I sent one out to the rest of the agency, ‘We are meeting at the Pagan House in however long it takes you to get there.’, then headed that way myself.

    Naomi texted me back ‘Angela’s on her way here. Also, Kayla wants to know if she’d be any help, or if she’d be in the way.’

    ‘I don’t see how she’d be in the way. There might be a confrontation.’

    ‘Alright. I’ll let her know.’

    The others got to the Pagan House in good time, Jack with Carpenter in tow. I dragged the agency and Carpenter to a back room and shooed the non-Demon cover students away. I gave Naomi the signal to make our conversation private and laid out what I’d learned. The only thing I left off was that the library was where you went to go kill her. “So what do we think?”

    Naomi was still taken fucking aback by the revelation that Angelica had been riding around in Angela since before the Room incident. “So if Angela was really taken off guard by festivities one time...”

    I chuckled. “About the plan with the necklace?”

    “So, we don’t know what it’s capable of?” Carpenter asked.

    “No clue.” I shrugged.

    Naomi frowned. “Kayla, you’re not coming along to the ambush.”

    Kayla crossed her arms. “Of course. Why would you want me to come along and be helpful?”

    I rolled my eyes at Naomi, and she ignored both me and Kayla. “Can I put forward a name to try and get to help us?” I gave her a ‘go ahead’ nod. “Heather. It probably can’t disguise itself as a human from Heather, and she can profoundly affect the battle field in our favor.”

    “I like that plan.” I looked around to the others, who nodded.

    Carpenter shrugged. “She’d be better than Hazard for the ambush. He’s powerful, but not a toe-to-toe, in your face fighter.”

    Speaking of better people to have in an ambush, Carpenter was fucking high on that list, but I wasn’t looking forward to fighting as myself here. I turned to the others and said, in Quechuan, “So do we wanna spill the beans now? Naomi, look confused.”

    She did as she was told. The others all nodded. “How do we wanna do it? String it along and see how he follows or lay it all out there?” Jack asked.

    “Lay it all out there” was Terry’s opinion, predictably.

    “I was thinking somewhat roundabout.” I shrugged.

    Carpenter looked at Naomi wryly. “Fair warning. If they all jump us, I’m using you as a human shield.”

    I grinned. “Sorry. Needed a quick consult.” I shifted my sunglasses around and popped my eyes on. “So, have you seen the room above the book room in the library? The room in the space that shouldn’t be there?” He nodded. “Do you know what made that?”

    “No. I have theories, but...” He gave a half-hearted shrug.

    “What are your theories?” Jack asked, and while he took over the conversation, I went looking through his surface thoughts. Most of his running commentary was about how fucking awesome it was going to be to fight a monster after a long day of dealing with students. His theory - machine spirits - was just a brief blip across the happy inner monologue about fighting a good old fashioned bad guy and there was no lingering animosity towards anything he thought of as a machine spirit.

    “Powerful machine spirits. I’ve run across things like that before. Not too often though.” He sounded uncertain.

    I made a considering face. “Not quite spirits. You heard anything about a God-Machine, to go along with your machine spirits?”

    He frowned and shook his head. “The ruler of a Shadow realm of machine spirits?”

    “It’s a thing, here, not in the Shadow. It has the world running along its particular schedule and needs particular things to happen to make that schedule work. And because some chucklefuck had a brilliant idea once, its servitors are called Angels. And when we decide to say ‘fuck it’ we’re called Demons.” I lowered my glasses slightly, Mind Reading eyes still running.

    He nodded slowly. “So you’re... rogue not-machine spirits. OK.” He took it remarkably well.

    I grinned. “Basically. Or, another way to think of it, we’re were-robots. Except we can turn individual parts back and forth.”

    Naomi’s eyes lit up. “Can you turn your fingers into vibrators? No reason.” I flipped her off. “It’s not vibrating.”

    “One thing - try and keep it on the down-low. The reason we didn’t mention it before, despite our foray into the Wound, is that generally if we tell people, the God-Machine and Angels will try to kill us.”

    Terry nodded goddamn eagerly. “You’ve seen Lord of the Rings? Read the book maybe?”

    Carpenter raised an eyebrow. “I have read Lord of the Rings, yes.”

    “There’s a very Eye of Sauron quality to it.” Even I didn’t know where that had been going. Not the worst metaphor though.

    “Alright, good deal. So - ambush plans.” I looked around. “So you know Carpenter, there’s one other of us that’ll be joining us for that part of it. So that’ll make four of us, plus you and Heather.”

    I glanced down at my phone to see a text from Liz. ‘We should ambush somewhere with lots of water.’

    I raised an eyebrow. “Is there a swimming pool?” Carpenter nodded. After a moment’s thought, I realized that was probably for Heather’s benefit. “Maybe there then. But tell you what - we should find Heather, ask her to help and then plan an ambush site. If she’s helping, if I understand things right, the ideal place is going to depend on where she can pull power out the fastest, or something like that.”

    I peeked my head out into the main room of the Pagan house and waved Heather over. I pushed Naomi out as she came in. Terry wandered out after her. I think his Cover was cracking a bit, so he didn’t want to be part of that reveal. “Yeah?” The Beast looked around at all of us.

    “The thing on campus - the guy in the hoodie - is some kind of supernatural entity...” I began.

    “Not a spirit?” I shook my head. Heather nodded. “I wasn’t sure...”

    I continued. “All we know for sure is non-human, but I don’t think he’s a normal kind of spirit. He’s after the books, the necklace, and a particular supernatural entity that looks after campus.” Liz swanned in, nodding around to everyone.

    “Ah, right in time.” Liz graced Heather with a brilliant smile, and proceeded to explain about us being Demons in the most goddamn diplomatic way I’d ever heard it phrased. By the time Heather got the stars out of her eyes and figured out what exactly Liz was saying, she was nodding along to helping us punch the evil alien intelligence we were refugees from.

    I looked between the two of them, giving Kayla a fucking sympathetic look. “Alright. Now that the band’s together, you guys figure out an ambush location and I’ll get the necklace.”

    They started talking, and as I left I heard Liz say to Kayla, “I thought I heard you weren’t coming.”

    I paused briefly, and chuckled at Kayla’s rejoinder: “And tonight, neither will you be.”

    I found a girl passed out on the floor of the first bathroom I got to in the building I’d arranged with Angelica. After checking for a pulse, and finding one, I picked her up carefully. She woke up a little as I carried her. “I thi- I thin’ I mis’d m’exam.”

    “That seems unfortunate.” I set her down out in the hall, rolled over on her side just in case.

    When I got back in the bathroom, my reflection smiled at me. I managed to return it. “So, we’re all on board. Can I get the necklace?”

    She nodded and leaned forward, pulling my collar away to show that my reflection was wearing it. I reached into the mirror and helped her pull it over her head. “Get it back to me, or Angela, when this passes over, please.”

    “Sure thing doll.” I slipped it in a pocket. “Wish us luck.”

    My reflection gave me a small wave. “Good luck.”

    I met the others at the gym. It was apparently dark enough for Heather to bring her lair around when the time came, and not being used at the moment. Jack and Liz got to work setting us all up for the ambush, and then we got down to the business of waiting.

    It wasn’t too long before a fucking nondescript looking gee in a hoodie walked in, and we all got pulled into Heather’s lake of fire. The darkness was goddamn impenetrable, despite the dull red glow of the ever-burning fires dancing over the underground lake. Despite the fact that the place should have been an inferno of sound, crackling fires at the very least, the entire place was still and quiet.

    We all took advantage of the thing’s surprise by transforming. I made the full swap so that I could having a more useful form, since it cost Heather something to make any of us immune to the darkness or the fire. So I shifted into a small charred black submarine with thick plating, a small paddle wheel, and a bright headlight. That let me see a bit further, though the light didn’t go far enough to help the others much. Still, only Markizel didn’t see in the dark, so we did alright. He was also the only one put out by the water – I obviously was right at home, Clytemnestra's long spider limbs didn't even break the surface, and Quietus hovered above it.

    Looking around, a small island floated in the distance, ringed off by barbed wires fences. Heather herself was gone, replaced by a long thick black draconic shape. The light, such as it was, reflected off of her scales with an oily shimmer. Only her eyes were a break from the oozing blackness, being a pair of banked coals flaring into life.

    The hoodie’d fucker clearly wasn’t prepared for where he found himself. He was glowing slightly in the darkness and inside the hood was nothing but two big eyes in wisps of fiery smoke. He hesitated, waiting to respond to us, so I got off the first shot, a solid center of mass hit with my rivet gun.

    He glared at me, but whatever he was trying didn’t work, so he turned to Carpenter and pulled out a mass of white energy from the werewolf. Carpenter looked staggered, and the thing’s wounds began closing.

    Markizel threw himself at the gee, grabbing on to him with all of his extra limbs. Clytemnestra followed up by webbing the creature’s arms to his body. Quietus was right there beside him, taking advantage of its distraction to stick his blade hand through the thing’s gut.

    In the end, it was a little anticlimactic, just how I like my fights. Now, not all my fights are ended by a giant fuck-off oil serpent biting the bad guy in half, but I’d be alright if more of them were. So long as that giant fuck-off oil serpent didn’t start thinking I was the bad guy. It meant Carpenter didn’t get quite the fight he was hoping for, but I don’t think he was too upset. He looked a little worn out, honestly.

    I got back over to the others as he took a deep breath, in fact. “You’re dealing with a Mummy.” I’ll admit, I was a little relieved. Sure, Mummies aren’t the kinda shit I really wanna be dealing with, but at least we had a handle on who and what that might be about. It wasn’t some new player, and we had allies in that arena. Carpenter was continuing, responding to a question Terry asked, I think. “Mummies summon those things, and use them as servants.”

    “Alright.” I spun my wheel, thinking. “That narrows things down. A lot.”

    Clytemnestra looked at me questioningly. “I can ask Zelda if she did it.”

    I shifted in the water. “Yeah. If we’re lucky, it was her, and we can work out some sort of deal, in a civilized manner. If not, if it was fuckhead whatever his name was, and she might be willing to help us block him, for the sake of him not getting what he wants.” I turned towards Heather. “Don’t suppose we could get out?”

    “Oh, yeah, sure. I’ll make a way out for you guys. I should probably go talk to the people whimpering on the island.” She looked nervous.

    “Yeah, probably.” I glanced that way. “I don’t suppose you could be more...” I waved my gun arm in the general vicinity of my prow, then realized that probably didn’t make as much sense as it would if I were in human form. “Less scaly?”

    She shook her head. “Not really.”

    “Oh. Well. Good luck.”

    “Thanks.” The dragon gave me a remarkably friendly looking smile and swam off.

    Soon, a whirlpool opened up a short ways away. Through it we could vaguely see the dark gym, so we all jumped through, landing in human form on the other side.

    The feeling of a storm about to break had lessened, but wasn’t all gone. We made our way to the Pagan house, and the first thing I did was to find Angela, Cassandra and Dr. Cross, ignoring Am standing around with a knife in her teeth. Once we’d gotten back to a room, I leaned against a wall. “The thing running around campus has been dealt with.”

    “I do feel a certain lessening of tension but...” Cassandra looked between the other two girls. “The overwhelming feeling of being watched isn’t gone.”

    “That should fade away soon. I just have to talk to someone real quick.” I was keeping an eye on Angela. Only because I was, I noticed she was smiling at me a little more than I’d expect from Angela. So I let the other two head out, asking Angela to stay a moment.

    “I’m here!” Angelica, presumably, answered my questioning look. “I’m going to have to have a conversation with myself after this, I think.” Angela looked fucking confused.

    I handed over the necklace. “The thing was a Mummy’s creature. We know one in town, we’re going to look into it.”

    Angela frowned. “I don’t have an enmity with any of them.”

    I shrugged. “Maybe you were just in the way of the books. Anyway, you should be safe for now.”

    “So what’s going on?” Angela demanded, immediately answering, “Don’t worry about it. This is weird. I understand that.”

    “I think it would be better to have her explain.” I indicated herself.

    Her eyes widened. “Is this like demonic possession?”

    “No,” Angela and I answered quickly.

    Angela wrapped her arms around herself, her breath coming fast. “I need to talk to my god.”

    I patted her gently on her shoulder. “Alright, sure thing. You stay put, alright?” I found Liz quickly, and put a word in her ear in Finnish, “Angela just found out about Angelica riding in her head, and needs her god.” Liz left quickly.

    Liz was done just in time to head to the history building for our meeting with Hazard. He nodded to all of us as we walked in. “Sorry for the delay, exams and all.”

    I stretched. “S’alright. We took care of that Mummy’s assassin that was causing a scene.”

    “One of the Deathless has sent an assassin? Who were they after?” He looked concerned.

    “The books.” I shrugged. “Angelica. Both. She’s a lich, by the way. Inhabiting your campus.”

    He looked only slightly taken aback. “I was somewhat suspicious that was the case.”

    I smiled. “She’s very reasonable. Nice, too.”

    “I’m sure she seems that way.” Hazard looked down his nose at me. “But she has cast aside her humanity to become what she is.”

    “Doesn’t mean she can’t be nice.” I kept up the grin. Maybe I had complimentary feelings towards her because I had a thing for beyond their time, incredibly powerful, and just as dangerous women, but I didn't have to let him know it. “Anyway, since we apparently have either two or three people after these books, depending on whether the Mummy who sent the fucking assassin was the original thief or not, leaving them safe and sound seem like the best plan to me.”

    “True. Though if the Mummy stole them, why would they send this assassin to campus?” Hazard asked.

    I shrugged. “Cause we took them back. They might have made assumptions.”

    Liz looked thoughtful. “Can Mummies do magic like you can?”

    “Like, but not the same.” Hazard looked ready to deliver a goddamn lecture on the varieties of magic casting.

    I headed him off. “So if a mage was working a counter-spell to one of their effects, they’d know it wasn’t cast by another mage?”

    “Right.” He looked perturbed.

    “Ah well. Probably three players then.” I laid out the next step on the rest of the plans, since that didn’t really change anything, leaning on our favorite, the one that would get Team Tomorrow and Blue Sun at odds.

    “I don’t know anything about the Blue Sun other than they’ve recently arrived in town...” Hazard raised an eyebrow.

    I managed to paint a pretty good picture of them, such that he should have been able to guess they were God-Machine adjacent at the very least, if he was in the know. I had Aura Sight up, and didn’t detect any particular emotional flares as I did my painting, positive or negative, so that seemed clean. “They’re in a similar business as Team Tomorrow, and we really don’t want them merging. No one who is at odds with Team Tomorrow wants that happening either.” He nodded his understanding. “Any thoughts?”

    “Sounds fine to me. I don’t have a particular grudge against Blue Sun, but I’d rather not have them working with the Seers, as you say.” He thought for a moment. “My advice is to have someone watch the Team Tomorrow building, so that you know when they leave in pursuit. Then have the person carrying the books go inside the Blue Sun building. Their ritual will be more precise as they get close.”

    “Great. We’ll let you know what comes of this, and the whole Mummy question.” I nodded our thanks and we headed out

    End Session LXVII

    Okay, first and foremost, The Ifreet were not exactly a Mummy creature. I took some liberties there.

    Secondly, so, the battle with the Ifreet was an example of a single suggestion wrecking my plan. The Ifreet could fight from Twilight, attacking without becoming vulnerable. Of the PCs, only Quietus can attack stuff in Twilight, and it is expensive for him. Of course, Carpenter can, being a Werewolf. But if drawn into the lair of a Beast, in addition to all the other advantages, it could not be in Twilight. Naomi’s suggestion, without Naomi knowing about the Twilight thing, made the Ifreet much more vulnerable. So a major fight sort of because a brat packing the monster to death, but it was okay.

    In other news, I think it was first during the Quietus and Dr. Carpenter scene I was asked why all my NPCs had become assholes. The question came up again when Markizel talked to Dr. Stein.

    I think that about covers it. This was one of the very few sessions when the IC time (about 3.5 hours) actually was less than the OOC time (about 4 hours) passing. Usually mich more the other way. Kilroy should be back tonight, though no Markizel. Comments and Questions welcome.
    Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 05-20-2017, 05:24 PM.

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    [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]


    • With things calming down after the showdown at the school, the PCs check on the resident Mummy ally to make sure she is not responsible for the fracas. Oh wait she is? Oh dear.

      Session LXVIII

      Speed Demon’s Monologues

      After the meeting, Terry fucked off. Apparently, Kyle was hitchhiking back home and ended up in a car that he called Terry from when he realized they weren’t taking him to where they had said they would. They needed another farmhand, it seems. I figured that was the best goddamn news I’d heard in a bit - worst case scenario his bail bondsman would sent a bounty hunter after him and he’d be back soon. Best case, he’d be out of my fucking life. But Terry decided he needed to go rescue him.

      I touched base with Mac, but he’d had a wrinkle show up in whatever case he was working on, and so wasn’t free. As I was hanging up on him, I got a call from Miranda, which was excellent timing, as I’d been about to call her. I assured her I was safe, and since we appeared to be done for the evening, arranged to meet her for dinner to go over the details.

      When I say we appeared to be done for the evening, I meant me. Jack and Liz still had a Mummy to visit. So once we confirmed that the book business would go down tomorrow, after Naomi’s exam, we split up.

      Liz drove the two of them to Zelda’s penthouse. Once there, she knocked on the door, and the sliding peephole opened up, two reptilian eyes peering out at them through it. Liz smiled, and the peephole slid shut, followed by the door opening. A pair of women in niqab gestured for them to enter.

      Inside, the sitting room was fucking filled with about a dozen of Zelda’s snake women. Liz looked around nervously. “So, Zelda’s here, right? I’d just like to speak to her, if that’s OK.”

      One of the snake women nodded. “Wait a moment please.” Another of them came by with a tray of drinks, and Jack and Liz both took one of the sweet, fruity cocktails. Jack frowned a bit at the sour aftertaste, and kept scanning the room.

      Best he could tell, no one was going to jump them right off. But all of them were prepared to - something had them on edge. Thankfully it wasn't too long before Zelda herself came in, dressed all in red with a short scarf. She gestured for them to follow her and led them into an office full of books, archeological artifacts, and tools. “So, what would you like to talk to me about?”

      Liz gave a fucking concerned look out the door. “Well first, dear, are you in danger? You seem to have your guard considerably upped from last time I was here.”

      Zelda gave her a wry look. “To be completely honest, I have concerns that you are working against me.”

      Liz put a hand to her heart. “I wouldn’t dream of hurting you, we’re such good friends.”

      “You intervened at the university today.” Zelda was unmoved.

      “Yes, because an ally of ours was under attack and I had never heard that whatever was going on was for your benefit. I knew it was a Deathless, but that’s all, and since there was a fifty-fifty chance it wasn’t you, I was sort of hoping.” Liz smiled. “I wouldn’t dream of coming after you dear, this is a social call.”

      Zelda frowned. “I see. Well, you did.”

      Liz went fishing. “You are after the books, I presume? You believe that they are on campus... Had you have them previously?”

      “I have not had them. I do wish to study them.” Zelda looked goddamn pensive. “I believe there is information in them that could be... I want to see if certain information is contained within the books. If it isn’t, I have no further use of them. If it is, then I have to destroy them and anyone that’s read them.”

      Liz raised an eyebrow. “I suspect if something so dangerous is in them, anyone who has read them won’t know what they’ve read, and it would be calling undue attention to the books should you begin to hunt down everyone who has read them. Just to be clear - I haven’t. I don’t even know where they are.”

      Zelda sighed. “There are specific people who I do not want having the information, it is true. People in the other faction of Deathless, including Erasmus. I have reason to believe that one of the books has information about an ancient civilization, the one that I am from, information that my rivals are trying to hoard. I also have reason to believe they - my rivals - do not know this particular bit of information. And I would prefer that continue. I am not certain about any of this, however, as my sources have not read the books either, so I don’t wish to do anything drastic...”

      “You sent an assassin imp of some kind to kill a lich. That’s... drastic, dear.” Liz smiled encouragingly at her.

      Zelda waved Liz’s objection aside. “That was a lich. Are they ever a good thing?”

      Liz looked thoughtful. “This one seemed OK to me. And to some extent, we’re more concerned about who our allies are than whether they are there every Sunday morning, if you get my drift. Something tells me you don’t spend too much time on your knees at Mass.”

      She smiled back at Liz. “No, but, I do need to see those books.”

      “Well, if I find the books, I could possibly represent you in making a deal,” Liz offered. “The problem is this whole taking out anyone who’s read them, if that certain thing is there. I’m perfectly fine with covering it up. I don’t care about these other Deathless - there’s precisely one Deathless, in the world, that I care about, and that’s you. The rest of them can go fuck themselves. But we have a rapport, you and I.”

      “And you want to sleep with me.” Zelda raised an eyebrow at her. From behind Liz’s back, Jack nodded.

      Liz looked fucking pertly back at her. “And I can read emotions well enough to know that you want to sleep with me. But that’s not what I came here for. If it was, I wouldn’t have brought him.” She gestured at Jack.

      Zelda raised an eyebrow at Jack, who kept nodding. “Oh really? I wasn’t sure that he wasn’t your wingman.”

      “I don’t need a wingman,” Liz protested. “But I do want to get this worked out. I don’t want you to be our enemy.”

      “Do you have any theories where the books are?”

      Liz shook her head. “I have no theories as to where the books are. I don’t think they are at the school, since the lich doesn't know about them. That doesn’t make me sure, since there’s only a certain amount of mage bullshit I can hear before my eyes just start to glaze over.”

      Zelda nodded thoughtfully. “Fine. I do want to make a deal with you, to help me get a hold of the books.”

      “And again, I don’t mind as long as you don’t a) destroy the book or b) destroy everyone who’s read the books. That would pit you against others in the group, and I want to side with you, but I can’t if you are going to be working against us.” Zelda drummed her fingers on the arm of her chair. Liz continued reassuringly. “I personally will talk to Gabe about your vested interest in the Deathless not finding out about this information that may be in the book. We will not let you destroy the books or those who have read them - at least, we will put up some effort to stop you. I’ve never fought a Deathless before, and I have absolutely no interest in starting with you - I was hoping to start with Erasmus actually. Not unrelated, we might also work out a deal along those lines. If there aren’t any active Deathless in Seattle, the books aren’t such a threat.”

      “That’s fair...” Zelda sighed. “Why did you not mention this to me?”

      Liz smiled. “The two of us are not much in the business of telling each other ours. Good fences make good neighbors.”

      Zelda smiled wryly. “Until we find ourselves killing each other’s minions, that’s true.”

      Jack broke in. “To be fair, we’re a detective agency. Discretion is one of the things we run on.”

      “That is fair as well.” Zelda nodded at Jack. “About your deal - I’ll consider it. Perhaps I’ll come by your office and we’ll talk. I’d like assurances from more than just you. You are after all not the only ones involved. I would hate to have them shut you out so as not to have to deal with me.”

      “I think they’ll agree with me, and not be on board for the nebulous killing of people for Schrodinger’s information, but outside of that, I’m sure we can work something out.” Jack gave her a grin. “We will be busy tomorrow afternoon, for that visit.”

      Zelda nodded gravely. “Well, it has been good to talk to you, and I’m glad that it went better than I was expecting...”

      “You know we’re such good friends!” Liz pouted a bit at the implication. “And I really hate any misunderstandings that took place, especially those involving horrifically murdering your minion.”

      “And keep in mind, you can let either of us know, if something becomes strange, or there’s some new territory involved, and you wanna see if it’s something we’re messed up in,” Jack put in his two cents.

      Zelda smiled. “I do that some with Liz, but I will keep you in mind as a contact as well.”

      Liz smiled all around. “Well, I do believe we will get out of your hair. Unless you... had an open evening?”

      “Not tonight dear.” Zelda gave her a sharp smile. “I’m not that forgiving.”

      “Worth a try.” Liz smiled and waved as she headed out. Once outside, she sighed heavily. “Fuck.” She sent out a text to the group. ‘That was Zelda’s minion. She’s unhappy - they were ready to kill us when we walked in - but not declaring war or anything. I am silk.’

      ‘I’m sure she’ll get over it.’ I sent back.

      ‘I’ll help her. She may be coming by the office to negotiate about the books.’ She turned to Jack. “That was more snake women than I thought she had.”

      “And they were going to kill us when we first walked in.” He grinned at her. “I gather that bringing about the Ifrit was not a simple measure.”

      “Probably not.” Liz made a moue. “I don’t like it when people don’t like me.”

      Jack shook his head and climbed in the car. “I know. I know.”

      Miranda looked beautiful as always as we sat down for dinner. I didn’t get a chance to tell her so before she got down to business. Probably for the best - it wouldn’t do to look soft. Or to make her suspicious. “So, I found some information on Angelica.”

      I smiled over at her. “Alright. Anything exciting?”

      “She was a very talented mage, and power hungry. Father tried to tempt her into going over to the Left Hand, as it were, but not successfully. She... you didn’t mention my name, did you?” I shook my head. “OK. Because she’ll know who I am, and while she may not be actively hostile towards me, she won’t be fond of me.”

      I nodded. “I did mention I had an ally who was a former Scelesti.”

      “Ah.” Miranda nodded thoughtfully. “She might not recognize me, because I don’t think we’ve ever met. But she should recognize my name. I did spend some time on campus recently, but she might have been slumbering.”

      “She was awake during the Asbury room situation,” I threw out there. Miranda raised an eyebrow. “That’s why Angela got quite so involved - Angelica was trying to gather information, or something.”

      Miranda gave a wry chuckle. “That would be why she went in the tainted room then. The main thing is that she is charming - as charming as a building can be I suppose - and good at getting people to do what she wants. She isn’t the type to betray for the fun of it, however.”

      I shrugged. “We have done her a good turn or two, so if she isn’t likely to betray us randomly, that seems pretty safe.”

      “She... if she comes to have a real understanding of what the God Machine is, she might want to study Demons and Angels, possibly even to find some way to co-opt It with her intelligence.” Miranda took a sip of her drink, keeping an eye on me.

      “I can imagine. She already wants to figure out how to ride the Internet, that’s not so big a step.” I shook my head. Now, if I was an Integrator... though I suppose I’d want it to be a mage I trusted trying to co-opt the fucking God-Machine. But that would be one way to try and steer it back around, if I didn’t think that was about the shittiest idea I’d ever heard.

      Miranda nodded. “It’s another step towards her Apotheosis.” She made a face. “I’ll admit, Apotheosis, that sort of thing, was tempting to me too, once, but the thing is, we have thousands of years of human history, which includes thousands of years of mages, with times that mages were much more powerful than they are now, and the simple fact is that mages either never succeed at Apotheosis, or they totally succeeded, but just won’t talk to you. They’re ‘somewhere else’.” The sarcasm was thick. “Being gods, apparently. Clearly, shut away somewhere beyond heaven.” She shrugged. “It doesn't seem like a good deal. Best case scenario, I’d be banished and shut away somewhere beyond the Abyss. Worst case scenario, explosive death.”

      I chuckled. “Yeah, I gotta say, not very tempting options you’ve got there.”

      “So we’re on different paths, she and I. Anyway, be careful. Be careful what she knows, especially about the God Machine.”

      “Yeah.” I nodded. “I’ll definitely try to keep from bringing the ‘alien intelligence’ further to her attention. The fact that there’s Infrastructure scattered around campus is probably not great for keeping that under wraps though. We are dismantling it though, so hopefully we get it out of sight and mind.”

      We had a good dinner after that, discussing various points of what happened and general magely knowledge. Miranda never acted jealous, but she did take every opportunity she could to point out, without so many words, that the girl was no good for me, or even really a girl anymore. I couldn’t argue her points, really. And anyways, I had a far more interesting mage right there. Eventually, other mages fell out of the conversation, such as it was.

      Liz dropped Jack off at his car then headed for a night with Kayla. Jack decided he wasn’t done for the night and made his way to Maverick’s. It wasn’t a super busy night, but it was Wet T-shirt Trivia night so it wasn’t fucking slow either. Wet T-Shirt Trivia was the compromise Ginny had held Bobby to after he wanted Strip Trivia - each team had a designated member and if the team answered questions wrong, the designated member got water dumped on them. It almost always was a young lady in a white t-shirt too...

      Not a whole lot of familiar faces in the crowd, but Bobby Heartwood was there, telling his story of heroics at the theater again, with just about as much success as last time. Callie was there, eating Pocky at a high table, chatting with a guy not named Bobby. Bobby Right was at the bar and waved to Jack when he came in. Jack took a seat near him and Bobby sent off his girls.

      “So, any ripples?” Jack asked.

      “Had several people I don’t know come by, you know, come in, buy a drink and leave.” Bobby shrugged.


      Bobby shrugged. “I dunno. Maybe.”

      Jack frowned. “You got a description?”

      “I can get the security camera footage.” A disgruntled look crossed the Reptoid’s face briefly. “Bobby had some strange ideas as to where to put the security cameras, but I think I can get some shots. Come back by tomorrow afternoon.”

      Jack groaned. “I don’t want to even think about how illegal they are.”

      “You a cop?” Bobby raised an eyebrow.

      “No, but if one asks me about it, I don’t want to know.” Jack rolled his eyes. “Anything else?”

      Bobby shook his head. “Just the unusual number of passerbys.”

      Jack nodded his thanks and got a drink before heading over to stand near Callie, blocking her from Bobby Heartwood’s view. “So you’re a college kid. Wanna help me win some trivia?”

      “Sure.” She gave him a wary fucking look. “I’m not going to let you drop water on me though.”

      “Yeah, the point is we’re supposed to win.” Jack raised an eyebrow.

      She shrugged. “Fair enough. Want some Pocky?”

      Jack looked down at his drink and over at the Pocky. “Sure why not?” He took a seat at her table. “You’re Callie, right?”

      She nodded. “Callista, but people call me Callie. Except for Am. She calls me California.”

      “Which do you prefer?”

      She smiled at him. “Callie.”

      “So Am calls you California...” Jack began.

      “Well, she’s China. But she goes by Amsterdam... well, Am, cause none of us are willing to use the whole thing. So she thinks I should be California.” She gave him a ‘what can you do’ look. “One’s a state, one’s a city, one’s a country, none of these are the same... but she’s uncomfortably hot, so I put up with it.” Jack chuckled. “I mean, good god, isn’t she?”

      Jack shrugged. “A little young for me.”

      Callie took another bite of Pocky. “It’s the best reason to put up with Naomi too.”

      “There’s no reason to put up with Naomi. None.” Jack’s response was goddamn quick.

      “Not for you maybe.” She grinned at him. “That girl’s part weed whacker.”

      Jack put his hands on his ears. “None.” He shook his head. “It’s exams, right?”

      She let out a deep breath. “Yeah, and a hell of a day for it today. I saw you at the Pagan house. I’m not technically actually Pagan, I just hang around there because a lot of my friends do.”

      “I am so not one to judge.”

      She shrugged. “I figure by my senior year I’ll know what I am. I haven’t really decided yet.”

      “Fair enough.”

      The two managed to win the night and not get any water poured on Jack at all. ‘Course, it was mainly carried by Callie. Jack, ever the gentleman, let her keep the whole pot, such as it was. She left him with a couple of Pocky for the road.

      The whole agency was together the next late morning at the office. Billy Mack was back - as it turns out, he was called away to deal with some EPA agents who’d wandered into the wrong fucking parts of Diablo Lake. After he explained that, Jack smirked at him. “No fish fry?”

      Billy Mack frowned at him. “No. The situation was avoided, and the individuals will be returning with no memories of anything untoward. But will be returning so as not to prompt a search by more aggressive federal agents.”

      We settled into making plans regarding the Blue Sun/Team Tomorrow fiasco we were going to put into the works this afternoon. Billy Mack had decided I shouldn’t be seen anywhere near the place when something hinky was going to go down, so Jack volunteered Miguel. The gee and his janitorial business had a perfectly reasonable cover for being in the place, and no ties to anything else they’d seen, so it made sense.

      We’d just settled that when Mac gave me a call, asking if we could meet up for sandwiches to tell me about this new case he was working on that had gone weird. I left the boys to figure out the details and headed over to the deli Mac liked.

      He looked worried as we stood in line, and started in on business as soon as we sat down. “Now, we can’t officially hire you or anything, but this seemed like your kinda thing. Maybe just some advice...”

      I shrugged. “We just got finished with a couple of big cases and the book’s in the black for the moment. We might could see our way around being unofficially not-hired or whatever shit makes it work.”

      “Alright... let me start at the beginning. We have a ghost ship situation, the Eleanor Dell.” I raised an eyebrow at him. “It drifted into harbor with no one in it, 4 hours after the last time it had contacted the harbor to say it was 2 hours out. There’s a missing lifeboat and one room on the ship where there had been a lot of gunfire, but no blood. No one from it has been found except the captain.”

      “Lemme guess - he’s not talking?” I took a sip of my drink.

      He gave me a wry attempt at a smile. “That’s a hard thing for dead men to do. The weird thing was where he showed up dead - dumped off to the side of the southbound Interstate heading out of town. Not a sign of what killed him - we’re still waiting on the autopsy.”

      I whistled. “Fucking weird was right.”

      “It gets better.” He frowned down at his sandwich. “One of the cops left on the boat to guard it last night went missing. Watson just up and disappeared, stop responding to the check ins. The other one, the one above deck, said no one passed by him and he’d’ve had to, to get out from belowdecks.” He sighed. “Well, he coulda gone out a window, but there woulda been a splash, and Tom says there wasn’t that either.”

      “Keeping an eye on the southbound Interstate?”

      He nodded. “But that’s all we’ve got so far. We’re doing an inventory - stuff’s clearly missing, with obviously emptied shelf space, but no clue yet what it is. Nothing jumps out at any of us about the cargo, it seems pretty mundane stuff, nothing that could be used to make drugs, no weird tiki gods.” He sighed, and took a bite of his sandwich. “So that’s my case. Keeping an eye on the Interstate is really the only thing we have to work on, and best we can tell the captain was tossed from a moving vehicle - can’t find anybody who saw anything.”

      I finished up my sandwich. “I can certainly take a look at it, and talk to the guys about seeing if they’ll take a look at it too.”

      “Thanks. I’ll need to escort you on, but I can come up with some kinda reason for it.” He gave me a thankful look and got back to his sandwich.

      “We’ve got some business here in the next little bit, to wrap up a case, but barring complications it should be done soon. I’ll give you a call?” I checked my watch. Naomi should be done with her exam soon.

      He nodded, mouth full. “Oh - find out anything on campus yesterday?”

      I made a dismissive noise. “Apparently some prankster swapped paintings in the library - replacing one of those portraits for an identical one without the guest of honor. I guess the hoodied kid was just a distraction? Fucking college students.” I shook my head.

      We kept the conversation like for a bit. I got the news about his family and I told him amusing non-discretion breaking stories of things I’d been up to. It was a nice lunch, ghost ships aside.

      We took Jack’s car for our afternoon business, figuring it was the least fucking conspicuous. Even with a quick detour to get Billy Mack eyes on the Team Tomorrow compound, it wasn’t a long drive to Blue Sun. We settled in to wait. Everyone else fired up various Demon bits - and by everyone else I mean Billy Mack and Liz; Jack wasn’t going in there with any robot parts, that’s for goddamn certain - in case shit hit the fan. I didn't. The way I figured it, if shit hit the fan that hard, we’d be past covered in it before we had time use any of them. Turns out shit did hit the fan, but, well... it wasn’t precisely what we were expecting.

      I grabbed one of the books from my bolthole and handed it over to Miguel, who stashed it in his messenger bag. It wasn't too long before a caravan of two cars and an unmarked box truck left Team Tomorrow. Billy Mack kept up a stream of running commentary for us, but as soon as they left, Miguel headed inside.

      As we expected, the receptionist had the random janitorial representative without an appointment cooling his heels in lobby for far more than the time it took Team Tomorrow to get nearby. Well, he would have been, but as soon as they were about five minutes out, by Billy Mack’s reckoning, Miguel asked after the bathroom, and prepped to hide out there while the Angels defended their fucking corporation from Team Tomorrow. As it turns out, they weren’t the first to arrive.

      About two minutes from Team Tomorrow’s arrival and counting, five black sedans pulled up to Blue Sun and 8 fuckers in suits and sunglasses with machine guns poured out. The Tick Tock Men decided to join the party, bringing the count of people after the books up to five, counting us. Not to mention raising the general threat level - I hadn’t fought a Mummy before, but I was pretty sure I’d rather take her on than a squad of Tick Tock Men.

      We let Miguel know about the new threat and he started looking for a window out. Billy Mack let us know whereabouts Miguel, his bathroom, and his window were located, and I slipped out of the car, chivvying Liz into the driver’s seat. I figured when things got too hot, I’d quickly toss the goddamn book back in my bolthole, and we’d get out of there a little more stealthily than anticipated. Two teams of mages, one of them a bunch of fucking scary monsters, tipped the scales a little in favor of pursuers of the books rather than the Angels at that point, even on their home ground. So I wanted to make sure none of them could track us even a step away.

      Still, we wanted to wait until Team Tomorrow engaged. Both Miguel and I had seen a few action movies in our time, and neither of us wanted to be crawling through the tiny ass vent right as the bad guys broke down the bathroom door, so he went ahead and made his way out. Things were getting heated inside - I could smell the ozone from where I was waiting.

      Crossing our fingers, we circled around the building so that it was between us and the street. My best idea of a tracking spell was a divining rod type thing, so I hoped with the building being in the direction of the books, and obviously a happening place, they’d make some assumptions. I was hoping they’d hurry it up too - with all the fucking time magic the Tick Tock Men were throwing around, everything was getting out of sync, and let me tell you, nothing throws you off your stride like having it make noise a few seconds after you put your foot down.

      Fortunately, they did get there soon. Unfortunately, I didn’t figure on tracking spells in the shape of goddamn dogs. Team Tomorrow pulled up cautiously and let their formation of ten hive-mind dogs sniff around before recklessly engaging, like some sort of intellectual giants. Which meant they started around the building towards us rather than straight on through. Thankfully, Billy Mack let us know that, and I ditched the book into my bolthole as planned.

      This was the nudge needed to get them to engage, apparently. When the dogs started whining in confusion - out of sync with their mouth movements, mind you - as soon as the trail went cold, the mages decided to jump into the fray inside of Blue Sun with both feet, and by both feet, I mean fucktons of explosives. Seeing that, Miguel and I booked it for the car.

      The first round of explosives went off, and there was a time dilation backlash so hard it gave me a goddamn headache. Next thing I knew I was slamming on the brakes as the Tick Tock Men’s cars flew out past me. I followed them for a short ways, then split off, taking the long way home as Billy Mack kept an eye on things through Clairvoyance.

      When things had quieted down and I gave a second thought to anything but getting away, I glanced over at Liz in the passenger seat. “So there’s a ghost ship in town. People who spend the night belowdecks disappear.” They all looked interested, so I gave them the rest of the details Mac gave me.

      “Do we know where the ship’s been, or what it was carrying?” Billy Mack asked.

      I shrugged. “Nope. That’s the research angle.”

      Jack snorted. “Well, at least the docks are far, far away from Blue Sun.” I tapped my nose and pointed at him, nodding.

      “Let’s all get a change of clothes first, then I’ll give Mac a call. Maybe we can even spend the night on a boat.”

      Back at the office, after the aforementioned change of clothes, I made that call. “Hey man. Our business is done, so I was giving you that call I mentioned.”

      “Is it?” There was a hint of suspicion in his voice. “Your business wouldn’t happen to involve a bomb downtown, would it?”

      “Uh, no? That’s a hell of a question.” I frowned.

      He sighed. “I’m on the way to where a bomb blew up, in the Blue Sun building.”

      “Shit.” My eyes widened. “My, uh... a friend works there.”

      “What’s her name?”

      I started pacing. “Esha?”

      He nodded. “I’ll see what I can find out about her. Apparently it didn't level the whole building, but it blew up a chunk of the first floor and blocked off the stairs and the elevators. No major damage elsewhere though.”

      I let out a sigh of relief. “Her office isn't on the first floor, so hopefully that’s alright...”

      “Probably.” He was trying to be reassuring. “It was some kind of gang attack, apparently. There was a report of gunfire, and on the way we got word of the bomb going off.”

      “Well damn. Be careful. That sounds like it could be a hell of a situation you’re walking into.” I raised an eyebrow at the others. “Not a great time to go to the docks then.”

      He chuckled. “No, sorry.”

      I grinned. “No problem. We’ll do some of that research, and maybe get in touch to see about checking it over this evening?”

      “Sure thing.”

      I nodded. “Take care Mac.” I gave the others a wry grin as I hung up. “Well, that might help shore up the cover there.”

      Billy Mack raised an eyebrow. “He is on his way to the bombing then?” I nodded. “Very well. Did you have the name of the captain, by chance?”

      “Evan Stone.”

      He nodded and got down to researching. He hadn’t found anything when my phone rang again. To be fair, it had been maybe twenty minutes. Miranda sounded worried on the other end. “Hey Gabe. So... so, major shit has gone down in the middle of the city - don’t go downtown.”

      I stretched and scratched the back of my neck. “Yeah, so, that was kinda our fault.”

      It didn’t even seem like she heard me. “The Tick Tock Men drew power directly from their Clock Tower. I’m going to have to check it out, see how badly they damaged reality there.”

      Now it was my turn to get panicky. “Miranda, sweetheart, first let me explain... shit, I’d rather not talk about it over the phone. Can I come by for coffee? At least go over there knowing what went down. I was there.”

      “Alright. It’s real serious - I had a glimpse of the Black Clock Tower for a second.”

      “I... don’t know what that is. But it sounds bad. Just... hold on til I get there, alright?” I grabbed my jacket and put it on as I walked towards the door.


      I booked it over to Miranda’s and got there in record time. She had coffee waiting for me there, and I set it aside after a sip. “So, remember that plan to draw Team Tomorrow to Blue Sun?”

      Her eyes widened. “The Tick Tock Men showed up there?”

      I nodded. “Clearly after the book.”

      “Oh dear.” She looked thoughtful. “So that’s what they've been after.”

      “Yeah, I guess. I can't imagine they were the ones who stole them originally, so that makes...” I made a show of counting on my fingers, “one... two... three... four people after them, not including us, Carpenter, and Hazard. Speaking of which, the Ifrit was sent by our Mummy friend who was apparently not very pleased we killed it. She wants the books cause one of them maybe, possibly has something that could be used against her people in it. She wants to destroy it, and whoever’s read it, if it does.” I grinned at her. “Obviously off the table.”

      She nodded distractedly. “Obviously. I imagine Liz will seduce her?”

      I chuckled. “Liz would sure love that.”

      “The Free Council is going to be looking into this.” Miranda frowned slightly. “I don’t know if they saw the Clock Tower or not, since I’m more in tune with the Abyss than they are... but the Tick Tock Men must have gotten pretty desperate, whoever they were fighting.”

      “Angels.” I offered. I described what happened as best I could.

      She nodded. “Right. Yanking themselves backwards through time far enough to avoid that bomb is going to fuck with even them. They can’t shuck that much Paradox into the Abyss.”

      “Yeah, shit was definitely getting sticky for them. Everything was out of sync, even before the bomb.” I took another sip of my coffee.

      “Good news is, they probably think the Angels have the book,” Miranda pointed out.

      I nodded. “That is good news. Along those lines - since Team Tomorrow was tracking by scent, is there a way to fake the scent? Lead them off without risking the books?”

      She thought for a moment. “Maybe. They’ll be much more careful a second time.”

      “Sure, sure. We probably wanna let things die down a little anyway. The books are safe enough in my bolthole, and I think we can convince the professors of that too.” I shrugged. “Especially if Dr. Hazard saw the Clock Tower.”

      My phone rang with a call from Mac. I frowned down at it, and gave Miranda a cautious look as I answered it. “Gabe? Gabe! There’s another me here, shooting at me.”

      Shit. “Leave. Now.”

      “OK, no problem, can do. I’ll move back to the door, carefully.” He was breathing heavily. “The other me seems upset my men won’t shoot me.”

      “Get them out too.” Great. The Tick Tock Men came back, and now the cops have to deal with them. Call waiting beeped at me. I glanced down to check on it. Mac. “As fast as you can, man.” I answered the other call.

      “Gabe! A second me just came into this building and he’s shooting at me.”

      I gave Miranda a confused look. “Get out of the building...”

      He interrupted me. “He’s nearer the door than me. Is there a back way out? You’ve been here before, right?”

      “There is.” I gave him directions through to the back. “Get out quick.” I hung up the phone and rubbed my temples. “So, my friend the cop is at Blue Sun and - well, two of him are at the building - and they both just called me and said the other started shooting them first.”

      She nodded. “There’s probably still Abyssal distortions lingering there. They really did a number to the place.”

      I sighed. “But probably not Tick Tock Men come back?”

      “Probably not, no.” She looked solemn. “But it means the Abyss is bleeding out into the world there.”

      “Couldn’t have happened to a better place. But more important - if both Macs leave the Abyssal distortions, what then? Will one disappear? Will the right one disappear?”

      She looked thoughtful. “Probably. The Abyssal copy probably won't be able to continue existing away from the distortions.”

      I texted Mac, telling him to get as far away from the building as possible, and call me in ten minutes. I looked back over at Miranda. “If you’re going to poke around over there, be careful. The God Machine will fix the Abyssal mess, and it might decide to ‘fix’ anyone who knows about it.”

      “I’m going to see if the Free Council are going to be looking into this, and if they think they can handle it, I’ll have them tell me not to go anywhere near it. How’s that sound?” She gave me a slight smile.

      I smirked at her. “Sounds perfect.” I finished off my coffee and stood to go. “Stay safe. We’ve got a ghost ship to research.”

      “I will.”

      I gave her a kiss for the road and headed back to the office.

      On my way back I got a call from a different policeman. “Ms. Norton?”

      “That’s me.”

      “Mac is on the way to the hospital. We have a confusing situation.” I’d’ve guessed even if he hadn't said it and I hadn’t known what Mac was walking away from. The gee sounded as confused as a baby in a topless bar. “He was shot on the way to his car by someone who got in his car and drove off. The car wrecked, and there’s no sign of anyone in it. And Mac says it was a second him who shot at him and drove off. All I know is inside of Mac’s car smells like an elephant with diarrhea gave birth on your face.”

      That was an image that made me wish I didn’t have a perfect goddamn memory. “Thanks for the heads up. He good for visitors?”

      The cop cleared his throat. “He’s talking and alert. Whoever was shooting at him was not shooting to kill - he was hit upper body, near shoulder.”

      “Good. Thanks again man.”

      After I hung up, I gave Liz a call. “Oh thank god I was getting bored OK what is it.” Her voice was a hair slower than a Chipmunk. She really had been getting bored.

      “How much cocaine have you done?”

      “Two lines that’s all there wasn’t much going on and I figured you know I thought I’d just have a little cocaine you know there wasn’t much going on and I try not to fuck our secretary while she’s working.” I was beginning to get a headache.

      “And that’s appreciated.” I heard Billy Mack in the background.

      I filled them in on what happened with Mac. Liz smiled brightly. “I like to think if I found another me I’d make out with them instead of shooting them.”

      I shook my head. “Probably.”

      Thankfully, Billy Mack took over after that, explaining what he’d found. His research didn’t turn up anything too exciting about the captain or the crew - a couple of misdemeanors but nothing serious - the captain had a thing for Hawaiian whores, apparently - and no gaps in the identity trail. The boat itself had a slightly more interesting history, in the sense that it didn’t really have one. He’d been able to find out that it wasn’t a brand new boat, for all that this was its second trip from the Philippines, but instead that it had been in drydock for going on thirty years. It wasn't the Eleanor Dell back then either, though he couldn’t find out from here what the hell it was called.

      The other exciting thing was what Billy Mack found in police records. They’d gotten through that inventory Mac had mentioned, and figured out that nothing was missing off its manifest, gaps on the shelves be damned. So either it was one of the crew’s personal belongings, or the ship was carrying some off the books merchandise. Just for completionism’s sake, Billy Mack did go over the manifest with a fine toothed comb, but nothing seemed any more significant to him than it did to Mac.

      When he was done, I sighed. “Well, if it was dry docked in the Philippines, I probably won’t find anything, but I might go ahead and head down to the docks, see if I can find an old timer that recognizes the boat. It’ll only work if it was a really big deal, but hey, maybe we’ll get fucking lucky.”

      “I believe I will make a trip to the Philippines and check out the physical records there..” Billy Mack nodded.

      I chuckled. “I do hear they have internet over there.”

      He smiled. “Indeed.”

      Before I went by the dock, I swung by the hospital. Mac seemed alright, if a little worse for the wear. I chucked him on the good shoulder. “Glad to see you’re alright. Sorry I wasn’t more clear about the not shooting thing.”

      “I didn’t shoot, it was the other guy.” Mac looked confused.

      “Sure, but the two of you had the same number, so the message I sent to you also got sent to him. If I’d specified getting away and not shooting...” I shrugged apologetically. “Anyway, I’m glad you’re alright.”

      Mac sighed and shook his head. “We had an investigator come in, just before you actually. Asked folks what happened, listened, turned to me and told me he hated me, then left.”

      I chuckled. “That is a hell of a story. It’s gonna be hard to explain.”

      Mac nodded sadly. “Apparently there’s no saving the inside of my car - it smells like a grenade went off in a grizzly bear’s ass.”

      “I’d heard... something like that.” I kept most of my smile off my face. “Billy Mack’s been looking into your boat situation. I’m going to poke around at the docks, see if the old timers know anything about it. We can be a little helpful while you’re stuck in here.”

      “It’ll probably only be for a day or two.” He looked wryly around the hospital room. “24 hours is mandatory, because of the nature of the incident but I can’t imagine I’ll be here any longer than that.” He chuckled darkly. “They took the bullet and are trying to track down the gun that shot it. I told them it’ll probably be a lot like mine. Hopefully Captain MacLeod will get somewhere.” I gave him a quizzical look. “I think he’s taking over the investigation.”

      I smiled. “Then from what I hear, I’m sure everything’ll get cleared up in no time.” I looked off to the side. “Say, I don’t suppose my name can be kept out of this as much as possible?”

      Mac screwed up his face. “I can’t lie for you, but I won’t volunteer anything. I mean, you weren’t really involved anyway, I just called you cause I knew you’d been in there.”

      “Right.” I bit my lip, looking abashed. “It’s just... my... friend, Esha, who works there... my, uh, girlfriend doesn’t... I don’t really wanna answer her questions as to why I know my way around Blue Sun.”

      Mac winked at me. “Gotcha. I’ll keep your name out of it.”

      “Thanks man.” I gave him an embarrassed smile. “Look, you focus on getting better and when you’re up and about we’ll take a look at that boat.”

      So I was in a much better state of mind as I drove down to the docks and parked in a public parking lot a ways away. As much as I preferred having wheels nearby, given my goal here, I figured hoofing it would let me get better eyes on things.

      As I asked around, folks kept sending me to the same place: Lock’s Stock. It was a dockside bar run by one Tim Locklin, an old sailor whose joints didn’t work quite well enough for the ships but plenty fine to sit around in a bar and tell patrons stories all day. It sounded fucking promising, as good as I could hope for and besides, I needed a goddamn drink.

      The drinks were good, there, though the spread favored rum. I managed to get Lochlin talking and there was no stopping him. I was able to steer him a little, but even going so far as to specifically ask about the Eleanor Dell, he didn’t have anything new for me. He did agree it was probably bad luck from changing its name, but didn’t know what it had been before or why it had been changed.

      So technically it was a swing and a miss, but I can’t complain. I got a new contact, a bunch of sailor stories and a few good drinks out of it. And it’s not as if there was anything better for me to do until I could get on that boat. I called it a win, at least.

      Billy Mack and Jack started making plans for his trip to Manila when Liz drifted back in. She looked between the two of them and perked up. “Do I need to seduce anybody so they don’t find you looking at things you shouldn’t be looking at?”

      “Whoa, easy.” Jack raised his hands.

      Billy Mack raised an eyebrow. “Do you have a way to get to the Philippines?”

      “I’ll charter a private plane and invite someone and renew my mile high membership and...”

      “Breathe,” Jack advised. “It’s not necessary.”

      She collapsed into a chair. “I just want to fuck on a plane!”

      Cecilia poked her head in, “Do you need something?”

      Billy Mack stood up. “I’ll be back tomorrow, if not this evening.”

      “Alright.” Jack nodded to him as he left for the lab.

      Billy Mack hit our suborned Infrastructure before he headed out. He’d already poked around and found a good enough, concealed enough IP address somewhere in Manila. Just his luck, there was an old woman poking around in the server room where he materialized. Her shrieks were beginning to gather a crowd when Billy Mack hit her with a whammy that made her unable to communicate, or understand anyone communicating with her.

      While everyone was fucking distracted trying to figure out what the hell was going on with her, he slipped away and using his phone to get direction, made his way to the library and its microfiche machines to get to work. It didn’t take him too long, despite being shaken by his close brush with discovery.

      He had better luck than me. The ship used to be called The Gold Arrow, one of three owned by a Hawaiian entertainer named Darius Jones,a disco artist who was big in Thailand. He used it for pleasure cruises and the last time he went out in it, back in July of ‘85, he took along two of his girlfriends. Somewhere along the way, one of them disappeared from belowdecks without a trace. Sounded familiar to Billy Mack. The investigation found no sign of foul play and assumed she’d fallen in the drink, despite no one having seen or heard anything like that. The boat had gotten drydocked because of bad memories, and after all, the gee had two more fucking boats...

      Billy Mack didn’t find anything damning about the girlfriends. One of them was Philippino - that one disappeared on the boat. The other was Hawaiian. They were both groupies, and she eventually moved on, settled down, and passed away not too long ago, of natural causes. Darius himself was still kicking around Hawaii, living off the proceeds of the golf course that his Thai disco money bought him.

      He didn’t spend too much time there before making his way back home, with much less drama arriving at our end. I was back by then, so we compared notes. Once we’d both shared - and Jack showed us what he’d gathered in preparation of forging a copy of one of the University books - Billy Mack frowned. “It does seem the boat has a history of people disappearing from below decks, but that doesn’t explain the crew. Unless perhaps they abandoned the ship after too many of them disappeared.”

      “That’s possible.” Liz nodded. “After the second or third one disappeared, they may have decided it was time to get the fuck out of there.” Thankfully, she seemed to have found something other than cocaine to do in her downtime.

      “It is odd that they didn’t communicate anything like that over the radio however.” Billy Mack looked thoughtful. “We really need to read the autopsy report on the captain, so I suppose we shall have to wait for Mac’s recovery. I am quite curious as to his cause of death.”

      I nodded. “Yeah. I think our next step is wait for Mac, get that autopsy report and look over the damn boat ourselves.”

      Liz smiled. “Brilliant. Well, I will be in Olympia tonight, so don’t do anything that you’ll need me for.”

      “I wasn’t planning on it.” Billy Mack smiled back. “I was thinking of going to visit Shelley.”

      “And Greg needs to write some markers, I think.” I tipped my hat to them, and headed out into the night.

      End Session LXVIII

      Oh lets see…

      Billy Mack’s player actually miscalled an odd even die roll, he had to get one of two dice correct and did not. So he got spotted when he showed up.

      The battle between the Angels/Seers of the Throne/Cult of the Doomsday Clock was fun. As was the fallout. Jack dropped a lot of powers like Never Here and similar in his escape. He got the Embeds badge for the session, also using Read Hostility both when out with Liz to see Zelda and at Blue Sun.

      Okay well I think that covers it. No game this week due to vacation. But comments and questions are welcome

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      [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]


      • Just when they get their cases done, there are more. Almost like they were in a game or something.

        Session LXIX

        Speed Demon’s Monologues

        We hadn’t been at the agency long the next day before Liz heaved a long suffering sigh and looked at Billy Mack with a pout. “Can’t you hack the hospital thing and say Mac has to go home in an hour?” She looked at me. “He’s OK, right?”

        I rolled my eyes. “He’s fine.”

        Billy Mack shrugged and started working at the computer. Kayla was tapping her chin. After a moment she turned to me. “So how many lip rings do you think is excessive? Is three OK? I was thinking three to match my three ear piercings.”

        “Whatever the hell you’re feeling, doll.” I shrugged.

        “I was thinking the opposite side, to sorta balance. Liz says she doesn’t care as long as I don’t get rid of my tongue piercing,” she continued.

        Liz nodded goddamn matter of factly. “I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them.”

        Kayla gave her a look. “Technically, hun, you made that rule.” Liz smiled sweetly. Kayla looked at Billy Mack. “Can you text Vivian and ask her?”

        Billy Mack gave her a strange look over his computer screen, and thought for a minute. “I believe that three on the opposite side would give you symmetry. And Vivian does not believe in excessive.” He frowned down at his computer. “Mac has a meeting with a specialist this afternoon. A Dr. Namon Darcy. Hold on a minute...” I leaned back in my seat, watching him. “He deals with individuals who have witnessed particularly traumatizing incidents. A cleanup agent of some form then. No indication of whose cleaner he is, but interrupting it might arouse suspicions.”

        “I can wait if need be,” Liz allowed magnanimously. “I can hang around here and do a line off Kayla’s ass.”

        “No you can’t.” Kayla responded quickly.

        “As for who, God Machine or mages would be my fucking guess.” I tossed a stress ball from one hand to the other, ignoring Liz. “I don’t think there’s a risk in him being debriefed - all Mac knows is that I’m a PI who specializes in weird shit, and both those factions know that.”

        “They’ve already got the police captain interested in his case. Wouldn’t another God Machine agent be redundant?” Liz asked.

        Billy Mack shrugged. “A Guardian calling in a Messenger in this situation would only be reasonable.” He looked between us. “So we will be waiting?” I nodded. “In the meantime, I believe this doctor is worth knowing about.”

        After a little bit, just after Kayla left, Cecilia stopped by my office, letting me know there was a client. I had her send the dame up and got her name, Delores Sandoval. When she got there, I shook the hand she offered and gestured towards a seat. She took it. “I need to talk to you about some very delicate matters, in which I am wanting to not involve the police in any way. If you cannot do this, I understand and I will walk away, having not met.” Her Spanish accent was thick and continental - she was a long way from home.

        “That’s what the private’s for, doll. A lot of folks that come here don’t want to deal with the public investigators, for one reason or another.” I walked a coin across my knuckles.

        “Alright.” She took a deep breath. “I was brought here for a specific special assignment, one of six people who were part of a...” She paused, clearly searching for a delicate turn of phrase and eventually giving it up for a fucking bad cause, “we steal things for very rich clients. I am a safecracker. We arrived a few days ago and have not met with our client yet. They are not answering their phone, and neither are my 5 teammates. I know where 3 of them are staying, and none of them are in their hotel rooms.” She took a deep breath. “There was a lot of blood in the doorway of my hotel room when I woke up. No body, but a lot of blood. I am not a killer, nor am I experienced in such things, but I think with that amount of blood... whoever was bleeding must be dead.” She looked away. “It is just a job, but... some of them are friends. I slept with one of them, the night before last. And now, I feel very alone. A contact in the area said you were discreet. I do not know what it is best to do. I... if you suggest I go back to Valencia, I will.”

        I gave her a smile. “I’d say go back to Valencia and let us handle things here, but something like that - who knows how far they’d go to find you. Let’s find so more info before we head down that route. And don’t worry, we’ll find your friends.” I winked at her. “And the other two, no extra charge.”

        She gave me a brief smile. “I don’t know who it was precisely who hired me. He gives an alias, and the funds are transferred discretely. I could call in some favors, try and find out who it is...?”

        “Before you burn any bridges and use resources you can’t get back -” I stood up and gestured towards the lab Billy Mack was using. We wandered over that way. “Billy Mack, we’ve got a case, and need some of your wizardry.” I gave him the rundown on the overall situation of what she’d told me. “Think you can wrinkle out an actual person behind the mask?”

        Billy Mack nodded and talked to the client for a bit, getting further details, while I popped my eyes on. They weren’t working too hot that day, but I was able to suss out that she was a ghoul, and none of her teammates were her domitor. I listened in a bit to see if there were some memories I ought take a look at, since nothing in her surface thoughts was out of the ordinary. From the sound of things, she wasn’t blood bound to anyone, so she had some kind of weird ghoul arrangement. “Security measures? I stayed in a really nice hotel. I guess maybe there might be camera footage, but I haven’t checked. I came straight here.”

        “I merely asked as it was likely that you were targeted as well, and wondered what it might have been that resulted in a different outcome at your room.” Billy Mack smiled.

        I leaned against the doorway leading out of the lab. “So, how many others on your team were ghouls? Or otherwise supernatural?”

        She blinked a few times, frowning. “I don’t like the word ghoul.”

        “Sure thing. What’s your pleasure?” I raised an eyebrow.

        “I like blood powered mercenary. Kindred blood is often something I am paid, at least in part, in.”

        I smiled. “Absolutely. So, were any of the others blood powered or otherwise supernatural?”

        She nodded. “Two. The others... not that I know of, but we’re not the sharing sort. Marco and I had the same domitor.”

        “Alright. With that out on the table - anything you feel more comfortable sharing about any protections that might have been up last night?” I spun a pencil in my fingers.

        “No,” she answered quickly. “I don’t have any blood magic. I have improved senses and I’m good at reading people, and guess correctly a lot. I’m also pretty damn fast if I absolutely have to be and I’m willing to burn the blood in me.” She gave me a guarded look. “To the best of my knowledge, this doesn’t have anything to do with my abilities.”

        I nodded in agreement. “Since not all of you are, it seems unlikely the team was targeted for being blood powered without a domitor, or something like that.” I looked to Billy Mack. “All set up?” He nodded. “Let’s head to your room first then.”

        Billy Mack agreed. “Clearly something happened differently at your room. We should definitely look it over carefully.”

        Our client nodded, frowning. “The only thing I can think of that was significantly different from what the others did, though I don’t see anyway it would affect how I was protected... I made a contact with another extralegal professional named Evita, from South America. We talked awhile and exchanged contact information. She didn’t know where I was staying though. None of the others talked to her however, so it is a difference.”

        The hotel she was staying in was a really nice one. As we walked up, I gave Liz a look. “Think you can talk the security guard into giving little old you some security footage? Our client’s being followed, you see, no cause to go looking around in her room, just wants to see if some fucker’s been around. I could probably talk them around to, but it’ll be easier for you.”

        “And I’m not as good at finding clues as you are.” She smiled and nodded, breaking off to head towards security as we went up to her room.

        Delores let us in and I held a hand out to stop her going in before Jack got a look around with Synthesis. The first thing, that was obvious to everyone, was that there was no blood to be seen at all. Jack frowned. “The blood all disappeared at once. Someone was here at the time, but only one someone.”

        Delores gave me a look. “So, Valencia?”

        “At least another hotel room.” I gave her a smile and sent a text to Liz, asking her to get the footage from the time Delores had left to now as well.

        “Was this to protect me, or them coming back for me?” she asked, looking around goddamn nervously.

        “Not enough information, unfortunately. It would be whoever protected you - they would know that it needed cleaning. It’d be an odd thing to do for the person who was going after you, at least since you weren’t grabbed and there was nothing to cover up.” I gave Jack a significant look.

        He kept looking around. “So, last night... a pair of someones showed up. The one in the front disappeared suddenly in a spray of blood, and the body never hit the floor. The other person left carrying something heavy.”

        We started looking around more mundanely. Liz came up eventually with a memory stick. “Nothing on last night. The camera was having some kind of problem. There was an image of someone entering your room earlier today. She had a keycard.”

        “Presumably not a member of hotel staff?” Billy Mack asked.

        “Her skirt was a little short for that.” Liz smirked.

        There wasn’t much to find - no scuffling, nothing from a fight. There was no trace that there had ever been blood, so I couldn’t check the fucking splatter or anything. We gave it up for a lost goddamn cause after not too long, and headed onto the next hotel room, the one for Marco. There was clearly a hierarchy as far as who she really cared about went, and Marco was definitely on top. I guess being given your first taste of Kindred blood by the same fanger made for good bonds. Or he was just that good in bed.

        I let Delores let us in, so as not to give away too much of what I could do. Jack got first look again, while Liz made another visit to security. Jack paced for a moment, then paused. “The hell?” We waited while he kept going. “A single individual walked in, the mirrors fogging up as it passed by. They jerked someone out of bed, and that someone ceased to exist in this plane of reality, as far as I could tell. A single person left, the mirrors fogging up again behind them.”

        Billy Mack frowned. “Effects like that tend to come with power. Or a Mage with Paradox.”

        “You interrupted me before the best part - it happened simultaneously with what happened at Delores’ room.”

        “We didn’t even know where all of us were.” Delores looked up from messing with Marco’s phone.

        I went looking around for hidden objects, seeing as the person who hid them wasn’t around to object. All I found was a gun and weed stash, which Jack insisted we take for safekeeping. To be fair, if housekeeping found it, it would make the whole deal make a much bigger splash. Liz came back as I was stashing it. “Anything good?” I asked her.

        “The cameras went out here as well. But the gentleman trying to get into my drawers was much more with it here - he says that to turn them off like that, it would have to be hacked from the outside. It should say what terminal entered the commands, and none was listed.”

        “Great. Super coordinated attackers with technology and magic.” I ran my fingers through my hair.

        We stopped by the other two that Delores knew about, mostly just to check and see how consistent it was. Jack reported the same deal with the abductions, though no fogged mirrors. One room did have wet footprints though. All of them had taken place within 30 seconds of each other, give or take a second.

        In one room, Gillarmo’s, I found a lead liner box containing 3 radioactive pellets, designed to be hidden so it could slowly give some poor fuck radiation poisoning. The box was designed to hold four. That one was a keeper, apparently. Lousy in bed too, according to Delores. She really didn’t have a rule about sleeping with coworkers. Or else she got off on breaking rules.

        In Hannah’s room, the one with the femme fatale who had a virtually photographic memory, was really good at reading lips and could make men do anything, I found a small dagger with a poison reservoir and a female condom specially designed to rip the dick off any man who stuck it in. Hell of a way to kill a man. Poison can be nasty.

        After getting our good looks in, we headed back to the office. Delores filled us in on the others as we drove. “Lucian is one. He’s called the Changeling, and I’ve heard of supernatural people called that, but I don’t think if he’s literally one. Can they look like different people?” She looked over at Billy Mack.

        “Yep,” I answered.

        “Oh. Then maybe he is a Changeling.” She shrugged. “No two times you ever see him does he look like the same person. Castro is the last one on this team. He’s sorta our escape guy. He’s got weapons, but a lot of what he has are gas type things, he has some devices that let him short out circuits, the kinda things that cover getaways. He’s crazy as fuck, but good in bed.” She looked out the window. “Honest opinion - are these people alive or dead?”

        Jack frowned. “There’s a lot of things they could be, including things neither alive nor dead. So we can’t really say.”

        “But this was a hit, probably? We were lured down here?”

        “A hit or a collection,” Billy Mack offered. “I have certain theories about that.”

        Jack looked unconvinced. “That’s one of the things I wanted to talk to you about out of earshot. What have you stolen recently?”

        She frowned in thought. “We stole some jewelry in Florida, but we don’t have it - we turned it over to our client.”

        “Was it the same team?” Billy Mack raised an eyebrow.

        She shook her head. “No. It was Marco, Hannah, and I.”

        Jack caught hold of that. “Have you ever worked with the same team?”

        “No,” she answered quickly. “Wait, maybe? I don’t know. I work with a lot of people.” We cut down on the chatter as we walked into the office, passing by the bell ringer. “Not that I can think of for certain.” I was about to pop my eyes and help her check when she snapped her fingers. “Yes, in the Czech Republic. Some records from some scientists that got in trouble with the communists during the Prague Spring. Weapon prototype blueprints. It was more of a salvage really.”

        “Do you know who the client was?” Jack asked.

        “A German politician, Christian Democrats party. I shouldn’t be telling you that, but...” She shrugged. “It wasn't anyone important. I don’t even know if he’s still serving.”

        I went ahead and fired up the mind reading anyway, since her details were fuzzy. The blueprints were largely about small arms, some concealable tanks. She didn’t give them a good look, but Hannah was fucking memorizing them, and Lucian took pictures. At least I assume Richard Nixon was actually Lucian.

        Continuing to pry, I found another memory of the team in Japan, more recent than the Prague job, about 2 or 3 years ago. This time David goddamn Hasselhoff was with them. I disliked Lucian more every time he came up. They were stealing a microchip, without a lot of thought about what was on it. I did get confirmation that Hannah knew how to use that dagger - she made short work of the scientist they came upon in the lab they were stealing from.

        They’d continued talking and had moved on to how they’d been found. “It seems likely that you are being found by supernatural means. You are all experienced in your clandestine business, after all,” Billy Mack pointed out.

        “Gillarmo does have a transmitter he uses to check for tracking signals...” She took a deep breath. “Lucian might have sold us out, I guess. Nobody really ever knows what he’s thinking.”

        Billy Mack frowned. “Would he have known where all your rooms are?”

        “I don’t think so but... Lucian can look like anyone!” Her voice broke. She took a moment to get under control. “I mean, he’s done nothing to make me think that, but only we and our employer know we’re even here. Somebody could have blabbed. I know Marco and I didn’t. I don’t think Hannah has friends, just victims.”

        I tapped on the desk. “If it was a double cross, it was Lucian or Castro. Unless one of the other three was thinking ahead enough to say that they should be tossed too, in case anyone came looking.”

        She nodded, frowning. “My other question is, what happened in my room?”

        “Someone defended you. Finding them could be important.” I leaned back in my chair.

        “The only contact I have here is Evita. I have a number for her...”

        I raised an eyebrow. “If she’d be willing to talk to us, that’d be fucking swell.”

        Billy Mack nodded. “At the very least, if she could confirm it was in fact her. As far as other steps, Gabe, if you wanted to talk to Drake, and Jack, you could call Crusher?”

        I chuckled. “Already there. Was gonna call Heroin though. It’s her side of the law, after all.”

        When Delores stepped aside to try and get in touch with Evita, we got to work ourselves. Our best bet was that either a group of goddamn powerful Changelings had it out for these guys, in which case one of them had gone missing and that makes waves, or a Gentry was looking to build the perfect heist team, in which case, it should make waves. Heroin agreed to grab coffee in about an hour. Crusher and Rosanna agreed to talk with Jack over dinner at Kiki’s. Evita, as it turned out, didn’t want to come to Delores, so they compromised and decided to meet at Kiki’s as well.

        Before we settled in to wait for our feelers to come into play - and after Billy Mack headed out for the hospital to get eyes on Dr. Namon Darcy - we set Delores up in the Infrastructure hallway, with Liz for company. “It’s a weird place to stick guests, but there’s some baffling magic on it, so it might make it harder for whoever it is to find you. Besides, Liz’ll be there, and she can make a gas station bathroom seem inviting.”

        Delores raised an eyebrow. “Do you say that about all the girls?” I waggled my eyebrows at her.

        It hadn’t been too long before Cecilia found me in my office. “There was a man who came in looking for ‘a detective’. I asked which one, but I can’t remember what he said. When I went to call you, he disappeared. I didn’t hear him leave.”

        “Shit.” She looked at me questioningly. “Thanks Cecilia. Stay alert and be careful.” I got up and knocked on Jack’s door. “We’ve got an intruder.”

        “What?!” He jerked to his feet.

        I shrugged and started searching the place. He joined me. “Nondescript man, snuck back while Cecilia was leaving to call for us.”

        We couldn’t find any trace of anyone until a rush of cold air from behind me warned me to duck to the side. A tall, all white, slender man lunged just past me, his goddamn overly long arms and fingers reaching to grab me, getting nothing but air. His skull-like head was plain and featureless, a mask of skin pulled too taut around it. Having missed me, he turned on Jack, this time not missing, and Jack was picked up and tossed through a doorway, disappearing as soon as he crossed the threshold.

        I focused on getting out of the way, a note of panic as I called out, “Liz!” She showed up quickly, her golden spider limbs clicking on our floor. He tried for me again and I rolled away. Thankfully, Clytemnestra managed to web him up next thing. He immediately began screeching, with some kind of alert pattern to it. I seized on the opportunity and tweaked reality so that whatever sounds it made would be true answers to my questions. “Who sent you?”

        He stopped screeching. “The tattooed man in a suit.” He frowned, and stopped making noise.

        Before I had a chance to ask another question, Jack hopped out of a hole torn into reality. I held a hand up before he shut it down. “That someplace you know how to get to easily?”

        “It’s some weird specific Shadow realm.” He shuddered.

        “You and Liz think you could check it out? That’s probably where our client’s team is,” I pointed out.

        “What about this guy?” Jack indicated the spirit. He pulled his gun and pointed it at him. “Why did you come for us?” The spirit just stared.

        Clytemnestra looked eager. “Are we killing him?”

        I rolled my eyes. “Bon apetit.”

        After a quick snack, the two hopped back through the portal. I headed back to the Infrastructure hallway, knocking and announcing myself before heading in, considering Liz had left her a pistol. She looked at me with wide eyes. “What was that noise?”

        “The thing that kidnapped your friends.” I started checking my gun.

        “Does it know where Marco is?” She moved forward eagerly.

        “It didn’t answer too many questions. It was hired by a tattooed man in a suit. We did get a lead on where it’s from - that’s where the other two are.” Something occurred to me and I stuck my head out the hallway. “Cecilia?” I called. When I heard an answer, I continued. “We’re closed for the day.”

        On the other side of the portal, everything was white and completely obscured. Vague mutterings came from every direction. As soon as they walked through, Clytemnestra cried out and covered her eyes. Jack winced. “Yeah, sorry, I wasn’t thinking. So the white darkness really is bright, huh?”

        She shot him a look. “Yeah.” She looked around, squinting and straining. “Something is messing with how sound travels. I might could find someone by scent though.”

        Jack nodded and they started off, Clytemnestra in the lead. After not too long, they ran into a naked Asian woman. “Are you alright?”

        “No!” she answered fucking brightly.

        “Are you Hannah?” Jack asked, one eyebrow raised. She nodded. “Delores sent us. Have you run into anyone else?”

        She shook her head. “I can hear them, but I haven’t seen anyone.” She shot Clytemnestra a glance. “What’s her deal? I mean, I’m cool with pretty much whatever you say, but...”

        Jack smiled. “She’s with me, and we’re going to get you out of here.”

        “There’s things.” She gave him a goddamn significant look. “With scythe arms. They look like the thing that grabbed me, but with scythe arms.”

        “Noted. They tried to grab me, and had a bad day.” Jack offered her an arm. “Let’s get moving.”

        She nodded insistently. “The ones that grab have hands, but the ones here have scythe arms.”

        Jack jerked a thumb towards Clytemnestra. “She ate the one with hands. We’ll be alright. But we need to get moving.” As they were walking, following Clytemnestra again, Jack turned to Hannah. “Are you a ghoul?”

        “I don’t know what that means.”

        “Do you do anything special, anything I should keep in mind for planning purposes?” he clarified.

        She smirked. “I do plenty of special things honey.”

        Jack rolled his eyes. “I’m not fucking you right now. I meant in terms of a fight.”

        “I’m not a fighter. And I’m unarmed.” She raised an eyebrow at him. “We don’t all know kung fu.”

        “She’s not armed either.” Jack glanced towards Clytemnestra.

        Clytemnestra was tense, her nose in the air. “Incoming.”

        That was all the warning they had before another one of the slender spirits jumped them, this one with long scythe arms. Jack pointed his gun at it. “So, what deal are we making, for me to fire?” it asked him.

        Jack growled at him and holstered it. The spirit apparently took that to mean Jack wasn’t a threat, or just thought that the giant golden spider was a bigger one anyway, and cut deep into Clytemnestra’s side. She held hand to the wound as she shot the thing with webs, fixing it in place. Jack took advantage of the opportunity to hit it under the chin, knocking it out and causing it to discorporate.

        As they walked to the next human scent, Jack drew his gun again. “What the fuck do you mean, what deal are we making?”

        “Well, I’ve just been working for you this whole time, and I thought...”

        “Oh, I’ll make a deal with you. I will not rip you to shreds and wear you as a fucking hat, and you’ll fire next time I pull the goddamn trigger. How about that?” Jack glared daggers at it.

        “Al-alright. Sure thing boss.”

        The next person they found was a tall, attractive blonde woman in bunny pajamas. “Oh gosh, I was so frightened!”

        Jack looked unconvinced. “Lucian, I presume?” Lucian sighed. “Dolores sent us, so come with us if you want to live.”

        “She managed to not get grabbed, huh? Not suspicious...” Lucian tapped their chin.

        “It’s more complicated, and she did hire us to rescue you. Seen anything useful?” Jack asked.

        “Things with scythe arms?” they suggested before getting distracted by Hannah. “Nice rack.” Lucian’s breasts grew until they were slightly bigger than Hannah’s. She rolled her eyes.

        Jack raised an eyebrow, noticing the wintery mantle Lucian had for the first time. “So you are a Changeling. Can you fight at all, or do you just look pretty?”

        He looked put out. “I can fight.” Suddenly he looked like Schwarzenegger from the Predator movies, still in bunny pajamas.

        “Good. She’s in rough shape and there’s still three of you to find.”

        As they approached the next human, a tall Italian looking guy, Liz quietly let them know that 3 of the scythe spirits were following them. Jack put a hand out. “Which one are you? Delores sent us.”

        “Gillarmo, the hacker?” He looked between the group members, moving to keep pace.

        “Four,” Liz counted, looking around. “Five of them. Getting closer.”

        They moved quickly, weaving around more than they had been to avoid the encroaching spirits. Next they found a naked man. Jack hurried him up and along. “Marco, or Castro?”

        He looked fucking confused. “Marco.”

        “Great. Your girlfriend sent us. Need to keep moving.”

        Castro was in his boxers. By the time they reached him, a full dozen spirits were surrounding them. Jack didn’t even bother explaining anything before ripping open a gate and gesturing everyone through. They managed to all get through before the spirits closed on them. As soon as they were in, Jack shut the gate down.

        He took a deep breath and turned to the group. “Hi everyone. Have a seat, make yourselves comfortable. I don’t think we have enough clothes, but we’ll work on it. We’ve got coffee, and almost certainly whiskey.” Jack whistled for me and Delores.

        I’d already sent Billy Mack a text letting him know that we were attacked and that Jack and Liz had made an intentional trek to the Shadow. When I got out into the conference room, I sent him another text asking him to pick up clothes for 2 men and a woman of the appropriate sizes. To be fair, Hannah didn’t really seem to care about her state of undress. Marco was a little self conscious, but Delores gave him her jacket, which seemed to help.

        Cecilia popped her head around the corner. “Two men have tried to open the door. I don’t really remember what they looked like, but they jiggled the door, and walked on.”

        I looked over at Clytemnestra. “You think aliens could abduct one? We could use someone to talk to.”

        “I’m not in great shape.” She did look a little woozy. I shrugged. Odds are it would’ve been tough to get anything out of them anyway.

        “Alright folks.” I turned to the heist team. “These fuckheads have been sent after you by the tattooed man in the suit. Does that...?” I was interrupted by the sound of glass shattering. I sighed. “Go get in the hallway.” They did so, quickly.

        As soon as they were gone, Jack and I shifted fully into Demon form. I reinforced my paneling and fired up the plasma drive. Thinking quick, I also waxed up my motorcycle chassis. Anything to make it harder for them to get a good grip on me.

        We moved towards the glass breaking sound to find 2 of the slender spirits climbing through a window, and another waiting its turn outside. That one didn’t wait long, as a pale woman with dark eyes and a dark bob reached out as she walked by and brushed a hand along its back, causing it to turn as pink as a lobster in boiling water, and just as hot.

        The things inside moved fucking quick, immediately grabbing Clytemnestra and tossing her into the Shadow. Quietus and I took aim. Quietus’ shot went wild, but while the fucker was dodging him, he dodged just into my bullet. He lurched at me, but his long arms slid off my waxed chassis.

        The one who’d grabbed Clytemnestra went for Quietus, but missed as well, thrown off somewhat when his friend in the window spewed blood from every orifice. It appeared we’d found Delores’ mystery defender. I wonder if we could find the cleaner too.

        Quietus seemed to come to something of a decision, and flipped the other spirit the bird using his blade hand. He also started moving a little slower, baiting them into grabbing him and tossing him after Clytemnestra. I kept trying to shoot, knowing I’d have to play a merry game with the fuckers once Quietus was gone.

        They did manage to get the poor fuck, shocking the hell out of themselves in the process. Quietus thought he could sense Clytemnestra skittering towards him as fast as she could. He had more immediate concerns, as a scythe handed monster jumped him. He managed to get out of the way, and then Clytemnestra was there with a spinneret full of webbing just for the spirit. It got one more swing off before it was affixed in place, but Quietus pulled some fancy maneuvers to get out of the way. Once he was stuck, Quietus skewered him and Clytemnestra sucked out his Essence.

        I managed to keep dodging around the spirits on our side, firing off potshots here and there. Our mystery woman joined in, firing from the window, but was having about as much luck as I did until one of them stumbled too close to the window and she reached out. The asshole went pink like his friend, and moments later exploded into a cloud of blood, leaving bruises and a desiccated corpse on the ground.

        Her blood exploding power seemed to be touch based, so I ducked around by the window, trying to lure the last one close. It took the bait and the dame made her grab. I moved out of the way of the explosion, and when I moved back to the window she was gone. A moment later, another unearthly scream came from the other side of our building, followed by a wet tearing sound.

        Quietus and Clytemnestra came out his rip in reality, and he closed it quickly. Neither of them look worse for the wear. “Jesus fuck!” Jack looked around the room.

        I wiped gore off my face. “That’s a hell of a power.” I shifted back into Gabe and hung my jacket on a door jam, and went looking for something to wipe it off with. I found a handful of fast food napkins and did the best I could. I walked into the Infrastructure closet, still wiping my face off, ignoring Mr. Rogers who had been talking calmly to everyone. “So, five more of them are dead, which, combined with the one from last night, means one for each of you.” I looked at Delores and described the mystery woman. “Would that be Evita?” She nodded. “Definitely her that helped you out last night. Question answered. If she still agrees to meet with you at Kiki’s, you might ask her who her cleaner is.” I looked down at my bloody hand that was just moving the red mist around at that point. “I need a shower.” I walked back out, meeting Billy Mack on my way to the door. He looked me over curiously, putting his key back in his pocket. “Oh. Billy Mack. The naked people are in the hidden closet.” I nodded and kept going towards the bathroom.

        Billy Mack joined the others in the Infrastructure closet. “Ah. Hello. I believe this is for you,” he handed a bag to Hannah, “and this one is for you,” he gave Marco his, “and this one is for you.” The last one was to Castro.

        Hannah took the bag and saluted him with it. “Thanks. If you ever need a throat slit, just let me know.”

        “I will keep that in mind.” Billy Mack smiled.

        After a quick wash in the sink, I went back into fill Billy Mack in on everything, and Jack and Liz on what they’d missed while they were in the Shadow. “So what we’ve got is a tattooed man in a suit and a powerful need for a cleaner.”

        “I know one of those!” Jack offered. “I’ll call a guy.”

        “And a tattooed man in a suit is more than what we knew before,” Billy Mack pointed out.

        I sent Carpenter a text asking to meet when he was out of exams, then sighed. “I really do need that shower. Don’t fight too many spirits while I’m gone.”

        After a quick shower, I called the agency. “Alright, I feel much better. Anything I need to know before I go talk to Heroin? The doctor fucker check out?”

        “There was no indication of Aetheric activity, so he is likely not an Angel. He was, however, an Indian man with blue eyes.” Billy Mack sounded thoughtful.

        “So probably Blue Sun made. Esha has blue eyes, now.” I tapped the steering wheel. “Fair enough. It’s one of the factions we expected.”

        Billy Mack nodded. “Indeed. Miguel’s team is on its way to clean the office, and we have stashed the bodies out of the way.”

        “Great. I’ll be talking to Carpenter in a few hours, probably. Exams and all.” I stretched. “Alright. The not fighting too many spirits rule is still in effect. I’ll be back by the office after coffee.”

        End Session LXIX

        Both fun and exciting!

        Kilroy used his Embed to cause Clytemnestra to heal after a nap (he got an exceptional success). Quietus was using the Rip the Gates Exploit a lot. Poor Kilroy had back luck with his timing…his absence was not deliberate, but based on tracking the Spirits’ movement.

        The Spirits were, well, Spirits. Kilroy figured out Evita was a probably Blood Bather, and Lucian a Winter Mirrorskin Darkling (with a warped sense of humor). Marco and Delores were Ghouls. If Gillarmo, Castro, or Hannah are supernatural they were not pinged yet, but a lot going on.

        That female anti-rape condom is real. Google with care.

        I think that covers everything, but as always Comments and Questions are welcome. Next time maybe back to existing cases.
        Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 07-01-2017, 04:44 PM.

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        [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]


        • Originally posted by Baroness Nerak View Post
          Ah, my weekly fix.

          So, was Quietus arguing with his gun in the Shadow for a bit? If so, you might want to edit that section for clarity - the pronoun usage made it hard to understand who was talking to who.

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


          • I take it the Infrastructure closet is the subborned Infrastructure that Kilroy had to go to previously, when he had been discovered by Angels and given an out? Otherwise, I'm not sure when that was made/came up previously. It's distinctly not a bolthole, I know that much.

            Also, what has the group done for gadgets? I've been thinking about making some for a group I'm in for a long time, and I want to have a good comparison to look in on.
            Last edited by Taidragon; 07-01-2017, 11:43 PM.


            • Vent0: Noted.

              Taidragon: it's a mix of stuff they uprooted in the University and the bit they took from the Theater, IIRC. They currently have one gadget, an extra clutch in the special souped up car that activated Rip the Gates to go to the Underworld. Quietus's player has had a lot of ideas for Gadgets but that is the only one so far.
              Last edited by Baroness Nerak; 07-04-2017, 04:49 AM.

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              [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 gang is all back together. Just what the hell is up with Terry?

                Session LXX

                Speed Demon’s Monologues

                I slid into a seat opposite Heroin at the not-a-fucking-creepy-Changeling coffee shop she’d suggested. She smiled over at me. “Been awhile - months, in lesbian time.”

                I chuckled, and rolled my eyes. “It has been a few days. Crazy ones, lemme tell you.”

                “Oh?” She looked concerned. “Is everything OK? Do you need me to hurt someone for you? Do you want me to hurt someone for you?” She waggled her eyebrows.

                “Nah, unless you know the tattooed man in a suit.” I topped my coffee off with some whiskey and offered it to Heroin.

                She gave me a sideways look and accepted. “I know two guys who might qualify... what do you want with him?”

                “So, I originally called because some fucker tried to snatch a whole crew of people in the middle of the night. One didn’t get snatched, and wants the rest back.” I made a face. “The snatching was done in an incredibly well organized, obviously supernatural way, and the people got tossed through a doorway out of this plane of existence.”

                “The Hedge?” She frowned.

                I took a sip of my coffee. “We’d thought maybe so. It seemed the most likely. But turns out, it was spirits. So unless the Gentry make a habit of using them, and can get into and out of some kind of goddamn pocket spirit realm, probably a false alarm.”

                She shook her head. “I don’t think so. It’s not my area of expertise though. I hate to let you down.”

                “Not a problem, doll. Like I said, I didn’t know it was spirits when I called. We managed to kill the six after them, next comes the easy part.” I grinned at her, tapping my mug.

                “You might be able to get a reward from the Autumn Court for any bodies. I mean, they won’t throw you a party or anything...” She shrugged.

                I nodded thoughtfully. “Might mend some bridges though. Thanks for the heads up - I wouldn’t have thought of that.”

                I turned the conversation to lighter subjects after that. No point in dwelling on stuff neither of us knew much about. She did ask if I wanted to hook up again, and we made tentative plans for Thursday. “Barring getting chased by Slendermen, or getting lost in a ghost ship.” I grinned.

                “Ghost ship? That one that showed up yesterday?” I nodded at her. “Word is a cop is missing.” I nodded again. “The Autumn Court is poking around too - they tend to when people go missing. But they’ll probably leave it alone if they don’t find any evidence of Hedge Gates.” She frowned. “Call me before and after?”

                “Sure thing, doll.” I winked at her.

                “And don’t go into any Hedge mazes.”

                “Oh hell no.” I shook my head quickly. “That place is scary.”

                After a bit more chatting, she gave me a kiss good bye, and a flirtatious wink over her shoulder. I watched her walk away and hop on that motorcycle of hers - god bless window fronted coffee shops - then called Billy Mack. “Hey. Anything exciting happened?”

                Back at the office, Terry had wandered in not too long after I’d left to find Miguel cleaning up the crime scene, discussing details of the job with Billy Mack. He popped a chip in his mouth. “So, undead pigmen?”

                “No.” Billy Mack gave him a straight answer. “Slenderman spirits. At least that’s what I’ve been told, I was not here.”

                Miguel had a more goddamn appropriate response, staring at him in confusion. “Undead pigmen?”

                Terry nodded. “These were ambulatory.”

                Billy Mack raised an eyebrow in appreciation. “So, active, completed undead pigmen. Interesting.” He gave Terry a look. “What about them?”

                “They’re running a farm?” Terry suggested, shrugging.

                “I believe I read a book about that once.” Billy Mack cracked a slight smile.

                Terry nodded. “Kyle was working there. There was kinda a revolt. They’re still there. I mean, the pigs are loose but...” He shrugged again. “Once they got the torches and pitchforks out, we got out of there.”

                Billy Mack gave him a fucking approving nod. “That does sound like a good time to depart.”

                “Anyway, Slendermen?” Terry asked.

                “Yes, spirits. Tall, thin, long arms.” Billy Mack explained what had gone on since he’d last been around, catching him up to speed.

                He’d just gotten done when I called. “Hey. Anything exciting happened?”

                “Terry showed up. He has apparently successfully rescued Kyle from undead pigmen.”

                “That’s a shame.” I took a sip of coffee.

                He ignored me. “They do appear to be of the same design as the one we found at Rapture Pines, though finished and animated. They seem to have taken over the farm where they were being created. It is a good ways outside of town, but I thought I might bring it up in case we wished to do something about it at some point. Or, at the very least, it would be good to not be surprised when an army of undead pigmen march into town. How was your meeting?”

                I shrugged. “Pretty much what we fucking expected. She did suggest the Autumn Court might look kindly on someone who brought the body of a spirit to them so they could study it.”

                “We certainly have a few extras.” Billy Mack nodded thoughtfully.

                “They’re also investigating the boat, because the Autumn Court investigates any missing persons,” I threw out there.

                “That makes perfect sense, given their natures.” He was already distracted planning his trip I presumed. “You are speaking to Carpenter next?”

                “Yup. See you at Kiki’s - I’ll call if there’s something more immediate.”

                Miguel was putting an invoice on my desk when Billy Mack poked his head back into the conference room and said, “I need one of those bodies.”

                The fellow currently working looked beyond the g-man towards my office, where Miguel had popped his head out. “Don’t ask him questions, just leave it there,” Miguel advised in Spanish.

                Billy Mack got a large carrying case from the lab and managed to fit one of the bodies in it, then it into his fucking trunk. He let Liz know where he was going and headed out.

                Liz herself was waiting on Jack, who showed up shortly after Miguel left. The two of them took our clients to a different hotel and arranged for them to have adjoining suites: Hannah, Delores, and Marco in one, Lucian, Castro, and Gillarmo in the other.

                Billy Mack made good time to the Autumn Court coffee shop, where he was dully greeted by the twin Changelings behind the counter. “Double latte?”

                “Why yes, that sounds delightful. Thank you.” He smiled at them.

                The one who’d asked looked at the other and sighed. The other looked back and shrugged. As they turned away to make that double latte, Billy Mack could see the fucking cord of flesh coming out from under each of their shirts, connecting them to each other. It was the first time he'd been there since being enchanted after all. They came back after just a moment with his latte. “Sorry. She hates it when she’s right.”

                “Thank you. I needed to speak to someone.” He paused. “About seasonal business?” He raised an eyebrow at them.

                “Oh. I was about to say, there’s a psychologist on the board back there.” The first girl gestured towards the wall.

                Billy Mack raised an eyebrow. “Oh, they couldn’t even begin to help me.”

                The girl sighed. “I know how that is. Hold on.” She pushed an intercom button. “Someone to see you.”

                A quavery old woman’s voice came from the speaker. “Oh yes, do send them back.”

                “You know where to go - you’ve been before.” One of the girls jerked a thumb towards the back door.

                Billy Mack smiled. “I have.”

                “Enjoy your latte.”

                “I will.” He took a sip. “It is delicious. I hope you have a good day.”

                The first girl looked at the second. “I knew you were going to say that.”

                “I hate it when I’m right,” she responded. The first one nodded.

                The old woman in the back smiled goddamn widely at Billy Mack. “Come in, come in! Do sit down. I haven’t heard of you vexing us recently.”

                “I have endeavored not to. It was a misunderstanding and I was hoping to move past it.” Billy Mack smiled hopefully.

                “Oh, I have already moved past it. But I never forget.” Her smile never faded. “But here I am, talking about the past, and here you are in the present. How can I be of assistance?”

                Billy Mack brought forward the carrying case. “I have brought something that I believe might be of interest to you. My group was attacked by some spirits - I understand you have some interest in these things.”

                She looked thoughtful. “We have been studying spirits but they are slippery creatures.”

                “They are,” Billy Mack agreed. “I have something that you may be able to glean some information from.”

                “A captive?” Her head tilted questioningly.

                “Not quite. My associates were not quite so gentle.” He showed her the inside of the case.

                Her eyebrows raised. “It left a corpse? That is unusual. Let’s have a look.” Her shadow grew up over her shoulder and ran a long clawed finger down the corpse as she poked at it much more clinically. She glanced back over at Billy Mack. “So, is this a goodness of your heart situation, or are we making some sort of arrangement?” Her fucking shadow moved to stroke the side of Billy Mack’s shadow’s face.

                “If you would share anything you know or find out about these spirits, that would obviously be appreciated. We are currently trying to deal with the person who summoned these spirits, who was attempting to abduct a group of people,” Billy Mack tossed out there.

                “Oh, we do frown upon that sort of shenanigans.” Her frown was deep and terrifying.

                Billy Mack described our encounters with the spirits for Little Grandmother. “Let me write this down,” she quavered, then pressed the intercom button. “Bring me my tea, little girl.”

                After a moment, one of the twins came in carrying a tea tray. She put something to stop the door from shutting on the meaty tendril connecting her to her twin, and placed the tray on the desk. “There you go, Little Grandmother,” she said meekly.

                “Such a dear, dear girl.” Little Grandmother’s shadow reached out to stroke the girl’s hair.

                “M-may I go?” she asked carefully.

                The old woman nodded. “You probably should.”

                “Thank you Little Grandmother. I will never forget!” She rushed out of the room, only pausing to remove the block from the door.

                The old woman made notes, going over everything in detail. Once she’d gotten everything down, Billy Mack changed the subject politely. “I had heard you were looking into the Eleanor Dell. We are also going to be looking into it. I was thinking we might also share what we learn there?”

                “We don’t think it’s Arcadian. There’s certainly something...” she looked fucking pensive, “spatially odd there. It’s as if they all knew something was off, but it didn’t seem to be linked to the Hedge.”

                “It does have a history of that sort of thing. I was able to find some newspaper clippings, and it was dry-docked because of another disappearance,” Billy Mack shared.

                She gave him an overly wide smile. “Young people are so industrious these days.” Apparently her eyesight was going, not that Billy Mack's voice was particularly young either.

                He smiled back. “At any rate, I did not think it was likely to involve Arcadia. I would be more than happy to let you know what we do find out. I certainly hope we can continue to help each other in the future.”

                She creaked forward and nodded. “It has been so lovely to see you.”

                “It is nice to chat. Perhaps at some point we should get together just to chat.”

                “For tea!” She continued to smile.

                “I do love good tea.” Billy Mack politely took his leave. When he passed back out through the coffee shop, he nodded to Heroin, flirting mercilessly with the twins behind the counter. The twins took turns hiding behind one another, blushing enough to almost have real color on their face.

                I met Carpenter in his office. I figured that’d be better, considering I’d be showing him a goddamn corpse. He greeted me with a smile and I got right into it. “So, we’ve got a new case. Client’s team got snatched by a very organized group of Slenderman like spirits.”

                “Can you give me a better description of the spirits? I might know something...”

                I smirked. “I can do you one better.” I walked over to the door, used it to get to my bolthole, and came back with the spirit corpse, being very careful to shut the door in front of me. “They looked like this, but with more blood in them. Our client only didn’t get snatched because a friend grabbed it from behind and caused it to expel all its blood from every fucking conceivable orifice.”

                He nodded. “Gotta be a hit at parties.” He gave the thing a good looking over, but mostly it seemed to confirm whatever idea ‘snatched’ and ‘Slenderman’ had brought into his head.

                I kept talking while he looked. “They came after our client again, tossed Jack into some kinda pocket Shadow realm thing? More your deal than mine. He took the opportunity to gather the five folks and...”

                Carpenter looked up at me, frowning. “How’d he get out?”

                I shrugged. “He can make doors. It’s a thing.”

                “I see.” He let that stand. “I can tell you what these are. They are commonly called Fetches.” My eyebrow raised at that. The Changeling had mentioned Fetches, and I didn’t see anything in common with these things. “They are spirits that are keyed to take away a particular person. They have to be summoned with a particular ritual involving some piece of the person in question - hair, a tooth, a kid. The Fetch can’t leave until they have taken away their target. That’s why you have a body. They haven’t taken them ‘away’. Folks don’t really know where ‘away’ is. There’s rumors they get turned into Fetches, but that's not generally where spirits come from.”

                I described the realm Jack and Liz had told me about, thinking. “Is the piece consumed?”

                “I don’t actually know the ritual.” He looked apologetic. “I do know that once one is summoned, you don’t have a reflection until it’s killed. The Fetch knows where you are, all the time. They usually go for the scare tactics, try and breed fear into their targets.”

                “That is good to know. Anything to give some kind of warning.” I smiled. “By scare tactics, do you mean shit like fogging up mirrors, or having creepy watery footprints?”

                “Yeah. There’s always some mark of their passing, and they try to use that. They can be ordered to get them as efficiently as possible though.”

                “They claim to have been sent by the tattooed man in a suit,” I mentioned leadingly.

                He raised an eyebrow. “They don’t usually talk.”

                I chuckled. “It didn’t really have a choice.”

                He frowned. “Normally when they speak they speak reversed. Easiest way to decipher them is to record what they say and play it backwards. If you compelled it to speak normally... that was probably bad for it. Metaphysically speaking.”

                “Being eaten probably was too, so at least it didn’t suffer for too goddamn long?”

                He shrugged. “Well, I wasn’t sympathetic - I never am. As far as the piece being consumed - even if they still have it, Fetches, at least as far as I know, can only be summoned on a very specific astral conjunction. Which was...” he thought for a moment, “last night, as it turns out.” His face got serious. “It is technically possible to perform a ritual on one of them, that will turn it back on the original summoner. You have to be able to recite it backwards, and you won’t know whether you did it right until after you let it out. If it works, they will go directly after the summoner.”

                I made a considering noise. “And we could follow it maybe... or do they teleport?”

                He shook his head. “No. They go very fast, but they don’t teleport.”

                “Thanks man. This helps a lot.” I smiled at him.

                “Anything else I can help with? You have the most interesting things happen to you.” He gave me a wry grin.

                “Nah, we’re good for now. If you hear anything about a tattooed man in a suit going around summoning things, give a call?”

                He chuckled. “Sure thing.”

                Back at my car, I gave Delores a call. “Hey doll. We’ve got a little more intel on those fuckers. The key points are 1) whoever sent them probably can’t summon anymore for awhile, and more importantly 2) when they are summoned, you’ll stop having a reflection.”

                “Lemme check something.” There was a pause. “Yeah, I have a reflection.”

                “Good. Keep an eye out for that, try to make sure there’s always at least one of you who’s near a mirror, that sort of thing.” I started the car. “The motive was to kill, not capture, for what that’s worth.”

                She nodded. “Our contact still hasn’t picked up, so... probably a trap?”

                I shrugged. “Probably. Or they were taken too.”

                “Did they see anyone else there?” she asked dryly.

                “No, so that is unlikely if not impossible. They did stop looking after they found your five.” I looked around. “See you at Kiki’s.”

                “See you.”

                Terry decided the broken window was free air conditioning and left Cecilia at the office to go visit his goddamn apocalypse cult at the former Ben Dover’s House of Ass. He stopped by Bangkok Pies, at Cecilia’s recommendation, to grab pizza for the group.

                They’d set up a pool table since the last time Terry remembered being there, and a couple of the plague doctor mask wearing cultists were playing a game on it. Another cultist was sawing down one of the stripper poles. Christmas lights were festooned about the place, but none of the fucking things were on. In fact, no lights were on. Terry went to fiddle with the switch and nothing happened.

                Two of the cultists were pouring over a map and looked up as he entered. “Oh, is the pizza for us?” Terry nodded. “How are you, fellow human?”

                “I’m good, fellow human.” Terry looked around wide eyed. “It has been a bit, and I’m sorry about that. Life is very...”

                “You are safe from your attacker, though?” The cultist tilted his head fucking inquisitively.

                Terry nodded. “Thanks, for that, you know, if you had anything to do with it.”

                The cultist shrugged. “The universe is mysterious in its hatred of humanity.”

                “There was a lot of human hate there,” Terry agreed.

                “So, there’s been a problem. The gentleman that we poisoned seems to have come back from the dead.” The cultist walked back over to the map table.

                Terry’s eyes widened. “I expect that wasn’t in the cards, so to speak?”

                She shook her head. “No, humans haven’t come back from the dead in a while. We might have to go with something a little more audacious.” She gestured at the map. “We’re studying some weather patterns. What we think we can do is bring a large amount of toxic waste into these factories here, here, here, and here, where the smokestacks will release the waste into the clouds, hopefully resulting in radioactive rain. That should send a stronger signal of their upcoming demise.”

                “I see.” Terry stroked his chin. “Do we need to get the toxic waste? Do we have it on hand?”

                “We’re acquiring it. We’re hoping we can have it happen at a Mariner’s game.”

                The other cultist looked up from the map and mouthed “She doesn’t know.”

                “But I haven’t managed to find a Mariner’s home schedule so...” the first cultist continued.

                One of the cultists at the pool table looked up. “Don’t baseball games, like, stop when it rains?”

                The one at the map looked up and stared at that one, then looked down at the map again, shaking his head. “Pet peeve.”

                Terry nodded along. “So, if we could figure out some kind of containment for them, there’s apparently a farm outside of town sort of, um, run by ambulatory pig corpses.”

                The one at the map looked up. “Huh. Do you have an address? Directions?” He pushed things off the map table. The other one there collapsed into a pile of limbs, then slowly reformed. “We’ll send Brother Luke to check it out.”

                “The fuck you are!” came from one of the cultists at the pool table. “Why don’t you send him?” he asked, pointing at the one who asked about baseball.

                “Because he’s an idiot.”

                Brother Luke sighed. “Fair enough. Can I burn it to the ground if it goes bad?”

                “Brother Luke,” came the gentle reprimand. At Brother Luke’s reluctant apology, he turned back to Terry. “As wonderful as the radioactive rain will be, if we can combine it with these undead pigs... yes... soon there will be no more days. I’m so glad you found us.”

                “Yeah.” Terry nodded. “I come across the damned things.”

                Terry decided to go with Brother Luke to the pig farm, so they both got in the brother’s truck. He sent us a text before they left. ‘Going to pig farm with doomsday cult. Going to set things right.’

                “So what led you to the apocalyptic lifestyle?” Luke asked as they pulled out. “Everybody’s got a story, right, why they want to end the world?”

                “Oh, you know...” Terry delayed. “You’ve been to Rapture Pines, right?”

                “Yeah, I used to live there.”

                Terry nodded. “So you understand.”

                “Say no more.” Luke nodded fucking gravely.

                “The world as we see it is just not laid out right,” Terry explained. “It could use a good reset.”

                Luke snorted. “Oh, I know. I was born in the Okefenokee. The world needs a good enema. That’s what I’ve said since I was three.”

                Terry looked impressed. “That’s dedication. I guess you just knew, huh?”

                “Well, you know. At one point in time I was warm and got everything I needed, in the womb, you know, and when I got out...” he shook his head. “Life just sucks. So the world just has to end. Also, the Okefenokee smells like shit. Then I moved to the big city and into Rapture Pines...”

                “So it’s like fate was telling you, you gotta destroy the world.”

                The truck shook and rattled. They’d hit something and skidded a little. At least one tire was blown and from the sound of it, more than one was. Terry glanced out the back. There was a goddamn tire trap just behind them.

                They’d gotten out to the country, and the road was dark. Luke pulled to a stop and checked his cell phone. “We don’t appear to have reception. Do we start walking back, or continue on towards the pig farm?” He paused. “You know, as I say it out loud, I vote for going back.”

                “We may need to see this through.” Terry nodded resolutely, his eyes wide.

                “Alright. You’re going first though.” Luke looked dubious. He checked his gun. “You armed?”

                Terry nodded. “Yeah. I don’t go anywhere with just one arm.”

                They both noticed right at that moment, a drove of four fucking pigs advanced on them from the brush. They were built like the pigs Terry had seen when he picked Kyle up before, but had heads and faces more like warthogs. He nodded sagely. “Ah. Must be the wolf-pig faction I’d heard about.”

                Luke didn’t have time to do more than give him a confused look before they were on him, goring him deep in his side. He fired panickedly at the one on top of him, grazing the big creature. Terry took the brief moment of distraction to shift fully into his demon form, deftly dodging the two pigs throwing themselves at him.

                The fourth pig launched himself at Luke, finishing the job. All four pigs turned towards Markizel, rage in their eyes. He teleported up on top of the van and shot the injured one finishing it off. The rest kept charging after him, two of them bulling their way onto the hood of the car and the last one ramming the side of it, attempting to knock it over. He got another shot off, killing a second, before they were on him and he teleported again, this time onto the road behind them.

                He played keep-away like that until all the pigs were dead, which didn’t take him too long. After poking at the truck for a bit, he gave it up for a bad cause and rifled the glove compartment for Luke’s registration and any other incriminating evidence, like the bag of mushrooms he found in there. Then he stuffed a rag in the gas tank, lit the end on fire, and picked Luke up, teleporting his way back to Ben Dover’s House of Ass, the smell of bacon in his wake.

                He shifted back into his human form before he got to the occupied part of town, and was tired out by the time he got inside. He dropped Luke down on the pool table, ignoring the two people making out on the couch and nodding with approval at the cultist who’d gotten a third of the way through the stripped pole.

                The two leaders had still been poring over the map. They looked up as he walked in. “Unfortunately, Brother Luke has fallen in battle.”

                “Negotiations went poorly?”

                “You could say that.” He rolled his shoulders back. “The pigs - someone working with the pigs, laid a trap. There were four of them in an ambush.”

                She tilted her head. “Were they collecting body parts for their necromantic experiments?”

                The other looked at her. “Or lunch.” She nodded in agreement.

                “They seemed very hellbent on ripping us to pieces. Brother Luke fought valiantly. He met his end before the end of the world, unfortunately.” Terry patted the corpse’s shoulder.

                “At least his world ended.” The cultist said it like a fucking benediction. “For him, there are no more days.”

                Terry nodded. “The farm might still be useful, but I think we need to come in more force, and better prepared. For traps.”

                The cultists thought for a moment. “Perhaps we should come by foot. Or by air? At least, thanks to Brother Luke’s sacrifice, we have learned.” A clattering came from the back. “Oh yes. There is pizza left. I should note that Brother Harlan says it gives you the flaming shits. I believe we heard shouting for us to kill him coming from the bathroom.”

                “Ah.” Terry shrugged, his eyes wide. “A little spice in life, before the end of days.”

                “Ah yes. It is rather like a world cleansed in fire, eating a spicy pizza.” The cultist nodded meditatively.

                Someone came staggering out of the back. “Are you using his anus?” His voice was ragged and pained. “Because there’s something wrong with mine.”

                The leader gestured towards him. “We were just telling him about the pizza.”

                “Oh my god...” the man groaned and staggered back out.

                Terry nodded. “I might do a little more reconnaissance, on my own.”

                The cultist nodded. “We will await your word. Have a good day.”

                Terry joined him for the final bit. “Until there are none.”

                All of us but Terry were at Kiki’s when we got his text. Vivian was there, working on the data searches we had going. Jack was there talking with Crusher and Roxanna, and Liz sat with Delores and Evita. I hung out at a booth by myself, listening in via Mind Reading.

                Before Evita got there, I checked in on the hippy couple with the same. They were talking with Sondra, and since I was pretty sure something she was doing was mixed up with the God-Machine, or would get that way soon, I wanted to check that out. Turns out they were still concerned about the missing Ducktonsure, and were arranging to do small time criminal work for her in exchange for help.

                There were a few other folks there: Louise, with Adria, the vampires Carrie and Tiffany, and Bobby Heartwood. Nobody I felt the need to fucking listen in on. Evita wasn’t too long in getting here. I could tell right away she was some kind of immortal, though neither of the two I’d seen before. Turns out they’re called blood bathers, which just sounds goddamn weird. I didn’t get much else from her aura, other than she felt a sisterly kind of protectiveness towards Delores. Her surface thoughts were mostly about Liz. Apparently she made a hell of an impression. I was able to get something of an idea of what was going on.

                Evita was after someone, someone who’d taught her how to become immortal using certain rituals and then done her wrong, using her to distract some Hunters on his tail. Somehow, she thought Delores would lead her to him. Her surface thoughts didn’t really expound upon that fact - it was something she’d already thought through and now just fucking expected. She’d been tailing Delores, which was how she had been able to intercept the Fetch. Apparently she was able to track Delores’ heartbeat, from no matter the distance, much like Liz’s tagging ability, but with a little more nuance, since she could tell things like how fast it was beating.

                A text from Liz a bit later explained more. Evita’s ex-husband, Fidel Rodriguez, originally from Ecuador, was her target. He didn't have tattoos, that she remembered, but Delores had ‘double crossed’ him at some point in the past, according to Evita, so he was pretty clearly the guy after her. I asked if the others had, and it was confirmed Marco had.

                Delores was being fucking cagey, and her conscious memory is goddamn questionable at best, so I went digging around there. I found the job they’d double crossed Fidel on. It had been her, Marco and Hannah. They’d been contracted to steal something, but ran up against some serious magical warding. That wasn’t part of the deal, and they went back to tell him so. He declared it was part of the deal, and started playing Marco like a puppet to emphasize the point.

                Unfortunately for him, Hannah had stashed massive, firing squad level amount of cocaine in his bathroom. A quick call to the police got him raided and off their backs long enough for them to get the fuck out of dodge. He escaped said firing squad, obviously, and didn’t feel great about the results.

                Evita herself got cagey when Liz asked about why she thought tailing Delores would get her to Fidel. Things got close after that, with Evita laying a hand on Liz’s arm. The best Liz was able to get out of it was that Evita wasn’t expecting those spirits to be the ones coming for her. So, presumably expecting her to be taken hostage in a more standard way. Apparently Fidel had a thing for Delores, so at least Evita hadn’t expected a death sentence. Liz was pretty sure she was still holding something back, but didn’t noticing anything coming from the skin contact.

                Still, the flirting had gotten hot and heavy enough to leave Liz stammering, which was a clear enough sign of something weird for Vivian to become concerned. She sent out a text message, ‘She is most likely engorging your genitals with blood in order to cause you to become more aroused.’ That woulda killed my mood, if my ge... let's not finish that thought. Liz frowned down at her phone.

                Delores was starting to look a little pissed off, and I could even hear her reminding Liz she was her ride home at least once. After not too long, Liz texted me to ask if I could take Delores home. I said I would. I planned on staking out the place anyway, so I might as well drive her. Liz’s assurance that it was because she wanted to continue the investigation got a goddamn upraised eyebrow however.

                We got a text from Vivian midway through the night. ‘Contact is Jason Carlyle. Been in the Caribbean for the past few days. Network’s been extra busy - probably either Carlyle’s been taken or his identity’s been stolen. Or someone’s taking advantage of the cat being away with nothing to do with this. Will call when it’s a decent hour to check - he’s set his room to DND.’ She sent another one quickly after that letting me know we needed to know the ritual she was taught.

                So I went poking through Evita’s mind. It wasn’t too hard to find the ritual. There was nothing fancy about the tub - that’s apparently a thing - nor was it full on immortality. As long as we chopped the body up in small enough pieces, or incinerated one of them, they wouldn’t be coming back from that. Alternatively, we could make sure they didn’t have access to blood for ten years. Flamethrower it was.

                Jack, meanwhile, had made his way over to the Changelings’ table. Crusher greeted him with a grin. “Hey man.”

                “Hey.” Jack nodded to the pair of them. “How’s dinner?”

                “Good so far.”

                Jack got right down to it. “So, I gave you guys a call because we stumbled on something we thought might be... well, a whole crew of people went missing, right at the same time.”

                Crusher and Rosanna looked at each other before he answered. “That ain’t good.”

                “We got ‘em all back. It’s not quite what we thought it was, which is good - no need to travel into the Hedge. But I thought I’d still meet up cause there is a new collector on the scene.” Jack looked between the two of them.

                “What can you tell us about him? S’he punchable?” Crusher asked.

                Jack grimaced. “Gotta find him first.”

                Crusher clenched his fucking fists. “That’s always the problem.”

                “This one comes from the Shadow - it’s some kind of spirit business,” Jack explained at Crusher’s blank look.

                “I’m lost. I mean, I’m sure there’s a spirit world, from Sunday School.” Crusher shrugged.

                Jack waved his hands. “No, not that one. That’s the Underworld.”

                Crusher raised an eyebrow. “That’s not what they call it in Sunday School.”

                Rosanna patted Crusher’s arm. “I don’t think he’s Catholic.”

                “Yeah, well...” Jack shrugged. “It’s not where dead souls go, or the Hedge, but a place where spirits of a differ...”

                Crusher interrupted him. “Where Totoro comes from?”

                Jack blinked at him. “Kinda. Much closer. These ones come from a pocket realm of that, look like Slenderman, a little. There were a bunch, and were sent out to grab people.”

                “That ain’t like Totoro.” Crusher frowned. “So we need to go kick some ass?”

                “Gotta find the ass to kick first. We’re working on that though,” Jack assured him.

                Rosanna nodded. “What do you need from us, though?”

                Jack smiled. “Well, originally, we were worried that it might be...” He left it dangling.

                “That it might be the Fae?” He nodded. “Fair enough. It seems like a reasonable assumption.”

                “I’ll update you more when we get it, especially if it’s a wider danger.” His phone buzzed and he glanced down at the texts from Liz. “Speaking of - this was apparently very specifically targeted, so unlikely to be much of a worry for you guys.”

                Things were winding down when Terry showed up and grabbed a seat at my table, ordering chicken wings. “Fuck pigs, man.”

                I raised an eyebrow at him. “I’d rather not.”

                “I meant like an expletive.”

                I rolled my eyes. “So you went back to the pig farm?”

                He nodded. “I was seeing if I could set the doomsday cult on them. I did manage to off one of the doomsday cult, by way of pig.”

                “That’s a hell of a way to go.”

                He nodded again. “They’re looking for a way to rain toxic waste down on the city. They got a little uppity after the ricin guy got back up. So how are things here on the normal side of the universe?”

                I filled him in on what we’d gotten. I’d just gotten done when Delores stopped by. “Can I get a ride home? Your friend seems to have decided that poon is the way to go tonight.”

                “Sure thing doll.” I gave her a sympathetic grin.

                “I didn’t expect them to get along so well.” She shot a glance back their way.

                I shrugged. “Liz is very good at getting along well.” I gestured for her to sit. “So, this Rodriguez guy. You remember anything about him? Other than his jackassery.”

                She grabbed a seat next to me. “Yeah. He did designer drugs, has a factory somewhere. The kinda thing that gets all kinds of bad attention. He focuses on places like South Africa, Brazil - places big enough to be good markets, but not big enough to have the manpower to catch him out. He’s Latino, but can pass. Rich and condescending. Kinda cute, but... no?”

                “I’m gonna talk to some of the others, see if they’ve ever worked for him.” The fact that it didn’t occur to her to mention his supernatural powers seemed fucking odd. Like I said, the dame had a strange memory. “This job that went wrong - what do you remember?”

                “Hannah really doesn’t like him - I dunno if she had history with him, or just better douchebag sensors. She noticed the magic around the museum that was our target. She can see things like that, though I’ve never seen her use it. It had seemed way too easy up to that point, so it was easy to believe.” She shrugged.

                I raised an eyebrow. “So where did the ‘double cross’ part come in?”

                She frowned. “Double cross isn’t really the right word. We said this is some serious magic shit protecting it and it’s beyond our pay grade. We deal with tech - my few Kindred powers give me an edge in places where there’s no supernatural shit, and I like that. Then he started pulling out mumbo jumbo and controlling Marco, which is a death sentence as far as I’m concerned. Hannah kept everyone calm, and it turned out she’d put a really tragic amount of cocaine in his bathroom.” So at least she remembered it. It just didn’t have the priority to it that I woulda given it. “I hadn’t really thought about it before when you asked about jobs. It wasn’t our last one, and the three of us have worked together so many times.”

                “No worries doll. We didn’t ask you that specifically anyway.”

                She glanced over at Liz. “I’m glad I’m not at the table with eye-fucking at it.” She had a note of protesting too much.

                We left shortly after and I gathered them all up. “So, Castro - have you done anything to piss off one Fidel Rodriguez?” I had my surface thoughts running. Apparently Lucian had been constantly changing between characters that were showing up on TV.

                “Uh, nope.” Unless you don’t count fucking the gee’s daughter. I was a little pissed off at him myself. The dame was about 17 or 18, and he wasn’t. I let it be though.

                “Sure.” I turned to Gillarmo. “What about you?”

                He grinned. “I always leave backdoors. I didn’t think he knew about it though.”

                Lastly, I turned to Lucian. “And you, buddy?”

                “I... disapproved of some of his behavior. He’s a terribly boorish man - he had a girls’ school that he was using to acquire blood for his rituals. Orphan children, of course.”

                “Of course.” I nodded.

                “He would sacrifice them for life extending rituals. I decided to make his life interesting.” I raised an eyebrow. “The head of the largest newspapers in Mexico City has strong ties to the mob. I pretended to look like Fidel as I killed his wife in front of him.” He shrugged at my frown.”She was hardly innocent.”

                “Right. Well, anyway, that’s who sent the spirits. I assume Delores passed on what I told her about that earlier?” They nodded. “He’s got someone working with him, another one with blood powers.” I described the woman in the surveillance tapes. Apparently it wasn’t an associate of Evita’s. “I’ll be on guard tonight.”

                End Session LXX

                Pigs man. Pigs. I had a lot of fun with the scene in the coffee shop. Was waiting for them to go back enchanted.

                That covers it for now, Comments and Questions welcome

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                [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 find it fairly hilarious that Terry is the one asking about how things are on the sane part of the world, given the company he keeps. Kind of surprised that the pigmen made a recurrence though - nice way to explain his being gone for the last number of games. Almost sound like a plague, given they take human parts and make them into something else. Not quite Prometheans, but something somewhat similar...

                  It's interesting at how various bits of terminology get repeated throughout the gamelines. I know Beasts and, well, Demons get a lot of mileage in that regard. Didn't know Fetches were part of that.

                  Also, it's kind of incredible at the amount of information gathering everyone has at this point in the game. I know it's been going on for a while, but...actually, how long has this game gone for?


                  • Well the Fetches are my creation. And it started fall of 2014

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                    [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 bring bad news.

                      OOC circumstances outside my control have conspired to make it impossible to continue to run Night Train Detective Agency. It is a situation none of us are remotely happy about; I think I can speak for the entire group when I say that the circumstances that compelled this were unfortunate and we all wish the game could continue.

                      Unfortunately, I can’t really discuss them, for privacy reasons. I am sorry to see the game end. We all are. We had a good team, and a good game.

                      These circumstances were specific to Night Train Detective Agency and should have no impact on any other game. Changeling: Malibu Dream House, Geist: Balance of Shadows, and Chronicles of Darkness: The Golden Eagle are all continuing and all fairly strong at this writing. I encourage readers to explore these games and encounter our players in several different roles in games that take place in the same play universe.

                      There is no direct successor game. I will likely be running Castle Falkenstein with some players on the night, but journals, if any, won’t be going up in this forum.

                      I’d like to thank everyone who has been part of Night Train Detective Agency. It’s been a good game, we had a good run. I hope to see you around.

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                      [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]


                      • My sincerest condolences go out to the entire group for this to happen. I loved reading the adventures of the Night Train Detective Agency, and it has inspired a number of ideas that I'm working into the Demon game I'm currently in. The characters were lovely, both by the players and the GM, and the journals were a joy to read no matter which player wrote them (though credit where it's due, Speed Demon's went an extra mile and a half in theirs).

                        I'm really going to miss getting new updates on this series...but, I suppose that an end was innevitable. I just wish it was later on, and under better circumstances.

                        Many thanks to you for running the game Baroness Nerak, and to the players for bringing so much to the table (if you'll pardon the pun). You all made me smile on days that were good and bad, and helped get me invested in a game that I didn't have much of a measure for. Best of luck to everyone for their future games.


                        • Noooooooooo! The plot threads... The characters...

                          Condolences to the team for the turn of events. It was a great run, and we'll be sad to see them go. Hope everything turns out as well as it can.

                          Baroness Nerak - Since the Chronicle is closed, were there any plans for the various plots you had ideas for, but didn't have time to implement? Where would things have (likely) gone?

                          Would the players be willing to write up epilogues for their characters?
                          Last edited by Vent0; 07-29-2017, 08:39 AM.

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


                          • Taidragon: Thank you so much. Yeah Speed's were amazing...only downside is other players felt less of a need due to her catching all the angles. We are all still playing in the group, just not that night or those circumstances. Thanks for well wishes, glad you enjoyed.

                            Vent0: Yeah, no one is happy with it. I have asked people to write Epilogues if they can, but we will see. I will absolutely post them if so. I don't...really have specific arcs planned for my pure sandbox games (Balance of Shadows, Malibu Dream House, Night Train Detective Agency) It's all very player driven with hooks introduced. Likely continued as they are now, maybe some progression against the Tower.

                            Right now we are all a little sad and frustrated that things turned out as they did. Let me take some time and if folks have questions ask me in a few weeks I will be happy to answer. Thanks for reading.

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                            [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 hate being the one to ask awkward questions but, since a month has passed, is it too early to ask a few questions about the game and what kind of ideas/decisions went into the design of it?


                              • I suppose it is fair. Sure, I will answer questions and such about it.

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                                [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]