Edge City

The Great Seal, Sundered

Friday, April 16, 2011

Adrian was having a nice lunch with Emma, getting ready to go to Kingsport to scout out a good place in Hilltown for her to spend the summer as a bohemian artist. She stepped away for a moment, and a demon, Mr. Charon, slipped up to the table. He shared the Baltimore Truth of 1796 with Adrian, scribbled on a page from a hymn book.

On his deathbed the One will be abandoned / Nodens will not come / The Green Flame will ascend / through all gates

Charon slipped away before Emma returned, and Adrian knew it was time to involve others in whatever might be going down in Kingsport.

Meanwhile Genevieve had restless dreams of running through Kingsport’s neighborhoods and time periods, accidentally spreading green flame everywhere she touched, until there was a single unifying green flame; she was surrounded by fog, and there were faces, and she woke in a state of terror.

They gathered together Lydia (who had stopped by Indigo’s place to collect his guitar for her own), Kinslton, and Burr. Time to go to Kingsport. They sent Emma and her things and Ellis with Mugsy by yacht, and they took the much shorter route through the Leatherbury Estate, emerging in the Kingsport Historical Society attic.

Barbeque With the Chief

They met with Chief Crane, who seemed a little sad. His wife Linda and children left him, so he was living alone; still, he was glad to see them and have a cookout. Apparently the weird things he had to deal with in Kingsport were eventually too much for his wife.

The only thing he was currently aware of was the disappearance of some vagrants; they were the canaries in the coal mine, indicating something larger might be amiss.

They checked on his Tchulza grubs, and were all startled to find the grubs very active in their glass jars. Another sign all was not well.

The energy of the small town was off, and it was unsettled with a miasma of Tchulzan energies. They decided to go check it out, noting that the center of the disturbance was a knot of energy at the peak of Kingsport Head, surrounding the Strange High House.

The Islander

As they headed through town, Adrian spotted Jorge Malinta, a strangely canny musician with the Brotherhood of the Road. Malinta observed that he was here to mark this momentous occasion, where a Great Seal may be sundered. He already composed a song as he prepared to bear witness.

Rather than performing the song himself, he nodded to a woman across the street who was performing for money. Adrian was sure to buy her CD. It was Stella Wilde, performing “Songs of the Sea, Volume IV.” The lyrics to the Eulogy for Bain:

An old man by a seashore at the end of day
Gazes the horizon with seawinds in his face
Tempest-tossed island, seasons all the same
Anchorage unpainted and a ship without a name

Sea without a shore for the banished one unheard
He lightens the beacon, light at the end of world
Showing the way, lighting hope in their hearts
The ones on their travels homeward from afar

[Chorus:]
This is for long-forgotten light at the end of the world
Horizon’s crying the tears he left behind long ago

The albatross is flying, making him daydream
The time before he became – one of the world’s unseen
Princess in the tower, children in the fields
Life gave him it all: an island of the universe

Now his love`s a memory, a ghost in the fog
He sets the sails one last time saying farewell to the world
Anchor to the water, seabed far below
Grass still in his feet and a smile beneath his brow

[Chorus x2]

They hurried on, to the base of the Kingsport Head, and up the slope.

Defenses

There was a massive defensive energy construct centered on the Strange High House, but as they hiked up they found human sacrifices at the center of mythos rituals tainted with demonic energy that drove the defenses back, ever imploding towards the house itself. They sensed danger around them as they moved ever higher in the punishing hike. They found more sacrifices, each fresher than the last. Within the barrier itself, they felt a weakening heartbeat.

They discovered there were disguised nightgaunts, just out of phase with prime, to discourage fliers (like Kinslton as he scouted.) He retreated, and they caught up near the edge of the defensive area to find a shoggoth chewing on it, draining its power, pushing it inward.

Genevieve managed to use her shaman powers and the Bauble to breach the defense briefly, enough to get in. They crept up to the High House and in through the back, and there they found Bain on his deathbed, brandishing a pistol at them.

He was terrified of Lydia, until he realized she was not with the cult of Tchulza, and did not know his sin. He mumbled something about how she was the Lady in the Tower.

He explained about the Nexus of Dreams outside his door (which was currently barred) and how it would burn a unidim (uni-dimensional, not multi-dimensional) creature to ash in an instant. However, it needs a catalyst to help it open or close, to regulate its dream energies and dimensional airlock.

Would Lydia shoulder the burden of regulating the Nexus until Nodens returned to bind or free her? She would have to put her will against the cultists connected by the Green Flame, each conducting an active ritual to take control of the Nexus and open it to Tchulza.

She agreed to take on that burden.

Defending the Nexus

Each point of the anchored Great Seal was hosting a ritual to take control of the time and space where it was anchored, to rip it loose and let the Tchulzan energies roar into the Nexus, reshaping the past and the future. Lydia could not stand against them all; they had to be disrupted.

Burr joined Kinslton in flying out of the defenses, to find the one nearest the High House. It was in a cave, stairs up to open space. Kinslton moved into the Periphery and through the stone to an otherdimensional space where a Crawling One led witches in the ritual, with byakhee guards. Kinslton broke through the byakhee easily enough, and could only defeat the Crawling One (a wizard made of grave worms) by chowing down unpleasantly. It was not all bad that Burr was stuck outside the cave.

Adrian and Genevieve and Anna went out too, finding the dimensionally hidden ritual around the boarding house and sorting it out as Kinslton and Burr went after another one.

With three down, Lydia threw open the doors, exposing herself to the Nexus of Dreams, and hurled her consciousness and body into the portal. She felt the ruthless ritual energy of Tchulza, but since she had the Cairn connection tying her into the ley lines of Prime, and since she was gifted in regulating the energies of the Green Flame, she could take their power and hurl it harmlessly through the Nexus instead of shattering it with a blow as they intended. The energy gusted away from Prime, and she stood in the breach, bearing the weight of regulating the Nexus.

William Bain quietly died.

Aftermath

Questioning a surviving witch, they discovered that Carl Sanford was behind organizing this assault on Prime. Kinslton remembered his original mission to hunt the rogue mythos wizard down and put a stop to him, so he decided to follow this fresh lead to Europe. He put in a call to the Brotherhood to send someone else to the brownstone while he was gone, to assist the vigilantes of the city in his absence.

Lydia discovered that while she could meditate and even dimensionally travel, she was drawn inexorably back to wake up in the Strange High House. She was rooted to the Nexus in ways she could only begin to understand.

The Great Seal was sundered, but the damage it had once contained had been healed through reaching into those rituals in the past and draining them of the Tchulza energy they once held, venting it off-plane so it had never been able to pose a threat to the dimensional walls (which were still thinner, but not dangerously so any longer.) With Lydia regulating the Dream Nexus, Kingsport posed no greater threat than other places of power around the world.

The others could return to their lives, but Lydia resolved to wait until Nodens, God of Dreams, revisited his Nexus and set a course for the rest of her life…

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Rendition

The next morning, Pillars called Kinslton; she had her end of the deal, and she wanted to meet. He wanted to delay the meeting, but she wouldn’t have it, so he invited her over. The butler left, and Pillars told Kinslton that Dan Chauncey’s soul was held by Marcy; not only the name, but the letter in the Correspondence that matched it, so there could be no mistake. Then she pounced, and they had intimate contact, and also she pulled the demon grubs out of him; she asked if he wanted to keep one or two, and he wanted two. With her hellish load, she strolled off, leaving Kinslton something of a wreck.

Genevieve checked on her “werewolf gym” to find that development was slow. They were taking rusting playground equipment out of abandoned school buildings, but they didn’t have the funds to put in an after-school tutoring area or a meditation area. Genevieve extended them a line of credit to use with the development of the facility to speed things along.

Adrian’s birthday party would be at Feducci’s the day after tomorrow, so they didn’t want to do anything that would make that a mess. (He would be turning 28!)

Lydia checked in with the bookstore (Burr in tow, to keep an eye on her) and got cleaned up. Things were fine at the bookstore, and Lydia figured that night she’d look for Indigo, to confront him and clear the air about how they left things. Burr figured she’d go along.

The First Visit to Kennedov

Genevieve, Adrian, and Anna went out to the island via Kennedov’s speed boat, and they were welcomed in to speak with him. He appeared to be in his thirties, very energetic with stolen blood. He told them he was looking to bring things to a conclusion, and his intent was that no one would be killed. Genevieve reminded him of their alliance, and that was sufficient; they headed back to the mainland—but Kennedov asked them to send Kinslton his way.

The Second Visit to Kennedov

Kinslton was woken by the telepathic summons, and groggily flew out to the island. Kennedov reminded him of his debt and loyalty, and asked him to come along to capture and retrieve Indigo. To that end, he pointed out a white ash stake; through the heart, it would immobilize but not kill. Kinslton agreed to help, enchanting the stake to work even better.

They went out to the Apache helicopter, and flew into town, guided by Kennedov’s senses to find Indigo.

Finding Indigo

Genevieve and company saw the helicopter, and Genevieve made psychic contact with Kinslton to find out what was up, as well as with Lydia and Burr who were in the area also looking for Indigo. They converged on a building, the Luck Dragon, which was a laundry and an opium den. As Kennedov and Kinslton dropped from the chopper to the roof where Indigo waited, the others cleared all the people out of the building in case it went pyrotechnic.

Kennedov confronted Indigo with waves of supernatural majesty that forced his childe face-down in the sand of the zen garden. Kinslton moved to stake him, and three robed figures came out—Setites. They tried to use their fascinating gaze to immobilize him, but it wasn’t nearly strong enough; awed, they wanted to talk to him, they were enthused about maybe being of service to a Lord of Flesh demon. He set a time and place for the following night. Then they sloped off and he jammed the stake into Indigo, who was helpless.

Below, the others watched as the chopper took off with Indigo as a prisoner. Lydia tried to think of a way to affect what was going on to free Indigo, but sided with restraint, not wanting to add tension or violence to a situation that her friends wanted to stay quiet. She seethed with a lost opportunity to confront Indigo about what he did to her, and what feelings she still had for him.

Do Not Pass Go

Kennedov took Kinslton and Indigo into the bowels of his island, far deeper than expected, to a prison where Indigo was shackled to a wall that was pointed into the earth and locked into place behind a number of other walls. Kinslton was allowed to know his location, though Kinslton suggested he might mind-wipe himself.

The Meeting is Set

Kinslton told everyone he was meeting the Setites, and Genevieve told the Ghost, who rendezvoused with Adrian to be there in case it all went south. Kinslton met with two of the three cultists, and they expressed earnest enthusiasm to offer service to him. Because he was a demon. They gave him a card with contact numbers, and also a stone he could put in the still-warm body of a human sacrifice where the heart goes, to get a more direct line to them. When they left, the Ghost apprehended them for further questioning. Kinslton gave the presents to the Ghost too, and they all left the park.

Directed Meditations

Lydia was brooding, watching the sun come up, when she heard an early morning accordion busker; weird, but too weird when he started playing one of Indigo’s songs. She teleported down to confront him, and he directed her into a restaurant where someone was waiting for her.

She met the Director, who told her some members of the Black Hand had contacted him through his Brotherhood of the Road friends, and they wanted to attack Kennedov’s island and kill him there. The Director finds assassination distasteful, but rescue could be interesting. Lydia agreed, and wanted to be further involved. The Director said he’d contact her, and he slipped out a secret door.

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Burnout

Friday, April 1, 2011

Genevieve checked in with the Recon Teams to find that today was “skeleton crew” day where all non-essential personnel were helping in the labs, cleaning vandalized gat bots (as the cosmetic damage was far outstripping the technical staff’s maintenance schedules.) Genevieve bound some cleaning spirits to hoses and sponges to help out, before checking through her various responsibilities and heading out.

Kinslton called Pillars, and after he talked to a debtor, he talked to her when she called him right back. Kinslton wanted to know how to get Dan’s soul back without undoing the benefits of Dan selling his soul. Pillars explained that the contract was held by a demon; if Kinslton wanted to know which demon, he would give her access to him and everything in his skin for an hour. He agreed. He also started noticing more black carrion birds around than usual.

Adrian spent time with Emma as she paged through the Kingsport papers, looking for a good house to rent for the summer.

Kryptma showed up at Favian Church with a plastic honeybear container full of a sort of rage gel, so Lydia could down it and let a lycanthropic rage battle her vampiric beast and root it out of her soul, providing anger and energy far beyond her own capacity. Lydia rejected the substance, determined to battle this out on her own, and she did not want to go somewhere in the Umbra to burn it out with quantum energies in a safe environment. Kryptma shrugged and left.

Say Anything

As night approached, Kinslton waited where Indigo had disappeared into the earth. When the vampire emerged, they had a nice chat, then Indigo went to the roadside and seemed to meditate or something equally boring, oriented towards the church.

Adrian had a pleasant conversation with Su, one of the acolytes, discovering she was less religious and more vengeance oriented, and the next stop was surviving monster hunting in Detroit to “earn those bones.” He showed her some magic.

Burr made a glorious salad for supper, and everyone enjoyed it (even though Lydia couldn’t keep her supper down, with the intensity of her inner turmoil.) Burr and Abrams had a good day reviewing the gun collection and keeping an eye on the situation, but at sundown they resumed their “just in case” vigil outside Lydia’s room, their armament supplemented by Anna bringing some one-shot dragon’s breath rounds.

In her meditation, Lydia was riding a shantak out at the umbral edge, a peaceful memory, when Indigo intruded into her mind through their link. They had a heartfelt conversation where she expressed her frustration, anger, and disappointment, and he defended his control of her by saying he felt vulnerable, and wanted her to be happy, and he would have released her slowly instead of this painful scarring rush. He also told her if she continued her “detox” then he would take that as rejection, and not be available to her anymore.

When he left her meditation, she struggled mightily with deciding what to do, then she went ahead and uprooted his vampiric presence inside herself, tearing out parts of herself in the process, but finally freeing herself of his influence.

Outside, Indigo turned and headed into town, so Kinslton headed to the gazebo.

Shiny

Concerned by all the carrion birds hanging around, Kinslton used the Ouijiwatch to contact Genevieve, and she joined him at the gazebo. They determined not all of the birds were real; some were shadows. (Genevieve enchanted a gum wrapper to serve as the translator in talking to the birds.) The birds said they were pursuing a comfortable spot, they didn’t connect it to Kinslton (but the connection was clear to the more clever people.)

Intrigued, they went to the Mirror Van and stepped off Prime, and saw a pollen-like dust emanating from him. Also, his demon grubs were somewhat fatter, and possibly restless. What was about to happen to him?

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In Thrall

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Genevieve went in to Precinct 13 to talk with Victor, who presented to the police captains the night before. His speech went alright, but he used his newfound memory ability to capture the reaction of various opinion leaders. Frustrated by the lack of immediate support, he mulled over how to continue his actions to minimize the need for police backing, while Genevieve advised patience and continued cultivation of the police leadership.

Kinslton and Burr went back to Mumford Block to see Dan and tell him about the snake infestation coming to the city, and how the snake people had an interest in Mumford Block, advising caution on his part. He agreed to be careful, and gave them a tour of the new Mumford Block. It will be amazing when it is constructed!

While at sea, Emma told Adrian she wanted him to anonymously rent one of those subdivided old houses the artists crash in for a Kingsport summer season so she could try being a bohemian artist (with all the readily available back-ups of wealth and security.) He agreed.

Lydia Resists

Increasingly uncomfortable with her Tchulza capacity, Lydia read up on how to restrain anything that might want to take over and make her into an avatar. After some unsatisfying reading about how Elder Signs discourage possession, she read that fortifying places of power was humanity’s strongest resistance (rather than portable talismans) and her natural abilities would undo many of the proscribed remedies as soon as she teleported.

She took her problem to Kinslton and Burr, and they used the Elder Sign and the Key of Solomon to experiment with slowing down her teleportation ability (and discovered Ladder Mike was sometimes lairing in the attic of Kinslton’s brownstone.)

As they approached the time when Lydia was planning to meet with Indigo, she decided that since he was exerting supernatural influence over her and opening the way to a darker future, she did not trust him and did not want to meet with him after all. Staying dormed down and meditating, she resisted the grief and panic she felt that propelled her towards him, gritting her teeth and staying put.

Kinslton called in Genevieve, and Anna called in Pellwitch, and they saw Lydia’s emotional state. Genevieve, Kinslton, and Adrian decided to go to where Indigo was expecting to meet Lydia and have a chat about how this was not okay.

A Talk in the Park

In a Downtown park, Indigo waited for Lydia and instead met her friends. They told him they were not okay with his emotional control of her, and he wanted to talk to Lydia about it. He agreed to release her in a month, but the process was not cold turkey or easy, and he needed to have that control a little while longer.

Thoroughly unimpressed by his disregard for Lydia’s consent, and possibly well-being, the tone shifted in a more hostile direction. Indigo appeared to feel some repressed anger towards Genevieve, and when Kinslton threatened to use magic on him if he damaged the brownstone, that really offended Indigo. Where Adrian threatened him should he bring harm to Lydia. They left him sitting in the park in the rain.

A Trip to an Island

They went to Besquelle and caught a speedboat out to Baron Kennedov’s island, where the ancient vampire met with them. He appeared to be in h is 50s, wearing a peculiar alien style of clothing.

Genevieve told him about Lydia, and the warpstone, and the Tchulza avatar risk, and swapping blood with Indigo. Kennedov seemed restrained, but upset. What was the connection? He admitted that he was somewhat involved, fifty years ago, in the events that led up to Irina Favian’s death.

The head of the Tchulza cult, Cora, wanted to insure against him, so she seduced Indigo. That could not stand, and she had to be dealt with, and Indigo has not forgiven him for that. Grudges and such are different for vampires than they are for mortals, and fifty years is not nearly enough time for something like that to cool down. There is an element of revenge here.

While he did not share the whole story, that was all Kennedov told them, and he vanished into his castle. Nick Fetch was there to escort them out, and to reinforce the idea that this was uglier than the vampires were letting on.

Take Me to Church

They talked with Fr. Abrams at Favian Church, and he agreed to offer shelter. They took Genevieve’s umbra road to the church, emerging through a mirror inside a panel van near the Great Seal. Abrams drove them in, introducing Su and Marie, novices the Order assigned to him for a while. He also got a .50 cal he used to kill a snake monster that attacked the church.

Burr and Anna went on a food run while everyone else settled in. Uncomfortable with the Great Seal and holy ground, Kinslton haunted a gazebo on the grounds, and as he flew patrol he saw Indigo standing by the road concentrating. When dawn approached, Indigo withdrew through the forest, then dropped through the stream into the earth to hide for the day.

Genevieve released Kissynose the enchanted bat skeleton, and Kryptma returned it before dawn, coming into the church having outclassed Su (who tried to hold her at gunpoint.) How can we deal with the blood bond Lydia endures? Well, Kennedov is probably a 6th generation, so Indigo would be 7th; that’s powerful stuff.

Three options came to mind; repeated maxing out of power to burn out the influence in quantum energy. Would that threaten the dimension, since she could be an avatar of Tchulza? She’s not far enough down that road, she isn’t connected to that much power, she’s not drawing it from the cairn, Kryptma thinks it would be safe. Second, a rage philter that would last for a dozen hours and let a rage beast fight the bonding beast; Lydia would be wounded and exhausted by the end, but they could keep her alive and it would be much easier for her to eject the winner in that supernatural tussle. Or, go to some cleansing pool in the Umbra and negotiate usage.

They pondered the possibilities as the sun came up.

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Snake in the Grass

Monday, March 28, 2011

Adrian was out on a yacht cruise with Emma and Mugsy.

Genevieve and Anna went to work at Precinct 13, where Genevieve helped Victor work on his speech for Wednesday to the police captains of the precincts. He wanted her help in particular to get the captains on his side. Overall he’s been taking an aloof stance using proxies to speak for Precinct 13, showing what they could of meta treatment without divulging secrets, focusing on how they’re using best practices and industry standards as far as possible.

There have been 6 break-out attempts since the news; one was a PACON activist effort with no guns, easily subdued (and disavowed by the organization, as it does not condone criminal activity.) The Crush School tried one with a sniper shooting Lights-Out-ers rounds at gat bots, but it didn’t get anywhere before the intruders were captured. The break-in attempts bolster Commissioner Felton’s proposal to add drones to the Recon Team arsenal.

Lydia woke up in the boiler of a casino riverboat, where Indigo had offered to share dreams (and she doesn’t feel like doing that.) She teleported home, leaving Indigo there, and spent most of the day reading.

After spending her down time studying wizardry of the Mythos variety, Burr decided to do some day drinking with the Templar. She arrived at the Leaky Gasket to meet Keith, the new omega, and Tonya, the new beta, and to find the Templar overall in a sour mood with Artie the grouchiest of them.

Turns out a hot woman came in and was putting the moves on him, and he smacked her and threw her out. She smelled of serpent, and it got his guts in a knot, so he acted on instinct to reject her, but the incident left him unsettled.

Kinslton arrived later, and played some pool with the Templar.

Dan in Danger

Then a dapper demon named Charon introduced himself (bowler hat, monocle, pinstripe suit, goatee, gloves, all of it.) He was looking for Kinslton, and wanted to inform him that Dan Chauncey could be in some danger. That’s all.

Kinslton, Burr, and Artie drove over to Mumford Block, where Dan Chauncey (CEO of Gazelle Construction) was working on the site. Using his pull with the Chauncies, Kinslton got Dan down to talk with them.

Kinslton told Dan they knew about his demon deal, and a demon told them he was in trouble. He wasn’t happy they knew about any of that, but reluctantly revealed that he met a woman at lunch. (Artie smelled her on him.) It was the same woman that approached Artie, but Dan wasn’t cursed with lycanthropy, and didn’t pick up on the cues. Her name was Sandy, and they were going to meet at the Pierced Pig.

They told Dan to skip the supper, and they headed out.

Research

Kinslton researched what he could find on the Order of Set or snake things in the mythos. There was the obvious, with Yig, but beyond that dark talkes from the Delta of the Nile and New Orleans.

Burr read in occult books, finding how thaumaturgical traditions had distaste for snake worshipping cults of darkness and seduction, in part because they used drugs and blood sex magic instead of proper geometrical theorums and spells.

Both uncovered a broad variety of cults, from the Serpents of the Light to the Fangs in Darkness to the Corrupts, and on and on.

Genevieve went to the Veil in the Mausoleum, and found a heavily redacted entry from the 20s where apparently the Ghost fell to the charms of a snake cult briefly. She also found that the current Ghost, Ryan, had been password protecting his entries. She figured out a workaround to get into them.

He had many notes, but he was not as good at documentation as some previous Ghosts; they were notes for his use. He compiled a list of suspected targets for the snakes in Edgarton, including both Carruthers and the Favian Manor butler, and Anna as a weak point. Also Councilmen Sylvester Baker and Marguarite Smithton, police captain Gary Williams, Judge Angie Blockfort; what’s going on?

Suspects involved in snake activity included Dr. Arthur Mechior and his assistant, Lilly Sales.

He also had extensive interest in a code name FIRST CODE, which was a subject of the Comstock Project. All the original scientists on that project were dead, and many who had close friendships or professional interest in it were dead too. He was tracking out the expanding blood trails.

Angry that the Ghost wanted her help but did not trust her, Genevieve left the Ghost a note of where they’d be and what they’d be doing—after she changed his password.

The Pierced Pig

Burr and Artie ate inside, waiting, while Kinslton assumed bird form to keep a birds-eye view on the situation. Genevieve contacted the Ghost, who brought the Hearse. Kinslton spotted a black van with a black snake pattern on it, with two men inside after Sandy strutted out of the van to go into the restaurant.

They sent Artie to lure her outside as Kinslton assumed human form, loitering by the door, enchanting his weapon. Artie mastered his conflicted feelings to allow her to lure him into her trap, and as they headed outside, Kinslton sucker-punched her and Artie grabbed her as the Ghost shocked the van and took out the two inside it. They piled the prisoners in the Hearse. The Ghost had a terse conversation about Genevieve about the FIRST CODE and how it was about rewriting reality based on cognition, and how dangerous it could be to combine it with lycanthropes—but there wasn’t time for more conversation. The operation was over, and the Ghost had prisoners.

Genevieve and Lydia

Lydia texted and called Genevieve, who agreed to have a chat. They met in the Parlor of Relative Safety, and Lydia reviewed what Adrian told her about Tchulza. Genevieve filled in the part about how a previous incarnation of the Chalice Bearer, Irina Favian, had been Swashbuckler’s lover (before he was a pirate) and how when the cult of Tchulza tried to burn the Chalice Bearer out of all time, Swashbuckler saved the Chalice Bearer by killing Irina before the ritual completed. (Also Kennedov knows more about Irina.)

Mainly to say that it would be a bad idea to become an avatar of Tchulza. Also, Genevieve was uncomfortable with Indigo having the level of control he has over Lydia. Lydia took the grim news, and needed to mull it over.

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Memories of Skyfall

About a week after the last session, Lydia and Adrian met for coffee, and Adrian caught her up on what the group had been up to. Lydia was going to investigate her current connection to the cairn site, and Adrian agreed to help when she called.

Lydia worked with Morris Pennywise, who discovered that Mother Wolf had stripped out the various energy signatures from Lydia to get right into her core. Living things add rings to their energy, like trees do in their cross section, and Mother Wolf managed to remove a lot of that and tamper with Lydia’s core. The only surgeons that are highly skilled (and you don’t want an amateur) tend to be super-evil, because messing with a living thing’s life organization this way requires a certain type.

Visiting the Cairn

Morris offered to lead them in the back door to the cairn to see what changed, and Adrian agreed to go along. They traveled through the Umbra and found the back section; instead of it being earthen, with veins of metal and stone and roots, it was all dank concrete. They found their way into a service passage between foundations, and up into a horrible industrial cube farm sort of building.

Lydia realized they were inhabiting her memory of Skyfall, the lab where she was raised. The orderlies were spirits, maybe reskinnings of Mother Wolf’s puppies. They navigated to her room, and she commanded the spatial relations of the place with authority even though her quantum powers were shut off here.

She talked to Her Doctor, a goateed man who was overintellectualized and secretive, and he helped her get some insights into this place (as did Morris.) She came to understand that dimensions were buttressed from the inside outward, as opposed to normal space which built from the ground up. The collapse in a dimension was always from the outside to the middle. And the center anchor of this place was moved into Lydia, so the whole dimension was now unstable and wanted to stabilize by replacing her life energy in its center. She understood that to be the testing room, and was in no hurry to get strapped in somewhere she could not escape.

They moved to the day room, for food and crafts. She got on a computer and used its interface to understand more. The spirit power was indicated by key cards, those were the center of each manifestation and symbols of their power. From black at the bottom, up through the colors to the highest access, diamond—the only access that would let her come and go freely. Only one other entity had diamond level, and that would be the new powerful spirit guardian that came here, since Mother Wolf was allowed to escape. With the high level of warpstone poisoning, the new guardian was guaranteed to be a bane spirit—not one they wanted to meet.

Adrian and Lydia also noticed she was logged in as Tchulza—but they would talk about that later. In the meantime, she decided that she would not settle for a counterfeit access, but she wanted a legitimate maximum access clearance. Morris agreed to help her do it, but warned her the cost was steep. She lost a permanent Will point, and gained a diamond access card. Now she could come and go through the front gate of the installation.

They marched right out the front, past the spirit guards and vicious attack dogs, and surfaced through the pool by Old Man Marcher’s place (now a skeletal ruin, but the cairn keeper’s cottage was still marginally intact.)

Tchulza Rising

Later, back at the yacht, Lydia and Adrian had a discussion of Tchulza, and the power of that mythos god who tried to burn a hole in the protections of Prime, and was sworn to destroy the Chalice Bearer forever. Lydia was forced to contemplate the possibility she was being cultivated as an avatar of a mythos god.

As a side note, they also put together that “Dr. Garver” was a senior scientist at Skyfall, and also one of the lead scientists working on cycling darkshell embryos through Burninator.

Lydia spent the rest of her time off cultivating her friendship with Olivia, building up her memory, and doing some research as she tended the other aspects of her life.

She did have disturbing dreams of the cells in Skyfall and herself as warden of them, with spirit guards, where she tore timespace to go straight into her cairn space. She woke from those dreams with steamy breath and ambiguous feelings…

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Build a Better Metatrap

Sunday, 2.20.11

After Kinslton gave the story to the reporter, he called him back and threatened him, telling him not to print it until he heard back from Kinslton, or the vigilante would refuse to corroborate the story.

The vigilantes of the Inspecters met at the Justice Dome that night, responding to Kinslton’s invitation. The corax wizard explained that he grew up in captivity for his first 16 years, property of a mad wizard who cultivated his family in an attempt to get more corax he could sell to other wizards as familiars. He managed to escape, but his parents were killed. He was found in the Kings Borough of London by the Brotherhood of the Road, and ended up with the name Kinslton as some sort of abbreviation. He then learned mythos magic, and when he was strong enough, he returned to the wizard’s lair and killed him for revenge, beginning a time of wizard assassination in his life that led him to Edge City.

So, when he found out how Growlback and other metas were being tortured in captivity, he could not allow it to continue. He asked the Inspecters to take over the role of meta containment, instead of trusting Precinct 13 and the Recon Teams.

Victor was furious that Kinslton went to the press and “outed” meta torture, condemning all the work of the Recon Teams without even consulting him. He pointed out metas are even less likely to surrender if they think they’re being tortured, and pointed out this was hard on the public relations spaces they all have to deal with. In the end, he flew away to go deal with spin with his PR team.

As part of the ongoing discussion, Swashbuckler was protective of the journalist; the story is given out, no backsies now. Burninator insisted there had to be more thinking through alternatives, especially before trashing what’s already in place, because the need is real and immediate and if we don’t go with Precinct 13 we have to have another plan in place. Genevieve pointed out Victor was going to be targeted when it was time for metas to be discredited as vigilantes in the city and she was in place to keep the door open and maybe salvage the situation when that happened. It also came up that restraining metas is hard. The Ghost didn’t say anything until the end, when he encouraged Kinslton to come up with a better plan. Through it all, Alpha Wolf was very supportive of Kinslton.

Overall the group was unimpressed by his “fire ready aim” approach, but generally sympathetic to his goal of human meta storage even if he hadn’t through through any of the details of potential obstacles or alternatives. It was up to him to solidify their tolerance into support, or evaporate it.

Downtime to Monday, March 28, 2011.

Genevieve maintained her commitments and hunted for Alecia, thinking about seeing if it would be wise to draw her back to the city and re-integrate her with the Chauncies or not. Her investigative powers did not turn Alecia up, as she has been globe trotting under the radar. From the west coast she went to Asia, to Hong Kong and points north of that, traveling around to Italy—the trail was erratic and difficult to follow from half the world away. Psychic scanning did not reveal her either.

Adrian spent much of his time meditating with the Brindalyn Slayer Suit, closing in on the next piece while his bodyguard stood over him. It took weeks, but he finally located it in a magically warded room, in a pool, in a box, under Torpedo Bay. He found the helmet. He worked with Teddy to get a persona put together for the Talisman, including a tac net and some knock-out spray gas in gauntlets. He also went to th American Southwest with Mugsy and killed a necromancer who had a vulture and a couple apprentices, they were animating a biker gang and terrorizing the Brotherhood of the Road. Adrian sorted them out, and in exchange he got a glove with only one finger, and it served as an interdimensional space where he could store his staff.

Kinslton worked with the Brotherhood of the Road and got together with the Masters of Liepzeig, a group of 12 powerful mythos wizards. They created a cyst gate in the basement of the ruined arcology in Torpedo Bay, with a massive ritual involving over 200 chanting participants as well as the Masters all channeling through Kinslton. The cyst gate has 5 spots on the dial, addresses that correspond to 4 cyst prisons built on the wall of the deep umbra, taking inspiration from the lairs of dimensional shamblers. Crafting the gate (which can only be used by mythos wizards, using a minor ritual that can be taught) and the address cysts connected to coordinates absorbed his full time, energy, and favors for the five weeks.

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Cashing Out

Saturday, 2.19.2011

(I waited too long before doing a write-up. Some important bits follow.)

  • They are introduced to the Ghost’s new friend, Artemis, an archer and light manipulator.
  • Adrian got the Ghost’s permission to talk to the crossroads demon in captivity, and he exorcised her; it was easier than expected, and a corpse was left behind.
  • Adrian got a load of books that might refer to the Noon Road delivered to Kinslton’s library.
  • Lydia takes Olivia shopping for clothes, then they enjoy Thai food together.
  • Adrian takes Emma out, they go frog eating, then shopping in Craven Bottoms. They are at an antique car show when Growlback robs it. He almost gets away, but the Recon Teams stick with him, and he ends up in a wrecked ship in the docks. The Reconstruction Agent fights him, and gets kicked around pretty hard; they eventually bring Growlback down and take him home, with Kinslton and Genevieve looking on. (Adrian didn’t keep up with the fight, but did notice some observers watching the fight as though it was a test.) Genevieve followed up on this by looking back in time and identified Carson Vanderbilt, one of the Bertinelli crime family’s fixers, watching Growlback fight to escape. There was an extra roof camera. Genevieve looked back in time to see an Edgarton Power and Light employee put it in place, but he wasn’t recognized.
  • Doc Williams, the mad doctor of the Recon Teams, was taken out of the rotation of those supervising the Kids with the Recon Teams, the mutant brother and sister. Victor made the change in response to advice from Genevieve and Kinslton.
  • Lydia researches “Tchulza” in various spellings in various occult and history books and doesn’t find anything that matches the words. Indigo muttered the word when they were making out, and he told her it means “chosen” but she’s looking for independent verification, because something about the word unsettles her.
  • Genevieve visits the Shell Clan, and goes to the Bone Room, an ossuary made of skelebot parts. She plays “punchball,” a made-up ninja sport, and also consults with the jonin while he’s on snuff. He mutters something about “the green flame is rising in the city.”
  • Kinslton followed Growlback in to check on how they kept him imprisoned. He was affected by seeing the way the Recon Teams drilled into his skull, and kept his regeneration hampered so he couldn’t get away. Kinslton decided to resign from the Recon Teams altogether.
  • Kinslton found the cub reporter he first granted an interview, Billy, and told him he was now against Precinct 13 because of their mishandling of prisoners. But, he clarified, he was not against their overall mandate. He wanted to disassociate himself from Precinct 13, and he cited treatment of Growlback as why. He refused to comment on other vigilantes.
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Active Blood

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Exiting the Mausoleum

Kinslton was let out of Tarasuko’s cage by the Ghost, who thanked him. However, he wasn’t sure how to let Kinslton out and protect the secret of his lair. He decided to put a bag on his head and take him out in the jet, then he took the bag off, they flew some fun maneuvers, and the Ghost opened his canopy so he was sucked out over the city. He turned into a bird and flew home, still unsure of where the Mausoleum might be.

Flaming Motel Horror Show

Adrian and Burr watched over the motel, and the only activity was a scruffy man leaving some hours before dawn, walking into a field and dropping into the earth. Otherwise, the sun came up fine, and only some mastiffs covered in dry blood and viscera stood guard.

Adrian checked the place out using magical stealth, finding a horror show of death and carelessness and filth. He effortlessly executed the mastiffs at close range with magic, and he and Burr used cloth and gas salvaged from the parking lot to burn down the motel with the vampires inside, staying to make sure all four were dead and the place was thoroughly burned.

The evidence that Adrian found before torching the place was an abused and filthy spiral notebook full of scribbled rune shapes, doodles, and the name “Zakoth.”

Nalla’s New Sword

Previously they were notified that Dougles Singleton was found beheaded at a rest stop 30 miles out of town. Lydia felt determined to do something about Nalla, checking in with Fr. Abrams to find that Nalla (who he considered somewhat arrogant) was back at her home in the stacks.

Lydia visited her there, and again heard from Nalla that her plan was to use cars, guns, and if need be her tits to foil would-be attackers until she could get away and hide behind police or holy ground. Lydia persuaded her to at least come train with her machete a little. She checked with Genevieve for permission to use the ninja ballroom to train.

After some exchanges where Nalla won a little and Lydia won some more, Lydia had a heart to heart to explain how protecting longevity through doing better with swords was important. She underscored her point when she gave the katana she inherited from the immortal to Nalla, who was flabbergasted by such a fine gift, and somewhat shamed into trying to do better.

Day in the Life

Genevieve was at work with the Recon Teams and she saw the new armor rolling out for agents who work side by side with GAT bots; matte black plastic with a skull face and retractable wrist blades, pretty sweet stuff. She got a call from her butler that a monkey wanted to talk to her.

She went home to talk to the monkey, who dragged a dry erase board in and wrote on it to converse. The monkey was mind controlled by Shrimpshell, who wanted to talk to Genevieve to see if they were going to have a problem. (It was annoying that Genevieve was tearing through her cypher defenses to identify her. Shrimpshell was a meta capable of mind control, so she was using the monkey as a sock puppet.)

In exchange for keeping the secrets Geneveive learned about her, Shrimpshell offered information that the Christmas hit on the Luddite was sponsored by Weyland Incorporated. They parted somewhat neutral.

New Houseguest

Kinslton found Lucille on the porch; Alpha Wolf told her where he lived, and she came to visit. Her place burned down and she needed a place to crash for one night. She was in awe of his place, and his butler, and his fresh and real Miracle Whip, and later she played the piano while Burr was napping (she claimed to have been a piano tuner once.)

He gave her some rules. Stay out of the basement, stay out of the attic, and no playing the piano if anyone else (except Carruthers) is home.

That Symbol

The one in the gross notebook was an effort to pin down the shifting visual glyph like what the GAT bot pictures found, that Kinslton brought to Adrian. Using her puzzle skill and looking at the 25 pictures, Burr narrowed it down to 6 of the runes that this one might be; the ones in the picture would not be accurate either, after all.

Meanwhile, Kinslton and Genevieve did some research and found out that Zakoth was in one of the European witch hammer books of monsters, an old threat (probably a vampire) in Western Europe 300 years ago. (After the research, Lucille jumped Kinslton on the sturdy library table while Burr was elsewhere.)

Genevieve and Adrian took the Zakoth information to the Veil and looked it up in reference to the Enigmist, an arcanist who worked with the Ghost.

They found that the Enigmist once partnered for a couple years with Spiderjewel, a Shadow. She had the Oathbound, a network of agents. The Ghost did not trust her, so the Enigmist was the go-between and he vouched for her. He created the symbols that the GAT bots found, for the Spiderjewel and her agents.

In 1968 the city defenders encountered the Luminarians, agents of Zakoth the Subterranean. The Luminarians had a reliquary with some “active blood” of Zakoth’s, they were part of a larger effort to conduct a ritual or something. The Enigmist and Spiderjewel thwarted the Luminarians (most of whom were not vampires) and took the reliquary, hiding it away behind one of the sigils.

Genevieve pursued it further, seeing that the next year there was a falling out between the Enigmist and the Spiderjewel, and the shadow died somehow; the scanned in typed pages were not always cross-referenced very well, and she decided not to keep after it.

Genevieve checked the camera feed for what the Ghost was up to and saw him ambush a ninja, rip off its head covering and then its face skin, and jam some kind of spike into one of its robotic eyes to download information to the Veil.

Then they researched Weyland Inc. The CEO is Dr. Lance, a physicist. Their tagline was “Cleaner, Safer, Brighter.” The company was into alternative energy and cutting-edge battery technology, with solar farms and kite farms and wave farms all harvesting energy, and a deep sea facility powered by waves. They bought the Yutani “energy harmonics” division for 7 billion, including an underground facility in St. Louis that in fact does extend under the St. Louis Arch.

About that point, a cute woman dressed only in a man’s dress shirt wandered sleepily in, and was startled to not find the Ghost; she retreated fast back into the Mausoleum. Genevieve and Adrian used her shaman powers to leave as well.

Social Times with Indigo

Kinslton went with Lydia to meet Indigo, who was playing sad music to casino losers in Besquelle. They went to the Oyster Bar and he played music while they enjoyed the scene. At one point Kinslton told him Kennedov was upset with Indigo focusing on one food source, but Indigo shrugged that off and continued to do his own thing. Later, Indigo and Lydia teleported out, and Kinslton went home.

As Indigo was feeding from Lydia in the privacy of his loft, he murmured “Tchulza” and explained it meant “Chosen” in another language.

Back at the Brownstone

Alpha Wolf dropped by just to get loaded up on stories of inappropriate things Lucille did in the brownstone, which he found hilarious, and rushed back to the Leaky Gasket to retell. Burr told him what had been going on, from the Miracle Whip to the piano and some of the silly things Lucille was up to. As she headed off to nap she spotted Lucille lurking in earshot.

Painting

At one point in there Adrian went home and visited his wife, who was in her underwear painting something abstract; Adrian saw in it the Hyades cluster with one star prominent, and the pattern like high-speed travel through the Umbra. Nice work, dear, and he was off to play with his friends.

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To Catch a Ninja

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

At work with the Recon Teams, Genevieve finds out about Silas Monty, an agent who was picked up in the wee hours wandering the streets out of his head with paranoia and hallucinations. Kinslton and Genevieve track him back to an Irish bar, where they find he was with a pale woman in the bathroom before he went out of his head and left. A barfly soaks them for a little more money to find out that the woman was questioning him about symbols, and Monty gave up Kinslton’s name. They get a picture of her. Apparently if she looks a victim in the eye she can provoke madness.

She stole a car that was left in a theater parking lot near Feducci’s, and Adrian joins them. Lydia comes for lunch too. They find that Lipless, an information broker, told her that the local wizard that Kinslton might consult for magical things would be Adrian.

Cross referencing some rust found in the bar and some cargo containers in the junkyard by Feducci’s and the nearby abandoned car, they found some cargo containers and located some boobytraps and escape tunnels where the vampire was lairing.

While it was day, they breached the container and Lydia used her powers to immobilize the vampire, and they told her to leave town. Then they left, with Adrian and Burr watching over the site.

After sundown, the vampire left, and they followed her to a motel dozens of miles out of town, off the beaten track, where a vampire pack had killed everyone and taken the place over. Upset that the vampire scout Frostvein had not succeeded in her mission, the leader of the vampires shot her in the head with a shotgun and went inside; she unsteadily followed. Burr and Adrian resolved to keep an eye on the situation.

Ninja Trap

The Ghost contacted Lydia and asked her to take charge of a mission to capture Tarasuko, a dangerous zen archer ninja. He had her location, and wanted Lydia to pull in whatever help she wanted so they could get her. Lydia invited Burninator, who figured he had time but had somewhere to be afterwards, as well as Genevieve, Anna, and Kinslton.

Turns out Tarasuko was a high-end car salesperson with Murad Motors, with other ninja also in sales with her. As she left work, they ambushed her; Wraith opened a gate to the stun grenade trap in the Mausoleum, and Kinslton rushed her into it in his giant bird attack form. Tarasuko shrugged off the stun grenades that fried Tarasuko. Job well done.

Vigil

Afterwards, Burninator, Wraith, Genevieve, and Anna went to the Halloway Yacht Club where Tidelia was deep underwater holding vigil on the two year anniversary of the Regatta Massacre where she killed dozens of people.

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