During a 5 week down time ending on December 22, various things happened.
Kinslton spent time hanging out with Alpha Wolf and Shadow Creeper. He also leveraged his Brotherhood of the Road contacts to train in city knowledge with Sideways Neil, a night-time taxi driver who was into dosing him with psychedelic drugs. He also trained in stealth with Ladder Mike, another Brotherhood contact, who specialized in theft from high rises usually using a window washing rig as the entry point. They played stalking games in abandoned buildings to increase Kinslton’s understanding of how to be stealthy.
Adrian spent time with the Tutor, studying transmogrification. He also spent significant time with Five Stones, and undertook a mission for them to Paris to oversee some diplomacy using his reputation and power to keep things civil. And he tended his other commitments.
Genevieve spent time with the police, and the Recon teams, and Morris. The rest of the time, she studied Dyrnwyn, the bauble, in the light of the Spellbook of Llyr. She discovered she could use the light to raise or lower the Gauntlet by a step. She also discovered the Tower of Llyr, a pocket dimension in the Deep Umbra she could only access through the light of Dyrnwyn. She could return to where she left, or to a designated location. She entered the tower through a hallway, and chose a door with a crane on it, so her tower takes the form of an ancient crumbling dojo and the Tower’s Heart looks like a stone table, and the servants there appear to be monks. Genevieve also trained in subterfuge with the Gray Ghost.
Lydia spent most of her free time away from the bookstore training hard in Dormancy, becoming an expert in five short weeks.
Burr spent time with the Templar and working for the Order. The Templar let her train with Loup de Loup, a famous getaway driver for the Chauncies. He was old and stiff, but still a vicious driver, and he taught her a lot about precision driving. She also trained with Master Dosk, a retired monster hunter with the Order. He taught her further melee combat techniques.
They also learned that Luddite is a new smuggler with the Underground, selling Lights-out-ers bullets that fry any circuitry they hit. Shadow Creeper captured GAT bots and sells them to Luddite, who takes the credit and sells LO rounds to Skiff at $100 a round. The Bounders have been sniping GAT bots in South Settler, frustrating Seertech, who have petitioned to use drones to hunt for the snipers. So far the city has not issued a permit.
Frustrated by the mounting expense of the war on GAT bots and the city’s financial obligations involved in the lost equipment, a police captain issued a $500,000 bounty on Luddite—a rare measure, but one that may become more common. The Gray Ghost will neither help or hinder efforts to stop Luddite. The Ghost does know bounty hunters will make the effort, and that could cause trouble.
The Bertinelli Crime Family has a bounty out for GAT bots, and the best mech hunters are called “cyberhunters” and given special gear. The Bertinellis also repurposed an industrial park in Foscoe Bay and call it the “Crush School” and there they have hands-on training for how to use cars, water, electricity, and construction equipment to stop GAT bots.
Davis Markham has started a movement called PACON, People Against Cybernetic Organism Normalization. Detractors call them the “vibrators.” Markham’s parents were influential proponents of conserving Edge City culture, but they died in the Regatta Massacre. The group is working on legislation to revoke robotics legalization, working within the system. Their points include noting the threat automation of jobs poses to automobile and garment industries, threatening the economic core of the city.
The Dusk Clan is apparently behind the new criminal outfit, the Rising Dragon. The Recon Teams have prioritized infiltrating their leadership and taking out the leaders. The outfit operates in eastern Torpedo Bay and has some friction with the Bertinellis.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010. Kinslton and Burr hosted a Christmas party at the brownstone. Indigo came, playing the music for the event. Most of the Inspectors came—all but Swashbuckler (who sent Treasure Chest) and the Ghost. Even Victor dropped by to gift the party with a bottle of wine before returning to his duties.
Alpha Wolf invented the “bro-smashing” of crushing empties against Kinslton’s face while Kinslton did the same to him—their bonding activity. Also, Kinslton’s meta containment dungeon of fun was named the “fungeon.” By the end of the night, they strapped the 7 foot decorated tree to Alpha Wolf’s motorcycle, and he drove it to a halfway house where released convicts can live with their kids, and set it up in their lobby.
Lydia left the party with Indigo, they had a cozy platform over an opera stage to have some quiet time away from it all.
Genevieve and Anna took Mugsy home to enjoy his giant beef stick and wheel of cheese from his boss Adrian. Then they headed to Favian Manor to call it a night.
Kinslton, Burr, and Shadow Creeper decided to check in with Luddite the next evening to see if any bounty hunters showed up.
The next day, Kinslton prepared for the outing by buying Shadow Creeper a horrifically tacky Christmas sweater. When he gave it to her, she tried to say something nice, then absorbed it into her shadows.
Genevieve and Lydia were not interested in this errand, so it was just Burr, Kinslton, and Shadow Creeper closing in on Baron’s Pier the following night. As Kinslton watched over the proceedings, Shadow Creeper took Burr and went into the basement of an abandoned hotel, where she met with an Englishman who bought the GAT bots and laid in credit for Skiff to buy more LO rounds later. Shadow Creeper melted away, and Burr walked out, perching on her bike in a side lot.
Kinslton spotted a strange mini-blimp with sensors, and he took it out with his demon raven claws. Shortly after, a cherry-red armored stretch limo showed up, as did a massive 8 billion dollar war machine power armor suit tricked out to look like a 8 meter tall Santa.
The mech used a mini gun and flamer to lay waste to the hotel’s protections, and three people from the limo strode in to collect Luddite. Meanwhile, Kinslton tangled with Santa, able to resist the minigun and flamer, but desperate once grabbed by the implacable grip. Kinslton fought Santa to a standstill while also trying to protect Burr and stop the limo using a variety of spells. As a last resort, he used the Dread Curse and slew the pilot of the armor.
Meanwhile, as the limo tried to escape and Kinslton tried to stop it, Burr got involved and drove her motorcycle to intercept. Santa gunned her down, injuring her and trashing her bike, but she survived. A mutant got out of the limo and swelled up to 4 meters or so tall, with white fur, basically the Bumble. Kinslton’s shrivelling spell dried it off pretty good but didn’t do any lasting damage.
Burr forced the driver to go by ramming the witchblade through the back of the driver’s seat, and the Bumble chased as Kinslton fought Santa. Eventually the driver fired a gun through the back of the seat, missing Burr, and she stabbed him again, provoking him to stagger off while he still could. The Bumble tore a door off the limo and grabbed her out; badly hurt, she managed to escape and run away, healing up with impossible speed.
They put out a distress call, answered by Lydia (who needed a few minutes to suit up and teleport out there) and Burninator (who would drive as fast as he could, but was some minutes out.) Fortunately, with Santa burst and Kinslton squaring off against the Bumble, Kinslton and the Bumble had a heartfelt conversation about the ennui of it all, and Kinslton let the Bumble slope off into the city.
Lydia arrived, teleporting up to see where the villains might have gone. They apparently left out the back. Burr investigated the limo quickly, finding a short wave radio. They all went into the hotel, finding lots of corpses; they looted some bandoliers of explosives, and saw that the LO rounds had been taken. Kinslton also found Shadow Creeper, who retreated after Mz. Claws impaled her with one hit. Kinslton healed her up. Kinslton herded most of the weapons together and blew them up. Burr and Kinslton each took a Piranha assault rifle.
Burninator arrived, and went with them to pursue the bounty hunters.
They went to the mall, where the retreating bounty hunters took Luddite (his body was not among the fallen.) Kinslton had an exchange with one of the bounty hunters. They followed the trail and found that the bounty hunters escaped, but their prey, the Luddite, had gotten away from them. He was injured, but hiding behind a Mr. Trashy. Kinslton did not heal him up; they took no action regarding him at all, and instead retreated from the battleground.
Shadow Creeper put a big shadow over the power armor to hide it until the Ghost could pick it up, so Burr made her a care package from the less damaged snacks in the limo. Then they called it a night.