Occult Investigations Agency "The Gift of Bacchus"

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Occult Investigations Agency "The Gift of Bacchus"

Post by kipling » Fri May 05, 2006 7:42 pm

Below is the first half of the first adventure for my Freedom City mystics campaign. It makes use of material that I've been talking about in the Magic in Freedom City thread under Settings. This is a PL7 game; they don't know that Eldrich exists. Rather than explain any of the rest of it, let's hope you can pick it up from context.

Domestic Dispute, Part 1

"Lamb, Toomey, this is our new employee, Jedediah Cabot," said A. Martin Campbell in the offices of the Occult Investigations Agency. "Jed, that will be your desk." Cabot winced. Campbell went on. "Cabot has excellent references and already has his PI license." Cabot noted that the agency was emphasizing "occult" rather than "investigations."

"Hello," Cabot said.

Lamb Hutton, a big raw-boned woman in a plain dress, stood from her chair and curtsied. Toomey grunted, a surly midget or dwarf in a brown suit. Neither shook Cabot's hand.

Cabot stuck his hand in his pocket. "Nice to meet you."

"You'll be pleased to hear that gentleman who was just leaving is our first client, Mr. Campbell," said Toomey in a thick Irish brogue. "A Mr. Brogan." No, thought Campbell, Toomey wasn't a standard midget or dwarf--he was too well-proportioned. He was a little man.

Hutton said, "He wants us to find his wife. He says there's no history of abuse. We got it on the form." Her voice was a scratchy contralto.

"May I?" asked Cabot as he picked up the form, covered in fine cramped copperplate. "Did you ask him what he did time for?"

"What does that mean?" asked Hutton.

"He was probably in prison. The build, the look, the suit--it's a typical going away gift from the state. Did he say why she left him?"

"They argued."

"About?"

"He didn't say."

"Did he leave a picture?"

"Two. Show him, Toomey." The short Irishman handed over two charcoal sketches of a woman. One was a headshot and the other was a nearly complete portrait, from the shins up. "He's an artist." She said it as though it excused sins.

"But he has trouble drawing feet," said Toomey. "Still, that's a pretty lass, and I'd be wanting to win her back myself."

"But no photo?"

"She was against photos, he said."

"I don't know how you guys do this in Freedom City, but back in Vegas we would see this as odd." Cabot tsked once.

"Why?" she asked.

Before Cabot could respond, Campbell said, "Miss Hutton grew up in a remote religious community. She really is new to all of this."

"Yesterday I saw a tractor. You know, if we had had one of those, I wouldn't have had to do all of the ploughing myself."

Cabot decided she was joking.

"She is, however, an expert in certain kinds of magic and witchcraft."

"And you?" Cabot asked the little man.

"My name's Toomey. I guard wine cellars."

"Mr. Toomey's specialty is faerie and myth."

"I'm sure it is," said Cabot. "So I'm the actual investigator?"

"Among your other gifts."

"You have gifts?" asked Hutton.

"Hunches. That's all. I have hunches sometimes."

"Mr. Cabot knows a great deal about psychic phenomena. We also have Mr. Markur, an expert in demonology, and I'm trying to hire a voodoo expert."

"Great," said Cabot. "Gotta cover all the bases."

"Where is that sulphurous bastard Markur?" asked Toomey.

"That's not very nice, Toomey."

"No, literally. His parents never married."

Campbell said, "He's gone to get his beginner's licence. I'm sure he'll be in soon. Congratulations on the first case--Mr. Cabot, it seems you came on board just in time. I'll see you at the end of the week with paycheques." And with back slaps all around, Campbell left.

"So you're the real investigator," said Toomey.

"I didn't mean it that way."

"Would you like a little arm wrestle then, just to settle a question of manhood?"

"I don't see how that's going to prove anything about being an investigator."

"For fun." The Irishman's eyes glinted in the fluorescent lights.

"Why don't we work on Mr. Brogan's case instead? We'll do what work we can over the phone first."

"For honour."

Cabot sighed. "All right." They went into the boardroom, where the Irishman laid on the table. Cabot put his arm up. Hutton counted--"one two three go!"--and the Irishman slammed Cabot's knuckles to the table.

"Ye didn't try!"

"Of course not. If a three-foot Irishman challenges you to an arm wrestle, he's either very strong or very stupid. I am going on faith that as my co-worker you can't be stupid. Don't make me change my mind."

Cabot stood to leave the room. Damned if he was going to rub his knuckles when the little man could see him. They hurt.

"Where are ye going?"

"I want to get started on the Brogan case. So I'm going to my desk."

Hutton shyly said, "Can we watch?"

"I-- Oh, all right."

A dozen phone calls later, Cabot said, "Okay. They'll fax me Brogan's record when they find it. HR at Wolfram Quarry said he's always handed his material in on time but wouldn't give me details on his history, which is good of them but a nuisance for us. The Brogans didn't belong to any clubs, and I'm no closer to finding her social security number. According to Brogan, it was a common-law marriage, but he claims she took his last name. If so, it was informal, because there's no record of it."

"Is that legal?" asked Hutton.

"Sure. You can call yourself whatever you want if there's no intent to defraud. This is Freedom City--there are lots of folks calling themselves the crimson this and the golden that, and it's perfectly legal. What I can't figure out is how she's getting by without a birth certificate or social security number. She's only been gone a week, but based on what Brogan gets paid, she couldn't have had much money."

"What does that mean?"

"Either she's staying with friends, or she's doing something where she gets paid cash."

"Or barter. We used barter."

"Yeah, I look at her pictures and I think of a kind of barter. First we check the neighbours."

Markur still wasn't back. Cabot decided that the odds of another customer coming in were low, and said, "Ms. Daya can handle anyone who comes in. Come on, you two. The state requires you to have a thousand hours of on the job training with a licensed PI, so it's time to start hour two. We can take my car." He stopped. "Mr. Toomey, I don't suppose you have a booster seat?"

* * *

The Brogans lived in a small duplex in a low-rent suburb. Cabot looked at the house from the curb. "They must have been the only family in the neighbourhood without kids."

"Kids are nice," said Hutton. "I prefer children."

Cabot started to say something and then said, "They had goats in your community?"

"And sheep and cows. But I liked playing with the children."

"I'm sure you did."

"Do you have children?"

"No. They died."

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"No. Let's start with the neighbours. You get to watch, okay? Don't talk."

"But--"

"It's a learning experience."

At least Toomey didn't have any problems keeping up with his short little legs. He rang the bell. A young woman answered it, neat and tidy but tired-looking. A young mother, probably. Cabot was uncomfortably aware of how odd they looked.

"Hi, we're looking for April Brogan."

"Are you bill collectors?"

"No. Actually, we're private investigators. Well, I am. These two are watching me today."

"You're actors?" she said. "I love the Mongo books."

Toomey blinked at her.

"Yes, he is." Cabot gestured diffidently. "I asked them not to talk."

"That's okay," she said.

"I'm not an actor," said Toomey.

"Yes sir, Mr. Toomey, you're a star. I know, sir," said Cabot to Toomey as he wished the little man's shins weren't such a small target for kicking. "He's not a character actor. Can we come in?"

"Sure. Mind the children's toys. It's naptime."

"Oh, I love children," said Hutton.

"You're an actor, too?"

"No, I'm a heretic. I got thrown out."

"Method actors," said Cabot heartily. "Did you know April?"

"Sure," said the woman. "I'm Tracy McLeod." She held out her hand. Cabot shook it. The other two didn't seem to notice.

"You're Scottish?" asked Toomey, perhaps a touch belligerently.

"No, my husband's family. You're going to have to tone down that accent to get the part of Mongo."

"He doesn't have the part yet," said Cabot, "and he's here to watch, not talk." If Toomey noticed, he gave no sign.

"Can I offer you guys coffee?"

"No, that's fine," said Cabot.

"Do you have wine?" asked Toomey.

"Oh, I don't drink alcohol," said Hutton.

"Just a bottle of pink zinfandel."

"I'll take a look at it," said Toomey.

"Can we get back on task, Mr. Toomey?" Cabot said, "We won't take up much of your time, Mrs. McLeod. Can you tell us about April?"

"Well, pretty thing. Kind of...ignorant. No, that makes you think she was rude, and she wasn't. Innocent, that's what she was. You'd swear she was born yesterday the way she acted sometimes."

"Did she have a thing about being photographed?"

Mrs. McLeod nodded. "Among other things. Shoes, too. She never showed her feet. Even sunbathing in the yard, she always wore slippers or shoes. And she never gained weight. She could eat what she wanted, do whatever she wanted, and she always looked the same."

Cabot nodded. "Did the Brogans argue?"

"Oh, sure, they got into some regular donnybrooks"--she smiled at Toomey. "But they pretty much always made it up again, though I got the impression that it was always his choice of a way to make up."

"Oh?"

"Well, she called him His Nibs sometimes when she was ticked at him, and even though she knew she had a body that was just built for men to ride--and sometimes she acted it, too--it never seemed to be the thing on her mind."

"So she wasn't...active?"

"Well, they were, but I never got the sense she, you know, started anything."

"You were close?"

"We were neighbours. Sharing a wall, you share other things."

"Did she have any friends or family that you knew of?"

Mrs. McLeod shook her head. "None she ever talked about."

"Hobbies?"

"She liked cartoons. The older ones, not the new computer ones. Preferred them in a movie theater, but they have a lot on DVD."

"Did she go out to see them often?"

"Well, he was home three days a week, working. He's an artist. And the government man comes every month."

"And?"

"Just once I heard him with the government man, I heard him yelling, 'You want me to strip naked? Okay. I'll strip naked. No tattoos.' I don't see what's so wrong with tattoos. I mean, I have a tattoo."

Hutton perked up and in an attempt to keep them on track, Cabot said, "That's all? Did you see her leave?"

"Well, she took a cab."

"You remember the date? The cab company?"

"Sure. It was the twelfth, because I had to take a cab to get Joey--my youngest--to the doctor. I thought her cab was our cab. We missed the bus and you know how long it takes to get a doctor's appointment."

"How is he now?" asked Hutton.

"Oh, he's fine, thanks. It was an FC Taxi, about three o'clock that afternoon because the appointment was three thirty."

"Thank you. You've been very kind. If you think of anything else, here's my card."

"Oh, you're welcome. It's not every day that actors and private investigators come to call." She disappeared into the kitchen for a moment and met them at the front door. "Here's the wine, Mr. Toomey."

Toomey held the bottle for a moment and then gave it back. "Because you've been so kind, this is a good bottle."

"Why--thank you."

Outside, Toomey said, "Are we not going back to the embarrassment of your car and the booster seat?"

"No, we have more neighbours to question."

"That was very subtle, Mr. Toomey," said Hutton.

"Thank ye."

"What?" asked Cabot.

"Did ye not feel it?" asked Toomey.

"No, what?"

"I improved her wine. Not for nothing am I a guardian of wine cellars."

"Riiight. I thought you were going to drink it."

Toomey shuddered. "Even with my help, it's a mediocre vintage. But she meant well."

"She did," said Cabot.

"So back to the office?" asked Hutton.

"No. We ask the same sorts of questions of everyone on the block."

"This is as bad as farming."

* * *

"My feet hurt," said Toomey, back in the office.

"You need better shoes if you're going to be an investigator," said Cabot.

"We didn't get anything from those other people."

"We got confirmation that Mrs. McLeod didn't lie to us."

"She wouldn't lie," said Hutton. "Why would she lie?"

Cabot glanced over at the woman. "She might lie if she were having an affair with Brogan. Or with April, for that matter."

"She didn't!"

"No, she didn't, but we didn't know that before we talked to her. And now we know that she took the cab to the Radiodeum to see the Keystone Cops festival."

"And disappeared from there."

"More or less." Cabot's phone rang. "Cabot." He scribbled on a piece of paper, then said, "Interesting. Who do I talk to? Thanks. I owe you dinner." He hung up and turned to the others. "Our Mr. Brogan used to be a supervillain."

"What? And who are you?" A compact, sturdy man filled the doorway. He looked to be younger than Cabot, but hard-used by life. Cabot couldn't identify his accent.

"Oh," said Hutton. "Seth, this is Jedediah Cabot. Jed, this is Seth. Seth knows a lot about demons. He spent about six hundred years in Hell."

"Lamb, we have been over this. We do not discuss these matters with outsiders."

"He works with us now."

"Still."

"Six hundred years?" asked Cabot.

"Aye," said Markur. "I was fighting for the English under contract when a filthy papist sorceror opened a gateway to Hell and my entire company ended there. We were tormented though we were living men."

Cabot nodded slowly. "And now you're here."

"I am. I am grateful to Mr. Campbell's agent, who freed me."

"Of course you are." Cabot swallowed. He thought, I need to have a talk with Mister A. Martin Campbell. "In the meantime, we have two leads to follow up. Someone needs to talk to Mr. Brogan and a group of someones need to canvas the area around the Radiodeum to see if anyone spotted April Brogan."

"And who is April Brogan?"

"They'll fill you in on the cab ride there, Mr. Markur. I'll go talk to Mr. Brogan. Call me if you discover anything." Once outside, he said to himself, "If any of you know how to use a phone."

* * *

Brogan was just getting home from the office, his portfolio under his arm as he walked to the door. Cabot intercepted him. "Can we talk?"

"Have you found her?"

"Not yet. But we need to talk."

Brogan slumped into himself. "Sure. You want coffee?"

"Okay."

The kitchen was small and untidy: dirty dishes piled everywhere. Brogan had to kick clothes out of the way for Cabot to sit down. He fussed with the coffee maker. "She never learned to make coffee, you know?"

Cabot nodded. "So they had a supervillain name all ready for you, and the Arrow caught you."

"Really? What was the name?"

"Larceny Ink."

Brogan wrinkled his nose. "Too long. Wouldn't play."

"Hey, you had an axe. So tell me about it."

" I grew up in a bad neighbourhood, in the Fens. I wasn't going to school, so I divided my time between being tough and drawing. That was all I liked to do besides drinking and proving what a bad ass I was. Anyway, I broke into this haunted house, on a dare, and had to provide proof. I saw this set of ink bottles, different colours of ink, and I grabbed them."

"You remember the address?"

"Sure. 105 Chestnut. Anyway, afterward, you can imagine my surprise when the gun I had been drawing fell off the page, full-size, even though I had been drawing it at one-half size. And when I put it back on the paper, it turned back into a drawing. So I was young and stupid. I drew a bunch of guns and futuristic-looking armor and used them to rob a bank. I got away with it, and I was pretty pleased with myself. I had money. I drank a lot. I was a big shot, man. Except I told my friends, and they swiped the pages. I don't know where those guns are now. Sugar? The milk's turned."

"Black is fine." The coffee was awful, but Cabot drank it anyway. Anything to keep Brogan talking.

"So I got this bright idea: tattoos. Nobody could steal it from me if I had tattoos. I gave a guy the magic ink, right, and had him do a set of drawings on me. Axes, guns, shield, all sorts of stuff. Did maybe three jobs when the Arrow caught me."

"And you did time."

"Oh, yeah. They were going through a law and order phase, and I turned eighteen waiting for trial. Fortunately nobody ever got hurt in my crimes, but I was an example. And in prison, they lasered off the tattoos. I was a model prisoner, because frankly it sucked. I just wanted to be quit of it, right? Worked on my art instead. You can do some art assignments from a jail cell. Castle Comics bought some of my stuff."

"So it worked out."

"I got parole, but terms are I can't see any of my old friends or any other undesirables. I have to have a parole meeting once a month, and I can never get a tattoo."

"You didn't tell them about the ink?"

"No. It was pretty much used up by then. Tattoos take a lot of ink, or mine did."

"So you were out."

"Yeah. I got a grant of some money when I got out--Wainwright had something going at the time--and I buckled down. Except I didn't drink any more--I get violent when I drink--and I didn't see my old friends, and, well, I was lonely."

"You drew April."

"Uh-huh. Did pretty well on her, except for her feet. We were pretty happy, I figured."

"Did you put her back on the page?"

"Early on, but I gave it up. The one day I burned the page with her, it was a celebration. She was real."

"Except she was still dependent on you for everything." Brogan didn't say anything. "Your prisoner, you might say. And she might have felt that she was your little sex toy, because you brought her into existence."

"She was happy. We were happy."

"Yeah."

"You'll find her, right? I-- I miss her."

"We'll find her. We'll give her the choice of coming back to you, though. You gave her life, Brogan. You have to let her live it."

Cabot walked out. His phone rang before he got to the car.

* * *
Last edited by kipling on Wed Jun 02, 2010 6:27 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Post by kipling » Sat May 06, 2006 5:20 am

Domestic Disturbance, Part 2

Hutton, Toomey, and Markur got out of the cab at the Radiodeum. "We'll question people," said Toomey. "I know how to do this now."

"It's just like talking," agreed Hutton.

"Hey--hey! Down here!" A young woman stuck her head over the ticket booth counter so Toomey could see her. "I'm looking for this woman. Have you seen her?"

"Oh, her. The Pavlovian Belle. She comes in whenever we're doing an animation festival."

"Last week."

"Pavlovian Belle?" asked Hutton.

"Sure--the men salivate when she comes by. She wasn't with her husband last week, so we were mopping drool."

"That's disgusting," said Hutton.

"Tell me about it."

"But you saw her?" asked Toomey.

"She went in and then I never saw her come out."

"Do you mind if we talk to the projectionist?"

"I should care, so long as you don't watch the movie? Go on in."

They climbed the stairway to the projectionist booth and knocked. A young fat man opened the door, stroking crumbs from his beard. "Yeah?" When he saw Hutton, he began tucking in his shirt-tails.

Markur looked him over with evident distaste and finally said, "Have you seen this woman?"

The projectionist looked at the photocopy of the drawing. "Oh, yeah. I watch her through the window. Once I have the focus correct, nothing to do until the next reel change, and she's worth watching, even from up here and behind."

"Do you remember her from last Thursday?"

He nodded. "She was there without her man, and there were guys all over her, walking over to her to ask if she wanted popcorn or a drink or some chocolate or a hot dog" -- he sniggered. "I don't think she got to see any of 'Speakeasy Sassy' or 'Keystone Custard'. Anyway, then this woman pushes everyone away--she's a midget, even shorter than you, and boom, folks leave her alone."

"Did you know the midget?"

"Of course I did. It was Roxie. The Toon. From the Toon Gang."

Finally Toomey said, "A gangster?"

"Yeah! The cartoon gangster. All of them came; they like to see themselves in the cartoons."

"Where did they go?"

"They left through the left fire exit."

"You let them?" asked Markur.

"Are you kidding? The Toons kill people. Besides, she wasn't fighting it."

"Tell me of these Toons."

"They're gangsters, from the Keystone Cops cartoons--in fact, they're in Keystone Custard--Boss Moxie, Joey, Knuckles, Lefty. The Toy Boy brought them to life, and they stay around. But they're cartoons, so they can't die. They just don't understand that other people can die."

"They cannot die?"

"I'll wager they have no souls," said Toomey.

"Yeah, you squash'em, they pop back. They're cartoons. Haven't you ever seen cartoons?"

All three investigators shook their heads.

"And they say I need to get a life."

* * *

The fire exit led to an alley; the alley opened onto Dillin Street. Markur looked at the shops lining the street and said, "Someone will know where they went."

Twenty minutes later, they had an address: A woman in a clothing store had heard Roxie, the Toon woman, complain about the Ocean Heights amusement park.

"Presumably she is held for some sort of ransom," said Markur. They hailed a cab. "Toomey," said Markur, "you can telephone Cabot."

"I'll only be touching the phone if I can gloat."

"I think gloating would be good." Markur pulled his coat aside and touched the hilt of the hunting knife fastened to his belt. "And a foe that cannot be killed is worthwhile."

* * *

The taxi driver let them off at the front gates to Ocean Heights Amusement Park. Memorial Day was still weeks away, so the gates were closed.

Markur tested the iron gates; they were locked. "No latch on the other side, so there's no point throwing Toomey over the top."

"Hey, you great galoot. Don't be talking about throwing me."

Hutton looked down at the flowerbeds that lined the base of the wall that surrounded this part of the park. "Give me a moment," she said.

She slipped off her plain Mary Jane shoes and her socks and stood in the dirt for a moment. Then she chanted an incantation. The earth grumbled and the scent of fresh-turned soil filled the air. A tunnel opened up before her, leading under the wall.

She took out a kerchief and wiped sweat from her brow. "We can go in now."

"Aye."

They scrambled down the tunnel, with Hutton last, carrying her shoes. "Close it," said Markur.

"Wouldn't it be good to have an escape?" asked Toomey.

"She could escape using it. They could escape using it. And it will attract attention." Hutton nodded and spread her toes in the grass as she chanted a different spell. "Besides," said Markur, "cartoons are a children's entertainment. What could they do?"

"Do you have any idea where they are?" asked Hutton.

"No, but if they're cartoons given life, that sounds like magic to me," said Markur.

"Ohhhh," said Hutton, and then, "It's a big park. I don't sense any magic in particular."

Toomey pointed to a fountain. "There's a pool of water right there."

"That would help." Hutton plucked a blade of grass. She carefully floated it on the surface of the water and murmured to it; it spun madly and then settled down. "That way," she said.


* * *

Cabot found the maintenance entrance to the park and drove in. Some quick talking got him past the guard and a copy of a park map. The park was huge and he had no clue where the Toon Gang or April Brogan would be.

The Toons didn't need to eat, although they could. He didn't know if April Brogan needed to eat. The Toons would need a place to stash their car, a miniature Model T Ford, but didn't need much else in the way of creature comforts. He didn't know what April Brogan needed.

Damn it. There was too much he didn't know. Okay. He was going to have to go hunch-searching.

He looked around to make sure that no one was watching him. He closed his eyes and tried to empty his mind out, then examined the first thing that popped up when he thought "Toon Gang." It was a circle of Model T Fords. He stored that away and emptied his mind again. This time, he thought of April Brogan, and the first thing that popped up in his mind was her looking in a mirror.

Wary with the knowledge that his hunches had been wrong before, Cabot looked at the park map. In the children's rides there was a Model T ride, which might have been what he saw; the Toon car would fit with the children's rides, but how would they drive it in and out? And how would it fit into the ride itself? He set that thought aside.

But here was something: the Fun House of Mirrors was near the back of the Midway, and not far from the maintenance shed, which was also close to a second freight entrance. It was also across the park from him.

Cabot jogged for the Fun House of Mirrors.

* * *

"Inside the building, but I can only sense one magical entity," said Hutton.

"Perhaps the others are out," said Toomey. "It seems to be a busy life."

"They would have left at least one with Mrs. Brogan," said Markur. "That must be the one you feel. Mr. Toomey, do you want to sneak up to the building? Your fae ways are suited to this."

"I'm a clurichaun. Wine cellars, Markur. Wine cellars."

"Please?" asked Hutton.

Toomey sighed and vanished from sight. The other two watched and then the question of stealth became irrelevant because two of the Toon men--each a handspan taller than Toomey--appeared in the doorway. They leaned there, one with long ape-like arms and a matchstick protruding from his mouth, the other smoking a cigarette and flipping a coin.

Markur strode forward, his hunting knife in his hand. "What are you doing?" he asked.

The two looked at him. "I'm havin' a smoke. It says no smokin' in dere. What's it look like I'm doing?"

"I want April Brogan."

"Don't we all, chump." The man spat. "Beat it."

"I will take her back."

The gorilla-like one stepped forward. "Uh...I don't t'ink so." He cracked his knuckles.

"You deal wit' da maroon," said the other Toon. "I'll tell da boss."

"Put da toothpick away and take yer beatin' like a man. In da hospital, tell'em Knuckles sent ya."

Markur grinned and said, "Toothpick? I think you'll find it is a longer fang than that." His knife grew in his hand until it was a sword.

"Sheesh," said the one in the pinstripe suit, just before Toomey appeared from nowhere and smashed down on his head. The hat crumpled and the Toon did too, until he looked like a squeezebox. His coin went tink on the ground and rolled to a stop, where it blinked at them.

"You been rubbin' fertilizer on dat or dat just the stuff you talk?" Knuckles swung and missed Markur, who slashed once. Knuckles' head slid off his body and fell to the ground, followed by thick steak-like slabs of the rest of him. "Geez," said Knuckles' head.

"That was easy enough," said Toomey.

"Go look for the woman," said Markur.

The collapsed Toon popped to his full three and three-quarter feet size with a sound like a champagne cork. "You realize, of course," he said, "dat dis means war."

Toomey stopped without going into the Fun House of Mirrors. "So it is to be a donnybrook."

Knuckles' arm reached out from the pile and began stacking slabs. They melded together to reform the gangster.

"This is more like Hell than I expected," said Markur. He cut Knuckles' legs off.

"You is startin' to annoy me," said Knuckles. He reached over and grabbed Markur's legs with his long arms. Markur cut off one hand at the wrist, but by then his legs had somehow rejoined his body.

* * *

Cabot crested the small hill that separated the kiddie midway from the main midway, and saw them there: Hutton watching at a distance as Markur sliced and resliced Knuckles (and where did Markur get that sword, Cabot wondered) while Toomey faced Lucky. Toomey picked Lucky up and tossed him many yards aside. Even though the Toon must not have weighed much, it was an incredible throw; Lucky dove into the pavement and bounced like a rubber ball, then rebounded off a lamppost and headed back for Toomey.

Cabot came up behind Hutton and said, "We have to stop them. Our only chance is to talk to April Brogan, and we can't do that if they're out here brawling."

"You go in and talk to her; I'll stop them."

Cabot knew he shouldn't let her, but he was the only one who knew enough to talk to April Brogan. He angled around the fighters as she started to chant and looked back at the doorway--

--and saw a maw of earth open and swallow Lucky just as he landed.

She had not been joking about the ploughing. He ducked into the front door of the attraction--

--and came face to face with himself, in a mirror.

Cabot held his hand out to the left wall. If this were a fair labyrinth, he would be able to trace his way through.

"Stop right there." A woman's voice, made out of dreams and desires. Cabot felt a shiver run down his spine. He hadn't thought about a woman since his wife died, and he resented this woman's voice for putting thoughts like that back into his head. All he could see was himself.

"My name is Cabot," he said.

"I don't care. You're a man."

"You're April Brogan?" He had read that Roxie sounded like Lina Lamont from Singing In The Rain. "I've been hired to talk to you on Mr. Brogan's behalf."

"Oh, all right. Straight ahead and push on that mirror."

He pushed; the latch released; and he pushed again to swing the mirror open. He stepped into a small corridor, and then into a small white room with a red couch and a black card table with folding chairs.

And Boss Moxie sat on the couch, with a miniature moll perched on the arm. April stood near the card table, touching the cards nervously. Cabot was only half-surprised; he didn't think the gang split up much. Wasn't there a fourth one?

He heard a gunshot outside. That was probably the fourth one.

Cabot said, "Boss Moxie. April." He smiled at the moll. "I'm afraid I don't know your name."

"Roxie," she said, and snapped her gum. "Charmed, I'm sure."

"We heard the noise your boys are making out there."

"They got a little eager to see April here. They might have been rash." He had to think, dammit. There was so much weirdness in Freedom City, you could only learn so much of it before you moved. The Toons at least he had read about. "Of course, your boys have a tendency to shoot first and talk later."

"That's why they're my boys. Talking's for gunsels."

"Well, I'm here to take April away. Just for a little while."

"She ain't going."

"I'd like to hear that from her." He looked over at April.

"Go ahead. Tell him you ain't going."

"I'm going to stay here. They're my people."

"Because they were born from ink instead of flesh? You can have whatever life you want. They're bad because they're drawn that way." He hoped he would never have to repeat this conversation to anyone else.

"I don't have any life with him."

"You don't have to go back to him."

"All right."

Cabot took a step closer to her. "Good. We'll take you to our office, you can talk with Max there. He doesn't have to know where you live."

She nodded and stepped toward him.

"Boss!" cried Roxie.

"You shut yer yap, punk," said Boss Moxie. He stood and produced a tommygun, aimed at Cabot.

"Sorry, April," said Cabot as he raised his hands. "You just exchanged one kind of imprisonment for another." Toomey appeared from behind the couch and hit Boss Moxie on the head. The gangster fell over like a sack of lead.

"You should be glad to be seeing me now," said Toomey.

"No!" cried Cabot. "That wasn't my plan."

"Aw, rats," said Roxie. "There go my plans of havin' someone normal height to buy stuff for us."

Toomey said, "Be proud of your height."

"No, you little dipstick. Everybody knows we're the Toon Gang, but they didn't know her."

"But..." said April. "That's all? You didn't...like me?"

"I like you lots, Toots. But a girl's got needs, y'know."

Moxie stirred. Toomey said, "Must be going. Mrs. Brogan?"

Cabot grabbed April's arm and pulled her to the exit.

"Don't call me Mrs. Brogan. Please."

Toomey said, "Would it be too much to ask you what's going on?"

As they exited into the bright May sunshine, they heard from inside the building, "You ain't heard the last o' Boss Moxie!"

Hutton and Markur hurried over to them. "This way!" cried Cabot. "And run!"

In the car, Cabot said, "I think you just got us involved in a gang war."
Last edited by kipling on Sun Apr 06, 2008 4:40 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Post by kipling » Sat May 06, 2006 5:21 am

Domestic Disturbance, Some Notes

The wine trick was a hero point and appropriate for the character; yes, the wine is better now. No, I don't expect him to buy a power, because how often will he be doing the wine trick in the game?

The story of Max Brogan is basically a re-do of DC's Tattoed Man. The magic power is essentially a plot device--I would probably create it as a Summon kind of thing, if I had to.

There was supposed to be another player, but he couldn't make it. Maybe next time his voodoo houngan will be in.

The Toon Gang were fun in the roleplaying but I notice my brain wasn't quite up to doing toonish things.

The ending kind of sucks but this is a monthly thing and I didn't want to quit in the middle of something--leave loose threads, yes; quit in the middle, no.

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Post by kipling » Thu May 18, 2006 7:25 pm

(Even though I run monthly, we see each other every week. Our regular GM was sick, so I said I'd step in and continue the adventures. We only had time to finish the first half of the planned adventure.)

SPIRIT OF REGRET, Part 1

He was sure of many things. One of them was that he was dead, and this was his only chance to finish what he had left undone.

But he had to learn to affect the living world.


* * *

Glad you're doing the walking, not me.

Doctor Gideon Lacroix climbed the stairs to the Occult Investigations Agency. The brownstone was in the Riverside district of Freedom City, two blocks from Ditko Street. The ground floor was an occult bookshop ("Spellbound") and the basement held a jazz club ("The Sweet and Low Down"). He stopped to check his reflection in the gold lettering on the door.

Looking sharp, came the voice again.

Thank you, Grandfather, he thought as he smoothed his hair and made a miniscule adjustment to the knot of his tie. He pushed open the door to the well-appointed reception area. At the rosewood desk sat a beautiful young woman who hastily put down a sketchpad and pencil and looked up at him. He looked at her face for a moment--

Wouldn't kick her out of bed for eating crackers.

Hush, Grandfather. "I'm looking for Mister A. Martin Campbell." He stepped up to the desk, curious about what she had been drawing--curious about her. A little executive toy--a Newton's cradle, with a series of suspended balls--began to clack, as though he had disturbed it. She frowned and stilled it with her hand.

"He had a problem with one of his other businesses. May I help you?"

He suppressed his first thought--his grandfather didn't--and said, "I'm Doctor LaCroix. He hired me to start today."

"Oh." She smiled. "You must be the houngan."

"Yes. And doctor of theology."

"Of course. I can show you to your desk." The little toy was still clacking. She reached out to stop it again. "Ow." She stuck a finger in her beautifully formed mouth. "It pinched me."

He reached out to take her hand, then paused. "You wouldn't be...menstruating, would you?"

"I don't think that's any of your business."

He pulled back. "Of course not." He reached down to quiet the toy, but it would not stop, the little spheres moving faster as he reached toward it. He pulled his hand away. It slowed. "Where did you get that?"

"A crazy lady put it on the desk this morning. I thought she came in for a handout, but she said it was a gift."

A magic detector, said his grandfather, inside his head.

"Indeed."

I wonder who the crazy lady was?

When he left the room, the clacking noise stopped.

The tour was quick: The second floor was divided into two small meeting rooms, an office space with a half-dozen cubicles, washrooms, two store rooms, a kitchenette, and reception.

"And now, your co-workers." With a flourish, she showed him a pair of cubicles, one with a very small man and the other with a compact muscular man. The small man might have been in his forties; the other man maybe in his late twenties, but scarred by life. "Mister Toomey, Mister Markur--" The man raised his hand. "Seth. This is Doctor Gideon LaCroix."

LaCroix didn't offer to shake hands. Neither did they.

"We have two other employees, Jedediah Cabot and Lamb Hutton, but they're out on a case."

"Lady asked for Cabot," grumbled Toomey.

"Dial 9 to get out with the phones. Your computer is set up with the database access you asked for."

"Excellent. Thank you, miss--?"

She blushed a darker shade of mocha. "Daya. Talithe Daya. I'll go watch the phones. Let me know if you need anything."

The men watched her leave. Finally she shut the door and Markur said, "And your opinion on magic is...?"

"A powerful and capricious force."

He nodded. "All right. Sorry, one of our other co-workers doesn't believe. Cabot--that's why he left here like he had a demon on his tail; the case was adultery without a whiff of magic. I'd like to leave him in Hell for a year and let him decide then if he believes."

"You've been to Hell?"

Markur nodded. "You?"

LaCroix shook his head. "I've never gone farther than the twilit realms."

"LaCroix your true name?" asked the little man.

LaCroix smiled. "Of course not. Toomey yours?"

"You couldn't pronounce it," he replied.

"You might be surprised." He looked the man up and down. "Leprechaun?"

"Dammit! I'm not one of those leather-fondling cobblers. Clurichaun. Clurichaun, I'll have you know."

"You seem high strung."

"My mother was Italian."

LaCroix nodded. "I'll sit down, now." He murmured an apology to his grandfather and set his walking stick against the desk.

He put away the office supplies he had gathered and began setting up his computer the way he liked. Eventually he became aware of the other two watching him.

"You know how to use that thing?" asked Markur.

"Of course."

Toomey said, "Never catch me with one."

Markur's phone rang. He picked it up gingerly, adjusted the handset and carefully said, "Yes?...We'll be there." He set it down carefully. "We have a client."

* * *

"I agree," said Jedediah Cabot. "That behaviour is typical of a man having an affair."

"But that doesn't mean he is," Lamb Hutton said.

Eileen Corrigan gestured at herself. "Look at me. Look at me. I can't lose the baby weight. I can barely get clean in a day. Some days it's all I can do to have a shower."

"My wife was the same way. You grow into caring for them. It's tough having a baby."

"Gabe doesn't think so."

Hutton said, "He's wrong."

"I'm a fat pig."

"You're not," said Hutton.

"Has he said anything about your weight? Your appearance?"

"Just since... Since Mike died. His brother."

"His brother?"

"Michael. He was a firefighter. He died in the line of duty. Last month."

"Okay. And...?"

"Trish is gorgeous." Eileen began to sob again. Hutton handed her another tissue. "She's a model."

"Trish is...?"

"She's obviously Michael's widow," said Hutton.

"Yes," said Eileen. "And Gabe hated her. That was the only way most people could tell them apart--if Trish was in the room, it couldn't be Gabe with her."

"Back up a moment. Gabe and Mike were identical twins?"

"Yes. Gabe's a photographer. Mike dropped by the studio the day Trish showed up to model, and they started going out."

"Gabe and Trish worked together?"

"Just the once. He found her impossible."

"He told you?" She nodded.

"Okay, Mrs. Corrigan. I'll get addresses from you and we'll try to get some proof, one way or the other."

"It will be all right," said Hutton.

* * *

"We've been having poltergeist effects since my fiancee's uncle died. I'm worried that he's haunting us, that he wants us to sell the restaurant." Derek Hughart ran his fingers through his short blond hair, then drummed them on his thigh. He realized he was doing it and laced them together in his lap. The other three were around the table in the meeting room. Toomey sat on his booster seat, and LaCroix had his walking stick across his lap.

"The restaurant...William Emz," said LaCroix. "I've eaten there."

"The restaurant was his life. Anyway, when Uncle Bill died, Alice inherited as the only surviving relative. She and Bill weren't very close, but Bill believed in family. So. Not too long after she moved to town to take over, we got a visit from Erik Roache. He's another restaraunteur."

"I'm not sure I'd say that," said LaCroix. "Roache owns the chain of Boobies."

"A chain of what?" asked Markur.

"A restaurant franchise that prominently figures a blue-footed booby--a bird--on its ads, but their hiring practices emphasize a different meaning of the name."

"I don't understand," said Markur.

"Later," said Toomey.

"Apparently Uncle Bill had an agreement to sell to Roache. Alice refuses. The poltergeist phenomena are Bill's way of letting us know he disapproves."

"How would Roache know?"

"He saw it. The second and third times he visited. I saw it too."

"And what do you want us to do?"

"I want to have a seance. I want to find out what uncle Bill wants, and put him at peace. Alice will agree if she's sure that's what Bill wants."

"We're investigators, Mister Hughart."

"I just...Alice doesn't believe. She didn't believe the medium who told her, but you guys--she'll believe you, if you find out that it's Bill."

"Of course," said LaCroix. "You're fortunate that we now have on staff someone who can talk to the restless dead."

Don't toot your own horn, grandson.

* * *

"Why would he do it?" asked Hutton. "If he hates her."

"I dunno," said Cabot. "Maybe he hates his wife more. Maybe he never hated her, but his brother moved in so fast and he was already married that it was easier to say he despised her. To hide the attraction."

Hutton thought about it for a moment, chewing on an Oreo. "It sounds complicated."

"Yeah, people aren't usually complicated. Not the ones you see in this business. He's going in. I'll get the camera. You wait here."

Cabot squatted by the window, snapping shots. Yes, she was a looker, but he didn't respond to her the way he had to April Brogan. At first, the two just talked, with the male Corrigan trying to convince her of something; the house had central air, and none of the windows were open. Then, she softened, and took off her blouse--and the doorbell rang. Around the house, he could hear Hutton's voice. "I was wondering if you've given any thought to what happens to us after we die?" He cursed as he saw Corrigan slip out the back door.

* * *

They walked the two blocks to Ditko Street and the additional four blocks to William Emz. On the street, Markur said, "Wait. We're going into a restaurant. They have food. I'm hungry."

"It won't be polite to eat there."

"I know," said Markur. "Some of the Italians were the same way. So I want to grab something to eat now. I have money." He spotted a vending machine. "Even that will do." He compared the price with the coins in his pocket, checked again, and then fed the coins into the slot, one at a time. LaCroix stepped away so he wouldn't be associated with Markur. Toomey hopped onto a bench and lounged in the sunshine.

Markur hit the button combination for the snack: D4. The spiral curled and then stopped; the treat fell forward and leaned against the glass but did not fall.

"It's supposed to fall," said Toomey.

"I know that," said Markur.

"Don't look at me; I talk to the dead, not to junk food."

Markur grabbed the sides of the machine and shook it. The treat stayed wedged in place. LaCroix looked around; no one was staring--yet.

"Let's just go to a convenience store," he said. "It's just potato chips."

"The machine has my money," Markur growled. "When I pay, I expect service."

He rocked the machine once more, but the treat stayed. People were slowing to watch, now.

Markur narrowed his eyes. "I will not brook this behaviour." He pulled out his pocketknife.

Toomey said, "I don't think you need to be that drastic. That thing belongs to someone."

"What are you going to do?" LaCroix asked. Then he said to Toomey, "What can he do with that pocketknife?"

"More damage than a shotgun," said the clurichaun.

A pretty black woman stopped. "Hey, you don't need to be taking that apart."

Merkur stopped. "I don't?"

"No. Nine times out of ten, you can jar it loose like this." She slammed the side of the machine with her open hand, then twice more. The bag of potato chips fell to the bottom.

"Thank you, miss--?"

"Melody Bull. And you?"

"Seth Markur. It's a pleasure. Thank you."

"Well, I figured since the brother wasn't helping you, I'd offer aid."

"Kind of you. I'm on my way to something but I'd like to thank you. Buy you dinner. Here's my card."

She smiled indulgently. "All right. I'll call you when I'm free."

Hmmm, thought LaCroix, I wonder if she's menstruating?

Grandson, you got your priorities wrong.

* * *

Cabot sneaked away from the house, back to the car. Hutton showed up five minutes later. He stared straight ahead as he gripped the steering wheel of the car. "What," he said, "the hell are you doing?"

"You know there's papers floating in the back of the car?"

"What the hell did you think you were doing?"

"You're making the papers fly. That's--"

"What the hell did you think you were doing?"

She twisted her hands in her lap. "I couldn't let him cheat on his wife."

"That's not what we're paid to do."

"Didn't you listen to her? She doesn't want her husband to do this. So I stopped him."

"For today."

Hutton looked down at her hands. "Yes. But Trish says she thinks it's, um, creepy. That's what she called it."

"Well, he does look just like her dead husband."

"Except for the tattoo." Cabot executed a perfect spit-take, and then mopped the steering wheel, dash, and windshield with tissues. "She's not very fond of Gabe either so Mike had a tattoo put somewhere only she would see. She hinted but I couldn't figure out where."

"Yeah. I bet you couldn't."

* * *

Alice Gaines might have been thirty, with blonde hair that had a dark streak running down one side. She looked tired, and her body pushed against the smock she wore. "I don't believe in ghosts," she told them.

"I don't believe in all ghosts," said LaCroix.

"Well, that's something. This is an area where Derek and I just won't agree. I love him to death, but he's the kind of guy you could tell they took 'gullible' out of the dictionary, and he'd believe you."

"I would not," said Derek. "I stopped falling for that one when I was twenty." She shushed him.

"I see," said Toomey. "By the way, do you have a wine cellar here?"

"Yup. Of course. Wine's not my specialty--I'm a dessert chef--but I can pick out a few vintages here and there."

"Where were the ghostly events?" asked LaCroix.

"They started in the basement. By the pool table."

"Did your uncle like the pool table?"

"Not particularly. He got it to annoy my aunt, before she passed away. She was always on him to exercise, so he picked the easiest sport he could find."

"But he maintained it?"

She grimaced. "My uncle alphabetized his underwear. He sent notes to creditors telling them that their bills were late. He maintained it."

"Balls flew off the rack," said Hughart.

"Fell."

"Later they flew."

"Okay, yeah."

"You saw this?"

She shrugged. "Derek saw it. I saw the bruises afterward. And I hear it late at night sometimes. We get deliveries on Pasko, through the back door. Often I'll be heading to get the deliveries and I'll hear the balls bouncing off the floor."

"The basement," said LaCroix. "Did he die there?"

"No, he died at the hospital. Stroke. He held on for a couple of days, but he was paralyzed. I'm not sure he was even really...thinking...by the end."

Poor bastard, said LaCroix's grandfather. I know what it's like.

"My grandfather went through the same thing," said LaCroix. "May I see the basement?"

"In a moment," said Alice Gaines. "See, I don't believe in this stuff. So I don't want to give you unobserved access." She glanced at the clock. "He should be here soon."

"Who?"

"I called a debunker. Doctor Evan Severn. The ghostbreaker."
Last edited by kipling on Fri Aug 03, 2007 6:39 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Post by kipling » Wed Jun 07, 2006 8:21 pm

Oh, man, the writeup went long, but really there wasn't that much in the session. Really.

SPIRIT OF REGRET, Part 2

Hutton's analysis was simple: "If Gabe doesn't like Trish, and Trish doesn't like Gabe, then there's a third force involved."

Cabot shrugged. "Like your superpowers?"

"I don't have superpowers. It's magic."

"Uh-huh. Trish might have been lying to you. Being confronted about infidelity is enough to make most folks lie. Sometimes people do things they say they don't like. People lie to others--and to themselves."

"That's...that's wrong.."

"Uh-huh. Which brings me back to what the hell you thought you were doing."

"I was helping with what she really wants.."

"And you're the expert? Okay, so you help here--keep watching the house. Be inconspicuous. Do you have that cell phone Campbell gave you? Okay. Call me if Corrigan comes back." Cabot quickly showed her how to turn it on and where he was on speed dial.

"Where are you going?" she asked as she got out.

"Interview people who knew them."

Hutton bent down to the open window. "How do I look inconspicuous?"

"I don't know. Walk around the block. Use your superpowers over dirt to hide."

"It's not a superpower, it's magic--" she said, but he was already gone.

* * *

"Doctor Evan Severn?" asked LaCroix.

"Yes. You know him?"

"We were on faculty together. FCU."

"And your opinion of him?"

"Brilliant, but with skepticism that blinded him to possibilities."

"And his opinion of you?"

A new voice chimed in, "A promising mind gone credulous, taken down the primrose path of gullibility. Hello, Gideon. I wish I could say it's nice to see you. I can guess which side of rationality you're on." Severn was a tall man, with a high forehead and dark hair. He carried a walking stick.

"Actually, Evan, I haven't made up my mind about this one. Spirits are more common than you suppose but less common than the devout suppose."

"Were there even one, Gideon, they would be more common than I suppose. May I help you, miss?"

"I'm Alice Gaines. I own this restaurant." She briefly described the situation.

"Gideon, do you want to do mumbo-jumbo first and then I'll shine the clear bright light of reason?"

"Please, you go first. And I will make my comments without hearing yours, if you don't mind. I don't want either of us to be prejudiced, Evan."

"How kind of you. Ms. Gaines, may I?" She nodded and Severn followed her out of the room.

"Well. What do we do now?" asked Toomey.

Markur said, "Mr. Toomey, how silent is a clurichaun when he wants to be?"

"Very silent."

"And what do you think are the odds that this building has a wine cellar in the cellar?"

Toomey smiled. "Excellent it seems to me. Now, if you'll look away?"

Markur looked at the ceiling while LaCroix examined his nails. Afer a few moments, Markur said, "He's gone. I know why I would have let Seven go down. Why did you?"

"If mere disbelief were enough to scare this spirit away, then Alice Gaines would have already done that. So his mere presence won't do anything. And, though I hate to admit it, Boyfriend is credulous. It might all be a trick caused by Roache."

Markur nodded. "My reasons too." He touched the desk calendar. "I feel useless here. During the war, I was counted as a leader of vision and broad knowledge. Here...."

"Don't worry," said LaCroix. "I'm sure demons will show up eventually."

"I only hope they're old-fashioned demons and not modern ones."

* * *

Cabot smiled at the fire fighter. "So what about Mike's home life?"

Trevor Roper said, "He was fine. Loved his wife, she loved him, they'd saved some money. They were about to start trying for a baby. I had to rearrange some shifts so he could be free when she was fertile."

"'When she was fertile?'"

"Yeah. It was a planned pregnancy. Not like my three boys. Bang bang bang, and there they were."

"But no hint of marital problems?"

"Mike adored Trish. I mean, the man would walk through Hell for that woman."

"How did he die?"

"Asphyxiation. A section of wall crumbled near him and cut his air hose. He was getting more smoke than air, but he finished rescuing two kids before he collapsed. By the time we got to him, it was too late."

"Sounds like a determined man."

"He was."

"Did he ever talk about his brother?"

"Loved him, too."

"He sounds like a saint."

Roper laughed. "No, he wasn't a saint. The man was stubborn to a fault. That's why he never made lieutenant."

* * *

Toomey stole into the kitchen and headed for the large refrigerator that held the house white wines. It was not much of a winecellar, but it would get him to the basement. He slipped the door open and only a moment later he was opening the downstairs cellar door.

He was tempted to have a glass right then, but managed to resist.

He crept through the basement. He could hear Dr. Severn's bass voice: "These are so loose in here that they can fall out if you have a heavy tread on the stairs. Do you see these small purple marks here, on the cue ball? They look like iodine."

Toomey crept closer, using his clurichaun stealth--

--and hot pain sliced down his back. He bit his tongue to stay silent as he spun around--

--to see nothing. He could feel warm blood trickling down his back, soaking into his shirt.

He swung blindly twice and neither connected with anything. He tried a bear hug and grasped a tatter of rough-spun cloth--but his attacker slipped away. He glanced at the rag in his hand and knew what he was fighting--but in the darkness he couldn't spot his attacker.

Another slash cut open his chest, and he punched blindly. He connected and heard a soft whimper, and then the attacker launched a flurry of attacks, each of which tore Toomey's clothes and flesh. Cursing to himself, he staggered backwards to the wine racks and decanted back upstairs.

GM's Note: What a bad set of rolls for Toomey--ending with a 1 on the toughness save, matched with a natural 20 on the part of the invisible opponent.

***

Toomey appeared, though Markur was never really sure from where; he had looked away and when he looked back, Toomey was lying there, his clothes in bloody tatters.

"Grandfather," said LaCroix, "check for spirits." As he knelt by Toomey, Markur saw mist flow from LaCroix's walking stick and into the floor.

"Toomey's breathing," said Markur. "But not for long. The wounds look better than they are."

LaCroix thought he heard Toomey whisper, "Says you." But Toomey was unconscious.

"He needs care, though. And we don't want to explain this."

"Carry him outside. I'll call a cab. Take him-- Where does he live?"

"I don't know."

"Take him back to the office, then. Take him out back; Ditko Street doesn't allow cars."

"Sure. He's light." Markur looked at Toomey carefully, then lifted him. "Ooof. He's not. Damn me, he's heavy."

LaCroix shrugged. "Faerie."

"You carry him then." But LaCroix was already on his cell phone. Markur staggered outside. Damn if Toomey wasn't getting heavier.

* * *

Hutton was nowhere on the street. Cabot circled the block again. He was starting to feel guilty for leaving her there; she clearly didn't have the street-smarts to be inconspicuous on the street. On his third pass down the block, Hutton was standing on Trish Corrigan's porch. She waved him in. Suddenly angry again, he parked and stalked to the house.

"You're just in time," Hutton said. "Gabe and Eileen should be here any time. You know, cars aren't as fast as I thought they would be."

He drew her to one side. "What are you doing?"

"I couldn't stand out there," she said. "So Trish and I have been talking."

Cabot smacked himself on the forehead. "Of course. Why didn't I think of that?"

"Well, it wasn't easy. She thought I was a religious nut."

"You're not?"

"No," she said. "I had to tell her that Eileen had hired us. Once we started talking about this, we realized we needed Gabe and Eileen to talk, too."

Cabot sagged. "Sure. Of course you do. I thought I could just, you know, do my job, but that's not going to happen, is it? We'll give Eileen her money back."

Hutton patted him on the back. "Not if we solve the problem, right?"

The air was drumhead-tight as he walked into the room; Gabe Corrigan had positioned himself near the door with Eileen between him and Trish. Trish stood. "Mr. Cabot? Would you like coffee or tea? I have both on."

"Coffee would be nice, thanks." Cabot introduced himself to Gabe--there didn't seem to be any point in staying anonymous--and stayed between Corrigan and the doorway.

No one spoke.

Finally Hutton said, "Mr. Cabot? Do you want to talk?"

In as even a tone as he could manage, Cabot said, "It's your show. You run it."

She looked wounded. "So be it," she finally said. "Did you learn anything important?"

"They were trying to have a baby, Michael and Trish. No luck yet."

Hutton tilted her head to one side. "Now that makes everything plain."

* * *

Markur set the wounded Toomey down on the ground. There was no sign of a taxi. Cats stalked fluttering birds in this space between blocks.

A taxi pulled into the end of the alley--then stopped, and backed away. Markur ran after him, but the car was gone by the time he got there.

When he came back, Toomey's breathing was stertorous and loud. Markur knew Toomey was near the final death. Markur pulled out his pocketknife and opened the blade. Then he pressed the edge against one of Toomey's wounds.

"Please," he murmured.

A boon, came the whisper. You request a boon.

"Help him."

A boon for a boon, came the whisper again. That is the law.

"I offer you blood." Markur cut open his arm, but the cut healed as it was made, leaving pale unmarked skin.

Your blood is already ours, and this one has no soul.

With a thought, Markur made the penknife as long as a saber and beheaded a curious pigeon.

The wounds are small. It will do.

Markur laid the blade against Toomey's flesh, and the clurichaun was whole again.

By the time Toomey rose from the pavement, the sword was a penknife again, in Markur's pocket.

GM's note: What can I say? If they want a complication so they can spend a Hero Point, I'm happy to oblige them.

* * *

Nothing. No spirits, reported his grandfather. LaCroix nodded, just as Severn and Gaines came into the office, closely followed by Toomey and Markur.

"You have no ghosts," said LaCroix.

"Your psychic powers?" asked Severn.

"No, all I had to do was see the smirk on your face, Evan. Psychology counts for as much."

"What happened to you?" asked Alice Gaines as she looked at Toomey's bloody, shredded clothes.

"Accident," said Toomey.

Markur said, "Did the staff leave out a bowl of milk every day for the cat?"

"We don't have a cat."

"I know. Did they leave out a bowl of milk anyway?"

"When I came here. I made them stop."

Markur turned to Toomey. "You were right."

"Do you want to know what I found, or will you investigate on your own?"

LaCroix said, "I'd be fascinated to learn what you found, but let us go downstairs and look around." He smiled at Alice Gaines. "You don't need to accompany us."

* * *

"What we know is that your husband loved you very much, Trish," Hutton said. Trish Corrigan's eyes glistened with tears, and she nodded. Hutton felt pleased. She hadn't started crying yet. That would take time.

"We also know that you and Gabe don't get along. My partner suggested that there were hidden feelings there, but I think maybe you just don't get along."

"Well, I--"

"We get along. We just don't like each other," said Gabe softly.

Trish nodded.

"So why should you want to have an affair?"

"I don't," said Gabe.

"Right," said Cabot. "Everybody seems agreed on that." He yawned and wondered where she was going with this--what mystical nonsense she was going to pull?

He felt a tug inside. Something mystical, indeed. He wasn't sure what, though.

"So that points to an external force," said Hutton. "The ghost of your husband, Michael Corrigan." She saw the looks on their faces and plunged on. "You were trying to have a baby, weren't you, Trish? You and Michael."

"Yes--"

Cabot concentrated. Sometimes he could see something like auras, move his self elsewhere, like the visions but his whole sense of himself, and-- He was beside his body.

"And you hadn't had any success?"

"No. Not yet."

Cabot saw Gabe slip into Cabot's body. But Gabe was right there.

Hutton nodded. "Now, I don't know what exactly Michael thought he was doing--"

"Genetics," said Cabot in a strained voice. "I'm sorry, Gabe, your body is...like mine. Like mine was. It was as close as I could get to a baby that was Trish's and mine."

Everyone stared at Cabot.

Unheard by any of them, Cabot said, "I want my body back." He thrust his fist against his own shoulder, and it penetrated without effect.

Hutton coughed. "My partner has gifts. He's a psychic."

Eileen said, "He didn't strike me that way at all."

Hutton said, "There's a reason we're the Occult Investigation Agency."

Trish said, "Michael? Is that you?"

"Yes. I can't stay long--he wants his body back."

On the astral plane, Jedediah Cabot said, "Damn right I do."

* * *

Once they were alone, Toomey told them what Severn had found, and what he had found. "A stinking brownie. That's part of the reason the food was so good--they had a brownie."

"And when they stopped feeding it, it got angry," said Markur.

"So it threw the balls at whats-his-name?" asked Gideon.

"And attacked me."

"But what about the iodine marks that Severn mentioned?" Gideon thought. "Roache comes in, Derek goes down the stairs with him, hears about this poltergeist activity, decides to provide some. Roache visited three times, right?"

"That's what he told us."

"So he whips up nitrogen tri-iodide--it's a contact explosive, I--one of my students--used to make it and put it under things. When it's wet, it's not a problem but when it dries, any tremor can make it explode. So he smears some on one or two or three balls in the triangle, and sooner or later it makes the balls go flying through the air."

"It fits," said Markur. "But what do we do about it?"

"What can we do? Toomey, what do we do with a brownie?"

Toomey looked at them as though they were daft. "You give it clothes, and it goes away. Brownies are vicious nasty little buggers but they love their clothes."

"Wait," said Markur, "you were taken to death's door by a naked thing?" He laughed. "With its bare hands."

"They have claws, you know."

"So how do we get it clothes?" asked LaCroix. "I don't see Alice Gaines letting us in again."

"You leave that to me," said Toomey.

* * *

Back at the office, they were gathered back in the reception area.

Daya said, "Mr. Cabot did what with a client? Is that even legal?"

"He wasn't really himself," explained Hutton.

Everyone cheered as Cabot came back into the reception area, carrying his coffee mug. Cabot blushed and said, "I wasn't even there. That was just my body. I was--"

"Uh-huh. All the guys say that," said Toomey.

"I don't want to hear any more about it."

"It was just superpowers, after all," said Hutton.

"But how will they solve their problem?" asked Daya.

"Artificial insemination. Eileen suggested it. Now you tell us your case."

"By the way," asked Cabot, "this is great coffee, Talithe. Did you make it?"

"I did," said Gideon.

"Great coffee."

Toomey looked worried.

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Post by kipling » Wed Jun 14, 2006 2:12 pm

Finished writing up the second session.

The adventures are long on dialogue, short on action, but I hope to change that soon. I think next session will start with a little in media res, because all of the cast is now assembled.

Also, I was egotistically overestimating my writing ability for the first one. For the second and thereafter, I'll be adding gaming notes, because I think for this board, that adds interest.
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Post by kipling » Mon Jul 10, 2006 8:00 pm

This is a spur of the moment adventure because only two players could make it for my big testing flashbacks adventure. So we didn't do that one.

Interlude with a Dead Man

"Mr. Fazakas says he's fine," the nurse told them. "Except no respiration, no heartbeat, no blood flow, nothing. The room is semiprivate but we've moved Mr. Gavell out. Pending."

The hospital administrator, Mr. Cavanaugh, said, "This section has just been rebuilt."

"It looks pretty," said Seth Markur, deadpan.

"You'll keep things quiet right? This is a recuperative section. They need their sleep."

"We'll see him," said Dr. Gideon LaCroix.

"Just...be careful," said the administrator, wringing his hands.

The two men waited until they had walked away, and then Markur murmured, "Vampire?"

"Maybe. Restless dead, perhaps." He smiled. "Maybe it's a demon."

"I wish. They're easy if you know the name," Markur replied. "I don't smell one, though." LaCroix pushed open the door with his fetch stick and Markur followed closely behind, penknife in hand.

"Hello, Mr. Fazakas. How are you doing?"

"I'm fine. Stiffening up a bit, though." Mr. Fazakas was in his sixties, curly salt-and-pepper hair around the rim of his bald head. He was sitting in bed, the sheet gathered around his apple belly. "Tell you the truth, I haven't been pain-free since a building foundation fell on me in 82. Hurt my knees. I feel this good, I might go back to work. You're doctors?"

"He's the doctor," said Markur, standing back.

"I'm what's known as a traditional practitioner," said LaCroix. "Would you mind lying back for me and just relaxing?"

"Oh, you can't do that in the middle of a workday. You relax and you might not get up, heh-heh-heh."

"So true, Mr. Fazakas. Just lie still for a moment." LaCroix spoke in words that only spirits could hear. "What do you remember?"

"Call me Constantin," said Mr. Fazakas. "They came to wake me for my sleeping pill, but I was already awake. I haven't felt sleepy since."

"What holds you here?"

"Here? Nothing. My wife passed on, my son died in an accident, my daughter married a Catholic and then moved out West and became a lesbian. No grandchildren. I'd die if I could."

"But you stayed with your body."

"What else should I do? I'm lying in bed waiting. Now, though, I feel so good I might go back to work. They'll be surprised to see me at the shop."

"You didn't see a light? Or hear your wife?"

"Nope."

LaCroix turned to Markur. "No light. No agent, no psychopomp."

"That's odd. Usually spirits find their own ways to the afterlife." Markur looked around the room as if the answer were there.

"I can give him a fast trip."

Markur shrugged. "Do it then."

"Just lie back, Mr. Fazakas. I'm going to help you along." LaCroix opened his pouch and poured corn meal along the floor, spelling out mystic sigils and the names of spirits. Markur made sure the doors to the washroom and hall were shut as LaCroix took off his suit jacket. Then LaCroix started singing.

Finally, after fifteen minutes, LaCroix stopped and said, "It's done." He mopped sweat from his brow. "He's passed on."

"I'm still here," moaned Mr. Fazakas, "but I can't move."

"What--?" LaCroix bent over the dead man, and Markur gave a cry and knocked him aside.

"Demon!"

Fazakas' arms closed on empty space, missing LaCroix by inches.

"He knows me," growled the thing now wearing Fazakas' body. "Or does he?"

"I know you well enough," said Markur, and with a flick of his wrist his penknife extended to a full sword, and he gripped it with two hands.

"Just say my name and make me go away, then." The thing grinned, showing sharp fangs and shredded the bed sheets with fingers turned into claws.

"Vampire?" asked LaCroix, scrambling back on the floor as Markur kept himself between the two.

"Some vampires are demons. Demons under the Vampire King."

"Akazizel!" coughed the monster.

"What'd he say?"

"A name, but it's not the name of the Vampire King." Markur moved warily, trying to keep himself between LaCroix and the monster.

"Akazizel, you will roast in the lowest pits! Your banishment will not save you."

"You have a name I don't know about?"

"Yeah, but that's not it." Markur slashed once, and the monster flipped up the hospital bed to stop him. Floor tiles cracked. "Easy to banish demons if you know their names."

LaCroix spotted a crucifix on the table beside the other bed and grabbed it. He thrust it toward the monster, which hissed in response.

Markur leapt over the bed. The monster grabbed the IV stand and parried as they exchanged staccato blows.

LaCroix held his fetch stick high. "Your body is mine to command. The bodies of all the dead are mine." He stared at the body of Mr. Fazakas and focused his will--

The demon laughed. "You cannot banish me. This body is mine, now, and I shape it to my needs." It was barely recognizable as Fazakas now, lean and hungry, with long nails--claws--like swords, and teeth like sickles. It picked up a bedside table and threw it at LaCroix. Glass shattered and dropped musically to the floor. LaCroix was already somewhere else, his crucifix held forward as a shield.

While it was distracted, Markur cut the demon's hand off; the demon roared, and the hand began to crawl along the floor, claws scritching on the tile.

"Bind it!" shouted LaCroix.

"I can't, you wrecked the circle!" Markur slashed the hand in two, and each half began to move. Markur's nostrils twitched: each separated body part had become a vessel for a demon. "Three demons! Or more! It's a gateway!" He raised the sword high for a broad sweep, but LaCroix could not see at what. "Cover me!"

The demon swung at Markur, and LaCroix brought the crucifix down on its shoulder. Sulfurous smoke erupted, combining the worst of rotten eggs, bad meat, and vomit.

The demon roared again, and then: "I'll stitch your arm to mine for that, and use it to disembowel you!"

LaCroix leapt over the other bed and tumbled to the floor there. Markur cleaved a great hole in the floor; steam and other gases spurted up, obscuring Markur in a cloud of greenish smoke.

The demon was too angry at LaCroix to notice. He tossed the big hospital bed aside, to the window. The thick metal tubing of the bed frame crumpled like straws, but the window held.

Markur slashed the floor again, and this time water began to well up. LaCroix pulled the curtain between the beds, granting him a half-second to scramble out of sight.

The demon tore through the curtain and caught LaCroix in one rawhide hand, threw him ahead and out the door, where he could be skewered.

There were screams from outside. Two men and a woman shambled into the room, naked but for toe tags and evidence of violent deaths.

"Zombies?" cried Markur. He swore.

"Had to call them--I can't touch him," called LaCroix from the hall.

"Not until I've finished destroying the gateway!"

The first corpse reached the inside of the room and shuddered as a demon possessed it. "Too late," it growled.

The other two corpses stopped moving.

Grinning, the original demon scooped up one of the corpses and threw it into the room as Markur made a last cut at the ceiling. The corpse knocked him over and knocked his sword from his hand. Acrid smoke began to billow from the roof.

"Akazizel!" cried the newest demon even as its skin sloughed off, and sprang after the sword.

LaCroix waited to see what would happen with the zombie thrown into the room. He had no chance to see: the Fazakas-demon emerged from the room and charged him. LaCroix called his remaining zombies.

Markur couldn't see his sword for the acrid smoke filling the room, but he could see the newest demon scrambling for it, and he dove on the demon.

"Akazizel! Know that Zekabelial sent you to your vengeance--"

Markur spoke quickly, an ancient incantation of banishment, naming Zekabelial specifically, and the writhing skinless thing beneath him stopped moving. In the clear space beneath the clouds, he could see his sword, under a radiator.

GM's note: Yes, a Ritual. Hero point, nullify, lots of plusses for naming the demon specifically.

Without his sword's assistance, those vapors could knock him out. He crawled toward it.

In the hall, the demon realized what was happening. "Akazizelllll!" it screamed and carried the two zombies with it into the room. Just as Markur reached for his sword, the demon sank his claw into Markur's back, impaling him to the floor.

The demon chuckled like old oil draining from a car. "Almost lost. Not quite." The demon reached forward, and couldn't.

It was stuck by the same claw, deep in the floor. Dark blood spread slowly from Markur's body.

"You'll have to wait...for me...to die," gasped Markur.

"I'll wait. I have all the time in the world," said the demon. "And beyond."

"I don't think so," said LaCroix. He poured corn meal in a circle around the demon.

"What are you doing?" the demon struggled. The zombies dropped the two wriggling half-hands into the circle.

"Your body told me a secret before you had full control. Except I didn't know what it meant."

"What? Stop."

The zombies began to bang rhythmically on metal: a bedpan, a pitcher.

"It told me your name." LaCroix sang the incantation of banishment while the demon struggled, opening wider holes in Markur's body, while he winced and groaned.

LaCroix banged his stick on the ground. "Be gone."

The demon was gone. The zombies fell to the ground, lifeless corpses.

"Here," said LaCroix. "This is yours." He batted the sword to Markur, and fell to the floor.

Markur lay there amidst the wreckage, feeling his body grow whole again.

"How did we get this job?" asked LaCroix.

From his position on the floor, Markur said, "Campbell promised them less collateral damage than if superheroes handled it."

Lying in the rubble beside him, LaCroix laughed and laughed.

GM's Note: The gateway was a mystic artifact with the power Summon Demon Warrior (+1 heroic) (+1 General type), (-1 requires human body or body part vessel for demon to possess), with several progression feats. Total cost: 25 points.

The dismissal wasn't strictly by the rules; it should have taken much longer, as a nullify of level 7, for example. Instead, it was Mind Control, single command (-1, "go home without harming anyone!"), only on extradimensional visitors (-1), true name of target increases the difficulty of the demon's will save by 20. The last factor is almost a complication for this magic set.
Stories: Occult Investigation, Freedom City, Listening to the Universe
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Post by kipling » Thu Aug 31, 2006 12:47 pm

Sorry for not keeping up with this--found out last week I have a brain tumour, so I'm a little distracted. This may or may not continue, given the circumstances.

At least now I know what the headaches are.
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Post by kipling » Thu Jun 28, 2007 8:43 am

By the way, I ran an adventure in this series a little while ago, with three of the members of Occult Investigations stuck in a bank while it was being robbed by a Brain in a Jar.

The heroes threw few fists, because, well, everyone outranked them. Much talking was done.
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Post by Jongluer » Mon Jul 16, 2007 9:36 pm

Sorry to hear about the ailment. But I must say I do enjoy the series, it's fun stuff. Keep it up if you can, I hope things sort out for you.
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The No-Brainer

Post by kipling » Thu Aug 02, 2007 2:09 pm

The No-Brainer

The hostages had been lying on the floor for about twenty minutes when one of the uniformed flunkies they could sit against the wall. Jedediah Cabot didn't recognize the green and gray uniforms, but he assumed they belonged to the brain in a jar.

"But no talking!" barked the flunky.

"Well, it's not every day you see a brain in a jar," protested Cabot mildly. Beside him, Hutton nodded and Toomey grunted. Other hostages shushed him.

"They may bask in my magnificence," said the brain. "For I am...the Macabre Master Mind." The jar flew closer to the side of the bank so everyone could get a closer look. Its voice was slightly tinny coming out of the life support module.

"Lovely parietal region," said Cabot, naming the only part of the brain he could remember. "Good looking sulci."

"You know brains." It sounded surprised.

"A little," said Cabot.

"You may stand," said the brain, and flew away to tell his men something.

"How do you know so much about brains?" asked Lamb Hutton from the floor.

"I watched my family be vivisected," Cabot muttered to her.

The brain flew back. From the new angle, Cabot could see the entire brain in a jar. The tank supporting the brain was marvelously compact: the entire life support was hidden in the foot or so beneath the brain that also held the rockets or antigravity or whatever let something as unaerodynamic as that fly. The spinal cord was invisible--either it was coiled under the brain or it wasn't there. "I won't always look like this," the brain informed him.

"When the rest of us are gray-haired, you'll still be hanging in there and you'll look like you do now."

"Ah, but I'll have a body then. Psionic powers and super powers in one package. No need to use the machines: I'll be able to feel the wind in my hair, the sun on my face, the ground beneath my feet. Or the air beneath my feet; if I can fly, so much the better. And women. I'll have women."

"You have anyone in mind?"

"A few. I've set up diversions around the city to keep the others busy. I will be the new Centurion."

"You do know the Centurion is dead?"

"Oh." A beam of golden light lanced from the container to Cabot. "You're telling the truth. Dr. Tomorrow, then."

"Missing, presumed dead."

"The Raven?"

"You want to be a woman?"

The brain moved back a foot. "The Raven is a woman?"

"The new one is."

"I spent too long in the secret Antarctic redoubt."

"You did," agreed Cabot.

"I must go to the loo," said Toomey in his thick Irish brogue.

"Just a second. Superhero," said the brain.

A scarlet-clad gadgeteer had just appeared through the ceiling, lightning already dancing at the muzzle of the gun he held; two agents caught him in shimmering beams and held him immobile.

"Drop ceiling, air vent 12," said the brain, "that's how he got through."

The gadgeteer stood motionless. "He has no powers," said the brain. "Put him in the corner. Let's wait for the next one. Where's the one who needed the bathroom?"

"Jayz," said Toomey. "I don't have to go now."

"Take him anyway. Two guards, bathroom breaks one at a time."

One of the uniformed agents yawned. "All right. Me and--um, Carlisle, we'll take you. Come along, dwarf."

"I'm not a dwarf," said Toomey as he got up.

"Okay, midget," said another agent.

"Nor a midget," said Toomey.

"Agh, you reek of wine. Have you already been drinking? What'd you come here for? A handout?"

"To open an account, you buffoon. I don't think I will, now." Toomey disappeared around a corner with the men.

* * *

In the bathroom, Toomey shut the door. "I needs privacy," he said. What he needed was an idea. He could probably take one of them in a fight, maybe two, but a dozen was too many. The ceiling had access tubes built in, but he couldn't reach the ceiling. The corner of the bathroom had a tree in a planter, and he had one thought: Faerie gold.

But he'd like to do something immediate. Without wine near him, he couldn't travel to the office or even a nearby restaurant. His wine bottle, alas, was empty; he had drunk it dry while waiting. And changing water to wine was one of the seven bad miracles for members of Faerie, which he knew, but surely in this case...

He filled the bottle with water from the tap. Holding the bottle gently, gingerly, he felt the water inside it and the memory of the wine that had been in there. It had been an excellent oaked Chardonnay.

And it was again.

Delighted, he took a taste, just to be sure it was wine and not water. It was, in fact, an excellent oaked Chardonnay, and Toomey had a bit more. Then he had a bit after that, and he was just refilling the bottle with water when the guards broke into the washroom and escorted him out.

* * *

"He's trouble," observed the brain.

"Yup," said Cabot. "You couldn't smell him?"

"Cabot, I could fly or I could smell. The life support module is not that big. What happened to the male Raven?"

"Retired. By the way, we already have a villain named Mastermind."

"Soon there will be only one, and the world will tremble at my feet. When I have feet. My father named me Master Mind. I'll keep the name."

"He didn't know about the other one?"

"I'm sure he wanted me to destroy the other. My father knew everything!"

"I'll tell you something I don't know. How does a guy who never takes off his armour get a girl?" Cabot pulled a chair over and sat on it backwards, the back facing towards the brain.

"My mother was Erzebet Skorzeny."

"Let me see... Glamour Queen?"

"Right. In the eighties. You've studied your superheroes."

"When I was moving to Freedom City, yes. Las Vegas only had the High Rollers and Diva. And Erzebet Skorzeny had you." Probably for money, Cabot thought. If what I've heard is true.

"Yes. She gave up superheroing because of the Moore Act."

"Uh-huh," said Cabot. "And you're a psionic, like she was."

"Actually, I was without mother's powers."

"That must have been disappointed your father."

"He didn't know. He and mother had a falling out." The brain rotated once. "Mother wasn't the easiest person to get along with. She knew when I was lying, for instance, and she punished me by giving me these illusions... She often said that the only reason she got into superheroing was the money."

"I've heard that." I wouldn't think of it as a big moneymaker.

"When the Moore Act came along, all of mother's funds dried up. Pardon me; there's another superhero nearby." The brain moved to the center of the room.

An armored figure burst through one window, shedding glass shards for yards. Two of the flunkies fell down in pain. Its blue and gold metal gleaming, the armored figure lifted one hand but then froze, caught in the two beams. "Powered armor. Put him with the Scarlet Paladin or whatever his name was. Come, Jedediah." Cabot, nervously looking at the other hostages, went over to the brain.

"He's, uh, not handsome enough inside the armor?"

"Consider--his powers come from his armor and his mind. And his mind will be gone like guacamole dip if I use him."

"Right."

"You doubt my powers," the brain said. "I'll fight the next one."

"It's okay; let your boys handle him."

"I can do it."

"I never said you couldn't. Letting your minions do it, that's the smart way. The safe way." The brain clicked once at his emphasis on safe. "Other kids laugh at you because you were just a brain in a jar?"

"I was just a normal boy. They didn't know. I tried to tell them, but they thought I was lying. I read a lot. I wasn't as handsome as father."

"I thought he was in armor."

"He walked like a handsome man."

Cabot hoped that Toomey had teleported, or made himself smaller, or something, but he came out of the bathroom as if nothing had happened. Oh, of course...he can only travel between wine cellars, and a bank won't have one.

Toomey returned, looking happy and sheepish and still reeking of wine.

Lamb Hutton put up her hand. "If you don't need them for a minute, I really need to go to the bathroom."

"You may go."

Cabot was relieved that the brain hadn't read anyone else's mind: Toomey believed himself a member of Faery, and Hutton thought herself a witch; and both would be immobilized once the brain knew that. "There will be champagne when I get a body, Jedediah," said the brain.

"To replace the one you lost."

"Some nights I still remember the accident: the sizzling flesh, the explosions..."

"Ewww." He stopped a moment. "The explosions?"

"On a rainy night, I had just gotten my license and I went off the road, into a ravine. The gas tank blew up."

Cabot thought, No, they don't. Gas tanks rarely blow up--they make cars so the gas tanks rarely explode.

"Father rescued me. He was too late for Mother, and my...my body. But I'll have a new one."

"And you got to know your father."

* * *

Lamb Hutton looked around. There was a bit of dirt in the ladies' washroom: a potted tree in the corner. So she threw it at the guard's faces...and then what?

People would die, that's what.

If she had a lot of dirt, she could build a wall around the hostages, save them, but she didn't have a lot of dirt. She knew there was dirt beneath the bank, but how to touch it?

She reached out to it...tried to make it move...because she knew the dirt was there. All it had to do was enter the bank....

She tried again, fatigue settling on her like a blanket.

Failure. She was exhausted, unable to help more. The underside of the bank was too strong--maybe just the city, maybe against burrowing villains. She used the toilet, then washed her hands, and opened the door.

* * *

"Yes," said the brain confidently. "My father was a great man. He showed me his lab. Other than that, though, I didn't get to talk to many people in the redoubt, when I was recovering."

"There were underlings, I'm sure."

The brain floated farther away from people; Cabot followed it. "Underlings hardly count, they're too busy licking your boots--metaphorically speaking. And they're all clones anyway."

There seemed to be no volume control on the speaker. The costumed flunkies looked at each other. Looking at them, Cabot did notice a sameness in their height and build. "Of course," he said.

"Anyway. Being without a body, I developed these powers. Great powers. Here's a superhero now; you'll see."

There was a blur, and the flunkies were disarmed, with all their guns in a huge pile near the hostages.

"Stop," said the brain. "STOP!" A violet beam from the brain hit the blur. The blur stopped, revealing a young black man in blue and white tights, goggles, and a helmet.

"Behold my power, Jedediah. You! Re-arm my men."

The man disappeared, and then the flunkies had guns again, and the man was standing before the brain. "You see?" the brain said.

Cabot bit his lower lip. "So you have your body."

"And my powers won't leave me when I have a body back. But he's not suitable."

"Why not? He has super powers."

"Well... He's black."

"Yeah?" Cabot's best friend back in Las Vegas had been black. If he survived this, he should give Isaiah a call.

Hutton was led back. She gave Cabot a tiny shake of her head.

"Well..." said the brain. "Black men in America have a rough time of it. I need a white man." Green light lanced from the brain to the man and he crumpled to the floor.

"You wouldn't happen to have been white before?" I know Glamour Queen was white.

"That has nothing to do with it."

"Riiiiight," said Cabot.

"I'll take the next one."

"The next handsome young white male with super powers."

"That goes without saying."

"You better hope the Next Gen shows up. No, wait, they're half women and blacks."

"I can replace you."

"You'd better. I would think that you, a person without skin, know there's more to people than skin colour."

"I'm not saying he's inferior..."

"No, but you don't want to be him."

"Because of..."

"Because he's black," said Cabot. He hoped the brain couldn't hear his heart hammering in his chest.

"No."

"Because your father lied to you."

"No-- What about my father?"

"Look," said Cabot, "your mother had a force field, she could fly...what makes you think a car crash is going to take her out?"

"It was an accident."

"Gas tanks don't normally blow up. In fact, they make cars so gas tanks don't blow up, and yours did. Accident? My butt."

"She died. A piece of--"

"Did you see the body?" He was taking a chance, and he knew it. "Because if you didn't see the body, it didn't happen that way."

"Quiet!" said the brain, forgetting to use its powers.

"He can make clones!" shouted Cabot. "Why couldn't he clone you a new body? Because you hadn't developed powers yet, that's why!"

"Quiet!" said the brain, and this time it did remember its powers, because a violet light caught Cabot, and Cabot felt an overwhelming urge to be silent.

"I must..." the brain began. "I need... I need to talk to him."

It left the bank, and flew south. Bullets bounced harmlessly off its sides.

The flunkies looked at each other and fled.

Cabot was quiet, as he would be for days.

Hutton looked at Cabot and Toomey. "Too bad they already have any gold."

"No," said Toomey happily. "They have only fairy gold: the appearance of gold that will change back to being leaves tomorrow. I changed it while I was in the washroom."

Cabot managed to smile.

GM's Note: The heroes are the archetypes, of course. EDIT: Fixed some pronoun mistakes.
Last edited by kipling on Tue Sep 02, 2008 7:39 am, edited 3 times in total.
Stories: Occult Investigation, Freedom City, Listening to the Universe
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The Eschaton Dance, Part 1

Post by kipling » Thu Aug 09, 2007 10:17 am

THE ESCHATON DANCE, Part 1

"A van broke down outside," said Toomey, perched on a chair, his feet dangling.

Dr. Gideon LaCroix looked around. "And no one knows anything about vans but me?"

Toomey smiled. "Cabot's away. Talithe does, but--"

LaCroix sighed. "I know. She can't leave. She's the receptionist."

LaCroix approached the van. Three teenagers were standing around while the fourth, a blond, kicked the front grill. "Like, try it again, Teddy," said the boy watching. Teddy tried it again. He was built like a football player--eighteen, maybe.

"Hi," said the prettier of the two girls--women, LaCroix reminded himself. "Our van broke down. Can you give us a hand?" A redhead, she wore a purple minidress. Purple used to be the colour of royalty.

"Does this count as a beginning? Because if it is, he's the bad guy," said the other girl. "No? Let me check my notes."

"It's the second person, Wilma," said Teddy.

"But it's never anyone we haven't seen," she said.

"No," said Teddy, and he gritted his teeth and kicked the van again.

"You have to kick it harder than that," said the sloppily-dressed boy.

"You try it then."

"Let me look at it," said LaCroix. He lifted the hood and said, "How far have you driven?"

"Jinkies, I don't know," said the less-pretty girl. "We travel all over the country looking for secrets to unearth and mysteries to solve."

"And nothing...happens?"

"Oh, sure, we find mysteries," said Teddy, using his neckerchief to wipe his forehead.

I'd do both of you in the first week, LaCroix thought. And together the second week. And then he was glad his grandfather wasn't here to hear that; he was supposed to be controlling himself.

"But they're always guys in suits," said the purple one, wistfully. "What I wouldn't give for real supernatural stuff."

"How did you get this far?" LaCroix said, "The engine's a wreck, you have no distributor cap, the head gasket's blown. And it's old." He sighed. "You'd better come upstairs and use our phone."

And then he heard, "Ris Seth there?" At least, he thought heard it, because the man had a terrible speech impediment. And a Great Dane jumped out of the back of the car.

For a moment, LaCroix thought, A talking dog! How odd, and then that thought went away. He knew his emotions were being played with, but he didn't care. "No. He's getting ready for his first date in centuries. He took the afternoon off."

"Ruh-roh," said the dog, and looked beyond LaCroix.

A burning angel hung there: a cross suspended in the air, carrying a spear.

"Jinkies!" cried out one of the girls, and "Jeepers!" said the other one, and LaCroix was dimly aware of pictures being taken. There was the sound of running feet, and LaCroix stepped in front of the women, careful not to touch them.

"You are damned," said the angel. "You will burn forever!" And he pointed his spear and a ball of fire flew straight at the lineup of LaCroix, the women, and the dog.

LaCroix spun to grab the women and drag them away, but they had already dived for cover, and the ball of fire caught him, though he ducked. His suit was singed, not on fire yet, and LaCroix pointed his fetch stick at the angel. "May the darkness consume you!"

A ball of darkness eighty feet wide hung in the sky, where there had been a man. "Run!" LaCroix pointed to the building. "That won't hold long."

The angel rose out of the darkness, its white wings beating strongly. "Not long at all," said the angel. It aimed a bolt of fire at LaCroix, but LaCroix dodged it.

"Know fear," said LaCroix, and pointed the stick again. Wisps of things that might have been ghosts shot from it and wreathed the angel.

"Foolish mortal," said the angel. "I have no fear." This bolt of fire was closer and smoke rose from LaCroix's jacket. Thank goodness I have my gris-gris bag, thought LaCroix.

GM's Note: The gris-gris bag is Protection 5.

LaCroix redoubled his efforts. "That's...not...true." The wisps were thicker now; you could almost see them. LaCroix felt the sweat popping from his skin, though he looked as though he was only standing, holding a stick.

GM's Note: Extra Effort for +2 on the Emotion Control: Fear, and the player didn't want to waste his hero point yet.

Suddenly the angel clutched at his eyes. "I have failed. Forgive me, Father!" he wailed and he dashed away, through the air. LaCroix noted absently he was faster than the cars on the street.

Then LaCroix buckled. "Help me," he said to the teenagers.

* * *

The van had been towed away before the angel got back, and at Markur's boarding house the lady said he was out. "Like, I hope they're eating." Hairy cast a longing glance at the bar fridge that sat in the common room--the only room without a window. The dog went near it. "It's empty," said Hairy. "I already checked."

"Does the angel count as the second person?" asked Wilma.

"I think the towtruck driver does," replied Taffy. "I got his name."

"He barely spoke to us," said Ted. "I think we have to wait."

"What do you want with Seth, anyway?" asked LaCroix. He had forbidden Toomey and Daya from coming in here for fear of making them the second person Wilma was looking for.

"He knows about angels, right?" Teddy said.

"He knows about demons."

"Demons were just fallen angels," said Wilma. "In the myths."

"It's more complicated than that," said LaCroix. "From what he's told me."

"Dr. Severn says that angels are just a manifestation of our desire to believe."

"He would."

"He's my hero," said Wilma.

"He's a professor at my school." He said pointedly, "I'm on sabbatical."

"I think you're great," said Taffy. She smiled at him.

He murmured his thanks.

"So you don't think that angel was supernatural?"

"It'll turn out to be a hologram or a guy in a suit," said Wilma.

"But... there are powers."

"I've rarely seen them." He shook his head. It was like arguing with Cabot, but worse. She went on: "Even the Raven is just a highly-trained man. We had an adventure with him, so I know."

The Raven as a man had been retired since the early seventies. These kids were older than they looked if they had an adventure with him.

"Right," said LaCroix. He excused himself for a moment and got the toy from Daya's desk. It jostled a bit and then started rocking as soon as he brought it in the room. It clacked faster as he brought it toward Ringading. He didn't tell the kids: first, because there was no point in arguing with them; and second, because some secrets should be kept, at least until he knew the lay of the land.

"What's that?" said the pretty girl, Taffy.

"Executive toy. I bumped it--I was going to bring it in for Hairy to play with, but it's delicate."

Hairy ignored the toy. "Like, can we order out for pizza?"

LaCroix shrugged. "I would think so. The angel will come back, but we sometimes order out for pizza here. Toomey loves pizza."

"Toomey?"

"A co-worker."

"Will we meet Toomey?" asked Taffy.

"Will the pizza guy count as the second person?"

"Not if the tow truck driver doesn't," said Wilma.

"Then eventually."

* * *

The pizza guy had been and gone, and there were six empty boxes next to Hairy and Ringading. Everyone else was sharing one pizza when Cabot walked in. "Good day. The 'angel' hasn't returned yet."

Toomey and Hutton, who had been waiting in the doorway, burst in. "Oh, you should have seen it," Toomey said. "A burning angel it was, all lit up with fire. Fine work, LaCroix."

"You," said Wilma as she pointed at Cabot, "are the second one."

"I'm Jedediah Cabot. I'm one of the investigators here."

"Doesn't matter," she said darkly. "You're second."

"Terrific." To LaCroix he said, "Does that mean anything?"

"You're going to be the fall guy. Do you know where Markur is?"

"Probably shopping. I loaned him money for better clothes."

"You'll never get it back; mercenaries are notorious about that," said Toomey.

"I'll live." To LaCroix, Cabot said, "What do you mean, I'm going to be the fall guy?"

"The second person they meet is always guilty."

"But I'm part of a group they've already met."

"Good point," said LaCroix. "Wilma?"

"I withhold judgement for now," she said.

Teddy stretched. "We'll need a place to stay."

"Well, this house is protected, so you're probably best off to stay here," said Hutton. "I'd offer you my place, but I don't have one. I stay at the YWCA," she explained.

"I can take someone," said LaCroix. "My house is protected." Cabot rolled his eyes. LaCroix looked at Ted and Hairy. "But my couch is short."

"Oh, I'll try it," said Taffy quickly. She was using him, but so what? If they both used each other, that was fine with him. He just had to find out her status before they touched.

"I'll take the guys," said Cabot. "Toomey-- Where do you live, Toomey?"

"At home," Toomey replied, with a wave of his hand. Cabot nodded with understanding.

"No," said Wilma. "Someone's got to keep an eye on you. I'll stay at your place."

"I thought you were withholding judgement?"

"Just making sure. The boys will be fine here."

"Riiiight," said Cabot. "Toomey, stay with them."

"I will," Toomey said, and looked grateful.

"Like, guys? The angel's back. And he's brought friends."

"We might not get to our homes tonight," said LaCroix. He looked at Taffy. "Pity."

* * *

Cabot got up and looked out the window. Two black SUVs had pulled up and men in black got out. The Angel hung above them, his wings beating fast to hold him there.

"Talithe will keep them out. They don't want to create a scene."

"Will she do that?" asked Ted.

"If we ask her to."

"Like, you better hurry. They're coming up the walk," said Hairy.

Cabot headed out the conference room door--and Talithe said, "Great. I really need to use the bathroom. Can you watch the front?"

Cabot opened his mouth to say something, and then said, "Okay."

"Great!" She scurried off. Cabot sat down in the warm seat.

Two men in black suits walked in. They wore sunglasses and carried Bibles. The older one, in his fifties, was slightly winded from walking up the stairs. Presumably they saw that the bookstore had a female owner and the Sweet and Low Down wasn't open yet; LaCroix had to have come from here.

"May I help you?" asked Cabot politely. He hadn't been a combatant, so he wasn't worried about being recognized.

"Yes. We're looking for a man," said the older one. He gave a reasonable description of LaCroix.

"I don't think I know him," lied Cabot.

"We believe that he might have committed a crime," added the younger one.

"Might we see your staff?"

"No," said Cabot. "Most of our staff are in the interview process with clients right now. I can certainly take your number and ask them if they want to call you back, Mister--?"

"Talbot," said the older man. "Larry Talbot." Cabot gave no sign he recognized the name. He wrote down the number the man gave him.

The younger man said, "You should repent now. The end is nearer than you think."

"Thank you," said Cabot. "I'll keep that in mind."

They left. A minute later, Talithe returned. "Who was that?"

"Missionaries," said Cabot. "Don't let them in, okay? Tell them nothing."

She nodded and when Cabot went back into the conference room he found everyone hiding from the window and Wilma whispering, "He phoned the angel's people."

"I didn't," said Cabot. "Why are the blinds shut?" He pulled back the edge of the blind to see the angel's wing brush the glass as the angel looked into the conference room. "Ah."

"We need a plan, gang," said Ted. "A trap?"

"Of course," said Wilma.

"I thought you were avoiding the angel. Now you want a trap?" asked Cabot.

"With a trap, like, we're in control," said Hairy.

"And we like being in control," said Taffy, with a raise of her eyebrow meant for LaCroix. Cabot noticed but said nothing.

"Ringading, you'll be the bait."

"Ruh-ruh."

"Would you do it for a Ringading-Dong?" Said Taffy, holding up a snack.

"Ro way!" Ringading shook his head.

"Two Ringading-Dongs?"

"Like, I'd do it for two."

"Nope, we'll need you to swing the molasses can," said Ted. "It's gotta be Ringading."

"Rope."

"All right, you tyrant. Three Ringading-Dongs."

"Raw right." Ringading happily ate the three sticks in Wilma's hand. Cabot thought they looked like dried human fingers.

"We're going to hang a net under one of the trees near the front of the property. Wilma, you and I will drop the net on the angel when he swoops down to grab Ringading. Hairy, you're the best thrower of us, so you'll swing the molasses can to get rid of that spear. Taffy, I'll need you to give the signal when the angel is under a tree. Ringading will be the bait."

"Do you want help?" asked Hutton. "I could make a wall..."

"No offense, but we're experienced in this sort of thing. You aren't."

LaCroix expected Cabot to be offended, but all he said was, "Hey, go with it. Best not let me see it; Wilma is worried I'm the enemy as it is."

He drew Cabot outside the room and asked his reasons.

"Look," said Cabot. "It doesn't work or it does. If it doesn't, I haven't lost anything. If it does work, we find out who's employing the angel."

"What if it doesn't, and it makes the employer angry?"

"Not our lookout," said Cabot. "We haven't even seen from the Toon Gang. It's a gang of kids and their dog."

"Potentially immortal kids and their dog." He filled in Cabot on the comment about Raven. "Who knows what kind of enemies they've collected in their time?"

* * *

Ringading moved back and forth on the sidewalk, waiting to be spotted by the angel. "Hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm," he hummed. "Hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm." The detectives watched from a second-storey window. Suddenly the angel detached himself from a house across the street, snatched up the dog, evaded the net, and flew away.

"Well, crap," said Ted. "That's never happened before."

"We'll save you, Ringading!" cried Hairy. "Though, like, I don't know how."

* * *

Cabot was already looking up the phone number in the reverse directory. "Please let it not be a cell phone," he said. "Here it is. The Wolfram Group. Hold on while we see who owns them." He popped a CD in the computer. Hutton peered over his shoulder.

"They're a wholly owned subsidiary of Rapture Industries."

"I know that name," said LaCroix. "Reverend Fate?"

"Yup," said Cabot. "Immanentizing the Eschaton since 1995. He opened a church in Las Vegas about six years ago."

"Wait," said Toomey. "What's immanentizing the whatsit?"

"Reverend Fate thinks we should embrace the Rapture and the second coming of Christ. He's working to bring about armageddon."

"No thought for those of us without souls," said Toomey.

"What does he want with Ringading?" asked Hutton.

"Good question," said Cabot.

"Well, he talks," said LaCroix. The others looked at him, not comprehending. "He's a talking dog."

GM's Note: Yes, LaCroix made his will save, the new one.

"Yeah, so?"

LaCroix looked at them. "Of course. It is Freedom City."

They could hear the heavy tread on the stairs: the gang was returning without Ringading. Cabot let Hutton do the talking. "Got a lead on him," she said. "Easy-peasy. He's being held by people who are employed by Reverend Fate."

"Who?" asked Ted.

"We'll explain on the way." Somehow only Hairy and Taffy were with LaCroix while the rest rode with Cabot.

"Like, I hope the ol' Ringster's okay," said Hairy.

"It will be okay," said Taffy as she patted his arm.

"I can't stand being away from him too long."

An awful thought hit LaCroix. He said, "He means that literally, doesn't he?"

"We all get nauseated after a couple of days, but it hits Hairy the worst." She wrinkled her nose. "He starts vomiting. Disgusting."

"And you've been with Ringading for thirty years?"

In the back seat, Hairy moaned. "I don’t think it's a good idea to tell our secrets."

"Forty," she said to LaCroix. "Does that make me less interesting to you?"

LaCroix smiled. "Actually, it makes you more of a challenge."

* * *

"We have to assume Reverend Fate got what he wants," said Cabot.

"But why would he want Ringading?" Hutton asked. "Wilma? Ted?" They were quiet.

"The obvious answer is that he's not a dog," said Toomey.

"Obvious to you," Cabot said.

"It’s Freedom City."

"Right," Cabot conceded with a nod.

"Reverend Fate is a brand of Christian—"

"We're not all like that," said Hutton.

"I said a brand of Christian," said Toomey. "So whether it’s true or not--" Toomey looked at Wilma "--he thinks Ringading is a demon. He wouldn't kidnap an angel."

"Okay," said Cabot. "I buy it. So what do we do?"

"Well, if he wants to immanentize the whatsit, he'll be forcing Ringading to give up the shape of a dog. To reveal he's a demon."

"Oh," said Ted. "Then it won't work."

"No, it will just kill the dog."

Ted and Wilma groaned.

* * *

GM's Note: Markur's player is preparing for Pennsic, so he wasn't there. This is two-thirds of what we played.
Last edited by kipling on Mon Sep 17, 2007 10:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
Stories: Occult Investigation, Freedom City, Listening to the Universe
Not sick now, the tumour is out--thanks for wondering!

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The Eschaton Dance, Part 2

Post by kipling » Sat Sep 08, 2007 1:17 pm

The Eschaton Dance, Part 2


They burst through the door at Wolfram, expecting to overwhelm a secretary. Instead, there were six missionaries waiting for them.

Cabot said a rude word. The missionaries stepped behind office furniture, opened their Bibles, and began to read.

"Spells!" yelled Toomey, and he, Hutton, and LaCroix dived to the sides, LaCroix dragging Taffy with him. Bolts of lightning arced from the ceiling to where the first six had stood, hitting Cabot and Ted. Cabot was wearing enough metal to carry the current to the floor, but Ted wasn't, and the force of the bolt knocked him down.

Toomey rolled and tackled the nearest missionary at the knees; he went down, Bible and sunglasses flying. Hutton gestured, and the earth in a potted plant rose and re-formed itself as a dark globe around another missionary's head. He clawed at it. LaCroix gestured with his staff and a third one stood, motionless, sweat breaking out as he fought the fear.

Cabot pulled his pistol for a fourth missionary, but the lightning bolt had fused metal parts of his pistol, rendering it useless. He swore again and dodged to the side.

The three remaining missionaries read aloud. This time the lightning bolts hit Hutton, LaCroix, and Toomey. Hutton fell against a desk and was unconscious; LaCroix put fear into another missionary; and the missionary against Toomey held him off by holding his head. Cabot charged forward to hit the man. The man fell, and didn't get up again.

Hairy clamped his hand over another missionary's mouth. "Like, you don't get to talk here." Toomey hit the missionary in the belly, and he fell down. Toomey hit him again and he stayed down. Then Toomey hit the man Hutton had englobed. He didn't move again.

LaCroix and Cabot each hit the last missionary, and he fell down. Then Cabot went to check on Hutton. She soon stirred.

"Take it easy. Scalp wounds are nasty."

"We have to get Ringading," she said.

"No, now we let the authorities do it. He's just a dog."

LaCroix said, "Um. He's not. Whatever he is, he's not just a dog."

Wilma was going through the wastepaper baskets. "Here," she said. She held up a long grey-white feather. "The angel has been here. Which means Ringading was here!"

They looked at the unconscious bodies. "None of these is 'Talbot,'" said Cabot. "So more will be waiting with the Reverend."

"How do we find out where they are?"

"We wake one of them up or..." Cabot looked at the secretary's desk, the same desk near the feather. There was a notepad on it. He took a pencil from the desk drawer and lightly stroked it. "Or we bring up the last thing written on this pad. It might help." He used the Internet browser on his cell phone to check the address he got. "It's an abandoned hangar."

"Lots of room for occult shenanigans," said LaCroix. Taffy was looking at one of the Bibles. "The spells are written in Enochian. I recognize the alphabet, but I can't read it."

"I know Enochian," said Wilma. "But it was a fraud."

"It was," agreed LaCroix, "but all the angels know it now." He shook his head. "Stuck up lot, angels."

In the mean time, Cabot had peeled the shirt off a missionary. "Nakedness is a great talk-inducer, and it helps wake him up. Hairy, can you fill this jug with water? Bathroom appears to be over there."

"Where did you learn this stuff?" asked Wilma.

"News stories about Abu Ghraib," said Cabot.

* * *

Half a block from the hangar, Cabot stopped. "We need a plan."

"If we had a wheelbarrow, a flashlight, and a blanket--" began Ted.

"A real plan, not one of your ideas, Ted. I wouldn't be surprised if you've coasted on the powers of this dog-who-is-not-a-dog. Lamb, the glove compartment has binoculars. See who's in the parking lot."

Cabot's phone rang. It was LaCroix. "There's a guy watching the parking lot, main entrance at the side. Four other men in black. In the middle, two dozen cultists, the angel, and the Reverend."

"Ringading?"

"Bound in the center of a big pentacle."

"How do you know these things?"

"That's my gift." He didn't tell Cabot about his grandfather's spirit. "He's doing the reveal now, and the gate at midnight."

"Can he do that?"

"I don't know. If it's what I think, all we have to do is break the circle and Ringading can come out. Markur would know, but he doesn't have a cell phone, and his landlady is tired of answering the phone for me."

"Great." Cabot relayed the information to the others in his car. Then, to the phone he said, "We have eight people. Run it like a football play? Four of us take the missionaries in black, two the angel, and one destroys the circle while the other takes the Reverend?"

"No," said LaCroix. "All of us take the missionaries as silently as we can, and designate some to get to the Reverend if possible."

Cabot chewed his thumb. "Are they close enough together for us to do that?"

A pause. Then: "Yes. If we move now."

Cabot filled the others in. "If you find yourself without an opponent, move on. The main objective is to stop the Reverend and free Ringading. LaCroix tells me we can do it by breaking the circle."

"If you believe him," said Wilma. "He is part of your team."

"I think it's safe to say they're good guys, Wilma," said Ted. "They're helping us."

Tney got out of the car. "Just a moment," said Hutton. She went to the grassy boulevard and chanted. A blocky figure made of earth rose up, seven feet tall. Stones projected here and there from the dirt. "Now I'm ready."

GM's Note: She made the golem with Create Objects, then she paid a hero point to have Animate Objects on her earth control, at Rank 4.

The rocky figure strode to the side door and tore it off its hinges. The missionaries inside were startled to see it--they had expected to see the eight people who followed.

"Attack the men in black suits!" ordered Lamb.

Two of them put away their Bibles and drew their pistols; surely a lightning bolt would have no effect on dirt, but a pistol--

The other three read their spells, in voices that struggled to keep calm.

Cabot and Ted caught one as he pulled out his pistol, Cabot low, Ted high. Cabot missed, but Ted hit him, and the man went down. LaCroix hit another with a pistol, and he went down. Toomey took one of the ones reading; the man fell to the ground almost instantly.

The creature of earth took the two remaining lightning bolts. They fused it into a solid mass, and it moved no more.

GM's Note: That's what happens when your minion fails its Toughness save.

Wilma, Taffy and Hairy tackled one of the reading missionaries, but Wilma swung so vigorously she lost her glasses. "I can't see!" she cried. Taffy and Hairy both missed. "Like, we're coming, Ring!"

Toomey finished him off.

* * *

Deeper inside the abandoned hangar, the Reverend Fate lifted an eyebrow at the sound of the door being ripped off its hinges, but kept reading. Ringading whimpered, as arcane forces ripped at his body.

* * *

"Crap," said Cabot. He pulled himself off the floor and dove at the missionary who had no one near him, the one near the inside entrance. The man kept his Bible as he fell, and Cabot took him to the ground, unharmed. The man read, and there was no lightning bolt. Cabot thought, "Different spell." The man stood and kicked at Cabot, but with the strength of five men. Cabot grunted.

Lamb gestured, and the entire creature flew at the man. He went down, and the statue shattered with a loud crash, leaving behind only earth and shells where it had been fused. GM's Note: The player rolled a 20.

Cabot pulled himself out of the dirt and said, "So much for subtle." He grinned.

Ted said, "Let's rescue Ringading!"

Cabot said, "Then you go first."

Ted, Hairy, Wilma, and Taffy stepped through the door.

The fireball from the angel took all four of them down.

* * *

Crouching beside the door, LaCroix said, "Lamb, can you make a wall to shield us?"

"Sure." She used the dirt from the creature, and it lifted and formed into a rectangle.

LaCroix said, "When we get through, scatter. The angel can't hit all of us."

Toomey said, "And the objective is the dog?"

"Right. Destroy the circle, carry the dog out."

Cabot took out his pistol. "In case."

LaCroix said, "Run!"

They scattered into the hangar, Toomey heading straight for the circle.

From his spot, Cabot aimed for the Reverend. He grazed the Reverend in the leg, but didn't break the tall man's concentration. Around the circle, members of the church kept invoking the ritual. "Blast!" thought Cabot. "Not enough bullets for all of them."

Lamb threw the wall at the angel. She missed, and the wall fell apart when it fell on the other side of the circle, leaving a mound of dirt.

Toomey scraped the circle with his foot, but to no avail. He realized it was painted on, so he ran to the center of the circle, intent on bringing out Ringading. Fortunately the circle was not attuned to Fey, only creatures of Hell.

The angel found himself in a globe of darkness that nearly touched the floor.

A moment's flight brought him out of the chill darkness, near the wall of the hangar.

Cabot ran forward and shot at the Reverend again, but missed this time.

Lamb hit him with the dirt, but he still kept on reading.

Toomey tried to take the dog out of the circle...and found he couldn't. It was as though the dog were held in place by a wall.

LaCroix tried to put fear into the angel again, but couldn't.

The angel fired at LaCroix...and a bolt of fire hit him, and even through his protective juju hurting him, frying the arm with the staff. GM's Note: LaCroix was staggered and stunned by the shot.

A bolt of fire shot past Lamb's ear, and she made the mass of dirt rise again, this time as a clip to pin his wings. He was moving too fast for her.

Toomey left the circle, running as fast as he could, and he knocked the Reverend down.

"It's too late," said the Reverend. "Do you see what you've been cavorting with?"

In the circle, clouds of smoke obscured Ringading. They could make out little except a huge pair of bat wings and a man-like figure, over twelve feet tall.

"Forget about breaking the circle," said Cabot. He pointed the pistol at the Reverend's head. "Call off your angel."

"I've won," said the Reverend. At Cabot's push, he said, "Stop attacking these people."

"Louder." The chanting of the churchmembers broke off. They looked at each other, confused.

"Stop attaching these people!" The angel backed off, wings beating faster to hover.

"No portal tonight," said LaCroix as he walked over. He was favouring his burned arm.

"But I've still proven the dog is a demon!"

"They didn't see a thing," said LaCroix, inclining his head to the teenagers.

"And all I see is a winged humanoid," said Cabot. "Could be any of six or seven superheroes, for all I know."

"He's in a circle!" said the Reverend.

"No, he's not," said Hutton, and dirt erupted all through the circle as it rose into the air from beneath the floor. The floor cracked and crumbled as the dirt rose higher into the air, making clouds that billowed. The churchmembers moved back, away from the dirt and dust, and then they all fled, leaving only the Reverend and the angel.

"You fool! You've destroyed the circle! Now he'll eat us all!"

"No," came a deep voice. "Just you."

A tentacle lashed out of the clouds and seized the Reverend, drew him in. There was a scream and then silence.

"Golly," said Lamb quietly.

Out of the clouds trotted a Great Dane.

Toomey said, "I thought you were a demon."

"RI rike being a dog. It's fun." He paused a moment. "And demons never say Rank Rou." He laughed, a wheezing giggle, then went over and began to lick Hairy's face.

* * *

"I hope I was up to your expectations," said Taffy.

"I hope I was up to your needs," said LaCroix.

They were standing in the sunshine, waiting for the Enigma Engine to return from the shop.

"Did they--?" Lamb whispered to Toomey. LaCroix held three fingers behind his back.

Toomey nodded. "I'd say yes."

"I'm sorry I suspected you," said Wilma. "But it's always the second person we meet. Always. And who knew that the Reverend had built an elaborate switching mechanism under the floor of the hangar?"

"I'm sure you could have guessed."

Just then the Enigma Engine pulled up, with Ted at the wheel.

"Like, I'm sorry the Reverend skipped the country before he could be brought to trial."

Toomey said, "I don't think you'll have to worry about the Reverend."

"Rat's right!" said Ringading, and he burped. Hutton caught the button that flew out and hid it.

The four teenagers laughed, then said their good-byes and left.

Cabot waved as they left. "Listening to Wilma was...instructive," he said to Hutton.

"Oh?"

The other two stopped before going back into the building.

"Listening to her twist things around...well. There might actually be something to this magic business. It's at least as plausible as superpowers."

"Cabot, there might be some hope for you yet," said LaCroix.
Stories: Occult Investigation, Freedom City, Listening to the Universe
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kipling
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Post by kipling » Wed Dec 12, 2007 8:52 am

I'm about halfway through a story starring Raven in Freedom City, based on a suggestion by Libra (though it corresponds with one of the suggestions in the 1001 Freedom City threads).

The question is, when it's done, does it go here? Or in the Bedlam City thread (at http://www.atomicthinktank.com/viewtopic.php?t=25541)? Or in a new thread? All three occur in the same "setting" -- my version of Freedom City. I don't like multiplying threads for no good reason, but this is in Freedom City but more like the Bedlam City thread, but features different characters...

Well. You see my point.

Anyway. Would you be bothered by unrelated stories in this thread, or should I post it here or in the other thread? The story's not even done yet, so there's time to think about it. Let me know.
Stories: Occult Investigation, Freedom City, Listening to the Universe
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Post by kipling » Fri Apr 04, 2008 10:37 am

Oddly enough, new one coming. Done without the benefit of Book of Magic, so I'm sure you'll tell me where I went wrong. :)
Stories: Occult Investigation, Freedom City, Listening to the Universe
Not sick now, the tumour is out--thanks for wondering!

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