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Saturday, 1 July 2017

Dead Drop

Previous session: Digging up Dirt 
Locust, the Whisper joins up with the crew. He's a young Skovlander who knows Paving because he's a scribe for Quellyn, a local witch. She lives aboard a decommissioned Leviathan Hunter waiting for final paperwork to be broken up. His burgeoning powers were useful to Quellyn in her attempt to summon and bind Setarra (an ancient demon) - but the attempt failed and now Setarra is seeking them out in order to free itself fully. 
In the few blocks of government buildings on the north end of Crow's Foot that passes for their hunting grounds they have identified a covert drop, run by an Iruvian named Sanaat (who works regularly with the Cyphers). They concoct a complex plan to bring the operation under their control. Posing as regular customers, they will leave an ensorcelled item into Sanaat's care so that they can identify the secret location used by him for his operations. In their investigation they discover that the front of the operation is a book store and cafe frequented by civil servants and what passes for well-to-do in Crow's Foot. The operation is also frequently used by the Iruvian Consulate, and is protected by the Red Sashes.

Shrike the Cutter stands uncomfortably in the formal blue dress alongside Hammer the Leech in a black suit. Hammer's friend Eckerd (a corpse thief) helped acquire both outfits. Sanaat spots them enter and obviously recognises them as customers for his secretive business. He invites them to a large bureau at the back of the shop and offers them tea. Paving the Spider has discerned that all the Iruvian requires is a reference from a trusted compatriot, so they have used 'Thena', who fortunately is out of the country at the moment, so Sanaat cannot confirm their credentials.


After some chit-chat, the tea arrives, and he holds out his hands for the item to be taken in. She explains that she needs the item to be held for a time until she can safely claim it back. He delicately wonders if it is thieves or creditors she fears; and while she does not confirm, he understands that it is creditors after her prized heirloom that she's holding out on. Hammer scoffs when he suggested she might be afraid of thieves taking him on. He examines the piece, a somewhat plain glass bracelet is made to seem valuable by being - inside an expensive lacquered wooden box, along with the trapped ghost inside which makes it glow an iridescent red. Sanaat's suspicions are belied and the box disappears below the desk, and he outlines the steps when she wishes to conclude their arrangements and retrieve the item. They leave, happy that their ruse was successful.

***

The ghost returns to Locust after midnight. It describes the short trip and the place it emerged from - out the back entrance of the bookshop and across the alleyway is a hookah and coffee shop, run by the Red Sashes. There's a bedsit on the top floor and then the box was placed inside a cubbyhole under the bed - there was some kind of spirit screen or protection that made the ghost's escape a little more difficult that it should've been.

Later on that night, Locust sits in the corner; partaking of his table's hookah and maybe enjoying it a bit too much. Paving walks in, scanning the place with his usual careful attention and ordering a coffee. Hammer and Shrike are making their way across the laneway from a building opposite via rope.

Hammer lands quietly on the window sill of bedsit, and takes out the carefully concealed burglar's toolkit from the thieves' rigging. Cutting through one of the window's pane's, he's ready to unlock from the inside when the curtains open right in front of him and a sleepy woman stares directly into his eye. Too startled to do anything for a moment, when she opens her mouth to scream, Hammer has had time to draw a syringe from a pocket and inject her with standstill - it's effective and the woman drops to the floor like a statue.

They climb in and Hammer goes directly under the bed. The joins on the cubby hole are so well done that if he didn't know what he was looking for, he'd have no chance of spotting it. He examines the setup, to make sure there are no alarms set, but apparently Sanaat relies on subterfuge to secure the goods. Unlocking the hatch, Hammer is caught off guard when a trap triggers and the box inside goes across the veil into the ghost field. It's gone and there's nothing he can do to touch it. Hammer has bigger worries though, as a trapped ghost lurches out at him, hungry and murderous...


Downstairs, Locust's attention is wrenched from the game going on to the sudden appearance of a ghost upstairs. The smoke billows in an unnatural fashion, and most others in the room just shiver for no particular reason. The Whisper knows exactly what's happened though. He jumps up and makes for the back stairs up to the bedsit.

Paving gets up, suddenly unsteady with alcohol or other drugs found in a vice den like this. He engages one of the two armed Red Sashes overseeing the room, claiming that he's a city health inspector and that there's a problem with the sewage in the basement. The young thug looks confused and a bit panicked by the official-looking documentation Paving pulls from an inside pocket. She tells him that he'll have to stay there, she's getting the manager, and she walks down the corridor to get someone who'll know what to do.

Paving quickly ushers Locust down that corridor and upstairs, staying behind to deal with the fallout.

**

With the ghost trying to force its way into Hammer and consume his soul, the Leech resists desperately, falling to the floor and struggling. His attempts to shut the ghost out cause him to lose consciousness and as the ghost tries for another way in, Shrike draws and strikes in one fluid motion. Electrostatic energy cascades from her hands and all the way up the sword and as the attack concludes, the blue lightning flickers through the entire ghost's being, destroying it in an instant and shattering the blade in two.

Locust surges into the room, just to see the electroplasmic energy disappear back into the Cutter's fists. He's angry at Shrike for the needless destruction of a ghost. Hammer sits up, with a vicious look in his eye, he turns on Locust who's standing above him with a snarl, but the Whisper doesn't waste time. Swiftly pulling down his spirit mask he tackles opening a portal into the ghost field where the sought-after box now lies. The bizarre harlequin's mask covers his entire face, even that which usually shows the actor's jaw and mouth. Deathly white, it makes even Shrike and Hammer shiver with some unknown existential dread.


Paving eyes up the rest of the room. The other Red Sash at the front door is looking at him warily, but he does spot another useful idiot. Una, a low-level magistrate from his department has just been knocked out of a game she was sure to win; and he reckons her desire for betterment and/or revenge will make her a willing accomplice. He beckons her over to him, and with a smile tells her that he and the owner have a bet that no one could lift the strong box behind the bar. She frowns and shakes her head - wondering if he knows Mel? When he blanks on the name, she walks past him and out the back door.

Moments later, an older Red Sash comes out from the rooms, with the younger one pointing at Paving from behind. The grizzled and wary man walks over, and wonders who the hell Paving is. Paving spins a tale that he's checking out security on the place for the Cyphers, and 'Mel' shakes his head. Staring Paving down, he tells the Spider to get lost, pointing at the front door. Paving certainly gets the message; if he's spotted in her by Mel again, there'll be trouble (but not if he sees Mel first!).


Locust applies his full power to extract the box from the ghost field, and with Shrike helping (not helping!) manages to force it out, even spilling it out onto the floor and bypassing the physical security. As he stands up, satisfied with himself, the door opens behind them all.

Sanaat walks in, looking hurried - though his worried look switched to panic as he first notices the woman on the floor, and then the three scoundrels arrayed inside the room. Locust draws a knife and leaps at the man; Shrike, wondering what the hell the Whisper is thinking, kicks out and Locust sprawls to his knees - the knife sliding across the floorboards to Sanaat's feet.

Hammer stands up off the bed, pulling out a grenade and yelling at Sanaat that if he moves he'll blow them all to smithereens! He lights the fuse for added effect. Shrike doesn't know what to make of this, and Sanaat isn't convinced, turning tail and running pell-mell down the stairs. Hammer drops the grenade, and is terribly confused by this turn of events.

Actually, Shrike just did a nerve strike to the Leech's elbow, forcing him to drop the grenade. She catches the grenade before it hits the floor and pulls out the flickering fuse without so much of a second thought.

Halfway down the stairs, Flint, a friend of Locust's (and spirit trafficker) waits. He shows Sanaat a pistol and waves the man back upstairs.

*

Back at their lair, Sanaat wakes up from his stupor and they pull the bag off his head. He's sitting, unrestrained in an overstuffed chair with tea and cake in front of him. There's a scratchy phonograph playing in the corner. Paving proposes a reasonable solution, considering that they'll all be better off if the Red Sashes remain ignorant of their arrangement - with Hammer tossing a grenade in the background, Sanaat is very convinced and will remain so.

The items in the box under the bed included a last will and testament from a rich merchant who died several months ago - however the details therein don't mesh well with what they recall from the aftermath. So they'll do a bit of research with their friends amongst the Ink Rakes, and find a good angle to make that blackmail pay off for them.


They also advance their project to extort Grace (Shrike's erstwhile friend) and they gather everything they'll need to leverage a nice bag of coin out of her. Shrike herself delivers the bad news, arriving at the Fitzroy pub (where her brother's gang usually hang out). Grace is surprised to see her, casually shifting in her seat so that the dagger under a cushion is within easy distance. Shrike shakes her head, telling the extortionist that if it was going to come to that, she'd already be bleeding out on the floor. After hesitantly telling Grace that she's going to pay them, Grace grins. She knows they've got her over a barrel, but laughs as she outlines how Shrike should be applying the pressure.

Shrike comes back later on with the documentation, and looks on as Grace reads carefully through it all. Grace marks out all of the names of interest (she's obviously thinking of revenge, or counter-extortion) and after each page is finished with, it ends up in the fire. She hands over several full purses of silver, and then a small bag of gold coinage - that last one has to be from her emergency/retirement fund.

Hammer also finds that the last will and testament pays well - they've all put in a load of work to find out that this is a true document, and that things were not distributed as the dead merchant wished - they force the de facto heir to pay up a substantial sum from his petty cash for them to keep quiet.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Digging up Dirt

A new crew of Shadows gathers in Crow's Foot. Their lair is in the blocked off basement underneath the district offices of the Dept. of Paving & Verges.

Curt Seldom aka 'Paving', the Spider, is an Akorosi clerk who has a back office job in the Paving and Verge Department. An underclerk, really, immune to notice. Age has crept over his youth, infiltrating his eyes and tightening his mouth. He's thin to the point of bleakness, fingers always stained with a bit of ink, so the quicks of his nails are gray.


Mara Penderyn, aka 'Shrike', the Cutter, is one of the two surviving children of the Penderyn family, Mara and her older brother Adric were adopted by a long-time friend of the family, Dr Morlan Erdrad. An occult scholar, Dr Erdrad noted the children's innate sorcerous potential, and took them under his wing as apprentices.


Ring Helles, aka 'Hammer', the Leech is a Tycherosi construction worker. His demon blood is apparent from the bone spurs growing out of her skull instead of hair. He knows Paving from work, and the Spider was keen to bring in the gifted saboteur in.

**

Paving is feeling some heat from Jeren, the Bluecoat archivist who has been a thorn in his side for a while now. He's hatched a plan to direct some trouble Jeren's way, whilst compiling a blackmail file on Grace, the extortionist who is Shrike's enemy. They're going to hijack a wagon of casework which is being transported from the Bluecoat station to the courthouse.


They've gotten a worn Bluecoat uniform from Laroze, their favourite friend-in-common. Hammer turns up as the wagon is loading up, and jumps up beside the driver without too much comment. Bluecoats are always hitching a ride on these trips to the courthouse. Just as they lurch into motion another person leaps up, this time finding purchase on the rear step. Hammer can't tell who it is, and the other won't know anything about this unexpected twist when they plan triggers.

Earlier that day, near the main crossing into Charterhall, they arranged an accident to occur on demand. Hammer greased the axles of a delivery wagon and tampered with the brakes. A simple push from a child would set it careening down the street. And that's exactly what it does. Shrike leans against the wagon, and it begins its roll just as the Bluecoats round the corner. It hits a sabotaged cobble, catching the wheel, causing the wagon to flip. That blocks the way across the bridge, sending cabbages flying.

Alya. the driver of the Bluecoat wagon pulls it to a halt. She looks one way, and then the other; trying to figure out what the best way to go is. Hammer points down the narrow laneway to the left, saying that it'll take them to Charterhall the quickest.
From the rear step, a confident voice rings out to countermand his direction. It's Danvers, a junior lieutenant from the station house. He reckons that the underpass at the hollow of that alleyway is too low to let them pass. He points the other way, the safe way...

From a window above them, Paving opens his lantern, signalling to Salia, his favourite broker of secrets. Salia has a connection with the canal dockers and has drummed up a demonstration for rights to match the unionised dockers who work the Leviathan Hunter fleet. A couple of dozen of chanting dockers, with signs and cudgels comes up the road, and Danvers decides discretion is the better part of valour, gesturing for Alya to take Hammer's route. She has to jump down to haul the goats away from their surprise feast of cabbages but they get moving fast enough.

The alleyway is narrow and the cobbles are grimy and slippy. As they work through the detritus of crates and pallets, Hammer offers the rest of them a cigarette, from his special box. It only has a few cigarettes inside, but with a special spring that gives him a particular one on demand. The rest are laced with Skullfire poison (which'll give anyone a blinding and debilitating headache for a while). Rosser locked in the back refuses the offer - the barristers will have his hide if he puts a flame anywhere near the dusty papers. Alya and Danvers take it and within a minute they're both out of action (Hammer makes sure Alya doesn't fall off the wagon and break her neck).

Hammer drives the wagon down to the bottom and past the underpass which forces him to duck. Rosser inside notices the body of Danvers left behind them and starts to raise a fuss. Hammer closes the viewport and ignores him. When the shouting turns quiet, and he hears a pistol being readies, he pulls out his ace. He chucks a smoke grenade in (thankfully not one that'll burn anything) and the cases cracks, thwarting Rosser's efforts to throw it out.

Rosser opens the door with his pistol in hand, though he's pretty much defenceless with the smoke in his eyes and lungs, and Shrike comes up alongside him unseen, smacking him with a nightstick (Danvers' silver inlaid one) and knocking him out cold.

They turn the wagon left and away from Charterhall and into an empty warehouse where they load up a boat (piloted by Jenna, a servant who's friendly with Paving) with all the documentation and some moderately valuable evidence which'll give them some petty cash for their trouble.

Just before they escape, Paving pays a few witnesses to mention Jeren when questioned by the Bluecoats. That'll cause the archivist some headaches and maybe a sleepless night or two!

*

Salia is brought in for questioning by the Bluecoats; do they suspect that he's involved in the hijacking, or are they just applying pressure on his union activities? Paving pays off a Bluecoast to let Salia out quickly enough. It's worth it to let people know that they take care of their own.

They also work on getting paid on their new haul of documents. Some small-time blackmail and extortion requires a lot of reading and they make some hard cash from that. Their bigger project requires more work, Grace's weakness will need some finesse to leverage.

Next session: Dead Drop

Thursday, 8 June 2017

The Belly of the Beast

Previous Session: Bloody Handed

Wire the Chopper comes to Dusk the Skinner & Kim the Savvyhead pitching a deal for her to take Purity over. Pierre has gone mad (apparently), pushing up prices and running the whole operation into the ground. That poses a real threat to life in the Valley, and no one can afford to stand idly by.

TumTum & company are busy with the clean-up of the bar. Mopping up blood and carting bodies out is grisly work. They notice a dead but unwounded Partridge - she has a huge bloody wart on her back. And then out bursts a silvery centipede; there's panic in the bar and Kim captures it in a bucket.

She does a hasty autopsy on Partridge, discovering that the lurgy has another stage - it incubates the physical manifestation of the weirdness inside the host, to emerge once the host is dead.


Well, they need to do a delivery to Purity for the Valley's water-purification requirements, so they're going to have to deal with it one way or the other...

Before all that, if you recall, Fox the Operator has been missing for ages.
She was dragged away from Brother's bedside by Johnson's people while he was unconscious. She gets treated to the same ass-kicking as Wire got. But this time, they know they've got the right person in revenge for Mad Bill's injuries. So she gets it much worse than the Chopper did.
After a round of beatings, they brings in the tools. Hammers, pliers and needle files. Amongst the lowlights, they cut off a couple of her fingers, and sew her eyelids and mouth shut. After what seems like months, the door is opened by strangers (or at least what passes for strangers after weeks of intimate agony). An voice from her past tells her that Mr. Lopez has been looking for her for ages, and they're getting her out of there.
On the road to Purity, the convoy comes across D & Martinez carrying a barely recognisable Fox to their car. Kim takes her to her van and removes the stitches, taking away the worst of the pain with her healing touch. The sunlight appears to do wonders for her. Dusk is aghast at the state of Fox, and feels guilty (should she have guessed Johnson would go after her?) D relates that they've been hunting for her for some time now, and had to kill a few of the hacienda's people to get her out.

When Kim wonders about her solar panels, they shrug. She'll swing by later and pick them up. When Dusk gathers that D & Martinez intend to bring Fox straight back to Lopez, she asks if they could go back in and get the solar panels - maybe head up to Purity with them and then they can all go back to Lopez together? They're ok with that, and come back an hour later, with fresh cordite coming off the barrels of their weapons.

**

With Kim stopping for her usual repairs for the hill marauders, the other push on to Purity. When they get there the place is quiet and deathly quiet. There's no response on the radio, and Dusk suggests that they wait a while; someone must be up there. Wire takes some of her crew inside, infiltrating the dark pipes at the base of the cliff. The gungy mess in there is an assault on their senses, but this is their best way inside.


Back outside, suddenly the quiet is shattered by screeching and clanking as the bus descends - but there doesn't appear to be anyone inside. Kim is overwhelmed by a sense that everything is hunky dory and rushes to get in the bus when it reaches the bottom - dumping her phazer into her van before she locks up.

Fox is in for some ass-kicking, at least for not sticking around and waiting to see what happens. She draws her 9mm and joins Kim in the bus. Dusk obviously feels like this is crazy - whatever's inside Purity is going to try to kill them, one way or the other! But she grabs a pump-action from Navarre's buggy and climbs in as well.

Kim is scanning the place as they ascend, she can't spot anything living, but it looks like there's something blocking her scan of the insides somehow. At the top of the ascent, they can spot a couple of blackened corpses on the gantry connecting the bus to the main entrance. Just behind the controls lies an almost dead Ulla - there are lumps on her body (though they're not quite 'ripe' yet). She groans to Kim as the Savvyhead examines her
-All gone to shit. It spread too fast

Dusk eyes up the darkness within Purity, and calls to Pierre, but there's no connection. Anything she felt the last time is just flapping lifelessly in the maelstrom.


Below, deep below, Wire is going deeper and deeper inside the bowels of Purity. She's nervous, but Gritch is sure they entered through the right pipe. The slope on the pipe is going down, and not upwards and even Gritch's optimism starts to decline after a while. But then, they reach a hatch high up in the ceiling - they have to wrench hard to open the wheel (it makes quite a racket). There's a ladder inside the tight shaft leading upwards, and they all get onto it. They take care not to put too much weight on any section of the ladder; it's a little old and rusty.

*

Wire reaches the top of the climb, and in the dark room, lit only by the torch strapped to her head, she spots her (long dead) parents. She freaks out and loses her grip on the ladder, smashing into Gritch behind her and causing mayhem below.


Entering Purity, the noise of the maelstrom has faded, only noticeable in its absence. The loss of connection is freaking Dusk out a little - it remind her of the feeling she had crossing the wastelands on her long trip to Lopez years ago.

There are lots of shadows flitting out of sight, and they are wrong turns aplenty. Kim sees her dead brother, terribly wounded beckoning to her. There's a cave in the other way, with an open access panel inviting them in. Graffiti above promises "As Above, So Below". Dusk is not going in there for love nor jingle and Fox stays with her. Kim goes down, and in the deep sand below she finds the feet sticking out.

She meets up with Wire & crew. With extra lights, they see blood spray and demented graffiti on the walls. Behind a closed door, Kim finds a handful of people chanting in a circle around Pierre; they wear dirty robes and she spies a dread portal behind them.

Wire kicks in the door and opens fire on the assembled cult. Kim directs her brain's aggression on Pierre to stop him from chanting and with a frightening look on his face, Pierre's stomach explodes, his guts writhing on the ground. Kim is grabbed back by Wire, and the Chopper chucks a WP grenade inside closing the door just in time for it to be crumpled by the terrible explosion which drowns the sounds of the screaming.


The way out to the bus is elusive and then they spot wires leading to explosive along the top corners of the corridors.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Faithful Dead

Previous Session: Closing the Noose

Gap the Lurk has returned from his extended absence; he doesn't seem willing to speak of the revelations which pushed him over the edge. His talents will be perfect for this score; they're going to undertake a dangerous job in service to the Throne of Judgement. With Fancy Frank the Hound in tow they'll infiltrate Strangford House on the day of the house matriarch's funeral.

During the final stages of the wake and before the funeral procession winds its way to have her remains consumed by the electroplasm of the Spirit Warden's crematorium; they will steal the traditional Akorosi funeral offering of a coin from her mouth.

They consider staging a diversion but instead just sneak in, taking a boat from across the canal (where their new turf is located) and creeping through the grounds and inside. There are enough strangers and temporary staff that their presence will hardly be noticed.


Gap's closest friend, Roslyn Kellis has a genuine invitation to the funeral and he has given her a special dog whistle to alert him when the coast is clear - he has a matching ear-piece so that he can hear it.

They're rounding the corner on the 2nd floor landing when Fancy Frank sees a familiar silhouette in a room yonder. He stops and cocks his head; it's Casslyn Tyrconnel - whose younger brother he killed in the Skovlan Unification War. Behind her is Casta, his old friend who tried to stop him and has recently been hunting him for a significant bounty. Fancy Frank's uneven movements attract attention and as Casta points him out to Tyrconnel, the pieces fall into place - Casta is hunting him on her behalf.

He runs.

***

Orlan Strangford
Gap walks right past them, and choosing his moment, quietly sidles into where Lady Strangford lies in state. A mourner gets the wrong idea and leaves them alone with a respectful nod. He quickly opens her mouth, struggling against the rigor mortis and fishes out the coin. It's gold, not the usual silver, but Gap takes a close match out a purse of random coins he set aside for just this eventuality.

He slips out of the room, and into a foyer where a large number of guests have gathered before the departure. Gap spots Orlan Strangford (the leader of the cult's adepts) speaking with his father. He avoids Orlan's eye line - that's one conversation they can't have here.


Fancy Frank runs deeper into the house and up two floors. He's not packing much, and frees a pistol to turn on Casta when he can get the drop on the canny bounty hunter. However, he ends up on a dead end landing - some of the renovations mustn't have gone to plan. Casta draws a fine pair of pistols (the very same ones he lifted off Fancy Frank back in Sunfall at their last run-in) and fires a round at him. Lady Tyrconnel has kept pace with him, and Fancy Frank's return fire prompts Casta to pull her to the floor to avoid getting shot - Frank's fire hits Casta but the bounty hunter must be wearing armour as he turns back around to take aim with his second pistol.

Fancy Frank considers his options and jumps out the landing window...

**

Gap is eyeing up a big payoff for the score, now that he's undertaken the necessary obligations. A small ornately carved hardwood chest sits on a small table in the centre of the room. People are dropped coins into it as they pass. This collection is probably going to some favoured charity of other of the Strangford's but the amount is too tempting to pass up. Gap, as cool as you like, trips up one of the guests, who pulls at the table cloth as he falls. Gap catches the chest as it topples off the table, and using other people's movement (helping the man back to his feet) as cover the lurk empties the chest into his cloak - he opened a vial of silence potion in one fluid motion, and that masks the sound of the cascading coins. His cloak has a hidden pocket which carries the coins without too much bulging and he walks out, calmly and as if nothing has happened.

Gap is outside waiting for Fancy Frank when he sees the hound leap from a fourth floor window. Even with their placement of a rope dropping from the eaves all the way to the ground, there is a moment there where it looks like it's not going to well for Frank!

They run into a couple of household guards, but then Fancy Frank pulls out one of Orlan's standstill bombs and takes them out. They row away into the fog and the hound shivers in reckless abandon.

*

Roslyn Kellis is questioned by the Bluecoats - it would appear that they know she's connected somehow, but the Orphans pay them off and she's left go free.

Fancy Frank reckons he can no longer ignore the perils of being hunted by Casta. Getting help from Steiner and Veleris he starts to track down some of Casta's habits in Duskwall: apparently the bounty hunter frequents a bathhouse in Six Towers. That'll help ensure that his enemy has little gear when Fancy Frank makes his move.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Bloody Handed

Previous Session: Burning

Kim the Savvyhead is expecting her long-awaited delivery of fine sand, and will arrange to sell it onwards to Sanders (for his continuing production of solar panels) in return for as large a stash of tinfoil as he can lay his hands on. She'll need that for her lurgy cure.

Dusk the Skinner talks with Midnight through the night about home. She finds out that the Mirror-Faced Queen has gone mad and is waging war against the Wolflands. Midnight wants to save Dusk: he's heard the anguish of her soul in her darkest moment. He wants to move forward with her under his protection, leaving broken things behind (he's referring to those who live in the Valley). She's unconvinced by his world view; she thinks what she's doing here is important.

She retires back to Dremmer's room - he's trying to make her feel safe after the attempted lynching/burning earlier. He's concerned and listful.

Market Day comes around, and everyone has an early start. Things are shaping up to be even busier than last month, despite (or maybe because of) the chaos which erupted with the Circus' arrival.

Ripper wonders with Kim how big the problem is going to be to get their tinfoil-related cure out to everyone who's affected. With Wire's gang driving up and down the Valley and beyond it's going to be an enormous challenge. Ripper wonders if they could just kill them off...


Dusk and TumTum catch up when he walks in; he's just checking with her that they're still on for their plan?
-Yep, and I need to square with you for your best bottle of whiskey.
Nodding at where his prized bottle was til now. He raises an eyebrow, but smiles when she puts her nice silver bracer on his arm
-If you need a taste of it, you'll find the rest of the bottle beside Dremmer's bed
His other eyebrow shoots up

Kim has set up at her usual spot. But with her mangled hand she can't really fix things for people - instead she's directing them how to do it themselves. It's a little bit frustrating/amusing for everyone involved.

Reginald shows up with a trailer full of sand for Kim. It's full to the brim of just the best quality sand she's ever seen in bulk, but she's got nowhere to store it. She gets him to give her a loan of it for a day, and Brother'll deliver it to Lopez while she stays here.

The usual excitement of Market Day is going on:
Mr. Tambourine Man is reading fortunes; is this just diversion. or are people getting real insight from him?
A rival eatery has set up opposite Chubby's - an artic truck by the name of 'Hammertime Chow Down'; is the food really better, or are people just a bit leery of Chubby's since the gruesome cannibalism of the Circus' driven madness?
Arnold's Pot-Luck Fuck Truck sets up; it's surprisingly popular, maybe it's just the novelty, or maybe the bout of sickness at Madame Cho's leaves people with little choice


D & Martinez show up with a couple of trucks selling and a handful or well armed guards. They're both in gas masks and are actively trading for liquid soap, sugar and ammo.

Sanders is with them selling solar panels! Kim's surprised to see him there, but brings him back around to her shack so she can show him the sand. He's wondering where she's been for the last month, and then asks after Fox. She usually pops up like clockwork, but she's been MIA as well.

He's impressed by the sand though, and she gives him the list of medicines (and tin foil) she'll need.
-That's a monster list of some specific shit! I can't guarantee that I can get it, least not in these volumes
-I need it, else you might want to be sure no one every enters Lopez ever again!


East Harlow is announcing his new show. 'FISTICUFFS!'
Volunteers duke it out in the pit and after a few rounds of fighting (and betting) the onlookers start throwing in weapons to cut things short.

Dusk stops by to chat to Martinez. He complains that now Lopez wants his own tattoo; reckons Martinez thinks he's a leading light now that he has a serious tattoo and no one else does. Small problem to be honest. Dusk might have to visit soon.

**

The summit gathers. Dusk, as a hacienda owner, can formally attend with a heavy, and she brings Killer. There's the usual tiresome display as each of the other arrive, showing off their latest accoutrement. Johnson is sitting pretty in his limo (mounted on the chassis of  a monster-truck. He's dressed up to the nines, with a top hat and fancy coat on.

Ollie-Boy, a no-shit badass arrives with people (so-called scum) nailed to crosses on the front of his humvee. Dusk takes a deep breath, and is beckoned to come inside by an young runner - sent by TumTum now that it's time.

Dusk turns back to Killer; wondering where he was last night while she was about to get burnt at the stake. He look guilty and can't explain how he slept through that. She goes inside, but nods for Killer to stay alongside Kim and Johnson as they discuss terms.

Kim wants Killer to work permanently for her; maybe as payment for the Phazer. She's buying out his contract. Johnson protests that Killer works for Dusk now. But they all understand that he controls Killer's services and will trade him. Killer's been primed by Kim and Dusk to recognise that this means there's no real loyalty in Johnson.


Inside the usual order of business takes over. Found isn't at the summit, and Partridge is there in her stead (though she doesn't look well). Kobe isn't there either, (Wire has sent Red as her lieutenant, with T-Bone as a bodyguard).

Max Headroom rants about Kobe's murder but he's shouted down by Red; it was a fair reprisal and Kobe chose to go out the way she did.

Dusk takes the floor. Getting a few irate glances - the others aren't quite used to her as one of them, and anyway, taking the floor like this is a TumTum device. She calls Johnson up to join her
-We've got an announcement to make...
She tells them what she's doing at the hacienda with free labour, and the place erupts. Some are on their feet and screaming bloody murder and others are looking around in bewilderment and/or consternation.
Johnson shoots her a glance, as if to say 'WTF!'
Dusk pulls out her double-barrelled sawn-off shotgun and let's one round loose in the ceiling. Everyone quietens down, in shock, none of them are supposed to have guns in here!
-If anyone wants to join me in changing this Valley, then raise your hand!
None do, and the shouting starts up again...

Until, Dusk takes off Johnson's top hat. Everyone stops what they're doing, enthralled by the exhibition that's only beginning. Red, T-Bone, Killer, TumTum and Dremmer are all excluded from the effects of the display, and as she strips Johnson, they begin the bloody murder.

Caught a little by surprise, Red grabs Dusk's shotgun and after killing Max with the second round proceed to beat people to a pulp with it. The others join in with whatever's handy, but the true carnage is unleashed by Dremmer's shotgun. Dusk is splattered by gore and struggles to keep her shit together, all the while stripping his clothes off. Despite her power over them all, she's a little unsure whether his tattoo would still make him dangerous.

When everyone else is dead, and she's shrugged off her long coat. She grabs his chin, still standing behind him and whispers in his ear
-You know, for a psychotic bastard, you had your charms
and then she cuts through his throat with one of her razor sharp knives

*

After their ears stop ringing, Kim comes in the back and can give Dusk some warning as she tries to shoo away the guards from outside (hacienda soldiers, not TumTum's people). Dusk and Killer combine to take them out.

Quickly, Dusk and TumTum identify the main lynchpin who would lead the hacienda's resistance against them. The main counter-revolutionary is likely to be Monsoon, Ollie-Boy's gang boss. They send out runners to bring in the hacienda lieutenants, but in strict order. Monsoon will be first, and then they'll build up momentum with the rest.

Monsoon is shocked by the bloody bar, and even more when TumTum responds to the suggestion that Dusk is crazy with laughter. He's sitting in his chair at the back of the room with his feet up. The bottom of them are splattered with blood, but it's obvious that he spent the entire thing in that position.

He's in, but with some serious doubts. He tells them that they're crazy and that the Valley is going to burn. His presence helps bring all the others onside. When Dusk takes the floor to tell them about what's going to happen with free labour, they all raise their hands. TumTum restarts the summit with the usual business.


Kim looks to get her solar panels back off Churchhead, who's now running Johnson's hacienda. He's not sure he wants the same deal as his previous master, but Dusk convinces him and he definitely comes around to seeing that he can prosper if he takes care of the Skinner and does her friend the Savvyhead a fair deal. The main reason he's reticent is that those solar panels run the machines that are keeping Mad Bill alive.

Next Session: The Belly of the Beast