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Thursday, 15 December 2016

Detritus

Previous Session: One Night Only

In the pre-dawn light, Dusk the Skinner and Kim the Savvyhead head out to take a look at the carnage from Navarre's rampage and the Circus' withdrawal. They drive there in Navarre's monster truck (Dusk finds a sawn-off shotgun under the seat and readies it, just in case).

They find a handful of burnt out and abandoned vehicles, with dozens of bodies and they start looking for survivors. Unthinking, Kim puts a trader with a belly wound out of his misery, but Dusk gives her a stern look - Ripper, Watering Hole's doc might be able to help some. They drag the locals they find out of danger from the fires, and then Dusk finds a still-breathing Navarre, half-buried under a pile of his victims. They haul him back to the flat-bed and drive him back to get Ripper, who has turned Dusk's place into an emergency surgery.

Ripper's not too sure when she looks at Navarre's wounds (3 GSWs and some broken ribs) and hears his name that his credit is good, but Dusk vouches for him. The fact that Dusk is acting like a friend of this feared road-warrior surprises some (especially given his obvious mutations) and rumours start to circulate.


Inside the bar, Dusk gives TumTum a chance to salvage his civic pride. He's going to leave Navarre alone - he really wants to isolate and interrogate him, but Dusk promises him a chat when the road-warrior is back on his feet. In the meantime, he should organise the recovery of the wounded, and salvage of the remnants.

Kim heads along, to find something interesting. She follows thin wisps of pink smoke into the collapsed big tent and comes out with the dispersal engine for the hallucinogens. One of the two machines is fine and the other is good for parts.

Back at his place, TumTum's anger is beginning to show, and wishes Dusk would make herself useful. He doesn't even know what that means, and Dusk whispers to him across the bar that she could call Mimi back. TumTum is incredulous, and wonders how that's possible. She tells him the she'd do it the same way she called Navarre here.

He's definitely interested and goes off to round up a posse, while Kim tries to check if the Circus' leader is even still alive (he is, but is doing poorly and probably won't recover from his wounds).

***

When Dusk grabs some sleep in her chair Kim speaks to the nervous Goddamit! She wants to pump him for information about the Circus and Mimi. He's only been with them for a few seasons, since they were east of Logger. They were just a travelling circus until they went through Logger, and then they met up with Doberman. His people joined as muscle and things took a nasty turn. Where previously they had left people weirded out, now they left carnage. Loads of new blood joined and Doberman was in charge of them all. He minded the Circus and stopped bad trouble from harming them, looking after the non-Show clowns and biker gangs.
Over a month or two moving around inside Logger, things got weirder and weirder and then they moved out into the Valley where smaller holds and haciendas got the same treatment.

But Goddamit! is real nervous. He wants Kim to help protect him, maybe get him to Lopez. He's seen the way people are talking about treating anyone from the Circus and fears a lynching. Kim tells him to keep his head down and tell her about Doberman. She gets the rundown on his appearance, but she'll tell TumTum that they need Goddamit! to identify him.

A.T. arrives at the bar to grab Kim for a chat with Johnson, who's holding court. He's heard of her super weapon and will put all his resources at her disposal to acquire one. She can't guarantee him the same results, and won't sell him hers. But she'll do some experimentation and come back with an answer/offer.
He tries to pressurise him into visiting his hacienda, to sleep and eat with him and build his new weapon. But when Kim introduces herself properly (her terrible family history) he backs off a little and accepts her offer to meet up in a day to discuss terms fully.

She tells TumTum to keep Goddamit! safe, and tells him that he's there to be a 'canary in the coalmine' if Doberman comes to extract vengeance on them - he's the only one who can identify him.

**

Dusk wakes up in her chair at the doorway to her shack, clutching Navarre's sawn-off. Johnson is standing over her, bodyguards lurking behind him. He wants her to walk with him, talk about something important, so she grabs her coat and follows.

He wants her to back him in ousting TumTum - he fucked up in allowing the Circus in and in letting them run rampant. She shakes her head. The Circus drove up outside and she doesn't really think TumTum could've stopped what went on.

Anyway, does he really have what it takes to run Watering Hole? He should concentrate on sending out his people to bring back the heads of the Circus clowns and Mimi specifically if he wants to ride the popularity wave.

Otherwise, he'll have to deal with idiots here telling him what the best way to manage the water, and walkways and market layout is, while making them all play nice and not burn the whole place down.
He'll have to juggle egotistical hacienda owners' competing demands (and appear neutral while doing it).
Then he'll have to convince Lopez that he's not making a power grab over the entire Valley, which'd provoke a devastating response.

Johnson isn't happy, but obviously he thought it would be easy, and thanks Dusk for her advice as he walks off.


Dusk turns around and walks back to the bar. Getting TumTum to pour her a drink. Without mentioning names she tells him that she just had to talk someone out of killing him for the Circus. When she asks him why he killed Blackjack and Nero (two other hacienda owners in the bar after lock-up) he shrugs and blames the crazy smoke. She's not convinced, but moves on. If he wants to secure his position he'll need more help, and not from the hacienda owners.

He thinks he could go to Lopez to get soldiers, but she tells him he's crazy. He should go out on the road the bring in Logger refugees. They'll add to Watering Hole in any case and the tougher ones will be grateful and useful in a fight.

Dusk calls Mimi back, and TumTum musters his warriors, along with the Skeleton Crew and some of the agreeable hacienda soldiers as a reception party.


Kim starts work on the new phaser for Johnson, taking her own one apart to figure out how to amp the power up reliably, while putting in an on/off switch and an emergency shutdown circuit inside her own tricorder (for her own safety).

*

That night, Kim dreams of a powerful man in a dark room. It's too dark to make out, but he's looking for her. Then there's a bright, blinding light which silhouettes him.
-Where's my jingle!
in Lopez' voice

Lo and behold. In the middle of the night, the sentries spot a lone vehicle approaching Watering Hold. From the direction the Circus left in. It's a small minibus, and it pulls up outside the gates. Out steps someone else (it's not Mimi). Dusk asks him who the hell he is and he goes inside the bus to drag out a terribly wounded Mimi.

As Kim checks the perimeter (paranoid her!) Dusk asks what he had planned. The blunt answer back is that he didn't want to die. They had been going south to find somewhere to hole up, and the rest of the Circus kept going when Mimi heard the siren call. He could only force a couple of them to take him back.

Dusk nods at TumTum, and he gives the order to his death squad to open fire. They don't stop til their magazines are empty.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Monsters Under the Bed


Aster the Chosen seeks to solidify his position with his sister Ambrosia, as her contract killer / vengeful angel. In the early morning dawn, he walks through the forest, and it slowly transforms into the Faery realm. Guards and the steward receive him at the palace gates. In her private salon, he advises her that with turmoil out there, she can rebalance things.
-Why brother, you flatter me so!
She relates how she's already tightened her grip on the realm, dealing with the remaining dissenters.

Most of the other there are scared of Lilith and the council advise her to secure her borders. Aster advises her differently
-That's a reasonable public policy. But that's not what you're is going to have me do, is it?
-Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
-Lilith's a huge source of instability, entertaining as the chaos will be, it will be extremely dangerous.
-Going against her is a tricky endeavour (to say the least). Undermining her minions is the safest course of action. Even with caution, you stand to risk the gravest of dangers brother.
She hates herself for asking, but...



Ambrosia shows him a scroll: with detailed notes on Lilith and her kin. It details how she cannot be killed (that after all is her curse), but that doesn't mean that she can't be disrupted or stopped for a while. If they can give her what she wants, and allow her to open the gate, someone will have to push her in and lock the gates behind her. She shows him the necessary ritual, but warns that Lilith is the only one who can open the gate, so timing is key.

She'd wish him good luck, but mere luck won't cut it. They quickly hug, and then Aster gives a curt but friendly half-bow and returns to the mortal realm. He drops his sword back to Brie's cave (with a wistful sigh at what he can still sense of her there) and wonders how he can ingratiate himself with Lilith to become an ally in her quest to open the gate to Hell.


Chloe the Vampire is with Maria in the final hour before dawn. Maria tells her that she's sorry for spreading this (meaning the vampirism) but after a moment of quiet thought, Chloe replies
-It's ok, it was my choice. I had to break this terrible pattern I was in. It may not be the best decision of my life; but at least it's mine.
They kiss. When Chloe rises, she wonders
-So, how about Cameron?
And the murderous intent flares in Maria's eyes. They stalk their way into the boys' dorm...

Victor the Ghoul is in his room with the sleeping Cameron. He looks grey and hollowed out. Like someone's already drained him dry.

Maria, hungry and vengeful Vampire
Chloe ushers Maria up the stairs, but hesitates near the showers. There's steam coming out, and out of it walks Javi, wrapped in a towel. He's surprised, but slowly walks over to her.
-A part of me really wants you to suffer like I did
-Well, that part of you must be happy then
-But the rest of me just wants to hurt you now
Without sympathy, or much hesitation he jumps at her and starts strangling, Chloe kicks him off her just in time for Maria to come bounding down the stairs and pounce on him. They bundle him into a supply closet, and she begins to feed.
-Don't!
Maria looks confused
-Leave him be, you'll need your appetite for Cameron
And Chloe leaves him where he'll be found.

Upstairs, they creep into Cameron's room. Chloe notices the state of Victor, but after a brief examination reckons he'll bounce back soon; he always does. Chloe nods to Maria, she's going to support her as best as she can. However far Maria wants to go, she'll follow. Maria straddles Cameron and as he wakes, she growls
-Be more careful who you make enemies of
and she breaks his neck in one swift motion and begins to feed.

Victor sits up, and he vaguely objects.
-Don't mess with my business
Victor and Maria square off and he warns her that she should follow her own advice about picking and choosing enemies.
Chloe steers Maria past and out of the room, telling her that they'd better make their escape before Mr. Schneider does his rounds. Maria is intimidated as hell, Victor, has never been as much of a dead boy as he is right now.

They head back to their room; it's been a busy night and Chloe can't shake this deep tiredness she's feeling as the sun rises outside. She crawls into her bed and Maria curls up on top of the covers. Barely an hour has passed when Charlotte Abbington walks in; they've been noticed absent at breakfast and she tells the girls to get downstairs. Chloe plaintively asks her for a little slack; it's been a tough week for her on all fronts and she can't bring herself to just turn up to class like nothing's happened. Charlotte softens a little bit, but suggests she bring it up with Sister Beatrice. Chloe nods and heads downstairs.

Charlotte wants to talk to Maria privately though, and as Chloe leaves she motions for Maria not to eat her as well!

****

Aster arrives in Victor's room to talk about the Lilith situation; he knows the full story between Lilith and Victor and can see how she treats him, with a certain indulgence. He knows she needs something from him. But he finds the Ghoul disposing of Cameron's body (by eating it). He's placing the bones in a refuse sack to hide in the closet, but he's still chowing down. Aster's definitely sickened by this, and he vomits in the corner and has a double-take of WTF at Victor sucking the marrow out of Cameron's bones.

Victor looks at the pile of puke as Aster wipes his mouth
-Ah gross!
-What's happened here?
Aster shakes his head
-I know I have to help you and Lilith...
-...do you have a bone-saw in your little arsenal? Oh wait...
Victor looks at the bloody mess in front of him
-...I know what this looks like, but I didn't kill him

Victor tells Aster that was it Maria, in full Vampire mode who killed him, and Aster isn't quite sure whether he believes the story, but they does observe that it's a perfect crime as pretty much everyone on campus had a reason to want him dead.

Suddenly, an Fae clock appears out of thin air and hits Aster on the head. He picks it up confusedly and puts in on the bedside locker. He's eyeing it up for some hidden purpose when a scrunched up piece of paper lands at his feet. In Ambrosia's impatient hand-writing, it reminds him to hurry up!

Aster jumps up, misdirecting Mr. Schneider (their biology teacher who's on duty in the boys' dorm) by telling him that Victor and Cameron went to the nurse's office and wondering if there's a mop nearby to clean up the vomit. They find Javi in the janitor's closet and Schneider carry the bloody and unconscious boy to get medical attention while Aster tidies up.


Chloe goes to class rather than initiate a conversation with Lilith to get the day off school. Sidney and Ash are there and look at her uncomfortably. Ms. Wells is subbing their English class, so they just study as best they can. Afterwards she bumps into Lilith in the corridor anyway, and she notices Chloe's transformation.
-That Maria's a bit of a handful, isn't she. Is there anything I can do for you?
Chloe shakes her head.
-I'm fine
-Anything I can help you with on the family front?
-Nope. I don't think I want to deal with them for a while
Lilith pushes a little, but Chloe's holding firm and changes the subject
-Anything I can do for you instead? For your imminent plans
-Well, there is a stone I need to repossess. The person who has it doesn't approve of me so much at the moment, so I'd like you to liaise with her to recover it for me.

Ambrosia, Queen of the Faeries
Back in her rooms, she gives Chloe a picture (of Ambrosia and that marvelous green jewel necklace).

-I need you to get this one way or the other as soon as you can
-Is there anything you'd like me to try in between asking and stabbing her to get it?
Lilith walks over to her table and takes out a satchel with detailed diplomatic agreements inside.
-I think the Faery Queen will find these much to her advantage.


Aster, just about to knock and enter Lilith's rooms, stops and overhears that conversation. He hurriedly walks away, but Chloe sees his shock of blue hair disappear around the corner as she leaves Lilith and catches up with him. Chloe concentrates on her mind, and blocks out Lilith so she can have a private conversation with Aster (she doesn't, but she thinks she has!).

Chloe tries to convince Aster that, even if this seems like a good deal for the Fae, it's a terrible deal for the real world. And if Ambrosia thinks that circumstances will allow them to stay truly neutral or unaffected by the carnage Lilith will bring, they're going to be gravely disappointed.
Aster smirks, wondering what her angle is, and why she cares. Chloe tells him that he was pretty harsh to her the other day, but the criticism was fair. She wants to be better, but without some help from Aster and Victor, Chloe's afraid that she'll be crushed in the vice she's in. Aster tells her she has to take responsibility for the terrible deals she's made, and dismisses her protestations that she didn't make those.

Distracted on their walk, Chloe hasn't noticed the slow transformation into the Faery realm, and she's brought to court to treat with Queen Ambrosia. The palace guards wave her inside when Aster declares that she has a bargain to offer their queen. As she pass through the gates, he cautions her to be careful what she says and does; and not to get herself into even more trouble.

Inside, she's shown to a couch, and she can feel the (hostile/curious) eyes of the rest of the court on her. She's offered a goblet of wine, and the most luscious oat and honey biscuits she's ever beheld. She refuses, claiming she doesn't drink wine anymore, but the goblet is pushed closer to her and she smells the coppery blood inside. Even then, she refuses, and the court seems shocked at her refusal.

-Awkward, but probably wise
Ambrosia says as she enters the court, resplendent with her hollyhock crown and green jewel necklace. Chloe replies to her
-It's probably the last piece of my mother's advice I'll follow. You know Miranda.
Aster greets his sister with a friendly wink. They sit down next to Chloe, and she moves the snacks away from her to make space for the documents on the table. Ambrosia peruses them and has a good poker face; she'll need to consult with Aster and possibly the Council. They retire to leave Chloe to stew alone in the courtroom.

Ambrosia asks Aster if the offer is sincere.
-I don't expect Lilith to follow the spirit of any agreement, only the letter of. But that goes for us too.
-Going through the fine print, it does prohibit any member of the Fae from interfering with her.
-Well, maybe I need to leave the realm in secret, to give me free rein?
Ambrosia's thinking out loud now
-We could just refuse the agreement? But it wouldn't do to underestimate her. We'll agree, and cast you out.
-Do you want to stage a bitter sibling fight?
-It's better in secret, though the court will discover eventually. And they will not readmit you just on my say so, forms must be observed.

She rises and has Aster unchain her necklace, placing it in a favourite silk scarf. She's saddened by the loss, but quickly chooses a new one for Aster to place around her neck.

***

Lilith
Victor is hiding Cameron's remains in the dumpster. Lilith appears behind him.
-You're missing from class
-I'm cleaning up one of your darling's messes
-I covered for you with Mr. Schneider. You seem pale and gaunt, more than usual.
Victor ignores her manoeuvering.
-Still set on the apocalypse?
-You're so negative, I see it as more of a new beginning.
-You're right. That makes everything so clear.
-The key to opening the Gate is on its way...
-...remind me. Why are you doing this again?
-I have grown tired of living in this world, tired of mortals and their idiocy. It really doesn't matter if I bring everything crashing down around me or not.
-You're just speeding the process along? Well, I can't say I get it.
-Maybe I'll be struck down for this hubris.
-If you're just looking to get offed, we can work something off.
There's a weakening in Lilith's resolve
-I've worked so hard to see Lucifer again
-Staying in Hell after you open the gates sounds ideal, it doesn't have anything to do with this world
And the weakness is gone
-No, Hell is a prison. We won't be staying there!

For the prison break, Lilith wants Victor to be her lieutenant, and to oversee plans as they get close.


On the way back to Lilith's Aster needles Chloe about how he wasn't sure there for a while that she would refuse the food and drink.
-You think I was born yesterday?
-Well, you've been pretty good as messing things up
Chloe has no answer for him; truth be told, she was seriously tempted.
By the time they get back, it's way later than it should be; it's already evening.

Victor has been killing time with Lilith in her rooms. Reading tomes and preparing rituals and potions. There are several pots on the boil, and Lilith is horrified when, giving him directions to help, she realises that he doesn't know rosemary from thyme. She has to warn him off drinking the potion and points him towards the stew instead.

The others arrive at the door, and the first thing Aster sees is Victor chomping down on a mouthful of mutton, he gags in disgust.
When Chloe hands over the signed documents, and Aster the necklace, Lilith grins; she has expected more resistance, but this is so much better and more welcome.
-My sister sees a bargain that's good for the Fae. For me, it's good to be on your team or the Fae's, but it looks like everyone else will be out of luck
When Lilith's lack of compromise on the path is apparent to the others, Victor rolls his eyes
-At least it'll be interesting, right

**

It's almost dark, and Lilith tells them they must reconvene when the moon rises. Chloe leaves by herself, and behind her Victor and Aster speak and once they get away from everyone else, Victor grabs Aster and pushes him against the wall:
-Why the hell are you going along with this!
-I'm helping the people I care about. This is what they want.
-She's going to get exactly what she wants. What can I do?
-Save what you love, just do what you can.
Victor gets it, but not immediately. He lets go of Aster's collar disdainfully. Aster tells him again
-Find someone to watch the world burn with
-Don't wax romantic on me elf-boy!
Suddenly they hear a rush of air, and a blur takes Victor away. Aster looks after it, but just fixes his jacket and walks off.

Elsewhere, Emma kisses Victor passionately.
-I was just going to look for you
As he feels her fangs bite and her long nails dig into him, he draws her away
-It's going to be a long night
-Are you rejecting me?
-No. I think we'll need all our energy for what's going to happen tonight.
Pressing him close, Emma whispers
-A long night indeed


Chloe wanders, and finds Ash and Sidney chatting at the edge of the woods, and she walks right up.
-You ready for this?
-I guess
-You think it's going to be pretty?
They glance uneasily at her
-Obviously, you can't trust 16th century Italian art to tell you what it's going to be like. I'm sure Lucifer's arrival is going to be fantastic!
Chloe cocks her head, thinking of something new
-Was it me who got you involved in all this?
But they tell her about Madison's coven, and how she broke Sidney to force her to join, taking her tongue in the process. They're going to helping in the magic ritual Lilith will lead.
-Well, good to know you're able to put your shoulder to the wheel to help out
Chloe looks at them carefully; it's definitely Sidney who's having all the second thoughts now, and like a big cat choosing her meal carefully, Chloe tells Sidney to leave.

When she's gone. Chloe turns on Ash, and without any pretense leaps on the girl to feed. In her current state, Chloe isn't going to control herself and drinks deeply. She takes her time, bringing Ash into and out of unconsiousness, and allowing her pain and panic to rise several times before draining her dry. In fact, that magical spell which she suspected Lilith of imposing actually came from Ash and now she's free of it. She drags the body deeper into the forest and buries it under a pile of leaves.


Aster is choosing weapons from the cave; and noticing a presence nearby he investigates to find Amanda spying on him.
-Is this your place? It's sooo cool!
Turns out that Amanda thought he was being suspicious and followed him here.
Aster cautions her, handing her a dagger in its sheath
-You're better off not getting involved, you're in over your head. You have to promise that you'll go back to campus and look after yourself
-Well, you have to promise me something in return: when you get back you're going to tell me everything
Amanda kisses him on the (blushing) cheek and leaves

*

Chloe arrives at the gate. Sidney looks at her, wondering about Ash, and Chloe thinking about how to approach that issue licks her lips absent-mindedly, and then realises that's all the signal Sidney needs to know what happened. No one else sees, and Sidney's fear flares in her eyes. Walking past her, Chloe says quietly
-Still your decision to push that wheel

Lilith is finishing her preparations, and most everyone else is involved, but Chloe is a bit of a spare wheel. Things are ready to being, and Lilith calls for Victor. As the ritual begins, the third and final gate begins to glow.
He feels the heat from the other world, and as it opens Lilith smiles: she looks happy.
-Victor! This is amazing. There's something I didn't tell you...
And she pushes him through the gate, and into Hell

Victor knew something was up. He was ready for the heel-face turn. but wasn't quite quick enough to keep himself in the real world or strike back against Lilith. Turning around he can't get back in, but he sees Lucifer on the other side with Lilith; apparently there must be balance across the gate.
From behind him, he hears a familiar voice
-Hello brother
He tries to run, but Abel tackles him and assault with the fury of a thousand years of pent-up anger. With real desperation he escapes from Abel's grip and rushes back out of Hell 

Lucifer
Lucifer and Lilith embrace. From behind them in the cavern Aster looks on, his chosen weapon hanging by his side and he takes a deep breath, willing himself to take the leap into action.

Still leaning up against the wall, Chloe carefully takes everything in. She can quite clearly see Lilith's weaknesses in her current vulnerable state. Obviously she has so much emotional investment in Lucifer that she'd do anything for him at this stage. Funnily enough she has come around to completely trust Chloe; that the young Vampire is completely under her control.
Lucifer's weakness are a whole other matter. Chloe knows that he's about to betray Lilith.

Aster charges in, running Lilith through, just as Lucifer shoves her through the gate into Hell himself. It's not clear which hurts her more!

Triumphant, Lucifer doesn't see Chloe has worked her way behind him and she pushes him all the way through the gate as well!


Chloe looks back at Sidney, to try to get her to stop the ritual keeping the gate open, but as she walks forward to force the issue something spirits her out of the chaos.
Aster claims the necklace, and starts the counter-ritual to seal the gate, but has to fight off a few vampires who are looking for vengeance for their master's demise.

Emma helps Victor to fend off the other vampires who attack, but she's shocked when he tries to help Aster complete the ritual and pulls him away from the fray. Aster completes the ritual, and then flees. He runs through the campus and eventually seeks refuge in the chapel, fending off the pursuing vampires until dawn breaks. An aged nun inside remarks dryly that it's a real pity that the campus just isn't safe anymore!

Maria's the one who pulled Chloe out of the carnage, just before she could get involved. Chloe thanks her, and sighs in relief
-My mind is my own, for the first time in forever
-That must be a relief. So, what do we do with this freedom?
-Nightclubbing, has to be!
Maria laughs incredulously
-The rules outside aren't the same as here under Lilith's protection, but we're going to have fun
Behind them the fallout across campus looks nasty, but they walk away

Victor stands beside Emma, reveling in the carnage he sees before him. Emma rolls her eyes, but then screams as Victor is run through by Abel from behind. His brother made it out as well and as he stands over Victor's dying body, he just hears mocking laughter
-You went to Hell!


None of them notice that another figure, someone else entirely came through the gate from Hell at the last moment...

FIN(ish)

Thursday, 24 November 2016

One Night Only

Previous Session: Circus

Brother's anxious as they pull up outside the Circus. Kim the Savvyhead gets out of her van and attracts Dusk the Skinner's attention. She offers the Skinner sanctuary back in Lopez, but Dusk refuses, telling her that she lives here (pointing back at Watering Hole). Even with the carnage going on? So Kim tells her to climb in and she'll give her a lift back. Kim motions at Brother to drive back to Lopez without her.

Then, they hear that strange calliope music again, and the sound tugs at Dusk's brain. She's calmed and soothed by it and instinctively follows it back inside. Kim is unaffected by it, but follows anyway. They heads inside the big tent, and it fills up with all manner of people walking in from Watering Hole.


Inside the air is different, sweeter and reminds Dusk of the drug Found the Hocus uses in her cult rituals. Things kick off with clowns and a very energetic band and then the lights dim and Mimi makes his grand entrance. He's pretty good at this show-man stuff, and uses the band and lights to great effect. Kim's spider senses go off, but she doesn't see any tricks, just flat-out weirdness.

Doctor Pain arrives in the ring, and he drives nails into himself - with the terrible damage being inflicted to his body, they notice ghosts beginning to appear; no crocodiles or wolves, but other than that, just the same as they did during Found's augury the other day.

The acts get stranger, but as soon as the crowd starts getting uncomfortable Mimi comes out to settle them down. Throughout he monologues, talking about the sin of the world and how the apocalypse wiped it out, and they bring light to the darkness and redemption to the sinful.


Dusk is starting to feel the effects of the drugged air, but when Sister Sin walks into the ring Kim goes quiet and sits down. It's her lost-lost brother. Dusk wonders why she's suddenly this interested, and realises that they're no sense of nostalgia or love, but just intense interest in what has happened to him since she left him mutilated in the dust those years ago.

But now trying to get something out of the Savvyhead, the drugs in the air start to get to Dusk and she just lies down on a bench (her head in a ghost's lap). Then Mimi comes out to introduce one last act, he declares that he's kept the best for last! He riles up the crowd with some hate for Scum and promises a bloody spectacle...

***

Dusk gets to her feet and stands up on her bench. She grabs Mimi's attention and tells him that's not going to happen. She's thinking quickly - who's the baddest ass in the Valley - that'd be Navarre, the road warrior who terrorises the highway between Lopez and Logger.
She yells out
-Navarre is coming, and you all know what he's going to think of this! He's going to tear through this place like there's no tomorrow. So you all best be gone.
She slowly steps down the benches and into the ring.
Mimi's not having it, and calls in the goon squad - a bunch of savage looking clowns who take care of security for him.

Dusk address the crowd now, telling them they'd better leave, and they all know Navarre's reputation - there are a million stories about him, and in Lopez he's treated like a fairy tale villain. Mimi walks past her to shut that down, and when Dusk spots two nasty looking clowns coming at her, she swiftly draws a knife out of her inside pocket and puts it across Mimi's throat.

She tells him, and by extension his bodyguards, that they're going to walk out of here together, and he'd better keep his people onside. Kim draws her phaser and covers the two clowns and they don't quite know what to do. They all back away towards the crew entrance, Kim keeping her eyes and her gun on the clowns and Dusk picking her way through the detritus, keeping her blade tight to Mimi skin.

Dusk wonders what's taking Navarre, but apparently he's busy right now. But she has gotten his attention.


As they get outside the tent, Kim and Dusk exchange glances and the Skinner switches to grabbing Mimi's collar and they run around the tent and towards the circus perimeter where they can get to Kim's van. They're nearly there when Mimi stumbles, and hurts himself when he hits the ground. Dusk vaults over his falling body, but Kim trips and loses her phaser. Dusk makes to continue running for the gap in the perimeter, but she notices that Kim is still on the ground going for her phaser. The two clowns are running towards them now, raising their weapons.

Dusk turns around to help Kim out. She jumps back, launching herself at Mimi's prostrate body, reversing the knife in her hand and slamming it into his back. The two clowns stop in their tracks as Dusk gets to her feet, wrenches the blade out, dripping in bright blood.
-Drop your weapons and you can take care of him
They ask her to leave Mimi alone and one of them runs to get the doc.
Kim and Dusk back away, but the clown loses his nerve and picks up his gun yelling out to the entire circus
-Kill those sons o' bitches!

They run, but with clowns closing in, they choose to run into the cornfields and the dark of the night rather than go for the van.

**

Kim and Dusk run until they reach the road. Kim catches her breath for a moment and starts running again, but Dusk just stands there in the middle of the road. She hears something in the distance. Kim tries to get her attention to move, but Dusk shakes her head, and then a giant set of headlamps appears down the road.

Navarre's giant V8 buggy stops right in front of Dusk, the two double-rows of glaring headlamps pretty much blinding her. The stern hulking man climbs out of his seat and walks up to the Skinner. He's menacing, but he's not menacing her. Navarre's crocodilian skin is apparent, he used to try to hide it, and even got Dusk to tattoo over the early signs, but now he revels in the changes to his body.

He glances at the bloody knife still held tightly in Dusk's right hand, even the edge of her palm is gory and dripping blood to the road. Navarre wonders why the hell he's here, and isn't impressed when Dusk tells him that the Mimi's planning on killing a bunch of Scum.
Not only does he bristle at her use of 'scum' but he wonders what that is to him. She shakes her head, she thought he might be interested that people were just picking up people with crocodile skin for sport killings.

Three armed clowns come out onto the road, and they're a little bit confused at the spectacle in front of them. Kim edges around from the front of the car she's behind and points her phaser at one of them. She's dialled up everything on the phaser to 11 and lets rip!
A blast of energy burns the clown to a crisp - shocking everyone in the vicinity. One turns tail and runs and the other opens up with his SMG, peppering the engine block in front of Kim. Navarre blasts him with his shotgun.

Navarre's not entirely happy with Dusk, but he motions behind him and five more warriors jump out of the flat-bed at the back of the truck and they move into the cornfields to hunt clowns. Navarre looks pointedly at Kim hiding behind her ruined car on the side of the highway; Dusk explains that she's with her and he nods and follows the others into cornfields.


Dusk walks over to Kim and hunkers down alongside her. Gunfire and screams erupt from the cornfields; in the distance they can see the circus lights slowly turn orange. Kim is worried, and goes back through the fields to recover her van. Dusk sticks around, keeping an eye out for Navarre.

Slowly, by ones and twos, people start coming out of the cornfields. They're shell-shocked and seem to be just straining to get away as far as they can. Dusk attracts their attention from the rooftop of a car and yells at them to go down the road and head to TumTum's.

Mostly they're the audience from Watering Hole and beyond that attended the circus, but she spots a one from the circus itself, Goddamit! the bus driver. He's really freaked out and tells her that they're killing everyone back in the circus. She wonders if he's a clown, and when he shakes his head confusedly, she smiles and points him towards TumTum's.

*

The gunfire dies down eventually, but there's no sign of Navarre. A couple of heads pop out of the corn, and Dusk hides behind the car. They're not Navarre's people and they're not dressed as clowns. They go back in after a moment, and after a while Dusk climbs into Navarre's truck and drives back to TumTum's herself.

Kim's van is parked out front, and the Savvyhead is looking anxiously at her phaser recharging off the engine.

The crowd has gathered around the bar, but the shutters are still down and the door is locked. But when Dusk pulls up she spots Dremmer peaking out. She wades through the crowd to the front door and Dremmer opens up for her (just a crack). He's not going to let her in, but Dusk tells her he'd better or there'll be a riot - and the bar's bound to do good business tonight.

He shuts up and quickly talks to TumTum, and they open up. Dremmer takes position at the door - he's not checking guns like he usually does, but is checking people and refuses some who give him the wrong kind of feeling tonight.

Dusk goes up to the bar, and asks for a bottle of whiskey - TumTum raises an eyebrow and tells her he doesn't want her getting Dremmer drunk tonight. So she asks for a nearly empty bottle, and he grabs one for her. She tells him that they should put together a posse to run the circus out of town - he's not happy with that - times are changing.

They hear a shot from outside, and when Dusk heads outside, he's gunned down one tough guy and is staring down his two friends. Dremmer's too busy to pay her much heed when she offers him a quick drink, and she tells him she'll be back and heads over to Kim to share most of the whiskey with her instead.

They hear the sound of engines coming from the circus and slowly the noise dies out as it drives away. They're going to go take a look...

Next Session: Detritus

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Circus

Previous Session: The Summit

Kim the Savvyhead is fixing a solar lamp for some out-of-town scrounger when one of the Skeleton Crew, name of Bones, tries to cut in line, but Kim pulls out her phaser and tells him to get to the back of the queue. The weapon is weird, powered by the maelstrom and only has a few charges in it, but Bones takes the hint and gets back in line.

Fatz, an old woman who runs a 'lost and found' stall, comes up with a water purification tank. The motor inside is overheated and charred. Kim finds a 'misplaced' screw from a panel in the cogs and reckons it must be sabotage. Fatz identifies Greasy George as the prime suspect, so Kim just tells her to go back to her stall and see if anything's disappeared.


Later than evening, as the fog rolls into Watering Hole, Kim spots smoky fires outside the hold, and quad riders popuring diesel on them - they're all in black and wearing masks. Eventually, two of the local security goons intervene and the quad bikers ride off in a wide arc around the hold. Kim reaches into the psychic maelstrom, and can hear them wondering if they should've set more fires, but while they wish that the goons hadn't intervened the boss should be happy enough with them.

As the convoy pulls up and the fog sweeps through the hold, there are sounds of ruckus, gunfire and fistfights breaking out. Dusk the Skinner raises her eyebrows at TumTum, but doesnt wait and wanders the few hundred yards towards the circled convoy. The vapours are nasty, but Dusk shruggs it off. She sees Wanger and Yozo and a dozen more stringing up someone on a big billboard halfway there...

A couple of the Skeleton Crew are setting a small stall on fire in the market square. When the owner tries to intervene they throw him on the flames as well. Kim drives to a safer part of town, but sees a security goon there shoot somebody walking by for no particular reason.


Fox the Operator is fishing for information about Logger and still trying to sell her wares. Fernie Bill is looking to buy one of the solar panels, but she doesn't want to see for a knock-down price so, contrary to the advice of Brother, she follows the well-dressed weasel avross the highway ot where Fernie says he's keeping his jingle safe. Finally at the verge of the highway, she has second thoughts, and starts to walk away. Fernie Bill entreats her, but Brother sees his three mates standing in the long grass beyond and even when Fernie offers to up the price, Fox plays hardball and tells him to come to her truck to do the deal.

On the way back, she breaths in deep lungfuls of the corrupt air, and gets pissed off - she's hearing the loud howling of wolves.

Kim, almost overcome by the smoke pulls on a gas mask and starts to assess the chemical composition outside her van. It's full of hallucinogens, and beyond sedation there's no cure except to remove the smoke and give people time. She plugs into the psychic maelstrom and sends out a message to all who're paying attention nearby to put out the fires. Within minutes she spots disparate groups of people rushing towards the flames to quench them.

Dusk sees that Yozo is leading the effort to string up Dupriy. She has a bright yellow mohican (set off on one side of her head by a tattoo of half a brain). Dusk tries to distract her and get her away from the mob to talk her down, but Yozo just shouts out
-Hey assholes, we've got another victim!
Dusk pulls a small knife out of her coat's sleeve and grabs Yozo, but the woman won't quieten down so Dusk cuts her throat and leaves her bleeding in the dust. The rest of the mob don't follow her for long, and go back to stringing up Dupriy. Keeping a nervous eye behind her, Dusk keeps walking towards the encircled convoy and is left alone.

Back in Watering Hole, Fox and Brother pass by Chubby, who is looking at a dead body on the ground and then drags it back to his stall - any thought of saying something is put out of Fox's mind when he shows her his cleaver. No dinner at Chubby's tomorrow, then.

**

There's bunting and lines of lights up around the circle of trucks, and inside it people are raising a gigantic tent. There are a couple of people standing around at the entrance, but Dusk just breezes past them. Glancing around for someone in charge, she just spots a couple of clowns supervising. When she tries to talk to him, he just pulls this maddening mime shit. The clown isn't really responding when she looks threatening either, but when she tells him that the boss will be pissed if he turns her away, she catches a sideways glance at a nearby bus. She tells him that she'll be back later for the opening, and when he turns away, she makes for the bus.

Fox and Brother talk about getting out of town, it's too dangerous for comfort. They head back to the truck and then they'll swing back around to TumTum's to pick up the solar panels in escrow. There's a small riot around the back of a flatbed truck and Brother swings his shotgun around and starts loading it up from his bandolier. He helps fight their way past the riot, and he has to shoot down a few guys, including unloading on one poor unfortunate who made the mistake of hitting Fox. They reach Kim's truck, but then they see a werewolf rear up nearby!

Kim knows it's just a wolf, her gas-mask is proving effective against the hallucinogenic smoke. Fox turns to empty her pistol into the beast, but Brother is in the way so she hesitates. Kim rolls up the window of her van as it goes for Brother, and the bodyguard guns the wolf down.
Kim quips
-If you're finished with the dog?
-Dog?
Brother is confused and wipes the welling blood away from where it bit him.
Fox jumps into her truck and tells them they're going back for the panels and for Dusk.


Dusk climbs the steps into the bus. The dozing guard sitting in the driver's seat jumps up
-Goddamit!
He doesn't want to let her past, but after she reassures him that she won't get him in trouble, and won't get the circus run out of town, he gestures for her to walk through the curtain separating the driver's section from the main cabin, telling her that Mimi, the boss is in the back.

Walking through the curtain she sees another, finer, curtain at the rear - where Mimi must be. But here, there are five or six people engaged in a quiet but intense orgy. She walks past them, but then a beautiful man steps in front of her. October totally distracts her, and she joins in for a while. Mimi can wait.

At TumTum's bar, the doors are shut and the shutters are barred. There's no sign of life inside. As they drive slowly by, looking for any signs of TumTum or Dusk, they hear noise on the roof of their vehicles - but it's a swinging dead body tied to the market square canopy.

Kim reaches out for Dusk through the psychic maelstrom; inside the bus, the eightsome is like an antenna for that psychic attention. Kim's self, her consciousness is elongated and she can communicate with Dusk for a moment
-Sure, come pick me up

*

Dragging herself away from the fun, Dusk dresses and enters Mimi's room. It's more like a dressing room than anything else, but there's a large bed at the back. Mimi is at a dressing table, in scary intense clown makeup.

Dusk sits on the bed, and tells Mimi he'll have to cut the shit out with the hallucinogenic smoke if he wants his circus to stay in town. Though he denies all knowledge of it, he agrees. Dusk walks out; the clown who let slip Mimi's whereabouts gets a stern talking to as Dusk passes. Kim and Fox pull up outside.

Next Session: One Night Only

Friday, 28 October 2016

New Horizons

Previous Session: Eviction Notice

The Orphans find that they need to find new supplies of spirits and ancient relics to sate the Wicked Mother's hunger. They hatch a plan to smuggle in spirit bottles and artifacts via Leviathan Hunters stopping off at Duskwall.

With Grace's help, the identify the Spitfire, a short-haul hunter that specialises in the sort of smaller leviathans which frequent the sea in between Akoros and Iruvia. Bricks is their contact aboard and he lets them know that Captain Sevoy is heading to Sunfall in the next few days for provisioning before a few longer hunts in the bay down towards the Dagger Isles.

The requisite bribes are made and Quess the Spider, Ghostblade the Whisper and Fancy Frank the Hound get a terrible berth for the week-long voyage down to Sunfall. When they get down there Bricks warns them that they have a couple of weeks before the Spitfire will be back to pick them up and head back to Duskwall.


This city is brighter and warmer than they've experienced before (at least for the two Akorosi). Instead of the dull wind and rain of Duskwall, Sunfall's every surface gives off heat like the sun has just gone down.

Strangford has given them a letter as an introduction to Thena, a local court functionary. She meets them in a tea house overlooking the bay, not a docks location but further up the hill in the city in a nicer part of town. They sit down opposite the elegant robed woman, and she waves over someone to bring spiced tea and cinnamon rolls.
Thena

After reading the letter from Strangford (Quess had checked it before handing it over, can't be too careful!) she raises an eyebrow to look for their assent before burning it in the brazier next to the table - wouldn't do to allow such a compromising piece of evidence fall into the wrong hands.
Discussing how many full spirit bottles she can provide them with a month is difficult. They're pushing for 4 or 5, but she tells them that's the kind of level one of the demonic movers and shakers in Sunfall would be capable of; and she's not willing to attract the kind of attention that would entail. More like 1 or 2 is much more likely.

They'll meet up again when they're ready to leave the city.

***

Ghostblade wanders the curio shops and cult temples, looking out for something interesting to start their fencing of stolen artifacts across the seas. The first really interesting thing she sees is a sacrificial dagger used by a small cult. They're sacrificing a goat into a small fountain outside their temple. From distance it looks like ancient work, and its material is something she hasn't seen before. But the heat is going to be too big so she keeps looking.

Then she spots something very interesting. A blood hookah in a well-hidden but surprisingly large antique shop. Unlike common pipes, this one is ancient and designed to use leviathan blood instead of water; which reputedly gives remarkable effects to the smoke. The shop is run by an old man, Zemira, who must be in his 70s. A young scruffy teenager called Wicker helps out. Ghostblade buys something small and at various points over the next few days the others scope out the place.


So, they buy a small supply of strong weed, strong enough to knock out just about anyone who smokes it. Quess walks in and starts talking to Zemira about the hookah, he tells her that no one's been interested in that kind of thing in years - no one's even asked about it in a dozen. She wonders if maybe she could try it out before buying it, and the old man hums and haws, but agrees. She fills it with her weed and he pulls out a flask of blood. They exchange a conspiratorial smile.

When Quess sits down, she wonders if he'll join her; he shakes his head, but is convinced by her assertion that custom and tradition insist no one smokes alone. Once he's sat down he calls over Wicker, and even a random customer (actually it's Ghostblade!). They all sit down and after a while they conk out, and have strange dreams.

In walks Fancy Frank, and quickly disassembles the hookah and stows it into a carrying bag and sling it over his shoulder. He can't resist putting the old man and Quess into a compromising position, and he leaves...

**

Casta, a bounty hunter
With the door closing behind him, he finds himself looking at the barrel of a pistol pointed straight at his gut - it's Casta, his old nemesis from the Skovlan War. Casta smiles at him; he reaches behind Fancy Frank's back and pulls out the pair of fine dueling pistols and tucks it into his waistband. Then he pulls out a long blade from the Hound's inside jacket pocket - I guess when you work together for years you know where everything is kept (though Fancy Frank has got a single blade left on him).

-Come on Haig, let's walk
-What's going on?
-Collecting bounty on you; you've made a bit of noise recently, so I'm turning you in

Earlier, Quess had hired a small group of street urchins to keep an eye on things, and they intervene to help Fancy Frank; nothing crazy, one bumps Casta and another goes for his purse. But Casta's having none of it, he smacks one and twirls away.
The Hound jumps at this opportunity, pulling the blade out of his left boot but that extra moment to bend over gives Casta the time to draw a bead on him and he shoots. The bullet thumps into armour, but Fancy Frank is still badly wounded, and he stabs Casta in the armpit, turning and running as soon as the bounty hunter hits the cobbled street.

A crowd gathers and everyone there can relate what's happened. Fancy Frank is pegged as the thief, and inside when they recover Quess and Ghostblade and happy to have a great alibi!

The urchins see Fancy Frank back to their temporary lair, and the others see him to a surgeon.

*

The day before they leave on the Spitfire, they meet up with Thena again. The exchange goes smoothly enough, two full spirit bottles are presented, they are intricately cast glass - artisan work. They asks Thena if she'll consider joining the Cult, and initially she laughs it off saying that they must be weak, having fled from Iruvia; but then there's an awkward attraction between her and Quess and the Spider leans into it.

She tells Thena the secret of the Cult; they only 'ran away' from Iruvia to Duskwall to grow and expand. She gives a full rundown of the Cult's assets, and even tells of the destruction of the Hand of Sorrow at their hands. Thena is impressed and joins to them there and then. She'll have to travel to Duskwall for the full induction, but for now she is Bound in Darkness with them (so they can communicate easily with her) and will ensure their supply is secure.


The return home is swift and smooth, but when they reach Duskwall the news is bad. The Billhooks have made a show of force, and the inevitable refusal to cede territory has been met with a declaration of war!