Saturday, 1 October 2016

The Hand of Sorrow

Lady Blackbird is on the run from an arranged marriage to Count Carlowe.

She hired a smuggler skyship, The Owl, to take her from her palace on the Imperial world of Ilysium to the far reaches of the Remnants, so she could be with her once secret lover, the pirate
queen Seraphina Flint.

The Hand of Sorrow, an Imperial Cruiser
by Radoslaw Kurczewski
However, just before reaching the halfway point of Haven, The Owl was pursued and captured by the Imperial cruiser The Hand of Sorrow, under charges of flying a false flag. even now Lady Blackbird, her bodyguard, and the crew of The Owl are detained in the brig, while the commander of the
cruiser, Captain Hollas, runs the smuggler ship’s registry over the wireless. It’s only a matter of time before they discover the outstanding warrants and learn that The Owl is owned by none other than the infamous outcast Cyrus Vance.


Natasha Syri (as Lady Blackbird currently styles herself) is an Imperial noble in disguise, escaping an arranged marriage so she can be with her lover. She hasn't seen Flint in almost six years and since she was returned from the initial kidnapping for a ransom, she's unsure how to treat her lover who hasn't attempted another rescue since. She's dressed as a commoner, and only her bodyguard, Naomi Bishop knows her true identity.

Snargle is a goblin sky-sailor and pilot of The Owl. He came with the ship, and was living inside when Kale & Cyrus bought her a few years ago. Goblins are exceptionally rare inside the Empire, but out in the Free Worlds they're merely unusual.

Cyrus Vance, an ex-Imperial soldier turned smuggler and soldier-of-fortune, Captain of The Owl. Once a lieutenant of attached soldiers aboard an Imperial warship, Vance refused to follow orders (spacing civilian refugees from an abandoned hulk) and was thrown into the brig for his gross insubordination. He refused to let any of his people be embroiled in the affair (including his trusted sergeant Veronica Quinn, who had backed his decision) and was sent down for two years penal servitude and then dishonourably discharged for it.


They're all sitting in the brig; Cyrus, Snargle and the first mate Kale Arkam in one cell and Natasha Syri and Naomi Bishop in the other.

Natasha jumps into action straight-away, eager to escape the Empire's clutches and find Flint. She takes out a sturdy hair-pin and goes to work on the lock. Snargle, having wormed his way through the bars of his cell and then hers, stands behind her shining a light to help her out. Vance shakes his head and suggests that she just hand the tool over to Snargle and it'll be much quicker - but given the look on her face, he shuts up and doesn't give any more advice that might just annoy her.

Natasha Syri (aka Lady Blackbird)
She cuttingly remarks that it's a shame that paying customers end up having to do everything themselves, but he just holds his tongue.

In walks the guard though, a short soldier called Wright. He's wondering what they're up to. But Natasha talks him around, somehow convincing him that sweet little innocent her couldn't be up to anything really.

The guard backs away and steps into Vance's reach - he quickly takes Wright's sidearm, grabbing his collar and placing the barrel of the gun against his throat. Telling him to stay calm, all he'll have to do is unlock the cells, let them out and he'll be fine. Don't cause any trouble and his can tell his officer that there was nothing he could've done.

Wright warns them that his partner, Bell will come inside in a few minutes if he doesn't go back out. Vance assures him that if she's as reasonable as he is, she'll be just fine.

In the other cells are: two drunk and disorderly soldiers, and a scruffy looking vagabond called Oscar. He used to be on the crew of Leo (a sleazy smuggler) who gave him up to avoid getting in any trouble with the Hand of Sorrow. Vance, Kale and Snargle quickly agree to bring him into the crew (hell, Snargle was already opening his cell door!) even though Natasha is dubious.

They're ready for Bell when she comes in. Vance is pointing his gun at her when she opens the door and Natasha slips in behind her to take her weapon. Four of them get into the soldier's uniforms and they'll escort Oscar, as a prisoner for interrogation all the way to the port docking bay.

Dressed in the uniforms, they all look terrible. Vance goes down the line trying to make sure they are more likely to pass muster. Naomi brushes him off, she just wants to be told what to fix. Kale submits to his corrections with ease. Natasha hold her arms out and studies him as he fixes her appearance. He makes a few adjustments which give Kale pause.

Snargle will go below to engineering to cause a bit of havoc in the engine room, to make sure The Hand of Sorrow can't follow them quickly.


The others make their way to the elevator, and Natasha takes charge of the conversation - the guards there wonder where they're taking the prisoner, and are told he's being brought for interrogation. She tells them level 7 when they wonder if it's to level 7 or 8, and she assures them that they can stay here, no need for any extra help. Inside the elevator, she presses to go down to sub-level 1 instead.

Down below, they find the dregs of The Hand of Sorrow, off-duty soldiers and down-beat civilians. Their uniforms are far too nice here and it's clear no prisoners would be escorted around down here, so they dress down, a bit more casually, and break up their formation.

Snargle scurries down the tight tubing all the way to engineering where he eyes up the best way to sabotage the Hand of Sorrow. He spots a few dozen prisoners being kept in horrible conditions, and he quickly sets about freeing them and leading them to a weapons locker. Before leaving them to get back to his task, he tells them where they can find The Owl and offers them a way to escape!

Picking their way through the crowd, they pass a bar which is a little bit rowdy with rival squads. Two of them spill out into the concourse, and square up for round two. There's every sign that this could spill out of control, and if the MPs show up they'll all end up in the brig (which'll rumble the escape!) so Vance steps in, channeling his inner sergeant to bawl them out and suggest that they don't want to get into any more trouble - next time they'll end up outside the ship scraping the hull! It kind of works, but Vance ends up getting his head cracked by a bottle as he pulls them apart. His scalp is bleeding badly.

Cyrus Vance, captain of the Owl
The fight doesn't escalate and the MPs are never called. They make their way to the hangar where the Owl is moored. They are walking confidently across the deck and a local security team stops them to check their credentials - Natasha tells them that they're bringing the prisoner to the ship to check on some of the details of his story from interrogation, but when they ask for orders, she's taken aback.

Vance steps in to explain that the Chief of Operations is after this information as soon as possible, and when the soldier wonders if he should really be here, with that head wound, Vance doubles down; saying that when the Chief gives you a direct order, you see it through, no excuses. They back down and let the group through. They're almost at The Owl when the klaxons blare. Security teams start to evacuate the hangar and they're caught in the drag-net, neither Natasha's moxie nor Vance's caution get them through - there's really no chance of boarding their ship without starting something.

Getting Natasha to back down from this, Vance calls her 'Nat', which elicits a fierce reaction - her name is 'Natasha'!

They're ushered back into a concourse area, where they hear various personnel complaining that this'll take a couple of hours to clear up, if it's like last time. But there are a few who heard rumours of a riot down in the holding cells.


They grab a table in a nearby cafe to catch their breath for a while. They enjoy a coffee (well, Natasha makes a point of having tea) and when Vance starts to apologise for calling her 'Nat' earlier, nicknames are ubiquitous in the service, Kale draws Naomi and Oscar away to another table to give them some room.

Vance gives Kale a look, but they accept what passes for privacy aboard a ship in a busy cafe. She accepts his apology casually, and when he wonders if the people she's running from know where she's running to, or if they have enough pull to put an Imperial cruiser in their path, she brushes off any suggestion that she might be to blame for his incompetence at getting captured.

She then asks him how he managed to get thrown out of the navy. He explains in the barest of details that he was discharged for not following orders, but then he notices a familiar figure sitting nearby - it's Sergeant Veronica Quinn. Vance is obviously deeply affected by seeing her, and still looking at her, lists the full charges brought against him by the Admiralty which lead to his dishonourable discharge.

Snargle has made his way through pipes and vents (impossible for a human to pass through) and comes out high above the concourse. He opens his ears and glides down spectacularly! Well, it would be if anyone except for a five-year old child was paying attention - he grabs his mother's leg to draw her attention to the goblin, just like on his favourite holo-show, but to no avail.

As he lands, the concourse erupts into chaos, as the piratical prisoner he previously freed spill out into the open, and Quinn rushes past Vance and Natasha to start organising the nearby soldiers (whether on duty or off) run to fight them off.

Vance hunkers down behind the table to prevent her from spotting him; Natasha is crouching in close, and she needles him about Quinn and Vance dismisses her conclusion about their relationship with an angry chuckle.

Snargle directs the pirates towards the main hangar door, but quick thinking security have closed and locked it to bottle them up. Naomi and Natasha are all for piling in to help the pirates, as fierce as they are the professional soldiers will wipe them out soon. Vance tries to convince them that his obligation is to see the group to The Owl and off The Hand of Sorrow, but Natasha cuts through the argument with a gunshot into the back of a nearby soldier.

Naomi grins approvingly and joins in the fight. Vance shakes his head and looks at the situation. He can hear Quinn coordinating the defence, and knows that she'll be calling for reinforcements to catch the pirates in a pincer move. He identifies the best approach route and starts evacuating civilians from the area along those corridors to make the reinforcements job getting through in time almost impossible.

Snargle squeezes through an ventilation shaft and into the hangar, the rest of them will have to use the main door, but there's work to be done to get The Owl ready for flight.

Natasha begins to gather her power, and an amazing lightening storm erupts over the area occupied by the soldiers. To a woman, they're bowled over and that section of the concourse is wrecked, with fixtures and torn metal strewn across the area. Vance and Kale exchange awestruck glances, they'd sensed something when aboard The Owl, and gotten the odd hint, but suspected nothing like this raw power.


Natasha leads them away from the carnage over to the locked door, but Vance isn't following. He picked through the wreckage to find Quinn. She's badly injured, and won't survive without medical intervention. He rolls up his sleeves and scrounge up some medical equipment to give him life-saving first aid. He talks to her, trying to keep her awake and at first she doesn't know how it's possible that he's there with her.

Snargle breaks into a random freighter near The Owl on the hangar deck, which he knows shares the his ship's ether fuel cells. Ripping them out, and hauling them across to the Owl takes the small goblin a while, but he gets on with the job, wondering how long it'll take them to bypass the locks.

The others are stymied by the hangar door's security. Natasha yells at Vance to leave Quinn and help them out, and Naomi can't believe he's wasting time and resources on Imperial scum. Vance holds up a finger and tells them that Snargle's not ready with The Owl yet and they can't leave.

He does get the security code from Quinn (it's Captain Holles' birthday - they both served with him aboard The Silent Song). But before he can punch it into the keypad, Natasha wields her terrible power again, this time to punch a hole through the hangar door. She flashes an impatient look at Vance. And when he still doesn't move from Quinn's side, she walks over with Naomi to haul the wounded soldier to The Owl - he's not impressed with them. If they move her, she'll die and he points at The Owl where it sits on the deck. The pilot light is still red, so Snargle hasn't gotten her up and running yet. He'll move when she's ready and not before. He tells Natasha that they should get back to The Owl right now.

He waits until the reinforcements finally arrive, Standing up and yelling at them that Quinn needs urgent help he smiles at her, and then blinks out.

Appearing on his couch in the cockpit, he glances back at Kale, standing on the ramp in disbelief as Snargle takes off (he forgot Vance could do that, again!), and at Natasha's amazement. They take off, with the pirates crammed into the cargo hold and blasting a hole in the main hangar doors, Snargle deftly manoeuvres The Owl out into the Blue.


Out of harms way, they press Natasha for more details on where exactly she's heading; they can't cast around aimlessly out here with people on their tail. So she tells them that she needs to get to Seraphina Flint, the Pirate Queen! The crew of The Owl moan, they're not sure they like this.

And when Snargle wonders if Cross will have forgiven or forgotten about Vance yet, he puts on a brave face, maybe he'll won't hold it against them, after all loads of people have tried to kill Cross before. Maybe they shouldn't go into Haven though...

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Lopez City

Fox, the Operator runs her gigs. She's doing a little surveillance for Lopez - seems like Jackabacka is cheating Lopez with a little bit on the side. The basement dweller is doing a lot better than he should. He's even been hiring heavies, and Lopez doesn't like anyone reaching above their station.

She also has a curious delivery job. She needs to head out to the badlands to pick up a package and return it to Lopez. They head out in convoy, and arrive at the rv spot just outside the valley to find a metal box there. They can see a speeding vehicles driving off in the distance. The seams on the box have been duct-taped, but the key is taped to the lid. It'd be easy to get inside, but that might be seen with suspicion by Lopez.

Kim, the Savvyhead hunkers down next to the box, but it won't speak to her like other things do. In the dust, with tumbleweed rolling past, she's reminded how lush the valley is, in comparison with the rest of the world.

For Kim, opening her brain is like sinking into a warm bath where weird but familiar things sooth her and whisper. These cute and cuddly beings make cute monster noises (she knows that they are horned taloned monsters really). They emerge from the water to regard the box, but they recoil, submerging again - they don't like the Box!

They get the fuck out of there. Driving back towards Lopez, they go along the highway - where rusted abandoned cars have been pushed to the sides of the road - there are some who make a living from clearing the roads around here.

Back in the city they deliver to Lopez' fortress. It's a huge oval-shaped building in the middle of the city. It used to have multiple gates inside, but all but one have been barricaded since. It's got no windows and they've never been inside. It dominates the marketplace and is across the road from a bunch of lived-in tower blocks.

The guards at the one remaining entrance spot their convoy, and Buddy comes out to meet them. He's got a shaved head and biker jacket. He carries an SMG but it's slung behind him when he's talking to them.

A bit of flattery from Fox, suggesting he's Lopez' right-hand man, greases the wheels a little. But he's having none of it. Dee and Martinez are well-established as Lopez' lieutenants. She gets paid not problem, but they're definitely not getting inside this time either.


At the Watering Hole, a hulking brute comes in for a tattoo from Dusk, the Skinner. This particular loudmouth hard-ass, A.T. works at Johnson's Hacienda. He has a neat crew-cut and a big beard and isn't afraid of showing off his muscles. He already has some ink, but it's not great (and Dusk notices that he only has one is from the Johnson's).

He's half drunk already (a bottle of rot-gut from the bar is in his hand) and he has cause to celebrate; he looks around to make sure no one else is listening before he tells her that he killed one of Chum's boys earlier with his rifle and he wants to flaunt his prestige. He's enthusiastic about getting a grinning skull on his shoulder, but he doesn't think that the price he got quoted by TumTum could be worth it.

Dusk smiles at him, and takes off her vest to show him her gorgeous tattoos. Two sets of connected dream-catchers adorn her - one set on her belly and the other from her shoulder blade to the centre of her back. He's impressed, and drops any notion of haggling with her (indeed, he's probably going to spread word that TumTum's is the place to be).

She pitches an idea to him, playing into his obvious machismo and skill with his rifle. She traces out an ancient war rocket, with flaming jets spiraling up his arms and then an explosive POW! which'll only become perfect when he clenches his fist around a gun or to punch someone.

A.T. is relatively sedate during the long job, but it's obvious that this extended length of still discomfort is unfamiliar to him. They chat a lot, and she gathers he's been working at Johnson's for three harvests. He bristles at any suggestion that he's not favoured there (due to having just one Hacienda tattoo) but she assures him he'll get all the attention he deserves now. He gives her a few juicy details on Johnson's operation (which will surely come in handy down the line!).

Kim is working on some kind of device to see inside any box. After mulling over her options, she reckons it'll take a lot of attempts, she'll need to dedicate weeks of time and she'll need to seriously increase the amount of power she have available.

Fox wonders if maybe Sanders has some excess power and is willing to collaborate with Kim?

He's holed up in a factory under the shadow of Lopez' fortress. Sanders lives alone there and doesn't enjoy sharing space with anyone. So Fox and Kim head over there for their usual pre-market visit, usually just to get their ducks in a row. The run-down concrete building has great steel roller-doors on one side, but they've never seen those open - they always use the side doors.

When they enter, Fox spots him up on one of the stairways, drawing back from a high air-vent with a stick/mirror combination - he's pretty cautious, and he peers at them through his milk-bottle glasses. Kim appears to sway his suspicions after she describes his solar-panel setup (using some impressive techno-babble). She implies he might get a little more out of her if she shares with her, and he sends Fox outside.


Fox shakes her head at Sanders - he's surprisingly frisky for an old man. She sits on the bonnet of her truck outside, baking in the sun. She spots a kid and three scavengers skirting around buildings nearby - maybe it wasn't wise to leave Brother behind. They startle when they see her though and take the next turn to avoid any confrontation. After a while she hears dogs barking in that direction.

Kim tells Sanders what she needs. She'll turn up with her device in the middle of the day in the next few weeks to test the prototypes. After they have sex, Kim has a much better idea of how he works. He's losing his sight, slowly bur surely; and those glasses aren't going to cut it much longer.
He's afraid of Lopez - he's so reliant on his protection, but he and his people are so scary and powerful he could just decide to hole up in there and not keep the streets safe for Sanders and people like him; the Scum could return at any time.

When she digs a little deeper, she finds out that he's running out of the silicon he needs to make the solar panels. Once that happens Lopez will just kill him. The folks over at Logger haven't been delivering lately, and he's afraid to send Fox specifically to pick it up - worried that word might get out. Logger is a hundred klicks to the other side of the valley and across the burn flats. He hasn't been there in 30 years.

Sanders can only provide 4 panels for the market at Watering Hole (he usually provides 6). They'll have to charge more - just make sure Lopez doesn't find out. In fact, he wants to go with her, but Fox tries to talk him out of it; it's not up to her.
-To hell with Lopez!
Sanders shouts. They need to come up with a plan so that Lopez doesn't notice that he's left or get Kim to scope out the market for silicon. Kim gets wind that everything isn't ok now, and presses him to admit that he's run out of raw materials for the panels.

Before Market Day rolls aound, Fox brings her crew to Watering Hole. They get a great parking spot outside TumTum's; they'll be hunting for information on silicon and Logger before things get too hectic. After being under the shadow of Lopez' fortress Watering Hole seems a bit slapdash. It's got rudimentary defences with a makeshift gate, and all the buildings are a little bit ramshackle. It's noisy though, with the sound of trucks, and shouting and general hubbub.

Dremmer is at the door. When Fox and Kim and Brother arrive at the door, he's checking them out; people need to leave weapons at the door and be vouched for. As Brother unloads his arsenal, Fox asks Dremmer about Dusk.
-Careful, city girl
warns Dremmer. Despite his appearance, all bristling and bulky, his voice is kind. He looks like he's ready for a war, spikes and grenades adorn his rigging. He has a lot of metal on his face and tattoos elsewhere. Taking their weapons and putting them into the slot, he returns small ticket stubs for them to reclaim them later; they notice he's very careful about his personal space, he doesn't like anyone touching him.

Dusk walks out, with a short glass in her hand and a bottle of whiskey under her arm. Her sudden appearance catches Fox off-guard. But Dusk has her full attention on Dremmer. She touches his arm as they catch up. She's brought him a bottle of the good stuff to tide him over, pouring him a shot and then tucking the bottle into one of his pockets.

They head inside and Fox is buying a round, so Dusk sits down with them. TumTum brings over a flagon of rot-gut for them.
-Your friends from the City?
-These people are from Lopez
But after that Dusk twists him arm into opening a bottle of the good stuff for them.

Fox and Dusk start talking, and Kim heads to the bar; she's not interested in their intimacy.
Fox makes the leap that Dusk has been waiting for - she tells her an embarrassing story about herself, not the usual cool Fox that everyone else knows: turns out that last time they met, Fox was all set to ask Dusk on a date. Turns out that's enough to get Dusk really interested in her.

Kim's fishing for information. TumTum stands behind the bar. His chocolate skin glistening with sweat. He's not wearing any top, and his bald head and big belly stand out here. His arms show ten year-marks from the Tungsten Hacienda (they're known as hard but fair).

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Whoever Fights Monsters

Madison, the Witch is practising her new rituals in the woods when she sees Emily running full tilt in the direction of the dark pool. She's stripping down as she goes and turning into her wolf form as she does. Madison reaches into the Abyss and hears a chilling howl, seeing flashes of blood and razor sharp fangs attacking Brie in a wooden shack. Then she sees Chloe and Maria trapped in a dark cave and she hears Emily's voice in her head
-Got to get to her!

Aster, the Fae has gotten the warning from Ambrosia; he's with Brie and they rush to the pool to see a big red wolf running towards them. Brie pulls out her shotgun and is about to fire when Aster lifts the barrel so that the shot misses.
-She's not causing a problem right now
Brie is livid and Emily, snarling with frustration jumps past them into the pool, swimming into the centre.

Aster can feel a pull towards the pool. He's uneasy with the complete wrongness of it.
-Oberon, I want none of your shit!
Ambrosia pulls him away
-We shouldn't be here, we're too close
-Something is wrong, the barriers are weak and we need to build them back up
-We don't know how. The magick has been lost for ages.
Staring into this pool, Aster sees a book in an office, maybe in their school; he's been so adept at staying out of trouble that he doesn't recognise the office of the head mistress. The text on the spine of the book is in the Faerie tongue, and then he sees a shadow at the doorway; it's Sister Beatrice.

Chloe, the Infernal is dragged to her feet by Oberon.
-Let me clarify. I own you. I tell you what I want and you do it. If you are not useful, I will discard you in a moment.
Chloe is speechless and scared. Above her she sees the watery ceiling of the cave is broken by the four swimming legs of a red wolf.
-Your mongrel is here
and Emily is sucked in and falls into a pit, howling in rage and pain.
-Either you'll kill her or she'll kill you, whatever happens it'll be amusing and I will own the winner!
From the bottom of the pit, Chloe pleads with him, shaking her head in disbelief and screaming
-I'll do whatever you want, I forgot myself, I was just caught off guard when you twisted Maria's wish. I'll never do it again!

-I should take a bit more pleasure in this
He lifts her out of the pit, laughing, as Emily pounces and slashes at Chloe, just missing her head by inches
Francis Spencer,
Chloe's dad
-We should call your daddy dearest
and he takes out an ornate mirror, where her father appears; he's in their family home in the City and dismisses his phone call as soon as he feels Oberon's presence.
-Francis, a word.
-Oberon, what's going on?
-Your daughter, she's been less than cooperative.
He glances at the distraught and shocked Chloe
-Well, she obviously regrets it. You can make an exception, surely?
-You know my price, Francis.
He looks at his daughter, and then to Oberon, pursing his lips with a momentary hesitation
-I'm sorry, Chloe
-Daddy! No!

Suddenly another voice calls out, it's her mom.
Oberon shakes his head, he recognises her voice as quickly as Chloe does
-Miranda. This is why it's trouble when daughters follow their mother's example. You just don't know your place!
Her mom's voice is angry
-I'll call Her, and she'll rain hell down on you
-You think she cares? You know my price. Go get me the necklace
-Mom. What's going on?

She looks at Chloe
-Fine. Send her to collect it
The mirror shifts and Chloe sees her mom standing over her father's body.

Oberon breaks the connection.
-Go, and take this empty shell with you, whatever use she is
gesturing dismissively at Maria. He sends them all back to the bank of the pool.

Madison reaches the pool and Brie wonders what the hell she's doing there. Aster starts to explain the situation to Madison, but Brie draws him aside.
-Sweetie, we don't involve strangers, normal people in our business.
-She has some powers
And Brie turns to Madison
-What are you, what can you do?
-All kinds of things. None of them fueled by Jesus,
-If you can help, your crazy friend and weird girlfriend...
(this last word, she spits out)
-...are trapped by this monster in that pool
Aster explains Chloe's involvement in this whole affair and how Madison can help, specifically to close the pool so that Oberon cannot escape.
-Are you in? Even if it means trapping Maria too?
-I'm in, but we're going to find her first.

Just then, Chloe emerges with an angry Emily and a catatonic Maria in tow. Madison goes to Maria to see what's wrong and then starts to mull over what kind of ritual could help her. Chloe walks away single-mindedly, heading back to the dorms. But Brie goes after her and Chloe angrily tells her
-Stay away from me, or I'll shove that shotgun up your ass
Brie is stopped momentarily, but draws a knife and Chloe just turns tail and runs. Brie can't chase, as Emily leaps on her. As soon as Chloe's out of danger, Emily gets off Brie, but Brie goes to attack her again. Aster interferes with her, his slighted Faerie sensibility (for being abandoned at the dance) has her trip over an unseen tree root and miss the opportunity.
-Deal with them later. We need to seal the pool first.
And Emily runs after Chloe.
Brie tells Aster
-This won't last. Chloe won't stop and Emily won't allow us to take care of her
-Hopefully we can do something less extreme
And Brie nods indulgently

Madison leaves the pool with Maria to go back to the dorms. It's a challenge, but she totally 'weekend at Bernie's' it and gets back to her sanctuary.


Victor, the Ghoul is in bed with Emma, and she rolls over to smile at him. She touches his scars
-It's just amazing. Did you mean what you said earlier?
-Absolutely. I don't lie much.
-It's a lot to ask. We need to research this. To study you. You could cure people, save lives. If they figure you out, they'll be able to defeat death!
Victor is deflated. This isn't what he meant earlier. The greater good is of no interest to him.
-I never beat death. It just doesn't want me.
-I know you're nervous. I won't let them hurt you
He chuckles, rolling out of bed and heading to the bathroom. She hears the breaking of glass and seeing him standing over the sink with glass from the broken mirror in his closed fist. She tries to stop him but he explains
-You don' one should feel like this. It's so quiet. You can hear your own heartbeat. You don't know what it's like to not have that much.
-Oh Victor. I'm so sorry, I didn't realise
She hugs him, and he takes her hand and presses it into his chest as he clenches his fist again. With a surge of pain, she thinks she can feel the glimmerings of a heartbeat inside him. She's horrified.
-It's all I've got
-This can't be the way. Is this why you're always beat up so much?
She pities him now.
-This is a mistake. I shouldn't have done this. You're obviously very fragile. You should go.
-In many ways, this is the best thing that's happened to me. I've always been self-destructive.
He tells her about his first death. The car crash which killed three of his friends, but left him like this. He gets her to take out the glass shards in his hand, and she hugs him again
-Victor, I...

Sidney, Madison's room-mate
and a member of her coven
Madison is still trying to recruit people into her coven. She grabs Sidney.
-That stuff we were trying to before, it's real. I need your help.
Sidney is having none of it
-Oh hell no! You're bat-shit crazy. I'm calling the police and going to Sister Beatrice.
Madison is furious at this betrayal, her darkest self coming to the fore, she withers Sidney right there and then, before she even gets to the door.
Sidney's teeth start falling out, Sidney is panicked and horrified, screaming out for help
-Do you want to help me now?
Sidney's tongue fall out as well and she can feel herself dying, starting to cough up her insides. Madison steps close and kisses her on her rotting mouth to take back the hex.

Sidney sits in the corner, crying and whimpering as she feels the rot stopping. Madison stands her up
-You understand now, right. Clean yourself. You're in the coven now.

Madison gazes into the Abyss. She hears Oberon talking to Chloe about Maria
-She would've been dead soon anyway. She didn't have the strength to continue for much longer. Two weeks tops I give her.
He's holding a beating heart in his hand. It's everything that is Maria. Inside Oberon's head she can sense that apart from retrieving the heart, the only thing which could restore Maria's self is to "get Her involved, and she wouldn't do that". She sees Sister Beatrice's office. But her visage shimmers and it's not her. She's wearing a pendant which would be very useful for this.

Aster needs a distraction to steal Sister Beatrice's book, so he heads to Victor and Cameron's room. Victor hasn't been around for ages, but Cameron is there.
-Look, I need some help. If you could distract Sister Beatrice to get her out of her office?
Cameron admits he might've been hasty before
-Maybe that one-time thing could turn into a two, three, four-time thing? You want that right now?
Cameron asks, and when Aster goes in for a kiss, he waves him off
-I meant the distraction. Do you want it right now?
Aster has left Brie behind for this. Probably not the kind of thing she wants to be part of.

By the time he's made his way to the office, he can see Cameron and Jordan having a fight in the yard. Teachers are hearing about it and are going to break it up. Wells and Armstrong are getting Sister Beatrice as well. When she leaves her office, Aster breaks in without too much trouble, gets the book and adjusts the shelves to hide its absence. (Guerilla librarianship at its finest!)

Emily catches up to Chloe and calls to her. Chloe turns around, she's impatient and a little cruel
Miranda, Chloe's mom
-I need to go
-We can't just go along with what he says
-That's the only reason we're alive.
Then, as Chloe turns away to leave
-Come with me or not. I don't care

She changes quickly back at her room and grabs a cab across the city to her parents' place. Oberon talks to her about Maria, but she's too busy trying to keep herself together to respond to him.
Her mom answers the door, and hugs her so fiercely
-Chloe, I love you. I'm so sorry baby
And then she puts the chloroform over Chloe's face

Victor is struggling with this new awareness Emma has of him
-Victor, it's not that I don't care. It's just irresponsible of me
-Emma, we've talked enough about me. I care about you. We can't go on like this. You can't spend all your energy on people just to have it thrown back in your face. There's nothing worse than a life wasted
He wants her to use this vindictive energy on Armstrong, but she turns it around on him instead.
-You don't know what I want or need. Just leave now
Victor storms off, but leaves her with a parting shot
-Just do something

When he spots the fight starting with two of the people he needs to hurt, he charges in gleefully.


Aster has the tome for Ambrosia, and as usual she just pops up when he needs her. After perusing the relevant sections, she shakes her head
-We can't. It's not a matter of trapping him again. That was a one-time thing. We can only prevent him from getting the last element.
-We have to be able to reinforce the bonds somehow.
-There is a way to kill him that's much surer. To trap him we need a Fae to lay down their life, this lost necklace and the blood of an Elder God.
-Not bloody likely then. How do we kill him?
-We get him to drink this potion
-Sounds easier than the blood of an Elder God. What's the recipe?
Easier still sounds pretty difficult: the fur of a werewolf, the blood of one who cannot die, a vampire fang and a powerful witch to brew it. Of course getting him to drink it would be a challenge, overpowering Oberon to force him to drink it won't be a cakewalk

In the meantime, they'll just have to stop Chloe, and Aster goes to find Madison to get her onside.

Madison goes to get Sister Beatrice's pendant. She sends Sidney to find Ash, and then sneaks into Sister Beatrice's (unlocked) office, but realises that she must be wearing the pendant. So she breaks into her apartment instead and lies in wait there.

Amanda, usually overlooked
and obviously just unlucky
Aster finds Maria just lying on the bed and leaves a note for Madison on her lap. He goes looking for Emily instead (werewolf fur, right?). He finds Emily, a sad look her face, with her room-mate, Amanda out cold and over her shoulder. Aster talks calmly to her
-Put her in bed. It looks like she needs sleep
-I don't want to hurt you. Get out of my way
-I need something from you. It'll help your situation
Emily dumps Amanda on the bed and just rushes him, forcing him up against the wall.
-You stupid idiot. I tried to get you to leave
and she lashes out with one hand that's morphed into a claw and it rips deep into Aster's belly. He screams out
-You promised to protect me. I'm just trying to help you!
-I can't help it
-Maybe you aren't worth helping
Oberon's obviously changed his mind, and now Emily's trying to knock him out. He runs as best as he can and somehow gets far enough away that she gives up and goes back to get Amanda.

Aster turns up at the edge of the fight, and his very real wounds attract some attention there.

Victor fights savagely, going after Cameron first (who he blames for this whole thing). He's using the glass still embedded in his palm as a weapon, shocking Cameron
-The fuck! Dude!
His savagery has united his enemies, and Jordan joins in on Cameron's side and they double up to beat Victor to the ground.

The teachers break them up. Mr. Armstrong drags Victor away. Victor stares him in the eyes, sensing the vulnerability hidden behind the outward strength. With real hunger, Victor tells him
-You've got one chance to run, Pete. I'll even give you a head-start and then you'll get what's coming.
Armstrong suddenly realises that he's not in control.
-What the hell Victor? Stop this.
Victor laughs like a psycho
-I can't
and he launches at Armstrong, biting him. Armstrong tries to overpower him, but Victor's just getting on top of him to pummel and Armstrong's damage control strategy isn't cutting it
-Why can't any of you people realise how good you have it!
as he bashes Armstrong's head against the concrete ground
Ian clocks him from behind with a baseball bat, and that should have killed him.
But Victor just gets up, meaner and angrier and hungrier...

Chloe wakes up in her mom's car. She's tied up securely, but the bonds are hidden under a cosy blanket. They're driving towards school.
-We're picking up your brother
-What about the necklace
-Listen, we're not going to do what he says. We're going to pick up Luke and figure this out
-But I have to do what he says
-That's why you're tied up, dear

Chloe stares as her as she negotiates traffic. She should be trying to find a way out of this, but she can't help but wonder how she didn't see it before. Miranda's weakness is her (and Luke); she loves them more than anything else in the world.

Chloe tries to think of who else could get them out of this trouble
-They all hate me at school. None of them are going to help me
-Don't worry. I'll figure this out. We might have to just get far away from here
-Mom. How does Oberon know you?
She looks over at Chloe, who's just shedding some of the blinkers she has on
-I'm not human. When Oberon and I were thrown from power, he was trapped and I was made into, this.
-You used to be married to Oberon? Ew! So, now you are normal?
That truth hits Miranda hard. Crueler punishment than Oberon's imprisonment. But Chloe's already moved on
-So, you're why Oberon had his claws in me?
-That was your father.
She fingers the necklace at her throat
-Is Dad really dead?
The look on her mom's face says it all

Oberon is furiously impatient
-Tell her that I can kill you
Chloe repeats that, and wonders
-Do you have someone with a sniper rifle nearby...or you've implanted a cortex bomb in me?
Oberon isn't sure whether she's serious or messing with him

They've pulled up in the school's car park, as Chloe is untied and takes the necklace from her mom, Oberon chimes in again
-The deal has changed. Now she has to come to me
Miranda leaves behind her phone, handbag and the car keys.
-Of course. Just remember, I always loved you and your brother
She kisses Chloe, who tries to convince her to stay, but Miranda is defeated.

Chloe plucks up all her courage and races to the pool, getting in between her mom and the dark water. She promises Oberon the moon to save her mom from going into that dark pool herself.
-I'll never act like that to you again. I'll do whatever you want, no questions asked.
Oberon chooses to indulge her
-So sweet. I'll just take the necklace. She doesn't have to come into my realm. You've pleased me now that you're a good minion and know your place.
Miranda is holding back tears
-Don't get in deeper Chloe. I'm trying to save you.
Chloe takes the necklace and pushes her back towards the car.
-Better get home and tidy up
-I'm so sorry I failed you. Don't let him get your brother, please.

Oberon is sitting on his throne like a conquering hero. Chloe approaches the dais with nervous deference. Displaying the necklace on her palms, she bows and hands it over to Oberon, who takes it triumphantly.
-You must stop the Fae boy, Aster
-Tell me what the lynchpin is, because stopping him, and Madison and Brie seems unlikely
-There is a book. It has information on this prison. Learn what they intend. It's in the possession of so-called Sister Beatrice; she is dangerous
Chloe tries to plumb that 'so-called', but he says she's not ready for that


To the onlooking Aster, it looks like both Mr. Armstrong and Victor are both dead. But then Victor gets up and takes the baseball from Ian's grasp
-A big change, huh? To have me stealing something of yours!
But before he can whale on Ian, Ms. Wells and Sister Beatrice combine to grab him and they quickly bind him. Charlotte Abbington is organising everyone, and she notices the striken Aster standing nearby.
-Aster, what's happened to you?
-Emily, she tried to stop me. She was taking Amanda
But Charlotte sees the claws marks and doesn't believe a word he says

Brie overhears the exchange though, and she heads off with murderous intent.

Sitting in the nurse's office (this school really needs an ER, or maybe the nurse deserves to be working at one instead) Aster seeks wisdom from the Abyss; in his drained state he sees Madison waiting for Sister Beatrice in a smoky room. Behind her is a closed cabinet, which he's sure is filled with ingredients for witchcraft.

Sister Beatrice enters her apartment with Victor over her shoulder. As the door is opening, Madison can hear her talking to herself
-Oh, Caine. What did you do now. You just keep on being reborn, and doing the same stupid shit. I wonder if you have the better curse, to not remember and just be ignorant.

She is surprised to see Madison just sitting on her armchair waiting her arrival.
-How did you get in here, and why?
-Hoping we could have a chat
Suddenly Sister Beatrice sees her a little clearer and she leaves Victor down in the other chair, tying him up with a spectacularly easy display of magic.

-What do you want my dear
-Well, we have a mutual enemy in the pool outside
-Oberon's making trouble again?
-He did something to my...friend
Madison is trying to avoid explaining her true relationship with Maria
-Don't worry. I've heard all about you and Miss Beauvier. Your mother is in quite the hissy fit about it.
Sister Beatrice's true form: Lilith
She drops her disguise, and Madison sees an extraordinary women in a middle eastern outfit.

So, Madison tells her about what's happened to Maria and what the vision suggested could help her reverse the affect. Sister Beatrice thinks
-That would be a big favour. This pendant doesn't exactly have unlimited uses.
-I'm coming into my own. I think I can help you out in future
-I suppose it's time. I can help you for your allegiance. They call me Lilith, if you haven't guessed already. Why don't you tell me what's going on; I've heard all about Brie from Chloe.
Madison tells her what she knows about the dark power's control over Chloe, and as she talks, Lilith starts getting the ingredients out of her cabinet.
-In my office, there's a book...

Aster's lying on the bed in the nurse's office. He struggles to his feet and goes looking for Madison. He bumps into her almost immediately, but she's with Sister Beatrice. He tries to make Madison understand him without giving anything away
-Did you get my note? About the thing?
But Sister Beatrice elbows her way into the conversation
-Aster, dear boy. You're his son.
-Whose son?
-I shoudn't be telling tales. We need to get that book
He replies and then whispers to himself
-...that's not going to cause any problems. Madison, what's going on?
-I was being proactive about that thing you asked me to do for you
Aster slumps and explains about the book and Ambrosia and Lilith is worried
-You didn't think there might be some who are still loyal to him?
-Not my sister
He shakes his head, but Lilith says the fact that she's his sister makes it even worse!
-She's been helping me against him
-Well, you go fined your sister. And get that book back

Ambrosia, Aster's big sister
So he wanders into the woods, hoping that she'll just turn up as usual. After a while, she's nowhere to be seen, so he gazes into the Abyss once more, and is startled by his cousin Anders. He knows where Ambrosia is, and he leads Aster into a small clearing where Ambrosia is tied up (with the book beside her) and two other Fae stand guard. They jump to grab him when Anders gives them the nod.

Anders declares to him
-We're bringing back our King
-He's there for a good reason
-Well, he's suffered enough

Aster refuses to be forced down and breaks free, running past Ambrosia to grab the book. He escapes the other Fae and yells back to her
-I'll come back for you!
They give chase, but he loses them on the way to Madison's room

Chloe is there when Amanda is dropped into the pool. The other girl looks at her, pleading
-I just wanted to be prettier
-Suck it up. I've got my own problems.
And she climbs out to head towards Madison's room


Lilith helps Madison with her ritual to bring back Maria. A red heart appears in the room above her body and Madison takes it and pushes it inside Maria's chest. Maria gasps and is herself again. She hugs Madison and gasps
-Where were you?
and breaks down sobbing.

Lilith tells them, bluntly but not unkindly
-We don't have time for this. Don't be alone while we're gone and we will see an end to this affair
Maria asks Madison what's going on after she calms down a bit
-Don't worry. We're going to make sure that thing can't hurt anyone ever again

Aster arrives with the book, breathless and Lilith whisks it from his arms
-Very fortunate for you
-I've got to save my sister
-We have to act quickly
-Oh, I already have some werewolf fur
He smiles, reaching into his pocket. They head back to her apartment.

Chloe is almost there when she sees them all parade back from Madison's room
She and Oberon say simultaneously.
-Well, I guess you just need to provide one more for me instead

She wanders around until she spots Sidney and Ash. Taking a deep breath she approaches.
-What's up?
And then as she sees the state of Sidney, she asks Ash
-What's wrong with Sidney?
But Sidney just stares at her, grabbing Ash's and covering her mouth. Staring with scary intensity, she mutters a hex and Chloe starts seeing horrifying illusions, false prophecies of what is to come
She sees Oberon escaping from his prison. Using the pendant and then locating her mom. Rampant in the world and wreaking havoc everywhere.
Chloe can barely stand this terrifying thing she's going to let loose on the world, but she knows she has no choice. She punches Sidney in the face and knocks her over. Climbing on top of her and starting to throttle her, she feels Sidney begin another hex and she doesn't think she can stop her in time.

So she runs, and the binding doesn't entrap her.

Jimmy, prize douchebag
She needs someone else, quick! And then she spots Jimmy, sitting on the steps alone. She quietly walks up behind him, and puts her hands on his shoulders.
Jimmy turns around, looking a little bit confused. This isn't how Chloe usually is.
-I noticed you ditched that bitch Maria
-Yeah, what's it to you?
-Well, I was wondering if you and me could, you know, go out?
He smiles at her
-Want to go out tomorrow?
-Sure. But if you're bored, do you want to do something now?
He doesn't need a second invitation to ditch homework on the weekend, and she brings him to the pool.

It's dark and Oberon is hungry and Chloe is about to make her pitch when Brie jumps out wielding a katana
-I've been waiting for you!
Jimmy tries to talk to her
-Hey Brie. Chicks shouldn't fight
But Brie sneers at him and advances towards Chloe, who yells
and directs him towards the pool. As soon as he steps into the water it envelops him and he's taken by Oberon.

Chloe keeps stepping away, angling for a way out of this.

Sister Beatrice walks into her apartment, Victor is still tied to the chair.
-Oh good. You're awake
He hasn't been entirely asleep for the last few minutes and he can see her true form
-Am I in trouble?

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Till the Monster Stirred

As Aster the Fae and Cameron review their video, they spot Victor the Ghoul leaving the apartment. They record his departure (some b-roll is always useful) when a muffled shot rings out and Victor falls over and lies very still. A dark figure runs out and lifts his body, bringing it back into the woods from where it appeared.

Aster and Cameron are both shocked, but don't leap into action or anything.
They disagree on what to do with the footage. Aster isn't suggesting that they go chasing after that person, but maybe they should show it to the police? Cameron's thinking of just sitting on it, and he needs convincing to do anything quickly.
Aster puts his hand on Cameron's shoulder.
-Look, It's fun but this can go further, You're more willing to see people die than I am. We have to take care of that mysterious person.
Cameron is definitely into Aster
-Yeah, alright. I'll send it tomorrow
-If it goes out tomorrow, nothing else is going to happen tonight.
Cameron gets the hint, and they kiss

Chloe the Infernal kneels beside Emily's body. She's crying as she gently tries to wake Emily. Finally, she wakes up, and wonders what happened, and as soon as Chloe mentions that she was shot, she reaches for her stomach where she was shot, but finds nothing, Chloe tells her that she had no other way of saving her, and had to ask for help. Emily remembers what Chloe said earlier: about a dark force inside her, and has such sympathy for Chloe's plight that they hug.

Emily, a werewolf
and Chloe's crush
Suddenly, Emily has a strange and fearful look on her face, as if she's listening to a voice she can't believe exists. Chloe gazes into the Abyss, she gets a series of unguarded thoughts from Oberon (usually when he's not paying attention to her) and she hears him speaking to Emily. Chloe takes Oberon on, leverage his arrogance to suggest that he can't possibly be interested in this mongrel. Oberon scowls, but leaves them alone.

They get Emily's pack from the usual place, get her dressed and head back to the dorm - Emily is Chloe's bitch.

Victor wakes up in a shack in the woods. He's securely tied to a chair, but he sees a dark figure sitting with their back to him. They're scribbling in a notebook. Victor tests the knots, but can't easily free himself.
-You might find I'm not as displeased with this as I might be
-Oh good, you're awake.
The figure turns, and Victor is surprised to see that it's Brie. She gets up and walks towards him
-Right now all I care about is how to kill you. The Devil is in you. When Sidney came to me I didn't believe it, but I checked you and you have no pulse. So what are you.
She wonders about vampires for a while, and Victor interrupts her
-What experiments do you have lined up?
-I think this will be right up your alley...I've so many ideas
Brie is truly relishing this and she uncovers a work table with many and terrible implements on it, from a blow torch to a chainsaw.

Aster is kissing Cameron against the wall of a small alleyway in between two of the school buildings. He doesn't want to get caught on video (or by anyone else using the alley as a short-cut). They go somewhere a little bit more private, and Aster keeps pushing things until they have sex. Afterwards, lying naked together, Aster tries to extract a promise from Cameron
-I don't want this to be a one-time thing.
-No. I don't want to be beholden to anyone
-I'm disappointed, and I wasn't ready for that
-Well, I promise you'll be seeing me again

Aster goes to find Brie, gazing into another impossibly deep basin of water to find her. His vision is confusing and he feels hatred and violence and blood. He sees a red wolf getting shot and go down. He sees Victor getting shot. And then he sees the shack out in the woods.

On his way there, he bumps into Chloe and Emily. Aster sees that Emily is roughed up and a little bit bloodied. He's his usual gallant self, but there's definitely something off about Aster. Offering Emily a handkerchief and his coat, Chloe spots him deftly putting the dagger away. Emily's not impressed by his act, and doesn't play up for it like they see other girls do.

As he's distracted, Chloe gazes into the Abyss once more. And she sees Aster enacting his own ritual and talking to himself about his plan to stop Brie. When she presses him on his plan, he comes across a bit dangerous. He's going to stop her and it seems like revenge for standing him up at the dance earlier.

Chloe struggles with her earlier intent to bring Emily back to her room, but when she tells Aster that she'll go with him and Emily will head back to the dorm by herself, Emily turns on her. They have a tender conversation about how Emily will protect her and that despite her appearance she doesn't actually feel too bad; if Chloe thinks she's going to stop her, she's got another thing coming. So Chloe's doesn't try to stop her and they all head into the woods.

Emily's looking at Aster like she doesn't understands how he smells like he does - like the woods.


Victor's not dead again. Brie's amazed.
-Still suffering, but you're dead.
The stabs and burns are fading away in front of her eyes. Victor clears his throat.
-You'll need to bring a bit more than that
-Maybe the chainsaw, maybe that's overkill? Anyway, we've got plenty of time

She goes back to make notes in her second book. This one is all writing, every second leaf alternating between a normal girl's diary and a militaristic journal detailing her operations and torture sessions.
Victor can read some of it from where he's sitting.
A passage about shooting the red wolf, she couldn't confirm the kill up close because she heard someone running towards it.
Brie, doesn't look like a
stone cold killer, does she?
Aster's paramour
A passage detailing Victor's capture.
-Slow down. You're only 17. And you're in such a powerful position, there's no need to rush things.
She smiles back, maliciously
-I'm not trusting you
And yet she approaches, albeit cautiously. She leans in and kisses him roughly and surprisingly passionately and just as he responds she slides a screwdriver into his gut and then for good measure bites his lip, all the way through.
-Is this what you wanted?
With her straddling him, he accepts the pain and aims to catch her off guard, positioning his feet to tilt the chair all the way back to fall to the ground...

Aster bursts through the door to see Victor biting into Brie's shoulder as they fall to the ground. They both look up (almost as if they've been caught!) and Brie jumps to her feet with alarming speed to grab the chainsaw and start it.

Aster and Brie argue for a minute about Victor's monstrous nature, and when Aster asks him what's going on, Victor shouts that she's just crazy
-I'm not crazy, I'm doing God's will!
and she goes for Victor

From the doorway, Emily dives into Brie forcing her onto the ground and holds her down, with fingers slowly tightening around her throat. If Brie was stronger and faster than expected, Emily's off the charts.
Aster is talking to himself, or maybe no one in particular
-This is why you ditched me at the dance

Chloe walks over from the doorway and leans over Brie.
-You better cool off Brie. Stop trying to hurt us or we'll have you sent back to that lunatic asylum.
Emily glares at her
-Let's not. I just want to kill her right now.
Brie goes off on a tirade about how they're all monsters, but Aster tries to talk Emily down; she's a few ounces of pressure away from crushing Brie's windpipe.
Chloe walks over to the desk and picks up the notebooks.
-With these, you'll be back in a padded cell in no time, and this visit will last a very long time.
Brie screams that she'd rather die than go back there!
-Well, it's your choice. Go back to being your normal bubbly choir girl, or rebellious skank or whatever.

Aster steps over to Brie and helps her to her feet.
-No one's hurt anyone

Brie still doesn't have enough though, and walks over to threaten Victor.
-If you step out of line, I'll be back for you
-Fuck you
spits Victor but Brie is still defiant
-No one's going to stop me next time
She goes up to Chloe; she's looking for her notebooks back. Chloe tells her no way and swings at Brie when she reaches for them. But Brie grabs her and twists her wrist until Chloe drops the books. Brie takes them and leaves, with Aster behind her.

They untie Victor, and he wonders
-What the hell were you thinking!
Emily just replies
-I really want to kill that bitch!
And Chloe is obviously looking at the chainsaw like she agrees with her.

Emily's a bit confused by Victor, here and now, she smells like decay from him. He heads to his room alone.


Emily and Chloe walk back together. Emily's surprised that Chloe didn't stop her, there's something like love in her stare.
-You're a lot darker than you seem at first
Chloe grins
-You could've killed her. You had every right after she shot you, and almost killed you. I swear I was this close to picking up that chainsaw and going after her myself.

Aster and Brie are well ahead of them. Brie staggers a little bit and Aster supports her. He wonders what her beef is with Emily. He can understand with Victor, he's nasty and brutish, but Emily's nice enough.
-You have to put down wild beasts, you can't wait for them to attack
-Retribution is one thing, but preemptive killings are a whole other level.
-You see the good in people, and that's sweet. I hope you're right and we don't regret it.
She kisses him on the cheek. She's still a little weak, so he sweeps her into his arms and back to her dorm room.
-My hero!
Ash isn't in their room, so he lets her down and when she comes back showered and wearing a towel, he takes the opportunity to use the first aid kit to bandage her wounds. Inevitably, one thing turns to another.

Victor gets back to his room and wakes up a bleary-eyed Cameron. He sits up, surprised as hell
-Holy shit!
and lifts up Victor's shirt where he can see the healed gunshot wound.
Victor brushes him off, and wants to talk about the 'Armstrong project'
-I think I caught them
and Cameron shows him a shoddy video of Armstrong and Wells going into his office; there's a cut and then they're kissing and undressing.

Cameron, general all-round
puppet master.
Victor's partner in crime
Victor's happy with that
-I'm going to need you to distribute this like normal
But Cameron wants to wait until the morning, and until Victor explains how he's not dead!
-You're in no position to demand anything since you just left me high and dry at the dance!
Victor imagines smashing Cameron's head through the window, but restrains himself.
They agree on a quid pro quo, Cameron will upload the video now, and Victor will tell him what he is. Victor doesn't and when he walks to take a shower, Cameron complains that he's going to leave blood everywhere.

When he gets back, he has to dig out the bullet that's still inside him. It's a dull ambient pain that does nothing but annoy him and Cameron helps him take it out.
Victor tells him that Brie shot him, and points to the myriad of stab wounds and burns all over him that she's responsible for as well.
-What the fuck!

There's a moment where this is starting to affect Cameron a little too much, but Victor restrains himself. He likes their dynamic right where it is.

When Chloe and Emily get back to her room, Maria is nowhere to be seen. Probably still out with Madison. Chloe closes the door, setting up a door stop and chair to give them some privacy. When she turns around, she doesn't bother with any preamble, but Emily knows exactly what Chloe is thinking. The worst thing is that, after they have sex, Chloe can't help but think that now, Oberon has his claws into Emily just a little bit more than before.


Aster wakes up to see Brie lying naked beside him. She's propped up and is sketching him in her notebook. He can't help himself and poses for her. She turns the notebook around
-Here, gaze at yourself!
He gets her to promise not to take any preemptive action.

Ash walks in. She really didn't need to see an entirely naked Aster posing on Brie's bed.
-I thought you were a good Christian girl now
And then, now that it's daylight, Brie notices that all of Aster's hair is blue. She goes over to him and runs her fingers over his head, and sees that the hair is blue all the way down to the roots.
-That is weird
Ash can't believe what she's seeing. They're so shameless, and she leaves again.
-You're not exactly a normal boy, are you. Your perspective on the others makes sense now.
Brie's obviously struggling with this new information.
She's late for mass and Aster sneaks out after one last kiss.

They're late, so Chloe helps Emily to get dressed for mass. Emily sees that she's not getting ready herself, and wonders why (she'll get into trouble if they don't go).
Chloe says that she just can't stomach it. She knows it's silly, but now that she's in league with, the devil, she can't bring herself to go there.
-I mean, what if I burst into flames when I walk in. The other thing I can't get out of my head is that old movie about that immortal Scottish guy with the sword. The bad guy walks into a church and just goes crazy; what if I do that?
Emily kisses her
-We're going to talk about scary demon overlords when I get back. Cause you're mine now.
Chloe waits until the door closes before she swoons onto her bed.

Ian, Victor's fashion
Victor heads to mass looking for Chloe. But she's not there and he bumps into Emily who tells her that she's not feeling well and is back in her room.

Around the chapel, everyone is transfixed by their phones. Miss Carter and Mr. Armstrong are nowhere to be seen and the atmosphere is heavy. Then he notices that people are giving him a wide berth (wider than usual), and he spots Ian, who pales and backs away when Victor approaches.
-Do I reek? Why is everyone giving me a ten foot radius?
Ian just shows him his phone; a video of Victor getting shot has also done the rounds.
Victor just sneers and lets Ian go. He heads to Chloe's dorm room.

Aster gets to the chapel to find that the staff are confiscating the student's phones. He's not fooling anyone when he says he's left his back in his room, and is forced to surrender it. (Apparently the school charter allows them to seize property for any reason deemed suitable by the staff).

Ambrosia is there too, she's obviously tried to dress respectably but has failed spectacularly. Her red dress isn't blending in at all. She draws him aside conspiratorially.
-The pond. His prison is weaker. I must speak with the elders
-He must have someone helping him, I'll find out who.
Ambrosia looks like she's going to say something else, but stops herself.


Victor enters the room without knocking, and Chloe's protestations stop as soon as she recognises him. She's not pretending to be unwell for him and sits up in bed. It's obvious she hasn't seen the videos of Armstrong and Wells
-Have you any dirt on him?
-That was it
Victor presses her and she levels with him
-Let me tell you the truth
And she tells him of her showdown with Armstrong in his office. That all she wanted to do was get him to stop having the affair with Ms. Wells and go back to Miss Carter. He laughed at her and then offered her A's. And she accepted that dirty deal from him
-You're sweet, and people trust you. If you tell people that he's be in even more trouble. He needs to be taught a lesson.

Oberon chimes in to encourage her to stir up trouble, but she shuts him down.
-I thought you were supposed to be cold and calculating. I'm just protecting my investment

Victor tries a different tack.
-Listen. You want him to go back to her. She can't turn him away, but it's going to happen again. He needs to be put down.
-How would that happen?
-You call him and give him a time and place. I'll take care of the rest
-I'm not comfortable with that
-I'm going to beat him into pulp
-You're not going to get my help with that. First off, Brie will come after you after sharpening her chainsaw. Second, Mr. Armstrong is big and works out, he will beat you into the ground or just hold you off and call the cops!

Victor is getting angry with her.
-You don't sharpen chainsaws! You're as bad as the rest of them, you're monstrous but you pretend.
-Just because I'm weak, that doesn't make me a monster!
-You're just selfish
-Well, if you do it, leave my name out of it

Oberon warns her
-It's best if you don't make this one angry

After their sprawling argument, Victor is unhinged, and Chloe is prey. It's lasted 45 minutes and people are returning from mass. Emily knocks and walks in, and she's not happy with what she sees. Victor angrily standing over a vulnerable-looking Chloe.
-Victor! What the hell are you doing?
Victor just walks out, and Emily grabs his shirt collar as he goes past her.
-Don't let it happen again
And Victor just keeps going, ripping his shirt a little (showing some of the wound marks on his shoulder and neck.

Victor sneaks out of the dorm like a pro. But he's thinking, maybe Brie was right.

Aster is talking to Brie as they clean up the shack (the groundskeeper is returning on Monday). She has questions, like
-What are you?
-A Fae
-These woods are strange. I hear giggling and see figures flitting through the shadows
-Giggling, that would be my relatives
-And there's that creepy pool
-That should be avoided. It's a prison for someone who shouldn't be left out; which would be very bad for everyone. Lately the bonds are getting weaker. He's getting outside help

-It's got to be Chloe. I've seen her at that pool
-She seems so sweet
-You were the one who stopped that wolf from killing me. But Chloe said nothing.

He gives her the dagger. She's so happy with it! It's perfectly balanced and made with silver.
-We're going to make sure the prisoner stays captured
Brie thanks Aster and they kiss. She shows him into the connected cave, which is full of training gear and equipment. She admits that she's pretty good at hiding her presence here, she mostly moves around at night.
-If Chloe is helping Oberon, we need to stop her. Direct questions mightn't be useful, plus we'll lose the element of surprise.
-Well, this is more your gig than mine. I was thinking surveillance.
She grimaces
-Well, you know what my solution would be. Kill Chloe and Emily as soon as we see them
and she turns to throw her new pointy toy at the target
-Let's just try to stop them before we escalate this any more


Victor goes to find Emma at her apartment. As he approaches the door, he hears angry yelling from inside; Emma's voice telling him to get out!
Mr. Armstrong opens the door, suitcase in hand.
-It's really not a good time
-I can see
Victor smiles at him and knocks at the open door as Mr. Armstrong walks away.

Emma Carter. Everyone's
favourite teacher. 
Emma is crying inside, and she tells him that now is not a good time. Anyway, Sister Beatrice is on duty this morning so he should talk to her.
But he enters anyway and closes the door behind him. He's enjoying the fruits of his scheming.
-You look like you might need to talk
-You're very sweet, but you're only 17
-We've both gone through a similar experience. Having painful secret about us spread
Emma looks concerned all of a sudden, seeing his torn shirt and wounds
-Are you ok?
She's remembered the video she saw earlier, before everything else happened, and tries to bring him to the nurse, but he reaches out and moves her hand to his heart
-I'm fine. I have all the time in the world
She freezes as she realises she can't feel a heartbeat

Somehow, Victor convinces her not to talk about this, but to talk about her instead.
-Peter and I are getting a divorce
But she can't not talk about him
-How do you not have a pulse?
-I died. My body just doesn't give up. I guess I'm not the giving-up sort. My parents called me 'driven', in a mean way, but they were right
Emma wants to see where he got shot, and takes off his shirt
-Who did this to you?
-I don't want to get anyone in trouble.
He talks about wanting to punish Armstrong, not needing to take care of himself, that he can make sure nothing like this happens to her again.
-There's more than one way to teach a lesson. Or work anger out.
-It's not your job to defend me
-You can make it my job. I can be at your beck and call.

She kisses him, properly this time.
-You're not a freak. You need to be taken care of. You're not disposable
-I'm asking you to take care of me
And now she's ready for him.

Chloe and Emily are eating in the dining hall. They're talking about Brie, and where she gets this crazy idea that she can just kill people who aren't like her, Chloe wonders about perfect blondes and their egos. Emily is incredibly hungry and Chloe shoves her tray over.
-Got to feed your dog
and she hears Oberon chortle, and then Emily gets that far-away look in her eyes.

Sister Beatrice wants a word with her.
On the long walk to the head office, Chloe starts to tell her that her arm is really sore from last night, and she didn't feel up to making it to mass this morning. Beatrice takes her wrist and turns it enough for Chloe to wince (for real).

Sister Beatrice turns towards the nurse's office, and Chloe wonders to Oberon what her dark secret is
Oberon needs to dig deep
-Oh, very interesting. Seems like Beatrice hates you all, all of you stupid, dirty children. She desires that you should all die

When Chloe sits down on the examination couch, she complains
-See, that b___'s fingerprints are still on me, from where she...
And Beatrice approaches her again.
-What do you mean?
-Well, I don't want to get anyone in tr...
-Miss Spencer. I don't have time for this idiocy
-It was Brianna.

And Chloe's story spills out of her: that Brie is crazy, she was saying that she shot Emily and stabbed Victor, but they're both still ok. She had all these crazy stories and pictures in her notebooks as well, but when Chloe tried to take them, Brie almost broke her wrist to get them back.
-She's really crazy and I'm scared of her
Sister Beatrice is stoic, and her eyes cold
-Tell no one what you've told me


Aster leaves Brie to work out, and goes to Ambrosia at her tree to tell her about the progress they've made.
-We think we know who's helping him, but if we could place some surveillance on the pool to make sure.
-It's not pleasant to walk the area, as Oberon's anger seeps out. Maybe the elders can place a spell that alerts us when someone approaches.

Chloe is hanging out with Emily after the nurse has bandaged her up. Suddenly Emily turns to her
-I'm going to save you. I'm going to destroy him and keep you safe from him forever.
Chloe's confused
-He wants me to bring Maria to him, or he'll hurt you. I can't let that happen.

Chloe shakes her head, telling her that if she wants to move on someone, she can't conspire with the other person Oberon can hear. She can't conspire with anyone, she's just got to do it.
-I'll take care of Maria, you don't need to bow to his wishes. He's not going to hurt me. He needs me, because I deliver for him.

Emily wonders how she's going to handle Maria. Chloe laughs, sadly
-I haven't had a chance to see her since Jimmy and Cameron sent that video out last night. I need to give her a hug. And after I'm her best friend, I'll be a bitch. I'll give her a way to get back at them. Emily's sad, and a little quiet at this. But she leaves Chloe off to do what she has to do.

On the way back to their room, she speaks to Oberon about Maria
-It won't be so easy you know. Maria and Madison were going to get revenge a different way. Maria won't be so susceptible to manipulation.
-You think so highly of her. Right now she's sobbing into her pillow.
Oberon doesn't appear to think highly of anyone.

Maria, the coolest girl. Chloe's
room-mate and Madison's lover
It goes pretty much as Chloe predicted. A good half hour of hugging, before Chloe makes her suggestion. But she does hesitate for a moment, wanting this moment to continue. It's the first time Maria has relied on her for any kind of support.

They walk into the woods, and Chloe briefs Maria on Oberon.
-Just ask for exactly what you want. He's an asshole but he always gives me what I'm looking for

Maria is startled as she walks into the pool, and hears Oberon's voice in her head
-Nice to meet you Maria. What do you desire?
-I want Jimmy and Cameron to suffer like I've suffered
-That isn't solely what you wish for though, is it. You want an end to the hurt. You wish it so much stronger than simple revenge!

Maria is engulfed in the water. It doesn't drag her down but enters her and then disappears. She's still and stunned, standing in the middle of the pool.

Chloe steps in and yells
-Undo this bullshit or else I'm cutting you off!
Oberon chuckles at her.
-I didn't expect this backbone from you. I just need one more, and you should be it
A hand of water raises out of the pool to grab her and sucks her into a vortex before she has a chance to think straight. She never noticed the Fae watching from the shadows.

Aster gets the signal, but it's too late.

Maria is in a cage, just an empty shell.
Javi prowls in another and when he sees Chloe, he looks at her with pure hatred.
-You! You did this to me!

Chloe turns to him from her cage, sneering in a tone to match Oberon's
-You should've just gone for the football victory you idiot

Thursday, 1 September 2016

At the Watering Hole

At the main crossroad miles outside of Lopez City, is an old station which is now The Watering Hole. There are a few barns and work-sheds there, and most of the time it's a pretty quiet place. Every month though it's becomes a bustling marketplace, where everyone from a hundred klicks around comes to buy and sell. The main players in this commerce are the Haciendas and the Cities.

The Haciendas are gigantic farms, growing mostly corn. They use slaves to irrigate and harvest the fields of corn. The slaves retain only the hope that they'll survive their ten years of service and earn their freedom. They accrue tattooed marks on their forearms each year. But there's a black market in faking tattoos and a matching bounty market in tracking runaways and counterfeiters. Most slaves end up there as punishment or as part of inter-city warfare or hacienda raids.

Out in the wilds, some people report mysterious thievery, but the wise are careful of the roaming gangs, and the paranoid wonder about what the foolish call werewolves.

The Scum, those who've had too much exposure to the poisonous water, are much-maligned and a target for much hatred in the haciendas and in Lopez City. Their skin goes scaly and crocodilian, but it's not always obvious.


In and around the Watering Hole:

Dusk, the Skinner works out of the Watering Hole's back room. She's a renowned tattoo artist and her ink is a serious status symbol out here. She's pretty friendly with TumTum, who runs the joint and Dremmer, the cute bouncer. They ensure no one takes advantage, but the payment arrangements usually run to credit at the bar. TumTum has the escrow and no one messes with him.

Dusk is friends with Wire, the Chopper. A while back Dusk stood up to Wire and her gang of violent bastard - Wire is pretty straight-forward but she respects that kind of courage. Wire helped Dusk out later on, when a foreman of nearby Hacienda called Shazza tried to take advantage of her. Wire sorted that asshole right out.

Fox, the Operator is in love with Dusk. Dusk can see that, but has recently left Fox down in a bad way. Usually she only lets the client into her tattooing chamber, but Jackson an exile from Lopez was talking to one of his Scum brothers. Fox set up a hidden camera in the room to eavesdrop (to report back his activities to Lopez who ousted the Scum to seize power). Dusk noticed is and destroyed it.

Dusk doesn't really have a relationship with Kim, the Savvyhead. Kim is pretty weird and mostly keeps to herself. Kim reckons that Dusk is the most dangerous to her position (more specifically to her boss, Fox).

Wire, the Chopper runs a large, though loose-knit gang of bikers. They roam between the cities, pulling jobs as escorts or muscle. Wire started the gang a few years ago to get rid of someone's abusive boyfriend (Jackie) and her good reputation led to a growing gang. Many of the new gang members become her lovers for a while, but it never lasts and there doesn't seem to be any jealously when someone new arrives on the scene.

Bull is her gang's unreliable mechanic, and she recently had to make an example of him after he swapped out parts from someone's bike without asking (or telling) them.

Other than Dusk, Wire is really not that complicated and doesn't really care much about people one way of the other.


In Lopez:

Fox, the Operator, runs a small crew, mostly between Lopez and the Watering Hole. She tries to keep her quarters quiet and away from unwanted attention. Her apartment is a few floors up, but she's well known in the tower despite her best intentions. Larry runs the well and she makes sure he's never messed with. Sanders is the local expert on solar panels and she is always running jobs for him, bringing him spare parts and setting up new installations provided by him.

Other than that, she brokers deals, delivers stuff and does a bit of surveillance on the side. The only thing she won't touch is drugs. She worries about protecting Hans, her mentor. Her crew consists of Brother, the heavy and Kim, the Savvyhead. Kim, amazingly enough, once faced down serious violence for her - taking out her tricorder and weirding the trouble-makers out enough to force them to back down.

She's done quite a few runs to Purity, up in the canyons, the only source of vital water purification tablets/equipment. She doesn't like them (they're all inbred and effete), but the scavs in the foothills are even worse, with their shaven heads and filed teeth.

Kim, the Savvyhead, stands out with her high tech gear and bubblegum pink hair. Her small van is a similar shade of pink and jammed with weird ass electronica. Her family used to own a Hacienda, the Moonlit Serenity and she was used to a live of comfort and privilege. However a few years ago, the Maelstrom started talking to her and she killed the and her baby brother and left.

Back then, she had a knack for jury-rigging tech; the troublesome slaves had tracking devices and the violent ones bomb collars. Needless to say the hacienda descended into chaos before she got very far, and soon enough her obvious talents led to her being recruited by Fox.

The flowers which used to thrive back at her family's hacienda have a connection to the Maelstrom and she uses them to give her hair and lips that incredible pink colour.