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Friday, 24 February 2017

Summary Judgement

Licking their wounds but exceptionally buoyed by the initial victories against the Billhooks, the Orphans relax a little.

Monger the Cutter continues his efforts to restore the honour of House Laudius. Taking a new line on this, he uses his usual means of enforcing compliance (and not the subtle pandering of his father).

Repairing the house itself - not quite to the way he remembers it from his childhood, but close. Hiring a new batch of servants - some of whom are old ones who retired or moved on when funds ran out. They're trading in Leviathan products again, and 3 or 4 butcher shops are reopened to sell once more. The feel is different, the sourcing is more aggressive and heavy-handed - maybe even illegal.


Ghostblade the Whisper heads down to the Silver Swan as usual. In Brightstone the news is rarely of any interest to her, this time she hears about something unspoken concerning the Strangford family and she's about to move onto more interesting things.  However, then she hears about this recalcitrant son Orlan who is being forced to come in from the cold by Lord Strangford himself.

She returns to the Orphans' lair to find Orlan, the leader of their adepts, packing a bag and tidying up all of his alchemical benches. He is returning to his family estate (just on the other side of Charhollow). She can't let him leave them in the middle of this war and tells him that she's set a spirit to spy on him until he returns. Anything it discovers will be fair game for them to use. He tells her that the family are aware of their Cult already and will definitely make a move against them if he doesn't go. So she lets him, reluctantly.


Quess the Spider visits with Skannon, a widow of a Leviathan Hunter's quartermaster. One of her children is aboard a ship still, but another - a son called Aldo was recently slain in his local the 'White Horse'. Quess realises that he must have been one of the Billhooks that the Wicked Mother consumed. She keeps her poker face, but offers to put her other child, a daughter called Casslyn into service in one of the new butcher shops that House Laudius is putting back in business.

Quess also continues to develop her informant inside the Billhooks. A younger son of the proprietor of the 'White Horse', Brogan was obviously there to witness their terrifying sacrifice and while that means that he knows who she really it, it also means that he's exceptionally afraid of her and what she can really do. She promises that they won't do that to him, so long as he provide her with exactly what she requires.

*

With their surprisingly effective opening salvo against the Billhooks, the Orphans now have a real fiendish reputation. Despite being in the middle of a war they are now as well known and generally regarded as they were before it erupted. New and previously reluctant gang members return to swell their ranks.


The Throne of Judgement
The Orphans want to keep up the pressure on the Billhooks. They have divided up the Billhooks remaining turf with Ulf Ironborn and they hatch a plan to take their share. Having saved some choice cuts of the dead Billhooks they stake out every skeletal hand on the street corners and walkways marking out the turf boundaries.

Undertaking a ritual to make everyone who lives inside that perimeter know that the Orphans now rule it, Ghostblade becomes aware of another presence nearby who seeks her attention.

A spirit, long dead, but bound in service to some powerful devil, grabs her hand. She struggles with it, trying to resist its pull and then to sever its connection with its master and control the spirit herself. However to do that she must sever it in the devil's presence.

Monger follows her through labyrinthine tunnels which end up somewhere under the city - she is sure that she could find it again, but Monger is lost. There, in a strange and disturbing room sits the Forgotten God, Throne of Judgement.

Cutting the chord joining the spirit to the Throne, she feels a deep chill in her bones and her fingers burn with frostbite. It insists that they gift a favour. They agree and hear of an impending funeral of the Strangford matriarch. They must intercept the funeral cortege and recover the coin from her mouth and bring it here.

They both know of the traditional Akorosi custom, placing coins in the mouths of the dead. It's a meaningless ritual and the coins are usually destroyed in the electroplasm of the crematorium (though the gold coins used by richer citizens end up in the Spirit Warden's coffers). This must be the family obligation Orlan had to abandon them for...

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Complications

Previous Session: Back to the Grind 
Fox the Operator has been trying to track down her missing solar panels, but in the meantime she's been having weird dreams about Dusk: in her dream she stole Dusk's new silver bracer, just to have something which has been touching her skin. When she wakes up she is actually wearing it!

Wire the Chopper is trying to get all of the new members of the gang on the same page. Mostly relaxing with a bit of light hazing. The new ones are getting some basic lessons on bike maintenance from Bull (Dask & Benny, T-Bone, Marlin, Sundown & Gritch). 

Fox goes to pick up those solar panels from TumTum's to deliver them to Purity. They're not there though, instead there's a note from Kim explaining that she's using them in Johnson's hacienda where she needs the spare power for her experiments. So Fox heads up there, with Brother (back to full health he reckons).

Kim the Savvyhead's new taser is progressing, and Johnson really wants to give it a real test. Kim explains that some restraint may be required (charge levels still not completely sorted), but it should be ready to go soon. Johnson finds Zero's situation and attitude hilarious.


Kim parks near the barn that's Kim's base of experimentation, and walks inside to speak to her. Dusk the Skinner spots them from the veranda of Johnson's house and wanders down (nursing her mojito) to have a quick chat with Brother, who's lounging by their truck. Brother is acting all awkward, who knows what Fox has been telling him.

Johnson comes out and shouts out to his crew that they're going on raiding. Dusk wonders where he's going and he laughs, telling her that he's going to rip Monk a new one. Monk is a nearby hacienda owner.
She tells him that's not going to happen, that he's not going to attack any haciendas and he looks confused, or maybe just incredulous. He rails against her, but when she quietly tells him
-I'm not telling you what to doo, you can make this decision all by yourself
He just replies curtly, like he's hurt and he doesn't understand what's happening
-Fine

His lieutenants are milling around, they haven't quite seen this kind of thing before. Johnson tries to regain his balance, telling them that they're heading south hunting scoundrels in the wastes (indicating up towards the foothills in Purity direction).


Wire is surprised when Red tells her that they're getting low on jingle; how fast can these bastards go through the jackpot they just had stripping the Circus bare! She looks at putting together a supply run for Watering Hole (specifically for the shopping list TumTum is working on for Purity). When Wire wonders where Dusk is, Sundown wonders who that is, and when Wire tells her she's like
-Oh, that skank-tacular girl?
There's obviously some twilight-related jealousy going on!
Wire take a few of her gang out to Johnson's.

***

Fox wanders over to Dusk, turning on the charm. Dusk is not impressed, to be honest she's moved on and is a bit tired of Fox's attitude towards her.
Dusk asks her about that shiny new silver bracer; it's disappeared and Fox admits that she took it. Dusk is even less impressed by her explanation of why, calling her a creep. Fox isn't giving it up, so Dusk grabs a nearby stave and climbs up to the rooftop of Kim's barn where the solar panels are. She raises it and threatens to smash them all.
Fox's solar panels are too precious to risk, she's got a lot of deals and pay-offs depending on them, so she dumps the bracer in the dust.

Wire arrives as Dusk climbs down from the barn. Wire recognises the dynamic from her past and intervenes to get in between the two, backing up Dusk. It looks like Fox is going to do something, but she hesitates and Brother drags her back to their truck.

Dusk and Wire talk about taking a trip, but Dusk isn't really interested in driving around with the gang on a raid, she reckons she'll head back to Watering Hole and get some work done. But looking at the nearby truck where Brother is talking Fox down she wonders
-Why do these assholes always act like they own you?
Dusk goes into the house to pack her stuff and Killer gives her a lift back to her place.


Kim is in one of Johnson's trucks, with Dustwich driving. There's very little small talk, but Dustwich is impressed by what he's seen of her new superweapon. They stop a little while later and Johnson tells them to stay put as he brings the rest of the gang off into the hills on foot.


Zero raises his eyes as Fox opens the door and enters the barn. He's aggravated and nervous as he asks her who's around. She tells him that no one else is, and he quickly realises that Kim has gone. He peers outside and then just walks away.

Fox and Brother are sticking around to keep an eye on the panels, but then they reckon they should just take them. As they move to disconnect the panels, a guard wanders over to them to wonder what the hell they're up to. Out of sight, Brother pulls out his pistol and screws the silencer onto it, holding it behind his back as he indicates to Fox that they should just kill this guy and get away.

Fox shakes her head at him and tries to talk the guard around to her side of this. But her reputation isn't quite as strong as she thought; he has heard of her, but only that she's untrustworthy. She doubles down with him, telling him that she's already cleared this with Johnson and he wouldn't like it if he delayed her.
He calls bullshit on that, lifting his shotgun to bear and telling them to get off the property right now! Fox goes for her weapon and yells
-They're mine! Fuck with me on this and we'll finish you!

Wire was still around, tinkering with her bike and chatting with the few gang members who came along for the ride. She cocks her shotgun to help out, and the sound spooks the guard, who shoot Brother in the chest with his double-barrelled shotgun. Fox kicks him to the ground and smashes his head with the pommel of her gun and he crumples.

Wire shouts to her lot to check their saddlebags for an Angel-kit, but some bastard must've nicked it. Jack, Brickhouse and Lou are bereft of ideas, they'll remember who it was for sure. Fox runs to the truck, under the seat there's a kit (say what you like, but she's prepared for the inevitable). They stabilise Brother, but there's bloody bandages strewn all over the place.

Guards from nearby come running, and somehow they don't wade in guns blazing; their guy is out cold, so without any real evidence to hold them they let Fox drive out with Brother alive (though without those damned panels!).

**

In the truck Dustwich can't really deal with Kim's manner and when she insists that they should pay attention to the perimeter he gets out of the cab and sits looking backwards as she scans forward, After a few hours of waiting around doing nothing, they get a squawk over the radio to say the expedition are coming back.
Johnson's gang has lost one, but returns with four heads and a bag of booty.

Johnson is beaming, ear to ear. He give Kim a big hug, lifting her off her feet
-We are going to make beautiful music together, my dear Kim!
Kim eyes up the heads, taking one. They're not Rum's Marauders.


Dusk sits down opposite TumTum at the bar, and gets him to pour her a whiskey. She wonders when his goon squad will be arriving from Jackson, and he goes all conspiratorial. He'll talk to her later about that, still very hush-hush. He's worrying about the shopping list, and has sent off a few messengers to go looking for the list.


Kim drives back to Johnson's place with the exuberant hunting party. As they enter the hacienda grounds, it looks like everyone's on high alert. He's a bit freaked out when she tunes the long-dead radio to a music channel (blaring The Girl from Ipanema). Kim picks up the head from the floor and sings directly to it. That's the final straw for Dustwich and he just abandons the truck at the gate and wanders down. A.T. comes up to drive her down the rest of the way.
The head is on the floor and the radio silent once A.T. approached, so he has no idea what's spooked poor Dustwich.

When Kim says she needs to give the solar panels back to Fox soon, he offers to buy them. She explains that she can't just take them. He yells out to Freddie
-Hey Freddie! If you steal something, what is it?
-Yours!
-I need to stay on Fox's good side until I have all the pieces (people and materiel) to just make them from scratch herself. Fox has contacts in Lopez
-Just tell me about the source, and I'll make sure the panels get back to Fox. Then, world domination!

*

Kim notices that Zero is gone. She reaches out for him, but he's out of range. She needs to find him and Johnson offers to send out search parties and she tells him to shoot to kill, just not in the head.

Dusk and TumTum are going into more detail about his plan. He's acting like he doesn't need the deal with Purity and he tells her that if push came to shove they'll be alright. Dusk pushes him cause she doesn't like the sound of that at all, saying she'll probably pick up sticks and find somewhere else if he's really going to do something so foolish. So he tells her; Jackson has a clean source of water. They're drinking it and not getting sick. She wonders if those not already affected by dirty water can drink it as well as Jackson's people, and TumTum points at himself. He drank it for a few days and didn't feel anything.

She says they'd better play it safe for now; the cost of switching might be chaos in the Valley. He nods; he's on her side as a right hand now that he knows what her intentions are.

Kim wanders her to speak to Dusk. She wonders if Dusk can call Zero, who's lost. Dusk isn't quite sure about it, but does it anyway. With her brain almost inevitably open to the Psychic Maelstrom, Kim sees the dreamcatchers on Dusk's body spread out down her body and onto the floor. Other people in the bar are walking over it, and it's sticky and viscous as they step on it. She sees a pulse spread out along the strands and Dusk calls Zero.

Kim goes outside and hunkers down with a view on the bar's entrance to wait for Zero. In the morning, she's woken up by the beeping on her tricorder. Zero's approaching and after another hour of waiting she goes out on the road to see where he is.


Dusk is working on Jesus' terrible tattoo. Dusk starts working on a giant tsunami on one half of his chest, the chaotic churn obliterates the writing in the 'I ❤ Bulldog', leaving only the ❤ floating on the wave. Jesus is in Found's cult so he's happy to share some gossip with her. Kobel has annexed some of their land, so there could be trouble brewing. They have to provide some hard bastards to defend Watering Hole, and they're the only two hard bastards they really have. Dusk'll try to convince TumTum to excuse them for a bit.


Zero comes walking down the road. He's dog tired and collapses in despair when he sees Kim waiting for him. Kim kills him using the kill switch and kicks his body into the ditch.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Devil's Advocate

 Previous Session: The Devil May Care
She's in Hell again. Lilith's triumphant voice tells her that she's coming back and that the erstwhile Infernal can't escape her forever. She's pulled away from that and in a weirdly realistic setting she sees dead and horribly mutilated bodies lying across the ground. It's freaking her out, and then she hears a growling monster behind her...

that wakes her up. Chloe the Vampire picks up her phone from the bedside locker. She needs some way to stop these dreams and she texts Sidney
~Hey ~I need a way of getting rid of these bad dreams I've been having
A few minutes later
~Try Xanax? ~Do you know what time it is?
~Oh, sorry ~I'll catch you tomorrow
Chloe spots the time, it's 3:47

The door opens into her bedroom. It's her mom, who heard her shout out in her sleep. Trying to figure out what she might have gathered from it, Chloe asks; and Miranda admits that she heard "Lilith!". When Chloe tells her that Lilith is trying to escape and she's been dreaming of her for a while, Miranda's really worried. She didn't think that would be possible. She offers to make her some hot cocoa, and Chloe wonders if she can make it with some O+. That kind of surprises her mom, but she does have a few bags squirrelled away (she still has contacts and sources apparently).


Wayne the Werewolf wakes up alongside Sidney as he hears the texting.
-Who was that?
-Just Chloe
He starts to dig a bit deeper, but Sidney tells him that she's asleep so he lets it go.


Aster the Chosen rushes his breakfast. barely saying "hi" to Miranda and Chloe. He texts Charley that they need to meet up before school, and they agree to miss their first homeroom slot and have coffee around the corner from school.

Miranda remarks to Chloe that he seems busy and pre-occupied this morning as the front door closes.
-You know, he's got...lions and tigers and bears to handle
-Oh my!


Victor the Minotaur sits on the only real piece of furniture in his otherwise empty single-room apartment. He leaves for school, but as soon as he gets outside he gets hit with a thrown brick. Behind him the leader of the monsters gang laughs
-Found ya punk!
-Oh man, and I haven't even had coffee yet!
Victor turns to see the rest of the gang there too and he wonders
-So, now what?
-I figure out how many ways I can kill you!
He lunges at Victor to capture him, but Victor runs for it and gets away from them after a short chase.


When they arrive in school, a surly Luke starts to join Omar and the rest of the nerd (well, werewolf) crowd. Chloe grabs him and tells him to sit with the 5x5s (the last remnant of non-supernatural in their homeroom). He's not impressed and joins them anyway. Chloe takes a deep breath
-I'll come visit you with a big vase of I-Told-You-So's

Aster's at the coffee shop well before Charley, he orders her a mocha (her usual) and starts drinking his cappuccino. She arrives and joins him
-There are way too many monsters at school. Frankly the humans are outnumbered in our class. We need to do something or else they'll be food bags. Let's start recruiting and group together. I think you're the person to lead them.
-Human boot camp?
-We don't want to see them become victims. Secrecy isn't going to work anymore.
-Just to play Devil's advocate for a moment, you could cause a panic
-If we just ignore the problem, it's only get worse
-You might be right.
Charley sighs
-I'll need you to do something for me. I'm concerned about what happened the other night with Victor, and also about Lucy...
-Pretty sure Lucy is not part of the humans only team
-I don't want to say anything against her, cause Lucy is so helpful...


Miss Yates is running them through Hamlet in AP English. She asks Chloe where Aster is and she tells the nervous teacher that Aster had an errand to run, but he said he would be in class. She's disapproving of this, but Aster and Charley arrive just then. Next time they'll be marked as tardy!

After class, Chloe and Wayne argue about Luke and what he did to the rest of them. Wayne dismisses her concerns
-You can't turn him into a werewolf, I can barely believe you've turned the others!
Wayne doesn't show any surprise at her knowledge of this
-They made their own decisions. If Luke wants to join us that's up to him, not you
-He's fifteen! Nothing's up to him
-Well he didn't appear to take your orders this morning

Leroy, fresh werewolf
Behind them, Jordan shoves past Leroy in the corridor, and Leroy takes real umbrage (instead of just keeping his head down as usual). He punches Jordan and the bigger boy goes down hard to the floor. The rest of the pack (as well as Luke) congratulate Leroy and Wayne is beaming with pride and joy. Darcy helps Jordan up to his feet, and then Liz Macintosh spots the kerfuffle.
She asks Chloe what happened, and she turns away from Wayne to wonder
-Does it look like anything happened?
(There may be some kind of eternal disagreement between werewolves and vampires, but she's not snitching to teachers!)
Liz breaks it up
-Leroy. You're going to have to see me after school. Go to the principal's office right now.
As he walks past Wayne, his pack-mate says supportively
-Remember, you didn't start that
and Leroy goes to Principal Washington with his head held high.


Victor spots Charley talking to Mia, who appears to be in full snooty mode.
-C'mon, you're not blind! You know there's a lot of shit going on
-Oh my god! Just keep me out of this!
and Mia starts to walk away
Victor grins at her hungrily
-She's right you know. A lot of people would eat you up, given a chance.
Like he's going to eat her, and not in some kind of metaphorical sense.
-You're a freak!
Maria is looking at Mia as she storms away, sure that the girl would be the easiest of prey.

Charley turns on Victor
-Really? God Victor! You ruined that!
-Fear is a strong motivator
-What happened after that bar-fight anyway?
-You got knocked out during the fight, and they dragged you off to their lair. I followed, got killed there and then Lucy saved the day. We got in over our heads, it happens.
He turns on a dime
-So, you on for tonight?
-I'm not so sure that's a good idea
-You and good ideas may not be a natural fit!
She smiles at that
-We're on, maybe tomorrow night though. But hold off on threatening people?
-If I don't threaten, then someone else will eat them

***

Aster is mustering the normals. The 5x5 table (Laura, Milton, Arthur, Hope & Thomas) along with Jordan and Ian. He's going to catch Luke after school, away from the watchful eye of the pack. Detective Mills has arranged to speak with him in a classroom Principal Washington has set aside for them. In the otherwise empty room, she opens a file for him.
He looks at the photos of dead bodies
-This is a problem. We've had them dropping like flies. Not just vampires, this is something else.

Aster fills a bowl of water, explaining to Mills that he can get some extra meaning through his divination. They have a pattern, symbols carved into them, by Abel and a few others who are dressed in robes and chanting for whatever bizarre ritual they are undertaking.
Asking what religion she is (Roman Catholic), he explains, drawing on the story of Cain and Abel.
-These five were killed as revenge for what happened to Abel thousands of years ago. He's the one in charge and he cam back from hell to exact revenge on his brother, who was cursed to live forever on this mortal plane. I'm trying to gather the remaining humans here so that they can protect themselves. Maybe you could join our meeting as an inspirational figure?
-I'll be there


Wayne is sitting with the rest of the pack. They're going to go out hunting tonight, even though some of them might not be able to turn fully. They're all super excited. Alice is caught up in that and wants to become one of them tonight as well. They're talking in code, not excluding Luke physically from them, but he doesn't really understand the import of what he's hearing. Wayne tells him
-You can come out with us, don't have to do what your sister tell you to. She's trying to keep you on a very short leash.
-I don't know why she doesn't like you

Alice, uber math nerd
Leroy can't make it, he's been suspended from school for the rest of the week. His parents are picking him up and they're so angry with him. Wayne shakes his head
-That's bullshit!
Alice is thinking seriously about the whole thing again
-I don't know about all this violence
-Well, Jordan got what he asked for
-You're right, I guess
And when she asks him for assurances that they're not going to attack anyone he gives it without any second thoughts.


Chloe sits down next to Sidney, apologising for the bad timing of her text in the middle of the night.
-I woke up from a terrible dream, and I just needed someone who I thought could stop them...Lilith has been sending me these nightmares from Hell and it's too much. I had thought that ignoring them might be enough, but we need to stop them entirely.
Chloe tells her the details of her dream, and Sidney shivers a little.
-I'll help, but how is she able to connect with you from where she is?
-Well, she had her claws pretty deep into me back then
-I'll think of some way to break that connection
Chloe thanks her and heads home


Victor and Charley have been flirting, and Liz Macintosh interrupts them to invite him for another session with her later
-Maybe tomorrow?
-OK so, see you tomorrow
He's a bit confused and catched up with her; she's not usually so easy to fob off
-Did you see Miss Carter yesterday?
-Oh yes. She's lovely, isn't she!
He'll get to the bottom of that another time.

**

At home, Aster talks to Luke before he heads out to meet up with Wayne.
-I'm going to tell you some things that'll surprise you. Just don't overreact?
-Sounds ominous
-Promise?
-Yeah sure. I won't freak out
-You know I'm your half brother, Mom had me with someone else before Chloe and you. But we're a lot more different that just that. The fairy tales are true, well at least they're based on reality. All those mythical things exist. I'm Fae, you mom used to be Fae. She was banished to this mortal realm. Chloe is a vampire, and so is Maria. Wayne and your buddies are werewolves. Things are pretty messed up
-You're insane!
Aster's casting around for something concrete to show Luke
-Like, when's the last time you saw me dye my hair? You haven't, because that's my true hair colour.
-You need to be locked up, cause that's crazy!
Luke, Chloe and Aster's
no-longer clueless brother
Aster leads him upstairs to Chloe's bedroom, and he pulls out the icebox she has under her bed. He takes the blood bags out.
-Now, why does your sister have Mr. Robert Paulson's blood under her bed?
-Chloe?
It's starting to dawn on him, and he's more than a little shocked
-You wonder why she's sleeping in. All those stares Maria gives you
-Holy shit!
-Sit down. Take a deep breath. We can do something about it, get you all together so you won't be feasted on one-by-one
-Leroy!
Leroy and Luke are pretty good friends.

Chloe arrives home and as she gets to the top of the stairs, she's bowled over by Luke.
-What's up with you?
-You died!
Chloe's confused, but it becomes clear what's happened when she sees Aster step out from her bedroom. Luke's looking at her fiercely, and on the edge of tears
-Why didn't you tell me!
Clambering to her feet she tries to explain
-I didn't tell you Wayne is a werewolf because I thought you'd see the prospect of getting turned into one as a good thing. Strong and fast and afraid of nothing. I didn't trust you.
-And mom's a Fae?
-Yeah, but I wouldn't bring it up. It's kind of painful to her that's she's pretty much just a normal mortal woman now. You know, like we don't bring up exactly how old she is.
Aster grins
-Though that might be because who really knows how old she was before she was banished here!
-Are there any more Fae around? Do we have more relatives out there?
-We kind of like to keep out heads down, especially after last year. I got banished here after I put my sister on the throne.
-Come one Luke, you must've noticed all the strangeness going on in the old school?
-Sure, but I didn't think it was anything like this.

Then a moment's pause
-Wait! Maria's a vampire too?
-Yeah. Like when I said she'd eat you up, I wasn't being metaphorical in a sexy way. Don't tell mom; she's already entirely down on Maria
Aster is helpful-ish
-And Mia's their blood bag
-That was just me, and that was only one time!
-Oh sis! Score!
-It's not like that either. Anyway, she's way outta my league!

Aster tells Luke about the group he's helping organise with Charley and Chloe looks surprised.
-Human coalition? I guess I'm on your side
-You're so cool Chloe, you're like Angel!
Chloe's not really comfortable with this level of admiration from her brother.  Aster adds one more piece of advice, before Luke's completely overwhelmed
-Don't let Sidney take anything personal of yours. She's a witch
Chloe needs to tell Aster something important, and she fills him in about the dreams and Lilith's intention to escape using these freakily murdered bodies. Aster is surprised, this is a level above what he thought was going on
-That's Abel


Victor hangs out with Charley for a while. Not back to his place, she has to stick around for this meeting with the others. But as he considers his options, she tells him that she'll need some kind of distraction away from all the seriousness. She pulls him into the janitor's closet.


Wayne leads the pack to hunt in the park, and they spread out to cover a wide area; he hears howls and growling as he quickly loses control. There's another werewolf in the park, this one is powerful and mature. It's feeding on someone it's just killed, and when Wayne lays eyes on it, it turns to menace him.

He howls to call in the rest of the pack (Alice is nearby, but having just been bitten, won't be able to join in yet). The big wolf lunges at Wayne and bites down hard. Despite his grounding, Leroy has joined them and rushes in to help Wayne out. The big wolf grabs Leroy and snaps his neck with one savage motion. The others are horrified as Leroy's death yelp rings in their ears, and Alice screams (she and Leroy were dating).

Wayne considers the bigger wolf, it's bloodied and he can't allow a bigger wolf to dominate the territory he's claiming. They all rush in, tearing him apart. Eddy loses it and rushes off. After catching his breath, Wayne leads the others off to track Eddy down before he gets in even more trouble. Soon, Eddy comes across Principal Washington on her way home and he charges her. Wayne catches up just in time to intervene, trying to get in between them. Eddy is too far gone and isn't paying attention to the pack dynamics at all. He tears out her throat...

*

Aster and Victor talk before the meeting; and Victor doesn't appear to be happy with the way things are going
-What the hell is going on?
-Things are getting worse. We need to gather allies. I want to support them, but Charley should be in charge. I'd like you to give a demo of what they're dealing with
-But you're going to get even more killed this way, people like us and mortals! You're war-mongering
-No, I want to show them that they can't kill easily. That if they try, or do what Leroy and the others did they can get killed
-They made that choice. If you're thinking of going public with this, then someone's got to speak for us
-I can't let humans get picked off anymore.
-I've seen too many people die. I don't want any more bloodshed. But there's a part of me that wants all that bloodshed anyway. Now, I guess I have to have my head chopped off.

Inside Aster starts the meeting, telling them that there are bad things out there that they might have gotten an inkling of previously. Introducing Detective Mills, she assures the, that the NYPD is looking out for humans in the city...


Horrified at Eddy's killing of Principal Washington, Wayne doesn't notice the SWAT team closing in until it's too late. Eddy goes down with a couple of tranquiliser darts in him, and Wayne gets in their way, in between them and the rest of the pack: Amanda Kelly and Omar have a chance to escape and he goes down in a haze as the SWAT team restrain him...


Aster asked Chloe to get Mia onside for the big meeting, so she heads over to Mia's place. She's around the corner when she thinks that just arriving at the front door might not be the best approach. So she texts her
~Can we meet up? ~Just to talk
~Are you going to bite me?
~Not even if you want me to ~How about that cafe near your place?
~Nowhere public!
~Your house?

Mia, class queen
When Chloe arrives barely a minute later, Mia's wondering how she got there so fast
-You know, Vampiric super speed.
-OK. Come on in
-I know Charley talked to you about this gathering, and I really think you should consider going. Obviously you've got vampires figured out, but not werewolves and demons and zombies and other weirder stuff
Mia's a bit frightened by the sound of all that
-So I think you need people to help you stay out of that kind of trouble, people who'll back you up when weird stuff goes down

Mia's not entirely convinced, but needs Chloe to promise that she's protect her as well. She'll go along to the meeting, and they have a few hours to kill beforehand. Chloe's surprised when Mia asks her to stick around for a few of the latest Housewives episodes. She just watched them with her mom, but Chloe sits on the couch and enjoys the company. Laughing ahead of all the funny bits she knows are coming, she gets a lot of popcorn thrown at her from Mia's end of the couch.

Chloe walks her to the meeting, and sits outside on a wall to wait for it to finish up.
She gets a text from Maria, wondering what she's up to
~I'm so bored!
~Busy tonight ~Catch you tomorrow?
~Busy with who?
~Mia
~Ooh! *wink*


In the meeting, Charley takes centre stage. Drawing a sword, she tells them that crucifixes and stakes will only get them so far. When you absolutely, positively gotta kill a monster; accept no substitutes. She decapitates Victor, and if the gathered crowd were horrified at that, it's nothing to what they feel when Victor stands back up, picks up his head and sets it on the table to address them.
-What my friends are trying to tell you is that while you're standing around horrified, I could have ripped into you by now. I'd be eating you alive. So try to stay on our good side.


Victor wonders about Liz Macintosh's sudden turnaround. The Abyss consumes his senses and he sees her visiting Emma, all smiles and greetings. Then the vision cuts out and he feels like something is watching him. Pain shoots through his body and he hears a voice in his head, laughing at him...

Wandering away after the meeting has broken up, he's not heading home, but in a dark alleyway somewhere the biker gang are waiting for him...

Saturday, 4 February 2017

The Devil May Care

Previous Session: The Devil in Disguise

Chloe the Vampire casts her mind back to the previous night. She, Maria and Darcy are sitting on the couch. Chloe is trying to frame the question to discover what Darcy knows when the girl just blurts out
-You're Vampires!
-We're not going to hurt you. We won't feed on you
-Unless you ask
Maria chimes in (helpfully), as if there's no way that's not going to happen!
Chloe reins in her friend
-We just want to be sure you won't tell anyone about us. Can we trust you?
Darcy gets up, assuring them she won't tell (but she's not exactly convincing) and then as she gets near the front door, she bolts and runs.

Chloe gets to her before Maria does, turning her around and then staring directly into her eyes.
-You're not going to tell anyone about this
But Darcy's obviously not affected and Maria steps in between them, showing Chloe how vampiric hypnotism really works.


Wayne the Werewolf and Sidney are at her place. He warns her about the vampires in class as she tends his wounds. She doesn't seem surprised by that revelation. When he kisses her she freezes though, and stops him after a short while (nicely). She writes
~It's late. I should get to bed. How about another day?
He shrugs and leaves her, as he walks back to his own apartment she enacts a ritual to bind him. Sidney wants to trust him, but she's been through a lot.


The next morning, Chloe has overslept again, and her mom rouses her by sweeping open the curtains (after telling her that she won't call her again!). Chloe protests, but dawn seems to be the worst time of the day for her now. Miranda's obviously trying very hard to connect with her daughter and she's fried up sweet potato cakes: Chloe's favourite. It tastes like dirt to her though, and she stops eating after a few mouthfuls. Aster the Chosen contents himself with fresh fruit, wishing he'd gone for oatmeal.

Their mom drives them to school with Luke, and as the younger boy bounds up the school steps ahead of them. Chloe and Aster pause at the bottom. Aster wonders how she's doing with Miranda, it doesn't seem easy at the moment.
-I just don't get her, she's acting like everything can go back to the way it was before
-I think she's still operating without real remorse, like a pure Fae
Chloe breathes. That would make sense, but it doesn't help her process the hurt. She looks at Aster's face, where his ruined and cloudy eye marrs his clean features. She raises a hand, not quite touching him
-About remorse. I never...I'm sorry about your eye. I don't think I was in a good place at the time.
Aster smiles
-Like I said. We're beyond remorse. We exact revenge and move on. I'd really like for things to be easy at home; Luke doesn't know who he's living with and that's going to cause trouble if things boil over. Why are you so unable to move on with her, when you're getting on with me ok?
-Well, I guess I understand where you were coming from. But for her, I just don't get it.
Chloe shakes her head in disbelief
-Does mom even know I'm a vampire?

Darcy is in at her locker in a haze. She's just bumping into the locker door muttering something about needing her books. Aster grabs her and is worried about her. He walks her to the nurse's office; she's not herself, she's not pestering him with questions. Walking backwards for a moment to catch Chloe's eye with a silent question, she shrugs; she's not putting two and two together yet on Darcy's condition.

Mia is snorting at the state of Darcy.
-Looks like she's had a few too many fruit loops
Chloe thinks this could be a new designer drug she's not heard of and Mia laughs
-Why am I even talking to you!
-I'm a fixer upper?

Maria, wild vampire
and Chloe's best friend
Maria walks in. Not her usual strut, she looks rough and very low key with big-ass shades covering her eyes. She tells Chloe about her werewolf problem last night, and Chloe remarks that it can't be very smart to take people into the park; werewolves like to keep their territory to themselves. Maria snidely points out that she's a lot better at this vampire stuff than Chloe is.
Suddenly she raises her shades and exclaims
-I smell it. It's here in this school!
Chloe gazes into the Abyss, looking for a clue as to the werewolf's identity and she gets a clear vision of Maria's fight with the wolf, and then finally to its transformation into Wayne in front of Sidney.


Victor the Minotaur awakens. Someone is patting his cheek and Victor lunges at the person. His arms are restrained, but his teeth snap at nothing. He gets pushes back by Lucy.
-Shh! They're all sleeping.
Victor looks around. The eight or nine bikers are all sleeping or passed out, and Charley is tied up in a chair against the opposite wall to his radiator.
-You got Charley into trouble
-She got herself into trouble
Lucy gives him a look
-You need to think about what you did.
She frees Charley and lifts her onto her shoulder as if the amazon were as light as a feather. Victor stops her
-Tell her she did good
-Of course she did! It's Charley, she kicks ass!

Victor stretches as far as he can, to deliver a kick to the nearest biker. If the behemoth of a man is not impressed by the kick, he's even more disgruntled at Victor's opening line
-Hey shithead! I'm bored. Who's in charge around here?
-I am, you little runt
-You made a bit show back in the bar, but you didn't get your hands dirty at all. Bet you can't take me on without your mates...
Victor pushes more, that wasn't nearly mean enough
-...Don't know what you did to lead these guys. I've seen them fight but not you. Any of them could be the alpha if they wanted to.

The guy lifts Victor up effortlessly and draws a large knife, cutting the ropes, but before Victor can do anything, he cuts him deep from groin to grin. Victor drops to the floor, bleeding out quickly. The biker-gang leader opens a bottle of hard liquor and drains it, chucking the glass bottle to hit the dying Victor.

****

Waiting for the nurse, Aster interrogates Darcy, who's looking intently at him.
-I'm fine...Your hair is blue...I was hanging out with Wayne, showing him around, but he's into Sidney...so I was bored and I do what I always do when I'm bored...I visit people who I think are bored...like Maria who lives alone
Eventually, Aster has to ask specifically if she visited individual people, and to every question except Maria she answers 'No'
The nurse is pretty uncooperative, unless there's something obviously and medically wrong with someone, she doesn't want to know. Darcy doesn't want to stay there so the nurse shrugs and says that this is above her pay grade. Darcy insists that she has to meet Maria for lunch so she can't go home.

In math class, Principal Washington is delving into the horrors of calculus. Chloe is in the middle of doing the first problem on the whiteboard when Aster leads Darcy into the classroom and to her chair. Chloe's not too bad, she makes a few minor errors which Washington corrects without much fanfare. The principal asks for a volunteer for the next problem, and when she calls on Darcy, the girl is completely unaware of what's going on. Aster explains the situation, and Washington gives them a suspicious look: Darcy's usually pretty good at this kind of stuff. When Wayne gets calls up, he's less than impressive, making some hideous mistakes.
After class, with Aster explaining Darcy's state in detail to Principal Washington, Darcy walks out and in her distraction bumps into Liz Macintosh.

Chloe speaks to Maria outside in the corridor.
-What the hell did you do to her? You were supposed to be good at this. What use is it if she just draws attention to us? You have to fix her, drop the hypnosis
-Leave me out of it. I don't want to fry what's left of her brain.
and Maria shuffles to her next class.

Chloe grabs Aster's eye and explains what happened the previous night. He's not happy obviously (does this count as high on his chart of aberrant supernatural behaviour?) but doesn't want Darcy to get any worse. Chloe tells him
-If you're not willing to take anything worse than a zero-risk option, then we can't help her.


A confused Charley enters the school behind Lucy. Aster is concerned (who knew being in his scooby gang would be so dangerous!) and Lucy explains
-Victor got Charley in trouble, but I fixed it!
Charley's obviously still hungover, and Aster gets her to drink a load of water (and to refill her bottle). The last thing she remembers is the barfight with the bikers. On the way past Maria, she lifts the sunglasses off her head and puts them on. Maria's a little indignant, but after taking one look/sniff tells Charley she needs them more than her
-Just give them back later, right?


Sidney, traumatised witch
 and Wayne's paramour
Wayne and Sidney exchange glances. Omar is rolling his eyes as he translates for her (painfully). Wayne finds Omar's beta routine pretty funny.
-We should hang out after school
Omar gets Sidney's response, but just 'Eww!' and he gets up as Sidney starts laughing
-Not in my job description! I'm just here for your classes!
Sidney moves over next to Wayne and kisses him gently
-I did something. I cast a spell on you
-What kind of spell?
-It binds you. So you can't hurt anyone. I'm sorry. It's very difficult for me to trust you, or anyone.

Wayne pushes up against the binding spell. He wants to get her to undo the spell and there's anger in his eyes. She runs away, and behind her, he start throws things around the corridor and then punches his locker, hurting himself in the process.
Miss Yates, their AP English teacher intervenes.
-What are you doing Wayne? This is unacceptable! Go to Principal Washington's office now. When he gets there, he sees Liz Macintosh talking to her about Darcy (they reckon it must be drugs).

Washington brings Wayne inside her office.
-Well Mr. Lawrence, what is it today?
-Miss Yates just told me to come down here...
She gives him an incredulous look
-...I punched a locker
-That would do it. Why were you so angry?
Wayne stares off to one side and says nothing
-You're already getting detention. If you don't talk, you'll be dealing with a more severe punishment.
-I had an argument with Sidney
-I see. Girl troubles. Detention today will suffice. I'll speak to Miss Yates in case anything else needs to be done. I'm also recommending you see Miss Macintosh.
She writes out a note, specifying an appointment with the school counsellor for after school

***

Victor wakes up. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees a small present. Wrapped in pink and green sparkly wrapping paper with a properly curled ribbon tied around it. He stuffs his guts back inside his body and pulls down his (mostly intact) shirt. One of the bikers is making coffee, but he's oblivious to Victor's movements. Victor opens the present, with a label marked 'To Caine': inside is a purple leather book, inscribed in the otherwise blank book is inscribed 'Feelings Journal'. He leaves as quietly as possible and legs it back to school.


At lunch, Chloe gives Maria her personal responsibility speech. Maria's kind of horrified when Chloe calls Aster over to join them (Darcy is with them of course!). But Maria says she'll try to reverse the hypnosis.
She stares into Darcy's eyes and tells her to ignore everything she said the night before and almost immediately the veil passes from Darcy's eyes. She scrambles back, panicked.

Aster goes after her, but she running and he doesn't catch up with her until they're outside the school. She's collapsed by the wall, a horrified look on her face. Aster calmly settles down beside her
-Hey. Take a deep breath. Be calm.
-I can't be calm!
-Tell me what's going on
-Chloe and Maria are vampires! They're going to eat me!
-They won't eat you. They're not going to eat you
-Maybe you're a vampire too!
-No. I'll keep them from eating you, I promise
-That's what you would say if you were a vampire
Aster tries a different tack
-I'm here to protect people like you from people like them
-Great job! A-fucking plus so far!
-They're why I was trying to get you to stop investigating
-People have to know!

New York's finest
Detective Mills
Aster can't convince her and she crosses the street and heads into the city. He turns to find Detective Mills staring at him from only a few metres away.
-Finally! Someone's giving me straight answers around here
Aster's unsure how to proceed, but then he draws her into a constant bargain with him.
-What do you want to know?
-Vampires huh? There's a lot of stuff to be held accountable for. If these vampires are responsible. We found Cameron's bones on your old school grounds and I need your help.
-I'll answer your questions, but you're going to owe me in the future.

So he answers her barrage of questions; about the murder cabin, his arsenal cave, where they might find Brie's head (inside the pond). The list is long, and he hopes he's giving her a warning in the subtext of his answers that she should probably not mess around in all this.

She tells him that the vampires aren't just in his school. They're all over the city. She wonders if she can arrest them and he laughs
-That's not going to help!
-Well, if you need backup in your efforts
She gives him her card and then a badge; telling Aster that he's been deputised. (I thought that sort of thing only worked on 12-year olds?)


Maria talks to Chloe about the repercussions of Darcy's freak-out.
-Maybe I'll have to go on the lam. You would find it so easy, with your connections.
Chloe reckons that nothing's going to happen. Who'll believe Darcy when she tells people they're vampires?
-Anyway, mostly I'm worried about Darcy, and if she'll be ok after this

Mia wanders by, wondering what's up with Darcy. Maria has that look of hunger on her face, and Chloe waves her back to her seat.
-Let me try again
She follows Mia into the bathroom, leaning up against the door when Mia notices her. Chloe's fangs slowly descend into place as she thinks of feeding.
-Come on. You enjoyed it the first time. You know you want to...
Mia has a look of scorn on her face
-I think that's you projecting
and she walks out. Chloe doesn't stop her or follow; she's feeling completely shut down.


Wayne sits down with his (legitimately bought) lunch alongside the nerdy kids. They make to get up and move away, but he waves them back down.
-Aren't you sick of all these people walking all over you?
Luke challenges him
-You mean like you?
-Yeah, me and everyone else
Omar considers Wayne
-I guess you could say that's just the natural order of things. You make our life hell for four years, and in twenty years or so, we turn the tables
-Maybe the others aren't interesting in hell for that long?
One of the others wonders how
-I have a way out of you being pathetic weaklings
-So, we're hiring you for protection?
-No. I want you to work for me. If they fuck with you, they'll answer to me.
Wayne is planning to turn them all into werewolves, but he can't say that here and now
-I can't explain how, but if you meet me later tonight in the park I'll show you all

He's definitely got their attention. Amanda and Omar seem the most intrigued. Sidney catches a little of the conversation and calls Omar over. They're signing quietly and Sidney's frowning at what Omar's saying to her.

She heads off to look for Aster. She explains that they have a big problem.
-Wayne is dangerous and recruiting
-It's just talk. They're not going to actually do it
-You'd better come armed and prepared

**

Victor tracks down Charley. She's still a bit hungover and is drinking a large coffee alone. She's surprised to see him
-I was worried about you, but then...well Aster told me about you...I don't even know how I got away. Lucy is giggling with Alice, the math geek behind them.
Victor sits down
-I don't say this a lot. I'm sorry about how shit went down last night
-Thanks. I'll process that when my head stops ringing.
-How about tomorrow, we can hang out?

Aster heads over to his arsenal to pick up a bag of werewolf-hunting weapons, including silver-reinforced manacles and chains. He sends a text to Lucy to meet him for a showdown with Wayne.

Victor interrupts Lucy and Alice (agreeing excitedly on who's the best in One Direction). He shows Lucy the book she left him
-My name's Victor. Who told you different
-Now, sure. But not always.
-I appreciate what you've done for me and the team. Just trying to figure out who's dragging my name through the mud
-You do that all by yourself sometimes
-Listen Lucy. I don't care where you got this idea from. It's Victor
As he walks away, Lucy turns back to Alice
-People get so funny about names!

After a boring and compliant detention, Wayne heads to Liz Macintosh's office for some counselling.
-So Wayne, I heard you had a hard day today. My goodness! That locker has a big dent in it. You're quite strong. You need to be mindful of that. Tell me about Sidney.
-I thought we were friends. We got into an argument, not really something we can talk about
-Let's talk about anger so. What do you do when you're angry?
-I throw things and I punch lockers
Wayne's response is somewhere in between a dull non-answer and a question
-That's not acceptable Wayne.
-Well it's better than punching somebody
-Well, we know you have a history of threatening people. Like yesterday with Luke? Think about what else you could do, maybe we could find an exercise regiment that funnels that energy.

They go through some mental routines and coping mechanisms. Anger management 101.
As Wayne's leaving, Victor is waiting for his appointment. They eye each other cautiously as they pass. Is this wariness or mutual respect?

-Victor, let me get my notes. I want us to consider how you don't feel responsible for his grievances. Let's try an exercise where you pretend you're him. I'll be you.
-I've got no idea what's going on in his head
-That you hurt him and weren't sorry?
-That's very vague. I want someone to talk to you about this, but it's complicated. I'm not the best one to bring you up to speed. My old English teacher; she fulfilled a counselling role informally with me. Maybe you could speak to her?
He gives her Emma's number and as he gets up to leave he tells her
-You have this thing where you break it to people gently that your requests aren't just requests. Don't be afraid of ordering people around.
She's taken aback by this bold approach.

Liz Macintosh is really, really fond of apple motifs
Chloe finds herself face to face with Sidney. She's surprised; she hasn't really talked to Sidney since the night the gate to Hell was opened. She feels like she's one of the main reasons Sidney is so traumatised and paranoid.
Sidney tells her what Wayne is up to, and Chloe is definitely surprised that Luke was in that group (firstly that he's a nerd, secondly that Wayne is ignoring their demarcation agreement).
-Well, I guess I have to go talk to him
-Are you crazy?
-Why, what was your plan to deal with this?
-I was going to stay the hell away from it! You're a terrible vampire if you think you can go toe-to-toe with a werewolf
-That's what people say. Anyway, I thought if Aster was going at him, he could use your witchy powers to back him up?
-I've already done a binding spell on him
-Oh wait. Like before this happened?
Sidney nods
-Oh perfect! You thought you'd try to tie down a werewolf, and now you're surprised that he's gone off the rails trying to out-alpha everyone? Gold-fucking stupid-star for you!
-He wanted me, but I wasn't sure if I could trust him with werewolf snuggles
-Listen, werewolves give the best snuggles...
Chloe's smiling despite the painful memories
-...and they're really good in the sack!
Sidney walks away, not particularly happy with where this conversation has gone. She tosses back a scrunched up note, which Chloe doesn't even bother to read before ditching in the bin.


Lucy interrupts Aster as he assembles his werewolf-defeating kit. She's really sneaky.
-Thought you might want some help. Whatcha doing?
-Capturing a werewolf
-Did Wayne do something naughty?
-He's going to turn people into werewolves
-Well, if they want to be werewolves...
-Luke definitely doesn't know what he's getting into
Packing up and on the way to the park, they have a rambling conversation about how Charley is, and how the feelings journal isn't going to get much use, and maybe the best way to find out what he's really feeling would be if Victor and Charley just talked.


Chloe goes straight home. She wants to catch Luke before he goes to the park to meet up with Wayne. She tells him that he is forbidden to go there. She's not explaining why it's a bad idea, just channelling her inner mom. He scoffs and is walking out. Chloe shouts at him
-If you go out there...My girlfriend got involved in stuff like this and it killed her! You're going to come back in a coffin!
-You've been such a bitch lately
and he turns back towards the open door, where their mom is standing.
-Luke. Go to your room right now. You are not allowed out.
Then Miranda turns to her daughter
-Chloe, can we talk?
Chloe is caught, too emotionally vulnerable from her outburst at Luke to struggle and they sit down together on the couch in the den.

*

Wayne meets up with the nerd brigade in the park. There are a few others in addition to Omar, Amanda and Alice. He leads them into a secluded place well away from prying eyes. They're wondering what's going on, but he assures them that he'll have to show them. They're all wary, but with their numbers and in a relatively public place, they reckon they're safe.

In the clearing, he strains to break the binding spell, and that leaves him drained.
-Listen. This will freak you out, but I'm not going to hurt you
He transforms into a wolf in front of their eyes. They're shocked, they weren't prepared for that, and they back off. Then he turns back
-The fuck! How can you do that?
He looks up at the moon shining above.
-You guys can put two and two together? My power comes when I'm a wolf mostly, but some of that strength passes over when I'm back like this.
Amanda's excited
-You're offering to turn us into werewolves? I'm in!
Omar is quiet, and obviously considering the possibilities
-This makes a lot of sense.
-I wasn't much bigger that this kid when I was bitten last year.

Omar, Sidney's interpreter
and leading class nerd
They exchange some glances, and their consensus is that they don't want to be beholden to him. He assures them that he won't be in charge of everything. They won't have to do menial chores for him, and they'll be a part of the decision-making process.
-I don't get to put you down. There are some rules; we don't hunt normal people, only predators. No going off and losing it, or taking it out on a bully just because you can.
They all seem to be on board, and he transforms back into a wolf so that he can bite each of them on their forearms.

Aster steps into the clearing as he begins the transformation, dropping his heavy gym bag and drawing his sword. Wayne steps in between him and the others.
Amanda tells Aster
-We know what we're doing
and one of the other nerds exclaims
-This is so cool!
Aster speaks to them all
-You will die if you do this!
-You're going to kill us?
-No. This process doesn't always work. And being like this isn't safe, you'll be hunted. You'll be unpaid volunteers in a dangerous war for the rest of your life

Wayne argues back
-They're already in danger. This gives them a fighting chance.
Omar joins in
-Look at what happened at your old school!
Aster's losing control of this conversation now
-One of the first people to die at that school was a werewolf! If this is what you want, you don't need me to protect you. You can fight your own battles in the future.
Lucy pokes her head around from behind Aster and points at Wayne
-and you! Stop being so grumpy, mister grumpy-pants!

Wayne turns around to the others.
-He's not wrong. It'll be dangerous. This isn't a cool hangout club. If you're not down for this, you'd better walk.
They all line up, but Alice is nervous and Wayne asks her if she's sure.
-What if this affects our families? It doesn't make any scientific sense! How does this affect our brains, and reproduction and... Maybe after I see how it goes with them, I can make a decision.

After biting each of the others, Wayne sends them all home to rest.


Miranda asks Chloe why they can't seem to get along anymore, they used to be so close.
-I remember when we had that conversation in the car on the way to Oberon's. I was so scared but I was so happy because I knew how much you loved me. But then when Aster showed up, you just pointed him at me and let him try to kill me.
-I made a mistake
-A mistake! That makes no sense!
-What would you have done to stop Oberon?
-He was just going to take over his kingdom again and that would be that!
-You didn't understand him like I did. He was power-hungry and manipulative. He wouldn't have stopped at the borders of his kingdom. I had to make sacrifices to try to stop him
Chloe slumps
-It's not like I didn't make sacrifices to stop Lilith when it came to that, but...
-I thought I'd already lost you. I was wrong, I will always love you! I will try to be better, if you'll accept that?
Chloe nods and Miranda hugs her suddenly and fiercely. Her arms are trapped by her side and then her mom pulls back a bit to ask her

Miranda, Chloe's mom
(and Luke's and Aster's).
Ex-Faery Queen Consort
-Now Chloe. Are you gay?
-That's the least of it
She tells her mom of how she fell in love with Emily, and how she was killed in the chaotic conflict surrounding Oberon's bid for freedom. Chloe thought this would be much more difficult, but supposes that she did some of the hard bit blurting out the details when yelling at Luke.
-Also, I'm a vampire
-You're what! How did that happen?
Miranda begins looking at Chloe's face, and opens her mouth to look at her canines
-Mom! Get away from me! I liked it better when you were just curious about me being gay. And that's why it's so difficult in the mornings, especially when you just open the curtains without any warning!
-OK. I guess we could try homeschooling, and then next year when you go to college, you can take night classes. We need to talk about Maria as well. I don't like the bad influence that girl is having on you

Chloe sighs, she can't have this many difficult conversation in one go, and Miranda reads that and moves on
-But I'm so glad we're talking
The next hug is less awkward, and they settle in to watch some terrible TV and make fun of the characters' terrible life choices.


Victor is texting Lucy
~Hey poopy pants ~Aster's upset ~Those bikers are looking for you
~Avengers assemble! ~Let's clear out that demon nest
~Charley hurt them first ~I'll have to think about it
~What's to think about ~They're dangerous monsters
~You are too
~I haven't killed and eaten anyone recently ~They killed me and they didn't know about my gift
~True ~I have a bag of Aster's stuff!

Aster is frustrated at his failure. He heads off to Darcy to give her the lowdown on everything. She opens the door in her PJs, frowning at him.
-You're practically the only mortal left in class
-By all means, terrify me further!
-You can help me figure out how to defend people like you
-OK superhero. We can't. There's no way to protect ourselves from them.
Gazing into the Abyss, and talking to Darcy for hours, they figure out that using Charley's strength and leadership they can muster unity amongst the remaining mortals to protect themselves, despite the usual cliques. Darcy plans her supernatural gazette!

Wayne texts Sidney that they need to talk, and they arrange to meet in Starbucks in ten minutes.
-Your spell isn't working anymore. I wasn't going to hurt you
-Sorry, I just got scared.
-It could've gotten me killed. That why I was angry. Could you do that kind of thing again?
-Sure, I just need something important of theirs
-I'll get on that
Sidney narrows her eyes
-Who do you want me to do this to?
-We'll see who needs it. There are vampires around, let's start with them
-I'd rather get involved as little as possible
-I'll only ask if it's really important
-Sorry
-I'm still made about what you did, but I think I can let it go

They squeeze hands under the table.
-I trust you
They go back to her place for the night.

Next Session: Devil's Advocate

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Back to the Grind

Previous Session: Not so Pure

Heading back towards Watering Hole, Kim the Savvyhead has asked Dusk the Skinner to stick around with her for a while. They stop in the foothills at the site of the ambush.

Kim taps into the Psychic Maelstrom to send an invitation out to Rum, the leader of the Marauders who raid any who travel on the road to Purity. Rum is addressing his warriors around the fire, when he becomes aware of her presence behind him. He hisses at her but then he hears something else...

...Dusk has just whispered his name into the Maelstrom and he feels the need to go to her. He brings the remaining half-dozen of his gang down to meet them and they appear over the hill in less than an hour. He's adopted his full regalia for this appearance, with leather armour, a large skull helmet and painted skin.

With Dusk nearby for support, and Dremmer up top in the gun-truck for backup, Kim negotiates a deal to allow her to pass up and down to Purity for her clinics there. She offers them repairs for their weapons and vehicles in return: proving she can do it when one of his gang hands over a shotgun that's badly jammed.

Dusk is eyeing them up, they're a rag-tag bunch, and despite some malnourishment they're obviously getting clean water. Looking at Rum cutting a deal with Kim, she reckons that he's probably going to gut her after a while; after he thinks he's gotten enough out of her, and just take her van.


When they get back to Watering Hole, TumTum is still not back. Wanger looks upset inside the bar, some of the furniture has been smashed up and he tells Dusk that Ollie's hacienda crew were responsible. Out back, Navarre's gone too, as are the pair of guards TumTum left to keep an eye on him.

Ripper and Kim work out a deal for her clinic up at Purity. Kim tells the doctor about this new lurgy and hires her to come and take a look, just in case it's really serious. She also lets slip that they wanted to buy a doctor outright, but Dusk wouldn't allow it.

Kim goes to work fixing her taser (just 4 or 5 hours work) before she realises she's completely forgotten about Zero (the name she's calling the dying guy she kept alive from the Circus for her experiments). She rents a shed from Shady to keep him in, hooking him up for a blood-pumper (powered by a roof-top solar panel, one that looks suspiciously like one from Fox's stash).

Dusk has a few tattoo appointments lined up, the scuttlebutt on TumTum's absence is all over the map, but when she spots his favourite bottle of whiskey still opened on the top shelf of the bar she knows he's planning to come back.

T-Bone, a new Purity recruit into Wire's gang wants a solid tattoo; he's feeling happy and ambitious. But she talks him out of a flaming skull (too many of those floating around). Instead he gets a stark wolfshead on his chest, with flaming nostrils. While she's at work, he spills some gossip about the lurgy. Apparently people starting getting sick down in the lower levels a month or so ago. No one likes talking about it (at least Pierre didn't want anyone talking abou it). Doc Robinson died early on from it too, so that's why they needed a doctor.

**

TumTum appears a while later. He's got a couple of pick-ups and his guards. He walks into the bar, strutting like he's got aces in the hole. Dusk wonders where the hell he's been (maybe talking to the refugees from Logger?) but he grins and shakes his head telling her that the haciendas won't be happy with the deal he's just made.
Dusk isn't shaken off that easily and insists that he tell her where Navarre is; and he knows that look on her face and tells her straight-up. He took Navarre up to where Jackson and a bunch of Scum were camped out. He's hiring them on for muscle.

News is coming in from a bunch of haciendas, the ones which've just lost their leaders are in some kind of unrest. There's rioting in Ebb's old place and there are reports of raids, including a big one on Johnson's.

Kim checks in on Zero: he's doing well and she assesses the experiment as being successful so far, albeit that he's not very healthy. She wants to do a field test; so she brings him out of sedation. He's in shock and she gently tells him that she saved him after he got shot and has nursed him back from the brink of death.
He is overcome remembering the horrors of that firefight, and he just wants to leave to get back to his people. He's not pleased when he finds implants at the back of his skull, and Kim tells him what they do: force compliance with her orders, prevent him from harming her and cause a teeny tiny explosion in his brain if he should somehow overcome those inhibitions. 
(she's taking careful notes: "And remember, this is for posterity so be honest. How do you feel?")


Johnson comes to visit Dusk (like he promised her) and has some ideas for a tattoo. Considering the aggressive and powerful hacienda owner, Dusk knows what'd be most fitting. He's got thick black gelled-back hair and she takes out a set of hair clippers, and he looks nervous. 
-I'm going to make you a shark, fierce and dangerous, so that no one can mistake you for anything else!
If anything, he looks even more nervous. So she calls in A.T. to placate him, asking him if a terrifying killing machine that won't stop for nothin' isn't the perfect way to think of his boss. A.T. is out of his depth, but nods cause that sounds like a good thing to him. Dusk turns around as the door closes behind her
-Sit down
She pushes him into the chair, and Johnson kind of likes that, even if he could never admit it.
The tattoo covers his head, with a wavy sharkskin pattern on the top and back of his head, and the viciously sharp teeth coming down out of his hairline and up out of his jaw. 

The conversation turns to her own tattoos, and she tries to brush him off. Telling him that they're special and she's not sure he can handle them. That only makes him want something like them more. She tells him that it's not for the faint-hearted. It'll require tattooing with the hammer, old-style, like her mentor, Midnight (the Witch King), did for her in the Witch Lands far to the north. Using essence of the serenity flower in the ink, she adds fine detail to each of the teeth: now there's an innate connection between the tattoo and the Maelstrom, and now there's an eerie, menacing quality to the tattoo.


*

Kim is feeding Zero something horrible like mashed turnip. She's happy squatting in the darkness of the ramshackle shed talking nonsense as he eats off the spoon she zooms into his mouth every so often. She even unveils her form in the Maelstrom, and he's horrified as he realises that the pink tentacles monster in front of him is in fact her. His form is much more primal, a wounded jackal who stares with cold malevolence.

A few days later, Johnson comes back to visit Dusk again. This time with Killer in tow. It's his gift to her, he'll make sure nothing happens to her. She's dubious, and quickly establishes that he still works for Johnson and not her, so she refuses. He's desperately looking for something to gift her, and she wonders if co-ownership of the Hacienda is on the table. He's hungry, but unsure and she pushes him back to the chair again, waving Killer out of the room.

When they're finished, he asks her if she'll visit the hacienda soon and she nods. Johnson leaves, and when she enters the bar, everyone there knows and she buys a round for the house with the proceeds from his shark tattoo.


At the hacienda, Johnson has been bolstering his defences, they've been raided by savages from the hills (probably Rum and his Marauders). Kim is continuing her experiments with the new taser there on site. There are some successes, some explosions and some fatal mishaps.

When Dusk arrives, she suggests that maybe she should try shooting at rocks and not people, at least until she irons out all the basic kinks.

Dusk is treated to cocktails on the veranda, but she insists on staying in separate rooms and on returning to Watering Hole after a few days.

Next Session: Complications