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Thursday, 16 March 2017

Bigger Ambitions

Previous Session: Big Plans

Wire the Chopper wakes up groggily after a raucous party at Watering Hole. She's tied to a chair and surrounded by 4 tough guys with pipes. AT and Freddie come in with pliers and a hammer. This is Johnson's payback for that happened to Mad Bill (who Fox kicked in the back in that fight over the solar panels at the hacienda). He's wheeled in, he can't walk and it looks like he's had a stroke as well. Wire doesn't buy her way out of trouble, or promise Johnson anything so they take it out of her in blood and pain. They dump her on Ripper's doorstep when they're done.

Kim the Savvyhead is still holding her clinic at Purity. Word back is that no one's gotten sick and then gotten better again. So they start hunting for people who've been in contact with the sick, but never gotten ill at all.

Dusk the Skinner is making a list of those she thinks they can trust with their plans in the haciendas and checking it twice. She's not going to approach anyone now, can't risk word getting out so she relies and her and TumTum's knowledge of the people instead. She's so busy that she doesn't notice for a while that business is pretty quiet, she's not gotten any people looking for ink. Outside she gets a frosty look from Tinkerbell, who won't even talk to her when she calls out.

Then Dustwich's van pulls up and dumps Wire off. Dusk helps her to her feet and into Ripper for some medical attention. "Fucking Fox!" is all the Chopper says when Dusk wonders why the hell Johnson's guys beat her up like that.


While Ripper stitches Wire up, she tells Dusk that people around have been a bit weirded out by her lately. When Wire is kinda mobile again, Dusk tells her where she sent the gang, and they chat about Wire's plans to take Purity from Pierre's grasp.

In the bar, TumTum is looking antsy, he can't find Putrid anywhere and he's got places to be. Dusk offers to cover at the bar (she knows how things work in the bar).


Kim's investigations into how to fight the disease are going well, at least until the shooting begins. There's screaming from someone right outside her van and she climbs out in her full biohazard gear, annoyed at the interruption. The Purity people are scrambling to get on the bus while others shoot down from the gallery. There are raiders moving quickly from cover to cover along both sides of the road (ignoring Kim).

The raiders shoot and catch more than a few of those fleeing and ransack everything that's not nailed down. Kim comes across one badly wounded person; who she's sure she can save. Opening her brain she heals the woman with just a simple touch, and this freaks out the survivor as the gaping bullet wounds close seamlessly.

Rum's raider withdraw with plenty of booty (after Kim relays that the people of Purity are feeling poorly) and Jayne (the woman she saved) sits up from underneath the tarpaulin Kim dragged over her face. In payment Kim gets her ancient casio calculator watch,

**

Wire sits near bar chatting with Dusk, wondering where she's going to get a resupply of ammo, especially if her gang are getting involved in some counter-raiding over at Found's hacienda.

Two wiry toughs walk in, dusty from the road. Dusk recognises them after a moment; D and Martinez work as guns/messengers for Lopez. They're confused when she greets them by name, and it takes a whole lot of prompting for them to remember her (to be honest, that's off-putting for Dusk - surely no one could forget her!).

D notices Wire and sidles up to her, looking for a bit of attention. Dusk tells him to back off, raising her sawn-off from underneath the bar. That gets their attention and D walks back to the bar, trying to shrug it off, but it's clear neither of them expected to come within a hair trigger of death in here.

They're looking for Fox, have a message for her - she owes Lopez a load of jingle. The boss doesn't like leaving debts outstanding, no matter how dependable someone's been in the past. Dusk and Wire exchange glances, they can probably live with themselves pointing them in Fox's direction. Dusk tells them that she'll be back as some of her people are still here, so she'll hardly go too far for too long.

Anyway, they're wondering when market day is, they have a shopping list for Lopez - mostly ammo (high calibre stuff) and liquid soap (?). Wire is suspicious, she reckons they're just trying to find out who has ammo to trade and then they'll just ambush them to take whatever they've got.


Dusk calls in Dremmer to talk ammo-shop with them - they're a bit intimidated by his collection of weaponry (especially his lovely grenades!). She pours Martinez a drink and they start talking about tattoos - no one in Lopez really does them, it's a Valley thing. Dusk convinces him that if he returns to Lopez with some ace tattoos (the kind only she can give him) Lopez will be hella impressed.

He relents after a while, and in the back she gives him Lopez' tag (the symbol he puts on his stuff) on one shoulder and a white angel wing going all the way down his other arm. He's really impressed and promises to represent her interests in Lopez when he returns.


Kim asks Jayne to go get Pierre for her and the woman, incredibly impressed with the Savvyhead's abilities (weird or not) rushes off to Purity. She wants Pierre to get blood samples from everyone in Purity. This is going to require a full analysis of the entire population. Scanning sick and well and using the patient histories to create a full picture of the development of the lurgy.

After much work, she notices a pattern. More evident in those that did get sick than those who did not. There's a phosphorescence deep in the blood of the infected - and they are the ones who are more connected with the world and more exposed to its weirdness. She peeks at her own blood and its phosphorescence is blinding.

*

Wire is still recovering but she straps up her leg and jury rigs her bike for the trip out to the rest of her gang in Serenity. See how they're coping under Red's leadership and come up with a plan to curtail Kobe's incursions.

Killer arrives at the bar looking for Dusk - Johnson has a pressie for her, and she'll need to go to the hacienda to get it. She can't leave while TumTum is away, so she gets him to seek out Putrid and bring her back - make her understand that TumTum needs her.


Pierre appears at Kim's van with ten or so well-armed bodyguards. He wonders what she needs from him and he's suspicious when she tells him it's his blood she's after. He baulks when she takes out a needle and when she insists that she needs it he takes out a knife and cuts his hand, pouring the blood into a vial.

She's uncovering more information with a complete picture of the genetic patterns of the Purity populations: newer people to Purity are less susceptible; those with a strong genetic connection to those who've lived in Purity for a long time are more susceptible; the lurgy itself causes damage through contact with the maelstrom. She starts creating a prototype to protect people's brain from infection and to draw out any existing lurgy. It's more like a psychic talisman than a device.


The Serenity Hacienda isn't looking great, a bit run down and no one at the gates. Red and the gang are there. They've got look-outs out and patrols and there's definite signs of some sporadic fighting against Kobe with casualties on both sides. Wire examines the landscape and starts to formulate a plan of attack to give Kobe a bloody nose that'll keep him in check.


D & Martinez have returned to Lopez (they'll be back in a week or so for the market). Killer arrives at the door of the bar and Dusk hears an angry face-off between him and Dremmer. She goes out to find a beaten Putrid under Killer's heel - apparently he doesn't understand the powers of persuasion. Dusk tells him to bring Putrid around to Rippers and that Johnson's good to pay the full charges. He's annoyed but accepts it, but before he goes she gets him to apologise to Dremmer. He bristles at this, but she insists - remember what Johnson told him?

Dremmer is worried about her; when she goes back to Johnson he'd hate if he did anything to her. She nudges him, acknowledging his concern, telling him that he'll have to sleep sometime if it comes to that. Dremmer looks away, like he's hurt that he's not the guy. Dusk doesn't have time to give him a serious sit down chat now; but thinks that his problem is that he thinks he's in the friend-zone.


They drive off to Johnson's hacienda in his battered sedan. It's pretty stifling in there - the air vents are all blocked up because they generate dust like the badlands. When they arrive there a bunch of Johnson's workers are taking down the solar panels. Johnson greets her and suggests that they'll have to get a new car for Killer - one more suitable for her.

He's obviously got something big planned - he looks like the cat who got the cream and he hopes that she'll be pleasantly surprised. They take his comfy car out of his hacienda. He talks about what she told him previously, about stopping the bloodshed. There's burnt corn and signs of fighting, but they drive right up to Chum's hacienda. He gifts her the hacienda - it's all hers now, along with some guards that she can trust...

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Big Plans

Previous Session: Complications

Dusk the Skinner is on the look-out for Jackson. She wants to get Navarre's buggy back to him before she heads off anywhere else. Who though in Watering Hole would be able to point her in the right direction (apart from TumTum).

October is rolling in jingle, apparently he's working over at Madame Cho's now; but he's still got all the time in the world for Dusk. They're that good together.

Kim the Savvyhead is checking in with Ripper for their imminent trip to Purity. Ripper cries off though. She's taking care of the grievously wounded Brother and can't leave him alone for that long.
-Patients trump jobs

Looking around for Wire, the Chopper is nowhere to be found, even though the gang is still hanging around. Red and Sundown are drinking hooch on the bench outside TumTum's bar. Red is acting like the boss (and Sundown is totally into her!). Kim asks her for an escort up to Purity, so Red sends her over to OJ, Gaptooth and Tandem.

Over at the bikes, Marlin tells her that Goldman is sick. Kim is worried that it's the lurgy (since they're both part of the gang that recently joined from Purity). Goldman's been to Madame Cho's a bit (spending that hard-won jingle). She brings him inside her shack, and then sedates and cuffs him to the camp bed.


After having spoken to Kim about the problem, Dusk wanders out to see Red. Sundown talks trash and stares daggers at the Skinner, but Dusk just blanks her, giving her full attention to Red. She knows that Red is probably Wire's only rival in the gang. She's the most capable of leading it by herself and doesn't feel that Wire gives her enough respect.

Dusk convinces her that taking the gang to Found's place to protect it from raiders is the best way to prove that she's the second-in-command Wire needs. Dusk knows that she can count upon Red to intercept danger on her behalf in future.

In her workshop, Kim scans the bloods she took from Goldman, and it looks biological and neither trivial nor on file already.

Dusk reckons Balls might know where Jackson is hiding out. Balls is one of Watering Hole's security people, and to be honest it's not like he has any real talents for anything else. He lives next door to Madame Cho's in a brick shack. Dusk wakes him up by banging on the steel shutters it has for a door. He's surprised to see her, but she won't come inside, despite his kind offer of cheap ass rotgut. When he's sure that she's actually friendly with Jackson he tells her he'll send a message out to him; his camp is way out in the wastelands (well on the way to the Witchlands).

**

The trip to Purity is without incident. Though waiting at the ambush site for Rum's people to arrive, Kim has to convince her bodyguard that they'll be resisting the urge to shoot first if they get spooked by the Marauders. It's bad business and there'll be hell to pay if they kick off without a good reason.

OJ is eyeing up the dead cow in the ditch, wondering if they could eat it (or sell it). Kim is looking at the hideous facial scarring, and asks him straight out what happened (to sharp intakes of breath from the other two). He doesn't like to talk about it, even when she tells him more directly that she wants to know.

The Marauder appear without warning, the first one coming out of the undergrowth feet away from them, carrying a spear and a six-shooter. The rest of them bring a motorbike that needs repairing. While Kim can fix this one in a couple of hours, she knows she'll have to get her hands on more spare parts if this is the kind of thing she can expect from the repair visits.


As Dusk is walking back from Balls' place, Dremmer falls in beside her. He wants her to know that he's sorry about bringing her into dangerous fighting the Circus up at Purity. She winces, telling him that the night they chased the Circus out of Watering Hole was much, much more dangerous.
That stops him in his tracks - he feels even worse that he was bottled up protecting TumTum's place when that happened.
Dusk turns back towards him and takes his hand, telling him that his decision made sense and there's no shame in it. With a smile, she claims she's much tougher than he gives her credit for.
He takes a deep breath
-Hey Dusk. We're friends right?
-Yep
-Oh, the boss wants you
She laughs; giving him some grief about only coming to speak to her because he was on an errand from TumTum.

When she gets to the bar, she challenges TumTum
-You don't need to send Dremmer to come get me, I'm always here
-Clearly he had his own stuff to say to you
-Well, he's a sensitive boy.
TumTum brings her into the backroom - somewhere she's never been before.
There's radio gear and loads of papers inside, some of it's old but some is definitely in use.

He wants to talk to her about the haciendas, and the cruelty that's becoming all too common in their operation. He shows her a hobbling boot, which turns her stomach with its viciousness. She's only been in the hold for 5 or 6 years (before that spending a couple in Lopez) but has always thought that TumTum could deal with everything this valley could throw at him.

He has a book, with the names of everyone in any position of influence in the haciendas of the valley. He wonders how to get them on side. Dusk reckons that convincing them will be slow and unreliable. She suggests that they wipe out the top echelon that they can't trust, and make every hacienda run cooperatively by those who live on it.
TumTum likes the idea of a commune, but wonders how they can cut the head off so many in one fell swoop. Dusk tells him to organise another summit, on the regular schedule, and make sure every boss, lieutenant and gang leader is there.

*

Kim arrives at Purity, and is left waiting for a while before a voice from up there wonders if she has the doctor. She waves to confirm, and after another while the bus descends from the hold with eight or nine aboard. Two of them are on stretchers and everyone else is wearing scarves across their faces and gloves. The two patients are definitely symptomatic.

She asks them for Doc Robinson's notes and after anyone who may have been in contact with the sick who didn't get the lurgy themselves, she doesn't want to have to go through everything from scratch. They head back to the bus, leaving the two patients with her. After an initial examination, she reckons there's no point in trying anything else (at least until she's got the notes and her cure ready to go).

She switches to fixing the creaky door on the bus and this really pisses them off. They try to get her on the bus to go back with them, but she resists. Force won't work, but she tells them that she had an agreement with Pierre and that they will, each and every one of them, die if she's forced onto the bus - she will refuse them treatment.
Fleece directly threatens her, but she holds steady with her cold threat and he backs down.

Next Session: Bigger Ambitions

Friday, 24 February 2017

Summary Judgement

Previous Session: Toe to Toe

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.

Next Session: Big Plans

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...