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Thursday, 7 March 2019

Cookie Cutter

Previous Session: No Right Turn

A young girl approaches a well-kept house with a box of cookies, the mailbox says 'Thompson'. Her friend doesn't want to call at this house, but she's insistent and walks up anyway. The door opens as soon as she rings the doorbell. A voice calls out from the kitchen, inviting her in. The girl walks inside and into the kitchen. A minute passes, and then a strange shadow appears and a terrified scream rings out...



David Browning has shown up in town. He's a cousin (on the other side from Jack). The Monstrous escaped from his family, the Cult, almost as soon as they revealed his destiny and his powers came into their own. His father used to live here, and they used to visit, but stopped coming regularly as soon as his grandfather passed away. He is very weird, and not conventionally charming at all; going from deathly quiet to a bundle of nervous energy as soon as attention moves to him.

His Dark Power is inside his head. Like a devil on his shoulder, expecting his experimentation to end at any moment - he will turn towards his destiny soon. He doesn't know much about its intentions, or what part he plays in those plans.


  • When he and his family were in town, staying in the Grand Hotel, Jack the Crooked broke into their car to rob the valuable artifacts inside. His father caught her and they were about to do something horrible to her (a ritual was mentioned), marking her for their future attention and control. But he broke her out (not knowing anything about this weird part of his life) and let her go out the back fire escape. No cops were called, as his family didn't want any of the weirdness getting out.
  • Tess the Spooky's powers are tied to his own. She always knew he was weird, but his family siphoned off her dark powers when she was just realizing them - to fuel the ritual that would forge him as a vessel for a demonic force.
    She has kept him at a distance, emotionally at least. Their close relationship (she used to babysit for him and even showed him her powers) allowed the ritual to go well. But maybe it's that part of her that feels like it's missing.
  • Earl Jnr. the Wronged saved him from a hunter. Last time David was in town with his father, Earl Snr. was concerned and sent him to look after David. He spotted an ambush and t-boned the other hunter's car to allow David to escape.
    David lost a friend to a possessor spirit - the weird girl next door (Sarah) was acting weird, and with his new burgeoning abilities David thought he could solve the problem by enacting a kind of exorcism to get rid of the spirit. The spirit recognized him and took Sarah away - her body was found later in the foothills, the coroner said she died from exposure. 
***

David meets Jack in her usual drinking hole Jugs. It's the dingiest of dives, and never has any tourists in it, except maybe for bikers passing through. So it's popular with a certain class of clientele. The two cousins are surprised to see each other, and they catch up a little. Complaining about jobs (and the lack thereof) and the way the town is. When he tells her he came here to get away from the weirdness, the conversation moves to the Brownings - given that Jack just found out she's surprised that David seems to know. Hanging around with them isn't what she would call a 'haven of normalcy'.

MacKenzie Jones
Avid cookie re-sellerKirsten's & Rod's daughter
Rod Weston comes into the bar, just off duty and having a quick beer before he heads home. He comes straight over to join Jack but he doesn't know David (who introduces himself as Jamie).

He glances at his phone, like he's expecting a call from his wife any moment now. They're worried about their 8-year old daughter MacKenzie. She's been acting up the last while and they need to go into school to meet with her teacher and the principal in the morning. (They realise that she's go the Jones name, probably because of rumours and hearsay since Tess' interaction with Rod).

They need to wheedle the details out of him. He asks Jack what age she was when she first threatened to slice someone open with a box cutters? Jack doesn't answer - but David blames her friends, it's bad influences that always cause this things.

Rod laughs - that Alison Wallace is definitely trouble! He's definitely joking, but when David nods earnestly he switches tack, he's sure he's not left any work lying around that might've caused it.

He's getting up to leave when Earl Jnr & Tess arrive. Rod gives Jack a look, like he suspects he's arranged for Tess to ambush him. After the last time, he has no desire for another run in, and if there's something likely to have Kirsten reaching for a box cutter, it's Tess.

As he's awkwardly disengaging, he gets a call from work, and Jack walks him outside (so she can overhear). There's a disturbance at the Thompson house - he'd better get over their quick. In a town this size, there's no way to get over there quicker than him, but Jack gives Earl Jnr. the heads up - she knows he's interested in Mrs. Thompson (after he beat her up in the diner a while back).

Mrs. Mavis Thompson
Person of interest, despite
her kindly appearance
They follow him over there in Earl Jnr's pickup. There they see Rod on the porch comforting a bedraggled looking Mrs Thompson in her dressing gown. They decide to take advantage of that preoccupation and sneak inside the house for a look.

David keeps watch from the car, he feels a dark thrill growing inside him, as the Dark Power gets a feel for the what's gone on in the house. It wants more.
Tess can sense something from the house, almost as if there's a spirit inside, created by the evil acts which have occured and festered within.

She can tell that Mrs. Thompson has been freed after some time in captivity, but whatever's responsible for those acts of evil is no longer here.

Earl Jnr. and Jack vault the fence over the backyard, out of sight of the front porch. Earl keeps an eye out for Rod, just in case he does decide to investigate, or to intervene if Jack makes a noise that grabs his attention. Jack gets in, easy peasy. The house looks in a terrible state - like it hasn't been cleaned in months. Dust balls, spiders and grime cover everything.

The stairs is in a similar condition, but there's signs that a body has been dragged through the dust, and upstairs in the main bedroom it's worse. Someone's been stuck in that bed (without restraints) for weeks at least. The smell is revolting.

Jack is going back out when she checks the kitchen, which looks pristine. On the table, there's a heart-shaped locket. She recognises it as Marcie's, who works at the diner. With a sense of dread she goes down into the basement where she sees Marcie's remains in a skip bag. The body is mostly devoured, as if by a creature with giant claws and a maw to match.


She's talked to Marcie recently. She's been calling in sick the last few days. But this body has been here longer than that.

**

They sneak out and exchange notes with the others. The little devil inside David revels in these details, and wants to see the carnage, but he just nods along with the others as they decide what to do.

Tess decides she needs to read Mrs Thompson's mind, to find out exactly what's happened here. She walks up, breezing through Rod's good instincts (with a healthy does of luck) asking him what's gone on, but using that to prompt Mrs Thompson to think her answer.

She sees glimpses of something attacking her, overwhelming her in a horrible dark mess. And then it leaves, having taken another form. That of the young girl scout, MacKenzie Jones. Flouncing down the stairs with her boxes of cookies, to rejoin her friends on the way home.

They return to the Browning house to hit the books, to find an answer to how to defeat this Doppelganger. Earl Snr's library turns up a couple of useful avenues of attack. Firstly, that oak wood directly attacks the Doppelganger's ability to change or maintain its form. Piercing the body with a stave or wrapping it in oak rods could force it to revert to its original shape.

Secondly, even though it can take on a new form after studying its victims, it can only maintain it in the longer term through taking some kind of treasured keepsake from them. If the keepsake is destroyed in a ritual fire then that form will be lost to the Doppelganger.

Armed and forewarned they debate their approach. If they try to take the child in the open, it will raise every red flag, and they probably can't survive that. They have to be sure of what they're dealing with, so no stabbing with spears until they know. Every moment they wait gives the Doppelganger another chance to switch form, let the trail go cold and wreak even more havoc.

So they decide to strike in the middle of the night, in the Weston-Jones house.

*

Jack breaks in, as quiet as she can. If Rod hears them breaking in, they mightn't survive the encounter. She waves the others in, Earl Jnr. and David will take Rod & Kirsten's bedroom, with her and Tess taking MacKenzie's. She double-checks to make sure they're all wearing their masks and have no identifying signs showing.

Earl Jnr kicks in the bedroom door, shouting at Rod to not make a move. Bleary-eyed the deputy went for his gun before he even woke up, but his brain catches up and he moves his hand away from the bedside locker and in the air. Kirsten cries out in panic, but quietens down as soon as David's gun tracks her.

Earl ties them up with the oak saplings, keeping a careful eye on them for any changes or reactions, but there's just confusion, and worry as the parents hear the other hunters enter their daughter's room.

Jack and Tess enter MacKenzie's room, they see her curled up in bed and then her eyes open. There's a moment of uncertainty from both sides, and then she scrambles out of her bed and towards the window. They rush to grab her before she can climb out the window and then they tie her up with another set of oak saplings.

Kirsten Jones
Realtor, and very
concerned mother
They put her on the floor near the door and wait, as time stretches out unbearably. She struggles and screams for help. But then she stops as Earl enters to help out, sitting on her to put on plastic restraints. Jack is searching the room for the collection of keepsakes, eventually moving out and into another room.

David steps back into the doorway of the parents' bedroom to check on them. Keeping a gun pointed at them, sitting on the bed. Past Tess in the doorway of MacKenzie's room, he can't see what's going on inside it. Rod is staring at him, but throttles down the aggressive intent when David points the gun back at him.

Earl's nearly done when he sees the girl's limbs slowly change. Morphing into slender washed out grey legs, with wicked claws at the ends of them. He doesn't spot the long stinger emerge above him, but he leaps off, bringing his trusty peacemaker to bear. Firing just as its claws rip his chest open.

It moves to escape, but Tess calls forth a magical ritual to bind it in place until Earl can get back in the fight. When he does she releases it and directs a hateful hex at it. Earl takes a stinger in the chest, and that makes him very woozy.

Jack finally finds the keepsakes, about two dozen carefully wrapped in a disused briefcase in the home-office. She hesitates at how to destroy them, but David joins in throwing them on the floor and stepping back to unleash black flames from his fingertips. Jack searches the house for the real MacKenzie, finding her curled up in a ball in the attic.

With nowhere to run, the Doppelganger charges at Earl, leaving him bloody and at death's door, but it is slain itself by the combination of attacks by the Browning siblings.

Jack deposits the unconscious girl on her parents' bed.

On the way out, David whispers in Rod's ear that he'd better not chase them. They just saved his daughter from a monster and they should be thankful. David thinks he's impressed him, but Rod just stares to take in every detail (specifically David's shoes).

They run for it.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

No Right Turn

Previous Session: The Brownings

A couple of hikers are making their way through the raw and untamed mountain wilderness. They look content, even if they are a little tired. One of them looks confused as if the path they’re picking out isn’t quite what they expected. The other one is checking for a signal on his cellphone, but there is none. When he turns around to make a comment about being deep in red neck territory, the first hiker is gone, just a baseball cap is left on the mossy ground...


The Brownings head to the Vagabond for post-op apple pie and coffee. Not Earl Jnr. (the Wronged) though, he's off tending to some personal business. Tess (the Spooky) spots her old flame Rod Weston in the corner with his family. She gives Rod a friendly wave and mouths 'hi sweetie' at him (not in the slightest bit creepy at all). Rod's pretty wife (not a local, and you can tell) looks suspiciously at her and says something to Rod, who grimaces. He doesn't explain, but he does excuse himself from the table, just ruffling the hair of his 8-year old daughter, to wander over to the Browning's table.
Rod Weston
Sheriff's Deputy &
Old Flame of Tess'

He tips a non-existent hat to Earl Snr. (the Expert), ignores Tess and grabs Jack's (the Crooked) attention with a light hand on the shoulder. Jack's friendly towards him, he's one of her friends on the force and they head outside for a quiet chat.

He quickly fills her in, wondering if he could ask her for help - he's not going to ask Tess and would prefer if she weren't involved. His wife, Kirsten's brother Aaron and his friend Pete are here from Seattle and were hiking up on the high trail, but they haven't returned. Their cell isn't taking any calls and they were supposed to return last night. He's trying not to worry Kirsten, and he's got to go back on duty shortly.

Jack tells him it'll go to servicing the debt she owes him. When she returns to the table to fill them in, Tess has already read Rod's mind and surprises the hell out of Jack by telling her Paw what's going on.

Last time they called they were at the Silver Pool (on the Green Trail).

Erik Newman
Barista at the Vagabond
& gossip extraordinaire
Erik, their barista, who's in the habit of dropping by people's tables when things aren't busy sees Rod and his family out the front door and then stops to chat to the Brownings. Without much of a preamble, he dives straight into it, telling them that the hikers never really intended to come back last night. They were going to go off trail, be adventurous and head towards the peak.


That troubles Earl Snr., what the locals call the Ghost Foot Trail was trouble enough without straying off it. Anyway, he's annoyed that he's not even finished his pie, or wiped the gank from those dead Grumpkins off his boots yet, and already they're in another mystery. Timmy Rice's house is up there, out left of the trail, but is well away from things now given that they cut the new Green Trail cause the old one was always getting overgrown.

Erik is surprised that he gets no gossip back from them, even after he pushes Tess a bit, promising that anything she tells him would be safe as houses! *humf*

****

Earl Snr. knows he could give Debra Sage a call. A local tribal leader of the Ute, she has been fighting with County Hall for a couple of years to close down the Green Trail entirely. He reckons that she knows something more than she's letting on, even if their previous encounters would suggest he doesn't have a lot of credit with her. She called him out about that mountain goat extermination rampage of his, and with his experience he can be a bit blasé about Ute concerns.

Debra Sage
Local Ute elder
Her campaign to have the trail closed down fell on deaf ears, even if Earl Snr.'s danger sense is going when he recalls that the objections were couched in terms of there being sacred land in the vicinity.

He calls her, but has an awkward moment as it's not evident that she's taking his call. She does pick up, but doesn't quite give him everything he expects from the conversation. It's obvious that she is hiding something, although she's not responsible. She advises him not to go off-trail up there, even when he asks about clean-up. "There won't be any bodies to recover"
Then when he pushes about what might be up there, reassures him that it won't go off trail itself.

Earl Snr. jokes that if he ends up dying up there, he'll come back to haunt her. Drying, she retorts that she'll have a dream snare up waiting for him.

Their pick-up is still loaded for bear, so they head up the trail and park by the Silver Pool.

***

Up there, Tess engages a spirit inhabiting a tree along the trail. It's sense of time is a little bit off what she's used to, but does remember a couple of people who left the trail just here. Jack, still not up to speed with that Tess is doing asks a couple of stupid questions about how she knows all this gets a light slap in the back of the head from a nearby branch.

This tree spirit warns her about the greater Forest Spirit deeper off the trail, preventing people from reaching the mountain peak.

They head into the trees, Tess leading the way.

Earl Snr uses his tracking skills, there's no proper trail to speak of here, barely animal trails. Eventually, about an hour in, they come across a blue baseball hat, a Seattle team's colours.

Tess clears the ground, as best she can, using a loose branch to inscribe into the moss a series of mystical symbols. Her ritual allows her to see into yesterday, when the missing men were here.
In a haze she sees them standing close to each other on the trail. Smells their sweat with a tinge of fear they don't yet recognise. Pete is turning the map around, like maybe he's had it the wrong way around the whole time, but then he feels something on his back and legs. He glances down to see branches and roots grabbing him, and then once he's on the ground another one - formed like a hand, grabs his face and brings him down the deep gully alongside the mossy track. Aaron sees this in horror and quick as a dart, he runs...
From her description, Earl Snr. recognises the type of creature it is. A powerful manifestation of a greater spirit. Nothing to mess around with. They debate what to do, but he's advising that they retreat to the boundary and then communicate with the spirit; maybe it'll be willing to give up Aaron.

Tess wants to try to find him now, or maybe to go down that gully to see if the other guy is ok...

After a short while, Earl Snr.'s advice (usually right, to be fair) wins her over and they head back. But then they hear a terrible scream from deeper in the forest. Not the way they came, but further north. They stop, now strung out along the track. They can sense it coming, they feel its presence all around them, until they see its physical manifestation.


This creation of flesh and bark speaks to them, its voice is like the wind in the leaves, but insistent and powerful. It tells them to get out. Now! Or the others won't be the last to die. None will escape!

Earl Snr starts to back away, he thinks they can get to the pickup truck if they sprint for it. Maybe there's something back there that might help drive this thing away if if follows them out.

Tess won't be driven away like this, she reaches into her pocket to take out a zippo lighter, showing it the easy fire she has available. It strikes her without hesitation. Maybe it's fearful, maybe it's furious; but it's not waiting around to give her any chance. Thorns rip at her, and roots erupts from underground to grab her legs and branches seek out any gap in her defences, pummelling her into submission.

Jack grabs her and pulls her free and they run for their lives, not stopping until they slam into the body of the pickup truck. Breathless, they debate another plan...

Earl Snr. looks at the flatbed of the truck. There's a jerry can of gas there. That'd make one hell of a mess of this forest spirit. But he has a moment's hesitation; one, that a forest fire in the high summer is nothing to mess around about - people could die, homes be destroyed and more. Two, if this spirit is preventing the Peak from being disturbed, maybe that's the is keeping the Great Hunter from being awoken. And that would be a much bigger problem!

Earl Snr. wants to return to his sanctuary, to come up with a better plan based on some serious research. Jack wants to threaten it with fire, see what they can prise out of it. Tess really would prefer to burn it down, but really would like to find Aaron alive, so she calms down a little and goes back over to the 'friendly' tree spirit she communicated with early to try to find out a little more.

**

Tess is just opening up her mind to it, when the Forest Spirit erupts out in front of her and grabs her, tearing her away from the trail and deep into the forest.

Without a second's thought, Jack and Earl Snr. chase after her. It takes an age to find her, and it's almost dark. Tess is nestled in underneath some exposed roots. Moss is already growing on her (impossibly!) and roots are pressing into her - horrifically they would start growing into her given just a little more time.

They rip her out, speed is the most important thing for them now. And the pick their way back out to the trail over the next few hours. They're all muddy and scraped and dog-tired. They can sense the spirit following them all the way. When they get into the truck, they sense its acceptance; maybe this one can escape.

*

Tess needs medical attention quickly, her wounds aren't critical, but she needs stabilising. They drive back to the house where Earl Snr. can tend to her.

In the infirmary, which takes up half of the double-garage/barn Earl Snr. has set up out back, he's reminded of the last time someone died here. Mike Wallace was bitten by a werewolf and he couldn't be saved. Earl Snr hopes it won't come to that with Tess.

Jack is amazed at everything in the sanctuary. A whole set of tools to cope with this hidden world she never knew existed before. The mounted wolfshead is particularly gruesome. Earl tells her it'll stay in that form if you cut it off immediately after death with a silver blade!


Jack visits Rod to break the bad news. Of course she can't tell him everything. But seeing the state of her clothes he believes her when she tells him that there's no hope. Thinking on her feet she sends him in the wrong direction (way out of the Forest Spirit's domain) when he says they'll have to search for the bodies.


Velasco
A non-predatory vampire
Earl Snr. knows that their only real option is to try to put their shoulder to the wheel to help get Debra's council proposition through. But they don't have that kind of power. So Jack and a still tender Tess over to see what Velsaco, their friendly local neighbourhood vampire.

It's a dark, brooding house in town. Somewhat set alone in the streets, and definitely not fitting with the usual design and look. Of course, in Grand Lake, there's plenty of space and every house is different. But this is still odd.

They remember this house growing up. No one wanted to go inside, though everyone was dared to multiple times. Tess did go inside once, selling cookies or something, and he invited her inside for a soda. While he was in the kitchen fetching it, she snuck upstairs to take a look around, but somehow he was there waiting for her, and ushering her downstairs to get her refreshment.

He brings them into the kitchen. It's clean, everything is cold and metallic. He says he's just having something to...eat. He takes a bowl out of the microwave and starts drinking from it, like it's a cup. They bring the lack of conversation around to Debra's motion at the council, and he agrees to make it happen. No questions, just a confirmation that they will both owe him for it.

They agree. He's very deliberate about getting that from them. So they leave. And after he sees them to the door, they glance back as they walk away. Every time they look back he's there, watching them. Until, the last time they glance back he's gone.

Next Session: Cookie Cutter

Thursday, 24 January 2019

The Brownings

The Brownings live in the small town of Grand Falls, Colorado, located on the shore of the Spirit Lake where the north inlet runs into the lake. They've been hunting monsters in the mountain range for generations...


Earl Snr., "Paw" Browning is The Expert. An older man with a lined face and wearing outdoor clothes. Not too charming, but sharper than most would expect from an old man. He's often right and always prepared.

His haven includes a lore library, an infirmary and is protected by wards.

  • He got Tess out of trouble with his sage advice. She'd used her powers unwisely back in high school and turned Rod Weston into a stalker, mirroring and intensifying her own crush. Poor boy is still trying to shake off the bad reputation that generated for him, even though it was so unlike him.
  • His dark secrets are being protected by Jnr. He went off on some wild hunting trip which decimated a local protected species - Jnr covered up the traces, but still isn't sure if there was some associated monstrous activity or whether Paw's imagination just got the better of him.
  • Jack acquired a singular item for Earl Snr. She stole the 'Brigham Clockwork' which generates a mystical ward from the house of Rex Harrison III, the mayor. 
> He lost Beth, his wife, in the house. Years ago when the kids were very young, shortly after Earl Jnr. was born. 

> Both he and Beth were monster hunters before, but he was only tangentially involved - the terrible tales he heard from his father never really stuck with him. The night before it happened he dreamt of the Man of Shadow. That night when he saw a stranger approach the house he tried to do a ritual to keep him out, but he didn't have the expertise or the preparation.

> His father told him some really crazy stories, that he really only started to believe after Beth died. He passed along tales he heard from locals, from the Ute tribe who named the lake, who said that those who hunt in the mountains become the hunted. 

****

Tess Browning is The Spooky. Earl Snr's daughter, and a few years older than her brother Earl Jnr. The woman has dark eyes and wears goth clothes. Makes up in weirdness what she lacks in toughness, She is telepathic, can hex and has the sight.

That power comes with some serious downsides though - secrets, mood swings and hallucinations hint at its unsavoury source.

  • Earl Snr. taught her how to control her powers, insofar as she's able to at all. After her love spell on Rod went too far, he reined her in.
  • She used her powers on Jnr., to warn him to run out the back door when the Sheriff came looking for him. She knew the questions he'd have to answer following Tommy's and Reggie's demise would be too much for him to deal with (and possibly land him in jail).
  • Jack saw her using her powers for her own selfish reasons - what happened with Rod wasn't quite as innocent as Tess says (or her father believes). 
> The night when Mom died was the most terrifying of her life. The whole house shook, and black smoky energy imploded to take her away. 

> She dreamt about it and tried to tell Mom & Dad. But they just tried to calm her down (obviously they didn't believe her). That's why she tried to push her powers so much later on, she now knows that she couldn't have helped.

> She moved away for a while, to Boulder. She came back because of the dreams, in which she saw a tornado of crows destroying everything. 

***

Earl Jnr., is The Wronged. In his late 20s, the veteran marine wears surplus gear (albeit in good condition) and has hurt eyes. Tough and charming, but not weird at all. He knows his prey (possessor spirits) and swears Never Again, and what doesn't kill him. His signature weapon is a hand cannon.

He lost Tommy (his boyfriend) and Reggie (his best friend) to a baleful spirit years ago; he was in denial and selfish.

  • Earl Snr. help Jnr. to recognize possession when it happens. He's not going to let something like that happen ever again.
  • Tess stood between him and what he needed to find out. She hid the fact that she knew there was something weird going on with Reggie when she was possessed. She saw Reggie enacting a magical ritual, but worried about Jnr.'s obsession and lied to him about seeing anything.
  • He saved Jack's life when the Dempseys were chasing her. Her wiles weren't enough, but his silver bullets had been.
> His best friend Reggie (Regina) got possessed by some mysterious spirit when they were just out of high school. She seduced and then murdered his boyfriend Tommy in a fire. At least she kept him from escaping. 

> After that he ran off to be a marine, and a complete badass. He did a couple of tours. One jarhead buddy called Samuel didn't quite come back right. 

> When he fled the fire where Tommy died, he saw Reggie's face change - that's when he knew. It was Pete's face, who worked in the garage (and was a rival for Tommy's affection) but who hasn't been seen since.

> He worked with a powerful local vampire, Velasco. A mob was moving in on the territory (especially with a view to taking the vampire's house and priceless paintings) and Earl Jnr. took care of them (and not in the Mary Poppins kind of way). 

**

Jacqueline "Jack" Diggs is The Crooked. A cousin to the Browning siblings, and a few years younger than them. The young woman has watchful eyes and wears street clothes. Not very weird at all (it's all new to her) but sharp as a tack. She's a burglar, but with friends on the force and has a firm home ground advantage here.

A police detective, Donahue, has made it a personal goal to put her away - he's just a good cop. Rex Harrison III, the mayor, is someone with special powers who she took advantage of. She discovered the real underworld while burgling the Dempsey house - they're werewolves and came after her.

  • Earl Snr. is her moral compass. Not sure how that's working out, with all the burglary though...
  • She used to hero-worship Tess when they were younger. They were (as far as their age difference allowed) close cousins. There was also a bit of sneaking around and spying on Jack's part. 
  • She saw Jnr. completely lose his cool one time in Randy's Diner. She didn't know what to make of it at the time (PTSD guess) as she didn't know anything about the supernatural. It took three guys to pull Jnr. off the 75 year-old Mrs Mavis Thompson. 
> Detective Donahue is a straight up-and-down, by the book good cop. He hates that she has friends in the Sheriff's office who turn a blind eye. With her contacts in the community, he's never able to pin anything on her.

> She's a 1st cousin through Earl Jnr & Tess' mom. Her mom was Beth's sister. That side of the family thinks Earl Snr. killed Beth and buried the body somewhere. A few years later, her own Mom killed her Dad in a domestic dispute (actually in self defence) and she was fostered.

> She was warned off going anywhere near the vampire Velasco. His big, richly appointed house would be prime for burglary. But he can't be all bad. He doesn't feed off or kill humans. A tall, almost emaciated white guy.

Next Session: No Right Turn

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Making Lemonade


Lucia (Bruja the Doomed) has a long interview in AEGIS.
Agent Jones appears to be the lead and she’s keen to discover exactly what went on. Not just at the Gala and in the hotel, but also on that lonely farm near the border.

She's much less together than she hoped, but still manage to cooperate.
Jones learns about her personal beef with Armstrong and are disinclined to give Lucia's ‘conspiracy theories’ much weight.
They dig into her past, the moment her powers activated and identify Julie Perkins as a person of interest.
They sign her up to undergo ongoing psychological assessments with Dr. Keen

But, near the end of the process she loses her cool and has had enough of this bullshit. They’ll definitely wary of her now.


Javi (El Serpiente the Nova) disappeared for the final encounter between Lucia & Barbarossa.

He runs into Anaconda, and over a casual (but not too casual) conversation, he picks up that Javi was involved in the (almost) final showdown with The Beast.
Blackjack catches him unawares and in the fight Javi cause a lot of destruction downtown.
He loses track of Anita (7 missed calls later!) and from that last voicemail it would appear that she’s had enough of him.



They're all back together again, wondering how they can use their vaccine (that they plan to produce) against Brad Armstrong, to get him on the scales of justice! Do they finish it off, open-source it through K-0S' channels, or offer to sell it back to him (with their silence) and use that to bring him down because he was in league with the Red Queen?

First though, they need a test subject. (After a chorus of 'not it') They decide that BlackJack would be a good person to use. He's a villain, so it's best if his powers were taken out of the equation anyway, and he's in league with the Red Queen too (they're trying to convince themselves that it's ok, but honestly they daren't even think of using it on themselves).

BlackJack
Now, a literal Bronze-Age SuperVillain
Lucia has Dark Visions to locate him for the rest of the team. She uses the VR rigs throughout the city as a kind of neural net, and finally she tracks him down on a building above a blind alleyway. It's near Hank's Arcade, but she doesn't notice that it's the Halcyon Herald's offices. He's in a 'practical' suit of bronze armour.

El Serpiente charges up the side of the building, unleashing his serpentine arms to knock him off his perch, while Tag (Gus the Innocent) winds up to catch him as he falls.

BlackJack kicks back hard against El Serpiente as he falls, and the Nova's attempt to keep the raygun away from his head just result in the building getting splashed with a lot of damage. BlackJack is caught by Tag just as he completes his destructive fall through the fire escape and they rampage through the building.

Between Tag's sonic boom and BlackJack's raygun going haywire, the building is seriously damaged and the workers are put in immediate peril!

Shadow starts the evacuation, incredulous at the damage Tag has allowed to take place (where Lynettte works!) and El Serpiente tries to hold the building up to give everyone time to get out.

While Shadow's rushing to get people out of the upper levels of the newsroom, he spots April Meyers' unattended desk. A drawer has been left slightly ajar and inside he finds her shorthand notebook - she's an incisive journalist with an inside track into Halcyon Analytica and Brad Armstrong. He nabs it and escapes, the last person out of the building before it starts its dangerous collapse.

**

There's more collateral damage, BlackJack's raygun is destroying power pylons now as he and Tag race out towards the lake. BlackJack finally gets rid of Tag, flinging him out on the water. When Tag regains his bearings to come back around BlackJack is ready for him and breaks his arm, bringing the speedster's activity to a sharp halt.

Bruja appears through one of her portals to intervene, leaping to Tag's defence, just as BlackJack is zooming back around to strafe the helpless Tag. She brings him down to earth with a nifty feat of telekinesis, knocking him out cold.

She ignores him, and rushes to Tag's aid. They find her cradling his head and relieving his pain with her mystical powers. Shadow has to finish BlackJack himself. Even with Bruja comforting Tag, Shadow doesn't care, going off on Tag for such a reckless use of his powers - he's destroyed so much of the city and put countless people in jeopardy!


They wonder how to heal Gus' arm quick enough to get him back into action for the necessary showdown. He wants HYPERION to accelerate the whole process, but Lucia suggests a bone & muscle regeneration along cyber lines; and afterwards Gus has never felt so powerful. Even if her joyous hug is kind of painful.

*

After getting the vaccine sorted, locking BlackJack in Lucia's sanctuary, and getting the data dump
that they need; they're all ready for their showdown with Brad Armstrong.

Brad Armstrong
CEO of Halcyon Analytica
Bruja's Nemesis.
From the Gala, Javi has his private number, and he calls it for a private conversation about PROJECT ATHENA - a low-key meeting in the hotel. They set up with a VR rig to record the meeting between the two - every last detail, admission, and slip-up will be captured for posterity and media release.

Javi starts off well enough, but his prodding appears to have zero affect on Armstrong. In fact,  Armstrong starts pulling strings himself; it would appear that he knows exactly which of Javi's weakpoints he needs to apply pressure to.

Javi loses his cool and hits Armstrong. His bodyguards swoop in to protect their principal, but he waves them off, brushing himself off with a smile. The others starts to intervene, and they're part of this now.

Lucia realises that he's going to get away with this - he's got PR firms, and AEGIS and Supers on side. She yells accusations at him but he gets up close and personal and warns her that she'll tear herself apart by the end. He doesn't explain, but his words echo her certain knowledge of her Doom.

Gus tries to provoke him, with Simon standing in the wings - all too aware that his talents are useless right now. Armstrong wryly shakes his head, walking away to the car that's pulling up outside. He quips back at Gus that Catcher would be proud...

FIN(ish)

Thursday, 1 November 2018

The Shadow Controlling the Flame

Previous Session: Post-Mortem

Simon (Shadow the Beacon) doesn't think his interview inside AEGIS goes well. He sticks to the agreed story, but he realises that he's just dropped Agent Roux in it, she probably won’t be able (or willing) to help him after this.
Whatever source the Red Queen has inside AEGIS is still active and they’ve identified him as a threat. And, his next appointment with Dr. Keen will be very awkward. Maybe they’ll bring in Sidney for a group session?

Lynette picks him up from outside the AEGIS offices at dawn, they have time for a coffee and a non-Super related chat before she goes into work.

Gus, (Tag the Innocent) was on his way to Lucia's showdown with Barbarossa when he intercepted a shipment of HYPERION from Dr. Schneider to Catcher. That was way too tempting to pass up and he snaffled a cryogenic container with 12 doses of the powerful compound.

He's staying with Betty (with Lucia's mom about to stay in his usual spot on the couch).


Both Simon and Gus are still on for Lucia's project to create a vaccine against Project OBSIDIAN, even though she's still stuck inside AEGIS (helping them with their investigation). Simon will steal an ID during his cleaning circuit inside Halcyon Analytica; allowing Gus to speed in, climb into a hazmat suit and get a sample from the secretive laboratory deep in the heart of the building.

Simon knows who the best target is, Tom - who takes long coffee breaks and longer smoke breaks. Simon passes it along to Gus in the smoking area outside, Tom is oblivious when Simon clips the badge from his lanyard and Gus just walks through to the suiting-up area adjacent the lab. He reckons he'll save his speed from the way out.

Gus goes into the locker room, there are about a dozen lockers, each with their own bespoke suits, but there are also a handful in a common pool. There's a woman in the corner, trying to fix a problem with her suit, but he slinks into a suit and into the airlock without her noticing him.

The airlock cycles way too slowly for Gus' liking, but he subdues his nervousness until he can get inside. There's someone else at the far end of the lab, working at a spectrometer. Simon is cleaning the viewing room (which is used during visits or executive briefings) and between them they spot the Project OBSIDIAN sticker (a black diamond) on a large cryogenic unit in the corner.

Brad Armstrong
Head of Halcyon Analytica
Gus tries to open it, but the keypad is almost impossible to crack. He goes at it quickly and manages to get the right combination before the system can lock him out! The unit can't open quick enough for him though, and by the time he's ready to grab one the other person in the lab has noticed what they're up to and he starts walking over...

Too late, Gus recognises him as Brad Armstrong!

***

He runs! He passes Simon, back to cleaning the halls (he's going to act casual, but not too casual), on the way outside. Twenty seconds later the klaxons go off. Simon follows the fire-drill protocol, he's never heard the klaxon before and it didn't come up in the orientation briefings.

Gus gets to the main foyer, and there are a squad of heavy security people, loaded for bear (with long tasers and body armour) but he speeds up, running up the wall and then down to the revolving doors to escape. They're revolving way too quickly when he exits to allow anyone to follow, and he keeps running.

Simon follows the rest of the staff to the assembly area, though there are security guys checking everyone (until they get the all clear). Tom is there, still bereft of his ID. When Simon finishes his shift, he meets up with Gus.

He's having a crisis of conscience, and is sure that they're going to find him. But Simon tells him he was going way too fast for the CCTV - and he's not going to make the same mistakes as Catcher. He's not going to become that villain.


Simon calls Agent Jones back. He needs to get in contact with Viper, he needs to hear the full story, to discover if they know the truth of Lucia's powers. But Jones isn't playing ball. She seems sure of her direction in the investigation and doesn't even confirm if Viper works for AEGIS.

They call Dr. Schneider - they want to provoke him enough so that he'll meet with them. Even though they don't really know each other (and Gus just stole a shipment of his) they will need his help to product the vaccine against OBSIDIAN.

He's very cagey. In order to meet with them safely, he needs a sample of alien technology, and he needs to know who he's actually meeting with beforehand. He will meet with them then, and accepts their assurances of complete confidentiality.

**

More importantly. Now that Gus has the HYPERION, he knows it'll allow him to shift back in time. Like Catcher did to prevent him from saving his brother back in 1940. So he'll dose up and bring Simon back with him and do the job properly.

Simon is up on the literature (time travel) and cautions against interacting directly with Catcher or anyone else that they don't have to. They'll keep their heads down and do the job as required.

Gus dresses in the running suit he was in when he first arrived here from 1940, and Simon in his Shadow suit (which is in a 1930s style anyway, just in grey instead of something more colourful).

The dose of HYPERION is overwhelming, like nothing Gus has ever experienced. He feels like its going to shake him apart and he has to concentrate just to hold onto Simon as they zip back.

They appear in the centre of a baseball diamond. A small stadium in the middle of a leafy suburb. Fancy and apart from the pitcher's mound, unrecognisable from anything they've seen in Halcyon City.

As they head for the exit, a figure appears in the tunnel, blocking them. Dressed in a sharp (purple) suit, and full of quiet menace. He declares himself to be 'The Shadow' and that they're on his turf. He protect the city from strange supers like them. He pushes back his trench-coat, showing the grip of a gun (not a regular pistol, but more like a raygun).

Gus steps forward, and checks that The Shadow knows him, knows Tag. Because he was active in the city at this time. The Shadow does a double-take. Apologies for the inconvenience...

While he's there though, they need to ask him some questions about what's going on in the city at the moment. He tells them that there's a criminal gang trying to take over, there's a Super pulling their strings, who they call 'The Red Queen'. If they head down to City Hall, they find them - the 'Red Hats' they go by.
The raygun? He had to punch a alien's lights out in the desert to get it!

*

When they get down to the main square, they don't see much of interest. They still have some time to kill, so they scout around anyway. They spot two cops at the top of the steps, definitely not just cops - maybe something more. Simon heads over to keep them busy as Gus saves his brother, and he bumps into a woman, as she returns to the her table to retrieve her scarf.

The Red Queen
SuperVillain
Gus flashes forward, seeing/feeling himself be handcuffed by them, as his brother falls to his death right in front of him. He looks up and sees a couple of (red-hatted) thugs throw his brother off the rooftop.

Simon makes himself a nuisance in front of the cops, and they react the way he knew they would; by slamming into the wall and making sure he knows his place.

As Gus speeds up to catch his brother, he sees his past self speeding across town, and in the moment when he fixates on arriving just a moment after Catcher propels his past self in the future he see he woman (without the scarf) prepare herself to catch his brother.

A spurt of speed takes him there in time - he daren't trust her to save his brother. He doesn't know her. His trajectory slams into her as he catches his brother safely.

He ignores her baleful glare, and brings him back to the apartment. Telling him to leave home and never return.

Simon recognises her now. She's The Red Queen...

Next Session: Making Lemonade