Mad World

A Foggy Ocean Cruise

(Game played 6/16/18)

Channel 377 News at 7, I’m Bob Applebee. This just in, we have a fascinating story for you tonight, apparently a luxurious ocean party ran into some stormy weather last night. We’ll have more for you right here in just a second, after a word from one of our sponsors.

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Now, an exclusive report from Channel 377 correspondent, Joyce Ackner:

Thank you, Bob. Media Trids have been having a fit about a recent cruise gone bad. According to sources, Dr. Frederick Williams, a Senior Engineer with EVO Corporation highly sought after for his revolutionary approaches to what he called “Parazoological Domestication through Psychic Imprinting and Pairing,” was attacked and killed during an exclusive A-list yacht party organized and sponsored by EXOCruise Inc. Private Security aboard the ship were able to subdue the attackers, but Dr. Williams’ wounds were too severe to survive despite security personnels’ attempts to stabilize, and later resuscitate, Dr. Williams while waiting for KE and DocWagon to reach the ship. Once on the scene, Channel 377 News reporters confirmed trideo shot of one security guard, known as “Steven,” while performing the life-saving attempt. All other passengers onboard the ship were safely evacuated to life-support vessels by another security guard. He seemed to be suffering shock from the event as he continually gave conflicting information regarding his identity. A third security specialist was not available for comment, as she had taken command of the ship’s controls via what reporters described as a “highly modified and specialized Vehicle Control Rig.”

EXOCruise Inc. spokeswoman, Amanda Cruz, went on record to describe the unfortunate events that took place during one of their clients’ nautical leisure getaways.

“We at EXOCruise Inc. are devastated at the loss of Dr. Williams. He was a highly influential member of his field and a true asset to EVO Corporation. Our most sincere condolences go out to his wife and son.

According to the ship-log, sensors, and security feeds, the S.S. Break Runner left port on time and was at optimal seaworthiness. As the vessel reached a point several knots from shore, it encountered a dense fog bank suddenly. It is unknown why the fog bank was not recognized by the ship’s state-of-the-art sensor-array, however the fine detectives with the Knight Errant authorities believe that they might have been tampered with by the two eco-terrorists that had infiltrated the security roster. Eco-terrorism groups have yet to claim responsibility, however KE detectives assure us that the evidence strongly suggests this act was premeditated and carried out in conspiracy between two attackers who were subdued by the remaining three security guards. One of the criminals has been identified as Lisa Sampson, and the other is a SINless elf who has yet to be further identified.

When the Break Runner encountered the fog, the attackers began firing at Dr. Williams as he attempted to navigate through the weather. When shots were fired, other passengers have gone on record stating that a security guard from the back of the ship ran toward the Control Room and tackled Sampson yelling loudly for Dr. Williams to take cover. Once he subdued Sampson, she resisted with lethal force and he had no choice but to defend himself.

Shots apparently damaged the control panel of the ship, so our security rigger specialist initiated protocols to take control of the ship and deploy the life-support vehicles. She also deployed drones to evaluate the continued seaworthiness of the ship, commence repairs, and initiate security protocols within the ship’s Host. One of her drones reported back that the fog may have been artificially created by the attackers as evidenced by electronics it recovered at the scene. However, it is not clear what kind of technology could create such an effect as yet.

During that time, a third security guard, who identified himself as “Steven,” exchanged gunfire with the other attacker, drawing his attention away from the passengers. He successfully subdued the attacker who unfortunately later died of his wounds before reaching the nearest hospital. Steven called 911 and reported the attack to KE as he began resuscitation attempts on Dr. Williams, but was unable to bring him back before help arrived.

The Break Runner was successfully returned to port, and all passengers were recovered. Our deepest gratitude goes out to the brave security specialists of Wolverine Security, LLC, a subsidiary of Ares Macrotechnology. We look forward to working with KE and Wolverine to further investigate this tragedy and bring any other affiliated criminals to justice."

A closed-casket funeral will be arranged by Dr. Williams’ family, and EVO Corporation spokespeople have expressed their deepest regrets at his loss.

Now back to Trideo News at 7, Channel 377. Bob?

(5 Karma awarded.)

View
Interview with O'Connor
Questions, answers, and the return of Sledge

In the room, O’Connor reclined on a chaise longue. Calling for Seamus and drinks all around, he and Wyrd both took bracers of whiskey and enjoyed long pulls from them while the rest took a seat. O’Connor then asked, “So, what are you going to do with the card?”

Raiju asked, “My biggest concern is if we shut the portal and Jacques is not in it, is that going to be a problem? Will he stay on this side?”

Wyrd chimed in, “And what is the deal with Jacques and his brother? I think that is a good starting point.”

O’Connor turned to Rune and said, “Rune, have you been giving away our secrets?”

Wyrd interjected, “No, we’ve earned this information.”

Waving for a refill, O’Connor said, “How did you come by these cards?”

Raiju responded, “Sax O’Clock.”

O’Connor nearly spat out his whiskey mid-quaff. “What? What’s a musical instrument have to do with it?”

Raiju smiled and said, “Sax O’Clock is an experimental jazz musician that found the card. I said I would look into it for him.”

O’Connor arched an eyebrow and said, “And you didn’t have to take it from his cold, dead hands?”

Raiju said, “No.”

O’Connor said, “How did you come together?”

Raiju answered simply, “Rune.”

O’Connor looked at Wyrd and said, “Jacques is from a family who went rogue.”

Raiju said, “He was talking about bringing about Shangri-la”

Wyrd asked, “What about you? What is your family, and what’s your name?”

O’Connor replied, “I don’t have much of a family. I’m not a family man. I have brothers and sisters, and we are a family in a manner of speaking. You can address my family name as O’Connor if you like. If I had my druthers, I wouldn’t be having this conversation, but you seem like an amiable lot. Something happened, however, and our worlds came crashing together, and that doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon. We are attempting to find our way.”

Raiju said, “So those people who call themselves the Seelie Court are trying to make all of those deals with other governments and such?”

O’Connor replied, “That’s a different question.” Taking another dram of whiskey, he continued, "The Jakelle family is making deals with other entities, evil entities, but we kept catching them in dealings with these other entities. We tried them and kept finding reasons to convict them, so we banished them. They always claimed they would come back, and apparently they have. It seems like their agenda includes the eradication of us, which doesn’t fit my bill.

“It seems like it is time to introduce you to my brothers and sisters. We seem to be able to handle ourselves against the Jakelle family. What are you willing to do to be introduced to my brothers and sisters?”

Raiju said, “We don’t see a need to be introduced to your brothers and sisters.”

O’Connor smiled. “Maybe not yet.” He finished his whiskey and waved for another refill.

Wyrd asked, “So, about the doorways, they are attached to people? And we need to be careful when talking about them?”

O’Connor said, "The doorways are a manifestation of a person’s life force and the life force is a representation of one of us. The keys are also part of a person’s life force. The key has a small portion of life essence. When you use it to open your door, you are affecting the other. They know who you are and that you are affecting them (astrally). Many an amorous affair was conducted with the exchange of keys. If you use a key to close a door, you have an effect on those who you use it on. You have a choice, where you can close the door temporarily, or you can use it to close it forever, and it will lock them out of a dimension, and it also affects the keyholder.

“The reason you must be careful how you talk around a door or a key is that the other side may be listening. There are tales of how people’s words hold power and how they have had an affect on the keys and doors themselves.

“When you use a key you return the key. You are relinquishing the gift you have garnered.” Turning to Seamus, O’Connor clinked his refreshed tumbler to Seamus’s decanter and nodded.

Wyrd asked, “Do they have any other inherent powers?”

O’Connor said, “When you choose to open a doorway, you are choosing to move the keyholder’s door. That may anger certain people once the doorway has been moved. They can’t move their doorway without their key.”



Meanwhile, inside the box….

Sledge tried to force himself out of the box, and instead he forced himself through a set of doors and caught himself with his meat arms. The room looked like the foyer of city hall in Seattle. Sledge remembered this room because he met a woman there. He was called in for questioning to identify someone in Knight Errant accused of brutality. The ork woman claimed that Sledge saw the crime even though he knew he did not witness it. This event happened during the ork uprisings. Sledge sided with the orks. At the time, he wasn’t blooded with his clan. He didn’t know who to support, but he decided to support his ork kind and the person that was convicted on his word was a human, which is where his human hatred comes from.

He can see this woman across the room. She is beckoning to him like she was before when she was ready to escort him to the interrogation room. Sledge can’t quite tell if this is a dream sequence or if it is real. Sledge decided to follow the woman.

Wyrd asked, “What’s the deal with Arawn? I know it is a title, the biggest and longest one, and they are tied to the frivolous games. What is the significance?”

O’Connor stretched then said, “Do you happen to have the phrase?”

Wyrd said, “‘Long is the day and long is the night, and long is the waiting of Arawn’.”

O’Connor leans forward and rests his chin on his hands. He said, "I have heard that phrase, but if I could give you an answer, then I would be much more prestigous than I am. It is indeed a title, a title nested in a shadowy history. The Arawn are a tale. Lady Brane Deigh, if you can get her ear on the matter, you are better than I.

“So you’ve heard of the courts but know nothing of them. That makes sense.” O’Connor laughs and sips some more whiskey.

Wyrd said, “They are stealing doors and hurting people. They don’t have much compassion.”

O’Connor said, "I would agree with all of that. With my profession, I have the privilege of being invited to court occasionally. The lady is the cornonated duly elected lead of the Seelie (Summer) Court. Now the Arawn was the title that was given to a superbly just and righteous leader of the Seelie Court. Many tales of the Arawn started the Frivolous Battles as a way of staving off greater evils. If there is an Arawn, perhaps he lies in waiting, perhaps we are awaiting their return.

“Then again there are those close to my brothers and sisters that argue that we already have are own Arawn, but we call them something different.”

Raiju said, “What do you call them?”

O’Connor replied, “I won’t share that just yet. Should you be identified that you are on our side, perhaps I will share it with you.”



Meanwhile, inside the box….

Sledge followed the ork woman down the hall, and he recognized the hall, but the walls are painted in blood. The security camera in the hall stared dead ahead, and the lens is illuminated with a purple light that flashes, casting the image a skull off and on in purple light on the wall.

As Sledge moved, he entered a very familiar area from his past. Upon entering the area, he saw see the ork woman enter a room. Through the cracked doorway, he could see people inside. In the room was a person standing in full uniform. This person is standing there, not manacled or anything, being accused of a heinous crime. However, here Sledge also saw this other person bloody, battered, and tied to a chair. As he approached the room, he heard another sickening thud as he heard the woman lay into this dude in the chair again.

Sledge entered the room and checked on the person in the chair. As he entered, he saw the man in the chair begging through the bruises and blood, and the ork woman just kept screaming at him “It’s all your fault! It’s all your fault!” and wailing on him. Sledge moved to stop the woman.

On the opposite side of the room, Sledge saw two ther women in the room: one in a red hood and one that is older that looks similar to the younger one, possibly siblings. Sledge asked them who they were.

Apparently, Floyd had a connection with Sledge through the box and could feel the box getting hot.

Raiju said, “Seems like we’re both interested in these cards. Why are people after them?”

O’Connor replied, “Quite the question. The power makes them so valuable. They have a variety of uses, not all of which have been discovered.”

Raiju asked, “How do you use them?”

O’Connor said, “That is also a bit of a puzzlement. Folks like myself use them not in the same way that you do. You use them by powering them through strange rituals and summonings and such. We use them as they were built. They have strange effects when they get into mortal hands. We do not use them often.”

Wyrd said, “What was the original intention?”

O’Connor said, “Well, time for another.. fairy tale. Long ago, when the fey were young and naught else where in existence. The creatures that were there sought power, a whole bushel of it. They sought to overthrow the Fair Folk, for whatever reason, jealously, power-hungry. These creatures, the Fair Folk knew they could not be allowed to continue their pursuits, so the fey bound the creatures into the darkness, casting them there and keeping them there. They created a lock so complex that no creature in existence could predict the combination. Yet the dark creatures adapted to the darkness. Nay, they liked the darkness. They found fear there. As their story spread, they found fear, of what they could do, of what they might do, and the cracks began. Some weak folk found they were attracted to that power, so the weak folk were contacted by the dark creatures to find the cards. It was said a whole set was needed to break the lock. However, the cards needed to be used in the correct order and combination to break the lock. No one has found all the cards or the combination.”

Raiju said, “What about the Joker card?”

O’Connor said, “The cards, they have names I dare not speak them. Authorities claim that the Seelie found the first one. You see they claim that there are factions protecting each card, claiming to be responsible for these cards and others like them. But they found the card and said they destroyed it. However, terrible things happened, terrible things awoke, and terrible things attacked. No one knows how that story ended. I will see if I can find more information if it is important to you?”

Wyrd said, “Is that like what happened to Rune?”

O’Connor replied, “There was a theory that Rune found another one of the cards. We created a theory, a plan, an attempt to take care of the cards. We have seen what the Jakelle family can do, and every time another card is released into the world, another member of the Jakelle family is brought into the world. I’m not sure about the cards, or if I want them destroyed.”

Floyd asked, “What is the connection between ley lines, mana lines, song lines?”

O’Connor explained, “Song lines, dragon lines, ley lines, that is a big topic for one such as you. Think of mana like strands of Gaia’s hair. She has all this hair, and they do different things, and each other does different things. For eaxmple song lines are more like rivers designed for travel, used from getting from place to place. Banished long ago due to their ability to carry large beings or large groups of astral forms. You have seen them come back, breaking their bonds. Some say they were used to bind the dark ones. Now you have dragons, and entities have come back because these lines have come back. Smaller song lines are still around. They fluctuate and move, and when they move, mana is dishevelled, drunk, and strange things/illusions happen as song lines change. Ley lines are different. They used to connect the fey dimensions to your world. During the blood wars, the lines were severed in order to protect your dimension from the frivolous battles. Perhaps because they have subsided, they have come back. Our world has come back to your world, come crashing into it even.”

(Note: Their world crashing is separate from the Awakening.)

O’Connor said, “I’m still trying to establish my network of contacts and informants on your side, which is where we might have future business.”

Wyrd said, “What is your ultimate goal? What do the O’Connors want?”

O’Connor laughed. “It is never as simple as that! Me brothers and sister, we have long watched the games the Seelie Court plays. We have seen their uses. However, we’d like to see our own lady take the throne.”

Wyrd said, “Are you part of the Unseelie Court?”

O’Connor said, “I have long fought that classification. And I am part of the Seelie Court. If there were an Unseelie Court, I would be against it, of course.”

O’Connor goes on to tell us that the factions, by and large, support the current lady and her rule.

Floyd asked, “What about the dragon lines?”

O’Connor said, “The dragon lines, those are different. Those are the chains that continue to flood your existence with the mana that it needs. That mana comes from somewhere, but I’m not sure where. There are other worlds where mana is exhausted. Whatever sucked the mana from those worlds is likely to be a great drain, perhaps a great portal, between here and there. I do not know.”

Floyd said, “What happened to the ley line at the Great Wall?”

O’Connor said, “I don’t know, but I would be interested in knowing as I could sell that information for a pretty penny.”

Floyd pulled out the puzzle box and showed it to O’Connor, then said, “Tell me about this box and why all the ley lines connecting it.”

O’Connor said, “It contains quite a bit of mana.”

Raiju said, "We found it at the Fun House with the Jakelle."

O’Connor said, “It seems as if it contains an essence of some sort that feeds off of the ley lines that are connected to it. They remind me of the tale of the combination lock. Not so easily broken.”

Raiju said, “Back to the tale of the combo lock. If one of the cards are destroyed, what would that do?”

O’Connor said, “I’m sure I don’t know. But if you happen to know, talk to your old boy O’Connor.” He finished with a nod to Raiju.

Raiju said, “I think I destroyed one.” She pulled out shredded Four of Batons and waved it in front of O’Connor. “It came out of nowhere, a small replica of something I found in Egypt. It is a mana battery. I put the mana battery on top of the card and channeled mana into it and it exploded. When we came to the card was shredded.”

O’Connor said, “Mind if I have one of those to research it?”

Raiju gave O’Connor a mana battery. For the first time O’Connor seems not at ease.

O’Connor said, “To my knowledges, the cards can be destroyed easily. Physical representations of an artwork on paper. The Joker cards are different. You can’t destory them just by ripping it up.”

Raiju asked, “But if we use a mana battery?”

O’Connor said thoughtfully, “I don’t know. I don’t know if that would work. If there is an explanation… I don’t know.”



Meanwhile, inside the box….

Sledge asked Floyd what he should do. Floyd gave his best mental interpretation of a shrug and said, “I don’t know what you do in this kind of situation. This is your story, so you may just have to let it play out.”

Sledge tried to figure out what all of the people are doing here. The ork woman turned to Seldge and said, “Tell ’em! Tell ’em brother! Tell ’em he did it! Tell ’em he killed my children!”

Sledge said, if somewhat robotically, “Yes, he did that.”

Sledge had no weapons but still had his card and the pen foci. Sledge asked, “What is going on?”

The other ladies in red speak in unison: “This is where my father was killed. This is where my father was taken from me. This is where I began my path. This is where I lost my future.”

The ork woman started screaming at Sledge, “What are you doing? Don’t you care about your race? You’re not an ork. You’ll never be blooded! You are nothing!”

Sledge asked Floyd, “Dude, what should I do? She’s screaming at me. It’s like she is threatening me.”

Floyd replied, “Well, you could defend yourself. If she does attack you, you should.”

Sledge decided to attack the ork lady with the pen foci. She yelled back at him, “What are you doing? You will be abandoned, you will be bloodless, just like humans!”

The old lady in red started to fade and Sledge was left with the girl. Then he started to hear a low chuckling. Sledge thought he recognized Jacques’ voice. It was! Jacques started to meld from the wall, letting out a low, more sinister chuckle.

Jacques said, “Once you were judged unworthy! Ha-HA! You gave up the life of another. You denied the future of a child through your own wickedness! You have shown it to me! You have shown the box everything! Now you have changed. Do you regret what you did? You are so weak!”

Sledge moved to defend the girl. “Would you defy who you are and who you want to be?” said Jacques. Sledge pointed the pen at Jacques.

Everything goes dark. Sledge finds himself thrown up against a wall, somewhere. All is dark and then at once blinding bright.

Everyone around the room, Floyd, Raiju, and so on, all see the box vibrating very fast and spinning. A jet of mana appeared and launched Sledge against the wall!

O’Connor shouted, “What the fuck is all this about?!”

Wyrd blinked, then said, “That is our ork friend. Hold your positions.”

Sledge looked himself over. He was back as normal: guns, chromed arms, etc. Sledge looked around, disoriented, then noticed the whiskey decanter clutched in Seamus’s hands and asked for a drink.

O’Connor guffawed and said, “Motherfucker erupts into my room and demands a drink! I like him! Get him a drink!”

For a brief moment the lights dimmed and everyone was fairly certain we hear the cackling of Jacques, and when the lights come back up, the box was gone. Floyd said, “Damn it. This box led Jacques right to this place. I’ll bet he heard our entire conversation.”

Raiju explained O’Connor and the current situation to Sledge. After consuming a full tumbler of whiskey, he appeared to steady himself a bit. He the said, “What about my tarot card?”

O’Connor exclaimed, “What is going on?! The ork has the cards!”

Raiju said, “Jacques gave most of us the cards.”

O’Connor continued, exasperated, “So now he’s handing out the cards like feckin’ pamphlets! Why is he doing that? That is an answer you owe me.”

Raiju explained how we got the cards from Jacques and how Jacques asked for our help, telling us how the cards might help us find his brother.

O’Connor let out a low whistle and said, “Sounds like you are playing your own dangerous game. Your own mortal laws talk about ignorance of the situation is no excuse.”

Wyrd said, “Yes, but this is a whole different game, a fey game, not a mortal one. We are willing to trust you and Rune. What is it you want us to do to meet your friends?”

Raiju interjected, “How would it benefit us to meet your friends?”

O’Connor replied, “I’m fairly confident that you are going to need some help and will need to meet my friends.”

Sledge made the off-handed comment, “I like how we are more cautious with the leprechaun than we were with the demon.”

O’Connor set down this tumbler and Seamus refilled it. O’Connor then said, “So, we were to be discussin’ a sort of trade. What I would propose is that you find out more about why Jacques is passing out cards like business cards. In return for information about what might be important, I could introduce you to my brothers and sisters.”

Raiju pressed, “And why is that helpful to us?”

O’Connor said, “We will make sure that will you need us, we will be there. And if you are playing these frivolous battles, you will need representation at court. If you want to go to court, you will need someone to introduce you. Many things happen at court, and it is an amusing affair, and it is all properly planned. And those that do not properly plan….”

Wyrd said, “So I asked for help seeing the astral, and Rune gave me this pen. This pen has a spirit that has attached to me. Can you tell me anything about the spirit?”

O’Connor smiled. “I can tell you she is a right looker.”

Wyrd said, “She and I have been able to talk a bit through mirrors.”

O’Connor nodded and said, “I don’t quite understand. She is attached to you, but how do you not know who she is.”

Wyrd said, “Does this have anything to do with the witch who was killed when I was with Rune in Louisiana and the witch that was there was killed.”

Rune said, “Mon ami, that is a story for perhaps another time. I can see the lady you speak of. That is not the woman you and I both know. Perhaps we can save her; I have tried to contact her several times. I have seen the lady around your neck, and perhaps she has something to do with why I cannot bring her spirit back. I don’t think O’Connor will know anything about this.”

Raiju said, “Who are the mambo spirits?”

Rune said, “They understand the spirits and keep the spirits alive.”

Floyd asked O’Connor, “Do you know the Emperor Hak-Ju?”

O’Connor laughed. “HA! How do you know the Emperor?” Sipping some more whiskey, he continued, “he is a shrewd master, and he is very well connected. You would do well to trust him. I have represented him at court. Often he has his own concerns. If he has taken an interest in you, it means you have impressed someone.”

Sledge asked, “Is the Discipline card good?”

O’Connor said, “It is a difficult question to answer. Sure it has power, and sure you can tap it, but you would have to figure out the right way. It could be a phrase, a word, or a combination with another card.”

Raiju said, “If you are interested, Sledge, I have been doing some research about other groups that are seeking the cards.” Sledge nodded and motioned to Seamus for another finger of whiskey.

Raiju turned back to O’Connor and said, “Is someone who is not magically awakened able to use the cards?”

As she turned to ask O’Connor that question, a woman appeared behind O’Connor and he became very, very still. Behind the woman was a glowing doorway that was open. The woman stood with a gun up to the back of O’Connor’s head. She said, “Right, O’Connor, why don’t you explain what you know about that. And why don’t you tell me where the bastard is.” While talking she pulled a second gun and pointed it at Rune. She spat at Rune, “I bet your lap dog stole it for ye.”

Raiju, slightly put off by the interruption, calmly said, “Excuse me, but who are you?”

The woman replied, “I’m the person who will save your ass.”

Raiju said, “Pardon?”

The woman said, “I’m here to keep you from falling in with this dangerous lot.”

Raiju said, “What are you looking for?”

The woman yelled, “The bastard!”

Raiju laughed and said, “They’re all bastards! Which bastard are you talking about?”

The woman looked at Rune as said, “If you ever want anything to do with me again, you find the bastard and bring him to me.” Then she disappeared back through the portal she came through, and it immediately closed behind her.

Raiju said, “What the fuck just happened?!” Looking at Rune, she said, “Who was that?”

Rune replied, “No idea.”

Raiju said, “Is that another of your ex-girlfriends.”

Rune said, “I’ve never seen her in my life.”

O’Connor waved his half-full tumbler in the general direction of the woman’s now-disappeared portal and said, “Don’t pay her no mind!”

Wyrd said, “What did she mean by the hanged man?”

O’Connor said, “She is part of the bastard faction. They protect the bastard card. The bastards have been missing one of their cards.”

Raiju said, “Why do they think we have it?”

O’Connor said, "My brothers and sisters, we protect the hanged man cards. They blame us for their lost card. We will see how that plays out in court.

"Of course, who am I to say that she actually arrived here. Even though there are witnesses here, she would come up with tons of witnesses to the contrary. That woman is known as Cherry Bomb. She is one of the more active members of the bastard faction. She is not a fan of court and isn’t often there."

We all feel like Rune might actually know this lady at least a little bit, but decide not to press the issue.

Raiju said, “Is there a place I can store this Joker card?”

O’Connor took a pull of whiskey and said, “I would not bring that into me brothers and sisters, not on your life or mine.”

Raiju said, “Why was it surprising to you that he gave me the card?”

O’Connor said, “The card causes carnage. They corrupt. They expose terrible things, greed, that the races hold inside, and bring them out. So, for instance, when Rune and I worked wiith the other one, it would turn normal people into animals, full of hatred and envy. Full block wars would break out! The card is like a magnet for astral signatures. Spirits, too, would go crazy.”

Raiju nodded. She then asked, "Are we on the LEX VIP list?"

O’Connor smiled wryly and said, “Oh, yes, you’re on the list. For now, you’re on it. Continued presence on the list may warrant additional work.”

Wyrd said, “Could I get a friend added to the list? He just wants to party in the club and wouldn’t be here for business? I owe him a favor and this is his desire.”

O’Connor continued to smile and said, “Sure, I’ll put him on the list. You owe him a favor, but now you owe me a favor.”

With that, O’Connor finished the remainder of the whiskey in his tumbler. He looked around and said, “With the whiskey gone, we, too, must be gone, for I… am too far gone as it is. You think on my offer and return when you have information for ye O’Connor, yes? Yes.” Patting Seamus on the back, he and his entourage walked back to the elevator. We all followed, and he took us back to the LEX. Floyd, Raiju, and Sledge took their leave, while Wyrd stayed behind to enjoy the club a bit more before taking off.

(GM note: +1 karma for this session.)

View
Faith and Begorrah
Searching for safe houses and finding the Lex

While we were talking among ourselves, trying to decide what to do, Sledge apparently tried to cut the enchanted puzzle box open and got sucked in to it. So much for that drug run. Also in the meantime, Raiju and Wyrd had decided to go on a run for some ammo, leaving the rest of us to stay at the Ubermensch, drink, and discuss our next move. By the time they returned, they had got more than ammo but didn’t have time to go a lot into the details. Their vote was we help Rune.

The Ubermensch was becoming crowded with undesireables of an astral nature. Those of us that could look around astrally could see the likes of leprechauns finding their way in through a portal that opened in a corner of the bar. Time to make a decision. With Sledge in the box and Slim insisting the answer to our problems was at the bottom of his current bottle of synthenol, we decided it might be best to leave Slim here for the time being to dry out (or tank up, we weren’t sure which) while we pursued more information with Rune. But first, it was time to find an actual safe place to rest, so we decide to find a cheap room to rest at. Rune decided to go and gather his friends and we’d meet up with him later.

Raiju comes up with a cheap hotel and we rent three adjacent rooms. En route to our need regrouping location we work on some healing and resting, arriving in time for afternoon check-in. We weren’t in our rooms long before Floyd’s door got an unexpected knock on it.

Looking at each other, we all knew that no one was supposed to know we were here. Wyrd and Raiju decided to stay in Floyd’s room while Floyd ran to Raiju’s room (the furthest down of the connected rooms) to make his way around behind whoever was at the door. Taking a minute to go astral, we could see two men and one woman behind the door adjusting their weapons, waiting for the door to be answered. Cluing each other in via commlink, Wyrd answers the door, Defiance T-250 in hand, though non-threatening.

“Hey now,” says the lead man in the royal blue suit, putting up his hands a bit but not too far from his own guns, “we just came to talk.”

“Oh, this,” Wyrd motions to the shotgun, “I’m just cleaning this.” Backing into the apartment, the blue suit follows in along with the other cybered up gentleman falling in behind him and the lady staying near the open door. “We weren’t expecting any visitors, though. Who are you?”

The blue suit steps further into the room. “I am Mr. Rivers, and these… they are my associates. I am here to speak to Ms. Kim.”

“Ms. Kim?” Wyrd said.

Rivers turns to Raiju. “Yes, Ms. Kim. I come bearing an invitation from a mutual acquaintance of ours: Dr. Cervantes extends his greetings, and the invitation is still open.”

Raiju said, “How did you find us?”

Rivers replied, “When you touch something astrally, you should know it leaves a signature. We analyzed the imprint and followed the signature here.”

Raiju shook her head. “I won’t go back to Dr. Cervantes. You can tell him that, too.”

Rivers let out a sigh. “We thought you might say that. We came prepared for either answer.” He began incanting….

It was just as Rivers’ spell completed that Wyrd got his shotgun ready and fired. Electricity arced from Rivers’ fingertips, slamming into Raiju’s chest, as Rivers and his cybered-up henchman were ravaged by a hail of shrapnel, the force of which knocked Rivers off his feet. Wyrd tumbled backward, using the force of the shot to help him get behind some cover as Rivers’ mercenary pulled his gun and started shooting at Wyrd, grazing him.

Floyd took the gunfire as his cue and came out the front door of the adjoining apartment room down the hall and ran back toward the front door of his original apartment. Getting close enough to see the woman standing in the open doorway, he nailed her with a stun bolt. She stumbled into the room as Floyd closed the distance.

Raiju quickly recovered and cast Chaotic World on the group of them, engulfing them in a roiling alternate reality while she dove for cover.

Rivers picked himself up off the floor and let fly another lightning bolt at Raiju. The Chaotic World coupled with being staggered put his aim off and barely touched Raiju with the bolt. The cybernetic henchman continued firing on Wyrd with limited effectiveness, the Chaotic World making it hard to aim.

Wyrd retaliated by dropping his shotgun and pulling his Ingram smartgun, going full auto and spraying the whole lot with a hail of explosive rounds, tearing up the three enemies. None of them dropped, but they all looked worse for wear.

It was as the smoke cleared from the explosive rounds that Floyd dropped a Power Ball on the three of them. Liquified internals and boiling skin swept over all three as they collapsed to the floor in a heap.

Wyrd policed the bodies, pulling cred sticks, SINs, and any other loose items they had. In the meantime, Raiju turned the burnt and sputtering remains of Rivers over with her foot to interrogate what remained.

“Why did you come for me?” Raiju began.

Spitting out blood, Rivers coughed and said, “You are a powerful asset. Useful….”

“Are you a blood mage? Are you and these others members of the blood cult?” Raiju asked.

Rivers nodded. “Yes,” he said. “We serve the doctor.”

“But I was out,” Raiju said. “Why bother to come after me now?”

Rivers replied, “You… you know too much. If you will not join us, you must be eliminated. With my death, your life is forfeit…. We won’t stop coming for you. You cannot-”

A gunshot punctuated the air, ending the conversation. “Yeah, well, you won’t be there,” Raiju said to Rivers’ corpse. She holstered her gun. Turning to Wyrd, she said, “What do we got?”

Wyrd nodded toward the corpse of Rivers. “This is… was, one Steven Rivers of Sun Technologies1, according to his corporate SIN.” Poking the cybernetic bald elf corpse with his toe, he continued, “This is James Peterson. He was apparently a Lone Star employee and street samurai for hire.” Pointing at the woman, Wyrd said, “And that is Sophia Campbell-Carpenter, also of Sun Technologies.”

“What we got is to get out of here,” Floyd said. “Obviously, this place is blown, and the gunfire is going to attract a patrol. We should get out of here.”

Everyone agreed. Grabbing our stuff and anything worth taking from the three dead mercs, we moved to another no-tell motel away from the scene. Later on the news we heard about “another unknown murder of three unfortunates, one of them a Lone Star officer, proving once again how the only crew that can take care of Seattle is Knight Errant.”

Once we found a new place to hole up, rest, and heal from the previous altercations, Raiju contacted Rune about getting in touch with him and his friends. When he finally replies, he tells us the following:

“There is a place called the Lex Nightclub. Very high status. My friends will meet you there. You will have to find a way in, though. Weapons must be extremely concealed or non-carried. Black-tie formal. Bring lots of cred. Also, attend to any astral presences or matrix personas. Social credit is everything to these people.”

We decide to meet him at the Lex. Before we go, we get ourselves some tailored Actioneer armored formal attire: Raiju in an elegant cocktail dress; Wyrd in a matte black power suit; and Floyd in a deep purple tuxedo with silver pin-striping. We are to be Raiju’s bodyguards. All of us decide to leave weapons outside the club except Wyrd, who manages to sneak his Ares Predator past the suped-up cyber elves guarding the door.

Inside the Lex, we get a message from Rune that he and his friends are in the VIP area. We need to meet him there. Unfortunately, you need special privileges to get into the VIP area. As such, Raiju manages to schmooze her way in while Wyrd leverages his contacts to help him convince one of the internal security to let him through to the VIP area. Floyd slides in on Wyrd’s coattails.

The Lex VIP area has a gigantic pool area with raised platforms dotting the edges of the deeper end with all manner of people drinking and dancing. At the far end is a huge bar. Off to the side of the pool near the bar area, Rune waves to us. He is sitting next to a red-haired gentleman and his two gorgeous lady friends. We mosey over. Taking a minute to view astrally, Floyd looked at O’Connor and his lady friends: each of them appeared to be a dual natured creature with astral ties to another dimension; but they seem physically manifested consciously right now.

We meet O’Connor and his two lady friends. He asks where are the rest of us. We tell him the rest of us are indisposed, and we are what is here for now.

O’Connor turned to Rune and said, “What did I tell you about treating the mortals? Don’t put them in danger unless it is necessary.”

We made introductions. Wyrd introduced himself. O’Connor said his name. O’Connor said to all of us, “Well, I only have time for one more drink and some gambling, so my time is short.” Wyrd started asking him about doorways, and O’Connor said that we haven’t established our rapport to that level. Call it an initiation in order to be a part of the VIP status that is the his little club.

“A game of skill,” O’Connor said. He proposed a game for each of us. If we passed, we can join the club. We looked at each other quizzically but agreed. So O’Connor sent Wyrd to the dance floor with one of the ladies, and he sent Floyd into the pool. At which point, he asks aloud, “And what would you wager on the game in order to get into the VIP club?” No one anted anything. “Make it entertaining!” O’Connor shouted. And then a fight commenced.

The game began, and in nothing like what anyone expected. Wyrd got a knife pulled on him, which he was able to disarm the knife from the lady, turning it from her hand and tossing it ready into his own. Meanwhile, Floyd got surrounded by four fairies in arcane armor and axes. In response, Floyd fumbled and flailed in the water but was able to summon a force five water spirit from the pool to defend him. The water elemental arose and pounded on the fairies while they cut at Floyd. After the first round, Raiju tunred to O’Connor and said she would make a wager: if we lose our battle, that she will give O’Connor her joker card, and if we win, we get our questions answered. O’Connor’s eyes went wide for a moment, and he called a halt to the battle. “What are you on about?!” O’Connor said, “You don’t know anything about these cards. You don’t know what you’re playing with.”

“What? It’s just a wild card,” Raiju said.

“I wouldn’t talk about a Joker card like that either,” O’Connor said. “Consider yourself part of the VIP club. What are your questions?”

We tell him we want answers to the cards, to the tarot, to the portals, to the killings that are happening where the joker faces are appearing, the puzzle box. O’Connor sighed and said it isn’t safe to talk here, so he took us through an exit door that leads to an elevator with an “Out of Order” sign on the door. As we walked to the exit door, Wyrd noticed a black-bearded human trailing us. As we got to the exit door, O’Connor’s arcane-armored fairies fell in behind us, and the bearded man veered off. O’Connor opened the elevator and we all get in. We then went down in the elevator for a very long time and exited into another slightly diminished club from what we were at, and it appears to be that a very racous party has happened that some whispery-faced elves are cleaning.

Wrought iron with a willow tree stood in the club, like something from a dream Raiju had. O’Connor said that this is a room that we shall not find easily again; it is somewhat removed from mortal homelands. He said we may be able to win our way back to this room, but we do not have time to concern ourselves with getting back to it at present.

We showed O’Connor the Joker card. He doesn’t know if he wants to destroy it or not, but he knows that there are others trying to take the card from us.

“So… what questions do ye have?” O’Connor said.

(GM note: +3 karma and regain one point of Edge for this session.)

1 Sun Technologies is a jointly-owned subsidiary of Ares and MCT. Its primary focus is mana analytics and the practical applications of mana.

View
Ammo Run, as told by Wyrd
Where Raiju and Wyrd explored some options

(Game was run, May 4/5)

After the encounter with Jacques, while everyone else went to the bar, I decided to head to my weapons dealer, Black Tom, to restock the group, and see if he has anything that might help with fighting astral/magical creatures. He said he would look into it, but only had conventional weapons at the moment.

Next I got a call from Raiju, she wants to meet up to talk. I drive to De Santo Omni Coffee to meet up with her. Once there she tells me about Sledge vanishing into the box, Slim looking for salvation at the bottom of a bottle, and Floyd recovering from a lot of Drain. Earlier, on the way back from the Fun House, I had mentioned to Raiju about an earlier incident with Rune and a Tarot Card.

We sit down to chat, and I tell her about how I met Rune:

(from emails with Chris)

Shreds of that night still prick at the back of your consciousness, though you have never been able to fully recall what happened.

About two and a half years ago, you were met a Johnson on the Mississippi River during a telesma smuggling job through Missouri – a talismonger obsessed with mud, rivers, dirt, and decay. He claimed he served a spirit he called “Abhainn.” Amid his ramblings, you gathered that his spirit wished him to find others to help a man named Rune close some kind of gateway. Naturally, “the path will be perilous,” was part of the pitch. However, he promised you a strange card, carved from the bark of an Oak tree, that glowed with an ancient power. It depicted a wheel with characters you could not read drawn at each spoke. When the Johnson explained cryptically that it would assist you in your fortunes, you agreed hesitantly – feeling as though it was somehow important that you accept. The talismonger gave you the card and took you to a voodoo witch’s hut in the Bayou of Louisiana.

You met Rune, a jovial cajun with a gambling habit and a background as a conjurer. He was extremely pre-occupied with spirits and the astral. As you could not experience the astral, he kept most of what he saw to himself, explaining it casually away. You believed him and felt as though he was genuine, although you continued to worry slightly about what he might be holding back.

Regardless, he explained that a Doorway needed to be closed and that he believed he had the required elements to close it. He would not reveal them to you. But he told you he needed protection. You, and two others – an orc with a limited command of magic combined with some cyber augmentations, and the voodoo witch, would provide it.

That night, he took you to a grove in the bogs of the Bayou where a lone, sickening-green flame burned. Then, Rune pulled out a key. As the moonlight sparked and danced along its silver teeth, terrible creatures tore from the shadows and the very Night itself. Your perception and the world seemed to skew and warp, and time appeared to go into seizuring spasms. You remember cards that resembled your own, but with different images – and some with terrible faces on them. Pain was inflicted upon you, and you swiftly inflicted it upon others. Then, darkness overcame you.

When you woke, the flame was gone. Along with Rune, and the witch. And your card. The orc was scattered about the grove, torn to pieces. Raccoons and vultures scurried away from his remains as you stood unsteadily.

The last memory you have of the battle was of the witch crying out in anguish – possessed by a spirit whose allegiance was unknown, and Rune thrusting a key into the flame. In place of the flame, stood an Oak tree, with the words " Hir yw’r dydd a hir yw’r nos, a hir yw aros Arawn" blackened into its trunk.

It took you the better part of the day to recover to a point where you felt able to fend for yourself. You called a fixer who owed you a favor, and she arranged for a local rigger to retrieve you. As night again began to fall, you fashioned defensible position to guard against the Wild creatures that lurk. And waited.

++++
I wrote down the words on the tree to translate later:

“Long is the day and long is the night, and long is the waiting of Arawn”

You are able to find a translation; Welsh-Gaelic, however, you are unable to find much information about it. Strangely, whenever you attempt to find information about it, odd occurrences crop up preventing you from digging further. You pressed on a few times, and were able to learn that Arawn is a legendary character supposedly from the Unseelie Court, and that he had something to do with a battle but as the occurrences became more dangerous in nature, you put the research on the back burner.

+++++

When [Wyrd] originally took the Wheel of Fortune card. You felt a static charge, as if a small amount of electricity had discharged, or been absorbed, by the card. After that, while you had it in your possession, you felt it almost humming quietly. However, because you cannot normally astrally perceive, you could not see its aura. Fellow Awakened beings, though, confirmed for you that it indeed looked “alive,” with a mana tie drifting toward some unknown source; it also contained your astral signature.

++++

I asked for clarification about their being other cards in the battle in Louisiana

During the battle, a few attackers coming from the doorway drew cards from within their clothing, as well as attackers who came from other astral rifts that opened. They invoked these cards during strange summoning spells, and seemingly unpredictable effects took place. You did not see any of the card faces, and the names of the cards were not called during the summonings. Still, they lent strength to these conjurings. One of the summoners lost control of one of these spirits, though, and it went rogue, attacking anyone within reach. As the battle raged on, the voodoo priestess attempted to allow the spirit to possess her. Rune attempted to dissuade her and she offered a bargain: she would cease the offering, if he gave her his card. He pulled out a Joker’s card depicting a jester engaged in dionysian indulgence. Then, before she could react, he covered it with another card, pulled out a key, and closed the Door. When you awoke, there was no sign of any of the other cards at the scene as well.

(return to narrative with Raiju and Wyrd)

We message Rune that we want to meet with him, but he is unavailable for an hour or so. To pass the time we decide to investigate the spirit that seems to have attached itself to me. Ever since touching the pen Rune handed me, before heading to the Fun House, I have been able to see the astral, and have also gained a friend. I had originally asked for assistance in seeing the astral, due to my inability in the last encounter with Rune, and since then I have had encounters with a spirit, and others have seen a shadowy figure protectively huddled around my person. In a mirror I was able to communicate with the spirit, and I was able to see her dressed as a voodoo witch doctor. Raiju decides to take me to a talismonger shop where she had originally found a key, to find out about the key and my spirit.

We go to Ricky’s Rathole and browse the items to see what we can find that might help. We find a magic zippo that amplifies spellcasting attempts (rating 2 spellcasting focus) and some antique toy guns that click when the trigger is pulled. These shoot astral “bullets” and may help me fight astral creatures (rating 2 weapon focus.) Both had price tags upwards of 8,000 and 14,000 nuyen. We also learned that Ricky’s Rathole was managed by two individuals, one a flashy showman of hermetic magic named Mr. Brown whose booming voice was as well known as his abilities, and the other a shaman as quiet as Mr. Brown was loud.

We ended up talking to the clerk Elsy, a whisp of a girl behind the counter. She seems quiet and distracted, but friendly all the same. I ask her if she can tell me any information about my new spirit friend, and she tells me about her spirit, Rat. “Rat is scared of your spirit, it is stuck, and won’t go through the hole. It should let Rat take it through the hole, but it won’t let it.” Unsure of where to go from there I thank her and Rat for answering my questions, and give them some credits for their trouble. Due to my kindness and respect, Elsy hands me a black candle and drier lint dabbed in petroleum (bc 5 drams – lint w/petrol 5drams, reagants used in voodoo rituals). She says, "One should always repay an eye for an eye.

Raiju moves on to asking her about the key she recently acquired here. Elsy tells us, “I have lots of keys.” We ask her if she knows anything about Tarot Cards, and she replies, “Rat has heard much about Tarot Cards lately. Lots of people are interested in finding them, and Rat will pay very well for any Cards.” We are very careful not to reveal we have any.

Upon further discussion with Elsy, we also learn that, “A Big Spirit has recently come through a Hole, somewhere South near Mount Rainer.”

At this point we receive a message from Rune to meet him at the Triple Tree Inn. We get there before him, and are met by a female spirit named 26K. She seems to be on the lookout for Rune, upset with him about something, but is not willing to discuss the matter. I ask her who Arawn (the name on the tree in Louisiana) was, and she says, “It isn’t a name, silly, but a title. Everyone knows that. It’s an important title, the longest one. Many are the legends of the Arawn, and their influence on the Frivolous Games.”

Raiju and I ask her about the creatures coming through the portals, like the ones we fought, and about those that play the Frivolous Games. “The ones from the other side have no compassion,” was her reply. In regard to Rune, and if she trusted him, she says, “He may be an asshole, but Rune has compassion.” She was just about to say more about the ones from the other side when Rune enters the room. 26K yells at him, then immediately flies at and through Rune, leaving the room in a rush. I notice he says to himself, “Damn, I should have been a minute later.”

He sets down with us to talk, and I confront him about taking me blind into the situation, back in LA, and leaving me for dead in the middle of the orc’s guts. “I don’t appreciate being anyone’s patsy, and now that you’ve dragged me back into this, I want some answers!”
Rune holds up his hands to calm me, “I am sorry about that, friend. I meant no harm. I didn’t exactly know what would happen when I put dat card in dere. But I knew somethin’ had to be done. I am truly sorry you were forced to survive through dat, especially alone, but I called you again because this is more important dan you know.” After a few minutes of thought, and with what 26K told me, I made a decision, “Okay, Rune. I will help you.” Raiju too spoke up, “I am in too, Rune. But if we are going to help you we need information.” We decide to speak in private, so we adjorn to a room in the Inn.

Rune tells us that the Portals are actually "…Living Doorways, that are tied to mana. We must be careful how we speak of them, as they are tied to living beings. The cards have power over those connected to them, and they are also connected to ley lines. They will also “Yell” when…."

At this point Raiju pulls out her Tarot Card, and forces a mana surge at the card (much like the batteries she previously has had experience with). The card suddenly explodes with burst of magical energy, hitting us like a battering ram. Each of us in kind blacks out, and open our eyes to see a street outside a habstack….we blink our eyes and come to back in the hotel room. After collecting ourselves, we see the card has been destroyed. Rune freaks out, “What are ya thinking!” Raiju explains about her previous encounter with batteries similar to this, and says, “Well, at least we know they can be destroyed!”

“Before being so rudely interrupted, I was trying to explain about the Cards,” Rune continues in a huff. “The most important thing is the Joker cards. After the maliciousness at the carnival I have to set things right. The keys and a card can close tha doors, but the keys belong to one person only. And to close tha doors battle will most likely ensue. Other people from just down the way are coming. Some to do what’s right, some to do wrong.” I press him, “Who are the ones trying to do harm?” He replies, “The Seelie, they are stealing doorways and hurting whomever are attached to them. We have to do what’s right.”

With that we told him we would help him, but he needs to be more open with us about what is going on. He agrees to contact the people he is working with, to get us an invitation. We tell him about Sledge and the box, and he says maybe his “friends” can help. We decide to go back to the bar, to see what the others want to do. When we get back to the Ubermensch we find Slim is in no state to accompany us, and he says he can take care of himself. We give him our contact info, and leave with Floyd to find a place to hide out and rest for the moment. The rest of what happens can be found in the Faith and Begorrah post.

View
Regrouping with Rune
Where we settle up with some unsettling info

Leaving the room with the Harlequin Jacques, we step back through some of the rooms we had just came through, and the corpses of the ogre-things we killed had disappeared. The evidence suggests that they up and walked off. Also, Floyd picks up what looks to be a small puzzle box that has several ley line threads connecting to it.

We decide to leave the Fun House and return to a bar to regroup and meet with Rune. The knowledge from the Harlequin coupled with our new dilemma, we felt like we needed some information. We drop back to a dive bar to wait for Rune, who eventually arrives.

Slim wants to know from Rune about getting paid, because we encountered a jester spirit and tarot cards and other mages and such. We closed a portal, but not the portal.

We want an explanation, and Rune provides the following: “There were things that happened, that happened in the past. To me. To others. These cards, the tarot cards, they are strange magic, no?” Looking at Sledge, Rune said, “At any rate, I believe you are not one that understands the magic.”

“There are other things from other dimensions that are searching for these cards. I still do not understand what they are or where they come from. There seems to be many sides. The cards themselves are just one means, one aspect of the games they play. They have these keys, too. Each of these keys open doorways. They constantly battle for these doorways. I do not understand why, and the people I have come to trust do not explain to me.”

We tell Rune we have keys, and he is surprised.

“You can use keys to open a portal.”

“You are all in grave danger. You have keys, and you have cards, therefore you are now a part of their games, what they refer to as the Frivolous Battles.”

“I came to understand these cards in a dangerous way. When I was much younger, a carnival came to my town, and I visited a fortune teller there. I didn’t believe in fortune tellers. She drew a card, not a normal tarot card, but a card of a jester. When she drew that card, it caused a terrible spark to come from her hand. It opened a door to a strange place, and it came to take over the carnival. I tried to stop them, I tried to summon spirits to help, but I could not. Now, I have a card, but I thought I had gotten rid of it. I thought I had destroyed it. I don’t have the card now, but when I did, it would do terrible things.

“The spirits you have encountered come from the fey plane. There is a house on that plane that wants all of the jester cards and tries to get them back.

“We thought, according to the lore, that if you took another true tarot card and cover the joker card, that it would destroy the card. We thought it had, but we could be wrong.”

Per Rune, there are six joker cards, and three have been found. Rune does not want them to all be reunited. Rune has heard of a family called the Jekelle that seeks the cards, which is the family that we were talking to when we were talking to the Harlequin. This is the family that Rune experienced at the carnival.

Rune has heard of a gypsy woman who could make her own tarot cards, where she could draw an image on paper and empower it. These are not the same as true tarot.

Rune says that, from the people he works for, that if all six jokers are united, then the spirits come for all of the terrible people, which is everybody.

Slim pressed about the money. Rune paid us another 1500 creds on individual sticks.

Rune brushed his hands together and took another pull off of his drink. “I cannot ask you to do more. However, you are now part of the frivolous battles. You are now in danger. The Jakelle family knows of you. We should work together to help each other and close the portal. I tried to shield you from this. I have been told that if you say things a certain way, that if affects how the keys for you. The less we say, the better. The power of our words empowers these keys.”

Only three times prior to this that the joker cards appeared. Rune was the third time. This portal is the fourth.

While looking around astrally, both Floyd and Raiju notice that there appears to be some leprechauns and a portal in the bar. At this point, we have a decision to make: do we continue to help Rune, or do we help the Harlequin, or do we go on the BTL chip run that Sledge keeps suggesting. or do we find something completely different to work on?

(GM note: +2 karma for this session.)

View
The Fun Continues
Blasting our way through the Fun House

We continue the fight through the former brothel, fighting off a couple additional cyber-modified ogre creatures and an elf mage. We gunned down a couple ogre creatures. Slim banished a flame spirit that appeared, which Sledge tried to go toe-to-toe with using one of the daggers/pens that Rune gave us. The elf pulled an alabaster key from his robe and opened a portal to a lush forested area. He escaped through the portal. We wounded the elf before he got away. One of the ogre creatures, also wounded, also escaped through the portal.

Searching the area, we find several shamanic circles in different rooms. Raiju finds a lot of paper-written work notes, journal entries, etc., but nothing worth keeping or worrying about.

Keep on searching, and we come across a Harlequin in a locked room of the brothel. He gives us a name, not his name, but we can call him Jacques. We decide he is a perfect source for questions (apparently we amuse him):

Who is Auran? Harlequin answers that he is a legend.

Why is Auran’s name appear in writing in another tree? He is a well-known legend.

The guys we just fought and chased through the portal that we closed, are they associated with the Unseelie Court? Harlequin says he doesn’t think they get along, those guys and the Unseelie Court.

The special keys will open any door but can only close one.

Jacques tells us a story about Rylain and Gouwin. Rylain and Gouwin: “I give you the key to my heart. It will open many doors, but once a door has been closed, my heart will break. And a new card will be turned over in our chapter.”

The cards are powerful: they allow you to see the future, summon powerful spirits, even escape death. Some believe they herald in the coming of Shangri-la, a fine era. An era that needs to take place if the frivolous battles are ever to end.

The frivolous battles started some time ago. They have been fought however long. All they ever do is cost, cost, cost; all they do is hurt people. They only ever drag people into schemes.

The Seelie and Unseelie Courts wage these battles. These battles have generated so many stories. And yet these battles come at a cost. So many people have fallen to these battles.

Harlequin has a brother, Jacoby, who is missing. Jacques would like us to find him. We are two sides of the same coin. My brother has run away. He is a traitor. He doesn’t believe we can end the frivolous battles. I don’t know where he has gone. However, I have a card that can tell us more about his whereabouts. However the card hasn’t been activated. Perhaps you can activate the card. He would like us to bring him back alive.

Harlequin seems to be consistent with a being who is from the Seelie Court. There are portals to the Seelie Court in Tir nanog and Tir Tairngire. The Unseelie Court people do not know about and do not even know if it is real or not.

Everyone takes a card from the Harlequin except Floyd.

  • King of Cups (Slim): Indulgent, and fancies, or is it an addiction? Is my brother indulging in a whim or is he being compelled by this king?
  • King of Batons (Wyrd): King is sullen, serious, boring. Perhaps my brother is somehow in league with this king or become this king.
  • Four of Batons (Raiju): This card is death, but not of all things. It represents the death of nature, the death of something… noble. Perhaps my brother seeks to kill this king. Perhaps my brother seeks to kill another.
  • Discipline (Sledge): This is a very powerful card. This card holds sway over all the other suits and forces them to maintain their present course. It can be an asset to those who wield it wisely, and it can be a terrible judge. Perhaps my brother seeks to destroy this king and seeks Discipline seeks an army.

Each person who takes a card, it appears that the card becomes charged.

Will we help him with finding his brother? He has promised us favor with his family, and his family name is Jekelle.

We are not allowed to close the portal where all the ley lines are draining through. That would make us very terrible enemies. His family has been trying to come back, and he has come back to carry out his most notable and important mission.

We ask to leave and discuss among ourselves to make a decision. He said that’s fine and that we will see each other again when we are ready to make the right decision. We leave, and he is juggling cards as we leave.

(GM note: +3 karma for this session.)

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Your Old Buddy
Wherein we find out just how close old friends are

-<<HEADER DAMAGED: .03 Mp CORRUPTED>>
From: Your Old Buddy
To: [RECIPIENT LIST MASKED]

<<<<<(Hoi, pal, long time, no speak! Look, I know it has been awhile, but there are some happenings going down here in the Pacific Northwest that need more than my mind working on them. This is a level of seriousness that has caused me to reach out, and you know your old buddy, I wouldn’t be contacting you if the situation wasn’t serious. You game? I need your help. I’ll drop you the coordinates in a separate message. Never can be too careful these days. Can’t wait to see you and catch up. It’ll be just like old times. But better! You can trust your old buddy on that.)>>>>>
    —Rune (21:51:32/02-10-75)

<<END MESSAGE>>

If we hadn’t read it with our own eyes, we wouldn’t have believed it. After all these years, Rune crawls out from whatever rock he was under and contacts us. He drops the coordinates of a club in Seattle called Dub Kultur where he wants to meet. Who knows how many people he sent this message to?

The batch of suckers that answered the call consisted of a troll mage named Floyd, an orc street samurai named Sledge, an elf named Raiju, another human named Wyrd, and a human mystic adept named Slim. Some of us knew select others and introductions were made all-around as we awaited Rune to emerge from Dub Kultur’s gambling den. When he did, he was still the same smiling, smarmy, southern huckster we all knew.

“Friends! How is everyone this evening?! Can I get anyone a drink?” It was the opener we all expected. No one took him up on his offer. “Well,” he said, licking his lips, “I can see the reunion is short-lived.” Raiju said, “You’ve been gambling for hours while we’ve been out here in the bar waiting on you!” Rune replied, “Look, I have a line on craps game back there, and you know how it is. It’s not like I abandoned y’all here.” No one seemed particularly moved.

“So let’s get right to it,” Rune followed on. “I’ve got a problem. Well, the world has a problem, and before it hits the major news networks, we have to stop it. A portal has opened up. I’m not sure how it happened, or where it goes, or what might be coming through it, but my gut tells me it’s all bad. So before anything too terrible happens, I need someone to go there and close it.”

We ask, “Why us?”

Rune continued, “Well, it is a delicate matter. I need people that I can trust, you know? People who are handy with the steel and the mana, if you know what I mean. This is more a job for mana and minds than metal. Look, we don’t have a lot of time. I need y’all to move on this pronto. While we sit here talking, that portal is fetching to boil over.”

“Again, why us? Why don’t you just go yourself? You’re a mage.” (This was mostly Raiju.)

Rune responded, “I… can’t. I can’t get into the details. I just can’t go.”

Raiju pressed, “You could come with us. You know, help us close the portal.”

Rune responded, “Yeah… about that: no can do. Right now, I don’t think my presence would help the situation, so I need others to go in there and handle this.”

“Look,” said Raiju, “if you can’t help us by going, can you at least give us something that will help?”

Rune paused a minute and thought, then said, “Yeah… I can do that. Give me a few hours, and I will meet you back here. I will bring something that will help you….” His voice trailed off.

“What about the rest of us? What’s in it for the rest of us?” said Sledge.

“You mean other than helping your old friend out?” Rune said with a wry smile. Sledge was unphased. Rune shook his head. “How about 3000 nuyen apiece?” he asked.

“How about half upfront?” Slim asked.

“Sure, sure. Half now and half when the job is done seems fair to me,” Rune said. Downing the rest of his drink, Rune clapped his hands together and said he would return.

Several hours pass. While we all waited for Rune to return, Sledge put out the feelers with his contacts for something to help him with the upcoming magic run. He got a line on a drug called Tempo, which was supposed to be able to make the juicer be able to see into the astral plane. He purchased several doses for 200 nuyen. The rest of us contemplated the offer and discussed our connections to Rune. Eventually, Rune returned and offered us all cred sticks with 1500 nuyen each and a box containing three pens.

A collective “Huh?” went around the group at the sight of the pens.

“These should help you with whatever you might encounter at the Fun House,” Rune said.

One pen was hot to the touch of all but Sledge. The others were harder to identify. “How are these supposed to help us? And what is the Fun House?” asked Floyd.

“Oh, I think some of you are already familiar with the Fun House,” Rune said. “It is a place in the Puyallup Barrens. That is where the portal can be found. Take these with you. You will see how they are useful.”

We piled into the two cars we had at our disposal and took off for the Puyallup Barrens. In the barrens, we were first greeted by a gang who decided to block our paths through, demanding we give them the cars or else. We tried to reason with them, telling them that we were magic users on a mission to save the world. They didn’t believe us, but, really, it sounded plausible when we said it to them. So, we had to “show them some magic”, so Raiju launched the van that was blocking our path straight into the air about 100 feet. While it was coming back down, we drove under it and proceeded on our way. The go-gangers were dumbfounded and didn’t pursue.

When we got to The Fun House, the place looked like it had seen better times. A large hole in the west wall had been blown out, and the building looked like it had been the target of a violent explosion. Astrally, we could see a ley line nexus on the second floor of the building. Definitely a lot of magical energy around here….

Sledge dosed himself with some Tempo and we all moved in on the location. We decided to skip the front door and go in through the hole in the wall, encountering the corpse of a woman laying in a bathtub having been drained of blood. There were also some strange-looking ogre-like creatures. We illed two of them as we made our way inside the place.

(GM note: +3 karma for this session.)

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Sax-O-What????
Everyone Needs Nuyen or How I Met Your Mother

Everyone needs to make a little extra nuyen every now and then, and, sometimes, you just need to impress people so you can repaint your custom Yahmaha Kaburaya racing bike.

After receiving a message from Mr. Johnson (aka, that elf guy). Kalen, Raiju and Sax-o-clock meet at local Seattle mage bar, Dub Kultur, to learn about a job. It was supposed to be a simple milk run (it always is…): go pick up some BTL chips (from the mob) and deliver them to a new location. Easy-peasy, right? One catch: the pickup location is in Payullup. Sax-o-clock, who was going by the moniker of Dookie Shoes at the time, tried to take public transportation, but we decided to take Raiju’s car instead.

We ran into some resistance from the local Latino gangs who are getting muscled out by the Yakuza. However, we arrived at the Carew St. pickup location. Somehow, we were able to sneak into the the area. Raiju called in a favor from a decker contact to deal with the security and used her mojo to keep herself and Sax silent. We enter into what looks like a Japanese tea house and hostess club . Kalen hides in the rafters and waits. We don’t wait long before a Yak walks out of the bathroom. Kalen waits, and then pounces, breaking the Yak’s neck. After that another Yak walks in the room and sees what happened and begins shooting, alerting other Yaks to our presence. Sax (Dookie Shoes) breaks out the Sax-a-gun and opens fire, killing all.

Eventually, we get to the second floor where we find the satchel of BTL chips and try to escape. Raiju decides to toy with and confuse the Yaks with magic, casting a spell that causes everyone to hallucinate. Sax notices a strange card poking out of one of the dead Yak’s pockets and picks it up. About that time, all of us mojos start hearing creepy circus music, and these strange creature emerge out of nohwere and start randomly killing anyone they see. The crew takes the chips and splits after calling Bernie the cab driver to pick them up and take them to the drop location.

Bernie arrives and gets crew, on the way Raiju convinces Sax to let her take the card so that she can do some research on it. Sax agrees. Bernie drops them off at drop point. Kalen, Sax and Raiju’s spidey senses start tingling. Raiju, nearly passes out in Bernie’s cab and calls a contact to pick her up….

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Bullets In The Club
And the wet work truly begins

Incoming message…
… Authenticating sender ID.
… Sender ID Spoofed.
… Downloading message.
Set mode to View.

Sent: Today, 2318 hrs
By: Smiley
To: Moses

Hoi, chummer! I got a hot tip on some cold shit, man. Horizon Wiretech sold you out. There’s a bounty posted on you by some Johnson over on the Jackpoint VPN. Word is a wet team of runners is already en route to your location. Let your old pal know your coordinates, and I’ll be your backup.

<<END MESSAGE>>

Nothing like an old friend sending a message like that in the middle of a mission to complicate matters. Moses dropped Smiley the coordinates and asked about how much time he had. Smiley dropped another message about the runners have some sort of trace on Moses and that they would be there in five to ten minutes.

Moses got on the comms and let Sp3xx and Annie know that another runner team was coming in hot to take them all out, so we need to make a bid on this or jack out. Annie chimed in with how perfect the situation was that another runner team was coming in so we could possibly make it look like they did it. However, we would need to take Nesmith out here, at the club, and do it ourselves just to be sure. She pressed Sp3xx to get back into the host and get her on the VIP directory so she could get into the VIP room, and Moses pressed Sp3xx to get back into the host and get control of the cameras. In the meantime, Moses dropped another message to Smiley giving him the layout and telling him to meet him in the loading dock.

So the new plan: Annie would get into the VIP room through the front door and get a lay of the land and let everyone know what was happening. Sp3xx would get control of the cameras and security so we could keep the situation as low-key as possible. Moses would swing around back through the back halls with a security tuxedo on and come in to the VIP room through the back door. Once everyone was in position, we’d wax Nesmith. When Smiley arrived, he could stick around outside and cover our escape in case the other team arrived.

Sp3xx was still running hot in the club’s host as the Cheshire Cat. Hacking on the fly, he combs his way through to the VIP directory file and proceeds to crack the file. With a few more keystrokes, he pulls up Annie’s SIN entry and upgrades her to VIP status. A golden clipboard in the host appears, spins around with the letters “VIP” glowing on it, and then vanishes again. Sp3xx announces that Annie has received an in-flight upgrade to first-class and she should proceed to her new seating immediately.

Annie and Moses get on the move. Annie picks up her covered trays of “food” and proceeds to enter the VIP room. She is stopped by the security in the room at the door. Meanwhile, Moses gets back to the locker room and finds a poorly-fitting tuxedo uniform with the name tag “Andrew Jackson”. He makes his way toward the loading dock doors after changing.

Smiley, of course, is on his way.

Annie attempts to talk her way around the guard. He insists she cannot enter into the VIP room with the covered trays. It is club policy that only a waiter or club employee bring food into the room. He would be glad to take the trays back to the kitchen.

Sp3xx turns his attention to taking control of the cameras and runs his brute forcer program to no avail. A pit boss suit notices something amiss and gets a mark on him. A golden handcuff appears on the Cheshire Cat.

Smiley arrives and, parking his truck in an alley off the street near the back of the club, rounds up his arsenal and jogs to the loading dock doors.

Moses arrives at the loading dock doors and proceeds to open them. As the doors get about halfway up, Moses notices a guard strolling in his direction. Instead of letting Smiley in, Moses puts a hand on him and pushes him out as Moses also steps out, closing the loading dock door behind them. Mentioning the guard, Moses and Smiley make a move around the corner and toward a different loading dock door to make an entry. Moses comms in to everyone he is on the move; Sp3xx needs to take over the cameras.

Annie cannot seem to get the guard to budge on his position about the trays, so she does the only sensible thing – she flips the tray, grabs both guns from the air, forces her way in and starts shooting!

Moses sneaking with Smiley attempting, using the employee maglock passkey, scans the key and gets through the second loading dock doors and into a different loading dock into the club. Fortunately, no one is currently in the loading dock as they enter. Hearing gunfire over the comms, they quickly assess the building layout and make for a door to the hallway running down the back of the VIP room.

Sp3xx is scanning fast through the system, looking for a way to get a mark on the cameras, but the encryption key keeps changing before he can get it dialed in. The Rock ‘em Sock ’em robots have taken notice of his activities and mark him. A second golden handcuff appears on the Cheshire Cat. Before he has time to react, though, all of Sp3xx’s work has drawn the attention of the GODs, who decided to forcibly eject Sp3xx from the host.

Bursting in to the VIP room, guns blazing, Annie spies Nesmith with Candy and Sandy on a couch in the lounge. Seeing her guns, the security guards react, shooting gel rounds in her direction. Shooting starts and Annie tags a guard with a round while also getting shot with a gel round. Gunplay rouses the assembled patrons, who begin to scream and flee for cover as the alarm goes up.

Moses and Smiley can hear the gunfire over the comms and yell for Sp3xx to get back into the host and get control of the cameras. Also, pulling up the floor plan for the club, Moses and Smiley map out a route through the loading dock in the far corner of the club they are about to enter to the VIP lounge. There is a hallway that runs directly from the dock to the employee rear entrance to the lounge that they will enter through. All they have to do is avoid a single security camera/sentry gun.

Groggy and running cold, Sp3xx got back into the club’s host. Once again, the golden lights of the casino dazzle him. Finding a seat at the far end of the bar, he gives the wink and the nod to a cocktail waitress before getting back to the scheduled… program. Dialing up the schematic he saved, he started poking and prodding for a way back into the system. Launching a dictionary attack on what looked like a chandelier but was actually an array of sensors and cameras, he tried unsuccessfully to take control of the system. Not running silent due to time pressure, he knew his actions were going to attract attention, and they did. Tuxedoed pit bosses and Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots started scanning the crowd.

Meanwhile, gunfire blazed away in the VIP room. The orc escorts pulled guns and started firing on Annie, clipping her. Nesmith stumbled and crawled toward the nearest piece of furniture looking for cover.

Stepping into the hallway, Smiley launched a small grenade from his under-barrel grenade launcher right past the panicked guests streaming into the hallway and into the sentry gun at the end of it, blowing a hole wide open to the street outside. The screams from the guests that followed were punctuated with more gunfire as Smiley unleashed a hail of bullets down the hallway, dropping two security guards who had come from the VIP room and were making their way toward him. Moses bolted from behind Smiley and sprinted down the hall toward the VIP room in an effort to both head Nesmith off before he got away and to help out Annie. Coming through the door, Predator drawn, Moses drills Nesmith center mass with a single APDS round. Nesmith fell back, gasping for mercy, saying, “I can help you! I’m an important man! I know things!”

Security guards fell back to the stage in the VIP room, taking shots at the runners and missing. Candy and Sandy retreated to the stage as well with other patrons, leaving Nesmith in favor of self-preservation.

Sp3xx downed a virtual martini. He could hear over the comm from Moses to either get control over the camera system or at least wipe the tape. Continuing to apply pressure on the camera system, Sp3xx attempted to gain full control and failed. Feeling a tap on his shoulder, a pit boss latched a golden cuff over his wrist, gaining a mark on Sp3xx.

Annie found some cover, dropped to one knee, and fired a single shot into Nesmith, ending his life. Gel rounds from the security glanced off her cover, but we got what we came for.

Moses caught the falling body of Nesmith and started dragging him from the VIP room toward the new exit Smiley created. Smiley decided to gun down the other camera at the end of the hall before making his way out. Annie soon got around to following Moses and Smiley out. They all made for Annie’s car in the parking garage, blending in with the screaming masses streaming from the club. With the runners taking off, security decided a live firefight was beyond their paygrade and fell back.

Sp3xx darted to a new position in the virtual casino and launched yet another dictionary attack on the host’s camera system. However, the encryption key proved elusive, and he once again failed to get a mark on the system. However, the pit bosses had definitely taken notice of Sp3xx and ran their own attack program on him. Sp3xx diverted his attention from the camera system long enough to avoid a second mark. Circulating around the club, Sp3xx got call over the comm from Moses. “I’m a little busy right now, Pops. It’s not like I’m typing a spreadsheet here.” Moses explained that everyone was making for the car and that he had to wipe the feed, and if Sp3xx couldn’t wipe the feed, then we’d all be getting our next job at MacDuffy’s after a long stint behind bars. Sp3xx got back to hacking on the fly, acquiring a mark on the camera system and gaining access to the video feed. In the virtual world of the host, a waitress came by and dropped a stack of cash beside him. Continuing with the hack, Sp3xx was able to pull the video feed up and wipe it. In the host, Sp3xx set the stack of cash on fire. With that, a Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robot dropped a second golden manacle on him. It was with the second manacle that Sp3xx ejected himself from the host, sustaining the shock of the ejection and reviving in the car as the others arrived.

Piling in Annie’s vehicle, Smiley had us take him around back to his truck, so we pulled around into the alley away from the chaos of the front. Given that we hadn’t seen this other runner team yet, we asked Sp3xx if he could scan the car and the area for any tracers or tags. Sure enough, through his scan, Sp3xx picked up a tracer tag on the shotgun microphone we picked up originally from the Johnson. Using an eraser, we burned it out. While we were sitting there for a few seconds waiting to see who might exit the club in case we needed to prepare for more security guards, a large van pulled up and a small crew with some serious hardware exited, running into the club. They didn’t look like Knight Errant, and we knew some Knight Errant guys were on their way in addition to the other runner team. However, they did leave a nice van parked outside, and we needed a place to put Nesmith’s body, or at least something to put his body in and then drop off in the orc neighborhood and make it look like an “accident”….

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Fools Rush In
Well, more like carefully infiltrate....

With Nesmith entering the Silver Fools, we are left with either waiting to take him in transit again, as per the original plan, or trying to take him in the club. Obviously, we know why he is there. However, there is no reason he should be there, really. It is unlikely that his finances add up to not one but two busty orc escorts in a high-class night club in the ritzy part of town. We decide we need to get eyes on this situation. Given that we do not have a lot of time with this mission anyhow, it could be this is more than just a meeting for some pleasurable company.

We park in the parking garage and have Sp3xx jack in to the grid to find out any intel on the building layout, get control of the cameras, and find out where Nesmith is hanging out. Sp3xx makes short work of the host, gaining the building layout and camera layout rather handily, which he transmits to both Moses’s and Annie’s comms. However, gaining access to the cameras was much more difficult. Sp3xx had to change personas several times throughout the course of gaining access to the cameras, all the while arousing the attention of the IC. He was eventually able to hide for a time as the Monopoly Man before having to drop out from the host to avoid getting marked too many times. Cameras were a no-go.

With the building layout in our possession, Annie decided she was going in to scout the floor and see what she could see. If the decker couldn’t help tracking Nesmith through the complex, then we could still, at least, put real eyes on him. As part of her plan, Annie stealthily guns down a woman using her silenced gun in the parking garage, nearly killing her. Taking her armored evening gown and credstick, she changes into her new disguise and gets into the club with 250 credits paid. (The body of the unconscious woman was left under a blanket in the parking garage with a slap patch over the wound.) Annie checked her gun at the door and proceeded to the main club floor in search of Nesmith. Over the comm she requested Moses bring in some of her other guns from the car. Sp3xx was going to remain in the vehicle down low in the backseat and get back into the Matrix hot this time. We need those cameras, and Sp3xx was the only one who could gain access to them. With Sp3xx in the back, Moses took off around the back to the loading dock to gain entry to the complex.

With Annie in the front and Sp3xx in the Matrix host, Moses made his way through the weak maglock at the loading dock and sneaked into the locker room with Annie’s additional weaponry. Acquiring a waiter uniform, Moses passed the security room, noting two armed tuxedoed guards and three deckers monitoring the cameras and alarms. Lifting a couple covered dishes from the kitchen nearby, Moses slipped Annie’s guns under the covers and carried them out to her. Dropping them at her table, he circled back to the locker room to change clothes again, lifting a few credsticks and maglock passkeys for the complex.

From Annie scanning around, it was obvious Nesmith was no where on the main floor, which only left the VIP room. Dialing up Sp3xx over the comm, his next move was to be getting Annie on the VIP directory to get her access to the VIP room so she could scout it out for Nesmith. Also, he needed to get control of the cameras! Popping back in to the Matrix host as with a Cheshire Cat persona, Sp3xx got to work.

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