This is the Hour of Jack
|This is the Hour of Jack
|Part of Hail to the Pumpking
Pump King Jack
|Casualties and losses
|More stress for Kate than last year
|Contracted Mages, Shiawase Spec Ops
Sophocles celebrates Halloween again. More of the same from last year. Kate almost dies, Babylon does cool magic, Swerve almost dies, and Shy continues to be the smooth, professional operator she is.
Events in Sophocles have been strange to say the least. Abductions, strange spirits, astral gateways. All of this leads up to Halloween.
The Runners are contacted by Bone Daddy. Kate and Babylon know the routine by now. But Swerve and Shy get to join them this year. As they get to Sophocles Bone Daddy says it's pretty much the same tune as last year. He has prepared a dossier of threats and information for them. Babylon, Swerve, and Shy have been involved in some of the events. Kate has been working elsewhere this month.
The information is as follows:
MCT Sniper tried assassinating a Johnson that helped Bone Daddy investigate missing children; the last one at the time had gone on a violent spree in school before being expelled. He went missing afterwards and a bag-wielding lanky spirit was suspected to be responsible for the missing children.
An abandoned school in Redmond was apparently built on ancient Sioux burial grounds. Recent astral disturbances had spurred the resting dead into a frenzy. Teenagers had gone exploring the school on a dare and gone missing; simsense recordings from runners confirmed the same bag-wielding spirit rescued them from screaming, empty-eyed ghosts screaming in a classroom choir. The school is still terrifyingly haunted and extremely dangerous.
Runners discovered a potential plot for Horizon to perform a psyop on the Sophocles community council by brainwashing them in one of their Downtown spas. The Speaker has had recurring nightmares of being blinded by a searing bright light incinerating her eyeballs, emanating from the East.
A gum toad going by the name of Amerio was disrupted in the Metaplane of Man. Pumpking Jack presumably has temporary control of his spirit information network. Grand Duke Zaleos is a mysterious spirit in Sophocles controlling a spirit airport terminal that allows spirits to possess consenting metahumans for weekend visits to Seattle. MoM spirits claimed to have seen Horizon logos on the armor of metahumans ravaging heretical symbols in the metaplanes. Possible signs of a noospheric psyop?
The security details are as follows:
--- Bone Daddy's Security
Three Starscreamers + Speaker who will carry out Jack's Calling Ritual
He managed to track down a Cyberscreamer, but they seem somewhat unhinged. Limited Matrix OW.
Local spirits provided a contingency of two. They're here mostly to watch things, not interfere.
--- Potential Security Concerns
Sewers are rarely patrolled due to a lack of manpower.
People have reported that the wilted plants often rustle unnaturally like something's moving around.
Spirits complain often that they feel like they're being watched.
Speaker has had premonition dreams about being pierced by a pillar of light.
Faded signs of an unknown high-Magic astral signature was found in the area.
The team decides to show up a bit early and set up. They want to check out some of the things on the list. Going from last year, they check the sewers first. The mages make a suggestion of setting up a lodge and a ward there. First they decide to check out the immediate area.
First they decide to check out the immediate area of the sewers. Sneaking along they encounter some feral ghouls. Four were around the corner eating. Swerve tried to talk to them and ended up alerting the entire horde. Babylon turned one into a turtle, Swerve destroyed one, and Kate cut the other two in half. They decided to use the last one to distract the others. Using some mind magic they sent it away and retreated to see what would happen.
The group waited. Most ghouls went away, but some did wander into the sewers under sophocles where the group was. In the meantime they called Nameless to try to handle the horde. He shows up. He greets everyone. He is surprised to learn this is where this group of ferals were. He says he’ll handle it. He immediately begins slaughtering ghouls. Babylon is understandably concerned and takes measures to curb his enthusiasm. She puts him in a barrier and uses Vexcraft to suppress his focus sword. She then puts up a barrier to block the ghouls, and uses mob mind to make them go away. She uses her magic hands to carry Nameless, and his sword, back. Kate gets a little too curious with it and Babylon discourages her from messing with it. To which Kate is somewhat annoyed. Nameless does get turned back. He says he must take care of them, and slowly walks after them.
The group thinks on what to do next. Swerve notices an awakened pathogen in the air that isn’t HMHVV. They warn nameless and end up calling Kyra Samaras to see if she has any info. She seems concerned. She doesn’t have a lot to give them, but does warn them to be careful. Shy calls the N-51, and they send some supplies of C-Squared and equipment to help clean up an area.
Babylon and Swerve set up a magical lodge and protection circles. Shy and Kate weld the gates to the other sewer entrances shut. They begin to explore and in an abandoned lounge find a box similar to one Kate found in the LA underground. This one however lacks the Renraku iconography. Shy and Kate think about what traps may be here. Putting their knowledge of explosives together they do remember that pressure systems exist, and to be careful of traps. Fortunately there is none. Opening it reveals 2 synthskin masks and some tubes. Babylon recognizes one as Nanopaste Disguise. They requisition a nanoscanner to try and see what is in the rest. One is Sealer, and one is Nanospy. They decide to put them back and place a camera there to see what goes on. nanites.
Babylon and Swerve set up wards. Shy and Kate investigate the grounds. They constantly feel something watching them but can’t find anything. They do spot an astral signature that shy recognizes as the spirit that kidnapped the children. It was from a spirit power.
Walking around they decided to check on the decker. Who is a bug? Or appears to be a bug. Feeding the description to others they remember Chitin. The dissonant Halloweener Technomancer. They promised good support. They even put a sprite in Shy’s Desert Strike to help it out. A dissonant sprite gives it some extra juice.
They went to check on the performers. They turned out to be halloweeners. This was mostly ok. They did want to burn everything down but that is to be expected. What wasn’t expected was for Shy to give them K10. Which they immediately took. Kate told Shy that they need to leave. Like now. But a very thoughtful Babylon projected and healed and detoxed them. Crisis averted.
The ward preps are finished underground and it is beefy. Even Swerve feels somewhat safe in it. So the Runners decide to sit down for some R&R. At midnight before the event, the camera on the nanogear gets a ping. A Shiawase I-DOL comes and picks it up. Gamorrah tracks it back to its “owner”. It appears to just be some dude who accepts the bots “service”. The bot hides the box and goes back to doing stuff for the owner.
Babylon went out and collected some magical forensic evidence on this signature to use for later.
Being cheeky, they decide to look for Asahiro magically, but to no avail. Shy called Red Sonya for some professional sniper backup. Shy also calls Hextech for some more direct and overt backup The subcontracting bills are getting higher.
Kate does a matrix search looking for Asahiro. With Hextech’s ability and Gamorrah’s guidance, she managed to figure out that he was in fact in the city. He was last seen 8 hours ago in downtown at some event that Kate forgot about as soon as she read it. But the relevant info was relayed to the team.
The group decides to rest before the main event. Babylon is woken up in the morning to Gamorrah shaking her saying all the watcher spirits are gone. She checks on them and discovers that the areas have all been astrally scrubbed. They also check and notice the box is missing from the apartment.
They asked Chitin to take a look at the bot and discover its memories, but said it was formatted 5 hours ago. Chitin did techno BS and found out the command came from a R6 cyberdeck with a R3 Pitac. They all think this sounds suspicious. Kate has an inkling as to why, and remembers how Von Neumann operates. She tells Chitin that it is indeed strange and maybe he could look into it later after all this is said and done. She has a sneaking suspicion she sent the lamb into the lion's den, but doesn’t lose any sleep over it.
The time arrives. Buffs are dished out, preps are made. Babylon and Swerve decide to up the protection and ward the entire stage. This is a big undertaking. They need help, and call in a few friends including Adeptus, Sanev Beixidor, and Xyvis. Irene and Shy also help out using their magic. Kate, being almost anti-magic, stays out of it. In the end they throw up a very impressive Force 15 ward. Even Kate can almost feel it interact with the reality around it. The other mages leave except for Xyvis who stays for the festivities. Babylon and Swerve then cleanse the toxic taint from the Speaker’s crystal eyes, to which she is grateful.
The crew sets up for the festivities. People get in costumes, Babylon casts some cool magic on Kate to make her the black knight. She then dons a very cool sea witch get-up. The rest of the team prepares.
The appointed Hour
As the ritual starts the speaker begins carving the wicker man. People take up positions around the stage. Kate is booed by Irene for looking like a villain. As she cuts, Babylon casts divination. She sees some things and shares information about a few possible threats. But divination isn’t exact and they are only flickers of what might be.
Kate is on stage, Swerve is by the building, Babylon is near, and Shy is North in an offset position.
As the ritual starts Units 01,02,and 03 report movement to the south and Northwest. Red Sonya reports movement far away as well. Projecting, Swerve sees strange robed figures enter some buildings to the south.
Suddenly Shy is shot at from long range. Her magical reflexes allow her a dodge, but it is poor. She tries to fire back but struggles to shoot the target. It is hard to see them. She and Red Sonya are distracted by the snipers.
But on stage there are other issues. Those strange figures turned out to be mages, and they attempt to try and break the ward.They appear on rooftops and use combined beam attacks on it. Kate puts down her sword and draws her assault rifle to deal with them. Swerve uses astral combat on them, and Babylon throws Chaos in their faces.
Eventually the mages are dealt with, but not before breaking the ward. It did its job, but now the real threat comes.
As Shy and Red Sonya deal with the sniper team, one of Babylon’s divination predictions comes true. A giant beam of light comes straight for the speaker. But Kate, being Kate, says not today. She dives in front of it and takes Asahiro’s arrow. At that moment in time, she contemplates all her life decisions that led to this moment and wonders if it was truly worth it. She survives both the arrow, and the spell prepped into it. Barely. She is thrown off the stage unconscious. Swerve and Babylon do everything they can to deter further shots. Swerve casts a giant gravity well, and they use physical barriers and illusions to attempt to block and misdirect shots. Asahiro does go after Gammorah as well, which causes Babylon to get more than a little upset.
As this happens the Halloweeners start torching things. They don’t really help, but also aren’t doing that much harm.
At this point Kate and Shy take off to go try and deal with Asahiro. Kate is seething, and wants to kill this man. But she also knows that no matter her skill, she probably can’t. But they can try to distract him and allow the ritual to finish.
As they travel, Swerve’s fire spirit is violently disrupted. Something unseen cut it in half. Swerve then summons an air spirit as more backup. With a very thorough look Babylon notices the unseen figure. It appears to be a murder machine out of our nightmares. Babylon tries to pinpoint it exactly with clever use of spell shaping and barriers.
Around this time Swerve notices a strange figure in the bushes observing it all. They appear to have a scythe and pink hair. Swerve is untrustworthy of strangers, though, and has some plans for them.
Kate and Shy continue to drive closer. They take a winding route to try and get as much cover from Asahiro as they can.
Back at the ritual, the predator-assassin thing continues to move towards the speaker. Babylon continues her barrier shenanigans. They are actually quite effective. They also notice Asahiro switches targets to the predator. The predator takes the hits much better than Kate. But getting hit does break his dual concealment.
At that point Swerve decides she has had enough. She mind controls the predator, who doesn’t manage to resist. His command is to attack the strange figure in the bushes. This does take the predator out of the fight. Soon, though, she gets a feeling of the hairs on the back of her neck rising. She had retreated into the building for safety. She feels more than sees the magic. Ina split second, she dives out of the way as a radiant beam of pure sunlight crashes down on her last location. Even dodging, it feels uncomfortable to have been this close to it. She saw no one who could have been a spotter, and wondered how something like this could have happened. She retreats down into the underground magical fortress.
Kate and Shy manage to get near the building. And they run right into a Shiawase ambush. As Kate runs around to try and kill them, Shy uses much more precision. Unfortunately, due to her hubris, Kate does get caught in the open and takes quite a few automatic blasts. She tries to run around a corner, and is forced around a monowire barrier. This puts her out in the open again, and she gets hit again. At this point she is questioning her life choices again. Shy is hiding in a building shooting outside of it, being the more tactical one.
The predator follows its commands, and pursues the pink haired figure. They decide to run, and jump on a motorcycle and speed away. The predator follows. Now it is gone.
As this happens the ritual is complete. Jack possesses the wicker man and greets everyone. Confused as to the chaos around him, he does prudently grab the speaker and run into the building.
Babylon and Swerve send some spirits to help Kate and Shy escape. As they all get back to Sophocles they are greeted by jack. He moves on with the presentation he has prepared.
Jack says that he has a plan to let people travel into the metaplanes, for a short time. Along with this he can allow spirits into our world, hitching a ride on willing participants. He rambles on about how safe it is, and how consent will be important. He also says he has a business partner in this.
And suddenly Grand Duke Zaleos appears on stage. Babylon and Swerve have appropriately unimpressed reactions to this.
Jack also reveals that he himself took safety precautions for this year’s festival. On stage, the abductor spirit appears. This time Shy recognizes it. Jack states that he had all the children spirited away to safety, just in case. As the abductor opens its bag, the missing children spill out.
After these big reveals, Kate tells Babylon that she needs to have a talk with her son, and prepares for the festivities.
The Halloweeners do their act. Irene does a very impressive acrobatic demonstration of juggling. The speaker even gets in on it and sings while playing a ukulele.
Halloween was saved again by our heroes. Asahiro remains a thorn in their side. Questions are raised as to why he takes such an interest in this ritual. It seems like something so small for someone of his stature.
All’s well that ends well. Until next Halloween my friends!
(Semiprime, 14 Hours, 35 RVP x 2.33 = 82 RVP)
30 Karma due to eating Jack's pumpkin pie (30 RVP)
14 CDP due to encountering fucked up shit (6 RVP)
12,000 Nuyen each from BD and Sophocles' Community's bounty fund (6 RVP)
-2,000 Nuyen due to Hextech demanding 10%
-3750 Nuyen due to paying Red Sonya
-1 Karma paid to Adeptus the gremlin
Optional Contacts: Pumpking Jack at 5/1 and Hextech at 4/1 (5 RVP/10 CDP and 4 RVP/8 CDP respectively)
Rewards for Kate:
Tough As Nails 2 and 3 because girl don't quit in the face of 6 CFAs (20 RVP)
Will To Live 3 due to being a sigma female (18 RVP)
2 Karma because of pie (2 RVP)
Rewards for Babylon:
2,800 Black Magic Reagents (12 RVP)
Poor Link due to Jack's Blessing guarding her aura (8 RVP)
Renaissance Ritualist due to ritual experience (8 RVP)
Gifted Healer due to learning how to panic heal Kate (2 RVP)
Healer for the same reason (10 RVP)
Rewards for Swerve:
Aptitude because Jack wants to help her reach her maximum potential (14 RVP)
20 Karma because Jack demands she tries the Bloody Pumpkin Spice Latte (20 RVP)
12 CDP (6 RVP)
Rewards for Shy:
Tough As Nails 3 due to eating sniper fire to the face (15 RVP)
Perceptive 2 because fucking OpFor kept hiding from her sight (10 RVP)
Quick Healer because Jack's pumpkin pie accelerates her metabolism (3 RVP)
24,000 Nuyen because the N-51 gets a spirit helping out in the field hospital with Heal spells while possessing a local Sophocles resident every weekend (12 RVP)
Babylon : "Do you ever worry about Shy and Kate blowing themselves up?"
Swerve : "Why would I worry about that?"
Babylon : "Well. Because they're. You know. Like that."
Swerve : "Well uh, Shy, I can see. But she could probably kill herself in lots of ways."
Thick Tony and Tom Joe (Halloweeners), to Shy and Kate: "You seem like you two appreciate cool drugs."
Player After Action Reports (AARs)
Halloween again in Sophocles. Same old danger, same old Shiawase. Asahiro took a more direct role in the festivities this year it seems. One day, I will fight him for it. I know how that will turn out, but the fight will be legendary!
Jack needs a talking to about his choices. Some things don't add up. Babylon seems to know more, and she is the best one to handle all of this. Seeing Swerve and Shy and Babylon again was great! Hopefully next year we won't have this problem.
Sometimes i wonder...How i end up in there, doing such wild thing. But in the end i'm always glad to be a part of all of this... Never thought i would have such a thrill for Halloween.
Did got eight stitches from this sniper team but i made sure that they reap the whirlwind. That rush throught the street with Kate was kinda scary, but well i made sure that Bishamonten would be proud of me. In the end we claimed victory.
As for Jack's shenanigan, it's not really stuff where i could act...Not yet at the very least...Let's hope we can find a solution.
Another year, another eventful Halloween. Once again Shiawase troubles the poor people of this accursed neighborhood, and once again disaster was narrowly averted - myriad disasters, as it happens. The maniacs tried ritual magic, releasing an invisible killer into the crowd, and a super adept with sniper-rifle range arrows, and they still couldn't kill that Speaker woman. I freely credit my comrades - even the banshee, much as it pains me to say it - for their valor in all of this. Kate and Shy didn't manage to get themselves killed, though there was no lack of trying. One hopes that next year will be less eventful, but somehow I doubt it.