Friday, 29 January 2021
Silent Legions solo - Part 9: The truth, mostly
[Q: Any problems? Unlikely (5+): O4 C8 - no.]
Yaiza takes shorthand notes of everything they discuss. Elgin finally gets back about 7pm, his hand wrapped in bandages. Yaiza still wants to hear his tale, so they order curry and continue the discussions.
Cat's mobile rings whilst they're waiting on the food to arrive. It's DI Wang. Cat ducks into the kitchen for sliver of privacy, not that they can't all hear her every word.
"We should meet," says Mary.
"Aw, hun, I can't make it tonight... really hung over from yesterday still -- or maybe I should say, 'from this morning'... I'll text you tomorrow.... kiss, kiss!" She hangs up and returns to the front room.
"Who was that?" asks Yaiza.
"Just a girl."
[Persuade 5+: 2d6+0=8, success]
Yaiza is too busy rolling her eyes to notice any deception on Cat's part.
[Cat, Amit, and Elgin recover 2hp each overnight; A&E are back to full, but Elgin's hand is out of commission for the next 4 weeks; Cat up to 5/7hp].
Cat texts DI Wang back before passing out for the night (and sleeping through most of the afternoon). They agreed to a late meeting in a pub by [roll on London hexmap] Bethnal Green.
Paranoia is starting to get the better of them, and they decide that Cat shouldn't go to her meeting alone.
Elgin is on too many anti-biotics to want to go out drinking, so stays home. Amit sets out after Cat to keep an eye one the situation, shadowing her at a distance to make sure no one following. He's made arrangements to meet some friends in the same pub so he doesn't look odd drinking alone. He's got Gerrit's Browning; Cat goes unarmed.
[Amit's Wis/Perception roll 2d6+0=10
Q: Is anyone following? Unlikely (5+): O5 C1 - yes, and... 1d3=1 person, d6=m
Q: Affiliation? 1d20: 1-12 Circle, 13-15 Star, 16-17 police, 18-20 other: d20=Circle
Q: Armed? 50/50 (4+): O3 C6 - no.
Q: Is she being followed to the tube or out of it? 1d2=to
Type/stats (1d12): 1-5 cultist, 6-7 cult enforcer, 8-10 the petty cult NPC, 11-12 the important cult NPC, 1; d12=3
Cultist's Dex/Stealth 2d6+0=9, spotted
Cat's Wis/Perception: 2d6+1=10]
Cat is scarcely 100m out the front door when Amit texts her, 'ur being followed'.
She texts back, 'i no. *know'. Then she sends a quick follow-up text to DI Wang: 'being followed. might be late.'
Rather than heading straight down the hill to Archway tube station, Cat makes a turn at the Karl Marx pub and crosses suicide bridge. She goes down steps beyond it, down the leafy path to the A1, followed by her pursuer and (she hopes) Amit close behind.
[His Dex/Stealth 2d6+1=9 vs. the cultist's skill 2d6+0=4]
He responds with absolute, almost inhuman calm. "We've been trying to find you for some time. You have something of ours, and we want you to give it back. I take it you don't have it on you. Bring me to it, now, and maybe you can walk away from this." [UNE: inquisitive - investigation - relics]
"You seem to be labouring under the delusion that you somehow have the upper hand in this negotiation." [prejudiced - view - current scene]
"Yeah. It's not like me mate is about to blow a hole through the back of your head or something. Oh, wait..."
Amit taps the gun on the back of the hipster's head.
[Morale check: 2d6=3!]
"You're bluffing. You wouldn't dare. Not in broad daylight."
"I dunno. The traffic noise is pretty loud."
"You're not going to risk it though, are you."
"Y'know, you're right. That would be a shit idea."
Cat grabs him by the tour t-shirt for the band he's never seen, and heaves him down the steps.
[Initiative C 7, him 2; her attack gets a +2 bonus to hit, 1d20+4 total=14 vs. AC9, hit. STR vs. STR to resist: 2d6+1(Cat)=10 vs. 2d6+0=7. 1d6 damage from fall (half is subdual only) = 5 damage; he has 1d4=4hp, unconscious]
He careens down arse over tit and lands in the dirt beneath some bushes. Once it's clear he's not getting back up, Cat and Amit retrace their steps and head for the tube. They text Elgin to let them know he cult are onto them, and he might want to think up a new place to hide.
[Q: Any problems/witnesses? Doubtful (6): O5 C2 - no, and...
Questions asked in the last scene which are more pertinent to put here--
Q: Did Mary turn up any info on Gerrit? Unknown 1d6=2, Certain: O4 C3 - yes, but...
Q: Has she heard anything about Cat? 50/50 (4+): O6 C5 - yes]
* * *
"What happened?" asks Mary before Cat has even had chance to slide into the booth across from her. "You said someone was following you, then fifteen minutes later you say 'never mind, be there soon'. Was it a false alarm?"
"Uh, no. But I had someone keeping an eye on me. It's all better now."
"Who was it?"
"Just a mate who looks out for me."
"No, I mean, who was following you?"
"Oh! The cult, naturally. I might need to find a new gaff."
"If it's protective custody you're after, I don't think it would be a good idea. Your name keeps coming up at work."
"Are they still looking for me?"
"Duh! Dead strangers at the halfway house, your disappearance. Remember?"
"Shit. Sorry. This last little while's been unreal."
"Yeah. OK. Look, I ran that name you gave me, Gerrit Ball."
"His prints are on file from his naturalisation application, but past that, nothing."
"Damn. I guess I was fishing anyway."
"You want to tell me what for?"
"Not especially, no."
"It's like you don't want my help or something."
"No. It's nothing like that."
"You're safer not knowing too much. I'm doing you a favour by keeping you at a remove from it all."
"Bollocks. You're just making it harder for me to help."
"You're a copper. And as long as it looks like you're just doing your job, there's a reasonable chance you won't seem like a direct theat."
"Just doing my job is how I got involved in the first place. There's police involvement with one or more of these weird cults and before long they're going to catch on to me if I'm not careful. I need to find them out before they get suspicious, or... well, you'll be needing to find someone else to buy you drinks, for starters." [UNE: knowing - history - contacts]
"Fine. I'll tell you everything. And even introduce you to some people -- probably. Actually, I'm not sure yet. Let me try something first. I'll ask my, em, new interested party if they have any clout with the police, and say it would really really help if they could check to see if I'm wanted for questioning or anything still. They say yes, I'll ask them to make sure it's their people that bring me in and ask the questions, so they're sure to clear my name or some shit like that. So then I can tell you who the dirty coppers are, and maybe just how dirty. And then see if it's safe for you to meet people."
"Devious. I like it."
"Let's just hope it works, else we're stumbling about blindly -- which I've been accused of doing once already this week."
"So when are you going to tell me the rest?"
"When you come back with another round? And maybe some crisps."
* * *
Last orders comes, as is its wont, dreadfully soon.
"This has turned out really nice," says Mary.
"It has. Nice to have just... normal conversation for a while. After the first bit, anyways. But I'm afraid I can't linger. You should leave first. I gotta see my friend, and I don't think it's the best time to introduce you two. Especially with his mates here. No offense."
"None taken, 'hun.' Must dash anyway. 'Kiss kiss!'"
"Ha! Sorry about that; there were prying ears present. I didn't want to tip my hand."
"No worries, I guessed. I was so distracted by the cultist shadowing you on your way here that I'd nearly forgotten it. Been planning to give you shit about it all day."
Mary surprises Cat with a goodbye hug then totters out of the pub towards the tube. Cat stumbles over to Amit's table, wandering outside with his friends as a unit. Cat is eventually able to drag him away, and they head back to the flat. They ring Elgin from he front step to let him know they're about to come in, so they don't get shot.
[Q: Everything quiet there? Likely (3+): O5 C7 - yes.
Q: Anyone know of decent place to go? 50/50 (4+): O6 C3 - yes, but...
But (1d6): 1 far, 2 temporary, 3 expensive, 4 tiny, 5 occupied, 6 actually a terrible idea: 1d6=2;
Q: Whose idea? 1d12: 1-7 A, 8-11 E, 12 C: 1d12=2
Amit needs to roll 8+ Cha/Persuade: 2d6+2=9, success.]
Amit makes a few calls, and eventually cons a friend of his into letting them crash in the flat he usually sublets -- provided they out before [2d6=9 days] 27 October. Elgin is already packed. Cat and Amit throw their things together quickly; they don't have much, though Amit refuses to leave behind acquired the sizeable stack of Georgian-era novels he's bought at the Oxfam.
[Q: They make it to the hidey hole OK? Certain (2+): O1 C8 - no.
Scene 24 - Ambush
Ambush: The most competent available minion of the Enemy is sent to deal with the PCs in a drive-by attack or sniping attempt. They won’t bother to fire a control shot into downed PCs, so even the mortally wounded might survive, and they won’t hang around long enough to invite concerted response.]
As they are walking down the street away from Gerrit's, an SUV parked well behind them starts up, and drives down to overtake them. The traffic is against them (even at this late hour), but it catches up with them as they are walking down the hill. The tinted window rolls down, the SUV slows, and two blasts from a shotgun ring out. [attack rolls are 1 & 6] Buckshot peppers the pavement about 15 feet behind Cat. The SUV speeds up and races down hill.
Cat starts to run. Amit and Elgin struggle to keep up. Her pace doesn't slacken until she's turned into Waterlow park, and the other two aren't terribly far behind. They take a circuitous route through the park, and then stick to minor streets once they're out other side, eventually traversing Hampstead Heath. At length they decide it's safe to take a night bus into town, then another out east.
They reach Amit's friend's flat by 3am, find the key outside under the flower pot, then go inside and collapse: Cat on the settee, the others two on bare mattresses.
"So Elgin," says Cat as they are waiting for the takeaway at the end of the street to open, "what do you know about the Star's assets. Specifically, do they have any influence with the Met?"
[Q: Does he know? unlikely (5+): O6 C1 - yes, and...
Q: Do they have any police influence? Likely (3+): O3 C8 - yes.]
"They do, as you'd expect of people in their position. Why?"
"Ring Gerrit, then. I have a plan..."
"He's not the string-pulling type."
"what about Jeanette? or --ugh-- Yaiza?"
"They're probably who you want, but..."
"I know. But this will make things quieter. At least I hope."
"Alright, I'll see what I can do. No promises though."
He makes the call. [He needs to make a Cha/Persuade roll, difficulty (1d6+5=) 9+ : 2d6-1=4, no.]
"Well, what'd he say?"
"He said Jeanette or Yaiza will contact us in their own time, and it's not for him to tell them when that is. He was pretty sanguine about his safe house being compromised, though."
"That's something, I guess. What do we do now?"
"Unless you have any better ideas, we wait."
[Q: How long before they are contacted? 2d8-1d6 days: 6 days]
They spend a few days knocking about the flat. Elgin can afford to order in for food to keep them hidden. Amit calls in a favour or two to get more supplies: mostly beer.
Elgin tries to do research online, [Int/Occult 13+ : 2d6+2=11] but turns up nothing of interest.
Amit tries to drum up a new hideout, [Cha/Culture-Criminal 9+ : 2d6+2=11] with rather more success.
Cat texts Mary to tell her to hang tight. She wishes they could meet at a pub, even if there weren't any new leads to discuss, but Mary is adamant she stay hidden. The drive-by shooting made all the papers, but there are no credible suspects.
DI Wang, for her part, is busy snooping round the station. [She uses her Investigator class ability, Leading whispers, to drum up a clue. Following the lead requires (1d6) 1 Persuade, 2 Research, 3 Stealth, 4 Perception, 5 Security, 6 roll twice: Stealth
Stealth 9+: 2d6+1=11
Clue (as Rumour): Misc-terminology, Minor aid (+1)]
She spends a lot of time walking to and from the kitchenette (at least she's staying hydrated!) and finds any excuse to use the photocopier. All the extra motion pays off when she is finally able to eavesdrop on her colleague who had Cat's file. The conversation starts with the mundane (footie, mostly) but when they think no one is nearby turns towards more esoteric matters, hypothesising that with the new actor in play, it might be time to attempt use of the 'Veiled Sword'. [rolled on the Word Elements tables, SL p.78]
She passes the information on to Cat via text, which Cat shares with Elgin.
[What Do Legends Say Of It? (SL p. 81) 1d4= A few hints exist; Int/Occult difficulty 12 to know them.
Elgin rolls 2d6+2=12!
It's a/an (1d6): 1 entity, 2 group, 3 item, 4 spell, 5 ritual, 6 tome: item
When Was It Created? Sometime in the unfathomably distant past.
What Great Deed Was It Part Of? It somehow consumed the soul of a great wielder of it.
Why Was It Created? To blight and immiserate the wretch who was to receive it.
What is the Basic Curse Effect? It eats the wielder’s sanity, inflicting Madness points.
What Kind of Weapon Is It? A large hand weapon like a sword or axe. (appropriate!)
What’s Uncanny About It? It weighs something wrong for its size and material.]
"I've actually heard of it," says Elgin. "It's said to be an ancient weapon which bears a terrible curse, and eats away at the soul of its wielder."
"Sounds like a pretty naff idea, using something like that."
"Yeah, give me a spongy metal tooth thingy any day."
"Point taken. But hey, maybe let's not share this tit-bit with anyone. I'm not 100% sure of the source and I'm not willing to tip my hand just yet, especially not without knowing what it is I'm showing off."
[Q: Do any problems arise? Unlikely (5+): O1 C6 - no
* * *
Scene 25 - meeting with the Star
Q: Is it the same group as last time? likely (3+): O5 C8 - Yes.]
Gerrit eventually rings up to say the Star wants another meeting. Elgin texts them the address of the new hideout in Bromley-by Bow. The front room of the flat is set up the same way as they had set up for the meeting at Gerrit's safe house, but this time Amit is fully in the circle and they've bought a few bottles of decent(ish) wine from the offie. Yaiza, Jeanette, and Gerrit arrive as punctually as before.
[Q: How is the NPCs' mood? as reaction roll: 2d6=8, neutral
Amit uses Folie à deux (Socialite class ability) on Yaiza to make her favourably disposed towards him. The rules state that "humans tainted by the supernatural may make a Mental Effect saving throw to resist this ability for an hour". I haven't yet determined if she is or not (or if she's totally human, etc.) so I rolled her saving throw pre-emptorily: 1d20=4, a failure whether or not she was due one, so player-me can remain in the dark about her for now.
Q: Did the NPCs get anywhere with their research? Likely (3+): O6 C7 - Yes.
Q: Did they get more information about the artefact? 50/50 (4+): O1 C1 - no, and...
+Event: NPC negative - Yaiza - respect / existence : Jeanette makes her apologise]
"Before we get started," says Yaiza to Cat, "I feel I should apologise for our first meeting. I was unnecessarily harsh with you when I should have been conciliatory. I treated you like a child when you were no worse off than we were, and perhaps knew a bit more about the situation."
"No worries," says Cat. "Things are pretty fucked up. There's a... a significant body count, for starters."
"Yes. quite. And that threatens us all with exposure."
"You don't have any, uh, influence with the police do you? I had a thought about how to turn the heat down."
"We do, but if it were that easy..."
"Hear me out. Have your people bring me in for questioning. My statement can be whatever we need to make this go away, or even point back to the cult, or... well, anyone you're finding inconvenient." [Cha/Persuade 9+: 2d6+0=11]
"A bold proposition," says Jeanette, "though it may have some merit. But why would they want to question you?"
"I disappeared after the cult tried to kill me at my --ahem-- my residence. They killed a couple people trying to get to me, and one of them took a bullet as I was making my escape."
"And I suppose you'd like them to, ah, determine that it wasn't you who fired the shot?"
"I was hoping that, yes."
"It'd be best they do," interjects Amit. "Cat hid the artefact last, so if you want it to remain in play..."
"Of course, says Jeanette. I'd hoped this offer was a demonstration of trust, but on the other hand I have to admire your resourcefulness. Regardless, if we do arrange this interview, you can take it as read that any warrants or suspicions will go away."
"This could take a few days to arrange, says Yaiza."
"We need to move house again," says Amit. "But other than that our dance card is empty."
"Right," says Jeanette. "On to other matters. Elgin, some of this will not be news to you, but the time has come to give our new colleagues a glimpse of the larger picture. Before I begin, though, I find must congratulate you other two on your willingness to accept the reality of everything that's been going on."
"I first met the cult before they were legit. It's why I gave up on them."
"I'm still not so sure about this all," says Amit, "but some seriously messed up stuff has happened, and I can't just explain it away, so..."
"Understood. Now, where to start? The world, as we know it, is but a small piece -- a layer, if you like -- of a greater reality. You've had some small experience with one of these -- meaning the machine realm we visited in the cave -- first-hand. There are entities of indescribable power -- call them gods, demons, or what have you -- dwelling in some of these places, which mages and mystics have tried to contact through the ages for knowledge, wisdom, or to gain some of that power for themselves. The adherents of the Circle of the Shadow Chalice are firmly in this last category. They are currently engaged in trying to contact, or perhaps even summon, the being called Tlluüb-yog-Lhoguriqvor in certain pre-human scriptures, and known more commonly as the Speaker of the Sleeping Mirrors. These 'mirrors' are in fact gateways, and the stone sphere in the cave is one of them. There's more. Much, much more; but I think this is more than enough to absorb for one day. And leads us back neatly to the problem at hand: how to stop the Circle."
"We tried taking that rock out of the cave," says Amit, "but no joy. I think maybe it didn't let us."
"Do we think they know what it does?" asks Gerrit.
[Q: Do they? Unlikely (5+): O4 C3 - no, but...]
"They must know the artefact's origin," says Jeanette. "The metal..."
"Of course," says Gerrit, "but that's assuming they've been through the gate."
"They tried to bring me in to look at the writing," says Elgin, "but Cat warned me off them."
"There are two ways through, though," says Cat. "With the offerings and without."
"Yeah, the first time she didn't disappear," says Amit.
"We can only guess at this juncture," says Yaiza.
"So, where does this leave us?" asks Elgin.
No one has a good answer for that, so they agree to look into things further, then part to make their various arrangements.
[I've alluded to rolling up the Speaker of the Sleeping Mirrors some time before Scene 18 to flesh out the Circle a bit, but I didn't want to reveal any more than was strictly necessary until now. Beyond generating this entity, all I know about the Other Gods is that there are (2d6+2=) 8 in total, three more independent entities and a pantheon of four. In my second adventure I have started to detail another of the independents, but no one has yet spoken its name. I am determined to keep things mysterious in this campaign as long as possible.
Trait: relict, from a former age of reality
Epithet: Speaker of the Sleeping Mirrors
* * *
It will take 1d6=5 days to set up Cat's "arrest".
Q: Anything important happen until then? 50/50 (4+): O5 C3 - yes, but...
1d4=Amit has to deal with mundane things in the downtime.
Int/Culture-criminal 6+: 2d6+1=7
Cha/Persuade 6+: 2d6+2=7; a few phone calls to the right people and it's all cleared up.
27 October - move into a new flat]
[Scene 26 - the "arrest"]
Jeanette rings Cat to discuss her "arrest", which needs to happen the following day. Cat tells her the plan she's cooked up, and the arrangements confirmed. Cat texts Mary the details to keep her in the loop.
Cat goes back to halfway house, ostensibly to ask staff about collecting her stuff. She starts right in with the insincere apologies, false promises, and arguments they'd be expecting, painting herself as the real victim here and innocent as a saint. She keeps one of them talking whilst the other goes into the office to call the police as she knows they are required to, given that she's wanted on warrant. She's unnerved at just how easily she's fallen back into her old junkie routine, and fortunately the police arrive before too long and take her to the station in handcuffs.
At first, Cat starts to think she's engineered her own demise; everything from the arrest to the beginning of the interrogation is done absolutely by the book. It's only when one of the [1d3=] two interrogators winks at her when asking for her side of the story that she realises it's going to be ok. They ask her a number of subtly leading questions and in the end her innocence is established. When they finally turn off tape, they mention that Jeanette says hi and that she'll be wanting to meet early tomorrow, so get a good night's sleep.
[Mary needed a Dex/Stealth 8+ to get a glimpse of the interrogators: 2d6+1=10, success. Cat's Wis/Perception roll is 2d6+1=4 so didn't notice her there.
Q: Is either of them the one who had Cat's file with the x-ray? Likely (3+): O5 C6 - yes.
Q: Does the x-ray come up during their conversation? Unknown 1d6=6: O5 C5 - no.
+Event: Move away from a thread - escape/stop cult - make / Friend (see next post)]
Cat texts Mary from the bus. Once she's home she rings her so they can discuss it properly. Mary confirms she knows who the officers in question are, and promises to let Cat know anything else she can find out.
next post: a surprising conclusion