Wandered Roads 55.5

Wandered Roads of Varisia
Session 55.5
December 2 - 19, 2018

Campaign Timeline

Closing the Case

Toilday 12th Kuthona

The Braeton Manor Massacre

Borvius Monchello and his lackeys are tied up. Calina and Alistar take a rest while the rest of the group helps securing the prisoners. There are several flash bombs recovered from the criminals and a couple that are said to be smoke bombs. Borvius was carrying two potions that bear the symbol of Apis the Bull, marking them as Healing Potions. The sheriff sees the items and indicates she could greatly benefit from the healing potions but offers the smoke and flash bombs to the group. She confiscates the other weapons and gear and has it piled up out of the way.

A few minutes later, a voice can be heard calling out from near the front of the house, “Hello, Hello, Canalee? Arhaneem? Is everything ok? I hears some loud commotion.” The sheriff goes out and intercepts a curious neighbor. She a brief explanation, she sends the neighbor off to round up Constable Byron and some others to help her transport the prisoners to the jail.

While waiting for Byron and the others to arrive, the Sheriff states that Borvius’s wife needs to be brought into custody as well as any other employees they may have. “If you move now, maybe they will not have had enough time to run or set up any heavy defenses. The warehouse and shop are down near the waterfront on the north side of town,” she explains and describes the buildings and the best route to get there. Agreeing that haste is the best course of action, the group heads that way, arriving in about 10 minutes. The streets are relatively empty, though a young boy can be seen moving about lighting the many lamps spaced around the waterfront district.

Ilsurian Docks

The warehouse is on the right and is a large, two story stone building. There are two sets of 10’ tall double warehouse doors and another normal sized door up a small flight of stairs that must lead to an office. There are a few very small windows, all of them either boarded up or barred. Some light can be seen from inside. A lone Human male stands at the bottom of the steps, near one of the warehouse doors. He looks bored and leans on an overturned barrel. 

Robella’s shop sits to the left, just past a narrow alley. Her building is just a one story cottage that has been converted into a curiosity shop. A set of double doors are in the front of the building with a pair of high, narrow windows flanking them. There appear to be lights on inside the building. 

As the group watches the buildings across the street, a few snowflakes begin to drift lazily down from the sky. “Isn’t this great,” complains the man standing watch outside the front of the warehouse. He rubs his hands together and walks up the stairs and goes inside, slamming the door loudly.

Daellin runs a hand through his golden hair brushing aside the snow that has started to accumulate.  Turning to his companions he grins malevolently, “It isn’t going to get any warmer sitting out here waiting for something to happen.  These louts need to answer for the crimes they have committed tonight.”  Patting the the blade hanging off of his left hip, “Maelos here can be very persuasive when he wants to be.”  Not really waiting for permission he draws his blades and heads for the same door the lookout just entered.

Samad’s eyes gleam in an annoyed sneer. “These vahk’lasha will regret attempting to tarnish the name of Samad.” His daily illusion, a perfect mirror image of himself, slinks up next to him and grins. They both draw their blades, strike an elaborate Shiva-like pose, and speak in unison. “Let us carve through them like the holiday hams they are.” Beads and buckles clink softly and sensually as Samad walks immediately behind Daellin.

“I’ll keep him distracted,” Alistar says and prepares to cast Daze on the guard.

Mistress Robella’s Curiosity Shop

Calina nods in agreement as the two men walk silently towards the warehouse. She begins to follow then stops. She sees the pale light from the cottage windows dimly washing over the street. 

"I'm going to the shop," she whispers to the others, "I'll join you in the warehouse if I don't find anything there."

"Maelos isn't the only weapon looking for vengeance. Whisper wants recompense for the children," Calina vows quietly as she moves smoothly and quietly towards the curiosity shop.

She hugs closely against the cold wall of the small building, inching forward until she can surreptitiously glimpse into the nearest window.

Calina crosses the street toward the little shop just as Daellin and Samad climb the short flight of stone steps leading to the door on the warehouse and Alistar casts his spell. Calina sees that the two windows to either side of the door are high, nearly even with the top of the door. She sees a bench and planter next to the door on the right that she thinks she could stand on, though both look slick from the gently falling and quickly melting snow. A sign on the door indicates that the shop is still open, though Calina assumes it won’t be too long before it closes.

Calina uses her gloved hand to wipe the accumulated snow and ice from the bench. She places one foot onto the bench, testing the surface. It still seems too slippery to chance standing on it. She decides to to change her approach. She takes a deep breath and checks the door latch. She steps through the door into the light of the shop.

This small store is filled with strange knickknacks, art, and unusual tools. The display case to the west features jewelry, most of it locally crafted. The case to the east contains oddities such as turtle-shell soup bowls and bizarre gnome cooking utensils that Calina thinks Leela could do wonders with. The center case is filled with bottles and vials and a selection of scented soaps and perfumes. Behind the counter are double doors leading north. Frosted glass windows are set in the entrance doors. A Human woman of indeterminable ethnicity, some mix that Calina is not familiar with, stands behind the counter looking over a ledger. She looks up and smiles when a small bell above the door rings. 

“Oh, good evening. Is it snowing out there? Well that’s not fun,” she says with a chuckle. “Welcome to Mistress Robella’s Curiosity Shop. Are you looking for anything in particular or just curious? I was just about to close up for the evening, but you are welcome to look around if you like. You are not from Ilsurian are you?” the woman asks, eyeing the bow slung across her shoulder and the sword strapped to her hip. 

Calina runs her fingers along the surfaces of some of the jewelry while she contemplates her response.

"Actually,  I'm not really from anywhere., although I've  recently traveled from Magnimar,"  Calina answers quietly.

She turns to face the woman, "And may I asked you about you? Where are you from, Miss . . .?"

The woman smiles, “Oh, we came here from Korvosa, that’s where I was born, though my family hails from further south, Taldor and such. Do you like the jewelry?” she asks, coming around the counter. The woman smiles and shivers, putting her hands in the pockets of her vest and pulling it tight around her to stave off the cold. Calina can see that she does not have a sword strapped to her waist like many of the citizens of Ilsurian do. She is also quite certain there are no knives or other weapons on her person either. “What brings you to Ilsurian and my shop? Looking for a gift? Something for yourself?” she asks.
Calina smiles as the woman sidesteps the ambiguous question about her name. She chooses a more direct approach.

"I'm interested in a gift for a friend. My name is Calina.  May I have the pleasure of knowing with whom I'm doing business? I think transactions are more beneficial and satisfying when both parties are acquainted."

Calina slowly moves towards the counter containing the cooking utensils, appraising the multitude of offerings.

Kallin sees his other party go off in their respected tasks.  He is unsure which direction to go.  As he does a quick evaluation of the situation, he asks Thim, “Are you going to be alright?”  Thim responds with a head nod and something that to Kallin sounds like a grunt.  Kallin notices that the rogue is focused on something in the dark.  Kallin squints his eyes but doesn’t make out anything.  He doesn’t even see any ghosts.  The shaman spins and heads off in the direction that Calina went.  As he approaches the curiosity shop, he sees through the window that Calina is engaged in a conversation with a very attractive woman. He hopes not to throw off Calina’s game, so he will pretend to be another patron.  He wraps his arms around to stave off the cold and burst through the front door.  Trying to emulate from his memory how Daellin and Samad are, his says to the others in the shop, “Wow, it is getting cold out!  Greetings dear ladies.  I hope I’m not interrupting anything important.”  He looks into the eyes of the proprietor, smiles and says, “I’m just thankful your still open.”  Kallin start to look around the shop at various items.

The woman, who seems a bit surprised that Kallin has busted in unexpectedly, stammers for a moment, then shouts, “Deceivers!l” and flings something at the ground between Calina and Kallin. The small black object hits the ground and explodes with a blinding flash of light. Kallin and Calina attempt to shield their eyes from the flash and manage to not be blinded.

As the flash subsides, Calina and Kallin both see the woman backing up toward the counter, her hand fishing in a pocket for something. “If you hurt my husband, you will pay! There is no where you can hide that my knives won’t find you!” she spits!

Calina winces as the light flashes but fortunately she is not affected. Hearing the woman mention her husband,  Calina assumes this is Mrs. Monchello even though she was never able to confirm that verbally. Upon hearing the woman's threat of knives, Calina makes her decision. 

"In a face to face confrontation, knives triumphs over conversation any day," Calina thinks to herself. She runs behind the counter and stands between the armed woman and the door at the back of the shop.

She aims her bow at the woman, "Come on Robella, give up. You can't fight both of us."

As Kallin gets over the surprise of the flash, he realizes that he can see the woman.  Her movement toward her pockets makes him aware that his hand is on his shard on his belt.  Kallin finds him starting to talk to her and suggesting, “Robella, calm down.  We have your husband safe. So, don’t you feel it would be best if you turn yourself in to us? As my colleague stated, you can’t fight both of us.”

A dreamy sort of look comes over her face. “Yea, I suppose you’re right,” she says to Kallin. She sets a small black ball about the size of a walnut on the edge of the counter and steps toward Kallin, her hands held out in front of her, open and palms up.

Calina sighs with relief. She quickly shoulders her bow and walks towards the woman's back. Calina grabs Robella's arms tightly, while pulling the hands behind the woman's back.

"Quick, Kallin! Get something to tie her with, before she changes her mind," Calina says in a loud whisper, “Then we should check out what's through this back door.”

Kallin looks around the room for something bind the woman’s hands. He smiles wryly as he finds some leather cord that reminds of a certain wall that showed certain facets of the world underneath the counter.  He hands it to Calina and states, “This should help,” then gives a little evil laugh.

Calina takes the leather cord from Kallin, "Get your mind out of the honey pot and wipe that grin off your silly half orc face. Can I remind you we have a job to finish?"

Calina grins to herself as her long hair covers her face, "I don't even want to know what he was thinking," she mumbles to herself. 

Calina pull her backpack off and rummages for the long rope, realizing the short leather cord was only enough to tie Robella's hands. She completes the knot around the woman's hands, then uses her longer rope to tie the legs and waist, then around an iron bar circling the base of the nearest display counter.

"That should hold her. Come on Kallin, let's go. Let's see what's through this back door. Then we can head back to the warehouse and find everyone else."

Calina slides her backpack on and readies her bow, "Remind me to get another rope before we leave town," she whispers as she slowly cracks open the door.

Kallin nods and says, “Lead the way”  He gives the woman a glance back and thinks I hope nothing happens to her while we are gone. Kallin checks Calina’s knots then follows Calina into the next room.

Calina and Kallin find a workroom/ storage area. Lots of boxes and crates fill the area. A single door leads out to the right, probably to the alley between the two buildings. As they step into the dimly lit room, the muffled sound of an explosion reaches their ears. There are a few chairs and a small wooden table in the center of the room. The remains from a meal and some small tools and things sit on the table. 

At the sound of the explosion, Calina winches and reflexively ducks down. Once she realizes the explosion was not in this building she stands. 

Calina quickly looks around the small storage room and shouts, "Kallin, I don't think anyone's here and that explosion felt like it came from the warehouse!"

As she tells her companion this, she notice that he is staring at empty north east corner of the room. He tilts his head to the side a bit and she turns and looks at it as well. She notices that the stone floor tiles in a two and a half foot square seem to be just slightly offset, and possibly raised up a little higher than the rest of the solid stone floor.

Calina glances at the corner. She looks back at Kallin and nods, "I guess it will be ok if we take a couple of minutes to at least examined this. But only for a moment or so. Our friends may need our help next door."

Kallin starts to reach towards the floor and Calina grabs his arm, "Let's take it nice and easy. These people have killed several people already. I don't want us to be the next victims."

Calina scans the floor and walls of the corner and specifically the raised foundation of the tiles. Her brow furrows in concentration, looking for any minute details that could signal a trap.

Calina carefully looks around the area, she gives it a few pokes and prods with the tip of her knife. After some time, she carefully pries the edge of what she has deduced is a trapdoor in the floor. Seeing that no traps have gone off yet, Calina lifts the trapdoor more. It is several planks of wood with the tops of some floor stones stuck to the top to make it look like the other stones lining the floor of the workroom. Below is a two foot square hole leading down into darkness. It looks like it goes down about 20 feet or so. A wooden ladder is fastened to one wall.

Kallin looks down the hole to check to see if he sees anything.  He realizes if there is anything down there it is beyond his vision.  He smiles and looks at Calina, “No time like the present. Let’s see where this goes.”  Kallin starts to head down the ladder.

Calina watches the half orc climb down the ladder into the darkness. She hesitates. If she follows, he will be the only one with vision in the dark and that worries her. Maybe she should grab a wall lantern first.Then she remembers! 

"The goggles, of course silly,” she chuckles at her forgetfulness.

She's kept them around her neck almost all the time ever since she got them. Calina slips the night vision goggles over her eyes and adjusts for a near perfect fit. She shoulders the bow then descends into the darkness after Kallin.

The ladder leads down a roughly dug shaft through the earth to a small alcove along an underground tunnel running to the left and right. Kallin almost has to duck in the tunnel, it is so cramped and barely over 6 feet high, while being just 4 feet wide. The tunnel is lined with old stone flagstones and arched at the top, and while it appears to be quiet old, it is relatively clean. Calina notes that this tunnel seems to run parallel to the alley between the curiosity shop and the warehouse. Heading to the left would be leading away from the docks and buildings, heading to the right would be toward the front of the warehouse and docks beyond. Farther down to the right, Calina sees a wooden door blocking the tunnel and just before it, she thinks it looks like another passageway breaks off to the left, which would be in the direction of the warehouse. She believes that this is the tunnel that connects the two buildings that they had been told of. 

Once Calina gets her sense of direction, she explains to Kallin what she observes. The question is what is the most important objective. They both agree that getting to the warehouse is of prime importance. One remaining mystery is what's beyond the wooden door.

Calina suggests they head towards the door but turn down the tunnel near the door and hope it leads to the warehouse. 

As the tunnel is quite narrow, Calina walks, bow at ready, quietly and quickly down the length of the tunnel towards the wooden door. Kallin follows closely, somewhat hindered by the height and width of the tunnel.

Kallin has to keep his hand on Calina’s backpack as they move down the tunnel as it it pitch black. A little further along the passage, Calina stops when she realizes there is another door in the right hand wall as well, directly across from the open passage leading toward the warehouse. And in another moment, she sees another door that is just a few feet down the passage to the left. Calina and Kallin have come to an intersection of three wooden doors. Calina is sure she can hear someone moving around behind the door to the left, which she estimates to be somewhere under the warehouse. 

Calina stops abruptly and Kallin almost stumbles into her. 

"What's wrong?" Kallin whispers.

"There are 3 doors ahead, not just one like I thought," Calina answers quietly. "And I'm sure heard something coming from the left, the section I think leads to the warehouse," Calina  continues softly." 

"Then I think we should stay right here and wait till something, or someone comes through the door. Bollocks! I hate that I can't see anything!" Kallin laments then continues in a low voice, "If we stay here, you can catch 'em off guard."

Calina nods thoughtfully, "It's a good idea, but let's move a few steps closer."

"Ok, and remember," he says gallantly, "I've got your back. Literally!"

Calina stifles a giggle and the two friends step forward once again.

As they step forward, they both hear a muffled voice from behind the door and then bright light comes shining out from under the wooden door. 

Kallin is a little surprised by light rimmed door.  The muffled voices peaked his interest.  He takes his eyes off the hallway to lean his ear towards the door to get a better listen on who or what it could be.

 Calina waits and the time seems to stretch on. She feels sweat beading on her brow, yet the air is chilly. They have no idea what's behind that door and now a brilliant light seeps through the opening under the door. 

After listening at the door, Kallin realizes that it's the rest of their companions on the other side of the door. In a moment, they are all reunited in what appears to be a training center of some sort. After briefly sharing their adventures, Daellin returns to the northern door, searching it for traps. Another door in the eastern wall beckons.

Welcome Ilsurian Hauling and Storage

As the rest of the party splits between the shop and the warehouse, Thim finds himself pondering what to do. After a moment, he decides to venture around the outside of the warehouse looking for any back entrances or anything other entryways. His weapons are at the ready incase someone decides to jump him, being very wary.

Daellin and Samad make it up the slick steps silently. Gingerly, Daellin reaches out and touches the latch. It does not appear to be locked.

Pushing down gently on the latch Daellin eases the door open quietly and slips inside.  He’s not sure if the guard is dazed or even if there is a guard, but the time for deliberation has passed.  Grinning to himself he realizes it’s more accurate to say that he’s never been one to sit and overly think about the proper course of action. 

The door creaks open to reveal a small landing or foyer. Immediately to the right are two double doors, both are open to a larger room. Beyond, Daellin and Samad see what looks like an office. A desk and chair sit against the east wall, with additional chairs situated nearby. Wall lamps light the room. A small wood stove sits behind the desk to the right. To the north of the desk is a single wooden door leading deeper in to the building. The guard from outside is standing at the desk and leaning over it. He does not turn or even seem to notice when Daellin and the two Samad’s open the door and enter.

Samad flickered his gaze about the room for any other prey. Noticing the other door, the dusky-skinned Garundian attempts to slink by behind the guard and stands in front of it. 

The guard pays no attention to Samad, just continues leaning with two hands on the desk as if he were reading something, perhaps one of the many papers or ledgers that lay open upon it. The man is completely dazed. Apparently Alistar’s magic worked!

Samad stared blankly at the guard before shifting his eyes to Daellin and Alistar. He shrugged silently and gestured with one of his swords; Kill, or incapacitate? How anyone would signal that coherently while holding two swords is anyone’s guess, but Samad manages to do so.

Looking around for Calina to deal with the incapacitated guard, Daellin realizes it might be less bloody if he just takes care of it himself.  Stepping up behind the human he raps the guard smartly on the back of the head with the pommel of his sword.  As the man slumps forward onto the table Daellin turns to Samad.  Daellin points to the door with Maelos and motions for him to proceed.

Seeing that they have made it inside, and quietly even, Alistar follows. Tying up the incapacitated guard and gagging him to make sure an alarm is not raised allowing the sneaky trio to continue. 

Alistar does the best that he can do with what he has at hand and thinks to himself that if Daellin had just left him alone, the guard would have just stood there for some time, knocking him out was unnecessary. 

Ahead, Samad has carefully opened the door to the next room, which appears to be a file room. File cabinets line the eastern wall of this room, while doors lead north, south, and west. A single, lit oil lamp is set in the wall. 

Daellin follows Samad into the room.  He briefly scans the small room for anything out of the ordinary.  When nothing catches his interest he tries the handle on the western door.  It is locked. He turns and checks the northern door, finding it unlocked he slowly opens it.

As Daellin slowly opens the door, he is taken aback when the door is pulled out of his hand. He finds himself standing face to face with a Human male, several inches taller than the Elf. The man stammers and looks quite confused. He is carrying a writing board with several sheets of paper clipped to it. “Hey, hi. Who are you? Can I help you?” He takes a quick step back so he is not right on top of Daellin. Past the man, the open space of a large warehouse can be seen, though a shelving unit holding small boxes, bags and parcels blocks most of the view. “I’m Byrten. What can I do for you? You looking to ship or store? Best prices on the lake, I can guarantee that!”
”I, Sir Lourdis, hereby place you under arrest by the power granted to me as a knight of the realm and duly authorized deputy. Surrender and take us to Lady Monchello and we can guarantee you will not be hurt.” Alistar attempts diplomacy to get the guy to surrender.

A scared and confused look crosses Byrten’s face and he steps back further into the warehouse. “Wait a second, who are you? Where is Ferdis? How did you get in here? Aroden's Ghost! What is going on here?” He looks frantically around the warehouse and reaches for the sword on his belt.

“This is most fortuitous that we have stumbled into you Byrten!”  Daellin does his best to smile and to be amicable with the human while he tries to talk his way out of a battle.  “The good Sheriff told us to ask for you personally.  You see it’s been a rather long night already and much has happened.”  Daellin sheathes his weapons.  “Here sit down for a minute and let us parley for a moment or two.”

“Oh, really, what trouble is afoot in Ilsurian this evening?” he asks, clearly looking suspicious and taking another step back.

“Well there has been another incident this evening.  The Braeton manor has been attacked and there have been casualties.  It’s a rather messy affair if I do say so myself,” Daellin explains.

“But what has this got to do with me? I work for the Monchellos. Not the Braetons. Sounds like sad business, but none of mine,” he says, his face darkening. 

“Well you see that’s where YOU do become important Byrten. The Sheriff is worried about the safety of Mrs. Monchello.  In fact the Sheriff already has Mr. Monchello under guard at the jailhouse.  The Sheriff asked that we come here to locate Mrs. Monchellos and escort her to her husband.”

Byrten’s face softens and he breathes a sigh of relief. “Ahh, the Monchellos are in danger? Ok, I understand. Mrs. Monchello is here, in fact. She is helping us with some inventory before we close up for the evening.” He starts to turn to walk further into the large warehouse space, then stops and turns back. “Did you see Ferdis in the front office? He was working there this evening. You would have seen him when you came in. Was he not there?” 

“Ferdis you say?  He’s the one snoring away quite loudly in the front room I believe.  You might think he’s been knocked out from too much booze it would seem.  I’m pretty sure he’ll be sleeping until after we get Mrs. Monchello reunited with her husband.  Don’t worry my friend a couple of my companions are watching the front door as we speak.  Now you were about to take us to Mrs. Monchello?” Daellin explains.

Byrten smiles, “All is well then, come, I’ll take you to Mrs. Monchello. She’s just this way.” He turns and walks away, his hand still on his sword hilt. Daellin has the sinking suspicion that this fellow is not being fully truthful with him. “Mrs. Monchello, Mrs. Robella, some fine folk are here to see you, sent by the Sheriff,” he calls out.

Daellin follows the man even though he doesn’t need Calinas danger sense to let him know that this is going to get ugly fast.  Reluctantly Daellin draws his weapons and hurries after the Human.

Samad, his illusion double, and Alistar follow Daellin into the warehouse after Byrten.

As Daellin, Samad, Damas, and Alistar follow Byrten into the warehouse, several sounds and sights indicate that there is work going on in the warehouse still. The room is two stories high in here, with a wide ledge that runs around the entire room. A wooden catwalk stretches from east to west, connecting the two sides of the building. A ladder can be seen leading up to it at the far end of the warehouse. Piles of crates and containers abound as do numerous shelves stacked with goods. There are shelves stacked up on the walkway that runs around the building as well as piled up on top of the space taken up by the front office and file room. Two workers are currently hauling what appears to be a heavy crate across the hanging catwalk up above. One of the men stumbles and drops his end of the crate. Both men cuss at each other for doing something wrong. The first man disengages in the cussing match with his partner and turns, leaning on the rail, “Hey Byrt,” he calls down, waving. Byrten waves back and shouts, “By Sarenrae's burning bush! Get back to work, you layabouts! We have lots to do before we go!” Byrten turns back to the three following him. “Sorry about that, Mistress Robella is just over here.” As he says this, one of the men up on the catwalk kicks a clay urn that had been sitting nearby, causing it to plummet down right at Samad. The clumsy projectile is easily dodged and it crashes to the floor, exploding into shards of pottery and some red, gooey substance that was inside of it. Some of the goo splashes and hits the three companions. Almost immediately, they feel the urge to giggle and laugh. Somehow this whole situation seems funny. Byrten, on the other hand, does not seem to be amused as he draws his sword and leers menacingly then charges at Daellin, swinging his blade above his head! The wild swing barely misses. Noises from up above show the two men up on the catwalk, 12 feet above, crouch down and grab bows that had been laying out of sight then move to take cover.

Samad, giggling like a loon, suddenly got an idea for a fun game! He attempted to subdue the threat immediately in front of them by crossing the short distance to Byrten. He slinked behind him, and thrust his off-hand rapier into his midriff. The burly man would make such a wonderful puppet to block the archers!

Samad moves behind Byrten in an attempt to flank him and thrusts with his new blade. Byrten leaps away from the attack and clumsily brings his sword up in a parry but fails to stop the blade. He groans as Silverfang slides out, covered in blood. Byrten falls forward, face forward, smacking his head on one of the shelves on his way down.

Samad let out whatever passes as a disappointed groan for someone laughing uncontrollably as his squishy melon puppet went down far too soon for his liking. Samad never truly noticed the glorious SOUNDS a body made when being stuck with a blade! He wanted more! He turned a mad eye up to the archers...

The strange glob of ooze that fell on the floor and splashed everyone seems to be jiggling and bobbing around on the floor, like it is alive. It’s movements are quite hilarious. 

Daellin grins wildly as he begins casting a spell.  He crouches down and waddles a bit from side to side as he giggles in Elven.  Alistar isn’t sure but he swears he heard something about being a tree frog in there somewhere.  Daellin finishes the incantation and bounces in place, barely able to contain his excitement.  “Riiiibbiiiiiiiiit!” He yells in an awkward impersonation of a very large frog.

Alistar giggles and takes a step back from the jiggling ooze and draws his sword. The jiggling ooze lurches forward, following him. It seems to expand in a bubble toward Alistar then pops, flinging more of the clinging ooze at him as it slides in between his feet. Alistar giggles as it does this. The two archers up on the catwalk above position themselves to shoot down at everyone. Some shouts can be heard coming from around the corner near the front of the warehouse and Samad and Daellin see two men drawing swords a handful of yards away.

With a wild look of glee plastered over his face Daellin bounds up to the top of a large stack of boxes.  He crouches again and prepares to leap for the catwalk.  He continues to yell in elven, something about being the Frog-King and ware to his foes who will be crushed beneath his mighty jumps!

Samad laughed coyly at the two approaching men. With what little concentration he could muster, he had Damas sprint over to his side. They did a somewhat lascivious dance before striking a battle pose, inviting the men over for some fun. 

While everyone is experiencing some sort of situation inside the buildings, Thim makes his way along the right side of the warehouse. It is dark but a minimal amount of light comes from a narrow band of windows high up on the warehouse walls. The building next to the warehouse is a one story building, about 6 feet away, and is dark. Another building backs up to the one next door. This building is a 2 story wood frame building. It also appears dark. The warehouse is about 80 feet to the back, same as across the front. At the far end of the side, a single door is set into the wall. Peering around the corner, Thim sees no other doors all along the back of the building.

As Daellin hops to his perch on the nearby boxes, the two archers on the catwalk get their bearings and take a bead on the hopping Elf. Both bows twang at the same time and Daellin sees both arrows flying at him! One is clearly going wide, but the other is dead on target and Daellin is not sure he will even be able to use magic to avoid the projectile. Still it seems funny! 

Down below, Alistar cannot control his laughter as he steps back into the file room, trying to stay away from the dangerous yet still hilarious glob of reddish orange gunk. It makes a silly slurping sound as it slides up after the retreating mage. Alistar feels the sting as it somehow burns or melts him or whatever it is. He laughs at the pain! The two new combatants rush up to the battle dancers, Samad and Damas, and take wild swings. The first one wholly misses Damas but the second fellow, a hulking young lad swings true! 

Daellin tries unsuccessfully to dodge the incoming arrow but fails. The projectile strikes him in the chest but fortunately his thick chain armor is enough to stop it from penetrating. He looks down at the arrow hanging from his shirt and laughs then ribbits again! Samad is not so lucky as his attackers sword cuts through his light cloth armor, cutting into his side. The Garundi swordsman laughs as if he had been tickled.

The only thing funnier than dancing jelly is exploding jelly. Alistar casts Explosive Lighting at the jelly. 

Laughing like a maniac, Alistar releases the explosive lightning bolt right at his own feet! The flashing and sparking handful of electricity arcs down to the gooey glob of ooze and explodes! The ooze is fairly disintegrated as is a good chunk of the wooden floor. Alistar howls with laughter as the blast shocks him as well. In fact, the blast lifts Alistar from his feet and throws him backward and onto the ground, unconscious.

Thim makes his way to the only other door, gently testing the handle of it to see if it’s locked.

Thim finds that the door is unlocked. As he gently lets go of the handle, he hears what sounds like an explosion come from inside the warehouse. 

“This can’t be good…” Thim thinks as the sound of the explosion echos in his ears. Instead of attempting to pick the lock, he’ll attempt to brute force his way in, taking his hammer and smashing the door handle off of the door.

The door swings open to reveal a small room, about 15 feet square. A cot and a footlocker rest against the eastern wall in the corner, just past the open door and a chair and a tray with some food on it rests in the opposite corner. A door leading out into the warehouse is in the opposite wall and hangs open a few inches. The sounds of combat and what sounds like raucous laughter can be heard from out there.  

With a loud squeal of glee that somehow manages to sound like a giant bullfrogs death spasm, Daellin leaps for the catwalk!  His wild antics manage to catch the nearest archer off guard as Maelos springs forward from his outstretched arm skewering the man through the vitals.  Daellin pivots and leverages the the Human over edge of the catwalk.  In Elvish, Daellin croaks “I am the Frog-King!”  He continues to cackles wildly, bouncing around on his haunches like a giant frog.

Still laughing at the deep cut into his side, Samad retaliates by swinging his longsword at the mans leg while stabbing his rapier at the man’s heart, hoping to end this quickly. His attacker manages to bring up his sword to parry the first blade and dodges out of the way of the second. Next to him, Damas likewise lashes out with both blades and his opponent furiously brings his defenses to bear. Both men turn their blades on the twin swordsmen, the first one lashes out at Damas’s neck but the illusory swordmaster ducks low and avoids the strike while the other man swings at Samad’s leg, trying to take him of his feet. Samad drops both blades in a cross and deflects the blow. Up on the balcony, the remaining bowman takes a step back and quickly brings an arrow to his string.

His eyes blazing with unbridled glee Daellin bounces toward the remaining bowman.  “Now that your friend has croaked you will learn to rue the day you dared to face the Frog-King!”  With blood still dripping from Maelos he attacks the human.  Shadow Kiss misses wide, but Maelos is on target!  

The archer on the catwalk back pedals and manages to avoid Daellin’s strike, he raises his bow and lets the arrow fly, straight at Daellin’s chest but the laughing Elf hops and spins, deftly avoiding the arrow. Daellin sticks his head out as if catching a fly and continues laughing. Suddenly he feels a sharp pain in his collar and realizes he has been shot in the back, just barely missing his neck. Though the wound hurts, tilts his head back and howls with laughter, turning a bit to try and see where the shot came from, though he does not catch sight of another archer anywhere. The bowman in front of Daellin has a look of confusion and fear on his face. After he shoots, he throws his bow down and turns to run away.

Down on the warehouse floor, Samad, still giggling, turns to his left and brings his blades to bear on his opponent. He weaves his blades back and forth, his blades dancing deceptively as he strikes. The longsword strike is true but  the rapier misses its target. Overwhelmed at this display of swordsmanship, the warehouseman leaps back and just barely manages to bring his sword up just in time to block Samad’s attack. Nearby, Damas, performs similar strikes against his opponent, scaring the man when a strike hits but somehow seems to pass through his flesh without cutting him. The scared man shrieks and throws down his sword and turns and runs. Seeing this, the man locked with Samad does the same. They both make for the front of the warehouse. 

Hearing the clang of swords and the disquieting sound of maniacal laughter from the warehouse beyond, Thim makes his way across this sparse bed chamber to the door he assumes leads to the warehouse. Carefully, he nudges the door open and peers out. He sees a large warehouse area filled with stacks of boxes and parcels. Shelves line the walls and a balcony type area runs around the inside wall all the way around the space, also lined with shelves of containers. A storage area connects to the catwalk above a first floor set of rooms across the way where the front entrance of the building would have been and looking up directly above him he sees that a similar area exists just above the room he just came through. A wooden catwalk runs across the middle of the warehouse, connecting the two sides. He sees Daellin on the catwalk, near the center, hopping up and down and laughing like a fool. A Human man is about 20 feet from him, further down the catwalk. He sees the man throw down a bow and turn to run. Through a gap in stacks of crates, he sees two more Human males running, unarmed, toward the front of the warehouse. He does not see Samad, but can hear him cackling somewhere across the warehouse. 

Leaping up into the air Daellin flips around and lands on the floor, stumbles and falls, then rolls and ends up squatting like some pointy eared frog.  He continues to giggle and “ribbiiitt” continuously.  He realizes someone should chase down the fleeing guards but they don’t seem to want to play anymore and he’s having way too much fun here.  As he leaps from crate to crate he searches the room for someone new to play with or a secret entrance to their hideout.

As Samad’s opponents flee, he shakes his head and laughs loudly. “Flee, worms,” he cries after them then dismisses them as being not worth his time. He glances proudly at the crouching and ready Damas next to him and admires how stunningly beautiful he is. Just then, Damas turns to him, bows and salutes him with his sword then blinks out of existence. Samad feels the power of the Shard has run its course for the day. Daellin hops down from above and Thim makes his way across the warehouse from a side door he entered. The two fleeing men on the ground floor push open one of the large warehouse doors and disappear into the snowy night while the one up on the catwalk hides behind some crates, watching for his chance to flee as well. No one expects further trouble from them through Daellin, with an arrow still sticking out of the back of his shoulder, keeps a sharp eye out for whoever shot him from somewhere across the warehouse. After another moment, the laughing fit seems to pass, the entire experience leaving a strange look on both Daellin and Samad’s faces. Daellin feels the effects of his spell wear off. Alistar lays motionless back in the file room and Calina and Kallin are nowhere to be seen. A quick check of Alistar shows that he is not mortally wounded, only stunned and rendered unconscious by the lightning blast. The mage knight sits up and shakes his head, “It doesn’t seem as funny to me now,” he murmurs as he gets to his feet. 

As Samad follows whom would from now on be referred to as The Frog King, he suddenly realizes just how small the group had gotten. 

Thim opens the door out to where his companions are. There seems to be sign of what was a struggle by the bodies on the floor and the battle wounds. He walks over to the group, “Boy, what fight did I miss?”

After Daellin, Samad and Alistar fill Thim in on what happened, they move to quickly check the room behind the file room and find a storage room. Thim cannot stop staring at the arrow sticking out of Daellin’s shoulder, but does not say anything about it, only winces a few times when Daellin turns. Boxes of old files and papers are stacked in one corner of this small room, opposite a half-dozen brooms and other cleaning supplies. One corner of the small room is strangely clean and clear of supplies. A trap door in the floor is easily discovered here. After carefully checking it for traps or dangers, it is opened, revealing a 5 foot square shaft leading down with a climbing rope tied off. It looks to descend about 20 feet before opening up into a dark room below.

Daellin reaches back over his shoulder and pulls the arrow out slowly.  He attempts a bit of first aid hoping it will be enough before he can get some real help.  Picking up the bloodied arrow he inspects it for clues to its maker.  After studying it for a bit he discards it on the ground.  Mentally he adds its owner to the list of unsolved mysteries surrounding the party. Unperturbed by recent events Daellin is ready to forge onward.  “Let’s see where this passageway leads!”  Without really waiting for a response Daellin climbs down the rope and into the darkness.

Daellin’s shoulder throbs as he starts down the rope. Removing an arrow from one's own shoulder is harder that it seems. It at least removing it painlessly. The climb down is easy enough, but quite quickly, Daellin finds himself in near darkness as he leaves the narrow shaft and dangles in an open space he assumes is the chamber below. He can feel that he is at the end of the rope and reaches down with his feet and finds the ground. The faint light from above tells him he is in a good sized room, about 15’ by 20’. Daellin can see several dark shapes along the walls, but can make out no details. He thinks he recalls having his Eternal Candle somewhere in his backpack, then again, he could always cast Dark Vision as well.  He shakes the rope to let those above him know that he is down safely. He then hears what sounds like boots quietly scuffing on stone flagstones. The sound is muffled, as if possibly behind a door or around a corner, but cannot see well enough in this darkness to tell exactly where, though he thinks it is to the west. 

Thim cringes a bit as he watches Daellin remove the arrow from his body. After watching him descend into the darkened room below, Thim grabs the rope and slides down. Upon landing Thim carefully moves aside from the climbing rope to avoid anyone falling on him. He also draws his weapons readying for any surprises. It’s dark and Thim has learned from all their previous encounters to be ready. “Have anything to light up this dark room Daellin?” he inquires softly, while struggling to see anything in the room.

Thinking Daellin and Thim would benefit from a little light, Alistar calls out, “I got this,” and casts Sunlight towards the center of the room. 

Samad stood by for a bit and drank one of his potions. He was much more eager to climb down after Alistar’s light spell took effect. 

As Samad makes his way down the rope, the room below is suddenly filled with bright daylight. Daellin and Thim are caught off guard by it and can now clearly see the room around them. It is some sort of training center. Stuffed training dummies line the south wall, crude faces drawn on their heads. Along the east wall are pegs mounted at eye level, some of which have a change of clothing hung on them and nicknames scrawled on the wall above. Three doors lead east, west, and north. The knotted rope hangs from the ceiling by the west door and goes up through a five-foot-wide shaft to the floor above. Alistar stands alone up in the warehouse storage room watching Samad make the climb down, now in perfect, bright sunlight.

After Samad finishes his descent, Alistar grabs the rope and climbs down.

As the heroes make their way down into the room Daellin casts a spell.  “Elea e' i' mori!”  It could be just a trick of the brilliant lighting in the small room but Daellin’s eyes seem somehow more luminous than before.  Daellin moves to the northern and starts checking for traps.

A Chance Meeting

As Daellin starts checking out the door, a familiar voice can be heard calling out from beyond the door to the west, right where the rope hangs. Kallin calls out quietly, “Is that you guys? It’s us out here?” After a quick minute confirming that it is in fact Kallin and Calina, the door is opened and in come two companions. They quickly tell how they met and captured Robella Monchello and Daellin, Samad and Alistar relate their encounters in the warehouse,  though Alistar leaves out the part where he exploded himself with his own lightning spell. Thim recounts checking around the side of the warehouse, picking the lock and entering through what seemed to be a small bedroom at the back of the warehouse. That done, Daellin returns back to the lock at the door to the north.

Session Notes

Characters Present:

Kallin Hawkril, Half-Orc shaman and budding Priest of Pharasma - played by Dan E
Calina - Varisian Human archer and scout - played by Carol C
Daellin Silvanthalas, Elven Farstrider Ranger - played by +Ben L
Samad Aldhul, Human ex-mercenary - played by JeCorey H
Alistar Gavin Lourdis, Human Mageknight- played by Don K
Thim Westerdale, Half-Elf rogue - played by Malcolm G

and +Jason GURPS as the DM


G:Interface Zero 0.04

#GURPS: Interface Zero

version 0.04
August 22, 2018 - January 24, 2019

Gonzo Journalism

Fridy, August 4, 2090

Repeat Customer

Talon all but crawled her way back into her den. That's how she fancied it anyway. A den. It wasn't an apartment, or a room or a flat and it sure as anything wasn't a house or condo. So, a den. The space was a partitioned off area of a partially demolished skyscraper in West Seattle. She wasn't sure exactly, but knew it was at least higher than the 40th floor because she had ranged her balcony to the water below and it was almost 500 feet. It was quite a climb even with the half-assed service elevator that had been rigged up from floors “10” to “30”  on the building next door and that of course came after the “walk” out to the base of the tower across the myriad of rickety bridges, floating scaffolding and precarious planks that stretch from dry land and connect to roofs and lower levels of other flooded buildings of the Heights. 

Talon was coming off of an all night job, actually an all week job, but she got her mark, and good thing too, since she needed the money. She had to replace some equipment from this most recent job. Just a simple skip trace, but it lead her all over the city.  Seattle was cool, she thought, but expensive. Target rich environment though, that was good at least.

As she removed her gear, she stepped out onto her balcony. The sun was coming up in the east, trying its hardest to burn off the fog of night. Unfortunately there was also a thick layer of smoke, a combination of the burning trash fires around the city, the pollution from the numerous stacks in Tacoma in the south and the ever present forest fires in the outlying areas, some caused by occasional lava flows, some by lightning strikes and not a small amount purposefully set for one reason or another. If you could disregard the smoke, it was all very pretty, really. For a land ravaged by numerous natural disasters, there were still quite a lot of trees out there. Numerous rivers and lakes dotted the forest out past the city. And Mount Rainier had some snow remaining on it’s higher parts, not much, but a little. So much green and blue. 

Then, something happened. It happened so fast that Talon was not even able to respond to it until after it happened. As she was standing on the balcony, which wasn’t actually a balcony as much as a part of the building that was missing a large chunk of exterior wall, something fell past. Something big. It looked like a person. She quickly leaped to the edge and peered down in the dim dawn light and could clearly see the shape of a person falling then splashing into the water below. She caught sight of what might have been a small drone trailing it. It hovered near the splashdown site, then disappeared in the maze of flooded building cores. 

As far as she knew, no one else lived this high up in the buildings and very rarely did she ever even see anyone up here. The Bubble Guppies, a rag-tag little group of scavengers that fancied themselves a full-fledged gang, lived in the lower levels of the building and where she crossed over from another nearby building, was in the protected area of a strange commune of folk that didn’t like strangers. They allowed her passage because she paid them a hefty fee and offered her services if needed. There were only about 10 or so accessible floors above her den, and much of that was in terrible disrepair. She had only been up all the way to the top once and even she found it unsettling and dangerous.

Just then, she got a message from Rumor saying he had another job for her. The job was actually from a recent client and not actually a bounty hunting gig, but it sounded like good money and the client requested her specifically. It said to call him back as soon as she could.

Talon was very curious about the body that just hit the water. She briefly wondered to herself if the drone had caused the fall or maybe it was just a desperate jumper (there were always plenty of jumpers); did the person own the drone that followed the body down. 

"Peculiar", she thought aloud, as she scanned the dark water looking for any sign of the body. She shook her head as she walked back into her den, money is money and dead bodies were only profitable if she was the cause of death. Plus, dead bodies were quite plentiful in this city.

She messaged Rumor quickly, hoping to get some sleep before she was needed again.

She catches Rumor and he tells her that he has another job lined up for her. A recent client, Eduardo Kanagawa, the guy who sent Talon after his deadbeat brother a couple of weeks ago, wants Talon to help him, but he says he needs to speak to her in person. The job is for about 15 minutes of work, shouldn’t be dangerous at all, but he’s willing to pay 1000$ for it. Says he wants to meet with Talon today to discuss it. Rumor passes off Eduardo’s contact info to her. She sees the OOL flash in front of her eyes in Hyper Reality then store itself in her little black book. She quickly reviews her file on Eduardo.

Talon passes her fingers through her disheveled hair as she walks to the only working sink. She turns on the water and waits a few seconds for the water to lose the red rusty color. As soon as it turns a pale pink color Talon cups her hands under the sputtering water and splashes it over her face and head. It feels good even though it has a slightly salty smell. She shakes her head vigorously and the droplets of water spray around the small room. 

Talon checks the time and decides she can sleep for an hour before she'd head out to meet Eduardo. Rumor said to meet him today and it will still be today in one hour. Eduardo can wait. Besides she feels exhausted. 

She steps out on the balcony for one more look down at the water surrounding the building she calls home.

There is some activity down at the water, though at almost 200 yards up, it is hard to pick out any details. Talon is pretty sure she can see several people moving around on the floating walkways and maybe even someone on a small boat or skiff of some type. 

She pulls a makeshift curtain across the balcony opening making the room slightly darker. In one corner of the room another opening leads to a smaller room. Crammed into this tiny room is a cot. Talon crawls onto the cot, pulling the doorway curtain loose. It drapes stiffly over the doorway, but it keeps out most of the light of the rising sun.

In an hour, Talon wakes, stretches, then sits on the edge of the bed, her feet barely scraping the dusty floor. After a few moments, she hops over the bed into the slightly larger main room. 

Rendezvous With Eduardo

She checks the time as she heads towards the outside world. She negotiates the maze-like passageways, creaky elevator and numerous planks, her feline abilities making the descent seem effortless. 

It's about 30 minutes before she reaches the lower level. "Time to check where I'm going," she thinks to herself. Talon pulls up the address stored in her digital book on her TAP. She calculates that it would take about 45 minutes to get there, if everything goes smoothly. But in the slums streets, smooth rarely happens. Staying in the shadows of the buildings as much as possible, she heads for a street vendor who sets up her wares on a corner about 3 blocks away. 

Talon stands under an awning across the street from the vendor, waiting until the last customer in line was served and walked away. Talon runs across the street to the cart where Mya Kalani stands everyday, hawking her handmade food pies.  Mya smiles at Talon as she reaches inside the small vendor cart. Her hand reappears holding a hot steaming meat pie. Mya hands the pie to Talon and bows slightly. Mya never charged Talon for the pies. Talon had helped her family once with a threatening gang trying to extract protection money. Talon showed them her own form of protection and the remaining gang members never bothered Mya or her family again.

Talon accepted the meat pie and returned the bow. She turns and heads down the shadowed side of the street. As she enters the crowded areas of the downtown area, she flips the cowl of her cape over her head. Soon she reaches the vestibule of the Spire Zone Tower and enters the elevator. She turns and punches the button to the 65th floor.

Talon triggers the button for her intended floor but nothing happens. The door does not close, the car does not rise. She hits the button again, but nothing. She flips her TAP off of mute and hits the Hyper Tag button floating in front of her. Still nothing. 

A well dressed young woman approaches but stops several yards outside the elevator, “Excuse me, um, ma’am is it? I'm sorry, no unregistered guests allowed, Spire Zone Towers policy. The lobby network would have pinged you but you appear to have your TAP turned off or something. I'm sorry but I'll need you to turn your TAP on to register on the network. Who are you here to see?” 

Talon turns slowly to look at the woman. If her uniform made her look sharp, her eyes made her look equally dull. Talon could smell the drugs oozing from the pores on the woman's skin and wafting off her breath. Talon wrinkles her nose in disgust.

"I have an appointment," Talon says quietly. "Your building systems are inaccurate and not working properly. You really should report that to your supervisors.  I'm sure they wouldn't want the residents to know that the maintenance money they pay each month with their rent is being used for other purposes, like fancy new cars or other luxuries."

Talon smiles slightly as the woman's eyebrows raise slightly, "Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you already knew.

"However, as I said before, I'm expected for an appointment and he won't appreciate the fact that you are holding me up, so be a sport and send the elevator to floor 65."

The attendant narrows her eyes but takes a step back. “Thank you, ma’am. I’ll send your car up to floor 65. Have a wonderful day,” she says as she retreats to the main desk area across the lobby. Talon is quite sure she could see the young woman sweating. The doors of the elevator close and the small car shoots up to the 65 floor quickly. Talon is not sure what to expect. The last time she worked with Eduardo, they had met at a cafe near here, not at his home. The doors slid open silently revealing an oval shaped space about 100 feet long and about 30 feet across at its widest. The middle of the area is open both above and below with a silver railing. About 10 doors line this oval area, each one with the number 65 and a letter on it from A to J. The floor is covered with a thick, rich carpet of swirling brown patterns. Several pieces of art and potted plants adorn the area as well as a few plush chairs, divans and small tables. A bright, natural feeling light shines in from above and a gentle breeze that smells of flowers seems to flow through the area, though Talon is quite sure the sunlight is artificial as it just wasn’t that bright of a day yet. She quickly spies the door with 65C on it.

Talon stood before the door which appeared to have no button to announce her arrival. Her TAP did not help either and she turns it off once more. She frowns momentarily, her eyes narrows. Suddenly the door clicks and slowly opens to a foyer with a middle-aged woman standing in the entryway. Based on her manner of dress, Talon assumes she was a house servant. The woman has a bit of a surprised look on her face. Something about the look tells Talon that the servant is probably a simulacra.  
"Ahh, You must be Ms. Moretti. Mr. Kanagawa is expecting you. This way please," she states flatly, indicating that Talon should follow, then she moves further into the apartment. 

Being a creature of habit, Talon's eyes take in the details and layout of the apartment as she walks through the rooms, following the older woman. The living area is well furnished yet most of the furniture is simple and certainly not expensive. There are a few HR paintings on the walls, the colors complimenting well with the rest of the room. Talon doesn't recognize the artists but she finds that of no consequence. She is not an expert on art.

The woman stops by an open door off the living room, obviously a study or office. She indicates that Talon was to step in and she walks away. Talon steps into the room and looks around.

She sees Eduardo behind a large wooden desk, there are papers, drink and food containers spread haphazardly about the surface. He is bending over, looking at something behind the desk that Talon cannot see. He sits up and jumps a bit, “Oh, you’re here. Hello. I didn’t get a notification from downstairs that you are here.” He stands and hurries around the desk. He is wearing a dress shirt, though quite wrinkled and unbuttoned at the top, but instead of the typical slacks, he is wearing dirty athletic shorts. His black socks are sagging and he is wearing baby blue fuzzy slippers. He looks down at his lower half and gives out a little laugh then shrugs. “It was a long night last night. Took the day off today, working from home really. So, thank you again for coming and of course, thank you for finding my brother for me last month. My mother was so relieved to have those documents of my father’s back. Anyway, have a seat,” he motions toward two boxy looking chairs near the window. They do not look very comfortable and appear to be made out of hard plastic or some other shiny surface, but when Eduardo sits down, he nearly melts into the chair. Talon follows suit and finds the uncomfortable looking seat suddenly flow and reshape around her, adjusting to her exact shape, posture and weight. It is almost as if she were floating on a cloud. He notices the momentary look of surprise as she settles into the chair. “Nice, ehh? Brand new, from China, or one of the many places that it owns. Only the best from the Mandarinate.” He turns and looks out the window. “Like the view?” He leans forward and cranes his neck upward, “At the right angle you can see the top of the Spire. I’ve lived here a year now and I still think it’s cool!” A casual look out the window gets Talon a view of the building one block over. She does not lean in and crane her neck to see the Spire, she’s seen it before. 

“Want a drink?” He offers as he pops the top off of an energy drink can produced from a small fridge behind his chair. “Anyway, so the job I need you for, well, it’s not a bounty job, but it's totally easy, will literally take 15 minutes of your time and I’ll pay you 1000 credits. You don't have to chase anyone, beat anyone up or even draw your weapon. Totally easy! You ever wanted to be on tv? Like an icon or reporter or something?” He smiles big at her, as if the thought had occurred to him more than once. Though he is smiling and seemingly happy, Talon can tell he is exhausted and anxious about something.

Talon stares blankly for a moment. The offer was very unexpected. She certainly never considered doing something as public as TV. On the other hand, the money - -

"Tell me more about this proposition," Talon says quietly,  "It doesn't sound like one of my typical endeavors. But I'm always open to expanding my resume." 

"But," she pauses, leans forward as the fluid-like chair adjusts then continues, "Mr. Kanagawa, I would also appreciate hearing the whole story. You are obviously feeling stressed and troubled and I think the job you are offering may not as simple and straightforward as you indicate."

Talon sits back in the chair and thinks to herself, "I've gotta get one of these chairs."

“No seriously, it'll be a piece of cake. You ever play Bamapana? What? No? Oh, seriously, it's fantastic.” Talon sees Eduardo’s over-tired eyes light up with pure joy as he explains Bamapana to her. The game, he explains, it's a Virtual Reality MMORPG about executives and shareholders of a fictional megacorp. Deals are made, stocks are traded, boardroom intrigue abounds and there is even corporate espionage. The interesting thing about this game is that it incorporates real life actions as side-quests to obtain certain in game benefits. Eduardo seems very excited and into this game and has snagged the rights to carry out one of the more worthwhile side-quests, but another real-life event has demanded his attention. “I’ve been putting off this presentation with my boss all week, well, because I’ve been playing a bit too much of Banapama, but I really don’t want to lose this bonus. It cost me 500 credits just to get the credentials to bid on the task in-game, but it has to be done tomorrow at 9am, for 15 minutes. And if I’m not at work presenting my new sales scheme to my boss at 9, I’ll be fired. That can’t happen. I can’t believe I got myself into this situation.” He puts his head in his hands and moans for a moment, then looks back up at Talon. “That’s where you come in. You can do the task for me. I’ll just need you to log-in on the game right before you start. The job is easy, like I said. This task is more of a prank, it’s called “Ambush Journalism.” You have to go down to this media storage facility, ZRTech, it’s out near Sea-Tac somewhere, I’ll give you the address, tomorrow morning at 9am and demand to see the facilities director. Hell, he probably won’t even be there on a Saturday. You have to pretend to be a journalist doing a report on how the memory repositories use too much coolant to keep the storage banks at optimal temperature or something like that. The task says that it does not really matter what you are there for, only that you engage on-site for 15 minutes in character. At best, you’ll be harassing some receptionist or security guard. 1000 credits.” He sees Talon’s eyes narrow as he explains the details of the job. “Shit!” he says, “You can have the chair too! Seriously, the pair set me back nearly 10k. It’s yours. Hell, you can take it today if you want! Come on, you gotta do this for me!” As far as Talon can tell, this upright is hell bent on getting this little prank for his VR game done, it means a lot to him and he just may be willing to up the ante a bit. “I’ll hook you up with a follow drone with a camera for the job too, you won’t even have to pilot it. It follows and shoots over your shoulder at default. Simple TAP commands will have it move to a forward position to focus on you easily enough. Whaddya say?”

Talon grins, her sharp teeth gleaming from the sunlight streaming through the window. 

"Mr. Kanagawa you seem like a really nice guy. It's sad that you have fallen into this trap. Gaming is highly addictive for many people. 

"Look, I'll  do this thing for you. I'll bank the 1000 credits, take the chair and when I'm done the drone is mine. I sure hope this in-game bonus is worth it because out of game it's going to cost you. I'm not some cheapo Stimmer looking for their next fix. 

"So, Eduardo," Talon says pointedly, "Whaddya say?"

“What? The drone? Oh, yea, sure.  It's yours! totally! And yea this is one of the highest tasks on the board. This is more than a game. Getting my name to the top of the leaderboard will help me with my real job. It'll open some doors for me, smooth over some deals, that kind of stuff. Plus it's just cool!” Her gets up and starts rummaging through a nearby closet and pulls out a box. It's bright packaging and plasticel front reveal that is a hover drone with built in camera and selfie or over the shoulder mode. He holds it up facing Talon. “Here it is. ICU3DX. It's not top of the line or anything but it'll work. You got the controls loaded yet? Want to keep the box or what? Oh, yea, and Maude will help you take the chair down. But hey, use the service elevator. We're not supposed to use the resident lift for stuff like that.” He stares at her, but feels like he's looking through her. He lifts his hand and wiggled his fingers in the air a bit, as odd look coming across his face. “I just realized. Seems like your TAP isn't even on.  I can't transfer you the money or control of the drone.”

Talon's eyes widen and she smiles. "Forgive me, I'll turn the TAP on. I usually try to keep myself and my whereabouts to myself. It is an added edge I need in my profession."

Talon flips off the mute, then nods to Eduardo, "I'm ready for the transfer." She watches the bank account balance increase by $1000 credits and in the other corner she watches as the upload progresses in seconds. The access panel with command options opens once the upload completes. Talon swipes the air left and the panel disappears. She taps the bank account window and the window logs off.

She stands and turns to the bright yellow char as it smoothly resets to a block of seemingly hard plastic. "I think it would be better if I arrange for the pick up and delivery of the chair." Talon smiles as the image of carrying the bright cube through the busy streets rolled in her imagination.

“Great,” Eduardo beams. “I really appreciate this, a lot. I really do. It’s been a pleasure doing business with you again.” He takes a minute, pulls up a shared HR window and shows Talon how to log into Bamapana so she can do it in the morning before entering the ZRTech lobby. “You don’t have to go full immersion for the event, just check it like this so it knows that I’m there and the one doing it. This is great, thank you again. Maude will show you out though, I really have to get back to work on my presentation,” he says as he moves back toward his desk. He looks down at his desk and manipulates his fingers ever so slightly, obviously working on some HR objects, no longer paying any attention to Talon. 

Maude, the housemaid, appears near the door and directs Talon toward the door. “Master Kanagawa says you will be calling about the FormChair? Here is the number to contact, I will help you make any arrangements, thank you.” As Maude shows Talon back out to the plush hallway, she can hear Eduardo yelling at someone from his office. Maude smiles at Talon in one of those completely mechanical simulacra smiles and closes the door. 

Talon does a quick check to make sure she has all the info she needs to do the job in the morning and feels confident that she does. The calls the elevator with her TAP and within moments, the car arrives and the door opens. The ride back down is even quicker than the ride up and in no time she is striding back across the lobby to the street. Several building staff watch her go with steely eyes and she notices one security guard step up, placing his hand on his stun baton at his belt. She pays no mind to this as she is leaving, and hopefully never has to come back to this place again.

Back On The Street

Out on the busy street, she contemplates what her next move is. It’s about noon and the sidewalks, streets and skies above are busy with traffic. Nearby, Talon spies the young attendant from the lobby sitting on a bench. A small carton is sitting on her lap. She is bawling profusely into her small hands. 

Talon stops for a moment to watch the woman on the bench. It definitely is the woman from the elevator encounter. Talon is curious because she doesn't understand why the woman is crying.

On the other hand Talon is not sure if she really cares about the woman. She looks up the street as if to walk away then turns back to watch carefully. The woman heaves a huge sigh, then takes something out of her purse. From where Talon is standing, the item looks like a gun. Now Talon is interested!

She walks quietly to the bench and stands behind the woman. From here Talon can see the contents of the box had been carelessly thrown into a jumble. And the woman indeed has a small gun gripped in her hand and laying in her lap. 

"Is the gun for herself," Talon wonders, "or is it for the person who made her cry?"

The woman seems to make a decision and stands up. Talon asks quietly, "Did you make sure the gun is loaded?"

The woman spins to face Talon, “What? Who? Are you fucking kidding me? You cat-faced bitch! You got me fired! Such fucking hybrid trash! That's all you are!” She screams and curses at Talon, waving her hands in the air threateningly though not once doors she point the gun at Talon. Instead, she lashes out with it like a club, trying to hit Talon. Her very obvious attack goes wide though, missing Talon completely. 

Talon quickly grabs the woman's wrist of the gun-holding hand. Her wrist felt small and fragile in Talon's hand. She pulls the woman close and swings her around. 

The woman is now facing away from Talon and the weapon falls to the sidewalk barely making a sound as it hits the pavement. The street noise covers the sound and no one pays attention to the two standing near the bench.      

Talon leans close and whispers, "If you're going to kill me, at least allow me the courtesy of knowing my murderer's name."

The woman sobs and doesn't reply. Talon becomes annoyed with this behavior. She tries a different approach and this time her voice growls with frustration. 

"You blame 'me' for the loss of your job. This is simply not possible. 'You' are the one that didn't follow security protocol. 'You' are the one that allowed me access to the elevator."

"And you can't tell me, Madam Teary Eyes, that this was your first offense!" Talon voices emphatically.

The woman stiffens and stops weeping. Talon loosens her grip slightly and turns the woman to face her.

"Now, I ask you again. What is your name?"

When Talon turns the woman, she sees that the woman is burning with rage. She spits right in Talon's face and stomps down on her foot with her spike heeled shoes. “Help! Help! This thing is attacking me! She's hurting me!”

"Away with you then," Talon says as she pushes the woman back onto the bench. "Maybe one day you can accept your own shortfalls. And quit sniffling. It's very annoying"

Her foot still smarts from the high heel as Talon walks away from the bench intending to blend into the crowded street and stops. Talon looks back at the woman over her shoulder.

"Just to set the record straight, I walked over to ask if you needed help," Talon slowly says. 

Talon takes two more steps away from the woman and peers back at her, "My name is unimportant but you can find me by asking around the Heights. I mean, just in case you change your mind."

Talon races into the street crowd and disappears in the shadows cast by the tall buildings.

Talon walks several blocks at a brisk pace, keeping to the alleys and narrower streets just for good measure. She finally stops to catch het breath and looks around, taking in her surroundings and sees she's near 3rd Avenue and Vine Street, several blocks south of the Spire, though she can't see it from here due to her proximity to some buildings. 

Talon takes a deep breath to clear her mind. She needs to decide what to do next. The contact with the crazy lady doesn't set well. Why the woman didn't want help is beyond her comprehension. If the woman no longer has a job, Talon could offer her advice on getting a new one.

She shakes her head and dismisses the incident altogether. It's time to check with Rumor anyway. Plus she needs to find a way to get the squishy chair delivered. It's possible Rumor might know someone.

Talon walks to a nearby cafe. She knows the owners and knows she won't be hassled by other patrons. The owners are an older couple who are caring and very hard working. The man and woman remind Talon of her own parents except for the caring and hard working part. 

She waves as she walks in a sits down in a booth at the back of the cafe. The old woman, Darrisa, smiles as she brings Talon a bottle of beer. 

A few minutes later the older man, Frank, brings Talon a large plate of steaming roast beef and warm, crusty bread. Talon takes a large gulp of beer before she turns on her TAP to call Rumor.

She eats her meal as Rumor answers. “Hey, so you get all squared away with Kanagawa? I assume it wasn't anything serious or delicate, right? Didn't feel like it when he called me. Don't worry about my fifteen, but really, how much was the job? You need something else? What can I do?”

"Yeah, Rumor. Deal seems fine, just a little weird. Actually more unusual than weird. But listen, I could use some help. I got some extra incentive for the job and it wasn't something I could just stick in my pocket, you know? I need you to arrange pickup of a package from Kanagawa's apartment."

Talon relays the contact number received from the simulacrum woman, "Have it delivered to yourself. And Rumor?  You're welcome!"

Talon closes the communication and smiles. Rumor's bad back will shiver with excitement when he sits in the chair for the first time. That little piece of furniture should place her on top of the list for prime contracts in the future. At least she hopes so. She cocks her head in thought for a moment. Talon then proceeds to finish off her meal. 

She finishes the meal and heads back out onto the street. It’s mid afternoon and the Seattle streets are busy. The sun is up there somewhere, she assumes, though cannot see it for all of the tall buildings around her. Not to mention the thick blanket of clouds that are always in the sky over head. She checks the Bounty Board to see if there are any new jobs available but there is nothing worth dealing with. She slinks toward the shadows of the edge of the building as she decides what she will do next. Her job for Kanagawa isn’t until tomorrow morning and she has plenty of time to kill.  

Talon considers her next move. It's too early to go back to her place and she feels edgy and restless.  

She walks down various streets until she finds an alley that opens on both ends into mostly deserted streets. Here she squats down on the pavement. 

Talon opens the drone box and sets the drone in front of her and looks it over. Upon casual observation, she doesn't see anything unusual about the drone. She stands and directs it upwards and places it into automatic mode. It veers slightly and slowly descends, hovering behind and above her right shoulder. Noticing a large rat waddling down the alley, she commands the drone to target the rat and start recording.Talon zooms in on the rat as it rummages through the garbage in the alley. The rat stops for a moment and stares at Talon as if posing.

"Nice," she comments. The controls are easy and not too sensitive. Talon opens the main menu and selects Options. Nothing unusual here either. She swipes the menu closed and chooses System Settings.

At first nothing looks strange until she checks the camera settings. The camera was set to transmit video to Net addresses. Was this normal for these types of games. She shakes her head. She doesn't know. She leans against the building and thinks. Does this affect her? Does it affect how the game will end tomorrow? Does she even care?

And that last thought concerns her. Of course she cares if multiple video recordings are logged indicating where she lives. She cares enough to know that she will turn the drone off before she goes home. She does her best to limit the number of people who know where she lives.

She lands the drone, then places it back into the box. Maybe she doesn't even want to take the thing home with her. She continues to think as she walks out of the alley and back onto the side street. She thinks she is being paranoid, but being paranoid has kept her alive this long.

As she walks, she considers the details of this job. She is supposed to impersonate some sort of reporter or journalist at a data storage company. Strange. What do reporters look like? What do they wear. She is not sure she has any “reporter” clothes and will probably need to find some. She also wonders about where this will go down. ZRTech. Somewhere down near the airport. She wonders what the neighborhood is like so she looks it up. The building in the image she finds looks nice, lots of brick and glass. Looks clean but who knows if that’s accurate. Images show one main entrance, maintenance and emergency exits on the other three sides and a small loading dock from an alley in the back, opposite the front doors.

As she walks, she opens a viewing channel on her TAP. She swipes multiple times until she finds broadcast of the Seattle Daily News. The actual news doesn't interest her and the broadcast drones on. The reporters featured so far were men so she waits until a woman reporter started speaking. She uses this observation to formulate an idea of body language and most importantly appropriate clothing. She wrinkles her nose in disgust at the clothes. Talon has seen this style displayed in multiple stores but she certainly never shops there for herself. But jobs frequently have unusual,  unorthodox or even freaky requirements but pay well and in the end it's just another job.

She checks for the nearest women's fine clothing store and heads in that direction. She enters the store, looks around for a few minutes while under the scrutiny of a suspicious store clerk. She picks out an expensive blouse, blazer and slacks. She tosses them to the startled young woman.

"Be a dear and tally this up for me," Talon says as nicely as she can muster. She smiles at the clerk but her sharp white teeth look menacing

She looks down as her boots and adds "Wait! Find a me pair of shoes. And sweetie, no heels." Talon gives the clerk the shoe size.

Once the transaction is completed, Talon moves quickly out of the store. For no perceptible reason the experience put her on edge. 

Talon decides to take a cab to the building where tomorrow's job will take place. The ride is quick and the cabbie does not try to have a conversation with her. She steps out of the cab and looks up at the building.

Scoping the Target

It is just after 6pm when Talon arrives at the location. ZRTech looks just like it did in the pictures she had researched. The business appeared to be closed, though the lobby lights were on at a dim level and a young man can be seen sitting behind a receptionist's desk, probably the evening security. Traffic on the street and walkways around the building is brisk, not heavy but definitely present. No one pays any particular attention to Talon as she stands on an opposite street corner casing the building. 

Talon stares at the building trying to decide the next step. The building looked nice and the lobby seems modern. The security guard looks settled in for the night and probably doesn't have reason to be attentive. She considers trying to get inside the lobby but that doesn't seem like a wise or even necessary step for tonight

Her stomach rumbles loudly and she realizes it's close to dinner time.  Talon turns to walk away from the building and heads to one of her usual eating places. Her meal eaten, she decides to head back to her den and start fresh in the morning.

Talon makes her way carefully back to her place and makes the long climb up. She reaches the top just as the sun is setting out over the ocean to the west, casting long shadows over the Heights and the city beyond. She hits the sack and worries a bit because the wind is blowing hard and making quite a racket up here, but she manages to fall asleep easily and sleeps until morning.

Cast of Characters: 

Casanna "Talon" Moretti: a tiger hybrid bounty hunter; played by Carol C

and Jason GURPS as the GM

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