MemberAugust 3, 2020 at 5:14 pm
Mato looks pensive at what AM has to say about the dog-eat-dog world.
“I guess it’s true that everybody has a boss. Politicians have the voters, CEOs have the Board of Directors, dragons have their council and their hierarchy. Maybe there are some ronin wandering the Earth, but even they answer to their bellies.
“Speaking of bellies… cake? Yeah, cake would be good. I’m hungry. I’ve been walking a lot recently. Skimming, I suppose. I ran most of the way back from Laramie. Slowed down after Butte because of the mountains… and the news. Almost got creamed by some snowplows, so I hitchhiked with some truckers over the passes. Warmer and safer than skimming, that’s chip truth.”
AdministratorAugust 4, 2020 at 6:55 am
Bobby thought for a moment before speaking – a novel concept for him:
“I don’t have quite the same education as you and what I think is much more coming from my gut than from any erudition:
I hate the thought that a malevolent spirit decides what happens to me – likewise with a dragon. It’s not so bad with a human. Humans are mortal. If necessary I can personally ensure they are deposed. The mayor is elected – not necessarily by us, but she still has to show a modicum of restraint to keep her image in the populance. There is some recourse – not much certainly – but some at least to keep your freedom.
Getting shot is one thing – but having your life and soul devoured is in my opinion something worse. Just as I think rape is the worse crime than murder – mainly because there can be justification for murder.
As for moving: The contacts we have will keep even if we move – as long as we keep showing up and calling. And we’ll make new contacts at a different place, so we’ll have twice as many afterwards.
More important: The second in command of the Helloweeners has pretty openly declared me a target. If it was just me I wouldn’t worry – I can get away at a moment’s notice. But I have you all with me and I hate to think what collateral damage that could cause. Basically: We’ll have to move at some place in time – and I’d prefer to do it before our house got firebombed.
And yes, I’d like some cake too.”
- This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by jack_spade.
MemberAugust 4, 2020 at 9:57 am
AM says “I get that it is a gut feeling, and I do feel it. I try to keep open-minded, there was a dragon president so I can accept a dragon as a crime boss. There are powerful spirits in the board of directors of some important cooperations, and since spirits do not naturally evolve, I assume they stole their power from humanity. So suddenly a gang led by a fire spirit does not strike me as such a novelty.”
She looks pensivebut the Haloweeners are a problem, and moving to another part of the city is not a solution when the Haloweeners got mages with spirits, and we still need to visit Redmond from time to time. You know what scares me the most about the Haloweeners, since they always wear makeup – when they take it off nobody recognizes them as criminals. They can leave Redmod easily.”
She sighs “We may want to solve this Haloweener problem with diplomacy or violence.”
MemberAugust 4, 2020 at 1:00 pm
“I think I see things the same way as Bobby, for the most part.
“But 90K is 90K, and I wouldn’t mind a piece of that, so let’s keep that opportunity in play. It sounds like Big Stank wasn’t looking for a straight ‘yes’ or ‘no’, so we can slow-play our response to keep our options open.
“Jawsey, do you want to cook up a spirit to start poking around the astral? It’s a big Sprawl; it might take a few days, maybe even a week or more. I think Bobby’s idea of starting in Puyallup is solid. If she’s familiar with the Barrens then her instinct might be to swap the Redmond Barrens for the Puyallup Barrens. Plus, as Bobby says, there’s a solid Latino community there she might try to tap.
“On that note, Bobby, do you want to get out of the district for a while? You can poke around Puyallup for a while, see what there is to see, hear what there is to hear. Maybe you pick up her trail, maybe you don’t, but at least you’re away and not crossing paths with the Halloweeners every day.
“I can keep watch here. With the sleep regulator, I can do long shifts, and my legs don’t get tired standing at the window. I have plenty to think about while I watch.”
MemberAugust 4, 2020 at 10:28 pm
“Certainly I can get going on the spirit search. I should be able to fly with one to central Puyallup and have it start from there. Not that it really matters, but I’ll use the lodge here for the summoning, if AM doesn’t mind.”
“One additional thought — and something I didn’t think of in time to ask Big Stank — is that the ambush did some damage. There will be burned gangers and burned bikes. Ganger reputation is that they’ll fix up their bikes before themselves, but that will take some tools and supplies. Likely suppliers for bike repair, and possibly street docs, could both be sources of clues. But it is a big ‘plex, knowing who the Crush know would certainly help make that less of a needle in a haystack.”
MemberAugust 5, 2020 at 12:53 am
Cake is obtained and consumed with the soykaf that Jawsey brought from Bellevue. Sadly, the local bakery is within the radius affected by the power outage, and thus had not been able to bake for several days. Instead, you’re forced to get two NutraSoy Energy Cakes™ from the local Stuffer Shack. At least they taste delicious, since the most brilliant food scientists at Aztechnology have turned their collective brain power into making NutraSoy Energy Cakes™ irresistible.
“So, what do you think, Bobby?” Mato asks. “You want to slink around Puyallup in animal form for a while? I know the weather is turning cold, but try to be something skinny. If they think you have any meat on your bones, they’ll try plunk you in a pot for dinner.”
AdministratorAugust 5, 2020 at 2:06 am
Bobby nodded: “Way ahead of you on that. I’ll go as a crow – no-one eats carrion eaters. But I’ll have to leave in person, so informers of the CC and Helloweeners will know that I left. I’ll get in contact with you when I can – and also prepare infodumps for Lysander. Should help to pay my quarter of the rent at least.”
MemberAugust 5, 2020 at 8:31 am
AM blushes when Jawsey mentions their medicine lodge. “Think positive thoughts on me when you see it, I did not join the Satan worshipper cult I assure you.” She buries her embarrassment about the twisted cat parts in her slice of cake, and then another. She tells them “Give me about a week to finish my spiritlike construct, and I will go to any other shitty neighborhood you desire. Perhaps next time we rent a place with an extra room for the medicine lodge.”
MemberAugust 5, 2020 at 1:16 pm
“Well it will take a while to scout new places and do the due diligence. Let’s see how December goes and if we survive the month without a Molotov through the front window.”
You can see the wheels churning in Mato’s mind as he contemplates ballistic glass.
“I’m told that December is a good month for private detectives. People get depressed with Seasonal Affective Disorder and think their spouse is cheating on them. Stores need background checks for their holiday employees. Routine stuff, but quick nuyen.
“But while Bobby and Jawsey are combing through Puyallup, maybe they can keep an eye open for landing spots if we need one. Hey, Bobby, maybe swear a whole bunch at me when you storm out of here, right? Make it seem like you’re unhappy I’m back.”
Jawsey summons while AM goes back to her astral constructs while Bobby leaves while Mato stands next to the front windows with his AK propped on his shoulder.
Puyallup is a blighted land with a few modest outposts. Downtown Puyallup, also called Puyallup City, is a small oasis of order, somewhat akin to Touristville but without the red-light districts and thus without tourists. There are extensive lava flats from where Mt. Rainier erupted in 2017. The mana here isn’t so emotionally tainted, but it’s tight from the lack of life. The rest of the district is Barrens. Before the eruption, it was largely rural pasture. Then, with the Treaty of Denver, it was quickly covered with housing for the refugees displaced from NAN lands. The construction was some combination of quick, shoddy, and corrupt. The buildings were intended to be temporary but here they still are, 60 years later, except for the ones that aren’t because they’ve collapsed. It’s a desperate place for desperate people.
By Monday, Bobby has identified Carbonado as the primary Latino community. It’s at the far east side of the district, right alongside the Salish-Shidhe border in the foothills of the Cascades. It’s a mining community full of pits, quarries, and tunnels.
Over the course of the day, Bobby observes the town in his various forms. He learns that the dominant gang here is the Chulos, a mixed-race gang (with orks being dominant) of Latino heritage, although the definition of Latino is highly flexible. Bobby sees the gunning up and down the highway on their motorcycles, which might not warrant any notice until he overhears some of the townsfolk talking about how the motorcycles are new and how the Chulos always used to prefer convertibles and chop-top sedans. Motorcycles aren’t very practical for the mountains anyway.
On Tuesday, Bobby summons the rest of the team to investigate. Mato, as an ork and (evidently) half-Aztlaner, is welcomed with open arms by the Chulos, who wonder why he doesn’t have any tattoos of naked ladies on his chest like they do. Mato puts his rudimentary Spanish and his slightly better personality to the test. It also helps that he can drink them under the table, his nephritic screen keeping him sober while the Chulos get more and more loquacious. By the end of the day he comes away with some useful information.
“She was here,” he says. “They all were. The Chulos have smuggling tunnels that go across the border. Marita bartered their Crush motorcycles for transport across the border, plus some old beater trucks and sedans that are better for the mountains. She’s been in Salish-Shidhe since last Friday or Saturday. She’s in the wind.”
He rubs the bridge of his nose in frustration.
“Evidently they were headed for Cascade Orks lands. They were probably there over the weekend at the same time I was there. Not that I knew, not that I could have done anything about it. Big Stank hadn’t even approached us yet. But still… small world. Except that it isn’t because now they could be anywhere in Salish-Shidhe or beyond.”
He gives a deep exhale.
“The Salish tribes are very decentralized. The Cascade Ork pretty much do their own thing, often to the frustration of the other tribes. The orks will sometimes sell honorary tribal memberships or trade them for services rendered. I didn’t need it because I already have a Sioux SIN, but Marita…?”
He sighs again.
“We can go on a field trip, go back to Cascade Ork and learn what there is to learn. Maybe we get lucky, but Marita and her crew could be anywhere in the western half of North America with new credentials.”
MemberAugust 5, 2020 at 9:12 pm
“[Color red]Spend time and treasure in chasing after them, in hopes of scoring big? Or make the most of the December rush, while we keep our ears open?/color]”
“[Color red]I’d bet on at least some of them coming crawling back to the sprawl in a while. What are they going to do out there when their money and favors run out? That is part of why I didn’t go back to Tsimshian, even after the original thugs got kicked out of government; the sprawl is one big vein of poisoned blood that we all feed off of, and it is hard to switch diets.[/color]“
MemberAugust 6, 2020 at 2:28 am
Cat thirteen was the first one to survive the materialization process, but it took a lot of studies to understand what makes the difference. It was a subtle point that Jawsey would know instinctively but took AM a lot of reasoning lacking the spiritual connection.
Bear was always about the connection, and he did not even know the universal magical theory. He was a full mage and could supplement his sorcery with things that AM could not do. The answer came from the universal magic theory rather than Shamanism. The construct needed to a physical link to this world, she needed blood as part of the formula.
Initially, AM thought of using the blood of a real cat, but then she figured that it was not the trids. He needs a connection to the physical world, not specifically to cats. She uses her blood, which doubled as the connection the construct required to her. It was part of her, her mystical child, getting the blood took a few attempts.
She never willingly harmed herself before, but after a deep breath, she cut her hand and bleed out to a small glass. Feeling the loss, of vitality and the physical sacrefice, she became dizzy, but she did not stop until the cup was full. Blood was only a symbol of her sacrifice, the countless hours of obsession and study. Troubles was her baby! Even before he came to be, she loves that cat. He is only a formula now, but he is a perfected formula, of elegance and sophistication—the climax of sorcery and a defining moment for her. She created something new, and the design was flawless, simple, and elegant. AM stroked the notebook containing Trouble’s formula – it was her baby – and he was ready to be born. For the first time in a long while, she felt content, happy even.
AdministratorAugust 6, 2020 at 7:29 am
Bobby had done as Mato asked and cursed up a storm that people on the street stopped to look as Bobby – a lot hairier than usual, clad only in a flats overall with paper shoes stormed off down the street.
Going crow was not bad. For one thing, crows were surprisingly social and knew how to have fun. For another, food was never short in a city where people left half eaten stuff for the trash. The small form helped to keep his energy needs low, so he didn’t have to partake to often and could be picky. Thankfully. He had no intentions to eat eyes fresh from corpses, although there were the odd occassions in the Barrens where he could have.
When the team reconvened after Mato’s stint as a Latino ganger he said:
“No sense in following them back to tribe country. Travel doesn’t pay and we don’t have a good way to collect them.
But I do have a contact in the SDF. Decentralized as the place is, the military still likes to keep taps on potential troublemakers. I’m sure Captain Razack can keep an eye on them for me. As soon as they give signs of returning to Seattle, he’ll let me know. Thinking about it, I’m sure he’ll take that info as part of me being sent here anyway.”
And so Bobby composed a message to his earstwhile commanding officer that had got him this post in the first place: <<Please find attached a file on a group of Ex-Crimson Crush gangers that seem to have taken refuge in the SSC lands, also attached last known locations. Please inform me if they make moves to come back here – especially their leader.
Thanks and best regards
MemberAugust 6, 2020 at 1:55 pm
“Well it’s the Salish that are decentralized, not the Sioux or the Pueblos,” Mato says, rubbing his chin.
Captain Razack responds reasonably quickly: <<I’ll keep an eye on them if they cross into Sioux territory. If they stick to Salish-Shidhe lands, a handful of gangers won’t ever hit my radar.>> As an afterthought, he adds, <<Officially or unofficially>> just in case there was some ambiguity about whether or not he really would notice.
He follows up with a personal inquiry: <<You keeping your nose clean and your paws dirty?>>
Mato shrugs. “I know travel doesn’t pay, but I thought you were trying to duck the Halloweeners for a while. No Halloweeners in the woods, that’s for sure.”
MemberAugust 6, 2020 at 2:21 pm
“Borders don’t concern spirits much. One mountain is a huge territory, the range of the Cascade Orc is even bigger, and the whole of Salish-Sidhe … well no spirit search will cover all of it. But whenever I don’t otherwise need a spirit I can send one of the Hunter Brothers out that way to start looking. I guess starting just across the border from Carbonado. If nothing else it might help Bobby know where not to look. And they can check in on him, too.“
AdministratorAugust 6, 2020 at 4:58 pm
“Point. And a good one. Alright, I’ll go look for them. A little walkabout certainly won’t hurt my spiritual well being. I’ll leave Razacks contact with you.
Having a spirit around to keep in contact with you is a good idea. I’ll designate places to them where I can be found at certain times of day, so I can report back and give you details on my progress.”
To Razack he replied: <<Since you haven’t read about me in the media – I’d say so, yes. My colleagues will take messages for me – I’ll be off for a few days or maybe weeks.>>
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