Drowning in the Shadows

Session Interlude
- Mac

The small, dingy room was quiet, except for the buzz of the fluorescent light overhead. Mac sat at the industrial grey metal table, an untouched styrofoam cup of soykaf tiny in his massive hand, the right side of his face swathed in bandages. Between the pain meds and the local the DocWagon boys gave him, he felt like he was feeling the world through thin cotton gauze.
It was still too much.
The door opened and a woman walked in. She was big, for a human, though nowhere close to Mac’s size. She wore black biker leathers, high-heeled boots, and a shock of purple hair. Mac indicated the submachine gun hanging at her hip as she approached the table.
“Got a license for that?”
“After the night you’ve had, do you care?”
“Not really.” He looked down at his soykaf, swirling the thin, pale liquid around in the cup. “You’re not one of us.”
“Pretty obvious, isn’t it?” She turned around the chair on the other side of the table and sat straddling the back, her arms folded across the top. “You can call me Jane.”
“I got debriefed already. I want to go home.”
“This won’t take long, I promise.”
“Look, lady…”
“No, you look, omae. You lost your partner tonight, and I’m sorry about that, I really am. But it’s my job to find the mage who geeked him, and I need your help to do that.”
He really looked at her for the first time, his one unbandaged eye blinking as if he were waking up. “KE is on it. And when they take me off medical leave, I’m on it. The bastard won’t get far, don’t worry.”
She sighed. “I’m consulting on this case as an Awakened expert. You don’t get taken off leave until I sign off on it.”
Mac’s voice dropped an octave into a low, threatening growl. “My face got burned, that’s it. I don’t see where you get off having any input on my medical leave.”
“It’s more complicated than that, Tyler,” Jane said, waving her hand in the air. “There’s magical aspects to consider. Ever heard of a poisoned fireball? Mind control? Emotional tampering? On top of the physical and psychological trauma, you got hit by a mage, and from what I understand, he or she had at least a few minutes with you out of commission.”
Mac’s face burned again, this time with shame and guilt. “I’m frakking fine! Let me get out after this guy!”
Jane shook her head, her purple bangs flopping into her face. “We both know that’s not the case. But you can still help! Tell me what you remember.”
“Mitchell takes good notes. You can ask her.”
“I need to hear it from you. There’s no substitute for that.” Jane reached across the table and touched one of Mac’s massive hands. “Please, Tyler.”
He pulled away from her, closed his eye, and sighed. “It wasn’t supposed to be anything serious. Stubs and I responded to a call on Tchoup, one of those old, flooded-out warehouses by the riverbed. Caller said somebody was sneaking around. There’s kids down there doing stupid, small-time stuff all the time: drug deals, fights off of school property, secret parties, that kind of shit.”
Mac swigged his soykaf down in one go, crushed the cup in his bony fingers, and tossed it into the wastebasket across the room. “We went in with flashlights drawn, not guns. It just wasn’t that kind of neighborhood, you know? We got about fifteen, twenty steps into the warehouse. It was old, hot, dark, smelled like mildew. Nasty place. We were just about to call it in as a GOA when we heard a noise on the catwalk above us. Stubs flicked up his light and…it happened.”
“What happened?”
“It was a really bright flash of light, and a…I guess a big, roaring sound. Knocked me down hard. I could smell my flesh cooking and I guess Stubs’ too. First thing I saw…once I could see again…was Stubs laying next to me. He was dead, for sure. There was somebody standing over me — maybe a tall human or a short ork, hard to say. He was saying something I couldn’t really hear, or maybe I just couldn’t understand it. I grabbed for my gun and pulled it, but it discharged accidentally before I could aim. Frakker turned and ran when he heard the gunshot. After that…I called for help. And I don’t really remember anything else until the DocWagon showed up.” He shrugged and looked up at Jane. “Does that help?”
She nodded. “It does, thanks. I just have one question for you.”
“Shoot. I wanna go home.”
“When you were hit, you said you smelled burning flesh. Did you smell anything else?”
Mac furrowed his brow, and then winced in pain. The meds were starting to wear off. “Anything else?”
“Ozone? Sulfur? Smoke?”
“I don’t…wait, yeah. Now that you mention it, it did smell kinda like sulfur. Does that mean anything?”
“It might. I need to check it out.” Jane stood up and flipped the chair back to forward-facing on one of its legs. “Go home. Get some rest. I’ll keep you up to date on my investigation, I promise.” She turned and left the room.
Mac didn’t remember leaving the Knight-Errant station, or the drive home. All he remembered was locking the door of his little flophouse apartment and falling onto the bed, then being claimed by restless, nightmare-haunted sleep.

Q&A with Knight Errant
- Mac

Mac thumbed his comm as he sat down in the corner booth of the bar. “Alex. Can’t say it’s great to hear from you again.”

“Mac. Sorry about the circumstances, buddy. Look, we just want to ask you some questions, if you’d turn yourself in at the closest station-”

“It ain’t happening, omae. Sorry. You can ask me questions just fine on comm.”

“If that’s how you want to play it, fine. Why were you at the Creep Show?”

Mac pointed at the grimy drink menu, ordering a cheap, horrible synthahol drink, then shooing the haggard waitress away. “It was a job. We were meeting somebody there for an interview.”

“Really? Who?”

“He didn’t say.”

“Okay…who were you there with?”

“Other job applicants.”

“You gotta give me more than that, Mac.”

“Wish I could. We were told to arrive together. After we left, we went our separate ways. Don’t know ’em.” The waitress placed Mac’s drink in front of him. There was a plastic umbrella in it.

“We know one of the people you were there with got a dance from a girl named Trisha. Y’all didn’t even talk to any other girls, but you spent some time and money with her. Who did you talk to?”

“I guess she knew the little elf girl I came with. They talked like old friends, and she took us upstairs to meet our interviewer. We talked to Trisha and the weaselly guy in the suit who interviewed us. That’s it.”

“What kind of job was it?”

“Didn’t get any details. He asked me a few bullshit questions — you know the ones. ‘Where do you see yourself in five years? What’s your biggest weakness?’ Then he said he’d be in touch. I haven’t heard from him since.”

“Did he ask the others the same things?”

“Don’t know. He interviewed us all separately.”

“Even though you arrived together, per his instructions.”

“I told you: weird, weaselly guy.”

“About the photos we sent — can you confirm the suits at the bar and tables?”

“Don’t ask me to pick out any faces, but sure, that looks like the kind of clientele that was there the other night.”

“What about the dancers?”

“I am NOT looking too close at those. That’s definitely Trisha, and I remember the one in the blue outfit, but I didn’t pay much attention to the others.”

“And the staff?”

“That’s the bartender for sure. I almost bumped into the waitress with the bunny ears, and those trolls are the door bouncers. Beyond that, yeah, that looks like the people on duty, but I couldn’t guarantee it.”

“What about the muscle goons?”

“Yeah, those three orks were in the room where the guy interviewed us. I guessed he was either mob or corp. Which one were they, by the way?”

“If you don’t mind, I’ll ask the questions. And what about the security cam image; the one of the old couple?”

Mac’s brow furrowed as the crazy straw dropped out of his mouth. Son of a bitch….

“They were there, all right. Stuck out like sore thumbs in a place like that. Who are they?”

“Nevermind that. Do these mean anything to you?”

Mac stared at the image of the sooty, slightly-burned tarot cards. “No, they don’t. Never saw ’em.”

But I’m going to find out, he thought to himself.

“Thanks for your help, Mac.”

“So, Alex — you coming after me?”

“We’ll see. Stay in touch.” The KE detective ended the call.

Mac stood and paid for his drink at the bar. As he left, his mind was on fire with questions. It was time to start looking for answers….

Creep Show
Session 1

Tuesday, 2am — Flip, the owner/operator of a 24 hour Soy-Krill burger stand simply called “Flip’s Burgers”, assembles a rag-tag team of ~skilled operators. She gets the team a meet-up with a Mr. Johnson at a place called the Creep Show, a strip joint specializing in goblinized talent. The team receives instructions to create an incident with enough credibility as to be the reason for Renraku to fire one of its subcontractors “for cause” so as to avoid Corporate Court issues. Renraku is constructing an arcology in Lake Pontchartrain and suspects this construction sub of having too many ties to a competing megacorp, Saeder-Krupp. The meet goes well enough that they walk away with additional info and a promised pay-date.

While discussing the job at a cafe down the street from the Creep Show, the team hears an explosion and rushes to investigate. They see several patrons and entertainers exit the Creep Show and smoke billowing from the door. The bar and troll bouncers seem to agree that everyone made it out, but some quick investigation by Celfie reveals that protection for Mr Johnson, 3 orcs, were all shredded by the blast. Mr. Johnson is not to be found.

The team tries to continue with the job while working to ensure the Johnson has survived. Jaymee heads back to Flip’s to get an update on Johnson, the team pressed on; part going to investigate the arcology, and part going to investigate “Krenshaw Construction”, the accused sub contractor.

Jane and Celfie take an early morning ride along Renraku Drive, the only offshoot of the causeway, and survey the partially constructed “footings” of an expansive arcology. They take note of security procedures and general abundance of workers and equipment at the site; also additional avenues of entry.

Mac and Ulric head to the North Shore to investigate Krenshaw Construction and get a better look at the target. Mac decides to visit Krenshaw’s HR director, Johnny Wilks, and fumbles his way through a surprisingly successful negotiation of lower wages and longer hours for Big Bertie’s unionized workforce. Ulrich studies Krenshaws meager security setup.

Meanwhile, Jaymee through Flip discovers that the Johnson moved the meet time up, and that they just missed being instantaneously ventilated by the explosion themselves.

After all the initial investigations are complete, the team determines their plan of attack; discredit Krenshaw by fouling up their trucks and work schedule, and additionally throwing Saeder-Krupp under the bus by causing a security breach at the arcology site and leaving incriminating evidence against Saeder-Krupp.

In order to plant the evidence, Jaymee’s skills are employed at a local bar to seduce a Krenshaw employee, Billy Brass. Jaymee uses her metahuman wiles to become fast friends with Billy, and maybe something more, and convinces him to let Jaymee take them both back to Krenshaw to sober up; or whatever. By the time they reach Krenshaw, Billy has become a stumbling, blind drink as Jaymee’s willpower manipulation multiplies his intoxication.

Once infiltrated, Jaymee is able to be talked through a fairly straightforward shutdown of the Krenshaw security system by Ulric. Mac and Ulric then sneak into the construction yard and reprogram the vehicles to cause brake failure and other disastrous problems when the trucks get within a given proximity of the arcology. They also plant some forged Saeder-Krupp documents that show the megacorp as having purposefully influenced Krenshaw to take deleterious actions w/ respect to its construction responsibilities re/ the Renraku arcology.

At the same time, Celfie and Jane steal a boat at the edge of Styroville, the name given to the raft city that has grown up on the Pontchartrain, and intend to infiltrate the arcology. They successfully stun a dock guard and plant a surveillance device; Saeder-Krupp-like; in order to arouse additional suspicions. As they return to their stolen pirogue, they are attacked by a security cockatrice that was unlucky enough to have found them. After slaughtering it handily, they race back to the boat before others chickens can converge and make it to the south shore relatively unharmed.

Thursday, 2am — The team regroups and decides to await the pay-date at Flips. When Flip finally returns however, the team is dismayed to hear that the troll bouncers at the Creep Show identified them and now the whole team is wanted for questioning in connection with the bombing. The team changes location to appease Flip Mac is able to get in touch with Ken, a Knight Errant clerk, who promises some info on the lead investigator.

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