in an awful odorous storm

We start on Season 3: "in an awful odorous storm".

Which makes the full title so far from the previous Seasons "The road to power is littered with corpses in an awful odorous storm."

We begin with a wide variety of different troubles.

Janna is currently in her childhood. Is it time travel or a memory or a dream? And what really are the grey aliens that are following her? What is the fountain she's after? Only her choices will lead to answers!

June is bravely fighting everything terrible to help get Janna to the fountain. But now she's returned to the dreamlike world where her bonded spirit is telling her that this world is fake and she's really a patient in a psych ward. Which is true? Can they both be true? If so, what would that mean? And how can she return to her journey with Tom to escape with Janna?

Kristobal has acquired a pet like clone child Talitha. He's trying to teach her right from wrong. And he's on his way to the Pharmaceutical building when he's encountered more Ark soldiers, and the monstrous offspring of their work. One of them has produced an "anti-magic" grenade that negates usage of the Shadowside, like a cell phone jammer. What will this lead him to? Stay tuned!

Then we have Jayquon who is converting most of Grim's tower into a dance party. Everything is awesome! And as he nears the dark demon Grim itself with his artistic magic and his imaginary spirit Lord Funketron, what can he do to stop the evil infesting the city?

Lastly. Jackie is fucked. Ain't no other way to say it. He's escaping the city (if he can) with Sal and Rosalee, avoiding a mob of angry ghosts, when Rosalee's right hand man is hit with some strange tranq dart. What is going to happen? Will Jackie finally get his shit kicked proper? Will he survive, or just be another jar's inhabitant?

Join us for this Season of ShadowCrimes!

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DarkMoonINC's picture

Anyone near a radio or TV can hear the reports, though most of Portland has been evacuated. A storm is coming. Meteorologists are saying a hurricane formation of winds is mounting on the West Coast. Which is such an unusual thing. The West Coast doesn't get hurricanes.

California is having flood level rainfall because of it.

On one station a man is talking about the Polar Vortex assaulting the East Coast. Climate change, they're saying. Man's work has brought the ecosystem into disrepair. Droughts and floods, droughts and floods. Unprecedented numbers.

Ukraine is shuddering in silence right now as hundreds of unidentified soldiers have taken over. The UN and Russia are at odds, bickering with one another. The USA makes empty threats. For the most part, they're just here to stop the riots. But a few people in the know realize the riots were a sign of spiritual upheaval, same as Grim's recent unrest. What's not being reported is the strange mutated monsters appearing in Ukraine and the unmarked soldiers who stomp them out when they appear. (If you're guessing Accellatrix is involved, give yourself a cookie.)

In Vatican City a Bishop goes screaming mad through the building facilities until he plunges off a roof to his death. It hits the news, his very visible suicide. But the Church is quickly covering up any reasons why. Tonight, as the day comes to a close, there is a very brief red solar eclipse that is not reported or even seen by anyone outside Vatican City. This sends the conspiracy and occult social sites into a frenzy.

And somewhere in East China, a several mile wide sinkhole opens up and swallows two entire cities. It's caught on camera and circulates the internet. When news tries to report on it amid a Chinese cover up, after several hours it is discovered the sinkhole is gone, back to a regular landscape. But the two cities have vanished entirely.

A man on a internet playlist is telling the streets of one Portland cafe that the apocalypse has come. That Fukushima's dumping radiation has started to unravel the very ecosystem. That by 2040, all known life will have been structurally damaged so severely within their DNA that life as we know it is over. Extinction level event, he says. Extinction level event. Life will go on, he reminds us. It will just not be a life we recognize.

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Trapturtle's picture

Janna Harken

Combat: 
HYB
Magic: 
-- , NB
Influence: 
No, EY
Else: 
EY, HYB, --

{What happened?}

Tom! June! Are you out there? [She screams out, only to realize she doesn't recognize the sound of her own voice.] What?

{I'm a kid again? No, this isn't right. I'm twenty years old, I'm not a kid anymore.}

[As the memories flood through her, she's overwhelmed by the wonder, the excitement. As it went on, she became confused. Was it all just a dream? Being a child felt amazing. No stress, no fear, only wonder and excitement. As she heard her parents call her to dinner, she turned to see the grey figures, standing behind them.]

{Aliens? Like from the old movies? No this isn't right. They're guarding the fountain. Right, that's why I'm here. I need to fix my leg.}

Who are you? Why are you here? [She barks at the aliens, trying to sound tough despite her minute stature.]

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MrSmug's picture

Giacomo 'Jackie' Notelli

Combat: 
-- , --
Magic: 
EYB
Influence: 
HYB, --, NY
Else: 
HYB, --

Jackie stomps the pedal. He pulls onto a wide avenue. There's nothing out on the asphalt except a knocked over shopping cart and a trash can rolling in the wind.

The amazon squirms to look out the back. "Hey, the highway's back there."

"We're not taking the highway."

"Fucking back roads won't get us nowhere. We'll get jumped in the woods."

The black pick up is hot on their shit. Jackie pulls into an industrial park.

"We ain't leaving town."

"Puta madre, this ain't a game, miho."

"There's no running from this shit." The tires shriek around a bend, Jackie cuts behind a parking garage. He mutters to himself, "C'mon C'mon."

"You really stupid, huh."

"There's like a couple things we need to sort out. Shit to collect." He jerks left along a service road and an unkempt patch of gravel near a drainage ditch. "Yes, there we go."

"Collect? Oh shit, Grim fucked with you in there. You're all crazy now. You're like a puppet or some shit."

"Hey Jackie, can I drop the shape? these tits are starting to chafe."

"Shut up Sal, and no Rosa, if we want to tie this shit up, we need to track some leads." The black truck is on their tail. Jackie banks left again, cutting through a parking lot.

The truck plows into Jackie's bumper, sending him screechign toward a cement post, but Jackie pulls away with a loud scrape. There's a walkway up ahead, astroturf and flat marble stones leading between the buildings. Jackie squeezes the car through the gap, but the truck stops short, too wide.

"See, I have it on good authority there's a god killer walking around town. Also, Grim is expecting some kind of delivery. And he's got some of my shit stashed away. Unless we find one or two of these things, we got no leverage. And trust me, sister. We need some leverage."

The truck roars around the park. There's only one way out of this place. It races to post up at the mouth of the lot. He's gotta come through here. It'll get there first and...

Jackie catches the truck in a blind broadside. The little sedan can't do much to the heavy pickup, but it can nudge it off the service road onto the gravel and down the drainage ditch. There's a cloud of dust and a numbing quiet as both cars hiss and fizzle to useless.

(and there's my other Everything Else card. Feel free to change up the scene if you think it plays out different.)

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DarkMoonINC's picture

Janna finally concludes this is not real. She's an adult, not a child, not a memory, not a time traveler. And all those emotions are a sinkhole she has to avoid, so tempting to believe.

The alien stares quietly at her. As she barks at it, it raises one hand.

Now Janna is older. Teens. She remembers this time. When she knew what she would have to do with her life to be an Olympian. Missing out on fun times with her classmates. Not going to movies, or drinking and smoking. That cute boy she had to put on the backburner and who faded to memory. Here she is on the canvas, ready to tumble, ready to show off for local High School competitions.

Behind her coach, two grey aliens watch quietly. And then it becomes known. They were watching her from this time, they were always watching her. Her entire life. They've seen all her private moments. But more importantly, they've seen her important moments.

All the sacrifices to make. All the things she missed out on. Telling herself each time "When I have Olympic Gold, I can go back and do it all." And she never did.

The feeling of years of neglect and regret wash over her like a flood. All the things she missed out on and for what? The voice in her head is demanding. It's her own voice, her teenage voice. She went for glory, bypassing so many childhood experiences. And for what?

The argument comes easy to her. For that feeling of Olympic metal. Anyone can make out with boys, or do drugs, or watch mind numbing television. Anyone could be covered in zits while eating piles of junk food. Or spend their time binging to fit into some dress, trying to hard to impress cute boys or judgmental girls.

{What happened?} Yes, the voice asks. What happened indeed?

The aliens raise their hands.

And Janna is on the ground in the rain, screaming. Blood everywhere. The twisted wreck of a car next to her, the sounds of sires in the distance. Her entire life, over, is all she can feel. Her leg is a destroyed wet curl of meat. The reality of it is hitting her. She's on the pavement crying, bleeding away. Knowing in that moment she will never reach her goals of Olympic pride. And fuck the paralympics.

But as Janna is on the pavement, feeling agony again, she is torn. She knows this is a memory, this is what happened. But she's moved beyond it to hope since then, so the feeling is fading, peeling off from her like a skin. It's a ghost, a memory of who she was. Of her tragedy. And she's grown so much since then she feels the disconnection between who she was at that horrific moment and who she is now.

The three aliens watch from behind a parked truck, and she realizes the look in their eyes. Sadness.

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DarkMoonINC's picture

"I don't feel so good, man." the guy says, holding his forehead.

And the moment he mutters that, the black truck relinquishes the chase. It spins off into the cloud of dust, and stays parked. As Sal drives, Jackie comes to a really bad conclusion. (I'll actually leave you your EE card. You're gonna need it.)

The enemy's given up the chase. But why?

"Miho, you ok?" Rosalee asks. She looks at her partner, her eyes growing in terror.

"No, I'm- fuck the voices in my head won't shut up." he moans.

"Oh mi dios. His aura is... disappearing." she gasps.

"What?" he says, as his jaw starts to drop away, lower, lower, lower. It's a foot wide, hinged like a snake. His eyes bulge in pain.

Suddenly the flesh on his face stretches and peels to raw meat underneath. Whatever was in that tranq dart is changing his entire body. The man grunts and moans from deep in his throat. His eyes start to elongate on snail stalks, his head is a long oblong shape. (If you're confused, you may want to read what Kristobal's been up to.)

He screams as his fingers split apart bloody, talons elongating from them. It's like watching a werewolf transform. But it's no werewolf. It's some alien monstrosity. His neck stretches. Now his talons are seven inches jutting out of ripped pieces of fingers. The fingers fall away as the entire arm's skin fall off, his arms stretching out to four feet long. One of the arms punches through a window next to Rosalee.

He's trashing and screaming now. Too big to fit in the back seat of the car. His legs are stretching and smash holes through the floorboards. His tongue whips out like a snake at two feet long. His clothes ripping apart, his skin is all stretched and raw. Something out of the movie The Thing, or the game Parasite Eve.

Behind them, the black truck is following, but cautiously now, watching. It wants to see what it's dart has done to the man trashing about in the back of the car. How could Jackie know the man's body is pumped with nanites using genetic manipulating cells and mutating his entire form? The very cutting edge of science is right here in front of him, and it looks like a horror movie.

Whatever it is Jackie is looking for, he is slowly approaching. First, he'l have to deal with this.

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silverdrake3's picture

June Pawlitzki (aka: Junebug)

Combat: 
EY, HYA
Magic: 
NA
Influence: 
-- , --
Else: 
--, NB, NB

"Oh, no, oh, not this again," June groaned and closed her eyes. "I'm not even asleep this time, do we have to go through this again now?"

She didn't like tricks, not like this. She gritted her teeth and tried to shake the illusion away but... nothing. The walls didn't bend outward, the sky didn't crack. In fact everything was strangely normal. (NA)

The defiant look on her face softened as she realized that maybe she had been dreaming. After all, the last two days had been so incredibly surreal that she could very well have been dreaming. Could that bender have set something off? Some underlying psychosis that, in the middle of a drunken fit, had awoken and risen to the surface? The thought chilled her, and she drew in a shakey breath as if it were her first.

She stopped walking, her toes flexing in her hospital slippers. Not boots. No Indiana Jones outfit, just cool linen and a summer breeze. She looked down at her hands and examined her nails. "Gim-- Wallace..." she glanced over to the doctor. "How long have I been here?"

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DarkMoonINC's picture

Wallace shakes his head. "You don't understand. To you, you're a free person travelling through dreams. To me, you're a prisoner who has yet to see the bars of her cage."

Around her, in the distance, Tom and Janna are bumbling in robes like her own. They have drooling expressions. He looks to them, then to her eye line towards them. "They've not come down from the medication yet."

"Either way. It doesn't make any of it less real. Maybe you really are there in the other place. And simultaneously here. They could both be true, you know." he smiles, hands in pockets. "I'm sure soon, from my perspective, you'll fall into another bit of mania or catatonia and return to your version of reality."

As they approach the water flowing through a Koi filled river, she sees the eddies swirling in the water.

"From my perspective, you've been here since you declared your sexuality was different from tradition and your mother had you sent away to this facility." he nods. "But from your perspective, we first met when you decided to play a game and enter a place you called the Shadowside."

As they look into the water, she can almost see the pit of hell down there. One of the Koi almost looks like Tom.

"And you were recalling that world for me. Hell, it'd be funny if my world is fake, and I've been living a lie all these years. Either way, you are still a prisoner who doesn't understand the bars yet. So tell me. Where did you go next into that hell after Janna and Tom?"

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silverdrake3's picture

June Pawlitzki (aka: Junebug)

Combat: 
EY, HYA
Magic: 
NA
Influence: 
-- , --
Else: 
--, NB, NB

The disorientation passed and June smiled. It wasn't a smirk, it wasn't a sneer, it was genuine. How long had it been since she'd smiled like that to anyone? "Well, obviously I had to keep going."

She tried to picture it, but it danced away like memories of a dream from the night before. As hard as she tried to visualize it, it just seemed to fall apart as her mind wandered. "It's all about what I'm thinkin' about, isn't it?" she asked. "All these ideas about what's normal and what's supposed t'be, that's what makes it work, right?"

She paused at one of the flower bushes, running a finger up underneath the velvety petals. "To get to hell, I'd have to convince myself that I deserve to be there. That, that right there is a stickin' point. I've made mistakes, but I asked forgiveness and I always thought the good stuff I did always made up fer it." She trailed off, trying to remember if there was anything she'd ever done that was worth going to hell for.

"Ah don't know, Wallace. Do I even wanna go down that path? Is there some way I can just take this path to the fountain?" she gestured ahead at the garden. "If that's Tom and Janna right over there, what's stopping me from takin' them by the hands and just walkin' them to the fountain?"

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MrSmug's picture

Giacomo 'Jackie' Notelli

Combat: 
-- , --
Magic: 
EYB
Influence: 
HYB, --, NY
Else: 
HYB, --

Jackie leaps back, away from the creature forming in the next seat. He glances out the back window, watching that truck idle.

"Sal, we're going to play Janie's old trick. You know?"

"Wait, which one is Janie?"

"Christ." Jackie reaches across the monster's lap and snatches the shotgun. He passes it to Sal. "Hit reverse, spike the pedal, and bail!"

Sal's not so clever, but he's been in this business for a long time. He shifts gear and jams the shotgun between the seat and the gas.

"Everyone out!" The car shrieks and smokes backwards, towards the truck. Jackie, Sal, and Rosa roll out of the car as the monster starts to peel its way out.

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Forge's picture

Combat refill!
Rolled 3d12. Result: 6, 9, 6 = 21.

Kristobal

Combat: 
EY, NY, EY
Magic: 
NYA , EY
Influence: 
HYA
Else: 
N, --

No. No quarter. Never. No breaks, no truce, no pause, no negotiation.

Kristobal is hit with the Hammer to end all Hammers, the one that can kill Gods. And his heart blossoms with joy, for now he knows he can kill Grim -in fact he can feel it. There is no hesitation, not a second elapses between Kristobal feeling the effects of the spiritual grenade, and his rapid swinging of the unconscious body still in his grip.

Oh yes. One full circle, then toss! He's gonna hit one motherfucker with another motherfucker. (Let's use the last Combat card to use the unconscious body of one soldier as a 180-pound projectile to hit the other soldier with. If the Combat card is not enough, then let's use the Ace). The other soldier may fire his bazooka -that'd be bad news for the unconscious body that's flying in between them. In any case, whether the bazooka soldier blows up his companion to bits, or whether the companion crashes upon the bazooka soldier, Kristobal sprints behind his human projectile and towards the other soldier -for two reasons: one, to get out of the radius of the Anti-God Hammer, and two, to body-slam the other soldier to the ground and choke his lights out.

He has decided these soldiers do not deserve death anymore than the mutated monsters do: it's a cruel scenario where the actors of evil are not intrinsically evil themselves -a test from God to tell right from wrong on the stage, if he has ever seen any.

"Retrieve ze Hammer [he instructs to Talitha, thinking that perhaps she is impervious to it as she lacks a Hierogamy spirit] und turn it off. [He stands, picking up both unconscious bodies (if he was successful)] Search zeir vehicle for ozer Gott-bombs, und ozer monster-darts. Zen come. Vee have so much vork ahead of us."

He tosses both bodies in the back of his own jeep -he's decided against leaving them out in the open, thinking they may be eaten by the feral creatures. He is sure to bind their arms and legs with their own belts and shoelaces of course, and disarm them. He'll toss them into the Shadowside soon enough.

But first, he must inform Thomas of what he has seen. He's glad he did not discard the radio after all.

"Brozer Thomas [he says to the radio] ze Ark is using darts to turn men und vomen into feral monsters. Ze feral monsters vill regain zeir avareness in a veek. Until zen vee must consider zem innocent in ze eyes of ze Lord, fur zey know not vhat zey do; driven by animal instinct. Also, ze Ark has veaponry zat can destroy spirit. I vill vield zis new Hammer against Grim. But first I vill seek aid fur ze turned monsters. I feel Gott is vith me. Over."

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-=[Live Forever]=-

DarkMoonINC's picture

Whatever power she had outside, here June has nothing (NA). The magic is gone, for now. Wallace nods to her as she tries to change things.

"Hell was coopted by the followers of the archdemon Christos who gathered followers when his undead spirits walked among man. Luckily the valiant sorcerer Judas Iscariot helped lead an army to slay the beast and seal it in a tomb for three days. But, like all demons, it resurrected and left our reality to the depths of deeper worlds." he shakes his head. "And two thousand years of dark ages and miscommunication changed all that. They deified him, reveled in his carnage. Turned him into a loving God."

He looks to her. "I've spoken to a few... entities that were there to witness it. And it was terrifying." He pauses, looking down into the water with her. "I'm sorry. I went on a tangent. Fact we learned from what Hell really is... hell is the denial of self. It is a prison of your own design where you refuse to release baggage. Refusal of emotional baggage. And so you're caught in an endless cycle of facing the problem and never willing to let go. Grief, hatred, guilt. All the emotional range. People hold so tightly to this stuff that they become large chunks of scar tissue they keep picking at."

"In your narrative, however, you weren't trying to go to hell. You were trying to help someone get through hell to their goal." he shrugs. "And no one has said there's anything stopping you. If you wish to take their hands and lead them to the fountain, then do it. According to you, they think you're a driver. A transporter. Which is a form of leader. So... tell me the steps you go through."

June concentrates. She focuses. "I had to keep going." she repeats instinctually. "I'm walking slowly, following the walls with my eyes, trying to differentiate shadows from tunnels." she's grabbing Tom's hand, pulling him forward. "It's a labyrinth, and many times I turn a corner to find myself impossibly back at the start. It took what felt like hours of frustrated wandering before I realized that I was fighting my-"

Before she can get to Janna, she's back in the tunnels and a worn, bloody, beaten Tom is staring at her with intense eyes. He's breathing heavy, but most of his wounds are superficial. He silently watches as she leads him through tunnels.

{Well, see, you just tell me your story, visualize it strongly, and it will become your reality.} Wallace says from the back of her head. {The tunnels are not confusing you, the tunnels are a representation of your confusion. And this time, I've returned you to your present situation, as a courtesy. Be careful out there my Queen.}

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DarkMoonINC's picture

The car smashes, rolling, lighting on fire. Sal and Rosalee are safe, crawling in dirt. Jackie's got the best of it, standing on his feet unharmed.

Behind them the black truck has stopped, holding a distance. And Jackie can see it. They're filming. Watching. They caused this to happen to the poor man, now they want to see results.

The car is on it's side against a building when it's driver door flings off hinges up into the sky, landing through a thrift shop's window. Glass sparkles the street.

The monstrous thing cries out to the sky, sticking up to look at the street. Scanning with it's eyestalks. Rosalee is terrified, but Sal gets this look like it's just another day on the job. Sal is pulling pieces of metal out of the lining of his jacket, screwing together a hand made shotgun piece by piece. It's a backwoods special, designed to pass metal detectors.

"Oh god." Rosalee says. "It's pulling in the spirit world, consuming it. Like a magic eraser. It's trying to pull my own spirit in." she screams, then goes silent. "He's free, and running away, my spirit. But that black hole is trying to eat our souls!" Jackie can watch the thing try to pull in her old tribal spirit, but he flees for his unlife.

Around them Jackie can see a group of slave ghosts watching, waiting to get a shot at Rosalee again. As the monster lifts it's body out of the car onto the concrete, the beast turns and opens it's mouth. Two of the ghosts are pulled slowly towards the beast as if by tractor beams. Only, when they get close, they are ripped to nothingness.

And the startling revelation hits Jackie. It didn't change the ghosts from one form to another, or eat them, or anything normal. It erased them, it dissolved them out of existence.

The rest of the ghosts are screaming, running at it, trying to kill it. But when they get close, the monster waves it's freakishly long arms and the ghosts are all evaporated.

This beast is a ghost killer.

At this point, Rosalee is already running after her spirit.

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DarkMoonINC's picture

Kristobal has seen a null field before. Accellatrix is fond of them. This is similar, but more. As if someone pushed far past just negating power to finding a frequency that unravels the fabrics of reality.

A true God killer.

And to combat it, Kirstobal uses something else he's ingrained in himself. Tactics. Magic will not work in the zone of the grenade, and he's weakened as Superman to Kryptonite near it. But he can still use the physics of reality.

And Kristobal has the super human body to push hard enough.

It's a toss of the unconscious body into the soldier, who holds his fire to not splatter his coworker and himself. In those few seconds, Kristobal can run around the edge of the grenade's radius. The body hits the soldier and he stumbles back, falling out of the radius, and before he can lift his weapon, Kristobal is upon him.

These are soldiers and though they offered him to walk away, Kristobal remembers he too is a soldier. A weapon designed for war. All of them are built to overcome.

Once Kristobal gets his hands on the mouthless man, it's over. The two unconscious soldiers are easily disarmed, Kristobal's to control. Talitha moves to the bomb, getting an uncomfortable look on her face, but she disables it. She pockets the device, then retrieves the LAW and looks into the van. "It hurts, but not as much as it vould for you. Ze bomb is designed to kill souls und spirits, und I didn't have a soul until you gave me one in Limbo. My soul is so veak und little compared to yours." a pause "I can take a lot of zis veaponry. I am trained in all of zese."

There's a childesh smile on her face for this.

On the phone Thomas listens. "This is very bad indeed. We have problems all over the globe right now, and Portland is the least of our concerns. Something is happening in Vatican and all agents are being recalled." there's a pause as people are arguing behind him. "Do whatever you can. I will guide you by phone but... both us and the authorities have abandoned the city entirely-"

He's interrupted as Mother Juptier steals her way onto the phone. "Kristobal. Listen to me, and listen good. They are coming for our Lord in Vatican. They are mounting an army to send these devices against God and Jesus. The Vatican is mounting an army to stop them. Trojan horse, understand? Traitors are in our ranks.Do you understand me? TRAITORS ARE IN OUR-"

There is arguing and gunshots from the other side. The line goes dead.

Talitha has pulled the van back, ripping the broken windows off, and has gotten it running again. "Shall ve, my cap-ee-tawn? (capitan)"

(Also, you didn't post as your character but I knew. I knew.)

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Yuanakil's picture

Jayquon

Combat: 
EYA
Magic: 
HYB, NYA, NYB
Influence: 
NYB
Else: 
HYA, NYB, --

Jayquon smiles toward Funketron, nods, and says, "You know, I ain't a big fan of Kanye, but sometimes he makes a good point and, right now, all I gots to say is..." He turns to face the rapturous mob behind him. "'No church in the wild,' brotha."

But he's not quite ready to meet his fate. This whole riding-the-disc-of-doom thing needs a bit of color--so he gives it just that, rainbow swirls and smiling clouds all over, with a sun at the center, its rays emanating out to brighten up the room.

Satisfied, the young man steps up onto the platform. Unbeknownst to him, he starts humming quietly, and then sings under his breath, "This little light o' mine... I'm gonna' let it shine..."

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DarkMoonINC's picture

Jayquon has an inevitable sense of dread. This journey is for him alone, in his meet with the demon. So only Jayquon and Funketron ascend on the platform.

The mob below is furthering his work, turning whatever they can from drab suffering to rapture and joy.

The disc ascends to a might mountain top where the clouds roll around them. The mountain is rough, and as they look down on it, it's the Himalayas. Only they are covered in suffering. Not just skulls and bones, but people stuck in agony. People all over moaning and crying and dying.

From the heavens a great onyx goddess descends. She is the epitome of a black queen, like Egyptian royalty. Her skin is black, real black, as dark as the abyss, almost as carved form marble. She wears funeral garb flowing with objects of the dead. She is circled by flies.

"You have come to me, spreading pleasure and joy. You have brought the very antithesis of my kingdom. Out there, enemies try to erase my world completely. In here, you storm your way into my lair to what? Slay me?"

The heavens rumble. Above her, he can see an upside down cone of shelves with glass doors. Hundreds of bottles filled with spirits. And only a handful of them remain filled, the rest have been emptied. She descends to stand a dozen feet from him, wide arms. It feels like he's looking at Kali. Who is to say he isn't?

"What do you truly think your tiny little lifeforce can do against a God? I have crushed empires. I have destroyed cities. I am a force that sweeps the Earth." she laughs. "And what is it you think you can do against that? I feed off of suffering, and the world has known suffering for eternity. I have grown fat off of it. And how can you compare against that kind of power?"

Funketron behind him whispers. "You can do it, Prince Jayquon."

Each side of the mountain he can see down is not just mountianside. It's the future and the past. He knows that now. Suffering extends all the way into the past, and all the way into the future.

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silverdrake3's picture

Refillin' Magic
Rolled 1d12. Result: 7 = 7.

June Pawlitzki (aka: Junebug)

Combat: 
EY, HYA
Magic: 
NA
Influence: 
-- , --
Else: 
--, NB, NB

Once more out of the vision and into the dream. June took a moment to reacquaint herself with the situation, glancing over at Tom. She wondered briefly what it had been like for him during the interlude, but gave nothing more than a puzzled, "Huh."

June couldn't help but raise her brow in interest as her own voice echoed away into the darkness. She nodded to herself as she heard it die away. "Say Tom," she said conversationally, "you know that trick you taught me with the truck? I'm gonna try something like that with the sound, so be quiet a minute."

Fountains had water, constant motion, and probably the fountain they were looking for had a lot of it. Janna would be going to the fountain no matter what, the girl was like a freakin' compass needle. Here, well, anything could be a compass if you paid attention. It was all just another way of measuring.

Honestly she felt just a tad silly as she walked to the nearest intersection, glancing down all the available paths before she raised a finger to her lips. "Shh," she hushed, then listened for the echo. White noise would point the way.

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Yuanakil's picture

Jayquon

Combat: 
EYA
Magic: 
HYB, NYA, NYB
Influence: 
NYB
Else: 
HYA, NYB, --

There is a moment of hesitation, as a mortal looks down upon the fate of the world--death, destruction, and--most of all--pain. There is a moment of fear, as he contemplates his own destiny.

But then the moment passes, and the artist shakes his head. "I ain't hear to kill you; I ain't here to stop you; I definitely ain't here to beat you," he says, smiling crookedly at the horrifying creature before him. "I'm just here to help you."

And, with that, the young man steps forward to give the other poor soul a hug.

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DarkMoonINC's picture

Whatever Tom experienced, it was worse. In many ways, she can see the fear in his eyes. His own personal hell. He just nods, following her advice.

And as she goes, she hears it. In the distance. Only, it's not the water running like she'd thought. The caves wind around but she hears it.

Singing. A soft girl's voice. La la la la lullaby.

The tunnels wind downwards until she finds it. Here light enters.

"This isn't right." Tom mutters. "Hell can't be that quick for you two."

The light opens up to a massive sunny forest. Pangea. The untouched lands of man's ancestors. It's like the X Men Savage Land. Just an endless world of trees and flowers. The water is here, flowing. But it's in the center of the plants. Janna is unconscious, floating inside a bubble of light. Below her is a young girl maybe ten, sitting in a very thin dress, singing.

And June knows, here and now. The singing is keeping Janna floating. The singing is the forest. The singing is magic, it's the voice of God's pulse. If the Matrix was made of green lines of code, this reality is made from the rhythm and vibration of this girl's singing.

The little girl stops, turning, and looking at them. She's not human. Her features are grey, large black eyes. An alien. She looks at them with large massive unblinking eyes and a thin little mouth, no hair or nose. She smiles.

"That." Tom stumbles, holding his chest. "That's the fountain."

And she sings to Janna again. From every corner, they can hear it. And it's not just her. Every plant sings with this voice, every stream of water. Every ray of light. It is the vibration and tune of life itself.

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The goddess that calls itself so many names shudders and cries. She struggles, trying to fight the hug. But it's no use. She hugs him back, then finally cries loudly.

All the suffering rests on her conscious, he can feel. And with that, her body starts dissipating. It's flaking off into ashes. Soon Jayquon is holding nothing but ash at the bottom of the lighthouse.

By instinct he is driven to the top. Up the stairs. The ashy fragments of what was left of Grim rubbing off of him in the rain. As he gets to the light itself, he sees a pedastool with a crown.

The rank of a God. He can feel it. Out there, in the city, he can see all the slaves suffering. All the dead suffering. Monsters are attacking people, erasing parts of existence.

Here, thought, only Jayquon. Everything else is fading to background. The lighthouse glass walls holds a crown. He can reach out, touch it, put it on. Take the power.

Use it to direct this. Use the power the God's built up, use it for his own good. To remove the Cool, remove all of society's falseness. He contemplates his own destiny.

The city is dying. Monsters are rampant. The slaves are fighting the dance party, and sadly the sides are just killing each other.

Only him, and the unused raw power of the crown that Grim once wore, it can change everything out there.

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Yuanakil's picture

Jayquon

Combat: 
EYA
Magic: 
HYB, NYA, NYB
Influence: 
NYB
Else: 
HYA, NYB, --

Jay, standing before the crown, finds his hand reaching out. His fingers twitch slightly, grasping for the unattainable--a solution, finally, to the problems of the world, to the fate of the universe, and to his own ill-hidden madness. Just a touch will do, he knows; just a touch.

Yet, the young man's eyes betray him--or perhaps they save him from a much deeper insanity. As his arm stretches forward, he notices the funereal ashes lying like a sorrowful stain upon his skin. This, of course, is too much.

Jayquon breaks down right then and there, sobbing. Not for world peace, which he has just elected to possibly forgo; not for himself; not for any goal or grievance. No; he weeps for a woman who could not stand to be loved.

In but a moment, he stands and, lifting his foot high, slams it down onto the crown with all the might of his near-daily flights from the police.

(Edit: Just this guy's expression + gesture sums up how I feel: http://youtu.be/SpIiEhL-U00?t=33s )

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MrSmug's picture

Giacomo 'Jackie' Notelli

Combat: 
-- , --
Magic: 
EYB
Influence: 
HYB, --, NY
Else: 
HYB, --

"Okay, now we run."

Up the street, across a mulch bed, out onto the avenue, the three of them are sprinting for dear life.

"Jackie, we can't keep running like this, out in the open."

"Just keep moving, Sal. If that thing gets close to you, try and kneecap it with your piece. But just keep moving."

Jackie lets himself lag behind the others just a bit. He needs to think of something. He glances back to check on the beast...

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Forge's picture

Kristobal

Combat: 
EY, NY, EY
Magic: 
NYA , EY
Influence: 
HYA
Else: 
N, --

"Have faith, voman! [he shouts to Mother Jupiter over the radio] He vho built ze sun und moon, und stretched ze Milky Vay between zem, vill be made to bow by mere menn and trinkets?! He is Testing us! His House is to repent, und embrace-"

-but the sound cuts off before Kristobal can complete his sentence. He was about to say that the Church needs to turn around on its doctrine of intolerance and embrace the monsters, for the monsters are innocent and free of sin as long as they didn't choose to be monsters. It would be a momentous occasion, the end of the eternal war against the Sisterhood... but the time the Ark is giving them is so short.

He looks up at Talitha -there she goes happily taking account of the weaponry in the van. He did not expect her to get hurt from the grenade.... a little soul, she said? He'd disagree. She is so much more to his eyes, now. So much more. But it's so hard to convey his feelings through a motorcycle helmet; he has to trust that somehow -in some way- she knows. She must.

"Bring ze food und goods from ze jeep [He says, avoiding the topic. And then he proceeds to dump both unconscious bodies through the van's back doors, hands and feed bound.] Zen get inside."

He helps her transfer their loot to the inside of the van -particularly the plastic explosives she found near Kunyalla's sanctum. His head tilts as he hears her little spanish-language flair -where did she hear that? It's so tender. He imagines his hand caressing her cheeks. "Close ze doors". He is at the driver's seat, for a change.

"Vee vill go to Thomas [he says] und protect him. He ist a mann of science, und can turn both ze Gott-Bomb und Monster-Dart Hammers. Zen vee vill vield one against Grim und ze other against Ark. Buckle up, please."

Buckle up... because he's going to turn the darkness of the underpass tunnel into a portal into Limbo... and from Limbo, he will try to find a portal into wherever Thomas is -as identified by his radio. The Vatican, then? Here comes the cavalry... a man from the past powered by Faith carrying weapons of future that destroy Faith... Kristobal drives the van into the tunnel. (using last Magic card, Fe Nwa Bo to the Shadowside)

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-=[Live Forever]=-

silverdrake3's picture

June Pawlitzki (aka: Junebug)

Combat: 
EY, HYA
Magic: 
NA
Influence: 
-- , --
Else: 
--, NB, NB

"Nah, I just walked around it," June whispered as she led Tom down the twisted path. What started out as a distant hush turned into more distinct tones, a voice, a melody. She nearly wondered if they were going the right way before they rounded the corner.

"What the..?" she never finished the sentence as the melody rose again, fluttered through her. Choir music, it gave her the same shivery feeling that choir music did. It was beautiful, sublime, all the best parts weaving through voice, and Janna hanging in the air as a sleeping beauty. All it would take was a kiss to wake her.

June turned away and let go of Tom's hand. "You go get her. I'll... be over here." Something hot and painful was twisting around in her stomach, a memory she did not want to get out here. Not now. It hurt enough to make her nauseas.

{I gotta get out of here. I can't let them see.}

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Funketron watches the crown go, shaking his head.

"All those souls the thing tortured and ate, all that power amassed. You'd just throw it away? Just like that." he whistles. "And what of the world of these souls? This is the source of all that magic and spirit. The source of what you used to transform it into a dance party. You let that go, all these souls down there wither away and disappear. And then this place is as dead and boring as so many other afterlives."

He looks down there, and whistles again.

Down below, the souls fight over the crown. But none of them can put it on because it falls right through them like they were water. It's a crown meant for a mortal or a god. Not for a broken phantom.

"What now?" Funketron whispers to him.

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Rosalee leads them to a building, pulling the other two inside. She's holding her sides, trying to catch her breath.

"Madre de dios. (HUFF) That is like nothing I have ever seen before. (HUFF) This Mexican bakery-" she looks around at rows of Spanish sweet breads. "use to be a front for some of our laundering. (WHOO) In the back should be a company van. We can try that. Just... this time, not get shot by whatever the fuck that was."

"I got, I dunno Jackie. This is more than I signed up for." Sal huffs, not in too good a shape himself any more.

Behind them Jackie could see. The beast eyed them for a moment with a sad look towards Rosalee, and took off towards more spirits. Deep down inside it was still him, still the man, just confused and changed. With a hunger for devouring ghosts.

Outside gunfire erupts. An armed unit of soldiers has encountered the beast and is opening fire with submachine guns on it. A grenade goes off out there. Rosalee's already to the back of the shop. She twirls a key ring off her finger, one that was hanging in the bakery office.

There's a BIMBO truck parked out back. Rosalee lights up proud when she sees it, hopping in and starting the engine.

"This is nuts, Jackie. This is no longer just a quiet me and you thing." Sal huffs, still not recovered. "This is world fucking war three."

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Talitha pulls the van over to the jeep and looks between the two, studying them for structural integrity, defense, offense, agility. Finally she sighs, unloading the van, and piling all the weapons in the back of the jeep held under a tarp. He can see why, the van's frame is cracked and won't survive another crash. But she had so loved the van, it was a tie back to her old life. Like a security blanket.

"Ze Jeep it is."

And Kristobal finds all sorts of unidentified weapons. A case of C4, several automatic rifles, a sniper rifle with darts and 50 cal rounds, a dozen of the null grenades, and a few pistols. Lots of ammo.

She glances at him. "Before I met you, my head was quiet, only the single voice of the Ark crackled in the back of my head. When you took me to that... Limbo place... now so many people's voices are in my head. Yours is strongest, but I am picking up voices from everyone we meet, and from people I've never met. Little Ark's voice is so soft and distant compared to the others, now."

If Talitha was an empty cup waiting to be filled, entering Limbo filled her up with the swirling energy of anything in that area.

Kristobal and Talitha brace, driving along, and find a tunnel to plow through. The road down the tunnel is smooth and unaffected, the walls are a moving mass of fears and worry. The bricks take the shapes of whatever the two of them think is the worst possible outcome of their trip. (Magic NA card)

And suddenly they pull out of the tunnel to a small hotel. It's Paris, he's been here before. Kristobal knows Paris. The hotel is on fire, bullet holes line walls. It's a mess up there. The tiny cozy two story hotel sits in a tree line on the outskirts of the city. And it's destroyed.

Bodies of priests lay sprawled about the ground, some of them up in the building burning as they tried to claw at windows. Kristobal know he's too late. As he gets out of the vehicle, he sees Mother Jupiter huddled in a door frame a little ways from the entrance. She's covered in blood, and she's losing it fast.

When he gets to her, she smiles, putting a hand up to his face. "Kristobal. Always surviving, from one century to the next. Are you my angel come to send me home?"

Her injuries are internal and deep. Without some miracle, she will be dead within five minutes regardless of first aid. But she will die happy having Kristobal appear, for he was a sign of God's love to her.

Around the corner, a car engine starts up.

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Tom moves towards the girl, but stops when he's ten feet out. She looks him up and down, but keeps singing. He backs up. "I can't. I can't touch this. In fact- no, NO NO NO!"

But it's too late. Tom lifts slowly in the air, struggling at first, then finally relaxing, taking the same pose as Janna as his eyes slowly fall to slumber.

The little girl looks towards June ducking away.

And the reality of this place hits June as she ducks down a cave to get away, only to end up right back here. This time, all exits have disappeared. She runs into the forest and no matter where she goes, she ends up right back here. The little girl just watches her with unblinking eyes.

No matter where she goes her only option is to watch, or become a sleeping guest in the air with Janna and Tom.

And then June suddenly realizes what they're waiting for. Janna hasn't completed her hell. She's still in it, moaning and twisting in her sleep like the most terrifying nightmare.

(In fact, none of this was real. From the moment we landed at the swamps to descend into hell, anything below ground has been a dream like this.} Wallace says, standing by her. {This is her place. And our visions have been our own hell in her dreamscape. Janna hasn't finished hers. And Tom, you pulled him out of his hell before he resolved it.} Wallace turns to her. {But you willed yourself out of your own, which is why she isn't putting you back in. Now we're to wait.}

The uneasy feeling hasn't left Junebug at all.

{I see, that's your plight. Well, I am sorry.} Wallace nods. {Let me take you away for now. Until Janna awakens.}

Suddenly they are in an office. A hundred little business casual workers are filing paperwork and answering phones. She's seen a cubicle like this a dozen times. June is at her own cubicle, with so much busy work to complete. He looks to her. "Perhaps I have been using the wrong analogy. Here are a thousand little prisoners with no sight of their bars."

And suddenly they are on the freeway, only each cubicle has been replaced by a car. All of them honking at each other, listening to talk radio, waiting to get home. "And all of these are little prisoners, with no sight of escape."

Then they are in an old apartment she lived in, crammed buildings like rat cages. "Here too, seeing only the freedom of their cages." Then she's watching TV, and everywhere she can look, thousands of other people are on couches and chairs watching TV. "And here is the salt lick, where they sit and slowly lick for hours in their cages."

And then Junebug is in an actual prison, orange jump suit, reading a magazine. "Here the world rubs it in their faces, obvious, saying you are all prisoners." And then June is in an office, she's an elected Politician, and she knows how many people got her here. How, no matter what hopes or dreams she had, she has to do what the people expected her to do - keep the system running the same broken way. If she tries to fix anything, she'll be fired. "Here's the VIP prison cell."

Then they're back at the asylum, sitting in a comfortable garden. "My message had been that all of those are the exact same room, like a Star Trek holodeck the scenery may be changing but you are always in a tiny box, unable to escape. When Tom and Janna complete their trials or whatever and emerge from their own hells, we can return there. Not that we even really left. But I though perhaps the calm distraction of this place might soothe you, if the sight of your sleeping beauty is so troublesome."

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Forge's picture

Kristobal

Combat: 
EY, NY, EY
Magic: 
NYA , EY
Influence: 
HYA
Else: 
N, --

"Have faith.. [he says to her... but somehow his voice doesn't thunder anymore. It's a lot quieter now.]"

He picks her up in his arms, and looks over to Talitha, helpless. Is this Limbo? It feels like reality. But it can't be.... it must be Limbo, it must be his memories of WWII, the fire, the corpses, the ruins.

He carries Mother Jupiter over to the safety of the jeep and lays her in the back, ironically, side by side with the two unconscious Ark soldiers which, if Talitha is right, are now being infused with a soul.

Kristobal is not a healer. He is a warrior. If only there was someone to kill, someone to fight, some thing that could be achieved through the sword to save them all... he'd give his life to it. But there's none. And he's not the only one who has to face what it means to live in a changed world:

"Ze Ark hast a drug that turns people into feral beasts. Zeir sentience returns after one veek. I could give you zis drug und save your life. I vill keep you safe for one veek until you avake. But zen your body vill be like zat of a beast. This... is the punishment Gott hast given us, his Church, His House. Vee hunted ze beasts for hundreds of years. [his voice is soft now, she is still in his lap... he talks to her and caresses her hair]... vee fed zem to ze flames, whole families und towns because vee zought zeir monstrosity meant evil. In truth... all life is a gift from Gott. None is evil, but by choice regardless of body. Vill you embrace ze monster und live? Or vill you die a monster-hunter?"

Kristobal has presented Mother Jupiter with a huge choice. But she is emblematic of Malleus... and he has always known this was going to be a Trial. He reaches with his hand and Talitha, sharp and intelligent, hands him one of the monster-darts from their stash. He looks at Mother Jupiter's eyes and waits for her answer... her Fate is in her hands. He will respect whatever she chooses.

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-=[Live Forever]=-

Yuanakil's picture

Jayquon

Combat: 
EYA
Magic: 
HYB, NYA, NYB
Influence: 
NYB
Else: 
HYA, NYB, --

A dumbfounded expression overtakes the artist's face for a minute. "You mean I can't break it? I can't just... I can't just fix it, just like that? I just..." Tears well up again. "I guess I just thought it would be easier."

Wiping his eyes, Jay turns profile to Jayquon and says, "I don't know what comes next. If I can't make somethin' that terrible go away, I guess I gotta' take it an' use it... I guess." He keeps rubbing at his face.

"But you know, man, it ain't fair," he intones, frustrated. "I mean, I'll do it, but it ain't fair. I'm just a kid, right? All the other kids get to be kids, anyway. But me?" He snorts. "I got to grow up real fast, and now I gotta' turn into some kinda'... not-me, y'know? I ain't even gots a good job yet; I ain't even got any college; I ain't even get married."

To this last, he replies to himself with a bitter laugh, and says, "But, you know, life ain't fair, and... I guess I just gotta' be better than that, right? I just gotta' be the best I can, for everybody else."

His back starts to straighten. "Yeah. It ain't for me; it's for my homies, and all the people, right? Por mi gente. Everybody."

The saltwater start drying on his cheeks. "And maybe they need a kid. Maybe it takes a kid like me to not fuck it up, you feel me?"

A deep breath; one last look at the stains on his hands.

"Never mind; I know what to do now. I can do this."

The young man, hood trailing behind him, sprints down to collect the discarded crown and become the right kind of ruler.

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Trapturtle's picture

Janna Harken

Combat: 
HYB
Magic: 
-- , NB
Influence: 
No, EY
Else: 
EY, HYB, --

But, I don't understand. What do you want?

[Janna looks at the tall, grey, men with confusion.]

{They were there, they were always watching. The every practice, every competition, every physical therapy session. Were they planning this?}

Is this what you wanted? To bring me here? To see me struggle? All for what?[She's shouting now, she's become angry, these things fucked up her life. Around her the memories continue to play, in rapid succession, like a movie playing in fast forward.]

{Deep breaths, you need to stay calm. This place reacts to your emotions, feeds off them. Maybe these things aren't malicious, just different. I need to be more understanding.}

[Janna sits down on the ground and takes a deep breath. She relaxes, remembers her time in the stadium, the calm, the clairity,she tries to open herself to the universe and understand these strange creatures.]

(Using the highest card of whatever stat you feel appropriate)

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