The road to power

Portland Oregon doesn't seem like the center of chaos and violence. For most people it's a tourist trap filled with unwashed hipsters and potheads. The forests south lead to communes and pagan hippies. The Porland PD will tell you different, though.

Portland has a dark shadow that's nestled up around it like a blanket of corpses. Dark men have agendas and bad things happen to good people. Lots of bad people are carving up the city into unseen ownership. And among all that chaos and crime not only is there a power war being quietly played out, but something even worse looms over the hillside. From behind the land of death and dreams, GRIM foreboding dangers are approaching.

And here in the city, five lost souls will play an integral part in the coming events.

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DarkMoonINC's picture

Ralph Notelli is nervous, uncomfortable, he fidgets and can't keep still. The massive blue icepack on his skull is clamped with one hand and the other moves in place, unsure where the fingers should be. The door before him's busted open, lock destroyed, and the wine cellar in front of him gapes open into barely lit darkness. The single swinging pull lightbulb above waves in dusty air. Cobwebs dance in corners to the draft. "Aww Jesus." Ralph says, turning to his cousin Jackie. "I didn't-" he stammers, his eyes red with fear. "What do I do?"

This is Ralph calm and quiet. When Jackie'd arrived he was a stammering crying mess. Incomprehensible and mumbling tears and snot into words. Now, though, he was just shaken. "I mean I was lockin' up, ya know, normal night. It's a house, right, who breaks into a house? So I'm checkin' things out and-" he glances back up the old worn wooden steps to the house. "I'm up there, in the livin' room. This gun gets pushed against the back o' my head. Asks where the bottles are. I didn't- what should I a done? Ya know? I point. I fuckin' point. And it's all black from there."

Behind Jackie, two of the Notelli seniors shake their uncomfortable grimaces in disgrace. Not that Ralph could see them, they're as transparent as dust and just as dead. Ralph looks back to the open wine cellar door. "I woke up and it was like this. They did this and left. No money, no electronics. Nothin'. They were here for this and only. And they knew. They fuckin' knew." Ralph stumbles back and sits down on the steps, his breathing still irregular.

In the wine cellar are rows of display shelves. A year ago, Jackie can almost see it like yesterday, there were 181 containers lining the shelves. Old wine bottles, mason jars, pickling jars, a toddler's sippy cup duct-taped shut. Clear containers swirling swampy nonsense inside, clumps of slime, mold, dense vapor. Now though, before him, nothing. Each dustless shelf as bone dry as the day they were built. Which is bad news for a lot of people,

..............................

"The Cure Exists" was all the email said. It was from a dummy account and bounced off of three other accounts before it arrived in Janna's inbox. She'd been chatting with certain people but nothing was solid. Who this person was and how it got to her, she couldn't figure. It was a day later when a package arrived in the mail. One of the people she'd heard of but never spoken to had shipped her a map of Oregon and a slip saying a hotel was reserved for her.

The user was FairyTail1331. The note attached was typed and printless. It said: Cure exists in Portland. Olympians know what sacrifice is. How much is a cure worth?

And that's how she found herself in Portland looking out across the beautiful landscapes of green. Somewhere in this city a cure existed and an online benefactor was willing to point her in the right direction. The only thing that echoed through her mind the entire way over was what exactly would the cost be? And what was she willing to do to be able to run again like she use to?

..............................

SCaV3NG3R is just a rumor, the deepweb told Junebug. You chase a rumor long enough and you become a rumor yourself. All scare tactics and as she chased the rumor she found the internet labyrinth complexified and opened like a burst onion. XxMiatoxX, Grease Thunder, Breakfast Club, DoomTroop3rs: all capable hacker clans that had a wide reach into the world. But none of them seemed to be as elusive as Scav, whoever they really were.

Scav was like a boogeyman. Anonymous and legion. Bragging great and terrible things but so elusive that finding anyone who was really part of it was difficult. Lots of people knew someone who knew someone who was part of it. Some claimed to be Scavs but if they put that bragging into the world the real Scavs - or someone - destroyed their lives. Scavs were thieves in the night that left destruction without laying claim and made large claims with no evidence. But for those who studied the patterns, Scav fingerprints were all over certain events.

One of the people online directed her to a user called PissRiver. And this individual claimed that not only were Scav real, but there was a close knit network of them in Portland. Which is where she eventually finds herself in her search for the elusive truth of a group that claims to talk with spirits and travel into the land of dreams. Junebug can't quite say why it draws her moth like to flame. But somehow she knows that the real SCaV3NG3Rs are somewhere in this city.

..............................

Following the outcome of World War II, the church as a whole withdrew all their spiritual warriors. The majority of rank and file spirit-warriors were recalled to Vatican City and have remained there since the 70s, leaving only to do specific errands. The church knows something but it isn't telling. It's almost like they're bracing for Armageddon.

The less political eyed figures travel to various places in the world to help in the way the Missionaries did for centuries. Cells are very infrequent outside of heavily religious areas like the deep south and Utah. Portland, however, is an anomaly. For Nigel this is a no man's land. The spirits here are over run with the souls of dead slaves riled up by some terrible groups who use that anger to incite war. In the land of the living, however, the churches are all owned by one of the four major crime families of the city. He's able to move in and out with a degree of immunity but trying to grow his group's power base in this city is difficult.

And on the business side he's lucky he operates from high towers in office spaces. Anything on the street with a storefront is owned by someone through protection money. Down there anything with a visual or physical presence is being fought over like trophies. In the last year he's seen ten exploding buildings, three beheadings left in central park, twelve dead by public shootings, and countless robberies. Last three months everything settled down when the four families ate the fifth, dissolving one of the criminal empires entirely and diving up it's stakes.

Nigel knows this all because apart from news coverage, confessional booths and those priests still loyal to the church are the best eyes he has. Down there in the streets thugs with power have made the streets run red. After a half a decade, they've finally settled into a peaceful truce. For how long, he can only guess.

..............................

For Krisotbal this city looked like every one he'd driven into in the past several decades. Another line of buildings and trees. The smell of unique culture. But as he passed into city limits he could feel it inside himself, crawling just under his leather jacket. There was something wrong with this city. Something corrupted.

And a lot of people here needed help. He could sense it in the way they looked, walked, talked. The nervous air of shop owners running fronts. Of people strolling the sidewalk. Something here was terrible and dangerous and yet it hovered ghostly ever present. His motorcycle took him to his destination and he could tell there was work to be done. Like always, there was work to be done.

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Forge's picture

Combat
Rolled 3d12. Result: 9, 4, 8 = 21.
Magic
Rolled 2d12. Result: 10, 8 = 18.
Influence
Rolled 1d12. Result: 9 = 9.
Everything Else
Rolled 2d12. Result: 10, 9 = 19.

Kristobal

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

Kristobal needs a newspaper -they're usually a good starting point.

He gently drives his motorcycle and parks in front of the gas station. He checks his pockets -still 50 dollars left from the last guy he dispatched justice to, four days ago in Seattle. Not that he needs much in the way of money -mostly just gas and the occasional motorcycle maintenance. He carries his sword inside one of those tubes artists and architects use to carry canvasses and plans -it draws less attention, which is the last thing a 6-foot-tall, black-leather-clad biker with an all-chrome helmet needs.

"Vood evening [he nods politely to the cashier behind the counter, in his thick german accent. He has a deep voice, and the helmet makes it sound a little distorted] Just zis news-paper, please [he says, laying the Portland Tribune on the counter and a few dollars and coins]. Zank you."

He prefers self-service gas stations. Best not to talk too much with people, best not to get to know them too much; they'll all pass. He fills the tank of his motorcycle while he browses the newspaper looking for the usual news: crooked politicians who are above the law, criminals with good lawyers who have cheated the system, and occasionally violent types who are on the run from the law -though those are harder to find and he gets less bang for his time-investment buck there. Sometimes news of families in need catch his eye too, but they're hard to help without robbing the rich first, Robin Hood-style, and doing bad in the name of good gets complex very very fast; he tries to avoid those cases. The best problems are those solved with a little bit of violence and discretion, just enough so that he feels his time through the town is not wasted. Just enough... so that he feels he still has a reason to be around this earth after all these years...

Then it's on to the next town. Chase the next reason.

Kristobal scans the newspaper.

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-=[Live Forever]=-

DarkMoonINC's picture

Front page is the same as every city right now. Lame duck president, broken economy, stupid greedy people in politics global and local. Celebrities with more money than sense. For most the place reads as docile as an American cow chewing it's cud and watching Big Bang Theory. But Kristobal knows better. Like a battered wife, the signs are there if you know what to look for.

Fourth page, robbery and arson. Fifth page, family went missing out of nowhere. Fifth page, drug arrests of nobodies that don't do nothin' to stem the flow. Lots of petty stuff that's tucked under the front page rugs and quietly forgotten about.

Then there's the ads. Accelatron Security hiring now! Rosemount Realty is looking to sell your house today! Frankson foundation, friends to manage your 401k and stocks portfolio! Lots of businesses operating in this town and Kristobal gets a feeling he's seen some of these logos before, only they use to be esoteric symbols.

That's when he stumbles on the missing child report. Dennis Huffor, twelve years old, missing and presumed runaway. A tiny little piece given nearly no attention which seems like it'd be bigger news. Then he makes the connection when he turns back to the front pages. A bunch of Portland's finest officers holding trophies for promotions, beaming smiles and badges. FINE POLICE WORK! it says. And the nervous smile on the far right of the picture belongs to one Officer Gary Huffor.

And Kristobal knows that this entire town hides buried secrets only beneath the surface.

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Forge's picture

Kristobal

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

Kristobal nods slowly, as he turns the pages back and forth. He remembers they made them so big because the government started taxing them by the page. That looks like a unicursal hexagram in the bank logo, funny. Bigger pages are harder to read. Have to fold. More secret police news. Feels familiar. Should have levied taxes by the word. Child missing. Very sad. Mind flashes to many scenes of children in peril. Some in cages. Dusty streets in some desert market. Pottery and rugs. Was he there once? It was long ago. Noisy animals and vendors. Very long ago; he can't remember.

But that's okay. It's okay not to remember everything; Kristobal is at peace with that. Huffor. Never dealt with a Huffor before. Phone book.

He walks back into the gas station.

"Vood evening again [he nods again, to the man behind the counter]. I am now in need of your phone book, please. Zank you."

{Gary Huffor. [he starts to leaf through the H's in the book] Vhy are you happy in ze picture, Gary? You lost your child. [Hubbert, Humboldt, Humprey...] You should be sad. Children are precious. Is not fine police work if zey go missing.} [Huffington, Huffor. Not many Huffor. Gary. Kristobal commits the address and phone number to memory, then closes the phone book and hands it back to the cashier] "Zank you."

Children cases are difficult. Very fragile. Hurts a lot when they suffer. Hard to find. So tiny. Hard to protect. Door has chimes? Funny. Didn't notice them before. Very old invention. Used to be tin before, sounded better. Hard to refuse cases. Can't turn back on children. It's cold tonight. Good. Will be quiet in the streets. Less muggings when it's cold. Huffor.

Kristobal climbs back on his motorcycle and starts driving towards the address of the police officer to pay him a friendly visit. He doesn't plan to knock on the door however. First he plans to have a good look around...

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-=[Live Forever]=-

MrSmug's picture

Giacomo 'Jackie' Notelli

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

The door to the back porch snaps shut. Jackie takes a few steps down so he can hear the cold grass crunch under his feet. He takes a few deep breaths and pats down his pockets. He quit smoking years ago, but at times like this, he still looks for them.

"He's a good kid, Jackie."

"I'm not doing this now, Sal."

"He was just doing as he was told. It's tradition, Jackie."

"Go back inside right now."

"It's just that he means real well, Jackie."

"You raised him, you FUCKING MOOK. I told you. I knew this would happen."

"Jesus Jackie..."

"Hey, you get inside and you watch your good little boy, huh! You go back and make sure he doesn't stick his dick in a blender neither. Or did you tell him to do that already?"

Like something out of a corner of an eye, like a reflection of a reflection, Sal drifts back up the porch and vanishes into the house.

Jackie yells after him, "Maybe that's another TRADITION! And a firecracker up the ass! Another TRADITION!"

It's quiet out here in the backyard. Jackie paces around and around. He's got to think, gotta think, think think think. It's all blank. He checks his pockets again.

"Marty, you here?"

"Sure I am." A flabby fellow stands next to Jackie. His stubbly jowls flop over a scrawny neck. He sticks his hands in his pockets and stares at the ground.

"Okay Marty, let's walk through this."

"There's a break in. They ask for the bottles. They get them."

"How many bottles did we have down there?"

"It's just that you shouldn't be so hard on Ralphie, right?"

"You've been good to me, Marty, but we've had this discussion. They could have been in a vault, buried under a landfill, under a fucking volcano."

"Locked up in a vault? Come on, your mother's in there, Jackie. We're not going to..."

"YOU DON'T TALK ABOUT HER! YOU DON'T GET..." Jackie stops himself this time. A few more breaths and he's ready again, "How many bottles?"

"One hundred eighty one. Five generations. Oldest maybe... hundred and twenty years?"

"From death or retirement?"

"Retirement."

"Ok, well that's fucked. This is a fucked fucking..." His hand slips inside his jacket, no smokes. "How are we going to handle this? Who's primary?"

"We'll defer to you, Jackie. You've got the most experience with this sort of thing. We've got everyone behind you."

"Yeah, I bet. Well shit. So there's a break in and it's quiet. Ralphie says he locked up, but who knows. Then he's got a gun on his head, they whip him behind the ear, and the bottles are gone. Hey, where the fuck were you during all this?"

"Come on Jackie, you know we can't really..."

"Yeah, ok. So they hit Ralphie and all they wanted was bottles. No way it's amateurs. So maybe we got some confused mobsters thinking we got valuable antique bottles, not fucking likely. Maybe it's some voodoo fucks thinking they swiped magic booze, but if they knew about our family, then they probably know that's bullshit."

Marty blinks with his big bug eyes and smiles patiently.

Jackie nods and throws his hands up, "It's gotta be cultists or whatever. Some fucking looneybirds want a magic nuke. They want a mutually assured destruction. That's all it can be. It could be a threat. They want to Strangelove the competition. Maybe though, maybe they want to use it. That's some shit, huh? You can't move a hundred bottles that quick that quietly. They knew what they were getting. They planned for it. Whoever took our people knew what they were stealing. Imagine if they really plan to open them."

"You're doing great, Jackie. We're all really proud. We knew you were the right choice."

"Has Ralphie been working the business? Has he had any clients recently? Any big ones? I need you to go shake down some trees."

"Really though, Jackie. You could be nice to Ralph. He could help you."

Jackie finds a moldy lemon in the grass. He kicks it. How'd a fucking lemon get out here?

"Yeah, he's going to help. He's sticking around. You get everyone else out of town. Every Notelli in Portland still breathing leaves. Ralphie stays."

"Thank you, Jackie. I knew you'd be great. This is a tough problem and I know it's real difficult for you after that last time."

"Honestly Marty, that's not what's bothering me. They wanted us to know about this. They want us to come looking." He checks again, still no smokes.

"How do you know that?"

Jackie points up to the light in the bedroom window. "They left that dumb shit alive."

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DarkMoonINC's picture

"Look, Jackie, you haven't been here in the last few years. Things were rough. Heat's thick." Marty shakes his head, looking out over the grass and the trees. Oak, Walnut, a few odd True Firs. "Your great great grandpa Mick was thick with the Ricottis. So we got some sort of legacy draft into the current frame of things. Paul Ricotti treats us like family, you know? Even with him in the joint, Ricotti and Notelli's like cousins."

Footsteps from near the porch and voice bellows back to them. "They were fucking Spics! Ralph's pretty sure they sounded like Spics!"

Marty reaches for his flask and seeing Jackie's expression, leaves it where it is. "That isn't good. That isn't good at all. If it was the Arboles we're right fucked. Maybe it was Chingadas, shitty street gang- naw, they're too fuckin' stupid to know what the bottles even are." He shakes a thought away. "No. We're under Ricotti protection here. Even the fucking Mexicans wouldn't screw with us, though- if they did that's the only reason they left that kid breathin'. If one'a Notellis died... Ricotti family would have brought blood to the streets. So whoever did this knows that."

Inside the house there's stomping and arguing.

"Look, Jackie, here's the thing. This house is out of town in the middle of nowhere, no one even uses this road, you know? Figured Ralph would be able to babysit a place in the sticks no one knows about...." he pauses in thought and sighs. "Anything outside the city's DDA territory - Dientes de Arboles, don't ask me I ain't one named 'em - they run drugs all through the forests and hillsides outside of city proper and some'a the shitty parts of town. They got a deal with the Cuddies who run things the rest of the city. Ricotti and his people don't touch drugs but anything with a storefront's his. You know? The groups round here got a nice quiet system goin' between the three-"

The lights of a truck are coming down the road. "Oh shit. Looks like the clan's here. I think that's Eugene. He's gonna round up the rest of our guys and get out of town till this all blows over." Marty shakes his head. "Thing is, no one knows we moved these bottles in but family. Ricotti don't know shit about the dead people business, they're just classic Made Men. DDA I hear can talk to their ancestors too but it's a lot different, Santaria stuff. The Cuddies, though, I hear some scary shit about old man McGillicutty. Not just the torture murder stuff we're use to from these fuckin' savages-"

The truck pulls up followed by a car of people. A dozen men all loyal to the family are here, talking to one another and setting up plans of operation. From inside the house Sal is yelling enough racial slurs to choke a civil rights activist and Ralph hurriedly shuffles out to the new arrivals.

"I mean, McGillicutty does some crazy supernatural shit. Either way- Ricotti wouldn't fuck us. We're like family. If it was DDA, we're gonna have a problem. And I hope to shit the Cuddies have nothin' to do with this." Mart's shameful eyes submit to Jackie. "That's all I got."

Jackie can see around this rustic old house in the trees that among the gathered family there's a dozen family members who've been dead a while.

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MrSmug's picture

Giacomo 'Jackie' Notelli

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

Jackie pulls his weather-beaten Camry around the Taco Bell parking lot and stops. Ralph hasn't said a thing all night. He's just sitting shotgun with a pale mope stretching his face out like a ballsack. Jackie hops out of the car.

"Ralphie, come on. Get out of the car and have a taco. I need you with your head on."

It's three in the morning, but Jackie's running on so much adrenaline he might not sleep for a week. There's two or three other cars in the lot. People are in there, hunched over their nachos or whatever, chowing away. No one acknowledges each other at three am outside a Taco Bell.

Ralph places the bag of tacos on the hood of the car and digs one out. He holds the paper up by his chin, leans down, and takes a bite.

Jackie picks over his words, "You've been working the business."

Bits of lettuce and taco shrapnel fall from Ralph's mouth, "A little, I guess. Nothing big. House calls and stuff."

"You weren't supposed to Ralphie. We set you up in that house, nice and cushy."

"It wasn't for pay. I was just helping people. Missing cats. Stuff like that."

"Who was working with you? Marty wouldn't do that, and I doubt your father would go against Marty."

Ralph crumples up his taco paper and quietly admits, "Nonna was helping me."

Jackie looks long and hard at his cousin. He starts doing some math in his head. "So what did Nonna help you find out?"

"It was her idea. She knew these ladies with missing kids. She got me to meet with them, hold a seance. Nothing happened though. It was nothing."

"Missing kids ain't missing cats, Ralphie."

"Yeah but I...we couldn't figure it out. There was nothing. Nonna couldn't get a read on it. It wasn't a thing."

"Well, who were you meeting with? Who were these ladies?"

"There was like, I think I got a list back at the house, but maybe sixteen of them."

"Fucking sixteen? Sixteen women with missing kids. You serious?"

"Yeah, and they all went around the same time, maybe a year or two ago."

"All of them? Sixteen missing kids in two years? No fucking way. That'd be a national thing. Front page, every paper. Lead story, evening news."

"Papers didn't print it."

"Yeah?"

"I talked with these ladies and no one else was talking to them. All they could do was slap some posters around town and pray. Like I said, it was Nonna's idea."

"Anything else I need to know, Ralphie?"

"So you remember Nicole from church?"

Jackie's eyes narrow, "Yeah. Harry Darlen's kid."

"Well she's older now. She runs a Dairy Queen off the interstate. Makes good money."

"Ralphie, tell me you didn't work business with this girl."

"She's a woman, Jackie. And we kinda have a thing."

"That's fine. So long as you didn't work business with her."

"She was worried about her brother and this job he was running. I found out it was a set up and let her know."

"Did you tell her you found out from ghosts?"

"No, I... I mean I just told her I found out. A tip."

"Yeah, a tip from a guy living in a house in the middle of nowhere. Real plugged in. Darlen's with the Ricottis, dumbass."

"She doesn't know. I never told her. It's okay."

Jackie laughs, "It's obviously not okay. Get back in the car."

Ralph takes a taco with him as he climbs back in. Jackie takes his phone out and puts it to his ear. It's not on, he's not calling anyone. When he's out in public talking to ghosts, having the phone out draws less suspicion.

"Hey Marty, you there?"

"Sure, Jackie." First, there's just a voice. Soon the lumpy old suit and the floppy, bald head appear.

"Turns out, Ralphie's been talking with Nonna."

"Oh"

"How's she doing, Marty?"

"She's fine. Tough as a brick, old Nonna."

"Did you know she's been looking into some missing kids?"

"I heard something like that, but she couldn't find anything."

"And she's been helping Ralphie hook up with a Ricotti."

"Oh, you mean Nicole. She's a good girl."

"Jesus Marty, I thought we had an understanding. What if he knocks her up? What if their kid's in the business? This is pretty fucked."

"So what are you going to do next?"

"I better talk to some people. Knock on doors, go down the list. It's fucking late and no one's up, but there's no way I'm sleeping."

"I could get Nonna. You want to talk to her?"

"No." Jackie takes his phone down, slips it back into his pants. "No, I'll talk to her later. I'll just go running or something. Tire myself out."

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Trapturtle's picture

Janna Harken

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

[Janna sits staring out the window of her hotel window. Someone out there had what she wanted, a way to fix her leg.]

{I'm ready to do whatever it takes, though I still don't understand what this "Fairytale1331" is planning. Why so cryptic?}

[She takes a minute to unpack her things, a tooth brush, two pairs of clothes, and her grandmother's silver metal. After being constantly on the move, she's learned to pack light. Lastly she takes out the contents of the mysterious package she got in the mail, containing just the note and the map.]

What are you hiding?

[Janna mumbles to herself. For some reason she always found that it helped her focus, even if it got her some strange looks sometimes.]

{I could have picked up this map anywhere, there has to be a reason they sent it to me. This has to be some kind of test, see if I'm good enough for this "cure" of theirs. Well, they're going to learn that I never give up.}

[She takes as much time as she needs to look over the map, looking for anything wrong or out of the ordinary.]

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DarkMoonINC's picture

The map in Jenna's hands is shrink wrapped and straight off the shelf. As she pours over every street and detail she realizes that someone lightly watermarked four letters on a specific street of town.

JPDL.

As she looks through the map and googles the things around the letter, it becomes apparent that the area marked on the map is an industrial center full of warehouses.

Someone took the effort of watermarking this map and then resealing it before shipping it to her. And, as if by divine providence, as soon as she locates the watermark an email hits her inbox from dummy account 'qp9yvuym249m9u5'.

"You still have your YOUTH, let it SPRING forward. Just don't hesitate, your future AWAITS."

(I'd like if you identity what specific athletic sport she was going for in the Olympics - running, skiing, swimming, acrobatics, weightlifting, etc.)

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silverdrake3's picture

June Pawlitzki (aka: Junebug)

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

It didn't take much to persuade Miss Pawlitzki to move to a new town, and the tantalizing call of the elusive hacker l33t was no exception, not that she'd ever admit that to anyone. Today she found herself in an office, her painted lips curled into a faint frown as she carefully examined the terms of the lease she was about to sign. She'd been tied up in bad leases before, and she wasn't about to make the same mistake twice. The rent on this place was almost too good to be true, even if it was a bit of a dump. It wasn't like she'd be spending a lot of time here anyway.

The lease was sound, but she wasn't ready to sign. "Only got one stipulation to add." She tapped one paragraph with a manicured finger. "The parking. I'm gonna pick the spot. My truck won't fit under those dinky awnings you call garages."

The landlord coughed uncomfortably into a closed fist. He was the sly sort, she'd seen many like him, all greasy hair and thinking they know everything just because they can take advantage of most suckers, not realizing they were just as easily duped. "We can assign you a second parking spot for an extra--"

"I only need the one," she cut him off curtly. "That's the third time you've tried to weasel in those extra fees. I'm already paying utils, you just give that covered spot to someone who's willing to pay for two spots."

"We can't guarantee a spot that isn't covered. Are you sure it won't fit?"

"Look out the window, hun," she sighed, leaning back in her seat and tapping her pen against her knee. He did, and coughed again. She could see the teal reflection in his glasses. "That baby is just shy of twelve feet without the trailer. If I can reach up and touch the underside of the roof, that truck ain't getting in. Now you can either put a sign in front of one of those open spaces, rip down one of those awnings, or let me do it myself." She was getting irritated, she knew, the southern drawl she'd been trying to shake for years was itching up the back of her throat.

She didn't have to press the issue further. The man spread his hands in defeat and sat back. "I'll move the sign," he said.

"Good," she smiled, crossed out a couple of words on the paper, wrote in a few more, then signed. A few dozen more signatures later, and she had two sets of keys, a parking spot, and an afternoon to kill. Time to see how far public transportation would take her and, more importantly, what was offered along the way.

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I AmAndo's picture

Nigel Gervaise

Combat: 
NYA, HYB
Magic: 
N. HYB
Influence: 
HY, HYA, HYA
Else: 
NA

[It's been a long time since he's cared that fixing himself a cup of hot tea every afternoon reinforces the British stereotype that most people put in place the moment they hear the accent in Nigel's voice. In fact, he only cared one or two times at all, before realizing that he was rather above all of that nonsense.]

[Settling back into his soft leather chair, he sips the tea and looks out the window of his office at Portland - a drizzly day, but to a native Englishman, that's rather like home. Nigel smiles. His computer makes a sound, and he knows he's received an E-mail, but he doesn't turn. This is his moment. Until this teacup is empty, he will remain centered on his thoughts.]

[It's been a good 4 years. Things are coming together nicely. Not splendidly, but nicely. He's been feeling something lately; rather a jittery feeling that something looms on the horizon. Patience is a virtue, of course, but this feeling has remained.]

[Another series of electronic sounds from his computer over the next few minutes as he finishes his tea let him know that someone is desperately trying to get his attention on the company's Skype. As he finishes the last sip of tea with a satisfied sigh, he sets down the cup and finally turns to the screen. Clearing the scripture-a-day screen saver, he pulls up the messages.]

[Even as Nigel is about to begin reading, the coworker who has been messaging him pops their head in the door, and with slight exasperation, Nigel looks up.]

I say, whatever is the problem? Have I not made it clear - repeatedly - that at four o'clock I am not to be disturbed? May a man not enjoy his tea in peace?

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June finds public transit in Portland is one of the finest in the country, or so the signs say. In a leading edge green city, they offer everything. It feels like New York or San Francisco. Buses across a dozen routes. MAX Light Rail that takes you to every popular spot within the city limits. The WES Commuter Rail runs across South and West of neighboring counties. Downtown there's even a StreetCar that acts like one of them trolleys but looks like a 50s version of the future.

Then there's the bikes. Bikes everywhere. It's like China here. They think they own the road, crowding through streets and up onto sidewalks.

And the smell of the city. So many pairs of dreadlocks, unshaven faces. Hispters as far as the eyes can see. Internet cafes here and there, coffee houses on every corner. And the breweries. This town is made of micro-breweries. As if beer was the very lifeblood pumping through the heart of the city.

The greasy manager had backed down, like they always do. This city is full of slackers, scammers, perverts, shady folk. It's new age and hipster, it's alternative life. LGBT flags flutter from a different buildings every street you go down. And they're always finding something new. Some new alternative, some new idea, some new religion. It's as if when Burning Man is over the Burners all return to Portland to keep the fire alive.

And there's Scav signs here and there. She can see them. On intersection traffic poles. On electrical boxes. Signs, cyphers, code words. This city is a fustercluck of things happening, a large mess of chaos and the perfect place to hide in plain sight.

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Four years of trying to place a foothold in this city have proved frustrating.

Portland is a nightmare for Malleus.

There's an old fashion crime family that use to control the city, the Ricottis who were old Mafia, but they had no connections to the shadow war going on between organizations. Just non-supernatural everyday made men, that was all.

Ricotti's rival for territory was the Deadeyes, run by some psychopathic Thelema. Between the Deadeyes and the Ricottis, the city was secretly controlled. Everything was behind the scenes material. Two decades ago, though, groups edged in and took almost a fourth of the city. And they took the violence from behind closed doors to carbombings, public executions, and gunfights in the streets of suburbia.

On one side was the Dientes de Arboles, which Nigel knows really hides a few key Samosa members. They control anything outside city limits, they own much of the forest and are in hot debate with minor groups of the Sisterhood of Salem out in that wilderness. The DDA employs the Chingadas, a violent street gang that runs drugs and murder through the poor neighborhoods.

Companion to the DDA is the Five Black Fingers - a radical Black Panther cell that took on a life of it's own. FBF as well houses a few Somosa. Out of all the street gangs vying for Portland sidewalks they fostered the 5th Street Hustlas, a terribly unoriginal group of thugs. While not entirely bright, the Hustlas make up for it in numbers and brutality.

Then McGillicutty showed up and everything changed. The Cuddies weaseled their way in to taking half the city. From the report that crossed Nigel's desk it's more than rumored he used terrifying tactics, strongarm takeover, and magic to some degree. It the confusion of the late 90s, a series of events tricked the DDA and FBF into completely slaughtering every last Deadeye leaving themselves weaker for it.

Now they've all reached a happy medium balance. In the last four years, partially through Nigel's own actions, the bloodshed has simmered down. The Somosa-run groups control much of the rural and ghetto areas. The Ricottis still have a foothold in every business in the city. And the Cuddies pull all the strings. Whatever McGillicutty is he's not claiming allegiance to any known group.

At least Nigel's been able to bring down civilian bodycounts. Malleus has kept him up to date as best they can on the situation. Rumor is coming down that Hades Dagger, one of the infamous Malleus assassination cells, is ready and primed to clean the city. But nothing will happen until Nigel can find that one foot in the door that will break the balance of power currently held.

"You not checking your Skype? Whale account on the line for you. The Japanese. The one you've been hoping and wishing for, for the last eight months?" the man grins. "But hey man, you go right back to your tea." And with that he disappears, the smug satisfaction almost odorous from him.

The phone beeps through with a transferred call. It's a high profit, his business-sense tingles, and it's landing right in his lap.

(I want to thank you all for patience. Christmas was hectic and I wanted each person to post once. Now that we're all established, I will be posting more replies later tonight and you shouldn't have to wait on anyone else. At least not for a long while. So enjoy the ongoing game and Merry Christmas everyone!)

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The man behind the counter starts to get a little on edge but treats Kristobal as politely as possible. From there he easily finds the officer. It's not difficult as an upstanding citizen of the law he's easily located.

His house is run down. The weeds haven't been pulled in a while. What was once a nice three bedroom home is left to years of disservice. His civilian car is parked in the driveway and a lights on inside. There's a doghouse in the chain linked yard but no dog to be seen. The place isn't a mess - there's no clutter. It just feels abandoned. Inside someone is doing something in the kitchen.

At the front door newspapers have started to collect. As Kristobal watches the property, the sprinklers come alive to automatic timers. Water spritzes the yard for a while. The neighborhood's not bad but he's seen better. Whatever that nervous smile was in the photo, it's become clear the face behind it is far more nervous than smile.

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"I'd be careful what you look for, Jackie." Marty says through a face of sauce. He's trying to wipe himself clean but the bag he had leaned to far forward before he caught it and all the dry napkins caught the wet ground. So he's using the back of his sleave like a child. "Out there in the woods, the business is straight. But you get inner city, or some of these bad neighborhoods-"

And Jackie can see the look in his eyes. Like he's see shit that'd turn a man's hair white. "They're roaming around. All over here. And we don't even use the business, they pop outta the wood work like termites. Tom, you know, from East Coast side of the family? Comes out here to visit and does a small job for a friend out here..."

Across from the parking lot a Cadillac has pulled up beside the curb, about 30 yards from them. It's just sitting, engine idling.

"He calls up an old relative a someone, answers stuff. The business. Then suddenly these two guys appear but they don't dissipate. They're pretty feral lookin' like outta the Walkin Dead or 28 Days, you know? And they slowly walk to him. He's trying to shut it off but he can't control them-"

Jackie can see the three people in the car are watching him and his cousin. Silent, still.

Marty's arms explode out in a flash, but he's just showing off his story. His hand flings so hard taco meat flips onto the windshield of a cold quiet Van parked two spots away. Marty's face is lit up like this is the greatest story he's ever told. "and BAM! five more out of nowhere. Tom's surrounded. He's runnin' and screamin' and that sets em off. I mean, they don't get much faster but they wail. I tell ya Jackie I ain't ever heard that kind of sound in my life. Then there's like eighteen o' the fuckers!"

And with that, the Cadillac slowly starts to roll along the curbside, away from them. Only one of the people inside is watching them still. Nearby, at one of the cars pulled up behind the van, two hispanic women eating Burger King hamburgers are watching the Cadillac and suddenly re-evaluating Jackie and Marty like they're Jihad terrorists about to go boom. Behind them with two bags of Taco Bell a younger teenager hispanic boy is too busy with his cell phone to notice any of this.

"So of course we run into a church and wait it out. Turns out the priest there can see em too. Tells us only a few can see 'the restless dead' he calls em. Anyways. Tom left on the next flight out and hasn't returned a single call o' mine." Marty is grinning to himself like he's brought Jackie a trophy.

And his smile is slowly collapsing when he follows Jackie's line of sight to the Cadillac and the hispanic group. Which isn't easy, Jackie's real slick about not starin' and being noticed for noticin'. Jackie gets the feelin' Marty can be sharp when he needs to but plays the fool real well.

(And just to specify, NPCs you create around your character are fine but they have no narrative power unless you spend cards. NPCs anyone else creates you can sort of work with but it can't obviously go against character. When in doubt, just stick to the reactions of your own character.

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Forge's picture

Kristobal

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

The bike is parked right outside the front door, and Kristobal is standing out in the open, in the middle of what is left of the lawn. He's fascinated by the sprinklers, and how the tiny drops of water fall on his gloved hands, and seem to roll off so gently off his black-leather fingers, and down on the dirt. He observes them drip...

They're like rain. From the earth. Rolling down his fingers....

But his head moves towards the window, when he perceives light. Motion inside? Refrigerator. Full of ice. And food. Must be kitchen.

He cleans his hands and walks towards the kitchen window -his 6-foot frame easily able to peer inside. This is a house, but not a home. Everything feels broken. He knows he has been in broken places before... but tries not to think of them for now. Is just that he knows the feeling.

Knock-knock on the glass.

Then he waits. If no one opens the window nor the door, he simply knocks again. He's willing to patiently repeat this process many times as long as he sees someone inside who looks able to respond. If and when someone comes out to greet him in some way -all the more if it's Mr. Huffor- then Kristobal has simple things to say in his peculiar voice and accent:

"Vood evening, Mr. Huffor. I am Kristobal. Vhat happened to your son? Newspaper says he ist missing. I can help you find him."

Very "on the nose" as far as dialogues go, but that's who Kristobal is. Never had much use for subtlety; the direct approach is the one taken by those who have nothing to feel guilty of nor lie about. Euphemisms and subtlety serve no purpose but to conceal weakness or guilt, and so Kristobal has no use for them. "I like helping. No charge."

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-=[Live Forever]=-

DarkMoonINC's picture

The man sitting at the table inside the house is in his uniform. Sitting in his chair he's got one hand firmly grasped onto the neck of a bottle of Jack Daniels. His other hand hangs uselessly at his side. On the table his service pistol sits pointing to the side, almost at Kristobal, the clip removed and loaded standing in front of him. He's poised the bottle up to his mouth when he hears the knock.

He pauses, the noise registering on his brain, and he slowly turns to look out the window. When his brain registers the tall man with the motorcycle helmet he stumbles to his feet, slowly walking to the window. He stares at the man in the leather and iron cross jacket, chugs out of the bottle, stares at the strange man again, then stares at the bottle in confusion when Kristobal continues knocking.

He slowly opens the window up, unlatching, sliding, and then squats down to rest his arms and the bottle of jack on the sill.

"W-what?" Officer Dennis Huffor says. The alcohol smell flows out like fumes from a factory. "Who are you? Why- why would you want to- did Cuddy send you?" When he says the name there's a sullen look of depression in his soul. Kristobel can almost see the nights of tears over his missing son.

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silverdrake3's picture

June Pawlitzki (aka: Junebug)

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

Now this was June's kind of town. She couldn't help but grin as she stepped onto the trolly. It made her feel like a kid again, not that she'd ever admit that. At first she spent her day simply taking in the sights, but as those subtle signs caught her eye her mind turned to that wonderful, enticing underworld that had drawn her here in the first place.

Rather than browse the microbrews for a little move-in gift to herself, she stepped into one of the coffee shops and ordered some hot herbal tea and a croissant. No caffeine off the road, that was her policy. She picked the one open chair that let her sit with her back against the wall, sipped her tea, and dug into her handbag. She unzipped a tiny pocket on the inside (one she had added herself for just this purpose) and withdrew a small USB drive and a microSD converter.

She plugged it in before she booted, and obediently the machine displayed the login screen for her crypto build, a modified version of Debian she'd put together before packing her bags for Oregon. A casual glance made it look like Vista, and the terminal window could easily pass for Notepad. She fondled her necklace, found the locket catch, and opened it up to reveal the microSD card tucked inside. She'd shown this to a friend once, and she'd declared June paranoid. Not paranoid, she'd replied, just a fan of spy novels.

Card, adapter, SD slot. The notification popped up declaring "Card Corrupted. Format? Y/N" She closed it, launched the decrypter, and typed in her password, then the password for the card itself. The 64mb card unlocked, revealing her most precious documents, including her personal journal.

She opened up a new document (OR_sightings.odt) and started jotting down the street names she'd noticed the signs at. Other documents had images and notes on previous sightings, mostly at truck stops and gas stations, but she had no idea what most of them meant. In fact, many of them probably weren't scav signs at all. She made a mental note to come down this street with her camera later when it wasn't so busy. She was close, she knew it.

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Forge's picture

Kristobal

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

"My name ist Kristobal [repeats the biker figure, perfectly willing to continue this entirely normal conversation through the window. With his gloved finger still wet from the sprinkler, Kristobal draws the sign of the cross on the glass as he adds] Gott sent me... [but he makes a pause there. That used to be enough for most people, a long time ago. The world has changed. Or has God?] I don't know vho ist Cuddy. I'm not good at many things. But I'm good at killing people, if Gott vants zem dead. Did Cuddy take your son? [Alcohol. A firearm. Broken house. That name 'Cuddy' brings sadness. Man has already given up before fight begins. Maybe lost previous fights. Maybe son is already lost, and now father wants to join son in heaven. Won't reach heaven if he kills himself though. Sad fate to land in Purgatory for all eternity. Kristobal could kill him instead and send him to heaven. Take the sin of murder upon himself -another pebble won't stop the river. Unless maybe son is still alive. In that case...] I can kill vhis 'Cuddy'. Please tell me more. I vant to help."

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-=[Live Forever]=-

MrSmug's picture

Giacomo 'Jackie' Notelli

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

"Our relationship with the Ricottis hinges on ignorance on their part and usefulness on our part. We don't tell them until we have to." Jackie keeps his eye on the Cadillac as it turns out of the lot. "and even then... I'll handle it."

Marty picks up some of the spilled napkins from the ground.

Jackie says, "Just leave it, Marty. Come find me tomorrow. We'll go on a drive."

It's noonish and the sun's out with a vengence. Jackie keeps pawing at his windshield, leaving greasy streaks. Normally it's so overcast he doesn't notice the dust building up on the glass. Now he's swerving around these patchy, dirt roads and all the light is making it tough to see.

There's plastic bags caught up in all the crooked weeds and strangled bushes growing out of the packed, dry dirt. He pulls into a housing block and maybe a thousand dogs start barking. Every building is squat and ramshackle but not the fences. Jackie drives by row after row of eight foot fencing, battered and bent from heavy dogs leaping and leaning on them all day. Jackie slows down to idle past the addresses, checking his notes. He can see the muscular, drooling beasts following him through the slats of their wooden cells.

He finally finds the right address. It's the house at the end, the one with no fence. He parks along the road.

"Marty, I need you."

"Yeah Jackie. Right here."

"Tell me what you see up ahead."

"Oh jeez. That house right there? I don't like that place. It doesn't look good."

"Yeah, but what do you see?"

"There's something big on the lawn, is that what you're talking about, Jackie?"

"Sure, the big thing, describe it for me."

"It's a big lump, kinda pointy. Like a pineapple I guess. Big as a person. And it has white, puffy eyes and it's made outta metal, I think. And its half a gorilla head too. Oh jeez Jackie. I can't look at it. It's all rusty Jackie. I think it's got bones inside. You can't see it?"

"It's not there for me."

"Jackie I don't want to be here."

"Hey. Just stay in the car. I'm going inside."

"No, this is bad. Let's just leave."

"Get your shit together Marty. These DDR guys might be calling themselves something new, but we've been working with these families for some time. I'm going in and I need you to watch the door. Alright?"

The old ghost tugs on his collar and hunches down in his seat. Jackie hops out of the Camry. As he walks over to the gravel driveway, a young man steps out of the house. He's got his shirt unbuttoned, revealing intricate tattoos covering his torso, his neck, and his thick arms of corded muscle.

Jackie holds his hands out to the side, palms up. "I'm looking for Cuchillo. I've got business."

The tough on the stoop nods toward the door. Jackie walks up slowly. He glances back to the Camry. Marty's slunk down so far, he looks like a melted candle, barely peeking over the dashboard.

Inside smells like fragrant tobacco, body odor, and dust. A short, older woman rushes by as he walks in. She's holding a rolled up paper with some pungent, burning herbs. She waves them around the threshold, spreading acrid smoke. There's a few men in here. They are packing up a card game on a flimsy folding table.

"Hey fellas. I'm here to talk to Cuchillo. He around?" They all look so young to Jackie. Probably barely out of their teens. It's no surprise. Jackie knows how this business works, but still, seems like a waste.

"No Cuchillo here, bud."

"Okay, how about Oscar Mendes. Tell him Jackie Notelli's got business."

"We don't know no Oscar neither." The reply is quiet and slow. These kids are smiling. Jackie knows they're just fucking with him.

"Well I got work. I'm willing to trade for information."

The thugs place all the chairs along the wall and start folding up the table. The carpet underneath is packed down with dirt and grime. It might have been blue once, but it's all grey-tan in the middle. The woman is gone. It's just Jackie and the boys.

"No one gives a shit about goomba work, bud."

He needs to change up quick here. "Hey! Jackie Notelli. That name means something. You hear me? You ask your Babaalawo, huh? Go ask the..."

They set on him at once. Jackie's mashed against the wall. Big hands holding him back. A foot finds his stomach, then his leg, then pops something in his hip. He can't breathe and something hits his ear, then his eye, then his neck. He tries to move and twist, but there's so many of them.

Now he's on the ground. He coughs and gets a breath in, "Motherfuckers, I walk, guuhh," a kick in his kidneys. "I walk with Ogun, Lord of Iron," he tries to shout over the pummeling.

Someone is pulling his hair up. Jackie grimaces as his face is raised from the ground.

"You're so fucked, mijo." The tattooed kid is standing by his face settling into a batter's stance with a long 2x4.

"Hey, the...the...rooster on the chalice. Fucking, ask your Orichas. Ask them!"

The beatings pause. Jackie's still held tight on the floor, his head wrenched up. The thugs are now looking at each other, talking. Jackie can't hear a word over the ringing in his head.

"Jackie Notelli...you tell 'em. Name's Jackie," he's able to wheeze out.

"Shit, man. You don't know when to stop." he lifts the board behind his shoulder and brings it down hard on Jackie's temple.

"We was doing you a favor." he says, but Jackie can't hear him.

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The air almost feels like home to June. Not her own home, of course, but how she'd imagine home should feel. It's native. Around her people swarm but they don't really see her. She's delving into crowds of shallow, petty people doing normal everyday things. And here she was, preparing to lift rocks and find bugs.

The sight of a woman using extreme lengths to protect herself isn't much out of place. And if it was, most people seem more concerned with themselves than with her.

It's like picking out the claw markings of a bear. Fact is, between posters, stickers, graffiti, and other art pieces, much of downtown is littered with countless pictures and words. It's an art town. The signs she's seen are like anything found online. Picked up and used. Scavs are anonymous internet patrons but they're the catfish of the sea and shameless copycats. They pick up whatever they find, repurpose it, and redistribute it. Many of the sigils and signs were stolen from other things but they caught her eye because of their placement and their specific type. June's heard stories of how homeless people have their own unique markings, it's somewhat the same.

But it's the tip of the iceberg. These are just territorial pissings. Scavs marking their territory in a way that makes people looking for the signs think something's important. But like most of the internet anon, it's all a display of braggadocio.

That all said, she knows that if they're to be found around town it won't be on the street. It'll be on the digital highway. And like that, as she looks, she realizes that someone has just left her a big juicy hook to bite. There's a post talking about Mister Grim, the scourge of Portland's underworld. "He's hungry and he can never truly be fed." Responses says stuff like "Stay out of the Shadowside." and "The Slaves are Restless this time of year." It eventually devolves into avatar posts from an anime character.

There's another post made somewhere where she'd obviously look. And all the thread post says is: "Ship's arrived in Port. See if it sinks or unloads cargo. Think it's here to be loaded. Willingly." and the only response is "Three Kings will cross the River, but is the ship too afraid?"

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From outside the window Kristobal can see a lump under the officer's uniform neckline he knows all too well. A cross, almost as if Krisotbal can feel it's presence.

The officer blinks, his eyes reddening as he shudders. He falls to his knees looking at Kristobal with some sort of strange epiphany. Like he truly knows what he is, or thinks he's something similar. He looks up to the sky and goes pale. "Is this your answer?"

Quickly now, he lifts, motioning Kristobal to the front door, shutting the window. He opens the door, letting the large man in, looking out into the neighborhood cautiously, and locks the door behind him.

He ushers Kristobal into the living room. A family use to live here, the remnants of memories and objects haunt corners and shelves. Pictures of a happy family. Of someone who use to be a kid. Now, only sad lonliness moves life through the growing cobwebs and dust that takes up the old life. The only things clean and orderly are what Huffer uses daily.

"You... did the lord really send you?" He paces the living room, looking around. "Oh god. I- you're really here to look for junior?" Officer Dennis Huffor Senior. "God, if you could kill the bastard that'd change this whole city."

Huffor puts the bottle in a cabinet and washes his face in the sink. He looks a bit more hopeful now, a lighter step in his legs. "Ok. I was a rookie, dumb kid with a badge it felt like. Doesn't matter how old you are when you become an officer. They only care how much pavement you've pounded." He laughs. "About a half year ago I ran into something I wasn't suppose to. Now I'm a Sergeant. See, I found out which houses McGillicutty's been storin' his drugs that he uses the Chingadas and Hustlas to distribute."

he stands in place, back against the wall. "Say ninety percent of the force is good upstanding officers. You know? McGillicutty doesn't have to own the force, just very specific people. When I reported to my superior about the drug location, he told me he'd take care of it. So I let it go for a month. But I just couldn't- and I found out nothin' changed. I got a friend in DEA territory and they told me those houses weren't even on the radar."

"Well I guess I was snoopin' too close. Because one morning the Cuddies' right hand man is at the foot of my bed with shotguns pointed at me. He tells me that the Cuddies would appreciate if I kept my mouth shut. Said I was promising and, if I just went silent, they'd help me out." Dennis laughs sadly. "I'm too honorable for my own good. I went to IA, told them I was drownin' in corruption. Next day, my son is gone. Cuddies come around again and tell me that if I can go a whole year provin' I'm their bitch, they'll give me my boy back. And they gave me a promotion and made sure I was in charge of all patrols on houses where they move drugs."

He laughs again, holding himself tight with his arms. "They put me right close to the worst so if I say anything now, I'm only incriminating myself. Wanted to go to the FBI but if I do I know- just know that bastard McGillicutty's gonna know. Ya know? But if someone not connected to me looked into this... you might be my only hope of findin' Junior."

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Forge's picture

Kristobal

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

Kristobal nods. He has been standing the whole time in the middle of the room, listening -he doesn't need to sit whenever he's not riding his motorcycle.

Mr. Huffor is a devout man. He was devout once, too. Mr. Huffor did the right thing, consistently. But the evil one is holding his son at ransom in order to keep a veil over his evil deeds. Kristobal now understands that he came to Portland to kill the man named 'Cuddy'. He is grateful for this insight. But the death of Saladin didn't stop the Crusades, and Kristobal knows he has to do more than merely send a single soul to the Lord for judgement.

"I understand [he finally replies]. If it's Gott's vill, you vill get back your son. I vill kill 'Cuddy'."

Kristobal opens his leather jacket -it smells of old dust and old leather- to reveal half a dozen very old city maps all carefully folded in his inner pocket. The maps have all seen a lot of use, and are full of black circles marks covered with red X marks and the legend "Dei Iudicium" in beautiful calligraphy. Also in his pocket there are two pens, one black and one red. Kristobal pulls out the black one -it still reads "VOTE NIXON - AGNEW"- and gives it to Mr. Huffor. Then he picks out the Portland map -the newest of the bunch, which is completely clean- and carefully unfolds it before Mr. Huffor.

"Please point zese strongholds vhere Cuddy hoards his plunder, on ze map. Draw a circle around zem, please. [Kristobal waits for the circles to be drawn] Zank you."

Kristobal nods seeing the circles, committing them to memory. Finally he carefully re-folds his map, methodically stores it back with the others in his inner pocket, retrieves his pen, stores it back and closes his jacket. It's all very deliberate and careful.

"May be Gott be with you, Mr. Huffor [he says, as a way of goodbye, before walking out the door], for He is witt your son."

Kristobal will drive his motorcyle around the block for the first of these drug distribution houses, once, to observe who lives there, and then he will drive to the nearest gas station.

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-=[Live Forever]=-

silverdrake3's picture

June Pawlitzki (aka: Junebug)

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

The half-cup of tea had gone cold and the croissant was nothing but crumbs. June resisted the urge to lick her lips hungrily and instead shut down her little netbook, tucking the USB boot disk and SD card back into their respective homes before she stood. How long had she been sitting there? Long enough for light outside to grow dim. Were they talking about her? No, couldn't be, had to be someone else. But still, a nagging feeling tugged at her.

On the way home she picked up some chinese food and a 6-pack of weiss to calm her nerves. As she rounded the corner into the parking lot of the apartment, she was glad to see a sign had been put up in front of her truck-- "Reserved: Apt 213". It was printer paper in one of those clear sleeves, but it was a start. She was about to walk by it and head inside when that nagging feeling hit her again. She hesitated, then turned to the big turquoise beauty.

She set her bags down and dug impulsively inside her purse. Where was it, where was..? Aha! She withdrew a sharpie pen, the logo on the side almost worn away from kicking around in the bottom of her bag for the better part of a year. She hesitated again, then pulled off the cap and started drawing. The back, behind the passenger side, where a casual observer might overlook it, at least when there was a trailer in the way, she put a rather crude picture of what she hoped passed for a tugboat, complete with steam puffing out of the smoke stack on top. She was about to put the cap back on when, on a whim, she added a small beetle to the side of the boat.

With that itch scratched, she gathered up her things and headed upstairs. The tiny voice of reason chided her for chasing shadows, but secrets excited her, and she had never felt so enthused. What was this shadowside they kept talking about? Who was Mister Grim and the Three Kings? It had been a long day, and she still had some unpacking to do. For now, she set the matter aside, and went inside to savor her takeout and beer.

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I AmAndo's picture

Nigel Gervaise

Combat: 
NYA, HYB
Magic: 
N. HYB
Influence: 
HY, HYA, HYA
Else: 
NA

Of course not, it's my bloody tea-time, why would I bury my face in a sodding computer screen? [But of course the man is already gone, Nigel's words only heard by himself. Still, the gripe is mostly to maintain the slightly cranky English persona he keeps up for appearances. In reality, the Japanese account is exactly what he's been hoping for.]

[Clearing his throat, Nigel picks up the phone.] Nigel Gervaise, how may I help you?

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DarkMoonINC's picture

The thundering headache is what enters Jackie first. Then it's the subtle light of candles and the smell of marijuana. But it's like well cooked popcorn. He realizes he's in a chair and it's really comfortable. Quality leather. Only his hands and legs have been tied down. To his left a large brown man with a shotgun is texting on an iphone, barely a glance in Jackie's direction. In front of him a tall thin woman is sitting up on a dresser and she's smoking out of an electronic vaporizor stick. As Jackie's eyes slowly unglue themselves awake and his eyes contact hers, she exhales a sickly faint cloud of cannabis vapor into the chandalier above him. Jackie has a sense that after the thugs in the house knocked him out they haven't put a finger on him otherwise.

He's had his shit kicked and he's going to feel it days from now. Nothing new in the business.

Across the walls there are pictures of Mother Mary and crucifixes with little pained white bloody Jesuses hanging. Many of them have been turned upside down, deface, or covered. Over them have been placed a new symbol. A iconic tree with a a snake wrapped in the branches. And as he looks at it it's apparent the snake has feathers and a headdress.

The woman has her legs crossed under her as she smokes. She's tall, almost seven feet if Jackie's eye's are to be trusted. She's South American maybe, pale brown. Brazil or Columbian. Hair jet black. She's dressed in a casual blouse with dress pants, but they're tailored more for comfort than fashion. Over her right eye is a pirate-fashion eyepatch with a white symbol of a fang on it. It's then Jackie notices the old native man sitting next to her on the dresser. He's covered in wrinkles, his brown skin worn with time, wearing nothing but old tribal leathers over his waist and upper legs, and he's got body paint on his face and chest. And then Jackie sees the old native man wavers with translucent gossamer texture.

"The boys can be very rough." She says with a thick accent. Columbian, Jackie decides, it's probably Columbian. "I'd apologize but you were very persistent." She places the vaporizer on the dresser, her hand moving through the native ghost, and the old spirit watches it like it was his trophy.

Then Jackie hears the whining moan from the other room. "Please, please no." the muffled sound of Marty becomes decipherable through a door and who knows what else is in that room. The lady on the dresser looks at where Marty is held and then turns her attention back to Jackie. She laughs.

"We didn't even touch him. Just put him in the room with one of my men." She shakes her head. "You come to Chingadas territory with a crying niño." She sighs. "So you ask for Cuchillo, but instead I come. What is it you want? You wanted to talk, Notelli? So talk."

(At this point I'm going to say edit your character and change combat, magic, influence, and everything else. Pick one strong, two average, and one weak. Then under roll, roll "4d12" to fill up your stats with cards.)

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DarkMoonINC's picture

Huffor pulls his cross necklace up out of his uniform and holds it to his mouth, closing his eyes. Kristobal can hear him whisper "If you let my boy die, Lord, I will be lost forever." then he puts it away and looks at the tall motorcycle knight. "Alright. Kristobal, is it? Fine. Just- don't let them kill my boy. They find out it was me, they'll come take my head right off and burn my house down. But I don't really care, ya know? I'll go out shootin'. But Junior, that's all you gotta worry about."

He pulls out his own similar map from a kitchen drawer and copies the circles over to Kristobal's map. He nods to himself and puts away his sidearm, focusing on the picture in the kitchen where his son's still smiling at him behind well cleaned glass. "I hope for your sake you know what you're getting into."

From there Kristobal is able to find not one, but two of the locations only a block away. No one's there, it's vacant. Empty, abandoned, sealed up. And on a hunch he checks a nearby third house. The hunch pays off. Each of the houses, as far as he can see, are unoccupied and for sale. Rosemount Realty signs stick up in front of each house. As he looks at the sign, the symbol intrigues him. It's a triangle mountain with a upsidedown triangle rose on the tip. The entire thing would look innocuous to the average person, but Kristobal can swear the outline looks too much like a unicursal hexagram.

Given this information he's able to procure whatever he needs from the local gas station.

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DarkMoonINC's picture

The area she's settled into is comfortable. The place might not be quality living. but the neighbors are all polite and nice to her. They give normal short conversation.

The food and drink and whole situation is exotic and enjoyable in the ways that only showing up to a new place can be. Sure, it's all stuff she's seen and had in every town she's lived in. But this town still feels like a new thing. It's fresh and the air is damp and fresh off the sea, the trees and birds and everything gives it a very natural feel. The whole place seems quaint enough to settle. Not that a Junebug ever settles anywhere.

It's all relaxing. A night spent alone with food and drink in a new town.

A quick glance over the evening will reveal some relatively interesting information. The Shadowside, it becomes apparent, it something referred to on paranormal forums. It originally picked up rumor from 4chan's /x/ and then spread. The best summery she finds is it's like Insidious' "the Further" but "Only scary, unlike that shitty boring movie".

The Three Kings leads her to a fascinating development. Someone on the 4chan /x/ board and Reddit had written about his childhood game in Mexico involving mirrors and candles. Like Bloody Mary and a Ouija board mixed, only more complex and worse. What began as a charming childhood game blossomed as people actually applied it, leading to all sorts of personal horror stories. Three Kings Ritual, it became. Taking on a life of it's own as the community turned it into something else.

The interesting connection leads to someone who claims that they are part of SCaV3NG3R. In their post, they claim that Three Kings is one of a few known ways to open the door to the Shadowside. The user is PissRiver and as she searches it feels like these posts are all traps to lead foolish people into something terrible.

There's a lot of negative response to all of these threads. People saying it doesn't work, that the Shadowside is a joke, that it's all Illuminati trickery to kill idiots, that it's the Devil's work and will only lead to demon possession, that it's real but very dangerous, that it's fake and nothing but trolling. Sifting through truth, disinformation, and ignorance is hard on the internet. Anyone can claim anything.

What June does know is that someone is leaving clues to find other Scavengers and they believe this Shadowside is a place where treasures and secrets are hidden among terrifying nightmares.

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DarkMoonINC's picture

"Hello, Mister Gervaise. My name is Fuwa Akio. After such a long time of negotiating with your company my employer, Mister Okasawa, has decided to agree to your current terms. However, Mister Okasawa has a... request." The man sounds younger, in his late twenties, and is very formal about the whole thing.

"He does not like to go into business with anyone else unless he feels their honor is as family." Fuwa seems to be smiling from the tone. "Unfortunately due to illness and other personal matters, he cannot attend. Which is why I am speaking to you and not my employer."

"However, Okasawa's son Doppo has very much wanted to visit the Americas. So we wish to send the younger Okasawa and his body guard to visit. He will simply observe how you do your business and if he is satisfied, or at least believes his father would be satisfied, then we will agree to your very reasonable terms." Fuwa laughs. "Trust is a very difficult thing in this business and Okasawa's from a more traditional standing. Yes? He hopes you will host his son in his absence so we may move foreword with this deal."

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silverdrake3's picture

June Pawlitzki (aka: Junebug)

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

Curiosity killed the cat, and June knew it. Common sense screamed at her not to do anything foolish, and for the moment she listened. She copied the details of the ritual to its own folder she whimsically dubbed "Rabbit_Holes" and set it aside before she showered, dressed, primped, and made ready for another day.

She needed to check in with the shipping company to see if there was any work for her coming up. She had a nice sum from the last trip, and still more in her rainy day funds, so she was not anxious to start work anytime soon. Once again she went out and about. She considered getting herself a bike, and stopped into one of the shops to browse. Was she ready to settle here? No, but she entertained the thought.

Finally she stopped at a grocery store to stock her cabinets. She took a taxi home, left a generous tip, and hurried all her bags inside. Among the bags of pastas, spices, sauces, mixes, and utensils she also had candles, incense, and a couple other things purchased on a whim, things she remembered from the pasta. {What are you doing?} common sense admonished, {If any of what you've been reading is true you're going to get yourself killed.}

To take her mind off of it, she switched on the CB radio she'd set atop the microwave. It had been ripped from her first truck when it was decommissioned, modded to take regular wall current. She picked up the mic.

"Breaker one-nine, this is Junebug, anyone want some company? I'm coolin' my heels at some new digs, would love to hear some stories." She opened the fridge and tucked away the milk, cheese, butter, and eggs while she listened to the chatter.

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