A Million Miles of Murder

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Forge's picture

Such good fortune that the children will be spared all this, and their mothers.

They were all left behind aboard thirty lifeboats in the middle of Gatun Lake, in the Panama Canal.

Their fathers, and all the childless adults male and female, as well as all of the staff and crew gathered at the Encore Theater instead, for one last show.

They braced for impact against the Pedro Miguel Locks, but impact never came. The last one to dash in the room was Bill Sims, and he looked like he had something urgent to say to Captain Furuma, but seeing the inevitable, even the old dog held his peace.

When Furuma ordered everyone inside the theater, they had at best 3 or 4 minutes left before impact.

But it's been 10 minutes now, and no impact has been felt. No slow-down has been felt either -Furuma would notice if the ship stopped.

O'Connel took the body of St. John to the backstage, and Lynn followed.

The entire room is silent, save for the moaning of the wounded, and the stifled cries of some men and women. They all wonder what has just happened. They all wonder what is about to happen. Michael O'Morchoe is holding Lynn's head, near the stage, whispering something to her, keeping her steady. She looks like she's about to lose it. The Westmere Witch, Gwaelin, seems, if nothing else, a little paler than usual.

Kuro is nowhere to be found. Last Furuma heard of him, he was with Anderson up at the bridge. But Anderson is missing too, as is every single officer who was left at the bridge. None of them are here. Only Garou, the ape-like lieutenant in his ridiculous -for a killer- chef hat, remains, and thirty-nine others "of the blood", with their tiger print badges, scattered among the crowds of crew and passengers -about two thousand souls.

John St. John opens his eyes to the bright, bright lights of the stage shining above him. As usual. The curtains are still closed... and he has a guitar in his hands. He is standing... he feels... he feels he was just about to give a performance, a magnificent performance at that, the song to end all songs -but the chords are leaving his mind, just like the details of his dream. The thoughts and memories escape him like water through one's fingers, until all that is left is just their scent... their sensation.

No, this is not the same usual amnesia he experienced for years: he remembers Krevin. He remembers there is this figure, this monster who stalks him in his dreams and calls himself Krevin, who kidnapped him for a whole year and taught him all manner of horrible things, a demon which he fought many times, and many times too he did horrible things under, and up until a few nights ago he was unable to remember any of them upon waking up. But now he's awake and he remembers. He remembers everything: every single nightmare.

It's the last few days which are missing. The last thing he remembers, before finding himself holding this guitar right now, is rising from the massage table at the Cloud 9 spa, and feeling rejuvenated. Everything after that is a blank.

It's as if... there was a cancer in his mind, a tumor... and someone yanked it off. It was Krevin: Krevin has been exorcised from his mind -somehow St. John knows this. Somehow he knows he defeated Krevin... or that Krevin is defeated, anyhow. Anyhow he is free. And with Krevin gone, St. John feels no fear either. No fear, no apprehension, nothing negative at all. It's as if removing the tumor that was Krevin cured him of so many other maladies, too. He feels perfectly fine. He feels perfect.

Whereas Katsu: he dove into the river in the Blood Web, while all hell unleashed behind him, holding Alexis Borontsov's body in his arms. His head emerges from the waters of the pool in the Lido deck, and he is alone. Alone in the pool, alone in the deck -all alone.

Until her voice rings inside his head... "Oh God... [Alexis says...] I guess Krevin did hurt me a little bit more than I thought, eh?"

(Katsu, please choose three paranormal skills you gain from your Hierogamy)

Welcome to Act II.

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I AmAndo's picture

Rolled 2d12. Result: 10, 12 = 22.

Kaoru "Ash" Furuma

Combat: 
SY
Magic: 
SY,HY,--
Influence: 
NA,--
Else: 
EYB,HY

[Kaoru realizes that Michael O'Morchoe was indeed right, somehow, miraculously, and that they are, and will be, safe here. This is a practically earth-shattering realization, and the admission would be unthinkable. But he knows that he must be the Captain, and these two thousand people must be addressed, or the chaos will return. He gently pushes his way to the front of the room and clears his throat loudly. This is partially to get the attention of the apssenger,s and partially to make sure the Blooded crew know he is to be heeded, with their help.]

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your prompt acknowledgement of the situation. As you know, I am Captain Ash Furuma. [Emphasis added to ensure they remember that he is in charge.] I realize you must be curious about what is going on outside. I urge you to remain calm and patient. My crew and I will assess the situation shortly, and soon as we are sure it is safe, we will inform you all.

[While inevitably there will be clamor, the Blooded know the drill - keep the people at bay. Kaoru pushes his way to O'Morchoe. He is aware of Sims and his expression, and it is on his to-do list to find out what the investigator wants, but he feels this is more important right now. If Sims approaches, he will give his most withering glare and basically tell him "don't talk to me, I'll talk to you when I'm good and ready." With his eyes.]

O'Morchoe, what is this? Not that I don't enjoy continuing to live, but what happened to the ship? The lock? What did you do?

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DarkMoonINC's picture

Filler up
Rolled 2d12. Result: 1, 5 = 6.

John Saint John

Combat: 
--
Magic: 
--.--
Influence: 
--,--,--
Else: 
--,--

John slowly turns to see if his kit is here. Piano is his first love, it's the magic he wrote all his material with. Guitar's what he plays live to supplement it. Of course his kit would be here. He wouldn't play without it. Would he? The ideas are turmoil in his brain.

So he just plays something he'd worked on but never released. Something completely untouched by Krevin, from before this ever started. A song he worked on occasionally but Krevin never let him record.

A slow, soft ballad. Very similar to Gary Jule's cover of Mad World, with electronic mix of the original.

The lyrics are different this time. Gone is the pain and anger. It's a lonesome, sad, haunting track. Like the day after a terrible breakup. It's more personal, emotional, than what he's written previously. Only, it's sad. Not suicidal, not entirely, but hollow. Drained. This comes from a place outside of the last eight years.

{What's happened? Where am I? What is this?}

He just plays, softly singing the strangest words from his mouth. He doesn't care if it's a curtain all alone, or a crowd. John has always played for himself, the fame and money and fans were peripheral.

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Trapturtle's picture

Katsu Oshiro

Combat: 
N,SYA,HY
Magic: 
SY
Influence: 
SYB,SYB
Else: 
N,SYA

[Katsu just floats on the surface of the pool for a moment, trying to process what just happened, and hoping to figure out what to do next.]

{Damn. What happens now? I won't be able to join with the Kogeta the clan has for me. At least the mission is completed, well almost. Full disclosure, I was sent on this boat to kill you. Nothing personal, just a job. And it seems that Krevin was the one hijacking the boat, but after what St. John did to him I don't think it'll be a problem anymore. So where do I go from here? First I should probably report to the captain. He'll want to know what happened. Now where did everyone go?}

[Carefully Katsu climbs out of the pool and heads to the bridge, that's likely where the Captain will be.]

(For the skills, Blood Blade, Wind's Hand, and Hunch.)

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Forge's picture

Furuma suddenly hears soft and gentle music coming from backstage... everyone in the theater hears it, and together with his earlier words of reassurance... the tension in the room seems to die down considerably... it has a calming effect.

"No, please don't do it. [says Adam O'Connel to John, placing his bandaged hand on his shoulder] There's been a change of plans -the boss' made a deal, temporary truce... [John can perceive some sort of fear in Adam's voice, and he pulls the hand away quickly. But his intention, for whatever reason, was for John to stop playing that music...]"

Just then, John sees Mike O'Morchoe himself walk backstage too, followed by Furuma.

Adam turns his back to John and gives O'Morchoe a flashlight. The king grabs it.

"It's pretty much a loop anywhere I start Cap'n. [begins Mike by way of explanations] so I'm gonna start with these, and then your questions will take us full circle I'm sure. [he flicks on the flashlight, and Furuma and John realize it is actually UV light, with that purple light bulb glowing underneath. O'Morchoe points the beam towards the ceiling..... and the UV reveals the entire ceiling is covered in ritual symbols -Greater Thelema Society runes. And the walls. And the floor. Everywhere Mike points, back stage -the whole theater] and the whole audience room too. All of it. Did it from the outside, if you're wondering. It's a temple. A temple to who? To Babalon. To Baba-what. To the great goddess Crowley himself, and Parsons tried raising. She was a woman once, for them. And for me. She was my wife, and the mother of my child Lynn Dalany. Dead since. She protected us. Made us pass through the lock like ghosts, so she did."

Michaels turns off the flashlight and lets his weight drop on a chair there, and just exhales, tiredly, and rubs his eyes with his hands.

"Only reason I'm telling ye this, boys, is because there's little use to concealing anything anymore. Choronzon, [he gestures to St. John for some reason] had been laying clues for years, in his puppet's music. The clues are not a puzzle you put together a rainy afternoon, oh no... [he chuckles tiredly]. Took me years. But they all pointed to this boat. A dream of Carnivale, see, a play on words on what we experience when we sleep, which is presumably true freedom, the entire purpose of Thelema, and "carnivale" which once upon a time was Malleus's nifty little invention of "whatever you do this night is not a sin, so enjoy". 'Her by the peaks, her by the shades, her who lies through a dream of carnivale' [he smiles to St. John -were those his lyrics in one song or another?]. So I booked me passage here a year ago, The Carnival Dream obviously, and started preparations. Preparations which today saved our lives didn't they. But nothing else was happening, I was stumped. '50 worms buried, twice lined towards the dying sun'. Buried means south, twice 50 is a 100, dying sun is west. I mean, I don't know. I figured why not bring over Choronzon himself and have him explain things in person [again he nods to St. John] it worked rather well, eh? So there. Just in time for the big ride."

He laboriously stands up from his chair, and for some reason John feels compelled to give him a hand. Mike nods a thank you, and starts making his way out: "I don't know what comes next, Captain, we've made it further than Crowley himself, so from here on we're making it up as we go. Donna' be angry at me for pulling you into this: I'm not causing 'this'. Whatever 'this' is. It wouldda 'appened with or without me aboard. I'm just better prepared. Oh, and standard thelemic procedure: recommend yer passengers to never... ever be alone. Ever. Hopefully we'll all make it back in one piece, eh, but the ship is not ours to control anymore. We're on a ride now. Feel free to investigate why Choronzon chose this ship if you want to, or how to regain control of it while you're at it, and teasingly, why your Sensei didn't warn you, haha -I'm sure that will keep your men suitably occupied. The less the passengers know the better, I suppose. Now if you excuse me, I need a little rest. C'mon Adam, c'mon John."

For some reason, John feels strangely compelled to go along with O'Morchoe.

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

Alexis has been through quite the emotional ride for the last few days. She was tense enough, being only a bookworm type of girl, trying to single-handedly save the whole ship, but throw on top of that a murder attempt by a hideous monster, a rape attempt by another hideous monster, and hours of cruel torture -learning that she did, in fact die.... she starts sobbing quietly inside Katsu's mind. He is so methodical, for her, he is so oriented to the next goal, the next, he's never insecure, he doesn't suffer from all these weaknesses she carries, weaknesses which, maybe if she had done something about them sooner, the whole ship would be in better shape.

{You know... I knew I was dead. I was hoping... I was hoping so much that I was still alive... I was hoping so much that when we jumped in that river together... I would come out the other side... instead of seeing through your eyes. Instead of feeling with your hands. [it's almost too much for her to process]. Instead I get this. Oh God.}

She starts to sob again. She's been through a lot.

Katsu finds a towel nearby and dries himself. The view from the Lido deck shows the endless sea in front of the ship, and the fading lights of the coast behind. The weather got bad all of a sudden, however. When the fire alarm rang it was sunny and beautiful. Now it's cloudy and dark. Maybe a lot of time passed.

Also: not a soul anywhere. Anywhere. There's an eerie quality to seeing entirely empty decks. The elevator to the bridge:

Ding. Katsu walks in. The doors close. The box starts to rise. The doors open.

There is sound, finally. It's coming from the bridge... just up ahead down the short hallway. It sounds repetitive. Like... someone's hammering something. Bang. Bang. Bang.

... and there's a squishy sound too, now that Katsu notices.

Bang.

Something's going on behind those doors. Katsu hasn't yet been seen. Peeking through the keyhole he only sees shadows. They turned off the lights. But the shadows move. They... drag themselves.. and crawl around the floor, slowly.

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DarkMoonINC's picture

John Saint John

Combat: 
--
Magic: 
--.--
Influence: 
--,--,--
Else: 
--,--

John looks oddly at Furuma. "Do... do I know you?"

He shakes it off and helps Mike.

"Well, I'm free magic Mike. I suppose there's no use for me now. I should retire to the backdrop with all the other normal people and let you magic folks do your thing." John sighs, putting his equipment down and following. "I know magical symbols when I see them."

"I get the vague feeling you had a daughter or something. Like I was really worried about her being safe. Is- all I remember is getting a massage first day of the voyage..." John looks around, walking with a brighter, happier step than even. "then I'm here. Like the last few days are a black hole."

"So what now, Mike?"

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Forge's picture

Michael raises an eyebrow hearing that St. John has lost his memory... and Furuma sees this bothers the old "irish king" for some reason, as much as he tries for it not to show.

Adam O'Connell gives Mike a glance, as if expecting orders. It would occur, perhaps, to Garou -who is watching discreetly from a distance, that Adam is to Mike what Kuro is to Furuma, and if so, Kuro'd be the hands-down winner.

"Sounds like we're in for the long haul my friend. [says Mike, trying his best to take the bad news in stride] quite curious what happened to your memory -maybe it's a side effect of the protection of Babalon. Why don't we go back to Cloud 9 and discuss matters over a fine wine, ah? Perhaps we can jolt some memories, Adam and I. Lynn, darling, come over here [Mike beckons] your friend John's mind is a little fuzzy after the events... [Lynn, John sees, has red puffy eyes, as if she had just been crying a lot. And when she looks up at him, at first John sees nothing but anger in her eyes. Spite. But then it turns into confusion once she learns John has lost her memory] Now now, darling, no need to be afraid anymore [says Mike, clearly not wanting to discuss the reason for her crying moments ago] John is fine, see? ["b-but"] but nothing sweetheart, let's all go back home and talk things over. Now. [he nods to Gwaelin, in the background, and the old witch begins moving, too... though there's something slightly unnatural to her gait as she walks... and Mike seems to notice this. Mike turns to Furuma] before you say it: yes, we should meet and discuss things again, plan perhaps. Let's do so over dinner. For now I think you have to reassure your passengers, yes? Remember, tell them not to be alone..."

{The stench again, my Liege.... [Emi's voice sounds slightly different inside Furuma's mind. Clearer, somehow... as if she was in the room, more than in his mind..] not of lies but.... of half-truths. There is much the old king -isn't- saying. And Saint John.... he feels completely different from before in a very strange way --beyond his claims of amnesia... beware, my Liege...}

Whatever truths Mike is hiding, the mood in the theater is starting to change. There are demands to know what has happened, what will happen, and people are getting frustrated at their cellphones. No signal for the cellphones. The crowd is starting to grow antsy... crowd dynamics risk spiraling for the worse, gradually, but surely for the people in the theater...

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DarkMoonINC's picture

John Saint John

Combat: 
--
Magic: 
--.--
Influence: 
--,--,--
Else: 
--,--

"The notes. Sleeping me left me notes. He... my mind split about five slash ninety five. The monster knew what waking me knew, though waking me was a tiny sliver of my subconscious and sleeping me was able to keep secrets by fracturing itself into thousands of me slivers and hiding thoughts in each of them. Before we took this trip, sleeping me had thousands of songs, ideas, and dreams tucked and hidden from the monster."

"I don't know what happened back there. But all the memories I had stolen away secret are gone. I remember hiding them, I remember sleeping me lying to the thing and lying to waking me, writing those notes. All the secrets in my head are gone."

He shakes his head. "Sleeping me would have opened them all at once to overload the demon, and to weaken enough to try and control it. But in doing so, it would defracture the pieces and return me back to a single personality."

He shakes his head sadly, again. "I should just go home. Whatever you're after is still out there. I'm no help. It's all gone now- sleeping me and waking me feel like one again, and the demon is nowhere to be felt. I feel- hollow, empty. I need to get home, I feel like I don't belong here. Good god what have I done?"

He's making his way slowly to the exit, to try and find out how to escape.

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I AmAndo's picture

Kaoru "Ash" Furuma

Combat: 
SY
Magic: 
SY,HY,--
Influence: 
NA,--
Else: 
EYB,HY

[Kaoru's face is unreadable as O'Morchoe and St. John leave. He did not reply to St. John's question. He is about to leave as well to investigate what's going on outside the theater when he sees Sims, still hovering. With an inward sigh, he gestures for Sims to come over to him.]

Yes?

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Forge's picture

"I think all the passengers are coked out of their minds [says Sims, simply, and keeping his voice low so the rest of the passengers won't hear] I found huge bags of drugs in Cloud 9. Same kind Borontsov had -must be from the Sint Maarten suppliers. Not only that, but they were hooked into the ventilation system. God only knows where that shaft goes. Why the hell would the irish fuckers waste all their product like that? Maybe trying to turn everyone into addicts? But that's fucked up. Thank god there're no women and children here anymore. And what the hell was that evacuation all about? How can I keep safety and security in this bathtub if I don't have the faintest of whatever the fuck is going on? [Sims, Furuma realizes, did not see the ritual signs all over the theater, nor did he hear Mike's explanations of Babalon]. What are we gonna tell all these folks? They're getting mad soon-like, do we just send them to their rooms, or what?"

Where is Kuro, is a more pressing question. Kuro usually has perfect timing -is always at the right place and at the right time, except for now. This is unusual, although perhaps just a stroke of unusual inside the much larger watercolor of weirdness the ships seems to be going through. And Katsu is missing too, for that matter....

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I AmAndo's picture

Kaoru "Ash" Furuma

Combat: 
SY
Magic: 
SY,HY,--
Influence: 
NA,--
Else: 
EYB,HY

[Kaoru seizes on this opportunity to wrest control of the situation back. Lightning-fast, he starts to devise a plan. Though it is with extreme internal distaste, he puts an arm around Sims' shoulders and draws him in so that his words are also silent.]

I knew there was something off about the Irishman O'Morchoe, and he has made threats against any of my Japanese crew who tried to enter his spa. I believe he is strongly racist against us. I wanted to give you an excuse to investigate as much as possible. You've done me a service, Mr. Sims, one I shall not forget. For the moment, I will try to get the remaining passengers to go back to their rooms. I want you to stay here in the theater, pretending to talk to one of my crew. Once the passengers are gone, search this room thoroughly. Top to bottom. Find anything you can, then report back to me. I will force myself to be friendly with O'Morchoe until I know what he's trying to do. Good work, Mr. Sims.

[Kaoru withdraws his arm and gets attention again for another announcement.]

May I have your attention! This is Captain Furuma again. [Yes, they know this already, but he must strongly enforce this image of authority.] It would appear that the worst of the danger has passed, and we may safely leave the theater. However, we are still experiencing technical malfunctions with the engines, so I must ask that you return directly to your cabins. Because we are having these technical malfunctions, we must take certain safety precautions on the chance other systems malfunction, and I would strongly recommend any time you are out of your cabins, please find a friend and stay with them. This will help ensure we can quickly find everyone if we need to.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask the crew, but please allow us to continue doing our job to ensure your safety. Stay in your cabins unless it is absolutely necessary to leave them, and do not wander the hallways alone. Thank you for your cooperation.

(Note: If I need a card to convince them of this, hoping the SYA will do the trick)

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Trapturtle's picture

Katsu Oshiro

Combat: 
N,SYA,HY
Magic: 
SY
Influence: 
SYB,SYB
Else: 
N,SYA

{Stop, I need you to calm down. If I can't focus here, there's a chance we both die. Look, this arrangement, it's not what either of us wanted. But it might be better this way. Being joined with me, it's better than the Blood Web, and I am stronger because you are joined to me. Now we need to find out what's going on here.}

[Katsu draws his knife and slowly he opens the door, preparing to face whatever is on the other side.]

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Forge's picture

"Well, we're properly fucked, then, aren't we [says Mike to John], if you've forgotten the Plan, then it means Choronzon has been defeated. Good and all; I didn't think you could do it. Not you, I mean, so early? ... bah. [he sighs, and shakes his head. Only the Kinsella and John are occupying the elevator at the moment, headed for the Lido deck... slowly passing one empty deck after another]. It's okay, son. We had to defeat Choronzon sooner or later anyway. I guess this is his last laugh, innit? Setting us on the course to the City of Pyramids, irrevocably so, but taking away our one perfect tour guide. Hah. More of an adventure now -sounds like the kind o' trick he'd probably laugh about. On the other hand... [he looks to Adam, knowingly] at least we won't have to worry about more people being turned into monsters, will we? [Adam merely looks away. Lynn is looking at John as if he was a walking puzzle -as if he had three eyes, or horns, from the look of her face..] Might as well make lemonade though! I shall make you an offer, dear John. You see.... let's put it this way..... Choronzon might be gone for good, and the instructions with him -whatever you hid in all those records- but he left in you some power, aye? Yeah. That's what it is. And you can use this power, you can do magic. I feel you've been getting the short end of the stick here, and I don't want anyone to say the King of Leinster is anything less than kingly in his dealings. So I'm gonna make ye the offer of a lifetime. I know a lot of Magick. And Gwaelin here, well, she's not called the Witch o' the Westmeres just for her choice of hair products, ah? We'll teach you a few spells, whaddayasay? We have the rest of the day to kill, and it could be useful later if you know a supernatural thing or two. I'm talking about.... putting hexes on your enemies, or building your own magic puppets to serve and entertain you, or summoning the spirits -anything you want! The sky is the limit -but you gotta sign up with my label, you understand? No, not the record. I mean you gotta take sides with my family before things get hairy between mine and the japanese folk 'round here. Cuz they will. And we're outnumbered here, and we could use some protection... Plus, Lynn gets along with you famously. Deal? [he sticks out his hand for a handshake] Ah, I know what you'll say, you'll say yes if I promise to tell you everything, hahaha, of course. I will, son. I will tell you everything, just a little bit at a time -call it the O'Morchoe payment plan. And it starts with, say, three ways you could use your magic power with. Shake my hand!"

(if John agrees, then please choose any three paranormal skills from GTS or any organization...)

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

Sims is nodding the whole time Furuma has his arm over his shoulder. He's listening, occasionally adding a "yeah, yeah" here and there. "Yeah okay. [he says in the end] You got it. Look, sooner or later you're gonna have to round up some of the guys here and go arrest the lot of them irish folk, y'know what I'm saying? Then hold them in detention cells until port. By the way, what a freak thing this deal with the engines. But I was thinkin' maybe you could radio for help and get some tugboats to chain us up and pull the other way, you get me? [he demonstrates with his hands] And slow us down or something. [That indeed, is how much Sims knows about ships. Basically he thinks they're like a big bus, only floating. Without further comment, Furuma lets Sims walk away to do his thing.] And you know what else capn'? I dunn care what they say; when push comes to shove you're actually a decent guy!" (that was the SYA, actually. To win Sims over in one stroke after all the months of barely tolerating the guy. He is now a firm ally).

Convincing the passengers to return to their rooms is much, much harder. What is happening is simply unprecedented: there are all kinds of questions: "why don't you just shut down the engines?" "cut off the fuel line?" "drop the anchor?" "turn around to Panama and hug the coastline until their coast guard helps?" "Evacuate via chopper?" "get another ship to run parallel and cross over in zip lines or walk-boards!" and a thousand more etceteras. Worryingly, some of the crazier suggestions are coming from staff and crew -none of the Blood of course. Those of the Blood are loyal to a tee, and merely hold their silence and subtly position themselves around the captain -very much a circle-the-wagons strategy. Furuma realizes Michael O'Morchoe was wise to tail away out of here as early as he did. Perhaps he knew things would boil over this way.

"WHAT THE FUCK?!?!!" The voice came from the back of the room, and the man holding the cellphone, a 40-something bachelor with a 4-day beard throws his cellphone away, and goes to curl in a corner, sobbing, and shocked. "What happened?" "what's going on?" "whom did you contact?!" etc. But the man only cries. Sims goes to the guy and shakes him by the shoulders -subtle as usual, our Detective Sims. "Who the fuck did you talk to? I'm the Chief of Security -answer me!"

"Diana.... [responds the guy. He's a mess.]"

"Diana who? Who the fuck is Diana?"

"My... my wife. I dialed home. I was dialing every number in my address book... I still have hers in the address book-I... I never wanted to erase it... you know.... sentimental... [Sims makes a face and was about to turn away, disgusted, when the guy adds] since the accident. Diana died in a car accident 2 years ago, internal bleeding. [it's as if a bucket of cold water had been thrown over every single head in the room]... she picked up the phone-it was her voice. She said.... [he sobs] she called me by my name and said she couldn't wait to see me again...."

Okay, that has an effect on people. Some run out of the room by themselves, others back away much more slowly, and at least two other cellphones are thrown across the room. "What the fuck is going on?!" ask the angry voices all around Furuma... "what the fuck?!"

Calming down the crowds, in their state of despair and utter confusion, with nothing but words will be Hard. Furuma is now positive Mike somehow knew this would happen, and this is why he left early. Garou looks at Furuma. All thirty nine of the Blood are here. A single order, and they could impose peace by force, like only Fujin's Blood can. It would be a sight to see, and not without casualties. Or Furuma can try to talk the crowds down again, hard as it is.. either way he needs to choose path A or B soon, because the crowds are this close to getting violent -mostly out of fear and confusion at the strange, strange situation they find themselves in, separated from their families and the world in an out of control ship that almost crashed, and the number one reason is simply that they don't understand what is happening... ignorance is the greatest driver of fear, as always...

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

Katsu pushes one of the double doors of the bridge just an inch. Just to get a good peek.

So. Much. Blood.

The navigator is hanging upside down from the ceiling, his leg tied to a belt tied to a light fixture. His uniform vest was opened, and his belly was sliced like a deer's, from the belly button to the base of the neck, and the man's entrails are hanging out freely, covering the man's face as he slowly spins. The Hotel Director is slumped on a corner, holding his own severed head in his hands. And Anderson... his tongue was pulled out through a hole in his throat... but he's still alive. He is dragging himself with bloodied hands across the floor... Katsu realizes the Commodore has no legs below the knee. Kuro is standing behind Anderson with a katana... and periodically hitting the floor with it. Sometimes it connects with flesh and chops off a bit more off the leg, other times it hits the floor. Parts of Anderson's legs and feet are spread through the entire bridge like so much gore.

Kuro's face is emotionless, cold. It's almost like a chore, the way he slaps the sword down on the floor. Almost like he's bored. Katsu also notices: Kuro drew some Kanji on his cheek, with blood. With his finger.... it's too dark to read what it says.

Katsu feels Alexis, in his mind, is about to throw up if such thing is even possible for a spirit. After surviving the "grandpa's farm" this is the last thing she needed to see. She's about to lose it. But Kuro hasn't seen Katsu yet. He's... abstracted into slowly mutilating Anderson's legs, one or two inches at a time... Katsu hasn't been seen.

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DarkMoonINC's picture

John Saint John

Combat: 
--
Magic: 
--.--
Influence: 
--,--,--
Else: 
--,--

John's eyes glare at the man who tries to talk to him, this King of old ways. He glares at the hand offered to shake. He glares over when some guy is freaking out about his dead wife answering the phone. He looks at Furuma with a softer glare, then back to Micheals with a harder glare.

"I never should have come here."

John turns and leaves to find his room. He's a torrent of all kinds of mixed emotions and he doesn't want to make any life altering decisions in this frame of mind. He knows he'd regret it tomorrow.

John pushes to escape to find his room.

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I AmAndo's picture

Kaoru "Ash" Furuma

Combat: 
SY
Magic: 
SY,HY,--
Influence: 
NA,--
Else: 
EYB,HY

(Hey, I've got the HY Influence card - might as well throw it down)

[Kaoru had been clenching his teeth in frustration as the comments had been thrown out, like a politician who was only going to make a statement getting peppered by the press with banal questions. The last straw is the hysterical man who starts babbling about his dead wife. Though he never would have thought himself one to show his true face to his passengers, this is no ordinary set of circumstances, and the day has frayed his nerves. His hand making a slicing motion through the air, he barks out in his most intimidating voice:] ENOUGH! SILENCE!

[Into the silence, he glares around the room, throwing some especially withering glares at the crew members who were also starting to lose control.]

Do you think this is a set of normal circumstances that has thrown us here? Do you not think that I would have exhausted every resource at my disposal before calling for evacuation? You are MEN! Act like it! You WILL remain calm, you WILL avoid moving around alone, and you WILL stay in your cabins unless you have a damn good reason to leave them. My crew and I ARE going to be working out what happened, so leave your panic and your speculations at the door as you leave.

[It was yet another instance of uncharacteristic raising of his voice, but Kaoru realized he had to take a strong authoritarian stance to get this rabble under control and out of his hair.]

[Still...]

{Emi, was what that man said true? About his wife?}

[Kaoru goes over to where the phone was thrown and picks it up. Doesn't matter if the man tries to retrieve it, he will not get it back...yet...]

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Forge's picture

Mike takes back his hand, shaking his head in disappointment. Adam was about to say something he thought would be funny -judging by the smirk- but Mike stops him. Lynn merely stares back. The elevator opens on the Vista deck, and John climbs off (he never saw what happened in the Encore theater, as he was in the elevator with the Kinsella.)

The entire hallway is empty and lonely, and there's something very Overlook Hotel about it. John finally makes it to his room. He's yet to get used to feeling this way... it's just... different in a hard to explain way. As he opens the narrow cabin door he finds a sheet and a pillow on the floor at the base of the bed -as if someone had slept there- and the chair facing the door, but other than that the room seems normal enough. All his music equipment is there, and also his laptop with emails opened that he doesn't remember opening. The TV only displays static, and if he were to try the phone he'd discover no one answers. Everything in the bathroom is perfectly functional of course, but John feels no need to use the toilet at all. For that matter he's neither sleepy nor hungry. Nothing else of note.

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

Now that worked! (Good use of HY! Please roll 2d12 for refill) the crowd is stunned into silence. One thing Furuma is particularly good at is projecting his authority in ways both subtle and overt, depending on the situation, and this was quickly escalating into necessitating overt measures. Which Furuma provided, masterfully. The crowd becomes very sheep-like, and taking advantage of the momentary silence, some of the higher-ranked among the Blood begin ushering the people out and back to their cabins. Furuma notices too, in the corner of his eye, that he gained even more respect in the eyes of Sims. There's no doubt about it in anyone's mind for that matter: this ship HAS a Captain, and it's better to obey him.

As the theater empties out and Sims begins his inspection, Furuma picks up the cellphone. It looks ordinary enough, and the log of calls keeps the last 20 items. 19 are failed status -Furuma notices the phone has no bars, no signal, but the last call did indeed happen and last 13 seconds. It is to an area code 317. It's a nice souvenir, and the man who threw it away doesn't seem interested in getting it back -in fact Furuma can't see the guy around anymore -he must have left with the rest of the passengers.

Order having been re-established, Furuma sees the people dispersing through the various channels out of the Atrium, elevators, hallways, staircases, etc. There's an odd quality to the lights -they are somehow dim and... they look as if they were glowing, more than actually shining. It's a blurry effect easily attributable to stress and how hard the day has been.

Should Furuma attempt to radio anyone who wasn't present at the Encore Theater, he will get no response. This includes everyone at the Bridge and everyone down at Engineering, near the turbines. And finally Emi says, in that newly distinct and present voice of hers: {The man was not lying... there are strange forces at play my Liege, every soul aboard the ship feels more immediate and distinct. I don't know what sort of devilry the Irish King invoked in order to save everyone's lives at that theater... but I also feel different myself...} It seems Emi still believes O'Morchoe was not lying when he promised to save everyone's lives. Then again, he didn't have to have lied. There could have been side effects he just chose not to mention....

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I AmAndo's picture

Rolled 2d12. Result: 6, 1 = 7.

Kaoru "Ash" Furuma

Combat: 
SY
Magic: 
SY,HY,--
Influence: 
NA,--
Else: 
EYB,HY

[Kaoru feels tired, but it is still early in the day, despite everything that has happened, and this is a strange feeling - the looks, the sounds, and Emi's voice. There is still work to be done today. He starts by making his way to the Bridge, honestly partially subconsciously looking for Kuro...]

(Yes, Ando knows this is a horrible idea...Furuma, however, is another story)

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Trapturtle's picture

Katsu Oshiro

Combat: 
N,SYA,HY
Magic: 
SY
Influence: 
SYB,SYB
Else: 
N,SYA

{Close your eyes, if you can, hide yourself in some deep corner of my mind. You won't want to see what happens next.}

[Katsu draws his pistol and trains it on Kuro. He aims for the legs, he'd prefer not to kill him if possible, but if he's under some kind of spell, Katsu might not have a choice.]

(In Japanese) What the hell are you doing?

[If the man doesn't respond, or tries to attack him, Katsu doesn't hesitate to put him down.]

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Forge's picture

The ship definitely feels different. It's not just that the hallways are half-way empty, it's not just that the regular background music is not playing, is not just how the weather got suddenly darker and cloudy. It's something intangible and surreal.

The elevator works nevertheless, and takes Furuma to the Lido deck, then it's a short walk to the next elevator that passes through the hateful Cloud 9 -Furuma only sees it for a moment: Mike and and Adam are drawing closed all the curtains for some reason, and then up to the bridge.

The doors of the bridge open, and Furuma sees Katsu pointing a gun at Kuro.

Kuro is standing still with his hands loosely by his sides -a dangerous pose if Furuma knows the man- calmly eyeing Katsu without saying a word.

Other than that the room is empty as far as Furuma can see. Gone is Anderson, gone is Jimbo the Hotel Director and Mr. Damaso the navigator, Furuma can see no signs of them; only Kuro remains. The room looks clean and orderly.

Katsu blinks. The room is a butcher's mess, and Anderson is crawling towards him, begging, reaching with his hand on a pool of his own blood, making a horrible heaving sound with his liquid-filled lungs, and Damaso slowly spins hanging by his leg and when Furuma opens the door he accidentally bumps Jimbo's headless corpse, causing the severed head to roll off on the floor a short distance, stopping right in front of Furuma -but the Captain doesn't seem to care, nor does Kuro, with his katana which is still dripping.

Why is Katsu pointing his gun at Kuro? Furuma sees no reason. Anderson is gone, and the bridge is clean and empty except for Kuro and Katsu -there's no one else here. Also, Furuma notices that Kuro is keeping his katana sheathed at the back as always, at the ready.

{My Liege, he is with ghost now. [says Emi]... he is no longer an Ashigaru, Oshiro Katsu. He carries one now... but not one of the Blood. The spirit that entered Katsu did not enter through the Lotus Blade Ceremony (the traditional way for Fujin's Blood members to enter in Hierogamy) and it's not one of the Blood... it is a foreigner he carries. He's stained of the wrong blood (wordplay; in japanese "Chimamire" means "Blood Stained", and the term is reserved to those in Hierogamy with Fujin's Blood spirits, imbued the right way through the Lotus Blade, "stained of the wrong blood" is for those who get spirits outside the clan, usually a big nono.)....}

Kuro merely stares back at Katsu, his eyes as cold embers that do not betray the mind's inner workings -the sign of a veteran assassin. Occasionally they glance at the gun steadily held in Katsu's hands, then at Furuma, then back at Katsu.

"What the hell are you doing. [replies Kuro in japanese, to Katsu, his voice plain and emotionless]"

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DarkMoonINC's picture

John Saint John

Combat: 
--
Magic: 
--.--
Influence: 
--,--,--
Else: 
--,--

John sits on his bed and weeps. He puts his hands to the sides of his head, legs curled up to his chest, fetal. He's just stunned and in confusion.

"This is all wrong. This is very very wrong."

{We came here to banish the demon. We also came here to control it. At least one of those worked.}

{What is this? We wanted rid of the nightmares, of the demon. But now that he's gone, it's like, losing something that had become a part of ourselves. We wanted this. Now it feels like an emptiness.}

{But I'm happy. I'm perfect. I'm without worry. Right? We're free. ...I think they call this withdrawals. Yeah. Yeah. I don't think I was ready to cope with absolute loss. But my music will be good again won't it? ...don't lie to yourself, John. Your music will be subpar.}

{How can you rebuke the Thelema hand? That was the path to magick and power right in front of you? ...because, John, we're just another puppet. Eight years a puppet to the demon's strings. Now we've been traded off to be another decade of Thelema's puppet?}{Not true. I'd have Lynn. And Mike can help me.}

{Help us what? fight his pissing match against every other group who wants power like ours? Get involved in wars we have no business in? This is just one ship. Imagine that. We get back to mainland, then the Irish bastards will have us fighting people all across the United States for his little pissing matches. Even the world.}

{Ok. So we rebuke his offer? And we're left alone here?} {That's right John Boy John. No other people out there. We seen the ending to Silent Hill, and Mike saying all that supernatural talk. We're not in reality anymore. We're in the other place. And there's no going back without taking his offer. All the people who evacuated are dead. And all the people in that theater, I promise you, will be dead by the end of this trip.}

{And it's all my fault for coming on this ship. Without me, they'd have never seen a difference. Dammit. Dammit.}

John curls into his bed and faces the shock of what his bid to rid himself of the demon will truly cost.

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Forge's picture

The silence is deafening in St. John's room, while ironically every little thing has a sort of echo. Every little thing has a tiny little glow... like those cheap photo filters that magnify the shining areas of the picture to make them feel "ethereal" -and a bit blurry. John, if he focuses, can see the floating motes of dust slowly parading in front of his eyes.

And the silence. And the lack of hunger nor thirst... wait. This is new. This is like no insomnia John's ever had before. He doesn't even feel tired. He feels that if he were to close his eyes -for hours- he could never fall asleep. No, not even if he waited for days. And there's more: he feels his body could in fact wait for days...

Static, on the flat-screen TV. Just static, white-noise. Occasionally there are children voices singing a song. Or maybe it's just the static. Every now and then the image blink. It's an old local-TV show from the 70s, with cheap props on a stage. Children sing. Oh, it's Candle Cove! But then it goes back to static.

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Trapturtle's picture

Katsu Oshiro

Combat: 
N,SYA,HY
Magic: 
SY
Influence: 
SYB,SYB
Else: 
N,SYA

No, this isn't right.

{Am I still in the Blood Web? No, if I were, you wouldn't be in my head. No, this is something else. I need to figure out what's going on here.}

Why the hell did you do that to them?

{The captain is here, maybe this is some kind of execution. No, it's too messy. He doesn't seem to care, he probably ordered this.}

Just put the weapon of the ground, we can talk about this.

[Katsu keeps his eyes on Kuro, he knows that breaking focus for just a second could mean his death.]

{I know you're overwhelmed being newly dead, but I think I need your help here. Do you have any idea what's going on here?}

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I AmAndo's picture

Kaoru "Ash" Furuma

Combat: 
SY
Magic: 
SY,HY,--
Influence: 
NA,--
Else: 
EYB,HY

[Kaoru assesses the room for a moment as Katsu tells Kuro to put his weapon on the ground...why? He isn't being threatened. Kaoru tries to make eye contact with Kuro, silently telling him to hold fast and not make any moves. Kaoru knows Katsu is aware of his presence, but for some reason is not breaking eye contact with Kuro, keeping his gun pointed squarely at the man.]

{I must tread carefully...}

Katsu. [Not harshly, and calling him by his first name for the first time - without knowing the extent of the spirit he's latched on to, Kaoru isn't sure what honorific would make sense, especially considering it's not the right kind. Slowly, Kaoru takes steps to place himself beside Kuro.] It is you who should put his weapon away. Kuro would not harm you without a good reason or my order. We must speak of what has occurred, but we cannot as long as you behave so threateningly.

[Aside, to Kuro.] What happened? Where are Anderson and the rest of the bridge crew?

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Forge's picture

"They vanished, sir. [responds Kuro, and perhaps as an act of either defiance or excessive self-confidence, he takes his eyes away from Katsu to properly address his superior, the Captain] I think they have all entered into the Blood Web."

(Different organizations go in and out of the Shadowside in different ways: Fujin does it through sheer intensity, sometimes through drugs, sometimes through gorging on "Fear Tax", sometimes through pure adrenaline, or even rituals, such as good Kabuki play that the person feels raptured by. Whatever floats you boat, as long as it's emotionally intense. This explanation is necessary as background to why Furuma would find it strange that the bridge crew disappeared into the Blood Web. What intense thing could have possibly happened here that sent them all to the realm of the spirits?)

{I've always had good hunches... [says Alexis, in Katsu's mind] but everything feels so wrong, Katsu... so wrong...}

(Can Alexis' Hunch skill help her realize what is happening? Taking your "No, And" card -please roll d12 for refill)

{I think... I think it's Krevin. Saint John didn't kill Krevin after all... maybe Saint John was absorbed-in or something. Oh god. Because this is what Krevin wanted, Katsu! Krevin... he wanted to turn everyone aboard the ship into homicidal maniacs through their hierogamy spirits -oh my god this must mean we're probably at 50 south 100 west already! Oh God.... it's not unheard of, when you spend time in the shadowside sometimes it's a lot more time in the real world.... fuck, we're so late! The ship traveled all this time -I thought it'd be at least a week-we spent a week in that farm? It felt like just a night! Oh God, and in the meanwhile Krevin has taken over everyone with a spirit! Turned them all into maniacs! [she starts to cry softly] this means we've already failed...}

Katsu hears Alexis voice in his head, very very clear, almost as if she was in the room -for all he knows maybe this is how all Hierogamies are supposed to sound. But he also listens to Furuma... and a few things don't add up: the weapons, asking where is Anderson and the rest? They're right there! On the floor!

"I also tried radioing the Engines [continues Kuro] -no one is answering. No one from below the Riviera deck is answering, sir -I also tried radioing you. I didn't want to leave the Bridge entirely unmanned. I don't know what happened. We were about to crash on the Pedro Miguel locks, and next thing I know the ship is leaving the coast behind and the bridge crew is gone.... [Kuro adds, in a lower tone of voice] and my blade sings louder than ever, too."

Furuma knows the spirit Kuro carries takes the shape of a haunted blade that overlays whatever his real-life weapon is. The Cursed Blade of Yamaguchi, unlike Emi, is probably not sentient enough to have conversations with, but supposedly is always asking and pleading for more blood and more murder -it drove previous wielders to madness, though Kuro -the Butcher of Taipei- has held it for the longest time and seems to be doing just fine. What does it mean that it is now "louder than ever"? For that matter, Emi sounds clearer too, much more so than usual -almost as if she was in the room with them, instead of just inside Furuma's mind. Too many questions, too few answers.

"I never surrender my blade. [replies Kuro to Katsu, tersely]."

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Trapturtle's picture

Rolled 1d12. Result: 6 = 6.

Katsu Oshiro

Combat: 
N,SYA,HY
Magic: 
SY
Influence: 
SYB,SYB
Else: 
N,SYA

{If that were true, we would have been effected as well. And we haven't killed anyone, but I'm about to. Things could go very badly here, we need to tread carefully.}

[Slowly, Katsu lowers his weapon. He keeps it in hand, just pointed at the ground. He's still ready to draw and shoot if things escalate.]

Were you the one that ordered these two killed? Is this some kind of message? Who were they?

(I don't believe that Katsu actually met either of the men.)

[He glances at the captain, then to the bodies on the floor.]

And where are all the passengers?

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I AmAndo's picture

Kaoru "Ash" Furuma

Combat: 
SY
Magic: 
SY,HY,--
Influence: 
NA,--
Else: 
EYB,HY

[Now Kaoru is very confused, especially since Katsu seemed to glance around at nothing, but he was born for this kind of intrigue. He doesn't let it show on his face. He is calm, cool and smooth as ice.]

The only orders I have given were to save the lives of everyone who was still on board. The passengers are in their cabins, as safe as they can be on this ship that is still out of our control. We must regain control or find some way to shut down the engines.

[Seeing that Katsu is still wary of Kuro - and likely vice versa as well - Kaoru places a hand on Kuro's shoulder and speaks softly to him.] I will stay with Katsu here on the bridge. The others of the Blood are returning to their stations. Find Garou and have him go to the engine room and find a way to shut down the engines, manually if he has to. You find Ryujin, and convince him to regain control of the computer systems as quickly as possible.

[After Kuro leaves, Kaoru clasps his hands in front of him and maintains eye contact with Katsu.] Now, it is only the two of us. Put away your gun. There is no need for animosity. I have watched you since you boarded my ship - I was instructed to. Had I meant to harm you, believe me, we would not both be here right now. Tell me, what is troubling you in this room?

{Emi, keep prying at his spirit. I must know what it is - what kind of power he now wields. I don't even care if he knows you're trying to see inside. Let him feel the strength of the tigress.}

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Trapturtle's picture

Katsu Oshiro

Combat: 
N,SYA,HY
Magic: 
SY
Influence: 
SYB,SYB
Else: 
N,SYA

{The captains clothes. He was always so careful to keep them clean, but now he's walking around ankle deep in blood. He doesn't see it, does he? Whatever is happening here, it's not working the same for everyone. This place, these coordinates, it must effect people differently. Is he the one who is hallucinating or am I?}

There's two men, dead, right there.

[Katsu gestures, still not holstering his weapon.]

When I walked in, Kuro was butchering them, cutting them to pieces. There's blood everywhere. They're uniforms, one is a staff member, the other is older, he's dressed like you. Look, I need to get out of this room.

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Forge's picture

Kuro bows, and after one last long glance at Katsu, leaves the room to do exactly as he was told.

And the amazing part is that as soon as Kuro steps out.... he seems to carry the nightmare away with him. Katsu can see how literally the edges of the butcher's room seem to fade and vanish from the bridge, leaving only the clean, empty room behind as soon as Kuro moves away. It's as if Kuro moved inside a bubble that shows a different reality, and the bubble travels with him wherever he goes. By the time the feared lieutenant is at the elevator and going down, Katsu sees the bridge is actually quite empty -and clean of blood.

{Holy shit.... [says Alexis, as she notices the room fade into a cleaner version of itself] I... I don't know what this is. I would tell you we're still in the Shadowside because this is the sort of weird shit that happens there except... where is my body then? I don't know if this is the real world anymore.... or.. if they're merging or... what. It's following Kuro for some reason... why? [she doesn't say it, but Katsu can tell she is feeling immensely relieved, too, to see the nightmare abattoir scenario fade away finally -she's had enough of blood] Why does he carry nightmares around like that anyway, if he can't even see them himself? Or can he?}

There's a tiger approaching Katsu from behind... it's a big animal, hungry-looking, dark under the eyes, and it's stepping carefully and gracefully, -these big felines have a certain hunter aura about them, but Emi is not used to being seen. Only Furuma can normally see her, and only in his dreams at that, or when he closes his eyes and meditates -in his imagination. So how can Katsu see her now? She reacts to being seen... and backs off like a cat who's been sprinkled with water -complete with a hiss!

{He can see me, My Liege! [says Emi's voice, for Furuma's ears only] how can he see me?! At least he can't hear us.... at least he can't hear us... no....} [Furuma notices Emi seems just a little bit more distraught than usual -something easy to adjudicate to the entire weirdness everyone's been going through lately...]

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I AmAndo's picture

Kaoru "Ash" Furuma

Combat: 
SY
Magic: 
SY,HY,--
Influence: 
NA,--
Else: 
EYB,HY

(I'll try to follow a timeline here...)

[Kaoru raises an eyebrow] There are no dead bodies here. Only you and I. Kuro's blade was sheathed and cl-

(Emi hisses and speaks to him)

[Kaoru's sentence is chopped short as cleanly as if Kuro had come back in with his blade. His eyes widen and his breath catches in his throat. For a silent moment, he stares at Katsu with widened eyes. When he speaks, Kaoru is uncharacteristically at a loss for words and stumbles.]

How...what is this? Is this...

{Emi, could what the Kinsella did to make the ship pass through the lock have kept us in-between worlds like this?}

[Kaoru grabs for his binoculars - they would be here on the bridge - and does a scan all around the horizon through the windows...]

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Trapturtle's picture

Katsu Oshiro

Combat: 
N,SYA,HY
Magic: 
SY
Influence: 
SYB,SYB
Else: 
N,SYA

What is it? What do you see?

{Whatever just happened, it's connected to Kuro. I need to watch him. I suppose that means it wasn't real. That tiger probably isn't real either, that doesn't make it any less threatening.}

[Carefully, Katsu holsters his weapon. As much as every instinct in his body is telling him otherwise, he isn't in immediate danger. He's aware he's not in a healthy state of mind and he doesn't want to unintentionally hurt someone.]

I should start from the beginning. When the alarm was pulled, I was pushed overboard in the chaos. When I awoke, I was in the Blood Web. There was a demon torturing Alexis Borontsov. I freed her and she told me about a way back to the real world through a river. John St.John was there, he fought the demon, destroyed it I think. When I exited the Blood Web, Alexis was gone, but somehow she was still with me, in my head. The deck was empty, so I came here to report to you. When I got here I saw Kuro standing over two butchered bodies holding a bloody katana, and you saw the rest. Also, I don't suppose you see the tiger in the room?

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