The Carnival Dream

This is a placeholder! The description will be updated as soon as everyone submits their characters!

We'll use DESTINY rules, btw: we'll only have four traits: Combat, Magic, Influence and Everything Else, and these traits can be either Strong, Average or Weak. You get to choose which trait is Strong and which trait is Weak -the other two will be average. Optionally, you can be average in all four! Optionally, you can be Strong in two things and Weak in two others. Choices choices!

Feel free to make characters already in Hierogamy -or not! Feel free to make them already belong to a Shadowside organization -or not! Whatever you wish. If you choose yes on Hierogamy, you may pick three skills, and please describe your Hierogamy spirit as best you can because I will play him/her!

Go go! The dream leaves port soon!

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Forge's picture

We're gonna use DESTINY here.

Step 1: you're going to roll d212s for each of your traits. If you're Strong in a trait, you roll three d12. If you're Average you roll two, and if you're Weak you roll one.

I, as SH, will turn those rolls into cards according to this table, and then I will enter those cards in your character sheet, as in this example:

As you can see, Test Dog is Strong in Influence, because he has three cards there, but Weak in Else, because he only has one card there.

Cards are represented by three letters, for example:

  • EYA = Easy Yes And
  • NB = No But
  • SYB = Not-So-Easy Yes But
  • HY = Hard Yes
  • N = No

Etc.

Step 2: As SH, I will describe a challenge. I will make sure to mention the nature and difficulty of it, for instance "Combat, Hard".

At this point, you make the decision. You control your DESTINY. Look at your Combat cards. Do you have any HY in there? Either HYA, or HY, or HYB. If you do, and if you chose to use it, then feel free to post how you actually succeed at the challenge I described. Don't worry about the "Ands" and the "Buts"; I will take care of those in my next post, believe you-me :) This spends your card, of course.

And conversely it's possible you don't have any HY in Combat, or perhaps you want to save your HY card for later. This is fine of course, but it means you fail the trait check. Go ahead and describe how you fail, in your post. If you have a "NB" "No, But", I will take care of the "But" in my next post. Same for a "NA" "No And", god forbid.

Either way, please don't wait for me to rule your action. You already know if you succeeded or failed, depending on whether you used a Yes card or not. Go ahead and describe yourself how you succeed or how you fail! Go for it! Also, please do not edit your own cards. As SH, I chose when to take cards and when to give you automatic success without taking any cards from you. Leave all the card managing to me :) All you need to do is describe your action and include an OOC note specifying which card you're using. I take it from there. That's it!

Step 3: When you run out of cards for any given trait, I simply repeat step 1 for you -convenient!

The only differences between this and real life, is that 1) in real life the cards would spell out the words "NOT-SO-EASY, YES AND" for instance, which would be easier than "SYA", and 2) in real life I, as SH, wouldn't know what cards you're holding.

2) is the one that I lament the most, but hey.... we go to war with the army we've got, not the army we want :)

Alright, enough OOC! If there are any questions please PM me in reddit or email me. As soon as everyone's made a character we'll start this story!

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Forge's picture

Let's begin.

This is the Atrium of the Carnival Dream, where all of you are right now:

It is the largest ship owned by Carnival Cruise Line; a thousand feet long, fifteen decks high, three thousand souls aboard and it's not even full. It departs from Cape Canaveral, Florida in a few minutes.

But how did you end up here?

Different men have different reasons, some darker than others. Katsu, for instance, is here to kill somebody. He wasn't told why -that's for his Chimamire to know. He wasn't even given a picture -perhaps that is part of the test? Perhaps they want him to prove his ability to navigate in a foreign environment, gather his own clues, act silently and decisively, and respond not with questions like a fool, but with merely a single statement, the single statement Fujin masters appreciate more than any other: "It is done".

"Alexis Borontsov is one of the passengers. Must not disembark." is all Katsu was told. He has one week -that's how long the cruise ship will navigate around the Caribbean before returning to its home port. Perhaps it is a test of loyalty. His Master is to stay behind at Cape Canaveral -Katsu is to be alone. Perhaps this is the last trial he must pass before Fujin finally grants him the honor of carrying a spirit in his heart, and all the power that signifies.

John St. John is here for a different reason: Mike Michaels II, VP and founder of Machine Records insisted he just had to come. St. John's fame and income are such that he doesn't actually need the money, but Machine Records is an umbrella company that has deals with basically all the labels out there -a deal with Machine would expand the audience of the Temple of the Wasted Sun, John's band, to, well, basically the point where there'd be not much left out there to expand to anymore. Supposedly Michaels gave some help to Gwar and Gloria Morti, and has a reputation as an eccentric man who's nevertheless unopposed in the business and gets what he wants, one way or another. He doesn't even live in the mainland anymore. He outright purchased a giant suite in Cloud 9, the ship's decadent spa in the top deck, and just lives there now. Everyone who does business with him has to spend a week in the ship, to "get to know each other".

Then there's Cliffy, scion of the Coppola film dynasty, video store clerk and Jake and Jack In The Morning contest winner. It all begun during a discussion regarding the merits of sorting the store's video collection by color, on the shelves. It certainly was easy on the eyes, that wall to wall chromatic spectrum, although admittedly it required somewhat of a connoisseur to find a particular movie to rent -but what was Cliffy for if not to lend his cinematic knowledge to the public?! While passionately discussing how the paradigms of video store organization must be periodically fed with the blood of patriots and tyrants, Clifford decided to prove his credentials by calling the local radio morning-zoo show which was having a movie trivia contest at the moment -a contest they had been running for months without a winner. The prize was a cruise ship trip through the Caribbean aboard the Carnival Dream, and the challenge was to answer 20 rapid-fire movie trivia questions in the space of 2 minutes. The topic, chosen for Clifford at random, was Dolph Lundgren.

His mother Clara packed his bags. She was nervous to see him go and be by himself for the first time in his life, but the radio station made it absolutely clear they were not paying for another passenger. It was just Cliffy, and that was it. Just one week. What could possibly go wrong?

(And now the floor is yours, gentlemen. As usual I have no story, no plans, no nothing. I follow you; you lead me. I'm just here to tell you how the world reacts to your actions -you're the agent of change, you're the happening, you're the catalyst. I just tell you consequences, that's all :)

(I need each of you to please roll 8 d12 in your first post, this will determine your cards in the Combat, Magic, Influence and Else order. Best of luck, and let's have some fun!)

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DarkMoonINC's picture

Shuffle
Rolled 8d12. Result: 7, 5, 12, 11, 8, 3, 2, 6 = 54.

John Saint John

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

[John moves incognito. It's black sweatshirt on black pajama pants and no symbols or insignias. Eyes wrapped in wrap-around bugeye reflective glasses. They're industrial, pitch black, from the outside they look like goggles but they fit like glasses. All of his bags are in his room where he has enough equipment to record on the cruise. A full midi keyboard, a tower computer with light portable monitor, and his laptop of doom. On him he only has his purple black messenger bag across his back.]

[He's ordered a drink, Vodka and Coke. He's found a secluded dark booth where he can brood, sitting quietly, sipping his drink. Hands furiously scribble on one of many notebooks, jotting down hundreds of lines of streaming consciousness.]

[His hair is pulled in a ponytail, his fingernails painted black. One earbud is playing Icona Pop's I Love It in his ear. Without fancy outfits and makeup on and hair down and covered in his own blood, few would ever recognize him. Not that anyone outside the underground dark music vibe would even know who he was in the first place.]

Well. I hope Mike has a reason for me being here.

[John's debating on ordering food. He tries not to eat much, his skin and bone frame is a well managed beast. This IS suppose to be a vacation, he reminds himself. Perhaps a few slices of greasy pizza or a steak dinner might not be out of place. There's always the Gym, JOhn has to assume this place has a Gym.]

I wait in anticipation for what nightmares this ship will deliver through me as soon as I close my eyes tonight.

[Part of John is waiting for the ship to fill and leave shore before he braves himself enough to go up to Cloud 9. Knowing his luck, his "host" will find him before then - before his liquid courage kicks in.]

{Why am I antsy? I don't have much to loose or anything. More money than I'll ever use. I'm accomplished and can die happy knowing I've completed things to be proud of. All I seek is a way to stop and channel these nightmares and waking terrors. No, that's not true, my music already does that.}

{Why am I here then?} [His sips his drink and stops someone to see about Pizza.] {I just want to know where I went nine years ago. Why the nightmares have a backdoor into my head. Maybe this will lead me there. Besides, I've been too overworked anyways. This should be relaxing. No need for nerves.}

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Forge's picture

First roll determines which deck is St. John's quarters.
Rolled 1d8. Result: 4 = 4.
Vista Deck. This roll determines location; odds=interior, even=exterior, low=aft, high=port
Rolled 1d8. Result: 7 = 7.

(Let's have a few rolls)

Fate determined St. John would have an interior room all the way up in the Vista deck, right here:

Unfortunately it has no windows and is a little bit cramped:

The only thing fortunate about it is its proximity to the Lido deck, one flight up, with all of its bars. It is at the BlueIguana Tequila bar that he finally finds a quiet-enough corner, away from... well, not all, but at least most people.

So many happy families rolling about, still. What are they doing on an alcohol deck? It's too early for alcohol -in a few hours this place too will be inundated with a different kind of animal life, but for now it's tranquil enough, and John can see the horizon at both sides. One has the endless ocean, the other the bustling Cape Canaveral. Sunset. Night will soon come. Then he'll have to sleep in his little bed in an interior room with no windows.

The ship begins moving -it sounds its loud, loud horn. And there's a small boy staring at John St. John, from about 20 feet away.

He's about 10 years old, and would-you-look-at-that he wears a Temple of the Wasted Sun t-shirt. This is very weird, because as far as John knows nobody makes merch for children. It is not at all appropriate for children.... does it mean it's hand-made? Fan-made? He's holding the hand of his father, a non-descript-looking business man. And he's staring... trying to determine if John is... or isnt...?

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Trapturtle's picture

Rolled 8d12. Result: 12, 7, 12, 2, 2, 10, 2, 10 = 57.

Katsu Oshiro

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

Alexis Borontsov
{Poor woman. being marked for death by Funin's Blood isn't a fate I would wish on anyone. But unfortunately for her, this is how I get in. This is how I get my ghost.}

[The idea of having someone else in his head was terrifying to Katsu, but that was the only way to become the predator again. He wan't afraid of any man, but these people with spirits, they were something greater. They can bend the world to their will, they are faster, stronger.]

{For now I must focus on the task at hand. Find the target, avoid detection. The first step is to assess the situation.}

[Katsu spends the next few hours walking around the ship, familiarizing himself with the layout. He takes note of where the doors are, any security cameras, and any possible hiding spots in case he needs to avoid detection. During this time, he puts in his headphones and plays his English Language Learning program. He speaks the language fairly well, mostly picked up from watching American action movies, but he still has a heavy accent that makes him stand out. Something he's been trying to eliminate.]

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DarkMoonINC's picture

John Saint John

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

[John glances at the child, reaches into his bag and pulls out a laminate small sticker. He waves the sticker in the air, trying to catch the kid's attention. Points a finger to the logo on it.]

Fans come in all sizes.

[John smiles to the kid, offering him free merch.]

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AppendixG's picture

Rolled 8d12. Result: 5, 1, 2, 5, 3, 3, 4, 1 = 24.

Clifford "Cliffy" Coppola

Combat: 
EYB,HYA
Magic: 
NA,EYB
Influence: 
N
Else: 
N,NB,HYA

[Cliffy's mother had packed his suitcase and there was a sandwich inside. A napkin and a note that read: "My lovely boy, please be safe and remember that I love you." The zipper zips backwards and the mouth yawns open. Glinting, jagged metal teeth poised to chomp Cliffy's materials: six plaid button ups and one white one, six white t-shirts and one heather gray one, six pairs of khaki pants and one black pair, six Ziplock bags each containing one of the following: Rocky IV, The Punisher, Showdown in Little Tokyo, Army of One, The Peacekeeper and Red Scorpion and one double bagged copy of Universal Soldier, autographed.]

[The klaxon sounds. The ship prepares to ease itself into the ocean. Voices in the hallway. Cliffy imagines the steel cables mooring the ship being chomped and chewed apart by jagged metal teeth. A toy boat adrift in a bathtub unable to slow down. Voices in the hallway.]

[Cliffy imagines a stray cable cutting up the dance floor. Riding a Big Wheel through the ships winding, impossible hallways. Always. Sinks a stiffened fist into the suitcase's depths, ferreting beneath a coiled pile of socks. A muffled crumple hisses from beneath the cloth. Why did it have to be snakes? Pulls out his Spider, bagged. Voices in the hallway.]

[The klaxon sounding. A lightbulb from the bathroom flickers. Tink tink tink. The ship wavers, tilts. Voices in the hallway go whoooaaa. Cliffy stands and steadies himself on an end table.]

{There are lots of kinds of tables but this one you can't put your feet under. You can put your feet under a dining table. Go under a table if there's an earthquake. Safest place.}

[Voices. Tink tink tink. Ground shifts. Awhoooaga.]

[Cliffy retrieves the bagged video tapes from his suitcase and places them beneath the end table.]

(ooc: Oh god, look at my rolls, that's perfect.)

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Forge's picture

These rolls determine which deck are Katsu and Cliffy sleeping in, respectively.
Rolled 2d8. Result: 4, 8 = 12.
Katsu same as St. John - Vista. Cliffy is at the Main deck, near the bottom. Now, odds=exterior, even=interior, low=aft, high=port, same as before.
Rolled 2d8. Result: 6, 7 = 13.

(Let's roll again, a few housekeeping items)

(Btw, Cliffy, your rolls ARE perfect. Rolling a 1 translates to "Hard, Yes, And" -the game's strongest card, and you got two of those; one for combat -that's gonna be fun to watch- and one for Else! Of course, you also got four -count'em- four "No"s. So..... yay Cliffy! It's exactly what you had in mind, I think :)

Katsu moves through the ship like a casual predator. To anyone not paying attention he is just one more asian tourist with headphones on, looking around the ship as tourists do. It takes a discerning eye to actually notice he's not looking for pictures angles for facebook, but rather casing the entire joint -he's taking note of the staircases and the hallways, mostly the ever present and always discreet "backstage", where a small army of concierges, maids and assorted staff move about. This, he decides, is the way to move through the ship unseen. Not through the brightly lit and gaudy hallways meant for tourists and children, but through the service passages, the dark and sparsely labeled maze of dark and cramped submarine-like hallways that are meshed in between the entire structure, where busy men carry food on trays, and women brooms and mops, and harried-looking performers their musical equipment and toolboxes -very much like ants in an anthill, he can't help but think: each knowing its own way, and doing their job efficiently. It's a busy time when the ship is about to sail. It would be most advantageous to his mission if he could pass as staff, when the time comes...

Of course, no reconnaissance run is complete without a visit to secure the home base, and this is how Katsu finds himself peering down the hallway in the Vista deck, to where his room is. Surprise: there are visitors. Two men. Wearing staff uniforms. Standing right outside his door. He can tell nearly instantly that these aren't staff members; it's just from the way they operate: one assassin knows another. One man stands watch and provides cover while the other fiddles with the door lock, surely trying to pick it.

But why? How? How did they find him? He certainly didn't leave any clues, and it was his master who arranged the accomodations. Fake names, fake passports -the whole nine yards. The way Fujin operates slip-ups just don't happen. So who, and why, and how did they know? But perhaps these are questions to ponder later. In the right here and the right now, Katsu is standing at the end of the hallway, and he hasn't been seen yet, but he is seeing how two men are trying to pick his door's lock.

Meanwhile Cliffy, armed with his trusty camera -still in its bag-, has found a secure spot to stash his treasured tapes should the unthinkable happen. They will be safe under the end table:

He is in the Main Deck, below the lobby and closest to the waves, which he can see out the porthole windows, as they shift back and forth and the entire floating city that is the ship begins to move.

The TV does not have a VHS player attached to it. It's on, to some sort of master-menu channel that offers all kind of pay-per-view options, as well as assorted commercials for the various venues inside the ship: Spa 9 shows a clip of a woman laying face down on a massage table, nude except for the towel around her waist, while a filipino masseuse carefully places hot stones on her shoulder blades. Then there are commercials for the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar, including a live feed that shows some people milling about. In that live feed Cliffy sees John St. John talking to a small child -giving the child a sticker; not that Cliffy has any reason to care, of course.

Then the feed comes to a broadcast of the captain's bridge: a man in his 50s, with a big bushy beard and a bright giant smile. "It is my greatest pleasure and honor to welcome you all to the Carnival Dream, departing now for Sint Maarten Island..." and so and so forth. It is a mesmerizing message, if a little long.

Soon, the TV's video feed returns to commercials and live-feeds from all over the ship, and once again Cliffy sees John St. John at the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar -this time it looks like a man in a business suit is yelling at him, and threateningly waving his fists! The video feed cuts away quickly-

"HOW DARE YOU!!" yells the man in the business suit at St. John, while his small child, John can tell, feels like he wishes the earth would just open up and swallow him. "DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD I'VE TRIED TO KEEP LITTLE MARTIN OFF THIS CRAP?"

From this distance, John St. John can tell the t-shirt is totally hand-made -the kid is a true fan. The father is red with anger, however: "Where do you get off, you freak?! "Blood of the Virgins", isn't that your song? You know what it's like to have a 10 year old sing "feast, feast, feast on the blood of virgins" at his elementary school? The teachers were about to call Child Protective Services on me, but thank God they believed me I had done all I can to steer him away from your nonsense -he's TEN for Godsakes!"

At this point, the child is about to break in tears and is trying to pull his father away from St. John, tugging at the man's hand...

"Oh, I wanted to sue you but my lawyer said the "parent advisory" label you put on your disks absolves you of all culpability -a fucking sticker! A sticker, and I have to deal with this! With the poisoning of his mind!"

The angry man is making enough of a scene that several staff members are starting to approach now, John can see them walking in, with concerned faces. One speaks into a walkie-talking, discreetly.

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DarkMoonINC's picture

John Saint John

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

[John is away from the father now, cups his mouth, and talks loudly to the kid.]

You'll be free one day. Remember his words, they're the words of Tyranny.

[He sits down, puts things away, ignores the father, and pulls his laptop out. If he can pick up wifi he makes a connection to his blog and posts the incident in full detail, wondering if he ever actually wrote a song about virgin blood in the first place. He offers the company email to anyone who is a fan of his work but lives in fear of the oppressive parenting like that, as an open invitation to talk to him directly. Little Martin, where ever you are, we need to talk about directly.]

Asshole. [Muttered under angry breath.]

[John finishes the post with statement about how good parenting means not letting your children encounter things clearly marked "Warning: For Adults Only". Parenting also means accepting that once they've trespassed that boundary, good parenting means offering accepting advice over how they perceive the material, since yelling and screaming will only drive them deeper away from you into the arms of things they may not understand yet.]

{I wonder if Mike brought the two here just to see how I'd react. Am I being tested? Of all the people across the US to be here, right now, with me, what's the chance of my one underage fanboy on board? Why not. I can't fathom why he brought me here.}

[John Saint John stands up, packs his stuff, shoots one last sad smile to the child, and takes off to find his host and benefactor Mike Micheals. He cannot make eye contact with the father, and is visibly shaking the entire encounter.]

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AppendixG's picture

Clifford "Cliffy" Coppola

Combat: 
EYB,HYA
Magic: 
NA,EYB
Influence: 
N
Else: 
N,NB,HYA

[Water splits beneath the ship's bow and Cliffy looks upon it. He takes in the woosh and holler of the waves. Voices in the hallway fade; the lightbulb's chatter is silenced. A shaft of light enters in from the bedside window, centers on the ground beneath his feet. Cliffy becomes aware of the distant hum of engines beneath him: protected inside the scaled, gold-plated belly of this Dream and bonded to Mike the Captain whose pain is shared with the great, shuddering beast.]

[Cliffy exits the maritime halo, walks to the door and presses his ear against it.]

Cliffy, you have a lot to learn about the motion picture business.

[Cliffy grabs a glass from the bedside table, presses it against the door. All's quiet on the cistern's front. He wonders about calling his mom to tell her he's going to be on TV. He thinks about sharks and whales.]

[Water climbs the ship's sides. Sea foam clings to the bedside window. The shaft of light narrows and crawls diagonally across the carpet as the ship veers west. Cliffy imagines another ship above this ship beaming passengers into its sinewy heart and depositing them beside an icebox at a gas station in Snowflake, Arizona.]

[Cliffy remembers the woman held down by rocks, as if—like paper—she could float away if left unattended. He places his hand on the door's brass handle, half-turns. Cliffy remembers the Lestat from the TV.]

{I don't want to be a Louis dropped in water. If I see him I gotta tell him. I can't float away like paper.}

[Turns, pulls.]

[Trembling, he crosses the threshold into the world's chaos.]

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Trapturtle's picture

Katsu Oshiro

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

Well that's interesting.

{Why would they be after me? Someone must have been tipped off about my presence. But who? The best bet would be to ask nicely. Now I just need to get close enough to take them out without creating suspicion.}

[Katsu searches through is pockets. The only things he has on him are his Ipod, a disposable cell phone, his wallet and the map he was given upon boarding the ship. He had given up his weapons before boarding but he was assured there was a "care package" waiting for him in his room. Unfortunately it wouldn't be any help right now.]

[He unfolds the man, and holds it in front of his face, as if he was reading it. At a slow, casual stroll, he moves down the hallway towards the two men. When he gets close enough, he strikes. Knock the first one's head against the door and grab the one picking the lock from behind, choking him until he passes out. Fast and simple, just like his sensei taught him.]

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Forge's picture

St. John has the gut feeling his blog post will go viral. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't, but he has a good sense of where the minds of his followers are at, and he feels this one will strike close to home for most of them. Most of them are trying to escape tyranny in one way or another, just like poor little Martin. Martin will find the way, John is sure, to email or comment in the blog post. Things will get better. The angry man was taken away by staff, who very politely escorted him off the deck, with his son.

As he closes the laptop, St. John looks up and finds a man in a red bathrobe, three decks up, waving at him. Would you look at that: it's Mike Michaels the Second, in the flesh! Red hair, 45 years old, just a little bit rotund, muttonchops and beard, big smile. Irish, it seems. Apparently he saw the whole thing from his vantage point above. Getting to him is just a short elevator ride to Cloud 9.

"That was a grade-A nutjob, eh?" is Michael's greeting. Definitely an irish accent. Now, this is the first time John's ever laid eyes on the guy, so it's a little unnatural when Michael goes for the full-on hug as if they were childhood friends with years of not seeing each other. He grabs St. John by the elbows and beams him a huge big grin "is SO good to see you! Please, step right in.... step into my parlor, eh?"

Michael leads St. John into the bowels of Cloud 9 spa, a high-end luxury place that feels worthy of it's name, in the high seas. From this height, St. John can still see the dimming lights of the shore, slowly fading in the distant fog. Nothing but sea around them, now.

Michaels leads St. John to a huge lounge, and nods to the staff member by the door. The staff member, in return, very very politely whispers to the other patrons in the lounge, and they all smile and nod and leave.

Soon, the entire lounge is empty, for just Michaels and John.

"So... [says Michaels, apparently intent on going through the motions before getting down to business] how are you liking the trip so far? That was some grade-A nutjob a while ago, eh? Haha, what are the chances! What can I get ya, anything to drink? Have you tried a massage in this place?"

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

At first, Cliffy finds the hallway reminiscent of that of the Overlook Hotel. It is mostly empty, although there is the rumoring of voices from points indistinct. When the elevator doors open, Cliffy could almost picture a wave of blood washing out -but that's not what happens. Instead he sees a black guy wearing some sort of uniform.... like that of a mechanic, at an autoshop. Yes, just like the black guy who would speak to Donny and tell him about the Shining in that walk-in freezer room. The man seems kind, 50 years old perhaps, salt-and-pepper gray hair and a beard. He's holding a single wrench in one hand. Dripping a dark oily substance on the expensive carpet. No toolbox. Oil stains in the overalls.

"Well hello there, young man." [the mechanic says to Cliffy] "Is your first sea voyage eh? I can tell. How are you liking it so far?. This is a very special trip, you know. Very special."

The elevator starts moving up, back towards the Atrium floor, although Cliffy hasn't pressed a button yet.

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

It's quick. Taking out a single guy would have been easy, almost piece of cake with a weapon. But Katsu didn't have a weapon. Not so easy anymore. And there were two guys. And he had to do it quickly and silently. No one else should be alerted. Frankly, doing this was hard, but Katsu did it all the same: one quick spin on his heels -the man didn't see him coming because Katsu's hand was hiding behind the map. BONK -the man's skull bounced back from the metal door; instant lights-out. And his companion? He had time to look up and say "WHAT TH" before Katsu's arm was around him like a vicegrip that slowly started to constrict. "HHHH-..... Hhh... hhhhhhhhhhhh". And he's out.

And they had just succeeded at picking the lock too -all Katsu had to do was give it a little push, and the door opened. Katsu dragged in both unconscious bodies, not wanting to leave them out in the hallway for someone to discover.

That's when he noticed the strange boxes there. The synthesizer keyboard... the ... sound equipment? Music equipment?

Holy shit -this isn't his room! Discreetly, Katsu peeked out in the hallway to look at the number on the door and found that in this cursed cramped hallway, the two men were literally ONE feet away from his room, actually picking the door of the NEIGHBOR.

(That's right, Katsu and St. John are neighbors. Same deck, same interior room, same section near port -what are the chances? Fate wanted you guys to share a wall).

What did these men want with Katsu's neighbor? And what should Katsu do with their bodies?

(Btw Katsu, I made the assumption you were using your HY card for Combat since no other card would have succeeded; whenever you guys post your actions just say which card you're using, if you're using one. And if I guessed wrong no worries, we roll back the scene :)

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Trapturtle's picture

Katsu Oshiro

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

(I was planning on using the card. I probably should have made that clear, though I didn't know for sure what the difficulty would be. In the future I should probably be more clear.)

Dobe!

[Katsu can hear his teacher in his head, berating him for his mistake. The wrong room, how could he be so careless? Still, why are these men here? There has to be more going on here.]

{They might have absolutely nothing to do with my mission, but it wouldn't hurt to know who they are and why they're here.}

[He searches the men's pockets before taking anything of interest before checking the hallway to make sure he is unseen and dumping them both in the hallway. Ducking back into the room, the uses the phone to call the service desk.]

Hello, this is mister...

[Checking the luggage tags on the music equipment, he finds the name of the room's occupant.]

Saint John on the vista deck. I would like to file a complaint about two of your staff. They're passed out outside my room, I think they've been drinking.

Thank you, I trust you will take care of this matter.

[With that he carefully heads back to his room to examine what he took from the men. It's not a complete loss, at least they never got a good look at his face, he still has the element of surprise.]

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Forge's picture

On the lock-picker's body Katsu finds a Glock .45, loaded but with the safety on, a small fanny-pack, the guy's wallet and the fine lock-picking toolkit, of course. The other guy only had a wallet worth looking into.

The lady on the phone sounds genuinely mortified when speaking to Katsu -"We're so very sorry Mr. St. John; we will send someone immediately -this is absolutely not acceptable to Carnival standards; we hope you will accept our apology. Please let us know if we can make it up to you in any way possible -if you can think of something, or if you see anything else that's wrong, god forbid, please call this number directly -it goes directly to our Maitre d'."

It's good that Katsu relocated immediately to his own room right next door, because it's not long before he hears the hurried rustling of steps in the hallway outside, and someone with a deep and loud authority voice and a New Jersey accent saying "Whadda fuck? Who da fuck these two? Tommy? Fucking Tommy here? That piece of shit, haul his ass! We're gonna have a few goddamn words with Tommy ain't we? And who's the other guy?!"

"Wait, we gotta apologize to the guest, knock on his door."

Katsu hears the men knocking on St. John's door. Once. Twice. Three times.

"Probably pissed off, let it go. C'mon, let's drag these beauties to guts deck."

Katsu hears the sounds as they drag the bodies down the hallway...

Good. That business being taken care of, it's now time to examine the loot he grabbed but wisely didn't stop to analyze at the time:

According to the ID in his wallet, the lock-picker was a certain Adam O'Donnell, from Belfast, Ireland. Adam is the one with the Glock gun -it is a fine weapon, with a silencer installed, and hollow-point bullets, fully loaded. Serial number filed off... In the fanny-pack he had duct tape, syringes, vials of something unlabeled, a swiss army knife, disposable latex gloves, and most puzzling of all, a hair-net. Very interesting.

The lookout, according to his wallet, is Tommy Pirelli, and unlike Adam he has an actual Carnival Dream staff badge -apparently he works in maintenance and has access clearance A, B and C, whatever those letters mean. He's also loaded: a thousand US dollars in Benjamin Franklins, and a generic business card from Cloud 9 spa which simply reads "Adam O'Donnell".

Interesting stuff. Finally, taped to the inside of the cap of the toilet, Katsu finds his "care package" no doubt arranged by his Sensei: a small Beretta 92FS also with a silencer, and his favorite long knife -the Jade Dragon, a rambo-like blade with a pommel of green ivory in the shape of a traditional Japanese dragon. He's all set...

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-=[Live Forever]=-

DarkMoonINC's picture

John Saint John

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

[John follows the man, feeling less nervous when they escape the loud open busy spaces. He nods to the staff, removing his bugeye sunglasses here. He watches them leave, turns to his host, and relaxes completely.]

I dunno, Mike. I wouldn't say he's a nutjob. I am very specific that my music isn't appropriate for anyone. [Pauses for the joke to sit in, a small smirk.] Let alone young kids. He has a right to keep his kid away from my stuff, ya' know. Still. I chock it up to bad parenting. No need to get that angry over music.

I'll just have what you'd be having. Not much a drinker, lightweight. I don't know what to think of the trip- [Here his voice picks into girlish sing-song, the Carpenters.] We've only just beguuuuun...

[He laughs, finding something to sit on, removing his bag.] I mean, we just took off. You know? [John looks around the luxury.] Wow. Here I am stuck in a coat-room. [A laugh, he stretches, pulling his hairband loose so the strands fall across his shoulders.] You're in the imperial palace.

I never splurge on luxuries. Always so busy in my work. But my staff keep reminding me I NEED a vacation so- I'd love a massage.

But I really must know, what prompted all this. You and me've never really met, not directly, before today. Why me?

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AppendixG's picture

Clifford "Cliffy" Coppola

Combat: 
EYB,HYA
Magic: 
NA,EYB
Influence: 
N
Else: 
N,NB,HYA

Is this one go to the studio?

[Cliffy examines the floor. Crimson and black carpet, fringed with gold, in a geometric pattern. Hexagons inside hexagons bridged by elongated, parallel edges. Cliffy imagines the elevator bursting out of the Atrium's glass ceiling. Cutting slantways and backways above the ship's deck as the rotten-toothed passengers crane their necks to gape and gawk. The man in the overalls drips his chocolate in silence.]

Very special. I won the grand and glorious jackpot. Are you in the movies? I'm going to be in the movies when I find it. I'm from the video store and are you a policeman? I was one for Halloween who asked about a lucky punk. I am lucky, I won the grand and glorious.

[Cliffy trails off.]

[The ground moves up as the ship moves forward. The man in the overalls shifts his weight from one foot to the other. There are dings and clicks as the floors pass by. The man in the overalls makes a whistle as he breathes. A light like a runner moves towards the finish line.]

I'm going to the Blue Lagoon.

[The man in the overalls presses a button. A diode beneath the button's face goes zzt and illuminates.]

You mean the Blue Iguana? That's the Lido deck.

[The man's voice is flat. He's a cartoon of an old grey donkey. His hand moves up the elevator's wall and he rests a finger on a colorful map. Cliffy is looking at the dark stains on the man's shoes on the elevator's carpet in the ship's central hallway. He doesn't know what to say as the doors slide open.]

Yep, I'm the winner.

[The man in the overalls' lips curl into a vague smile but Cliffy sees the test pattern railing and smells the salty ocean and hears the birds and waves and conversations and he is somewhere else.]

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Forge's picture

John catches Mike peering at him like a zoologist would at a rare animal -but the eye contact lasts less than a second and soon the old rich irish man is back to his jovial self.

"Yes, well, it's what I do my son. It's what I got good at. Forgive me for calling you "son" btw; it's an old irish man thing. Could be worse. Could be 'laddie'!"

[He stands and goes over to the door, where he nods to someone out of sight, then smiles to John]

"Massages are awesome, you won't regret it. There are bathrobes by the bar over there -put one on, and don't worry about your clothes; someone will bring them to your room. People are so helpful here in this ship, you wouldn't imagi-" [suddenly the man's cellphone rings. He excuses himself with a finger gesture and takes the call..] "Yeah, yeah, give it to me. [he listens.... suddenly his face changes: bad news. Whatever the message was it threw him off balance -but just for a moment! Like a cat he lands on his feet and returns a well-practiced smile] "I understand. Try to find out more if you can; see if Marv will help you, then come tell me about it, okay? I'll handle it."

Mike puts down the phone and just shakes his head and gives a resigned chuckle "see, you gotta know who to trust in this business you know. It's a glamour thing, everyone wants glamour, it attracts all kinds of people."

"This is why I bring to the ship everyone I do business with. It shows good will, and people make good decisions when they have a whole week to themselves you know, to relax, away from lawyers and accountants and dentists and, clingy bandmates, etc, all sorts of distractions. Here in the ship you can be yourself. You can be whoever you want to be, and it's just a very nice way of meeting people and doing business you know, very relaxed, not like in the city. I want to get to know you, John."

[By now, Mike is once again giving his undivided attention to St. John, and St. John can feel the man's eyes are powerful in their own kind of way. Behind the jolly veneer, hides a very powerful will -a man who's used to take life by the horns, and all that. Also, John notices several golden necklaces hanging from Mike's neck. Occult stuff -a unicursal hexagram, runes and such.]

"So here's what I want to know: what do you want. What do you really want, John? Not just from me. Not just from Machine Records -I get the feeling growing the TotWS is a just a 'nice-to-have', am I right? There's something you care even more about. I want to know it, and maybe I can help you. Is what I do."

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-=[Live Forever]=-

Forge's picture

The elevator stops at the Vista deck, and the doors open.

In comes one tall man wearing the staff uniform, he's rubbing his neck and he seems very, very angry. He doesn't even look at neither Cliffy nor the mechanic, rather he jams his finger on the "Sun" deck button.

Except the elevator was set to go to the Lido deck first, and it starts to slow down. Exasperated, the man enters an override code, and the elevator no longer slows down, but rather keeps going up, past the Lido deck.

"Sorry kid, I'm in a bit of a rush. Here, I'll send it back to Lido after I get off, okay." [He didn't pronounce the question mark part of his sentence, if it was meant to be a question sentence. He's not in a good mood.]

"I'm not in the movies [replies the mechanic, with a jovial chuckle, as if the angry staff member wasn't even there] unless you have a camera? [The mechanic looks amused at the angry man in the staff uniform...] tell me, Cliffy [how did he know his name? Cliffy is sure his mom didn't put a badge on his shirt this time, nor a visual card, right?] which one do you like best? The Poseidon Adventure, or Titanic?"

Ding.

The doors open at the "Sun" deck, and in the distance Cliffy can see the same man he saw in the TV earlier, the man who was getting yelled at by another man in a suit. He is now inside a place called "Cloud 9" and looks more relaxed -Cliffy can see this through the windows. The man in the suit gets off and hurriedly heads there.

Ding dong.

The elevator doors begin to close -it will go back to the Lido deck now, from this height Cliffy can tell there's some sort of performance going on there -men in costumes, men with drums...

"By the way [adds the man in the staff uniform, stopping for a moment and turning] if you're under 21 you're not allowed to be by the bars at Lido unless you're with someone older, okay? You can hang around but they won't serve you drinks. Enjoy your trip."

Cliffy wasn't alone, of course. The mechanic was there with him the whole time. But it seems that doesn't count for the man in the staff uniform, who turns his back and heads for Cloud 9 again.

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-=[Live Forever]=-

I AmAndo's picture

Rolled 8d12. Result: 2, 11, 9, 5, 4, 8, 5, 12 = 56.

Kaoru "Ash" Furuma

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

[Captain Furuma's facial expression barely changed, but any of his longtime crew could sense the slight tension in his shoulders and realize that he was annoyed. They had barely departed, and already there was commotion. This simply would not do.]

Find out everything about the angry man who was shouting at Mr. St. John. {We may have to have...words later.} Make sure the other guests are no longer bothered.

[The last thing he needed was a big name like John St. John having a bad experience on his liner. Bushy-bearded face of the cruise line notwithstanding, the name of Ash Furuma could not be sullied by such bad press.]

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DarkMoonINC's picture

John Saint John

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

[John nods to the words, switching out of his black clothes and into a robe. If it's black good, otherwise he doesn't care much. His thin athletic body is pale like a lamplight, Addams Family skin texture, and yet there's a rigid texture of criss cross scars all over the parts that don't show beyond clothing. They trace a web across his chest and stomach, legs, arms. They are slight enough to be looked over, but here, in close quarters and good lighting, Mike can see them.]

Sure. Let's do this.

[John seems to have no shame in nudity as he changes. He returns, a soft smile. The robe is warm and different to his already strange sensibilities.]

I'm just a guy, Mike. I like making music. Soothes the savage beast. But if you've read my interviews, you'd have already pieced together what's really going on. You just want admittance. Alright.

[John is eyeing the necklaces the entire time.]

When I was a teenager I disappeared from the world. Public record. What's not discussed much is no one knows where I went, not even me. Total amnesia for a year of my life, like the memory was plucked out my skull. Here's the thing. It's like this back door opened in the back of my head. Terrible nightmares attack me when I sleep, and full blown terrors when I start daydreaming.

Only thing keeps them at bay is to record them into my music. When I work, I get in that zone, and the nightmares can't get me when I concentrate. Focus. Only when I drift, they grab my third eye and the rear occipital lobe and they riot in my brain. I get the feeling it relieves them when I put their terror into my music. So as long as I keep recording, the nightmares go through my music to thousands of others and they leave me alone.

Which is why I really debated allowing my music to grow. I have four unreleased albums, and about a dozen unreleased EPs. I actually slowed down my own release schedule to allow the bands on my label to hog the release glory. Because a part of me regrets giving people terror. The other part points out they beg for it. They flock in droves to buy music that fills them with body chills and paralysis.

I have a lot of nightmares, Mike. Earlier this year I had this strange dream that some viral video tape was killing people in the Bay, and I teamed up with a professor and some X Files agent and this college kid and we were travelling into nightmares themselves to stop it. Only it felt real, you know? Yet, I can't find any traces of the Professor, or the agent, or the kid, or the nightmare realm. I don't even remember what any of them were called, or what nightmare realms I went to.

It's like I'm dreaming about nightmares that never happened.

What I want, Mike? I want to control it. It's my dark passenger, to quote Dexter, and I've grown so comfortable with this open back door in my head that pours madness and terror- I don't know if I'd be complete without it. I just want a valve that turns it off so I can take breaks. You know?

[He breaks eye contact with the medallion and necklace.]

Like enjoy a vacation. Because I promise that the moment I go to sleep tonight, I'll be screaming and twisting in sweat stained sheets. Like every night for the last 7 year? 8 years? I've lost count.

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Forge's picture

"Absolutely, sir" [replies Kuro, one of Furuma's most trusted lieutenants. Kuro is a "Chimamire" -or "Blood-Stained"- which means he has sunk his katana deep into his own chest and allowed a clan spirit in. It was Furuma himself who chose the spirit: an old summer-omen full of wisdom and temperance, which he thought hot-blooded Kuro would do well to heed. Such was the advice of Emi at the time -Furuma's spirit partner- who has his ear at all times, particularly for all matters related to the Blood Web.]

"And there has been another incident, sir. [adds Kuro] It's the Ashigaru on a proving quest, entrusted to us by Master Tofune of the Kyoto House. Yes, Oshiro Katsu. He has attacked and harmed a member of the Kinsella. It was probably a case of mistaken identity -this same person, John St. John, is with King O'Morchoe right now, at court. He was the likely target -their rooms are side by side."

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

"I did indeed want to hear it from the horse's mouth -you know how tabloids tend to sensationalize..." [comments Mike, and John realizes Mike has taken notice of the scars in his ivory-white body.] "And I heard about the murders in that university campus. They were quite real, you know. Quite real -very unfortunate. The professor wrote quite a dissertation about it, too, if I remember correctly. Very expensive."

"Now listen, the ship's masseuse is fine by all means, but would you allow old Gwaelin here to ply her trade? [Mike introduces an old woman with long flowing white hair, someone who despite her years has conserved her poise and elegance -walking in the empty spa like royalty, and keeping her head up high. The years have been kind to her, and to her thin, relatively tall and frail figure.] Believe, she works miracles..."

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

The Kinsella. Furuma knows the name so well. Short for the Uí Ceinnselaig; that dusty irish dynasty line supposedly descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages himself, one of the "High Kings of Ireland" of old. If only he knew his descendants would wear the sign of the Thelema, he'd spin in his grave.

Furuma can still remember the discussions about whether or not to accept the whole lot of them in his territory, aboard his ship, one year ago. That whole manic court: the gaelic king in his robes, the white-haired court sorceress, the spoiled princess, that humorless enforcer knight and their goddamn buffoon. But he could not go against the wishes of the Sensei from House Hokkaido, who was convinced that keeping such prominent Thelema coterie so close would be a strategic move so wise as to mock that hated chinese Sun-Tzu. And so the lot of them had moved to the Cloud 9 suites and spa, at the top of the ship...

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

The massage is so very relaxing.

It's.... it is the best massage John has experienced in his entire life. The old woman, the way she moves her hands, the way she applies pressure and .. unties the muscle knots that have been tensed-up for so long....

St. John is face down on the massage table. He cannot see what Mike is doing, but he can hear the man's voice...

"Truth is, a lot of us carry nightmares inside, my friend. You think people flock to you to get things? See, have you considered that it is precisely the darkness, the violence, the anger of your music.... that allows them, the exorcise their own demons out? There are many forms of therapy my friend. I'm in the record business to help people find their emotions, express them out, shout them to the world, you see... bring out all the venom, squeeze out the rot from the wound."

By this point, St. John hears that the old woman is singing something, very softly, as she massages his back. Something .. that sounds angelic, that sounds... elvish, really, as the Gaelic language has often been described. And her hands.... oh god, her hands.... such.. relief. Such pleasure. Such sense of peace....

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

Of course, once the Kinsella moved in keeping tabs on them was much easier said than done. The whole Cloud 9 area is guarded with as many runes and hexagrams as to make a Fujin disciple catch on fire if he merely steps in. They re-routed the security cameras and installed their own network systems, and for a while Furuma had a scavenger working on decryption, but the guy was found dead on an alley in Sint Marteen at the next docking. The gods only know what sort of devilry the Thelemites conjure in their accursed rented space.

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

St. John suddenly feels the muscles of his back tense. His head is dizzy. Maybe the ship is moving? Maybe the ship is rolling. It's tilting... it's a bad trip, it's a bad dream... it's starting to kick in.

"Maybe the nightmares you carry within you, are just an invitation, my friend. Maybe they are a message, that you felt compelled to put into song, that our world desperately needs to hear. Let's Waste The Sun, eh?"

St. John can't see behind his back. He Can't See, he can't turn his neck far enough to witness the shadow monstrosity that starts to emerge from his back, from his flesh -but he can feel the pressure. He can feel the way his shoulder blades give birth to demonic wings of bone under the hands of Gwaelin, and how skeletal arms rise from his own limbs, like an dark alien life form slowly rising from it's slumber. The terror. He can't remember what it is, but this is what it felt like. It's the feelings he remembers. This is what it felt like for that whole year...

Gwaelin by now is singing at the top of her lungs, and her massaging has turned feral, violent, arrhythmical. His body is giving in. What kind of demon is he giving birth to, what kind of creature, what manner of beast is she coaxing out of his flesh and bones -this is when he notices the marks on the floor. Below the massage table. It's a pentagram, drawn in ash. The whole time he has been laying face down on top of a pentagram, while the sorceress does her exorcism on his back and chants, and this... this creature is coming out, and he just CAN'T turn back his head to see!

"I told you I would help you! We are going to help you, John St. John, but you have to repeat after me: Tá mé do mháistir! Tá tú mo daor!! You can chain it! It will obey your will! Say it! Tá mé do mháistir!! Tá tú mo daor!!"

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-=[Live Forever]=-

AppendixG's picture

Clifford "Cliffy" Coppola

Combat: 
EYB,HYA
Magic: 
NA,EYB
Influence: 
N
Else: 
N,NB,HYA

[The uniformed man leaves. A long, awkward silence stretches its bones and settles into the elevator's corner. For the first time since boarding, Cliffy hears nothing but his thoughts.]

{A Lestat and a policeman. There's a new vampire in Brooklyn and his name is Julius Jones. It's backwards, though. Kung fu. The ship is a Lestat. No! The ship is a big coffin. A priest makes the pool holy water. The policeman and the Lestat kung fu and the Lestat touches mouths with a big-haired woman. Pistons in the engine room.}

[Late but exhuberant, Cliffy responds.]

You can be in my movie and do a spin kick and shake your wrench. Do you know a big-haired woman?

[As if encouraged by the promise of company, sounds once again filter into the elevator's carriage. The hum of its descent mingles with the hum of the fluorescent lights. Merges. Dances with a big-haired woman, pistons in the engine room.]

[The carriage slows, dips, rises and then settles. A terminal ding rattles the interior of the elevator. Two steely doors glide open, reveal: a red-faced man and woman in jarring Hawaiian shirts, straw hats, sandals. Cliffy sees fireworks and lightning; birthday confetti and melting plastic beads. Wonders about the implications of rearranging them by color.]

[Pushing his way out of the elevator, he turns back to the man in the overalls.]

My name is Cliffy from the Main Deck and I have a camera.

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I AmAndo's picture

Kaoru "Ash" Furuma

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

Katsu... [Another long silent moment of thought as Ash called to mind the particulars of the questor. Kuro stood respectfully silent, awaiting the captain's next move.]

{Was it sloppiness? Panic? A moment of clouded judgment? A Chimamere must not fall prey to such things.}

Kuro, ensure the Kinsella is not permanently harmed. {The less hell I have to catch from those bastards, the better.} Do not approach Katsu yet. He has his supplies. Let him make another move.

[Kuro raises an eyebrow, as if to say "Mercy?". Ash shook his head dismissively]

His mistakes will be on his head, not mine. [Ash made a dismissive gesture and Kuro bowed and left. In a quieter voice, and in his native tongue, Ash mused.] Ah, Emi, how should I spin this to my gain? Surely, there is benefit to be had even in the face of this incident. The question is, where to look to find it?

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DarkMoonINC's picture

John Saint John

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

In order alongside the events:

[John looks at his own scars, nodding to himself.]

Self inflicted. Part of my art. So professor was real, huh? I wonder how I escaped that and have no memory. Strange. No matter.

[John lays down for the masseuse.]

Squeeze it out... pull it... venom... {I should be recording this, these are killer metal lyrics...}

[The muscles on his skinny back tense up, John has his eyes shut, gritting teeth. Release, he imagines, release. The trip comes on, almost like he's seen a thousand times before. Between daytime hallucinations, twilight nightmares, and drugs, John is ready for this.]

Waste...sun... means... people waste their lives away, people waste themselves. It's satire, a mirror of humanity's wastefulness...

[As it comes on, he realizes no one is ready for this. Whatever this is is nothing anyone can brace for.] No no no... [He's left to voiceless whispers, no no no, like someone who really wants it but has to voice the opposite. Not to say the experience isn't slightly sexual. His eyes bolt open, he's aware.]

{Fuck Fuck Fuck no no no why didn't he just ask-} PLEASE! I can't.. I... yes. Yes. YES! Fine, if that's what it'll be, then yes.

Tá mé do mháistir.. Tá tú mo daor... TA ME DO MAHAISTIR! TA TU MO DOAR! TAAA MEEEE DOOO MAAAHAAISTIIIR! TAAA TUUU MOOO DOOOAAAR! [John feels the release he's been waiting for, the final apex of his entire life.]

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Trapturtle's picture

Katsu Oshiro

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

{The lookout was likely not a hired gun, probably just someone Mr. O'Donnel paid off to get access. Not a bad idea, but it leaves loose ends.}

[While he waits for the commotion to die down outside his room, he readies his new gear. The knife is well balanced, perfect for the small, cramped halls of the ship. The pistol he left in his room, along with the items he confiscated from the attackers. Firearms were never really his style. Too loud, leaves behind too much evidence, in the best circumstances it's still messy.]

[The noise outside the room has calmed down now. It was safe to leave without drawing attention to himself.]

{Whatever is happening with O'Donnel and St.James, it's none of my business. I just need to focus on my mission. Eliminate Alexis Borontsov. The first step is recon. Know your enemy, hopefully without them getting to know me.}

[He goes down to the service desk. Hopefully it's not too busy since the boat just left the dock.]

Hello, I was supposed to meet a friend of mine, but I haven't seen her around here yet. Is there any way you could get me directions to her room? Her name is Alexis Borontsov.

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Forge's picture

"Very good, very good, Cliffy. My name is Magical Negro. Every movie has one. Did you like The Green Mile? Maybe it's a little old for you, but how about The Defiant Ones, with Sydney Poitier? Those were good movies, Cliffy. But I don't think you would like the Big Haired Woman if you met her..."

The elevator doors open to the Lido deck, and Cliffy observes how the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar, the Red Frog Rum Bar, and the Main Pool form some sort of triangle. In the center of that triangle there are Kabuki performers, in the middle of a play.

One man plays a strangely dissonant tune on the flute, with the occasional accompaniment of drums, which surge and wane like waves at unexpected times, while in the center, a single masked dancer goes through the motions -deliberate but precise and strong, at times graceful as he waves his fan like a leaf in the breeze, at times forceful as he plants his feet with arms akimbo and looks for all purposes as if he could never be moved again. But then he moves. His voice is loud and strangely singsong, a rollercoaster of pleading highs and defiant lows that sometimes joins with the musical instruments, but other times seems to fight against them. It's a beautiful form of art, between the sunset and the ocean.

"You see, Cliffy, in this ship there are mainly two colors [the Magical Negro kindly explains] over there, the Blue Iguanas, [he points] they want a big change in the world, you see, while over here, the Red Frogs, they want to keep things more or less the way they are. But in the center there is this big giant pool we call the Atlantic Ocean, and it might just not care what either group wants, you see? The ocean is very, very big. Many ships in it. Does that sound like the plot of a movie, Cliffy? Who do you want to win, the iguanas or the frogs? Who do you think should be the good guys and who should be the bad guys?"

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

Kuro bowed and disappeared to do precisely as Furuma had commanded.

The captain was left alone in the bridge, with the other officers. It is a juggling act to play the Blood Web games aboard the ship, because not everyone in the Carnival Dream is in on them. About forty Chimamires aboard respond to Furuma, through either of his two trusted lieutenants, Kuro and Garou. Kuro officially reports to the chain of command and can speak with Furuma's authority as his right-hand man, but Garou -nicknamed the Wolf- is undercover as a sushi chef in the kitchen -the gossip center of the ship-. Here in the bridge, Furuma can speak mostly freely, except when a few of the high-ranking officers are aboard. Furuma has been operating discreetly and quietly over the past few years to have them all replaced by Fujin loyals, one by one, and he'll get there eventually. That is, as long as outright war doesn't break out in the ship and the company isn't put in the awkward position of having to explain the unexplainable -it would be bad news if details of the secret war, the organizations, or any other aspect of the Blood Web were to leak out.

"St. John has access to the Kinsella, my liege [says Emi's voice inside Furuma's head -her tone vibrant. If he were to close his eyes, he could perceive her as a small tiger wrapped around his shoulders, gently whispering into his ear...] he is not like the others. He will not be discarded -the omens are strong with this one. Already he is at the center of many threads that weave the web, and has been there before. If you were to gain his loyalty, he could gain us an insider's advantage over the kinsella. We could secure his good will, through means kind or unkind..."

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

"There, go! Go!" John hears the voice of Mike, but Mike must be talking to someone else. It can't be Gwaelin; Gwaelin has collapsed on the floor beneath him, under the massage table, over her own pentagram. John hears footsteps, he feels something moving above him ... it writhes as if it had tentacles. It struggles to break free, and John feels something like the crawling of many little bugs on his back, spreading all over the place -then he hears the mechanical sound of a gun being loaded, then-

BLAM- BLAM!

"The handcuffs! Put the fucking handcuffs!"

"Fuck, I'm TRYING! FUCK!" [it's a second voice! Male, panicked!]

Something hisses, right above John's head. It sounds sickening, John can't imagine the sort of mucus and slobber that would make a breathing sound like that -a cat with asthma, a multi-limbed slimy monstrosity from the bottom of the sea- he sees glimpses of handcuffs made of bones with feathers-

BLAM!

"Put them-put-them-put-them!"

Chi-click!

"Aahhh"

John hears Mike exhale, relieved. He steps back, finally entering St. John's field of vision. He's red and sweating...

"We chained it....."

St. John's vision goes blurry.... darkness fills in from the edges like a growing vignette...

Black.

And when he opens his eyes again, he is in his own cramped little room, in the vista deck, on his bed. His body feels sore. The clock on the night stand reads 10:30 PM. There is a soft, murmuring silence, and his body craves some sleep...

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

"Alex? [The lady at the service desk seems puzzled for a moment] you mean our tech support girl? She's not a passenger -she works here; she's the one we call when we get stuck with the computers! [the desk girl smiles charmingly, under the bright lights of the atrium] You're her friend? I knew she wasn't as crabby as she seems! [she chortles] But sorry, passengers aren't allowed in the service areas. I'll send her a message -she can meet you somewhere after her shift ends? Maybe one the restaurants? Or the spa? [the girl smiles mischievously] What is your name? I'll send her an email."

Katsu can tell that as soon as he turns his back, the rumors of Alex having a boyfriend will spread all over the ship.

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I AmAndo's picture

Kaoru "Ash" Furuma

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

[Ash is still peering out the panoramic view of the ocean as the ship silently lumbers along its predefined route, pondering Emi's words, when one of the other Chimamires approaches - Ash senses the man's presence, his slightly nervous breathing...one of the younger, newly-blooded Fujin loyals. He's heard the tales, wonders if they're true, if those who displease Captain Furuma really do bleed from every pore, and if he's about to learn that truth first-hand.]

{Bad news, then...}

Speak.

[The young crewman reports gunfire in the Cloud 9 spa; news which Ash takes in stride, although anyone paying attention to his face would see his jaw muscles clench in the dying light of sunset.]

(In Japanese) It would appear Mr. St. John's awakening was not a peaceful one, Emi.

[Finally turning to face the young crewman for the first time] Send a messenger to Mr. Michaels, and let him know I am...displeased...and wish to speak to him in private in my quarters. [The crewman bows and departs]

{And I must also find a reason to greet Mr. St. John. Soon. This is an opportunity that is too enticing to pass up.}

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Trapturtle's picture

Katsu Oshiro

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

Yes that would be her.

{They want me to eliminate the IT worker? Why would the Fujin want her dead? There's probably something else to this. Maybe she's working for one of the organizations, scavengers probably.}

Look, between you and me, could you do me a favor? I haven't seen her in person for awhile and I was planning on surprising her, so could we keep this our little secret? Thank you, I appreciate it.

[Katsu knows the women is going to talk. Whether you're in Kyoto or Miami, people love to gossip. Luckily now he knows that getting his target alone is going to be easier than expected. All he has to do is break a computer and wait for her to come fix it.]

[For now, he plans to wait. He has all the time in the world. Food would be a good idea, he hasn't eaten yet today. More importantly, he might poke around the kitchen to see why the assassin was carrying a hairnet with him.]

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DarkMoonINC's picture

John Saint John

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

[John turns and sets his speakers up, placing his MP3 player of choice into it, and turning to one of his unreleased albums. The track is "Welcome the Madness King".]

welcome tangles and pustules and chittering teeth

I know you're in there now, more than ever. Me and you need to talk.

[And in a way, John Saint John's been casting magick for years. He's manipulated people's minds with binaural beats, making them feel and think what he wants. How would pentagrams and demon summoning be any different?]

welcome knives for teeth, welcome knives for teeth

I didn't know he was going to do that, friend. Maybe, if you talk with me, I might be able to loosen those restraints.

welcome spiders and centipedes crawling from eyes

I'm going to sleep now. But maybe you and I, maybe we can talk soon.

King of Nightmares, duke of lies, come, arise, come, arise

{When the hell did I even record this track? Have you been whispering me lyrics this whole time? Ha ha oh man.}

[John pops his prescription painkillers, and nestles into his bed. He is exhausted, and he just lets everything fall away from him. It's time for rest. The music picks up in a mostly instrumental album. The music pulls at the psych, anyone who hears it feels the morose awe of both a funeral progression and visiting royalty, as if they are in the presence of morbid greatness. It's one of his finest mind manipulating tracks yet.]

He arrives, on spider legs, dead bones, and hollow cold eyes, he arrives, he arrives...

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Forge's picture

Katsu's request to the front-desk lady was reasonable and well delivered, but will she honor it? Although he doesn't know her personally of course, Kathy is one of the biggest engines of gossip aboard the ship -her job at the Atrium's Front Desk allows her to be that way, and the fact that the same staff always crews the ship for months at a time and they all known one another makes it a ripe environment for this sort of entertainment. Will she actually spill the beans? Convincing her to keep the surprise a surprise was not so easy. (Your choice, Katsu: do you spend your SYA on this?)

Finding food, Katsu discovers, is a lot easier than getting into the kitchen. The latter will require at the very least a staff uniform, possibly a fake badge too, and maybe even bribes. The former, well, it's just a matter of heading to the Scarlett Aft Dining Room, in the Atlantic Deck right above the Atrium:

The food is simply delicious -Katsu discovers that whoever is cooking this food is an artisan, a professional, a master in the art of making things taste delicious.

Furthermore, he notices in a prominent corner of the room is the Captain's table, where the Captain himself dines with certain VIP guests, as is tradition in most cruise liners. What's interesting about this, is that the Captain is asian too, and judging from the air of authority that emanates from him, Katsu could easily imagine him as some sort of Omotedai in the clan -but of course, that'd be ridiculous -no way the Fujin's Blood would operate an entire ship, right? Or would they? Someone placed the Beretta under the toilet cap in his room, after all...

There are glances going back and forth across the table from the Captain and his men, towards a group of people sitting two tables away. Katsu doesn't know this family of course, but he can sense the tension between the two tables. The elderly woman with the long flowing white hair is perhaps the grandma, the rotund man with the smoking suit and the bright red beard and muttonchops must be the father, the bored teenager girl is the daughter and.... ooooh... look at that: it's Mr. Lockpicker himself, Adam O'Connel. Is he the the big brother in the clan? Probably. Very interesting.

Katsu is able to enjoy his meal in peace, unseen as far as he knows, and retire to his room for a good night of sleep, if that is what he chooses to do.

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

It is almost 11 PM, and Captain Furuma has finished the onerous P.R. duties required of his rank, such having dinner with the high-paying VIP guests. It was the same tired topics: the economy, the impasse at Congress, what is like to be a major liner captain, why these ships never encounter really bad weather, etc etc -made worse perhaps by the sight of the Kinsella two tables away. Adam, the Knight, seemed no worse for the wear, apparently. No permanent harm was done.

It is after all that nightly nonsense that Furuma gets to return to the Blood Web games, where his true skill and vocation lies, and he's able to be his real self -the master, the magician, the boss- in his own quarters at the very top of the ship, just below the bridge. The vast office is exquisitely decorated with all kinds of artifacts from 5th and 6th century Japan, -full samurai armors and plenty of swords, old feudal banners flanking the giant wall-sized windows behind his desk, framing that endless ocean -now lit under a bright full moon.

And to his right there is a small door leading to the "clean" room: a bare sound-proof 10 by 10 space with the floor, walls and ceiling always lined in easily removable plastic, and a convenient chute that runs directly through the ship and disposes of whatever its thrown in it directly into the bowels of the ocean -after getting properly diced by the Azimuth propellers by the way...

Three printed reports are sitting on his desk: 1) the full biography of a certain Mr. Horace Grendel, the lawyer from Boston who insulted St. John in front of his own son at the time the ship was departing, 2) a blow-by-blow account of Katsu's actions against the Kinsella Knight, Adam O'Connel, on the Vista Deck -Furuma can tell this document is rife with guesses and speculation since Katsu was very careful not to leave evidence behind -a good sign that the Ashigaru knows what the hell he's doing- but it includes an assumption of bribery on the part of Adam O'Connel towards a new-joiner staff member, Tommy Pirelli, and 3) another lengthy speculation diatribe on what could have happened at the Cloud 9 spa during the audience of St. John before King O'Morchoe. The leading theory seems to be "forced Hierogamy". Kuro, or someone who works for Kuro and wrote this report, believes the Kinsella were trying to stick a celtic demon into St. John as a means to control him, as they've been known to do to others before.

The knock on the door -two short bangs followed by a single loud one- indicates it's Kuro. This means Mike is here.

Indeed, in comes the self-proclaimed "King of Leinster", Michael O'Morchoe, head of Machine Records and a prominent Monarch in the Greater Thelema Society, at large.

"Hello, Mr. Landlord [is Mike's introduction]. I hear you may have gotten some noise complaints from our apartment [he smiles] but don't worry, you had this ... Kabuki thing your people do, it was going on at the time, what with the fans and the drums and all that weird vocalizing -I'm sure nobody thought the gunshots were gunshots. Drums, is all. Did anyone complain? No, right? So no worries then. Won't happen again old friend."

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

St. John's body demands rest. However many hours passed between his nightmarish massage session and his waking up, clearly were not enough. It's almost as if... as if something was compelling him to sleep.

Sleep, he needs. His eyes close.

He was so tired he even forgot to turn off the light. But it turns off by itself. Then it blinks. Then it turns on dim and RED.

There's someone sitting on the dresser, with his back leaning against the mirror. He wears a long black leather coat with strips of leather closing the chest -Nazi SS style, and a curious hat. Tall boots, to the knee. Black gloves, to the elbows -mad scientist style. A funny little hat. His legs are crossed, his hands repose on his knees. His face is shrouded in darkness, but his sharp red teeth manage to shine through. Sitting next to him, are broken handcuffs made of bones with a few feathers hanging by a thread.

"You REMEMBER now, John." he says, with that strange singsong voice that matches the movement of his lips, but sounds like it was coming from inside St. John's own chest.

"And when you wake UP, you will forget. That IS the tragedy, and the comedy, OF humanity. But is also its... absolution."

"You see, because if the LOT of you were able TO remember all the KINDS of sick shit you do in your dreams... boy, you'd carry a lot of GUILT, you FUNNY little things. So it was engineered, by the powers than be THAT you forget."

John notices the creature does seem to have tentacles coming out of the sleeves, over the gloves.

"There are four cycles of sleep IN a normal person. The fourth one, the one you will vaguely try to remember when you WAKE up, is the vanilla one, the decoy, the red herring to DEFLECT suspicion. But the other three, oh boy. The things you DO, oh, the things you doooo!"

Creepy crawlers escape the corner of the monster's grin, and into his jacket.

"And no one is better THAN you at this, John. So let's do it again. I want to see the Master at WORK. This is your dream. There are NO consequences. Not even guilt, ah! Nobody will get hurt, John -it's JUST a dream! What do YOU want to do? What do you WANT to do? What do you want to DO-WHAT... do you want to-the dream obeys you. [a spiny blade seems to spring out of the man's shoulder blade, as if excited, but then slowly sinks back in] Want to fly? FLY! Want to set the world on fire? BURN! Rarely you want to fuck, but WHEN you do, oh boy, is a thing to witness! So what's it going to be TONIGHT? Don't worry trying to explain to me boring shit from the daylight WORLD, -none of that matters, none will be remembered ALL... will be forgotten. You always forget your dreams in the morning. ALL OF YOU. Plus I know all too well, what Thelema wants ask me if I care: hinty-hint-HINT, the clue is in the etyMOlogy. So-forget-all-that-crap-and-just-tell-me.... what do you do, if you are literally capable of anything, and there are no fucking little consequences to slow you down? SsssssSSHOWW me. I want to know."

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