So! It has been one week since the Searchers made their play against the vampires of Vancouver and Sinon received the Antikythera Mask and its mechanism. What have you all been doing in the interim?
Elithora has been making headway in the backyard: Yanking weeds, attempting to tame the foliage, looking up different pots for plants.
Aurelia has been trying to fix the Hollow One, whom she has named Sabrina. She has managed to get her to clean up around the house.
Sinon made sure that the other members of the cabal got their ‘thank you’ gifts. Blackjack received a copy of /Commentaries on the Gallic War: Annotated by Aetas, Master of Time, Acanthus of the Adamantine Arrow/. Aurelia got a tablet mocked up as a poke-dex loaded with /Tobin’s Spirit Guide/. While Elithora received a cryptic invitation to the Sanctum on some night in the near future. Other than that, the Guardian has been busy networking—building up a new cell-based conspiracy of government workers, doctors, etc. Primarily sleepers, but sleepwalkers or mages if he finds ones amenable.
(TOM I THINK I AM MISSING BJ’S COMMENT HERE)
It’s a Monday evening in July, warm and muggy – one of those nights where air conditioning feels like the absolute, guilt-free, right thing to do. What are the Cabal up to at this moment?
Blackjack is currently in the libary, curled up in the comfortable chair grading the essays he assigned. Seems to go from mildly disgusted to completely distracted from moment to moment.
Aurelia is directing Sabrina around the sanctum, instructing her on cleaning it.
Elithora is just coming in from the backyard garden where she was transplanting young tomato plants. She’s set her gardening gloves down by the sink and is scrubbing her hands and face with pine tar soap.
Sinon is in the attic of the sanctum, watching a wall of twelve televisions on different channels on mute. Classical music—perhaps Mozart—is playing as he sips on a glass on red wine. On the televisions: A couple of news channels. A soap opera. A /Nightfall/ re-run. Hockey.
Has anyone noticed anything different about Sinon since he retrieved the mask? Or is this a gradual thing?
(Sinon) His eyes are blue now, rather than brown. One of the cabal may have noticed him smile at some point—which has not happened before (iirc). His voice seems different. Before it should have been something of a flat, near-staccato. Now it is more… smooth or fluid?
Blackjack sets down the papers in the chair, heading towards the kitchen. His right hand rubbing his left ring finger without thinking about it.
Elithora’s phone rings.
Elithora swipes the call with a dripping finger and pinches it between her jaw and shoulder as she dries her hands with a dish towel. “Hello?”
Goldman: “It’s Elithora, right? This is Goldman. We met in Seattle?”
There’s a pause. “Yes. Right, Goldman! This is she. What’s up?”
Goldman: “This is going to sound strange. I’m in a jam. There’s an opportunity, too, but this isn’t necessarily something that can be done by-the-book how a consilium would direct. I know we don’t know each other, and it’s weird for me to call you out of the blue like this, but you’ll understand soon why this is my best play.”
Blackjack pours himself some apple juice before walking back to the chair. Sitting in it and just staring out a window.
Goldman: “Are you comfortable with a little independent action? Do you know some others who would be? How close are you to your cabal?”
Elithora hangs up the towel and starts walking from the kitchen to the front room. “Near death experiences have a way of making one close. I think you could ask the Council about our whimsically independent actions so far. What’s the situation?”
Goldman: “This isn’t something to handle over the phone. I’ll be in Vancouver in an hour. Can we meet? Bring whoever you like, but only people you can trust, you know?”
Elithora: "… Right. I can do that. I know a bar only attended by our type, unless this needs to be further under the radar than that.
Goldman: “Honestly, only Sleepers would be better. Or somewhere lonely.”
“What did you … alright. I’ll text you an address. We’ll be there in an hour.” Elithora pockets her phone and yells for the avengers to assemble from wherever they are in the house.
Aurelia looks up at Eli. Sabrina follows her gaze. “What’s up in an hour?”
Elithora: “I’m not entirely sure. You remember the Seattle weekend job I mentioned? I just got a call from that BMW Mage she wants to meet up. Like, meet up way off the record.”
Sinon comes down the stairs, passes through the library and heads to the sitting room.
Goes into the sitting room. “How way off the record?”
“Well this is Cabal business then?” Aurelia nods towards Sinon as he enters.
Elithora: “No mages, maybe no sleepers around. I don’t know what to make of it and she didn’t want to get into any details. I wouldn’t assume an ambush, but … I would prefer you guys come with.”
Elithora: “She said to only bring people I trust. That’d be you.”
“Of course.” Sinon nods as he sits down.
BJ shifts a little, the smile fading from his face. You can see his game face coming on. “You know the point of an ambush is to happen in a place you would not assume one.”
Elithora: “That’s why we pick the place. Where can we meet her with no one snooping and we have the advantage?”
Sinon: “Do we want no one snooping or do we just want to blend?”
Elithora: “She only specified no mages but if we have to nuke someone, the less people around, the better. Right?”
Aurelia turns to Sabrina “Call me if anything happens here, Sabrina. You remember how to use the phone?”
Sabrina nods mechanically. Aurelia smiles reassuringly and pats her shoulder “Good!”
Sinon looks over to Aurelia. “Have you found a way to give her a soul?” He seems genuinely curious.
Goldman would like to be racing toward Vancouver, but Canadians take a much more reasonable approach to speed limits than Americans, so it feels like crawling. Her fingers drum idly on the central console as she tries unsuccessfully to lose herself in the music pumping out her car stereo.
Blackjack takes off his glasses and rubs them. “So a quiet place where we are not going to be observed. I know of one. Defensible if unpleasant.”
Aurelia bites her lip and looks back towards Sinon. “I’m trying to fix her. Her soul isn’t exactly missing just… like a watch if you take all the insides out is still a watch, right?”
Blackjack: “Small cabin. It is going to add some travel time. It is outside the city though. Good sight lines. Used to be owned by a very paranoid mage.” Looks to Sinon to see if he has any thoughts.
“I might know of a few places, but I can’t guarantee that the other Guardians will be completely unaware. Other than that, I might suggest someplace entirely public. Science World?” Sinon looks toward the others. “People are all too willing to ignore tourists.”
(Sinon has a successful knowledge check.) If she’s coming up from I5, there’s a Guardian safehouse in White Rock to the south. They use it for moving people across the border.
Blackjack nods to Sinon. “His area of expertise.”
Aurelia nods. “Someplace public would be good. I know a little restaurant near work that I can reserve a private table at. Also killer pad thai.”
Elithora shakes her head. “Let’s alert the Guardians after we know what’s up. She was inquiring about uh, independent actions.”
Elithora: “Cabin vs. Science World vs. Restaurant. I don’t know — which one sounds like we’re less likely to get swarmed by treachery?”
Sinon shrugs and looks to Elithora. “It’s your friend, so your call. As long as we are careful we can make public or private work.”
“I wonder what Sun Tzu would say.” Elithora contemplates for a long moment. “He’d be hungry for Pad Thai for right now. Let’s go. If she shows up with anyone else we get ready to flip out and Aurie has to find a new restaurant.”
The restaurant is a mundane Thai place downtown, private tables are upstairs. Decor is a bit kitschy.
While everyone gets ready, Eli texts the address to Goldman and re-tells the Seattle story to the Cabal with more focus on her impressions of Goldman. She didn’t really seem like a Seer mole or anything.
Blackjack has untucked his shirt and is carrying a pistol in holster in the small of his back. Has forces armor and prime armor up. Also, the distracted air he had earlier is gone. BJ is back to the BJ you all know and love.
Elithora counts while breathing, casting a covert Temportal Dodge on herself.
Sinon blends into the background as the cabal arrives at the restaurant. (He has cast incognito presence + interconnections and prepped a mental shield beforehand.)
Aurelia has prepped a mind shield because mind shields.
Placing a hand on the door of the restaurant, Goldman takes a deep breath. “Here we go,” she says to herself. She pushes open the door and walks in.
Scanning the restaurant for unruly black hair, she pauses for a moment, then heads upstairs.
The cabal are camped down in a corner booth with steaming plates of spicy noodles everywhere on the table.
Seeing the four waiting for her, she smiles at Eli and waves, then grabs a seat at the table
Wearing an expertly-tailored grey suit, she looks fresh from a business meeting. “Well, I’m Goldman. Nice to meet you all.”
Sinon sips at his tea, having somehow already finished his Pad Kee Mao. “J.P. Morgan Chase or Citi?” He thinks to himself as the newcomer enters.
Eli sets her fork down. “Goldman. Aurelia, Blackjack, Sinon. So what’s the cloak and dagger about?”
Blackjack is thinking, “New money.”
“I’ve found something. Something big. Thing is, I can’t make use of it. You’re a mystagogue. What would you say if I told you I found an unguarded Atheneum?”
Blackjack raises an eyebrow. Doesn’t say “bullshit”. Does think it.
Elithora peers at Goldman. “I’d say that would be of interest to a great many people. Dare I ask how you found such a thing?”
Sinon splits his attention. He listens to Goldman while watching the strands of Fate to make sure no one in the room is connected to the conversation. (One Mind, Two Thoughts: Everyone in the restaurant is clean.)
Aurelia frowns slightly.
Goldman: “Look, I know it sounds ridiculous. Bear with me for a moment. I can’t go to any of my contacts in Seattle with this. I can’t get into it myself, but you could. I’m not going to tell you where to find it, or anything that would reveal the details.” Goldman has to stifle a grin at the idea that this is the part of the story that’s ridiculous. “At least, not until we’ve worked something out.”
“There’s nobody left who could plausibly claim ownership. It may be known to a few other people. I can’t be sure. Something happened a week ago, and nobody could have known before then.”
(Aurelia successfully casts Telepathy on Goldman.)
Goldman’s thoughts: I still can’t believe they’re all dead. Even if this works, a year’s work down the drain. If they’re having trouble believing the Atheneum’s open, how are they going to react when I tell them the rest? Maybe wait to see if they bite and just play it straight with the Consilium if this doesn’t work out. Waste of an opportunity, but this is too serious to delay much longer.
Aurelia covers a gasp with her hand. “What happened to the Seattle Mysterium?”
Aurelia: “Oh, shit. You’re a mind mage?”
Aurelia just says yes, telepathically.
Elithora looks from Aurelia to Goldman. “Pardon me?”
Goldman: “Well, fuck. My compliments, most people don’t get through for some reason. Look, it’s not just the Mysterium, and I had nothing to do with it.”
Sinon gives Goldman a somewhat sympathetic look. “You’re recently awakened?”
Goldman’s shocked. Her smiles almost shy. “Well, ummm… yes, about a year now. How could you tell?” She looks herself over self-consciously.
Sinon smiles. “When you’ve played the game long enough, you recognize the newer players.”
Blackjack: “It is not just the Mysterium. I think perhaps you should explain what happened.” Taking off his glasses to polish them.
Goldman: “Okay, fine. Just keep in mind that the Atheneum’s open. There’s going to be a lot of attention paid to Seattle, I’m sure, but there’s a window before the news breaks. I was out of town for 2 weeks. I still do a lot of Sleeper work, and it involves some travel. I got back last Thursday, and by Friday I’d started to get concerned. I couldn’t raise any of my Awakened contacts.”
Elithora leans back and listens. Wheels are turning.
Aurelia looks very concerned.
Sinon begins mentally running through his list of contacts that might be able to help smuggle items/people across the border while listening to the Silver Ladder mage.
Goldman: “I didn’t know anybody personally, yet. So far Awakened life has been a little like a job for me. People I knew were more coworkers than friends. But Fresh was in his office. You remember Fresh?” This last to Elithora.
Goldman: “He was just slumped down in his chair. He’d been dead for three days. I know I’m supposed to be at home with the dead and all, but that’s not pleasant for anybody. I called the cops and got the hell out.”
Aurelia looks practically terrified. “The entire Seattle Consilium?”
Blackjack: “Were you able to contact anyone? Do you know what killed him?” His cabal mates probably can pick up on barely contained anger from him.
Goldman looks Aurelia in the eye, and says with a flat voice, “Every mage I’ve found in Seattle died Tuesday night.” To BJ, “No. And neither did he. I was raising ghosts for 2 days. I didn’t know that many people, but my contacts did. They all died during normal activities. What Sleepers would call ‘natural causes.’ I was only able to track down about a third of the consilium. Thirty-two mages.”
Aurelia starts crying.
Elithora: “So something — we don’t know what — blotted out the pentacle population of Seattle. They’re either dead or gone into the ether?”
Sinon looks at Goldman with genuine sympathy. “So. We need to ensure that the 32 are cared for, that the Athenaeum is secured and that whatever catastrophe hit Seattle does not spread.”
Goldman: “I’m no sociopath. I knew some of these people, and I’m not thrilled that they died. More than that, I’m a little fucking terrified that it will happen to me. I’m working on plans to get the hell out of Seattle for good. A good ninety percent of my contacts are dead or gone, and I’m feeling pretty vulnerable. I wasn’t kidding around about the Atheneum, but I’m not trying to pull a score off out of greed here. I need contacts and status.”
Aurelia tries to compose herself “We need to go there. We need to recover everything. Now. We can’t wait for whatever jackals are are going to find the Athenaeum. We need to tell Minerva.”
Goldman: “Look. I don’t know what the situation is in Vancouver, but the Awakened leadership of Seattle was nothing to be proud of. Something’s up, and taking orders from high-school cliques with high-school drama isn’t the way to deal with things.”
Aurelia gets out her phone, then thinks better of it. She begins chanting in high speech, words of understanding and communion.
Blackjack takes a deep breath and puts his anger under control. “You should do that. I will contact Traceur. See who we can spare to provide protection.”
Elithora looks to her teammates. “Even on a bad day the Seers aren’t that methodical. They would have slipped up somewhere. Banishers would have just set things on fire and left a bunch of Chick tracts.”
Elithora fishes her purse out of her phone. “Aurie’s right. We can’t leave their holdings unprotected and we also can’t walk straight into a trap.”
Sinon thinks Eli underestimates the Seers, but feels that a million of acts of hubris could have caused this.
Goldman rubs her temples. “You think this is a trap? Somebody has the power to kill every mage in Seattle and they’re going to lay a trap for us? What the hell would be the point?”
Blackjack: “To finish the job. To kill more Mages.” (Making an occult+int check to see if anything comes to mind about this: You can confidently say that a spell capable of doing this would be an Imperial spell.)
Elithora: “Well 32 other mages obviously stepped on some landmine so I image four … five more wouldn’t be too tough to manage.”
Goldman: “Why not just repeat whatever the hell they did in Seattle here? Tomorrow? hell, why not last Wednesday? If this is a fight, we’ve already lost.”
Goldman: “I’ll go to the consilium with this. Vancouver’s by far the nearest city with an Awakened community, and they need to be told. But I came to you because you seemed like maybe you had a healthy attitude when last we met. You didn’t buy into the standard bullshit, but you weren’t enraged by it either. I was hoping that you would be a little bit practical about this.”
Blackjack: “Because there may very well be limits for how often they can do it. It would be archmaster level magic. For all we know it could require more mana then Seattle generates daily.”
“Lost? No.” Sinon shakes his head. “We will secure the Athenaeum. We will find what caused this and make it pay. We will not tire, we will not falter, we will not fail.”
Goldman: “We can get into the Atheneum before anyone else. I don’t know what’s there, but it’s got to be worth something.” She stops, listening to Sinon. “See, this is what I’m saying. But it should be us.”
Blackjack: “How are you proposing we move an entire Atheneum with anything resembling speed?”
Goldman: “I don’t even know what’s in the thing! I assume some of it’s more important than the rest.”
Goldman: “Do you really think a consilium is the right way to deal with this? Meetings, and committees? Guardians against Libertines?”
Elithora: “I think that at least giving our society a chance to protect itself should be considered as possibly as worthwhile as us looting your city for you, if that’s what you’re asking.”
Goldman throws up her hands at Elithora’s comment.
Aurelia shakes her head. “No, it will be US. It is our Athenaeum, not yours, not the Guardians, not the Libertines. Care must be taken. I don’t know what is stored in the Seattle Athenaeum, but I can say not all of it will be safe for the uninitiated. We need the rest of the order.”
Goldman: “Alright, if you see it as looting, than the conversation’s over. You’re holding all the cards. If you want to let the big dogs call the shots, I can’t stop you. Not that I’d particularly want to try. God, I’m so tired.”
Blackjack looks to Aurelia. “If you do not mind, I am going to ask for Arrow assistance.”
Sinon looks over at Aurelia. “You realize that if you inform Minerva, I will have to contact Sacerdote, yes?”
Aurelia turns on Sinon, her face turning to rage. “You will do no such thing.”
Goldman: “Well, do me a favor and try to get me thrown into a cabal with people somewhat competent. This was my last card, and I’m not lookign forward to entering Mage life all over again. I’m going to get some food.”
She stands up as the cabal starts to argue.
Blackjack: “May I make a suggestion that may allow both of you to achive what you wish?”
Sinon looks at Blackjack.
Blackjack: “The Mysterium focuses on recovering the Athenaeum. The Arrow provides protection. The Guardians focus on finding out who did this and how.”
Sinon: “I can agree to this on one condition—that we inform them /after/ we are en-route.” Sinon shifts in his seat. “If I am given an order, I will be bound by oath to follow it but if we give Sacerdote limited options … Better to ask forgiveness then permission. I think we can all live with that. I just do not see how all of us could move an entire Athenaeum on our own. Not without risking losing the lot of it to vultures.” Shrugs at them.
Aurelia nods tautly. “Fine.”
Elithora pinches the bridge of her nose and then looks at Aurelia. “We have to tell Minerva something or she’ll have us flayed. We can tell her after we’re on the way and hope we don’t end up restacking magazines the rest of our lives.”
Goldman returns to the table with some spicy soup. She’s clearly frustrated but begins to eat silently.
Blackjack: “Sinon, does it help if you are not actually near by when Minevera is contacted?”
Sinon shakes his head. “You have to understand the political situation here. The balance between the Free Council & Mysterium and the Guardians & the Arrow is precarious at best. Any move we make could be interpreted as a choosing of sides. When we do choose to push the Consilium in one direction or the other it will need to be our choice. All of us.”
Sinon looks at each of the others in turn.
Aurelia holds her head. “Let’s not waste time. This is more important than politics. People are dying!”
“Which is why I recommended we go now and inform on the way!” Sinon stands up and begins heading toward the door.
Blackjack gets up and follows along. Needs to make a stop at his car.
“Ummmmm … do you guys want me along?” Goldman’s clearly not calm, but she’s making an effort.
“You’re the only one who knows where it is and you must have an interesting Fate to be alive right now through sheer happenstance. So yes.”
Fate: The waiter conveniently brings the check at precisely this moment so we can pay and leave in one dramatic swoop.
Eli sighs to Blackjack. “If I ever tell you in the future, ‘Hey, you won’t need to bring one of your giant elephant guns this time,’ just … don’t listen to me.”
“I would not listen anyway.” Blackjack is going to take his car.
Goldman’s sort of going with the flow at this point. Feels like she made her play and it didn’t take.
(A discussion of what cars are being taken ensues.)
Aurelia will keep BJ company and also smooth over whatever highly illegal shit he’s smuggling this time.
Elithora, Sinon, and Goldman ride in a second car.
The five of you pull away from the Thai restaurant and head west toward Highway 99. Highway 99 (which totes runs right by where the Sanctum is) goes SE along the coast until it becomes Interstate 5, which shoots straight down to Seattle.
Blackjack will deal with the border crossing like he deals with all of them. By casting invisibility on the contents of his trunk. Smuggling the easy way.
45 minutes after hitting the highway, you guys arrive at the US Border Crossing.
Has pulled over before hand and cast invisibility on the contents of his trunk. As your cars wait patiently in line (there’s about five or six ahead of you waiting to get through) you see two men in suits get into the frontmost car, which moves through the gate and into the US.
You, of course, recognize these two.
Sinon: “Pinkerton. Doolittle.”
And you’ve got fifteen minutes before it’s your turn through the checkpoint.
Elithora: “Are you kidding me.”
Aurelia is going to call someone: (she rolls a massive success) Yeah they’re now on a terror watchlist.