At the Edge of All Things
Raw Log - Group Sidequest 1
Group: 1 regular xp, 3 arcane xp
<jake2099>: A couple days before your current shenanigans, you three have been phoned by Sterling, the Mysterium provost and network expert.
<desc>: Uh oh
<jake2099>: He’s asked you all to meet him at a Starbucks downtown. He won’t say what it’s for, but says it’s important.
<desc>: Driving there, glancing at my cellphone email as I go, giving a ride to anyone in the group who might need one.
<thomamelas>: Also driving. Would freak out a Canadian cop if he was pulled over and they looked in the trunk.
<jake2099>: It’s not a world of darkness game if the contents of your trunk wouldn’t get you ten to twenty.
<thomamelas>: Won’t get ten to twenty, but armed standoff comes to mind.
<misteranthropy>: (that’s why you need mind…)
<desc>: I have zero mindless human bodies in my trunk for the record
<misteranthropy>: Sinon walks into the coffee shop in his normal ‘work’ attire with one exception—he has a laptop case strapped across his shoulder.
<misteranthropy>: (Sinon so had his car detailed after that)
<misteranthropy>: (just in case)
<thomamelas>: Finds a place to park. Had teaching duties today and is actually wearing a tweed jacket.
<jake2099>: When you arrive, you see Sterling perched in a corner booth, furiously tapping away at a netbook, a stack of latte cups next to him, the very picture of twitching nervousness. He visibly exhales when he sees you three.
<desc>: Elithora orders a cafe mocha with an extra shot to brace herself for Mysterium Dramedy.
<thomamelas>: Gets some coffee, does take his black.
<misteranthropy>: Sinon walks up to the barista. “Black Coffee. Large.”
<jake2099>: The baristas get your drinks efficiently. This is a corner store in a busy part of downtown so very high-volume, lots of people coming in and out. When they see that you’re with Sterling, a couple look visibly relieved. Obviously he’s been weirding them out.
<desc>: mysteriums m i rite
<jake2099>: ur rite
<jake2099>: i now GM liek scheck u no
<desc>: Elithora sits down across from Sterling and blows on her coffee. “What’ve you got, Sterling?”
<thomamelas>: Sits down with Sterling. “You should cut back on the coffee.”
<misteranthropy>: Sinon sits down after Blackjack and Elithora, looking over the assortment of cups.
<jake2099>: He grimaces. “Yeah…I’m…I’m starting to realize that now.” He massages his temples with two fingers. “I’m just…worried. I need a favor from your cabal. A personal favor. This is nothing to do with Minerva or the Order – it’s just me.”
<misteranthropy>: Sinon looks over at his companions for a second. “Of course. What kind of favor are we talking about?”
<thomamelas>: Gives him a raised eyebrow but doesn’t speak.
<jake2099>: He ejects a Memorex DVD and slides it across the table. “A friend of mine…a Sleeper…has vanished. Nobody’s seen her in a few days. She’s in a band and missed a big show the other night. Her friends called me because they thought I might know some computer mojo to find her. Pretty easy, right? I thought I’d have it in no time – even without magic.”
<jake2099>: “But no luck. Nothing. Her cell isn’t pinging any towers. I’ve tried some spells and they give me…weird results.”
<thomamelas>: “Weird results?”
<desc>: Elithora furrows her brow and sips without touching the DVD yet. Undefined weirds are dangerous.
<jake2099>: “Static. I’m an Acanthus, so I’ve tried, you know, looking into time and fate, and it’s like she just stopped existing last Thursday afternoon. But not died. Her soul isn’t out there somewhere in the Supernal or Twilight. She’s in her body. Her body is just gone.”
<desc>: “That … is weird.”
<desc>: “When did you last see her?”
<jake2099>: He blows air through pursed lips. "I…I’m not sure. A few weeks ago? We mostly kept in touch online. I’m trying to, you know, not get too involved with Sleepers. Plus I’m so busy all the time… Anyway, I did my homework. I managed to reconstruct some of her last movements before she vanished. That’s all on the DVD.
<jake2099>: “But I’m not, like, super detective guy. I know a couple of you have ‘a particular set of skills.’ Like in that movie. I was hoping maybe you could run down some of these leads, I guess?”
<thomamelas>: Looks to Sinon. “You are the spook…I think he means you.”
<misteranthropy>: Sinon nods. “I’m not exactly a detective, but we can take a discreet look into this.”
<desc>: Elithora sips and nods. “We’ll see what we can come up with.”
<desc>: Okay, we need to go back to wherever and pop this bad boy in a computer. We need to see the video evidence.
<jake2099>: He looks immensely relieved. You see the tension drain out of him like a balloon, as if you’d already cracked the case. “Ok, so, as far as I can tell, she showed up for work Thursday morning – she had a square job at this marketing firm here in downtown – then just vanished on her lunch break. Everyone figured she’d gotten sick or something.”
<jake2099>: “It wasn’t until she didn’t show up for the gig on Saturday night that anyone thought it was weird.”
<thomamelas>: “No one missed her on Friday?”
<jake2099>: “I guess her boss was pissed, but it’s not like he went out looking for her or anything.”
<desc>: “Sure. Normally I’d assume she met a cute guy, had a midlife crisis, and bummed off to Miami or something. But if you’ve checked and she’s just not on the radar at all … Hmm.”
<misteranthropy>: “Did she have any other friends you know of? any hobbies or peculiar interests?”
<jake2099>: "Burlesque and knitting, I guess? I dunno. Well – actually, there is one thing. So I got into her Facebook, right? And there are a few photos of her, just of her, but someone else is tagged in them. ‘Mark Tyson.’ But he’s not actually in the shot, the tag is just of a wall or whatever.
<jake2099>: “I looked him up and he worked at her firm. Her timeline says they dated six months ago. But I don’t remember her ever mentioning him to me.”
<jake2099>: “And he’s gone too. He was fired from her job for deliquency. His condo was foreclosed for nonpayment. Bills turned off, all that.”
<desc>: Elithora looks at her compatriots with raised eyebrows. This can’t be good.
<misteranthropy>: (if it were good, we wouldn’t be involved)
<thomamelas>: “So how do we find someone who has been erased?”
<jake2099>: “I dunno, man. It’s some Back to the Future shit.”
<jake2099>: He points to the DVD. “So that’s got her last few months worth of Facebook shit, her Instagram, her Twitter, driver’s license, and passwords for her work account.”
<desc>: Elithora picks up the DVD with two fingers and waggles it as if weighing the data. “We’ll sift through this and find her.”
<jake2099>: “Thanks. Thank you. Hey, uh, if you guys ever need a favor…” he shrugs. “I know what it’s like being a new cabal. Everyone wants you to clean up after their shit. I just…I really want my friend back. I’ll owe you, big.”
<desc>: Elithora smiles warmly. “Be careful; we might take you up on that.” She turns to her Unnamed Cabal-ites. “Gentlemen?”
<thomamelas>: “This is weird. Even by our standards.”
<misteranthropy>: Sinon stands up and begins moving away from the table. “Indeed. We may as well start with checking out the information he compiled.”
<jake2099>: Where do you guys want to begin?
<desc>: What is our go-to spot, anyway? We don’t really have one, I don’t think. If nothing else I have my tiny office filled with books and manila folders.
<thomamelas>: My guy is a mere grad student, so his office is out.
<misteranthropy>: sinon has a small hallow/sanctum, but i’m not sure he would bring that up given paranoia…
<desc>: tiny mysterium academic office go! address given, phones googlemapped, we can meet there shortly thereafter and pop the DVD into a computer set up for mage business.
<jake2099>: I was going to suggest, one thing you guys might want to consider xp expenditure on is a group sanctum. you can share dots to get it for cheap
<thomamelas>: Meets them there.
<jake2099>: Ok! Desc, describe the office for us
<desc>: It’s in an intentionally-unassuming Mysterium academic building. Elithora is technically titled “Assistant Savant” so she has a scrub office, although none of the offices are actually particularly opulent. It has room for her desk, three slightly beat-up chairs, and creaking Ikea bookshelves overloaded with books, photocopies, trinkets, and so on.
<jake2099>: How are you guys beginning?
<desc>: There are images on the wall made by thumbtacking several legal print pages together to collage up strange heraldric animals and crumpled paper coffee cups in the trashcan. The monitor has been rotated to the seats so everyone can see.
<desc>: Let’s pop the disc in and see what we’ve got. It sounds like he has a mix of random items in there. Personally I want to go straight to the footage he mentioned before we get into the minutiae of her driver’s license and such.
<thomamelas>: “So this is what I have to look forward to after completing my degree.” Nodding and looking around.
<misteranthropy>: Sinon enfers the office and sits down in one of the chairs. “Nice decor.” he says awkwardly as he looks up at the collage.
<jake2099>: The disc is in. You’ve got all her electronic records in one spot.
<jake2099>: You notice Sterling did some extra work like taking down the GPS coordinates of photos from their metadata (or magically finding it when this was not possible).
<thomamelas>: Maps. Is comfortable with those. Starts plotting the points on his GPS app.
<desc>: Elithora clicks around bringing up different files so we can build up a bigger map of her movements. “Anything jumping out at you?”
<thomamelas>: Does it? What should I roll for it?
<jake2099>: The woman’s name is Astrid Gardner, by the way. You realize just now that Sterling had never actually mentioned that.
<thomamelas>: Has kind of half written Sterling off as a stalker anyway.
<jake2099>: There are a couple hundred pictures, mostly of her lunches from around town with a few outliers like trips to rural BC.
<misteranthropy>: do any of the pictures have two meals, but only her in the shot?
<jake2099>: Good question! They do indeed.
<jake2099>: All from a period about six to five months ago.
<jake2099>: Plotted on a graph, the pictures form a vague circle around downtown, probably describing the radius she could drive to get food before having to come back to work.
<thomamelas>: “Mostly lunch pictures?” Frowns.
<misteranthropy>: what is the timeline on the rips out of town?
<jake2099>: They’re all from last summer and autumn. It doesn’t look like she’d left town since October.
<jake2099>: However, there is one exception to that circle. Right near the middle of that circle is an Instagrammed photo of her car – a Civic – sitting in a parking garage. Mark is tagged in it, but again, is not visible. However, his shadow IS.
<desc>: Elithora frowns and clicks around the shadow with a littla magnifying glass icon. “What the shit.”
<misteranthropy>: Sinon leans forward and puts on a pair of glasses. “Interesting.”
<thomamelas>: “Not invisibility. Not masking himself from the camera either.”
<jake2099>: The shadow runs across the side and trunk of her car. Obviously he was standing there, posing in front of it, maybe leaning on it, but while he is gone the discoloration is not.
<desc>: “Some sort of ward?”
<desc>: “Or was the douche just erased somehow?”
<thomamelas>: Can I make an occult check to see if I recall how vampires and cameras work?
<misteranthropy>: “Who would’ve tagged him in the photos if weren’t there originally?”
<critical>: thomamelas, 6d10h8: 0 [6d10h8=1,1,7,7,2,5]
<thomamelas>: Knows nothing about Vampires apparently.
<jake2099>: Generally speaking you know that vampires appear blurry in film/etc unless they make an effort to not be.
<thomamelas>: Frowning as he looks at the picture. Can I use Prime + Space to try to scry through the picture?
<jake2099>: Given the GPS location, which is near her work address, you think this parking garage must be where she kept her car during the day.
<jake2099>: Scrying is just space, and you totally can. Gimme a sec to dig out the sympathy chart
<thomamelas>: Well I want to see if I can see any magic traces so I need some prime for that, right?
<jake2099>: oh yes ok
<jake2099>: you want to Prime Vision, I get it. So this will be your Gnosis + the higher of Prime or Space, minus 4 dice for Known sympathy. But this can be done as an extended action so you can just keep rolling till it happens.
<critical>: thomamelas, 1d10h8: 0 [1d10h8=4]
<critical>: thomamelas, 1d10h8: 0 [1d10h8=7]
<critical>: thomamelas, 1d10h8: 1 [1d10h8=8]
<jake2099>: You focus on the picture for a long time – nearly an hour – as you grab its sympathy with your supernal senses and then feel it slip away again, like closing your fist on water. But then you have the slippery bastard, and the photo seems to grow and expand into a window.
<jake2099>: You can see that spot in that garage as it is right now. It’s unoccupied. Your perspective is a few feet off the ground – camera height – but you can rotate your “view” around as if navigating a shooter game. And as you do so, looking at the rows of cars, you see a trace of magic coming from the down ramp.
<jake2099>: Hey, Ell!
<ell>: I significantly overnapped
<ell>: I dreamed I woke up in the bath
<ell>: because someone was knocking on the door
<ell>: which caused me to go “no I’m still asleep”
<ell>: and wake up
<ell>: and check the door
<thomamelas>: Hey Ell.
<ell>: but the knock was in my dream
<misteranthropy>: waking up in the bath does not sound like fun—even in a dream.
<jake2099>: no worries, Ell. I figured you had probably had a hard crash. And I came prepared! You can join our sidestory already in progress
<thomamelas>: We’re helping a stalker find his lost stalkee and her disappearing boyfriend.
<misteranthropy>: ‘cos he asked and we had nothing better to do?
<jake2099>: why did I figure that? because you have been running on Monster and diet coke all week
<misteranthropy>: (oh, wrong why.)
<jake2099>: (I wasn’t sure either!)
<thomamelas>: Because it would be a seriously intresting puzzle to find out how to escape a stalking mage?
<desc>: You couldn’t make it to the starbucks to meet up with Sterling of the Mysterium so we texted you to meet us at my office if/when possible, where we’re going through a DVD of evidence. easy peasy.
<misteranthropy>: While Blackjack is undergoing his remote vision, Sinon mentally looks back through the images. “Any distinctive items of jewelry or other item that only show up after the photos with the ‘missing’ Mark Taylor?” he thinks to himself. (leveraging the trained memory merit)
<jake2099>: Aurelia awakens from a meditation session with Jude to find texts from Elithora awaiting her.
<thomamelas>: So that trace of magic I see, what kind is it?
<ell>: (why does waking up in the bath sound not-fun?)
<jake2099>: (I dunno about justin, but I could never fall asleep in a bath. I’m paranoid about drowning)
<misteranthropy>: (i would imagine if i fell asleep in the bath, that i would wake up with it being cold.)
<misteranthropy>: (that too)
<thomamelas>: (Mostly the cold. I hate waking up cold.)
<ell>: Aurelia texts back “Be there in a minute” then tells Jude and leaves to meet up with them
<jake2099>: Thom, it is Space magic, but there is something unwholesome about it – the magic is frayed-looking, more like a wound than the clean efficiency of a well-cast spell, and there’s a coppery taste in the back of your throat that reminds you of Paradox.
<thomamelas>: (Still here. Still pondering my next question.)
<thomamelas>: Coppery like blood?
<jake2099>: Like ozone after a rain. Ionized air
<jake2099>: that I-bit-on-a-penny taste.
<ell>: Aurelia shows up straight from her meditation in chucks, yoga pants, and an oversized University of Toronto sweatshirt.
<thomamelas>: Jacob, looking around the parking garage, are there any cameras?
<jake2099>: There are!
<jake2099>: It looks like they have good coverage.
<thomamelas>: Right, that’s all I have. I’ll let the others know when they catch up timewise.
<desc>: Elithora is writing down whatever goodies are coming from that vision and showing Aurelia some of the photos and a map of GPS coordinates everyone has cobbled together.
<jake2099>: (Ell, I will email the log to your aoi shino address)
<misteranthropy>: “Maybe we’re looking for a Paradox spirit? Or a particular place where a powerful Space magic went awry?”
<ell>: “Invisible boyfriend, huh… yeah I’ve had those…”
<desc>: “What if the boyfriend was awakened and did something stupid enough to eject button the both of them through sheer Paradox?”
<ell>: “Maybe the boyfriend didn’t exist. Was just a figment of her imagination.”
<misteranthropy>: “That doesn’t explain the shadow in the garage.”
<desc>: “Yeah, something was clearly right there and Sterling seemed convinced there was a boyfriend at some point.”
<desc>: Elithora goes back to the photo with a person’s shadow across a car and no person as if hoping to see something new, but frowns in uncertainty. “It’s weird. It would be one thing if someone Spaced themselves out physically but to be erased from records like this …”
<misteranthropy>: “Across time…”
<desc>: “Is it worth going to any of these locations? I could try to postcog the location.”
<thomamelas>: Dropping the photo.
<jake2099>: Ok! Any consensus on the next step?
<ell>: “Oh…” Aurelia looks down
<thomamelas>: “I think we can do better. The garage has cameras. They may have seen the monster who did this.”
<misteranthropy>: “Agreed. We might also be able to go into the office and see if anyone’s memories have been affected.”
<desc>: “Let’s do it.” Elithora clicks and drags the files from the DVD to her Dropbox for safekeeping.
<thomamelas>: “What ever did this…I do not think it was a mage who did this. The magic that did this…it is wrong. Foul.” Shaken a bit, his accent a bit sharper.
<ell>: Aurelia shrugs. “Okay, let’s go and prep for horrors from beyond.”
<jake2099>: You arrive some time later at the parking garage!
<thomamelas>: Takes out a long polished wooden box, like something that would hold a prized musical instrament, out of the trunk of his car. Looking at the others.
<jake2099>: It’s late afternoon now, like 4pm. Several cars are backed up headed outward but none are going in. It’s a standard downtown garage with a toll booth and a guard. You take your ticket and proceed inside.
<jake2099>: You’re able to find the exact spot with ease, thanks to THom’s scry.
<misteranthropy>: Sinon step
<misteranthropy>: ‘s out of the car and puts on his spirit goggles.
<critical>: MisterAnthropy, 4d10h8: 2 [4d10h8=8,9,2,4]
<ell>: Aurelia looks around mind-wise
<critical>: Ell, 5d10h8: 1 [5d10h8=3,5,9,4,6]
<thomamelas>: Looking for other traces of magic, anything I missed in the scry.
<critical>: thomamelas, 5d10h8: 1 [5d10h8=2,3,2,9,4]
<jake2099>: (1 sec, phone)
<misteranthropy>: (hey all, i need to head to bed earlier tonight due to an extra long day at work and my brain turning to mush—so someone send me the log or something…)
<desc>: (i’m loggin’)
<desc>: (jake i’m not saying you get a lot of booty calls, but)
<jake2099>: (It’s a call from a dude who wants me to be in his movie!)
<ell>: (Oh wow!(
<jake2099>: (I’m playing a sleazy porn director)
<ell>: (It’s a porn movie)
<ell>: (Do you know this guy?)
<jake2099>: (yeah, he’s a friend of mine)
<ell>: (so it wasn’t like salv getting cold called to do porn)
<ell>: (Have you never read that story?)
<jake2099>: We’ll say Sinon got called away on some Guardian business.
<desc>: Are we going for cam footage? I want to flex my postcog muscles for any traces, residues, crumbs, etc.
<jake2099>: He looks at a text on his phone, frowns, and looks up. “I apologize. I…something’s come up. I can’t make it to the garage, but I’ll be in touch soon.”
<jake2099>: And yeah, you guys are here, so what do you want to try?
<jake2099>: Thom, the traces of magic are headed down the parking garage ramp. Do you want to follow them down there?
<thomamelas>: Sure. I mean what is the worst that could happen?
<desc>: While BJ investigates, I’m going to lean against my car door with phone in my hand as if testing and postcog the hell out of this location. Aurelia, what are you thinking?
<desc>: er as if texting
<ell>: Aurelia is looking for minds in the area and making sure none of them are going to be in the way/in danger
<jake2099>: go for it, desc! Time plus gnosis!
<desc>: oh jakey jakey jakey. http://sheetgen.dalines.net/sheet/21368 Mysterium Rote: Gazing Through the Sands Dice Pool: Intelligence + Investigation + Time
<jake2099>: hahahaha awesome
<jake2099>: hit it!
<desc>: is a willpower point overkill or is it exactly what I should do right now? I kind of want a 12d pool.
<jake2099>: I think it’s a fine idea
<critical>: desc, 12d10h8: 4 [12d10h8=[10,5],7,6,9,6,7,4,8,5,3,8,6]
<desc>: (puts his feet up on his desk)
<desc>: Elithora is whispering a mix of Babylonian, old English, and Atlantean as her eyes unfocus. Suddenly she seems very far away as her body goes half-limp against her car.
<desc>: (I built this character to do one thing. She is now doing it. sunglasses)
<jake2099>: You cast your sight back to last Thursday. You see Astrid – a curvy medium-height brunette with vivid pink highlights worked in, wearing a black dress with pink polka dots. She’s holding the latest issue of an alternative weekly newspaper and is leaning up against her car carefully tearing out a coupon. Then she gets into the Civic and heads down the ramp.
<ell>: Aurelia keeps Eli from falling over
<jake2099>: Are you following the vision down the ramp?
<desc>: Yes, although I can probably only go so far with 0 Space dots.
<jake2099>: Oh I mean
<jake2099>: you can physically go down the ramp to keep up with what’s happening
<desc>: Oh I like this. Yes, in a syrupy daze mostly only possible thanks to Aurelia crutching alongside.
<desc>: If any cars are entering the lot I will definitely walk straight into them because they weren’t driving straight at me a week ago.
<ell>: Aurelia makes sure that doesn’t happen
<thomamelas>: Is ahead of the pair anyway since he went down the ramp.
<jake2099>: Aurelia keeps you out of the path of an oncoming car whirring up the ramp. You follow the vision from days ago and see Astrid miss the exit by the toll booth, then irritatedly reverse through a pair of concrete pillars. And then she’s gone.
<jake2099>: Thom, the space between those pillars is choking with Space magic. Just drowning in it. And in the taint of the Abyss.
<desc>: Elithora is staring at nothing, walking in one direction, stopping, taking two steps back, and then moving as if mimicking the car’s path before stopping abruptly with a small noise of surprise.
<thomamelas>: Frowning at it. Makes the stop hand signal to the pair. Looking at the magic, seeing if it’s warded, booby traped, etc.
<desc>: Elithora doesn’t see the gesture but is caught up in the vanishing of the car mid-vision and has stopped dead, trying to refocus herself on the present.
<jake2099>: Thom, it doesn’t have warding magic, but there is something very portaly about it.
<desc>: Elithora’s weak grip on Aurelia suddenly tightens as she draws in a breath and comes to. She looks around, confused for a moment.
<ell>: Aurelia looks at the other two, then puts on her space sight.
<critical>: Ell, 3d10h8: 0 [3d10h8=1,7,5]
<thomamelas>: Sets down the box on the ground carefully. Opening it up and taking out the sword and it’s belt along with the shotgun inside. “This portal screams wrongness. I am assuming neither of you will object to me going first?”
<ell>: “What’s so interesting here?”
<thomamelas>: “A portal. One that reeks of the Abyss.”
<ell>: go ahead
<desc>: Elithora shakes herself a little. “No objection, but you’re not going alone.”
<thomamelas>: “No, that would be foolish.” Begins a soft chant in the latin of the church as he preps his armor.
<critical>: thomamelas, 5d10h8: 4 [5d10h8=8,[10,4],8,2,8]
<thomamelas>: “Also not going in without letting someone know.” Sending a series of texts to Traceur, giving him a bit of a run down.
<jake2099>: (this is a good stopping point OR we can continue and wrap this up, shouldn’t be too long. if you guys don’t mind staying around another hour or so)
<desc>: (I am good for 1 hour if everyone else is)
<thomamelas>: (I don’t mind.)
<ell>: (no mind)
<jake2099>: (rad, ok)
<desc>: Elithora draws the last of her temporal fuzziness into a soft Temporal Dodge armor against whatever first comes against her once we step through.
<critical>: desc, 5d10h8: 1 [5d10h8=7,9,3,1,3]
<desc>: (oh well, 1 bonus die against whatever hits her first is better than 0)
<thomamelas>: Casting perfect timing on himself.
<critical>: thomamelas, 4d10h8: 0 [4d10h8=2,3,2,4]
<jake2099>: you guys have the worst luck
<jake2099>: it is amazing
<ell>: Aurelia goes ahead and casts a mind shield on herself
<critical>: Ell, 5d10h8: 2 [5d10h8=2,9,2,3,9]
<desc>: (2 successes? aurelia’s tanking)
<thomamelas>: (I had four.)
<desc>: (nevermind, both of you are bulletsponging)
<ell>: (mine doesn’t work against bullets. Well, mind bullets)
<jake2099>: (you get your arcana dots in defense, rather than successes)
<jake2099>: (so you’re all good to the tune of 3-4 dots or whatever)
<jake2099>: Ok, with spells cast (I assume you went somewhere out of the way to do this, like the stairwell) what is next?
<thomamelas>: Looks at the pair. “General plan. I am going first. You two follow. If you see something on the other side that is not me or an obvious victum, you magic it.”
<desc>: Elithora nods.
<thomamelas>: “And if you see an obvious victum, then be prepared to magic it anyway.” And with that, stepping into the portal that if he had any brains whatso ever he wouldn’t enter.
<desc>: (man if we had brains we’d be sleeper npcs minding our own business)
<ell>: Aurelia watches BJ go through the column “Oh that is some real 9 3/4 shit”
<desc>: I think the two of us are following through after a beat, ready for dramedy.
<jake2099>: BJ disappears, then you follow him through….
<jake2099>: and you’re in the parking garage.
<jake2099>: All of you are. All three of you. A couple of cars honk at you, apparently impatient at your loitering in the middle of the passthrough.
<thomamelas>: Is suprised they would be honking at the dude with a shotgun. I mean between them being Canadian and me having a shotgun, you think they might be more polite.
<desc>: Elithora breathes, “What the fuck?”
<thomamelas>: Moves out of the way. Looking for a nice alcove, place to get his bearings, etc.
<ell>: “I was expecting a hellscape or something…”
<thomamelas>: “So was I. Which leads to the question of…where are we. I think we can rule out Kansas.” In a very dry deadpan.
<jake2099>: The drivers don’t seem to notice your shotgun. Once you move out of the way, they rumble on by.
<desc>: Elithora reflexively pulls out her cellphone, taps the button, and slides her thumb.
<jake2099>: No service.
<ell>: Aurelia quickly tries to create a mental map of the area
<critical>: Ell, 3d10h8: 0 [3d10h8=5,3,4]
<desc>: translation, not in kansas
<desc>: Elithora asks out loud, “Where did she go?” while extending a hand as if trying to play a harp.
<thomamelas>: (Lack of cell service doesn’t rule out Kansas.)
<desc>: lookin’ for a fate string
<jake2099>: Thom, you can try a mental map too if you want.
<critical>: desc, 4d10h8: 2 [4d10h8=3,8,2,8]
<critical>: thomamelas, 3d10h8: 3 [3d10h8=[10,9],4,9]
<desc>: seeking the fate-strand of our missing girl and her missing driver
<jake2099>: Desc, her fate string follows the path taken by the cars.
<jake2099>: you extend your Space senses outwards, and it’s the weirdest thing.
<jake2099>: You’re on a path.
<jake2099>: A labyrinth. Not a maze, but a labyrinth with one way in and out.
<jake2099>: The appearance of the city around you is an illusion. Like a videogame level.
<jake2099>: There are invisible walls all around.
<jake2099>: And as you look, you see the traffic – all of it coming and going from the garage, up and down the street outside – they’re all following that path.
<jake2099>: If you were to get in a car and wait, you’d come right back here.
<desc>: Elithora looks at BJ, then at the path the cars are taking. “Are you shitting me?”
<ell>: “This is amazing”
<thomamelas>: Jacob, viewing the area with mage sight.
<thomamelas>: “Aurelia, I mean this in the friendliest way possible but you are a bit odd.”
<ell>: Aurelia pouts. “Hey!”
<desc>: Elithora chimes in, “He has a point,” while looking back and forth and trying to figure this place out.
<ell>: Aurelia sighs in a huffy way. “Yeah well… you’re odd.”
<jake2099>: Thom, your mage sight shows that this place is magical but in a very wrong way. The Abyssal taint is all around you now. You also have a strong suspicion that certain magics will no longer work right, or will operate differently due to the enclosed nature of this space.
<thomamelas>: “We are in a place tied to the Abyss that seems to be the kind of pointless hell that someone who has seen Office Space too many times might come up with and your first thought is that it’s amazing. And magic here may not work right.” Deciding to try something. Stepping out back into traffic.
<ell>: “It was a pun. Sorry.”
<jake2099>: Thom, the traffic stops again and the driver in front leans on his horn.
<thomamelas>: “Yes I know. Punning under stress conditions just is not right.” The driver. Human? Demon? Thing from the Abyss?
<jake2099>: The driver is made of the same stuff as everything else around here. A semblance of the real thing.
<jake2099>: Not a demon or like, sentient object, just a prop.
<desc>: “This place is creepy. She must have gone off into this braided stream of … traffic. Do you guys feel anything genuinely alive?”
<ell>: “Want to start dismantling this clockwork hell?”
<ell>: Aurelia extends out to detect minds
<critical>: Ell, 5d10h8: 1 [5d10h8=1,3,1,5,9]
<thomamelas>: “That seems like a plan.” Taking out the sword and making a flat tire if possible.
<jake2099>: Ell, there are several minds here at different points along the path. Maybe a dozen or so.
<ell>: “They aren’t all props. There’s maybe a dozen people trapped in here.”
<jake2099>: Thom, the driver curses and gets out. It’s a middle-aged man. He ignores you and your sword and begins angrily pulling out a jack as the people behind him honk.
<ell>: Aurelia looks for the nearest true mind. “We need to find them.”
<desc>: Elithora nods.
<thomamelas>: “Not sure we can permanately break this place. Lets get started. Which way?”
<jake2099>: good question. Which way are you going?
<desc>: Closest mind, maybe? I wasn’t able to pinpoint our target.
<jake2099>: Well having seen through the illusion, there’s basically Forward and Back.
<ell>: Yeah, whichever is closest.
<critical>: jake2099, 1d2: 1 [1d2=1]
<jake2099>: Forward it is!
<jake2099>: You begin heading down the path. It feels surprisingly easy. Cars weave past you without honking, lights turn green for you, etc.
<ell>: Are we actually making headway towards the mind or is it moving further away
<jake2099>: You are, in fact.
<jake2099>: So this labyrinth is LONG. Miles long. It simulates a lot of downtown Vancouver, weaving and criss-crossing itself (but still only going one way).
<jake2099>: And you notice that as you progress, traffic seems to thin. Cars turn left or right and go through the “walls,” quickly turning again so they go out of sight. A few new cars “respawn” to take their place, but as you walk, this happens less and less frequently.
<desc>: "This place is weird. What sadist builds a world for no purpose than to put people in traffic?
<jake2099>: Eventually you come to a crosswalk sign and notice with a jolt that instead of WALK it says PTNGH.
<jake2099>: A newspaper in a nearby kiosk is totally unreadable, covered in alien squiggles.
<jake2099>: The mind you sense is ahead a short ways, over a fence running between two row houses.
<desc>: Let’s push on to that mind.
<ell>: “The fuck… we need a faster way to get through this place.”
<jake2099>: You walk up to the fence. It’s covered in bizarre graffiti that looks a bit like crazypants versions of Atlantean runes.
<jake2099>: (it’s a wood fence, sorry, should have made that clear)
<thomamelas>: “It is just a nice brisk walk.” Looking at the fence. Is it real or an illusion?
<jake2099>: You hear a muttering voice on the other side. "Through the dilapidated slats you can see someone sitting on the other side, his back too you.
<jake2099>: It’s “real” in the sense that it is a physical object you have to get over or through, or magic out of your way.
<desc>: Did Aurie’s reading give a sense that this was a human brain? I just don’t want to say “hi” to a tentacled horror about to rape my mindgina.
<desc>: Or BJ can just say Hi first.
<ell>: Good question, did it?
<jake2099>: it is human! A bit worse for wear, though.
<desc>: Okay then, fair enough.
<jake2099>: The man turns around. He’s a homeless person in a stocking cap and several layers. “Wha…” He backs off, then approaches again, peering at you. “You’re….ha! Real! I ain’t even seen a fake one in must be months. Got to where I started to miss ’em!”
<thomamelas>: Does it look like there is an easy way to open up a whole in the fence?
<jake2099>: It’s pretty shitty, you could probably kick through it.
<ell>: “Who are you?”
<jake2099>: “Ted. Who’re you? Never seen a group before.”
<ell>: "We’re here investigating. How long you been trapped in here?
<jake2099>: He shrugs. “Months? Hard to tell. The stars ain’t right anymore. You’ll see once it’s night. Also there don’t really seem to be seasons. So it’s not all bad being stuck in the twilight zone.” He laughs and starts humming that theme song.
<jake2099>: “Doo dee do do doo de doo doo do dee do do….”
<thomamelas>: Looks at the group. “I am going to try to open up a hole in the fence.” Giving it a kick, half expecting it to explode when I do.
<thomamelas>: (Strength + ?)
<jake2099>: athletics or brawl if you have it
<jake2099>: or just straight strength if not
<critical>: thomamelas, 4d10h8: 1 [4d10h8=7,3,8,4]
<jake2099>: The boards snap off easily. Ted shrugs. “It’ll be back next time you make a circuit.”
<thomamelas>: “We are not making a circuit. We know the way out.”
<jake2099>: He laughs. “You sure about that?”
<desc>: Elithora asks the man, “You don’t know how long it’s been since you saw someone else you know was real?”
<desc>: She turns to Aurelia. “Do you feel any other minds?”
<jake2099>: Ted scratches his neck. “Well, it ain’t like I go out looking for folks. I run into them sometimes and a lot assume I’m just part of the nightmare. Or they’re in denial and just keep circling.”
<ell>: “Yeah, there are more in here.”
<jake2099>: “And once they make too many circuits, it’s like…they’re gone.”
<thomamelas>: “We are going to try to gather who we can. Then we go home. Are you coming with us?”
<ell>: “Well let’s hurry up if we’re going to find our missing person and her invisible boyfriend.”
<ell>: Aurelia starts moving forward, towards the next mind
<desc>: Elithora follows, beckoning to the man. “C’mon, it’ll be a barrel of monkeys.”
<jake2099>: He thinks for a while and then shrugs. “Eh. Was getting kind of sick of the food anyway.” He holds up a discarded chips wrapper. TNSLFJAS, it says.
<thomamelas>: Follows Auralia.
<jake2099>: You walk.
<jake2099>: And walk.
<jake2099>: Eventually, after a long interval trudging through downtown Vancouver as a ghost town, you run across a Civic, pulled onto the curb. The doors are open and a pair of feet are sticking out the side.
<jake2099>: “Heh heh, wouljda look at that! Smart move to keep the car, although they run out of gas soon enough.”
<thomamelas>: Raises the shotgun up, almost to the ready position as he moves to see the owner of the feet.
<desc>: Elithora moves to take a look in a broad arc alongside the car, a bit back from BJ.
<jake2099>: Hearing Ted’s cackle, the bare feet twitch and then Astrid sits up, looking dazed. “AAAAA!” she screams upon seeing BJ’s shotgun.
<ell>: “Put that thing down would you BJ? Jesus.”
<jake2099>: The girl, looking haggard and underfed since Elithora last “saw” her, has ducked behind her seat. “What the FUCK! Who are you people?!”
<thomamelas>: Lowers the gun. “I apologize. Usually I try to make a more gallant impression but this is a bit of a special situation. And we are hear to try to take you home. A friend sent us.”
<ell>: “Your car still run?”
<jake2099>: She slowly crawls out of the front seat, wobbling and unsteady. “A friend? And yeah, it still runs…for all the good that does.”
<ell>: “Mind if I drive?”
<thomamelas>: “Sterling sent us.”
<jake2099>: She looks confused. “Who?”
<jake2099>: (it’s his Shadow name)
<thomamelas>: “A friend. Lets leave it at that.” Gets into the car.
<desc>: Elithora’s waves a hand dismissively as somewhat cavalier attitude towards sleepers comes through despite herself. “If we get these two out of here we can tip off the appropriate people to the portal and fish out the rest of the minds.”
<thomamelas>: “No. We are here and if we delay then they might not be when we come back.”
<ell>: “Eli, hush. You two are freaking even me out. We’re getting you out of here. This pocket hell. We know an exit. Or at least we can probably rip a new one. May I drive?”
<jake2099>: Ted laughs. “If we get out! Well, you got the right idea anyway. Some of them ain’t as well-adjusted as me.” He spits.
<desc>: Elithora flips a seat forward to climb in back. “Go ahead and drive.”
<jake2099>: The five of you pile into the car and set off. What is the plan? Go around and pick up everyone you can?
<ell>: And hopefully get a second car
<jake2099>: A few miles down the path – although really you’ve just made several turns, “assisted” by road closed signs, police cruisers and sawhorses blocking off various exits – you do encounter another car, an SUV, apparently abandoned. It smells foul and is out of gas, but if one of you has a way to remedy that….?
<desc>: We don’t have a hose to try to siphon out gas, and I’d feel doubtful about taking gas out of the civic. None of us have Matter conjuration, I suppose. Anything inside of the SUV? Signs of who was inside?
<jake2099>: That part is easy. Astrid recognizes the car. “Oh…that’s…that car is familiar. It’s…why can’t I remember his name?”
<jake2099>: She bites her lip, looking distraught.
<ell>: “Your boyfriend? Yeah, everyone seems to have that problem. It might be too late for him…”
<thomamelas>: Resists the urge to face palm. “Let’s keep going.”
<thomamelas>: (Also resisting the urge to face palm in Chat)
<jake2099>: You keep going. Astrid is kind of just numbly going along with this. She’s clearly pretty much on the edge of bugfuck at this point. Ted has already crossed over and finds your grim determination HILARIOUS, like a downmarket surrealitycheck.
<desc>: Elithora is watching the fake cars for any anomalies or signs of reality.
<desc>: (a downmarket sc is a bracing thought)
<jake2099>: One by one, you find a few other survivors. A couple dazedly join you – the man, Mark, who is utterly listless, chugging back can after can of something that looks like beer but foams black and is labeled in squiggly, tentacly letters.
<ell>: Aurelia is trying to be as fast as she can
<jake2099>: Astrid desperately tries to get him to come with you and he only agrees once a couple of you physically pick him up and pile him into the Civic.
<jake2099>: You’re at the point where people are sitting on other people’s laps.
<desc>: Elithora looks at the passengers with agitation. The look on her face broadcasts, “Fuck this place.”
<jake2099>: And then, a little while later, you are back in the parking garage. The car almost seems to steer itself, in through the (empty) toll gate, up the ramp, up the other ramp, up the third ramp, then around a pillar, down the ramp, down the second ramp, down the third ramp, back toward the toll gate…
<thomamelas>: “We should walk from here. I would hate for the car to get ideas.”
<jake2099>: The car begins accelerating as you say this.
<thomamelas>: Attempting to open the door on my side.
<jake2099>: It opens, reluctantly.
<ell>: pull up the ebrake
<jake2099>: It screeches to a halt!
<ell>: Aurelia is going to maintain control of this vehicle, damn it
<thomamelas>: Gets out and starts getting others out too, isn’t going to be gentle about this either.
<ell>: “Bad Civic! no!”
<jake2099>: Ted’s face hits the seat in front of him. “Man, I ain’t no backseat driver, but….”
<ell>: “This thing was starting to drive itself. We need to get out.”
<desc>: Elithora is pushing impatiently on the seat and nudging the other passengers squished together to get out. Now.
<ell>: Aurelia checks for minds locally.
<jake2099>: Astrid steps out. “I just…wait, this is by my work.”
<jake2099>: There are other minds, Ell, but they’re distant – deeper in.
<jake2099>: You think this place is like a corkscrew.
<jake2099>: Every circuit takes you further “down.”
<ell>: “Oh god there’s more of them.”
<ell>: "Deeper in
<desc>: Elithora replies curtly to Astrid, “No, it’s not. It’s fake. It just looks like it. We’re completely untied in here.”
<jake2099>: The toll booth is to your left, back onto the path. The way you came in is on the right.
<jake2099>: Thom, you can detect the Space magic. The portal is still there, between two pillars.
<ell>: “Who here has seen Harry Potter?”
<desc>: “… What?”
<jake2099>: Mark begins dazedly shuffling toward the toll booth. Astrid starts following him, calling his name, but she keeps moving forward too.
<thomamelas>: “Aur and Ell, you two have point. Same plan as our entrance. I have the rear. Everyone else in the middle.”
<ell>: “Everybody through the pillars.” Aurelia will try and plant powerful suggestions in anyone trying to go deeper
<critical>: Ell, 5d10h8: 2 [5d10h8=5,8,2,9,7]
<ell>: “There’s more BJ, more people trapped in here.”
<jake2099>: Astrid turns around. “No, wait, what am I doing? We need to stick together. Mark…!” He keeps shuffling, taking one heavy step after another, then pauses.
<ell>: am I getting any mental resistance from Mark?
<jake2099>: His mind is all balled up at this point. He’s right on the edge.
<thomamelas>: “We will get them but we are here and lets get these people out.”
<ell>: “I’m not going back through! Not yet.”
<jake2099>: Astrid pleads. “Jesus, Mark, come on, please!” He wavers, then steps heavily back toward the group.
<desc>: Elithora strides alongside Mark and starts pushing him back, not particularly gently. Her level of tolerance for this place is clearly hitting its nadir.
<thomamelas>: "Alright. I will take point. You two keep anything with teneticals from following.
<desc>: “C’mon champ. You’re coming with us.”
<thomamelas>: Stepping through the portal.
<jake2099>: A car honks. “What the fuck, bro! I nearly ran you over! Are you trying to get yourself killed?”
<ell>: Real person or figment?
<desc>: Elithora is either guiding or shoving people along behind BJ as necessary.
<jake2099>: There’s a long line of cars waiting to pull out of the garage. Outside, the city is bustling.
<thomamelas>: Gets out of the way, getting out his cellphone and checking in with Tracuer, telling him about the pick up needed and the plan to get the rest.
<jake2099>: Ell, you detect minds EVERYWHERE. Hurried, frantic, exhausted, happy, eager….
<jake2099>: You’ve escaped.
<ell>: “We need to destroy this thing.”
<desc>: Elithora looks around and then shudders, her face angry. “That place was disgusting. To make something completely unmoored … To untie someone from history itself, from causality, from the Fate that binds them to anyone else, without their knowing …”
<jake2099>: Traceur’s voice is concerned. “You brought back Sleepers from an Abyssal phenomenon? Good work, BJ, but see what you can do to get them unconscious quickly. Their own Disbelief will deal with most of the memories – although they’ll have nightmares the rest of their lives – but we need someone to give them a medical check-up and to invent cover stories.”
<thomamelas>: “I can destroy the portal but it will not break that place. And it may not be the only portal.”
<thomamelas>: Looks to Aur. “Can you get them all asleep?”
<ell>: 5d10h8 MASS SUGGESTION: SLEEP
<critical>: Ell, MASS SUGGESTION: SLEEP: 1 [5d10h8=5,1,8,1,3]
<jake2099>: Ted, Mark, and Astrid’s eyelids flutter and they shuffle with the last of their strength to the curb, where they sit down and pass out.
<thomamelas>: “Aur is working on getting them asleep. I talk with you in a bit.”
<jake2099>: “Understood. Keep me posted.”
<ell>: "We need to eitherblock this off or find another portal
<thomamelas>: Looking at the portal, pondering. (Can I do the inverse of control dispellation and lock the portal to everyone but me?)
<thomamelas>: “Let me think about this for a moment.”
<jake2099>: You can immediately tell that the portal isn’t closeable by normal means. It’s made of pure Paradox, after all. It would eat your spell for breakfast.
<ell>: (Oh my god Quizzy)
<desc>: Elithora paces. “Can’t we just call in some dumb, macho Sentinels to obliterate this place? Ugh.”
<thomamelas>: “Already called. Along with some Arrows. Can you set up a brief portal in front of it? Opening somewhere harmless?”
<ell>: “Not personally, no.”
<jake2099>: Most magic is going to suck with tons of Sleepers around anyway.
<thomamelas>: “I think we are going to be camping out here till nightfall.”
<desc>: Elithora taps out a few quick emails on her phone, resigned to this thought.
<desc>: (I should have gone to sleep a while ago, so I need to wrap up my character soonish)
<jake2099>: (almost done!)
<ell>: “Joys. So did we find the invisible boyfriend?”
<ell>: “Is he visible again?”
<jake2099>: He’s visible.
<thomamelas>: Calling Sterling.
<jake2099>: “Blackjack! Any news?”
<thomamelas>: “Found her. Found the boyfriend. They are safe but it required a trip into the Abyss.”
<ell>: “Not fun at all. Ugh. I just want to go home now.”
<jake2099>: "Oh. Oh, shit. Okay. Have you called someone in the Arrow? They know how to deal with this stuff.
<thomamelas>: “Yes. And I thin Aurelia and Eli are thinking in terms bigger then favor.”
<jake2099>: “Okay. Look, I’m just glad you were able to help. When you get done, send me an email at this address” – he gives you an address – “with everything that you know about what happened to you. Going into the Abyss is not everyday stuff, even for us. I’ll have to research what to do about it.”
<jake2099>: A short while later, a dark van pulls up and a couple of mages emerge. One is a shortish girl in business attire who introduces herself as a Free Council minuteman. The other is a balding black man in coveralls. He grunts at the sight of the Sleepers and, when the coast is clear, piles them into the back of the van.
<jake2099>: After that’s done and the van is closed, he produces a roll of yellow tape.
<thomamelas>: Goes to the box and puts away the shotgun and sword. Picking it up and brushing it off. “If you two want to go, I will stay and deal with the paperwork. I am kind of curious how this going to be closed.”
<jake2099>: “I’ll show you,” the mage in coveralls says. “How’s this for some magic?”
<ell>: “Yeah. Shall we, Eli?”
<jake2099>: He unrolls the tape between the two pillars, wrapping it around in a loop. POLICE LINE – DO NOT CROSS – POLICE LINE – DO NOT CROSS
<jake2099>: “That’ll keep anyone from blundering through until we find a more permanent option. Five’ll get you ten they get a Matter guy to fill it in with concrete. Sometimes simple is best.”
<desc>: Elithora watches the mage even as she absently pulls out her car keys. She shrugs to herself and nods to Aurelia.
<desc>: “Yeah, let’s get out of here. I need to scrub that place off me. It’s like Fate was completely disrupted inside …”
<jake2099>: Good work, all!
<jake2099>: Take a regular XP and three arcane xp apiece.
<jake2099>: You just survived a trip through the Crossroads
<desc>: yay unnamed team!
<jake2099>: you guys chose wisely there at the end
<ell>: Aurelia rides with Eli back to her office
<thomamelas>: How so?
<jake2099>: the only way to escape is to make a complete circuit without stopping
<jake2099>: if you’d turned back you would have discovered the portal closed
<jake2099>: That’s an abyssal monster from the “Intruders” splatbook, by the way. It’s a living maze!