Shadowrun: Richmond, Virginia, CAS

Arise

Alex, the Ork also known as “Grummish”, sits behind his desk in his corner office overlooking the Petersburg Barrens, his oasis in desolation. He sits in silence as he reads the briefing documents from Dr. Talley and Dr. Chamberlain, covering the pending action against Bill and more mundane facets of overall operations. Alex is distracted, a worry he had not felt for some time. A worry of losing someone important. Melissa’s death was unexpected and not “worried” over, painful as it was. In this case, he knew people were going to die. The only question was “who?”

A knock at the door interrupts Alex’s anxiety fueled musings.

“Come,” Alex says sternly. A tone underlying his feelings.

Jeremy opens the door slowly, sheepishly poking just his head in. “Sir, thanks for talking with me.”

“Come in Jeremy and have a seat,” Alex says flatly in a tone that could be interpreted as annoyance, but is really driven by concern. Not that Jeremy would know. “I am surprised to see you given the consequences you received, but let me express my appreciation for having the fortitude to face me. What is it that you want?”

Jeremy walks into the room, and Alex’s eye catches the strange, crooked sword at his side. Jeremy’s side arm is in a shoulder holster.

“That is not standard issued equipment,” Alex states. “Why-”

“I’m sorry sir,” Jeremy sputters. “Ms. Spitfire authorized the weapon as an addition for some of us, in her role as acting security chief. I hope she hasn’t overstepped her bounds.”

“Well, that is her prerogative.” Alex says, leaning back in his chair, removing his glasses and tossing them onto the glass of his desk. “I imagine you, like some others, have spent time with the Maiden?”

“Um, yes sir.” Jeremy answers, the trepidation clear in his voice. “Ever since you said she was the ethics officer, Ms. Spitfire felt that the Maiden’s role should have some authority.”

“I see,” Alex says, distracted by his anxious thoughts. “Now, neither the sword nor the Maiden are truly why you are here. Why the visit?”

“I wanted to say I’m sorry for the role I played in Melissa’s death.”

“I imagine you are, given your suffering.”

“But, it’s not just that…” Jeremy’s voice quivers.

“Oh?” Alex’s voice is aloof and distant.

“I just need to get through this…” Jeremy pauses for a few seconds. “This is hard, but she said I had to if I were to find peace.”

“And?” Alex’s posture changes and a sincerity enters his voice as he leans forward with full attention.

“I-,… I forgive you.”

“You think I need your forgiveness?” Alex asks, his brow furrowed, but his tone softening.

“It’s not for you. It’s for me.”

Alex leans forward, resting his head on his hand, staring intently at Jeremy, waiting for Jeremy to explain more.

“Um, that’s all I wanted to say about that.” Jeremy shifts restlessly in his seat, finally rising to his feet. “Sir, me and some of the guys want to go with you and the Maiden. Wherever that is to do whatever we need to do.”

Alex turns his head slightly, casting a sidelong glance at Jeremy. “That may very well get you killed.”

“I know,” Jeremy answers. “But, better to live and maybe die to be part of the world and contribute to it.”

Alex’s thoughts drift away from the office. Away from Jeremy. Away from Bill. Away from everything. Back to his life before being Grummish. He thinks back to his idealism and zeal in helping others through being a doctor. A slight smile reaches the corners of Alex’s lips.

“Indeed. No truer words have I heard spoken.” Alex rises to his feet and extends his hand to Jeremy. “You and any others who feel compelled to join us are welcome to do so. Voluntarily, of course.”

Jeremy grasps his leader’s hand. “Thank you, sir. I’ll let the others know.” Alex motions to Jeremy to leave. Sill standing, Alex thinks, “He’s dead if he goes, but lives well in doing so. Were we all so lucky.”

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A not-so-by-chance meeting among "friends"

The heavy door to the ancient, yet perfectly preserved, temple burst inward framing a man in a gray cloak and fine, expensive garments of antiquity. Striding into the center of the room the man stops and yells, “Where are you!?”

A ghostly shape of a man appears in front of him, hovering a foot from the floor. “You’re going by ‘Bill’ these days, right?” A faint smile appears in wisps of shimmering, golden fog across the ghost’s face.

“Do not play games with me, you… collaborator!” Bill appears furious, his skin even flushed with blood. All of which was simply an illusion hiding Bill’s real form.

“Collaborator?” The ghost chuckles which echoes faintly in the empty hall. “You’re the one who wants to take over this plane. One can only guess at the insanity of that decision.” The ghost’s voice has a rhythmic, almost musical quality. Carefree and peaceful.

“You are weak!”, yells Bill enraged. “I should—”

“End me? But you can’t,” interrupts the spirit softly. “I’m way smarter than you. And intelligence beats strength every time.”

“Care to test me?” Bill seethes.

The ghostly shape outstretches it’s arms and fingers, laying bear its chest. “Give it your best shot.” Its smile does not fade.

“Not here—”

“Of course you want it to be someplace else, you dullard! But you’re not going to get me any place else than here. Remember? I’m smart. You, well,… not so much.”

Bill falls silent.

“Now, the last time you tried this, you were foiled—” The spirit is interrupted.

“By mortals!”

The spirit chuckles again. “I was going to say ‘by a bunch of young women’. But, yes, they were mortals. Including their leader as I recall. Those cursed little ladies kicked your pompous ass.”

“They had that dragon on their side,” Bill’s voice trails off.

The spirit crosses its arms and shakes its ghostly head. “Also technically a mortal. And one nearing the end of his life. So, you’re saying a bunch of girls and an ancient, decrepit dragon kicked your immortal ass.”

“You know they’re going to try this here. In your house.”

The spirit laughs aloud. “My house? Wow, you really are dense. I visit here. It’s not my home. You win and turn this world to a garbage pit, I go home, with no more thought to this place than a fond memory. You are the one that seems anchored here. If this place is home to anyone, even the mortals, well, this is your home.”

A silence hangs in the room for several seconds, finally interrupted by the spirit. “You want some advice? From someone much smarter than you, Bill?”

Bill extends his arm, gesturing that the other spirit continue.

“Go home and forget this place. Those mortals actually worked out a way to kill you off. Not just banishment, but the end all, nothing coming after it, totality of death. Already got your bloody friend. You’re mad, but its rooted in fear. You know, you have a tragic flaw.”

“A tragic flaw?” Bill scoffs.

“Yeah, you know. Like a Shakespearean tragedy? Oh, wait. Strong but stupid, so you probably don’t know. Doesn’t matter. You’re pride is going to get you killed.”

“I know you helped them,” Bill accuses.

“Gave them a box of worthless trinkets. Money. Never quite understood it.”

“They’re coming here—”

“Good!” shouts the spirit. “I’m making popcorn and going to relax watching this spectacle. Win or lose, you’re going to make my millennium!”

Bill, finally disgusted, vanishes.

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Take one for the team

It was late, at least for the two spellcasters who had been up since who remembers when trying to learn the complexities of a spell written eons ago. Sunder looked more bedraggled than his counterpart Kane who takes special care of his appearance. Conversations had ended and now each poured over the written passages from their tablet computers, facets of which were translated by an expert team of magical theorists, both spellcasters and academics alike. Suddenly the silence of the dark conference room with it’s dimmed lights is broken by Sunder slapping his forehead with his hand. Then his body becomes slack, slouching further in his seat, his eyes open and rolling as his head shook left to right.

“Shit!” Sunder exclaims. “I—, wha—-, hm—-, AHHHH!”

Kane looked up, “What the hell?”

Sunder tosses the tablet, sending it skidding in front Kane. Kane looked down at it, reading the content.

“What the fuck!” Kane curses, shaking his head. “This shit just gets better and better…” Kane’s voice trails off.

“So!” Sunder says, “Who’s gonna take one for the team?!”

=============

The spell requires the sacrifice of a magical, sentient being, like a spell caster, who has no essence loss and who gives his/herself willingly for the ritual. The leader of the ritual spell must kill the sacrifice in one stroke using a bladed weapon magical in nature.

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YOU touch it!

The jerky camera movements aside, the image quality of the amateur video played during the evening news still showed with crystal clarity. Three young men from the backwoods of rural Virginia are seen beside what appeared to be a black, featureless wall.

“Touch it man!” yells one of them to the others. “Touch that <bleep>!”

“Nah, man,” answers another angrily. “you <bleep> do it!”

“I ain’t touchin’ that <bleep>,” answers the third, shoving the other two.

“Y’all just don’t got the <bleep> for it!”

“Huh?!” says one man, facing the black wall. “This is weird <bleep>.” He gestures to the wall, and is suddenly shoved toward it, his right arm plunging into the blackness. The man cries out in pain, pulling away from the wall, less the amount of the arm that had entered the darkness. He drops to his knees grasping the stump, the blood spurting from the arteries of the severed limb pixelated so that the gore of the bloodied, but perfectly severed, stump could not be seen.

“Oh, <bleep>!” says the other two in unison. “Dude, man, y’all gonna need to see someone ’bout that!” The two frightened men run toward their truck leaving. The fourth man, holding the camera only says, “<bleep>. Aw, man, let me find some bandages or something.”

The man missing the limb falls over unconscious, blood oozing into the Earth as the camera video stops.

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Day 4...

The Petersburg Barrens typically looks like any other blight in a metroplex, far from the shining brick, steel, and glass buildings of downtown Richmond. The people living here lead simple lives sometimes avoiding illegal activities or, perhaps, engaging in such activity, In any event, P-Berg is quiet on Sunday mornings with few venturing out. While a cloudless, beautiful day, the din of the battle could be heard for miles, breaking the calm. Lazarus, Grummish, Katai, the Maiden, Perfect, Detective Moriarty, Jazz, and M_Dragon once again were fighting the forces of… evil? Horrible spirits in contorted bodies with limbs of tentacles, insect-like articulated arms, and unnatural human like appendages surrounded a much larger manifested spirit. A spirit who consumed the life force of others so that he may stay and further degrade this place turning the ruins into breeding grounds of chaos.

Earlier in the day, the great spirit captured Mortis, perhaps one of the deadliest shots in all the world. Taken through the combined firepower of the truly experienced operators of the team. The spirit paid the price, being driven off by the team, but not before Mortis was firmly in the grip of the beast. Now it was only a matter of time before Mortis would be forced to give up any information he knows, including memories he long ago forgot.

Just another day, just another hour, thought Lazarus to himself, trying to steady himself in the face of the horrible abomination of the spirit itself. Lazarus woke in the van enroute to the next safehouse and the supplies of ammunition, weapons, and armor to continue the fight. Magic may have healed him, but he feels certain that a chunk of his skull didn’t come back. Once again, in a similar building and in a similar fight. Please don’t let me relive my namesake again, Lazarus thought. The ringing in his ears cleared, his fear swallowed, and he could focus on the battle on hand.

Through the much enlarged opening in the wall of the building, Lazarus could survey the group. Grummish stood in front of the beast, slicing off portions of the tentacles, but unable to stop the remaining tentacles. Within a split second, Grummish was picked up and thrown 30 feet, impacting in the brick and mortar wall of the row house, creating a man-sized crater in the center. After impacting the wall, Grummish fell thirty feet to the ground.

Three drones buzzed around overhead, focusing their heavy weapons onto the master spirit, the large caliber bullets tore through the spirit’s manifested form. The monster’s response is to grab one of the drones and crushed it within the grip of the beast’s tentacles. Jazz could be heard immediately after the drone’s destruction. “Grr…,” Jazz groaned over the radio, with the two remaining drones moved further away. “Ow that stings… Lost another drone. We’re running out of drones, if anyone cares.”

Moriarty dropped to the ground surrounding both he and Grummish, the faint blue shimmering effect barely noticeable during the day. Having seen this tactic before, the spirit adjusts its attack, and via the use of magic, pulls down the entire brick facing of the front of the row house down onto Moriarty and Grummish, taking them both out of the fight, buried in a ton of bricks and mortar.

Surprising the monster, Katai kicked open the door of a dilapidated row house across the street, unleashing his Panther Assault Cannon on the… back? How can a creature with so many human eyes on stalks sticking out of its body have a back, asked Katai to himself. With loud shrieks, the creature reaches out to a man hiding across the street bringing the hapless victim to the gaping maw, losing a chunk of his shoulder from long, serrated teeth piercing completely through the meat and bone.

“Damn bystanders,” Lazarus curses under his breath. He quickly changes targets and fills the poor man with bullets, killing him. “Can’t let that thing restore his energy by turning the dude to a human raisin,” Lazarus says to himself in an effort to alleviate any guilt at killing some innocent guy just watching the carnage. The spirit roars in anger, and after taking far more damage from the drones and Katai, it vanishes. For now.

“Target has left the area,” Lazarus announces over the radio.

“We can’t keep this up!” calls Jazz over the radio. “This thing is all over the news. People are calling Richmond another Chicago, which is bringing in so called experts and researchers to gawk at the thing. More people just means more fuel for that thing. Set that aside, stores of weapons, ammunition, drones,… everything, is running low. And, if no one’s counting, this finishes round nine! Mortis is missing, Perfect is unconscious…”

“We will keep this up, using your colloquialism, for as long as we live. If necessary. There is no other choice.” Grummish’s words sounded tired and yet galvanizing. Everyone could tell from his tone he planned to go the distance, whatever it took. “Dragon, how is our progress to the next drop zone for supplies?”

M_Dragon’s voice could be heard over the radio. “We’re out of heavy security armor, so we’re going to have to find some armor of a more legal variety. Panther Assault Cannon rounds are a no go for the next drop, but we do have grenades.”

“That will have to do,” answered Grummish.

“Look, I get the consequences, but I ain’t dying here in the filthy street for the cause,” says Moriarty over the radio with a grunt. The shifting of the bricks from Grummish’s effort to dislodge the two of them was gaining some success.

“You will die,” states Grummish flatly, “if that is what it takes.”

“Nice pep talk, big guy,” scoffs Jazz. “I’ll see what I can dig up in the way of equipment and keep you posted. Good luck guys.”

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The Distraction

The front end of the car smashes its way through the wall of the house, causing the ceiling of the room to collapse. Katai, in heavy armor with his Panther Assault Cannon is pinned under the car. The car’s weight on the dilapidated row house’s floor gives way, sending the car, and Katai, into the basement.

“A car?!” screams Lazarus over the din of the battle. “A fraggin’ car?!”

“I’m going outside.” With his brief statement, Grummish jumps through the new opening. Grummish is almost not recognizable under the heavy armor, heavily damaged by slashing marks which tear open the armor in several places. Blood trickles out of the openings. The Maiden follows, screaming in a thick, guttural accent, “For the King!”

“Why’s the plan always, ‘Get him’?!” Lazarus ducks behind the remains of the brick wall, narrowly avoiding the grasp of a purplish tentacle entering through the window, it’s ivory claws visible in the sucker-like divots.

“Hey,” calls Moriarty with a chuckle, covered in similar heavy armor, scorched from some fire, the plastics of which melted down to the his skin. “At least I’m getting paid!” A column of fire enters through the wall’s remains from outside in the street, but they curve around Moriarty’s body, the shimmering of the small globe of magical protection surrounding him, sparing him from the deadly flames.

“Bite me!” Lazarus grabs his crotch with his left hand, and leans out with his sub machine gun in his right, spraying bullets outside.

“Ugh…” groans Katai over the radio. “Don’t catch cars… I’m gonna need a minute to dig out. Where the hell is my gun?!”

Grummish flies back through the opening in the building, crashing through the plaster and wood of the interior wall behind them.

“Jazz, where the hell’s my air support!” yells Lazarus through the radio. Jazz’s much calmer female voice replies. “I got two drones down, last two coming in hot.”

Another tentacle enters through the wall’s opening, tearing the helmet off of Lazarus, the hooks ripping through his skull, leaving part of his brain exposed underneath. He falls limp, dropping to the floor. Moriarty calls over the radio, “Lazarus is down!” Moriarty leaps across the room, covering Lazarus within the protection of his spell.

“We’ve beat you before,” chants Perfect the shark shaman fighting outside, “we will again!” A strange, high pitched whining, like a siren, can be heard from outside originating with Perfect’s spell. Fire licks through the windows and a screeching of what sounds like a hundred ravens can be heard, all the individual voices overlapping one another. A heavy thud hits the remains of the front wall over and over, causing dust to rain down inside the room. With each thud, Perfect’s groans can be heard over the radio.

Entering from the opening in the back wall, Grummish strides forward, his Ares Predatory heavy pistol in hand, each bullet fired punctuating each step he makes. The blur of a tentacle enters the room, placing Grummish in its crushing grip, pulling the ork outside.

Outside, a series of explosions occur, rattling the old building, causing much of it to finally collapse from the damage…

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Backgrounds from Kai

Kane
Todd Peters: magical researcher, Occult Division. No, non-magical weapons or armor.

Sunder
Lawrence Feidler: Sergeant magical security. Authorized armored jacket and a personal side arm (pistol). May have magical weaponry.

Kirah:
Pamela Stiles: Apprentice, Gladios magical group applicant. Authorized for side arm (pistol) and armored jacket.

Zee:
Terry Dupris: Instructor, security division, arcane weapon specialist. Authorized for bow, side arm (pistol), and armored jacket.

Dana:
Lt. Susan O’Reily: security personnel transfer from Aztec Boston office. Authorized security armor, side arm (sub machine gun), stun baton, and melee weapon.

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The Teams

Pre-Team

Kai (building covers for everyone…)

Team 1

Dana
Kane
Kirah
Sunder
Zee

Team 2

Lazarus
M_Dragon
Mortis (MIA)
Timber

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