Drums in the Deep

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Drums in the Deep
Date2081-03-24
GMTekomandor
LocationUnincorporated territory, Salish-Shidhe Council
Result Victory: Draco Foundation
Factions Involved
Draco Foundation Society for the History of the American Arcane (Wuxing) Aztechnology
Units involved
  • Dr. Armin Thield
  • Unnamed researchers
  • Unknown, estimated platoon-sized unit.
    Casualties and losses
    Doctor Marvel faced nearly mortal wounds from drain. All civilian researchers KIA except Dr. Thield. All combatants KIA.

    Summary

    Dr. Marvel gets mixed up in a conflict between the Draco Foundation, a Wuxing subsidiary, and Aztechnology in a remarkably well-preserved Fourth World ruin.

    Background

    Toward the end of the Fourth World, the entire planet was overrun by colossal, nightmarish beings known as "Horrors." The Horrors systematically wiped out nearly all sapient life on Earth, with a few survivors living in underground fortresses caring little for what previously divided them. The Society for the History of the American Arcane, a subsidiary of Wuxing, Incorporated, located such a site in a remote part of the Salish-Shidhe Council's territory. With their arcano-archaeologist indisposed following an untimely car accident, they looked into hiring a shadowrunner.

    The Meet

    One afternoon, Dr. Marvel receives a call from Rick Rampant while in her Downtown apartment. Rick explains that he had an odd request Dr. Marvel would be perfect for: an arcano-archaeological expedition. She enthusiastically accepts, then is directed to JJ's Brunch House in Downtown, where she meets with a middle-aged dwarf named Dr. Armin Thield. Dr. Thield offers 10,000¥ for a week-long study of a site for the Society for the History of the American Arcane, a Wuxing subsidiary responsible for more than a few thaumaturgical breakthroughs over the last decade and known not to be afraid of getting its hands dirty. Dr. Marvel enthusiastically accepts. After a quick stop by her apartment to gather her enchanting supplies, she is flown off to the dig site.

    The Plan

    Once there, Dr. Marvel meets the research team, consisting of Dr. Thield and several associates as well as two shadowrunners who have been hired for protection: a Russian gunslinger named Boris and a taciturn woman named Cathawk. Boris does the talking, and after a dull lecture on not touching glowing rocks and which end of the gun to point at bad guys, the team sets out to do an initial survey, after which more detailed examinations would follow.

    The Run

    The entrance to the dig site is littered with charred skeletons. The humanoid ones appear to be humans, elves, and dwarves, each clutching an amulet. Dr. Marvel examines the amulets and learns they provide some manner of protection from fire in an odd alchemical endowment process, as though applying Hermetic fixation to the individual. Aside from the humanoid skeletons, there are hulking monstrosities with no consistent anatomical features save the fact they possess bones, are large, and were capable of killing people easily when they were alive. Dr. Marvel finds traces of orichalcum in the monsters' bones with her bottle of aqua fortis. She is then called over to a "door" by the other researchers, who have sprayed aqua fortis onto a flat, stone surface to reveal a glow vaguely shaped like a doorway. Dr. Marvel examines the flow of magic in the area and finds two nearby artifacts. She determines that one is used to convert elemental fire into elemental earth, and the other is used to do the reverse. She activates the artifact of earth-to-fire, swapping the doorway for a wall of flame. She sends a fire elemental to the other side to examine any possible shutoff mechanisms. It finds a magical inscription that says any dwarf or friend of dwarf may pass through the flames unharmed. Believing herself not to have any ill intent toward dwarves, Dr. Marvel passes through along with Dr. Thield, and they are unharmed. The rest of the team follows.

    A series of passages follow. Dr. Marvel locates an elaborate, finely-crafted suit of elven plate armor. Upon closer inspection, the enchantments appear to have been made at the height of the Fourth World's background count. Dr. Marvel therefore surmises that it was a latter-day creation made during the reign of the Horrors, and that this fortress was likely one of the strongholds built to guard against them. Beyond the passages lies a living area. From the look of it, the monsters breached this cavern and killed many people. Dr. Marvel examines the creatures' remains and finds some to be the former vessels of insect spirits, some to be the former vessels of shedim, and some to be an unknown, entirely alien form of mutation. She takes extensive notes detailing the anatomy.

    Beyond this living space is a vast gate flanked by magma floes. Here, another stand was made against the monsters. Another suit of fine elven armor lies here, along with a magic sword. This time, Dr. Marvel notices something shocking about the armor. She has seen the aura of its creator before. Immediately, she retrieves a powerful sigil of intellect from her vault of ages and activates it, then tries hard to remember who it belongs to. It was someone she met during her bachelor's research, an elf, someone who worked for the Draco Foundation. She realizes she must have once met an immortal elf, and a powerful enchanter at that. As she freaks out, Boris approaches her. He eyes the sword with interest, saying it would be nice to smuggle such a thing out. Dr. Marvel expresses hesitation to get in trouble with Wuxing, but Boris says if she finds anything that a corporation should not have, she should tell him, and he can make it look like it wasn't her fault it disappeared.

    Through the magma gate is a vast subterranean city, and at the center is a tremendous skeleton - something that was once a great dragon, but twisted in the same way as the monstrosities from before. It exudes a powerful magical energy, and the researchers stare in awe for some time. Dr. Marvel spies a relief depicting what happened here (or prediction, perhaps). Brushing away the ash on the wall, she reveals depictions of a sort of hybrid alchemical-invocation process by which elemental spirits could be contained or anchored in vessels that would release them when broken. Behind the dragon skeleton is an orichalcum circle with four still functional fire immunity amulets and an altar upon which a fully intact vessel of some ancient, tremendously powerful fire spirit rests. Boris approaches Dr. Marvel to ask if this is such a thing that Wuxing shouldn't have, and as she begins to answer, her elemental spots a team of people cloaked by an invisibility spell. She dismisses it and conjures an air elemental, then strikes at the team in a surprise attack.

    Boris and Cathawk leap into action while the researchers hunker down by the altar. They begin to pick off troops, but after that, heavily armored squads with milspec gear begin appearing to back them up. Dr. Marvel realizes they will soon be overrun, and she makes a calculated decision. She grabs the fire immunity amulets and hands one to Boris, one to Cathawk, one to Dr. Thield, and keeps one for herself. Then, she smashes the vessel on the altar. An explosion of fire lasting an indeterminate amount of time tears through the caverns, scorching everything in its path. When it subsides, almost nothing is left standing but the four protected by the amulets and scarce archaeological evidence.

    Aftermath

    The drain Dr. Marvel had suffered releasing the spirit from its vessel nearly kills her, and Cathawk rushes her to medical evacuation. Boris answers the Society's questions, successfully convincing them any damage was Aztechnology's fault, but valuable things were still down there to be found.

    After some time in a Seattle hospital, Dr. Marvel is visited by Boris and the elf she remembered from years ago. They explain they had been working for the Draco Foundation, and they wanted to ensure no corporation would get their hands on any artifacts that would give them weapons of mass destruction or open the door to any Horrors. The elf gives her a business card with a chip and a commcode, then leaves. Boris gives her a fine bottle of vodka as thanks for saving his life and says that the Draco Foundation is interested in working with her in the future. He also leaves a smuggled anti-fire amulet that Dr. Marvel later studies to unlock the secret of alchemical fixation.

    Rewards

    • 10,000¥
    • 4 Karma
    • +4 Faction Rep: Draco Foundation
    • 2 CDP

    Game Quotes

    Player After Action Reports (AARs)

    Dr. Marvel

    This has been without a doubt the most significant incident in my career to date. Much of what remained in that fortress is lost, I fear, but I still have my quicksilver photographs and notes. There are things out there, in the most distant realms beyond the threshold, that should not exist in our world, and I saw their remains firsthand. Even a great dragon fell before them, becoming a vessel for inhabitation in hybrid form. As excited as I am to learn so much about the past and finally uncover the secrets of fixation, I feel sobered to have been in the face of such awesome power and reminded that such things may lay in our future. I will continue my journey to complete the Great Work. I hope to see more of the Draco Foundation one day.