Bound By the Blood
|Bound By the Blood|
|ShadowHaven||Spirits of Dunwich|
C-Unit 537 - Hunter|
In which the runners are hired to retrieve an item from a haunted house in England.
The small town of Dunwich in Suffolk, England, is has been slowly falling apart for years due to coastal erosion from the strong storms that batter it. In 2062, there were a series of murders of refugee populations which took place at the Coast Guard barracks - due to a conflux of magical factors surrounding the situation which created an intense backlash, the spirits of those killed (among them a number of Middle-Eastern refugees from the New Islamic Jihad) remain there to this day, with the residents becoming little more than specters of the dead and the town itself being entirely abandoned for twenty years and the area quarantined by the government.
The runners are contacted individually by their fixers and told to meet at a no-tell motel in Snohomish, each managing to arrive without incident to find their J waiting for them there, along with a strange cloaked spirit. He tells them that there is a preserved packet stored inside of a vault in a magically-active location which he needs recovered with all possible discretion, providing them with a few bits of information on the task, and promising them 40,000 nuyen in payment. Delphi and Frank attempt to squeeze the J for more cash, but he counters with an offer of a local safehouse on top of their transportation expenses and false identities to operate under while there.
After accepting the job, Delphi asks about the J's phantom companion, who reaches out to her and invites her to use her psychometry on it - the vision she gets is one of chaos and carnage, depicting a point-of-view perspective of the massacre from years ago; the J tells her that the spirit is one of those who was drawn to the emotional resonance of Dunwich and who was extracted at no small cost. When asked if there's anything else it can tell them, the spirit offers its hand again, but Frank takes it to keep Delphi from having to, getting a flood of emotions as well as an image of a person's face, along with a name, "Hal ibn-Shahmen" and a feeling of familiarity with them.
Before going, Frank offers the phantom a place to stay at his apartment, where it can hang out with his his buddy Trashcan.
The team are given a datachip containing contact info for a freelance forger called "INS 723" who they can contact for their fakes SINs, and told that their flight will be waiting for them when they are ready to go. Delphi calls up Argent to get the low-down on the apparently-syndicate-connected forger, and is told that they do high quality work and have a reputation for discretion and for not keeping tissue samples, but there are rumors that they might be a monad. Meeting up at a specified location at the Tacoma docks, they encounter an anthrodrone which takes blood samples from them in order to create high-grade fakes.
While Delphi hits the Matrix to find more info and performs a divination to learn more about their quarry, Frank calls up Informer to ask for information on ghosts - not spirits, but like, actual ghost ghosts - that might help with their interactions with the locals. Finding some intel on ibn-Shahmen, they learn that he was a banker in Saudi Arabia who acted as a representative of sort for the refugees who evidently died in the massacre. Digging a bit deeper, and asking the phantom for more information, the spirit scrawls some Arabic words on the walls, which translates as passages from the Quran and warnings about the torment of the ghosts a "key" which let in the trouble that came to Dunwich. Troubled by what they've learned but not able to make much sense of it, the team get some fitful sleep.
With her insomnia troubling her, Delphi performs another divination on the fate of the ghosts and how to release them - getting the message "The ghosts of the past have no future. Chains bind what was to hide what will be. No hammer breaks the chain but truth." Deciding to call up Hanako Shinoda for more information, with the Shiawase seer evidently expecting her call - Hanako reveals that she had a similar vision that very morning, and that the key to the truth is one "Hashim Zaman", a close associate of Ibn Eisa (the leader of the New Islamic Jihad) before he died. Going to speak with the phantom, she asks about Hashim and receives another vision of the massacre, getting a few clues about what happened and a few more haunting images to keep her up at night.
Boarding the plane, the runners have a relatively uneventful flight across the pond, arriving to find a van waiting for them with their belongings in it; driving out to the coast, they arrive in Suffolk at their safehouse (a small boat shed) on the outskirts of Dunwich. While they deploy a few flying eyes to get some visual recon on the town, Delphi attempts to get some sleep and has a fitful dream, waking up having scrawled the kanji for "伊弉 - Izanami" onto the wall with her nails; checking her dream link, she finds that she dreamt of conducting a calling ritual in the halls from the vision the spirit showed her.
Heading to Dunwich, the team encounter some strange spectral phenomenon on the way, as well as the FAB boundary around the town. Using her sensing, Delphi senses the approach of an oncoming mana storm from the direction of sea, and tells the team they shouldn't be here when it arrives. Moving in a traveling overwatch formation with Hunter leading them along, the trio of runners make their way through the ruined town towards the manor from the spirit vision. In the courtyard, they encounter a colossal spirit which Frank has a friendly chat with, asking who it is and what happened here; the spirit gives them ominous and portentous warnings, as spirits are want to do, and gives Frank a small token that it says will provide some solace, which many of the spirits there have forgotten, before disappearing.
Entering the house, the trio see some ghosts going about their business who don't seem to take notice of them; entering a hallway, all the doors slam shut behind them, and they encounter a one-eyed gremlin-like figure which Frank has a talk with before it vanishes. Finding the doors stuck fast, the group puts their magical knowledge together and intuit that it is likely poltergeist activity at work. Feeling a warm wind coming from the west, Frank hears a whisper before a door opens and beckons the runners inside; peeking around the corner, Delphi catches sight of a grim reaper, and the team quickly makes their way into the room to hide, where a ghost urges them into a closet, where they find another one writing at a desk. The ghost shows them it's illegible last will and testament, and tells them that most here cannot remember the truth. They tell them they are here seeking someone who can tell them what happened and bring it to light, and the ghost points downstairs, indicating that's where they can find Hashim.
From out in the bedroom, the team hear a sudden commotion and the sound of screams and heavy footfalls, which quickly recede; exiting the closet, they find a scene of spectral slaughter left in the grim reaper's wake. Outside in the hall, they find the door downstairs is still locked, and that the poltergeist responsible won't open it until the reaper is gone. Placing a remote-detonated grenade in the bedroom, they work together to force the door open and use the sound of the blast to cover it, piling inside before the reaper can notice them. Downstairs, they find a group of ghosts who, when asked about Hashim, point them towards a pile of barrels on one wall, behind which is a cavern carved into the bedrock lit by astral candles. There they find Hashim contained inside a mana barrier, looking much like his living self and not the black spectral shades they've encountered thusfar, along with the safe they're looking for.
Hashim tells them that he ran all the way to England from the Middle East, but that he could not flee further because Ibn Eisa's agents were waiting for him; he says that they are responsible for calling the grim reapers to Dunwich, driving the refugees into a violent frenzy to kill eachother, and that he fled into the cavern where they were waiting for him. As he's talking, the team feel the air grow cold and hear the sound of heavy footfalls; hiding in the nearby alcoves, they are able to stay out of sight as the grim reaper enters, remaining hidden while it slowly skulks around. Once it's gone, they work together to locate the weaknesses in the mana barrier and cheerlead Hunter as he dispels it to release Hashim and recover the contents of the safe.
Rushing upstairs with their prize and the now-free Hashim, they find that the grim reaper has been destroying or blocking off their avenues of retreat; finding the gremlin has reappeared, they ask it to let them out, but it seems too afraid. Rushing into the bedroom to try to smash their way out of the window, the noise attracts the reaper's attention - hiding in the closet, Hashim takes it upon himself to attract the the reaper's attention and give them the opening they need to escape. Hopping out the window, they make their way to the edge of the village and retreat in the wake of the approaching manastorm.
Once they're driving away from the village, the team catch their breath and take stock of the situation. Against her better judgement, Delphi decides to psychometrize the container, getting a good glimpse of the two decade old impression where she sees Mr. Herenight depositing labeled blood samples into the container she's currently holding and placing it into the safe, saying "that's the last of the Morgans" before the vision fades. Freaked out, she asks Frank to get the van to pull over, stopping at the side of the road to make a makeshift alter and perform a divination which confirms that the J they're working for is going to hand the blood off to the Black Lodge. Attempting not to panic at the thought of where the blood that they gave the forger went, she considers the options before realizing that there are none except to hand it over to the J and go home - anything else would get them killed or stranded in the country with their fake identities burned. Telling the others that everything's fine, she keeps silent about the revelation.
Heading to London, the team pass off the blood samples to a courier and are given their plane tickets and payment in exchange; they return to Seattle safe and sound, though Dunwich remains a horror show for now.
40,000 Nuyen 10 Karma 22 CDP
Player After Action Reports (AARs)
Fuck... FUCK! Goddamnit! Aaahhh!
Okay... okay... shit. Shit! Again! Again that goddamn vampire got me to do his dirty work, and since he had to have this goddamn blood that whole village of people are basically still stuck in Hell because I couldn't figure it out in time and was too scared to fight that thing. Fuck! Like... why? Why do things like this keep happening? This whole thing was such a senseless tragedy. That vision... it said that the truth would set them free... we found it, but I didn't get it at the time, was wrapped up with the damn grim reaper hanging over our shoulder. I thought people needed to learn what happened there, but it's not that the truth needed to get out, it's that the ghosts that had forgotten it needed to remember. We should have stayed, tried to figure it out, but the damn reaper and the mana storm were baring down on us... goddamnit, I'm such a fucking coward. This can't continue, I need to figure out something...
Y'know...I'm glad I didn't give up smokin', because as much as people rant and rave about magical doodads, ghosts apparently could do with a nice smoke now and again. Friggin' ghosts are different than friggin' spirits, and I'm sittin' there with my head up my ass not really gettin' a lot of the differences. We're basically fuckin' around in a haunted house carnival ride, except it will basically murder your whole face off if ya make any noise at the wrong time. Friggin' scary.
While I was a fan of the shared aesthetic, one of my compatriots got super friggin' weird at the end of it. She's keepin' secrets from us. Not sure if she's protectin' us or hosin' us. I'mma keep an eye on the dame.