Out Of Place, Out Of Order

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Out Of Place, Out Of Order
Part of Hail to the Pumpking
Date2081-12-26
GMAsmodeus
LocationRedmond, Sophocles
Status Threat Level: Medium
Factions Involved
ShadowHaven Halloweeners
Babylon
Stygian
Relay
Rougarou
Rager Viktor
Casualties and losses
Pump King Jack Elven Mercenaries that knocked themselves out, Viktor and Pump King Jack

Summary

Team gets hired to take out an impostor, end up goading two shadow spirits to d-d-d-duel!

Background

The Halloweeners had been devastated by the Ancients and only recently managed to start building themselves together. One of the local gang leaders, Rager Viktor, noticed that someone was pushing onto their turf of jack-o'lanterns and slasher movie tropes.

The Meet

Things don't start off well. Babylon, having realized who's hiring them proudly waves the Ancient colors on her vehicle and binds a powerful spirit to herself. The Halloweeners don't take kindly to this and concentrate plenty of laser sights to her chest when she tries approaching. A Rager personally shows up with a pair of rocket launchers and tells her to stay outside if she wants to play that game, tossing her a burner commlink to communicate with. Shes smarmy as can be expected of a black mage and agrees. The rest, however, manage to get in without much issue. It turns out that this Rager Viktor is surrounded by female elven mercenaries, all of which are Awakened. He quickly explains that there's someone going around stealing his thunder and that he wants to get rid of it. Not only is he willing to pay inexorbitant amounts for this job which gives pause to all of the runners right away, he also mentions discreetly to Stygian that he didn't want to hire them but it's not his choice.

The Plan

The team does some preliminary investigations on the miles-wide radius where the literal crucifixions have been occurring and do some legwork in the form of checking the place. Astral projection, drone swarms, you name it. The entire search radius is covered in an astral signature, making tracking difficult. The runners bump into a fresh new crucifixion victim thrown out from an alleyway but aren't able to save him from his wounds. Stygian and Babylon realize that this signature feels like that of a shadow spirit. Worrying!

The Run

When Babylon breaks a mana barrier-infused manhole cover, astral fires explode from every manhole in sight and ethereal laughter echoes throughout the Barrens. Babylon gets a glitched message to her commlink that even Relay can't properly figure out. Given that it has a ping on their Gridguide, they follow it to an abandoned parking lot filled with jack-o'lanterns. With a comically large pair of signs with arrows and HERE! written on it, they enter the designated manhole and find that someone's been building a rollercoaster of horrors in the sewer system. Even dead bodies of people have been used as haunted house puppets, hoisted on strings and all.

The team does encounter someone pinned to the cart going along the tracks of the ride but don't manage to take him off it; Relay gets a good smack on his drone from this very evil cart. The team finally manages to find the source as the background count and noise of the underground hideout skyrockets: a massive spectre surrounded by Halloweener-looking crazies. AS it manifests into the physical realm, Relay immediately opens fire which the spirit aptly dodges. In return, it sends its axe flying at the drone and calls Relay rude for opening fire. The drone survives, but only barely. Babylon is wary, but tries talking from behind cover. They also spot a fledgling dissonant technomancer being part of the spirit's congregation. Weak, but horrifying.

Surprisingly, the spirit is more than jovial and the two start hashing things out. As it stands out, this thing is undeniably a shadow spirit of fear, also known as a Nightmare. Yet he's friendly, admittedly amoral and cooperative to a reasonable degree. It turns out that this spirit, calling himself "Pump King Jack" has been around for a few weeks and has decided to start spreading what he calls 'true fear' among the living. He has reason to not like Halloweeners since he claims that they are satisfied with cheap thrills and don't make an art out of scaring people. As for his crucifixions, he claims that it was an accident since he didn't realize the victims would eventually perish from the wounds.

The team retreats with Jack's blessing and gets an elevator to the surface for some breathing room. All of them are divided by what they've found. Babylon's baby spirit of F1 returns to the Metaplane of Man after finding Jack somehow familiar while the rest continue to debate whether they really should assist a literal demon in Redmond. They start concocting a daring plan of baiting Jack into attacking the Halloweeners and convincing him that they need to attack him to look genuine. If all goes right, the two factions kill each other and Jack is out of Redmond for about a month before clawing his way back from the Astral. Upon talking to one of the defecting Halloweeners, they also uncover that Jack hungers for a living vessel but hasn't found one that suits his preferences. Given that Babylon is already beginning to study that type of magic, she finds another thing to negotiate with.

The spirit of Man returns and informs Babylon that while it was too weak to figure out much, Jack had stumbled upon the Metaplane of Man by accident and after trying to stir up trouble like your average Nightmare, was beaten down by much stronger native spirits and that dwelling in the Metaplane's guts changed him. Together, they journey back to Jack and the spirit is hospitable enough to temporarily suppress the background count he's cultivated to make the team feel more comfortable. They go over the plan and the long con pays off; Jack, in his naivety buys the lie and agrees to pay Viktor a visit. In addition, he seems overjoyed that Babylon will try to find him a vessel. As a form of thanks, he offers Babylon an endowment of his fear aura, something the black mage is thrilled to experience.

As they return unharmed to Viktor, he's more than a little suspicious. Upon finding out that they didn't kill Jack, he opens fire on the team and in that same moment Jack shatters the powerful mana barrier surrounding the building with but a single swing of his axe. Chaos commences as Babylon's powerful spirit rages on and Stygian summons a fire spirit of his own to fight in his stead. Relay's riggers pick off one target after another and Rougarou's weapons make short work of practically anyone he aims them at -- most individuals are astral specialists and weak in meatspace with the exception of Viktor who appears to also be possessed by a Nightmare.

Viktor's Nightmare calls Jack a traitor and an outcast as they face off, their auras of pure terror clashing with Babylon's borrowed deathly aura. While the elven mercenaries practically defeat themselves trying to group banish Babylon's powerful spirit, Viktor is a tougher cookie and in the chaos Relay manages to destroy Jack's physical form with concentrated fire from his drones. The rest, meanwhile, finally drag Viktor down as the spirit possessing him abandons him to his fate and escapes.

Aftermath

Only now do the runners realize they don't know where the money they were promised is. After some searching with Relay's super drones of perceiving, they find the duffel bag and share the well over hundred thousand nuyen between the four of them, hightailing it out of the hideout before Halloweener reinforcements arrive. Babylon eagerly awaits Pump King Jack's return -- this seems like it's an omen of good times.

Rewards

  • 26,000 Nuyen
  • 2 CDP
  • 1 Ancients Reputation (Babylon)
  • 1 Argent Chip (Stygian and Babylon)
  • -1 Astral Reputation (this is a good thing since Astral Reputation is basically notoriety)

Game Quotes

Player After Action Reports (AARs)

Babylon

Oh baby was this ever a rush! Frag I'm still coming down off the high of that endowment - I haven't felt that good since I did tempo as a teenager. Gotta say this much too: it's a pleasure working with real pros, even if some of them are goodie-two-shoes about the whole "making pacts with the forces of darkness" thing - Relay and Rougarou really handled themselves well with the fighting, and managed not to lose it when we stepped into Jack's lair, so they're good in my book. Stygian though, I hope we can work together again; who says black mages can't cooperate with each other eh? That motherfragger could spin bulldrek like nobody else, and he didn't even flinch at the idea of working with Jack if he ever makes it back (honestly I might even be able to convince him to take shade and go searching the metaplanes). I still can't believe we survived... oh who am I kidding, of course I can, we were top-tier mercenaries against the fragging Halloweeners, they didn't stand a chance even with the wildcard nightmare spirits! Time to take Rager Viktor here along with his turncloak Ancients back to the crew for a bit of fun.

Relay

I know that the runner community has its variety, even within a group like the Haven. Being real, though, I was kind of shocked to find two people who thought it might make sense to put a shadow spirit on top of a Halloweener crew in a four person crew. That felt like--you know--more than it should have been. That being said, we nixed that spirit back to the astral after it took a few murderous gangers for good measure. A win-win for the neighborhood, I suppose. I'm ready to leave this holiday nonsense behind me and get back to being a professional, that's for sure. I'm confident the next job can't be this ridiculous.

Rougarou: I'm not much of a fan of halloweeners and dealing with creatures of very evil nature but this was a job that had to be taken care of…random people are starting to die and be crucified by a nightmare spirit by the name of pumpkin King Jack. It's still a strange the spirit was kind of changed due to its time and exposure to the plane a man but it still is a psychopath and you trying to do predict or have that thing have any sense of morality his one thing and it's another does it keep true to its word or backstab you…Luckily enough the job went out smoothly, with dealing with the halloweeners and Jack was sent back to whatever pit he crawled from...and the good news the ancient now get to deal with those halloweeners an I don't care what happens to them now . Always count on a Halloweener to backstab you on a job, never fails.

Stygian

Another fellow Black Mage. Not the first I've met here, but certainly the most audacious. I will give this credit to Babylon, we at least hit a sympathetic stride. Relay was a pillar of professionalism, as I've come to expect from him. Rougarou was pretty quiet, but also displayed competence. All things considered, this team was pretty good.

Halloweeners as a side-note are a boorish, uncouth, and abrasive lot. The meeting with the J, a thug named Viktor, had a few issues but we got the job details easily enough. Apparently they were having issues with competition "scaring" people. Honestly, what people will throw money at. The elf mercenaries hovering about were amusing, but a little out of place. Again, what people will throw their money at. Anyway, after meeting the J the team hit the ground running.

We got lucky with the crucified man. I recognized he was fraggin' dying so used a spell to try and take his mind off the inevitable. Apparently that was considered the strangest response to the situation. I'll take that I suppose. At least I was trying to give him a nice send-off when I didn't have to lift a finger. What did they want me to do, raise the dead instead. Anyway, things got stranger after that when we got a message from seemingly nowhere. It led us to a parking lot with a lot of Halloween drek all over. Flame-erupting manholes and a jaunt through a haunted carnie in a sewer, we came face to face with the center of it all.

Another fraggin' shadow spirit called a Nightmare. After Relay shot at it though things got weird. For one thing, it said that we were being rude. The next thing is it introduced itself as Pumpkin King Jack. After talking to it, turns out it was... changed... evolved... and amicable. In any case, Jack felt like it could run the Halloweeners better (made apparent by the converts that followed him). Babylon made the suggestion, in private to the team, that we try to con Jack into fighting Viktor and taking the Halloweeners over. I'm glad she said it first, if a plan fails never get caught by the fallout. Fortunately, Jack went for the idea hook, line, and sinker. The main idea was to get Jack out of his lair to fight the Halloweeners and for us to "attack" him. If Jack won, we'd be in a position for Jack to be favorable to us because we were actually trying to help him. If Jack got taken out, we'd get paid and Jack could return eventually to harass the gangers again.

By the end of the fight, Viktor was K.O.'ed for trying to shoot Babylon in the face first (typical Halloweener betrayal drek) and luckily fraggin' that up. Jack had been dispersed back to the plane of man. The elf mercs, who it turns out were former Ancients members, were wanted by their former gang. It also turned out that Viktor was possessed by a Nightmare himself as well. So Viktor and the elves were rounded up by myself and Babylon, then Babylon made a call to her friend Argent. Thankfully, we got paid

This makes 3 J's now. I'm starting to wonder if I'm going to celebrate when it reaches an appropriate milestone or have a commemorative coin made.