Whispers of Oblivion
|Whispers of Oblivion|
|Casualties and losses|
|2 Guardians slain.||3 Spirits, disrupted or slain.|
|A blade claimed to contain a shard of a mythical blade, Sohayamaru, is delivered to Asahiro Kunitoshi|
Black Samurai, Canis, Deimos and Shine are summoned to Shiawase' Auburn facility by Asahiro Kunitoshi, who does not introduce himself by name. They accompany the Shiawase princeling to Japan, and there retrieve a powerful weapon foci from the storied Honnō-ji Temple near Kyoto.
Asahiro Kunitoshi has identified Pump King Jack as a major existential and meta-physical threat to the entirety of the 6th World. As a traditionalist samurai and adherent of Bushido, he considers it his solemn duty to destroy Jack, and believes that obtaining Sohayamaru, a powerful weapon foci, is one means to such an end. Naturally, he does not share these motivations with the Runners.
In order to further his goals, he sends four Seattle Runners to Kyoto, Japan, where he believes that a shard of the sword Sohayamaru lies beyond a Torii gate in the famous Honnō-ji Temple. A gate beyond which lies a mirror of the true temple, wreathed in eternal flames believed to symbolically represent the original temple at the time of its destruction at the hands of Shogun OdA Nobunaga during his war against the Sohei warrior monks of Japan. The mirror temple is said to be the resting place of a Sohayamaru shard, believed to be either one of the Five Legendary Swords or perhaps the blade wielded by Oda Nobunaga himself.
Black Samurai, Canis and Shine arrive for their meeting dressed in appropriate corporate fashions and by conventional means designed to avoid attracting attention to their presence. Deimos arrives by Pegasus and wearing full body armour beneath her ceremonial robes. She levitates to the ground outside the Shiawase facility, in and around which guardian and watcher spirits abound. The four are led to a meeting room, in which they converse with Asahiro Kunitoshi, who does not introduce himself either by name or by title, who appears at least somewhat appreciative when Shine addresses him as "Naka-udo-san," the form of address Shiawase corporation uses internally for their Johnsons.
Naka-udo-san explains his needs, and when the runner's agree he grants them five hours to return to the facility, upon which they will depart immediately for Japan in his private het. He instructs the runners to travel light, and bring only that equipment which will fit inside a single foot-locker each. Deimos graciously concedes much of the space in her locker to Shine, so that she can bring the entire contents of a Rating 6 med-kit on the run.
The runners travel inside RPP-treated body-bags, concealed in the cargo hold of the private jet. After several hours of flight time, the jet lands in Tokyo and the team are immediately transported to the forests around by temple by SUV. The driver stops at a drop point some 7 kilometres from the temple site, and informs them that a different colleague of his will return each night at 1am for five days. After which time, if their mission is incomplete, they shall be abandoned to their own devices in Japan.
Finding a camp-site is complicated by Deimos' infected condition, being as she finds herself surrounded by objects of a wooden nature to which she is deathly allergic, but thanks to the map-softs thoughtfully purchased by Black Samurai and Canis before they departed Seattle, a suitable location is soon found. The night passes uneventfully, with Canis spending much of it performing matrix legwork and Deimos watching over the camp.
Canis uncovers a great deal of useful information concerning the site, most pertinently the fact that it's mortal guardians are exclusively awakened personnel -whose strength varies from being merely aware to actual mages- and that it's spiritual guardians are likewise powerful. He also uncovers much of the Temple's history, including discovering that as little as eight years ago, the Torri arch became a gateway through which the mirror-Temple is visible even to mortal, un-awakened eyes, and that a terrifying hellscape with spirits in the shape of oni is visible beyond.
Black Samurai and Shine reprise their familiar role as a romantically involved couple visiting a location of cultural interest (see Fortunate History) in order to tour the location while physically and astrally scouting. Shine understandably has no trouble portraying herself as a culturally clueless gaijin love-interest and Black Samurai equally and understandably finds it very easy to portray himself as her occasionally somewhat exasperated partner. Meanwhile, Canis walks around as a solitary tourist, before finding himself a suitable bench to relax in before inspecting the place closely in the matrix. Meanwhile, Deimos, being dual-natured and this somewhat noticeable given the sheer number of spirits and aware guardians present, watches and monitors events in the astral from the treeline, discovering layers of wards in place around the Temple.
Black Samurai and Shine in particular are fascinated by what they see through the Torri, their astral perception affording them both a far greater level of detail than that afforded to most mundane viewers. They spent some time touring the sacred site, before separating just before Canis begins his host run. Shine departs for the local market in order to acquire food for the night, while Black Samurai remains behind with Deimos to afford Canis some protection should he be discovered. Crucially, Canis is able to obtain the guard roster while remaining un-detected.
The team re-groups at their camp-site and makes their plans. Informed by the knowledge of their pick-up time and guard shift changes, they elect to make their move at 10pm, when the late shift will be tired, the sky will be dark, and allowing them around 3 hours to hike the 7km through the woods (in the dark) to their pick-up point. They decide that Canis will provide overwatch and matrix support from the treeline, protecting and being protected by Deimos. Shine and Black Paladin will infiltrate the temple with the assistance of RPP and a Conceal spell that Deimos will drop before they cross the wards. They will cross through the arch into the mirror-Temple, fetch the sword, and exfiltrate without initiating violence.
Like any plan, it does not survive contact with reality for long. Shine and Black Samurai easily make to the Ward, but before Deimos can return to Canis' position she is spotted by a watcher spirit. Black Paladin and Shine demonstrate their stealth, agility, climbing and crawling prowess and quickly infiltrate the temple while Deimos adopts the behaviour of a scout on the legwork phase of a run. Shine and Black Paladin quickly make it to the mirror-Temple, where Shine activates her weapon-foci Katana. The background count here is aspected to hatred and intolerance, and it all but overwhelms the power of Shine's weapon. Even so, it's enough to keep the hostile, watching spirits back while she and Black Samurai make their way into the shrine.
Outside, reinforcements begin to arrive. Deimos begins to engage the approaching guardians with some of her more subtle, less obvious, combat spells, seeking to incapacitate the guardians by judicious use of the "Accident" ability. But the guardians, being aware, immediately begin to return fire. While Black Samurai and Shine enter the table, the situation in the "true" temple begins to escalate.
Inside the mirror-shrine, the two physical adepts draw on their centring powers to counter-act the locations oppressive background count. Incongruously, the Japanese-born Black Samurai begins singing an Irish Funeral Song, "The Parting Glass", which Shine begins reciting the Iliad in the original homeric greek. The two soon find themselves in the presence not of a shard of a sword, but with the actual blade itself. As soon as Black Samurai lays hands upon it, he is overcome with a bloodthirsty, murderous rage. His deferential demeanour changes instantly to one of power and authority, and without hesitation he throws himself into combat against the oni outside the shrine.
Both of the katana-armed adepts acquit themselves well, Black Samurai slaying or disrupting an oni that wields two iron spheres as weapons, while Shine does the same to a flame-wracked, feline creature. But the two are soon confronted by a terrifying site: a massive spirit, as tall and long as the shrine itself. A centipede-like figure, with a flaming human skull and a hundred or more human legs.
Outside, more reinforcements arrive. Canis' support fire and Deimos' spells keep the Guardians pinned in place and relatively helpless, but Deimos is injured and also badly drained from her efforts at spell-casting. One spell conjures an illusionary gigantic, feminine figure in the sky above the temple, exerting a gravitic force to keep many of the guardians pinned in place. Meanwhile, in the mirror world, Shine has leapt atop the oni's back and is striving to find an opening between the creatures armoured plates and the base of it's skull. Yet it's Black Samurai who produces the death blow with a perfectly aimed blow that severs the spirit's head. He immediately divests himself of the sword, entrusting it to Shine, before the two sprint back to the Torri through a mob of angry, yet hesitant oni-spirits.
The two physical adepts rendevous with Deimos at the Temple Gates and flee into the woods under the cover of Canis' devastatingly accurate firepower. The four manage to complete their trek through the woods without incident, though Deimos collapses into unconsciousness almost as soon as they enter the vehicle. Given the strange effect the blade had upon Black Samurai, Shine refuses to relinquish it into the driver's care and they speed off back to Tokyo.
At the airport, the team are re-united with their Johnson. Asahiro Kunitoshi expresses discontent that the task was performed with such lack of subtlety and informs them he will pay them less than the agreed 30,000 nuyen. Black Samurai, politely informs the Johnson that the contract also stipulated that they return a shard of a blade, not the actual sword Sohayamaru itself. He politely threatens to return the blade to Asahiro Kunitoshi in a somewhat different way from the Johnson intended if they are not recompensed to the agreed amount. A samurai himself, Asahiro Kunitoshi appreciates this brazen display of courage and aggression couched in curtesy and agrees to pay the runners they full sum.
They return to Seattle with Asahiro Kunitoshi in his private jet and, as well as their payment, receive small souvenirs of their journey upon their return to the metroplex.
30,000 Nuyen May be spent to buy any of the following gear:
- - Shiawase weapons (including Shiawase Onmyo, custom collapsible scythe)
- - Vashon Island armor and armor modifications,
- - Shiawase Caduceus Anthroform Autodoc Drone
- - Shiawase i-Doll
- - Drone modifications for the two drones above,
- - 5 Karma
- - 2 CDP
- - +5 Shiawase Reputatio
- Optional Contact: Asahiro Kunitoshi, 6/1 Shiawase Leader (6 RVP or 12 CDP)
Flavour souvenirs (no real monetary or functional value)
- Black Samurai: Hundred year old, well used grindstone reduced to an oval-like, palm-sized and perfectly smooth shape. Claimed to house a shikigami. Has a light astral signature of shintoism.
- Canis: Traditional 2000s pink clamshell phone, popular among high schoolers in Japan back in the day. Works as a burner commlink with a custom form factor and a Tamagotchi still alive on a keyring.
- Deimos: Teacup that had shattered and was then repaired with gold. These are highly respected artisanal pieces among tea ceremony enthusiasts. Bears impressions of Chinese Ming dynasty design.
- Shine: Traditional Japanese woodwork puzzle shaped like a cube, composed of multiple perfectly fitted and lacquered pieces held together by seamless friction
Player After Action Reports (AARs)
Shine: I've experienced existence, however briefly, in what some cultures might describe as a vision of hell. All to retrieve a powerful weapon foci ostensibly forged from a fragment of an even more powerful blade. I'm hardly religious myself, for all that my understanding of magic, limited though it may be, is perceived through the lens of Olympian Greek mythology. Deimos, however, believes and believes hard. Fortunately, I keep my opinions to myself concerning such things, as stoic philosophy demands, and so there were no unpleasant religious debates to be found on this run. In that regard, there was far less tension than I might have imagined, given my ideological break with Solace several months ago. Black Samurai remains an enigmatic professional, but Zenith could learn a thing or two about how to at least *pretend* to have a romantic interest in someone by associating with him. Canis is unfamiliar to me, but it's a rare and valuable skill-set to be both a marksman and a decker.
I remain conflicted concerning this act of desecration. And further conflicted by the bloodthirsty nature of the blade itself. I wonder at what cause might prompt a Shiawase executive to desire such a blade. Is it mere avarice, or is there a greater plan at play here? Despite the tensions concerning our payment, I intend to watch this gentleman closely. A man in possession of -and also *in* the possession of- such a dangerous blade may become a danger of concerning magnitude.
I don't mean to be an alarmist, but we have a surprising number of vampires in our clubhouse. Have...have others noticed this?
Deimos is camping in a forest, unable to be near trees and or sunlight, and--in accordance with proper etiquette, we all just pretend like it's perfectly normal. I suppose my father trained us well on that front. Canis proved to be just as utilitarian as last time, and Shine is--well--Shine. Very kind and ready to learn, but also...who knows.
Across the gate, the blade called to me. When I unsheathed it, it felt...right. In hindsight, it was a corruption--a twisted evil thing...but in the moment. I haven't previously experienced the thrill and rush of bonded blade. After returning, an ally here stateside assisted in converting Hayoto's blade into a focus on my behalf. The rush is similar, but much milder and much less...evil. It's more of a calming, reaffirming feel.
I'll There are many similarities between Shintoism and Druidism--almost two sides of the same coin...but since returning, I'll find a quiet place to meditate. I could use a little centering after this adventure.
If I had a nickel every time I've had to cover the retreat of other runners in a foreign forest, I'd have 2 nickels. I know that it isn't a lot, but it's weird that it's happened twice in such a short period of time.
Anyway, this Deimos seems unsuited for conflict that isn't stacked in her favor, Shine seems to work well with others, and Black Samurai's professional as usual.
It was unfortunate that a loud distraction happened, and that made the J felt like we weren't worth our promised pay. Would have taken him to task, but Black Sam did so, so it's all fine in the end.