Author Topic: Being Nos: The Scholomance (pt 1).  (Read 459 times)

Dal Thrax

  • Chummer
  • **
  • Posts: 108
Being Nos: The Scholomance (pt 1).
« on: (01:15:38/07-14-15) »
[Author's Note.  To deal with divergence, I've assumed that dates in the Shadowrun universe are in N.E. (New Era).  New Era is a symbolic attempt to move back in time before the VITAS epidemic by subtracting several decades from the official date.  While commonly referred to as Haley's Comet, the Comet in the Year of the Comet plotline is a different stellar object.  Inhabitants of the Shadowrun universe will often use A.D. for dates prior to the introduction of N.E.  For example, 1945 could mean either the Second World War or some point after the invention of the integrated circuit.  The poor quality of public education in the sixth world – as well as two Matrix crashes – only adds to the confusion.]

Kelly looked around the basement apartment “what a dump.”

I couldn't say I disagreed with her.  Yvonne's building was old.  A three story tenement built sometime before 1900, it saw Georgetown decline, become fashionable again in the early part of the century, then begin it's long dissent to barren about the same time magic came back into the world.  Sometime, maybe in the late 90s part of the buildings basement got converted into an apartment.  Modern squats are small, basically old efficiency apartments subdivided into several rooms.  This place had space.  Two bedrooms, bathroom, small kitchen and living room.  Sure, it was in a part of town where police didn't venture after dark – because people like me and Kelly lived there.  Not sure I trusted cooking to a range built when dates were still in A.D.  Then again Vampires, well in my case Nosferatu, don't cook that often.  Same goes for ghouls.  At least the refrigerator was working.

“Yeah, but most everything is synthetic.  And it's dark.  Only those windows onto the alley in the front room.”  The various strains of infected carry different burdens.  For Kelly, a ghoul, it meant blindness.  Ghouls can see in the astral – all the infected do all the time – but not the mundane.  Instead they have to navigate by the ghostly astral impression of non-living things.  They don't much like sunlight, but it doesn't cause them to go up in flame.  Vampires on the other hand have allergies to wood and sunlight.  Forget driving a wooden stake through a vampire's heart.  Just lay it on their chest and let the allergic reaction do your dirty work for you.  Stepping onto a wood floor the first thing in the morning is . . . not fun.  Drywall and old carpet beats neoboard every time.

Behind us Yvonne fluttered  nervously.  Literally fluttered, Yvonne's a Pixie.  About a foot and a half tall with butterfly wings.  Pixies are either awakened insects or spirits with a material body – the experts aren't really sure which.  Beyond the height and the wings, she looks striking.  Somewhere in her twenties, light brown skin and curly brown hair.  French-Canadian accent.  If she where a couple feet taller she could be a supermodel.  About the only thing in Pixie sizes are child and doll clothes.  After doing enough of her own alterations, Yvonne decided to open a dress shop.  If you're a rare metatype, or need a version of the latest fashion with body armor, I've heard Yvonne's the person to talk to.  She owns the building – at least as much as anyone not recognized by the UCAS as a sapient species can own a building.  I thought the infected had it hard until I met a Pixie.

Yvonne's aura flickered with emotion.  It might have been less of an issue if everyone in the room hadn't been able to read auras.  Figuring out the waring emotions wasn't hard.  The first time we met, Yvonne nearly refused to have anything to do with me.  The entire infected with viral version undeath thing tends to put people off.  Even if there was an unused storefront between us and her studio on the second floor, she wasn't crazy about having a Nosferatu and a ghoul necromancer in her basement.  Then again, the options for tenants in this part of town are a bit limited.  Besides, Yvonne really needed the money.

I pulled Kelly into the next room “so what do you think?”

“Like I said a dump.  Things are glowing that shouldn't be glowing.” Life glows on the astral, even if its under the carpet or in the walls.

“Can't really afford much on the part time job at Tartarus.”   Blood, even the expired stuff the Red Cross throws out, is expensive.  Jim, the ghoul in charge of Tartarus, found someway to get me onto payroll as an administrative assistant.  Tartarus is a shelter for those infected with Human Metahuman Vamperic Virus.  It's also an abandoned underground parking garage.  I have friends there, but space and privacy are challenging. 

Kelly gave me a sideways look, “you're the one who decided to play Sherlock to Mr. Johnson.”  My first run I figured out who the employers of two teams were, in the same night.  Unfortunately, I opened my big mouth and let everyone know.  Nobody like to find out their tradecraft isn't up to snuff. Mr. Johnson – generic name for anyone who hires runners – might not mind if you, eventually, figure out the corporation her works for.  Sherlock out the executive that hired him and how he plans to screw you – twice in one night without ever meeting the Johnson before – and you get a bit of a reputation.

“Yeah.  Sorry.”

Catching the regret in my aura, Kelly added, “Stop beating yourself up.  Besides you've gotten a job since.”

“Solving crossword puzzles for Tron.  You've had two that involved actually doing something.”

“They were really hard crosswords.” Kelly had a point.  The puzzles were for the finals of the national crossword championships.  Tron's team managed to snag the questions, but not the answers.  Timed how long it took.  Solved them two minutes faster than the lead competitor that wasn't cheating.  Maybe I should solve crosswords for a living.

Looking around Kelly added, “maybe we should to it.  Beats finding an abandoned place somewhere Last time I looked the bounties on Pixies were even higher than Nosferatu.  She's not likely to turn us in.” 

Huh?!?! Yvonne was clearly one hell of a magician but I just couldn't see all Pixies being a threat.  Maybe an annoyance if one went splat on your windshield.  Hey undead mage here, dark humor comes with the package. 

Kelly caught my confusion.  “Paranoia.  The wings.  Some people still think they're insect spirits stealing children's bodies.”

“That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard.”  Insect spirits are nasty things that move into a body and eat the soul that was there.  Sometimes they looking like everyone else, and even keep the memories of their victims.  Other times they make their victims grow wings, or bug eyes, or what have you.  Occasionally the spirit completely destroys the host and ends up simply a spirit.  If the spirit does not destroy the host  it gains a connection to the material.  That means vampires can feed on the spirit's life essence.  Vampiric infected have a number of names for insect spirits.  “Lunch” pretty much sums up the dominant viewpoint.  Yvonne might be many things, but an insect spirit was not one of them.

“When is racism ever not stupid.” Kelly responded.  “With a little work this place could be nice.”

* * *

Kelly tried to suppress a smile as Jen and Yvonne haggled over the lease.  Place was dump that hadn't been lived in for, at least, thirty years.  A quick hand into the coat pocket and up came the virtual brail.  Surprising how many people overlooked how subtle non-visual AROs could be.  Lets see, list of the current residents of Tartarus. Client 72072(a), runway – that would be Jen, seventh client, 2072 N.E. with strain 1(a).  Ok  client 69153, ask Jim, would be her.  Newer arrivals: client 73183, carpenter (journeyman);  73173 plumber (journeyman) and  74013 electrician (master).  Thought those three were involved in construction.  Need to talk to Jim about changing the client codes – those seemed a bit too obvious.         

Five years in Tartarus.   Most residents don't stay that long.  They either end up dead or moving  somewhere else.  A century ago the saying was “D.C. is a Southern city,” when it came to race.  At times, DeeCee felt like the CAS when it came to the infected.  Welcome to the capital of a nation built on the promise of freedom for all, just as long as you're the right ethnic and meta-type.  Infected rights?  Forget about it.  Hard enough just keeping the city council from putting out a bounty on trolls.

For Kelly, it started at fourteen on a camping trip with friends at Shenandoah National Park.  Park should have been safe enough.  Somebody dumped a pack of ferals in the middle of a tourist campground.  Political terrorism, make a point about us and them.  Yeah, point heard loud and clear chummer, ferals are dangerous.  Ever see Jen go into one's head and bring the person back out?  Didn't think so.  Even if you're a mystic adept, a tree branch just isn't going to hold off a pack of feral ghouls.  Four dead, another five infected.  Medivac was to DeeCee.

The worst thing was being alone.  First the fever and then the pain.  The CAS denied exit visas to the families of the victims.  Too much risk of spreading the infection they said.  It wasn't like her parents could really talk to her after the change.  Once people found out you had a ghoul in the family, they started to wonder why you weren't infected.  Maybe, you're a carrier.  Best not to take chances and just fire you.  After all, if god didn't hate you then your family would be infection free, right?

The CAS revokes the System Identification Numbers of the infected.  No SIN, no passport, no way home.  Luckily a social worker at the hospital knew about Tartarus.  Magician, Adept, Mystic Adept didn't really matter.  Tartarus needed all the awakened help it could get.  Five years on a cot.  Five years  of living in a place where everyone read auras.  Then again maybe moving in with somebody with a certified medical assensing certificate – that means she's really good at reading auras – wasn't that great an idea if you wanted aura privacy.  Oh well, Jen would still make a cool roommate. 

A nod from Jen indicated that she'd finished negotiating with Yvonne.  A couple minutes later they had an apartment.  Time to summon up some ghosts to check what work needed to be done before bothering Larry, Curly and Shemp – they picked the names.  A beeping comlink put that idea on hold.

“Jen, Hansen and Laura want to know if we want to catch some music.”

Jen rolled her eyes, “what does she see in him?  Not sure I can do masks for four people.”

“Don't worry about it.  Awakened coffee shop near the University.  Hansen says they're use to metasapines.  Is the coffee going to be a problem?”

Jen turned around “no.  I'll just whiff and remember.”

* * *

Kelly mentally cursed herself for not asking more questions as Jen looked around worriedly.  Wonderful ambiance.  Bunch of real wood tables and benches.  Wood and vampires are not friends.  Jen pulled her the hood of her daycloak up over her head.  Not for the last time Kelly wished she could see her friend in the mundane.  Must have looked cute with that black satin cloak over Nosferatu white skin. 

Things didn't get much better when they went up to order their drinks.  The woman behind the counter took one look at the two of them and promptly responded “I'm sorry but we can't serve you.”

“Oh come on.”

The woman looked apologetic, “look, sorry but the health department won't let us serve you.  As for your friend, we don't carry what she drinks.  Look, maybe if you went around back we could give you something when nobody is watching.”

Yeah, service around back.  Shop was old.  Wonder if this place ever served whites in front and everyone else around back.  “You're running a shop on the boarder of a Z-zone.”  A quick message from Jen flashed under her hand, “there's a naga with tie-dye scales in the next booth.  Come off it.”

“Look I'd like to serve you. The city says I can't serve ghouls.  Doesn't matter that coffee is not uh other things.”

Before she could get another word in Jen chimed up “I'll have, let see two dark mochas, an espresso and a cappuccino please.  Seems like the city forgot to list Vampires on the food and drink ordinance.”

“But. . .”

“What I do with them after you sell them to me is my problem, not yours.”

Jen, Jen can have a vindictive streak at times.  Sitting down at the table she called up that little ball of Fuzz air spirit she bound.  Hermetics say that spirits reflect their summoner.  For Fuzzball it might be true, cute little bit of fluff until you really look at it and realize that it's horribly powerful.  Jen quietly pushed one of the mochas over too Fuzzball.

“Coffee.  You give fuzzball coffeeeeee!.  Coffee, coffee, coffee COFFEE!”  Yeah, Jen gave an air spirit coffee.  That's like giving a toddle coffee.  It means you're, probably, not a good person.  As fuzzball zoomed, literally, through the roof several of the awakened patrons started nervously eying the door.  Served the shop right.               
         
* * *

Jen tried to relax and let the music wash over her.  It felt like everyone in the place had stared at her at least once.  Vampires look, well like everyone else.  Nosferatu are hairless and gaunt.  They're also extremely rare in North America.  Not surprisingly vamp-posser favor the Nos look, it stands out in a crowd.  The unawakened saw a Vamp-chic girl sitting at a table with three ghouls.  After the third message telling her to “watch out” or “Don't do it.  Becoming a Ghoul will change you forever” a quick comlink adjustment broadcasting “I really am Nosferatu, see this link for what that means, thanks” helped head off any more concerned messages.  Probably not the best idea, but police response times around here could run into the hours, at least until the students got back after the summer.

The awakened patrons didn't need the ARO cliff's notes.  The aura of the infected is . . . distinctive.  Caused several practitioners here for the mustic to do a double take.  Nosferatu, just aren't that common North America.  Too bad aura masking, thats a way to hide your aura, still didn't seem to work.  A little less attention might be nice.

Just then a guy palmed an ARO card as he passed by.   “Haley, is that you.  I need to talk.  William.”  Oh boy. 

Looked like the band was taking a quick break.  Good time to duck out. “I'll be back in a couple minutes.  Need to go outside for a breath of fresh air without everyone staring at me.”

Kelly looked up, “Be careful, this isn't the safest part of town.  Want some company?”

Sometimes a trode net comes in hand.  My voice said “No.  Don't worry.  I'll be fine.”  The instant message said “discrete cover.  Guy over there on the left wants to meet.   Black magician.  Expect eyes.”     

Some people have a monkey on their back.  I have a raven on my shoulder.   Wandering away from the smokers and further into the parking lot a familiar weight settled down.

**You figured out aura masking two weeks ago.  Stop being a perfectionist.** Spoketh the raven.

I focused my thoughts “bug off bird brain.”

**Is that any way to treat your mentor spirit?**

“I'm not who I use to be.”

**Yes, you now live with carrion eaters.  Definitely an improvement.** The raven croaked.

With the arrival of will, the weight of the raven spirit vanished.  It looked like William found no problem transitioning from prep school to frat boy.  If he didn't dress well enough to be out of place, he still seemed at odds with the areas neo-hippy ambiance.  The elf's smile might be disarming, if you'd never seen what lurked behind it.  “Haley.  I heard that you were dead.  So glad to see you alive.”

“What do you want William?”

“Maybe just to talk?  Right, I guess things were never good between us at school.”

Well that was an understatement, “cut the drek, get to the point or go away.”

“Look, I heard you got out.  I want out.  The lodge . . . the black lodge finally picked a fight it can't win.  They're closing the school.  A little bird told me you knew people now.  Could maybe get me out.”
That bird had better not have been a Raven.  “So if you want out, go.  Disappear.  You're a student, it isn't going to be hard.  Drop the black magic bulldrek and start being the hermetic you're pretending to be.  Black magic isn't any more powerful than any other tradition, it just tells you it is.”

Will looked sheepish, “there are other issues.”

“You joined the lodge.  You're a dead man for even thinking about leaving.”  One does not cross the black lodge and expect to live.  Witness exhibit A, Nosferatu, by many measures clinically dead.  Actually, the lodge was aiming for all the way dead.  The HMHVV infection cleared up the nasty case of VITAS – that's a deadly plague by the way – that they infected me with.  Looking back at Will “if you have a plan it better be good.”

“I know somebody with connection on the Hill.  He can setup another SIN for me.  A good one with all the right information in the right databanks.  If I'm going to disappear I need to break the ritual binding me to the lodge.” 

So what was he not mentioning.  “And does the lodge have a ritual link to you?”

William looked shocked that I thought of that.  Considering our history I have to say I was surprised.  William all but mumbled “my senior thesis.  It's still at the Scholomance.  If they move it from the vault, I'll never find it again.”

Well that explained why Will wanted to make a move now.  An arcane thesis, the product of an initiation rite, creates a mystical link to its creator.  Oh and it also needs to have your real name on it do any good..  This could be doable but difficult.  Meeting William's gaze the next lines came easily “nothing's free in this world chummer.  How much do you have to make this happen.”

Will threw out a large number.  I doubled it.  Will agreed, with an escrow.
Warning: most likely posting from a tablet.

Dal Thrax

  • Chummer
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  • Posts: 108
Re: Being Nos: The Scholomance (pt 1).
« Reply #1 on: (01:17:31/07-14-15) »
* * *

Max eyed the room nervously as Neil made a point of cleaning his cyberspurs.  Tron, the teams technomancer couldn't help shoot me a smile.  Samantha, the rigger, looked the least like she wanted to be there.  I suppose most runners didn't know that you could rent out conference rooms downtown.

Have you ever heard of black dipper babies?  Awakened children from families with awakened parents.  Black magic isn't, strictly, against the law.  Many other practitioners consider it abhorrent.  Creates a problem, what do you do with the children of black magicians.  A child saying the wrong thing to the wrong person can cause no end of trouble.  Black magicians are still human, for at least some values of human.  Simply doing away with the kids isn't, normally, an option.  Probably best not to tell that to the team though.

“This is a simple item extraction.  The less noise the better.  I need an item retrieved from a vault, none of the other contents of the vault are to be harmed.  The item is housed at the Rosthenwald Academy in Pennsylvania.  Its a non-corporately affiliated prep school.  Two hundred regular students and about twenty special ones.  Special in this case means awakened.  Be careful, you won't find them in the yearbook.  Like other prep schools the yearbook doesn't list special ed kids.”

Neil looked up, “so these are mages dyslexia?  Seems a bit stuck up not to include them?”

Hum, perceptive group.  “For the most part no.  Kids from high up corporate families who's awakening has made them downwardly mobile.”

Now it was Max's turn, “what do you mean downwardly mobile?  Are the kids mentor spirits a problem or something?”

Well I could think of one that certainly was.  “How many corporations do you know of with mages for CEOs?  To say there is a glass ceiling when it comes to the awakened might be a bit of an understatement.”  I heard Max, he's an ork, mutter something about metahumans and concrete floors.

“Corps are happy to employ security mages or researchers.  Mages in the boardroom not so much.  The academy's program for gifted individuals includes prep classes in ways to make major nuyen other than being a corporate officer.  Finance, law and medicine mostly.  They also have a nice political science program.  Awakened students go from the Academy to places like Harvard, Yale or Georgetown.

“The school's shutting down after this semester, embezzlement problems.  The item needs to be retrieved before it can be moved to another location.  You get to pick the time, but the removal has to be timed with another run.  There's only a couple of days left in the semester.  I'd suggest waiting for the students to leave.”

“Here's a dossier on the complexes visible physical and magical security in your folders.  Also, our world being the nasty place it is, each of the teachers have a handle.  It's part of the prep program.  Students who figure out how to manipulate or blackmail their teachers get better grades.  Welcome to corporate feudalism, don't you just love it.”

“I'll be with you to coordinate . . .”

At that Max raised his hand “I'm sorry Ms. Johnson but you really don't have experience with this sort of thing.  Arcane object snatch and grab, we've done this before.  You have what, one run, under your belt and almost died.  Anyone dual natured is going to be a liability if we run into wards.  Let us handle this.  You stay alive so we can get paid.”

“Ok, so you'll take the job?”

Now it was Sam's turn to chime in “before we do, what's the Scholomance and the Tenth?”

I'd hoped she'd forgotten about that.  “Not relevant to this run.”
 has issues with both conductivity and gel impacts – to try for a knockout, or load up on expensive armor piercing bullets.  Most shadowrunners favor the non-lethal option.  Looks like these guys were playing for keeps.

As my body put itself back together, Kelly grabbed the commlinks off the two hostiles nearest us.  As I watched she produced two lead line bags from a pocket in her jacket.  Always carry signal blocking bags with you on a run, you never know when you're going to find something you want to take with you. 

* * *
We raced through the streets and sidewalks of the spawl on machines that should not be.  Simple bicycles, with ghosts possessing them and keeping us from being seen.  Fuzzball's magic amplified the speed to something truly horrific. Spirits with power over movement have been known to cause cars to go supersonic, often to the detriment of their occupants.  Riding a flimsy bicycle at upwards of a hundred kilometers per hour is terrifying.  With Kelly's bicycle spitting flame from the demon she bound within it our choice of getaway vehicles didn't seem as ridiculous as it had earlier. The sight of the storage room brought as sudden wave of relief as we peddled up.

Inside the ten by twenty unit we found Hansen eying Will nervously.  Will was already setting up the wards for the ritual needed to break with the lodge.  Blood – not human – splayed onto the walls in various arcane symbols.  The ritual practices of a black magician can be . . . disturbing.  The air conditioning of the climate controlled unit helped to relive some of the stench, but not by much.  Drek, that might be a problem when people arrived in the morning.

Anytime you think things are under control on a run it means things are about to get much worse.  I sat down to check some e-mail as a sprite, its a kind of matrix spirit technomancers use, appeared and handed me a file.  A quick look at the file showed things were bad, very, very, bad.  Time for a quick message to the rest of the team “Tron's team got hit on the way out, after they thought they were clear.  Some kind of roadblock.”

Ever unhelpful Hansen shot back a reply “So yeah, this guy's toast.  Lets get out of here.”

Kelly chimed in “if a sprite sent you the message it means that Tron is still alive. “

As we texted a sudden boom announced the presence of an eagle, if eagles had five foot wingspans, red feathers,  and lightning streaking from their claws.  I looked up at the thunderbird, a spiritual  embodiment of the barely contained fury of nature, that had just appeared.   

It wasn't a strong spirit but it wasn't a weak one either.  Unlike bullets, damage from magic doesn't regenerate.  If that thing started shooting lightning, I wasn't going to be able to be of much help.  It looked like it was trying to make up its mind what to do.  Time to take a risk.

“Tell your master that I've waited a long time for revenge.  He's mine.  If there's anything left after I'm done, your summoner is welcome to him.”

The bird shot me a quizzical look “strong words, too bad you can't back them up.”

Spirit can either be called up or bound.  For either type, there is only so much you can ask of them.  A called spirit serves only until the next sunrise or sunset.  A bound spirit until its services are exhausted.  And no chummer, you can't wish for more wishes.  I sent a silent message for the two spirits I had bound, Fuzzball and a smaller air spirit to attend, as well as the spirit of man I'd called up earlier in the evening.

I'm not exactly an imposing figure.  Just a bit over five feet tall with a body frozen at sixteen. I'm actually nineteen thanks for asking, and not I won't appear in your trideo.  Most people don't quake in their boots when they see me unless they have a phobia about the infected.  Fuzzball, a little will'o the wisp, is extremely intimidating if you see him on the astral.  Behind me I heard soft thumps as the gloves literally came off for Kelly and Hansen.  Most Ghouls, even those who go in for Ghoul pride like Kelly, keep their claws sheathed in some kind of glove most of the time.  Beats accidentally tearing something up.  Ok let's see if I guessed right about this things orders.

“Seems like I can.  Perhaps you should leave?”

The bird glared at us then disappeared.

Will stood slack jawed as Kelly asked “what just happened?”

“I guessed the spirit had orders to kill Will if he seemed disloyal or save him if he was in trouble – as long as it could do so without getting dissipated.  Come on.  We have to get Will behind some permanent wards before that thing gets back with friends.”  Glaring at Will I added “it looks like the other team got into trouble.  I don't suppose you can cut the escrow loose, this just got expensive.”

Will gave a shrug, “I can release the contingency.  The escrows revert in thirty days without evidence of completion.  Sorry, between you and the forger I'm tapped out.”

Rats.  The budget for this thing was two hundred thousand nuyen.  The team sent to get the ritual link to Will cost a hundred and twenty, with half paid up front.  Between our pay and expenses for two teams, the only thing left was a twenty thousand nuyen contingency fund and sixty for the other team being held in escrow.  Adding insult to injury, tapping the contingency meant that I wasn't going to get paid for playing Johnson for this drekstorm. Will could go hang himself for all I cared but I wanted Tron back.
Max looked around “maybe you'd be more comfortable with a team you didn't know.”

Perhaps, if there was enough time to vet them.  Ok time for some honesty “the Scholomance is what the awakened students call the school.  Comes out of Romanian folklore, an academy of the dark arts.   Think an anti-Hogwarts.   It also use to be a place in an old MMO.  The tenth is part of the Romanian legend.  There are ten students taught by the devil.  Nine students leave, the devil keeps the tenth as his fee.”

**As his aide-de-camp who will forge lightning and ride dragons.**

Thinking loudly “not now birdbrain.”  And outloud to the team, “it's just a way to encourage students not to drop o has issues with both conductivity and gel impacts – to try for a knockout, or load up on expensive armor piercing bullets.  Most shadowrunners favor the non-lethal option.  Looks like these guys were playing for keeps.

As my body put itself back together, Kelly grabbed the commlinks off the two hostiles nearest us.  As I watched she produced two lead line bags from a pocket in her jacket.  Always carry signal blocking bags with you on a run, you never know when you're going to find something you want to take with you. 

* * *
We raced through the streets and sidewalks of the spawl on machines that should not be.  Simple bicycles, with ghosts possessing them and keeping us from being seen.  Fuzzball's magic amplified the speed to something truly horrific. Spirits with power over movement have been known to cause cars to go supersonic, often to the detriment of their occupants.  Riding a flimsy bicycle at upwards of a hundred kilometers per hour is terrifying.  With Kelly's bicycle spitting flame from the demon she bound within it our choice of getaway vehicles didn't seem as ridiculous as it had earlier. The sight of the storage room brought as sudden wave of relief as we peddled up.

Inside the ten by twenty unit we found Hansen eying Will nervously.  Will was already setting up the wards for the ritual needed to break with the lodge.  Blood – not human – splayed onto the walls in various arcane symbols.  The ritual practices of a black magician can be . . . disturbing.  The air conditioning of the climate controlled unit helped to relive some of the stench, but not by much.  Drek, that might be a problem when people arrived in the morning.

Anytime you think things are under control on a run it means things are about to get much worse.  I sat down to check some e-mail as a sprite, its a kind of matrix spirit technomancers use, appeared and handed me a file.  A quick look at the file showed things were bad, very, very, bad.  Time for a quick message to the rest of the team “Tron's team got hit on the way out, after they thought they were clear.  Some kind of roadblock.”

Ever unhelpful Hansen shot back a reply “So yeah, this guy's toast.  Lets get out of here.”

Kelly chimed in “if a sprite sent you the message it means that Tron is still alive. “

As we texted a sudden boom announced the presence of an eagle, if eagles had five foot wingspans, red feathers,  and lightning streaking from their claws.  I looked up at the thunderbird, a spiritual  embodiment of the barely contained fury of nature, that had just appeared.   

It wasn't a strong spirit but it wasn't a weak one either.  Unlike bullets, damage from magic doesn't regenerate.  If that thing started shooting lightning, I wasn't going to be able to be of much help.  It looked like it was trying to make up its mind what to do.  Time to take a risk.

“Tell your master that I've waited a long time for revenge.  He's mine.  If there's anything left after I'm done, your summoner is welcome to him.”

The bird shot me a quizzical look “strong words, too bad you can't back them up.”

Spirit can either be called up or bound.  For either type, there is only so much you can ask of them.  A called spirit serves only until the next sunrise or sunset.  A bound spirit until its services are exhausted.  And no chummer, you can't wish for more wishes.  I sent a silent message for the two spirits I had bound, Fuzzball and a smaller air spirit to attend, as well as the spirit of man I'd called up earlier in the evening.

I'm not exactly an imposing figure.  Just a bit over five feet tall with a body frozen at sixteen. I'm actually nineteen thanks for asking, and not I won't appear in your trideo.  Most people don't quake in their boots when they see me unless they have a phobia about the infected.  Fuzzball, a little will'o the wisp, is extremely intimidating if you see him on the astral.  Behind me I heard soft thumps as the gloves literally came off for Kelly and Hansen.  Most Ghouls, even those who go in for Ghoul pride like Kelly, keep their claws sheathed in some kind of glove most of the time.  Beats accidentally tearing something up.  Ok let's see if I guessed right about this things orders.

“Seems like I can.  Perhaps you should leave?”

The bird glared at us then disappeared.

Will stood slack jawed as Kelly asked “what just happened?”

“I guessed the spirit had orders to kill Will if he seemed disloyal or save him if he was in trouble – as long as it could do so without getting dissipated.  Come on.  We have to get Will behind some permanent wards before that thing gets back with friends.”  Glaring at Will I added “it looks like the other team got into trouble.  I don't suppose you can cut the escrow loose, this just got expensive.”

Will gave a shrug, “I can release the contingency.  The escrows revert in thirty days without evidence of completion.  Sorry, between you and the forger I'm tapped out.”

Rats.  The budget for this thing was two hundred thousand nuyen.  The team sent to get the ritual link to Will cost a hundred and twenty, with half paid up front.  Between our pay and expenses for two teams, the only thing left was a twenty thousand nuyen contingency fund and sixty for the other team being held in escrow.  Adding insult to injury, tapping the contingency meant that I wasn't going to get paid for playing Johnson for this drekstorm. Will could go hang himself for all I cared but I wanted Tron back.ut.  When your parents have all but disowned you and everyone around you is getting an early start on playing power games, life can get a bit rough.” 

The next hour was spent negotiating over money and answering the teams questions about security. 

* * *
Warning: most likely posting from a tablet.

Dal Thrax

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Re: Being Nos: The Scholomance (pt 1).
« Reply #2 on: (01:18:12/07-14-15) »


I looked up at the black obelisk of the Anacostia monument.  This is really where it all ended.  When VITAS hit the capital there simply was not enough medicine.  If you got sick and got treatment you might live, maybe.   Without treatment VITAS is a death sentence.  When it all came down, the U.S. government put old D.C. under martial law and sent the medicine to clinic setup in the white areas of town.  Everyone else got left on their own.  Fifty percent mortality rate in the city.  Worldwide the rate was only thirty percent. Anacostia was among the hardest hit neighborhoods. After Anacostia, the United States couldn't continue as it had.  From Anacostia it was only a matter of time before Denver and the end of the U.S.A.

Needless to say, the Anacostia monument didn't get much traffic. Especially in the early evening Simple plan.  Will parks and meets me at the monument.  Kelly follows behind to make sure he isn't being followed.  We then get into a different car and all drive out of here.  At least that was the first layer of the plan.  There was a bit more going on than that.

For once I was not running an invisibility spell.  Kelly's actually much better at holding spells than I am.  Her mentor spirit has a problem with its followers disguising their natures with masking spells.  That only includes masquerading as the uninfected.  Using stealth spells is fine.  I like invisibility, Kelly uses a don't notice me.  Don't notice me's are great for sneaking around, they can even help in the astral, but not so good when you need to vanish.  For what we were doing tonight, a don't notice me was perfect.

There are a number of way magicians divide themselves.  Some have spirits that can manifest.  Need another set of hands, or horns.  Manifest traditions have you covered.  The other way to handle spirits – well besides insect spirits – is possession.  A spirit can possess an object or person.  A spirit actually has to be present in the material world to use its powers.  Manifest spirits are great when you need an extra pair of hands, but not so good if you don't want to be seen with a thunderbird hanging over your shoulder.  Possessing spirits can hide in a locket or what have you.  My tradition uses manifesting spirits.  Ghoul necromancy – the relatively young tradition Kelly uses for her magic – does possession.

The right type of spirit can cast a spell or two, as long as the summoner knows the spell to incorporate into the summoning formula.  Kelly had one ghost in her gun, using a spell to give it supernatural accuracy, another in a locket holding spells on both of us to help avoid bullets and a third in her armored jacket with orders to shred any spell that tried to target us.  I'd also stashed a spirit of man behind the monument – it's tied in with the memory of enough suffering to have an astral presence of its own – running an enhanced reflexes enchantment on the both of us.  Topping it all off Kelly had an extended range detect enemies spell up as well as a stealth spell.  Or to put it another way, between enough we had enough magic running to take on a small platoon.  And yes – it was most definitely a trap.     

Will pulled up and got out of his car.  A couple minutes later two men arrived in a sedan.  Kelly's detect enemies spell caught the third one in the brush.  She promptly shot the location to me through her commlink.  What happened next could only be called completely insane.

As the path Will was on curved back towards the road an old hatchback suddenly pulled up.  The driver flung open the passenger door and Will dove in.  As Hansen roared away with Will in his car, the two men following Will pulled guns.  They were fast, faster than any unaugmented human.  Wired reflexes try to fake what magic can do.   Kelly and I were faster.  I hit the mage trying to play sniper with a clout spell up has issues with both conductivity and gel impacts – to try for a knockout, or load up on expensive armor piercing bullets.  Most shadowrunners favor the non-lethal option.  Looks like these guys were playing for keeps.

As my body put itself back together, Kelly grabbed the commlinks off the two hostiles nearest us.  As I watched she produced two lead line bags from a pocket in her jacket.  Always carry signal blocking bags with you on a run, you never know when you're going to find something you want to take with you. 

* * *
We raced through the streets and sidewalks of the spawl on machines that should not be.  Simple bicycles, with ghosts possessing them and keeping us from being seen.  Fuzzball's magic amplified the speed to something truly horrific. Spirits with power over movement have been known to cause cars to go supersonic, often to the detriment of their occupants.  Riding a flimsy bicycle at upwards of a hundred kilometers per hour is terrifying.  With Kelly's bicycle spitting flame from the demon she bound within it our choice of getaway vehicles didn't seem as ridiculous as it had earlier. The sight of the storage room brought as sudden wave of relief as we peddled up.

Inside the ten by twenty unit we found Hansen eying Will nervously.  Will was already setting up the wards for the ritual needed to break with the lodge.  Blood – not human – splayed onto the walls in various arcane symbols.  The ritual practices of a black magician can be . . . disturbing.  The air conditioning of the climate controlled unit helped to relive some of the stench, but not by much.  Drek, that might be a problem when people arrived in the morning.

Anytime you think things are under control on a run it means things are about to get much worse.  I sat down to check some e-mail as a sprite, its a kind of matrix spirit technomancers use, appeared and handed me a file.  A quick look at the file showed things were bad, very, very, bad.  Time for a quick message to the rest of the team “Tron's team got hit on the way out, after they thought they were clear.  Some kind of roadblock.”

Ever unhelpful Hansen shot back a reply “So yeah, this guy's toast.  Lets get out of here.”

Kelly chimed in “if a sprite sent you the message it means that Tron is still alive. “

As we texted a sudden boom announced the presence of an eagle, if eagles had five foot wingspans, red feathers,  and lightning streaking from their claws.  I looked up at the thunderbird, a spiritual  embodiment of the barely contained fury of nature, that had just appeared.   

It wasn't a strong spirit but it wasn't a weak one either.  Unlike bullets, damage from magic doesn't regenerate.  If that thing started shooting lightning, I wasn't going to be able to be of much help.  It looked like it was trying to make up its mind what to do.  Time to take a risk.

“Tell your master that I've waited a long time for revenge.  He's mine.  If there's anything left after I'm done, your summoner is welcome to him.”

The bird shot me a quizzical look “strong words, too bad you can't back them up.”

Spirit can either be called up or bound.  For either type, there is only so much you can ask of them.  A called spirit serves only until the next sunrise or sunset.  A bound spirit until its services are exhausted.  And no chummer, you can't wish for more wishes.  I sent a silent message for the two spirits I had bound, Fuzzball and a smaller air spirit to attend, as well as the spirit of man I'd called up earlier in the evening.

I'm not exactly an imposing figure.  Just a bit over five feet tall with a body frozen at sixteen. I'm actually nineteen thanks for asking, and not I won't appear in your trideo.  Most people don't quake in their boots when they see me unless they have a phobia about the infected.  Fuzzball, a little will'o the wisp, is extremely intimidating if you see him on the astral.  Behind me I heard soft thumps as the gloves literally came off for Kelly and Hansen.  Most Ghouls, even those who go in for Ghoul pride like Kelly, keep their claws sheathed in some kind of glove most of the time.  Beats accidentally tearing something up.  Ok let's see if I guessed right about this things orders.

“Seems like I can.  Perhaps you should leave?”

The bird glared at us then disappeared.

Will stood slack jawed as Kelly asked “what just happened?”

“I guessed the spirit had orders to kill Will if he seemed disloyal or save him if he was in trouble – as long as it could do so without getting dissipated.  Come on.  We have to get Will behind some permanent wards before that thing gets back with friends.”  Glaring at Will I added “it looks like the other team got into trouble.  I don't suppose you can cut the escrow loose, this just got expensive.”

Will gave a shrug, “I can release the contingency.  The escrows revert in thirty days without evidence of completion.  Sorry, between you and the forger I'm tapped out.”

Rats.  The budget for this thing was two hundred thousand nuyen.  The team sent to get the ritual link to Will cost a hundred and twenty, with half paid up front.  Between our pay and expenses for two teams, the only thing left was a twenty thousand nuyen contingency fund and sixty for the other team being held in escrow.  Adding insult to injury, tapping the contingency meant that I wasn't going to get paid for playing Johnson for this drekstorm. Will could go hang himself for all I cared but I wanted Tron back.side the head just milliseconds before Kelly put two stick and shock rounds into the nervous systems of the guys with guns.

It should have been smooth, it wasn't.  Only one of the three went down.  I felt more than saw the lightning bolt spell forming at Kelly.  A killing jolt of electricity should have run through her body.  Instead there was a loud pop, followed by a wimper, as Kelly, her bound ghost and I all ripped the incoming spell apart with countermagic. Kelly put another round into the closest of the three that was still upright while the spirit I'd called stuck his head out from behind the monument and fired off a final clout at sniper-mage.

Only after the last of the assailants hit the ground did I realize that I'd been hit, badly.  What do you do when you're shaking inside?  Bluff.  I held out my hand under the wound and let the virus that made me Nosferatu knit my body back together.

As my flesh regenerated, it feels kind of squiggly when that happens, the bullet fell into my hand.  Armor piercing round.  With the advances in body armor over the last century or so, most hits with regular ammo are non-lethal.  You can either go with it, using electric stick'n shock and gel rounds – synthlar fiber has issues with both conductivity and gel impacts – to try for a knockout, or load up on expensive armor piercing bullets.  Most shadowrunners favor the non-lethal option.  Looks like these guys were playing for keeps.

As my body put itself back together, Kelly grabbed the commlinks off the two hostiles nearest us.  As I watched she produced two lead line bags from a pocket in her jacket.  Always carry signal blocking bags with you on a run, you never know when you're going to find something you want to take with you. 

* * *
We raced through the streets and sidewalks of the spawl on machines that should not be.  Simple bicycles, with ghosts possessing them and keeping us from being seen.  Fuzzball's magic amplified the speed to something truly horrific. Spirits with power over movement have been known to cause cars to go supersonic, often to the detriment of their occupants.  Riding a flimsy bicycle at upwards of a hundred kilometers per hour is terrifying.  With Kelly's bicycle spitting flame from the demon she bound within it our choice of getaway vehicles didn't seem as ridiculous as it had earlier. The sight of the storage room brought as sudden wave of relief as we peddled up.

Inside the ten by twenty unit we found Hansen eying Will nervously.  Will was already setting up the wards for the ritual needed to break with the lodge.  Blood – not human – splayed onto the walls in various arcane symbols.  The ritual practices of a black magician can be . . . disturbing.  The air conditioning of the climate controlled unit helped to relive some of the stench, but not by much.  Drek, that might be a problem when people arrived in the morning.

Anytime you think things are under control on a run it means things are about to get much worse.  I sat down to check some e-mail as a sprite, its a kind of matrix spirit technomancers use, appeared and handed me a file.  A quick look at the file showed things were bad, very, very, bad.  Time for a quick message to the rest of the team “Tron's team got hit on the way out, after they thought they were clear.  Some kind of roadblock.”

Ever unhelpful Hansen shot back a reply “So yeah, this guy's toast.  Lets get out of here.”

Kelly chimed in “if a sprite sent you the message it means that Tron is still alive. “

As we texted a sudden boom announced the presence of an eagle, if eagles had five foot wingspans, red feathers,  and lightning streaking from their claws.  I looked up at the thunderbird, a spiritual  embodiment of the barely contained fury of nature, that had just appeared.   

It wasn't a strong spirit but it wasn't a weak one either.  Unlike bullets, damage from magic doesn't regenerate.  If that thing started shooting lightning, I wasn't going to be able to be of much help.  It looked like it was trying to make up its mind what to do.  Time to take a risk.

“Tell your master that I've waited a long time for revenge.  He's mine.  If there's anything left after I'm done, your summoner is welcome to him.”

The bird shot me a quizzical look “strong words, too bad you can't back them up.”

Spirit can either be called up or bound.  For either type, there is only so much you can ask of them.  A called spirit serves only until the next sunrise or sunset.  A bound spirit until its services are exhausted.  And no chummer, you can't wish for more wishes.  I sent a silent message for the two spirits I had bound, Fuzzball and a smaller air spirit to attend, as well as the spirit of man I'd called up earlier in the evening.

I'm not exactly an imposing figure.  Just a bit over five feet tall with a body frozen at sixteen. I'm actually nineteen thanks for asking, and not I won't appear in your trideo.  Most people don't quake in their boots when they see me unless they have a phobia about the infected.  Fuzzball, a little will'o the wisp, is extremely intimidating if you see him on the astral.  Behind me I heard soft thumps as the gloves literally came off for Kelly and Hansen.  Most Ghouls, even those who go in for Ghoul pride like Kelly, keep their claws sheathed in some kind of glove most of the time.  Beats accidentally tearing something up.  Ok let's see if I guessed right about this things orders.

“Seems like I can.  Perhaps you should leave?”

The bird glared at us then disappeared.

Will stood slack jawed as Kelly asked “what just happened?”

“I guessed the spirit had orders to kill Will if he seemed disloyal or save him if he was in trouble – as long as it could do so without getting dissipated.  Come on.  We have to get Will behind some permanent wards before that thing gets back with friends.”  Glaring at Will I added “it looks like the other team got into trouble.  I don't suppose you can cut the escrow loose, this just got expensive.”

Will gave a shrug, “I can release the contingency.  The escrows revert in thirty days without evidence of completion.  Sorry, between you and the forger I'm tapped out.”

Rats.  The budget for this thing was two hundred thousand nuyen.  The team sent to get the ritual link to Will cost a hundred and twenty, with half paid up front.  Between our pay and expenses for two teams, the only thing left was a twenty thousand nuyen contingency fund and sixty for the other team being held in escrow.  Adding insult to injury, tapping the contingency meant that I wasn't going to get paid for playing Johnson for this drekstorm. Will could go hang himself for all I cared but I wanted Tron back.
Warning: most likely posting from a tablet.