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« on: <08-22-13/1326:24> »
Po' boy looked into the mirror, wondering at how things had gotten to this point.  If you had asked him when he had started running back when he'd first come out of the safe haven his grandparents and parents had carefully maintained in Glow City.  Most of the people leaving there had headed for the forests in the Salish-Sidhe Council.  He, however had been young, stupid and looking for a fight.  So he went into the city, to fix things.  At least that's what he told himself when he was drunk and self-delusional.  To be honest, trying to bring some semblance of balance to Seattle was a challenge, an impossible one that he couldn't resist.  His first team had died when they had gotten on the wrong side of Aztechnology.  So he'd done the other thing druids tend to be good at.  Revenge.  But since his target didn't care for anything beyond his ambition,  it had ended up being a relatively bloodless revenge.  Funny that the person he framed had been given an alibi by a completely different set of criminal charges.  But, as far as the shadows knew, Uath MacImmoman had died with his team.  Perhaps not the most noble end, but a fitting one, he supposed.

A few years down the line, he'd met a new team.  New friends, really.  They'd challenged the gods of this world and gotten away with it.  He'd met a friend he could respect, that pushed him forward just by being a better man.  Of course, the two had a similar goal, but vastly different methods of reaching them.  The Padre gave people hope, and tried to inspire it.  Po' Boy just kept going forward, taking out the evil in front of him.  His uncle left the enclave, and began setting up a Grove in Seattle, at Po' Boy's request.  And his uncle had resurrected Uath MacImmoman.  It had been a title he'd fought for, using every bit of cunning and magic he had, to become the court of final resort to his people..  To those young men and women, though, he had been a hero.  His uncle had been a clever man, really.  Since Uath could notbe a leader in the Grove, his uncle had decided to change things after a bit.  He said there would be the Clan and the Grove.  The Grove would go about their duties as teachers and healers.  The Clan would defend the Grove, and the people under the Grove's protection.  Since then, most of his friends had died, or left for reasons of their own.  Grunt was off raising little troll kids in Rome, Ghost died in a car accident of all things.  Sonoma had stuck around for a bit, but the Azzies eventually figured out that she'd been the one who'd turned on their blood mage, and she'd left to protect everyone else.  His students had moved on.  Not that he could blame them, really.  Naming the screw-ups with amazing potential something embarrassing to goad them into learning something better had left five dead bodies and twelve dammed good magic users.  Only the Padre remained.  The Padre was an elven Catholic priest who was likely going to get nominated for sainthood after his death.  Or would, if there were any justice in the world.  It never ceased to amaze Po' Boy that while the Padre offered people hope, all Po' Boy offered was precisely controlled violence, but he still ended up the leader in the area around the Padre's church.

Recently, he'd picked up a new student.  Headstrong, new to his power, and unwilling to let anything slide.  Also the kid had more potential in him than he knew.  In everything but magic, he was better than Po' Boy had been at that age.  He also had a much bigger mouth.  The boy had been dropped in the middle of the forest with nothing but a kilt, map, compass and a light pistol.  The spirit that had been watching out for him had been mildly impressed that the boy had managed to get back to Seattle without needing a rescue.  Po' Boy was less surprised.  Siouxsie had the Morrigan in his heart.  The Goddess of Ravens had the potential to lead her children into far darker places than most could ever go.  Much like his first student by that name, what the boy needed was a guide.  In magic, and understanding honor.  He could teach the boy magic, and he hoped that exposure to Bull's BBS might give the kid some ideas about honor.

He examined the mirror looking at it carefully.  A human man, tall and solidly built, grey hair and blue eyes.  The grey hair didn't bother him.  He'd gone grey at the ripe old age of ten, after discovering that there was a dragon in Glow City, hunting the poor bastards who didn't know the enclave existed for amusement.  That wasn't anything new.  There  was the old scar from when he'd caught a bullet covering the Padre's ass in Denver.  Another where a barghest had mistaken him for a meal.  The burn on his thigh fro his first student missing the target with his fire breath wasn't too bad.  No, what concerned him was that under the beard, he didn't look like a man about to enter his fifties.  If anything, he looked like he was barely twenty.  Physically, he still felt young, and healthy.  In the prime of his life, as it were.  A man who had been through what he had, and seen what he had didn't have the right to look so young.  So he cast a spell, regrew the beard, and sighed.  There was something odd going on, and he was afraid of what that would mean for the future.
"When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is no longer your friend" - every instructor out there

"Maybe in your case, but he's a great buddy I'm leaving behind." - Siouxsie

Silence

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« Reply #1 on: <08-31-13/1153:18> »
The boy was a quick study when it came to some things.  When he had asked him to find out who had killed a man on his Better Off Dead list, the kid had gotten the answer to him in a matter of minutes.  Of course, from what Rose said, it was one of the members of Bull's board, but the important thing was that the kid managed to get the info, not how.  It was looking more like the kid may grow into the position of what Uath MacImmoman should be, not what it had become here.  The title was supposed to be that of an outsider, not a leader.  The path of the honorable trickster and not the way of a warrior.  So, Po' Boy figured a bit more exposure to this Smiley character might be a good idea.  Give the kid an idea of what to and not to do.

He finished his preparations for his astral journey to discover what had happened to him, and thought over the orders he'd passed around to the clan.  Keep a low profile, keep an eye out for trouble, and deal with it quietly, if possible.  If not possible, make a permanent example of the trouble.  Rose had gotten word of something through the Virtual Underground, and would likely be busy handling the tacnets and information analysis to give everyone a better idea of what the whole picture of the situation was.  Siouxsie would be occupied with doing errands for Smiley, as well as the little scavenger hunt he'd sent the kid on.  Though the entire point of the hunt was the journey, not the destination.  Though if the kid did manage to get his old Social Distortion album back with his life and soul intact, he would be amazed.  Harlequin had stolen that from him years ago, and so far every attempt of his to get it back had failed.  That was a object he shouldn't be able to get, and should be able to recognize that it was impossible to accomplish then walk away.

The spirit opened the rift to the planes and he stepped through.  Some people had told him that the astral was very much like the Matrix that Po' Boy couldn't access without getting nauseous.  But to him, each plane was almost more real than the world he walked in every day.  It made returning afterwards hard to do sometimes, but he was needed.  When the Dweller challenged him, like always, it chose a riddle game, this time.  Some of them were easy, and some of them were hard.  Kind of like life.  Though the last one was what had worried him.

"Ah, bearer of the name of Horror, son of Terror my final riddle is this:  Do you know what it truly is you seek, and will what you have sacrificed be worth it?" the Dweller had asked.

"What I have sacrificed is to be regretted, but it was needed.  As to whether I truly know what it is I seek, I am not sure.  But I know where to start when I am unsure." Po' Boy replied, wondering at why the Dweller chose now to use his title, even through a translation.

"Where is that?"

"The Mirror."

The Dweller smiled at that, and thought a moment before bowing away from the entrance.  "You may pass.  You are one of the few who goes to the Mirror when troubled.  Good luck dealing with yourself."

The Mirror was a plane that was out of the way from many of the others, either due to a lack of human traffic, or because not even many spirits wanted to see themselves as they truly were.  It made for a good place for self-examination, because you would see yourself as you truly were, as well as whether something external was making that change.  It was not always a place of beauty, unless you would be reflected that way by the environment.  The first time he had come here, he'd almost died, killed my his murderous rage reflected in the environment.  It had only been after he had calmed himself that he had been able to figure out the nature of the place.  It had taken much longer before he had met the inhabitants.  Or maybe it was always the same inhabitant, merely reflecting him.

Right now, it appeared much as the grove did.  A blending and balancing of nature and technology, with homes built to accommodate their environment.  It was beautiful, really.  It managed what the Tirs preached, but never really practiced.  It was the nature of humanity, whether baseline, elf, ork, troll or dwarf, to change the environment it was living in.  But here, it was a change that managed to balance man and nature.  It was also balancing between shadow and light, much like the clan did, which is what surprised Po' Boy the most.  This was his work, and his vision.  To see it here, as his reflection was somehow oddly right, as well as worrying.  Had he poured too much of himself into the work done?  Or was he forcing thing into this shape?  That was the worrying thing about coming here, sometimes.  You always would walk away with more questions than answers.

"Which is always the point of self-examination, Aengus." the voice of Po' Boy's father came from behind him, "But you knew that already.  This is a wonderful place, son.  Wish your mother and I were alive to see it.  But than, since we are here, I know that is what you desire.  You are seeking something that may have made a change, looking for an influence here, but you won't find it."

"Can I ask why, father?" Po' Boy responded, evenly.  The two had never gotten along well in life, and his appearance here probably meant he was about to hear something he wouldn't like.

"Because what caused the change was entirely the result of your own actions.  If you have become a monster, it is because you have chosen to be that monster.  If you have become ageless, like you fear, it is because of something you have done.  It may not even have been something deliberate, a pact that was the result of you being yourself.  But the answer you seek is not here, son.  It's elsewhere, and you may be rather surprised at what you learn along the way."

"I see.  Then I suppose I must be on my way then, father."

"Safe journeys, Aengus." the reflection of his father said as it stepped away from a now-shining portal back to the physical plane.

Po' boy stepped through the portal, and looked around the room, the headed to the bathroom to wash his face.  Then it hit him, the way the being that had taken on his father's appearance had said that.....  A pact that was the result of him being himself.  Not an effect, not a side-effect, not an outcome, but a pact.  But he had never agreed to any pacts with spirits.  Not that he could remember, anyway.  This put a whole new sense of urgency on things, and it was likely he would be heading out into the world again to find the answers.

"I know what Uncle is going to say about this......" Po' Boy muttered, "And I agree with the sentiment.  Let's hope I'm not going to have to kill a great many people.  That always gets messy."
"When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is no longer your friend" - every instructor out there

"Maybe in your case, but he's a great buddy I'm leaving behind." - Siouxsie

Silence

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« Reply #2 on: <09-03-13/2245:30> »
"Aengus, I love you like a son, but have you lost your mind?" Thomas Smith asked, disbelievingly  "We've got a wendigo in the Verge, a missing team in Puyallup, and you've got that insane apprentice of yours.  I mean, the boy rigged Rose's underwear drawer to detonate."

"She started that bit of foolishness," Po' Boy responded, "and it was just a flash-bag.  I okayed that as a security test.  She failed.  The clan has orders about the wendigo, given that it's not behaving like it should.  Observe, and if it becomes an actual danger, kill it.  So far, it's only killed feral ghouls, and people who started a fight with it.  Remember, while you may lead the Grove, the Clan is my jurisdiction.  That's how we got all our old buddies from the original grove to agree to this.  This is something that may end up bringing a danger to the Clan and the Grove, so I am well within my rights as Uath MacImmoman to seek out the answers.  As to my new apprentice, he'll be out of your hair for a bit.  He's lived in the Verge his whole life, and needs to see more of the world."

"Can you at least tell me what this is?"

"No, Uncle.  It's a feeling in my bones, and you know how I am at finding trouble.  I'd rather face it away from the both the Clan and the Grove.  In a lot of ways, the Clan are my children.  A rowdy, violent and honorable bunch, but still they're my children.  The Grove has the potential to do a lot more good if they get the chance to change,  But that means most of the old guard would have to either die, or retire.  We separated the two specifically so that the killing wouldn't happen."

"I know, Aengus.  But that doesn't mean I like the idea of you going across the world after a hunch.  Last time you did that, you almost caused a few wars."

"The Atlanteans and their people will leave us in peace.  The duel I fought assures that, until they manage to kill the man I fought.  And Lagos....Well, the least said about them, the better my temper will be.  As far as the rest?  I was just an employee of the Draco Foundation, so they caught the blame, not us."

"Pretty fine line to walk." Thomas said, doubtfully.

"Those fine lines seem to be what dragons live by.  They respect power and drive.  Look at how many moves that toxic dragon has made since we killed most of his pets."

Thomas looked at the man he had taught the basics of magic to.  The boy who had been like a son to him, his sister's only surviving child.  He'd grown, and one day, Thomas knew he was looking at a peer, not a student.  A peer who had learned more about danger than Thomas ever had.  An apprentice who had studied war, and become a leader of men.  He missed the days when Aengus had looked out to the world beyond the grove and seen endless possibilities.  Before him stood a man who viewed those under him like his own flesh and blood, and he had given up on his own chances for a family to earn that right.  And this peer thought he needed Thomas's approval to do something that he could have just done himself.  Really, there was only one way to handle this and honor his student.

"Fine, then." Thomas said, after that long moment of thought, "You don't need my permission for this.  But for what it's worth, you have my blessing.  Just remember to bring me back a nice bauble and a story to tell.   I'll let the Clan handle their business, and make certain the Grove supports them."

"Thank you." Po' Boy bowed his head in respect, and headed for the door.

"No, son." Thomas said in a barely audible chuckle, "Thank you for being a truer and better man than I was, or your father was.  And come home safe.  You're what holds us together."
"When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is no longer your friend" - every instructor out there

"Maybe in your case, but he's a great buddy I'm leaving behind." - Siouxsie

Silence

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« Reply #3 on: <09-19-13/1402:18> »
Travelling had always been one of Po' Boy's favorite and least favorite things.  Favorite, because he got to see new things.  Least favorite because he usually collected at least four or five more people for his personal list of people the world would be better off without.  Of course, Denver was a town he was always extremely careful in, for several reasons.  One, the identity he used for travel that wasn't related to biz was from Denver.  The other was that the clan had been contracted years ago to try and heal the city, and had been reinforcing the idea that the locals were Denverites first, and members of their respective nations second.  Then Aztlan had invaded the city.

His people had not taken to that invasion well.  At least not from the invader's point of view.  Careful strikes against military targets had made the clan unpopular with the Azzies, even though they had no idea who was attacking them.  Surprisingly to some, the local Hispanic population had decided to back the "rebels" to the hilt, and the crackdowns were sending more people to the arms of the Denver community outside the old Aztlan sector.  It was amusing that Ghostwalker had banned espionage in Denver, but the biggest thing holding one of his enemies at bay was a guerilla operation mostly run by people who hadn't been born here.  Of course, the clan had recruited locals from the shadow community, but that was a small part of the picture his people were running.  Ten people, coordinating thousands told him he had sent the right people for the job.

A dapper elf approached Po' Boy, and a familiar one, at that.  "Hello, Quinn," Po' Boy said, meeting the eyes of the man approaching him, "it's been a long time.  Are you here to catch up on old times, or did you have something specific in mind?"

The elf stopped short, and blinked for a second, then replied, "Well, Doctor Stuart.  What a surprise to see you here,"

"Really?" Po' Boy smirked, "This is my home of record, so why would me being here surprise you?"

"Because you seem to spend so little time here, Doctor." Quinn replied tartly, "I figured you'd be off in Eastern Europe, getting one of the people there to let you in to study the phenomenon without signing any non-disclosure agreements."

"You wound me.  I'm merely stopping at home to take a break before writing up my next article."

The elf's eyes narrowed, "And what might that article be on, Doctor?"

"I was debating the merits of doing a paper one the magical tradition of one Quentin Harlech, or the urban legend of Harlequin.  But I've ultimately decided to do one about how the people of an area affect the background count and spirit of the places they live in."

Quinn's eyes widened for a split second, a deliberate "slip" to try and show shock.  "And why would you write anything about my magical tradition?  I am merely a minor mage, of little power."

"Because anyone that would aid the Aztlaners in their efforts to bring their gods back is most certainly an enemy of humanity.  Of life, really.  And Harlequin most certainly has shown himself to be on their side.  While the enemy of my enemy may not always be a friend, the friend of my enemy has always made a quite suitable target.  I am rather certain that Aina Dupree would not approve in the least"

"What would you know about her?" Quinn snapped.

"She was a good woman, a bit harsh at times, but a good woman.  Politics never were her strong suit, but she was always a fighter.  A woman I would have been honored to call friend, had we ever had the chance to meet formally.  But also one who was deathly opposed to the entire way the Aztlaners are running things.  I am merely an academic who spends too much time in the field, so I suppose I don't have much room to talk about her.  But I do think she'd be rather disappointed in you,  Caimbeul."

Quinn snatched back at that, and blinked.  "Where did you hear that name?"

"Did you really think I hadn't looked into you as deeply as I could?  And did you think I would be just like those runners you like to manipulate?  I spoke with Jane's father about you.  While he may not like you all that much, he has never had anything but respect for your abilities, and willingness to fight a true enemy.  But this time, you aided the real enemy, and it's cost you a fair bit.  It's time for you to take steps to fix your mistake."

Quinn's eyes hardened.  "Do you know what the dragon has cost me?"

"Do you know what your vendetta may cost the world?  Ehran's model works just fine for a mana cycle that hasn't had anything done to affect it.  The first Ghost Dance had far more reaching consequences than just the spike left at the site.  It's accelerated the model by several centuries.  The second Dance may have changed that, but the efforts went to something else entirely, as they should have."

Quinn looked away after a long moment, his normally unflinching gaze turned by the fact that while he'd had many point out that he might be wrong, Po' Boy was the first person who'd simply stated that this was not the time for vengeance.  He knew the druid wouldn't council forgiveness in seeking vengeance.  While there may have been more powerful magicians than the man in front of him and Father O'Malley in the world, Quinn knew that few of them were anywhere near as ruthless and unconventional as the druid.  In a hundred years time, he'd give the stripling in front of him even odds of accomplishing the feat of holding his own in a duel with a dragon.  He took a deep breath and let it out.

"And what do you suggest?  I know you have a plan."

"Your bargain with the Aztlaners is over.  You struck at the dragon, they reclaimed what he took from them.  It's up to them to hold it now.  Point that out when they try and get your help hunting the rebels."

"That's all?  I'd think you'd have something far more grand in mind than that."

Po' Boy laughed, ruefully.  "When they involve you, my plans stay simple, because you have this habit of improvising, messily, and all over the place.  All I can ask you to do is follow your conscience, and honor.  And remember that personal is far from important at the level you play at."

Quinn shook his head and moved away, walking like a man who had a great deal to think about.  Po' Boy shouted. "And I want my fragging record back!"

Quinn looked over his shoulder and laughed at that.  A bit of true humor in the laugh in what may have been a long time.  When he reached the customs desk, he answered all questions truthfully, and told them that a man who looked much like the elf that he saw on some of the wanted posters was headed for the gate.  They thanked him for his time, and quickly ushered him out.  As he caught a cab to the church, he was fairly amused to see a few of his old students in the ZDF charging into the gate.  Harlequin was likely long gone by the time he'd informed them that he'd been spotted.  Of course, without his face paint, they'd likely have little choice but to carefully examine everyone who was attempting to leave Denver through the airport.  While he respected the courage of many in the Zone Defense Force, making their lives easy just never was in his nature.

As he rode along, something that had been bothering him managed to surface.  It had almost seemed like Harlequin had wanted his approval back there.  Like he had been looking for the one man who should have approved, and didn't like finding that he didn't.  That was pretty far from normal, all things considered.  The Immortals only sought the approval of each other, if they sought it at all.  Most of them were still playing an ancient game by rules that were thousands of years old.  The one thing he'd respected about Harlequin was that he was somewhat able to keep up with change, and adapt his tactics and strategies to suit.  He'd been a good teacher for Jane, in a lot of ways.

He shook his head thinking about Jane.  She'd outgrown her teacher in many ways.  She an Po' Boy still talked, usually about something the Draco Foundation had need of his expertise for.  She'd also introduced him to Quicksilver, and the two had hit it off fairly well.  Mostly because they had looked at each other and each seen a man willing to do anything for the survival of his people, and decided to not face each other on the opposite side in the future.  There never had been many drakes in the clan, but those few who didn't head for Quicksilver's shelter when the clan had found them were more than welcome additions.  And the occasional training they had done with each other were very invaluable, as well.

The cab pulled to a halt in front of the church, and Po' Boy paid the man, collected his back and got out.  The Vigilia always favored poorer churches, and it had occasionally driven some of them nuts that he insisted on randomly picking one of their bases and dropping a large charitable donation to them.  It had been a strange game they played over the years.  But it had never been filled with anything but respect.  He'd randomly send him a large donation, and they would randomly send food or ammunition, depending on what was needed.  It was like a pair of men trying to show who was more generous.  Not to the world, but each other.  And instead of extravagant gifts, they gave what the other might possibly need.  What made it even funnier was the history between Christianity and the druids.  It seemed to Po' Boy that it wasn't the Christians the druids had hated, so much as the Romans they hated happened to be Christian.  He, Father O'Malley and Rabbi Levenstein had talked about that on poker night, a few times.  it never ceased to amaze him that one night playing poker managed to accomplish more than a month of those interfaith council meetings.  Hell, it had surprised the three men when that imam had asked to join the poker game.  After a bit, though, the poker game had started to grow.  It had drawn people who couldn't meet in public without a shouting match together and smoothed a lot of rough edges.

Shaking himself from his reverie, he ascended the steps to the entrance of the church, to ask one of the most senior people he knew in the Vigilia Evangelica a few questions.  Who knows, he may even find himself getting a few answers.
"When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is no longer your friend" - every instructor out there

"Maybe in your case, but he's a great buddy I'm leaving behind." - Siouxsie