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Jan Schaefer

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« Reply #150 on: (13:52:06/04-23-18) »
ATLANTEAN FOUNDATION, 3:19 AM.

"Getting sloppy.  Took it for granted.  Gonna pay."  Jan had been working with English speaking teammates for long enough that he was starting to berate himself in their language.  But he was wrong- he didn't pay.  One splinter of the frag grenade worked its way between his gauntlet of armor sleeve, causing a painful bleeding wound, but that was all.  Damn lucky, once again, but Jan knew better than to rely too heavily on luck.

*******  CLIVE EXPEDITION, 2:30 AM.

The interrogation of suspects was making lurching, halting progress at the Clive expedition dig. Jan was trying every angle he could think of to get Clive to talk- the previous two interrogations had him in an uncharacteristically optimistic mood. 

First, extracting Winfield had been the easiest task in months.  Wyt’s natural stealth, levitation ability, and the invisibility spell had gotten him into and out without an alarm being raised.  And even though Winfield had quickly suicided, the team had learned some vital facts:  Winters was with the cult, Winters had participated in stealing the Nitocris mummy, and there was no additional security at the site to speak of.   The second abduction was just as smooth, if a little less fruitful- Garner was as innocent as driven snow, an honest archeologist who liked playing in the dirt and digging up his pathetic historical trinkets. 

Extracting Clive had been slightly trickier, since he was a mage, who had raised his own wards and spirits.  But the choice of Wyt to do the extraction proved inspired.  He made a tough call- keep his buffing spells up or drop them to sneak into the ward?- and gambled successfully, using his active defenses to quickly dispatch the spirit that appeared to guard his sleeping master.  Interrogating Clive was trickier, but at least partial progress was happening.  Tag teaming all the questioning revealed a few facts:  Clive wasn’t surprised by human sacrifice and sex cults, but was surprised that it was Gavigan doing them in England (perhaps Clive was used to Africans doing it in Africa?).   Clive didn’t know much about specific cultists, but routinely flinched at the mention of certain names (Black Pharoah, Nodens).  Ten minutes of threatening and cajoling  eventually reduced Clive to a babbling mess, but he genuinely didn’t seem to know anything.  Olof, who had no compunctions about killing a foe in hand-to-hand combat, was reluctant to put the screws onto him.  Clive was able to figure out that the threats of kneecapping him or breaking his fingers were not about to be carried out.  Jan made a mental note:  “Since Olof can’t conceal his emotions from an awakened person, he is no credible threat in these circumstances unless he’s genuinely pissed off.  Looks like I’ll nee to get my own hands dirty.”  Clive successfully fooled or resisted every one of Jan’s spells and conversational gambits.  He kept a consistent tone- I’m just an archaeologist, maybe I’m jaded to death and exploitation, but that doesn’t make me a member of the cult- both before and after being “broken”. 

Until the dramatic transformation.  Jan had been desperate, so he started naming every eldritch name.  “If you can’t help us, then unfortunately, I have strict instructions to dispose of you.”  “Help you with what?”  “Information about the Bloody Tongue God, Black Pharoah, Nephrin-Ka, Nyarlathotep, God of the Black Wind, Xatogua, Sathojue…”  Somewhere in the recitation of dark nomenclature, Clive transformed utterly.  Gone was the stuffy, condescending Oxford don.  In its place was a quasi-familiar rant.  It wasn’t as vile or threatening as typical cultist babble- apparently, no one’s organs were going to be raped- but it had other familiar themes.  “You are too late, you are all going to die, he will be reborn!” ranted Clive.  “His power is close at hand, you cannot stop him now!”  And, referring apparently to a different him:  “His knowledge is beyond you know, forces are in place to conceal his discoveries from you even as we speak!  He is dead, and you will never find out what he learned!” 

Just as Jan was starting to wonder if that was referring to Ali Khafour, Bloodhound’s voice rang out over the tac net. Instead of his usual “too tired for this shit” tone, BH sounded excited.  “Police traffic at the Atlantean Foundation.  A minor alarm.  The cops think it’s probably nothing.  But I think it’s more than a coincidence.”  And the team snapped into action, unanimously deciding to put the interrogation of Sprech and Broadmoor on hold.  Wyt agreed to drop off Clive back in his bunk where he would sleep off the toxic cocktail of stunpatch, stimpatch, and Laes.  Wyt would catch up in the second car while Icenark showed off his skills at the wheel of the rented van.  The suspension groaned and rattled, the tires squealed, the van lurched alarmingly around corners.  But Icenark drove like a champ, getting the team to the Atlantean Foundation in far less time than Gridguide said was possible.

Jan Schaefer

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« Reply #151 on: (13:53:19/04-23-18) »
ATLANTEAN FOUNDATION, 3:15 AM. 

Astral and mechanical recon were smooth and successful on approach.  Wyt spotted an awakened figure on board the vehicle on the Foundation’s roof, and Noizsquitoes confirmed it was an unmarked black chopper on the ground with rotors swirling.  The cops at the front gate were deterred by a fast-talking receptionist droid, leaving the scene clear for the team to attempt to insert.

“Looks like they’re already inside”, rumbled Olof in the dark.  “Nobody is picking up artifacts at 3 in the morning.  That’s got to be a team in there.”  The whole group almost finished each other’s sentences:  the enemy was inside, trying to steal or destroy Ali Khafour’s notes.  There was no way to get to the roof quickly, and mechanically following the chopper would be dicey:  noizquitoes might not be able to get close enough to anchor due to the propowash, and the Pelican wouldn’t have the speed to keep up after the chopper took off.  With only Wyt’s astral projectons and spirits, astral pursuit of the chopper might end badly.   So, the only way up to the roof was to start by going inside.

DEM had a surprisingly easy time cracking the host.  Jan had been worried, due to his earlier fumbling when attempting to steal a bread truck. But he was warmed up and ready this time.  He was into the host and spoofing cameras in less than five seconds, and the team swarmed the door.  Oddly, though, no one bothered to suggest using the Foundation’s cameras to look for resistance.  The whole team just sort of assumed that there would not be any meat on the ground floor. 

Jan and Wyt, with a quick nod, made their first bad call of the night.  They both dropped their spells in order to penetrate the building’s ward without delay or chance of tripping any alarm.  But literally five feet away from the back door of the foundation was a heavily armed and armored guard, noshing on a peach.  Olof was the first to react- like a bolt of cyberlightning, he had bowled his own team aside and grappled the defender.  Jan followed up, grabbing the gun and putting eyes on the doors into the kitchen while trying to get his magic back online.  The rest of the team piled in, while Olof played “Hulk vs. Loki” with the disarmed guard.  His armor was obviously first rate, which allowed him to survive the pounding for about two more seconds than most folks would have. 

But that was not the only defender on the ground floor.  Due to uncoordinated advances (the tac net kept blinking on and off- BH was doing his best to keep some enemy hacker away from the team’s net), Icenark got lit up hard by a blast of gunfire when a heqvily armed troll popped out of a siide door.  DEM, having beendropped like a sack of potateoes, went back into meatspace and quickly hacked another attacker’s assault rifle.  This attacker, a heavily cybered Orc, got in a lucky hit on Wyt with his arm spurs.  Wyt was having a really bad night, trying to split his attention between hasty casts of his buffs and the urgent need to slice up the three opposing runners.   Bleeding from his ears and nose revealed to the team that his attempts to control mystic energy were not going well.   

The team downed all their foes quickly, but not before Wyt got rattled hard by a flashbank that detonated litearlly in his face. Being caught flat-footed was rare for the preternaturally graceful elf.  But when dodging failed, his lightweight armor was unfortunately unable to absorb enough of the blast, and he flopped to the ground as gracelessly as DEM had done seconds before.

Jan felt good about three things, however.  First, a stimpatch brought the elf assassin back to combat effectiveness in just a few seconds, as Icenark’s first aid kit patched him up.  Jan’s own stunbolts had been effective (along with a quick smack in the face from Blue Fang) in downing the massive troll.   And, best of all, DEM was now able to sit at the controls of the Foundation’s security apparatus, giving the team a massive advantage. 

ATLANTEAN FOUNDATION, 17TH FLOOR, 3:19 AM. 

But that overconfidence proved VERY costly.   With the tacnet flickering on and off, with some heavy resistance out of the way, and with the natural miscommunications of bringing on board a newbie, the group failed to do a thorough recon of the 17th floor.  They had spotted a sneaky, strange dwarf in Khafour’s office, but failed to check for bodyguards.  So, like sitting ducks, they were ambushed hard at the elevator exit. 

“Fucking amateurish” was Jan’s first thought.  Rather than blaming himself for assuming things, he chose to get mad at DEM for not looking at other cameras.  The two mechs at the elevator doors went down fast, but they surved their function- slow down the group’s exit and leave them in position for heavy fire from the six-limbed shotgun wielding merc around the corner.

Even that would have been survivable if Olof had been the only target, but Icenark howled as lead penetrated his armor for the second time.  Olof’s answering hail of gunfire knocked Spider-man off his feet, but the infiltrating enemy dwarf took perfect advantage of the friction and delays.

The incoming munition swelled in Jan’s vision until it looked more like the Death Star than a hand grenade.  Diving for cover behind a cubicle, hoping to hell that there was enough distance and enough office furniture to keep him alive, Jan started mentally swearing.  Another part of his mind observed with dry amusement that he was berating himself in English.

“If we survive this”, Jan promised himself, “I will have words with this DEM about proper battlefield communication and recon.” 
« Last Edit: (15:53:11/05-03-18) by Jan Schaefer »

adzling

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« Reply #152 on: (11:57:15/04-24-18) »
xclnt aar! +2 karma!
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adzling

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« Reply #153 on: (10:14:36/05-16-18) »
Another nightmare. He sat up in bed, drenched in sweat, heart pounding and the room swimming into focus. Where was he again? Who was he?

After a short while he gave up and looked at the AR feed in the upper right corner if his vision. It read "Cando Lolrissian" right next to today's date. Well at least that answered his question of who he was for today.

More troubling was a small flashing icon right next to today's identity. That was the team's tac-net, and it was offline, which was troubling. It never went offline.

He pinged Jan to see what the sit-rep was, on the off-chance something had gone wrong. No response. That wasn't like Jan. So Tog/Cando (Tondo?) pinged Wyt, when he got no response he knew something was up.

Shit, the entire team was not responding and checking their GPS history they had all gone offline at the same time just south of Cairo. The tac-net's video feed stopped recording right after they enter some minor Pyramid (it certainly wasn't one of the big 3 on the main plateau).

"Maybe he should do something" he thought to himself as he remembered Cando would certainly help out his friends, if he could. At least that's how Tog remembered him acting in Cloud City, yeah Cando would help Han so Tog should help Jan, that makes perfect sense!

Swinging a furred kaftan around his shoulders Tondo strapped on his kata slides and various and sundry other concealed weapons before pulling up an AR flight feed from Ataturk airport and booking the earliest flight to Cairo. Tondo would figure it out, he always did. And if he couldn't, well he'd be someone else tomorrow, and he'd certainly figure it out.
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Reverend

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« Reply #154 on: (20:07:22/05-21-18) »
   What waits past the fire, once you've jumped out of the frying pan? Seems they're all about to find out. Something about the name of the destination had been gnawing at him, along with the general 'we can handle everything' vibe practically radiating off some of the team. Why bother with plans, just wing everything and if it doesn't work, shoot it. That's always worked before, neh? But it's one thing that it has worked, doesn't mean it always will. The hubris has been building too long and the payout will be impressive.

   Only making matters worse is that it seems the prime target is going to be the one who is most necessary as they start on their travel through the Astral Sea. Jan's experience with using magic seems eclipsed only by his willful ignorance of it, putting Bill in mind of some of those simple drones used in chemical factories if said drone could talk. “I've mixed these things for years, why bother wondering how they work? You're just paranoid.” Then a spill happens.

   It was really vexing. It seemed like the only one in the team that should have the wherewithal to try and make sense of what was going on felt it was a complete waste of time and was also the de facto leader of the group. At least when Jiao was around Bill could try and bounce ideas of either of them and, given how often they argued, one of them would seem to listen to Bill if only to rebut the other one. Now it was just Jan, leading an unexpected and wholly unprepared group into an expedition through uncharted magical territory that he knew nothing about, had no interest in understanding, and rebuked every question or hypothesis with some variant on 'I've not known what I'm doing for years and you haven't, so shut it.'

   He'd have to take some soundings, but things were definitely getting rough in the group. For all the friction between himself and Jan, all the times Jan shot down Bill's theories, the track record shows. Jan rarely got anything wrong because he wouldn't make an attempt to answer, while Bill more often than not was well-placed on the board if not always hitting bulls-eye. Tempo opening people to astral takeover? Check. The cults being (possibly competing) branches of the same crazy entity? Check. Shambling zombies? Check. The list could go on.

   Recalling the zombies stopped the train of thought though. A quick mental flip-through of one of the books they gathered quickly checked one more box of 'I called it' in Bill's list; Desh'Veroi. Home of the Shedim, according to Aetherology. Son of a...  Time to warn the others. Jan wouldn't bother to listen.

adzling

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« Reply #155 on: (18:48:41/05-22-18) »
xclnt post +1 karma to Bloodhound!
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adzling

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« Reply #156 on: (10:39:49/05-23-18) »
Cando had made into Cairo without too much hassle. The customs agent had bought his “Corporate Security Specialist on vacation to see the Desert Wars” story without a second thought. This sync’d nicely with his Corporate Bodyguard license enabling him to bring his pistols into the country without additional paperwork. Good old Cando, such a charmer!

After checking into a nice hotel overlooking the Nile he got right to work reviewing tac-net foots, GPS logs and text chat between the team. It was quickly apparent that they had spent some significant time narrowing their search down to the Clive Expedition and the Atlantean Foundation’s late Dr. Ali Kafour.

Early the next day Dan Folo took over from Cando and began digging into the rest of the mountain of evidence the team had amassed across 5 months and three continents. It was slow going and Folo did not have the patience for this kind of work. So he took the rest of the day off, happy to be replaced by Data the following day.

Data was far better than Folo at this kind of work but man was he a boring bastard. Tog hated him. Was he just hating that part of himself? Fuck who cares, the guy was a know-it-all post human asshole. Come to think of it maybe he wasn’t that far from Tog after all.

After another day of cross referencing Data had managed to piece together the open ends the team hadn’t yet explored.

Omar Shakti
Nyiti of El Wasta
Something about an upcoming rite or event that Clive had mentioned under intense questioning by Jan in the back of that van.

The question remained, which lead would bring him closest to finding his friends? Before he started cracking heads and impersonating people perhaps a diversion to the Bent Pyramid where the team had disappeared might make sense?
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adzling

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« Reply #157 on: (18:34:16/06-04-18) »
As your devices begin to draw power from the inductive charging grid component of the matrix they become to come back online with random chirps and AR notifications. Once your Comlink turns on and make a matrix connection your inbox starts flooding your AR feed with unread messages of every sort.

Apparently you’ve been “out of plane” for the better part of a month!

Your pocket agent has already presorted the messages based upon it’s own personalized priority rules, pushing the most important ones to the top.

Right there at the top are a few messages from Deng wondering “where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?” and one from Tog.

Tog seems rather perturbed and out of sorts (although admittedly you’re having a harder and harder time determining just what counts as a “normal” emotional state for him).

“Hey Omae, I noticed the tac-net went dark and you all disappeared last week. I checked with Deng and he’s almost as concerned as I am so I hopped a flight out to Cairo to check up on y’all. Couldn’t locate any of you, which is damned freaky y’a hear? So I ran back the tac-nets vid-feeds and noticed you had just hit the Atlantean Tower, the Clive Expedition and the Bent Pyramid right before you turned the lights off. So of course I though I better make sure you’re not rotting in a pit somewhere in the desert. Nothing turned up at the Bent Pyramid and after going through all your copious notes it seems the only open threads were some chap called Omar Shakti, one Nyiti of el Wassif and something about an upcoming fuck-fest gathering at the end of the month. “Omar” sounds like a fun guy so I’m going to go check him out, who knows maybe he’ll be able to point me towards you folks. And If can’t, well mebbe Shomar Makti is another worthy persona to add to my quiver. Ping me if you get this!”
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Jan Schaefer

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« Reply #158 on: (14:40:23/06-10-18) »
In the shower after a long trip through the planes and a short trip into desperation, sickness, and poverty, Jan is reflective. 

"Am I any different now that I have been through that?  I have never into the astral traveled.  I have used mana for my whole life but never where it comes from seen.  Or does it truly originate there, but rather flowing from another ur-quelle?"

The floor creaked as Olof paced outside, waiting for his turn in the shower.  Jan planned to test the reserves of this rented place's water heater.  Never had he felt so filthy.  What was most upsetting, he wondered?

"Was it the cannibal lizard, or the way my teammates her encouraged? 
Was it the time spent sweaty in the desert, or clammy in the swamp?
Smelling that cargo ship and making do with a bucket of fresh water bathing for?
Getting spattered by black goo by the bodies of gremlins?
Or" (shuddering, as Tommy's voice kept whining, pleading, cajoling, and exhorting in his mind) "the shock of having my power stone invaded?" 

A truly upsetting voyage.  But he was glad, as he lathered his fingertips to shampoo for the third time, that he still had all ten.  "Losing a couple of guns to the lizard was nothing compared to the price the others paid have."

Pondering the future, he steeled his resolve.  "If mentioning Nitocris was the only thing that made the Black Pharaoh threatened feel, then that a clear signpost is.  This is the forward path.  This is how we him weaken.  We find Nitocris and prevent the ressurection.  Yes." 

Sighing with regret, he turned off the hot water.  Olof's turn.  Jan went grimly into the living room, hoping that meditation would be enough to make Tommy's nattering voice subside. 

adzling

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« Reply #159 on: (15:08:28/06-10-18) »
<xclnt +1 karma!>
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adzling

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« Reply #160 on: (11:10:54/06-14-18) »
As your matrix connectivity resumes your newsfeeds fill up once more with content tailored to your preferences collected during the weeks you were "out of plane".

Among the dross a few things stand out for DEM and Bloodhound:

item 1):
Tragedy at the Mosque of Tulun
Six of Ibn Tulun’s most respected scholars died last night in the collapse of the ceiling of their study room.
The cause of these tragic deaths is being investigated. Still missing, but presumed dead, is Nessim Efti. The nazir of Ibn Tulun, Achmed Zehavi, survived, but was taken to hospital in shock. The collapse occurred in a building adjacent to Ibn Tulun itself; the historic structure is undamaged.

item 2): a Kond Orchid notification that your package was delivered to it's recipient 1 week ago. This is the tracking number for your missing mask!

item 3):
A text from an unknown comlink number dated @12 hours after Tog noted he was going to "have a chat with Omar".
Gotta make this quick, I think he's cracked my masking. The old biddy@Clive's expo thinks "something ancient and unfathomable" was involved in the theft of the Nitocris mummy. She babbled a bit about "the resurrection of the Queen" and how it "requires the Crown of Nitocris, the Necklace of Nitocris, and the Girdle of Nitocris." She thinks placing these three items on the mummy, while conducting the proper ritual, will raise her from the dead. Like that's fragging possible. She's a nut. kk i'm outta here, that dude is creeping me out.

item 4):
One of your search agents must have been left running, scripted to search through the late Dr. Ali Kafour's notes, while you ventured through the metaplanes. It's produced a screed of various snippets of varying interest but one seems particularly relevant.
In a sidebar note on the Black Pharaoh Kafour speculates: "that while a resurrected Nitocris might be a deadly foe, her true significance may be that efforts toward the return and empowerment of the Black Pharaoh are underway—a vast activation of long-dormant forces, of which Nitocris is but an important element. I don't think Nodens would appreciate that."

item 5):
A Jackpointer going by the handle of "NextDayAir" (Next for short) has replied to your post seeking information on the missing artifact you shipped out of London.
"Hey Omae, I did some digging in Kond Orchid's shipping records and found nothing about this shipment, which was odd as your tracking number looked legit. So I hacked one of their RFID package waypoints at Heathrow, et voila! I found a record of the package getting rerouted and renumbered (someone hacked the tracking number!) to be sent to a P.O. Box in Geneva. Once I had the new tracking number it was cake to find. Turns out whoever hacked the system didn't think it through all the way. When they changed the tracking number it farked up the system and it's been in holding pending customs inspection at the Swiss border for a couple of months. Seeing as you seemed pretty desperate to get it I changed the tracking number back. As soon as the shipping system recognized the tracking number it started re-routing it back to it's original destination. I'll take those nuyen now chummer! Out!
« Last Edit: (11:21:31/06-14-18) by adzling »
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adzling

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« Reply #161 on: (14:08:43/06-15-18) »
Waiting for you in your hotel room is a Kond-Orchid package holding the mask Jan shipped out to his german Talismonger friend back in March.

The mask is carefully wrapped in a dark, organic cotton sack-cloth with a hand-written note (in the Talismonger's handwriting) noting the following:

"This is not a regular focus or other magic trinket. But then you knew that, which is why you sent it to me. It would appear to be related to some kind of powerful free spirit that goes by the name of Nodens. I think it's related to summoning ritual. Not that I've actually tried it. It does seem rather "non-standard". It would no doubt fetch a pretty price in the artifact collector's market."
« Last Edit: (15:54:47/06-18-18) by adzling »
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adzling

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« Reply #162 on: (15:56:49/06-18-18) »
Basic info on Nodens:

And upon dolphins' backs was balanced a vast crenelate shell wherein rode the grey and awful form of primal Nodens, Lord of the Great Abyss… Then hoary Nodens reached forth a wizened hand and helped Olney and his host into the vast shell.

—H. P. Lovecraft, "The Strange High House in the Mist"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nodens_(Cthulhu_Mythos)
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