2061FEB08 - Meanwhile, at a street
clinic in Tacoma...
The soft tone of the wristphone startled Frank. He sat
straight up in bed and immediately was reminded of his wounds
as pain and nausea wracked his body.
"Oh, drek." He sighed as he laid back down. Again
the phone. He rolled over and picked it up. "Caller
Unavailable". Right. He clicked the button for voice
only with digital masking of his voice, then answered, "Yeah?"
"So I hear things didn't go as planned. Give me the
details and I'll see what I can do with this train wreck
you slots created." The sarcastic overconfident voice
was the distinctive tone of Frank's Fixer, Shep.
"Frag you Shep. Everyone but me is dead. You can kiss
my fraggin' hoop if you want me to apologize to your cozy
meatbod, hiding behind your deck."
There was a pause. For once, Shep was taken aback. Frank
almost felt good, but his pain and the memory of his team
dying took care of that.
"Uh hey, omae. Cool down, jack out, relax." Shep's
tone was sympathetic and soothing, at least as soothing
as two packs a day will allow. "All right take it slow
and tell me what happened."
"All right, so we get the case from the Yamatetsu
site null sheen. Switch took a few bullets, but she's used
to that. We make our way back to the van and Roadkill is
splattered all over the windshield. Everything was kinda
crazy from there. We fought our way to their facilities
area. Solder got geeked en route. Fidget has a brainstorm
and gets us into a sewage dump. Switch is barely able to
move our prize, so we pull out a bunch of lifejackets, strap
them to the case, and jump into the outgoing water flow.
By then, the guards had caught up to us and Fidget took
a few rounds. Anyway, the three of us jump in, trailing
blood and confused as hell.
"It was a rough ride and I thought for a minute I
was going to go out drowned in some suit's drek, but finally
we pop up in the sewers. Fidget's all proud of himself until
the current catches us and starts whipping us down the sewer
at about 60 clicks an hour. It was rough, but it was finally
looking good. Right up until Fidget caught a rusty pipe
in the lung. He got plucked right off the case. I hope the
pipe killed him, because there was a trio of Ghouls waiting
to clean their trap.
"Anyway, I'm thinking it can't get much worse, then
the case suddenly jerks, spins and slams into the wall,
crushing Switch's arms, then smashing through a wall. Switch
is freaking out, water is rushing past us down the sewer
and into through the hole we made, and I'm the only one
left with working arms. So I start pulling bricks away from
the hole, trying to widen it so we can get through. I'm
no jackhammer and all of our hardware was either laying
on the floor of Yamatetsu or the bottom of the sewer, so
I just went to town with my bare hands. I hear Switch screaming
in pain a little louder than before and I move around the
chest to check her out.
"There was at least a dozen devil rats on her and
they were chowing down big time. I pulled out my pocket
knife and went to help her, but then I felt at least another
dozen gnawing on me. Switch was done for and I was about
to be dessert, so I cut the lines on the preservers, kicked
free and let the current take me.
"When I finally got to a manhole, I was in...well,
anyway I got to a clinic. Your case is somewhere between
here and Yamatetsu in the sewer. As for me, I am done with
this one. Good luck." Frank turned the phone off and
laid back. The advance money for the run would cover the
medical bills. It was time to find another team, but first,
a little R&R was in order.
2061FEB18 - Titus's Initiation,
Titus emerged from the gilded elevator of the Mackelby
Club, and walked down the hall, curiously noting that he
had never actually been this way before. Pulling out his
pocket sec, he double-checked the directions and started
looking for room 1378. After some time searching the labyrinthine
halls, he finally found it at the end of a small side hall,
tucked out of the way of the main traffic. He paused a moment
to look himself over and then gave light knock to the door,
which seemed to echo down the hallway. After a moment, he
heard a hushed "Enter" from the other side and
the sound of the maglock disengaging.
Turning the knob, Titus walked into this dimly lit room.
After the bright lighting of the hallway, it took him some
time to adjust to the dim, flickering candlelight enough
to make out the five other robed figures in the room. The
candles were arranged around a dim shape on the floor and
there were actual braziers burning some sort of fragrant
incense. Titus's eyes were briefly drawn to Silver's form
before he quickly focused again on Drake.
"Greetings, Dr. Dawkins," Drake intoned, almost
announcing rather than speaking. "Thank you for joining
us this evening. We have reviewed your abilities and merits
and have deemed you worthy to join into our initiation group,
assisting you in learning the higher magics of our world.
However, our decision to accept you and your decision to
accept us is only the first step. In order for you to join
us, to merge your signature into our circle, the avatar
of the circle must accept you. Please join us at the pinnacle
of the star."
The figure in the crimson robe, who he now recognized as
Drake, gestured to a cleared section of the floor, which
contained a hermetic circle based around a six-point star
with six chairs which seemed to be carved from a single
piece of wood. The other figures, all members of the group,
each took a seat at a point of the star, being careful not
to disturb the powder defining the figure. Titus sat down
and took a moment to investigate the material of the circle.
"Powdered silver?" Titus queried, leaning towards
"Yes, that's what we've used before. Jacob insists
that we would achieve better results by switching to a platinum-iron
blend, but we haven't tried that yet. Now please
The group began chanting in unison in Latin. Titus understood
the words, but was unfamiliar with the source-it sounded
medieval from the style. Titus switched perceptions out
of habit to make sure that the coast was clear and saw the
mana already beginning to flow between the other five members
of the group and into the hermetic circle. Leaning back
in the recliner he reached his consciousness out and into
astral space. Before him was a large cloaked figure of improbable
height and thinness that had not been there a moment ago.
Its eyes softly glowed red as it focused on Titus.
"So, you deem yourself worthy to join this group and
pursue the higher arts? First you must prove your ability."
Without warning the figure lurched out at Titus, striking
at him with his hand. Titus dodged with ease as he felt
the comfortable recognition of the astral plane, where movement
is based upon the speed of thought, and your ability to
handle yourself increases with your understanding of sorcery.
Several more times the figure swiped and struck at Titus
and each time he evaded the blows, without attempting to
counter-attack. Seemingly satisfied, the figure invoked
an attack spell and sent it towards Titus's aura. However,
having little else to focus on, Titus skillfully dismantled
the pattern of the incoming astral energies, dissipating
them back into the plane. It tried this one more time with
the same result and tried a final swing at the flowing astral
form of Titus who eluded the attack.
Suddenly the figure stopped, the folds of its cloak sitting
motionless at its sides as if it had never moved. It stared
at Titus for what seemed like minutes and finally whispered,
"You are worthy. Welcome." It extended a hand
and Titus took it
and blinked in the dim, smoky
light as the echo of the abruptly halted chanting rung in
the room. He looked around at the others as they stood from
their chairs in unison and neatly folded their hands under
their crimson robes. He felt some strange connection to
them, reminiscent of link formed with co-workers during
ritual magic, only barely noticeable, as he rose to join
the circle. Drake stepped forward with a neatly folded red
robe offered with both hands.
"Take the robe and so it is done," Drake intoned.
Then he threw back the hood of his cloak and the others
followed his lead. Jonah stepped forward, a large smile
on his face, "Excellent performance, Dr. Dawkins. Welcome
to our group. We have a small reception waiting in the drawing
room downstairs and we can begin discussing your thesis."