Campaign of the Month: December 2011
Dresden Files Dallas
Game 8 Transcript
Bah Humbug, Part 2
The New Player
2:00 a.m. – Texas Ranger Cody Lorance and a local partner are forced to break surveillance on the downtown LINC offices to respond to an all points call in Oak Cliff – 18 bodies have been found exhumed in a crack-house garage. Being part of the Special Force, Cody is somewhat supernaturally aware and notes a number of fae in the crowd. However, given the hour, he lets the local authorities take care of the scene – he can clean of the scene and records later if need be to eliminate any references to the supernatural.
Meanwhile, back in Oak Cliff
3 a.m. – While the group waits for Elena to return from watching Tyrel give info to the Rangers, Jamie heads off by himself for a little while. He makes an anonymous (public line, disguised voice, etc.) phone call to Baby Dolls to tip off Amber that the fuzz are closing in. Jamie is ok with Brandon getting messed up, but doesn’t want to make an enemy of the White Court. Plus, he takes a hit of coke to keep himself awake.
3:30 a.m. – the group reconvenes at a local waffle house. Food and coffee all around, except for Conor and Ren (who just eat – no caffeine needed thanks to their inhuman endurance, being fae and all).
J: So, why don’t you tell us about your boss?
E: Yeah, and quickly…
J & E: …‘cause we don’t have much time.
M: Well… he’s an ass. That’s about all I know about him
E: We need to find out where he lives ASAP because the Rangers are going to be all over-
M: For that I need to get back to LINC and check the records. I don’t know where he lives.
E: Then maybe we ought to go over there…
M: He not someone I’ve interacted with outside of work.
E: You have a key, right?
E: You’re legally allowed to be there?
J: Then let’s go.
(OOC discussion relative to Matthew’s living over the offices.)
Matthew explains his background at LINC and reviews the revelations from Tyrel.
M: I’ve always thought there was something off about him, and he’s become more of an ass in the three years that I’ve worked there. This was news to me – you were there, you saw the shocked look on my face.
J: So, the way you’ve added this up, you think he’s got the belt?
M: It makes sense. Knowing what we know about the Hexenwulf belt and knowing how his attitude has changed over the past few years, yeah, it’s absolutely logical that he’s the owner of the belt.
E: Regardless, he’s the connection with murderous people.
M: Yeah, he’s got darker connections that are very… disturbing, to say the least.
J: Just want to know what we’re running up against here.
J: It’s Christmas, and I’m chasing around a screwed-up preacher who might be a Hexenwulf.
M: He’s NOT a preacher.
E: That’s good.
J: Still, might be the worst father ever.
M: I have no idea whether he has kids or not.
J: No, ME.
E: It’s Christmas EVE.
C: Yeah, yer still good.
J: Still… what time does Toys’R’Us open?
M: This time of year? 7.
Downtown, LINC offices
4:00 a.m. – The group arrives at the LINC offices via Ren and Elena’s cars. Matthew is dropped off while the others park (Elena cases out a good unobtrusive place a couple of blocks away). Matthew unlocks and heads to Brandon’s office to search his files.
As Matthew starts looking through the files, he gets a chill down his spine (supernatural-like) and has the distinct sensation of being watched. He grabs his cross and turns around to see the ghost of a woman in her mid-20s with black hair staring right through him.
M: Can I… help… you?
Ghost: Who are you?
M: My name is Matthew… who are you?
Ghost: I’m … Helen… I… was Helen… Is this Christmas Eve?
M: Yes… just barely.
H: I died on Christmas Eve… right here. Where is the other one?
M: (pauses) I assume you mean Brandon?
H: Does he have red hair?
M: He’s probably at home… it’s early in the morning.
H: Why are you here?
M: I’m trying to find out where he lives.
M: Because apparently – in addition to whatever happened to you – he’s been doing some very bad things that we are trying to redress.
H: For ALL of us?
M: For as many of you as there are.
H: Do you mean that?
Suddenly many more ghosts materialize in the office around Matthew (a la Lord of the Rings). He tightens his grip on his cross, secure in Lord’s presence, and a quick count places between 20-30 ghosts in the room. To his chagrin, he recognizes a number of the faces as ones that he brought to Brandon’s attention. Brandon had told him that had left the area for various reasons (new job, visit family).
M: I’m… so sorry…
H: How can we help? We only get one night of the year to come back at this.
M: Well… if ya’ll could give me a little space… because right now my fingers are having a little trouble moving…
The ghosts give Matthew some space to continue his search.
Outside, Elena, Jamie, and Conor, are making their way to the building when Elena gets a nudge from He-e-e-e (her patron that represents vengeance) that something isn’t right inside. Her patron is quite furious at whatever is going on.
E: I need to go, quick. Come as soon as you can.
With a burst of speed, Elena is down the street and into the building.
C: (to Jamie) Right, so – I’ll see ye in there, slowpoke.
The others follow Elena.
Across the street, Ranger Lorance has resumed his surveillance of the LINC offices. He saw one of the employees of the office dropped off at 4:00 in the morning by an attractive Asian girl, and he goes inside (must be returning from a date). Suddenly he sees a blur of movement, including the front door opening and closing, and then two other men arrive not long after and go inside as well. His “finely tuned third-eye” is tingling.
Cody: What in the Sam Houston…?
He makes his way down from his OP. He’s a little outside his normal stomping grounds, but hey – he’s a Ranger. Texas is his jurisdiction. That said, he’s not being stupid about it – he’s tracking the two newcomers, and makes his way across the street as stealthily as he can.
Elena gets in the front door and skids to a halt, seeing a group of ghosts outside one of the offices – and a couple of them turn to regard her. She’s a little freaked out by the presence of that many ghosts (and the fact that He-e-e-e is cluing her in that ALL of them died wrongfully).
E: Matthew? You ok?
M: I’m good. They’re… they need our help.
The door opens:
Conor: After you, c’mon.
Conor and Jamie are suitably freaked out by all the ghosts. Elena slips into Matthew’s office so that she’s less visible.
Matthew hears the door open and close again.
M: I’m OK, just hang loose until I find his file. They’re not hurting me.
Elena takes count of the ghosts she can see… 22 of them.
Matthew, tired of fumbling around in the dark, whistles a refrain of “This Little Light of Mine,” shedding soft light in the office (his “utility light” spel l – like Dresden’s flickum bicus spell)
Cody peeks in the door and sees the tableau arrayed before him – a ring of ghosts focused around the senior administrator’s office, and the two new arrivals just standing and watching. He hides just inside the front door without being noticed.
Matthew locates Brandon’s home address in the files.
M: Got it! (to the ghosts) Are you guys allowed to… leave here? If I find the guy who is responsible for this, how do I… (pause) You guys want to help – how do I … “call in the cavalry?”
H: We will follow.
Matthew carefully exits Brandon’s office and heads toward the front door. Cody steps out into the main doorway behind the group, hand resting on his pistol. Elena sees both the pistol and the Texas Ranger badge on his belt.
M: Um… who’s that?
Conor & J, turning: What?
M: Come in… officer?
Cody: I’m ok where I am, but I need to know what’s going on.
Jamie pointedly looks back at the ghosts, and then back to the Ranger.
Cody: Right, I know about those. That’s why I need to know what’s going on.
Conor: Are we busted?
J: I don’t think so…
M: (cautiously) What seems to be the problem, officer?
J: So if this doesn’t bother you, then… what are you… you’re not just here investigating a breaking and entering – which we’re not doing, by the way, given that we’re with him (points to Matthew) and he lives here.
Cody: Wasn’t my concern. (looks at Matthew) Mr. Consprite, would you please let me know the connection between you and these ghosts here?
M: They appeared when I got here.
Cody: And now they’re following you.
Cody: And… please shed some light on this story for me. My apologies for not introducing myself –Cody Lorance, Texas Ranger “Special Force.” Emphasis on the Special – s’how we know about ghosts.
J: Interesting. There’s a group of Texas Rangers that knows about ghosts?
Cody: And all the other things that go bump in the night, yeah. That’s why I’m here.
M: Then maybe you know more about this than I do. I’m kind of coming into this blind.
Cody: Do you have some kind of deal going on with the troop behind you?
M: The ghosts? Umm….
Cody: Some arrangement?
M: I… think my boss may have been involved in their deaths, so I’m going to ask him about it – and they are going to follow me.
J: And if need be, we’ll use them to tear him apart.
Cody nods, and steps up, apparently intending to speak with the ghosts. Matthew quickly gets out from between them. Cody locates the ghost of a reputable-looking middle-aged Caucasian woman.
Cody: Is there anything you can tell me about this, ma’am?
G2: I came in for help, and this red-headed man said that he was going to send me to see my family in Oklahoma… after that, I don’t remember much except a snarl and a pain right here.
The ghost motions to where she was flayed open.
G2: He was… really mean.
Cody nods and turns back to Matthew.
Cody: I’m here to resolve this situation, so if there’s any way I can be of help, let’s go take care of this.
M: O… k?
J: Hey Conor – when you woke up this morning, did you think we’d be doing this?
Conor: Which part? I’m gonna need a list, cuz…
M: …we’ve been through a few things tonight, eh?
The group notes that this “cop” is unusually laid back, especially given everything he’s witnessed.
M: Well, I just found Brandon’s home address, which is where we going to.
J: So where does he live?
The address is in a small subdivision near White Rock Lake.
Outside, Ren has just caught up with the group when her cell phone rings.
R: Are you sure? But we’re like, going right now? No, but- But- Yes, Uncle.
She hangs up and addresses the group.
R: I gotta go…
M: But…we’re going to probably get the belt.
R: Yeah, that’s what I told him… um, don’t put it on.
R: I’ll be back later…
J: If we get it, I’ll bring it to the shop… I know your Uncle likes my visits so much.
R: Oh, yeah… that’ll be great.
Matthew copies the address down and gives it to her, so she can catch up later. Ren’s phone rings again.
R: Yes, Uncle. (then, to the group) I’ve gotta go now.
M: Later… thanks for the tip!
Matthew rides with Cody in his government issue black Chevy Tahoe, and fills him in on their suspicions about Brandon and the belt. Matthew is impressed by the command center inside, and Cody shuts down all the non-essential systems while Matthew concentrates on not hexing them.
Headed to Brandon’s Place, Elena’s car
The conversation in Elena’s car turns to the new arrival.
E: I don’t know…
J: Rangers who know about the supernatural…
E: I’m just worried about him and going to … murder someone. Maybe I’ll just let him murder someone.
J: Well, we’ve just got to get this done before the real mortal authorities show up.
E: Doesn’t he count as the mortal authorities?
J: Yeah, but he looks like he’s a … separate deal.
E: Yeah, he said… Special Force? Interesting… I didn’t know there was a Special Force… as a Texas or as DEA.
J: After all this is over, you should try and find out some more about this… Special Force. They could be REALLY useful…
E: Or really, really in the way.
J: Let’s make them useful, shall we?
E: (considers) That sounds like a good idea.
Brandon’s home – White Rock Lake
At Brandon’s place. Apparently he sidelines as a slumlord.
Brandon does indeed live near White Rock Lake, but it’s one of those lakefront cabin/bungalow deals – rental properties. And not the high-end kind… more the kind you see at summer camp, or in a really good slasher flicks. Brandon’s address is the “main house.”
The group drives up through a dilapidated entry gate proclaiming “Welcome to Camp White Rock.”
E: What about the Witch?
J: What about her?
E: Is she going to be upset that we’re, like, near her turf?
J: I don’t know.
E: Well, let’s get in and out ASAP.
J: Yeah… I’ve never had a conversation with her…
E: But we saw the conversation she had with Prospero
The drivers kill their headlights as they pull in, and decide to make the rest of the approach on foot. The ghosts were outdistanced on the way there, but the group is sure that they’ll catch up soon.
Jamie throws up a thaumaturgical veil around himself, and Conor does the same via his fae glamour. Matthew, Cody, and Elena take a look around to get their bearings.
Cody notes two African American males sitting out the cold at one of the old picnic areas. Obviously sentries, but they aren’t paying close attention. He points them out to Elena, who can see much better in the dark, and she notes that they are gang-bangers, likely orcs – but also sound asleep, and snoring quite audibly.
Elena hangs back to keep an eye on the sentries while the rest of the group approaches the house. It’s a 1950’s era two-story house with horrible outside lighting. Conor and Jamie stay back a little bit as Matthew and Cody go to the front door. Matthew opens the screen door, and finding the main door unlocked, opens it slightly and bangs on it loudly.
M: Brandon! We need to talk!
Shortly, a light comes on inside.
B: Who the hell…?
M: It’s Matthew.
M: Yes. We need to talk.
Sounds of stomping down stairs and across the floor as a tirade ensues.
B: What the hell are you doing at my house, at this-
The porch light comes on – and he sees Matthew… and a Texas Ranger.
B: Who is this? Coming to my house at this hour is not all right, Matthew!
M: Neither is tearing apart innocent kids from gangland.
Brandon glances sideways at Cody, and them slams the door shut on Matthew –literally. He barely pulls his hand out of the way, losing the battle to hold it open.
Suddenly from inside, a loud snarl issues, and the next sound is a rear window of the house shattering.
Cody steps back, and assesses the situation, and races off toward the lake, having determined that would be the logical way for Brandon to run to try and lose pursuit. Elena, having heard the glass shattering and seeing Cody on the move, races to catch up (which doesn’t take long). A howl comes from the woods behind the house.
As they pass through an area with more cabins, the pair sees figures emerging sleepily that don’t even look human – orcs with no glamour to hide their true form.
Elena continues to follow Brandon, not closing on him yet but maintaining a stealthy distance. Jamie, still under veil, chooses to follow the dust trail left by Brandon and Elena while the rest of the group deals with the emerging orcs.
Brandon (in wolf form) reaches a low rise in a clearing, and turns to look back over the scene, confident that he has outdistanced Matthew and Cody. Elena takes advantage of his overconfidence and unpreparedness for someone who can match his speed, and because she’s in pursuit of justice – you know, like the Punisher – lines up a shot. However, he took notice of something with his wolf senses, and the dead-on shot becomes just a graze. Snarling, he dashes back to attack Elena, biting at her. Her body armor takes a bit of the damage, but he leaves bloody bite marks in her leg. Jamie continues to close the distance to the battle.
Back at the cabins
Cody skids to a halt as orcs emerge from the cabins. Despite having his gun in hand, he’s hesitant to fire in a residential area at the early hour. Instead, he relies on the mystique of the Rangers to intimidate the orcs, as well as taking advantage of their general tiredness/grogginess.
Cody: Texas Ranger. You guys need to get outta here NOW!
Orc: Aw, @#$%
Conor and Matthew catch up to Cody, and Conor enhances the light around Cody, causing it to glint off his Ranger badge in the eyes of the gathering Orcs. Matthew holds off to see what happens.
(Intimidate! Seven shifts!)
Orc: Homes, if you’re gonna let us go… we’re out. S’all ok?
Cody: Take your friends with you.
Orc: Let’s go, bros… c’mon!
Conor and Matthew are pretty much gobsmacked.
Conor: Ya know, I think I could get drunk on this authority thing.
The trio resumes chasing after Brandon.
Back on the hill
Elena dances back, aiming a bullet at Brandon’s winged shoulder from before. He can’t quite get out of the way – justice prevails!
Brandon swivels his head around to look at Jamie (even under a veil!) as he runs up, but Brandon leaps at Elena, taking advantage of her unfamiliarity with the local terrain and falling more into his wolf rage. Despite her speed, Brandon is able to sink his teeth into her leg.
Jamie notes that it’s cloudy outside… perfect for his purposes. He lifts up his wedding ring focus, spits out a word of Greek, and calls a lightning bolt out of the sky onto Brandon. Due to his wounds, Brandon isn’t able to get out of the way, despite Jamie’s aim being a little off due to being high. Once the electrical twitching wears off (and everyone’s vision clears), Brandon is smoking slightly and unconscious on the ground, and has reverted to human form (naked but for a fuzzy belt). Elena removes the belt and quickly cases the scene, removing her evidence (per her system). The rest of the group arrives shortly.
Jamie takes possession of the belt.
J: I got it. I got it.
M: Ren’s uncle sent her after me to help her get it…
J: I’m gonna take it to Uncle. D’ya know why? I like bothering him. ‘Cause he hates my guts.
E: Why don’t you go together?
J: Yeah, you can come with me. Another white guy. He’ll love that…
M: Sounds like… fun?
A small boathouse on the property
Conor ties up Brandon and they take him to a boathouse on the property to question him. Elena stays near enough to listen in, but keeps a lookout. As they get set up in the boathouse, the ghosts arrive at the edge of the lake, a palpable aura of malevolence directed at Brandon. Everyone is horribly uncomfortable with their presence.
M: (to Cody) Um… when we’re done with him… does he need to… disappear?
Cody: I think so.
M: They can make that happen…
Matthew addresses the ghosts.
M: We need to know what he knows… then he’s all yours.
H: Do as you wish.
M: Thank you.
One of the ghosts of a large black man speaks
G3: But then his cracker ass is mine.
J: You’re more than welcome to it.
M: True dat.
J: (to Matthew) Ok, this is your show…
Brandon wakes up and takes in the scene. Realizing his situation and that he no longer has the belt, pees himself a bit.
M: How long has this been going on?
B: Which part?
M: (unimpressed by his evasiveness) Spill!
B: Three years ago, I figured out a better way of making money.
M: And you live here?
B: This is … my office. My real one.
M: Setting aside the … audience … here. The bodies we found in Oak Cliff – who contracted you to dispose of them?
B: Which location in Oak Cliff?
Matthew gives him the address of the crack house the group investigated the night before.
B: That… that one’s a Red Court deal.
J: Are there multiple locations?
B: I would assume. I let Hell-T take care of all that.
J: You don’t have addresses?
B: I- I have a contractor, and he takes care of it. I don’t ask.
J: But you knew that address…
B: That one’s like… the main one.
Matthew gets the sense that he’s holding something back.
M: Where else? You’re too well connected to give me that crap that you don’t know.
B: (laughing) What… what interest do I possibly have in telling you this information? I mean – I’m not giving away my only bargaining chip to get out of this…
M: (incredulous) You think you’re getting out of this? There’s 22 people here – former people here…
B: Then why would I give you any information?
M: To preserve what little might be left of your soul.
B: (giggling) I made a deal with a demonic power. I think I know where I’m going, man!
Jamie sets off another lightning bolt in the background, going all Bad Cop on Brandon. (Intimidate! – 10 shifts!)
J: There is one way out of this… and we’re it. So if you tell us what you know, I’ll get your underling to let you go. But you have to tell us what you know.
Brandon’s eyes bulge out, and the giggling turns maniacal.
B: Ok! Ok! I’l talk! Just make it all-
Brandon curls up into a fetal position, unable to stop shaking.
B: What d- what do- what do you wanna know?
B: I don’t know… I’ve only been to them a couple of times…
Brandon spills a few street names and house descriptions.
B: It’s … it’s Hell-T’s thing… I just know where they are passingly…
J: Who else have you contracted for?
B: No one! No one!
J: So just the Red Court?
B: Oh! Um… Red Court, White Court, various factions… yeah… I take care of body disposal for the various powers… Don Diablo’s come to me a couple of times, he usually takes care of it himself, but…
Brandon begins cackling insanely.
B: (stuttering) You have to understand… in this world… you’re either prey… or you’re a predator! I wanted to be a predator! I wanted to help the things that eat things get rid of…. There are a lot of things out there that want to eat… I-I-I-I just kind of get them what they want to eat.
J: I’m going to need more, for me to not let Matthew do whatever Godliness he is going to inflict on you.
B: You- you know what’s out there! Wh-wh-what more can I tell you? A-a-a-a demon comes to me and says ‘I want three virgin blondes,’ I get him three virgin blondes! I don’t ask what happens.
J: How do they contact you?
B: (still cackling/giggling/shuddering) Everyone knows me… I’m the Missing LINC! You’re the Wardsman! I make bodies disappear, and I get supernaturals the dinners they want…. That’s what I do!
J: Ranger? You have any questions?
Cody shakes his head, as taken back as the rest of the group.
J: Yeah, we’re going to need names … of the Red Court, White Court…
E: The people who you’ve serviced.
Matthew is absolutely stunned by these revelations, and has backed away from Brandon to attempt to calm down.
B: The White Court… the only one I ever worked through is… Eric. Smith. That’s the name he gave me, I don’t think it’s his real name.
J: Definitely not a White Court vampire’s real name.
E: Isn’t it, like, Desade or something?
J: The White Court is small time…
B: My main client, where I make most of my money – that’s the Red Court.
J: Who do you talk to at the Red Court?
B: Either Annalia or Miguelito. They’re both Rafa’s… Annalia is Rafa’s… (giggles)… best girl, and Miguelito is his right hand man. I’ve never met Rafa himself, but … they’re his court!
J: Who else?
B: That’s it… they’re the only ones left. That what tonight’s about, that’s why I got them all the bodies… the Christmas Eve Banquet… that’s what it is! The Christmas Eve Banquet… every year, that’s when the Court in Dallas brings in their new recruits!
B: It’s like last year, when they got ready to fight the White Council… that’s where all the recruits came from. I got them their recruits!
B: I’ve been there several times, somewhere in Cockrell Hill – a mountain… Mountain Hollow… 5748 Mountain Hollow. It-it-it’s just a little house… really nice basement. The only one in Cockrell Hill…
J: So you gathered up some humans to feed to them.
B: What kind of world do you think we live in?
Cody: How many?
B: I’ve lost count!
Cody: How many for this year’s delivery?
B: To the Red Court? Uh… they wanted a dozen. I got them a dozen.
M: From where?
B: Wherever! Off the street, wherever I find them… half are just going to be eaten. The other half… I mean, the one’s that they are going to recruit into the Court, they’ve already got those… they’ve already recruited them. I just provide the dinner.
M: So if they needed 12 bodies, that means they have 12 nascent vampires ready to fully turn.
E: Whatever. “Fully turned” is just a technical turn. As soon as they wake up, they’re going to be insane, and they’re going to kill whatever human is nearest to them.
M: There are organizations that can help them.
E: Are you one of those people that can help them?
M: Not specifically…
E: Yeah. So, they have to die. Unless you can get them before tonight?
M: Well, I have contacts…
E: Good luck with that. I’m going to plan on killing them.
M: And I’m not saying that’s not a good fallback plan…
E: They’re already vampires. They just need their first meal.
M: (to Brandon) When does the feast happen?
B: Tonight! Christmas Eve!
M: I mean what time? Midnight? Planetary alignment?
B: I’ve never been invited, nor did I ever want to go.
E: Who gave you the belt?
B: (laughs) I made a deal… with Don Diablo for it. Like I said, in this world, you’re either prey, or you’re a predator. I wanted to be a predator.
E: But you’re a guardian!
B: Nooo. (laughs) You saw what happened to the White Council… guardians die! They’re outnumbered!
E: The White Council aren’t guardians… they only watch out for their own.
B: (cackling) And nobody is watching out for anyone now!
M: I am.
E: Me, too, buddy.
B: You’ll fall too…
E: Eventually, everybody dies.
J: Are we done?
Everyone looks around. Brandon curls up, nearly completely insane.
G3: All you gotta do is walk away.
J: C’mon Matthew.
M: Give me a minute.
Matthew kneels down next to Brandon.
M: What you’ve done, can’t be undone. But you’re not beyond forgiveness.
B: Oooh yeah I am.
M: Not if you accept it… Right. Now. You cannot escape the consequences of what you’ve done, but your soul can go to a better place.
B: My soul’s gone… I sold it.
M: You can’t sell your soul. There is only one that owns your soul.
B: That’s what you say.
M: That’s what I know. And right now, the consequences of your actions, I can’t stop. But I can guarantee you that your soul will go to a better place. (Presence! 7 Shifts!)
B: What do you want from me?
M: I want you to acknowledge that what you’ve done is wrong…
B: It was wrong!
M: … and ask for forgiveness. Repent!
B: From who?
M: (exasperated) God! You idiot!
Matthew holds out his cross for Brandon to grasp. Conor is smirking in the background.
B: I’m sorry I killed all those people… I- I was afraid!
Brandon continues for a few minutes – a sincere repentence.
M: Then in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I forgive you. May God have mercy on your soul.
Matthew gets up, and walks away, nodding to the lead ghost as he does. The ghost’s visages change to the sinister, and together, they tear Brandon apart.
Once the ghosts are done, Cody and Jamie put Brandon’s body in a boat, float it out on the lake, and hit it again with a lightning bolt to sink it.
Back at the main house
The rest of the group returns to the main house to see what they can find. Elena finds his mobile phone and a tablet, and looks for any relevant contact info.
Matthew sits down in a chair.
M: I just forgave myself out of a job.
Conor: (finally getting to let out the commentary behind the smirk) Have ye ever thought about the Catholic Church? Let me just summarize for you what you just did there, laddie. Come wit’ me – let’s just take a walk.
M: I’m really not in the mood for this, Conor… not right now. I see where you’re going, and I appreciate the irony…
Conor: Oh, not as much as me, lad… not as much as me.
E: Wait… why are you out of a job?
M: ‘cause that was my boss…
M: … and I have no idea how I’m going to explain this to-
E: Maybe you’ll get promoted?
J: More than likely, I think you may have just gotten promoted.
M: Except that the office is now the center of a kidnapping conspiracy! (looks at Cody) You’re not the only person who was aware of that connection, right?
E: Yeah, but he’s dead, so they don’t have a suspect any more. Do you know how that works?
M: No, but I know that being the center of a kidnapping ring isn’t going to be great for the reputation of that office.
E: If the suspect is gone, there’s no lead to investigate there.
M: (shakes his head) It’s not about the official investigation… it’s about gossip. Street cred.
E: Will anyone know that it was even under investigation?
M: Depends on how much the gangs hear… that’ll come out of… yeah, the Texas Ranger raid of the crack house.
E: (ever the soul of sympathy) Oh, yeah. You’re hosed.
E: Maybe you should… make a new place?
M: I don’t know…
J: Why don’t you start your own thing?
E: You have enough ‘cred’ on your own.
M: For better or worse, we’ve got bigger issues – the Feast.
E: We should get some rest before that. I’d say… rendezvous in five hours? We need to get as much as we can done in daylight.
M: Umm… I’m gonna need a place to stay.
Conor: Ye can stay wit’ me. S’alright. I won’t even bring up the fact that ye’re basically a closet Catholic.
E: Ok… in five hours, at your place (to Conor)
Conor: Sure, that’s fine. I mean, I’m the only one that lives in Dallas proper, right?
Conor: Oh, waitaminnit. Waitaminnit. (checks his watch) Right, the blonde should be gone. That’s fine.
M: (shaking his head, smiling slightly) Mine is not to judge.
J: I don’t know if I can do this.
M: Do what?
E: Christmas Eve.
M: Oh – your son!
J: It’s not just Christmas Eve… if I start frying Red Court Vampires, I’m introducing myself into their game.
E: How ‘bout you get Conor to disguise you? You can do that, right?
Conor: Sure, but it’ll take me outta the fight pretty well, cause I’ll be busy. I’m not one of the Great Fae – my magic takes a bit of concentration.
Conor: I mean, not on myself, but…
Conor: But I can.
E: Jamie, could you make your own disguise?
There’s a pregnant silence as the various issues weigh on the group.
E: Let’s get out of here and talk about this in the car.
The group steps out of Brandon’s house to find the area blanketed in fog, and a robed figure in front of them.
E: Aw, @#$%
Matthew grabs his cross.
J: That’s probably not going to help you.
The Witch of White Rock Lake: You go to deal with the Vizconde of the Red Court, yes?
W: Consider: Rafa is a fool. But, if you destroy him, the Red Court will send one more powerful than he to take his place.
J: So, we don’t need to get rid of Rafa, we just need to pick around the edges.
M: We need to disrupt the Feast.
W: Do with this information as you wish.
With that, the Witch vanishes, and the fog begins to dissipate.
M: Ok, who was that?
E: The Witch of White Rock Lake.
Conor: This is her lake.
E: Yeah, I was worried about her the whole time.
J: I was interested that he lived near her.
E: I was hoping that she wasn’t involved with him.
J: She was right… Rafa’s really not much…
E: Let’s talk about this in the car – I don’t want to stay in a dead man’s place any longer.
The next morning, Conor’s Apartment
The group rendezvous at 9 the next morning.
M: We don’t necessarily have to take out the vampires, we just have to disrupt the feast.
E: We need to take out the new ones. And rescue the kidnappees who aren’t turned.
J: (to Cody) Do you have access to heavy weaponry – RPG? Grenades? High explosives?
Cody: I have methods of dealing with vampires.
J: We could just set fire to the place… take out a couple, Rafa probably lives. Pick off some of the lower end ones.
E: But we need to save the victims.
J: Saving people.
E: Don’t tell me you’re going to go all ‘White Council’ on me and say it’s not our problem.
(Some discussion about the merit/downfalls of how the council has dealt with the vampires, especially in Dallas, Jamie’s mercenary attitude about rescuing civilians)
Conor: No offense, but what the crispy critter said kind of wounded me right here – Dallas doesn’t have anyone looking out for it. I kinda… kinda like the idea. So… I kinda would like to save them.
E: That’s what I’m saying!
Conor: I just hate the idea of not… ya know, hate the idea of Barbara or Lucy getting eaten. (looks at Cody) If you have no objection…
Cody: I long ago stepped up… ‘to protect and serve.’
Conor: (to Jamie) You’ve got a different problem, with the White Council versus us independent folk. I kinda like the idea of making a stand.
E: Me, too.
J: So… you guys are hell-bent on saving people. Ok. Let’s work with that…
Jamie uses a ritual on the Hexenwulf belt to attract the ghosts of Brandon’s victims, to assist with the assault.
Conor: You’ve wanting to do for years, haven’t you? Cast a big spell in my house?
Cockrell Hill – Rafa’s house
(The assault on the Christmas Eve Feast is narrated. The group goes mid-day. Matthew blesses a box of sniper rounds for Elena and Cody, who will be set up to pick off any escaping vampires. Conor and Matthew go into the house via the local Nevernever with assistance from Brandon’s ghosts to mitigate the ugliness on that side. Jamie watches from under a veil as fire is set to the house, and Elena and Cody set up sniping positions. Conor and Matthew evacuate the kidnapees via the Nevernever while Cody and Elena take out the rest of the vampires (9 nascent vampires, plus Annalia and Miguelito) – except Rafa, who flees via the Nevernever.)
A number of Unseelie fae watched the goings-on with some interest (due to Conor’s involvement), and address him in the aftermath.
F: Thrice have ye opened ways to the Nevernever in the Mistress’ realm.
Conor: I’m aware. Is there a price right now?
F: Perhaps. The Marchioness would speak with thee, since thou art Wyldfae, and this is Winter.
Conor: Not right now.
F: Know that thou art summoned before the changing of the moon.
Conor: Right. I’ll deal with it before then.
Matthew fills in the group about the Marchioness (biggest baddest Winter fae in the Metroplex, and at the height of her power, being just past midwinter).
M: So… was that all of us? Or just you?
E: Regardless – you need me, I’ve got your back.
Conor: Let’s find out, right? I have until the full moon.
E: Well, if you want me there with you, I’m there.
Conor: I’ve been tearing through a few of her boys the past few days, so I’ve kind of been expecting this at some point.
The dozen victims need medical attention and identification – odds are that a number of missing persons cases will be solved. Matthew stays with the victims outside the burning house as the “good citizen” who helped them out for when the Fire Department arrives. Cody stays to handle the law enforcement side of things, getting the Rangers credit for breaking the rash of kidnappings in the area.
Aftermath (in no particular chronological order):
DPD talks to Matthew about everything that happened (details to come – see Matthew’s postgame).
Matthew goes up to LINC headquarters in Carrolton to check in to give them some additional concrete information about the rumors they’ve been hearing about the downtown office. He tells them that Brandon was the middleman in a rash of gangland kidnappings. He gets grilled pretty well, but they freak out. They take a few days to straighten things out.
Delivering the Belt to Uncle:
Matthew accompanies Jamie to deliver the Hexenwulf belt to Uncle. Jamie parks around back. They knock on the door.
U: Oh. So I ask you to keep my secrets and you bring another?
M: Your niece contacted me…
U: But going out to find you, and bringing you back to MY place, two entirely different things.
U: Please, come in.
J: I think you’ll be well compensated for the trouble.
U: Would you like some tea?
J: Yes, please.
U: And you?
U: REN! Tea!
Shortly Ren appears with the tea service and serves.
U: So, I take it you met the Witch?
J: Interesting that you would start there.
U: That is the reason I had Ren leave. I saw many threads of potentiality unravel with Ren at the scene. And I did not want the Witch to know my niece. Besides, I sense that you had help…
J: Enough to take care of YOUR problem.
U: You misunderstand. I detect the presence of artifacts that would do better out of mortal hands.
J: On that point, we can agree.
U: So… you recovered it, yes?
Jamie places the belt on the table.
U: Filthy things. There are too many of them in the world. Thank you.
There’s a pregnant pause.
U: What more do you require? Are you seeking compensation?
J: Perhaps to pass along to some of my help.
U: I will contact Edinburgh and discover how much the bounty is. It will, unfortunately, not be much – Hexenwulf belts are common.
M: That’s unfortunate.
U: All that is required is to make a pact with a … creature … capable of great rage. That is, unfortunately, very easy to do.
J: So, you seem like you see many threads…
J: Have you seen any… um, red threads in the last couple of hours?
U: I saw the potentiality for a powerful Lord of the Red Court coming to Dallas, but… that one disappeared. I assumed it was through your actions.
J: Not my action.
U: Through the action of you and your… compatriots? Your… sempai?
J: Perhaps some people I know. Not me, personally.
U: You tell me this, why? You still violently maintain the story you told Ren, you do not wish to be part of the White Council?
J: It’s more just to make sure that I’m not in the war.
U: Ah. You do not wish to be involved with the war. This is your reservation for joining the White Council?
J: One of many. I didn’t realize that an invitation had ever been offered. Usually it’s “You’re not White Council, you’re some mongrel dog.” That’s a term I’ve had thrown at me a couple of times.
U: White Council not monolithic entity. Many personalities involved.
U: You perhaps encounter… hard-line White Council, hai? Are you aware of situation throughout the country with war presently?
J: How is your war going?
U: For White Council, not so good. There are not many wardens left.
J: How about the Red Court?
U: Far easier to create new Red Court than White Council.
U: You can do the math yourself, hai? Problem is, who is coming to replace the power left by the White Council. Dallas is example of what will happen around world should the White Council fall. They may lose – that would be unfortunate for mortality, and not many signatories of the Accords care about mortals.
J: That much is true. Well, I just wanted to let you know that I saw some very bad things happen to the Red Court – not that I had anything to do with it.
J: But I thought that you might want to know.
U: I will pass along that which you wish to pass along.
J: Thank you for the tea, as always.
U: You are welcome. It is unfortunate you still have your reservations – you would pass the tests, of that I am certain.
J: I have no doubt. But I’ve never received a good offer.
U: Hai. Standing against the darkness to protect those you love and cherish is never a good offer.
J: Well… thank you for tea.
U: Thank you.
Jamie stands to leave.
U: One more thing!
J: (laughing) Yes?
U: What happens if there is no trained Warden in Dallas should someone decide to hunt down the bloodline of all the spellcasters. Who would protect your son?
J: That’s what I’m doing.
U: Do you really think three or four could stand against so many? Without training? Without Warden training?
J: There’s no help coming! You’re busy, remember?
U: There is no help coming if the help would be refused. It is a … fine distinction.
M: Pride goeth, Jamie…
U: Dallas needs a Warden, Wardsman. It is that simple.
J: If they are interested, have one of your Wardens contact me.
U: Are you interested? That is the more essential question.
J: I’d like to hear their case – the full case.
U: So… hai?
J: Thank you for the tea. Enjoyable as always. (as he leaves) BYE REN!
Matthew stands to leave as well.
M: It was nice to finally meet you.
U: Oh – one more thing! You should probably go and talk with your old friend from the seminary. He might be in unique position to help you with … eh… situation in your life at present.
M: I’d thought about looking him up anyway.
U: Good. Enjoy!
At Dallas Theological Seminary
Matthew goes to see his old mentor, Arthur Smyth
A: Well, how’ve you been, Mr. Consprite?
M: Well… um. Good and bad.
A: I heard you were involved with some recent unpleasantness down there at LINC. Are you here to talk? Or are you here to talk with me?
A: Ok, just a minute…
Arthur pulls out a small white gadget and turns it on – it’s a white noise generator.
A: Go ahead – you can talk, or talk – whichever you need. I understand you met Ranger Lorance?
A: Good man. Good man.
M: Wait, you know him?
A: I do.
M: O… k?
A: Special Force.
A: They help.
M: Yes… they do. Yes, he did. His assistance was invaluable in resolving the… um…
A: Believe it or not, most significant cities and municipalities have someone who’s in charge of things like that.
M: I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
A: There’s a reason that the supernaturals don’t advertise their presence. Mortality has a unique position in the world, really. They are both… you know, I really don’t like this analogy, but I’m going to use it. Think of cattle. You eat them … use them for leather, all those things. But if you stampede the herd… you see where the analogy is going.
M: And it’s strangely appropriate given Brandon’s activities
A: Right… but you can only stampede the herd so many times before the herd starts realizing that something’s going on… or at least, the cattle rancher notices.
M: Huh… that explains why Jamie was so iffy about involving the Rangers in the situation in Oak Cliff to begin with.
A: You call in the mortal authorities, it’s pretty much like declaring war by dropping a tactical nuke to resolve a border skirmish.
A: But… certain Rangers – the Special Force – they work with the limitations that most supernaturals are aware of… we more or less had this discussion when you were younger about the way things are. So, in summary, yes, I know Ranger Lorance – at least, passingly.
M: I just have no idea what my future is going to be with LINC. I mean, the downtown office is shot…
A: It’s ruined. Absolutely ruined.
M: And the higher ups at LINC itself are freaked out.
A: As well they should be. This will pretty much ruin their street cred for a number of years, so it’s going to be difficult to continue the ministry under those guises. There will need to be some damage control that happens; people will, by necessity, have to find other things to do. The work can continue, but the names and titles will have to change… it’s the nature of beast. But, your ministry is not dependent upon them…?
M: Not in and of itself, but I am dependent on it to an extent.
A: For your paycheck.
M: Yes, and my living space.
A: Speak with me about your concerns, your plans… where do you see yourself in five years?
(Aspects for Arthur – Corporate Training, Smart-ass college counselor)
M: I… I don’t know anymore…
A: What do you feel that you want to do? If… if you…
Arthur pauses to ponder for a few moments.
A: If the Master told you to come with Him and set aside your fishes… if the concerns of your body were not an issue right now… what are you thinking?
M: I’d do what I’ve been doing…
A: And you’re concerned about how you take care of your mortal body, while you go out and… What have you been doing, Matthew?
Matthew explains his work through LINC – helping small churches and communities in gangland, bringing the Word to the dark streets, etc.
A: Yes, yes, that’s your mortal ministry. What have you been doing, Matthew?
M: Oh! Well, there was a demon, and-
A: You’ve faced down a demon?
A: Continue, continue.
Matthew recounts the events of the Malignant Motorcycle Mayhem case file.
M: I’ve had some run-ins with the… “bumpy” side of Oak Cliff… the Orcs.
A: Yes, there are some unpleasant things in Dallas/Fort Worth.
M: I’m discovering that more and more. And… played a hand in stopping the resurgence of the Red Court.
A: Ah-ha… so, let me ask, now that you’ve given me this information… ask again: What is it you would do? Which do you prefer?
M: Does one have to supercede the other?
A: But one is more dangerous than the other…
M: And it’s hard to tell which, some days… the Metroplex needs more light.
A: Yes… and you would be willing to… stand as one of these?
M: I have. And I will.
A: You realize that the outcome of failure is death?
M: It always has been.
A: Dying to a gang-banger’s bullet, and dying in the ways that some of the things out there can make you die are different, son.
M: I’m aware. I saw the remnants of the possessed body that Malzen had, and I saw the remnants of what the ghosts did to Brandon.
A: And the Red Court? They can turn you, son, and you’ll live forever, consuming the flesh and souls of others. Death is not the worst thing that can happen. Death is actually one of the more pleasant ways out of your particular calling.
M: I hadn’t thought about it that way.
A: I tell you this not to frighten you – I tell you this to make you fully aware of what you are choosing. Death is a pleasant way out.
M: I understand. But I’ve seen the results of my faith made manifest too many times to walk away from it now.
A: Very well. I will speak with people I know and see what we can do. As far as your… temporal … concerns, at the end of the month, simply bring me your bills. We will, for a time, take care of it for you. You’ll be in charge of your own food and entertainment, things like that, but your rent, your electricity bills – just bring those to me and we’ll take care of them… you don’t exactly live in the Ritz Carlton, it will be a minor expense until we can resolve this one way or another. So don’t worry about the flowers of the field, Matthew – they will be tended to.
M: Thank you.
A: Continue your ministry.
M: I will.
A: Both of them. We will find resolution one way or another, but I must speak with people. Don’t worry about your rent, your electricity – but if you want cable, you’ll have to pay for that.
M: I’ve lived without it thus far, I think I can survive without it… cable and I don’t get along so good, anyway.
A: I’m aware of your unique gifts… and their curious side effects.
M: I’m still not sure if I’ve completely forgiven you for that South American mission trip.
A: You will. I have faith. I’ll see you at the end of the month? With your bills?
M: If not before.
A: We’ll take care of them.
M: Thank you.