[Game Stories] Make Earth Glorious Again

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Istrian
Orc
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:57 pm

[Game Stories] Make Earth Glorious Again

Post by Istrian »

This is a continuation of my account of my (hopefully long-runner) campaign. For the early stories check the old Torg Eternity forums here

Sadly I couldn't find a spoiler-tag equivalent, so my apologies for the lack of readability.

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Make Earth Glorious Again (or MEGA for short) is an attempt to have a multi-group Torg campaign following the official timeline as closely as possible (meaning we are going slowly while waiting for all of the Year 1 sourcebooks). Here are their (hopefully readable) stories.

The game started with seven groups (~21 players), each in a different cosm, during Day 2 of the invasion. All of the groups met on Day 40 and shuffled into 5 groups, recently turning 6 with the arrival of new players.

SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU ARE ONE OF MY PLAYERS PLEASE DO NOT READ FURTHER (including about the other PCs).

Player Characters
Active Duty
Aurore. Cyberpapacy. Young software engineering student at Toulouse's EPITECH and avid MMO gamer. During Day One she was rehearsing for her exams near the Garonne river as demons attacked. As the wounded piled up, she grabbed one and started to run away and transcended, becoming a cyberwitch.

Damien Monnet. Core Earth. Teenage rebelious youth also known among the Toulouse gangs as D-Mon. His father was arrested for conspiring criminal organisations, which led him to become the troublesome teenager he is now and to develop his unusual philosophy of private property: it doesn't exist. He's jaded, rebellious, thrill-seeking and also on the lookout for journalists seeking to cover his exploits. His Moment of Crisis came during Day One when he tried to steal a police car and found himself saving the owning policeman from the assault of demons.

Elizabeth Poliakova. Core EarthOrrorsh. An older loud-mouthed woman with gray streaks of hair who used to fervently believe in Jesus and that demons were seeking to corrupt the faithful Orthodox. Now she still believes that while kicking their asses with prayers and shotguns, which was how she transcended when Technodemons invaded Moscow in Day One.

While in Hong-Kong, Elizabeth's infiltration of Dilawar Zaidi's ship and decision to listen to the strange voices inside led to her transforming to a new reality. She has fully embraced her new home cosm, finding a Slayer's Gun goes well with her beliefs.

Alicia Kalachnikova. TharkoldCyberpapacy. A middle-aged woman who retired early from being a helicopter pilot for the Russian Army. After that she scraped enough money to buy a small, old airplane which she used to fly tourists from Moscow to Vladivostok. She helped evacuating civilians from Moscow during Day One, unfortunately the nuclear blast fried her plane's electronics in mid-air and she had to crash-land. Simultaneously she developed cigarette-lighting psionic powers.

Alicia decided to transform to the Cyberpapacy after learning their cyberware was less ugly than occultech, and her psionics turned into magical powers.

Leonid Slovokin. Tharkold. A 40-something veterinarian who struggled with his clinic's bills while treating the puddles of oligarchs around Moscow. As Tharkold invaded he found himself next to a dying soldier with nothing but a few pieces of occultech still attached to their owner. He decided to finish-off the latter to save the former and also kept some leftovers for himself.

During an expedition into the Blasted Land, Leonid met with his old university professor, Mihail Golovsky, who revealed that he was the one who forced him to drop out, because of pressure from the secret service. Since then Leonid is looking for revenge on his former teacher and those pulling his strings.

Chakrawarti Ranganekary. Orrorsh. Born in a wealthy family, he had quickly found himself a talent for business and made a great fortune in mineral extraction industry, founding his own company, Indian Steel Co. Due to idleness he had also discovered himself an obsessional interest in Hindu mythology and collecting artifacts related to that. Now aged 35, he heard about a joint expedition from Jaipur-Oxford and offered to send a few millions their way in exchange for joining the team. He had his Moment of Crisis during Day 1, after an earthquake unearthed the underground temple, he decided to lead a small group around the hill to see if anything else had been unearthed as well. His group was assaulted by bandits and he offered himself as hostage so others could go free.

Samarj Chopade. Core Earth. When a young girl, Samarj was taken in by mysterious people to be experimented upon. This led her to discovering her powers over the minds of other people. She used those to free herself from her captors and hide as a successful historian and archeologist of Jaipur University (mostly by stealing her colleagues' knowledge and publishing in their stead). Samarj lived her Moment of Crisis during the hostage situation, she managed to use her powers to draw away one of the hostage-takers, steal his weapons and save Chakrawarti.

Tobias Lynch. Orrorsh. A 17-year-old genius, finishing his medical studies at Oxford. Avid reader of any mystery novels, he was quickly drawn to resolving as many as he could find. When he heard about the expedition to mysterious India to find a mysterious old place of worship he immediately offered to join as a doctor. The offer was quickly accepted, him being good and cheap. During the first day of the invasion, the Indian guide of the expedition found himself strugglign with a crocodile, who was promptly chased off by Tobias who treated the poor man's wound.

In-soon Heo. Pan-Pacifica. On Cowoon's books as a "product owner in cloud-computing and big data solutions", In-soon is a born bullshitter, or, as they say in the trade, "social engineer" augmented with psionic powers. As he was waiting for news from Nara's infiltration, he witnessed the police repressing some actual protesters (as opposed to Infected). For once he decided to use his considerable skills to perform unpaid work by explaining to the police they were assaulting Cowon employees, the protesters whom he had hired on the spot.

Recently In-soon expanded his "product ownership" into "socially responsible third-world development" when Chakrawarti was forced to part with some of his shares in Indian Steel Co.

Garrick Heinston. Aysle. Fromer thug and mafia hitman who fled his former associated in China when he became bored by the lack of prospects. He began turning a leaf over by joining the Elgol Castle Restoration Project, although he needs constant surveillance to make sure he is not slaking off somewhere. During his stint in China he received a deep scar across the right side of his face. One night as he was walking in Elgol he heard a thug threatening an old lady for her purse, so he cut down the man in passing and walked away quietly. Since then his scar always seems to be bleeding, making him even more frightening than he used to be.

Logan MacCormack. Aysle. One of the labourers on the Elgol Castle Restoration Project. Strong as an ox and very good with an ax. The day before the viking attack a bear wandered into the village and started attacking people for some reason. Logan put him down and since then has discovered his own berzerking tendencies.

Gregor MacConnor. Aysle. Older and experienced labourer working on restoring Castle Elgol. Gregor always has a tip for youngsters about how to do things right, unfortunately his tips tend to last hours prompting people to walk away and leave him alone. He dedicates as much to his job as he dedicates to his faith, as he is a devout Protestant Christian. Recent events made one of his colleagues extremely depressed to the point of trying to jump from the castle's tower. Gregor managed to talk him down and found himself more in touch with his faith.

Muir Gilchrist. Aysle. Promotion-hungry corporate officer specializing in logistics. When his employer decided to donate some money towards Castle Elgol's restoration, Muir immediately asked to be assigned there to help out in order to use this charitable project to boost his own PR and career. The day before the viking attack Muir had a premonition about a wall that was going to fall on one the castle's workers due to a lightning bolt. Muir casually called the worker away, thus saving his life.

Sir Walter Hargreeves, aka "Crimson Gloves". Nile Empire. The 17-year-old heir to the old British Hargreeves family fortune. Like his ancestors Walter displayed a great interest in archaeology and mysteries, both ancient and recent. He dresses in high-class black clothes which he wears with red gloves and sometimes a red mask, hence his hero name. His first act during the first day of the invasion was to calmly walk up to a group of shocktroopers accusing locals of killing the Pharaoh's soldiers. He proceeded to logically demonstrate why the locals could not be responsible for the crimes they were accused of: for clearly, Crimson Gloves was the culprit! A righteous beatdown ensued.

Jonathan Hargreeves, aka "Amethyst Ninja". Nile Empire. 13-years-old younger brother to Cynthia and Walter, Jonathan spent most of his life without parental supervision in the Cairo streets, busy doing mischief. During his wanderings he saw a family of locals being evicted by the Pharaoh's soldiers. He threw some shurikens their way to force them to give chase, and tricked them to fall into the Nile.

Faith "Wendigo" Hunter. Core Earth. A Delta Force operator trained to be an expert at wilderness survival. She has guided countless missions through South American jungles. Some say her callsign comes from her time in training when she met the eponymous creature. Her top secret dossier also indicates she has latent kinetic powers.

Justice "Tooth Fairy" Rogers. Core Earth. Living Land. Cyberpapacy. The strongest man in the Delta Force, and probably the world. Roger's expertise is VIP escort, and some say he has had the privilege of taking a bullet for the President himself. His lack of social graces is properly complemented by his habit of collecting the teeth of defeated enemies, hence his callsign.
Transformed to Living Land while moving through his first Reality Storm.
Transformed to Cyberpapacy due to a Wonder being destroyed with him inside.

Song-Ho Sun. Pan-Pacifica. Younger brother of Ji-Hoon. Despite their resemblance they grew apart when Ji-Hoon decided to work for corporations and Song-Ho for the government. Song-Ho made his way through the National Intelligence Service, working as a field agent. His moment of crisis came when, the day after receiving notification of his brother's death (alongside Ji-Hoon's belongings), the restaurant he went to was attacked by thugs whom he single-handedly defeated while powered by grief.

Kwang Im. Core EarthNile Empire. Corporate mercenary whose only loyalty lies with money, he is nonetheless known to carry out his missions to the end. Between jobs he tends to lean towards bounty-hunting to pay the bills. Only a few know he has a soft spot for children. He transcended during a mission in China: the government decided to get rid of a particular orphanage where certain experiments were about to go public. Kwang abandoned his mission to save the kids.

Embraced his own heroic tendencies and desire to be a stereotypical cow-boy by transforming to the Nile Empire at the first opportunity.

Lucius Hargreeves, aka "Bronze Bullet". Nile Empire. Anyone meeting the 16-year-old tinkerer for the first time would describe him as the permanent sidekick. Lucius embraces the notion by supporting the rest of his family in their endeavors, currently his cousins Walter, Jonathan and Cynthia. His plain clothes involve lots of grease, but when trouble comes-a-calling he dons his homemade jetpack battlesuit and grabs his gizmo kit, solving whatever technical problems come forth while showing others the power of SCIENCE!

Michael Goodenough. Core Earth. Michael is the stereotypical SWAT officer: saving people during the day, practicing voodoo at night. He was in New York during the early stages on the invasion, saving people from T-Rexes and being generally badass.

Hiroto Nogushi. Pan-Pacifica. Before the invasion Hiroto was a simple white collar worker in marketing who made his way to international salesman through grit, skill and elbow. When the Contagion began to spread, he found out his employer, Magnolia Research, was knee-deep in the mess, practicing unethical research on the virus (and innocent people). Hiroto remained at his job but got in touch with the Delphi Council to work out the truth of the situation. He remains on the Magnolia payroll and keeps his affiliations secret.

Lithiel. Aysle. When the Lady of Light called for everyone to take up arms and march against Uthorion, Lithiel was one of the elves who decided to follow. When she arrived to Earth she found herself far from her allies. She found and saved a group of dwarves beset by vikings in the Scandinavian forests, triggering her transformation to a Storm Knight. Eventually she encountered a Delphi Council operative and decided to tag along and help with her mastery of the bow and magic.

Ivy. Living Land. Ivy does not remember much about her former life. In fact she is not even sure that is her real name, but as people tend to call her that (alongside a reference to something poisonous), she has made it her name for the time being. What she does remember is helping people free from Citi Field in New York, then being captured by edeinos. One of them, an optant, taught her the way of Lanala and eventually freed her.

Jack Lantern. Aysle. Irish chemistry teacher who fell on hard times and became a homeless drifter. When Aysle invaded, he found himself in a village attacked by forest creatures. He transcended by protecting the village, but, unfortunately had to set himself on fire to deal with a walking tree and died. Instead of letting him stay dead, something called out to him and brought him back to life. Now he is something of a living torch, able to project fire from his skin, alongside his magical pyromantic powers.

KIA
Nara Taisuke. Core Earth. Officially a project director in an AI software development group working for Cowon in South Korea. Actually a hacker specializing in infiltration and IT asset sabotage, as well as black magic. During Day 1, as he was working undercover in a rival facility, he discovered thugs had taken over an orphanage triggering a hostage situation. Using his formidable skills, and endangering the operation by using corporate resources, he and a few friends hacked into the orphanage's systems and remotely evacuated the hostages, thus Transcending.

Slain by a Yokai in a Taiwanese luxury hotel corridor.

Ji-hoon Sun. Pan-Pacifica. Director of a top-secret armaments and vehicles research team in Cowon who developed the Ion Gaemamusa armor based on ancient Korean cavalry design. Ji-hoon occasionally supports espionnage teams directly as the vehicles and armaments expert he is. On Day 1 he was having lunch with a friend when thugs showed up and killed the latter. Ji-hoon tracked them down and avenged his friend with their blood, triggering his Transcendence.

Slain by a Yokai in a Taiwanese luxury hotel bathroom.

On Special Assignment (i.e. players gone temporarily or permanently or having decided to try another character)
Francisco "El Maligno" Berrocal. Core Earth. Aging Cuban Revolutionary Guard who made his career through application of enhanced interrogation techniques. He has decided to turn a new leaf by switching sides and revealed his powers of telepathy to the United States in order to join one of the top secret units. He is now the Delta Force's resident psychological (and psychic) warfare specialist.

Assigned to special Delta Force operations after the Washington evacuation.

Cynthia Hargreeves, aka "Shielding Sun". Nile Empire. Twin sister to Walter. When she was 8 years old Cynthia's future as a talented child ballet dancer was shortened by a terrible accident. After that she spent many years in a coma in various hospitals, with top prosthetics and robotics scientists working for the Hargreeves family to replace her damaged body. She woke up during Day 1 in the Cairo hospital surrounded by doctors and with her parents. Then she woke up again, hours later, in the same hospital but empty of all staff or bodies, but full of bullet holes in walls. Due to a miracle of weird science she was able to use her body again though she had no memories about what happened prior to her waking up. She also found herself equipped with an unbreakable energy shield and a computational engine able to process the thoughts of people around her.

Sacrificed herself in the skies over Alexandria to eliminate a patrol of scarab warriors and an insect cloud. She miraculously survived the fire and the fall only to be captured by Mobius' goons and imprisoned in his palace in Thebes. She was freed by Snowflake wearing the Black Wing's disguise and rejoined her siblings only moments after and helped them run away from the palace.

Currently she resides in Cairo, where she is busy showing the sights to her love interest, the just-as-socially-awkward Isara.

MIA
None

Major Villains
Andre-Paul Sartan. Cyberpapacy. Aging police inspector who only values three things in life: catching criminals, efficiency, and his career in the Police (in reverse order). Unfortunately the Cyberpapacy's invasion left him in the dying "normal" police with no chances of promotion, making him eager for transfer into the more prestigious Church Police, which he achieved on his terms.

Samandriel. Tharkold. A member of the Race who had been serving technodemons until the hardpoint at the RKK Energiya museum broke her explosive collar. Since then she has violently taken control of her group, and began roaming the Blasted Land seeking to dominate anyone she encounters. Anywhere she goes, blood flows, settlements are ground to dust, and slaves acquired. Her base of operations is a former WW2 "land fortress tank" transformed to Tharkold.

Dilawar Zaidi. Orrorsh. A historian consumed by jealousy primarily directed at his elder brother and sister's success in the field. His attempts at finding an old temple were completely wiped out by the Chopade-Lynch-Ranganekary Expedition's immediate success. His rage crystallized into something much more sinister as he was given the secrets of black magic by something he barely understands... and does not care about.

Goro Saionji. Pan-Pacifica. Very young and talented strike-force leader for a paramilitary firm called Apex Security (a secret Kanawa subsidiary). During his childhood he came to hate the disarmament treaty imposed upon Japan after World War Two, and despite it having run out, holds a grudge against the Western countries that supported it. This has evolved into hatred of any foreign power trying to impose their will on "his" Japan (ironically while unknowingly working for a High Lord).

Sandstorm. Nile Empire. A villain on Mobius' payroll. Hails from Bedouin tribes and intends to bring them to greatness under the Pharaoh's rule. Currently seems concerned with gaining rank and prestige by foiling other villains' plans.

Conrad Heydrich. Nile Empire. A Swiss tourist who likes the Nazi officer movie stereotype. When the Nile invaded he decided to break out his replica Wehrmacht uniform and apply for an army position. He managed to impress the Pharaoh's advisors with his tactics to be given special military assignments from the Pharaoh himself. Unfortunately (for Mobius) Conrad does not care about victory or defeat as long as it is done with style.

Snezana Vedernikova. Tharkold. A cold-hearted Russian psychic with a tendency to turn to boiling anger when using her powers due to the pain caused by experimental drugs used at the Institute. Due to her loyalty to Volkov, the Wolf tends to lend her to various factions within Tharkold both to spy on them and to make them indebted to him.

Vinnie Torrino. Core Earth. A member of the crime families in Cleveland who quickly seized control as the Living Land arrived. Thrown out of his hometown he travels around the world trying to establish his own criminal empire. His first order of business, uniting the remainder of the Cleveland Mafia under his leadership failed when the Living Land invaded the area and the Delta Force foiled his plans. He attempted to set up independent smuggling of occultech in St Petersburg until he ran into the Moscow Survivors and was forced to play by Savlovyeff's rules.

Jin-shil Sip. Pan-Pacifica. Corporate executive obsessed with dark magic, bio-experiments and immortality. Unfortunately she lost her magical powers during the Pan-Pacifican axiom wash, and gained psionics instead. She continues her research through the Infected using her former disciples for the practical sides of ritual magic. Unfortunately her experiments in Taiwan were abandoned when they got out of hand.

Trasskass. Living Land. Young hot-blooded edeino Redjaw warlord who is trying to rise in power and influence in the hopes of founding his own clan one day. In the meantime serves the Saar with unflinching loyalty. While attempting to rally grumbling edeinos in Washington DC, he was bested in a duel by Tooth Fairy.

Yrgol Aelfridsson. Aysle. Youthful viking chieftain who wants to achieve greatness beyond what his heroic mother managed to. Currently his dreams involve of elevating himself to godhood. Unfortunately his first attempt at establishing his own land on the Isle of Skye was blunted, his forces scattered, and one of his eyes pierces by how now sworn enemy: Muir Gilchrist.

Yong-Hwan Pin. Pan-Pacifica. A scatter-brained young Korean woman who takes her corporate management job seriously. Secretly she is a ninja extremely loyal to Kanawa with a mission to ensure the smooth acquisition of Korean assets. Unbeknownst to In-Soon, Song-Ho and Kwang, she was the one to destroy the list of North Korean sleeper agents as it contained too many names on the Kanawa payroll. She became CEO of Integrated Solutions after her superior was blackmailed by North Korea.

Ariane Moreau. Cyberpapacy. Abbess of the Couvent des Jacobins in Toulouse with a nearly-fanatical devotion to her faith tempered only by her high political ambitions. On Magna Verita she used to perform cutting-edge cyberware research designed to rooting out the pagans and heretics, yet now she has to make do with what she has in Toulouse.

Finnegan MacEnraigh. Aysle. A muscular red-headed man in his fifties, often seen in his heraldic plate and kilt. Former mayor of Broadford, now fancies himself King of the Isle of Skye. He is known both to his allies and his enemies as crazy and proud of his heritage, prompting everyone to call him "The Mad Scotsman". He is also called cheater, liar, turncoat, and the bravest warrior of the Isle. The only one who said that in his presence was he himself.

Sir Percival Harlingsey. Orrorsh. Elderly Victorian occultist, ritualist and nobleman. He fancies himself no less than the Gaunt Man's rival, although he is probably the only one to agree with that statement. His knowledge of dark magic, reality meta-physics, and human psychology still make him a fearsome and manipulative opponent. Unsurprisingly, he is also a Horror thanks to Heketon's plotting against the Gaunt Man.

Professor Mikhail Golovsky. Tharkold. Cynical and sadistic doctor who has been working on psionics for the government since the fall of the Soviet Regime. Around the Institute he is known as the best talent hunter, in all meanings of the word. Despite having no powers himself he has developed a large number of countermeasures against psionics. He used to be Leonid's medicine teacher back at university and intended to make him into his assistant until the secret services told him Leonid was not loyal and needed to drop out.

Wangchuk Drupa. Orrorsh. Tibetan shaolin monk who fell to the Gaunt Man's call due to his inability to control his hatred for the Chinese. Now corruption travels through his veins as he himself travels the world in his quest for ultimate power, leaving a trail of blood and destruction in his wake.

Wilhilde the Decrepit. Aysle. Powerfull necromancer with unflinching loyalty to Uthorion brought by one-sided and single-minded love. When she is not executing the Dark One's plans, she keeps busy plotting against any perceived rivals to her love. Currently that rival is Pella Ardinay due to Uthorion's occupation of the Lady of Light's body.

Rebeca Beluci da Cruz. Core Earth. Catholic priest from Brazil specialised in exorcism. She has taken her love of the Lord and his Creation to overzealous levels of devotion. Before the invasion, the Church was able to keep her in check. This has ceased and now she rampages through the world, seeking to cleanse the filth and corruption spread by the invaders.

Talma Ehrenburg. Core Earth. Mossad agent specialized in information control and, since the invasion, world domination. Most of the time she remains an unseen force, acting through dozens of layers of intermediaries. When forced to act she maintains a safe distance, sniping her enemies while letting her mercenary bodyguards deal with getting captured and interrogated... or worse.

Katarina Luca. Cyberpapacy. Originally an inoffensive member of a charismatic guru's personality cult, Katarina found herself able to apply his teachings as soon as the Holy Cyber Conclave took over France. She was quickly captured, tortured and turned into serving Malraux against her will, summoning demons where requested. Now she seeks to break free and replace Malraux, no matter who has to die on the way.

Inola. Living Land. Originally leading an isolationist Cherokee group, Inola found herself infused with great power through one of the Living Land's Wonders, including controlling people through a mix of drugs, hypnotism and prayers. Now she seeks more Wonders and always greater powers in order to find a way to control the Living Land and make it a safe haven for her people... too bad for everyone else.

More will be added as they appear in the stories below.

Reoccuring Characters
Hyo-ri Ton. Strict Human Resources manager at Humax in Seoul. Her job also involves overseeing corporate espionnage activities, including Nara, In-soon and Ji-hoon. She prefers to keep her distance from deniable assets, even when they are direct employees of the company.

Col Catrina Santiago. Commander of the Delta Force in charge of coordinating operators such as Wendigo, Tooth Fairy and El Maligno. She is known for being concise and never wasting time with hypotheticals.

Maksym Savlovyeff. Businessman running an import-export company out of St Petersburg. His influence over the city extends as far as overseeing the sale of all salvage from the Blasted Land. Rumors linking him to the Mafia are completely founded, however his friendly and honest business-like demeanor may throw some doubts on the matter. He has a partnership with Leonid, Alicia and Elizabeth, providing them with supplies and information about good salvage locations in exchange for first dibs on anything found there. He also lent a large amount of money to Alicia in the form of an anti-radiation serum.

Behnam Baz. Leader of the Baz Brothers criminal group in Cairo. The Hargreeves siblings, under their masked identity, helped him uncover a traitor to his organisation. He has also taken a liking to Walter Hargreeves (mask-free version) and wants to help him locate his missing parents.

Vulture Seven. Mysterious radio voice relaying instructions from La Résistance to Aurore and Damien.

Kanti Bagchi. Daughter of the elder of Vijaipura. She travels with Chakrawarti and both fancy each other, however she remains mindful about
the difference in caste between them, ensuring nothing will ever happen.

Isaac Fétique. Former aircraft engineer who decided a change in lifestyle was needed. He was getting tired of doing nothing as things happened around him. The Cyberpapacy's arrival was the last straw and he decided to join the Church Police. During his training he was intercepted by Damien and Aurore and convinced to join their Resistance cell instead.

The Delphi Council Personnel. Too many to list here.
Last edited by Istrian on Mon Mar 09, 2020 1:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Istrian
Orc
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:57 pm

Re: [Game Stories]Make Earth Glorious Again

Post by Istrian »

Bordeaux, France, Cyberpapacy, Day 43
Leonid Slovokin, Aurore, Damien Monnet, Alicia Kalachnikova
The most urgent, and potentially most dangerous, lead was to save the members of the St Emilion cell probably held prisoner at the Grand-Theatre. The Storm Knights headed there. The Church Police had turned the theatre into a branch office and could be seen going in and out at all times. Civilians were also crowding the main entrance above which a holographic banner projected the unambiguous message of the day: “Denounce a heretic today”.

After observing for a while, Leonid and Aurore used their magic to disguise everyone as Church Police members and they headed inside. The ground floor was a simple reception area, prompting the group to head upstairs. They found offices and a training area where the brave crime-fighters were sparring and getting target practice under careful supervision from Hospitaliers. One such Hospitalier took direct interest in Damien, grunting “I haven’t seen you practicing much, brother.”

“And I don’t see you out catching many witches, ‘brother’” retorted Damien.

The hospitalier took offense and demanded his identity, which was provided by Aurore who had faked transfer orders. After examining the orders carefully, the hospitalier finally said “Your piety score is very low. Do you think you can laze around all day around here as well?”, attempted to grab the Storm Knight, and finished on the floor, convinced that Damien might not be as useless as he looked.

The hospitalier got up and decided to make Leonid his next victim. Another hard landing later, the knight decided to let it go without bothering Aurore or Alicia.

Leonid felt his spell would end soon and suggested he and Alicia head for the showers. Aurore followed Alicia to help with a new casting of the spell. Fortunately that ended up being unnecessary, there were enough clean uniforms for everyone.

In the meantime Damien continued heading upstairs. He found the quarters and armory but failed to hack into the latter’s security system and kept heading further up. The penultimate floor was simply a hallway following the building’s outside walls, prompting him to go further up until the hallway was cut by a wall of light. After some testing, Damien found he could just walk through, and so he did. After doing so he realized it must have been a sound dampening field as he could immediately hear the screams of a prisoner being tortured. Being a helpful sort, he headed for the door where the noise was coming from and entered to offer the torturer some help (and knock them out).

Unfortunately the priest doing the torturing took one look at Damien and exclaimed “YOU!” as they recognized each other from their brief encounter at the Resistance cell headquarters. The priest sounded the alarm and began to try to deal with Damien.

At the same time, the rest of the group had finished disguising themselves and was getting close to the field of light. Alicia and Leonid remained behind to deal with reinforcements while Aurore headed towards the torture room to provide support. At first Damien wished for support as his GodMeeter jammed. Resorting to cruder technology, he pulled out his nine-mils and turned the priest into Swiss cheese the old-fashioned way. Together they focused on freeing the prisoners and convincing them they were here to help.

The first couple of waves of Church Police reinforcements were dealt with quickly and efficiently by Alicia’s fireballs and darkness spells. Unfortunately the next one included the hospitalier from earlier, who was still standing after a fireball and a lightning bolt. At the same time, small orbs entered through the windows and manifested two jackpriests. The first one was taken out by Leonid and the other one temporarily deactivated with Aurore’s EMPs.

A yell of pain had everyone turn to Damien falling to the ground, the hospitalier’s blade through his gut. While Damien was struggling to hold on to the minuscule sliver of life, the Church Police officers suddenly exclaimed “All Hail GodNet’s monitors!” as one of them turned into a being with glowing eyes and similarly glowing circuit-patterned skin. Leaving the newcomer to deal with the Storm Knights, the police officers focused on the freed prisoners. Aurore regretted the “infiltration” operation as the monitor began showering everyone with punches, knocking her out.

Alicia decided to try to save the few remaining prisoners by pushing through the enemies and escaping with them, leaving her companions to their fate. Unfortunately she slipped and fell down the stairs. Leonid simply surrendered.

----

Tokyo, Japan, Pan-Pacifica, Night 46
Amethyst Ninja, In-Soon Heo, Chakrawarti Ranganekary, Samarj Chopade
Managing legal entanglements after slaughtering Egyptian tourists in Urayama’s hot springs proved to be more difficult than expected. In-Soon and Jonathan’s testimonies were barely challenged, however Chakrawarti’s bluff that he was called back to Tokyo by his regional manager for urgent business was not corroborated by said manager, who in fact did testify that Chakrawarti called him to ask for an alibi. In the morning a shameful Chakrawarti guiltily admitted to having an affair with his assistant, Samarj. This time the police decided to stop digging further.

The Storm Knights met up after nightfall, in front of the offices of Asset Management Associates. Samarj had investigated the place earlier, the AMA offices barely occupied half a floor in the skyscraper. Most of their employees apparently managed assets from home and the offices were never visited by clients. The group decided on a straight-up infiltration, with Samarj and Amethyst Ninja sneaking inside to steal the identity of the one who had employed them to sabotage relationships between the Hosui and the Shiroma. In-Soon and Chakrawarti remained on the floor landing to offer support if required.

Support became required fairly quickly. Samarj and Amethyst Ninja skillfully avoided security cameras and the occasional Asset Manager going out for a smoke. However Samarj was puzzled as she could sense many more lifeforms than she could see. She wondered if her psychic cloud had similar deficiencies and attempted to physically check one of the areas where she could sense a hidden presence. The hidden presence made itself known as a ninja wearing chameleon clothing.

Chakrawarti blasted the entrance door open just as more ninjas appeared out of the walls and the various Asset Managers, including the CEO, left their offices to join the deadly fight. The Storm Knights quickly discovered the ninjas, while hardly deadly in a straight-up fight, carried poisoned blades requiring careful handling. While Chakrawarti and Samarj blasted ninjas left and right, Amethyst Ninja and In-Soon focused on breaking into the computer room in order to find the original information they were looking for. Unfortunately someone had triggered a data purge and In-Soon had to scrape whatever information was available. At the same time, police sirens were heard in the distance.

Eventually only the AMA CEO was left standing, trying to flee the scene. The infamous lotus poison had been handled by Amethyst Ninja’s opportune finding of a Delphi Council cache of antidotes. Unfortunately In-Soon could not get enough intelligence about the one who had hired AMA, the only thing he could find was that they were hired to prevent the Delphi Council from establishing channels into Japan, confirming their involvement in the situation between the Shiroma and Hosui, as well as the Tian Dao Man and Nishin situations. Before the enemy CEO could flee, Chakrawarti splattered her brains across the wall to prevent her from carrying out further schemes against the Delphi Council. After that, the Storm Knights fled the scene while the police were still deploying.

The next few days were spent settling things between the warring families. The Storm Knights had the displeasure of discovering this meant a literal change of family head in the Urayama family. Sadly the Nishin situation escalated too quickly, with the pro-Delphi Council CEO resigning and the company being absorbed into a larger conglomerate. Their mission finally over, In-Soon led the others to enjoy the local after-work corporate passtime: karaoke booths.

----

London, United Kingdom, Aysle-Core Earth, Day 47
Wendigo, Tooth Fairy
“Where do you want to be dropped?” asked the helicopter pilot. Wendigo and Tooth Fairy surveyed the partially-transformed, partially-destroyed city below.

“How about that big clock tower over there with the big humanoid skeleton lying nearby. Must be a landmark or something.” answered Wendigo.

The helicopter landed near Big Ben and the Storm Knights went to have a chat with the force holding the location, which turned out to be a hardpoint. The local forces were part Royal Army, part Army of Light. “Do you serve Light or Darkness?” was the challenge heard from the battlements.

Wendigo shouted back, unironically “Freedom and the United States of America.”

The answer stirred the defenders somewhat, with a gruff voice claiming they were forces of Darkness, while another, calmer, simply tried to explain the geopolitical situation outside Aysle. Eventually the Storm Knights were invited inside and shared some news and gossip.

The news was good. Since the Battle of London, the Army of Darkness was still retreating from the Army of Light, somewhere far to the north-west. The city was safe enough to wander during the day, but at night the locals seemed to prefer the safety of the many well-guarded buildings in town. In addition, Prince Edward had explained that the city’s reality was going to revert to Aysle soon and most modern military assets had been moved into hardpoints. The officer in charge of Big Ben admitted to not understanding what all of that mumbo-jumbo meant but followed orders to the letter.

Tooth Fairy asked for directions and the Storm Knights departed for their destination. On the way they stopped by various stalls, looking at the goods merchants were selling. One of them caught Wendigo’s attention with his sales pitch “Healing potions, only 700 gold apiece!” Wendigo quickly realized the merchant would not take paper money and instead traded one of her composite bows for a potion.

The operators eventually arrived to Battersea Power Station. The place was in the process of being upgraded and reopened. Fortunately it was also secure and the Storm Knights finally met with Roger Llewellyn, their local coordinator. While the Storm Knights were already aware of their mission and Llewellyn filled in the details.

“The Lady of Light will be arriving tomorrow, most likely by the M40 from Oxford with her escort. She will most likely head straight to the quarters prepared for her at St James Palace. She will meet with Chairman Sebastian in the evening. The next day she will tour various historic locations around London, with a BBC interview in the evening. On the third day she intends to visit hospitals in order to heal the wounded and cure the sick, which should take the whole day. On her final day the only plans we have on our side is a reception at St James’ with various officials and celebrities attending.”

“She will have her own security detail and the Royal Army will be providing an escort as well, so you will not be required to follow her everywhere. However we have been made aware that a number of Stormers are probably operating in the city and may attempt to disrupt her visit. In a deadly manner.”

After inquiring about the various rumors, the Storm Knights decided to start by contacting a powerful local diviner who could be of help. Llewellyn also provided some advice in matters of etiquette when interacting with the followers of Light, and insight into the political situation in the country.

“There’s something important we have to do before that” said Wendigo. “Where’s the closest McDonald’s?”

As it happened, one was still open near the Buck House hardpoint. Both Storm Knights were very disappointed when they found out it had been taken over by one Owen McDonald. His cuisine, however, lifted their spirits, especially the fried calamari rings which he claimed were from a kraken. Tooth Fairy also managed to find out that Owen was familiar with Salford, the diviner they were looking for. They had studied at Oxford together.

Sated, the Storm Knights headed for Salford’s tower, in the middle of a now-abandoned residential district. The place had been abandoned both because of the Battle of London, and because people did not feel entirely safe with a wizard in the neighborhood. Knocking at the door produced no result and the Storm Knights confidently opened it and entered.

They looked confidently at the three fire-eyed black dogs that greeted them in the middle of the tower’s reception area. The room had clearly been ransacked, and the Storm Knights confidently began shooting and stabbing.

Their confidence quickly evaporated as the dogs were barely scratched by their assault and two of them bounced upon Tooth Fairy, nearly biting his arm off. The third one breathed fire upon Wendigo who was saved only by an upturned table nearby. The hounds continued their relentless assault until Wendigo finally managed to land a shot upon one of them: it exploded into a ball of fire that immediately collapsed upon itself. Tooth Fairy stabbed the second one. The third one prepared to pounce upon Wendigo, whose hand stopped on a round blue orb she threw at it. The orb seemed to absorb the fire from the dog until it vanished as well.

Salford was not found in his tower. Every single floor contained signs of fighting, with drops of blood and torn flesh in places. Wendigo found a hidden strange room, hexahedral and lines with mirrors. As she entered a head materialized in the middle. It was an old wizened man with a long white beard.

The head was quickly identified as Salford’s, who had been abducted moments earlier. He had no idea where he was but was elated at finding out his newest magical invention worked so well, even if the communication side-effect was unintended. “Originally I was making this room in order to look into my mind to help with focusing and meditation. I guess now everyone else can also have a look in my mind.”

Salford was unable to provide his location or the identity of his abductors, but he suggested taking some samples of blood to any run-of-the-mill diviner who should be able to scry for his location. In addition he had a magical item stashed in his fountain. The communication was cut off abruptly with Salford’s head vanishing. Dutifully, Tooth Fairy collected some samples of flesh and blood for later, while Wendigo retrieved the item, some kind of magical longbow that shot bolts of lightning.

The two Storm Knights returned to Battersea Power Station to ask for help finding a diviner.

----

London, United Kingdom, Aysle-Core Earth, Night 47
Wendigo, Tooth Fairy, Muir Gilchrist
A diviner was found very quickly. In fact one was waiting in Roger Llewellyn’s office when Wendigo and Tooth Fairy came in. It was Muir Gilchrist, Lord of Elgol Castle. Muir had just arrived through the Land Between alongside Lord Rhys and his other allies on the Isle of Skye in order to take part in the meetings with the Lady of Light.

After a quick round of introductions the Storm Knights returned to Salford’s tower, where Muir believed his scrying had the most chances to succeed. His intuition turned out to be right as Salford’s fountain was, in fact, enchanted to help with divination spells.

Salford’s aggressor and his surroundings quickly appeared on the surface of the water. The place looked somewhat old and very industrial, and the bank of the Thames could be seen through a dusty broken window. Wendigo also noticed an old sign with what turned out to be the name of the factory.

The Storm Knights’ attentions were drawn to an unusual contraption in the middle of the factory, some sort of high-tech construct of wires, steel, polymers and lasers. People were working around it, calibrating it for something. One of the people said it was ready for a new run and ordered another to bring one of the subjects. A woman was brought in and attached to a pole in the middle of the contraption. Some sort of field went up around her as lasers began gathering energy.

A quick burst of light later, the woman was gone. Only a small gem hung in mid-air. Moments later it shattered. The leader of the technicians shouted in anger and hit one of his subordinates, who seemed used to the treatment. Muir willed the image to fade as they began recalibrating the device.

The Storm Knights quickly found the factory. With another spell and using Tooth Fairy’s shadow, Muir located the prisoners held in cages. Only three remained. Wendigo snuck inside the factory, on a walkway above the contraption, and Tooth Fairy flexed his muscles.

Moments later, a group of Tharkoldu thralls was very surprised as an angry power-armored fairy demolished the factory wall and smashed them into another wall. Muir followed through the new entrance and shrunk the prisoners so they could move out through the cage bars. Wendigo began taking pot-shots at the technicians while they activated the contraption on yet another prisoner.

A door opened and a wizard came out, hurling lightning bolts and insults at the Storm Knights, who worked towards deactivating the machine. They prevailed, and after doing so quickly eliminated the wizard and the leader of the thrall technicians. The remaining ones fled.

As the Storm Knights were about to examine the debris, they heard the sound of tires sliding on asphalt and ran out. A black van had arrived outside and people in black suits were trying to grab the prisoners they just saved. Tooth Fairy returned the grab while Wendigo shot out one of the van’s wheels. With an anti-tank rifle. One explosion later, two of the black suits were held against the wall by an unflinching Tooth Fairy. The first to regain consciousness decided to talk after some encouragement.

He spoke with a recognizable Russian accent and explained they only wanted to ask the prisoners some questions. They were working on unraveling something they called the Tharkoldu Enigma. The explanation was long-winded, Tooth Fairy and Wendigo stopped at “It’s political” while Muir listened with interest.

The MiBs were former FSB agents who had gone rogue after Volkov surrendered to the invaders. The agents were on their own, trying to find anything to use to help the motherland. Locally, they were after a high-ranking thrall named Fhals whom they believed to be in possession of information that could help them understand who is on whose side in Russia. Incidentally they were unhappy at losing most of their team in the van explosion.

Wendigo apologized and offered to introduce them to the Delphi Council, a proposal the agents did not appreciate, believing the Delphi Council to be somewhat in league with the invaders, at the very least through the United Nations and Volkov. In the end the Russians still provided a way to contact them while in London.

----

Tula, Russia, Tharkold, Day 48
Bronze Bullet, Elizabeth Poliakova, Gregor MacConnor, Logan MacCormack
After sorting the fate of Korsakovo Hardpoint, the Storm Knights decided to take a side-road and follow a business opportunity from Savlovyeff. One of his clients, an Estonian philanthropist millionaire, wanted a number of historical samovars from the Samovar Museum in Tula. Apparently the city was a stronghold of resistance against the Russian government, prompting the latter to besiege and bombard the city.

As the freshly-repaired This Is Not A Tank approached the city, the Storm Knights surveyed the situation. The Russian army was nearly literally laying a siege. Hundreds of soldiers supported by heavy artillery and tanks. Fortunately no aerial support was visible. The group decided a direct approach: break through.

Trouble came in a small patrol pf Russian army vehicles, demanding they halt and submit to a search. Elizabeth hit the gas pedal, Gregor prayed for Dunad’s blessing, Logan leaped upon an enemy vehicle and Bronze Bullet engaged his jetpack. At the same time artillery fire rose from the direction of Tula. Fortunately the aim was off and one of the shells fell on an enemy instead. Lucius confused another driver and sent them careening off-road.

The Russians responded in kind, their mounted machine-guns shredding the radiation-proof truck (and Bronze Bullet) like Swiss cheese while trying to push it off the road. Elizabeth did her best to keep things under control at the wheel, but she and Gregor were hard-pressed for a breather. Things became slightly peachier when Gregor realized an artillery shell was heading straight towards them and the truck was nearing its last moments. Praying for the best, he climbed atop the roof and leaped on an intercept course towards the shell, shield held forward. It was only Dunad’s grace and Gregor’s growing mastery over reality that led to him staying alive.

Logan and Bronze Bullet took care of the final matters before the last enemy vehicle was made to surrender. The soldiers on-board were bound and left nearby to be found later.

Once that moment of violence had passed, the Storm Knights realized they were still far from the city and This Is Not A Tank was not far from exploding. The initial plan was reconsidered for a more subtle approach. It involved continuing on foot and a lot of searching.

Eventually Logan found what everyone was looking for: a sewage pipe leading into Tula. Gregor opened the way and, after a half-hour of walking, motioned for everyone to stop. There were strange discs on the walls. Bronze Bullet examined them and determined them to be crawler mines. The nasty kind that latches onto someone’s head before exploding. Fortunately, despite his lack of knowledge in this technology, he managed to disarm them and kept one as a souvenir.

Emerging inside the city, the Storm Knights observed the situation. Combat was still on-going but stayed in the outskirts. The city center, one the other hand, was heavily patrolled by people who looked like former thralls. Deciding to avoid trouble, the group used the side-streets to avoid the patrols. While passing near one of them, Elizabeth realized they spoke very good Russian, going as far as to call each other “Comrade”.

The Samovar Museum looked oddly under siege in a city itself under siege. The “Thrall Comrades” had checkpoints and patrols running around the outside, while the inside was sealed and barricaded. The Storm Knights waited for a gap in the patrols and ziplined into the building. Their entry was far from stealthy and a shabby museum patrol arrived on-scene. Elizabeth’s attempt at diplomacy ended with a gesture towards Logan, who was hiding nearby, to take care of the patrol.

Logan misunderstood completely and attacked. Suddenly one of the civilians in the patrol began floating in mid-air and manifesting flashes of psychic energy while the others dived for cover. A massive shockwave propelled Bronze Bullet through the window, to the “thralls” waiting outside. His attempt to activate his jetpack ended in a disconnection and he had to run circles around the museum while avoiding patrols.

Back inside, the Storm Knights dealt with the strange psychic entity and Elizabeth “persuaded” the patrol leader, a local former police officer, to help them. In the meantime Bronze Bullet had reconnected and was able to jetpack his way back up.

When asked about the situation, the police officer explained that he and a large number of refugees barricaded themselves in the museum when the communist thralls took over the city. The Storm Knights made their way to the valuable exhibit and interrupted someone who was in the middle of pocketing valuable samovars. The thief attempted to flee but was stopped by a shot in the back from Elizabeth. Unfortunately, a lethal one. The Storm Knights still found the man’s keys and passport pointing them to a nearby address.

Evening fell and the Russian army apparently halted the assault. Normal people were out in the streets, looking for something to entertain themselves. The Storm Knights were thus finally able to move around normally. The thief’s apartment was quickly located and searched. Some samovars were inside but clearly not all of the missing ones. Gregor found a picture of the thief with four other men. The writing on the back indicated they were buddies who had been through military training together. Elizabeth listened to a message left on the answering machine which indicated someone named Lyonka was in hospital because of a plan that fell through and that the recipient of the message should bring the packages to the usual address.

The police officer knew which hospital was implied by the message and was easily able to gain entry for the Storm Knights, introducing them as foreign doctors coming to help. A nurse looked dubiously at the bare-chested Logan, wondering if the axes were for quick surgery. They were still allowed to see the young, bandaged man named Lyonka. Gregor displayed his medical proficiency by channeling Dunad, and the young man regained consciousness. He was grateful, although a bit delirious, and gave the Storm Knights his dog tag, telling them to give it to one of his friends in the Tula Kremlin for a reward. The name of the friend matched one of those in the picture.

----

London, United Kingdom, Aysle-Core Earth, Day 48
Wendigo, Tooth Fairy, Muir Gilchrist
The Storm Knights, alongside British soldiers and various nobles awaited on the former M40 motorway for the Lady of Light’s arrival. Wendigo and Tooth Fairy were annoyed to discover the notion of “being on time” in a medieval society meant that they would arrive sometime during the day. Bored and tired, the two Delta Force operatives dragged Muir into going off to intercept them on the road.

A couple of hours later, they were stopped by an Aylish patrol demanding their identities. The three Storm Knights introduced themselves and Wendigo and Tooth Fairy got an immediate taste of Aylish culture when the patrol’s leader asked “Who knighted you?”. Both operatives answered “Obama.” The patrol decided to adopt a careful stance with an unknown foreign leader’s name. Fortunately Muir was a noble and had little trouble vouching for their allegiances.

The patrol was a forward group of scouts from the Lady of Light’s entourage. The Storm Knights rode on and discovered they were worried over nothing. Pella Ardinay traveled with a large enough contingent to deal with most common threats, and possibly many uncommon ones as well. They were introduced to the High Queen and her companions from the three major houses.

By the middle of the afternoon, Ardinay entered London. However, the Storm Knights groaned when she decided to stop in the middle of an avenue to immerse herself in the local culture. It involved shopping for shoes and watches. The Storm Knights remained watchful and their carefulness was rewarded when Wendigo noticed a hand dart out of a pile of clothes and snatched a purse from one of Ardinay’s retainers. Wendigo pursued while Tooth Fairy took up defensive position near the Lady of Light and Muir scanned the ceiling for hidden ninjas.

Wendigo pursued her target down to the metro tunnels and finally managed to grab him. She was very disappointed when he turned out to be a common thief. Disgusted she let him go with the purse and began to backtrack only to realize she had somehow gotten lost in something that definitely did not look like the metro.

Back in the shop, no dangers were forthcoming but the Lady of Light decided to avoid further risks and agreed to her escort’s suggestion to head directly for St James’ Palace. Tooth Fairy radioed Wendigo but was unable to reach her. After a while, he and Muir decided to go look for her and became lost in the Land Between as well.

----

Tula, Russia, Tharkold, Night 48
Bronze Bullet, Elizabeth Poliakova, Gregor MacConnor, Logan MacCormack
The Tula Kremlin was abandoned, probably due to the lack of tourists. The interior was extremely dark as well. As they were progressing through the darkened rooms, looking for Lyonka’s gang, they became targeted by silent gunfire. While Elizabeth tried to explain they were friends of Lyonka, Bronze Bullet turned his flashlight on and quickly confirmed the people attacking them were probably not the right ones. Rather than street thugs, they looked like corporate managers wearing night-vision goggles. In contrast, two bodies looking very much like street thugs lay on the floor.

Deciding that prisoners were overrated, Logan hefted his axe and GLORIOUSLY turned half of the suits into mincemeat. Elizabeth, Gregor and Bronze Bullet managed the other half just as another one entered from a doorway. Assessing the situation, the man pulled out a syringe and injected himself with it. Suddenly he began to mutate until he looked like an undead monster (still wearing a suit). Despite the creature’s frightening appearance, the Storm Knights had little trouble hacking it to pieces, then hacking each piece to pieces again for good measure.

The Storm Knights found a survivor among Lyonka’s people and patched him up as well. He told them the full story. They had been contacted by Korean businessmen to steal a specific samovar from the museum and decided to grab the others for good measure. While they were waiting for the businessmen to arrive to take possession of their new samovar, they were attacked by vikings who fled with the priceless antique. After listening to the story, Elizabeth pulled out five grand and gave them to the thug for hospital fees. Then the Storm Knights left after finding out the Koreans and the vikings had left towards the north. Elizabeth thanked the police officer for his help and told him to go home.

The Storm Knights “obtained” a van to transport their growing samovar collection and drove towards the north. They quickly came upon an interesting sight: a sports car and two motorbikes pursuing a half-dozen horses through the no-man’s land between the city and the Russian army. Elizabeth floored the gas pedal and the chase was on.

The van quickly gained ground on the horses and Gregor grabbed the samovar from the vikings’ saddlebags, noticing the leader was a young, muscular man with an eyepatch who reminded him very much of the one who had led the assault against Elgol Castle in the early days of the invasion. Dissatisfied with the speed of their horses, the vikings leaped on the Korean sports car and the van. One of them began hitting the van’s windshield, sending glass shards into Elizabeth’s face.

Bronze Bullet decided to have a plan, jumped off the van near a destroyed Russian tank, and began tinkering with it. In the meantime, Elizabeth tried to lose the sports car while shooting at the motorbikes, which were quick to explode.

Surprisingly, the Russian army was not keen on shelling the various vehicles. The cause became apparent as the van passed near one of the Russian camps: the soldiers were busy fighting their brothers-in-arms-turned-Infected. A stealth helicopter dropped out of the sky, with a Korean woman leaning out, gesturing towards the van. Suddenly Gregor felt a grip around his neck and the viking chieftain seized the opportunity to try to grab the samovar. Gregor did not let go and a fight began on top of the van for control of the prized relic.

Bronze Bullet finished his tinkering, began shelling the woman in the helicopter with his homemade mortar while trying to catch up with everyone. She was able to keep control of both her life and the helicopter. Fortunately it broke her concentration and Gregor could breathe again. Suddenly Elizabeth yelled “DUCK!” and Gregor dropped to the van’s roof. The viking chieftain brandished his axe to strike the final blow, and then was sent flying off the roof by a passing tunnel. The helicopter gave up the pursuit as Russian air superiority vehicles approached.

The Storm Knights regrouped and returned to This Is Not a Tank, then examined their prize. The samovar’s decorations had nice shades of red and blue and it pulsed with possibility energy. A quick look inside found ashes. Human ones. The Storm Knights decided to withhold this piece from Savlovyeff and give it to the Delphi Council instead. In the end Savlovyeff was still satisfied with the rest of the samovar collection and gave the Storm Knights their share of the proceeds. Bronze Bullet found himself conflicted between the feeling of having a lot of money for his experiments, and the idea of receiving it from someone with very likely ties to the mafia. In the end greed prevailed.

----

Swansea, United Kingdom, Aysle, Night 48
Kwang Im, Song-Ho Sun, Garrick Heinston, Tobias Lynch
Aboard the HMS Richmond, the Storm Knights were getting ready. The original plan to disembarked directly in Swansea had been scuttled as soon as the ship’s captain noticed the city was in enemy hands. The option of going to Bristol, with a longer land journey to the final destination, was unanimously rejected as the Storm Knights opted to disembark in Swansea under cover of darkness.

As soon as the lifeboat docked, Garrick surveyed the damage. Overturned carts and broken weapons lay around the pier, but he did not see as many dead bodies as he had initially expected. The group decided to check one of those. While Tobias was inspecting the body, a man who had clearly died from multiple arrows to the gut, an ambush was sprung! Multiple assailants leaped on the overturned carts and peppered the Storm Knights with arrows while others advanced upon them armed with spears and staves.

In a single draw Song-Ho cut down four opponents on one side while Tobias stunned the archers with his spells. Kwang and Garrick provided firearm support and the initial ambush was quickly routed. More assailants, however, were coming out from further inside the city. Garrick decided to pursue one of the runners while the other Storm Knights were called by a discrete “Psst, over here” from one of the buildings.

As Garrick ran through the streets after his attacker, he realized he would quickly be outnumbered by the opponents coming from everywhere. Abandoning pursuit he darted into a side-street, where someone helpfully offered to hide him in a barrel. Garrick leaped in after disguising himself as a woman. The disguise turned out to be difficult to maintain, as the barrel was overturned and rolled elsewhere, especially when the elsewhere turned out to be steps.

A dizzy Garrick came out of the barrel in a dark basement. The other Storm Knights were there as well, alongside an old woman who was introduced as Swansea’s mayor, Chelsea Stewart. After asking them who they were, she implored the Storm Knights to help save the city. While the willing locals were more than enough to deal with the bandits, the real trouble came from the leaders of the invasion. Two ogres, one of whom was a Stormer. Kwang and Song-Ho quickly agreed. Tobias and Garrick decided to stick around anyway.

The group slunk through through the dark streets back to a crumbling warehouse on the docks, where the two ogres had made their headquarters. One of them was sitting on a throne of bones while chewing on an unfortunate human. The other was watching the sea and horizon, as if lost in thought.

Song-Ho charged the ogre sitting on the throne, supported by Kwang’s colt from afar and Tobias’ and Garrick’s spells from even further. To Song-Ho’s surprise, the ogre still stood, and even proved to be a very dangerous opponent. The second ogre, far from being distracted by the sound of the sea, walked towards Tobias and Garrick at the back and began mauling them. Garrick was propelled backward and smashed into a wall. GLORIOUSLY, he survived, with barely a scratch for his troubles. At the same time, a group of bandits approached the battle from the back and began taking pot-shots at isolated Storm Knights.

Tobias realized he was now alone, facing a reality-rated ogre in close combat. This made him happy, as it had been a while since he had had the opportunity to use his reality-rending ritual. He proceeded to slowly drain the hulking humanoid’s possibility energy while at the same time trying to survive.

Song-Ho was hard-pressed as well. While he was able to deflect most of his ogre’s bone-shattering blows, his own strikes seemed to barely put a dent in the massive beast. Kwang, under arrow fire, decided to change his strategy and began supporting Song-Ho instead of attacking the beast. Together they were able to finally fell the beast with Song-Ho cutting off its head. The other ogre entered a blood rage, swearing to bring death upon his brother’s slayer, and charged at Song-Ho. By then Tobias was done with his work. He was covered in blood, but the ogre’s possibilities were out of this reality. With another strike, this time supported by Garrick, Song-Ho cut off the last ogre’s head. The bandits fled.

The Storm Knights realized they were hearing sounds of battle from everywhere around the city. The local militia was clearly winning and the city quickly freed from the ogre brothers’ tyranny. The Storm Knights received the keys to the city, alongside a sizable reward, a few magic trinkets, and an invitation to a banquet in their honor.

The Storm Knights seized the opportunity to look for a Seeker as part of their mission. They discovered none were available. Most of them were gone, the locals surmised on various missions. The group paid a visit to a local Seeker’s home, one Gerrold, but found his house empty with traces of a struggle.

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Havard
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Re: [Game Stories]Make Earth Glorious Again

Post by Havard »

Very cool! I love reading about games set in the Reality Wars.

If you need the Spoiler Tags, the "Hide" Button can be used :)

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Re: [Game Stories]Make Earth Glorious Again

Post by Istrian »

Havard wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 6:03 pm
If you need the Spoiler Tags, the "Hide" Button can be used :)

-Havard
Thanks. I tried that but it only hides the text. I was hoping for something that creates a "folding" text to make sections easier to read.

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Re: [Game Stories] Make Earth Glorious Again

Post by Istrian »

Bordeaux, France, Cyberpapacy, Day 44
Leonid Slovokin, Aurore, Damien Monnet, Alicia Kalachnikova

The heroes were separated by their captors, held in different interrogation rooms and subjected to excruciating pain, both physical and mental. Alicia and Aurore had no trouble abstracting their surroundings and ignoring the demands and questions of their interrogators. Leonid, after annoying his with a now-familiar “Russian Tourist, DA!” impression, managed to free himself from his chains and began fiddling with wires behind a panel. Damien, in between his physical wounds and his lost mojo, had trouble finding good taunts to make his Church Police interrogator give up ground.

Aurore had an unexpected visitor who said “Well well. Aurore. I did believe we had an agreement. You were expected to keep running away until I was the one to arrest you.”

She immediately recognized Inspector Sartan, with whom she had shared information a long time ago, in Toulouse. He still looked like his old self, with the exception of now-upgraded eyes and an apprentice hospitaller in tow. Momentarily speechless, Aurore let the inspector do the talking. He was still as methodical and manipulative as before, but eventually decided to move on.

Damien seemed to be the focus of the interrogators. Now it was the hospitalier’s turn to take a stab at him. The interrogation was cut short by a scream of pain… from the hospitalier. He had received a powerful electrical discharge from the button he used to electrocute Damien. On the other side of the wall, Leonid muttered “Not this wire either.”

Unfortunately the hospitalier was replaced by Sartan. Damien was somewhat relieved that someone still called him a “criminal” rather than “heretic” or “blasphemer”. The inspector paused in the middle of a question and turned towards a wall. In other cells, the Storm Knights’ respective interrogators also stopped.

A hologram appeared, displaying Bordeaux. In the sky above, a giant holo-Malreaux began a speech full of regret, bordering on tears, at having failed to make the Flesh strong enough to go to the Promised Land.

“But if the pilgrim cannot go to the Promised Land, I will bring the Promised Land to the pilgrim.”

With that a giant holographic mountain appeared outside Bordeaux, while the masses in the streets sank to their knees and directed their prayers towards the Cyberpope.

“Therefore today is a Day of Grace. All of you may leave your work and join in the pilgrimage to the Promised Land. All crimes are pardoned, so that everyone can bask in the glory of GodNet.”

The Church Police officers interrogating the Storm Knights fell to their knees as well. The hospitalier wept. Only inspector Sartan was frowning and decided to make a call to one of his superiors who decided that mere “criminals” were worthy of being pardoned.

The Storm Knights were escorted by a large number of armed people to the local chapel. Dozens of benches had been placed outside the chapel, people sat as they arrived and priests placed electrodes upon their temples as the faithful prayed. A few lucky (or unlucky) ones were led inside instead. The Storm Knights were among these and had the leisure to sit upon slightly more comfortable benches. Alicia and Aurore were graced with a cable connection through their data jacks.

The visit to the Promised Land was unlike anything Aurore and Damien had experienced before. They were getting used to the lattice environment with walls of numbers. Now the experience was complete with buildings, streets, and people. Also, the Mountain.

After getting used to the place, and since they were left to their own devices, the Storm Knights decided to pay a visit to the chapel the Sauternes resistance cell used. They found three priests helping some faithful getting oriented. As the group lacked any ideas to use the contact code phrase, Leonid decided to do so with the grace and subtlety of a Tharkoldu truck clearing a roadblock: he went to confess his sins.

Leonid began “Father, forgive me for I have sinned. As I was walking in the street I saw someone had written graffitis all over the divine creation. I scrubbed them off.”

The priest answered “There is nothing to forgive. Keeping God’s creation clean is not a sin.”

“But while I was cleaning I could not keep from reading the blasphemous writings. I cannot get them out of my head. It was written ‘Jean-Jacques Rousseau was here.’ I cannot sleep knowing I let the demons inside me.”

“Do not worry my son, for you are clean of any demons.”

“That is not all, Father. Due to the shock from the event I have started drinking. You cannot imagine the number of bottles of St Emilion I have emptied. I have tried going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, you know, the ones Rue de Paris.”

“That is terrible my son, but you are clearly doing your best, and the Flesh is weak, and you are hereby absolved and pardoned. Now get going, the Promised Land awaits.”

Faced with the lack of progress, the group decided to return later, in the Flesh, and went to explore the Mountain instead. The visit was fruitful, the Storm Knights enjoyed the shops and restaurants (especially those on the third level). Damien even tried to get souvenir t-shirts of Malraux. An infinite amount of them.

Once the fun was over the group decided to return to reality. However something seemed to go wrong and they found themselves floating in front of a giant wall covered with circuitry. Moments later they realized the wall was in fact a giant black cross. It talked to them.

“Greetings, Storm Knights of the Delphi Council. You have now been in the Promised Land. Return to your masters and omit no details of your journey. Go with my blessing and that of my servant, and spread the glory of GodNet.”

After that the group found themselves back inside the chapel, shocked, awed and frightened. And, in Leonid’s case, with a severe case of GodNet withdrawal. As promised, they were allowed to go.

And go they did. In the direction of the Sauternes chapel. Inside, they did not have to wait long. A priest went towards Leonid and asked if he had something to help Emile with his education. Leonid scratched his head and showed his stash of St Emilion vintage wines. Now it was the priest’s turn to look puzzled. Eventually Aurore remembered that “Emile, or On Education” was one of Rousseau’s major publications and tried the code phrase. The priest finally seemed satisfied and somewhat relieved and invited them to the next room to talk.

The conversation was extremely confusing. The priest spoke of the Inquisition, the Church being infaillible, yet at the same time about heretics hiding inside, about some place nearby that was somehow involved in something, and about a book that needed to get into the right hands. At the very least, from the priest’s behaviour it was obvious he was under surveillance. Probably by his own literal right hand.

Outside the chapel, the Storm Knights put their minds together to try to solve the puzzle. Alicia thought that they needed to go to the provided address, find a book, and bring it somewhere. Damien was convinced of the same, plus blowing the place up in the name of the Inquisition. Leonid preferred his own version, go to the place, find some proof of heresy and bring that to the special inquisitor at the Grand Theatre Church Police Headquarters. Aurore had no idea.

All understandings seemed to converge on going to the address, and so they did. It was a narrow alley with a sturdy wooden door. As the Storm Knights looked inside the alley, they saw a man pushing the door open after looking around furtively. The group shrugged and imitated the man.

The inside was some kind of reception area. They were addressed by a good-looking man and woman duo dressed in exquisite clothes who bid them welcome and asked if they wanted to see the catalogue. Also if they preferred being together or split up. Alicia answered “together” and the group was led to a small waiting room and given the catalogue. Damien and Aurore turned red as they realized they were in a brothel.

Damien and Alicia looked around the waiting room for any traces of a book. They found a cyber crucifix forgotten in-between the cushions. Aurore promptly hacked it and displayed the personal log of a lay priest. It became clear that this place was frequently visited by Church officials, and clearly not for business. Communications between the priest and his friends seemed to indicate the Church knew about the brothel and was somehow protecting it. This meant someone fairly high in the hierarchy. Leonid sighed and decided to sacrifice himself to collect information from employees, especially those with nicknames that hinted at a religious connotation perverse priests and nuns might enjoy. He came back an hour later and explained the records were upstairs, poorly guarded. Alcia, Aurore and Damien stood up and asked him for a diversion while they went to infiltrate upstairs. Leonid retorted “Hey, I’m not made of Savlovyeff’s money!” but did his part of the job anyway.

The infiltration operation went smoothly. Before anyone noticed anything was amiss, Aurore had printed out evidence against many members of the clergy and Damien found a dossier on all exchanges with the local district bishop. Apparently the brothel owner was also keeping some evidence on him just in case.

Armed with the truth, the Storm Knights went to the Grand Theatre to meet with the inquisitor, whom they suspected to be Sartan. Luckily he was outside the building when they arrived, showing some Asian suit-and-tie people outside and into a Peugeot Pirouette, which promptly left the scene. Aurore approached and, after some banter, handed him the file on the bishop, thus renewing the weird, somewhat-romantic relationship they shared.

As soon as news of the bishop’s arrest came through, the group returned to the chapel and had another chat with the Sauternes priest, who lamented the lack of faith among some Church members and wondered if that had something to do with the Holy Book, and handed them a copy “to bring back to our friends in Greece.”

Once away from prying ears, Damien wondered who those friends were and how to bring it to them. Aurore sighed and reminded him they worked with the Delphi Council. She also examined the book. It was unlike Malraux’s bible: less violent, less categorical about pagan gods and witches and their non-existence. She lacked the theological knowledge to understand the implications, but it would certainly find its way into the hands of the Delphi Council. In the meantime local news announced the arrest and execution of terrorists whom Leonid and Alicia recognized as being one of the missing Resistance cells they were looking for and scratched them off the list. Only two were left to get in touch with.

----

Land Between, Under London, Aysle, Night 48
Wendigo, Tooth Fairy

Wendigo had to admit she and Tooth Fairy were completely lost. Earlier they even managed to lose Muir to a pitfall trap just as he was warning them to be careful about traps. The two operatives had walked for hours, trying to go up when possible but had to admit they should have already made their way to the surface. Then Wendigo heard a voice. It seemed to be singing but was too distant to piece out the individual words. Lacking anything better to do, the operatives headed in that direction.

They were greeted by a large hall, with a domed ceiling decorated in green and blue gems that seemed to bathe the interior with a soft light. The center of the room had a huge statue of an elf. There was another elf, a normal-sized one, sitting on a bench nearby, singing a song full of sadness and words Tooth Fairy’s auto-translator package was lost on.

As the duo approached the singing elf they saw he was slightly transparent. Wendigo noticed a pool of blood and a dead body on the floor on the other side of the statue and went that way. She found a dead elf looking exactly like the ghostly one, with the exception of an ornate dagger in his chest. In the meantime Tooth Fairy engaged the elf in conversation.

His name was Rassonel, he was here by the grace of Elmiir, whose statue stood in the middle of the room. He and his sworn brother, Miridae, were travelling from Aysle to the new world, following some of their people who came at the behest of the Lady of Light. On the way, they had a disagreement and Miridae struck down Rassonel with one of the twin daggers they exchanged on the day they swore brotherhood. Tooth Fairy asked for the reason of the disagreement and obtained more than he had bargained for: Miridae wanted to kill Pella Ardinay. His desire was born of rancor due to the treatment the elves received from humans during the last century, all according to Ardinay’s will.

“Can we take the dagger?” asked Wendigo raising her head from the dead body and quickly added “So that… err… we can track down your brother.” Rassonel agreed, asking that they avenge him in the name of Elmiir. He also prayed for his god to show the operatives the way back to the surface, which they followed.

----

London, United Kingdom, Aysle-Core Earth, Night 48
Wendigo, Tooth Fairy

They emerged in a basement full of spirits. The kind that goes into a tankard. After filling a couple, they headed upstairs to the sound of music and laughter and found themselves in an inn. A few oddities struck them immediately: a goat-legged horned humanoid providing the music, a group of small winged creatures dancing the tune, and a half-man half-horse creature brooding in a corner. The other patrons, shadowy cloak-and-dagger types, did not attract any attention.

Tooth Fairy decided to have a chat with the centaur and invited himself to the table. His usual wisecracks and off-handed comments were about to end up in a good thrashing, but Wendigo intervened in time, offering the centaur the drink of his choice. He picked the most expensive, something unpronounceable worth 100 gold coins for a glass. Wendigo and Tooth Fairy shrugged and asked for the same, despite the bartender’s warnings not to. “It’s your life, lassie. I’m sure the golem can live through it” he said, nodding towards Tooth Fairy. The latter was indeed nearly killed by chugging the drink straight up. Wendigo took a cautious approach and merely sipped it. It was obviously made for someone with multiple stomachs. The two Americans decided to return the favor by offering a glass of Coke. The centaur nearly spat it out as it was too sweet.

The Storm Knights noticed the sun had already set outside, apparently time passed differently downstairs. They remembered Pella Ardinay was supposed to be meeting with Quinn Sebastian and headed towards Battersea, after stopping by St James’ Palace to brief the security detail on new threats.

They missed Ardinay but Sebastian was still there and had a couple of minutes for a chat. Wendigo shared the words of the ghostly elf about Ardinay’s last century. Sebastian was not surprised, as that had been part of their discussions. In the end, while officially the Delphi Council supported the Lady of Light, Sebastian still wanted someone to keep an eye on her whenever possible. He repeated the initial briefing, “Your mission is just a cover story to have reasons to investigate Ardinay and her entourage. That you’ve actually found people trying to kill her is a great coincidence.”

----

Tokyo, Japan, Pan-Pacifica, Night 48
Amethyst Ninja, In-Soon Heo, Samarj Chopade

In-Soon led Jonathan and Samarj through the time-honored corporate worker tradition of karaoke. Chakrawarti had to leave for the time being to take care of business matters in India. Their mission had been a success and now they needed to let off steam. Samarj groaned when she realized they would be at it for hours and did her best to take as many breaks as possible. Unfortunately, during one such break, she met a drunk corporate drone who nearly managed to land some upgoing liquid dinner on her. She decided to avoid starting a fight and returned to the karaoke booth.

The third hour of singing was interrupted by Jonathan’s voice deciding to sing on its own. The screens flickered and the songs were replaced by text that had nothing to do with the lyrics. It started with “Congratulations Storm Knights” and introduced the author as one “Null Magic Wizard.” NMW went on to remark on Jonathan’s lack of discretion, showing his various attempts at finding information about Dr Takamura, the specialist who had taken care of his sister Cynthia and was the Hargreeves’ siblings only lead to find their missing father.

The screen changed again to display a picture of a 50-year-old Japanese man alongside his biography. Jonathan realized his mistake in seeking him around hospitals and med-tech corporations. The man was a roboticist and had his own lab set up as a corporation in a remote part of Japan. Also, technically, a professor. The biography ended with a mention that he left the country a few weeks before on a plane to Berlin.

In-Soon was slightly suspicious and asked Null Magic Wizard the reason for providing them with the information. The answer was simple: “The Delphi Council wants to help you.” At that moment In-Soon and the others realized NMW was actually an agent of the Delphi Council, something the hacker had failed to mention earlier. As the Storm Knights had no further questions, the screens and sound returned to normal and the group continued their vigorous session of relaxation.

Half an hour later, Samarj was about to head out for another break when she heard, above the music and In-Soon’s massive vocal power, the unmistakable sound of an assault rifle being discharged. She motioned for the others to stop and listen. The noises were very close, probably from one of the other booths, definitely in the same building.

The group deduced they were likely being targeted by hitmen and prepared to ambush them in their booth. Then they heard the discharge again, getting closer. Whoever was looking for them either did not know where they were or was simply eliminating witnesses. In any case, the Storm Knights went on the offensive.

Moving into the corridor they saw armed black ops commandos sweep the booths one by one. Four of those focused on the Storm Knights while the other continued the sweep. The latter regretted this decision when his head smashed through a screen thanks to a gentle push from the Amethyst Ninja. In-Soon and Samarj assaulted the others with pyrotechnics and regular bullets and quickly enough the hit squad was dealt with.

In-Soon evacuated whoever was still alive and Samarj examined the bodies but found nothing to indicate who the black ops were and why they were after them. The only clue Amethyst Ninja recalled was something the strike force leader had said while responding to one of his taunts, they “knew too much.” In any case the Storm Knights had personal issues to resolve and decided to go directly to Berlin.

----

London, United Kingdom, Aysle-Core Earth, Day 49
Wendigo, Tooth Fairy

After a good night of sleep, Wendigo and Tooth Fairy decided to investigate another lead Llewellyn had provided in the briefing: theft of military hardware from a base in the middle of London. The base itself looked more like a temporary set-up in the process of being moved elsewhere with the slowly collapsing temporary hardpoint. The theft was hardly a surprise to the Delta Force operatives.

The officer in charge of the investigation, Captain Masha O’Brian, walked them through the status of the investigation. Two land-to-air missiles had been stolen a couple of nights before. The thieves had cut their way into the storage facility from the sewers below, enlarging the entrance in order for the missiles to fit through. They took a couple of nearby missiles and left through the sewers. O’Brian had been reluctant to send patrols too far through, due to the constant threat of the Land Below. The missiles were equipped with tracking devices, sadly with limited range due to reality working poorly.

The operatives took a quick look around, then descended straight into the sewers after finding a tourist ad for the Imperial War Museum. Wendigo immediately noticed one of the thieves had a bit of cloth torn off their clothes: black silk. She also noticed they must have been incredibly stealthy, her experience was barely enough to keep up. Her focus was so intense she barely managed to avoid getting cut in half by a trap: three rows of blades whirling their way in sync through the sewers. While she was considering disabling the trap with explosives, Tooth Fairy made his way through, removing the need. Eventually they found a large hole above them, where a manhole probably used to be. Now it was just a hole, as large as the one in the military base. A nearby plaque read “Imperial War Museum.”

Tooth Fairy lifted Wendigo so that she could climb her way up. Just as she was getting her bearings, she noticed motion out of a corner of her eye and ducked just in time to avoid a shuriken to the aforementioned eye. She was in a high hall dedicated to the Great War. Old planes were suspended from the ceiling. In-between the wings of the planes Wendigo could see shadows leaping. One of them stopped and struck an impressive pose, arms crossed.

“I was waiting for you!” declared the ninja with a stereotypical Chinese accent “My name is Master Li! Prepare to die!”

A rain of shuriken followed, one of them nearly managing to lodge itself into a weak spot in Tooth Fairy’s power armor. Wendigo had vanished in the shadows, and reappeared with a pack of C-9 in one hand, and her trademark anti-tank rifle in the other. Explosives went up, and a ninja went down. Tooth Fairy cursed: he had trouble climbing his way out of the sewers. The walls were too frail to support his weight.

The ninjas continued their onslaught, forcing Wendigo to focus on survival. When Tooth Fairy climbed out of the hole he realized one of the ninjas stole his spear. He shrugged and smashed three ninjas into the wall with a riot stick. Just as the now-alone Master Li was preparing to unleash a new rain of shuriken on the two Storm Knights, Wendigo’s explosive unexpectedly exploded. Master Li crashed into the ground, then Tooth Fairy crashed into him, knocking him out.

While Wendigo was tying up ninjas and loose ends, Tooth Fairy heard voices and went to have a look. In another museum hall he found a bunch of technicians carefully dismantling a suspended missile while a morbidely obese scientist (as indicated by his wearing of a labcoat) was shouting orders. As they were too busy to notice the Storm Knight, he went to fetch Wendigo and then rushed in shouting “Hands in the air!”

To his amazement, it worked. Except for the scientist who was struggling to get out of his chair, which collapsed under the weight. Interrogation of the scientist revealed that he had already dismantled the first missile and sent the critical components away. Despite Tooth Fairy’s best efforts, he would not divulge whom it was given to. The technicians’ tongues were a lot more loose, they knew it was a cloaked creepy woman covered in strange tattoos. Wendigo identified those as pagan, perhaps celtic in origin. She also found wires running along the walls, one of which ended in a black orb covering a camera. Unfortunately the duo lacked the skills to do anything with it. Instead they called the military to take the prisoners into custody and realized the ninjas had vanished.

Once that was done, the Storm Knights went to chat with Salford to see if he could divine anything from the bits and pieces they carried: the torn black silk, a piece of the missing missile, and Rassonel’s dagger. Salford quickly discarded the first two, but the dagger probably had enough sentimental value and personal history to try a scrying spell.

The scrying revealed an elf in British army uniform in a place made of old stone. The elf was standing near a window, testing his bow. A man, in Royal Army uniform as well, came up the stairs and into view and inquired about “the plan”. The elf indicated to proceed as planned.

This did not give the operatives much to go on, Ardinay’s schedule for the day contained a lot of old places to visit. Or, as they called it here, historical monuments. They left Salford to monitor the situation with his scrying and a radio to keep them informed of any changes, then headed towards the nearest military outpost. After explaining the situation to the ranking officer in charge of Ardinay’s security, the Storm Knights learned that a patrol had gone missing earlier in the day, which explained where the elf got military uniforms. After obtaining a list of high-perched locations occupied by snipers, Wendigo examined the situation from a military perspective.

Amusingly, the first she noted was that Ardinay should be passing near the Imperial War Museum soon. Fortunately that attack was now prevented. While she was unable to work out where among the many possible hideouts the elf could be, she decided that the view from Westminster Abbey should help. The Storm Knights headed there.

They split up as soon as they entered the building in order to take one tower each. They were stopped by British soldiers standing guard. Despite being shown their Delphi Council badges, the soldiers refused entry citing security reasons. At the same time, Ardinay and her escort were moving up Westminster Bridge, towards the abbey.

The soldiers in front of Wendigo exchanged glances then pulled out daggers, and stood there dumbfounded as the stealthy sniper had vanished. Moments later they were pinned to the walls by an arrow each. Those facing Tooth Fairy were luckier: they were used as battering rams against the massive wooden door keeping unwanted visitors off the tower.

The split-up strategy paid off. Just as Ardinay was turning into the avenue leading to the church, Wendigo faced two archers and Tooth Fairy was up against the elf Miridae. Wendigo reacted quickly, taking down one of the archers with her own bow, then sighted her sniper rifle on the elf. Tooth Fairy’s tough metal hide was nearly pierced by the first arrow, but the operative persevered and gave his opponent a good smack over the head. The surviving archer panicked and pressed a button on a remote control. Smoke rose up from the yard in front of the church, much too early to disorient Ardinay’s escort. Miridae realized his plan was a failure and started to run away across the church’s rooftop.

Instead of pursuing, Wendigo aimed carefully with her anti-tank rifle. Tooth Fairy did likewise with his arm-mounted laser beam. The shots hit Miridae and sent him plummeting to the ground below, where his dying body was quickly surrounded by soldiers. The other archer tried to flee but was caught by security as well. Wendigo and Tooth Fairy arrived at Miridae’s location in time to hear his dying words and recover the other dagger.

“I may have failed today. Others in the Triumvirate will succeed.”

This worried the operatives and they quickly linked the idea of three people being in charge with Ardinay’s three advisors they were introduced to earlier. Going for a straightforward approach, they decided to have a chat with Ardinay. It quickly turned out that a private audience was a very complicated matter as they went through one of the aforementioned advisors, Lady Bailey Gerrick, who explained that this was simply against protocol. There would always be advisors and guards in attendance.

“Can we just have a chat with her right now? She’s right over there. Why don’t you ask her directly?” asked Tooth Fairy impatiently.

The audience was granted, and Wendigo insisted again on speaking to Ardinay in private. The High Queen patiently and gracefully explained that granting a private audience here and now would imply she has no trust in her advisors. At Wendigo’s insistence she relented and agreed, but only on the condition that if the matter was not secret enough to be whispered into her ear, the Storm Knights would be shamed and disgraced by being escorted out of her presence. Both operatives agreed and Tooth Fairy explained the situation. Once he was done, Ardinay calmly asked the guards to remove them from the premises.

While they were being removed, a diplomat from the Delphi Council also thanked them for sabotaging many weeks of patient negotiations.

“Wow. That was tough.” said Wendigo’s radio. The Storm Knights, embarrassed, realized Salford had been scrying on them since they had taken Miridae’s dagger.

Wendigo had a sudden thought “Can you magic something out of the dead body? Like bring him back so we can ask questions?”

“Yes, sure. I mean, I can’t but I, uh, have a… friend… colleague… who can.” answered Salford.

Tooth Fairy looked at the soldiers around and said “Don’t worry, we’re not crazy, we’re just talking to the sky.”

“It’s alright, sir, we’re used to that now.” answered a soldier.

The body was taken to Salford’s tower, where his creepy, pale-green-skinned friend with a hissing voice was waiting. The price he asked for the service was outside the mission budget. After some bargaining the Storm Knights gave him the two jeweled elven daggers.

Moments later, after Tooth Fairy had provided a couple of pints of blood to the necromancer to help with the ritual, Miridae’s ghost stood in front of the group.

The necromancer whispered “You have five minutes. Oh, and don’t expect him to be cooperative.”

Wendigo put on her recently-enchanted sunglasses and said “Don’t worry, that’s my job. Also my hobby.”

Miridae’s ghost sang like a songbird to Wendigo’s GLORIOUS interrogation techniques (which, for some reason, involved a bolt of magical energy spontaneously hitting her and the necromancer). He was one member of the Triumvirate, three people who had met with the express purpose of assassinating Pella Ardinay, each for their own reasons. He did not know why the others wanted it done and only knew a Tharkoldu thrall named Fhals. The other member was a tattooed woman with a foreign accent. Miridae was given the opportunity to strike first. He also knew one of the members had contacted some foreign mercenaries.

The operatives noticed that evening was well on its way and headed towards the BBC studios to keep an eye on Ardinay’s safety during the interview. When they arrived a busy-looking woman with a notepad asked for their names. They introduced themselves.

She answered “Tooth Fairy and Wendigo… ah I see, the children’s show. Starts in an hour, Studio One.”

The Storm Knights’ protest fell on deaf ears, the woman was much too busy to care. They relented when they found out only one studio was actually usable and Ardinay was being interviewed there, which gave them an excuse to wait there.

Once settled in a dark corner (after being told repeatedly by the woman to stay there and disturb no-one), an assistant brought them coffee and apologized for the producer’s behaviour. “It’s a lot of stress with what’s going on at the moment.”

The interview went as well as expected, half of it was dedicated to Pella Ardinay’s relationship to Uthorion, and the other half to Earth fashion. No ninjas came out of the walls and no explosions damaged anything important.

Late in the evening, the Storm Knights returned to Battersea to talk with Llewellyn about the best way to present excuses to the advisors they had offended earlier. Llewellyn promised to look for a way, though it would probably have to involve some quests for the various Houses..

----

Tokyo, Japan, Pan-Pacifica, Day 49
Amethyst Ninja, In-Soon Heo, Samarj Chopade

Samarj looked through the plane’s window while waiting for take-off. She observed the airport technicians performing their final checks on the engines, idly wondering if the Delphi Council would also help her with her own objective to dismantle the organisation that had done experiments on her many years ago. The group of technicians was done and was moving away, except for one who was still checking something. He took out a small device and stuck it near the engine.

Curious and paranoid, Samarj read the technician’s mind, discovering the device was actually an explosive. She motioned for the stewardess while continuing to probe her target. He was some sort of independent corporate mercenary on a mission to “eliminate a group of people aboard the plane to Berlin.” Apparently he had taken the easy way to do so.

The stewardess was easily persuaded to look into the issue and soon enough the “technician” was arrested by airport security and the device removed. After a meticulous security sweep, the plane was allowed to leave. In the meantime In-Soon checked with his contacts about what had transpired. He only managed to learn that a few of the people who had survived the karaoke had died in accidents.

----

Douarnenez, France, Core Earth, Day 50
Lithiel, Michael Goodenough, Ivy, Hiroto Nogushi

The Storm Knights arrived in Douarnenez. A few days before they were briefed by Omar Bednarczyk in his antiquities shop in Vienna. One of his “friends”, a French relics collector, was offering to give an Eternity Shard to the Delphi Council in exchange for a small favor. Omar wanted the knights to perform that service, provided the Eternity Shard he had was a real one. Eric Trelliau, the collector, was not known for his honesty.

The group arrived in front of his manor that happened to be barely a couple of kilometres away from the reality storm marking the boundaries of the Cyberpapacy. Many French and American soldiers were hanging around the region, waiting either for orders or for an evacuation.

Hiroto knocked on the door and a rotund man in his sixties answered. Introductions were made and Eric explained that he wanted his precious collection evacuated (along with himself) to some safe place, for example in South America. Since his collection was so valuable, a military transport would not do. At the very least he wanted a yacht. Hiroto agreed in principle, but not before taking a look at the Eternity Shard Eric was providing in exchange.

After some negotiation, Eric agreed and showed the Storm Knights a highly-secure room with a reinforced door and lasers scanning for movement. In the middle of the room was a pedestal. On the pedestal, under a glass case, sat a strange mask, half of which was blue, the other half was red. Eric insisted that the examination was done without removing the casing. Hiroto’s examination revealed that the artifact was very old, probably from before the Roman annexation of the area. At the same time the craftsmanship was remarkable, much more so than local civilizations could do at the time. Ivy, on the other hand, noticed the bits of red and blue paint cracking up and discreetly pointed it out to the others. Michael, while trying to come to his own conclusions, inadvertently triggered a trap and was hit by a tranquiliser dart. Despite his natural toughness, he collapsed immediately. Eric apologized for forgetting to disable the trap and reassured the rest of the group the poison was not lethal, but would have been had French laws been less strict.

Hiroto, still the group’s spokesman, indicated that he would give the Delphi Council a call and see what they could do. Eric insisted that it would be nice if an answer would come quickly as there was a cyberpriest in town who was also interested in the collection. His offer of residency in southern France was tempting.

The Storm Knights decided to try to meet the cyberpriest to dissuade him from acquiring the artifact. After stopping by the local chapel and finding out the local priest was not yet converted. The man redirected the group towards the city’s hotels. The third hotel they visited near the docks proved to be the right one, as Lithiel pointed out a knight standing guard in the corridor next to a room. A quick chat with the hotel manager confirmed it was indeed the right room, and the owner would not mind seeing the priest go “one way or another.”

After some convincing, the Storm Knights were able to meet the cyberpriest, Father Daunet, and elderly man who looked more machine than Flesh. The conversation was fruitful, as the priest was not particularly interested in the mask, his objective was to destroy the collection as a whole as it was “heretical and dangerous to the world.” Confusing the group for ordinary Stormers, Daunet tried to recruit them to do the job. Hiroto indicated they would take the matter under consideration and the group left after getting a blessing from the cyberpriest.

The Storm Knights decided to return to Eric in order to negotiate a more favorable deal. However as they were walking up the road leading to the manor, they witnessed an explosion at the back. As the dust settled, they saw the collector stumble out of the manor imploring anyone to help him. The soldiers milling nearby did not seem particularly interested in getting involved, so the group rushed in.

Inside the manor’s entrance hall, the group was quickly swarmed by enemies who could best be described as desert Bedouins armed with rifles and falchions. They had the upper ground, and the Storm Knights found themselves hard-pressed for any advantage. Ivy tried to climb the stairs leading to the balconies but the explosions apparently weakened the ground enough for her to fall through. Michael, still giddy from the tranquiliser, was unable to land a single shot with his automatic shotgun. In fact during the fight he realized he must have dropped his ammunition packs somewhere when he was unconscious. Only Lithiel was able to pin down enemies with her bow, three at a time, while pelting them with stunning spells. The leader of the Bedouins was occupied with Pterry, Ivy’s pet pterodactyl.

Despite the poor beginning, the Storm Knights managed to get the upper hand and the two remaining Bedouins tried to flee. One was pinned to a wall by Lithiel’s arrow, while the leader was caught by Ivy’s whip as he tried to leap out of the window.

Once the battle was over, the Storm Knights decided to examine the crime scene and interrogate their prisoners. Lithiel, Ivy and Hiroto were tired from the battle and couldn’t understand what happened, except the back wall of the manor was now gone, and so was a large part of the collection. Michael’s interrogation proved to be more fruitful and the leader confirmed he and his warriors were after the mask. While he would not reveal the name of their master, he hinted that they had failed in their mission.

Michael asked “Wait, you mean you didn’t blow up the back wall?”

The leader answered “No, we were too late.”

“Then who stole the collection?”

“Pirates!”

“What pirates?”

“THOSE pirates!” answered the Bedouin leader while pointing towards the docks, where a wooden frigate was quickly leaving, supported by the heavy winds from the storm front.

----

Karlsruhe, Germany, Core Earth, Day 51
Amethyst Ninja, In-Soon Heo, Samarj Chopade

Berlin turned out to be a brief stop. An agent of the Delphi Council had been waiting at the airport with further information about Professor Takamura. He had been observed contacting “transportation specialists” to get into the Cyberpapacy. Thus, the Storm Knights took a train to Karlsruhe to try to cross.

The city was under martial law and many people had already fled. The group had little trouble: the army was cooperative with Delphi Council agents. Soon enough they were meeting with the local DC representative, a Spartan Division liaison named Jensen. In-Soon quickly identified the bald, suited man who looked like a professional killer to be a harmless bureaucrat of the useful kind.

Jensen was unaware of the group’s activities but assumed they were important and provided all the help he could. At that time, it included some equipment to help survive contact with the Cyberpapacy and advice about how to not get caught there. He also directed them to head to Paris and try to contact the Resistance as they were more likely to have information about the professor’s whereabouts.

He also showed them a Japanese newspaper, pointed to a small article on the 16th page and asked “Since you are just back from there, do you know anything about this?” In-Soon translated it for the others. Apparently a Kanawa chief accountant had been shot right in front of the Kanawa offices in Kyoto. The Storm Knights wondered if that had anything to do with the karaoke incident, but couldn’t think of any direct link. The conversation turned back to local matters.

While they were discussing the situation at the border, they were interrupted by one of Jensen’s subordinates. The German army was on the move against the Cyberpapacy. Jensen shook his head and commented “And another ten thousand lives wasted. We told them not to even try, but do they ever listen? In any case, if you want to try crossing now you should head out with them. Otherwise you can opt to wait for a couple of weeks until the enemy reduces their border defences to normal levels.”

The Storm Knights decided to wade in as soon as possible.

----

Istrian
Orc
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:57 pm

Re: [Game Stories] Make Earth Glorious Again

Post by Istrian »

Bordeaux, France, Cyberpapacy, Day 45
Leonid Slovokin, Aurore, Damien Monnet, Alicia Kalachnikova

A new day dawned and the Storm Knights decided to go after the Haut-Medoc resistance cell. They did not have much information about them except that they were all workers at one of the St Hammon guild factories, distrusted the St Emilion cell because of their association with the Delphi Council, and had a secret project underway.

The factory was easy to locate and full of workers. After giving it some consideration, Leonid and Alicia decided to join the workers. After telling one of the local monks they had just moved in from Alsace, they were let in (and given a nice Piety Score boost). Leonid had little trouble adapting to the manufacturing process but Alicia had to get a lot of coaching from a monk, especially the prayers. At the same time Aurore and Damien finished studying the building and entered through a side-window straight into a monk’s cell. Fortunately empty.

After working for a while, Leonid noticed two of the workers left their benches and went somewhere. He followed and found the break room. Attempting to fit in did not work well, the locals were distrustful of the newcomer. When Alicia finally managed to get rid of her monk, she took a quick look at the other workers and immediately noticed something wrong. Three of them had to scratch the back of their necks quite often, apparently in order to open hidden compartments there to hide some bits and pieces.

The monks’ cells being empty at this time of the day, Aurore and Damien took their time hacking into their crucifixes and offloading some data. Aurore quickly hit the jackpot. One of the monks had noticed some bits and pieces going missing, especially those related to energy storage and distribution. The monk had also begun an investigation by GodNet-tagging some of the equipment but was only able to trace the missing kit going outside the city. Finally, he had written a message to the Inquisition.

Aurore cast a spell on Damien and shifted her clothes to a monk’s. Thus prepared, they went to the main entrance. Disguised Inquisitor Damien angrily demanded to meet the monk in question, Brother Marc. While the two retired to the prayer room to have a face-to-face discussion, the inquisitor's assistant, Aurore, walked through the rows of workbenches. When the inquisitor appeared, Leonid took a look at the other workers and noticed two of them exchanging worried looks.

Aurore picked up the leads from Alicia and Leonid. Alicia had also tried to contact one of the itchy-necked workers during her break. Her subtlety had matched that of Leonid when she mentioned liking St Emilion wine and having friends in Greece. The worker remained oblivious and returned to work.

Making her rounds, Aurore noticed something extremely distressing. One of the worried workers had a high-explosive device and a twitchy finger. She quickly walked away. In the meantime, in the prayer room, Damien examined the evidence, or lack thereof, and mentioned that getting so much equipment out of the factory required the assistance from one of the monks. Brother Marc was quick on the uptake and pointed the finger at the superior monk, piling some clearly made-up evidence mentioning the brother superior also spent a lot of time coaching one of the prettier female factory workers. As well as having some liturgical texts way above his Piety Score.

Eventually Damien understood the monk did not have much and left with only a list of factory workers and their places of residence. As he entered the main factory area he quickly ducked back into the corridor: a real inquisitor was waiting at the factory entrance. A bell rang and some of the workers began filing out, clearly breaking for lunch. Aurore left with them. Damien went out through the window. Leonid and Alicia remained behind to wait for the man with the explosive to leave. Sadly he seemed to be hard at work. Eventually the two decided to leave when they realized the three neck-scratching workers were among the first to go.

A fervent yell was followed by an explosion that shook the building just as the two were leaving. Outside, Aurore and Damien, now back to their normal selves, saw fire blasting a wall away next to them. Leonid looked back at the factory and realized a quarter of it was engulfed in flames and the inquisitor was nowhere to be seen… until he walked out of the fire, angry and wounded. The second man, with whom the suicide-bomber had exchanged glances, leaped at the inquisitor with a knife but barely managed to scratch his target. Sirens were heard going off in the city and the Storm Knights decided they were needed elsewhere.

Aurore took a look at Damien’s list and noticed the three workers were actually neighbors and lived on the skyscraper’s ground floor. When the group arrived at the addresses, they saw one of the workers getting into a van and driving away quickly. Without hesitation, Damien hijacked one of the local cars and shadowed the vehicle as it left the city.

----

Near Bordeaux, France, Cyberpapacy, Day 45
Leonid Slovokin, Aurore, Damien Monnet, Alicia Kalachnikova

Following the thieves, the heroes came to a large fenced compound in a forest a fair distance away from Bordeaux. The drive would have been shorter had the workers taken the direct road rather than various detours. The entrance to the compound was guarded by two Church Police officers. The workers’ vehicle was not in sight, indicating they had probably gone inside. Leonid examined the location with binoculars. The compound consisted of an office building and a high-security building. No movement could be seen. Looking closer, Leonid noticed the gate guards did not have the usual standard-issue weapons of the Church Police, and their helmets looked more like cheap plastic than high-tech HUDs.

Damien and Alicia went for the direct approach and spoke to the guards, pointing out how they failed at being convincing. He went on to offer his help, being a famous and successful Resistance member. The guards, initially apprehensive, decided to let them in at the very least to avoid drawing more attention by talking outside. Aurore and Leonid were invited as well.

The group was directed to the high-security building. According to posters in its hallways, it hosted the Laser Mégajoule. Going from what the Storm Knights could see, the arrival of the Cyberpapacy had increased its power by quite a few orders of magnitude. Workers were busy tweaking it under the direction of a lab-coat-wearing scientist.

A woman intercepted the Storm Knights as soon as they entered the facility. Negotiations were tense, but as soon as Aurore had shown her scientific knowledge, she was sent to help Alphonse, the lone scientist spearheading the project. The others, lacking any useful skills, were told to stay put and to enjoy the beer. Damien and Alicia, while unenthused by the Resistance leader’s lack of trust, found the beer cold and the other less useful workers clustered around it, more chatty.

The chat confirmed that this cell had little trust in the now-destroyed St Emilion coordinating cell, and even less in the Delphi Council. Moreover they had a deep distrust of wizards and heretics. Alicia carefully avoided the subject. Leonid, on the other hand, was not in the discussion and went to chat with the cell leader, Marilène, revealing his sorcerous abilities and showing his Delphi Council badge. This led him and Alicia to a storeroom, now used as a confinement area. Aurore was too useful to the project to suffer the same fate, and Damien, who was not a wizard and had managed to make some friends among the cell, was left to his own devices. He went to set up some explosives on the road and took up a sniping position on the roof.

In the meantime Aurore managed to learn a lot from Alphonse. The scientist had been here from before the invasion and had continued working normally, despite his colleagues becoming more erratic and turning to faith rather than the scientific method. Some time ago he met Marilène and her Resistance cell and together they worked on a plan to fire the laser at Avignon using the atmosphere’s reflective properties. After studying the plan, Aurore was dubious about its feasibility. Alphonse seemed to be holding something from her, so she decided to help anyway.

Evening arrived quickly. Alphonse announced that the weapon was nearly ready to fire and would need only some minor adjustments. Marilène gathered everyone, including Leonid and Alicia, for some champagne to celebrate the upcoming end of the Cyberpapacy. Damien remained on the roof, expecting something to go wrong.

Marilène’s speech was interrupted by Alphonse who said “Just one thing if you don’t mind. Our ally does not agree with these… Storm Knights.”

Suddenly doors opened and Nile shocktroopers poured into the room, pointing their guns at the aforementioned people.

Leonid exclaimed: “What does this mean?”

A thickly-accented voice rose from the shadows behind the shocktroopers “Allow me to Hexblain, mein Ruzian friend. Arh ! Vizout mein Pharaoh's zubort of zis little facility, tonight vould not haffe peen bozible.”

The voice belonged to a blond-haired blue-eyed officer in a black uniform, wearing an Iron Cross and an armband displaying a swatsikankh.

Alicia shouted “What do you mean? Your leader is supposed to be allied with Malraux!”

“As it habens mein master is Hexbecding to pe petrayed zooner or later py zis sealot. Arh ! As zuch getding rid of him is ein great Hobortunity. Put forgiffe mein lack of manners, I forkot to Hintroduce myzelf. Cabdain Conrad Heydrich, at your zerffice. Now, take zem avay!”

Then he looked at Alicia “Excebt vu mein dear, vould vu like to haffe dinner?” he said motioning towards a table set in the laser control room. Alicia accepted.

As soon as Leonid and Aurore were back in the storeroom, Leonid began fiddling with the door’s control panel. Just as he was getting close to getting out, the door opened on its own and a group of Resistants was led inside by shocktroopers. They explained that they did not agree with the latest change of plans. Aurore sent a radio message to Damien, who was still on the roof, explaining the situation.

In the meantime Alicia was enjoying some wine and listening to Heydrich’s explanations while shocktroopers rounded up any Resistance members who did not agree with the new plan. Now that the captain was in charge of the facility, he was going to go with the original plan: “Ein endire fleet of Hairschibs in high orpit. Arh ! Each schip vith ein giant Heternium-Hinfuzed mirror to retirect zee peam tovards its final target: Mecca! Und zen berhaps Affignon.”

The conversation was interrupted by Damien shooting Heydrich through the reinforced outside window. Heydrich managed to block the shot with a St Emilion wine bottle and pressed the “Fire” button. The laser began powering up. Alicia did not like the odds in the control room and cast an area of darkness. On the storeroom side, Leonid finally got the door to open. Aurore rushed past the two guards standing outside, back to the laser room, and began to look for a way to disable the monstrosity.

Two shocktroopers arrived above Damien’s precarious position: he was hanging in mid-air, kept alive by only a rope. One of the shocktroopers began trying to cut it while the other slipped and fell. Damien climbed back up and threw the other one back down. More were coming from a roof-side hatch.

Leonid grabbed one of the shocktroopers guarding the door, and shot the other with the first guard’s weapon. The two struggled for a while until the shocktrooper realized reinforcements were not, in fact, coming, and surrendered. In the meantime Aurore was hard-pressed, dodging bullets and blows from all sides. Fortunately the remaining Resistance people were not keen on shooting the Storm Knights and remained neutral. Time was ticking and Alicia temporarily disabled the superweapon with a well-placed EMP spell. Alphonse, somewhere inside the machinery, cursed and began working on bringing the shielding back up.

Damien finally managed to deal with the incoming roof-side reinforcements and dropped down the hatch, straight on top of the laser. Aurore yelled at him to pull out the red power conduit. Damien gathered his strength and did so. The laser’s power conduits began to overload and everyone ran out of the building, which promptly exploded.

The Storm Knights surveyed the damage. Fortunately a large number of Resistance members made it out. Sirens from the city were incoming, and everyone ran away.

----

London, United Kingdom, Aysle-Core Earth, Day 50
Wendigo, Tooth Fairy, Jack Lantern

In the morning, Wendigo and Tooth Fairy dropped by Battersea Power Station for news. The receptionist had a mysterious message for Wendigo: “Meet me on London Bridge at 2pm.” The receptionist did not see anyone leaving the message and simply surmised it was a Storm Knight thing.

Roger Llewellyn’s office, once again, had an additional person inside. The newcomer was introduced as Jack Lantern, who was requested to give a hand due to the Storm Knights uncovering a much larger conspiracy than was initially expected. Lacking tangible leads, Wendigo called Ratchenko, the former FSB agent whom they had met earlier while looking for Salford. A meeting was arranged on a bench at St James’ Park.

The bench had a nice view on St James’ Palace, where Ardinay’s escort was getting ready for the day’s visits: hospitals and orphanages. The High Queen wanted to go around healing the wounded and curing the sick. After some convincing, the agent was willing to swap intelligence. He had received news from contacts in Russia that a large shipment of explosives had arrived the day before for Fhals’ operation. Enough to blow up a large building. The ship was still anchored on the Thames. Wendigo also inquired about the large amount of cameras they had found everywhere something was going on. Ratchenko offered his technical expertise in hacking said cameras on the next site. In exchange he wanted help to get Fhals.

The Storm Knights went to look for the Russian ship and found it after some inquiries. Wendigo infiltrated it using a loading crane. While she could not understand any Russian, she found the captain and his first mate working on some maps, probably getting ready to leave. She also noticed a small jewelry box that was completely out of place in the cabin. She radioed Tooth Fairy for a diversion.

Tooth Fairy went for a subtler approach than usual and simply tried to attract the sailors’ attention to get them to come ashore. His actions had an unexpected outcome. The sailors warned the captain, and the ship began to leave. Fortunately the captain was no longer in his cabin and Wendigo was free to take the jewelry box. As soon as she lifted it, an alarm rang throughout the ship. Wendigo GLORIOUSLY hid in the cabin as the sound of rushing feet approached.

Jack summoned a charyb and leapt on its back, followed by Tooth Fairy, in order to get to the ship. The sailors interpreted it as a hostile action. While two of them rushed towards the captain’s cabin, the others opened fire on the incoming Storm Knights. Wendigo also noticed two “heavy-duty” sailors come up, carrying plasma cannons. Fortunately they proved to be incredibly bad shots with them and Jack, his charyb, and Tooth Fairy cleaned half the upper deck fairly quickly. As Wendigo was setting an explosive to sink the ship, the captain, seeing the situation going badly, offered to talk in a polite and civilised manner. Tooth Fairy agreed, though the captain insisted that they kindly remove the C-4 first. Wendigo still kept the jewelry box.

The captain did not have much information to offer. His Tharkoldu overlord had simply given him the order to bring a few crates of explosives to a thrall named Fhals in London. He knew nothing of the larger plan and had never met Fhals before. Fortunately his crew had overheard Fhals’ underlings talking about an orphanage operation.

The Storm Knights disembarked and Wendigo looked inside the jewelry box. It was full of jewels. She and Tooth Fairy recognized them as the kind the Tharkoldu thralls had been trying to turn wizards into. Jack sensed strong magic coming from them.

Looking at the day’s schedule, the group went towards the first orphanage on Ardinay’s list. It turned out to be the right one: something was already going on. A British officer informed them that someone had taken children hostage and were demanding Ardinay come alone to a designated place in front of the orphanage. The doors were also trapped with explosives. And unfortunately the Lady of Light was already inside, making their demands completely pointless.

Jack nodded and summoned a ghillie, commanding it to disguise Tooth Fairy into the Lady of Light. Tooth Fairy went to the designated location, ready to die and draw attention, while Wendigo and Jack headed for the back, ready to open a way for the hostages. Tooth Fairy found himself targeted by an ungodly amount of Thav and plasma fire, rising a cloud of dust around him. Fortunately his shield and power armor protected him without issues. At the back of the building, Wendigo disarmed the explosives on the door, then GLORIOUSLY rushed through the building, opening locks, clearing a path through, and calming hostages as she found them. The Lady of Light and the children were quickly evacuated, with Tooth Fairy, his disguise now faded, joining his colleagues.

Unfortunately they found themselves trapped. On one side was an army of thralls led by the one named Fhals. Their retreat was cut by a dimthread dropping in a winged creature of nightmares which hissed “Sso… where are the would-be heroes that need to be hunted?”

The situation turned grimmer when Fhals joined forces with the newcomer. The Storm Knights were forced on the defensive, under heavy fire from Fhals’ numerous followers who made up their lack of skill with sheer numbers. At the same time, an explosive trap sprung next to Wendigo and nearly killed her. She barely survived, but was heavily wounded. The creature clawed at the Storm Knights as well, inflicting wounds upon Jack as well. For the first time in a while, Tooth Fairy was hard-pressed as well, for the first time his backup systems had to activate to prevent him passing out from simple bruises and pain.

An opportunity to flee presented itself, however the Storm Knights decided to persevere. Wendigo managed to heal herself while Jack summoned a massive baghest that began to spit fire at the enemies with accuracy matching that of a Nile shocktrooper. Fortunately it was enough to draw fire away from the Storm Knights for a short while. Once she was back up on her feet, Wendigo armed her C-9 and began throwing it at the winged one. Jack’s fireballs did a better job than the barghest and thralls began to fall as well. Multiple plasma bolts hit Tooth Fairy, who barely managed to soak. Jack, on the other hand, found himself bleeding profusely from every wound.

Wendigo’s last C-9 finally blew up the creature and at least a dozen thralls were dead. Fhals decided to operate a retreat and yelled at his troops to hold them back while he went to look for reinforcements. Wendigo could not see the fleeing leader, but her anti-tank rifle did not need to. The bullet flew straight through walls as if they were paper, and made a large hole in the thrall.

The remaining thralls began to surrender, when suddenly reinforcements arrived. One of them was yelling “Fhals is dead! Now I am the boss! Kill them!” Then he realized the bodyguards surrounding him were killed by one of Jack’s fireballs, and he found himself staring at the business end of Tooth Fairy’s energy spear, stuck in his own chest. This time the remaining thralls surrendered for real.

----

Waterford, Ireland, Aysle, Day 51
Lithiel, Michael Goodenough, Ivy, Hiroto Nogushi

Entering Waterford proved to be easy, despite the locals’ apparent hostility towards elves. While looking for the pirates during the previous night, Lithiel encountered her former lover, a disreputable scoundrel himself, who pointed them towards the black market as well as the only pirate ship recently arrived in town.

At dawn the Storm Knights went towards the pirate ship and the house in front of it they had occupied. The ship was mostly empty, except for two sentries. Since they were here for business, Hiroto simply knocked at the front door. After some insistence, it opened slightly.

“What?” asked a low voice.

Hiroto began his business speech, offering to purchase some of the items they were planning to sell.

The door closed in the middle of his speech with a “The master is not interested” answer. This looked somewhat strange as the pirates were clearly in Waterford to sell their ill-gotten loot. The house’s windows were unfortunately too dirty to see anything inside.

Instead, Lithiel and Ivy, who had not been seen or heard by the doorman, went around the house and knocked at the back door. “The master sends us.” she said, and was allowed to go inside. Hiroto kept watching the front while Michael was also at the back, getting ready for action.

Lithiel and Ivy were greeted in the kitchen by someone wearing a hooded robe who asked them to come further. A lot of dead bodies, all pirates, were strewn across the main hall’s floor. The hooded man said “There is a lot to process here. I’ll work on these and you take that pile.” Then he began some sort of ritual on a dead body.

The man was so busy with his ritual he did not notice Lithiel carefully taking aim at him, and he did not live long enough to notice the arrow stuck in his head. However his death seemed to have some effect on a nearby room, where massive groans were heard. The door leading to that room blew open and zombies rushed towards the two Storm Knights. Michael tried to break open the back door and enter, but the door proved too tough. Hiroto, on the other hand, just crashed through the window and peppered the zombies with bullets. Ivy’s pet pterodactyl, Pterry, GLORIOUSLY bit off the head of a zombie.

The zombies were quickly dispatched and the Storm Knights searched the house. The pirates were all dead. The cultist, initially surmised to be in Uthorion’s service, proved to be of Indian origin and had an old-fashioned pistol. He also had a scroll with a map and a message telling him to “finish cleaning up in Waterford and join me here with the mask.”

The most disturbing discovery was found in one of the rooms. One of the pirates was lying in a bed, the mask on his face. The pirate was dead, but unlike the others had no wounds and instead his face expressed ultimate ecstasy. Michael picked up the mask.

A less grim finding on Lithiel’s side was a magic pickaxe in the basement among the pirate booty.

Ivy eventually noticed the pirate captain and was taken with strong feelings towards the woman. She prayed to Lanala to bring her back to life. Something divine that was likely not Lanala answered the prayer. The pirate captain came back to life, albeit with a paler skin than before. The captain introduced herself as Síofra Dunleavy, and, charmed by Ivy, offered her ship to help with their mission.

----

Near Strasbourg, France, Cyberpapacy, Day 51
Amethyst Ninja, In-Soon Heo, Samarj Chopade

Crossing the storm front while being pelted with oddly-colored lightning bolts was a novel experience for In-Soon, one he was not looking forward to reattempt. Being showered by missiles and laser fire on the other side was a novel experience for everyone and the Storm Knights quickly abandoned their vehicle to run through the hilly and forested countryside, hoping to lose their pursuers. They had done their best to encourage the German soldiers around them to turn back, but eventually gave up when they realized so many of them were transforming into perfect followers of the Cyberpope.

Amethyst Ninja was starting to regret his decision to taunt one of them. True, it had saved lives at the time, but now the power-armored knight he had targeted had joined the hunt alongside many Church Policemen and a priest. In-Soon was shooting pyrokinetics at the latter while receiving fiery divine punishment in return. Samarj focused on guiding the group. Ninja was also missing his homeland, the Nile, commenting “at least back there when I hit someone they went down. Why can’t they make enemies as incompetent around here!”

Fortunately the local authorities turned out to be fairly bad at wilderness navigation, and the wilderness was a lot wilder than it used to be. The group eventually managed to lose them and infiltrate Strasbourg unhindered.

----

Saint-Denis, France, Cyberpapacy, Day 52
Amethyst Ninja, In-Soon Heo, Samarj Chopade

The mag-lev journey from Strasbourg to Paris was mostly uneventful. Jonathan had encoutered an old friend of his, a kid named Jean-François whom he had met in the streets of Cairo some years before. He had moved with his family to France and his family was being moved from Strasbourg to a city with more accomodation. Sadly, Jean-François had adapted to the local reality and had great admiration for Père Jean. He also proved to be a good source of information on life in the new reality. Thanks to his advice the Storm Knights did not head directly towards Paris but stopped at Saint-Denis instead. Paris was known to be a den of the infamous Resistance, and therefore anyone traveling there was likely to be scrutinized.

Once at Saint-Denis, In-Soon accidentally crossed paths with a member of the Resistance, a wheelchair-bound elderly man who suggested following the sewers to the Paris catacombs, and then to the Eiffel Tower where the Resistance was more active. When asked about a friendly computer specialist, the man told In-Soon to contact someone named Chloe.

The Storm Knights did as suggested and quickly had both information and a cyberdecker to help them with their mission, Chloe Beech. After a quick GodNet search, she told them Takamura had contacted a particular member of the Resistance in order to find a safe place to study cyberware. Solene Londugard, the member in question, was unfortunately not available. She and her cell were infiltrating a local factory in order to hack some weapons directly at the source, and then steal them for the Resistance. Her operation should have ended the day before.

The Storm Knights went straight to the aforementioned guild factory. On the way, Samarj and Chloe agreed on dinner once the mission was over. Infiltrating the guild factory proved to be easy, especially for a GLORIOUSLY experienced ninja like the Amethyst one. He quickly located Solene and snuck under her workbench to have a chat. Her operation was delayed due to the appearance of an inquisitor on-site. She and her people were unable to take away the weapons they had reprogrammed until the inquisitor went away. They couldn’t disappear either as that would draw his attention.

The group considered the possibility of dealing with the inquisitor using the violent method. He was protected by only one hospitaller, but In-soon still remembered their last encounter with one. It would be a difficult fight. Instead they spread rumors about a den of heretics in a nearby forest to lure him out and have a chat. Samarj had a tense conversation with the inquisitor as she pretended to have orders straight from Avignon to head after another cabal. Chloe had crashed the local node, so the inquisitor could not verify the information. With a few more lies and some creative rewriting of his memory, Samarj managed to send him away.

Solene was grateful for the help and forthcoming with information. She had indeed helped Professor Takamura with his study of cyberpapal technology by putting him in contact with some friends in Le Havre. Unfortunately, the latest news she had from the group was that they had all been arrested and were likely to be interrogated.

----

Celtic Sea, Ireland, Aysle, Day 52
Lithiel, Michael Goodenough, Ivy, Hiroto Nogushi

Now with a ship, the Storm Knights decided to tackle the threat of the kraken to the British Navy. They obtained the creature’s location from a savvy ancient ship captain and helped Síofra hire a crew with promises of gold in the creature’s lair.

As they approached the lair, they saw the creature leaving and began pursuit. The creature dived underwater. Moments later, tentacles surged from the depths and seized the ship. The kraken’s head followed. Hiroto was wrapped in a tentacle and moved slowly towards the creature’s mouth. Another tentacle’s slap sent Pterry rocketing towards the horizon. Lithiel had more luck with her, as she entangled one of the tentacles between two masts with Ivy’s help.

Hiroto managed to free himself while Michael performed shotgun surgery on a tentacle. The ship shook and Lithiel found herself thrown off ship as she attempted to shoot at the beast. Hiroto quickly joined her as they went underwater.

Michael did not like the situation and instead summoned the ancient magics of Aysle to duel the kraken in a contest of riddles. Despite not being the smartest of the group, he won. The kraken was forced to stop attacking ships and left to another place.

As soon as Lithiel and Hiroto were back on-board, Michael declared that there was plenty of treasure in the kraken’s lair and sent the whole crew to look for it. Then he looked at the captain and said “How about we leave now before they notice there isn’t any?”

Síofra laughed and said that she was done deciphering the Orrorshan cultist’s map. It pointed to the coast near a village in Brittany, now claimed by the Cyberpapacy.

----

Llanllawddog, United Kingdom, Aysle, Day 52
Kwang Im, Song-Ho Sun, Garrick Heinston, Tobias Lynch

After traveling from Swansea, the group finally reached their mission destination, the tiny hamlet of Llanllawddog in Wales. According to Delphi Council intelligence, a dungeon entrance had been discovered there. The adventurers who had found it were forced to flee when a large number of vikings amassed there.

The group surveyed the situation. The original hamlet apparently consisted of two big houses. There were multiple camps set up around one of the houses, which was probably the dungeon entrance. The heroes also espied a cage holding a dozen prisoners near the house. When Kwang noticed one of the vikings taking a stroll away from the camps, he remembered a bit of information he overheard during their journey.

He went casually to the viking and said “I recognize you, Ulfrid. A knight defeated you in combat in the Battle of Bideford but allowed you to go on the condition you redeem your debt to the Forces of Light. I have come to claim this debt.”

The viking groaned at being reminded of the events but agreed to the terms. He told them that they were led by a strong viking chieftain who wanted to sack some distant, well-defended, city that could easily be infiltrated through the Land Between. They had a cage full of Seekers to guide small groups of raiders. He also provided the Storm Knights with some cloaks and markings to make them look like skalds.

Under the cover of night, the group entered the camp and began to free the imprisoned seekers. The vikings barely had time to realize what was going on. The heroes freed the seekers and entered the house, collapsing it after them to break any attempt at pursuit.

After asking around, the heroes found the seeker named Gerrold from Swansea and hired him to guide them to the location where the vikings were going.

----

East Coast, USA, Living Land, Day 52
Bronze Bullet, Elizabeth Poliakova, Gregor MacConnor
Spoilers for Just Plane Dangerous (Delphi Missions: Rising Storm)

The Storm Knights looked miserable but felt full of energy. The Living Land was a new experience for them. Bronze Bullet’s rocket battlesuit was so rusty it was impossible to keep wearing it without getting cramps. Gregor’s suit had also rusted away and Elizabeth’s slayer gun had followed suit. They had also lost all track of time due to a weird white mist where they had been attacked by carnivorous plants and gospog. Only Logan was fine, and only because he had been too drunk to follow them on this urgent mission. The Scottish barbarian was still somewhere on the USS Roosevelt, probably still drunk.

Noises of pursuit informed them they were finally on-site for their mission. For once they were not the ones being pursued. The edeino warriors pursuit a young human boy were quickly dispatched. Bronze Bullet GLORIOUSLY convinced the boy, Earl, to share his information about Blankenship.

The dinner and evening at the village was uneventful as the heroes familiarised themselves with local life and customs and obtained the information needed to proceed with their mission.

----

Istrian
Orc
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:57 pm

Re: [Game Stories] Make Earth Glorious Again

Post by Istrian »

Bordeaux, France, Cyberpapacy, Day 46
Leonid Slovokin, Aurore, Damien Monnet, Alicia Kalachnikova
One Resistance cell was left: Fronsac. The only lead the Storm Knights had was that they were somehow related to a hotel, the Saint-Hospice. Before heading there, Leonid checked the news and discovered that the place was sealed by the Church Police as of this morning. As no other reliable news had made it to the GodNet, the heroes were left with no choice but to head there.

The hotel was a mess. Windows stood broken and nobo locals dared approach, especially with two Church Police vans parked outside. Officers were already examining the scene. Leonid snuck close to a window at the back of the building and overheard a conversation between two investigators implying they had an address to check and were also considering putting out a notice to look for the hotel managers. In the meantime Aurore hacked the district’s surveillance systems and managed to pull some recordings out. Two days before, a sports car stopped outside the hotel, four suited Asian individuals entered the hotel. Bullets flew out. A group of people ran away, the two elderly owners snuck out during the firefight, and three of the suits walked back to the car, dragging a prisoner. Damien remarked that the car was not the kind commonly seen in the Cyberpapacy.

Deciding that the owners were the most likely to shed some light on the situation, Aurore tracked their movements to a neighborhood that looked suspiciously like its cameras had been hacked to show recorded footage loops. Heading there, the heroes found a slum full of people living away from society and prying ears.

Damien took the lead and used his street-savviness to avoid some nasty encounters with a bunch of self-appointed protectors. When he began inquiring about two elderly people who had fled a hotel shootout, he was redirected to talk to the “leader” of the neighborhood, someone called “Bruce”.

Bruce, or Brusseaud from his real name, lived in a simple shack and wanted to have a simple life, which involved not drawing attention from the authorities and letting harmless people benefit from the same opportunities. Unfortunately Damien tried to pose as someone harmless, and therefore was unable to get any information out of the man. Instead he looked for the elderly couple and Leonid was sent to talk to them.

“... and so I would like you to help me keep the peace around here by telling me about the Asians and the Resistance. I will make sure neither will reach you.” he finished his business proposal.

The elderly couple was so scared out of their minds, they told him everything they knew. Which unfortunately only amounted to potentially obsolete information. Back when the Resistance cell had set up their operations in the hotel, they had smuggled in a lot of crates from the shipyard area. The Asians had come into the picture recently, when they arrived at the hotel and began a shootout demanding the goods that had been stolen from them. Leonid thanked the elders and left.

The docks were dead with inactivity. Only a small area was still operating. However it was the unused area that drew the heroes’ attention. The Church Police had cordoned-off most of the old shipyards and warehouses and was checking them out, building by building. Inspector Sartan was leading the search.

The Storm Knights tried to sneak past the cordon, but Leonid and Alicia were spotted and pursued by officers while being covered by Damien and Aurore. The chase proved to be extremely dangerous, old buildings crumbled, bridges fell and a dog joined the pursuit after Leonid accidentally trod on its tail. In the end Leonid and Alicia, both exhausted, managed to lose their pursuers and found the old BETASOM naval facility still in use, judging by the noise of hammering metal inside.

From the information they had, Leonid worked out that the place was most likely Fronsac’s old hideout taken over by the Asians and the hammering was probably their prisoner being interrogated. Damien snuck inside and informed Leonid he was completely wrong. It was the Fronsac cell busy repairing a submarine. When the heroes introduced themselves as Storm Knights, they were greeted with open arms, for once, and agreed to help the Fronsac survivors with the submarine.

Unfortunately, as they began their repairs and Alicia and Damien prepared to go out to lure the Church Police elsewhere, the aforementioned officers broke into the facility and began to shoot. Leonid redoubled his efforts to repair the submarine’s electronics. The first two waves of Church Police officers already proved troublesome for the Storm Knights to deal with, but when Sartan entered the fray things turned to worse. His mind games caused Alicia to doubt herself and forget her offensive spells one after another, and Damien was pushed into the water and began to drown, after losing both his guns. The only saving grace was that the Church Police was trying to arrest them instead of killing them outright. Alicia decided she had clearly found her nemesis, but still managed to pull through by taking command of the submarine when the repairs were over. A Resistance member threw Damien an old pistol, which he used to shoot the exit gate’s controls, and the submarine quickly dived underwater before Sartan had had the opportunity to order a military strike.

With three of five Resistance cells saved, the Storm Knights returned home victorious, though grievously injured.

----

Le Havre, France, Cyberpapacy, Day 53
Amethyst Ninja, In-Soon Heo, Samarj Chopade

A quick street-level investigation yielded a potential location for Pr Takamura: Fort Le Havre. Since the early days of the Holy Cyber Enclave dissidents and malcontents have been shipped off to the old fortress-turned-prison. While Amethyst Ninja “obtained” wall-scaling equipment, Samarj went around off-duty guards’ minds in order to find intelligence about patrols and schedules. In-soon retrieved a paper copy of the fort’s floorplan from the disused city archives. Together they worked out a high-security area in the middle of the Fort where sensitive prisoners were the most likely to be held.

At nightfall the infiltration began, Chloe managed the automated security systems and Amethyst Ninja GLORIOUSLY led the way inside. Virtually no time passed between the beginning and the end, when the heroes ran into the cybergoyle guarding the entrance to the high-security area. One quick EMP grenade later, it was lying disabled on the ground.

Disappointment awaited inside: the high-security area was completely empty. Fortunately In-soon was able to find a communications terminal with a message awaiting reception. A holographic inquisitor appeared and informed the warden that “GodNet was ready to receive the evildoers’ souls for interrogation.”

With a new lead, the Storm Knights left the prison and found a quiet place for their first tour inside GodNet, with Chloe as their guide. The assault on the Mountain went as well as that of Fort Le Havre, except with more running and dodging guards and priests and soon-enough the group entered the key prisoner’s interrogation room.

“Vu must be deluded if vu pelieff schoving me zee face of mein nemezis vould make me talk.” was the greeting they heard from the only prisoner. Amethyst Ninja immediately recognized the reference to himself.

“Heydrich?” he said incredulously “What are you doing here? Where’s Professor Takamura?”

“Torture me all vu vant vu do not haffe vays to make me talk”

“You know this… walking stereotype?” asked Samarj, barely suppressing a smile.

“His name’s Conrad Heydrich, he’s a captain in the Pharaoh's army. Last time we met he was plummeting into the Nile after we sank his ship. Back then he was wearing a uniform, not this black trench coat.”

Amethyst Ninja turned to his nemesis and offered to get him out of there. Heydrich refused, convinced that this was another ploy to get him to talk. In the meantime Samarj scanned his thoughts and found a memory of him at Fort Le Havre getting arrested by Cyberchurch authorities.

“He was also looking for Takamura” she said discreetly to the others.

Eventually Amethyst Ninja was able to convince Heydrich to share his information in exchange for his freedom.

“Fery vell. Arh ! Takamura vas taken py one Cartinal Zapin. Zey are blanning to take ein train to Affignon.”

Despite the thick accent, Samarj took an interest to Sabin’s name, remembering one of his agents she had met in Orrorsh.

----

Land Between, Aysle, Day 53
Kwang Im, Song-Ho Sun, Garrick Heinston, Tobias Lynch

The heroes followed Gerrold through the underground tunnels. With the exception of Garrick who was getting used to these treks, they marveled at the procession of cut-stone corridors and cathedral caves.

While passing through a huge cubic room with a bottom filled with water, Garrick GLORIOUSLY threw a torch to check the size of the room. Unfortunately he hit a charyb that angrily attacked. The creature proved to be a tough opponent as both Garrick and Song-ho nearly drowned. At the same time, Kwang’s revolver somehow became enchanted and turned the tide of the battle.

After they had resumed their journey, Gerrold stopped and indicated he could feel the presence of great treasure nearby. He agreed to guide the heroes there provided he gets his share.

Behind a secret passage in the middle of a featureless corridor, the heroes found a small cave. Bones and skulls were scattered everywhere, as well as a few mining pickaxes. Tobias checked the back of the room, where marks of picks could be seen. Song-ho carefully worked towards digging out whatever was there. While they were doing so, Tobias and Garrick checked the bones and found twelve skulls, each with a name written on it. Kwang also searched through the scattered bones and GLORIOUSLY found a large number of stone cubes, each with a letter on one side.

Eventually the back of the cave was cleared revealing a stone wall with three lions. Each lion was engraved with the words “York”, “Lancaster” and “Anjou” which Tobias recognized as referring to noble houses rather than locations. There was also a space for putting in the blocks Garrick found earlier. Combining their knowledge of English history with an astute mind, the heroes finally managed to spell the name “Plantagenet”, prompting a side of the wall to vanish entirely.

In the chamber beyond they found chests full of gold beyond their dreams, as well as the body of a knight laid out. Before they could reach for anything, torches spontaneously lit up and the ghost of the knight appeared.

“Hail, knights! I am Sir Theod'r, loyal followeth'r of Richard the Lionheart'd. Thee has't shown thy astuteness by resolving the riddle of the seal'd gate. Shalt one of thee visage the test of bravery to showeth thy right to bear mine own enchant’d arms?”

Kwang immediately came forward and answered “I, Sir Kwang Im, will face your challenge. Do you mind if I use my gun?”

“Thy weapon is unusual but I shalt not deprive a brave knight of his mark”

The duel was short but intense, as the knight wore a coat of arms red in color, which prevented Kwang from using his pulp powers. After suffering heavy wounds, Kwang surrendered. During the duel Garrick and Tobias tried to grab some gold but realized a powerful force was preventing them from doing so.

The knight bowed and the room vanished.

The Storm Knights found themselves in another place. A chest of gold stood in front of them and Kwang received an enchanted suit of plate armor. “While thy prowess of arms may beest lacking, thy cunning and bravery art worthy of reward” echoed a distant voice. After sharing the treasure and Kwang deciding to sell the armor at the next opportunity, the group resumed their journey.

----

East Coast, USA, Living Land, Day 53
Bronze Bullet, Elizabeth Poliakova, Gregor MacConnor
Spoilers for Just Plane Dangerous (Delphi Missions: Rising Storm)

The Storm Knights left the village early and went directly to the plane crash location. Once they arrived on-site, they decided to avoid the edeinos as long as possible and headed for the burning inside of the wreck. When they were inevitably noticed, Elizabeth and Bronze Bullet took care of the enemies while Gregor worked on blacksmithing the flight recorder out of its case. The Storm Knights left with only some minor burns and the wreck exploded right behind them.

An elongated cylinder landed next to Bronze Bullet. It was a leather case that had miraculously survived the explosion. Inside Bronze Bullet found a lost treasure: an old Navy sabre from the 19th century. As it was mostly decorative, he decided to keep it for later and out of curiosity began checking the flight records. His discoveries were extremely unexpected and quite contrary to the Delphi Council intelligence he had been provided for the mission.

The plane did crash when the Living Land had expanded to the area, however the plane began losing altitude mere moments before the event, after losing an engine to a mid-air impact. Puzzled, Bronze Bullet inspected the remains of the wreckage and found bits and pieces belonging to a ground-to-air missile. With more questions than answers, the Storm Knights continued their mission.

After a short journey they arrived at the location described by the villagers, the waterfall. As soon as a fight against the locals erupted, Bronze Bullet pulled out his weird science tools and plugged the eternium core of his rusty battlesuit into a nearby tree, animating it into a huge vehicular tree. With his new weapon, the threat of the T-Rex was quickly countered. Skullcap Gotak went down just as quickly, especially after Elizabeth forced God’s will upon him.

The Storm Knights decided to spare their exhausted enemies and focused on retrieving Professor Blankenship from his cage. Unfortunately, the professor had disconnected during the fight due to a freak surge. Fortunately the heroes managed to get him back to civilisation before he had to transform.


----

Between Le Havre and Avignon, France, Cyberpapacy, Day 53
Amethyst Ninja, In-Soon Heo, Samarj Chopade

The heroes barely had time to board the train to Avignon where Cardinal Sabin was transporting Pr Takamura. They had quickly said goodbye to Chloe, who was not too keen on going into Malreaux’ personal space.

The Pilgrim Express was partially aptly named: it contained pilgrims on their way to Avignon. The Express part did not apply too well, since it had a lot of planned stops on the way. The Storm Knights avoided the prayer wagons and went straight to the dining car. The next car, containing higher-ranking members of the priesthood, was well-guarded. The heroes ordered some food while considering a strategy.

As they were doing so, Jonathan noticed the bartender had a tattoo which reminded him of one he had seen in Paris, on the arms of certain Resistance members. His attempt to have a chat with the bartender did not go as expected. Two priests were sitting nearby, preventing any kind of overt conversation. The bartender did suggest asking for a personal audience with the cardinal as a way to meet him.

In-Soon went to the two priests drinking at the bar and told them he needed to see the cardinal due to having noticed a heretic in the train and wanting to denounce him. One of the priests left while the other seemed to have a chat with someone in his head. The priest leaving presented an opportunity for Samarj and Jonathan, who followed, sabotaging the security scanner on the way to the next car.

Samarj mentally scanned the car for signs of intelligent life. Only one was available, most likely to be the priest they had followed. Fortunately the empty compartments showed the names of those who were supposed to occupy them.

In the meantime In-Soon was joined at his table by the hologram of a cardinal, who introduced himself as Sabin and asked In-Soon’s name and number. In-Soon, unsure about the Delphi Council’s quality of fake identity craftsmanship, tried to wiggle out with his usual marketing spiel. Sabin asked the same question, again. After considering his options, In-Soon introduced himself as a corporate consultant Stormer interested in establishing long-term partnerships with the top (and only) French company: the Cyberchurch.

Amethyst Ninja and Samarj found Sabin’s compartment empty and unused. Fortunately they were able to quickly locate a transmission node and, after ascertaining none of them knew how to hack it, clumsily worked it out of the wall for later use. On their way back to the dining car, they overheard strange noises coming from the compartment occupied by the priest from earlier. They were able to make out the words “in”, “nomine” and “satanis”.

After some consideration, Sabin tentatively agreed on further considering the partnership offer provided In-Soon and his company could help him with a minor issue. A holographic symbol appeared. Sabin explained that it belongs to a group of demon-worshippers living somewhere in Russian Tharkold. He wanted them all dead.

Samarj opened the door to the compartment where a demon-summoning ritual was underway and threw a grenade inside. The explosion did not take out the now obviously fake priest. The Hospitaller guarding the car rushed to the sound of the explosion. In the meantime Amethyst Ninja was suffering through a bout of Nile reality surge and, caught between the summoner and his demons and the Hospitaller, persuaded the obvious heretic to join them. In-Soon arrived soon after.

The demon summoner considered the situation and decided that since his plan was already compromised, saving his newfound allies was the better option. He leaped out of the train after blasting through a wall with a fireball. The Storm Knights followed suit.

The group got back to their feet in the middle of a prairie, cows grazing peacefully all around them.

Samarj turned to the heretic and asked “What was the point of summoning a demon in the middle of that train?”

“I thought I was toast when some guy tried to denounce a heretic to the priest next to me… Hey that was you, wasn’t it?” he said turning towards In-Soon.

In-Soon looked amused but apologized about the mistake “That was just a bluff to see Sabin.”

Samarj handed the transmission node to In-Soon for hacking and analysis while Amethyst Ninja chatted with the summoner. His original plan had been to meet up with other Forsworn, as they called themselves, in Avignon and conjure up some demons during next Mass.

In-Soon quickly got into the computer and discovered some messages between Sabin and the Russian army. More specifically one Colonel Anton Krilov. One message in particular provided Sabin with information about Takamura and asked him to capture the scientist and hand it over to them. The exchange had already taken place. Fortunately the colonel’s hometown was provided: Kaluga.

----

Near Plougasnou, France, Cyberpapacy, Night 53
Lithiel, Michael Goodenough, Ivy, Hiroto Nogushi

The dark forests of the Cyberpapacy were unfamiliar to Lithiel. Despite being an experienced tracker, she was hopelessly lost. Furthermore, the group was surrounded by a pack of howling dogs with glowing red eyes. Fortunately Ivy’s miracles tied up the pack leader in vines while the other hellhounds were tricked by Hiroto into jumping off a cliff. Despite being tied up, the pack leader was not keen on going down. Instead it put on a demonic human voice and taunted the heroes into approaching. Pterry did and was pinned to the ground, with severe wounds. As soon as the hellhound broke free, it leaped upon Hiroto and Lithiel extracting unholy revenge until it was finally sent back into the abyss it came from.

While Michael took care of everyone’s wounds, Lithiel took a quick look around and said “Friends, we are not lost. Here is our destination.”

The Storm Knights approached two pillars on top of a cliff. The pillars were of ancient iron age style with Celtic designs, though apparently also upgraded with glowing cybernetic circuitry. Michael, following his intuition, held the mask in front of him and approached carefully. The ancient technology activated and a portal appeared, showing a grand boulevard as part of an ancient city, also full of circuitry. The heroes stepped through.

A voice greeted them “Oh. I didn’t see you coming. Welcome to the sunken city of Ys.”

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