Aviario: The Archivists

06. Hostel Environment
#LionWatchNYC

The team makes their drive back to the Bygones Casino crammed into Johnny’s car. It is a very quiet, tense drive, as none of them wish to confront Alyx in such close quarters, and by the time they get back to their respective rooms, everyone is soggy and exhausted. Hali’id takes his first turn at the shower while Nick takes Alyx to task for their actions.

Alyx explains that they did what seemed feasible to them, and that they saw no other way out of the situation which would not implicate them in greater crime and risk exposing the Organization. They also mention that their anima gave them the idea. Repulsed, Nick takes his turn in the shower. Next door, Shandra has a few violently ill moments in the bathroom, and Lucy makes her very first room service order (with no help at all from a very snooty blonde bellhop and a much nicer ginger one, both strangely British). To Shandra’s shock, Luce doesn’t remember what happened in the Department of Defense past a certain point: she has blocked it out, and being in the bubble of air she created seems to have limited her own observations. She has no memory or knowledge of even creating the bubble. Bewildered, Luce retreats to the corner to sit with her Bible. Shandra calls Janus to tell him what Alyx did, then Nick comes in to check on the girls. While they’re all grounding, Johnny arrives and says Janus is ready to have their Skype debriefing in the Reagan Room.

Over the course of the debriefing, the team and Janus come to a mutual agreement: Alyx will no longer be traveling with them. Nick shares the information they gained: the number of the sample Gabe stole, the Illuminati pin he took off one soldier’s collar, and their revelation about Luce’s powers. When they come to the description of Alyx’s attacks, Lucy leaves the room, not wanting to hear what she doesn’t remember. Janus sends Alyx out of the room for the final half of the debriefing, as well, and asks the team to pursue their leads in whichever way they see fit. He apologizes, saying that he never meant for this assignment to put Nick and Shandra so far in over their heads, and offers to pass it off to another group if they feel they can’t handle it. Nick and Shandra concede that they’re already in it, and both have their own reasons to follow it through to the end. Janus admires their commitment, and addresses Hali’id directly as a member the team, asking him to help prepare the others for any future combat situations as best he can, since he is the most skilled in that regard.

In order to ground themselves and take their minds off what happened, Lucy and Shandra play a game of Giant Tetris in Bygones’ casino, while Hali’id has a heated text conversation with his handler about what went down and his lack of prior information about it. Nick calls Bob Ogden, and receives another call from the Jack of Spades with what he was able to get from the remaining Illuminati soldier. They have two leads: Darren Walker may be in danger for ratting the Illuminati out, or they could pursue Gabe to New York. Shandra texts Darren to warn him, and the group has a lengthy debate before deciding to go east to New York. Janus puts them in touch with the New York Haven’s leader, Nathan Hollinsworth.

Along the way, Lucy navigates with her maps, leading them to the best spots. Hali’id teaches Shandra how to defend herself in hand-to-hand combat, and teaches Lucy a little bit of parkour. In return, Lucy teaches Hali’id some lock picking, and Shandra and Nick help him strengthen his English. Shandra hacks the Department of Defense to find more information about the sample Gabe stole, and finds out that it is used in gene splicing. Nick, Shandra, and Luce posit that the Illuminati is quite possibly developing a way to give people anima at will. Jt is revealed that Hali’id is not actually sure what country he’s from. Nick and Hali’id mend their differences and form a tentative friendship, and the group arrives in New York stronger in more ways than one for the journey.

Nathan welcomes the group to the New York Haven, where they meet his co-workers Ed and Dylan before having a delicious and unexpectedly perfect dinner at The Engine Room. While they are there, Nick realizes that the chef, Tom Allister, is the grandson of his mother’s family cook, and the dessert he serves Hali’id triggers a vivid flashback of sitting on the back steps of some building, facing an alley, sharing the same food with a friend. After dinner, they drive out to the place Nathan has arranged for them to stay: a hostel which Lucy knows on sight as though it were home.

The owner of the hostel, Dylan’s brother Ethan, greets them a bit distractedly but warmly, and shows them to their rooms. Once they’ve settled in, Lucy goes to visit him and catch up with him – it turns out that she once stayed there for a period of time about six months before, and has been sending postcards from every place she’s been. Confused about her intentions, Ethan asks Lucy what she really wanted from him and expected to get by coming to him. Lucy, upset, says she only wanted answers, and a friend. Ethan tells her that Janus will be the one who will have her answers, but he’d be happy to be a friend. Lucy goes to bed, and Ethan has a brief conversation with Shandra, who still can’t sleep after the massacre at the DoD. He installs a meditation app on her phone, hoping it will help.

The next morning, Nick wakes up early to mail some letters and sees Lucy on a Missing poster in the post office. When he returns to the hostel, she’s awake, and he confronts her apart from the rest of the group. She confesses that she did run away, but she had her reasons: she was afraid that she’d be ostracized from her close-knit community for being different, and that she didn’t belong there. Nick, understanding more than Lucy probably even imagines, agrees to keep her secret from Hali’id and Shandra for the time being, and the two go on a breakfast run to the bagel shop down the street, where Nick makes the acquaintance of a Very British Gentleman at the tea counter.

When they return, Hali’id is reading the newspaper while Ethan makes breakfast and Shandra tries to do a little more research into Globalight Industries, as well as a last little dig into the DoD’s website. Shandra decides she wants to go take a look at Globalight, but Luce has her own plan for gathering information. Nick and Hali’id go back to the Haven to talk to Nathan.

Ethan chaperones Shandra to a coffee shop across from Globalight, where they survey the cleaning crew, and Shandra hatches a plan to infiltrate them by pretending to be part of the housekeeping staff. Ethan helps her swipe a keycard by using his anima, a yellow lab, and Shandra sees a member of the Organization transform into a full animal for the first time. (Who’s a good doggie? Ethan’s a good doggie.) Meanwhile, Lucy visits Central Park and catches up with the homeless community, who tell her that they’ve seen Gabe skulking around the New York Haven. Speaking of…

Nathan, Nick, Dylan, and Hali’id discuss the situation at hand, and Nick brings them up to speed on the situation with the Illuminati. Nathan, remembering Nick’s own origins in the Organization, is quick to tie his friends’ disappearances to the recent attempted captures. However, when Nick mentions Professor Goddard by name, a strange thing happens: Hali’id freezes, his mind going elsewhere. When he comes to, he says one word: “Ghazala” … and then excuses himself to go get some air. On the way out, he runs into Lucy, who was coming to warn Nathan and Nick about Maya. Concerned, she follows him, trying to help. Hali’id only wants to get back to the hostel, so she agrees to show him the shortest route, cutting through back alleys. As they pass through one, a man skulking in an alley goads Hali’id, calling him a terrorist and effectively pushing his buttons. Hali’id manages to restrain himself, but just enough: punching the wall beside him hard enough to leave a dent. The skulking asshole flees, screeching about a terrorist at the top of his lungs, and Lucy and Hali’id take to the rooftops to evade a growing crowd of witch-hunters (as it is, after all, the tenth anniversary of the attack on the WTC).

TBC because good lord 18 hour game

View
05. There's An S In It
The S stands for SHIT, ALYX, WHAT DID YOU DO

June 23rd-24th, 2012

The game begins with the team’s debriefing to Janus via Skype. Luce decides to trust him after he reveals that he knows Ethan, her kind benefactor from her sojourn in New York City. Alyx name-drops Dr. Sayegh, and tells the team the results of their shakedown with Hali’id the night before. They also mention Globalight and Project Sunex, along with three names: Gabriel Noonan, Darren Walker, and Vivian DeVeldt. The last two names cause Shandra and Nick to respectively flip the fuck out. Nick confronts Hali’id about the Illuminati, to which Hali’id has a wonderful response: Oh, look at my phone. Homina homina phone stuff homina. Nick storms out, and Shandra follows him to give him the spool of grounding. Once he’s calmed down, he returns and tells Alyx about their discovery of the Preston trunk. Alyx and Luce make the connection that the Illuminati may be a splinter faction of the Organization, before the team splits to rest for the evening.

That night, Shandra has a nightmare of being surrounded by hordes of tiny Heartless (of Kingdom Hearts fame), and is nearly engulfed by them. Just before they overtake her, she is saved by a tiny, literal firefox: the subconscious personification of her anima. In the peace that follows, Darren walks into her dream and tells her he has severed his ties with the Illuminati, and wants to help them. He obtains her phone number, but not her trust. Meanwhile, Hali’id dreams that he lost control of his anima and slaughtered the rest of the party in their beds. His reaction wakes Alyx, who decides to go on a coffee run.

While retrieving beverages, Alyx gets a call from Dick. He tells Alyx that en route to Acapulco with their new loot, the three thugs received irate calls from Gabe, telling them that they needed to be ready for Phase 2: a raid of the Nevada branch of the Department of Defense. Shandra does some quick “sonofabitch” reaction hacking and discovers that Gabe’s bail was paid by Globalight. The gang calls Janus, who asks if they can handle stopping her. Alyx says that they can, so long as plausible deniability holds. Janus refers them to Air Force Col. Bob Ogden, and the operation begins.

Bob sets them up with a cover as air system inspectors, with Shandra and Luce under the guise of interns. They split up to try and find Gabe – Nick with Luce, Alyx and Shandra with Hali’id. Nick and Luce investigate the storage facility while Team Minority hacks some security cards and finds a development lab, where Gabe is in the process of stealing a chemical specimen titled X87-91. Gabe puts Shandra at gunpoint and demands Nick. Alyx calls Nick and gives him the ultimatim for her. True to himself, Nick proceeds to Hulk the door down. Hali’id disarms Gabe, and she bolts with the specimen. Alyx calls for help, but the help is with the Illuminati, and they march the party to the storage/R&D wing and toward an armored van.
Luce discovers that she has the ability to make herself unnoticable to others – not invisible, just beyond notice. Nick and Hali’id, the team muscle, fight off the majority of the goons, and Shandra uses her fire to set off the sprinkler system. The effort succeeds so spectacularly that she fries the DoD’s entire surveillance system in the process. With the resulting water, Alyx pulls what is the creepiest move so far in game, and floods the attackers’ bodies, drowning them in their own lungs.

In the aftermath, Alyx takes charge and has them load the bodies into the armored van, sending a message to fake their kidnapping (their covers’ kidnapping, not their own). The team calls Crowley for Spanner-ish advice on what to do with the bodies, and he refers them to an abandoned weigh station out in the desert. En route, Alyx informs Hali’id – within earshot of Shandra – that they only need one person left alive. Hali’id rides in the back of the van with the bodies and, in proper soldier fashion, follows his orders. They are met by the Organization’s Jack of Spades, Jack Devlin. Jack disposes of the bodies and promises to get information from the one Illuminati soldier left alive. The game ends with all but Hali’id and Alyx in stunned shock, as Johnny arrives in his Roadrunner and offers them all a ride back to Bygones.

QUOTES:

“Oh, right, you’re black!” – Niki, re: Shandra, for the umpteenth time

“Annie-Lennox-lookin’ bitch is a pain in my ass.” – Col. Ogden, re: Alyx

“Do you think WE look like we blend in?!” – Luce, to Hali’id

“I feel like I walked into a comic.”
“You did not. This is the Department of Defense.”
– Shandra and Hali’id, Captain Obvious

“We should probably leave.”
“But I just got my gun.”
– Shandra and Hali’id, Team Minority

“How many fit in the front?”
“Well, we know five dead bodies fit in the back!”
– Laurel & Niki.

Seriously: if this game were run like Whose Line Is It Anyway, Laurel and Niki would have won it, hands down.

View
04. Coyote Lucky
Artifact - The Hoyt Bones

June 2012, one week after the discovery of The Betrayer’s Trunk.

Janus informs the team that a museum has been robbed in Las Vegas, NV, and an artifact from the Book of Bayencourt was stolen. Nick insists on renting a car instead of taking Ral’s van (sorry, Tillie), and he and Shandra head over to the rental center. To their surprise, Hali’id is there picking up a car for one Daniel Preston Woolrich. Nick tries with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to find out why he’s still in town, and Hali’id evades their answers. Shandra calls Janus and updates him on the situation.

As Hali’id is leaving with Daniel’s car, a convertible comes into the 4-way intersection and T-bones him, a grinning Crowley behind the wheel. Nick and Shandra manage to coerce Hali’id into coming with them to Shandra’s apartment while he waits for his next rental to be ready. Hali’id goes into the bathroom to clean himself up … and while they’re packing, he sneaks out and down to the Organization. He overhears Anaias, the courier, discussing the thefts with someone on the phone, and returns to tell Nick and Shandra he’ll be going with them after all. They agree, knowing they can keep an eye on him, and head out to Vegas.

Along the way, Janus has them stop in NYC to pick up their new third – Alyx DeMariss, a lawyer taking over to accompany them as a senior agent since Howard went off on his sabbatical. Alyx is not over the moon about this assignment, but requires field experience in order to further their connection with their sea krait anima. They immediately take over the driver’s seat and head out to Vegas.

Not long before they reach the Nevada border, the engine overheats. Alyx goes off in search of water, and when they come back, the team has been approached by a blonde teenager with a backpack, who tells them she’ll guide them to a truck stop in exchange for a ride there. Along the way, she introduces herself as Lucy (or Luce), a backpacker. She’s overly suspicious and cautious, and unwilling to give up much about herself, but her road knowledge proves useful enough that the team invites her to accompany them as far as Vegas in thanks. She agrees, but remains suspicious.

In Vegas, they’re greeted at the Bygones Casino by Johnny Fanatella, the Organization’s representative, and the unofficial walking lucky charm of the Sunset Strip. He gets them settled into their rooms, then sends them off to the museum.

The museum is a rinky-dink tourist trap, mostly dedicated to casino acts and stage magicians. The stolen artifact is a pair of emerald dice, formerly belonging to Jackie Hoyt, a cigarette girl turned high-roller from Chicago. Luce sees that the back door was forced, and finds a homeless man a few blocks away who tells her he saw the woman who broke in. While Alyx looks through the museum’s records and Nick and Hali’id keep watch, Shandra attempts to hack their archaic PC for information. Not much is found, aside from a note of the few other items which were stolen. One was a jewelry set: a necklace, bracelet, and earrings which belonged to a magician’s assistant at the turn of the century. They return to the Bygones to regroup.

Johnny greets their slim luck with some of his own, and takes them to dinner at the hotel restaurant, then sends them out onto the floor to enjoy themselves after their long trip. Over the meal, Luce says the homeless man told her that most thieves in Vegas fence items at the many pawn shops on the strip, and Shandra does a little hack magic to find which one they ended up at. Johnny says their luck may be turning … and thanks to his favor, Hali’id, Nick, and Alyx all win substantial amounts of money at casino games. Shandra cleans house in the arcade and wins enough tickets to score a brand-new Alienware laptop, with enough left over to decorate the girls’ hotel room with giant stuffed animals. Luce sneaks out to find a church to confess and pray, reflecting on the strange turn of events and looking for guidance.

The next morning, the team goes to the pawn shop and arranges to buy the dice later that afternoon, once the Organization’s accountant wires them the money. When they return, they find that IT’S A TRAP, and three thugs ambush them while the woman Luce’s hobo described. Thankfully, Shandra already pulled a switch with the dice, and they let her go to defend themselves from the thugs. The fight ranges out into a back alley, where Nick and Hali’id use their anima to subdue them – with a little help from a coyote with extremely lucky timing. Alyx and Hali’id take the three thugs away in their own van when it becomes clear that they were sent to capture the party. Nick elects to take the girls back to the Bygones where it’s safe.

Enroute to the casino, they’re pursued by a black pickup – the woman from the museum, again, who has realized their dupe and wants her loot. A sharp-eyed Luce notices that she’s wearing the missing necklace. Nick doesn’t seem cut out for defensive driving, so Shandra thinks fast: she calls the LVPD and tells them that a woman in a black pickup truck stole her purse. The pickup’s driver is pulled over and arrested: not only for theft, but for aggressive driving.

Meanwhile, Hali’id plays bad cop to Alyx’s good cop, and together they get information from the three thugs: Tom, Dick, and Larry. They tell them that a Dr. Sayegh sent them to capture Nick and Shandra, specifically, for study, and that the other woman, Gabe, was in charge of the operation. They are just two-bit peons, however, and jump at Alyx’s offer: they will give the trio the money promised to the pawn shop if they’ll just handily “disappear”. Tom, Dick, and Larry do like Bob Seger and take the money and run, leaving Hali’id and Alyx with three new artifacts (a wristwatch, ring, and money clip, all with protective or offensive properties) and plenty of new information to digest. The game ends with the team reconvening at Bygones to phone Janus for a debriefing.

QUOTES:

“It is the American custom to ask things that is not your business. I was only trying to fit in.” – Hali’id, Sassmaster General

“I’m not sittin’ in a car with your stanky ass.” – Shandra

“We deal in antiquities.”
“What kind?”
“Yes.” – Alyx & Luce

“Nick —”
“Yo.”
“… Who are you, and where is Nick?”
“We’re in Vegas. I’m trying to fit in.” – Shandra & Nick

Nick: (to a hangry Hali’id who does not like Snickers) How about a Twix?
Hali’id: * I do not care for tricks.
*Shandra:
Silly bear, Trix aren’t for Hali’id.

View
An Edict From Your GM
No, Really, Gang: Read This

Hi all,
This is your friendly GM speaking.
Please add your characters’ stats & sheet contents to a brand spanking new character page, in the manner that Bonnie has done for Luce. This will help me make game an actual challenge for you all and keep you from plowing through plot like some people (ahem ahem Laurel and Krista ahem).

Also, we will be doing an in-game debrief at the start of next session to refresh everyone’s memories. I am shooting for Sunday the 24th, time TBD.

Also wik: Niki, please message me about lion things.
Also also wik: Mike. please message me about snake things.

The more you carve out five minutes of time to do these little things. the more fun I can make game. Win win.

That is all. If you’ll excuse me, I have to go separate Owen and the toaster again. Oil and water, these two …

View
03. The Betrayer's Trunk
In which training takes a hard, fast turn.

It is June 2012 – two months have passed since the events in New Orleans. Nick and Shandra have been training with their Organization seniors on a weekly basis … specifically, anima training with Crowley. Shandra is fine with this development, Nick far less so – to the point that he calls Caroline after each training session to vent his frustrations. On the way to this particular Saturday morning session, the pair hatch a plan to get the drop on Crowley during training. Nick “borrows” a ring from the archives which will render Crowley mute if he manages to land a punch to his face. They head up to their lesson, only to find that he isn’t on the 2nd floor of the Organization in the training room.

In his place is Bart, a member of the old guard who has been retired for quite some time and is happy to be so. He informs Nick and Shandra that Janus and Crowley are busy in a meeting, and that he will be training them… and is extremely amused to hear that they’d planned to knock Crowley on his smug ass. Nick makes an instant ally, and after he and Shandra fill Bart in on the extent of their training so far, the retiree decides to take things a step farther.

Down in the basement – which neither really visited due to it only being the site of the mill kitchens – Bart asks Nick to open a ley line. He does, and finds that he is able to control the energy so that part of the line will follow open behind him … the real-time equivalent of map trails in movies. Thus outfitted, Bart leads the pair into a narrow, dark underground corridor, where Shandra learns how to create and hold fire, and Nick learns a bit about how to manipulate earth. Their new skills come with many more questions, though: why is there a maze beneath the Organization? Why are the walls made out of solid dirt? Where does it go? Interesting …

Shandra makes a poor decision by releasing her fireball into a stack of cans in the basement, which covers them all in sticky soda. Only Bart’s quick reflexes with his own Earth skills save them from being covered in aluminum shrapnel, as well, and they clean up in the kitchen. When Nick complains that it’s still not clean enough, Bart turns the sink hose on him, then sends him up to the third floor to wash off in the spa room while Shandra chills out and chats. Nick is more than happy to clean himself up … but is dismayed to see Felicia Sabrien, Janus’ right-hand-woman, discovering the purloined archival ring in his clothes. She withholds punishment, but tells Nick that Janus will still, indeed, hear of the development. By the time Nick returns to the training room, they have a visitor: Officer Troy MacLaren, Janus’ newest Informer. He tells them that a sinkhole of sorts was discovered in the North End, with a large trunk inside.

Shandra and Nick hitch a ride to the sinkhole site with Troy in his cruiser (Nick drawing the short straw and having to cram himself into the backseat). The site turns out to be where a shopping center was meant to be built, before the head of the project, the town selectmen, put a rather abrupt end to his life two years ago. The trunk in the sinkhole is very clearly an artifact: ancient, but in near-perfect condition. Nick pulls it up out of the hole with help from his newly-discovered ability, but Shandra’s hands begin to shake as she reaches for the trunk. When Nick expresses his concern, they argue, and Shandra blasts him for “trying to be her father” and reveals that she’s been “seeing a shrink” since shortly after they returned to New Orleans. Angry and frustrated, she storms off to the opposite side of the construction site, leaving Troy in the middle to try and smooth things over. He calls Ral to come and use his van to haul the trunk to the Organization, then speaks with Shandra, telling her there’s no shame in seeing someone to talk about how crazy life can get.

Back at the mill, they have an awkward reconciliation, then attempt to open up the trunk. It is sealed with some form of magic, and Nick manages to wrangle it open with help from an enchanted, lime-green 6" prybar. After a little mockery, they examine its contents: a diary dating from the Civil War era, and dossiers on every member of the Organization in Aviario from that time period. The diary belongs to Eustace Preston, and it details his purpose for becoming an Informer: to be a double agent and record everything he can about the Organization for his original employers. He does not mention the employers by name, but there is a very familiar symbol inscribed on the inside cover: the same circle within a triangle that Shandra saw on Hali’id’s desktop wallpaper. The last recorded entry in Eustace’s journal is addressed to his son, Grant, telling him that he needs to flee the country for his family’s safety. Eustace tells Grant that he will find the trunk in the basement, and that the information within is his inheritance and will help bring him good fortune. Clearly, the younger Preston never found his inheritance, but Nick finds dossiers on Janus, Felicia Sabrien, Amelia, Owen, someone named Aaron Hopewell, and their new friend Bart among the pile. Upon showing Bart their findings, he explains that Eustace Preston’s house burned in a fire in 1871, and took him along with it. They decide to interrupt Janus, important meeting be damned.

Janus comes out of his quarters and meets with the three of them, and is ecstatic that they recovered the trunk, much to Shandra and Nick’s surprise. He is not worried in the least, mostly because he knows that the information is safe and never fell into the wrong hands. When Shandra brings up the correlation between Eustace’s journal and the data she hacked from Hali’id, however, he becomes disturbed. Shandra laments her inability to recognize the language the data is coded in, and asks Bart if he might recognize it. Luckily for them, he does: it’s Sanskrit. A few language packs on her smartphone later, Shandra is staring at a file full of scientific terminology she doesn’t understand, but doesn’t like the look of, either. The Laptop File is almost its own language, but there’s mention of DNA sequencing, gene therepy, and an anagram: SUNEX, which Shandra rearranges to NEXUS.

As they begin to pick at the threads they’ve found, Shandra begins to poke around on her phone, trying to find the meaning behind the mysterious symbol. Success yields a simplified version of the eye-in-the-pyramid: a very old insignia of the Illuminati. Horror engulfs Nick, as he remembers a pair of his father’s favorite cufflinks: gold triangles with a diamond set high in the center. His father, who worked for an auctionhouse which dealt in antiques …

The game closes with Janus promising to try and find them a scientist who can help decipher The Laptop File, and Shandra and Nick resolving to find out as much as they can about Gregory Forsythe’s auctionhouse.

h3. Quotes

  • “No one pays you to be a hacker.”
    “Does Janus pay anyone for anything?” – Nick & Shandra
  • “Do you forget it’s Saturday EVERY Saturday?” – Nick
  • “Pop-tarts are lies. Filthy, sugary lies.” – Nick, while discussing what constitutes proper breakfast food
  • “If nothing else, he’ll die laughing, so either way, it’s gonna work.” – Shandra, on their plan to overpower Crowley in training
  • “I will name him Franklin.” – Nick, re: his ley line ‘shadow’
  • “You know, for someone so smart, you’re a DUMBASS.” – Shandra, to Nick
View
02-5. The New Haven Errand
In which Nick and Shandra retrieve some stuff and bond.

Owen sends Shandra and Nick to a thrift shop in New Haven to pick up a box of items for him. They have a mini road-trip back to Shandra’s old stomping grounds, and she talks to him a little about her concerns in the wake of everything that happened in New Orleans. A very talkative, bubbly shopkeeper hands over the box, which contained the following items in Owen’s Inventory:

  • A metal lantern
  • A glass decanter
  • A Hummel figurine
  • An old coffee tin
  • A cigar box
  • One cufflink
  • An old metal butter mold
  • A nine-iron golf club
  • A small, decorative Newfoundland flag
  • A silver letter opener & fountain pen from a desk set
  • A large, black-and-white rubber superball
  • Several old books
  • A roller skate c. 1967
  • A lace scarf, coffee-stained
  • A spoon bracelet
  • A very ridiculous-looking felt hat in garish colors
View
02. Trouble Ahead, Trouble Behind
In which getting home is half the battle ...

When last we left the party, they were standing at the front counter of Meyroux’s Voodoo Shack with a very recently deceased thug on the floor and a mysterious man with a smoking gun standing in the doorway.

Their “savior” is Darren Walker, a voodoo practitioner who wants the Book of Bayencourt for his own purposes. After a lot of freaking out, shouting, and general mayhem, the party reaches a grudging agreement with Darren: he will let them have the book, if he can just look at it for one particular piece of information. He takes the party away with him before the police arrive, bringing them to a large, Civil War-era home on the outskirts of the French Quarter, its yard teeming with kids. Shandra finds solace in playing with a few of them after the shock of seeing a man shot in the back of the head, and they all make a slight amount of small talk before being interrupted by the lady of the house: a voodoo queen named Iris.
She is none too pleased that Darren has killed a man, but tells him they will “talk about it later”, and leads them all inside. The sitting room of the house has an instantaneous grounding affect on them all, and Iris insists on putting the dead thug’s spirit to rest and cleansing the book before any of them attempt to do anything with it. She sets out a veve on the floor with flour and cornmeal and performs the ritual, while Howard “translates” for the rest of them with great zeal. Once the book is cleansed, Darren eagerly snatches it up … and finds that it will not open.

Howard and Nick give the book their best studious efforts, and finally realize that it must be situated in a particular way along a ley line to be opened. Lucky for them, Iris’ sitting room sits along one: the reason for its calming properties, and a great aid to her power. As they are working on the book, Darren explains that he wants an item that can reverse a curse laid on him by the houngan of their voodoo tribe in retribution for an accident he caused as a novice. Once the book is opened, Darren is able to look up a few items which may be able to help his cause, and the party takes the book and is on their way back to Connecticut.

They are stopped just outside Louisiana by a motorcycle cop, who takes Hali’id out of the van for questioning… which is pretty much racial profiling, really, and not cool at all. Shandra says as much, and after giving them some flack for a busted taillight, the cop lets them go. Nick is more than happy to suggest that they stop in Georgia to have Caroline fix the taillight.

At Caroline’s home, they take a bit of a breather, and while Nick and Caroline bond, Howard attempts to get to know Hali’id a little better. Since he is distracted, Shandra seizes the opportunity to hack the laptop that he stole from his contact, Edward, in the previous episode. She is able to get in and begin downloading his files, but only secures 1/3 of the data she was after before she has to abandon the hack.

On the drive home, Howard shares his misgivings about the police having their descriptions from Sally Bowens’ house: he was once a suspect in his wife’s murder, back home in England, in conjunction with a very powerful spellbook, an arcane ritual, and possibly some hallucinogenic drugs. He is innocent, but has been trying to figure out who was responsible and attempted to frame him ever since. The rest of the party is a bit unsettled by this news, but recover rather well, since Howard has already proven himself to be trustworthy.

Shandra falls asleep in the backseat and has a strange nightmare: a figure is following her through the streets of Aviario, but the town is deserted. He corners her in an alley, but instead of threatening her, he only gives her one cryptic message: “Beware of the lion”.

Once the party returns to Aviario, they deliver the book into Janus’ capable hands and are debriefed on the situation. He offers Hali’id the chance to join the Organization, but he declines and departs to who knows where, leaving the other three with more questions than they had when they left town.

Quotes:

  • “Will you chill? It looks like you’re possessed.” – Shandra, trying to calm Nick down before he goes in to speak to Caroline
View
01. The Book of Bayencourt
In which the party doubles in size ...

The episode begins with Hali’id Mustafa arriving in the country and going to visit one of his contacts, a man named Edward. He climbs the stairs to Edward’s apartment, only to find that when he opens the door, it nearly comes off its hinges. The apartment has been thoroughly ransacked. Checking for hidden panels, Hali’id finds a secret office space behind the place Edward was pretending to use as his desk, and appropriates the man’s laptop. Searching the rest of the apartment, he finds it in equal disarray … and discovers Edward’s body in the bedroom, with a bullet between his eyes. Cue opening credits, and the decided lack of a definitive theme song – an issue for later.

Shandra and Nick are, once again, called to Janus’ office, where they are introduced to Howard Ainsworth, a magical researcher and professor, who will be assisting them henceforth. Janus informs the three that they were called by Ryan Phillips, the individual who sent over the box of items in the last episode. He has sold the family property that the box came from, and now the new owner would appreciate it if they could come and clear the rest of the family’s old possessions out of the barn on the property. He gives them use of a moving truck, as well as boxes, dollies, and other needed equipment, and sends them on their way.

At the Baldwin farm, they are greeted by the current owner, Steven Connolly, who is clearly new money, and could care less about the ancient barn, which Ryan’s aunt had used as a sort of thrift store before she passed away and left him the property. He means to tear it down and build a new house, which gets both Howard and Nick’s hackles up, but they agree to clear the barn. As soon as they begin to try and clear away some of the stuff, however, the crates it is stored in start to topple down on them. After a few attempts at this, it becomes apparent that there’s some sort of protective charm on the building that must be dispelled before they can move anything from the barn. Howard locates a horseshoe, nailed crookedly to a beam, and asks one of the others to go and get a prybar from the truck. When Nick leaves the barn, he is tackled by an unexpected and anonymous thug. Shandra, going out to investigate, is accosted by the second. Grabbing a pitchfork, Howard moves into the fray, and together the three manage to render their attackers unconscious. Meanwhile, while they are dealing with that, Hali’id moves in to try and take the horseshoe himself, having been in the back of the barn, listening in.

While Howard moves to disable the thugs’ cars – unaware that one belongs to Hali’id – Shandra and Nick search the unconscious men and find two drop phones and a crude drawing of The Crest of Bayencourt. They head back inside to look for it, and Shandra spots it a split second before Hali’id. Both start climbing ladders up into the loft beams, and a scramble ensues to get to it first. Howard throws a knife and catches Hali’id in the shoulder, and Shandra uses her Backdraft to keep him at bay while Nick climbs up into the loft, putting himself between the stranger and his partner. Shandra makes her way to the plaque and dislodges it – and the entire barn starts to come down around them. She throws the plaque out the window onto the lawn, and all four of them manage to escape out into the yard before the barn completely folds in on itself.

Hali’id pulls his gun on Howard, and they have a terse standoff for possession of the plaque, during which Howard learns that the thugs were not with him – and have regained consciousness and taken off on foot, not wanting to have to deal with all of this nonsense anymore. Shandra and Nick discover that one corner of the barn is still strangely intact and untouched, and head off to investigate while the other two continue their conversation. The intact corner of the barn turns out to be a horse stall that was converted into an office for the thrift shop, and Shandra searches the desk to find a copy of an Antique Dealers’ Price Guide from 1994. Inside are two sticky notes: one bearing a name and a phone number (Alex: 555-7108), one with the words “humor of the mind” written in an old, somehow familiar cursive, and one simply emblazoned with the number 2. Meanwhile, Howard calls Janus, informs him of the situation with Hali’id, and is told to simply keep an eye on him and get what they were sent for. Howard tells Hali’id that he needs to stay on the trunk of his car while he checks on the other two, and they reach an agreement. While Howard goes into the remaining corner of the barn, Hali’id surreptitiously buries the plaque in the front yard, disabling the ward on the remaining section of the barn.

Howard notes that there are four horseshoes on the posts marking the corners of the stall – the protection spell that kept it from being destroyed when the rest of the barn went down. He arrives just as Shandra opens the second drawer of the desk and finds a codex – and the researcher lets out a slightly disturbing squeal of delight. Sooner or later, the three locate and open a trap door in the floor – but it is empty, and there are finger marks in the dirt from whoever took what had once been within. Howard rummages through the rubble, finds a tin box, and scoops up some of the dirt to take back along with the codex, and their clues. They leave Hali’id, who calls his own contact and is told to follow them back to wherever they came from.

Upon deciphering the Codex, the team learns that the missing item is The Book of Bayencourt … and that it was stolen from the family that created it by voodoo legend Dr. John, whose current descendant lives in New Orleans. Janus pulls rank and forces Ral O’Dailigh to loan the fledgling team his ancient white van, which breaks down en route during a rousing game of 20 Questions.

20Questions.png

A man on a motorcycle pulls up behind them and asks if they need assistance … and is strangely interested in where they’re headed. They leave him behind and make a pit stop in Georgia, where Caroline lives and keeps a auto repair shop. Amid much blushing and stammering on Nick’s part, they manage to get the van up and running, and finish the drive down to The Big Easy.

Sally Bowen, the descendant in question, lets Howard and Shandra into her house on the pretense that they are a professor and his assistant, working on a dissertation about Dr. John. They are not there very long, however, before the thugs from the barn show up again, very serious about retrieving the Book. They attempt to hold Howard and Shandra hostage inside the house, and one of them threatens to molest Shandra, but Hali’id and Nick rescue them. Hali’id kills one of the thugs in the process, but Nick keeps him from killing the other, who is simply knocked unconscious. Sally tells them the whereabouts of the book: a small voodoo shop in the French Quarter run by a man named Meyroux.

Once they reach the store, their goal is in sight … until the formerly unconscious thug catches up with them. He raises his gun to threaten them … and is promptly shot in the back of the head. When his body falls, the Motorcycle Guy from their trip south is standing in the doorway ….

Quotes:

  • “I appreciate not getting shot.” “I appreciate not getting stabbed.” – Howard and Hali’id
  • “Homina is for Persian, Hootcha is for Arabic.” – Niki
  • “I don’t know what that means.” – Hali’id, repeatedly
  • “I don’t think there’s that much juice in a banana.” – Nick, re: Fruit Slice
  • “It’s like your Google Maps, but it doesn’t MOVE when you POKE IT.” – Howard, explaining a paper atlas to Shandra
  • “The code for ‘come in guns blazing’ is ‘fiddlesticks’.” “What does that mean?” “I … don’t know.” – Howard and Hali’id
  • “Oh, fiddlesticks.” – Howard, less than a minute later
View
00. Pilot
In which Nick and Shandra learn their basic duties...

Owen receives a box full of items from a customer, and Nick and Shandra take it into the Archives to test the items for spells or wards. Amid some mostly-friendly banter, the two get a crash course in item enchantment from Janus, and manage to assess the whole box together. Among the items in the box:

  • Several books
  • An old photo album
  • The Locket
  • A ring of skeleton keys
  • A pair of bronzed baby shoes
  • An old tea tin with 10 wheat pennies in it
  • The Wooden Spools
  • Brian the Bear
  • An old copy of Boece’s Scotorum Historiae, worn illegibly on the cover and containing a personal, coded note to Owen.

When they bring their findings back to Owen, he takes the Boece book for further examination, and gives Brian a place of honor behind the counter. He then sends Shandra and Nick out to lunch, so that he can go over the book and its mysterious message privately. Shandra and Nick spend a somewhat pleasant lunch at the local diner, getting to know each other a little better and trading stories about their families. On their way back to the Organization, they’re intercepted by Crowley, who tells them to come with him so that they can work up on the Training Floor.
Needless to say, they’re both somewhat unsure about this new development – and it only gets worse when one of the other Organization members there goes Wild in the middle of her training and attacks the two. Crowley leaves to go get Janus, leaving Nick and Shandra to fend for themselves. Nick calls up his bear anima, and tries to use his enhanced strength to keep the woman at bay – but she shoots quills at him from her fingers, making it evident that her anima is a porcupine. Ouch. In a desperate attempt to keep them safe, Shandra throws out her hands and hollers “STOP”, and discovers one of her Fire abilities: the power to create a backdraft of strong, hot air. Blown back, the Wild woman goes for a chain hanging from the ceiling – one which held the punching bag she’d been training on before she knocked it down – and slips, knocking herself unconscious.
Another Enforcer comes out from the clinic area at the back of the room, introducing herself as Amelia, and helps Nick and Shandra tend to their own wounds. She also brings the other girl – Caroline – into the clinic, so that she can recover. Once they’ve been patched up, Nick and Shandra decide they deserve some answers, and go to find Janus.
Janus sends Crowley away, and then proceeds to give his visitors the truth: he’s been preparing them for field work, this whole time. There are artifacts, antiques, and other relevant items out in the world that Owen feels he’s no longer able to go and hunt down by himself – and the fight against Caroline was planned. She agreed to help train them, and was given a bracelet that made her lose control of her anima, so that they would be forced to try and discover their powers. Nick is less than pleased about this, and loses his temper at Janus, but he simply uses one of his own powers to calm him down. He then tells Shandra and Nick that it is their choice: they can either accept the offer and better their knowledge of themselves and of the Organization out in the field, or they can stay in the shop with Owen, and he will find someone else to do the job … possibly Crowley.
Being less than fond of the troublemaker, Nick begins to reconsider saying “no”, but tells Janus that they need a day or so to think about it. He and Shandra then spend a good while sitting on the steps outside Janus’ office, talking the matter over. While Shandra sees it as an opportunity to get out and do something with her life, to get out of their small little town and do something worthwhile and exciting, Nick is not so sure, having carved out a comfortable little hibernation hole for himself over the thirty years he’s already spent in the States, working with Owen and straightening out the chaos of his shop and of the Archives. Eventually, though, Shandra convinces him to say yes and go along with her – if only by appealing to the fact that he feels he should protect her. Having made up their minds, the two go back to the shop … but decide to still make Janus cool his heels and wait until the next day before giving their answer.

Quotes:

  • “Pretend there’s a pocket here.” – Krista, upon just sitting her prop handkerchief on her chest
  • “No, you may not intimidate the locket.” – Ang
  • “I now know how Jack’s mother felt when he brought home the beans.” – Owen, re: the items in the box
  • “They could be Hitler’s baby shoes!” – … was this Nick or Shandra? GM can’t remember.
  • “You’re a very sweet young little snip.” – Nick
  • “He’s talking to the toaster.” “Yes, he … he does that.” – Shandra and Nick, re: Owen
  • “Maybe it’s time you stopped hibernating.” – Shandra, to Nick
View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.