Circle of Shadows - 2072

The nightmares of Lei sheng

Lei sheng swam through the murky waters of Hong Kong harbor. He rose up out of the water as quiet as death and moved to the shadows. His targets, three vile creatures responsible for many disappearances on the docks of Hong Kong, had their backs to him. Off to the other side, Kenji’s spirit invoked its formidable concealment power to hide itself and the explosives rigged by Spider…time, and life, was literally ticking away.

Huddled in the middle of the creatures, a small, helpless child, a girl of ten summers, wailed in terror. Lei sheng shuddered at what these foul creatures could possibly want with her…the possibilities were both numerous and unpleasant. He clenched his fists in preparation and gathered hismagical might to him.

Abruptly, the girl stood and strode through the spirits to stand before a dumbfounded Lei sheng. Her features were both grief-stricken and clouded with rage.

She levelled a finger at Lei sheng. “You,” she spat, “could have saved me.” Her tiny fists trembled with frustration. “Coward!” she screamed. “How could you leave me down here?! How?! You…you…deserved to go to prison! I…I hope you die in Kowloon.”

Lei sheng collapsed to his knees. It all made such brutal sense…if our spirits could conceal, it stood to reason that they had access to the power also. He felt small, gentle fingers touch his chin and inexorably raise his downcast head. She cooly gazed into his eyes, his soul. “Hmmm, some warrior you are. And if you only knew, Lei sheng, what else was down here for you to discover…an opportunity lost to you FOREVER.”

He woke to the feel of her slap knocking him to the ground. A knock on the door. “It’s go time, lardass, and Kowloon’s a’waiting. Get up.” Blondie, charming as ever.

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Spider Log 10
So next she wants us to dumpster dive…

We head back to our employer, who appears to inordinately upset about her comm being compromised. We shed our supernatural shadow. (Apparently something possessed a bus driver and appeared to be paying way to much attention to us) Within seconds of the possession the bus had 2 flat tires, the driver/entity was stun bolted, the busses grid system crashed and we shot into traffic leaving it behind. We get back after receiving nearly 20 text messages to hurry up. What do find when we get there? Some sort of surreal scene, a spread of food high end prostitutes and generally relaxed security agents, not what I’m expecting based on the text messages we’ve received. Lei decides to perform body cavity searches on the prostitutes and Durgan poison tests the food the old fashioned way. Everyone else stays on task Wires doing the lions share of the security check. I talk to the other security detail, they found a listening device and crushed it but otherwise are not that worked up. We find out there are a bunch of cutting edge military or gov. spec bugs and Drone outside using laser communications. We gather all of them Durgan is already attached to them like they are his children! Wires tagged it so maybe it will lead back to something. Boss ladies comm. was hacked and the hacker sent all the e-mails. We get are next mission less than six hrs from now they want jump from helicopter into a cube shaped shanty maze full of crack-head gangers and steal an upper level member of the gang. Who was the food and hookers for? All I have time for is sleep before I have to go dumpster diving for old gang leaders… didn’t someone say we would have some down time?

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Wires Log 11
That arrogant FRELLER!

We arrive back at the hotel after a small incident en route. Apparently, those spirits are getting ornery, but our team is too much of a match for us.

Seriously, is Hong Kong just the Astral asshole of the world or something?

Anyway, we arrive at the hotel to discover that Maria was not actually the one to send us those S.O.S. messages earlier, but rather some frelling punk hacker that thinks he can blow past my security.

Well, to be fair, it was not MY security, but it was under my watch. That alone is an insult.

On top of that, he made it blatantly clear he was running through the systems, not even covering up his tracks! It is like he is taunting me. There is no Resonance sig on any of his work, so I am assuming he is a normal decker just like any other idiot with a decent comm and some hacking software.

The “hacker” also sent in some spy flies that were communicating (bypassing wireless signals and using lasers) with a drone outside of the window (which he was apparently jumped into). I hack his flies, wait for the communication so I can nail his ass back to his mother’s node, but the drenhead got cold feet and booked it when we threw up a signal jammer.

What a frelling pussy! Did I run when I got jammed back at Kaz’s? Frell no! I stuck it out like a REAL hacker and found a way around it!

Fortunately, I tagged his drone before it got away. Top priority on my personal to-do list? Send this joker a nice little “present”.

Anyway, after we clear the security problems out of the hotel (the others were doing things, I believe, but I was too focused on my end of the work to pay attention…or care), Maria gives us our next operation. This time, it is an extraction out of some drenhole shantytown full of gangs and crackheads.

Fantastic.

Shortly into the discussion and planning of the operation, Spider suggests that we send a smaller insertion team into the shantytown for this operation. I immediately volunteered to stay behind. I mean, seriously, I can support them from the HOTEL room and still be effective at what I do! The last thing the team needs is their head Matrix specialist getting a bottle on the backside of his head.

Everyone begins their planning. We work out a decent plan of attack. I, personally, summon a couple of sprites to aid in this endeavor.

I could have sworn she said something about downtime. We have only been here two days and we have already sunk a boat and are now going to assault THIS drenhole.

Whatever. Let us just get this over with.

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Bones Entry 8
Killing Hands>Immnuity to Conventional Weapons

So we get to our boat tanks to the spirit and me klimbs on boards. Me see a guy who not look scareds or freakings out, actuallys he looks deads! Me fix problem by punching him in back of head. Den me saws he had a jellyfish monster in him! Me fix dat problem too. My punch knock da jellyfish monster out of him. But the jellyfish monster was still floatings. Me fix lotsa problems tonight. So me hit jellyfish monster again and he go away. Den me saw Spider jumps off his torpedo and land on da boat. Me recorded it for youtubes. So the jellyfish monsters go aways and we gos back to china. And some guy wanted us to go down in dis hole and save his girlie. Me would have gones down and saveds her but then they sent explosives down and went booms.

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Durgan's Log 9
Durgan's Logs

Ok so the demo team plants the bomb and over the comm they keep making these weird comments about jellyfish monsters and dead people swimming around, but they head back to the ship and once they’re far enough away, Wires blows the bomb. With the ship sinking, I hear over the comm something about jellyfish monsters on the ship. Since Cenaris has really just been along for moral support so far, I jump out and it’s really really quiet then all the sudden there’s screaming all over the place outside the galley. Wires says the Captain had to move the ship because of the storm, so he and I decide to head up there to see if we can help him out while the others are approaching the ship and Kenji is levitating so the horrible seastate doesn’t knock him over. The team gets back; I can tell because Blondie says “F*ck that” over the comm and I get a video from Wires that shows Spider pulling off a very amazing manuver that I never would have dreamed of to get onto the ship (good to know they’re back on relatively safely). I start on the ladder and hit my head a bit but keep my grip. Wires isn’t so lucky, he starts up behind me but the ship rocks hard to one side and he goes flying off the ladder and through the table, screaming like a little girl the whole way. Kenji’s still down there, he can check on him; I’m still going for the Captain. I open the hatch and find a gun at my face. “Are you alive?” the Captain demands. “As far as I know, assuming you don’t kill me” I reply. The Captain seems ok enough with that answer that he goes back to the wheel. He seems tense and is shaking so I offer to takeover for him and he begrudgingly accepts, but keeps the gun pointed at me. I check in with the team and make sure everyone is on board, then ask the Captain for a heading to get the heck back to shore. Bones says something about destroying a horrible jellyfish monster and that they went bye-bye. The team starts searching the ship and finds no survivors, which I relay to the Captain, who tells me he wants to be alone and to go below, so I do. We get back to port and the Captain is upset and blames us for the death of his crew and says he’ll take the issue up with our mutual employer (oh well). We start loading up the Roadmaster, but run into a snag; there’s a large crowd of people in the way. A couple of the team walk over to find out whats going on while I load Cenaris into the car and grab my usual long coat and wait to find out whats going on. Lei Sheng says a man is yelling about his daughter being kidnapped and begging for help and that they want to help him, so we go to where he says she was taken while Bones goes back to the car to put on real armor. I lock the Roadmaster and tell it come come closer to where we are, with Bones inside :). The Awakened folk in the group discover a trail to a lair underwater while Wires finds news articles that show a string of disappearences from this area in the past few weeks. Spider throws together a bomb aand Kenji sends a spirit down to plant it in the underwater lair after the spirit tells him there are no living beings down there, only eel like spirits. The man is upset and yells at us to do something and even Lei Sheng realizes there’s nothing we can do. Wires lets us know he got an email from Maria, she got hacked and we need to get back ASAP. So we plant the bomb and off we go. A bomb going off will get the authorities here pretty quick so they can do their freaking job and deal with kidnappings and stupid spirits.

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Kalandra’s Thoughts 10

We get to the ship and have to climb up to the deck with the water rough. I make it almost up the when I hear Blondie say “f*ck that” and then see a video on my eyes with spider using the torpedo to fly over ship and jump onto the deck, how the hell did he do that! So just as I was going to go onto the deck the water picks me up and puts me and Blondie down on the deck by Spider and Kenji, thanks Kenji’s water spirit. So Bones beats up on one of a shedim and kills it; they leave, I guess they don’t like it when one of them dies. So Bones, Blondie, and Spider search every area of the ship and throws the dead body overboard. Wires get patched up by Kenji and Durgan is with the captain driving. We reach Hong Kong and as we are walking up the pier we see a crowd. There is a guy that is saying his daughter was taken and needs help. Lei Shang, Spider, Bones and Kenji walk over to him, I walk part of the way in case they need help. This doesn’t seem right. They start to walk over to the pier the rest of us decided to go with, Durgan brings my guns and we walk to join the others. Kenji sees the astral signature of a creature and sends a water spirit to find it. It finds and reports that it’s in a cave and the look like eels, with dead bodies around them, no one alive. So we decide that we can just go down there so we plan to use a spirit to drop C4 there. We hear a noise from the ship we just left and Durgan sends a spyfly to see what it was, the captain dead, but not by his hand. Lei Sheng wants to read his astral signature. So we head over there and Lei Sheng finds out that he was dead for over 7 hrs, he was possessed. During this Maria tell us she needs us back ASAP. Spider lets her know about the mission being complete and the Shedim, she tells us to cover our trail and get back. We leave and blow the cave.

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Durgan's Log 8
Durgan's Logs

So we get to Hong Kong, get into our suite and find most the things we asked Maria for while on the flight. With barely a chance to unpack, she calls us in to her suite, where there’s a very large aquatic type bomb and a bunch of scuba gear, and tells us we’re going swimming. We’re going to sink a ship full of the competition, makes sense. She also tells us that if any of us need to learn how to scuba or swim we can go down to the pool to learn, then ssends us on our way to prep. I get the bright idea to do an aquatic mod on one of the Samurais that I brought (it was Cenaris, I still need to name the other new babies we’ve acquired), so we ask Maria to make some calls and Spider and I do the mod real quick, then while he is working on making bombs, I go down to the pool where some of the others are practicing and Lei Sheng is a dolphin. He’d asked me to make a harness thing for him so he could keep his focus, so I whip a little something together and fit him for it in the pool so it’ll be good enough. Time to go… We pile into the Roadmaster that Maria provided, such an angel that one making sure we have nice things, and drive to the docks and fond the most rickety-looking boat I could ever imagine travelling on the open sea. The Captain meets us and eyes us kinda funny, could be my water wingies, then tells us about the upcoming 6 hour boat ride. Yay… So out we go on the boat, we hang out in the galley for most of it. Hmm, this ride seems to be more bouncy than before, must be getting gross outside. The Captain comes down to let us know we’re almost to our destination but that the weather outside is terrible; glad I’m not going out there in those freaking old torpedoes. We go out, the demo team drops the torpedoes in and Cenaris, then jump in and load up and tie themselves together with a nice long rope so no one gets lost, good thinking, then away they go. Meanwhile Kenji, Wires, and I head back inside to do our respective things. I jump in to Cenaris, and as I’m going full VR I see Wires passing out next to me for the same reason. It’s so dark out on the water, I realize something I feel stupid for not thinking of sooner, aquatic drones need sonar… So we putter along at the speed of the torpedoes and plant the bomb. I keep hearing all these slighty odd comments over the comm but they seem silly so Wires and I play Hacker Pong, best game ever.

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Spider log 9
Amateur Torpedo Jumping Trials

So I get back to the ship 30ft swells are going to make it really difficult to get aboard the ship,,,,, I don’t know what I’ll find aboard as I climb up and if I get knocked off, the only chance I’ll have is rescue dolphin (that would be embarrassing) Comm traffic indicates some kind zombie attack is immanent. If calculate right, time the waves based current pattern (67.8 % PROBABILTIY ) Calculate distance and speed….( AVAILABLE SENSOR DATA INSUFFICENT TO ACURATELY CALCULATE RANGE AND BEARING) { sensor data! Mark I eyeball Nothing else!!!} ( CO-PROSSERS TRACKING RELATIVE RANGE, SPEED AND BEARING… OPTIMUM POSSITION .3 .2 .1 MARK) I gun the torpedo engine to launch it off the crest of the wave, over the rear quarter of the boat. Jump now!!! { it occurs to me now that I’m committed, this is a lot more art than science… not always my best thing …) As I sail through the pitch black stormy air, the boat begins to slide up the next wave, tilting deck I’m hurtling towards to a dangerous angle { if I tuck and roll I may bare make it…. YES!!} I roll across the deck coming to my feet still holding on to rope tied to our drone. [Blondie over Comm: “F%CK that!!!” Wires: Check this out I just pulled it off Kalandra’s eyes I’m putting it on You-tube!] Kenji floats above the storm tossed deck Waves his hands and his summoned water elemental carries rest of the scuba team gently to the deck {Frack if I knew that was an option…} [Bones: I smash jelly fish monster! Other monsters run away!!!] The rest is just wrap up. Check the ship compartment by compartment nothing but un-moving bodies to be tossed into the prop to prevent possession by astral baddies, shedam I’m told. I don’t mind risking life and limb {in truth I kind of enjoy it!} but, for no reason at all!!! Weirdest thing all the crew but Capt. are Dead and I didn’t see a damn thing!{potentially Traumatic data redacted from organic memories Ref. data file# D3546} (Text of event conclusions:We get back to the docks an old man is begging a crowd for help looking his child that was snatched. Most of the team is inclined to ignore the potentially insane old man but Lei and Kenji decide to become involved { to be honest I was a little torn myself the situation seemed wrong from the start} The rest of team backs their play although there are plenty of grumbles over the private comm. The mans fishy story is that someone abducted his young daughter (Late in life baby? He’s got to be in his 70’s) Wires can’t find any record of the guy in the matrix, not “completely” impossible in this third world back water…. He does find more than a dozen similar cases in the last 8 wks. Kenji sends a spirit to trace an astral path reports an underwater nest of sewer dwelling corruption spirits, no evidence of a living girl plenty of corpses though… Kengi and Lei tell the man his daughter is dead again the guy doesn’t seem right … does break down crying? No he demands we jump in dark water and fight the spirits in their elemnt If there was any indication of live little girl to rescue I would jump in there and try a rescue but under these circumstances the best I’m willing to do is depth charge the critters maybe kill them or at least destroy the nest and encourage them to move along that done we move off.) This city must be the astral armpit of the planet!!

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The Art of War and The Warrior

Deeply troubled, Lei sheng entered a meditative state seeking counsel from his mentor spirit Huang-di, the Celestial Yellow Emperor. Huang Di revealed himself to Lei sheng, his stern features already heralding a rebuke.

Bowing low, Lei sheng spoke. “I seek wisdom and understanding, Mighty Victor of Chiyou.” Huang-di merely stared. Lei sheng plunged on. “My path has been set before me…to rid the world of a great evil, just as you did in times of legend. It seems wise to preserve my strength for the contests directly related to this struggle. It is the foolish general who commits to battle at every opportunity; his strength will likely fail at the necessary moments for victorious action.”

Huang-di’s lips tightened in a smile. “Ah so, it is General Lei sheng, now? You have risen mightily, Shweyu. So you place your feet in the prints left by Vo Nguyen Giap. You may find those prints far too broad and deep for you and unable to climb out of their abyss.”

Lei sheng’s fists clenched. “My path is to ultimate victory over this tempo drug. Although the situation is regrettable, the tragedy of a plague of corrupt spirits on the docks of Hong Kong is a distraction from the greater goal.”

“An excellent point, Lei sheng, and it seems you have yourself convinced. As for me, I counsel WARRIORS, not statesmen or generals nor princes or thieves. Your path is to walk through the trials of combat for victory. You will strive for that victory honorably; you will earn that victory through strategy and tactics. Did you not consider that the infestation on the docks was a stone to hone your blade rather than a diversion to weaken you?”

Lei sheng sighed, more troubled than ever.

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Wires Log 10
What do we look like?? Freeware?

Well, that was…strange. And a bit embarrassing.

I blow the mine, the target ship goes down, no problem. However, the others keep talking about “jelly fish monsters” and “spirits” and “dead bodies moving”. I have NO idea what they are talking about. The only thing I saw through Softy’s eyes was a dead body that KIND OF looked like it was moving (but in actuality was probably just the storm playing tricks on our perception).

Whatever.

The demo team starts boarding back onto the ship. Bones, Softy, and Blondie all climb up without any difficulty but Spider…

Frell, man.

Spider literally RIDES his torpedo OVER the boat and jumps OFF OF IT ONTO THE DECK BELOW. If I was not scared drenless from the possibility of that thing sinking our frelling boat, I would have to say that was one of the coolest things I have ever “witnessed” (I actually watched the recording Bones took of it).

Anyway, Durgan and I go to check on the captain. Durgan makes it up the ladder fine but I…well, I kind of get thrown off by the boat’s lurching and crash through the table.

Ouch.

It is all right, though, Kenji patches me up, we reconvene, and get the hell out of there.

Upon getting back, we come to find some nutjob causing a ruckus by our car. He is drawing in a crowd, yelling some dren about his daughter being kidnapped and needing help saving her. I, honestly, think it is a waste of our time since he appears to be a crazy hobo. However, several of the “bleeding hearts”, as Blondie likes to call them, go and investigate.

I will skip all of the masterful Matrix work I did and move on to the discovery that this kidnapping was not the first. The team does its mystery-solving thing and we find out people are being taken and eaten by some MORE FRELLING SPIRITS.

I swear I can not get away from these things.

The man wants us to help. Can he pay? No. Is his girl alive? Not according to Kenji and the other Awakened Ones. Did I just get an email from Maria saying we are needed immediately back at the hotel? Yes.

I think we are done here.

The others seem to agree with my mental assessment. However, Spider proposes we send one of Kenji’s spirits down with some C4 to nuke the bastards.

Can not say I disagree with this plan. We do it and get on our way.

Job well done.

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