Circle of Shadows - 2072

Kenji's World

This shadow business is preposterous at times. After completing the Doc Wagon body snatch and dump we we discover that the Yakuza tried to hit Kaz. This is hardly surprising since he tried to steal their drug trade. What was surprising is that the drug-addled Korean decided to hire us to hit the Oyabun in response. The oyabun… one of the hardest targets in the metroplex. Well, we say sure we’ll give it a go. Rediculous. We can’t come up with a workable plan that doesn’t involve a tactical airstrike and the destruction of 2 blocks of downtown real estate. But then I hear from my omae. The Yakuza want to hire us to flush Kaz. Wisely, we decide to take them up on their offer.

So we gin up the hit on the oyabun, and call Kaz for a meet. They helicopter us in to Kaz’ base and we get a frosty reception. It seems like they are on to us, but instead of putting alot of holes in us at the door they let us in. Then they let us see Kaz. Then they give us an open com to send the execute code to the Yakuza after locking us in a room. This is why I don’t do drugs. It makes you stupid.

Well our treachery has worked so far. We managed to ground his getaway chopper and the Yakuza are attacking in force. We’ve also managed to take out one of their mages and cleared most of our floor. Hopefully I’ll make it up to the roof with this grappeling hook so we can try a 2-way sweep and pick Kaz up in the middle.

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Bones' Entry 5
"fist" told you it was a verb

Okay so we go to meets kaz after talking to the Yakuza in person. Once we gets to the place where we met him last time a copter guy comes out and tells us to get in. So we get all our stuff, the dwarf brings a doggie, and get in the copter. We fly for a whiles and then the copter lands and we gets out at kaz’s house. Me think it nice house but prolly hard to get to. So we get into the house with all our gear and some random guy stops us. He looks all worrieds and says we cant bring our stuff in with us. Me okay with that me just punch way out anyways but Blondie talks to him and tells him to bug off and talk to his boss. So kaz gives us the okay and we go up to see him. No surprise that there is guy with gun in room too. kaz says that his mage guy has spells to detect danger and that we were very dangerous. Um duh? Group is heavily armed 90% of the time and he needs mage to tell him we are danger?.... Maybe me give kaz to much smarts. So he gives us ALOOOOOOOOOOOOOT of moneys and then tells us to wait downstairs so he can get us out of the country. So we go in the room and we wait…. and we wait…. and we wait…. me get so nervous waiting me stare at the door waiting for it to open when the Yakuza show up! Then the other guys say there are peoples messing with the doors! So Lei blasts the door with magic and it kinda creaks some so i try and helps by punching the door… The door explodes into splinters and the guy behind it might be dead…. ooops. So then the troll shoots a grenade launcher through the hole and it hits me too a little bit. Then some spirits showed up in the room and started attacking us. Some of them go down from the group but i got the chance and punched one and killed it. Then something hurts me really bads! Me might be stupids but me know fighting and there was nothing visible in the room or somebody else would have noticed which means…. Me switch to magey vision and look and there he is hiding in the corner invisibles. So me walks over, he gets really scareds kinda like he needs new pants, and me hurt him bads! Me love fighting the mosts!

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Lei sheng says Wow that was cool

I’m going to do something a little different for my log.

How cool was that?!!?

Bones—punching a guy on the other side of a door (okay, a weakened door, but still)

Spider—shooting a grenade back out into the hall…awesome.

Kenji—”Go eat everything in the hall.” Poetic

Ms. Softy—Completely sucker-punched by an Earth spirit…no defense roll due to surprise to lessen net hits, and she completely soaks the damage…Excuuuuuse me? Did you need something?

Blondie—the best moment would have been riding to Kaz’s safehouse on Lei sheng’s lap, but putting a FA burst into a goon behind cover was pretty over the top!

Wires—his moment has yet to come, but kudos for even going in meatbag. Score one for Larvae-Boy!!! Update: Great job on flipping the jamming and getting flipsided in the NECK!

Durgan—I hope your dog never mistakes me for a helicopter…And not bad putting down a spirit with SnS!

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Group within a group
First initiation with Oath ordeal (7 karma cost total for Grade 1 Initiation)

Kenji bit back the unpleasant feeling gnawing at him and steeled himself to approach Lei sheng. Trust was hard to come by in 2072 whether it was Seattle, Tokyo, or Shang-hai.

Still…

His years of study and mastery of more cerebral nuances of sorcery governed the need for the following conversation. Awakened humanity when karmicly bonded proved capable of much more than when left to their own devices.

As he approached Lei sheng, the Ork stood seemingly in anticipation of discussion.

“Huang-di, the Celestial Yellow Emperor, counseled me just recently during my meditations and I stand in agreement with you.”

Kenji blinked but otherwise showed no surprise. “Excellent, your chugoku-go majutsu coupled with the synergy of my talents and Bones’ formidable jukutatsu-ryuko will serve us all well on metaplanar quests to unluck greater chikara. I have not discussed it with Bones, but I can not fathom why he would refuse us.”

Lei sheng nodded his agreement and followed Kenji outside where they found Bones finishing off take-out ribs from Frankie’s (another survivor of the ‘30s restaurant corporate wars). “Bones…err-san, Lei sheng here and I would like you to join us for an important bonding ceremony. The link it creates between us will strengthen the three of us.”

Bones burped mightily. “Me no do spells. Hit things, peoples, spirits. Break things, peoples, spirits.”

“I assure you, your cooperation is all that is necessary.”

Bones stroked his chin. “Okay, what do we do next?”

Kenji briefly admired the proper grammar, but rapid analysis revealed the simplicity of the statement left little room for error either in tense or pronoun selection. “I have considered, given our situation. Our group, thought perhaps not so grandiose as the Illuminates, Templars, or Gladio, will be bound by Oath. It is quite simple. Come, I have prepared green tea.”

In short order, the three secluded themselves from the group proper. After several hours of concentration, threads of mana cemented between the three. “We agree to the following. One, our group shall remain secret. It may not be revealed to an outsider unless we all stand in agreement and the matter is of extreme importance. Two, we shall each contribute the wordly sum of 1,0000 nuyen per month and agree to split the cost of all magical materials, including foci, research, and instruction between the three of us. Three, we shall each aid the others in maintaining the group bond by helping one another to survive. Four, we shall remain in contact with each other even if fortune should separate us. If need be, I and Lei sheng will travel astrally to your location, Bones, and you must do your best to reach an area free from astral hindrance to facilitate this if need be.” Kenji inhaled deeply. “Now is the time to agree or withdraw.”

“I do swear and agree,” Lei sheng, Kenji, and Bones intoned in harmony. The Oath burned deeply, and was backed by mana, not just words of formed of breath and thought.

Kenji said, “I am kokoro, tounao, mind.” Bones followed. “I am karada, shenti, body.” Lei sheng finished. “I am jingshen, seishin, spirit.”

KENJI

First comes Earth, memory, stability. Next comes Air, reason, thought, the knowledge that there is me and there is not me. Now comes Fire, the will, and desire. And finally comes Water, the connections between all things, relationships, emotion. And I sit at the center, for I represent the soul.

I see the four Ideals take up their positions, each one standing gaurd at their gateway, forces moving through them, yet striking the balance point that is me. I speak the name of my servant, a spirit of Man. He has been with me for some time, but our time together is approaching its end.

“I await your command, Master.” It intones. I reply “I seek the path to Wisdom.” My spirit seems to chuckle and he tells me, “The path is before you, you have but to see it.”

And so I look and there is the path. It leads to a barred gate. But I know how to open it. This knowledge is as old as mankind. Wisdom must always be gained through sacrifice. I look upon my spirit of Man. “Services you still owe me. Services that may save my life, or the life of my companions. Let these be my sacrifice. Go, my faithful servant, you are released from all obligation.” The spirit bows and turns. He produces a silvered key and unlocks the gate. As he enters that place and vanishes from my sight the gate remains open and I smile, for those far shores are now mine to visit. And in giving up some of my spirit, I’ve come to know how malleable my spirit truly is. (Kenji gains the Masking Metamagic)

LEI SHENG

Lei sheng saw with astral eyes. Mind, body, spirit. A Trinity. One for all and all for one. The bond was there. He realized how easily he could manipulate the mana around him, strengthening his defenses against another sorcerer’s magic. Deeper understanding further eluded him, but this technique tempted Lei sheng with the further possibilities of increasing his newfound “jamming technique” by either reflecting mana back at a caster or absorbing it. (Lei sheng gains Sheilding metamagic)

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Kalandra's Thoughts 5

So we do this “killing” of the Yakuza’s head and lieutenants, and make a video doctored by Durgan and Wires to make it look real and the people that we are to be killing instead of stand-ins. We go to the abandoned airstrip to meet with Kaz; however, he isn’t there we are to get on the helicopter. So we all get in, including Durgan’s dog, and we’re taken to Kaz’s headquarters. This is a four story building first and third floors glass, second and fourth solid. Durgan is told to leave the dog, well he isn’t going to do that, and I don’t blame him anyway the dog is good back-up fire. So we go in with our weapons and gear, and Kaz’s men don’t want to let up to see him. A magician comes down and looks at us and talks to Kaz, well, we are let in but something is up because the magician tell the others around something. We go up the elevator to the fourth floor and wait in a lobby for Dae. She comes and brings us to Kaz and what do you know there is a person in the corner with his gun at the ready, was he tipped off. Well Blondie, being the girls she is, asked Kaz what was up, and what do you know the mage has a spell to let him know if anyone will do harm or ambush them. Well we told him that we don’t have any intention of doing him harm. Well he said he knows and gave up the money that we agreed on, Blondie also told him that we needed to get the info for the blackmail from another node along with the video of the Yakuza killing, he agrees to get it for us. So we get sent to a room with sofas hot tub and bar, and we are left alone. Well I don’t like this so I stay be the door ready to react. Wires get the message to the Yakuza and we try to open the door to let the men out there know that we got the info, the door is locked. What the Hell they locked us in. We wait 15 min, and Spider starts to put up explosives, and Blondie give me her gun with a grenade launcher. I see 3 people going to the door one kneeling in front of the door like they are going to blow it. We get ready to fight, Spider blows the side of the building, Durgan sends his dog out to climb the building, Le Shang hits the door and sends them behind into the wall. Bone then punches the door down and I fire a grenade into the hallway. I guess four spirits come and try to get us but we take care of them, one tries to hit me in the back, Blondie kills that one.  Then they throw a grenade up at us and Spider shoots it back to the first level, got to say it’s a nice shot. Next I shoot a grenade into the lobby. Now we are seeing some action, hope we make it out alive.

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SPOTLIGHT - Channel 18

“Thank you for being with us here today, Father Michael…” Candace speaks quietly as she sits facing the Catholic Bishop. “Welcome to our viewers to this special edition of SPOTLIGHT our weekly focus on issues that matter.”

Candace turns slightly to face the camera, “This week we are meeting with Father Michael O’Rourke a Bishop with the Catholic Church with a very special assignment. Father Michael is the former patron of the Order of St. Sylvester and now attached to a task force assigned by Pope Pius XIII to investigate and study the Holy Scriptures as applied to the Awakening world. We are here today because Father Michael has some very shocking and interesting things to talk about…things that we at Channel Eleven believe … matter. Father Michael, thank you for being here.”

Father Michael smiles the left side of his face is scarred as if by burns and his left eye somewhat obscured by the heavy scar tissue. But his smile is genuine though there is a look of eagerness and drive too, “Thank you Candace…”

KT

Candace says, “So Father you are a researcher into matters involving the Awakening World, a concept that applies to the new world since the arrival of magic and metahumanity. The last Pope, Pope John XXV issued the edict “In Imago Dei” and that is uphold by our new Pope…what does that mean exactly?”

Father Michael nods as he answers, “Yes Candace …that is a good place to start. In Imago Dei translates to “In the Image of God” The church was slow to recognize metahumanity after the shocking events of the Awakening and the Surge and so many deaths. But through reflection and God’s direction it was realized that although metahumanity arrived at a horrible time in our history that in fact this is all by God’s plan and the principles of In Imago Dei still apply…” Candace nods and smiles, “What are those principles father?”

Going on he says, “Simply stated… Metahumans are possessed of souls and capable of salvation. Discrimination against metahumans is not Christian, Magical abilities are not, by nature, evil. Rather, like any other human ability, they may be used for good or evil. Spirits are living manifestations of nature. Thus, conjuring is not in itself evil. However, conjuring touches on so many questions of faith and doctrine that Catholics may not practice it without specific permission from the Church, to be only used by clergy under unique circumstances.

Candace turns again towards the camera, “Well that is relief! After this decree your order, the Sylvestrines was formed and what did you do as the head of that order?”

Father Michael smiles and nods, “Yes, the order of Saint Sylvester is charged with research and investigation on behalf of the church into Magical and Astral Phenomenon. We are a very progressive order but still completely bound to Scripture and Tradition.”

Candace goes on, “Now during that time you encountered several events and handled cases that have led you here to us with some pretty shocking statements – statements that you want us to get out there to the community for what purpose?”

The Father turns in his seat so he too is facing the camera, “We want people to wake up and understand that there is more at stake than their next meal or their next Nuyen. The End times are near and evil is not some abstract concept born out in the drugs, violence, and deviancy of our world – that is only one small part, one small taste or step. But behind those things – those very dark things, is something much darker and it intends us all…the world harm. It is only by rejection of those dark things can we strengthen ourselves to stand against the greater darkness that awaits.”

Candace nods, “Father that is pretty spooky, but it is also – well to be frank – pretty cliché? I mean this seems to be the same old message the church has been trying to get us to follow for centuries…right?”

Father Michael leans forward, “Candace…it may sound like it…but let me give you a little something new…something not traditional – The bridge between the worlds is the Astral Sea…and beyond that sea are the planes and places of the heavens…The Dark One and his ever vile minions lurk there and are reaching towards our world across a powerful abyss…every dark act, every vile cult, every evil and willful sin creates a resonance – a bridge that reaches across that abyss that separates the Dark One and all of his minions…from us. Even now there are those who have chosen to guard that abyss and to try to redress the balance and keep the dark minions from crossing – from creating a hell on earth…but those guardians can falter…the Dark One is ever trying and hates us – always seeking a way past them. His forces on earth are numerous and spreading. We must unite, we must turn away from the corruption we take for granted we just accept as business as usual – only then can we maintain the strength of our world. That is the message I hope that your city will hear today.”

Candace smiles that knowing smile, “Yes Father…that is very ominous and maybe it will bring hope and a few more into the fold of the church. Your work continues…”

He nods, “Yes my work continues, the Sylvestrine order remains devoted to its research and guardianship…I have been recently tasked with a more specific and direct mission specifically involving the Astral and the Abyss…and that is where my calling now takes me…thank you for having me on this show.”

Candace finishes, “Well thank you Father for being here…and good luck to you next month at the Reinhold Conference in Munich…I hear that you will be giving your full presentation for the enlightened there and that even Lofwyr is rumored to be attending…”

Father Michael nods slowly, “Yes…that is what I’m told.”

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Spider log 5
What a tangled web we weave…

We ride in a helicopter into the center Kaz’s stronghold loaded up with and arsenal no bodyguard would let anywhere near their client. Fortunately for us these body guards have a junkie for a client! The biggest problem is the machine gun puppy, but our Ares VI assault rifles w/ grenade launcher don’t help either. I brought one along mostly to surrender it as a compromise. I have to because the junkie let us up with all our hardware! However Kaz’s magic support smells a rat. We manage to get our money, unfortunately Kaz is suspicious enough to isolate when wires makes the call, I don’t know what they were planning but locking us in a room cause my highly tuned nervous system to go into overdrive which make the 15 min wait seem like days. I go behind the bar (2nd best cover in the place and not as suspicious as setting up a machine gun nest behind the hot tub) I try to keep in character, I figure after fifteen minutes even an innocent team would be ready to bolt, so I plant a demo charge knowing we are being monitored. I think they were about to buy my line of bull when the yakuza (No slang names for the client not even in my head) hit team strikes. We are so far out of position it isn’t even funny. I blow the wall as if I plan to make an escape route, I may even use it as such, but really it’s a front to get super puppy to run up onto the roof with gecko mod we added and take out the elevator. Durgan programs the dog and sends it running. The world is in that razor sharp too slow feel of upcoming violence and then we wait… attention coprocessors counting the shots fired calculating fields of fire and a thousand unimportant details that may mean our survival < also locked on Blondie with the big sack of creds >. At times like this I curse my unknown designers for failing to enhance my vision. I can tell by others movements that thing are about to break. (I think Li may have sent a spirit to trash the helicopter, starting to become sort of a specialty!!!) Then he attempts to blow the door. Bone the smashes the door killing the poor bastard on the other side Death by flying door what an embarrassing way to go! Softy unloads with the grenade launcher internal security is having a bad day!! Still waiting for a viable shot Blondie picks one off, still no targets… time slows as even more as attention co-processors detects movement < IDENTIFIED WHITE PHOSPHORUS GRENADE CALCULATING KILLZONE > Softy starts move toward grenade… TROLLS! < CALCULATTION REACTION TOO SLOW TO CHANGE OUT COME… > Everyone else just looks with O FRAK! painted on their faces. I have gel rounds! Line up the shot smartlink assisted, adjust angle and fire only have the one shot… WP grenade knocked back out of the room landing on the lower floor. Threat eliminated!!! Kenji sends his pet fire spirit to discourage further grenade tosses, a good thing because I don’t think I have too many of those shots in me. Softy Lobs another grenade into the lobby. Suddenly we are ass deep in spirits Four of them one blasts me with that fear effect I steel my will and hold against the onslaught. Before I can line up a shot the rest of my team snuffs them out at least I hope none of just went invisible… <no> Bones Screams in pain then moves on something I can’t see he swings… still can’t see the target but I can shoot at the plaster cracked outline… one enemy mage appears and slumps to the ground<no> Whats my next move up the shaft out the window….

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Wires Log 5
Out of the frying PAN and into the firewall

So, after many failed attempts at formulating a plan to take out the Yakuza head and his lieutenant, we catch a break. The head calls Kenji wanting to strike a deal. Apparently, we had been doing what the Yaks wanted us to be doing from the start.

I am not sure I like being manipulated in this manner, but they say they will work on wiping our slate clean in Seattle, so I can not complain.

The plan is simple. Fake a large gunfight against the Yaks, making it look like we killed the targets, go back to see Kaz, call the Yaks with the coordinates, and they swoop in to take Kaz’s head. I have heard worse plans. Additionally, the party puts together this additional con where we get Kaz to pay us for both the wetwork job AND the blackmail job they nixed earlier right before the Yaks nab him. That way the wage slave does not get his life ruined (bleeding hearts, my team).

The staged gunfight goes well. Durgan and I edit together this nice video of it to show Kaz. We call, go to the rendezvous, and find a full-scale gang war has erupted and Kaz has fled to his bunker, I mean home.

Great.

Then they tell us Kaz wants us brought there so we can receive our payment.

Even greater.

We get there and the place is a fortress. High walls, barricaded entrances, armed goons everywhere. I start getting a bad feeling about this.

The doormen greet us with unusual concern and caution. Did someone tip Kaz off about our plan? They better not have. I REALLY do not feel like dying today. We are brought up to see Kaz, he pays us, Blondie tells him that I need a connection out (the whole frelling placed was jammed beyond even my capability) to retrieve the blackmail file.

They stuff us in this lounge and apparently lock us in. I get an even worse feeling about this.

Surprisingly, they give me an unjammed comm to “collect the data” and I use it to call the Yakuza cavalry in. After that bit of essential work is completed we are left waiting. And waiting. And WAITING. I get an even WORSE feeling about this.

The team tells me to call Kaz. I get Kaz’s idiotic hacker on the line. The frelling dreckhead hangs up on me! If I get the chance, I will Nuke his ass back to the ancient days of dialup.

The team looks ready to rumble. I am not cut out for this kind of action. Bones is staring at the door waiting, Spider seems to be wiring some C4 to the window, Kenji…disappeared. Must be using some invisibility spell. The others seem anxious. I am anxious. I have REALLY got a bad feeling ab-

Hold on. Incoming call…from Dae.

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News at Eleven!!! Emergency Report

EMERGENCY BULLETIN!! LIVE REPORTING!!

Candis Lacey reporting from downtown Seattle! Over the last twenty four hours the streets have been a bloodbath! Early reports seem to indicate that some 50 to 60 deaths have occurred as gang violence has suddenly sky rocketed!

It is of epidemic proportions and other major cities throughout UCAS, CAS, and the Tribal Nations are reporting similiar crisis.

Sometime in the early morning the gang violence erupted in the Bellevue region and we have unconfirmed reports that a gangland assassin team has killed Hanzo Shotozumi and several of his key lieutenants! The life long Oyabun and leader of the most prominent and widely respected Yakuza clan is reported dead.

Early police reports indicate that the an assassin team using a helicopter and coordinated ground assault managed to locate and assault Hanzo and his lieutenants while enjoying some R&R at this secret mansion in Bellevue. Reports are sketchy at the moment but claims are 17 yakuza killed and 22 wounded. Among those assassinated his chief Captain of the Kenraku-Kai Family, and several captains of the smaller units of Yakuza. Retribution attacks and vengence has been unleashed all over the city against a variety of targets with no one clearly claiming this event.

Heavy weapons, explosives, drones and lethal toxins were used in the attack. Doug it just goes to show you that no one is safe these days even Hanzo Shotozumi arguably more secretive and better protected than our own Governor Brackhaven.

Bellevue Mansion

....This just in…

The First Nations Gang, Komungo, Seoulpa Family under Chief Running Bear and Kaz Yakamura has unofficially claimed responsibility for this assassination! The winds of change are here! A shift in power in the underworld is certain…

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Blondie Chapter 1-4
I don't believe this crap...

Over the last 24 hours this crew has frustrated me to my wits end. Apparently we have no problem killing people as long as they fit our group definition of “scum”, but we can’t even do a simple blackmail on some wage slave. Hell, all we’d be doing is selling him to a different master and he might even make a few bucks in the process.

Then, we get an offer to do a serious yakuza hit (the Oyabun for crying out loud!). Easiest way is to bring down their hotel with them in it. Unfortunately, these Boy Scouts aren’t willing to risk any collateral damage. So we spend the next several hours discussing options which ALL share the characteristic of ZERO survivability.

I think the media has mislabelled us. We’re not terrorists, we’re vigilantes. When did I sign up for that?

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