CAST OF PLAYERS:
Debora Silkotch…………..Casey Gavin……………………………Human Psionic
Jera Morrison…………..….Alseyne Aulaudin……………………Sidhe Changeling
Kendall Nye…………………Joseph McAdoo………………………Ronin Garou
Jeremy Whitener………….Korin Alabaster…………………………Were-Mongoose
Aron Head………………….Story/Setting/Everything Else………Game Master
Amaya squirmed, then stopped as the ropes binding her to the chair bit painfully into her arms. She struggled to open her eyes; the urge to throw up was extreme. The room was dark…her ghoulish eyes adjusted quickly though. The night was her time.
Outside with the raiding party, Casey stood motionless in something resembling a psionic trance. Her mind inhabited Amaya’s: she saw and heard and felt everything the captive ghoul experienced.
Wallpaper peeled from battered walls. A wide picture window lay across from her — smashed — looking out onto the porch beyond. Other windows were about, but they were boarded up.
On the floor near her chair lay the battered and beaten body of a boy no older than eleven years. He was wearing shorts, a blue t-shirt, and a cape. His head was turned at an angle for which his neck should not be capable of accommodating. Eyes open, the poor fellow looked on at nothing, life having left his body some time ago.
Out in the yard, Casey grimaced. “Ulek, I’m sorry. Your man is dead.”
The boy nodded. “We heard…” He struggled with the words. “…We heard… the struggle.”
Across the room the baboon — Phil — was pacing in front of an opening leading into a hall beyond. He stopped, seeing Amaya’s wakefulness. “Well, hello sleepyhead.”
“It’s the baboon in there with her,” Casey murmured aloud. “He’s speaking to her…I’m going to keep listening in, see if I can learn anything useful. If he tries to hurt her, I’ll do my best to stop him. If you want to send the heavies in now, I can try to keep him from interfering with you. I’m a little concerned, though, that I can’t read him very well. It might just be that his monkey brain is too alien for me, or he might have some actual shielding against psionics. Count him as an active danger until we know for sure that I can disable him.”
Pip looked to Yggthor, “You got that?”
The troll grunted, “Aye.”
Amaya stared mutely at the baboon.
Casey whispered gently in her head, ** Keep him talking if you can. He may have some useful things to tell us about why your master was killed. I’m going to try to loosen those ropes for you, but keep your arms behind you. Don’t let him know I’ve done it; it could be dangerous for both of us. ** She reached out telekinetically to the knots binding Amaya to the chair, attempting to loosen them. It was hard; the distance…plugging in through Amaya and then attempting the TK… sweat beaded across her forehead. It was like trying to loosen a knot while her hands were asleep. Slow work, but Casey kept at it.
“Phil…” Amaya obediently followed Casey’s lead. “What happened? Why are we here?”
“Good question…I do ask myself that sometimes,” the baboon answered in a tone suddenly steeped in whimsy. He shuffled in her direction. “I mean, many philosophers — such as Aristotle — agree that we’re here to find happiness. But what is happiness? Is it Eudaemonia? How is it achieved? By finding a balance with nature? Or seeking the highest good?” He shook his finger at her. “Or is happiness the end result of the successful pursuit of pleasure…?”
Amaya looked uncomfortably around the room again. “I don’t like it here. Could we go outside? I kind of feel sick.”
He backhanded her sharply across the face. “Shush, now. I’m lecturing… Now where was I…? Oh yes, Hedonism.”
Casey felt it too, her head snapping to the side.
“You alright?” Pip was concerned.
She nodded bemusedly. “Bastard’s monologuing. Doesn’t like to be interrupted. Too bad he’s not saying anything helpful, just rambling on about the meaning of life and whatnot. He fancies himself a philosopher, I gather.”
“It could be a distraction.” the Stonewolf sniffed the air. “Or he needs exposition…justification for what he’s about to do.”
“Whatever happened to the quiet, evil types?” Pip complained. “Always seems like they have to wax eloquent before ripping the wings off pixies.”
“I’ve never been a fan of talking monkeys,” Yggthor grumped. “That Lancelot Link? Creeped me the hell out.”
Alseyne lifted an eyebrow. “Lancelot Link?”
“The Secret Chimp,” Pip nodded.
“Yep,” Pip confirmed. “That’s your Cadillac of monkeys, you know?”
Amaya stared up at the baboon, her cheek burning. “Phil….” Her voice was softer this time. “Are you happy?”
A line of concern creased Casey’s brow. “If you guys are going in to get her, I think now would be the time.”
“You said something else was there too, bad juju. The necromancer maybe…knows you’re looking?” BranAdoo snorted.
“I’m sure he does. Expect trouble from him if you’re going in there.”
“Tell us where…or blast the monkey through a wall.. that’ll tell us exactly where to get the girl.” The Stonewolf snarled softly, tension rippling the muscles in his neck and shoulders.
Casey pointed toward the big shattered window just visible through the front porch. “They’re right there, on the other side of that window. Falco sounded more interested in questioning the baboon than in killing him, though. I’m going to listen in on what he’s saying to the girl for now. I’ll try to immobilize him if you guys make it to her.”
The Stonewolf looked to Yggthor, Claws and then to Lord Norfolk before standing tall. Looking down at the great sword in his hand he sheathed it smoothly. “I am ready.” He looked to the Mongoose. ” Korin, can concealing magics be cast upon you.. or something you could carry. Maybe a temporary fetish?”
“Not sure…depends on the fetish I guess,” Korin smirked. “Nothing too crazy and I might be down for it.” He shifted restlessly on his heel. “I have no clue of magic’s effectiveness on me. The source of my power isn’t tied to magic as yours is. I’d imagine magic would affect me the same as it would the girl who waited on us tonight at the restaurant.”
“Any blessings, prayers or good luck spells to cast, now’d be time for it. ” BranAdoo took the first step in that direction, rolling his neck.
Korin stretched out his wiry muscles. “Ya know a baboon can be fast…very fast, and aggressive. I’d say let’s be careful, but that would be a waste of breath. I say let the heavy hitters hit, and the Mongoose get. I’ll try and grab the girl as soon as you flush the baboon.”
McAdoo nodded. “I think that the Great Khan will try for a scoop-and-run, if we can,” he snarled the word, “subdue…the monkey for questioning. That’s a good thought, however.” His voice shifted to a more rational tone. “Whoever else is in the house may change the plan.” He looked to Ulek and Pip. ” Should things go badly, where do we meet if we survive? If the monkey flees, Ulek, will you be able to intercept him? ”
Pip answered, “Here. Ulek’s men cannot venture from their territory, but you can fight here, right?”
“Will you fight?” Alseyne asked pointedly.
“Aye.” Ulek’s tone was dark. “Bring the creature to us and we will finish him.”
“Come when you can,” Pip said to Casey as they departed into the trees.
Inside the house, the baboon had stopped pacing. He was standing before Amaya now, regarding her thoughtfully. “You ask good questions, dearie.” He nodded his head several times. “Yes… yes, you do. Am I happy?” Shaking his head, “No… not now. Not for some time…”
Casey pulled and tugged determinedly at the knots at the ghoul’s wrists. They were beginning to loosen a bit.
“…The only thing that seems to make me happy anymore,” Phil explained, “Is… is… choking girls.” His eyes darkened, glowering down at Amaya. “That is a lovely neck you have… I shall relish the wringing of it!”
His ape hands were on her, twisting and squeezing her throat…!
Casey choked, reflexively recoiling from the invisible stranglehold. Abandoning the knots and the psionic joining with Amaya, she withdrew back to herself out on the road, with the house looming before her in the dark.
She inhaled deeply, sucking in the sweet night air.
Ulek stood beside her. The other Warriors were watching the perimeter.
Gathering her resources and refocusing on the baboon, she quickly considered her options. His mind was too alien for her to try anything subtle on him; her best bet was probably going to be blunt force. Summoning her old standby, the telekinetic pulse, she hurled a bolt of power at the baboon.
His head snapped back — he released Amaya, momentarily disoriented, but the moment passed quickly.
“What was that?” He turned away from her as if hearing something outside. He entered the hall beyond, leaving her sight.
Casey blinked, her concentration broken by a gunshot blasting simultaneously in her ears and mind.
She stared through the trees at the dilapidated house, but it was too dark to make out what was happening up there. Instinctively she made a quick surface-sweep for the minds of her associates.
Pip, Alseyne and Korin were easy to locate — and Wynne had joined them — but the remaining three didn’t register on her senses at first. Frowning, she searched deeper and finally found them. No surface thoughts: they seemed to have fallen asleep. Casey sneezed suddenly, rubbed her nose, sneezed again, and withdrew resignedly from their magically-sedated minds. Obviously it wasn’t boredom that had overcome them.
Leaving Ulek and his warriors, she made her way toward the still-conscious portion of the raiding party. As she moved she reached out to the ghoul inside the structure. ** Amaya. ** She didn’t immerse herself this time; the connection was only verbal. ** It’s going to be okay, we’re going to get you out of there. It might take us a little while to get to where you are, but we won’t leave without you. If the baboon comes back and tries to hurt you, or if you need help quickly for any reason, just call me. Inside your head, like I’m talking to you now. My name’s Casey. Call me good and loud, and I’ll be right back with you just like this. **
*Okay.* Amaya’s fear thrummed through the connection.
Casey sent her the telepathic equivalent of an encouraging smile, then withdrew the link. Joining the ‘second wave’ she said quietly, “The girl’s okay for now. She’s relatively undamaged, but scared. What happened to those guys?” She nodded toward the slumbering forms on the ground near the house.
Pip looked up, frowning. “Some kind of necromantic sleep spell.”
“An extremely powerful one,” Alseyne added.
Wynne smiled, “Hey, Casey.” The Sluagh handed Korin a button, pinning it to his shirt. It read: “Imperial Battlecruisers Do It Better” with the image of an Imperial Battlecruiser blasting Trek’s U.S.S. Enterprise to gnarly bits. “This should protect you long enough to get inside the house.” She explained, “It’ll only afford you a few moments of protection from the sleep spell.”
Korin glanced doubtfully at the button before winking at the Sluagh, “Always been more of a Star Wars fan myself but, I’ll give ye all I got, Captain.”
Wynne smiled, “Nerd.”
“The good news,” Alseyne added, “Is that the house is not subjected to the field. Like the eye of a hurricane, it is safe in the center.”
“We can’t break the spell by attacking it head on. We’re just not that strong,” Pip sighed. “But if you can get inside and distract the spell-caster for just a moment or two, that will be all the break in his attention that we’ll need to wake our boys.”
“So let’s go,” Korin quipped, managing as always to look cheerful and ferocious at the same time. “I mean, what’s the worst that can happen?”