Family Ties
GM: Vulcan
Players: Slinger, Annie.
Synopsis: Annie moves to rescue her neice, Talia, from the MSD. She fails.
Date: January 25th, 2070.

Part 1: Dudley


You paged Vulcan with 'Okay, I guess I could contact Dudley…my bail bondsman contact. Find out if he knows anything about the arrest through his ute legal/court contacts. If that doesn't work, check with my KE Detective contact and see what he can tell me.'.

«OOC» Vulcan says, "Gimmie an eti check to get ahold of him. TN is standard-4"
«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls Etiquette vs TN 4 for "Contacting Dudley":
2 2 7 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 6 (Contact legwork) vs TN 6 for "4(Base)+2(CAS Contact for out of sector work)+1(Politically sensitive)-1(Contact has passing interest in justice)":
1 3 4 4 5 9 = 1 Success
«OOC» Vulcan says, "What name does he know you as?"
«OOC» Annie went by Sera with him.

"Hey Sera.. yeah. I heard about Talia. Damn shame that. What's this business about your girls being involved with MAgical terrorism in the Ute Nation? I mean, whats the story?"

Annie chuckles, "It's actually a long story…but Abejo peak erupted. The old girl is good, but that is beyond even her ability without a couple dozen backup dancers.", she offers a shrug and sighs, "It's trumped up charges and she has a plan in the works to clear her name. In the meantime she asked me to take care of her niece who is innocent of any of this."

"Well, yeah, I got that. But you hear about the shit thats happened there since then?" He asks. "Eh, ain't no matter. So, Talia, she got arrested, but the thing is, theres no real.. uh… well. Here's what the trade groups are saying. They say that in Denver, an M-SD warrant is unenforcable unless countersigned by the Councilor-Governor, the ork guy, whasshisname."

"Something about the offical status of Denver's ute sector as a seperate government administration due to anglo influence or something back in the day."

«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls Law for "Legal Hail Mary toss.":
4 16
«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls Politics for "Ork whassisname?":
1 3
«OOC» Vulcan says, "William Husecha… or whatever the Ute Ork Councilors name is. In short, when the Ute Nation established its Denver sector, owing to the high anglo population and being unable to by treaty resettle them elsewhere… they opted to give Denvert he same sort of priviliges an Anglo reservation gets."
«OOC» Vulcan says, "And the same legal protections. So any provo-based decision has to also be backed by the local governor, that being William Husecha." William Huhuseca
«OOC» Vulcan says, "So basically, the Ministry of Self Determination either has his signature, or is ignoring/unaware of that provision."
«OOC» Vulcan says, "Given their previous behavior… its likely they are simply uncaring. There may be a legal manouver to spring Talia."

Annie considers, "So you are saying that it is very likely she is being held illegally?", she frowns and absently strokes her chin as she considers this news, "Can you get me the name of a good lawyer, well versed in FRFZ law, and licensed to operate in the Ute Sector? The more high powered and visible the better."

"Alright. You're like the second person who's called for that today. But here's what I got for you. John Tuturo, he's a Paiute out of Las Vegas. He seems to be the only guy willing to take on the M-SD and I can't say I don't understand the other guys's problems. The MSD has almost full authortiy in the home nation, but this guys' got either no family or balls the size of Atlanta's budget deficit." "He's got an office in Boulder."

Annie nods, "Ok", she looks over at Dudley and sighs, "And finally, I don't suppose any of your trade forums or legal buddies might know where high profile MSD prisoners might be put on ice?"

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 6 vs TN 11 for "Base 6, +2 for out of sector, +2 for secret location, +1 for not being a native american.":
1 3 3 5 7 8 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 6 vs TN 11 for "Base 6, +2 for out of sector, +2 for secret location, +1 for not being a native american. KP 1/5":
2 2 2 5 8 14 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 6 - 1 vs TN 11 for "Base 6, +2 for out of sector, +2 for secret location, +1 for not being a native american. KP 3/5":
2 3 4 4 11 = 1 Success

"Yeah… I hear they got several facilities, spread out across the nation. The M-SD has a base up in Ward… It's a little town it he Rockies above Boulder. If they got a prisoner holding area in the FRFZ… thats probably it."

«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) spends 2500 nuyen for "Thanks for the consult Dudley.".

Annie nods and slides a credstick across the desk to Dudley, "Thanks for your time. I know this sort of thing isn't really your specialty, but I really appreciate it."

Annie adds, "You got a number for this lawyer?"

"Ain't no thang. You know pissed off injuns ain't never been an issue. And yeah. HEre's his card." Dudley slides a card for John Tuturo, Attorny at Law, Registered Advocate with the Shaman-Magistrates of the Ute Nation.


Part 2: John Tuturo, Attorney at Law


«OOC» Annie says, "Ok, I will contact John Tutoro…see if he will consent to a virtual matrix meet or something."
«OOC» Vulcan says, "John will be happy to meet at his FTZ office,"

Mooreland Building - Law Offices Lobby

The mans office in the Mooreland building is a small affair, one of those little corner offices leased by an Attourny out of the Jurisdiction of his main client base, and thus harder to phone tap. When you see John Tuturo, it's immediately obvious the 'class' of lawyer you have here…

SleazyDad250109.jpg

Thats not to say he's not a damn fine legal mind. Just… yeaaaaaah.

Annie looks over the lawyer for a moment and offers a pleasant nod in way of greeting, not sure if she is quite ready to shake the fellows hand. "Mister Tuturo, thank you for agreeing to see me on such short notice."

John grins then, running a tongue over his teeth. Lucky for you, its his own tongue. "Ms. Mederon! Good to meet you. I've heard so much about you. All good things, I assure you, aside from that part where your employees are international terrorists and magical mass murderers. Thats a bit of a problem, from a PR perspective. Old dancer, new volcano, dead anglos… it's a bit of an issue. SO…" A pause as he tucks his hands in his pockets, rocking on his feet. "Coffee?"

Annie chuckles, "No thank you…took me years to get out of the habit. No sense getting started again.", she nods in agreement at the rest of his recital, "Yeah, it's all quite the mess. I understand it's sort of your specialty."

He rocks on his feet again, one hand coming up to brush his hair back over the bald pate. "Well. I don't know that international terrorism is my bag, baby, but I am one of the only advocates in the Ute Nation currently willing to take on the M-SD. I dunno. I got this opinion that Tyranny and the abuse of freedoms are not only wrong… they are profitable."

"They definitely can be.", Annie agrees with a wry grin, "I need you primarily to offer me some advice with regard to the Talismonger, Talia Ki'Arnan. I'm sure you have heard the story by now…seized in the dead of night and carted off to who knows where. I've been told that an MSD arrest isn't even legal in the local Ute Sector without Huhuseca's signature on the warrant."

"Well." Says John then, offering a nod to his little office. "Lets step in to my parlor, said the spider to the fly." He says, switching Sperethiel, though with a bit of a Boise accent. "My retainer is 1000 a month. My consult fee is 300 an hour, any filings are a hundred per page, and if I have to make apparences, its 500 an hour plus prep time."

Annie chuckles and tosses the shyster lawyer a certified credstick, "Let me know when that runs out. Consider yourself on retainer.", she follows him inside the office and takes a moment to look around.

«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) spends 25000 nuyen for "Putting on the Retainer.".

He catches the stick, one hand deftly flipping it over his knuckles like a poker chip. He catches the readout in one eye, then casually tosses it on the desk. "Okay. I'm now your lawyer, and privilege is enforced. That only holds in the UCAS though. No privilege in the Advocate system. That said, yes, Denver Ute Sector is a distinctly seperate administrative division answering only to the Tribal Council and Unity Council. They have the power to impeach and confirm a sitting Councilor-Governor, but thats it. The C-G has full latitude to run the sector otherwise. It's to keep the anglo taint here from infecting the Ute Nation as a whole. It's bullshit, but when you let stupid old men who have magical talent but no political accumen set a nations constitution… welll." He grins.

"But the end result is Provo's laws don't actually have power in The Ute Sector unless the C-G issues them as well. Usually he does as a matter of rote, but the only law enforcement agency in the Ute Sector is Sand Creek, they are the only ones with powers of arrest and that comes directly from the C-G. The Ministry of Self Determination, bullies they may be, has no offical power of arrest in the Ute Sector as the C-G has not at this time, issued a writ of authority. I hear they havn't asked for one as it didn't occur to them to do so."

Annie considers this for a moment and then nods, "Arrogant bastards. So, if a writ has not been issued the arrest could not have occurred. Ergo she can't be considered to be an escapee from legal custody if she happens to break free of her MSD captors."

The lawyer licks his lips, an eyebrow raising. "Well. I suppose there's a particular school of thought that could see that argument, but its not one a Shaman-Magistrate would ever really uphold if there was evidence of some kind of… attack… on the agents holding her."

Annie shakes her head vehemently, "Oh, I am sure no-one in their right minds would choose to actually attack the patriots of the MSD. But if providence intervened and she somehow got released and made her way out of the sector, repercussions would be unlikely from a legal standpoint."

"Very. Especially if the MSD was embarrassed in some way that made it, you know… politically viable to repudiate them. Word is that the C-G isn't their friend, but you know politics."

Annie nods, "Interesting. It's all of course just a theoretical exercise at this point. The odds of a prisoner escaping the MSD are probably unlikely.", she pauses a moment before continuing, "Now then. What sort of legal proceedings can you initiate that would protect Talia and her future freedom. I am sure there are injunctions, legal petitions with lots of latin interspersed therein, and perhaps a direct appeal or complaint filed to the C-G himself."

"Well." Says John at that juncture, folding his hands under his chin as he leads back on the office chair that he's sitting in. The office itself is a small fold, little more than a glorified filing room, the sort of thing you rent just to have an official presence. Barely room for the two chairs. "Do you want my legal answer, or my realistic answer?"

Annie chuckles as she folds her arms casually across her chest, "Let's hear em both."

"Legally speaking, Ms Mederon, I could file a small host of motions, all of which will go before the Shaman Magistrate. Unless we get say, Taylor in Henderson, which we won't because of Jurisdictional issues… you will get smiled at. AS I told another lady today, when a Shaman-Magistrate smiles at you, its bad. Because those men have hot, angry rocks shoved up their asses when they get on the bench.";
He taps the table then with a finger tip. "Angry rocks."

Annie nods and offers a wolfish grin, "Actually, I was thinking having you on retainer would sort of get you smiled at. Not me. Until this whole thing is cleared up I don't plan to officially show my face in the Ute sector.", she pauses here and absently brushes the hair from her eyes as she peers at the lawyer, "There has to be some bureaucratic benefit to having a mountain of paperwork already in the system when the shit hits the fan. I was once told by a very wise man that the fastest way to stop a bureaucrat was to toss a pile of paperwork in his path. It's even more effective if its already in triplicate with official looking seals."

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 6 (Politics) vs TN 4:
1 2 3 4 8 11 = 3 Successes

"Well. To a degree that works, but remember, the Ute Nation is founded on the ideal that Shaman knows best. Many of the Sham-Istrates don't have a legal background. All thats required is full shaman status and political connections. So it depends on the magistrate you get. Theres no system of precident or case law to be used. There's national law, that is, constitutional, then local jurisdiction law, that a Shaman Magistrate must interperate and follow, but otherwise… he's pretty free. As a note, the head Shaman Magistrate of Denver, is the CG, but he has a few assistants who actually handle the case load. Now, realistically speaking, politically speaking, Ms. Mederon… taking this to court will force an issue with the CG where he has to take a stand against the MSD. That will go your favor, in the battle. But the war will shift to Provo as the MSD leans on the Unity Council and Tribal Council to have Willy replaced. I'm no particular lover of willy, but he is a known quantity. If the MSD forces his removal… who we get will also be an MSD plant. With absolute power in Denver's ute Nation."

Annie chews on her lip as she considers the implications, finally offering a nod. "It's worth the effort I think. The MSD and those controlling it's leash needs to have something to focus on.", she pauses, "For it to work, you would not only need to deal out a political poker hand, but keep the case in the media spotlight as well. Interviews, statements on the courthouse steps, that sort of thing. Make it embarrassing that apparently the MSD doesn't even know what laws it operates under."

The man shrugs. "Look. Thats all well and good, but the people who need to see those reports, the Ute People, won't. The Ute Communications Ministry has been quietly censoring the news for months. Abajo peak was an act of magical terrorism perpetrated by the Anglos as they try and recreate the Ghost Dance for their own uses… Anglo this, anglo that, all our problems are the white mans… You know how this dance goes. If you want to go that route, as your loyal retained Lawyer, I can advise you on them, but I do not suggest them."

"Alright, I can see where you are coming from.", Annie states after a moment, "What do you suggest. My end goal here is to secure Talias freedom and do what I legally can to ensure that she will not be persecuted further. If this was your problem, and it is, where would you go from here?"

"If this was my problem." A glance at the heavilly invested credstick. "And it -totally- is…" He says quietly… "I'd…" he furrows his brow in thought, steepling his fingers. "I'd find out who the lead agent for the MSD in town is, their go-to man. Then I'd probably find something about him that was embarrassing or manufacture it to secure her release. I'd then resettle her outside the Ute Nation. Maybe I'd forgo that long term route, which could see her shipped out of the area, for a more direct… and… quiet…" eh glances back at the credstick… "Extraction."

Annie nods, "They took her for one reason and one reason only. To try and force either myself or Briannah into the open.", she pauses a moment to gather her thoughts before continuing, "Continue to explore our legal options and monitor the rumor mill for anything that might benefit the case. If you see a legal precedent or a political shift to our benefit, jump on it and stretch it to our fullest advantage.", she grins after a moment and adds, "Oh…and do you know anything about a MSD facility in Ward?"

He nods then, licking his finger tips then smoothing out his eyebrows, thinking it over. "Ward's one of those small holes in the wall. Mostly a ghost town and only barely inside the FRFZ. Used to be a place people had a summer home, or the middle class had their own 'cabin'. One of those buy an acre, build a house sorts of things. SMall, but its remoteness was a boon. Now, its home to a Forestry department station and a small Docwagon relay station. The Ministry came in about two months ago, says my guy in Dockwagon. They took over a large cabin on the overlook and have been renovating it extensively. A chopper comes in once a day with supplies, people or this or that. No road traffic."

"Thank you", Annie states as she finally decides to offer the fellow her hand, "You've been very helpful. I appreciate your candor and honesty. As I said, just monitor the situation and be prepared to leap in and do what you can as damage control. I will contact you if I find anything that might be useful to you."

He takes the hand, offering it a shake. "I'll do that. Now, go do whatever you need to do."

Annie heads on out of the office, finally deciding that she will probably need some backup on this extraction. She pulls out her pocsec and scrolls through the entries as she considers her options for this sort of operation. The scrolling pauses as she notices a name on the list, "Hmm, he may be willing to give me a hand.", the name highlights and blinks once before the call is placed to Slinger. She waits a moment to see if the actual person will answer or she gets shunted to a voice mail box.


Part 3: Meeting Slinger


Yeah, Slinger appears to be up. Though there are grunts in the background, the sound of him lifting something. "Yo!" the elf answers, before he sets something down, and tilts the phone against his face. "S'up?"

"Slinger, this is Breeze. Was wondering if you might be available to give me a hand.", Annie replies as soon as she determines that the voice likely belongs to the other elf mage, "Can you meet me somewhere and I will give you the details. Once you hear em, you can decide at that point."

Slinger considers that for a moment. "Sorta in the middle of something, but others can help with that," he agrees. He says something to a few people in the background, and then comes back on the line. "All right. Name the time and place. Just not anywhere Ute is gonna scan my SIN, you know?"

Annie opens the door on her car and slides into the comfortable leather seat, buckling herself in almost out of habit at this point. "I assume you know where Higher Arcana is? I could meet you there in twenty…we can either take a drive and talk, or talk inside."

Slinger chuckles. "Why does everybody keep calling it Higher Arcana?" he complains. "Just High Arcana. And yeah, it's not far from here." The elf nods once, glancing around, and grins. "I'm done here, anyway. Just one more load of stuff to move."
That said, he heads for the door. "The inside of the place is pretty secure, and Page is a good friend of mine."

Annie starts the car, letting the BMW warm up for a few seconds before putting it in drive. "Okay, I will be there in a few. See you inside.", the line clicks softly as she drops the connection.

High Arcana - Yard

High Arcana - Magical Goods

Slinger was waiting upstairs, actually, in the main room of the Arcana. It's somewhat cramped in here, though Slinger seems to know his way around. "Just checked the place out," he comments. He's wearing a white headband to keep his longish hair back out of his eyes. "Been working on moving. All my stuff is packed up. Gotta get out of my current place. Sucks."
The youth lights up a cigarette, then gestures toward the basement. "It's quiet down there. No windows anybody can listen on, either."

Annie walks down the stairs, taking a moment to look around before offering a nod of agreement to him. "Looks fine. Basically I was hoping I could count on you as backup. I need to do an extraction, namely my niece.", she leans against one of the walls as she continues, "The MSD captured her and are holding her at a safehouse in the city of Ward.", she chuckles, "My legal counsel advises me that a relatively quiet or even publicly embarrassing extraction would serve the best in this case. I was hoping that perhaps I could convince you to give me a hand on the op."

"MSD. That's the fraggers in Ute, right?" the elf asks, as he drags on his cancer stick. "Anything I can do to bring them down, even a little bit, I'll do it. Those are the people who're keeping the Ute people down. I'd love to see them go down a notch or two."
The youth leans against the wall behind him. "Normally I wouldn't even ask, but Page told me I have to. There any pay for this? Or is this pro bono work?" the elf asks, with a lift of his brow.
He furrows his brow, though. Ward, Ward. "Where the heck is Ward?" he asks, finally admitting ignorance.

Annie grins slightly and nods, "Ward is about fifty miles to the northwest, firmly in Ute sector. Apparently they have a quaint little cabin up there with a view. A chopper comes in on a daily basis delivering supplies and possibly personnel. If we time it right, we might even be able to use the chopper as part of our exit strategy.", she shrugs and answers the first question, "I can probably pay a bit depending on what sort of opposition we encounter along the way."

Slinger considers for a moment, thoughtfully. "Might be we can work out something in gear. For example, I find I'm desperately short of Elementals right now," he admits. "Could stand some materials if you have any handy. Stuff like that. Especially since I might need to use some on this mission." He taps his chin thoughtfully.
"Just as a note, and for the record, I got no clue how to fly a chopper."

Annie nods, "I could arrange that if you prefer. I've always been a big fan of the barter system over spending cold hard cash.", she considers, "I would have to go get them, but it's not an insurmountable problem." She grins slightly, "And I can fly the chopper if needed…we have that covered."

Slinger nods slowly. "So… what's the plan? I can get myself in stealthily, and assuming it's just /guys/ I can deal with 'em, probably. If it's spirits, I'm okay with those up until around ninth circle, where it starts to take some real effort to hit 'em. My big weakness, honestly? Drones. Rigger-drek. That kinda stuff."
The elf drags on his cigarette. "Fraggin' hate drones."

Annie chuckles, "Yeah, I am not real fond of them myself. But if they have a drone network active, I might be able to infiltrate it.", she shrugs, "My plan at this point was to infiltrate stealthy, stake out the location and check for potential pitfalls, then go in and do the standard extraction rigamarole. Exit in the chopper if it's available.", she pauses for a moment as she considers, "If you are going to do some elemental summoning, I could take that time to do a quick astral recon."

Slinger nods. "Well, it'll take me a while. And the best I can do here is Force 6. The circles aren't big enough for more than that," he admits. "I could do some of that, though. I guess the big question with the extraction is, what do we want in terms of evidence? Do we want to make it clear she got extracted? Or do we want it to look like, hell, I dunno, a freak disaster and she escaped?"

"Probably the latter would be best I think. If we can make it look like the MSD lost her due to their incompetence, that would be the best.", Annie replies.

Slinger considers that for a moment, tapping ash from his cigarette. "The trickiest part is figuring out how to arrange that," he admits. "Not to mention, stolen chopper would be tricky. But if the transponder's disabled, we could possibly make off with it and make it look like it got destroyed or somethin'. Or just lost somewhere."
He's just throwing out ideas right now. "Or… maybe she figured out how to fly it herself."

Annie shrugs, "She is a shaman after all. Perhaps she compelled the pilot to fly her out.", she grins slightly, "At the very least it will give the two of us an opportunity to vent some frustration on those MSD slots. I've been building up quite a stockpile of some serious negativity lately."

"Yeah," Slinger agrees. "So they… wait." He finally puts all the pieces together. "They kidnapped your /sister/? Was this to target you? Or was this just coincidence?"

Annie shakes her head, "I am not quite sure what they were thinking. I don't have a sister, only a brother.", she pauses a moment as she actually thinks about he family tree for a moment, "She is the great great grand-daughter of my mothers sister. So a distant cousin or niece. I'm not sure exactly what the proper genealogical terminology is.", she shrugs, "The relationship is distant, but it wasn't a secret…so a lucky decker could have dug it up."

The young elf nods. "Still. If she's an acquintance, though…" He shrugs. "These are not good people. The MSD-fraggers need to go down. Maybe if they — and the power structure behind them — were gone, the Ute people might actually have a chance. What I saw there really pissed me off."

The group splits up as Slinger heads off to High Arcana while Annie prepares to do some astral surveillance.

«OOC» Annie says, "As far as the astral recon goes, I will swing by the target location. Observe from a distance, take a note of background counts if any. Use what looks like an ample number of trees in the area to hide my astral presence amidst the biomass. I want to see what types of guards (humanoid or critter) are in the area, if any are awakened. I will go back and forth in shifts to let my essence replenish and see what kind of traffic they get, and if I can I will see what time the chopper arrives."


Part 4: Astral Recon


Annie settles down in her new la-z-boy recliner, takes a few moments to memorize the map to her destination, then puts her feet up prior to another astral jaunt. She makes sure the alarm system is activated, the depends are firmly in place, then projects to the astral plane. She lingers for a moment over her body then abruptly whizzes off toward the northeast at full astral movement, only slowing as she nears the city of Ward. She then follows the roads to within a half mile of her destination, then cuts cross country through the trees in a conscientious effort to make sure she is not observed. Once she spots the MSD Compound she settles down to observe the location from a distance for a few hours.

Whats oral sex with an 80 year old woman taste like?

Depends.

WArd is not so much a city. It's more like a sign post. A very human thing, to label an area that isn't really an area in its own right. A few abandoned houses down in the valley, a lush, overgrown forest that the Ute Nation has neither the money nor willingness to curb (Cause, you know, that would anti-nature, or some crap) back. The main road, Peak-to-Peak Highway, is well enough maintained, mostly because its the only route in to the area. It's a two lane highway, nothing major, but enough to get bigrigs down if you had to. Or, more importantly, fire engines.

Finding Ward is somewhat hard, astrally speaking. Why? Biomass. It's everwhere. The forest is alive, and it creates obfuscating astral clutter. Animals, trees, birds, bees. Well, no bees, its the middle of winter. BUT! It's very confusing.

«OOC» Vulcan says, "Gimmie an int check on finding where you like."

«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls Intelligence for "Getting where I need to go. Me3 map memorization skillz.":
2 2 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 5

«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls Intelligence for "Getting where I need to go. Me3 map memorization skillz. kp 1/25":
1 1 2 2 3 4 5 5 5 7 10 10

Finding the place is hard, but eventually annie is able to zero in on the dark gash of the of road and follow it to where other gashes in the life of the land meet in a pattern one remembers.

«OOC» Vulcan says, "How agressive are you in your investigation, astrally speaking?"

«OOC» Annie says, "Like I said, the first 4.5 hour jaunt I will observe from a half mile out. I just want to get a general impression of the site and possible patrol patterns. I can float up and linger near the top of an average height evergreen tree, hiding behind it, and watch the location from there."

«OOC» Vulcan says, "Give me some astral stealth checks"

«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls Stealth + Astral Pool: 8 for "Astral stealthin.":
1 2 2 3 3 5 5 5 7 10

«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls Stealth + Astral Pool: 8 for "Astral stealthin take 2.":
1 2 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 10

«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls Intelligence + Astral Pool: 8 for "Clingin' to the bark of a tree, watching the MSD patrol away…just Clingin' to the bark of a tree…wasting time…":
1 1 2 2 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 7 10 11 23

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 7 + Astral Pool: 5 for "Sitten in a house on the hill. Watchen for crazy old elf women. Sitten on a house in the hill. Looken out. Out. Out.":
1 1 1 1 2 3 4 4 5 5 8 8

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 for "Patrolling spirits.":
1 4 5 5 16

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 for "Patrolling spirits.":
1 2 4 4 7

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 for "Patrolling spirits.":
1 1 1 3 15

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 for "Patrolling spirits.":
1 2 5 5 11

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 for "Patrolling spirits.":
1 1 4 5 5

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 for "Patrolling spirits.":
1 2 2 3 5

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 for "Patrolling spirit 1 . Patrol 2":
1 1 3 4 4

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 for "Patrolling spirit 2 . Patrol 2":
1 1 2 2 9

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 for "Patrolling spirit 3 . Patrol 2":
3 4 4 5 7

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 for "Patrolling spirit 4 . Patrol 2":
1 3 4 7 10

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 for "Patrolling spirit 5 . Patrol 2":
1 1 3 4 5

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 for "Patrolling spirit 6 . Patrol 2":
2 2 3 5 10

«OOC» Vulcan says, "Gimmei another percpetion check."

«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls Intelligence + Astral Pool: 8 for "Watchin' what's going on.":
1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 4 4 5 5 5 5 10 10 14

The first few hours go by pretty uneventfully. A pair of bioforms drive down the road, presumably so at least, by the speed and adherence to the gash for road. They continue on down the road without stopping. The house on the other side of the valley is too far away to surviell reasonably and so it is still out of sight, hidden in the trees.

From your position, you can see another bioform come out of the forest. It leans a machine of some sort against a tree, then climbs up it. The form assumes a position in the tree, leaning in the crook of its branches, seeming to watch across the valley as well.
It seems to be watching the MSD house as well, but its sort of subjective.

«OOC» Annie says, "Did I see any of the spirit patrols?"

«OOC» Vulcan says, "Theres a lot of spirit activity, that much is clear. You will notice a regular pattern of watcher spirits, yes."

«OOC» Annie says, "Ok, if it looks like any of the spirits notice me, I will use Influence on them and send them off to patrol elsewhere. Annie handwaves, "Your patrol here turned up nothing out of the ordinary. Go over there and patrol.""

«OOC» Vulcan says, "none of them seem to take any special note of you."

Annie continues watching the area, taking note of spirit patrols, what types of spirits are involved, and whether any large airborne machines land in the vicinity of the MSD compound. She also tries to take note of any mechanical devices in the trees that might possibly be sensors or cameras.

When the new bioform climbs up the tree, she takes note of it's location and keeps an eye on it for as long as she is able. When she hits her 4.5 hour mark she heads carefully away from the area, then once she is out of the range of the patrols she rises up slightly above tree level and departs at full astral movement back to her body.

Yeah. It's kind of hard to spot mechanicals in the trees, given the shear amount of biomass and the small size of most modern cameras. The man in the tree (His aura marks him as a penis-possessing-person) seems to use a mechanical device to watch the house, holding it to his face.

«OOC» Annie says, "I will repeat the process after my 'astral travel' battery replenishes. Try for a different angle that gives me a view of the house this time, going closer if necessary. I should be able to do another round of observation since it is going to be taking slinger 18 hours to do the summoning. Longer if he takes a nap between."

«OOC» Slinger says, "Makes sense for Slinger to do two, crash for 8 hours, do another one, then be ready to go."

«OOC» Annie says, "I think my 'essence' regenerates at a point per hour after I return from an extended trip like this. So 4.5 hours out and back, nap 5-6 hours, go out for another 4.5 hours, come back and get an 8 hour nap and we both should be ready to go."

«OOC» Vulcan says, "Astral stealth again."

«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls Stealth + Astral Pool: 8 for "Astral stealthin take 1.":
2 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 8 8

«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls Stealth + Astral Pool: 8 for "Astral stealthin take 1. kp 2/25":
1 1 2 2 3 4 5 5 5 8

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 7 + Astral Pool: 5 vs TN 12 for "Do I seeeeeeeeeeee you?":
1 1 1 2 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 7 = 0 Successes

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 7 + Astral Pool: 5 vs TN 12 for "Do I seeeeeeeeeeee you? KP 1/?":
1 1 3 3 3 4 5 5 5 9 15 17 = 2 Successes

Answer: Yes. I think I do.

Annie is able to find the spot a bit easier on the second trip, zipping fairly easily to her chosen arrival point then sinking below tree level to approach the MSD compound. Once on ground level she flits like a shadow from tree to tree as she selects a new spot to observe her target. She twirls up the tree and settles in for another stakeout, only problem being no cigarettes or donuts while on the astral stakeout.

«OOC» Vulcan says, "Gimmie a perception check."

«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls Intelligence + Astral Pool: 8 for "Watchin' what's going on.":
1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 11 11 15

Thats always a problem, that sort of problem on a stakeout. Bordom sets in, the mind wanders, the bladder expands. The depends. yeah. So anyway, sitting there, you watch as a car drives up and two agents get out, one magically active, one not, dragging a man out of the car. Its' the man who had been watching the house from across the way over.

«OOC» Annie says, "About what time does this happen? IC"

«OOC» Vulcan says, "Lets see. Say He starts casting around 10AM, he finishes two at 10pm, sleeps till 6am, … that means this is about 10AM the next day"

«OOC» Annie says, "Did I ever see the chopper arrive?"

«OOC» Annie says, "First observational period was from noon the previous day to 5pm. I guess this period will be from 8:30 am until 1 pm"

«OOC» Vulcan nods. No, you did not observe the helicopter.

«OOC» Vulcan says, "So if it does come, it comes outside those observational periods."

Annie comes out of her looming sense of complacency as the car disgorges it's occupants. She perks up slightly and watches the two MSD agents and their new prisoner, but not to the extent of neglecting her own situational awareness.
The two men push the third in to the house, not being at all kind in the process. A kick to the back of the knee sends the prisoner sprawling, just before they get him inside.

«OOC» Annie says, "When they open the door, can I see the flicker of any wards inside the inner perimeter of the house?"

«OOC» Vulcan says, "Interesting question. Go for a perception check."

«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls Intelligence for "Looking for wards":
1 1 1 1 3 4 5 5 5 7 10 11

Just inside the building, there's a sense of a secondary entrance, like a foyer with a door inside the door. That, appears in the breifest moments, to be warded. Not heavilly, but enough to confuse any watcher spirits sent to find someone. Pretty standard LEO practice.

Annie continues watching until her designated shift ends, noting patrol patterns, whether the gentleman forcibly brought inside manages to exit at some point, and if any astral forms depart from the house. Once her time is over she departs in the same careful manner as the previous day.

There does not seem to be a time when the new guy comes out, no.

«OOC» Vulcan says, "Gimmie a perception check."

«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls Intelligence + Astral Pool: 8 for "Still observing.":
1 1 1 1 1 1 2 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 7 7 13 15 21

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 8 + Astral Pool: 5 for "OHHHHHHHHHWEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOOHEEEEEEEEEEE… thats supposed to be spooky music. I fail.":
2 2 3 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 8 9 10

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 8 + Astral Pool: 5 for "OHHHHHHHHHWEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOOHEEEEEEEEEEE… thats supposed to be spooky music. I fail. KP 2/?":
1 1 2 3 4 4 5 5 5 5 7 11 11

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 8 + Astral Pool: 5 for "OHHHHHHHHHWEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOOHEEEEEEEEEEE… thats supposed to be spooky music. I fail. KP 4/?":
1 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 8 11

You notice it around boulder. You are making your way across the flat irons when you realize you're being followed, Astrally speaking.

Annie continues past her place of residence without really going near it, instead making a beeline for her safehouse at the Crank, She passes through the building and then stops inside, drawing her weapon focus from it's sheath at her belt and extending it to it's full length. Then she waits. Either the tail will follow her inside, or return and send some muggle assets after her. Either way works.

So there you are. In the Crank. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. You're near the end of your astral endurance. And whoever is outside, knows that. Either your body is inside, in which case they will know you when you come out… or you are astrally inside, in which case you will grow weaker. Until you come out.

Annie grumbles to herself as her tail fails to take the bait. "Damn", she mutters to herself and then heads to the opposite side of the building, then flickers through the walls of adjacent buildings in a zigzag attempt to lose her tail. If that doesn't work then she will have to kill whomever it is…not optimal in this situation.

«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls Stealth + Astral Pool: 8 for "Trying to lose a tail.":
1 2 3 3 4 4 5 5 9 10

«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls Stealth + Astral Pool: 8 for "Trying to lose a tail. kp 4/25":
1 1 2 2 2 3 3 3 5 9

«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls Stealth + Astral Pool: 8 for "Trying to lose a tail. kp 6/25":
2 2 2 3 4 4 4 4 5 13

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 7 + Astral Pool: 5 vs TN 17 for "Loooooooooken to find an Annie! Annie are you okay, are you okay, are you okay, Annie?":
1 1 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 7 = 0 Successes

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 7 + Astral Pool: 5 vs TN 17 for "Loooooooooken to find an Annie! Annie are you okay, are you okay, are you okay, Annie? KP 4/?":
1 1 1 1 2 3 4 4 5 5 5 9 = 0 Successes

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 7 + Astral Pool: 5 vs TN 17 for "Loooooooooken to find an Annie! Annie are you okay, are you okay, are you okay, Annie? KP 6/?":
1 1 1 2 3 5 5 5 5 5 7 9 = 0 Successes

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 7 + Astral Pool: 5 vs TN 17 for "Loooooooooken to find an Annie! Annie are you okay, are you okay, are you okay, Annie? KP 9/?":
2 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 5 7 = 0 Successes

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 vs TN 17 for "Spirit 1":
1 2 3 3 5 = 0 Successes

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 vs TN 17 for "Spirit 2":
4 4 5 8 9 = 0 Successes

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 vs TN 17 for "Spirit 3":
1 1 2 3 3 = 0 Successes

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 vs TN 17 for "Spirit 4":
2 2 2 4 15 = 0 Successes

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 vs TN 17 for "Spirit 5":
2 2 5 7 9 = 0 Successes

«Auto-Judge» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 vs TN 17 for "Spirit 6":
2 2 2 9 11 = 0 Successes

Despite the survielling mages best efforts… Annie slips away in the grime and crust of the sprawl. Near the end of his own endurence now… the shaman returns to his own body.

Annie returns to her own body once she is fairly sure the tail has been lost, her own head starting to ache with the pressure of pushing her astral body to its limits. She is fairly happy to see the interior of her suite at the Medievo as she settles back into her physical anchor.

«OOC» Annie says, "Anyway. I want to contact Johnny first and see if he could arrange for smugglerish air transport for two into ute territory. We could probably do an airdrop since both slinger and I can levitate."
«OOC» Annie says, "See if he can refer me to a contact."
«Auto-Judge» Johnny (#799) has the Contact Uwe Skalvenson with the following information (only to Annie and Slinger):
Contact Name: Uwe Skalvenson
Level: 1
Type: travel agent
GM Note: Fixer: Vehicles. Sometimes, you just can't find a plane large enough and slow enough to do what you need to do. Uwe can take care of that.

«OOC» Vulcan says, "Johnny will pass on his number."
«OOC» Vulcan says, "Should be vehicles and travel, but it is what it is."
«OOC» Annie will contact Uwe then and ask for discrete passage and midair HALL (High Altitude Low Levitate) deployment of two passengers over Ute territory, preferably within 15 miles of the middle of nowhere town of Ward.
«OOC» Vulcan says, "He can arrange to shove you out the door of a charter plane in route from Colorado Springs, to Casper SIoux Nation for 3000 per person."
«OOC» Vulcan says, "It's a NAN internal flight, so it goes from PCC Sec, to ute sec, to ute nat, to sioux nat."
«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) spends 6000 nuyen for "Passage for two.".
«OOC» Vulcan says, "Speaking of which, if you want, you can purchase Uwe as a contact."
«OOC» Annie says, "Yeah, I think I will"
«OOC» Slinger could use a smuggler contact :)
«OOC» Vulcan says, "Uwe is available to both of you for 10k."
«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) spends 10000 nuyen for "Acquiring Uwe as a contact.".


Part 5: Getting Acquainted


Annie heads on over to High Arcana to meet with Slinger since the other mage is probably just finishing up his final summoning about this time.

The last circle Slinger uses is up on the roof. He finishes the elemental summoning, then leans back and lights up a cigarette, exhaling a cloud of smoke up into the air. "Damn," he murmurs, then yawns and stretches, just as the door opens. Slinger whirls around, then relaxes. He was expecting Annie. "Perfect timing," the teenager comments.

Annie offers a wry grin and nods, "I've always prided myself on that. Though..", she pauses and grimaces, "..I cut things a bit too close for comfort earlier." She takes a moment to study the newly summoned elemental and inhale the heady aromas from the summoning incense, "Is that the last one?", she inquires curiously.

Last one," Slinger agrees, and sends it off to its plane to wait until called. He extinguishes the incense carefully, carries the braziers out of the elements, his cigarette adding its own pungent aroma to the incense. A hard, slow draw, while he furrows his brow at the news. "What happened?" the youth asks, as he gestures to the door. A light sprinkling has just sprung up, and the elf steps through the door into the dry warmth of the Arcana.

Annie follows Slinger inside, talking as she walks. "Someone must have managed to spot me as I was leaving…he must've gotten very lucky. Bugger followed me astrally back to Denver.", she pauses to take a breath and brush some hair from her eyes before continuing,"I ducked into the Crank and managed to lose him in the Astral Garbage that pervades the Warrens. He was persistent though and had a swarm of spirits with him."

"Right," Slinger says, exhaling another cloud, this time of relief. He tensed when she mentioned being followed, relaxed at the news she lost them. "Did you get a chance to assense any of them? Get any details of the power level we're up against?" he wonders. "I can take sixth-circle spirits pretty easily if they don't mob me. Anything beyond eighth starts to get tricky. Magical defenses become a problem."

"I mainly only observed Watchers…nothing really notable beyond that.", Annie replies as she pats the leather case hitched to her belt, "I can usually take spirits down fairly easily so long as I don't get swarmed by groups.", she frowns slightly and adds, "I did notice something unusual though. There was a man present physically observing the MSD compound at the same time I was. Apparently he wasn't as careful though since he got caught and dragged inside by a pair of agents. I didn't see him leave."

"Only watchers?" he asks, then chuckles. "Spiritblast'll take care of those. They don't scare me — no real oomph behind them. Tissue paper. A little dangerous if they mob you, but that's all." The elf grabs an ashtray as he settles down at a table, sprawling back in the chair lazily. He's dressed in his usual T-shirt and jeans. "So that's two people what need rescuing," Slinger comments. "We're gonna need a solid plan."

"Watchers were about all I saw. Though the mage that followed me had to have some juice…he was at least smart enough not to engage me directly.", Annie replies with a soft chuckle, "I was just waiting for him to poke his head through the wall in the Crank." She chooses a seat and sinks down comfortably into it, crossing her legs and lacing her fingers behind her head, "As far as a plan…I've arranged transport with a Smuggler who is willing to push us out of the plane somewhere in Ute territory. I figure we could commandeer ground transport from there and come up on the MSD compound cross country."

"Smart. Indicates some tactical training," the youth muses. "I know Channelling now. Was kinda holding out for Invoking before I did too much with it, but that last Quest almost kicked my ass, and finding somebody who can train me in meta techiniques is tricky," the elf admits. He lights up another cigarette, thinking for a moment. "Wards aren't a problem. Managing to slip past his spirit defenses, are. If this turns into a hostage situation, it'll get bad."
Slinger considers for a moment, then adds, "You know what's crazy? How long we've both been in Denver, and how little I actually know about you. Only reputation."

«Auto-Judge» Slinger (#69) rolls 13 vs TN 13 for "Penetrating masking.":
1 2 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 8 15 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls 13 vs TN 13 for "Hail Mary…":
1 1 1 1 2 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 10 = 0 Successes
«OOC» Slinger says, "So what's Annie really look like under all that? ;)"

"Channeling has saved me on more than a few occasions. It's a very useful technique.", Annie replies and then offers a nod to the rest of your statement, "I've never really had a problem with wards either. I just hope we can get in, quietly incap the opposition and get out. I don't want a manhunt across the Ute nation with an APB flying across the wire."

Annie grins wryly and shrugs, "I've never really been all that sociable. I'm not a barfly and it's never really paid to socialize with some up and comer who might be gunning for me next week. So I kind of keep to myself. Not many people I can truly let my guard down for."

«OOC» Annie is an elf…around 90 years old…which is actually around 25 physically based on a 400 year projected elf lifespan. A little bit of cyber, a little bit of bio, lots of foci and quickened spells.
«OOC» Slinger says, "And what did I think she was before?"
«OOC» Annie says, "My most common physical mask was the elderly human Apache woman that I wore to Abejo peak. I've stopped using it lately though with the terrorist tag on it."

Slinger chuckles, sheepishly. "Guess I might be that up-and-comer," the elf remarks. "The thing is… I could use some help. The thing is… well, I'm a kid from the Warrens who was lucky enough to be Gifted with some raw-ass talent. I've worked hard to train it. I'm pretty good in a fight, I think, but lately, I'm starting to get more and more people gunning for me.
"Truth is? I'm utterly clueless when it comes to politics," Slinger admits. "All that stuff Johnny and Silk are so friggin' good at, all I can do is watch in amazement. The way they can get people to do what they want. The way they know who people are, just by meeting them. The way they can get people to cooperate with them, the intricacies of political maneuvering, all that kind of stuff. I've had little peeks into that world. But that's all."
He lights another cigarette, toys with it nervously, then glances to Annie… and blinks, as suddenly, her Masking falls away. "Did you… uh… did you do that, intentionally? Show me what you are?" he suddenly asks, a little startled. And then a grin. "You aren't nearly as old and wizened and frail as you want anybody to believe," the youth adds, with a lopsided grin.

Annie blinks at the final question and then shakes her head wryly, "No, I didn't do it on purpose. I lost a lot of my personal power and a good deal of my arcane knowledge about six years ago.", she rubs her face absently with one hand as she considers how much to tell you, "I traded it for survival against a rather nasty spirit that should not have been able to enter this world yet. I survived the battle and it was banished for a decade, perhaps more, but I was sorely wounded in the engagement. I actually am in my nineties though, the image I usually project is that of my great grandmother. It's probably what I would look like if I were born human."

Annie considers your first set of question, "I can play the politics game, and did for a lot of years in the Tir. But I got burned out on it. It's almost worse than living in the shadows. You never know if that person smiling at you is doing it because he likes you, or if he is doing it because he knows that drink you are holding has been laced with cyanide.", she laughs suddenly, "I don't miss the Tir. I doubt you would like it either since they have rather draconian anti-smoking laws in place."

Slinger nods thoughtfully. "Damn," he murmurs, shakes his head in disbelief. "I didn't think there were any elves that old," he admits. "I thought they started appearing around 2011 or so. I mean, I… well, I really am as young as I appear." The youth manages a sheepish smile, then concentrates for a moment. "There. Now you can see me as I am." His aura is rather intense, with multiple foci scattered across his young form, tattoos on his body that are actively enhancing him. A pair of foci around his neck as a pair of dice appear in the astral realm, glowing with power. And his initiate Grade shows rather clearly in th brilliance of his aura. He has some obvious cyberware and bioware as well, enough to impinge on his aura.
"I don't really want to play the game, not that much. But I need to understand it better, so I can if I have to. Not have people coming out of the woodwork with bigger and bigger guns to try to take me out."
The youth lifts a brow, and then grins sheepishly. "I know very little about the Tir. My mentor said a few things. Might be that my parents were from there. But yeah, I heard about their anti-smoking laws. Frag that. Pussies." He takes a hard drag from his cigarette, grinning, clearly relishing his cancer.

Annie nods, "Yeah, elves didn't officially start appearing until then. Unlike orks and trolls we never underwent goblinization.", she shrugs as she switches to astral vision to look you over, offering a low whistle of appreciation. "Yeah, definitely a good deal of raw talent." She watches you for a moment longer as she appreciates your raw power then switches back to full mugglevision. "They called us Spike babies. The earliest one I know of was born in the mid sixties. I was born in 1978. There were certain sites around the world that basically leaked mana in small quantities, but it was enough for some humans to give birth to us. Sedona Arizona was one of those places; it was renowned for its mystical 'vortices'. But it was enough for my mother to give birth to a baby elf."

Annie looks over at Slinger and indicates his cigarette, "I don't suppose you have more of those. I gave it up officially years ago…but still find the occasional craving when I am wreathed in smoke rings.", she pauses and adds, "But yeah…if you want to dredge my political depths, I figure I could probably let them out of the box for you. It's not a pretty world, and in a lot of ways much more dangerous than our current situation. But it always pays to have ammunition for whatever fight you find yourself in."

Slinger grins and takes the pack — a Native American brand, unfiltered — and sets it on the table along with his lighter. "People say I oughtta give it up. My answer? I tell people, frankly, that I hope cigarettes do kill me. 'Cause that will mean I lived for a hundred years or more and nobody managed to take me out. If I live long enough to worry about lung cancer, I consider that a victory." He leans back in his seat thoughtfully, listening.
"The thing is… I've tried hard to do good in this world. Hell, people think I'm a wuss because I hate killing people when I don't have to." He considers. "But the trouble is, when something like this happens. I can save a few people, here and there, from the Ute and their thrice-damned MSDers. But I feel so damned powerless. I can't take on a government, not directly. I can't just zot a power structure. That takes a less direct approach than I'm used to using. But if I could, I'd take out every one of the fraggers, watch their little Ministry crash and burn. Maybe then their people would have a chance."

Annie picks up the pack and taps out one of the cigarettes, placing it between her lips while she stokes up the lighter and then puffs the cigarette to its full carcinogenic glory. "The problem is, to slaughter another saying, that Politics abhors a vacuum. If we take down the Ute leadership, then we will have someone else…perhaps the Aztlaners or JPC…move in to fill the gap. I don't think I would like either of those in charge any more than I like the MSD and it's fascist tactics.", she leans back in her chair and puffs quietly on the cigarette for a moment before adding, "They are forcing me into the political game with that bullshit terrorist rap. If I have my way I will take all the bastards down…but not until I figure out a way and warn a less objectionable group of what is coming down the pike."

"I thought of that, too," Slinger admits. "I mean, what I'd love to see is the Native peoples there actually rise up, take control of their traditions, and demand better than how they've been treated. But that's more realistic. I've got no love for Aztlan. It's kinda personal — they did some pretty nasty things that hurt somebody very close to me," Slinger murmurs, lets out a slow breath.
"And see, that's the problem. Not just destroying things. I'm decent at that, if I have to be. I try to be careful what I take out, but even assuming I could take them down, it has to be done in such a way to make sure something better comes along in its place. And that's where I'm lost."

About this time as the two discuss all this about fighting the powers that be, Orpheus waltzes into the place. Annie will note that he is a little young looking. Shortish.. Has cute and note entirely 'handsome' features. He's an elf though(lots of us around today apparently). His garb is that of standard gang trash.. Gray hoodie.. Has a few piercings.. Tattered pants with chains. That sort of thing.
"Oh c'mon," Orpheus says, with an hispanic accent.. "Not this changing the world stuff," he complains, and quickly meanders through the maze of clutter that is High Arcana and slides into where Slinger is. "'Course, you know I'd love to fuck up Aztech a little, though.. So.. maybe not such a bad idea. But how would you ever take something down that big, huh?" Orpheus smirks, then lightly punches Slinger in the arm. "Loco… Who is she?" he asks. Unfortunately, Orpheus' etiquette skills prevented him the luxury of introducing himself to Annie properly.

Slinger lets Annie introduce herself, but gives Orpheus a warm, loving smile. It's hard to miss the way the young elf just melts when Orpheus arrives. Of course, he stopped talking when the front door chimed, but continued, relaxing, once he recognized who it was. "Hey, you." To Annie, he says, "I trust Orpheus here with my life. And then some. He can be trusted with the discussion, with anything you'd say to me." A slow drag on his cigarette as he punches the other boy's shoulder, then pulls him into a rough, lopsided hug.

"Thats the rub. It's like playing chess blindfolded and needing to know your opponent so well that you can guess what his next fifteen moves will be.", Annie replies before turning to look at the somewhat colorful individual that just swung by the table. "You can call me Breeze. It's probably the most common of the names I prefer.", she states in introduction after Slinger vouches for him.

Annie chuckles, "Well, it does not sound like an Azzie fan club in here. They aren't necessarily my favorites either, but they still consider good chunks of North America to still belong to them. Civil unrest and anarchy in Ute space would probably be to their liking."

ORpheus? Yeah, the mention of Azzy brings no love from the kid, which is somewhat ironic considering he himself seemed to be of Spanish descent. In any case… "Sup, Breeze. Cool name.. I'm Orpheus. Wow, I'm kinda surprised mano, I didn't think you had any female friends!" ORph then plucks the cigarette out of Slinger's mouth and takes a drag off of it for himself, before bellowing out a few puffs of it.. Then kindly returns the cig. "Azzie? Yeah, they can FUCK themselves," he says quite vehemently. "Fuck them.. and their mothers."

From his accent, his appearance, Orpheus definitely looks Aztlan. And just as clearly, Slinger adores him. He rocks his seat back, thoughtfully, while he regards Annie's comment. "Exactly. And the trouble is, I know what I'd do. I know how to handle people in the streets. But when it comes to corporate machinations, political maneuverings, I got no clue."
Slinger chuckles, but he nods agreement. "Lotsa really evil fraggin' people in the world. I'd love to change that if I could."

From his accent, his appearance, Orpheus definitely looks Aztlan. And just as clearly, Slinger adores him. Slinger rocks his seat back, thoughtfully, while he regards Annie's comment. "Exactly. And the trouble is, I know what I'd do. I know how to handle people in the streets. But when it comes to corporate machinations, political maneuverings, I got no clue."
Slinger chuckles, but he nods agreement. "Lotsa really evil fraggin' people in the world. I'd love to change that if I could."

Annie grins, "The problem is that the bad guys breed like rabbits. The good guys are too busy fighting them, or have other proclivities that prevent the good guy genes from hitting the racial kiddie pool." She takes a moment to see if she still possesses the smoke ring 'knack' and seems somewhat pleased to see a couple spiralling upward to join the overhead haze. "The Aztlaners hate me. The Yaks hate me. The Triads hate me. It gets a bit discouraging at times. I've just been fortunate that so far all the assassins liked to carry cash and some cool toys. It's about all that keeps my pocketbook in the black."

Orpheus wonders at hearing this from Slinger. Then, in answer to Annie, he sort of summates what she says into his own sort of Orpheus interpretation. "You can always blow shit up and fuck some dudes up, but you can't change who people truly are. Even if they are assholes." Then, he shoots Annie a look. "Oh, cool. That sounds AWESOME," he proclaims. That is, her fighting off loads of badguys and stuff. "You must be pretty badass if you can do all that. I guess I see why Slinger hangs around you.. Right?" He then looks at Slinger a moment, prodding him gingerly.. "Unless you are goin' straight on me.." Narrows eyes comically.

Slinger nods, rocking his chair a little further back, precariously. It's fortunate he's not very heavy. He'd be hard on chairs, otherwise. "Right. Like me. Prolly not gonna spread my genes," he admits, with a sheepish glance in Orpheus's direction. "Thing is, though, that the way the whole system, the whole of society is set up, evil is rewarded, good is punished. When we have a setup where things are like that, why should we be surprised when evil tends to float to the top?"
He draws on his cigarette which, thanks to Orpheus, is nearly finished. "Didn't you bring your own?" he teases the other boy, as he reaches for another one. "Anyway, what I meant was, I'm happy to help you rescue… what was her name?" he asks. "Because it's a little /something/ I can do. I wish I could rescue all of them."
He laughs, giving Orpheus a tender, affectionate look. "With you around? I wouldn't dare," he replies, teasingly. "And yeah, she's pretty badass. Orpheus," he tells Annie, "is pretty sneaky."

"Talia", Annie replies with a chuckle added for the banter between the two boys, "She's my..", she pauses a moment as she does some mental calculations, "…I believe she would be my great-great-great grand niece…or something along those lines. Genealogy has never been my strong point. I am just hoping that she is there and still in one piece for us to rescue."

The elfin youth nods. "I'm still perplexed by that, so I'm just going to remember 'niece', if that's all right." He flicks ash into the ashtray. "That would be good. Her, and that other guy. Because whoever he is, he's somebody with some balls trying to do something, and that sort of person needs to be free." There's a passion there, then a quirk of his lips as he shoots a grin to Orpheus. "I wonder if he's cute."

Orpheus becomes curious now.. "Oh, hey.. Is this some kinda thing you are going on?" Orpheus wonders, draping himself over Slinger in a manner that might be vaguely distracting. "Talia, what.. You ganna go find this person or something? She get lost, or.. what? Not the Azzies was it?!??! Fuckin' assholes, don't they ever lay off…"
Ah, yes.. Smokes.. Orpheus did bring those. He just liked nabbing Slinger's once in a while as a show of affection. He brings out his own pack now though and joins the mirky haze of the other two with his own cancer-inducing contrails of smoke. Then, in answer to Slinger, he says matter-of-factly. "Mebbe, but not as hot as you of course." Puff, exhale.. Grin.

"The Ute," Slinger mentions to Orpheus. He watches his young friend light up one of his Guererras, the acrid, rough scent of those mixing with the slightly richer smoke from the tobacco Slinger enjoys. "They're self-destructing. Their government has hit rock-bottom, and they're lashing out at their own people — and anybody they can get their hands on who would dare accuse them of doing anything wrong." He considers for a moment. "If there was time, I'd see about getting him a fake Ute SIN. He might be able to pass, if he spoke the language," he comments to Annie.

Annie nods, "Yeah, no idea who he was or if he was cute. About all I could tell from the astral and my distance was that he had a definite male feel to his aura.", she shrugs, "But if the MSD wants him in custody, then I am all for denying them. Besides…we are going in anyway, may as well make it a double rescue.", she looks over at Orpheus and offers a nod, "Not the Azzies. More like the Ute Secret Gestapo and resident racial purists. They detained Talia because they think that by holding her, they can force me to come out in the open where they can put a potato sack over my head and drag me off for some good old fashioned torture."

"Remember when I disappeared about a week and a half back?" Slinger asks Orpheus. "Went with this lady into Ute territory. Long, convoluted situation, but we were meant to bear witness to something. Can't go into details — can I?" He asks that of Annie. "But suffice it to say, the Ute think we caused it. Either that, or they just don't want anybody knowing about it. Either way, they want our heads on platters, and Breeze here is unfortunate enough to have had somebody within their reach."

Orpheus considers thoughtfully.. For some reason his concentration looked like this vaguely pissed off moody look on his features. Maybe because his brow has a little bit of an inward curve over his eyes, giving him this intense look often.. "Huh. Ute.. I did some shit in Ute territory a few times.. That is some serious shit though." Then, in a very rare display, Orpheus offers Annie his sypamthy. "I'm sorry about your blood.. That is fucked up. I've never lost a sibling as far as I know, but I know the pain of being seperated from loved ones.. an' it fucking blows."
Orph looks to Slinger then.. "Is this something I should be stayin' out of, or do you need me to come squeeze some fuckers balls a little? I mean, if you are having trouble with this… I'll leave that to you."

Annie shrugs, "I don't think secrecy matters much at this point. We were called upon to bear witness to an event. We aren't very good witnesses if we don't tell anyone.", she pauses to check her chronometer, "I probably need to be going. I need to pay a guy for some plane tickets. I can meet you back here in about an hour or so. We can finalize our insertion plans and wrap up any last minute legwork."

Slinger nods once, firmly. "Do we need Orpheus on this? Or is he our backup if something goes desperately wrong?" he asks quietly. At the mention she is departing, he nods, and grins. "I'm sure we'll be able to keep ourselves… entertained."

Annie stands up from her chair, puffs the final bit of life from the cigarette before flicking it to the ashtray. "I can ask my guy about another spot on the plane. But from the way he was talking it's going to be a tight fit just for the two of us.", she shrugs, "But it's definitely handy having someone who would likely go postal on their asses if we were captured. I always like to have an ace up my sleeve."

Slinger nods once, firmly. "He and Page would come after us if they had to. They just need to know where we're going." He drags on his fresh cigarette, giving Orpheus a loving look that hints that the two of them will keep themselves occupied before Annie returns. He hesitates, thinking for a moment, then tosses her a credstick. "Go ahead and take my share of it off of there. It's the least I can do."

Orpheus grins, showing off his nice white teeth. "I dunno what a postal is but I will shove it up their asses if they touch Slinger," the youth proclaims, and then protectively hugs the mage. "I take that shit seriously.. an' that extends to his friends too. "They would sorely regret if they fucked with you.. I'd sacrifice the rest of my life to making sure of that."

Slinger can't help but chuckle as the strong Hispanic boy hugs him. He returns the hug fiercely, possessively. "So glad to have you, love," he murmurs. Sickeningly sweet. Even more so if they weren't dangerous Shadowrunners, criminals. But even criminals love people.
"Be careful," Slinger advises. Unnecessarily. But there is still that a hint of worry in his voice as Annie departs. "They saw your aura, might have Watchers out lookin' for you."

Annie catches the tossed credstick reflexively, "You don't need to do that. You are helping me out after all, and in a big way.", she shrugs, "I don't mind if you tell them where we will be. Like I said, I am more than happy to go into this knowing we have some potential reinforcements chomping at the bit and waiting in the wings. And yeah…the last thing I need is for some random watcher to track me down to my favorite hideaway."


Part 6: Xenon


«OOC» Vulcan says, "Gimmie an int check, +1/2 of a directly applicable knwoskill"
«OOC» Annie says, "Out of curiousity, how do border checkpoints deal with drone vehicles? Such as 18 wheelers and the like?"
«Auto-Judge» Slinger (#69) rolls Intelligence:
1 1 2 2 2 2 3 4 5 5
«OOC» Annie says, "Can Uwe arrange to get me a rental vehicle parked somewhere near the town and left for me? A sec model bulldog or something along those lines with rigger adaption."
«OOC» Vulcan says, "You've used Uwe for the insertion. No doubling up."
«OOC» Annie says, "See if Xenon or my mechanic Otto can do a friend of a friend thing."
«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) has the Contact Xenon with the following information:


Contact Name: Xenon
Level: 1
Type: unknown
GM Note: Xenon is a rigger/driver who runs racing games all across North America. A former smuggler


«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls Etiquette:
2 2 4 11
«OOC» Annie actually improved that :)

Xenon answers the phone. "Eeeeeeey! Abuela! Whats up with the nana with the armored wheel chair?"

Annie chuckles, "The usual. Looking forward to getting into some more races after I buff up a few more of the Beasts systems.", she pauses and adds, "I was wondering if you could help me out. I need to find someone in the Ute sector north and west of Denver that can get me a clean rigger enabled vehicle for a few days usage. Possibly deliver it to a drop off point for me to pick up.", she chuckles, "Thought you might know someone over there and could hook me up."

"Ute Nation huh. Now, normally, I'd say no way. Indian Town don't have no love for the chicanos. Not normally. But recently, travels been easier for me than my Pueblo compatriots, ya know? Fucken weird."

Annie chuckles, "Well, the racing circuit is a popular thing among the downtrodden. It gets em outdoors and rooting for the underdog.", she laughs, "Like a ninety year old granny in a snowbird mobile."

"Something like that. Now, I can get you a car. Sure. But rigger adapted? No way. That shits expensive. You want a throw away, you take a chop-shop reject."

Slinger lights up another cigarette, considering things. Hopefully, he has at least a vaguely drawn layout of the place, which would help him visualize things, maybe figure out what we're walking into. He studies that on his pocket secretary, frowning at the screen.

Annie chuckles, "A girl can dream. But I will take what I can get at this point.", she pauses a sec and reads off some GPS coordinates, "I will be in this area…getting a pick up point as close to there as possible would be worth a bonus to me."

"I can put you a… Ford Ridgeback on the P-2-P…"

"That would be great. How much and what account can I toss it in?", Annie replies a moment later.

"1500. 1000 for the truck, 500 for the boys placing it. The usual accounts are fine. Don't be stupid up there. I hear bad things about Ward."

Annie taps a few keys to authorize a blind deposit from one of her alternate sins, "There ya go. I appreciate the assist.", she pauses a moment and adds, "Got any more races going down in the Denver area anytime soon?"

«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) spends 3000 nuyen for "Vehicle, delivery and promised bonus.".

"Maybe. Been waiting for this crap with the Ute to blow over. Was gonna do a race out in the Mojave, but between the Desert Rats, the Apache and the recent uptick in spirits there… its just too unstable."

Annie chuckles, "Well, you know how to reach me if you do. Thinking about getting some sponsors for the next race, but I will need a little lead time."

"Gotcha. Well, I'm out." *Disconnect

Slinger waits for Annie to get off the phone, then glances back at her. "Thought. What about using a jammer? About the worst thing that could happen is these guys calling for help." The elf taps his chin thoughtfully. "Also would make it hard for a rigger to remote control stuff against us, or get intel. Wish jammers weren't so damned broad-spectrum, but." The elf thinks for a few moments, glances over to Annie for her thoughts. "Bad news is that we wouldn't be able to talk to each other. That could make it harder. We could use Watcher spirits, though…"

Annie puts away her phone and turns toward Slinger, "Well, we've got some transport being delivered near our LZ.", she exhales slowly as she considers her options, "This could be touchy. Normally I might go in, locate a local couple in the area and assume their identities via physical mask and keep them on ice for a few days. Unfortunately I think any strangers in that area are going to get a thorough checking over."


Part 7: Ritual Sorcery


"As far as the communications go. I could probably do a ritual Mindnet spell and then use the ritual to sustain it for a few days.", she replies to Slinger and then adds, "Unfortunately I don't have any sustaining foci for that spell yet."

Slinger's eyes widen. "I had never actually thought of that," he admits. "That's a fraggin' good idea." He considers for a moment, thoughtfully. "If they got a mage, though, he might be suspicious, might scope auras, and that'd give us away in a heartbeat." He tilts his head, looking rather puzzled. "Ritual huh?" he asks, sounding slightly bewildered. "You can do that?"
He purses his lips. "Only problem we have is if I have to slip through a ward. Couldn't conceal the spell if it's not one of mine, I don't think.

Annie chews on her lip as she considers, "Actually, I would be masking the spell since I would be the ritual leader. If you crossed a magical barrier it would simply sever the connection.", she shrugs, "I've tried it before and it didn't alert the wards creator, just cut off the member who went inside from the comm net."

Slinger nods thoughtfully. "Right," Slinger says, then gestures gently. "I'll let you lead it, since you have prior experience with the spell." The elf thinks for a moment. "Do we have time?"

Annie nods to Slinger, "Not a problem. Unless you have the spell though, you can't join in unfortunately."

"Which spell?" Slinger asks. "Sounds a lot like Mindlink, which I have. Though not at a high rating," he remarks. He reaches for another cigarette as he phone rings, letting her take the call.

Annie nods to Slinger, "Very similar to Mindlink, except extended range and for a group."

Slinger considers the question, then shakes his head. "No time to learn the spell," he decides. "We need to go in pretty fast, before they have time to move her. Or deal with the other guy present. Unless," Slinger says with a small smile, "I misunderstand the situation?"

Annie shakes her head, "No, you are right…time is pretty critical. But I think I can toss off the ritual sorcery for this spell before we head in."

Slinger rocks his chair back down onto all four legs and stands. "Let me know what you need. I'll pay Page back for whatever it is," the elf asserts. He grins — and it's clear there's a part of him that is interested in watching this, and will be disappointed if it is not permitted.

Annie heads on up to the air circle, toting her bag of ritual sorcery materials.

Slinger follows as well, going up the steps two at a time, with a hint of excitement in his step. Then he settles down, out of the way, to watch with a cigarette and a drink.

Annie exits out onto the roof, inhaling the cold night air with pleasure. "It's a nice night for some magic", she comments idly as she begins setting up the appropriately colored candles at five equidistant points around the perimeter of the circle. She steps into the middle of the circle and begins emptying the first of six packets of ritually prepared herbs into the center brazier.

Once the herbs are all in the brazier she lights it with an old fashioned wooden match stick. She turns and faces the east, raising her silver-bladed athame toward the crescent moon and mentally activates the circle.

Slinger cannot help but agree, taking in the air. It's actually somewhat warm tonight — well, warm/er/ than it has been, which is a welcome change. The youth glances off southward, inhaling a slow draw from his cigarette as he settles down. "Won't distract you if I watch, will it?" Slinger asks. He's in the presence of someone who, despite not having quite the raw /power/ Slinger has, is in possession of vastly more experience.

Annie offers a grin to Slinger at the younger elfs question and nods to indicate permission to stay. As the circle springs to life, the elf mage calls up some elementals to astral presence and their hulking forms take position at their corresponding elemental directions on the perimeter of the circle. "Guardians of the Watchtowers", she begins slowly, "Watch over and guard me during this rite."

She turns to face the brazier and nicks her finger with the point of the athame, letting three drops fall into the still burning cauldron…symbollically pooling her magic in preparation for the oncoming rite. She gestures for Slinger to step to the position at the topmost point of the 'pentacle' formed by the candle placement…incidentally the only spot not occupied by the hazy outline of an astral elemental.

Slinger exhales a cloud of smoke, and holds onto the cigarette as he moves to the point of the pentacle. He's surpsied to be included, but pleasantly so. His cigarette smoulders — tobacco is part of Native American rituals, is it not? And Slinger's cigarettes are little more than paper and leaf, with natural flavors. The Sioux make good cancer.

Once there, the elf watches attentively, listening, feeling the sense of power that comes from the ritual itself. An athame. He needs to get one of those. All the cool mages have them!

«Plot» Annie forms the astral pool. Sorcery (10) + 10 (spell pool) + 6 (power focus) - 1 (air spell) + 6 (force 6 air elemental aid sorcery) = 31 dice. I allocate 15 of the dice toward the sending test vs tn 6. Base time for the sending test is 6 hours divided by successes. Then I do the spell casting test vs a tn of 4 using 6 dice centering for successes. The remaining 10 dice will be delegated to autosustain the spell for 130 hours. Then I resist a drain of 4D.
«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls 15 vs TN 6 for "Sending Test.":
1 2 2 2 2 3 4 4 5 5 7 9 10 10 15 = 5 Successes
«Plot» Annie says, "A bit over an hour for the ritual."
«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls Centering vs TN 4 for "Centering for successes @ 2:1 ratio":
1 3 3 4 7 10 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls 6 vs TN 4 for "Sorcery Test. F6 Mindlink.":
1 2 2 4 4 5 = 3 Successes
«Game» Backup to offline storage commencing. Game may freeze for a bit…
«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) rolls Willpower + Sorcery Pool: 2 vs TN 4 for "Resist 4D Drain. Need 6 Successes with Trauma Damper.":
1 1 1 1 2 2 2 4 5 8 10 11 11 15 = 7 Successes
«OOC» Annie says, "Ok…spell will run on it's own for the next 130 hours."
«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) uses 6 of item 4: Ritual Materials - Sorcery from Magical Equipment (#1681).
«Auto-Judge» Annie (#5398) uses 1 of item 3: Air Elemental-Force 6 (Windy) from Elementals (#1964).

As Annie continues the ritual, she turns toward the east and gestures toward the Elemental present at that point. Windy materializes, sending gusts of wind swirling about the rooftop, mingling with the smoke issuing from the brazier. She swings her athame around and points toward Slinger and a tendril of smoke lassoes out and encompasses the younger elf, wrapping him in it's spark-filled embrace. The other end of the smoky lasso repeats the process as it symbolically binds the two magi together…their unguarded thoughts springing wholesale into the others mind.
Slinger watches the tendrils, mesmerized, enthralled. Enchanted would be a good word for it. One part of Slinger's charm comes from a certain childlike innocence within him that has lasted despite eight years in the shadows, and it is a part of him that has never truly been eroded by cynicism. Instead, he's grinning, even as the smoke cloud mingles with the smoke from his own cigarette, in its own way part of his aura, his self.
And then, his voice is inside Annie's mind. ~Is this thing on?~ the elf sends, jokingly.

All told the meat of the ritual occupies a bit over an hour to complete, with Annie spending a good deal of that time softly chanting in Sperethiel and directing the power pooled by the magic with the point of her silver-bladed athame. «I believe it is», she murmurs into Slingers head.

Finally the ritual ends and the Earth Mage pools the remainder of the gathered spell energy into the astral representation of the blazing brazier. This magic acts as a battery, sustaining the spell without needing further input from the mage herself. Once this is done she turns in a circle, laughing ebulliently as she sweeps her blade in a circle, mimicked by a final gust of wind that whirls about like a cyclone as it scatters cherry red sparks along the rooftop and extinguishes the candles.

Annie sheathes the blade at her belt and offers a bow to her Elementals as she dismisses them, "My thanks brothers for guarding and observing my rite. Return to your fair and lovely realms until I call on you again." The elementals fade from view as they return to the metaplanes.

"That's really cool," Slinger effuses, nodding once. He rubs his hands together. "All right. Let me pack up my gear, and we can head to the pickup point. When is our flight leaving?" he wonders, considering whether he has time for a shower, or to grab some food.

«OOC» Annie will gather a minimal amount of gear, take a nap if there is some time, then head off to meet the flight.
«OOC» Slinger says, "Slinger will be going in most of his gear, actually."
«OOC» Slinger says, "Including the armor."
«OOC» Annie says, "Anyway…that's my plan. We can fast forward to the flight if you want."


Part 8: Getting There is Half the Fun!


Slinger doesn't take all that long to pack his gear up. He has his armor, the backpack, his foci — which just go on his body — and a few other small items. All of those tend to reside in his vehicle. The youth also packs extra smokes, just in case. Once that's done, he nods to Annie. "All set," he says, loading the items into the back of her vehicle, the strapping himself in, ready to go. He had a brief nap, enough to prepare himself, and spends the time travelling to the pickup point studying the maps of the area, the layout, anything he can get his hands on.

Annie takes a minimal kit with her as well, driving the distance to meet the flight in her BMW. Once they arrive, she helps unload the vehicle and then sends it on it's way back home. Now the fun begins.

Slinger transfers his belongings to whatever we're flying on, and checks the ETA. He'll put on his armor on the way, and get fully suited up and kitted out, while we are en route to our destination. Which of course means his belongings have to qualify as carry-on. The armor is the only really heavy, bulky thing.

The airfield. It's only an airfield because, its literally in a field. And air is present. The chopper, a big old Northrop S240L commuter helicopter. It's sitting in the vacant lot on the outskirts of town, a grizzeled old man currently urinating on the left rear wheel cowling.

Annie offers a nod of greeting to the Pilot, "Hello. Appreciate you letting us hitch a ride.", she waits patiently to be invited aboard…knowing there are a few rules and protocols to observe on this sort of thing, "Hopefully we aren't taking you too far out of your way."

He turns, his 'crazy eye' popping out slightly, his hands still on his penis as he does so. Urine splashes outward in an arc, then steadys as he continues to releave himself. "Err… AHHHHGsnnnng… DONT SNEAK… uh… UP ON ME OOHAAAAH when you know…" His voice modulates with a somewhat frenetic quality. "I'M PISSEN!"

Slinger stands with Annie. Luckily, it's starting to warm up from the previous winter's bitter, biting cold. A little, at least. Seeing the guy urinate on the cowling tells Slinger three things. First, the aircraft either lacks a bathroom, or it doesn't work. Second, either this guy doesn't stand on decorum, or he's drunk. And third… the guy doesn't take a lot of pride in his aircraft.
Either way, Slinger carefully assenses the pilot, offering only a friendly smile in response. He's wearing his Physical Mask spell as he approaches.

Annie steps back, attempting to avoid any errant 'spray'. "Not a problem", she replies after a moment, "Whenever you are ready to get underway, let us know."

Flightline turns back to the cowling, urinating on it some more. "Oosnnnrck. IT FROze up over THE ROCKIES! gotta Ooorrrrraaaahh… thaw it!"

He zips up, hitching his pants then climbs up on to the outrigger wheel-covering, sort of like a fender for a helicopter. He gestures to the pair of em. "Well, all aboard!"

Slinger climbs on board the aircraft, keeping his gear close, and minds where he steps. Afraid, perhaps, of what he will be stepping in, once he gets inside. He belts himself in, and virtually clings to his belongings. ~I have a bad feeling about this,~ the elf murmurs, calmly, but clearly worried.

Annie climbs aboard, tucking her backpack securely under her seat before strapping herself in. She chuckles softly to herself, projecting a few thoughts mentally toward Slinger. ~Don't worry about it. Some of the best Riggers are socially inept hermits.~

~Socially inept, I can handle,~ the elf sends over the link. ~The state of repair is what worries me.~ He will wait until the vehicle is airborne before reaching for his cancer sticks. That should be safer. Marginally.

Riggers, like Deckers, tend to be VERY odd neurologically. A lot of their brain has been replaced. Flightline pauses in the aisle between the seats, looking back to Slinger and Annie…

Slinger smiles. "Everything good?" the elf asks, curiously. Mages are sometimes weird neurologically, themselves. All that mojo flowing through their neurons.

Annie remains quiet, mostly because she is a Rigger and a Mage…so she has a double-dipping serving of oddity. She makes herself comfortable, planning on a brief nap prior to the drop.

And then, he launches in to his shpeel, in perfect, understandable, queens english…

"Hello, and welcome to FLIGHTLINE Flight 0069 from here to about the middle of nowhere. If you're going to be kicked out of an aircraft at 30 thousand feet, you're in the right place. If you're not in to that, this is going to be a really short evening."

"We'd like to tell you now about some important safety features of this aircraft. The most important safety feature we have aboard this Aircraft is…The Pilot! Please look at me now."

"There are 3 exits aboard this aircraft: One at the front, where you came in, one there on the other side of the aircraft near the back, and one out the Aircraft's rear end. Thats the one I'm being paid to shove you out of."

"If you're seated in one of the exit rows, please do not store your bags by your feet. That would be a really bad idea. Please take a moment and look around and find the nearest exit. Count the rows of seats between you and the exit. In the event that the need arises to find one, trust me, you'll be glad you did."

"We have pretty blinking lights on the floor that will blink in the direction of the exits. White ones along the normal rows, and pretty red ones at the exit rows."

"In the event of a loss of cabin pressure these baggy things will drop down over your head. You stick it over your nose and mouth like the flight attendant is doing now. The bag won't inflate, but there's oxygen there, promise. If you are sitting next to a small child, or someone who is acting like a small child, please do us all a favor and put on your mask first. If you are traveling with two or more children, please take a moment now to decide which one is your favorite. Help that one first, and then work your way down. All children will be thrown out with you."

"In the seat pocket in front of you is a pamphlet about the safety features of this Aircraft. I usually use it as a fan when I'm having my own personal summer. It makes a very good fan. It also has pretty pictures. lease take it out and play with it now."

"Please take a moment now to make sure your seat belts are fastened low and tight about your waist. To fasten the belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle. To release, it's a pulley thing — not a pushy thing like your car because you're in a big fucken helicopter — HELLOOO!!"

There is no smoking in the cabin on this flight. There is also no smoking in the lavatories. If we see smoke coming from the lavatories, we will assume you are on fire and put you out. This is a free service we provide. There are two smoking sections on this flight, one outside each wing exit.

We do have a movie in the smoking sections tonight…hold on, let me check what it is…Oh here it is; the movie tonight is 'Gone with the Wind.'"

"In a moment we will be turning off the cabin lights, and it's going to get really dark, really fast. If you're afraid of the dark, now would be a good time to reach up and press the yellow button. The yellow button turns on your reading light. Please don't press the orange button unless you absolutely have to. The orange button is your seat ejection button."

"We're glad to have you with us on board this flight. Thank you for choosing FLIGHTLINE, and giving us your business and your money. If there's anything we can do to make you more comfortable, please don't hesitate to ask, but I will ignore you."

"If you all weren't strapped down you would have given me a standing ovation, wouldn't you?"

Slinger can't help but laugh — and at the end, he does indeed give the pilot a sitting ovation, at least. Even if he does grumble about the no-smoking rule. Bah! He may do it anyway, but that might involve being shoved out of the aircraft prematurely. And that's never fun.
Even so, yeah, he'll look for the safety instructions, and count rows, and all that sort of thing. Never hurts to be a little safer.

"Definitely.", Annie responds to the riggers final question with a grin of her own, "Sounds like you have offered that speech a time or two."

He bows, then shrugs. "I just DONT LIKE.. err… ahhhhhh KIDS!" He says, then turns for the cockpit. "Siddown'an'shuddup!"

Annie shuts up, then leans back in her seat and closes her eyes for a brief nap enroute.

Slinger makes sure to find out how long until we get pushed out of the plane. About ten minutes ahead of that time is when he'll suit up, unbinding his equipment, and start powering up his spells. In the meantime, he sits in the darkness, thinking, and worrying.

Now, assuming one does that… The flight progresses flawlessly. Theres no problem. The pilot comes on and says that in deference to your PITIFUL MEAT BODIES MADE OF MEAT AND THUSLY, FRAGILE LIKE MEAT, he will bring the altitude down to 10,000 feet. Jumping out at cruise altitude woudl result in an unconscious runner in a few moments as Oxygen at cruise altitude is just not exactly -plentiful-.

Slinger grins and shakes his head. "No biggie. We can handle it. But it tends to be /cold/ up there!" he calls toward the front. Once he hears that, though, Slinger unbelts himself, and starts putting on his armor, working quickly to get suited up. That done, he starts casting spels, one by one, activating his foci in sequence.

Annie begins her spell casting as well when the pilot gives the pre-jump warning. "I just hope we don't hit a mana ebb on the way down.", she murmurs to herself, "That could suck."

Slinger chuckles. "Yeah, it would," he agrees. "But those are, thankfully, pretty damned rare." Once it's all done, he straps on his backpack with all his gear, and exhales slowly. "We could grab a parachute if it'd make you feel better."

Ten thousand feet. Three thousand meters and some change. Enough that Slinger's ears are going to pop — or would, if he didn't have his armor sealed against that and pressurized. The elf checks everything, then glances back to Annie, to confirm she's ready, before giving the signal for the hatch to open.
And once it does, he takes a running jump, making sure to steer clear of the rotors, his Levitate spell taking over to carry him away from the aircraft.

The interior of the craft goes RED about 45 minutes in to the flight. The rear hatch cracks open and suddenly, the …

Whoosh! Jumping out of the helicopter! Buffeted by rotor downwash and now affected by Gravity! It's sort of weird. There is exactly one source of light this high up, a mountain fog obscuring the ground below.

The rapidly retreating helicopter, soaring away at a pace faster than you can hope to catch. You're on your own now.

Annie leaps out of the chopper, splaying her arms and legs for a moment while she gathers her bearings, then tucks and dives toward the ground. She leaves the effects of the Levitate off until her rangefinder indicates that it is 'now or never', then applies the brakes slightly and takes control of the descent as she angles toward the location she gave for the vehicle to be parked.

Slinger, as soon as he sees Annie do that, reduces the effect of his own Levitate spell — and feels himself falling toward the ground on a semiballistic arc. It's scary, actually, and he has no rangefinder — so he cuts short his fall just as he starts to see trees approaching, having to use astral sight, as best he can, to orient himself in the darkness and fog. The direction he is going must be 'down', but he stops well short of the ground, trying his best to stay with Annie. Losing her would be bad, as well.

And within a few seconds, Slinger's fall slows, just as he's about to enter the trees below. ~Where are you?~ he asks Annie, having lost track over her to a degree in the fall, and the darkness, and the fog.~

~Over here!~, Annie replies mentally…though it really does not do much good in all the dark and fog. Finally she sighs inwardly and pops off a quick Detect Individual spell to locate Slinger in the darkness.

The night air is bitingly cold, more than a little below freezing at this altitude. Only the moist warm air from over the rockies keeps this fog from turning directly to frost on the ground, but its only barely. A thin layer of frost is starting to form on gear.

Slinger isn't that far away. He's in the trees for right now, and moves toward a cluster of them that should hide him from view pretty well. He pauses to light up a cigarette; the flare of heat might help Annie find him, without travelling too far.
Best thing to do when you're lost — wait for the other person to tell you where to go. Or come find you in return.
It's hard to suppress a shiver, even in the heat of his armor.


Part 8: Landing Zone


On the ground, it's dark and murky, but with levitate and a GPS, finding the truck won't be an issue. It's parked where it was supposed to be, about 10 miles or so from the target location. Far enough awya to be out of casual spying range.

Slinger grins and exhales a cloud of smoke. He's invisible, but the smoke-cloud isn't. And of course, he's visible on the astral. ~A blast,~ he says over the mindlink, grinning. ~Scary as frag, though. So how far are we? We floating in, or driving, or what?~

Annie points toward the vehicles location. ~Our truck should be over there~, she responds mentally before turning and leading the way. She continues levitating for the most part since, well, she already has the levitate spell going.

Slinger follows her, finishing his cigarette rapidly, then crushing it against a tree to extinguish it. Then, he pockets the butt; no sense leaving DNA evidence. He closes the visor, floating after Annie. ~So we driving in, or flying in? And how far is the objective?~

~Driving in. And about 10 miles. It would be best to have the vehicle close by in case Talia is wounded.~, Annie responds. When the vehicle comes into sight she drops to the ground and releases the levitate spell, entering the codes to open the vehicle, then stripping off her backpack and loading it inside.

Annie: The vehicle appears unmolested. The keys are where they should be, on the front passenger tire.

Slinger: You look around the vehicle, and all looks to be in order. Except, something catches your eye. The vehicle is STONE cold. It's absolutely at air temperature… except for one spot on the front fender. It, the size of about a quarter, is registering 4 degrees warmer than the surrounding temperatures.

~Hang on a sec,~ Slinger says, warily. ~Vehicle's been here a while, but… there's a spot on the front fender. About the size of a quarter. Too small to be a bomb, but might be a camera, or a transponder, or a beacon.~ He keeps the conversation through the mental link. It, at least, is invulnerable to eavesdropping.
The elf quickly switches his vision into the astral, cranes his neck to look around.

Nothing seems out of place on the astral plain.

Annie stops before entering the access codes, then takes another slow careful look around before heading toward the front bumper cautiously.

Slinger slowly drifts forward as well. ~Lemme take a look. I've got some stuff to deal with buggies like this,~ he suggests. And slowly works on peering toward the spot where it is, using Microscopic Vision if possible to help.
Slinger scowls, then turns around very slowly, and moves back out of the way. Something is very, very wrong here. ~Laser sight? Infrared beam? Did we just break it? Invis should have handled that!~ Stream of consciousness, almost. Either that, or a proximity detector that just went off.
~I have a very, very bad feeling about this…~ Slinger sends, preparing to head /up/ if anything goes down.

Annie nods silently at the other elf, then steps back a dozen paces from the vehicle. She takes a few moments to cast 'Detect Explosives' followed by a 'Detect Bugs' spell. Better safe than sorry, she thinks to herself.

Slinger slowly follows the thing back to its source. ~Laser Emitter. Stay clear of it. Might think it was just the fog, or a critter or something. But this means somebody knows this is here. I don't like this. I don't like this a /lot/.~ Slinger eyes the thing, looking at it from several angles, and tries to deduce what it does when the beam is broken.

Annie moves slowly and carefully away from the vehicle, choosing where she
places her feet carefully in case there are mines. She takes cover behind a
nearby sturdy tree and tosses off her spells in quick succession.

The Gas Tank glows bright red, along with the fuel lines to the engine.

The GM is defining bug in this case as a self-contained transmitter. The Radio and antenna glow bright red, along with the autonav antenna.
There does not appear to be any tracking devices on the vehicle.

~I don't sense any nearby explosive or surveillance devices.~, Annie projects toward Slinger, ~Wonder what the hell is going on.~ She turns and begins checking out the surroundings carefully, finally activating her scanner and checking for any transmissions in the nearby area. ~How the hell could they know we were coming.~, she ponders more to herself than an intentional transmission to Slinger.

Slinger makes his way carefully to that transmitter, floating carefully up and out of its line of sight. So far, we are being very careful, and as he reaches the thing, he examines it, looking for how it is concealed — and very, very carefully, trying his best not to dislodge it or set off any other triggers, begins to check how it is connected, and what it does.
~There's only one way. Your contact sold us out.~
Slinger considers that. ~Well, maybe not. Could be they got caught dropping off the car. Or they dropped off the car, and the bad guys found it and set a trap.~

Man 1: Cicdhouefh2iainshhhh… She sees somethings wrong. Do we engage?

Woman 1: Does she look like MSec? She's dog ugly, and has that thug look to her.

Man 2: Chill on the chatter. Is she Msec? Why would they leave a truck here? I say its a trap. The perfect getaway vehicle. We should leave this bullshit and join up with Edgar.

Man 1: NO fucking names!

Slinger is not exactly a trained operative who instinctively lines up the sight lines, but he is getting a lot of practice. HE looks around, invisible, hovering in the air. Below him, about 50 feet away in the dark, there's a flicker of light. Blue light. It's gone in a moment, but slinger recognizes it as someone checking their watch. Bad bad form.

Annie catches something similar, but its the clicking of someone activating a subvocal mike.

MSec: Ministry Security. Goonsquad.

~I don't think these guys are on the Ministry's payroll.~, Annie projects to Slinger, ~Looks like they may be the enemy of our enemy in this situation.~

Slinger nods slowly. ~What makes you think that? Any good way to talk to them? I just saw one of them… heading that way.~ Even as he is sending, the elf works on navigating the forest, staying away from any branches, while he heads toward the flash of blue light that he saw, to investigate. He can zot one of them pretty easily if things get out of control.

Annie adds after a moment, ~But I am feeling confrontational. They were concerned that I might be Ministry Security. And if I was, they seemed inclined to attack.~

Man 2: My bad. We should hook up with… man… do I hafeta say it?

Woman 1: Yes.

Man 2: We should hook up… with… DeepRecon. These are the worst codenames ever. They sound like porn titles.

Man 1: Kill the chatter, Backdoor.

~You eavesdropping on their comm traffic or something?~ Slinger asks.

Annie steps out from behind the tree, her arms raising slowly above her head to show that her hands are empty. "I know you are out there", she calls after a moment, "I wanna talk. You apparently aren't Ministry, and neither am I." Mentally she adds an aside to Slinger, ~Ayup.~

Woman 1: I'm gonna take a shot!

Man 1: BELAY THAT! She's coming out of cover!

Man 2: OH SHIT!

Behind Annie, a form pops up, the sound of a hammer cocking back. Just before the shot would come though, another form rises up, and tackles the first form. "GODDAMN IT TWINPEAKS!" Says the second form as they go down.

Below Slinger, Man1 stands up, looking like the most professional of the bunch. He sort of just raises one hand to his brow, looking down and shaking his head. "Son of a bitch." he mutters.. He's probably 6 feet tall, but in the darkness and his camo, its hard to make out details. He is carying an AK 97 though.

«Auto-Judge» Slinger (#69) rolls Intelligence vs TN 4 for "Assensing Man1.":
1 2 2 3 4 5 5 7 8 9 = 6 Successes
«Auto-Judge» Slinger (#69) rolls Aura Reading vs TN 4 for "Complementary":
1 4 4 10 = 3 Successes

Man 1 is a 40something ork with a decent amount of cyber and a really really pissed off attitude. He's got some blacklung from the cigarettes, a fake right knee and he's really got to pee.

~Might point out to them that there's a mage staring right at a friend of theirs, an ork who smokes pretty heavy, has a fake right knee, is wearing camo and carrying an AK-97, and really, really needs to take a leak. How 'bout everybody sits down, talks, and we let this poor guy take a whiz? I promise I won't peek!~ Slinger sends to Annie, tensing as he keeps a close eye on the guy.

Keeping her hands raised stoically above her head, Annie waits patiently for the situation to resolve itself. "I don't bite. Let's talk. I have a feeling we may have some common goals here.", she indicates the forty-something ork with a toss of her chin, "And let him take a leak for goddess sake. That's just cruel."

Man1 steps out of the clearing, his gun slung low, one hand on it, but not raising it to fire or draw a bead. "Saw the truck planted earlier today… figured it for an Msec operation… who are you?"

~I'd be willing to make a bet that that second guy they captured? That he was with them.~ Slinger mentions over the link.

Slinger follows the man, all silent and stuff. Stealthy floaty mage, hovering above the clearing with the car. ~Make sure the laser sight thingy is theirs, too!~

"I go by a lot of names. Let's just use Sera in this situation.", Annie responds, "The ministry is holding someone I hold dear, and I plan on getting her back.", she chuckles and adds, "And the truck was actually left for me. I assume the laser wire was yours. Nice trick."

"Yeah. Ruth's cheaper than toilet paper these days." Says the ork, approaching. "So." Says he. "Who they got that you want?"

The brawl behind Annie seems to come to a conclusion with a well placed knee to a ladies kidney.

Annie chews absently on her lip as she mentally counts down the branches of the family tree. "The great-great grand-daughter of my fathers sister.", she shrugs, "Watching over the young'uns is sort of my hobby."

The man grunts. "SO your looking for Ki'Arnan." Says the man as he comes closer. "Backdoor! Front and center. Bring whatevers left of twinpeaks with you." He pauses, looking back to annie. "Call me Crankshaft." HE says without a mote of irony. "Forgive the kids. They are… enthusiastic. But like… herding cats. Its why they were here with me, watching this truck, practicing being -QUIET-."

Annie nods, "Yep, that would be her. Like I said, I get real protective over my family. And the Ministry crossed a line on this one.", she looks around then focuses her attention on Crankshaft, "So what are you lot doing out here in the middle of nowhere? This the Ute Revolutionary Army?"

"Soemthing like." He mutters. "Mostly, we were gonna hit that house up on the hill and burn it to the ground. Seemed like a good plan, until one of ours got captured about a day back. Now we're gonna go rescue him. Your girl though? She's not there. Well, won't be in about…" He fishes in to his pocket and pulls out a paper. "20 minutes. She's being transported."

Slinger hovers there, listening in. And finally decides to make himself visible. He needs a smoke. The elf pops into existence above the others, cancelling his invisibility and stealth speals. "I'm with her," he says swiftly, pointing to Annie, as he slowly floats down to the ground and lifts his visor. "Twenty minutes, huh? You guys willing to help us out?"

Annie exhales slowly, "Fudgesickles", she mutters, "I hate rush jobs." She offers a nod to Slinger as the elf mage reappears, "Tell ya what. If you can give us a hand stopping that transport, I will joyfully assist you in burning that place to the ground and rescue your man if at all possible."

Crankshaft eyes the pair as they come in to view. "She didn't act like she was alone." He mutters. "Any more of you flying invisible people hidnig around here, or should I just shit my pants now?"

Slinger chuckles. "Just me," says the figure in the milspec armor. "Could tell you there're more, but we're plenty." He considers, thinking. "Twenty minutes. How fast can we be there?" he wonders, speaking swiftly. "We drive in, hit it hard and fast, with you guys providing us some cover. Any intel or recon you can share?"

Annie lowers her hands finally, offering the ork a wry grin. "Yeah…I am not in the mood to be kind to these guys. If you guys want any prisoners, you should speak up now. Does Edgar have eyes on the place?"

"Well." Says the man. "Our boy, kneepads, he was nicked yesterday by their spirit patrols. He's gonna be on the transport too, so we were thinking about…" A pause as he registers she used Edgars name. He shakes his head, glaring daggers past Annie to the two who have now stood up. "SEE? DO YOU FUCKING SEE YOU DUMBSHTS? Op-sec! It's not just a game of hide the goddamn weenie!"

Annie remains quiet for a moment as Crankshaft bitches out his troops. "To be fair though, it does sound like your squad was named by some b grade porn director.", she states with a hint of amusement in her tones then switches back to the primary topic, "So we hit the transport then. You have any useful intel on it?"

"To be fair, sir," Slinger pipes up. "You /did/ glance at your watch, and that was how I spotted you," Slinger tells the ork leader. He glances at the two younger ones, both physically and in the astral. Curious. "Yeah. Backdoor. Poor guy," he says, with a sympathetic grin to the younger male. "Transport? Frag no. We hit the cabin. Transport's a vehicle. Mojo can't affect it, probably armored all to hell, and anything we do crashes the thing and kills everybody on board!"

Backdoor punches Twinpeaks in the shoulder. "Told you."

Twinpeaks snorts.

Crankshaft raises an eyebrow. "Yeah. Well, you're fucking invisible and flying, so you, I don't feel bad you spotted me." A pause. "You also dress like a tank." He shrugs then. "AS to the transport. It's a Aki-Kaze, one of them Jap transports, that comes in direct from Provo. They use to transport out high value targets. They know somethigns up so they are bringing in the big chopper to get everyone out in one fell sweep. We think Kneepads may have started talking."

Slinger rolls his eyes. ~What do you wanna bet, they've got a Jap at the helm, too? They aren't even trying to keep it secret anymore,~ Slinger mentions to Annie. Over the link, she can sense his real anxiety at trying to go up against a vehicle like that. ~There ain't a damned thing I can do against that thing that won't nuke it.~

"I knew there was a helicopter somewhere.", Annie chuckles wryly, "And it might be even better to question the pilot. I've been wondering who has been pulling the jap strings in all of this." She exhales slowly, "Then we need to hit the base between the choppers arrival, and before it lifts off. Once that puppy is in the air, it will be hard if not impossible to take out of the picture."

"Then let's go," Slinger says firmly. "We got, what, eighteen minutes to get there? That ain't a lot of time! It'll take us /at least/ ten minutes to get there, and that's assuming you drive like the proverbial bat out of hell at a hundred klicks an hour. So let's load up," he suggests. "When we get close, let me out, and I'll go in on my own. I'm better outside a vehicle than in it."

"Lemme out early, and I'll be forward recon," Slinger further suggests.

TwinPeaks stands about four foot five. Clearly a dwarf. She's dressed like a ninja in a sort of ghulli suit that makes her look like a mobile bush. BAckdoor is dressed like a ninja in a set of bad pajamas. They however, are both carrying AK-97s. FFeatures are obscured by camoflauge.

Slinger shoots a grin to 'Backdoor'. "I like the outfit," he comments. His own is, well, slightly outlandish, but it does blend into the darkness relatively well. Except for those lightning bolts. But anyway. There'll be time for discussion later. Can't let him get distracted by cute boys in ninja outfits, nope!

"Naw." Says Crank shaft as he moves off in to the forest. "We got bikes." He says. "what, we're not complete tripple-stupes." He says, as the other two break off to get their bikes from the underbrush about 40 feet away.

Slinger nods once, then heads toward the car with Annie, climbs inside, and takes the opportunity here to call an air… no, fire elemental back from where he had it stashed. He'll call the air elemental, too. Best to have it tucked somewhere nearby. Then, he refreshes his invisibility and stealth spells, after sharing comm frequencies and crypto keys, so we can communicate with the group.

Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "Comm check, Slinger."

The sound of a motorcycle starting echos in the trees, then another, then another. Quickly, three bikes roar out of the trees and on to the dirt road. Offroad bikes, commercial models, but spraypainted black. Cheap. Disposable. They roar off down the road.

Annie chuckles again, "Never said you were. The trick with the laser trip was nice.", she turns and heads over to the truck once comm data and encryption protocols are established and hops inside to strap herself in. The truck fires up and a moment later the vehicle is rumbling down the road toward the target.

Slinger takes the chance to light up a cigarette. The tinted windows of the car will shield any heat emitted by his habit, and he is going to need a strong dose of nicotine given the speed we are travelling and the twisty, windy road. The elf makes sure he is belted in, sucking down a cancer stick as he prepares himself. Meanwhile, he looks at the map he has, loads the data into the heads-up-display on his helmet, and prepares for what is to come.

The bikes disappear in the darkness, able to move farther and faster than the truck. Aside from the lights of the truck, there's nothing to say beyond the road that humans ever resided here.

Commlink-«<Crankshaft»> Vulcan says, "Alright. DeepRecon has a position setup with a SAM. He's gonna hit the chopper just as it hovers for the touch down."

Annie rubs her hands gleefully before putting the truck into drive. "I hate these manual drive vehicles", she mutters under her breath as she grips the wheel tightly. The truck throws up a rooster tail of gravel as she moves it off the shoulder and onto the road. She takes the turns at what most people would consider a foolhardy speed, the rear-end fishtailing a bit on the sharper twists. She keeps the head lights off unless her elven lowlight is not up to the task.

Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "We sure we wanna hit the chopper? We were thinking that might be a good way out of here."
Commlink-«<Crankshaft»> Vulcan says, "And you plan on flying it.. where? Can you fly a helicopter? I can't."
Commlink-Breeze> Annie says, "I can fly one."
Commlink-Breeze> Annie says, "Especially if it's rigged."
Commlink-«<Crankshaft»> Vulcan says, "I dno't know an aircraft in service today thats not rigged."
Commlink-«<Crankshaft»> Vulcan says, "But… I'm leary of the risk. If they have reinforcements on the chopper?"
Commlink-Breeze> Annie says, "I just hate to take down some hardware like that, especially since it may be our best route of evac."
Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "Reinforcements are people. I'm good at dealing with people."
Commlink-«<Crankshaft»> Vulcan says, "I'll try and tell DeepRecon what you want, but this is his op. Yall are stepping on -our- turf here."
Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "So noted."

Commlink-Breeze> Annie says, "All right. I just hate taking out my possible escape route, especially since it figured so heavily in my original plan in that regard."

Once the vehicle approaches two kilometers out, Slinger nods once to Annie. ~Here's good,~ he tells her. Then, over the comm, « Stoppin' for me to get out. »
The elf glances to the air elemental in astral space with him. ~Manifest and assist me with movement,~ he instructs it. ~Stay hidden as best you can, but stay within range of my commands. I may have another task for you.~

Commlink-«<Crankshaft»> Vulcan says, "DREK DREK DREK!"

Annie parks the vehicle off the road a bit, far enough to be unseen by travelers passing by. She locks it up and then starts heading toward the house cross-country via a levitate spell. Her image flickers as she activates the ruth systems on her armor, and while she is traveling far too fast for it to be truly effective, it does make something of a disconcerting shimmer through the air as she flickers through.

Commlink-Breeze> Annie says, "Is that Ute code talk for something has gone wrong?"
Commlink-«<Crankshaft»> Vulcan says, "If you want to do something, do it now! The damn thing was ALREADY HERE, it's powering up to move out. Edgar says it jsut appeared on the fucking pad!"
Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "On it. Sending my elemental…"

Two miles out, it's not possible to really hear the chopper powering up, but its one of those things you THINK you can hear… And no, not in the fog. You need to close to at least a quarter mile or have it rise above the fog before you have a chance of seeing it.

Annie mutters to herself as things suddenly get a bit more difficult. "Goddamn idiot universe conspiring against me getting a Helicopter", she growls under her breath, "Johhny has a helicopter. No-one wants to blow it up.", the muttering stalls as she calls on one of her own air elementals to provide her with some much needed speed boost.

Slinger heads toward the cabin with all possible haste — which is significant, with the elemental's Movement power upon him. Just a few more seconds, while the chopper is spinning up — maybe he can stop it if he can get there in time. While he is travelling, he pulls the Fire elemental into him, focussing his energies to Channel it…

Very little seems to happen in the physical world. In the astral realm, it is interesting to watch, as Slinger turns, hurtling along above the treetops, and faces the fire elemental that is travelling with him. He spreads his arms, closes his eyes, and /merges/ with the glowing humanoid shape of fire. For a moment, his own aura seems to burn — and then he merges with it, his own aura seeming to burst into flames, flickering and blazing with new power.

Annie calls up the Ditz from her resting place on the metaplanes. The massive elemental shimmers into existence next to her and she offers her long-term compatriot a salute of greeting, "I need to go fast…but not so fast that I kill myself.", she grins at the spirit as it paces her flying form, "Let's ramp it up gradually." She moderates her own speed slightly as the Elemental kicks on some spirit juice. The cold air rushes past her as she flickers through the night air over the Ute forest, her armors ruthenium systems pretty much giving up the effort at this point and just assuming a uniform foggy gray color.

Slinger turns back with renewed vigor, keeping his air elemental in sight and with him, as he approaches the cabin with as much speed as he can muster. Once he gets within 100 meters, he sends the air elemental forward, protecting it with his own Shielding, which also applies to Annie and himself, as he looks for any targets below…

And then you are upon the helicopter. It's blades are already spinning, the rear hatch down and loading a few more people. The fog in the area is churning and burning, the rotors sending it in all directions, channeling it down from above. As the others approach, blazes of magical energy that they are, they are not subtle. It's hard to be subtle in that kind of magical energy.

The Elemental is quickly met by a sky spirit of nearly equal force, locking it in a curious battle between the two. Element and ideal.

~Help out my air elly!~ Slinger calls over the link, as he heads toward that open door on the back of that helicopter. That is a point of vulnerability, right at this moment, and he scans the area ahead of him for wards or anything of that nature. Once he's physically inside that chopper, vehicle armor will not protect against him!

Annie reaches down and draws her staff, holding it out in front of herself as she telescopes it to full length. The orichalcum runes begin filling with pastel blue light, starting at her hands and flowing toward the ends as the focus activates. The blue light pulses in time to it's owners now elevating heartbeat as she arcs her flight path toward the spirit fight going on near the helicopter

Near the back of the chopper, looking up, there is an older Native American man. His long black hair is blown backckwards by the thrust of the rotors, one hand outstretched, gesturing to the spirit that now fights with the elemental. He seems to be chanting, an ornate rattle in the other beating in time with his words. Behind him, people are skurrying on to the chopper, the door looking to be about to rise.

Slinger is flying toward the rear of the aircraft at breakneck speed, and slows himself as he approaches — enough that, hopefully, he won't slam into the rear wall of the cargo deck upon entry. But still going fast enough that they won't be able to close the hatch before he gets there, he hopes.
The sight of the Shaman through the dense fog provokes quick thinking from the elf, as he pulls out his infiltrator from its holster in a single swift action and sends two rounds into the Shaman's body. The weapon, thanks to Slinger's spell, is utterly soundless as he sends two rounds into his target, drawing blood…

The Air Elemental and the Sky Spirit roar with fury as they tear in to each other, lightening and thunder issuing from them as they clash. The Native Shaman takes two rounds to the shoulder, spinning him but not dropping him. He reels though, calling on his spirits. The Mountain SPirit and the Forest Spirit move to guard him… The forest spirit blows out a gale of wind that carries leaves that come to swirl about Slinger, Confusing him…

The Mountain Spirits powers lash out, dust building up in the trigger mechanisms and the slide feeds of slingers gun!

HiroyukiSanada.jpg

Inside the chopper, there are about 10 people. Five look to be prisoners of some sort, seated on the floor, hands behind their back. Three appear to be workers or other agents who have been moving boxes in to the chopper. One is the pilot, who is in the front, while a third is a… very curious man. He is japanese if you've ever seen a japanese man in your life, but he stands with such a cocky swagger, the way he casually holds the gun to Talia's head, as she kneels before him.

He knew you were coming. He smiles, a cold, inhuman thing.

Annie continues flickering toward the rising helicopter, her staff still held in front of her to lead the way. She spots the Japanese fellow inside the chopper with a gun to her nieces head and mentally sends out a probing attack to cause him to drop the pistol. She blinks as the spell seems to bounce off a nearly inpenetrable shield, "Well, fuck me running", she mutters under her breath, "They do have competent people on their side after all."

"A few. If you enter this aircraft, I will kill her. As she sits." He says, his voice not raising, but still carries across the distance, through the rotorwash and to Annie with no difficulty.

"And you've come so far."

The leaves swirl around the mage as he moves, and he shakes his head to clear it. Fragging Confusion! Makes it so hard to /think/. Slinger still manages to draw on his strong willpower as he draws his second weapon, and sends a dart toward the shaman which, luckily, bites through his armor and injects its toxin. The shaman, already reeling from the two pistol blasts, now has his own form of Confusion running through his veins!

The forest spirit, a swhirling mass of leaves in its own right, simply steps in front of the Native Shaman, continuing its efforts to confuse by shaking itself violently, batting at Slinger but doing no damage.

The mountain spirit, a pile of silibent pebbles, sweeps underneath the mage, knocking him from his feet and then sort of -avalanching- down the hill, using its movement power to get the hell away.

Mr. Junjiro's pistol twitches up the moment he sees Annie's aura flair with mana. On the Astral Plain, there are no lies, no deceptions. Only what is. And what is, is Annie casting. Junjiro shakes his head. "Her death could have been avoided." He says, the gun twitching to the side and to the bulkhead.

Two rounds puff out. Annie's vision goes in to slow mo as the heavy pistol's muzzle flashes. The bullet exits the barrel, its tip lit aflame with phosphorus, a tracer round. Talia screams at the gunshot, the last sound she will ever make in this moral life.

The first round slams in to the fuel tank, spraying fuel upward and outward. The second round ignites, sending a fireball ripping through the chopper. Talia's scream is choked off by superheated gasses instantly searing her lungs. Oddly, Mr. Junjiro never flinches, even as he is thrown backwards, his body simply disintegrating under the blast.

The chopper's engines, at full boar for takeoff, shatter and send bits of helicopter flying in all directions as the Aki-Kaze explodes violently, sending a ripple of concussive force and heat in all directions.

The windows and doors of the mountain home blow out, with fire touching them immediately.

Slinger had his own problems to deal with, and that spirit was making it hard to /think/, let alone act. He was already trying to figure out a way to deal with it when Annie began casting her spell. He barely even had time to turn around and see what actually transpired.
The wave of fire washes over him. Annie's spell deflects some of the shrapnel, and his armor — spells and milspec — absorb most of the rest of the blast. But the intense, powerful heat laps over his armor, testing his fire resistance to the max, as the fireball envelops Slinger in burning jetfuel —
And the elf pulls back from it, moving away from the flames as fast as he can. His eyes stare toward the wreckage. There is no way anyone survived that.
And that is when Slinger shifts his vision into the astral, staring into the flames, hoping against hope that somebody, anybody, among the hostages made it out alive…

There are, at this time, no living auras in the flames; though it should be noted, intense flames ARE a block to astral perception.

Annie alters her action at the last possible second, her thoughts turning to self preservation as the realization of what Mr Junjiro intends to do hits her full on. "Oh shit!", she curses as her hands fly up in a quick warding gesture. The mana she had gathered for her spells was still earth oriented, but it's form is changed into a protective rather than a transformative essence.

A flickering globe of physical energy flickers into existence around Annie and the younger elf mage a half dozen meters away. The globe is strong enough under normal circumstances, but the proximity of the exploding chopper; the fire, explosive blast, and sheer quantity of large chunks of metallic and biological shrapnel are just too much for it. It flickers and then collapses under the onslaught, but not before it protects Annie and Slinger from the brunt of the sheer physical damage dealt by the blast.
Annie tumbles through the air, managing to stop herself a meter or two before slamming forcefully into the ground. She drops the spell and falls the last meter to the ground, then moves toward the wreckage with her eyes prying for anything that might have survived. ~You all right?~, she mentally inquires of Slinger.

~Yeah,~ Slinger response. He stares at the flaming remains of the chopper. ~There is no way anybody survived that. What the frag happened?~ he wants to know. He's looking for survivors, and then around at the place — at the cabin which is now likely on fire as well from the intense blast of heat, as he continues to move upward and away from the wreckage. ~I'd check the house, but it's gonna be gone soon. I'm… sorry about Talia.~

Nearby trees have caught aflame as well, along with the house. Pieces of wreckage are still raining down…

Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "You guys okay?"
Commlink-«Crankshaft»> Vulcan says, "what the HELL happened? I thoughgt you said no blowing the chopper?"
Commlink-«Crankshaft»> Vulcan says, "Cause I say, you know, Edgars pissed."

Annie lowers her head and closes her eyes as she internally mourns the passing of one of her last remaining human relatives. The ties that bind her are slowly being cut one by one, like strings being cut out of the tapestry of fate. Soon enough there will be nothing left. Nothing she cares about enough to maintain her ties to the world.

The internal reverie lasts only a few moments and her head comes up and her expression hardens as she pushes the emotion to a dark corner of her mind, locks it inside and destroys the key. She turns toward the house and stalks inside…her heavy pistol coming nearly unbidden to her hand, apparently hungry for a few lives to compensate for the one she lost.

~Thanks Slinger~, she responds with as little emotion in the thought as she can muster, ~If you don't like bloodshed, you should stay outside if I encounter any MSD agents.~

Slinger glances at the house. Talia is gone. But there might still be prisoners inside — or something valuable, something that might help us get some kind of evidence that could be used. ~Heading into the house…~ Slinger heads toward the house in question at all speed, shifting his angle of attack to make his way in through one of those blasted windows — looking carefully for a ward of any kind that might still be intact, despite the disruption of its boundary…
~I'm with you. Heading in a window. I don't like taking of /innocent/ lives. These MSD agents are not innocent,~ the elf sends as he moves, his mental voice hard, angry.

Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "We didn't blow up the chopper. Not sure what happened. Checking cabin for survivors."

Commlink-<Crankshaft>> Vulcan says, "WE're out then. Gonna assume we lost Kneepads in that."

Annie goes through the place quickly, then moves outside once it is apparent that nothing remains. « Yeah, we are bugging out as well. Sorry about your man Crankshaft, and we appreciate the help. », she pauses a moment as she begins to head toward the distant vehicle, « But this incident is going to call for blood. It's not going to be pretty. If you or your team needs help, leave a message for Breeze on Shadowland, and I will do what I can to aid you and your efforts. »

Commlink-<Crankshaft> Vulcan says, "Breeze? -Oh-."

Slinger does a quick sweep of the interior. ~Suggest you erase your spell signatures,~ Slinger says, sadness in his mental voice, but also anger. ~No sense leaving them clues we were here.~ Now, he's he going to explain this to the others, waiting outside? Likely, we may have just made more enemies.
That done, he starts to head away from the scene of carnage and fire.

Commlink-Slinger> Slinger sounds regretful as he comes on the line. « No survivors. Your guy was on the chopper. I'm sorry. » His regret is sincere. « Yeah, likewise. If there's ever anything we can do to help, my handle is Slinger. » He gives a trixcode where a message can be relayed to him.

Commlink-<Crankshaft> Vulcan says, "Well. Remind me not to piss you guys off. What, do you run a in a club for bad motherfuckers or something?"

Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "Honestly? Tryin' to do a little good in the world, and some days, like today, it feels like it doesn't fraggin' matter."

Commlink-<Crankshaft> Vulcan says, "Liberty is a bitch who must be bedded on a mattress of corpses."
Commlink-<Crankshaft> Vulcan says, "I'm sorry for your loss, but this isn't play time."
Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "It never is playtime. Liberty. A man after my own heart. The MSD is gonna pay for today, one way or another."

~Good thinking. Though I am tempted to leave my signature here just so they know who is coming for them. But I am not on a good plane right now.~, Annie growls over the mental link to Slinger. She does however pause a few moments to clear out (or at least heavily diminish) her spell signatures from the environment. « Definitely not play time. I was brought into the game at Abejo, and it became serious at Ward. Soon Iron-Eyes will know the meaning of the terms Pain and Fear. », she responds over the comm as she neglects to expand on her feelings about the Comanche in general, « Farewell Crankshaft. »

Commlink-<Crankshaft> Vulcan says, "cante chante sica yaun sai ye, tahunsa."

«Plot» Vulcan says, " Don't have a sad heart, Cousin (Sioux)."

Slinger nods once to Annie, mentally. ~Back to the vehicle, I'm guessing. Then from there, head back toward UCAS. Sterilize the vehicle — I got a spell for that. Then over the border, flying, invisible, all that, and avoid the spirits.
Slinger reaches out and gently touches Annie's shoulder. Even with his milspec armor on, the touch is tender. ~I'm really sorry. Not sure what I coulda done different, but sorry I didn't do more.~

Annie traipses the distance back to the vehicle, too pissed off and mentally turbulent to want to bother with maintaining a levitate spell. Mentally she is going over her options, but she forces herself back to the here and now at Slingers gentle touch. She offers him a nod of thanks, the pain managing to show for a moment before she banishes it once more. "There is nothing that we could have done differently that would have altered the outcome. There was a spirit inhabiting a japanese man inside the helicopter. I don't know who it was, but I don't think it feared us or the death of it's host. It was just something new to experience for it.", she pauses and then adds, "But, it gives us an idea of what we are dealing with. It tells us that things go far deeper than just a game of nations moving people around as it's pawns."

Slinger nods again, mentally. He stays with Annie, but maintains the Levitate. Always better to get a bird's-eye-view, using foliage as cover and watching the Astral. ~There is a lot going on. And Iron-Eyes is corrupt as hell. Not sure what he's getting out of this, or whether he's inhabited by another evil Free-Spirit thingy.~ The elf sighs, glances around, then flips up his visor to light a cigarette, winces. His armor is still hot to the touch.

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