Uncrossing Part 1

GM: Lex
Players: Bliss, Seb, Lex
Synopsis: Bliss is on a mission of the supernatural variety, her mentor in the arts of voodoo having sent her to New Orleans to retrieve an unknown object as part of a spiritual journey. There she meets the smuggler boat captain, Lex, and the two of them hire on former Azanian Marine, Seb. The crew goes on their first mission to find what Bliss is looking for. Their discoveries bring more questions than answers.
Date: April 14, 2080


A day has passed since the whole sordid affair in the backwoods went down for Sebastiaan. Jean, the landlord at the hostel, has been pretty quiet since. He seems a little off. Something is on his mind, but he hasn't talked much aside from the usual short bits of friendly chatter. There hasn't been much noticeable blowback yet, either, though sometimes these things take time to happen.

Seb gets a call. It's from a burner number that Dylan gave him. "Ey, Boyo. Still looking for work? Mama says she knows some people. This might be what you need."

Sebastiaan has been getting to know his location in the meantime. It's pretty much all he has going for him. Whatever dive bar nearby that serves cheap beer has probably had his business since he came flush with nuyen. Cecile's has probably seem him as well, the food's good and Dylan at least was good company, presumably the rest of the regulars are. But Seb is antsy, he wants back on a boat, so when Dylan's call comes in he's awash in relief. "Thank fok you called man, I need somethin' bad, ja? Can't be sat on my ass all fokkin' day. Where's you need me?"

"Be at Cecile's. 2 o'clock. I'm guessing you won't be late, but just in case you were thinking of downing one last beer or three, maybe put a lid on that." He hangs up there. This guy is a huge talker in person, but he's really not one for chit chat over the phone, it seems. He does seem to have his hands full at the restaurant, so that might be it. It's not a big time crunch for Seb, though. He has about two hours. Or maybe it is. Dylan probably should have asked, but maybe there's a reason he didn't.

Meanwhile, it has been a day since Lex and Bliss parted ways. Lex told Bliss that she needed a little more time to arrange a meeting with someone, and that she'd give her a call. True to her word, the call arrives not 24 hours later. "Hey, it's me, Lex," she begins. "Are you free? You mentioned that we might be looking for a shipwreck, or at least somewhere where a lot of people died. My trix searches didn't really turn up anything, so I'm guessing what we're looking for is a little more obscure than that. I asked a contact of mine, and they managed to swing a meeting with a subject matter expert that might know what we need. It won't be for free, though."

Sebastiaan lets the beers comment roll off his back, he's used to that sort of thing, people are always accusing him of having too much fun, they just don't get it. So yeah, he does down another beer before clearing out his new room at the prison hostel and heading off to the port. He uses the car service for some of the way, because at heart he doesn't want to be late, but he also set out with an hour and a half to go, that must be enough time? Maybe there'll be time to drop in and have a drink at Cecile's before whatever meeting he needs to make is on. Wait, the meet is at Cecile's. Perfection. He shows up, makes himself known with his big old kitbag, apparently he's come prepared, and orders a bottle if he can it.

Bliss is a no sweat kinda gal, and so that's just what she says: "No sweat," on the phone. "I mean, you know, I could always go to the graveyard here and talk to a subject matter expert," she says. "And he'll be a lot cheaper, though he may play a prank or somethin'. Anyway, just send me the address and I'll be there," she replies, turning off the pocsec…and then deciding it's time for a shower. She'll get there eventually.

Lex is silent for a few moments. Maybe she got caught up on the graveyard comment? She ends up texting Bliss after she hangs up. "The meet is this evening, actually, so we've got time to talk about our options. As a matter of fact, I just got another message. We might have found another crewmember? Lets meet at Cecile's again. We can talk about your idea and see how this dude shakes up."

And so the meeting is set. 2 PM, with maybe another meeting after that, depending on what's decided.

Lex gets there with about a half-hour to spare. She lives there, so it's not much of a walk. There are no booths in the joint, but she snags a larger corner table, enough for three or four people easily.

Bliss finishes her shower, and replies «You got it, Cap'n» and then dresses - jeans, cute little tank top, secure jacket, black, yellow, green ballistic shawl, a little check in the mirror, a smile, a kiss each to her talismans, and then she's out the door.

She shows up about fifteen minutes after Lex, a little surprised to be early, big smile on her face. She tips a casual vaguely salute-like gesture towards Cecile as she walks in, and moves to sit down to next. "Can we get some coffee? I like the local stuff, with chicory. Head's kind of pounding a bit." Her eyes are a little red. As usual.

Sebastiaan is sat wherever is decently close to the place drinks are served, and so long as Dylan will sling them, he's buying, since he's now flush with cash he also pays off his tab, thanking Dylan for the courtesy and tipping him on top of it. He's pretty much waiting on Dylan to nod him in the right direction and whenever that happens he'll head over to Lex and introduce himself with his wide, gap-toothed grin and earnest, friendly demeanour. Plus he's a little lubricated now, so his social functions are at maximum.

Dylan is behind the counter this time, in the same spot Bliss found Cecile before. The old lady is nowhere to be found at present. Bliss met him only briefly last time, passing him in the kitchen on her way to her backroom chat with Cecile. She knows that he's Cecile's son, but beyond that, not a whole lot. He is all smiles, though, and quite happy to meet her.

"Sure thing!" he begins. He's got an Afro-caribbean accent that's similar to the one Cecile has. "Your shipmate's over there in the corner, waiting for ya. You just go have a seat with her, alright? I'll bring your coffee to your table in a minute."

He steps out from behind the counter and starts to head toward the swinging double doors that lead to the back, but before he vanishes through them, he makes a point of passing the table where Sebastiaan is sitting. He stops and taps the man on the shoulder. "Look alive, marine. Those two ladies are the ones looking to hire." He makes the briefest gesture in their direction. "Can't miss 'em. It's the white girl elf with the dreads and the uh … the other one in the diving armor." He doesn't seem entirely sure what words to use. "Play nice, alright? Messing with a mambo is bad for your health." That last part is said with a chuckle, apparently a joke. And then he's gone to go get that coffee.

Bliss gives a thankful smile to Dylan. "Blessings upon you from me and any spirit who'll listen," she says. "You're a savior." She heads on over to go have a seat with Lex, preening her box braids a little as she waits for coffee.

"You said you heard of someone who might be useful?" she asks. "Hope he's rich, too." It's too bad she wasn't able to hear Dylan, else she would almost certainly have joined in the laughter.

"So, I was kinda thinkin'. About what I was saying on the phone. I mean…we don't have to go out /there/ to consult with a…what was the term? Subject matter expert."

Sebs response to Dylan is a chipper, "Aye aye chief. Wait, a mambo?" But it's too late, Dylan's gone and with him any explanations on what a mambo is. Instead Seb collects his current beer and his bag, and stands up, staggering only a one step before righting himself and then letting out a massive beery belch. "Fok me that was a good one," he mutters as he makes his way across the room, approaching the white girl with dreads and the… other one. Dropping his bag to the ground with the usual heavy metal clunk he tries to stand up fairly straight as he introduces himself, "'ey the names Seb, Dylan tol' me you was looking to hire crew? Can't go wrong with me, I'm a fokkin' champ at sea ja? My mama always said I was born on a boat."

Lex is about to reply when Seb finally steps up. She just stares at him for a hot second, like he's an alien. There's a brief, grinning aside to Bliss, "Lets put a pin in that for one second, alright?" And then her eyes again settle on Seb. "Uh. Have a seat? Or at ease, I guess? I'm Lex, by the way."

It's a pretty nice day today. Clear skies. Sunny. Temperatures hovering in the low 80's right now, about 27 degrees C. Humidity at around 90, which isn't so great. It's not really hoody weather. And so Lex is kinda mostly just lounging in a slightly frayed, too loose t-shirt she thrifted from god knows where and a pair of cotton shorts. "You ex mil or something? The way you presented yourself back there."

Bliss shoots a quick look at Lex, and then turns back to Sebastiaan, a bright smile showing on her face as the coffee arrives before she introduces herself. She seems to…well, glow, the redness in her eyes disappearing, as she sips the drink, of course heavily milked and sugared. "Mmm! That's the best," she says. "I really needed that."

She sets down her cup. "Please, join us," she says. "You certainly look like a tough cookie," she begins. "They call me Bliss. You come very highly recommended. What should we call you, now that we'll be working together?" The smile is sunny, for sure, but she's a little presumptuous.

«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Sorcery + 6 vs TN 4 for "Spell pool, Healthy Glow":
1 2 2 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 11 17 = 7 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Willpower vs TN 2 for "L drain":
2 3 4 5 7 7 = 6 Successes
«Plot» Bliss says, "Healthy Glow F1 sustained."

Sebastiaan had fallen into a sort of parade ease stance, legs apart, hands behind his back, old habits. He grins and slaps himself down into a chair, then raises his bottle and swigs. "Pleasure, I'm Seb," the ork repeats, "Marines," he explains, "Back in Azania ja? They scooped me up when I was a kiddie and I ended up serving there. Turns out I like the sea, not so much the prick Admirals." Probably not the best resume to ever receive, but he is genuine. He finally double takes when he properly takes in his new table mates, saying to Lex, "Holy kak, you got gills? How the fok did you get some fokkin' gills? That must be fokkin' handy eh?"

To Bliss he blinks and cocks his head, "If she's the diving armor, you gotta be a mambo then. But I'm fokked if I know what a mambo is. The fok is a mambo? An' my name's Seb, ja. Short for Sebastiaan but really Seb is fine ja. Happy to meet you." He throws a hand out towards Bliss, for a handshake.

"The Year of the Comet? SURGE? World on fire? Any of that ring a bell?" Lex asks nonchalantly. She takes out her pocsec, flipping through some photos. She turns the screen toward Seb. "I looked like this a day before that." She looks almost aggressively normal in said pic, probably around age nine or ten. And apparently, she was a brunette before she was a greenette. Of course, most people don't really think about it anymore. It's ancient history now, in the minds of most people who weren't directly affected, even if turned the world upside down then.

"I hated it for a long time, honestly. Thought it was the worst thing to ever happen to me." Her tone is pretty relaxed, though. "Now I'm honestly OK. I kinda like it, most days. So people who have a problem can just get fucked." She grins wide here. "You don't have a problem, do you? It's my boat, after all, omae. I don't expect you to understand everything or to be a bleeding heart or to not have your own opinions. But I do demand some basic respect. Those are my rules. Before we go any further, are we good on that account?"

Bliss doesn't say anything until Lex finishes, figuring that she'll leave explanations about what a mambo is until much later. Instead, she sits back, and says nothing, making sure to adjust her braids and drink her coffee while Lex and Sebastiaan have their moment. From what she's heard, after all, orks know about getting the short end of the shit stick just as well as anyone else does, after all.

Seb nods, shrugging off the question about whether it's ok, "Nah bru, it's all lekker with me ja? I don't care if you got a poes or a piel so long as the job is slick. You gotta boat then? That's befok, always wanted one of my own too." He's relaxed, sitting back in the chair and swigging the last of his bottle as he talks, eyes flicking from Lex to Bliss and back. "I 'member the comet nights ja. Never really fussed me, I look fokkin' weird too eh?"

Lex tilts her head just a touch, mouth open for a second. And then closed. "I'm gonna be real, omae. I didn't really understand a bunch of that. Lekker? Poes or a piel?"

"I guess that's not important. A few more questions, and then I'm done. First two are optional. If you don't want to share, I get that. There are things about my past that I don't share easy, but if it's not a problem for you, I would appreciate an answer. First off, what did you do with the Azanian Marines? Like what was your job. Second, under what circumstances did that end? It sounds like you had a problem with somebody, or somebody had a problem with you. Next two questions are less optional. Third question: what's your skillset? And fourth, how good are you at talking? And if the answer is not very good, can you keep your mouth shut and your feelings in check if the situation calls for it? Because believe me, there will be people out here who will really test you as an ork."

Bliss arches an eyebrow a little bit, at Lex's approach. Perhaps she thinks she might have been better to do the talking. When the barrage of questions ends, she gives her Number Two warm smile, in the best traditions of her patroness.

"Cap'n Lex is a pretty tough cookie, but I've got a lot of respect for her," she says to Sebastiaan. She reaches up to play with one of her braids, almost a little nervous, perhaps…hoping that the ork isn't tempted a little bit to say something along the lines of 'I don't fokken' need this ya daft koont,' and she says. "For my part, well, if things go wrong, I -do- have a little bit of healing hoodoo," she says, to try to make this meet a little less one-sided, "and I've got some nifty tricks. If you're going over the side I can even help you not need to breathe. You seem certainly…" She looks at his tough form, "like you've got of experience. Lex needs to know what we're going to be dealing with, because, we're hoping to try to make a score almost right away. We have a…" She leans in, a little conspiratorial-like, "pretty good lead, you see."

Sebastiaan listens to Lex with a smiling apology, and doesn't seem at all bothered by the barrage of questions, sticking with the easy going attitude, "Sorry omae, ja I'll try to tone down the lingo but it's just how we talk eh? So, I was in the Navy as a marine officer, made Lieutenant but got banged back to sub for partying too hard eh? Posted to patrol boats mostly. Did a stint offshore but the Captain was a prick, no drinking, no parties, no fun. Boring old moegoe. I took the lads ashore for some fun one night, and he reported me AWOL ja? I might've had a bit of a fight too, no big deal, he just hated me, I spent more time in the brig on his ship. Anyway, I basically trained as a deck gunner, boarding actions, that sort of thing, oh and I'm an adept. Things just seem to go my way, you know? As for talking, well, you can hear me, this is me. I'm kak at lying, can't keep a straight face ja? If someone gets up in my grill about me being an ork I might pop them one for invading my personal space, but I'm not a rage monkey. People been tellin' me orks ain't kak since I was ten. My mama even tried to file my tusks off before I told her to fok off."

Lex nods periodically throughout all of that. Her face doesn't change much. When he's done, her only response is, "OK. Good enough for me. Dylan tells me somebody in this set vouched for you, and we'll figure each other out better out on the Gulf, anyway. One last thing for us to settle. Jobs are run on equal shares. Most of the jobs I do are decent money. I'm talking a lot of salvage and sensitive cargo runs. So that should be decently lucrative for you. That good for you?"

Bliss seems to get the message, just sit back and look pretty, the adults are talking, so she finishes her coffee, and then begins to preen in the little mirror that she has dangling on a thong necklace around her neck. She makes sure her eyebrows are fully adjusted, then she checks her piercings, and then, finally, sucks on her upper and lower lip a little bit, to deepen the color just a bit. Then, it's back to playing with the braids. She does look suitably sad, brow furrowing just a little bit, as the story about tusk-filing comes out, and then a little mirth returns, at the thought of telling her mother Suzanne to fok off. Would have been liberating, she imagines.

Seb nods with satisfaction, "Sounds good to me boss, I could do with dough in my pocket. I keep running out and that's been very frustrating. You deal fair and we're cool. I'm not bad at carrying stuff around either. Uh, you're good with us having some cans on board though ja? Dry ships are always boring you know? Only for off duty like." For his part, Seb doesn't seem very fussed about his somewhat sad childhood, or he puts up a decent facade but he did claim to be bad at that.

"Yeah, sure. As long as you stay dry when you need to, and you don't make a mess or step out of line, I have no problem with that." Lex looks to Bliss, seeming to get the hint. "Is all of this alright with you?"

«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Intelligence vs TN 4 for "Assensing SEBASTIAAN!":
2 3 3 3 8 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Intelligence - 1 vs TN 4 for "Assensing SEBASTIAAN! kp1 I'm so useless":
2 2 4 16 = 2 Successes

Bliss brightens. "Hmm? Oh. I think Shango would like this one," she says. "He lives in his own skin." She sniffs a little bit. "Also, I smell a little ozone on him. You know, from lightning," she says. "It smells good," she says, looking back at the little mirror.

"If you want, I can have a little bit of a consultation with one of my friends about him," she says. "But no, I'm getting good vibes. He is what he says he is, I think," she says. She shrugs. "As much as anyone is." She has the good grace for looking a little apologetic. "Sorry for peeking. I know it's rude."

«Plot» Sebastiaan says, "Seb's aura is pockmarked with poor life choices that cause minor lingering ill effects, like smoking. He's generally happy, calm. He's an Adept. He has less essence than Bliss. His right arm is an implant as well very minor simsense rig. The actual aura is described as heaving and rolling with a sense of the sea."

Sebastiaan looks between the new Captain and the… whatever Bliss is onboard, Seb doesn't know yet. "Whose this Shango then? Another crew?" Then he lifts an arm and sniffs at his armpit, "I smell already? Fok. I had a shower two days ago. Wait, it smells good? Well alright then." The grin returns to his face as he processes all that Bliss is saying. "Peekin' at what what?"

"Well, then," Lex says, smiling and bringing her hands together. "That's one more for our merry band. Welcome aboard, Sebastiaan." She relaxes again, her tone remaining casual. "Now that we've got that settled, lets get back to business. Me and Bliss actually only met a few days ago, and it was a job that brought us together. We're working on doing a little legwork before we head back out into the Gulf. Buuuut I think she'll explain this far better than I can, as it's basically her job. And it sounds like she might need to explain what she does too, and I certainly have no clue how to talk about that."

Bliss smiles. "Shango…well, yes, you could say he's part of the crew…and also Erzulie, and Legba, and Agwe, and of course the Baron Samedi. But they're all part of the crew through me, and I am part of the crew through them," she says. She reaches to her necklaces and holds up the little doll. "They call me a mambo, I suppose…which is nice to hear, after all, since I'm not really central casting for that. But it's the…you know, the secret science." She leans in close for a conspiratorial whisper. "Voodoo. I think in your part of the world they call it the juju, yeah? And I'm not talking about you. I'm talking about the thunder. Or am I wrong? Nothing to do with the thunder?" She holds her hand up, and a little spark arcs between forefinger and thumb. "No meaning to you?"

Seb doesn't look like he's exactly understanding or following, "They're on the… you are? Juju? You're a witch eh?" He stumbles a little over the rest, "You're not talking about me? I'm not a witch. Thunder? Oh, you're talking about my patron ja? No, not Thor, I follow Wotan." He pulls a charm on a chain around his neck out, and shows it to Bliss, it just has a fairly simple cross inside a circle. "He might be a bit loud and crashy sometimes, but other times he's sneaky. Only the best warriors gain Wotans notice."

Bliss smiles, in more specific language. "I suppose a lot of people might call me that," she says. "But I don't think of myself that way. See, the spirits speak to me," she says. "And I speak back to them. You can speak to them too, sometimes, if you like. Part of this gig will mean riding the loa. My Mama up in Denver gave me a vision, you see. Not my real mama. That's why I'm down here. She told me there was something important to bring her, and that I needed to speak with the loa here. They will guide us to our goal. But that doesn't mean we don't need the right stuff, and the right skills, and the right knowhow," she says, indicating between both Lex and Seb. "Shango is one of the loa, you see. He likes thunder and fire. We're good. My patron, however, is the Mistress. The beautiful one. Er-zoo-lee." She leans back a bit and smiles. Her language even becomes a little bit different, a little more…like she probably was before she became this.

"I know that probably doesn't sound like it made much sense, but it's the best way I can express it. I commune with the spirits, they guide me, and I honor them. Plus I've got a few tricks up my sleeve. The healing touch, for example. If you don't mind too much, I can send you some lovely dreams, too…"

Sebastiaan lets all that information roll on in, and some of it sticks, some rolls back out. "Spirits right, ja. Your mama who isn't your mama up in Denver gives you jobs and the spirits help you fix them, right? Sometimes, I just have to do a thing, and I don't know why. I think that's Wotan acting through me, ja? He came to me when I was little and gave me this." He gestures at one of the other charms on his necklace, the Wolf's Hook rune to be precise, "He made me swear then. I haven't the oath yet and until I do he lends me some of his powers. It sounds like a similar deal you got there with your mambos." Yeah, so clearly some of the wording got lodged in his head wrong.

"Healing touches sound pretty boss to me, don't think I've ever had a dream though. Real life is just too good for me to imagine better when I'm asleep." He laughs uproariously at his own joke, he even slaps his knee.

Bliss doesn't seem to be hung up on terminology. "Doesn't sound so far off," she says, with a little shrug. She glances at Lex. "I think we understand each other just fine," she says.

"Well, I'm not hearing a no, so I'll try. Tell me your type. Blonde, brunette, redhead, ork, human, elf, dwarf, troll, all of the above?"

Sebastiaan smiles at the list, "You sure you're talkin' about a dream you wanting to set up here? You don't have a side-gig do you? I guess I wouldn't do a troll or a dwarf, must like my stukkies about the same size as me I suppose, never really thought about it. Don't think I've got any other types? Eager I guess, no point fokkin' around with a boring naai."

«Auto-Judge[]» Sebastiaan (#13621) rolls Norse Mythology:
1 3

"Lets uh … lets stick to the job at hand, for now?" Lex interjects, seeming a little flustered. "So the long and short here, chummer, is that Bliss hired me to help her find an object. She was told she needed to get out of sight of land, so I did the math and took her out a sufficient distance. The guy … or I guess the spirit? Spirit guy? The spirit guy she contacted out there gives us a bearing from our location, and he tells us we're looking for something to do with death? If I understand it correctly? Like a shipwreck or graveyard, or something? But there's nothing that way but open water, so we're thinking it's underwater.

"So we know it falls along an approximate line, starting from our location at that moment and ending at the coast. So at this point, I figured that we'd probably need some underwater gear, as well as some intel to narrow down the location. So we decided to head back to shore and reconvene later. That's what we're doing now. I think I have a contact who might be useful. And Bliss has her own idea. I think it involves a graveyard? Maybe you can explain that now?"

Bliss shrugs. "Who knows? Maybe it'll turn into one," she says. "Let me know how it goes in the morning," she suggests," before she glances over at Lex. "What?" she asks. "It's just a dream. Do you want one too?"

She nods in agreement to Lex's story. "Lord Agwe, Master of the Waves and all beneath, by the way," she says. "He's a little grander than 'spirit guy.' Her eyebrow twitches - that's the first faint bit of annoyance that she's expressed. "He told us that we need to look in the domain of Ghede, the Baron Samedi," she elaborates, but then agrees.

"There is one loa, but there are also many loa, you see," she says. "The essence of the loa is in every loa. Okay. That's not coming out right," she says. "Okay. There are gods, so to speak," she says. "Each god has spirits of that god, which are all like the god, a representation, so to speak. You address the spirit as you would the god, and the god is honored, if that makes sense. So, we don't have to be at /that/ graveyard to consult the Lord of Death about the matter. We can be at any graveyard, so I understand it. At least we might be able to get some information."

Sebastiaan chokes back a snort which still makes it halfway out and then nods very solemnly to Bliss' explanations, "Lord of the sea is Aegir," he comments, saying Aegir liks A-yer. "Ja so we goin' out on finding a graveyard? Bit creepy, eh? Does it got to be nighttime too? Somethin' gonna pop up and say 'boo' at us?" So he's not taking it that seriously, "Dunno how much help I'll be underwater but I can watch your backs?"

"Maybe up in the Skagerrak, but around here, the Lord of the Sea is most definitely Agwe," replies Bliss. "But that doesn't mean anything for sure. There might be a thousand Lords of the Sea. The one I can talk to calls himself Agwe," she says. "Who knows? Maybe Agwe and Aegir are both gifts from some even greater god to us, who presents himself in different forms for us to understand them," she says. Wow, that was quite philosophical. "No, it doesn't have to be night time. And there's nothing creepy about graveyards! Death is to be celebrated, an escape from the trials of life. That's why the Baron has such a good sense of humor."

Sebastiaan shrugs and grins at Bliss' edict about Lords of the sea, "Graveyards are pretty creepy. Empty bodies laid down all around for people to cry over when there's nothing left inside them. Little stones to tell you about something that never existed in the first place. I find them creepy, ja."

"I wouldn't see it as quite so simple," says Bliss. "But I take your point. Still, there are things that can be learned there. You'll see. Baron Samedi has a good sense of humor," she says. She glances over to Lex. "What do you think? Should we pop over now, while it's still daylight, so we don't scare Sebastiaan?" She bites her lip. "It might be guarded, though, which is a problem. They do like to accuse us mambos and houngan of just trying to create zombies."

"Now might be better," Lex says, her tone thoughtful. "I mean, we've got a few hours to kill before the meeting with my contact. I do want to hear her out, since it would be bad form to get a meeting and then not show. But we might not need to accept her offer if we get enough information from talking to Baron Samedi. Either way, more information puts us in a stronger position. If you give me like five minutes to change my clothes, I can be ready."

She looks between the other two at her table and then stands. "I'll be right back. I hope one of you has a suppressed weapon with gel rounds, in case we run into trouble. Or maybe a nonlethal spell. I'd really rather not kill random security guards just for information. I don't need unnecessary heat."

Seb suddenly sits up straight when Bliss mentions zombies and points at her with a shout, "Oh, you're one of them. I thought you were all black eh? You a pretty little white stukkie." He snaps his fingers and sits back shaking his head with a grin, like he's figured something out. Then to Lex a shrug, "I can punch someone, that's quiet if you do it right, might get loud if I do it fokkin' wrong though eh?"

Bliss shakes her head. "No no no," she says. "I don't have any guns at the moment, though…" She smiles. "Shango has taught me a few things, told me to go into the trix, learn to use a gun," she says. "He told me something with a little more boom than a little popgun would amuse him," she says. "But I don't actually -have- any guns," she clarifies. "But we don't need to worry about that. I can just…do some convincing, you know? Make him think that he has to go turn his oven off back at home, that's all. There's no need for shootin' for this one."

She glances at Sebastiaan. "What do you mean? I'm no zombie. And what's a stukkie, anyway?"

Seb shrugs to Bliss, "Ah you know, a stukkie's a girl, right? But like, also a pretty girl. I can teach you the lingo if you like, but anyway, lets get our cozzies on and go swimming eh?"

Seb may be leaving some context out of his explanation, and he's bad at lying, even by omission.

Bliss rubs the back of her head. "Oh." She grins. "Well, thanks!" She shrugs. "I can teach you a little French if you like, as well," she suggests, casually. "Wait, are we going swimming now? Or are we going to the graveyard?" she asks. "I will need to pick up a pair of fins if we're going swimming. As for the graveyard? Well, I'll be fine there as is. If you two want to pick up gear, I can go myself and tell you what I found. I'll just say I'm visiting my grandfather in there or somethin'."

Seb shakes his head at Bliss, "Nah, I mean lets get going and do the job. It's just a saying ja? I could learn a little French, met this guy speaks French. Runs a hostel or something. He talks to me but I got no fokkin' idea what he's saying right? Nice guy."

Lex returns not long after, wearing some slightly more substantial street clothes. Nothing too serious. Boots, jeans, hoody, with the hood up. Probably her way of avoiding undue attention, which changelings tend to get. Hoodies themselves can be a bit of a problem, but being female helps a little bit with avoiding both some of the stereotypes and the accompanying security agency bullets.

"You guys ready? I looked it up, and the graveyard isn't too far. That's kinda good and bad. That means there's a non-zero chance any security is local. So I hope you figured out a non-lethal way to deal with any security. I don't know if you guys have been told this yet, but there's an arrangement around here, and you don't want to run afoul of it by killing random civies. I called us a car, by the way. It'll be a bit of a walk to the pick up point." She points at the bag Seb brought. "If you want to leave some gear behind to keep a low profile, my boat is secure."

After any gear that people want to stash is stashed, they head out. She wasn't lying about the walk, but it's not too bad. It's a few minutes of going from boardwalk to gravel to asphalt to get just far enough for GridGuide to have service. And then it's a few minutes more of waiting for a car. What rolls up is probably the world's oldest self-driving fleet vehicle, but it seems to run OK enough, and the battered upholstery at least doesn't have that lovely Used Cab Smell. Seb might recognize it as the same service he used the other day.

The ride keeps you along the coast, and it's a fairly beautiful view. For most of the drive, Lex is in the back seat, staring out at the ocean. Maybe she's just thinking about something, but it almost seems like she's in a trance. That's only interrupted when the car finally rolls to a stop.

Everyone steps outside to find themselves more or less in the middle of nowhere. This is a mostly undeveloped stretch of coastline, probably due to the fact that there's a lot of marshland around here, without very good terrain for docks, as well as the fact that this is a flood plain. This is genuinely a terrible place to bury people, and Lex looks a little confused, maybe because of that. She might be the closest thing to a local in this group, but she's definitely not one at all, so a lot of answers are simply beyond her.

On the other side of the street, though, there is what looks like a graveyard. It's a mostly overgrown field marked with brightly painted, hand-carved wooden crosses. There's no fence, though. There's two or three buildings on the far side of it, likely for groundskeeping and burial supplies. You don't see anyone yet. On the flipside, there's not really much here to give cover for any rituals.

"What now?" Lex asks.

Seb rides the passenger seat, he's armed and armoured much like his previous outing, this isn't a serious job so he's not bringing the serious metalwork. Along the ride, if Bliss plays along, he indulges in teaching her various Afrikaner slang, "Hobos in my home town are called bergies. If you need to, uh got ot the toilet, you need to bollie," and so on. The scenery isn't such a draw for him, but when they arrive he does question the locale, "The fok they put a graveyard out here for man?"

Bliss looks at the graveyard. "Well," she says. "I mean…there's really nothing to it. It's not like I need to light candles and draw a pentagram," she says. "My plan is this. I'm just going to get out of the car, go and stand in front of the grave, and talk to myself. People do that all the time," she says.

"If someone comes to bother me, well, I'll just talk to them. That's it. Probably better if you two stay in the car," she says. "Any objections?"

Presuming she hears none, with simplicity having a lot to recommend it, she simply gets out, and then heads on over to the graveyard, looking for a suitable headstone. She doesn't even expect to be disturbed: with her hands in her pockets, she's not planning any vandalism, after all.

And for her, conjuring a spirit of Ghede is not the most difficult in the world. She closes her eyes for a moment, and wills.

«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Etiquette:
1 2 4 5 8 15
«Plot» Lex says, "Bliss says, "I'm going to roll Etiquette, to just look like a normal person visiting a grave.""

Lex, for her part, has no complaints about that plan. "That makes sense. Holler if you need help," is all she says before sitting herself back down in the car.

Bliss might have had the right idea. As she approaches one of the graves, someone does indeed step outside of one of the buildings. It's not clear if he's a guard or just a maintenance worker, but he does look this way and that to get a feel for what Bliss is doing. But whatever she does seems to be enough to get him to turn around and head back inside.

«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Conjuring vs TN 5 for "Force 5 Loa of Ghede (Baron Samedi)":
1 4 4 4 4 8 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Charisma vs TN 5 for "Soaking Conjuring M Drain":
2 3 3 4 4 4 7 9 = 2 Successes

«Plot» Bliss says, "L drain. Not a big deal."

Seb hangs around outside the car, walking around it, looking around all over the place while enjoying the weather and a chance to stretch his legs.

Bliss is not particularly familiar with Ghede, though of course she has communed with all the loa before…so she doesn't overstretch herself. A bit of conversation…there's maybe a flare of a top hat and a pair of shades on her, that someone might briefly notice, if someone were directly observing her.

She smiles, seeing the form of the man in white suit, top hat, with his dapper cane.

"Honored Lord of the Dead, Head of the House of Ghede, I am grateful for your time," she says. "I have a question, and maybe a request for assistance. I was visiting the domain of Lord Agwe, you see, and we were at a specific spot, out in the water, about that way," She points, as best as she can. "We were about fifty miles out in the water, between here and that direction, and he told us, from that point, towards landfall (she gives directions as best as she can) that what I seek was in the domain of Ghede," she explains. "My Mama in Denver, who helped guide me to properly worship your eminences, wants me to seek the essence that she shared me of…so that I can properly bring it to her. She told me, you see, that I would learn my path here in New Orleans. Please, dear Lord of the House of Guede, I ask your aid in helping to direct us. What are we likely to find there, according to the quintessence Mama shared with me, and the directions of Agwe? And how can we best find it?" she asks.

"Watch out! Behind you," replies the spirit to Bliss, and as she turns to look over her shoulder, she hears laughter. She rubs the back of her head, ruefully. "Couldn't help myself child," he says. "Come, come. Here is what I can tell you…" The spirit leans in, to whisper in Bliss' ear.

Those in the car after a moment, see Bliss turning, and moving to approach. Seems like she is done.

GM Page to Bliss: The spirit speaks, his voice not seeming to take any of your questions particularly serious, "Ahhh, yes. I'd heard of a spirit of Agwe that came knocking in a certain place. How can you find it? You have already been shown the way, haven't you? What are you likely to find there? So many things. A gift! And gold and greed. Betrayal. A terrible betrayal, and a foolish one too. And of course, death. So many souls. 50 and change, if I do recall. Watch out for the lion, though, mambo. It's still watching the place."

As she approaches the car, Bliss smiles. "Well," she says. "We already got some…information," she says. "We're sure to find something there. We confirmed the place where it is, and we know it'll be under water," she says. "What are we to find there? He said…A gift. Gold and greed. Betrayal. Foolish and terrible," Bliss says. "And death. More than 50 dead. And, last of all…he said the lion is still watching the place." She shakes her head. "I don't know what that means…but we should be ready. Fifty dead. That has to be a shipwreck…or at least something similar. Recognizable, at least. Or something even more grim. A container of people fleeing somewhere, dumped over the side. Or even longer ago…you know, after the slave trade was made illegal, sometimes they'd just drop people over the side…" She thinks for a moment. "Perhaps the lion is a British warship? I don't know. But I do know…we'll have to be careful."

"I'm not exactly sure what any of that means," Lex replies matter-of-factly. "But gold does sound good."

Seb sticks out his lower lip and shrugs, agreeing with Lex, "Don't mean much to me either bokkie, but I'm cool to ride along. Fifty dead at sea somewhere between here and fifty miles out? The number fifty is turning up a lot in your Mama's job here. S'at mean anything?" He shrugs again.

«Auto-Judge[]» Seb (#13621) has the Knowledge Skill Scuttlebutt with the value '6'.
«Auto-Judge[]» Seb (#13621) rolls Scuttlebutt:
1 2 3 5 5 7

Bliss shakes her head. "I think that it's about thirty miles out," she replies. "We were fifty out, and we were given directions about twenty miles back towards shore, you see." She thinks a bit. "You were in the Navy…perhaps you might know how to ask around, a bit? A wreck, with fifty dead, about that location…say, thirty miles off shore. Might have a bit of local lore to it."

The group returns to Cecile's for a bit, and Seb does a little bit of asking around, seeing what the scuttlebutt is around port.

Dylan thinks on that for a few moments. "Over 50? A shipwreck? If that had happened recently, that would have been big news, wouldn't it? I don't remember hearing about anything like that in my lifetime."

Nobody else remembers hearing such a story either, even the old salts who have been here for decades. You do hear some tales of historical shipwrecks, though. There's are many such stories, in fact, for such a small marina. Mutiny features in two of them. One of them features one of the ships to bear the name of the HMS Indefatigable. It was supposedly sunk during the War of 1812 during the Battle of New Orleans, when half of the crew turned on the captain. Another features an unnamed Dutch ship, filled with gold, that sunk over a disagreement between the captain and first mate over a woman. The final tale doesn't involve mutiny, but it does involve a Civil War-era fighting ship which ran aground in bad weather. They all end with ghosts haunting the sea at night to this day, with only a single survivor living to tell the tale. They all sound a bit, or perhaps a lot, apocryphal.

Seb ahs, no fifty link, then he nods, "Ja, you point me at some sailors and I can see what comes out. Easy fokkin' job getting sailors talking if we have some beers eh? Pretty girls to flirt with doesn't hurt either, get some mouths wagging."

With that he works the crowd at Cecile's, taking plenty of time about it, nobody spills their juiciest info just on the asking, first you have to make friends, buy rounds and so on. Eventually he makes his way back to Lex and Bliss and imparts the information he has which he thinks is possibly useful. "Ja so, I think your best bet is this Dutch ship, gold in the hold and women in the heads of the captain and the first mate. That seems like prime juicy curse material to me. Course you got this HMS ship too, mutiny on board. Sounds boring to me that one."

"The first one's going to be pretty easy to check out if that's a real thing, or not," says Bliss. "I mean, can't we just look up on the Trix? If that's a Navy ship, there's going to be history about it, right?" she asks. "Civil-War era…that'll be tougher to pin down, if I'm not mistaken. Same with an unnamed Dutch ship." She pulls up her pocsec, to check Matrixpedia for the HMS Indefagitable, lost 1812. "Of course, maybe all three are true, and they're all down there? This has been an important shipping area for a long time, after all."

No entry for HMS Indefagitable. Bliss clicks on the link, 'Maybe you meant HMS Indefatigable?'

A quick Matrix search reveals that the HMS Indefatigable is a name that has been born by about a dozen Royal Navy vessels, including a modern vessel today. None of them really sunk under anything approximating the circumstances described. No other vessel during that battle did, either.

Bliss shakes her head, and reports the quick findings to the other two. "Doesn't look like any ships were sunk during the Battle of New Orleans, actually," she says, thoughtfully. "I suspect, from what I hear, that it'll be the Dutch ship," she says, turning to Seb. "Hey, aren't you a Dutchman? You might be able to read seventeenth-century Dutch. Maybe make it out, actually," she says, considering.

Seb nods, "Ja that's what I said Indegafitable. Dutchman? Fok no, I'm from South Africa, at least that's what mama always said, it was called Azania when I was growing up. Also, I can't read kak maat, who needs to read? I only had to pass the tests to get into the Navy, haven't read anything since then."

«Auto-Judge[]» Seb (#13621) has the Language Afrikaans with the value '4'.

Lex thinks on all of that. "In my experience, scuttlebutt tends to be really inaccurate if it has circulated for long enough, but often has a grain of truth in it? My contact might be able to help. This is my first time getting a meeting with her, and I kinda had to make some promises to even get it, but this is kinda her thing. We should probably get going soon, if we're going to meet her."

There's a long, pregnant pause after that, though, as she bites her lower lip. She eventually spits out what she's thinking, though. "From what I've heard, she's really a skittish type, though? She's an academic, not really a part of this world. I was told the soft sell, kid gloves approach is probably best. Not exactly my thing, just in case anybody couldn't tell. Don't think it's Seb's thing either, so … " She just looks at Bliss and smiles innocently.

"Sure, I'll talk to her," replies Bliss. "No sweat." She just smiles. "Hey, I'm just glad I'm not useless for anything other than chatting with the loa and getting my smoke on."

Seb shrugs and nods to confirm Lex's opinion, "Ja you don't want me going up to some mouse and saying boo. They run away." He looks apologetic but it's just the truth, he's a big, nasty orkses after all.

Bliss, Seb, and company find themselves again walking to get a ride. This time, you're headed west, which is not a direction the team has gone a lot since first arriving in Cecile's. West is deeper into New Orleans, into the respectable parts of the city, where all the "good" people live. The streets get nicer and the buildings get snazzier, but never too snazzy. New Orleans is not like Atlanta, the capital of the CAS, or New York, or Seattle. There are no gleaming arcologies. There is no shiny heart of corporate corruption beating at its center. There are some tall buildings and a few major corps, but for the most part, New Orleans is just New Orleans. The strings of power here aren't so easy to see. As things get nicer, it's not long before you spot your first NOPS patrol car, which is something just about never seen in the neighborhood that Cecile's is a part of. Lex ducks her head and turns away, to avoid being seen.

"So the meet-up spot isn't too far into town, I think," Lex begins. "Some kind of dive restaurant? It's supposedly dead right about now, so there shouldn't be a big crowd. I don't really think our contact wants to be seen with us. She's supposedly legit? But that doesn't really make sense to me, given who introduced me to her. I don't know what she wants either. She's an academic, right? History grad student from Tulane? Supposedly some kind of expert in lost ships. I didn't even know that was a field of study. Valkyrie said she might be a bit off, too? She really emphasized the kid gloves thing. We should probably all go in, this time, since we've all got different pieces of information. But you've got the lead here, Bliss."

And then you're there. You're in the back parking lot, near the back entrance, of a rather skeezy tourist trap restaurant. Slim Tim's. The mascot is actually not slim, though. Hilariously, cleverly, and originally, Slim Tim is quite fat. The placard also has writing on it. "The only home of Gumbolaya!"

"What the frag," Lex says aloud.

"Gumbolaya?" Bliss smiles. "Sounds super authentic. I wonder if it's as good as Cecile's? I'll have to ask her next time," she says. "Shall I get some takeout for you guys to try? This is what I think Mama was sending me here for," she says with enthusiasm. "I mean, of course to get what she sent me for, but also to get a taste of the real New Orleans."

She glances to Lex. "All right. We'll all go in together. It'll make sense - we can have the meet while we're all waiting for our orders."

"Nobody's ordering a damn thing from this place," Lex corrects diplomatically. "I don't think the head on my boat can withstand what this restaurant has to offer us."

Seb also seems to have no issue with something called Gumbolaya, "Slim Tim's eh? Fancy looking joint, you sure they'll let me in?" Seb's comment is somewhat dry in tone, as he criticises the restaurant and co-references how much racism orks face. It's insightful, for sure. "For sure we can just bollie over the side boss," chirps Seb helpfully.

"Wait…why not?" asks Bliss of Lex as they start to head in. "Is this not the Real New Orleans?" She holds up her pocsec as she turns her back to Slim Tim's. "I need a selfie to show Mama. She'll be super impressed, I bet."

Lex chides Bliss. "Can we not take pictures during a job? That seems like a bad idea. Now come on."

Bliss shrugs. "Does it?" she asks. "Why?" She follows Lex in, obediently, looking back at Seb with a shrug. "Did I make you mad?"

Seb angles a shoulder up in response to Bliss, with a look on his face like 'I don't know.' He's obviously bringing up the rear because… he's an ork, or it gives him the best view, or that's just how he likes to roll.

Scooby and the gang enter Slim Tim's via the back entrance.

There's a lot of high-backed booths here. They line the walls, dominating the space, making it feel much more cramped than it actually is. A few isolated, oversmall tables are scattered throughout the center, worsening the claustrophobic effect. The floor tiles are red and white, evoking a dash of 50's diner nostalgia that clashes hideously with the poor quality, overly shiny black paint of the booths. Above, confused lighting illuminates the establishment sickeningly, a max of artsy mood lighting installations hanging low above each booth, insufficiently shaded to avoid casting warm glare directly in one's eyes, and two large antiseptic blue-white flourescent hanging fixtures near the ceiling.

This is all accentuated by agonizing clutter, somebody attempting to effect the feel of restaurant kitsch without having to pay a designer. The most prominent such display is a section dedicated to license plates from various CAS states, but it's a work in progress with almost all of them coming from within Louisiana, creating a noxious and lopsided splash of blue and green against the inexplicable off-white walls.

A woman in a black trenchcoat is seated not far from you, holding a menu extremely conspicuously in front of her, concealing her face. You hear a low, hissing sound. It's not clear what it is. A few seconds later, you hear a more properly enunciated, "Psst."

Lex looks at Bliss with a confused look. "Did that woman just say 'pssst'?" She walks over unceremoniously and pushes the menu lower. "Fran?" Smooth. I guess you know her name now. It's Fran.

Bliss is quite happy to take the lead. She nods with a smile to Lex. "Great way to get attention," she says, sliding into the booth first. "Hi, Fran," she says. "Thank you so much for agreeing to meet us," she says. "We have a few questions about…well, some events from the past," she begins. There's no real need to keep this a secret, after all - Bliss can't imagine that others have the same set of information that's had, so far, so she gives Lex a look, a quick shake of the head - take it easy, please. "We were hoping to hear some more about three rumors, one of which we're not sure of, all which might have a grain of truth."

Bliss goes on to explain about the HMS Infetagidable, the Dutch ship, and the Civil War ship. "So, that's what we've found out already, and we were told you're the one who can help us to separate the fact from the fiction!" She gives her number 1 about to be grateful smile, which is, as things go, rather sweetly expectant.

Seb is just here as muscle, he can be muscle. He sort of is muscle all the time. He finds another booth adjacent, or across the aisle from Bliss and Fran, and then starts tapping on it with his fingers in a tuneless sort of way.

Lex sits down next to Bliss, immediately shielding her eyes to block out the harsh glare. Fran is also wincing, though she's trying to make it look like it's not bothering her. She looks and sounds like Kimmy Schmidt.

Fran has something to say, though, before she answers Bliss's questions. By the sounds of it, she has literally been rehearsing this line for the last thirty minutes. "Before we begin, you should know that I didn't come unarmed. I have a Tiffany Guardian, loaded with Double Shot rounds, and I'm an expert markswoman." There's literally no such model, but a civilian could just as easily make a mistake identifying their own weapon. Fichetti does sell a number of guns under the Tiffany brand, aimed at self-protection for women. More telling is the fact that the type of ammo she referenced literally does not exist. It's not even marketing buzz; it's solely a buzzword they throw around in movies. That line, actually, was lifted straight from a recent gunlady action flick.

She whispers, trying to finish her speech. "I'm not afraid of … shadow … /shadowrunners/." Literally nobody here is even a shadowrunner, really, but she looks like she's going to cry anyway. Like so close. She's kinda shaking already. We're mere seconds away.

Seb doesn't pay much attention, he's just tapping and waiting for waitstaff to come take his order for 4 bowls of gumbolaya. He's just really hungry. He can't wait to order 5 bowls of gumbolaya for himself, Lex and Bliss.

Bliss looks concerned for a moment, and then glances to Lex and Seb, for a moment. "Well," she says. "That's a lot of power right there. I think we know not to try anything with you," she replies, working on a spell…a seed to plant in Fran's head: that she has the power here, that there's nothing to be afraid of, and that her gun could indeed take all three of them out before she could move a muscle. She wants Fran to have a feeling of…security. Power. A thought in the mind, to drown out the fear. Really, it's the nicest thing she can think of to do for the poor dear.

«Plot» Bliss says, "F6 Influence. Thought to be planted: 'I, Fran, am safe and in control of the situation.' Target number is Fran's willpower. Threshold is half Fran's Willpower."
«Plot» Lex says, "Fran's willpower is 3."
«Plot» Lex says, "I'll say the L stun from earlier has already healed."

«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Sorcery + 2 vs TN 3 for "Influence":
2 2 3 4 5 5 8 9 = 6 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Willpower + 6 vs TN 2 for "Soaking, F6 influence (Force/2) -1, fetish cast, +2 dice from Erzulie for control/manip":
1 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 5 7 10 13 = 11 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls 3 vs TN 6:
1 3 3 = 0 Successes

Fran seems to visibly calm down, exhaling a long, deep breath that she seems to have been holding in for quite some time.

"That's right! And to start with, it's Francesca, /thank you/! Only Maria gets to call me Fran. I'm guessing you're the associate that she told me," she says to Lex.

Right about now, the wait staff finally arrives. It's a tall, lanky white dude who approaches the booth. "Howdy there, cajuns! I'm Slim Tim! Y'all up for a taste of Acadia!" This really sounds like a corporate theme restaurant script, except even more low-rent and badly written. This is the true horror of life in a C- zone. You can probably find this place listed on the tourist kiosk of cheaper hotels, though.

Lex looks at him blankly. "You're actually slim, though. The Slim Tim sign outside was fat. You're not even fat."

"Well, gee golly, missy. I wish I could say the same about you!" And then he turns right around heads back into the back. Apparently, Lex was right about nobody ordering anything.

Lex actually seems kinda hurt, looking at Bliss with puppy dog eyes, hoping for reassurance. Fran is just staring at this exchange with wide eyes. It only finally clicks a moment later. "Wait, are you blue?" she asks incredulously, leaning in.

"Yeah, I'm out," Lex says, standing and heading for the back. She leaves a pocsec on the table. "The map is on there. Meet you out there when you're done."

There's a brief but awkward silence. "So uh … we're looking for a ship, right? Could you run the details by me one more time? I've brought some material with me, but there are a lot of possibilities, and we'll need to narrow them down. Do you have any leads?"

Seb is left entirely unable to order anything, frowning atafter 'Slim Tim'

Bliss widens her eyes. "You are -not- fat," she says. "And that was not very nice at all," she says.

"Thank you Francesca. I can," she says, repeating the details again. She shows the map. "Well," she says. "We've got some ideas for where we are looking," she says. "There are three ships involved, and we have heard about a wreck involving around fifty, or perhaps a little more, deaths. We have heard three stories, which we are not sure about…one about a Royal Navy ship, the HMS Infedagitable, a Dutch ship with a story of betrayal over a woman, and a grounded Civil-War era ship," she explains. "Do any of those match up to this location? Or do you have any information on what the real story, for a wreck of that scale, for this location might be?" Bliss asks.
Bliss has reconnected.

Seb still looks dumbfounded at the waitstaff not even taking his order. He looks across at Bliss and Fran, stunned look on his face mouthing the words, "But my fokkin' gumbolaya."

Bliss responds to Seb with a little shrug, as if to suggest there is nothing she can do.

Fran looks at the map on the pocsec for a few seconds. "This is … a line? Are we looking for shipwrecks somewhere along this line?" she asks. She takes out her own pocket computer and lays it on the table. "There are a lot of rumors like that. I might need more information than that to really narrow it down. Do you have any idea what it was carrying, if it was a cargo vessel? Or what mission it was on? Or why it sank?"

Bliss repeats the details about the three possible ships, the one cargo mentioned, the two mutinies, and the story of the fight about the woman on the Dutch cargo ship carrying the gold. "That's all the information we have… along with the fifty or so deaths. And something about a lion, still watching over them." Bliss has no more to give.

"A lion?" Fran asks, suddenly thoughtful. "I can't really think of any historical navies that operated in this area that used a lion as part of their insignia. The insignia for certain European squadrons or ships certainly used that kind of symbology, though. I do feel like I saw something like that in the research I did before I came here." She starts rapidly flipping through pages. "What am I remembering?"

And then she stops. "Oh!" Her voice turns a little doubtful, then. "Maybe? So part of the problem is that we have no good idea about where a lot of these ships went down. In many cases, we just know they disappeared somewhere between their port of departure and their destination. We can narrow down the range with sightings by other ships, and we can make guesses based on severe weather, but it's often a really huge question mark. I grouped a lot of possibilities in the unlikely bucket, since I had such little supporting evidence for them. But with the details you've mentioned, maybe this is it? During the Revolutionary War, the French was one of a few powers that sent aid ships. Some carried weapons or other materiel. Others carried money, though, often gold. There was a smaller vessel carrying gold that was bound for New Orleans that never made it, the Laplace. And the ship's crest was this." She pulls up a picture and shows it to Bliss. It looks like European noble heraldry, and it very prominently features a lion. "That likely would've been on the ship's plaque. This ship was always assumed to have been lost in the open ocean, as records show severe storm conditions on the Atlantic when it was supposed to be making the crossing. And there were no reports of ships lost or British activity in the area around the time it should have been arriving. So, y'know, Occam's Razor. Could it have been mutiny? Gold is a powerful motivator, but the French navy was professional, so it seems unlikely. I think I have its planned route, though, somewhere here … "

She picks up Lex's pocsec, zooming in to a specific spot, then comparing it to her computer. "If we see where the two lines intersect, I think it's right here."

Bliss smiles. "Well, that certainly sounds interesting…and like it intersects with some of the rumors," she says. "Well. I wonder how the stories came about? Misinformation?" She shakes her head. "In any case, well…you say it wasn't very big," she says, thinking. "I suppose that means it's probably going to be something like…I don't know anything about ships, so I'm not going to pretend." Bliss smiles. "Thanks, Francine," she says. "Thanks very much indeed. Umm…" She looks back. "Lex?" she asks, glancing over to Seb. "Where did she go?" She smiles at Francine. "I was thinking…well…I'll be real with you. We're going to try to find it. Maybe we can try to bring you back the ship's bell as a thank you?" she suggests. A bell sounds good. Bliss thinks she's heard of that being a prized artifact before. Or something. Or maybe that will be grave robbing; Bliss isn't quite sure.

Seb shrugs back, pointing towards the back of the restaurant, "She went that way. Maybe there's a toilet back there or something? Blerrie, is that waiter never coming back? Fokkin' gat gabba, poes naai kak poes."

Bliss takes the chance to mark down the location in her own pocsec while she lets Francine consider - or Lex return, whichever one. No harm in duplicating the location of all the information, after all.

"I said it's Francesca!" Fran protests loudly. "It's not that complicated. Get it right." She's in control here, remember? She doesn't have to take shit from anybody, just like Slim Tim.

"And I do have something I need, as a matter of fact. It's not an unreasonable request, and Maria said that you all agreed to cooperate." At this point, it would be useful to know who Maria is, whether it's important to stay on her good side, and what Lex agreed to on everyone's behalf. But she's not here, so that's not readily available. "If you do find a wreck, take pictures, and also give me the exact location. I'm guessing you're not going to leave gold behind, but I'm not really interested in that. I'd like to see what artifacts can be recovered." Her smile twists into a sneering grin. "With a find like this, I'll finally be able to finish my thesis. Then I can use it to fuck that smug Professor Boseman in the ass. I won't be the crackpot anymore." Maybe she's feeling a little too in control of the situation.

Seb gives a little laugh at Francesca's outburst, she's going to fuck Professor Boseman in the ass and Seb seems to find that both worthy of respect and amusing. His stomach rumbles however and he starts frowning again. Then he stands up and looks around the restaurant before looking back to Bliss, "We got what we need ja? Time to scram?"

Bliss nods. "Yes, I think it's time we departed," she says over to Seb, before turning back to Francine with a small smile. "We shall happily do it your way, and share with you what information we are able to get," she says, falling back a little on her more prim speech from ol' MIT&M. "If nobody's been there to disturb it, I'm sure there might be some interesting finds. If you'll excuse us?" she asks.

The team reconvenes outside the restaurant. They've got an actionable lead now, at least. The next thing they'll need to worry about is gear. They decide they're not willing to spend the time needed to consult a fixer and wait for him to procure supplies on the black market, so they decide to just use one of Bliss's fake SIN's to do some shopping.

Lex seems to know a dive shop on the way back to the marina, and after a not terribly long ride, an autocab dumps them out front. You're not quite on the coastthis place is a little too low rent for thatbut you can smell the sea from here.

Bliss considers. "Hey Lex…uh…why don't I just roll in, bat my eyes, and rent some gear on my CalFree tourist SIN?" she asks. "Plus, I don't need any of that fancy stuff. I can breathe underwater." She considers. "Though you know, a set of some ultrasound goggles would be cool." She looks up at the dive shop. "Do you want to send me in alone with a shopping list, or do you guys want to come in?" she asks.

Seb grumbles about food for most of the ride, and generally under his breath, but loud enough at least once for everyone to find out that he's "Fokkin' starving worse than an elf in a steakhouse." At the dive shop he's a lot of shrugs, "I could use anything you reckon I'll need boss," is his line to Lex, who he presumes knows more about diving than him.

"If it's all the same to you guys, I've got a shopping list for everyone. Nothing too expensive," Lex says. Her tone is matter-of-fact but not overly pushy. "I'll need to use your CFS SIN, Bliss, but I can pay for the basic stuff for everyone. You guys can pay me back if this job ends up being profitable. Even if you can breathe underwater using magic, you'll need a few other items anyway. And it might be useful to have a non-magical backup, maybe. I'm not really sure how your stuff works. In the grand scheme of how much money we can make doing these kinds of jobs, this kind of kit is nothing." She looks around at the others. "Is that agreeable to you guys?"

Bliss makes a shrug. "You're the captain," she says. "You seem to feel pretty strongly about this, and you're the one with diving experience," she says. "I mean, I've only practiced my stuff in hotel bathtubs, after all. It works, and Mama says I can trust it, but hey." She grins. "I'll come in also if you don't mind, there might some some great stuff in there. Plus, I had an ex who told me I'd look fantastic in a wetsuit."

Seb shrugs and nods, throwing out his big grin like he has no cares, "Sounds top to me boss, I've never really done any diving before so that'll be fun." He also seems like he's coming in, maybe just to browse and look aroun but he seems to notice that might not be what is expected, "You want me to hang back here? Keep an eye on things outside?"

"No, you're coming inside. You're trying on a wetsuit, marine," Lex replies casually. "Shall we?"

Seb :shrugs easily again, nothing really gets to him, "Sure thing boss." He breathes in and opens his mouth as if to add more, but then shakes his head and lets it go, falling in behind Lex.

Bliss arches an eyebrow as she looks around the shop. "Wow, some of this is really great stuff," she says, picking out a pair of rather stylish dive goggles. She puts them on. "Wow! Rated for a thousand meters? I'm sure that's nonsense," she says. "I doubt my bones would hold up." She puts them on, and reaches up to adjust them. "Hmm, nifty. Optical auto-focus. Actually, I can think of some other uses for this…" She heads over and simply picks up the most expensive model, with built-in ultra-sound. "Hey there," she says. "Can you show me what else I'll need to make these works?" she asks. "And I guess we all need to be fitted for wetsuits too." She hums, apparently rather happy when shopping.

«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls 4 vs TN 3 for "Bliss SIN check vs Rating 3":
1 3 5 5 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls 3 vs TN 4 for "SIN Check Rating 3 vs Bliss SIN":
2 3 7 = 1 Success
«Plot» Bliss says, "No SIN complications."

The shopping takes a bit of time. And Lex's shopping list ends up being a little bit more expensive than she advertised. Luckily, she's paying for it, at least for now. She apparently had a fair bit of nuyen on hand from previous jobs. Bliss also gets some very expensive toys while Lex is piling up supplies near the register. One can only hope that this all ends up being useful.

It's a bit of work to cram it all into an autocab, and it's much more painful to actually schlep it all back to the boat. But you eventually arrive, albeit sweaty and tired and a bit sore. Luckily, Seb's personal gear was already locked up aboardship, so there's no need to make a second trip for that.

Soon enough, the diving gear is all stowed, and you're steaming toward the coordinates the team gleaned from their various investigations. The Silver Witch sure can move, the boat slowly accelerating to about 40 knots. It's not long before the marina is distant behind you. "So, uh … " Lex begins. "I hope nobody minds, but the price of that meeting with Fran was me owing one of my contacts a favor. She's my most frequent employer, by a pretty big margin, so she's kinda the source of the cash that has kept me running until now. I agreed to that, so the favor is my problem. But she does want to meet all of you, if you're OK with that? Not today, obviously, but it might be worth it. She's one of the biggest gun runners along this smuggling route."

Seb, despite the near-constant stream of muttered swearing, spoken swearing and even the occasional shouted curse, is happy to move stuff around and pack it on board. While racism is bad, orks do have generally stronger and wider backs and he doesn't seem to mind the implication. Once at sea he spends his time looking for something to do on board, he's a sailor at heart and definitely looks to be enjoying this aspect. "Fok me is good to be back on the sea eh?" He comments when he's near Lex, and then, "Don't fokkin' bother me to meet some gun runner. You need us to gatkruip or what?"
Bliss does her part, making sure to pick up extra light items, like the masks, and 'help' load them on board as well. "That sounds interesting, to say the least," she says. "Shango's always fond of a little firepower," she comments, rather uselessly. She's wearing her goggles at the moment, playing with her new toy, and making herself a nuisance by laser pointing Seb in the buttocks whenever possible, and sweeping everything with ultrasound.

Seb isn't sure he can tell when he's getting lasered in the arse, so he doesn't react. There's no cats on board, right?

Lex doesn't really need to do much, with Autonav doing the work for her. She occasionally checks sensors, and that's about it.

"I'm not sure what gatkruip means, but I'll be right back. We've got about a half-hour to kill before we get there, at this speed," she says, heading below. She returns with an armful of supplies. "Some of this kit might be useful for you, if you want it. Water will pull heat away from you a lot faster than air, so I'd wear a wetsuit to stay warm. Fins will help you move around a lot better. A diving belt and vest will help regulate your buoyancy, to keep it neutral. The belt is just weight, and the vest will inflate as needed. I can explain more once we hit the water."

"If I remember what I was seeing last time, this dive is probably gonna be over 100 meters down. Are you confident in your magic keeping you safe? I don't really want to second guess you, but I am a little worried." She certainly sounds it.

Bliss gives a shrug. "I had my Mama set me up with a focus before coming here, as she suggested it," she says. "What that lets me do is to let the orichalcum keep the spell running, instead of me." She at least is smart enough not to say what the focus is. "So, I'm reasonably confident of it," she says. "I'll certainly wear the wetsuit, though, I suppose." She doesn't relish the idea of being cold. "There's only one way to find out, Lex." She considers. "However, if we do meet someone…or something…down there, I suppose there's no harm in wearing the gear, to look like a normal diver. In the trideo games, they always advise that you…uh…'geek the mage?"

Seb replies before Lex goes below, "Means like an arse creeper, ja? Like uh, brown nosing." He wanders off while Lex is below, enjoying the fresh air and weather above decks. At the offering of diving kit Seb seems curious, "You wanting us to get into this gear now boss? Whatcha gonna do, throw a rope over and tow us behind while we practice?" He doesn't actually seem to think that's a bad idea.

«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Sorcery + Spell Pool: 6 vs TN 4 for "Oxygenate F1":
1 2 2 3 3 3 3 4 4 5 11 16 = 5 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Willpower vs TN 3 for "Soaking L drain":
2 3 3 4 7 8 = 5 Successes
«Plot» Bliss says, "Oxygenate F1 5 successes sustained on F1 focus."

"Nah, man. Learning this stuff is kinda a little more involved than that. It's not hard to get used to fins, especially since she won't be swimming all the way down there. It's also not hard to learn how to use a belt or vest. But actually breathing underwater using SCUBA gear has its risks, and I'd rather you learn first. I do plan on teaching you this stuff eventually, if you don't mind learning," Lex says.

"Today, though, you've got a different job. Here's the thing. Radio, and really a lot of EM radiation beyond that, has next to no transmission distance underwater. That means no comms and no remote control networks without an optical tether. And tethers can be a bit finicky underwater. It's not unheard of for tethers to get damaged under any significant force. This is especially true if something bad happens up here, requiring us to move the boat. And I don't think our mambo knows how to pilot Flipper just yet, if it comes down to that, and I also don't want her stranded. So I'm probably going down with her, and you won't really have comms beyond what I send you over the RCD."

She continues. "The Gulf is kinda a lawless place too. CASCG and the CASN do deter pirates, but there are also smaller raider gangs. You've probably seen that. And part of the problem with looking like an unarmed civilian vessel, to fool law enforcement, is that the wrong people assume you are one too. So if the wrong kind of people come knocking, you're going to be up here to light them up. That's your skillset, right? There's a ring mount up on the fly deck, by the way, if you know how to use one."

She heads back into the main cabin for a bit. "I've got an overwatch drone for beyond the horizon stuff. You should see any contacts on the screen in the cabin. Just don't shoot the wrong people."

Seb pays attention to Lex, and his reaction might be the first time his generally unflappable demeanour slips slightly, "Ah right, I'm pulling guard duty. Fair enough boss." His tone sounds like he considers it to be a pretty lame duty, but it doesn't take him long to cheer back up, "I can get out the valiant and set 'er up on the ring mount. Shouldn't have too much trouble keeping any kerels off us." He heads off indeed to do just that, unpacking his lmg and getting it situated up on the ring mount, loading up a belt of EX-Ex ammo to it. "I don't have any special bullets for dealing with boats like."

Bliss shrugs. "You're right, Lex. This does sound kind of dangerous," she says. "And I don't really know how to use any of this stuff. It makes me wonder if I shouldn't go down for a look in another form, and then come down to help you after we've scouted the place," she says. "Now, there's two alternate ways that I could check things out, which I suppose I haven't mentioned before," she says, a little more seriously. "First, we were told this is in the domain of Ghede. I could ask a spirit if we're in the right place. After that, I could go down there with just my spirit, and see if there's anything at all to worry about in that sense. Next, I can…well, I can turn myself into a seal, and have a look. I should be able to hold my breath for thirty minutes, without any problem, and there won't be any pressure or anything else to worry about. Then, after that, perhaps we go down." She shrugs. "Or we do some mix and match of the above, Lex. It's up to you what makes the most sense. Like I said, I don't have any experience with any of this."

"A seal? For real?" Lex asks. "That's ace, dude. I honestly do want to see that." A second later, you can hear the motors driving one of the drone decks. Two panels flush against the top of the prow swing open, and a small drone miniblip silently rises into the air, the bay closing a second later. She exits the cabin once that's accomplished. "The spirit thing is astral stuff, right? I've read a bit about that on the Nexus. I saw how good your spirits could search too. I'm thinking some of that will probably come in handy for drilling down on the final location of the wreck. It will probably be a lot faster than running a search grid using Flipper, anyway, which is what I usually have to do when I'm solo."

It's about then that she notices Seb, holding out her hands. "Whoa, whoa, whoa! Not yet. We don't want to spook any Navy or Coast Guard or civilian vessels that approach by mounting heavy weapons. Can't you throw it up pretty quick if you need it? Just keep it covered until then."

Seb spins around from inside the ring mount, leaving the lmb tipped up and pointing skywards, "What?" Like the idea of keeping a firearm hidden is completely alien to him, which being Navy would be, and all the big ships he's been working didn't care about having small arms on display. "Heavy weapons? Have you got a twenty rapidfire mounted on here somewhere?" He looks around, like he's looking for the naval class autocannon he just referred to which he must clearly know doesn't exist. Eventually he gives up his act and sighs, "Alright boss, your call." With that he takes the Valiant down, and stashes it under the ring mount, ready to just be picked up and dropped into the mounting. He sits down when he does, and goes through some basic checks, making sure everything is clean. Eventually everyone hears him manually run the action a couple of times and then reappear.

Several minutes pass of explanation and banter, and then the Silver Witch finally starts to slow, eventually coming to a full stop.

Bliss chuckles a bit. "I think that it pretty heavy to Lex," she says, pointing to the submachine gun. "Are you all suited and booted?" she asks of Seb, before turning back to Lex. "I mean…it won't be a /real/ seal, it'll be me, with the body of a seal. And the physiology, completely, and it'll be as natural for me to hold my breath and swim as it would be for her." She nods. "That's right, it's astral stuff. It can be useful," she says. "All right, then," she says. "I suppose we'll start off with seal time?" she asks. "It'll also be a good way for me to see how you do your diving procedure. From the outside. With…you know. Seal eyes." And so, casually, she starts to strip down, first the jacket, and then her little top, and then she unlaces and kicks off her All-Stars, then it's out of the jeans, and then, yes, it's out of the underwear as well, leaving it in a pile and standing rather unabashed. "All right, then, she says, holding her nose and then just jumping into the water, tucking her legs a bit, not quite cannonballing. She goes under.

«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Sorcery + Spell Pool: 3 vs TN 4 for "Threshold: 4":
2 3 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 = 5 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Willpower + Spell Pool: 3 vs TN 5 for "M Drain":
1 2 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 = 1 Success
«Plot» Bliss says, "Fetish cast. Actually, that was 5 successes. Fully drained."

Just a moment later, a honey blonde seal bobs her whiskered, bright-eyed head above the water, waiting.

She is wearing the same three necklaces that Bliss had, obviously a little tighter around her seal neck.

Seb is by now on the roof or something, climbing around, getting to know the boat. Plus it's higher up for looking out for things on the horizon, which is his job now and he appears to at least take it seriously, even if he was disappointed about it. Still, Bliss' performance draws some interest from him, because magic? But then she also gets naked and he was not prepared for that, "Blerrie, I think I like magic if that's how it's done."

"Is that you, Bliss?" Lex leans over toward the seal. Her eyes go wide, her mouth open, as she spots the charms. "Oh, frag! It is, isn't it?"

Seb wasn't exactly paying attention to the conversations about changing into a seal or various other diving options, because he was busy, so he looks at Lex like she's an idiot. "The fok are you talkin' about? That's a seal." His tone of voice is like, that is the most obvious seal anybody could ever see.

"It's her!" Lex says, pointing at Bliss as she turns toward Seb. "She presto-changeo'd into that thing!" That's probably not the technical term they teach people at MITT. Then she holds out both hands toward Bliss, as if pointing more will make it more believable.

The seal is not capable of speech, but she can give a little dip of her head, and then she lets out a soft bark to Lex. Bark!

Seb frowns down at the seal, and then notes that Bliss has not resurfaced, and so he turns around, looking all around the boat for Bliss. "You're pulling my leg, where is she? Did you hide a tank under the boat for her to breathe?"

The seal swims back a little bit so that the charms can clearly be seen. She barks twice at Seb, somewhat contemptuously.

Seb is distracted from horizon scanning by this strange seal. "Wassit want?" He asks, Lex, being the only other person currently present.

The seal goes under water, and a moment later Bliss appears, popping her head up, and then she paddles over to the ladder up to the Silver Witch's deck, looking for a towel to dry off before she starts to get back into her clothes. "Well," she says. "At least you saw it could be done."

She considers a moment. "All right. I suppose since we were told we should be in the domain of Ghede, we should be able to find out very quickly." She closes her eyes, and then, simply, after a moment, snaps her fingers.

«Plot» Bliss says, "Summoning Force 4 loa of Ghede."

«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Conjuring vs TN 4:
3 3 5 5 9 11 = 4 Successes

«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Charisma vs TN 4 for "Drain":
3 3 3 3 4 9 11 11 = 4 Successes

«Plot» Bliss says, "Soaked. A loa of Ghede appears!"

Bliss smiles as she turns to talk to nobody there. "Great Lord of the Dead, Honoured head of the House of Ghede, you have my eternal gratidude for making yourself apparent to us, Baron Samede. This humble servant request you tell us if we are where we seek. I was told by a loa spirit of the great Lord Agwe that what I seek - that of the vision my Mama in Denver gave me…should be here. Have we found what we seek?" she asks.

She nods for a moment, and then she bows to nothing. "My greatest thanks, Lord. Be well." She chuckles. "Hey! That's well, okay, that's a good one." She turns to Seb. "He tells me to tell you that you need to put that tusk in a pencil sharpener." She shakes her head. She pauses. "And he told me that what we seek…is beneath these very waves."

Seb throws an arm up and catches it with his other in a universally rude gesture, "Yeah? Well tell him this way is better for eating poes." How shockingly vulgar.

The Loa spirit tells Bliss that she's very close. It's about 500 meters to the northeast, give or take, and then straight down from there.

Bliss sits down, legs folded, after releasing the spirit of Ghede with her deep thanks, and chuckling a little bit at the altercation between him and Seb.

She pulls out her pipe, takes a hit with her lighter, and then leans back against the bulkhead, eyes closing as she enters her trace.

Astral-Bliss hops on out, and then dives into the water, unseen by any of the others…and rather quickly heads down about 500 meters, diving her way through the purple. And looking out for any risky sights. And any terrifying lion spirits that might be guarding things, based on her earlier hints.

Heading into the astral reuslts in an immediate rush of color. Around Bliss's body, the Silver Witch looks dull and gray, devoid of color. The images and writing on screens and labels disappear, replaced mostly by smears of color and unintelligible scribbles, and the few words you do know to look for specifically aren't what they used to be. The "Silver Witch" written on the hull is now a colorful image that evokes a feeling of adventure and danger, but not much more. Next to her body, which she's now watching from outside herself, are Lex and Seb. Lex is normally the colorful one, and her aura does tend toward blues and greens and purples in much the same way, but it's much more muted and drab. That's likely due to all of her ware. Seb's aura flares much more brightly, probably due to him being awakened, with the exception of his cyberarm, which is a much more toned down version of the same color. Their emotions and thoughts also serve to change their auras.

Around her, though, beyond the boat, the world glows. The natural Earth generally glows bright enough to illuminate the Astralsomething she is probably aware of from her earlier travelsbut the ocean glows even brighter, illuminating everything around her, casting its warm glow even on the otherwise dull gray of the ship.

She can't see through it, though, and so she zips about 500 meters to the northeast, per the spirit's instructions. And then she slowly starts to dive. Those first few meters are like diving into light. She might or might not know why, but around her on the surface of the Gulf is a soup of life, both big and microscopic, and all of that churns together into one big light. She keeps diving, though, meters after meter, until the glow around her starts to dim, and then eventually fade away. Once she's about twenty meters down, things clear up. And from here, she can essentially see straight to the bottom. The physical factors don't count here, after all. The lack of light from depth, the refractive index of the water, and the light silt content don't cloud her vision much. She can see straight down. Here she can see faint, dancing clouds of light that are likely blooms of algae or blanket. And the odd fish that lives in this marine layer. And way down below her, several hundred meters down, she can see another pale glow, one that she recognizes. That's the surface of the Earth, the bottom of the sea floor here.

Slightly off to her side, not quite straight down but fairly close, something else is visible. It's shimmering and foggy, and she can't quite see through it. It's the only notable astral feature around here, as well as the only one that looks out of place. If she's trained enough, she might recognize that as being the result of a background count.

«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Magic Background:
1 1 1 3 9 9

Bliss heads on towards the source of the background count, because that's what's up. She doesn't see anything, really, outside of it, so she does some zip-look, zip-look, to see if anything is emerging from or entering the background cloud. She shrugs, thinks to herself, gotta have a look-see, and she considers. Time for a little advice here. She recalls that spirit of Ghede, and asks him to go have a look inside - after all, loa can do anything the 'watchers' that the more traditional shaman would always blab about, but then they can have a conversation with you afterwards. She gets the impression she doesn't want to get direct information about what's going on in there - but rather, she wants it second hand, becuase she's got a suspicion that if she went in there herself she'd be treated to INSTANT OH MY GOD SCREAM SKULL
A loa spirit can use its powers to benefit its summoner while remaining in astral form. The houngan can also ask the spirit to perform any task a watcher can perform. The only other service a loa spirit can perform is possession.

Loa spirits can manifest their astral form on the physical plane in the same manner as astrally projecting magicians. They use Force for all Attributes."

The Loa spirit vanishes briefly as it journies toward the cloud. It returns a few moments later. "There are no dangers in that place that I could see."

Bliss showers the spirit with obseqious gratitude, and then dives into the background count area to have a look around for herself.

It's funky in here. Nearly 250 years have passed, according to the information you got from Francesca, so you wouldn't expect much in the way of surviving organic wreckage. But different combinations of depth, salinity, and underwater currents have a way of either preserving or obliterating certain wrecks. And more of the Laplace has survived than one might think. It's not really in one piece, for sure, but chunks of the superstructure are scattered around here, and you can clearly see big pieces of the keel along the ground.

One can also see how modern SONAR, with all of its depth and resolution, could have missed this. Beyond the fact that it's likely below a thermocline, shield it from surface SONAR, it's also nestled in what seems like a slight depression, with elevated terrain around it.

On the astral, this place is suffused by a thick purple miasma, with the only the faint green lights of kelp growths peeking through. You can feel a powerful psychic imprint around you too. Emotions fill you. Anger, greed, betrayal. Something did happen here that left a signature that lasts to this day. You don't normally see signatures last 250 years without it being a very powerful event, but you never know. There is something else, though, which maybe one might not have expected. Within this same depression, not too far from the Laplace, is a much more preserved piece of ship. This piece is a mostly intact hull of steel and titanium and composites, that of a vessel about the size of the Witch. There's an even more powerful signature within. What are the odds of two shipwrecks in the exact same place?

Bliss has a hunch, and she moves in to take a closer look at the second vessel. More specifically: is it a sunken submarine? She considers a bit - the possibilty seems quite strong of what she's suspecting. The story has repeated itself twice. Mutiny, theft, and death. Then, again, hundreds of years later. A recovery operation. A prize. Mutiny, theft, and death. She also starts to look around the Lapland, looking for any evidence of recent damage, shadowy marks, indications of a recovery operation - one that might have already taken a prize away, a prize she suspects is in the second wreck now.

It's hard to tell exactly what is present or not. You do see objects, but everything here has a strong enough aura that it's not super easy to make out what's what. It's also hard to tell if something is "missing." Anything not present could just as easily be buried under centuries of sedimentation or have been scattered over a long distance when the ship went down. There also aren't obvious signs of excavation, but this second ship looks like it has been down here for at least a few years. Erosion might have smoothed some of that out.

Having got enough, Bliss zips her way back up to the Sea Witch, and reinhabits her body, which, of course, reaches for the bowl first, and takes a puff.

"Two ships down there. The Laplace, for certain, and also something much newer," she says. "I got the same impressions down there, twice over. Betrayal. Greed. Theft. Death," she says. "I think there was a mutiny over the gold, from what I felt. And I think that history repeated itself. There was a recovery operation. A betrayal, or mutiny. And the salvagers joined the wreck," Bliss says. "I think our prize will be in the newer ship. We can of course take a lot of photos for Francine," she explains. "But let's get everything we can out of the newer ship," she says, thoughtfully. "Lex. Is there any way to raise a ship the size of this? About a hundred and fifty meters down. Inflatables? Foam? Anything?"

Seb has of course been spending his time whistling terribly out of tune, wandering around the ship, checking his lmg still exists. Wandering around the ship some more. Chewing on something that is clearly not intended for metahuman consumption, and whistling, always badly. This is guard duty for Seb, he is at least looking in various directions.

Lex is sitting on the side of the boat, swinging her legs. She pops up, though, when Bliss finally returns. "A second wreck?" Lex asks, suddenly thoughtful. "That's a crazy story. I wonder how that went down." She pauses at the question asked of her, though, seeming surprised to be asked that. "And sure. There are a lot of ways to raise a wreck. You'd need to know how structurally sound it is, though, to avoid it breaking apart again on the way up. And you'd need the right gear. You also often need a way bigger ship to really mount a salvage like that. Why bother, though?"

Bliss's answer is simple. "Because there might be a lot of great stuff there. Not just what they were trying to recover," she says. "Think of the gear. What if they have drones? Tools on board? Electronic equipment? High-end stuff? It looked like it was a pretty impressive boat. And pretty modern, too. It can't have been down there more than fifteen years, it looked like. Not less than five, though." Bliss might be wrong - she might be letting a little greed and excitement get to her.

Seb ponders, "If we could make it seaworthy again, like, if it just has little holes in it, we could patch 'er up and maybe tow her back to shore? Must be decent cred in scrap if it's not worth selling eh?" That's Sebs thoughts on salvage.

Lex thinks on that, sounding a little torn. "Mayyyybe? My initial guess, though, is maybe not. If this ship were on the bottom for even five years, most of the seals would have failed under pressure, and just about everything worth salvaging would be a write off. I mean, there are a lot of things you can sorta get working again after they become waterlogged, but it's often not really worth the risk with prolonged corrosion. That's especially true if you push parts to their performance envelope, which I do a lot. We'd probably be hauling it up just to scrap it, and it wouldn't be worth the cost. There might be a drybox in there worth bringing up, just to check it out? But I'd just as soon leave the ship itself alone. I'd need to take a look to get a better idea of what's possible, though. Lemme start getting things ready, actually.

Lex heads back into the main cabin, and you can hear the same sound of motors winding once more as she emerges, a few seconds later. "I always like this part." Just below the aft platform, you can hear a hiss and a sound of rushing water. It sounds like another drone bay, but this one seems to be just below the ship's water line. A second later, you can see something gliding out from the stern of the ship, floating to the surface a half-second later. It looks flat, at least until two seats fold up. In front of one of the seats is an array of controls, including two three-axis control sticks. "Ladies and gentleman, this is Flipper. She's a Proteus AG Porpoise sea sled. I worked with modified variants of these a lot, back when I was a wageslave. 500 meter max depth, souped-up electric impeller drive, max range of almost 50 kilometers, and a Suncell system for back-up power, just in case I need to use it as a long range ditch vehicle. Cargo capacity of over 400 kilograms, on top of passenger weight. Two seats only, but she has six hand holds, and the back platform has enough space to hold a few people sitting down. This is how I actually get heavier salvage back to the surface." She sounds pretty proud, actually, looking at Bliss and Seb and maybe hoping for praise.

"Oh, right. Let me get my gear." She disappears into the cabin again.

Seb nods his head approvingly at the little sub, ride on thing. He's not an underwater guy, "That's pretty kief boss. You do a lot of this wreck searching, finding treasure stuff?" He's still stood up on the roof of the boat, keeping a casual eye out while Lex and Bliss get their diving set up. "We got comms while you're under boss?" He calls down, "Or did you say no comms no tether? Can you show me those sensors you were talking about before you get your cozzie on?"

"Wow!" Bliss looks jealous for a moment. "That's even cooler than my trick with the seal," she says, enviously. "All right," she says. "So for the first one," she says, thoughtfully. "I don't know. These air tanks were expensive, and if none of us are going to use them, well, maybe we can return them, if they're unused. I think I saw you with the receipts," she says. "There's no one else down there, for sure, and so I think it'll make sense maybe to do without? You don't need yours, Lex, and…" She shrugs. "I don't know."

She smiles. "All right. Let me get my mask and my suit on, at least." She considers. "I'd also like to spend a little time preparing. I don't know what we might run into while we're under there, and I'd like Shango's aid. Just in case," she says.

«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Conjuring vs TN 7 for "Spirit of Shango":
1 2 5 5 8 13 = 2 Successes
«Plot» Bliss says, "Shango Spirit, two services. Now for drain:"
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Charisma vs TN 7 for "M Drain":
1 1 2 2 2 3 4 4 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Body vs TN 4 for "Drain recovery":
3 3 3 4 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Body vs TN 3 for "Drain recovery":
1 1 2 11 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Body vs TN 3 for "Drain recovery":
1 2 4 7 = 2 Successes

«Plot» Bliss says, "60, 60, 30. 2 and a half hours until Bliss is ready."

There's a long time waiting. A long time. Two and a half hours later, with considerable smell from her pipe, and with a lot of ska music played around Bliss's beanbag, she emerges, finally refreshed. "Okay, I'm ready," she says, putting on wetsuit, fins, compensator belt with weights, and mask. "Shango will be with us if we need him," she says.

«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Sorcery + 6 vs TN 4 for "Oxygenate F1":
1 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 8 10 = 5 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Willpower vs TN 2 for "Oxygenate drain":
1 3 3 3 5 9 = 5 Successes

«Plot» Bliss says, "Fully drained."
«Plot» Bliss says, "F7 loa of Shango bound, 2 services."

"Blerrie hell you took your time in there stukkie. What were you doing in there? Carving a new pipe?" That's Seb from wherever he's managed to end up now, having been walking around endlessly to keep busy. Guard duty is hopefully boring.

Bliss shakes her head. "I told you what I was doing. I was begging Shango for aid. That took a lot out of me, so I needed a couple bowls and a little time with my music," she says, checking to make sure her wetsuit is properly secured. She avoids the mask, remembering that she got those fancy underwater goggles. The fins go on, then the compensator and belt. Now she's ready to climb aboard Flipper.

Seb sniffs and shrugs his shoulders like begging Shango for aid doesn't really mean anything to him, but whose to say Bliss is even looking. He doesn't raise a fuss at all, "Does it hurt then? Being a mambo? Mine doesn't hurt, or hasn't yet anyway."

Lex has been using the time to acquaint Seb with the ship's systems. The GMC Riverine was originally designed as a patrol boat. The civilian version, which this is, definitely feels a little more like a small civilian yacht in places. It's not quite there, though, with the decor generally being way more spartan, and with some bits of design that might remind Seb of more security-oriented vessels. To one side of the main cabin is a large table display that seems to show both navigational and sensor data, and it's fairly reminiscent of larger and more sophisticated versions he might have seen in the military.

"So the helm is there," she begins, pointing to the controls. They're literally five feet away. This is not a huge space. "For kinda obvious reasons, there are no weapons controls out in the open, but this ship does have weapons beyond the ring mount. You need to jack in and access a hidden submenu to reach them. This is the navigation and sensor display. I've upgraded the sensors, so they have a really long reach, but the horizon is only so far. I'm still working on networked sensor integration, but you can switch to Bluebird's display here." She pushes a button, and the range of the sensors expands a fair bit. "Bluebird's sensors are much less sophisticated, but they end up with way higher range due to the elevation it loiters at."

She goes through the basics of the helm, the weapons, the sensors, and just about everything else. Eventually, they run out of things to talk about, and so she again ends up waiting on the dive platform, sitting with her legs hanging over the edge. When Bliss finally emerges, the sun is setting. "Oh, welcome back! Are you OK with a night dive? It's going to be absolutely pitch black down there. Or do you want to try again tomorrow?"

Bliss holds up her handheld emitter, and taps her goggles. "If you're okay with it, I suppose I am," she says. "I mean, I don't have so much experience, but I'll be with you, right? Plus, the salesman said these goggles work really well…it'll be like I'll have my own sonar map! He did tell me to watch out in case the sound made dolphins amorous, though." She shrugs. "If you're okay with going down, I think I am too."

"It's not ideal, honestly," Lex replies nonchalantly. "Night diving is a different kind of experience, and I'd honestly be fired for taking you out right now as your first experience, if I were a pro instructor. Luckily, that's not the case, and since you can breathe underwater, I think you'll be OK. In the future, it might be better for you to prepare earlier. But by the same token, I could have arranged things better, so that we started out early. In fact, I probably shouldn't have pushed my luck by trying to do this all in a day. That was a bigger mistake. We should have left in the early AM. I didn't know it could take so long to recover from summoning a spirit, but I should have been smart enough to leave a cushion for contingencies. Cutting things to wire as a diver is generally a sign of poor judgement."

She grins. "So! Learning experience for both of us, right?"

She grabs the railing on the dive platform, stepping onto the sea sled. "Oooh! It's gonna be a bit cold, just to warn you. What's gonna happen is that your body will warm up the layer of water in your wetsuit, and that will serve as a pretty good insulating layer. You should be fine after that. If it's really cold, there are warmer suits out there, which we can get you for next time. It's also gonna pretty dark. Like you won't be able to see much of anything beyond what your dive light illuminates, and it will be hard to keep your bearings. Try not to get disoriented, and don't make sudden moves. Ultrasound will also be good, but it only has so much range. Just follow my lead, and we should be OK." She holds out a hand to help Bliss onto the sled.

Seb by this point has given up pacing around high up, and is inside looking at sensors instead, they're going to be more reliable than the Mk1 eyeball in at this point in the day. "Alright boss, we'll be waiting right here for you when you get back," he says, in an attempt to be reassuring.

Bliss waits until Lex is done. "Yeah. Sure is a learning experience. Let's just get this done so I can head back to Denver and deliver," she replies. She says nothing more, moving to follow down onto the sea sled.

GM Note: 1 - Nothing, 2/3 - Civilian Encounter, 4/5 - Raider Attack, 6-11 - Pirate Attack, 12+ - CASCG

«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls 1 for "Secret Encounter Roll":
5

Lex straps in, giving Bliss a second to do the same, before finally lowering her mask and giving Seb a quick thumbs-up. The sled slowly descends beneath the water, inching at first, but then speeding up once the impellers are fully submerged and get proper "traction" to kick into full power.

The descent isn't particularly quick, but it doesn't take long before it starts to get dark. First, the lights of the Witch slowly fade. Then, the final twilight glow of the sunset gives away. Finally, it's just pitch black darkness around them. Bliss can see Lex's hands operating the controls, illuminated by the green and red glow of the panel, but nothing much beyond that. A few seconds later, though, a powerful set of flood lights kick in, illuminating in all directions, a few pointing nearly straight below. Nothing can be seen in that direction, though, not yet.

It's at least two minutes of descending before the sled's lights finally catch sight of the wreck below. Lex slowly moves the sled just enough away to set down without disturbing anything. She reaches under her seat and pulls out a pair of small, flat touch screen panels, using the lanyard to attach hers to her wrist. She hands one to Bliss. On her own, she draws something with a finger. Then she turns it toward Bliss. It simply reads, "Now what?"

Bliss has her handheld unit, with the ultrasound emitter. She turns on the laser and points it in the direction of where the Laplace rests. She indicates on her own touchscreen, "Francine first. Let's get some images of her wreck. From what I saw, I think a recovery operation had already at least started, most likely. Then I'll direct you to the newer ship." The laser beam is at least pretty useful to keep things oriented. For her part, now Bliss is perceiving astrally, so that she can make sure she sees the blob of feedback that is the zone of background count.

Lex has an underwater camera on hand. It's not a great one, closer to an amateur diver's camera than a pro setup. But this is more evidence than photography. She hands it to Bliss, thinking she has a better grasp on what to shoot than her, having already scouted the area and having the better vision setup. For her part, she simply unbuckles and floats out oher seat, starting to look around, seeming to be waiting for Bliss to take the lead.

Up above, Seb sees not a whole lot going on. It's dark, and a thin, crescent moon doesn't do much to light up the sea. He hears a beep from within the cabin while he waits, though. It's not really a familiar beep, since he doesn't actually know any of these sounds mean. Did Lex talk about this? Nope.

Seb makes his way inside the cabin, that's where sensors are, and there's a beep. He checks the readouts, flicking from boat sensors to drone sensors to see if there's a contact. Was that the beep?

Bubbles occasionally escape from Bliss' nose and mouth, but she doesn't seem to be actually breathing. The bubbles are small, too, like she's just occasionally letting out small bits of air. Her flippers move slowly - she's not a particularly strong swimmer, but she's reasonably graceful. Holding the camera in one hand and her penlight with another, she motions at Bliss, suggesting that she's going to need the light for the camera, and heads closer to the wreck, looking for individual artifacts to get on the film - at least making sure to get the shape of the ship, the ribs, looking towards what she thinks is the rear part of the boat, where any captain's cabin surely was.

She is particularly looking for signs of any prior salvage work - something she indicates to Lex on the shared comm units.

Seb sees a contact on Bluebird's sensors. It's not really much more than a dot on the map right now, and he can't really see more without directly accessing the sensors. There's no way to do that, though, at least no way that he was told about. Maybe there's something around here that can help?

It does seem to be moving fast, though, at least 40 knots. He can see that on the readout. It's not quite moving directly toward the Witch, but it is moving in this general direction. It's hard to tell what it is without looking.

«Auto-Judge[]» Seb (#13621) rolls Intelligence for "Ork good see":
1 2 4 4 9

«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls Intelligence:
3 3 4 5 5 14

«Plot» Seb says, "Take a quick look around the cabin, to see if Lex happens to have some binoculars."
«Plot» Lex says, "Item get! You find some binoculars lying on the console next to the helm."

Seb racks his brain to remember if Lex said anything about getting more details out of the sensors. He doesn't think so, and thus discards these as rigger specific trickery. With a quick look around he searches for binoculars, useful at sea, there's some on the console. Grabbing those he heads up to the ring mount to pop his head up and see if he can't identify the vessel visually. It turns out for him, perhaps the Mk2 ork eyeball is his best sensor.

Lex uses her dive light to shine where Bliss indicates, acting as her assistant as she takes pictures.

When she's asked about salvage, she starts to look around. Something seems to occur to her. She writes, "Wait 1 min," showing it to Bliss before she swims directly upward. Once she gets there, she starts to beckon for Bliss to join her up there.

Bliss moves to follow Lex, as indicated, assuming she's got any footage with the camera. If they're in range, she's done what she can, although she doesn't know what she's looking for herself, so her footage is likely haphazard. She follows Lex up to where she is.

Lex uses her dive light to shine where Bliss indicates, acting as her assistant as she takes pictures.

"How many photographs do you think we need?" she asks using her tablet.

Up above, Seb can see a ship moving fast. Kinda oddly, though, he can't /hear/ it. A ship moving that fast should be making a lot of noise. And he only knows to look for it because it was spotted on sensors. It has one fairly dim running light on, and he probably wouldn't have spotted it if he wasn't specifically looking for it.

It's not hard to tell that it's going to miss the Witch, probably by several hundred meters at least, passing aft of the ship, perpendicular to the line of the ship's keel.

It's hard to make out, but it looks like a civilian model speedboat. The Witch probably passed one or two on the way here, but this is the first ship in sight since it stopped here.

Seb kicks his booted foot out into the ready LMG to reassure himself it's still there, and keeps his eyes on the boat, watching it with a keen sense for any alterations in it's direction or speed. The Witch, being perfectly legitimate must of course have running lights on, so it doesn't get crashed into, so Seb is assuming that they will be seen, if they haven't been already.

«I don't know» replies Bliss on her tablet. «I think we wanted to make Francine happy enough, right? I know she was looking for artifacts. It'll take time, but this is the easy part. The dangerous part, at least it seemed to me, will be when we go towards the newer wreck. It also was, of course, after the Awakening» She considers a moment. «Maybe we can take the time to get what Francine needs first. That will at least be something of a win? It looks like the wreck is pretty decomposed, so if we can see anything…hmmm. Let me try something» Bliss uses her astral vision to see if there are any objects that shine brightly under the silt. It's possible that objects of great emotional importance might show up, even through a few layers of sediment. Then again, she may see nothing.»

«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Intelligence for "Perception":
1 1 2 4 8

This roll is to see if Seb spots the person examining the Witch on their binoculars.
«Auto-Judge[]» Seb (#13621) rolls Intelligence for "Ork so good see thermographc":
1 1 1 2 11

One can't really see much through the Earth, on the astral. It's a bit more porous than a regular astral barrier, but it's still a barrier, of sorts. It would take an especially powerful signature to shine through that, and Bliss doesn't see anything like that amidst the Laplace's wreck. With the benefit of astral sight, she does see a few smaller articles just barely poking through the silt, but they don't really look like much. If she were to look up close, she'd find that most of them are just shards of treated wood from the hull or bits of clay storage ware. Given the fairly preserved state of the wreck, the remarkable thing might be how much is missing.

Bliss does find one thing that sticks out like a sore thumb, though, as she look around. In a far corner, on the opposite side of the ship from her original astral survey, she sees an aura that does not really fit in with the rest of the Laplace. It instead matches the more powerful, more negative aura she of the other vessel. It's glowing that same much brighter purple, an emotional miasma about it that feels off and decidedly negative. Up close, it seems like a grid flag from a dig site, but it's the only one in sight. The ground around it is likewise very different. It's raised noticeably higher, perhaps several feet, that raised section continuing to slope upward away from the wreck, until it meets the rest of the sea floor. In that raised section, you can see a few larger artifacts sticking out of the mud, including what looks like the mouth of a cannon and maybe the edge of a cannonball next to it.

On the surface, the speedboat passes by without incident, continuing in the opposite direction. With his high-powered binoculars and thermographic vision, though, Seb can make out something quite distinct. If anything, the lack of bright (and thus hot) lights on the ship only makes it easier to see the details. There are a few people in that boat, and one of them happens to be standing and looking straight at the Witch with binoculars.

Seb locks binoculars with the person on the other boat, hoping that them seeing that they've been seen will be sufficient incentive not to try their luck today. He does worry a little about how quiet the other boat is. He's going to need to keep an eye on it to make sure they can't sneak back around with that quiet speed and outflank the Silver Witch.

The motorboat speeds up, disappearing over the horizon quickly enough. It's not clear if they saw Seb or not. He knows from experience that, looking at a ship with lights, it's really easy to see nothing /but/ the lights. This is doubly true at night.

Seb frowns as the other boat continues away, and being unsatisfied with just visual range, heads back down into the cabin to check the sensors again, flicking to the longer range sensors and trying to keep an eye on the boats heading.

The motorboat appears to have made a sharp turn at around 10 kilometers, just out of visual range, and then sped up. It seems to be holding that exact distance while it makes a slow circle around the Witch.

Seb has his suspicions confirmed, "These sneaky cock and balls think they're so fokkin' smart, just move out of sight and circle round. Well, not today fok heads." He knows his LMG is well within grabbing distance at the ring mount, so he sticks to the sensors, watching the blip, waiting for it to turn in towards the Silver Witch. Which he unfortunately can't move, because what would Lex and Bliss do? Nope, nothing to do but wait for these fraggers and give them a surprise when they get here

Bliss takes some pictures of the cannon itself, and of the grid flag, and the raised area. She records what she had seen, picks a few photo segments out of what looks good, so that she can show to Lex quickly, because she can't really understand it. She makes sure to get those pictures of the cannon and ball though, because that's really something, she thinks, Francine is going to see: incontrovertible evidence of a ship of a certain age, with something recoverable and displayable. She goes to report to Lex, and then motions to follow

«Going to take you to the second wreck. It seems they were trying to pull something up over there, if you want to have a look to let me know what was happening»

Lex follows Bliss as requested, taking a look around. She wanders a bit, looking closely at the cannonball, and then at the terrain. She returns to Bliss's side a little while later, but she looks really confused. That much is visible in her aura, even if it's not super easy to see her eyes through the mask. She spends a few long moments writing something on her tablet before showing it to Bliss.

"I'm a bit confused by everything too. A lot of the wreck looks both way more preserved and way more exposed than I would normally expect. It's like they dug it out, but I'm not sure how that would be possible. This section makes it seem like they didn't finish whatever they started, though," she says.

Bliss shrugs. «I think we've proved there are articles for Francine to find, and we have them on camera» she says - she peeks at the astral only a couple heartbeats at a time, so not to draw too much attention on that plane «So that raised area was planned to be dug out, and has not been yet.» She nods underwater, then goes back to the tablet. «Let's go investigate the other wreck.» She moves to lead Lex on to the more modern ship…the one that's making her heart race a little. Because of the signatures she saw there.

Astral perception is a little bit wonky and disorienting, at the best of times. When one is seeing things in the physical world, they're dealing with the full spectrum of physical stimuli. And while astral projecting, they're faced with the weird world that is auras and signatures, background counts and mana warps. Astral perception is all of that combined, all at once. And when one or both of those is a little overwhelming, it can be hard to deal with.

In the physical world, this wreck is disquieting and strange, simply by merit of being a vessel on the bottom of the sea, but is otherwise almost serene. The windows of this ship, strangely enough, are mostly intact. That's probably because they're reinforced ballistic panels, if one recognizes that. Sixth World boat mods. They're hard to see through, though, worn white by years of silty erosion, and partially coated with algae. The hull of the boat still has much of its original orange paint, treated as it was to resist saltwater corrosion. Up close, and in person, you can also now see the ship's name painted on its bow. This is the "Randy Dandy."

It's lying on its side, with its bow angled slightly upward. It looks slightly similar in layout to the Witch, though a lot is also different. It might be a much older model of Riverine, or maybe some similar vessel. There's a flybridge up top and a diving deck out back.

You can't really see a hole, though, to explain how it sunk. It might be on the side of the ship that is lying against the sea floor. The only visible means of ingress to the interior seems to be, well, the cabin door, which is currently shut. You'd need to swim down a bit, under the flybridge, and slightly upward through that door.

On the astral, though, up close, the negative vibes seem to pour into you. It's unpleasant. And that door is much worse. Something about it is all too creepy, but you can't really see clearly with the thickening background count around you.

Lex follows behind Bliss, shining her dive light ahead of them to light the way. As they get close, she angles it around slowly, trying to get a better look at the sunken vessel. She says nothing, just yet.

Up top, the other motorboat does exactly what Seb predicted. It has turned toward a direct intercept course with the Witch, but it has also slowed way down. It's now approaching off the starboard bow. That's a peculiar angle, but that's the one they've picked.

Seb notes the alteration of course on the other boat, via the sensors, and after a few moments of them holding a heading towards the Witch he again departs to the ring mount. Using the binoculars to scan in the direction this other boat is coming from, waiting to get visual on it and then watch it very carefully to see what it's doing.

Seb can just barely see them now. They're running totally dark. He can't hear much of anything, either. Their speed seems to be under 40 knots now, though it's not clear by how much up here. No visible mist trail or churn. The closer they get, though, the slower they're going. It seems like they're slowly decelerating. And still, he can't hear much of anything. At this rate, they'll probably intercept in around 10 minutes.

Bliss writes onto her tablet «Danger coming» she says. «We must be very careful. An angry spirit could cause terrible accidents».

She remembers her spirit of Ghede…and thinks of him. She begs his assistance - to see where the item she had a vision of came from. She dreads the answer, almost certain that spirit will just chuckle and point towards that door she is most decidedly not eager to go through.

The spirit just chuckles and points toward that door she is most decidedly not eager to go through.

Seb glances around the Witch briefly to see if he has a spotlight to hand which he can aim at the approaching boat and hopefully scare them off. Not finding anything like a spotlight he can aim he briefly considers his options. After around a minute or so of the boat continuing to approach the Witch he finally clears his LMG and drops it into the ring mount, securing it and checking the belt is still loaded correctly, then going back to watching the other boat through the binoculars.

Bliss looks back at Lex, takes a deep breath, and moves to head through the door, asking the spirit for one last service - to astrally overwatch and to warn her of any astral threats. She doesn't want to be perceiving herself, as she enters through the door.

Sometimes things are just well-preserved due to a combination of pressure, temperature, salinity, and ocean currents, as evidenced by remains of the Laplace. This is doubly true of the sealed interior of an armored boat. The moment Bliss opens the door, the partially mummified corpse of a human woman tumbles toward her, arm outstretched toward her.

Well, Bliss is not diving again without an underwater weapon, that's for sure. She was not prepared for this, and immediately starts to rocket towards the surface, needing 'out' right now. Right now. Right now!

Lex tries to grab Bliss, seeming to be trying to prevent her from ascending too fast.

«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Body vs TN 4:
4 4 8 11 = 4 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Body vs TN 4:
2 3 3 5 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Body vs TN 4:
4 4 4 5 = 4 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Body vs TN 4:
1 4 4 5 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Body vs TN 4:
2 2 4 5 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Body vs TN 4:
1 2 5 5 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Body vs TN 4:
3 3 3 4 = 1 Success

After a few seconds, the increasing pain in Bliss's ears drowns out the sudden fear, she reaches up, her hands going to her ears, shaking her head, and realizes where she is. It only takes a little bit of time for the pressure to equalize, and she calms down - at least she hadn't breathed in water. She sees the corpse floating beneath, and realizes it wasn't some terrible zombie…she starts to allow herself to sink again, slowly this time. She looks at Lex, apologetically, and writes on her tablet, 'Sorry.'
It seems Bliss is very much in the midst of panic, and is already kicking her legs to try to go upwards.

Lex just nods once in agreement. And then she spends a minute to write on her tablet, showing one sentence at a time. "It's OK." "That scared me to death too." "Be careful about ascending quickly." "It's very dangerous." "Want me to go first, or should I keep following?"

Up above, the boat is less than five minutes away. It's probably traveling at under 20 knots now, and it's showing no signs of course deviation.

Bliss shakes her head. «I can handle it» she says, wishing she could take a deep breath, but she cannot. She heads back to the door, taking an astral glance first, and then moves to enter.

Seb one point spins the Valiant around and lines it up with the incoming boat, getting his smartlink to sync with the firearm and acknowledge the vessel as a target, then reading out its range. At three kilometers it's well beyond Seb's engagement capabilities with this LMG, so he waits, watching them come in and cursing up a storm as they do, "These fokkers think they can just sneak in here and steal someones boat when they're asleep, fokkin' pirate gat gabbas."

The boat keeps approaching, staying dark and quiet. They don't really seem intent on coming in guns hot. 3 kilometers. 2 kilometers. 1 kilometer. Still nothing.

Seb keeps the LMG trained vaguely on the boat as it approaches the Witch, watching it as it patiently sneaks up on him. But of course, it's not actually sneaking up on him, because he's not a moron. "Good thing the boss hired me and not some moron," he even says to himself quietly. Eventually the other boat gets to within a range that Seb feels comfortable engaging them at, and he slips a hand onto the pistol grip then heaves in a breath and yells with all his lung capacity, "FOK OFF YOU DOOS NAAIER KAKKER POES!" Then he waits to see how they react.

It seems like verbal warnings aren't going to do it. The jig is up, and the boat kicks into high gear, trying to close the distance as quickly as possible. You can see them start to grab SMG's from under their seat cushions, arming up. The humans do, that is. The trog seems to be putting together something bigger. It's some kind of heavy weapon, judging by size alone, that he's starting to assemble onto a pintle mount on the front of the boat. Seb's experience makes that pretty obvious.

Beneath the waves, the interior of the vessel is eery. The first area you enter looks to be the helm and command center. It has any number of articles that you might expect in the same room aboard the Witch. Some are practical, like a pair of binoculars. Others are personal, like a hairbrush and a coffee mug. There's also an Ares Predator floating around: the original, launch model from many years ago. There's also a hint of murkiness and tiny bits of other physical debris that weren't present outside. It seems like little flaked away pieces of cloth and upholstery, and maybe bits of person.

Lex pushes the body back into the boat, for whatever reason, and then shuts the door behind you. She sets it to rest against one of the chairs here. It's not clear why she's doing that.

It's also not clear if she settled against the door because of the angle of the boat, or if she was actually trying to get out. On the astral, though, you see tiny hints of the aura she left behind. Her features and details are lost to time, but you can sense faint but lingering hints of despair and panic. Her death likely wasn't peaceful.

Lex starts to poke around at the helm. She takes out a pry bar and starts to peel open some of the access panels near that station, revealing computer hardware beneath. She's looking for something. After a little bit of searching, she starts pulling out what look like optical code chips, sliding them into pouches on her vest.

«Plot» Seb says, "Time to light them up then. That won't do."
«Plot» Seb says, "First we'll split an FA over two of the humans with SMGs, betting on the troll having to waste time setting up that mount. 5 rounds to each human."

«Auto-Judge[]» Seb (#13621) rolls Initiative with a result of 27.

«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls 1 for "Human 1 - 1d6 + 4":
2
«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls 1 for "Human 2 - 1d6 + 5":
1
«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls 1 for "Human 3 - 2d6 + 6":
2
«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls 1:
4
«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls 1 for "Troll - 1d6 + 7":
11

«Plot» Lex says, "+2 for minimal light with natural low-light vision. +2 for surface-to-surface combat, mild sea state."
«Plot» Seb says, "Shooting troll on ring mount: Long range, TN 3 due to my smartlink+rangefinder +2 minimal light (Thermo) +2 surface"
«Plot» Seb says, "10 rounds FA"
«Plot» Seb says, "I'll attempt to center against penalties first."
«Auto-Judge[]» Seb (#13621) rolls Centering vs TN 7:
1 10 = 1 Success
«Plot» Seb swears a lot.

«Auto-Judge[]» Seb (#13621) rolls Gunnery + Combat Pool: 5 vs TN 7 for "10 rounds FA EXEx ammo = 19D":
2 2 3 4 4 5 5 5 7 10 = 2 Successes
«Plot» Seb says, "I will stand."
«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls 6 vs TN 7 for "Troll uses all of his Combat Pool to attempt to dodge under cover.":
1 2 4 4 5 13 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls 6 - 1 vs TN 7 for "KP 1/2":
2 4 5 5 7 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls 10 vs TN 13:
1 2 2 3 4 4 4 5 10 11 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls 10 vs TN 13 for "KP 2/2":
1 1 1 1 2 2 4 5 5 5 = 0 Successes

Seb is a little annoyed that his most excellent yelling was ignored, but when he sees that troll loading up a heavy weapon to a ring mount he suddenly snaps into professional mode. Targets are acquired and triaged mentally. SMGs won't be able to engage him at this range, troll with heavy weapon, he can. Target acquired Seb starts whispering a stream of Afrikaans curses to Odin as he tries to line up the shot. The Witch is a little more mobile on the sea than the boats he's used to, and he finds himself struggling a little to compensate his aim, before he finally just pulls the trigger and drags the LMG's muzzle across the troll in a sloppy cross shape, explosive rounds panging off the armour of their boat hull, and the ring mount, as well as shredding the troll inside it.

That leaves three humans standing, and their confidence level has gone from "Full speed ahead!" to "Oh, shit!" in an awful hurry.

One of the menwe'll call him Armor Vest for lack of further distinguishing traitspops into the turret to finish assembling that heavy weapon. He's moving fast. Wared? He's also urging the others on, screaming something that's hard to make out at this range. Maybe he's the leader? And then he starts to fumble to finish mounting the weapon that the troll was trying to mount, even though he doesn't seem to quite know what he's doing. Surprise! It's an … an assault cannon!

That's really, really bad, actually, and Seb knows it. The Naval vessels he used to serve on would have laughed that off. And just about any other man-portable weapon would ping harmlessly off the armor of a boat like this. That thing, though? And this boat? It's quite capable of punching through the armor of this turret and taking a piece out of him. Failing that, it wouldn't be terribly hard for it to send the Witch to the bottom of the sea.

Another human, we'll call him Mister Cap, is driving the boat, looking kinda terrified, trying to zig zag the boat's approach to avoid eating more LMG rounds.

And finally, Tactical Haircut is just spraying SMG fire wildly. Most rounds don't even get this far. The few that do simply bounce off the Witch's armor.

«Plot» Seb says, "10 round FA into Armor Vest, because stop that with the assault cannon."
«Plot» Seb says, "TN same as previous, or is the zig zag hurting me?"
«Plot» Lex says, "You now have an additional +1 due to their evasive maneuvers. They're not really evading that well, as none of them really seem like pro operators or sailors, but it does throw you off a bit."
«Plot» Lex says, "They're now gunning it and have closed to about 200 meters."
«Plot» Seb says, "Ok Centering again."

«Auto-Judge[]» Seb (#13621) rolls Centering vs TN 6 for "Centering against penalties, Grade 2":
4 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Seb (#13621) has the Attribute InitiateGrade with the value '2'.
«Auto-Judge[]» Seb (#13621) rolls Gunnery + Combat Pool: 5 vs TN 8 for "Extra hard 19D vs Armor Vest":
1 2 2 3 3 3 3 4 5 13 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Seb (#13621) rolls Gunnery + Combat Pool: 5 - 1 vs TN 8 for "Extra hard 19D vs Armor Vest KP1/5":
1 1 2 3 4 4 5 5 5 = 0 Successes
«Plot» Seb stands
«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls Combat Pool: 6 vs TN 7 for "Armor Vest tries dodging below the vehicle's armor line as the LMG fire tracks his way.":
1 1 2 3 4 9 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls Combat Pool: 6 - 1 vs TN 7 for "KP 1/2":
1 1 3 5 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls 6 vs TN 15 for "Soak Roll":
3 4 4 9 10 10 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls 6 vs TN 15 for "KP 2/2":
1 1 1 2 3 21 = 1 Success

Seb actually doesn't even have to adjust his aim much, as another person runs into his existing point of fire and starts trying to manipulate that assault cannon on to the ring mount. For a bare moment Seb considers if he hadn't used EX-Ex ammo, maybe enough of the troll wouldn't been left in the way to stop him from doing that. Too late, the enemy boat starts to zig zag, and Seb counters, trigger still held down, sawing his LMG back and forth on the ring mount, trying to lead his target just right, drilling the ring mount area full of even more explosive ammo, and leaving another corpse slumped in the bottom of it. Their bilge is going to be gruesome tomorrow.

Morale breaks with the remaining two guys as they flee in a rout. Tactical Haircut stops firing and ducks under cover. Mister Cap crouches low behind the ship's bow as he swings the boat around and kicks throttle into maximum, straight lining it out of here.

It only takes a second for Tactical Haircut to realize he's now exposed, heading for the /back end/ of the ship to get behind cover there. Mister Cap has nowhere to go, though. He's jacked into the boat.

«Plot» Seb says, "10 round FA into Mister Cap the rigger."
«Plot» Seb says, "TN 7 over all for now being straight again?"
«Auto-Judge[]» Seb (#13621) rolls Centering vs TN 5 for "Centering against penalties":
5 9 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Seb (#13621) rolls Gunnery vs TN 6 for "TN 6 due to penalties centered away by Sebs profanity. 19D at Mister Cap":
2 2 3 4 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Seb (#13621) rolls Gunnery vs TN 6 for "TN 6 due to penalties centered away by Sebs profanity. 19D at Mister Cap KP2/5":
2 3 4 5 9 = 1 Success
«Plot» Seb stands
«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls 4 + Combat Pool: 7 vs TN 14:
1 2 2 3 3 4 4 4 5 10 17 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls 4 + Combat Pool: 7 - 1 vs TN 14 for "KP 1/2":
1 1 2 2 2 3 9 9 11 14 = 1 Success

Seb starts yelling at them as they turn their boat around, "Come back you poes, gat gabbas! Fokkin' donkie kont! Tryin' to fokkin' steal our boat, you kakkers!" This time, it works, and he somehow, while still firing the LMG, manages to draw the line of rounds across the ship and over the back of the rigger up there driving the damn thing. "Fokkin' turn it around now you kak, moffie, fok!"

«Auto-Judge[]» Seb (#13621) rolls Initiative with a result of 28.
«Stats System» Invalid roll: Cannot find stat matching "1d6".
«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls 1 for "Tactical Haircut - 1d6+4":
2
«Plot» Seb says, "Is he even visible to me?"

With the pilot dead, the boat starts to slow to a near crawl, causing Tactical Haircut to panic for a second time. He runs for the controls, viewing escape as his only way out of this alive.

«Plot» Lex says, "You've got one action before he reaches them, if you want to try to stop him."
«Plot» Seb says, "10 round FA on Tactical Haircut."
«Plot» Seb says, "Same TNs as Mister Cap?"
«Plot» Lex says, "Yes."
«Auto-Judge[]» Seb (#13621) rolls Centering vs TN 5 for "Centering for Successes":
2 3 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Seb (#13621) rolls Gunnery + Combat Pool: 5 vs TN 7 for "19D at Tactical Haircut, don't touch those controls":
2 2 3 3 3 4 5 5 5 15 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls Combat Pool: 6 vs TN 7:
4 4 5 7 7 11 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Seb (#13621) rolls Gunnery + Combat Pool: 5 - 1 vs TN 7 for "19D at Tactical Haircut, don't touch those controls KP3/5":
1 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 5 = 0 Successes
«Plot» Seb stands and he dodges.

Tactical haircut makes it to the pilot's controls and slams the throttle all the way forward, the boat rocketing ahead.

Seb has only pulled the trigger on his LMG once so far in this fight, the entire rest of the time has been simply holding it down, raking fire all across the other boat back and forth. So far he's spewed fourty rounds into it.

«Plot» Seb says, "Same shot, same TN?"
«Auto-Judge[]» Seb (#13621) rolls Gunnery + Combat Pool: 5 vs TN 7 for "19D at Tactical Haircut AGAIN, don't make me do this again again.":
1 2 2 2 2 2 5 5 7 10 = 2 Successes
«Plot» Seb stand on 2.
«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls 5 vs TN 14 for "Soak!":
4 4 4 5 9 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls 5 vs TN 14 for "KP 1/2":
2 2 4 8 10 = 0 Successes
«Plot» Lex says, "Pose killing the guy as the boat just … literally keeps going at full throttle with nobody alive on it."

Seb finally stops firing, finally, after half a belt has been chewed up, a good four and a half yards of belt, and the last person on board that boat slumps over, eviscerated by various amounts of explosive ammunition. Seb frowns as the boat plows off into the distance at full speed. "Fok that prick for hitting the throttle. Kak, fok, poes. Now we can't get any of the loot. Fok. And there's no proof either. Fok, fok." He eventually releases the LMG, and lets it air cool in the ring mount, ticking as it does so, and goes to wash his hands of the strong smell of cordite one gets from standing next to such constant automatic firing.

«Auto-Judge[]» Seb (#13621) uses 50 of item 2: EXEX LMG Ammo from Ammo (#13656).

«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls 1 for "1 N, 2 E, 3 W, 4 S, 5 NE, 6+ SW":
4
«Auto-Judge[]» Seb (#13621) rolls Navigation:
2 5 9

Bliss doesn't really know what she's doing around here, as this is her very first time inside a shipwreck. It seems to her like anything that may have been recovered from the Laplace should be the first place to look - perhaps not just in the cabin here. She also looks for any sign of equipment, though she couldn't recognize it, that confirms her suspicion: that this was a boat intended to salvage.

Aside from that, she takes a brief look around in the astral, if she can stomach it - she's already quite a bit on edge.

There's not really much more in the cabin to see. There's a ladderwell leading below, though, even if it's not quite down because of the angle of the ship. On the Witch, there's a cabin and a few large storage spaces down there, most of them housing sophisticated electronic gear that Lex hasn't ever fully explained. If this ship didn't have all of that kit, it would probably have a fair amount of space for salvage.

Lex seems ready to move on, holding up a thumbs-up to indicate that she's good to go. She shines her diving light down deeper into the boat.

Bliss points her laser down to the laderwell, and sighs. She's going to have to go down there. Almost certainly there shall be more floaty corpses. Occasionally checking the astral to warn her of magical threats, she has a look down in there. She has a look at some of the electronic kit, to see if it's already rusted all to hell, and then moves to head down the ladderwell Lex indicated.

It's crowded. On the surface, dealing with only gravity, these tight ladderwells are designed to be as space efficient as possible while allowing free movement. Underwater, at a strange angle, trying to squeeze your body while in a swimming position, it becomes an exercise in contortion. Luckily, it's a very short distance with how compact these boats are put together.

You almost immediately find yourself in some kind of living area, though there's very little space to move around you. Directly to your right is the head. To the left is a few compact shelves for storage space. You do see something interesting there. There are three identical canisters that have rolled toward the very back of the shelves. They have large, overlapping screw tops that seem to be designed to seal out water. These seem like dry storage. Lex shines a light in there, seeming to see them too. She writes on her tablet, "Lets leave them closed. We should take those with us and open them on the Witch."

Directly ahead looks like a small cabin. It's situated there on a lot of vessels of this type. It looks like the space mostly just holds a bed and a few hanging stretch nets for storage. There are also, unfortunately, two more bodies there. It looks like two human men, dressed in fairly standard street wear. One has a secure jacket on. It's hard to tell exactly what their position was, but their bodies look entangled. It seems like they died holding each other, maybe for comfort. They're in a similar state of decay as the first body.

Bliss gets a different interpretation - to her, it looks like they died perhaps in a desperate fight. She nods to Lex, and moves to assist with taking them out. She continues a search of a living area, looking for any storage compartments - surprised to find nothing from what may have been taken from the Laplace «I'm not really that interested in too much of an investigation here. Plus, I really don't understand where I'm going to find what we were looking for. Let me try again soon once we're finished looking around - this close, it should be very specific.»

Bliss moves to head down into the last area, once making sure that all the found dry canisters are collected.
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Intelligence:
1 1 2 5 14

The lingering auras in the living area were about as strong as those in the first room. As with the first body, the bodies of those two men bore lingering traces of fear and terror. The canisters too, had lingering auras, but not altogether negative ones in this case. It's strange for these auras to persist so long, but this doesn't quite seem like a normal case. At the very least, it's out of the ordinary compared to the basic training most less experienced magicians have gone through.

Lex seems a little freaked out, but she's mostly holding it together. But she has diven a lot of wrecks, and on top of that, she's seeing only a small fraction of what Bliss sees.

As Bliss turns into the final room, the background count thickens noticeably, the world seeming to shift and warp around her on the astral. This, it seems, is the epicenter of it all. And there's a lot to take in here. You see the final body first. It's a woman, an elf. She's has settled onto one of the palates of white containers, face up, wearing a blank expression. There's a rod in her hands. It looks like styling from one of the Tirs, though if it was once magical, it has no power remaining that's visible on the astral. It does bear a very strange aura, though, one you don't quite recognize.

Those white cases dominate the room, beyond her. They're about briefcase-sized, and they look like sealed, padded cases for storing delicate or valuable objects. There are at least 80 of them in here, four piles worth, arranged 2x2 and stacked about five high, and then strapped down to palates. The straps on one of the piles came undone at one point, and a few of the cases on top are scattered around the room, some shattered.

You see the Lion, finally. The Laplace's plaque is in here, resting in plain view, likely having once been stored in a now broken case. There are also numerous other goods here, including silverware and one or two antique guns. There also about two dozen coins on the floor here, seemingly gold.

You also find more of those flags, at least 100 of them, tied into a tight bundle and cinched together with a compression strap. They're in a corner. No actual digging gear is found, though. It might be in some of the cases here.

There are some magical things here that are noteworthy. It takes a few seconds to notice it, but as Lex shines her light around, Bliss spots several magical circles. They seem to have carved into the walls and the floor and the ceiling here. Beyond that, there's something in the elf's pocket that also has a stronger aura. It's not quite as strong as the rod, but it still draws the eye.

«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Intelligence for "Assensing plaque":
1 2 3 3 4
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Magic Background for "Circles":
1 1 3 3 4 7
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Magic Background for "Rod":
1 2 2 4 4 8
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Intelligence for "Assensing plaque KP 1 spent":
1 1 2 4 8

Bliss writes on her tablet. «Danger here» she says. «But this is what we came for». Anything that's in here, after all, has already been disturbed from the wreck. Might as well take it back.

«We are going to be in some danger here. Whatever caused this scene is not gone. It is still here. But this is what we need to do. We should recover everything. All of the canisters…» She looks at the plaque «The plaque» She considers. «And the rod, and what is in her pocket. We start with all the canisters, first. Then the rod, and what is in her pocket.» She considers. «The plaque, last.»

Lex writes on her tablet. "Sled can carry 400+ kg." She's really the buried treasure type, apparently. "Should be able to fit all." "Multiple trips to load?"

Bliss's examination of the area yields a few key findings.

The circles are perhaps the most obvious thing. This is not really her style of magic, but she spent enough time around mages at university to recognize these. These are elemental summoning circles. Earth and water, it looks like?

The rod has vaguely Elven styling, but it might just be a personal choice. It's hard to tell more about it just by looking at it.

The Laplace's plaque, for whatever reason, seems to have less of an aura about it than the rest of this room. It seems similar to what Bliss saw outside amidst the wreck of the Laplace. It's negative, but it's not overpowering in quite the same way. Bliss can't really sense more than that.

Bliss considers, and puts two and two together «I think we may be in great danger» she says. «They cleared out the wreck using elementals. Earth and water. I think they became uncontrolled.» She considers. «We need to recover these things, but I am almost certain that at least the water elementals are here, and uncontrolled. Perhaps the earth elementals too. That's what got these people» She looks around. «I need to defend us. We're going to take multiple trips so that the sled is not overloaded. Looks like it should be about four? Let's do so in the order I said. On the fifth trip, we take the rod, what's in the woman's pocket, and the plaque. Nothing else before. And I'm going to do something dangerous. I'm going to leave my body…down here» She heads over to the corner of the room, and she sits down. And then, her body slumps, as she leaves it.

A moment later, Bliss's form appears, ghostly and spectral, wearing not the wetsuit, but what she normally wears - her little tie-died top, loose jacket, jeans, Chuck Taylors. She's just floating there. "Hi," she says, and she can be heard, strangely enough. "I'm going to be looking after you," she says. "I'm sorry to make you do the work, but I think our greatest risk here is uncontrolled elementals," she says. "My big friend will be here too," she says, as the spectral figure of a hugely muscled, tall man appears as well, wielding an axe that crackles with electricity. "He's why I made us wait. Don't worry. I'll be here." And with that, both she and the warrior fade.

«Auto-Judge[]» Lex (#11638) rolls Intelligence:
1 3 3 3 9 14

Lex looks officially spooked now. Bodies and shipwrecks maybe don't faze her, but talk of angry spirits goes well beyond her understanding. To her, they might as well be wrathful gods, with all of her ability, or more specifically lack thereof, to fight back. But again, she's the buried treasure type. That's a lot of motivation.

And she needs it. It's actually a lot of work to load the sled. A lot of these cases seem to be rather heavy, with how much Lex labors. And each trip, even with how adeptly she moves underwater, takes a bit of time. It's not four trips. More like fifty. Minutes pass. Then over an hour. First all the boxes are loaded. Then the loose articles scattered around the floor are stuffed into satchels, tied off, and thrown on top of the boxes. The only thing left in that room, really, is the elf's body. Then layer after layer of netting and tiedown straps are used to secure it all to the sled. It's kinda an involved procedure, but Lex has apparently done exactly this before, with how practiced her motions are. She never even complains about doing it all alone, either. She probably had to do all of this work herself anyway, before Bliss and Seb came along.

And then, finally, Lex is finally getting the last articles as told. She has a satchel with her that she has been using for small knick knacks, like the optical code chips she has been pocketing along the way, for reasons known only to her. Then she grabs the Laplace's plaque. And then the rod. And finally, she starts rifling through the elf's pockets, emptying them all into her satchel. There are a few miscellaneous personal items first. But stuffed into a large, internal jacket pocket is something larger. This is the object you saw astrally.

Once she gets it free, you can see it. It's a doll. It seems like it was once made of wax and sticks and twine. It probably would have come apart entirely after this long, save for that wax, and for the fact that it was sitting in a zipped jacket pocket. The aura on this item looks very different. It's soothing and positive. It feels like healing, rather than terror and death and confusion. It's one more piece to a rather confusing puzzle. Lex pays it no mind, though, simply gingerly putting it into her satchel before closing it.

Nothing happens as Bliss waits. Every now and then, you get a vague sense that you are being watched by some set of unseen astral eyes. But nothing comes out to play. It's not clear why. Are they choosing not to attack because they fear Bliss? Or are they simply not aggressive? Uncontrolled doesn't necessarily mean murderous, though it sometimes does, and it does really seem like some people did get murdered here.

«Plot» Bliss says, "The F7 spirit of Shango has two services. I'm going to set one for astral overwatch while I go back into my body. He can possess me if needed for the second."
«Plot» Lex says, "OK. Nothing attacks you on the way out."
«Plot» Lex says, "You get the sense that you could probably find whatever is watching you, if you went looking. Otherwise, you can return to the surface without incident."

Bliss watches over, considering that she's going to tease Lex, if nothing goes wrong, that this was just a way to get out of the hard work. She feels that she's watched, but there's nothing that can be done. She asks the loa of Shango to watch over Lex as she goes back to the surface. She appears again. "Lex," she says. "Can you also take me up on the sled, please? Something is watching us. I'm going to find what." She then starts to search around, now - at least, there might be answers. Something to be done about this situation, after all.

«Plot» Lex says, "I'm going to handwave the astral search portion of this, since they're not really trying to hide, for the sake of expediency."

Lex looks a little concerned, but she eventually just nods and thumbs up to signal her agreement. She's not about to overextend herself on something out of her wheelhouse. She buckles Bliss's limp body onto one of the sled seats securely, does a double check on the load, to make sure it's also secure, and then straps herself into the pilot's seat.

Lex and half of Bliss then ascend upward toward the water's surface. Absent the powerful flood lights of the sled, the Laplace and the Randy Dandy are plunged again into darkness, but that's not something Bliss's astral form would even notice. She's seeing the familiar magical landscape she first saw when she approached this place.

Seb, though, finally gets his boredom broken. That is, if he's still not on edge after the raider attack. It's minutes worth of ascent, but he doesn't know that. He just finally sees Flipper's lights as it rises from the depths, slowly growing brighter before it breaks the surface. If he doesn't notice that, he will certainly notice Lex calling out.

"Oy! Seb, you there? You would not /believe/ what we saw down there. We've got a big haul too! Bliss is doing her astral thing. Help me get her into the cabin. Then we can get all of this unloaded."

Down below, a few minutes earlier, Bliss starts to investigate. It's a bit hard to find a water elemental in the ocean, especially obscured by the fog of a thick background count. Likewise, earth elementals can just as easily sink into the Earth itself. Eventually, though, she finds something. There's a patch of sea floor, well obscured, mostly covered by the Laplace's hulk, that seems to be active. It surely sees her, if she's seeing it. It doesn't do anything, though.

«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Intelligence for "Assessing patch on the seafloor that watches me.":
3 4 4 5 5
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Intelligence for "Assessing patch on the seafloor that watches me, again":
1 2 3 4 4
«Auto-Judge[]» Bliss (#8867) rolls Intelligence for "Assessing patch on the seafloor that watches me, again":
3 3 4 4 13

Seb is up on top of the Witch, smoking to help him recover from the battle fatigue. When he notices Lex coming up on Flipper he stands up and flicks the cig off into the sea. "Oy boss, sounds good ja. Uh, I should tell ya, some fokkin' pirates came by earlier." Lex will probably notice the LMG mounted and the pieces of belt connector spat all over the deck eventually. "I ran 'em off, eh?" As he speaks he's moving down to the back of the boat, which is probably where Lex and Flipper is and he helps unload Bliss into the cabin, "Fok me, this stukkie's heavier than she looks." The rest of the time is spent shipping things from Flipper to Silver Witch, according to Lex's instructions.

Bliss studies the area, focusing hard as she tries to see through the background count. She can only glean the most basic facts. Yes, that's an earth elemental. It seems like a great form. It seems calm and not particularly inclined toward violence.

Bliss heads back to her body, now that they're back on board the boat. "There was a powerful earth elemental down there," she explains. "Lex," she says. "What do you think happened on the boat?" she asks. "And what did you pick up from the elf? Can you show me?" she asks.

"You ran off some pirates," Lex asks, panic creeping into her voice. The p word isn't one that she likes. She seems far more worried about them than she was about ghosts a few minutes earlier. "What kind of boat was it? Were there any others? We're gonna have a real problem if they call for reinforcements. Once they know we're willing to fight back, they're going to figure we're smugglers rather than civilians, and that just makes us even more of a juicy prize." She has certianly picked up the pace, doing her best to help Seb load everything up as quickly as possible.

It's right about then that Bliss wakes up, her body lying sandwiched between some towels on the one bed on the ship. When she finally emerges, Lex seems eager to go. "Oh, you're back. Thank god. Are you OK? Did it attack you?"

Lex looks around for her satchel when asked about the elf's belongings. She opens it, removes the optical code chips, and sets them aside. She then hands the bag to Bliss. "That was everything she had on her. Nothing out of the ordinary beyond that figure. I'm not sure what that is. I tried not to handle it too much. I didn't want to damage it."

Seb shakes his head, "No worries boss, they ain't calling anyone. It was a similar boat, but real quiet even at full speed. Yeah. They saw us and circled, then come back in real slow, sneaking up. When I told 'em to fok off, they pulled a Panther up and made like they meant to use it. So I ended 'em all. One of them fell on the throttle though, so that fokker just took off that way." He points the way it went, "Reckon your sensors caught it." Seb is now of course interested in the rest, "So, good haul eh?"

Bliss considers, having a look. "We'll also want to see what was in all those canisters too, I suppose," she says. "I'm sure the lion plaque will be great for Francine," she adds. "All right, let's head back to base. And let's have a look," she says. She shakes her head. "I'm fine. It didn't attack me."
She does, however, wish to consult one last time with the spirit of Ghede - to make sure that what was found is what was being looked for. The vision Mama gave her wasn't very specific - she want to make sure she's bringing back something properly useful.

The Loa spirit tilts its head this way and that, in an exaggerated motion, as if closely scrutinizing the items Bliss is carrying. "This junk? Oh no, dear. What you want is still down there." He waits until he gets a reaction from Bliss of some kind, good or bad, before grinning wide. "Just kidding. That's the thing, right there, in your hands. A very special gift of mojo to a woman that it could not help." And then he turns to walk off, off the edge of the boat in fact, his form vanishing into nothingness as he does.

Lex is oblivious. "Well, as long as we're all still in one piece, that's a win, right?" she asks Seb. She seems a little giddy. "That haul is certainly looking juicy, guys. I can't wait to crack it open."

It's only a minute more before Flipper is docked back in its drone bay, and all the loot is squared away. Lex punches in a return course at the helm, and the ship accelerates rapidly as it starts a long arcing turn back toward shore. The Witch has never moved quite like this, it's bow starting to lift higher out of the water. Even in these calm seas, somebody not used to it might find this speed frightening. Lex motions everyone to join her inside, to escape the roar of the engines.

She keeps her eyes on the sensor readout. "Don't mind the speed. I just don't want to stick around, just in case those raiders had friends. From what you're describing, Seb, it might have just been a gang of local thieves hoping for a quick score. Electric fast boats don't really have a lot of range. But you never know what kinds of friends somebody like that might have."

She finally focuses her attention back on Bliss. "To answer your question, I'm honestly at a loss. I checked the ship as closely as I could. Beyond the usual corrosion, I saw no signs of damage. Maybe severe weather or a rogue wave swamped the boat and capsized it? That model is really seaworthy, but no ship is unsinkable. I did see a self-inflating life raft on the inside of the cabin, but maybe the sea state was so bad that they didn't want to ditch. That's my theory, anyway. But you're making it sound like a lot more was involved than that, and I don't really have any clue about that magic stuff. I did pull the boat's telemetry, though. Like the log chips for both external and internal sensor data, as well as the computer's log files. Maybe that will help? I have to admit that I'm curious myself."

"What do you say? Did you find what you were looking for? Did we get your job done?"

Bliss shakes her head - even despite herself, she can't but help find the Ghede spirit's little last prank on her quite a bit funny.

"I've got a pretty good idea that Mama's going to be rather pleased with this, at least," she says, of the wax doll. "It's warm, and it's soft, and I think she will very much like it." She considers the small wand. "I certainly hope there's a haul that's valuable to you guys. And after we drop off our haul, I think we should try to find out who came after us, and where that boat went. Maybe the boat's data can give us a lead before someone else can get to it? But…" She takes a deep breath, and then sighs out happily. "I think I've found what I'm looking for." But she's not looking at the doll, as she says that. She's glancing at the two others, and the sea, and the boat. "Though it's going to take some getting used to."

"I honestly hadn't thought of that, but that's not a bad idea. That would definitely be a huge score, if we could get that boat and pawn it to a broker, who would either sell it along or chop it. I'm not saying we shouldn't do that, but here are my worries. Right now, none of us have touched that boat. If that crew's friends come looking for revenge, all they'll find is a bunch of fragmented EX Ex rounds, which isn't really much evidence. Also, if it is a bigger crew, and one of their ships just vanishes, they'll be putting out feelers on the black market to see if anyone is trying to sell it."

But then something else occurs to her. "On the other hand, if that boat has sensors, and it was recording its telemetry, and they find it first, that will lead them right back to us." Lex sounds a little worried now. "Now that I'm thinking about that, I'm definitely on board with this. And yeah, if it was really just traveling in a straight line, we should know exactly which direction it went. It's going to drift, but with historical current data, we should have a decent idea of where?" She pauses there. "But not tonight. We should offload and rest first."

And that's that. It's a little over twenty minutes of steaming at this breakneck pace before you see the lights of civilization in the distance. The boat slows there, and a few minutes later, Lex is guiding the Witch in by hand. The team ties it off, the lights are cut, and you find yourself in relative darkness, once again standing on the planks of the relatively safe harbor of the marina. It's quiet once the engine is cut, just the sound of the sea below you, with the stars slowly growing more visible above as your eyes adjust. "Well, I am totally dead. If anyone else is too tired to move, doesn't want to risk traveling this area at night, or just doesn't trust me alone with the loot, I've got some spare pads and blankets for you to sleep on. Otherwise, I'll see you lot tomorrow."

Seb's already snoring up by the prow. Anyone who's been in service learns the trick of getting to sleep wherever you are and in whatever conditions.

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