The Tana Case Part 5

GM: Yin
Players: Lotus (Pema Lhadron), Silhouette (Miyako)
Synopsis: In Mid Chinatown, close to the Silver Lotus Temple, a situation unfolds at a crossroad. A Tibetan monk attempts to conduct self-immolation in order to protest against Chinese oppression against the Tibetan dispora, especially under the cover of the latest VITAS 7.0 measures. The characters are drawn into the situation and have to make a moral decision. Also, the subject of the Tana Case, Tanaka Tana, is one of the many victims of Chinese aggression against the Tibetans, or so the protesters claim. If this is true or not true, has yet to be determined.

Date: 2082-08-08

A Meeting by Chance

After having attended an evening ceremony over at the Silver Lotus temple, the Tibetan girl that nearly shares the sacred place's name emerges from its gates. A bit more formally dressed than usual, she is wearing a traditional Chuba, in black fabric with embroidered synth-silk hems. Her hair's also set up in braids in the Tibetan fashion, with some jewellery to match. In other words, in a place where your ethnicity can be a matter of life and death, she is outing herself as a minority.

As she comes out, she has folded-up umbrella in transparent plastic in her hand, and she looks up at the sky to gauge her need for it but only the bright neon signs and tridscreens flicker back at her, their multicoloured lights reflecting off the wet pavement. It seems she doesn't have a ride for tonight - and she doesn't drive herself - so she begins to walk down the street, fairly calmly but always wary of things because she knows the streets of Chinatown aren't safe.

Pema has one little advantage, at least for the first hundred feet of distance or so. She mingles with the crowd that just left the temple grounds. It's a calm and peaceful atmosphere, but Pema might feel the almost physical embodiment of resentments against her kind. Small groups of people form to walk together, excluding her as if by accident. They probably don't even realize it as what it is. But maybe a similar face does show up, by surprise?

Silhouette makes her way in from Little Chiba with a sling on her back lile that used when she carries crates of imports, but no box. She seems to have not been paying attention as services get out and she winds up going "up stream" through the crowd. She turns as she's bumped and apologizes as she turns back the way she was headed only to nearly bump into Pema. "Oh! Pardon!"
The crowd from the Silver Lotus Temple moves on, past Pema and Silhouette, scattering to the parking areas and side alleys.

The Tibetan girl sighs a bit to herself as the crowds slowly disperse around her but the feeling that comes with it doesn't seem to linger. Perhaps she's getting used to it, or simply getting to terms with the fact that she doesn't belong here. She takes out her digitised paper fan, opening it up just a tad to let the time appear on its electro-paper surface. Then, she stops as Silhouette nearly bumps into her, herself distracted by the fan. "Mei shi mei shi," she dismisses the narrowly avoided accident, speaking in Mandarin because that's the tongue used by the local gangs in this neighbourhood.

«Plot» Lotus says, "Mei Shi literally means 'no matter' or 'it's nothing', by the way"

Silhouette bows ans replies in the same language, "Very kind, but I should be more cautious when walking by at this hour." she bows again and smiles some. She tilts her head, "We have met, have we not?"

The Tibetan girl returns a bow, albeit a shallow one, and she looks a bit awkward doing it. "I am sure you're very busy," she replies, her Mandarin having a very obvious non-native accent. Her eyes dart around the lonely footpath next to the walls surrounding the temple compound and the glittering cityscape on the other side, and the near-empty road in between the two. She looks tense, but her gaze does return to Silhouette. "Uhm… are you a friend of Yin Li? Private investigator?"

Silhouette comes closer to Pema, "Hai! I know Yin-san! He had a missing person case I hame trying to help him with."

The brief but intense summer rainshower earlier wiped the streets clean, literally, but also metaphorically. The big and busy Chen Mao crossroad up ahead, two hundred meters away from the temple, was void of any pedestrians just a few minutes ago. But now, since the rain had stopped, the place is even more crowded than before. Four wide multitrack gridlink lanes meet at this crossroad, with plenty of space on the sidewalks for all the citizens, employees, customers, delivery boys and girls, and more than the occasional tourist too. A dense and glittering pool of color, cultures, and faces, with numerous shops, air and ground vehicles, and advertisement. That's how it is supposed to be, that is. And it would not be worth mentioning. Usually.

Chen Mao Crossroad Blockade

Suddenly, next to Pema and Silhouette, the gridlink system seems to face some serious issues. Cars come to an unplanned halt, activating emergency blinkers and the occasional orange hazard lights. Immediately, routines for the redirection of the traffic flow are initiated but stalled right away. Whatever caused the disruption, it came too quickly for the automated system to react. The occasional off-grid vehicle, hover-skater and hand cart contribute further to the mess. Damn, even air traffic seems to be affected? What is going on up ahead?

Pema is about to answer but the way the traffic seems to be clogging up distracts her. "Yes, I…" and then there's loud honking from a nearby Nissan Jackrabbit's horn, drowning out any words she could speak. She steps away from the road, closer up to the graffitti-covered walls of the temple grounds, imagining herself to be safer. "Strange mess on the road, was there an accident up ahead?"

Silhouette steps back as well, but then when asked about an accident she moves closer to the road so she can see further up…and really hopes a Kaiju doesn't throw the head of the Denver horse at her.

The crossroad is about 200 meters away, and it seems like a mix of a large number of people and vehicles are blocking the entire space, forming a large circle around the center of the crossroad. This can be easily seen from where Pema and Silhouette are standing. Everything else would probably require a keen eye!

«Plot» Yin says, "Roll perception, if you like"
«Auto-Judge[]» Silhouette (#13726) rolls Intelligence:
1 2 3 4 8 10
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls Intelligence:
1 2 4 5 9 11 11

There seems to be some kind of projection directly above the crossroad. A trideo projection. It's hard to tell, but it looks like a column of moving text in simple white-greyish letters. Maybe an announcement of some sort? But why would they block the whole crossroad then? For any more insights, one would have to move closer to the crowd.

«Plot-Page» (To: Lotus) Yin says, "Also, Lotus feels a tingling sensation in her fingertips and her back. Did something just pass through her?"

Silhouette looks at Pema, "Shall we investigate?" she drops the harness she had slung on her back next to the wall a d waits to see if Pema is up for shenanigans.

The Tibetan girl looks up and around, noticing the projection in the distance and she raises her umbrella to use it as a pointer. "See that over there? Looks we…" she suddenly goes quiet as her body tenses up, eyes widening a bit. "Did you feel that as well?" She closes her eyes and raises her finger to her eyelids, and it looks like she's writing something in the air over her eyes.

«Plot-Page» (To: Yin) Lotus will go into Astral perception

Silhouette tilts her head at Pema and starts to say no, but the eye thing makes her shush instead. While Pema does Pema things, she looks around to see if anything else looks out of place.

«Plot-Page» (To: Lotus) Yin says, "Lotus immediately becomes aware of a gentle pulling force which seems to attrackt all astral signutarues in the vicinity. Whatever passed through her a second ago, is already gone, towards the crossroad. The crossroad radiates emotions, quiet unusual emotions. Maybe it's the gathering crowd or something else. It's a blurry mess. She would have to get closer to learn more. Also, it seems like there is a background count bui8lding up. The astral space is shivering and dense, like a tense spring."

The gathering is unusual, but besides that, there is nothing else, except maybe, that there is a lack of the typical Shining Mountain surveillance drones. Only one is visible right now. Usually, it's more of them. For anything else, they would have to get closer.

That curious closed-eye ritual does not last for long, and barely three seconds later, she opens her eyes and turns towards the distant commotion. "Let's go check it out," she says and begins to walk, adjusting the long - and frankly very impractical - skirt of her outfit. At least she's not in heels.
Silhouette nods and follows along, now not sure a kimono dress was the right attire this evening afterall.

Both decide to investigate and close in on the crossroad. The ring of people is not air tight, it's not a rock concert, so they find their way easily into third or second row.

Impending Self-Immolation

The crowd and vehicles form a circle around a single human man who is sitting in the center of the crossroad. He kneels on a small carpet and, like the asphalt all around him, he appears to be wet; soaked to the bones, even. He wears an orange dress of some kind, which leaves half of his upper torso and one arm exposed. His head is shaved and he seems to be contemplating or immersed in prayer. The lights of Denver's nightly quarter is painting a vivid pattern of colors on his tanned skin.

About half a meter in front of the kneeling man, a simple cartbox serves as a low makeshift table. Incense is burning, atop of a pile of glimmering coals. Also, a small portable device on the box projects beams of light into the night sky, high above the kneeling man and the gathered crowd. The trideo device projects a spinning and scrolling list of holographic names in huge letters for all to see. At leat 100 pairs of eyes are shifting nervously and curiously between the names high above and the kneeling man down below. Both arouse curiosity; what is displayed there, and what are the details of the monk?

Using a bit of elbow to make your way through the crowds is nothing unusual in Chinatown fortunately, but Pema is still relatively careful as she tries to make her way through the crowd that's gathering up ahead. She doesn't excuse herself, just keeps on going until she can see what's going on. The sight does baffle her, quite visibly so. She turns back to see if Silhouette made her way through the crowd too, and she winces as she steps back and bumps into a troll in a Chinese monkey-paw jacket. The huge guy barely notices Pema's light frame but it's still enough for her to apologise.

Then, finally making her way up to a piece of railing next to the road, she leans over and gets a clear view of the monk. "That's a Bhikku," she says, using an Indian terms even as she speaks Chinese. "Any of the names look familiar to you?"

Silhouette is right behind Pema and side eyes the troll Pema backs into, but it would seem everyone is all eyes on the man. She follows Pemas gaze and looks at the list if names.

«Plot» Yin says, "Lotus might want to roll for Buddhism, now that she has a clear sight on the person."
«Plot» Yin says, "And another Intelligence for Silhouette!"
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls Buddhist Philosophy:
1 2 3 5
«Auto-Judge[]» Silhouette (#13726) rolls Intelligence:
1 2 3 3 3 9

It would probably take many minutes to grasp the whole of the list's content and significance, but it's obvious that it contains names of men and women in English and Chinese, next to dates of their deaths or missing reports. Some entries have specific places in Denver listed as well, sometimes, there are other places in North America mentioned. Every ten names or so, one major accusation is repeated, stating that the Shining Mountain and other Chinese authorities all over North America were driving Tibetan families out of their homes under the excuse of health control and decontamination dur to VITAS and other reasons. True reason is maginalization, expulsion and harassment, the statement says.

The monk is sitting in a distinct position of Bodhisattva Manjushri, the Gentle Glory. One hand opens the palm towards the heavens, the other hand rests peacefully on one knee; the monk seems to be almost floating, ready to quest for enlightment, only one light step away from the stars above. Yet he might also be inviting someone or something to step down from the heavenly realm, down on the earth below; his open palm appears almost ready to grasp an old friend's or a stranger's hand alike, for a journey of mortality. The monk's gentle gesture and sincere expression reaches out to the heart of many bystanders. Several among the crowd are silently crying, without even noting. Pema might wonder why? What's happening? Then she realizes, that the monk is not wet from rain, but from gasoline.

The troll Pema just bumped into is one of the bystanders who is drawn into the scene. His eyes are wet and he speaks a single sentence that probably resonates in many others as well: "What's the right thing now?" He didn't bother that Pema gave him a nudge.

Lotus' All-In Decision

Never in Pema's wildest imaginations would she imagine there being something about Tibetan families in that text. She can barely count the ones she knows on her fingers, and one of those fingers would be herself. That is still enough to prompt her to move. She makes her way around the railing and begins to run towards the monk, screaming out loud "WAIT! DON'T DO IT!"

Silhouette is reading names when Pemzor springs into action. She blinks but follows, covering Pema without the need for things like why or what or who. There is action: someone she has worked with has called a shot, so she does her part and covers Pema's advance.

The moment Pema moves across the empty space towards the sitting monk, two other people from the audience spring into action as well. It seems, the monk had some helping hands. They try to get to Pema, but Silhouette could cut their way. The monk himself, on the ground, is doing nothing in response. He still has his eyes closed. It would depend on Pema's further actions, if she gets the opportunity. If she knows what is about to happen, she probably knows that there is one loophole to stop the monk from doing what he assumedly intends to. Also, Pema realizes that a spirit begins to manifest around here the moment she closes in on five meters. But curiously, it returns to the astral plane before it fully manifests. It appeared to be snake-like. Like a Naga, with a distinctive head.

Other bystanders start to scream or cry something as well, out of surprise or in defiance, it's hard to tell. But the crowd seems to respond immediately. Maybe there are supernatural forces at work with that as well?

Silhouette moves herself between the Monks chums and keeps an eye out for more. She knows nothing of spirits and Naga and finger wiggling so may not even notice that bit.

With Silhouette turning outwards and Pema focusing on the sitting monk, the division of labor seems effective and useful. The monks are slowed down by Silhouette's resolute intervention, and maybe by the strange manifestation that just let Pema pass. It's Pema's turn now. What would she probably do?

«Plot» Yin says, "Oh, and Silhouette, could I have another perception roll pelase? Sorry for spamming!"
«Auto-Judge[]» Silhouette (#13726) rolls Intelligence:
2 3 3 3 8 10

Silhouette tries to keep on top of the somewhat unsettling situation. First it was just a security surveillance drone she spotted, but in the meantime, authorities moved in to end what might be seen as an upcoming outrageous act of defiance. Armored Personel Carriers cut their ways through the traffic jam with little respect for property or passenger safety. Shining Mounting security guards clad in security armor can be seen in groups of eight, pushing their way towards the center of the scenery. Bystanders in the back are silently pushed to the ground, arrested, some even electroshocked. But still the scenery holds the assembled crowd enthralled in its spell. The unfolding prelude to police violence still goes largely unnoticed. Only the occassional muffled scream breaks the moment. This situation is bound to escalate drastically. Silhouette estaimates that it will take about two minutes for the authorities to break the circle.

Pema is a slow-moving skinny girl in a tight long dress so even if she's running she'd be easy to intercept by just about anyone. She doesn't pay any attention to anyone that might be out to stop her, she just basically runs straight forward towards the monk. As it seems her approach is unopposed, she runs up right behind the monk, and drops to her knees just behind him. Then, she lets her body drops forward, and she embraces the monk from behind, clinging to his frame.

Silhouette backs towards the pair while eyeing those intending to interfere as she calls over a shoulder towards Pema, "Um, I don't thibk I really want to fight sec forces dressed in naught but a kimono, and unless that pretty dress is also armored and be-spelled, I doubt you want to do anything of that sort either just now….. Perhaps taking your new friend and making an exit would be wise?'

It's a long way back for the monk, from the path he was already walking on. First, it seems he doesn't care or doesn't realize Pemas act of altruistic sacrifice. Then his shoulders shake as he finds his way back into the struggle of life, sobbing. Then he rests one hand on Pema's arm and reassures her. Self-immolation is deemed a righteous and ultimate thing to do. And an act of altruism as well, since it trades terror with sacrifice. But never would he drag someone else into death. Pema has done the right thing. He whispers to Pema, calmly: "I see you, sister. You have spoiled an effort, but maybe you sparked an even gretaer one."

If Pema did listen to Silhouette's words, she would judge that the monk is not going anywhere right now. His mental state probably wouldn't allow that.

"If you want to die, you'll have to take me with you," Pema whispers to the monk. She rests her cheek against the monk's back, closing her eyes, as if preparing herself mentally to die in the fires that the monk is about to engulf himself in. When it doesn't happen, and he speaks to her, she still won't let go. "Oh great King, many are the pains one caught in the maelstrom of birth and rebirth must endure," she says, quoting the famous dialogue between the ancient Indian king Milinda and the Buddhist monk Nagasena, on the topic of suicide. "Who are you, and who do these Tibetan names belong to?" Clearly, she isn't paying attention to Silhouette's warnings. She was ready to die just now.

The monk replies, adding the proper phrase to her citation. Then he adds: My name is Danan, but keep it to yourself, because it doesn't matter to anyone else now. - The names? They are victims from past and present. The Chinese know we are searching our future for our homeland across the world and they won't give us any charity or compassion. We must raise the awareness and cannot falter. Especially among the few that we are, a single loss is a grave wound. And their doing is not right. We have to endure and to continue."

"The Chinese have caused us so much suffering," Pema says, her voice full of sadness. "But now as disease is spreading, people's minds are elsewhere. Are you sure this is the right time?" She slowly lightens the embrace of the monk but does not take her arms off him entirely, as if not entirely trusting in him not self-immolating. "There's more you can do in this lifetime."

Dana replies: "I now live on borrowed time, due to your actions. And you passed the guardian spirit untroubled, which means you are one of us. So you must not question my decision, as it was well agreed upon among the sangha. And I will not question yours, since it was pure." He tries to reassure her again to let go. "I will respect your intervention. Others might not, but I will."

The other two monks are trying to get past Silhouette who keep them at bay. They are upset and probably even ready to set fire to their brother themselves.


Pema lets go of the monk then, withdrawing her arms and slowly getting back on her feet. "We all live on borrowed time," she says and adjusts her outfit which now probably smells of petrol. "Do what you need to do, Bhikku, but know you have allies in the shadows." Only then does she begin to look around and actually realise the pressing situation she's thrown herself into. Clearly, she didn't think her decision through all that much.

Silhouette keeps the two monks back as best she can. She makes it clear she is unarmed and does not wish to harm them, but she also will not let them interfere.

In the meantime, Shining Mountain APCs are slowly pressing through the crowd of metahumans now. The first teargas grenade is shot, the second shortly after. Teams of eight are circling the whole congregation and the spell that kept the audience at bay is slowly falling apart. Someone is screaming badly, probably a serious injury at one of the APCs. The authorities are not playing a game here. The monk, however, offers Pema his prayer chain. "Walk towards enlightment and continue to do good with the courage you have.".

The monk then stands up as well, waiting for the Chinese security to get to him.

Pema accepts the prayer beads with both hands, bowing one final time to the monk before turning away from him. She begins to look around, pondering for a way out of this mess. She's standing right in the middle of it all, and the riot police are coming closer. She wraps the beads around her wrist, then joins her hands and begins to mumble on a mantra, gathering power.

Silhouette glances back at the now standing Pema, "Um, maybe now we can go?' She moves back towards Pemas position ready to bolt.

«Plot» Yin says, "Background count is three at the moment, if you want to use spells"
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls Centering + 5 (Focus) vs TN 2 for "Against penalties":
1 2 3 4 4 5 5 7 7 8 = 9 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls Sorcery + 6 (Power Focus) vs TN 4 for "Improved Invisibility F5":
1 1 1 2 2 4 4 5 5 5 5 8 = 7 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Lotus (#7659) rolls Willpower + Spell Pool: 2 vs TN 3 for "Resisting M Drain":
1 1 1 2 4 4 5 7 = 4 Successes

The secutity forces try to corner the whole group but this is bound to fail. Groups are breaking out to all directions, offering tight but available windows of opportunity to at least get beyond the immediate police line. Then, suddenly, Pema disappears anyway, under many curious biological and technological eyes, most likely. Not at least, Silhouette's eyes.

Silhouette sighs and mutters "magic, of course" in Japanese before doing a not so mystical version and trying to disappear into the crowds.

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