Okay, after the event that happened at the quarry, the group's next mission was... to wait a few days to see if Alexander would hear from 'The Boy' about Hand's location and possible capture.
Basically, they had about a week or so to relax, spend some experience, and learn a few things from Alexander.
Steve taught Derek-Hans how to use a knife in self-defense.
Father John used the Flamel Capsule to gain Misty's Mesmerizing Appearance Bestowment.
Rudolf, over the course of the week, completed a transition to Mercurius so as to better understand Promethean existence in general.
And since the game was taking place in late-November 2006, Misty insisted on taking everyone out to a nice quiet spot on the side of the hill for an impromptu Thanksgiving dinner to teach them about the holiday. After dinner, though, Steve went for another Thanksgiving tradition... he wandered into town and got some wings while watching football in a bar.
And we devoted more or less an entire session to downtime stuff.
So after the week of rest and recuperation at Alexander's, the throng is starting to get a little antsy. Misty is worried about The Boy, and decides to head into town (where there's cell phone reception) and check a voice mail box Alexander's throng uses to keep in touch. Ander and Father John, wanting to check in with Evie to see if she found what she was looking for in her mother's old stuff, decide to tag along.
They drive into town and Misty drops them off at Evie's store (which is still open, implying that she's faking her fortune-telling now), planning on meeting them in a parking lot a couple of blocks away in about 5-10 minutes. Ander and John go in and have a word with Evie, who's a little nervous... I actually didn't mention it at the time because I didn't think it would be important and it was just gratuitous, but after taking away the powers of the quarry (and Evie's apparent immunity to the Disquiet), Father John made a pass at Evie and unintentionally pushed her into the first stage of Disquiet. This new stimulation didn't help, and she grew increasingly nervous while they were there as she was nudged along.
She kept looking at things that weren't there as she pulled out an old scrapbook that had a newspaper article... the article featured a story about an escaped mental patient named Matthew Gino who'd been found in the area, captured, and sent to a specialist in the psychiatric wing of Charity Hospital. She said she thought there might have been some stuff about him in her mother's old journals, but she checked and there wasn't anything of any significance-- just a few sketches of him and the like. Ander stepped outside for a few minutes to look around the area where Gino was found. He found a nearby city park, with a chevron symbol carved into a tree root... the same symbol that marked parts of the Flamel Capsule. Gino was definitely there. Back at the house, Father John and Evie talked about the pass he'd made at her and that things were kind of awkward now... she sternly but politely asked him to leave at about this point (thinking back, I'm reminded of "Good day sir!" scene at the end of the Gene Wilder Willy Wonka movie) without showing him anything else, heading to the kitchen for a drink. Being rejected by someone infected with Disquiet triggered a Torment roll in Father John, though; one that he failed.
Taking on the mannerisms of a knowledge-craving spirit (being an Ulgan), he stormed back inside to demand to know what she was keeping from him. The confrontion pushed Evie yet up another notch and in an attempt to throw a glass at him she accidentally shattered it in her hand. She then ran for a nearby phone while Father John caught up and snared her in a Fixed Stare. Ander, having heard the commotion as he returned, came inside and tried to tackle John to get him under control. He managed to break the stare, but then John hit him with Suggestion (with an Exceptional Success, leaving Ander unable to remember being given the command) to get him to return to Alexanders. He shoved John away and left, warning Evie to "run" as he did so.
Father John caught up with Evie again as she picked up the phone, ordering her to hang up and using In Vino Veritas to find out what she knew (again scoring an Exceptional Success). She told him about the old journals and that she wasn't trying to hide anything, and he let the effect wear off so that she'd pass out. For good measure, he used Waters of Lethe to blank her memory while he went upstairs and swiped an armload of books. On the way out, though, he heard someone knocking at the door. He slipped out of his clothes and wrapped the book in them to activate Chameleon Skin and went out the back door into the alleys. At about this point, the Torment wore off.
He got dressed again once he was sure the coast was clear and met up with Misty as she entered the parking lot that she'd left to check on Ander and Father John at the fortune telling storefront. She was very disturbed and worried, as The Boy hadn't checked in in a couple of days and that was unlike him. John told her Ander would meet up with them back at Alexander's and they drove back to fill in the others. On the way, by the side of the road, they found Ander... who didn't seem to know why he was hiking back to the cabin. He accepted the lift back while Misty filled him in on everything. Once they got back to the cabin, the Suggestion wore off (after all, its conditions had been met).
Misty filled the group in on her concerns, and Father John wound up confessing to the altercation at Evie's place... about the same time Ander was able to deduce what had happened, given Father John's talent with mind-control. He went out to the van and got the lochbar axe, taking off his coat and carring both back inside with the coat draped over the axe. He came in and threw the coat in John's face to catch him off-guard as he swung the axe at his jaw to keep him from using his abilities to end the fight early. The coat hit, but the pickaxe missed.
Alexander picked up his cane and smacked it hard against the table, announcing in a voice far too loud to come from his small frame naturally that "this will not happen in his house." Rudolf went outside in anticipation of the coming fight. Father John tried to explain to Ander that he wasn't in full control of his actions, which didn't change the fact that he did what he did in Ander's eyes.
They both turned to Alexander for his 'judgement' on the scenario. He said that Father John still did something terrible, but if they could not come up with another means of atonement then submitting to a single strike from the axe should probably suffice. They decided on the axe method and went outside.
Father John got on his knees at Ander's insistence, not making any attempt to brace himself or dodge, as Ander wound up for the swing. At the last minute, though, Ander just couldn't do it, throwing the axe aside with a loud roar where it lodged in a tree. Both of them stomped off in different directions to settle down. Father John called upon the guidance of Elpis and saw a vision of himself forcibly bandaging Evie's cut hand whether she wanted him to or not.
After a short while, Misty and Rudolf split up to go collect the two wayward throng-mates. They brought them back and made plans to leave in the morning for New Orleans. Rudolf was/is convinced that Baron Cimitiere had something to do with The Boy's disappearance, and that they'd have to deal with him soon. Ander asks for a spare shirt from Alexander, who is able to loan him one from The Boy's closet.
Also, at this point, Alexander pulls out some parting gifts he'd set aside, as is the traditional Promethean custom. He produced a book specifically selected for each one of the members of the throng. While not all of the players were present, I didn't see any point in holding off on who got what book so I just presented them all at once...
- Ander received a copy of "Exposition of the Hieroglyphicall Figures," by Nicholas Flamel
- Father John got an old 18th century family bible
- Jack Turner received a first edition printing of "Catch-22"
- Steve's present was a copy of "Art of War" that dated back at least 60 years, identifiable as having once belonged to General Douglas MacArthur
- Rudolf got an 18th-century copy of the Sefer Yetzirah, the Hebrew "Book of Creation" (the Gra edition, specifically)
- Derek-Hans got an early edition (not first-printing, but maybe like third or fourth) of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; according to Alexander, he always keeps a few old copies for 'newborns' that cross his path.
In return, Father John presented Alexander with the gold crucifix he wore, aware that he was changing as a person and didn't quite need it. The entire throng, also, insisted on leaving the Flamel Capsule with Alexander so he could study it (also, because they just couldn't keep hauling something that size around any more), as well as copies of the relevant notes they had pertaining to it. Alexander was uneasy about such a wonderful gift (after all, there are maybe half a dozen Flamel Capsules in existence at any given time), but said that he'd at least keep an eye on it until they needed it again.
Also, Father John had one last thing he wanted to do... guilty over the circumstances under which he'd acquired Evie's mother's old journals (which turned out to be not helpful at all), he wanted to send them back to her but knew he couldn't risk doing it himself. So he sent them back with Rudolf, who improvised an apologetic note for Evie. Rudolf also slipped a thousand bucks from his secret stash in with the books to try and smooth things over. The entire gesture, even if carried out indirectly, helped Father John hit one of his Milestones: Assist someone who is actively repulsed by his Disquiet.
They went ahead and said their goodbyes before getting some rest; they were going to leave at first light.
The next session picked up with the group on the road headed back for New Orleans. They were looking for graffiti markers that The Boy leaves behind as he often travels following the highways. They found the marker on an exit sign, indicating that at the very least he made it into the city before vanishing.
They found a place to stash the van, with Father John, Ander, and Derek watching it while the rest of the throng went into the Treme District with the car. They were seeking Sicky, the only Promethean they really knew well in the city. With the help of Rudolf's recently-learned ability to Sense Pyros following his Refinement change, they were able to track him down. He was nervous and freaked out, though, as someone named Cassius was chasing after him. He didn't know The Boy, but he offered to take the group to some folks who might if they got him out of there.
They did as such before Cassius could catch up to them, and Sicky led them out to a camp just outside the city proper. It was an old trailer park that had been converted and rebuilt for use as an attempt at a Promethean communtiy (which should seem familiar to some of you). They were led inside and presented to the camp by its leader, Papillon. They didn't make a very good impression, though, their intial response to the camp's presence being something along the lines of "Are you insane? The Wasteland is going to wipe out the entire state if this keeps up!" and they made sure to share this opinion.
However, they did put the word out they were looking for a couple of lost Prometheans in the city, which brought their attention to a scholarly Created named Ogilvy. A past associate of Alexander, Ogilvy was familiar with The Boy. He said that The Boy had dropped by a couple of days previously, but he hadn't seen him or Hand yet. The group expresses some concern, because of Rudolf's theory that Baron Cimitiere has captured them.
At one point, it comes up that Rudolf is the local urban myth known as "The Bog Man," but Ogilvy gets confused when Rudolf mentions he's been out of town the last couple of weeks. He takes him to a trailer they use as a library and dug out some newspaper clippings... apparently "Bog Man" sightings have been on the rise in the area around Rudolf's lair while he has been out of town. Rudolf grabs Steve and Jack and decides that the throng needs to head out to his place and see what's actually roaming around out there.
They drive out there, and on the way Rudolf is the only one to get that familiar tingle of Azoth as they approach the Bayou. They're starting to get nervous, as the sun has gone down in the meantime. While they're slogging their way through the swamp, a bunch of guys with AK-47's jump out at them, demanding identification. While the group and the guys with guns are locked in a stalemate, one of them checks a notepad and identifies Rudolf.
He gets the others to stand down and they explain that they are vampires keeping an eye on the house as their end of a favor to one of the Provincial Governors of Waco... the vampire that Rudolf met in Texas. They explain that they've been patrolling the area for the last several nights or so, but there's an intruder in they area they haven't been able to properly keep out. They explain that it's some obnoxious, dirty guy who uses a tarp as a cloak and is very powerful.
At the mention of the intruder being 'obnoxious,' Steve commented...
Steve: "Sounds more like one of your relatives every day."
...and was promptly asked to shut up by Rudolf.
The throng moves on to the house while the vampires go back on patrol, and Rudolf can clearly see the place has been searched. As he goes inside, leaving Steve out front to keep an eye on the place, he discovers his food has been gotten into, and muddy footprints have been left through the house. The house has specifically been searched, but not robbed or trashed. Also, two distinct pairs of handprints (one pair looking vaguely deformed, as if from a midget or something) were found on boards that were pulled off the back door to facilitate entry.
Rudolf uses Sense Pyros to try and pinpoint the Azothic radiance they can all feel. He picks it up out front about the same time Steve's senses pick up somebody nearby moments before a Tammuz wrapped up in a tarp drops out of the trees in front of him. Jack takes on Shape of the Barghest in preparation as he hears Steve announce that they've got company.
Everyone moves upstairs and the intruder identifies himself as Hand. They head inside to talk, as Rudolf wants answers and while Hand is reluctant to give them he knows it's just easier to get it over with.
First off, Rudolf asks about the midget that is with him. Hand doesn't know what he's talking about until Rudolf mentions the handprints. Hand throws open the tarp cloak, revealing two stubbier arms underneath his normal pair (one particularly thick and another thin), and the group recoils with disgust. Hand goes on to explain that he follows a different path than everyone else, one where he acknowledges his monstrous nature and revels in it... because after all, why would anybody want to become human?
Rudolf is horrified to hear it confirmed that he was just created to teach Misty a lesson about getting too attached to humans and humanity. But he's even more horrified to learn why he was kept at all... Hand describes a technique called 'lacuna,' whereas a Promethean can steal some of the gooey stuff that represents their enlightenment and such and take it for themselves. He, however, has perfected an advanced form of the technique that not only makes him more powerful, but also renders the victim a clean slate. That's right, he steals their memories and learns from their experiences in addition to getting their rich, tasty vitriol.
So every now and again, he's ventured out into the swamp, tracked down Rudolf in the house, and sucked his memories and Vitriol dry, leaving him in a comatose state for a while. However, this past time, Rudolf left town before Hand could come back for him (which is why he'd come back now), and he more or less acknowledged that his little project is going to be harder now that Rudolf's got some real experience under his belt. Rudolf, during this conversation, hits two Milestones at once... "Judge his creator, acknowledging what Hand has given up of himself for power" and "Learn the reason why the gap between his apparent initial death and resurrection."
(Just for the record, I swear on my gaming books that I came up with this character's concept without ever having seen "Dark City" or read up on it. It's the weirdest coincidence ever that the character I named 'Hand' (because of the way his limbs and head are arranged on his body) would have such a similar method of operation as a character named 'Hand' in the movie.)
Rudolf acknowledges that Hand is a twisted monster who needs to be put down, and Hand offers a chance to try. As we were running late on time in RL, we decided this was a good time to leave off so as to start off with what promises to be a long-ass combat.
We started the next session off with an interlude, although it was a little short because the combat took a while longer than originally planned and by the end of it we just weren't ready to move on to a fresh piece of the story arc. Which happens.
As Ander and Father John's players were able to make it this particular session, we started off with a session catching up with them. After waiting a while at the van while everyone looked for Sicky and hearing nothing from the rest of the Throng, the three Prometheans there felt a radiance coming their way... a pickup truck with a few Created in it drove up, stopping next to the van and asking the group if they needed any help.
Upon hearing that the trio were fine, they introduced themselves as members of a group known as the Mercy Mission; Prometheans who have taken it upon themselves to help restore New Orleans and maybe carve out a few nice spots for the Created in the process. They also took it upon themselves to tell the newcomers about Papillon's camp out on the outskirts of town. After they take off, Ander had a fun little observation to make...
Ander: "I think those were what Steve would refer to as... hippies?"
In a short, kinda glossed-over scene (as we were mostly focusing on getting the Throng back together), the three of them took it upon themselves to head out to the camp. They introduced themselves and explained why they were in the city, and Papillon steered them in the direction of Ogilvy. Apparently they'd just missed their comrades, and Ogilvy explained the sort of impression the rest of the throng made and where they were headed.
The three of them hustled out to the Bayou, where we did the whole kinda 'blurry zoom from one scene to another' to catch up with...
Rudolf and Hand, about to get into it out in front of the house. Now, it's your typical fight scene, so I'm just gonna skim over the details and share the basic outline and a few highlights... The scene started off with Rudolf's creator ranting about the power of the path of Centimanus (which triggered a Milestone, 'Learn about Centimanus'). They fought, with Hand sprouting bone spurs and fangs, while Rudolf fired powerful blasts of electricity at him. After the first blast, though, Hand succumbed to Torment... of course, given the sort of monster he was, he really was not at all worried about it.
Rudolf eventually ran out of Pyros about the time Ander, Father John, and Derek showed up, and remembered that he had a shotgun strapped to his back, which he then fired at his creator a few times. However, as he'd never checked, he didn't know how many rounds were in in the gun. So when he figured that he was out, in a moment of desperation he swung the shotgun at Hand, but it shattered on Hand's armored skin- allowing Rudolf to see the final unspent shell fall to the ground.
They traded swings (if not outright blows) with Hand wearing down Rudolf pretty quickly. At one point Rudolf moved up to the back porch, ripping off the door to use as a weapon. Hand grappled him around the waist from the steps and gnawed at Rudolf's stomach with his fangs. Ander, not able to watch any more, dug his pickaxe-like weapon into Hand's spine, and Rudolf slammed him with the door while grappled... snapping Hand's spine and bending him in half backwards. Hand was dead, and Rudolf proceeded to pound on the body until there was nothing left (think like the scene at the end of Sin City).
After catching his breath, Rudolf asked Ander for a little recharge, and after that he grabbed Hand's 'cloak' and used Firebrand to put a little brand of his thumbprint on it someplace Hand wouldn't be likely to casually notice for easy identification later. Afterwards, he went inside and got something to eat before parking himself back out on the porch to see if Hand would rise again.
We faded to black with Rudolf on the porch, coming back for the next session with the Tammuz remaining up most of the night so he'd be the first to know if/when Hand woke up following their encounter. Ander was doing yoga inside while he, Jack, and Rudolf (who'd gone inside by this point) talked about Ander's theory that what he's read about 'chi' is in fact someone describing an alternate form of pyros. This discussion went on until 4am when they could feel the rejuvenated (and reduced) Azoth of Hand calling out to their own from outside.
They sat there and they heard him leave, and shortly afterwards there were several gunshots from out in the middle of the bayou. When they looked outside, they saw that he'd taken his cloak with him but left an arm that had been blasted off in the fight. Rudolf buried it and the group talked about what to do next. Rudolf is still planning on going after the vampires at some point, but Ander stepped in with a suggestion of maybe taking a look at the hospital where Gino was confined to a psych ward for a while. Ander is still theorizing that Gino is a demiurge. They decided to go with that idea, though.
They waited until sunrise, aware of the fact that they seem to get a bit of a charge out of it. Rudolf and Ander had a pretty in-depth discussion about that... about whether or not an eclipse could screw with something like that, whether or not a Promethean would be able to get more (or less) pyros by flying around the world in a jet in the right direction. Because of the 'sun' thing, the discussion eventually turned to possible similarities between Prometheans and vampires.
After sunrise came, Rudolf fired up the generators and the throng took a few moments to heal and restore themselves before heading into town.
Charity Hospital was pretty easy to find, being a large hospital that was closed following the hurricane. They had the van loaded up with weapons just in case, and when they got there they found a symbol mixed in with the graffiti outside that indicated some sort of warning about Pandorans. They came in armed and Rudolf kicked the door in as they stalked around the moldy lobby. There was a directory on the wall that led them to the administrative area, where any records were likely to be kept.
Ander, at this point, brings up that from what he knows about horror movies that if this were a movie it'd be a very bad time to split up. In turn, Rudolf proceeds to mystify and confuse poor Ander by explaining to him the premise and formula of Scooby-Doo.
They get to the main offices. Ander and Derek begin fishing through the remaining moldy paper records while Rudolf powers up a couple of the remaining computers so Jack could see if there was anything left that might be of use. They find records indicating where Gino had been kept, his patient number, and where they would find further information on his treatment.
While they were poking around in there, Ander found the head administrator's office... it was nearly spotless, and looked like someone had been using it. There were medical books on the shelves, and a weekly planner open on the desk. He leafed through it, and only saw occasional entries along the lines of "Patient treated, sent home." and such, all written the typical script of a doctor. The planner was up to date, too, and open to that week (the game taking place in late November 2006). He shows this to the others, and as a joke Rudolf writes in the planner for that day "Doctor's employment terminated, sent home."
Then they hear footsteps in the hall... they poke their heads out into the door way and see a man in doctor's whites walking down the hall as if making his rounds. They called out to him and he came over. He had a face mask on, what seemed to be latex gloves, and a reflector on his forehead.
His whites were filthy and when he grew closer they could clearly see that the reflector was growing out of his head and surrounding an eye. His face mask seemed to be an extra layer of skin growing over his face, and they were pretty sure the skin on his hands was latex as opposed to there actually being latex gloves there. He introduced himself as 'the doctor' and was aware of the fact that there was 'something wrong' with them.
They interrogated him, sort of, and he admitted to being an unlicensed medical doctor with 'the gift of medicine' that he used to treat those who sought him out. He seemed to remember very little of his life before becoming a doctor, and expressed an extreme hatred of traditional hospitals. When asked about the tools he used, he explained he had no need of them... while holding out a hand and demonstrating that he could extend scalpel blades from his fingertips at will. They tried to convince him that he was not a normal human, to no success. He even held out his arm so they could take his pulse and they could clearly see at this point that the latex was indeed part of him, as the skin on his arm just 'became' the latex once it reached his hands.
Thoroughly creeped out, they managed to get him to leave them be while they went down a floor in search of the main office for the psych ward. They made plans to come back later and do something about him, though.
They went into the office and the associated records room (there were still a lot of old paper records left as backups from where things had been put into the computers). Ander, Derek, and Rudolf looked through the office and collected files on Gino and his doctor while Jack spoke with a spirit out in the hallway that looked like a 1950's-era nurse. They found out that he occasionally escaped and could often be found sleeping in the southwest corner of the basement level for some unknown reason.
The group left to get tools with which to break through the wall and see what was down there and deal with 'the doctor' after deciding to get something to eat. And we left off there.
The next session opened with the throng getting some breakfast, and then they used some of their stored funds to purchase tools for the purpose of cracking open that basement wall which they were sure would have something important hidden behind it. They waited until after dark to head back, weapons of not-quite-mass destruction in hand.
They managed to slip down to the basement, filled with mold and rats and whatnot. They found the room they were looking for, which turned out to be the room that managed most of the power of the building. It had obviously once had backup batteries and generators that had since fallen apart or were removed following the closing of the hospital. The wall in particular, where Gino was often caught sleeping? It happened to be the wall with the circuit breakers.
Something else was in the room, though... a quivering mass of sludge and what might have been a body began to move and when Jack leaned in to poke at it with a hammer it spit some sort of acid at him. It was a Pandoran that lunged at them and attacked. A solitary Pandoran confronted by four Prometheans, though, it was pretty quickly dealt with.
Rudolf started a bonfire in the middle of the room out of random trash so they would have light as they worked on the wall. It didn't take them long; between two Frankensteins and a Tammuz, the feat of strength rolls for hammering away at the roll did disturbingly well and they bashed open the wall to reveal a cavity behind it (and that they could have just removed one of the circuit breaker boxes to get through, but y'know what they say about hindsight).
Behind there was a big stack of notebooks, journals, and loose pages. They looked through the material and found what seemed to be early drafts of the notes that Gino had left at the house. These, while not being as complete, were greater in quantity and there was simply more there than in his house and lab. Rudolf and Ander, the resident Ophidians, gave the notes a once-over and determined that between this new find and the books of his they already had (in addition to resources scattered about the globe), they could build a Flamel Capsule like the one they found in Waco. The two of them immediately hit on this idea and just knew that one way or another they'd have to try it.
They immediately decided to find something in the hospital to use to transport the books, and everyone left Steve in the basement to keep an eye on things while they split up. Ander was going to check other rooms in the basement, Jack was going to check the psych ward offices to empty out boxes of records to use, and Rudolf decided to look for an infectious diseases ward so he could take some plastic biohazard bags that would be good for keeping the books intact.
While Jack was going through the office, though, he heard footsteps in the hallway... he peeked his head out and saw the doctor walking down the hall in the other direction, slowly and casually moving through the darkness. He slipped back into the office and cowered and silently prayed for the monstrosity to go away.
The doctor next made his appearance on the top floor, where Rudolf was rummaging through cabinets looking for not only the bags but any medications that hadn't been pilfered yet. He tried to keep quiet when he heard the footsteps, but the doctor heard him and called out to see if someone was there. Rudolf tried to make a run for it, drugs in hand, when he was spotted. His first thought was to just charge the doctor and deck him to see what he was dealing with. When his hand didn't break or anything like that, he stood there and waited to see what the doctor would do next. The strange 'human' grabbed him, and Rudolf proceeded to Shock him into unconsciousness. Then he used his gun to blast the smoking, twitching body into oblivion and threw him out a window.
However, in the process, the electricity completely ruined the bags and the drugs he had, fusing assorted plastics together into hot blobs.
Everyone else came upstairs after hearing the gunshots to find Rudolf discarding the blobs of melted plastic with disgust. They tell him that they've got something to keep the books in so he follows them downstairs to load stuff up in the boxes. Before leaving in the van, they drove around back to make sure the doctor hadn't gotten up in their absence. He was still there, so Rudolf drove over the body a few times...
...as well as set it on fire. Then they left.
(On a side-note, whomever wrote that character up for Book of Spirits deserves a medal for scaring the shit out of my players. :D )
They headed back to Dr. Gino's lab and saw a black SUV parked outside. Warning bells started going off. Their first thought was to turn around and drive away, but Rudolf wanted to stop and shoot out the tires on the SUV first, just in case. While they were doing this, though, they saw an Agent (but not the one they encountered outside the bar) standing in the upstairs window. He pulled out a gun and shot back at them as they tried to screw up his SUV some more. He hit one of their tires from a good distance before they drove back and he blasted out their windshield.
It was on, now. They stopped and Ander and Rudolf got out of the car running for the house while Steve and Jack got ready for combat. The Agent had disappeared from the window.
Ander went to climb in through a second-story window while Rudolf burst inside. The Agent fired at him with his gun. Steve came in a moment later and between the two of them they managed to kill the Agent.
Ander, climbing in the second story window directly into the lab, found something a little more interesting... there was a guy dressed in black except for a lab coat. He had in his hands one of those pole restraints used by animal control people and it was attached to a creature that looked sort of human, but feral and obviously crazed. It looked vaguely like a Promethean, and Ander assumed it was a Pandoran given that it didn't give off any sort of Azothic Radiance. But we left off there, with this new mystery presented...
...and picked up with Ander still upstairs with the guy in the lab coat and a... thing that looked like a Promethean, only not. Ander orders the scientist to leave, and he immediately takes off down the stairs, not wanting any more trouble.
Downstairs, though, he runs right into Steve and Rudolf. They grab him and interrogate him, pulling off a very effective good cop/bad cop routine and find out that he works for a company called Magnus Research (which can be found in the phone book, which seemed to surprise them a bit) and was looking for some sort of weird biological specimen. He swore up and down that he was just a collection agent who goes out and picks up stuff like that, and he knew nothing more about the company. Rudolf made a show of going through the guy's wallet and finding out where he lived and that he'd pay a visit there if what the guy said turned out to be false. They let the guy go after that and he took off running.
Upstairs, Ander was experimenting with the equipment in the lab. He wanted to transfer some Pyros to the creature, but didn't know how to do that himself (in other words, he didn't have Share Pyros). While everyone else was checking out the house, he was jury-rigging a device that would let him produce more or less the same effect once.
Everyone regrouped upstairs and watched Ander attempt to build the little one-shot device out of random junk in the lab, and in the meantime Rudolf lured the creature in with some canned peaches. They could pick up something not unlike an Azothic radiance calling to them from the creature, but it was weak and sputtering like a candle in a breeze. Rudolf used Lightning Therapy on the creature, and it visibly relaxed some.
Ander eventually finished the machine (and got enough of the idea of it that he could probably install a transmitter in his arm or something to produce the same effect... in other words, he'd be able to learn Share Pyros) and used it to channel some Pyros into the bestial creature, and the being (which Rudolf has begun to call "Roger") immediately changed in temperament, like a junkie getting his fix. The group's decided to keep this thing around, because they're sure it can be helped and maybe made whole, as they're pretty sure it's a Promethean that is somehow 'unfinished.'
They turn their attention to the vehicles afterward. They swipe a tire off the SUV to replace the one on the van, and go through the SUV looking for supplies. They find a map that indicated Gino's house, lab, and Charity Hospital, a shotgun with half a dozen rounds of Dragonsbreath flamethrower ammunition and another one of those computer terminals in the SUV and decide to take it out later once they know what to do with it. They're planning on getting rid of it, but have no easy way to move it -- the keys aren't in it, and weren't with the Agent's clothing. They also discuss maybe getting rid of the van and replacing it (maybe even approaching the Prometheans at the refugee camp), as it's probably way too recognizeable now to whomever the Agents are working for (especially with the damage it's taken).
An off-hand comment by someone (I think Steve) has Rudolf and Ander planning to dissect the Agent to get a better idea of how it 'works.' Rudolf takes "Roger" upstairs so he wouldn't have to see it when the Agent is cut open. Ander, when clearing off space on the kitchen table, finds a map of the Eastern United States. It seems that Gino has very recently (within the last few days) been here, planning a trip from New Orleans to Boston. Written on the map is a message indicating he's searching for "Moses Moon at the Lighthouse."
Ander goes ahead with the autopsy as Jack Turner uses the benefits of Barghest form to chase down the guy they let go and grab the keys to the vehicle. He hunted him through the forest, headed back towards town proper, and caught up with him and swiped his clothes altogether.
Back in the house, Ander did a complete autopsy of the Agent. The Agent was frighteningly normal on the inside, and completely hairless from the neck down. He also had a tattoo that said "Taylor #07" on his chest. All of his organs were in the right place, and were the right shape and size, and the only thing that was wrong was that the color was slightly off on everything but his liver. His blood also had a thick, syrupy texture to it that Ander was able to attribute to the fact that the Agent's entire system was infused with rich, tasty vitriol.
About the end of the autopsy, Jack returned with the guy's keys so he was on hand for this revelation. Ander is sure now that these things are being genetically engineered using Promethean materials. He closed the Agent's body up and shared his finding with Rudolf and Steve. Before leaving, "Roger" picked up the scientist's lab coat from where Jack brought it back and tried to hand it to Rudolf for some reason. Rudolf just shrugged and set it aside, and the creature looked mildly disappointed while they put the body in the SUV and hauled it out to the middle of nowhere. They removed the terminal and Jack proceeded to play with the buttons on the remote, one of which detonated the SUV altogether.
After that they returned to Rudolf's place in the bayou to regroup and get an idea of where to go next, pretty sure they could hear fire trucks out in the direction of the middle-of-nowhere spot where they'd left the SUV's burning wreckage. Seemed like a good stopping point for the session, and hopefully the extra week has given them time to plan their next move. They could have gone back to Papillon's camp to acquire a vehicle, check out Gino's lab, or just go after the Magnus Research office in town.
On the way back to Rudolf's house to regroup and re-plan, Ander shares a theory he has. He suspects that 'Roger' wasn't actually brought there by the operative (who may or may not have been some sort of scientist) and the Agent, but in fact found there. Ander's pretty sure that Roger was made by Dr. Gino and the people from Magnus Research were looking for it. Rudolf suggests otherwise, though, as Roger seemed to show an affinity for the lab coat the operative was wearing. Ander points out, though, that perhaps the lab coat (or one just like it) originally belonged to Dr. Gino.
Just when they're about to get to Rudolf's place, they remember that nobody bothered to pick up the restraint lead that was being used on Roger when they first found him, so they swing back around to go get it. As Rudolf was in the middle of putting together a plan to come down like the wrath of God on Magnus Research, he suggested that they just go after them now. They put together a plan.
First, they head out to the slums to seek out a car that's 'outdated and heavy.' They manage to find one parked on the street, and in the middle of discussing how best to get into it, this little exchange occurs...
Steve: "So you want me to rip the door of the hinges?"
Rudolf: "You have no idea how much I do."
Ander, in the end, just breaks the window and unlocks the door. They get in, and Rudolf goes into a little spiel explaining to Steve how to hotwire the car (assuming, incorrectly, that Steve didn't know how to do that already). Steve hotwires it and they drive it and the van out to the area where the office is.
They stash the van a short distance away, and get a look at the rear entrance of the building. There was a metal security door with a keypad and a camera in a metal housing trained on it. They head back around front and use some chains to chain the stolen car to a lamppost and leave Steve there to start it up, put a brick on the accelerator, and aim it at the front doors. Ander and Rudolf go around back with a cinder block and a shotgun, respectively, while Derek stands in a place where he can see the front and be seen by the team in the back.
Steve starts the car and puts the brick on the gas pedal. While the chain is strained against the lamppost, Steve uses Ander's lochbar axe to break the chain and let the car accelerate towards the front of the building. At the exact moment the car hits the front doors (with Derek directing Ander and Rudolf for the timing), Rudolf uses his shotgun to blast away a chunk of the housing protecting the camera and Ander uses the cinder block to wreck the camera the rest of the way. The whole operation was timed so the car hitting the front doors would cover up the noise of the shotgun and the cinder block, and it seemed to work out well in that regard.
They regroup in the back and Derek agrees to stay outside as a lookout while Ander uses Transformation to turn the door into glass, and proceeds to shatter it. The throng slips inside and prowls through the hallways, and finds the elevators... with one of the Taylor-'model' Agents guarding the doors with a gun already drawn.
Ander takes his lochbar axe and throws it at the Agent, lodging it firmly in his side. Before the Agent has the chance to return fire, Steve runs up and quickly dispatches it with two knife strikes. Ander checks the guy's chest for a tattoo, and there it is: "Taylor #08"
Now they've got some time to look over the directory. The building was 9 stories, and it appeared that everything from the 5th Floor up was laboratories. The throng looked over room numbers, trying to see if anything looked out of place -- like if one floor should have more rooms than the directory would indicate, for example -- Ander, however, saw something a little more disturbing. There was a symbol, apparently the company emblem for Magnus Research, on the directory. He'd seen it before, but not since leaving the castle where he was 'born.'
It was a phoenix symbol that made up part of the coat of arms of Dr. Zettler, one of the men who created Ander. And at that point he remembered why 'Magnus Research' sounded familiar... Zettler grew up in a district of Bremen, Germany called "St. Magnus."
In a moment of worry slowly snowballing towards panic, Ander shares this revelation with Rudolf and Steve, and while they're figuring out what this could mean Rudolf takes a bullet in the shoulder.
Two more security guards, identical to each other but not any of the Agents yet seen, came down from lobby (where the car was visible, having run into the doors), firing a few more shots at the throng. Then they lower their weapons and announce that those were warning shots and that the Prometheans are being allowed to leave quietly if they so wish.
Rudolf makes a show of taking them up on their offer, walking past them unmolested towards the lobby. Ander tries and fails to engage them in conversation, and Steve puts his knife away. Rudolf blasts them with Shock, and they open fire on him before he Shocks them again and they fall to the ground, apparently unconscious already.
Steve and Rudolf remain standing back while Ander moves in and checks their chests for tattoos, and finds "Goddard #09" and "Goddard #10" on them. Without warning, though, they jump back up and attack him. Steve shoots at one of them with the gun he picked up off of Taylor and the other one grapples Ander and uses him as a shield. Rudolf Shocks them again, expecting Ander's Transmutations to convert the damage into Pyros (which it doesn't), and the Agents drop again.
For good measure, Ander splits the head of one of them with his lochbar axe and Rudolf blows the brains out of the other with his shotgun.
Knowing better than to take the elevator, the throng runs to the stairwells and begins to ascend the stairs. A PA system comes on, and a familiar (well, familiar to Ander) voice greets them... it's Dr. Zettler. He explains, quite simply, that this isn't a good time for him, and asks if they can postpone this for later. They rush up the stairs, sure he's going to escape via "a helicopter or teleporter or something," when the building shakes from the explosion that's just decimated the top several floors.
Rudolf, to Ander: "After this we're going to have a talk about this guy; he travels by explosion."
Steve ran like hell to regroup with Derek while Ander and Rudolf braved the burning building to investigate the devastated floors. They proceed to find a few bodies... mostly janitors, a couple of people who were in hospital beds, and one guy in an office who looks like he blew his brains out with a gun (the remains of which were melting into the carpet) at some point before the explosion. Rudolf moved the bodies into the stairwell with the intent of reclaiming them later and putting them to some use.
Once they'd reached the roof, the building's structure seemed kind of shaky so Ander suggested jumping across to the next building for their descent rather than risk being caught in a collapse. Rudolf, not entirely happy with leaving behind his 'bounty,' agreed and they both leapt across to the next office building. They went downstairs and everyone regrouped at the van, headed back to Rudolf's for some actual rest this time.
Now, this is where the game left off on a hiatus. A little anti-climactic, I'll admit, but the way I had the session paced didn't prepare for them to actually investigate the burned-out structure of the building with any real detail. Either way, with any luck, the game will return next Thursday. Let's hope, eh?