All Quiet in Music City

Entr'acte, part 3
Consequences

Shortly after their hard-fought victory at the mansion, the party commenced the usual looting protocols, finding a great amount of supplies, expensive items, gear, and a clueless Errol Mortimer who had been locked away on the second floor for safe-keeping. After collecting a number of important-looking files and documents for Victor, they realized that the mansion would actually make a pretty nice hideout (certainly nicer than the shit-hole warehouse they had been using lately). To that end, they tried and successfully managed to reinstate the “cloaking” field (for lack of a better term) that the vampires had employed. Because the magics involved were fundamentally different, the field would have to be “recharged” periodically.

As the night grew later, whatever had taken residence in Garth’s sock-puppet became more and more determined to break free from its bonds. It threatened Garth, it flexed its spiritual muscles, and Garth could tell that he would have trouble maintaining long-term control over the being. Opening up the Gauntlet long enough to send it back might also let in more beings just hoping for a chance to visit our plane.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party was disposing of the remaining dead vampires with a bonfire and began to pass around the PBR Tommy had picked up earlier. Sensing the spiritual energy Garth had sneaked into one of the beers, “Batman” (as Garth had taken to calling the being) demanded the “spirit PBR.” Garth sense a solution to his predicament, but he knew that there must be some ulterior moment for “Batman’s” demand. Drawing on his occult knowledge of spirits and their “quid pro quo” nature, Garth created an elaborate contract stipulating that “Batman” would not harm anyone in the party nor any of their friends (primarily, Mortimer, Victor, Lucas, Shawn, Williams, and Father Dave) in exchange for one “spirit PBR.” Satisfied with the terms, both parties agreed to the magically binding agreement. It was around this time that Mike (Clayton’s avatar) realized that he had a really bad feeling.

As the party watched the sock-puppet guzzle the spiritual essence, they saw it begin to glow with pale energy. Garth quickly removed the sock-puppet from his hand shortly before it burst open in a flash of light, revealing the formless entity they had encountered at the church earlier that day. “I have not delved the Umbral Abyss nor crossed planes only dreamt of in your primal hearts only to be imprisoned by a mortal conjurer,” it boasted. It thanked Garth for providing the means of its release, promising that they would meet again, and swiftly departed, its form blending into the still night without a trace. It was then that Mike realized he knew what Garth had summoned: The Doom, Jose Cuervo.

The next day, the party decided to check out a few of the Music Man’s former cover businesses, since they probably hadn’t received word yet of their master’s demise. In the process of investigating a bar downtown, Garth was accosted and mystically branded with the Greek letter “mu” on his forehead. His assailant proved surprisingly elusive, but they managed to track him back to Christ the King, Father Dave’s church. Remembering that the church had instituted a sort of neighborhood watch, they asked the priest why he would send one of his parishioners after them (specifically, Garth). The priest replied that he had given no such instructions, but he had heard about an incident at another church where a demon had reportedly been summoned. One of his parishioners must have mistakenly thought Garth had been involved . . .

With that done, they returned to the mansion where a special announcement was being made by the Governor. Due to the terrorist attacks happening sporadically the past few weeks and the bomb threats of the previous night, the Governor would now bring in the National Guard to supplement the weakened police force and to aid in bringing safety to the city. A mandatory curfew for all citizens would be enforced, and Guard patrols would make regular sweeps throughout the city. Edwards realized quickly that the Governor’s announcement had the hand of the Technocracy behind it, and they had only a short window of time before Agents would try to reinforce their position in the city.

The question was: could they get the Governor to call off the curfew and occupation before it was too late?

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Entr'acte, part 2
Grandioso Con Forza

After a day or two of rest, Victor came to the party with a plan for the group’s combined assault against the Music Man’s mansion. He provided a wealth of surveillance and information about the grounds and security systems of the mansion, and then he let them in on the highly-detailed plan. In short, a distraction team downtown would lure the police on a wild goose chase (or was it?) away from their true target, he and a strike team would assault the mansion grounds head-on, drawing the attention of most of the security forces, and the party would sneak in through a hole in the perimeter, heading straight for the mansion itself. Clint decided that he would best help the party by monitoring his surveillance of police communications and dispatch, diverting law enforcement away from both strike teams, if needed.

It was a sound plan, and now all they needed was the equipment to carry it out. The party knew they would be dealing with vampires, but very few of them had any helpful information for how to kill them except what they had learned from movies and television. They figured that at least some of the stereotypes must hold true, so they set out to get stakes, crosses, garlic, and other such oddities for their upcoming battle.

Garth decided that LifeWay should be their first stop, and he proceeded to steal as many crucifixes and other holy items as possible while Tommy Collins diverted the pot-addled clerk and the uptight manager. Loaded with the power of Christ, they headed to a Pentecostal church to enact the next stage of Garth’s plan. Bursting into the church, Garth strolled up to the main altar as the head pastor and some of his congregation looked-on, startled by his disruption. Arraying the crucifixes and other items on the altar, Garth ripped open a hole in the Gauntlet and attempted to summon the Spirit of Jesus Christ into the holy icons. As the energy swirled around Garth and a vortex from the void opened, Tommy tried to run interference on the pastor and congregation, attempting to shield their minds so that they would forget the insanity they were witnessing. However, the Sleepers’ witnessing caused a huge backlash of Paradox that somehow left Garth mostly unscathed, yet it interfered drastically with his summoning. A flash of light filled the church as a being of energy appeared, which then attempted to force its way into Garth’s body. Victor burst into the church at almost the same moment, drew his gun, and locked his sights on Garth, ready to shoot him at the slightest moment. Fortunately, Garth managed to hold it off and trap it inside Musta Krakish’s sock puppet (which had been surprisingly quiet, lately). Unfortunately (for Garth), Victor threatened that he would not hesitate to kill him if he did anything like that again. Oh, and by the way, “crucifixes are useless against vampires!” he informed Garth.

During that whole bullshit, Michael, Clayton, and Penelope were preparing weapons, gadgets, potions, and other things that would actually prove useful. Garth stubbornly held onto one giant crucifix, convinced that he could use it as a stake, if nothing else. And so, the party finished their preparations for the assault, occasionally interrupted by threats and promises of vengeance from whatever Spirit had become trapped in the sock puppet.

The hour at last came. An anonymous person left a duffle bag outside a bar near Music Row, which exploded as the person rounded the next corner. Police and emergency responders received a poetic bomb threat based on the “Hickory Dickory Dock” nursery rhyme. At the same time in Belle Meade, a maintenance crew with their huge truck was parked outside of the Belle Meade Mansion’s front gate. When accosted by security, Victor and his crew drew their submachine guns, opened fire, and set up a barricade barring traffic and entry/exit in the immediate area. On the other side of the property, the party stealthily crossed the disabled security perimeter, keeping an eye out for any reinforcing guards. While Victor’s crew engaged security, the party checked out the guardhouse for weapons and surveillance, then headed to the mansion itself. After a few minutes of clearing the mansion, they discovered that the well-known antebellum mansion was little more than it seemed to be. Diligent tracking, however, revealed an extra power source emanating from deeper within the grounds. So, the party headed carefully toward the signature, while the firefight at the front gates slowly took its toll of life on both sides.

As they headed deeper into the woods, Tommy realized that some kind of mind-affecting illusion was present. Just as he overcame the illusion and another mansion appeared before them, the ground trembled as dozens of bodies clawed their way out of the earth. The zombies proved little trouble for the group, but their summoning seemed to serve as more of an alarm than an actual deterrent. For, soon afterward the party met a hail of bullets coming from the new mansion that had appeared before them. After some quick spells and shooting, whatever enemies had opened fire appeared dead.

The party quickly licked their wounds and headed into the mansion. Finding no luck with light sources, Penelope tried to provide some illumination before they were ambushed. Unfortunately, a large cloud of suffocating darkness descended upon the group, and the true battle began. A long, arduous battle took place with shadows rising up to attack the party, spontaneous combustion erupting around them, bullets flying with minimal effect, and even a few instances of mind-control. As several members of the party looked near-death, outside influence from The Greek (?) turned the tide. Finally, the Music Man himself was brought down, and the rest of the vampires tried and failed to flee.

After burning most of the vampires, Victor (who had left the battle at the gates when fight in the mansion had begun) told the party he would be taking two of the vampires back with him. He then reminded them that they owed him the agreed-upon documents, files, and information that must be stored somewhere on the grounds. Anything else the party wanted would be theirs.

After some quick searching, they rescued Mortimer and found what appeared to be the Music Man’s “command center” with surveillance feeds of the grounds and of several “dive bars” around the city and a number of computer and paper files.

Clint reported that he had successfully diverted the police away from the Mansion, giving them some time to collect themselves and figure out what lay in store for them next.

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Entr'acte, part 1
Picking Up the Pieces

A new dawn rose over the city, bringing light to the chaos from the night before. As usual Clayton was the first to rise, followed shortly by Jonathan and Edwards who both briefed him on potential targets they should exploit as soon as possible. Edwards urged the group to get surveillance into the police communications networks so that they could more easily keep an eye on events in the city. Jonathan, however, was more concerned with finding Professor Mortimer and making sure that he and his work would not be a liability, especially since he was known to have connections with Corbin and probably the Music Man.

Wayne had disappeared at some point in the night, but his absence was soon replaced with the arrival of two new faces: Tommy Collins and Michael Calvin. These two folks were friends of Shawn’s who had been given them the group’s “secret” location in the hope that they could locate Wayne for him. After some quick background checks, the two newcomers assimilated into the group easily enough. John Marshall also brought in a fellow Etherite named Penelope whose specialty tended more towards advanced and experimental weapons. Several members of the group noted that they would need a new “hideout” pretty soon, considering all the additional “personnel.”

Soon, though, it was time for the party to make their first move: implant surveillance at the police headquarters in downtown Nashville. Clint made some sweet micro-bugs that should provide all the coverage they’d need while remaining fairly difficult to detect. Everyone else made preparations as needed. Garth decided that his time and effort would be better spent making sure that there were no more tears in the Gauntlet, so he headed off to the Hermitage. Penelope also didn’t feel like adding federal offenses to her resume, so she headed back to her lab to try deciphering a strange signal she’d picked up the night before.

And so, Clayton, John Marshall, Tommy, and Michael headed downtown. Clayton would infiltrate the headquarters using a magical ID badge he’d looted from Vance’s corpse and place the surveillance in the needed locations, Michael would circle the building outside, providing cover by detecting life forms near Clayton, Tommy would provide distracting music out front while also covering the entrance, and John Marshall drove in a circuit, ready to go at a moment’s notice. The plan went fairly smoothly, especially since Vance’s badge and Clayton’s appearance impressed the officers so much. After the bugs had been planted Tommy and Michael noticed a possibly-agent-looking-fellow headed Clayton’s way, but he was neatly avoided and there was no immediate or apparent threat after the man passed by. Clint reported happily that the surveillance was working as intended.

Pleased with their success, the group headed to Nashville State Community College to check up on Mortimer. They ran into a few looters awkwardly leaving with lab equipment and chemicals stolen from other labs, but they found Mortimer’s lab solidly locked with an electronic keypad with DNA scanner. Everyone tried his hand at the complicated lock, some with shocking results, but finally John Marshall fucked enough of the Entropic enchantment to break it open. Inside the lab seemed relatively untouched, but Clayton noticed some of the experimental weapons missing from a case he’d seen the day before. Needing help investigating Mortimer’s absence, they called Penelope.

Penelope was able to make some sense of various files and messages on Mortimer’s computer, most of which indicated correspondence between him and some mysterious person whose identity and location had been encrypted. One such message had been received at 8:00 that morning: “Evacuate in 5.” There was no other sign of Mortimer, but then Clayton remembered that he could just try calling Mortimer on his cellphone. Clayton managed to exchange pleasantries with Mortimer before the call was suddenly cut off, and Mortimer’s language indicated that someone else at his location had taken the phone from him. The group tried running a trace on Mortimer’s phone, but they could only get enough to narrow down a few square miles just southwest of downtown.

The party had a bad feeling that Mortimer was now firmly in the hands of the Music Man. They had been invited to his mansion the previous night, but they suspected that their invitation had expired due to recent events. They were not eager to storm what they suspected to be a stronghold without any surveillance or backup first. So, they contacted Williams who then put them into direct contact with The Greek.

The Greek was very eager to provide whatever help the party wanted, so long as they guaranteed that they would kill the Music Man and transfer all records, disk drives, and other information resources to his control. In exchange, he would give them all available surveillance, information, and backup that he could muster. It would take a few days for him to gather the resources together, but he promised quality results.

Satisfied with their bargain, the group decided to take a well-earned rest. They tried taking it easy the next day. Garth wanted some backup while he investigated the Spring Hill Cemetery, since his excursion to the Hermitage showed signs of spiritual activity. Clayton, Tommy, and Michael decided to help him out.

When they arrived at the cemetery, they discovered that there was indeed another rift in the Gauntlet. And, as suspected, it was guarded by something unnatural. A spirit had corrupted some poor soul into a blood golem that shot acidic blood any time it was wounded by various attacks. After a hard-fought battle, the group finally overcame the creature and patched the hole in the Gauntlet.

They decided to take it easy after that and to rest for their upcoming assault.

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Session 8
All Quiet

While the group was dealing with Wonderland, high school, a witch trial, and shadow-Afghanistan, John Marshall, a Son of Ether, was experiencing strange things at the Adventure Science Center. After dealing with some crazed Sleepers, he began to investigate strange readings of intense magical power emanating from southwest of the city. The trail eventually led him to Percy Warner Park, where he met up with the group after they’d finished their respective magical acid trips.

After catching John Marshall up with the details, the group began their investigation anew. There was no sign of Alan, and Lucas wasn’t much help since he’d been forced to navigate his own Umbral nightmare. Fortunately, Clint’s tracking device based on Mortimer’s specifications was still working. Unfortunately, it pointed them back toward the city. Before they left, though, Garth finally sealed the hole in the Gauntlet, ensuring that no other spiritual energy could be harnessed, for now . . .

As the group headed back to the warehouse where Jonathan, Edwards and Williams were waiting, they noticed a change in the cityscape. Streetlamps flickered, figures darted in the shadows, cars were crashed and abandoned. As they came closer to the city proper, they realized the glow of lights came from fires instead of lamps. People on the streets seemed overcome by waking nightmares similar to those the party had already experienced.

When they reached the warehouse, they all compared notes about their next task and made what preparations they needed. They debated whether they should head to the Music Man’s mansion for a final confrontation, for which Williams promised back-up from some friends, or whether they should find out where Alan had taken Mortimer’s machine. Ultimately, after some deliberation and finally tired of Garth’s Spirit-PBR shenanigans, they decided to go after the machine, because fuck the Music Man.

Clint managed to focus his tracker’s energy so that it pinpointed the machine’s location: the AT&T Bellsouth Tower. The group decided to head to a nearby building first to get a tactical look. Clayton used his enhanced scope to discover that there were three hulking humanoid figures and one regular-sized human near the top of the tower. The last one seemed to be Alan. He also spotted a group of people hanging around the entrance of the tower, and they seemed unaffected by the energies being emitted by Mortimer’s device. Meanwhile, the rest of the group started playing 3-man and attracted a group of crazed Sleepers who had to be dealt with quickly.

The group then prepared their best stealth abilities for their infiltration of the AT&T Tower. Fortunately, Clint knew of a service entrance that let them bypass the group of people in the lobby. As they made their ascent, they had a close-call near the stairs to the roof. The other group in the tower was none other than Vance with a few gruff agents in tow, but the party managed to stay undiscovered while the Technocrats headed to the top.

At the top of the stairs, the party decided to hold down the fort while Clayton scouted ahead. He was able to sneak past the agents while they investigated the top, and he even not-quite-teleported onto the platform above the roof proper. There he found the machine, but not before Vance called out to him to surrender and come down. Then, several things happened very quickly.

Clayton saw a rift open between him and the machine, and for the briefest moment he saw the void of the Umbra. His vision soon filled with the hulking masses of two Fomori, both of which immediately jumped in the midst of the agents below. Behind them followed Alan, who activated the machine as he stepped from the void. Arcs of dark energy flashed between the twin spires of the tower and Mortimer’s corrupted device. Alan had a gleam in his eye and seemed unconcerned about the agents below and the former agent in front of him. He mentioned only that it was all part of a greater design, everything from the past few weeks had led to this point.

He drew out a long-bladed knife, and Clayton and the rest of the gang (thank goodness for psychic-links!) decided it was combat time. Clayton leapt into the fray of Fomori and agents below him while the rest of the party burst out of the stairway. The battle-hardened agents seemed hardly a match for the Fomori, with two of them already down and another severely wounded. Suddenly, a burst of energy erupted from the platform, uniting the arcs and causing the whole building to tremble with the massive surge of energy being produced. Alan’s lifeless body fell to the ground, a small smile on his face.

John Marshall tried to stop the machine by collapsing the platform with some quick work with Entropy and Matter, but he saw the energy mass still growing in the air. Apparently, the tower was a focal point of Technocratic magic and was equal to a nuclear power plant without the messy radiation.

It was at this time the party said, “Fuck it” and tried to peace out before the energy discharged. They were halfway down the stairs before the building’s tremors made them realize that they would probably die in the resulting collapse/explosion before they could reach the bottom.

When they emerged on the rooftop, only Vance and one Fomor remained in deadly combat. Vance was lagging, but he’d been giving as good as he got. Clayton calmly pulled out his rifle, lined up a shot, and took out both targets with one shot.

Finally alone on top of the tower, Clint and John Marshall worked quickly to figure out how to manage the energy from the machine. Although it was damaged, the skilled technician and scientist were able to make some complicated repairs to the general working-status of the device. They discovered that the machine’s original purpose, removing Paradox, had been corrupted by a massive amount of Entropy and Spirit by Alan’s influence, and it was now drawing power for a summoning spell. Garth worked hard to close the void of the Gauntlet that had been growing steadily since Alan first emerged from it. Meanwhile John Marshall altered the energy being produced by the tower and the machine with his own use of Entropy with a double dose of Prime to try to negate the corrupted energy.

Finally, having done all they could, the party waited to see the results of their efforts. The arcs of the spires and a beam of pure white from the machine united in a brilliant flash of light. A glowing sphere of energy burst from the epicenter, expanding rapidly outward. It quickly enveloped the party, making their hairs stand on end as the tempered power rushed through them, and then it spread across the city in a wave.

When they looked down upon the city to survey the damage, they could see some of the figures far below cease their swarming and other erratic behaviors. It seemed they had succeeded.

The group made their way back to the warehouse to debrief with Jonathan and Edwards. They thought about dealing with the Music Man, too, since they were on a roll already, but ultimately decided to rest first.

On the way back, though, they all felt flashes of magic bursting around them. The energy had burned off the group’s accumulated paradox, but what had it done to the Sleepers who had been afflicted by torments of the Spirit?

The night had ended with almost as many questions as there were answers, and the group could feel that the true adventure was just beginning.

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Session 7
Masters of Artifice

Corbin and the party talked through their recent conflicts, explaining that the Vice Lords’ control of the city was all but cemented before they’d been interrupted by the events at Centennial Park. Nevertheless, he was prepared to let bygones be bygones, and he asked for the party’s aid: help Professor Mortimer find some invention he’d lost. In exchange, the party would receive compensation from the Music Man himself. After proposing this task, Corbin suddenly went rigid, said, “To kill me, you must burn me . . . like the Music Man,” put the shotgun to his head, and blew his brains all over Emil.

The group had no idea what to make of this sudden suicide, but they deducted that Corbin must have been manipulated somehow. They decided to leave the body and to take Emil with them for further questioning.

Back at Alan’s apartment, the group interrogated Emil for any helpful information about the Music Man and Vice Lords. They also looked at a map of all the locations they’d visited and compared them to Alan’s list they’d found. After some deductive reasoning, they discovered that certain key locations joined together in a huge outline of the traditional symbol for Spirit, and that most of these locations already had a confirmed Spiritual resonance. Their best guess: someone is preparing for a massive Spirit ritual, but of what sort?

The next day, Clint had to go take care of IT work while the group figured out what to do next. They figured that Edwin Warner Park should be their next priority since it formed the base of the Spirit symbol being inscribed on the city’s landscape, but on the way they’d stop by Mortimer’s lab to hear what all the fuss was. Edwards was still recovering from the battle the day before, and Jonathan decided to stay with her.

On the way to Mortimer’s lab, the party abandoned a much abused and traumatized Emil on the West side of Nashville near the old prison. They made sure that he had no hostile intentions toward them, and then set him free.

At Mortimer’s lab, the Professor told them about a machine he’d created that would lessen and hopefully negate the effects of Paradox. He had intended to use it originally as a therapeutic device for Marauders, but the device has been missing for a few weeks now. Corbin typically controlled who would be able to visit him in his lab. The last stranger he had met was a man introduced to him by Corbin, Alan Jennings. Mortimer gave the group the specifications and talked to Clint via cellphone about how to track down the machine, since it would be much easier to find with Correspondence.

Just when the group left Mortimer’s lab, Victor approached them quickly and informed them that Jonathan and Edwards had been attacked and needed immediate evacuation. They received a phone call from Jonathan almost simultaneously, confirming Victor’s story. He promised the party help from the Greek and his resources, and then quickly left.

When the party returned to Alan’s apartment, they found a bullet-riddled car and the bodies of three Vice Lords outside. They quickly evacuated a limping Jonathan and gravely wounded Edwards and found an abandoned warehouse a few miles away to use as a temporary hideout. Williams helped them out again, but the two Euthanatoi still needed rest before they would be ready for more.

As the party headed for Edwin Warner Park, it was already getting dark. Clint had managed to put together a tracking device that would track Mortimer’s machine, and the energy readings were also pointing them to the park. Upon arrival, they all felt a void, as if life itself were immobile. Off of one of the trails Lucas approached the party. He thanked the party for ridding Centennial of the Psychomachia. He’d tracked more spiritual disturbances to this park, and he offered his assistance once he dealt with it.

After traveling off the trails for some time, the group came to a clearing in which three human figures huddled together. When the group got closer, the figures rose and spined tentacles burst out of their bodies in an agonized scream. Musta Kraskish identified the creatures as Fomori, and the party hurried to fight the surprisingly resilient creatures. Lucas also joined the fight in a terrifying primal wolf form, and the Fomori were destroyed.

In the clearing Garth discovered a full rip in the Gauntlet through which the spirits must have come to possess the hapless humans. Clint fired up his tracking device while Garth began to repair the Gauntlet. As Clint’s device produced readings again, Lucas caught the scent of the one he believed to be responsible. Clayton hurried after him while Wayne dealt with his Paradox-induced Woody Guthrie problem. On the way, Clayton received a phone call from the Music Man, explaining that the attack on the Euthanatoi earlier was against his orders and that he was glad the group had decided to help Mortimer. He invited the group over to his mansion for a preliminary award and to discuss future matters. Clayton was in a hurry, so he cut the conversation short.

Clayton followed Lucas to the edge of another clearing, where he saw Alan alive and well, holding Mortimer’s machine. Alan looked down at the machine, and activated it. The world began to spin around the group, and each awoke to a different world around him.

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Session 6
Moderato con Brio

After making their trade with “The Greek,” the party headed over to Fisk Hospital so that they could have an easier time healing Clayton with the Life mage’s help. On their way, they noticed that someone was following them in a car. Wayne and Garth accosted the stalker once they’d stopped, and they successfully freaked the hell out of what seemed to be an average guy who was interested in them for some reason. Garth especially tormented the man before he finally left, and eventually they all went back to Centennial Park to drop off the Life mage before heading to bed.

The next morning, Edwards mentioned that the man who stalked them had an association with Christ the King Church, one of the locations on Alan’s list. Before they headed out to check the church, they noticed a car full of gang members waiting in a car across the street. They seemed not to be hostile or at all interested in them.

Arriving at the church, Wayne, Garth, and Clint decided to wait in the car to keep an eye on the car full of thugs who’d apparently followed them from the safehouse. Clint also was trying to track his signal on Jonathan, which had been disrupted since late the previous night. Meanwhile Edwards, Mike, and Clayton headed inside to talk to the head priest.

They met Father Dave in his office, and he urged them to listen to his sermon concerning the corruption in the city. During the sermon, Clayton looked around the office and saw a posterboard with newspaper clippings describing the terrorist’s actions from previous weeks. He also found a file with a symbol known to be associated with the Celestial Chorus.

After the service, Father Dave met with the group again and mentioned that his parishioners had started a sort of community watch that was monitoring the corruption in Nashville, and he encouraged them to keep in contact with him in case any of them discovered other influences upon the city’s welfare.

Clint’s tracking device on Jonathan finally started working again, and so the group headed to the Parthenon to investigate the signal. When they arrived, Clayton and Mike took point while the others waited with the car. Clayton and Mike headed into the treasury room of the Parthenon where they discovered Jonathan, tired but seemingly unharmed. However, a shadowy mass manifested itself and started to hurl itself toward Jonathan. Clayton called upon the rest of the group to get the hell over while he tried to bull-rush Jonathan out of the Parthenon. The shadowy mass began to possess Jonathan, but Clint was able to slow its influence while Garth tried to exorcise the shadowy spirit. The spirit then possessed Edwards, but Garth again began to exorcise the spirit. Ultimately, the spirit was banished from Edwards and the group allowed Musta Krakish to feed on the defeated spirit. They learned that the spirit was a psychomachia, a spirit specialized in using humans’ fears to its advantage.

Jonathan stayed conscious long enough to tell the party that he had experienced some of the Psychomachia’s effects earlier, before he had gone into his Quiet. He also related the few questions The Greek had asked him the night before, all of which seemed fairly innocuous. The group decided that Alan’s list warranted more attention, so they headed out to Shelby Bottoms (the closest place whose significance they could not deduce), while Jonathan and Edwards stayed behind at Alan’s apartment.

On their way to Shelby Bottoms, the group stopped at the Musica statue in Music Row to investigate where Alan’s body had been dumped. When they arrived, the party discovered a strong resonance with entropic magic and some other sphere. Garth then noticed a tear in the Gauntlet on the statue itself. He determined that it had been torn on “our side” of mystical barrier, and he spent some time to fix the tear. Their work done, everyone got back on track toward their destination.

Night had fallen, and the group knew to expect activity from the Vice Lords, now known to be the Music Man’s main muscle. Upon arrival in the park they immediately set an elaborate diversion in motion that successfully eliminated two menial thugs while leaving a third captured for interrogation.

The group began to interrogate Emil about the Vice Lords/Music Man’s interest in the city, but the thug was unwilling to say much beyond “We run the city.” Then, a deep voice calmly said, “Let him go, now!” The group turned and discovered a large muscular figure, wielding a shotgun and wearing a leather jacket and jeans.

Corbin!” Emil exclaimed.

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Session 5
Old Haunting Grounds

Desmond and Wayne managed to arrive safely in Atlanta, and they each made contact with local members of their respective Traditions. Wayne became fast friends with Garth, an itinerant ventriloquist, and Robby Rabid, a punk rocker, while Desmond was instructed to stay with Edwards during the pending investigation of his involvement with the “Nashville Terrorists.” Soon, however, a squad of Technocratic agents came to the apartment building where Desmond had been set up and where Wayne had been chilling with Garth and Robby. After Desmond made quick work of two of the agents, a third, Clayton, managed to kill him during his sudden Awakening. Wayne and Garth started to investigate the commotion, and Clayton tried to escape the building while following the instructions of his deceased drill sergeant (his avatar, he would later learn). Outside the building, he ran into Edwards who convinced him that he should forsake the Technocracy and join the Euthanatoi as a probationary member. Wayne and Garth eavesdropped on the conversation long enough to learn that Edwards planned to return to Nashville to investigate Alan’s recent disappearance, and they decided to join her despite her non-party-seeking attitude.

Several weeks passed before the motley crew finally returned to Nashville. They started at Alan’s old apartment where they found out that a body had been found, severely “drained of life” and showing extreme signs of decay, atop the Musica statue near downtown Nashville. The wallet found on the body belonged to Alan. The group then went to Fisk General Hospital to investigate Alan’s office and his corpse in the morgue. They found an odd symbol carved into the body’s forehead, which Clayton’s avatar identified as signifying the Entropy sphere. Edwards confirmed a strong ritual involving Entropy and another sphere had been performed on the body, but no one could trace the other sphere.

When they investigated Alan’s office, they discovered a ghost drive on the computer that had several files and folders containing names and locations in the Nashville area. They downloaded the information to a jump drive and headed back to the apartment to figure out their next move. After a few hours of preparations and shenanigans, the group finally decided to head back to the Parthenon to seek more answers.

Upon arrival, they found that small groups of gang members were scattered around Centennial Park, waiting for clandestine meetings. Clayton caught sight of someone monitoring the gang members with some kind of tech, and immediately set out to intercept him. Meanwhile, Edwards, Wayne, and Garth took a longer route trying to skirt around the thugs. Soon however, Clayton and the mystery tech-spy both found themselves being confronted by Men in Black while Edwards, Wayne, and Garth were hiding from the thugs Edwards had accidentally alerted. When Clayton’s pistol had no effect on the agents, he exerted his will to overcome the hallucinations. He then quickly dispatched the pursuing gang members and urged the tech-spy, Clint, to dispel his own hallucinations. When the rest of the group caught up, Garth informed everyone that a spirit of Fear was clearly trying to influence them.

Soon afterwards, Clayton was suddenly shot in the chest and the group had to discover their assailant. Through great teamwork, they quickly located and subdued their attacker. They were surprised to find that Jonathan was the one who had attacked them, and he seemed to be suffering from an extended mindscape, known as a “Quiet.” Garth made a deal with his attendant spirit to try to heal Jonathan’s Quiet, and the ritual seemed to work.

Wayne and Garth then successfully stopped another figure who had been observing them from a short distance. Lucas, a young werewolf, had been monitoring Centennial Park for the Fear spirit’s influence and was trying to discover the group’s affiliation. He responded positively when they offered to help get rid of the spirit and when they indicated that they were not allied with Vance. In return, he put them in contact with “The Greek” so that they could get a Life mage to heal Clayton’s wound.

In exchange for access to Life magic, “The Greek” demanded that the group deliver Jonathan to him. The group was reluctant to comply, but they didn’t want to lose time waiting for Clayton’s wound to heal naturally. True to his word, “The Greek” sent a car with a Life mage to the group, and they made their trade. They watched as the car disappeared, and then left before more trouble could arrive.

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Session 4
Time to Face the Music

Having arrived home, the group caught up with Jen who informed them of her capture and captivity the same night their original operation had occurred just two days previously.

The Music Man called shortly thereafter, informing them that Vance’s headquarters was downtown at Metro Police headquarters on the second floor. He promised a $20,000 bounty for destroying Vance’s operational center and an additional $10,000 for killing Vance himself.

After their conversation, Desmond got Jen caught up on what had happened, and then worked with Vasili to plan a list of needed supplies while Anders and Wayne made some helpful concoctions for the coming fight.

The fight came sooner than expected when early in the morning the party discovered that Vance and several agents had taken position across the dirt road in front of the safe-house. Vance gave them the option of coming out peacefully or “making things difficult for everybody.” Vasili answered by shoving a barrel of explosives out toward the car. Vasili, Anders, Wayne, and Jen took up defensive positions while Desmond dove out of a window to flank the agents. Vance shot a debilitating gas into the house and Jen failed a surprise attack against Wayne. Shortly after Vasili and Anders tried to retaliate against the agents, Vance shot an incendiary round into their cover and another agent threw a pen grenade that finished off the two unfortunate friends. Wayne managed to escape to the other side of the house where he used some fancy Time magic as a shield that helped him sneak away.

While the agents scanned the area to make sure that no other threats remained, Desmond met up with Wayne and the two made their long way to the far north side of Nashville where they could avoid Technocratic influence. Desmond successfully called the Music Man, who cut them loose and left them to their own devices since they had failed their mission with too much attention on them.

Desmond suggested that they try to head for Atlanta where they could each meet up with members of the Euthanatoi and Cult of Ecstasy. As they hitched rides and met various other people coming from the Nashville area, they heard reports about their various misdeeds. They also heard that crime in general had skyrocketed, especially with respect to accidental murder.

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Session 3
Reunions

The Music Man called the group back at the safe-house since they’d hung up on him before he could convey useful information like checking with a professor at Vanderbilt University about magic-related questions and the $2000 bounty he’d placed on any Technocratic Agents they manage to kill. After that, Desmond had a weird dream but couldn’t really make heads or tails of it.

The group set out early in the morning toward Waffle House and Wal-Mart since nobody had thought to buy groceries yet. After receiving a bunch of looks and after Desmond lied to his boss to get out of work, the party realized that they’d all been classified as terrorists operating in Nashville and their pictures and names had been circulated through every major news source in the city.

They bought some guns from Emil who recommended that they try not to meet face-to-face now that the party had some major heat on them. In the late afternoon, they finally headed over Elmington Park to check a lead the Music Man had given them. Desmond found traces of Jonathan’s recent stay, and he managed to reverse-engineer Jen’s hostile-detecting device so that it would indicate Jen’s location. With extra help from Wayne, they finally ended up at St. Thomas Hospital.

The group breezed past the reception nurse, intimidated the fuck out of the 5th floor nurse (whom Wayne tried to charm), and kept searching for Jen. Just as everyone was figuring out that more Mind magic was obscuring Jen’s location, the party stumbled into another agent. Thanks to some quick actions by Desmon, Wayne and Vasili were only grievously wounded while the agent found himself thoroughly stabbed and shot. As soon as they rescued Jen, the party found themselves facing security guards who were investigating the disturbance. Vasili shot one and made another piss himself.

When the party made it down to the ground floor, they discovered that the entire building had been surrounded by a police blockade, a helicopter had put a spotlight on them, and the SWAT team was preparing to move in on them. Instead of trying the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid route, the party decided to try to steal the LifeFlight helicopter on the roof of the main building. During take-off, Anders decided to take a pot-shot at one of the SWAT officers who was chasing them and received a chest-ful of 12-gauge. After hair-raising maneuvers, Vasili and Desmond’s combined efforts made the pursuing helicopter crash into the ground. With some Correspondence help from Jen, Vasili guided the helicopter to a golf course where they ditched the chopper and stole a new car.

The party rushed back to the safe-house having rescued Jen, killed a bunch more random Sleepers, and having become full-blown terrorists.

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Session 2
Machinations

The next morning only Desmond woke up early since his two compatriots were too hungover from vodka to be useful. He decided to make the most of his morning by recovering his car and trying to find out what the hell happened at Aaron’s place in Green Hills. Upon arrival, he noticed that several spy cameras had been set by the Technocrats, but someone seemed to have already disabled them by the time Desmond got there. Once inside, he found a gruesome picture: Aaron’s naked and disemboweled body hanging from the ceiling. A symbol was carved into the Akashic’s back, and his large intestine had been carefully cut and arranged into a symbol that Desmond recognized as pertaining to the Correspondence sphere. In addition to the blood trail leading from the bed to the body, Desmond noticed a large 5×5 foot area of blood on the floor that resembled some sort of design, but he could not tell what it signified. One part, near one of the edges, had a peculiar yellow tinge. Being creeped the fuck out, Desmond left Aaron and his apartment behind.

After catching up with Wayne back at the safehouse, and noticing that Vasili was still passed out, Desmond tried to hunt down information about Alan and Jonathan, but even his contacts in the Euthanatoi proved of little help. Frustrated, Desmond decided to go shopping for bomb-making supplies.

Meanwhile, Anders was having a nice chat with a psychologist named Dr. Malone who was trying to facilitate Anders’ interaction with the police investigation. Anders thanked the doctor for his aid and asked him to get a message to his friend, Desmond, but he couldn’t think of how to contact him.

After getting re-stocked, Desmond returned once again to the safehouse, and related his findings to Vasili who had finally gotten his ass out of bed. He also mentioned that a duffel bag containing $5,000 and a note saying “Baptist Hospital. You’re Welcome.” in elegant script had been left outside their door at some point in the night. The group figured that their enigmatic “friend,” the Music Man, had delivered on his promise.

As preparation for their rescue, Vasili arranged for his cab to have body-work done so that it would not immediately identify him to his enemies, and the group asked Emil to get some recon over at Baptist Hospital while they waited. They received enough confirmation from Emil that Anders was most likely being held there, and so they planned how to rescue their friend.

After Anders’ pleasant conversation with Dr. Malone in which he asked him to get a message to his friends Wayne, Desmond, and Vasili, another doctor said that he would have to go into surgery again because of complications that had arisen from his surgery in the night. Even though Anders didn’t believe the doctor, he followed Malone’s recommendation to take the easy route and accept the doctor’s words.

Unfortunately for the doctors, Anders woke up near the end of his surgery before they were finished. In a panic, the doctors tried to sedate him again, but Anders managed to hold it off long enough to use a Life effect that would allow him to remain conscious for a time while appearing to be sedated. As a result, he overheard that they were actually putting something inside his shoulder.

After the surgery, Anders had one more conversation with Dr. Malone. Having regained more of his senses, Anders began to notice a few things that didn’t add up about Malone. Eventually, Anders’ field of vision melted away and “Malone” was replaced by a middle-aged, stocky man wearing shades, a gray suit, and a cowboy hat. This new figure warned Anders about his current associations, but thanked him for his earlier information concerning his compatriots. He then threatened much harsher interrogation methods soon to come.

At the same time, though, Desmond and Wayne were already preparing to bust out their buddy while Vasili waited with Desmond’s car as the getaway vehicle. Having disguised themselves as doctors, Desmond and Wayne managed to find Anders’ room, but not without overcoming some devious Technological Mind magic first. The two steeled themselves for battle, knowing that an agent awaited them on the other side. Wayne botched a magical effect, but still maintained enough stealth to get the drop on the guarding agent as he exited the room to investigate. Wayne’s attack missed, but that put him directly in line with Desmond’s hidden blade. The first blow immediately crippled the agent, and the second strike through the chin to the brain ended the agent’s life.

They wasted no time in gathering Anders’ belongings and cleaning up the blood out in the hallway. Still maintaining the doctor facade, the three walked their way to the exit. Surprisingly, the met very little resistance all the way out to where Vasili was waiting. As they gave one last look, however, Anders recognized the man who had pretended to be Malone, and Wayne recognized this man as Vance. Desmond, upon hearing that name, told everyone they needed to get the hell away from there.

As the group tried to drive away casually, they caught up with their now-freed buddy, but two police cars, one after the other, both tried to pursue them, and both were easily thwarted by Vasili’s driving coupled with a smoke bomb from Desmond. Realizing that Desmond’s car was now compromised, they left it in the lot at Flying Saucer and stole a new one as quickly as possible. After driving casually for a few more minutes, they noticed that an agent was very calmly following them in another car. Anders realized that he may have had a tracking device implanted within him. He spent the next few minutes trying to force his body to reject the new implant, while Wayne and Vasili shot the hell out of the pursuing agent’s car. After a short combat, the agent’s car crashed into a median on the interstate, and Anders managed to crush the bugging device implanted inside him.

Once the group reached the safehouse again, the Music Man decided to answer his phone which Vasili had called 2 hours previously and had left on to keep calling. The Music Man congratulated the group on rescuing their fallen comrade, but Vasili and Desmond soon interrupted him with questions about the supernatural world. When they discovered that he knew nothing about Orphans, they began to re-evaluate his usefulness as a source about the Ascension War. He did confirm that he and Vance had opposing interests, but did not elaborate further. He began to promise further assignments, but the group ended the call. They’d had just about enough for one day.

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