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  2. Courtney had stayed silent through Devin's voiced support and Sean's naked hostility, throwing the former a grateful glance and the latter a neutral one before settling down to observe the team gradually - and with some bickering - coalesce back together, Hank and Jason's dad were watching with wary astonishment that matched Taggart's, while Cook looked as though his stomach was giving him problems again. "Thirty armed security on duty. Not prison guards - military equipment or slightly better." Jason said with about as much tension in his voice as he'd have talking about the weather. He was looking over Sean's shoulder as the technokinetic pulled up security feeds. "You can blind them and silence their comms?" he asked Sean, who nodded. "Okay, do that as soon as we're in. Without the ability to coordinate it'll give us extra time before they can move against us properly." He squinted at the display thoughtfully. "Place seems to be an armory and barracks for the most part. Underground vehicle garage here. They have a couple of labs there - Etienne seems to be held in one of them. And some cells." He looked at Annette. "What are the odds that Crossroads are involved in human experimentation?" The pretty older woman shrugged. "Based on reports I've seen, I would not put it past them. They've run highly unethical drug trials in third world countries before. Why do you ask?" "It's the most logical reason for them to build a huge prison overhead. Plenty of experimental stock, not many people on the outside that would care about them." Jase went back to looking at the floor plan. "Corridor outside the room Eddy's in. I can seal that off with a couple of walls to buy us time once we're there." He studied the map one more time, committing it to memory. "Okay. I'm ready to go when you all are." He straightened and looked at Devin, then Taggart. "We'll need a large open room to jump from and back to." Taggart nodded, getting to his feet. "Follow me. We've got an underground loading dock. It should be big enough." He glanced at the teens, curiousity warring with his stoic professional demeanor. "Who's going?"
  3. Today
  4. "Yay, more infighting." Marissa slowly pumped her arms in a monotone, heartless cheer at Sean's input on the Courtney situation. "There," Devin pointed at the display of the prison, a small map of the underground complex with a series of colors and blinking icons that represented doors, whether they were locked or not, what level access was required to open them and the variety of security and safety measures in place on a small scroll to the side. Touching the door or security/safety feature opened an icon describing the condition of the selected object. "There's where Eddy is. That room." "You're sure?" Sean asked. "Mostly," Devin shrugged. "So, I've only done this once before and only with me. Trying to pop in somewhere I'm not supposed to be and that I've never seen takes," he paused searching for the words as he let out a deep exhale. "Focus, and it's disorienting, at least for me. Autumn folded her arms and glared daggers at Devin. Accusingly she inquired, "And just where did you go that you weren't supposed to be?" In the sudden silence everyone's heads slowly turned to Devin as he felt every eye upon him. He looked at everyone, suddenly at a loss for words. Finally he offered Autumn one of his puckish rogue smirks. "...we're gonna need some room." He went on, evading her question. "Last time, with just me, there was feedback, a lot of it." "What sort of feedback?" Jason asked. "The trip happens in an instant. It's like flying a plane that crashing to the ground though. I want to go somewhere, but the energy required to do so is fighting me because it doesn't know where 'somewhere' is. It lacks data." Cade nodded, remain stoic as tumbled through a million phrases of internal dialogue. "Like home, or school, places familiar to you." "Exactly," Devin pointed to him, giving him props. "Me building up the energy to make the jump is like the pilot wrestling with the controls to keep the plane on target so I can land it safely. As you may imagine, the landing isn't pretty. I'm collecting and holding that energy, sheathing us in it, and bulleting us through space with it. The release when we arrive, well, with just me, it was like setting off a concussion grenade. Like if Jase did a TK blast in a small sphere around him. With all of us?" "So it won't be quiet, and dropping in on Etienne might put him in danger." Charlie massaged his chin as he looked at the map. "Here," he pointed to the map. "There's a large room here, possibly storage, looks like a large enough landing site. From there to Etienne's room it's maybe, what? A hundred yards?" "Ninety one, in a straight line. Hundred and three if we include all the turns." The teleporter added. On the far side of the room Taggart looked up to Annette and quietly expressed his feeling on everything that was transpiring. "Are these children seriously planning and executing an operation to extract an HVI from a maximum security hard target, in seven minutes?" "I know Major," she watched intently as everything continued to be planned around them. "I'm just as intrigued as you are. These children are amazing." Sophia stood from her seat and approached the teens looking and and pointing at the holo-map. "So, if I'm hearing you guys right, you'll arrive with the force of a bomb going off, and have to make it a hundred and three yards into a locked cell while elite paramilitary mercenaries are closing in on your location with orders to terminate with extreme prejudice?" Sophia buried her face in her hand, "You guys are un-fucking believable. You'd have to be legally insane to think for a second that any of this is going to work." Devin and Jason just looked at each other, barely concealing their grins. "They have an army," Sophia protested. "We have a Charlie." Devin rebuked her argument flatly. "Fighting The Dark, surviving Shadow hordes from other planes, and doing the shit that no else thinks is a good idea or even possible? That's just our everyday, baby. Just kick back, let the magic happen." Devin motioned to Charlie while offering a nod to Sophia. "Feel free to use that later, bro. Now... where can we get some room around here?"
  5. Yesterday
  6. Sean's slender shoulders shifted under his friends' hands as he interlaced his fingers and stretched out his arms, cracking his knuckles. His blue laptop - sequestered from his other devices, as he used it for more... greyhat activities - flickered to life with a mere glance, his fine fingers hovering over the keyboard. He didn't really need the laptop for psionic chihackery, but it was familiar and comfortable, providing him a convenient path to his destination even though he could fly overhead. It also gave him a second, more conventional avenue of penetration, so he could go one way or the other, or even both, or use one route to benefit the other. Plus, he could use the laptop to show others the feeds he was tapping into, and store any paydata for later review and exploitation. Y'know, just in case. Sean dove back into the panoramic and prismatic streams and rivers of data that his mind perceived as cyberspace, the Matrix, whatever you wanted to call it. The experience was as exhilarating as every other time he had done so, under the influence of Jase's and Charlie's personal Shine, it was also... heightened. The landscapes that stretched up and down from the pools the streams and rivers flowed into and out of seemed to have more... structure, more detail readily apparent. And Sean was far more intuitively aware of himself and his place and connection to this digital Wonderland. It didn't take the voluptuous redhead long to find Crossroad Prison's network, and he barely slowed as he seeped unobtrusively through it's conventional firewalls. Its digital protections were more than decent, but still, Sean expected they would be way better than there were, when so much of the Prison Complex was controlled and automated electronically. He could cause plenty of chaos right now, before they had a chance to flip any manual overrides. As he skulked confidently through the Crossroad Prison Network, various feeds bloomed on his laptop monitor. He shared a look with Jase when it was mentioned that the trailer was Kline's. That needed a lot of followup, but right now, what Sean really wanted was those holographic displays. Well, there were some right there, embedded into the table, not even being used at the moment. "Mind if I borrow your fancy holo-projectors?" Sean asked somewhere between Taggart and Giles. "By the way, I totally want to take a look at those, later. And if you have any extras laying around... " "Pardon?" Annette said, with an immaculate raised brow. "Never mind. I got this, give you guys a look at what you're dealing with." Sean made a gesture as though grabbing something from his laptop and throwing it over the conference table. The holo-projector switched on with a muted hum, holographic screens shivering into existence above the table, blown up feeds from his laptop. He continued his digital strutting through the network, learning over his laptop with his eager intensity, even though he wasn't really using it. When he found the backdoor into the Secret Complex below, he slammed the table with a small fist in victory. "Found you, motherfuuu..dger," he crowed, adjusting his victorious curse for all the adults in the room out of habit. The security about the backdoor was considerably more sophisticated than that of the Prison Complex above. CIA/NSA/whatever Alphabet agency you wanted to name - level, at least. He'd taken a look at such before, out of unbridled curiosity, but hadn't dared tried penetrating something of that level before, just lower key government systems. Sophisticated and robust as it was though, it was still designed to deal with conventional electronic shenanigans, not Psi-hackery. Sean had looked at coding after manipulating things technokinetically. At first, it had looked normal, but on closer inspection, it was so much more, and beautiful. Like a Mandelbrot set, that revealed ever finer recursive coding the closer you looked, fantastic fractal patterns hidden in plain sight if you didn't know how to perceive them. The best digital protection could slow him down, but it was blind to what he was actually doing. "I'm in. " Many more holographic projections appeared with the plethora of info Sean now had access to. He leaned back in his chair, considering them. This place was state-of-the-art, maybe even beyond what was commonly believed to be SOTA in most cases. And yet, it seemed to be a weakness when there was someone like him that could do what he could do. Thermal sensors, Ultrasonic detectors, Infrared cameras... It let him pinpoint practically everyone in the complex. And he could control access to nearly any section of the place, not mentioning what he could do with fucking around with the safety systems in place required for an hidden, underground complex. "Halon fire suppression..." Sean mused idly. He wouldn't really, but if things went super sideways, and it was the only option.... Could he? "Technically Halon is banned. People use FE-13 now - but it works the same way: interrupting the chemical process of combustion. It's non-lethal," Jason commented offhandedly. "If the system does use Halon, then it was probably installed before 1989." Several teenagers and adults turned to look at him. Jason returned to looks with reptilian blandness. "Which, considering Crossroads was constructed in the 90's, raises some interesting questions." Autumn huffed. "...You could have led with 'Hey guys, I think the underground complex is older than the prison and here's why'. But no, you have to give a lecture." "Learning is a process." There was tiniest curve to one side of Jason's lips. "There's a lot we're learning," Sean growled, which didn't sound nearly as disgusted as he'd like with his decidedly feminine voice. Across the table and through the holographic displays, Sean shot daggers of hate at Courtney, not at all comfortable with Devin playing white knight to the malicious turncoat. Even before the advent of psionic aptitude - And when did Courtney first develop her own powers? - she had made his life hell, and Sean wasn't nearly ready to offer any hint of forgiveness. If she was a telepath, it's not like the Project could really lie to her. She was just switching sides because it was convenient. He didn't trust the bitch an inch, since he was eleven and she'd pulled his layers shirts off in the middle of gym class. "Being a freak like the rest of us, doesn't give that... Courtney a pass for everything she's done," Sean said adamantly. The look he sent towards Dr. Cook however was mostly of disappointment and betrayal. He couldn't even hate him. Dr. Cook had really helped him, when most other doctors he had seen had been more interested in 'fixing' him, and not even able to promise that they could. He hadn't felt quite as disgusted as the others about the surveillance - Cook had watched him and tested him for years, even writing a paper on his combination of genetic anomalies - so it hadn't hit him as hard. And while it might have been in truth a eugenics program, it didn't seem he had forcefully directed the pairings of their parents, or grandparents, or anything like that. And if it had granted them psionic powers, he wasn't sure how angry he could be about that. If it had led to his condition on the other hand... But the man who was scrambling to defend how he had dealt with Etienne, and deflecting blame to Courtney - if that was what he was doing - seemed so small and petty, compared to the kind, intelligent, and empathetic doctor he had known.
  7. Literally thousands of pages of awesome game products—free or close to it. Plus squids, bats, flowers, Gustave Doré, and child vampires. It’s the Cypher Chronicles! The post Cypher Chronicles, vol. 8-20 appeared first on Monte Cook Games.
  8. In which Eddy and Dixie interview Josh about his work with Onyx Path and High Level Games, focusing on his Reach-Out Role-Playing Games project. Eddy’s eating Switch cartridges Dixie’s Pet Peeve Corner! Matthew also has peeves How Josh got involved with RPG design/Onyx Path A bit of Josh history Reach-Out Role-Playing Games Gaming as conflict resolution and peacebuilding An example of Josh’s work An example from Eddy! Playing as or with people from other cultures More on RORPG Diversity in tabletop Modules for RORPG Bringing RORPG to people who aren’t gamers A bit on backlash And a bit on allyship Matthew feels entitled We talk about Nintendo Switch, unsurprisingly Dixie’s mad about the Animal Crossing Switch Then we talk about modding systems; nothing is on topic after this Links: M20 Gods and Monsters: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/266029/M20-Gods–Monsters Adventures for Curious Cats: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/273857/Adventures-for-Curious-Cats Reach-Out Roleplaying Games: http://keepontheheathlands.com/rorpg/ Bodhana Group: https://www.thebodhanagroup.org/ Harlem Unbound: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/218062/Harlem-Unbound James Mendez Hodes’ website: https://jamesmendezhodes.com/ White Fragility: https://www.amazon.com/White-Fragility-People-About-Racism/dp/0807047414/ How to Be an Antiracist: https://www.amazon.com/How-Be-Antiracist-Ibram-Kendi/dp/0525509283/ Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: https://www.amazon.com/Black-Kids-Sitting-Together-Cafeteria-ebook/dp/B071KSKT3K/ iThrive: https://ithrivegames.org/ Werewolf The Podcast: https://keepontheheathlands.podbean.com/ HLG Podcast: https://highlevelgames.libsyn.com/ High Level Games: https://www.highlevelgames.ca/ Inclusive Gaming Network: http://keepontheheathlands.com/inclusive-gaming-network/ HLG Twitter: https://twitter.com/HLG_Corporate HLG Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/high_level_games HLG Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/highlevel Mage The Podcast: https://magethepodcast.com/ Gizmondo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gizmondo Hunter: The Vigil Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/339646881/hunter-the-vigil-second-edition-tabletop-roleplaying-game/description Onyx Path Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/theonyxpath Onyx Path Discord: https://discord.gg/5uckcBk
  9. Cade had largely remained quiet, there was little he could do to help at this stage. Of course the revelations, the fact Jason was on board for the prison raid, which would be a combat situation, it was all sorts of weird, and through it all, he remained calm, collected, no sign of his earlier outburst at his father evident in his features. As some of the abilities were revealed, and other questions posed, Cade took a moment to look to his father. "So you have these powers too, son?" Cade nodded. "Mine aren't big show-stopping abilities like the others, more like "unusual knacks." I'm probably a better shot than anyone here, and I'm able to tame animals with much less difficulty than is normal." "That damn squirrel..." "Yeah. That one's on me." He'd of course brought it home, and it had been something of a pest to his dad, though it quickly managed to get on Haruka's good side, as calm and playful with her as it was with Cade himself. His step-mother had kept Ian from doing anything to it, as it was friendly with her as well, and didn't really bother her. Courtney's entrance, and shift in loyalty was abit unexpected, and turned his attention from his father back to the proceedings. The Jauntsens were being themselves, but he said nothing. Both were justified in his opinion, Courtney HAD admitted to spying on them, using her powers on them, testing them effectively, so trusting her fully would be something that'd take time. All the same, we'd welcome her in as Devin did, because no one should have to stand alone against the powers that were in play here. "I knew we'd have a Telepath before this was all said and done." he mused, remembering a discussion they'd all had early on, and how that was about the only thing they'd been missing at the time.
  10. "Welcome aboard." Devin welcomed her with no air of ulterior motives or locked and loaded snark ready to be fired. Courtney narrowed her amber eyes, studying him for signs of a sudden, but inevitable, betrayal. "You can not be serious, Deejay." Marissa protested, turning her brother to face her while motioning towards the ginger in question. "You just witnessed how quickly he sold Cook down the river," he smiled at Courtney, lacing her contention with mean girl diplomacy. "No offense, we all get he totally deserves it, but she is loyal only to herself. Given the first opportunity she will stab us all in the back and leave us for dead." "Says Shelly's number one, self-centered bitch." Courtney hissed across the table that was, thankfully, separating the two alpha females. "Symptoms of extreme antisocial behavior and poor impulse control, including sexual mania, passive-aggression, panic attacks, mood swings, megalomania and narcissism." Devin repeated before the cat fight began. As he rolled off the list of Dr. Cook's assessment of the young redhead she recoiled only slightly as the adage of the truth hurting gave her mind and body pause. It was always hurtful to hear the truth out loud. "Have you met us, lately, Em? Any of us? Look around this room. Sean can't go one day without begin reminded he's different. Jason is one bad day away from murdering and cooking hikers in his basement. Cass has so many issues in dealing with her own problems that she has to go write articles about everyone elses'. Then there's us, sis. Our family is so fucked up, our parents have messed us up so bad that we have to around to other people and ruin their joy and happiness just so we can feel something other than this emptiness that is churning in our gut." "And now we have super powers? We're the freaks." He said. He motioned to Courtney. "She's no worse off than any of us. Just one more powered teen being used and lied to and stuck in a world where no matter how she tries to find herself her family or friends just fuck her up more. We're all we have guys. We're a ll quirky and we all have something about us that annoys, or scares or frankly just creeps the rest of us out... but we're still a Fellowship. So, if Red needs a side that's gonna have her neurotic, nympho back then we need to stand with her. It just seems like there's a whole lot of lies, conspiracies and planning been going on and the only we can trust right now are the people under eighteen who don't have agenda." He offered Courtne one of those smiles that moistened panties. "Regardless, Red. I got yer back." Marissa sighed, waving her hand as if swatting away her thoughts with a roll of her eyes. "Fine. Whatever. When you wake up with an STD, Lona hates you, and everyone else won't talk to you because this was your idea, remember that I went on record by stating: 'she's a triflin' ass ho'." She looked to Courtney and smiled. "Welcome to the Nerd Herd. Thankfully, I'm not with them. Enjoy being one of the losers, Courtney. It's about time you accepted your place."
  11. Cook's misery was not at all abated when he glanced to either side of where he sat. Taggart looked as though only strict professionalism and discipline were keeping the special forces solder from leaping out of his seat and throttling Dr Cook with his shoelaces. Even the composed, elegant Ms Giles radiated anger from her dark eyes as they, like Autumn's, fixed on the wretched fellow. Taggart reached over and yanked a file from the stack in front of Cook, sitting back and opening it. "Courtney Adams. Not yet eighteen years old, I see. 'Subject exhibits symptoms of extreme antisocial behaviour and poor impulse control, including sexual mania, passive-aggression, panic attacks, mood swings, megalomania and narcissism.'" The major fixed Cook with a gimlet stare as he turned a couple of pages. "Subject showing very promising telepathic talents, capable of influencing emotional states and even affecting memories in tests." He snapped the file shut and all-but slammed it down on the table. "And you gave her the run of the project." It wasn't a question. "And you had her 'testing' these other minors." Ms Giles also stated. "How, exactly?" Cook shifted in his seat, then reached for the file Taggart had set down, pulling it in front of him and opening it. "We observed on Thursday morning that several persons of interest - labelled as such because of their involvement with the finding of Dr Kline's trailer-" "The trailer was Kline's?" Jason looked sharply at Cook. "And everything in it?" Cook merely nodded, and Jase looked down at Sean, both of them thinking about the micro-nuclear reactor and the radio, two devices apparently placed there decades before but in terms of advancement being decades ahead of even 2019. "It was his initial research station, back before we obtained funding." Cook cleared his throat. "And no, I've never been there. Etienne didn't know what it was you found when he reported it. Kline just said it was outdated, done with and closed down. Anyway... we observed that several of you were exhibiting powers that, as has been said, you shouldn't have exhibited. At least, not as a result of our work. Upon realising that our spy had been uncovered in that same meeting, we put into place several other steps to keep observation on the group. One of which was Courtney Adams, who was set the job of gathering telepathic information and lightly probe at the interpersonal bonds between you all. She was only supposed to feel out who felt what towards whom, where loyalties lay, and so on. Matters began to get out of hand on Friday, however, when she fixated on Jason Bannon and decided to test him in more extreme ways, trying to provoke emotional responses in some game of her own devising. That was not what she was ordered to do." Cook clarified, frowning a little. "She went well beyond what she was supposed to be doing, culminating in an attempt to force a confrontation between a member of the football team and young Mr Bannon, to push him into using his powers defensively." "Why?" Annette looked at Jason, frowning, then back at Cook. "Some kind of power game - apparently she sees Marissa Jauntsen as a rival and sees Jason Bannon as a useful pawn." "Pshh." Marissa snorted with elegant disdain. "Someone has a high opinion of themselves." She would have doubtless said more, but at that moment the door swung open and Courtney walked in minus her usual sway and bounce, her face drawn and weary but taut with anger as she stalked to the table. Cook went pale - okay, paler. "Sorry." the crimson-haired bombshell said without meaning it as she pulled out a chair, seating herself. "I was looking for the Greyhound terminal and must have gotten confused by hearing the sound of bus brakes squealing as I got thrown under one." She fixed her honey-brown eyes, currently hard as agates, on Dr Cook. "You are so totally fucking lucky I'm worn out from adjusting all of Sheriff Allister's poor deputies or I'd give myself an aneurysm reverting your toilet training level to five months old." "You should be resting." Cook started, but Courtney made a dismissive gesture as she reached for a coffee. "Why? So I can wake up in restraints and be cleared off to site C like Etienne?" she asked with a smirk. "Site C being the prison, or rather the complex underneath it. You didn't know that, Cookie Monster, but I did. Those toughs that Kline sent - not nice men at all, but not much in the upstairs department. Disciplined, but not strong or imaginative." She looked at Ms Giles and Major Taggart. "Cook is full of shit. At least about what my orders were. He specifically told me to push Jason to try and get an idea of the extent of his powers, and perhaps push him into an incident that would give the Project a chance to swoop in, clean up, and net themselves a Bannon." She glanced at Jason, her crimson lips thinning apologetically. "That's what I wanted to tell you on Friday night outside Bunnees. But I couldn't, because this fuckbag would have found out and I'd have been disappeared." "What about the 'you're friends with the Jauntsens, and that's not good, join me and we can rule the galaxy' speech?" Jase asked, fixing her with a level gaze. Courtney shrugged, unabashed. "Totes sincere. As was my statement that I didn't orchestrate your junk being the subject of the school snapchat." She appraised him up and down through her lashes with a smile. "We can take that conversation up again after all this is sorted out, if you like. You've got potential." Her expression turned from sultry vixen to all business as she focused her gaze back on the three adults-in-charge. "For now, consider this my switching sides. Doctor Douche, I quit. Ms Giles, Major Taggart, assorted losers with powers - I'm now on Team You. Isn't that wonderful?" "Yay." Charlie uttered in a voice devoid of joy or excitement, the sentiment apparently shared by Taggart and pretty much everyone else present. Ms Giles was the only one who didn't immediately look at the telepathic redhead as though she were a scorpion in a skirt. "And what do you bring to the table, my dear?" "Everything Cook knows, unfiltered." Courtney shrugged. "To be fair, he's mostly told the truth. But those files there are the cooked books to trot out for inspection, for instance. The real files are on his computer." She fixed Cook with another glare. "If you'd been loyal, I would have kept quiet and gone along with the changing of the guard. For a man who was all holy about not having sex with me, you're certainly quick enough to try and fuck me when your neck is on the line."
  12. "Yeah, sure, rescue Clara's boyfriend. Got it," Autumn replied distractedly, reconsidering her initial plan in the wake of Typhoon Jauntsen. She'd planned to just ask Cook outright about what she and Cass had heard in the hall, but with so many distractions and interruptions, that didn't really seem viable. Besides, it wasn't like she had Marissa's ability to manipulate people, or Devin's bravado, or Jason's capacity to inspire fear, so coaxing answers out of the doctor was going to be a lot harder for her. Even if she could come up with a convincing lie, it'd still be all over her face, and intimidation wasn't exactly one of her strengths, either. As she chewed on the inside of her lower lip, part of the Jauntsens' conversation with Bannon caught her attention, and she turned in her chair to watch the trio. Wait. Hang on a sec. ...I might not be intimidating, but Jase is. He'd already put the fear of Bannon into Cook, as well. She wasn't sure if he'd be willing to help, but it was kind of hard to gauge what he was thinking anyway, so it couldn't hurt to ask. ...Right? Well... Autumn glanced surreptitiously back in the doctor's direction. Probably not. She'd helped Jason out, not deliberately provoked him, and they'd talked a lot yesterday, and he'd been really cool about answering her questions and all that. He'd even said he was her friend, and shown her that incredible garden, which was why there was still something else she wanted to ask him- but, that could wait. Rising from her chair next to Bannon senior, she walked over to the three bristling creatures nearby. "Hey, listen do you have a minute?" the redhead interjected quietly, glancing at the twins before turning back to Jase and frowning a little as her gaze travelled slowly over his features; he'd had a concussion, and even a mild one was reason for concern. "I saw you lying down earlier, and I've never tried helping someone like that before, so I wanted to check... Everything good? All parts still in the right place, and all that?" The expression in his eyes was still one of cold, reptilian amusement as he looked from Devin to her, his lips parting for a second to deliver some offhand reply - then he paused as he studied her face, his eyes narrowing slightly before the surface layer of frost, at least, thawed a little. "I'm fine." he said quietly, his hand still resting on Sean's shoulder. "I was collecting my thoughts." His lips twitched in a more genuine smile, the corners of his eyes crinkling. "And my parts all seem to be functioning perfectly normally. You did a good job." His gaze examining her blue eyes, he added. "Thank you." Autumn exhaled, the concern in her expression dissolving into a smile of relief as she nodded, clearly pleased. "Cool, I’m glad it helped. I, um, also wondered if I could ask for a little favor? Super small one, I promise!” She stepped a little closer and leaned up on her tiptoes, silently willing herself not to blush as she raised one hand to block the adults’ view of her mouth, and whispered, “I want to ask Cook something, and I want to make sure he tells the truth, maybe thinks we know more than we actually do. When I mention Courtney’s name, could you just, like… look at him for a couple of seconds?” Settling back on her heels and tucking her hands into her back pockets as she did so, the earnest young woman fidgeted as she peered expectantly up at the stoic telekinetic, shifting her weight restlessly from one foot to the other. To his credit, Jase didn't let his eyes flicker anywhere but the redhead's freckled ivory features. His eyebrows arched as though in mild surprise, and the smile curving his lips deepened a little. "I'd be delighted to." he said softly, the sincerity in his tone as well as the glimmer of mischief in his gaze lending themselves to the impression that she had, perhaps, asked him to go to Bunnees for a shake and burger later. There was no willing away the flush of rose that stained her cheeks that time, despite knowing he was just playing along; the directness of his gaze wasn't a threat to her physical well-being, after all, but to her sanity. Well, maybe to her physical well-being, she decided, conspicuously avoiding glancing in Marissa's direction. "Cool," she was fairly sure she replied, and probably "thanks" as well, though the lithe young outdoorswoman didn't give herself an opportunity to reflect on it, instead turning quickly back to the adults and setting her mind to focusing on what she'd wanted to ask. “So, I said I was holding my questions, but... I think pretty much everybody else is done, at this point, so I’ll try to make it quick. I may not get a chance once the worst spy in history gets here,” Autumn sighed, sinking into one of the chairs closer to Taggart, Cook, and Giles. “So. Dr. Cook. While you were gone, Ms. Giles talked to us a little bit about the test group for the project you’ve been working on, and we know one of them has gone missing and-” She hesitated, lips compressed into a thin line of worry. “And might be in trouble. How much do they know about all of this?” "You mean Cody Sikes?" Cook's expression was wary. "He knew he was special and that a couple of doctors were interested in running tests on him. He disappeared before we could though." The red-haired teen nodded, eyes widening with interest as she leaned forward in her seat. "Yeah, Cody. Did he know about the others, or did they know about him, or anyone else? We think he might have been targeted because he was special, which means the others are all vulnerable, too." Cook shook his head. "Project protocol ruled against letting test subjects know of each other to prevent conflict in the early stages. Cody knew nothing about the others." He hesitated, then added "The telepath, the Adams girl, she found out about the project from my mind. She was the only one that knew of the others." "Perfect," Autumn muttered bitterly, copper brows knitting together in thought. "How much does she know, exactly?" "Courtney knows about the project, the government involvement, the other test kids and most of you - at least as much as I do." Cook admitted slowly, wincing a little. "I was sort of forced to take her on in a more active role to contain and distract her from trying to make more serious use of the information, so she was also keeping an eye on you all at school." "Are you fucking kidding me." It was a question, to be sure, but the flat, uninterrogative tone in which it was uttered suggested otherwise. Even if it wasn't anything she hadn't already considered as a possibility, Cook's admitting the enormity of his failure still came as a bit of a shock. Weren't professional adults supposed to have their shit together? "Jesus fuck," she swore quietly, incredulously as her slate-grey eyes narrowed slightly in disgust. "'Forced?' You gave a vicious teenage nympho with daddy issues an active role in a secret government project to distract her, insuring she'd get even more information and that it would be almost impossible to get her out again?! I don't know which of you is worse at your fucking jobs, Cook, you or the Canadian Casanova." The visibly agitated teen inhaled, counting to four as she’d been taught, and exhaled again, drumming her fingertips on the table in a sharp, staccato rhythm to dissipate some of the angry tension coiling its way through her limbs. "Was that it?" she asked tersely. "Was that all Courtney did? The limit of her involvement?" Cook hesitated at that, glancing reflexively not at his superiors but at the lean, spare form of Jason Bannon... who was returning the gaze with a flat, emotionless stare that pinned the hapless doctor's eyeballs to the back of his skull. He swallowed, tongue moistening lips suddenly dry, and after a false start, spoke up. "Not- Not exactly. She was assigned to test several of you." The words fell into the silence like the crash of broken glass. "She was the one with the best grasp of her powers, you see. And we needed to assess the emotional ties and stability of certain members of your, uh, Fellowship. So she was told to manufacture certain incidents, to test your responses." "You used her as the driver of a behavioural experiment. On us." Jason's tone was frosty enough that people were relieved when their breath didn't condense in the air. Cook nodded, unwilling to meet anyone's eye. "She reported limited success, but then it seems she was focusing on those of you she has a personal vendetta or obsession with. The Jauntsens, the Cassidys, and Jason Bannon. When that became clear we pulled the plug on the experiment." “We.” Autumn repeated pointedly, making a mental note to thank Jason later. Cook was still lying, but now she had a better idea what, exactly, he was lying about- namely, that he had Courtney under control. “Not that I care, honestly, if you had permission or not, or if your high school side piece started misbehaving. That’s their problem,” she jerked her head slightly toward Taggart and Giles, her voice low and slightly unsteady as an angry flush of crimson crept slowly up her throat from beneath the collar of her t-shirt. “My problem is that you’ve been deliberately and actively fucking with people I care about, and now your problem, Doctor Cook, is convincing all of us that you’re competent enough to fix it.” If the cool grey of her eyes earlier had been merely unwelcoming as she regarded the attractive older man, their turbulent depths now held the roiling fury of an approaching tempest.
  13. Last week
  14. While the twins were placing down the rules to Jason - which Charlie was secretly unsure of whether Jason would follow or circumvent in a rules-lawyering fashion (he still was trying to get a handle on Jason's psychology), Charlie got up and joined Sean, placing his hand on Sean's other shoulder. "You'll need the boost." Charlie softly said, focusing his Shine into a pulsing rhythm, giving Sean a sudden sense of the sheer life around, even in such a sterile environment. Charlie caught the look on Sophia's face, weirded out and still overwhelmed, and he winced. I am so gonna make it up to you.
  15. Neither twin's glare seemed to affect Jason at all, his pale green eyes glittering as he regarded Devin with something akin to curiousity. "Is that your condition for accepting my offer of help?" "Yeah." Devin said. "Not gonna lie - we could use the help. But not if you're going to paint the walls with whoever even looks at us funny. It's not worth that." Jase considered a moment or two longer, then shrugged. "No killing, then. My word on it." His lips twitched in wry humor. "Should be an interesting challenge."
  16. "No killing." Devin's glare and tone were laced with authority. "Regardless of what they have waiting." Marissa added, folding her arms and staring daggers into Jason.
  17. "Jase?" Sean's disturbingly (to some) melodious voice intruded on the lean youth's thoughts, the tone floating ethereally through the air of the vast library he was currently sitting in, reading a leather-bound copy of Tacitus' Histories. Sighing, he looked up- And then out, turning his head where it rested on the arm of the couch to look over at his friend. After volunteering his two cents regarding Devin's talent for drawing and the challenges of the teleport rescue, he'd once more retreated into his sanctum. "Yes?" "Going to try and get into the Crossroads security systems - it strikes me that this is a good time to try the whole 'lens' thing, since your powers boost effects on physical objects. Lets see if that goes for machines." "Good call." Jason swung his legs off the couch and stood in a smooth, neat motion. Ms Giles, Major Taggart and Dr Cook looked on in puzzlement, as they had when Cassie and Devin had held hands, trying to fathom what was going on. "Wait, you kids can boost each other?" Taggart asked first, his eyes narrowing. Cook looked astonished, and Giles thoughtful. Jason merely stared at the three of them wordlessly as he came to stand behind Sean, resting a hand on the androgyne's shoulder. The other teens, noting this, likewise schooled their expressions into variations on the theme of 'poker face'. "It seems there are more secrets to be uncovered." Ms Giles said lightly with a hint of a smile as she sat back. "Perhaps later, when trust has been established." "Perhaps." was all Jase said as he focused with ease, letting his Shine flow up against Sean's, imbuing the literal technomancer with a chilly, precise awareness of the chair he was sitting on, the laptop under his fingers, the wifi routers broadcasting to and from this room. The attunement performed, Jason glanced over at Devin. "I'll be coming along once Sean's cracked into their security." he told the teleporter quietly. "I should be able to give you the time you need to re-focus once we're there, regardless of what they have waiting."
  18. "Was it good for you?" He said softly as his senses recoiled back into the bland and certainly not as interesting, limited expanse of the underground room. Cass managed a soft smile. Devin wasn't so bad, he had his moments, sure, but she was just as quick witted and outgoing in her ways so he really wasn't that big of a mystery to her. His jokes never really amused her much but he was almost charming when he wanted to be. There was a slight tinge of rose in her cheeks as the two teens once again shared a moment of awkward, personal contact. "My hand? Please?" She asked, sliding it out from under his. "Right," he offered her a grin. Marissa gave them both a vile glare and a pursed grin that told them both she was only looking to stir up trouble. "You two need a moment? It always seems like us girls are never interested until the guy is taken, huh, Cass?" "Knock it off Mari," the teen teleporter stepped in, defending his blonde friend. He sighed and tried to focus back on the room. He shook his head. "Trippy." Cass laughed quietly as she totally understood what he was feeling. She knew his senses had to be quirky, given his ability to know all the space and distances around him, but he wasn't kidding when he said he had Google Maps in his head and until now Devin had only experienced the cold, lifeless world of objects and how they related to to one another by distance and landscape... he never knew how beautiful the world was when you added the myriad of emotions and thoughts and how they interconnected on top of that. For the first time since acquiring his abilities, Devin saw the world as a living thing, not an object that was simply in his way as he tried to move from one place to the next. "You guys have to try that," she chuckled. "It's a whole new dimension compared to when we did it without him." "I-," he paused, lost in thought as he tried to hold onto the image in his head. He motioned to no one in particular, holding up his hand and moving it like he was writing something. He reached for the small stack of loose manila folders Dr. Cook entered with and as the doctor tried to stop him Ms. Giles stopped him and slid the folder to Devin. He promptly opened it and discarded the papers, spreading the folder open and laying it flat to award him as much space as it could offer. His hand still motioned like he was writing. "Pen..." Marissa said, her eyes widening with urgency. "Get him a pen," Autumn interjected swiftly. "He's an artist. Get him something to write with!" The room quickly devolved into a small panic as a pen was a lot less common these days than people realized, but thankfully the Sheriff slid on from his shirt pocket and slammed it down on the manila folder. Devin scooped it up, silently and in focus as he tried his best to hold the image of Eddy in his mind. "He do this often?" Ms. Giles asked the group. Everyone just shook their head. "Devin can draw anything he's seen with almost perfect clarity," Jason added with the analytical prose of a born genius. "But the image fades if he doesn't quickly enough. The more intense the stressors, the longer the image lasts. I assume he's trying to hold that thought and show us something." Devin's hand was moving a mile a minute as the black ink began to take form into some sort of picture. He didn't speak up, he just kept the pen moving, tapping the table twice with his knuckle and pointing to Jason. He doodles and disappears to places," the sheriff said as he watched the drawing form with an almost insatiable curiosity. He looked to Marissa and nodded at her. "What do you do?" "I could show you," she purred like cat up to no good. "But then you'd have to arrest yourself, Sheriff." Sheriff Alister promptly gave her a quick once-over, cleared his throat and let the question rest unanswered. A few minutes later Devin slapped the table and stepped backwards. There, on the folder was a near-perfect image of what he and Cass saw... with a lot less color. "Got him. I... think I can get us there." "Think?" Charlie asked. Devin was the picture definition of 'can do' spirit. He never thought about doing anything, he just did it and let the laws of nature pitch a fit about it afterwards. "This means there's good news and bad news." "Wouldn't be an adventure if there wasn't right?" Devin smiled and waggled his eyebrows at the shapshifter. "Good news. With Autumn's help, I can make Eddy our fulcrum, allowing me converge my jump onto his location. Easy day." "The bad news?" Cade asked. "It's a blind teleport." Devin said calmly. The collective D&D nerds all sucked their teeth at once. "That's bad, Devin." Sean added. "If you miss... if you're off by a fraction of an inch..." "We're jelly." Jason added. "There's more, isn't there?" "Well, I've jumped with one person, but two is a bit tricky. Six? Well... I'm going to need to prime up the juice." "Meaning?" Autumn pressed. "He'll need to 'charge up'. While Devin is focusing on gathering the power to get us out of there, we're not going anywhere." Jason folded his arms, already contemplating alternative options. "Typical 'protect the NPC' mission," Sean shrugged. "Hold down the fort, make sure the zombies don't get in while the NPC is doing whatever they need to do. You guys can handle that, especially with me monitoring things from here." "So." Devin looked at ll of them, then the folder. "That's the deal. Eddy needs an assist, we have the tools and the talent and frankly it's been a messed up day... so, what say you guys? You down to misbehave?"
  19. "Okay," Cassandra said and scooted over to get closer. She held a hand out. "When Jase and I tried it, we had to touch, so take my hand." Devin opened his mouth, and Cassandra...with perfect prescience...repeated herself sternly, in time to cut him off, "Take my hand." With a long suffering sigh, Devin plopped his hand over Cassandra's and aimed a smirk at Ms Giles, intending to tell her that this meant nothing, he was still saving himself for her...but those words never found their way out of his mouth. The room was too busy exploding around him. It took a second, a heartbeat, an eternal indrawn breath, for him to realize that the room wasn't blowing up. His awareness was. He was already no stranger to being able to sense time and space around him, but focused through the lens of Cassandra's Shine it felt as if that sense suddenly had no limits. The curvature of the Earth spread under him, and the ceiling above was where the air scraped the edge of vacuum. Shelly wasn't even a speck on his mental map, yet he could feel the town in excruciating detail, a livid map of psychic connections forged by his own emotions and the emotions of those he was familiar with. Cassandra was there with him, astride the world. She was, he realized, as surprised as he was...their concert extending her own senses well beyond their usual scope. Stay focused. The imperative she conveyed was not a voice, it was more like a memory he'd just recalled, almost indistinguishable from his own thoughts. Shelly. The prison. It was there, squat and stony and oppressive. As Devin focused his awareness, the fidelity of it increased until every crack in the concrete and every creeping lichen stood out to him. Then he realized there was more. A sense of presence, someone known to him, an echo or reverberation of a song he'd heard before. He knew the title. Etienne. He was below the ground, and here again the information from Cassie was refined by Devin's acute sense of distance and space. The room peeled open, limited by the momentary psychic glimpse she'd gotten. White ceiling with strips of light. Checkered floor. A hint of cabinet. The bed-chair with the unconscious Etienne. Anyone else in there? Devin's question occurred to Cassandra, and he felt it through her in a weird kind of feedback loop. I don't know. I didn't get a good look. I thought you were supposed to be all seeing? Somehow the tinge of snideness was conveyed even in that voiceless communion. Their connection shivered as Cassandra tugged slightly away. It was harder working through an object...this is still new to me. Do you have what you need? Devin considered. Teleporting blindly into a room he'd never seen before wasn't normally his favorite thing to do...but Cassandra's vision was enough to give him the location of safe spaces to appear in. Or the location of Etienne himself, if it came to that. In the conference room, Cassandra and Devin stood silently for a couple of minutes, his hand loosely grasping hers on the tabletop. It was perhaps the longest period of time anyone had ever seen Devin keep his mouth shut. Then he wrecked it. "Yeah. I got it."
  20. Now available, at long last! Chicago by Night, Onyx Path’s first product for Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition is live: Order it at your local game stores! Or order physical copies via Studio 2, PDF and print-on-demand via Storytellers Vault. Accept no substitutes: Chicago is the city of vampires. Claim a haven on the Gold Coast. Carve a place of this bustling metropolis for yourself. Subjugate a handful of the living on Michigan Avenue. Take a few deep drinks from some of the intoxicating vessels we have around here. Discover the nightlife. Come visit the Succubus Club, the Blue Velvet, or Red Noº 5, if they’ll let you in. The guest list is pretty damn exclusive. Introduce yourself to the Ventrue Prince. Get to know his vision. Buy into it. Serve it. Stay on his good side and your immortality is going to be just fine. Just ignore the purges of Anarchs, Thin-Bloods, and fledglings when it grows inconvenient, yeah? Stay invested in the Camarilla and it’ll stay invested in you. Remember who’s got your back and who can take that backing away in the blink of an undead eye. Don’t go digging into business that doesn’t concern you. Don’t go wandering into territory you don’t know, because someone will claim your skull as a trophy. Don’t screw with another Kindred’s kine, or you’ll find your own murdered and dropped in a dumpster, and that’ll just be the start of your problems. Chicago can be everything for a vampire like you. You just have to accept Chicago into your heart. Become a part of the city. Chicago by Night includes: A history of Chicago from multiple vampire perspectives and accounts of the domain as it exists in the modern nights, along with systems for how to run this city like the twisted, dysfunctional machine it is. An introduction for the Clan of Night’s entry to the Camarilla and rules for playing Lasombra in Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition, including their Discipline of Oblivion. Over 50 individual Kindred with biographies, ambitions, secrets, relationships, and reasons for inclusion in any given chronicle, along with fiction illustrating these characters and key locations around the city. A multitude of chronicle hooks covering everything from the Beast and the Hunger to Humanity and Hierarchy, and a single large chronicle in which the Lasombra make it their mission to join the elite ranks of the Camarilla. Coteries illustrating the factionalism of Chicago’s Kindred and new coterie examples for your characters. Loresheets for characters new to or already based in Chicago, providing players easy ways to integrate their characters into the book’s many stories. Sales Scarred Lands products for Pathfinder (the Scarred Lands Players Guide and The Wise & The Wicked 2nd Edition) are upwards of 90% off from Indie Press Revolution! Both products are an incredible $5 each! Kickstarter Update Last week ago we launched the Kickstarter for Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition! We reached our $25,000 funding goal in under three hours, and are currently at $70,703, or 283%! Our thanks to the 1,421 backers! We’ve reached the following stretch goals so far: Hunter Storyteller Screen Tending the Flame: Cells: A chapter on navigating Tier One hunter society. Compacts: A chapter on navigating Tier Two hunter society. The Ascending Ones archive: A bundle of Hunter 1e products, including Night Stalkers, Blood Drive, Dark Eras: Fallen Blossoms Malleus Maleficarum scrolls: A bundle of Hunter 1e products, including Spirit Slayers, Bad Night at Blackmoon Farm, Under the Skin At-cost Backer T-shirt Did you miss one of our previous Kickstarters? The following Kickstarted products are still open for preorders via BackerKit: Scarred Lands: Creature Collection 5e They Came from Beneath the Sea!: They Came from Beneath the Sea! rulebook Trinity Continuum: Trinity Continuum: Aberrant Realms of Pugmire: Pirates of Pugmire Exalted: Lunars: Fangs at the Gate Chronicles of Darkness: Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras 2 Chronicles of Darkness: The Contagion Chronicle Chronicles of Darkness: Deviant: The Renegades Chronicles of Darkness: Mummy: The Curse 2nd Edition Community Spotlight The following community-created content for Scarred Lands has been added to the Slarecian Vault in the last week: Your product could be here! Have you considered creating your own to sell? The following community-created content for Realms of Pugmire has been added to Canis Minor in the last week: Your product could be here! Have you considered creating your own to sell? The Storypath Nexus is now open to Trinity Continuum and Aeon products! The following community-created content for Storypath has been added to the Storypath Nexus in the last week: Trinity Continuum: The Babel Dossier, Vol. 2: Vaults Your product could be here! Have you considered creating your own to sell?
  21. Smol point of order from Sean's "Telling Kat stuff" post - this line: Has been edited to remove the eggplant. So far as I'm aware, the only characters that knew what Autumn was looking at when she smacked into a door are Autumn, Jase and Clara. We now return you to your scheduled programming.
  22. Greetings and salutations! Travis Legge here, returning to bring round seven of playtesting for our forthcoming Scarred Lands RPG supplements. Before we get to this week’s playtest, I want to remind you that Yugman’s Guide to Ghelspad Part One is NOW AVAILABLE! Your input has proven indispensable in helping us bring the Scarred Lands to life, and you can see the impact of your feedback already in Yugman’s! So, please check out this week’s info, be sure to fill out the surveys, and let us know what you think! As our team prepares for the release of further installments of Yugman’s Guide to Ghelspad and Vigil Watch, we’ll be introducing several rules to playtest through Open Development. Check them out, use them at your tables, and let us know what you think. Here are the details! Thirteen playtest packages in total Each playtest is open for three weeks Each playtest includes a survey for you to enter your feedback and rate your satisfaction with the content Each playtest document will contain a link to a brief survey for feedback. I will post a new playtest each week, with each survey open for three weeks, on the Onyx Path blog. The final Open Development playtest in this schedule will be posted on Tuesday, March 24th, 2020. This week brings the pain! Follow the link to find rules for the Oath of the Thorned Purifier Paladin subclass and 3 New Spells associated with the class. This week’s playtest also includes 5 magic items to try at your table! Download these today and let us know what you think! Link to Playtest #7: Oath of the Thorned Purifier Paladin and Magic Items Link to Playtest #7 Feedback: https://forms.gle/voCGBjKVpMpXgfTCA The next playtest will be posted next week. See you then!
  23. In honor of his birthday being celebrated today in the US, we can now reveal that the first US President, George Washington, was a feared foe of the supernatural! When they said that he “had wooden teeth”, that wasn’t literal. It was a code and a metaphor for how many vampires he had impaled with sharpened wooden weapons. We’re still working on what is meant when he’s said to be “made of radiation”. Actually, I have no idea if George shows up in Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition – but I do know that HtV2e‘s Kickstarter campaign is well over 200% funded and moving right along. Thanks to everybody who has backed so far, and we really appreciate your thoughtful comments! The KS Comments page has been filled with cool ideas for Hunter games, as has our Forums here at Onyx Path central. Keep those comments coming, folks! I know that developer Monica Valentinelli has been keeping notes for her final dev pass. No promises that she can or will tweak anything before layout, but I’m sure that once we get the Backer PDF out, she’ll look at those notes as well as errata from backers. Which reminds me to remind you about a few things with our Kickstarters! NH: Nameless and Accursed art by Tilen Javornik First, and this applies to our Advance PDFs like the recently released Night Horrors: Spilled Blood for Vampire: The Requiem 2e as well, we include a link to an errata sheet specifically because we want to catch layout glitches, terminology misuse, confusing or contradictory setting or rules info, missing info (especially when the text might be bringing an element of one edition into the newest edition), and more. So, since we’re looking for those sorts of things, it’d be really helpful if folks chose to send us the things that don’t quite add up via the errata link. Because the Advance PDF, the Backer PDF, and the Kickstarter Preview Text, are not the unalterable text you might once have purchased as a book in a store. Although, if nobody sends us errata about a problem, and we don’t independently catch it, it will soon be locked into final book form – that’s why I ask. Another thing about our Kickstarters, is that we are aiming for our next one to be for our new Legendlore TTRPG game book. More on that in the next couple of weeks as we head towards that KS. Here’s a reminder for folks who need help with their Kickstarters: Jazzy James Bell is the guy to talk to for all your Kickstarter needs. He has been running them since Cavaliers of Mars‘ KS several years ago. And if you do use the Contact link on one of our Kickstarters, that message goes to James. I know my name is still on half the KSs we do, but that’s because our original account was in my name. When I set it up, I wasn’t even sure I could just use Onyx Path as the KS Creator. It was that long ago! So now, today, we have a Rich Thomas KS account and an Onyx Path KS account. Which means that James can set up a KS on one account while the other has a KS running on it. This is very helpful for us in terms of avoiding massive downtime between KSs. Because everybody has an idea of what new Kickstarter campaigns we should run for their favorite games. We can’t (and won’t) be able to have every project folks want a KS for, but we can time out the ones we are doing more efficiently. Which might mean we get one more run that we normally would have in a year, but which absolutely means that James (and all our crew, but James in particular) has the time and isn’t too exhausted to run them! V5 Chicago By Night art by Amy Wilkins What Happens After All These Kickstarters? Thank you for asking! We have a perfect example right now with V5 Chicago By Night having shipped out to backers last month. This week, Chicago is live in stores and with that happening, we’ll be releasing the PDF/PoD versions on DTRPG this Wednesday! Let me break that down: The Kickstarter backers received their backer reward copies of the V5 Chicago By Night traditionally printed hardcovers. Meanwhile, our two sales partners, Studio2 in the US, and Modiphius for everywhere else, solicited the game distributors and retailers. This week, the stores who ordered during that solicitation have or are getting their books so they can sell them in their stores. Also, on Wednesday, we open the PDF and physical book PoD versions up for purchase on DTRPG. So, at that point, you can get the traditionally printed version from stores, including online ordering from our friends at Indie Press Revolution, and if you prefer, the PDF and PoD versions can be ordered from DTRPG. All those venues are so that our community can get their avid hands on this absolutely superb V5 version of Chicago By Night (in a lot of ways it best shows how the ideas in the first three core books can be concretely utilized around your table) in the version you most prefer for your enjoyment. And believe me, there is a lot to enjoy in this book! As you can tell, it’s kind of a big thing for us. Distant Worlds art by Gunship Revolution Tell Me About This Blog! Finally, it’s my bi-annual request for feedback on this blog itself. What feature do you always read? Which one do you skip past every week? It’s OK to say you skip all of my actual blog each week. Really. I’ll just be in the corner, sobbing. Although actually, if you do skip it each week, then you won’t notice this request for feedback, so I’m in the clear! But, if you can, please do be honest in your thoughts on what is working, or not, here on the blog. I’ve got some ideas for changes, but I don’t want to take anything away from you, our loyal readers, that a lot of you are actually enjoying, but I’m not hearing about That way, we can be sure you’re getting the info you need to explore our: Many Worlds, One Path! BLURBS! Kickstarter! Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition for Chronicles of Darkness is still ferociously on the hunt! We funded and are shooting right through Stretch Goals, like the Storyteller Screen Stretch Goal and the Tending the Flame: Cells chapter for the Hunter Players’ Companion! With lots more to come! Onyx Path Media! This Friday’s Onyx Pathcast features an interview with writer and creator Josh Heath. Josh is writing for Onyx Path, and is also putting up all kinds of projects on our Community Content sites like Storypath Nexus and Pugmire‘s Canis Minor, and other sites! As always this Friday’s Onyx Pathcast will be on Podbean or your favorite podcast venue! https://onyxpathcast.podbean.com/ Another jam-packed schedule for you on Twitch this week! You can look forward to Vampire: The Masquerade, Chronicles of Darkness, Scion, Pugmire, two fantastic, new chronicles of Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition, MORE Vampire: The Masquerade, Changeling: The Lost, Changeling: The Dreaming, Mage: The Awakening, Scarred Lands, Werewolf: The Forsaken and a third Vampire: The Masquerade game! Our Twitch stream has never had so much content. A special shout-out to both of the Hunter: The Vigil games running this week, which along with the Kickstarter are drawing quite an audience! You can subscribe to our channel over on twitch.tv/theonyxpath to catch up with any episodes you missed! Come take a look at our YouTube channel, youtube.com/user/theonyxpath, where you can find the following videos uploaded last week alone: Hunter: The Vigil Hometown Heroes: https://youtu.be/8dqdt6sy6Ws Eddy Webb’s Workshop: Dystopia Rising Evolution Development: https://youtu.be/Aj6MRIUQ5Fo Blood City: Chicago by Night: https://youtu.be/UVHhO-3W7sA Scion: Behind the Screen: https://youtu.be/AGhw0vOPK-c Pugmire: Paws & Claws: https://youtu.be/rRTCT1O680U A special shout-out to the Blood City crew who have been running a fantastic Vampire: The Masquerade chronicle using V5 Chicago by Night. Do check out their chronicle on our YouTube channel! In case you missed it last week, Ekorren gives us a fantastic deep dive into the Trinity Continuum here in this excellent video: https://youtu.be/Vk0UJbWijtg More new Occultists Anonymous for all you Mage: The Awakening fans out there: Episode 80: Collected Thoughts With Songbird recovered from his ordeal with a vampire, the cabal reconvene at the Rookery Sanctum and journey into the Temenos. They search tour through Pottery and Art and… Valhalla?! https://youtu.be/vImtFvc6NPw Episode 81: Mirror Match The cabal continues their travels in the Temenos searching for symbols of Wyrd, and since they’re there, maybe a few trophies of their own… https://youtu.be/bBVbV9nmd3o Red Moon Roleplaying continue their actual play of V5 Cults of the Blood Gods, on their YouTube channel, Spotify, their website redmoonroleplaying.com and everywhere else good podcasts might be found! https://youtu.be/hCM3aKucS7s The Story Told Podcast are on the second episode of their excellent Geist: The Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition – The 78 Laments – game right here: http://thestorytold.libsyn.com/the-78-laments-episode-2 Please check any of these out and let us know if you find or produce any actual plays of our games! Electronic Gaming! As we find ways to enable our community to more easily play our games, the Onyx Dice Rolling App is live! Our dev team has been doing updates since we launched based on the excellent use-case comments by our community, and this thing is awesome! (Seriously, you need to roll 100 dice for Exalted? This app has you covered.) On Amazon and Barnes & Noble! You can now read our fiction from the comfort and convenience of your Kindle (from Amazon) and Nook (from Barnes & Noble). If you enjoy these or any other of our books, please help us by writing reviews on the site of the sales venue from which you bought it. Reviews really, really help us get folks interested in our amazing fiction! Our selection includes these latest fiction books: Our Sales Partners! We’re working with Studio2 to get Pugmire and Monarchies of Mau out into stores, as well as to individuals through their online store. You can pick up the traditionally printed main book, the screen, and the official Pugmire dice through our friends there! https://studio2publishing.com/search?q=pugmire We’ve added Prince’s Gambit to our Studio2 catalog: https://studio2publishing.com/products/prince-s-gambit-card-game Now, we’ve added Changeling: The Lost 2nd Edition products to Studio2‘s store! See them here: https://studio2publishing.com/collections/all-products/changeling-the-lost Scarred Lands (Pathfinder) books are also on sale at Studio2, and they have the 5e version, supplements, and dice as well!: https://studio2publishing.com/collections/scarred-lands Scion 2e books and other products are available now at Studio2: https://studio2publishing.com/blogs/new-releases/scion-second-edition-book-one-origin-now-available-at-your-local-retailer-or-online Looking for our Deluxe or Prestige Edition books? Try this link! http://www.indiepressrevolution.com/xcart/Onyx-Path-Publishing/ And you can order Pugmire, Monarchies of Mau, Cavaliers of Mars, and Changeling: The Lost 2e at the same link! And NOW Scion Origin and Scion Hero AND Trinity Continuum Core and Trinity Continuum: Aeon are available to order! As always, you can find Onyx Path’s titles at DriveThruRPG.com! On Sale This Week! This Wednesday, we will be releasing the PDF and physical book PoD versions of V5 Chicago By Night on DTRPG! Accept no substitutes: Chicago is the city of vampires. Claim a haven on the Gold Coast. Carve a place of this bustling metropolis for yourself. Subjugate a handful of the living on Michigan Avenue. Take a few deep drinks from some of the intoxicating vessels we have around here. Discover the nightlife. Come visit the Succubus Club, the Blue Velvet, or Red Noº 5, if they’ll let you in. The guest list is pretty damn exclusive. Introduce yourself to the Ventrue Prince. Get to know his vision. Buy into it. Serve it. Stay on his good side and your immortality is going to be just fine. Just ignore the purges of Anarchs, Thin-Bloods, and fledglings when it grows inconvenient, yeah? Stay invested in the Camarilla and it’ll stay invested in you. Remember who’s got your back and who can take that backing away in the blink of an undead eye. Chicago can be everything for a vampire like you. You just have to accept Chicago into your heart. Become a part of the city. Chicago by Night includes: A history of Chicago from multiple vampire perspectives and accounts of the domain as it exists in the modern nights, along with systems for how to run this city like the twisted, dysfunctional machine it is An introduction for the Clan of Night’s entry to the Camarilla and rules for playing Lasombra in Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition, including their Discipline of Oblivion. Over 50 individual Kindred with biographies, ambitions, secrets, relationships, and reasons for inclusion in any given chronicle, along with fiction illustrating these characters and key locations around the city. A multitude of chronicle hooks covering everything from the Beast and the Hunger to Humanity and Hierarchy, and a single large chronicle in which the Lasombra make it their mission to join the elite ranks of the Camarilla. Coteries illustrating the factionalism of Chicago’s Kindred and new coterie examples for your characters. Loresheets for characters new to or already based in Chicago, providing players easy ways to integrate their characters into the book’s many stories. Conventions! More conventions will be listed for 2020 in the weeks to come- And now, the new project status updates! DEVELOPMENT STATUS FROM EDDY WEBB (projects in bold have changed status since last week): First Draft (The first phase of a project that is about the work being done by writers, not dev prep) Exalted Essay Collection (Exalted) N!ternational Wrestling Entertainment (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Contagion Chronicle Ready-Made Characters (Chronicles of Darkness) RUST (Working Title) (Scarred Lands) Under Alien Suns (Trinity Continuum: Aeon) Mission Statements (Trinity Continuum: Aeon) Adversaries of the Righteous (Exalted 3rd Edition) Novas Worldwide (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Exalted Essence Edition (Exalted 3rd Edition) The Clades Companion (Deviant: The Renegades) The Devoted Companion (Deviant: The Renegades) Saints and Monsters (Scion 2nd Edition) Redlines Kith and Kin (Changeling: The Lost 2e) Dragon-Blooded Novella #2 (Exalted 3rd Edition) Hundred Devil’s Night Parade (Exalted 3rd Edition) Trinity Continuum: Adventure! core (Trinity Continuum: Adventure!) TC: Aberrant Jumpstart (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) They Came From Beyond the Grave! (They Came From!) Second Draft M20 Victorian Mage (Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition) Exigents (Exalted 3rd Edition) Crucible of Legends (Exalted 3rd Edition) Many-Faced Strangers – Lunars Companion (Exalted 3rd Edition) Duke Rollo fiction (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Development Heirs to the Shogunate (Exalted 3rd Edition) TC: Aberrant Reference Screen (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Scion: Demigod (Scion 2nd Edition) Across the Eight Directions (Exalted 3rd Edition) Contagion Chronicle: Global Outbreaks (Chronicles of Darkness) Manuscript Approval Scion: Dragon (Scion 2nd Edition) Masks of the Mythos (Scion 2nd Edition) Trinity Continuum Jumpstart (Trinity Continuum Core) Contagion Chronicle Jumpstart (Chronicles of Darkness) Post-Approval Development Scion LARP Rules (Scion) One Foot in the Grave Jumpstart (Geist: The Sin-Eaters 2e) Player’s Guide to the Contagion Chronicle (Chronicles of Darkness) Editing Geist 2e Fiction Anthology (Geist: The Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition) Dragon-Blooded Novella #1 (Exalted 3rd Edition) Legendlore core book (Legendlore) Mythical Denizens (Creatures of the World Bestiary) (Scion 2nd Edition) Pirates of Pugmire KS-Added Adventure (Realms of Pugmire) Terra Firma (Trinity Continuum: Aeon) Deviant: The Renegades (Deviant: The Renegades) Lunars Novella (Rosenberg) (Exalted 3rd Edition) Buried Bones: Creating in the Realms of Pugmire (Realms of Pugmire) Monsters of the Deep (They Came From Beneath the Sea!) Tales of Aquatic Terror (They Came From Beneath the Sea!) Mummy: The Curse 2nd Edition core rulebook (Mummy: The Curse 2nd Edition) Titanomachy (Scion 2nd Edition) Post-Editing Development City of the Towered Tombs (Cavaliers of Mars) W20 Shattered Dreams Gift Cards (Werewolf: The Apocalypse 20th) Scion Companion: Mysteries of the World (Scion 2nd Edition) Cults of the Blood Gods (Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition) Hunter: The Vigil 2e core (Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition) Let the Streets Run Red (Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition) M20 The Technocracy Reloaded (Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition) WoD Ghost Hunters (World of Darkness) Trinity Continuum: Aberrant core (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Lunars: Fangs at the Gate (Exalted 3rd Edition) Indexing ART DIRECTION FROM MIKE CHANEY! In Art Direction Trinity Continuum: Aberrant Hunter: The Vigil 2e (KS) – Running on KS. Ex3 Lunars Cults of the Blood God (KS) Mummy 2 (KS) City of the Towered Tombs – Recontracted. Let the Streets Run Red – Contracted. CtL Oak Ash and Thorn – Finals coming in this week. Deviant Legendlore (KS) – All notes out by today for KS. Technocracy Reloaded (KS) Scion Companion – Contacted. TC: Aeon Terra Firma – Contracted. WoD: Ghost Stories (KS) – Cover contracted. Tales of Aquatic Terror Pirates Extra Adventure – Contracted. In Layout Yugman’s Guide to Ghelspad – Ongoing. Scion Mythical Denizens – In proofing but need some full page art to come in. Contagion Chronicle – With Josh. Vigil Watch – Art finals coming in today. TCfBtS!: Heroic Land Dwellers Night Horrors: Nameless and Accursed – Waiting for cover art, then to proofing. TCFBtS! Screen and Booklet Proofing Dark Eras 2 – Errata being annotated and then back to Aileen. Trinity Continuum Aeon Jumpstart They Came from Beneath the Sea! – Off for pageXXing. Chicago Folio – Out to backers for errata. Trinity Continuum Aeon: Distant Worlds – Notes back from dev. Pirates of Pugmire – Gotta go over this today. At Press V5: Chicago – PDF and PoD versions on sale at DTRPG this Wednesday! Geist 2e (Geist: The Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition) – Shipping to backers, PoD files uploaded. Geist 2e Screen – Shipping to backers. DR:E – At fulfillment shippers, PoD files uploaded. DRE Screen – At fulfillment shippers. DR:E Threat Guide – Helnau’s Guide to Wasteland Beasties Memento Mori – PoD proof ordered. Trinity Continuum: Aeon RMCs – PoD proof ordered. Wraith20 Anthology – PoD proof ordered. Today’s Reason to Celebrate! Long time readers of this MMN Blog may note that a lot of Reasons to Celebrate are focused on national US holidays. Which in the US are celebrated on Mondays, due to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act which was put into effect so we in the US could have more official three-day weekends, and our weekly staff meeting that leads into this blog is also on Monday. Today is President’s Day. Or Presidents’ Day. Or George Washington’s Birthday. So, with all due respect to our first president, and according to folklore the man who refused to be king, this is a weird one: Even though George Washington’s birthday was February 22nd, the day is officially celebrated on the third Monday in February. Even though Presidents’ Day is a federal holiday, each state is free to call it what they choose and how to celebrate. Washington’s Birthday can never occur on the public holiday. Under the Gregorian calendar Washington’s Birthday was 22 February, but the holiday is observed on the third Monday in February, which cannot occur any later than February 21. Like I said, weird. But that in and of itself is Reason to Celebrate! Let’s hear it for a bit of weird in the midst of everything else we deal with!
  24. He slid his thumb across the screen as he rummaged through Sean's room, forgoing the text Sean sent so he could answer his phone. "What's up, Cass?" He pinched the phone between his ear and shoulder as he opened the bottom drawer at Sean's work desk. "Nice. Sounds like a gamble since I wasn't there for all your happy hand holding fun time, but we can give it a shot. Let me get this laptop to Sean and we can give it a go." He spun around, laptop under his arm when he came face to face with Laurie Cassidy who'd come to inspect why there were strange voices coming from her brother's room. "Because," he continued without giving the redhead much notice. "He can still monitor security for us and unlock doors." He laughed. "Yeah, you're assuming I can hit the bullseye. Always have a plan 'B'." The Cassidy sister pursed her lips and scowled at him, fists resting at the ready on her hips. "I gotta let you go, Laurie is looking at me like she wants something." She raised her brow at his audacity. Devin tapped his screen, ending the call then looked like Laurie like she had broken into his house. "What?" He asked. "The fuck you mean 'what', Jauntsen. This is my brother's room, what the hell are you doing here?" She pushed him, knocking him back a few steps. "Slow you're roll there, Ginger Cringer," she tried to push him a second time but he blinked out and violet stream of noetic energy traced to where he reappeared in an instant. "Sean needed this, he sent me to get it. So chill. We're in the middle of something important and I really don't have time to explain. We'll fill you in later." "What do you mean-" he vanished in a purple splash that shimmered slightly dull in light of Sean's room. Her eyes narrowed and her fists clenched tight at her side. "Ugh! That's getting annoying!" The air seemed to 'pull' near Autumn and in an instant Devin filled the area near the pull, suddenly pushing out all the air in the space he now occupied. The noetic 'scar' around him sealed itself instantly as his body settled into its new space. Autumn jumped slightly. Yes, the popping in and out was getting very old, not that Devin minded the look on their faces, and they wondered if he was doing it on purpose (duh). Devin set the laptop in front of Sean, whose phone beeped with an incoming message at that precise moment. "Here, and that's Laurie I'll bet. Tell her I'm in a relationship and to stop being such a try hard we're still on for this weekend, underwear is optional. Get set up while Cass fills me in." "Christ Jauntsen," the Sheriff looked at Devin like he was some sort of freak show in a circus as his mind tried to wrap around absurdity of what these teenagers were capable off. Even after witnessing it, it just didn't seem real. "That is impressive," Ms. Giles said politely to the young teen. "How far can you go?" Devin smirked and simply replied, "How far do you wanna go?" The master of innuendo retorted before he broke away from everyone to settle his business with Cass. Give them a show, but don't tell them anymore than they needed to know. "Will Devin ever stop flirting?" Cass asked with a soft smile decorating her lovely features. "Now there's a headline." "But a short article. 'No'." He mused. "So, how's this work?"
  25. Cassandra worked her shoulders a little as Devin vanished and Kat had her say. "We don't even know where we're going yet," she said. "Prison just seems like a good place to hide mercenaries. But we can find out." She looked at Dr Cook, cowering across the table. "Did you take anything off of Etienne?" The scientist shook his head dolefully. "No. Kline's men would have done anything along those lines." Then, with a touch of suspicion, "Why?" "I need something that belonged to him. Or, like a comb or something would be ideal." He sat back in his chair for a moment, then said, "His office is upstairs in the Imaging Department." With that Cassie was up out of her seat. "Okay, which office?" Major Taggert spoke up at that point, pointing at one of the two armed men that had escorted him and Giles in. "Airman, escort her to that office and back here when she has what she needs." Then he turned his gimlet gaze on Cassandra. "No side trips, and stick with your escort. He's there for your safety." And to make sure I don't do any more snooping, thought Cassie with a wry smile...but she nodded. "Won't take but a minute." Then they were off, following Dr Cook's hasty directions, with his passcard in her hand. When they arrived and beeped in, Cass found the office looking like it had barely ever been used. Fitting, since his 'job' in Imaging was certainly just a cover. Even so, he HAD been there before. Cassandra closed her eyes, 'feeling' around the room for echoes of his presence. In one of the drawers was a pack of playing cards...but no...the trash can. She hunkered down a bit. The bin was empty, but on the floor under it was a bit of dust and grit...probably spilled by accident the last time it had been taken out. In that was a little white half-moon shape. A fingernail clipping. Cass scraped it up off the floor and gave the airman a smile. "That'll do." He gave her a disgruntled, somewhat grossed out look. "All this for that?" "I know. It's mysterious. Imagine what I could do with a whole finger." The airman frowned, then waved her ahead of him. "All right, lets move it." They arrived back in the conference room with everyone else in it and Cassandra put her prize on the table. Everyone else leaned forward a little to get a better look. The Sheriff asked, in a tone clearly communicating that he hated that he had to ask this, "Is that a fingernail?" Cassandra shook her head. "It's Etienne. I mean, okay it's his fingernail, yes, but until pretty recently, it was him. It's still kind of him. I can use it to find the rest of him." "You realize that made absolutely no sense," replied the lawman, his bushy brows beetled together. "Yeah, pretty much." Cassie leaned over the clipping and cupped her hands around it. There was a sudden feeling of vertigo sweeping over her, and she swayed precariously for a second. The conference room fell away and the town whickered past, then the countryside, until she was hovering over familiar terrain...the Crossroads prison facility. She let out a started 'eep' as the ground rushed up at her, concrete walls and inmates and guards all rising around her then vanishing as she plunged straight down past the paved courtyard and the dirt beneath...to where stone replaced dirt and suddenly she was in a cold white room lit by a buzzing florescent bulb. In the room there was a chair...the kind of full-body chair you saw in dentist's offices. Creepy dentist's offices. And in the chair was Etienne. His eyes were closed, his breathing regular and slow. There was a little metal stand by the bed with a plastic bag full of clear fluid at the top, connected to his arm with a tube. She let her breath out with a gasp and opened her eyes. "Jesus Christ, this thing..." Cass muttered. "It's like a fucking roller coaster in my head." She cleared her throat. "Okay, I got him. He's under the prison, in a room...very clean, maybe a lab? He's alive, in like a surgical bed? With an IV in his arm." Getting her phone out, she started putting Devin's numbers in. "I'll let Dev know. I think maybe we can get there if we work together."
  26. If Jason heard any of what had been said by Cook, or any of Devin's plan to rescue Etienne, he gave no sign of it or of anything else. That sense of withdrawal hung about him, an utter stillness that in the buzz and hum of the Fellowship as they exchanged glances and murmured words made him almost invisible. He did not fidget, or tap his fingers, or even blink: face immobile and eyes unfocused - or rather focused inwards - he appeared almost inanimate but for the faint rise and fall of his breathing. "So... wait, are you kids going to do what I think you're going to do ?" Sheriff Allister asked, frowning at Cade. "They're going to find Etienne, then free him as quickly and quietly as we can." Marissa said soothingly. "If he's still alive, anyway. If you or Major Taggart roll up wherever he's being held, they'll probably just kill him and take their chances." She made a face. "Much as I think it's nuts and think Etienne's a dog, Devin's right. He doesn't deserve whatever Kline will do to him." "And what if he's being held in the prison? Or somewhere worse?" Allister demanded. "What if you bippidy-bobbity over there and it's a trap and you're staring down the barrels of a dozen guns?" "That's why we have Charlie, Cade and-" Sean glanced at Exhibit C. "Jase?" "Hmm?" "Earth to Jase. You in for the Eddy rescue?" "Sure." The lean youth's voice was quiet, distant. "O-o-okay. You alright?" Sean narrowed his eyes. "Sure." came the reply in the same tone. "To be clear: we're rescuing Eddy, the guy you wanted to leave in a ditch?" Now Jason's eyes brightened as he was jogged out of whatever reverie he had fallen into, moving to focus on Sean in that eerie way that was, for him, normal. "I know what we're doing, Sean. And I don't have a grievance with Etienne anymore." He said with mild asperity that was oddly comforting after the distant tone. "Jase, you don't have to do this." Gar said in a low, urgent voice. "It could be dangerous." "And my friends could be in more danger without me there." Jase said simply. "If they need me, I'm going." His lips twitched minutely. "You can ground me later, if you want. I've often wondered what that is like." "Never needed to before." His dad snorted, shaking his head. "Not sure this is a grounding matter." Jason stood, giving his father a brief hug. "I'll be fine." He told him. "We'll talk more later, I promise. Right now I'm going to sit quietly and wait." Suiting action to words, he turned and headed over to one of the couches and stretched himself out along it, staring up unseeing at the ceiling and once more becoming utterly still.
  27. "Uh uh, no way I'm staying with these three." Kat's voice chimed as she waved a delicate hand towards Ms Giles, Dr Cook and the Major. She somehow jumped down from her chair and approached Taggart who didn't look especially happy about the situation. As he was about to protest, Devin fwooped away and the words remained stuck in his throat. He instantly rose to his feet, anger in his eyes, but two things washed his intents away. First, Ms Giles shook her head, a reproving hint in her eyes, and he stopped mid-motion, sitting back on his chair. "This should be interesting." She spoke softly. She then motioned with her chin towards the elfin figure gently pulling on his sleeve. "Would you happen to know Captain Barras' schedule? I'd really like to have my father drive me home..." Kat asked, the expression of weariness painted on her childish features. The daze in his eyes only lasted for a second as he composed himself, thinking. "I'm afraid your father is busy at the moment." After a short while, he added : "If that is what you want, I can have someone take you home as soon as possible." Kat frowned and gave the offer a nod, then walked back to her bag, grabbing a pen and a small piece of paper. A couple seconds later, she approached Sean, pulling on his sleeve, and he turned a probing eye towards the spindly teen. "Here's my number, beautiful." She said in a caustic tone. Sean looked at her with mild surprise, his eyebrows reaching to the ceiling, then a pleased grin drew on his features. This was unexpected, but with the afternoon she had been through, he couldn't fault her from trying to escape the insanity of the situation. She discreetly winked, then added : "Y'all look like a fun lot, but I had enough action for one month. Besides if I'm caught raiding a fucking prison, I'm gonna hear from my Dad, and he's gonna hear from his superiors. I don't want him to get in trouble because his offspring is a psionic vigilante." A yawn escaped her lips as she stretched cat-like. "If you guys feel like having fun, dinner, whatever, when you're done beating up the bad guys, gimme a call. I'd appreciate one normal evening as a teen in this town."
  28. Devin was as quiet as Devin could possibly be while Cook finished digging himself a hole. Finally he looked at his assembled 'friends'... they were a complete mess, the Society was a complete mess, and this Kline guy seemed to be the equivalent to their Jason: scooping people up and eating them to fuel his own mystery. He sighed, letting go of his sister and leaning on the table. "We can't leave Eddy to Kline." His own personal sense of 'protect everyone' began creeping to the surface as his fears of The Dark and what it was like to be alone and trapped with evil hardened his expression. Devin didn't have many positive qualities... ...but damn could the kid lead. "No one deserves that, we all know it." He looked around. "We can't go home yet, we need to rescue eddy, and in order to do that we need to know where he is." "Devin," Marissa huffed in protest, unable to grasp why he, or any of them, should care about the near rapist. When her brother's hard stare caught her and she realized he was as serious as a heart attack, she sighed as well, and calmed herself. Her words and tone shifted dramatically. "How can I help?" "The prison is a lead, but we don't know for sure. Cassie," he looked at the pretty blonde reporter and she was almost moved by his sense of urgency. "I need you to go to the last room Eddy was in, concentrate, focus and do your read thing. Follow their route, listen to every word. From the room to the van, we need to know everything. Sean, I'd put money on these all having their cell phones with them. Ping their IMEIs. They arrived here at a certain time, they left at a certain time, and they subscribed to every tower along a particular route within that time. If they went to the prison, then their IMEIs will be pinging off the towers near the prison." Everyone offered a blank stare at Devin as to how he suddenly became an expert on espionage. "What," he shrugged. "Has nobody seen the Mission Impossible movies?" He clapped his hands. "C'mon people, move like we have a life to save." "Devin, my powers don't work like that." Cassie tried to explain. "Make them work like that," he replied with a tone of confidence not commonly possessed by the snark pot. "They're yours. MAke them work how you need them to. Adapt. We need to find Eddy before Kline adds parts or melts his brain, or... makes him a brony. You're our best shot at the moment, CeeAy." "Devin," Sean stood up and glared at his tormentor, crossing his arms under his ample [insert descriptive for breasts here]. He sternly protested Devin's idea. "What you are asking me to do is highly illegal." "So?" Devin shrugged. "Which laptop will you need?" "My blue one. With the bull horns sticker on it." He said without missing a step. "I'll have it to you in five," Devin nodded. "You have three," Sean smirked. "What about us?" Cade asked Devin. "We're the acquisition team. We can't do anything until these two do their work. Jason, you're our artillery. Cade, muscle. Charlie, you're our tank. Autumn, you're our compass. I'm the ride." Devin smiled wide, his adrenaline was pumping like mad as the thrill-seeker in him was rattling the bars of its cage. "All kinds of impressive, people. That's what we are. So let's show up and show out." Marissa gripped Devin's arms and spun him to face her. She was not talking quietly. "Devin, this is nuts. You're talking about possibly breaking into a maximum security prison over Etienne? They guy almost slept with Clara. Please tell me you're not doing this just to impress Ms. Giles? Your sixteen, she's like, forty, she's never going to sleep with you. You don't have to impress her." "Uh, first, I don't have to impress her, because, well... look at me." He motioned down his body, demanding the assembled take it all in. He leaned back to get Ms. Giles in his field of vision where he promptly winked, smirked and gave her one of those 'how you doin'' nods, before turning his attention back to his sister. "Second, look, Eddy was kinda rapey, sure, but not a bad guy. None of us are perfect and it's not our place to judge. Hell, you were blowing a nineteen year old last summer," Marissa raised her hand and massaged the bridge of her nose, already furious at her brother spilling her personal dealings. They'd never seen Marissa embarrassed before, but at this moment her composure was completely shattered as her her cheeks flared red with fury and embarrassment. "...and that's no one's business but yours and his. That shouldn't stop us from helping him, he didn't do anything wrong except poorly choose his employer, but that shouldn't mean he's out of allies. Besides, Clara loves the guy, who are we to take that away from her?" "Do you even hear yourself sometimes?" She fumed, her breathing was slow and her chest heaved as if she was going to choke him out. He was right though. The hopeless romantic that lie caged deeply in the frozen caverns of her heart knew he was right. Who were they to take love away from someone? She met his eyes but the rage never left the expression on her face. "Go. This isn't over." In a hazy blur of violet Devin shimmered out and was gone with a 'bamf' as the air filled the vacuum left by his sudden departure. She turned and faced her 'associates'. Her glare was stern and empirical. It was obvious she was not playing games. "You will all forget you ever heard my brother say that, or they will never find your bodies." "You mean the part about-" Autumn said with a poorly hidden smirk. "Ah, tut-tut..." Marissa cut her off, flailing a hand to swat away the words Autumn was speaking. "About the-" Cade folded his lips inward trying to hide his smile. "Shh!" Her fingers all touched the tip of her thumb as she poked in Cade's direction, giving him the Dr. Evil treatment. "Zip it!"
  29. Cook had been regarding the consternation and acrimony between the powered teens with a watchful eye, one hand still absently rubbing at his throat. With Autumn's words and Devin's affirmation, however, he swallowed as he once more became the focus of unfriendly eyes. His gaze flicked to Jason, who was possibly the only person in the room not looking at him right now, instead staring into the middle-distance expressionlessly, the gleam of his eyes dim and his focus apparently turned inward. "Doctor?" Annette's voice did not have the same inhuman iciness as the silent youth, but her tone and gaze were definitely frosty, as was Taggart's. "What is this about seducing a sixteen year old girl, and who is Etienne?" "He wasn't supposed to seduce her." Cook protested. "He was supposed to become close, but he was posing as a Senior when she was a Sophomore, for crying out loud. The idea was for him to act as a mentor figure for her... Dammit." He sighed, massaging his neck. "I should start at the beginning." "Do so." "Right. So, it was a couple of years ago. We found out that the Doctors Wright - both brilliant scientists in the field of genetics - were doing some work on and around the Blackfoot reservation. Some digging revealed they had obtained a grant and permission from the state health board to do an in-depth analysis of genes in the native American population and how those transferred through intermingled families with roots in Montana, with a focus on isolating genes associated with congenital defects, cancer, and the like." Doctor Cook glanced at the folders in front of him, obviously collecting his thoughts. "Doctor Kline, though, suspected they might have other motives and be perhaps trying to analyse the same thing we had theorised - a predisposition for paranormal gifts genetically present in the local populace. So he tasked me to gather intelligence covertly." "Tasked you?" Taggart asked sharply. "Intelligence and counter-intelligence was my responsibility. Why was the Branch not informed of this operation?" "Or the Society, for that matter." Annette Giles stared levelly at the now-sweating Cook. "Doctor Kline was very insistent that the intelligence be gathered covertly. He claimed that the Wrights may have friends connected to the Society, and be tipped off if proper channels were employed." The doctor stammered. "And you believed him?" Giles' raised eyebrow spoke volumes of her skepticism - apparently well-founded skepticism, as Cook said nothing and just looked down uncomfortably at his papers. "Totally fucking busted." Devin sneered, then "Pardon my French, of course." as Annette glanced his way with an air of patient reproof. She smiled slightly then looked back at Cook, her lips once more forming a straight line. "So... I hired a corporate intelligence specialist." Cook admitted, straightening his shoulders. "A civilian asset." Taggart said levelly. "An uncleared, unvetted civilian asset." "He knows nothing about the involvement of Aeon or Branch Nine. And his resume was solid!" The doctor said defensively. "Several jobs in Canada and the U.S, recently downsized, looking for work. And he looked like he could pass for seventeen to eighteen. So we cooked up a cover, inserted him into the school as a senior finishing his education in Shelly prior to interning at the medical center, and tasked him with getting close to the Wrights." "Specifically Clara." Marissa 's dark eyes were hard as she found a fresher target for her ire than the still unresponsive Jason. "A girl so lonely and buttoned-up she would qualify as vulnerable even if she wasn't a minor." "No statutory laws were broken-" Cook began, but was cut off by Cassandra. "Age of consent might be sixteen, but I'm pretty sure even if he didn't do the nasty with her before that, it still counts as 'grooming'." She shook her head in disapproval, even as several others present, the sheriff included, nodded in agreement. "And as I said, he wasn't supposed to get that close." Cook protested. "Jesus. He was supposed to be a star student that she would look up to, then become friends with. But something went wrong. He developed actual feelings for her. At first we decided-" "'We' being you and Doctor Kline?" Taggart's face was stony, but his fingers tapping on the table's surface betrayed his anger. "Yes. At first we decided that, so long as Etienne would still go through with the mission, that it could be a benefit. He snuck into the Wright's property several times, tried to break into their private lab building, but claimed he was unable to bypass their security. Then he and the girl broke off the relationship" Cook shrugged. "The mission was pretty much a bust, then. Kline gave the order to terminate his contract, and I was about to when everything changed, and he attended a party thrown by the high schoolers on Reservation ground and witnessed strange things happening. That, plus his rekindled closeness with the Wright girl, made him of use again... until his cover was blown and these kids found out he was a spy." "We have our ways." Sean's girlish features were somber as he regarded the doctor he'd trusted most of his life. "Yes, you do." Cook sighed, rubbing his hand over his face, glancing Sean then at Ms Giles. "That was last week. Late last night, he comes into my office without knocking, wild-eyed and loudly telling me he quits, he's not going to do it anymore, and that we'd better leave Clara and the other teens alone. I didn't have a choice, then. I had to contain him." "Contain him how?" Taggart demanded. Cook shifted in his seat, and the Major leaned forward. "What did you do, Doctor?" "I... handed him off to Kline's men." Cook stammered, then spoke in a rush. "I didn't know what to do at first. So I pulled out the gun I had in my desk for - uh - protection." He glanced at at the still-motionless, inward-turned Jason for a moment, who didn't even appear to hear the words. "And brought him down here. I called Kline, told him what had happened, and he sent some people." "What people? Whose people were they?" "Some private security force. Uh... Doctor Kline has used them a couple of times for, um, off the books things. They bundled Etienne into an armored van and took him away." "Mercenaries. Doctor Kline is employing goddamn mercenaries on American soil as part of a black project." Taggart looked like he was fit to spit nails. "Where did they take him?!" "I don't know!" Cook nearly wailed. "I didn't want any of this. You have to believe me." "I should call my superiors and have you renditioned to a black site in goddamn Siberia for the rest of your natural life, you-" Taggart bit back a stream of profanity with some effort backed by solid professionalism. "Think. Did they say anything to each other?" Cook screwed up his face in thought, starting to shake his head negatively... then paused. "Wait... Wait! One of them had a blue shirt on under his jacket. It looked like the uniform shirts the guards wear at the prison!" He looked from Taggart to Ms Giles, desperate hope in his eyes that he'd bought a reprieve. "That's all I can think of, I swear!"
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