Saturday, October 12, 2013

Arrival: Playing with Demons

© Copyright Leslie Barrie and licensed for reuse under this
  Creative Commons Licence.
Nico, commonly referring to herself as “Little Nicky”, begins the game in the back of an old pick up truck rattling across the sand-blasted wastes of Brooklyn. Handcuffed, naturally. What else would you do with someone who ‘pinged’ on the handheld possession-checkers used in her warded home community?  Luckily in her home settlement, those who are possibly possessed are sometimes exiled rather than executed.

Since she’s the daughter of the most powerful family in the settlement she also gets to keep her gear which includes her bug out bag, 9mm Colt, boot knife and ... most importantly ... her SWAT bulletproof vest with the SWAT lettering blacked out with paint.

Nico isn’t as grateful as she could be because she knows deep down that the sensor was rigged. Or maybe she's being unfairly exiled for having more of the so-called sacred blood of an Infant Diabolique and her mother just doesn't want the community to know about that.  She's obviously not possessed.  No change in personality. No odd occurences. No whispers in the back of her mind.

And her mother knows exorcisms so if she were truly possessed by a subtle entity, she could always be exorcised.
The truck stops. They get out. Her old pals from the squad who used to go on salvaging expeditions with her take off the cuffs and turn her loose.  They used to be squad-mates but now all they do is give her is a quick point in the direction of the nearest waystation. They leave her behind in a cloud of dust.  Nico is left to traipse across the barren sand-shrouded streets of New York and hope she gets to the waystation before it gets dark.

The waystation’s windows have been boarded over and painted the same greyish colour of the walls but it has paint on it clearly revealing it as Bob’s Home. Inside, the place looks like a mix between a pawn shop (with Bob standing behind the grille-topped counter) and a cheap hangout (with a hodgepodge of tables and chairs in the rest of the room).

Bob takes a liking to the stranger and feels her out for a deal. The terms are this: Give a painting of Bacchus to the known demon who heads a nearby Bacchus cult and get information from him on where to pick up a particular relic called the ‘Pentacle of Darella’. In exchange, she’ll be given something special.

Nico’s not so keen on meeting a demon that she’s not meant to kill but she needs the job and figures that if the rewards aren’t good enough she can always keep the relic. So she heads on down to meet this Baccarti and has to take out a few leapers on the way (long-armed toothy critters that can barely get past her armour).

She finds the place in an old garden and homewares store that's been barricaded pretty nicely. A quick conversation with the doorman that included revealing the paintings and an outright refusal to disarm gets her in without losing her guns. She'd hoped her her refusal might get Baccarti to come to the door, but instead the creature lets her in armed.

It's a den of debauchery as expected with plenty of feasting food all round. Despite her vice of Gluttony, she’s not tempted to join in. Every instinct is loudly screaming that she shouldn’t even be here. At least, not unless she’s spraying lead into the monster.

Baccarti looked like a human with horns and hooves and he sat atop a throne, no less. After a quick negotiation where she point blank refused to even have a slice of cake, she managed to convince him to tell her the information for the painting. It was a close call for awhile. Her obvious distaste for him nearly got her killed. Maybe her demonic blood helped calm things down. Infant Diaboliques often find a surprising amount of traction with demons.

Nico also found out that a fellow named Styx – another demon, naturally – had the pentacle and would likely be willing to trade. If she headed on down to Warehouse 13 – a brothel/waystation – she would be able to find out where he was. Oh, and Baccarti also warned her about the dangers of the ‘Skinless Man’ that known to frequent that area.

Starting to sense that this was getting to be a pretty expensive endeavour, especially as she had nothing to trade for to get the amulet from Styx, she followed Baccarti's directions over to Warehouse 13.

On the way, being the lucky sort of girl she had already proven herself to be, she naturally stumbled into the ‘Skinless Man’. Firstly one of his victims-to-be who came careening out of a doorway screaming for her to run. She followed him into a building and up some stairs (cue a quick IC comment about people always going upstairs to escape) onto the roof and then across a long solid plank to the next building.

The ‘Skinless Man’ was, true to his name, without skin and came rushing up behind them wearing only a golden collar and carrying a hooked chain. Luckily the chain couldn’t reach over the gap so the creature simply stood at the edge and glared at her, all the while pleading for her to kill him and apologising for his actions over and over again.

Realising the ‘Skinless Man’ was a poor bastard who was doubtless being influenced (and kept alive) by that collar, Nico did what any girl in her situation would do. She filled him full of lead, managing to bring him down before the collar could make the thing flee. Then she introduced herself to the survivor, a fellow teenager called ‘Al’.

They made a deal to loot the ‘Skinless Man’s’ stuff together and went down into the warehouse where a lot of canned food was kept as bait (and possibly also as food, it might have needed to eat) that was kept in an abattoir. There were also a few rotted victims (and Al’s friend) strung up on meat hooks inside. Most had been skinned.

They looted the canned food (hiding a few cans here and there for later needs) and picked through the victim’s belongings that was heaped up in a pile with their bloodstained clothing. The best score from it was a set of condoms and the kevlar plates. Naturally Nico kept most of the condoms, pretending she had only found two and offering Al one. Equally naturally Al used the moment for a pick up line.

They made their way over to Warehouse 13 - which turned out to be a brothel - and Al used the proceeds to buy himself room and board for a year. Nico bought herself a bottle of whiskey, a Carbine rifle and a big heap of ammunition. The madam, Alyssa, started being pretty nice to Nico having learned of her daring deeds and acts of heroism. Alyssa also seemed to pick up on Nico's bisexuality.

Nico used her whiskey as an excuse to introduce herself to a few of the locals – meeting a shady information dealer alongside a cowboy and his apprentice. The latter pairing were trying to figure out how to take down a big creature that roamed the streets. Nico made a deal with them – wanting to increase her reputation. They could keep the loot so long as they helped her out and introduced her to the scientists they had mentioned.

What can I say?

Deep down my character is a ‘Big Damn Hero’.

And likes shooting things.

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