Sunday, December 29, 2013

Arrival: Home Is Where The Pain Is

After punching the devourer, the team heads towards Nico's home town. Nico, now calling herself Dante to match her masculine form, ends up spending a night en route in one of the buildings. While sleeping Dante had an Infernal Vision.

A man in Scavenger clothing with a rough cloth veil over his face walked with an unerring yet exhausted looking gait across the sands of New York, carrying a busted and taped together AK-47. He walked with his gaze straight on some key point in the distance. As he moves a couple dozen men in black suits with rather ordinary faces step forward from the alleys and say things like: "You're not supposed to be here" and "Identify yourself" and "We need to talk to you". They seemed so inhuman. So fixed. He ignored them so they get in his way, trying to grab him. He fires at them with the AK-47, still trying to move through, but they overpower him through sheer numbers and he falls to the ground, his dust mask falling off to reveal a decaying face. The man was a walking corpse! As he falls, he flings the AK-47 away from himself to lay in the sand.

Then Smiling Jack - the demon with the fixed grin - strolled down the sand toward the AK-47 before stopping about a dozen feet away. He reached up to his own face and pulled it free like a mask, revealing Nico's underneath. As Nico stared at the gun a single tear slid down her face. There was a sense of both longing and ... despair, maybe?

When Dante awoke, he could sense the direction of that gun. Somewhere in Queens.... He knew that he didn't need to rush over there right away but once this situation had been resolved, he would need to go.

As they neared his home town, Dante gave Jack the sniper rifle and relics to take care of so that they couldn't be confiscated on the way inside. Jack couldn't enter because he'd gotten into a skirmish with her older brother once upon a time while trying to warn the family. Their cover was that Dante was Rochelle's boyfriend (Rochelle being called Ruby during all of this) with Johnny coming through as their tagalong.

Nico was nervous when they used the demon tests (bit of blood on an electronic apparatus) for fear that it would detect her as demonic. Thankfully they entered without issue. She had worried while Johnny undertook the test. His experiences with his geist sounded a lot like demonic possession after all.

Once in town, Dante played with his cover by flirting with Rochelle - whom he called Ruby. Although Rochelle was straight and knew 'Dante' was actually a woman, the Nick Sanderson disguise was Striking Looks 4 and when you add that to Nico's Presence 5 and Socialize 3, you have someone who's really good at flirting. So Rochelle got a bit affected by the flirting, or so it seemed.

In between being flirty (yet respecting boundaries), Dante sought out gossip among the locals, borrowed someone's guitar to play a few tunes (having mysteriously discovered a specialty in guitar), and attempted to auction off the various items from the bag of dildoes they'd brought with them to trade. After trading one dildo for a bunch of tinned fruit, her younger brother, Cameron, appeared (Vice: Lust). Cameron bid two tickets to his family's ball for all of the loot on display. Dante pointed out that he didn't have any clothes for the ball so Cameron Chetaine offered to loan him some. Dante accepted as it helped her overarching goal but he was sad to see his loot sold off for such a meh price. Especially the glow-in-the-dark lubricant.

Although the settlement only contained 200 people, it managed to maintain two pubs due to the wealth of the Chetaine family and the general encouragement of vice in the region. There's a bunch of unfamiliar Scavengers hanging out at the seedier pub. The kind of folk that make her skin crawl when she uses Sense the Unrighteous. To make matters worse, this unfamiliar team contain about 20 or so individuals. Naturally Johnny was already gambling with the henchman.

Her ruminations were distracted by her younger sister arriving. Michelle strode up to the bartender with a group of hangers on in tow and slammed a shotgun down on the counter, threatening him with all kinds of violence if he didn't return her end of the deal (a couple crates of booze) since the shotgun nearly blew up in her hands. The bartender seemed quite shocked by all of this and kept maintaining that it was a good quality gun so Michelle stuck a knife to his throat and told him not to lie. While the bartender trudged off, Dante did the exact opposite of what a random Scavenger would do.

He intervened. He offered to assist Michelle in getting to the root of the problem by mentioning that Ruby was the daughter of a skilled gunsmith and could easily locate the problem.

Michelle was instantly suspicious. Who the hell walks up at that kind of moment to offer their help? Dante pointed out that he was new in town and figured that at the very least he could get a free drink. So Michelle let Rochelle take a look at the gun and Rochelle pointed out that if the shotgun hadn't been such a fine piece of work, it probably would have exploded in her face as some shotgun shells of the wrong size had been filled with pebbles. Obviously some amateur with a reloading bench tried to make it work out and sold them as genuine.

Michelle told the bartender to give Ruby and Dante a free drink before stalking off. Dante stealthily followed his sister, worried that perhaps his older brother, Daniel (Vice: Pride), might be to blame since he was the one who seemed to be planning a coup. Dante tracked her down to a dinky old house at the outskirts of the protection field (generated by the six red stones) and crept up to the back window. He saw Tara and her hangers on burst in and start accosting a gun dealer for his faulty ammunition. She then proceeded to badly beat him up with the shotgun while her pals kept his pals at bay. She was the daughter of the boss, after all. Best not to rough her up. At the end of the rather brutal assault, she lifted up the shotgun and admired it's workmanship for not cracking under that assault. Dante took that point to creep away and head back to the pub just in time to see Johnny leaving.

Johnny told Dante that he'd gathered some information. It turned out that the new Scavenger group worked for the older brother and seemed to get at all of the good stuff. There's also rumours that they take out other Scavengers and then kill them (or come across them and kill them) and then blame it on monsters or unstable buildings. No one goes out with them anymore and everyone tries to avoid them. It looks like Daniel is trying to get a monopoly on all of the trade, perhaps trying to wrestle it away from mother dearest.

Dante and Rochelle then split from Johnny once more and went to kill time until the ball. Dante's head (and heart) was already reeling from this outsider's perspective of his family. It was one thing to live here, torn by wanting to do the right thing to do and by loyalty to the family, it was a whole other thing to leave and experience the life of a Big Damn Hero only to return and get a cold hard look at his folks. It had only been six or so weeks but it felt like years had passed. This place seemed alien and wrong and Dante half-wondered if his own family were monsters who should be slain. He kept his crisis of faith to himself, squeezing it all into a pit in his belly for now. For someone with the Virtue of Faith, a crisis of faith is a big deal. It'll be fun when that implodes all over the place but there's hardly time to really think about it.

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