p_a_morningstar (p_a_morningstar) wrote,

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Shadowrun Musings (again)

Blah blah blah work busy, blah blah blah, acting school is neat, blah blah blah coworkers are scaring me with the idea of how work can "use" my acting skills. Brrrr. I get out of there in 2014. I get out of there in 2014...

Ahem. Zo. 'Tis Friday, and that means I am Spending the Night In (tm), ostensibly so I can rest up after a typically long week. This ALWAYS turns into a "golly, this looks shiny!" fest, so I figure, this time, why fight it?

I have been issued a Challenge by not one but TWO friends. That makes it official. Well, *cracks knuckles* I can take a shot at slashing my Shadowrun character. It's always fun to be amused, I suppose.

But, first, let me give you all a run-down of what's happened so far. Otherwise, my babblings are totally not going to make sense. [And, if you don't know Shadowrun, clicky clicky!] The year is 2059, and what my character would hesitate to call my team runs the shadows in the UCAS metroplex of Seattle. We came for a variety of reasons (I'll get into mine in but a moment), but, now, we more or less work together on a variety of troubling quandaries. The various flavors of mob (mafia, mafiya, yak, and triad) had their knickers in a twist the first two or so months we were working together, but they have gone eerily quiet. (Strangely, right after we switched fulltime GMs. ;) )

Long about a month ago, gametime, we got a call from a Johnson to check out what appeared to be an abandoned research facility to get a few samples. We found way more than we expected. The facility had been royally cleaned out--by a hive of wasp spirits. Three of us had fought in Chicago when it was still a walled city, so we had various and sundry reactions to it. My character--Gowan*--became irrationally angry and few at the bugs. Our walking orc tank, Eddie, became irrationally terrified and tried to flee. One player had the bad timing to want to get out of the game at that point, so his character got run through with a wasp stinger. Nasty. Gowan still goes to visit him occasionally. (He's in a coma in the hospital.) We managed to fight our way out with the samples by making use of one: what turned out to be a localized bomb of not-magic. We nuked the hive, then fled. It took the magically-active members of the party a month to regrow their powers. Thank God for killing my essence with cyber.

We got out and went to get paid, only to find that our Johnson had skipped town--and someone purporting to be Navy special ops** wanted to buy our goods. Against Gowan's better judgement (and well-developed paranoia), we sold several of them (keeping a few for us). Things really started to go nuts once we'd set off that anti-magic grenade. Now, it seems like evil versions of popular fairy tale people are running around town. We've had a kooky-homicidal Peter Pan, possibly ninja turtles (if I'm remembering a'right), and an evil Edward Scissorhands who loves vivisecting people (potentially bad people? He did go after a mob guy--cousin of a friend of mine, actually) and had the ability to blank your mind from the incredible fear. Hmm...I suppose it could be Freddy Krueger instead, since he's got blades instead of scissors, but *shrug*. You see what I mean.

That's the main plot arc so far. I've been trying to figure out what's going on and get my contacts to help me milk it. But there's a problem. Two, actually. One is decidedly my fault; the other may be, too. Let's start with the latter because it's easier to talk about. When we switched GMs, we switched from an SR game scheme I'm used to (high paranoia, megacorp machinations, shell groups within shell groups within shell groups, everyone and everything out to get you, all the pieces fit together somehow) to an entirely new one (some scenes are throw-aways or one-shots, less emphasis on the paranoia and big-brother nature and more on interpersonal relationships, a very high quotient of weird), and I'm still adjusting. It's going to take some getting used to.

The other problem is the way I designed my character. I always play crazy combat monsters. They're really fun. You just point me toward a battle, and I go berzerker until everything's dead or I'm knocked out. Works like a charm. But, no. This time I decided to change what works. I not only went with a thinky character--heavy on the intrigue--I picked an extremely prickly character. He's a speciesist, a mild racist, and, although it hasn't been tested, possibly a mild homophobe. Why is he that bad? Well, I wanted to play a cop. What would be funnier than a cop who goes on illegal shadowruns? I thought to myself. Then I kept thinking. Well, thinks I, if he's a cop, he's probably only seen the worst the future has to offer. And, in this future, there's a lot to offer. So, he's not going to trust very easily. Let's say he's mildly distrustful of metas, since they have a higher likelihood of committing crimes, since they have a higher likelihood of being in a low income bracket.

Little did I know that all but ONE of my party would be metas. *eye roll* So, I kind of got trapped into an increasingly angry and paranoic character, and his phobias came to define him. So, he won't really work with the group, and, due to various and sundry complicated reasons I will get into in a moment, almost all of his contacts are based outside of Seattle, which means that he can't really play with anyone at all. It's immensely, immensely frustrating.*** I can't do anything! All I really want to do is be the combat monster. :( It's so hard when your character is withdrawn, angry, and, above all, cautious. It got to the point where, I guess, my GMs decided that what he really needed was to get laid. But I have to admit, that freaked me out (can't say I've ever gone there with any of my characters. Any of them, rpgs or regular story. Life's too short to paint my characters into that particular corner when there's so many other dark and shadowy corners they can poke into.^

So, I've been not only trying to figure out what's up with the storyline, but also trying to get my character to first loosen up, then start letting go of his various prejudices. But it's very hard. See, he grew up in the Pueblo nation (he's Zuni) that turned out to be particularly prejudiced when Goblinization happened--and his five-years-older sister happened to Goblinize into an orc right in front of him. Traumatized him, got them kicked off their family clan's land, and got his mother to get him into a hate cycle with his sister. Bad business. He dealt with it all by running off to join a gang. -- Then Aztechnology/Aztlán took over Austin, and he had his hands full for a while dealing with that. When Austin was part of the CAS again, and he turned eighteen, he joined Lonestar. He put away "the bad guys" (flavor of the day) for over ten years before Chicago happened. He got sent for a stint and came back traumatized. (He also fought alongside a DocWagon guy by the name of Aegis who would eventually wind up comatose in a Seattle hospital when he was abandoned by his player.)

Perhaps, because he was looking for a distraction, he happened upon the beginnings of a Conspiracy. DocWagon and Lonestar were working together to harvest organs, take "used" cyberware to fence on the black market, and find "willing" bodies to check out new kinds of cyberware that fell into their hands. Gowan became obsessed with finding out more about what the Austin LS and DW were up to and dragged his long-time partner into it. It wasn't long after that that Gowan got busted down a rank for an infraction he claims he didn't do--and got reassigned to a new partner. A couple years went by, and Gowan was still working on the sly with his old partner Danny to figure out what was going on. Internal Affairs got wind of it and put him on "administrative leave" so he could "voluntarily" check out for them whether or not this same conspiracy was also going on in Seattle. He called back home recently and found out that Danny had been reassigned to day shift recently...

As for the conspiracy in Seattle, signs are increasingly pointing to yes. We found proof that LS and DW were conspiring over something and were passing notes by laser-coded necklace (no, I'm not kidding)--and, even, that the Azzies were in on the game. Gowan's LS handler got gacked and Gowan got kidnapped by the Azzies. He was put under a blood ritual that we still haven't really found out much about. That's something else that Gowan's asking his auntie about. Finally, we just recently went into a battle with forces summoned by a spooky voice that spoke directly into our minds. (Then, the forces disappeared completely, without a trace, once we had won.) DW came to patch us up--with no one calling them, I might add. Gowan has gold service through his work, but he didn't call them yet, even when he got shot in the chest. His, ah, player totally forgot about it. But, in my defense, I was falling asleep that night.) They were led by this koolaid-red haired elf who seemed to know Gowan.*** He might even have been turned by artificial means.^^

On the last news of the weird front, we also have cuniculus infernae (hell bunnies!) and "bunniculas" running around making bad deals and causing trouble. The former, it seems, were the end result of a "satanic ritual" gone wrong (something else I'm asking auntie about). I'm wondering if they weren't also what brought all the fairy tales to life. Perhaps it was Aztechnology? The latter appear to be genetic experiments, possibly from the facility we nuked.

Let's see...what else do I know? I believe that's it on the background.

*Gowan = Guy without a Name

**He had a business card with strange, moving runes on it. Gowan doesn't do magic, but he sent a copy of the card to his aunt, a shaman. Here's to hoping she finds something...

***But I have an AU idea of how to "fix the problem". *grins evilly* Expect it up soon.

^And none less than the New York Times vindicates me!

^^I keep getting VITAS, HMHVV, and the Surge event mixed up. Gah! But, in my mixed-upness, I believe I have An Idea.*** Oh, yes, be very afraid.

I've also been writing a fair bit. This is what I have so far:

I made a stab at bringing my sister in to see if that would change Gowan's outlook at all. The short answer? It didn't. *sigh* He's like me: stubborn. The harder you push, the less likely he is to want to do what you want. As for Emily (the sister), she's been making out like a bandit as a smuggler/pirate in and around CalFree. But she's an orc, so she had a real tough time of it when the Imperial Japanese invaded San Fransisco and started to move outward.* Gowan (real name Ashton) had just happened to write her a letter around that time, so she decided to head up to Seattle to see the little twerp and lay low for a bit.

That ended up going very, very badly. In a combination of patronizing (she's an orc, so she must be slightly less than a human) and over-protective, he drove her off in a misguided attempt to keep her safe from the wackiness going on in his life. And he picked a really bad way to do it. He let her know that he hangs out with Humanis** upon occasion. That went over reeeeeal well. But, interestingly enough, she decided to stay in town for whatever reason (GM-ex-machina, I'm assuming) and may be striking up a relationship with the troll in our party.

Anyway, the letter: [letter to his sister]

Dear Emily,

I trust this letter finds you well, if it finds you. The last forwarding address I have for you is about a year old. Those friends of yours and acquaintances of mine could have moved by now.

How are you doing? How was your birthday? I apologize that this letter is somewhat late. You could say I'm taking time off right now, and it's been eventful, to say the least. Yes, I am actually out of Austin, and there aren't even any giant insects involved. It surprises me, as well.

Have you been back at all since Mother's death? I haven't. The closest I got was a call to Desert Wind to ask about some magic you could say I fell into--or fell onto me. She said she'd look into it, but you know her. I'm still waiting for that call back with Ghost-knows-what all over me. Probably will 'til Doomsday.

If you find yourself in Seattle sometime, put a word out. We could touch base briefly and confer, get some tea, something like that.

As always, know I think about you. And I pray for you.*** For us. Always.


*Can you tell that I read sourcebooks for fun? I certainly can't. :)

**In a nutshell, human supremacists. He hangs out with the milder ones, but still. I think it's the chance to be with people who are completely and utterly human. Also, earlier on, Gowan ended up getting tricked into going to a rally that was for Humanis but counter-rallied by a large meta-group, and the Humanis speaker got shot. Gowan wants to also get himself into the local Humanis chapter to be able to find out who that guy was who had an almost hypnotic voice (magic, I'm assuming, although it hasn't come up yet), and who might want him shot.

***At first, I was pretty sure that Gowan was also a rabid Catholic (and I can say this because--I believe she has been christened Fluffinella, right, lepusdomesticus? is no longer on LJ), but, now, I'm not so sure. It seems that, for whatever reason, his mother wanted him to get out of the Zuni way and go more into the Anglo way of doing things. To that end, she made him promise that he would give Catholicism a chance. He's currently 32 and is giving it until 35 to make up his mind (I should note that his mother died when he was somewhere between 18 and 22.). But he goes the whole nine yards: confession, regular prayer, regular church, things like that.

To that end, when Gowan goes to confession:

[after Ace was killed]

Gowan glanced up and down the block, searching for tails. he'd parked the bike a few blocks away and locked it with one of those super-dense industrial chains some late-night infomercial had raved about on the trid some weeks back. What the hell, if it did what it was supposed to and looked the part? Guy couldn't be too careful in this end of town--and after the frakup a couple days ago.

But the street was dusty and deserted this time of the afternoon. After one last look, Gowan hurried up the steps and into the church. He felt his muscles finally relax the moment the heavy door snicked shut and the faint perfume of incense enveloped him. He dipped his hand int he waiting basin of holy water, made the sign of the cross and murmured a prayer, then headed purposefully to the little alcove where they hid the confessional. He scanned the smattering of people in pews as he went by, nodding to other regulars as he went.

He slid into the box, closed his eyes, and intoned, "Bless me, father, for I have sinned. It's been one week since my last confession."
"Speak, my son. But, first, I must ask you, do you come armed?"

Gowan smiled. Father Stephen, his favorite priest. "Yes, father. But I have my permits for them, and you have my word I will only fire gel rounds inside Saint Christopher's--and only if truly necessary."

Father Stephen sighed. "Crow. I would recognize that speech anywhere. You say it every time."
"It's true every time, father, although I could wish it weren't."
"As could I, but this is a discussion we've had many times. What have you come to confess, my son?"

Gowan's shoulders slumped, and he lowered his head. Ï let two people who didn't deserve it die, father, and I couldn't stop it." His mind's eye obligingly reminded him, flashing from Ace, head exploding all over him, to the elf-woman's blood gushing from her open throat. "I couldn't stop it."

The priest's voice came, comforting but cautious, through the darkened window-box connection. "Tell me what you can, Crow. I know I don't need to remind you about the papal order that we assist the police, if forced."

Gowan nodded, even though Father Stephen couldn't see it. "I had a...coworker I was pushing hard for information about something important to my work here in Seattle, pushing him harder than I needed to. I didn't notice the shot that took him while I--that is to say, while we talked. He died for information I wanted. He was a noxious little bought slot, but he didn't deserve to die--that I knew of.

"The other was an elf-woman killed in front of me while I watched. I know nothing about her, only that she was afraid. She wasn't human, but she was certainly in pain." Gowan's voice hardened. "Warn your contacts, father. Slip an obtuse reference in your sermon this week. He have some south-of-the-border friends, and they're looking for blood donations."

Father Stephen's breath caught, then he let it out in a slow sigh. Ï see. Have you told the po--"
"Yes, father. Those I know. But I only really know ones out of Seattle. My one coworker here...is gone, and, from what he said before he left, I should only tell ones I know. Hopefully, it will filter back."

"Was there anything else?"
"Yes. Rage. I have hated our "friends" since childhood, and I'm worried I will act on that soon if given the opportunity I'm looking for. And there's no one here I can really talk to about it, father, no one I trust to truly speak my mind. I'm unofficial here, having to act in ways I can't really condone. Now that my...coworker is gone, I'm also rudderless. How do I know what I'm doing is actually for the good? For order? Am I really cleaning up the mess they sent me here to clean? I--"

"--think you had best stop there, son, for both of our sakes. You're getting into a different issue now, and I'd like to talk with you about it face-to-face, in my office. All right? Let's just finish here, and, then, we can move. My two hours in the box are nearly finished anyway."
Gowan smiled a little at the priest's feeble joke. H emade it every time, but it still managed to make Gowan feel better. "Okay, father. How should I fix my sins?"

"Honestly, Crow, it doesn't sound as if much of what you told me about was something hanging on you--or something that you can fix, besides the rage. The rage is a worrisome thing because it can either grown or try to escape unless you watch it. have you been visualizing, like we talked about?"

Gowan grimaced and shuffled his feet. He was in the confessional box. It wasn't as if he could lie. "No, father. I haven't. But I have been thinking about it."
Father Stephen snorted. "Like I've been considering that invitation to an Urban Brawl game you made me, I'd wager. Still, no matter. We will work on it, as always." The priest paused. When he spoke again, his voice was quieter, gentler. "It doesn't sound as if you have much that needs forgiving for the deaths of those unfortunates. You have a good heart, Crow, when you let yourself use it over your head. Say the standard number of Hail Mary's and Our Father's for bullying and general aggression, and we'll leave it at that."

"Thank you, father." But Gowan was talking to an empty box, as an open door flooded light in to blind him. "Hell!" he swore, covering his stinging eyes.

"And a few more for cursing," the priest added, laughing, as Gowan fumbled his way out to join him.
Gowan sat back in the only other chair, staring across the crowded desk at Father Stephen. He immediately began to squirm. Was this chair this uncomfortable on purpose?

Father Stephen smiled, steeling his fingers. "So, have you been working on the visualizations we talked about, Crow? You told me that you had been 'thinking' about them?"

Gowan sighed and looked away. "It's hard, father. I know what the church says, and I guess I believe they have souls like we do, but they're not human! They can't do what we do, they're not at the same level as we are, they don't look like we do, they don't think like we do. Most of them are criminals anyway..."

"Crow, you're generalizing again. Try one of those clarifying sentences like we've been working on."
Gowan shut out the world for a long four-count, his eyes tightly shut. He swiped the thin stubble on his chin. "Most of the people I busted were meta, not to mention those freaky insect spirits and the damned (ghouls) in that urban hell..."
"And those people you're working with now? Didn't you say most of them weren't human?"

Gowans eyes narrowed. "And they've made me very aware of that fact. But two of them seem pretty competent, for metas. The others I'm still reserving judgement on. Not really worth writing home about, far as I can see.

"Um, speaking of home," Gowan's voice slowed down, and he began to inspect his nails for grime. "I did write to my sister recently. maybe it'll even make it's way down the grapevine to her."

[and on and on]

So, the family back home. I know squat about them. But his aunt Desert Wind runs her own spiritual advisory and talisman shop. She also has Ideas about How Gowan Should Live His Life. I like her; she's a hoot. Gowan gives her a call to ask if she will look at that wacky business card, pictures of the goofed up sygils from the ritual that might have brought the hell bunnies, and various other bits and mabobs.

[call to Desert Wind]

Gowan focused on his voice, aiming for even. Auntie Desert Wind would be listening for hitches. She wasn't the stickler Mama had been, but she would edit what she told you if she thought you were holding things back from her. Too much was riding on getting this information to let something potentially important slip away on a technicality.

Gowan could hear the phone ringing somewhere far away, the line crackling with distance and magical interference. "Yes." Gowan jumped at the sudden response. But that was classic Auntie. No hello-how-are-you, no this-is-so-and-so-may-I-help-you, just give-me-a-reason-why-this-is-important.

He could just see her: long, greying black hair--probably iron grey by now--loose and brushed out straight; angular body shoved into a natural or native color tunic-suit; one arm propping up the phone arm; one skinny buttock propping up the wall. She'd befrowning at the phone, giving him ten seconds to capture her attention before she hung up and went back to work. No malice, just disinterest fueled by workaholism. It still surprised him she had any long-distance clients at all. If not for her natural talent--the lion's share of hers and Mama's--her reputation would never have spread so well. That and her tenacity, once interested.

Gowan suprised himself with a sudden burst of homesickness, for the trips back to Albuquerque after Emily's--after Em needed the special care they had the UCAS for individuals like her. Seeing family again, storing up stories to tell Em when they got back, while she was still at home, that was.

"Auntie, it's Ashton. Don't hang up. I need to talk to you." God, if it weren't for being stuck with all those metas day after day, he wouldn't have fallen into that memory trap. Good thing Auntie always sighed before she hung up--snapped him back out of it.

A pause dragged on the line. "Little Desert Storm? Certainly, this is a surprise. How is my late sister's only son? I trust you still make your home in the deadlands?"

As always, Gowan had no idea what his aunt really felt about him. Was she glad he called? Angry it might have been longer than he really should have gone? "Actually, Auntie, I'm in Seattle now.Quite a change of pace. They have some interesting magical activity I wanted to ask you about. And...I saw Emily recently. She would send her regards, if she knew I was talking to you."

Desert Wind's words crackled down the line like her eyes probably sparked in person. "Desert Lily's daughter died in childhood. If you are seeing ghouls--as you would somewhere unclean--then I suggest you move. If you will not come home to your lands, at least go back to that former Azzie cesspit you seem to love so much."

Gowan ground his teeth together. Now, he was remembering why the calls had gotten ever increasingly rare after he broke free and cleaned up after theChicago clusterfuck. He loved his aunt, but--definitely better from afar.

"Speaking of ghouls--actually more akin to the sentient beings we have at home in Pueblo--I need your advice, Auntie. Let me start at the beginning. From all I've been able to gather, someone tried to weave a big, nasty spell. I couldn't find out what, but a contact of mine said they saw symbols for it. I'll see if I can get you pictures."

"Sounds rather generic so far."
"Auntie, let me finish. You'll see. The spell twisted or somehow got blocked or broken, unleashing--I kid you not--trickster hell bunnies with a penchant for making bad deals and sticking their fuzzy noses where they're not wanted. What could thatspell be? What could we--I do about it?

"I can't tell you what I was getting into--" Gowan went on.
"Of course." The healthy snort carried easily over the lines.
"--what I was getting into, but I got trapped in an Azzie blood spell. [Repeats what he remembers and has the words for of the ritual in the Zuni they're talking in. I can roll that if you want.] Whatwould that do to me? How can I get rid of it?"

"You...what? Got trapped in WHAT! Ashton Desert Storm Laughing Crow, you allowed your energies to get sullied and entangled with--"

"Auntie, there's more." She sighed. He would pay for cutting her off, like he would pay for the call's initial hesitation, and, certainly, for not calling in nearly a year. But, if he didn't cut her head of steam now, there was no telling when she'd quit. She was like Mama that way. They mightotherwise have been total opposites, but, in that regard, it was like reasoning with Mama all over again. "I've encountered several creatures I swear almost seem like fractured, evil fairy tales. Could a ritual that birthed cunniculusinfernae also shape creatures of legend or even from the public consciousness , like Peter Pan or a bogeyman [would he know Edward Scissorhands?]? And could one of these thought-beings be strong enough to reshape my memory?

"Also, I saw a card with strange, moving runes on it. [Describes "Navy" guy's business card.] I can get you a copy of that, too. Have you seen or heard of anything like that before?

"Finally, one more possible strange being. Have you heard of something--or do you know of magic--that could speak into your head, then make you see and believe something so real that you could actually get hurtfrom it, but that left no trace to be able to analyze?"

Silence. Dead air. "What in the seven hells has Lily's boy gotten himself into now?" Gowan heard, half muffled, through an increasing amount of static.

"So, Auntie, I'll send those pictures and the card now, all right? And...if I were to send Mama's talisman, would you bless it with luck for me?"

Desert Wind chuckled, a dry little poke in Gowan's ear. "So, the good little Christian boy wants a talisman, even if that metal is deadening his body's ability to use it?"

Even. Be even. She's just probing again. "Auntie, I've seen you get sresults. That has nothing todo with my vow to honor Mama's wish for me. And you know I have another three years to decide if I stay with it. You can work on my again then, and I'll promise to think about it. But...I'll send thenecklace with the other materials, all right?" He paused, eased into it. "Can you tell me what you think now, or do you want to wait until after you've seen them?"

Desert Wind paused again, and Gowan thought he heard a bell ring faintly. "That was my shop bell, Little Desert Storm. You send that box, and I'll get back to you. And don't wait so long to call. 'Bye, now."

Gowan stared at the phone. Damn it. What a bad time to get a customer. Then it hit him. Wait--that bell must have been awfully loud for him to hear it over the crackling phone line.

By, the way, that's a really fun song by Travis Tritt. I want his jacket. I was totally a cowboy in another life. I even rocked a mullet when I was thirteen. (In my defense, I didn't know it was a mullet. I just wanted long hair without having it be in my face. My mother was quite overjoyed when I grew out of that, let me tell you. No, no more photos of it exist. I promise you.)

To top everything off, Gowan also regularly fills in IA about the goings-on in the Seattle shadows. Yes, he is a bit of a stoolie. But he is, at bottom, a cop. This game is really wreaking havoc on my moral system. It's making it go haywire. Loyalty! Honor! Job! Family! Friends! *Gowan and PA's brains melt* This is especially after his former handler--who was as made as a mafia-minted coin, but, at least, Gowan knew he was LS, not tied to DW, and regularly reporting back to IA--got gacked. Some woman (ah! I forgot to add: perhaps Gowan is mildly sexist.) claiming to be his new handler showed up, but she acted extremely unprofessionally in calling him to a "meet" at a place he didn't recognize at 11 PM, threatening him if he didn't work with her, and showing him a book of information she had on him. If she's clean, I'll go back to my mullet. Virtually, at least.

So, yes, anyway, Gowan reported in recently on what he's been up to (notice he leaves out all mention of shadowrunning. He's not totally as dumb as he acts.): Gowan glanced up and down the street, double-checking no one seemed that interested in him, looking for obvious lurkers. You could never be too careful after that odd elf's offhand comment. He picked up the phone and dialed an overlong series of numbers, pausing for prompts and pressing more. he waited for the wordless click of the recorder. He spoke very low. "Mr. Leech, Mr. Cranston, ALC reporting in. Found additional potential on our mutual problem I will be looking through two locations, one A affiliated, the other DW affiliated, for any possible links of interested. Will report again when I have more.

I ran into an unknown armed group and a counter group potentially disguised as DW personnel--and with medical training--while scouting those locations. One or both appeared to have somehow gained use of the "anti-magic" wpeaonry I reported on learlier. I t was difficult to distinguish where the weapon came form at the time. I will continue to monitor the subjects of the original anti-magic blast, but they all appearcompletely recovered as of now. No additional contact from the mahn describing himself as Navy personnel., but I am following potential leads on him, too.

No new updates on the rally and shooting [a month?] ago, but I am pursuing a potential lead this week. Will report on this, as well, when I have more.

Finally, have you dispatched my new local handler? Because a woman answered to [did I get her name and a descrption of her? I seem to recall long brown hair and petite. Maybe Amanda someone?] described herslf as such, had my personal-line number, and showed me extensive information on my background But her conduct in presenting herslf was unprofessional bordering on threatening. I need to know if I should trust her, or if there is a local mole in LS/DW like I expect in Austin.

Speaking of which, requesting guidance. I have found a way in to connecting socially with local LS (No similiar chances on DW with my current source on mandatory bedrest. But I will check on his condition and report on any changes.). Should I do so? Would it jeopardize the mission of I reveal I am also LS? I would, of course, stick with the cover story that I am on "Mandatory vacation time" for burnout post-Chicago.

ALC [Ashton Laughing Crow; his full name--from mother and father's sides--is wonderfully nuts: Ashton Desert Storm Laughing Crow. Yes, he uses his father's last name. I'm not sure why. I think it's a holdover from his mother.] out.

And, to round things all out, Gowan's also started calling back to his partners in Austin to see if they can help him with a few things: more on the LS/DW situation; who that crazy elf was; if "that woman" is trustworthy; stuff like'a dis, stuff like'a dat. The cool part is his personality. He's fun! He cracks jokes! He's not so up-tight! How do I get more of this one out, and less of the sullen little cake-eater we've come to know and hate?

[calling former partner in Austin]

Gowan made himself comfortable on the couch. With any luck, this would take a while. He dialed a number by heart, unsurprised it hadn't dulled in his memory after several months. A click. "Austin stationhouse. State your business." If voices could punch...

"Ow, Frank. Do you practice that gravel or just gargle with razor blades every night? What are you doing on desk duty, anyway?" Gowan imagined the burly officer's wary slouch would slack, and he'd start grinning in a way that only meant trouble. He's crack that lack of a neck and maybe start idly flexing the barbed wire tattoos that snaked won his arms, watching them ripple as he talked.

"Well, if it isn't our little nutbird. They letting you talk these days, or that too strenuous for you?"
"Aw, piss off, dumbass. You know, and I know, I wouldn't have taken that piece'a' crap "long vacation" if IA hadn't forced it down my throat."
"They payin' you while you off?"
"Whadda you think?"

Frank whistled through his teeth. "Ouch. My sympathies, man. We got a stack'a hell cases drifting up for you when you get home."

"Aw, gee, you guys are angels. Thanks. I'll put you all in my will--right under the section labeled, "fuck you!"
Frank snorted. "Yeah, love you, too, buddy. Such a sweetheart. Listen, I bet you want me to transfer you over to Kyle [current partner], don'cha?"

Gowan hesitated a fraction of a second, trying to reclaim the relaxed, easy tone. "Yeah, actually, how 'bout Danny-boy [former partner 'til not long after Chicago], if he's around."
"You know you're not supposed to be working, Ash," Frank said quietly. "And your and Danny's caseloads don't overlap anymore--not since you went out on beat again." It was thesympathy in his voice that hurt the most.

"Yeah, I know, man. But I'm bored outta my everlovin' skull here. I just want to shoot the breeze if he's got a sec. Catch up on what's been going on in the land of the living."

Gowan thought he heard a sigh of relief. Then Frank snorted. "Ha. Knew they made a good choice moving you to homicide with us. If wepry hard enough, you got the requisite sick sense of humor."

It was Gowan's turn to laugh. "Eh, bite me, you troll. Now, seriously, what's got your illustrious self on desk duty?"
"Hey, stick to two syllables or less, or my ass don't follow this shit."
"So, you admit that's where your head's at!"

"Yo. Fuck you, too, Crow, and the little vay-cay-shun you blew in on. But, seriously, we had a few layoffs and reorgs around here past coupla months. We rotate desk now, as needed. And, ah, Danny got moved to day shift. You'll have to call back then to catch him. Or I could transfer you to his voicemail. Pressstar when you're done, and it'll bring you back to me--and I can transfer you to Kyle. You know he's gonna shit bullets if he finds out you called here and didn't talk to him. He wants to pick your brain about yet another case that's turning his precious hair grey and chew you out for not leaving a forwarding number while you're vay-cay-shuning."

They shared a laugh. "You know IA said no work. Well, they really said 'no contact,' but--" Gowan raised his voice a little, hamming it up, "You can piss off, if you're listening!"
"You crazy, man. Transferring you now."
"Thanks, Franky, I owe you one."
"Gonna collect one'a these days, Crow. You bear that in mind." Frank transferred him before Gowan could respond.

"You reached [rank--Lt.?] Daniel Simm's box outside normal business hours. Gimme your specs, and I'll respond when I can."

Gowan blew out a quick breath. This would be easy. Danny would know. He always did. "Ah, hey, Danny. It's Ash. How's the old routine? Heard you got the big promotion off the ghoul squad. Congrats! Ain't it nice to see daylight? I know I'm getting to like it. Look, hit up my cell when you get a moment. I need to pick your brain and your e-brain on something that might have to do with that--hobby--I came home with couple years ago. Misplace any doc friends lately? Any that went...odd...recently? Gimme a call back; I'm still on odd hours. You know the number. Ah, see you 'round, buddy."

Gowan breathed a sigh of releif. See? Easy. He pressed star. Time to be led to the slaughter...

That's all I've got written so far, and that's pretty much I have going on. But the last couple of things--just in case anyone wanted to help me speculate about What's Going On (any help is always appreciated; the more complicated, the better!)--are that Gowan has met once with the Humanis people, and it went okay. We had a little miscommunication between the GMs and me, so Gowan didn't realize that he knew the people who suddenly invited him out--meaning he was a lot more quiet than he would have been if he knew he was among "friends". Ah, well. I sent them out another invite, so we'll see what happens. Chance to hang with humans AND plumb them for info about the speaker's wound.

The other thing is that Gowan is courting the Mafiya, but not because he actually wants something out of them. It turns out that Grigorii, Konstantine, and Boris are all big Urban Brawl fans, just like Gowan. So, he can relax and kick back with them (now that he has a new Russian language linguasoft). But Plot came up and bit Gowan on the ass. Turns out Grigorii's cousin got killed in the alleyway behind the club by "the Slicer," the news's new name for Freddy/Edward. He got carved up, and all his cyber and possibly organs (I'll have to check my notes; would it surprise you all to know I'm the team transcripter?) got laid out beside him, except for one thing. I think it was his smartlink that was missing. Again, I'll have to check.

There are three things of interest here. 1) Gowan was getting out of the Humanis club when he first met that group (leaving in somewhat of an undignified manner, I would add), when he chanced to see someone getting vivisected in an alley. He called the cops and then pulled his gun and went in--and got blindsided by pure, unadulterated hate and menace. All he saw was a tall, thin, pale shape and knifes for fingers. Then his willpower broke, and he found himself on his bike and headed as far away as fast as he could go. Needless to say, no mention of the 911 call the following day--or the body.

The other possibility, of course, is that DocWagon is involved. Not sure how yet, but we'll see. Grigorii said that his other cousin was a bear shaman, so Gowan's going to totally take him up on seeing if he can find out more. Not just to know--but, hot damn! Actual contacts in Seattle! Now, I have a free contact I haven't named yet, but Gowan's so anti-social, it's hard to come up with anything that fits. I also have so many karma points that I'm starting to make draskireis a little twitchy, I think. He would much rather I spend them, but I like the levels of all my skills and abilities (I don't want him to get too powerful; and I'm glad he's got a flaw--this one's in his willpower), and I haven't come up with anything new I want/need. Ah, well. I'm sure, when the drek hits the fan, I'll come up with something.

I'm also going to use Danny, at least, as a jumping-off point for the challenge I opened this post with. I have a couple AU ideas I want to play around with. But I don't got nothin' written yet (stay 'tooned). So, instead, I leave you all with a coupla gloriously tasteless song or two from my childhood. What can I say? Ol' Travis riled up mah braeeen.
Tags: gowan
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