Back From Darkness, Away From Light
|Back From Darkness, Away From Light|
|Part of Hail to the Pumpking|
Pump King Jack
|Casualties and losses|
A shadow spirit is worried about people inflicting self-harm so he starts taking steps to help them. This can't possibly go wrong.
Pump King Jack has worked hard to cultivate a breeding ground of fear in Sophocles. Naturally, it's worked to an eerie extent and the entire region of Redmond feels like a horror movie theme park in the worst way possible, making it outright painful for spirits to wander freely in. Unfortunately, this also affects the residents over time and managing a strong fear he can feed off of, but one that doesn't kill the civilians' will to live? A tall order with such a large population, but one Jack's determined to try and aim for nevertheless.
Jack meets the entire group inside of this fortress, built on the parking lot of an abandoned grocery store. As all four enter, three of them having felt painfully well how strong the background count's gotten, they come across Jack in his makeshift throne room. Dead trees line little garden plots in the courtyard, ethereally burning pumpkins overflowing with green fire and the ceiling leading to an astral tower of stolen memories and experiences, all swirling in an upwards vortex. Jack himself sits upon a large throne made of bone and pumpkin vines, happy to see the group. Babylon, however, is in visible pain under such a colossal background count and tells Jack to drag his bony ass out to talk. He realizes his mistake and gladly obliges, apologizing in the process. On their way out, Starscreamers peek at them from the darkness, so pitch black and lacking lighting that all that can be seen of the Halloweener rebels are their ethereal eye sockets, face covering ballistic masks only lit up with two green flames that might've normally been eyes.
Jack introduces the team to a bloodied, anemic-looking teenager called Mary. Babylon almost immediately looks mortified and tells Jack this has gone too far, but he's quick to rebuff their concerns and mentions that his people saved her from taking her own life as she tried jumping off a rooftop. He's attempted top console her and tell her how much she has to live for, but naturally a spirit made out of fear and terror isn't the best motivator. The team insists on taking Mary with them, to which Jack happily agrees. The reason he's called them to him in the first place is that he's noticed this to be an issue with mortals; in some cases they're driven to self-harm and even suicide, an action he can't quite comprehend yet but that he can intuit on a logical level to some degree. He's intent on minimizing it as much as he can and wants to provide some form of a safety net to the residents of Sophocles who are pushed that far. To that end, he wants to seek out suppliers of medication or medical experts willing to work for him, but doesn't have the opportunity to seek them out himself. Instead, he wants the runners to go check this out on his behalf for the betterment of the neighborhood.
While the other three are pretty dubious about why a Halloweener would want to provide mental health care infrastructure to strangers, Babylon has grown accustomed to Jack's antics and realizes he's likely telling the truth for twisted reasons. They accept, though they do negotiate the payment slightly upwards.
Intent on checking some hospitals and potentially black markets, Sp4rks and Triple both have some legwork skills that assist here.
At first, they visit a hospital in Tarislar, all the way down in the south end of the Seattle Sprawl. Zenith and Triple infiltrate socially while Sp4rks checks the host directly. While he manages to avoid a spider's attention, he does catch a couple of files here and there and opens doors when required. Meanwhile, Triple manages to fake out as a nurse late for her shift and gets reasonably free access until the FBI shows up looking into a potential trail. Coincidentally, they're looking for her specifically since Tarislar is an elf-dominated region of the sprawl. A good place to start as any, so Triple quickly ditches the hospital and gets out as soon as possible, leaving a mocking message on the agents' car before escaping completely. Zenith, however, gets to his missing wife's former office and frantically searches for evidence for her disappearance. While he does find a hidden compartment with tickets to Vegas only a few months after she gave birth to their child, little else of her can be found as leads. In addition, he puts on a data tap on the computer so Sp4rks can get some more ready access. He does find a list of medical patients in Tarislar, but this isn't too helpful. The local psychiatric specialists are a handy piece of information, however, and he takes a copy of those files.
After that, they visit a destroyed clinic of Redmond General that was destroyed in the Sophocles riots a month or so ago, as well as Your Mercy Hospital, a somewhat opportunistic private hospital run by the Vory. Upon checking the ruins, Babylon and Zenith manage only minimal salvaging from a wrecked server, getting a few hard drives that Jack's dissonant technomancer may be able to make use of. Sp4rks however encounters not one but two spiders in the YMH host and very carefully checks out some debt collecting files of the patients, finding a copy of Mary's debt having risen to unmanageable levels. He nukes the file beyond salvation and gets a reasonably good list of residents in Sophocles with mental health issues and possible diagnoses for them. He also manages to find a file detailing medical shipments, leading all the way to Tacoma where medical supplies arrive to the docks. This is known to be Vory territory, so it checks out.
Handing off the hard drives from the wrecked Redmond General host, a list of files that cover something over 80% of Sophocles' mental care patients and potential hires in two psychiatric specialists in Tarislar, the runners have done a reasonably bang-up job. Jack's satisfied and gives minuscule human skulls as reagents to Babylon while the other three are deeply infused with the dark, forbidden energies of Jack's karmic trove. Mary's taken by Babylon to the ex-NEOnet commune she's somewhat affiliated with, hopefully to get her life on the right track.
- For Triple Trouble: Social Chameleon, Method Actor & 2 Karma
- For Sp4rks: Spike Resistance, Quick Config & 1 Karma
- For Babylon & Zenith: 30,000 Nuyen (or 60,000 in reagents) & 1 Karma
- Optional Contact: Pump King Jack, 4/1 Halloweener Usurper (Must be bought with CDP or Karma)
Player After Action Reports (AARs)
I don't like things messing with the Barrens. The folk there have gone through or are currently going through enough. The fact there's this giant frag-off spirit there building some kind of astral tower and making the astral around Sophocles a figurative and literal nightmare bothers me. But Babylon said she had a plan and that I have to be patient. As I have no desire to die horribly at the hands of something with a pumpkin for the head, I'm deciding to trust the neighborhood Black Mage (I've been informed, by her, that this is a mistake).
So Jack wants to help people with depression, presumably so he can terrify them more. Either way it's not great. But the group decides to check out the Tarislar hospital. Triple Trouble takes on the appearance of a nurse and slips in, but apparently the FRAGGING FBI is after them. So I have to go in and pour my heart out to the security guard about some drek I can't even remember now, and get into a security office. I get a data tap on the console and let Sp4rks do his stuff and sneak out as quickly as possible, locking the door and detonating the data tap as soon as Sp4rks gives me the signal.
With some data in hand, Babylon and I head to the ruins of another hospital in Redmond, hoping to find some files, but all we find is a wrecked pile of drives. Babylon summons a kinda creepy spirit and it lifts the thing as we grab the drive and head back towards Jack. Though I caught a look at Babylon's necklace, it's got the same aura Jack does, and that's weird. Babylon seems intent as anyone to make Jack no longer a problem, so I'll let her have her drek. Just hope this doesn't get any worse.
This thing with Jack is defenitly getting out of hand - at first I was amused with the idea of a shadow spirit messing with the Weiners, and figured I could get some power out of the bargain, but he's gotten way too powerful too quickly from feeding off these people and now he's got a damn castle and some astral tower he's building. It's just unmanageable, and soon some stupid bastard is going to try to kill him (or me, specially if he keeps spilling the beans about what happened on the metaplanes) before I can complete our bargain and fix this properly. I don't even know what he thinks he's up to, finding some shrink to keep these poor fraggers alive - I feel bad that they're in this situation, but it's not exactly like their lives were great before. Frag, what a mess. Least I got reagents out of it.
Oh wow, I do not like this Jack fellow. He creeps me out massively. Fortunately... we... helped...? the people of Sophocles. Really, we need to get rid of Jack for GOOD.