Ghouls in my Ork Underground

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Ghouls in my Ork Underground
Date2082-08-09
Location
Ork Underground
Status Threat Level: Medium
Factions Involved
ShadowHaven
Skraacha
a Wendigo and her Cult
Cold Hands
Ace
Hound
Newt
1x Wendigo, 1x Unnamed MysAd, 1 Partially Summoned Spirit, Multiple Corrupted Metahumans
Casualties and losses
Newt's Innocence 1x Wendigo, 1x Unnamed MysAd, Multiple Corrupted Metahumans
Full Run Name is 'Ghouls? In My Ork Underground? More likely than you think!'


Summary

Four runners are invited into the Ork Underground in order to deal with a feral ghoul problem. The problem turns out to be neither a ghoul nor feral.

Background

The Ork Underground had been suffering from an uncommon number of disappearances in a short span of time. These disappearances were associated with a ghoul-infested sewer tunnel network deeper below, with torn-apart and partially eaten bodies showing up nearby. Members of Skraacha or the local community who went into the tunnels to search for the missing ended up missing themselves. Warboss reaches out to Shadowhaven rather than risk further casualties among his people.

The Meet

The four contracted runners meet up in the Ork Underground, at a Hurlg distillery run by a local woman by the name of Miranda. She is the Johnson for this run and explains that her area of the OU has been terrorized by disappearances. When the missing do turn up again, it is in the form of mangled and barely-recognizable bodies. During the conversation, she mentions that one of the more notable missing persons was a certain Father Crosk, a Christian priest who was attempting to proselytize in the OU.

Miranda could not afford much in the way of pay, offering either a modest amount of nuyen or compensation in the form of Hurlg. The runners agreed to the terms, either already having the understanding that this was a largely unpaid 'community service' run, or otherwise having their own reasons for accepting.

The Plan

The runners decided to investigate what few leads they had. The first stop was the mortuary, where they examined the recovered remains of the deceased. The bodies were in poor state: mangled, subject to violence, and often incomplete. However, the runners noticed several unusual elements that made them suspect that more than feral ghouls were at work here. Assensing revealed the trace presence of toxic-aspected magic. The bodies were often incompletely devoured, which was strange for attacks by feral ghouls. And further, multiple wounds appeared to not be bite marks at all, but rather the work of blades ranging from combat knives to machetes. The runners began to suspect the work of a cult or other nefarious organization operating out of the tunnels.

From the mortuary, they decided to investigate the house of Father Crosk. The missing priest was a Protestant Reformist and his modest residence, carved into the OU tunnels, was populated by bargain-bin crucifixes and religious paraphernalia. The scratchy sound of an aged radio continued to play the recorded improv of Jazz. Upon entering, it was immediately clear that the residence was a fading Magic Lodge, and Father Crosk was awakened.

Newt approached the old radio and connected to the cared-for relic with psychometry. She witnessed scenes from the life of Father Crosk, a devout ork priest who had a connection to a younger magic user - possibly a student or a member of his flock. During the course of the vision, the two had a heated discussion, possibly an argument, and the younger magic user left the residence. Near the end of the vision, the older ork priest gathered himself with a sense of duty, looked about at his modest home as if knowing he might be seeing it for the last time, and departed. Newt emerged from the sad recollection in tears.

Knowing the priest ventured into the tunnels, possibly after the toxic magic user that was connected to the disappearances, Newt led the other runners by tracking the trace elements of Father Crosk and his foci's strong aura.


The Run

The runners moved stealthily through the tunnels, managing to avoid groups of feral ghouls lurking and scavenging unseen. A near-disaster struck as Newt approached a sloped sewer tunnel while tracking Father Crosk's magical focus. She slipped and fell into it, neither her nor the other runners reacting fast enough to stop the fall. She stumbles straight into a pack of what seems to be feral ghouls. Ace reacts by eliminating the most dangerous-looking among them with a burst of fire. Cold Hands and Hound charge in with melee weapons, cutting down the survivors. Strangely, one of the 'feral ghouls' attempts to run, but Hound manages to hatchet him down before he can get around the corner. The sounds of fighting alert other nearby groups in the tunnels, so the runners seize what seems to be the remnants of Father Crosk's focus - a string upon which a crucifix used to be hanged - and make a run for it. Motion-sensor grenade traps cover their retreat, allowing them to make it back to the Ork Underground unscathed.

Taking shelter in Father Crosk's residence, Newt engages in psychometry with the focus. She witnesses Father Crosk's last moments as he confronts the corrupted, infected Awakened that was once a part of his life. The old magician directs a powerful magic attack at the Wendigo that leaves its skin blistered, but the creature regenerates its wounds, rises, and tears into the old man. Newt awakes from the horrifying vision and retches. Hound offers her some Hurlg from the distillery as Newt recounts the vision to the other runners. Digging into their knowledge of magical threats, the runners recall that Wendigos tend to cultivate cults of followers corrupted by their toxic magic, enticing them to perform unspeakable acts to corrupt their beings. Once a follower is properly 'ripe,' the Wendigo consumes them and their essence.

After helping her clean up and after hearing their opponent was a Wendigo, Cold Hands places a call to St1tch, a contact who is an expert in the nature and physiology of the infected. St1tch informs her that Wendigos are clever opponents with natural regeneration. However they are weak to sunlight and vulnerable to the same things that would kill a normal ork, and further that a Wendigo's regeneration will not help her if her vitals are destroyed. Cold Hands relay this to the rest of the group and they resolve to return to the tunnels equipped with UV lights.

Back in the tunnels they find and track another group of 'ghouls' - actually normal metahumans who have been corrupted by toxic magic and now scavenge for meat to consume in cannibalistic rituals - as well as a single elf that is suspiciously normal-looking. Ace's fly spy camera allows them to track the pack's path, tracing it back to a set of tunnels that might hide the wendigo's lair. However, the group is spotted by the elf, who turns out to be a Mystic Adept. Crawling on the ceiling, he attacks them from above, first by charming Newt and then directing a blast of radioactive energy that topples Hound. He largely evades or only gets nicked by the runners' counterattacks, until Hound returns fire while lying on the ground and blasts a large hole in the unarmored elf.

The runners proceed towards the deeper tunnels where they suspect the Wendigo has made a lair. There, they find a cave practically oozing with toxic sludge, so thick that it can be walked on. The intense background count weakens both Cold Hands and Newt.

At the center of the cave, the fly cam spies a dangerous spirit early in the stages of being summoned, and what looks like a Wendigo standing before it. But the sharp runners deduce that the 'Wendigo' was actually an illusion, and that traces of illusory magic were present around one of the ghoul-like followers on the fringes of the cave. They open by tossing in molotov cocktails, setting the toxic sludge around the Wendigo alight. Ace dashes inside, empties a full automatic load into the real Wendigo, and then runs out quickly.

Newt also charges in to shoot but only grazes the creature. She takes cover further in the cave.

The near-dead Wendigo retaliates by launching a giant ball of toxic mana at where the group was standing, catching both Hound and Cold Hands. Hound, already heavily injured from the previous encounter, collapses unconscious. Cold Hands, injured from the spell and weakened by the background count, charges through the toxic sludge and drives her katana into the Wendigo's eye. Striking its vitals, she kills the infected, but discards her UV light by leaving it on and facing the dead creature, just to be certain.

Ace treats Hound with a wireless trauma patch, stabilizing the fallen runner. Cold Hands and Newt retreat out of the cave but, spurred on by her toxic raven spirit, Newt first braves the flames to grab the priest's cross from the Wendigo's hand - the focus now thoroughly corrupted by toxic magic. Somehow, Newt survives the flames and rejoins the group who cooperate to carry Hound to safety.


Aftermath

With the Wendigo and many of its followers slain, this particular threat to the Ork Underground was removed. The runners are offered their modest rewards.

Newt, resisting the bad advice of her Raven, destroys the corrupted focus.

Rewards

  • 4k or 8k in Hurlg (2 RVP)
  • 11 Karma (11 RVP)

Optional Qualities (Subtracts from run reward RVP)

  • Strive for Perfection at chargen (12 RVP)
  • Shoot First at chargen (2 RVP)

For Newt:

  • -1 Chip on Warboss

KunaKuso gets 8 GMP for playing a Pregen (Hound).


Game Quotes

Player After Action Reports (AARs)

Ace

Fighting ferals and the acolytes of a wendigo was a nightmare that stretched my training to the limits Rick. I don't need this on my resume. My eyes were good enough to pick out other runners, missing elves that were radiation mages and even good enough to take my flyspy all the way down into a wendigo nest. This was by all means a fall behind and get left behind mission, that Wendigo cave with the spirit, all the screaming all that blood when I sprayed the place with EX-EX and ran for it and got back just in time to keep our axe-murderer from dying. At least now I know even more about infected and the nightmare that is fighting some of them. I'm not looking forward to seeing another one.

Cold Hands

"Even without Asahiro urging me to do a bit of 'community service,' it would have been hard for me to refuse this run. I might not be all that welcome in the OU, and they might find my sentimentality to be patronizing, but someone needs to look after the people who fall through the cracks in the system."

"What I did find was more a humbling experience than a chance to play hero. As I listened to Newt and Ace discuss magical threats, the nature of the priest's lodge, and the corrupting influence of toxic aspects, I realized that my knowledge of magic was woefully lacking - even though I can feel its power coursing through my body in every small thing that I do. That horrific cave was my first encounter with a high background count that ran contrary to my being, and the idea that the skills I take for granted might slip from my body without warning was a disconcerting one. I need to start educating myself, stat."

"But I'm glad we got the job done. After seeing what the Wendigo put together under the city, I'm starting to understand St1tch's fanaticism."

Newt

"Out of all the monsters that lurk in the deep underground, the Wendigo may be the most unpleasant I've ever encountered. Even banshees cannot hope to match their raw sadism. I do not envy the people who fell prey to that monster, and I hope that their souls may be cleansed by our molotovs. The other team were fine except for that Ace. Where does he get off calling me disgusting? Like he has any right to enter my home and call me a monster. While I was assensing a murder weapon no less! Whatever, I'm just glad I'm alive. That focus the Wendigo dropped... I outright refused when Raven told me to assense it. My mind just wasn't strong enough. She's turned her gaze from me in anger but... what did she want me to do? Is she trying to make me go mad?"