Sunday, September 22, 2013

Changeling: Session 3

When we last met, our heroes were laying low after a bus exploded in front of their meeting place, and had failed at getting information from a notorious local drug dealer in hopes of finding their missing friend.

Police arrive at the scene, briefly question Alex (who had remained in Starbucks), and send him on his way.  On his way home, Alex purchases a burner phone and activates it.

Wally flees home and sees an unmarked cop car sitting outside his building.  Thinking better of it, he keeps walking and spends a few hours at the library.  When he returns, there is a different car, different cops.  He goes in anyway.  When he leaves for work that night, he again notes the car.  Once at work he calls the pharmacy from his cell phone to listen for weird clicks or other abnormalities, but all seems normal.

At around 6:00 pm, Drake, who is at one of his usual haunts with his friend Luthor, receives a call from Diggles, who apologises for things getting "a little heated", but Drake and his people have clearly shown that they mean business, and he's still interested in whatever Drake had proposed.  He wants to meet somewhere to discuss further.  Drake hangs up on him and messages the group, and they decide to meet in two days to discuss where to go from there.

Anyone watching the news that evening hears only a brief mention of the shooting in the park.  The big story is that officials have a major lead on the bus bomber and Mayor Bloomberg promises that the fugitive will be dead or incarcerated in 48 hours.

At home that evening, Alex receives calls simultaneously on his Verizon and burner phones.  When he answers the burner, his other phone stops ringing.  Again with the clicks and the breathing.  He messages everyone to alert them.

The next night, around 9:00 pm, Wally hears a knock at his door.  Through the peep hole he sees a man of Middle Eastern descent, wearing a red Adidas jacket, yellow shirt, and headphones.  Wally cracks the door, and the guy kicks it in, immediately drawing a pistol, followed closely by a SWAT team.  Notably, the SWAT guys don't aim at Wally but start focusing on his back wall, prepping an infrared camera, and small boxes connected with wire along the wall.  The Adidas guy brings Wally to another room, where they hear a series of cracks, voices, and gunfire.  In the mayhem, the Adidas guy slips a piece of paper into Wally's pocket and tells him that the city will be in contact with the building owner about the damage to Wally's property.  Adidas guy leaves.  Wally's neighbour the next flat over is dead.  Eventually SWAT clears out and is replaced by standard officers, setting up the crime scene.

Wally looks at the paper, which has written in pretty script "Sweet Dreams" and a black butterfly.  While he's trying to make sense of this, an officer tells him that it is apparently OK for him to remain in his apartment.  Wally confronts his landlord, Hank, who is in a panic about their meth production set up in the basement.  (Wally cooks, Hank sells).  Wally can recover the chemistry set, but the product will need to be destroyed.  Hank reluctantly agrees, and Wally goes down to the basement to clean up.

Others who are watching on the news notice in the static footage of the building entrance that Wally walks through the lobby and peeks out.  He is immediately flooded with messages from the group.  Wally sets about disposing of the product, and then heads to work with the PD's blessing.  While at work, he messages back, explaining to everyone what happened. Gareth offers up his shoddy couch as an alternative to sleeping in a crime scene, and Wally replies that he'll likely take the offer.

When he gets off work that night, Wally collects his chemistry set, along with some personal belongings, and brings them over to Gareth's apartment.  Wanting to be open and honest about things, he lets Gareth know what he's brought with him.  Gareth just laughs.  Wally departs for the time being, having only wanted to get the incriminating evidence out of his building; he will spend the night in his own apartment.  When Gareth brings up the What-To-Do-About-Diggles meeting the next day, Wally declines, having forgotten, and asks Gareth to bring him up to speed.

2:00 rolls around, and the group (including Goom) meets at the appointed bar.  Drake reiterates his conversation the other day, and everyone agrees that this is the best current means of getting information on Meagan.  Goom suggests meeting Diggles in an alley in Hells Kitchen, one he knows to have multiple points of egress in the event things go south.  Drake calls Diggles to propose the time (the following day at 2:30) and place.  Diggles is permitted to bring two associates.  He agrees, but comments that the whole thing seems a bit shady.  This decided, the group goes their separate ways.

Meanwhile, Wally is at his apartment, and has fallen into a deep sleep.  He awakens to total darkness, no light whatsoever, although he can hear his alarm clock going off (he hadn't set it).  He finds he can't move his mouth, but the rest of his body is functional.  He hears a rattle from his bedside table.  Freaked out, he bolts from bed, using sense memory to navigate.  The rattling growing louder, he throws open the apartment door only to encounter more inky blackness.  He returns to confront the rattling table, punching wildly at it, breaking things and sending his alarm clock flying.  Frustrated, he runs his hands over his face and feels... nothing.  No eyes, no nose, no mouth.  Indentations where features should be.  He opens the drawer and finds himself looking up at his smooth featureless face - his face is in the drawer.

Not knowing what else to do, he picks up his face and attempts to press it on to his head.  As he does so, there is a knock at the door, and the officer on duty in the other apartment leans in to ask if he is all right, having heard the crashing.  Wally can see, can speak, can breathe.  He reassures the officer, who departs.  Panicked, Wally packs and goes to Gareth's place.  Once there, he tells Gareth about what he hopes was a dream.  Gareth doesn't know what to say.

That same night, Alex awakens to find both his phones indicating text messages.  The one on his original Verizon phone reads, "No daddy don't go".  The burner reads, "Please please find me".

The following afternoon, Drake and Goom set up in the alley, and the others wait in a coffee shop across the way, to keep an eye out.  On time, Diggles shows up with his two massive bodyguards, all emerging from a blue VW Rabbit.
Imagine this swoll ride disgorging this...
Per our GM: "That photo exactly, but with a faux tiger fur over the shoulders and a blinged out 9 mm."
Seeing Goom in an upstairs window, armed, Diggles has his toughs stay back, and approaches with his hands out.  He starts to go into a long winded explanation of his distribution set up, saying they can get anything anywhere, as they are "the Facebook of drugs".  Drake thanks him and says his partners will be in touch, but in a show of good faith, can Diggles provide information about a girl they're interested in?  After being shown a picture of Meagan, Diggles acknowledges he knows of her and gives Drake what he has.  Beyond pumped about what he believes to be prospective new business, Diggles leaves.

Realising that her old place is near by, everyone gathers and heads out.  It is not a nice part of town, project housing.  They knock at her door, hearing music, but there is no answer.  Alex manages to pick the lock, and they enter to find the place ransacked, as though there had been a long fight.  In the centre of the room is a record player, playing an unlabelled LP on repeat.  Alex, Drake, and Gareth hear a flapping noise from the bedroom; upon investigation it is a piece of paper blowing in the air vent, the cover of which had been removed.  The bedroom is otherwise undisturbed.  Getting a boost from Alex, Gareth reaches into the air vent, pulling out a letter and a composition journal.

While the others investigate, Gareth reads.  The letter is from an "M. Butterfly" to "Appledore", dated November 6, 2013 (the group found the scattered pictures on November 7, the current date is November 20).  The letter is heavily existential, written from one abductee to another, referring to those that took them as The Vanishers.  M. Butterfly agrees with Appledore that the Vanishers are watching and will soon be coming for Appledore's friends.  Appledore is admonished for not following M. Butterfly's warnings and M.B. is sure that by the time Appledore has finished reading, (s)he will be gone again.  Still, two pieces of advice are offered: 

1. Stay close to the sky. 
2. Never visit the mole people.

 The composition notebook is Meagan's journal from the past few months.  In it she reveals she returned to her home town, met up and hung out with her "twin" (the thing that looks like her and took over her life).  Among other things, she also mentions a quilt she's had since childhood, which has gone with her everywhere - Gareth sees it on her bed, taking it with the intent of giving it back to Meagan - and which she stole back from her doppelgänger.  She spent some time in California, where she encountered M. Butterly.  While she was travelling, she was the happiest she's been in ages, although she inevitably came back to NYC.  She writes about the group, and seems to grow ever more paranoid.  After a couple of false starts, she finally signs on with a boat (the school at sea), thinking she'll be happiest there - one of them was called the Appledore.  Along the way she also makes a comment that her best camera has been acting up.

She also makes note that M. Butterfly directed her to check out  a club on the lower east side of Manhattan where she might find more information about the Slender Man who took her. It’s some club called “The Box: Theater of Varieties.”  Her final entry, dated November 6 reads, "Wa-right. Went to the Box. Place completely ate my head. Being followed. Scared. New letter from M. Butterfy."

Drake goes down the hall and speaks to one of Meagan's neighbours, an older black woman.  She said that Meagan was nice, but she hadn't heard from her in a while.  Drake makes something up about possible boy trouble, but the neighbour says she had never seen Meagan with a boyfriend.

Before the group leaves, Gareth also collects her camera, the one that had been "acting up".  He takes a shot of the record player, and notes that there are now two pictures on the SD card.

Everyone returns to Gareth's apartment to bring Wally up to speed and to take stock of what they've learnt.

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