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Tuesday, March 30

Grace Under Pressue: Part 4 – Knock, Knock…

They swam into darkness through weird black coral, rising up in tightly clustered poles that hindered their progress. Hammer gasped out of the pool, sucking in a stale lungful of air.

The other agents emerged behind him in a massive chamber. The ceiling, if there was one, was concealed by mist.

At the center was a subterranean dome. Before it were five oddly shaped tombstones, each with a symbol in Aklo engraved upon it. A raised altar with an Elder Sign at its center pulsed in time with the glowing symbols.

A huge doorway jutted from the surface of the dome. It had the features of Cthulhu's head, a skull-faced beast with tentacles for a mouth. Three figures stood at the portal.

Cho Chu-Tsau, arms raised, was chanting in time with the pulsing symbols. Next to her, reading aloud the chants from a book and swathed in ceremonial robes, was the frail Dr. Ko. But the third figure was what disturbed the agents most.

It was a fish that walked like a man. Its giant, catfish-like head was somehow part of a purplish, malformed humanoid body. Two of its whiskers rose up over its head like horns, and two others dropped like a moustache over its gaping mouth. It had a distinct oriental cast, stripped to its waist in pants and sandals. A huge cannon was strapped across its back, a wicked-looking sword dangling from its belt.

Hammer called them all to a halt. The room's darkness was complete. The agents had an advantage, as all eyes were trained on the portal.

"Archive, Hammer, you take out Chu-Tsao. Guppy, Caprice, you're on Ko. Jim-Bean, you and I will take out…"

Jim-Bean was gone.

Hammer swore. "Move!" more

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Monday, March 29

Grace Under Pressure: Part 3 – In the Mouth of Madness

The agents entered into the labyrinthine passageways of the sunken nightmare city.

"From what I could decipher from the laptop on the Joey," began Guppy, "there's three cultists down here. Cho Chu-Tsao, Agent Powers, and William Davis Ko."

"So Powers wasn't the only defector," said Caprice.

"No. In fact, it looks like Majestic ended up funding Ko's research. They gave him access to some piscid humanoids, codenamed BLUE HADES, retrieved from PROJECT JENNIFER—"

"Deep Ones," corrected Archive.

Guppy looked at him. "Okay, sure. Ko got his hands on some Deep One DNA."

Hammer nodded, his eyes tracking signs of Chu-Tsao's passage. "That explains the fish-hybrids we found in Chicago. Tiger Transit was originally funding Ko's work."

The trail led through broad and high corridors overgrown with dimly glowing algae and fungi. Mysterious reliefs on the walls depicted nightmarish horrors.

"Right," said Guppy. "And I think Majestic-12 wanted access to Ko's experiments. But I guess he was a double agent."

"So Ko's research for Majestic-12 picked up right where he left off with Tiger Transit?" asked Caprice.

"Yeah," said Guppy. "Worse, actually. He stumbled upon a flu-virus under PROJECT PI. The Pi prion can convert human DNA to Deep One DNA in a matter of hours."

Jim-Bean paused for a moment, coughing.

"You okay Jimmy?" asked Hammer.

"I'm fine," said Jim-Bean. He kept walking.

"They tested it on the native population," continued Guppy. "And from the gist of the emails, they were going to unleash it on Ho's men too."

"So we did Ho a favor!" laughed Jim-Bean.

"Yeah," said Caprice slowly. "A favor."

The twisting trail led to a stone slab hallway that descended at a slight grade as it proceeded into a small hillock. There were signs of a lot of traffic in and out of the temple. The agents filed inside, weapons ready.

The entrance opened into a passageway nearly ten feet wide and fourteen feet tall. Toward the bottom, where the walls were better protected from the elements, strange hieroglyphics covered them. The floor sloped at a nearly twenty degree angle.

"So what are the cultists up to?" asked Hammer. "They want to turn the whole world into a bunch of fish people?"

Archive shook his head. "That's not enough. They need a leader."

"Or a god," said Jim-Bean. He pointed ahead of them. more

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Sunday, March 28

Grace Under Pressure: Part 2 – Losing Powers

As the Wallaby approached the dark mountain, a massive opening revealed itself to be navigable. It led into a kind of pool in a huge cavern.

"Sensors indicate a breathable atmosphere," said Caprice. "But we'll need to put on pressure suits—"

Guppy sighed as a warning light flickered on his console. "Jim-Bean just opened the airlock."

Jim-Bean gave the Wallaby's cameras a thumbs-up.

"Caprice, you watch Ho. I don't want him out of your sight."

Feng Ho, if he was aware of his plight, didn't show it. He watched Jim-Bean curiously on the monitor, like a puppy wondering when its master would return.

Caprice rolled his eyes. "I get to watch the mind-controlled zombie? Great." more

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Saturday, March 27

Grace Under Pressure: Part 1 – Welcome to R'lyeh

"Is that fallen masonry?" asked Hammer.

The chunks passing beneath the Wallaby were larger and larger, and had different shapes. Cubes, rectangles, then columns, octagons...it was clear that they were not natural.

"No," said Archive gravely. "R'lyeh."

At first irregular and far between, the glowing patches increased in number and size, eventually flowing together into a soft latticework across the sea floor. While nowhere near as bright as the Wallaby's spotlights, the glow did serve to illuminate contours and shapes in the dim water beyond the light.

The coral grew thin, with only a few stalks clumped here and there. In its place lay the rudiments of buildings.

It became clear that they were are at the beginning of a broad canyon-like avenue, lined with squat structures revealed by the spotlights and the sickly glow that was increasingly widespread. The buildings became more elaborate the further that the Wallaby went. Very quickly, the tops of the structures were beyond the range of the spotlights, and their height could only be guessed at by the faint phosphorescence that coated them. They were enclosed by mammoth towers, stolid halls, all cracked and dim, showing the wear of centuries, perhaps millennia. The architecture was of ancient origin, but showed traits found in nearly every style ever produced by man.

"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn," whispered Archive.

"What?" asked Hammer, irritated by Archive's odd behavior.

"In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming," whispered Archive, hugging himself. "We are in a very bad place." more

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Friday, March 26

Grace Under Pressure: Prologue

30,000 FEET BENEATH THE PACIFIC OCEAN—The agents were in hot pursuit of Cho Chu-Tsao's smaller mini-sub, the Joey. It was difficult to tell if they were actually overtaking her in the Wallaby, though, as the pings they got back from her homing beacon were erratic.

There was a hideous wrenching noise and then the power flickered. The Wallaby swerved to starboard.

"What was that?" asked Hammer.

"We lost the starboard impeller!" shouted Guppy, struggling with the controls.

"Can you tell me where the problem is?" asked Jim-Bean. "If so I can probably take a look."

Caprice brought up a map of the Wallaby. It really did look like the Millennium Falcon. A starboard section blinked red. "There."

Jim-Bean grunted. "I think I'm close enough…" He took a few steps towards the back of the bridge. "Yep, I can see it."

His eyes glazed. "Looks like…looks like there's something stuck in the impeller. Muck and debris fouled up the blades. The grill at the front of the impeller tube has been smashed in."

"The muck must have closed over the grill completely. That'll cause the impeller to create a vacuum that pulls the loose corner of the grill inwards," said Caprice.

"Do something fast!" shouted Guppy. "We're spinning in circles here!" more

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Thursday, March 25

Chapter 53: Grace Under Pressure - Introduction

This story hour is from "Grace Under Pressure" by Jeff Barber and John Tynes and "Project Pi" by Peer Kroger from Worlds of Cthulhu #1. You can read more about Delta Green at http://www.delta-green.com. Please note: This story hour contains spoilers!

Our cast of characters includes:

Grace Under Pressure is a perfect fit for Project Pi, combining a deep sea submarine expedition with the excitement of heavily armed SEALs. While I was really attracted to running Grace Under Pressure with miniatures, time didn't allow for it. Events moved quickly, as the agents are still in pursuit of Cho Chu-Tsao, there's a giant submarine tumbling into the depths behind them, and they're about to descend into R'lyeh.

In R'lyeh, our old friend Dr. William Davis Ko is back – turns out he's a traitor to Majestic-12 and continued to fund his Deep One research in conjunction with the Pi Virus. John Powers, also a traitor to Majestic-12, was icing on the cake. From there, it was just a matter of having Cho Chu-Tsao, Ko, and Ko's bodyguard duke it out in front of Fat Dragon's nifty temple which my two-year-old son helped me put together.

I knew this scenario was trouble though. I even mentioned it on Nebulos' story hour, who ran it as a d20 Modern game like I did. The problem is that the scenario doesn't really have a survival conclusion. Basically, the PCs have a very high chance of getting "Deep One on them" with the only solution being a tradeoff with the final villain in front of the Cthulhu shrine. Assuming the agents sell out to save their lives, it leaves the little matter of Cthulhu awakening.

The resolution, as implied by the scenario, involves nuclear subs might firing a missile at Cthulhu. We didn't have a nuclear missile because I changed the scenario around. But I did have a nuclear-powered submarine.

Both scenarios are concerned about avoiding awakening Cthulhu, which just seems silly to me. I mean, seriously, you can't beat a Star Spawn of Cthulhu in combat, so if you're going to blow one up with a plot device, why not just use the Big Guy himself?

So I used the Star Spawn as the Big Scary Monster you THINK is the final boss but isn't. My brother even asked, "why do they call this game Call of Cthulhu? Do we ever get to meet him?"

And then he did.

I had my Call of Cthulhu action figure from SOTA toys, which I used in my Arcanis story hour. It's been a couple of years, so the players completely forgot about it. In fact, I was careful to bundle him up in a plastic bag so that nobody accidentally discovered him before his big reveal. It had exactly the effect I hoped. more

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Wednesday, March 24

Righteous Triad Fists: Conclusion

Guppy sat down on the bridge of the Wallaby. His eyes lit up like a kid in a candy store as he switched the power on. It hummed to life with all the fanfare of a Mac computer. "I recognize this…this is the submersible that was stolen from an Australian facility!"

Caprice sat down on the chair opposite him. "Yeah I heard of the Wallaby. It keeps pressure equalized at any depth."

"The Wallaby can operate under its own power for two weeks," said Guppy. He flipped more switches as the diagnostics whirred to life.

"It looks the Millenium Falcon to me," said Hammer, standing behind Guppy.

"Better," said Guppy, grinning for the first time in awhile. "The Wallaby has combination of pontoons and ballast, a single set of impeller motors, and a mini-sub cradle."

"The Joeys," said Ho robotically. "There are two. Tsao took one."

"I've got her signal," said Caprice. "We can track her."

The horseshoe shuddered again. "Let's get the hell out of here," said Hammer.

"Aye, aye, captain!" said Guppy. He pushed a lever forward and the sounds of couplers disconnecting rumbled the perimeter of the Wallaby.

The Wallaby pulled away, spinning as it caught in the current and propelled itself quickly away from the larger ship.

"I just realized," said Jim-Bean, laughing to himself. "If the mini-subs are Joeys and this thing is the Wallaby, then that Horseshoe thing is…" he broke out into fits of laughter. "…a KANGAROO! HA!"

Jim-Bean's hysterical laughter was all that echoed throughout the Wallaby as they descended into a deep sea trench. more

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Tuesday, March 23

Righteous Triad Fists: Part 6 – Insecure

Hammer came up first, sputtering in rage. Half of him was amazed he was still alive. The other half considered how to murder Jim-Bean on the spot, if he could even be killed anymore.

Jim-Bean stood, smiling. He was unharmed by the blast. Water streamed in from a dozen places, electrical wires sparked, and computer equipment was everywhere.

The other agents slowly rose to their feet.

Hammer turned to face Jim-Bean, hands at his sides. It was not a friendly gesture.

Jim-Bean smirked as he held up a broken vial. "Looking for this? It was destroyed in the blast. Too bad."

It was the vial of BIOSAN-4. Hammer now had no means of stopping him.

"Don't be mad, Hammer. We don't have time for this nonsense and that was the quickest way to end the conflict."

"End it? You put all our lives in danger! Are you trying to kill us?"

Jim-Bean laughed. "If that were the case you'd already be dead." He sighed. "Besides, we're after the book, remember? And I know who can lead us to it. Ho, come here," commanded Jim-Bean.

Colonel Feng Ho meekly joined Jim-Bean. "We need to get to the auxiliary bridge."

Ho led the way. Hammer, suddenly realizing just how powerless he was, went along. The other agents, dusting themselves off, followed. more

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Monday, March 22

Righteous Triad Fists: Part 5 – We All Live in a Giant Submarine

"They're down there," said Jim-Bean, pointing at a narrow ladder to the bridge. "They're waiting for us."

"All right. We're going in hard and fast," said Hammer, pistols cocked. "Jim-Bean, you take point. I'll provide cover. Caprice, Guppy, see if you can make it to the control panels. We need to find out what happened to the book. Archive, you hang back, provide support as needed. Ready?"

They nodded.

"Jimmy, go!"

Gripping the ladder with the insides of his feet, Jim-Bean slid down the rail. He was immediately peppered with gunfire. Jim-Bean held one hand out and the bullets ricocheted off harmlessly.

Hammer was next. He hit the ground hard, rolled and came up firing. The gunfire stopped for a moment as the guards ducked behind control panels.

The other agents followed, each letting loose a volley of retaliatory fire so that another agent could slide down.

Lining the walls of the chamber were seven consoles with matching chairs. The consoles were for RADAR, the diving control center, the quartermaster post, radio, sonar, SINS (Submarine Inertial Navigation Systems), and the complex’s computer. A periscope flanked by a radio antenna and a radar antenna stood in one corner of the room.

The tcho-tcho guards piloting the horseshoe were dressed entirely in black — slacks, turtleneck sweater, and deck shoes. Colonel Feng Ho stood at the center of the mass of men, firing his pistol.

Canister-shaped grenades were tossed over into the center of the room.

"Gas!" shouted Hammer. more

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Sunday, March 21

Righteous Triad Fists: Part 4 – Yours and Mine

Guppy was glad that they all wore suits that could withstand freezing temperatures. They had all packed flippers and some basic SCUBA gear, with their air tanks for the HALO jump converted to SCUBA tanks. But mostly Guppy was just following Caprice's lead, who decided to go ahead with infiltrating the base while the others were arguing about it.

Guppy could make out Caprice ahead of him, visible only by the sluice of water he cut as he swam steadily towards the giant horseshoe.

Then something tugged on his leg. Guppy panicked and looked down, his mind conjuring images of some tentacled beast sucking him into the depths. But it was just a fishing line, connected to a blinking round sphere.

Guppy untangled his leg and swam faster.

An explosion behind him blasted seawater high up into the air. The shockwave pounded Guppy a second later, flipping him over and over. He wasn't sure if he hit another mine or if the shockwave set it off, but a series of explosions tore through the surface of the water.

Battered and bruised, Guppy felt himself slipping out of consciousness… more

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Saturday, March 20

Righteous Triad Fists: Part 3 – Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

Bits of flaming wood landed all around them. Jim-Bean had his eyes closed, palms outward as if to ward off a blow. He dropped his hands when the wreckage stopped falling.

"So much for the peaceful native population," muttered Hammer. "Everyone on the island saw that explosion."

"I know where they were transmitting to," said Guppy. He pointed. "This way."

They marched off into the foliage. The inland part of the reef, although only a few dozen feet wide at best, resembled a tropical forest. The soil was thin and poor for farming, but substantial enough to support many growths of coconut palms. Tangled vines and low brush covered the inland area where the palm groves did not.

The agents burst out into the open beach. The reef encircling the lagoon was composed mostly of limestone and covered with bright and colorful coral. The beach was sandy but narrow; beyond the shore, the landscape sloped sharply upward.

Guppy looked down at his cistron. "According to my calculations, something with a huge radar array was receiving the signal from the mission. But I don't see how something that big could be…" he looked up. "…so close…to shore…"

Only a few hundred yards off sure was a huge, battleship-gray, horseshoe-shaped structure. The top ten feet of the complex was above the surface of the lagoon. Five crane mechanisms were visible around the perimeter of the top deck, framed by the night sky. Anchor chains stretched down at an angle into the ocean. Various seams and fittings were discernible. The horseshoe complex gave off a low, steady hum.

Six rotating searchlights were placed around the perimeter of the top deck, occasionally scanning over a statue at the center of the horseshoe. Connected by chains, the fifteen-foot tall statue was carved from a black glossy stone marbled with rust red and blue-green veins. It depicted a squaminous beast, hunched over, wings flared, with tentacles dangling from its face. It looked down into the emptiness between its two outstretched and clawed hands, as if to eat the world that’s not yet in its grasp.

"Whoa," said Caprice. "Guess we know what Tiger Transit's been spending their money on, huh?" more

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Friday, March 19

Righteous Triad Fists: Part 2 – On a Mission

The missionaries’ building was a small wood-frame house on the south side of the island. Hammer stealthily padded up to the veranda. It was marred by signs of damage and forced entry. The front door was hanging on one hinge, three-quarters open.

"Something very bad happened here," said Guppy, stating the obvious.

They all looked to Jim-Bean, who had one hand out before him, eyes closed. "All clear," he said. "Nobody's home that I can see."

They entered a main hall. It appeared to have been used as a triage area/emergency room/waiting area for the natives needing medical attention. Ten empty wooden chairs were lined up around the walls, and the walls were pockmarked in several places by what looked like bullet holes.

Caprice ducked into one room and Guppy followed. What’s left of a radio and a simple transmitter were scattered about. The few pieces of electronic equipment were all mangled by gunfire. Two chairs were overturned on the floor.

A bird shrieked in the distance. "Woooop! Woooop!"

Guppy ducked into an adjacent room. The words “Meteorological Office” were printed on the door to the room in English. It had been smashed open.

Radar equipment, a barometer, a hygrometer, a wind gauge, a weather vane, and a radio were housed in the room.

Guppy fiddled with the devices. They were all intact and operable.

"Wooop! Wooop!"

"What the hell is that?" asked Caprice from the other room.

"I don't know," said Guppy over his shoulder. "Something big and weird." He turned the radio on. Nothing happened. more

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Thursday, March 18

Righteous Triad Fists: Part 1 – Playing HALO

The wind screamed past Hammer as he went into free fall.

He was dimly aware of the other agents falling beside him, arms and legs spread. Their altimeters clicked away as they descended.

For a little while there was nothing but Hammer's breathing. It was peaceful, silent.

They plunged through the cloud cover. The air was nothing but mist and Hammer could feel the dampness fighting to get through his suit. There were flashes of lightning here and there, but other than that it was quiet. White. Beautiful.

He fell out of the bottom of the cloud. The ocean glittered beneath them in the moonlight. A storm was roiling overhead, but it hadn't yet broke and the moon was still partially visible, illuminating the contours of the island.

It was the worst possible weather for a HALO insertion. But they had little choice.

"We're clear. Deploy parachutes in five…four…three…two..."

Hammer took a deep breath and set his jaw so that he wouldn't bite his tongue. He pulled the ripcord.

The parachute exploded out behind him. There was always that breathtaking moment between deployment and the parachute filling with air. In those moments men learned their fates.

The parachute deployed and it felt as if God flung him around by the scruff of his neck. Hammer grabbed hold of the parachute controls and steered toward the landing target.

The heads-up display on his mask showed that the other agents deploying, one after another. Guppy deployed his chute right on time -- Hammer was concerned that, given his past experience, he might deploy it too early. But Guppy was the least of his problems.

A red light flashed on his HUD to the tune of a soft but persistent warning beep.

"Jimmy, what's up?"

"I'm fine," said Jim-Bean.

Hammer had to concentrate on steering. He craned his neck, but in the darkness and with the storm swirling overhead it was hard to see anything.

"Why aren't you deploying your chute?'

"I don't need one," came the monotone reply.

"You can fly now?" asked Caprice sarcastically.

"Yes," said Jim-Bean. more

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Wednesday, March 17

Righteous Triad Fists: Prologue

"Alulu Island is located in the west central Pacific Ocean, about a thousand miles south of Japan between the Ryukyu Islands and the Bonin Islands just north of the Tropic of Cancer. It's an independent atoll not associated with any island chain. It's less than a mile in diameter from outer shore to outer shore, and is outside the domain of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. It's under 'unofficial' protection of the British government. British missionaries maintain an outpost on the island, which also serves as a weather station. We also had an undercover agent working there who suddenly ceased all communications with home base."

"Tsao's flying halfway across the world to get to this little island? Seems like an awful long way to fly to perform a ritual," said Caprice.

"Recently, a force of mercenaries assembled from the survivors of central African and Latin American campaigns descended upon the island. Shortly after this became known, all contact with the island was cut off. It is believed that Lt. Col. Feng Ho, commonly known as Mad Merc, is the organizer of this invasion. Guppy?"

Guppy punched a few buttons on his cistron, no small feat with the gloves he was wearing. An image of Ho flashed on their cistrons.

"In the aftermath of World War II, Ho was discharged from the Chinese Army after an incident in which many innocent civilians were killed. Since that time he has kept a very low profile. Since then, he served as a mercenary in military actions around the world. We believe Cho Chu-Tsao flew to Alulu Island to rendezvous with Ho, and that Ho is responsible for silencing all communications."

"Why don't we just—" began Jim-Bean.

Hammer held up one hand. "Before you recommend bombing the place with Jericho Jets, Majestic's not willing to intervene until reliable intelligence is received from the island. The primitive native population of something more than one hundred individuals who may be under forcible detention, and their lives as well as the lives of the missionaries may be jeopardized if military action is attempted."

"What's a couple of hundred natives…" began Jim-Bean, but Hammer cut him off. more

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Tuesday, March 16

Chapter 52: Righteous Triad Fists - Introduction

This story hour is from the "Righteous Triad Fists" by Allan T. Grohe Jr. in The Triad Sourcebook, "Mad Merc: The Alulu Island Mission" from Dragon Magazine #56 by Rasmussen and Thompson. You can read more about Delta Green at http://www.delta-green.com. Please note: This story hour contains spoilers!

Our cast of characters includes:

Righteous Triad Fists is a hidden gem buried in a supplement for a game that has nothing to do with Call of Cthulhu: The Triad Sourcebook for Hong Kong Action Theater. The design team received the rights to use elements of the Mythos from Chaosium, so when I was putting together my series of scenarios to take down Tiger Transit, I knew I had to include Righteous Triad Fists.

The plot from Righteous Triad Fists relied heavily on a pregenerated cast of characters, so instead I just took elements that might be useful – Colonel Feng Ho, and the hopping cultists. Yueng Ng Wa, the deep one bodyguard, makes an appearance in the next installment.

The Island Mission does most of the heavy lifting here, providing an island and a giant floating submarine dock. The agents almost didn't end up on the dock – they correctly decided that it was a job for Jericho Jets to blow the thing up, a decision Guppy and Caprice disagreed with. There was a tense moment where the team almost broke up, but thankfully I was able to prod the players into rejoining the plot, and then for good measure had them suffer the consequences of their actions.

Despite the significant amounts of detail spent on the floating drydock, the agents skipped most of the details and went straight for the control room. This worked out just fine in the end. more

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Monday, March 15

The Jaded Temple: Conclusion

"What were you able to find out Guppy?" asked Hammer.

Guppy reviewed his cistron. His face was still smudged with dirt from the explosion. "The scrolls were written during the Tang or Song Dynasties and may have originated from an oral tradition handed down during the Hsia Dynasty. They took the form of riddles, prophecies, parables, and rituals passed down from the Heavens to the Emperor."

"I've heard of these scrolls. Confucius was said to be the last man said to have read all seven scrolls. The originals have been lost for centuries," said Archive.

"Together, the Seven Scrolls detail the key to the cycles of reincarnation and to the Heavens," added Guppy. "Each scroll supposedly imparts certain levels of knowledge and they build upon one another, so that one cannot master the secrets of the seventh scroll without having read the first six."

"Interesting," said Hammer. "Not sure what this invocation is but it can't be good."

"It's a ritual of reincarnation," said Archive. "Whatever Cho Chu-Tsao's planning to wake up, it's already dead."

"It also seems like Tiger Transit broke off relations with Dawn Biozyme and instead started a dialogue with Hunt Electronics," said Guppy. "Something about similar research."

Hammer sighed. "We know all about that. Don't we Jimmy?"

Jim-Bean, who seemed to be in a daze, snapped out of it. "Huh? Oh yeah, red flowers." more

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Thursday, March 11

The Jaded Temple: Part 4 – Out of the Ashes

Jim-Bean rose out of the ashes, sputtering. He looked around.

"I think I contained the blast," he said. "You guys can get up now."

Slowly, Archive, Caprice, and Hammer got to their feet.

"Where's Guppy?" asked Caprice.

"Here," said Tau, holding a blade against Guppy's throat. Guppy's eyes were wide with fear. Tau was edging towards the exit. "Don't make ah move or ah will kill him."

Jim-Bean shook his head. "No you're not," he said slowly. "You're not going to kill anybody. You're going to put your sword down and come over here."

The leader of the Tcho-Tchos froze. Slowly, his arm jerking unnaturally, every muscle fighting the instinct, he threw his sword to the ground.

"I said," Jim-Bean repeated, "come here."

Tau released Guppy. He took one halting step after another. more

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posted by Michael Tresca at 8:27 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Sunday, March 7

The Jaded Temple: Part 3 – KABOOM!

They were in the city’s sewer system. The walls and floor were covered with slime, which made footing treacherous. Jim-Bean led the way.

He stopped at a door. "They're behind here."

"Can you unlock it?" asked Hammer.

Jim-Bean shook his head. "I don't think so. It's an electronic lock."

"Guppy, you're up," said Hammer. "Open those doors."

Guppy pried open the control panel, spliced some wires, and hooked his cistron up to them. The door whisked open.

There was another door at the far end of the hall.

Jim-Bean stalked forward. "That's the computer room." Jim-Bean blinked. "More ninjas. Lots of them."

"This is suicide," said Archive. "We don't have much room to maneuver in here and they're waiting for us."

Jim-Bean smirked. "Don't worry. I'll stand in front."

"Guppy, you've got one job – hack that terminal. I want names, addresses, any information we can get our hands on," said Hammer. "Jim-Bean, your job is to make sure Guppy does what he does best."

Jim-Bean nodded.

"Caprice, this door's yours. Go."

Caprice set to work hacking the second door.

"Get ready," said Caprice. "In three. Two. One…"

The door whisked open. more

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posted by Michael Tresca at 9:18 PM | 0 comments links to this post


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Wednesday, March 3

The Jaded Temple: Part 2 – Dead Weight

The ancient thing that led the White Shadows took another step forward. Archive held up the Elder Sign before it. "By the power of the Elder Gods, I repel you!'

The mummified White Shadow shifted into a combat stance…and then turned and fled.

Everything happened at once. The other White Shadows struck, shuriken hissing through the air. Jim-Bean held up one hand and they bounced a few inches from his face.

"Remember!" shouted Hammer, taking aim with his hand crossbow. "No guns!'

Then the White Shadows were upon them. Caprice ducked a sword swipe, unslung his rifle, and clubbed one of the Shadows across the head with it. The attack knocked Caprice off balance long enough for another strike from a different Shadow. Caprice barely blocked the blow in time with his rifle butt.

Guppy patted himself down. He hadn't planned on engaging anyone in combat and was pretty sure he shouldn't be in a "high tension environment" according to his Majestic-appointed psychologist.

"Easy," he thought to himself. "This is just like a videogame. You're just fighting ninjas on an elevator. It's just a game…"

Then he found his taser.

A sword swipe just missed Guppy's chest. Guppy lunged in retaliation, shoving the taser in the guts of his foe and pressing the button.

The White Shadow jerked and twitched, stumbling backwards. He fell flat on his back.

"No guns means NO SPARKS!" snarled Hammer. He fired his crossbow and one of the Shadows went down, a bolt protruding from his head.

Caprice blocked another blow from a blade. He caught a flash of greenish fluid on the blade in the dim light. "They're using poison!"

"You do NOT want to be poisoned!" shouted Archive. "I lost a pinky that way!"

"How?" asked Caprice.

Archive dodged a sword swipe. "I ate it." more

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posted by Michael Tresca at 6:45 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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