The Found Arcana – Chapter 6 [IC]
OrganizerSeptember 7, 2020 at 1:25 pm
The wireboy laughed again: “I’m neither crazy nor that good. Have you seen his personal deck? That thing is killer – tricked out through the wazoo too. Wonder Plum surived as a White Hat against some pretty nasty Black Hats. I said he was crazy, not that he was stupid.”
Brad smiled ruefully: “Let me tell you, whatever you have heard about that broad, it doesn’t do her justice. I think she must have been a runner herself or some other kind of operative before she met the Duchess. I think she might be able to break even you in half. And she’s silent like a ghost if she wants to. And fast. I saw her catch a grey hound in full sprint.
The Cunning Man and she have some kind of rivalry going on – a bit like over protective godparents. It’s going to be interesting who Pike and the Duchess keep after the wedding, because sure as hell, keeping both would end in something going up in flames.”
Jawsey soon was joined by McElroy:
“Ah good, you have found our primary working place. In an hour or so, we can do a bit of sparring – not moving all day is a sure fire way of wasting your body. For now though let me take you on an astral tour through the grounds and the mansion.
Are you ready, or would you like to know something about what we encounter beforehand?”
McElroy had a soothing, voice that made you want to listen and remember what he said – a perfect tutoring voice.
OrganizerSeptember 7, 2020 at 7:51 pm
“Obviously it is better to know about dangers or off-limits areas before we head out. But I suspect that most descriptions will make more sense to me after having ‘seen’ it all. I guess I’m more of an applied learner? Then again, my only magic education is what trids I could find online, and I think those are mostly from the hermetic viewpoint? Certainly their language didn’t really match up well with how I experience the astral. I learned some things, but usually I had to go astral and experience things for myself to make much sense out of what they were trying to say in words. Likely you are much better at describing things, but my instinct will likely always be experience it first and try to find the words that match it later.”
Perhaps he was saying too much? But he didn’t actually need to impress this man in the long term, so perhaps it was better just to be honest?
MemberSeptember 7, 2020 at 9:10 pm
Mato nods along to Brad’s description of Katya.
“I’ve met with and trained with plenty of people who could mop the floor with me. Some of those elite special forces guys…” He shakes his head. “They’ve forgotten more than I’ve ever known. Tricks upon tricks up their sleeves. I guess that’s why they’re still around and alive enough to show them off. And I’m sure they didn’t share everything, just in case we found ourselves at odds with each other.
“C’mon, let’s get to the 10am.”
OrganizerSeptember 8, 2020 at 1:28 pm
McElroy nodded: “Each to their strengths. Come on then, there is lots to see.”
And indeed, the Courier proved to be a very good guide as well. Visiting the mansion from top to bottom, excluding the family quarters and the safe rooms, Jawsey was shown the entire area. He even allowed himself some fun by passing through Hamington a few times, who always started to shiver, looking around annoyed while trying to hold his briefing.
‘As you see, we have three layers of magical defenses: The watchers on the perimeters – those are meant to be spotted and act as an early warning system when anyone sneaks through. Then there are the homunculi – they blend in well with the rocks of the ground, being made from rock. They aren’t as astute, but they pack a punch as they have been created with a Greater Ritual.
Next line are the hounds – they roam free at night and are well trained to act as a pack.
Finally, there are the bound spirits. Those I keep in reserve on their own plane.
We will practice joint summoning and ritual casting and – if your philosophy allows – binding together. There are certain advanced techniques I’m developing and this place is as good as any to test them.
Most important for our defense is, that we couriers do not engage anyone directly. Taking us out would imperil the whole magical defense of the place.
But before we come to that – why don’t you tell me, why Cunningham did bring you here. I can see it in your aura. You are trying to hide an ulterior motive…”
Mato found himself with the three other Chasseurs and Master of the Hunt Hammington. The old man seemed curiously twichy, looking around and shivering like a drug addict one moment, then being calm and entirely rational the other.
“I assume you have met our new arrivals. Mr. …” He evidently had already forgotten Mato’s assumed name “will have the code name Red on internal comms. As he has passed his certifications, he will accompany Sgt. Burns on the rounds until he knows them. Lt. Fines and Corporal Varison, you can deside among you who does gate duty and who takes up armory.”
From the distinct lack of enthusiasm on Corporal Kilian Varison’s face, that meant he would be stuck again outside at the gate.
“We have Christmas Eve’s dinner tonight with a few additional guests at 1900h. I expect you to represent in dress uniform from 1830h until 0300h – so get some rest beforehand. Christmas day, there is a hunt on in the afternoon, so briefing will be at 1100h.
MemberSeptember 8, 2020 at 2:38 pm
“Ignacio Severo,” Mato says to anyone who asks after the briefing. “But Red serves just as well.”
This could be a racial thing because of his skin tone, but if so it’s mild and (at this point) still tolerable. Plus, Mato’s favorite color when he was five years old was red, so that helps.
Mato is surprised / not surprised to hear that ranks are being used. He supposes that means he is the Private. That’s fine. It probably also means that he’ll be on gate duty as soon as Corporal Varison can delegate it. That’s fine too. He gets paid either way.
The fact that there’s only eight hours between the end of dinner and the morning briefing seems brutal – and when do shifts even start? – but he’ll figure that out later. His sleep regulator will give him an edge, but it’s possible that he’ll have to start commuting separately from AM and Jawsey. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for eating and bathing – let alone laundry or other housekeeping – that’s for sure.
“Rounds,” he says to Brad when the briefing is complete. “Lead the way.”
OrganizerSeptember 8, 2020 at 2:49 pm
Brad nodds, but as soon as they have left the briefing room, he nods towards the stairs: “Not so fast, you haven’t seen your room yet, do you?”
He leads Mato upwards into the fourth floor. There is a row of rooms that look like very tiny hotel rooms, but are still of high quality.
“You should receive a keycode to your commlink now. The corridor is under camera surveillance, so be careful who you take to your room after hours. Not that it is forbidden, you just have to live with the gossip afterwards. If you want snacks, you can grab them in the kitchen – as long as you don’t get on the wrong side of the cooking staff. Doing that is worse than a sin – because sins can be forgiven.”
OrganizerSeptember 8, 2020 at 8:05 pm
Taking an astral tour together with someone else wasn’t entirely outside of Jawsey’s experience, he’d done some with Lieutenant Peters prior to joining CIS. But taking an astral tour with his boss just seemed weird. Not that the guy didn’t have good control of his astral form, but still it felt an awful lot like being nude with him.
The question about binding made him pause. “I’ve heard of it of course, but as I said it is only fairly recently that I even realized what I was doing was summoning, so up until now I’ve focused solely on that and have not yet investigated the related skills. I don’t suppose that I have a code that forbids it, but I admit the thought makes me uneasy — many of the spirits that I now consciously summon were originally the companions on my night time ‘dream walks.’ What I’ve learned of spirits suggests that binding does not have to be an awful thing, but it certainly seems like it can be unpleasant for the spirit.” After a few more moments of thought he said “I suppose that I’m not opposed to binding, but I am not fond of disrespectful treatment of spirits.”
He was still thinking through the binding issue when McElroy suddenly indeed made him feel naked, with his observation of ulterior motives. Could this be what the man had meant by sparring? Jawsey left the contemplation of the ethics of binding for a another time, and turned his thoughts towards this more aggressive question.
“Ulterior motives? I suppose so. Doesn’t everyone, to some degree or other? I would think that it is not hard to guess that Cunningham wanted his own people on staff, ones who would keep him in the loop of issues before they became obvious. The next part is speculation, but I think he does not have as close a relationship with the on-site staff as he would want, given the prestige of the guests and events. That he is worried of things starting to spin out of control before he’d even know there is an issue. As I said, all speculation. But for whatever reason, he both wanted to beef up the staff, and have his own line of communications.”
“Of course there are layers beyond that. This is a short term job for me, and I’ll need to be thinking about the next contracts, so contacts are good to develop. I’d like to do a good job so that I could possibly get decent references, but I know that my training is irregular and my experience an imperfect match to this job so I’m thinking about how I can compensate for that. I’m hoping to learn something, without seeming impossibly ignorant.” He shrugged, then added “I think I’m realistic enough to accept that I don’t harbor great hidden depths, my desires are mostly the same petty ones of survival and advancement that one sees all around.”
MemberSeptember 9, 2020 at 2:32 am
AM responds to the wireboy “I am sort of good, but lack the machinery to do real damage. Where did you study?”
MemberSeptember 9, 2020 at 3:32 am
Mato nods about the advice regarding the kitchen staff.
“Are there ‘badge bunnies’?” he asks about the room guests. “I know there are some people who can’t resist a uniform. And these do look very fine…
“And what is the rhythm of the day anyway? What with dinner ending at 0300 and the morning briefing a mere eight hours later. When do we start and stop manning the gate, or going on rounds?”
OrganizerSeptember 10, 2020 at 1:36 pm
McElroy smiled: “You are good at dissimulation. You said the truth while still concealing your core.
Now, I keep out of petty office politics, but I do care about everone under my responsibility. So all I’m asking of you is, that you are not here to hurt someone under my protection – which includes social or emotional hurt as well as physical. And of course that you work with me to the best of your abilities and not sabotage my work.
In turn I’ll keep silent and also teach you some tricks to unlock that vast potential that you haven’t yet fully developed.”
The wireboy snorted: “I’m Wesley by the way. That Tosser over there is William and this book reading nerd over there is Winona. I studied at Seattle University – until I got this job here. What’s your background? You look like some kind of wild hacker out of the plex – or at least your deck looks like it.”
Brad smiled: “I wouldn’t call them that, but yeah, fit young girls like fit young boys. And staying here weeks at a time does somewhat limit going clubbing.
Which brings us to the rhythm around here: There is none. It’s utter madness. These rich guys don’t care about what the servants want – if there is a problem, they throw money at it to pay for overtime.
Hamington – for all his faults – does take care to shield us from the worst, but even he can’t prevent them from arranging surprise parties at the spur of the moment. I’m mightily glad that you hired on. As you already noticed, we are far from enough to provide comprehensive security to everyone here – at least if you expect us to get some sleep at all. Sometimes I’m not sure that the lords and ladies grasp that fact. After all we can’t just take Longhaul for weeks on end. Hamington has a sleep regulator as well as Fines. And I’m scheduled for one as soon as I can get three days of consecutive leave – which might just be possible now that you are here.
But then just remember: We are here more for representation and maybe catching a bullet before someone else does. The heavy lifting will come from the reinforcements.”
He paused to order his thoughts: “Anyway – if there aren’t any surprise parties going on we usually are on duty until midnight. After that it’s the sensor net, hounds and spirits that take care of security. One of us gets to sleep in the gatehouse, the others up here. Getting up sometime at six or seven, free time until briefing at ten – that’s when the guests usually get active again. After that we are doing our shifts, walking around with a two hour break – preferably at a random time everyday – unless we are needed somewhere. At 2000h we are expected to represent at dinner. After that it’s again rounds and then an early night. So basically 12h shifts like any other job in the service industry – but much better pay and health benefits.”
MemberSeptember 10, 2020 at 5:24 pm
Mato considered this. He hadn’t known that there were going to be rooms for the staff; he thought this was a commuting gig.
“Yes, I suppose that such a secluded environment would result in almost monastic isolation.”
Is Mato a ‘young fit boy’? It’s hard to say. By ork standards, no. Redlining his limbs has helped, and his recent sojourn across Sioux Nation had brought with it some additional muscle mass and even – dare he say it – virility. But the truth is that as an ork aged 25 years, he’d been physically mature for 10 or more years now. And, to be thoroughly transparent with himself, his massive loss of metahumanity had resulted in a severely diminished libido. Not zero, mind you, but more akin to what a senior citizen might expect rather than an ork in his physical prime. His arms and legs look sexy, but they are hardly appealing to the touch. They are cold and hard and not at all comforting unless you’re like Greta, the post-humanist that Mato met at The Hostel back in mid-October.
“Understood,” he says to Brad about the pacing of the day. “Catch a bullet, catch some Zs. That’s the job.”
OrganizerSeptember 10, 2020 at 10:16 pm
“I think I said right at the beginning that my language skills are my strong suit currently? Feel free to use me to deal with guests who are positive that their room is haunted or whatever. Or for translation, I can waltz words around in a few useful languages. “
“But no worries about my motives, I’m not looking to cause harm to anyone. Get paid, get some good references, and hopefully learn a bit, that is honestly my motivations” jawsey tried to keep his aura as open as possible. “Fortunately I don’t think that is in conflict at all with doing this job for you, since getting paid and getting good references both require keeping people safe and satisfied, and keeping you and Cunningham happy. Fair?”
OrganizerSeptember 11, 2020 at 9:16 am
Brad nodded: “Alright. Since you already got your code name, let me fill you in on the rest of the code: I’m Brown, Varis is Violet, Fines is Grey and Hammington is Black. We refer to Pike as Gold, the Duchess as Silver. Guests are Copper. The couriers are Octarine, other staff are Tin.”
Perception test on Mato’s part
The two Chasseurs went outside and found two fully charged Segways to go on rounds.
McElroy smiled: “Alright, let’s beginn with our work then. Start by calling up a spirit – I’ll try assist you, but mainly I’ll be studying your technique. We’ll need to be able to teamwork that at an instant’s notice.”
MemberSeptember 11, 2020 at 12:46 pm
“Are the codes just for the comms?” Mato confirms. “I presume I’m not supposed to call you Mr. Brown in front of the guests.”
Mato wonders what happened to bronze in the sequence. He also wonders what octarine is, as he’s never heard of it.
On the Segways, Mato soaks up the surroundings. Everything is just so wildly different from his personal experience that he finds himself picking out every little detail, from the sights to the sounds to the scents.
Mato grew up privileged… but that was corper privilege. A nice condo, tech toys and a bit of ‘ware, a part-time cook and cleaner. It was not this aristocratic privilege, with sprawling estates and huge retinues. If someone dropped a billion nuyen on him, he would never have thought to spend it this way. The possibility of it wouldn’t even have crossed his imagination.
“How long have you served here, Mr. Brown?” he asks with a bit of a smirk at the code. “Where were you before this?”
MemberSeptember 11, 2020 at 2:46 pm
“Emma” AM comments and then says Home schooling, mainly. I worked as a private detective hacking made the job easier. Erika was very difficult to buy and has plenty of compromises in its design. It is very useful if you respect the limitations and manage the risks wisely. Pointing at the black cat near her leg she says and this is Trouble, my baby. she says fondly.
OrganizerSeptember 12, 2020 at 9:26 am
Brad nods: “Yeah, it’s mainly for comm communications, but of course among us Chasseurs we use them anyways. Just remember not to call anyone important by their callsign to their face.”
As Brad beginns to answer, Mato suddenly is aware of someone hiding behind the bushes to their right – and by his radar sensor it’s not a dear, presumably, because woodland critters seldomly carry long metal objects.
Wesley smiled at the cat: “What a cute little fluffball. But keep her better out of sight. The Wuxing Dragon hates cats.
At that moment van der Bloom sounded in AM’s ear: “Time to earn your keep. Someone wrecked the terminal on the second floor in the private library. I’m getting a lot of error messages. Be discreet though, the Duchess is currently there, reading.”
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