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Shadow of the Windy City

a chronicle of Orpheus


> Episode 1:
A cry in the dark

> Episode 2:
Real men

> Episode 3:
Hockey for one

> Episode 4:
A downtown nightmare

> Episode 5:
Rebel without a clue


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> White Wolf's Orpheus page


> Chiller font

Chapter 2:

Corporate Chess

Simon Benson		-	M
David, "The Driver"	-	D
Bill Logan		-	B
Jerry Wozniak		-	R

[D was missing so David’s actions played out in the background]

[R missed the first episode, so I used the corporate and episodic nature of the game to bring him in; the lack of training also fits with R’s lack of knowledge of Orpheus (too busy to read up on it).]

The crucible were called into Merc’s office, where they found not only their handler, but another man already sitting. "This is Jerry Wozniak. He is the fourth member of your crucible. He was not here for your training due to illness, but he has been given a crash course."

"Are you alive?", asked Bill. "Do you sleep or skim?", asked Simon.

Merc waited a bit longer as the conversation continued, then headed quietly to his office door, "I will leave you to talk." All his papers were secure in his desk, so he headed over to have a coffee with his Madonna.

The next few days were set aside for further training in using in benefits – which of course Jerry could not truly participate in – and general corporate team building exercises, which tested the patience of the self-sufficient Jerry to the limits, not to mention the rest of the team. The Merc called them back to his office for a briefing.

"Those of you who follow local politics will be aware that the mayoral elections are coming up soon. The current mayor – Rocky McGee – has called in the FBI to protect his house and his person. He has also employed Orpheus. You will share the assignment with Miss Rodriguez’s crucible, in 18 hour shifts. There are some important notes on the assignment: you are not to enter the house, except to follow up leads; and you are not to let the FBI know of your presence.

"There may be nothing going on, but you are to report any incidents back to Orpheus immediately; that is to myself, Miss Rodriguez or Ilona Darewell. At the end of every shift, the crucible will make a written report."

As always operational questions followed. In this case transport – an unmarked white van – was upgraded to a white van with a pool cleaner’s logo (the mayor’s residence being in the wealthy lakeside area). There were also some questions on what they were looking for, to which the answer was fairly vague, and even contained references to "learning the operating procedure of the FBI". It was made very clear that Orpheus sought ongoing business with the mayor. With the file in hand the crucible left to make preparations before they started at 18:00 the next day.

Simon walked up to the FBI van. Nothing much was different: the FBI clearly had phone taps and cameras inside the mayor’s house, and bored as they were spent as much time having fun at the occupants expense as they did looking out for the mayor’s welfare. One smartass was making "imitations" of the mayor’s PA – an attractive young woman whose affair with her employer was an open secret among the mayor’s circle. Shaking his head in despair, the former policeman left them to it. None of the FBI or their gadgets noticed the projector in their midst.

Back in the van, parked in a small copse of trees a few blocks away, out of sight of the cameras and private security patrols that protected the fenced off residences of Chicago’s elite, sat Jerry and Bill. As a skimmer, Bill could not able to project for any length of time, certainly not enough to patrol, and was faced with living in the cold empty van for 18 hours at a time. However after several days of little more to do than stare at white walls, he was improving his projection speed. When he started it took up to ten minutes and a large headache to leave his body. Now it was down to three minutes, although he still had to inject himself with whatever drugs they gave him.

If Bill had it bad, Jerry had it worse. Orpheus had given him some exercises to help him project, but without sleeper pods they were not much use. Bill was focussed on his own exercises and Simon and "The Driver" were out somewhere. However he did have experience of boredom from his years as a field journalist. He slept when he could and spent the rest of the time filling in his tax return and the report that Orpheus wanted from them.

While the rest of the team went home or down the bars, Simon had little choice but to return to Orpheus. As he passed the post lockers, he saw his name sticking out on an envelope. Willing his body to manifest fully, he opened the letter. "Simon, Long time no see. Ring me, Bill Simpson." Bill was an old colleague from the force, a sergeant but a good one.

"Bill Simpson"
"Hi Bill, it’s Simon."
"Simon! How are you doing? Thanks for returning my call."
"Great… well, ok."
"Yeah, hmmm. Are you still working for those Orpheus people? I was wondering if you could do me a favour…"

An hour later, Simon, Bill and Jerry were standing outside an apartment block about twelve stories high. The voice on the phone had been decidedly unfriendly, aggressive even. If they were not so completely bored with their true assignment they might not have gone. Minutes went by as they debated who would go first. Simon had spoken on the phone, but his body was still in the sleeper cradles half a city away. In the end, the former reporter took the plunge, using his press pass as a makeshift identity badge.

"What d’ya want?"
"We have come about the ghost problem."
"’Bout time. You official? Let’s see your ID".

After setting a few houserules, Piety Fernandez, the caretaker, showed the trio to the hallway. The building was based around an oval neo-art deco style staircase that wrapped itself round the centre of the building, with a passage to the left leading to the single wing. A lift sat at the far end of the hall, with another in the wing, both leading to each of the floors, each containing a dozen apartments. "Something keeps moving things. Then it chucked a desk right down here. Almost took my head off. A vase too. Let me know when you leave, don’t disturb the residents and make sure you get rid of this thing. Now I have things to do."

Moving towards the lift, the trio were very conscious of the stairwell directly above them. Travelling to the eleventh floor – then the tenth, ninth and eighth – it is very clear that something has been pushing objects around, and someone else carefully putting them back. The whole setup – odd tables, desks and bookcases scattered around – is bizarre, and it would seem that the owner uses the spare floorspace to house unwanted furniture. With no leads however, Simon elects to stay – after all what else has he to do.

As midnight approached, the former cop noticed a presence on the eleventh floor. Moving downstairs he saw a skinhead in jeans and t-shirt leaning on the railings overlooking the stairwell. He appeared deep in thought, and occasionally moved his hands as if touching something. Reaching out with his senses the spook could feel the low but keen presence that made the man a drone. Something was keeping him here, but he was not revealing what.

After an hour of waiting for the drone to think, Simon sat back to watch. His patience paid off as his mark finally formed his idea, and triumphantly went down the stairs to the ninth floor, pushing a bookcase from one corner to near the top of the stairs, where he triumphantly throws a small statue down to the ground floor. Finally, the drone walked back to a shadowy alcove on the eleventh floor.

Feeling rather weak from his exertions, Simon made his way back to the rendezvous for the next day. Bill however was fully rested and after repeating his meditation, sent his huge reserves of vitality to Simon. Feeling rather weak himself, he returned to his body, for another night of tedium. Meanwhile, Jerry had a rather better night ahead of him, calling on his police contacts to try and trace the individual. But at the end of the shift all he could say was that nobody of the drone’s description had died locally, nor had ever lived in the building. That information cost him a favour down the line, but it did relieve the tedium.

Sleeping on the job, the crucible returned to the haunted apartments, using the ghostly Simon to break in so they could avoid Ms Fernandez. Already having concluded that the ghost’s routine was something to do with chess, they spent an hour or so deciding how the furniture equated to chess pieces until they realised that it was completely random. Putting a chessboard in front of the ghost was the first thing that changed his reactions. Unfortunately when it lost the game, it through the chess set over the banister and down the stairwell in a fit of rage, before retiring back to dark corner of the eleventh floor. Frustrated, the crucible went to let themselves out of the building.

They did however meet a resident on the way down. Dressed to the nines, she explained about the strange people in the building. However, none of them seemed strange enough to want to pursue any leads, although there was one man who talked to himself who they thought they could maybe follow up later.

Finally, the crucible resolved to try one more game of chess with the ghost, but if it did not work they would have to kill it. So they broke in once more the following night, waited for the ghost to appear and brought out the chessboard. But despite trying to lose, it was virtually impossible and when the crucible just tried to make self-defeating moves, the ghost got annoyed and threw the chessboard. So while Simon guarded the ghost’s refuge, Jerry fought him over Jerry’s gun and Bill beat him to death with nearby implements. It was slightly bizarre since both Bill and Jerry were in their bodies and passed straight through their foe, yet each pass ripped through its gauze and before long it was gone.

Returning to Orpheus before their shift at the mayor’s estate, they were summoned urgently to Merc’s office. He was in the office with Amy Bergseth, from "Madonna" Rodriguez’s team, and she was looking very distressed. As was explained, her team had been attacked by a spectre, leaving Mac and Sutor wounded, and Deek in shock. The mission was immediately cancelled and the team scheduled for extra combat training. The team had really only just returned and given basic debriefing – more details were to follow.

The above events are a work of fiction, as are all characters used. Any resemblance to real people is pure luck.
Orpheus and the Orpheus logo is a © of White Wolf. This chronicle makes use of the concepts and terms provided by this series of books and does not challenge the White Wolf's copyright.