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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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Chapter 3:

Hockey for one

Following two months of combat training, interwoven with a few calls to deal with "blips" - due to time pressures, these had to be resolved by eliminating the blip - the crucible were called into Merc's office. As it was, two of the team were absent - Bill Logan was visiting family and the Driver was AWOL again. With Merc was a "man" wearing a leather jacket, heavy boots, army trousers and bright blue spiked hair.

This was Charlie Schwartz, placed with the crucible due to his experience of violent and confrontational situations. Following the attack on the other crucible by the spectre known as "The Jackal", a partially skeletal 8 foot tall humanoid with a canine head, Orpheus were seriously beefing up their investigating teams.

ST Notes

Another name for this story might have been "conflicts & allies". I know what is coming and the players are going to need allies, and there were plenty of opportunities here to do so. It was also an opportunity to introduce the bad guys.

The crucible were asked to help police with a potential Jason in the city. A source in the Chicago Police Department (CPD) had tipped them off that morning. The crucible accepted the task - especially after a bonus was promised if their actions provided more work for Orpheus - although Charlie was given an ultimatum: he could smarten up with the help of Jerry, or he could project from a distance. Considering the warnings about not projecting near the Jason, and with the bonus on the line, he decided he could pretend to be respectable for one day.

Kudos to all the players, because within a few minutes of the PCs meeting there was this beautifully comical scene in the wardrobe, that only worked because of the character detail created earlier.

So after a quick trip to the Orpheus wardrobe (ending up with smart shoes and trousers, leather jacket and fedora for Charlie), and a read-up on the spectre details as given by Orpheus, the crucible headed out and met the police car that was waiting for them. The journey was not too long, but they did get to know their driver, a cop not of the bright sort who thought they were, to be frank, quite mad.

They were driven to a point near Glen View, where the houses are large and wide, with private gardens, high walls and private security. This is the territory of Chicago's hoi polloi, the rich and the famous. Among the long driveways and high walls there was a throng of police cards, with lights buzzing and the cops in clumps, variously talking ferociously or wielding guns in the general direction of the roads ahead of them. A tall woman with blonde hair tied into a bun seemed to be directing things.

The crucible introduced themselves to Lieutenant Kelly Stewart, the lady in charge of the operation. She was somewhat dismissive of their help, soon passing them over to a junior colleague to "take you to a place where you can observe from safety". Like many members of the public, Ms Stewart was sceptical of these "ghost busters". So was her rising star, Captain Craig Sheen.

Captain Sheen, another politically ambitious member of the force, and again with blonde hair and blue eyes, took them to a driveway off to one side. From there they had a mildly elevated view of the junction where the police were parked, but could not see much further than the streets leading off it. While the welcome was not particularly warm, they did manage to piece together what was happening from what they learned from the various cops they had spoken to.

The police were called earlier in the morning when a cleaner had found the dismembered body of a former Senator's wife. Police investigations quickly found the body of Coach Baines, currently running the Chicago Blackhawks and who owned one of the neighbouring properties. Between then and now the police had been evacuating the area, and searching for the culprit. This phase had gone smoothly and even as the PCs were talking, the patrols were calling the all clear.

"This is 5183 calling in. All clear in this sec.... Hey, it's AJ! Come on AJ, we gotta get you out of here... oh my God... No... no!!! Nooooooooooooooooooooo........"

The huddles of cops went quiet as they heard one of their own dying at the hands of AJ Brodeu, the leading star of Chicago's ice hockey team, the Blackhawks. Few could believe it, most assuming there was a third party involved. Lieutenant Stewart ordered squads to head to that location in groups. Meanwhile the crucible were stuck far away from the action.

Bored with being diplomatic, Charlie found a nearby police car and shot himself full of the drugs needed for him to project himself. Police nearby seemed to ignore this behaviour, even the slightly ruffled Captain Sheen. While Simon and Jerry distracted the captain with questions and with information about Jasons, Charlie headed off after the cops to investigate. What he found was mortifying however. A way down the road, he found what could only be AJ slicing and dicing the last of a few cops. A ghost of one of the fallen police was aiming his gun at AJ, when, seemingly out of nowhere, a tall, lupine-headed figure ripped him apart and consumed him. All the cops dead, AJ walked purposefully off. Charlie did not stay to find out what happened to the Jackal.

Charlie returned to the others, and Captain Sheen saw them talking about Jackals and murders, seemingly to thin air. He pushed the crucible until they told him they had some sort of ghostly information sources. With the information they gave him, he made plans to have a sniper shoot AJ with a very strong ("elephant strength") tranquilliser to knock him out: although Orpheus records indicated that becoming a Jason was a one way street, he did not want to destroy a leading public figure without proof.

It was made apparent a short while later, after some more pointed questions, that Charlie was the "ghostly source". Charlie was persuaded to project himself again and find AJ, while the others would act as translator for Captain Sheen and his squads. As Charlie walked off to patrol the streets, the captain asked a few pertinent questions, seemingly very interested in the power of "spooks".

Eventually Charlie found another pair of dead cops, and nearby evidence of someone scrambling over one of the very high walls. The projector however could pass straight through the wall and into the estate leading up to an imposing if unbeautiful brick building. Reaching the side door to the East wing, he found it broken open but, after his previous experience with the Jackal, he headed back to find help.

The others were organising themselves to go. Captain Sheen was having a quiet word with a group of well-armed men when a helicopter landed in the grounds behind the Simon and Jerry. Opening the gate, they announced themselves as FBI and asked for the person in charge. With as little gusto as possible the crucible directed the agents towards Stuart while the captain ushered them into the same car as Charlie's body. As they drove away, they saw the Lieutenant having strong words with the FBI. She was buying time for the crucible.

As the others parked up a few houses away, waiting for the call, Charlie tried to attract the attention of a group of cops down the road. When gentle hat-flicking did not work, and lots of hat flicking did not work, he seized a hat and took it all the way into the driveway of the attacked house. With many protests, he eventually led the police to the back door where they spotted the break-in. Charlie gave a sigh of relieve while Captain Sheen said "that's our cue" and ordered in his men.

I always wanted to introduce violence in episode 3. The crucible is not a combat group - the last episode proved this - and I do not like too much violence because it slows down the game. However it was important both to test the crucible and the combat system. Crucially I found out how important it was that spectres cannot go immaterial, and made some other rules decisions which needed making.

His men split into two teams of two, one going down, the other up. With their guns up and ready they felt a match for anyone, even the cat who dared to make a noise. Passing by one of the doors, a cop was grabbed and pulled into the room. Following, Charlie found the man being choked slowly by AJ, while his partner shot down the door. Charlie did his best to distract AJ by throwing the books and papers from the shelves, but was not prepared to be jumped on from above by the Jackal. Only a supreme act of will held his gauze enough to be able to get out of the room, and even then seemingly only escaping destruction by passing through a door the Jackal could not.

This was a fantastically lucky dice roll by Charlie's player!

Leaping back to his body, he gasped out his tale to the others, and soon a swarm of police were entering the building, as were the crucible. The corridor was crowded with cops shooting at AJ, although many of their number were already lying bloody on the ground. A well-aimed shot from Charlie allowed a cop to shoot the possessed hockey player at point blank range which finally felled the man. Police performed first aid and the crucible went into the study to investigate whatever AJ had put or taken out of the first cop's mouth. However, they were interrupted by cries of surprise from outside.

The Orpheus books are peculiarly vague about what happens to a Jason when the body is killed. I decided that the spectre emerged - but didn't thing much further than that. Typically, my proactive PCs decided to follow it, in their bodies. Without a better conclusion, I brought in the Reaper, which in hindsight was serious overkill. Still, I was not unhappy with the result (although the PCs probably weren't!).

A hail of gunfire put an end to AJ's resurgence, and a dark, wispy spectre emerged from the body. When it saw the crucible staring, it fled, followed by the crucible. The crucible went on a long chase, behind sheds, over walls, through gardens. A cop accompanied them and waved them through checkpoints. Many miles later, the shadow passed into a secluded, shady nook (one of many in the area kept for er, private meetings). Too late they saw a reaper's scythe, and felt the cold it unleashed on them. Deciding that they had gone too far they retreated and did not see either spectre again.

The cop ordered an ambulance and a short trip to the hospital diagnosed them all with mild hypothermia. While Charlie seemed quite happy to indulge in his health insurance - not least because his experiences had left him quite battered - eventually they returned to Orpheus in the car sent for them. Before they left though, Captain Sheen gave them all his card and asked them all to be in touch.

At the end of every game I made each player roll Bureaucracy, with a difficulty based on how much spin they wanted to put on and if they were making any requests. It has been quite interesting (and nerve racking for the players!) and also led to a decision (see beginning of the next episode).

The crucible gave their verbal report in front of Ilona Darewell, Kate Dennison, Chet Mason as well as Merc. They reported their findings well - the mention of the substance in the mouth drawing particular attention - and were given their bonus. Charlie was repremanded, slightly, for projecting against orders and so was only given the same bonus.

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.