Orpheus logo, link to Orpheus page

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 4:

A downtown nightmare

Still smarting from his run-in with a Reaper, Simon Benson was called into Merc's office. "Simon, we have considered your request for more insurance. We are happy to agree – but there is one condition. Your crucible are about to complete their training, and they are going to need a leader." Simon groaned, but saw the writing on the wall. "Just sign here.…", said Merc as he passed over a new contract.

Merc gave Simon a packet of information on his crucible colleagues, and his first assignment as a leader – to get the crucible together for a briefing that afternoon. This proved somewhat tricky, since Charlie and Jerry were in training all week and the Driver had not been seen around Orpheus for a couple of months. Still at least Bill was there to lend his support. Or at least to be happy that someone else was there to take the blame ("If something bad happens to me, it is your fault, no?"). Meeting in the Orpheus diner, Bill quizzed Simon on why Orpheus personel were congratulating him, leading to a selective description of the run-in with the Jason and other spectres.

That afternoon, the pair were introduced to Nicole Lands, the chief spokeswoman for Orpheus. Bill got off to a good start, asking the lady if he had seen her on 'Big Brother'. "Bill, Simon", said Merc, "Meet your new boss." Following their success over the Jason incident, Nicole has been in negotiation with Lieutenant Kelly Stuart (still not a favourite with the crucible after she dismissed them the previous week). She thinks that Orpheus agents might be suited to helping the police in tricky situations. The crucible will become police liaison officers for Orpheus for a trial period, operating under Nicole.

Their role will be as before – to help the police any way they can, within negotiable guidelines. They were told to be as frank and open as possible – without compromising the reputation of Orpheus. Indeed, part of their role was to continue to promote Orpheus within the police since, as Nicole pointed out, "we are operating in new territory and getting the police on our side is well worth your salaries".

As full Investigative Consultants, the crucible would also be welcome to take work from other operations managers (or handlers), but the police work would always take priority. To conclude the meeting, Merc requested that the crucible give themselves a proper name to avoid being called "Merc's crucible", and then gave them all a pay rise.

That evening, Bill and Simon went out to celebrate, and phoned Craig Sheen to see if he wanted to join them. They went down the Night Bird – the dirtier of the two clubs frequented by AJ Brodeu where they had a drink, talked about sport and pointed out the various Pigment dealers. As it turned out, AJ had been to the other club the night before he was possessed, had taken a rather large dose of Pigment and gone home in a taxi, without a girl.

The next few weeks went by rather quickly. The first week was a lot of introductions and observation, followed by helping in various cases – finding survivors in a fire (successful), sitting in on interviews (not much help), talking to the ghosts of the suspiciously dead (except they had no ghosts, but at least two of the crucible were used to grizzly dead bodies) and scouting to find evidence before the police raided houses.

Then came the raid on Andres Prochaska, a heroin and Pigment supplier. Four vans of armed police were parked half a block away from the warehouse where Andres cut his gear. Round the corner in an unmarked car were two narcotics detectives – Massey and Garcia – with Bill and Simon in the back.

Bill still was not used to escaping his body outside the controlled enviroment of the medical bay, but eventually he drowned out the smoke of the cops and the smell of body odour and climbed out of the door opened by Simon. The warehouse was only the height of a few stories. Passing through the front door, he found a working, if unkempt, storage area, with boxes piled high. On the left hand side he found a small hut where a fat man was watching TV. A quick glance showed that he was indulging in his American right to own a firearm, with a pistol and shotgun handy.

Above the cranes and boxes was a small gallery around the edge of the building. Unable to see anything much in the darkness, Bill climbed nimbly up the ladder. He couldn't see anything there, but there was still that small nagging feeling that somebody could be hiding. But why?

Aware that he only had ten minutes, Bill headed downstairs, finding a steel door ajar. Slipping through the solid metal, almost as if it was not there, he found himself in a dimly lit basement. Down the middle was a row of eight illegal immigrant workers, earning their keep by cutting pigment. Behind them, three men – clearly not immigrants – checked on their progress, moved the finished products along and beat the workers as they felt like. And behind them were four goons with semiautomatics just in case.

Bill passed unseen amongst them, slipping through a wooden door at the end, seeing… a man on the john. His faced matched the photo they were shown earlier, Andres Prochaska. Darting back out, Bill passed through the other door at the back of the room, a steel one. The space beyond was dark, only the slivers of light slipping around the frame confirming that there was an empty space. Bill decided to investigate further and partially manifested, padding around until he found the light switch. The new light showed a corridor leading down around the corner. Thinking quickly, Bill bolted the door from the inside. That would stop them escaping!

Dematerialising, Bill passed unseen through the room of people and back up the stairs. He arrived at the car only slightly after ten minutes and reported his findings. The detectives radioed updated orders down the radio then it was Go! Go! Go! While the police vans sped up and emptied their occupants into the warehouse, the detectives drove their passengers around to the front of the building so they could see what was happening. Bill however just returned to the warehouse to watch the action up close.

Passing by the fat "security guard" (which thief in his right mind would steal from the mob?) – lying spreadeagled on the ground, his guns untouched – Bill passed down the stairs and into the basement. He was most perplexed however to see Prochaska rub his nose, sniff and stare straight at him. In a few moments, the pusher had whipped out his phone, put it away and pulled it out again. In his alarm, the spook tried to his first possession under pressure and it showed how inexperienced he was as it only took hold for a brief second.

He tried again, putting all his effort into it, and suceeded much better this time. With his crew looking on in horror, Andres Prochaska threw away his phone and lay face down in front of the incoming police. The goons and Andres's lieutenants were not having any of it though and between them laid covering fire down at the police and forced the immigrants into the line of police fire.

With the poor immigrants blocking the police, one of the lieutenants whipped out his phone, and spoke to an unknown partner: "There are spooks here. Find their bodies." The immigrants were taking a lot of fire, so to speed up the process, Bill seized the body of one of the goons and shot another in the back at point blank with a semiautomatic. His foe stood no chance and lay quivering on the floor as he bled out. As the puppeteer was recovering from killing someone, he felt a sharp pain on his head and heard the bullet whistle past. Whirling around he managed to deflect Andres once, but Andres detirmindly recovered and shot the goon's body in the thigh, sending him clattering to the ground with an artery severed. Bill escaped the body in time to see Andres finish him with a shot to the head, and fled the room as the police broke through the immigrants and tackled the last gunmen.

Outside, Simon was sitting nervously with the detectives, listening to the radio. The charge of the immigrants was reported, but shortly afterwards there was a thump on the roof, followed by the tinkle of glass as a window broke. "Drive!" shouted Simon, but the detectives instead looked out the window, spotted a shooter on the roof and slipped behind the car to start shooting at him. With no other options, Simon rolled Bills body into the cavity behind the front seats and lay down on top of him, thanking the Lord that they were wearing flak jackets.

The firing continued for seemingly eternity until Detective Massey yelled "Rocket launcher!". In near panick, Simon climbed out of the car and started dragging Bill's heavy body out. But fate smiled and Bill hurled himself back into his body in time for all four to run round the corner before the vehicle exploded. The police were virtually out of ammo, so Simon daringly ran across to the opposite building and started climbing the fire escape. But the locals were not finished with the spooks yet.

From his vantage, Simon yelled a warning to the cops and Bill about the car speeding their way. While it may have saved his colleagues, it also gave away his position. As he waited, a gunman with a police rifle rounded the corner. In perfect syncronisity, the two shot each other in the chest at the same time.

Meanwhile, Bill dived into an extremely dark nearby alley to avoid the oncoming car. But alleyways in this part of town are not inhabited by nice people, and in fact three wastrals grabbed him and wrestled him to the ground. Despite his training, he was no match for three opponents and before long they were rifling through his wallet and other posessions. The crunch time was when one pulled out a switchblade, glittering darkly in the poor light.

Bill used every scrap of his Orpheus training on leaving his body – no time for regretting how little attention he paid. Indeed, the wastrals were so intent on explaining how nasty they were, by the time they came to cut Bill, his body was dead. Pushed beyond his tolerance, by death and fear, Bill drew on his Spite, bringing out his Stains, the bad parts of him. Drawing on his little used power, one he didn't really understand, his manifestation in front of the wastrals was not what he bargained before – but it more than did the trick, and the villains fled as fast as their legs would carry them.

Up on the fire escape, Simon had pulled himself under some cover while he recovered from the blast. Luckily his flak jacket had taken virtually all of the damage – his opponent had not been so lucky, falling over backwards on the steps. The second man – there had definitely been two voices – was being more careful than his colleague, but then a hideous howl echoed from an alleyway below. The man fled back onto the roof and away.

Back on the ground, Bill claimed ignorance about the howl on the basis he had been unconscious. He remained adamant about this throughout the enquiry. However, the police had caught one of the men from the alley (as well as three from the car, which had ended up smacked into a wall, smoking from its bonnett), and offered to let the spooks watch. The man admitted everything, then explained, piece by piece, about a huge, nightmarish horse, with giant, barbed bat wings and the head of a hideous bird with an enormous sharp beak. Bill couldn't help thinking, "Surely that is some exaggeration..?"

As team leader, Simon wrote up the report, including a request from Bill for better health care. He did have a very convincing case and he was given a basic health care package. Both crucible members were also encouraged to see a therapist, and after so much death they accepted.

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.