Back in Tokyo, Ranko came up against both Immigration and Animal Control – and in the midst of the confusion, tried calling her husband to explain. He got irritated at the animal control people and – in the confusion – gave one of them The Obsidian Claw, transformed them both into wolves, and sent them to the local zoo. The Immigration people decided to just fill out the relevant forms, leaving Ranko racing off to the zoo to confront The Obsidian Paw – the bizarre result of the Claw interacting with the transformation spell. Unfortunately, this left her buried under a mound of rubble while the rest of the Mandate came to the rescue and The Obsidian Paw kidnapped her son… The ensuing battle wound up at Animal Control, where there were several vaccinations before the Mandate managed to get The Obsidian Claw away from its unfortunate wearer. All in all, the Isacora fan club got a big boost.
The Obsidian Claw is actually the severed hand of Karnatzilith, an aztec demigod, and is still sought by that entity (Hunted 8-, a factor which takes 10 points off the cost of the Claw). It is capable of absorbing various energies, channeling them into the user to enhance him or her, or simply unleashing them again in destructive blasts. The “special effects” depend on the kind of energy that’s been absorbed. Note that if the user expends all eight charges without using the Drain effect to renew them, the Claw will become inert for 24 hours.
Multipower (90-pt reserve): OIF (Obsidian Guantlet, -.5), Side Effects (9d6 Mind Control: Keep using Gauntlet, -.5), Independent (-2), 8 Recoverable Charges (drain power from a major energy source to recover, -0), Full Power Only (-.25), 14- Activation (-.5), Full Phase to Use (-.5), Gestures (-.25), Incantation (-.25), Visible (radiates blood magic, -.25). Net cost: 12 points.
u-1 6d6 Killing Attack (RKA); Range: 450
u-1 Hand-to-Hand Attack (20d6, Total 22d6); Range: 0
u-1 18d6 Energy Blast; Range: 450; Versus: Appropriate Defense.
u-1 6d6 Energy Blast; Range: 450; No Normal Defense (Depends on absorbed energy type): +1; Area Effect (Radius): 6″ radius, +1
u-1 3d6 Aid: To all physical attributes (+2), (Fade/day, Max. 30); Range: 0
u-1 Force Field (15 PD/15 ED); Reduced END: Zero, +½; Uncontrolled (shut down by the passage of one hour, exposure to forces counter to whatever it’s absorbed): +½; Invisible: To All Senses, +1
u-1 6d6 Drain: Energy Sources (Recharges Slots) (Return/min.); Range: 0; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼
Unfortunately, the fight with The Obsidian Paw turned out to be simply a warm-up. The lunatic necromancer from the Isthmus of Panama had turned up in China, casually hammered most of China’s official heroes (mostly martial-artist types and physical powers) into the ground, and was busy shoving souls into the old terra cotta warriors/unfinished golem army at the imperial tombs to go forth and kill millions… He casually hammered Ranko into a near-death experience with her husband and flattened a couple of the others, but hey managed to disrupt his ritual enough to send him back into the outer darkness. Unfortunately, that was a stopgap at best. Ranko decided to go looking for more protection: she was tired of being nearly killed when a hit landed.
Back at the Orphanage, Laurel Karnwell, Arthur’s (one of the horse-boys) mother had turned up with an attorney. She didn’t know how she’d been coerced into signing her son into a vaguely defined “program for incorrigible delinquents”, but she was damned sure that she’d been forced somehow – and she wanted him back right now.
The Chauffeur decided to be more or less truthful: he explained something of the circumstances, the powers he’d been given, the terms of the curse, and that – while he could transfer the bond – that would leave the boy permanently dependent on her: they hadn’t found a way to break it yet. The Attorney noted the difficulties in suing gods, and the upshot was that she’d accept the situation for the moment, pending more research, curse removal, and on the condition of seeing him regularly.
Meanwhile, “Satan” had returned from lunch, started planning architectural upgrades to Satan Square Gardens, endorsed french fries and the Big Mac, and was now being besieged by lawyers who wanted him to either stop endorsing things or to continue endorsing the competition… Satan wound up endorsing hamburgers in general, as well as fast food in general and advising that he would consult the Oracle – her name was “google” and she never saw people directly.
The Hauntsman was checking on how Angels, Demons, and Fey – such as himself – acquired souls. It seemed that they were created from the energies of light or darkness by popular belief, but that souls could incarnate in them if they were sufficiently pure (for angels) or were either corrupt enough or magically bound into them (for demons). If that happened, they became unique, stable, individuals. He’d acquired a soul 1820 years ago – but Lahatiel was freshly summoned, and didn’t have one. Would it be right to try and get him one? He could always hang around hospitals and such.
At least they had a plan ready for the Darkmage. Next time he unsealed a nexus, they’d just all jump him.
After a little additional thought, they decided to take more people along. They got in touch with the Thunderbolts, the Protectors, the Guardians, the Nephelim, the Knights of Avalon, and the Night Watch as well as the Villain groups (after all, there was an immense reward) the Conquerers and the Avatars. The Chauffeur would run pickup, and they’d split the reward (it was mostly the Villains who were interested in that, but the heroes didn’t want them to get that much cash) with whoever showed up and helped out. The Hauntsman claimed the Obsidian Claw and had Lahatiel charge it with holy magic, while Satan attempted to Trademark all things of darkness and evil, in preparation for an infringement lawsuit. They decided not to ask the Death God to stand guard in the orphanage, but Ranko did visit the Dragon Circle to ask for some assistance – and wound up being given temporary custody of Baen in horse-form. Unfortunately, “Satan” used his summoning power to get a contingent of assorted demons on standby. After all, the earthly demons didn’t get along with the extradimensional ones… He did have to agre to pay on the installment plan however.
As an afterthought, he also set up “Satan’s Law Library”.
They also realized that Isacora was the anchor that let the Death God manifest on Earth – and that riding with the Chauffeur and a couple of werewolves was probably the safest place for him. If the Chauffeur simply stayed well back, they could try to call on his assistance in the battle. They left Mr Smith in charge of the Orphanage.
With everything ready – and the next move up to the Darkmage – the Hauntsman decided to head into the upper planes in search of a soul for Lahatiel, no matter that he was incapable of understanding that he didn’t have one.
The got the Bishop of New York’s permission to set up in one of the city cathedrals and began the ritual of the ascending gate. With four mystical superheroes, an angel, a dragon, the bishop, and a contingent of priests to hold the earthly end of the gateway, they managed to maintain the Hauntsman’s body, stabilize the soulbond, hold back the Maud’Rhole (using Satan’s newly-acquired “Legal Blast” and Rankos Celestial Sword), while the Hauntsman accepted his death and traveled onwards. They held barriers against the Quilopothic Devourers while the Hauntsman passed the Lost Sephiroth and opened the gates of Creation – and grounded out the power-flood from that. “Satan” concluded in the face of that flood of power that working in mere Stone was too perishable: perhaps he needed to be working in the stuff of souls…
The Hauntsman managed to reject the siren song of the infinite – in part due to the Bishops guilt-tripping oratory – and the group managed to warn the Hauntsman against returning without discharging the excess power that would have destroyed the galaxy (at the least), and obtained a soul… The Bishop was quite interested: there’d only been about a 10% chance that the Hauntsman would manage to return. A journey to the higher planes was almost invariably fatal.
Then it was time to get to court for the werewolf hearings, which were eventually passed on to a higher court for review.
More detail on the hearings later: I’m out of time right now.