The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice Session XLIIII – Ceiling Cat Says “A pox upon your Sidereal ways!”

ruki

Well, maybe

 

In which we catch up with – or encounter – one of the other characters again.

Ruki was used to waking up with a headache, no idea of where she’d been or what she’d been doing for the last few days, and with the place a bit trashed – but usually she felt a lot more hung-over and a lot less… energized and weird! There were places where she felt… numb, and others where she felt like she’d… swallowed a bolt of lightning. Worse, it looked like she’d managed to find some sort of underground pit to fall asleep in…

And when she hammered her fist on a concrete lump to try and clear up the tingling, it went right though it. Had she been working out while drunk or something? Hell, while she had a syndicate job to perform? Damn, she’d better not be late on that, or she’d be in some deep shit!

Things continued to get worse as she climbed out. She emerged in the middle of a warehouse, where two groups were starting a firefight in the middle of a warehouse full of some sort of super accelerant agent for fires and explosives.

That did NOT go well – except from the viewpoint of bare survival. She ran off one courier-type and some of his friends, and got away with a bagful of the stuff – might as well make SOME kind of profit – but if her hometown hadn’t been pretty close to hell on earth already she’d have been in deep trouble! The injuries were bad enough already. She wasn’t at all sure how she’d survived that blast…

A quick visit to a doctor friend of hers cleared up at least part of the mystery; somehow she’d acquired subdermal armor and some other cybrenetics – enough to be a complete mystery, but not enough to stand up to the Warehouse’s syndicate owners.

What the hell had she been DOING?!?! There were stories about that kind of stuff, but only in DEEP black-market operations and secret military projects! At least it should make it easier to do her job… She had to catch up with that bedamned courier and arrange to alter the package he was carrying – which meant a trip to Japan now that he was off the island – an dit might be a good idea to stay there for a bit afterwards…

Ruki was wrong. Cyberware was, in fact, an urban legend; the technology simply wasn’t available save in Autochthonia and from a few Exalts – all of whom used some magic in the mix. Ruki was in fact a Sidereal Ronin who’d undergone Autochthonian Alchemical Hybridization to allow her to take Alchemical Charms – a bizarre combination so unlikely that it was allowed only to satisfy the players fascination with anime-inspired cyborg martial artists. Still, this is Exalted. Very, VERY, little is so bizarre in a RPG that a player  and game master can’t find some way to justify it for a character – usually with a lot of plot hooks included. 

Unfortunately, in Japan, she ran into a selection of other mysterious types (such as Maella, a Nocturnal who was working with Ms Rosa Cress – to whom she sold her Garda powder), some gangers who’d gotten too big for their britches to be leaned on thanks to some really strange gear they’d gotten somewhere, and a selection of thugs with truly WEIRD powers.

Of course that led to her both finding out more about her OWN powers (What in the thousand hells had she stumbled into? What kind of implant could let her do things like THAT?) and into conning a shopkeeper out of the only switchblade katana she’d ever seen… She had no idea of how it worked, or how the blade folded up, or of why no one else had been able to open it – but DAMN that thing was handy!

She headed back home to try to find out – and ran into some sort of shapeshifting chimerical horror along the way, which ate a lot of the other people on board before she could chase it away! Since when had she stumbled into some sort of Anime? Life had never been like this before!

Another mysterious figure promised her more information if she’d look into another facility – which turned out to be devoted to grinding expensive electronics into fine dust that was then bagged up and stored away with great care!

More insanity. Still, the woman who’d hired her for that little job did tell her a few things – and pointed her to China and to a possible companion-blade for the blade she already had.

Well, it WOULD be sort of cool to have twin switch-katanas!

Unfortunately, that simple trip to an old temple in Northwestern China led to a battle with another freakish opponent (a tiger-totem Full Moon Lunar using Tiger Style). The fellow seemed to be very unhappy about the temple’s current occupants, and thought that Ruki was there to ally with them – which soon became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The occupants of the manse were, in fact, a group of Chinese and Russian “Starbreakers” – Dragon-Blooded Sidereal Hunters) – who (thanks to her fighting their attacker) mistook Ruki for an ally of theirs. Ruki managed (thanks to a lot of successful stunts) to push her shapeshifting opponent into retreating into a tiny form and flying away without QUITE flaring her anima (another bit which left her flabbergasted; what kind of implant could let you transform yourself that way?) – but was then distracted by finding out that she was now in a locked-down fortification with a bunch of guys with weird elemental powers who would apparently want to kill her if they discovered what kind of abilities she possessed.

Sadly, pinching herself to wake up did not work. Cyberware was bad enough, but a lot of this stuff seemed to be outright magic! Dammit! She needed more information, and – in retrospect – should have asked one HECK of a lot more questions before haring off on this weird chase! Had she been played? She’d never been much for groups, but it would be nice to have someone to call on for a little backup!

Ms. Cress had, of course, reported her encounter with a strangely-warped Ronin – but the Convention on Autochthonia had promptly mired itself in debate as to what to do about her. They certainly couldn’t place any trust in the Alchemicals! And for a Sidereal to be a hybrid with one, and to have thus placed herself outside of fate… that was inconceivable!

Sadly – or perhaps fortunately – for Ruki, between the Nocturnals and Charles, the Sidereals were pretty badly distracted anyway. One Sidereal gone weird was just one more thing on their plate – and not even a priority at the moment. They weren’t falling asleep on their feet in Bureau of Destiny quite yet – but it had gotten to that point in the past, and it looked like another such period was fast approaching. General stress and not sleeping took longer to catch up with an Exalt than with a human – but it happened eventually, and a lot of the younger ones didn’t recognize the warning signs.

Ruki managed to convince the “Starbreakers” that she was an Alchemical ally – but that still left her trapped in a manse with a bunch of quasi-retired semi-supernatural military officers, all with lots of old war stories and pictures of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren and – in some cases – several more generations of grandchildren – that they were eager to show her.

Elsewhere Wallet: Artifact-0 (Thaumaturgic Talisman), Attunement 0 Motes (but some hours) and Cost ***.

Elsewhere Wallets can hold ten times the amount of pictures, cash, cards, and other rubbish as can be crammed into a normal wallet while still being slim and trim. As a bonus, they’re also waterproof, fire resistant, impose a 2d external penalty on pickpockets, and have a couple of small compartments – suitable for credit cards, KGB ID cards, or whatever – that only an attuned user can find or open.

More advanced versions exist:

At Artifact (*) they have an attunement cost of one mote and can only be opened by an attuned user or by someone that he or she wishes to do so and have a compartment which will always prove to contain some small, inexpensive, item specific to the user. One owner might always find his or her car and house keys there, another might always find a couple of cigarettes and a lighter, and yet another might always have post-it notes to hand.

At (**) they have an attunement cost of two motes and vanish into elsewhere when not in use. More importantly, only that subset of the contents that is currently convenient for the user will appear inside when they’re opened. Thus, if you’re currently carrying identity papers for three different warring realms, and present a patrol leader with your wallet, only those papers most convenient for your purposes will appear within – and you don’t have to know which ones those are.

At (***) they have an attunement cost of two mores and allow the user to spend three motes to instantly produce any wallet-sized mundane document the user desires (Investigation DC 6 to spot something wrong with the document itself). This does not, however, provide supporting evidence elsewhere; you may be carrying a valid-looking license, but there will be no record of it having been issued.

Ruki was initially impressed by the Russian “Air Aspect” who had managed to survive World War I, the Revolution, World War II, the Finnish conflicts, the purges, and the Cold War. He was the last of his brothers left – and still looked no older than Ruki did. His ability to adapt was most formidable – as was his ability to remember names, birthdays, descriptions, and other details about a couple of hundred grandchildren and other young relatives.

After hearing about the seventy-third Ruki was beginning to wonder if this was in fact a tactic designed to turn her into some maddened monstrosity (perhaps a “Fallen Zodiac”?) She was about ready to confess to being whatever-it-was they were hunting just to get them to shut up… Trying to take on the entire lot of them – even if they were an experienced team who knew exactly how to fight any “Insidious” who had happened to infiltrate – was looking better and better!

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