A Malevolent Apparatus

Of Wolf and... Tentacles

(Placeholder. The AST gains a new member, then takes down the cult that was trying to kill Specs and Hans)

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AST in trouble

(Placeholder. The “Tortoise and Hair” enter the picture, we find out about “The Catalyst”)

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Jewel Heist

(This is a placeholder. The AST attempted, and failed, to steal (back) a jewel from a high-end apartment. 1 session)

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Rescue Pol!

(This is a placeholder. We travelled to another city and rescued Pol. 2 game sessions)

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Abu and the Headdress

Mission 24:

At the start of the previous mission, Claire heard from Dobby the goblin that his brother, Abu, had gone missing. Abu was working with a “movie” crew — movies were a brand-new concept, another unique Exelican mix of technology and Arcana. Abu’s crew was on location outside of Exelica.

First, the AST went to the house of the movie producer. There were many protestors in front of his house; the Exelica actor’s guild was protesting movies as a concept that would put them out of business. After the door was opened and the protestors rushed in, they were detained by the AST until they could be arrested by the police (the AST would prefer to leave the details of how this all transpired as fuzzy as possible). The protestors removed, the AST got to talk to the movie producer, and learned the movie crew was filming a few days north, near an orc reservation. The producer was much less concerned with the crew than recovering the equipment and anything the crew had filmed.

At the north gate of Exelica, the AST was able to rent a couple of horses and a carriage for the journey, while Zap narrowly avoided a run-in with a couple of goons hired by the Red Guard merchant company. The journey north was exhausting to a couple members, and they were desperately in need of a good bed to catch up on sleep. However, when they reached their destination (at midday), it was clear there was no inn to be had. They went to see the sheriff. The sheriff had the film crew (sans Abu) in custody; he told the AST how Abu had stolen the Chieftain’s headdress, then escaped before being captured. Next, the AST went to talk to the chieftain. Zap was disguised as a half-orc, and tried to appeal to the chieftain’s orc heritage to earn his trust. The result was an arm-wrestling match between a burly orc and 13-year-old Hans; Hans won, and the AST received food and boarding from the Chieftain himself.

The next morning, the AST went about finding Abu. There was plenty of evidence that he was close, and goblin tracks were found. These tracks let to an old Ioun temple, which was crawling with feral goblins. Upon mentioning Abu’s name, the AST was invited inside, where they found Abu on big statue/ makeshift throne, wearning the chieftain’s headdress. After some attempts at negotiation, things went downhill, Abu used the goblin stutter ability to disappear into the timestream, and the AST had to flee. Zap was able to teleport into a hiding place under the throne. Then it was just a waiting game for Abu to reenter the timestream. Once he did, Zap grabbed the headdress and teleported to AST headquarters. By the time the rest of the party rode back to the chieftain’s house, Zap teleported back to the carriage and was ready to meet them.

The chief got his headdress back, the AST received possession of the film equipment (but not the crew), and Abu, the “king” of the goblins for a few days, was left in a precarious situation when his claim to leadership bampfed away.

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They, Robot

Mission 23:

It has been some months. Business had been slow but steady for the AST. Specs had been working with the military, and Stavian ran the AST. Delic had not been seen in awhile, nor had Damien or Scratch. There were some new faces. Ullern (“Zap”) was their employer for mission 11; there were some unsavory-types out to kill him, and he needed to lie low. Franco had been hired after another mission.

On this day, their client was an upper-middleclass gentleman. He had purchased a servant robot, and now that robot had disappeared, along with his fine tea set. They were to be recovered. Specs, Stavian, Claire, Zap, and Franco arrived at the apartment building, only to find many other tenants with missing items (and robots). Further investigation led them to the showroom (“Babbages”) where the robots were sold, to the manufacturer, then to a warehouse. In the warehouse, the robots were being “decommissioned” by a bunch of thugs; the AST disrupted their activities and had the leader arrested. It was revealed that the thug leader was destroying the robots on behalf of the manufacturer, who was aware of a problem with the robots but didn’t want the word getting out to the public. They also found another robot, badly damaged, that was slowly dragging itself to another location. They let this robot go so they could follow it later.

Shortly afterward, the AST headed over to the Opera house, where they found two robots had gone haywire and into a killing spree. They disabled one of the robots, and the other make its escape across the rooftops. That robot jumped down to street level, where it was captured and stuffed into a carriage. Zap teleported onto the carriage to follow it; it went to the manufacturer.

The AST then picked up the trail of the damaged robot. It went into the slums and into a run-down apartment building. When the AST went inside, they found a room with a visualization apparatus (a sort of half-arcane half-mechanica “virtual reality” that people typically used to enhance their drug high). Stavian bravely hooked in, and saw a robot in the VR. It was later determined the apartment owner was a former Babbage’s employee, and the VR machine was aiding him in reprogramming the robots in order to give them a bad name.

The tea set was recovered, and the knowledge of the malfunctioning robots was passed along to the police, greatly setting back any plans for the manufacturer to introduce a “police” bot.

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Blood Pool, part 2
Job 006.2

Morning News

Korolev phoned the All Star Troubleshooters first thing in the morning. He wanted a face-to-face meeting with Specs.

On their way to the Pegasus Hangar, they spy a news sheet, proclaiming the murder of Colonel Wernher von Braun had been solved. The paper proclaimed that the Agathonian refugee died in a fire last night while attempting to murder the lead investigator. The cover up was being set in place.

Be The Second

Korolev was impressed with Specs ability to quickly identify and solve a problem that had eluded the engineers who were previously on the project, so he offered Specs the position as The Second on the Pegasus Project. Through some eavesdropping on Hans’ part, it became clear that Korolev was instructed to offer Specs the position in order to keep him occupied with the project, rather than the investigation. Specs accepted the offer. It was a full-time position and he would no longer be able to run the AST. Hans managed to worm his way in as Specs’ assistant.

Glass Meadow

That night, Hans tailed Korolev all the way to Snow Court, the district where many of Exelica’s eladrin make their home. Snow Court is an upper class district, high on Mending Hill’s west side. Public features of Snow Court are the Hall of Records, Sominir Opera House, and The Glass Meadow Botanical Garden.

Korolev entered Glass Meadow. It was closed down for the night, so Hans found all the doors locked. Left with no other option, he found himself crawling through the garbage chute to get inside. He crept to just outside the rose room and listened to Korolev speak with an eladrin male. Korolev was happy to have Specs on board the project, but warned about Hans who was asking him questions. The eladrin said he’d deal with the problem.

Showdown at AST HQ

With Hans hanging from the back of the coach, the eladrin made his way down Mending Hill, through the southern flats, and into the Howard-Phillips, the run-down neighborhood which the AST called home. When the coach came to a stop in front of HQ, Hans climbed to the top of the coach ready to pounce on the eladrin, but the stink of Hans’ feet coupled with the rotten stink of decayed plant matter from the garbage chute gave his position away.

The eladrin blinked to the top of an apartment building and launched a fireball down at the coach. Miraculously, Hans rolled over to the safe side of the coach to avoid the explosion. The driver was less fortunate. Hans runs into the apartment and starts climbing stairs. Meanwhile, Specs arrives on the scene and walks into the office, seeing Josephine calmly talking on the phone (calling Hughes). He shakes his head, tells her to go someplace sage, and enters his workshop.

Hans opens the door to the rooftop, which was on fire, and rushes through the flames to impale the eladrin with his electro-static dagger. Specs opens the window to his workshop, lifts up a grappling gun and zip-lines up to an adjacent rooftop. The eladrin tries to hurl Hans into the fire, but the kid side-steps the attack and bull-rushes both himself and the eladrin off the roof. Specs shoots his grappling gun again, creating a line which Hans wrapped his Shadow Cloak around to safely slide down toward the ground. The eladrin was not so fortunate and died on impact.

Pegasus Project

Korolev was later arrested as part of the conspiracy to murder Von Braun. He and Captian Ulenda (the eladrin) murdered Von Braun to move the Pegasus Project forward, which had grown stagnant under Von Braun. The impending war meant they couldn’t wait for due process to fire Von Braun, who was adept at manipulating bureaucrats. Specs moved from Second to First on the Pegasus Project.

Game Stuff

We’ll advance six months in game time, so tell me the most important thing your character did in that time.

There are a few things I’m going to either change or define about the system as we move forward. One minor thing is Consequences. When you create your character, you should hack a default Consequence set, rather than trying to come up with individual ones during play. Sometimes, you really don’t have any good ideas in the spur of the moment and it can grind things to a halt while you try to think of one. Minor, Major, etc., don’t really say anything. Take a look at Hacking Your Consequences. There are some sets there you can use if you don’t want to come up with one.

Present Characters: XP + 4

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Blood Pool, part 1
Job 006.1

On the Way

October 20, Year 25

En route to an appointment with Maes Hughes, Claire, Delic, Hans and Specs encountered a young woman on the streets just a few blocks from the AST Office. In spite of her street walker attire, she clearly did not belong in the rough neighborhood of Howard-Philips. The young woman was clearly not of the working class, skin, bone structure, and posture indicated upper class, a picture of rebellion failed in the gutter of one of Exelica’s roughest neighborhoods. She had been beaten within the last hour.

The young woman told her story to Claire. It the gist wasn’t an uncommon story, though she had toughed it out longer and harder than most before they decide to crawl back to their posh quarters at the family estate. Her brother was her main problem. He largely controlled the family and he concerned himself very much with propriety. She feared what he would do should she ask to return home. Claire decided she would take care of the young woman, while the rest kept their appointment with Maes Hughes.

Paisley Park

Instead of their normal meeting place at military headquarters, Hughes arranged to meet them at Paisley Park. Paisley Park is on the top of Render Hill on the southern side. One of the notable features of the neighborhood is a ferris wheel, surrounded by a lush garden, which makes it a popular destination to walk around in your best attire.

They catch Hughes waving to his wife and daughter who were riding the ferris wheel. Specs’ eyes widened when he saw Dr. Jackal, who was operating the ferris wheel. Hughes smiled and told them the good doctor was now working for him as well. After a few moments, he began walking through the park and explained why he called them here. Someone had murdered Colonel Wernher Von Braun, the scientist in charge of the Pegasus Armor Project. Three days later, Lieutenant Blaze, the officer investigating Von Braun’s murder, was found dead. Blaze served under Hughes. Four days later, the second investigator, Lieutenant Eran was also found dead. All three men we murdered in their homes, their hands and feet severed.

The investigation is now under the jurisdiction of Internal Affairs. Hughes suspects there is someone on the inside who is part of the killings and is now actively leading a cover up. He wants the AST to investigate the murders in an unofficial capacity, to uncover the truth before a cover up buries the crime. The AST can work with the cover story that they are independent contractors inspecting the military compound to flag any areas where security could be compromised. He also gave them credentials with a Security Clearance 3, which gives them access to most of the base and the ability to request assistance from the rank and file.

The Investigation

The investigation led the party to speak with Segei Korolev, who was Von Braun’s Second Meister on the Pegasus Project. Korolev proved to have a temper, having relieved all military personnel of their duty on the project after observing how lax they were in allowing Hans to climb into an armor’s cockpit. Specs did impress Korolev with his quick assessment of a problem that two of the techs had problems with. Korolev didn’t hide that he and Von Braun were not friendly. Korolev indirectly pointed to Pol Dostovoy, the AST’s first client, the inventor of the compact Power Amplifier destined to be fit into the Pegasus Armors.

Dostovoy shed light upon Von Braun and Korolev’s relationship, calling it venomous. He indicated that Von Braun was an arrogant and dismissive scientist, who possessed great skill in manipulating the politics of attaining leadership roles in scientific research. Korolev probably had a better grasp on building the smaller and lighter Pegasus Armor’s than Von Braun, whose previous accomplishments were on heavier machines. Von Braun would often publicly dismantle Korolev’s contributions only to retool them as his own contribution, leaving Korolev out of any recognition.

The AST also sought Lieutenant Carlos, the Internal Affairs officer in charge of the official inquiry to the death of Von Braun. Lt. Carlos gave them a heavily edited investigation file. So while Specs annoyed Lt. Carlos, Hans broke into his office and lifted the original notes of Blaze and Eran. After some pressing, Lt. Carlos tells them that they should back off this investigation if they wanted to live. He wasn’t threatening them, but speaking from the position of a man who knew he was the next victim.

Protecting Internal Affairs’ Lt. Carlos

On cue, that night, a large man burst through Lt. Carlos’ front door. Judging from the man’s size and strength, this clearly was the man who killed the other officers. He charged up the steps, but Hans waited in ambush, laying the beatdown on the surprised cutthroat. As the ambushed man looked to escape, Hans goaded him to finish the fight he was losing to a 13-year old boy. Then, the house suddenly becomes engulfed in an inferno. Set on fire by an eladrin arcanist, watching the house (who was in turn being watched by Delic). Delic remembered seeing the eladrin somewhere in the military compound. The eladrin teleported away from the scene. Hans, Specs, and a severely burned Lt. Carlos made it out alive. However, the thug died in the fire.

XP: +3

The All-Star Troubleshooters

Josephine asked Specs if he was willing to invest in an underground network among the refugee groups. Specs agreed and threw some resources into it. The AST are now a Small Organization. As a small organization it has its own Aspects, Abilities, and Fate Points.

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Wrecking the Deal

October 18, Year 25 – Word on the street was there was a big deal brewing on the night of October 18, Year 25. The AST hit the streets of Exelica and got Josephine to use her connections with the refugee underground to thwart much of The Alethea’s subterfuge. A key to the operation was Claire striking an agreement with The Dark Knights, via her conversation with the aristocrat Rain Henderson the night before at The Decanter (an upscale lounge). Coordinating efforts with Bruce Wayne of The Dark Knights allowed them to out-maneuver the opposition.

They tracked The Fence and obtained the location of the deal, a warehouse in the always muddy, even during a drought neighborhood of Maxfield’s Parrish. It was where the Black Market was held the previous night.

The Fence turned out to be Dr. Jackal and Jason Rockman, with The Alethea in tow. Having set an ambush in the warehouse, the AST handily took them down, calling in Maes Hughes and his forces to capture them before any of them could escape.

This concluded the operation. Hughes now had the Amplifier. He gladly paid the AST for their trouble and offered them a chance at another job.

Rewards

XP + 4 (Claire, Delic, Scratch, Specs, Stavian)

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Reclaim the Power Accelerator

Scratch, Stavian, and Delic arrived back at the AST and threw Bandage Man in their holding cell. The AST then turned their attention towards the recovery of the power accelerator. Time was running out to find it before the Alethia could sell it.

Claire went to a high-end social club to get some information. She was able to talk to Mr. Vladamir and an important nationalist to get some clues. This effort took Claire late into the night.

Meanwhile Delic, figuring that Rockman was involved, decided to “look in” on him telepathically. He noted that he was on the move at this late hour, going into a secluded area below one of the train lines. Scratch, Delic, and Claire quickly headed across town, searching for a train station that matched the vision in Delic’s head. Fortunately Stratch’s experience with this part of the city allowed them to find the correct station. They found a temporary black market, the entrance of which was being guarded by two goblins. Claire befriended one of the goblins (“Dobby”) with talk of maggot cheese (don’t ask), and they went inside. Claire was accosted by Dr. Jackal, Stratch went chasing after a pink bunny, and Delic looked unsuccessfully for Mr. Rockman. On the way out, they noticed Rolf (Hans’s brother) leaving with a pair of hirelings.

The trio followed Rolf to the street and tried to share a cab with him, but Rolf proved rude and didn’t do the courteous thing. Delic was able to get onto the cab in the confusion, and stay on the cab until Rolf & company disembarked at Rolf’s house. Delic was also able to determine that one of the minions had a backpack with housed an extradimensional space… possibly one large enough for the power accelerator.

Scratch in the meantime had run into a gang, The Mollusks, that didn’t appreciate his continued survival. Claire backed away while Scratch was able to rout the attackers.

The 3 characters headed back to the AST to ponder the next steps.

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