Fight the power! Close the Hellmouth!
In which five ageing whitey whitebreads of the 10s pretend to be young hip black dudes of the 70s
Warning: taken out of context this post contains offensive material.
The White Hats
Jon ‘Doc’ Samedy, the Haitian migrant: about 5’9 though stooped and limping. His strangely carved stick is a coco macaque and he wields power over loa and less friendly spirits. He is the brains and medic.
Vic Creed, the scarred ex-paratrooper: about 6’6 and too bulky for speed. He is the muscle.
Roosevelt ‘Arby’ Brown: about 5’7 and thin. He is the trickster. This session Arby rejoins and takes a new skill, Occultism.
Steve ‘the cutter’ Cutter: about 6’, a fast-handed boxer. He is muscle and handyman. This session Steve also takes Occultism as a new skill.
Scene: Brother Gloves Gym
Theme: Shakey Ground
Jon, Vic and the Cutter are rapping about their next move. It’s a slow morning. Up in the ring, Melvin is showing some cat how to throw a punch.
Going up against the Rolling 40s would take some doing. Vic rules out allying with another gang and going to war. Steve scratches his short ‘fro, worrying about the Clinic – they got to roll in there too. But they lack a fast talker.
Roosevelt Brown appears. He fronts them: he’s screwed his nerve up, jitter-buggin from one foot to the other.
“The deal is this: you get me some real green, or I’m-a gonna drop the dime on all a ya, big time!”
They go round a while once Steve gets Vic sitting down and Melvin quietly takes Steve’s broom away. Arby allows Steve picked on him without hearing his side. Thing is, he had no choice about snitching.
“I ‘greed to snitch fo’ CBI – after they beat me bloody! What would you have done? Huh?”
Steve would still not have agreed, Vic would die happy if he denied them. Still they’s they, Arby’s Arby. They can see his point of view. Jon sits quiet, nodding.
“I been lettin’ CBI know – ‘bout stuff on other side of town, keepin’ them off our backs! Sure, Blackhand’s a problem too, asking about Farmatec places, but I ain’t told them Jack!”
Arby has a short-list of the places Delaney of Blackhand is really interested in. Farmatec head office, of course; the Med Lab up at Case Western; the brewery; League Park; the Phyllis Wheatley; and the Life Skills Center.
Arby can come back in, on a short leash. They get him to drop the dime again, telling Blackhand about their hospital dealings and the roll through Hough. Those aren’t part of the Farmatec thing by all accounts so it’s true but useless to Farmatec.
Scene: A diner, opposite the Clinic’s Maternity wing
Theme: Sweetback’s Theme
Arby struts in, Jim Fairbanks following. Jim tosses the van’s keys back to Steve: Steve offers him a hero sandwich.
“Naw, I gotta date. Check in with me later – you know where to phone, man. And I’ll check into that ‘other stuff’” Jim mimes a pistol, down low by Vic’s bulk. They bump fists, and with Vic’s superfluous advice to get his groove on, Jim rolls out.
“It a drug house,” Arby says, once he gets on the outside of a sandwich. “Cats be lookin’ for Mr Candyman, on’y he not home right now. Got a lookout car next door, that what you saw, it empty ‘ight now.”
“No wonder the 40s be mindin’ that place. And not home yet huh. Lance work a night shift. Well, I guess we missed him.”
“Let’s make tracks into the hospital. Arby’s here, he can talk to the desk.”
Scene: Inside the Maternity wing
Theme: People Get Up and Drive your Funky Soul
The issue of lost babies (yes, multiple) is in the hands of the Communications Manager, Mr Mintz. He does a fairly poor job of speaking to Steve and Jon, then calls security. Jon gets by far the worst of their attention, poor fellow, as he is not agile enough to dodge and not sturdy enough to shrug them off. And Afrodite, plaintive Donnie Maurice’s girl, leads a protest mob invasion at that very hour, and tempers get frayed. CPD Police add their batons to those of the security team and everyone is ejected.
“Vic, I seen a li’l Asian nurse or candy-striper or suthin’ layin’ a stash in yo’ pocket,” Arby warns. Vic takes out the bottle and squints at it. Jon decides not to take the Oxy, even though he’s really hurting. Vic disposes it down a convenient sewer grate.
While waiting for Jon and Steve, Arby has lent a sympathetic ear to a young nurse-orderly, Maggie, who tells him that another baby went missing about a year ago, at about the same time Dr. Han unexpectedly dropped into the nursery. At the time she was so traumatized she forgot to mention it to the cops. And anyway she wouldn’t want to get him into trouble, he’s a nice guy even if he’s Asian.
“Wait, play that back Arby,” Steve barks. “She say ‘nice guy even if he’s Asian’?”
“Yeah man, like that.”
“Waitaminnit! That’s ‘most ezackly what Nicole tole me up at Garfield!”
Scene: DeNaRes ranger station
Theme: Pick up the Pieces
It’s research time!
“I’ll be outside… checkin’ out th’ new track,” Vic announces dryly. And Arby’s attention span wanes too, and he joins Vic after a while. But in the meantime, he and Steve have helped Jon work through the station’s books about weird critters and have a few leads.
Kobolds: Yes, Kobolds will eat anything opportune.
Hobgoblins: The name is a rough translation of the original Japanese. One strain of these critters does have a taste for babies.
Demons: There is one smaller type of humanoid demon that delights in disguise, small enough to appear to be a small man, though they don’t mind being mistaken for other things. They have a particular liking for babies. They worship a greater demon, one of whose names is Face-stealer. Such a demon would take possession of a human.
Professor Roosevelt advises them to keep the amulet rock by, because it will make a demon struggle to concentrate on a spell, especially possession, and answer fluently at the same time.
Thinking about possession and needing to exorcise a demon quickly, Jon phones maman. He takes the emotional abuse long enough to get his request over, and maman agrees to get the congregation ready again.
Scene: a pleasant coffee-shop, Maple Heights
There’s not many Hans in the Cuyahoga phone books, and only one Doctor. He’s out in Maple Heights. Not wanting to give Vic Collova an excuse for less civil behavior, the white hats navigate right around Garfield, seeing a lot of expensive real estate as they do. They stop in Maple Heights, near enough to the rail station not to be automatically picked up for Black while Anything. Here in this coffee-shop, the clientele are mostly older white women. The white hats eat ‘scones’ which turn out to be biscuits, and sip weak coffee. Near Vic, a nervous woman struggles with her purse and change. As he turns to help, she panics and spills everything. Things are retrieved. Unseen, a vaguely familiar envelope remains behind on the floor. Vic covers it with one massive hand, and slips it away.
Outside, Vic checks out the envelope. The crest is the familiar Indian Chief of the Cleveland Indians. Inside is two tickets to the upcoming home game against the Sox. Ordinarily that wouldn’t be much of a find, seeing how the Tribe is glued to the bottom rankings. But player-manager Frank Robinson seems to be raising the team up a little. Vic decides he and the Cutter could take in the ball game.
Scene: a pleasant wooded urban lane, Maple Heights
Theme: Walk on by
With directions from a gas station, they find Han’s street. Established homes, well-wooded, well-groomed. Han’s house is no exception. But it seems quiet and peaceful. There’s nothing sinister at all.
Steve apologizes: his idea was wrong. They have to go chase down some other leads. Back to Garfield Heights after all. He really has to get in to see Serena, the midwife. With a better ruse than animal control.
“I c’d maybe use Cleo, p’tend she pregnant…”
His heart sinks.
Scene: Cleopatra’s apartment
Theme: Trouble Man
It’s Afrodite answers the door. Oh, now Steve places her! She used to babysit for Cleo, and since Cleo got a job today, and Afrodite got no child no more, she’s agreed to stand babysitter again.
Afrodite is very motivated to help. It would be better if it were at the Clinic, but if one thing leads to another, she might still get her baby back. Her stomach is still loose: she looks convincing as a slightly pregnant girl.
Vic volunteers to babysit. The kids don’t mind.
Scene: Serena McIntyre’s clinic, Garfield Heights
Theme: It’s crazy babe
This time, there’s no difficulty getting to see Serena. Right time of day, right look. She’s a capable-looking thirty-something, with a scattering of freckles across her nose, and reddish hair. And she proves to be a sharp observer.
Steve gets an accurate account of who was where the night baby McCants disappeared. The only two staff actually in the nursery were nurse-orderly Nicole, and orderly Neal.
Short, undistinguished features, middling looks, middling hair. Has worked at Garfield for at least as long as Nicole or Lance. Drives a plain van.
No, she doesn’t think Han had anything to do with the disappearance. He is highly professional, and certainly a very nice guy even if Asian.
Scene: Soul Food Diner, near the Gym
Theme: The Payback
It’s early the next morning. The four white hats are planning how to latch hold of Neal. Steve’s reporter friend Cindy Channel really sank her teeth into the lead and got enough out of the Clinic’s maternity wing to report that Neal moonlights there too, three days a week on, four off.
A sista-girl bursts in, ‘fro bent on one side, blood oozing down her temple. She needs help! Afrodite in trouble! Down the mission now!
Quickly detailing off Jon and Arby to drive up to Garfield Heights Steve and Vic run after Selma-Beth to the Newborn mission. She throws open the door – gesticulates urgently – there!
A white dude is seated peacefully at a table, he looks up as though expecting them.
“I brought them,” Selma-Beth announces calmly, wiping off the fake blood. “Don’ f’get my money.”
The white dude adjusts his spectacles and near-sightedly shuffles two ten-spots out his billfold, and Selma-Beth departs.
“Have a seat,” Agent Boddington announces pleasantly.
Scene: DeNaRes ranger station
Theme: Get Ready
It’s early dawn of the following morning, and the station’s cheap coffee is washing down a hasty breakfast. The white hats don’t mean to miss Neal this time. Yesterday Jon and Arby arrived way too late, since they had to walk all the way to Jon’s sedan in order to drive up to Garfield.
Steve and Vic have a half-agreed alliance with Department 7 of the CPD. It seems to be a small, underfunded section in charge of weird cases. It certainly doesn’t have the manpower to cover much of the inner east city. Boddington is only too happy for DeNaRes to fund the white hats. In return he’ll try to let them know if other cops have been told off to pick them up, and he won’t ask about what they might have under their coats.
So they’re tooling up for a possible demon. Vic will keep the rock in his pocket, axe at his back under the coat, and Steve and Arby each have a catchpole. Jon has a knife as well as his trusty stick.
Scene: outside a warehouse on the Lake Shore
Theme: Jungle Boogie
Steve has no trouble following Neal’s van after Arby spots Neal. Arby thinks he saw a tail under the short guy’s smock. The others can barely see him: their attention keeps sliding off him. But the van, that’s normal, just anonymous.
Neal acts as though he doesn’t know he’s in trouble when they roll on him as soon as he gets down out of his van. Arby swoops on him and gets the catchpole firmly round Neal’s neck. Steve adds his, around the arms. Now the guy – or thing – can’t get away and can’t pull a weapon. The glamor slips once, revealing a greenish skin and reptilian eyes.
Neal pretty much follows Steve’s lead of questioning, eagerly laying any blame at Han’s doorstep, as well as Nicole. But he’s not entirely convincing. He seems to have trouble concentrating: also he’s very scared of Vic. When he includes “probably involving soul music” in his description of the terrible rite at which Han eats babies, Steve is skeptical.
Vic grabs the little demon’s tail: it comes off in his hand. Nasty! Undeterred, Vic uses it to beat the captive.
Apparently Neal is a middleman demon, supplying a demon market where babies are very valuable currency. He may or may not worship Han, and/or the face-stealer. But he certainly doesn’t want the white hats to go after Han, after all he admires his professionalism and he is a really nice guy too. Even if Asian.
The white hats eventually ask Neal where the babies are, and he can’t help his eyes sliding sideways to the warehouse.
They recover both baby McCants and Afrodite’s little one. Neal’s van is well-equipped to keep babies secure from rolling about, so they lash him up, toss him in, and transport the babies in it as well. Arby drives, pretty sure he’s inherited new wheels.
It’s the aftermath of reports and handovers. The white hats are relaxing, though they are still unsure of what to do about Han. As for Neal, well, Cleveland is on a major waterway. He’ll be shipped out, not comfortably.
The breakfast news plays. A number of black worshippers thought to belong to the Haitian congregation have been hospitalized after their service was raided. It is unclear who raided it.
The Feelgood hour resumes. Charlie Stone mikes in for a guest spot. He speaks gravely about the perils of vigilantism.
General notes: Steve recovered from last session’s financial hit by leaving Jon and Arby with the bill at the Soul Food diner: not intentionally. It’s a good thing gas is still pretty cheap, because there was a lot of driving. But Terique McCants rewards them with real green so they are flush for now.
It’s a good rule for side-stories that they may inform the main storyline, but ought not to take more than two sessions. So this session the ‘Kobolds ate my baby’ side-story took precedence. Acknowledgments to LPJ Design for Full Circle, adapted slightly to urban fantasy.
Good roleplaying by all, but Arby’s player did exceptionally well, taking a very short briefing from me on what angle he was to take coming back to the other white hats and getting some good fast-talk going using the right lingo.
I think players are getting more used to having contacts, and running through who might be used for what. It’s part of feeling embedded into the local area, so is quite vital.