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 veteran: about 6’6 and too bulky for speed. He is the muscle.
Roosevelt ‘Arby’ Brown, the trickster: about 5’7 and lithe. Arby has his cowardly nature beaten, except when asked to recall something.
Steve ‘the cutter’ Cutter, the ex-boxer: about 6’, a fast-handed boxer. He is muscle and handyman.
Jim Fairbanks, the tough treasure-hunter: about 6′, a tough ex-serviceman from Vic’s 101st Airborne. This session Jim makes a guest appearance when Jon is laid up.
Scene: DeNaRes ranger station, the common room
Theme: Money (Gladys Knight version)
The white hats are seated at the long common room table, looking at a pile of banknotes. Arby is out of bandages. His left eye has a nasty scar down the eyelid. He has a greedy glint in his eyes.
Vic don’t feel right about taking Terique McCants’ money for doing what’s right. On the other hand, this is a ready way to pay Madeline back that 5 C’s the hobo stole. Jon’s uncomfortable too, but this is a chance to pay Maman back a little on the tuition fees she feels have been wasted. Steve shrugs and mentions how Cleo’s been hurting.
“So, I guess we all take a share,” Arby says, disappointed they didn’t leap at his plan to take that whole pile as a stake and make some real bread. He riffles it into four even decks. Each is enough to buy a fairly good used automobile. He riffles through his share, divides it evenly into three, and slides one across to Steve. “’A’s for Cleo too – where takin’ care my kid’s at I aim to please,” he brags. Steve scowls reflexively then folds that share into his.
“Yeah, I gotta get down to Little Saigon, get this green to Madeline,” Vic announces. It kicks off a circuit of visits.
Scene: Samedy residence, Fairfax
Theme: Soul Man
It’s baking hot, and staying in the Plymouth while Jon visits isn’t an option. Jon vaguely waves them on, they follow him around the sprawling old house to the back. Voices are raised.
Jon sees Maman, standing erect on the back porch, his niece and nephew beside her, facing off against Deacon Setro Casimir-Perier who is below, declaiming loudly. Over a dozen of the congregation are grouped in a sort of arc around them, some nearer Maman and some clearly supporting Setro.
Setro blames Jon for the cops’ raid and the broken heads and bones that went with it. If he hadn’t fallen into bad company and become the cops’ enemy that wouldn’t have happened!
As Jon mounts the steps up to Maman’s side he notices Asha is sitting in the back parlor. She looks pretty mad at Setro.
The debate breaks up pretty quickly once Maman sees the other three white hats trailing after Jon. She defends Jon briefly, accepts his money, calls for refreshments for the guests, and privately tells Jon he can move back into the house.
Steve finds himself talking to Clarice, Jon’s niece, who is something in the law trade, attractive, and older than Jon. She doesn’t give him a business card, but mentions her law firm’s name so he can contact her, daytime hours. Arby finds himself talking to Jon’s nephew Stefan, a minister of religion apparently. Arby’s used to the kinds of questions he levels.
Privately, Asha urges payback on the dirty cops. Thanks to Setro’s unwitting evidence she has concluded it was them laid a beat-down on her. Jon agrees in principle but can see some practical issues there.
Scene: Outside Cleo’s apartment building, Central
Theme: Trouble Man
Vic offers to head up with Steve, but the Cutter turns him down smartly. As they watch him head up the stairwell, they notice his shoulders seem to slump defeatedly.
The windows are down in the Plymouth but the heat has Vic out finding shade anyway. Arby has slumped way down, in case Cleo looks out. Jon is resting behind the steering wheel, which is getting too hot to touch.
Steve shuffles quickly down the steps, money delivered. Suddenly Vic hears three muffled shots and three ricochets.
Vic throws himself down behind the Plymouth, opposite the building from where the shots must have come. Steve double-takes and joins him. Jon gets the Plymouth started and guns the engine.
“Get in mon, we outta here!”
As they race away towards Downtown Vic recounts what he heard. Suppressed, probably a light automatic rifle firing sub-sonic rounds.
None of them feels like exploring the rooftop opposite Cleo’s, and the lack of firearms is brought home again.
“My Ace Boon Coon Jim be huntin’ pieces, man. If we lucky, he gimme a call soonest,” Vic reminds them.
Scene: The Burnes residence, Little Saigon near Kirtland
Theme: I can’t get next to you
Steve tags along with Vic on this visit, and is amused to watch a battle of wills between huge ugly Vic and petite Madeline. Eventually, Vic’s insistence that he needs to pay her back since she got no steady income now and the kids need something, wins over Madeline’s insistence that she never expected the expense money back.
Outside, Steve asks Vic if there’s more there than just sympathy, but the big guy insists he is just helping a friend. Steve raises his brows in puzzlement and says no more.
Scene: Outside Phyllis Wheatley building, Central
Theme: Living for the City
Rolling around the east side of Downtown Jon has the Plymouth pointed towards the tracks, since Arby has decided mid-afternoon’s a good time to spring the next share of his roll on Wudha, his other baby-mama.
First thing Jon notices is a big black Lincoln, limo-style, parked maybe a block shy of the Phyllis. One rear window’s cracked down, and a little smoke’s escaping.
Next thing they all notice is a demonstration outside the Phyllis. Lots of noise and placards. Steve groans.
“Cleo’s gotta be in on that thing! She tellin’ me she can get us in anytime.”
Jon checks the rear-view mirror, sees two cruisers rolling in with lights flashing. This is shaping up to go bad fast! He raps out the limo’s number plate to Arby, asks him to remember it. Arby wigs out, messes himself. Steve chokes:
“Lemme out right now!”
Steve’s out of the sedan, shuffles quick through the baking sidewalk heat, shouldering through the placards reading “Down With the Man!” or the like. A lot of these people seem kind of rent-a-mob. He can see Cleo’s ‘fro, and he can see a suit-wearing type coming out of the Phyllis, and he can also see the cruisers rolling in to bracket the crowd.
“Come on girl, ‘s a set up! Let’s get gone!”
Steve grabs Cleo’s hand and they race away towards the building, not away, then out back along the alleys and right-of-ways the white hats escaped along the other night.
Behind them, police set about arresting as many genuine protestors as they can. The limo pulls away.
Scene: Lake Trout Diner, near the entertainment district, Central
Theme: Sweetback’s Theme
Steve’s attention is taken off Cleo. She’s been explaining that ‘word come round’ and ‘some sista tole her’ and has no more deep reasoning in the protest than that. And Moroni the mob bastard shows up, and marks out Steve and makes for him.
“Be that Roosevelt Brown,” Moroni explains once they have a private minute. “He winnin’! You care if he stay in one piece, you gots ta tell him so he stays told!”
With a muffled groan Steve remembers Arby’s big plan to make some real green. He follows Moroni’s direction and within half an hour is inside an off-the-books gambling pit, back of the Boneyard. Arby’s playing cards, and he’s got Titus Johnson in on the game which doubles his chances of rigging it. The other three players aren’t happy.
Steve practically manhandles Arby away, to protests from all. A puzzled and still-greedy Titus follows them, but out on the street Steve spots Jon’s Plymouth. Leaving Titus in the dust he and Arby race across at least three lanes of traffic and jump into the now-cleaned back seat.
Scene: Outside Farmatec House, near University Circle
Theme: Theme from Shaft
Arby has barely finished tucking his money away – double what he started with – when Jon grunts in surprise and points to the Farmatec building. A good number of people are clumped loosely around the entrance, some sitting with head down on their knees. A tall slim woman with silver-gold hair seems to be in charge and there are two security guards among the crowd.
Jon uses the Circle to navigate back around, and parks down by the student pub. There’s plenty of parking at this early evening hour. Normal office hours are about over and the evening swill has barely got under way.
The white hats wander over the road to the Farmatec lot. Two ambulances, both from Case Western, have already arrived. The four mingle: Arby distracts a security guard while Jon gets one of the less-ill people to disclose what’s going on.
It sounds to him that something environmental has reached tipping-point. The office has been affected for quite some time now, but this time the stomach upsets, headaches, dizziness and so on affected so many people they evacuated. He can catalogue quite a number of toxins that could do that, but needs to work out common factors, since not everyone is affected.
Before Nicholette de la Fleur – the imposing blonde – can prevent the white hats interfering, a beat-up old police car arrives. It’s Department 7’s Agent Boddington. Apparently Farmatec is well-connected (you don’t say?) and there’s enough of an “unexplained” list of complaints on file that he’s been asked to investigate. Of course, he’s delighted to hand over to Jon, who has the medical background. He makes their authority clear enough to give them access to the offices, and goes back to his other caseloads.
Scene: Farmatec Sales & Marketing Department
Theme: Jungle Boogie
The bulk of the interior is cubicled off, with a few private offices. Each desk has a standard push-button phone. Jon asks staff not to use the phones – though he’s pretty sure he’s ignored – and draws up an eight-box chart for his fellow white hats.
It’s interview time!
Steve spends a pleasant 40 minutes interviewing Tawna, hearing about what copywriting is (it’s not what he thought: not that he ever gave it much) and learning her nightclub preferences. Meanwhile Vic chews through several intimidated sales staff, filling in boxes poorly; and Arby smoothly works his way through the remainder, bringing Jon back some valuable cross-checking. Only Nicholette to go, and Jon is already reasonably sure someone is slipping rat-poison (or something equivalent) into the coffee percolator.
Jon, armed with a check-list and accompanied by Arby and Vic (she is quite intimidating), enters Nicholette’s private office. She’s fidgeting nervously behind her desk.
Hardly has Jon broached the subject of rat-poison and possible culprits when she levels a small pistol and fires every round in it!
Jon drops, groaning in pain, trying to stop the blood. Vic barrels over the desk and cleans out Nicholette, her office chair, and any stray furniture behind that. Arby, soon joined by Steve, attempts to help Jon.
While Jon grits his teeth and remains conscious long enough to direct the emergency first-aid, an ambulance is called and Vic binds Nicholette’s hands and feet firmly together with phone cord. He’s pretty sure she’s possessed, or plain crazy.
Scene: ICU, the Clinic
The white hats are visiting Jon and helping him eat the nice fruit they bought, when two whiteys are shown in. One’s Mitchell Delaney, Blackhand Security. The other he introduces as CEO of Farmatec, Curtis Silverman, a white-haired, Jewish-looking old guy. They remember Delaney coat-holding for the same old guy making a speech that memorable morning outside the ward office when a fake bomb was thrown. He thanks Jon for his sacrifice and the white hats for good work generally. Mitchell doesn’t seem too pleased with Arby: kind of a ‘how come you didn’t phone this in?’ look shoots across. There doesn’t seem to be any other agenda, spoken or unspoken. Or maybe they are just too busy eating grapes to notice.
Steve, Vic and Arby update Jon on the shooting and Nicholette once alone again. No police comeback at all. They took her away from police custody, thanks to Boddington’s help. Up at the ranger station, they brought Maman Samedy up and did that same freaky circle with the candles and feathers and blood. Seems de la Fleur is really nuts, but really possessed too. The demon is a dangerous ego-affecting one named Chamegalophage. But Maman figures Jon better be fit and up for the full service before she tries exorcising it.
Scene: Approaching a small warehouse, Lakefront area
Theme: In the heat of the night
Ready money available means Jim Fairbanks has come through, though he can’t guarantee the transaction in any way. Originally, he expected to make a score off the ex-Black Panthers, but most of them are out of the life or keeping their heads low. But a contact through them led to this meet. The buyer insists on meeting the white hats.
Jim’s front and just right of Vic; Steve’s front and left of Vic; like the 2 and 10 on a clock if Vic is the 12. Arby’s taken up rear-guard keeping an eye peeled for ambush. It’s unusually quiet and relatively dark: there are witnesses, but few and too far away to make them in any useful way.
A sedan is parked beside a small warehouse, its roll-door closed. The white hats agree they aren’t entering the warehouse, but that’s not the deal anyway.
As they approach the sedan close enough for them to be recognized, its occupant climbs out. Steve can’t see any other heads in there. The interior light must have been disabled, as it stays dark. Standing beside the open door, a tallish, fairly slim figure addresses them.
“Deal is: yo’ man Vic there joins the Rollin’ 40s. Plus the cash. Then you get guns.”
The voice belongs to ‘Dakka’ Tyler.
Steve and he exchange a few words, Dakka hostile. Then Vic makes his mind up.
“Ain’t no way for that to happen, fool.”
Dakka slams the sedan door shut, and the warehouse roll-door rolls up, allowing his gunmen to move on the white hats!
Theme: Boom Boom
Naturally, Vic Jim and Steve are more than ready for treachery. Arby, sensing gunplay, hits the deck and flattens into invisibility. Vic decides to deal with Dakka, charges him and slam-tackles the gang leader, riding his head into the sedan, hard. Dakka is out! Vic gropes inside the man’s coat and draws a heavy pistol out left-handed: his right hand snakes his battleaxe out from under his own duster. Steve races left to close the gap on the lead banger, whipping his axe around but missing as the man dodges back: but the dodge takes him back into his own Rolling 40s man. Steve has a few seconds to recalibrate! Jim flashes past him, and uses a swift disarm to take the pistol out of the tangled gangster’s fist, and level it at one of the two bangers in the rear!
Arby springs up off the ground, and sweeps around to slide into a takedown on the rear gangster. That gent sees him coming and rips an entire mag off, all over Arby’s head. Then there’s a pistol shot behind Arby and a huge muzzle flash and blast from his right. And a terrible scream. He finishes kicking the empty piece out of the fallen man’s hand, and looks back.
Steve has used his axe again with better effect, and the unfortunate Rolling 40s gunman is minus an arm. Jim attempted to use his opponent for cover as he shot at Arby’s target, and only succeeded in blasting the near man’s ear off. And Vic, moving back round the sedan and into line with the remaining banger, leveled the heavy pistol and blew the fool away.
The white hats bundle the armless man and the bleeding earless gangster into Dakka’s pimped-down sedan, with a rough field-dressing supplied by Jim. Then Dakka. Then the other live member. Who is grilled about Lance Barnes and the area around the drug house, all the way back to the A&E where the sedan and occupants are left to the paramedics to deal with.
Adding the spare ammunition and spoils of war guns together, the white hats now have a small armory of three Saturday-night-specials, and one heavy pistol, with enough ammo for a short gun battle.
“Every time we plan to explore below the Phyllis, something happens that sends us in another direction” – Steve’s player SM
“Yeah, it’s like the GM is saving it for a season finale or something” – me, as GM.
The presence of real money made for a good bit of roleplaying I’m sorry I can’t reproduce adequately. Most white hats except Arby (who has the covetous ($) drawback) had good reasons not to keep the money. It made giving it to this or that person easier.
It also – finally – gave me a good way of working the confrontation with the Rolling 40s into the action. Now the white hats have guns, using the traditional adventurer method of “kill them and take their stuff!”
xp earned reflected both the Farmatec Office and Rolling 40s menaces, 5 apiece. As for drama points, I beat down Steve Jon and Arby with Shit That Happens, and Jon earned at least three, which were all rapidly spent on not dying. At present I’m minded not to penalize Vic for shooting the banger, since it was in defense of his fellow white-hats.