CD11: the Tubes of disconsolation

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 bulky with it. 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.

 

A montage

Theme: Get Ready

August ticks by as goblins lairs are visited and the miscreants intimidated. Finally, paychecks mostly spent, the white hats are ready to raise up and get funky with whatever is under the Phyllis Wheatley.

A gear bag is obtained (old, from the Brother Gloves gym) and packed with hardware. Jon and Arby spend spare cash on leather jackets.

Cleo makes the call to Esther Jefferson, and Steve naïvely imagines that’s her only part in the drama. He’s in for a rude awakening!

 

Scene: the Phyllis Wheatley

Theme: Easin’ in Hell

Steve is somewhere around the complex of three buildings, seeing to plumbing (“that’s just… nasty!”) while the other three laze around as much as they dare under Cleo’s whip-like attention. Arby makes a comment, draw Cleo’s ire, and stupidly makes another comment, earning him more time under the tongue-lashing. Then Jon mischievously tries to put more beat-down on Arby and Cleo turns on him like a blood-maddened shark. Only Vic is immune, because he’s keeping quiet, staying in the background and just sipping the weak coffee that shy little intern brews.

Cleo lessons them: “now you look smart! That there Benjamin Jones, he a fine blood, got himself a real job, mm-hmmh, he calling round ‘fore he heads on to work. In his Office. Yeah. So you all look sharp, brush up now!”

Cleo’s got the others lining up in the lobby by the time Steve emerges from the Janitor’s shower smelling of Old Spice. Arby is resplendent in a fine leather jacket from Downtown. Jon has spent the C-note on a cheaper version of the same.

Movement can be glimpsed down the entrance steps out on the street, and Cleo moves forward to welcome Ben. Four muffled shots thump outside: a suit-dressed man stumbles through the doors and falls flat on his face. Jon hurries to help as quickly as he can, but it’s too late to do much for Ben Jones, late of KinzeyCorp.

 

Scene: under the Phyllis Wheatley

Theme: Don’t look back

The white hats have bundled their goods and ducked down, well before any police arrive. After all their gear-bag holds a couple of battleaxes and a couple of M16s, plus spare ammo for the revolvers and magazines for the M16s.

Jon’s thought to bring a compass. Although there’s a lot of metal, it suggests that the right (facing away from the ladder) heads vaguely east or nor’-east, and the left heads south-west. After some minutes’ discussion, Steve opts for the ‘when in doubt go left’ rule and heads that way, Arby behind with the flashlight lofted.

“Hey, Arby’s… representin’!” Steve thinks, and raises a salute to him.

“Hey – Steve ain’t hatin’ me!” Arby thinks. They both feel better about the situation, dispelling the downtrodden feeling that being around Cleo gives them.

 

Scene: the same tunnel, much further west

Theme: Boom Boom

Arby’s flashlight picks up a small group of people – or things – ahead. Steve glimpses tough-looking kids around a dark-clad woman, Arby figures they are goblins and something female and freaky. With a yell he warns Steve! They both throw themselves to either side as the goblins draw popguns and let rip! In reply Vic opens up with about 2/3 a clip of M16 ammo. Arby’s light has vanished (he’s switched it off, head down and muttering prayers) and the only light is now behind Vic, from Jon at the rear, but Steve figures he’d better close in. He steals forward…

Jon incants the name of Papa Legba and calls for Light! A brilliant flash lights up everyone, blinding goblins and Steve alike. Vic has switched to single-shot now and aims past Steve: the gun jams. Goddam those early M16s!

Steve has recognized that the goblins have hunkered down behind a big metal box-like gate, leading from this tunnel into a side-tunnel. They’ve passed smaller versions of them all the way here. They are automatic feeds from this into side-pipes. So this one’s probably open, or being opened. There’s no sign of the woman. He leaps to his feet after the goblins fire a couple of harmless rounds over his head, and vaults over the box. His broadaxe does a lot of damage in a short time, and the remaining two goblins flee up the side-tunnel.

The white hats regroup. Vic has the spare M16 ready, but while Steve shuts the gate he un-jams the first one. Jon searches the area the critters were standing around and finds the early workings of a magic circle. He notes the marks down for later.

 

Scene: a basement, much further south

Theme: Living for the City

Arby sneaks up from the now-open manhole and explores what seems to be a church’s lower basement, or maybe a school’s. There’s a fair amount of grey cement dust, suggesting construction, lying over folding saw-horses and old swivel chairs. A plain stair leads up to a regular-looking door. Faint noises can be heard above.

Arby finds a light switch at top of stairs. He flicks it up and two cheap bulbs come on below. There’s a murmur of voices outside. The other three white hats congregate nervously below. Arby picks a routine but sturdy lock, taking quite some minutes, and emerges into a normal municipal-looking basement. A dude is sitting puffing a smoke on a stair about twenty feet away.

“Hey, brother, who you been down in thar with?” he asks curiously.

“Just Wildlife Control – looking for pests” Arby tries, but the dude scoffs.

“An’ you afford tha’ fine jacket?” he gestures to Arby’s top-of range leather jacket.

“Ain’t nothing but a thing” growls Vic’s voice from below, and the dude jumps up and flees back upstairs, leaving his smoke burning down on the step.

The white hats figure they must be in one of the Ward Square buildings, and depart back down.

 

Scene: much later, way, way back up the tunnel

Theme: Going to a go-go

Another ladder. The last one they found was up below the rail station, not all that far past the Phyllis Wheatley, not used much at all. This one is kind of slimy, and looks used. It’s near a lock gate opening (if the compass is to be trusted) kind of north, or lakewards.

Vic does his thing with the manhole cover and jacks himself up into… League Park! The white hats already know (from their recent police work) that goblins and bigger fry use it as a hangout, which keeps the Hough bad boys from using it much. It’s about midday and with empty stomachs they decide this is not the time or place to investigate much.

 

Scene: Later, east-south-east of that

Theme: Uptight (everything’s all right)

The white hats clamber out of the tunnel into a construction-cluttered basement in the Clinic Hospital acreage. Ignored by all they act like workmen on a break and walk over to the café across the road, and order subs and sodas all round.

Steve recognizes Emily Phan, the little Asian intern that Arby thought slipped oxy into Vic’s pocket. She looks just as tired as she did back then. He slides in next to her and strikes up a conversation. He angles around to who might have persuaded her to plant the stash. When she remembers him, her English gets a lot worse, but he persists, and she agrees to meet him next night at Little Haiti.

It’s now around 2pm or later so they all four return to their exploration.

 

Scene: A steeper section of the tunnel, south-east of that

Theme: Higher ground

The white hats have climbed – tiredly in two cases – a gently sloping section since they crossed under the RT. They’re pretty sure this leads up to Baldwin Reservoir. Above stretches a large lock-gate. Not far away to the right is a smaller side-gate.

Steve clambers up and starts working on the lock-gate, but sporadic noises of heavy, rushing flows of water eventually persuades him that forcing an entry into millions of cubic pounds of water may not be the best move. Instead, they relocate to the side-gate and soon find that it leads to a smaller, older section of tunnel, partly brickwork.

As this is single file they set up mainly in order of size, though Jon remains rearguard.

 

Scene: Much further west and a little south

Theme: Move on up

After a brief excursion up into the brewery (a cellar dating back to its Peerless days but now holding old barrels) and an investigation of a properly-incised magic circle (Jon has copied the design) they have come at last to a manhole that seems ready-rigged for easy access by goblins. It’s been jacked up and put on swivels, so it looks closed at a brief glance but flips vertical easily.

Arby is slim enough to squeeze through where a goblin can, so he takes the lead. Maybe it’s the long day’s work, but this is a long way from him snuggling down against the tunnel with his head down!

There’s next to no light since he daren’t risk his own, but he can glimpse big old pipes, and he seems to be inside.

Vic clambers up and lifts the manhole, silently, to one side. An impressive feat of strength! As he squeezes out, a green glow grows on one side of the chamber and, below, Jon feels the presence of sorcery!

 

Fight scene!

Theme: Jungle Boogie

A large number of snakes pour from the green glow, and goblins behind high pipes on the other side volley thrown axes down. Vic clears the high ground with his M16 while Steve bounds up and takes his axe and fists to the goblins. Jon struggles out, avoiding the snakes by use of his stick, and combats the goblin shaman: but his efforts are only just holding the line!

Vic gets bitten while giving cover fire, but Arby jumps clear and empties his gun into the snakes, then clambers over towards Steve and joins the fun. Vic stands tough and clambers up away out of the main crawling nest of snakes.

Steve and Arby find the goblins are being chivvied on by a couple of small scabby demons, one wearing a Blackhand Security vest. The demons are put paid to and the surviving goblins flee.

But below and behind them Jon has been bitten!

 

GM’s corner

No regrets at not finishing the fight scene. In one way it is better to hand me the decision of what we go with in next week’s opening scene.

Unintentionally, Steve and Arby hit on a way of breaking the ‘Cleo effect’ (where after meeting her they take a -1 on everything and may not use drama points). Jon didn’t, and his efforts during the session were handicapped.

After last week’s imbalance in xp it was heartening to see all four players make an effort to speak in character. (There was  a “snakes… why did it have to be snakes” quote but that was my fault.)

It was a slightly strange session though, all set around the one thing, the huge empty water-bore they discovered back in CD7 ‘Sweating the Clues’. Not easy to keep to the pace of a BtVS game. For me the highlights were the roleplay at the beginning, around buying jackets and doing handyman chores and inciting Cleo’s wrath.

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About andrewmclaren26

Weekly Roleplayer, Wargamer when I can
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