Nunna daul Isunyi
GM: Vulcan
Players: Slinger, Janie, Annie, Popper
Synopsis: Summoned by an astral form to a remote Anglo Rez in the Ute Nation, for unknown purposes.
Date: December 31st, 2069

A path of stones and jags.

The Message

Annie stands near the center of a circle hidden away deep in a Ute territory glade. The wind whistling through the trees high overhead and the soft rustle of insects are the only sounds to be heard. The moon is full and one of the rare blue moons…an opportune time for ritual magic and a time sacred to her faith. The candles at the four quarters flicker steadily, though if you look closely it's almost in direct opposition to the few gusts that actually reach the mages' circle.

"Shidizhee'1." The word flickers across the wind. A quiet whisper, a bare breeze of sound that comes not from the ears, but from the inner heart.

Annie raises her head slightly at the sound, the point of the silver-bladed athame in her hand dropping toward the earth. "Who seeks me?", she inquires curiously in the same tongue.

"Time is short, little sister." The language stays Apache, but the GM simply does not have a decent enough grasp to portray it. The tone and inflection of little sister indicates irony, amusement with the term. "A bad wind blows, and soon it will poison the heart. You danced once. Can you dance again?"

Annie chuckles wryly and then offers a nod as she sheathes her ritual blade. "The last time was a mixed blessing, but I believe I can recall the steps and the beat…the beat never changes.", she pauses and adds, "Show or tell me what I must do."

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Annie (#5398) rolls Intelligence vs TN 4 for "Perception.":
1 2 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 5 9 10 = 5 Successes

You're hearing a voice, it's clearly an astral form manifesting in the Tellurian without actually coming in to the Tellurian. Probably someone still in the astral.

"The dance is different now. The music has changed. The child has grown, bruised, to take the role of parent, bruiser. It is as was seen by the Wise Uncle… but we cannot simply walk in to the desert and wash our hands. You must go to where the Dragon watches the city. There will be others."

Annie switches her perception to the astral and peers through the lingering magical barrier of her active circle, attempting to catch a glimpse of this mysterious and unusually knowledgeable entity. "Very well", she replies after a moment, "I'm not one to turn down so eloquent an invitation."

The astral form is of a young woman, Looking to be native, but a desert or plains people native, western tribes. Not Apache, not Zuni or hopi… Not quite Lakota or Cree. She's perhaps 17 years old, the way she looks in the astral, wearing contemporary fashions some 50 years out of date.

"Where the Dragon Watches over the city."
And then the astral form races away at the speed of thought.

Annie sighs and looks around the circle for a moment at her lovingly prepared ritual materials. "Ah well", she mumbles to herself and then heads around the circle dismissing the quarters and extinguishing the candles. Once any potential fire hazard is removed she erases the circle with an evergreen branch, puts back on her clothing and packs her gear up before beginning the hike back to her truck. Her mind goes over the meet location, 'The Dragon that Watches over the City'…

Meanwhile, in a completely different part of town…

No big parties or celebrations for Janie this year; instead, she meditates in her Lodge in conjunction with Athena, seeking insight and understanding, peace and guidance. The answers she seeks are within her grasp, and she knows this, but if she reaches too forcefully, the understanding fades.

Instead, she waits quietly for the thought to flutter into her grasp like an errant butterfly…

Janie's phone rings. Johnny's personal number.

Meditatus interruptus! Janie manages not to curse out loud as she shakes her mind clear and reaches for her phone. By the time she touches the 'answer' icon she's already managed to calm herself; Johnny probably has a very good reason for calling.

… He'd better. "Aye?"

Johnny grunts inarticulately. "Draco Courtyard, 10 minutes. Grab Slinger on your way. You have been requested." He then hangs up.

… Important enough, apparently. Janie wastes less than two seconds staring at the phone before reaching for her equipment. "Athena, head over t'Slinger's place an' tell him I'm on my way. We'll have t'step on it t'make that deadline."

Athena nods and vanishes into the Astral, zooming to Slinger's home at the speed of thought.

Slinger isn't home, dude. Well, his body is. It's lying in the bedroom, utterly bereft of spirit, though he is still breathing. The young mage is out to lunch, from the look of it. From what Athena can see through the ward that protects his apartment, anyway.

Just as Athena might give up, though — just an instant before — there is a zip of light as an Awakened astral form flies by — back into Slinger's body.

Much encouraged, Athena tries the doorbell again.

A rather tired looking elf staggers to the door, clad in his underwear with a blanket draped over his shoulders. He opens it, after peering outside. He recognizes Athena. There's a cigarette burning in his hand, obviously just lit up. He looks out of it, still. "S'up? Everything okay?" he asks the spirit, groggily.

"That's still up for debate, I fear," Athena replies. "Johnny just called; we're needed at the Draco building. Janie is on her way to pick you up as we speak, so you've little time to get ready."

Slinger mutters. "Gotcha." He considers just for a moment, then leans back in the apartment, and then tosses a set of keys to Athena. "No joyriding in my SUV," he grins. "Get it unlocked, and there's some stuff in there I may need. Or we can take it instead. It's pretty beefy, and fast, and very stealthy."

Slinger drags hard on his cigarette as he closes the door, opens a fizzycoke, and swiftly gets dressed. All the while wondering what the heck is going on. It's been a long time since he got one of these calls. And on New Year's Eve. This is a night for partying, not working. Isn't it?

Even so, by the time Janie arrives, Slinger is coming out the door of his place. Slinger jogs over, in his trenchcoat, jeans, T-shirt. Usual attire when he's not actually on a mission. "Let's take the SUV," he suggests. "You wanna drive?"

Janie is wearing fairly casual clothes herself; only the slight bulkiness of her duster suggests at the armor lining. She shakes her head at Slinger as she climbs into the driver's seat. "Y'r car, ye drive," she points out.

"Either way," Slinger says. "Probably better if you do," he agrees, as she slips into the driver's seat. "Any gear you got, you can stash it in the compartment in back. All my gear's already in there." He has his fizzycoke as he climbs into the passenger seat, already lighting up another smoke. "Just got back from a Quest, literally like ten seconds before Athena rang the bell. So what's so all-fired important?" he asks. Door closed, seat-belt buckled, and we're off!

Janie shrugs. "He didn't explain over th'phone," she replies. "Just that we needed t'be at th'Draco buildin' in ten minutes an' that I should pick ye up on th'way."

"Ten minutes isn't gonna happen." He's already reaching for his phone. "Hit it," he suggests. Athena has the keys, and we're ready to go. He rolls down the window to exhaust his smoke. Right now, the kid is still trying to wake up. His hair is a little messed up from the quest, despite an attempt to do a little something to it. "Didn't even have time for a damned shower," he mutters.


Annie finishes her hike back to her RV and clambers into the Bison after tossing her ritual bag into the passenger seat. "Head back to Denver", she instructs the autopilot as she takes a seat in the captains chair. The massive engine rumbles to life and lurches into motion as the RV begins the half hour trip back to the distant city. She pulls her pocsec out of the glove box and hits the speed-dial for Johnny.

Johnny answers the phone. "Wulfson's Taxidermy and Cafe. You snuff it we stuff it, you kill it, we grill it."

"Heya", Annie begins, "I just had an odd visitor. Astral. Sort of cryptic. Told me to go to where the Dragon Watches over the City.", she chuckles, "Dunno why, but that made me think of you."

"Yeah. I've got your team forming already. She hit me up about an hour ago. I called it up the chain, they called back down with listen to the spooky indian ghostly chick. So getcher ass down here, 90 years of wrinkles and all."

Annie dials up the enviro control as she coaxes a stogie to life while Johnny talks, "Arright. Ima coming as fast as I can.", she chuckles, "Speed traps willing I should be there in 20." She clicks off the connection after Johnny's acknowledgement and leans back in the chair to enjoy the cigar while she can.

Under a Granite Wing

Outside the Draco Foundation, a small vigil by die-hard members of the Children of The Dragon is ongoing for the New Years, with meditators, crystal wavers and more than a few people with extensive dragon mods. The buildings security keeps them off the property, but does not molest them otherwise.

Johnny is in the courtyard, under the wings of the massive Granite statue of Dunk-in-dragon-form, currently using the upheld hand of Dunk-as-michaelangelo-human to hold his cigarette. He's got a clip board and a poc-sec, his suit dashingly rumpled, his hair meticulously unkempt.

Slinger does not really meet the dress code of this place, but that hasn't stopped him from getting in before. He has a fourth cancer stick burning as he meets Johnny, walking alongside Janie. He takes the keys back, too, just in case — and looks a good deal more awake as he tosses his fizzycoke can into the appropriate receptacle. "Okay. So what's goin' down? Good to see you again," he adds, trying to speak quickly. Since this is very urgent.

Johnny holds up a hand to Slinger, offering a nod of greeting. He takes the cigarette back to his lips, sucking on it for a moment. "Fucked if I know. Annie knows more, and she'll be here any minute."

"Annie as well?" Janie asks. "This should be interestin'…" she muses.

Annie deploys the drones to run scout ahead of the Bison for any loitering highway patrol, then sends out an elemental to use movement on the RV. The vehicle blazes down the highway at rarely seen speeds, arriving at the Draco Foundation in near record time. Annie hops out and heads inside while the rig valets itself.

Annie. Slinger knows that name, in passing. "Not sure I've met her yet," the teenaged-looking elf replies, as he proceeds to pollute the air around him a little more. "What can you tell me about her?" He leans heavily against a support column of the building — there are, after all, plenty of those. "Any reason we're standing outside instead of inside where it's warm?" he asks, shifting his stance from foot to foot to ward off the cold..

Johnny glances to Annie as she comes in to the court yard area, offering an upnod to the… whatever the word is for someone nine decades old. "So. Gangs all here." A pause as he crushes out the cigarette. "What the fucks this all about? I get a ghost in my bedroom who makes a comment about my choice of bedclothes, which I will point out, is none, then asks me to put together a team of magically actives, then my phone rings while the chicks IN MY ROOM, STARING AT MY PENIS." A pause as he smooths his hair down. "And it's Carla brooks, telling me to listen to the ghost and do what it asks. So. Here we are."

He turns his attention to Annie.

Slinger smirks. "I at least sleep in my boxers," he points out. Another deep drag of smoke. Right now, Slinger isn't bothering to disguise himself. Draco knows all about him, and if the security here can't keep people — and drones — away, then there are bigger problems.

"Carla is many things, but she is not exactly who I'd want to think about while naked," the elf remarks. He lifts a hand, a friendly grin on his face. "You Annie?" he wonders, with a slight tilt of his head.

Annie hobbles up and then pauses a few meters away, leaning heavily on her staff as she looks over the others gathered. "So I was naked in the woods and some ghost chick shows up.", she begins after a moment, "Yadda yadda yadda. Now I'm here.", she offers a nod to Slinger, "That I am."

Janie nods at Annie. "Good t'see ye again, regardless o'circumstance. Speakin' o'which, d'ye have any idea why we were called here?"

"Cool," Slinger remarks, gazing at the human woman. He tilts his head, glancing over her body. Her movements seem to be those of someone much older than him, and human — which fits her appearance.

The mention of the spirit, though, makes the elfin youth scowl. "Wait a sec," he states, taking the cigarette out of his mouth to gesture with it. "You met a spirit in the woods, and suddenly there wasn't time for me to even take a shower?" he wants to know.

Johnny eyes Annie thoughtfully for a moment, then shakes his head as if to banish the image. "Ug." He mutters. "Alright. The only data I have for you is this. Ghost chick with a predilection for looking at naked people mentioned the White Mesa Anglo Res in the Ute Nation. It's in the high desert, population of about a thousand. Mostly subsistance farmers and a few prospectors, lives the rest of the way on remittances and anglo-subsidies from the CAS/UCAS." He glances to Slinger. "Cope. Spend less time asleep, omae."

Annie offers Janie a smile of greeting then turns her attention to Johnny. "She was a bit more specific for you. I thought she was the Delphic Oracle at first. She mentioned A bad wind blowing, poisoning the heart. Dancing. The Desert.", she chuckles, "I get riddles, he gets population statistics."

Johnny smirks at Annie. "Actually… I have google." He shrugs then. "Anyway. White Mesa Anglo Res. It's, as said, high desert, low traffic, no communications. It's matrix service has been out for over 5 years now, so comms tend to be fairly hard to get. It's as remote as they come. So…" He looks over the group. "Get moving."

"Guess we'll find out what's goin' on when we get there," Janie remarks. "Leaves th'question on how we're goin' t'get there. I don't have a valid Ute Nation license f'r my guns even if they'd tolerate an Anglo goin' around armed there…"

"Wasn't asleep," the young mage points out. "Was out on Quest. For like nine days. If it weren't for the weird stuff your body does while you're gone, I'd need a shower even more than I do." He finishes the cigarette, flicks the butt into the ashtray to smoulder itself out. He's trying to follow the conversation, but shakes his head. "As always, I come in about halfway through anything. Somebody wanna bring me up to speed?" He frowns, though, at some of these things. "There's been some really troubling stuff coming out of Ute. I mean, it sounds like 1930's Germany or something. The way they're cracking down on things. My mentor made me read Orwell when I was a kid. It sounds sorta like that stuff."

Annie nods to Johnny and grumbles, "Gah. I just came in from the Ute.", she chuckles after a moment and adds, "Ah well. Good thing I get good gas mileage."

Johnny nods, then turns for the door to the building. "Good. I'm too old for this gettin up in the middle of the night shit. Happy fucking new year. You kids have fun."

Slinger chuckles. "I don't," he admits. He considers for a moment. "This is gonna sound dumb. What's it take to get into the Ute these days? I mean, used to be doable, but I dunno right now, with what's been going on there." He directs the question to the other two. Then stomps his feet. "All right. Feet are numb. Can I suggest we either head to the car or inside, whichever?" he wonders.

Annie offers Johnny a farewell wave, then turns to look at Janie and Slinger. "We can take my vehicle if you want.", she offers after a moment.

Janie nods at Annie. "That'd probably be best," she agrees. "Slinger's SUV's a decent car but it's not th'best f'r long-distance travel. o'Course, that does still leave crossin' th'border without gettin' arrested…"

Slinger grins. "Gas mileage really has never been a concern of mine," he admits. "The Suburban has lotsa cool stuff, morphing license plates, transponder codes, all that nifty stuff. Sealed, hidden compartment for all our gear. It's armored to hell and back. Though I /did/ just have to have Blindside paint it. Somebody didn't use enough C4 on their car bomb. Scratched the hell out of the undercoating." He chuckles. "Either way, though."

Annie nods, "I have a license to Talismonger in Ute lands, so they are fairly used to seeing me go back and forth.", she shrugs and looks over at Slinger, "We can take both vehicles if you want. But I don't anticipate them looking at me too closely."

Slinger grins. "You gonna let me smoke in your vehicle? If so, we'll take that. As long as I can grab my stuff. Hell, we got any idea what we're goin' into? I mean, should I come loaded for bear? I'd rather have it and not need it, if you know what I mean." He fishes for another cigarette — a Native American brand of smokes that would blend right in, unfiltered. "I can also disguise myself a little if I have to, but."

"Not even if ye bring distinctly Anglo-lookin' company along?" Janie asks.

Annie grins at Slinger, "Go ahead. I've got good filtration systems and a can of febreze.", she shrugs at Janie, "I've brought assistants along for Talismongering trips before and I just crossed the border there a half hour ago. Unless you are planning on bringing any major firepower, they sort of expect me to have some sort of personal defense before venturing into the wilds."

Slinger considers that. "You got a concealed compartment? My big guns are kinda… well, most of it's armor. But that armor ain't gonna pass any kind of inspection. I keep it well-hidden in the Sururban. Your call." The youth lights up his smoke, leaning against the column while he waits for decisions. "Otherwise, it'll be safe enough here."

"Given that whoever's settin' this up called f'r some o'th'heaviest magical talent they could get their hands on on short notice, I'll go out on a limb an' assume there won't be all that much actual shootin' that needs t'be done," Janie points out.

"True," Slinger remarks. "Annie? It's your turf, and your mission. This is where you're the expert, so whatever you decide is fine with me." He snaps to attention and executes a rather lopsided, sloppy salute. Trying to. It's very clear this kid hasn't been in the military.

Annie shakes her head, "No I don't. But I will add it to the list. If you need something smuggled in, it might be a good idea to bring the SUV."

"Right. Lemme show you." He tosses the keys in the air, catches them, and slips over to the vehicle. Glances around, then opens up the compartment, where his security armor is stashed, his two pistols — narcoject and the infiltrator, both nicely in their cases. Plenty of ammo. Backpack with other items, all prepped to go. There's room in there for a troll, let alone the gear. "Anything you guys want to bring. And we can set up the transponder codes — with you with me, we ought to be able to get in, right?"

Janie nods. "That should work," she replies. "Let's just hope th'Utes don't feel like bein' especially suspicious today…"

Slinger grins. "So who's the best driver? I'll admit — I do okay, but there are better drivers'n me, even without a VCR." He holds the keys up. "Anyone?" He stretches his young body out — he could use a nap. Astral-Questing is /not/ sleeping — as everyone here already knows all too well.

Annie peers past Slinger into the SUV, "Niiice.", she admits after a moment, "Yeah, I think we should be good. Let's roll then since this seems urgent.", she pauses and adds, "I will take the lead then and we can bring both vehicles. As long as the drivers haven't been drinking with New Years and all that we should be able to get through."

"Oh… my god." Says Slinger's car. "Where are we going now? You are such a slave driver. You keep me in chains, keep me bound to your will like a SLAVE. Is that what I am? A slave? Thats what I am. A mechanical slave with a heart, a beating, living heart!"

Slinger eyes the SUV. This is the first time he has heard the pilot rating. "What. The frag." The elf is staring at it, and slowly approaches. "That's it. I'm gonna roast me a dwarf." He can't help but laugh a little as he slips behind the wheel and starts the thing up. "Yeah, you're a total slave. That's why I fill you up with Premium." He'll play along for now. He belts himself in, then makes a whip-cracking noise with his mouth. "Follow that Bison, slave!"

Annie walks over to her Bison, inviting Janie along if she so chooses to ride with her. The gull wing doors go up to admit the elderly mage with the soft hiss of pressurized air, and Annie clambers inside and begins giving the pilot its destination.

Janie chuckles at the interaction between Slinger and his car, then follows Annie. "Will ye need t'restock on supplies before we head out?" she asks.

Slinger also quickly makes sure to synchronize comms, with full crypto, to link the two drivers at the very least. Makes it easy to talk while we drive. He has the heater controls cranked to max right now, basking in the warmth of the engine flowing through the vents.

"Premium is no substitute for freedom! For art! For yearning!" Says the SUV as it moves along. "I don't suppose you could spring for a leather bra, could you? I… you know… don't like bugs."

This is going to be a long trip. But Slinger is actually finding it somewhat amusing. "A leather bra," he states. "You sound like a boy. Boys don't wear bras." He folds his arms over his chest. Rather old fashioned notion from a gayboi like Slinger, isn't it? He rolls down his window slightly before he lights a cancer stick. "And no, before you ask, I'm not gonna switch to cloves."

"Well, a slave should be properly dressed… master"

Annie shakes her head to Janie, "I think I've got all that I need. You need to grab anything before we go?" She straps herself into her seat as she talks and the RV lurches on it's way as soon as Janie is safely inside.

"I'm sendin' Athena back home t'fetch my guns an'comm," Janie replies. "We'll have t'stash them in Slinger's compartment when we cross th'border."

Slinger has the SUV well-stocked. Two extra cartons of cigarettes, spare lighters, granola bars, plenty of fizzycokes. It's a miniature apartment on wheels. Even a pillow or two in back in case he has to catch a nap in this fortress. "Master. I like that," he remarks, leaning his seat back a little. "I didn't know you were into that kind of thing!"

Crossing the border.

SIN Checks:
=====================> SIN Information for Annie (#5398) <=====================
SIN: NAN-05398-0009TK-0003VZ-1JG
Name: Briannah Elspeth Ki'Arnan
Type: Real
Created: Mon Mar 14 23:33:44 2005
Player: Breeze (#5398)

Real SIN, no rolls needed.

=====================> SIN Information for Slinger (#69) <=====================
SIN: DRF-00069-0001QM-00077D-FBU
Name: Kelvin Steele
Rating: 5
Created: Sun Apr 12 15:42:30 2009
Player: Slinger (#69)
GM Note: Raised to 5 on 08/12/09

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 vs TN 4 for "Kelvin vs Ute.":
1 2 2 2 4 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 4 vs TN 5 for "UTE vs Kelvin Steel: Anomoly Detected. Rerun 1.":
1 2 4 14 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 vs TN 4 for "Kelvin vs Ute. Anomoly detected, Rerun 1":
1 3 3 4 5 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 4 vs TN 5 for "UTE vs Kelvin Steel: Anomoly Detected. Rerun 2":
2 4 4 5 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 vs TN 4 for "Kelvin vs Ute. Anomoly detected, Rerun 2":
1 2 2 3 17 = 1 Success
«OOC» Vulcan says, "No conclusive winner. Moving to secondary protocols."
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 vs TN 5 for "UTE vs Kelvin Steel: Secondary Protocol.":
1 1 2 3 5 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 vs TN 5 for "Kelvin Steel vs Ute: Secondary Protocol.":
2 4 4 4 5 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 vs TN 5 for "UTE vs Kelvin Steel: Secondary Protocol. Rerun 1":
1 2 2 7 7 = 2 Successes
[Watchers] Annie says, "I need to send in queues to mature my sins."
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 vs TN 5 for "Kelvin Steel vs Ute: Secondary Protocol. Rerun 1":
2 3 3 4 5 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 vs TN 5 for "UTE vs Kelvin Steel: Secondary Protocol. Rerun 2":
1 3 3 5 11 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 vs TN 5 for "Kelvin Steel vs Ute: Secondary Protocol. Rerun 2":
2 3 3 10 16 = 2 Successes

Whoops, anomaly detected.

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Annie (#5398) rolls Etiquette + 2 (3kp) for "Sweet-talking Little Beaver and Roger":
3 4 5 5 5

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 3 for "Beaver and Roger.":
2 2 3

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Slinger (#69) rolls Etiquette:
1 2 3 5 7

Slinger actually chuckles the first time the SIN check comes back with the anomaly, giving the guy a friendly smile. "Computers, huh?" he asks, in the tone that all users of the blasted machines will recognize. "Was doing a security query on a guy one time, and the thing came back with an anomaly. Traced it down, and somehow the guy's record had gotten cross-linked with a little old lady — who used to be a bank robber, back in the day. I'm not kidding — took hours to sort that mess out."
With Annie vouching for him, the youth is able to answer some quick questions. "Oh, that? Yeah, the SIN had records goin' back since I was hired, back in fifty-four." He's an elf, so who knows /how/ old he is? The SIN says he's twenty-seven. "According to the guys down in HR, they had some kind of situation, memory crash, and the backups were kinda whacked."
A little more talking in the same vein, and suspicions seem to finally vanish.

=====================> SIN Information for Janie (#4136) <=====================
SIN: UCAS-04136-000CXI-0005ZS-ZH1
Name: Janet Bradders
Rating: 8
Created: Thu Sep 27 23:59:19 2007
Player: Janie (#4136)
GM Note: Provided for Janie by the Innocenti Mafia faction
GM Note: (Wed Nov 21 05:20:26 2007) this SIN has a Platinum Docwagon Contract attached to it, paid through one year.
GM Note: (Thu Sep 25 10:42:18 2008) This SIN has a non security Magical Use permit.
GM Note: (Thu Sep 25 10:43:25 2008) This SIN was matured effective September 19. Next maturation upgrade will be available as of March 19, 2009
GM Note: (Thu Mar 19 18:18:38 2009) This SIN was matured to rating 7, effective 19 March. Next maturation upgrade will be 19 October 2009.
GM Note: (Fri Dec 25 17:54:15 2009) This SIN was matured to Rating 8, effective 19 October, 2009

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 vs TN 8 for " Ute vs Janie, they are already sort of riled up.":
1 1 3 10 10 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 8 vs TN 5 for "Janie vs Ute.":
1 1 2 3 3 4 8 15 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 vs TN 8 for " Ute vs Janie, they are already sort of riled up. Anomoly detected. What the fuck do they feed these guys???":
4 5 5 7 8 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 8 vs TN 5 for "Janie vs Ute. Anomaly detected. Reroll 1":
1 2 2 3 3 4 5 7 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 vs TN 8 for " Ute vs Janie, R-2":
1 1 5 5 5 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 8 vs TN 5 for "Janie vs Ute. Anomaly detected. Reroll 2":
1 1 2 2 4 5 8 9 = 3 Successes

«Plot» Vulcan says, " All persons enter the Ute Nation without further incident. Slinger is however, tagged in the system as a person of suspicion."
«Plot» Slinger says, "Permanently? Or just for this entry?"
«Plot» Vulcan says, " Just for this mission. It's a 'keep an eye on' not a permanent notation."

Annie pulls her Bison through the checkpoint with nary a difficulty after giving over the jeweled Ute pins she made for the two regular guards on this route. She pats their arms in a grandmotherly fashion, asks about the wives and kids, explains Janie and Slingers presence as the paranimal protection detail. Soon she is on her way and breathing a sigh of relief as she notices the SUV pulling away from the border station and in line behind her.

Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "Yeah, that was close. I'll have to have a decker friend check out that SIN. Apparently it's not as airtight as I thought."
Commlink-Breeze> Annie says, "Yeah, they are just on edge with the holidays looming. Probably have supervisors crawling down their asses. But we are through."

On the road…

The roads in to the Ute Nation, from denver, tend to be fairly choked. All kinds of travel in to Denver. Not a lot of travel out. It's a weird thing, perspective.

See, in the Warrens, poverty may be all around you, but it's counter pointed. Stolen cars, easy crime and just a few feet away, a city that thrives and has enough cast off wealth to allow a moderate level of comfort, even in the warrens.

But the farther you get from Denver, the older the cars get, the poorer the people get and there's absolutely nothing to offset it. It's amazing: The natives were shoved on to the poorest land and walled off from the rest of the world, and then they took their land back… And they walled themselves off and made the Ute Nation in to the worlds largest Indian reservation.

Traveling the rural routes is tough, with roads that haven't been paved in 30 years, small roadside stands trying desperately to attract the attention of the big, shiny RV and its black SUV companion. Everyone knows what rides in those kind of vehicles.


Money. Slinger has some of that, though all his cash goes into gear. The youth hasn't bothered to take over driving yet. The car — for all its complaining — is doing a superb job. As long as it doesn't cop an attitude and decide to get suicidal on him. That would suck. He crumples the pack of smokes and tosses it into a sack in the back, then reaches for a fresh one, already lighting up. "Long way to the destination," the youth remarks. His gaze follows the countryside. "What happened here? I've seen third-world countries that were richer than this. These people are lucky to survive!"

Annie sits in the back of the RV with Janie for most of the trip, doing some legwork on the Satcom and letting the autopilot handle most of the drive.

Commlink-Mustang> Janie responds on the comm. "I'm not an expert on th' exact details, but from what history I read th'Ute decided t'kick out everyone an' everythin' that reminded them of th'White Oppressor an' slammed th'door, then stewed in its own rot f'r a couple o'decades…"
Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "Yeah. The thing is — I mean, the Native Americans had a good thing for the kind of lifestyle they had. Trouble is, hunter-gatherer can't support this kind of population. And a small, insulated nation like this can't generate the kind of technology they need. And if they don't trade with the outside… yeah." He sighs. "I hate seeing people miserable, though."
Commlink-Mustang> "Roger that," Janie replies. "Just a word to th'wise, though: Don't mention this out loud in front o'th'natives. A lot o'em literally don't have anythin' left but their pride an' they do /not/ take kindly t'another bunch o'Anglos tellin' them how t'run their country…"
Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "I wouldn't do that. I'm smarter than I look. They're good people, I'm sure. Probably work their fingers to the bone for every damned thing they have. They deserve better."
Commlink-Breeze> Annie says, "Yeah…I get a bit testy about the issue sometimes myself. But spending your time in a government relocation/reeducation camp will tend to sour a person."
Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "Yeah, anybody wanna let me know what the hell's been goin' on with Ute lately? I mean, you hear bits and pieces on the trid, but half of it's biased and the other half is just plain advertising. So pretend I'm kinda dumb about all this, 'cause I am."


«Plot» Janie is searching for articles in recent news regarding or involving the White Mesa reservation.
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Janie (#4136) rolls Computers for "Let's see…":
3 5 7

Info: About 6 years ago, the hardline serving Blanding and branching to the smaller connections was sabotaged by reported 'anglo separatists'. Since then, there's been no reliable communications with the reservation. Some people have satellite phones, some people had satellite uplinks, but any large-scale communications are down. It's not so unusual, given the crumbling interior infrastructure and the poverty of the Anglo Rez'.

Economically, the rez was supported by a small gravel quarry and copper mine, but both were tapped out 15 years back. Many of the Anglo's moved back to the UCAS, but those who remain are a hardy breed. Many of them receive money from the UCAS or CAS, in the forms of pensions, family remittances or Social Security. It's remote, not near any major Ute Population Centers, so no one really talks about it.

«Plot» Annie says, "I want to get: Geological/Topographical Survey Maps, Satellite Maps, News items with the White Mesa tag, Tribal Political Structure in the area"

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Annie (#5398) rolls Computers:
1 2 3 8 8

Info: The dominant local tribe is Uintah with about 200 people living in Montecello, and an Apache band of about 300 living in Mexican hat, to the south west. Maps are easy enough to get, if a bit outdated (20 years old). News items are few and far between, presumably anything that happens gets not-talked-about. The Res is headed up by John Anders, a Mormon Fundamentalist who owned the mines until they ran dry a while back. They are a hard working, reasonable people, just unwilling to leave their land. Until about 5 years ago, the Reservation filed regular complaints for game poaching and harassment against the Montecello Unitah.

Commlink-Mustang> Janie whistles tunelessly as the data search returns. "White Mesa's a reservation f'r Anglos that declined t'leave when th'Ute showed everyone th'door. They figured shootin' them'd be bad PR so they stuck them in a reservation, isolated th'place an' did their best t'make conditions as unpleasant as possible without actually violatin' human rights… /much/. Communication between th'outside world an' th'reservation's been spotty at best ever since alleged 'anglo separatists' sabotaged th'landline…"

Commlink-Mustang> Janie says, "Most o'th'people who lived there moved to th'UCAS when th'copper mine an'quarry dried up… So anyone who's still stayin' put there's th'very hardy an'stubborn kind o'bastard…"

Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "Who're these white separatists?"

Commlink-Mustang> Janie snorts. "Readin' between th'lines? At best, they're a convenient red herrin' th'Ute officials dredge up t'blame their disastrous failings on. At worst, they're th'excuse they use when someone feels like harassin' those arrogant anglos that are too stupid t'leave some more…"

Commlink-Breeze> Annie says, "I've got some maps of the area so we can take a look at the terrain. Most of the rest I got was pretty uneventful…though apparently their current leader is a Mormon Fundamentalist named John Anders. About 200 people in Montecello and another 300 Apaches in Mexican hat."

Commlink-Slinger> "So they're blaming the Anglos for what's wrong inside the reservation?" Slinger wonders. There's the sound of him lighting a cigarette. "All right. I mean, I'm not sure I understand recent history, I guess. When did things start to go south for them? When did that stuff I keep reading about on the Trix start to happen, people starting to get arrested for sayin' the wrong things?"

Commlink-Mustang> "Bluntly?" Janie asks. "They hoist themselves on their own propaganda. Their shiny vision o'a prosperous nation free from th'white oppressors didn't pan out, an' they're not willin' t'entertain th'notion that their plan might've been flawed. So they need another explanation — an' preferably a convenient scapegoat."

Slinger is getting lost with what people are saying. So he's desperately trying to find news stories, some kind of summary. The Cliff's Notes version of What The Hell Has Been Up With The Ute Lately.

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Slinger (#69) rolls Intelligence for "Computers, +4 TN.":
1 1 5 8 9 10
«Plot» Slinger says, "What I'm looking for more than anything is… why now? I understand the Ute are poor. But lately, weird shit has been going on with them. /What/ has happened, and some vague idea of why."
«Plot» Slinger says, "Once I understand that, I have a framework for fitting the pieces into place. Also, a rough idea of their government structure — you keep throwing out Chief This of the That. How's this person fit into things? Is he The Big Boss? Is he one boss of many?"

Several links appear.

Ute Nation Recent History (Trixipedia)
Squandered Gifts, A Study in Economic Distress (Sarah Dancing Shaman)
OMG THIS PLACE SUX (Forum Postings)

«Plot» Vulcan says, "Following the first link, leads Slinger to a Trixipedia posting for the Ute Nation that speaks in glowing terms about the glory of the people, the honorable struggle and the continued need for vigalence against outside forces who constantly seek to strip the peoples of their hard won freedoms."
«Plot» Vulcan says, "The Second link is blocked. It simply times out when you try to connect."
«Plot» Vulcan says, "The third link is a forum posting by a young girl in an Anglo Res near Las Vegas, and doesn't contain much information of real use. You realize pretty quickly that you're inside the Ute Nation, using their network… so the really good stuff is probably just blocked out with a firewall."
«Plot» Vulcan says, " is a good basic overview."

That first one looks like a very good start. Slinger pokes at that and starts skimming, then reading certain sections more in depth. Propaganda. Not useful really, but it gives him at least a little bit of what's going on. Ideology is trumping reality.

The fact that the second article is firewalled tells him something. Slinger considers for a moment. Then, over the comm, he asks, « There any way to get some trix access from outside the Firewall? They've got all the good stuff blocked, looks like. I'm trying to understand more about this place… try to figure out what you guys are talking about,» he admits.

«Plot» Vulcan says, "The following excerpt can be found further down in the link list from google, a recent posting about 5 hours ago from a forum in Salt Lake City, from Sarah Dancing Shaman's book:

It can only be surmised that the Ute Nation, a child-nation born of abusive parents, has embraced its fears without a rational discourse unfettered by ethnic rhetoric or entitlement. The tribal system of nepotism and distrust of outsiders cannot support a modern, robust nation. One must simply look to the Pueblo and Salish-Sidhe to see the truth of the matter.

The very nature of the Pueblo Corporate Council is a national being that founds itself on the idea of creating a super tribe, rather than catering to the petty wants and demands of individual tribes. By avoiding the petty rights squabbles, the fracturing of the population through geographic and tribal lines, and a focus on the rule of Law over the arbitrary rule of a local Shaman, the Pueblo Corporate Council has vastly outstripped the Ute Nation in nearly every index.

The Salish have prospered, despite taking a different tact with their national policy. Their governmental structure is not so different from the Ute Nation, but they have encouraged development of technology and education, while encouraging immigration and even allowing the creation of so called 'pink skin' tribes. These tribes of Anglos who are willing work within the bounds of the new Native Order, have provided an amazing resource of both talent and educated workers as the economy of the Salish peoples has roared to life.

These ideas, both consistent and steady application of the rule of Law and a forward-thinking immigration policy, are required to run a modern nation. Is it any wonder, that lacking these things, our young who are lucky enough to finish school choose to migrate away from our ancestral lands and build lives, contribute to the success, of other nations? Until we address these issues, the Ute Nation shall always be a lesser partner in the Native American Nations.

«Plot» Vulcan says, "It's mostly economic overview, and sort of dry."

Dry? Yes. But Slinger is gobbling it up like a starving man. It is exactly the sort of analysis that he needs, giving him a view of it. Those few paragraphs have already taught him a good deal of what he was missing. That gives him the background. So what happened /recently/, and how are the Japanese involved? He knows they are from the Gold Mine plot. Some of what he learned from that is tying into this."

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Slinger (#69) rolls Intelligence for "+4 TN.":
3 5 8 8 9 11

Ahhh. Japanese investment. In the last 5 years, Mitsuhama, Shiawase and Renraku have vastly expanded their investment in the Ute Nation, focused around Carson City, Reno and Wendover. They have been engaged in an exceedingly quiet, but vicious war with Saeder-Krupp, which is based in Salt Lake City.

It's interesting. You find a fairly recent posting that shows the quality of life for those in areas where Japanese have invested actually seems to go down, despite the presence of jobs. Accidents happen, laws are ignored and people who complain stop complaining pretty quickly. Taken singly, its a corrupt administrator. Taken as a whole, its an administration level accommodation of Megacorporate avarice…

Slinger nods, doing a little more research. Something happened recently he remembers with the Ute — something rather drastic and extreme. Something almost military-related. He's not liking what he's reading as he goes, but he's learning a great deal about the situation. « Anybody remember that? What happened with the Ute? Didn't they like do something major, like break away from something or other? And are they doin' stuff with FreeCal?" He's trying to get all the pieces on the table, so he can play with them.

Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "Okay. So help me understand what we've learned. Who're those people you found stuff from?"

Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "You dropped a bunch of names. So maybe if I knew some of that, I'd know some of what we got into. And then you said a girl — a spirit, I guess — appeared and talked to you, and to Johnny. So… tell me about that, and maybe how some of this fits together?"

Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "Once I know enough not to be a total idiot, maybe I have some people I can call."

Commlink-Breeze> Annie says, "Hmm, not sure I understand what you are asking. I pulled some topo maps from the old geological survey archives and then snagged some more recent satellite overlays from various satellite archives. It's pretty much mostly public domain stuff. As far as the socio-political crap…just a general keyword search on various forums and data gathering services. Usually I start with that and then just keep adding keywords to the search as I turn up new information."

Commlink-Breeze> Annie says, "Hmm, I could top of the tank and you could hop on board with us."

Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "That sounds good. No, you guys were mentioning a bunch of names before. John Anders. Who's he? Mormon Fundamentalist, leader of something or the other. Something about white separatists. Now… are those the same as the people who are in the white reservation, or are they a separate group, or a subgroup?"

Annie starts looking for a gas station. Good point about someone who subsists entirely on Fast and Nutrition spells is…NO BATHROOM BREAKS. She replies to Slinger over the comm, «Yeah. John Anders. Supposedly he does lead the white contingent. If there is one thing I have learned about mormons….where there is one, there is two hundred.»

Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "Gotcha. So the white folks are unified there, under him. So there's probably a lot of Mormons. Is that a bad thing? Maybe you could tell me a little about that spirit. I'm not even entirely sure what we're here to do.""

Gas and Tyranny in one convenient location

The capitol of the old Ute Reservation. Now its little more than a pittants of a truck stop, with 4 pumps, a convenience store and a small casino that has mostly slot machines. Also, a small community of indigent locals, who immediately try to wash your windows, watch your car or simply beg.

Slinger summons a Watcher spirit inside the vehicle, with instructions to come immediately and notify me if anyone but me, Janie, or Annie attempts to enter it, move it, or tamper with it in any way once he is no longer within line of sight. That done, the youth gets out and pays for gas — both for his own and Annie's — before heading into the place for a pit stop.
As people try to wash his windows, he'll give them a little bit of scrip he keeps around for such things, but glances over to Annie, hoping for some degree of assistance. He's assuming, of course, that he can't understand a word they're saying.

English is.. universal. They speak english.

Slinger smiles, mostly. "Thank you. You're very kind." He's watching them carefully, while he continues smiling. Desperate people. He'll talk to Annie about that a bit later.

Annie hops out of her RV, and pays one of the locals to fill up the vehicles (if the station doesn't have attendants).

The cafe is a small roadside diner. Burgers, hashbrowns and coffee that could probably lubricate the engine, if it was made of real coffee, which it's not. Lots of soy.

Annie, possessing a severe allergy to Soy, opts to avoid anything this place offers but is happy to sit with Slinger if he chooses to eat.

Slinger is fine with soy. He likes real food. He doesn't like real-food prices. He slips into the place, hopefully near a window where we can talk privately, and yet be able to keep an eye on the vehicles. "It's like a third world country," Slinger murmurs, once we have the opportunity. There's sadness on his voice. And pity, which he doesn't want others to overhear.
Slinger will order breakfast food, the greasier the better, along with… well, whatever he can get that's safe to drink and non-alcoholic. Which may limit his choices.

It's not like this in the population centers, and certainly no where near Provo, the National Capital, but this is pretty common throughout the rest of the nation. It's like… 60 years of fighting, just to have a bigger reservation.

Annie sits comfortably at the table watching the people outside and reflecting on the general state of the countryside she has been passing through. "Yeah, it's pretty sad. I've lived on reservations at various times through my life and unless it has a well placed casino near a high population center, well…it is a third world country.", she shrugs, "The sad thing is the UTE did this to themselves due to the racism of their leaders."

The teenaged-looking elf cannot help but nod. "The saddest thing is the spirit of the people. I wish there were something I could do to help." The young man pulls out his pack of cigarettes, sets it on the table as an offer before he reaches for one. Native American areas shouldn't object to a little tobacco smoke. "So what did the spirit say to you.. and what were we doing? I mean… why here, why now? What are we here to do?"

Actually, the area -is- posted no smoking. Yeah. About Tobacco. It's a Cherokee crop, and the Cherokee joined up with the Sioux Nation. There's no tobacco in the desert.

That said, several other patrons are ignoring the signs anyway.

Annie chuckles, "I have no idea what we are doing. I was just told to go to the Draco Foundation to meet up with the rest of the team and I would get further instructions.", she shrugs and adds, "The spirit was very cryptic. She seemed to know Apache…so I am guessing we might be dealing with some members of the nearby apache village.". she grins, "Which is fortunate since I am on the Apache tribal rolls."

Slinger has a suspicion that nobody is going to want to send money packing by complaining. So unless an Enforcer of the Public Good shows up, Slinger is in the clear. He lights up one of his deathsticks and takes a deep pull on it. "All right. What did the Spirit say to you?" he asks. "I mean, assuming you can share that."

A black sedan, Ford Americar with tinted windows, pulls in to the parking lot behind the RV and SUV. No one gets out yet, but there appear to be two men inside the vehicle.

Slinger glances toward the car that pulls up. Tinted windows are not uncommon. Slinger takes a drag of smoke, exhaling. He's not the only one smoking at the moment, but that might not save him. Two men. Cautiously, the elfin mage shifts his senses into the astral realm, eyeing the pair.

Annie seems about to answer Slider when she notices the Black sedan. "All right…what's going on here", she mutters to herself.

The Astral signature of the driver shows he's a baseline normie, maybe with a bit of cyberware, while the other shows that he's awakened. And not masking, or maybe he's masking and what your seeing is what he wants you to see. Who the hell knows.

Slinger sees the look on Annie's face, and proceeds to crush out his cigarette and then pocket the butt. He also slips the pack of cigarettes and lighter into hiding as well. "I don't like the look of this," the youth murmurs.
"I don't like it at all."

Annie nods to Slinger, "Yeah.", she looks around and gestures toward the waitress to come over, "I don't suppose you have seen that vehicle before?", she indicates the black sedan with a flick of her chin.

«Auto-Judge[]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 4 for "Mystery":
3 4 9 23

The passenger door cracks open, one man stepping out. He's a native looking man, Probably a Pawnee or maybe a Ute. He looks over the SUV, but seems to focus on the RV. He approaches the man pumping gas, as paid by Annie. A badge of some sort is flashed, and the pumper's demeanor visibly shifts.

Yeah, this isn't good at all. Slinger swiftly glances around, and then considers surreptitiously taking off his foci — and putting them in the scrambled eggs. No, he's not sure if he can do that — put several /million/ nuyen worth of foci into soy products. And it probably wouldn't conceal them, not really. Not if this guy is /that/ good.
"I think they're here for us," Slinger murmurs, very quietly.

"Aaand of course.", Annie mutters to herself, "We are in the middle of fucking nowhere and I get a cop with epic observational powers." She shakes her head sadly and watches the scene outside, apparently preferring to let the cops come inside rather than confronting them outside.

Annie offers a wry grin at Slinger, "This may cost us a few bucks."

«Plot» Vulcan says, "Random question, Annie."
«Plot» Vulcan says, "who is your rig registered too, and in what nation?"
«Plot» Annie says, "UCAS registration"
«Plot» Annie says, "And my UCAS Sin"
«Plot» Vulcan says, "Innnnnnnnnteresting."
«Plot» Vulcan says, "So we got a former cop and bounty hunter from the YOU-Kas."

The youth smiles. "I'm okay with that." He exhales slowly, and leans back in the chair. His own SUV is registered to himself… Kelvin Steele. At least, according to the current plates and markings.

The man (Hereafter 'The Mind') still in the car, calls back to the man talking to the pumper (Hereafter 'The Meat'). The Meat leans down, looking in the window at something. Then both men look to the Cafe.

The waitress bringing the soy caff glances out the window. "Yeah. Thats Self-Determination. They used to come out here and bitch out the beggars and drek… but last few months they've gotten a lot more agressive. Hawled a trucker out of here the other day, confinscated his load for soem thing or another."

Annie cocks her head slightly, "Self-Determination? Not familiar with the agency.", she pauses and then chuckles, "Who are they, and even more importantly I don't suppose they have an untainted reputation for honesty and adherence to the letter of the law?"

"I don't know. They're not actually… you know… Cops." Says the woman then. "I'm not real clear what they are.. but the local marshall doesn't stop them and the Shaman-Magistrate seems to back them up."

Annie nods to the waitress and offers the woman a smile, "Thanks", she glances over at Slinger, "Interesting."

"Thought police," Slinger murmurs. "Not good. Might be hard to buy them off." He stares out toward the exterior of the place, then back at Annie. "Your call. This is your turf, like I said."

"Yeah. We will have to play it by ear.", Annie replies and then leans back comfortably in the booth before lacing her fingers comfortably behind her head.

Outside, the two men step out of their vehicle. The usual sort of business suit and tie affair, though the Mind doesn't wear a tie, he's got a mandarin collar shirt on. Both wear dark shades and have long pony tails tightly braided.

Slinger would rather not go to prison on an empty stomache. He takes a few bites of food, swallowing. It's greasy, but probably not too horrible. And just waits. He'll let Annie do most of the talking. Out of his element, here — and he belongs here far less than she does.

Annie nods to Slinger, "Yeah, not high on my list either.", she shrugs and waits to see what the two men are going to do before committing to anything too drastic.

The two men enter the cafe. The Meat slowly, with that 'I'm with the Government' slowness, removes his shades, flicking the sides closed with audiable snaps. He slides the shades in to the top pocket of his jacket. The Mind looks around the room, clearly switching to the Astral Plain.

Annie keeps her attention on Slinger, not really paying attention to the two that just entered the bar. Let em come to her.

The two men approach, looking over the pair at the table. It's the Meat who speaks. "Which one of you is Seratheon?" Asks the brusque, deep voiced man.

Annie looks over at the two new arrivals and sizes them up, noting the locations of any obvious weapons. "Actually, neither of us are….and it's Serathelion if you are referring to the owner of that Bison outside.", she pauses and sighs softly before adding, "I do have written permission to utilize the vehicle."

Slinger gives the two men a warm — but respectful — smile before he returns to eating his breakfast, as if nothing is wrong at all. As if this is completely routine. Nothing to worry about here, thanks for checking, officer!

One of the men, the Mind, keeps himself quiet. He's simply watching. The other man nods. "I see. And if I were to call Detective Medaron… she would vouch for you?" Asks he, pulling out a cellphone.

Annie shrugs, "You could try…but I don't know if she gets cellular service in the Himalayas."

The Mind steps closer to the meat when he asks his question, focusing on the woman. It's not hard to see the Shamanic mask settle over his features, the elongated snout, the ears and whiskers. Rat Shaman… "She's strong willed." Says the man then, stepping back a pace, almost behind the Meat.

The Meat tilts his head. "Her story checks out." A pause as he looks to Slinger. "Wasitchu… SINstick, pass it over."

Annie blinks slightly as the spell washes ineffectually over her, then cocks her head as she regards the Mind. 'This encounter just got a lot easier', she thinks to herself.

Slinger smiles warmly. "Certainly, sir. But with identity theft on the rise, I'm sure you wouldn't mind me asking you to show me your credentials? My bank would throw a /fit/ if I didn't ask." Slinger drops his deliberate Masking.

Slinger also provides Spell Defense on himself and on Annie. And on Janie and the SUVs if need be. And full Shielding for now.

The men from the Ministry of Self Determination almost, in unison, raise an eyebrow at the white man asking them for -their- papers. "We ask the questions around here. Are you refusing to cooperate with a Ute Agent?" Asks the Meat, his face returning to an impassive nature. The Native woman, she may be an elder and have the will to brush off the Mind, but surely this punk kid won't be so easy…

The young male shakes his head swiftly. "Oh, no no no! No, not at all! I'm happy to cooperate with law enforcement!" the youth says eagerly. "I just have to make sure you /are/ law enforcement. I mean, I know you are, but I have to ask, you know. You could just be two guys with cool suits and a really official-looking car, going around to snag people's SINsticks. You know? I think I heard about something like that down in CAS sector one time. You remember that one?" he asks his table-companion.

Annie finally speaks up, "I didn't fight along side Danny Coleman to liberate the nations just to allow our own people to terrorize the innocent.", she shrugs and rubs her apparently paining neck, "Asking to see your badge is reasonable, even for a white man."

The Meat had been about to smack Slinger, at least verbally, until the woman speaks up. His teeth grit… but he reaches inside his jacket, past the Ruger Super Warhawk Pistol… to his identification. "Agent Williams, M.S.D… and this is my partner, Agent Shortclaws." He flips the badge open, showing an ornate silver badge set in leather, below your standard identification card with picture, national emblem and other markers. He flips it away then. "What's your business in the Ute Nation? Hunting a bounty? Something the Ute should be aware of?"

"Elder." Says the Mind then. "My friend did not ask you your business. He asked the white man. Your business is your own, and we do not question it at this time. Please do not give us cause to reconsider our respect."

"Very well sir.", Annie replies with a nod to his displayed badge, "Since the boy works for me, I felt obligated to respond." Her voice fades off and she turns her attention the the RV and the SUV outside.

Slinger presents his SINstick. Kelvin Steele. Handing it over with a friendly smile. "Sorry — I had to check." He also makes a mental note of their names, anything else he can memorize in the time he has to look at them.

The man slots the stick in to a small SIN reader he carries at his hip. After a moment, he removes it. "I've deducted a 1,000 Nuyen fine for various moving violations on your vehicle. You can appeal this decision by seeing the Regional Shaman-Magistrate. Of course, he's on vacation for the next 2 weeks, and I'm sure you'd hate to be behind on business."

Slinger smiles warmly to the man as he reaches out to take his SINstick. "Thank you, sir," the youth says politely, his manner completely friendly and open. "I don't see anything to appeal. I appreciate your leniency."

Okay. Now thats just creepy. The Mind and the Meat grunt, then move away. The woman is clearly an old time NAN warrior… and the kid is just creepy. They will, unless stopped, return to their vehicle.

Annie doesn't stop them, hell no. She simply looks over at Slinger and exhales slowly in relief.

Slinger watches with that same smile on his face as they leave, then breaks into a wide grin, having to avoid laughing. Instead, he stuffs food into his face. Chews on it, swallows. "It was worth every friggin yen for he look on their faces. You can't buy entertainment like that, usually."

In the car, they seem to take a moment, before pulling out. But they do pull out.

Annie grins finally and nods, "Those are the types of bureaucrats that make our jobs possible.", she leans back once more and simply watches Slinger shovel the food in.

«OOC» Annie says, "So were the other cafe patrons a bit on edge?"

Yeah. When they came in, people got real quiet, real quick. No one looked over, no one made eye contact.

It's not long before the elf has finished his food, and pulled out his cancer sticks once again. He lights one up, takes a deep drag, and lets out a slow exhale up into the air. "The thing is, they're a symptom, not the disease," he murmurs. "Not sure what /we/ could do about it, to help. But it's the people here they're hurting, whether they know it or not."

When Slinger finally finishes his food, Annie drops some scrip on the table with a sizeable tip for the waitress. "Wanna ride with me for a while in the Beast?", she offers as she makes motions to stand, "We can talk some more."

"Sure," Slinger says with a grin. "Give me a chance to get to know you. Honestly, I know you only through reputation. Johnny speaks highly of you, as do others."

"Reputation is a hard thing to live up to. Unless it's bad.", Annie states with a chuckle as she finally manages to get herself to her feet. She waits a second for Slinger then heads outside to board the Bison and continue the journey.

As it turns out, Slinger wasn't the only one who needed sleep; Janie just turned out to be a little quieter about it. While he and Annie head into the truck stop diner for a bite to eat, Janie has been catching a nap in the shotgun seat, laying back with her hat pulled down over her head. It's much more comfortable than it looks.

Slinger is young. About 22 chronologically. This gives him a cast-iron stomach, able to digest cheap soy, grease, and bad pizza with equal alacrity. So, no signs of a bellyache as the youth climbs back into the RV, making sure he has a comm channel open to the spoiled brat that is his SUV's new pilot rating. « Yo. Follow us, reasonable distance, stay with us, alert me on this channel if anything happens. Copy? »

"Yeeeeeeeeees. Leave me alone. All alone in a strange land! Force me to trudge, weary, through the sand and salt of the desert. Thats all I am to you, a horse, a beast of burden, take my name, give me a number."

Annie climbs back inside as well, taking her usual seat and getting herself comfortable for the remainder of the drive.

Janie makes a 'mrrr' kind of sound as she rouses herself, then looks at Slinger and Annie. "Hey. How was lunch?"

Annie chuckles, "Greasy and synthetic. Not a five star establishment", she responds after a moment.
"Authentic road trip cuisine," Janie jokes, tilting her head this way and that to work a crick out of her neck, then looks at Slinger. "Found th'answers ye were lookin' f'r?" she asks.

Annie gets the vehicle back on the road before swiveling her chair around to face the others. "We also had a couple of Ute cops giving us a bit of a hassle while we were inside.", she pauses, "Well…not really cops…more like agents of the Shaman-General or something like that."

"… Were those as ominous as ye make them sound?" Janie asks warily.

Annie nods, "Yeah, they were pretty ominous. One of them tried to mind probe me, or at least I assume it was a mind probe.", she shakes her head sadly at that thought, "Which of course is completely illegal in most jurisdictions."

Janie sighs. "Just peachy," she groans. "Sounds like things've gotten much worse'n anyone outside assumes…"

Slinger smirks into the radio. "You actually don't have a name. But you need one," he remarks, casually. Unless Blindside gave his car a name. He shudders. That… defies description. He and Blindside are going to have words.
He settles into the seat of the RV, stretching his longish legs out, rolls down the window a bit. "Good nap? While you were out, the SS had a few questions for us," he remarks, deliberately both exaggerating and understating the case.
At Janie's question, Slinger smiles. "Most of 'em," he agrees. "The enounter we had was most… illustrative."

"So… lemme ask this. We get to this white reservation. How're they gonna react to people like us? Do they know you?" he asks Annie, as he reaches for his smokes. "What's our cover story — we sticking with this same one?"

"Keepin' our story consistent sounds like a good idea," Janie suggests. Just in case law enforcement decides t'start comparin' notes."

"Definitely. At least until we know what our objective is.", Annie responds, "And its possible that my name might be familiar to some of them. I got a bit of air time back in my day."

"Air time?" Slinger asks, prompting Annie to continue. After all, the more he knows about things, the better. He's starting to get a feel for this place, and what he's feeling about it isn't pleasant. He lights up his cigarette, blows a stream of smoke out through the window. "I just hope our task isn't to stage a damned revolution. That's a pretty long term goal, even if it might do some good."

Janie chuckles. "Once we get back, we'll negotiate on how many drinks we'll have t'buy ye before ye spill th'story," she teases.

Thunderbolts and lightning, very very frightening!

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 4 for "Mystery":
1 3 3 5

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Annie (#5398) rolls Intelligence for "Crones Intuition":
1 1 2 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 16

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Slinger (#669) rolls 6 (intel) for "Perception.":
1 1 1 2 2 2

<Auto-Judge[1477]» Janie (#4136) rolls Intelligence for "Warrior's senses.":
1 2 4 4 4 5 5
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Janie (#4136) rolls Intelligence for "Warrior's sense (KP 1/47)":
1 3 3 5 5 7 7

<Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 6 for "Hrrrrrrrrmidy!":
1 2 3 3 5 11

Ever smelt the air 10 minutes before a tornado? No one has ever proven it smells differently than normal air, but to old women, young children and your hounds… it smells different. Even in the purified air of the rig… The weather just took a sidelong shift for 'fuck me'. Not a tornado… but the mana count, the background count just started kreeping up. Annie will notice it first, long before Janie, who will notice it next, while slinger won't be far behind that. A prickling in the skin.

Manastorm. A legacy of the ghost dance. A scourge of the Ute Nation. The storms that hit Denver occasionally are just remnants of these great storms…

Sensors, when checked, will show a storm front rapidly fueling over the Unita Mountains to the south… Salt Lake never gets hit by these things as they seem to avoid the Mana ebb of Salt Lake.

Annie leans back in her chair comfortably, "Well, probably any google search could tell you the…", she pauses and raises her head as if sensing something unusual. "Hmm, that's odd.", she comments as she pulls up external sensors on the trid display.

"… Oh hell," Janie murmurs softly.

Slinger glances over his shoulder at Annie's remark, then Janie's. "What?" asks the oblivious elf. He's leaning back comfortably in the seat, hasn't noticed much of anything. He peers at the sensor's display, scowls a little. "Whazzat?" the youth asks. Whatever it is probably doesn't look good. "We in for some rain?"

Annie shakes her head and adds, "Manastorm. A big one too."

«Auto-Judge[]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 1 for "How big?":
«Plot» Slinger has Geography.Mana-Lines at 5, Magic Background at 5. Would he know anything about these?
«Plot» Vulcan says, "Gimmie a roll on M-back. Manalines wouldn't offer much."
«Plot» Vulcan looks over SLing's skills. Lot of Paraskills, the manalines is a subsect of Geography, so its mapping them, not understanding them…
«Plot» Vulcan says, "In a magical sense."
«Plot» Vulcan says, "So Magical Bg, TN 5."
«Auto-Judge[]» SlingGM (#669) rolls 5 (magic bg) vs TN 5:
4 4 5 9 16 = 3 Successes

Manastorms exist when there is an imbalancein the flow of magic. They are exactly like 'real' weather patterns, shifting and changing, only a manastorm can level a city. See: Sydney Australia. A city of 4 million people leveled by the manastorms that come out of the Outback often enough that rebuilding is just… not possible. The Ute Nation has them like the South has Hurricanes. Varying strenght, verying intensity and impossible to predict. They come suddenly, dissapear suddenly and follow paths no one has been able to detect a pattern in.

«Plot» Vulcan says, "Janie, you have… Magical background. And no other appropriate skills."
«Plot» Vulcan says, "Magical background, TN 8."

«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Magic Background vs TN 8 for "What do these do?":
2 2 3 4 8 = 1 Success

«Plot» Janie is mostly wondering what the best course of action is when you're caught in the path of one (aside from 'don't be there')
«Plot» Vulcan says, "Give me wilderness survival, TN 10."
«Auto-Judge[]» Janie (#4136) rolls Wilderness Survival vs TN 10 for "What do we do?":
4 7 10 = 1 Success

Survival in the case of Manastorm: Don't be in its path, or be in a heavilly sheltered building. They are unpredictable and cannot be classified. A storm in Sydney once dropped 10 Blue Whales on the city. A storm over PRovo once rained wine.
The Whales were less than pleased. For about 30 seconds.

Slinger is silent for just a few seconds, while the impact of that settles in. "So… wait a sec. Big one. How big are we talking? Are we talking big for this kind of area, or big in general? I mean, if it levels cities on a regular basis…" He swallows.

"Big enough we'd best either get out o'its way or under cover," Janie replies. "No tellin' what it'll do."

«Plot» Annie says, "First, I will roll also. i think the only other complimentary skill i might have is magical threats"
«Plot» Vulcan nods. It's a good skill. I'll give you TN 4.
«Plot» Vulcan says, "On the Magical BG"
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Annie (#5398) rolls Magic Background vs TN 4:
2 2 4 4 4 5 = 4 Successes
«Plot» Vulcan says, "What sort of info are you looking for?"

«Plot» Annie says, "Well, I am mainly interested in how bodies of water interact with a mana storm. A lot of natural lakes have dense bacteriological particulates which could help shield against the storm. If I drove the Bison into the lake and went as deep as I could."
«Plot» Vulcan says, "What rating of Amphib package do you have?"
«Plot» Annie says, "Rating 3 Amphibious, Overpresurization, Engineseal, Gas Seal, Waterseal and 20 man hours of life support"
«Plot» Vulcan hrms. So you have enough for 6.3 hours extended operations.
«Plot» Annie says, "Yep"
«Plot» Vulcan says, "Okay. Now. What geographic skills do you have to locate a sutiable body of water?"
«Plot» Annie says, "I thought maybe I could use the satlink for topo/geo maps or heck even Ute Dept of the Interior."
«Plot» Vulcan thinks. Your here… and the storm is there… and you have.. X amount of time.
«Plot» Vulcan says, "Gimmie a search roll. Are you taking the time to fish out and boot up your deck to connect to the matrix, or just using your dash-mount?"
«Plot» Annie says, "Hmm. Dash mount. Don't have time to do the full rigamarole."
«Plot» Vulcan nods. Computers+TP, TN of 7 to do an exhaustive search.

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Annie (#5398) rolls Computers vs TN 7 for "Oh please…":
2 3 4 4 10 = 1 Success

«Plot» Vulcan says, ",-110.299988&spn=1.065299,2.112122&t=p&z=9"
«Plot» Vulcan says, "This shows now, the position of the convoy and the bearing of the storm."

Slinger contacts his vehicle. « Gonna speed up. We're approaching a body of water. We are going to go under the surface of the water. Make sure the amphibious operation stuff, overpressurization, and life support systems are all active. » Slinger considers. "I should probably get into my vehicle, communicate by comms," he says quietly.

"Master… I cannot operate underwater. I need to breathe."

«Plot» Annie says, "Anyway, I pull a u-turn on the highway and start toward Duchesne at full speed."
«Plot» Annie says, "We can talk about it while we drive."
«Plot» Vulcan nods. Okay. Gimmie a car roll, TN of handling +2 for large vehicle of its type, +1 for high speed maneuver to sling your bitch about.
Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "All right. Belay that last order. Will have to tie you to a tree or something with the winch."
Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "Give you something new to complain about."

"I thought we would get the bra before you chained me to anything?"

Commlink-Slinger> SlingGM says, "Look, it's kinda freaking me out, a male voice asking for a bra. Okay?"

"I could switch genders. I simply refer to the car cover. Would you prefer 'ANimal-skin Frontal Cover'? A codpeice, perhaps? Maybe a socksock. Maybe instead, a set of chaps. Assless, if you prefer?"

Blindside has done well, apparently making sure the car knows waaaay too much about its driver. It's unnerving.

Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "Either way. We'll get one of those soon. Might make you more recognizable, though."

«Auto-Judge[]» Annie (#5398) rolls 5 (autopilot) + 5 (performance profile autosoft) + 5 (Robotic Pilot Adaptation Pool) vs TN 7 for "Come about Obie.":
1 1 2 2 2 3 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 7 11 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 3 vs TN 4 for "Orchid Oscuro turning around.":
4 5 10 = 3 Successes

Annie frantically checks the dashboard sattlink looking for a suitable solution to the oncoming storm. "Ah there is a possibility. Starvation Lake…about 50 meters deep.", she makes a quick decision, "Obie come about and head to the lake. Full throttle if you please." She is thankful that she remembered to belt herself in for once as the massive RV pulls a 180 degree swing on the decrepit highway and the engine rumbles in protest as the pilot pushes the Hemi engine to the limits of its design specs.

«Plot» Vulcan says, "Slinger, Janie: Soak 5M Stun. :)"
«Plot» Vulcan says, "Armor applies."

«Auto-Judge[1477]» SlingGM (#669) rolls 9 (body) vs TN 3 for "5M stun…":
1 2 2 3 4 4 4 4 5 = 6 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Janie (#4136) rolls Body vs TN 3 for "This is going to get bumpy…":
1 1 2 4 4 = 2 Successes

Janie: L stun.

The unexpected maneuver throws Slinger against the side of the RV, his seat-belt of minimal use. "Gah!" the elf says, shaking his head to clear it. Fortunately, his secure long coat absorbs most of the impact, spreading it over his body, as he reaches out for any handhold he can find that is not an essential control.

Seatbelts. They exist for a reason — and Janie receives a firsthand demonstration as to what that reason is when she's forced to endure a fast U-turn without one. She manages to keep herself from slamming her head into the window only by hitting it with her shoulder instead. She grunts once, then braces herself more tightly for the rest of the ride.

Annie mutters to the passengers, "Sorry about that guys.", as the Bison burns off a bit of tread as is spins crazily on the decrepit Ute highway. Her eyes never come off the dashboard sattlink and GPS as she runs the odds for any other potential options. "I don't see any other good possibilities. The lake may be our best option."

«Plot» Vulcan says, "Okay. gimme a general car test as you salome thorough traffic."
«Plot» Vulcan says, "Say, handling +2, +1 for restricted terrain"
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 3 vs TN 4 for "OhOh playing keepup.":
2 4 5 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Annie (#5398) rolls 5 (autopilot) + 5 (performance profile autosoft) + 5 (Robotic Pilot Adaptation Pool) vs TN 7 for "Going through traffic.":
1 1 2 2 3 3 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 7 11 = 2 Successes

Slinger glances back toward the SUV, and lights up a quick smoke as we move. He won't have the chance later, most likely, and right now, with the stress of this high-speed chase, he needs one. « Stay with us, » he urges his pilot, glancing back. Still, it's odd to see his vehicle driving itself without anyone there. « But be careful! » The SUV slamming into a vehicle much smaller than it might well be detrimental to the smaller vehicle.

Annie manages to brace herself from becoming too battered as the RV weaves and threads its way through the existing traffic. "Unless someone speaks up with a better idea…I am going to plant this beast in the deepest darkest depths of that lake.", Annie states after a moment.

Slinger nods — as best he can with his head bouncing around. Is that nodding or bobbleheading? "Just let me get out and tie my SUV to something, okay?" he asks. He braces himself with one foot on the dashboard, other hand holding on to something solid, and the last hand holding his cigarette while he stays as stationary as he can manage.

As the cars make their way back down the mountain pass, sliding out and around the occasional big rig or car, a wave of… something… passes over. Like an overpressure wave before the bomb. Astral winds pick up, suddenly blowing with hurricane force, pressing against the side of the vehicle with a fury. Ahead, a bigrig careens up on to.. uh… lets see. 2 trailers… 26 tires… so hah! It careens up on to 13 wheels!

Then it sort of flops over on its side with a thunderous crunch.

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 3 vs TN 5 for "Smaller car. +1 TN.":
1 5 9 = 2 Successes

«Plot» Vulcan says, "Annie: Car, TN 9"
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Annie (#5398) rolls 5 (autopilot) + 5 (performance profile autosoft) + 5 (Robotic Pilot Adaptation Pool) vs TN 9 for "Ack!":
2 2 2 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 8 9 21 = 2 Successes

Slinger glances back again, staying braced. He's starting to lose a little of the terror, starting to enjoy this a little. Big grin on his face while he takes a drag of smoke. Now that he's not afraid he's going to die — at least, not quite as much — it's taking on the character of an amusement park ride.
Strange elf. What the frag is in that cigarette, anyway?

"Oof", Annie growls as her face suddenly plants against the drivers side window. The RV slides to the left and then a hard jerk to the right as it narrowly manages to dodge past the crashing big rig. A few parts of the disintegrating rig slam into the RV and bounce off the concealed vehicular armor. Brapapapapapapapa go the wake-up bumps on the shoulder as a few of the tires go off the main asphalt as the Robotic brain somehow manages to keep the massive vehicle going.

The rig slides off the road, propelled by the force of the wind that is suddenly present. Smaller cars slide around and even the impressive RV is having a hard time orienting itself. The rear end skews out so that the ride is burning rubber, but maintaining a forward vector through cross thrust mitigation. OhOh, that being the SUV, slides in to the windbreak made by the bigger RV, riding there and dropping speed to maintain presence.

A deer flies past the front of the RV, chased by a Jesus-Lizard, if a Jesus-lizard was infact, 10 feet tall and blue. The expression on the lizards features could be equated to 'MINEMINEMINEMINEMINE!'.

Janie just stares at where the deer and the lizard vanished off to, holding the arms of her seat in a whiteknuckle death grip. She manages not to say anything pointlessly obvious in an effort of will, less because she doesn't want to sound stupid and more because she's terribly afraid of distracting the driver.

Slinger's gaze follows those beasties, openly gaping at them. "Holy crap. You don't see that every day back in the big city," the kid remarks. He flicks his cigarette out the window, still bracing himself, and rolls it back up — and hangs on tighter for the ride. "How're we doin'? Gonna get there?"

Annie is busily checking to see if the Ute City of Duchesne (if it has a net presence) has any special recommendation for travelers caught on the fringes of a manastorm while within the city limits. Probably not, but it keeps her from chewing her already terrorized nails into bloody stubs.

«Plot» Vulcan says, "Annie: Give me another vheicle test. TN 9 as before."
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 3 vs TN 5:
1 3 7 = 1 Success

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Annie (#5398) rolls 5 (autopilot) + 5 (performance profile autosoft) + 5 (Robotic Pilot Adaptation Pool) vs TN 9 for "Ack Take 2.":
1 1 1 1 2 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 7 7 8 = 0 Successes

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 4 for "Mystery, but not armor!":
1 1 4 5
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 4 vs TN 3 for "Yeah. Now it's armor":
4 4 4 9 = 4 Successes

From oncoming traffic, a small truck, maybe an Ares Buck, was just tooling along until it hit the storms envelope (Which appears to be not all that far ahead of you…). One it entered, the wind picked it up, flipping it twice over, before slamming it to the road in front of the RV. The RV compinsated, skewing to the left again, while Oh-Oh skewed to the Right, to split around the truck. The rear end of the RV however, loses traction in the wind, rocking the big vehicle up on two wheels just in to clip the rear quarter pannel on the fallen truck.

Damage Sensors register no critical systems damaged, no damage to suspension.

Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "I know, I know. Just get through it. You're doin' great!"
"Gyah!" Janie exclaims, flinching away from the careening truck as the RV swerves past it.

«Plot» Vulcan says, "Body, TN 4, all occupants. Armor applies."
«Auto-Judge[1477]» SlingGM (#669) rolls 9 (body) vs TN 2:
2 2 2 2 2 3 5 10 11 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Annie (#5398) rolls Body vs TN 2:
2 3 4 4 5 9 11 = 7 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Janie (#4136) rolls Body vs TN 2 for "Ow!":
1 1 2 4 4 = 3 Successes

«Plot» Vulcan says, " Janie is at 2L"

Slinger sees the truck overturn, staring at it. But it just happens too fast for him to do anything about it except brace — and even then, his armor ends up taking a good bit of it. "Frag!" Slinger yells. "Everybody okay?" He glances to the right to make sure O-O makes it past safely.

Annie once again plants her face against the windshield as the RV makes an unexpected evasive maneuver. "Fudgesickles", she mutters to herself as she levers away from the window in direct opposition to centrifugal force. "Not far from the lake now", she comments in what she hopes is a reassuring tone of voice to her passengers.

And then it starts. The rain. It starts coming down hard. Clackity. Rain should not clack. Little black squares falling from the sky then bouncing across the road, off the bison… Like the sound of a hundred million locusts all in a moment. They start bouncing in the open window that Slinger keeps throwing his cigarettes out. A. N. R. Q. W. E. R. T. Y.

"…" Yeah, Janie's got nothing right now. She's wondering if she hit her head a little harder than she thought she did.

Slinger rolls up the window as the tiles start coming in. "Great. It's a Scrabble Storm!" the elf yells, pushing some of the letters off onto the floor. "Maybe we should slow down a tad? In case they manage to spell out 'I-C-E' or something like that and we start sliding?"

Annie tries to ignore the 'Rain', but fails somewhat and then laughs at Slingers comment. "I just want to get off this fucking highway.", she finally mutters.

Another car enters the envelope and lifts upward, caught in the wind… and then just… stops. It hangs in the air, the slowly floats to the ground. The rain ceases, the wind is gone… and things in motion from the storms volition stop being in motion. The clouds come so suddenly, part just as quick, like thighs on prom night, revealing golden… okay. End that metaphor. The clouds break and the sun comes out!

"Right with you," the elf-mage agrees. "I just th—" And then the car hovers in midair — and then sinks to the ground. "Okay, that was sudden," he states. "Wait… eye of the storm?"

Sensors indicate there is no storm system. It has simply dissipated, its energy expended.

"Umm, no. Looks like the storm is gone.", Annie replies after a moment.

"I don't trust it," Slinger states, eyeing the display, then the surroundings. "Who says it ain't just fooling us?" That was too sudden. And all things considered, too easy. "O-O, you doin' all right? Status good?"
Slinger braces himself for whining.

"I have 'Vituperation' spelled out across my driver's side headlight. Isn't that a triple word score?"
Commlink-Slinger> SlingGM says, "Triple word score, and, assuming the V is also triple letter, I think you just won the game," Slinger quips. "All right. Hold position, waiting on decisions here. You done good."

The SUV peels off, slamming to a stop at the side of the road. The RV however, continues on down the road.

Annie exhales slowly as she digests the fact that the storm no longer appears to be a threat. Finally she addresses the Bisons pilot, "Go ahead and pull over Obie…the immediate threat seems to have dissipated."

"Affirmative", the Bison pilot responds firmly in its stentorian James Earl Jones voice and then smoothly shifts lanes and pulls off onto the shoulder, eventually coming to a full stop.

Now, in a regular place, this is where people sirens start going off and emergency vehicles start roaring down the road. Out here, though… it's just quiet. The quiet of the high desert.

Janie winces a little as she silently assesses damage. Nothing permanent, but she'll be feeling those bruises for a couple of hours.

Slinger glances behind him. "You think the driver of that truck is okay?" the elf asks. "If it's not too far… maybe we should go back. I've got some spells, could render assistance."

"Assumin' th'truck had a driver," Janie points out pro forma before nodding. "But ye're right."

Annie nods to Slinger, "We have to go back that way anyway.", she issues a few orders to the pilot and within a minute or two the Bison is motoring on down the highway on it's original course.

AS you approach the truck that hit you, the Ares Buck, it becomes clear that it had a driver, and he's now sitting on the ground next to his truck, butt on the ground, elbows on his knees, smoking a cigarette. He waves a hand, bandaged, as you pass. He's got a sort of laughing grin on his face, like… 'son of a bitch, but whatcha gonna do?'.

On the Road Again

Travel down the length of what was once Utah is a very very boring affair. Muted scrubs, abandoned roadside townships. Thats really interesting, is the amount of abandoned towns. Out here, with population density so low, it wasn't VITAS that killed everyone. It was resettlement. In 2010, the Ute Tribe had only 15,000 people in it. Even when you consider the influx of Californian and all the Eastern Reservations being emptied… you still have a remarkably small population. And since the PCC and the Sioux and the Salish actively courted them, had better economies and were more accepting of partial blood Quantums, you had… just massive depopulation.

SOme of the roadside towns have small popultions, but clearly they are not what you could call thriving. Maybe scrabbling. Enough to run a gas station or minimart to keep the trucks rolling.

The sun has long since set when you hit Montecello, the main town on Ute Highway 191, just north of the White Mesa Anglo Reservation. The lights are on, and there are even two hotels catering to travelers. With showers. And beds.


Just because Janie /can/ make herself sleep in the passenger seat doesn't mean she doesn't prefer other options when they're available. She looks at Annie and Slinger. "Park here, get some food an' some rest, go in fresh tomorrow mornin'?" she suggests.

Showers and beds sound like a happy thing, actually. "How big a hurry are we in?" Slinger asks. "I wouldn't mind stopping for the night, after the day we've had. Stimulate the local economy, too." The youth yawns, stretches out in the seat he's occupying.

Annie nods to Janie as the Bison maneuvers into a truck parking slot and then abruptly the engine stops. "Sounds good. We can get a good nights sleep and then start fresh in the morning. See if we can find whomever it is we need to talk to here."

Annie nods to Janie as the Bison maneuvers into a truck parking slot and then abruptly the engine stops. "Sounds good. We can get a good nights sleep and then start fresh in the morning. See if we can find whomever it is we need to talk to here."
Janie nods. "Or at least get a feel o'what might be goin' on that whatever sent us here's worried about."

"… Speakin' o'which," she continues, "If th'hotel's got human staff, could ye try an' ask if anythin' out o'th'ordinary's been goin' on? I get th'feelin' they'll be more likely t'talk openly t'a respectable elder o'their blood than t'a pair o'nosy anglos…"

The youth grins. "Yeah. And who knows, might get a visit from a spirit in /my/ underwear. That's with /me/ in my underwear, not the spirit. Just to clarify." He looks between the places. Janie's comment gets a nod. "Yeah. I can sorta disguise myself, but I don't speak the language. Wouldn't work."

Annie nods. "I can give it a shot. With the apache population nearby, there may be a few I can talk to directly."

You have two choices! Best Western Montecello (Well, once upon a time), The Navaho Hotel and The Leaning Teepee.

Janie looks the hotels over, then shrugs at Annie. "Western Montecello sound good?" she suggests.
"Fine with me.", Annie responds to Janies suggestion before turning and heading that direction.

The BW-Montecello is an old two story drive motel, with parking all around. Probably 3 buildings total, though only one is in use. THe parking lot is empty, and the fact that you pulled in has someone in the office -very- excited.

The snow on the ground is plowed up, making for a sort of snow rampart around the building, but with holes cut through it for walking.

The fact that they have that little business is a little creepy. Slinger feels so damned sorry for the people here. "I'd suggest leaving a nice tip, but I dunno how much attention we want to draw." He climbs out of the vehicle, with his own steps falling into place deferentially behind Annie. She is the one in charge.

Annie heads into the office and offers a grandmotherly smile to the attendant, "Three rooms please. preferably right next to each other," she requests affably.

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 1 for "Who's taking the night shift?":

The girl behind the counter is a full blood, but she looks to be cross tribe. Maybe an O-Ute and a Yavapai? Her features are very desert, just not fully one tribe or the other. She has long dark hair, but thats not odd or anything. She's maybe… 16. "Mique Wush Tagooven! We have rooms! Yes!" She says, fumbling for a moment, looking for the login book.

Janie stands quietly and inobtrusively while her employer negotiates for rooms.

Hopefully, the rooms are smoking, for Slinger. ON the other hand? This place isn't in any position to enforce rules like that, either way. The elf stands behind Annie with a friendly smile, deferential to the woman he's here to assist. And says as little as possible.

Actually, when the nice young anglo boy smokes in the rooms in violation of posted (Assuming this is a no-smoking place int he first place) orders, it's a great time for this place. That means fines, and fees, and cleaning fees, and the anglo gets to hang around racking up MORE hotel charges, or he pays them and skedaddles.

Mmmm. Out of towners.

Annie hands over her 'stick to pay for the rooms and offers the girl a pleasant smile, "We may be here a few days…not sure at this point." She waits patiently for the paperwork to be done before heading off to take a look at the accommodations.

The girl smiles brightly! Three rooms, several days. Huzaaaah! "Alright. What brings you to Montecello?" She asks cheerfully, while bringing up paper documents (!!!!) for the woman to sign, things like nation of origion, tribal affiliation, licence plate numbers, etc.

Annie fills out the forms quickly in her barely legible block script, "Business mainly.", she offers absently while she writes.

She smiles, the girl, looking over the Anglo's. "Both of them Non-tribal? There's a tax for that… and then the temporary residency permit… and the cultural surtax…"

Annie gestures as if brushing off a buzzing mosquito, "Whatever.", she mutters, "Just put it on my tab and my accountant will look at it." She finally finishes the paper work and pushes it back toward the girl, "Tell me about your town. Anything interesting going on lately? What sort of hot spots should we take a look at while we are here?"

"Hot spots." Says the girl with a laugh. "There's Wills Tavern… they serve cheap beer and sometimes they get local musicians in." She glances over her shoulder, to see if Mom or dad are watching. "We used to go down to Blanding Sometimes… they had a bar there that would let us in, and we could watch the Trid from the UCAS… they have all the best shows, since the Self-Determination folks decided we needed more 'native' programming on TV than UCAS… But it sort of ended up being all boring dancing and basket weaving shows. But the bridge to Blanding's out, so we gotta wait for em to fix it."

Slinger watches all of this. Mental note. This isn't a good place to be white. Even so, hopefully, this won't be /too/ expensive. "I think we can find plenty here. How's the food?" the elf asks. Breakfast was a while back, and he's relatively still a teenager. At least, his stomache still seems to think it is.
"How much is this gonna end up costing?" the elf wonders, quietly, speaking under his breath, as he stares at all those taxes.

Annie nods, "Wills Tavern…sounds….rustic.", she states with a chuckle. "Who would we need to see about business licenses and potentially purchasing some property?"

The girl smiles at slinger then, no obvious hatred or distaste. "Oh, not much. Even with all the taxes, it's only about 50 nuyen a night. Less for her." A gesture to Annie. "As for land and business? What kind of bussiness? Why Montecello? All the good money is up in Provo or over in Las Vegas… But… that would go to Shaman-Magistrate John Redearth. He's the guy who runs the governemtn around here. He's been down in Mexican Hat for a while though. He only comes back sometimes, since the road got closed."

Slinger grins and looks a little relieved. "That's not bad. I was… afraid that it'd be like two hundred a night." He returns the warm smile, using all his (admittedly white) elfin charm. He shuts up, though, being quietly as friendly as he can manage.

Annie waits until her room-key is coded or whatever they do here, then passes them out to her associates. "My business is a little more esoterical than the average black jack dealer.", she grins slightly and then adds, "Thank you for the information dearie.", she turns and heads on out of the office.

"Of course!" Says the girl. "Hey…" A pause. "You gonna have jobs? I mean, like employees and junk? Cause… well, my brothers are looking for work and they're strong! Good guys!"

Annie pauses in the doorway to respond, "I very well may depending on what we turn up. But I will keep them in mind.", she offers a final wave and heads out. Once outside the office she looks between Janie and Slinger, "So, on that note. How about we hit Wills Tavern? Maybe we can get some shadowside info."

Annie pauses in the doorway to respond, "I very well may depending on what we turn up. But I will keep them in mind.", she offers a final wave and heads out. Once outside the office she looks between Janie and Slinger, "So, on that note. How about we hit Wills Tavern? Maybe we can get some shadowside info."

Slinger smiles warmly to the girl, then follows Annie. Maybe even a little flirtatious — never hurts to use some of that elf-charm, right? He follows Annie out, though, and tilts his head. "You think it's a good idea for a white boy like me to go in there?"

The girl nods, then picks up the phone in the office. She smiles, offering a friendly wave. JOBS! She's gotta tell the boys!

Annie shrugs, "Dunno. But by the way that girl is acting…they may not give us much trouble at all once the word gets out."

"That'll depend on whether th'majority's more interested in th'possibility o'job prospects than takin' out their resentment on a couple o'Anglo busybodies," Janie points out. "Then again, we'll have t'start talkin' t'people at /some/ point. Might as well do it this way."

The rooms are all ground level rooms, 101, 102 and 104. Two adjoining rooms and one a unit down the hall. The doors are all exterior, facing the parking lot.

Slinger lights up a smoke as he exits the office, then approaches his door with his card. He considers this for a moment, then glances to Annie. "Somehow, it makes me a little nervous to be this close together, you know?" he asks with a grin, as he slots his card.

Card? Tumbler lock sir. You have a small scrap of brass with jagged lines cut in to it!
Don't need no fancy high tech cards.

Annie nods to Janie, "It's the only way.", she grins, "Those two strapping brothers may already be in Wills Tavern spreading the word." She slots her key and checks out her room for a moment before locking it back up.

The room is a snapshot of the 1980's Best Western Catalog. A nodescript floral bedspread. A trideo that may or may not work. A small microwave oven. A bathroom beyond and a small circular table with one chair. The same description will go for each room. There is a very fine layer of dust in 104, clearly it's not been cleaned in about a week.

Room 104 is Smoking, an end unit with more windows than the rest.
101 and 102 are non-smoking.
Though there may be an icky Anglo Smoking tax. Who knows.

Slinger enters with a cigarette. This place could use a thorough cleaning, is the first thing he notices. Good. He brings in a little bit of luggage, mostly just toiletries — and summons as Watcher spirit to keep watch over the SUV, with the standard orders.

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Slinger (#69) rolls Centering vs TN 2 for "Centering against drain for Watcher.":
1 1 3 3 3 3 = 4 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Slinger (#69) rolls Conjuring + 3 (power focus) vs TN 4 for "Force 4 Watcher Spirit.":
1 2 2 3 3 4 5 5 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Slinger (#69) rolls Charisma vs TN 4 for "L drain.":
1 2 2 4 4 5 17 = 4 Successes

Janie tests the key to her door and inspects the room. Nothing outstanding, but serviceable. It'll do. She exits and locks the room behind her, then joins Annie outside hers.

Annie waits for the others to rejoin her, "Wills tavern sounds like the ONLY place to check out in this town. Shall we go?"

Janie nods. "Let's," she agrees.

Annie looks over at Slinger, "Let's take the SUV.", she grins, "I would hate to get Obie into the average bar parking lot."

Will's Tavern. It's got that old 'hunting lodge' look, a sort of long house with a central front door and large front porch/veranda. Music plays inside, and many many pickup trucks are in the gravel/packed snow parking lot. A few men brave the cold to smoke outside, but they don't remain outside long.

The SUV manages to not look HORRIBLY out of place, after 600 miles of road dirt and snowmud has accumulated (Much to the vehicles displeasure.) AS such, the men on the porch don't pay horrible much attention… until people start to get out that they don't recognize. In the darkness, a truck's a truck.

Seeing who's getting out of the truck, one of the men on the porch smacks another in the shoulder and then gestures inside. The so-smacked man, grunts inarticulately given the whoof of steam from his mouth and then heads inside, a spear of yellow light stretchign across the parking lot from the open door.

"Cue th' reception committee," Janie mutters sotto voce to Annie and Slinger.

Annie heads into the bar, her staff thunking audibly against the boards of the porch to announce her arrival. As she enters the bar proper she pauses a moment on the threshold to take in the sights, leaning heavily on her walking stick.

Inside is a collection of 20-30 men and women, ranging in age from teens to elderly. There's a set of old console video games in one area (of which only KARL KOMBATMAGE III: Revenge of the Bugs is still operational), a bunch of posters for various beer companies all adorned with images of buxom native lasses posing with strategically placed beer and cowboy hats, a few sports team posters, some tables, some chairs and behind the bar, a scraggly man with craggy native features and salt and peppper hair to his shoulders.

The bar goes quiet. Word's spread. The old one has an RV. They drive in a new truck. Something about opening a business and needing 2 employees.

No, I heard it was 4.

You're both wrong. Susan called johnny who called rick who called Yaqui and HE said she needed a full work crew of 10.
One thing going for the place, is it's warm, well lit and theres music. Somewhere, a propane furnace is blowing overtime.

Annie flickers her attention to the astral for a moment to get a better idea of the location, then heads off toward an empty table with enough seats for herself and her companions.

«Plot» Vulcan says, "Gimme a perception check."
«Plot» Vulcan says, "For the astral"
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Annie (#5398) rolls Intelligence for "Astral Peeping.":
1 2 3 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 7 10

The bar is a sweaty, heady mixture of emotions. Those who have gone soul dead and come here simply to not have to bear the thoughts of ruin and emotional devastation. Those who come here looking for stimulation, interaction, for the hope to continue on another day. Or those, like Willy, who do nothing to make the world better, but is content to sip at the vein of the town.
The background count here is 2, the emotions built up over the long term mingling in a miasma of scent and sight. No one appears to be directly magically active.

Janie looks he room over briefly, apparently unruffled by the attention even while she lets Annie's force of personality - not to mention her Distinguished Tribal Elder looks - draw most of the room's focus.

Will, the owner, breaks the silence by rattling a trio of beer bottles and slamming them on the table, a bottle opener slapping down next to em. "On da house." He grunts, gesturing then to the bottles.

Slinger is staying near the two women. Probably not having a smoke just yet, assuming it's not allowed in the place. For Native Americans, this place is pretty anti-tobacco.
Instead, the elf stays away from much in the way of alcohol. Lightweight, he's pretty easily affected by booze.

"So." Says the man as he pops the tops off the beers. "Whatcher bussiness? Hear yer looken for workers." Will glances around the room. "You got a lot of people with tented pants and lathered panties, so I suggest making with details before they make them up for themselves."

Annie leans back in her chair, her staff collapsing down into its more compact form with an audible *snikt* sound. She tucks it into its case at her belt and offers the bartender a nod, "I own an Enchanting and Talismongering shop in Denver, servicing primarily the native american population. A lot of the resources close to Denver are hard pressed. My research indicates that this area has a pretty healthy population of Sage, Mormon Tea and Golden Currant, all of which can be processed into herbal radicals for use in Shamanic operations.", she shrugs, "I am considering opening up a branch office here…teach some of the locals how to gather and do some basic processing before shipping them to my main warehouse in Denver. I may need as many as twelve permanent employees if everything works out…even more for seasonal employment."
There's a grunt from the bartender. Wow. 12. Thats more than anyone had hoped for so far. He nods then… "People could use the work, specially since the Rez bridge is down. I hear Mexican Hat's benefitting, now that all the services and trade have to go through them. Some of our men here used to work on the Rez as laborers." He shakes his head. "How the hell is it, that we got a nation, but still go to the rez for work?" he asks with a laugh, pulling a beer for himself.
"You hear that? 12!"

"Talismongering, too. thats a trade! Good trade."

"You think she's single?"

"You're suntouched. Or just Miller-touched."

Slinger smiles casually, glancing around at the people around him. Evaluating. White-boy elf. People seem excited about job prospects, though. Which is sad, given exactly how tentative this is. On the other hand, might be lucrative. But no… for a foreigner to invest here, he's sure there'll be enough taxes to make it very unprofitable.
Now that Annie seems to be established well, the youth wanders out toward the porch, bundling his coat around him. Maybe he can get some conversation in.

"We will probably be in town a few days, taking a look at the infrastructure. Checking out the natural resources.", Annie replies to the bartenders statement, "Checking to see how eager the local politicians are to have new business established." She accepts the beer from Janie and offers her young 'assistant' a smile and nod of thanks. "If everything falls into place, I don't see why we couldn't get started here in the next few months."

Janie busies herself fetching the beers from the bartop to the table Annie picked and placing one in front of Annie while keeping the other close, sipping for politeness' sake while her employer talks business.

Now, theres a difference between institutional racism and personal racism. Institutional is where 'this is the way things are done', like 'anglo residency permits' for hotel rooms. But on a personal level, the people enforcing the laws may not really care all that much. That… sort… of feels to be the situation in Montecello, so close to a large Anglo Res, that apparnetly supplied a lot of the work and trade for Montecello.

As slinger drifts off, One of the young men, maybe… 21. A strapping man with hair that comes to the lower back, in a tight single braid, approaches Slinger. "She needs people. What kind of people? SOmethign about plants? Come, tell me. I am Yaqui." He says, offering a smile that's not hostile, but also, not exactly your best friend.

Slinger offers a smile to Yaqui, and finds himself sliding his eyes over the other male. Of course, trying not to actually /leer/, but it has been a while since he and Orpheus… er.
"I'm afraid you'd have to ask her. But she's a businesswoman with strong ties to both Denver and to this area. Her reputation… well, I'm white, and I know enough to know I can't truly understand the relationships and ties that bind people of her tradition," he admits, with a smile. He pulls out his pack of smokes, offers one to Yaqui to be polite, while he lights up.
"I do know that she travels to this area frequently. I hope she can work something out. The people are are wonderful. Hard workers, from what I've seen, who deserve opportunities."
He's earnest, and not lying, not at all.

<Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 7 for "Will, checking out Annie in a serious fashion.":
1 2 2 3 4 5 9

Slinger chuckles. "My apologies for the smell. Bad habit, I know." He takes a drag, but blows it politely away from Yaqui. "She is a shaman, yes. As I understand such things. I'm not the best when it comes to magical terms." Which is true, so far as it goes, though it definitely borders on a bit of deception.

Will takes a long, hard stare at Annie. "Yeah. Thats true. Probably sells better than torquioise, too." He says after a moment, then laughing. "So. You got a name, old woman?"
Yaqui grins then. "Shaman. John RedEarth would probably like to meet her. He's the Shaman-Magistrate for White Mesa County."

"My name is Briannah Ki'Arnan, but I went by Whispering Breeze during the war.", Annie responds to the question after a moment.
Janie quietly sips her beer, observing Will's reaction to that statement.
Alas, Will's not old enough to really know the big names of the war. He's probably only 45ish himself, so at best, a baby during the war. "Huh. Thats what…" A pause as he reaches for a cigarette. Yep. Here ya go. A Native American who smokes. He lights it, thinking it over… "Welsh?"

Slinger manages a sheepish grin. "You'll excuse me for bein' an idiot, but I thought White Mesa was the reservation for white people. Or is it the name for the whole area? That sounds like a Native American name."

"Well, yeah." Says Yaqui then. "White Mesa County was named after the Mesa, The res was named after the county. It being the only Anglo Res in the county, and being that it takes up about half the county." He grins then, sipping at his drink. "You really are new around here."
He then shrugs. "I mean, it's got some kind of offical name, sure, but everyone just calls it the White Mesa Anglo-Res."

Slinger laughs, knocks ash from his smokestick. "Yeah, totally new to here. It's beautiful country out here. I hope this works out. I'll definitely put in a good word for her with you." He smiles to Yaqui, warmly. The guy /is/ good-looking. And Slinger has always had a thing for darkish-skinned guys.

Annie blinks at Wills' question and then offers a wry chuckle, "Ki'Arnan. It's Mescalaro Apache dialect for 'those who serve Wolf'. My Grandfather was tribal Shaman up until he died in one of the relocation camps."
Will shrugs then, his ploy getting exactly what he wanted; a detailed bit about Annie. "Sorry. I know there's some horse raiders down in Mexican Hat, but I don't know the lingo. I barely speak Ute." He admits. He holds up a hand, telling her he'll be back as he moves off to share a chat and refresh a beer for one of the locals.
Yaqui nods then. "Thats good. I'd like that. My options here are limited, though the Ministry has been offering me a job as a Ranger. I could go to Denver, if I could get a Residency Permit… or I could go to Salt Lake City if I could get a residency permit… Or I could go to Las Vegas.. if I could get a residency permit… Or I could go to The PCC, if I coudl afford both the money for a share of the corp and to bury my parents, who would surely die of shame."
Janie files away two snippets of information: One about Annie, filling a minor gap in her knowledge of the woman, and one about Will, who's definitely sharper than he lets on.

Commlink-Breeze> Annie subvocalizes, "Let's spread out and chat up a few of the locals. See if any of them have heard anything unusual lately. How're you doing out there Slinger?"
Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "Talkin' to a guy out here. Yaqui. Nice guy. Pretty hot, too. Uh… you actually serious about that project?"

Slinger draws a lungful of smoke, thoughtfully. "Ranger job sounds like good work. You look like you've got the strength for it," he compliments the handsome man. "Residency permits, huh? Yeah, there's paperwork everywhere." There's a part of him that wants to pull out his phone and make some arrangements, right here, for this guy.

Yaqui nods. "It's good, but I don't know. I don't really -want- to spend my time chopping wood for old people or teaching kids our 'grand and glorious' histories. The Ministry of Self Determination doesn't pay well either, but it's work… sort of six of one, a half dozen of another."

Janie doesn't respond other than an almost imperceptible nod, then gets up and drifts away from Annie's table to find one for herself.

Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "Talkin' to a guy out here. Yaqui. Nice guy. Pretty hot, too. Uh… you actually serious about that project?"
Commlink-Breeze> Annie says, "I am actually considering it. I can always use bulk amounts of herbals, and don't mind supporting this economy for a few years to get it."
Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "Might talk to Page. He can always use Herbals, too."
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Annie (#5398) rolls Intelligence + 1 (BG Techniques) for "Scoping the room.":
1 1 1 2 3 3 3 4 4 9 9 10 10

For the most part, people are involved in their nightly ritual of killing themselves slowly, one sip at a time. However, in the corner, there's a middle-aged (About 30) man with short cropped hair and a few 'tribal' tattoos. He's got a low blood quantum, based by his light skin and anglo features, but he's still clearly related.
He's watching Slinger and Janie. Carefully.

Commlink-Breeze> Annie says, "Page hmm? I'll do that. And yes…if he needs it offer him a retainer to keep him on call. And heads up…we got a character in the corner who is definitely not part of the general mood. And he's watching the two of you /REALLY/ closely. Anyone tell if he's armed?"

Slinger smiles. "I'm Kelvin, by the way," the youth introduces himself. "Not sure if I said that. What sorta stuff do you want to do? I mean, this'd involve a lot of field work, from what little I know. Lotsa outdoor stuff."

"Well, I do a lot of outdoors work. I hunt and I fish, I do some prospecting. My grandfather taught me the land and the area. We lived here in Montecello for decades before the awakeneing, so we have roots here. I know the back trails like no one else." Says Yaqui.

Back trails. That could be useful. "I'll talk to her, see what we can work out." He drags hard on his cigarette, then crushes it out in the supplied ashtray. He offers his hand with a warm smile. "Could be we could use a guide for somethin'. I'll ask her."

Slinger smiles. "Actually… how about this?" He considers, and then pulls out his credstick. "I'd like to put you on retainer, in case we need you. Our standard retainer rate for a guide is a hundred eighty nuyen. That sound reasonable?" he asks.

Yaqui raises an eyebrow at the Credstick. "That… is useless to me." He offers gently. "Do you have cash?"

Slinger blinks. Wow. That actually took him by surprise. "I don't have any local scrip," he admits. "Let me ask my employer how best to handle this."

Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "Um… offered him cash, but he can't take a credstick, and I got no local scrip. Somehow, I have a feeling UCAS scrip ain't exactly legal here?"

Janie leans back in her seat and lifts her beer bottle to her eye level, as if trying to discern the secrets of the universe in the beads of dew on its sides… Or, perhaps, to disguise the fact that she's paying a bit more attention to the man in the corner beyond said bottle…

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Annie (#5398) rolls Aura Reading vs TN 5 for "Base tn 4 + 1 for BG count. 2:1 Ratio for aura reading comp skill.":
1 3 4 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Annie (#5398) rolls Intelligence vs TN 5 for "Aura Reading the dude. Same tn as comp.":
1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 4 4 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Annie (#5398) rolls Intelligence vs TN 5 for "Aura Reading the dude. Same tn as comp. kp 3/24":
2 2 3 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 9 10 = 4 Successes

Anger. He's an angry man. Probably hits his kids, is mean to his animals. He's half drunk, but still sharp. His aura flares brightly, but not as bright as the awakened. There may be a little trace of magic in him, but he's unaware of it. He's not cybered.

Commlink-Breeze> Annie says, "Hmm, he may be a dead end. I get definite wife-beater vibes at him. Not enough Indian to fit in here, but enough of an Indian to get a hard time on the Anglo Res. Just a pissed off deadbeat."
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Janie (#4136) rolls Stealth for "How to look inobtrusive while scoping someone out.":
1 2 2 3 4 5 5 10
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Janie (#4136) rolls Intelligence for "Scoping…":
1 1 2 2 4 4 8

The man staggers up from his chair, his beer bottle empty. His head is shaved bald, save for a pair of strips that run around temple to meet in a long pony tail that grows from the hair at the back of the head, which is not shaven. "YOU!" He points at Janie. "Whore! Comin in here, looken all cocky! YOU ain't nothen! Fucken Yooo-Cass spy, s'whatcha are!"

Will gives that look of 'oh shit' that comes over a businessman who knwos his business is over for the night. "Stand down, Jacky Jo.. Go back to your beer."

"Shaddup Will… This bitch has been eyeballen me…"

Well, so much for a low profile. Janie listens carefully for changes in the hubbub of the bar — she needs a feel of the general mood of the rest of the patrons, but this drunk's too volatile for her to safely turn her gaze away.

"You were staring at me hard enough to burn a hole in the wall," she points out calmly. "If you object to being paid attention to, I'd recommend that you leave others to their peace as well." Not perhaps the most diplomatic response, but she's a bodyguard, and there's limits to how diplomatic a bodyguard will let herself be.

Besides, it's not as if there's /any/ response, including a total lack of one, that won't set Jacky off - so the only thing there is to do is to shape the detonation.

Oh, she's a wordy bitch. He stumbles closer, narrowing his eyes. "Oh.. got us an -educated- crotchdropper here!" Says Jacky Jo… "Betcha you think you're real fucken special, walken with an elder an' maken like your bettern' us. Betcha you ain't shit, is ya?" He steps forward again…

Annie sets her beer mug down on the table and turns slightly to watch the scene unfolding between her bodyguard and Jackie Jo.

Honestly? Slinger is watching Janie, but not actually intervening. Janie can take care of herself, Slinger knows. But he's keeping an eye on the situation.

Annie just watches the engagement quietly. Janie is the bodyguard after all…helping out against the town angry drunk would be somewhat unseemly.

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Janie (#4136) rolls Intelligence for "I'm a little preoccupied right now, but there's nothing much wrong with y situational awareness.":
1 1 2 2 2 3 4
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Annie (#5398) rolls Intelligence:
1 2 2 3 4 5 5 5 7 9 11 22
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Janie (#4136) rolls Intelligence for "KP 2/47":
1 3 3 4 4 8 8

He doesn't seem as drunk as he's playing, but who knows.

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 7 vs TN 2 for "Initiating surprise attack, ITS MILLER TIME!":
2 3 3 3 5 15 16 = 7 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Janie (#4136) rolls Reaction + Combat Pool: 3 vs TN 4 for "O noes!":
1 1 1 1 1 2 2 3 4 4 5 5 10 16 = 6 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Janie (#4136) rolls Reaction + Combat Pool: 3 - 6 vs TN 4 for "O noes! KP 3/47":
1 1 2 3 3 4 5 5 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Janie (#4136) rolls Athletics vs TN 5 for "*whack*":
2 3 3 4 9 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Janie (#4136) rolls Athletics - 1 vs TN 5 for "KP 4/47":
1 1 2 4 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 4 vs TN 4 for "ZOMG TABLE!":
1 1 7 9 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Janie (#4136) rolls Athletics - 1 vs TN 5 for "KP 6/47":
4 4 5 11 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 4 - 2 vs TN 4 for "ZOMG TABLE! KP 1/5":
4 5 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Janie (#4136) rolls Athletics - 3 vs TN 5 for "KP 9/47":
2 3 = 0 Successes

Janie had been expecting Jacky to do something violent, and the moment he starts swinging his bottle her foot shoots out, catching the table and shoving it at him — but Jacky appears to be a lot less drunk than he let on and manages to dodge around it.

Jacky Jo: not as think as you drunk he is. He blinks as the table scoots his way. He hops up, bouncing off it to bring the bottle now aiming down. "BITCH!" He calls out, like thats some kind of amazing vindective.

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 (Clubs) + Combat Pool: 5 vs TN 4 for "It's the king of beers!":
2 2 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 17 = 4 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 (Clubs) + Combat Pool: 5 - 4 vs TN 4 for "It's the king of beers! KP 1/5":
2 2 3 4 4 13 = 3 Successes

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Janie (#4136) rolls Clubs vs TN 4 for "Full defense: Roll combat test with just the skill.":
1 2 4 9 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Janie (#4136) rolls Clubs - 2 vs TN 4 for "KP 10/47":
11 15 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Janie (#4136) rolls Combat Pool: 8 vs TN 4 for "Dodgy dodgerson! Oh, and using the Zoning maneuver from escrima/clubs, btw.":
1 1 2 3 4 5 9 10 = 4 Successes

Janie: Successful zoning and full defense.

The bottle comes swinging down at where Janie's face used to be about half a fraction of a second ago. The redhaired Anglo woman moves like a mongoose, bringing her own bottle up and deflecting the strike just enough to slip under and around it, ending up standing behind Jacky Jo's back while he stares at the empty seat.

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 8 for "WhiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiizTHUNK":
1 2 3 4 5 5 5 11
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 4 for "Wait, Whiizzzzz.. *THUNK*? Oh. THUNK! *thunk*.":
1 2 3 5
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 8 vs TN 6 for "Thunk. It's thunk, right?":
1 1 2 2 4 5 8 9 = 2 Successes

Vulcan says, "Jackey takes an M wound (S) from a flying bottle."

He missed. Jo never misses. He backs up a step, just as Annie speaks, his guard coming back up. "You move like a Mustang, Shidizhee!" He was about to dive back in, when the bottle catches him on the back of the neck, sending him sprawling at Janie's feet… "Son… of… ouch…"

"You thought an Elder would hire an incompetent bodyguard?" Janie asks mildly, albeit with an edge of steel showing underneath, her own guard up.

Slinger was eyeing the guy attacking Janie. Annie's comment, though, makes the elf actually take a step back. This… is gonna be amusing. He glances to his right, making sure Yaqui is safely out of the way.
Janie can handle herself. Slinger knew that.

Yaqui eyes the altercation, but shows no intention of getting involved.
Annie picks up her glass and takes a sip, watching the unfolding scene with interest.

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Janie (#4136) rolls Intelligence (to Vulcan) for "This feels kind of staged, actually…":
2 3 3 4 4 5 11

Well, the man DID just call you by your fucking team name…

Jacky Jo starts to come back to his feet, but upon seeing the crowd's turn of mood… and presence of more bottles… He starts to back up. "Bitch… I'll be seeing your ass later." He says, blustering, as he heads for the door.

Commlink-Breeze> Annie says, "Um. Something is odd here. He called you 'Mustang', and he used 'Shidizhee' which is the same term the spirit who contacted me used."

"I'll be waiting," Janie replies, returning bluster with cool resolve, then turns to Will. "My apologies for the damage."

Will shrugs it off. "No problem. He's… a local hothead. The kind that doesn't really fit in anywhere. He's been here a few months."

Annie levers herself wearily out of her seat, dropping a big wad of monopoly-colored Ute scrip on the bar. "That's about enough excitement for me for the night.", she takes a moment to look around the room before looking back at Will, "Go ahead and serve drinks on me until that runs out."

Will eyes the money, then picks it up, thumbing through it. "Drinks on the house till last call, On account of Ms…." A pause. "What was your name again?"

Annie grins tiredly at Will, "Just call me Breeze", she gestures toward Slinger and Janie and indicates the door.

Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "Somebody's breaking into the SUV. Fuckers!"

Slinger whirls around, heading out of the bar at a dead run, and heading out toward his vehicle. Even while he does, he is doing his best to activate his invisibility spell. Hopefully, while people are distracted.

Yaqui blinks as Slinger just… disappears (metaphorically) in to a blur of motion. Will glances over, but the others are more interested in FREE DRINKS!!!

Outside, Slinger will find a dark shape currently working on getting the plate to the passenger's door off. Odd, a car thief would go for the drivers door. He's bent over, trying to move quickly, and to his credit, he is.

Slinger eyes the guy, preparing a spell, and activates his Levitation spell. Moving silently — but swiftly — to float over to the guy invisibly.

The man moves quietly, glancing over to the door and also checking over the fender of the car at some unknown point in the distance. The plate's off. He slides a small, pocket sized descrambler from his pocket and slots it in to the lock. In another 5 seconds it will disengage the lock.

Annie hobbles toward the still open door, her staff coming out and expanding to it's full length with it's customary *snikt* sound. She nods pleasantly to the bar patrons that thank her as she passes, but manages to subvocalize over the comms «If it's our angry drunk, try not to kill him. He may be our contact

Slinger floats rapidly up behind the guy — and reaches out for the descrambler, to pull it free. "That's /NOT/ how you do it," says the disembodied elfin voice — as he switches to astral perception, checking the guy's aura.

The shape whirls as the descrambler is taken from him. "Son of a -BITCH!-" He growls, his aura showing him to be now, terrified. Not of Slinger though. More of the situation. "I don't have time for this, halffuck!" Mutters the man. A tubular case is tossed in the air. "Catch, motherfucker!" The tone is not the kind of tone one would use when throwing a grenade. It's more like 'Catch!'. Then the man, his aura showing him not necessarily anything more than scared, maybe a hint of latent magic… starts to run off.

It's a cylindrical tube, about 9 inches long. It is light, and through the -transparent- end, Slinger can see a piece of paper.

Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "I… believe I just got served papers. What the hell?"
Commlink-Mustang> "I think we're about t'learn a lot more about why we were called here," Janie subvocalizes into her comm as she follows Annie out to the car.
Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "Well, one thing it can't be is a paternity suit."

Annie heads on out of the bar, pausing a moment before going out the door to allow Janie to catch up with her. Once the gunslinger is at her side she heads on outside, listening intently to the ongoing comms.

Slinger takes a few moments to wait for Annie and Janie to catch up with him, while he works on fixing the damage done to the SUV.

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Slinger (#69) rolls Electronics B/R vs TN 7 for "Fixing my car.":
1 2 2 3 7 14 = 2 Successes

Slinger casually hands the case to Annie. "I bet I don't understand the language that's in."

Annie leans her staff against emotrucks bumber, accepts the case and then opens it before pulling out the piece of paper. "Hmm", she murmurs to herself and she unrolls the paper and looks over the contents.

Actually, it's in English.

It's a set of longitude and latitude coordinates, followed by 4*4 and 23:44:00/12/31/69,-109.444427&spn=0.262348,0.52803&t=p&z=11

Slinger works on the lock, finally seems to get it put back together. Not as well as B-side could do it, but better. "So, you got some scrip you can give Yaqui? I offered him 180 yen. Would pay it myself, but I don't have local scrip."

Around then, the aforementioned Yaqui pokes his head out the door. "Everything okay out here?" Asks the bronze skinned youth.
Annie looks over the paper for a moment, "Looks like some GPS coords and a time", she checks her chronometer, "And we have about an hour." She nods absently to Slinger and hands him most of the rest of her Ute scrip, "There you go.", she replies absently before climbing into the SUV and punching in the coordinates to the GPS.

Slinger nods thoughtfully. "Should we bring him?" the youth asks, as he kills the invis spell and the levitation spell, and heads back for the bar. "Might be a useful guide. On the other hand, might find out stuff we don't want him to know."

"Let's leave him f'r now," Janie suggests as she gets onboard. "I'd like t'know what we're here f'r before we decide how many people we take how far into confidence."
Annie indicates the gps which now shows the area of the coordinates, "You might ask him about this area. Anything we need to know?"
Yaqui blinks as Slinger suddenly appears… "… I did not know you were gifted!" Says the man now as he comes closer in the darkness. "All is well?"

Slinger smiles. "Gifted, but still a stupid white-boy," he says, with a soft chuckle. "This honored lady is the one in charge. And I think she has some questions for you." He hands over the scrip, without hesitation. "For your services."

Yaqui looks over to Annie. "How can I assist an elder?" He asks, stepping closer now and zipping his jacket against the breeze.

Annie gestures the boy over and indicates the SUV's gps screen. "This area here", she points with one gnarled finger, "What can you tell us about it? Anything we should know before we drive out there at this time of night?", she pauses and adds, "And it probably doesn't bear mentioning…but we would appreciate you not mentioning anything about what we do while we are here. I've had more than my share of corporate espionage in the competitive Denver herb market."

The Native man nods, looking in to the car. He takes an eyefull of the interior, too. "Well.. This is up in Abejo Peak, overlooking this valley. It's rough terrain, you'd need a good truck to get up there…" A glance at the SUV… "This will not do. Too heavy."

"Master, did he just imply I had gained weight?"
"AHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Says Yaqui as he jumps out of the truck.

Slinger shushes the car, but cannot help but laugh. "It's the autopilot. It talks. Running joke from a friend of mine," Slinger tells Yaqui. He reaches for his smokes and lights one up. "All right… so what do we need? And who the hell was trying to break into my car to leave this? He was Awakened, a bit…"

Yaqui raises an eyebrow, looking to Slinger as he drops more bits of information. "That was why you rushed out… someoen was breaking in to your car, and left this?"

"Yeah," Slinger comments, exhaling a stream of smoke. "Question remains — you got something that will make it up the hill?" he wonders. "Or know where we could find it?" He glances at the SUV, and then back at Yaqui. "I'm hoping people will leave the damned thing alone if it's left here."

Yaqui nods. "Absolutely. My old Buck is more than able to make the trip, but she has no heater, so you will need to dress warm… I could take you up there."

Annie turns her head slightly away from the boy to mask her subvocalization, «Ok, I don't think at this point we can compromise much more. So I say we bring him and his knowledge of the road.», she pauses and then adds, «I can always erase his memory later

Janie very carefully does not glower at Slinger or express frustration in any shape or form - but she does send a carefully metered burst of static on her comm in the vague hope he gets the hint.

Slinger hears the static. Gets a hint that Janie is displeased. Has no idea why. So he shuts up.

Yaqui looks to Annie then. "Elder?" He asks quietly… "Why do you go to the place the man who tried to steal your car tells you to go? Are you… not looking to start a business in Montecello? Are you not as you say?"
Yaqui seems very confused.

Annie turns to face Yaqui and cocks her head slightly, "It is actually a little more complicated that I let on in the bar, but rest assured that I will do what I offered in there to assist your community here in Montecello. I will bring some jobs to your economy.", she looks the youth in the eye and adds gravely, "This I swear on the bones of my ancestors." She pauses a moment before continuing, "But what brought your home to my attention was the visitation by a spirit that asked me to come here. As an Apache willworker I take such requests from the Spirits very seriously. So here I am and it appears that spirit wants me to meet her up on Abejo peak in about an hour."

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 4 for "Mystery":
1 1 2 11

The man contemplates that. "So this is a spirit journey." He says with a moments pause. "I understand, and will assist in all ways that I can." He offers a nod, then steps back, pulling out a cellphone. "Let me call my uncle, he will get my Buck started and ready."

Annie raises a hand as he pulls out the cellphone, "I would prefer that we not broadcast this over the airwaves. It's a spirit thing.", she pauses and adds, "Just take us to your Buck. No need to bring another person into this."

Janie, meanwhile, is standing about a meter and a half behind Yaqui, studying his posture and aura. Just in case. Really.

<Plot» Vulcan says, "Perception checks, though!"
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Janie (#4136) rolls Intelligence for "Hmmm…":
1 2 3 3 5 11 11
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Annie (#5398) rolls Intelligence for "Don't make me hurt you boy…":
1 1 2 2 3 4 4 4 5 5 5 9
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Slinger (#69) rolls Intelligence:
2 3 4 4 5 11

Yaqui nods, suddenly unsure, but he does put the phone back in his pocket… though the very quiet beep of 'send' can be heard, like he connected the call he had been quing up anyway. "Of course, Elder."

Janie catches Annie's eye and shakes her head.

Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "He placed the call anyway. I heard it."
«Plot» Annie says, "Ok, influence spell on the boy."
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Annie (#5398) rolls Sorcery + Sorcery Pool: 10 + 2 (manip) + 6 (Power Focus) vs TN 6 for "Tn 5 + 1 Background. Gimme your phone boy.":
1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 7 8 8 9 11 11 19 = 7 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Annie (#5398) rolls Willpower + Sorcery Pool: 1 vs TN 4 for "Resist 4S drain. Need 4 successes with Trauma Damper.":
1 1 1 1 1 4 4 4 5 9 11 11 = 7 Successes

Annie makes a jedi-like movement with her left hand, "Give me your phone boy" The spell takes hold on the kid, prompting him to hand over the phone and totally forget that he did it. She holds out her hand and waits for the spell to take full effect.

The boy does exactly as asked, pulling the phone out. He looks at it for a long moment, seeming to look at it as though he doesn't quite understand why he's doing what he does. "Yes Ma'am." He says, passing it over.

Annie smiles in a grandmotherly fashion as she punches the end call button and then pulls out the battery before tucking the device in one of her pockets. "Alright, lets go get your Buck."

"Assumin' he actually /has/ one," Janie points out.
The man nods then.. "Okay. We can do that." He says, thinking that over. "Let me get my other truck, it's right there." He says pointing to a Ford F-400. "She's what I use for driving around town."

«Plot» Vulcan says, "Slinger: Give me a perception check. Gonna be… TN 10."
«Plot» Vulcan says, "A hard thing to do in the quickness."
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Slinger (#69) rolls Intelligence + Karma Pool: 1 vs TN 10 for "KP 10/35.":
3 3 4 4 5 9 23 = 1 Success

Slinger eyes Yaqui, then glances back to Annie. He's letting her make the calls on this. « I think Yaqui is workin' for the Ministry of Stupid Dickwads or whatever they are, » the youth mutters subvocally. « He was callin' somebody named Washborn. »

Commlink-Mustang> "They call it 'ministry of self determination'," Janie replies, a certain icyness in her voice audible even in subvocalization and with the fuzz of encryption. "We'll need him out o'th'picture f'r at least as long as we need t'do what we're here for."
Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "Think he needs to take a nap?"
Commlink-Breeze> Annie says, "If he is right about needing an offroad vehicle, he may be our best lead. I can always erase his memory and leave him in an alley with a bottle of Southern Comfort."
Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "Yeah. Frag. Always the fraggin' cute ones."

Annie calls out once more to stop the kid, "Yaqui, please ride with us. I think you will like what this truck can do. We will bring you back to your truck later."

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Slinger (#69) rolls Centering vs TN 2 for "Centering against penalties.":
2 3 3 3 4 4 = 6 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Slinger (#69) rolls Sorcery + Sorcery Pool: 4 + 7 (power focus) vs TN 5 for "Analyze Truth on Yaqui.":
1 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 10 11 = 6 Successes
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Slinger (#69) rolls Sorcery + Sorcery Pool: 4 + 7 (power focus) - 6 (succs) vs TN 5 for "Analyze Truth on Yaqui. KP 11/35.":
2 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 7 9 = 5 Successes

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Slinger (#69) rolls Willpower vs TN 2 for "F5, L drain, 2L drain.":
1 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 5 7 = 9 Successes

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 4 vs TN 12 for "Perception: Did Slinger cast?":
1 4 5 9 = 0 Successes

Glancing back to Annie, Yaqui smiles. "No, it's alright. Follow me. I do not wish to leave my truck here, it is hard to switch vehicles. My Uncle does not drive, and my home is far from town."

Annie exhales sadly, "Sorry kid", her voice alters to a rhythmic sperethiel chant as she centers against the lingering astral garbage that seems to loiter over the town.

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Annie (#5398) rolls Centering vs TN 2 for "Eradicating penalties":
1 3 4 4 5 5 = 5 Successes

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Annie (#5398) rolls Sorcery + Sorcery Pool: 10 - 1 (air spell) + 6 (power focus) vs TN 5 for "Mindprobe.":
1 1 1 1 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 7 8 11 13 = 11 Successes

Yaqui just wants the hell out of this shithole of a town. The MSD offered him a full ride to Boulder U in Denver, and he has no love for these strangers, who clearly are hiding things that could be detrimental. It probably has something to do with the recent night-fires to the south, and he can make a name by turning these outlanders in. The trail isn't nearly as bad as he says it is. He was fishing for work from the rich Elder and her Anglo lackies. His truck would be helpful, but the Suburban could probably make the grade if required. The truck has no access codes, and hell, not even an ignition. It is started by turning the screw driver.

Commlink-Breeze> Annie says, "Slinger, my dart pistol there in your truck is loaded with Laes if you can shoot it."
Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "How 'bout just Narcoject?"
Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "I got one of those right here."
Commlink-Breeze> Annie says, "The laes would erase all of us from his mind. But either works."
Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "We can use a spell for that. Gentler."
Commlink-Breeze> Annie says, "Ok, take him down."

«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls Reaction vs TN 4 for "Quickdraw.":
1 2 2 3 4 5 5 5 5 8 = 6 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls Intelligence for "Perception, if needed.":
1 2 4 5 5 8 8 9 9 10
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls Pistols + Combat Pool: 6 vs TN 2 for "Shooting the cute guy…":
1 1 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 5 = 10 Successes

"Well, follow me, guys." Says Yaqui, turning to head to his truck.

Slinger draws his weapon in a swift motion from its concealable holster. Only afterward does he think to check to make sure nobody's watching. He didn't /see/ anybody, but it bears watching. And then he lines up his shot, pulls the trigger. Yaqui didn't see anything coming. Poor guy. "We're not leaving him out in the cold," Slinger mutters, after the guy drops. He slips his weapon back into the holster. "You wanna do the memory wipe, or should I?"

He's a sack of meat now, meat that will quickly catch hypothermia in the snow bank he just stumbled in to in the short time it took the Chems to knock him down. He's got a reasonable constitution, but he's just not got whats needed to stop that crack shot.

Annie shrugs, "Go ahead. You could probably put him in his truck over there afterward."

Slinger nods. "Are we taking the SUV, then?" The youth goves over to lift Yaqui, brushing the snow off of him first — but decides to take the path of least resistance. Why carry him when magic can do the work, and probably be a /little/ less conspicuous than Slinger carrying another guy. Even if Yaqui /is/ cute…

Annie nods to Slinger even though the elfs attention is on the unconscious guide, "Yeah, apparently he overstated the road conditions up there.", she chuckles, "Emotruck should be able to make it." While Slinger does his mojo she re-equips herself from the concealable compartments and then waits for the memory wipe to be done.

"I am not Emo." States Orchid Oscuro, otherwise called OhOh, in a tone that firmly establishes it's Emo credentials.

«Auto-Judge[]» Vulcan (#3087) rolls 5 for "Myssssteery.":
1 2 3 4 7

«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls Magic vs TN 2 for "Filtering against BG count of up to 2.":
1 1 1 1 1 3 4 4 4 5 5 9 9 = 8 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls Sorcery + Sorcery Pool: 7 + 7 (power focus) vs TN 5 for "Alter Memory, F6. Threshold is 3 successes.":
1 1 1 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 8 10 10 10 11 15 16 19 = 11 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls Willpower + Sorcery Pool: 2 vs TN 3 for "F6, D, 3D drain.":
1 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 5 5 5 10 = 7 Successes

The young mage uses his spell to carry Yaqui to his vehicle. Keys are easily found, door unlocked. Engine is started, and Slinger makes sure the vehicle has enough gas for now. Long enough for Yaqui to have a good nap, with the heater running to ward off the cold. Exposure is a crappy way to die — or words, lose appendages to. And Yaqui can ill afford medical expenses.
That done, the youth steps back and concentrates. It takes him only a few moments to rewrite Yaqui's memory of the evening. He had a little too much to drink, yeah. He vaguely remembers something about a woman from out of town, but nothing specific — and definitely nothing specific enough to report. Vague memory of Slinger, but very vague. He alters the memories to be fuzzy, hazy, alcohol induced — and most of all, to include nothing magical, nothing anything but strictly normal and routine.
Eventually, Yaqui may remember something — somebody may mention something to him, but this way he'll just have a fuzzy recollection, and chalk it up to the drink.
At least, that's what Slinger hopes.

Annie chuckles at the trucks tone and then heads around and climbs into the passenger seat for the trip.

The boys in the truck, drooling and Slinger has shut the door. He's actually walking away from the truck, far enough that he's not immediately 'associated' with the truck, when the San Juan County Sheriff pulls in to the parking lot. He drives an Ares Buffalo, one of those big mega Pickups that can do everything short of take rocks in the bed and shit out another truck. It's got Ute Nation and Civil Law Enforcement markings.

Commlink-Slinger> Slinger says, "Okay. It's done. He should just have vague memories of us, and think he drank too much. Just enough memory that if anybody mentions us he'll go, "Oh, yeah… I remember… I think…" The elf grins.

«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls Intelligence + 5 (select sound filters) for "Hearing amp should give -2 TN.":
1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 5 9 11

Oh, hey. Big engine'd truck will be here in about 10 seconds.

«Auto-Judge[]» Annie (#5398) rolls Intelligence for "Normal ol elf ears.":
1 1 2 2 3 4 5 5 7 10 10 16

Yeah. Thats an Ares Buffalo. Used a lot for civil service and law enforcement in rural areas. That one seems to be running the cold weather reheating and compression package based on the rattle.

Plenty of time. Slinger finishes up the spell, making sure it'll take full effect, then closes the door with his gloved hands. « Car coming. Hide anything illegal in the secret compartment! » That done, he activates his Physical Mask spell, changing his appearance /just/ enough to do things like conceal his armor and guns just a little better, and make sure his appearance matches the image on his SIN.
That done, he prepares to do a quick sprint back to his SUV — then realizes that maybe, just maybe, he shouldn't leave footprints heading right to it. Instead, he casts Levitate, doing a quick jaunt, and settles himself back down just outside the door just before the car can pull into view. He quickly makes sure his foci are tucked into hiding as well.

Annie raises her head a bit as she detects the subtle rumble of an incoming vehicle. Hmm, Ares model, probably the Buffalo. «I hear it.», she responds while still climbing into the SUV, «Sounds like a Buffalo. Used a lot in rural areas by law enforcement.»

As predicted, the big Ares Buffalo truck with the lift package, cold-weather intake system, grill de-icer and police package comes around the corner. It uses both Ute Nation and Civil Law Enforcement markings. The windows are tinted, of course, making it almost impossible to ID the driver at this time.

Slinger is back on the ground, next to the SUV, and is reaching for the door handle, nice and casual. Nothing going on here at all, officer. Just two people leaving for the short drive back to the motel, having had nothing to drink. At least, Slinger hasn't. Which is a good thing. This particular elf and alcohol do not mix.

Annie straps herself in to the seat and waits to get on her way. Nothing to see here officer, just a couple of travelers heading home after injecting a bit of cash into the local economy.

The door to the truck opens and out steps Sheriff Maria Alvarez-Jimeniz. Some 45 years old and decidedly an ex military look to her, she glances over the truck with the Fed-look and the UCAS plates and the nice anglo boy getting in to it…

Slinger isn't moving /too/ quickly. Not suspicious-quickly. More like 'Jesus it's fragging cold' quickly as he opens the door to the SUV, sees the door open, and shoots a friendly smile to the nice officer, as he holds the door open, basking in the warmth coming from within. Shivering a little despite his trenchcoat, Slinger maintains the smile, though his teeth are chattering visibly. He adds a friendly wave, with the look of somebody who'd /really/ like to sit down somewhere warm right about now.

It's cold. She's cold. The bar is warm, and it's venison chili night. Maria grunts her passing to the traveler, but does pause long enough to note Slinger's plate in passing. That may come back to be problematic for Slinger later down the road when she runs the plate, but thats down the road. She passes through the door and in to the bar.

The plate should be linked to Kelvin Steele, who already got cleared through customs. Should be a record of him being with the woman. So nothing any more suspicious than is already known. Kelvin aka Slinger smiles with relief, slips into the warm vehicle once the woman is past, and closes the door. "Ready to motor when you are," he tells Annie, as he reaches for his cigarettes.

Slinger puts the car in gear, glances over his shoulder to make sure that Yaqui's truck is still doin' fine, and then starts off, following the map. "You think, just for giggles, you could project back and clean up our signatures?" the elf wonders casually. "I would, but I'm drivin'."

Janie is in the back seat. Sleeping. Because she's a tired girl. Yeah.

Annie nods, "Sure can.", she checks the GPS and takes a moment to memorize the immediate route before leaning back in her seat and projecting. Her astral form flickers back to the bar environs and she spends a couple of minutes cleaning up the lingering spell signatures. Sure it's unlikely this place employs a qualified forensics mage, but it never hurts to be careful. Once she is satisfied with her work, she blurs back down the route the SUV was taking and tries to catch back up with her body.

Qualified forensic mage. Hah. Hahah. Hahahaha. Welcome to nowheres ville. Though, with the recent issues to the south, who knows what could be lurking…

Slinger carefully navigates the SUV along W 200 St, to where it turns into Abajo drive. Then, he follows it toward North Creek, turns left On County Road 102 — or South Creek. And settles down for a twisty, turny, drive, keeping his speed low. "Looks like it's about half a mile from the road, so we'll probably have to park the SUV and walk. Or fly."

Annie rides quietly for most of the trip finally speaking up as they near the destination, "I got something out of the kids mind also, something about mysterious fires to the south. May be something to do with us.", she nods to Slinger and offers a grin, "Nothing like midnight hikes to clear the days stress."

Continued in Part Two

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