Trail of Tears
Johnny is seated at his desk, his features bathed in the emerald glow of an old fashioned text scroll. Code of some sort is rolling by at an amazing rate, and he seems to be absorbing it.
Janie is still carrying her motorcycle helmet as she knocks on the door.
"Come." He says, his voice echoing in the hall. He knows who's out there. He saw them on the sensornet the moment they came in to the property.
Janie opens the door and walks in. She still looks just a tad singed around the edges, courtesy of drastic mana burn. "Sorry about this," she begins.
Johnny doesn't look over from his code. "You'll have to be more specific. AS of yet, I only have the data the ute are offering, which are basically that you slaughtered a small towns police force. Not out of the range of your operational capability, but out of scope for your philosophical matrix."
"Actually, th'mountain did that particular bit o'slaughterin'," Janie replies. "Th'spirit didn't call us there t'help in any way. It just wanted witnesses…"

She sighs. "Mind if I sit down? This'll take a while an' I'd best start at th'beginnin'."
Johnny gestures to the chair on the other side of the chair. "Sometimes the most important thing you can do, is see a thing." he offers, as the monitor snaps off, going to a solid blue with the UCAS CIA logo.
"What I saw…" Janie murmurs as she sits down. "Right. Begin at th'beginnin'. We made it into th'Ute Nation an' to t' Montecello without too much incident other'n th'manastorm, usin' Annie's status as a licensed talismonger an' th'two o'us as hired bodyguards. After checkin' into a motel we decided t'hit a pub t'get a feel f'r th'local situation an'then get some rest before settin' out t'find out what we'd been called there for in th'mornin'…"

Johnny raises an eyebrow at that… "You went with your… actual faces. Splendid."
Janie nods, not flinching at the wholly deserved criticism. "Aye. It's entirely possible that anythin' ye intend t'say t'me about that I've already said t'myself in th'past few days. If ye want t'say it regardless I promise t'sit here an'take it, offerin' no excuse, but first I'd like t'continue th'report."

Johnny shrugs, tossing the Screed-sheet from the Ute on the desk. "I don't have to say a thing. Proceed."
"Economically speakin', Montecello'd been crumblin' into dust f'r a long time already. No resources, no industry, no jobs, nothin' t'attract them either. When Annie dropped a hint that she might want t'hire more than a few people t'set up a talismongerin' operation people got very interested. At th'time it felt like a good idea t'make people a little more inclined t'talk to us. Slinger found himself a cute local kid t'flirt with, an'th'resident grouchy drunk tried t'brain me with a beer bottle while slippin' my call sign into th'insults he was slingin' at me…"
Johnny nods, leaning back to fix Janie with his full and undivided attention.
"In between tradin' insults an'threats he mentioned we'd need t'meet later that night, an'shortly after he left someone who might've been him tried t'sneak a message includin' coordinates an'a specific time into Slinger's van."

She scowls. "When Slinger heard th'alert, he went invisible right in front o'th'kid he'd been flirtin' with and went straight f'r his van, chased th'guy off an'started discussin' what he'd found with us right in front o'th'kid before either o'us could warn him off…"
He nods then. "Expected. HE's not a field agent in the classic sense. More reaction than measured action."
"Aye," Janie agrees. "F'r most o'th'trip he was concentratin' on how terribly he wanted t'help th'people there improve their lives rather'n on th'mission… An' I suppose he couldn't have /known/ that th'cute kid he'd been flirtin' with was th'resident MSD snitch."
"In the land of the poor, everyones a snitch."
"Hazard of the job. Everyone stands to gain from turning over."
Janie nods. "We spotted him when he tried t'call th'MSD an' Annie knocked him out an'fudged his memory; we didn't have time f'r much more'n that before we had t'get to th'meeting point."
Johnny listens, offering grunts at key points.
"Th'meet point was pretty high up in th'mountain, on th'far side o'a ravine," Janie continues. "Covert surveillance outpost manned by a familiar face." An indicative glance at the CIA logo on Johnny's monitor. "He filled us in on what'd been goin' on…"
Johnny nods. "I've got the report on that, yes."
Janie shudders. "He gave us th'summary o'how th'reservation residents were bein' systematically taken' out t'a quarry, gassed with VX an' th'bodies burned… But there was one detail he didn't have a way o'knowin' because he wasn't a mage an' didn't know th'geography well enough…"

"But Slinger is an'does. Th'massacrin' was happenin' right on top o'one o'th'mana lines."

Johnny nods, not taking his eyes of Janie, listening impassively. "That would explain why the being asked for magi."
"Accordin' t'th'mountain, th' 'thing' was probably someone named 'Whitebone'," Janie replies. "It told us it called him or her, an'probably told them t'make sure there'd be people around t'witness what it was about t'do."

"Whitebone. Get with Annie and research that."
Janie nods. "We saw th'writin' on th'wall at that point an'got th'hell out o'dodge. We cut it it almost too close - we had t'play tag with a JPC attack helicopter until the mountain stood up an'squished it before doin' th'same with th'massacre site, th'reservation, an' pretty much everythin' else in a large radius."
Johnny raises an eyebrow. "Stood up. Can you clarify?"
"I'm bein' literal. Th'entire mountain stood up, unfoldin' into somethin' vaguely humanoid shaped, an' smashed th'place that'd been pourin' poison into its soul…"

She shudders a second time, then looks directly at Johnny again. "I got a good look at it, an'… I think th'poisonin' was th'actual point o'th'whole exercise. It was riddled with… Sickness, I suppose. Darkness. Decay…"

«Auto-Judge[1477]» Janie (#4136) rolls Magic Background for "how good a job am I doing of explaining this?":
1 2 4 5 5
«Auto-Judge[1477]» Johnny (#799) rolls Magical Background + Task Pool: 3:
1 1 1 2 3 4 5 5 8

Pretty good. He nods, thinking that over. "Interesting."
"… I'd never seen anythin' like it before. I hope I'll never have to again," she finishes.
"The wonders of Magic. They will continue to come. Once, thera levitated an entire island the size of Manhatten. Their warships were chunks of rock flung in to the air. They made wards so dense that the most powerful of astral beings couldn't break through them. Magic… is amazing."
Janie pauses for a moment, then continues. "I spent most o'th'return trip in a daze after I nearly fried myself tryin' t'call on a spirit f'r help with th'chopper, so my theory could just be delirium," she admits. "but I can't help but think that poisonin' th'mana lines was /someone's/ actual purpose…"
"It's entirely possible the Japanese had no idea waht they were doing. THe question becomes… who did?"
Janie nods. "If th'Japanese had /any/ idea o'what they were doin', they wouldn't have tossed away th'military forces they lost when th'mountain got mad. An' if th'Ute had any idea o'what their little genocide pogrom'd cause, they'd have shot th'Japanese down th'moment they made th'proposition…"

You can almost see how her mind detaches from the memories of what she'd witnessed and focuses on the greater picture.

Johnny grunts. "UCAS Airforce bomber in route from Denver to Seattle shows 3 radar sigs got away. They apparently lost only one chopper."

"… I know I'm personally possibly biased t'think poorly o'Aztlan in general," she admits carefully after a minute's thought. "… But somehow I'm reminded o'some o'th'rumors about what happened when th'Yucatan went insane."

Johnny shrugs. "Sounds like you need to do some investiation. And your investigation won't be happening in Denver."

"Right now, I need t'lie low," Janie points out. "An' learn how not t'look like myself. Which is th'other reason I came here," she admits. "Ye're easily th'best I know at th'art o'disguise an'deception. C'n ye teach me?"

"I can. And the best place for you to lay low, would be away from Ute power and control. Maybe an extended vacation to Northen California. Think about it."

Janie thinks that over. "NorCal's nice this time o'year, I've heard" she agrees.

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