21
Nov
14

Seattle Mission 23: Every Man’s Devil – Part 4

SEATTLE MISSION 23: EVERY MAN’S DEVIL – PART 4
Written by: Bear           Played on: 01 Mar 2014
PREVIOUS: Mission 23: Every Man’s Devil – Part 4
NEXT: Mission 24: The Viper That Stings

As we walked the short distance Mr. Johnson again speaks, “I’ve been pleased with your performance. I would like to offer you all a more permanent position. You see, we are a group that is dedicated to changing the status quo.”

It was at that moment when a robed man stepped from the chopper, he walked with an ornate staff and a large medallion hung around his neck, both ordained with a dragon. The staff had a golden dragon coiled along the shaft beneath a headpiece. The headpiece was unmistakable. The house, earth, sea and sky seemed to revolve around the winged beast in the medallion. The very image that has been burned into my new family, and I; the malevolence that has haunted my dreams, more so since it is the last that remains.

The other shoe! It is dropping! The robed man was recognized by a few of them as one they had met before in Denver.

The recognition hits each of us in turn as the man bows his head and offers the staff to Mr. Johnson. Dumb-founded, we all fail to react as Mr. Johnson nods to the robed man and turns to face us, “You see, the six of you have been on my mind for a while now. You have left many holes within my organization over the last few years, and even though you consistently evade our wishes, you have proven yourselves useful. I believe that each of you will be able to fill those jobs.”

He glanced across us, “The head of national security, a new general, leaders and protectors of those who rule the streets, and even those who watch over the wilds. You may think that you have cleared my side of my pawns, my knights, my bishops, my rooks, and even my queen. But there are more pieces to put into play. Those fools that you have cleared were just that, fools; stuck in their ways of thinking. All they wanted was power. They were driven by the sins of man, lusting for power and glory. But not you, no, the six of you are different. Together we can usher in a new age upon this planet. I would have you work for me, give you control where those who have fallen failed me, failed all of us. Don’t you see? Together we can help protect and defend the lives of countless people. You have proven yourselves time, and again to be survivors, each of you understands what is most important in this world. Even more so, you continue to surprise and prove your usefulness.”

He paused and is met with stark silence. For years we have fought, struggled, each of us has been moments from death. We’ve done regrettable deeds, lost friends and family, we’ve left a path of destruction in our wake and all he can say is that we’re ‘useful’? Why can’t we speak? Each of us was frozen in a moment of shock to not only be face-to-face, but to have just protected and shared our lives, with the conductor of our misfortunate lives.

“Ah. It seems, that quite reasonably, you are looking for a sign of faith. I assure you, that I mean you no harm, my name, is Father Antenor. I can assure you that there is great knowledge that comes with age, and I have seen this world… turn, a time, or two.” He picks his words carefully, but with practiced grace.

That was when the realization struck. We regained our ground and told the ‘father’ that we would not work for him. But I couldn’t help but see the glint in Wheeler and Marius’ eyes. They could be a UCAS General and Ares CEO respectively, if only they signed the dotted line.

Antenor’s eyes locked on to mine and in my head I told him that there was nothing he could offer me. To which he replied, “I could even bring back those who have been lost,” and images of my family and tribe flooded my mind.

Father Antenor made tempting offers for each of them. For Marius, it was the chance to take control of and institute the changes he desired so much in a AAA corp. For Bear, it was the possibility of reuniting with his family, though he could not be sure that such a miracle would be possible.

From there, things got very tense, although the voices of my family drowned-out much of what was said.

Where Wheeler and Marius were interested to see what Antenor had in mind, Cho and Jade refused. I was unsure of what to do until Antenor made it clear. “Very well, I would hate to lose the two of you, but it is your choice to stay here.” With that about a dozen men with heavy weaponry trained their guns on the two un-armed women while other guards offered rifles to Wheeler, Marius and myself, “Or you can come with us.”

The standoff was tense but the two outcomes were clear. Either, get in the chopper with Antenor, or gun down each other here in the hills.

“I need to know more” Cho said, her eyes staring fiercely at Antenor.

With a sigh, the Father began, “A long time ago, before dragons, it was people who ruled over this planet, men and women who ruled themselves. Then the dragons descended on this world and sought to seize power and take rule. Those times were dark, the masses rose up and were slain, but then there rose a power, strong enough to defeat the dragons. But before it could be used, the dragons sent that power out of the world. Our goal is simple, my organization and I seek to recover that power.”

Total bullshit. “How are we to trust you?” I asked, “You are responsible for so much of the darkness that looms inside each of us.”

Father Antenor looked to his open palms “Yes, this is…somewhat true, and I cannot undo what has been done. But you must agree. The years have made each of you strong. Your skills have been forged in the crucible of these struggles. It has made you useful. I can see that you, young dwarf, cannot be bought with money or status. But I could put you in a position to sway the way things are. My organization will leave the native tribes alone, and you could stop all other interference as well. Be both Bear and Eagle, watching over your kin and stopping those who wish them harm; maintaining their old ways, and traditions in peace. Can you do that on your own? Can you save them all?”

With those last words I heard the echoes of my broken promises. I knew what I had to fight for, I had no choice, I needed to know more.

“That’s all well and good,” thumped Jade. “But I do not trust you. Tell us more about this organization. You cause so much hurt, but you know the breadth of my wrath if you cross us.”

“The details of the power we seek and our organization will be revealed as necessary. But you know this. My offer is not given lightly. And it should not be accepted lightly either. There is no room for weakness, fear, or failure.” All signs of the lighthearted man we drove with were gone; this was a man of darkness who was, very clearly no ordinary man.

We agree and say that we will come, for now. Wheeler, Marius and I reluctantly remove our armor, disarm, and head to the helicopter. But Jade and Cho stand defiant. “Ladies?” inquired Father Antenor, “You must realize that there are many details that I’ve shared with you, if you do not come, there is only one other option.”

Realizing that it was worth dying for, but bullheaded to the end, Cho asks one final question, “What is the name of your organization?”

After a deep breath, Father Antenor obliges, “We have gone by many, but now we are known as The Smoking Mirror.”

With that, through clenched teeth Cho gives-in and Jade follows her lead. Their anger is palpable but they relinquish their equipment and the sense of tension on the look-out point drops, like the sun in the west. All of that was over their shit? Fucking women, that’s all they seem to care about sometimes, and even though Antenor swore our belongings would be returned, I couldn’t help but worry I wouldn’t see Claw or Talon again. But there was something darker in the two ladies, they didn’t like being taken.

Neither did the rest of us, we all get it. This man and his group cannot be trusted. With any luck, we will crumble it just like we’ve done before. But for now, Antenor forced our hand. Personally, I wasn’t about to die for my possessions and it was clear that Father Antenor had bigger things in mind for us and didn’t want to lose his investments. Even though we seemed to be but cogs in the machinery, we had value to him; and him, us. I wanted the information stored in this cruel man’s head. Besides, if push came to shove, we could easily bring down a chopper from the inside without the use of our gear.

We came to a temporary agreement and started toward the chopper. Father Antenor turned and faced the robed man who had handed him the staff, “Bishop Andraste, see that our guests are comfortable.” Once inside the engine kicks on, the blades spin, all electronic transmissions dropped-off and the windows went dark. Noticing our reactions to this, the Bishops assured us, “No worries friends its standard security. Secrecy, after all, is our greatest weapon.”

With that, we began to rise into the crisp spring evening air, to the unknown, to our future.

There was a lot of great role-playing all around in this scene. I was ready for a lot of different ways this scene could have played out, from the team jumping straight to a shootout to accepting his offer wholeheartedly. I didn’t actually have any real idea of how it would play out, but I didn’t actually expect that they would go with him. When confronted with the catalyst of their misfortune, it was hard to know what to expect from this group!

The role-playing went both ways, between the team and Father Antenor and even among themselves. The group was fairly evenly divided on what to do, with Marius and Wheeler being most interested in pursuing these opportunities and Jade and Cho being most set against it. Suggesting to the former two that they might have to kill their compatriots if they could not be convinced really brought it to a head, but also displayed the team’s inherent loyalty to each other… even though Wheeler did seem to be giving it some honest consideration.

Though he started out relegated to a couple of side missions, Mr. Johnson was always intended to be revealed as the source of their troubles.  Originally I hadn’t planned to introduce him until late in the campaign, but during play I realized this wouldn’t make for a very impactful reveal. When I had the opportunity, I instead introduced him during those earlier missions as he took a personal interest in them and setting the stage for this session’s big twist.

PREVIOUS: Mission 23: Every Man’s Devil – Part 4
NEXT: Mission 24: The Viper That Stings
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