Orpheus Episode 11: Desperate Measures
Written by alcoholandaphorism
Scarborough. Within a boarded up house marked over with swastikas and daubed racist slogans the ex Orpheus crucible try to plan against the foretold coming storm. Downstairs the house’s owner Jameel limps on, using a walking stick to aid his movement, his knee still suffering from EDL attacks. He has been trying to keep Michael calm, to convince him he is a better man than he realises. Jasinta, his wife, is busy knitting and haranguing her husband that they need a holiday, anywhere away from this madness. Michael, Timothy and Geoffrey – The ex Orpheus crucible can hear this upstairs as they plan.
“We need to help them “Michael says “They helped us, me, if we just run the people after us will attack them to get to us” Timothy doesn’t hear, his mind is busy, running simulations of possibilities in his head.
“Hmm” Timothy says after a long while “We are in Scarborough. The architecture is old. Gas lines. If there was a gas leak they would have to evacuate the area. Seal the entire place off. We would need an unoccupied building” Tim looks around “Asbestos ceilings as well. Perfect. If a fire broke out they would have to evacuate everyone. We want them panicking. We should pop an explosion just before they arrive. Keep them reacting”
Geoffrey chips in “The people watching from across the road, the police, they don’t understand projectors do they? If need be Jameel would have sedatives. We could take them out”
Michael thinks and answers “I think we want them there. The approaching hit group can probably see us, as can the spectres. Timothy could use one to posses and hide within. If spectres come in as a hunt I can always burn energy to lure them away and ripcord back to my body.”
“Could we rig up a webcam?” Geoffrey asks “Record everything they do and shunt it up to the web”. “I would have no idea how” Michael replies. “Another thought. Timothy, if you could posses head of the hit team somehow if you needed to start shooting you would probably gain a few seconds. There would be a block against shooting back at their own”
Timothy shakes his head “We’re thinking too logically. We need to be thinking unpredictably. They were expected us to break the phone. They will expect the usual moves.. Our main job is making sure everyone gets out ok”.
Michael frowns “Our main objective is getting Jameel and Jasinta out. We dragged them into this. I dragged them into this”
Timothy looks over “I said everyone”.
“Just making sure”
“Right lets get working” Timothy lets his ghost form go incorporeal, walking through the walls to spy for a suitable place to set up a gas leak. He sees the people of the houses, most first or second generation immigrants. Bangladeshi or Pakistani for the most part, just going around their every day lives. Watching east enders. Singing. Doing hair ready to go out. Laughing and joking. The last house of the row is boarded up, seemingly derelict.. Empty cans of Fosters and empty bottles of White Lightning litter the floor. A pile of faeces and used condoms mound in the corner and an smell of urine lingers on everything. This place seems perfect. For a moment Timothy is distracted by a ghost, weak and barely existent. What Orpheus called a static repeater. An old Caucasian woman staring into the corner, wearing floral print dress and Sunday hat. She weeps silently. Timothy looks away. He cannot be distracted. The gas mains are here. A smile spreads across Timothy’s face. Perfect.
Back Jameel’s residence Michael, the only one of the Orpheus crew present in the flesh rather than the plasm, walks downstairs. Preparing for a conversation he would rather avoid. “Jameel, Jasinta, may I have a word please”
Jameel looks up from the Daily Mirror he has been reading. The headline screams “Wanted” and an image of Michael in front of the ruined London shard is plastered on the front. Jameel shakes his head “This is awful my friend”
“It is” Michael says “but not the worst. When I came here I was injured”
“I know Michael, it was I who patched you up”
“The things that did that to me, I thought we escaped them. Now It seems that is not true.”
“You know I worked for Orpheus”
Jameel looks to the paper “Yes we do”
“There we worked with, we saw that ghosts are real”
Jameel looks again at Michael as if he was speaking an obvious truth “Yes of course. And?”
“Some of the ghosts we saw. We do not even know if they were ever human. It is they that are after us”
“Ifrit?” Jameel asks to Jasinta’s gasp. “The agents of Satan? The Koran tells us about such things”
“You could call them that. Men are coming as well. Men who will stop at nothing to cover this up. You helped me and now a whirlwind follows in my wake”
Jameel looks concerned “We knew when you came in that trouble would be following. I saved your life and as such I have a responsibility to you. You must go to the authorities, tell them what you told me”
“These men are the authorities. If I go to them I will not be seen again”
Jameel thinks “So. When do these men come? What would you have me do?”
“Tonight. Six to eight hours. You need to go. Away from here”
Jameel shakes his head with a sigh “Do you think that would make me safer? That they would not come in the night when we return. No, I will not be disappeared, suffocated. Do we got on the run at this age? No Michael I cannot. Do we stand and die?
Michael speaks, soft and mumbling “We can fight these. We have before, but I can’t protect you if you are here. If we fight with you besides us we risk holding back and letting you die or letting loose. People break when we let loose. Break when they see it. The living aren’t meant to see that”
“Michael, do yo think that man quails before this things. That he was weak. Did man quail when god showed them the burning bush? Did they quail before the Ifrit? They had faith as I have faith. I will pray and see what Allah wishes my path to be”
Michael turns away slightly “I shouldn’t have come here. Jameel. When this is done. When no one relies on me. Then I will go to the authorities. I run not for myself, but for those who rely on me. When they are safe I will do as you wish. Now please pray, I am sure you will hear that you should go to safety”
“The lord’s work is complex. We all do his work the best we can” With that Jameel departs with Jasinta, to pray and find guidance. Alone Michael sags down, head in his hands “This was easier before, when Orpheus was around” he takes a deep breath and checks once again the reassuring presence of sharp metal concealed in his sleeves “Right, lets get this done”
Manifesting from his projected spirit Geoffrey taps on a laptop, trying to search for how to rig a web cam up to drop the footage directly online. Possibly to wikileaks or similar. After about an hour of research all he has to show for his time is a bunch of questionable sites with lurid pornographic advertising banners and articles on Asange’s questionable sexual activities. What little technical information he can find is contradictory and to his little knowledge, actively wrong. With a mutter of “Well great” he goes to play B, try to manually record what activity is around. Michael has mentioned a plan to walk outside to to and lose their watchers and leave his body in a place while he projects. Geoffrey can record anyone who tries to follow him.
First he needs to help Timothy though. Geoffrey used to work on gas infrastructures and between the two of them and some ghostly material possession they manage easily to break the mains, spilling gas out into the abandoned room. Returning they find Michael preparing to do his walkabout. Geoffrey’s webcam recording everything outside the window.
“So” Timothy says “Are they ready to leave?”
Michael inclines his head, hearing the murmuring of prayers upstairs “Maybe. That man has an unshakable bravery of which I am eternally envious and right now deeply irritated”
“This is their home. Doesn’t matter if it the police or a busload of Serbians. Nothing shifts you from your home” Timothy comments, remembering past wars
“ A question for you as a military man” Michael says “I’m going to project and hopefully lure the spectres away, but how do we communicate? We have no phones and couldn’t use them when projected anyway. How do we keep in touch in case things go wrong?”
Timothy shrugs “Sometimes you just can’t. On your walk-around you are projecting by the time you come back. End the walk in the building we are about to explode. That should shake them a bit”
Michael pauses “How big will this explosion be? People live here. I don’t want them hurt”
Timothy thinks “Shouldn’t need be too big. Fire will travel fast and more importantly cause chaos. With asbestos in the next building especially. The people watching us are police and that means they have a procedure and follow procedure or risk losing their pensions. Before we know it we should have policeman firemen, ambulance, environment control, gas boards and every blue light in a fifty mile radius. May even make the papers. Make a difference from terrorists and Muslims that they keep on about currently”
“After that we meet up, somewhere nearby. If anyone is late we know something went wrong. Geoffrey you should get to the rendezvous point and wait there. They will seal the roads off soon as they realise what is up. We need a back alley small country pub.”
Michael looks over “Timothy you should stay possessed in one of the police, if the people coming can see spirits it will keep you hidden. If you get the chance you could even wreck the electric records they have of surveillance. Keep Jameel and Jasinta out of this best we can that way”
Timothy shakes his head “We can’t save them. They have to come with us. We owe a lot to them and we will do what we can but we can’t save them here. You have to be ok with that Michael”
“I can’t be ok with that. We can’t drag them deeper into this than we already have”
“They are in already. Jameel understands that I think”
Michael’s face clouds “Let’s get moving then. Before I start thinking too much” with that he pulls up and heads to the door. Time to see who follows. Geoffrey sits low, recording through the window as Michael steps back onto the street. Curtains twitch and elderly women watch nervously at the unknown man walks out onto the street. The sky is grey and overcast, rain is coming in soon. Alone in the deserted street Michael walks.
While Geoffrey tracks police watching them Timothy pushes the energy through himself again. Making his ghost form solid and real. The world resists, a barrier of sorrow and loss rising to meet him and then. Then he breaths, feels warm flesh. Manifested. Seemingly alive again. A warm glow shows from around the photos in the room, around the beloved children and grandchildren. The floor creaks below his now psychical feet as he walks up the stairs to where Jameel and Jasinta pray. He can hear soft weeping and Jameels quiet reassuring voice. The door opens to meet him, Jameel stepping out onto the landing closing the door behind him. Jameel takes off his glasses and wipes his hand across his face “Ahh, it is good to see you again young man. I take it you have been speaking to Michael and have come to persuade me to leave?”
“No I haven’t. It’s like I’m reliving a bad nightmare. I served in Bosnia in troubling times and this situation is all too familiar. I understand more than poor Michael about how these things play out”
Jameel nods “Michael is a good man but he lies to himself at times, about what the world is really like. Considering he has seen more on the streets that we would ever wish to, there is still something idealistic in him. Akin to faith but he will not let himself believe”
“Reminds me of myself, once upon a time” Timothy says “Believing we can save everyone. In happy endings. Happy endings, we all look for those”
“There is only one ending” Jameel says “Happy or not that is up to us. You’ve seen dark things haven’t you”
“I’ve seen, experienced many things. You never thought it odd how easily I entered your house despite how creaky the door hinges are?”
“I just presumed you were quiet” Jameel answers
“I could be devastatingly honest” Timothy says “But I feel you wouldn’t be that devastated. Has Michael explained about the nature of Orpheus? I was an Orpheus employee. Now I’m more the kind of thing Orpheus deals with”
“So you are an ex employee, and I feel one who hasn’t come for a doctor”
Timothy barks a harsh laugh “I have no need for doctors or your wife’s tea any more. I was murdered not long ago by the people who are now trying to murder Michael and all of us”
Jameel nods “I have suspected for some time that you are a lingering shade. Trapped here away from the light of the maker by unfinished business”
“I haven’t had time to really think about the situation.” Timothy brushes it off “We will be going soon. I appreciate the help you have given us and I wish we could say everything will be ok, but I can’t promise that. I can just say we will do the best we can.”
I cannot leave this house” Jameel says”I cannot. My life and the life of my wife will never be the same. I have prayed to Allah and now you are here, which means you are part of Allah’s plan. I must be here, for Michel. He is my responsibility. I cannot leave Scarborough and I want to protect him. Maybe though he is better equipped to protect himself if a little old man is not in his way. I have booked a hotel room and I will visit my aunt in Scotland. We will return when this is done. Good luck unquiet spirit”
“Nice to know I have some supporters in this world” Timothy smiles
“Your problem is that you are pat of this world. When you know and relinquish that then you can be in paradise. Go with god” With that Jameel turns to rejoin Jasinta leaving Timothy in thought.
Michael works and winds his way through the buildings. Three young men walking after him, caught on Geoffrey’s camera as they leave to follow. With night falling Michael pushes for a church graveyard, the men hanging back so they are not noticed. Taking advantage of the space Michael pushes through the building, a thirteen to fourteenth century building of yellowed honey coloured stone. Michael was not concentrating on the Gothic arches and belfry for their appearance, but for the chances to lose the people following him, just for a moment. A patch of open ground as he walked into the cemetery gave him the chance. While the followers were looping around so not to be noticed in open ground Michael moved to the back, lying under bushes and behind gravestone. Hidden from normal sight. A moment later his spirit rose up from his body, pushed to project physically. To a the watching tails it appeared Michael left that graveyard, not just his spirit. His body left now, a safe point to snap back to in case of emergency. The approaching night follows him as he starts his long winding walk through Scarborough.
Back at the house Geoffrey works at uploaded the footage he has recorded. A private youtube channel created for the purpose. Outside a black ford fiesta pulls up, two men getting out of it. A young black man of early thirties with white fur coat concealing body armour and a red haired Caucasian with roaming beard dreadlocks and dark glasses. A camouflage patten and bulging dufflebag first catches Geoffrey’s attention. The palpable aura of violence around them keeps it. Without glancing around the two head straight for a nearby building. Geoffrey looks down at his camera, he had been filming the entire arrival. More for the channel.
By the time Michael is weaving through Scarborough’s pub district he has made all three of his tails. Walking one in front, two behind. Trying to box him in. Michael knows if an attack is to come the one in front will approach him first. Most likely ask an open question to make him pause as the other two jump from behind. He keeps to crowded places now, using mirrors to keep all three in view. Dodging through back alleys when needs be to avoid obvious ambushes. Nearly back at the deserted apartment,far from his body. Nearly time for the plan to start
Back at the house Timothy spies the two men who Geoffrey saw and he knows them for what they are. Like knows like. “Geoffrey, you see those two? Highly competent killers. I think I may go fuck with them for a bit. If anything goes wrong you get Michael out of here” Timothy pauses as a smell of rot and decay rises. His neck hair prickles. A half caught glimpse in reflected car window. His twin, his spectral twin. The Gemini. Beside it a bloated half decayed spectre astride a famine ridden horse. The animals flesh pulled right over its bones. Flies flicking in and out of torn holes. The spectre riding it is clad in red, a caricature of the hunting costume. His lips pulled back from his teeth. At the beasts feet things walk on all fours, barely visible. Almost human as they stalk like beasts, flesh skinned from their bodies. Timothy’s eyes cannot focus upon them as they sniff the air. His other self, the Gemini looks around.. His head barely held together by barbed wire where the bullet took his skull. Hooks dripping from the end of chains that drape from the sleeves of his greatcoat. The Gemini walks through the door of the house opposite the leaking gas main. As Timothy watches lights come on in the adjacent buildings. The sound of children screaming, the sounds of a man beating his wife to death rise up. Spectres are at play.
Timothy isn’t the only one who noticed “Bollocks he came back fast “Geoffrey mutters. Jameel and Jasinta are nearly at the front door, bags in hand. The upload complete and decoding in progress Geoffrey glances to Timothy “I’m heading out back, should I take Jameel and Jasinta with me?”. Timothy nods and slips his pistol loose“Do it. I’ll buy you time”.
Behind Jameel Geoffrey manifests from the air “Hello. I’m Geoffrey, I’m here with the others. Tim will have mentioned me. We have a few problems up front, the heavy hitters have arrived so I think we should head out the back way”
Jasinta stalls at the front door “There’s a taxi coming” Jameel just shrugs, calm despite the appearance of this unknown man and starts heading towards the back door.
Seeing Michael heading towards the abandoned house Timothy sprints through the walls to meet him, slipping his hand into the lock and feeling it click open. He hears the weeping again upstairs but concentrates on the mission. Entering Michael says “I have three on me, planning something unfriendly I guess.”
Timothy quickly relays recent events and Michael nods “Is Jameel and Jasinta out?”
“Geoffrey’s getting them out” Tim says.
“He will keep them safe. Do you want to wait for the three tracking me to come in before blow this? Even the odds?”
The meet up done, Michael lets his projected self fade back to invisible and intangible. Time to get out of here to safe distance then start burning energy to lure the spectres away.
Geoffrey is just reaching the back door of the house behind Jameel. Jameel opens the door to be confronted by a man with red hair in full combat gear who similes at him “Excuse me, I don’t know if you can help me but I want to speak to the lodger”
Jameel pauses surprised just long enough for the man to draw a bowie knife and plunge it into Jameel’s guts. Geoffrey leaps forwards, dropping his material form and passing through their assailant. Wrapping his arms around the man’s neck he pushes himself back into the physical world after; dragging the man backwards away from those he guards. The red haired man’s second wild swipe, now aimed at Jasinta’s arm, goes wild as Geoffrey’s weight unbalances him. Surprised the man struggles but cannot find purchase on the ground to work against this unexpected attack.
In the abandoned gas filled room Michael spies the men following him turning to head down the street. “There goes that plan” he mutters. One of the following men spies the gap still left in the door and speaks into something on the back of his hand. Michael glances one last time at Timothy, sensing that he is drained and spent. Michael’s hand takes his and for a moment vitality flows between the two and memories with it.
Memories. A day of an important football match, not that it matters. Huddled wrapping blankets around him on the street floor. Begging for change. He can see their colours, tribal. One proud and victorious, the other beaten and broken. Not just in the match, but from the bruises they show in the after match fight as well. Time flickers. Passes. Closing time at the bar. The same faces, drunken and red. Looking for something weaker than them to prey on. Michael is aware of the eyes on him. Of their smiles as they approach.
The vision fades
Timothy’s head snaps up. They both feel something. Vitality, spiritual energy burning where Geoffrey is. “Michael. Run. Keep going” Timothy shouts, setting spark to the gas. The windows blow out. Debris shatters through the street. Superstructure collapses. Screams come out. People trapped inside. Timothy doesn’t pause. Pistol in hand he runs through the walls back to where Geoffrey is under attack,
In the street Michael runs. He hears the screams but ignores them If he could feel the use of vitality so could the spectre. Jameel is in danger. He reaches under his jacket, pulling a blade from his flesh. Small but heavy. It gleams with oblivions touch as the air sings from where it passes it. Michaels life force funnels down, burning into this blade energy obvious for miles around. Running for his life Michael sprints away, hoping to lure the spectres after him.
In the back garden of Jameel’s house Geoffrey screams and wrenches his arms violently around the attackers neck. Vertebrae shatter and the red haired man screams collapsing to the ground; his knife spilling from flapping fingers. Timothy bursts through the wall moments later to see Jasinta dragging Jameel away. Jameel holding his guts in best he can. Realising the assailant is down Timothy instantly appraises the situation “Damn. We can’t move him from here quickly enough with that wound”
Geoffrey is already running into the house, throwing clutter from the table, searching for the medical supplies he knows are here. “The ambulance will be coming. Right?” He says, looking to Timothy with pleading eyes
On the street hungry things walk, drawn by the scent of spent energy. Some wear the bodies of the locals. The people of these houses, filled with invading parasites that make them dance for their amusement, stagger and gaze in the direction Michael ran, One, a man, gurgles through his dislocated jaw, his arm slashed to the elbow with a straight razor, the severed head of his ten year old daughter held in his other hand. A woman, rollers still in her hair, picks spilt blood and excrement from her frock and feeds it into her maw, battery operated carving knife buzzing in her other hand. A Doberman, bulging from within, drips thick globules of saliva on the pavement that steam and burn
The spectral rider in red looks from atop his malnourished hunting beast. Black cap upon the riders head and horn in hand. A grey jowled face speaks out from under the cap with a sadistic grin and monocle surrounding one eye.
“Well, well boys. Flush him out. The hunt is on. Let’s see if we can have some fun with ths fox.”
As Michael runs headlong the spectres start their chase through the night.
This entry was posted on Sunday, 13 January, 2013 at 09:57 and is filed under Orpheus Campaign, The Game with tags game, gaming, orpheus, roleplaying, rpg, trpg. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.