Session notes: 04-28-06
Multifunction bodyguard / servants have been hired by Megumi. There's a quartet of ex-secret-service style agents operating in shifts, two male, two female. The female agents can accompany Ohanzee to places where male agents would be screamed at. There's also an ostler who can function as a coachman; a medic, who doubles as a cook; a tutor and a ladies maid. They are a mixture of Rebman and non-Rebman, mostly non-, since there are places where a green complexion would stand out.
The crew of Wu-Fang's ship is mostly female, and mostly Amberite, with a few Rebman. Few Rebman natives sail on the ocean, although they do appreciate the submersible aspects of this particular ship.
Tyler is not in the best condition, having just walked the pattern. The symptoms are rather like having stayed awake for a week without food, folowed by a quart of gin. In addition, Megumi has gotten a call from her patron and will have to meet with us later.
Tyler has been given the trump of Behata to pass along to Wu Fang. He does so, then seeks out a hot cup of broth and a comfy cabin where he can catch forty winks. The steward takes care of him.
Wu Fang has his ship dock at the guildhouse and takes the new servants aboard. They are provided with quarters and the two on-duty bodyguards are escorted to Ohanzee. She's had a bit of an odd experience, what with visiting Rebma and all, so she's in her most comfortable form, which is the bipedal wolf-woman shape. It helps her deal a bit with the sensations of vibration and enclosure that she's so unused to.
The steward doesn't react to the strange appearance, and introduces her to Luther (her chief bodyguard), Zadee (another guard) and her new maid Egidia. Ohanzee isn't used to having a "Her guard" or a "Her maid" or any kind of "Her" anything apart from pen or paper. After a quick assessment of the quarters and of Ohanzee's likely capabilities they decide that having one posted outside her quarters should suffice for now, but that two would be better for any walking-around type activities.
Ohanzee seems rather taken aback by the idea that someone would serve as a bodyguard for her, but she's somewhat comforted by the notion that she's still allowed to defend herself if necessary.
The steward informs Wu Fang that the ship's cook is unwilling to share the galley with the new hire. Ohanzee's personal chef insists on preparing all of the princess' meals. Wu Fang tells the ship's cook that she'll just have to put up with it for the interim.
The next morning, Tyler is awake and ravenous. Ohanzee had shifted to human form, since it fits better in the bunks. Wu Fang has overseen some of the transit. The ship is on the surface now, which means it's a bit less crowded.
Breakfast is served, with a certain amount of strange selection. But there's eggy toast, black coffee and lychee nuts in light syrup. Tyler has some concerns over what the policy is on personal weaponry on board, but the valet seems baffled by the idea that there's even a doubt that he'd be permitted to carry whatever he wishes. In the end, Tyler goes to talk to Wu Fang.
Wu Fang has no difficulty with Tyler carrying weapons, although the usual situation is to keep armaments in the purser's locker. They discuss their final destination. The main difficulty is that Wu Fang is usually the one shifting shadow for the ship, and Tyler is the one who knows where they want to go. The eventual goal is Refuge Base, and the only way to get there (right now) is through a Worldspan Gateway.
The only Gateway that Tyler can think of that's at all accessable from the sea is the one on Skull Island. He gives a detailed description of the Shadow and of the Gateway that they're looking for. Wu Fang concentrates, and the environment outside the ship begins to change.
Ohanzee goes exploring. Right now, the ship is a very pleasant sailing vessel. Lots of space for a relatively small ship. Roughly the size of a smallish ocean-going Coast Guard ship. The cargo holds are fulled of supplies. The ship doesn't seem to have any sort of armament, but is very sturdy in construction. It could take quite a pounding. It appears to be made of wood, but on close examination, that seems to be more of an illusion. The ship seems to take on the appearance of wood to put people at ease.
There's a lot of bowing, a lot of "Do you want something?" directed at Ohanzee. Most people want to get things for her, rather than allowing her to do things for herself. Having a few days helps her work out arrangments with her maid and her bodyguards. She talks with her bodyguards about the situation, so that she can better defend herself.
There are still some issues about self defense and about what the bodyguards will and won't allow her to do. Ohanzee's maid lets her know that the guards are there to make sure that she can do whatever she wants in the most safety possible. If she lets the guards boss her around, she'll spend a lot of time sitting in a windowless room eating bland, healthy food and doing a lot of cardiovascular exercise.
Ohanzee's lack of understanding about the royal family, the current events, and the family geneology becomes a bit of an issue with the guards. They fetch the minstrel to explain things in a more memorable and tuneful fashion. They'd been wondering why there was one on board.
The bodyguards ask Tyler about the military and defensive aspects of the journey and their destination. He gives them a precis of the situation both on Skull Island and on Refuge Base. En route, Wu Fang gives Tyler some tips on using the pattern and he does a decent job driving on the way.
Eventually, we arrive at the island. As we approach things seem normal. No burning trees inland, nothing out of the ordinary in the sky. There is a lot of noise though. Tyler checks things out with binoculars. It looks to be a couple of monsters having a bit of a brawl. We head around to the promontory and docks near the research station.
There are a great number of passwords and questions exchanged between Tyler and the staff of the research station. The big question they have (apart from the standard 'have you been mind controlled?' and 'are you being coerced?') is how we got there without having used the Worldspan Gateway. Tyler explains that there are some new developments that he needs to discuss with folks back at Refuge Base. He dials home and goes on ahead to make arrangements for our visitors.
The rest of the group is given a tour of Skull Island. The sheer size of the monsters is impressive, but it loses some impact when you can shapeshift on your own.
Tyler arranges for the guests and lets General Teed know that, due to his further education in the nature of the Trans Universal Membrane, he has now devised a method of accessing the base which may help close one of the more egregious security holes.
Fetching the rest of the group introduces a bit of a problem: Wu Fang is accompanied by three invisible humanoids. They leave footprints in the sandy floor of the entrance cavern, and displace some of the steam in the air. This very nearly triggers a lethal response on the part of the defenders of Refuge Base. Tyler winds up in a bit of trouble due to the lack of warning about them. Tents are acquired for the ninjas.
Our "camp" is a moderately comfortable set of quonset huts on the outskirts of a small village. The quarters are rather spacious and airy, but a bit stark. Weapons are permitted in our own compound, but prohibited anywhere else on base. We settle in.
This is the first time that people have been to Refuge Base, and everyone is quite interested in the peculiarities of the area. The entrance cavern and the main military complex are in a series of natural caves which have been enlarged and made comfortable by the application of the latest in steam-powered technology. In contrast, the village and our camp are in an immense cavern, ten miles in diameter with a sun in the middle and gravity holding everything against the outer walls. Luther the bodyguard's questions about what constitutes escape velocity leads to a discussion of the strange physics of this hollow world.
Training in powers is complicated a bit. The only thing close to a major power that works is Trump, and it only works in the entrance hall. Fortunately, there are a number of well-established off-world bases that may help with that. On the other hand, Wu Fang can tutor Ohanzee quite a bit in the true power of shapeshifting. This provides Tyler with some time to work up his personal Trump deck.
The downtime gives everyone some time to get used to each others' capabilities and to train in our various powers and knacks. Tyler spends his non-studio time with the bodyguards and ninjas learning the state-of-the-art in their fighting abilities. Luther has some experience with firearms, while the others are just familiar with the concept. Tyler trains Zadee with the use of the steam guns and pneumatic pistols. The ninjas have a variety of throwing weapons and blowguns, as well as some nicely sharp swords and overly complicated bludgeoning weapons.
Eventually, Tyler and the others leave the base for shadow walking lessons. Wu Fang plays the part of tutor, and Ohanzee comes along for the lessons, as do two of her bodyguards. We start out in Blizzard, move to somewhere a bit quieter and make incremental changes until we get to somewhere pastoral. From there, we Hellride to a vastly different destination. A multiplex theatre lobby with rather nasty artificial cheese nachos. Ohanzee finds the whole thing a bit... slow.
She has the feeling that she could just kind of... pull herself through to where she wants to go. She concentrates for a bit then vanishes from the theatre lobby.
Her bodyguards are unamused.
Having returned to the pastoral field, she realizes that she should probably have held onto us when she reached out and grabbed her destination. Back at the theatre, Tyler tries contacting Ohanzee via the Trans Universal Membrane Placard of her that he created. Ohanzee feels a bit of an itch in her mind, but she ignores it in favor of reaching back to the theatre to try to get Wu Fang.
Wu Fang senses something eerie trying to contact him, and tries to defend himself by concentrating on the pattern. The bodyguards are in rather a bit of a state, since Wu Fang is evading something unseen and their charge has disappeared. Ohanzee can't seem to touch Wu Fang because of a burning sensation around him. Instead, she pulls herself back to the theatre. The bodyguards almost shoot her. Tyler puts down her card and says, "Oh good! It worked."
After some explanations and experimentation, Tyler learns that the common term for the cards he can create is "Trump." Ohanzee learnes that the itching sensation in her mind was what a Trump contact feels like. Wu Fang and Ohanzee learn that Pattern and Logrus don't mix well. And, as a sort of proof of concept, Tyler experiments with bringing Ohanzee and her bodyguards through her card, from various distances within the shadow.
A bit of experimentation ensues. Wu Fang manipulates probability so that the popcorn in the theare lobby spells out "This is a neat trick." Eventually though, the group realizes that all of this is rather exhausting, so they retire to a coincidentally nearby five-star hotel where their group just happens to have a paid-in-advance reservation.