Spacer Bacchanalia 40
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    There hadn't been any thunder all day, but lightning crackled through the clouds without warning; I happened to be the highest object in the immediate area. In a moment I was the highest unconscious object, and all three of us were falling. It didn't even have time to hurt. Lucky grabbed hold of me and did her lightstick trick. INH extended itself downward to reach past Albert, catch hold of the nearest building, extend a semi-liquid net in which to catch him, and then lowered him to street level, shaken but unhurt. I was back on my feet after an hour in the hospital, where they're almost getting used to dealing with us. We used the time to reorder our priorities.
    One new fact: it appeared that Aliese's properties had been looted before they exploded, which made it seem even likelier that something was going on that we didn't know about. Because the items stolen had been illegal (drugs and other items the insurance company was unlikely to accept), we presumed that it had not been Aliese himself creating cover for his actions, but another of the interested parties.
    Our first task was to get those plasma guns off the street, whoever was using them, before the body count could get any higher. According to one witness at Giovanni's place, who thought she was speaking to the Virgin Mary (thank you, Albert, you're going to get us all thrown into jail or at least sent to Hell), the men who had attacked had been wearing suits; they didn't look like TECH people. We would concentrate on finding them once the Mafia war had been calmed to at least some degree. I could only hope it was TECH who had just engineered the lightning strike and not a reappearance of other old friends, and although we still weren't certain about the affiliation of the barbed wire strangler and his plasma-throwing pal, for convenience's (and our collective sanity's) sake we've decided to assume they're all under the same umbrella unless events prove otherwise.
    Whoever had the weapons, they had to be charging them somewhere. We returned to base and used the computers there to look into the city's power grid. One heck of a massive draw showed up just inside the Combat Zone.
    The building, when we found it, was several stories tall. The bottom two were occupied by a Chinese restaurant with an impressive two-story fish tank as the back wall. Above were several unoccupied stories, and a basement below. INH turned to fog, went down through cracks in the ground and checked out the basement, found that it had only one room, one entrance through the restaurant and one through a tunnel leading into the warren beneath Boston's streets, blocked by a heavy steel door. He could also see a charging rack for the guns; it could hold twelve, and ten of the slots were full.
    Lucky gave us time to get into position, then entered through the restaurant. The rest of us found a manhole a couple blocks away that led into the appropriate tunnel (much to Albert's distaste), and waited just beyond the steel door into the hideout for Lucky's signal. It came as the sound of a plasma gun firing not too far away. INH took down the door and flowed as a silver wave over the bank of weapons. The six men in the room had just enough time to turn around, reach for the guns and do a double-take when the rest of us entered.
    "I do suggest that you surrender." I smiled.
    The other exit was blocked by the moaning, wounded form of one of their comrades, who had been guarding the upstairs door. When Lucky loomed up behind him, lightstick blazing, they did the sensible thing.
    Eleven guns accounted for. Lucky did enough damage to them that they can't be used but will probably make admissible evidence.
    "Where is the other gun?" Albert inquired.
    "Boss took it," a resigned thug answered.
    "When did he leave?"
    "I dunno. While ago."
    Albert gave them la pastorale. This time he made them think they were cows.
    This next part, I recall thinking, is probably going to be messy.

[For clarity's sake and the reader's sanity, this is what was actually going on through these sessions. The helpful guy from the Ratskellar and the guy who wanted to come out and do repair work were one and the same, a criminal mastermind known as the Colonel. Daemonbane, the guy with the barbed wire, is one of his henchmen. The Colonel instigated the war; he looted Aliese's territories and then blew them up, making it look as if Vincent had done it, throwing in the attack on Lucky for verisimilitude. He (for which read, our GM) did not expect Lucky to try to kill Vincent; events transpired rapidly and seemed too far out of his control, and we too quickly came to suspect that someone was manipulating all the sides involved. He had three options: stay tight and try to remanipuate the situation; kill all of us; or leave the scene. Following his usual MO, he left—why expose yourself to avoidable danger? He had already made a huge profit off the plan. TECH stepped in, also seeing a chance to make some quick cash, and sold weapons to Aliese. Things escalated from there.
    Tom, who has come up against the Colonel in other games, said that he should have guessed that it was him, because of the familiar sensation of not having any idea what in the hell is going on.]

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© 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson