Plausible Deniability

If My Calculations Are Correct...
Sine Qua Nonsense - Part 8

In the meantime, Nama has her own issues to deal with.

The phone call that preceded the Agency car that picked Nama up from the Philippe and Marie DeCouer’s front step mentioned that “Xiao” was currently missing, and that the car would take her to the airport. Instead, the car stops in an alley and the driver reveals himself to be none other than the time-travelling Agent Malcolm. He apologizes for the deception, and admits that Xiao is not missing, and that he really just wanted to make use of Nama‘s as an anchor due to her recently-acquired free will and comparatively massive past. The catacombs are subject to a divergent timestream, and Malcolm wants to use Nama in creating a series of small paradoxes he plans to use as temporal “echolocation”.
Nama follows Malcolm through a portal to an observation deck on a skyscraper in downtown Paris. After checking some readings, Malcolm drops a penny that ends up going through the front windshield of the Undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture’s car, and will cause him to be 10 minutes late to a meeting he should have been on time for.
Their next stop is the apartment of Agent Corvus on the evening of the night Nama, Rerun, Dermit, Fear Factor, Sunnyside, and Emet all arrived. Corvus recognizes neither Malcolm nor Nama. The stop is only a matter of seconds, despite Corvus’ obvious confusion. After leaving, Malcolm confides that he had met with Corvus several days prior and wasn’t recognized then, either.
Adding to the number of unsettling factors is the information that Agent Waxwork’s personal timeline has been interfered with/already flawed enough to cause noticeable interference above the catacombs and make her difficult to track. Malcolm infers that her presence indicates that other factions were aware of Malcolm‘s involvement. He further reveals that his investigations are because he can’t tell if Fionn mac Cumhaill is going to die or not, and that if a god dies before the appropriate time, the backlash is probably not good.
On a lighter note, Malcolm produces Rerun‘s Agency-issued pistol, having retrieved it from the confiscated props from the movie set. He mentions that he had to beat both an American Agency and French Agency recovery team to it.
Nama and Malcolm grab a bite to eat, then head back to the hotel so Nama can pick up her new gear delivered by Mme. DeFleur’s people. She also packs some food and water before she and Malcolm head into the catacombs to rejoin the others.

With Dermit largely non-responsive (but alive) in the bottom of the ravine, Rerun and Fear Factor try to get the two teenage guides to cross the bridge and join the rest of the team, hoping to keep the kids safe. Unfortunately, they don’t navigate the bridge well and one falls, breaking several bones in the rough landing. A fishman is quick to take advantage of the incapacitated teen and swiftly dispatches him. His friend attempts to avenge his death by leaping off of the bridge onto the fishman, but is thwarted and also dispatched.

Nama and Malcolm catch up with the rest of the team, and through their concerted efforts (and Malcolm’s impressive personal arsenal), the fishmen are temporarily beaten back. During the brief respite, Sunnyside suggests using the bridge as a ladder so Dermit can be rescued. Rerun rushes back to the other side of the ravine and undoes the anchoring knots. Nama and Fear Factor descend into the ravine and retrieve Dermit. Fear Factor narrowly avoids being tackled by the returning fishmen as Nama and Sunnyside haul the bridge-ladder back up as soon as he gets a hold of it. The initial process of hurling the free end of the bridge to Rerun is repeated and he crosses without incident. Awkward introductions between various members of the team and Malcolm ensue. Malcolm is able to shed a bit of light on the situation, informing everyone that Corvus possessed 3 books under his bed – the missing one being a second notebook.

[More forthcoming…]

View
The Rich, The Misguided, and the Fishy
Sine Qua Nonsense - Part 7

Upon leaving the residence of Philippe and Marie DeCoeur, Nama receives an Agency call regarding a matter that requires her assistance. She is quickly picked up by an unmarked car.
Rerun, Fear Factor, and Sunnyside return to the hotel to pick up a much-recovered Dermit and head back to the gated community (albeit a different address) for their appointment with the Agent Provocateur. On the way, Rerun asks Dermit if he knows of anyone who can assist in ‘troubleshooting’ extranatural abilities. Particularly how or why Rerun’s postcogs of Corvus’ things have included unprecedented point-of-view shifts 2 out of 3 times. Dermit calls up Agent Dregs (who co-heads the Agency’s Thaumaturgical Research Deptartment with Agent Praxis.) After some smooth maneuvering through the awkward relationship of Dregs and Praxis, Dermit gets the two of them on a conference line and they discuss possible causes and additional pieces of information:

  • The postcog POV shifts are definitely not due to Corvus’ abilities.
  • Dregs had attempted to check in with Corvus before he left, but hadn’t really been able to.
  • Corvus has been in and out of the catacombs so frequently, their ‘residue’ might be causing some sort of interference.

Dregs and Praxis go on to tell Dermit that they have a lock of Rerun’s hair in their department, and will use it to run something of a long-distance diagnostic to ensure Rerun’s postcogging abilities aren’t faulty. They also tell Dermit not to tell Rerun about this, and that they will hopefully be back in touch later on in the evening.

Once back in the gated community, it doesn’t take long to find the residence of Madame DeFleur, Agent Provocateur. After a brief, but dazzling (or ostentatious) display of wealth and class, Mme. DeFleur becomes privy to a few too many details regarding Rerun’s confiscated Agency firearm and its likely whereabouts. In the meantime, the team racks up an impressive $7200 bill that Rerun resigns himself to submitting a future detailed report as to why the expense was necessary.

  • $400 – lab expenses for the bullet casing Rerun retrieved from the train station shooting (The casing is identified as being fired from a MP5-K, a submachine gun she further specifies is not one of hers, but probably came from the Russian black market.)
  • $200 – (2) flashbang grenades (Rerun gives these to Sunnyside)
  • $1100 – electrobat for Nama (sent to Nama’s hotel room)
  • $700 – riot armour for Nama (sent to Nama’s hotel room)
  • $1200 – Glock for Sunnyside
  • $800 – (1) week artifact rental for Sunnyside (a watch the can absorb all sound and later release it)
  • $100 – (50) taser rounds for Fear Factor
  • $2200 – Dermit‘s ’BFG’ is pricey, but adequately over-sized and of (aesthetic) poor taste
  • $500 – deposit for a magic book rental for Dermit (The more the book gets used, the more it will ultimately cost upon return.)

Fortunately, the use of plastic means that everyone leaves Mme. DeFleur’s residence with pockets that feel no lighter, and a lot of new weapons. A brief detour to the radio tower where the prior day’s explosion attracted attention yields a small scorch mark that harmed nothing of structural import, and a bored-looking policeman standing guard over a cordoned off area around it. It’s not deemed as worth the trouble it would take to investigate closer, and the group piles back into their rusty car and heads for the other entrance to the catacombs Corvus was able to locate.

The benefit to traveling through Paris (repeatedly) gives the group time to mull over some of the other puzzling things encountered: Such as the stone bullet Pascal shot at Sunnyside that prevented the latter from using his extanatural abilities until it was removed. Dermit provides the most probable explanation in that stones collected by pilgrims from crossroads while they’re on a pilgrimage have been believed to ward off influences of the Devil. While this belief is now largely heretical, Dermit points out that if enough people believe something to be true, it becomes marginally less _un_true.
While unsettling, this does imply that Sol Invictus doesn’t have a huge stockpile of these stone bullets.

Upon arriving at the second catacombs entrance, the group discovers that it’s located in the basement of a warehouse in a terrible part of town, and occupied by a group of young Neo-Nazi skinheads chaperoned by an older man, Jean. Dermit and Sunnyside handle the negotiations that allow the team passage into the catacombs (it involves a fair bit of lying and a small fee per Agent). The group gears up and heads into the catacombs, accompanied by two of the young gang members acting as ‘guides’. After two hours of walking through subterranean layers of city strata (rather than the catacombs proper), the group stalls in a ruined building with a blocked stairwell that looks over what once was a street. There appears to be a rope bridge stored in the building on the other side, and Sunnyside uses his athletic skills to navigate down the outside of the ruin and enter the building opposite. Inside, he finds a desiccated, severed human arm on the floor, and can hear the sounds of some number of creatures in a room off to the side. He darts up the rickety stairs (a section giving way) and heaves the rope bridge across the gap as two fish-men emerge from the side room and start up the stairs.

Rerun and Fear Factor manage to catch the bridge and tie it off. They are then able to cross quickly and safely, but when Dermit steps up, he tumbles out of the window and is knocked senseless after tumbling down the wall and meeting the ground abruptly.

Awarded Experience – 20 September
Dermit Fear Factor Nama Rerun Sunnyside
I I I I I
View
Recon and Brownies
Sine Qua Nonsense - Part 6

After Sunnyside gets back to the hotel safely (albeit still unable to access his extranatural abilities while an unknown type of bullet is lodged in his shoulder), Nama applies some first aid followed by surgery. The bullet that she removes from his shoulder is a shaped piece of surprisingly lightweight stone. After being patched up, Sunnyside gets settled for the night in the armchair in Dermit’s room. Dermit’s injuries seem to have taken their toll as well, leaving Dermit firmly lodged in the bathroom.

At the cafe, Rerun does a bit of investigative postcogging of Percival’s dinnerware and manages to learn that this brief meeting was Percival’s third meeting with American agents in a span of two weeks, and that his superiors are liable to be displeased over the repeated non-hostile encounters. Of the first two meetings, Rerun has the sense that one was with Corvus, and that the two didn’t get along very well. He also gets a better idea of Percival’s feelings for Agent Waxwork, in the sense that the older man hates working with her. The last thought Rerun is able to pick out of the postcog of Percival’s time at the cafe before his own arrival is that Percival cannot stand time-travelers.
Rerun returns to the hotel by a route that takes him past the Golden Hart club. There is a distinct lack of police activity outside, though the front door is guarded by two massive men. Many of the lights are off, inside, implying that the recent disturbance is being handled internally.

Back at the hotel, Fear Factor diligently guards Colin McCann. Although McCann has been asked to stay in the country for a bit longer by the police, it’s apparent that he’s making preparations to leave soon. After a while of solo-playing Mario Kart (and rocking it), McCann wordlessly plugs in a second controller for Fear Factor who joins him. While the merely mortal Fear Factor has no chance of winning against the Irish demi-god, he finds it impossible to be mad. An enjoyable evening is had and Fear Factor crashes on McCann’s couch for the night.

Once safely settled in his room, Rerun postcogs the bullet casing he picked up from the rail station. The resulting vision indicates that the shooter disassociated from the violent events of earlier. They had been told these events would be glorious, but the shooter felt empty and directionless. Even the laughter of the truck’s driver, Germaine, sounded forced. The shooter also thought about how this had been the first time they had fired their gun outside of the vast amounts of family land that had been donated to the cause. After the postcog vision ends, the feelings of depression linger and Rerun finally turns in for the night.

In the morning, Fear Factor wakes to find McCann in a bathrobe and making eggs with only a minor amount of burning going on. On the floor below, Nama again borrows a kitchen cart to prepare a pleasant breakfast in the hallway. Between Nama’s cooking and some time spent in the morning sun, Sunnyside feels much better after the evening’s ordeals. Rerun, on the other hand, finds that the postcogged feelings of waste, depression, and the sense of being responsible for them are still lingering. Dermit insists he is fine, but remains locked in his bathroom. Before heading out to Corvus’ apartment, Nama takes a look at the bullet she extracted from Sunnyside’s shoulder. The bullet appears to be a piece of shaped and tumbled lightweight stone. It’s lack of density would make it an ineffective bullet compared to lead. It also should have shattered upon impact. With even more questions raised about the Cult of Sol Invictus, Rerun, Fear Factor, Sunnyside, and Nama head over to check Corvus’ apartment. They find the door both locked and trapped, with Rerun confirming via postcog that Corvus was the last person to use the door. (Rerun notes that this is the second postcog regarding Corvus that involves a shift to a third-person POV.) Once Fear Factor gets the door opened safely, it’s obvious that the apartment has been thoroughly searched (though nothing appears destroyed). The faint smell of burning ozone that Nama detects in the apartment is yet another indicator that Agent Malcolm is/was/will be somehow involved in the happenings surrounding the mission. Rerun’s first postcog yields the sense that Malcolm was looking for something, without knowing what it was or what exactly he was doing, and that he found it incredibly frustrating. Rerun’s second postcog went incredibly awry, leaving him going in the opposite temporal direction than the rest of the team for a few uncomfortable and worry-filled minutes. After a bit, the timestreams seem to come back into sync, though Rerun seems to be prone to occasional temporal glitches for a while, afterwards.

With no forthcoming answer to Corvus’ current whereabouts, the team digs in for some research on the Golden Hart and its members. In an article regarding the renovation of an upstairs bathroom, the team finds a photo of some of the donors, one of whom is labelled as “Philippe DeCoeur,” and is recognizable as the same Philippe leading the Fraternity of Deus Vult. Another internet search provides his address, and the team drives over for an unannounced visit. Sunnyside uses his charm to their advantage in bribing the gateguard of the neighborhood, and Rerun provides with a monetary bribe in place of Philippe’s name.
Philippe is thrilled to have visitors of the “shady” sort, and his wife, Marie, seems good-natured but well used to it. In conspiratorial and grandiose tones, Philippe answers many of the team’s questions.

  • “Pascal” Is the “conspiracy name” on the man who shot Sunnyside. He is an advisor of some sort to the Prime Minister, and a jerkface. He has been linked to at least two missing teenagers, with the journal of one being found in his home. He has a “small” estate outside of the city (a vineyard/winery), but is hardly ever there. One of Pascal’s cronies is a priest referred to as, “Ferdinand,” who was a mover and shaker some 10-15 years ago. Other members of the Cult of Sol Invictus are similarly important people, but not necessarily well-known. Philippe recalls having heard that Pascal has children, but has never met them.
  • When asked about the identity of the young gunman who shot himself upon discovery, Philippe regretfully makes it clear that where and what high-society youths get up is not a subject that’s considered polite conversation, and that hearing that someone’s son has gone “on holiday” for 3-6 months (sometimes forever) is not uncommon (though generally, “on holiday” refers to trips to other parts of Europe, or the Americas). When pressed to consider the safety of the youths involved, Philippe admits that a woman in the neighborhood known as “Madame DeFleur,” could be persuaded to talk about the subject more. The address where she can be found is the same as the meeting location provided by the French Agent Provocateur contacted earlier by Dermit.

Marie returns to remind Philippe of what he promised the other day, and the team takes her polite hint to take their leave. Philippe gives the group a tupperware container of brownies he made and bids them goodbye before he goes to mow the lawn. As they head down the driveway, everyone is pleasantly surprised by how good Philippe’s brownies are.

View
Some Like It Hot
Sine Qua Nonsense - Part 5

Back under the open sky, everyone trades notes. Corvus allows Sunnyside the use of his bed for the night, as Corvus plans to spend the night working, and the police have listed Sunnyside as “a person of interest”. Rerun instructs Emet to keep watch over Sunnyside for the night, while everyone else heads back to the hotel. Just before bed, Rerun receives a call from Percival, the agent in charge of the British team. Percival apologizes for Waxwork’s behavior in the catacombs, but also asks if it’s possible for his team to discretely get the hex (or a copy of it) for study, as he believes his team is currently on the same mission. Rerun says he’ll have to sleep on it, and immediately calls Henderson to report after getting off the phone with Percival. Henderson speaks well of Percival, and seems reluctant to get him into trouble in regards to attempted collusion with the American Agency.

Following a night’s rest, everyone convenes at Corvus’ apartment. Corvus reports that he found another entrance to the catacombs yet to be locked down by the police, but the area is occupied by a group of anti-Semitic skinheads numbering roughly 20. He also learned that the Cult of Sol Invictus occasionally meets in the VIP room of “The Golden Hart,” a private, uptown club. The group decides to spend the rest of their morning researching before their shift of guarding Colin McCann.

  • Dermit locates the online abstract of an article that lists Nicholas Rémy as an inspiration for the Cult of Sol Invictus (Rémy was a late 16th-century witch-hunter responsible for sentencing over 900 people to death, and also the author of Daemonolatreiae libri tres).
  • Rerun’s post-cognition of the photocopied hex and burner phone Sunnyside took off of the suicide gunman points at a background of wealth and status, as well as a sense of privilege in being selected for such a mission and not necessarily expecting success. The gunman’s partner’s identity is still unknown, as the two were pulled from different cells of their organization.

Using the surveillance equipment purchased earlier, Emet is set up with a laptop and a security feed of the team’s equipment. The team meets with McCann (who remembers all of their names, somewhat surprisingly), and they pile into a number of cars and head for the day’s movie set at a railway station. While Dermit and Nama follow McCann perhaps a little too closely, the others set up a rough perimeter while McCann’s stunt double jumps a mini-cooper across the tracks – repeatedly. Unfortunately, this perimeter doesn’t include the open tunnel in the station. When an explosion happens at the nearby radio tower, a pickup truck covered in white markings roars out of the tunnel. Two men in the back with sub-machine guns empty their magazines (largely into McCann’s stunt double, from the looks of things), and the truck departs. Several are killed by gunfire in the chaos, though McCann is extracted unharmed and brought back to the hotel by Nama. Sunnyside also manages to depart before the police find him. Dermit runs into the station (against police instruction) to find Rerun and Fear Factor, who were assisting in the evacuation of the filming crew before investigating the rest of the set.
Investigation of the set revealed that besides the stunt double, at least 4 production assistants had been gunned down – at least 2 of them from behind. 1 seemed to be holding a prop gun, which may have been what made them a target. Rerun pockets a spent bullet casing before he and Dermit lose their guns by hiding them on the prop table. Fear Factor successfully breaks down his suitcase rifle just in time for the trio to be apprehended by French law enforcement and escorted off the crime scene. The team is requested to remain in the country, along with McCann, but the production of the movie is officially terminated by the police.

After regrouping at the hotel, the team starts splitting up to cover ground. Nama and Fear Factor are included in the watch rotation for McCann. Dermit discovers that the room occupied by Sean, Seamus, and the myriad of interns accompanying them has been cleared out in a rush. He finds some animal fur that Nama identifies as belonging to a wild hare. Rerun’s postcog of the hare’s hair reveals it belonged to an excited individual who was thrilled to have the chance to travel overseas with all 20 of its brothers and sisters and get to be a human for a while! And it only has to do things like make coffee! Whoo-boy!!
Rerun also receives another call from Percival, who wants to meet in person to discuss the current situation. Rerun agrees, and foregoes bringing any of his teammates to dinner with Percival at a cafe.
Sunnyside infiltrates the Golden Hart club with the help of some of the kitchen staff. He gets a pretty good idea of just how snooty the club is when an impeccably dressed man enters, puts on a purple sash, and heads directly for the VIP room. When approached by Sunnyside and asked about the Cult of Sol Invictus, the man takes Sunnyside into the VIP room, where 4 other men with purple sashes sit. The first man introduces himself as “Pascal.” He recognizes the make of Sunnyside’s Agency suit and asks after Corvus, who wears a suit of the same material. Pascal also mentions meeting with Corvus several days ago and heavily implies that he is now missing. In an attempt to gain the upper hand in the conversation, Sunnyside uses some of his ability to emit both light and heat. Unfortunately, this seems to mark him as a devil in the eyes of the members of the Cult of Sol Invictus. Pascal is armed with a small, heavily engraved flintlock pistol that seems impervious to Sunnyside’s powers. Sunnyside is shot and injured during a scuffle with Pascal, and also seems to lose contact with his extranatural abilities. Sunnyside is able to leave and does so, calling Rerun to appraise him of the situation. Rerun directs him to return to Dermit at the hotel, as he is on his way to his dinner “date.” He also calls Dermit to give him a heads-up about Sunnyside’s return and injury.

Rerun’s dinner with Percival is altogether brief. Percival informs him that his team has received updated contingency orders, and believes their teams will likely be at cross-purposes now (although open conflict between the teams seems unlikely, due to the likelihood of them not seeing each other for the duration of their missions). Percival points out that many things in this situation don’t add up, from the shoddy assassination attempts to Fionn MacCumhaill’s presence in general. He also seems to already be aware that Corvus is missing, and after a brief internal debate, mentions that Rerun and his team should be asking themselves when the Cult of Sol Invictus became involved. With that, Percival leaves payment for the meals and takes his leave, leaving Rerun with several things to mull over while finishing dinner.

Awarded Experience – 23 August
Dermit Fear Factor Nama Rerun Sunnyside
III II II II III
View
Death Of A Legend
Sine Qua Nonsense - Part 4

Prior to coming to the rest of the team’s rescue in The Fellow’s Way in the Parisian catacombs, Agents Sunnyside and Emet had their own fair share of excitement back at the hotel. A pair of unidentified men snuck in, armed with burner phones, guns, and a photocopy of the hex that seems intended for Colin McCaine. Emet handily sent one fellow into a coma (he was sent to the hospital and is currently in ICU), while Sunnyside found the other hiding in a closet while on his cell phone. Upon being confronted, the unidentified man shot himself in the head. Sunnyside was then confronted by the police who had been called by other hotel guests! Sunnyside claimed he had diplomatic immunity, and used the brief interregnum to update Henderson back in HQ about the situation. The police quickly confirmed that Sunnyside wasn’t a diplomat, and asked him politely but firmly to accompany them to the station. Once there and left to his own devices in an interrogation room for a while, Sunnyside was the beneficiary of a favor called in by The Agency, and surreptitiously escaped into the back of a cab with Emet to regroup with the rest of the team in the catacombs.

Meanwhile, Agents Rerun, Dermit, Fear Factor, and Nama coped with the fallout of the death of the Rat King after Lucifer’s assistance. The tunnel leading back up to The Fellows’ Way had been blocked on account of the rule that trouble is not allowed to follow anyone back into areas protected by the Truce. The British operatives withdrew, while Agent Waxwork unconcernedly exchanged a few shots/stabs with the team, managing to seriously injure Dermit before she took her leave. [:sunnyside | Sunnyside]] and Emet (assisted by Nama on the other side of the manhole cover) were able to unblock the tunnel and help the team escape, in spite of the Rector’s desire to enforce the laws of the Fellows’ Way. This led to Agent Corvus and the rest of the team banned from the area, though they were permitted to leave unmolested.

Awarded Experience – 16 August
Dermit Fear Factor Nama Rerun Sunnyside
II II III II III
View
A Wild RAT KING Appears
Sine Qua Nonsense - Part 4 (Parody)

Wild RAT KING used SYNCHRONIZE!
. . . It’s super effective!

DERMIT chose LUCIFER!
LUCIFER used INCINERATE!
. . . It’s super effective!



A Wild RECTOR appears!
Wild RECTOR used JUDGMENT!
. . . It’s not very effective. . .

SUNNYSIDE used FLARE!
. . . It’s super effective!



FOUR Wild BRIT OPERATIVES appear!
Wild BRIT OPERATIVES used SUCKER PUNCH!
. . . BRIT OPERATIVESattack missed!

FEAR FACTOR used NIGHTMARE!
. . . It’s super effective!



A Wild RAT SWARM appears!
Wild RAT SWARM used FLAIL!
. . . It’s not very effective. . .

NAMA used HEAVE!
. . . It’s not very effective. . .



A Wild WAXWING WAXWORK appears!
Wild WAXWING WAXWORK used INTIMIDATE!
. . . It’s not very effective. . .

RERUN used BANTER!
. . . It’s not very effective. . .

Wild WAXWING WAXWORK used FLASHBANG!
. . . It’s super effective!

View
Hello Darlings
Sine Qua Nonsense - Part 3

Still in the apartment of the missing Agent Corvus, the group sets up a surveillance camera (purchased by Dermit) to watch both the door and window. Rerun refills the trough of birdseed, and the team heads back to the hotel. The desk clerk greets them with a large, heavy package with a drawing of a windmill where the return address should go. Inside, it appears Windmill has kindly sent the team some caving/climbing gear (harnesses, rope, pitons, kneepads, headlamps and batteries, etc., and nightvision goggles for anyone who didn’t sign out a pair already). Accompanying the equipment is a note with a pictograph warning to be careful. The team breaks for the night, and everyone does a bit of research and turns in.

After a suspiciously good night’s rest, the team gets up and starts getting ready for a big day. Nama commandeers a food service cart in the morning to graciously cook breakfast for her comrades in the hall. Dermit sets up a meeting to procure some bulletproof vests via Brett’s contact. Rerun and Fear Factor work out with Sunnyside when the latter should take Emet out and come provide a rescue. Once everything is squared away and only the bulletproof vests are being waited on, Nama heads to a local gym to start learning how to rock-climb, while Dermit, Fear Factor, and Rerun head upstairs to speak with McCann’s staff in what turns out to be an entertainingly awkward conversation that seems to leave all parties in various degrees of confusion and no one officially fired, despite that threat being bandied about at the start (prompted by Fear Factor’s expert lockpicking after the team was explicitly told to go away). The staff appears to be led by Seamus and Sean, who are likely brothers and definitely Irish. The squad of interns that have infested the hotel begin to look exceedingly similar in appearance (disregarding haircuts and clothing) when more than one is around for comparison. Seamus and Sean make it clear that they have been with McCann since “the beginning,” but have to have details more or less suggested (ie, “since the beginning of his [McCann’s] career,” as opposed to, “life,” “time,” “adulthood,” etc.). After leaving, Dermit voices his opinion that these individuals are possibly members of the Fianna, who accompany Fionn MacCumhaill on important events. Everyone then joins Nama at the gym, learning how to use the equipment they were just sent.

Once the bulletproof vests are obtained around midday, Rerun, Nama, Dermit, and Fear Factor make the trip across town to Corvus’ apartment again. From there, they find the hidden basement entrance to the catacombs and make their descent. While keeping their eyes peeled for Corvus’s tag (an Egyptian-style bird), they find that this area of the catacombs has been set up as something like a drop-in shelter. Simple rules are spraypainted around the area, and several rooms have been converted into sleeping areas, storage, and a chapel. The chapel is dedicated to St. Joseph, and is tended by an elderly man in faded dress known as the Rector. (St. Joseph is one of the more controversial saints, as he is considered to be the patron of spies and secrets.) Nama is also able to make out the smell of cheap, foreign cigarettes, so the team proceeds with caution.
One area of the main room has a number of cubbies, one of which bears Corvus’ mark, and Rerun opts to leave a note in it, “Phone home when possible. -Rr”
When asked, the Rector kindly updates the team’s map of the catacombs, also indicating an area outside of what is protected by “the Fellowship’s” “Truce” as a dangerous area to avoid.

Pushing further into the catacombs and following Corvus’ tag takes the team down to the next level. Nama loses the scent of the cigarettes, and the team is rather surprised to find that Corvus’ trail leads them in the opposite direction of the skull and crossbones area marked by the Rector. The end of the tunnel brings them to a set of rooms, from which a group of voices can be heard. Dousing lights and inching closer to overhear the speakers comes to an abrupt halt when Dermit is viciously attacked by a rat and lets out a string of blistering invectives. As the voices are not immediately hostile, he investigates to discover the members of the Fraternity of Deus Vult are meeting with Agent Corvus. The Fraternity is fairly gracious in welcoming the rest of the team once it is established that they are friends of Corvus. The reason for the meeting quickly becomes clear as everyone settles into the more luxuriously decorated lounge behind the meeting room featuring a giant bone pillar:

  • Corvus ‘hacked’ the Fraternity’s forum by creating an account. On the forum was posted a picture of a hex similar to the one that was sent to McCann.
    • The team implied that the Fraternity should take the photo off, hand over the hex for safe-keeping, and learn basic HTML safeguards.
  • “Brother Thaddeus” recounts the events that led to him being handed the hex- he stepped out of the meeting chamber and a golden figure bathed in light appeared. It told Thaddeus (in French) that they should use the paper on “the false god and deceiver,” and when pressed for details, it gave a description of McCann. Thaddeus recalled that he was unable to look away from the figure, even though the light was painful. He also doesn’t remember being handed the paper, but it was in his hands when the figure disappeared. Another brother had been inside the meeting room when this occurred, and did not hear a word of it.
  • The Fraternity is happy to debate/talk about their philosophical and religious views. They say that they’re “not that kind of doomsday cult.”
    • They believe other groups may have been contacted with the same message.
    • They highly doubt that the golden figure was actually a messenger of God, as they don’t even believe in that sort of thing.
    • They suggest the team investigate the cult known as “The Order of Sol Invictus,” located down the tunnel a ways where the Rector marked the skull and crossbones on the map.
  • Dermit reiterates that the hex would be far safer away from the Fraternity, but they refuse to hand it over until Corvus mirrors the sentiment – at which point they reveal its “vault” as inside the mouth of a suspiciously-complete skull on a shelf.
  • The Order of Sol Invictus is a cult that believes in miracles, and heavily anti-magic. They initially drove the Fraternity out of their prior area with threats of violence followed immediately by violence.

As things wind down, Corvus and the team start comparing notes. Corvus is asked about the third book he brought with him. He checks his backpack to find it isn’t there, and proclaims that he must have dropped it. Rerun suspects otherwise and confirms it when he postcogs the backpack’s opening and sees a woman’s hand recently slipped into it to relieve Corvus of the book when he wasn’t looking. When asked about the woman’s identity, Corvus says she is known as “Agent Waxwork,” of the British Agency, and that she is operating in Paris with a team. A noise from the meeting chamber has the team telling the Fraternity to stay put (they are middle-aged over-achievers, apparently, as they opt to retreat to a room further back), while the team investigates the meeting chamber. They find themselves face to face with the aforementioned Agent Waxwork playing with a butterfly knife, and a team of what appear to be four well-armed and armored British Operators who are currently pointing their submachine guns somewhere in the vicinity of the ground. Agent Waxwork figuratively drops the first shoe with the greeting of, “Hello, darlings.”

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Pretty Boys Get All The Girls
Sine Qua Nonsense - Part 2

The team is hurried out of Kashna’s office in order to prepare for their upcoming trans-Atlantic flight. Shortly beforehand, Windmill orchestrates one of the more awkward ice-breaker games fondly known as, “Is that cyanide in your room? Or is it time to run out in your underwear and meet your new teammate!” Fortunately, everyone is fully clothed when they meet Agent Sunnyside, who is most assuredly not a plant, despite apparently drawing his powers from sunlight.

The team embarks on their flight to France from a nearby, private airstrip. The ride is uneventful, as most attempt to catch what sleep they can. Upon arrival, they head to MCann’s hotel to meet the rest of the security staff, all of whom are receiving orders from an imposing individual who introduces himself as Brett. Since the security detail is (oddly enough) composed of a number of individuals and small groups from all over the world, the Agency team almost fits right in. Brett shares his beliefs that McCann seems to not be too worried about anything, and seems perfectly capable of looking after himself- much to the dismay of several muggers back in New York.
After a quick nap, the team has the opportunity to meet McCann in person as he arrives back at the hotel. McCann handles a room full of fawning security toughs with ease, and stays just long enough for a few handshakes and charming smiles before taking his leave.
Brett hands out assignments, letting the team know that they’ll be tasked with accompanying McCann the day after next. When asked about McCann’s staff, Brett says that they largely stay on McCann’s floor, and generally don’t interact with anyone outside themselves.

Free to explore the famed City of Light, the team (sans Emet, as he is staying out of sight in the hotel’s basement) sets out to do just that! Starting with Agent Corvus’ apartment. The last report received from Corvus said that he intended to enter the catacombs beneath Paris to speak to the Fraternity of Deus Vult. Although their website proclaims them to be a Judeo-Christian cult eagerly awaiting an interesting (and admittedly quite nice) version of the Apocalypse, Corvus had reason to believe they were worth talking to. The apartment Corvus has been living at is located in one of the non-tourism-oriented sections of Paris. Corvus apparently also saw fit to install added security on his door in the form of a crossbow aimed at the doorway, and primed to go off if not disabled before opening the door.

Hoping to avoid having to pay damages for the opposing wall’s recently de-plastered section (which happened much to Rerun’s surprise and dismay), the team slips inside after Fear Factor picked the stubborn lock. The small apartment appears shabby, but well maintained. The kitchen window was left surprisingly open, and a trough of birdseed on the balcony lends much credence to Corvus’ reported ability of avian communication – especially when paired with the distinct lack of bird feces in the apartment.

Dermit finds a slim book of Irish folklore and a handwritten book in Gaelic under the mattress, and further inspection of the room yields a small handgun and a number of passports hidden behind a loose brick along with some money, personal correspondence, and a laptop’s charging cord. After Rerun postcogs the cord, the team learns that there was a third book under the mattress that Corvus took with him, and that the window trap had been shut and the window closed before Corvus left. Further postcogging of the windowsill revealed that a woman had broken into the apartment, ably disarming the window trap and heading to lift up the mattress – presumably after the third book. [[::nama | Nama’s]] acute sense of smell picks up the scent of cheap, non-French cigarettes, presumably also belonging to the unidentified woman.

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It Begins
Sine Qua Nonsense - Part 1

Upon the team’s return to the Agency, Gently is whisked off to the medical ward for the treatment of his remaining injuries. Dermit rejoins the team after having spent some time working under Agents Praxis and Dreggs, the heads of the Thaumaturgical Research Department. They recently intercepted a hex written in Gaelic runes on birch bark addressed to a celebrity. The hex was intended to strip an immortal of their immortality, but fortunately the sender didn’t seem to realize the hoops fan mail goes through. The celebrity in question is known as Colin McCann, an up-and-coming star after his debut in the critically acclaimed indie film, Hell’s Banquet. However, McCann is actually the Irish demi-god, Fionn MacCumhaill; and while imperfect, the hex is worrying. (Note: Yes, ‘Fionn MacCumhaill’ is essentially pronounced, ‘Finn McCool.’ You may now celebrate in whatever fashion seems most appropriate to you.) Through some creative hacking, the team has been attached to McCann’s security detail while he’s in Paris for the big-budget movie he’s just been cast in. Gently will be remaining behind, but will still be his helpful self as he will provide translations for those members of the team who don’t speak modern French fluently. Agent Sunnyside will be joining the team before they depart via a private airstrip for France, as will Agent Content Not Found: emet (the latter is strictly backup, and even then, only in emergencies).
Agent Corvus was established as “eyes on the ground”, but went dark yesterday, after going into the catacombs under Paris to investigate a secret society. Agent Corvus can speak with birds, making him quite valuable as reconnaissance. It is encouraged that he be rescued if possible.

The team can’t expect help from the now-disbanded French Agency, though they are provided with the business card of an Agent Provocateur who may sell them weapons. They are not to tell McCann what organization they work for while they protect him and investigate who is attempting to murder an immortal.

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And It All Came Crashing Down
Too Many Sanskwanches - Part 6

After arriving at the abandoned barn, Nama stays outside with Charlie, while Gently, Rerun, and Fear Factor investigate. The dilapidated structure is proven to be unsafe when part of the loft collapses after Gently’s entrance- without him, fortunately. The scuffling noises the team did hear prior to entering recede down into the cellar. Heading into the cellar reveals it to contain the tools of the murder trade, and that the maker of the scuffling is none other than SQUATCHENSTEIN!! The stitched-back-together victim of Gently from the rescue of Grant Richards. While Squatchenstein attempts to visit retribution on Gently, Rerun looks around hard enough to find Albert Fish trying to stab him with horrendously overgrown finger-daggers.

The support beams of the cellar’s ceiling are first accidentally (and then purposefully) set aflame, during which Fear Factor sets his sights on the “4/4 Sasquatch Kills” achievement… Also known as Squatchenstein’s head. The mighty beast falls, and the team decides on a tactical regrouping upstairs and outside. Unfortunately, they only reach the ground floor before the floor collapses into the cellar they just left. After picking themselves out of the hole (with Nama’s help), the team faces down Albert Fish, once more. Gently sends out a call in the spirit world, announcing Fish’s presence. Fear Factor takes Nama’s place as Charlie’s guardian, while the other three battle Fish inside a cloud of smoke. After a time (and some friendly-fire), Gently delivers a shotgun blast point blank to Fish’s chest. The Wendigo finishes up, retrieving Fish and leaving his teeth, its work in the area done.

After the 3/4 of the team (not Fear Factor spends some time in the local hospital, Rerun is first on his feet. He and Fear Factor meet with Deputy Hawk. Hawk does most of the talking, saying that he’s aware the team is not actually from the FBI (he figured out fairly easily that Danno’s escape was staged). When the real FBI shows up, Hawk fully intends to shrug and feign ignorance, though also voices the feeling that the team should no longer be around (the team shares this feeling). The parting is amicable, and the entire team (in varying levels of health) leaves the town of Màdjà, Maine shortly thereafter.

Number of Explosions: ZERO
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