Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Children of Atlantis #2

First to Cairo...
Last week's first issue of this new Katana/Wychblayde teamup had ended with our 2 heroes having discovered who, what, where and why:
  • Who- the Children of Atlantis.
  • What- the fragments of the Great Seal of Lemuria.
  • Where- the Museum of Antiquities in Cairo and the Guggenheim in New York.
  • Why- raising sunken cities and awakening Elder Gods.
It didn't take us long to figure out that Cairo, being closer, should be our first destination. It took us a bit longer to realise that Katana's sword and Wychblayde's polearm would make regular air travel impossible. Some time was spent considering calling on the help of one of Katana's contacts, but I felt that it was inappropriate to make this call for the sake of a taxi-service. With a little prompting from Bill we soon hit on the plan of stowing away in the hold of a plane. This proved easy to do, and we were soon in the dry heat of Cairo.

A talkative 'tourist-friendly' cabbie and a minor diversion later, Katana and Wychblayde snuck into the Museum of Antiquities in the dead of night to locate the fragment of the Great Seal to save it from the Children of Atlantis. As Katana snuck through the darkened exhibition room, Wychblayde walked boldly forward under cover of her invisibility.

Her senses more alert than Katana's, Wychblayde saw what came next before it happened. A mummy's fist shot out from between the bars of a cage, sending Wychblayde flying and knocking her cold. As ever against such creatures of darkness, Katana attacked with Shadowsword-Alpha. To his horror the mummy seemed quite unaffected by his attack. Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said for Katana when the mummy threw a display case at him, which hit him easily. Another hit like that and he would be KO'ed too.

Cursing his rashness Katana began to fight more defensively. This worked until frustration at the mummy's seeming immunity to his sword-strikes brought about a change of tactics which lowered Katana's defences. The telling blow landed and he was KO'ed. And so it was that Wychblayde came to to see the mummy looming over the unconscious Katana. Her efforts to turn the fight round were to no avail and she was soon KO'ed again. Our pair of heroes came to dangling from the mummy's hands just long enough to hear the museum's alarms go off before the mummy knocked their heads together and they were unconscious yet again.

Katana and Wychblayde regained consciousness lying on the floor (and not in the clutches of the leering villain as I'd expected) and to the sound of fighting nearby. Katana sprinted to the scene to see the mummy fighting 4 of the Abhoroth daemons last seen in London, while a 5th beat a hasty retreat from the scene. The fight seemed like an even match, so we went to investigate the basement which lay beyond a shattered door nearby (clever move, eh?!). Sure enough, we found that the servants of the Children of Atlantis had got there before us, and the fragment of the Great Seal was nowhere to be seen.

Upstairs, and decided to leave the mummy and the Abhoroth to their fight to follow the trail of the daemon escaping with the booty, our departure was interrupted by the arrival of a flying figure wearing gold armour marked with an ankh which made him look for all the world like an Egyptian god. He promptly joined in the battle against the daemons.

Sensing what was afoot, Katana joined in. Shadowsword-Alpha didn't let me down this time, and 2 Abhoroth were quickly felled. Now outnumbered 2-1 the remaining 2 didn't last much longer. Katana was just readying himself to attack the mummy again when the new arrival called on me to hold.

Introductions were made. Ankh and the Mummy turned out to be members of the Brotherhood, Egypt's state-sponsored superteam. More than that, Katana and Ankh had mutual acquaintances. And so it was that, on learning of what had gone down in London, Ankh agreed to use his influence to get us onto a diplomatic flight to New York so that we could try to keep the remaining fragment of the Great Seal out of the hands of the Children of Atlantis.

And then to New York
Katana and Wychblayde presented themselves at the Guggenheim museum, where we were introduced to museum director Dr. Donovan. Donovan understood the seriousness of the situation and was glad to receive any assistance we could offer, and to offer any help he could reasonably agree to.

We then found ourselves on the horns of a dilemma. Just sitting tight to wait for the cultists to arrive was unappealing not least because we had failed to stop them at that stage twice already. But setting out to investigate the Children of Atlantis in New York might leave us blindsided by the cult. A solution to this on Wychblayde's part- eg. a teleport device- was beyond her powers. In the end Katana had a brainwave [an 8 on an 8- roll on a newly acquired basic Deduction roll, bought with one of last week's EP at Bill's prompting!]- the London and Cairo attacks had both taken place at night. So we now knew that we had time to spare.

With Wychblayde checking the Children of Atlantis website, we soon learned that one Brother Edmund Stark was due to speak at one of their offices that very night. Stark was the leader from London I suspected had been lying doggo after that first fight. Things started to fall into place quickly now. A call to Ankh back in Cairo confirmed that Stark had indeed just flown out from Cairo. He was clearly responsible for the ritual implanting the Abhoroth in their human hosts. So we had a chance to prevent the attack on the Guggenheim from leaving its lair in the first place.

The denouement was quick and simple after that. We were ferried to our location in the Egyptian embassy limousine which had been at our disposal since we'd landed in New York. Wychblayde went to the meeting of the Children of Atlantis in her civilian identity. Katana lurked on the roof of the building with her weapon.

The meeting over, several people were hanging around afterwards. Wychblayde snuck out of sight, instant-changed into her costume and switched on her invisibility. Her magical powers were unfortunately detected, alerting people in the room. Noticing something was up, Katana decided to make his entrance via a skylight.

The fight which followed was fairly short. It was lengthened only by Katana's need to wait until Wychblayde joined him so he could pass her blade to her. That done, he dealt with Stark with a couple of punches. The SMG-toting goons were easily mopped-up thereafter.

Polices sirens could be heard approaching at this point. We decided to leave, taking Stark with us as our prisoner. As the day wore on we found out that our triumph was complete: the Guggenheim wasn't attacked; and Stark- who we'd delieverd to the Egyptian embassy- turned out to be wanted for crimes in Egypt. We made sure he was returned there.

We had a lot of fun with this session just like last week. I enjoyed getting into the swing of things with Katana again, and having little details of his new story develop. It was also fun working on bringing the Katana/Wychblayde relationship to life- I had Katana question Wychblayde about her powers so she could perhaps come up with a solution to our dilemma. And only just making that Deduction roll when Bill was despairing of feeding us the solution was a buzz too.

But, just like last week, the HEROmods Bill had adopted were the big star. We were all amazed at how quickly the combats run under these rules. More than that (and again, just like last week), it was clear that there is more to the initiative-based SPD system than just ease of use. The unpredictability of when you will actually get your phases is psychologically excellent. The simple fact that I have to wait for Katana to enjoy the benefits of his high SPD- instead of it coming up regular as clockwork as it does using the SPD table; this generates a frustration which makes him rash and impetuous in a way that it was so easy not to be using RAW. I really liked the way that this simple rules change brought new life to a familiar PC.

Oh, and we got 2 EP. So Katana has passed the 300pt mark at long last. And he now has the Deduction skill he's long needed to make him a proper detective. Whew! ;)
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