"Dylan is the only sane one back." - Susan/Dana
"Shit, things ARE bad." - Steve/Dylan
"I think I'm a cherub on the inside." - Dylan
"There is a man with a TV in his chest laying on my floor." - Seneschal of the Theft Tether, mournfully.
"On second thought, let's not go to Hell, it is a silly place!" - Dylan
"It's not my fault you joined the 'I love Javan' fan club." - Dylan
"He's hurting on the inside." - Steve, about Dylan's aloofness.
And the closing line of the session...
Eli says, "But what about the chocolate pudding?"
Day 5, 6:00 AM - 7:00 AM
Dana gets into the car with Daimon and Dylan, and they follow Mickey into Spanish Harlem, and there is a conversation [held offline previous to the game] in the back seat. Mickey leads them through some of the most grimy, nasty, and overall ic ky area of Harlem, up and in front of a small, dirty pawnshop with the bars on the door and window.
At the same time, Star was explaining to Raphael at 2am on a street corner in LA out in front of a Kobalite tether that she wasn't overeager to get back to get back to DC immediately to deal with severed heads and similar nastiness. She would rather hang out with her other buds, Dana and Daimon, who were not, in fact, dealing with severed heads at all, and therefore, by that logic, were in better position. He agrees to Song of Location her over to them... and there she appears, on a corner in on a dirty grimy block in Harlem as the sun was just finishing coming up and watching Dana's car pull into a space.
So at that, as everyone gets out of the car, Star meets Dylan for the first time. And no, there is no secret Mercurian Communication Network, as cool as that would be. Star gets cuddled by her favorite Lilim, who is happy to see her. Star describes, th e best she can, the situation as she last knew it in DC - nasty demons, dead priests, scary people, the whole works.
Daimon follows Mickey in, after getting due reminders from Dana that he promised to come right back. He disappears into the store. Dana resonantes on Daimon, and gets that he's in sort of a low grade trouble, and his direction is currently 'elsewhere'. She resonantes on the Dominican Malakim that attacked her last night, and he seems fine, but also 'elsewhere' in a completely different direction. Dana then recaps everything that was going on, with the Stonies, and the David-Dominic thing, and all that . Dylan laments the fact that all of his stuff is in his Jeep of Many Things, which is probably sitting in the Boston Police inpound lot right about now. His camera, his computer, his clothes, all his stuff, gone. He debates either paying the fine or b reaking in and stealing his jeep back. Now what would cause the most chaos?
Day 5, 7:30 AM
Star talks about her trip to LA. She tells Dana about the Worded Creationers locked in the Spires, the Dominican Records room, her field trip with Raphael. Dana expresses the fact that she absolutely does not trust Raphael. And then Dana's resonance st arts to go a little nuts, as the Attuned One is starting to radiate danger in an unspecified location. Dana begins to pace. Star expresses that she wants to do more to change Heaven, and she learned this from Dana, but Dana isn't listening anymore. Peo ple pace back and forth on the sidewalk in front of the store, starting to garner them stares from the people who are getting up and starting to go to work. This isn't exactly a safe neighborhood.
Star, seeing the other two fidget, decides to do the only thing she knows how to do. She announces that they all need ice cream. Now, Dana doesn't want ice cream. She wants to fidget as her resonance tells her that things are getting steadily worse. S tar convinced Dylan, and Dylan, amazingly, knows where the nearest convenience store is. But it being 7:30 AM, it simply isn't open yet and the closest 24 hour store is a walk. They decide to return to the pawnshop, where Dana has already disappeared in side.
Dana goes into the store, and sees a tall thin balding man with round spectacles is working with his first customer of the day. No sign of the other two demons. She looks in the cases, and sees watches, guns, knifes, jewelry, cellphones, pagers, and all other types of contraband. When the customer goes away, the man behind the counter lifts an eyebrow and glares at Dana. But she wants nothing to do with him. As she's wandering around, she knows that she's just skirting dissonance. She starts wonderi ng how much she's going to eat before she's going to be forced to act. As Dana paces, the two Mercurians return from their ice cream excursion and also wait.
Day 5 8:00 AM
There is a disturbance in the tether, and as they are so close to the terminus, the three of them unilaterally notice it. Instead of it being Daimon and Mickey, it's some tall, good looking guy in a black $1000 silk suit holding Mickey by the left forear m. He causally comes around for behind the counter, tosses Mickey to the floor in the center of the room, and primly lifting up his slacks so they don't wrinkle, sits on the counter. Star resonantes on him and only learn that he believes he is better th en everyone else in existence. Dylan resonates and gets a little more material:
"You learn his name is Javan, and you can see in a flash his entire background, his ambitious climb up the Kobalite ladder of power, earning his Word of Political Satire, his cowing and control of the masses. You know that he's sold himself, and his Prin cipality, out to the Game, and you know that he fashions himself as the next Prince of Dark Humor, and he may well be in position to pull it off. And you know, without a doubt, that nothing would amuse him more then seeing you three squirm before he kill s you all."
Dylan doesn't look happy at this.
Javan, looking perfect, informs the three that he wants to know what it is that makes them so special. So amuse him, he says. Do their little angelic thing. Show what it is that makes them so special. And trust him, he's a friend...
Dana tries to resist his lies, and finds the Symphony completely rejecting her. She holds her head as her resonance screams, and she starts, suddenly, picking up dissonance point after dissonance point. She just barely holds onto her angelic nature. As she looks up, she realizes that Javan is her friend. She can trust him implicitly. She can trust everything that he says. So when he asks to be entertained, Dana immediately launches into one of her speeches about Freedom. And doesn't stop.
Javan begins to explain to Dana that she can bring this speech to the millions of individuals who need to hear this. She'll be on televisions. She'll be on radios. Everyone will listen to her if she just follows him, and they will all love her. Dana b elieves this implicitly, and smiles.
Star doesn't want to hear this. She doesn't want to believe this. But as she tries to disbelieve everything she hears, she realizes, hey, wait. This Javan, he's not such a bad guy. Actually he's pretty cool. It starts to occur to her that Javan is th e most wonderful, most trustworthy, most believable man in the entire universe. And as this, she doesn't want to run anymore. She doesn't want to hide. She wants to follow him to the ends of the Earth.
Dylan, seeing two infernal interventions rolled in a row, amazing as this is, watches his two companion angels smile and nod. Even though he himself is slowly being boondoggled by Javan, he still has his brain functioning. He notices he's in a pawn shop. He notices it's filled with glorious stuff. And then Dylan decides to Song of Celestial Motion a stereo into Javan's chest. He blows essence, it works, and there is something mysteriously fatal about having a stereo in one's chest. Javan, utterly surp rised at this, has enough time to spit out between blood gushing lips at Dana and Star, "Go to hell." And then he falls off the counter and dies.
Amazingly, Dana and Star find this a remarkably good idea. How else are they going to rescue Daimon?
Day 5 8:30 AM
Mickey picks herself off the floor where she'd been avoiding this whole mess, and gives Javan's dead body a few swift kicks. It makes her feel better. Then she breaks one of the glass cases open, pulls out a Baretta 9mm, and tells Dana, "You'd be surpri sed where you can find relics these days." Then she heads for the terminus of the tether, because she's definitely going back to finish what was started. Star protests. The two boondoggled angels think it's a great plan to follow Mickey to Hell, but St ar insists, it's just Hell, they don't need guns! Everyone should be friendly and peaceful! As a matter of fact, she's going to bring her message of peace to the thronged masses of demonic hordes. They go past the stunned Seneschal to the terminus, a l arge black glowing rip in the fabric of space on the floor of the back office behind the cage. They see Mickey resume celestial Impudite form, and they follow her....
IN HELL - Stygia
They emerge in the middle of a cobblestone street, in a town that looks like it was transported from Cold War era Russia. The buildings are leaning at crazy angles, and the windows are blown out. The sky above is sort of a dirty red color. People walk through the streets, heads down, beaten by the atmosphere. Some guards in Red Army uniforms, demons who are walking through the area are committing random acts of violence on the inhabitants.
Mickey turns, looks at the three angels standing in the middle of the street, makes a strangled gurgling noise, and hustles the three of them into the nearest house. She can't seem to do this fast enough. She starts cursing at the group in Helltongue, b ut they don't understand. So Mickey resigns herself to finding some quick disguises, hoping that the demons who have already spotted them are the type who have never seen angels before and won't go hop over to your friendly nearby Game station and open f ire. She can make Star and Dylan into Impudites in heavy trenchcoats, some makeup and black spray paint, but Dana is a more significant problem. As Mickey mulls this over, Star realizes where they are at. Can they go home? Can she just leave? Mickey has no idea, as she's never had angels follow her to Hell before. She honestly doesn't know how an angel gets out of Hell. Maybe if you try to ascend you get ripped to shreds. Maybe nothing. She offers for Star to try it as an experiment. Star decide s it's best if she doesn't. A decision is reached, and Dana resumes her vessel. Then Mickey scrounges green paint, green body, and little horns, and just prays that no one looks too closely. Three Red Army uniforms later, and they look like Malphasians , or at least shoddy copies. Hopefully everyone is too self-absorbed to care.
Mickey leads them through the Valeforian area of Stygia to the clearly Malphasian area. They walk through muddied streets, which change from Russia to the ghettos of Mexico City to the streets of Sicily to the dirtied mud tracks of Peru. They watch soul s fight and kill each other. Demons drag souls off for random beatings. The towns are surrounded by electified fences, walls, barbed wire. Off in the distance, they see cities made of gold and jewels, utterly unattainable by the inhabitants. Bejeweled coaches go through the streets, bearing demons of high standing. No one much gives the four a second look. They don't understand a word being said around them.
Dana's resonance is kicking in, and the Attuned One is in some direction, "Over there", with the great and immediate peril starting to lay off. Dana's course through Hell is set.
Eventually they stop at a house, Mickey muttering something about passes. She disappears and tells them to wait outside, looking like they're guarding something. Don't talk to anyone, don't look at anyone, don't even think for a moment you are really de mons. Mickey disappears into the house. While waiting, a small child, maybe 6, comes running up and clutches to Star's leg. "Please," it says, "I'm hungry. Please give me some food. Please." Star keeps telling herself these aren't humans, these aren 't humans. She shoos the child off. She watches as the child walks a few stumbling steps down the block and collapses. Star tells herself that it's just Hell playing tricks on her, but she's feeling the need to go over...
Inside, out of sight and not seen by the angels, Mickey uses the Relic gun to her best advantage, and procures four border passes. She passes them out, and informs them that they must say nothing, nothing at all to the border guards. Then the scenery pa sses much quicker, and they see before them the enormous wall, topped with barbed wire, which surrounds the Principality. Over the wall, they can see the tall, thin, glittering structures of buildings, and the constant chatter of sound over the wall. Th e border guards are Balseraphim, and one notices something strange about Dylan. He gets frisked, but the guard isn't too bright, and takes their passes, letting them go on through. They are assaulted with an enormous wall of light and sound.
IN HELL - Perdition
The buildings are enormous, and they are all made of glass. On the sides of the buildings are enormous signs, blaring out advertisements and commercials. The lower floors of the buildings are filled with enormous televisions, radios, computer screens, s houting out information to anyone who would care to hear. Newspaper boxes and magazine stands are on every corner. Speakers chatter propoganda in hundreds of languages. Crowds throng the streets, staring mindlessly at the glittering screens.
As the angels are getting herded through town, something catches Star's eye. She stands there, enraptured, watching a television showing an idyllic scene full of flowers and happiness. It's everything Dana and Dylan can do to pry her away from it.
Their passage through Perdition is swift. Dana is feeling that she is nearing her goal, and goads people to hurry up. They come upon the enormous wall separating Perdition and Shal-Mari, but here, with the treaties, the doors are always open to Hell's m ost famous pleasure pit.
IN HELL - Shal-Mari
Everything you could possibly want, you can find in Shal-Mari. The angels oogle at the lines of bars, clubs, shops, strip joints, casinos, arcades, resturants, and other attractions. The streets are thronged with people, shoppers, demons with every set of colors to every Prince. Men in Black stand in shadows, take notes, and drag people down alleyways for acts of unknown violence. Lilim hawk wares from every corner. From the entry point, one can see the enormous gaudy palace of Lust, the huge casino hotel marking Kobal's palace, the tall thin minarets of the Guildhall, and the blocky structure of Gluttony.
The angels move through the crowd, moving toward one of the center squares of the City. There are places where Star and Dylan each see things they want in storefront windows, things that will make them undeniably happy, and Dana is forced to pull them aw ay. Hell is starting to look like a good place. It's starting to look like a fun place. It's starting to look like a place they want to stay for eternity.
Dana and Mickey push through the crowds, and hit a point where the crowds are just a solid wall. They can see, over the tops of the heads of lesser demons and imps and humans, that they have come up in front of the Palace, the enormous casino theater. U p on the ledge before an equally enormous statue are three figures, two Impudites and a Lilim. The Lilim looks like she's been through a war, bloody, torn suit clothes, chains hanging from her wrists. One Impudite is smallish and red haired in a black s uit, and the other one is a much bigger man in garishly unmatching clothing. The Lilim is addressing the crowd, yelling at them, in indecipherable Helltongue. The crowd roars in affirmation something, and pumps their hands into the air. Dana's resonanc e points her right at the stage.
Mickey starts cutting through the crowd to get to the stage, and Dana follows right behind. Dylan tries the same trick, but he just gets blocked off. Star, trying to follow Dana and failing, gets cut off and wanders through the crowd, trying to make her own way up to the stage.
Dana cups her hands to her mouth, and yells in Mickey's ear, "What is going on?" Mickey responds, "Daimonique is bringing these people the Truth. Either she's going Bright or becoming a Demon Prince. Difficult to tell!" Dana doesn't think this is the greatest bit of news in the world.
People start to part around Dylan like Moses and the Red Sea. They hold onto their wallets and give him one of those "We don't like thieves" glares. He moves toward the front, and has little trouble finding Dana. Star, as well, seems to be able to forc e her way forward, although she can't seem to find Dana and Dylan.
The Lilim moves away and the garishly dressed Impudite takes the stage. The crowd roars. Dana leans over and tells Dylan what she thinks is going on. They attempt to mimic the crowd without uttering the words.
Two sets of cars pull up. On the right, there is a film crew, led by a large, silver Balseraphic form. The Balseraph looks to be trying to make its way through the crowd at high speeds and not having much succes. On the left, there are a half dozen car s, which disgorge a half dozen large demonic forms dressed in all black with red arm bands. They're all carrying what looks to be automatic weapons. The figures in black open fire into the crowd. The crowd begins to stampede.
Star runs into Dana, and she's rejoined with the group. Mickey gets separated during the push. Dana sees all three demonic forms jump off the podium before the statue and dash into the Palace. Dana, Dylan and Star take off after them. Inside is a huge , extremely crowded casino floor, mashed with demons and implings and human souls. The three are pushing their way frantically toward an elevator at the other side of the room. Dana screams, "DAIMONIQUE!" The Lilim stops, turns, and just stares at the three. She makes a decision, makes a 'follow me now' gesture, and follows the other two demons. The angels, pushing their way through the crowd, the rest of it stampeding behind them, makes it to the elevator. A key is shoved into a lock, the elevator opens, and everyone piles in. There are about 50 buttons to go up, and one to go down. The down button gets pushed.
The elevator goes down and down and down and down. It bings, and opens to a very dark corridor lit with flickering fluorescent lights. It's extremely cold. They walk a few hundred feet, and come to an intersection. Daimonique kisses the tall, garishly dressed Impudite, and hand him her gold band. Then the Impudites run in one direction, and Daimonique motions for the angels to run in the other. A few curves and the emerge into an enormous domed room, with hundreds of glowing holes in the ceiling. " Tetherpoints," she explains. "Thousands of them."
There's a man in the room when they stumble in there. He's very tall, very handsome, and looking at them with interest. And he's oozing lust from every pore. Andre.
Dylan succumbs to the prevalent feeling of Lust, and starts coming onto Dana. Honestly, he's feeling this whole demon thing wouldn't be so bad. He could really get into it. All he has to do is finish up what he started, and Fall, and everything would b e cool.
Andre tells Star that she'd never have to see killing, or pain, or ugliness ever again. All she has to do is succumb, willingly, to him, and she'll be happy forever. She's holding out, but her will is not strong enough to stand it forever. And while An dre is distracted, Daimonique comes up behind him and shoves a broken shard from her Heart into his back between his shoulderblades.
This, it should be said, just pisses Andre off. Daimonique looks up, and with a shove of will, ascends a tether. Any tether. Andre stares at the angels, and morphs from nice attractive form to extremely angry Demon Prince form. Star and Dylan, more af raid then they've ever been in their lives, flees out to the corridor to cower. Dana receives Andre's full, unbroken, unfiltered by the corporeal. So Dana, doing the only thing she can in such a circumstance, convinced that now, for sure, she is going t o die, after all this, summons Lilith. And Lilith appears.
"You're not looking very attractive like that, Andre dear," Lilith says. Lilith talks Andre down. She reminds him that she is very displeased when he breaks one of Lilith's toys. And he still wants a steady stream of Lilim, does he not? Maybe they'd l ike to go work for Nybbas, instead...
Andre backs down. And bows to Lilith, and says he'll have a talk with her as soon as this is over. Lilith turns to Dana, her servitor. She doesn't even ask what Dana is doing in Hell. She simply states that this favor is going to cost Dana another mon th of her life, on top of it all. Dana agrees, willingly, and the Geas/5, active, appears around Dana's arm.
At that, Dana gathers up the cowering angels, and follows the Attuned One back up to the surface.
Day 5 3:30PM Outwater, Montana
The angels find themselves appearing in a small comedy gimmick store in the forgotten town of Outwater, Montana. Dylan suddenly realizes, not that he was thinking that Hell was a really good idea, but that his jeep is much farther away from where it was before. Daimon looks ill, and claims that he still has whatever in his system that Javan's cronies pumped him full of. The angels discuss what to do next, and Star, always the summoner, summons. Successfully.
"Doo bee doobeedoo..."
And so the guy in the rasta brains and the dirty overcoat and the backpack, shows up in the door, and tells them that there is a much better place they can be gathering. It has good food, really good beer, and great atmosphere. And it's just down the ro ad. So they walk down to the Outwater Spitfire Bar and Grill, where the hostess recognizes Eli immediately and gives the group of five an exceptionally good table. Dana sits next to Daimon so that he can be appropriately cuddled.
So Star tells the story of the whole adventure! Of course, it has a Star spin on it, but Eli appreciates it and all, giving her a guaranteed Twinkie Food Product. Then Eli announces that it's time for presents. He gives Dana the Amazing Ketchup Bottle, which will never run out of exceptionally good ketchup. Dylan gets a CD, the Greatest Hits of Olivia Newton John. And to Star, he gives an exceptionally cute Beanie Froggie. He hands Daimon a baggie of Hash, which gets smoked. No one seems to have a problem with pot in this particular Bar and Grill, maybe because it's simply exceptional, maybe something else.
Eli tells Daimon it's time. He asks how he wants it done, and Daimon looks nervous and says he doesn't know. Dana says that it has to be a true choice. Someone suggests rolling around in a big vat of chocolate pudding naked, a suggestion which has meri t until Eli realizes it probably isn't appropriate for Redemption. "Later, later!" He says. Finally, looking up at the small stage at the front of the bar and grill, Eli suggests Daimon plays something for them. The Archangel gets up, goes over and tal ks to the bartender. He comes back with a classical guitar, and shoves it into the Lilim's hands.
Looking embarrassed, Daimon climbs up on stage, and sits on a small stool in the center. Dana and Star sit on the edge of the stage. As Daimon starts to play some Noveau Flamenco, they can begin to hear the Symphony rise in the background and all around them, and the one discordant, independent strain and voice that stands outside it, clashing with it. Slowly, inch by painful inch, the one discordant voice slowly becomes in line with the whole Symphony, blending it, adding it's own harmony. And there it stays, rising and falling to the heartbeat of the universe. They could hear the strains of music taper off after a few minutes of straight playing.
Dana was crying. They both climbed up on stage and held their sweaty, sick looking Lilim. It's possible that traipsing through Hell might have been worth it.
And Eli says, "But what about the chocolate pudding?"