The American Dream

Deliberations
The Familia hypotheses at length, realizes some disturbing possibilities, and provides intelligence to an enemy

In the aftermath on the Jerusalem vault heist, the ill-gotten gains are inventoried and sorted. The Familia has acquired eleven periapts, along with a variety of other artifacts. Most notably acquired is a Templar tabard which has never been worn – it is theorized that this was to be worn by Mister Linus during his grand working. Certain members of the Familia (most notably Secret Knowledge and Entropy) seem to look forward to Linus attempting to reclaim his lost property.

With the Midsummeer Ball approaching, the Familia decides that it is in everyone’s best interests to warn Mister Linus not to butterfly any members of Familia AEACHUS, lest the Excrucians establish a foothold beyond Linus’ carefully constructed (if hopelessly flawed, in the eyes of some) Fourth Age. Secret Knowledge uses means unknown to reach out to James, the former Power of Apocalypse, and warns him that AEACHUS is suspected of being a Mimic. James is understandably taken aback by this news, and assures Secret Knowledge that he will take this under advisement.

What begins as idle speculation in the aftermath of the parley with James becomes a series of disturbing conversations amongst the Familia – what if Linus is engaging in all of these activities with CROATOAN’s consent? What if Linus thinks he is severing all ties with the Third Age, only to be used as a stalking horse and bringing CROATOAN forth as the sole, single Imperator of the Fourth? The Familia realizes that they have never received explicit instructions to derail Linus’ plan, even when the full extent of his enterprise was only speculation. What if CROATOAN’s agenda is not to foil Linus, but rather sit back and just watch if he succeeds, then claim the spoils of his victory? Secret Knowledge finds these possibilities particularly disturbing, as he must remain Faithful to whatever agenda CROATOAN asks him to pursue. If, at any time, CROATOAN grants his imprimatur to Linus’ plan then Secret Knowledge must also fall in line; this would place him in direct conflict with at least one member of the Familia (Apocalypse), and possibly more. Most disturbing to Apocalpyse, Secret Knowledge most likely would not inform the Familia if he were under orders to assist Linus, and thus the trust between brothers would be irrevocably torn.

In the end, the Familia decides that this matter must be settled if they are to have faith in Secret Knowledge, and be able to move forth with confidence. It is resolved that several members of the Familia will present themselves in the Holiest of Holies, and ask CROATOAN directly whether or not Linus is to succeed…..

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Background Check
Entropy claims a new anchor, and the Familia performs a minor heist

After much deliberation on the afternoon of July 25th, a vote is taken and the majority favors sparing the life of Emma. Hank further decides that the best way to make use of her is as an Anchor, and he does so without hesitation.

The doors of Emma’s mind are laid bare to Hank, and the Familia learns much of Mister Linus’ plan. He intends to create a new reality without any spiritual ties to the Imperators, and thus entirely removed from their conflict with the Excrucians. The butterfly effect that occurs at each corner of the year is a ritual to convey that aspect of reality for into Linus’ New World (which, Hank learns, will claim 81 victims at Midsummer). The ex-Powers who take Linus’ deal will live on as demigods in the New World, but consent is not necessary for a Domain to be distributed if need be. The plan will culminate in a little over three month’s time, one year after the first Manifestation.

The Familia also learns the location of the Emma’s (other) periapt, the creation of which was instrumental in her de-Powering. It is stored in a bank vault within Jerusalem’s Old Quarter, and the Familia decides that now would be an excellent time to reclaim their Anchor’s property (and anything else which isn’t nailed down in the immediate vicinity).

Hank, Oren, Harold, and Dee exit the Warehouse in Cairo and proceed overland to Jerusalem. Once within the bank, Harold performs a Lesser Change of Metropolis and opens every door in Jersulaem. Every. Last. One. With the Warehouse mystery cult providing suppressing fire, the Familia strolls into the now open vault, where they come face-to-visage with an Ofanim guarding the teleport pentacle inscribed on the vault floor. Oren dispatches it with an Ogun-bullet, and the Familia proceed on to the other side of the pentacle – the secret Templar vaults beneath Jerusalem.

Emma’s periapt is discovered nearby, along with a veritable trove of artifacts kept nearby (most notably 27 pieces of silver at the bottom of a bowl filled with water). Goods are shoveled into black duffel bags as quickly as possible (the silver receiving special handling), and the Familia exeunts back to aboveground Jerusalem. As a parting gift to Mister Linus, Harold performs his second Lesser Change of Metropolis that day and retracts the boundaries of the city several hundred feet upwards. This has the tragic consequence of filling all the Templar vaults with bedrock, much to the fatal annoyance of anyone down there (and the slightly less fatal annoyance of Mister Linus himself).

Meanwhile, the city is attempting to deal with all manor of mundane and supernatural breaches in security in the wake of Harold’s opening miracle. Wanting to contribute in some way to the cleanup effort, Harold performs one last miracle, a Lesser Creation of Apocalypse in which all the firstborn sons of Jerusalem are given knowledge of the arts of Solomon to bind demons, for a period of exactly seven days.

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Working Vacation
A new locus of activity is found in New Orleans

The familia discusses the necessity of wiping their memories regarding the False Ark. Harold and Hank each are voluntariliy redacted (does Oren?). Dee considers it unnecessary given his nature, and Hope cannot spare the miraculous energies required.

The Babbage Engine finally completes its processing, and identifies the most likely ritual site as a row house facing Congo Square in New Orleans. Hank, Hope (as Ralph), Dee, and Wilson (unoccoupied) travel to New Orleans to gather more information. Further research on the house indicates that it was constructed by August Notie, former mortal agent of the warehouse and subsequent member of the Cammorra.

Oren is dispatched to Washington D.C. to collaborate with Ligea regarding opposition to URIEL’s imminent Enchancellment.

Hank demonstrates just how impressive his shapeshifting abilities are, and easily penetrates the security of the row house. Once inside, he finds that the geometry of the interior is flexible, and reshapes itself to keep him contained within. Hank makes the acquaitance of one Captain Latrobe (or the shade of the captain, rather). The Captain is polite, but requests that Hank not distubs “the legation” any more than he already has. Hank identifies himself as an agent of Heaven, and withdraws rather than provoke further confrontation.

On his way out, Hank is subject to the attention (but not interrogation) of an Ofanim shard. From there he rejoins the others who have gone to the bayou for further investigation.

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Testimony

July 20th, 2011

The familia returns from Eden, separated.

Hank reemerges in Afghanistan; and is evac’ed out courtesy of the Warehouse mystery cult. The nature of his allegiances to either Heaven or the Wyld are as yet unknown, possibly not even to Hank himself.

Oren exits via Hell, and after a brief scuffle finds himself face-to-face with Minos. Minos takes his fruit of Life as surety until such time as Dee delivers the fruit of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Dee innocently strolls out of the gate Gardens provided in Pasadena. From there he makes his way back to the Abyss, and concludes the deal with Minos. Before doing, he miraculously extracts the seeds of the fruit of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Dee hands over both the fruit and the book containing the Warmain to Minos (noting that Minos has similarly removed the seeds from the fruit of Life). Minos seems almost giddy (for a lord of Hell) to begin interrogating the Excrucian contained within the book.

Harold presents himself before CROATOAN and attempts damage control on the incoming Ofanim inquisitor; he is charged with preventing the Ofanim from entering the Warehouse proper, and in turning the impression of Lillith into an ally. This is, rougly speaking, par for the course. Harold confronts the Ofanim at the threshold, and agrees to answer its questions so that it will not enter the Warehouse. The gates of his mind are thrown open by the angel, and it knows all that he knows. Ofanim-shards are observed speeding off to every significant place on Earth that the familia is aware of. The Heavenly Host are nothing if not thorough.

Of greatest concern is the shard heading for the island near Galvaston, site of the tryst between CROATOAN and ARAHAB. This could potentially give Heaven ideal leverage over CROATOAN in any upcoming conflicts, and the familia decides a coverup is in order.

Plans are discussed of varying levels of advisability, and in the end it is decided to plant a false trap there (ostensibly placed by the Excrucian Strategist) to convice the Ofanim to conclude its investigation without discovering the site’s true importance. The payload consists of a fake Imperial newborn, with Excrucian DNA spliced in and set to trigger upon discovery (the supposed point of the trap). This is constructed by Ralph, using gloves made of the shed Serpent’s Skin (taken from Eden) so as not to reveal any of the familia’s fingerprints. An ark to house the egg is built from available materials, and is an exact copy of the ark that houses the actual offspring of the tryst.

A potent conjunctional miracle (requiring a Word of Command by Hope) slips the payload in beneath the Ofanim-shard’s watchful eye, and there is nothing left to do but wait.

Warehouse acquisitions

Seeds of the fruit of Knowledge of Good and Evil
Gloves made from the shed skin of the Edenic Serpent

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Session 7

Noting that the Imbolc ball is on February 1st, the Familia Croatoan accelerates their timetable a bit to make sure that the public unveiling of the Space Elevator is done beforehand. Thus, January 31st is established as the day when the Elevator will touchdown to Texatlanta and be formally operational.

Amidst the flurry of preparation, a discussion ensues as to just what the Space Elevator is in the Mythic World. Or rather, what it shall be, because it exists in a largely undefined-conceptual space. Numerous suggestions are broached, with the final candidates being a Tower, a Bridge, a Tree, or a Road. The Bridge is ruled out for largely political reasons, the Tower for conceptual ones. A vote is taken amongst the Familia, and the Road is chosen as the winner. Thus, the familia seeks to cement the Space Elevator’s Mythic aspect as a Celestial Route 66, the American Highway to the Heavens. The Power of Roads is all-too happy to assist with this endeavor, and strings are pulled to have the terrestrial boarding facility built in the Prarie style with flanking lions, to mimic the start of Route 66 in Chicago at the Art Institute.

On the day of the unveiling, things appear to be going smoothly when a minor anomaly is noticed during the docking procedure – an increased fuel usage stemming from the Elevator being a few tons heavier than expected. Secret Knowledge investigates with the assistance of Entropy and Hope, and it is revealted that a hidden compartment has been built into the Elevator shaft, with integrated power to the Elevator as a whole. Upon further inspection, they appear to be Martian War Machines which are now missing from the Warehouse. Entropy makes short work of the payload, but not before Secret Knowledge salvages the telepathic transceiver that (apparently) serves as the activation mechanism. A converstaion ensues with….something….on the other end, apparently Martian in origin. He extends the thanks of Yoh-Vombis to Hope for leaving Mars.

Earthside, Texas is primarily engaged in his anchor as governor of Texatlanta, while Apocalypse serves as chaperone for the various Powers who are attendance; invited were one Power from each of the Consilium Americana (to be filled in later). While the matter of the Martian War Machines is being dealt with, Apocalypse engages in damage control with the various Nobles. He breaks the news to Towers that the Space Elevator will not be considerd a Mythic Tower; annoyance is expressed on both sides, and Apocalypse eventually dismisses Towers with his usual lack of aplomb. He then probes Mars on the issue of the War Machines themselves – Mars recongizes the name of Yoh-Vombis on the other end of the transceiver, but disavows any involvement in the installation of said murderious tripods.

Apocalypse also does a brief divination to locate any nearby individuals who are having a severely….apocalyptic reaction to the installation of the Space Elevator. An Air Force officer is having an adverse reaction, and Apocalypse forwards his dossier over to Texas for transfer off the base. More worrying is an executive of the European Space Agency in attendance, who is having a moment of profound secular nihilism. He proves to be of more serious concern, as he is in control of the Kotonou launch facility codes and may choose to make his private apocalypse public in the months to come. Apocalypse enlists Secret Knowledge in creating a CIA dossier on this person of interest, and his long-term monitoring and eventual neutralization is thusly subcontracted to the mortals in Langely.

In the end, the Elevator fits safely in its docking collar earthbound and the inaugeral transport begins its ascent. The Powers, meanwhile, turn their attention for the Imbolc ball to be hosted the following evening…

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Session 6

While enroute to confer in another Chancel, word comes from Croatoan that a decision has been reached – they must bring a space elevator into being.

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Session 5
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Session 4
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Festivus Interruptus
A masqued celebration of Powers is crashed not once, but twice

The Familia makes plans for the upcoming Samhaine ball, one of the four festivals held at the corners of the year. As it is Halloween, it is traditional to come costumed in the guise of something you hate. Secret Knowledge comes as a schoolgirl, Texas as a New York carpetbagger, Hope as a militant neo-Klansman, Entropy as a ???, and Apocalypse as Dan Jenkins (author of the Left Behind novels).

Croatoan gives them but a brief looking over and leaves to join the Imperator party, hosted by Lord Entropy itself. The Familia enters through the smaller but no less impressive Nobles’ entrance, and a dizzying array of social displays ensue. This is Hope’s first social function since being invested, and he endures a steady stream of introductions and veiled statements with ablomb. Apocalypse heads off to find his old poker buddies (War, Famine, Conquest, and Death, with Famine tagging along). Entropy however, with Secret Knowledge and Texas in tow, discovers a remarkable art display with her calling card.

The display is a window onlooking the hospital room of a certain prominent Senator, recently revealed to have been grappling with terminal cancer for some time now. Arrayed in the room as a bit of decollage are news clippings and the drone CNN in the background, all expounding upon how this secret completely undermines all the work the senator has been doing for quite some time, mostly notably his stance on nuclear non-proliferation.

Entropy is impressed, but disavows any hand in this. Apocalypse learns of this display over table chatter in the poker room, and is disgusted as this particular bit of art hits a little too close to home. Shortly after, a herald is granted entrance to the party – another Anchor of Least Ember, falling apart as always with green fire in her eyes. She proclaims the exhibit as a gift to Entropy, recompense for the mercy and restraint she showed during the recent confrontation in Iran. Entropy accepts, choosing her words carefully so not as to appear either indebted to this Excrucian shard or (worse) a sympathizer. The message having been delivered, the Anchor collapses in a pile of distorted flesh. Apocalypse and Entropy brainstorm briefly on the potential this Senator has, and Entropy grants Apocalypse permission to “deal” with his condition. He then heads off in search of Pestilience (currently playing his seat at the poker table) in search of a one-year Miraculous remission of cancer.

Meanwhile, Hope is engaged in a conversation with several powers of both Hell and the Dark regarding whether Hope has any place in Hell. The Power of Consumption delivers an anecdote about the world of Saxa-Royant, which found its cities besieged by entities known as the Devourers in its final days. The moment at which Hope was rescued by Croatoan (and, by finding refuge with a True God, became a concept exclusive to Earth), all the scientists abandoned their Great Work (an attempt to weave light into an impermeable shield against the enemy) and simply laid down awaiting death. Fortunately, Consumption continues, the Devourers are starch allies against the Excrucians, and she happens to be on good terms with them. She offers to inquire whether any of the focusing lenses being developed survived the end days of Saxa-Royant.

And with that, Consumption begins to become…incoherent. Pieces of her start to phase in an out, moving ahead or behind her personal timestream. Eventually, her physical form begins to unravel, each fragment of mass transmuting into a single, impossibly beautiful butterfly. Hope snatches one before it escapes, and is momentarily possessed of an overwhelming urge to attack the buffet with gusto. However, no diet surviving without a significant portion of hope, he masters the urge. By the end, Consumption is no more, and countless butterflys escape the room. Hope places his captive butterfly back in the Warehouse for analysis.

For which there is no better time than the present. The keen eyes of Texas reveal that the number of butterflies released is approximately equal to the number of beings on Earth. Thus, the Familia reaches the conclusion that Consumption has not been killed but rather…reapportioned, each person receiving an equal share of the Domain. An unheard-of and therefore disturbing development.

Of which there is no shortage. The party is brought to an unsettling conclusion as a massive chain, sized to hold something truly gargantuan, crashes into the Chancel. None is harmed, save the celebratory mood. Cursory examination reveals little of use, and all eyes turn to the door behind which the Imperators are engaged in relations of their own….

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Session 3
A Very Polite Throw-Down

November 23, 2009

The Familia travels to Iran, and discovers that a secret nuclear enrichment facility has been built directly on top of the gates to Hell. Secret Knowledge further reveals that there are layers of mortal subterfuge – the purpose of the site is not just to enrich uranium, but to do so using eldrich alchemical means.

Clearly this won’t do. Led by the Powers of Texas and Hope in disguise, the Familia infiltrates the site and eventually comes face to face with the lead scientists’s personal assistant, whom the Sight reveals to be an Excrucian shard. He greets the familia with a certain formality and introduces himself as Least Ember.

Negotiations ensue; Entropy halts the rapid decay of the lead scientist as a favor and show of good faith. This buys the rest of the Familia time to come to an arrangement. Least Ember is offered the chance to save his own skin if he gives up the facility without a fight. He accepts the offer, being faced with five Nobles including one of truly impressive Aspect and two very dangerous Domains. He counteroffers to get his Anchor/key back, and the Familia (having nothing better to do with it) trades it to guarantee the survival of the lead scientist. The terms having been settled, Least Ember takes the key (and its holding box) in his position and leaves forthwith.

Destruction and desolation follow. Apocalypse triggers the meltdown failsafe, forcing an evacuation of the facility of all mortal personell – a brief digression ensues regarding the definition of “innocence” in the context of a bomb factory, but the decision is make in favor of not burying them all in a radioactive grave. Apocalypse descend to the reactor core of the facility, and finds alchemy and atomics used in equal measure. He assumes the guise of Ahriman and summons forth Zahak. The dragon is given amended marching orders – treat as enemy the next person who arrives bearing the key (a precaution against Least Ember’s return). As a bit of entirely superfluous vengeance, the forgotten king who was transformed into Zahak is given the chance for parole, if he hunts and consumes the base’s political officer. A black Mercedes outside just happens to be crushed in an onrush of flaming debris, and thus one monster is replaced by another. The gates to Hell are sealed shut once more, and Entropy claims what remains of the facility in a final wave of dust and violence.

The Familia returns to Warehouse 23 with the good doctor in tow. While his current research into the creation of a Green Lion is a dead-end (it requires Excrucian energies as a catalyst), the imminent collapse of his physical form is arrested and he finds himself with a small research grant and place to live out his remaining days.

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