Wednesday, January 15, 2020

A Little Fishing Trip

GlenMac had the students early Saturday before school started; Alistair couldn't make it, but Will, James, and Priya were present. As they helped him load equipment, he reminded them of the history of the "Lantern of the Deep", and how it came to be located - as far as he knew - in Martin Creek Lake. He described the artifact as a simple bulls-eye lantern made from blue-tinted glass. Feeling bad for bringing them back to school early, he offered some "directed study" credit - worth a +1 Academics on the next exam.

The January air was cool, but the lake was quite warm, almost bathtub temperature, due to the nearby power station. As they arrived in GlennMac's car (pulling a small boat behind it), the park ranger on duty gave a word of caution - a gator or two had been spotted in the lake, and he hadn't gotten a chance to haul the beasties off. "Just keep your eyes peeled."

Once the boat was launched, GlenMac steered it near the power station and began dropping buoys in a grid. Maybe it was the fog, maybe it was the threat of gators, maybe it was the harshly-lit power station, or maybe it was the overcast skies and the strangely calm lake, but something puts everyone on edge. After a few tips on underwater safety and how to do a grid search, the students drop into the water. Priya and Will make it look easy, but James got a bit of water in his mask. No big deal, just annoying...

The water was dark and murky; visibility is barely a yard. Near the bottom, very little light filters down. Slowly, the trio searched the silty lake. After several minutes of searching, Will caught sight of something - an alligator! He fended off its first attack, but the next bite ripped up his arm! Priya, hearing the disturbance through the water, quickly surfaced, located the fight, and swam quickly to assist. James eventually heard the commotion and joined as well. Together, the three managed to spear the gator to death.

That threat dealt with, the three returned to searching for the lantern. Priya received a vision of a slimy, silt-covered creature, locked in watery combat, the lantern in its grasp, and something silvery around its neck. Not long afterward, James saw a feeble blue glow, hidden in silt; reaching for it, he was startled by a hand reaching up out of the mud! A creature, man-shaped, its clothes and features covered in silt and mud. James immediately grappled the creature's arm, pulling on the lantern and keeping his foot in the thing's face. The two battled back and forth, the creature trying to shake him off, and James hanging on with dogged determination, trying to whack the creature hard enough to make it let go of the lantern. Will and Priya found the two, and joined in, slashing at the creature with their spears. Every blow they landed seemed to heal itself almost immediately, until Priya managed to land a blow on the creature's arm. Its grip weakened on the lantern, and James pulled free. Priya, remembering her vision, grabbed for the locket as the creature fell back to the lake floor, nothing but silt and sludge.

The lantern suddenly freed, James felt a sudden gust of wind, and found himself staring out across the lake, a young man sitting in a boat nearby. He recognized the man from the photo the group found - Rodya, the third man in the photo!

Rodya was holding a lantern - The lantern, in fact. Another man stands on the shore, holding a gun. He called out; for some reason, James knew it was Russian, yet could understand it: "Rodya! What are you doing? You are throwing away your life for these... Americanski! These capitalist idiots! Don't you understand, the Motherland needs power like what you are holding!"
Over the deadly calm, Rodya calls back, "Maksim, the power you chase ends only in death! USSR, Communism, me, you... everyone. This I have seen! And so, I will protect the Lantern - from you, and anyone else who wishes to use it for power!"
With that, he spread his arms; the Lantern began glowing brightly, and Rodya leaned back, falling off the boat and sinking beneath the waves. Maksim tried to run forward, but was stopped by an invisible barrier. Cursing, he slammed his hands against it, causing it to flash blue momentarily, then with a scream of anger, spun on his heel and fled. Rodya, protected and enhanced by the Lantern, sank into the lake, deep into the dark silt at the bottom.

A heartbeat later, James watched the revenant turn to muddy silt and slip back into the water. Even its tattered clothes faded to mud and vanished. Together, the three swam back to the boat, handing the lantern to GlenMac, who placed it in a padded case.

The locket Priya found contained a single photograph - somehow protected from the water - of Rodya kneeling beside a young, smiling Monica Dragic.

Though GlenMac asked a few questions on the way back, he saw the students were rather pensive, and the conversation eventually died out. Just as they were nearing town, everyone's phones suddenly began beeping, buzzing, and vibrating - an Amber alert. Glancing down to turn it off, the intrepid heroes realized it was actually in Longview, TX! A 10-year-old girl named Dawn Ramirez had gone missing from a nearby school...

Thursday, December 5, 2019

A Tale of Two Curses

The next morning, Alistair happened to catch sight of the News Journal's front page: a known drug dealer - specifically, the same that worked for the Ring, and sold Alistair some drugs (a drug? One drug? It was only a single dose) - was pulled from his parked car and beaten. The police labeled the attack as drug gang violence, despite the stash being destroyed rather than stolen. There was a handwritten note left on their hood claiming "the Lord's retribution."

That evening, the group joined the Sword of Adam at the prearranged meeting place. Dan, the leader, introduced himself; the others seemed much more at ease, talking and laughing. Dan handed out masks, and told everyone that they were heading for the 'mushroom building'. Once inside, they found a group of four co-eds in the middle of a ritual! The Sword of Adam smashed the various items involved, and began harassing the women. Alistair recognized the ritual as a simple knowledge spell - basically, the same one he had. The women were planning on cheating on a test...

The group balked when Dan ordered everyone to attack the women. Dan spat back, "Are you kidding me? They're witches - real, evil, and utterly corrupt! Get them!"

The other members of the Sword of Adam attacked the women, cornering them; the study group (we really need a name for you guys) split, half slowing down Dan, and the other half assisting the young women. The attackers went down quickly, but Dan was out for blood. After a rather drawn-out fight, the rest of the Sword of Adam were put down, and Dan was knocked unconscious. Priya spotted his necklace again, and using some tongs, yanked it off his neck. After a little discussion, the group smashed the talisman, destroying the curse.

Gradually coming to, Dan realized just how wrong his actions were, and swore to rectify his actions. In fact, in the coming weeks, he dropped his engineering major in favor of theology, and became a strong campus advocate for peaceful dialog.

During Dead Week, one Professor Henry Jones contacted the group. Knowing they had some talent with the supernatural, he asked that they act as expert witnesses, and back up his story to a potential client, purchasing one Book of Tassqaa. The story he told them went like this:

A book was discovered by a professor of history and acheology, Dr. Havier, hidden within an Arabian desert dig: the Book of Tasqaa. It was recovered with a handful of other artifacts; while the workers at the dig didn't seem to mind the artifacts, the book upset them greatly. They warned the doctor against so much as opening it, let alone reading it. Nonetheless, he dared read the book; he took it to his tent, and poured over the pages. That very night, the crew heard the screams of Dr. Havier; they rushed to his tent to find... nothing. The side of the tent was ripped open, and Dr. Havier was gone. The crew refused to continue work unless the book was returned or destroyed.

Dr. Havier's assistant, Mr. Belack, took the book back to the States, to Boston University. He, too, was warned not to read the book, and for a while he listened. Eventually, however, his curiosity got the better of him, and he decided to read the book. The next morning, another professor came to use the room he was in, and found it locked; eventually, they had to force the door, where they discovered... no one. The book was on the desk, closed; not a trace of Mr. Belack was ever seen again.

The book stayed in the possession of the University for over a decade. During a recent cleaning and renovation, the book was sold, along with many other objects. Dr. Henry happened to be visiting, and purchased the book with his own funds. Unlike the others, he was unwilling to read the book; he understood its dangers.

That said, he had a buyer - a collector from Washington - and Dr. Henry was afraid that he was going to read the book. The visitor was expected the following day, at noon.

Alistair argued strongly against selling the book, suspecting it to be highly dangerous, but Dr. Henry was quite adamant that he would sell it. Finally, unable to convince the man that it was too dangerous to sell, the group relented, and agreed to meet him at an office in the bank building downtown.

The next day, just as the group arrived, there was a terrible crash of a window shattering! Upstairs, they found Dr. Jones and a secretary standing by the door to an office; inside, a chair was tipped over, and the window was broken, the glass fallen outside... but no body.

Alistair railed against the stupidity of allowing someone access to the book at all, eventually pulling a gun on Dr. Jones. He explained that his secretary had buzzed in Mr. Ihkterah, who had spoken with Dr. Henry for a few minutes, then asked for a bottle of water; he turned to grab one, and the man had grabbed the book, opened it, and in an instant was thrown bodily out the window! He muttered, "He was just... but where did he go?"

There was no body outside, obviously; just the broken window. Seemingly, the man had vanished into thin air. Alistair tried reading the book's past, and discerned the origin of the book - or at least a man's hand making it. Priya, sighing heavily, said she didn't really believe in any of that nonsense anyway, and she was going to read the book. She opened it up... and it was blank. Nothing happened to her. Turning, they found Dr. Henry had carefully slipped away; following him to the elevator, they recognized the ring on his finger as the ring on the finger of the man that made the book! As it turned out, the professor had just invented a story, hoping the danger and intrigue would be enough to fetch a high price for the worthless book he had created. Dr. Havier, Mr. Belack, and especially Mr. Ihkterah never existed.

And with that, it was finals. A little extra work was required, but no one failed. Next semester was shaping up to be something rough, though...

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Did Someone Say Crusade?

After the bloody conclusion of the BlueStar cult, our intrepid "heroes" managed a decent night's sleep, with no further complications... Apart from Alistair, who ended up with the Bloodthirsty hindrance.

The next morning, the news informed them of the death count (21) and the fact that the FBI, the Texas Rangers, and the ATF were involved. Michele, having checked where Alistair was, demanded to know what happened; he told her a somewhat clean version. He also called Kit, their FBI buddy, and explained what happened. Kit promised to keep things under his hat for the time being, especially since he was sure there were shape changers, and had recovered pieces of the shattered staff. Finally, he confessed to his priest, who is beginning to wonder if he is actually just crazy.

Meanwhile, it was midterms! With his injuries, Alistair was sadly unable to pass all his exams; the others managed to pass, barely. Or with ease, in Will's case...

Not long afterward, they visited a job fair, and meet a tall, thin man, dressed in black, with some... Odd mannerisms. Especially since he said that it was a pleasure to meet the group "in person." He handed them a card with a little symbol on the back, something like a crop circle, and his name and number: Agent Peregrine Cycle, 1-575-624-6754#AA56. A little research turned up nothing for the symbol, but the number turned up a website - this website, actually. The City of Roswell, NM's Safety Department's website. An excerpt:

  • Manages safety related activities within the city departments and the interpretation of state and federal policies and standards as they apply to city operations.
  • Develops, implements and coordinates safety and loss prevention programs and principals.
  • Maintains records related to injuries and incidents for all departments and prepares reports and analysis of injury incidents to departments and state/federal agencies.
  • Identifies hazards or hazardous conditions and assists in elimination of those conditions to protect employees and the public.
  • Conducts inspections of facilities, presents reports of conditions and recommends corrective actions.
  • Conducts investigation of general liability claims and processes those claims locally or with insurance agencies.
After they moved on, they spied the man leaving after speaking with the military recruiters. Strange...

Alistair, irritated with his frequent injuries and desiring something to avoid the downsides, began looking for a more, er, medical solution; he made contact with the Greek St. drug dealer - the same fellow who had been working with the Ring - and after deciding against buying meth, purchased a single tablet of a drug called Captagon, intending to run some tests on it.

A few weeks later, they were heading back from a study session when they heard a scream - a trio of imps were harassing some students! The group charged forward, and the imps turned to fight them. Halfway through the fight, three guys with ski masks and baseball bats charged in to help; afterward, their leader explained that they were the Sword of Adam, there to protect the campus from the increasing threat of evil. While it was the first time they fought "demons", they had already taken on other threats to the campus, like an armed bike thief and a pair of vehicle thieves. They invited the group to join them on their next night of driving off evil-doers - they had something big planned.

That night, Alistair (with the help of Priya) created four vials of "holier water" to use.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

The Legend of Sleepy Hellhole

Dr. Macalahan called with a new "quest" for the group: finding the long-lost "Lantern of the Deep."

"I've been doing some research into local history, and I found something odd. Not long ago, there was a talisman brought from Ireland, called the 'Lantern of the Deep.' It was brought to Texas by an immigrant family, and kept in one of the businesses in the city of Harmony Hill - now non-existent. The city started failing in the 1870s, but was well and truly destroyed when a tornado flattened most of it in 1906. After which, by the way, news of the lantern simply stopped. However, recently unearthed information suggests to me that the Lantern of the Deep has returned to its watery home - or at least a watery home. I suspect it was at first merely lost - or hidden - but when Martin Lake was flooded in 1976, it was covered as well. The lantern has a - sadly unspecified - curse, but from what I can tell, great tragedy follows it. Which is why I'd like for you to see if you can find it, before some poor fisherman snags it, and ends up calling another tornado or something."

However, the work likely would require a good amount of underwater work; he offered to help them get into a SCUBA class. Still needing a phys-ed class, the group decided to go ahead and get trained, first.

About a week later, early Friday morning, while walking to class, Priya heard someone talking about how they had missed Chemistry, because the professor hadn't shown up. Will and Alistair also overheard the news; by lunch time, the professor had missed several classes, and a sub was called in for his last afternoon class. No one seemed to know where he was, so the students decided to go investigate. After dropping in at the library and finding the professor's home address, they paid a visit.

Unfortunately, no one was home - and the front door was unlocked. Inside, the house was trashed; they found blood in the hall. Outside, they found footprints leading away from the house to an alley, and under a bush, a scrap of paper - a map! It lead them about 20 minutes south of town, off the main road and onto a dirt track, mostly used by oil company vehicles.

On the way, Alistair got a phone call from his overprotective parents - they were in town! He managed to convince them he wouldn't be back for 40 minutes or so... though didn't stop to consider that they would spend those 40 minutes talking with his annoying roommate and Michele, his girlfriend...

There, Priya, Will, and Alistair found a large number of people dressed in dark red robes, chanting, dancing around a bonfire... and the missing professor dead, tied to a table. As they watched, one of the cultists lifted a staff over his head; another cultist stepped forward, removing the robe she was wearing - and leaving her entirely nude. The first cultist touched the staff to the bloody corpse of the professor, then touched the bloody end of staff to the naked cultist. Almost immediately, she fell to the ground, her mouth hanging open, drooling onto the ground; she shuddered, writhing inhumanly, as her body sprouted hair, and her arms and legs thinned and shortened, while her torso elongated. She turned her head upwards, her eyes blank and staring, and with a final shudder, completed her transformation into a huge jaguar!

The cultists went wild, cheering and chanting. Alistair, hoping to bring down the leader, crept to the edge of the firelight and took a shot at the leader with the staff, hitting him in the head, and dropping him almost instantly! The cultists, hearing the gunshot and seeing the muzzle flash, turned and started running towards Alistair, who charged back up the hill to flee the crowd. The jaguar bolted forward, catching up with him just as he reached the hill, though only scratching his body armor. Priya swung her new spear at the jaguar, and Will stepped forward, undecided at the moment what to do.

Just behind the jaguar were a horde of cultists; almost immediately, half a dozen cultists surrounded the college students... but between Priya's slicing spear and Will's new katana, they mowed through the cultists like a weed whacker through dry grass. A few well-placed cuts dropped the jaguar... but not before the person with the staff, below, managed to heal it once or twice.

As the cultists on top of the hill fought, the cultists at the bottom of the hill continued their ritual. A cultist was killed, and his blood used to touch another recently-disrobed cultist. The man staggered backward, pulling his arms in towards his chest; he shook and twitched, moaning, then with a horrible, wet, tearing sound, ripped the flesh from his body, revealing a man-sized bat, its wings ending in wicked claws!

Next, another man was transformed into a raging were-ape; then a woman was turned into a were-owl. One after the other, however, the creatures were cut down or shot; the staff-wielder, now a tall blonde woman, was unable to heal them quickly enough. A well-placed shot from Alistair killed her, too.

Will and Priya charged down the hill, cutting down the next staff-bearer, then focusing on the were-ape. At this point, only 6 cultists remained; one slipped off to help the man with the head wound escape, leaving 5. Those five slipped and fell in the blood and mud, unable to grab the staff. The instant one of them did, he got a spear tip in the back of his head for his troubles. The next managed to whack a fellow cultist, transforming him into a werewolf, just as the were-ape fell dead. And with a swing of his blade, Will split the staff in two, and killed the cultist as well.

The staff sparked with red electricity as the decorative head exploded into fragments; almost immediately, the werewolf returned to human form.

Alistair, meanwhile, chased after the two escaping cultists; he reached them as they dove into the nearest car, and managed to shoot out a wheel before they escaped. He returned to the bonfire, where Will and Priya were interrogating the three surviving cultists... and when he realized they had no information to give, gunned them down in cold blood!

Realizing they were standing in a field of corpses, dripping in blood and filth, the three students quickly found some non-blood-soaked robes (those discarded by the first three were-creatures), and tossed their own clothing into the fire. Alistair drove them to the Sabine, where they washed off... or rather, traded the blood and mud for plain ol' mud. He called James, who brought them all a change of clothes (if a little ill-fitting), and they quickly made their way back to campus.

While Priya and Will were each able to get a showed and fresh clothes, and fall immediately into bed... Alistair arrived home to find his parents waiting for him.

Lucky for Alistair, his girlfriend didn't exactly get along with them. She played nice, but as soon as he was home (somewhat bedraggled, but at least not dripping in blood), she immediately jumped to his defense: "Oh, sweetheart, you look so tired out! Why don't you go get a shower? We can wait!"
She immediately turned to his parents and explained, "Like I told you earlier, Alistair is so helpful, always helping people out with things. He's been helping a friend clear out his, uh, backyard. I'm sure he's absolutely bushed."

After what may well have been the most comfortable shower of his entire life, Alistair had only to spend a few minutes with his parents before Michele shooed them away, and told him to go to bed.

All three were asleep before their heads hit the pillow... but what of their dreams?

As a note, here... there is definitely an ongoing investigation into the deaths of 21 cultists. Detective Morris of the Longview PD was called in by the Gregg County Sheriff's department, as well as the FBI and the ATF... Here's hoping you don't all go to jail. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Gobsmacked

Real talk, people - the write-up will follow.

I enjoy being challenged by my players. I love when my players come up with something I didn't think of, or try a route I hadn't considered. I adore surprises. I am not an easy GM to derail...

But then there was tonight. I... I am shell-shocked right now. Gobsmacked. Absolutely floored.

I expected one of two outcomes: either the gang would go all-out in destroying the staff, making sacrifices to destroy it, at which point the cultists would leave angrily, their plans foiled - or even be held in a stalemate until the cops arrived, and be arrested... Or, the gang would see that they were outnumbered, and would quietly gather some evidence, then sneak away and get help from the police, from their mentor, from the FBI guy, from old friends (zombie guy's brother, the professor they know can control bugs, Cryptid Underground, Lurk Until Dawn, the list goes on), even from other classmates (ROTC, anyone?) or heck, the Russians, that weirdo owes them a favor for saving his life, right?

But no.

Oh no.

Oh Hell no.

After the failed assassination attempt, the gang proceeded to kill every last cultist. All of them. The three that survived long enough to surrender? Shot dead. And then, a complicated attempt at covering their tracks, complete with throwing a gun in a bonfire, burning their clothes and donning cultist robes, and getting their team mate to bring them new clothing... All before showing up on campus.

Before I can even close out this adventure, I need to make a bunch of rolls to determine just how the police react to the scene... Because they showed up about five minutes after the gang left. I honestly don't know if the gang is going to stay out of jail. It's up to the dice.

I'm still reeling from the outcome; this has wide reaching results that have literally detailed the campaign.

And I'm loving it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

A Bug's Life

Early one Monday morning, Alistair and Will were on their way to a class when they heard a scream from the office area; making their way there, they found a secretary standing at an open doorway, staring in horror at the body of Entomology professor Dr. Lyle Canton - covered in hundreds of insect bites and stings. A quick search of the office revealed nothing more than the few insects the professor kept in plastic terrariums. The professor appeared to have died Saturday. The door was previously locked, and there was no sign of forced entry (or exit) - nor signs of bugs.

Remembering Johnny Chafe, the group went to interrogate "bug boy". After some pressing questions, he revealed that his notebook was likely stolen. He had an alibi for the weekend, too, which helped the students believe him.

Back to Glaske, they asked around and discovered that Dr. Sheila West and a graduate student, Eddie Ruiz, didn't show up for class that day. A little more investigation revealed the professor's address; that afternoon, the students headed over. They found a beat up economy sedan in the driveway, but got no answer from knocking on the door. Realizing the neighbor across the street was snooping on them, they trooped over, and after convincing her they were not selling anything, asked about the professor. The woman pulled out the notebook she kept notes on the comings and goings of everyone in the neighborhood, and pointed out that the car's owner had showed up early Saturday, and hadn't left.

The group thanked her, then vaulted the fence into the back yard; Will picked the lock on the fence, and James quickly grabbed his tools from his truck. After picking the back door lock, Will and James headed inside. James flung open the mudroom door, and instantly had to dodge a swarm of flying and crawling insects, ending up shaken from the experience. The others were slightly farther back, and managed to get through the insect onslaught unscathed. Alistair rushed inside, and fired off the a circle of protection from insects he had prepared; most of the bugs were forced away, and fled. Eddie, now looking more like the main character from The Fly, screeched, calling two giant swarms of insects - one of creepy-crawlies, and one of wasps and other fliers. He stepped forward, ignoring the protection circle entirely, and struck at Alistair, thankfully doing very little against his body armor. Alistair was quickly joined by the others, who shot, bashed, whacked, and tazed the big bug-man (though the tazer seemed to have no effect). Will narrowly avoided certain doom (by burning a black chip!), while James took a few good thwacks. The flying insects didn't manage to get through the barrier, but the crawling insects did, though the heavy clothes of the students protected them from the bites and stings.

Having killed Eddie - or what was left of him, he was mostly bug at that point - James and Alistair, uh, ripped off his arms and fashioned them into melee weapons. Because of course they did.

After desecrating the corpse, the students broke open the cocoon Eddie had been watching, and found Dr. West! She was unconscious; after a bit of cleanup, the students called the police and an ambulance. After answering some questions, they headed over to Eddie's apartment, and ransacked the place, finding the notebook in the process. It seems Eddie had modified the formula, splicing DNA to make the liquid injectable; the process didn't seem to work well for him, however.

Two days later, she regained consciousness, and seemed perfectly fine - though Alistair followed her around a bit, and realized that she could control bugs, too. Filing that away in "useful information to have," the group left her to her own devices.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

A Series Of Magic Tubes

Before the semester started, Matt Meranda and Ariel Summers (both Burn survivors) started dating; Matt, however, became obsessed with the strange phenomena of the Burn; just before the semester started, he had a little too much to drink, and mentioned that he could see "magic pipes" running all over campus, due to some concoction he found online. He insisted on driving home; however, he wrecked his vehicle...

Not long afterwards, the group heard Dr. Harry Wells telling his friend Dr. Jeong Yi that he found something - a nanomachine, trapped in a block of glass! His analog electron scanning microscope caught a picture of it. Stranger, he said, was the fact that the school's microscope couldn't see it. He could even find the objects around the nanotechnology, but it wasn't there. He took it back home and looked again, and there it was, plain as day! He handed his friend a couple printouts he had made - one picture with the nanotech, one without. Excitedly, he pointed out exactly what surrounded the tiny machine. It couldn't just vanish; so where did it go? His theory was that it was somehow cloaked - hidden from the digital electron microscope, but visible to the old analog scope.

As he left the cafeteria, a black sedan pulled up, and a thin, bald man in a dark suit stepped out. After a moment of conversation, Dr. Wells, of his own volition, climbed into the back seat with the man.

At the same time, Derek Ward caught up with the gang and asked them to check on Ariel. He told them that Matt's vehicle was found totaled, but no Matt inside... just blood. Police suspected he tried to get out and get help, and died in the woods. Ariel locked herself in her apartment and wouldn't come out.

Visiting Ariel turned up a pile of occult books, specifically about ley lines; she seemed to firmly believe that Matt was wandering the woods: "Just wait. I promise you he will show up in another day or two alive and well." Although she seemed to be hiding something, they weren't able to figure out what - and she wouldn't let them take the books.

Back at Mary Lynn's bookstore, they studied the map of ley lines from the decades previous; perhaps there was something there? There wasn't anything to find at the scene of the accident... Crayton's Compendium turned up some information on ley lines, and mention a ritual, True Seeing, that reveals them. Alistair opted for the slightly more expensive version, and bought the same stuff Matt did, following a link Matt had written in the margin of one of the books.

The next morning, the student newspaper came out with details on the crash - the wrecked car was certainly not "walk away" material. It was wrapped around a tree, and every window was smashed. Meanwhile, Dr. Wells' case turns up a letter, supposedly from him, saying there was a "sudden family emergency"... of course, Dr. Wells is estranged from his father, and has no other family, which Dr. Yi is happy to point out. In the lab, the man in black carted away the electron microscope, flashing a Secret Service badge and stating that they removed dangerous, unregistered equipment from his lab; the university doesn't fight it, as that is technically true.

At Dr. Wells' house, the group found his electron scanning microscope in the basement, and the tiny slice of glass with the supposed nanotech stuck in it; after a bit of discussion, they decided to leave it there, though they took his notes.

Alistair followed the ley lines he could see - nothing at Dr. Wells' house, but there were several on campus, with two of the larger ones on top of the education building - along with a flash of movement! While Alistair looked for a ritual to assist them, James took off, following his instincts... and not getting much of anywhere. Will, using a lockpick fashioned by Priya,
picked the lock on the roof door, and onto the roof. Ariel was there, holding a cheap steak knife, with a hasty bandage on her arm; Matt was there as well. Well, his corpse... as fresh as it looked, he was very obviously dead. Ariel quickly waved them off, explaining how Matt was researching these teeny-tiny bugs, and how they could do all sorts of stuff, but they needed the right information to begin. "It's ok! Everything will be fine! Just... just stay back!"

Of course, they were having none of it, and whacked her over the head, knocking her out. And then Alistair saw the shadows spinning out from the two newly-joined ley lines... The creatures attacked, but the group was able to hold them off; Alistair tossed them the other vials, and quickly they applied the "ley line mist" to their eyes. Matt, meanwhile, began groaning and coughing...

Unfortunately, their weapons weren't damaging the creatures; Alistair, who could now see his Spirit Guardian, found it bodily shielding him from the wraith-like shadows. Hoping they were some kind of ghost, he grabbed a container of salt from his bag, and told Priya to pull out the one she was carrying. Priya dumped water on her, Will's, and James' weapons, then poured salt onto them, leaving a lovely crust. Together, they made short work of the shadows; Alistair, away from the group, tried dumping salt on Matt (which had no effect), then dumped two thirds of a container over a ghost - which destroyed it! Finally, they finished off the last of the shadow-wraiths. Ariel crawled over to Matt, who was moaning louder, as if in intense pain; quickly, they staunched the bloodflow and got him to a hospital.

A few days later, Matt's recovery is nothing short of miraculous; even so, he's still in a great deal of pain. He calls the group to the hospital, and asks that they not pass around the fact that, y'know, he was raised from the dead by nanotechnology. Alistair was quite adamant that it wasn't nanotech, but magic; he and Matt agreed to disagree on that point.

Meanwhile, Dr. Wells remained missing; Dr. Yi electred to take care of his home (which, thankfully, is paid for), and his plants.

The day after visiting Matt in the hospital, Will got a phone call:

"You don't know me, but I know you, Will, as well as your friends. Do not be alarmed; I am a friend. Furthermore, I know that you have recently discovered information on nanotechnology. Do not discuss this with anyone else. You may find that those you have already discussed this topic with will no longer remember. I will not interfere with you, as I believe you have an important role to play... but tread carefully. There are others who are... not as understanding as I am."