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Secret Worlds: Reboot write-ups

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I've returned to my Secret Worlds campaign. The original write-ups can be found here...




While I'm only running the game with two players this time, we did have a fun first adventure this past week.


These write ups are a *****, but they seemed to get positive response last time, so I'll see if I can keep 'em going. We are running bi-weekly at this point, so that is good. Unfortunately I'm also running a supers game as well... so I'll see if I have time to continue this.


Hope you enjoy... (most of these first posts are all intro stuff...)




Secret Worlds: Book 3 – After The Fall

Episode 1 – Brothers In Arms


Players: Joe – Damien McGregor

Eric – Hitoshi Ryu


1 year plus 3 days ago: FBI Headquarters, San Francisco Bureau. Interrogation Room 5B. Omar Stang sits on a simple metal chair in front of a simple metal table. Nothing else is in the room. He is in his shirt sleeves and his face betrays a level of exhaustion that 18 hours of questioning can bring. He looks up at the camera in the corner, knowing he is being watched, but settles himself and accepts the waiting. He doesn’t know what they need to know… Jones & Damien and the rest… they are gone. He might reveal some tidbit… something one of them said, but he is confident he knows nothing that can truly threaten professionals like that.


The exhaustion comes from realizing it all fell apart so quickly. Two years. Two years of collecting information and making contacts… staying under the radar of the government, of Briar Rose… most especially not drawing attention of the Grandmaster. Then in just a matter of days, everything he built came together and blew apart. His daughter is not one step closer to being rescued… this thought almost crushes him. He wills himself to think about what is possible… what he might do next… to not be lost in the despair he can feel creeping up from the cold pit in his stomach.


Then the office door opens and a new agent walks in. Nothing distinctive about his clothing… rumpled overcoat over a conservative gray suit… but the bearing of this man is different. Something about him reminds Stang of Terry. A solidity… an aggressive “go-forward” stance. His face though… that is more like Berkmann. Lean and hard, but with tight age lines and a depth to the eyes of someone who has been around a long time.


“I am Agent Skelter,” he says… simply standing there, not taking off his coat. “I have a few questions for you,” he continues in the same deep voice. Stang watches as Skelter walks over to stand beneath the recording camera and reaches up to unplug the video connection. The little red light blinks out, and for the first time Stang feels fear.


Skelter turns back to him. “We only have 3 minutes. They think I’m going to question you, and I will… just not here.” His hand comes out of his pocket with something silver in it. “Stand up,” he orders. Stang obeys without thought, rattling the handcuff and chain around his left wrist. “I need you to come with me, Mr. Stang,” says Skelter… and Stang remembers a brief conversation with this man some many weeks ago… and Berkmann’s warnings about this man. “Whether you believe me or not, I mean you no harm. You must come with me, if you ever hope to leave this place.” His hand reveals that it carries a silver handcuff key, which Agent Skelter uses to release the shackle. As it clatters to the table, he pulls a folded coat… a light weight summer jacket… and a baseball cap out from his own coat.


“Put these on and come with me. Do not say anything to anyone. Just follow me out of here. If you don’t agree, I will lose important information, but you will lose everything.” His words are straight forward and matter-of-fact, but Stang feels the assured danger like a punch in the gut. Omar reaches out and takes the coat, shrugging into it as he steps forward… “I hope you’ll explain things on the way,” he says… feeling a sense of possibility growing alongside the shard of fear.


Skelter simply opens the door and looks out into the hallway, then back, nodding that the coast is clear. “We’ll see,” is all he says and he ushers Stang out. The heavy door clicks shut behind them and all is silent in the empty room.


Thirty seconds later shadows fall across the frosted glass of the door. Two figures, one knocks heavily on the door. “Agent Skelter, please open the door. It is agents Schumaker and Palmer.” There is a pause as they wait for a response, then the male voice says, “Open it,” and the other shadow moves. There is the sound of a key in a lock, then the door swings open and a woman steps in… black business suit, severe face with purple bruising on one side. There is a man behind her, also in a dark suit, but his arm is in a sling and his chest is obviously bandaged. “No one here, Jeff,” says the woman turning back to him. “Is this the right room?” The man looks suddenly enraged, pushes in to look around then out again, working his way past her awkwardly in his bandages. “Damnit Palmer… where are they?” They both look at each other for a moment, then Agent Jeff Schumaker mutters, “****ing Skelter… how does he always know?” They both turn and begin hurrying back toward the main room. “Have them seal the building… maybe we can catch them still inside!” yells Schumaker… but there is a note of futility in his voice. “Like we’d get that lucky…” mutters Palmer.


Fade to black…

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Secret Worlds - Book 3 - Episode 1 cont'd


1 year ago: Deep night by the time the freighter finds the island. With the running lights off, the captain and crew using night vision goggles to navigate the inlet. It is unnerving to the passengers… those that pay attention. They shipped out 9 hours ago, and much of that time, Berkmann has worked to remove the bullet from Damien’s shoulder. It is an ugly wound, and the swordsman’s clavical is in pieces. Damien sleeps under heavy sedative and the tossing of the ship makes any invasive work difficult. The big Russian kid, Vincent, watches from across the cabin, a look of loss on his face.


Up on deck, Ryu & Jones stand in the dark as the ship passes under a dense canopy of foliage that is merely mottled blackness, blotting the stars. They trust the crew knows what it is doing, though Jones frets for a time. Then the boat comes around a bend to see the bright reflection of torches dotting a beach, illuminating a small village. Maybe a dozen small buildings built against a rocky cliff, maybe thirty people await them.


The ship pulls up close to the beach where the sandbars have been cleared… small boats approach and begin taking off cargo. Tazag asks Ryu’s help to carry Damien onto one boat… the man unconscious on a stretcher. Berkmann and Jones follow, and in minutes they are standing in the small village where the locals surround Tazag and his crew with familiarity, and steady conversation in Tagalog murmurs around them. They carry McGregor into a hut that was clearly set up as a kind of medical station. “We can care for him here,” says Tazag, then points over to another hut nearby, this one looking hastily constructed. “You can put your things there. We are safe here. My home away from home. Please make yourself as comfortable as you can. You may be here for a while.”

He leaves the group in the dark there, to go finish the offloading. Berkmann sighs and begins to prepare to finish working on Damien. Jones looks about forlornly and says, “I bet they don’t have a wireless internet connection here.”


Fade to black…


1 year less 2 days ago: The arm is a mess. Inflamed, swollen, the skin shows greenish dead tissue oozing with the pus and fluid of a deadly infection. Damien lies in the cool shade of the medical hut, his normally dark face pale and sweating. He mumbles and slurs in delirium as cool cloth and water is applied to his forehead.


“He is going to die without surgery,” says Tazag, staring worriedly over Berkmann’s shoulder.


“Not if I can help him,” says a quiet voice from the corner. Ryu steps into the light of the hanging halogens running off of a small generator out back. He has a simple, small bag in his hand. “You can cut him and drain the arm… but his body will have to drive out the infection. If I can strengthen him, I will. Please turn of the lights please.” Then he sits cross legged and pulls out two small incense burners, lighting a joss stick from a nearby torch. He then settles in above Damien’s head, placing the incense on either side of the ailing man. He places his fingers in and intricate pattern around McGregor’s skull and neck… then presses inward. There is a deep sigh from Damien, and his body seems to shudder and relax. “Cut him,” says Ryu, as Berkmann and a local woman look at each other, then pull a scalpel and slice into the rotting tissue.


1 year less 4 days ago: Ryu sits in darkness within the medical tent. The only light is the small red embers of the incense sticks… the heat and stink of diseased flesh is oppressive, but Ryu is elsewhere. Outside, Tazag speaks with Berkmann and villagers. “He should be dead,” he says. “He will die soon,” say others. “It is unfortunate,” says yet another. Ryu hears none of it. He simply flexes his arms and hands, then reaches down and places his fingers back on Damien… pressing in… his hands show strain though the rest of his body is relaxed.


“I have decided to keep this man alive,” says Ryu to himself. It is a pleasant thought. Not the idea that he can save Damien, but the idea that he has made a decision and committed to it… without anyone telling him what to do. That is a very new thing to Hitoshi Ryu, ex-Yakuza genin and trained assassin. “I have decided…” thinks Ryu… then slips into his trance and does what he can to feed the feeble pulse of life coming from Damien.


1 Year less 7 days: Berkmann and Jones have gone back to the cities. They needed to find out what is happening. Tazag says that while the authorities were quite concerned with a dozen dead Russians lying about Lucena, but seeing as they were all gangsters, and that the right information (and money) made it into the right hands… they were more than happy to round up the usual suspects in the matter. For Tazag and his people, they feel quite indebted to the group who so decisively blunted the Russian move into his territory. Now he simply hopes that Damien will live… though Ryu has only briefly left the cabin in the days he has been by his side. Clearly he is doing something to keep the man alive, but he doesn’t seem to be getting better. Every morning, the villagers check to see… and then money exchanges hands, as those that bet he would die during the night are pleasantly surprised to lose.


Vincent, while truly a fish out of water in this little village, has pitched right in to help with work… mending nets and boats and buildings… helping to haul or dig or do whatever is necessary. Some of the young women are more than a little smitten with the simple charms and exotic appearance… tall and blonde among the small and bronze.


That night, no one sees her arrive. There are no footsteps in the sand leading up to the cabin… nor is any boat seen or heard. Still, Ryu opens his eyes to find the woman in black… is she young… is she old… sitting across from him at Damien’s feet. Her face is wrapped in a black veil, but he catches a glimpse of the dark eyes that he could not leave behind when the demons came that night.


“Nor could this one…” she says, in response to his thoughts. “Both of you chose to stay and defend me, even at the cost of your lives. I can at least do what I can to help you now.” She raises one hand and blows a handful of dried herbs into a smoky torch. Immediately a rich, earthy scent fills the tent, wiping away and the stench of sweat and rot. Ryu feels his senses open and sharpen… energy flowing into him. He bows his eyes to the great master who sits across from him. “Together then,” she says in a voice young and beautiful and old and wise. “Let us bring him back.”


1 Year less 10 days: Mother Shell is gone. She left no mark or sign of her passage out than she did when she arrives. The villagers speak in whispers about the three days of her presence, but seem to accept that great things have come to their village. Ryu leaves the tent, and one of the women checks on Damien to find his fever broken and a hint of color coming back to his face. Money and laughs exchange hands as the last bets on his life are completed… all those who thought he still might die quite happy to be wrong.


“I learned much,” is all Ryu would say to Berkmann and Jones who have returned with food and supplies. He ignores Berkmann’s immediate questions and attempts to analyze what has happened, simply telling him to go make sure Damien doesn’t relapse.


Later, Berkmann and Jones tell of further complications. There was no contact with Terry, Dr. Cole, Omar Stang or any of Stang’s people. Stang though is a wanted fugitive, according to the FBI, but he is far down list from the top 10. “Somebody is working to keep things quiet on this,” says Berkmann, listing a dozen different conspiracy theories that might explain it. The most disturbing news is of the disappearance of Dr. Pruto, the man Berkmann was working with to investigate the nature of “Specials.” When Berkmann had returned to Manila he’d found Pruto’s office cleaned out. The man himself missing and even his house on the outskirts of the city empty and sold to an auction house. The man had lived his whole life in Manila and was suddenly gone, and no one knew anything about it, not even his extended family. Berkmann spent weeks riled up and theorizing before he and Jones left again. “I’ve got to get out there and dig deeper. We’ve lost ourselves for long enough out here. We need to find out what happened to everyone else.” Jones is only too happy for the chance to get back to civilization. Ryu simply shrugs and shakes his head. “I will stay here. We will meet again in the future.” Damien, weak and still barely able to walk has no choice but to stay as well. That night they share a last meal together prepared by Berkmann, then the ship leaves in the dark.


Today: He stands Hasso No Kamae with with arms extended outward, sword pommel at chin level. His bare torso is bronzed from the sun and sweat runs in rivulets over lean, cut muscles, dripping in spatters on the sand at his feet. There is no tremble in his arms, no dip in the blade whose tip hovers perfectly between two strands of a spider’s web, disturbing neither. Only the stark white scar tissue splashed across his deltoid that stands in stark relief to his tanned skin shows the wound he has struggled so long to overcome.


Finally he has achieved Ki Ken Tai Itchi It was long in coming. For weeks he could barely walk, no ability to even lift his mangled and emaciated arm. While he regained his balance and health, his strength was fickle at best. Early on, Ryu had worked with him, and to his shame he trained with a palm frond… barely able to grip it, let alone swing it about. More weeks went by as he slowly worked to regain control of a body that used to be perfectly mastered. His red hair grew out, proving to be died that color. It was replaced by jet black hair that quickly bleached in the sun to be streaked with gold highlights. Upon a return visit, Tazag was happy to see him up and recovering, but said he’d not thought Damien the same man if he didn’t know better.


Damien just kept working. Eventually he could hold an actual stick… then Tazag brought him a whiffle ball bat and later an actual bokken. Each step upward was a month of work.


Damien just kept working. Even after Ryu simply left, he continued to train… though many a spider-web paid the price for his unsteady hand. All the while, Damien only took out his katana to make sure it was oiled and rust free.


Only a month ago did he feel he was worthy to try and actually hold a blade again.


Now he stands… for how long? Minutes? An hour? The sand around him a scatter of footprints. Okuri-ashi. Ayumi-ashi. Hiraki-ashi. Then a perfect stance… spirit, sword and body as one. Ki Ken Tai Itchy.


There is someone behind him… someone not of the village. He knows, without looking. A deep, Filipino accented voice says, “You have stood for over an hour. You look to be healed.”


McGregor slowly retracts his arms turning with precision to face the voice while the sword rotates over and down into a perfect iado return without looking. The sword clacks home as Damien stares at the new comer. Short… maybe only five feet tall, but broad from shoulders to thighs. Deep dark skin, beefy… fat or muscle? The man’s hair is pulled back in a tight pony tail, wearing only a tank top and Bermuda shorts… feet bare.


“Yes, you look quite healed… but perfect Reigi does not make a warrior.” His arms come out and bring his hands around in a wide sweeping motion, coming together in front of him with a loud SLAP! “Let us see if you are worthy to server her,” he says again and drops into a deep horse stance and leans toward Damien with a smile.

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Secret Worlds - Book 3 - Episode 1 cont'd


Hitoshi Ryu. That is his name and each night in the dark when it was remotely safe, he said it over and over again in his mind.


He’d agreed to this. He’d had a choice, though he couldn’t imagine saying no to Mother Shell. A threat to the islands, a threat to her and those that server her. He’d agreed to protect her and could not say no when she asked. Damien was healing and progressing well. He didn’t need Ryu anymore.


Ryu just didn’t want to sacrifice himself… seeing that he’d only just found himself again. No Yakuza… no clans… no responsibility other than what he chose. Then the secrets he’d learned from Mother while healing Damien. He could not articulate them, but depths of knowledge had come to him in those long hot hours, swimming in the spirit realms. Berkmann would have said it was all a result of powerful psychotropics… and perhaps it was… but that didn’t mean it wasn’t profound. Hands that could kill could now truly heal. A sense of balance for the first time.


“I am Hitoshi Ryu,” he said again, lying on the smelling straw matt in the stinking fisherman’s hut. Around him the other dock workers muttered and snored and slept the sleep of the hungry and doomed.


Months it had taken him to reach this place. Months to get this close… this far up river. Months to become Pros. Pros the rice farmer. Pros the fish cleaner. Pros the rope hauler. Pros the dock loader. Pros the dock unloader.


Pros who had no home like all the rest on the Mekong River. Pros who simply worked and did what he was told and proved to be reliable and not a drunk like the others. Pros who spent months working his way up the river… Pros who didn’t care what was being hauled… animals, food, people, guns, drugs. Pros who was strong for his size and never complained


”I am Hitoshi Ryu,” he whispers again. Ryu cared about all these things. Ryu was here to find out the secrets of the vast organization. It had no name, but it came from here… Tonle Sap… deep in the center of Cambodia… just south of Angkor Wat… the ruins of the great Khmer empire of old. Now despite opening to world and a growing tourist trade… this was the seat of a new empire… and empire of drugs, death, slavery, greed and dark places where some people just disappeared. Even Ryu didn’t know where they went, and Pros learned very quickly never to ask about anyone who was suddenly not there.


He was close now. No one looked twice at Pros, but Ryu saw everything. Every western “business man” who came through on his fancy boats. Every shipping deal of guns or drugs or prostitutes that would head back down the river. This was the organization that was threatening Mother Shell… who had done more than any simple organized crime organization… who was likely responsible for the ritual killings of some of the more devout followers of the Mother.


There were plantations north of this big lake, Tonle Sap. Pros may have to disappear and Ryu come out fully some night… to go north and see these mansions where the important people went. Perhaps there, after all these month, Ryu might find some clue to the darker depths of this organization without a name.


Perhaps later, but as the sun began to rise, he realized that he would just be Pros today. Just be a man who did his job and was thankful for the rice and fish and beer and a place to sleep.


Unloading the boat is when he saw him. It was another big, fancy boat. This one, though… on this one were Chinese. The Cambodians deal with them, but it is not a friendly relationship. Still, here was a cadre of traditionally dressed bodyguards awaiting the return of their man from the mansions to the north. Ryu watched without looking as he was so good at doing, only mildly intrigued by this slightly new touch… until he saw him.


Small, wizened, bald but for a wisp of fringe and a slight beard, he still exuded massive power. Ryu only caught a glimpse of him as he stepped from a car into a cordon of his bodyguards as he returned to his boat. One glimpse was enough.


The Grandmaster.


A year ago, one man set into motion a series of events that led to this moment. Omar Stang brought together a group of people he called Specials… a group that had brought Ryu back to himself and given him a new chance at life. All that had fallen away in the chaos that ensued… but here he was. The Grandmaster, who had Stang’s daughter and was potentially one of the greatest criminal powers in the world. This man who was also somehow also connected to the threats toward Mother Shell.


It was another moment of balance for Ryu. Though this one was not as pleasant it was still as profound. Mother must know this. This is what he was to find out. He could now return to being Ryu and then figure out how he might help Mother against this man and perhaps reconnect to the loose ends left behind. Yes… this was good, he had seen the Grandmaster and could now report.


He just didn’t know that the Grandmaster had seen him as well.


(Holy crap... all that and we are really only just past the introduction. More later. Yeesh...)

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Re: Secret Worlds: Reboot write-ups


I have to say it is good to be back at this game. Just to give everyone an idea of the amount of work Neil puts into his games. All those posts were told to use in a story fashion before we rolled a die. Similar to the opening movie in a video game that sets the scene and tone for the whole thing. He didn't spruce up those posts for the web, the first 15-20 minutes of the game was story time. The switch from 6 players to 2 seemed to flow right together.


If you haven't read the previous Secret Worlds write-up I would reccommend it. You will get more backstory. (and it's a great read)


Stay tuned for more, Secret worlds. Featuring the toughest agent EVER.



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Secret Worlds - Book 3 - Ep 1 cont'd


While the beginning of the adventure was a lot of setup, it wasn't just me blabbing at these guys. Both of them had comments and insights that really fleshed out their characters. Joe made the joke about the villagers betting on whether Damien would die during the night, and that Damien would appreciate that. Eric was really into the idea of Ryu finding himself and how going deep cover would actually be more difficult for him now that he wasn't just a faceless tool, but that Hitoshi Ryu was really developing a sense of self. All of this played into the mood and tone of the game, as well as the players and characters really coming together. Here is where the action began...



Damien: “Ok then,” says McGregor… a smile cracking his face for the first time in a while. He’s not quite sure why the guy wants to fight, but the challenge energizes him in a way he hasn’t felt in some time.


Setting down his sword, McGregor shuffles forward in the sand, stretching his arms and settling into a casual boxing stance. The wide man shuffles himself forward as well, and Damien instinctively knows his opponent is a grappler. Stay away from the grab… use his reach and speed. Damien grins wider…


… and throws the worst punch ever. It is sloppy and swingy and sails over the shorter man’s head who rotated from his core, keeping his head of of reach while not giving up ground. The wide man’s face goes from placid to frowning… a clear indication of contempt for such inadequate skill. Looking to simply drop this poser quickly, he leans back in and follows with a heavy forearm smash toward Damien’s throat.


This time Damien is on the ball. Embarrassed by his mistake, his focus snaps into place and he cross blocks the tree trunk forearm, return striking immediately with a torso punch into the man’s wide side. It smack solidly. Definitely muscle, not fat. The wide man barely grunts as he moves in with his own follow up, sweeping his arms upward, trying to take McGregor at the crotch and waste for reverse over the back throw. Damien knows he can’t afford to fall into that grasp, instead kipping up with a powerful thrust of his legs to go over the shorter man’s left shoulder. Having lost nearly thirty pounds over the past year, Damien’s more wiry frame is lightning fast compared his opponent. He lands behind him and executes a perfect reverse side kick that impacts solidly between the wide man’s shoulder blades. The short man staggers and goes down on one knee as the air is knocked from his lungs.


That fast, and it is over. The blow doesn’t take the man down completely, but Damien is in control and he knows he has this fight. The man can’t match his speed; turning to find McGregor has actually pulled back from pressing the attack with a “Is that enough?” comment. His frown is gone replaced by a look of the impressed. The short man knows he has lost as well. Facing McGregor he bows to him with another loud slap of his hands. “Perhaps you are all that she says,” he admits gracefully.


“She?” asks McGregor.


“Mother Shell. She tells me you are healed and that you are ready. She says your brother is in danger. Your brother needs you.”


Damien simply stares. “Michael?” he asks, hesitantly.


“How in the world do these people know Michael?” he thinks.


Ryu: He may not have noticed the Grandmaster’s attention… but Ryu notices the men sent to get him almost immediately. Whatever whispered words had been given by the master, two of the robed bodyguards broke from the ranks and began to walk steadily from the shore to the rickety dock extended into the lake.


Ryu noticed, but Pros didn’t. Pros was just a simple worker who continued to unload the packing crates he’d been told to unload. Pros kept working as other dockhands began to notice the approaching guards and scatter away. Pros simple tossed another empty pallet on the stack and walked over to the bucket of drinking water nearby to get a cool drink in this oppressive heat. Pros was oblivious to the approaching threat.


Ryu saw it coming the whole time. The approaching guards had no big weapons, though they could easily have knives, rope weapons or even handguns under their silks. He decided not to even let them get the chance. Pros became Hitoshi Ryu with a simple pivot, grab and throw. A gas can, one of many used to refill the small outboard motors on the many small boats on the lake. A gas can arcs over his back spinning and flinging fuel everywhere, landing not three feet in front of the approaching guard drenching the old wood in petrol. Before the two can react with more than a startled jump at the crashing can, Ryu has flung the second half of his attack. A small hibachi with hot coals… a common enough item where the workers would cook their lunches and smoke their fish. This spills backward with another flick of Ryu’s wrist, the red hot coals sending a small shower of sparks across the dock.


WHUMPH! The dock is alight with a significant blaze, cutting off the guards from further approach. The two men are stunned at the sudden eruption, trying to look past it and see where their target is, while also trying to not be set on fire. Clearly the thugs had no insight into who Ryu was, for they are caught completely off guard. For many seconds they are bewildered and at a loss of what to do. More than enough time for Ryu.


Quickly he is into one of the dinged and dingy aluminum boats, firing up the outboard and jetting away from the docks. Shouts come from the shore line and Ryu can see many people start running, but he is mostly looking at the wide eyes of the other dock workers who stare after him in amazement at his sudden transformation. Men whose entire lives have been ground under the heal of one power or another… there is pure disbelief in seeing one of their own fight back.


Ryu simple accelerates away. The boat is simple and slow. It will not make for a good escape, but it can put distance between him and his immediate pursuers. They will be on him in five minutes, he is sure. Plenty of time to disappear.


At night, when Pros would sleep, Hitoshi Ryu would go to work. Ryu had been all over this shoreline of the lake. He knew where all the inlets were, the heavy foliage… where the guard stations were… where it was difficult if not impossible to take a boat, let alone a car. Within three minutes he was behind heavy silk trees and the boat was sinking beneath the surface. At four minutes, he was two hundred yard further south lying under dense palm leaves. At five minutes the first boats passed him in a slow sweep but never had a chance of seeing him. By that evening a full fledged search was on… even a helicopter was circling above… but the closest they came was when a boat pulled up several yards from him so the driver could take a leak.

When night came, he vanished completely.


(More later)

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Secret Worlds - Book 3 - Ep 1 cont'd


Damien: At the village, Damien pulls his few possessions together while the short, wide man assures him that he will be given supplies along the way. He is still quite confused though and asks, “What does Michael have to do with this? Why does he need my help?†This is further complicated by the man’s reference to Cambodia…


“Why is Michael in Cambodia?†exclaims Damien! Finally the two of them hash it out when the wide man speaks of “the genin.†“Ah!†says Damien. “The brother in arms kind of brother. I gotcha.†Where he’d been wondering if he needed to pack all his gear, now knowing that Ryu is the one needing help he sincerely begins to hope for a lot more than he has.


Then there is the question of Vincent. When he sees Damien packing up, the big Russian immediately asks what is happening. Damien can tell the kid does not want to go, but he also knows he could use another gun where he is going. Vincent would never ask to stay behind, though it is written all over his face that he hates the idea of leaving. If it wasn’t for his height and pale hair and skin, Vincent could pass for a complete native. After a year his Tagalog is effortless and he has easily adapted to the slow pace and simple life of the village. He is everyone’s big/little brother and at least three of the village girls share him amongst themselves.


Damien laughs to himself. “I wouldn’t want to leave that either,†as he watches the big kid talking to the suddenly upset women. One of them starts crying and McGregor starts to turn away when he notices the swell of the girl’s stomach. “She’s pregnant?†he asks out loud, realizing he’s probably the last one to have noticed this.


“Ok… no way, Vincent,†calls out Damien, walking over to the group. Inside he feels good to have found a reason to let the kid off the hook. “You stay here, big guy.†Vincent turns… startled… then sees McGregor smiling at the pregnant girl. “You aren’t going anywhere. You stay here. Take care of that little one on the way.†The look on Vincent’s face says everything… tinged with regret, but full of relief.


With that, the wide man bundles Damien down to a waiting surplus Zodiac. With a modified hard shell over the inflatable raft, it is a more stable, sea worthy craft, but “Uh… just how far away is Cambodia?†asks Damien, but the wide man simply says, “I will take you to Tazag. He has a helicopter,†then fires up the engine and the two leave the small village quickly behind.


Ryu: He simply walks. He made a dozen miles that night alone. Exceptional for a normal man, but routine for Ryu. Cambodia is not a big country; two hundred miles at most, from North to South, three hundred miles across. Heavy jungle covers much of the interior… and even the many roads and paths along the river it is easy to hide. The organization he fled may be large, but it never showed great sophistication. If he were a man who needed others to help him, who had to trust others to help him get out, he has no doubt he would be found… but a single man walking the back roads… who can become a rice farmer or a brick layer at a moments notice… one who’s mastery of the Khmer language is provincial… they simply can’t find him. Small villages dot the lake and river shore, and he moves among them without ever drawing attention to himself. Two days pass safely as he reaches the southern end of Tonle Sap, and that afternoon he actually takes a few hours to rest.


Damien: Meanwhile McGregor travels between a number of the small islands in the archipelago before the wide man drops him off on an unnamed dot on the western fringes. It has taken some hours to reach this place, and it is only the beginning of his journey. Awaiting him is Tazag, sitting playing cards with the pilot of a surplus (and modified) Sea King helicopter. The gunrunner happily claps Damien on the back, congratulating him on his health, but ushering him quickly aboard. In the large copter, Damien finds several bundles of supplies and a large crate of guns. “Well prepared!†cracks Tazag as he clambers on board himself and begins buckling up as the heavy roters begin to move. Damien begins to ask more questions, but Tazag merely points to a headset and radio and says “We will talk as we go. I will explain what I can!†His last words are lost in the wash of wind and sound from the rotating blades.


After liftoff, as the craft begins it’s tilted flight toward the setting sun, Tazag begins to talk over the radio. “It is good you are well and ready to take on this task!†he says. “We will travel due West for some time, but have to stop several times before we can get you inside the Cambodian border. Smuggler’s routes, as it were!†he says with a smile.


Damien counters with, “But I don’t get any of this! What is Ryu doing in Cambodia? Why is Mother Shell ordering helicopters to fly me all over? How the hell am I supposed to be able to even FIND Ryu?†Tazag starts to answer then stops and thinks for a moment. Finally he reaches into one of the bundles and pulls out a small electronics case and hands it to Damien.


“I will admit,†he says, “That this is very strange. Mother is, of course, inscrutable in her ways… but even this is new to me.†Damien opens the case and pulls out a top of the line GPS location device. He looks back at Tazag with puzzlement. “You got this from Mother Shell?â€


Tazag nods. “Through her people. It should locate Ryu to within a few meters, once his signal is activated.†Damien notices that the man looks uncomfortable, and asks why. After another moment, Tazag responds. “I don’t know where she would get such a thing. I have always been her… go-to guy as you might say?†He laughs half-heartedly. “Now she is asking me to setup this helicopter… and her people give me that… and I am as in the dark as you are.†There is silence between the two men.


“I trust her… and so should you,†says Tazag. “She helped to save you, as you promised to protect her. She is Mother Shell,†he finishes, as if that explains it all. Damien is not so sure of it all, but at least the tactical plan that Tazag lays out makes sense.


After a series of short hops, including a stop in Vietnam, the helicopter will cross over into Cambodia and drop Damien in the Prey Veng province, maybe twenty miles from Phnom Penh. “It is a different country these days. It is much more open… many tourists from the west. For now, the killing field days are past.†Damien is shown a good supply of basic tourist garb and bags, including a camera and tripod stand which can hold his sword. His main bag has numerous concealed pouches to hold some pistols and ammunition, and he has several hundred American dollars and a wad of Cambodian riel.


“In Prey Veng, you will meet a guide.†(Camera Scene shows the actual descent of the helicopter into the wide grassy fields and rice paddies, as Tazag’s voice overlays.) “He is young, but he knows what to do, and you can trust him.†(Camera shot from the descending helicopter showing a small boy, no older than ten, standing below, looking up and grinning into the wash of the roters.) “His name is Rangsey, and he will help guide you north.â€


Damien turns back to the Tazag before he leaves, and they both look at the GPS locator. They had turned it on a number of times during the daylong flight and layovers. There had been no signal. Now they try again, and still nothing…


… and then it beeps. A red dot that seems to indicate it is some seventy miles north on the overlaid map of Cambodia. “Hah! See my friend!†laughs Tazag with another big slap on Damien’s back. “Soon you will find your brother. When you do, return here. Call us on this!†He gives Damien one more box… inside a Sat-Phone sits. “We will be receiving every hour at ten minutes to the hour… for five minutes. Call us and we will come and get you!â€


(Ryu: At that moment, sitting quietly beneath a tree and nibbling a rice ball for breakfast, Ryu feels a twinge of something wrong. Almost like a bit of upset stomach… but different… simply a sense of something wrong that is centered beneath his chi… something in him that he only now notices… something that disrupts his sense of self. He takes long minutes meditating on the feeling and can’t quite figure out what it is, so he decides to carry on his journey… only for the first time since his escape, he feels uneasy.)


With that, Tazag gives the thumbs up to the pilot and the heavy backwash begins again as the copter lifts off into the morning sky. Damien is left standing in the open field next to Rangsey, who simply smiles up at him. When the copter disappears from view, Rangsey says, “Ok… we can go now. We will walk, get scooter… see the country side. You find my country to be very beautiful.†He smiles, laughing. “See… I am excellent tour guide!†Damien follows after him with a bemused, “How did I get into this?†look on his face.




Transition scene: Over the course of the next two days, a scene montage shows both Ryu and Damien making their ways. Ryu moving south. He seems free of pursuit, but does nothing to draw attention… an itinerant peasant heading south to the big city. Damien and Rangsey move north, a boy and his tourist. The pass Phnom Penh to the north, but Damien notices the juxtaposition of this country. Large modern cities and even wide highways heading out across the country side… while it takes no more than a mile walk away from that to be in a vast land of rolling hills, junge, rice paddies and villages that have existed that way for a thousand years. It is a beautiful country, though exceedingly hot. Unlike the islands, this is far enough inland that the constant cooling effects of the ocean are lost. Still, the two make their way unmolested by anything more than mosquitoes. Ryu is still mildly troubled by his sense of something inside him, but no ill effects occur and he continues on. Damien takes out the GPS locator from time to time, showing that he is still on track… and in fact the blinking red light is making even better time coming to him. It is a rather unremarkable journey for both… until end of the second day when the skies open up and the air becomes a wall of water.


(More later)

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Re: Secret Worlds - Book 3 - Ep 1 cont'd


While the beginning of the adventure was a lot of setup' date=' it wasn't just me blabbing at these guys. [/quote']


I meant it in a good way. More that you are actually a prepared wordsmith in person and on the fly. Not just in a write-up after days of thinking how to clean things up.


Geez. Try and compliment a guy...



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Re: Secret Worlds - Book 3 - Ep 1 cont'd


This is awesome. Honestly, I was just thinking about the old thread a few days ago. "Man, DOJ needs to let RDUNeil do a book about his Secret World campaign or something." Not kidding.

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Secret Worlds - Book 3 - Ep 1 cont'd


(Thought I'd play around with a little non-linear narrative. Some parts of gaming... those parts where the characters sit around and talk and try to figure out what to do... they don't translate all that well to a story format. So everything happened here... I'm just trying to present it in a way that is more interesting for a reader. Let me know if it works. I may have just made it confusing.)




The heavy boom of a full choke 12 gauge explodes in the night, and Damien feels the heavy palm covering his back shudder under impact as white pulp explodes around him. He tries to shift cover to get a bead on the fourth man knowing he and Ryu are severely outgunned. Even in this accelerated moment of life or death combat his mind races through the events that ended up here, in a damp and muggy field in the middle of the night with a group of heavily armed commandos trying to kill them.




They met on the road, in the rain. According to Damien’s GPS tracker, he and the dot that was supposed to be Ryu were practically on top of each other. Looking about in the rain, he knew he’d never spot an elephant, let alone a ninja. Better for Ryu to find him… so much to the puzzlement of Rangsey, Damien begins talking very loudly, in a his brash American voice… “I love the smell of JASMINE… don’t you?” and “I aways wanted one of those NINJA motorcycles!” and “SAMURAI movies are my favorite!” and other seemingly random comments.


For Ryu, sitting quietly under a tent of heavy leaves and simply waiting out the rain, the sound of Damien’s voice coming through the rain… the inanities of his comments… and the pure humor he can sense in the word… all serve to make him comfortable enough to come out to the road and meet his compatriot. It is an awkward moment of recognition, neither having seen the other in months… Damien leaner, bronzed and dressed like a tourist. Ryu gaunt and placid like any other simple Cambodian laborer. Both of them asking the question, “Just what exactly are you doing here?”


Instinctively Ryu reaches up and adjusts Damien’s hat… a cheap tampan he bought at a roadside stall… and suddenly the rain is perfectly deflected and running away from him, rather than straight down his back like it had been. “Oh… that’s how it works,” mutters Damien. Almost a smile flickers across Ryu’s face and for a moment his bearing and intensity return… Pros becoming Ryu again.


“I cam here to rescue you,” said Damien. “I escaped,” was Ryu’s reply. After that, they had to figure out what to do next.


In a local hut, eating spicy brazed chicken and waiting out the rain, they made a plan. Rangsey was paid off with a sizeable tip and Ryu took the role of the loud American’s guide. Ryu tells his story of working his way up through the organization, only to find the Grandmaster himself. This is clearly news that Mother Shell needs to know, but there is more that could be learned. They discuss the options of heading back north together, to see if they can discover more about the organization and the operation, but Damien it would require extensive recon and infiltration. They have limited supplies, and “I’m no commando… really!” says Damien.


With that idea behind them, it is a simple matter to decide how to get out of country. Later, on their own and at the proscribed time, Damien called Tazag on the sat-phone. An extraction is set… the next day, 11:00 pm local time. That should give the two of them time to head back south and make the rendezvous.




Automatic gunfire erupts behind Damien, whose back is till to the tree… still to the fight. One of the mercs is barely eight feet away, but firing to the side. Firing at Ryu’s position. Damien whirls back around, seeing a perfect target in the kneeling merc who is complete exposed. Damien knows he makes a perfect target, too. Taking this shot exposes him to the one with the shotgun. The merc has Ryu pinned, though. Not going to get another chance like this. Ch-puh, Ch-puh! Double tap from the silenced Steyer M-A1. One round in the upper arm, the second hits in the soft crease where the body armor meets on the side. The man drops with a gurgle… gut shot and bleeding.


To Damien’s right he sees the flicker of movement as the shotgun man aims and fires.




To head south, the two men decide to get a car. They are now less concerned with pursuit from the north, instead worried about the ramifications of the GPS device and it’s ability to track Ryu. When fiddling with the device, there had been a moment where Damien thought he was reading another signal… his own position. Ryu admits that he has had a bad feeling in his gut, and they piece together that it started as soon as Damien was able to pick up his signal.


The questions are many and implications threatening. Mother Shell has access to satellite uplinks and implanted tracking devices? Who else could be tracking them? How did the devices get inside them? Ryu is troubled, but takes the matter of fact position that “They will either find us with this… or they won’t. We should simply get out of the country as fast as we can.”


The drive south is a different Cambodia. Some side roads, but quite a bit of freeway and they run into traffic jams and construction and all the modern world inconveniences. Damien is much more comfortable wheeling the 20 year old rust bucket Volkswagen they bought for five hundred American dollars from a very happy mechanic of a larger village.


While Damien drives, Ryu studies the GPS device. In their discussion, they realize that whatever is inside them must have to transmit something that can be picked up by satellite. A device that small can’t have a large power source, and they must have had the devices inside them for months. This means a short life span once activated. Ryu manages to trigger the device so it clearly reads both of them, traveling south in the car. Wondering who else might be tracked so Ryu does some scanning. He is surprised to find that there is another signal, this one coming from someone back to the north. Someone else is back at the docks of Tonle Sap… back in the heart of the organizations territory. Neither of them knows who it might be.


Discussing how they might have been “tagged” Ryu and Damien go back to the strange “dream battle” that took place in Lucena over a year ago. Could something have been put in them that night? Would that mean Terry and Jones, wherever those two were now, were also being tracked? They began doing a larger search. It takes time. They only find one other signal. It comes from the Philippines. It is a dot of an island with no name, south of Lucena. Focusing in, they realize it can only be the village where Damien spent the last year recuperating. The signal could only be…


“Vincent?” says Ryu, answering his own questions.


“Vincent wasn’t with us that night,” says Damien. “So we got tagged after that night, but before you left to come here.”


“From the placement of the device,” Ryu touches his lower abdomen, “We likely ingested it.”


“Someone put it in our food anywhere from seven months to a year ago. Someone who knew it could only be used for a short period at some point in the future.”


“Good thing though,” says Ryu, “As long as we keep them active they should burn out soon.” Then he peels the motherboard out from the casing to examine the wiring and finds the most disturbing bit of information yet. On the back of the motherboard, small and discreet, burned with a fine point soldering wire, there is a symbol; a stylized drawing of a flower, a rose atop a twisted and thorny black stem.


Briar Rose.



Time stops for Damien. Perception so enhanced, mind and body so in tune, he seems to see everything happening in slow motion. Normally this is the moment of perfection when a duel is decided. The step… the cut… the finish. It happens now as he stares the full bore death of a Mossberg 12 guage in the face.


Twisting his body in a torturous arch, legs cartwheeling in a perfect circle, fast twitch muscles singing with adrenaline…spinning through the air, nearly free of gravity… then landing in a perfect low stance, body protected behind a second palm as he exhales smoothly… his breath somehow the only sound he hears…


… and the moment is gone, destroyed by the cacophony of shotgun blasts that turn the spot where Damien had been only a half second before into shreds of grass, brush and dirt.



Mother Shell working with Briar Rose? The implications are vast. What do they know about Briar Rose? “A competitor,” Stang had called them. Hackers and conspiracy types who thought Berkmann drew too much attention. People who wanted to offer Jones’ online persona a job.


They had no answers… only more questions… all of them troubling.


They drive through the day, arriving early at the extraction location. They are never troubled by any pursuers. A quick call to Tazag verifies that everything is still on schedule, though that leaves six hours before the copter will arrive. Better news yet, by the time they arrive, it appears that Ryu’s signal has stopped broadcasting, and within a few hours, Damien’s goes out as well.


The extraction zone is a low, flat field, broken up only by the occasional copse of trees an brush and lined with deep irrigation gullies. A ramshackle hut sits in one copse, a place out of the shade, but with sight lines out for miles. In the distance, Phnom Phen can be seen, but the field is empty of humans. The two settle in for a wait. Ryu even dozes for an hour or so.


Evening falls with a sunset of fiery red, more beautiful for all the pollution in the air around the capital. It drenches the world in a deep glow, setting off every object not at ground level in a perfect black silhouette. It is against this backdrop that Damien spies the approaching van.


It is just a dustball on the horizon at first. Many other vehicles passed in the distance, but after a minute he realized that this one was approaching. Another minute, and he tell Ryu about it, and they both watch it move up one of the dirt roads a few miles away. They remain concealed in the hut as the van begins to disappear in the growing dusk. The fall of night is what truly triggers their alarms, because as the van vanishes in the dark, it’s lights do not appear.


“Driving without lights… not a good sign,” says Damien. Ryu merely nods and melts into the shadows.




Ryu: A small sigh and a point from Damien and Ryu notices them. Four men, black clothing, hooded and masked they come out of the darkness with deliberation. In a slow sweep pattern they demonstrate a practiced ease, working together and keeping a constant ten yard spread between them. Well disciplined, too. They would have to be to have come this close before being spotted. Likely they belly crawled quite a distance before raising into assault mode. All of them carry long guns; assault rifles and shotguns. With only two silenced 9mm pistols between he and Damien, the fire team definitely has the advantage. If they have body armor, even worse.


Ryu scans for more. He doesn’t see any, but realizes the one of the drainage gullies parallels the soldier’s approach and would be perfect cover for more to flank the position. He adjusts his stance slightly, raising the black Steyer to a read position without disturbing the leaves in which he hides the slightest bit.


Damien fires first, when the assault team is about twenty five feet away. His M-A1 makes a double click and puffing noise that would be all but inaudible in any other setting, but in the near total silence of this field it is telltale. One of the soldiers, the one slightly behind all the others, flinches at the impact and then fall. He isn’t down though, he goes down in control clutching his leg but barely a sound.


Two of the others drop as well, their instant reactions creating the lowest profile possible and taking cover in the slight roll of the ground. The fourth is not so quick. He continues to stand, turning to look at his fallen partner. Perfect target. Ryu fires; double tap, center mass. The soldier jerks under the impact, a cry of alarm escapes him muffled by his mask, but he doesn’t go down. Instead he turns back around, looking for a target sweeping his rifle around to fire.


Body armor for sure.


Damien fires twice again. This time the shots are low and Ryu sees a massive spray of blood from the man’s arm and thigh, the blood shiny black in the half-moon light. This time number four crumples like a wet sack, his rifle falling to the ground.


That was all the surprise they had and now it was over. The remaining three now had targets. Fire erupts from all of them, including the man first wounded who is scrambling backward firing on Damien’s position with a Galil ARM. Two massive booms from a shotgun come from the far right, also at Damien, while number three rolls and puts a steady line of rounds across Ryu’s position with an HK 33KA2 held at port.


As the brush above him is turned into confetti, Ryu simply breathes out and puts two shots into his new target. The man’s head jerks sideways and Ryu swears he sees the spark of metal on metal at the soldier’s neck but the soldier doesn’t go down at all; instead lowers his aim, flicks the fire switch to burst mode, and pulls the trigger. Ryu feels a sudden burning sensation on his left shoulder as his ears fill with the zing of 5.56 rounds missing his head by barely an inch. Blood and cordite splash his face but the pain is oddly subdued. He instinctively knows that nothing vital has been hit and is more concerned by what he sees, as Damien puts himself right into the line of fire.


Two shots from point blank range and number three drops… but Ryu sees that doing so has put Damien directly in the line of fire of number two with a shotgun. A part of Ryu prepares himself to watch his comrade… his friend… his brother?... cut in half… but then Damien does the impossible. With speed that Ryu himself would be hard pressed to match and contortion only a dozen people in the world could manage, Damien flips away… a perfect no-hand cartwheel up and over the shotgun blast that should have killed him.


Impressive. Ryu smiles to himself.


“My turn,” he thinks, his fingers moving in a practiced pattern as he concentrates on the shadows all around… then he moves like a shadow himself.


Damien: “Crap these guys are good,” he thinks, followed quickly by, “I need a bigger gun.” There, not five feet from him, the weapon of the man he just shot is lying in the dirt. This time there is no hesitation as he rolls out, making like dash from cover, only to snag the rifle and roll back to cover. The soldier with a shotgun tries to tag him but can only fire where he thought Damien would be, again sending twelve gauge bearings tearing into thin air.


That is all the distraction Ryu needs.


Ryu: If someone was to analyze the move afterward they might have noted that the night was quite dark, gun fire was flashing and making it difficult to track movement, and Ryu used all of this to his advantage.


Ryu would just smile and say, “Ninja magic.”


However it works, when Damien glances past his covering tree at the man with shotgun he sees Ryu rising up out of the darkness behind the gunman with his machete in hand then bringing it down in a unhesitating kill strike, burying the thick blade in the back of the man’s skull.


Three down… but the respite is brief. From the edge of the gully comes a withering barrage. The first soldier is still in the fight, having found perfect cover with barely the top of his head and hands exposed over the edge. If not for a desperate spin to the ground, the burst from the Galil would have hit Ryu dead center.


Fire erupts across the field. Damien has the HK in position and is putting bursts all around the soldiers head while Ryu pumps the last shots from the Mossberg that way as well. The solider doesn’t flinch, though, firing back with steady bursts and flying lead makes the ten meters in between them a living hell for an eternity of seconds.


“This guy is stone cold.” mutters Damien in appreciation of the man’s coolness under fire. Then the soldier’s head drops from view and the roar of fire stops.


Ryu turns to look back at the hut, sees movement and points it out to Damien. At the end of gully another soldier, a fifth man as he suspected, rolls up and takes position under the low porch on the hut. It is a perfect flank but he and Damien had shifted position enough to at least be out of direct line of fire. Ryu feels around for extra shells in the dead soldier’s pockets. Finding a handful, he gets up to make a speed dash for the edge of the gully where number one disappeared while Damien rotates to put down fire toward the latest attacker. Ryu sees Damien butt stroke the gut shot, but alive merc number three, then lie down across the man for cover.


Just then the night erupts in light and sound. A grenade goes off halfway between the gully and Ryu’s position. The first soldier must have tossed it from his trench position, but luckily it was off target. Ears ringing, Ryu focuses through the sudden shock and makes his sprint.


Damien: He can’t hear a thing, but it looks like the grenade surprised the fifth soldier more than anyone else. The man’s position is lit up for second, and Damien can see him wide eyed through his mask, flinching from the explosion. Damien fires, putting five round burst through the desiccated wood of the hut supports. He is gratified to see the target cry out and fall back, clutching his shin. Instead of firing back, the soldier rolls back into the gully out of view… and for a brief second there is quiet. Taking advantage of this, Damien pulls two clips from the pouch of the unconscious soldier he has been lying over, then sprints to the opposite side of the hut. He pulls the old clip and dumps it, jamming a new one home as he slides down and tries to get a visual on the mouth of the gully. Partially obstructed by bushes and the edge of the hut, Damien can see nothing but takes up a covering position.


Ryu: He comes up to the edge of the gully, shotgun first, seeing nothing as he slides new shells into the underside of the weapon. From this angle, soldier number one could only have moved toward the hut… not back the way they came. That way is open for many yards and Ryu would see anyone there. Shotgun loaded, Ryu rolls into the trench and starts to move. With Damien in position by the hut, they have these last two caught between them.


Damien: Movement… then fire erupts from the gully. Damien isn’t sure who, but from the steady burst and move pattern, he’s sure it is the one he has dubbed “Stone Cold” providing covering fire for his buddy. Damien doesn’t have a shot, but gets the impression they are retreating. He rolls behind the hut and up to his feet and begins a loping run in a wide arc that will bring him to the opposite side of the gully.


Ryu: Step, step, step… he moves forward, shotgun to the shoulder and looking for a target while staying crouched below the level of the trench walls. Ahead of him as the ditch curves he sees and hears fire erupt pointing back toward the hut, and in that moment a retreating soldier walks right into him. Hood and mask off, the man’s face shows pain and he carries his rifle one handed and pointing down. Ryu points the shotgun at his head and fires.


Desperation carries speed. The kick from the shotgun pushed it high and the man went low and somehow the blast misses, taking out a huge chunk of dirt directly behind him. Disconcerted, but without hesitation, Ryu simply points the barrel down ten degrees and double pumps two more round directly into the chest of his enemy. The soldier folds into a fetal position and falls like a rock as his armor stops much of the penetration but the impact at such close range turns his ribs into splinters.


Those two shots took only a second and a half, but that is an eternity in combat, and it costs Ryu. As the fifth soldier falls, the first man is following behind him after laying down covering fire. He comes at Ryu over the down turned shotgun, his own gun swinging. Using his momentum he plows into Ryu with the butt of his gun driving hard into the genin’s sternum. There is a heavy thud, and Ryu feels all the air go out of his lungs, his eyes go black and his own hollow gasps for air are all he can hear or feel.


It takes only a second for Ryu to begin clearing his head, but in that time the soldier has wrapped him in an expert arm lock with a long combat knife pressed against his jugular. The soldier is already beginning to shuffle backward carrying the smaller Ryu as a shield and hostage and making steady progress down the gully and back to the van.



(More later... should be the end.)

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Secret Worlds - Book 3 - Ep 1 cont'd


Ryu remains limp and makes the commando use all his strength to carry him. The soldier seems extremely well trained and focused, but Ryu knows that all he has to do is wait. It could be as much as mile back to van. He will eventually tire. Plus, Damien is out there somewhere.


Fifty yards later, the moment comes. A rise in the gully puts the soldier’s center of gravity higher the Ryu’s and makes the man shift his grip slightly as he moves over the hillock. It is all the genin needs and his limp body becomes a whip snake without the slightest sign. One second he is a rag doll, and the second his arms are sweeping upward, shoulders sweeping inward sockets practically dislocating in a perfectly timed twist that snaps him out of the soldier’s grip and puts him into a perfect defensive fighting stance now facing the soldier, his right forearm pressed to enemy’s left.


Without hesitation the soldier reverses the knife so that it the blade lies up his right forearm and presses the attack, his eyes through the mask steel blue and focused.


Damien: He circled too far. Moving at a three quarter run was still faster than the soldier could drag Ryu, so when Damien moves up to the gully, HK leveled and ready to fire, he sees movement thirty yards back down the trench. Muttering to himself, he drops into the trench to cut off the man’s retreat just in time to see Ryu escape and the ensuing fight. Watching the soldier press the attack, he mutters again, “Seriously… stone cold!” and then finds himself stopping and watching one of the most impressive close quarters battles he’s ever seen unfold.


Ryu half moon sweeps both arms and slaps the knife slash past his face, then grabs the man’s wrist and tries to twist the knife out of the enemy’s hand. The soldier knows what he is doing and punch-blocks the takeaway, then draws the knife back trying to cross Ryu’s throat. Ryu shoulder blocks the cut and puts both his hands on the man’s wrist, again trying to use the attacker’s momentum to roll his arms and force the blade away. Again the soldier breaks the attack, this time with a hard x-block.


The two are a flurry of slapping hands and fists, the only sound soft grunts and the shuffle of feet and rustle of clothing. The knife flashes silver in the moonlight constantly flicking a hair’s breadth away from opening Ryu up like a fish.


Approaching from behind, Damien mutters, “I really should have a camera,” as the fight promoter in him realizes he is watching one of the best fights he’ll likely ever see. Ryu manages one solid hit, a sudden forearm shot that ignores the knife and drives the man’s arm into his own face with crunch, but it is not enough to stop him, and he only shifts lower and tries to slash Ryu’s inner thigh…


… but the blow never lands. From Ryu’s perspective, the soldier suddenly lunges head first and off balance, then falls limp and heavy at the ninja’s feet. Ryu is left staring at Damien and the butt end of his rifle that had just cracked back of the man’s head and dropped him cold.


“I’m sorry, but we need to GO!” says Damien.


Ryu simply shrugs saying, “I was wondering when you would show up,” and bends to pick up the fallen knife. Then he steps over the fallen soldier and begins to lift up the man’s head in order to cut his throat like a pig.


“NO!” shouts Damien. “Don’t kill him!”


Ryu looks at him and quietly asks “Why not?”


“Oh… come on! He’s down… we can tie him up… I mean… he fought REALLY well…,” Damien struggles to find the words to express what he is asking, and to his credit Ryu at least waits to give him the chance. Finally Damien says, “We should at least question him. Let’s find his van, wake him up, and find out what he knows.” Ryu’s shrug clearly conveys the, “Fair enough. I can always kill him later,” thoughts going through his head.


The two bundle up “Stone Cold” as Damien keeps calling him, and within minutes they find the squad’s vehicle. There is no one there, and when they open the sliding doors they find a nicely equipped troop transport. Ruck seats, weapon mounts, cases for equipment, weapons and ammo. They quickly dig out some of the plastic, disposable cuffs and strap their captive to a seat. As Damien digs around the equipment, Ryu says quietly, “I will take care of the others.” He is gone before it registers with Damien what he means.


Fifteen minutes later, Ryu is back, carrying rifles and ammo belts over his shoulder, and the heavy combat knife sheathed at his belt. Damien glances up from the microwave radio transmitter he has found and tries not to picture what is left back in the field.


They turn their attention to the soldier. Relieved of his mask and hood, he is revealed to be a caucasion male, probably European, with weathered skin, and sun-bleached blonde hair. None of the equipment or clothing has any markings or names on it.


When the soldier wakes up, he turns out to be quite cooperative. His name is Krauss and he has a distinctive German accent. Cleary still hazy from the blow to the head, he seems to try earnestly to answer the question put to him.


Why did you attack us? – “We were instructed to do so.”

Who instructed you? – “Our client.”

You were hired? – “That is what we do.”

Who hired you? – Hesitation, then, “Briar Stieg… eh… Briar Rose?”




Why do they want us dead? – “Ich wier nicht… I do not know.”


Then he looks at Ryu and asks simply, “Die mannschaft… the team? Sie sind tot?”

“Yes,” says Ryu. Krauss blinks, then nods.


After a moment, Krauss volunteers more. “Unsere Aufträge geändert worden. They changed… last minute.” When pressed he points at the microwave radio. “After wir called unser position… we to go to you… but they call. Change orders.”


His foot taps a box near his feet. “Supposed to use diese… extract… not kill.”


Damien opens the box to find boxes of safety shells, beanbag rounds for the shotgun and tasers. He looks back at Krauss who says again, “Last minute… now eliminate,” and shrugs to say “I don’t have a clue why.”


Further conversation indicates that Krauss’ team has worked for Briar Rose in the past; a variety of jobs, often recon and surveillance in places like Beirut, North Africa, India, Pakistan and many places in Southeast Asia.


They gain insights from the man, but he is a paid soldier not a decision maker. There are limits to his information, as to be expected. Outside the van, as Damien and Ryu wait the last hour before Tazag arrives, they return to their former argument.


“He has seen too much. He knows too much. Let me kill him,” says Ryu.


“What does he know? He cooperated! We can’t just kill him!” says Damien.


And it comes down to that. To Damien it is simply wrong. They fought, he lost. Done. Ryu looks at him and realizes that this is where they are still very, very different. For all his skill, for all his tactical and martial ability, Damien is not a killer. Death is waste. Killing is unnecessary and profits no one. Damien has respect for Krauss.


And despite everything illogical and plain stupid about the idea, Ryu finds himself agreeing with Damien.


Krauss greets the news that he won’t be killed with a twitch of relief. The emotion is controlled but evident on his face. When the helicopter finally arrives, Tazag helps them load the scavenged equipment (primarily the very expensive microwave radio) and then Damien takes Krauss fifty feet from the van and sits him in the dust with his hands and feet still bound. He tosses a knife into the dirt thirty feet from him, then shows Krauss the van keys and tosses them another fifty feet away. “That should take you a while,” he says, then looks right at Krauss and says, “You should be happy he didn’t kill you,” nodding back at Ryu. Krauss almost smiles and nods.


Ryu jogs back to the waiting copter and clambers aboard. As the big machine lifts off, he puts on a headset and says to Tazag, “Take us to Mother Shell. We have a lot of questions, and she owes us some answers.”


(Camera pull back as the Sea King rises into the night sky, higher and higher until it’s blinking lights are lost in the stars.


Fade to black.)


End of Book 3 – Episode 1


(Actually... Epilogue to follow)

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Re: Secret Worlds: Reboot write-ups


I was quite pleased when Neil asked if I wanted to revisit the Secret Worlds; I had a ton of fun playing Ryu the Ninja. The campaign had a lot of potential and it was a shame that it got stalled for a variety of reasons.


Kudos on the write up, Neil. Like always, you have gone way above and beyond on this one. Your ability to remember such details is astounding. I quite liked your narrative story mode for the last section.

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Secret Worlds - Book 3 - Ep 1 Epilogue


Note: (Cut Scenes are bits I use in my games where I (the GM) describes a scene that the PCs are not a part of, but that hopefull enhances the PLAYER'S sense of story. It usually gives insights into plot points or bad guy activities or heavy handed foreshadowing... allowing the players to also be an audience... as they would see things in a movie or comic book that the main characters don't know, but enhances the audiences understanding and enjoyment. My group has always handled this well, clearly separating player knowledge from PC knowledge and just enjoying the small revelations that can come from cut scenes. The Stang/Skelter scene at the beginning of this Episode was a cut scene.)




Cut Scene: (Camera showing the stars fades back into view moving across the sky to a daylight scene, swooping down over clouds and mountains to then pans down. No longer over Cambodia, the camera zooms in on a picturesque village nestled against the Alps. Caption at the bottom reads "Thun, Switzerland". The camera flies over the sloped roofs and the green rolling grass to slow in front of a non-descript three story rooming house in the classic chalet style. Nothing about it is remarkable from the outside and the camera moves in through an upper floor window and begins moving through the rooms.


What is revealed looks like what could be a start up Internet concern, at first glance. Young men and women in casual European fashion bustle about Ikea furniture loaded with trendy office materialss and computers. There area maybe a dozen of the people working, and the camera passes through them, showing a great deal of online reasearch and compiling going on, then the camera turns and moves through the one shut door on the floor. It comes out to show three other young men all huddled in a darkened room, each monitoring two computer screen, wearing headsets and working feverishly. They have worried looks on their faces.


There is another man in the room, just out of view of the camera, but he appears to be supervising. He asks something in rapid fire French and one of the young men replies in German, but they seem to easily understand each other. Subtitles scroll across the bottom of the screen.


"Any further information? They are already overdue."


"Nothing sir. There has been no call since they signalled their approach to the extraction point."


"And still no signal from their transponders?"


"No sir. They are past their life span, but the team was in position within an hour of the last signal."


"Can we task a satellite over their position?"


The young man turns around a bit surprised. "I'm sorry, sir. This mission is not at that level of priority. You would have to get much higher clearance."


The camera begins swinging around, and for the first time the man standing behind the operators can be seen.


"Too many things could go wrong here and we may not get a second chance if we lose them now. Keep trying to contact the extraction team," he says lifting a mug of coffee to sip from it, while staring intently at all the screen from gray eyes with tight age wrinkles in the corners. He is wearing a blazer and slacks, slightly rumpled, and the jacket hangs over a faded sweatshirt reading "BERKLEY" across it. The coffee mug is in the left hand, and he raises his right to brush a few steel gray hairs out of his eyes that had escaped the ponytail that holds back the flowing silver mane. In the right hand he holds a heavy walking cane.


"Yes sir, Dr. Berkmann," says the young man, and turns back to his screen.)


End Epilogue

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Secret Worlds - Book 3 - Ep 1 The Good, the Bad & the Ugly


As before... just throwing out my thoughts on how the game itself went.


The Good: For a two year hiatus, the players jumped back in to character without a pause. Having the old write-ups for reference certainly helped. Plus we had some great conversations about what we wanted from the game as players (myself included).

High points:

Damien/Ryu relationship: The samurai vs. ninja mentality... I thought it had real resonance in the game. Their different voices reflect the players, but so does the fact that they stand by each other as well. It's a great story AND play dynamic.


Joe & Eric: These guys are action/combat junkies so the fight scene just flowed and had us all grinning. Their styles of play are different, but complimentary. Having just two players made it easy to stay on task, or when we slipped into joke mode to easily get back into game.


Chit use: Both players had a couple more chits (bought with EXP) and burned them in combat for life saving actions (Damien's acro-dodge was the biggee, 'cause he was DOA without it) Luck chits feel much more like "luck" in this level game, since the "creative use of superpowers" is much less a driving factor than "I grab a gas can and kick over a hibachi!" moment. (Eric spent a blue chit to have those objects be there. Great scene setting use of a chit.)


Stone Cold/Krauss: It is wonderful when dice rolls enhance the story. I was rolling most of my dice out in the open. One merc just could do no wrong. While the five mercs were not flat out mooks, they didn't initially have names. 15 Dex, level with guns, some body armor... commando skills, fight smart... that's about it. SC/Krauss was just badass. I don't think I rolled higher than a 10 for him all night. I was rolling Ego rolls for the mercs when things went badly, they were surprised or shot... Stone Cold was Joe's term for Krauss just never flinching, never making a wrong move, totally cool under fire. By the end of the fight, they were practically rooting for the guy, and Joe really role played out that he wanted this guy to live. So Merc #1 became "Stone Cold Krauss" and had one of the best hand to hand fights against a superior opponent ever. He'll have to return someday, that's for sure.


The Bad: I wasn't nearly prepared enough. I had much of this worked out in my head, but work and life in general made me drop the ball on some of the finer points. Didn't have all the maps and pictures I wanted, and NPC personalities were flat.


Lack of camraderie: This was my fault. I'd intended for the two characters to get back together earlier but lack of prep and Ryu's little escape (see below) set up a situation where the two character's didn't get to interact until halfway through the adventure. I was also struggling to find the voice for NPCs so I felt the great dialogue/chatter that happened in the first SW run was missing. This could also be the result of only two players, so we'll see.


The Ugly: Eric/Ryu really threw me for a loop with his escape. I'd thought he'd be in trouble, and I could have Damien show up and the two of them bust about the organization's territory. He had such a sweet escape plan... and it so fit the character... that it worked perfectly. Thus the game kinda dragged a bit in the middle as we worked the logistics of getting the characters together. That's the kind of stuff that happens all the time in RPGs, but doesn't really make for interseting story.


This is what I love about role playing, though. Nothing is predictable... the skill and challenge for me is to rise to the unexpected and somehow make it work... to keep the game moving and still form a coherent, engaging story when play events spiral off into areas I just didn't predict.


Complexity: This is always my problem. I have too many plot elements floating around, and the players keep adding more, and eventually the players are looking at me like "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?" It was legitimate in this game, but it impingent upon me to make things clearer (to the players, if not the PCs) in the next game. I have dozens of plot point I need to just file away, and focus on just a few for a while. Coherence will suffer if I don't.

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Re: Secret Worlds - Book 3 - Ep 1 The Good, the Bad & the Ugly


Lack of camraderie: This was my fault. I'd intended for the two characters to get back together earlier but lack of prep and Ryu's little escape (see below) set up a situation where the two character's didn't get to interact until halfway through the adventure. I was also struggling to find the voice for NPCs so I felt the great dialogue/chatter that happened in the first SW run was missing. This could also be the result of only two players' date=' so we'll see.[/quote']


Don't put the lack of camraderie on yourself. Remember that Ryu is a ninja of few words. Damien talks a ton, but he wasn't really in a situation that breeds banter. Once the game got going we, or at least I, didn't want to slow things down by roleplaying out things with the guide or Tazaq. The banter will probably need to be NPC helped. San Fran was full of people and lots of banter. Less NPC's in the Phillipeanes, also less banter. Plus since both of us are action combat nuts, we are going to keep banter to a minimum in order to facilitate butt-kicking.


This game is going to be different then the first run. No question about it. If you want banter and character building have us interacting with NPC's to accomplish stuff. If we get sent commando style into Cambodia to rescue somebody, we probably wont chat much. But if we get dropped off in Hong Kong to slowly work our way through gangs/Tongs and such, there will probably be more dialog.


Also I am not sure the lack of banter is bad. Yes it is a different feel, but as I said before, this will be a different game. The two most gamist players in the group, got rebooted in this game. Plus the characters themselves aren't 'rooted in the community' When we were in San Fran, people had things going on and things to do. Now we are purely re-active. So we as players have to wait to see what you (the GM) throws at us. Not a bad thing. Just a different thing.


The first session back, everyone is rusty. Now that I have re-read all 14 pages of the first write-up I am good to go. :D


Bring it on Neil. Bring it on.



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Re: Secret Worlds: Reboot write-ups


FYI, I posted links to this thread and the original over on ENWorld's d20 OGL and modern forum. There are a lot of ENWorld'ers playing in modern campaigns (even if they have not chosen the wiser course of using HERO for them) that would benefit from some RDU-fu. :cool:

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Re: Secret Worlds: Reboot write-ups


FYI' date=' I posted links to this thread and the original over on ENWorld's d20 OGL and modern forum. There are a lot of ENWorld'ers playing in modern campaigns (even if they have not chosen the wiser course of using HERO for them) that would benefit from some RDU-fu. :cool:[/quote']



Thanks for the plug. I don't know what ENWorld is, but as long as it isn't a fuzzy erotica site (:P ) I'm good with that!


Take it easy!

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Re: Secret Worlds: Reboot write-ups


Thanks for the plug. I don't know what ENWorld is' date=' but as long as it isn't a fuzzy erotica site (:P ) I'm good with that![/quote']

ENWorld.org = most popular RPG site on the Web. Granted, you might not know that if you don't follow D&D/d20 regularly.


Bonus: no fuzzy erotica.

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Re: Secret Worlds: Reboot write-ups


Real life logistics, combined with a difference in play preferences.


Secret Worlds really needed all players in the game at the table. With all the sub-plots and things going on, if a player was there one session to get the hook, but couldn't make it the next week to act. It kinda messed with the flow.


Also, Neil orignally created Secret Worlds as a non-superhero game to run. He was kinda burnt out on supers, at the time, and I was new to Hero. So SW helped me learn Hero without dealing with frameworks and AVLDs. After a couple of months of Secret Worlds, "Neil got his groove back" for supers and some of the players preferred to move back to supers. Thus the in-game splintering at the end, mirrored the out of game feelings. IMHO

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Re: Secret Worlds: Reboot write-ups


Last nights game should make a fun read for everybody. Still no answers only more questions.


This week's teaser: Who knew Ryu was so adamently opposed to violence against women?


Stay tuned for more Secret Worlds.:D

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Re: Secret Worlds: Reboot write-ups


Real life logistics, combined with a difference in play preferences.


Secret Worlds really needed all players in the game at the table. With all the sub-plots and things going on, if a player was there one session to get the hook, but couldn't make it the next week to act. It kinda messed with the flow.


Also, Neil orignally created Secret Worlds as a non-superhero game to run. He was kinda burnt out on supers, at the time, and I was new to Hero. So SW helped me learn Hero without dealing with frameworks and AVLDs. After a couple of months of Secret Worlds, "Neil got his groove back" for supers and some of the players preferred to move back to supers. Thus the in-game splintering at the end, mirrored the out of game feelings. IMHO


Much of the fault is mine.


I made Terry to be this kickass, unstoppable bulldog of an assassin wrapped up in a hazy death cult background.


But in play, Terry was nicer than was warrented for the situation. And much more patriotic to England than I expected. I couldn't make Terry fit.


And I couldn't come up with a replacement character that was interesting to me to play. I really like Terry.


And my logistics are a nightmare. Right now, I am in the process of blowing off several weeks of gaming in order to fulfill some last minute deadlines for oil painted covers... all three of them are multiple figures with full environmental backgrounds. But back then, the commute to the game was problematic for me.


Those two issues put together? Kill my participation.

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Secret Worlds - Book 3 - Episode 2


Been over a week since we played, but it's been tough to wrap my head around writing this up. I've got something going though, so I'll start to post. Unedited and rough for the most part... but here we go.



Secret Worlds: Book 3 – Episode 2

Only More Questions



Joe – Damien McGregor

Eric – Hitoshi Ryu


Cut Scene – 9 Months 8 days ago: Interior of a restaurant… rustic décor of bare wood beams and “old west†bits hung about. Dim lighting, flickering warmth from a large central fireplace… candles at every table in red glass. Dozens of people are eating… a family restaurant. The clink of utensils on glass and the constant buzz of conversation fill the spacious room with energy as waiters and waitresses move about with huge trays laden with steaks and burgers and fry baskets.


From the foyer, the hostess leads a man to a table. Her 19 year old, wide eyed mid-west beauty is a contrast to the tanned, lean figure of Omar Stang as he follows behind her. Despite his casual jacket, jeans and John Deere cap, Stang tends to stand out in white bread Middle America. The dim interior helps, but he is still nervous when the girl smiles, sets him in a booth then leaves him with a beaming smile and perky, “Your waiter will be right with you! Have a great dinner!â€


Stang smiles in return, then looks down at the menu, squinting to read it in the dark light. His body is tense and he starts violently when a grizzled voice says, “If I wasn’t so glad to see you alive I’d laugh my *** off, seeing you in a place like Pete’s Steak Barn.â€


Stang stares upward at the bulky shadow of a man that stands at his table and then slides onto the bench across from him. The flickering candle light illuminates a blocky face and salt and pepper beard broken by a wide grin under the brim of a beaten and dusty cowboy hat.

Stang grins in return… a sudden unabashed happiness on his normally constrained face. “Jolly! It is good to see you.†Stang reaches across and shakes the man’s hand. “Good to know it is you and you are well,†his face suddenly gets serious. “You are well, aren’t you?â€


“You know it, boss,†replies Jolly. “We all had our bolt holes ready to go. Maggie’s fine as well, though I haven’t spoken to her in a week. Seems like the dead drops we set up are still secure, though I was pretty leery when your first note came through. Thought it could have been a setup.†The old soldier shifts himself on the bench and looks around the room. “But you here alone? You are wanted by the Feds, you know?â€


Stang looks about the room. “Oh, I’ve got support… though I have no idea where he is. He’s like that,†mutters Stang, then “And unfortunately it is much worse than the Feds, Jolly… much worse.â€


Stang considers the menu for a moment, his face serious again, then hands the plastic covered booklet to Jolly saying, “So… order us something good, then you and I have to talk. I’ll fill you in on what we’ve figured out… about where our principles have ended up… about the nature of our adversary… then I may have a job for you, if you are interested.â€


“Putting me back to work?†and Jolly grins again. “About damn time, if you ask me.â€


The two men fall into discussion, hidden by the darkness of the booth and unnoticed by any of the other patrons. Unnoticed by all but one. Camera pans back from the booth until it shifts perspective and the image is revealed to be a reflection in a mirror. A mirror image perfectly viewed by a patron sitting on the left side of the bar, forty feet away. A person would have to know what they were looking for to use such a reflection, but the burly man in the flannel workshirt, jeans and heavily worn work boots is just that kind of person. He raises his beer and takes a steady drink, watching the booth and all the restaurant in the mirror.


"Want another, honey?" says the buxom woman in a Pete's Steak House t-shirt under her bar apron.


Skelter smiles... a cracked look in his weathered face... the face of a man who works for a living and enjoys his evening Bud. "You betcha, honey!" he says with a bad wink and gives her breasts the lingering look she expects from a man on his third beer. "Comin' up, Sweety!" she says with a smile that says he is exactly the kind of man she is used to serving and turns to fill a new glass.


"Thank you, Sweety!" says Skelter and his meaty hand drops some quarters into the tip jar beside him. But his eyes are back on the mirror, sharp, alert... watching. "Keep 'em comin', Sweety," he says.


Fade to black

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Secret Worlds - Book 3 - Episode 2 cont'd


Intro Scene: Camera spirals downward over a swath of green that resolves into rolling hills of lush vegetation sweeping past. This gives away to paved roads and a sweeping shot of the eastern suburbs of Manila sprawling in all directions. The downtown skyscrapers reflect the morning sun, but the slowing camera shoot turns and curves over the white and pastel houses with red tiled roofs… lowering toward one in particular… a large house on hill with other large houses. The backyard is open, with long green grass that beats in the backwash of the descending helicopter.

Camera pulls back to show Damien, Ryu & Tazag at the edge of the open doorway of the helicopter. Ryu’s legs dangle over the edge as the craft lowers to the ground, and he drops off smoothly a few feet above the ground, turning to retrieve his bag handed to him by Tazag as the ‘copter bounces to rest. Damien slides off with his own bag as Tazag shouts over the engine noise.

“The house is for you… clean up… rest. I will contact Mother Shell. We all need to talk to her. Things are very strange…†he looks at the components of the disabled GPS tracker for emphasis. With a flick of his hand he tosses Damien a set of house keys. “This place is safe. I will send someone for you as soon as I know anything.â€

The helicopter rises into the air, leaving the two men alone in yard.




The keys unlock the door, and Damien is greeted by a blast of cold air.

“Ah… jeez-us… air conditioning… it’s been forever.â€


Ryu quickly checks the rooms… bedrooms, kitchen, two baths, all painted white with simple furnishings, but clean and comfortable with a stocked refrigerator and wet-bar. The two men are still concerned about being set-up and the implications of Mother Shell working with Briar Rose, but with limited options they decide to make the best of the situation. Damien heads to the bathroom… the idea of a modern shower more temptation than he can resist.


“Oh my god…†Damien stares at himself in the mirror. For a year he’d had nothing more than a small, cracked shaving mirror to use. Now in full view, he can barely recognize himself. At least twenty-five pounds lighter, skin dark as teak, and black hair streaked by the sun instead of a deep red it used to be… the stylish, charming Irish American is long gone.

Out in the living room, Ryu just shakes his head as Damien yells, “Man! I need some hair dye!â€




Later, the house is quiet. Only the hum of the air conditioner fills the rooms. The kitchen is empty, but for the remnants of a meal, dirty dishes in the sink. Damp towels hang in the bathrooms… old, clothes are piled in a hamper. In one bedroom one of the duffels lies open and it’s lethal contents spread on the white sheets. Three pistols, knives, automatic shotgun and the HK are stark black edges on the soft white. They all gleam, cleaned and oiled… a nod to professional preparation before all else.


In the living room the two men rest. Ryu sits in a wicker chair, arms and legs in perfect parallel symmetry, head slightly tilted back to rest on the chair back. His eyes appear closed and he is stillness incarnate. One would have to be very close to tell if he was even breathing.


Across the room Damien lays sprawled on the couch. His mouth is open in a silent snore, with one arm holding a pillow over his eyes and his legs splayed across the cushions. His chest rises and falls with deep, regular breaths of the completely unconscious.


Time passes, tracked only by the beams of sunlight through the windows. Morning turns to afternoon turns to evening and nothing disturbs them. Only Damien’s position shifts as he rolls over to keep out of the sun, muttering in his sleep. Ryu is a statue.


Such is the scene when the sun begins to shift into evening orange and outside the house a large, silver and black BMW sedan pulls into the drive.




(More later)

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