Weeks passed after the heroes shuttered Hell.
Adrian Pellwitch Takes it Easy
George Pellwitch had about a week of tourism in Edgarton, and in the process became friends with Swashbuckler as a fellow monster hunter (in his way.) Adrian told Swashbuckler he was grateful for the help during the crisis, and Swashbuckler mentioned he could use some help getting a Letter of Marque and Reprisal signed by the police commissioner Alex Felton.
(As an immortal pirate, Swashbuckler uses his age of sail ship and its magical stealth abilities to interfere with smuggling and offshore mischief. Frustrated with slippery criminals in the legal system, he pioneered the “confess or maroon” program where those who did not confess their misdeeds to the system get re-captured and put on a spit of sand in the ocean until they reconsider. Swashbuckler likes to have a Letter of Marque and Reprisal signed by the current police commissioner to endorse his work, to underscore that he is a vigilante for the good of the city; a privateer, rather than a pirate.)
Adrian took his wife Emma and their surviving bodyguard Ellis along with the yacht captain Mugsy and went on a two week tour of the Florida Keys and Grand Cayman. Emma doesn’t like going in the water, but she likes the beach. One tipsy night she confided in Adrian that since she dated a fellow who turned out to be a Deep One hybrid, and he threatened her that his kin can smell her in the ocean, and she’s had nightmares about being dragged off by Deep Ones, the ocean has lost its appeal for her. But she feels safe with Adrian. Adrian and Mugsy also tried out the yacht’s submarine to poke around the reef and surprise scuba divers.
Genevieve Malone Pursues Leads
Meanwhile, back in Edgarton, Genevieve spent some quality time with her husband Graves. She also investigated Grim’s disappearance, interviewing Emma and Ellis (Emma’s bodyguard) about what happened to Grim. He apparently repelled the Lord of Air (incorporeal possessing demon) that got into him, and dragging out the one in Ellis with a fierce kiss; her lungs were damaged as from smoke inhalation by the ferocity of the struggle. He put up a hell of a fight on his own so the others could escape, and that was the last they saw of him.
Genevieve enlisted Kryptma and Morris to use their shaman powers to help. Grim didn’t turn up. Kryptma and Morris and Kryptma’s other mysterious boyfriend formed a love triangle and they couldn’t resist pulling Genevieve in as a listening ear (though she refused to offer advice into that teen drama machine.)
The shamen were united in providing an extra boost to the banewar south of town, where a spirit roc and umbral unicorn and other spirits and shamen provide a bulwark against the tide of bane spirits flowing from where a nuke was detonated deep in the state park. Kryptma decided to help out to push the effort ahead and buy the defenders some breathing space.
Genevieve, the Gray Ghost, and the wreckage of the metal-bodied assassin robot Daniel talked about his future. The Ghost said she was willing to purloin a new flesh-sheathed metal body (a terminator, basically) that didn’t have its positronic brain yet. And, she was willing to call in an engineer that she trusted who owed her a major favor to install Daniel’s brain in the new body. Genevieve and Daniel agreed to the risks involved; it was not certain how much longer his brain would be stable in its current wrecked shell. The Ghost set wheels in motion to achieve that end.
Sgt. Gorman, Genevieve’s Downtown police contact, recruited her to help with a string of robberies of hidden money stashes in high-rise buildings, conducted by the Webmaster. The only evidence he leaves at crime scenes is a marble-sized motion activated projector, so when someone enters the scene it projects a spider logo. He got his training and gear in Benton, and when it got too hot for him there, he relocated to Edge City.
Sidewinders and Webmasters
Genevieve started investigating, revealing that the places that were hit were new and old stash spots put in by the Chan family. Some of them were installed at the height of their power from sale of the Whisper drug. The estimate of stolen goods was impossible to verify, but could be as much as $30 million over six jobs.
Also, as it turns out, Mr. Breathman was a high-up accountant with the Chan family, and he was captured by gunmen. Willingly or not, he was probably telling his captors where the sites were, and his captors were sending the Webmaster as a hired gun to clean them out. Who was behind it?
Sal “The Salamander” Carter, head of the new gang the Sidewinders, had a brand new club Downtown called the Snake Pit. It was built in the wreckage path left by the Ragnorok Wrecker that almost destroyed the city. Terrible pastels alongside big band 1950s ambiance.
The Salamander used to be a two-bit thug for the Bertinelli family, but recently he sold his soul to a crossroads demon to become a criminal big shot. Now rocketed to wealth and fame, he picks easy targets so he doesn’t start a war with anybody, and he lives it up as the big man others must take seriously. Still, cleverness is not his overarching finest trait; the loot and prisoner were probably stashed in his nightclub.
A Night On the Town
Adrian and Genevieve dressed nicely and went to the Snakepit to scout the location. They saw where Sal held court, and identified the lieutenants and armed thugs, taking in the sights. A balcony, an off-limits basement, the apartment building across the alley belonged to them too and that’s where they stored the liquor, food, and other supplies.
Genevieve was recognized by the bartender, so Sal’s second in command, Tom Skern, strolled over to have a pleasant conversation and to suggest if they had any law issues they come to him rather than making a scene or going to Sal. He also gave Adrian his card–and his personal phone number. Looking good!
Eventually Genevieve headed for the ladies room. There was a mirror in the handicapped stall, so she used that to pop out into the umbra, and navigate through the charred dimensional wreckage of the Wrecker’s path to find a couple mirrors downstairs. She slid out of the one in the bathroom and invoked the Mists of R’lyeh, then scouted.
There, in the common room, the vault. A small area with three cells, guarded by two alert thugs; and in one cell, Mr. Breathman. She telepathically contacted him, much to his discomfort and surprise. He was obviously held against his will and not given any luxuries. He refused to escape as long as the Sidewinders had his granddaughter Li, a pretty sixteen year old girl. Genevieve agreed to help him rescue her and get him out, if he would tell them where Webmaster was going to strike next. Deal.
She strolled past guards and out the secret door and back into the club, hidden by the magical mists. Adrian dismissed the illusion of Genevieve he had conjured to cover her absence as she returned to the table.
On the off chance that the Sidewinders centralized things, Genevieve telepathically scanned the building next door. Sure enough, she found a mind that was sure to be Li, on the fourth floor, bored and guarded.
A Grim Situation
As she shook her head at their stupidity, Julio, a member of the Brotherhood of the Road, approached Adrian. He was to call his wife. Julio left, and Adrian called home.
Emma was seriously rattled. Grim had returned, and said he wanted to see Genevieve, then stalked away; something about him frightened her badly.
Adrian and Genevieve left the club and went through a mirrored window facing an alley not far away, emerging in the mirror safe room in Adrian’s basement. Emma was happy to see them, feeling much safer. Genevieve scouted, finding Grim’s footprints on the rain-soaked lawn, going down to a departing motorcycle’s tire track.
Who else might Grim visit? Genevieve called Grainger Pennywise to put him on alert, just in case. Ellis and Emma felt safer with Adrian than at home, so they piled into the car, and the four headed to Old Man Marcher’s burned out ruin. That had been home once.
The Crawford Burial Plot
There, they found the house number of the Crawford Place scrawled on a stone. They headed to the burned-out ruin of what had once been a home to Genevieve, and her now-deceased cousin, and after that, Daniel. It was a lonely ruin on a wind-swept and lightly-traveled road. Emma and Ellis held back as Adrian and Genevieve approached the ruin and spotted some light, like a candle, from the basement.
Ellis started shooting. Two Lords of Air were trying to possess the women, but their Elder Sign pendants were repelling them. Adrian closed in, and those demons retreated even as another tried to sneak attack his owl familiar, pouring into her beak; her magical connection to Adrian was enough for her to repel the attack.
All four of them approached the house. Adrian’s magically honed senses detected Grim in the basement, and he went down alone to talk to him. Grim growled that he wanted to see Geneiveve, so the ladies started down the stairs into the ruin of the basement. Genevieve could immediately tell Grim’s body didn’t have him in it; it was a possessed corpse.
Regretful but unwavering, Adrian blew the haunted corpse away with magic–but Grim’s body had been sitting on a dead man’s switch, triggering a massive explosion. Adrian’s quick reflexes protected the four of them from being blown up, and they staggered out of the crater. Hurrying to the car, they delayed long enough for Genevieve to check it for tampering or explosives, then they headed to Favian Church.
The church was heavily laced with Elder Signs and contained a Great Seal, so Lords of Air were not a threat there. Fr. Abrams was sympathetic to their cause and quite willing to shelter Emma and Ellis. Genevieve called her husband Graves, and he used the secret dimensional door between Favian Manor’s basement and Favian Church’s basement to join them. For safety’s sake. (Graves also planned to resume crushing Fr. Abrams at chess, announcing the order in which he would take pieces before the game began and winning anyway.)
The night was young; it was half past ten. Adrian and Genevieve returned Downtown, to the apartment building next to the Snakepit, where Li was prisoner. Adrian levitated them up to the roof. He used his magical shapeshifting armor to give himself an impressive black wizard garb. Then he magically stealthed into the building, taking out the two guards protecting Li. He invited her to escape with him, and she was impressed by his garb and ability. Stepping out a window with her, he levitated down to the street.
Genevieve would protect Li while Adrian would rescue her grandfather, Breathman. Genevieve put all four of them on the psychic tac net, and Li said she was impressed with the wizard, and thought he maybe worked for the president. She switched over to Chinese and noted that these people were allies of the Gray Ghost, her gift told her that. Adrian, able to understand and speak all human languages, found that interesting. Breathman asked who he owed a favor to for this, and Adrian replied, Genevieve Malone.
Using his magical stealth, he entered the club unseen and slid into the defended back hallway, through the secret door, and down to the basement. He used magic to knock out the two guards and open the door, and he took Breathman back up to the back of the building and magically stepped them both through the solid wall, leaving no trace of their exit.
Breathman and Li were delighted to be together again. Breathman told Genevieve and Adrian that Webmaster would hit the Vesterman Building, Downtown, at midnight; in about half an hour. Then Genevieve gave them cab fare, and they disappeared into the city.
Sgt. Gorman had to be careful because when they approached Webmaster on a previous heist he saw them coming and vanished. He had to have a small, fast-moving presence, but to catch Webmaster, he had to know exactly where and when he was acting. Genevieve called him and told him to get in position, fast. Then she and Adrian drove to the area of the Vesterman Building to intercept.
Genevieve found him telepathically. He was dressed as a cabbie, driving the grid around the building looking for suspicious cop-like loitering vehicles and such. She observed as he parked in an alley, and used a pre-set counterweight pully to zip up to the roof of a 35 story building near the target. He jumped off the roof, using a dissolving parachute to glide over to the roof of the 25 story building target. Then he was in.
Adrian flew up to his entry point carrying Genevieve, using his magical cloak. As they stealthed in, Genevieve heard Webmaster hissing a conversation with someone in the front desk, who told him cops were in the express elevator. Webmaster had paid off the local staff. He quickly packed, preparing to escape.
Adrian used magical stealth and caught him by surprise, knocking him out with magic before the cat burglar knew he was there. They checked the wall where he had been working; a bricked up dumbwaiter shaft. Adrian opened it with magic, and they found a shrink-wrapped stack of bearer bonds, and a briefcase full of property deeds. They left the bonds on Webmaster, and escaped with the briefcase before the cops showed up.
Maybe the case against the Webmaster would stick, but probably not; in any case, the Sidewinders were foiled for the time being.
After retrieving their loved ones from Favian Church, they considered the night’s events from the parlor in Favian Manor. Genevieve surveyed the briefcase deeds, and found that they were to properties in Settler–properties surrounding the Seertech reclamation plant. Interesting.