Run or Serve

End of the World as We Know It

Following the discovery of Ryder’s impairment, Waver got her out to the rest of the team. Not before she saw twin black pits in Herr Skulltenstein’s eye sockets, though… and everyone had some kind of opinion as to what that might mean. Waver decided to ask Lupinticus for help, but the advice he could give was to run. So far away. The skull was going to explode and open a rift in time and space, as Kaltenstein had seen the world of the Horrors while he was alive. Waver wasted no time in getting the skull out of the Arcanum, and Ryder checked out Goddy to make sure he was safe. Meanwhile, the Bull was snatched by Nyarlathotep. The god had little advice on how to stop the bomb, and simply wanted to see how the Bull was doing. Waver managed to attach the skull to the landing gear of a plane taking off from Seattle Airlines, and Ryder joined the Bull so Nyarlathotep could get a better look. The plane, unfortunately, flew east instead of west. Waver joined the group, and they all asked the god about Saeletra. She is very powerful and not supposed to contact humans. A few minutes later, the skull exploded somewhere over the Great Lakes. Niagara Falls was destroyed, as was most of the surrounding area. Nyarlathotep remarked that this meant the Great Old Ones, a more powerful type of Elder God, were able to walk the Earth. He deposited them in the library and ran.
The team started research on a ‘bas-relief’ Nyarlathotep had mentioned. He had listed it with the OZ as one of the few things capable of stopping an Elder God. Waver found references to it in Lovecraftian lore, but nothing else. It was last seen in Rhode Island over a century ago. Ryder felt something tap her shoulder, but nothing was there. Waver felt the same thing, and then the Bull. Ryder and Waver both flicked on their vision and saw a cat-girl standing behind the Bull. Ryder fawned as Waver asked her questions in Sperethiel. They determined she was Istasha, an Elder God. She didn’t know where she was or what the Matrix was, but she knew the names of the Chosen Ones. She gathered them up and scratched each of their chests, and the group was in a white void. She asked if that was everyone, and Waver told her about Peter and Watcher. She blinked away and returned with the others. Watcher was noticeably angry, but the Bull cut him off by asking Istasha what she planned to do with them. She responded that she didn’t know, but that they were chosen for a reason. It seemed better for them to be out of the way while the Great Old Ones were around. Cole swung his sword at the Elder God, but she caught it between two fingers. She smiled, and the OZ shattered in the minotaur’s hand.

Burning Down the House
Herr Kaltenstein

Peter came to Waver to talk about the Saeletra message the technomancer had found on FastJack’s commlink. Peter proceeded to gather up the team to talk about it, because this had world-altering ramifications. Sitting in a backroom of the Arcanum, they heard a knock at the door. Waver opened it to see a faceless man dressed in a dapper suit. He spoke in a German accent, and asked about hiring the runners for a job. They had to steal blueprints from an Ares warehouse, burn it to the ground, and make sure they weren’t seen. The Bull was wary of this, but the group dragged him along. Seeing several guards inside, they sneaked to a back entrance. The Bull convinced the security guarding the door to let him in through his fluency of Or’zet, and Waver made the other guards inside think some critters had gotten inside instead of a minotaur. He took the plans and left, allowing Waver to fire off a huge fireball inside the warehouse. It was cinders before too long. Waver did manage to grab a small box from the storage area, however, and opened it inside the car on the way home. It was filled with anthrax, and he promptly fell unconscious. Ryder threw the poison outside, and was knocked out herself. Getting them to the Arcanum quickly, the Bull explained what had happened to Herr Johnson. The man seemed to understand and gave them the payment. However, the Bull wouldn’t leave him alone about the whole ‘lack-of-face’ thing. Herr Johnson snapped his fingers, and the runners found themselves in a dark room.
Waver sustained a fireball to light the way, and saw they were in a large labyrinth. The walls were made of screaming faces and rent flesh made stone, and the passages seemed to move and shift with the movement of the group. Gravity changed as well, opening up new paths, until the runners came across a stone face that could talk. He called himself Goddy, and the group determined he was a paladin of the Fourth World. Waver pried him from the wall and tred to carry him out, but Herr Johnson appeared in front of them after a short while. He peeled off his ‘face’ to reveal himself as Kaltenstein, the Troll King and a great dragon. This place was his domain, the souls his hoard. He asked the group to leave, as the labyrinth had cauht their auras. They would become part of the maze once they died, they no longer needed to be there. Waver realized they were in a metaplane, and asked Kaltenstein how he had shaped it. The dragon lied, saying he had created it from his own thoughts. He offered to show the mage around, and sent the rest of the group back to Earth. Waver wasted no time in pulling his dragonbone wand on the beast, hitting him with a substantial flamethrower. Kaltenstein responded with a breath of flame which Waver barely dodged, and was hit by another flamethrower. He delivered the third prophecy, saying, “You think you can survive? Still, after all you’ve seen? This was only the beginning, there is still so much more to come.” The dragon’s skin sloughed off, and his skeleton was clearly visible. Waver took Kaltenstein’s skull and Goddy back to Earth.
Goddy, upon arrival on Earth, was transformed into a regular paladin again (complete with sword and armor). He has taken up semi-permanent residence at the Arcanum. Waver will take the time to mount the skull, with a plaque that says ‘Herr Skulltenstein’. However, while he and Ryder were cleaning off the skull, her Aurora-powered vision turned on, and she found she couldn’t turn it off…

Five Years Later...
Time heals all wounds

The Bull raised his family. Elsy moved out and joined the army, and Cole had a son with his wife. They live a comfortable suburban life.

Waver bought the Arcanum, an information hub for shadowrunners in the heart of downtown Seattle. It has a bar, library, Jackpoint hub, several magical lodges, a few fences, and rooms for anyone who needs them. He’s started using his skills to teach newcomers.

Peter has been training himself to fight S3-ER-V3-3O, and has spent his idle time researching the artifacts they uncovered from the museum. Upon hacking into FastJack’s personal commlink for fun, he’s discovered something…

Ryder aborted Lobon’s unborn child. She continued to run Tempest until several moles that rose high in the ranks destroyed the organization from the inside out. She’s now on the run with a few close friends and operatives.

And Watcher won the presidency. Twice. His first act of power was to enact a variant of Stand Your Ground: if anyone sees anything that isn’t a metahuman, they are allowed to empty their magazines into it (and then some). This was simply basic defense against the Horrors that were let loose, and his subsequent demeanor and actions have made him very popular with both the youth of the country and the NRA.

Unfinished Business

After hearing Peter’s tale, the group remarked upon his newly green eyes. Lobon turned his head at this comment, his own eyes green, and said, “Well, I guess that’s my cue.” The dragon dive-bombed and flipped over, dropping the team 4,000 feet in the air and flying away. Waver levitated everyone to safety, and they floated to DeeCee to control the damage. Buy the time they arrived, much of the city was destroyed. Waver astrally perceived to find the people still left alive, and the group helped rescue 290 civilians from the wreckage. At dusk, the runners reconvened on Pennsylvania Avenue to discuss the next course of action when the entire scene shifted. The group was in Hypnos’s amphitheater, and the Bull’s story was explained. The Lord of Dream was also revealed to be Oukranos, as he controlled the ‘stream of unconciousness’ of every sentient being. Leaving the Elder God’s domain, the Bull appeared to be very, very angry. Ryder attempted to comfort the Bull while the rest of the team explored the burbs. They found a car and rigged up a gun-mount, and used it as a way back to Chicago. Waver had remembered something.
Lupinticus greeted the runners in the library, and they privately asked him if he knew why the Unmortals would have attacked the location. The Outer God admitted he didn’t know, but helpfully pointed out that the corps that were bombed were the same ones that donated books. The runners set to work looking through the stacks of donations to try and find anything Lovecraftian. Waver stumbled upon the Necronomicon, a wholly evil book that forced itself into his hands. He began mindlessly chanting something in elderspeak, and the Bull knocked the book from his hands. Not, however, before everyone caught a snatch of what the mage was saying. Ryder realized that all the shadows in the world were watching her, literally, and Waver’s mind was shattered after the experience. His abilities were augmented beyond extremes, though, so the group wasn’t too worried. The Bull took the book and the team left.
They headed to the Tomb of Horrors to check out some unsolved mysteries. The Tomb was exactly as they had left it, sans flooding. They entered, and Peter entered the angel room for the first time. he recognized the feeling… it was a Resonance Realm, a sort of natural outgrowth of the Matrix. The team examined the room of stone circuitry, and Waver noticed they all led to the west wall. They coalesced into a large cylindrical indentation, and Waver postulated that the OZ might fit into the notch. Calling the academic Johnson, Peter determined that the OZ was on display at the American Museum of Natural History. Peter and Ryder staked out the museum during normal hours, and Watcher came by after closing to request a transfer of the magical artifacts. He got not only the OZ, but a dragon-bone wand, a bandolier of high-caliber bullets and an early twentieth century grenade launcher, a pair of small blades, and an icosahedron. These went to the Bull, Waver, Watcher, Ryder, and Peter respectively. Freshly armed, the team headed back to the Tomb. The Bull inserted the OZ, and the indentation transformed into a doorway to a massive room. Inside was a titanic sepulcher, with images of a great war between gods and men inscribed on the sides. Waver also found the words “The King in Yellow sees all” carved in Serethiel. The Bull opened the sepulcher, and saw the huge skeletal body of Acererak. Waver saw it too, and desperately wanted to touch the ruby standing in for the god-emperor’s eye. The Bull prevented him until the mage disenchanted the stone, and levitated the massive gem outside. Peter knew a good jeweler in Boston. Travelling there, the group received 2.5 million nuyen each for the sale. Content in their future, the group returned to Seattle.
On the way in to the city, Ryder noticed that all the lights behind them were out, and this outage was at a constant speed with the runners’ movements. Suddenly, claws wrapped around the car and Lobon dragged the group into the sky. He looked at Peter and ripped his door off, prompting the Bull to put his whole body over the elf to prevent him from falling. Ryder, however, saw that within Peter’s eyes were more eyes, eyes within eyes within eyes within eyes. She screamed and ineffectively shot the dragon. However, her shots made a purple scale fall off his body. The Bull stabbed Lobon with the OZ, and it seemed to burn him. Waver let loose a massively powerful acid stream on the weak spot, and the Bull slashed again. Lobon fell to the ground, dead, and Waver levitated everyone in the car. They watched as the dragon’s body disintegrated into a green light, and that light split. Half of it flew east, and the other half shifted to a purple light and was absorbed by the runners.
Once landing, the Bull confronted Waver. He remembered that his memory had been wiped, and the minotaur challenged the elf. Waver summoned the spirits of the dead girls in response… and they forgave Cole. They surrounded him, hugged him, praised him, and the Bull finally felt a sense of closure. He was still angry, but no longer murderous. He left the group, and Ryder followed. Things were simply getting too weird for her. Waver weighed his options, and resolved to use his newfound wealth for a good purpose. This left Watcher to go back on the campaign trail, and for Peter to return to his battles with S3-ER-V3-3O.

The Bull and the Mystery... Solo

After the bank incident, the Bull had a strange dream during the helicopter ride to Atlanta. He saw himself in a huge golden amphitheater. At one end is a large throne of ivory and onyx, and upon it sat a huge man. He welcomed the Bull to his realm, and introduced himself as Hypnos, Lord of Dream. Cole was gracious to his host and inquired as to why he was here, and Hypnos asked about what he knew about the Horrors. Cole instead told the Elder God that the Second World’s Nath-Horthath knew more about them than him. Hypnos summoned Lupinticus and questioned him instead as to the nature of the Horrors. Lupinticus refused to answer, spitting out an answer about how Hypnos ought to already know. The Outer God accused the Dreamlord of keeping them as pets, slaves, and cattle. The Bull turned on Hypnos, and the Elder God defended himself by claiming they have no sentient thoughts, and he only uses them for menial labour anyway. Lupinticus was banished, his memory of the encounter wiped, and Hypnos returned his attentions to the minotaur. The Bull was drafted (essentially against his will) to send any Horrors he finds back to this realm. He returned to his body in the helicopter abruptly.

Meanwhile, Peter had a very different experience after the bank. While he jacked in to find Billy, he found that he couldn’t jack out. He stayed in that state, jacked into the Matrix, for months. After a few days, he realized that ‘normal’ users couldn’t exactly see him. A few days after that, he compiled a sprite. That was a little surprising, but not as surprising as when he threaded his first complex form. He realized quickly that he was a technomancer, but S3-ER-V3-3O didn’t let him rest for long. The Horror had made a home in one of the subhosts of a little-known message board, and the Mystery accidentally stumbled upon his lair. After a disastrous battle, Peter spent the next few months training his abilities and tracking the Horror for another confrontation. Once S3-ER-V3-3O came into view, Peter readied himself for battle… and found himself in Nyarlathotep’s dreamscape.

Meeting Lobon
Horrors Unleashed

Calling their contacts to inform them as to the events of Innsmouth, the runners took Lupinticus’s advice and went for a drink. Also, high in the sky laid a gigantic cosmic eye, something that Lupinticus called the Eye of Hastur. The Bull took everyone to Potts’ bar, where Ryder attracted more than a little attention. As Waver watched, a young man introduced himself as Lobon and praised Ryder’s beauty. Smitten, the assassin followed the youth to his car. Upon inspection, she saw he had purple eyes and a tattoo on his hairline depicting a crown of ivy. After making love (while Waver watched), he revealed himself as a dragon. He called himself a chosen one, and the confused Ryder set him straight. She explained all that had happened to them, and what he really was. In response, the dragon offered her a piece of bread that would make her feel better. Giddy with his newfound knowledge, Lobon didn’t notice when the Eye of Hastur looked at him. At the same moment, a bolt of lightning crashed down and delivered a Horror to the runners. It let loose a fireball that should have killed them all, but instead stopped in midair and froze the beast. The Bull and Waver took the opportunity to kill it, and Lobon was returned immediately. The dragon was a bit addled before the team explained what had happened. Ryder noticed herself becoming a little lightheaded, and Lobon revealed that it was psyche. He had gotten it from a warehouse he owned a few months back… and Waver had to wipe the Bull’s memories to keep the minotaur from murdering another Outer God. They got a call from Watcher, screaming something about things coming out of Dunkelzahn’s Rift in DeeCee, and they all climbed aboard the dragon to make it there quickly. Once safely in the air, the group found themselves in Nyarlathotep’s dreamscape once more. He scolded them for killing so many Outer Gods, and explained that the Elder Gods were coming. He would try and battle Hastur, but the two weren’t exactly on even footing. Waver used this opportunity to ask a few questions and get a better idea of what they were up against. Nyarlathotep, before he left, brought Peter and Watcher into the dreamscape and set them onto the dragon as well. Now the runners are on their way to DeeCee, and they have half a mind to confront Peter about his absence…

The Outer Gods
Hi, my name's Lupinticus.

The runners go to Chicago and check out the Great Library, newly rebuilt with significant donations from Saeder-Krupp, Shiawase, and Aztechnology. Once there, they warned the receptionist about the oncoming Unmortals. He waved them back to the manager, who revealed himself as Lupinticus. Thoroughly confused with the whole situation, the runners had a lengthy conversation wherein Lupinticus explained that he survived through a plane-shift to the city of Celephais, where he fought the Horrors. He told that Nyarlathotep had come to him and explained that he was Nath-Horthath, an Outer God, and there are seven of these Outer Gods in each age of magic. Lupinticus also confirmed that the runners had met two other Outer Gods. Marcus LeMont was also Karakal, the original elf. Carlos “The Danger” Danger was also Zo-Kalar, the god of life and death. He also confided in Ryder that her mother was the modern incarnation of Nath-Horthath. He had begun to look for Hagarg-Ryonis before the runners told him that Dunkelzahn matched his descriptions. He also couldn’t find Lobon and Oukranos, two Outer Gods that also walk the Earth. When hearing about the Unmortals, he quickly concluded that they were being led by Tamash, an Outer God who can grant immortality to his followers. Their line of questioning was interrupted by a headache on the part of the god, a sign that a few Outer Gods were closing in together. Thanking the Outer God, the runners left for Seattle.

Calling Kortos during a refueling period, they told her everything (including her position as this World’s Nath-Horthath). Unfortunately, she had worse news. The Unmortals were in Seattle, and there were several explosions in the skyline. By the time they landed, Kortos delivered the news that Marcus had the word ‘Innsmouth’ carved into his chest. Also, the regional headquarters for Saeder-Krupp, Aztechnology, and Shiawase were destroyed.

Travelling to the small Massachusetts town of Innsmouth, the Bull successfully landed the chopper in a bout of sudden turbulence. They walked through the forest for a mile until reaching the Matrix-less town. Waver found Carlos’s astral beacon in the town hall, and Ryder picked the large lock on the door. The Bull knocked out the guard in the immediate vicinity, and Waver levitated the whole team down the creaky set of wooden stairs. They saw a dark altar when they landed, with a small semicircle of robed, hooded cultists chanting loudly. Surprising them all, Waver threw a massive fireball. As the ash fell, the runners found themselves thrown against the wall by an unseen force. Walking through a side door, Tamash offered them a chance to join his congregation. At each refusal, he took a few drops of blood and flicked them onto the dark altar. He gave the second prophecy, saying, “Magic, Matrix, all the earth will tremble when they arrive. When he arrives. None will live but those who believe.” As the final drops of blood hit the altar, a large rift opened and strange ethereal words streamed forth. Tamash looked forth in horror, said, “Oh. I see,” and put a bullet in his brain. The force holding the runners disappeared, and the rift closed. The runners absorbed the light that was released by Carlos and Marcus, and returned home to see what they could figure out about this new world of Outer Gods.

Rooftops and Bank Heists
Carlos is Back

After six months away, the team was called together again by Kortos and Watcher. Kortos delivered the unfortunate news that there was a Horror on Earth, she released it, and it was in the Matrix. It passed through when the tribomb hit, and has been weakening the infrastructure ever since. However, Watcher had a more pressing concern. He had lost the key to his personal bank vault in a poker game, and needed the runners to get it back. They agreed reluctantly, and reconnected on the way from New York to Seattle.
Scoping out the bank and surrounding area, Waver found an astral beacon linked to Carlos “The Danger” Danger, now a vampire. He was walking with several other men, notably a lean elf, masked man, and weakened human. Waver told the team about what to expect, and they waited. After dusk passed, they heard the distinct sound of chopper blades approaching. The men were rappelling onto the roof of the bank. The Bull saw Carlos jump down, and blew him away with a full blast from his machine gun. Carlos fell, perforated, through the roof. Ryder hit the elf in the helicopter with a crossbow bolt, and Waver finished him with a stream of acid. However, instead of simply dying, the elf disappeared and left his clothes and gear in a heap. The masked man tried to sneak up on the Bull from the ground, and received a combat axe to the head for his troubles, also disappearing. Ryder hit another guy with a bolt, causing him to melt away, and Waver saw the same thing when he tried to control the thoughts of the chopper pilot. However, when the pilot melted, the helicopter continued to fly. The attached railgun swiveled towards the mage and fired, letting loose a deadly volley. Waver was surrounded by the purple light in blinding intensity and his life was restored, but he found the light would not fade astrally. Now, he was an astral beacon. The helicopter crashed into the roof of the bank, obliterating it.
Having had enough of this, the Bull entered the bank to confront Carlos. The shaman was perfectly friendly, and asked to be killed so he could rejoin his friends. He wasn’t speaking metaphorically, either. He was part of a gang called the Unmortals, and they’re whisked away somewhere safe when they would otherwise die. The Bull was more than happy to fulfill his request. Just then, the lights faded and shut down, and the team found their wireless weapons were useless. Carlos had mentioned ‘Billy’, and Peter quickly determined Billy to be a powerful technomancer. Peter descended to the vaults as Ryder and the Bull felt their nervous systems shut down, and he saw the technomancer disappear after he shot the frail man in the head.
Returning topside, the team received another message from Watcher, claiming they would get a hefty bonus if they could retrieve the dog tags from each of the bodies. They did so, and found a strange pattern on the edges. They locked together, and on the back they could determine a set of coordinates. These coordinates matched those of the Great Library in Chicago.

Tir na nOg
Ending Wars

The runners lost three weeks to upgrades before taking on the Red Queen. They created their plans, scoped out the various possible houses, and bought the necessary gear. It started with the theft of a cargo plane from a Tir Tairngire military base. The plane needed to stop to refuel in New York, but made it the rest of the way to Tir na nOg. Once there, Ryder disguised herself as the Red Queen and found out where Kortos would be spending the night. After a lengthy stake-out, the team assassinated the guards on the perimeter of the building silently. They then set up a total of fourteen rockets on the first and second floor. The Bull fired a final one to set off a chain reaction that collapsed the entire house. Out of the flames and smoke, however, stood Llewellyn Kortos, clad in glowing green armor. The Bull hesitated, but Watcher wasted no time in putting a bullet into her chest. Ryder ran close and let off a crossbow bolt, but it bounced off the thick armor. Kortos yelled out before Waver could let his spell off, asking for parley. She floated closer to the group and asked what they were doing. When Waver explained their mission from the Court, she offered a deal: let her live, and they would find Marcus and the hand. Ryder and Waver were more than a little wary about double-crossing a dragon (revealing Lofwyr’s identity to the rest of the group in the process). The Bull made a counter-offer of killing her then and there. When the Red Queen showed confusion as to why anyone wanted to kill her in the first place, the group explained that her plans had actually weakened the Matrix, the last line of defence against the Horrors. Overcome with guilt, Kortos pleaded that she wanted to die. Instead, Waver offered her a chance to redeem herself. She could stop the war, tell them about Marcus and the hand, and fake her death, all in exchange for researching what she had done to the Matrix and passing the information along. She agreed.
Travelling across a pond to Marcus’s location, they found him easily. The guards let them in, and Marcus invited them into his room. He greeted them with his hand aflame, and said that he had extracted the light from the hand while he was playing with it. Angry, Waver knocked him out with a stunbolt. Reading the unconscious general’s mind, he saw that Marcus had eaten the hand and was happily surprised to find himself Awakened. The Bull cut off Marcus’s hand (twice) and blinded him as retribution. The group refueled and flew back to Seattle. They told the Court the job was done, and Lofwyr sent them on their way.
Twenty-three weeks pass. Jobs become smaller and more scarce. The full team just isn’t necessary anymore, and the runners each go their separate ways. Waver works small jobs to fund his dreams. Ryder is busy with her organization. The Bull is working with his family. Peter is doing some small-time hacking to pay off his manservant’s lifestyle. And Watcher has his eyes set on a larger prize…

Escape from Tir Tairngire

The Bull woke in a white room. Ryder, Peter, Waver, and Watcher were all unconscious around him, and each slowly woke as he searched for a way out. Waver projected himself outside to try and find the group’s stolen gear. He killed two enemy mages on the way, and discovered both the location of the gear and the keycode to unlock his cell. Appearing before the cell’s guards, he tried to convince them that the runners had escaped. The guard didn’t believe the story, and Waver killed him. The other guard, fearing for his life, unlocked the door. Running through the complex, Watcher used the dead guard’s pistol to kill the mages’ partners, and the group reclaimed their loot. They ran down to the lobby and killed the receptionist (who was blocking the exit) before escaping. Gunfire followed them, but they made it to their vehicles in time. They passed through the border crossing with ease, and the purple light restored Ryder’s sight.
Upon entering Seattle, the group received a message telling them to head to the Corporate Court immediately. During the drive, they decided to confirm the run with FastJack and receive their payment. They relayed the information they learned to him in the Matrix, and he seemed pleased. Then his form glitched out and became a monstrous humanoid. He revealed himself as the Crawling Chaos, and Waver remembered an old story he had read that used that name. The Crawling Chaos was a moniker for Nyarlathotep, one of the more powerful entities in the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft. Nyarlathotep explained much and more about the Horrors, and alluded to a force even more powerful than them.
Arriving at the Corporate Court, the runners were let in without a wait. The Court looked the same, except a blue-skinned man sat in Saeder-Krupp’s chair. Ryder instead saw a dragon where the man sat, and Waver recognized him as a dracoform. He set the runners upon the Red Queen, bidding them to kill her and LeMont. He told them she was holed up with the powerful families of Tir na nOg, and changed her location often. The runners left quickly to follow out his commands.


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