A mysterious call and a tempting offer
All four PCs (Giovanni, John, Sean, and Mark) are currently staying in Sean’s apartment above his shop; Giovanni and John recently came to Las Vegas and don’t have a place while Mark was driven out of his last place after a messy encounter with a spirit.
John gets a call on his cell phone from a number he doesn’t recognize. The caller offers to buy an artifact (a copper ring disc embedded into the back cover of a cursed bible John stole from an auction a few weeks ago). After some negotiations, the caller offers $60,000 for the ring disc on the condition that John leave town after the deal and not come back. John is skeptical, but agrees to at least meet him. The caller says to meet him tomorrow and gives the address to a shipping and receiving warehouse on the south-west edge of Las Vegas. The caller also says that he wants the ring disc but not the whole bible. Giovanni, Mark, and Sean all say they want to go and John agrees.
The cursed bible is currently locked up inside several boxes, each with protective sigils drawn by Mark (they’ve been able to neutralize the curse of the bible temporarily, but they can’t yet break the curse or get rid of the bible). Mark disables his sigils and they open the box and examine the bible; they find the embedded ring disc and see that they’d be able to remove it without difficulty.
Sean does some research on warehouse and also reaches out to his contacts to see if anyone is aware of any new groups in town buying up similar artifacts. He finds that the warehouse belongs to a restaurant supply company (“Harrison Hospitality Supply”) that recently went out of business. He also learns that a new group has come into Las Vegas in the last couple weeks and been making inquiries and purchases of rare artifacts; no one knows anything about the group, except that they aren’t from Las Vegas and that they first showed up a few weeks ago (about the same time as the auction where John and Giovanni stole the bible with the copper ring disc).
Mark, an experienced burglar from his early life, drives out to case the warehouse before the meeting. Twenty-four hour security guards still patrol the warehouse. Mark is able to pick out their routes and schedules and also to identify where the external cameras are located. He can’t see anything inside the warehouse without getting closer.
Meanwhile, back at Sean’s apartment, Giovanni examines the ring disc again, seeing if he can learn anything (they’d researched the bible before, but had never had any reason to single out the ring as anything but ornamentation on the bible). He isn’t able to learn anything new without an arcane library to research in. However, Sean does remember a homeless vagrant who came to him a few weeks ago with a similar smaller ring disc. The vagrant had tried to sell him the ring disc but when Sean would only offer $50, the vagrant laughed and told Sean that the time would come that he’d give everything he had for that ring disc. Sean brushed him off, but now he had to wonder.
As Mark is driving back to the apartment and Sean is finishing up his queries about the mysterious buyer, John gets another call from the buyer: The meeting has to be tonight, but in exchange the price is upped by $5,000 and throws in the keys to his car. John asks if he can bring the whole bible now and the caller agrees a brief hesitation, since the timeline was moved up with little warning.
It’s a beautiful night for multiple murders
The group drives out to the warehouse again in Mark’s old jeep (Mark is a practitioner and hasn’t gotten along with technology since he started learning his sigils a few years before). They stop a little ways away and Sean (who has extensive experience reading scenes) notices almost immediately that there are no guards. Mark points out that they were patrolling regularly only a couple hours before. All of the security guards’ cars are still there (so there hasn’t been a shift change and none of them have left) and the only new car is one matching the description the caller gave when he added turning over the keys of his car to the offer. John tries calling the buyer but gets no answer.
John and Mark go to check out inside the warehouse. Giovanni finds a good vantage point where he can cover the warehouse with his rifle. Sean stays in the car to keep it running (he’s not a fighter, preferring to have someone bigger to hide behind).
There are no sounds from the warehouse as they approach. As they get closer, they find the bodies of two guards; they’ve been strangled, but the there are no signs that they struggled against their strangler(s) and each of their faces is locked in a mask of terror. John has seen terror like that, though only in the visions he’s gleaned from some of his more disturbing psychometrical episodes. John won’t go into the warehouse: Partly because he’s nervous, but mostly because he knows himself well enough to know that he won’t be able to resist touching the guards and trying to get a read on them, but his visions came in the form of dramatic fits that can last up to a minute, which isn’t helpful for skulking around (this was a compel of John’s Trouble aspect). So Mark slips in alone.
The warehouse is a pretty typical working warehouse, mostly empty now that the occupant has gone out of business. Mark focuses on finding the room where the security camera feeds are viewed. He’s not worried about showing up on the cameras, since he knows one of his tattooed sigils protects him showing up clearly. He heads up some stairs to the second floor (just a landing with a couple rooms along one side of the warehouse). Another guard is dead at the top of the stairs, also strangled without any sign of struggle and with the same look of terror. Mark is shaken by the bodies, but forces himself to stay focused on the job at hand. Through the door to the left, he finds a room divided into a handful of cubicles and a glass wall overlooking the warehouse. At the end of the room is another room with the door ajar. Glowing lights, like from a monitor or TV, are coming from the room. Mark heads to the room and finds a fourth body still sitting in a chair in front of the security monitors. All the details are the same as the other bodies.
It’s clear that the surveillance systems are of a higher grade than is typical for this kind of location. Mark gingerly moves the chair back, trying not to dump the body onto the floor. Then he rewinds the various feeds and watches them in fast-forward to get the details. He keeps his emotions as calm as he can to keep from frying the computers. He’s usually alright as long as he doesn’t spend too long with electronics, but better safe than sorry.
He finds what he’s looking for about thirty minutes before they arrived at the warehouse (and about 30 minutes after the buyer called to reschedule). Here’s what he sees:
Two men in identical clothes (jeans, hooded sweatshirt, and sunglasses) walk onto different camera feeds (one in the main warehouse where Mark hasn’t searched yet and one at the entrance to the warehouse where Mark and John found the first bodies.
The intruder at the entrance stands staring at the two guards for about thirty seconds and the guards seem frozen by his stare. Then he walks forward and begins to choke one with a cord. The other guard just watches. Another identically dressed person enters the frame and begins to choke the other guard. They don’t struggle. The intruders enter the building and one continues up the stairs and the other enters the main part of the warehouse. The intruder going up the stairs kills the guard at the top of the stairs and from the evidence the guard in the room where Mark is sitting and watching the videos.
The second intruder in the main warehouse walks towards two men who aren’t security guards (most likely the buyer and a bodyguard). The bodyguard is frozen, presumably in terror, like the security guards killed by the other intruder, but the buyer reacts frantically, fighting back as the intruder strangles him. After the buyer is killed, the intruder strangles the bodyguard (who’s still not struggling).
Then both intruders leave.
There are no tapes; instead the video feeds are saved onto the computers. There is a flash drive on the desk, but mark doesn’t want to risk being the one to copy the files. He switches off the camera feeds, and then goes back out to where John is waiting. John still won’t go into the warehouse, so Mark asks him to get Sam or Giovanni to download the video feeds onto the flash drive. Then Mark goes back inside to check where the buyer was killed.
John gets Sean to go in after Giovanni agrees to go with him. John waits out with the rifle by the car while Giovanni and Sean go in and download the video feeds. Of all of them, Sean is probably least disturbed by the bodies; he’s cleaned up far messier in his line of work.
After starting the download, Sean and Giovanni wanders after mark into the main warehouse. They find the buyer and his bodyguard strangled just like in the security footage. Sean points out that the buyer was the only one that struggled, which Mark confirms. Mark fills them in on the rest of what he saw. The buyer dropped a cell phone and it’s blinking. Sean checks it (after putting on gloves) and sees that there’s a missed call and message from John: It’s confirmed that this is the buyer. They search him for any identification. They find a driver’s license with the name James Fendler and an unusual ring on his finger. The ring looks like a symbol or membership ring, so Sean take the ring to research later.
Now that they’ve confirmed no one else is in the building, John comes in. He decided to touch the body of the bodyguard first. This is what he sees through the bodyguard’s eyes:
The killer, dressed in jeans, hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses, is walking towards him. He is concerned, but that’s pushed aside by a hypnotic fascination and compulsions to know who or what this man is. To his side, his employer is struggling against the intruder, but he can’t do anything. Now that fascination is changing into abject terror.
…And John is hit by the whole force of the psychic assault himself, back in the present. He is knocked to the ground by it’s intensity and can do little more than whimper (he was hit by an attack of 9 against his defense of 0). His training and past experience (invoking two aspects with his one starting fate point and the fate point he got from his earlier compel) turn what could have been a mind-shattering assault into being shaken to his core, but still functional (a Minor consequence).
The group grabs the flash drive with the security footage and Sean dials 9-1-1 on the buyer’s phone and leaves it running for the police to track. They leave the warehouse in heavy silence broken only by John’s uneven breathing.
Waffles and planning for tomorrow
While they aren’t hungry, the group heads to a diner they know where they feel relatively safe. They pick at waffles while they talk gently and encouragingly to John until he feels a little more human. Then they head back to Sean’s apartment.
Once there, they go over what just happened and look more closely at the security footage (with Mark keeping a healthy distance). A more careful viewing doesn’t give much new information, but confirms what they’d seen or suspected.
The group discusses their options: They have a number of clues to what’s really going on.
- The vagrant who offered a similar ring disc to Sean earlier; they don’t know who he is or where he stays, but Sean has contacts and experience tracking down people.
- The buyer, James Fendler; they don’t recognize the symbol on the ring and they still don’t know anything about the group of buyers who came to town recently (and they don’t even know for sure if he’s connected with that group), but they have some options for tracking down answers.
- The ring disc itself; like the ring, they can’t learn anything more on their own, but Las Vegas is a major market for occult items and there are experts close at hand.
The most likely sources for information on the ring and on the ring disc are the Goblin Market or Alfonso Sabio, Steve Wynn’s expert and purchaser for art and artifacts (including occult objects). Alfonso doesn’t react well to having his time wasted and he’s, generally speaking, way above Sean in the artifacts business pecking order, but they decide he’s still a better bet than the dangerous Goblin market.
Sean takes pictures of both the ring and the ring disc and emailed them to Alfonso. Within 20 minutes Alfonso replies and invites Sean to meet with him. For a minor player like Sean, such a personally invitation is a very big deal.
The group discusses and they decide that Sean and Mark will meet with Alfonso to learn more about James’ ring and the copper ring disc he tried to buy, while John and Giovanni track down the homeless vagrant to see the other ring disc and learn what he knows.
After that, they went to bed. They have a full day ahead of them and they still don’t barely suspect just how truly dangerous a situation they’ve gotten themselves into.