The Red Sun

The Recruitment Drive

Story 3, Session 2

After the encounter with the Red Emperors, Amatsukami Scions turned to the worship of the Titan Avatar Mikaboshi, they decided to head back to their hotel and take it easy.

Sightseeing the Imperial Palace together, they were all four surprised to learn that they couldn’t get nearby. As they neared the visitor’s area of the palace, each of them began suffering a horrible pressure headache, squeezing uncomfortably in on their heads. With no clue as to what was causing their pain, only the idea that maybe there was Divine interference here, they had no choice but to go, doing other things on their own as the days passed.

Getting acclimated to Tokyo, each had a different approach. Takashi dialed up Cynthia, deciding to take her out for a night on the town. Getting her from Yakuza protection for the night, they went to a restaurant she’d been eying. During the meal, however, a commercial came on, mentioning their good friend, Roth Foster.

The commercial was a recruitment drive advertisement. Getting the address and date while managing to still pay attention to his date, Cynthia hardly noticed his attention was divided. They went dancing, and Takashi went to take her back at the end of the night. Out of left field, on the doorstep, he asked her, “What would you think if I decided to join the Yakuza?” She had no answer for a second, and after a moment, she managed, “Are you sure you want to pay that price for our safety?”
He only answered with a cryptic “I hope you never know what price I pay.” She was uncomfortable, until Takashi finally told her that while he didn’t know what the future held, he definitely saw her there. With a kiss, they parted.

He also did some research on Foster and his recruitment drive, finding it wasn’t the first one he’d done, and decided to tell the others in a bit.

In the meantime, Felicity, knowing Randal’s admiration of good construction, surprised him with a trip to the Rainbow Bridge spanning Tokyo Bay. They walked across it, then nearly shocked the life from him by transporting them to the top of one of the support beams hundreds of feet up. They talked up there for a bit, admiring the view of Tokyo, Randal stating that it wasn’t quite Chicago. She asked how he was adjusting so far, and he told her it was his first time out of the country. She replied, “Its my first time, too,” resulting in an awkward moment of silence. Finally, he asked to be taken down to the ground, stating he had something to show her.
They walked along the quiet streets for a moment until Randal found and collected enough scrap metal for what he wanted. Making sure nobody else was around, he used a lighter and his abilities to bolster fires, melted the metal, and carefully cooled it while shaping.
In a few moments, he had crafted a figure of himself and Felicity, holding hands. Touched, she kissed him, and they headed back.

Thurston decided to concentrate on less personal and more professional goals. He dialed up Stan, and was pleasantly surprised to find that he’d already arranged for a small engagement at a theatre in Tokyo. After back and forth banter on whether or not Thurston would jump country lines on him again, he hung up on Stan, as usual. After a second, he got the address and time in a text message, and prepared to spiff himself up.
Inviting his band, Takashi brought Cynthia along as well for Thurston’s performance.
Thurston milked the crowd with his usual panache, showing off and driving his Japanese fans crazy. Just as he prepared his big finish, the trick involving swinging on a harness to transport from one side-by-side door to another, the doors of the theatre swung open.

In strode a tall man with skin the color of ebony, and eyes like onyx stones. His hair was long and pale, and he was clearly otherworldly. The people in the audience obviously didn’t see him for what he actually was, a being from a race of Aesir Titanspawn.

He formally challenged Thurston to a duel of magic, to continue until they ran out of tricks or the audience found one unworthy. Thurston, of course, accepted.

He started with a new trick, taking advantage of his new bandoleer’s ability to simply spawn knives into his hands. Using one of his two doors, he began by throwing knives while talking about how he’d gotten his start as a magician.
“And as more people saw my magic…they started wanting proof.” THUNK.
He removed his jacket. Throwing a few more knives, he continued talking until finally he was shirtless onstage, throwing knives that appeared in his hands from nowhere. The audience went crazy, and it was his challenger’s turn.

Waving his hands around in a rhythmic pattern, he conjured an orb of air and energy, shooting it upwards. From the center of it burst a crow, which Thurston was surprised to note had only one eye. It alighted on the man’s arm, and the crowd applauded in awe. With a raised eyebrow and an “Impressive,” he readied his next trick…for which he wanted Randal.

Playing up looking for a ‘volunteer,’ Thurston selected Randal when he saw him raise his hand. Bringing him onstage and having him remove some of his more irreplaceable clothing, Thurston showed off a bit before lighting Randal on fire with vodka. One again burning for the sake of Thurston’s magic, Randal took it in stride, and was out and perfectly fine, much to the awe of his onlookers. Thurston bowed, and ceded the stage to his challenger.

The dark man set the crow flying again while he pulled out a small board. He began unfolding the board, impossibly beyond what it physically could, until he had a coffin-shaped box. Laying it down, he called the crow back and settled it inside of the box. With an dark chant and a firm thud on the lid of the box, he lifted the lid. Out stepped what Thurston could swear was his missing father, Odin. The eye however, was dead and glassy, and this before him was clearly a copy.

Keeping his cool, Thurston called for another ‘volunteer,’ this time requiring Felicity. She raised her hand and was brought onstage. Borrowing the coffin box, he did his flashy magician bit for a second, spinning her into the box and slamming the lid shut. Opening it a split second later, she was gone. She’d gone invisible and subsequently shadowstepped up to the spot booth, and after the applause from her disappearance subsided, Thurston pointed up to the booth, where she tapped on the glass and waved.

The challenger’s turn had him settle his copy of Odin on his back, waving his hands over him and slowly levitating him. Running his hands all around to prove there were no wires, dozens of little bits of cloth began flying around the auditorium, shocking the audience. The cloths flew around and finally began to coalesce around the facsimile of Odin, solidifying into a single large sheet covering the whole body. With a firm downward stroke with both his arms, the dark man slammed through the cloth, revealing the disappearance of the fake Odin.
The audience cheered soundly.

Thurston applauded politely, and quipped “Now, unlike you, I can finish a trick and bring my volunteer back.”
The challenger responded cooly with, “Well, I suppose bringing him back is YOUR job.”

Raising an eyebrow, Thurston began his next ‘trick.’ Borrowing the sheet, he twirled it with a schoolgirl volunteer and Felicity shadowstepped back onto stage with the shadow the sheet created. Polite applause, and Thurston said “No, that wasn’t the trick. I just needed her back onstage.”
Gathering more young lady volunteers, he had each of them take a corner of the sheet and hold it over Felicity. A few flourishes on Thurston’s part, and she shadowstep-swapped places with Bubastis. The audience saw the cat, and he picked her up and showed her off to the audience, finally placing her under the sheet once more. Once the sheet was in place, Thurston pricked up the middle of the sheet while Felicity, offstage, prayed with her ring to make Bubastis into her black lioness self. The audience was in awe of the large cat roaring onstage, and with a flourish, he swished the sheet around again, and Felicity swapped places again with Bubastis. The audience went absolutely nuts.

The dark challenger bowed, conceding gracefully. He offered Thurston a white gold ring engraved with countless runes. It was freezing cold to the touch. With one final flourish, Thurston accepted it and made it disappear in the same motion.

His show a success, the four of them went out to celebrate by getting hammered at a bar, even Randal managing to imbibe enough to get thoroughly hammered. As they staggered back, they were stopped by a small group of mortal muggers. Thurston tried to simply talk them down (while trying to talk Felicity out of just jumping them, finding the idea of four men living with getting whomped on by one tiny woman infinitely amusing), but Randal caught wind of the ‘trouble’ when Thurston finally just smacked one of them unconscious with his cane.
He spawned every last one of the Danny’s Boys in his confusion, and before the others could stop him, the other three muggers were gone, taken wherever the Danny’s Boys went whenever they weren’t near. Randal slumped back into his drunken stupor, and they carted him back to the hotel so all of them could have a proper hangover in the morning.

Takashi, not having been as hammered, was fine in the morning and gave them a wakeup call with his information on Roth Foster’s recruitment drive through the medallions. They groaned and rolled over, intent on ignoring him for at least three more hours. They recovered in due time, however, and got a plan together.

Felicity walked in, invisible, and Thurston would assume a fake identity by disguising himself with a new face. Randal and Takashi would have to make due with fake names.

The men had to sign in and give some information to the Flame to enter the convention hall at the hotel, and Felicity just trotted in, between a few guards wearing the signature tokens of the Jehovah’s Flame.

She dodged between various people looking for the answer to life in all the wrong places, and finally passed a door that said, “Employees Only.” She was about to push on through when she heard a familiar voice; Foster’s himself. Hearing him on a raised stage giving a sermon, she heard him extol his Four Virtues:
Honor Only the One True God
Never Take the Lord’s Name in Vain
Never Question Your Faith

and his Four Sins:
Obsession
Greed
Brutishness
Believing You Are Higher Than God

Thurston, in the meantime was working the crowd and finding the various movers and shakers in the Flame, interspersed between the every day curious church-goers. He managed to learn that Foster hit the ground running in Japan, running recruitment camps and setting up various charitable organizations with massive donations. He was quickly becoming a shining example of a man from the West, and was eagerly awaiting his summons to the Imperial Palace to have his religion formally recognized in Japan.
He also had a right hand man, only known as Mr. West. He handled all of the business aspects of the Jehovah’s Flame, though he didn’t appear to be a religious man, himself. He was pointed out to Thurston, standing off to the side of Foster’s stage, mopping his sweaty brow with a sponge. He appeared, by all intents and purposes, a fully mundane mortal who looked in over his head.

Thurston went up to introduce himself (in his disguise, of course) and get some information, using the bait of wanting to give a large, discreet donation as his conversation seed. He finally got a card with Mr. West’s information on it, and he jittered out that he was up at all hours, and to not hesitate to call him whenever.

Takashi got similar information on Foster’s movements in Japan, but was distracted by the communion taking place up front. The sickly, blind, and infirm were all drinking the wine…and being miraculously healed. Each of these people, however, had a slightly glassy, dead look to their eyes. Smelling a rat, Takashi telepathically instructed Felicity to get a hold of some of that wine.

She had, in fact, slipped into the Employee’s Only area and had just passed the men carrying the wine out to the communion not a few moments ago. Seeing the door still swinging shut behind them, she slipped in and went down a set of nearly-forgotten stairs. She finally came to a large bomb-shelter door, left over from Japan’s WWII days. Pressing her ear to the door, she heard loud, labored breathing.

At Bubastis’ urging, she opened the door. Inside lay an absolutely massive creature, covered in a thick scaly hide. It was gruesomely hooked up to a machine that seemed to be sucking its blood away from its body to be processed. There was a spout with a bucket beneath of it on the end. Disgusted, she flashed the image to the others to see if they could make heads or tails of the beast.

Takashi knew it to be a beast of Biblical legend, a creature that rampaged until a woman, a saint, had tamed it with her song and prayer. Taking it to a nearby town, the people feared it and attacked it. The creature was docile now, however, and didn’t fight back. It was murdered, and the people, who touched its blood, were turned into Christians by God and were made to see the horror they’d committed. The sainted woman lived in the town, now named for the beast, until the end of her days.

This creature, a rarity in its own right, had been captured by Foster and his congregants and made to bleed to turn these people into Jehovah’s Flame adherents. After much debate as to what to do with it, they finally decided that the only course of action would be to kill it, innocent though it was, and rob Foster of one of his precious tools of corruption.
Thurston would change his face again once it was dead and pretend to be a Red Emperor Scion, and make a public escape.
Felicity rubbed the symbol of the Red Emperors onto the wall in the creature’s blood, and stood to take a point blank shot at its head just as Randal joined her, having traveled through the earth to her location. Apologizing to the beast, she fired.

The shot bounced right off the pained creature’s head. It woke, and roared to shake the whole of the convention hall above. Foster and Mr. West disappeared the very next second.

Bursting into action, Felicity first ran up a wall and landed on its back as it tore free of the tubes siphoning its blood away, and she pressed the muzzle of her gun to one of the holes and fired, not seeming to do any damage. It tried to turn its head and bite at her, but couldn’t quite get to her.
Randal, in the next instant, however, took the beast over his head and crushed it with his bare hands, ending the creature’s misery in one strong crush.

They all escaped easily, Randal sinking into the earth, Felicity slinking out unseen, Takashi going with the crowd, and Thurston, disguised as a Scion of Raiden, bursting out publicly and shouting, “The Red Emperors will not tolerate you buying your way into the Emperor’s good graces!” and running for dear life. As Foster’s followers threatened to close in on him, he shot into the air, flying away.

They reconvened at the hotel. Randal had apparently landed into a sewer during his travel through the underground, but they were otherwise unscathed. With some confidence that they’d at least confused Foster and put him on guard against the agents of Mikaboshi, they decided to make that their main tactic for the time being.

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Mandolyn

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