Tim Wilbanks (Austin)
David Edelstein (Dallas)
Shazarian was Vapula's "man" in Austin, with a Role as Wendell Hollis, owner of the ISP Austix.net, until a Tether of Technology sprung up in the city, and Shazarian wasn't the first to notice it. Made to look derelict in his duties by his fellow Technologists, Shazarian went from being one of Vapula's favored Servitors to a likely career as a test subject overnight. Deciding he'd rather stay on Earth than wash test tubes in Tartarus for the next millenium, he went Renegade, and is now enlisting the help of Austin's angels to get back at his former colleagues.
With a role as a Russian physicist, Ariel was originally sent to Austin to monitor fusion research at UTA. However, when she and Marius met Shazarian and learned there was a new Tether of Technology in town, Jean reassigned her to pumping the Renegade for information, and learning as much as possible about the Tether.
Nicholas has a Role as Luke Fisher, freshman art student at UTA and part-time bouncer at a Sixth Street bar. Eli created him very recently, and apparently in a typically unorthodox manner, from the Forces of a slain human. He's been assigned to look after the local art students, and otherwise has received very little in the way of guidance. He is just starting to get to know the local angelic community.
Zephanael has a Role as a DEA agent named Sam, and was sent by Gabriel to Austin because she sensed there was something there that needed "burning."
Teague has yet to really be brought into the War, and so far only knows that strange things are happening at the ISP where he is currently freelancing. He is a loner, ex-military computer specialist who once attended Catholic seminary.
Most of the NPCs from Night Music are present in Austin. Here are some others who have shown up.
Jean's main agent in Austin until Ariel arrived. Marius has a Role as a researcher at UTA, and is primarily concerned with keeping fusion research from proceeding too far. He and Ariel are now assigned to "shepherding" the Renegade demon Shazarian and trying to find out about the new Tether of Technology.
Marygold is basically a gopher at the Tether of Flowers at Hippie Hollow. She has a human vessel.
After Shazarian went Renegade, Vapula sent another Servitor with an identical vessel to take over the Role. He is believed to be a Balseraph, but this is not known for sure yet.
The first game.
The game started with Ariel being briefed by Jean that she was needed to assist with suppressing mortal fusion research in Austin. Upon her arrival she met Marius, who advised her that his Vapulan counterpart, "Wendell Hollis," had been exhibiting strange behavior lately. Marius and Wendell had had an "understanding," since both wanted to suppress human fusion research, and neither wanted to escalate the War in Austin. However, Marius believed there had been some political infighting and that a new demon had replaced the old Wendell.
Ariel met with "Wendell," whom the Seraph determined sincerely believed that he was the same person who had been there for the past few years. This indicated that either Marius was mistaken, or that Wendell was a Balseraph.
Meanwhile, Jeffrey Teague, a Soldier who had not yet entered the War, had been hired to do some work for Austix.net, an ISP that unknown to him was actually a Vapulan front. While he was working there late at night, Shazarian, the original "Wendell," boldly entered the premises intending to reinstall the back doors that Jeffrey was removing. He noticed that Jeffrey had 6 Essence, suggesting that he was another celestial. Shazarian charmed the Soldier and proceeded to put all his back doors back in the system after letting Teague go home early.
Zephanael received instructions from Gabriel herself to get a transfer to Austin, in order to punish a particularly cruel drug dealer. After learning that his target would be at a fraternity party, he arranged to go in wearing a wire (which he rigged in order to cut off the recording when he felt a need.) The disturbance caused by him bouncing the dealer off every available surface attracted the attention of Nicholas (who was there to help ensure that none of the art students that Eli assigned him to look after wound up doing something that would send them off the creative paths.) So when Nicholas saw someone being beaten severely, he resonated the one getting beaten first, and learned of all the acts of cruelty that he had inflicted on the people who bought drugs from him. He then resonated the one doing the beating, and when the most honorable act that he detected was punishing the cruel, decided that he must be looking at a servitor of Gabriel. He wrote his phone number on a napkin, then made the Ofanite pause beating up the drug dealer long enough to hand him the number. When they met the next evening, Nicholas revealed that he had only been recently created by Eli. Zephanael found it very strange that Eli had created a new Malakite and assigned him to babysitting a bunch of college students.
Jeffrey Teague went in to finish up his contract at Austix.net, and was accosted by a street preacher who called him out by name and warned him that he "walked in peril." He then pointed at the man Jeffrey was working for ("Wendell Hollis," in fact the new demon and not the one he had met the night before) and told him to beware.
Now thoroughly disconcerted, Teague went inside, only to have Wendell accuse him of not finishing the job and leaving security holes throughout the system. Teague quickly sensed that Wendell didn't even remember coming in the night before to work with him, and he fled Austix.net for his own office, not knowing what to make of these strange events.
Shazarian (who is still known to all the other PCs only as "Wendell") decided that he needed angelic help (and protection), so he paid a visit to Marius at his home. Marius agreed to go with Wendell "for a beer," after first calling Ariel and leaving his cell-phone on so she could listen to the conversation.
In the car, Shazarian told Marius that he had been replaced and that another demon of Technology was now using his old Role. Marius deduced that Shazarian had gone Renegade, and asked him what happened. Shazarian said that he had some information that could change the balance of the War in Austin, but he wanted resources and protection before he revealed it. Marius said he'd listen to Shazarian's demands, but wanted a Seraph present to hear his information. Shazarian reluctantly agreed, so they met Ariel at a bar.
With Ariel resonating him, Shazarian said that he was in disfavor with his Prince (i.e., had gone Renegade), and had valuable information for the angels. He demanded money, Essence, a new vessel, a Body Bag artifact to store it in, protection, and "diplomatic immunity." Marius said that they might be able to meet some of his demands, if his information was worth it.
Shazarian revealed that there was a new Tether of Technology in the city. This had the possibility of tilting the balance of power in Austin in Hell's favor. Marius conferred with Ariel, and agreed that this should be brought to Jean's attention personally. They told the demon they'd need to check with their Superior, since they couldn't authorize his demands themselves. He agreed to meet them later, and went to a public library to try hacking Austix.net through the back doors he'd installed the night before.
Meanwhile, Teague had returned to Austix.net and demanded to be paid for his work so he could end the contract. They refused, and Wendell came back down to show him all the reinstalled back doors. Baffled and upset, Teague started bringing them down again, and was cleaning the system when Shazarian hacked his way in.
Teague noticed this and summoned Wendell, who watched as Teague and Shazarian began dueling back and forth trying to establish and break connections, while Wendell sent taunting messages. Wendell loaded a Vaputech CD which tried to trace Shazarian's location, but he severed the connection.
Back at UTA, Nicholas heard that a student he knew named Tommy Nolan had apparently had a mental breakdown and been committed to a psych ward. He decided to investigate, and got as far as the hospital, but was balked by the psych ward nurse. So he went celestial and entered the room where Tommy was being kept. Tommy saw the angel's celestial form and freaked out violently, forcing orderlies to enter the room and restrain him. Nicholas heard Tommy say "Thomazz" repeatedly before he left.
Meanwhile, Ariel went to Houston to ascend to Heaven through the NASA Tether. She met with Archangel Jean and gave him the news. Jean commended her for discovering a new Tether so quickly on her new assignment, and told her that he would give her a vessel and Body Bag to take back to the Renegade. He also authorized them to "protect" the demon, so long as he behaved himself. Meanwhile, they were to pump him for all the information he had, while Jean prepared a Malakim strike force to destroy the Tether as soon as they had a better idea of its defenses.
Ariel returned to Austin, and she and Marius met with Shazarian again at Marius's house. They told the demon that Jean had agreed to supply a vessel and Body Bag, and that they would protect him as long as he stayed close to them and did not seek to actively corrupt humans. Shazarian inspected the vessel, saw that it was that of a six-year old boy, and was not terribly amused. Nonetheless, he told them everything he knew about the new Tether.
The Tether is at a medical research laboratory called Beecham Institute. College students frequently made some extra cash by volunteering for experiments there; apparently they were doing other things that had opened up a Tether to Tartarus. Shazarian knew little else about it, since his job had been setting up Austix.net. As far as he knew, there had been no diabolical activity there prior to the Tether's formation.
Ariel and Marius agreed that they would have to investigate further before Jean would be ready to send in his strike team. Shazarian reluctantly agreed to stay with them for the time being. He demanded that they secure his safety, and they offered to introduce him to the other angels in Austin at a weekly "sunrise coffee" that many attended. While waiting for dawn, Marius let Shazarian try hacking into Austix.net through his Elohite terminal (with both angels carefully watching everything the demon typed).
Teague and the other Wendell were both still at Austix.net, and detected the new hacking attempt. Wendell called someone who connected to the system from off-site and began trying to hack back at Shazarian. The VapuTech was blocked when they realized it was an Elohite terminal, and after a few more exchanges of insults, Shazarian logged off.
Ariel, Marius, and Shazarian went to the beauty salon run by Zara, a Cherub of Flowers, who hosted a weekly "sunrise service" for any angels who wanted to attend. Marygold, a Reliever of Flowers from the local Novalite Tether, the Old Guy, a Malakite of Laurence, and a Soldier of God were in attendance, as well as Nicholas, who came looking for help.
Ariel and Marius introduced "Wendell"/Shazarian, who caused some consternation among the angels, both because they had to put up with a demon, and by the news of a new Tether. "Luke"/Nicholas was recognized by Zara, who was very surprised that he was up and around. Apparently he had been badly injured in a battle with demons not long ago. When Luke related his experience with Tommy Nolan, Zara was even more surprised, and suspected that he was suffering from a head injury. She informed all present that Luke was a Soldier, not an angel! However, it was clear that whatever he had been before, Luke was now a Malakite. Apparently the mortal Luke had been soul-killed by a demon, but Archangel Eli used his Ethereal Forces to create a new angel with some of Luke's memories and personality.
Shazarian was particularly disturbed by this news, as the idea of a mortal being elevated to a celestial offended the demon. He was also disturbed when Nicholas smilingly revealed that he was a Malakite. . .
Zara recommended that Marius and Ariel take the Renegade to Hippie Hollow to inform the Seneschal, since he was the most powerful angel around. Nichalos accompanied the group, and Marygold drove them to the Tether. The Seneschal, "J.R. Reed," received the news of a new Tether and said that he would "increase security." He also probed Wendell for any signs that he might be interested in Redeeming, but at this time, the Renegade seems only interested in staying out of the clutches of the Game and his former Prince, and getting back at his ex-comrades whom he feels screwed him over.
Jeffrey Teague finished his job at Austix.net. He met a new person accompanying Wendell Hollis: an attractive, dark-haired woman whom Wendell said is their new sales rep. Watching Hollis (cluelessly) inspect Teague's work, she claimed to know nothing about technical matters, but seemed amused by something.
Mr. Hollis said he was satisfied and sent Teague to Accounting to collect his check. After being paid, Teague called an old friend to get a contact to buy an unregistered firearm. He went to the bank to deposit the check from Austix.net, then went to the pawn shop his friend directed him to, where he bought a new Glock in the back room, along with an assortment of teflon and hollowpoint ammo. Then he went home to watch TV.
Driving back to Marius' house, Wendell mentioned the unusual mortal he had seen while skulking around the Austix.net offices the other night, someone he had hired earlier and thought was a mundane, but turned out to have more Essence than usual. He thought the man was either a Soldier or else a Servitor of the Game, with the latter being less likely. He also knew this person had copied the transmission the other "Wendell Hollis" had sent through port 666 from Austix.net. Ariel decided they should go talk to Mr. Teague immediately.
While driving there, Nicholas called Sam/Zephanael and asked if he could meet them at Teague's apartment and help them interrogate someone who might have important information. Sam agreed, and arrived at almost the same time the other four (Marius, Ariel, Nicholas, and Wendell) did.
Wendell did not want to go in and confront Teague if he was a Gamester, so Marius stayed with him in the car while Sam, Ariel and Nicholas knocked on Teague's door. Only Sam was in sight when Teague looked out, with his gun held behind his back. Sam showed Teague his DEA badge and asked to come in and talk to him. Meanwhile, Nicholas resonated on Teague, learning that in the past week he had fled, frightened, from his jobsite and almost left his job undone, and also that he had recently purchased a black market firearm. He also learned that Teague had dropped out of seminary due to a lack of faith, and that he was a diligent perfectionist on the job, and had worked with handicapped children.
Teague let Sam in, but then Ariel and Nicholas followed Sam inside, which alarmed Teague. He demanded to know who the other two were, and was not reassured when they admitted they had no badges, and Sam said they weren't working with him. Nicholas told him to put his gun away, which alarmed Teague more because he hadn't displayed the gun yet. Sam threatened to arrest Teague, Teague demanded they leave his apartment, the situation became more tense, and then Nicholas rushed the human.
Teague fired, and inflicted a grazing wound to the Malakite's side. Nicholas grabbed for the gun and the two of them struggled for it. Ariel told everyone to stop, but no one listened. As Teague and Nicholas continued to struggle, Nicholas sang the Celestial Song of Entropy, stunning Teague.
They took him outside, arguing about whether to put him in Sam's car and let the Ofanite take him to his office where he could question him and legitimately explain away the gunshot, or to Marius' house. Ariel was in favor of taking him to Marius house. Meanwhile, the Song wore off and Teague began struggling (especially when he saw Wendell in the back seat), with Ariel and Nicholas trying to wrestle him into the car. Wendell tried to Charm Teague, but the human resisted, so Wendell sang the Ethereal Song of Harmony instead. Sam, who was not affected, shoved Teague into Marius' car and then stayed to meet the police (as neighbors had called 911) while Marius drove back to his house.
En route, they tried to explain what was going on to Teague, but he was too freaked out. Ariel conjured her floating video display, which only spooked Teague more but failed to convince him anything they said was true. When they arrived in front of Marius' home, Nicholas decided to assume celestial form in front of Teague.
For his Perception roll, Teague rolled an Infernal Intervention.
Jeffrey Teague perceived Nicholas as an enormous bat-winged demon, 60 feet tail, breathing fire, looming over him like every demon that had haunted his nightmares for years. He completely freaked out, trying to claw his way out of the car. Ariel sang the Ethereal Song of Harmony to calm him again, and they dragged him inside. Ariel told Marius to tie Teague up, which he did.
They conferred about what to do with him. It appeared they had thoroughly botched things with the human, and he wasn't going to listen to them, but if he ran away, the Vapulans from Austix.net would track him down eventually. Nicholas called Zara, the Cherub Friend of Flowers, and asked if she could help him. Zara, after getting the gist of the situation, said that she or J. R. Reed would be willing to help, but only if they'd leave the human in their care; they wouldn't simply "calm him down" so the two Servitors of Lightning could more effectively interrogate him. Nicholas said he'd get back to her, as Sam arrived.
The conversation with Teague was going nowhere; even being told the literal truth, he didn't believe anything. Sam finally assumed the role (small-r) of a DEA agent and apologized for his treatment, and told Teague that he'd been the victim of a secret government drug, which explained all the hallucinations. Teague only halfway bought this explanation, but it calmed him somewhat as something more rational he could cling to. Sam untied Teague and said he was free to go, but asked him to stay and ask questions. The other angels left the room, and Sam gave Teague his gun and said he was free to go, or shoot him, or do anything he liked. Teague mulled the situation.