Sunday, August 14, 2016

M-Com Mission Report - Operation Zero Deva - Monster of the Week Campaign

The scene opens up with Thomas introducing Katkemat to the rest of the team resulting in Agent Sierzant commenting that he should be helping out rather than wandering off. Thomas protests that he found someone that could be useful. Katkemat notes that she was tracking a rogue shintoist, Kurata Hikozaemon, who was in league with Kublai Khan as she goes to look at the circle in the ground and begins to systematically take apart everything Mills had tried to put together. Kasper recognizes the name as one of the clients in the assassin's ledger from Operation Private Priest. 

The Ainu spiritualist recognizes that the circle was meant to create a barrier to protect people from temporal energies but that it gathered it up in great amounts so that when they went to close the rifts, Thomas's opposing energies and these twisted temporal energies collided and had a backlash resulting in the time jump. 

Katkemat also notes that she could easily reproduce the effect but would need a rift to work with. She had been tracking one when their messy closing of a rift along with time jumping drew her attention. It took her a couple of hours to recreate a tracking spell to find a rift within 20 ri (~50 miles), or, as she reports it, two-days travel to the south and west. To her confusion and consternation, Kasper and his team start talking about getting there in a couple of hours and talking about their carts. 

Arranging with Thomas to clear a path for them, the scout and mobile lab get moving, causing Katkemat to freak out as she tries to identify the magic that makes the vehicles go. Unfortunately, with Campbell in the mobile lab and Katkemat in the scout, there's nobody who can reasonably explain an internal combustion engine. The confusion and distraction makes it hard for her to concentrate on her tracking spell and ends up taking the team off course. By the time she notices, it is getting late in the day and they stop for her to recast the spell.

Katkemat declares that the rift is now about 15 miles away, getting close to when the noise from the vehicles might alert people to their approach. Kasper, in his normal charming manner, asks "Ketchup" just how long it takes to walk 15 miles. She responds that she doesn't understand what he's saying but feels that she's been insulted. "Would you rather be KitKat?" At which point Thomas says he'd like a KitKat and asks if anybody had any. After a little bit of searching, they uncover that the biologist, Dr. Richards, has a small stash of a large variety of KitKats including a lot of the exotic flavors from Japan: strawberry, green tea, apple pie and so on. Thomas protests at the existence of "green tea Kit Kat" as that's "like eating vegetables." And Katkemat asks what is wrong with that.

In the end, they decide to camp for the night and set guard shift schedules, though Squaddie Daley is primarily assigned to guard the Kazahkstani woman that had been the rage beast. She uses her mind control abilities helping focus it by tapping out the rhythm of the song Comfortably Numb with her left hand, a focus ritual she learned when she was identified as a psychic. The majority of the night passes easily, but in the early morning, Kasper sees the silhouette of an elephant sized insectile monster heading in the direction of where they had arrived in this time. 

Kasper alerts the team and takes a shot with his sniper rifle, drawing the monster's attention which speedily rushes in their direction. He gets one more shot off, but his un-enchanted rifle and bullets do little damage to the creature. He gets one more shot off at it, forcing it to a tree where Thomas leaps out to attack. The creature spits a line of diamonds out at the agent as it flutters into range of the Chosen who slashes it heavily. Katkemat attempts to summon a wind to crush the beast to the ground, but her active magic use does little bit attract the beast's attention toward her. Kasper and his team recognize the claws of the beast as one of those monsters that crystalized Valerio in Italy and were used by the assassin they dealt with at the time. 

Thomas darts in front of the charging beast, managing to defend the shaman but at the cost of being cut by the beast's primary talons. His skin starts to convert to crystal and he is distracted with having to focus on reversing and preventing the transformation from occurring as Katkemat summons a spirit to enhance Kasper's rifle. Unfortunately, the deflected monster rolls away from Thomas in Kasper's direction and the Professional is caught in the rolling mass of the monster. Fortunately, he isn't pricked by its claws so he doesn't begin to crystalize, but in his rush to get up after the fall and take a shot, his gun jams.

While Kasper clears his gun, Katkemat summons a cascade of tiny spider spirits which weave a great net over the monster and pinning it down to the ground. Thomas, back into the fight, leaps up and slashes along the monster's length dealing great damage as Katkemat continues to keep the monster held down. Under Kasper's orders, Daley, Price and he unleash a combined volley of gunfire. Most of the damage comes from his enchanted sniper rifle, but the attack leaves the monster nearly dead. 

The crystalline mantis-wasp spits diamonds at Daley, Price and Kasper before trying to hop away and flee the fight. One of its wings is damaged and it can only manage a pathetic sort of hopping flight before it is intercepted by Thomas who kills it. As it dies, the creature explodes showering everybody in sharp shards of crystal. "This is my college fund, right?" Thomas asks. To which Campbell responds "Oh, that's cute you think you're going to college." Thomas responded with "A boy can dream, can't he?"

Meanwhile some sounds from the debris of the monster catch Katkemat's attention and she moves over to find a small wolf puppy of white coat in the midst of the monster's remains. She immediately recognizes it as a reincarnated spirit of another one of her people, who descend from an ancient wolf god. Thomas asks for permission to pet the puppy and Katkemat announces "This is Shinriki. He is my brother. Or at least he was." She remembers that she had felt the death of her twin brother some weeks before and it was part of why she was so tense and reactive when she first encountered Thomas. This revelation dampens some of Thomas's interest. Mills comments "he was digested so much that only the god part remained" prompting Katkemat to glare at her and state "there is no human part or god part, there's just one part."

In the wake of the fight, the medical kits come out and the magicians start the healing spells. Unfortunately, several problems arise and while most of the wounds were healed, they still came out of the patching up rather rough. Thomas attempts to use his sword to focus on a healing spell drawing criticism from Katkemat who considers it foolish to use a sword for healing. He asks if she could teach him to be better and she responds that a child could teach him to be better.

Then, as they were already awake, it was decided that Kasper, Thomas and Katkemat would advance on the rift immediately as they were worried that someone might have noticed the monster's death. They reach a site overlooking a Mongol camp. They are in time to see the rogue shintoist pass into a rift and disappear. Kasper also notes the presence of eggs similar to those they found in their first operation as Katkemat notes a river bed they can use to approach and a section of woods which would make a good retreat.

In the final approach, Kasper manages to easily get a sniper perch but the matter is more touch and go for Katkemat and Thomas and fail to get the most ideal positions even if they do manage to get surprise. As he's discovered, Thomas attempts to get the Mongols to surrender, hoping not to have to kill them, but one of the Mongol's sneers and calls for them all to attack. This action draws Kasper's fire and that Mongol's head explodes as the the warriors surge forward into the slashing lengths of Thomas's whip sword. The sword lands in a circle around Thomas as tears stream down his face and he pleas once again for them to surrender and not make him have to kill more of them. Cowed by his presence and the mysterious explosion of their leader's head, they surrender their arms to him.

Katkemat meanwhile summons a boar out of their camp-fire and sends it to crush the eggs, however, some of the creatures hatch and start to fly into the sky. These she summons a spirit of frosty wind to deal with them, forcing them back to the ground where the boar an trample over them. Kasper walks over and demonstrates his sniper rifle for the mongols by wrapping up the few remaining blood-sucking stirge-like monsters. The mongols are disarmed and set aside.

Once the group reconnects with the team and brings the scout and lab over to the site, they create a doorway from the new rift and step through it into the Canadian wilderness not too far away from the site of their first operation. Surprisingly, they find that the old mine has some new owners as M-Com personnel are in the last steps of setting up a new base on the North American continent. After conferring with Katkemat, she confirms that while there are styles of magic that can change the timeline, they are very rare and these rifts do not use that sort of magic. Making contact with the local M-Com they're seeing, Kasper discovers that it has apparently only been a few minutes since they lost contact.

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