It’s late at night in an abandoned warehouse in Detroit, where Johnnie (played by Miguel) and his men step out of a car to meet up with Franco, his Puerto Rican supplier for drugs. Few people suspect that Johnnie is one of the Unchained, a Guardian who was once sent to protect this mob family for generations since the early days of the Prohibition until their intended extermination three decades ago. He’s taken on many names and many faces, always staying with the family, until the fateful time came for him to drive this family to extinction, the Angel realized that he’d grown far too attached. Rather than submit to his orders, he fought back, destroying the rival mob in the process of his Fall.
Now he was Johnnie, a capo in the ranks, always a follower. It wasn’t his nature to lead, that was someone else’s task.
Today was a routine transaction, one where he was just to purchase a shipment of drugs from Franco. The deal went without a hitch, though Johnnie had realized early on that Franco wanted something. Upon questioning, Franco revealed that he was hoping to get Johnnie to try out something new as part of his inventory. The Puerto Rican took out a syringe of a new drug, saying that it was brand new to the market, so much that it didn’t even have a name yet, but it was a guaranteed hit. Franco offered Johnnie a free case of the stuff to try and sell. It seemed like nothing was amiss so he took it.
It wasn’t until later that evening that Johnnie decided to give the drug a shot and see what it was about that he realized that something was wrong.
What began as the expected high escalated quickly, triggering a powerful flood of images and emotions as he found himself “plugged in” again to the God-Machine, subject once again to a fleeting glimpse of eternity.
It was several hours later that he came to, and he reached for his cellphone. The rest of the Ring would have to know about this.
It didn’t take long for him to contact the others. Alexander and Reina met him in one of the restaurants that served as a front for his family’s operations. They sat around a lone table in the corner, free to discuss their business as the place was closed and most other people were asleep. Alexander showed them the drug, and explained the situation and his experience with the drug. The three Unchained considered their options, even as Reina asked to touch the drug, hoping to use her Like I Built It Embed to discern information about it. She immediately was able to discern that it was made in a high-tech facility beyond that of a regular dirty operation of most manufacturers of recreational drugs. Furthermore, she was able to figure out its purpose… to subject users to the God-Machine, and trigger Stigmata.
That was a red flag for all of them. Stigmatics had the ability to see the workings of the God-Machine… and were capable of blowing their cover. The three decided that they had to take action.
The first order of business was to find out where Franco got his supply. Johnnie could set a meeting up with Franco, but they needed a reason for it. Alexander volunteered his ability to perform the Identity Theft Embed with conjunction to one of Reina’s contacts in Detroit’s Art World to pose as a buyer.
Reina called Marcie, her long-suffering personal assistant to arrange for things. It didn’t take long for them to book a private gallery viewing of one of Reina’s least favorite people, an overly pompous individual named Michael. It was a simple operation, Reina brought Alexander, who was posing as a buyer and admirer of Michael’s art. A few drinks, some handshakes and pleasantries, and the two Demons were on their way to meet up with Johnnie again, who arranged for a meeting with Franco as well.
Reina stayed in the car while Alexander stepped out to rendezvous with Johnnie, his features shifting to that of Michael as he did so, temporarily stealing Michael’s identity for the purpose of the meeting. Franco was admittedly surprised at the nature of the meetup, and was initially suspicious at the idea of Johnnie introducing a high profile buyer to him on short notice, but the two Unchained managed to assuage his fears and asked to buy his remaining supply of the drug. Franco agreed to it, promising to get the stash from his place and to deliver it to Johnnie’s.
With the deal done, the Demons split up again, with Johnnie heading back to his restaurant to wait for Franco, while Alexander (who had now dropped Michael’s borrowed identity) joined Reina to tail the Puerto Rican. They followed him to his apartment building, tailing him (with a really good roll from Alexander’s player) to his door. They waited for him to recover the drugs and phone his supplier to let him know the good news before knocking him unconscious as he stepped out with Reina’s Knockout Punch Embed, designating his wakeup condition as “When we exit the apartment building”
With Franco unconscious, the two Unchained searched his apartment and checked his cellphone contacts, taking note of his most recent calls. With their snooping around done, they made it look like he’d tripped and fell, and hightailed it to Johnnie’s.
By the time Franco came to and made the delivery, Johnnie had the information he needed. The contact was Franco’s supplier, which he’d traced to be a cellphone registered to a local Pharmaceutical manufacturing laboratory that makes medicines for larger pharmaceutical companies to label. They bought Franco’s supply, making sure to keep it off the streets for now, and pondered their next move.
Alexander, Reina and Johnnie opted to case the company first, on a hunch that it was actually the infrastructure that was responsible for the production of the drug. They visited there under the guise of being “Safety Inspectors” from the “Regulatory Board” with the use of Johnnie’s Authorized Embed. It worked with the Secretary and the Guards, but they were called in to the CEO’s office, where they realized that the CEO was a Stigmatic, who was able to discern just what they were and was asking them to leave.
Alexander opted to negotiate here, figuring that the CEO had no interest in killing them and that they could at least pull back and reconsider their approach.
Outside, Reina noticed a car pulling over and a blonde woman who emanated Aether, and keyed her in as one of the Angels. Reina called the two, trying to warn them.
The woman entered the conference room, demanding that the two leave. “I’m not here to fight you two, but I am not afraid to defend this place.” she declared.
Johnnie weighed the option of fighting her right now, but Alexander advised caution, and the two left, leaving the Angel and the CEO.
This wasn’t the kind of confrontation that the Ring wanted. Not yet, anyway.
Alexander spent the next few weeks casing the CEO, figuring his life, his children and any other details that could serve to be compelling. The Ring had come up with a quick-and-dirty solution for now. Johnnie would lead his people to destroy the place with explosives. Reina and Alexander on the other hand, would be waiting in case any Angelic intervention would happen. The operation went without a hitch, until Johnnie located the infrastructure. The moment he tried to shoot at it, his bullets went awry, and the Angel materialized in her true form, ready to defend her charge in combat. Her fingers were tipped with syringes, and her wings resembled microscope slides layered in a prismatic array behind her.
Johnnie’s men fled from the sight of her, even as Johnnie opened fire at her form, knowing that he had to hold her off long enough for his backup to arrive. Alexander and Reina charged in the moment they realized that something big had happened. The fight was short, but involved a lot of gunfire to take the Angel down to unconsciousness. Reina wanted to behead the Angel, but the other Unchained insisted that the explosives would do the job. The three left the scene, and Johnnie pressed the detonator, demolishing the structure in a fiery conflagration.
Alexander was last seen visiting the CEO of the now factory-less company and offering him a pact, his position as a secret partner to some other companies, in exchange for a reversal of fortunes and his own branded company in his name.
The Angel’s body was not found, and the team wasn’t certain if she was dealt with permanently, or if she is still around. If she is, then Johnnie will have one more problem to worry about.
Reina received a phone call from her cover’s father, saying that her over-protective older brother was coming to Detroit to visit…
I had a great deal of fun running the game, and the players did a stellar job adapting to their characters. Everyone was learning the ropes, but given how inventive the players were with their Embeds, you would never have known that this was their first game.
Also, we started the game without having finished their Demonic Forms as of yet, so they didn’t get an opportunity to manifest their other powers, but the players were still okay. I expect that next week’s session will involve a bit of more high-powered antics as the players start manifesting the more incredible aspects of their Unchained Characters.