Silicon Valley Slayage

Season Two Episode Guide


2.01 Giving Up the Ghost

(Aired Oct 8, 2004)

         The episode began in media res outside the Vampster offices at night. Dot, Max, Chip, Ifurita, and Roberta were chasing after a bunch of vampires who had been lurking about outside of Vampster, and there was the distinct possibility that they had seen too much -- such as learning that a Slayer lived there. They successfully dust them after a brief fight.

         Filling in what had happened over the summer -- Vampster was now a steady revenue stream from members paying for "Vampster Gold" as well as advertising. The CFO Diane McKenzie had several deals in the works with other companies interested in their user base. However, the company was also going through growing pains. They had a bunch of open reqs which needed to be filled, and they were forced to lease servers in external data centers because their own data center is full to the brim. In addition, there were security concerns -- as demonstrated by the latest vampire incursion at the offices. The "batcave" was well-stocked and more secure, but inertia being what it was still in Roberta's garage. So a hunt was underway for a new, more secure office location.

         The next day, they had an interview scheduled for 1PM with someone named Carlos trying for a software engineer position. [1] He had a double-major (Computer Science / Molecular Biology) from UC Berkeley, and was recently returned from several years of volunteer work for Doctors Without Borders in Africa. Max cyber-stalked him, and found that his doctor friend (Dr. Hans Stevin) was active in the occult. Meanwhile, Roberta put out feelers to various real-estate agents looking for suitable new headquarters. She heard of a real-estate agent named "Jagar" (pronounced "yagar") who would be perfect, but couldn't find any contact information for her. However, Drake heard through his contacts about Roberta's search -- and knew Miss Jagar from "way back". On his own, he talked to her, and persuaded her to take on Vampster's search.

         The interview went well. Carlos was grilled on a number of fronts, from his medical experience to his kung fu skills as well as his programming. Roberta told him that they'll get back to him soon, and he started out for his car. However, the others convinced her to call his cell phone while he is still stuck in the parking lot trying to start his decrepit car. As he came back in, Roberta made him an offer which he accepted.

         Some time later that afternoon, an old woman in a Rolls Royce drove up to the Vampster offices. Carlos let her in, and she went in to talk with Roberta. She introduced herself as Miss Jagar, and explained about Drake's referral and the property she wanted to show. It was currently owned by an old startup which she was assured by the owner was about to go under. Roberta didn't want to have anything to do with Drake, but she was interested in the property. They agreed to go see it the following morning. That evening, Drake went to meet a contact of his named Victor Roche who supposedly had some leads for him -- but instead he found himself attacked by zombies and just barely escaped. Meanwhile, Dot had gone off for an all-night slay-fest to deal with the nest who had tracked down the Vampster offices, and came in bruised and exhausted around 9 the next morning.

         Later that morning, Miss Jagar (who asked them to call her Barbara) came by again and the crew went to visit the place. It was in Mountain View, a few blocks from downtown. Driving there, Miss Jagar took six right turns around a block, stopped twice, and then turned into a previously-unnoticed entrance to an underground parking garage. They went up and talked with the current owner, Mrs. Silverton, who told them that her company, MythSoft, had just come under new ownership and may not be leaving after all. Ifurita tried to slip out to have a look at the place, but she was intercepted by the new owner, Victor Roche. He was a sleazy business type who immediately took an interest in her (both because of her hotness and her apparent lack of job-ness) and suggested she interview for a position. She flirted with him a bit and took his card.

         While driving back from the place, the crew spotted some body bags being taken out of a house. They asked Miss Jagar to briefly stop, taking down the address. Back at the office, they looked up the address, and found that it was the house of a hotshot programmer (uninvolved in the occult) and his wife. Ifurita decided to follow up on the interview offer -- calling up Roche who agreed to interview her that very night. She plans this as a distraction for Max, Dot, Chip, and Carlos to sneak into the place.

         Ifurita went in for her interview, and the others were following through the parking lot when Drake showed up. He filled them in on some background. He explained that Mrs. Silverton's late husband Joshua had been a necromancer who died five years ago, and Victor Roche was an evil being of some sort who dabbles in venture capital, but has no magical power to speak of. Even more alerted now, the others snuck in and looked around the office, while Iffy was being interviewed. They avoided the cubes, which sounded occupied by the typing even late at night. In the kitchen, they found a fridge full of formaldehyde. Meanwhile, Ifurita eventually insisted on seeing the working conditions of the workers. Roche reluctantly lead her to one of the cubes. She gasped a bit at seeing a zombie typing at the keyboard, and he then hit her over the back of the head with a lead paperweight.

         Now pissed off, Ifurita turned to fight -- and the others quickly rushed in to help, but zombies started coming from all over. Chip blew up a zombie with Ifurita's key, Dot took out a few more, and Max telekinetically threw a bat into two of them. Carlos also proved himself, rushing in to fight with the zombies attacking Ifurita, and Drake started hacking with a sword. Ifurita was fighting directly with Roche, who when pressed turned out to be an insect-like demon with four arms and a bad attitude. Finally, Ifurita disabled Roche with a kick to the groin, and Mrs. Silverton appeared in the elevator:

Chip: Aaah. There are zombies.
Mrs. Silverton: And you're killing them. Stop it. (to the zombies) Stop! Lay down!
The zombies complied with the order.

         As it turned out, the zombies had been around for at least a decade, carrying on the programming work for MythSoft after Mr. Silverton died. However, Mrs. Silverton insisted that she never let them leave the office and they hadn't harmed anyone. The Vampster crew then turned to Roche. Roche denied being a demon, even as his extra insect arms are sticking out through his suit. However, he eventually admits to using the zombies.

Dot: But why did you send them to kill?
Roche: These zombies are terrible programmers. They needed more brains.
He then tried to escape, and was summarily killed.

NOTES:

  1. Carlos was the player character of a new player to the group, Madeline.


2.02 Kali, The Power of Time

(Aired Oct 22, 2004)

         The episode began with Vampster preparing for its move to new offices. After getting a call in her cube, Dot went to Roberta to ask for vacation time with no notice -- noting that they now will have more secure offices and that Ifurita can cover for her in the violence department. Roberta granted her request. Dot then explained to Max that she had family issues which she had to attend to back in Aurora -- her home town in Illinois just west of Chicago. She was clearly covering up something over this, but Chip covered for her and Max let it pass. Just before she left, Dot went to Ifurita for a private talk. They at first chatted over Ifurita's identity, but then Dot started in:

Dot: I have to say, you're turning into exactly the kind of girl I was always afraid Chip would go out with.
Ifurita: You were always afraid Chip would go out with a post-human demon goddess?
Dot: Well, OK, not exactly. But look at you! You're living in someone else's garage. You don't have a car. You can't get a legal job. You're not even talking to your family.
Ifurita: Look, Dot, I would love to get an identity, but it raises a whole load of alarms when someone who was dead comes back among the living.
Continuing, Dot later half-heartedly apologized for her outburst, but the issue was still there. Later that day, Roberta got a call from Ms. Lauren Hargrove -- the mother of Andrea/Ifurita, who had worked with Vampster to do a Valentine's Day charity party several months earlier. Lauren invited Roberta over for dinner the following evening to talk about another fundraiser -- explaining that she was working more on international charities now, in particular Doctors Without Borders.

         Meanwhile, Carlos had gotten a call from his old employer and fellow volunteer, Dr. Hans Stevin -- whom he hadn't seen for months. They met for coffee at Dana Street, and Hans acted very suspiciously until he shook hands with Carlos. He then explained that he was trying to re-organize the Watchers, that there were probably two Slayers in the Bay area, and that he would like Carlos to join him. Hans went on about the Watcher's and their purpose -- which is to help the Slayers, but also to watch them. The Slayers' powers are demonic, and the danger of a rogue Slayer must be prepared for. Before he could go further, Kat and Ifurita walked into the store. Hans then politely introduced himself, but said nothing about what they were talking about earlier.

         At the new offices, Roberta was going through papers in her new office when a man walked in. He introduced himself as Josh Silverton, the former owner -- i.e. the dead necromancer. For a ghost, he was quite polite and explained to her that as the signing tenant she was now responsible for security. This made her the "Guardian of the Nexus", and gave her power over the dimensional nexus that the office was in. However, he was vague about what those powers were, though he mentioned interdimensional portals in the server room.

         That evening, Max found out about a mass grave which the police had discovered at a park in Palo Alto. She, Kat, Chip, and Ifurita immediately went down to investigate. Max hacked into the coroner's files, which pointed to a group of killers since the burials in a public spot required coordination. The victims had been killed over a 3 year period, but there was no apparent pattern to them. The four of them sneak past some bystanders and through the taped off section of the woods to the grave site itself. Upon seeing it, Max realized that this was the work of Thuggees -- a cult of killers from medieval India who worship the goddess Kali and kill travelers. Further, the grave indicated they were attempting a series of rituals to embody Kali on this plane. Following the scent of people there, Kat identified one of the onlookers as someone who had been to the gravesite. He was an otherwise unremarkable Indian man. Chip and Kat tailed him by motorcycle to a nearby warehouse district, but lost him after he parked his car in a warehouse and disappeared somewhere among them.

         The next day, Max and others investigated what this Kali-raising ritual was and how to stop it. Meanwhile, Roberta talked to Anton (i.e. her ex-boyfriend, FBI Special Agent Levier), warning him about the thuggee involvement. However, relations between them are cold, and he acts suspicious and anxious when she referred to the mass grave. Meanwhile, Chip was doing his own research by taking hallucinogenic drugs. He had a vision of an Indian girl turning into a blue-skinned, fanged demon.

         In the evening, Roberta goes to Lauren's party with Carlos. She invites Carlos, who is after all a Doctors-Without-Borders volunteer, but he arrives late due to his need to change. At the same time, Ifurita and Kat were staking out the warehouse district where the thuggee they followed had gone. At Lauren's party, she introduced Roberta to Dr. Stevin, along with a Mr. and Mrs. Gupta and their daughter Uma. During the various dinner-part chatting, Uma flirted a little with Carlos, who was shy and silent but still managed to look cute. Roberta and Lauren talked about relationships. Lauren was interested in Dr. Stevin, but wasn't sure and asked Roberta for advice.

         In the middle of the night, Ifurita and Kat spotted a big group of Indian men leaving from different points in the warehouse district. These were the thuggees, of course, who had been goaded into pushing their ritual plans ahead early since the grave was found. Ifurita was watching the cars from the sky, when she suddenly realized that they were headed for the area of Lauren's house (her/Andrea's mother). She immediately called Chip and Max at Vampster, who started down there on Chip's motorcycle, and also alerted Roberta, who in turn warned Carlos and Hans. Continuing to exhibit a certain paranoia, Hans turned out to be carrying several weapons, and he gave a knife to Carlos. About a dozen of the Indian men began to circle the house for some time in their cars, looking for parking spaces on the overcrowded Palo Alto streets. Preparing for them, Ifurita landed on the roof of the house, while Kat wandered the streets in werewolf form.

         When most of them had parked, the Thuggees subtlely surrounded the block, and a group of four attacked a passerby on the street -- trying to choke him with the traditional thuggee weapon, a weighted yellow cloth. Ifurita flew down to help while Kat charged, and they were joined shortly by Chip. Chip deftly drove his motorcycle onto the sidewalk and took out two of the thuggees. However, they then heard breaking glass and screams from the house, where the other Thuggees had just broken in. The house then became the scene of a large melee. Carlos gave Uma the knife he got from Hans, then joined in the fray himself when the intruders failed to attack Uma. Hans and Carlos held off a bunch of the Thuggees near the door, but one got past and attacked Roberta. Outside, Max took out a bunch of Thuggees with an overwhelming air blast spell, but unfortunately hit Ifurita in the process as well. A bit stunned, Ifurita flew through a window into the house to help defend, where she was attacked by her/Andrea's mother, Lauren -- who assumed that she was one of attackers. Ifurita carefully caught the Ming vase that Lauren threw at her, then watched horrified as her mother ran panicked from her into the kitchen.

         Chip then charged in the front door, and saw Uma with a knife. Recognizing her as the monster from his vision, he charges her. However, rather than turning into a monster, she screams fearfully and tries to fight him off. Meanwhile, Hans had gotten a beating from several of the Thuggees, but he was helped by Carlos. With her mother safe for the moment in the kitchen, Ifurita moved to defend Roberta, where she was joined by Kat who charged in the door in wolf form. Max then came in with her baseball bat to help Carlos and Hans. With Roberta protected, Ifurita opened the door to the kitchen to see Lauren along with Mr. and Mrs. Gupta there. Looking closely, though, she saw Mr. Gupta behind Lauren with a yellow cloth palmed in his hand. Incensed, she stalked in yelling and then hitting Mr. Gupta. However, Uma then ran to the kitchen door and called her to stop.

         Brought to civility, Ifurita then faced off with Mr. Gupta, violently accusing him while he protested his innocence. As they argued, however, a strange look came over Uma's eyes as she stood in the doorway holding the knife. Carlos and Chip both tried to snap her out of it, urging her to drop the knife, but she remained frozen. Suddenly, Mrs. Gupta spoke up and began encouraging Uma's transformation:

Mrs. Gupta: "Don't listen to them! Young lady, you were born to be more than just some mortal. We have higher expectations of you."
Uma slowly began to change, her skin turning white and then blue before their eyes. Carlos tried to talk to her, but she didn't seem to be listening. Impulsively, he stepped in front of her and kissed her on the lips. Suddenly his eyes widened in fear as he faced a vision of destructive female power -- but as he jerked back, Uma dropped the knife and returned to normal.

         Afterwards, they explain to Lauren what had happened, trying to carefully rationalize some of the events. Roberta said that Kat was her "Irish Wolfhound". Hans suddenly blurted out:

Hans: That isn't an Irish wolfhound. (catching look from Roberta) That's... a... rare Southern Irish wolfhound.
Eventually, Lauren was satisfied and thankful, and in fact was impressed with the admittedly scary-looking Southern Irish wolfhound. Roberta quietly confided her that Hans seems an acceptable match. And the Vampster crew headed home.

Best Line: Carlos' kiss.


2.03 Reality-Based

(Aired Nov 6, 2004)

         The episode began early on the Friday evening (after the election), with most of the Vampster crew gone for the day. Kat, who had arrived late that morning, was still at work around 6:30 or so. Laney dropped by Kat's cube, saying "I'm burnt out for the day. Do you want to go grab some coffee?" Kat agreed, but when they walked over to Dana Street Coffee, they found that it wasn't there. Not just closed -- literally disappeared. There was a laundry there, and after Kat sniffed around she found no scent of coffee or of people she knew.

         Kat then tried calling Max, but her cell phone was out of range and she just left a message. They checked a phone book next door and found that Dana Street Coffee wasn't listed. She then called Chip, who was out at Gaseous with Ifurita and Carlos. Kat explained to them the problem but Chip just responded "What coffee shop?" (NOTE: At the start, I had passed a brief note to the others that they had no memory of Dana Street Coffee.) They soon argued out over what this meant exactly, and whether Kat was nuts, and what kind of reality-altering demon would have a grudge against coffee shops. Eventually, Chip had to go on to his DJ gig while Ifurita and Carlos got more drunk. Kat and Laney went for coffee at Red Rock Coffee briefly, then headed back to Vampster to discuss it with Roberta.

         Kat was becoming increasingly worried over this. Roberta checked her phone books which had Dana Street Coffee listed. With Roberta on hand, they talked to Josh Silverton (their incorporeal facilities manager) who confirmed their suspicions that the new offices may have protected them from whatever magical effect went on outside. He also explained that as she got more familiar with the new offices, she should be able to exert more influence as the Nexus Guardian -- like controlling the lights, and allowing pizza deliveries in through the back entrance without undue confusion. He suggested that further, she should be able to open magical gates through doorways that would take her and others back to the Nexus; and that she could try to gate out, but it was unlikely to be accurate.

         Over pizza, Roberta, Kat, and Laney agreed to stay at Vampster overnight until this thing was resolved. In the meantime, Laney quietly had revealed that she had a secret identity as a blogger, "Crazy Jane". The blog was super popular, with thousands of hits and dozens of comments on many posts. She disguised the identity of her company and the overt supernatural bits, but put in translated versions of many events. She was a bit sheepish and commented that many things were, say, dramatized. As she said to Roberta: "Well, no one is really interested in reading about someone whose job is perfect. So I had to spice it up a bit." Roberta just glared and made mental notes to check out the archives.

         After Chip's DJing gig at Gaseous, Carlos was too drunk to drive after having traded shots with Ifurita (whose post-human metabolism could filter out alcohol). So Ifurita flew home while Chip gave Carlos a ride on his motorcycle, and Carlos crashed as his place on the couch. That night, Chip had a strange nightmare that he was sitting at a desk with Laney, and there was a conservatively-dressed blonde-haired man sitting across from him. Everyone was arguing, and then there was a slashing sound, and though he didn't see a weapon, Chip thought his hand was cut off. He held it up and it looked fine but he couldn't feel anything. The same night, Roberta (sleeping at her office) had a very similar dream, where the same man was arguing across a desk with Laney and then there was a series of horrible slashing sounds, though no blood or injuries appeared.

         The next morning, the three party-goers headed back to Vampster. Chip and Carlos stopped for coffee at Red Rock Coffee. Chip then gave a bit of a warning to Carlos, guiding him not to say much about crashing there because Ifurita was jealous and had something of a temper. Unfortunately, as he was doing this, Ifurita was coming into the coffee shop and overheard. This quickly escalated into a fight between the two which continued as they headed to work. They then had a loud break-up in front of the Vampster office doors, with Carlos quickly slipping off to a quiet place.

         Laney then talked to Chip, saying "I thought you two already broke up. You know, at Dana Street Coffee last night." Realizing that he had no memory of this, she explained that she had been at Dana Street Coffee when Ifurita and he had broken up Thursday night. Apparently, when she said something about being jealous, Chip had told her that one could just get over jealousy and referred her to some website. She then slapped him without thinking and sent him flying. All this, of course, was news to both Chip and Ifurita who didn't remember Dana Street Coffee even existing.

         At this point, Kat brought up that they really had to call Max to bring it on. Carlos responded "Who?" Suddenly it became apparent that none of Carlos, Ifurita, or Chip remembered who Max was. (NOTE: Again, I had passed a note a while earlier telling the three that they didn't remember Max.) Though Kat could show lots of stuff of her in the office, they still had no recognition. Her cell number was now out of service. Suddenly the search took on new urgency. Chip decided to call Dot out in Aurora. She, too, had no memory of Max -- and when Chip tried to explain, she responded "Chip, what are you on?" and, as he went on, "I'm gay?". However, she listened when Roberta confirmed this. She was upset but couldn't think of anything to do.

         Inspired by Roberta's and Chip's dreams, they began looking into Laney's blog. During Friday, she had blogged about Chip and Ifurita's fight at Dana Street Coffee Thursday night. Then Friday night, she had blogged about how they had a "technical problem" at work and really needed their top programmer, Max. They noticed there was a blog commenter who had attacked both of these entries: that it was ridiculous that a girlfriend would knock a man down with a slap, and that the top programmer would be a girl. He showed a bunch of inconsistencies in Laney's blog to show that she was just making up this stuff.

         Carlos began using Max's notes and MythSoft to research the magical side of it. Chip and Ifurita began researching the guy who was attacking Laney's blog, who went by "Leviticus". Eventually, they tracked him down that he was posting from a server at Brigham Young University in Utah, and apparently had an archeology background. Carlos found that there was a ritual to wipe things out from reality, like the inverse of a ritual he had heard of which would insert a bunch of energy as a person into reality. However, he suspected here that the ritual had gone out of control, and he had a compass which would point to the person at the ritual's focus and a counter-spell which would have to be done on him.

         However, there was now sharp disagreement about what to do about this person. Ifurita and Laney were quite angry and wanted to do violence to him, but Chip argued for a time that they should explain to him what was happening and what was wrong. However, Carlos weighed in and said he thought it was too dangerous to let this person have a chance to resist or try new tricks, so they should knock him out and perform the counter-spell as expeditiously as possible. Chip reluctantly agreed.

         At this point, Roberta tried somewhat blindly to form a gate to Utah. By blind luck, it came out in the archeology department of BYU, in a bright and clean hallway. She and Carlos and Ifurita went through and followed the compass to the office of Assistant Professor Adrian Cirnell, noting his picture which matched Roberta's dream. Knocking and entering his office, Ifurita asked him "I hear you think that a woman can't knock her boyfriend down?" He said they must be in the wrong place, but provoked, also argued that it was unrealistic. At this point, Ifurita slugged him and knocked him out. Meanwhile, Carlos noted a drawer which had a bunch of magical ritual implements but was marked as the property of Professor Emeritus Jeremiah Smith.

         They then headed back to Vampster via a gate which Roberta created, which worked fine despite her trepidation at doing it for the first time. Back in the office, Carlos began the ritual in Roberta's office aided by Chip and Roberta. However, shortly before he finished a man pushed open the office door. A well-dressed white-haired man stood there, saying "I'd ask you to unhand my colleague." and upon uncertain response he went on "Amateurs! You leave a gate open after you, fumble about with the counter, and you don't even recognize a master sorceror when you see one."

         At this point, Kat was already charging to stop him from interfering. She grabbed him, but was telekinetically thrown back. Ifurita blasted him with her key, but he blocked it with a spell. Kat then shifted into werewolf form as Ifurita jump-kicked him out of the room. He then raised a magic shield which kept Kat out, but it was dropped by a second blast from Ifurita. At this point, Carlos had finished the ritual. Kat jumped on him in werewolf form, and soon the others all dog-piled onto him. He seemed to relent for a time and Chip tried to explain to him that this wasn't what God would want.

         Getting angry, he began to glow red and exclaimed "You fool! I'm not the Christian. I don't accept reality, I make it!" In a flash of light he revealed a red-skinned demonic form and stood up to throw the others all off of him. He made a run for it. Ifurita blasted at him, but missed and blew up a cube. Kat dove for him and missed. But Carlos managed to tackle him, and Chip finished him out with a automatic stapler to the head.


2.04 Game Boys

(Aired Nov 20, 2004)

         The episode began with Dot returning from Aurora after three weeks vacation, still seeming a bit distant to her friends. After a celebratory Friday dinner in downtown Mountain View, Max and Dot were walking back to the Vampster office for a "server patch session" when several police officers ran past them. Moments later, they saw one of the cops fly out from the sidewalk around the corner into oncoming traffic.

         They raced to the scene only to find a young boy in a fighting stance holding the other officers at bay outside a restaurant. Dot tried to step in between, but one of the officers warned them off. The officer then tried to draw his taser, but the boy deftly kicked it out of his hand. Then, before either the boy or the cops could take more drastic action, the boy relaxed from his stance and the police immediately tackled him. Dot tried to ask the boy's parents where he picked up those fighting skills ("Hey, what dojo does he go to -- it seems really good"), but the parents ignored her, being understandably upset and angry.

         That same evening, Chip was DJing at Gaseous back up in the city. A interesting new figure walked in -- a tough looking Irish man named Doug Finn, who seemed down on his luck at the moment. [1] He headed to the bar to see a man there who some work. He was met by a sleazy goth in a leather coat calling himself "Declan", who wanted him to rough up a member of the City Building Commission. Finn refused, but Declan insisted that Finn should think it over before saying no. Declan then went over to hit on Ifurita, who was well into a line of shots, still angry over her breakup with Chip. Seemingly on the rebound, she walks off with Declan out of the club. Suspicious of Declan, Finn followed them out. In turn Kat, who had been nursing a beer the the shadows, followed Finn. Outside, Kat and Finn turned the corner to see Declan in the alley with his game face on, about to bite Ifurita.

         Iffy drunkenly shoved him away and simply watched, amused, while Kat and Finn fought Declan. After a few blows, Finn clobbered Declan senseless, and Ifurita then staked him. She handed Finn a Vampster business card, and suggested that he talk to Roberta about a job. She then announced to Kat that she was leaving for Hong Kong, and summarily flew off. Heading back into Gaseous, Kat introduced Finn to Carlos and Chip. Finn relayed the news of Ifurita's sudden travel plans to Chip.

         After the incident on the street, Dot headed back with Max to see how the new offices now that they were moved in. Before leaving for Aurora, she had put her furniture into storage since the offices were about to move. However, with the new secure building, she no longer had an excuse to live at the office. After surveying the place, she quietly asked Max if she could stay with her, and Max happily agreed. Then remembering what just happened, they called Roberta to tell her about the incident with the boy and the police. Max then did some research using MythSoft and found some information about spirit possession that might be related to the incident.

         Roberta was at home, still pondering the nature of her new powers. Earlier, Josh Silverton had appeared to her to scold her about leaving open doorways (see 2.03 Reality Based). He had explained that she can learn to control the Nexus and keep things from following her home.[2] She was still musing over this at her home in Santa Clara, when she got a call from her sister Esmey (short for Esmerelda). Esmey explained she was to go out of town and wanted to park her two children (ages 9 and 13) at Roberta's. Roberta tried to object, but Esmey wouldn't hear it and simply asked if the kids should be left at her home or at the office. The result was that the kids were to be deposited at Roberta's home in the morning.

         Bright and early on Saturday morning, Esmey dropped off the niece and nephew -- Nita and Jamie. Both of them had brought their own XBox titles and were eager to play. Feeling some responsibility, Roberta asked Jamie if he was caught up on homework. Since he wasn't, she orders him to hit the books before he plays his new favorite game, Ninja Monk. Nita, however, was allowed to play her game, Magic Sword Princess.

         At the same time, back at Max's apartment, Dot was cooking Max pancakes when Chip called to tell her the news about Ifurita. They went on to conspire to get Roberta out of the house and out on the town. With a plan now in place, Chip invited himself over and the three of them chat.

         Later in the morning, Doug Finn called the number on the card Ifurita gave him from his apartment. He gets Roberta on the line, and asks her about a job. Naturally, she has him fax a resume and promises to look at it. Just as she got off the phone, Roberta went downstairs to answer the door. There she found Dot, Max and Chip on her doorstep, who had invited themselves as well as Kat and Carlos over to help babysit... and also to play XBox games on Roberta's giant TV. Once there, Dot further decides to fix up Roberta with a date with Carlos' mentor Hans Stevin.[3] With the date arranged, the crew sent Roberta away to a day spa in preparation and settled into her house.

         Naturally, they poked among her things, and someone found Doug's resume which looked interesting. However, they were concerned with his lack of computer skills, not to mention his frequent employment changes. Still, Max noticed he's listed Seraphim Langston as a reference, who happened to be her mentor among the technopagans. Calling Langston for the real dirt, she learned that Doug was actually from a long line of Irish heroes whose family had been alternatively blessed and cursed over hundreds of years. As a result, when he's lucky, he's really lucky (and hence he can always find a job); but when Lady Luck frowns, it's really bad (and hence the frequent job changes).

         The crew were sitting around the living room discussing this when they heard glass shattering somewhere outside the house. Racing to the door, they saw a little girl on the lawn of the house across the street brandishing a sword and proclaiming herself to be the Magic Sword Princess -- as in the game that Nita was currently playing. She had evidently smashed out through her living room window, and when her father tried to get her inside, she coldly threatened him. Dot and Carlos rushed out to the scene, and Carlos got between the little girl and her dad while Dot tried to talk to the her.

         Back in Roberta's house, Chip was rushing to unplug the XBoxes which were clearly somehow involved in the goings-on. As he does so, the outside was joined by two more Magic Sword Princesses. Dot is in a standoff with the three princesses, when shots rang out from down the street. Almost simultaneously Dot and Carlos were hit by sniper fire from somewhere up the block. At the same time in Roberta's house, Nita suddenly began to brandish a sword which materialized in her hand, then ran off to leave a bewildered Chip. Rushing outside to stop Nita, Max tried to grapple her with a binding spell, but then she was hit by the sniper as well. Despite the wound, Max did manage to get the other three princesses trapped behind a barrier spell.

         While just starting her date with Hans, Roberta suddenly had a premonition and called home to check on things. [4] Despite some urgings to not worry her, Chip explained the situation to her, and thus she immediately broke off her date with Hans to return home. While driving back home, she was cut off by a car on the highway and by unfortunate coincidence crashed into Doug Finn's car -- who just happened to be driving that way.[5] After the crash, Roberta's car wasn't running, so desperate to get home she got a ride from Doug.

         Meanwhile, on the street outside Roberta's house, the father of the first Sword Princess was abruptly killed by a shot to the head from the sniper. Shocked, Dot charged straight down the street, dodging shots along the way, at the house where the sniper was. Leaping to the garage roof, she climbed in through an upper story window, only to find a seemingly ordinary teenage boy. He had been playing a Splinter Cell style game which had become real as a military rifle set up in his window, and was coordinating with other snipers over XBox live.

         Realizing that the video games were the key, Carlos appropriated an SUV from the dead father, and drove it into a power line pole. Knocking it over cut the power in the neighborhood, and temporarily reverted the kids possessed by their games. From her cell phone, Roberta called her ex Anton at the FBI, who explained kids had been taken over by their games all over the state. She firmly told him to shut down the power on the West Coast. As he naturally balked, Dot remarked how she saw the FBI do this in Die Hard.

         Amazingly, Anton pulled it off and all of California went dark for a few hours. With a bit of time on her hands, Max quickly examined one of the involved game CDs and found a Buddhist prayer engraved in the markings on the top. As a result, every time someone played the game, the XBox became a prayer wheel. The prayer was for the soul of a Shaolin Monk trapped in a Shinto hell. As improbable as it sounds, the premise of Ninja Monk was a Shaolin Monk hunting the Shinto Priest who killed his master. Extrapolating from rumors that the game was notoriously late, Max suspects that someone at the game's publishing company used magic to get the game out, and now that magic was backfiring.

         From her home, Roberta opened a gate back to the Vampster office (aka the Nexus), where the generator backups were keeping the power going. Carlos stayed behind with Jamie, Nita, and the other three kids -- while the rest of the crew went to the office to find a full solution. At Vampster, Josh (the ghostly former owner) warned Roberta that the generators only lasted a few hours, and that power must be restored then or bad things would happen in the Nexus. Max rapidly works out a spell that will open a gate in the Nexus to the Shinto hell so they can find that damned Shaolin monk. With the game already shipped all over, they reasoned that the only way to undo the curse was to free the trapped soul of the monk.

         As it turns out, the gate takes them not to a Shinto hell, but the offices of Hyperion Arts, where they also have generator backups. The offices are full despite it being Saturday during a statewide emergency, since all the programmers and artists work seven days a week (with no overtime, naturally). As the Vampster crew stalk down the hall in search of what brought them here, they were confronted by an executive. However, Doug Finn immediately intimidated him by asking if he'd read the latest memo from management. The now terrified executive then took them to the manager of the Ninja Monk line. Posing as fellow employees, the Vampster crew explained they were working on another game whose schedule has slipped, and wanted to talk to the developer who managed to get Ninja Monk shipped.

         When they are brought to him, they found that the "monk" was Frank -- a seemingly ordinary programmer in a cube full of Taoist texts and scrolls. He explained there wasn't really a monk stuck in Shinto hell, but he found that adding the prayers from one of his books to the CD got the game to work so they could ship it.

         Taking Frank in tow, the crew returned to the Vampster office via gateway, and also fetched Jamie from Roberta's. They reasoned that someone had to defeat the Shinto sorcerer in the game to break the spell, and he was the one with the most video game experience. Jamie played for four hours straight and finally got to the game's climax: the fight with the Shinto sorcerer. But as Jamie fought the sorcerer in the game, Frank was possessed by the spirit of a Shinto priest (whether real or computer generated, we weren't sure).

         Kat and Dot briefly fought the possessed Frank, but he managed to dodge them and take Jamie hostage. He threatened to kill the boy unless the Ninja Monk stopped fighting him. Working his way around the cubes, Doug Finn snuck around behind Frank and promptly knocked him out. Jamie then finished off the evil priest, won the game, and set everything right again. Roberta then called Anton and got power restored to the state. The Vampster crew officially declared Frank a hazard to humanity to be watched. To effect this, Roberta offered him a job working as an interactive designer on a new product for Vampster: Second Afterlife (where Vampster members can play in a 3D environment).

Postscript:   That evening at Max's home, Dot and Max had a heart to heart. Haltingly, Dot explained that she had always been closed about what happened to her back in 1998. She had become a Slayer, but refused to take on the duties of that for reasons she never explained to anyone. She went on,

Dot: I mean, I was only sixteen at the time. I didn't know what I was doing, and then suddenly I had this huge responsibility put on me.
Max: I understand. It's a lot to take on, being a Slayer.
Dot: No, you don't. I'm not talking about being a Slayer. I'm talking about being a mother...
Shortly after she was activated as a Slayer, Dot had discovered that she was pregnant. Without explaining to the Watcher's why, she had refused to do the evil-fighting thing. She went on to have the baby, but put him up for adoption. In an open adoption process, she had given him to a couple in Oak Park, Illinois. But it wasn't long after that that she moved out to California. Her vacation the past few weeks was the first time she had seen her baby in years. Emotionally drained, Dot sagged to be held by Max.

NOTES:

  1. This was a new PC for Tyler, as a replacement for Drake who was now thoroughly disconnected from the rest of the Vampster gang.
  2. In game mechanics, Cynthia needed to spend experience points to buy the "Nexus Guardian" Quality.
  3. John spent a Drama Point for a plot twist.
  4. Cynthia spent a Drama Point for a plot twist.
  5. Someone (?) spent a Drama Point to drag Doug into the action.


2.05 A Cup of Chaos: Balancing the Books

(Aired Dec 3, 2004)

         The episode began with Carlos packing up his things to move from Berkeley to Mountain View. He had found a small apartment there, a short bike ride away from work. His old boss Hans helped him move. As he was unpacking, though, he found a bunch of boxes which he hadn't packed. Inside were a small horde of of arcane books. [1] Hans explained that he was loaning them over. Since he would have to travel a lot to recreate the Watchers' Council, he asked Carlos to become Dot's Watcher and take custody of the library. Hans went on to explain his seeming paranoia, teaching Carlos about the First Evil -- an incorporeal being that can appear as anyone who has died. He suggested that Carlos keep Max from knowing too much, since she is too close to Dot to keep objective. However, Carlos argued with him that he would need Max's help, especially if something happened to Dot. Carlos shook his head, still convinced that his old mentor was being paranoid -- but perhaps understanding where he came from a little better.

         At the office the next day, Roberta had largely written off her date with Hans which had been cut short last episode. After all, she had more pressing problems at work. She arranged with the others to have a round of interviews for Doug Finn, the Irish demon fighter with bizarre luck. After some consideration, they pegged him for a facilities manager position. However, Diane overheard the new hire discussion and complained about lack of help on the finance side, saying that facility management should be outsourced. When Roberta said that the building has "special needs", Diane started to become suspicious and grilled her about the peculiar things going on. With a sigh, Roberta decided it was time that Diane be brought in on the secret. She gave Diane the spiel about vampires and the supernatural, and demonstrated the Nexus gating as proof. Diane walked away more than a little shell-shocked.

         Also that day, Max got a mysterious letter which burst into a singing, flying faerie. Her reflexes taking over, Dot promptly caught and manhandled the faerie. It turns out to be a last-minute invitation to give a talk at the Technopagan's Conclave in Berkeley in a little over two weeks. While making plans for that, Dot and Max also discussed what to do with the BMW that Dot taken off a vampire she dusted before Vampster started (1.02 The Demonic Jukebox). Dot suggested that she should give it away to charity, and Max agreed.

         Meanwhile, over in their cubes, Chip and Carlos were discussing the problem of setting up Roberta on a date. They at first talked with her, and she sarcastically gave a minimum requirement that the person would have to know what Paul McCartney did before Wings. They went on to discuss her appeal,

Chip: "You have mysterious allure because you can't say what you do during your off time."
Carlos: "You're a hottie, you're rich, you spend your off hours saving the world."
As she went back to work, they began to not-so-quietly prepare a personal ad to put up for her -- starting with her McCartney requirement and moving on from there. As soon as she heard, Roberta was naturally indignant. Taking on her authority as boss, she said that they should to look for an accountant, not a date for her. Secretly, they responded by adding "has a love of numbers" to the personal ad. Before the end of the work day, Carlos circulated that he would be having a housewarming party that weekend -- and was inviting all his new work friends. Chip was still a bit flirtatious with him, which Carlos responded to with characteristic shyness.

         The next day was Doug's interview. The first and primary interviewer was Joshua, who was supposed to see if he was fit to deal with the Nexus. However, as soon as he appears, Doug sees and recognizes Josh, and they were instantly at odds. As it turned out, Joshua was an old enemy of Doug's clan.[2] They traded arguments, but since Joshua was already dead, the conflict was sort of in the past. Josh decided that as a test, Doug had to check some cabling in the server room which went through a portal to a hell dimension. Doug dutifully followed the cables out into a strange landscape, but as he gets to the servers he finds that a hulking demon -- a Fyarl demon named Togth -- was standing there who unplugged it. In gruff tones, the demon explained that his boss wasn't happy with them "taking too much chaos". Doug talked quickly to avoid a fight and promised to take it up with his boss. Upon returning and with cursory approval of the others, he was hired. He was also invited to Carlos' housewarming.

         Meanwhile, Chip was checking out answers to the personal ad they had put out for Roberta. One of them was Mosuhiro "Tad" Tadashi -- a late-twenties Japanese man who was struggling after college to get a job here.[3] He was clearly a bit of a dork who was enthusiastically struggling with American culture. Still, he was smart, fit, and more importantly interested in older women.

Max: Tad, that's an odd name.
Tad: It is not what my fraternity brothers Chad and Brad say.
Moreover, he was actually far better than the other replies which are uniformly awful. Thus, Chip invited him to Carlos' housewarming party.

         That evening, Dot and Max had a serious talk at their home. Dot was still settling into Max's place -- a two-bedroom cottage in Mountain view. A bit awkwardly, Dot said that as part of trying to be more open she wanted to talk about kids...

Dot: Not, like instantly or anything, but just as a sort of eventual possibility...
Max: Well... it is a huge responsibility. And I wouldn't want to bear one myself.
Dot: Actually, it turns out being a Slayer has some advantages. When I did it... Well, it still really hurt, but at least the doctor said it was one of the smoothest deliveries he had ever seen.
Max: I hadn't thought of that. Actually... Hmmmm.
Dot: What?
Max: I was just thinking about genetic combination magic I could do.
(long pause)
Dot: Um, Max? Are you saying you can get me pregnant?
Dot immediately brightened up and began to coo over Max in a, well, maternal fashion. Max, meanwhile, had started to think of this as a technical problem -- perhaps repressing exactly what it would mean.

         The next day was Saturday and Carlos' party. On the dot at four o'clock, Tad arrived with gifts in tow -- sake and a Paul McCartney mix CD. Another of the personal ad respondents arrives, a clone of Steve Dallas who promptly made his way to the living room and dropped on the couch in front of the TV. As the rest of the Vampster personnel arrive, Tad was introduced to everyone including Roberta (as a date) and Diane (as an accountant), but Laney swooped in to chat him up. Despite some awkwardness, he was extremely good-looking and Laney was quite flirty with him. Also, Hans Stevin arrived with two tweed-clad friends -- fellow members of the new Watchers Council he is forming.

         The party was buzzing when another guest knocked at the door. It was demon Togth, holding a Chaos collector machine that had been crudely ripped out of it's mounting rack from the hell dimension. He had two other demons with him, yellow-skinned humanoids with stegosaur-like plates on their heads. He explains that his boss wanted him to make some chaos here to make up for the chaos Vampster had been leeching off his hell dimension. Dot and Doug Finn immediately pressed the issue, and the demons were talked into taking it outside.

         Togth challenged Dot to a car throwing contest. Togth chose Steve Dallas' Porchse. Dot walked a distance away to the end of the parking lot, and Togth made a mighty throw. Dot dodged back just as it landed, so it looked as if the car just landed on her. Then with considerable difficulty, she lifted the car on her back and staggered at Togth to flips it over onto him.

         However, at the same time the other two demons had gotten bored and were less civil. They attacked Doug and Carlos. From inside the apartment, Tad saw this and rushed into the fight thinking that the demons were party crashers in costumes. He mentioned something about dealing with similar situations at his frat house. Inside, Roberta gated everyone else back to Vampster except Steve Dallas and Ken Smith (who were oblivious and fighting over whether to watch anime or sports on the TV).

         The fight with the two stegosaur-headed demons was tough. Doug got a lucky shot with a baseball bat, nailing one of the demons in its groin. Unfortunately, the demon was wearing a cup. [4] But with help from Max, he and Carlos managed to clean up the other demons. Dot rushes over to make sure Tad didn't get hurt, and took out one of them. Rather than being offended by the fight, Togth was pleased with the amount of chaos. However, he explained he needed more. Dot suggested they throw the demons in the trunk of the BMW and take it for a joyride.

         As they left, the police arrived only to find Steve Dallas crying by the wreck of his Porchse. They had several outstanding warrants for him, and booked him for DUI and Drunk and Disorderly. Tad stayed up drinking with Max, Carlos and Doug. Roberta promised to send Laney back to the party and gated her out, but later it turned out that it was to a different party. Laney quickly finds some other hot guy to pick up, though, and forgot about Tad. Tad woke up with a hell of a headache, still thinking the demons were costumed pranksters.

NOTES:

  1. In game terms, this is Occult Library +2 which was essentially free.
  2. John spent a Drama Point for this plot twist.
  3. Tad is a new PC played by Jim Chokey.
  4. Doug's bad luck Quality kicked in to cancel his hit.


2.06 Conference Blues

(Aired Dec 17, 2004)

         The episode began with Max preparing her paper about Kat's collar for The Technopagan Conclave -- a technical conference for practitioners. It was Wednesday, and the conference would start on Friday. Meanwhile, Dot was settling in at her (their) house, aka "nesting". The BMW had been donated to charity, and for the moment Dot was without a car.

         Meanwhile, at work, debate continued to rage over how to set up Roberta with someone. Dot suggested that she needs a "hottie", while someone else (Max) suggested someone stable and more her age. Chip obnoxiously blurted out, "I don't know any people that old." While Carlos defended his old friend Hans, he admitted that he was not a hottie -- which prompted the question, "So, does Hans know any hotties?"

         After work that day, the crew gathered at Gaseous. Carlos was out trying to meet people at clubs along with Chip -- who had been quietly composing mashups lamenting his breakup with Iffy. At Gaseous, Doug was the first to see a stunningly attractive woman on the dance floor, but he hesitated when he remembered his luck. Carlos then went to dance with her, but he tripped and fell on the dance floor. Strangely, she apologized to him and offered to buy him a drink. Sitting at the bar, he had a chance to see her better. She had long raven hair, milky white skin, and eyes that change color -- and she introduced herself as Serenity.[1] Carlos mentioned that he worked for Vampster, dropping Max's name, and Serenity instantly recognized it. He then mentioned the upcoming Technopagan Conclave. Serenity was apparently shocked that he knew about it, and panicked and ran out of the club when Chip piped in about it, too.

         Also that evening, Max got a fairygram warning her not to tell others about the Conclave. Apparently they were expecting trouble from crashers ranging from wannabes to demons. In the same message, Dot and Doug were invited to help with security.

         The next day at work, Laney [2] revealed her plans for a Vampster booth in the convention hall -- where she intended to market heavily. She had arranged for two booth babes, Viv and Ophelia, in skimpy goth outfits. Roberta was shocked at this and objected, but the others were quick to defend Laney in this instance. A heated discussion ensued about booth babes and marketing. Recognizing the inequality, the crew eventually enlisted Chip and Carlos as additional booth babes for a more balanced view. Laney then went shopping with them to dress them up properly.

         The next day came the Conclave itself. Setting up on the Conclave's expo floor, Vampster found a schism between stiffs in suits and hippie pagans in sandals. At security, Dot had a confrontaton with a military man who insists he should be let in without a pass. He turned out to be General Jack Strong, and was eventually escorted in by Samuel Devins, a big shot VC. While registering, Max met Starhawk, a witch at Berkeley's Center for Advance Study who told her that half the conference will be the conversations in the halls.

         Samuel Devins gave the keynote speech, where he advocated the use of magic to root out terrorists and disloyal citizens as part of a program he calls "Homeland Pervasive Vigilance" (HPV). [3] He was heading a company with a DoD contract to develop this program. He got several boos from the audience, and his talk ended abruptly as his AV setup mysteriously failed. Back at the Expo floor, a short somewhat mousy woman with glasses walked up to Carlos, and introduced herself as Serenity. She explained that she had used a "Mary Sue" spell on herself at the club to build her confidence. She wanted to meet Carlos for lunch on Saturday.

         Roberta took Hans to the Friday reception, and on the drive over there they talked. Hans mentioned that a Samuel Devins was currently giving the keynote, and he noticed as Roberta cringed at the name. She explained that she had known him in college, but made clear that she now despised him. Hans was naturally curious at this, and asked about it. Roberta bluntly explained "I can tell an asshole when I sleep with one."

         While Dot and Doug were on security duty, a young woman came to see Doug. Doug greeted her warmly, and they were soon talking about family stuff and what might show up at the convention. Dot stopped by, and utterly failed to understand that this was actually Doug's grandmother -- a fairy princess. She nevertheless butted in on their conversation, and Doug's grandmother commented "With manners like this, I'm surprised Slayers survive." Dot blinked in surprise and replied, "Well, actually, we don't."

         Roberta and the others met at the reception. There was various chitchat. Dot avoided being identified as being among the Vampster crowd, though she threw warm glances at Max from time to time. At the reception, Roberta and Devins briefly exchanged harsh words before parting.

         That evening, Kat arrived at the conference. Checking into her room, she finds a necklace that someone had left in her room. She leaves it in the bathroom. That night, she has vivid dreams of running wild in wolf-form. She wakes up still in her room, but she realizes that her collar is gone. She immediately goes to Max, who examines the necklace. It is made from a lunar metorite (i.e. a piece of the moon thrown loose by meteor impact there and fallen to Earth). As such, it can make a lycanthrope change even if they are controlled or it is not a full moon. Max and Doug begin work on a spell to find the thief, while the others investigate in other ways. Dot goes with Kat, who tracks her own scent from the hotel. Last night, she went up into the hills above the Claremont in wolf form. She and Dot follow and eventually find a pit trap where they surmise she was captured.

         Max successfully researches a spell that will send her a tingle if she touches anyone who has handled the collar. She and Doug also finds out that Kat's room was serviced by a newly-hired maid, named "Peace." They begin to track down Serenity. Max and the others find her back on the expo floor shortly before Dot and Kat arrive back. Max's spell detects her and they wonder what to do. When Dot and Kat arrive, though, Kat instantly recognizes her scent and charges to attack her. She at first is in human form, while Serenity uses the collar to change to werewolf form. But Kat's anger and the presence of the lunar necklace combine to change her. Prepared for Serenity, Max traps her in a powerful binding spell [4]. But now Kat is wild in werewolf form, and badly claws Dot (who failed to realize she was out of control). Max takes the collar off of Serenity, though, and soon all is restored.

         Seeing the mayhem, General Strong had pulled out a slug thrower. However, Doug had grabbed the "emergency backup tranq gun" from the room where Max was going to present, and knocks him out with a dart before he can shoot anyone. There is other commotion and concern, particularly from the more mundane suits there. Despite her bleeding wound, Dot puts on a smile and announces "Well, that's all, folks! If you want to know more about werewolves, please go to Max West's talk in hall B3 at one o'clock."

         When confronted, Serentity says she wanted the collar so she could keep up with the cut-throat classmates in her program in Magic at the Invisible College. They are stuck as to what to do with her, and leave her trapped for the moment.

         Max gives her presentation [5], and does extremely well. At the end of the conference, she ends winning the Wesley Wyndam Price Jr. Memorial Award for best paper. Afterwards, she talks with Technopagan council members about what to do about Serenity. Apparently they have a rehabilitation center in England which is intended for rogue practitioners -- and they agree to take her.

NOTES:

  1. The name provoked a cry of "Mary Sue" from the players, and as GM, Bill obliged them.
  2. Drama point by Cynthia
  3. Liz suggested that the name should have the acronym "HPV", which is the same as Human Papillomavirus (i.e. genital warts).
  4. Heather used a drama point on the roll, resulting in an astouding success -- interpreted as a green circle like what Giles trapped Dark Willow with.
  5. Heather also used a drama point on the speech roll.


2.07 Business Relations

(Aired Jan 8, 2005)

         We begin in Max and Dot's apartment, as over the holiday break Max proceeds headlong with her parthenogensis spell research. Hot off her success at the conference, she succeeds handily. [1] Dot and Max briefly discuss other possibilities, such as genetic modification to allow the baby to be a boy. However, soon after the new year they decide to go ahead with the spell. They sit down in a magic circle with candles and so forth, and the spell succeeds. Dot and Max then celebrate privately. They still haven't told anyone of their plans.

         Also shortly after the new year, in a meeting over lunch, Carlos asks his mentor Hans about what happened in East Africa. Carlos remembers being told about the Watcher's council, but he has gaps in his memory about what happened. Hans explains he and other survivors (eight in total) of the Watcher's Council went into Africa to combat the First Evil at it's mythic birthplace,where they hoped to be able to affect it directly. However, through some horrible means, the First turned several members to evil. They ended up killing each other. Only three survived: Hans, Carlos, and Sam Zabuto. Hans was afraid that the First's influence would linger, and to purge the effects partially erased their memories. Carlos asks if he killed anyone -- and Hans answers yes. Carlos then agrees that he didn't want those memories. They part, and Carlos asks Roberta for the rest of the day off, and goes to church in shock.

         Tadashi sends in a formal application, resume and cover letter. Roberta then arranges for an interview. Several people like him, but Roberta leaves the hiring decision to Diane. As he comes in for his interview, she reviews his resume. His cover letter includes a photo of him in a suit, with his surfboard, on the beach -- "to show he is serious about work, and but embraces California." However, despite coming right out of school, he does not include a transcript -- and it soon becomes clear that his grades were quite poor. Roberta leaves that to Diane, and asks him more about how he'd fit in otherwise.

Roberta: "I can see you handled yourself well in a crisis situation."
Tad: "Oh, you mean my senior thesis?"
However, Diane is still in shock over vampires being real and secretly is rather intimidated at Tad having rushed out to fight demons at the party (or as he put it "people trying to crash the very fun party.") However, his poor accounting skills are becoming increasingly apparent. However, just has he's bombing a critical question about basic accounting, there's a loud crash and shouting from outside the conference room. Tad asks aloud, "Is this one of those stress interviews?" Convinced that it is, he runs outside to investigate, while Diane hides under the desk.[2]

         Rushing out into the main area, Tad sees the elevator opens with a ding, and Doug Finn's unconcious form flies out and crash into Chip's cube. Tad flinches at the sight of the seven foot tall demon.[3]

Tad: "Is this the director of human resources?"
Demon: "Not yet. But you better watch yourself."
Chip has Doug's body crash into his cube, and he calls Carlos (who's at St. Joseph's and forgot to turn off the phone) to say "OMG WTF!". Meanwhile, the demon has tried to run outside. Roberta uses her Nexus Gateway control ability to send the demon elsewhere. However, her control of where to sending stuff out remains shaky, so she's not sure where it went.

         After the interview, Roberta and Diane debrief. Still shaken, Diane says he was fine. She seems more interested in self-preservation than in accounting skills. She didn't see him blanch when faced with the demon, as she was still under the desk -- or as she put it to Roberta, "conserving human resources." Chip wants to know what happened to the 'locks'. Roberta confronts Joshua, who indirectly confesses to letting the demon in so it could beat up Doug Finn. Roberta scolds Joshua.

         Later that day, Ifurtia calls Roberta. She says she's in Bande Ache, and just fought a demon that appeared in the square outside the mosque. Several NGOs, the Indonesian Army, and US Navy personel saw her fight the demon, fly, and use the key. She needs to be scarce. She sends Roberta images of the mosque to help Roberta set up a return gate. By pure luck, Roberta succeeds, and Ifurita can step through the door of the mosque.

         Over time, Chip has befriended Tad and dragged him along to parties, such as the Mash Bush Mashup and Mashed Potato Wrestling party. In general, Chip has been sleepless and seems incoherent. Kat has been keeping to herself since her reversion to wolfdom at the conference, and refusing company. In contrast, Dot is walking around smiling sweetly and distracted -- which most people note as strange. Chip asks if she and Max had gone to Boston to get married. Carlos and Chip confer. They conjecture that the marriage is a last ditch effort to keep the relationship alive.

         The next day Ifurita seeks out Carlos to ask how he handled it with MSF when there was no one to rescue. The next week, Tad starts work. As part of introduction, Carlos explains about demons and vampires and so forth, but Tad still thinks this is hazing. Roberta gets a call from Lauren Hargrove, who asks if she could help a college student whose family's in trouble. Over lunch, Lauren introduces Uma Gupta (from episode 2.02), a young Indian woman whose parents had been arrested over the mass murders. Some of Roberta's family have had run-ins with the law, and she advises Uma that she has to detach -- her parents crimes are theirs, not hers. Uma thanks her, but explains that her biggest problem was understanding why her parents did what they did, as their crimes seem senseless. Roberta hints that magic is real -- that her parents were "running with the big dogs". Uma also asks about Carlos, and gets his phone number from Roberta. After lunch, she calls him and they arrange a dinner date on Thursday.

         Back at the office, Max's spider of Vampster message flags a message from use "togth_demon" to "nosferatu16" complaining about working conditions. togth_demon says "you'd think after transferring jobs, things would be better." The togth_demon account had been created on Saturday the 8th. Max traces the account posts, and finds that togth_demon is coming from a host in the Bay Area from behind a corporate firewall. However, he has trouble with the shift key. Pondering what to do, they rope Kat into talking to him -- as one creature of the night to another. She writes a post to try to meet up with togth_demon.

Dot: "You have that whole creature of the night thing."
Iffy: "Plus she's a marketer."
Dot: "Same thing."

         Kat IM's togth_demon, but he is unwilling or even unable (?) to say where he works, and also unable to leave. He says they have a nice cafe, though. She suggests they meet for lunch at his workplace.

Kat:"Hey ugly, let's meet."
togth_demon: "ru4real?> most humans r sarced"
He appears to be at Discrete Software, a company that makes software for negotating calendars and meetings without revealing information about either side. Everyone researches and brainstorms ideas for getting inside Discrete. Roberta finds a customer list, and a profile of Monique LaSalle, the CEO. She recalls Monique from some of her Women In Technology meetings -- a high-power, pointy-shoe and skirt wearing type.

         Roberta calls Monique and sets up a meeting. Roberta, Max, Laney, Kat, and Ifurita go to a meeting at Discrete. The rest wait in the "Mystery Machine" -- Laney's car, which happens to be a PT Cruiser tricked out as a hearse, with the vanity tag PLMDN23. [4] The others attend a fancy presentation from Monique and her people at their offices in Walnut Creek under the pretense that Vampster may license the software. After the presentation, Laney suggests they meet the support people. On the way to the support people's cubes, Kat recognizes a familar scent, the thugees who were under the control of Dr. Gupta. The cafeteria indeed has raw meat, rat, and other things. During the trip to support, Max casts a spell to leave a hole to get back to their network.

         When they return to Vampster, Kat has an IM waiting for her. togth_demon announces that he has found a way to get out, and he suggests dinner near Kat's work. As it happens, Carlos and Uma are having dinner at the same place: Casa Lupe. Chip suggests to Tad they go have post-work drinks nearby. Ifurita and Roberta are invited along. They camp out at a bar with a large picture window.

         At Casa Lupe, Carlos and Kat are both waiting for their dates. Uma arrives first, joining Carlos. After some introductions, she confesses to Carlos that she's having dark visions -- of places destroyed that are still standing, violent crimes that haven't happened, and more. Carlos realizes that since she was raised to be the avatar of Kali-ma, she still has a mystical connection. Carlos, totally in geek mode, focuses on this as a technical magic problem.

Carlos: Actually, I have a great occult library back at my apartment. We could go look this up.
Uma: I'd like that. It's really confusing dealing with all this stuff... and lonely.[5]

         A tall, rugged man walks into the restaurant, and heads over to Kat's table. He's clearly Togth under a glamour.

Togth: "Found a whole bag of them [glamours] in the storage closet."
Kat and Togth chat. She learns he signed a contract in blood -- and "H1-D" which restricts his movement. She chides him for that. He replies that there are very few employment opportunities for Fyral demons, so he took what he could get. Meanshile, from across the room, Uma suddenly panics to see Togth. She apparently can see the true him without the glamour. She also sees Kat's "southern irish wolfhound" form. Carlos tries to pass it off as normal: "So a werewolf and a demon are having a date together. It makes sense to me."

         Some time into the conversation, Togth's chair breaks under his weight. Still large and clumsy despite the glamour, he becomes agitated as the waitstaff suspects he's breaking things. Carlos goes to intervene, and gets him to leave the restaurant, but not before trashing the table completely. [6] Outside on the street, as they are talking, Monique drives up and confronts Togth and Kat. She accuses Vampster of trying to poach her employee, and orders Togth to return with her. Uma sees Monique arguing with Togth, and races outside to warn off Monique that he is really a demon.[7] Carlos argues with Monique, demanding to know why she's hiring a demon.

Monique: "I need him for jobs humans wouldn't survive."
Carlos: "What are you running, a Cuisnart factory?"
Enraged by this point, Togth tries to attack Monique. However, just before his punch lands she dodges out of the way -- looking as if she suddenly went into fast-forward. He advances on her, causing some property damage but unable to land a blow. Monique pulls a lipstick-like device out of her purse -- apparently a weapon that she is aiming at Togth. From across the street, Ifurita aims the Key at her and demands her to stop. For a moment, there is a standoff.

         However, Uma sees Ifurita across the street and calls out "Andrea?" Ifurita is completely flustered, and Monique uses the opportunity to fire at her. Monique's "mighty cricket" gun fires, missing Iffy and shattering the large picture window of the bar where Chip, Tad, Roberta and Iffy were staking out. A brief brawl ensues, where Dot eventually knocks out Togth, and Iffy immobilizes Monique by hauling her up into the air.[8] Monique's protests that she's wearing a skirt, implying that Iffy should be more sensitive, but accepts the intervention otherwise. A frank airing of issues follows.

         Monique releases Togth from his contract, which means he's going back to his Hell dimension -- which he's not happy about. Monique and Roberta agree to talk more about business, both mundane and supernatural. Iffy talks to Uma, who explains that she never knew Andrea personally, but she's staying at Lauren's and recognized her from photos of Andrea. Uma tells her, "it's a terrible thing to lose your parents. You should tell Lauren who you are." Iffy agrees.

Fade out.

NOTES:

  1. Heather used two drama points (one for research, one for casting) and gained nine (!) success levels on the final roll.
  2. Jim failed his skill roll horribly, and then spent a drama point for a plot twist.
  3. Jim fails his wiggins roll.
  4. Cynthia, inspired by the real life goth girlfriend of Spike Parsons' brother, spending a drama point.
  5. Madeline inadvertently has to make a influence roll. She rolls 16 (4 success levels.)
  6. Madeline rolls a nine (9) to influence.
  7. Bill spends a drama point for a plot twist.
  8. As the session was wrapping up and one player (Heather) left, the full combat was glossed over rather than played out.


2.08 Networking

(Aired Jan 22, 2005)

         We begin with a cut scene. Monique LaSalle is sitting in some fancy office room of Discrete Software, talking to a blandly-dressed nerd type, who seems to have taken a note from Einstein and has identical sets of generic black clothing.

Monique: So, Ned, from your special talents, I trust you can look into these people discretely. Everything I have on them is in that file. Besides Max and the werewolf, there are two super-strong women. I at first thought they were Slayers, but I just found that one of them flies -- so you should look at alternatives as well.
Ned: No problem.
Monique: I particularly want to know about what they are trying to accomplish. But, just to be clear, you shouldn't do anything about them yet.
Ned: I... trying...
(Suddenly the image of Ned frizzes out for a moment before snapping back into normal)
Monique: What is it?
Ned: Sorry, I've just been slash-dotted.
Cut and go to credits.

         We begin with Dot & Max in their house. Dot comes out of the bathroom to Max and says simply, "pink ring". They are delighted for the confirmation, of course, but now that it's official, they debate over telling their friends. Both agree that they should do it, but neither wants to be the one. Eventually they agree to call Chip and tell him first, relying on his gossipiness to spread the word from there.

         Meanwhile, Ifurita is staying at Roberta's again. She talks with Roberta over her dilemma -- that she needs to explain to Lauren Hargrove that she is her daughter Andrea, albeit with a different body and lack of memories. Roberta agrees to help convince Lauren of this. She arranges with Lauren to have dinner at her place the following evening, without hinting what it is about.

         Later, Dot and Max go to a dim sum place to meet Chip. Chip, however, has invited Carlos and Doug. Slightly dismayed by the numbers, they chat for a bit until Dot (coming back from the bathroom after feeling queasy) blurts out "I'm pregnant". There follows a long explanation of the unusual process. Max admits to having rushed into the thing,

Max: I kind of rushed into this without thinking about the consequences.
Dot: That's how it was with my first, too. A lot of pregnancies are that way.
Max: Well, yes, but I thought I wouldn't have to deal with that.
The others are all a bit shocked, naturally, but they are encouraging. Chip at first says that he's not going to babysit, but later reconsiders. They eventually head back to work.

         There, Chip informs Roberta, who is rather nonplussed -- as well as slightly annoyed at how late everyone got in. Gossip proceeded around. Carlos has apparently been on another date or two with Uma. And she's seen his books, but nothing has happened yet. Meanwhile, Max has seen signs of a hacker snooping around Vampster's interface, but can't get any trace on him. She suspects it has to do with Monique, but has no evidence.

         With Max unable to get a line on the hacker, they try to consider it from the other end. So the crew try to research Monique, and find out about her and her company.[1] Carlos asks Hans via email, but finds nothing. Chip also comes up emptyhanded. Roberta finds a bundle through her entrepeneur contacts. She is early 40's, Ivy League undergrad, then business for a time, then to U of Chicago for her MBA. However, she hasn't been particularly newsworthy until launching Discrete Software two years ago. Her backers are secret, but Roberta strongly smells Samuel Devins behind it, though she has no proof. From another end, Doug goes and rousts some demons. He finds one who knows a friend, a Kr'Shank demon, who used to work for Discrete until he was fired and deported back to his home dimension. He hears that Discrete has a fairly open call for demon workers through some HR people who can cross dimensions. However, they are very selective in hiring (background checks and all); and they don't seem to have any alliances with demons. What he's heard from his Kr'Shank friend is that they are messing with time somehow.

         Iffy calls on some of Dr. Ben-David's high-power libertarian acquaintences to ask about Monique. What she gets is a boast about how great she is in bed, along with other crude talk about her hotness. Iffy quickly remembers why she hated these guys. Max contacts some people in the Technopagans, but she gets only rumors which match Doug's information -- that they are messing with time somehow.

         That evening, Iffy, Roberta, and Uma all have dinner at Lauren's house. After hedging through dinner, Iffy explains her point, pushing across the genetic research papers which they had done last year. As the realization dawns, Lauren starts to grill her on why they have waited over a year to tell her about this. She is upset but stays controlled throughout. She says she would like Andrea to see some doctors. Iffy/Andrea is worried that doctors won't be able to handle what she is, but Lauren is insistent. Eventually, Lauren says that she will find an apartment for her, and Iffy agrees. However, Iffy goes home with Roberta.

         The next day, Dot announces she is taking the next two days off -- she is tracking down doctors and having herself checked out. Meanwhile, Max continues to struggle with traces of the hacker at the system, but she is not making headway against this guy, who is evidently very good. As an extreme measure, Max decides to physically disconnect all their private internal development systems and intranet from the internet. While this is being done, Doug is planning how to seek out the Kr'Shank demon who used to work for Discrete. With Roberta, he plans how to visit it's home dimension. It is a nasty sort of thing with paralyzing tentacles that is rumored to be good at taking people apart alive.

         That evening, the crew all go to the Women in Technology (WIT) meeting. There is a seminar there about children in the workplace, which all of the crew attend in solidarity with Dot. Monique pokes her head in half-way through, apparently just peeking in, but is surprised to see all the Vampster people there. She comes and sits down beside Chip. Chip flirts with her a bit. They all go out to drinks afterwards, and Monique introduces her friend Ned (whom we saw in the teaser). There is very guarded talk between them. Monique makes it clear that although it is a mixed bag, she feels her company is "fighting evil" which she explains as community service. However, neither side is willing to expose what they are about exactly. She also covertly flirts with Chip. [2] After the group break up, she and Chip hook up -- quietly as she prefers it. However, Doug notices them going off together.

         Chip goes back with Monique to her place -- a small but posh East Bay house, which clearly has a housekeeper. She carelessly makes a mess as she and Chip get down to business. Her ego is boosted to have a hot young thing like Chip to herself, and she gives him some advice about how to get ahead in business.

         The next day, Ken comes into Roberta's office to give notice. He refuses to say exactly where he is going, but everyone immediately thinks Discrete Software -- and he doesn't deny it. Also, Doug blatantly spills the beans about Chip's tryst with Monique. Later that day, Roberta, Chip, Iffy, and Doug go through a Nexus portal to the home dimension of the Kr'Shank demons. There they track down the demon they are looking for outside a cave. They have brough fresh cow brains from an oriental market to bargain with it.

         While carefully bargained with, the demon reveals that it was part of a QA group. While munching on some brains that it snatched up with it's extending tentacles, it explained. It's job at Discrete was to track down people who were fated to come to a bad end -- and analyze them around that time. It was apparently testing software which could look at the schedule of people's lives -- i.e. so their fated death would be on the timetable. It evidently could survive a plane crash. They try to question it about deeper secrets of how and why Discrete is doing this. But while the demon promised deeper secrets, it eventually says really it was just in QA and didn't know that -- the stuff about secrets was just to lure them in closer (!) A fight ensues, where Iffy takes the brunt of it's attacks, while Doug and Chip help chop it to bits. [3]

NOTES:

  1. Everyone tries different skill rolls. Doug gets 4 successes on a Wildcard: Demons skill roll. Roberta gets 5 successes on Influence + Contacts. Carlos and Chip fail. Iffy gets 3 successes on Influence. Max gets 2 successes on Influence.
  2. Liz spends a Drama Point on Chip's Influence roll.
  3. Because it was at the end of the time, this combat was again not played out.


2.09 A Practical World

(Aired Feb 5, 2005)

         We begin in the office, seeing the results of the past week. Max and Dot are happily discussing plans. Iffy is in the process of moving to a new apartment rented by her mother, and has her legal papers pending. Chip has had only one more date with Monique, who is after all a busy woman.

         Diane has been hearing a lot about Discrete Software and Monique, and says that since they are being seriously considered as a vendor, she would like to have a meeting with them to see about their terms, installation, and other details. Roberta plans a meeting to try out the Rendezvous and Attache software under non-controlled conditions. They decide to have it at the Vampster offices, with a "sandbox" (i.e. disconnected mini-network of computers) for them to install on set up in a conference room. It falls on Ken's last day of employment, and they insist that Ken be there -- to see his reaction upon seeing Monique and vice-versa. (The awful possibility of Monique having slept with Ken is raised, causing Iffy to consider sporking her eyeballs out.)

         That day, Monique shows up with two employees: Ned (whom they'd met briefly before at the WIT meeting) and a more hip programmer in a Eurotrash style, whom Monique introduces as Karl. Ned is the conservative-looking programmer who wears identical clothes (black jeans and collar shirt) every day. Karl is a younger hip programmer, with a strange non-European accent. Ned directs Karl who hooks up the computers and installs the software. Monique then starts the demonstration, concentrating on Diane who hasn't seen it before. As it starts, Karl steps back and seems to concentrate, which Max realizes is some connection to the software.

         Just as it is underway, Doug walks by in the hall outside the conference room -- and Karl suddenly sees him and reacts. His eyes widen and he shouts out "Finn!", then charges out into the hall at him. The software then suddenly starts to go haywire. Carlos rushes to help Doug -- while Chip keeps an eye on the screen, and Max keeps an eye on Monique. As a fight starts outside, Ned looks with concern at the computer screen and then turns to Monique and quietly but firmly says, "This is really bad... Run!" Monique suddenly bursts into fast-forward speed and is out of sight. Ned then pixelates and disappears. It suddenly occurs to Max that she hasn't see Ned physically interact with anything except a keyboard. Outside, Doug just manages to dodge being gored by Karl's antlers (!). He swings once at the rapidly-transforming Karl, when suddenly everything swirls and blacks out.

         Roberta, Carlos, and Chip find themselves in a transformed office space. Everthing is wrecked and dusty, with decomposing zombie bodies littering the offices. They are disoriented. They go outside and look around, and are at first relieved that it otherwise seems to be business as usual in Mountain View. From watching the screens as Karl went berserk, Chip has some clues what happened. He saw a scrolling past of error entries like:

Fatal Threading Error!
Database connection not found.  Retrying...
Alternate database found.  Resynchronizing:
1998/05/03 13:11:34  uid 34792; event id 9762103; event type 17
This was followed by many screenfuls of further events going forwards in time from 1998, soon becoming unreadable from scrolling by so fast. He also thinks back to Monique's introduction, when she said that Diane would be intrigued by how things would work out in her future schedule.[1]

         First, Carlos calls Max on her cell phone number (which is the same). We see Max in a sort of hideout -- with Dot, Ifurita, Kat, and Doug also there. Max answers the phone, but doesn't recognize either Carlos or Roberta. However, she is disturbed at what they seem to know. Before it goes on too long, she hangs up and consults with Dot on what to do. [2] Then Chip calls Dot on her cell phone. Dot answers, while gesturing to Max and Ifurita who are working to trace the call. Dot says firmly that the real Chip is dead, and Chip explains that he is from another universe. Dot is naturally skeptical, and refuses to disclose anything or give a location. Eventually they hang up -- as Ifurita explains that they are somewhere in Mountain View. Dot tells the others that this could be a trap or distraction -- she will work on securing the headquarters, and suggests the others scout the newcomers.

         Chip, Carlos, and Roberta go to an Internet cafe in downtown Mountain View to do research. Chip finds that he is missing and presumed dead after a daylight gang attack on a pier in SF about a year ago. Roberta finds that in this universe she has a husband named Esteban, a part-time hot-shot tech manager, while she has a high-power job at Google. Carlos researches Hans, and finds that he has an East Bay practice, while Carlos is in medical school at SFSU. He calls Hans and explains what has happened. Hans is confused at first, but then disturbed once he hears that Carlos knows about what happened in Africa. He agrees to meet in an hour at Dana Street Coffee. However, about forty minutes into their research, Ifurita finds them in the cafe and forcefully marches them out while making excuses to the attendant. She acts oddly stiff, and has taken orders from Max and called her "mistress" in response.

         Outside, they are met by Kat who confirms that they aren't vampires (by smell). Doug pulls up in a big Ford car, and Ifurita ties their hands and packs them in. Doug drives them up to a private but non-secret spot: an empty storm sewer chamber in Colma. Dot is there to meet them. Over much blathering by Chip and more pointed questions from Dot and her side, a lot is revealed. It seems that in this world, Vampster was never incorporated. Dot and Max remember Roberta as a contractor at their old company, i-bullshit.com, but haven't heard of her since then. Instead, they started taking on the undead more seriously -- and now refer to themselves as "The Stakes". They find the idea of being in a software company funny, and Dot suggests that Vampster seems like working a day job and fighting evil a bit on the side. Chip continues to talk about their alternate selves -- revealing that Dot and Max are lovers and having a child together. Dot cracks up at this, and refers to it being the "gay" universe, and immediately apologizes to a disgruntled Max and Kat. It seems that Max and Kat are lovers here. Kat is quite wild and threatening, half-shifting into wolf form once out of public. Dot is apparently hooked up with Doug here. Chip continues,

Chip: What about, you know, what happened in '98? (gestures around his belly)
Dot: What are you talking about?
Chip: What, did you have an abortion or something and never tell anyone?
Dot is unnerved by this and breaks off talking with him to consult with Max.

         Eventually Dot decides that the Stakes has other, more pressing problems -- notably the super-vampire Tadashi. She and Max agree that this seems likely to be a distraction or lure for a trap -- even if they believe they are telling the truth. She overrules Kat and considers letting them go, but she has to know if it is safe. She suggests that Max cast a spell to confirm if they are telling the truth -- to see if they have any strategic or tactical information to be used against the Stakes. Max prepares some, then casts the spell just as Chip is starting to talk about his relationship with Ifurita. There are some interesting tidbits as various comments of his about their relationship are revealed as true. But after some questioning, Dot concludes that all they have is non-vital background information most of which is wrong.

         At this point, Carlos suggests that he may have useful information -- that this might be the work of the First Evil, and that the alternate of his friend Hans may be involved. Dot agrees to spare Ifurita and Doug to go check it out, but the others need to keep to their current mission. Max puts a tracer spell on Roberta, then Doug drives them all down to Dana Street while Ifurita flies. Ifurita sits incognito in the coffee shop, while Doug takes up a sniper position to cover Carlos. Carlos sits by the window and waits.

         Hans shows up, and after the obligatory handshake he talks with Carlos for a while. Carlos questions him, and concludes that he has given up on the whole idea of the Watchers. Hans is defensive, and says that its true, but insists that he is doing good as a doctor -- that the Watchers aren't needed anymore. Carlos convinces him that he was wrong, but he is still unsure of what to do. He says he tried to talk to a local Slayer, and got a long hospital stay as a result. Carlos concludes this is Dot and starts to talk about her, but suddenly Ifurita intervenes and cuts their conversation short as she forces Carlos out of the shop. Checking for orders from Max, she deposits Carlos with the others and then leaves.

         On their own again, Roberta, Chip, and Carlos come up with a plan to call Tadashi using what they know about him in their world. They feed him something pretty close to their real story, and try to lure him to a spot where Dot and the rest of the Vampster crew can ambush him. Chip emails Ifurita through a back door contact he knows [3], explaining the plan and asking for backup. Dot and the others agree to provide backup as long as it doesn't delay their midnight raid.

         So they take a cab out to the Pulgas Water Temple -- the planned spot for the ambush.[4] They call Tadashi, who is intrigued by their story. He is particularly interested at the idea of Vampster -- a cool way to get victims. He seems to think that Chip is a vampire, but is confused thinking that for sure Chip had been dusted (though he seems a bit unsure). He says he will meet them down there by ten o'clock. Meanwhile, the Stakes have positioned themselves surrounding the spot for ambush.

         As Roberta, Chip, and Carlos are waiting, Ned appears. This seems to be the Ned from their universe, who is confused by what happened and trying to find his way back. However, he doesn't offer any help to them, as he is apparently some sort of mental projection with no physical form (and also doesn't seem inclined to stick his neck out). As he is talking, they hear three cars pull up. They are tricked-out sports cars, and Tadashi and nine other vampires pile out -- all seeming hip frat-boy types. Tadashi is at first happy to see them, but soon he realizes that Chip is human.

Tadashi: Hey, you're not vampires!
Chip: No, in our universe I was never turned.
Tadashi: Do you mind if we turn you?
He is clearly going to, but Chip asks for some beer first which they quickly grant. Roberta then tries to separate Tadashi from the others as she shows where they supposedly came through into this dimension. However, the vampires stay in close.

         At this point, Ifurita swoops in carrying Dot and Doug -- whom she drops off at Tadashi. Dot and Doug each wound one of his wingmen, and Ifurita swipes at Tadashi but misses. Roberta then trips Tadashi [* Drama Point], but he scissors his legs and takes her down as well. One vampire grabs Dot, but Doug stakes two vampires [* Drama Point], freeing Dot to tackle Tadashi. Chip and Carlos successfully stake him, working together, but he survives the staking thanks to nanotech enhancement [* Season One reference]. Then suddenly, Ifurita inexplicably attacks Doug, blasting him with her key [* Bad Things Bonus]. Shortly thereafter, the Chaos Demon from earlier comes charging in to gore him -- and does a pretty nasty job. Dot then lets go of Tadashi to tackle the Chaos Demon.

         Meanwhile, Max and Kat had charged from the back to take on the bulk of the vampire gang. Kat was wounded some but they took out two pretty quickly. Roberta runs off, luring two vamps to follow her [* Drama Point for plot twist], whom she gates back to the Nexus. Dot breaks the Chaos Demon's neck, then Doug runs it through with a short sword, and then all three are engulfed by a blast from Ifurita. At this point, Roberta's gate starts behaving oddly, and all of the archways around the water temple turn into gateways.[* move into narrative description] However, at this point Tadashi has Chip held hostage and backs up to the edge, demanding that Roberta drop the gates so he can get back to the cars. She doesn't, but then Ifurita (freed from control) slams into Tadashi from the side and after a brief struggle blows his head off.

         At a loss for words and eager to get back to their own universe, Roberta, Chip, and Carlos take their chances with the swirling gateways which Roberta is just starting to understand. They show back up in the normal Vampster offices just as another Chaos Demon corpse is being dealt with, and the others just look mildly surprised and say "Where have you been?"

(Closing Credits)

NOTES:

  1. As GM, I put off both Monique's introduction (which I had forgotten to give) and Chip's view of the screen until after the universe shift.
  2. The GM had informed all the players a week in advance that they would be playing their alternate-universe selves. Just after they disappeared, the GM went with them to have a secret conference for five minutes to clarify remaining items.
  3. Liz spent a drama point for the plot twist to have a secret way to contact Ifurita, since the Stakes had dropped all other lines of contact as a safeguard.
  4. The Pulgas Water Temple is a picturesque spot in the hills over San Carlos, cf. photo and hiking notes.


2.10 Consequences

(Aired Mar 11, 2005)

         We begin late on Friday as the Vampster crew begin to disperse. Carlos asks what Chip is up to, and they both head off to Gaseous for dancing and DJing. Dot and Max are packing up a picnic to have out in a Colma graveyard. Dot explains that she wants to try to fulfill her vampire-slaying quota early this year, since by October she's going to be too busy to keep up.[1] She mentions that she is hoping Ifurita will be able to take over slayage for a few months. Meanwhile, Roberta is working late and trying to find a replacement developer for Ken. Doug is unpacking a huge crate he's received from Ireland and setting up wards on the other-dimensional portals

         By 8 PM or so, Chip and Carlos are in the swing of things at Gaseous. Dot and Max lay in wait for some vampires in a Colma graveyard with a picnic of brie, bread, and other stuff laid out. Doug and Roberta are still at work. Roberta hears a noise and suddenly the electrical outline of a demon (like the Id monster from Forbidden Planet) stalks out of Ken's cube. Roberta flees through the nearest door, making a portal to her house. A few minutes later, she is explaining to Dot and Max on the phone when she what sounds like the same demon at her house. She again runs through a portal, this time back to the office. Dot and Max meet her there. They investigate Ken's cube, which is almost completely destroyed. While they are investigating, signs of the demon appear to head towards the hallway printer. Dot quickly runs to grab the printer, then calls to Roberta to prepare to gate it out. Dot tosses it through a doorway and it disappears.

         Roberta had opened the gate by instinct and only now realized that she had sent it to her home.[2] Dot, Max, and Roberta drive together to Roberta's house, which is surrounded by fire trucks. It has burned down nearly completely, though thankfully her cat got out in time. A policeman comes over to question her about the circumstances and what enemies she has. As he starts to grill her, a good-looking fire chief comes over and backs the policeman off, offering to help.[3] Dot and Max exchange a glance and quickly back off, deciding to ditch her so the fire chief can offer her a ride home.

         Dot and Max go back to the graveyard to continue their slaying date. Roberta calls Ifurita and gets a ride to her apartment from the fire chief, Esteban -- the same name as her husband in the alternate universe. Meanwhile Chip and Carlos have heard about what is going on, and are headed to meet Roberta at Ifurita's. While they are driving down, Chip gets a call from Monique -- who tells Chip that she has been attacked and her posh apartment burnt up. Chip gives her Ifurita's address and tells her to meet him there.

         When Dot and Max arrive, the others are all in Iffy's apartment discussing with Monique what is going on. Monique referred in passing to something about what happened to Carlos in Africa, which immediately set off some bells. Dot immediately tries to kick Monique out, but as Chip resists. Eventually Dot just insists she go out on the balcony for a smoke, while the others talk about what's going on. They eventually decide to head back to the Nexus and do some research -- on how it moves through the Internet (over UDP), where it came from, what it is trying to do, and most importantly how to defeat it. As they are deciding, Chip mentions that Ifurita should be careful as she has an internal wireless connection. She concentrates for a moment, then suddenly collapses unconscious. She comes awake in a moment, saying that she's fighting the demon off and saying that she should be put in her nanotech apparatus to regenerate.

         Everyone is shaken up by that, but the demon still doesn't appear. We decide to continue with the plan and head back to Vampster HQ, with Dot carrying the massive appatus with Iffy inside. Carlos wants to go back to his apartment to get some books from his library, so suggests that two of them should go there. Dot teases him about luring girls back to "check out his books", and Carlos is mortified and almost walks off by himself. Dot chases after him, though, and stops him. By threat of force, she makes him agree to wait and go with her to collect the needed books. They collect them and spend a few hours late into the night researching the demon. It turns out to be a Denizen of the Formless Void, which was possibly sent by a Chaos Demon Lord -- Togth's boss. It is immune to magic, can travel over UDP, and is available for hire.

         Dot, Max, Carlos, and Chip take a trip out into the chaos dimension where Togth comes from to visit his boss and ask about it. They leave Doug and Roberta back at Vampster, standing by a door with Iffy's apparatus on dollies beside them. The four dimension-hoppers meet Togth and go with him to his boss' castle. After walking over a tongue-shaped bridge, they find the boss (with an unpronounceable name) who they find sent a Denizen to take revenge on Samuel Devins, by destroying everything that was ever near and dear to him. Suddenly it becomes clear what has been going on, and the group quickly break off negotiations to get back to Roberta and Monique.

         Luckily, both of them are still OK. Quickly they concoct a plan to lure the demon to a place where they can fight and defeat it. They decide to set up a printer down in the garage, then cut the cable when the demon shows up, and then all beat on it. (i.e. A typical Dot plan.) In short, the plan works. The demon shows up and creates a body out of the printer and table. Everyone then attacks it. It struggles violently but doesn't land a good blow, then Togth rips out a sprinker pipe and impales it. He then carries it to the elevator, where Roberta sets up a portal to close and cut it in half. The portal again goes awry, putting the other half on the other side of everyone. The demon explodes, knocking most everyone down.

NOTES:

  1. The ceremony to make Dot pregnant happened around January 8 or so (when Business Relations aired). This would put her due date at October 1, 2005. She is currently nearing the end of her first trimester (which will end March 19).
  2. Cynthia rolled a "1" on her attempt to gate the demon out, after specifying that she doesn't care where she sends it.
  3. Madeline spends a Drama Point for a plot twist to have a romantically good-looking firefighter step in to take the pressure off Roberta.
  4. 20 damage


2.11 Breaking In

(Aired Mar 25, 2005)

         We pick up over a week after the demon attack, on Monday at work. The office is buzzing about Roberta's situation. Her insurance is coming through fine, but they have been very specific that they want her next residence to be more secure to deal with future threats. Various suggestions are offered, but eventually they call Ms. Jagar. Roberta is skeptical of this, complaining about the problems of being Nexus Guardian -- that she can't control teleporting out, for example. This establishes her firmly as a "glass half empty" personality. Someone (?) calls Ms. Jagar for advice.

         Meanwhile, Carlos arranges a meeting to talk to Hans about the history of children born to Slayers. He tells Hans about Dot's pregnancy, and its unusual nature.

         Ms. Jagar calls back and reports that she has an excellent prospect: a place in a non-gated yet secure community called "Harte's Repose". It is a condominium-like setup with fees for the grounds and other community services. They arrange to meet the president of the Resident's Association, Ellen Li. Ms. Jagar shows up in her Rolls-Royce at Vampster, and many of the gang tag along including Dot, Max, Chip and Doug. They meet Ellen at the local country club. She is an affluent Chinese woman in her forties who speaks perfect English. She shows them around the country club which also has a spa. While Dot relaxes in the spa, the others are shown the rest of the facilities. They chat in the bar with a view overlooking the weight machines room where various buff men are sweatily working out. Ellen explains about the place, which seems to have mostly professional couples (given the high prices, this seems to fit).

         They then go to the house itself. Doug checks out the security system which seems quite good. For a demonstration of the more advanced security, they go outside. At Ellen's request, Ms. Jagar summons a demon -- and immediately two robots rush in which beat the demon senseless. Roberta is suitably impressed, but still cautious.

         Meanwhile, Max has been dealing with two problems: first, curing Ifurita, and second securing the Vampster network. She works for a while on Ifurita's problem, and it appears that the demonic attack somehow set her nanochips in some unrecoverable mode. Having worked several days on this, Max eventually discovers how to fix the state and set Ifurita on the path to recovery (in her own unnatural healing sort of way). She has also been dealing with how the demon penetrated Vampster security and who the other hacker that has been breaking in is. She eventually finds that the penetrations are through bugs in the MythSoft code -- the database software that they inherited from the previous owner and current facilities ghost, Joshua Silverton. She looks at it, but the code is a complete mess (having been maintained by zombies). She believes that someone at Discrete Software is behind this.

         Dot proposes a plan to break into Discrete Software's offices to find out what they're up to. So at midnight on Saturday, most of the gang show up at Walnut Creek, park across the street, and sneak over to break in. Chip finds a way in through a poorly-locked side door, and walks around to the front to let the others in while they're still struggling with the security systems. They get inside the offices, and had just taken a picture of a Gant chart in one of the conference rooms, when the lights come on. Monique is standing there with two police officers.

         Through some quick talking, poor statements on Monique's part, and revealing of the relationship between Chip and Monique -- they manage to talk themselves into being kicked out without being arrested. Monique is apparently infuriated at their intrusion.

NOTES:

  1. John spent a Drama Point for a Plot Twist that .


2.12 Damage Control

(Aired Apr 8, 2005)

         This was part one of the four-part finale, which began on Monday at Vampster HQ -- a little over a week after breaking into Discrete Software. At the office, Max was helping fellow programmer Frank secure the networks from the gaping holes in the MythNet code. Meanwhile, Carlos was collecting ingredients for a spell to do on Uma to splice the influence of Kali out of her. Roberta had a stack of papers in her office, having signed the agreement for moving into Harte's Repose. She was pondering how to furnish it, and on an impulse called Esteban and invited him to a housewarming on Saturday. Iffy finally got out of her pod that day, and shortly thereafter called her mother Lauren, who had left a ton of messages. Lauren wanted her to see a neurologist that Dr. Stevin referred her to -- a Dr. Lawrence. After she agreed, her mom informed her that she had an appointment already scheduled for Thursday morning. Chip was talking obsessively about baby stuff around the office, and went out to lunch with Carlos to chat about it. Carlos filled him in on the history of Slayer mothers: there were apparently two documented children of Slayers, and two rumored ones -- but all of them were boys. After lunch, the office is buzzing with suggested baby names, each one sillier than the last.

         Two days later, Max's threat spider program found a private message on the Vampster network from a student at Stanford who mentioned Uma and said that the evil of paganism must be utterly destroyed, to meet later at 6PM that day at the student center. Checking the Stanford records, there was a drama club meeting and a Bible study group in that time slot. Max researched further, and found a little on the likely note writer, one Todd Greer. [1] He was a Republican, right-wing Christian, and champion target shooter.

         Immediately, Carlos headed to Uma's dorm at Stanford to talk before the meeting, accompanied by Max and Dot for backup. Max and Dot waited outside as Carlos went in to talk with her. Carlos began with an awkward introduction of the problem -- not really making the threat clear. Before he can explain fully, Uma cut him off to say, "Carlos, this isn't working." She began to talk about him, which at first seemed to be about their dating -- but then she referred to secret things from his past in an eerie way...

Uma: I know that cutting out a part of yourself worked for you, but I'm not like that.
Carlos: Wait, what are you talking about?
Uma: I can't just forget about my past the way that you did.
She was referring to his past in Africa, in which he and Hans and five other Watchers clashed with the First Evil. His memories of that expedition had been purged to avert the trauma and possible brainwashing that had occurred. The conversation continued,
Uma: I can't just dissect the Kali part away from the rest of me.
Carlos: I'm not going out with Kali.
Uma: Well then you're not going out with me.
In the end, Carlos was horribly upset and walked out -- angry at Uma, giving her up for lost, or possibly both. Outside, he met with Max and Dot and suggested they go get a drink at the pub.

         The others went to the Stanford student center, where Doug tried to infiltrate the bible study session and Chip investigated the drama club (just to be sure). Kat and Iffy were keeping guard in the lobby as backup. The bible studiers were suspicious of Doug from the start, and began to grill him. Midway through their interrogation, Chip walked in and blurted out something about Uma. Realizing the setup, Todd and his buddies started to leave in a huff. However, Iffy confronted Todd on his way out, challenging his online opinion that women were not suited for shooting. They argued loudly for a while -- drawing the attention of Carlos, Dot, and Max on their way to the pub. Todd ended up dismissing Iffy, and he and his friends walked off but were tailed by all the others. They headed directly for Uma's dorm, where they were going to perform an "intervention".

         The Vampster crew then confronted them in the stairwell of Uma's dorm, trying to stop them from doing violence to Uma. Then Todd explained that Uma's soul needs saving and they were going to confront her with her need to turn away her sinful past and family. Carlos quickly became convinced that they were set up by someone to their (and Uma's) doom, and demanded to know who lead them to this. Unfortunately, they had openly talk about the supernatural and even mentioned being Vampster employees -- which came across as fairly raving. Todd refused to reveal his sources, but agreed to leave Uma in peace after the scene they made.

         After Todd left, Carlos again went to talk to Uma. She remained upset and uncomfortable, but Kat stayed behind in wolf form to look after her. After the others have gone, Uma let out some of how upset she was to Kat, who silently consoled her with soulful doggie looks. After a spate of angst, she went out to play ball with Kat on the quads.

         The next day (Thursday), Iffy had her visit to the neurologist, Dr. Lawrence, who was one of the tweed-clad would-be Watchers. She asked Carlos about him, who said that "Dr. Larry" seemed like a fine guy. At the Berkeley hospital, she went through a battery of tests from CAT scans to blood work, and after several hours met with Dr. Lawrence for the results. Paraphrased, their conversation went like --

Dr. Larry: While I won't know for sure until all of the tests come back, I am hopeful that your condition is treatable.
Iffy: My cond... (boggled pause) What did my mother tell you?
Dr. Larry: She explained that you had been transformed by a nanotechnologist to be his servant, and that while free, recently you had been having some problems.
Iffy: The problem was that a demon tried to break its way into my head and set all the nanochips into sleep mode. But there is no way I will go back to being a normal girl again.
Dr. Larry: Look, I know that a lot of girls your age are attracted by having various enhancements made to you. But as a doctor, I have to disapprove. We don't even know the health effects of this. (etc.)
Iffy was absolutely furious with both her mother and Dr. Lawrence. Lawrence apologized, assuring her that of course he wouldn't do anything without her full understanding and permission. He then recommended a software expert he knew for the firewall issue, and he also gave her the card for a psychiatrist he recommended. Fuming, Iffy took the cards and left in a huff.

         That afternoon at Vampster, Roberta got a call from Samuel Devins. He was suspiciously nice, saying how sorry he was about what had happened to Vampster -- and what jerks the press are, one CEO to another. Instantly alerted, Roberta demanded to know what he has done, but he said she'd find out soon enough. Just then, the news about Vampster broke -- first on Slashdot, but soon elsewhere. A recording of the crew's conversation in the hall with Todd had been circulated, documenting how they broke into the private messages of a bible study class and went to harrass them with ravings about a wrathful goddess. This was an absolute press nightmare, and for the next 24 hours every employee was desperately trying to keep the flooded servers up, and put some sort of spin on the bad press.

----------------------

         The next evening (Friday), Max intercepted the hacker who had been breaking into their systems. He had been trying to crack into their website to put in an embarrassing message. She recognized cues about his identity as the programmer Ned who had worked with Monique. Researching further, she identified "Ned" as one Edward Werkin, a programmer who had been kidnapped some nine years ago, but over the last few years had resurfaced doing telecommuting work. Looking over the info collected on him, Doug recognized his IP address as being in faerie (distinguished by imaginary integer fields). He then called his grandmother Fiona, a faerie princess. She greeted him warmly, and was happy to fill him in. As she explained, Ned was working for Mr. Devins -- but they both were protected among fairy politics because Devins had negotiated a refinancing of the Tithe. The Tithe was a fairy tradition of sacrificing one from among the brightest in fairy paid every seven years to hell. Thus, she said that he is officially an ally of faerie -- but off the record, she told Doug where Ned could be found.

         The whole crew then prepared to head off into Faerie (except for Kat, who was still with Uma). Roberta opened the gate, which appeared deep in Faerie just past many obstacles (including a bridge with a troll and other classics).[2] Entering, they found a wooden hut deep in the woods there, a classic storybook house except for the DSL connection outside. As they approached, a holographic image of Ned confronted them. He tried to distract them, but Max and Dot dashed to break inside. The interior is filled with hand-made old wood furnishings, along with servers and other computer equipment piled on top of them. However, no Ned. Luckily, Chip caught Ned sneaking away from the back of the hut with a laptop. Dot lead a quick and forceful interrogation of Ned, leaving a broken nose and many bruises. He claimed to have been working for Devins, and occaisionally loaned out to Monique. As they questioned him about operations, he mentioned the plot to eliminate Uma -- who had been tagged as a supernatural threat by Devins' operation. He said he didn't know much about who had been sent after her -- just a bunch of guys with guns. Suddenly they think back to Uma.

         At that moment, back at the Stanford dorm room, Uma had been preparing to go to sleep with Kat on the rug, when a knock came on the door. She asked who it was, and Todd answers. Kat nodded to her not to open it, and Uma stepped back to hide. Suddenly the handle was shot out and Todd burst in. Barking furiously, Kat attacked him, slashing him across the chest and pushing him back across the hallway. However, outside in the hall, there were four more guys dressed in black paramilitary gear with pistols. Two of them shot at her (one hit), while two others burst inside the dorm room.

         Meanwhile, the others in Faerie had been trying to gate back in. They were taking Ned with them, but he warned them that he couldn't easily be removed from Faerie -- that was his curse. As he explained it, if they tried to take him out, he would uncontrollably change into different creatures (serpent, eel, sparrow, hornet) which would try to escape. Dot and Iffy tried to hold him between them as they went though the gate, but he slipped through their fingers. [3] Carlos then took a crossbow shot at the sparrow flying away, which just missed but distracted it enough that Iffy managed to catch it in midair. Flying back down, she dragged Ned through the gate and he became human again.

         Meanwhile, Kat was in the dorm room hall when she heard a scream behind her and rushes back in to attack both guys in Uma's room. She missed, but at least diverted their attention from Uma who was hiding under her desk. Both of them shot at Kat, wounding her further. At that point, suddenly the desk lifted up off the ground. Flashing dark fire from her eyes, Uma lifted the desk over her head and smashed it into the two commandoes before her.[4] Kat leapt out at the guys in the hall and took down Todd, but was shot by one of the others and went down herself. [5]

         At that point, the others started to charge in from where they gated in on the dormitory stairwell at the end of the hall. Max and Chip were the first ones on the scene. Max cast a powerful spell which completely vaporized the two commandoes still standing in the hall.[6] Chip ran around the corner into Uma's room, and found a commando there who had just slid out from under the desk and pulled a combat knife. Chip punched him, but the guy ignored him. Instead, he and the other survivor both tried to stab Kali, and one succeeded. Kali then slashed out with her claws at all three of them -- the two commandos as well as Chip! With tremendous force, she took them all down bloodily in one slash. [7] Max rushed up to have a look at Kat, who was unconcious on the floor from her gunshot wounds. Carlos ran into the room and ducked to the side, then tried to treat Chip who was on the floor. Finally, Ifurita and Dot got there, and simultaneously Iffy blasted Kali then Dot kicked her almost out of the window. With Max's help, Kat revived -- coming around only to see that Todd was secretly reaching for his gun again. However, suddenly the gun leapt away from him and skittered across the floor over to Ned.[8] Kat then rushed up to stand in front of Iffy's key. There was a moment of face-off now.

         Iffy lowered her key as Uma/Kali stands back up in front of the window. Kat then (still in wolf form) walked over to her and looked at her solemnly. Uma put a clawed right hand on Kat's head and said, "I'm sorry, but you know that the goddess requires death." and then -- before anyone can react -- she tore out her own throat with her left hand. Close to credits.

NOTES:

  1. 2 successes in research.
  2. Cynthia spent a Drama Point on her roll open the gate.
  3. These were bad rolls on both Iffy's and Dot's part.
  4. Liz spent a Drama Point for the plot twist that Uma was empowered via Kali.
  5. At this point, there was a discussion of the death roll and drama point spending here. The end result was that Shannon spent the Drama Point to halve damage after the hit. Kat was unconscious but didn't have to make a death roll.
  6. This was Power 9 spell for 120 damage each.
  7. This was 25 damage doubled for slashing. Chip had to make a death check but he automatically succeeded due to his Hard to Kill bonus.
  8. Someone (Liz?) spent a Drama Point for a plot twist that Ned took out Todd.


2.13 Unhealed Wounds

(Aired Apr 22, 2005)

         This was part two of the four-part finale, starting right where the last episode left off late on Friday, April 8. The Vampster crew were scattered around Uma's dorm room sprayed with her blood. Chip was unconcious and losing blood from Uma's claw lashing, while Kat was gravely wounded with three bullets in her. Hearing the campus police approaching, Roberta made a gate in the closet door back to Vampster, and everyone hustled out. They took Ned with them, but upon checking the hall after the confusion, they found that Todd had disappeared. After getting back to Vampster, Dot belatedly realized that Kat hadn't come through. She then rushed back in, slammed the door in the face of a policeman there, and held it while Max dragged the unconcious, human, and naked Kat out through the portal.

         Back in HQ, Carlos immediately treated Chip's wounds while others called an ambulance for Kat and Chip. They met the ambulance outside of Vampster. They had only quickly cobbled together a story -- that the two were attacked somewhere outside Vampster and made there way there to get help. Dot simply refused to talk at all, instead breaking into partially faked hysterics. At the hospital, the police questioned them more as Chip and Kat were being treated. There are several talks with the police -- talking to both Chip and Kat after they recovered as well as others. As Saturday morning approached, Dot stayed at the hospital to keep guard over Chip and Kat, while most of the others went back to Vampster.

         In the meantime, most of the others tried to sleep camped out at the office, then woke up to continue to struggle against the PR engine that was steamrolling Vampster -- while also trying to research what Devins was up to. In the afternoon, they heard that an unrelated blogger had found pictures linking Devins to the preacher of a conservative church that funded "Camp Masada" where Todd had trained.[1] Soon blogs were buzzing with conflicting stories: some reported the attack on Vampster employees and suspecting Todd and his gang, while others speculated on what Vampster was up to.

         Further, Laini had not checked in for a while. Carlos went to her apartment to check on her. He found signs that she had been kidnapped.

         By the afternoon, Kat had healed almost completely thanks to her werewolf nature.[2] However, she was depressed and surly. When the nurses came in and tried to wheel her off for surgery, she snapped at them. They then tried to sedate her, and she brazenly changed into her wolf form in front of them. Dot immediately rushed in, but didn't want to fight her there in the middle of the hospital. Instead, she shadowed Kat as she raced out the front doors of the hospital. However, Dot lost her in a nearby woods.

         Back at HQ, they had also been keeping Ned a prisoner there, since when he arrived he immediately went to a computer terminal and sent out a secret message. In response, they had locked him in a spare room. Sometime in the middle of the day, Ifurita went in to question him. He then temporarily possessed her, taking her key for himself and sending her leaping out through the window. Max then tried to stop him, but he managed to temporarily possess her as well. Finally he was slugged and knocked out, then carefully tied up, blindfolded, and drugged.

         Having lost Kat's trail, Dot returned to HQ, and went to Max for help. They wanted to track down Kat, but Dot also had the idea of trying to screw up Devins' deal with Faerie by talking with the folks in Hell. First things being first, though, late on Saturday afternoon, Max managed to magically track Kat's location on Stanford grounds near the SLAC particle accelerator. Roberta opened a gate to there. However, after walking through, she realized that there was another gate nearby -- possibly one that Todd and company had used (!). The entire Vampster crew then piled through the gateway to investigate this and where it lead. They went to the new gateway, near the end of the SLAC beamline. They encountered a technician checking the beamline, who tried to get them away, but Dot knocked him out. The beam then activated and the gate opened.

         They went through it to emerge in a strange land in the midest of rolling green hills. A path from the gateway lead to a white stone pyramid among the hills, with the symbol of an eye at the top. Walking up to it, they entered to see Laini tied to a stone altar near the center. On the inside walls all around were television screens where the blocks of the pyramid would go. Most were blank but some had points-of-view of everyday life. Looking up, they saw a square ceiling screen with a bouncing eye icon -- plus a host of evil-looking faeries lead by Todd in green plate armor.

NOTES:

  1. Someone (?) spent a drama point for someone in the blogosphere to find a connection between Todd and Devins.
  2. After some struggle to determine how werewolves heal, we accepted that they healed the same as vampires based on an unclear reference to "supernatural creatures".


2.14 The Glass Ceiling

(Aired May 6, 2005)

         This was part three of the four-part finale, and picks up right where the last episode left off late -- Saturday night, April 9. It starts with the Vampster crew in the white pyramid, facing a group of evil-looking faeries lead by Todd. As they faced off with him, suddenly the ceiling turned transparent, letting them see up into a small, richly-furnished office set up in the top of the pyramid. Sitting there looking down through the floor was Samuel Devins. He welcomed them, and was met by a string of curses from Roberta and others.

         Todd was wearing green plate armor, with a sword sheathed at one hip and a pistol holster on the other. He was held aloft by two of the faeries. There were a dozen of these faeries, who looked like distorted caricatures of people with flat all-white eyes and insect wings, carrying a variety of makeshift weapons from scythes to spiked baseball bats to bolt cutters. Max and Doug recognized them as the Sluagh, faeries associated with the unshriven dead who make ceaseless invisible battles in the air that stain rocks and moss red with their blood. Ifurita made the first move, blasting one of the faeries holding Todd up. With a cry of delight, the faeries attacked.

         A long battle then proceeded. Max, Dot, and Tad rushed up to save Laini, only to find that the creatures there weren't actually threatening her -- but instead find they just wanted to fight.

Someone: "Wait, whose side are you on?"
Sluagh: (not understanding the concept) "Side?"
Max was wounded, and Dot then rescued her with a cry. Tad heroically leaps onto the altar to defend Laine, and looked cool but was wounded in the process.[1] Among the others, there was a confused melee. Chip was there though still weak from loss of blood. Most of the others were wounded as well (?). All of the Sluagh fought with gleeful abandon, seeming to enjoy even being defeated. Meanwhile, Todd held back from fighting until Kat tackled him and locked her jaws on his neck, eventually ripping his head off. During this time, Devins casually watched from above, making some microwave popcorn while doing so.

         After the fight was over, they spoke to Devins in disgust. From talking to Laini, it was apparent to all of the Sluagh that they knew and expected Laini to be rescued -- but were just there to have the fight. Meanwhile, most of the Vampster crew were hurting in one way or another. Devins talked to Todd, whose ripped-off head replied that he was fine -- after which Iffy blasted it with her key. Her jaws covered in blood, Kat ran off as soon as the others approached her -- heading out the door into the hills. The others guardedly returned to Vampster, while Roberta and Dot stayed behind. Iffy returned, having lost Kat in the faerie woods.

         Back at Vampster, a number of strange conversations occurred. What seemed to be Dot appeared in Max's cube, and began to grill her about watching out for herself. She questioned whether Max was really committed to their family. Then she disappeared as Carlos showed up. After brief confusion, Carlos concluded that this had been the First Evil, and quickly arranged to meet with his friend Hans to determine what to do. As he walked out to Dana Street Coffee, he saw Uma at the corner. Panicking, he ran with his hands to his ears. He talked for a time with Hans, comparing notes.

         Back at the office, Roberta received a call. It was from Esteban. He talked only quickly, saying that he didn't believe the bad things that people were saying about Vampster, but it didn't matter. He had his kids to worry about, and asked her not to call him again. As Roberta sighed, Josh -- or what appeared to be Josh -- walked in. He talked to her about the problems in her life, and why she was struggling to get nowhere underneath the glass ceiling.

         Chip called Monique, worried that something might have happened. She was dismissive and curt with him, and he soon had his eyes widen as he concluded that she had somehow died and that he too had talked to the First Evil.

         Others, in the meantime, were being treated for their wounds by Max and Carlos. They also planned and discussed about what to do. They heard on the news that Uma's parents had been broken out of prison. They concluded for the moment that Devins was trying to create a supernatural disaster -- that would be Uma -- that would justify the need for his security system care of Discrete Software.

NOTES:

  1. Jim spent a Drama Point on his Acrobatics roll to leap onto the altar, but not directly on his fighting.


2.15 Finale

(Aired June 3, 2005)

         This was part four of the four-part finale. It began with an extra-long "Last time on Silicon Valley Slayage" as we recapped the previous three parts in this four-part episode. It then picked up Sunday afternoon (April 10), with the Vampster crew sitting around the office discussing what to do. They believed that Devins' plan was to let the Gupta's raise Kali through Uma's dead body, then prove the effectiveness of his supernatural threat-tracking by stopping it. After all, without a credible threat, the government wouldn't believe or buy his stuff. However, they had no proof.

         Max then started on heavy duty magical research -- focusing with Monique's fate-tracking software. Having surveyed the problem for a while, she finally discovered the key. She learned that only Roberta, Chip, and Carlos' fates were being tracked -- since they had been entered into the system in the alternate universe episode (2.09 A Practical World). She then developed a spell to block the fate tracking on those three for as long as she maintains the spell. However, she couldn't permanently prevent it without access to Discrete Software's servers.

         With help from the others, she forms a magic circle which the three of them sit in, and successfully completes the ritual. [1] Now sure that they are not being watched, the others plan their real strategy for attack. The crew have some misgivings over what to prioritize. While it seems like Devins is behind all this and has manipulated the Guptas, he wants to save the world (to sell his product) while Kali manifesting would be doom of a much greater scale. So they agree as the first order of business to track down Uma's body and try to prevent her manifesting, then go after Devins. By now it is late on Sunday.

         Iffy called her mother, asking her at first about Uma's funeral arrangements -- and trying to drag out what's happened to the body. Lauren immediately clued in that something was going on, and refused to cooperate until Iffy leveled with her. Iffy then vented at her mother, saying that she doesn't have time to deal with this stupid stuff with the end of the world coming. Taken aback only slightly, Lauren praised her communication and said that of course she would track the body down.

         Meanwhile, the others were planning about how to get to Devins and to this fate-tracking software. They knew that he had made a deal with faerie, which gave him allies and some sort of magical power for the software program. However, they weren't sure just how that tied in. Moreover, they weren't even sure that stopping him was such a good thing what with the end of the world potentially coming. So then Doug put in a call to his grandmother Fiona. She was blase about the end of the world, but helpful enough -- explaining that there was a gateway from Devins' pyramid deep in faerie to the servers in Discrete Software. That was a key to the system. They pondered getting at the servers through there. However, she also said that the Sluagh were itching for another fight with someone. Lastly, she had heard some news about a werewolf in the fay forests as well.

         Late in the day, Lauren called back with information on Uma's body. It was apparently still in the coroner's office, since she called to confirm the identity and was told to come in on Monday morning. She had the office where to show up. The Vampster crew immediately collected info on the office, and prepared to gate in. Bursting in through the doors into the office, they surrounded the lone worker there and questioned him. They soon realized that while the body was back on its slab, a ritual had already been done on it -- and the people who did it (including Rupa Gupta) had left only minutes ago. Dot and Ifurita raced to catch them, while the others brought Uma's body back to Vampster.

         In the parking lot outside the coroner's, Dot and Iffy charged Mrs. Gupta and the two men with her. The men drew guns, but Iffy descended on them with a vengeance from above. She blasted one with her key, then bloodily hamstrung the other with a katana. Taken a bit aback by the violence, Dot nevertheless leapt through the front windshield of the car Rupa was entering to stop her. Iffy then smashed through the driver's side door to threaten and interrogate her. Rupa said that she wished nothing but the best for her daughter, who was to have a great future. When asked where her husband was, she calmly responded that she would throw herself upon a fire before betraying him. Iffy tried to torture her, stretching her arm out of the broken glass of the window, but she remained steadfast. Now a bit chagrined at the damage, the two carefully drove the smashed-up car back to Vampster in Mountain View.

         When they arrived, Carlos was horrified at the violence. The Indian man blasted by Iffy had died of shock during the drive, and the other was nearly dead from loss of blood. Carlos did what he could, then convinced Iffy to take the man to the emergency room. As she was returning to the office, she encountered a girl standing on the sidewalk. Suddenly she recognized the girl as herself -- Andrea Cheung -- prior to her sickness and transformation. The First then spoke to her, and offered information. It explained that it wanted Devins defeated, since after all it wanted to destroy the world. Andrea/The First gave advice how to sabotage the fate software, where the backups were, and told of Devins' plan for an enchanted bomb planted to stop Kali after a short but still shocking killing spree. It also spoke as Andrea, though, telling Ifurita how she had killed her -- to be replaced with a body nothing like her own. Iffy winced a bit, but took it and left. In parting, the First complimented her on her work that night.

         Meanwhile, Max had been studying Uma's body and the ritual that was done on it.[2] She concluded that the damage has already been done. In four days, Kali would rise at Uma's body. At this point, destroying the body would simply fix Kali's rising place at the point where the body was last. From whereever she was, the goddess would then head to unleash her reign of terror on Earth. By this point, everyone in the office was exhausted and confused -- but now at least they know they have a little time. After securing a place for Rupa, they bunked down at spots around the office.

         Monday morning, they developed a plan. With Chip's encouragement, Roberta determined to get Monique on their side rather than try to break into her place and forcefully sabotage the software. Roberta's bargaining chip was Vampster itself -- a coup of an acquisition for Discrete Software, despite it's recent troubles. By offering Vampster, she hopes to convince Monique to betray Devins. Monique would thus lose her shot at the government contract and Devins' backing, but her company would still have its mundane business. During the day, Devins called Roberta to discuss the situation with her. Knowing that they had the body, he wanted to know where they would "set off" Kali. He encouraged her to cooperate, since after all they both wanted to save the world. Roberta refused to answer, of course.

         Chip called Monique first, to prime her for the offer. At his most charming, he tried to appeal to the good in her -- but eventually he agreed to obey her on a date Friday night (one day after apocalypse). Then Roberta called her. Monique had basically turned a blind eye to what Devins was doing, putting it off as none of her business and not her department.

Monique: Look, I understand what you'd like me to do, but it's really not my department. And I don't see what you could offer me to bite the hand that's feeding me.
Roberta: Vampster.
Monique: Vampster?
With this as the reward, she was hooked in and agreed to a meeting. Gating into Discrete's conference room that afternoon, they hurriedly struck a deal. Tad had heroically put together a clear and positive outline of the company's assets, and after necessary consultations with her lawyers, Monique signed.

         Monique also handed over her information on Sanjib Gupta, whose location was being tracked by her software. It turned out that he and Rupa had rented a pricey house at Roberta's development, Harte's Repose. Roberta called the head of the association, Ellen Li, who was shocked to learn of fugitives in the community. With Ellen's help, Sanjib was efficiently turned over to the police, and Roberta's crew were discretely given access past police lines to his house. There Max found the ingredients he used for the ritual on Uma, and using those got a little more ammunition for her spell to stop Kali. She has two options to try. One would be to hold off Kali's influence over Uma's mind and soul for a time, potentially allowing Uma to again pass on and leave Kali without a vessel. Another would be to simply blast and weaken Kali as she manifests, giving the others a chance to defeat her. Max pondered her options carefully as the time advanced.

         Just before dawn on Thursday morning, the Vampster crew were camped out at a remote canyon with a rented RV. Uma's body was laid out at a rock in the center of the canyon. They had set up an automated process to call Devins and tell him their location a few minutes after Kali was due to appear as a backup. Around Uma's body, Max had set up the preparations for her spell. She would try the influence spell first, and then try the weakening spell. However, both of these are of, well, god-like (or rather goddess-like) difficulty. [4]

         In a massive display of power, Max's spell held off Kali's influence just as Uma was resurrected by the arcane force of the ritual. Dragged back to life with her throat still ripped out, Uma was full of anger. When Max explains what her parents did, she at first demanded to see and kill them. However, the others talked calmly to her and explained how that would not be a good idea. Faced with their sympathy and reason, she eventually saw their point. Looking at Carlos, she sighed and said

Uma: I know what I have to do. It's just... hard. Could I say goodbye?
Carlos nodded, and she walked forward just as the power of Kali gathered around her. With the sun just coming up on the canyon, Carlos closed her eyes and Uma kissed him. When he opened his eyes, she was gone, evaporated to dust which swept around the canyon.

         A hundred miles away, Samuel Devins was sitting beside a makeshift missle launch pad erected in the woods, with Todd Greer beside him. He was looking at his laptop and cell phone, and had just tracked down the location of the canyon where the Vampster crew is.

Todd: Is she there?
Devins: I don't know, but launch it anyway.
However, just then, they both heard a growl and spun around to find Kat snarling there behind them. She charged, and Devins pushed Todd in front of him and then ran. Kat descended on Todd, while Devins ran for his life leaving behind his fingerprints all over a weapon of mass destruction within U.S. borders.

NOTES:

  1. This is a level 7 spell which must be maintained.
  2. This is another spell research roll, whose successes count toward the spell to stop Kali.
  3. Both Chip and Roberta spent drama points on Influence rolls. Chip's 3 successes then added into Roberta's roll.
  4. Both spells were Power Level 10.

 


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John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Mon Apr 10 09:51:03 2006