27a: The Conversation

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When It Happened (Chronicle Time): June, 2004

Who Was There: George Phillapoussis (Storn), Mark Donovin (Eric), Nemura Kentaro (Chris), Bruce (Matt), Yukio Ohta (Bob)

What It Was

With new and compelling information to consider, and some hard decisions to make, the Aces assemble in a quiet cottage to discuss their future. Then follows a meeting with Aglie, in which many words are exchanged but little understanding.

The Full Horror

Note: This episode was essentially a long, but very pivotal, conversation, and this recap presents as complete a record of it as possible. As a result, most of it is a collection of comments rather than a formal narrative. Nonetheless, for anyone who have read the previous recaps, these comments may prove very interesting.

The Cottage

The stage is set in Edinburgh. The Aces rent a cottage and then protect it with the best anti-surveillance safeguards Mark can establish, supplemented by several Wards, including a magic circle invoked under the direction of Cassandra.

Bruce had been awake for the two weeks preceding the battle for Tomnahurich, so he decides to get some rest. But first, he gathers Lilly's surviving remains, and then builds a cairn in which to burn them. After that, he finds a secluded place and falls asleep.

George calls Katsoulakis and tells him that Andrew Ben-Nevis "treated them poorly," and that the business is, in fact, a serpent person. Katsoulakis simply replies, "Yes." Surprised, George asks, "You knew that." Again, Katsoulakis says, "Yes."

George assumes that Ben-Nevis must know all about humans because he has disguised himself as one for years. He tells Katsoulakis that the Templars have asked them to retrieve the Crystal Skull from the Douglas family in Castle Glamis. Katsoulakis tells him it would be best not to take up that offer. George then tells Katsoulakis that Yukio seems to have learned things. Katsoulakis replies, "Mr. Ohta's decisions are his own."

Mindful of vampires, Mark has made sure the protections for the cottage include a great deal of garlic. Now he's trying to decide whether he wants to help the Templars, and perhaps, even accept their offer to join them. George does not think the Templars are bad, and he suggests that having an Ace inside their organization might be useful. At the same time, George expresses irritation that the Templars, in his view, are failing to protect their own in their own homeland.

George also shares the fact that he has been having increasingly lucid dreams.

Enter Yukio

Fresh from his stay with Daria Zannakis at the Katsoulakis Estate on Plomari, Yukio arrives in Heathrow and rents a taxi out to the cottage. Once there, and in view of the Aces, he flashes a sizable cabbage roll as he doubles the driver's fee and tells him to forget he was ever there.

Bruce wakes up soon after Yukio arrives, and Yukio, meeting him for the first time, examines Bruce with his Death sight. Bruce's Taint results in a very strange reading. Meanwhile, George and Mark notice that Yukio's aura appears normal, and therefore, he must be Shielded. It's not clear whether this is a habit for him now, or if he invoked a Shield specifically for this meeting, but the Aces do not ask him about it.

The first thing Yukio says to them is, "Do you want to play cards?" They sit around a table in the cottage. As Yukio shuffles the cards, he says, "I'm an honest dealer," then adds that George may not be. He deals cards to Mark, George, Ken, and Bruce. Mark wins the first hand. As the game continues, they begin to talk.

The Conversation

George tells Yukio that Bruce is a Mocker. Bruce describes the Mockers as "libertarians of the occult world." They have good ideas, but no organizational power to get things done.

The Aces tell Bruce about their journey to Houghton, Michigan, and the encounter with a Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath. Since they met Saint-Germain on that trip, George then asks Bruce if he knows anything about him. Bruce has heard of him, and he immediately recognizes the description of the Dark Young for what It is.

Bruce seems to know something about catastrophic forces which can tear holes in reality, such as the rift the Aces saw at Houghton. He tells them about a homeless man he and Lilly met in New York who also knew about such things. When the Aces ask Bruce if such rifts could be caused by atomic bombs, Yukio jumps in and argues that there is an analogy between atomic bombs and the power used to create the Houghton rift. And he insists that orgone is also a metaphysical analog--one which the Aces now control, thanks to the orgone engine in the Renaissance. Bruce says his version of that power is called Taint Physics.

They go around the table, and each person explains to Bruce what his or her sphere of influence is. Yukio asks Bruce if there is anyone dead he wants to contact. Yukio cannot reanimate the body, but if someone's spirit went to Geburah, Hod, or Yesod, he can bring it back.

Of course, whether the spirit went to one of these places, or to somewhere else, summoning it is a serious matter, and not to be done lightly. But Yukio says he wants to help people deal with their grief, having suffered much grief himself recently, when he nearly lost his wife's spirit to torture by a Death Lord. Yukio insists that journeying to other realms is also a serious matter, and he accuses George of doing so thoughtlessly. George objects, arguing that he has done so to benefit others and only after profound thought.

Despite these arguments, there is a feeling in the room that things are going unsaid, and finally Cassandra tells Yukio that he should say whatever it is he has to say. Yukio asks the Aces about Andrew Ben-Nevis, and he is surprised to learn that he is a serpent person. However, when he hears that the information came from Tessa and has been confirmed by Katsoulakis, Yukio agrees, it must be true.

Mark points out that the green serpents "aren't our friends, but they aren't our enemies either." Bruce says Ben-Nevis is a major Player, and that Katsoulakis sounds like a Player as well. Mark and George agree that he is, and they admit that their recent actions have effectively put New York into Katsoulakis' hands. George adds, "Well, if he doesn't mind us helping people and saving lives, then I don't have a problem with his agenda."

Yukio tells the Aces that he left New York for metaphysical reasons. When Katsoulakis told them the young belong in groups, but old men should stand as individuals, he realized that had implications for him. Yukio had to get away from Katsoulakis so he himself could grow. He is not comfortable being under the other man's umbrella.

Now Yukio wants to be a Switzerland, a neutral party, or even an arbitrator, among the Players of the Great Game. To do this, he must establish himself as neutral. Not as a free agent, but as an honorable man. He, therefore, wishes to stay out of the fray, unless his friends or honorable people are being hurt.

George then asks Yukio directly if he is in service to someone else. Yukio replies, "No, but I have made promises and I will keep them. I am under an ethical obligation."

George says he has "tried to deal with everyone on a straight-up basis." Ben-Nevis approached the Aces at his party to tell them about serpents in his company. George was willing to help him at the time. Then the Aces came over to England for other reasons, and they met with him. Ben-Nevis was then hiding from the world, so they visited him at his estate, and George told him they were there to help.

Then they got involved in Tomnahurich. Yukio notes the similarity between the obsidian creatures they encountered, and the ones he encountered during his confrontation with Kokuyougan back in Japan. George continues, complaining about the odd behavior Ben-Nevis showed during their meeting, including his insistence on matters of etiquette.

Bruce cuts in, saying, "This is all just a pissing match in the face of the Mad Gods." The Aces object that it does matter because they are struggling to find a way to live somewhere without being attacked.

George further objects there are many scary things out there, and that uranur and orgone are only one set of weapons on the table. Yukio agrees, but argues that uranur and orgone are new, as of 1903, and, therefore, may be destabilizing.

Cassandra points out that it sounds like Katsoulakis, Ben-Nevis, Saint-Germain, and someone else are the four major Players. With Donnelly, Yukio adds, as an ambitious man who wants to be another Player.

George argues that still leaves the Mad Gods and other-planar powers, which seem capable of overwhelming the Players.

Cassandra then notices how each Ace roughly matches a Player: George as Katsoulakis' "nephew." Ken's connection to the serpent people, and Ben-Nevis, as the bearer of the Fang of the Jade Serpent. Mark's connection to the Templars, which suggests what power base the unknown fourth Player might control. And finally, Jonathan, who went off on his own, strange path. Could Saint-Germain have had something to do with that?

Mark notes that Donnelly is late. He said he would return in six months. As of June, he is two months late. George believes they should remain in a holding pattern until the Players make their intentions more clear.

Yukio says he is not the Dealer at the Table of the Great Game, but hopes he can make himself one. He asks about Kaori, and what happened in Tomnahurich, and the Aces recount the story.

The question is raised whether Tessa might be a serpent, but Yukio does not think so, attributing her actions to the fact that George just "has a knack for bringing out the evil in women."

Yukio worries the orgone gun may be addictive, even if orgone itself usually isn't. The gun may have unintended consequences. He also wonders if Saint-Germain may have come back from the future to meet with the Aces in Ishpeming in order to prevent the Dark Young from entering into his world.

George urges the other Aces to agree to remain in Scotland, and to refuse to take part in the Game until the Players start to meet them halfway.

George presses Yukio on the question of groups and individuals, and Yukio finally admits that, because of Donnelly, he distrusts any group having an association with the Church, even if that tie had been broken long ago. But if the Templars are not Catholic, Yukio still feels more inclined to trust them. George replies, "If they're a Player at that Table, they can't be that honorable."

George then takes Mark aside and tells him he has to press Yukio as a fellow warrior. If Yukio is under an obligation to a daimyo and is trying to find a way around it in order to tell them something, then Mark needs to be the one who helps him do that.

Yukio tells Bruce about the battle atop the Sunshine Building, and when Bruce asks if he defeated Kokuyougan himself, Yukio admits he had help. Bruce asks, "What kind of help?" Yukio replies, "Help that obligated me to the helper."

Not long after that, there is the following exchange:

Calling on Aglie

The conversation proper comes to an end, and the Aces decide to act. George enters into a lucid dream-state and finds his way to Tessa through one of her dreams. That dream is, of course, about the Temple on the hill, just like the one Mark has had. Once he is in her dream, George tells Tessa that Mark wishes to meet with Aglie at a time and place of his choosing. Before George departs, he tells her, "I bring hope," and makes a white rose rise from the ground.

That meeting with Aglie takes place a short time later. Tessa DiMarco and Derek Cross are also present, clearly there to guard Aglie, who is not pleased in the slightest. He is not a man who appreciates being summoned, and when George insists that Aglie should be willing to "meet them halfway," he tells George that the Aces are not nearly as significant as he seems to think they are. Their authority comes solely from their association with Katsoulakis, and Aglie strongly doubts this meeting was their patron's idea.

Tessa and Yukio are noticeably uncomfortable. Aglie apparently notices this, because he tells Yukio he does not hold him responsible for arranging the meeting. He also tells Mark that he may continue to bear the amulet of the Templars given to him by Tessa.

But the meeting ends on a very bad note, and the Aces reassert their decision to drop out of the Great Game. They decide to open a pub nearby, and try to live quieter lives, while giving what aid and comfort they can to the convalescing Queen of Tomnahurich.

Previous Recap | Next Recap | Updated 3/19/12, by the Croupier