I sat in the coffee house, staring out the window at the black and neon light, as the rain continued to pour for what seemed another 40 days and 40 nights. The streets now had the sewer/swamp sweetness when you walked outside, but you knew that if it continued raining for even a few more days, something dark and offensive was going to wash up from some rock deep down there. Even if you didn't consciously recognize it, people were beginning to have that sickly sheen of sweat and fear that comes from pervasive nervousness. I just sat and watched the whole thing escalate. You do a lot of watching in my job.
I was waiting for my friend to come in and join me. I heard the bell above the coffee-house door ring out, and smiled slyly as I thought about some angel getting its wings. There in the doorway stood my friend, lean and gaunt, unsmiling, deadly serious. He shook the rain off his clothes and out of his long hair as he gracefully strode over to my table.
"Long time, no see," I started.
"Not long enough." Oh, it was going to be one of `those' meetings.
"Well, you might as well sit down," I tried again.
He sat down across from me, and proceeded to stare out the window just like I'd been doing. I could've told you what he was thinking about. I mean, come on, I'd known the guy for like, three millennia, easy. After that amount of time, even your enemies become friends.
He ordered a `latte, and waited for the waitress to bring the bring his order. You do a lot of waiting in his sort of job, too, I guess. Different company, same shit.
When he finally decided to talk, I started to recognize a new smell in the place. Someone else was getting nervous: me.
"You read the papers lately?"
"Yeah, sure, I've got to keep checking out how the Oilers are doing, don't I?" I smirked. I always try and keep it light. Maybe because deep down inside there's something dark in me that knows it's never really going to be all Light.
"You want to keep the wisecracks to a minimum? I didn't call you to for your winning personality." He always tries to keep it dark. Maybe because deep down inside there's something light in him that knows it's never really going to be all Dark.
He started again by showing me yesterday's headline, the one about the new serial killer out there with the twisted sense of justice.
"Yeah, okay, I've read it. So what? I mean, another wacko mortal watched the movie 'Seven' too many times, and he's got delusions of grandeur. It's got nothing to do with our little Conflict, does it?"
He tossed a police folder onto the table. All he said was "Look at the picture."
I began to get that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I opened the folder and looked at the picture on the top. Crime photo. Torso shot. Some guy obviously dead... gone on to meet his final reward. So I looked.
...and I looked.
...and then I saw it.
"That's right. The cut marks. Could be mistaken for random, but you and I know better. Angelic script doesn't translate too well when you slash it into your victim's forehead, but it is still legible."
Oh, boy. I thought quickly. "So what? I mean, maybe he's just got a penchant for out of date languages? Maybe he's an ex-rabbi? There's got to be lots of explanations."
"But what about the name?" He wasn't going to let it go that easy?
"I don't know. As far as I know, He was destroyed in a battle more than a decade ago. Can't be the same guy. He's dead."
"Well," he started again, getting that tone in his voice that sent the warning bells ringing in my head, "There's dead, and there's Dead. Maybe somebody didn't do a thorough enough job?"
14 years ago a Diabolical named Yenko was lost in a Celestial combat by the docks.. His last few soul points were destroyed, and his spirit was shattered. He lost his final Celestial Force. The remaining husk of a body was blown over the side of the pier into the ocean. It didn't matter, however, because everybody present knew he'd been killed, and got back to the business of making sure that they didn't follow suit.
However, Yenko's body and mind lived on. He was a Remnant. While his body had sustained superficial damage, and his mind wasn't necessarily the supernaturally powerful tool it had once been, both were still of an order much higher than that any normal human.
When Yenko awoke a few days later in the hospital, he awoke with a splitting headache, disturbing nightmares, and severe retrograde amnesia. The hospital helped him recover what useful memories he could, and also tried to help him deal with his severe anger, terrifying dreams, and delusions of grandeur. When Yenko left the hospital, it was with a new face (physical damage had required mild reconstructive surgery), a new name (chosen at random from the phone book), and a new sense of Purpose.
Yenko has started dealing out his own brand of Justice, with severe old-testament overtones. Think of the movies "Seven" and "Silence of the Lambs", and you'll get the picture. He's a serial killer with a perfectly normal face, personality, and a body and mind that just won't quit. Literally. Oh sure, it took him a little while to shake the bugs out, but He's Baaaack!!
His choice of targets seems to center on hurting the Powers That Be, but not necessarily any one side. He is indiscriminantely, yet with great care and forethought, picking off targets that hurt each Side of the War. One week it's a Good guy, the next week it's a Bad guy. He doesn't necessarily kill Celestials and Diabolicals, but there are plenty of Soldiers out there, as well as just generally useful Mundanes that seem to fall under his swift sword.
This is an ideal situation in which to run a mixed party of Angels and Demons. The Angels are interested in stopping him from doing any more damage. The demons find his presence embarassing, disturbing, and a little dangerous. Both sides are interested in getting rid of him. Maybe they should work together on this one, instead of working against each other.
The problem, of course, is finding him! He doesn't send up any disturbance in the symphony any more. He's a cypher. He's a blank. He's the ghost in the machine. Unfortunately, he's a ghost that won't stay put, stay down, or stay Dead.
The alternative is to not involve the Diabolicals at all, and to have Yenko be an ex-Celestial. He originally was a servitor of Dominic, but now that he's just a Remnant, he's twisted his old sense of Justice in a new and perverse way. He's now punishing the guilty, but without any consideration for "and eye for an eye".
Dominic finds this an embarassment, and doesn't want word of this getting out. Servitors of Dominic, or those allied with Dominic, will be ordered to quietly find and eliminate this problem, without letting Servitors of those hostile to Dominic find out that it ever happened at all!
Michael and some of the Others would dearly love to splash this all over the Celestial Headlines, so servants of Michael and those Hostile to Dominic will be ordered to unroot this "Living Shell" and show that there's an inherent injustice in all of Dominic's people.
Somebody in Dominic's employ, wishing to do more good through a small evil, has been quietly goading Yenko on. Somebody has pushed Yenko, ever so subtly, to go out and "do some good" in such a gruesome and bloody fashion. This way, Justice is served, but nobody has to get their hands bloody. As well, if it embarasses Dominic, maybe there's a chance for advancement in the near future. Remember what happened to Uriel...
Thus, a sub-plot is to find out who has been goading Yenko along the way. This Lieutenant probably doesn't want Yenko destroyed just yet, and will do everything fair (and maybe a little that's unfair?) to stop the players from destroying Yenko just yet.
Dominic will be more than happy to know which one of his trusted Lieutenants has overstepped their bounds, and will be grateful to the players if they uncover the over-zealous servitor, but keep the whole thing quiet.
On the other hand, Michael and the others could use this information in the great Power Struggle, and would be more than happy to reward players for this information. After all, if a tie can be made between the Lieutenant and Dominic, maybe the whole thing is really Dominic's fault, and not so indirectly as he'd like us to believe?
Remember, though, that whoever you side with, somebody else is going to hold a grudge in the future.
How do I get myself into these messes?
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Elizabeth McCoy <email@example.com>
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