By Rev. Pee Kitty


He picked up the phone and took the call
A long distance voice just started to bawl
I don't care if you feel small
Love without anger isn't love at all

Paul Jeffords - head of the Jeffords Team, part of the Optimisation and Constraint Solving Group (OCS), based in Computer Lab Four of the School of Computer Science and Software Engineering (CSSE) (Monash University: Caulfield Campus in Victoria, Australia) - has gone missing.

The Jeffords team is a small group of twelve graduates and undergrads, including the Roles of three angels of Lightning, working on a "computer vaccine" - a computer virus designed to hunt down and eliminate other computer virii. While the project has yet to produce any solid leads in the year since its inception, the potential benefit is high enough that the CSSE is continuing to fund it. The sudden disappearance of Dr. Jeffords, three days ago, has come as quite a shock.

The three Jeannites are Rygan (An older Elohite, Role as Amy Hill, graduate student), Tarisel (A soft-spoken Malakite, Role as Thomas Green, undergrad), and Choengiel (An eager, young, Mercurian, redeemed from an Impudite, Role as Gary Wellington, undergrad). While brilliant scientists all, none have the makings of a decent criminal detective... that's where the PCs must come in.

So why can't you have your cake and eat it too?
Why believe in things that make it tough on you?
Why scream and cry when you know it's through?
Why fall in love when there's better things to do?

The PCs can be friends called in to help, just the nearest angels, or "official support staff" (sent by Dominic, Laurence, or Jean). They'll have their work cut out for them. No one can establish a clear motive - the group was nowhere near a breakthrough and Jeffords (47, male, white, divorced 12 years ago) had little life outside of the school. His car is missing and his condo undisturbed. A fireproof safe there contains copies of the lab results; they match the lab copies exactly.

When the PCs begin speaking with the other (human) team members, however, something interesting turns up. All of them will mention (though some may have to be questioned about it) that they often have the worst headaches after working with the team; even afterwards, at night, they're kept awake or experiencing nightmares from "what seems like a murmuring white noise in my head". None of them have ever really discussed it enough to realize the similarities, but if brought out into the open, they'll all agree that it's odd, and when comparing notes, they'll discover that it happened to all of them at about the same time. It can't be blamed on screen radiation either, as it's occurred during lunch meetings and such as well.

Barbie and Ken in a great big fight
It seems Ken forgot to make it home one night
You know what you're seeing simply can't be right
Looks like Love's bark is worse than its bite

The PCs may decide to explore the humans' dreamscapes for clues. Rygan may suggest this if they do not think of it. The last migraine episode was only yesterday, and the aftershocks are still there. The GM may decide how much digging the PCs have to do to discover a soft undercurrent of mumbled words spoken in the Infernal tongue! Though this dark language, if heard, rarely survives long in mortal minds, it seems that these humans are picking it up subconsciously from somewhere, with painful results.

If the PCs are not equipped for the Marches, the Elohite resonance (or the much-hated Kyriotate expanded resonance) may pick up the same thing, as may certain Songs or other resonances (with a generous GM). Rygan will be more than willing to assist the PCs in this.

At some point, when a minor errand is needed done, Rygan and Tarisel will send young Choengiel to do it. Shortly afterward, the humans nearby will experience the migraines. If they follow after Choengiel, they will easily catch up to him slowly walking down the hall, holding his organizer to his head. A successful Perception+2 roll reveals it as an artifact. If Tarisel is present, he will call after him loudly, "Choengiel! That artifact was not assigned to you by Jean. What is it and where did you get it?"

It is at this point that the truth begins to be known....

He was young and in love
So he just couldn't see
And it compelled him to ask
"Are you kidding me?
You must be kidding me!"

Choengiel used to be Jacoban, Impudite of Vapula. Jacoban was an effective demon of Technology until the day he realized that he was in love with Hezrach, his Djinn lab-mate. Hezrach was unsure and confused, but agreed to go Renegade with Jacoban. The two stashed their toys in different places on Earth, smashed their Hearts in Hell, and headed for the surface with the Game hot on their heels. Jacoban made it; Hezrach did not, and was taken away in irons by the game. In tears, Jacoban made it to a divine tether and eventually redeemed.

Choengiel always assumed that Hezrach was dead. In the last few months, he heard news otherwise. Not knowing the Celestial Song of Tongues, and afraid to ask for help learning it (for the reason behind the need), he turned to his stash of toys, grabbing only the Speed Dialer. He has been using it to send messages to Hezrach. While he isn't willing to jump back into the pit, even to love someone, he is hoping to bring the Djinn back into his arms and into the arms of God.

[ARTIFACT: Speed Dialer. This self-powered relic can perform a variant of the Celestial Song of Tongues, costing no Essence, but doing 2 Soul Hits to the user instead. It thus causes no disturbance and does not send any Essence to the recipient. Physically, it is a thin organizer, the type that holds names, numbers, and addresses.]

To try to appeal to the Djinn, Choengiel has been sending him messages in the Infernal tongue. Unfortunately, the buggy Vaputech has been interacting poorly with his Mercurian of Lightning attunement, and has been broadcasting his transmission on a subconscious level to everyone around him. The celestial nature of angels completely shields them from the effect, but the humans in the area aren't as lucky, and find their subconscious minds filled with the diabolical tongue.

Love without teardrops isn't the same
He asked to be counted out of her game
She thought it was him who was so insane
Love is what it does by any other name

Hezrach managed to miraculously talk his way out of the Game's clutches, willingly spreading the story through Hell of his kidnapping and forced flight. After time, he came to believe it, and barely remembers the brief period of "confusion". The messages from Choengiel have come as a total surprise, and have brought up painful memories... Hezrach has decided to deal with these with simple sadism.

Choengiel has shared his location and mission with Hezrach. Hezrach has decided to break the Mercurian's resolve, possibly even bringing him back into the pit. To that effect, he has kidnapped Dr. Jeffords, and is planning on killing him and leaving his mangled body where the Jeannites will find him, with the name "Jacoban" scrawled on the window in blood.

Using Choengiel and his messages as "bait" may prove to be the most effective way to lure the Djinn out into the open. Convincing Choengiel that this is the right thing to do may be difficult. GMs who enjoy a darker style may have Jeffords' body show up as planned, causing Choengiel to lose his mind and flee, Outcast, and in danger of falling into the pit again. Perhaps the two will even join forces and work against the PCs...

How cruel do you want to be?

So why can't you have your cake and eat it too?
Why believe in things that make it tough on you?
Why scream and cry when you know it's through?
Why fall in love when there's better things to do?
-- "Love Without Anger", Devo


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