Medallions d20 Modern (Update Wednesday 09-20-06)

Old Drew Id

First Post
Episode 1: "Pilot"

Birmingham, Alabama, USA. May 2003.
The biggest current local news story is the SEC investigation into the financial dealings of giant corporation South-Medical, and its philanthropist founder, Dick Scorse. The company has just laid of over a hundred people in recent weeks as its stock price fell. The weather is hot and rainy, with frequent storms.
(Due to our in-game use of real-world people & locations, some names have been changed for public release. The world is a more dangerous version of our own. )

The campaign would best be described as a dark & deadly action-thriller-horror-mystery: somewhere between X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Kolchak the Night Stalker; with bits of Friday the 13th (the series), Dusk 'til Dawn, The Matrix, Big Trouble in Little China, and Men in Black thrown in. Or another way to say it is: like an X-Files episode written by Stephen King and directed by John Woo.

  • P.I. Willie Lamar - Down-on-his-luck private eye with an attitude. Currently his shotgun and car are pawned to pay bills, forcing him to rely on his grandmother to give him rides. (Charismatic)
  • Brother Guyzell Cooper - Southern preacher with a cable-access TV show. Drives a pickup truck with a gun rack. (Charismatic)
  • Joe Empire – 38-year-old comic book shop owner / conspiracy theorist. Lives in a little apartment above his store. (Tough)
  • Crystal “Little Wing” Lassiter - Native American college archaeology grad student (Smart)
  • Taylor Chu - Bad-tempered Korean librarian, part-time grad student (NPC) (Smart)


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Old Drew Id

First Post
Prologue (5/07/2003)

Each of the players was given a prologue hand-out. What follows are the actual handouts delivered at the table, which is why they are written in second person. I tried to convert them to third or first person for publication, but they seemed to lose something in the transfer. So here they are, unedited.

Old Drew Id

First Post
P.I. Willie Lamar

P.I. Willie Lamar

You hate the rain.

Okay, you hate the rain, and you hate Sunday nights.

Okay, fine, you hate rain, you hate Sunday nights, and you hate Councilman Jim Slate.

It would be bad enough, stooping to these little, petty, is-my-husband-cheating-on-me jobs, where you spend nine days hiding in the bushes like a peeping tom, if you could at least go around on your own time, and stake the guy out proper. Instead, it's Sunday, and the bus don't run on Sunday. Which means you have to get Gramms to come out and drop your broke ass off here in Vestavia, so you can spend three hours in the bushes with your disposable camera and try to get a shot of this guy getting some action with his secretary between his weekend city council meeting and returning home to Jane and the kids.

Then the rain hits.

So now, just to recap, you are sitting outside the Vestavia City Hall, in the rain, in the dark, in the bushes, soaking wet, with a disposable camera, and your gun digging into your hip. You sit there for one hour, then two. You really need to bring a radio on these stake-outs. Your mind wanders. You re-play an entire season of New York Undercover in your head. You remember some dream you had last night. A nightmare, now that you remember it. You were at the funeral for your grandfather. You walked up to the casket, and put two dimes on his eyelids. Then he started growling.

The councilman guy finally comes out, and what does he do? Hops straight into his car and drives off. The secretary doesn't even come out for another five minutes, and when she does, she drives off in the other direction.

Fine. Cool. Stupid white people want to spy on each other, that's fine. Let 'em, as long as they pay the bill. Now you can at least go home and get dried off. And man, that rain is really coming down now.

You can't just walk into the civic center and use the phone to call Gramms. You want to, but you tell yourself that you will at least be professional, even on these stupid adultery cases. And besides, a soaking wet black man walking into the city hall at night while carrying a gun might not be too welcome.

So you walk a couple of blocks north up Highway 31. You make it into the Ruby Tuesday's and use the phone. Gramms answers.

Sorry, the storm is blowing too hard. She can't drive in this weather. Best wait it out a bit until the storm lets up. You don't want Gramms driving off the road, do you?

No, Gramms, that's fine. I understand. No, you're right. I'll just wait here at the bar-

You're not calling from a bar, are you?

No, Gramms, it's not a bar. Well, okay, it is a bar, but it's not a bar-bar. It's a Ruby Tues-No, ma'am, I was not going to --- No ma'am…No, ma'am I have not been drinking…. No, I was just calling from here… Yes, ma'am...

You close your eyes and lean your rain-soaked forehead against the wall, still listening to her. You can also hear the little kid bartender, in his red-and-white golf shirt and colorful flair buttons on his apron, snickering at you from across the room. You wonder in the back of your mind if this would qualify for a "black rage" defense in court.

Yes ma'am, you saw a library across the street. Yes, the one she saw on the way over. Yes, you can wait out the storm there. Yes, it would do you some good to spend some time reading from the Good Book. Yes, ma'am. You will call her back when the storm dies down.

Fine. Fine. Fine. You slam the handset back on the receiver, and march back towards the door. You stop suddenly, just even with the pip-squeak bartender. You level your best cold gaze at him. "Something funny, mother*^$*#*?"

His eyes get bigger than silver dollars, and actually does one of those big gulps, like you see in movies. You fight the urge to grin, as you head back into the rain.

Ah well, what the hell, maybe the library has a good book on police techniques. Or at least the latest issue of Guns and Ammo.
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Old Drew Id

First Post
Joe Empire

Joe Empire

The newsletter is going to be late this month. You were up last night working on your special exposé (about how the Canadian government is using SARS as a cover-up to explain shutting down Toronto, when their real purpose is far more sinister…) when you saw that the Sci-Fi Channel was showing "Pitch Black", and then right after that was "Alien". You decided that Sigourney Weaver could beat Vin Diesel, as long as she could somehow see in the dark, and you also decided that whenever space combat becomes a reality, that you will get serious about exercising, so you can join the Space Marines.

Anyhow, the point is, you got distracted and didn't get to finish the newsletter. Then you got tired and passed out in front of the TV, under a protective layer of Cheetos.

You had a freaky dream last night. You were at the shop, working late. There was no one there, and you had decided to close up for the night. Then, in walks a kid, and he points behind the counter at one of your older, more expensive comics on display on the wall. You look at where he is pointing. "Magic Agent #1". Asking price, five dollars.

You ask the kid for the cash, and he digs in his pocket. He pulls out a handful of silver dollars, and then counts out five of them onto the counter. You ring up the purchase, and he disappears out the door. Then, you look closer at the silver dollars that he gave you, and you realize that they're not dollars. They're some kind of trick coins. Then you woke up.

You went to work today (Sunday), and it was the usual crowd: teenagers, gamers, skaters. Although you promised yourself you wouldn't, you got sucked into a marathon of Magic The Gathering with a couple of your regular customers.

One of your regulars, John Wiggs, invited you and a couple of the other guys from the shop over to his mom's place to watch his DVD of "Lord of the Rings" tonight. He offers to give you a ride to his mom's apartment, somewhere in Hoover. You can close the shop at six, he'll pick you up, and you can both get a six-pack and some Taco Bell, and be over there well before it starts.

It wasn't until you were locking up for the night that you remembered your dream. Getting curious, you went behind the counter to the "Magic Agent #1". You really do have that comic on the wall. You pull it down. The actual price you have listed is twenty-five dollars. (This is not one of your more expensive comics, you realize, despite what your dream told you.) You realize you've never read this comic. You just pulled its price from the Overstreet Guide and put it up on the wall. What the heck, you have a couple of minutes.

You read the comic. It was published in the early 60's. It's about a government agent named John Force, who has this magic coin that grants him a variety of powers. You nearly drop the comic book on the floor when you see the coin. It is exactly like the one in your dream.

You sit there for a minute, and decide you must have read this comic before. That's how you remembered what the coin looked like. Yeah, you had to have read it before.

Anyhow, it's getting late, and now it is raining outside. Actually, it's pouring. Looks like a bad storm coming in. You put the comic away as you see headlights out front. Wiggs arrives and you rush out into the rain to his car. You drive out down Highway 31 and the rain is coming down in sheets now. You can not even see fifty feet in front of the car.

Then Wiggs gets a call on his cell phone. He pulls over into the parking lot of the Vestavia Library and answers it. It's Teresa, his whiny on-again, off-again girlfriend from Tuscaloosa. You sigh and roll your eyes while he talks to her for a minute. He seems to be agreeing to something that he doesn't want to do. Then he hangs up, and turns to you.

He says she's locked herself out of her apartment and she wants him to bring his key to her. He asks if you want to make a quick trip to Tuscaloosa. In the rain. No, scratch that, in a freakin' thunderstorm. This is what you get for hanging out with comic-book store kids.

Apparently you accidentally say something here about his girlfriend that offends him, and then he's yelling and getting all whiny. You tell him to just drop you off back home and he can go on to T-Town. He huffs and says he's not gonna go back out of his way to drop you off, so you can either go with him to Tuscaloosa or you can get out and call a cab.

You look over at the library. There are lights on inside, and several cars out front. You hop out of the car and run inside.

There really is a comic book called Magic Agent. It really is from the 1960’s, and it really is about a spy with a magic coin.
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Old Drew Id

First Post
Crystal "Little Wing" Lassiter

Crystal "Little Wing" Lassiter

You worked a closing shift last night. Late and exhausting. The Kudu may have closed at two since it was a Saturday night, but it was another half-hour until all of the regulars had filed out the door, and you were still cleaning up behind the bar until 4:30 this morning. Then you had to take a shower when you got home. The smell of stale beer and cigarettes was just a little too much. You didn't finally collapse into bed until the sky was already lightening up a little outside.

You expected to sleep like a log, and for the most part you did. When you finally did wake up (just in time for a late lunch), you vaguely remember a bad dream.

You were a little kid. You were traveling through a little western town called Anaconda, on vacation with your family. Only it wasn't a modern town. It was like one of those tourist spots built on the main highway, made to look like an Old West boom town. Then your dad stopped the car in the middle of the road and you had to get out.

The people in the town were all smiling, but you knew they were killers. They were dressed up in their cowboy outfits. You even remember they had name tags, like theme park characters. The town mayor came over and said they had to kill you and your whole family, because they were cowboys and you were Indians. It was all very matter-of-fact, like they didn't want to do it, but it was their job. Your dad seemed very understanding, and he sat down on the ground so they could shoot him, as a woman dressed like a showgirl came over and began handing out guns.

You started arguing but no one would listen. You told them it was stupid and it didn't make any sense, and you wanted your dad to stop helping them. It seemed to trouble them that you didn't want to get killed.

Then an old man was there. He wore a black cowboy hat. You can't remember his face, because he was standing in front of the sun. He didn't say anything. But the crowd seemed relieved that he was there. You remember the mayor saying something like, "Well, there you go. He'll settle this…"

And the old man in the cowboy hat reached into his belt and pulled out a big silver dollar. He flipped it into the air…and just then you woke up.

Rain is drizzling down lightly outside. The weatherman predicts storms tonight. Possibility of tornado activity..

You made a sandwich for lunch, and tried to do some reading for class. You have a paper due on Choctaw Oral Histories in Mississippi, and you can't find the books you need. The university library is severely lacking on the subject, and unfortunately for you, oral histories written in the original Choctaw are not a big seller at Barnes & Noble or Books-a-million. Your anthropology professor, Dr. Running Bear, would be helpful for guidance, except that he has been pulled into Moundville this whole week to help with the investigation of new tips from that whole pottery robbery fiasco.

You spend the early afternoon reading some of your other books at home, and then call around to the libraries in town. You've decided you can do without the oral histories for a while, if you can get hold of some back issues of Anthropological Quarterly. After calling the main downtown branch, you try the Southside branch and the one in Mountain Brook. No luck. Finally, Vestavia Hills says yes. They have a full collection, and they are open until ten, even on a Sunday.

The rain has stopped for now, thought it is still threatening to storm. Well, you can risk it. It's less than six miles to the library from here, and you needed to work out today anyway. It's hilly, but you could do it in half an hour if you push yourself. You pack up your backpack, put on your rain parka over your leather, and hop onto your Trek. The rain starts up again when you are about a mile from the library. You race the last few minutes, and coast into the library parking lot, just as the rain really starts coming down. You figure you can finish studying here anyway, and worst case scenario you can leave the bike here and call a cab. You tell yourself again that this week you will save your tips to put a down payment on a car, as you lock the Trek up to a post outside.

By now, the rain is really pouring. The library is deserted except for you and one young librarian. She seems surprised to see anyone here on a rainy Sunday night, especially someone who rode in on a bike. She directs you to the periodical archives and a free table, and you set to work.

Old Drew Id

First Post
Brother Guyzell Cooper

Brother Guyzell Cooper

You didn't sleep well last night. You had a bad dream.

You were in church on Sunday. You were taking up the collection like you always do. You were passing the offering basket around, but nobody was putting anything in. Everybody was just looking at you, with these cold dead eyes. You continued anyway, passing the basket. You were halfway down the aisle when you noticed something else was wrong. Everyone was silent...

The church was full, but there were no children, and no one was talking, or singing, or even moving, except to turn and stare at you, in eerie silence. And still, no one put anything into the offering basket. Then you got to the last pew, and no one had put anything in, but when you started to set the basket down, there was a single silver dollar in the bottom of the basket.

You took the dollar out of the basket, and walked back to the pulpit. The congregation said nothing. No one moved. They just stared at you, with those cold dead eyes.

You flipped the silver coin over in your hand. It was wrong. Where it should have said the year, it said 42:28.

Then you woke up.

You ate a big breakfast this morning. Bacon and eggs, and two waffles. You always prefer to eat a big breakfast on Sunday mornings. At the breakfast table, you read yesterday's mail. You gleefully picked up a package from Columbia House. Your new DVD of The Song of Bernadette had arrived. You looked forward to watching it tonight.

The services went well this morning and you had a good crowd, despite the rain. You gave a good sermon, and the congregation was really following you. After services, you had the standard classes for children, and then the seniors' luncheon, and then the teen encounter group in the afternoon. By then the rain was pouring outside, and a storm was coming in hard.

At last, you made it to dinner time. The ladies' choir had invited you along to dinner, but you politely refused citing exhaustion. You were finally able to put your feet up, eat some re-heated casserole, and watch your new DVD of The Song of Bernadette while the storm blew outside. And what happened? Your new DVD wouldn't play. You fiddled with it for an hour, and the thing wouldn't play. The new disc looked scratched.

You sighed heavily, and looked outside. The storm had slacked up some. If you hurried, you could make it to that little video store in the Galleria and get a replacement copy before they closed.

Driving in the rain, you make it to the Galleria just after the stores close. Grumbling, you say a prayer for patience, sigh heavily and get back out onto Highway 31. The traffic on the interstate is stuck behind a wreck, and the storm is really picking up.

You cut north into Vestavia, where the highway is deserted, but the rain is coming down in sheets. You reluctantly look for a place to pull over and wait it out. Up on your left, between flashes of lightning and passes of the windshield wipers, you see a library, and it looks open.

You find yourself inside the library, shaking rain off your jacket, and looking apologetically at the weary librarian. Up ahead you see a shelf of Bibles, and a table.

That's when you remembered the dream again.


It looked to you like a chapter and verse.

There are only 6 books in the Bible with that many chapters: Genesis, Job, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. You start from Ezekiel and work back. But each time, chapter 42 does not have enough verses. There is no verse 28. Finally, you come to the last option.

Genesis 42:28
"My silver has been returned," he said to his brothers. "Here it is in my sack." Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, "What is this that God has done to us?"

Old Drew Id

First Post
Session 1 (5/07/2003)

Session 1 (5/07/2003)

Brother Cooper tried to maintain some semblance of dignity as he barreled through the glass double-doors of the library, momentarily wrecking the sanctum of silence within the place. The storm and wind followed him in, and his long coat and white Stetson dripped rain into a quickly-growing puddle beneath his feet.

The library was old, that was to be sure. The place smelled of wood polish, dust, and just plain old age. The outer walls were strong brick, and thick enough to stop a cannon. The tables and bookcases were dark-stained wood. The lighting was dim and yellow and clearly antique, from fixtures maybe from the twenties, or even earlier. And no sign of modernization. No colorful banners, no computer kiosk, no buzzing fluorescent lights.

The only furnishing to provide even a hint of décor was an antique wooden globe set into the floor before him, perhaps five feet in diameter, and encircled by red velvet ropes. To the right of the globe was a display table. The Topic-Of-The-Month was “coin collecting”. Half a dozen books on coins and coin-collecting were on display on the table.

Between two bookcases, he caught a glimpse of a young Native American woman in a black leather jacket, hunched over a table in the back of the library, thumbing through a magazine. To his right, the checkout desk was occupied by a twenty-something Asian woman, chewing on her lip and glancing at him through narrowed eyes. At once she looked both nervous and unfriendly. A small nameplate on her desk read “Taylor Chu.”

“I apologize for the mess, ma’am. Seems there’s quite a bit of a storm blowing up.”

Taylor just frowned further, and returned her gaze to her book.

Thunder crashed outside.

“I say, my name’s Guyzell Cooper. My parish calls me Brother Co--”

“SHHHH” Taylor shushed him angrily.

“I apologize. I was just going to ask where your Bibles were. You know the Good Book says --”

“SHHHH” Taylor shushed him vehemently this time, and silently pointed him forward.

The Bibles were in the reference section, directly behind the globe. Brother Cooper’s boots squelched wetly with each step as he crossed over to the books. Selecting the King James, he sat down at the closest table and began to read.

The doors swung open again, and rain scouted ahead in as the wind invaded. A large figure loomed at the door. A black male, easily six feet tall, in a dark coat and hat.

Taylor looked even more nervous than before.

The stranger stood silently for a moment and then calmly lit a cigarette.

“You don’t smoke in here!” Taylor hissed.

“Baby, I’ve been in the rain for hours. I just want to have one smoke---”

“You don’t smoke in here!” she shrieked again. “You get the cigarette out of here! This is a library!”

“Baby, now come on. Don’t be like that. My name’s Willie Lamar, baby, and I’ve had a bad day, and---”

“You get the smoke out of here now or I call a cop!” The librarian moved towards the other end of her desk towards a phone. “You can not smoke in here!”

Willie grimaced wearily, and leaned back against the door. The door creaked open a few inches, and rain began to pour in again. He shoved the cigarette out into the rain. After a moment, he pulled the arm back in, took another puff, and shoved the cigarette back out the door again.

Thunder crashed again.

“You stop smoking in here!” Taylor picked up the receiver threateningly.

“Baby, I’m not smoking in here. Do you see a cigarette in---” Willie was cut off as he regained his balance. The door he was leaning against swung open rapidly, and a huge tub of a person stumbled into the room.

The new arrival was a thirty-something male, easily a hundred pounds overweight, wearing a black trench-coat and hefting a backpack. Rain plastered his thinning hair to his face, and he absentmindedly shrugged his shoulders to re-adjust the weight of the backpack as he stood between Willie and Taylor, near the display table. Turning to Taylor, he asked, “Do you have any books on coin collecting?”

Taylor stared at him for a moment in silence. Willie took another puff of his cigarette. Several emotions quickly chased across her face, but she eventually settled on a mixture of disbelief and exasperation. She silently, violently pointed behind him.

The fat man turned to the display table and began pulling books up into a stack under one arm.

Taylor began angrily, “hey…fat boy, those are books on display--”

“Yeah, I got it,” he mumbled, his back still to her. He stopped with the half-dozen books under his arm and headed to one of the tables in a corner near a window to read.

Taylor turned back to Willie, who flicked the remainder of his cigarette out into the parking lot. With a wink and a grunt of satisfaction, he let the door close completely and headed over to the skimpy selection on the magazine rack.

Thunder crashed again outside, and suddenly, the lights went out. A heartbeat passed as everyone waited in silence. Then, the loud sound of glass breaking pierce the silence, and Taylor screamed.

Dim emergency lights flickered into life above the shattered front doors. Four rain-soaked thugs dressed in ragged clothing stood in the puddle of broken glass, panting and grinning wild-eyed grins that betrayed souls bent on destruction. The one in front reached into the back of his belt and drew a long Bowie knife...
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Old Drew Id

First Post
Session 1 (5/07/2003) Combat

Brother Cooper stood up rapidly for a man of his size, and his hands came up in a calming gesture, “Son, hello there…Now I don’t know what’s going on here, son, but I don’t think you should be waving around that knife--”

The thug with the knife grinned wider and took a few steps towards the preacher. Behind him, the other three remained in place, but each drew a similar knife. The blades all were clean, and gleamed like wicked candles in the flickering emergency lights.

Willie reached into his jacket, and in a flash he was holding a pistol. “FREEZE MOTHER*$%#%&! DROP THE #^%&ING KNIFE!”

The display was enough to shake a war veteran, but the thug didn’t even pause. As he lunged forward, Brother Cooper saw it in his eyes. A glazed-over look that spoke volumes. The thugs were not in their right minds, and would not listen to reason or be intimidated.

In a flurry of knives and screams, combat began. The thugs were everywhere, knives flashing in the low light, grunting and giggling in a fury as they leaped over tables and into the room.

Willie fired, and a thug collapsed bleeding onto the carpet. Another lunged forward to replace him, and Willie caught a knife blade across his side. Blood flowed from the gash, and he staggered back.

Brother Cooper reached into his jacket and drew out an odd-looking appliance. Pointing it at the thug closest to him, he squeezed a trigger. The Tazer fired wildly at his target and missed completely. A scorched smell of ozone permeated the room. The preacher looked crestfallen, and backed up into the stacks, but not fast enough. The thug in front of him stabbed viciously and the preacher took a deep knife wound into his belly.

Another thug leaped over the front desk and slashed at Taylor. Clutching her handbag, she dove under the desk divider, and came up on the other side, a revolver in her hand. Blood flowed from a shallow knife wound on her arm.

The fat man with the coin-collecting books staggered up from his table in the back. His backpack was open at his side, spilling out a dice bag and a few small lead miniatures, but he ignored those and instead began furiously stuffing the library books into the pack. A thug was suddenly on top of him, slashing wildly. The fat gamer dodged wildly from side to side, the book bag swinging and deflecting the knife, as he reached in deeper into the bag. As the thug came up to tackle him, an explosion sounded from the bottom of the bag. A tiny bullet hole appeared in the bottom of the sack, and the thug staggered backwards bleeding.

Willie was falling back, and losing the battle. He felt dizzy and the gun was shaking in his grip. He fired again and again at his next target, but the gun was shaking in his hands, and he could not hit anything. Beside him, Taylor was stumbling backwards as well, trying to keep a bookcase between her and her attacker, but she emptied her gun and still could not hit anything.

Wasting no time, the fat man took a few unsure steps, and crashed through the front window of the library, out into the rain-soaked parking lot. Brother Cooper staggered past his closest opponent and followed through the front doors, towards his truck, and his gun rack. From the corner of his eye, he saw another thug running into the library as he exited. The preacher felt nauseous and he clutched his bleeding stomach as he moved.

The rain was pouring down outside, as Brother Cooper fumbled with his blood-and-rain-soaked keys and opened the passenger door to his pickup. As he reached for his shotgun from the rack, the fat man was suddenly at the driver side door. Brother reached in and flipped open the door lock.

“Let’s get out of here!” the fat man yelled as he jumped into the driver’s seat, tossing a well-worn backpack into the floorboard.

“Who in the blazes are you?” Brother Cooper asked, as he flicked off the safety and positioned a shell into the chamber.

“I’m Joe!” the fat man yelled, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “Let’s go!” he whined again as he reached for the keys.

Brother Cooper pulled the keys back from his grip, and tucked them into his pocket. Gunfire rattled repeatedly from inside. “There’s people in trouble inside, Joe. I’m afraid I can’t leave yet.”

“Well give me the KEYS!” Joe screamed, as Brother Cooper ignored him and staggered back towards the library doors.

The scene inside had changed, and not for the better. As Brother Cooper’s boots crunched on the broken glass of the double doors, he saw a thug lunge at Willie, and bury a six-inch Bowie blade hilt-deep into the black man’s thigh. Blood fountained up over the scene, and Willie’s eyes rolled back. He cursed, “Son of a…” and collapsed on the floor.

Taylor was still pulling the trigger on her revolver, but there was only a defenseless click-click-click as the chamber rolled empty. She screamed as a thug dove for her, and she ran between the bookshelves. Brother Cooper fired his shotgun at the thug, and paper exploded as the shell missed and buried pellets into a bookshelf.

The thug leader who had buried in his knife into Willie stood over him, drew out the knife, and reared his arm back to deliver a death blow. Brother turned, unable to move fast enough, watching as the knife descended. Suddenly, from the shadows, the forgotten Native girl in the black leather jacket was there, leaping onto a table and screaming a tribal war cry. Her only weapon was a backpack loaded with books, which she slung like a hammer into the back of the thug’s head. With a sickeningly wet sound, the impromptu weapon connected, and the thug collapsed on top of Willie.

Brother looked at the shotgun in his hands, and then down at the wounded man in front of him. He started to hand the gun to the Native girl, when she leapt forward again. One of the thugs on the floor had started to get back up and pick up his knife. Again, the girl’s weighted backpack bounced of a skull, and the enemy collapsed.

Suddenly Taylor was running around the corner of a bookshelf, the thug hot on her heels. Brother Cooper reacted instinctively, and yelled to her, “Catch!” and threw the shotgun to her. As the thug rounded the corner after her, the librarian caught the shotgun, spun, and fired. At the same moment, Joe appeared in the front door and also fired his pistol. The bullet and shell hit the thug simultaneously, and the last of the strange assailants collapsed in a bloody heap on the floor.

By the way, someone please let me know if the half-masked profanity violates board policy and I will change it. Or, for that matter, if there is no need to mask it.
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Old Drew Id

First Post
Session 1 (5/07/2003)

Session 1 (5/07/2003) Post-Combat

Brother Cooper was dizzy, and his stomach was a maelstrom of pain. “Call 911…please” he choked out, as he knelt down beside Willie. Blood has soaked his pants and the wound on his thigh was jagged, deep, and ugly.

“I already tried, my cell isn’t working,” the Native American girl answered, as she unslung her jacket and began ripping her shirt sleeve into makeshift bandages. The preacher rolled up his jacket and pressed it to his own wounds while also trying to help her.

“Cell phones don’t work in the library,” Taylor answered matter-of-factly, as she staggered over to the front desk and set the shotgun down onto the copier. Her shoulder was bleeding, but it didn’t appear life-threatening. From under the desk, she produced a small first-aid kit, and dropped it onto the floor next to Willie. She shrugged one shoulder in an “I don’t know how to use this” gesture, and picked up the office phone behind her desk. She dialed three digits.

Willie was coming around on the floor, his eyes rolling around drunkenly and his breath shallow. The Native girl opened up the first aid kit and set to work trying to stop his bleeding. She spoke in soothing tones, “Hello, can you hear me? Did you say your name is Willie? Willie, can you hear me? My name’s Crystal. Willie, can you hear me? Can you say my name? Can you say Crystal? Can you hear me?”

Taylor was on the phone giving an address. She covered the mouthpiece for a moment, “An ambulance and the police are on the way.”

Instantly Willie grabbed Crystal’s wrist and whispered groggily, “Police…no…my gun!…hide…hide my gun…”

Then Joe was there by his side. “Sounds like you got the right idea, man,” and he tucked Willie’s pistol into his backpack. Spinning on his heel in the broken glass, he headed out into the rain as the others looked on for a moment in protest. “Be right back. Nobody mention this!” and he was gone.

A siren sounded in the distance. Brother Cooper risked a look at his stomach. He was losing a lot of blood.

Crystal motioned Taylor over, and had her put pressure on Willie’s leg wound. With her blood-soaked hands free for a moment, and the police on the way, she looked over at the bodies of their attackers. Perhaps unsure if they might regain consciousness soon, or be possessed of other weapons, she crawled over to the closest thug and dug into his pockets.

Tires squealed on the pavement outside. Brother Cooper thought he saw paramedics arriving. He whispered a quick “Thank you, Father” as he lost consciousness.

Old Drew Id

First Post
Session 1 (5/07/2003) Joe

Session 1 (5/07/2003) Joe

Joe Empire was surprised…and a little annoyed.

Well, admittedly, he should be thankful. The policeman had dropped him off at his shop, now some three hours later, without so much as a glance back. He had managed to survive the library attack with only a few minor scratches from jumping through the window (something he had always wanted to try). He had gotten to actually fight off someone who wanted to kill him, and he had survived. He had undoubtedly saved the lives of everyone else there, and he had met a girl who had willingly torn her shirt open in front of him. (Okay, it was to make bandages out of, but clearly she wanted him.) He had been questioned by the police and had refused to tell them anything important, despite rather persistent questioning.

But, unfortunately, Joe had not seen a single Man In Black.

He supposed it was to be expected. They were undoubtedly out there. They had almost certainly been there tonight. He suspected they had sent the assassins after him, to shut him up. To try to get him to stop talking, to stop writing his conspiracy-exposing newsletter. In the aftermath, Joe had watched the perimeter, waiting to see one of them, or maybe some similar cigarette-smoking shadow figure watching him. But he must have missed them.

He decided that they were good. Yes, very good, but he would catch them. Because Joe had been prepared tonight.

When he was listening to Art Bell the other night, he had been listening to a caller describe a run-in with the Freemasons, and at the time, Joe got annoyed because the caller had seen several cars and had not bothered to write down the license plate numbers. So Joe had decided then, that should he get into a similar situation, he would write down the details. They wouldn’t pull an Area 51 on old Joe, that’s for sure.

The cops had tried to play with him. They said things like “Sir, you must be in shock” and “You’re welcome to write down my badge number, sir. We’re only here to help.” and “Do you need a ride home?” But Joe knew the truth. He could see they were scared. Scared of a guy whose eyes were open to the Truth. They were scared because Joe was on to them and their shadow government mind control. Yeah, they didn’t know who they were messing with when they messed with old Joe.

So, anyhow, everyone else taken to UAB Hospital. Joe got the ambulances’ license plate numbers and the names of all of the paramedics before they left. He wondered idly if he would ever see any of them again.

Right now, he had more important things to do.

Joe pulled out his cell phone and called John Wiggs. The little punk had left him there in Vestavia tonight to get killed. It was the least he could do to come pick him up now.


“John, this is me. Get over here now. I need a ride.” Joe looked at his watch. Never stay on the phone for more than forty seconds. First thing they teach you… if by ‘they’ you mean movies and books about conspiracies and similar paranoid delusions.

“Huh? Who is this?” John sounded half-asleep.

“You know I won’t say my name over an open line. Now come pick me up. I’m at the shop.” (Second thing they teach you.)

“Joe? Do you know what time it is?”

“Don’t say my name on the phone moron! Look, we’ve got to move quick. I need a ride now. Come pick me up.”

“No. Look, I’m sorry I left you tonight but--”

“Come pick me up”


“Come pick me up and I’ll give you a… thirty percent discount at the store tomorrow.”

There was a pause at the other end of the line. “Including minis?”

“No, of course not.”

There was another pause. “Including the special anime section?”

“Jeez! Fine. Get over here.”

Half an hour later, John arrived. The car ride was quiet, and Joe refused to answer any of his friend’s questions. Finally, they arrived at the library.

The scene was quiet and empty. The doors and the window that Joe had jumped through were boarded up, and there was police tape covering an area around the front door.

Instructing John to wait in the car, Joe got out and moved through the bushes, and into the trees behind the library. Trying to remember as much of the marine training as he had seen in Full Metal Jacket, Joe moved in a serpentine fashion through the trees until he stumbled upon his backpack. Hefting its significantly heavier soggy weight onto his back, he dodged and weaved his way back to the car.

Despite numerous questions from his driver, Joe would only say on the ride home that the less John knew, the less he could reveal under questioning.

At last back in his apartment, Joe locked out the world, sent John home, and opened up his bag.

The two guns were on top. Joe’s tiny .22 revolver, and the black guy’s giant cannon. Jeez, trying to compensate for something, big guy?

More importantly, five of the six books that Joe had stuffed into the bag had been ruined by the rain. But the sixth book was untouched, and unnaturally dry. Joe pulled the light-weight book onto his desk, read the title (“Coin Collecting in the Southeast, 1900-1950”) and flipped it open.

It fell open to a page featuring an old yellowing black-and-white photo in an antique style. The photo showed a dozen men and women posing for a group photo, like a class picture. The caption read: Ward Numismatic Society, 1924.

Five of the people in the picture looked exactly like the people who had been attacked in the library tonight.

Joe spent the next few hours before his store opened studying the books and researching the information online. He didn’t know what to make of anything. He just knew that he needed to know more.

Old Drew Id

First Post
Session 1 (5/07/2003) Taylor and Crystal

Session 1 (5/07/2003) Taylor and Crystal

Taylor dropped the broom for the third time, and nearly gave up trying to sweep up the broken glass. She was having a hard time holding the dustpan in her left hand because of the injury in her shoulder, and she kept fumbling the broom trying to compensate. The doctors last night had only given her two stitches in her shoulder, and then bandaged her up and sent her on her way. A uniformed policeman had given her a ride back to her car, and then she had been free to go.

She found it peculiar that she had not talked to a detective, or at least someone other than a simple beat cop during the entire evening. She assumed she would probably receive a call later in the day for a further interview. They had at least taken down her name and contact information in their report, but something made her think that, despite the severity of a multiple homicide and the sheer audacity of the attack, that somehow the police would not pursue the matter as diligently as they should. Nothing she could put her finger on, but something did not feel right.

As though triggered by her thoughts, her cell phone rang.

“Hi, Taylor? My name is Crystal. We…met last night? You gave me your cell phone number at the hospital?”

Taylor greeted her hesitantly, “Yes…hello, Crystal.”

“Yeah, hi, listen… I don’t know about you, but I just got the feeling last night like… I don’t know, the police were just not too interested in what happened last night. Did you get that feeling too?”

Taylor felt a moment of relief at not being alone in her suspicions, and then further paranoia at the implications if she were correct. She mumbled her agreement to Crystal.

“Okay, I thought so… So last night, before the cops got there, I searched the pockets on one of those guys. And, I think I found something.”

There was a moment right there. One shining moment, when Taylor felt something, like the two roads diverging in a wood. She could hang up, right here. She could hang up and say the police should handle it, and just walk away. She could not get involved. And something told her, if she went down that other road, if she got involved here…she would be involved forever.

“So…what did you find?”

. . .

Thirty minutes later, Taylor was pulling up in front of a little apartment complex in Southside. Moderately cheap apartments, a lot like her own, suited towards students and young couples. Through the windshield wipers thumping out their visual patterns in the rain on her shield, she saw Crystal standing under a stairwell in her leather jacket. With a wave, Crystal dodged across the lot to Taylor’s car and hopped in.

“This is what I found,” she said simply, as she drew a Ziploc bag from her pocket. As she did so, Taylor saw the holster hidden within Crystal’s jacket. Taylor would have been surprised, she supposed, if she hadn’t kept her own pistol under her pillow last night and tucked it into the back of her jeans earlier today.

The Ziploc bag contained two small rectangular slips of paper. Each was about the size of a business card, and bore a stamp stating, “Project: Together, Lot #”, and then a blank line to be filled in. One was filled in by hand with the number 2643 and the other showed 2644.

“I don’t know what it means, this Project: Together---”

“It’s a charity,” Taylor answered. “It’s a thrift store. Just over in Irondale near Eastwood mall.”

. . .

Ten minutes later, they were talking to a short man with a yellow plastic nametag identifying him as the thrift store manager.

“Yeah, so like, Hi! Um, so like, I got these pants from a friend of mine, and there was like, a slip of paper in the pocket that said Project: Together, and it had this number on it, and like, I was just wondering what the number was for...”

Crystal was standing, in Taylor’s opinion, far too close to the poor man. Crystal had unbuttoned the first three buttons on her blouse as she talked, and she kept twiddling with her rain-soaked hair as she talked to him. The manager appeared flushed and a little uncomfortable, and was clearly enjoyably affected by her interrogation technique.

Taylor idly looked down at the buttons on her own blouse. She could try the same trick, of course, but unless the goal was to fill the guy with pity, it probably wouldn’t help matters.

The flustered store manager stuttered out, “Those numbers are nothing to worry about. I mean, they are just what we use to track shipments of clothes that we don’t sell. Um…” He lost his train of thought for a moment as Crystal beamed a smile at him. “But, yeah, um… if a friend of yours got some clothes from one of those lots, then she didn’t buy it here in the store. You see, some stuff gets sold in the store, and then some clothes get taken to our warehouse in the back, and they get broken down into lots, and we send those lots to local charities. Your friend must have gotten the panties…er…pants…um… from one of the places we send clothes to…”

“A warehouse? How interesting! So…”

Taylor wandered away from the budding young couple and moved through the clothing displays in the store, moving towards the back. Finally, a job for Non-Descript-Girl, with her amazing ability to blend in and be ignored!

Taylor circled back around for a moment, now behind the enamored manager, and caught Crystal’s eye. Giving her the “keep him talking” signal, Taylor rounded another display of old jeans and passed through a door marked “Employees Only”

The room was a simple room of boxes and crates, with a loading bay and a cluttered desk. A tired looking old man with a clipboard stood near the desk, counting boxes.

“Hi, I’m Taylor, from Jefferson County Child Care. The man in the front said you could help me? I’m trying to track down a lot that got messed up and sent to the wrong place. Do you have a second?”

“Sure, what can I do ya for?”

“I’ve got a lot number here, 2643? Could you tell me where that got sent? My boss says that somebody maybe got behind or something…”

The trick worked, and the man immediately became defensive. “I don’t think so, ma’am. We always double-check every shipment leaving this place to be sure it goes to the right place, and we always have them sign for it when it gets picked up.” He started flipping pages on his clipboard.

“Hey, I hear you. My boss just says we were supposed to get a lot with some children’s clothes in it---”

“See, here it is right here. Your boss is wrong. Lot 2643, and 2644, and 2645, all sent to the St. James Mission for the Homeless. And see here, this says all of those lots were clothes for adult men, not children. Your boss is wrong, little lady.”


Librarian, Geologist, and Referee
I found another gem. Nice writing Drew, keep the updates coming.

I love the characters and how you drew them together.

Man with all the great story hours here, who needs a library. Besides, it sounds like they can be dangerous. :)
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Old Drew Id

First Post
Session 1 (5/07/2003) Joe on the bus

Session 1 (5/07/2003) Joe on the bus

“Case Closed?!?!? WHAT THE &%$# DO THEY MEAN ‘CASE CLOSED’?”

The other three passengers on the bus (two elderly women and what looked like a foreign exchange student) were watching Joe Empire like a ticking time bomb. His heavy trench-coat, Green Lantern T-shirt, and ragged bullet-riddled backpack did nothing to ease their minds. And random obscene outbursts were probably not a calming factor.

Joe hadn’t managed to get any sleep this morning (or take a shower) before opening the shop, and he had muddled through the morning fueled only by paranoia and Mountain Dew. He had eyed every customer suspiciously, expecting some as-yet-unnamed conspiracy to come sweep him away at any minute.

It was hard to think straight all morning. There was too much going on. In the words of Sneakers, “Too many secrets.”

According to Joe's internet searches in the early hours of the morning, the Ward Numismatic Society was founded in 1921 by G.B. Ward. This Ward guy had also founded the suburb of Vestavia Hills, where the library was located. Ward had apparently also been connected to several local industrial pioneers at the time, and was involved in a variety of local organizations. Perhaps most frighteningly, according to the local newspaper’s online archives, G.B. Ward had built the very library where the attack had taken place last night.

The library was where the Ward Numismatic Society used to meet.

By lunchtime, Joe was ignoring the few regulars in his shop and was busy at the register watching ‘Gambling Samurai’ (in the original Japanese, no subtitles, domo arigato very much). Man, that Toshiro was one nutty swordsman. For a couple of hours, life seemed to return to normal...

Anyhow, by lunchtime, the Men-In-Black had not come for him yet, so Joe decided to head out for some spring rolls, and to swing by the Vestavia police station to pick up the official report from last night’s attack. He needed the police report for his official “case file”. Plus, he would probably want to put it into the next newsletter. The Red Herring Newsletter was gaining new subscribers all the time (nine new subscribers last year alone!) and they would undoubtedly want to see the poorly-photocopied evidence for themselves.

So, an hour later, he was back on the bus, fresh from hassling The Man, with a copy of the police report.

Case Closed. Joe could not believe it. The attack was “likely gang-related.” The two surviving suspects were in custody (while still undergoing medical treatment) and were listed as “unresponsive.”

There would be no further investigation. There would be no interviews, no evidence gathering, and no official inquiries. The case was just…closed.

When the bus neared his Southside shop once again, Joe got off the bus, at once both disheartened and incensed. They could not just sweep this away. They could not do this to Joe Empire.

Looking again at the crumpled photocopy he had clutched the whole ride home, Joe noted the name of the detective who had signed off on the report. Detective Rich Hall.

Well, Joe thought, I think it's time Detective Rich Hall found out the consequences of crossing Joe Empire.

Old Drew Id

First Post
Session 1 (5/07/2003) Brother Cooper and Willie in the Hospital

Session 1 (5/07/2003) Brother Cooper and Willie in the Hospital

Willie woke up to the smell of disinfectant, the feeling of a hundred needles stabbing into his left thigh, and a metallic dry taste in his mouth. He smacked his lips together and cleared his throat to try to get some saliva flowing again as he surveyed the room.

There was a hint of pale daylight coming in through the window blinds to his right, and the sound of rain could be heard pattering on the window. He was lying in a hospital bed, in a flimsy paper gown, with an IV hooked up to one arm, and a thick shell of bandages taped around his left leg. A monitor on his right read out a series of jagged lines following his breathing and heart rate. To his left, a curtain divided the room in half.

Willie cleared his throat again. After a moment, the curtain pulled to the side. Brother Guyzell Cooper was sitting there in a wheelchair on the other side of the curtain, next to an unmade bed. Brother Cooper was in a hospital gown as well, and was holding a Bible in his lap. He marked his page with an embroidered bookmark and closed the book.

“Glad to see you’re finally up and around. I had some friends of mine praying for your recovery.”

Willie looked over the preacher for a moment. Short of looking a little green around the gills, and maybe needing to lose some weight, the preacher looked to be in good shape.

“What do they have you in for, preacher?”

Brother Cooper grimaced and motioned towards his stomach. “I took one in the belly last night. Not as bad as your leg, there, but enough for a handful of stitches. Overall, they say we’re both lucky. Should be out of here in a week or two.”

Willie laid back into his bed and closed his eyes. He had no idea how he was going to pay for this. First his shotgun, then his car, both now at the pawn shop. Now some mountain of medical bills just to completely bury him.

“You might want to read this,” Brother Cooper whispered to him.

Willie sighed, and winced at the shot of pain from his leg. And now he was stuck for a week in a room with a Bible-beater. “I appreciate it, preacher, but I’m not really up right now for a Bible stu-”, he began, but saw that the preacher was not offering him the Bible, but a rolled-up newspaper. “What’s this?”

“Today’s newspaper. Afternoon edition,” Brother Cooper smirked.

“Yeah,” Willie cut himself off. This was a man of God he was dealing with, after all, and it was a stupid question. He would try again, “What’s in it?”

“Nothing,” Brother Cooper sighed, and looked more than just a little concerned. “That’s the problem. Nothing about the events from last night. No pictures, no article. Not so much as a single line.”

Willie’s blood ran cold. The monitor on his right beeped suddenly, perhaps in response to the sudden rise in his heart rate.

Willie knew police procedure. He had at one time wanted to become a police detective. He still even considered the notion every now and then. He followed press reports of crime in the local area religiously. And one thing he knew for sure was that the press should have been on the story last night from the moment the cops were called. If the story didn’t run, it was because someone didn’t want it to run.

“The Lord moves in mysterious ways, Willie.”

Willie looked at the paper. The first article to catch his eye was near the bottom of the page. A local contractor was donating work to help repair damage from a recent vandalism attack on the Mountain View Church in Vestavia.

Willie had become an investigator because he had originally failed the written tests to become a police officer. His test proctor had been a racist, of course, and Willie was pretty sure he had actually passed the test but been denied in spite of his results. Still, despite that failure, Willie had known he would have made a fine police detective, just as he was a fine private investigator, because his mind saw connections that others missed.

Just glancing at the article about the local contractor, Willie saw two words. “Attack”, and “Vestavia.” That pattern-recognition part of his brain took over. He read the rest of the article, almost willing clues to appear before him.

The church was on Highway 31, less than a mile from the library. The vandals had struck three days ago. The attack occurred late in the night. No one was injured. The vandals had carved symbols into the wooden pulpit.

Carved…Carved…Carved. Willie was thinking now…

Carved…If you want to carve something into wood, what would you use?

A big knife.

. . .

Ten minutes later, an overweight female nurse came in, carrying a syringe. She smiled at Willie as she plugged the syringe into his IV, “Good afternoon, Mr. Lamar.”

Willie beamed a smile at the portly woman, “Afternoon, baby.” He decided on Friendly Smile With Good-Natured Heroics as the best choice for the moment.

The nurse smiled. Her teeth were a little crooked, and she could probably use a trip to the hair salon after she lost some weight, but she wasn’t really too bad off. She had smooth chocolate skin, and her eyes were a decent shade of green. Still, she was probably unaccustomed to compliments, which is exactly why Willie continued. “Baby, if you don’t mind me saying… well, I’m a detective, as you may have heard. And from time to time my work gets a little dangerous, catching bad guys and saving people and that kind of thing, you know? And I’ve been in hospitals on more than one occasion from scrapes like this little one here…but I got to tell you, baby, you have the prettiest eyes of any nurse I have ever seen.”

The nurse smiled sheepishly, her crooked teeth breaking out into a flirtatious little grin. “Well, thank you, Mr. Lamar.”

Willie smiled back at her, switching over to Devilish Grin Just Between You and Me, as he began to reel her in. “Oh, please, baby, call me Willie. And you are…Irene?”

He switched smiles now as he saw her warm to him. This was pretty easy, but he didn’t want to go overboard. He decided on the You’re In My Secret Club Now grin he had invented last week. She seemed to go for it as he continued, “My first crush in grade school was on a girl named Irene. ”

Brother Cooper cleared his throat in a disapproving tone.

Willie continued, “Irene, could you do me a favor?”

“There were a few gentlemen probably brought in here last night about the same time as me. Bunch of crazy looking white dudes? You know what happened to them?”

“Well…” she started, and then looked sideways at the door to the hall, to be sure no one was listening. “Three of them showed up D.O.A., you know, Dead On Arrival.” Her tone was conspiratorial, as she lowered her voice to a whisper.

“And the other two?”

“Well, they were acting all crazy, I hear, and were really messed up. But after they got treated in the emergency room, some policemen and some orderlies took them over to a secure ward, and then they were gonna be transferred over to Green.”

Willie nodded. That was standard procedure. There was a prison ward in the basement at Green Hospital. As a large hospital, UAB would have had certain temporary means to hold a prisoner-patient during emergency care, but they would have transferred him as soon as they could.

“It’s too bad you didn’t wake up sooner,” Irene offered, as she turned to walk away. “You could have asked the policeman yourself. He was guarding the door to this room all night until just before your roommate woke up this morning.”

. . .

The orderly came in to help Brother Cooper get out of the wheelchair and back into bed. He was maybe twenty-five years old, and a hulk of a young man, easily weighing in at three hundred pounds of muscle. But he also looked tired. Judging from the look of him, he must have been on the job for twelve hours, and he was just waiting to clock out and go home.

Brother Cooper groaned as the exertion pulled on some stitches in his stomach. The orderly caught him under the arm and eased him towards the bed.

“Thank you son, you are certainly doing the Lord’s work here.”

“Thank you, sir. Just doing my job.”

“You look plum-tuckered out, son. You remind me of times when I’m up late writing a sermon, and the words just refuse to come out right.” Brother Cooper’s voice was soothing and supportive. “You’re working a double shift, I wager.”

“That’s right, reverend. I was actually working, I think, when you got brought in last night.”

“Well how about that? I tell ya, the Lord shines down blessings on a hard-working man.”

Willie smiled. The preacher may have disapproved of Willie’s playing on the nurse earlier, but here he was doing the same thing. Throw a couple of compliments their way, get to be their friend, then pump ‘em for information. This preacher wasn’t half bad, either.

“So I hope you didn’t have to deal with those, uh… criminals that were brought in with us last night? I tell ya, I’ve been praying for ‘em since I woke up this morning, but I don’t know what could get into a man to make him do some things-- ”

“A centipede, actually,” the orderly muttered and smiled, as he flipped the leg supports up and out of the way on the now-empty wheel chair.

“Come again?”

“Oh, nothing, reverend.”

“Come on, now, what did you say? Sounded like you said a centipede?”

“Well,” the orderly began, and peered sideways at Willie, who pretended to read the paper and not be listening. “I actually was one of the guys who helped the police load the two guys into the wagon to take them over to Green.”

The orderly paused. Brother Cooper waited. Willie held his breath. Don’t blow it, preacher, Willie thought. This kid knows something.

“I don’t want to gross you out, reverend.”

“Don’t worry, son,” Brother Cooper smiled, and pointed to his expansive waistline, where the orderly had likely seen the knife wound from last night, “I have a strong stomach.”

“Well, as we were loading this guy into the wagon last night, he puked. And… well, since I’ve been working here, I’ve seen a lot of people eat a lot of weird stuff. Especially crazy people. But this guy. He puked up a centipede… and a couple other bugs. And the really sick part? I swear to G—” He suddenly eyed the Bible in the preacher’s hand. “I swear… after it happened…the centipede crawled away.”
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Old Drew Id

First Post
Session 1 (5/07/2003) Everybody Finally Gets Together

Session 1 (5/07/2003) Everybody Finally Gets Together

“What does this mean, ‘Case Closed’? That doesn’t mean, like, they are done investigating, right?” Taylor was panicked, and apparently when she got panicked, her Korean accent grew much more pronounced. “I mean, that just mean they closed crime scene or something. Right? They still have some guy investigating this. I sure they do. I mean, they haven’t even interviewed us yet.”

Crystal was busy re-reading the police report, and trying to ignore how fast Taylor was driving through the rain. The police report offered almost nothing in the way of details. Just a very vague description of a scene of trespassers who were shot in self defense. At the bottom of the page in one corner was a contact list, where the police had collected the names and numbers of the people at the scene of the crime. Taylor and Crystal were listed there, as she expected. She saw the fat geeky guy’s name was Joe Empire, and a work phone number was listed for him. The other two contacts were listed as Willie Lamar and Guyzell Cooper. For contact information, the sheet just said ‘UAB Hospital’ and offered an official phone number to get their room number later.

Crystal shrugged and her leather jacket crinkled. She needed a new jacket. Heck, she wanted a new Harley and Signature Series leathers, but instead she had a Trek mountain bike and a thrift store leather jacket. “I think Case Closed means they are done with it.”

“As in, they are not investigating anything anymore?”

“As in, we were not wasting our time at that thrift store this morning.”

Taylor swallowed and kept driving.

Crystal looked again at the police report. The two women had talked for a long while over lunch. They had considered visiting the homeless shelter to check things out there, but had been more than a little nervous about what they might find. Picking up the police report was Crystal’s idea of buying time while she tried to think of something.

The situation reminded her of her field studies class with Dr. Running Bear. You had to dig if you wanted to find answers. And if you can not dig in one place, dig somewhere else.

“You have any plans tonight?”

“I was supposed to work, but for now the library is closed until tomorrow night.”

“Okay, then how about we get some help?”

. . .

The phone rang. A male voice picked up.

“Who is this?”

“What? Huh? Is this Joe Empire?” Crystal was caught off guard.

“Don’t say my name on the phone! Who is this? Ten seconds!””

“This…wait…so this is Joe Empire?”

Click. The line went dead.

“I think he just hung up on me.”

. . .

The phone rang. A male voice picked up.

“Who is this?”

“Is this Joe Empire?”

“Don’t say my name on the phone! Jeez! Who is this? Five seconds!”

“This is Crystal Lassiter. I met you--”

Click. The line went dead.

. . .

The phone rang. A male voice picked up.

“Who is this?”

“This is the Native American girl you met last night.”

“Hey baby! I knew you would be calling me. I could tell the way you were eyeing me last night--”

Click. Crystal hung up the line.

. . .

The phone rang. A male voice picked up.

“Who is this?”

“Listen up fat boy! This Taylor Chu, from library!”

“Oh…the Chinese girl…”

“I’m not Chinese, I’m Korean!”

“Sure…whatever…ten seconds…actually five now…”

“Meet us at the hospital tonight at seven. ”


Click. Taylor hung up the line.

. . .

Crystal followed Taylor down the hospital corridor. The university hospital was a massive maze-like complex, encompassing something like fourteen city blocks, and then morphing into a medical school and urban college campus as it continued sprawling on towards the west side of town, swallowing one building after another as it took over Southside.

They had parked four blocks away and had been wandering through hallways trying to find the room. At last, they turned down a hallway and Crystal saw Joe, standing by a room door, studying a chart. He was wearing the same trench and backpack, but now he was wearing a Superman baseball cap pulled down low over his eyes and a T-shirt that read “Origins”. When he saw them approach, he shoved the chart back into its holder on the wall and pretended to be looking for the room number.

Crystal brushed past him and pushed open the door. She heard Taylor mutter to him behind her, “Nice phone manners, fat boy.”

And then Crystal saw Willie Lamar and Brother Cooper.

Old Drew Id

First Post
Session 1 (5/07/2003) In This Together

Session 1 (5/07/2003) In This Together

“So, let me get this straight, just to make sure I’m not missing anything,” Brother Cooper was a natural when it came to speaking to crowds. It was just a gift he had been given by the Father, and he used it as the Father guided him.

“Last Wednesday, some vandals broke into a church. That might be unrelated, but it might somehow be connected to what happened to us, based on general intuition. Then last night, five men, who got their clothes from a shelter for the homeless, attacked us with knives. Then, as we were being treated in the hospital, the police closed the case without any investigation, and the press never mentioned it either… and then the thugs that survived the attack started vomiting up bugs. Is that the extent of the story as we currently understand it?”

The group was silent for a minute. Their story certainly sounded preposterous, when laid out in its entirety. But they were quite certain about each piece, and none doubted the deadliness of what they had seen so far.

“Well…there may be a little more to it,” Joe admitted.

Brother Cooper raised an eyebrow and coaxed Joe on, “Well, what do you have, Joseph?”

Joe unzipped his backpack and removed the coin book he had taken from the library. He flipped it open to the yellowed photograph he had found earlier.

The group all gathered around the book (as much as Willie and Brother Cooper could lean in from their beds) and looked at the photograph. The Ward Numismatic Society of 1924 smiled back at them. A dozen faces from eighty years ago, and yet they each saw their own likeness from within that crowd. As the looked on, Joe related all that he had learned about G.B. Ward and the founding of the library and of the Society and of the suburb of Vestavia.

“Where did you get this, son?” Brother Cooper demanded, his voice stern but not angry.

“The library---”

“That’s a library book! You stole a library book, fat boy! You took books from library!”

“Hey, now, easy there, Tae-Bo! I borrowed this book from the library. That’s what libraries are for.” Joe shoved the book back into his backpack and zipped it up again.

“You didn’t check book out! You stole book!” Taylor’s accent was back again and thicker than ever. She apparently took the library thing pretty seriously.

“Please, Ms. Taylor, I’m afraid I have to agree with Joe here for a moment. I agree he should not normally take things that don’t belong to him, but I would say he should hold onto that book until we figure this thing out.”

The others nodded assent, and Joe smiled.

“Joe?” Willie spoke up. “Why, specifically, did you go to the library looking for coin-collecting books last night?”

Joe paused and looked nervously around the room. He took a deep breath and began, “I had a weird dream last night.”

Joe then filled everyone in on his dream about the coins and the comic book. When he was done, everyone looked shocked and somehow more deeply afraid. One by one, they each related their own recent dreams. Willie and the coins on his grandfather’s dead eyes. Crystal and the evil cowboy with the silver dollar badge. And Taylor, with her dream of reading a book in the library, but the book was about coins, and the coins flew out of the book and attacked her. Brother Cooper finished by telling his dream of the coin with the Bible quote in his collection plate. As the group listened to the end of his tale, he picked out the page from his Bible, and quoted it back to them:

Genesis 42:28
"My silver has been returned," he said to his brothers. "Here it is in my sack." Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, "What is this that God has done to us?"

Epic Threats

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