In the best vault of the secret organization Gram, hidden in the deep basement of the Library of Progress, three people gathered in front of a new exhibit. Curator Samuel Jenkins gleefully studied the shield as he polished it very carefully, Alicia Corson oversaw this activity with an annoyed look on her face, while Corey Jacobson altered between checking out random items and checking his notes. These actions were interrupted when a shimmering figure appeared in between them, a watcher spirit sent by the president with her eternal smile.
“Of course she had to send a watcher,” Alicia grumbled. “Still, could we not have held a meeting elsewhere? No reason why she could not study the shield after the meeting.”
“Uhm, but miss Corson,” Jenkins timidly interrupted, “that’d cost more time and she has a busy sched-” then quickly shut up as he received a death glare. Meanwhile the watcher spirit studied the shield for a few seconds, then motioned for them to start. With a grunt Alicia began the debriefing.
“I sent those unmannered thugs, who rudely insisted on a lunch break first, to New Orleans to visit a party at The Rising Sun. As I reported last week, one of our sources had informed us there was something strange going on there in the art collection. Since the president gave her okay at last, I quickly sent the group there to infiltrate the party and find out what was going on. Oh, and get this, those idiots got searched at the border to the Confederation of American States, because one of them had Psyche on them and it got picked up by the drug hounds! A good thing nobody brought anything problematic with them, otherwise this mission would have failed even before it started!”
“Hm, ah, easy Alicia,” spoke a distracted Jacobson. “We’ll discuss it in the annual performance reviews. That’s what they’re for, right?” His innocent smile managed to lessen the frown on her face. “Uhm, this was a party at the former-brothel-former-speakeasy owned by that horrible Anderson, correct?”She nodded and continued.
“I hear they broke illegally hidden cameras at their hotel rooms, which at the least helped their covers since who would stand out that much then commit theft… Anyway, we got them into the party easily since I had prepared even before the final okay, and they even wore some mediocre clothes instead of street clothes. At the party they studied the horrid art collection, if you can call that abomination such a thing. He even hung paintings in front of other paintings! Really, who does that?!”
“Ah, a barbarian I would say.” Jenkins coughed shyly. “He gathered these things and exposed them purely to shock and entertain, not to actually appreciate them. At least that is what we thought.”
“Indeed,” Alicia agreed. “So it was a bit of a shock what happened. But let me rewind a short bit for the full summary to this -” she gestured towards the president’s watcher spirit “- messenger here. So at the party Blumberg discovered a book he had stolen three years ago had been replaced with a forgery, which got him kicked out after he exposed it with quite a bit of dramatic flair. The only upside to that is that it left him free to run Matrix searches on several suspicious party guests, who turned out to be Private Eyes, most likely hired by our faceless competition. Meanwhile Henri and Ogalesha spent time seducing and ended up with peculiar information regarding Anderson’s conquests at his parties. They didn’t really remember their one-night stands but he didn’t really impress them.
“Meanwhile Grod got bored,” she snorted in disdain, “and ended up hiding in one of the secret rooms upstairs. This led to him witnessing Anderson stab a woman with an Aztec dagger, then use a strange shield to heal her. He promptly fed her some wine, causing her to go unconscious, and cast some magic on her. Combined with the information the women downstairs had told our people, they figured out this was a case of ritual sacrifice combined with a healing shield and a combination of memory-erasing drugs and implanting false memories in his victims. Those false memories disappearing after a few months resulted in the peculiar broken recollections. At least now they knew what they were after, the shield, so they made a plan to come back the next day.
“Their plan was smart, disguise as workers for the broken elevator and then sneak through the shaft into a hidden room they had discovered during the party, which they did through levitation. Unfortunately Anderson and a possible conquest of his, who the group didn’t trust because she proved immune to their charms, arrived early and they were forced to hide. When through sneaking and magic they observed the woman distract then kill Anderson, ironically using his own ritual dagger against him, they quickly attacked her. Grod burst through a wall for that, can you believe that?! How inane is that!”
“Hm, yes, rather inane,” Jacobson mumbled. “But it did get them the element of surprise, which let them take out a rather dangerous blood mage. Initiation grade eight at the least? She had quite the rap sheet. Then killed her before running away from all the king’s men responding to the fire alarm. Ah, that reminds me, I should really have a word with Grod for bashing her to death with his chains, though he did have a valid excuse so could be forgiven.”
Alicia and Jenkins blinked and looked at each other for a few seconds before Jenkins spoke up. “Ah, forgiven for uhm what, sir? Killing her so brutally?”
Now it was Jacobson’s turn to blink. “Huh? No, of course not.” A smile came upon his face as he continued: “For not slowly torturing her to death first, of course! After all, that’s what should happen to all enemies of metahumanity, make them suffer before they die a slow, antagonizing death!”
The shocked silence was interrupted when from the watcher spirit came brilliant laughter in the voice of the president. “Oh Corey, wonderful, wonderful. This, this kind of attitude is why I made you my second-in-command. You always are so eager to do what’s needed. Thank you for that. And thank you all, I have confirmed this is the item we were looking for. Shield and armor taking care of, just two more things to go…”