Erica Fisher tells the PCs that the situation is changing rapidly, and they need to meet her in her hotel in Tacoma.
When they go to her room (the executive suite) her bodyguards (two large men who look like retired boxers) let them in and shut the door behind them. Her assistant is on the phone in a hushed voice and Leonard is also there, and he is lost in a few old musty volumes and his own notes. There is a cart from room service with emptied plates all over it, and half a pot of coffee left. Erica looks up from her leather bound day planner and puts away her Blackberry. She tells the PCs to sit down and makes themselves comfortable. “The situation is changing rapidly but I think we have a good idea what to make of this. Leonard has a strong theory that … doesn’t seem too far fetched to me. First of all, tell me what happened at the meatpacking plant.”
She pauses looking at Karl. “There’s something you want to say to me. Tell me, why did you agree to go along with this mad scheme?”
“Unfortunately, events are moving ahead faster than we anticipated. This morning the closing manager of our Tacoma franchise was found by the morning shift unconscious in the restaurant. They took him to a hospital and he is in stable condition, but we haven’t heard more. Four other employees of four franchises in my Realm failed to show for their evening shifts. Portland, Boise, and Bellingham were all affected. All of these are at the edges of my Realm in each direction. I fear that we’re encountering a well-informed enemy. Along with those three, the fourth franchise affected was your restaurant in Seattle. Your manager, Ira, failed to show for his closing shift. I’ve sent someone I trust to check his house, but I don’t know what we’ll find. I’m sorry.”
“I’ll update all of you immediately when we find anything more. For now… I’ve already uprooted you from your shifts and I don’t want to pull out more staff than necessary – there are mundane appearances to keep.” She considers for a moment and sets her day planner aside, facing each of you and Leonard. “What I’m about to say doesn’t leave this room. The reason I take care with the normal operation of this business in the Northwest is the reason I exercise regularly and eat well – my health and the state of my Realm are fundamentally linked. When these franchises felt the effects with the bungled changing of shifts – discovering what we think is a series of kidnappings – my nose bled and we had to pull over the side of the highway so that I could throw up my lunch. Is that clear to you all? I am the Executive of this branch of the org chart in more than name. When it thrives, I thrive. If I am injured or if I fall ill… I don’t know what could happen to your franchise, and others, and I don’t intend to find out.”
As soon as Erica’s assistant puts down the hotel phone, it rings again and he snatches it up. He calls across the room, “Erica, it’s the hospital in Tacoma. The Fruit woke up.” She picks up the line and holds her forehead. “Hello CK? Yes, it’s me. How are you feeling, what can you tell me?” She looks stricken, and then a flash of anger, and then just determination. “I see the wisdom in that, CK. You made a snap judgment in the moment and I can’t fault you for that. Yes, it surely is organized, they acted on your information today. CK, listen to me. I forbid you from blame. There are no weak links in my chain of command. Your responsibility to me is to regain your health. Let me handle the fallout. We may have underestimated whoever this group is. I’m going to hand you to Larry, he’ll fill you in on anything you care to learn. I don’t think there’s any harm in your following along – they’ve already done the damage.”
“That was the Fruit. You may know him from the list. As we thought” she exchanges a glance with Leonard “he was attacked because of his unfailing honesty. He was made at gunpoint to give the names and locations of other members of Mak Attax.”
“Those bastards, monsters, assholes,” rages Leonard, and pulls at his hair. “Threatening an old man.”
Erica steels herself and says “The Fruit has explained to me in the past that he collects power from learning secrets, and revealing secrets. When he reveals a secret it is a deliberate, careful act. He told me a now that he gave the names of the most dangerous and capable members he could think of, who wouldn’t go down without a fight. You should be proud he included Ira in that list.”
In the early morning, Wyst is wakened by a sound from the door of the hotel room. She watches the door latch undo itself and the lock unlock itself. As the door opens she slams it shut. A loud, clear voice from the hall says, “If you hear me out, before you react, you’ll learn a few things.”
She feels the truth of his words. Wyst wakes the PCs and lets in a scraggly wild-eyed man in a winter coat. He says, “Let me tell you about a man. A man who uses innocent people, including his own family, as shields against his many enemies and his own failings. He’s a murderer, a thief, who has committed countless crimes. He is one of the most powerful people in the world, and if he thinks it will make his path easier to tread, his message easier to spread, he would kill any of you with his own hands. This man has lain in wait, hiding for many years, but the gathering of your magick has lured him out into the open. Yes, I know about that. This man is searching for the same thing you are, and he’ll cross any threshold, do or say whatever he can to upset the gods and bring his madness to bear upon the entire world. You must see the dangers inherent in this chase – I can tell you a lot about your enemy.”
“I found you through my talents. I follow the steps of a god – the Herald, the Messenger, Hermes, Iris, Mercury. Pheidippides and Paul Revere and Ernie Pyle and all the bearers of the news on network TV, do you get me?”
“I’ve come to you because every time I spin the radio dial it points in your direction. If you’ve got no clue what I’m talking about, then we’re really in trouble.”
The next morning, Leonard follows Erica and her staff to their corporate minivan. They say they’re going to Seattle. Leonard will check on the franchise. He asks the PCs if anyone has heard from Carrie. She hasn’t returned his messages and he’s very worried.