Cloak & Dagger The Assassins' Guild - Week 0 News

Sunday, 6 January

[00:00 AM] Bounties!
The Shadow Broker reports:

Bounties are rewards offered for kills or attempts made on particular players or in particular ways. Anyone can set a bounty; just contact the Umpire and explain what you'd like to offer. Similarly, contact the Umpire if you believe you've qualified for a bounty and would like to claim it. Note: someone having a bounty on them does not make them a licit target for you if they weren't already.

A selection of bounties from some mysterious study group of sci-fi fans:

  • Dalek Clara: Make a kill with an egg mixer and/or plunger. Bonus points if it's a bang-kill in which you yelled ''exterminate''. First to accomplishgets a (or a box of, depending on style) soufflee. Edibility not guaranteed.
  • Zaphod Beeblebrox: Make a kill in pajamas outside your house. First to accomplish gets a towel. Or dress up in Marvin costume (headpiece is a must) and make a kill. In which case you get 42 towels.
  • Luke Skywalker: Kill your real life/college/society parent, but only AFTER they've taken out one of your upper limbs. First to accomplish gets a very cute picture book ''Darth Vader and son''.
  • The Master: Knock Four on your target's door before you kill. First to accomplish gets a Vote Saxon poster.
  • Obi-wan Kenobi: After engaging in conversation with your assassin, successfully convince them that''This is not the droid/target you're looking for''. (And then kill them.) First to accomplish gets a droid thingy (that we haven't decided on yet).
  • Stan Lee: Make a kill using a theme-appropriate prop (sonic screwdriver, light saber, star destroyer, full Iron Man suit, whatever). First to accomplish gets a 5 pound Forbidden Planet voucher.
  • Captain Kirk: Be wearing a red top (shirt/T-shirt/sweater/dress etc) when you die. Bonus points if it's actually a red shirt costume from Star Trek. Make sure you act dramatically when you die. First to die in this manner gets a consolatory protein bar from Enterprise food synthesizer. Anyone who dies in actual Red Shirt costume gets a round of Romulan Ale.
  • River Song: Kill someone with a poisonous kiss. Yes, I mean contact weapon - I'm sure blue lipsticks aren't hard to find. First to accomplish gets either a Cam River tour with Songs in the background, or River's TARDIS notebook. [Note: this is not an excuse for inappropriate kissing or touching].
  • Grinch: Kill someone you spent Christmas with. First to accomplish will be rewarded a box of Brussels sprout tea. Yes, it's a thing that exists.
  • Get a kill with an unpurchased weapon in a shop (like the bucket of last swords in Hawkins bazaar) prize: reimbursement (within reason?)

A bounty from the umpire himself

It runs in the family: Have a (real life, not college/society parent/sibling/cousin) family member accomplice you on one successful kill or two unsuccessful attempts. Reward TBC. Can be claimed by anyone who does this, not just the first.

[00:01 AM] A Call For Help Across The Galaxy
The Shadow Broker reports:

[Location Unknown]

There was a room. The room was relatively small, and had a bit more stuff in it than one probably ought to put in it. Shelves of plushies and mugs stood above the bed, and a large number of plushies inhabited the bed below. Posters and art prints of anime, JRPGs, and general cute things were on the wall, such that if its occupant bought any more, he may have to start affixing them to the ceiling.

He sat at his computer, ready to begin what was likely to be another day of viewing random planets and learning about people. It was his favourite pastime seeing as no-one else seemed to live here, and he'd got good at it. It was very easy now to find interesting people and know everything about them within the space of an hour at most. Then suddenly he'd find himself with enough dirt to bring down a planetary empire... At least it was in safe hands, right?

Suddenly, the screen flashed blue, and an old-school message box appear before him. “Haruto Amo has perished. You have been chosen as the next Shadow Broker”. It appeared briefly on the screen, for at most five seconds, and vanished without a trace. “That's odd” he thought. “But I'm sure I've heard this name before...”

In a few minutes, he had discovered all there was to find about this name. The Shadow Broker: the most powerful information dealer in the universe. They say that when he falls, another will rise to take his place, and there may be multiple Shadow Brokers for all anyone actually knows about him. Bypassing some security systems, he found the identities of the previous two who had found themselves in strange death games. The first was one run by one Cornelius Gray, and the Shadow Broker there had been too trusting. Then some Labyrinth thing? Complacency finally caught up to his direct predecessor it seems, and one wizard by the name of Merlin was the only one to escape it. Both of these men were deadly, he discovered, going on huge bloody rampages before their deaths, such that their names have appeared in the history books. That's a lot to live up to...

“Hopefully this doesn't suddenly paint a huge target on my back.”

Of course, existing on a tiny micro-planet was certainly going to help with with survival and avoiding detection if this name did carry any sort of inherent danger. In fact, where really was he? When he looked out the window, there was nothing but natural beauty as far as he could see. He stepped out of his door, and his blue and black shoes immediately touched grass. That was strange, he could have sworn that the last time he left, he was in a forest clearing. Closing the door behind him, he looked back and saw nothing. “Not this again...” he sighed. “I wonder where the door will appear this time...”

Come to think of it, he thought, when actually was the last time he left his room? All the days had been blurring into one recently. Food would magically appear in a designated spot a few times a day, and eventually whatever was spawning it had got used to his tastes, and would typically send sweet and/or chocolatey goodness.

He stared out at the scenery in front of him. It was a vast plain, but behind him were some trees, and what looked like buildings typical of one planet he sometimes observed. These had never appeared before, so, curiosity piqued, he decided to go that way.

The buildings that lay before him resembled a small town like those he would see sometimes on his computer. It seemed completely empty. He was used to seeing no-one around him, but having a settlement that seemed in perfect condition, like it ought to be inhabited, completely deserted, did rub him the wrong way slightly. There was an imposing building in the far corner of the settlement, and he decided to see what was inside. “Oh, so it's one of those places” he thought as he entered and saw a vast expansion before him. It was certainly bigger on the inside, and had aisles for just about everything one could think of: food, clothes, music, guns, electronics, “adult entertainment”... Oh, and swords. The shelves were full, there were shopping trollies in the aisles, he noticed as he walked through the central one and looked up and down. It was as though there had been people here once, and suddenly they just disappeared, popped out of existence.

As he made his way to the back wall, the one with all the weaponry, he noticed some familiar ones, and hesitantly took some, and admired them. Laser swords really did look non-threatening didn't they, yet somehow their range is extreme, and no-one sees them coming. And the mini pistol Haruto used was as concealable as it looked, and firing a few test shots, he was impressed at its range. He took a bag on his way out and used it to house a larger laser gun.

The moment he stepped out of the building, he could see something was off, namely, the sky had turned blood red. This had never happened before, and he quickened his pace, deciding to try and find wherever the door to his room had shown up this time. He turned a corner and stopped in his tracks. Before him stood the first living creature he had seen here. It towered over him, at least a foot taller, and was the width of one of the cars he had passed on the street. It was clad in armour that looked almost like it had merged with its body, and wore a horned helmet, from which he could see glowing, red eyes. It stared at him and unsheathed the giant sword that it had slung over its shoulder, letting out a large war cry, the strength of which threatened to knock its adversary off his feet. He barely had time to compose himself when he had saw the figure's sword slamming down towards him. Suddenly his vision flickered, and he was a few paces back, the sword cracking the ground where he had been moments ago.

[An unnamed space station orbiting an uncharted black hole]

The alarms went off, and immediately the man and woman in the command centre knew what to do. “We've been compromised!” she called to him, as they hurried down the long corridor towards an observation deck. “You search the dimension-scape for the co-ordinates and I'll ready the extractor”. The man by her side nodded, and as they entered the room, they quickly got to work at two adjacent computer consoles.

“Miss Scarlet, what's going on?” asked a young staff member who had been tidying some paperwork when they entered.

“This alarm means that our dimension-scape has been invaded”, she responded without looking away from the console. “The algorithm chose someone in there as the new Broker for the first time. I have to assume that this is the work of Skyros, he's always seen us as a threat”

“But how could he possibly know about our operations?”

“He has his agents everywhere, just like we do. We thought we'd been able to stop them reaching this station but obviously we were mistaken. Yes, that does mean we have a traitor in our midst” she added, seeing the man's mouth was about to ask this question. “Right now we don't have the time to deal with it, we need to retrieve the Broker and get them to safety.”

“I've locked onto the co-ordinates!” her companion on the bridge called.

“Excellent, initiating recovery” she said, and pulled a lever on her left straight down. The three of them watched as the large room below glowed in a white light, and suddenly the contents of the small room appeared. The boy and his adversary stood on what would have been opposite sides of the room were it still contained within its original walls.

“Shit, it's one of his vessels!” called the member of staff. Looking at the new Shadow Broker, he was visibly concerned. He looked very ordinary, and defenceless, dressed plainly in black trousers, a white t-shirt and hoodie, with no visible weaponry. The figure opposite him charged, and he phased out again, appearing behind it. From his hoodie pocket he drew the mini pistol and fired a few shots into its back. The cycle continued for a few more rounds, when suddenly the three of them saw his eyes flicker bright blue. The figure that faced him didn't notice all the plushies in the room were also glowing now. They came to life, and piled on top of it, making use of the chinks in its armour that the Broker had created to burrow inside it, devouring it from the inside out. Soon, it glowed red, and exploded, sending shards of its armour, and plushies, scattered all over the room. A particularly large one leapt to protect the Broker from harm, and then, they all became inanimate once again. Scarlet smiled, and the three of them descended to the main level.

[A few minutes later. Unnamed space station bound for The Citadel]

The Shadow Broker, Scarlet, and her fellow commander who introduced himself as Atticus, were sat around a table in the command centre. “We should reach The Citadel in a few minutes. It's the “capital city”, so to speak, of this part of the galaxy”, Scarlet told the Broker. “I'm sure you'll have questions about what is going on. Hopefully I can answer them before we arrive.” She paused briefly, and continued: “Where you have been for the past countless years is called the dimension-scape. It was created by a previous Shadow Broker to safely contain those who could succeed her, but were at higher risk of being compromised, be it due to rarity of species, inability to control power, both of which apply to you, or any other number of reasons. The dimension-scape exists in its own realm, beyond this universe's time and space. Our records show that you were placed there around 50 years ago. For you it will have seemed like just a steady flow of days, a cycle without beginning or end, during which you never seem to age, and rarely require food. An automatic programme made by a previous Shadow Broker ensures that the food you are given contains chemicals that help balance wilder powers, so that when you use them, you can control them.

You are an esper, a very rare evolution of human who can read thoughts, control objects, and even distort space itself. You very aptly demonstrated the latter two properties in the battle we witnessed when you returned from the dimension-scape. As we had hoped, your instincts took over and you were able to safely wield your powers as you saw fit and weren't overcome by them thanks to the food we have been providing.

Now to the situation at hand. The Broker who created the dimension-scape wanted it to also be used as a training ground to breed successors to the name, and as such, all occupants in the dimension-scape have access to technology that they will be able to use when they leave, the intention being that with little to do a lot of the time, the occupants will try and learn as much as they can about the outside world. In this case, your skills in information gathering matched the previous Broker's only days after he was appointed, and as such, you are now much more skilled at information gathering than he was when he died due to the difference in the flow of time between the dimension-scape and here. One trick for finding information on particularly obscure targets that the previous Broker only learned the week before his death has been known to you for at least a year already, judging by our records of your activity.

The Shadow Broker is widely regarded as the best source of information in the galaxy, and we have agents everywhere who you will be able to call upon should you require it. However, such a reputation always comes with a price, and the more destructive the information one possesses, the more enemies one will make who want to suppress it. During your time in the dimension-scape, you stumbled upon a very powerful secret pertaining to a man named Skyros, whose vessel you encountered. He is a warmonger, intent on ruling over the galaxy, and has managed to unlawfully seize control of around one eighth of the galaxy so far. Those vessels you saw will crush any who stand in their path, and they're the lucky ones. Those who think that they can survive by not resisting are infected and become vessels themselves. This is a secret he has worked hard to keep from others, as he relies on the survival instincts of species to keep his armies large. We received this information from your computer yesterday. He obviously has a mole in our ranks, as it cannot be coincidence that one of his vessels appeared in your dimension-scape now.”

“The one positive we can take from this”, Atticus interrupted, “is that whoever the mole is cannot be someone of particularly high authority. They thought that by eliminating you, the information would be lost, with no knowledge of the fact that all information that the dimension-scape's inhabitants uncover is sent directly to us, who then pass it on to the current Broker should they not know it already.”

“That is some consolation”, Scarlet replied. “But we know that Skyros will be targeting us from now on. So, I've got a plan to help. We need to find a champion.”

“A champion?”

“Yes, someone who can defeat him. Such people must surely exist somewhere, it's just a matter of knowing where to look. Or in this case, knowing what to offer in return”, she smiled. “After all, the Shadow Broker has all the knowledge anyone could want. I am going to send a message out to a selection of people who we have discovered, who I believe could be capable of taking him down. Their task will be to locate and take down each other until only one, our champion, remains. Anyone with the skills to defeat what will be an assemblage of some of the most powerful mercenaries, bounty hunters, army captains, and rogue traders in the galaxy will be able to rise up to our challenge when provided with the information we will undoubtedly uncover in the interim period.”

“That sounds like a plan”, the Shadow Broker replied. “I can provide you with more additions to your list to contact. I assume that the safest thing to do now is for us to blend into the population and continue gathering information we can use. This sounds awfully like the death games I have previously encountered, which claimed my two predecessors. I take it that means that we have a team of agents who can eliminate those who fail to match our expectations.”

“That is correct. We have agents everywhere, on every planet in the galaxy. It is no exaggeration to say that no-one can hide from the Shadow Broker's network.”

The Shadow Broker smiled wryly. “I hope you don't mind if I challenge myself then, and join in the fun.”

Scarlet chuckled. “Of course not, this is your game after all, your story to tell now that you've been retrieved from the dimension-scape. Feel free to do as you please. I suspect before long your esper powers will enable you to escape any life-threatening situations you may find yourself in”

“Well, I've already succeeded at that once”, he laughed.

Suddenly, the station docked. “We're here”, Scarlet said. She produced a pendant from her pocket. It was plain silver, with an outline that, were one to look closely enough, resembled an entwining of the letters S and B. “Take this, it is passed down between Brokers, and look for others bearing this symbol in other means, be it on their clothing, jewellery, a tattoo, their business logo, or anything else. Those are our agents, and they will offer you any assistance you may require. Atticus and I shall stay here and send the message.”

“Got it”, the Shadow Broker replied, pocketing the pendant, and passing Scarlet a note. “Here are the people I think you should definitely contact, if you were not planning to already.”

“Thank you”, she replied, and produced a note of her own. “In exchange, here is the address of a safe house from which you can begin blending into the community here.”

“Thank you”, the Broker replied. Atticus got up and showed him to the exit of the station.

“We'll be in touch.” He shook the Broker's hand, and they turned and went their separate ways. He returned to the command centre, where Scarlet had just finished typing her message.

“Ok, this thing is ready to go”, she told him as he sat beside her. “I hope this works out...” She hit the send button on her computer.

[Various locations]

The e-mail message tone played, and a finger moved to open it. The Shadow Broker's gambit was about to commence.

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