Scion: Legacy

The River of Doubt 11

Story 2 - Session 11

“Is this mission worth it? Are we marching to our deaths,” asks Rondon to the Scions returning from the jungle’s edge. “Soldiers know death is a possibility, but we need to know our deaths will mean something!”

Rondon, and the rest of the Brazilian military contingent, are at their limits. The entire company was dug in. Every soldier had their rifles raised and lanes of fire picked in anticipation of a fight set to hit their lines hard at any moment. The fact that not a single soldier fired at the Scions as they returned to camp is a testament to Rondon’s men’s training.

Earlier in the day the Scions had left to explore ahead and made contact with the servants of Tsuthoggaua and the remnants of a paramilitary gureilla NARCO army prowling the jungle.

Both had been dispatched with brutal, and some would say dispassionate, efficiency by the Scions.

The sounds of the battle carried through the jungle and, to the expedition camp site personnel, sounded like a company of soldiers were in battle and moving towards camp.

The nonchalant return of the Scions was the last straw. Rondon needed to know, in full detail, what the Scions had dragged them into. Innuendo and half-truths would not suffice any longer. Not if the Scions intended to have Rondon’s men as allies in the coming fight.

Jaime Kincaide, a Scion of Zeus, led the Scions in calming the frayed nerves of Rondon and his senior staff. Kincaide knew all too well the importance of this mission to find and destroy Hastur. Losing the Brazilian forces now, when they were so close to the end, could mean the expedition’s failure.

So he explained their mission and its purpose with all the detail he could. From the strange man who had prowled New York, and the madness that followed him, to their current hike through the Amazon.

An alien being, so unknowable and anathema to the minds of men, called Hastur, the Yellow King, was returning to earth. Even the Gods trembled at his return.

There was no doubt in Rondon’s mind. Kincaide spoke the truth, and only a fool could deny it after this journey.

Placated, Rondon ordered his forces to break camp. The company had to be moved but how was up for debate.

So the Scions, Rondon, and Maj. Garvey of The WALL, convened a meeting on the hood of a Humvee.

For days the team had been moving south following the advice given by the Cinta Larga tribe. The northern path, the most direct path to the ruins described by Kermit Roosevelt, is under the control of Hastur’s minions, which included the corrupted indigenous tribe they have been battling for generations. To travel north was to meet the enemy in their territory. It was suicide, but the battle the Scions had just finished proved that even the south was not free of threats.

As the debate on how to proceed continued, CHARLIE from The WALL, arrived with news of a discovery. A mass grave had been found by one of the Brazilian Army scout units returning to camp.

The grave was fresh and filled with the broken and shredded bodies of guerilla soldiers. Thousands of rounds of spent ammunition were scattered over the bodies , which showed the futility of these men’s last stand.

This discovery showed everyone that the threat was more dire than first thought. Hastur was already in the south. The question on the party’s mind now was: north or south? The mass grave made it clear the south was no better than the north. Traveling south would mean a longer journey, more opportunities to be ambushed , and low morale. On the plus side, the expedition would be able to bring their trucks and supplies with them.

The northern route was fast and direct but entrenched by enemy forces. The players would have to leave all heavy equipment behind to push through the north’s dense jungle.

Neither option was optimal, but Yamasaki Ayuko, a Scion of Izanami, and Abel Remington, a Scion of Ares, fought hard to convince the team to push north. The pair also offered a unique idea of their own. The Scions would push in front of the human military convoy to meet the enemy. The Scion’s speed would allow them to reach the final destination in hours rather than days. It wouldn’t be quite or stealthy, but the Scions could get there, and hit Hastur hard and fast. Rondon and his men would follow but would be days behind the Scions.

No one liked the options available, but the choice was clear. The Scions would face Hastur alone while the humans fought and died to hold territory in Hastur’s area of influence.

Lúcás Kean, a Scion of Lugh, Quin Collins, a Scion of Cernunnos, and the rest of the Scion band, gathered their things and ran into the jungle. Ther was no sense in waiting.

For more than hour the Scions ran through the dense jungle floor. With inhuman skill and reflexes they bounded swiftly through the trees. The enemy was nowhere to be seen but as their destination grew steadily closer a sense of wrongness flowed across their flesh and tried to raid their minds. Ayuko fought against the creeping nightmare reaching for her, but failed to prevent it from scratching at the edges of her sanity.

The Scions were not welcome in this place, and the master of this land now knew where they were.

Battle commenced from all sides. Corrupted humans and alien creatures attacked the Scions with both primitive and modern arms. Arrows slammed into trees and heavy machinegun fire shredded the rest. Outmanned and outgunned, the Scions charged forward.

Eventually the enemy withdrew and fell into the shadows. The Scions had moved too quickly for the attackers to continue pursuit. It was luck, but the Scions had avoided major injuries.

Continuing at full speed, the Scions cleared the Jungle and ran across the Rio Roosevelt, which was the last obstacle between them and the ruins Kermit had described in his journal. They had arrived.

The land they had entered was changed. The fauna and animals living in the ruins were from another time and another place. Whatever ritual or magic Hastur was using to reach Earth was transforming the ecosystem to match his home’s.

As the team continued forward the jungle retreated further to reveal a once proud cyclopean city with architectural elements of ancient Rome. The city, even in its dilapidated state, echoed greatness. The site was proof that Romans had, in ages past, landed in South America, or vice versa.

Within the ruins were the fragments of dreams and nightmares left by a dying populace. As the Scions continued to explore, these fragments began to take shape in their heads, and when they crossed into the city’s center the nightmares began.

Each Scion fell to their knees in a pain induced fugue, and in their mind’s eye they watched the city die.

In a great amphitheater, the city’s political class began to scream and shout as a convulsing rift in the center of the great room tore through existence. The people of this city had fled Carcosa to escape Hastur, but even here on Earth they were not free of him. His worshipers had followed and waited till this night to return the traitors and Earth to Hastur.

The support pillars circling the rift glowed with the sigil of the Yellow King. Madness seemed to leak from the rift to corrupt the minds of everyone present. Friends turned on each other and blood flowed as arteries opened. But not all fell, one man in this dream reached for the Sigil of Hastur and etched an Elder Sign onto the pillar with his own blood. The Yellow King’s sigil darkened and the portal ebbed.

Several other pillars dimmed as more people drew Elder Signs. The portal closed but the damage was done. The madness of Hastur now permeated the city, and the city died a slow death as the people turned on each other.

The vision ended and the Scions’ senses returned when the ground convulsed around them and tore open to release two terrible, indescribable things vaster than any subway train — shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and un-forming as pustules of greenish light all over the black masses.

They had seen something like this before in New York while investigating several relics in the possession of Lloyds of America, Shoggoths. Lúcás, Quin, and Abel decide to hold the monsters off while Jaime and Ayuko go to the amphitheater, revealed in the group vision, to fight Hastur.

The fight with the Shoggoths is brutal. The creatures shrug off most of the Scions’ attacks with ease, and few of the Scions’ attacks are capable of harming the monster enough to stop them.

The Shoggoths’ moves are simple and brutal. They hit the players like a freight train. Each blow from the creatures shatters the land and brings the Scions to their knees.

Abel and Quin rain blow after blow on the amalgams of blackened flesh and Lúcás unleashes his spear.
It’s not enough.

The Shoggoths combine into one massive construct of flesh and the Scions find their strikes do less and less damage to the beast.

Badly injured and unwilling to watch his friends die, Lúcás activates his trump card, RíasTrad. The power transforms his body into an inhuman beast of jutting bone and writhing flesh. There is no reasoning with Lúcás now, his mind is shattered and devoted only to violence.

Abel and Quin use the distraction caused by their berserker friend to strike hard against the combined Shoggoth form. The Shoggoth staggers but remains unbowed.

The battle drags on and unless something changes the players will lose. Even in his madness Lúcás knows this and utilizes his most powerful attack: Gáe Bolg and the soaring spear that strikes with death.

Taking to the sky, Lúcás rears back his spear and fills it with all of his soul. Live or die, this spear now possess every ounce of his strength and conviction and will break the Shoggoth.

The spear pierces the air like a missile, friction from its launch burns a trail to Earth. A crack of thunder trails the strike and the world turns blood red as the Gods’ judgement sunders the monsters.

The Shoggoth dies and Lúcás returns to normal. The attack has drained him of everything and burned a part of his soul away. He is weaker for it, but his friends still live and a monster dies.

One fight is over but another fight remains.

The mission of sealing Hastur rests with Ayuko and Jaime as they reach the amphitheater to confront the warp storm tearing into reality and drawing Hastur to Earth. Guarding the portal is the great God Tsathoggua, a froggish amalgam of flesh and teeth and servant of Hastur.

Surrounding them all are six pillars glowing with the sigil of the Yellow King.

Just as in the dream, the pillars must be marked with the Elder Sign. Doing so will seal Hastur from Earth and prevent his return. Jaime and Ayuko know what has to be done and set about their task of cleansing the area.

The battle is quick and fierce. Tsathoggua is powerful and near invincible but he is uncreative and unadaptable.

Ayuko makes it to the first pillar and quickly carves the Elder Sign into it. Jaime too quickly marks a pillar.

Tsathoggua strikes hard at the two, which forces the Scions back and into cover. Jaime uses his speed and intellect to distract the beast. For a time it works, and Ayuko marks another pillar, but Jaime is eventually caught by the God’s tongue and drawn into its stomach.

Inside its stomach, Jaime burns but begins his work of destroying the beast from within. Tsathoggua is already defeated. He just doesn’t know that yet.

For several rounds Jaime and the frog God wrestle. Tsathoggua tries desperately to expel Jaime from his belly as Jaime begins punching and tearing the frog from the inside.

All the while Ayuko continues her work of sealing the pillars.

Once Jaime was inside there was nothing the God could do to prevent Jaime from killing him. The near indestructible God is just as fragile internally as any creature.

All but dead, the God expels Jaime from his gullet. Just in time for the monster to see the rest of Jaime and Ayuko’s friends arrive from their battle with the Shoggoth.

Jaime picks himself off the ground and turns to see the battered form of Lúcás and fears the worst, but is awarded with a faint smile from his mentor. To his surprise, Lúcás tosses his spear, Gáe Assail, to the boy and tells him to use it. He does and the frog king dies with a whimper. The spear firmly rests in the God’s face.

The Scion band makes their way to the last pillar and etch the Elder Sign on it. The pillar darkens and closes. Wailing can be heard as Hastur is sealed from Earth … for now. The final battle ends with little fanfare.

They leave the area and a few hours later they reach the remnants of the Rondon expedition. The same forces the players ran past to get to Hastur ambushed Rondon and Garvey’s men. They won the battle but the cost was high. Half the military personnel died in the ambush, including six of Garvey’s men.

The party makes their way back home together. To close the case Ayuko crafted a cover story for the American government and World Health Organization. The virus was too virulent and could not be stopped so a firebombing was ordered to wash the virus from the earth at its source.

The last thing the party saw of the ancient city was the red glow of a world on fire as jets fly overhead.

Rondon got his answer in the end. The mission was worth it. His men had died for something worthy of their lives.

The players returned home in success. Abel was congratulated by the CIA for destroying the NARCO guerilla forces and an open work invitation to the CIA was extended to him and the other Scions. Lloyds was equally happy with the outcome and rewarded the players according to their agreement.

Another arc has come to an end on the Scion’s journey to Godhood. It was a long road and felt at times impossible, but they are victorious.

What the future holds is not yet known but actions always have consequences.

So ends story 2: The River of Doubt

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OrneryAmerican

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