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Seattle is a city where every resident thinks it would be a better place if half of the people in it stopped existing. Which half? Now that is something no one can agree on, and that is why the city has so many grudges that need settling. This type of anger isn’t the thing that goes off half-cocked, it’s the kind that simmers slowly, building up and making elaborate plans while taking every precaution to avoid tipping anyone off before its time. That’s the way things are in the Seattle that lurks in darkness, the deep currents that flow underneath and drive the city the average citizen knows, only rarely seeping up to the surface.

The vampires are the most numerous of the nightfolk in Seattle, and have the most elaborate history and society in the area. The Camarilla’s grip is tight, controlling most of the region, but not without areas of weakness. Challenges are mounting from the rebellious Anarchs of Seattle proper and the growing, violent bands of the Sabbat in Renton, in addition to the smaller factions with their own agendas. The local Werewolf packs are seeing a growing rift between the urban dwellers among them and those who hide in the wilds surrounding the city, rejecting the trappings of modern civilization. The aerospace and tech industries have given the Technocracy a strong powerbase in their war against the mages of the Traditions, who struggle to survive and hide in a city they see changing around them. All of this is inseparable, woven together like a grand tapestry. Just like a tapestry, all it takes to unravel is for someone fed up with it all to find one thread and never stop pulling. No one knows who that person will be. No one knows what Seattle will look like after them.
Collab featuring @Ezekiel, @Hellion and Tanderbolt


With the noise suppression system active the helicopter was practically silent, floating through the sky like it was suspended on invisible strings. It flew in and out of the clouds of smoke, punching holes through them that shifted and filled in as it passed. Grace and Julie spent the time looking at the screens in the cockpit, reading through chemical analysis of the smoke and the records of energy signatures detected. They were mundane, extremely mundane, enough to rule out suspects like the Verbena and the Nephandi, the speed with which the fire had spread indicated it wasn’t natural, but there was nothing else they could discern about it. Julie had started to drum he fingers on the console to numb the boredom, until Grace started to speak

“Perhaps there is something we can do besides survey the damage.”

“I thought we weren’t supposed to get involved” Julie said

“We shouldn’t get involved just because some release of chemicals inside the brain triggers a million year old instinct for empathy. We have more sophisticated tools to guide us, including an algorithm appropriate for this situation. It’s running right now, and will tell us where our efforts have the most impact.”

“How does it do that?”

“It’s too complicated for us to understand, if it stayed within the bounds of human cognition it would never be able to perform as well as it does. What we need to know is its accuracy, which was around the four sigma mark last time it was tested.”

The algorithm told them to focus on one area near the hills, close to the edge where the slope got too steep for dense development. Grace turned on the helicopter's searchlight and swept the area, flittering rapidly from point to point.

As the light from the flare began to trail and die, Henry barely surpressed the urge to swear loudly. He had no particular feelings against such, but remaining calm would likely assist in his efforts to keep a certain Kindred from giving in to the curse of her blood. His concerns were but to rest a moment later when a spotlight blazed into life in the night sky, from a point he was very much sure a helicopter hadn't occuped a moment before, or the noise would have been rather clear. With the flare gun spent, all he could do was wave, atop the landing pad as they were all ready. For a moment he considered uncovering Nicole, but decided it probably wasn't the strangest thing anyone might do with a fire racing towards them.

With the attention of the rescue craft hopefully drawn, his focus moved back to the onrushing fire, peering into the darkness that lay between the scouring motes of light. His expression pulled into a frown, it wasn't clear, even for him, but he certinly felt like he had percieved larger shapes moving among the darkness, pressing just behind, and somehow within, the approaching wall of fire.

"Best land soon..." He muttered to himself, feeling the rush of air begin to play across his back from the closing distance of the helicopter.

Nicole had been in many life-threatening situations as a Los Angeles police officer, from being caught up in the crossfire of city block rival gang wars, to highspeed car chases on the Interstate. And while such cases could never be forgotten, it seemed as though her experiences as one being reborn into a supernatural were rought with nightmarish scenarios. This time around had been no different, and she felt as helpless as a child.

All the woman knew about the escalating emergency was that there had a been a large fire, which apparently was heading toward the Sunset. The thick comforter from the hotel room -throat over her entire body and doused with water by Henry- had cut her off from most of her surroundings, leaving only sound and scent to guide her anxious mind. The sounds of screams, the scent of burning timber, and the rising feeling of dread all seemed to hit her at once.

What was this about? If she'd had a living heart, it would most certainly be pumping at an extreme rate. But what had replaced it was a fear unknown, and flashes of memories she couldn't understand. Memories that were not her own, but perhaps...

Her thoughts were cut off by the sound of the rotary engine on what sounded like a helicopter hovering overhead. She wanted to say something. Anything. But the right words wouldn't surface. Nicole simply knelt down, keeping her body covered as instructed, and putting as much faith as could be mustered into the one known as Henry Locke.

The flare was exactly the kind of signal Grace had been looking for. It came from the roof of a building that she had visited before, but Sunset was not a place she knew well or was fond of. The searchlight panned over the roof for a quick inspection, seeing one figure standing up and another indistinct one beside him. No need to sift through a crowd to find who to evacuate. More lights on the helicopter turned on as it pivoted and began its approach to land. These were not so much for illuminating the surrounding as letting people know where not to stand.

As it descended lower the force of the rotors began to buffet the building, blowing dust and smoke particles around the rooftop. Unlike the skyscrapers downtown, landing on this narrow rooftop was a tricky matter. Thanks to computer assistance and focusing her attention to level bordering on a trance, Grace was able to guide the helicopter down to the roof. The rotors themselves never stopped moving, just in case they needed to make a hasty exit, but once the helicopter was resting solidly on its landing gear, it’s pitch black, unmarked airframe illuminated by the glow coming from the distance, the door to the passenger compartment opened. Behind the darkened windows of the cockpit, Grace spoke over the loudspeaker. “Hello. Are you in need of evacuation?”

"Ticket for one please, conductor." Henry spoke with more humour than he felt, guiding Nicole over to the vehicle, which couldn't be any more 'Men-In-Black' if it tried. He made sure to keep her turned away from the fire as best he could, but it likely wouldn't be long before it would become impossible to do so. "Most of everyone else has got out of here, but I'll attend to that, if you can get her safe, then call, or have her call, this number." Henry waggled a simplistic business card, before slotting it, somewhat condescendingly, into one of the prominent folds of the blanket held over Nicole, assisting her up as best she could, when it became evident these new arrivals weren't about to just lure them in to blast them away. "If there's a matter of payment, the lady on the other end will square that away." He spoke hurridly, less careful than he would like to be with someone who he'd promised to keep safe, but he could feel the tension building. Something beyond the fire was rushing towards them, and he wanted them all gone before it struck.

Henry Locke took a few steps back from the craft, giving it room to lift away without fear of blasting him back, before the roof itself seemed to shudder. It wasn't the fire, that was still a fair few minutes from reaching the structure. Something had bounded out of the darkness, leaping over the flames to land atop the roof on the otherside of the rooftop lounge. It's form was huge, still obscured by darkness, but the growl building in its throat gave it away to those who had experienced one before.

"Ah...fuck my life." He spoke with a resigned sigh, swinging his long bag to the ground, pulling the rifle within as his spatial awareness caught sight of other such shapes prowling closer in the darkness below. "Get in the air!" He called back to the darkened vehicle behind him, before aiming the sights of his weapon across to the Garou as it prepared to lunge.

"Chew on this, you jumped up poodle."

The scent and sound of everything around her swirled into a cacophony of elements she couldn't decipher in her mind, as the literal shroud of darkness kept her safe -allegedly- from the external terrors. Shit that could bring a fledgling vampire to the bring of destroying oneself...or others. She had heard enough about it from Eva during their time together. It was the Frenzy, that wild and untamed creature luring just under the skin, ready to strike at a moments notice if it wasn't for the immense willpower Kindred had to grasp in order to maintain their cover.

Nicole did what she had to do in order to keep the beast at bay, and lucky for her, anxiety of the unknown seemed to be the only real issue at the moment. Not seeing the doom-to-come helped to an extent, but as Henry continued ushering her toward the helicopter entry, she knew there was precious little time before the ugly would emerge.

The door shut automatically as Nicole got on board, leaving the passenger compartment dark inside. Grace waited until the helicopter was off the ground and several hundred feet clear of the building before she left pilot seat. From what she could see was happening on the rooftop, it looked like they had left just in time. The helicopter continued on its path, autopilot did a decent job of taking them towards an uncrowded part of the airspace and maintaining a holding pattern. If anything more difficult came up, Grace was still plugged in to take care of it.

Grace sat still in a seat facing whoever was underneath that hotel comforter. She said nothing, just watching and waiting for her passenger to reveal herself. As far as she knew there was nothing imminently dangerous aboard, yet there were few other details she could tell. A business card that had fallen to the floor when boarding provided a hint, and Grace studied the details, trying to cross-reference and see if it was a familiar design. Behind her ever-present sunglasses, Grace was staring so intently one wondered if she was trying to burn a hole through the floor with vision alone.

Into the heart of chopper, a new scent was revealed. Her surroundings seemed newer, sterile even, as though walking into a big-box electronics store and being assaulted by the smell of technology. Nicole sighed, and slid the comforter off enough to peek her head out, before sliding the rest off as it fell in the seat next to her. She said nothing for a few moments, rubbing the dark stubble on the top of her shaven head, and allowing her eyes to dart around the small space until they fell onto the mysterious woman with the dark shades. The Gangrel was no empath, at least not from any supernatural standpoint, but she didn't get as uneasy a feeling from the woman across from her as one would think.

"So..." She bit lightly on the side of her lip. "Who're you?"

Sure, it was a direct question and part of her felt the slight sense of guilt for not even thanking her "savior" for the quick escape, but her mind continued to race enough that perhaps gratitude would need to wait. She needed answers. It sucked being in the dark.

After seeing Nicole, Grace searched her memories. She had seen her, but they hadn't interacted. The readings of the vital signs showed that Nicole had undergone some profound changes. While looking to see if there was more, Grace said

"Someone you've met before, back when you still had a normal heartbeat. I gave counterterrorism briefing at your precinct. I believe you were in the back, seldom looking at the presentation. You may not remember me, I have a way of making myself particularly unmemorable."

The Gangrel arched an inquisitive eyebrow, silent for a moment while pondering the other's words. "Ah, unfortunately I don't remember you, but there have also been countless meetings and presentations." She allowed a slight snicker, as though that were about the only humorous moment that evening.

"Anyway." Nicole sighed. "I-uh, probably should thank you for the pick up." She leaned her head against the leather seat. "So yeah. Thanks." The woman smiled only slightly, closing her eyes if only for a brief moment. "Although I wish I knew just what the fuck was going on in this city."

Grace looked down and reach for the floor, picking up the plain looking piece of cardstock by Nicole. With an even tone in her voice, she said
"Don't we all. That is a large question, I would like to focus on something smaller in scope"

She held the card up with her outstretched hand and said

"Who this business card belongs to..."

On a night like this the normal hum of electronic communications in Los Angeles was cluttered with violent and chaotic bursts of terror. It was easy to witness this from the basement of the switching station, 27 stories of wiring and interconnections, a great river of data just waiting for someone to drink from it. In Grace’s case the noise interrupted the normal lessons she was trying to teach Julie, an overwhelming force she tuned out while sampling the datastream. All of the circuits were at their maximum, but alternate channels let Grace get the calls she needed to make through. News of the fire was spreading fast, and with her subordinate in tow Grace headed out of the basement and to the street outside.

They walked to the skyscraper at the end of the block, a mass of steel, glass and the basic geometric forms of the international style. Grace’s card got them past security and through the white marble lobby, completely deserted except for security guards that time of night. Once they made it to bank of elevators at the back, Grace began to talk.
“It’s almost calming to have something in the present to deal with, a break from unlimited worries of the future.”

Julie answered “Very true. My father used to wake us up in the middle of the night and time how long it took us to get to the fallout shelter. He kept rankings of me and all of my siblings, telling us which of us would make and which of us wouldn’t when the bombs fell. I spent so much time worrying about that it felt weird when the government was at our door, because it was one of the only times that something else was on my mind.”

Julie bit her lip, and then said “If I’m slowing you down, I can do something else. Just tell me how I can help, I know it’s a weird night and I don’t want to be burden”

Grace said “It’s fine, this is an opportunity for some direct experience. If it wasn’t for the fire I’d probably be over at JPL or Vandenberg doing readiness checks right now because that’s where I always end up when something far away makes the high command nervous.”
After the elevator there were stairs to climb, up to the rooftop, above the massive glowing Deloitte sign.

Julie asked “Where are we going?”

“The Helipad.” Grace said.

“There’s a helipad on this building?”

“Forty years ago one of us snuck a line in the fire code that required helipads on top of all the skyscrapers in the city. That’s proven to be useful to us, it may make the buildings look boxier but that is the least of our concerns. So much of this city’s history has been shaped by the hands of someone who fancies themselves an aesthete I’m surprised we were able to slip it in the first place.”

One flight of metal stairs brought them to the helipad where their vehicle was waiting for them It was painted pitch black, and looked close but not identical to civilian models, having dozen of modifications to harden it against electronic warfare, give it a suite of stealth technologies and other technocracy additions. Near silent and invisible to conventional radar, the usual methods of helicopter detection would write it off as no more than an urban myth while it flew through the air. Despite its aptitude for evading normal technology, the files were had a laundry list of incidents where their enemies had managed to use exotic means to spot them, ranging from dowsing rods to divine revelations, conjured spirits and jury rigged tv antennas, a frustrating reminder of the variety of reality deviant threats they faced.

The pilot’s seat was empty until Grace got in. She fished around for a thin cable and plugged it into a socket in the back of her head, giving her full access to the helicopter’s systems. Julie talked as she found her place in the co-pilot chair “I didn’t know we still used these. I thought we went all drone.”

Grace said “We keep a few of these around just in case. Truth be told this could be done with them, but I believe some firsthand experience would help you.” The aircraft rose off the ground with so little sound and a smoothness that made it look like it was being pull into the air by invisible strings. They gained altitude and kept a low flight pattern, just above the rooftops of the skyscrapers as they headed towards the fire in the hills.

The orange glow of the fire filled the sky. Pillars of smoke rose in the Hollywood Hills, a beacon for where they were going. The helicopter glided above the streets, seeing the cars and streetlights like they little shining specks in a tight grid pattern. Grace flew it without lights, relying on the GPS, IR, inertial guidance, and other means to find her way. With all of the data feeding in through the port in the back of her head, she didn’t even need to open her eyes to guide it.

In just a few moments they were flying towards the cloud of smoke. Julie was quiet, absorbing it all and hearing the noise of dozens of fire engines below. Grace said

“You’ll have to address this tomorrow, you know. It’s topical.”

Julie said “Yeah. What do I say? I can’t talk about fire science the whole time.”

“Do what you always do, explain, but do it in a way that will make them feel safe, let them know we have a system and it’s in control.”

“And then what?”

“Then you offer our solution. You give them something new for them to support. A new government office, a new forest management practice or investment in the electrical grid; I’ll have a menu of policies for you in the morning. This is how we get them on our side. Fear drives people, because it’s something they can’t ignore, so offer them a choice between our safe options and only darkness outside it.”
They were flying low to get images of the site of the fire and the smoke was all around. Grace wasn’t bothered thanks to her own enhancements, but when Julie started to cough from it, she turned on the filters to spare her. After she could be breathe clearly, Julie said

“Are we going to try and put it out?”

Grace said “That’s what the fire department is for.”

“But we can help”

“We help by making institutions like fire departments, like intelligence agencies, corporations. If we didn’t trust them then we wouldn’t have invested in them.”

“It’s hard to ignore people being burnt alive down there.”

“It’s what we must do. It’s a tragedy, but not a new one. How many billions died in misery before them, and how many more would’ve if not for our work? At the end of the day we’ll count up the damage, but it will be so that we can move forward. Once this fire is out there’ll be federal redevelopment projects, new policies to push on the politicians, so much work to be done. You have to see the big picture.”

“What you’re saying is that we can’t save everyone”

“Not yet. But some day, we’ll be able to. We have to believe in the plan, believe in the goal, because that is what makes this all worthwhile.”

The helicopter continued on its route, circling in the dark of the night and the light of the flames below, passing over the site of the Sunset Lounge.

A normal morning on the job

The first thing Nobuhiko Ogasawara did after getting out of bed that morning was go to the fridge and fish around for a turmeric and ginger concoction that had always served him well as a hangover cure. He’d been out late last night because a friend that worked as a foreign correspondent in New York was in town, a rare occasion. He always had stories to tell, and never wanted to go home until he’d told them all; there were a lot of them by this point. Nobu had heard most of them, but he sat through it anyway out of politeness, even though he spent most of the night counting just how many of those stories featured Italian Restaurants as a setting.

Most of the time when he’d gotten a raise Nobu he’d spent the extra money on his dwelling place. He preferred to be closer to work even if it meant living in a small space, but that was something that wasn’t a problem for him because he lived alone, never really managing to hold a relationship together for long enough to change that. At this point his condo was only a fifteen minute walk from the office, invaluable for those times when he stayed at the office or at the bar later than the trains ran. It wasn’t large, but unlike his last place it had a kitchen big enough to do some actual cooking in, which Nobu used to decompress and get work off his mind when he could.

Nobu had his tablet propped up on the table while he ate breakfast. A recording of the AmeriTel annual keynote was playing. All employees were encouraged to watch it, but because it happened on American time, Japanese employees were stuck with a recording that few would find time to sit through. The sheer number of times they mentioned 5G made him nauseous, even the part about the upcoming movies from their movie division managed to find a way to incorporate it. Watching made him realize just how big it all was, the whole book and magazine division didn’t even get a full two minutes in the presentation. The only other thing that caught his attention was the segment about their streaming service, bragging about the goldmine of intellectual properties that had the rights to develop. They talked about work on a live-action adaptation Martial Journey, a big win for the types of people that liked to talk about corporate synergies, and sure to be a massive headache for all the creative talent involved.

He took the bus to work that morning even though it was slower than walking. This way gave him the benefit of checking the emails during his commute. It was the usual stuff, mixed in with some amusing emails that were meant for accounts payable but CC’d him because they thought it’d get them to pay up faster. That trick never worked. One email was marked high priority, and it had a CC line full of names that Nobu only knew from big conference calls and looking at the org chart, people with titles like Global VP of Intellectual Property Development and Senior VP of Strategic Marketing. He couldn’t tell who was the most important, but he knew that when they asked him for something it was best to get to it as soon as possible. That task went to the top of his todo list that day. Everything else, like answering that email from the marketing department asking what an isekai was, was secondary.

Nobu walked into the double doors of the office a few minutes before nine and said hello to the secretary. He made one circuit of the desks in the main area before sitting down in his office. Nobu had a little block of time before the morning editorial meeting, which he used to fire off a short email to the entire creative department.

“Dear Authors,

Some executives who can’t be arsed to pick up a magazine or do a cursory google search want to know more about what we publish. They’ve asked us to give them a summary of our currently running series, their premises, and current and future merchandising/licensing opportunities for each of them. Presumably, they’re going to use this to leverage their strategic advantages synergistically, or whatever euphemism they’re using for trying to make a load of money. Anyway, if you want to do your own writeup instead of leaving in the hands the editorial team to squeeze in between meetings, please email it to the editorial mailing list by the end of the day. Who knows, maybe if something you write catches their eye you could be in for a nice windfall if you sign a deal with them.”

Nobu took a sip from his green tea and wondered what the next interruption would be, maybe he could make it all the way to the editorial meeting without anything coming up.

@Yankee@hatakekuro@c3p-0hAll you guys are approved. Feel freed to add them to character tab whenever.



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Nobuhiko "Nobu" Ogasawara | 60 | Editor in Chief at Shonen Spirit
Tell Me About Yourself
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It takes a lot to get Nobuhiko to talk or react. He's a subtle man and wears a shell of grumpiness most of the time, a feeling of resignation that stops much from affecting him decently. He's polite when he has to be, blunt when he can be, but he isn't pushy from the outset. He has a long fuse but the few times it's ran out his temper has been described as explosive. All of this has left him with a few solid friends and a string of unhappy relationships, but even those who don't get along with him admit he sticks to his convictions. When he really trusts someone he's willing to open up a little and talk about both frivolus and deep subjects, but to get him in that mode you've either got to be lucky or a good friend of his.
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Work History
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Nobuhiko's first work in the publishing world came when he was in college, studying literature. He and his friend Takashi were broke and fighting off a hangover when they got an idea for how to make some extra cash. Taking cues from cheap pulp novels and alternating chapters, together they wrote a book called Isao the Tiger, a simple action story about a former terrorist turned hired killer. It got published and did well enough that the publisher asked for a sequel. Takashi and Nobuhiko worked on a few more until they graduated, thorooughly sick of churning out potboilers by that point. While Takashi tried to put that behind him and become a serious artist, Nobu just wanted a steady paycheck. His grades weren't very impressive but he had enough rapport with Torishima Publications that found a spot for him as a junior editor at a manga magazine. He worked on some of the seinen titles where he got a reputation for keeping the authors on schedule and helping them with longterm plotting. After a good run there, he arrived at a dilemma. He'd been doing good so far, but Torishima's seinen magazines were a mess and staying with them for too long could be a career killer. The staff at Shonen Spirit reached out to him after hearing good things and Nobuhiko took them up on the offer. He made splash there because two thing immediately became apparent, the first was that he never minced words, and the second was that no one could figure out if he even liked Shonen manga. He rode the wave of more mature titles and was part of the editorial team during the glory days of the 90s, editing several of their big hits. Nobuhiko's reputation is more of a turnaround artist, helping struggling series, rather than someone who has an eye for the next monster hit. He stayed on into the 2000s, rising to the position of deputy editor and holding that for several years. The declinging sales and the AmeriTel buyout led to a very messy process of finding the next Editor in Chief of Shonen Spirit in the late 2010s, but the job eventually fell to Nobuhiko because he was seen as a safe bet. All of his peers who were better at playing office politics had managed to find their ways into other, more prestigious roles within the corporate goliath, sometimes leaving him feeling as though he is the captain of a ship that might not be sea-worthy. So far he's kept a conservative hand on things, but that may be changing soon.

References
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