This is for everyone to add any info/clues/ideas for the Texas Hold’em game, to make it easier to find all the information. Something I didn’t do in my initial summary but that I suggest going forward: include the post number with the text.

Original briefing with our Johnson

Post 9954: first job post from Johnson
“Sorry about that, but I’m a bit old fashioned where tech is concerned. Never got the hang of AROs and the like.
Right, you probably wonder by now what the hell this asshole gringo wants from you, is this worth my time and will I get sick if I touch this moldy polyester blanket.
The answers to that my friends are: This, yes and probably, better wash your hands just to be safe.

You see, San Angeles on the one side and San Antonio on the other side of the border are a connected through a pretty harmonious bond of mutual smuggling. Cops on both sides are pretty open to bribes and all in all, the people of the annexed territories like to keep in touch with their brethren on the other side of the once great state of Texas.
This thing…” He points at the projection, “is called a sigillum mundi or world seal. And since it doesn’t look like one of those cute water loving mamals you can guess it’s the other kind of seal. And it’s magical – an artifact to be precise.

Long story short, I want to have it, a bunch of Jaguars want it to. There masters want the thing destroyed, I want it kept intact to pay a debt.

My sources tell me that the thing has recently been unearthed this side of the border and it’s very likely you’ll have to move fast to stop it from falling into the hands of a certain group of blood mages.

Any questions so far?”

then in 9957:
“Good questions. This basketball sized representation is 1:1, made of solid obsidian, so heavy enough to be a burden but not heavy enough to not be portable by a fit person.
It was dug up at a river bank close to Fort McKavett about a month ago. People first thought it was a cannon ball – until an aware achaeologist came by and noticed the aura. He stole it and hid it somewhere. When he tried to sell it to my source they were interrupted by a bunch of vampires. In the ensuing firefight the thieving archaeologist passed away without being able to tell anyone where he hid the thing.
Personally I think he was too greedy and contacted a lot more people about his find than was strictly good for him.
Hid body is currently in the local city morgue – with all his belongings.

No, not as far as I know: It’s made from solid stone and magical to boot. It would take some very serious effort to turn it to dust.
Now, you have the advantage of not having to wait for dusk to go out and about, but since it’s fairly early in the year, that’s not all that much of an advantage.”

and more in post 9971__
“His name is… was Dr. Henry Walton and he died aproximately 36 hours ago. Vamps that ambushed him stole the wrong container.” Johnny pushed a button and the slightly blurry 2d image of a warehouse appeared, showing two very white men with red eyes and very long fangs attacking a slightly overweight, pasty, mid-40ies looking man wearing a terribly tasteless cardigan jacket, ripping from his hand a pilot brief case
“They stole a case full of the man’s dirty laundry, my source told me. He wore a button cam to the meeting, but the cheap sensor cam didn’t catch anything useful beyond that picture.”
He turned to Becky: “The world seal is supposed to act like some kind of mana void – but not in the negative way: It acts like a damper on both positive and negative mana levels, while also causing feedback effects on active spellcasting. No idea if that is actually true for this artifact.
As for credsticks: Sure, catch.”
With amazing agility he tossed in just one motion a credstick both at Becky and Preston.
“In the guitar case is the rest of my deposit for you. I should have more until you find the world seal. You may also keep the money the good Dr. carried on his person. By the way, that’s why I had to play poker in the first place as all my liquid funds had gone to the doc’s credstick.”

The quick data search didn’t unearth anything useful with the search terms “world” “seal” and “artifact”.

and finally in 9992
The Johnson shrugged: “For one thing my commcode: 444-938279K-zzz
Rolls easy from the tongue, doesn’t it. The objective is to find the thing and bring it to me. I get the ball you a bunch of credsticks.
Beyond that, I’m probably more clueless than you. Details like that aren’t my forte – that’s why I hired specialists like you – that and the fact that you were the closest bona fide runner I could find at so short a notice.”

To Becky he said: “Predictable isn’t the right word. As I said there is supposed to be a feedback, that increases the chances for something to go wrong catastrophically with active magic. “

To Inchante he replied: “You’ll have to ask my source that. His name is Garry Rabinowitz, a local fixer. He was the one to get in contact with the Doc and paving the way for this business opportunity. What I know is that Lonestar arrived very quickly after the attack.
If you want to talk to Garry personally, you can try the Bermuda Arcades. He usually hangs around there, hitting on teens, the creepy fragger.”

but in 10019 he adds:
I could offer you all some disposable transportations. I have a guy that mods motorbikes for coyotes. He produces Maze Runners and Razorbacks.
He could tune up your transports as well.”

Investigation of the dead doc

Early matrix search results in post 10019
The piece wasn’t long, but revealed that Lonestar had found him in an abandoned warehouse, apparently attacked by wild animals. The star was asking for witnesses, but the formulation led to believe that this was more of a standard addition then a genuine request for help from the population. There was a short mention that Walton was an archaeologist and had no next of kin.
The article was finished off with a warning to watch out during the night for wild dogs and chupacabras.
Other than that there was a three year old article written by Walton for a science magazine on arcano-archaeology and the use of ritual magic to uncover echoes of civilizations past. All in all he didn’t look like the kind of guy with a particularly active social life.

Morgue file on Walton’s corpse post 10172
Preston eventually managed to copy the file on Walton.
It contained various irrelevant data points, like the dead man’s weight and average fitness (normal and good for his age), his last meal (home cooked, filled jalapenos with real goat cheese and ice tea sweetened with sugar beet syrup), but also some interesting stuff:
He hadn’t bled to death. His wounds were superficial. Instead he likely had suffered a heart attack after sustaining a badly bleeding skalp wound. That had been caused most likely by a long fang, although DNA testing had been inconclusive. He showed only very light defensive wounds, but without useful traces on or under his finger nails.
The man had carried armored clothing, a midrange commlink with a trode net as well as an old compass. Other than that, his pockets were empty.
The file noted, that his possessions were still at the morgue, waiting for the sheriffs department to send someone to collect them for evidence now that they had been examined.

From the Morgue Doctor post 10246
“I… Ok, yes, there are signs that there has been a significant loss of holistic cohesion according to our hermetic consultant and we didn’t find any implants or signs of removed implants that could explain that. He might have been a survivor of a previous HMHVV victim’s attack and now been attacked a second time. According to his SIN he had a very low magic talent – barely enough to let him perceive the astral. It is possible that he originally was a full mage, but lost most of his talent that way.
But obviously, that is pure speculation and has nothing to do with the case on hand.
There are chupacabras out there who can attack people to drain blood and establish a sympathetic link to weaken the holistic cohesion field in the victim to strengthen their own – or in layman’s terms, drain their essence.
But we couldn’t retrieve any DNA from the wound, so that too is purely speculation.
A sudden heart failure is the cause of death – what triggered it can’t be said for certain. An intense fear response is just as possible as a congenital defect.”

From Walton’s commlink (post 10179)
Preston found no data bombs but some surprisingly boring and detailed research files. Flipping through the dates he got the exact place where Walton had found the World Seal and his assessment that the thing was likely about 10.000 years old, so easily an artifact from the 4th age.
According to those notes, the thing had been taken down along the Mississippi, likely stolen from some ancient indian burial grounds.
The name of the device was what he had pieced together from the glyphs upon the ball.
He did mention that he constructed a special shielded case with living awakened bacteria, that would ward the object from scrying and that he bought a helper drone just to get it into the back of his Gopher.
The Artifact file contained a description not of the world seal, but of the compass. It seemed that Walton had dabbled in Alchemy as well and created a device that could find the world seal if you were within a 100m of it – despite the shielding.

more from the link post 10353
Preston found no data bombs but some surprisingly boring and detailed research files. Flipping through the dates he got the exact place where Walton had found the World Seal and his assessment that the thing was likely about 10.000 years old, so easily an artifact from the 4th age.
According to those notes, the thing had been taken down along the Mississippi, likely stolen from some ancient indian burial grounds.
The name of the device was what he had pieced together from the glyphs upon the ball.
He did mention that he constructed a special shielded case with living awakened bacteria, that would ward the object from scrying and that he bought a helper drone just to get it into the back of his Gopher.

The Artifact file contained a description not of the world seal, but of the compass. It seemed that Walton had dabbled in Alchemy as well and created a device that could find the world seal if you were within a 100m of it – despite the shielding.

post 10254
Al realized at once that the good Dr. had clearly wanted to include all this information in her report. And yet there seemed to be some pressure on her to keep that info out of it. The line about Chupacabras is clearly part of some official statement that she doesn’t believe herself.

post 10269
The doctor is visibly shaken by Preston’s one-two punch and stammers: “Please… I just told you that informally since you have to deal with those nasty critters. Please, I could lose my job if any rumors about vamp… I mean if any rumors about infected attacks got out. Lonestar is very concerned about not causing a panic in the population. If you really want to follow this, you should talk to Officer Max Irons. He was the one who found the body. Just don’t mention my name. Please.”

post 10279
“Look, the only reason I said anything is that you are putting yourself in harms way with those creatures. It doesn’t help anyone if you square of against Commander Able about something like that.”

post 10289
“It’s not like it’s an epidemic or something. There were a few other cases… suspicious cases I mean. About two months ago and one month ago. But the bodies were to damaged to be sure of anything and they were filed as critter attacks by Lonestar without asking for saliva DNA checks. All in all more sloppy police work than manipulation of evidence I’d say. And no, there wasn’t a full moon, I checked. Not that that is saying anything. Werewolves are dangerous even at new moon.”


Al’s findings at the warehouse post 10137
The warehouse was a mess – lot’s of people had trampled through, including an SAR drone. No-one had bothered locking down the site and so Al had no trouble to identify the place were Walton had died. Looking around, he spoted the place where the image had been taken. Clear as day, there were a bunch of heavy footprints in a nearby puddle of dirt next to a pile of old boxes. Comparing the picture, Al was able to determine from which direction the vamps likely had come. It seemed like they had dropped from the rafters, but then left out the north side – the same side their victim likely entered if you assumed Garry had come from the south entrance and they met here when they spotted each other.
Working backwards from there, and with a bit of climbing, Al was able to trace the vamp’s track to a spot just outside the building. Tire tracks that belonged (according to a quick matrix search) to a Rover showed where the vamps had likely parked. Looking around, Al found a piece of cloth, that at first looked indeed like soiled underware. But when he picked it up, it was instead a piece of heavy linen, smelling musty and really old. Unfolding it, showed that it was actually some kind of really old flag with indecipherable writing on it. To his untrained eye they looked slightly hieroglyphic.
Looking around a bit more, Al found a rented Americar parked around the corner. It’s ARO told everyone interested, that it still was rented for another 2 hours and would be available immediately afterwards.

And following up on the ‘flag’ Al found, in post 10153
The search for the Kekiwin stuff would take quite a while and likely require a visit to a few university hosts – namely one of the University of Ontario.
Anishinaabeg refers to a large group of Native American tribes from the UCAS, untypical for this region.

post 10179
Al had finally scrolled through several hours worth of surveillance footage from a crappy camera sensor across the warehouse. Unfortunately he Couldn’t see the vamps when they parked the Rover (Ha, right again). But he caught a frame of two shadowy figures holding hands and flying upwards and out of the limited angle of the camera. Their clothes were – as far as he could tell, identical to those from the photo Johnny had shown them. The numberplate of the Rover was probably no more genuine than the one on his Gaz.
A few minutes later the two figures came running from the warehouse, trailing an open carry case, trailing the piece of cloth that he had found.
Interestingly, the car just vanished form one frame to the other. Either someone had edited the feed, or their car had turned invisible, because afterwards he could only see a Lone Star cruiser pass through the frame. After that there was no more interesting stuff to be found.


Post 10153

“I’m afraid I can’t give you those things. It’s bad business practice and anyway I’m not particularly interested in being involved in this anymore. I barely got away the last time and I thank my lucky star, that those vampires weren’t particularly interested in me. Still didn’t stop them from shooting at me.
I’ll give you my advice for free: Drop this job. Those were Blood Panthers. Johnny is a good customer, but he is in way over his head here.

post 10172
“I admire your chuzpe. Fine. If you insist on getting your neck punctured: Yes, I know that they didn’t get the package. Walton was meeting me at the warehouse – which by the way he chose. I was about to take the case when I noticed the two shadows up in the rafters. I dropped the credstick I was holding and pulled my gun, but was to slow: They dropped from above and attacked Walton. I saw the luggage ripp open and instead of the ball only soiled cloth hung out. I high tailed out of there before the vamps were done with the doc. One of them shot at me but missed. I fired a back although without aiming, just to make them wary of following me.
I got in my car and got out of there. Even that might have not been enough if a Lonestar cruiser hadn’t homed in on the gunshots and put their sirens on. I assume the Panthers didn’t want to hang around after that.
Now, I admit the deal went sour, but that wasn’t my fault. I don’t have a dossier on Walton. I know that he worked for the state to evaluate findings on building sites. His word could stop multi-million dollar projects. So I assume he got paid handsomely. Something must have happened, because through a contact of mine I was made aware that he needed a lot of money quickly.
In my experience there are usually two reasons for that: Either he had gone in debt with people who take their frustrations out on your kneecaps, or he had a lover or familiy member in trouble. From his demeanor on the phone I’d say it was the latter and likely a woman.
Someone he cared for anyway.”

and post 10179
“Now, I was wondering that myself. And until I read that the Star had picked up his body, I thought that was most likely the case. But he couldn’t have expected that I’d drop the stick to pull out my gun. Truth be told it was a stupid move on my part. But old reflexes die hard.
In my estimation, the doc might have tried to pull a fast one on the opposition, more likely he was shopping around with this find and those Azzies didn’t like a no for an answer and used some mojo – either matrix or magic – to get a trace on him.
Anyway that doesn’t explain the dirty clothes. No way I’d have accepted them instead of the ball. I have honestly no clue what he was thinking or what he thought the stuff was good for. It certainly didn’t help him against the vamps.”

Interrogating the ganger

post 10353
“They call me Badger. Hell’s Devils, Chapter 29 San Antonio. Oh god, I’m going to vomit. Please let me down.”
After a rain of half digested soyburgers he continued
“Please, we were paid to light up the fat fuck – especially if he takes anyone into his backroom. Some Dude paid us. Contacted us over link. Never had heard of him before, but he send a fat stack over and a package with body cams and the fuel. Promised each of us another stack when it’s done. Please, please, that’s all that was to it. I thought the fat guy had fingered the wrong 13 year old and some dad wanted him gone.”

post 10378
The ganger was getting shriller as he answered: “What the frag are you talking about? We had cameras rolling with the guy live behind them. The frag. Were we supposed to get a better offer while a guy watched us who hires people to burn other people?
He just send us the money and the message – and he knew our names, our commcodes and where we live. A little crawler drone dropped of the thermos at Nicky’s place. That’s it!”

The compass

aside from spinning aimlessly,

post 10496
The compass on the other hand was clearly an arcano-mechanic object. Low force, but well made, containing quite certainly trace amounts of oricalcum. Not something someone would spontaneously create and also not something someone with money trouble would keep without a good reason.

Doc’s Gopher and it’s contents
- it was parked wireless off, with a high end security system

post 10599
In the Gopher, Al had finished downloading the nagivation history. The inside of the cab smelled faintly of shoe polish, tobacco and the lightest trace of a very fruity perfume. There was no gun under the seat and only an old parking slip from a small diner north of SA.
The glove compartment did contain a few optical chips that were labled as “Mood Music 1 to 3”. Likely from someone who didn’t rely on the cloud to provide him with entertainment.
There was a locked trunk on the backseat that had “Archaeological Equipment, University of Ontario, Handle With Care” written on its side.

post 10608
Mood Music 1 turns out to be a collection traditional backpipes playing scottish folk music – about 1.5 terrabytes worth of it.
(missed the other chip posts — mexican love songs … all music

post 10745
A lot of questions arise about their opposition: Why are they using such comparatively cheap measures? Why aren’t they using flying drones? Why didn’t they go for the car themselves if they knew where it was – or did they even know before the team went there?
And finally: Why was the last destination of the doc’s car a little farm south of San Angelo, about two miles away from the Azlan border?

post 10786
The box with the “handle with care” sign, contained a portable lab – some of it was mundane stuff, chemicals for soil analysis, a compact sensor unit for spectroscopy and a laser scanner. But the rest looked very much like hermetic alchemy. Ichante found a well stocked supply of reagents, easily 200 drams, as well as a half finished thesis, which according to the lable was for a power focus of unremarkable force.

The trunk of the car revealed a slight quadratic depression where something very heavy had impressed itself on the grey friction matt.
Otherwise, there was a spade, a pick axe and an assorment of increasingly finer hammers and brushes around.
Becky had skipped through about 5000 songs on the chips and was amazed just how many Mexican love songst there were.

post 10829
Ichante had taken a closer look at the thesis for the powerfocus. The hermetic way to approach things was pretty alien to her and not at all intuitive. All she could see, was that it had some curious instructions to place it on a 20 cm long, 1cm thick rod made from obsidian. The word “keystone” has scribbled under a rough sketch. Now that she had looked it over she realized that the thesis wasn’t half finished but that there seemed to be a page missing.


post 10786
Preston was buys trying to track the scooters. As it turned out, they were slaved to a single Transsys Commlink as the first MARK travelled up the connection. The second MARK was trickier to get, but once he had it, he realized that the commlink was unattended with no Persona in sight.
He suddenly realized that remote controlling the scooters also allowed the controller not not actually be directly affiliated with the vehicles.
The trace on one of the scooters revealed it to be still in the vicinity of the car rental, but moving at well above it’s max speed, indicating it was on some kind of transport. Only a moment later the trace vanished – likely due to a reboot or shutdown of the scooter. The Transsys on the other hand was still transmitting – and thanks to another trace easily pinpointed to a small garage next to Goodfellow Airforce Base.

post 10829
A quick look on satellite maps showed that the garage had a pretty well stocked backyard full of scrap metal, while the farm seemed to extend it’s holdings across the border – at least if you believed the fenced in area on both sides.
The farm’s name was La Vida Lopez.

for future reference, my attempt at a transcription of the archeologist’s hidden voice message to Maria:

I’m so sorry, if you are listening to this something went wrong with the sell.

I did not bring the artifact to the meeting, just the (???) instructions as proof that I have it. The artifact is buried two miles south of (Eden?) just off to the west of the 83.

I made two compasses that allow you to find the place. I have one with me, the other is upstairs beneath the loose floor board, with my translation of the notes.

But Maria, whatever you do, don’t let the artifact be destroyed. It’s bad enough that I moved it from where I found it. The artifact has collected so much power over the millennia that I fear it could punch a hole clearly through the planes and create a bridge to the very horrors it was meant to seal away.

There is so much power inside this thing. If unleashed all at once it could kill a god. The script talks about the sleeper of the Black Pyramid and the Undead Watcher from the (Thornscape Thicket?) whose eternal gaze prevents his awakening.

I foolishly tried to verify those claims, and re-invented a very dangerous device. So after you sell the artifact to Johnny, destroy my notes and my kit. Don’t dig deeper on the field.

I love you, good-bye.


2075: Stormy Waters Brex