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<<Sunday Morning - January 1, 2079 - Touristville, Redmond>>

It was a raucous night in Touristville. In addition to the usual Saturday night revelries, it was also New Years' Eve. There were guns and drugs and guns and alcohol and guns and BTLs and fireworks and all sort of local fun. At midnight (and at 1am and 2am and 3am...), it seemed like the whole neighborhood went go outside to fire off guns into the air. Who knows where all of the bullets landed.

But for all the noise and commotion, there was relatively little violence. With the Crimson Crush and Urubia's coalition in control, there were no turf wars, no territorial disputes, no Halloweeners throwing Molotov cocktails for dreks and giggles. Noise and excess, yes. But comparatively little bloodshed. New year, new world? That remains to be seen.

It's been a week since your time at Pike Hall and the contrast between the two worlds is stark. Bobby is back and has rejoined the agency. Mato, in turn, took off for the mountains. While he secretly dreamed of going to Hawai'i, he instead returned to Cascade Ork lands.

"I'm going to track Bonita, if I can," he tells the others. "She doesn't know me. I'm an ork, I speak some Spanish, I speak some Or'zet. I can blend with the Chulos, I can blend with the Crimson Crush. Or, whatever Bonita is these days. I won't be gone long. A few days, a week at the most."

And with that he's gone, off to Puyallup on foot (presumably using his skimmers) to retrace Bonita's steps with the Chulos and their smuggling tunnels.

That leaves Bobby, AM, and Jawsey to watch the fort and listen to the fireworks/gunfire.

In the morning, Bobby wakes up to find a message from Captain Razak.

<<Happy New Year, sunshine. Keeping your nose clean? Or muzzle, as it were.>>

There's an address. It's a warehouse in Touristville. It's not along the main drag with all the businesses and the red-light district. It's a bit closer to some of the more residential areas, with apartment buildings and shantytowns of homes that were abandoned after the Crash of '29. It's close enough to walk.

<<47.672415462393666, -122.11185560205979. Pay a visit and render all necessary assistance.>>
Bobby had spend his time looking for Bonita with increasing frustration - he was more than happy to give Mato a chance to find the elusive ganger. Not that his excursion hadn't been interesting. He had spend significant time as various birds and had a new appreciation for a life as a raptor. Dinosaurs would be the next thing he'd have to explore. Those forms still eluded him although he knew that he should be able to take them.
New Year was always hard for him - no interest in going out to get drunk, to many guns out for a friendly brawl - or to enjoy roaming around as a fox or raven. He had instead spent the evening curled up with yet another collection of e-books to further his understanding.

Razak's message found him fresh from his workout and ready for breakfast. While he gulped down a cup of half soycaf and soymilk together with a breakfast burrito, he mentioned it to the others on the house feed: <<I've got passed a little job from my sponsor Captain Rasak. Sounds like it's one of those that was the original reason why we were allowed to found SIS.
I suggest you purge any substances you still have in your system and get ready to take on the day.>>
AM does not share Bobby's and Mato's fascination as of finding Bonita. She feels that searching for her may be searching for troubles. After they visit the mansion, AM delivers all her pay to reduce the debt and Bobby agrees to loan her some extra which implies that she no longer owes money to the Mafia. Only a manageable amount to Bobby without leg-breaking interest - or so she hopes. The last payment to the Mafia is uneventful, she notifies TJ that she has the full amount, they meet at a public place she gives him a credstick and he buys her coffee. Some casual gossip about the Mafia, and a few hours later a call from 'Jimmy' congratulating her.

She mainly takes some time to process all that she has learned now that she empty from the academic and practical project of creating Trouble. Her process time includes buying some cheap shoes at Clive Clark that steal pays for Bobby to help out a bit for a holiday and sending greeting cards to friends and family where she wishes them well. She feels almost normal considering all circumstances, and the threat of imminent doom feels somewhat lessened.

She'll even attend some celebrations at a small local pub, wearing her winter clothes and boots. AM would not be actually party but would enjoy the happiness and atmosphere and drink mildly. Nod and greet people she knows - it feels safer in the hood, but her automatic weapon is still with her at all times. It is still Redmond, and she needs some visible sign of power considering how helpless she may appear to be at first glance.

When Bobby texts, it is too soon - but she gets out of bed and dresses quickly. She owes him her full attention. When she arrives at the kitchen she is fully dressed, but she still hasn't combed her hair. She boils water for Coffee and asks Bobby if he wants a glass.
When they'd gotten back to their home, jawsey had resumed his exercises to strengthen his magic. His time working with McElroy had ot been wasted, but it was not the same as pushing how long he could sustain astral projection, or gathering up mana as for a spell, and just holding it-- each time pushing how much he gathered, how long he could hold it.

The only thing about this sort of training was that it was exhausting at a spiritual sort of level. He suspected that he had been drifting around the house like some sort of automaton, as he'd had little drive to interact with the others, and his emotions all seemed tattered and far away.

On New Year's Eve he'd spent the time around midnight; astral travel in your astrally cruising Touristville, keeping up to date with its moods and watching for imminent outbreaks of mass violence. Things had been peaceful enough, but he'd once again returned to his body only to immediately fall into an exhausted sleep.

And so it is that he limps into the kitchen all bleary eyed, wearing mismatched socks, and demands "what asshole wants us to do what to what other asshole this time? And can we charge them extra for bad timing?". It seems that he hasn't yet absorbed Bobby's message, but after he drinks some water he he adds " wait, you told us who the first asshole is. We know anything about the second asshole yet?
AM feels welcomed at the local pub. There are even some flashes of recognition when people see her. A few introduce themselves, mostly the mildly inebriated males who have enough liquid courage in their system to make a move on an elven woman. The conversation is boozy and not terribly compelling, but AM doesn't feel ostracized or threatened. People treat her like a local, unlike all the corporate brats coming to slum it in Touristville.

The rich kids don't even know how to dress. They're generally astute enough to not wear Armanté, Berwick, or Zoë de Paris. Some wear Monobe's NuZoot monogrammed clothing. Evo's ME MetaL and NeoNET's Furba (faux-leather jackets, graffiti-patterned shirts) are popular choices. Post-apocalyptic ("post-apoc" in the parlance) is another common choice, even though it hasn't really been in fashion in 5 years. Maybe it's old clothes that the kids aren't worried about ruining in Redmond. Maybe they think Touristville is post-apoc itself.

The Crimson Crush do banging business, selling anything and everything that can alter your brain chemistry. BTLs, CalHots, Zen, Bliss, and Novacoke are the biggest hits. The really rich kids buy blunts of Deepweed, which stinks like a dead animal when they smoke it. Some buy Cram to dance all the night long. If they do something to piss off the Crush, sometimes the Crush will give them a popper of Kamikaze instead. It's way more expensive, sure, but the sight of a frothing, crazed corporate brat brings a good deal of entertainment to the orks and trolls.
Bobby was a bit surprised about Jawsey's message. So much profanity so early was new. He replied: "Captain Razzak prevented me from getting dishonorably discharged and ending in a cage somewhere. I do owe him more than a few favors.
He is usually fair enough to not let me jump into an open knife, so I don't expect this to be a trap. As for what's going on - No idea. But I intend to find out. So you all coming? I drive."

Bobby had entered the coordinates into his commlink and now got ready to head out - duffel bag with his critter armor in hand.
AM finishes with the coffee which she boiled over a small gas stove she brings three small glasses to the table, as a bar of chocolate-flavored nutrition bar to count as breakfast. She closes her eyes, and sips the bitter drink, grinning. Ahhaaa

Looking at Jawsey she suggests [cololor=cyan]"You look like you need it. "[/color] which is the polite way to say that he looks like shit. Not that AM cares or wants to be reminded what she looks like in the mornings, but that morning was not a typical morning. She was almost happy.

She nods at Bobby, she owes him so much and would definitely come, she'll even let Bobby drive without a struggle.
AM's smile is genuine when the soykaf hits her lips. December was a profitable month for SIS: in addition to the chunk of change from Sir Pike, it was a very good month on the day-to-day side of things.

December is peak season for private investigators. The grey weather and the holidays have people depressed either cheating on their spouses or investigating their cheating spouses. Stores bracing for the holiday rush hire seasonal workers. Those workers need background checks to help avoid security breaches or large thefts. Many business owners and corporate representatives hire private investigators to help them assess the problems within the company, the areas of the business that are most vulnerable, and to evaluate the trustworthiness of new hires. SIS has its strongest month on record, turning a fine profit. Not only are you fed, housed, and clothed, but there's even a little money leftover for luxuries like good soykaf, not the bitter stuff that tastes like burned battery acid. Mato's particular indulgence (when he's not running around the woods) is dairy; he likes milk in his soykaf. Up to 80 percent of Native Americans are lactose intolerant but evidently he's not one of them.

When Bobby plugs the address into his commlink he realizes that it is only a few blocks away. You can drive it in 1 minute or you can walk it in 5 minutes. It's not raining at the moment, but it is quite cold outside with temperatures hovering near freezing.
Bobby decided in the end not to bother with the car. "Seems to be quite close. Quick walk does wonders for your appetite."
He shouldered his bag and looked curiously at his friends and colleagues. He was both glad and sad that he had missed the opportunity to hang around such a posh place like the one they had their last contract at. Lot's of opportunities for things to go wrong in the wrong moment. Still, he would have liked tasting the food there. While they were walking he brought another topic up he had been contemplating about:
"So, I've been studying a lot of theory lately. Magic theory. You know, we could all get better in our crafts if we'd create a magical study group? You know, like a magic circle. It's supposed to make it easier to get stronger. I know, I've got more raw power, but I can't do most of the tricks you do or know. Longterm that could be really useful. What do you say?"
"This morning the entire world is an ass, Seattle is the center of it, and Redmond is the sphincter. All of us are assholes. I'm sure our patron is among the shiniest of asshole, or something. Sorry, too much time in the astral, staring at the nature of Redmond. It was still there in my sleep, during what sleep I had. I feel like I was licking the gutters with my brain."

He took a deep breath "OK, enough of that. I'll get my work face on. Walking over? Sure.". He looked around vaguely for a moment then added " just give me three minutes, I need to get my cane. And better clothes. And matching socks."

It was closer to four minutes, but Jawsey came back looking more put together and more genial. His team mates could spot the tightness in his shoulders but it was unlikely that anyone else would spot that he was out of sorts.


As they started their walk Bobby brought up the magical group concept. It only took Jawsey a few steps to reply "I'll do it. If it helps the two of you. My focus for now is getting strong enough to be able to do useful things, more than on having more things to do poorly. And I don't really know much about magic, I only just finished the introductory trip series, I'm not even on what they'd teach you in a high school for the awakened. But as long as adding a person adds to the effectiveness, instead of averaging out, I'll support you."

A few more steps and he added "although I'm thinking that maybe soon I'll go back to Tsimshian for a bit. I haven't seen family there since I was a kid. My Mom died a while back but I have a grandmother, some cousins, that sort of thing. Maybe seeing family, where I'm from, where I first reached spirits, will help me get myself together somehow. Or maybe it will just make me so glad that I have a place here and don't have to live in that hellhole. Whatever, I think it might be good for me."
AM has dedicated the last months to pushing her talent to its limit, not by raw power but by refinement and deep understanding of things, and she has Trouble showing for that. Not merely a new spell or a ritual - a paved path that she learned to walk but a unique being with its own formula - a person almost - or perhaps more than a person. She was all for study groups, or magical societies especially one that did not bind her to a certain lifestyle. Freedom, for what little freedom she had, was an important term.

She comments to Bobby"It would have been nice to learn the nuances distinguishing spirits from artificial astral constructs with a partner or two. The question is if we can agree on a common goal that we wish to achieve."

[ Spoiler ]
Bobby shrugged at Jawsey's explanation: "I have spent entirely too much time researching gut parasites to comment on what you just said about Seattle - there's a natural habitat for everything."
When the talk became more serious he nodded: "Jawsey, are you depressed or something? Maybe I should take you out for a run as a wolf or flight as an eagle more often.
You know a drekload of stuff and have even more practical experience - both dealing with spirits as well as reading auras. Could you be better? Sure! But you are already heads and shoulders above anyone in our team within your area of expertise.
But I get that you want to visit your family. Nothing like it - the mixture of love and loathing. When you are done, come back and we get this thing off the ground. Now that we don't have to sink every centinuyen into paying off our debtors, we can invest in learning materials. Drek, man. We are this close to real freedom. There is a whole world out there to be explored - even if it's a drekhole like Seattle.
All in our team are damaged in some kind, but we make up for it and more.
Anyway, we are nearly there, so put your game faces on.
"Depressed? Maybe. Exhausted for sure. Look, working out seems like it comes naturally to you. By nature I was more of a trickster, figuring out how to manipulate the people who work out into getting me what I want. But maybe I'm growing up or something, I'm coming to want to take care of myself more, pull my weight. So I'm trying to strengthen my magic. But this consant heavy exercise, even if it is magical, is exhausting. Some people seem to like this sort of thing? For me, it just sucks. It isn't any fun, and this is just trying to get my 'magical muscle' beyond 'wageslave who plays squash twice a week' levels. I'm dreading the sort of work it will take if I ever want to approach Ana's level. I'm determined to stick it through, but I'm pretty sick of it." After a moment he adds "Maybe that is part of wanting to so see Tsimshian, hoping that I'll learn something there that will somehow make it easier to work this hard. Which probably isn't going to happen, most people probably just aren't as lazy as me."

"As for the business, yah, it has been growing great. When I was first in Seattle, trying to make it as an investigator, I was slowly drowning. SIS saved me, and together we are a good team. This past month we really improved the business side too, being able to regularly churn through small jobs without as much overhead time. The intake templates are helping and the cost tracking programs too. Umm, I'll walk you through those when we get a chance. They are great once you get used to using them. All of which means that the small jobs are almost to the point of letting us break even, so that the big jobs can let us re-invest in ourselves and in better tools. Of course one good disaster could threaten all of that, but for now we are doing well. But maybe surviving month to month makes it easier to focus? Now we need to plan how to take advantage of this, and that is also a lot harder than watching whatever is free on the trid and complaining about the lack of business."

As he says the last few lines, Jawsey changes his body language, taking on a more confident posture, slowing his steps a bit and holding his head higher, hand farther away from where his gun hides under his trench coat. His face settles into his look of professional interest. Finally he asks "This the spot?"
"Ah, now I get you. I've spent so much time in animal shape that I kinda lost a lot of fine motor skills with my real body. I've only recently started to push myself to spend more time to maintain it. Training sucks - make no mistake - I don't think I like it any more than you do. It's just something I have to do. But I bet you could benefit from motivation through us. When I learned to change, I always had a flock or a pack to look forward. You have to do fun things with your powers to get anywhere. Let your trickster side out while you push your magic. We don't have to follow guidelines from White Man mages. As long as you get tired and use your magics a lot it's pretty irrelevant what you do."

"Bookkeeping... yeah, I think I'll need some help there. I never was good with stuff like that. Can't maul a timesheet - or at least it won't do any good if I do."

Bobby looked at the pretty standard warehouse in front of them with a frown: "Huh, I'd have expected something more flashy waiting here. Well, nothing to do but look for the doorbell."
Heading straight for the address, Bobby looked for an entrance.
She comments on the conversation, uncertain if they would listen or not - but it gets her remembering things. "My mentor, Dancing Bear would say that working on your magic is but taking a step closer to the great Spirits and further away from yourself. Something is lost for everything that is gained, and that grief comes to those that hurry. I am not sure that I agree, but I am not ready to feel Iktomi louder within my soul, so I am not taking any more steps right now."

When they arrive she checks for matrix activity within, traps, and any other impending disaster that may be scheduled due to their streak of good luck.
Jawsey nodded at Bobby's mention of training not being fun. At least it wasn't just him! But at Ana's words Jawsey stopped walking toward the building "That is exactly how it feels! Well, like I'm moving away from myself at least. If I'm moving closer to the Great Spirits I haven't been able to tell. Maybe that is from having almost no shamanic training, or maybe it iis an issue with never having matched with a mentor spirit. Hunh. A lot to think about there, thank you." He gave her something between a nod and a small bow.

Then turning his attention to the building he frowned. He agreed with Bobby, the place didn't look very likely. "I'll take a quick look at the astral out here, but I'm not going to dump my body in the street to go astrally scouting, at least not yet."

With that he shifted his attention to the astral, and scanned the outside of the building and the street.
The building is a broad one-story building, sort of a cross between a warehouse and a large, empty retail store. It doesn't look particularly interesting from the outside. It might have been nice 50 years ago, but it's been a long time since then.

There's a large parking lot in front, like you might find at a retail store. This being Redmond, there's a shantytown of sorts built around the perimeter of it. Evidently the building doesn't need much parking, or has been vacant long enough for the squatters to take over. It's early and cold so most of the squatters are still sleeping or trying to stay warm. One of them has a small fire going to cook breakfast. You can smell the smoke in the frosty morning air.

AM sweeps the Matrix activity. Outside she finds the ancient sensors and poor signal that are common in public spaces in Touristville. The building itself is almost entirely devoid of Matrix activity. She does spot one commlink inside the building, an MCT Blue Defender. Designed for legitimate sale to security forces and off-the-books distribution to shadowrunners and criminals worldwide, this stylish commlink (in the form of a blue bracelet) has a stronger-than-average Firewall (5). It also costs ¥2,000 and is much better than what most people in Redmond carry around.

But outside of that, there's nothing. No cameras, no sensors. There's a maglock on the front door, but it's immediately obvious to AM that the installation of it was haphazard and sloppy. And, in fact, the maglock doesn't even matter because the front door is wide open, propped open with a wedge. Glancing inside from the parking lot, you can see a cavernous space that's full of crates and boxes.

Jawsey sweeps the exterior of the building on the astral. The streets around you look like they do everywhere in Redmond, namely not very nice. They leave astral observers with a slightly dirty feeling, much like polluted air in the physical realm. The building itself has no astral security. Looking through the open front doors, there's actually a tinge of something unusual for the Barrens: hope.
Bobby waited until his colleagues had gotten a good look on their respective sides of reality, then started walking towards the open door. "Wait a second before you follow me. Doesn't look like a trap, but you never know."
With that, he marched ahead and into the old building.

"Hello, anybody home?" he called out.
AM places her hand on the hilt of her automatic weapon, but it is more of a gentle stroke to reassure her that the weapon is there, ready. She has no active spells and is not perceiving the astral, but she knows that Trouble is not far keeping its distance in case there are astral observers but remains within the 100 meters just in case. Between the gun, Trouble, Jawsey, and the most badass Bobby, she feels reasonably protected. It is definitely enough firepower to enter a shithole like that, but one must never be 100% confident.

>> One blue defender bracelet, likely our guy unless you believe in squatters getting away with owning a comlink costing like two big ones.
A man stands up, startled. Evidently he had been bending over or kneeling down to do something among the boxes and crates. Bobby instantly recognizes a tell-tale defensive posture, one of a trained combatant. In fact, as a practitioner himself, Bobby recognizes it as classic Okichitaw: a defensive stance that's intended to set up a devastating counterstrike.

But, after the man sees Bobby, he relaxes.

"Ah," he says, "a friendly face."

Whether Bobby's face is friendly or not is beside the point. What he seems to mean is that Bobby is Sioux.

Bobby looks the man over. The man's heritage is complicated but Bobby's guess is that the man is half Sioux, half African, but those proportions could be off. His skin is much darker than usual, more black than tanned. Someone who isn't Sioux might not even recognize him as such.

He's a bit older, perhaps late 40s or early 50s. He's human but his silhouette could pass for an ork: broad shoulders, narrow waist, strong musculature. He's wearing a t-shirt, despite the fact that it's pretty cold inside. The front door is wide open and there's no heat on. It's possible the heat doesn't even work.
"Ay. Cpt. Razak told me to pay this place a visit. I'm Bobby. And that..." He gesticulated through the open door for the others to come in, "... are my colleagues."
Bobby nodded at the man's stance: "You've got some training there. So I guess you are also Ex-NAN Defense Forces - not a stretch considering that Razak knows you.
So who are you and what's your deal?"
"Yeah," the man agrees slowly, wiping his hands.

"SDF," he says, meaning Sioux Defense Forces. "CQC instructor," he adds, for Close Quarters Combat. Bobby doesn't recognize him, but he is a bit older. Maybe he had left the Forces before Bobby's time. There are lots of CQC instructors to handle the compulsory 12 months of service that all 18-year-olds are required to do.

"You can call me Cutty. This here is my little 'retirement' project. A gym. Boxing, martial arts, weights."

Upon closer inspection, it looks like he's partway through constructing a boxing ring.

"Razak sent you, did he?" This is more curious than skeptical. "Did he say why?"
"The drek he did. Well, nice meeting you Cutty. Razak told me to "render all necessary assistance", so I figure the old man wants me to lend you a helping hand with that equipment."
Bobby dropped his gymn bag.
"He, once we are done here, you can show me some tricks of yours. I haven't been in a ring for a while. Could do me some good.

Anyway, if you need some muscle, for setting things up, you are at the right address - or is there another problem you are dealing with? Maybe problems with the locals?"

Bobby asked, fully aware how basically any new business around here immediately drew the attention of leaches like the Yakuza, Mafia or whatever other gang was around.
AM introduces herself as "AM (pronounced like the letter M)." she kindly asks "What is your intentions toward this building if I may ask..."
Cutty pauses, seemingly unsure of how to respond to AM. He glances to Bobby to confirm that he's speaking the right language.

"My intention is to build a gym," he says. "Like I just said. Boxing, martial arts, weights." He glances to the partially-constructed boxing ring to reinforce his answer.

But then he presses forward. "You know, a place to get kids off the street. A safe space. I went to a gym like that when I was a kid."

He nods eagerly at Bobby's offer.

"Wiz, for sure. Lots to do here. Things are scattered about and heavy, hard to move on their own. Unpacking crates, setting up weight racks, a bit of light construction. I can do it myself, but it would take a while.

"The building has been vacant for a while and could use some attention. A bit of electrical work, maybe get the heat up and running. I walked around the roof this morning and it's full of holes. All that New Year's shooting... those rounds have to land somewhere. Better the roof than someone's head though."

Bobby also mentions problems with the locals.

"Yeah, I could use some help with the lay of the land here. I know it's gangland but I could use an overview of who's who and what's what.

"I'd be happy to trade lessons. I know my way around a brawl pretty well."

He looks over AM appraisingly. It's not skeptical; it seems like an honest evaluation.

"I could show you some tricks that don't rely on strength," he offers her. "Or to help you keep your firearm in close quarters." He nods toward her Ares SIGMA 3. "About 10, 11 years back, Ares pioneered Firefight to teach FireWatch teams how to use a firearm effectively while in melee combat. It didn't take the rest of us long to figure it out ourselves."

Then he looks to Jawsey, eyeing his cane.

"Bartitsu can teach you to fight with whatever is in your hands, whether it's an umbrella or a walking stick. The ballestra - a rapid attack made by a jump forward and a lunge - can leave you overexposed, but a well-timed riposte?" He gives a chef's kiss in approval.
Jawsey had hung back at first. People who moved like that were the sort of people who kicked people like him in the head.

But apparently instead he was the sort who taught people how to kick each other in the head, instead? Normally he'd stay well away, but staying on the good side of the powers that be back in the Sioux made sense. And more importantly, it would be a good excuse to avoid his magic exercises for a day or two.

"I'll help as best as I can. My magic isn't much but I can levitate things a bit, call up a spirit to help hold things. Just don't count on teaching me to fight in the physical world."
AM responds uncertain if she is willing to engage in a physical exercise with anyone. She is not much of a hugger.

"You want to do good I respect that more than you think. It would have been amazing to have some physical safe place when I grew up. This is kind of why I spent most of my time in VR, less likely to get hurt. She pauses to appreciate the boxes and scenery and then says I am not asking what needs not be asked, broke kids, and doing the good deed are good Karma, but they do not pay the bills, and the gangers that collect taxes in prefer to paid with hard currency she pauses or perhaps with services... she explains You need some business plan to survive here long-term, Touristville or not it is still Redmond.

When he suggests training her she flinches "The whole point is not getting into Melee range in the first place. However, the Trickster always has nasty surprises, and accidents do happen.
Any trick for keeping my gun, would be appreciated."
Cutty nods eagerly to AM, evidently glad of the distraction from his current labors.

"I'll show you some CAR tricks. Center Axis Relock. Really effective small arms stance for 3 meters or less, the 'OH DREK' distance." He gives a laugh.

"It minimizes your profile, keeps your elbows at the ready to ward off an attacker, and creates a very stable yet flexible firing position. It's perfect for maintaining weapon retention: it keeps the gun close to your body and away from your assailant, maximizing your leverage."

Cutty's clearly geeking out at this point. But then he catches himself and comes back to reality.

"But work first, play second, right?" He scratches his head and looks around.

He turns back to Jawsey. "Levitating would be a huge help. I have a 1,000 kg in weights in crates, and that's just the hand weights. There's that much and more in plates and equipment."

To AM: "If you're more comfortable with hardware and electronics then I could use some help on that front as well. I need to set up the Central Home Node, install some cameras. Maybe get the fragging maglock working right. I've got the gremlins: electronics make no sense to me. I'm a man of muscle and metal."

He turns his eye to Bobby, whose default human figure is not particularly imposing. "If you can swing a hammer and twist a wrench, I could use some help setting up the rings. There will be an MMA cage as well. We can hang the heavy bags, stuff like that."
Bobby shruggs: "Sure, let me change into something better suited for work."
Taking off his shirt, revealed that Bobby has grown so much body hair that the word "fur" wouldn't be out of place. When he took off his pants it became clear, that his adept powers clearly includes the ability to manipulate his body hair. But there isn't much time to wonder about that before a full grown Indian elephant suddenly stands in the room.

[ Spoiler ]

A short trumpeting later, Bobbiephant began moving stuff with his trunk and tusks around.
Jawsey watches Bobby, curious about what shape he'll take this time. When Bobby turns into a full on Elephant, Jawsey shakes his head with a smile, then assures Cutty "Don't worry, he's housebroken."

He finds a place to stand where he is not in immediate danger of being trampled, then how well his magic will work today

[ Spoiler ]

He shakes his head, feeling like he hadn't connected with the spirit world at all. He instead finds an unopened crate that he can sit on for a moment, takes a moment to breath deeply and compose his mind, then tries again

[ Spoiler ]

Jawsey kept a smile on his face, for all that he was frustrated with himself on the inside. Perhaps his magical-spiritual malaise was keeping him from reaching the spirit worlds? Perhaps just none of them wanted to help move weights around?

With a sigh he got back to his feet and said "It looks like maybe what I should focus on doing is helping Bobby. I can open crates and unpack things enough for him to pick them up and move them. I thought I might bring a spirit along to help, but apparently they don't like moving things. My levitation spell may still be handy occasionally, but it will be slower and less capable than Bobby's trunk."
Cutty leaps back a step, but just one. Then he relaxes his stance. It seems he's seen some weird stuff in his time in the SDF; he quickly comes to terms with Bobby's new form.

"Wiz," he says, although it's unclear if he means it. "But why wouldn't you be a gorilla or an orangutan? Y'know, something with opposable thumbs?"

But he doesn't look a gift elephant in the mouth. He uses some chalk to mark out where boxes and crates should go, and the general layout of the gym. He assembles some weight racks along the walls so that weights can be unloaded from the crates and onto the racks.
AM is mildly disappointed by the liberalism Bobby uses his talent to show off... An elephant no less wasn't he like super strong on human form as well? She envisioned some sweaty macho Sioux men hard at work while she does some elementary electric work. Was it the Stigma in her head, should they work with their muscles because they are Sioux men? Reflecting on it for a moment, Jawsey is in no shape, and Bobby has better tools than his human form, and even she is not going to physically lift anything when she can levitate heavyweights with a lesser risk to get injured. She feels a bit hypocritical for being disappointed.

She shrugs and rolls her eyes, and patiently working on installing cameras, setting up the home node, and fixing the maglock. She casts a spell of her own, a blessing, and even asks Troubles to help, but she does that in private hoping not to draw any attention to her magical talent. Perhaps the only tale-tale sign is the black cat that sorts appears to join her as she is working, which she absently strokes on periods where she is in hot-sim fixing software stuff. It is no secret that she is awakened, but she feels more comfortable when her blessings are not obvious.

Once she sets up the node she'll encrypt the camera logs, and protects them with data bombs. It would take more than a mindless script-kid to hack these cameras, and perhaps that would gain her some professional reputation in the hood, or at least some appreciation from Cutty. When she's done she grants Cutty permission to the security system and explains, "the camera feeds are accessible in secure storage with triple-layered encryption, as well as a data bomb to send some nasty code toward unauthorized users. As an authorized user, these are transparent to you, but anyone messing with your system would find it unexpectedly secure. "

[ Spoiler ]
As an answer to Cutty's question, Bobby used his trunk to pick up an already assembled, 200kg barbell, twirled it once and depot it on a rack.
Next Cutty received a message over his com: <<I've got a trode patch, so don't worry. Elephants have some of the best combination of dexterity and raw strength with their trunks - once we get to the small stuff I'll change shape again. For now let's get the heavy stuff organized - You've got yourself an organic forklift here.>>
On the astral, Trouble informs AM that Cutty is Awakened. This is immediately obvious to Jawsey and Bobby too, should they look.

Cutty appears to be a potent adept, at least as accomplished as Bobby. His emotional state is hopeful, making it pleasant to consider. He seems genuinely appreciative of the help. Overall, his health is good. A fine astral eye like Jawsey's can spot some aches and pains in Cutty's joints, the lingering effects of a physical life. Perhaps it's early arthritis. It seems like it must be costing him a step, but in fairness it's a step that most people never had in the first place.

With the benefit of magic, things come together quickly. Low-power levitate spells are sufficient to move all but the heaviest loads. Many hands (plus magic) make for light work. What might have taken days or weeks of Cutty working on his own is accomplished over the course of the morning.

AM explains what she's done and Cutty says, "Wiz!" This time he really seems to mean it.

"That's great!" he exclaims. "Really great! I can't thank you enough; I never would have been able to do that on my own. The boxes and crates I could eventually do, given enough time" - his aura aches at the mere thought of it - "but electronics? I shock myself anytime I use anything more complicated than a commlink. Smartlinks? No thank you! Give me a sharp piece of metal and I'm a surgeon."

Cutty rests on the edge of a crate, sweating despite the cold air inside the building. "Thank you again," he says. "I'd offer you refreshments but all I have is the water cooler." He points to a jug of water sitting on a dispenser. It's not fancy but at least it's crystal clear and clean, which is more than you can say for Redmond tap water.
Bobby considered for a moment to just use his trunk to empty the water container, but stops himself in time. Instead he turns back into himself, to only take a papercone full.
"Water's good enough. How did you get the cash for all that stuff? Do you have a backer? Because if this is all bought by loan money from some loan sharks, you are in for a rough time.
The best you can get in this area are streetkids and their older brothers - and those aren't the most cash afluent people. You'd need some serious advertising to get the kind of downtown yuppies with cash enough to get your revenue going. But for those the area around that place looks a bit too rough. Especially the squatters out there on the parking lot would have to go - and you'd need to pay someone to lookout for your customers' rides."
Bobby looked up:
"What? Don't look like that. I borrowed some of Mato's business and marketing books, ok?
We'd have to redo our whole guerilla marketing campaign for that place to get you some serious interest. Remember when we set up shop here first and we did that trid advert with the bearfighting? I think you'd need something similar, but even hotter."

Only then did Bobby realize that he still wore nothing more than a lot of body hair and began looking for his trousers.
Cutty seems hesitant to answer at first, but - given all the help you've provided - eventually opens up.

"I suspect that you and I have some of the same friends," he tells Bobby, looking down at his cup. "That helped with the start-up costs. Most of the iron isn't that expensive; it's shipping and delivery that stings." He looks around at all the empty boxes and crates.

"I did my 20," he continues. Almost any Sioux citizen would know that means Cutty could retire from the SDF on half-pay. "I left as an OR-7."

Bobby does some quick math. Ballpark, an OR-7 with 20 years of service might make ¥4,800 or ¥5,000 a month. At half pay, that works out to ¥2,400 or ¥2,500. Enough to live on, but not enough to live well.

Cutty looks around the warehouse. "This place isn't so different from the barracks. I sleep on a cot just fine. I don't even like beds. They're too soft, like a marshmallow. I feel like they're going to suck me in and suffocate me."

He takes a sip of water.

"But, you're right, there are other costs and maybe not a lot of income. I wasn't really holding out for the yuppies, or the preppies who are slumming it. I was hoping to get connected to a sponsor, maybe someone who is willing to underwrite some kids. One of those feel-good programs where millionaires can toss ¥10,000 and then sleep soundly at night with their ¥10,000,000. I don't suppose you know any of those folks." He gives a tired smile.

You catch him taking note of Mato's name - at least acknowledging that you're talking about someone who isn't here - but he doesn't ask about it.

"Can you tell me which wheels need to be greased?" he asks. "Whose beak needs to get wet around here?"
AM grins shyly when thanked, and says "It's nothing really, was happy to help. Give me a buzz if you have any problems with electronics" When Bobby turns back into his human form, she says nothing but gazes at the water cooler. Many thoughts pass through as she tries to figure out for the 100th time why seeing the man naked makes her so uncomfortable. She already knows what the man looks like after all.

She never gets used to how free the man is with his body. The man does not care, whereas she tries to cover her body as much as possible. Growing a SINless elf and female with no real protection from the whims of men around her caused AM to be about how she appears in public. Even merely being seen by a male kept her alert. Being noticed is a potential problem. Dressing (or not dressing in Bobby's case) in a way that attracts attention feels like actively taunting the Trickster to challenge her. She will never do it, especially because she *knows* that Iktomi is closer to her than he is to 99% of humanity. When I look at Bobby, Iktomi looks at Bobby and when Iktomi looks at Bobby, danger can come to us all.

Bobby Taunts the entire world; the man embodies a bad attitude, courage, and sticking to his inner voice no matter the cost. He does not rephrase what he has to say twice in his head or considers the possible outcomes and makes plans for each likely development. He says what he wants and handles the consequences. He is taunting the great spirits to throw anything they want at him knowing that he can deal with their attention. He shares some similarities with the men I hate the most, with the one I blamed for all of her misfortune. She praises the Trickster for his sense of humor for reminding me of the worst every time I look at Bobby being so kind to her.

He is a man, a powerful one with total control over his own body, and that gives a less philosophical reason to be embarrassed. I am a woman, but he does not see me as one, he sees me like family which is why he is so comfortable. Why am I not comfortable at this particular moment more than when Bobby is being himself in general. Why do I feel like looking at him is bad or indecent of me? Do I really try to mimic the morality of old maid-books? Or perhaps I never accepted that my marriage will never happen. That there is no hope for the future, even with another man because Iktomi would never let me be weak without terrible consequences. Because it is unfair to inflict this kind of spiritual attention on someone I love. Because perhaps Beaver's family understood what I refused to see, that I am cursed, and that no sane family would ever want me.

So I feel that it is inappropriate for a soon-to-be-married lady to see another man naked. I am so pathetic I'd laugh at myself if I wasn't so embarrassed. So am I cheating on Beaver somehow? Damn emotions that I still have. How come I even get to feel things? Grinning bitterly to herself she whispers a prayer. "Oh great Spider, look how you brought me from almost happiness to misery so quickly, with so little effort. You play me like the Anasazi flute."

Yes, that water cooler was fascinating, and by the time Bobby dresses, she unfreezes, and takes a long sip of water, longer than she needs to drink, and she completely ignores the aftertaste left by the very old plumbing of that rundown building.
"I wish you luck with your business. But I want to leave a thought with you, as you look for clients. I understand that you were with the SDF, a well disciplined organization. Physical training was maybe almost an act of devotion, honing yourself to better support your comrades, better complete your mission."

"I'm not Sioux, I'm Haida. My people got the short end of the stick after the ghost dance, and we're placed under the domination of the Tsimshian. When I wasn't even nine years old I scared a Tsimshian man who had spent a lot of time in a gym. He caught me, punched me, when I fell to the ground curled up he kicked me and stomped on me. Eventually my father gave his life savings to a very skilled surgeon who built me this handsome face -- I have no idea if it is the face I should have, but others seem to like it. To repair my back so it doesn't hurt every day would likely cost me some of what little magic I have, however, as well as savings I haven't built up yet."

"I really do wish you success, and I hope you can teach discipline to some youths. But most of the dangers around here would want to get stronger mostly so they can do more damage as the kick and stomp on their victims. You may not want that sort of customer, but I doubt you will be able to afford to turn them away."
Cutty listens attentively while Jawsey speaks. When Jawsey is done, Cutty nods and says, "I'm sorry that happened" in a genuine way that sounds like he's apologizing on behalf of the world. Overall, he seems much gentler than you would expect of a 20-year veteran, especially one who specialized in fighting and killing people in close quarters. Perhaps something has softened him. Maybe time will do that to a man.

"Discipline is a key tenant of the martial arts," he readily agrees. "Self-knowledge that leads to self-control."

He turns contemplative, looking down at his hands, studying the callouses.

"I find that places like this are like pressure valves. You get it out of your system in here" - he points to the boxing ring - "so that it doesn't come out there." He points outside. "In here it comes with an ethos. We build character as we build bodies.

"It's a Trojan horse, in a way. They come in for muscles but what we really work is the mind."
"I notice you haven't answered what to do about those squatters. Even if we get a billionaire backer, I doubt he'll want the press photos to have this place look like the slum it is.
I expect your best chance is that the yakuza comes over and starts using the place for money laundering. You'll have a lot of customers on your books at least."

He turned to Jawsey with a frown: "Never knew that. Do you know the guy who hit you like that? It's never too late to get even - and get some restitution. Say the word an I'll make that a weekend project."

A quick look at AM made him frown: "You still thirsty or what?" He poured her another cup.

He looked back at Cutty: "Anyway, stuff is set up. All is left is to clean the place. Do you still have cash left for some drones? Nothing drives rich people away like filth - exception is maybe filthy money.
Speaking of which: Are you planning to do cage fights for local toughs? Betting might bring another source of revenue - but guarantees Yakuza involvement.
Oh and the local gang will also come around here. Not much for discipline but a lot of interest in getting stronger with those. You'll have to decide if they are welcome - including their businesses like drugs or btl - or if you try to keep them out and live with the vandalism. No idea what the fire insurance around here costs, but I'd get one if I were you. A deal with the Yakuza would at least help you out there - the protection money they ask for will at least prevent the Halloweeners from torching the place... probably."
Jawsey responds to Bobby with "Thanks for the offer, but our town made sure he had an 'accident'. Which of course brought down more reprisals from the Tsimshian 'army' -- really they were more like a gang with bigger guns. The whole of Tsimshian has a population less than Redmond, I think."

He stares off into space for a moment, nods to himself, then adds: "I have to admit that in the long run that incident might have been good for me. When he shattered my cheek and jaw bone I astrally projected for the first time. Of course I didn't know that was what happened. I was looking at my broken looking body and screaming for help, and summoned my first spirit. Red Coat Boy came, and when the man dumped my body in a stream it was the spirit that coaxed me back into my body so I could crawl out of the water, and it was Red Coat Boy who called for help on the material plane when I couldn't. And my father paid Vory smugglers to bring me to join him in Seattle, where I'd be safer. Not that it makes what that thug did any less evil, but I suppose it shows we can't always predict the full impact of any action."
"Absolutely right," Cutty agrees with Jawsey.

He looks to Bobby, making eye contact. "I'm not ducking your question. I just don't have all the answers. I'm an old sargeant, not a businessman."

He folds his arms across his chest. You're pretty sure that he's bigger than Mato. (Not that Mato is that big for an ork.)

"I'm not that worried about squatters. They usually like abandoned places, quiet places. If a place is no longer abandoned or quiet, they'll move. And if they don't?" He shrugs. "Everybody needs a place to pitch their tent."

He shakes his head to Bobby's next question. "No cash for drones. The maglocks and cameras were a stretch as it was. I heard there was a gang that sometimes traffics in refurbished tech." He means the Brain Eaters. "No? They're gone? Oh well. Anyway, I don't want the place too sanitary. A little blood and sweat lends to the atmosphere."

One wonders if he means the astral. Does he need to aspect this place toward (measured) violence?

"A mop and broom are good tools too," he continues. "Say one of your kids wins a fight. What's the biggest danger? A big head. Overconfidence. So you put a mop in his hand and bring him back down to earth. A brush and a bucket will save your life." He nods to himself, lost in thought for a moment.

"Cage fights? Yes, although I hadn't considered the question of bets." He ponders this for a moment. "Usually you get rival factions, but better to settle it in here with rules than on the streets with no rules."

You inform him that there are no more factions, that Urubia's alliance is the only game in town. He considers this.

"Well that's good for stability, at least. And if the Halloweeners want to burn me?" He shrugs, looking around. "The floor is concrete, the walls are cinderblocks, and the contents are iron. Not a lot to burn around here."
"You'd be surprised what they get to burn - especially with Nightmare as their leader. But whatever, it's your gig, you call the shots.
So, that leaves getting the word out. We could show you in a cage match with a gorilla. Worked for us when Mato fought a bear. Besides, I wanted to advance a bit in the art anyway. You all up for some promo shots?"

Bobby replied. He wasn't sharing Cutty's confidence, but as a fellow soldier, he felt compelled to give him as much support as he could - within reason.
AM thanks Bobby for the water, but let the men talk. Feeling out of her element, she listens intently when Jawsey tells her story. It does not surprise her that it takes a crisis to grow. Or like Jimmy says "Happy people do not check for bombs under their cars".

AM texts the team, implying Jawsey >> We have a fancy drone but we still haven't changed the ownership, perhaps Jawsey's Brain Eater friend has the right connections to do so? We kind of forgot about it with all the work we had, but having Cutty's place so close to ours we can set our drone to patrol his place as well. To make his start smoother.

AM says "The Haloweeners are on a leash, and they would burn our home before they burn yours. Urubia is the new boss in town, but as the Yakuza are inside it seems like things stay the same in the front end which means paying to Andru in that monthly ritual of his. I can introduce you, or you can wait for the man to approach you, but I expect someone to arrive soon. About Andru, he keeps his chaos under a screen of etiquette and reason and is a pleasant person to deal with as long as you understand your situation.

She also comments "In retrospect, the promotional video was the wrong kind of advertisement for a business where discreet word-of-mouth is the preferred method of marketing. None of us was good at running a business at the time, we learn by doing. It may work for you, but if you advertise, do it for something concrete like a tournament for the Club's Championship. There are many violent people that are not allowed to terrorize random people anymore, so they need some organized way to vent their aggression. If they come to fight in your event, they may come again afterward to improve their skills and technique or just to relax."

She looks at Bobby and comments "If Bobby participates the event would be more successful as many of these gangers would pay for a chance to give him a bloody nose. On the other hand, not sure if it fits your vision of this place. Regardless, a big opening event may help you get on track with expenses, and give you the air you need to establish your clientele. "
"Thank you for the lay of the land," Cutty tells AM, nodding along to her description of neighborhood politics.

"I'm not really interested in the circus," he admits to Bobby, looking almost apologetic. "This isn't an entertainment venue. The goal is self-improvement.

"I need to be open for a bit. Get some people in the doors, acquaint them with how things are done in here. Give me some time to figure things out and not embarrass myself. I don't need to turn a profit the first month. I think I can make it a year if I live on krill and MREs.

"Calendar-wise, I'm already ahead of schedule thanks to all your help. Let's treat January as a soft opening, shall we? Maybe we can do an event at the end of the month. January 27th is Dunkelzhan's birthday. Well, not birthday but the day he woke up. That's usually a good excuse for a party."

Cutty moves toward the boxing ring and invites Bobby inside.

"In the meantime, I'll live up to my end of the bargain. I haven't worked with a lot of civilians before. I need to work out some of the kinks, like not swearing at people like they're privates in the SDF."
Once the conversation is over, AM takes off her coat, leaving herself with an oversized t-shirt, that exposes just how thin her hands really are. The keen observer would notice that compared to herself she feels healthier, she looks weak and unimpressive but she no longer looks like she is about to break. Good nutrition of the last months and some physical exercise have done her well. Without any ceremony, she decides to vents all of her frustrations on the misfortune of her life on one of the punching bags. What she lacks in technique she makes up for in passion, but somehow she is frustrated with how it seems to hurt her more than the impact on the bag. Frustrated, she decides to cast the growth spell without the prescribed reagents because reagents are expensive. She knows that the drain would ripple and hurt her from the inside but she does not mind feeling pain. She expects a massive ripple of pain, but she barely feels the spell's drain.

The Spider knows how to be generous when I am true to myself, and he is wiser and has a superior perspective. He is a benevolent force of reality that is difficult to worship, and out of all people he chose me. Not because I was weak, but because he saw the strength in me. Because I accepted reality for what it really is, and did not sugarcoat it with faith. I knew that Totems are not just benefactors gifting their followers with gifts, that they are also your tormentor, trainers and at some cases your executioners. Getting close to a great spirit is the peek aspiration of any Shaman, I am the vessel for gifting the world with the wisdom of the great Spider spirit. I need not fight it, I need to embrace it - I am strong. These are my life now for good or for ill. Cursed or not cursed, I will not stop being who I am.

She punches that bag with all of her augmented strength and dexterity, feeling the joy and thrill of having the physical capabilities to actually fight. "and I should do that more often..." she thinks with a genuine smile on her face. Not caring at all how ridiculous she may look to the professional fighters in the room.

[ Spoiler ]
As Bobby and Cutty prepare to go into the ring, Jawsey muses. "You know, if your training is all that, pulling in some second or third tier dangers and training them to be more effective fighters might be good word of mouth? They win a fight or two and others are going to want what they have, you know? And if you don't offer fighting training to those who who don't show some discipline in here, your results will seem all the more impressive because the ones that you are not training are not apt to be disciplined enough to replicate anything like it on their own. I don't know what that ends up doing to gang dynamics, but it might work out for you?"
"Don't worry about the swearing. Just don't be surprised about my clumsy coordination. I'm more used to fight in animal form. Okichitaw is surprisingly useful on four legs with claws. Ironically that means my leg work in human form is somewhat atrocious."
Bobby had taken the opening stance, forming claws with his hands as if he was wielding a dagger or an ice pick. Less reach than a straight long knife, but enormours power and armor penetration if you could hit. Simple cuts did little against armored opponents while they were devatating to the unarmored.
As Bobby began circling, he hunched down instinctively, providing less of a target and lowering his center of gravity, but once again reducing his own reach somewhat and forcing him to move more quickly to compensate. But even if he had neglected everything else about his body, his stamina was excellent.
"And yes, Jawsey is likely right. Giving the underdogs a chance first will shake things up. Blood will flow, one way or the other."
Cutty doesn't really react to the claws. You get the sense that he's seem some drek in 20 years in the SDF.

Bobby and Cutty circle engage with each other for a few minutes. The two are equally quick - and Bobby enjoys flashes of competitiveness when he temporarily boosts his coordination and dexterity - but experienced eyes would clearly identify Cutty as the more accomplished fighter... in human form, at least. Finally, after three minutes of back-and-forth, a buzzer sounds.

"Good!" Cutty declares, clearly impressed. "You could be teaching these classes." Then after a moment of consideration, "You could teach these classes." That seems to be an offer.

"Your fundamentals are sound. You're right that you're battling your own instincts, or at least your own experiences in other forms, but that could be overcome with patience and time."

He sips some water during the break. "Tolstoy said that the two most powerful warriors are patience and time. I reckon he was right. Or, at least he was until elves and immortals came along." He gives a laugh.

"There's not much to correct," he tells Bobby, setting down his water. "I can show you some new things, but it's more about building on what you already have. Your foundation is solid. Now it's just about adding tools to your tool bag. Here, let me show you. If your claws are in a straight-blade configuration like that, then you might want to consider this..." He goes on to demonstrate several strikes that attack the vital organs for when you need to put someone down (or underground) in a hurry.

Once the lesson is complete, Cutty nods to what Jawsey is saying.

"I'm picking up what you're laying down. Yeah, I think that might be a good way to go. January will be for free samples and word of mouth. Hopefully by February people will know who we are.

"But, even after that, this isn't a cash cow. I think it will be a pay-what-you-can model. I'm not going to turn away some 12-year-old kid because she can only scrounge up ¥1 instead of ¥5. She can work for the rest of it."
The thought hangs in the air for a moment before Cutty realizes that it sounds improper. "Scrubbing latrines will save your soul," he clarifies.

Cutty watches AM hit the bags. Jawsey and Bobby notice that his eyes go unfocused for a moment. A shift to the astral confirms that a qi tattoo is active and letting Cutty astrally perceive. On the astral plane, the tattoos glow like neon. In the mundane world, Cutty's skin is so dark that they don't show up at all. He nods as he watches her.

"Who's next?" he asks Jawsey and AM. To Jawsey: "I'm happy to show you some things you can do with that cane, if you're interested." To AM: "We can work with your fists or your firearm, your choice."
Jawsey shrugs, and admits "I don't really know much about using the cane as a weapon. Mostly I did a week of fencing lessons a few years back, and got in some practice on adapting to the cane grip when I got this. I presume you saw that the handle has an aura -- the blade in the cane is a weak weak weapon focus, but it only acts that way when I extract the blade. The rest of the cane covering the blade doesn't seem to let the magic work. I carry it for use in the astral, where the reach helps even things up with spirits. If the background doesn't inactivate it." That last sentence is muttered mostly to himself.

With a practiced set of motions he extracts the blade, and then carries on "Right now with a cane I might be able to scare a more sedentary wage mage, with the blade out I might hold off a fifteen year old ganger with a knife. I suppose that some of the techniques would be similar with either cane or blade? Certainly sometimes I'm carrying an ordinary cane, or for some reason shouldn't pull the blade. Although I don't much see myself trying to hurt anyone with a melee weapon. More like try to throw them off their game enough that they are not as quick at hurting me as they might otherwise be, hopefully letting a colleague or spirit save me. Anyway, you are the expert, I'll endeavor to learn whichever you would rather teach."

"One additional thing, because I suspect you'll spot it soon enough. Twisting my back to the right hurts noticeably. Doing it a lot tends to make my right leg shaky. It isn't too bad doing it in a controlled way while doing yoga, but it is the sort of thing that I'm sure could be a vulnerability in a longer fight -- one of the reasons I prefer to avoid being in fights."
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