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chase

Backstory- Leiyu

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Aoki writhed in the ground in agony as the lightning coursed over him, the smell of scorched flesh and shit surrounded him.   Lynne felt little sympathy for the Copper Serpent master- how many had suffered from the toxins in his barbs?  How long had he stalked and threatened her?  As she hovered over him now like a vengeful god meting out justice, ready to launch another storm blast into him, he was almost pitiable. 

Almost.  Tonight the tormenter dies.

It came to her as naturally as breathing now- she drew deep into the wellspring of power that hung around her neck, let it flow into her heart to her shoulders, and down her arms- an electric charge that would stop the heart of anyone not shielded from it.  She aimed.

Then she saw the old lady standing in the doorway of her shop, watching her.  All thought of murder disappeared.  She glided to the old woman, her feet never touching the ground. 

“You.” 

Lynne's hand gravitated to the necklace under her dress.   She kept enough presence of mind to keep her voice low and carefully choose her words, lest her accent show through. “You’re the one that gave me...”

“… your name.” the old woman interrupted, looking around the alley before gesturing her inside.  “Yes.  The reporters wanted a name for you.. Leiyu.  Thunderstorm, in my homeland, though they lost something in the translation.”

She gestured her inside. 

“Come.  The police will be here soon.  They’ll take care of Aoki.”

She didn’t think to ask how the old lady knew his name- or her- or why the raging thing that drove her to hunt members of the Tsoo every night was suddenly silent.   This was the woman who gave the necklace to her. 

The shop was just as she’d expected- crowded and jumbled with both ancient and modern.  Part apothecary, part curio, part used electronics with some bicycles hanging from a side aisle.   The back wall was filled with faded photos, each in its own hand-carved frame that appeared more timeless than they were.   The old lady scanned over the wall before pulling one down and studying it. 

“You look so much like her.  My Leiyu.”

It had once been a black-and-white picture, but the black had long ago faded to brown, and then to rust, like blood on a bandage.   Soldiers- uniforms suggested Japanese, second world war era.  Probably mainland occupation forces.   They scrambled- both running to and running from a lady in a conical rice hat and cheongsam, not unlike her own attire.    Although an untrained eye would mistake the white extending from her as parts lost to age and wear, she knew that was the blinding glow of electricity coursing off her as she hovered in the air.

“He still demands tradition, I see.” The old woman muttered, gesturing at Lynne’s garb.  Neither needed elaboration on who “he” was. 

She forced a smile.  “I did my best to convince him of the benefits of Kevlar and tactical garb, but he’d melt or fry anything but silk.   Doesn’t really protect much.   I was lucky enough to win the argument for the mask and wig.”

The old lady had slipped into the back of the shop.  

Part of her wanted to take the necklace off and leave it there.  Just pretend that the past few weeks never happened, but another part of her knew that the only way out of her situation was through the power this artifact provided, and she’d cling to it to her last breath to keep that hope alive.

“Why give this to me?”  The words came out before she’d even thought them.

The old lady reappeared, this time holding a sun-bleached plastic milk crate full pictures, both old and very new.   She browsed through, grabbed a few and passed them over.   It took a moment for Lynne to recognize her father and uncle at various ages.  Another with her grandmother. 

“When a family has lost its way- lost its honor- it looks to their elders for guidance, but the elders look to the young for action.”

A few months ago, Lynne might have scoffed at such sayings.  Family- at least in the sense of a traditional Chinese extended family and lineage- was alien to her.   On her father’s death, her mother had taken their two girls out of Chinatown and into one of Liverpool’s suburbs, hoping to escape the underworld that claimed his life.  She’d been raised with little exposure- even active disdain for the tradition and culture that the crime syndicates embraced.   Even the spelling of her name changed to distance herself from her heritage.

That was before her uncle came with the proverbial “offer she couldn’t refuse” during the last undergraduate year.      He wasn’t just in the crime syndicate- he embodied it- rising to power and building alliances with Tub Ci- folding local syndicates into the Tsoo’s international operations. 

Syndicates have long built alliances in the same way the great houses did centuries before- through the exchange of hostages.  Sure, they called them squires or wards or marriages of convenience- and in many ways those that were exchanged could flourish and grow to prominence in the foreign land, but it also served as insurance that everyone acted in good faith, lest they lose a loved one.   Despite being an early and fervent supporter of Tub Ci’s unification wars, her uncle had no family to exchange, so as other groups sent their best and brightest to serve directly under Tub Ci and strengthen their bond, he became marginalized.

It hadn’t been a particularly amicable reunion- her uncle didn’t even bother to try to convince her to participate willingly.  He just gave her an ultimatum:  serve as his exchange to Tub Ci, or he’d send her off with the other girls he trafficked to the states, make the same offer to her sister, and with no more family to tend to, he’d make sure her mother didn’t “outlive her purpose.” It wasn’t a hard decision.  Now here she was, in the states illegally, assailed by tradition and hollow honor and toxic family ties, but also driven to persevere for the only family that mattered.

“He’s always so angry.” She said, not quite sure who she was referring to- the spirit in the necklace, Tub Ci, or her uncle.  

“The patriarch spent a lifetime amassing the family’s fortune so they could govern and protect their people, only to see them become predators and abusers.  He… he knows nothing but anger.”

She’d seen that.   For the first few weeks, it just seemed random- go out at night, find Tsoo agents, neutralize them.    More recently, it wanted her to gather intel during the day that they could act on at night, dismantling or disrupting operations in a way that made it very difficult to keep her participation secret.   She’d come to realize that the spirit cared very little about her own survival- if she wanted protection, she’d have to fight for that herself.

 “I dun tink” her accent came out heavy as she almost broke down. “I dun think I can change this.  I can’t win. Not alone.”

The old lady wouldn’t make eye contact, but just stared at the picture of her Leiyu,   Her voice was troubled. Lynne got the distinct impression that the picture was the last time she ever saw her Leiyu alive.  “Honor is won in the battle, not the outcome of the war.”  

She closed her eyes. 

Anger welled inside her- not HIS anger this time, but hers.  Anger at being controlled, being betrayed, being trapped in an unwinnable war. Being expected to give up everything for what?  For the goals of others.   She was trapped in Tub Ci’s expectations that she learn to be a worthwhile member of his crime syndicate.  She was trapped by an uncle that kept her family hostage unless she fulfill his need as liasian to the tsoo.   Now she’s got the conflicting expectations of an overbearing “patriarch” spirit to fight his war.   Any wrong move and she’d be dead, as would her mother and sister.  

When she opened he eyes the old lady was gone.  The shop was gone.  She was in an empty storefront with windows so grimy that she couldn’t see more than the flashers of PPD’s finest illuminating the dirt. 

She could feel the angry one returning, but knew his attention was still not on her.

She shook her head.  Had she hallucinated it all?  Did her mind have some dissociative break to prevent her from killing Aoki?  As probable as that sounded, she still held a photo in her hand-  her grandmother holding her father when he was at most 6 years old.

*Maybe… maybe there’s more to this than one vengeful spirit.*

*Maybe I’m not as alone as I thought.*

She took the back exit and drifted into the night, searching for another target. The angry one was watching again.  More Tsoo would feel the wrath of Leiyu tonight.

Edited by chase
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Leiyu

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In-Game Bio
Not much is known about the heroine Leiyu except for the contradictions. She battles the Tsoo, but emulates many of their traditions.  She exhibits merciless rage one moment, and soft compassion a moment later.   She often enters battle with a thunderous explosion, but rarely speaks. 
The most likely phrase you'll ever hear from her is a raspy whisper that's both a command and a warning, "Stay away."  

 

RP Hooks 
- Those with mage sight can detect the presence of a powerful artifact worn as a necklace. They may also detect signs of spirit possession.  
- PPD intel is torn on whether her "tsoo" focus is heroically-driven or possibly internal power struggle. 
- Those that do get her to speak more will catch a elements of an accent  but not from anything asian.  (If they're really good, its Scouse- she's from the Liverpool area) 

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