Season 2, Chapter 3
Yes, I'm really doing it. lol
What do they uncover during this initial investigation? Rolling on that table: 15 92 18.
And has Locke heard of Shiningstar before? It's mostly directing how I write the fiction. Unlikely, 25-: .... 5. Yup. Pretty sure he has. lol
I'd heard of Shiningstar. Never needed to make a visit myself—luckily—but they were known throughout the Salvi Pass, and most of the Forge, for their specialization in medicine. They had the most up-to-date research and techniques involving medical care, and they did their best to share that with everyone. A huge non-profit, essentially. Of the big corps in the Salvi Pass, I trusted this one the most.
As we prepared to leave, I pulled up some more info. They were in more than one environmental publication, the amount of greenery on board eliciting rave reviews. "They make health seem so fresh and natural, a change of pace from our high-tech realities," one publication said. One of them mentioned a large donation from a "top-secret donor." It was their research that had cured multiple diseases throughout the Forge and made sure prices were stable and affordable. What each settlement did with those resources, however, wasn't in their control.
"Was Lestrade injured? Or, was someone she knew injured?" I asked John as I double-checked the exterior damage of the Scarlet Adler before we took off. I didn't want to run into any surprises on the way there.
"Nope. Someone just said that she said it was urgent. She was gone shortly after."
I looked to the sky above Portent.
What the hell was going on?
// Set a Course
+3 => 9 vs 3,6. Strong hit! Nice.
+1 momentum [10, max]. Looks like that momentum I forgot is irrelevant.
Gonna roll a d100 to see how many hours it'll take to get to Shiningstar. 61, so about two and a half days.
"And you're sure nothing strange is happening on New Bohemia?"
"Yes, bae," Ira said, doing his best to reassure me. I believed him, but I couldn't shake the feeling that a new conspiracy was brewing. I had filled him in on what we discovered in Portent, but that didn't immediately raise any red flags for him. I was the only one anticipating the other shoe to drop.
Does Ira know anything about Shiningstar? Unlikely (25-): 21. Ooooh.
Let me roll up one more thing from that list.
40: Shiningstar sends out established healers and trainees to various settlements and provides healing for free. They often simply ask for small donations or lodging while they do their work.
Ira also knew of Shiningstar. He'd told me of a time they were sent a healer after one of their missions. They hadn't asked any questions when they arrived and helped out an individual who was very clearly Branded. "Of course, we tipped them greatly and they went on their way like it was a regular day."
"Seems like the kind of place that answers an S.O.S., not sends out one."
"Yeah. Be careful," Ira said.
"I will...my love." That was new for me. Ira smirked.
We said our goodbyes, and I joined John in the cockpit.
It only took us two and a half days of jumps through space before we arrived at Shiningstar. I hoped that if Lestrade was in trouble, we were close behind.
As Shiningstar came into view, it only confirmed my initial description: a giant whale. Jagged corners and random lumps served unknown purposes and gave the settlement mass beyond belief. We could probably spend a week in there exploring and barely scratch the surface. I pointed out the docking bay off to the side and we began making our preparations to board.
A small handful of ships were docked, though it didn't look as if anyone had tended to any of them in some time. From my initial observation, maybe a week? It was hard to tell. Watt beeped and whirred, forcing a window on the cockpit's monitor to appear.
"The air is low—in quantity and quality," John read out loud. "That's odd. You'd think with all the plants it'd be abundant and fresh."
"Of course," I said. "Something else off. Let's just suit up and find Lestrade."
During my stay on New Bohemia with Ira and Legacy, they fashioned me a new Mimic suit since I "carelessly" abandoned it during my escape through the Salvi Sigil. "I had to leave it! They were gaining on me," I had said.
This one was similar to the last one: all black and nondescript, with a helmet fashioned with various functions and utilities. It felt sturdier, though, like it was of much higher quality. Thanks to Legacy's many connections, it was comprised of nanobots. I could don and doff it within seconds, and would never have the need to "leave it" anywhere again. On the off chance that I was captured, the nanobots could either be sent away or produce electrical shocks to "prove" I was merely a Mimic. And as an added benefit, I could easily change the colors and design of the way it looked, eliminating the need to keep a non-Mimic suit on hand.
Science is cool.
John had a similar suit. He currently had an all-black design, accented with horizontal white lines that faded from the front toward the back. His arms had an almost smoky look to them. He kind of looked like the wind.
I thought about putting little lightning bolts on mine for just a moment.
Maybe one day.
We exited the Scarlet Adler, eyes peeled for anything unexpected. It was quiet, much more so than I would expect from a settlement of this size. There was the standard background noise, which most people would forget existed given a short stay. But typically there was more.
Shiningstar seemed...almost dead.
A map on the wall revealed Shiningstar's original purpose. It was never supposed to be what it had become, a beacon of medical advancement. Though, one could argue that it was still a beacon of life: it was one of the original generation ships, refashioned and repurposed. I took a moment to take it all in. I wondered just what it was like originally, with its crew and passengers leaving behind our home world and—most of—Malice behind.
John and I stepped foot into the interior proper and we were met with flickering lights. A garbled A.I. voice greeted us: "WE—OME TO SHI—GSTAR." John and I switched on the headlamps embedded into our helmets and illuminated the chaos before us.
John grabbed my arm, his other hand pointing to the wall before us.
I took a careful step forward, John watching my back. It looked like whatever it was wanted to get out. Five lines, thick.
No, not claws.
Some were embedded within the metallic wall. Dried blotches of blood coagulated within the markings.
Then the smell hit. Pungent.
Something was dead—or dying. Blood splatter coated the walls, and debris littered the ground. This settlement was no longer habitable. It was derelict, abandoned, and forgotten.
"Oh shit is that—" I could hear John gulp.
A body. Actually, multiple in the distance. They were torn apart and—
Covered in vines?
// Undertake an Expedition
Setting this as a Troublesome expedition. Don't wanna get too crazy with this. Already got two vows running.
+2 (shadow; to stay not draw any attention onto ourselves) => ...
"What the hell is going on here?" I was bewildered, to say the least. Shiningstar was supposed to be a shining, pristine settlement, full of life and hope. It was the exact opposite now, dim, dirty, and hopeless, full of death and decay. And—
My eyes widened. I could tell that John saw it too.
I gestured for John to be quiet and careful. He nodded, and we began making our way down a dimly lit hallway. Medical supplies littered the ground. Most used and bloody. An open container of pills created a small minefield in our path. I held my breath and stepped carefully around—
John kicked the pill bottle, the sound consuming the silence. The Risen looked at us, its grisly visage illuminated by our headlamps. It had been human some time ago, probably a male by the short, crinkly, dry hair that remained on its head, but now its skin had shrunken like plastic wrap over its bones. Sickly green veins pulsed beneath its skin and lifeless gray eyes looked at us with ill intent. Half its tongue was missing, and the rest—a sickly black and green color—drooped from what remained of its jaw.
I could only utter a single word before it charged.
// Undertake an Expedition result
4 vs ... 4, 10. Yikes. A Miss.
I wanted a Waypoint or Peril, but they don’t fit because we’re right by the entrance. So, gonna grab a Feature, 37: Used medicine or medical equipment.
// Enter the Fray
+1 (heart; I think this is against our foe, right?) => 3 vs 8, 10. Doesn't matter what stat I picked, it was gonna be a Miss anyway. lol
I felt the air around us shift. I knew I needed to act, too. I let the lightning within me rev up as—
Those weren't veins beneath its skin. They were vines. They pulsed rhythmically, a sickly blackish-green ichor coursing through them. And from beneath its fingernails—which were raised to claw at us—the vines snaked out. From the sides of its lifeless eyes, from wounds that never scabbed over, bursting from the pale-green skin—the vines snaked out of them.
One vine ended in something that reminded me of a sunflower, an odd sight amidst the chaos.
This Risen was nothing like the one I'd seen on the derelict with Akim. These were fast, and why were there plants—
Oh, fuck, right. It was charging at us. I reached for my metallic bo staff and extended it, bringing it up just in time to clash with the creature. It reached out at us, scratching and clawing for my head.
+3 (iron) => 6 vs 3, 8. Weak hit.
Hmmm.... I may regret this, but what the hell. I don't want to be stuck in Bad Spot Hell, so I'm going to burn my momentum here. I've got 10, so this becomes 10 vs 3, 8, a Strong Hit.
And I'll mark progress twice against this Dangerous Shiningstar Risen [4/10]
I pushed it back with help from John and it fell to the floor in a heap. The air shifted again, this time pushing me forward. We'd practiced this maneuver, giving me a boost in speed. I raised the staff high and charged for the Risen while it was down. Lightning pulsed from within, charging the staff. It crackled with power as I bought it down onto the creature's head.
+3 (iron) + 2 (Lightningbranded) = +5 => 9 vs 1, 2. Strong hit.
-1 Lightning 
Mark progress twice [8/10]
Its head flew, but the body still writhed. I felt the air shift again and I pressed myself to the wall. The head rolled away from us before being sucked back along with its off-balance body. John whipped the air into a mini-cyclone and I approached.
I bought the staff onto the floating head and crushed the skull in, then proceeded to do the same with the body.
// Take Decisive Action
8 vs 2, 3. Strong hit.
+1 momentum 
The Risen stopped moving eventually. It took longer for the vines snaking out of it to cease. They kept reaching for John and I, as if possessed with the same ravenous hunger as their host.
When it stopped, I looked at John, our faces visible to each other despite our helmet's tint.
"What the hell is going on here?!" he exclaimed.
"Yet another conspiracy."
Wanna know what's in store for Locke and John on Shiningstar?
Check out Eric's playthrough over at The Dragon's Den!
And go through the adventure yourself here:
More amazing solo creators!
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