Season 2, Chapter 4
// Undertake An Expedition
+2 (wits) => 3 vs 2, 3. Weak hit.
Let’s use prerolled waypoint #2.
What’s the peril? Action+Theme: 64, 07: Manipulate Belief. Hmmmm...
Oh, also, because we've made 3 Progress, we learn the first three points in the What You Discover table.
A large corridor loomed endlessly before us. Red backup safety lights flickered without rhythm, casting odd shadows. My heart tried its best to escape its prison, eager to flee to safety. My eyes darted all over, vigilant of any danger—real or conceived. The ship was still oddly silent, save for a few creaks and groans of metal on metal. The air was pungent, filled with decay and earthly overtones.
I stepped carefully over half-eaten remains as we walked down the corridor, Watt and our headlamps did their best to illuminate the path in places the emergency lightning dare not touch. This place was an un-living nightmare. I couldn't have imagined a worst possible place to be at that moment. But, as a Bleeding Heart, I had a job to do.
The area gave off the impression that it was used for housing some of the residents and staff. Many of the doors were shut, but more than a few were bent either inward or outward.
As if something was trying to get through.
"I don't like this, Locke," John said with his pistol at the ready. I gripped my bo staff tighter. "This is the last place I'd expect walking dead bodies. Why are there Risen here? "
"No idea. Is Lestrade even here?"
I hated this—not knowing, the uncertainty of it all, the dread that something else was about to happen. It was beginning to feel more and more like a trap. But by who? For who?
Against our better judgment, we decided to divide and conquer. There were plenty of rooms and, presumably, not enough time. Perhaps one of them would give us some insight into what we were dealing with. The undamaged doors were fairly easy to get into. Those rooms, however, did not provide us with much information once inside. That large donation I'd read about was apparently by someone named Ash Durant, and—typical of human hubris—they wanted Shiningstar to find the secret to immortality.
Johnathan found a few photos taken by the inhabitants. They had captured a gorgeous view of a strange glowing planet, one I couldn't recall ever seeing before. From the looks of it, the photos were taken at an observation deck somewhere within Shiningstar. Even from orbit, I could tell the planet was lush with greenery. It looked calm and serene, inviting and alluring.
The exact opposite of what we were experiencing now.
"I think they stopped by and took some of the plants from there," John added. "Two of the rooms had dead plants with these photos near them. Could explain why all the Risen have plants and vines and stuff coming out of them."
"Makes sense. I found this," I said, handing him what looked to be a folder of top-secret information. On the cover was simply "ALEX," most likely a codename. "I think this was the immortality project."
John skimmed through a few of the pages with trained precision. "Yeah, seems like it. It was led by one of the head doctors here, a Dr. Hendrix. Looks like they managed to find what they were looking for—the key to immortality—by using the plants from that planet. How did they manage to—"
A noise further down the corridor caught our attention. I froze in place. Johnathan's hands moved like the wind. Watt was holding the folder with a clawed hand that had jutted out, while John readied his gun once more. It was moving, fast, knocking over everything in its path. Had we alerted a Risen to our location? It was getting closer and closer to the junction connecting this section of Shiningstar to the next. When I regained control of my bodily functions, I braced myself for the Risen that would inevitably burst forth, gripping the bo staff.
The stumbling body appeared. Watt beeped loudly. I heard John's pistol fire two shots as I chased them down to deliver a re-killing blow.
// Face Danger
+2 (wits; to NOT hit the thing that actually appeared) => 4 vs 10, 10.
Remember how the Peril was "Manipulate Belief"?
I had interpreted that as being "what you are about to attack is not what you thought it was."
Guess what they just attacked?
Sorry, not what.
The body hit the floor and stopped moving. I raised my staff—
I skidded to a stop and my eyes widened. John cursed loudly.
"LESTRADE!" we cried out in unison, Watt beeping continuously in the background.
We dashed to her side. I propped her head up while John looked at the wound. His S.P.D. medical training kicked in—he even adjusted the way I was holding her head. She was definitely injured, but not too badly—luckily.
"Oh shit, I'm so sorry Les—" John stopped himself, and his entire demeanor changed. The annoying little brother/sidekick was replaced with a confident and sturdy young man. His Ripley Slater disguise was perfect; he didn't even look the same. If I hadn't known both sides of him, I would swear they were two different people. "I'm so sorry, Special Agent Lestrade. We thought you were a Risen. My apologies, ma'am."
// Test Your Relationship
We kinda just shot Lestrade. We are also rescuing her, though, so maybe that'll even it out. lol May be able to use John's reroll here as well.
+1 (heart) => 6 vs 1, 5. Strong hit! Wh00t!
+1 progress to the Lestrade connection track [2/10]
She groaned as we helped her to her feet. The bullet didn't pierce her suit, but I could tell she was going to be sore for days. "It's alright, Slater. I would've done the same. Wait...Slater?" She looked between the two of us. "What are you two doing here?"
"We arrived on Saffron, ma'am, and heard that you'd been missing. I asked around and discovered you had come to Shiningstar, so we came to give you some backup," John said.
"Good work, aside from shooting me," she said with a smirk.
Let’s roll on the Story Complication table for that match. 97…. roll twice. FUUUUUCCCCCKKKK.
38, 9: Old enemy resurfaces, Debt or promise comes due.
So, the debt or promise comes due instantly makes me think of Diogenes, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to bring them in finally.
"Speaking of the change in power, Lestrade, who—"
BEEOOP. BEEOOP. BEEOOP.
I'd never heard this particular beeping sound from Watt before. It commanded all of our attention. A bright yellow and red warning sign consumed his screen. I couldn't recall ever seeing that before, either. What the hell was going on with him?
A crystal-clear holographic form projected before me of an imposing woman in a crisp dark-blue suit and sharp eyes. My eyes widened.
"Locke Holmes," she said curtly. It seemed to be pre-recorded. "I need to speak with you, immediately. You've become quite popular throughout the Salvi Pass. It's a shame that you haven't made time for your debts. Well, I've come to collect. You know where to find me."
The transmission ended just as abruptly as it had begun. I cut a glance to John. The Ripley persona briefly cracked as the terrified boy emerged. Luckily, Lestrade didn't seem to notice.
"Who was that?" she asked. "And you're in debt, Holmes?"
"Long story. No time for that now. Let's just get you the hell out of here."
Now... old enemy resurfaces?
Reader, I went back and forth with this for a few days. My initial thought was that the old enemy...
...was Akim Salvi.
I mean, think about it: on Shiningstar, the settlement that cracked immortality and heals everyone, why wouldn't it be Akim they find, nursed back to health? Talk about a conspiracy!
I thought it was going to be clever, but I hated how it undid some of the character development that happened with Locke already, like the visions in the desert. I couldn't comfortably move forward with bringing back Akim, not like this anyway.
So, I thought about it some more.
And fucking gasped.
When I wrote Rise & Shiningstar, I rolled pretty much all of it randomly. It was never supposed to be part of the Thunderfang story, but could be slotted in if I wanted to do some cool cross promo, which... uh... is working, I guess?
But—BUT!—there is this thing the dice like to do when I play Thunderfang. It makes seemingly random connections with things and puts Locke in a very, very awkward position. Even things that were never supposed to connect.
Reader, can you guess what is about to happen?
John was Ripley once more and we both helped steady Lestrade, her arms around our necks. Our mission complete, we began to head back the way we came to the Scarlet Adler. I hoped there were no more surprises. I didn't want to run into another Risen with an injured Lestrade. John nor I would have access to our Branding now that she was here. We would be at a disadvantage. We needed to leave immediately. There was no reason to linger any furth—
No...No no NO!
I hadn't paid any attention to the walls when we first traversed the corridor, focused solely on learning about what happened here and finding Lestrade. Now that we had done both of those things, I had let my eyes wander on the way out. I was still a detective, after all. I needed all the clues I could get. All the pieces to the puzzle.
What detective would have missed this?
This particular corridor was lined with framed photos of the various personnel here. Some had been destroyed in the chaos. There was one of Ash Durant, though he wasn't labeled as their top donor. Others had survived with cracks and blood splatter.
One, in particular, stood out to me. I stopped moving in front of it, eyes glued on the figure within.
Run. Why? Fight. NO! Fear and confusion and rage and helplessness fought for control.
"Ripley," I said. I'm sure Lestrade and John could the war raging inside of me in my voice. "What was the name of the doctor who figured out immortality again?"
"Immortality?" Lestrade looked between us. "That's what they were doing here? Of-fucking-course. Might explain the Risen."
"I think their name was Dr. Hendrix. Why?"
Before me, mostly intact, was a photo of a woman. Maybe in her fifties. She didn't smile, despite it being an official company photo. She ran the place, it seemed. Perhaps she was trying to give off an air of superiority or grandiosity. If I hadn't recognized the face, she could have passed for stoic. Guarded.
To me, she looked annoyed.
"Dr. Ashley Hendrix..." I swallowed hard.
It took a moment for the name to sink in, but John cursed once more. "You have got to be kidding me."
She looked just like she did in my vision.
The one where I discovered the names and faces of the Benevolent.
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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