• Quest Friends!

Ep. 28: Questionable Measures, Part 10

Updated: Apr 29, 2019

Elee has a heart-to-heart with her daughter. Xoc makes some new enemies. It is unclear which is worse.

Listen as our heroes:

PREPARE to Soe!

WATCH a terrifying new villain, so you don't have to!

DROP some truth bombs!

Content Warnings: Panic Attacks, Disturbing Imagery, Abrasive SFX (4:45)

TRANSCRIPT (Downloadable Version)

Kyle

Hey everyone, it’s Kyle here at the beginning again. We got some really positive feedback about our content warning last week, and because of that we’re just going to make that a thing now. So if you ever want to check in about content warnings, either about things that might be potentially triggering for some folks, or for things that might pose issues if you have certain disabilities, please check the description below. All our content warnings will be written below that kind of basic description of the episode.


Previously, on Quest Friends…


[Opening theme, “Friends” by Miracle of Sound, begins.]


Emily (as Elee)

Soe’s not coming on any adventures. Adventures are dangerous. I don’t want any of you dragging her off on crazy capers.


Kyle (as Throat-Knife Lady)

I need someone to watch my baby!


Emily (as Elee)

I could watch it for a minute.


Kyle

Mauve is going to turn over and say:


Kyle (as Mauve)

Well, you’re a real natural at this, aren’t you?


Emily (as Elee)

Tell you what—I’m going to go in front of the float. There’s our plan. I made a plan.


Kyle (as Soe)

Oh no, oh no! I can’t--I can’t find an injury! I can’t find any injury!


Tom (as Xoc)

Behold! The Elee Badge, impervious to damage and insurance scams.


Kyle (as Tommy Funbuck)

And you should know of course, every time you showcase an object, we’ve got to test it out.


Ari (as Misha)

If things go wrong or start to get wrong, yell at me as soon as you can.


Tom (as Xoc)

I will…


Tom

Xoc lies.


[Opening theme intensifies, transitions into hard, edgy music.]


Kyle (as announcer)

In Roulettia, anyone with capital can scratch their way to the top. But why push your way up off those bottom-feeding slackers when you can gain investments from those already at the top? The Great Vespari pulls magic out of rudimentary tricks, selling out shows across the Steadfast that showcase nothing amazing. Lorraine Stiles made her fortune selling off-brand artifacts to the town of Cartesian after a reckless accountant failed to play the odds. And of course, Tommy Funbuck built up the city of Roulettia, innovating cutthroat maneuvers from metaphor to reality. Together, they’ll hear pitches from mogul hopefuls and determine whether they want to invest. Will our contestants’ pitches swim, or will they get tanked with the trash? Live from Piper’s Pit, it’s Trash Tank.


[Crowd applauds.]


Kyle (as Tommy Funbuck)

Hey everyone, welcome to Trash Tank. My name’s Tommy Funbuck, and today I’m joined by the Great Vespari—


Kyle (as The Great Vespari)

It is I, the Great Vespari.


[Mild clapping]


Kyle (as Tommy Funbuck)

And, uh, Lorraine Stiles.


[Crowd cheers and applauds Lorraine. This applause is sustained as Lorraine introduces herself to the audience.]


Kyle (as Lorraine)

Oh, Tommy, it’s always a pleasure for you to invite me. Oh, what am I thinking, the producers forced you again, didn’t they? Hello everyone. But anyways, it’s not about me and my relative high popularity, it’s about the contestants. Can we get the first one out here?


[Dramatic beat.]


Kyle (as Anne)

Uh, hi, my name is Anne, and today I want to pitch to you the...the Gold--Goldfish. So you take your fish, you know, your pets and your fish, you take them but what if...they made gold, too? So I have this, ugh, no, this is terrible, let me start over again. So you take your fish, and—


[Buzzer sounds.]


Kyle (as the Great Vespari)

Trash.


Kyle (as Anne)

Excuse me, I didn’t finish.


Kyle (as the Great Vespari)

It’s trash. Why would I use magic? It’s trash.


Kyle (as Anne)

Oh, okay, um, I understand Mr. Vespari. Uh, uh,uh, Mr. Funbuck, so if you just look at this—


[Buzzer sounds.]


Kyle (as Tommy Funbuck)

No, I agree, it’s absolute trash. Gold is so tacky. I only demand platinum. And why would I want to be giving out gold to everyone else on the street? That is not cool, my dude. People need to make their money by themselves. This idea is absolutely trash.


Kyle (as Anne)

Uh, b-b-but, well, um, Ms. Stiles?


Kyle (as Lorraine)

Listen, Anne, your little Goldfish thing is adorable. It’s cute. But you already did your first attempt at the pitch, and you had to do it again? I know you are passionate about your idea, but ultimately you’re just a little leaping goldfish, jumping from your tiny pond into an ocean of sharks.


[Dramatic beat.]


Kyle (as Lorraine)

I’m sorry, Anne.


[Buzzer sounds.]


Kyle (as Lorraine)

Your idea is trash.


Kyle (as Anne)

Uh, no, no, no. Please! Uh, okay, no, I understand—


[Loud, horrifying noise. Anne starts screaming in agony. The dramatic music continues.]


[5:00]


Kyle

Violent splashes of water slap across your face, Xoc, as you stare dumbfounded at this projector in the center of the room. This projector operates the same as the Tommy Funbuck statue in the center of this casino. Like a fountain, it shoots up jets of water. But these jets form an image. In the casino, it was of Tommy Funbuck. But now it’s of this television show called Trash Tank. And you watched as the announcer introduced the three judges. You listened as they blatantly disregarded the first contestant’s pitch. And now you feel the water sputter out from the fountain projector, which attempts to take the form of a tornado of trash emerging from underneath the contestant’s feet, shaping itself into a massive trash shark and swallowing her whole. [Long pause] So yeah, a lot has happened since Tommy confronted you at the parade. As you tried to sell Elee off as some invincible grandma product or something like that? What was—I don’t remember what it was, but what would you have named that product? What was the name of the like, invincible grandma?


Tom

The Invincible...Grandma.


Emily

[Laughter]


Kyle

Cool, that’s what it is: Invincible Grandma. Uh, doesn’t just work on grandmas, but also regular old ladies, and regular ladies, and really just anyone. But I’ll let you pitch it, not me. Anyway, so after that point, Tommy wrangled you all up. There was no—it was clear that there was no getting out. Even Mauve was like, I’m going to put down, you know, my sword and just deal with it. And from that point on, Tommy has decided that your pitch was bad. It was a very bad pitch, but it was entertaining. And he wanted to capitalize on that entertainment by putting you all on his deadly TV show, Trash Tank.


[Slick, funky music begins.]


Kyle

So you’re currently in the waiting room of Trash Tank, right outside of the main coliseum space of Piper’s Pit, which made the demise of the previous candidate even more alarming. As you hear her garbled screams from the fountain projector, as well as her muffled screams from the actual stage next door. The room is pretty nice, though. It has the same red carpeting and platinum banister aesthetic of the casino in Funbuck’s Funhouse and Hotel. Leather chairs that you sink a little too much into are scattered all across the room, and they’re all facing the fountain of course. The costumed Mannymates that you saw in the parade are stationed at all the doors, and their t-shirt pistols armed to kill, except to the costumed aneen, which is holding an armed t-shirt bazooka. This costumed aneen is positioned next to a set of double doors that stand at the end of an extravagant staircase and lead towards Tommy’s personal chambers. In addition to the guards, miscellaneous workers and contestants are scattered around the room. Of note, and by that I mean these are the ones that like I might actually reference, you see a woman with a firmly pressed suit and matching lips, holding on to a small artifact with an antenna that bends itself back and forth, like the craning neck of a dog sniffing something out. Vespari’s assistant, the Blue Fairy, has been gliding around the room, but she’s currently standing with a Q-BO monitor. So that was the monitor you talk to Q-BO on, just in case you want to shoot the shit with Q-BO before you die. And in the middle of the couch, Soe, poor Soe, has dug herself so deep into her jacket and tightened up her hood so securely that outside of the lump of fabric, you can only see a few small fingers holding on to Everett’s propeller beanie. Mauve and Everett were recently called in to pitch their product, and Mauve had Soe hold on to the hat because Mauve knew that Everett would try to pitch the hat as his product if she didn’t have someone else hold on to it. So that’s the situation. Mauve and Everett are going to be up next to pitch their product, and you’ve kind of got this lay of this way too nice but also way too heavily guarded waiting room for the TV show Trash Tank. Where are you? What have you been up to?


Emily

I’m hovering around Soe. And by hovering, I mean, you know, not actually hovering. No, I’m not Hoppering.


Kyle

Hoppering is when you’re hovering but you’re shaking your hands the whole time. You’re like, oh God, oh no! Oh no, this is bad. Oh no! That’s Hoppering.


Tom

[Laughter] Um, I think that Xoc is just sort of standing, maybe, by the couch, leaning on his staff, like just staring ahead in a blind panic, because this is so alien for Xoc. And he’s just now starting to grasp—obviously he knew that there was extreme danger when they were first captured. He knew. That’s why he sent Misha and Hopper Scotch away. But it’s starting to dawn on him how ill-prepared he is to deal with something like this. He doesn’t really get what these people want, and absolutely none of them are people he trusts not to kill him at the first opportunity.


Kyle

Before we continue, I want you two to do something for me. We have two perception rolls that are going to happen this episode that I do not want you to know when I’m doing them.


[10:08]


Emily

Oh no!


Kyle

So I would like you to make them right now.


Emily

Oh no! Oh no!


Tom

I would like, for the record, for any listeners who happen to be here with us still, that I am legitimately terrified.


Emily

Oh, I’m horrified.


Tom

I had just a knot in my stomach. I am very afraid about everything right now.


Emily

I’m so angry.


[Die rolls.]


Emily

Now I know how Hallie feels about Lorraine.


Tom

[Uneasily] Oh, ho-ho-hooo, ho hoo. Oh, uh, two of them you said, right?


Kyle

Yeah.


Tom

Let’s try number two.


[Die rolls.]


Tom

Oh, ha, ha, ha.


Kyle

What was the first one?


Tom

The first one was a four.


Kyle

Okay.


Tom

And the second one was a 13.


[Die rolls.]


Emily

Got a 10.


Kyle

Okay.


[Die rolls.]


Emily

And a 13.


Tom

Woo, ho-hoo. Hehee.


Emily

We both got unlucky 13. Ugh!


Kyle

Well, you guys are fucked.


Tom

I think we just failed two perception rolls!


Emily (as Elee)

Ex-excuse me.


Emily

And I want to go over to some place where the wall, where nothing is in front of it. And just punch it.


Kyle

Give me a roll to hit that wall.


Emily

[Distantly, looking for dropped dice] Where did it go? Oh.


[Die rolls.]


Emily

[Laughter.]


Kyle

What was that?


Emily

That was a nat 20.


Kyle

That wall is going to be feeling shit in the morning. In fact, you can hear it almost like groan a little bit, like:


Kyle (as Wall)

[whining] Owwww. Oww, I’m just holding up the—I’m holding up the room!


Tom

Xoc will definitely start at that wall punch.


Kyle

Alright, Xoc starts, and Soe actually, uh, you see the little, like, the little basically bean that is Soe wrapped up, just kind of like jump up in the air--


Emily

[Pained noise]


Kyle

--And pop back down at hearing such a loud sound.


Emily

[Wailing] I just keep hurting my baby!


Kyle

I’m going to say she didn’t—because her hair is how she hears, she wouldn’t have heard it, but it would have reverberated enough throughout the room that she would have felt the vibrations. You know, kind of when you like slam something you can hear it echo throughout the room? Yeah.


Emily

I’m so upset with everything. What do I do?


Kyle

I don’t know, what do you do? I’m allowing this time for you two to do some stuff before I have characters do things.


Emily

Okay, so Mauve and Everett are still in the room, right?


Kyle

No, Mauve and Everett have left.


Emily

Oh, they’ve left.


Kyle

Mauve and Everett are up, you can actually faintly—


Tom

They’re pitching right now.


Kyle

You can hear them out there. They’re actually pitching something. You hear, like Everett gets two words out:


Kyle (as Everett)

Yeah, no, this is super edgy—


Kyle

And then Mauve just cuts in like—


Kyle (as Mauve)

And by “edgy” we mean on the cutting edge of innovation. You won’t find a product more innovative than this one.


Kyle

So it’s basically Everett messing things up and then Mauve is deftly correcting him.


Tom

I keep telling myself that you wouldn’t kill Everett. Like I know for a fact that you would kill Mauve to hurt us.


Kyle

[Laughter.]


Tom

But I don’t think you would kill Everett. And I’m telling myself that because I’m incredibly afraid for them.


Emily

I want to talk to Soe. But I’m not really sure how to go about this. And Emily’s heart is hurting.


Tom

I can go first if you want.


Emily

[Weakly] Yeah, please?


Tom

Well, Xoc is going to approach Elee after that punch and say:


Tom (as Xoc)

Mm, Elee Badge, I’m sorry that I got us into this mess, and I’m afraid because I don’t know what to do or what to say. Like, you’ve been around people more. Do you know what they want? Like, what can we say that would make us not die out there? Or should we just be trying to get away?


Emily (as Elee)

First off, it’s--it’s not your fault. You don’t need to apologize for anything. I feel like you’ve had better luck talking to people than I have, Xoc. Maybe you’ve got the little boyish, naïve charm going on or something, but if I go out there and start talking, we’re going to be screwed faster than maybe if someone else is. If nothing else, if they have the trash shark come in, the plan is, I’m going to pick you up, and I’m going to toss you as far as I can away from the trash. Like that is the level of plan that I am at, Xoc.


Tom

I don’t know. Um, you said that there are guards standing in front of Tommy Funbuck’s personal area. Like, is there an area we can explore around here? Like find anything to weasel out?


Kyle

So they’re guarded at each exit. So there are about three exits, I would say, and then on top of a staircase there’s a double door, and there’s one guard there with the giant bazooka. It’s in a giant aneen costume. The only really interesting thing I’d say you could probably get some information from is you can see that the Blue Fairy was interacting with one of those Q-BO panels. She has now left that panel. So you could talk to Q-BO, there’s that other contestant. She’s got really pursed lips so she probably doesn’t want to talk to you, and then there is Soe. Do you want to do that now?


[15:19]


Emily

I mean—


Tom

Are you ready to Soe? I don’t have much more of a plan. I suppose I can go try to hit up Q-BO.


Emily

We don’t have a plan. This is our plan.


Tom

I suppose I could just go hit up Q-BO and see what’s happening there. Can Xoc go over there and ask questions of Q-BO, or-?


Kyle

Yeah, you can go talk to Q-BO. We’re going to resolve that in a little bit because I want a couple of things to happen before then, just so we have some good pacing. But of course, yeah. And then you want to go over and talk to Soe?


Emily

Yeah.


Kyle

Alright.


[Pensive, languid music begins.]


Kyle

So she’s in the middle of the couch. She’s just plopped down, sunk down.


Emily

I genuinely feel a little bit nauseous.


Kyle

So do I. That’s why I want to get this over with.


Emily

Okay, um, I want to go sit next to her and, how is she sitting? Has she got her knees up to her chest kind of defensively?


Kyle

Yeah, you don’t see her, you just see her hands poking out of her jacket. And you—she’s rocking back and forth, and you can hear her faintly humming—


Kyle (as Soe)

[Humming timidly, as if stifling tears.]


Emily (as Elee)

[Hums the same tune as Soe.]


Kyle

She’s going to stop humming, and you’re just going to see the head, the little hole where her head is just turned around, and look at you. And it opens up a little bit so you can just kind of see a little bit of her face, and she’s just like:


Kyle (as Soe)

I’m--I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I tried to help and I got in the way of your plan. I should have trusted that that was your plan. I just got scared, because it looked like you were in pain and I didn’t--I didn’t like that. I don’t like it when people get hurt.


Emily (as Elee)

Soe, that’s wonderful. That’s not something to be ashamed of. That’s something that sometimes I don’t do.


Kyle (as Soe)

But me trying it, now we’re all going to get hurt, and-and-and because I tried to stop you from getting hurt, now everyone is going to get hurt and [sighs in a panic].


Emily (as Elee)

No one is going to get hurt, Soe.


Kyle (as Soe)

B-but they are, and—and


Kyle

And you, because you succeeded your first perception roll, you see the top of her hood, you see it kind of flicker a little bit, as if something had tapped against it. And then she starts kind of crying out. She’s like—


Kyle (as Soe)

[Crying] Oh, ohh, I have such a headache! [Sniffling.]


Emily (as Elee)

How do I help?


Kyle (as Soe)

I don’t know, everything hurts, and I just—I’m sorry.


Kyle

And she’s going to tighten everything up again, and she’s going to keep rocking. The rock is just going to flomp down on top of you.


Emily

Awwww. Elee puts her arms around Soe, but really, really carefully, and not touching her at first. This is not something that she is familiar with, but she finally lets her hand rest on Soe’s shoulder.


Emily (as Elee)

I’m sorry I can’t fix it.


Kyle (as Soe)

Y-y-you were humming the song that my dad taught me, right? The one that he learned from you?


Emily (as Elee)

Yeah, I was.


Kyle (as Soe)

I hum that when I get nervous or scared. Could you hum that a little more?


Emily

[Muttering sheepishly] I don’t know if I’ll get the tune right, out of character. What is it?


Emily (as Elee)

[Hums the tune Soe requested.]


[The hum transitions into a version of that tune on a guitar.]


Kyle (as Soe)

I’m really sorry. I’m sure you’re real sad that you got a daughter that made everything bad for you.


Tom

[Pained sighing.] Don’t want this!


Emily (as Elee)

I didn’t think I would have a daughter. I didn’t think that I was going to be that lucky. But I am.


Kyle

She’s going to open her hood a little bit, and she’s going to look you dead in the eyes and she’s going to say:


Kyle (as Soe)

Do you really mean it?


Emily

Elee’s going to...hesitate.


Emily (as Elee)

You have to understand, Soe. I don’t know how to be a mother. I’ve never been a mother. I don’t think that I can—I don’t think that I am what you think I am.


Kyle (as Soe)

Oh, okay, I understand. And I’m sorry I--I--I’m sorry I talked to you when you just wanted to have fun at the rollercoaster.


Kyle

And she’s going to zip up the hood.


[Upbeat mandolin music begins.]


Kyle

So with that the doors slam open, and you see Tommy Funbuck storm into the room, followed by Lorraine. His face is wrinkled and melting with rage. He’s running up to his room and he’s just saying:


Kyle (as Tommy Funbuck)

I can’t believe you took that offer. I can’t believe you saved Mauve Rodirarche’s life!


[20:00]


Kyle

And Lorraine is just like:


Kyle (as Lorraine)

Tommy, darling. Her pitch was amazing. And plus, that little boy she brought with him was so adorable. How could I say no?


Kyle (as Tommy Funbuck)

You know! You know!


Kyle

And he just walks up and he slams the door on Lorraine’s face. And she just stands there for a second, she’s like:


Kyle (as Lorraine)

Tommy. Tommy. Huh, oh well.


Kyle

And she holds a piece of ice that she has in her hands, and she just pops it into her mouth and starts chewing. And she walks back down the staircase and just plops into an armchair and sighs to herself. And next to you, Xoc, Loell turns around and is like:


Kyle (as Loell)

Wait, that was Tommy Funbuck? [In surprise] He looks good.


Tom (as Xoc)

Oh, hi.


Kyle (as Loell)

Hey! Uh, so did the plan work? I’m kind of getting weird vibes here, because like, we’re in, we’re in a fancy place, but like, there’s death just everywhere.


Tom

Xoc shakes his head. He’s sort of staring off into space now. He wasn’t really entirely certain what he should do once Elee and Soe started their talk, so he’s just off to the side, not like, across the room, just awkwardly out there, like when someone is floating at a party and they don’t know where to go or who to stand with, and they’re just there. He says:


Tom (as Xoc)

No, no, um, things went badly, and now I guess we’re on some kind of contest where you pitch an idea, and if the judges like it, we live. And if they don’t, we die.


Kyle (as Loell)

[Sighs.] Well, that’s a bit of a humdinger. I mean, it couldn’t be worse than his other games: Stabapalooza, Talk or You’re Dead. I mean, he has some pretty rough ones. You got the brand, right? You know, the one that’ll keep you from dying?


Tom (as Xoc)

No. No, we did not get the brand.


Kyle (as Loell)

Oh, well, in that case, uh, you know Xoc, I’m a little fond of you, want to make sure you stay safe, so we should come up with a plan. You’ve got a plan, you’ve got a product, right? You’ve got a product?


Tom (as Xoc)

Uhhh. Uh, what’s a product?


Kyle (as Loell)

It’s a thing that you sell. It’s like a, like uhhh, what is it?


Kyle

And he starts looking around, and he points at the Blue Fairy and he points to her wings.


Kyle (as Loell)

Like those weird things. You know, they’re just, uh, fuzzy and weird and segmented. And they just flap on their own. Like that’s something that, uh, I mean, somebody might want to buy it. I mean, she clearly did.


Kyle

You can see now that the Blue Fairy’s wings, who don’t only flap by themselves, they also look uncomfortably fuzzy, and they seem kind of segmented. And you’re looking at her, she’s, from where you were, she left the Q-BO thing, she kind of passed by the back of the couch, and then she went—she’s over on the other side, hanging out with Vespari, who looks kind of bored honestly. This just isn’t his thing. But like, this is how he was able to get all of his performances. He agreed to be a big name on this terrible show.


Tom

Xoc will do one of those brief, like when a movie screen narrows around someone’s eyes, at Vespari for a moment and just be like:


Tom (as Xoc)

I don’t come from a place where people buy or sell things. So if you have any ideas, now would be the time, before we all die.


Kyle (as Loell)

Well, um—hmm. Tommy Funbuck—have you heard—have you heard the “cat’s tail” story?


Tom (as Xoc)

No.


[Dramatic music begins.]


Kyle (as Loell)

So there was a cat’s tail, segmented into five different strands. Every time you asked for a wish from the tail, one of the strands would curl up and fade off. But it didn’t do what you wanted. It always did some weird inversion of it—it was really strange. Tommy loves that shit. He loves anything that you can sell to someone and it seems great, but it actually screws them over and gives him a profit. You are going to want to make sure it’s actually garbage though, because again, can’t really help you if you’re actually being a bad guy. Sorry, it’s just like a personal policy of mine.


Tom (as Xoc)

Huh.


Tom

Xoc will react to that with some mild surprise. Like:


Tom (as Xoc)

Oh, you’ve never really, like, talked about what you’re like.


Kyle (as Loell)

Oh, well, I mean, I mentioned that before. Don’t like bad guys, don’t like bullies, don’t like, you know, just like, I don’t know man. Everyone is just so like, they want to fight so much, you know? There’s just so much conflict, and [sighs] man, I just want to keep you safe.


Tom (as Xoc)

[Surprised] Well, thanks!


Kyle (as Loell)

Of course.


Tom (as Xoc)

So we need either a terrible wishing machine, or something else that just breaks when you use it and you have to get another one. Should we actually have one to show them?


Kyle (as Loell)

Wait a second.


[Jaunty piano music begins.]


Kyle (as Loell)

Selling something but not actually having it there. You might have an idea there. Do you have any place where you could get, like, a lot of information about something?


Tom

I imagine that if this were a visual medium, the camera would just pan slightly to the Q-BO console right next to us, and Xoc will just like, gesture an arm out towards it.


Kyle (as Loell)

Alright. [Rubs hands together.] Let’s make some magic, shall we, buddy?


[Music continues, adding a whistle and a drum beat to the proceedings.]


[25:33]


Kyle

Hello and welcome to the announcement break for epissuhhhhh [draws out word uncertainly] --sode 28 of Quest Friends, Questionable Measures Part 10, which is two thirds through our Questionable Measures act, assuming the players can wrap up the final two episodes in the next session. I have faith, but, [makes noise that suggests shrugging at the unknowable]. I am Kyle, your GM, and our intro and outro music as always are “Friends” and “Hitoshio” both by Miracle of Sound. We’ve got a couple of flash announcements for you today. If you ordered any merch from us for that anniversary sale, you should have received it by this point. If you haven’t, please send us an e-mail at questfriendsquestions@gmail.com, or you can reach out on Twitter, Tumblr, or wherever you would like. Thing number two is a reminder that if you Tweet or Tumblr out about us using the hashtag #QuestFriends, you will get put in the name pool, which will be used for items, NPCs, locations. Our name pool listener for this week was the character of Anne, who is named for Leaping Goldfish on Tumblr. Anne is a very big fan of Lorraine. So I really—I hope—I’ve been worried about whether or not you would consider Lorraine being the person to like, put that final judgement on you as something, like, cool or an insult. I meant it in the former category, and I’m really sorry if it fell into the latter. So if you would like to be killed by a major or minor Quest Friends character, be sure to hashtag out #QuestFriends on Twitter or Tumblr. Finally, for the month of December, Hallie and Kyle—I don’t know why I said that in the third person because I’m Kyle—Hallie and I are doing a holiday podcast that’s called Hallmarked. It’s a conversation podcast and it’s coming out every Saturday where we watch a Hallmark movie and go really into depth about it. And we’re doing that because Hallie likes Hallmark movies, and I look looking way into things that are just really meant to be taken on the surface level. And if you’re still on the fence about whether or not you’d be interested in it, I hope this brief trailer pushes you over the edge.


[Christmas-y music begins.]


Hallie

Hallmark movies are good, old-fashioned holiday fun.


Kyle

But what if you took these relatively simple movies and dug significantly deeper into them than they ever intended you to?


Hallie

I’m Hallie.


Kyle

And I’m Kyle.


Hallie

And every Saturday in December, we’ll be doing the legwork for you.


Kyle

Every episode will go through a study guide version of the movie, doing a brief summary and then explaining the themes, the artistry, and really anything that you wouldn’t normally notice because you were too busy baking cookies while watching the movie.


Hallie

So whether you are a seasoned Hallmark veteran like me—


Kyle

Or have just kind of a morbid curiosity like me—


Hallie

We’ll give you something to think about on Hallmarked, the seasonal literary analysis of Hallmark movies.


Kyle

And cut.


Hallie

Woo! First try, nailed it! We didn’t mess up at all!


Kyle

We didn’t even mention, uh, it’s Hallmarked, with like an ED. Hallmark plus ED!


Hallie

Oh wait, okay.


Kyle

If you’re looking at this, there’s a link below.


Hallie

Hallmarked!


Kyle

No we’re not—no, we’re not doing that. That’s part of the commercial. I’m done! We’ve recorded an episode, I’m tired, I’m going home.


Hallie

It’s got the ED, because we’re going to mark ‘em. We’re going to mark the Hallmark movies. We’re going to mark ‘em.


Kyle

Thanks so much for listening to today’s announcements. Our next episode will be out on Monday, December 17th. I will see you then.


[Jaunty piano and whistling music begins again.]


Kyle

So the doors open again, and you see Mauve and an elated Everett come in. And it looks like Everett has this big Swiss army knife of cooking ingredients, and it looks like something he just has on hand, and he puts it back in his pocket, and that must have been what they were pitching was this giant cookware, you know, use it anywhere, use it any time. Let me do it in Mauve-voice:


Kyle (as Mauve)

You can use it anywhere, you can use it any time. You can use it in the bath! Which is frankly a terrible place to cook, but I just wanted to make clear how well you could use it everywhere. I’m real proud of you, Cheferett.


[30:09]


Kyle

And I said that because Hallie said, uh, is Everett’s name Cheferett, and she turns over and she’s like:


Kyle (as Mauve)

Oh, Elee Badge. Is that the young one?


Emily (as Elee)

[Drawn out, guiltily] Yeah, I screwed up.


Kyle

She’s going to gently look over and kind of peer and she’s like:


Kyle (as Mauve)

Hey, can I--can I have the propeller beanie back?


Kyle

And then Soe’s just going to gently let go, and she’s going to be like:


Kyle (as Mauve)

You have no idea how big of a difference it was that you held this for that. It probably saved our lives.


Kyle (as Everett)

[Scoffs.] Whatever! I wouldn’t have even wanted to sell it anyway. Can I have it back now though?


Tom

[Laughter]


Kyle

And she sits next to Soe and kind of across from you, and she just leans over and she’s like:


Kyle (as Mauve)

Well, looks like things are going well.


Emily

Elee’s just looking around guiltily.


Kyle (as Mauve)

So what are you going to do about her when you pitch your thing?


Emily (as Elee)

Well, see, I was thinking about maybe just--ugh. I don’t know, how do I get her out of here? Can you take her out now that you’re done?


Kyle (as Mauve)

Tell you what. Tommy might have tried to kill me, but he does owe me a few favors.


Hallie

What?


Kyle (as Mauve)

I could probably ask him to let Soe go. It’s a small thing in his eyes. You know, I am a bit surprised about one thing though. You never quite struck me as the apologetic type, you know? And yet you’ve been just apologizing non-stop since, you know, last time we saw you at the parade.


Emily (as Elee)

Trying to say something, Mauve?


Kyle (as Mauve)

Oh no, I’m just, you know, an old woman—


Emily (as Elee)

Spit it out.


Kyle (as Mauve)

Musing to myself.


Emily (as Elee)

Nope, I am not in the mood for dancing around the subject. Spit out whatever you’re going to say.


Kyle

She’s like:


Kyle (as Mauve)

Alright. You’re sure she can’t hear us?


Emily (as Elee)

I don’t think so.


Kyle (as Mauve)

You talk so much about keeping this young girl physically safe. Talk so much about how, well, you act like you’re obligated to keep her safe. You’ve got this big obligation to keep her physically safe, but you keep doing things that get her...like this. What I’m saying is that this young girl came to you looking for a mother. That’s what she needs, Elee. She needs a mother. She doesn’t need a bodyguard. Those aren’t effective much in the Ninth World anyway, and if she can make it to Roulettia, she’s doing just fine.


[Sentimental piano music starts.]


Kyle (as Mauve)

I’ve had a lot of young folks come in, looking—whether they wanted to know it or not—for me to be a surrogate mother.


Kyle

And in the background, if this was a camera shot, in the background you would just see Everett happily twirling his propeller beanie as he walks across our view.


Tom

Just a slow camera zoom on Everett in the background of the shot.


Kyle (as Mauve)

And there were times when I knew I couldn’t and I had to turn them away, because the worst thing you could do for someone like that is stringing them along. What I’m saying, Elee Badge, is regardless of whether or not she’s biologically your daughter, you’re going to have to make a choice about whether or not you want to be her mother. And looking at how many folks around here seem to have grievances with young Xoc, it sounds like you don’t have an awful lot of time to choose.


Emily (as Elee)

Good for you, Mauve, for being able to slip into that “mom role”. Good for you.


Tom

[Surprised gasp]


Emily (as Elee)

Doesn’t mean other people can do it. This is how I know how to do it. I know how to punch people back, away from whatever youngun’ I’m trying to protect.


Kyle (as Mauve)

Elee Badge, back in Fasten, I told you that you were a natural at this.


Emily (as Elee)

Yeah, well—


Kyle (as Mauve)

And I absolutely, 100% meant it.


Emily (as Elee)

I think you’re full of shit. I’ve made my bed, Imma go lay in it.


Kyle (as Mauve)

Elee, if my adventures with the heroes of Navarene have taught me anything, it’s that you can take all the time you want to sort through your personal problems, but the worst thing you can do is force someone down into them with you.


Kyle

And she’s going to stand up and say:


Kyle (as Mauve)

I should probably go find Everett before he accidentally pisses off one of the guards and gets us all shot.


Emily

Elee’s going to go punch the wall again.


Kyle

Alright. Give me a roll.


Emily

I’m going to give you three rolls, because she’s going to punch with her right, she’s going to punch with her left, and then she’s going to punch with her right again.


[Dice rolling in succession.]


Emily

Six, twelve, five.


Kyle

Your punching just gets worse and worse. Why does your punching get worse and worse each time?


Emily

Because I’m very upset, and Elee doesn’t know how to handle emotions, so she punches things. Emotions don’t make her punch better, but they do make her punch.


Tom

But who is Elee angry at?


Kyle

[Rapturous, melodic “oh.”]


Emily

Tom! Dropping some truth bombs!


Kyle

You punch a few times, and on the last punch a dozen lines of light shoot out from the double doors in Tommy Funbuck’s room.


[Drumroll. Followed by slick, upbeat music.]


Kyle

And Tommy comes out, refreshed and looking a lot more composed both emotionally and physically. Like that kind of melting, wrinkled look he has, completely gone. He’s looking fresh, he’s looking dapper, he’s looking...swag. So he walks down and he happily says:


[35:05]


Kyle (as Tommy Funbuck)

Alright everyone, let’s get ready. Great Vespari? More like Fantastic Vespari! Spectacular Vespari! Friendly Neighborhood Vespari! Lorraine? You know what? I’m feeling pretty good about you too right now. And of course, our next contestant, Lady Citrine—


Kyle

And the woman in the pressed business suit says:


Kyle (as Madam Citrine)

Madam Citrine, thank you very much.


Kyle (as Tommy Funbuck)

Alright, whatever lady! Let’s get hoppin-ing, over into the main chambers.


Kyle

And as he walks past, Mauve looks at him and is like:


Kyle (as Mauve)

Tommy?


Kyle (as Tommy Funbuck)

Mauve Rodirarche, congratulations on surviving … this time. Let’s get going!


Kyle

And as he walks through, Loell kind of—you two have been talking to Q-BO I’m assuming a little bit, looking up some stuff. And Loell turns over—


Kyle (as Loell)

Wait, that’s Mauve Rodirarche? Wow! Tommy looks really good!


Tom (as Xoc)

What do you remember them as?


Kyle (as Loell)

What do you mean? I remember them as Tommy Funbuck and Mauve Rodirarche.


Tom (as Xoc)

Yeah, but you make it sound like you remember them looking very different. Like, how old are you?


Kyle (as Loell)

Dude, I’m telling you, I don’t—oh. I, ooh, I am going to have, uh—


Tom (as Xoc)

This might have been a bad time to bring that up, I’m sorry.


Kyle (as Loell)

No, that’s fine. Just got a couple of—you know, we should really make sure we live. ‘Cause I’ve got a couple of things I think I need to work out.


Tom (as Xoc)

That’s a good idea.


Tom

Alright. Alright. Alright. I made a lot of big boasts earlier about how if it was Tom the player, I could easily talk myself out of this. Just not Xoc the character. Let’s put that galaxy brain to work here.


Emily

But Tom, you’re just Xoc.


Tom

N-no, shush.


Kyle

[Laughter.]


Tom

No. Um, hmm.


Tom (as Xoc)

So what does Tommy want? He wants to sell things for nothing. What if the cost of production was exactly zero scratch? Because, and this is how it works, you trick the people into making the content for you. We’ve been looking up how one might create a sort of collection of medias that could be recorded and shown to other people. A sort of, like a very awesome channel, if you will, that gathered the best of the best, for the low, low price of absolutely nothing. And then just sort of skim money off the top of that.


Emily

Thomas Pitkin, are you talking about YouTube Red?


Kyle

No, he’s talking about Channel Awesome.


Emily

Oh!


Kyle

Yeah, and Q-BO has looked up a variety of things. As you repeat that out loud, Q-BO will say:


[Awakening beep]


Kyle (as Q-BO)

That is an excellent summation of everything that I’ve told you. Media is the best way to get people to do something for nothing. And the most convenient part of it is that most of the people who actually get the product don’t expect actual money to be paid to the person. So it’s something where the customer doesn’t have to pay anything, Tommy has to do no work, and people will do plenty of work for free. All that remains is a name for the platform. I have generated some automatic lists here.


Tom

Xoc will cut off Q-BO there and say:


Tom (as Xoc)

These are all excellent suggestions, but I think we can--we can come up with a name for this.


Tom

And Xoc will look over at Loell and be like:


Tom (as Xoc)

Uh, what about--what about—


Kyle (as Loell)

[Excitedly] Brainbud. Brainbud!


[Upbeat music begins.]


Tom

Ohhhhh.


Kyle (as Loell)

It’s in your brain and it comes out. It’s like me, but, you know, bad.


Tom (as Xoc)

I got one of those, too. Like a literal brainbud as well.


Tom

And Xoc will like, pop open the hatch in his head and be like:


Tom (as Xoc)

See?


Kyle (as Loell)

[Exhales uneasily] Xoc, buddy, you’ve got to stop doing that. Is it getting worse?


Tom (as Xoc)

What? No! I upgraded myself. I upgraded my mind!


Kyle

And he’s going to put his hand on your shoulder and say:


Kyle (as Loell)

Xoc, I’ve seen a lot of strange people; you might be the strangest. And I love it! I think we’ve got a solution here.


Kyle

Alright, so we’ve got a couple of minutes, and we’ve got some time to kill. Why did you want to see Tommy—you wanted to investigate Tommy Funbuck or something, right? Did we do that?


Tom

Uh, we could try to break in, but I’m not sure if that’s especially safe right now.


Emily

So you can get Elee to be a distraction. Right now she is just standing very stiffly at an angle with her forehead on the wall.


Kyle

And in fact, a couple of the guards from outside, so not the one yet up on the balcony, they haven’t gone yet. But two of the guards are just like, next to her like, uh, they’re not allowed to speak, but they’re trying to be like, “are you okay? Is everything okay?”


Tom

So does that mean the double doors don’t have a guard in front of them right now?


Kyle

The double doors still have bazooka-aneen. Bazooka-aneen is still vigilantly standing there. But, if you get the other ones distracted, you could probably get bazooka-aneen distracted, too.


Emily

[Faintly] Bazooka-aneen.


Tom

Alright, alright. Distract. What else do we see? Do I see anything else useful in this room?


Kyle

Uh, give me a roll to see if you see anything useful.


[40:00]


Tom

Alright, sounds good. Let’s use this other die, since the other one seems to have accrued a curse.


[Die rolls.]


Tom

That’s—that’s what we’re—that’s the money. Fourteen.


Kyle

Fourteen, yeah, what do you want to see? Give me something.


Tom

I want to see, like, some sort of machine that I can use to distract this guy. Like--like what if --what if there’s some sort of slot machine or rough equivalent nearby, and it’s got, like, a little display screen and speaker that could go like:


Tom (as slot machine)

Hey you! Yeah, you! You want to win big?


Tom

Because I want Xoc to use distant activation to just discreetly turn this on, as if by magic.


Kyle

Yeah, you turn it on, and you hear a voice say:


Kyle (as slot machine)

Hey you! You lucky winner! You’ve seen t-shirt guns, you’ve seen t-shirt bazookas, but have you seen t-shirt dynamite?


[Triumphant music begins.]


It’s dynamite in every definition of the word, my friend, and your previous t-shirt weaponry will look absolutely pathetic by comparison. Everybody, I mean everybody will laugh at you, including that guy that you’ve been trying to get the attention of.


Kyle

And you hear this other voice—you hear the same voice do a mimic like:


Kyle (as slot machine, mimicking a different person)

Haha, yeah, you look pathetic with that bazooka. You want to win big, dont’cha?


Kyle

And then you just hear this really muffled voice behind the aneen mask say:


Kyle (as bazooka-aneen)

[Muffled] I do want to win big! So I can impress Chris!


Kyle

And it runs down and it starts playing the slots.


Tom

Oh noo! Alright. Xoc will hustle. It will be like one of those awkward moments where he’s just standing there wide-eyed, like don’t see me. And then he just does like a long, stretching step outward and then just like, speeds away from that one, slow long step, up to the double doors.


Kyle

Do you see anything, Elee?


Emily

Um, no one is looking at me, right? Oh, the guards are looking, so I wouldn’t—


Kyle

Uh, no, I’m going to say they’re all distracted. Now they all want to win and they’re kind of fighting. They’re like:


Emily

They all want to win big for Chris!


Kyle (as Mannymates)

No! Chris will be mine!


Emily

Okay. I’m going to say I would like to notice Xoc leaving, and Mauve and Everett are—


Kyle

Yeah, Mauve is by Everett. Everett has stopped on the guards, and he’s showing off his super-cool cookware set. And the guard is loving it. The guard is like:


Kyle (as guard)

Man, I didn’t know how to cook. But with this, I think I can!


Kyle

And like, Mauve is just supporting him, ‘cause Everett hasn’t seemed this passionate about something in a long time, so she just wants to support him.


Emily

That’s what moms do.


Kyle

Yeah. And then Soe’s just a puddle. She’s just a puddle.


Tom

Like a little sweater bean bag.


Emily

Elee’s going to awkwardly not touch Soe, but like, air pat her a little bit, and then sneak after Xoc.


Kyle

Yeah, she’s going to like, turn a little bit as if she acknowledges that, and then you’ll run off.


Emily

Yes. I think? Yes!


Kyle

Alright, so you go to this door, and how are you going to open it up?


Tom

It’s locked?


Kyle

I mean, I’m assuming you would assume it’s locked, right? Or do you assume it’s unlocked?


Tom

I mean, Xoc will poke at it. Like he doesn’t know if it’s locked, because Tommy Funbuck just came through here. Did he lock it on his way out?


Kyle

You’ll poke it, and it will just creak open, and you’ll see a small chip of ice just drop. It seemed to be propping the door open, and it will just drop to the ground.


Tom

[Suspiciously] Hmm. Oh, oh yeah, alright, yeah, okay. Xoc realizes the significance of this.


Emily (as Elee)

Five shins Lorraine set that up.


Tom (as Xoc)

Yeah, I think we can assume--I think we can assume that this is not ice that melts.


Emily (as Elee)

Come on, Xoc, take the bet. I don’t have any money, I spent it all on Steven.


Tom (as Xoc)

I also have no money left.


Tom

So Xoc will turn to Elee excitedly as he like, ushers her in, like let’s go in before anybody notices.


Tom (as Xoc)

Elee, we have an idea.


[Conspicuous, sneaky music begins.]


Tom (as Xoc)

For the--the show. I think we maybe have a chance?


Emily (as Elee)

Really? Wait, we?


Tom (as Xoc)

Loell and me.


Emily (as Elee)

You’re talking about the--the--the kid in your brain.


Tom (as Xoc)

Yeah. Yeah. We talked about—he’s a bit better at the talking to people stuff.


Emily (as Elee)

Well, that’s good.


Tom (as Xoc)

He had an idea. We did a little research.


Emily (as Elee)

You did research.


Tom (as Xoc)

Yes.


Emily (as Elee)

[Hesitantly] Also in your head?


Tom (as Xoc)

No, on Q-BO this time.


Emily (as Elee)

Okay, so should I be part of this pitch, or just let you do the talking?


Tom (as Xoc)

Uhh…


Tom

Xoc will actually look to Loell for this one.


Emily

I would also like to state that Elee has an inability in pleasant social interaction.


Tom

Woo! Same.


Kyle (as Loell)

Well, but it is—I mean, if she has a way with words, I mean, you might as well let her talk, right? Does she have a way with words?


Tom

Xoc will like, shake his head.


Tom (as Xoc)

No. I think maybe it’s easiest if we just let Loell do the talking, I guess through me. I don’t know. It’s scary. Anyway, I thought maybe we could sneak in here and actually, actually investigate Tommy Funbuck, because our real plan is other things.


[45:04]


Emily

I want to look around the room.


Kyle

Okay, yeah, so you enter the room, and Tommy’s room, Tommy’s room is just too much.


[Chilled-out boudoir music begins.]


Kyle

He doesn’t have a bed sized bigger than king, which he calls emperor—his bed is a size bigger than that, which he calls mogul.


Emily

He’s the worst!


Kyle

Fountain projectors litter the room like columns in an ancient hallway, and you see the doorways to at least five ornate bathrooms, one of which is closed.


Tom

Xoc is going to go up to that closed bathroom door and poke it open with his staff, just from a slight distance away, you know, in case it’s booby trapped.


Emily (as Elee)

I bet he has those projectors so he can make out with himself.


Tom (as Xoc)

What does that mean, Elee Badge?


Emily (as Elee)

Never mind. What are we looking at?


Kyle

Uh, while the other bathrooms were typical access—one made completely out of bronze, one of silver, one of gold, and one of platinum—this room is surprisingly industrial.


[Music transitions into a more curious, searching tune.]


The floor has replaced fancy tiles with a large metal grate, which keeps you from falling into a putrid fluid below. While a dozen, thick, rubberbound tubes wallpaper the space. These tubes sporadically pulse, as yellow bands of light course through them and move towards a large, metallic EZ-Life pod. Connected to this pod are three things: On one side is a coat rack, filled with several perfectly replicated versions of Tommy Funbuck’s outfit. On the other side, a digital counter says, over 100,742 saps served. And that number increases every time another batch of light enters the pod. And finally, a still body slumps against the side of the pod, bits of itself dripping through the grating into the pool below.


Tom

Well I think we learned why Tommy Funbuck looks so young all the time.


Emily

I’ve been waiting for the body horror. I was warned! Elee’s going to look very grossed out and think about poking it, but then pull her hand back.


Tom

Xoc stares at it with a sort of morbid curiosity, like he also thinks it’s gross, and he--he’’s horrified by the idea of what Tommy is doing to the people of Roulettia, but there’s something about the machine itself that’s just curious to him. Like he can’t help but take it all in, see like how could something like this even work.


Emily (as Elee)

Imma--I’mma let you look over this, kid.


Kyle

So you look around, Xoc, and you see at the back something called a breytnir battery. And a breytnir battery converts and holds immense amounts of power. So it can essentially turn one kind of energy into a different kind of energy. And you can tell that this EZ-Life pod looks different. It’s large, it’s metal, it looks a lot more sturdy than the other ones. And it looks like all these dozen bands of yellow light are funneling themselves into one side of the battery. And then that battery seems to be taking that energy and converting it into a different energy that it uses to power the machine itself. And by the size of this battery, it looks like it’s a massive fucking amount of energy it uses. So that’s what you notice, and you’re going to be kind of distracted a little bit. Elee, you turn over, and you see the melting face of Tommy Funbuck.


Emily

[Quietly] Yup.


Kyle

This one looks remarkably similar to the one who entered the room as opposed to the one that left the room. The thing about it is that he’s still, but he’s not still like a body that’s been killed or has rigor mortis. He’s a lot more fluid than that. as I said, it’s melting. And it looks almost like—it looks soulless almost, as if any life that was there, anything that would fuel life is just gone and shifted some place else. ...Do you get it? Do you get what’s going on?


Tom

I think—I think—I think we’ve picked up.


Kyle

Okay, cool. Elee, I’m going to give you a GM intrusion.


Emily

Okay.


Kyle

Who do you want to give the other point to?


Emily

Well, let’s see. I think I made a pledge last time we played, when I found out what certain players were doing with all their XP, so I’m going to give it to Tom.


Tom

That’s good, because I had exactly zero.


Kyle

So a quiet voice sniffles behind you and says:


Kyle (as Soe)

Is—is he going to be okay?


Emily

[In horror] I turn around—is it Soe?


Kyle

It is. And she’s like:


Kyle (as Soe)

I’m sorry. I just—it seemed like you didn’t think I was helpful, so I just want to be helpful. That’s all.


Emily (as Elee)

No, no, no. Soe, I wouldn’t look though.


Tom (as Xoc)

Yeah, that’s Tommy Funbuck’s old body. It’s just melting into the ground. There’s nothing left anymore. He just got rid of it and got a new one.


Kyle (as Soe)

W-what—how does someone make a new body?


Tom (as Xoc)

Oh, he’s got this device here. It looks like he’s using the whole EZ-Life system to just suck up all of the extra lives in Roulettia, like a vacuum.


Kyle

Loell’s going to turn over to you and say:


Kyle (as Loell)

You know, Xoc, you’re being surprisingly cavalier about this whole thing. You’re okay, buddy, right? You’re not compensating or something?


[50:00]


Tom (as Xoc)

Honestly, I’ve been super shocked since I came in here. I--I’m just—I don’t know what to do. This almost feels normal and understandable compared to going out in front of that crowd and selling nothing to them.


Kyle (as Loell)

You know, I’m going to agree with you there, actually. This is-- [sighs] let’s just figure out what’s going on.


Kyle

So I want you all to roll a perception roll, just because I know we’re running low on time and I want to make sure we wrap up this episode.


[Die rolls.]


Tom

Twelve.


[Die rolls.]


Emily

Four.


Kyle

Okay, so. Xoc, you notice a couple of things. You notice that there are a couple of beetles in the room. There’s just a couple of blue beetles.


Tom

Ummmmm…


Kyle

A couple are on the machine, but you don’t notice enough for it to be alarming. You just notice a few. And you’re quickly distracted, because you see that the next contestant—you see that she is finally presenting her product. And so you see this woman in this business suit proudly exclaim:


Kyle (as Madam Citrine)

I am Madam Citrine, and today I present for you a device that will be a truth-teller and pull the truth from all aspects of the Datasphere. You see most folks, even nanos—


Kyle

And she gives a look to Vespari, and he just like scoffs at it, and the audience just like laughs.


Kyle (as Madam Citrine)

Even nanos can only access one part of the Datasphere.


[Ominous music begins faintly in the background]


Kyle (as Madam Citrine)

But what if I told you that all of you could access the Datasphere from right at home?


Tom

Oh, no, no, no. Please no, not like this!


Kyle

And she pulls out a box.


Kyle (as Madam Citrine)

This is the Loftnet, and you can use the Loftnet to communicate with any part of the Datasphere. Let me just put my hands in, now.


Tom

No!


Kyle

And she sticks her hand into the box, and it starts to twirl around. She’s like:


Kyle (as Madam Citrine)

Oh I’ve—I’ve found something. I’ve found someone who wants to say something, and it’s very close.


Kyle

And at that point, Xoc, you start to hear a garbled message coming through from Misha:


Ari (as Misha)

[To Xoc] I believe the ones that were not fine after all were us.


Kyle

But it stops after a second. You start hearing this frantic beeping that you haven’t heard before.


[Horrible, apocalyptic beeping begins.]


Tom (as Xoc)

Wait, what? There are two separate messages?


Tom

I will spend any amount of effort I need to focus in on Misha’s message.


Kyle

Alright, give me a roll.


Tom

Alright, so, I can do three levels of effort right now, right? Yeah. So we’re doing that. Allow me to just make a quick subtraction here.


[Dice rolling.]


Tom

And I rolled a three. But it’s three steps easier, so I might as well have rolled a 12.


Kyle

After a little bit of fighting, the message stops. And you can tell that it’s just trying to call you repeatedly. But eventually it stops. Eventually it stops and you can hear in on Misha’s voice, which says what they said last episode.


Ari (as Misha)

I believe the ones that were not fine after all were us. If something happens to us, I just want to say, I like you very much.


Kyle

You hear that, and then you’re going to hear some spooky stuff in the background. But why do you end up responding as you do to Misha?


Tom

Xoc has alternated from like, the pure terror of believing that he’s stuck in a situation that he does not understand and does not know how to fight his way out of, to the almost relative calm of having a plan, and seeing and act horrifying, yes, but like, comprehensible, given the horrors that he’s seen lately.


[Pensive, electronic music begins.]


But now it’s turned back into this cold terror again. Seeing what he saw—on the set, on the stage, the arena, whatever you want to call it—seeing someone claim to be able to do something that Xoc previously thought was something that was more Misha’s wheelhouse, and to get this interference when Misha was calling. He’s afraid again. He’s very afraid for Misha. So he tries to send the most heartfelt message he can. Maybe it’s a mixture of like, feeling bad that he sent them away and didn’t ask for their help here, or maybe worrying that now they’re alone and stuck and in danger and he and Elee can’t help them, but he tries to send the most heartfelt message he can.


Kyle

Meanwhile, Elee, even you can’t ignore this video, as Soe is like, looking at it dumbfounded. And Madam Citrine continues. She’s like—


Kyle (as Madam Citrine)

Oh yes, she is very—she is very close. Her name, her name, her name… The Lady with Cinnabar Lips.


Kyle

And the antenna starts to glow red.


[Music turns dramatically.]


Kyle (as Madam Citrine)

[Getting progressively more menacing] And she is angry. She is so, so angry, because she wants what is hers, and she can’t have it. She demands to have it back. She has been waiting so long and fought so hard and gotten so many things out of the way. Yet again, people keep thinking they can take what belongs to hers and make it their own! These arrogant fools can demand that what is rightfully her property belongs to somebody else. And she will not let that stand! So she wants to send a message to those that she knows are listening: That you will give her back what is hers, or everything—absolutely everything—will be GONE!


[Madam Citrine’s voice contorts into a weird, other-worldly scream.]


[55:19]


Kyle

And as she yells out “gone,” this unearthly, unnerving scream starts to let out, so loud that even you, Xoc, can hear it, as your communication with Misha disappears, and the fountains do as well.


Tom

When the connection drops and that speech ends in that shriek, Xoc is going to immediately pull up a cutting light in his left hand and blast it into the EZ-Life pod, just clench his fists at his side.


Kyle

Give me a roll.


[Die rolls.]


Tom

I got a 12.


Kyle

Oh man. How do you want to cut through that EZ-Life?


[Dramatic beat.]


Tom

Well, Xoc’s arms are just sort of shaking, and he just, like, without even really looking at it, just sticks out his hand, palm out, and just—an angry blast of light just slashes across it.


Emily (as Elee)

Xoc! What are you doing?


Tom (as Xoc)

There’s something out there that’s trying to hurt Misha, and I don’t know what it is. I—we--we were going to break it anyway, right? We can’t let him keep doing that, right? Right? I’m sorry, I was just angry there.


Emily

Okay. So Elee’s more comfortable with this. Angry she can deal with. She’s going to clap him on the shoulder.


Tom

[Laughter.]


Kyle

I’m proud of you, boy!


Tom

We’re bonding over, like, smashing walls in rage.


Kyle

You just go do screamo after this.


Tom

Let the bodies hit the floor…


Emily (as Elee)

You know, sometimes you just need to hit things.


Emily

And that’s--that’s her speech to him.


Kyle

Alright, you’re starting to hear footsteps come up to the door. What do you do?


Emily (as Elee)

Oh shit, we should go.


Tom

Uh, yeah, let’s just walk out.


Emily (as Elee)

You know, I don’t think he was probably stealing Q-BO anyway. I think he’s a little more focused.


Kyle

You go to leave the room, and you notice that the guards have opened the door and they’re charging towards you. They haven’t seen you, but like a couple are going to go towards where the sound—actually, they’re not going to the sound, they vaguely know where it is, but they’re kind of splitting up all over the place, and a couple are positioned at the door.


Emily

And Soe’s still with us?


Kyle

Yeah, Soe’s still with you.


Emily

Great!


Kyle

Um, when she—she actually, when you talk about punching, she like, tried to punch something.


Emily

Ohh!


Kyle

And was like, uh! And luckily it didn’t hurt her, because she feels with her hair.


Emily

Did I see it?


Kyle

You did.


Emily

I want to clap her on the shoulder, too.


Kyle

She’s real proud.


Tom

Ohh.


Emily

My heart is filled with so much love.


Tom

[Laughter.]


Emily

I just need a second.


Tom

Hang on, I have to Loell connection now, right? I have that power? Loell lift.


Kyle

Yes. There was an ability that I gave Tom early on, but we decided he was only going to use once he started to trust Loell. He has the Loell lift, which means once per session, Loell can essentially help him with a task, making it one step easier. So like Loell, again, can see within immediate distance around Xoc, so like, he can see something, he can help lift Xoc up because they’ve got that weird kind of physical interaction. Basically so long as Tom can justify Loell doing it—


Tom

Right, right, right. Uh, uh, uh, hey, can Loell help us—is this room big enough that we could like, squeeze ourselves up against the wall and just duck out when they duck in? Can Loell help us with the timing of that?


Kyle

Yes, Loell is going to like, turn over and be like:


Kyle (as Loell)

Alright: One, two, three, or three, two, one.


Tom (as Xoc)

On three—


Kyle (as Loell)

It doesn’t matter! Go, go, go, go, go!


Tom

Alright, do we roll now?


Kyle

Yeah.


Tom

Alright. With an extra level of effort from Loell—


[Die rolls.]


Tom

Oh, that’s an eight. I feel like I just failed that roll based on the look on your face.


Kyle

Alright, so you brush up against the walls, the guards pass by, and you see them go to—they go to the pod and they turn around and they’re like:


Kyle (as guards)

Oh, shit! The battery is gone. Where the hell did the battery go?


Tom

Wait, did I do that, or?


Emily

We didn’t do that.


Kyle

No. But something that has disappeared as well are those blue beetles you saw.


Tom

Motherfuckers.


Kyle

And—


Tom

Oh! I was—ugh!


Kyle

You see like, Soe is kind of nursing her head a little bit, with the headache, and you see a guard turn the corner and they’re like—no, you hear Tommy Funbuck say:


Kyle (as Tommy Funbuck)

Are you sure they’re here? Are you sure those assholes are here? They’re going to pay for it!


Kyle

And he turns the corner, and as he does, you see a blue beetle crawl its way down, out of Soe’s hair, crawl down across the grating, climb up—


[Closing theme, “Hitoshio” by Miracle of Sound, begins.]


And attach itself back onto the wing of the Blue Fairy.


Tom

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I had gathered that bit. Tom had gathered that bit.


Kyle

And Tommy just says:


Kyle (as Tommy Funbuck)

Oh!


Kyle

And then he just puts on the most unnervingly fake smile you could ever imagine. He says:


Kyle (as Tommy Funbuck)

Alright, my dudes, who’s ready for some trash?


[Closing theme intensifies.]


[1:00:00]


Tom

Ho-hooo!


Emily

Ugh!


Tom

Huh-hey!


Emily

One sec. You know why I stopped you.


Kyle

Charlie’s just—[slurping noises.] Like the Lady with Cinnabar Lips will do to all of your souls.


Tom

Ooh, I got genuinely very distressed during that speech.


Kyle (in sing-song)

Secret villain!


Tom

Like…


Emily

The Lady with Cinnabar Lips is going to lick our souls?


Tom

I definitely need to fictionally punch something right there. I was not happy with this person.


Kyle

[whispering gleefully] Oh, Lady with Cinnabar Lips!


Tom

Misha is no one’s property. Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Very clear. A message for all those who she knows are listening. Yeah. Yeah, I think I got the message. If the line hadn’t gone completely dead, I was going to try and like, open up a line of my own and like, shout back.


Kyle

Be like, fuck you!


Emily

Get off my back, mom!


Kyle

Shut up, Jafar!


Tom

[Laughter.]


[End – 1:01:05]

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Numenera and its logo are trademarks of Monte Cook Games, LLC in the U.S.A. and other countries. All Monte Cook Games characters and character names, and the distinctive likenesses thereof, are trademarks of Monte Cook Games, LLC. Content derived from Monte Cook Games publications is © 2013-2017 Monte Cook Games, LLC. Read the full disclaimer here.​

Intro/Outro music by MiracleOfSound

Intro: "Friends" (YouTube, Bandcamp)

Outro: "Hitoshio" (YouTube, Bandcamp)